Thrilling Stories Of The Ocean eBook

Thrilling Stories Of The Ocean

The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.

(c)1998-2002; (c)2002 by Gale. Gale is an imprint of The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Gale and Design and Thomson Learning are trademarks used herein under license.

The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.

The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.

All other sections in this Literature Study Guide are owned and copyrighted by BookRags, Inc.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section Page

Start of eBook1
Author:  Marmaduke Park1

Page 1

Author:  Marmaduke Park

Release Date:  October 6, 2004 [EBook #13604]

Language:  English

Character set encoding:  ASCII

*** Start of this project gutenberg EBOOK thrilling stories of the ocean ***

Produced by Josephine Paolucci, Juliet Sutherland.  The scans made available through the generosity of the Internet Archive Children’s Library.

[Illustration:  The white shark.]


Stories of the ocean.


Voyagers and travellers;




Young people.


With Numerous Illustrations.


C.G.  Henderson & Co.,

No. 164 Chestnut Street.


[Illustration:  The white shark]



The white sharks are the dread of sailors in all hot climates, for they constantly attend vessels in expectation of anything which may be thrown overboard.  A shark will thus sometimes traverse the ocean in company with a ship for several hundred leagues.  Woe to the poor mariner who may chance to fall overboard while this sea-monster is present.

Some species of sharks grow to an enormous size, often weighing from one to four thousand pounds each.  The skin of the shark is rough, and is used for polishing wood, ivory, &c.; that of one species is manufactured into an article called agreen:  spectacle-cases are made of it.  The white shark is the sailor’s worst enemy:  he has five rows of wedge-shaped teeth, which are notched like a saw:  when the animal is at rest they are flat in his mouth, but when about to seize his prey they are erected by a set of muscles which join them to the jaw.  His mouth is so situated under the head that he is obliged to turn himself on one side before he can grasp any thing with those enormous jaws.

I will now give you an account of the death of a very brave little boy, who was killed by a shark.  He was an Irish boy; his name was Volney Beckner, the son of a poor fisherman.  His father, having always intended Volney for a seafaring life, took great pains to teach him such things as it is useful for a sailor to know, and tried to make him brave and hardy; he taught him to swim when a mere baby.

Page 2

[Illustration:  Volney BECKNER’S first voyage.]

Volney was only nine years old when he first went to sea in a merchant ship; the same vessel in which his father sometimes sailed.  Here he worked hard and fared hard, but this gave him no uneasiness; his frame was robust, he never took cold, he knew not what fear was.

[Illustration:  Volney Beckner at sea.]

In the most boisterous weather, when the rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled around the ship, the little Irish boy would fearlessly and cheerfully climb the stays and sailyards, mount the topmast, or perform any other duty required of him.  At twelve years old the captain promoted the clever, good tempered, and trustworthy boy; spoke well of him before the whole crew, and doubled his pay.

Volney was very sensible to his praises.  His messmates loved him for his generous nature, and because he had often shown himself ready to brave danger in order to assist them; but an occasion soon arrived in which he had an opportunity of performing one of the most truly heroic deeds on record.

The vessel in which Volney and his father sailed was bound to Port au Prince, in St. Domingo.  A little girl, the daughter of one of the passengers, having slipped away from her nurse, ran on deck to amuse herself.  While gazing on the expanse of water, the heaving of the vessel made her dizzy, and she fell overboard.

Volney’s father saw the accident, darted after her, and quickly caught her by the dress; but while with one hand he swam to reach the ship, and with the other held the child, he saw a shark advancing towards them.  He called aloud for help; there was no time to lose, yet none dared to afford him any.  No one, did I say?  Yes, little Volney, prompted by filial love, ventured on a deed which strong men dared not attempt.

Armed with a broad, sharp sabre, he threw himself into the sea, then diving like a fish under the shark, he stabbed the weapon into his body up to the hilt.  Thus wounded the shark quitted his prey, and turned on the boy, who again and again attacked him with the sabre, but the struggle was too unequal; ropes were quickly thrown from the deck to the father and son; each succeeded in grasping one, and loud rose the cry of joy, “They are saved!” Not so!  The shark, enraged at seeing that he was about to be altogether disappointed of his prey, made one desperate spring, and tore asunder the body of the noble-hearted little boy, while his father and the fainting child in his arms were saved.

[Illustration:  The poultry basket—­A life-preserver.]


I will tell you an old story of an incident which occurred many years ago, but perhaps it may be new to you, and please you as much as it did me when I was a little girl, and used to sit on my grandpapa’s knee, and listen to this tale among many others.

Page 3

The hero of my story was a countryman; you may, if you please, fancy his neat white cottage on the hill-side, with its rustic porch, all overgrown with jasmine, roses, and clematis; the pretty garden and orchard belonging to it, with the snug poultry yard, the shed for the cow, and the stack of food for winter’s use on one side.

[Illustration:  The poultry yard.]

You may fancy the pleasure of the little children who lived at this cottage in going with their mother morning and evening to feed the poultry; the noise and bustle among the feathered tribe at this time; how some rudely push before and peck the others in their anxiety to obtain the first grains that fall from the basket, and how the little children take care that the most greedy shall not get it all; their joy at seeing the young broods of tiny chicks covered with downy feathers, and the anxiety of the hens each to protect her own from danger, and teach them to scratch and pick up food for themselves; while they never forget to admire and praise the beauty of the fine old cock, as he struts about with an air of magnificence, like the very king of the guard.

  “High was his comb, and coral red withal,
  In dents embattled like a castle wall;
  His bill was raven-black and shone like jet,
  Blue were his legs, and orient were his feet;
  White were his nails, like silver to behold! 
  His body glittering like burnished gold.”

If you had been there, you would have wished to visit the little orchard; to see the gentle cow, and the geese feeding on the common beyond; to watch the young ducklings, dipping and ducking and enjoying their watering sport in the pond.

If it be spring, the children would delight in gathering the sweet-scented meadow flowers—­the water ranunculus, with its golden cups, the modest daisy, the pink cuckoo-flower, and the yellow cowslips; while overhead the bees kept up a constant humming; they have found their way from the straw hives in the garden and are diving into the delicious blossoms of the apple and cherry trees, robbing many a one of its sweets.

[Illustration:  The Bee hive.]

But now to my history of what did really happen to a countryman, who very likely lived in such a pretty cottage as I have described.

He had more poultry in his yard than he needed for his own use; some of them had been fatted for sale; and wishing to turn them into money, he left his home, which was near Bristol, with a basket full of them on his arm.  Having reached the river, he went on board the ferry boat, intending to go across to a place called Bristol Hot-Wells.  Many gentle folks visit this spot for the sake of drinking the waters of the wells, which are thought to be very beneficial in some complaints; and no doubt our countryman hoped that among them his poultry would fetch a good price.

The ferry boat was nearly half way over the river, when, by some accident, the poor man lost his footing and fell into the stream; he could not swim, and the current carried him more than a hundred yards from the boat; but he kept fast hold of his poultry basket, which being buoyant, supported him until he was perceived, and rescued by some men in a fishing-smack.

Page 4

I hope he reached the Hot-Wells in safety after all, and sold his poultry for as much as he expected; and, what is still better, that his heart was filled with gratitude to God for his preservation from danger so imminent.

[Illustration:  The life boat.]


Oh what a stirring scene is this! see how the brave fellows are pulling with their oars, and endeavoring with all their might to reach the ship in distress before it is too late!  Well, I suppose you are curious to know how an open boat like this can float in such an angry, boiling sea.  I will tell you how it is accomplished; the sides of the boat are lined with hollow boxes of copper, which being perfectly air-tight, render her buoyant, even when full of water, or loaded to the very water’s edge.

The originator of this simple and beautiful contrivance was a London coach maker, named Lionel Lukin, a man whose benevolent feelings flowed towards all his fellow men, but more especially towards that portion of them who brave the dangers of the sea.  After devoting sixty years of his life to the pursuits of his business, he retired to Hythe in Kent, where he finished a well-spent life in peace and tranquility, dying in February, 1834.  His body was interred in the churchyard of Hythe, which is situated on rising ground, commanding a fine view of the ocean; a fit resting place for the remains of one whose talents had been successfully directed to the means of rescuing from shipwreck and a watery grave many hundreds, or perhaps we may say many thousands, of poor seamen.  He obtained a patent for his first boat in 1785.

The two sailors in the picture below are Greenwich pensioners, supported, you know, at Greenwich Hospital, which was founded by Charles II. for superannuated or wounded sailors.  They are smoking their pipes, and discussing the merits of the Life Boat.

[Illustration:  The whale.]


The whale is the largest of all known animals.  There are three kinds of whale; the Greenland, called by the sailors the right whale, as being most highly prized by them; the great northern rorqual, called by fishers the razor-back or finner, and the cachalot or spermaciti whale.  The common whale measures from sixty to seventy feet in length:  the mouth, when open, is large enough to admit a ship’s jolly boat, with all her men in it.  It contains no teeth; and enormous as the creature is, the opening to the throat is very narrow, not more than an inch and a half across in the largest whale.

[Illustration:  Whale fishing]

Instead of teeth the mouth of the whale is furnished with a curious framework of a substance called baleen; you will know it by the name of whalebone; it is arranged in rows, and projects beyond the lips in a hanging fringe; the food of the whale consists of shrimps, small fishes, sea-snails, and innumerable minute creatures, called medusae, which are found in those seas where the whales feed in such vast quantities that they make the water of a deep green or olive color.

Page 5

When feeding the whale swims with open mouth under the water, and all the objects which lie in the way of that great moving cavern are caught by the baleen, and never seen again.  Along with their food they swallow a vast quantity of water, which passes back again through the nostrils, and is collected into a bag placed at the external orifice of the cavity of the nose, whence it is expelled by the pressure of powerful muscles through a very narrow opening pierced in the top of the head.

[Illustration:  The cachalot]

In this way it spouts the water in beautiful jets from twenty to thirty feet in height.  The voice of the whale is like a low murmuring:  it has a smooth skin all over its body, under which lies that thick lard which yields the oil for which they are so much sought.  The Greenland whale has but two side-fins; its tail is in the shape of a crescent; it is an instrument of immense power; it has been sometimes known with one stroke to hurl large boats high into the air, breaking them into a thousand fragments.  The whale shows great affection for her young, which is called the calf; the fishermen well know this, and turn it to their own account; they try to strike the young with the harpoon, which is a strong, barbed instrument, and if they do this they are almost sure of securing the mother also, as nothing will induce her to leave it.

Mr. Scorseby, who was for a long time engaged in the whale fishery, has written a book containing a very interesting account of them.  He mentions a case in which a young whale was struck beside its dam.  She instantly seized and darted off with it, but not until the line had been fixed to its body.  In spite of all that could be done to her, she remained near her dying little one, till she was struck again and again, and thus both perished.  Sometimes, however, on an occasion like this, the old whale becomes furious, and then the danger to the men is very great, as they attack the whale in boats, several of which belong to each ship.

A number of these boats once made towards a whale, which, with her calf was playing round a group of rocks.  The old whale perceiving the approaching danger, did all she could to warn her little one of it, till the sight became quite affecting.  She led it away from the boats, swam round it, embraced it with her fins, and sometimes rolled over with it in the waves.

The men in the boats now rowed a-head of the whales, and drove them back among the rocks, at which the mother evinced great uneasiness and anxiety; she swam round and round the young one in lessening circles; but all her care was unheeded, and the inexperienced calf soon met its fate.  It was struck and killed, and a harpoon fixed in the mother, when, roused to reckless fury, she flew on one of the boats, and made her tail descend with such tremendous force on the very centre of it, as to cut it in two, and kill two of the men, the rest swimming in all directions for their lives.

Page 6

[Illustration:  A ship towed to land by bullocks.]


Swimming is a manly exercise, and one in which, under proper care, every little boy ought to be instructed.  In the first place it is a very healthy and invigorating practice frequently to immerse the body in water:  and when we recollect how often the knowledge of this art has been blessed by the Supreme Disposer of events as a means of saving his rational creatures from sudden death, it seems that to neglect this object is almost to refuse to avail ourselves of one of the means of safety, which a kind Providence has placed within our reach.

Only imagine yourself to be, as many before you have been, in a situation of pressing danger on the sea, and yet at no great distance from the land, so that you might hope to reach it by swimming, but to remain on board the vessel appeared certain death, how thankful you would then feel to your friends if they had put this means of escape into your power!  Or if you were to see some unfortunate fellow-creature struggling in the water, and about to disappear from your sight, how willingly, if conscious of your own power to support yourself, would you plunge into the water to his rescue! and how would your heart glow with delight if your efforts to save him should prove successful!

Here is a picture representing the very remarkable preservation of the crew of a vessel on the coast of Newfoundland.  In this instance man availed himself of the instinct which ever prompts the brute creation to self-preservation.  The ship was freighted with live cattle; in a dreadful storm she was dismasted, and became a mere wreck.  The crew being unable to manage her, it occurred to the captain, whose name was Drummond, as a last resort, to attach some ropes to the horns of some of the bullocks, and turn them into the sea.  This was done, the bullocks swam towards land and towed the ship to the shore.  Thus the lives of the crew were saved.


The Royal George was an old ship; she had seen much service.  Her build was rather short and high, but she sailed well, and carried the tallest masts and squarest canvas of any of England’s gun-ships.  She had just returned from Spithead, where there were twenty or thirty ships of war, called a fleet, lying under command of Lord Howe.  It was on the 29th of August, 1782.  She was lying off Portsmouth; her decks had been washed the day before, and the carpenter discovered that the pipes which admitted water to cleanse the ship was worn out, and must be replaced.  This pipe being three feet under the water, it was needful to heel, or lay the ship a little on one side.  To do this, the heavy guns on the larboard side were run out of the port-holes (those window-like openings which you see in the side of the vessel) as far as they would go, and the guns on the starboard side were drawn up and secured in the middle of the deck; this brought the sills of the port-holes on the lowest side nearly even with the water.

Page 7

[Illustration:  Sinking of the Royal George.]

Just as the crew had finished breakfast, a vessel called the Lark came on the low side of the ship to unship a cargo of rum; the casks were put on board on that side, and this additional weight, together with that of the men employed in unloading, caused the ship to heel still more on one side; every wave of the sea now washed in at her port-holes, and thus she had soon so great a weight of water in her hold, that slowly and almost imperceptibly she sank still further down on her side.  Twice, the carpenter, seeing the danger, went on board to ask the officer on duty to order the ship to be righted; and if he had not been a proud and angry man, who would not acknowledge himself to be in the wrong, all might yet have been well.

The plumbers had almost finished their work, when a sudden breeze blew on the raised side of the ship, forced her still further down, and the water began to pour into her lower port-holes.  Instantly the danger became apparent; the men were ordered to right the ship:  they ran to move the guns for this purpose, but it was too late.

In a minute or two more, she fell quite over on her side, with her masts nearly flat on the water, and the Royal George sank to the bottom, before one signal of distress could be given!  By this dreadful accident, about nine hundred persons lost their lives; about two hundred and thirty were saved, some by running up the rigging, and being with others picked up by the boats which put off immediately from other vessels to their assistance.  There were many visitors, women and little children on board at the time of the accident.


At the time when the dreadful event which I have just related to you occurred, the Lark sloop, which brought the cargo of rum, was lying alongside of the Royal George; in going down, the main-yard of the Royal George caught the boom of the Lark, and they sank together, but this made the position of the Royal George much more upright in the water than it would otherwise have been.  There she lay at the bottom of the sea, just as you have seen small vessels when left by the tide on a bank.  Cowper, when he heard the sad tale, thus wrote

  “Her timbers yet are sound,
    And she may float again,
  Full charged with England’s thunder,
    And plough the distant main.

  “But Kempenfelt is gone,
    His victories are o’er,
  And he, and his eight hundred
    Shall plough the wave no more.”

Admiral Kempenfelt was writing in his cabin when the ship sank; his first captain tried to inform him of their situation, but the heeling of the ship so jammed the cabin doors that he could not open them:  thus the admiral perished with the rest.  It seems Cowper thought the Royal George might be recovered; other people were of the same opinion.

Page 8

[Illustration:  Blowing up of the Royal George.]

In September of the year in which the vessel sank, a gentleman, named Tracey, living in the neighborhood, by means of diving-machines, ascertained the position and state of the ship, and made proposals to government to adopt means of raising her and getting her again afloat.  After a great many vexatious delays and interruptions on the part of those who were to have supplied him with assistance, he succeeded in getting up the Lark sloop.  His efforts to raise the Royal George were so far successful, that at every time of high tide she was lifted from her bed; and on the 9th of October she was hove at least thirty or forty feet to westward; but the days were getting short, the boisterous winds of winter were setting in, the lighters to which Tracey’s apparatus was attached were too old and rotten to bear the strain, and he was forced to abandon the attempt.

The sunken ship remained, a constant impediment to other vessels wishing to cast anchor near the spot, for nearly fifty years, when Colonel Pasley, by means of gunpowder, completely demolished the wreck:  the loose pieces of timber floated to the surface; heavier pieces—­the ship’s guns, cables, anchors, the fire-hearth, cooking utensils, and many smaller articles were recovered by the divers.  These men went down in Indian-rubber dresses, which were air and water-tight; they were furnished with helmets, in each side of which were glass windows, to admit light, and supplied with air by means of pipes, communicating with an air-pump above.  By these means they could remain under water more than an hour at a time.  I do not think you are old enough to understand the nature of Colonel Pasley’s operations.  Large hollow vessels, called cylinders, were filled with gunpowder, and attached by the divers to the wreck, these were connected by conducting wires with a battery on board a lighter above, at a sufficient distance to be out of reach of danger when the explosion took place.  Colonel Pasley then gave the word to fire the end of the rod; instantly a report was heard, and those who witnessed the explosions, say that the effect was very beautiful.  On one occasion, the water rose in a splendid column above fifty feet high, the spray sparkling like diamonds in the sun; then the large fragments of the wreck came floating to the surface; soon after the mud from the bottom, blackening the circle of water, and spreading to a great distance around; and with it rose to the surface great numbers of fish, who, poor things, had found a hiding-place in the wreck, but were dislodged and killed by the terrible gunpowder.

[Illustration:  Loss of the Melville castle.]


Page 9

Many and great are the dangers to which those who lead a seafaring life are exposed.  The lightning’s flash may strike a ship when far away from port, upon the trackless deep, or the sudden bursting of a particular kind of cloud, called a waterspout, may overwhelm her, and none be left to tell her fate.  But of all the perils to which a ship is liable, I think that of her striking on a sand-bank, or on sunken rocks is the greatest.  There must be men and women now living on the Kentish coast, in whose memory the disastrous wreck of the Melville Castle, with all its attendant horrors, is yet fresh.  It is a sorrowful tale, doubly so, inasmuch as acts of imprudence, and still worse, of obstinacy, may be said to have occasioned the loss of four hundred and fifty lives.

In the first place, the Melville Castle, or as I suppose we should call her the Vryheid, was in a very decayed state; she had been long in the East India Company’s service, and was by them sold to some Dutch merchants, who had her upper works tolerably repaired, new sheathed and coppered her, and resold her to the Dutch government, who were then in want of a vessel to carry out troops and stores to Batavia.

The Melville Castle was accordingly equipped for the voyage, painted throughout, and her name changed to the Vryheid.  On the the morning of November, 1802, she set sail from the Texel, a port on the coast of Holland, with a fair wind, which lasted till early on the following day, when a heavy gale came on in an adverse direction.

The captain immediately had the top-gallant masts and yards struck to make her ride more easily; but as the day advanced, the violence of the wind increased, and vain seemed every effort of the crew to manage the ship.  There were many mothers and little children on board, whose state was truly pitiable.  The ship was scourged onward by the resistless blast, which continued to increase until it blew a perfect hurricane.

About three in the afternoon, the mainmast fell overboard, sweeping several of the crew into the sea, and severely injuring four or five more.  By this time they were near enough to the Kentish coast to discern objects on land, but the waves which rolled mountains high prevented the possibility of any help approaching.  By great exertion the ship was brought to anchor in Hythe Bay, and for a few moments hope cheered the bosoms of those on board; it was but a few, for almost immediately she was found to have sprung a leak; and while all hands were busy at the pumps, the storm came on with increased fury.

In this dismal plight they continued till about six o’clock the following morning, when the ship parted from one of her largest anchors, and drifted on towards Dymchurch-wall, about three miles to the west of Hythe.  This wall is formed by immense piles, and cross pieces of timber, supported by wooden jetties, which stretch far into the sea.  It was built to prevent the water from overflowing a rich, level district, called Romney Marsh.

Page 10

The crew continued to fire guns and hoist signals of distress.  At daybreak a pilot boat put off from Dover, and nearing the Melville Castle, advised the captain to put back to Deal or Hythe, and wait for calmer weather, or, said the boatman, “all hands will assuredly be lost.”  But the captain would not act on his recommendation; he thought the pilot boat exaggerated the danger, hoped the wind would abate as the day opened, and that he should avoid the demands of the Dover pilot or the Down fees by not casting anchor there.  Another help the captain rejected, and bitterly did he lament it when it was too late.

No sooner had the pilot boat departed, than the commodore at Deal despatched two boats to endeavor to board the ship.  The captain obstinately refused to take any notice of them, and ordered the crew to let the vessel drive before the wind.  This they did, till the ship ran so close in shore, that the captain himself saw the imminent danger, and twice attempted to put her about, but in vain.  On the first of the projecting jetties of Dymchurch-wall the vessel struck.  I would not if I could grieve your young heart with a detail of all the horrors that ensued; the devoted ship continued to beat on the piles, the sea breaking over her with such violence, that the pumps could no longer be worked.

The foremast soon went over the ship’s side, carrying twelve seamen with it, who were swallowed up by the billows.  The rudder was unshipped, the tiller tore up the gundeck, and the water rushed in at the port-holes.  At this fearful moment most of the passengers and crew joined in solemn prayer to the Almighty.  Morning came, but it was only to witness the demolition of the wreck.

Many were the efforts made by the sufferers, some in the jolly boat, some on a raft, others by lashing themselves to pieces of timber, hogsheads, and even hencoops, to reach the shore; but out of four hundred and seventy-two persons who a few days before had left the coast of Holland, not more than eighteen escaped the raging billows.  The miserable remnant received generous attention from the inhabitants of the place, who did all in their power to aid their recovery.

[Illustration:  Burning of the Kent east Indiaman.]


This picture represents the burning of the Kent East Indiaman, in the Bay of Biscay.  She had on board in all six hundred and forty-one persons at the time of the accident.  The fire broke out in the hold during a storm.  An officer on duty, finding that a spirit cask had broken loose, was taking measures to secure it, when a lurch of the ship caused him to drop his lantern, and in his eagerness to save it, he let go the cask, which suddenly stove in, and the spirits communicated with the flame, the whole place was instantly in a blaze.  Hopes of subduing the fire at first were strong, but soon heavy volumes of smoke and a pitchy smell told that it had reached the cable-room.

Page 11

In these awful circumstances, the captain ordered the lower decks to be scuttled, to admit water.  This was done; several poor seamen being suffocated by the smoke in executing the order; but now a new danger threatened, the sea rushed in so furiously, that the ship was becoming water-logged, and all feared her going down.  Between six and seven hundred human beings, were by by this time crowded on the deck.  Many on their knees earnestly implored the mercy of an all-powerful God! while some old stout-hearted sailors quietly seated themselves directly over the powder magazine, expecting an explosion every moment, and thinking thus to put a speedier end to their torture.

In this time of despair, it occurred to the fourth mate to send a man to the foremast, hoping, but scarce daring to think it probable, that some friendly sail might be in sight.  The man at the fore-top looked around him; it was a moment of intense anxiety; then waving his hat, he cried out, “A sail, on the lee-bow!”

Those on deck received the news with heart-felt gratitude, and answered with three cheers.  Signals of distress were instantly hoisted, and endeavors used to make towards the stranger, while the minute guns were fired continuously.  She proved to be the brig Cambria, Captain Cook, master, bound to Vera Cruz, having twenty Cornish miners, and some agents of the Mining Company on board.  For about one quarter of an hour, the crew of the Kent doubted whether the brig perceived their signals:  but after a period of dreadful suspense, they saw the British colors hoisted, and the brig making towards them.

On this, the crew of the Kent got their boats in readiness; the first was filled with women, passengers, and officers’ wives, and was lowered into a sea so tempestuous as to leave small hope of their reaching the brig; they did, however, after being nearly swamped through some entanglement of the ropes, get clear of the Kent, and were safely taken on board the Cambria, which prudently lay at some distance off.

After the first trip, it was found impossible for the boats to come close alongside of the Kent, and the poor women and children suffered dreadfully, in being lowered over the stern into them by means of ropes.  Amid this gloomy scene, many beautiful examples occurred of filial and parental affection, and of disinterested friendship; and many sorrowful instances of individual loss and suffering.  At length, when all had been removed from the burning vessel, but a few, who were so overcome by fear as to refuse to make the attempt to reach the brig, the captain quitted his ill-fated ship.

The flames which had spread along her upper deck, now mounted rapidly to the mast and rigging, forming one general conflagration and lighting up the heavens to an immense distance round.  One by one her stately masts fell over her sides.  By half-past one in the morning the fire reached the powder magazine; the looked-for explosion took place, and the burning fragments of the vessel were blown high into the air, like so many rockets.

Page 12

The Cambria, with her crowd of sufferers, made all speed to the nearest port, and reached Portsmouth in safety, shortly after midnight, on the 3d of March, 1825, the accident having taken place on the 28th of February.  Wonderful to tell, fourteen of the poor creatures, left on the Kent, were rescued by another ship, the Caroline, on her passage from Alexandria to Liverpool.


The life of a pelican seems to be a very lazy, if not a very pleasant one.  Man, ever on the watch to turn the habits of animals to his own account, observing how good a fisherman the pelican is, often catches and tames him, and makes him fish for him.  I have heard of a bird of this kind in America, which was so well trained, that it would at command go off in the morning, and return at night with its pouch full, and stretched to the utmost; part of its treasure it disgorged for its master, the rest was given to the bird for its trouble.  It is hardly credible what these extraordinary pouches will hold; it is said, that among other things, a man’s leg with the boots on was once found in one of them.

Pelicans live in flocks; they and the cormorants sometimes help one another to get a living.  The cormorant is a species of pelican, of a dusky color:  it is sometimes called the sea crow.  The cormorants are the best divers, so the pelicans arrange themselves in a large circle at some great distance from the land, and flap their great wings on the surface of the water, while the cormorants dive beneath.  Away swim the poor frightened fish towards the shore; the pelicans draw into a narrower circle, and the fish at last are brought into so small a compass, that their pursuers find no difficulty in obtaining a plentiful meal.

[Illustration:  The sea turtle.]


There are two kinds of turtle; the one is called the green turtle, and is much valued as a delicious article of food; the other the hawk’s bill turtle supplies the tortoise shell of commerce, which is prepared and moulded into various forms by heat.  The flesh of the hawk’s bill turtle is considered very unwholesome.

[Illustration:  Catching turtle.]

The turtles in the picture are of the edible kind; they are found on the shores of nearly all the countries within the tropics.

There is a little rocky island in the south Atlantic Ocean, called the Island of Ascension, where they are found in vast numbers, and this barren spot is often visited by Indiamen for the purpose of obtaining some of them.  The turtles feed on the sea weed and other marine plants which grow on the shoals and sand banks, and with their powerful jaws, they crush the small sea shells which are found among the weeds.  This kind of food is always to be had in great abundance, so that the turtles have no occasion to quarrel among

Page 13

themselves, for that which is afforded in such plenty for all; indeed they seem to be a very quiet and inoffensive race, herding peaceably together on their extensive feeding-grounds, and when satisfied retiring to the fresh water at the mouth of the rivers, where they remain holding their heads above water, as if to breathe the fresh air, till the shadow of any of their numerous enemies alarms them, when they instantly dive to the bottom for security.

In the month of April, the females leave the water after sunset, in order to deposit their eggs in the sand.  By means of their fore-fins they dig a hole above high water mark, about one foot wide and two deep, into which they drop above a hundred eggs; they then cover them lightly over with a layer of sand, sufficient to hide them, and yet thin enough to admit the warmth of the sun’s rays for hatching them.  The instinct which leads the female turtle to the shore to lay her eggs, renders her a prey to man.  The fishers wait for them on shore, especially on a moonlight night, and following them in one of their journeys, either coming or returning, they turn them quickly over on their backs, before they have time to defend themselves, or to blind their assailants by throwing up the sand with their fins.

When very large, for I should tell you that the usual weight of the turtle is from four to six hundred pounds, it requires the efforts of several men to turn them over, and for this purpose they often employ levers:  the back shell of the turtle is so flat that when once over it is impossible for them to right themselves, so there the poor creatures lie in this helpless condition, till they are either taken away in the manner you see in the picture, or deposited by their captors in a crawl, which is a kind of enclosure surrounded by stakes, and so situated as to admit the influx of the sea.

The inhabitants of the Bahama Isles, catch many turtles at a considerable distance from the shore; they strike them with a spear, the head of which slips off when it has entered the body of the turtle, but it is fastened by a string to the pole, and by means of this apparatus they are able to secure them, and either take them into the boat or haul them on shore.  The length of the green turtle frequently exceeds six feet.  A boy ten years old, a son of Captain Roche, once made use of a very large shell as a boat, and ventured in it from the shore to his father’s ship which lay about a quarter of a mile off.  It was in the bay of Campeachy, off Port Royal, where the rightful occupant of this shell was caught.

[Illustration:  Wreck of the steamboat.]


Page 14

The following narrative teaches a lesson of courage and devotion such as are seldom read.  In one of the light-houses of the desolate Farne Isles, amid the ocean, with no prospect before it but the wide expanse of sea, and now and then a distant sail appearing, her cradle hymn the ceaseless sound of the everlasting deep, there lived a little child whose name was Grace Darling.  Her father was the keeper of the light-house; and here Grace lived and grew up to the age of twenty-two, her mother’s constant helpmate in all domestic duties.  She had a fair and healthy countenance, which wore a kind and cheerful smile, proceeding from a heart at peace with others, and happy in the consciousness of endeavoring to do its duty.

It was at early dawn, one September morning, in the year 1838, that the family at the Longstone light-house looked out through a dense fog which hung over the waters.  All night the sea had run extremely high, with a heavy gale from the north, and at this moment the storm continued unabated.  Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Grace were at this time the only persons in the light-house; through the dim mist they perceived the wreck of a large steam vessel on the rocks, and by the aid of their telescope the could even make out the forms of some persons clinging to her.

It was the Forfarshire steamboat on her passage from Hull to Dundee.  She left the former place with sixty-three persons on board.  She had entered Berwick Bay about eight o’clock the previous evening, in a heavy gale and in a leaky condition; the motion of the vessel soon increased the leak to such a degree that the fires could not be kept burning.  About ten o’clock she bore up off St. Abb’s Head, the storm still raging.  Soon after the engineer reported that the engines would not work; the vessel became unmanageable; it was raining heavily, and the fog was so dense that it was impossible to make out their situation.  At length the appearance of breakers close to leeward, and the Farne lights just becoming visible, showed to all on board their imminent danger.

The captain vainly tried to run the vessel between the islands and the main land, she would no longer answer the helm, and was driven to and fro by a furious sea.  Between three and four o’clock in the morning she struck with her bows foremost on a jagged rock, which pierced her timbers.  Soon after the first shock a mighty wave lifted the vessel from the rock, and let her fall again with such violence as fairly to break her in two pieces; the after part, containing the cabin with many passengers, all of whom perished, was instantly carried away through a tremendous current, while the fore part was fixed on the rock.  The survivors, only nine in number, five of the crew and four passengers, remained in this dreadful situation till daybreak, when they were descried by the family at the light-house.  But who could dare to cross the raging abyss which lay between them?

Page 15

Grace, full of pity and anxiety for the wretched people on the wreck, forgot all toil and danger, and urged her father to launch the boat; she took one oar and her father the other; but Grace had never assisted in the boat before, and it was only by extreme exertion and the most determined courage that they succeeded in bringing the boat up to the rock, and rescuing nine of their fellow creatures from a watery grave, and with the help of the crew in returning, landed all safe at the light-house.

Happy Grace Darling! she needed no other reward than the joy of her own heart and the warm thanks of those she had helped to deliver; but the news of the heroic deed soon spread, and wondering and admiring strangers came from far and near to see Grace and that lonely light-house.  Nay more, they showered gifts upon her, and a public subscription was raised with a view of rewarding her bravery, to the amount of seven hundred pounds.  She continued to live with her parents on their barren isles, finding happiness in her simple duties and in administering to their comfort, until her death, which took place little more than three years after the wreck of the Forfarshire steamer.


These wonderful appearances are caused by the action of currents of wind meeting in the atmosphere from different quarters.  They are sometimes seen on land, but much more frequently at sea, where they are very dangerous visitors.  I will try to give you some idea of what they are, and perhaps the picture may help you a little.  I dare say you have often noticed little eddies of wind whirling up dust and leaves, or any light substances which happened to be in the way; when these occur on a larger scale they are called whirlwinds.

[Illustration:  WATERSPOUTS.]

Now if a cloud happens to be exactly in the point where two such furious currents of wind meet, it is turned round and round by them with great speed and is condensed into the form of a cone; this whirling motion drives from the centre of the cloud all the particles contained in it, producing what is called a vacuum, or empty space, into which the water or any thing else lying beneath it has an irresistible tendency to rush.  Underneath the dense impending cloud, the sea becomes violently agitated, and the waves dart rapidly towards the centre of the troubled mass of water:  on reaching it they disperse in vapor, and rise, whirling in a spiral direction towards the cloud.  The descending and ascending columns unite, the whole presenting the appearance of a hollow cylinder, or tube of glass, empty within.  This, Maltebrun tells us, and he further adds, “it glides over the sea without any wind being felt; indeed several have been seen at once, pursuing different directions.  When the cloud and the marine base of the waterspout move with equal velocity, the lower cone is often seen to incline sideways, or even to bend, and finally to burst in pieces.  A noise is then heard like the noise of a cataract falling in a deep valley.  Lightning frequently issues from the very bosom of the waterspout, particularly when it breaks; but no thunder is ever heard.”

Page 16

Sailors, to prevent the danger which would arise from coming in contact with one of these tremendous columns, discharge a cannon into it:  the ball passing through it breaks the watery cylinder, and causes it to burst, just as a touch causes your beautiful soap-bubbles to vanish, and turn to water again.  These waterspouts, at sea, generally occur between the tropics, and I believe frequently after a calm, such as the poet has described in the following lines: 

  “Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
    ’Twas sad as sad could be,
  And we did speak only to break
    The silence of the sea!

  “All in a hot and copper sky,
    The bloody sun at noon,
  Right up above the mast did stand. 
    No bigger than the moon.

  “Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath, nor motion;
  As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.

  “Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
  Water, water, every where
    And not a drop to drink!”

Happily “dead calms” do not generally last so long as to lead to any serious result.  Sailors have a superstitious and foolish belief that whistling in a calm will bring up a breeze, and they do this in a drawling, beseeching tone, on some prominent part of the vessel.  Poor fellows! what a pity that their thoughts should not more frequently be directed to Him “who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span,” and whose works and wonders in the deep “they that go down to the sea in ships” have such abundant opportunity for observing.


Here we have a sailor in the act of heaving the lead, or taking soundings, which is a thing extremely necessary to be done when a ship is approaching the shore, as there is great danger of her running on a sand-bank or striking on a sunken rock.  I will now tell you how it is managed.  A sailor gets over the ship’s side, as you see in the engraving, and takes his station in what are called “the chains;” he holds in his hand a coil of rope, with the length in fathoms marked upon it; this rope has a mass of lead attached to the end of it.  At the bottom of the lead, is a hollow place, into which a piece of tallow candle is stuck, which brings up distinguishing marks from the bottom of the sea, such as small shells, sand, or mud, adhering to it.  If the tallow be only indented it is supposed to have fallen on bare rocks.  A correct account of the soundings is entered in the logbook; this book contains a description of the ship’s course, the direction of the wind, and other circumstances, during every hour of each day and night.  Having arranged the rope so as to allow it to fall freely when cast, the sailor throws the lead forward into the water, giving rope sufficient to allow it to touch the bottom; then with a sudden jerk, such as long practice alone can enable him to

Page 17

give, he raises the weight, and after examining the mark on the rope made by the water, calls out lustily, so that all forward can hear, “By the mark seven,” or “By the deep nine,” according to the case, or whatever the number of fathoms may be.  The lead-line is marked into lengths of six feet, called fathoms, by knots, or pieces of leather, or old sail-cloth.  In narrow or intricate channels, it is sometimes needful to place a man in the chains on each side of the ship, as the depth will vary a fathom or more even in the breadth of the vessel, and it is of great consequence that the leadsmen give the depth correctly, as a wrong report might cause the ship to run aground.  The time that the leadsman is employed in taking soundings is often a period of deep anxiety to the crew and passengers, especially if the vessel be near an unknown coast.  When the decrease in the number of fathoms is sudden, the captain knows that danger is near, and quickly gives orders to alter the ship’s course:  the sailors instantly obey his directions; but sometimes not all their activity and energy can save the vessel; she strikes and becomes a wreck.

Turn to the 27th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in your Bible, and you will there read the deeply interesting account of Paul’s shipwreck on the island Melita.  Life has often been compared to a voyage—­and aptly so.

You will find that you, like the mariner, are exposed to many dangers, and that you are never for one moment safe in trusting to your own skill to guide your little bark.  In watchfulness and prayer, look to your Heavenly Pilot for directions under every circumstance, often examining your own heart, as the seaman heaves the lead in danger.  Then will you be safely guided through storms and calms, amid rocks and shoals, and reach at last the blessed haven of eternal rest and peace.


A balloon is a hollow globe, made of silk, rendered air-tight by a coating of gum and resin, and enclosed within a strong network.  When filled with gas it is so much lighter than the air which surrounds us, that it will rise with heavier bodies suspended to it.  In a sort of car or boat attached, men, who are called “aeronauts,” have performed journeys through the air.

The balloon was invented by a Frenchman named Montgolfier.  Great expectations were at first entertained of this art of sailing through the air, but as yet it has not proved of much practical use.  Many disasters have at different times befallen balloon voyagers.

Many years ago, Major Mooney ascended in his balloon from Norwich, expecting from the direction of the wind that he might descend near Ipswich; but when he had risen about one mile from the earth, a violent current carried him and his balloon towards Yarmouth.  The balloon fell on the sea, about nine miles from land.  The Major supported himself for some time in the water, by holding firmly to the balloon, and was at last rescued from his dangerous situation by the crew of a cutter which was cruising on the coast.

Page 18

This was a disastrous voyage, but I think it will interest you to hear of a more successful one, performed by three gentlemen, one of whom, Mr. Green, has introduced some great improvements in the art of filling and guiding balloons.  These gentlemen left the earth in the car of a very large balloon, at half-past one o’clock, on Monday, the 7th of November, 1836, intending to proceed to some point on the continent of Europe not very distant from Paris.  They were provided with provisions for a fortnight; these, with sand-bags for ballast, cordage, and all needful apparatus for such a journey were placed in the bottom of the car, while all around hung cloaks, carpet bags, barrels of wood and copper, barometers, telescopes, lamps, spirit-flasks, coffee-warmers, &c, for you know it would be impossible for them afterwards to supply any thing which might have been forgotten.

Thus duly furnished, the balloon was rapidly borne away by a moderate breeze over the fertile fields of Kent to Dover.  It was forty-eight minutes past four when the first sound of the waves on the sea-beach broke on the voyagers’ ears:  the sun was sinking below the horizon, and as the balloon was rapidly borne into the region of mist which hung over the ocean, we must suppose something of dread and uncertainty attended the adventurer’s minds.  Scarcely, however, had they completed some arrangements, intended to render the balloon more buoyant in the heavy atmosphere, than again the sound of waves surprised them, and below were seen glittering the well-known lights of Calais and the neighboring shores.  Passing over Calais the aeronauts lowered a blue-light to give notice of their presence, but could not tell whether the inhabitants perceived it.  By this time night had completely closed in, and still the silken ball pursued its course.  So long as lights were burning in the towns and villages which it passed in rapid succession, the solitary voyagers looked down on the scene with delight; sometimes they could even catch the hum of the yet busy multitude, or the bark of a watch-dog; but midnight came, and the world was hushed in sleep.

As soon as the people were again stirring below, the guide-rope was hauled into the balloon, and the grappling-iron lowered; and after sundry difficulties from the danger of getting entangled in a wood, and grievously affrighting two ladies, who stood awhile petrified with amazement at the unusual apparition, the voyagers succeeded in alighting in a grassy valley, about six miles from the town of Weilburg, in the Duchy of Nassau.  Here every attention and accommodation was afforded them, and thus ended this remarkable journey, an extent of about five hundred British miles having been passed over in the space of eighteen hours.


John Paul Jones was a famous naval commander in the service of the United States, during the revolutionary war.  He was a native of Scotland, but having come to Virginia and settled before the war broke out, he joined the patriots as soon as hostilities commenced, and rendered the most important services through the whole of the long and arduous contest, by which our independence was acquired.

Page 19

The following account of one of his adventures is given by his biographer.

Eager to retaliate upon Britain for some predatory exploits of her sailors on the American coast, and exasperated by the resolution which the English government had taken, to treat all the supporters of independence as traitors and rebels, Captain Paul Jones entered the Irish Channel, and approaching his native shores, not as a friend, but as a determined enemy.  On the night of the 22d of April, 1778, he came to anchor in the Solway Firth, almost within sight of the trees which sheltered the house in which he first drew the breath of life.

Early next morning, he rowed for the English coast, at the head of thirty-one volunteers, in two boats, with the intention of destroying the shipping, about two hundred sail, which lay in the harbor of Whitehaven.

In this daring attempt he would probably have succeeded without difficulty, had not the strength of the opposing tide retarded his progress so much, that day began to dawn before he could gain the shore.  He despatched the smaller of the two boats to the north of the port to set fire to the vessels, whilst he led the remainder of the party to the more hazardous duty of securing the fort, which was situated on a hill to the south.  It was a cold morning, and the sentinels little aware that an enemy was so near, had retired into the guard-room for warmth, affording Jones an opportunity to take them by surprise, of which he did not fail to avail himself.  Climbing over the shoulders of the tallest of his men, he crept silently through one of the embrasures and was instantly followed by the rest.  Their first care was to make fast the door of the guard-room, and their next to spike the cannon, thirty-six in number.  Having effected this without bloodshed, they proceeded to join the detachment which had been sent to the north; and finding that a false alarm had deterred them from executing their orders, Jones instantly proceeded to set fire to the vessels within his reach.  By this time, however, the inhabitants were roused, and the invaders were obliged to retreat, leaving three ships in flames, of which one alone was destroyed.

On the same day with this adventure, another memorable occurrence took place, which contributed, for a time, to add greatly to the odium which the first had brought on his name in Britain, but which, in the end, enabled him to prove that he was possessed of the most heroic qualities.  In cruising off the coast of Galloway, it occurred to him, that, if he could get into his power a man of high rank and influence in the state, he should able, by retaining him as a hostage, to ensure to the American prisoners of war more lenient treatment than was threatened by the British government.  Knowing that the Earl of Selkirk possessed a seat at St. Mary’s Isle, a beautiful peninsula at the mouth of the Dee, and being ill-informed with regard to the political connections of that nobleman, he

Page 20

destined him for the subject of his experiment.  With that view, he landed on the Isle, about noon, with two officers and a few men; but, before they had proceeded far, he learned that his lordship was from home.  Finding his object frustrated, he now wished to return; but his crew were not so easily satisfied.  Their object was plunder; and as they consisted of men in a very imperfect state of discipline, and with whom it would have been dangerous to contend, he allowed them to proceed.  He exacted from them, however, a promise that they should be guilty of no violence; that the men should not enter the house, and that the officers, after having made their demands, should accept what might be put into their hands without scrutiny.  These conditions were punctually obeyed.  The greater part of the Selkirk plate was carried off in triumph by the crew, and Paul Jones was, for a time, stigmatized as a freebooter; but he nobly vindicated his character, by taking the earliest opportunity of purchasing the whole of it, out of his own private funds, and remitting it safe to its original owner, without accepting the smallest remuneration.  National prejudice has misrepresented this transaction; and in order to excite the popular indignation against Jones, it has been common to state, that this attempt on the person, and as it was supposed the property, of Lord Selkirk, was aggravated by ingratitude, his father having eaten of that nobleman’s bread.  Nothing can be more false.  Neither Mr. Paul, nor any of his kindred, ever was in the earl’s employ, or had ever the most distant connection with his lordship or his family; and in a correspondence which took place between our hero and Lady Selkirk, relative to the restitution of the plate, a most honorable testimony was gratefully paid by the latter to the captain’s character.

[Illustration; Nelson saved by his coxswain.]


Nelson lost the sight of one eye at the siege of Calvi, by a shot driving the sand and gravel into it, and he lost his arm by a shot in an expedition against Teneriffe; but the most dangerous of his exploits were, boarding the battery at San Bartolomeo, boarding the San Joseph, the boat action in the Bay of Cadiz, and the famous battles of the Nile and Trafalgar.  Of these, perhaps, the boat action during the blockade of Cadiz was the most severe.  While making an attempt against the Spanish gunboats, he was attacked by D. Miguel Tregayen, in an armed launch, carrying twenty-six men; fearful odds against his ten bargemen, captain, and coxswain.  Eighteen Spaniards were killed, the rest wounded, and the launch captured.

[Illustration:  Admiral Nelson.]

The Spaniards were more than two to one, and yet he beat them; but it was a hard and desperate struggle, hand to hand and blade to blade.  Twice did John Sykes, the coxswain, save Nelson’s life, by parrying off blows that would have destroyed him, and once did he interpose his head to receive the blow of a Spanish sabre; but he would willingly have died for his admiral.

Page 21

Poor Sykes was wounded badly, but not killed.

When Nelson’s health was established after the loss of his arm, he sent to the minister of St. George’s, Hanover Square, the following desire to offer up his thanksgiving:—­“An officer desires to return thanks to Almighty God for his perfect recovery from a severe wound, and also for the many mercies bestowed on him.”  Thus showing that he was humble enough to be thankful to God, and continued so in the midst of all his successes.

The following is an instance of his coolness in the hour of danger.  The late Lieutenant-General the Hon. Sir William Stewart, as lieutenant-colonel of the rifle-brigade, embarked to do duty in the fleet which was led by Sir Hyde Parker and Nelson, to the attack of Copenhagen in 1801.  “I was,” says he, “with Lord Nelson when he wrote the note to the Crown Prince of Denmark, proposing terms of arrangement.  A cannon ball struck off the head of the boy who was crossing the cabin with the light to seal it.  “Bring another candle,” said his lordship.  I observed, that I thought it might very well be sent as it was, for it would not be expected that the usual forms could be observed at such a moment.  “That is the very thing I should wish to avoid, Colonel,” replied he, “for if the least appearance of precipitation were perceptible in the manner of sending this note, it might spoil all.”  Another candle being now brought, his lordship sealed the letter, carefully enclosed in an envelope, with a seal bearing his coat of arms and coronet, and delivered it to the officer in waiting to receive it.  It is said that the moment was a critical one, and that Lord Nelson’s note decided the event.”

A seaman of the name of Hewson, who had served under Nelson, was working as a caster in a manufactory at Birmingham when Nelson visited that place.  Among other manufactories, the admiral paid a visit to that where Hewson was at work as a brass-founder; and though no employment disfigures a workman more with smoke and dust than the process of casting, the quick eye of Nelson recognized in the caster an old associate.  “What, Hewson, my lad,” said he, “are you here?” Hewson laid hold of the hair that hung over his forehead, and making an awkward bow, replied, “Yes, your honor.”  “Why, how comes this about!  You and I are old acquaintances; you were with me in the Captain when I boarded the San Joseph, were you not?” Hewson again laid hold of of his hair, and bowing, replied, “Yes, your honor.”  “I remember you well,” said Nelson; “you were one of the cleverest fellows about the vessel!  If any thing was to be done, Hewson was the lad to do.  Why, what do you here, working like a negro?  Take this,” throwing him money, “and wash the dust down your throat.”

Page 22

Hewson withdrew to a neighboring alehouse, boasting of the character the admiral had given him.  Month after month passed away, but Hewson returned not—­his shop-tools were abandoned, and no one could account for his absence.  At length a stripling, in a sailor’s jacket, entered the manufactory and said, “he was come to settle his father’s affairs.”  This was no other than Hewson’s son, from whose account it appeared, that when Hewson, somewhat elevated with liquor, but more with the praise the admiral had bestowed on him, quitted Birmingham, he walked his way down to Portsmouth, entered once more on board Lord Nelson’s ship, and fell with him in the battle of Trafalgar.

At the battle of Trafalgar, Collingwood, in the Royal Sovereign, led the lee-line of fourteen ships, Nelson, in the Victory, was at the head of the weather-line, consisting of fourteen ships.  Besides these there were four frigates.

The ships of France and Spain, opposed to the British, were in number thirty-three, with seven large frigates.  The odds were great against the English, but the superior tactics, and well-known bravery of Nelson, clothed him with power, that more than made up the difference.  When every thing was prepared for the engagement, Nelson retired into his cabin alone, and wrote down the following prayer.

“May the great God, whom I worship grant to my country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory, and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it, and may humanity after victory, be the predominant feature in the British fleet!  For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him that made me; and may his blessing alight on my endeavors for serving my country faithfully!  To him I resign myself, and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend.  Amen!  Amen!  Amen!”

He wore on the day of the battle his admiral’s frock coat, and on his left breast, over his heart, four stars of the orders of honor, which had been conferred upon him.  Those around thought it was dangerous to wear his stars, lest he should be too plainly seen by the enemy, but they were afraid to tell him so, because he had said, “In honor I gained them, and in honor I will die with them.”

The effect produced by the signal given by Lord Nelson, “England expects every man to do his duty!” was wonderful; it ran from ship to ship, from man to man, from heart to heart, like a train of gunpowder.  Officers and men seemed animated with one spirit, and that was a determination to win the day, or at least never to surrender to the enemy.

The captains commanded on their quarterdecks; the boatswains in the forecastle; the gunners attended to the magazines, and the carpenters with their plug-shots, put themselves in readiness with high-wrought energy, nor were the seamen and marines a whit behind hand in entering on their several duties.  The guns, the tackle, the round, grape, and canister-shot, the powder-boys, the captains of guns, with their priming-boxes, and the officers with their drawn swords, cut an imposing appearance; and the cock-pit would have made a rudy face turn pale.

Page 23

The wounded are all taken down into the cock-pit.  It will hardly bear thinking about.  But in the cockpit were laid out ready for use, wine, water, and surgeon’s instruments, with napkins, basins, sponges, and bandages.

The combined fleets of France and Spain, at Trafalgar, under Villenueve, the French admiral, a brave and skilful man, were in the form of a crescent, and the two British lines ran down upon them parallel to each other.  As soon as the British van was within gunshot the enemy opened their fire.  The Royal Sovereign soon rounded to under the stern of the Santa Anna, and Admiral Nelson’s ship, the Victory, laid herself on board the Redoubtable.  From that moment the roaring of guns, the crash against the sides of the ships, clouds of smoke, splintered yards, and falling masts, were the order of the day.

The death warrant of the navy of France was signed and sealed by the fight of Trafalgar.  In the heat of the action, a ball, fired from the mizzen-top of the Redoubtable, struck Admiral Nelson on the left shoulder, when he instantly fell.  “They have done for me, at last, Hardy,” said he, to his captain.

Though mortally wounded, he gave some necessary direction concerning the ship, and when carried below inquired earnestly how the battle went on.  When he knew that the victory had been gained—­for twenty ships in all struck to the British admiral—­he expressed himself satisfied.  “Now I am satisfied,” said he; “thank God, I have done my duty!” Many times he repeated this expression, and “Thank God I have done my duty;” and “Kiss me, Hardy,” were among the last words that were uttered by his lips.  Thus, with a heart full of patriotism, died the bravest commander, the most vigilant seaman, and the most ardent friend of his country, that every led on a British fleet to victory.

[Illustration:  Death of Nelson.]

Even amid the exultation of victory, a grateful country mourned his loss.  A bountiful provision was made for his family; a public funeral was awarded to his remains, and monuments in the principal cities of his native land were erected to his memory.  A sorrowing nation lamented over his bier, and Britania, indeed, felt that old England’s defender was numbered with the dead.

[Illustration:  Balboa discovering the Pacific ocean.]


Vasco Nunes de Balboa, a Spaniard, as you see by his name, was born in 1475.  He was one of the adventurers who pursued the path which Columbus had pointed out.  He led a party of Spaniards, who going out from Darien founded a colony in the neighboring regions.  Some gold being found the Spaniards got into a violent quarrel.

[Illustration:  The Indian chief disgusted at the Spaniards.]

One of the Indian chiefs being present, was so disgusted at this, that he struck the scales with which they were weighing it so hard with his fist, that the gold was scattered all about.

Page 24

“Why,” said he, “do you quarrel for such a trifle?  If you really value gold so highly, as to leave your own homes, and come and seize the lands and dwellings of others for the sake of it, I can tell you of a land where you may find it in plenty.  Beyond those lofty mountains,” said he, pointing to the south-west, “lies a mighty sea, which people sail on with vessels almost as big as yours.  All the streams that flow from the other side of these mountains abound in gold, and all the utensils of the people are made of gold.”

This was enough for Balboa.  He inquired of the Indian the best way of getting across the mountains, to find this land of gold.  The Indian kindly told him every thing he knew, but at the same time warned him not to go over there, for the Indians were many and were fierce, and would eat human flesh.  But Balboa was not to be discouraged.  He collected a band of one hundred and ninety bold and hardy men, armed with swords, targets, and cross-bows, and some blood-hounds, (for, strange to tell, the Spaniards had trained fierce dogs to hunt the Indians, and even the mild Bilboa was not ashamed to use them,) and so he set out on his expedition to the west.

Embarking with his men, September 1st, 1513, at the village of Darien, in a brigantine and nine large canoes, he sailed along the coast to the north-west, to Coyba, where the young Indian chief lived, and where the Isthmus of Darien is narrowest.  He had taken a few friendly Indians with him, as guides; and the young chief furnished him with a few more on his arrival.  Then leaving half his own men at Coyba, to guard the brigantine and canoes, he began his march for the mountains, and through the terrible wilderness.

It was the 6th of September.  The heat was excessive, and the journey toilsome and difficult.  They had to climb rocky precipices, struggle through close and tangled forests, and cross marshes, which the great rains had rendered almost impassable.  September 8th, they passed an Indian village at the foot of the mountains, but the inhabitants did not molest them; on the contrary they fled into the forests.

Here some of the men became exhausted, from the great heat and travelling in the marshes.  These were sent back, by slow marches, in the care of guides, to Coyba.  On the 20th of September they again set forward.

The wilderness was so craggy, and the forest trees and underwood so matted together, that in four days they only advanced about thirty miles, and they now began to suffer from hunger.  They also met with many rapid foaming streams, to cross some of which they had to stop and build rafts.

Now it was that they met with a numerous tribe of Indians, who, armed with bows and arrows, and clubs of palm wood, almost as hard as iron, gave them battle.  But the Spaniards, although comparatively few in numbers, with their fire-arms and bloodhounds and the aid of the friendly Indians who were with them, soon put them to flight, and took possession of their village.  Balboa’s men robbed the village of all its gold and silver, and of every thing valuable in it; and even he himself, whose heart the love of gold had begun already to harden, shared with his men the plunder.

Page 25

It was a dear bought victory, however; for though the Indians had lost six hundred of their number in the contest, they could easily recruit their forces.  But Balboa, whose band was now reduced, by sickness and the contest, from ninety-five men to sixty-seven, had no means of adding to their strength, but was forced to proceed with what forces he had.

Early the next morning after the battle, they set out on their journey up the mountain.  About ten o’clock they came out of the tangled forest, and reached an open space, where they enjoyed the cool breezes of the mountains.  They now began to take a little courage.  Their joy was heightened still more, when they heard one of the Indian guides exclaim, “The sea! the sea!”

Balboa commanded his men to stop; and resolving to be the first European who should behold this new sea, he forbade his men to stir from their places till he called them.  Then ascending to the summit of the height, which the Indian had mounted, he beheld the sea glittering in the morning sun.

Calling now upon his little troop to ascend the height, and view the noble prospect along with him, “behold,” said he, “the rich reward of our toil.  This is a sight upon which no Spaniard’s eye ever before rested.”  And in their great joy the leader and his men embraced each other.

Balboa then took possession of the sea and coast, and the surrounding country, in the name of the King of Spain; and having cut down a tree, and made it into the form of a cross—­for they were Catholics—­he set it up on the very spot where he first beheld the grand Pacific Ocean.  He also made a high mound, by heaping up large stones, upon which he carved the king’s name.  This was on September 26th, 1513.

Not content with seeing the ocean, Balboa determined to visit it.  Arriving, after much toil, at one of the bays on the coast, he called it St. Michael’s Bay.  Coming to a beach a mile or two long, “If this is a sea,” said he, “it will soon be covered with water; let us wait and see if there be a tide.”  So he seated himself under a tree, and the water soon began to flow.  He tasted it and found it salt; and then waded up to his knees in it, and took possession of it in the name of his king.

[Illustration:  Death of Balboa.]

Balboa’s heart was now so lifted up by success, and his whole nature so changed, that he was ready to fight and destroy every Indian tribe that opposed his progress.  But he had not always the best of it.  On one occasion he was lost, with one or two followers, and having been seized by some natives, carried immediately before their cazique, or chief.  He was seated on a raised seat, covered with a panther’s skin, and bore a single feather of the vulture upon his head.  Beside him stood his slaves, to fan him, and screen his head from the sun, and around him warriors, with the sculls of their enemies fixed upon their spears:  which made the whole scene very horrible.

Page 26

Balboa humbled himself before the chief; and taking off his coat, profusely decorated, offered it as a peace offering.  The cazique would not accept it, but said, “You are poor and desolate—­I am rich and powerful.  I will not hurt you, though you are my enemy.”  He then ordered him safe conduct through the forests; and Balboa regained his own people, the Spaniards, in safety.  This escape softened Balboa’s heart, and he never afterwards treated the Indians with the same severity.

After many victories, and many other singular escapes, he returned back to Coyba.  But the sufferings of his men, in returning, were extreme, for want both of water and provisions.  The streams were most of them dried up, and provisions could not be found.  Gold they indeed had, almost as much as they could carry, and the Indians kept bringing them more; but this they could not eat or drink, and it would not buy what was not to be bought.

He arrived at Darien after about two months’ absence, having lost nearly all his men, by war and sickness.  His discovery made a great noise, and procured him much honor, but he did not live to enjoy it.

A new governor was appointed in his place, who, having a mortal hatred to Balboa, threw him into prison, and, after a mock trial, had him beheaded, in 1517, in his 48th year.

[Illustration:  Admiral Keppel.]


When Admiral Keppel was sent to the Dey of Algiers, to demand restitution of two ships which the pirates had taken, he sailed with his squadron into the Bay of Algiers, and cast anchor in front of the Dey’s palace.  He then landed, and, attended only by his captain and barge’s crew, demanded an immediate audience of the Dey.  This being granted, he claimed full satisfaction for the injuries done to the subjects of his Britannic Majesty.  Surprised and enraged at the boldness of the admiral’s remonstrance, the Dey exclaimed, “that he wondered at the English King’s insolence in sending him a foolish, beardless boy.”  A well-timed reply from the admiral made the Dey forget the laws of all nations in respect to ambassadors, and he ordered his mutes to attend with the bow-string, at the same time telling the admiral he should pay for his audacity with his life.  Unmoved by this menace, the admiral took the Dey to the window facing the bay, and showed him the English fleet riding at anchor, and told him that if he dared put him to death there were men enough in that fleet to make him a glorious funeral-pile.  The Dey was wise enough to take the hint.  The admiral obtained ample restitution, and came off in safety.

[Illustration:  Loss of the Cataraque.]


The Cataraque, Captain C.W.  Findlay, sailed from Liverpool, on the 20th of April, 1849, with three hundred and sixty emigrants, and a crew including two doctors, (brothers,) of forty-six souls.  The emigrants were principally from Bedfordshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Northamptonshire.  About one hundred and twenty of the passengers were married, with families, and in all seventy-three children.

Page 27

On the 3d of August, at seven o’clock in the evening, the ship was hove to, and continued lying to until three A.M. of the 4th.  At half past four, being quite dark, and raining hard, blowing a fearful gale, the ship struck on a reef, situated on the west coast of King’s Island, at the entrance of Bass’s Straights.

Immediately after the ship struck, she was sounded, and it was ascertained that there was four feet of water in the hold.  An awful scene of confusion and misery ensued.  All the passengers attempted to rush upon deck, and many succeeded in doing so, until the heaving of the vessel knocked down the ladders, when the shrieks from below, calling on those on deck to assist them were terrific.  The crew were on deck the moment the ship struck, and were instantly employed in handing up the passengers.  Up to the time the vessel began breaking up, the crew succeeded in getting upwards of three hundred passengers on deck.  But a terrible fate awaited the greater part of them.

The day dawned.  The stern of the vessel was found to be washed in, and numerous dead bodies were found floating round the ship; some clinging to the rocks which they had grasped in despair.  About two hundred of the passengers and crew held on to the vessel, although the raging sea was breaking over her, and every wave washed some of them to a watery grave.  In this manner, kindred were separated, while those who remained could only expect the same fate to reach them.  Things continued in this condition until four in the afternoon, when the vessel parted amidships, at the fore part of the main rigging, and immediately between seventy and a hundred persons were thrown into the waves.  Thus the insatiable ocean swallowed its prey piece-meal.  About five, the wreck parted by the fore-rigging, and so many persons were thrown into the sea, that only seventy were left on the forecastle, they being lashed to the wreck.  Even these were gradually diminished in number, some giving out from exhaustion, and others anticipating fate, by drowning themselves.

When day dawned, on the following morning, only about thirty persons were left alive, and these were almost exhausted.  The sea was making a clean breach into the forecastle, the deck of which was rapidly breaking up.  Parents and children, husbands and wives, were seen floating around the vessel, many in an embrace, which even the ocean’s power could not sunder.  The few who remained alive could only look up to heaven for a hope of safety.  Soon after daylight, the vessel totally disappeared, and out of four hundred and twenty-three persons who had been on board the vessel, only nine were saved by being washed on shore, and these were nearly exhausted.

[Illustration:  Loss of the Francis Spaight.]


On the morning of the 7th of January, 1848, the barque Francis Spaight, lying in Table Bay, at the Cape of Good Hope, parted her anchor, and in attempting to beat out, grounded, broadside on the beach.  The gale at the time she struck was furious, and the surf tremendous, making a clean breach over the vessel, carrying away the bulwark, long boat, main hatch, and part of the deck, with one of the crew.

Page 28

The shore was thronged with the inhabitants of Cape Town, anxious for the fate of the vessel.  An attempt was made to send a rope from the land to the wreck, but the rope broke.  Rockets were fired with lines attached, and one was thrown across the foremast stay, where none of the men could reach it, on account of the fearful rolling of the sea.  After some extraordinary delay, a whale boat was brought from the town, and manned by six daring fellows, who dashed through the surf, and were soon alongside the vessel.

All except the carpenter, fifteen in number, got into the boat, and pushed off.  At this moment a terrific sea upset the boat, and twenty-one persons were struggling in the surf for life.  The people on the beach were horror-stricken; and men on horseback were seen plunging into the sea, risking their lives to save their fellow-creatures; but eighteen sunk to rise no more.  The masts of the vessel fell with a tremendous crash, but the carpenter still clung to the wreck.  At length a surf-boat, towed by a smaller one, proceeded towards the wreck.  One of these boats was capsized, and two lives lost.  But the carpenter was rescued.  This man, (James Robertson,) and John McLeod, seaman, were all of the crew that reached the shore.  The inhabitants of Cape Town were all anxiety in regard to the fate of the vessel; and those daring heroes who sacrificed themselves for the sake of their fellow men were worthy of a monument as lofty as those erected to the bravest warriors.

The place where the Francis Spaight went ashore had been, a short time previous, the scene of a far more terrible disaster.  This was the wreck of the ship Waterloo, by which two hundred persons were lost, in spite of the most extraordinary and heroic exertions on the part of the inhabitants of Cape Town.

The bay is very much exposed to storms, and its shores are particulary dangerous, on account of their shelving character.  The Francis Spaight had just put into the bay for the purpose of obtaining a supply of provisions, and it was intended that she should sail the next day.  But the Ruler of the elements intended it otherwise.  Her cargo was nearly a total loss.


The ship Golden Rule, Captain Austin, sailed from Wiscasset, with a cargo of timber, September, 8, 1807.

On the 29th, she experienced a severe gale from the south-east; and at eight o’clock, A.M., they discovered that she had sprung a leak, and had four feet of water in her hold; at nine it had increased to eight feet, notwithstanding they had two pumps going, and were throwing her deck load overboard, which they were enabled to do very slowly, from the sea driving the planks about the deck, and wounding the crew.

About ten o’clock, the water had risen to twelve feet, and the gale had also evidently increased; the crew and all on board were quite exhausted; and on going into the cabin they found she was welling fast.  The main and mizzen masts were now cut away, to prevent her upsetting, and she was quite clear of her deck load.  At eleven o’clock she was full up to her main deck, and all her bulk heads were knocked away.

Page 29

It now occurred to some of the crew, to endeavor to save some bread; and Mr. Boyd, the first mate, with great resolution, went into the cabin and gave out some bread, and two bottles of rum; but so rapidly did she fill, from the timber of her cargo shifting, that he was forced to break through the sky-light to save himself.  Their small stock of provisions was now put into the binnacle, as a secure place.  It had been there but a few minutes, when a tremendous sea struck them, and carried away the binnacle.

They had now little hope left—­the wheel was broken, and they proceeded to secure themselves as well as they could, some in the fore-top, and the rest were lashing themselves to the taffrail; before they could accomplish the latter plan, another sea, if possible, more heavy than the former, hurried them all from their places, and washed two of the men overboard; they were seen swimming for the ship, a short time, when a wave hurried them from the sight of their lamenting comrades.

They now endeavored to keep the ship before the wind, which they were partially enabled to do through the night.  The next day another man died from cold and hunger.

The deck was now blown up, and her side stove in, all hands had given themselves up, when, on the 30th at noon, they were roused by the cry of “a sail!” and they had the satisfaction to see her bear down for them.  She was the brig George, of Portland; and Captain Wildridge sent his long-boat to take them from the wreck.


The masses of ice by which the ocean is traversed assume a vast variety of shapes, but may be comprehended in two general classes.  The first consists of sheets of ice, analogous to those which annually cover the the lakes and rivers of northern lands.  They present a surface which is generally level, but here and there diversified by projections, called hummocks, which arise from the ice having been thrown up by some pressure or force to which it has been subject.  Sheets of ice, which are so large that their whole extent of surface cannot be seen from the masthead of a vessel, are called fields.  They have sometimes an area of more than a hundred square miles, and rise above the level of the sea from two to eight feet.  When a piece of ice, though of a considerable size, can be distinguished in its extent, it is termed a floe.  A number of sheets, large or small, joining each other, and stretching out in any particular direction, constitute a stream.  Captain Cook found a stream extending across Behring’s Straits, connecting eastern Asia with the western extremity of North America.  Owing to the vast extent of some fields of ice, they would undoubtedly be conducted to a lower latitude in the Atlantic before their dissolution, under the influence of a warmer climate, but for the intervention of other causes. 

Page 30

It frequently happens that two masses are propelled against each other, and are both shivered into fragments by the violence of the concussion.  The ordinary swell of the ocean also acts with tremendous power upon a large tract, especially when it has been so thawed as to have become thin, and breaks it up into a thousand smaller pieces in a very short period.  The danger of being entrapped between two ice-fields coming into contact with each other is one of the perils which the navigator has frequently to encounter in the northern seas; and fatal to his vessel and his life has the occurrence often been, while in a vast number of instances escape has seemed almost miraculous.

“At half-past six,” says Captain Ross, relating to his first voyage of discovery, in the Isabella, to the arctic regions, with Captain Parry, in the Alexander, “the ice began to move, and, the wind increasing to a gale, the only chance left for us was to endeavor to force the ship through it to the north, where it partially opened; but the channel was so much obstructed by heavy fragments, that our utmost efforts were ineffectual; the ice closed in upon us, and at noon we felt its pressure most severely.  A large floe, which lay on one side of the Isabella, appeared to be fixed; while, on the other side, another of considerable bulk was passing along with a rapid motion, assuming a somewhat circular direction, in consequence of one side having struck on the fixed field.  The pressure continuing to increase, it became doubtful whether the ship would be able to sustain it; every support threatened to give way, the beams in the hold began to bend, and the iron tanks settled together.

“At this critical moment, when it seemed impossible for us to bear the accumulating pressure much longer, the hull rose several feet; while the ice, which was more than six feet thick, broke against the sides, curling back on itself.  The great stress now fell upon our bow; and, after being again lifted up, we were carried with great violence towards the Alexander which had hitherto been, in a great measure, defended by the Isabella.  Every effort to avoid their getting foul of each other failed; the ice-anchors and cables broke one after another; and the sterns of the two ships came so violently into contact, as to crush to pieces a boat that could not be removed in time.  The collision was tremendous, the anchors and chain-plates being broken, and nothing less than the loss of the masts expected; but at this eventful instant, by the interposition of Providence, the force of the ice seemed exhausted; the two fields suddenly receded, and we passed the Alexander with comparatively little damage.  A clear channel soon after opened, and we ran into a pool, thus escaping the immediate danger; but the fall of snow being very heavy, our situation still remained doubtful, nor could we conjecture whether we were yet in a place of safety.  Neither the masters, the mates, nor those men who had been all their lives in the Greenland service, had ever experienced such imminent peril; and they declared, that a common whaler must have been crushed to atoms.”

Page 31

Captain Scoresby relates a similar narrow escape from destruction owing to the same cause.  “In the year 1804,” he observes, “I had an opportunity of witnessing the effects produced by the lesser masses in motion.  Passing between two fields of ice newly formed, about a foot in thickness, they were observed rapidly to approach each other, and, before our ship could pass the strait, they met with a velocity of three or four miles per hour.  The one overlaid the other, and presently covered many acres of surface.  The ship proving an obstacle to the course of the ice, it squeezed up on both sides, shaking her in a dreadful manner, and producing a loud grinding or lengthened acute trembling noise, according as the degree of pressure was diminished or increased, until it had risen as high as the deck.  After about two hours the motion ceased, and soon afterwards the two sheets of ice receded from each other nearly as rapidly as they had before advanced.  The ship in this case did not receive any injury; but, had the ice only been half a foot thicker, she might have been wrecked.”  Other navigators have not been so fortunate; and the annual loss of whaling vessels in the polar seas is considerable, the Dutch having had as many as seventy-three sail of ships wrecked in one season.  Between the years 1669 and 1778, both inclusive, or a period of one hundred and seven years, they sent to the Greenland fishery fourteen thousand one hundred and sixty-seven ships, of which five hundred and sixty-one, or about four in the hundred, were lost.

Every one will remember the intense and mournful interest occasioned by the loss of the President steamer which left New York in the year 1841 to cross the Atlantic, but perished in the passage, without leaving a survivor to tell the story of her fate.  It has been deemed highly probable that this vessel got entangled in the ice, and was destroyed by collision with its masses; for during that year, in the month of April, the Great Western steamer encountered a field extending upwards of a hundred miles in one direction, surrounded with an immense number of floes and bergs, and had great difficulty in effecting its passage by this floating continent in safety.

Another form under which the ice appears in the ocean is that of bergs, which differ from the ice-fields in shape and origin.  They are masses projecting to a great height above the surface of the water, and have the appearance of chalk or marble cliffs and mountains upon the deep.  They have been seen with an elevation of two hundred feet—­a circumference of two miles:  and it has been shown by experiments on the buoyancy of ice floating in sea water, that the proportion above the surface is only about one-seventh of the thickness of the whole mass.  During the first expedition of Ross, he found an ice berg in Baffin’s Bay, at a distance of seven leagues from the land, which was measured by a party under Lieutenant Parry.  Considerable difficulty was experienced in the attempt to land,

Page 32

as, in rowing round the berg, they found it perpendicular in every place but one.  When they had ascended to the top, which was perfectly flat, they discovered a white bear in quiet possession of the mass, who plunged into the sea without hesitation, and effected his escape.  The party found the ice berg to be four thousand one hundred and sixty-nine yards long, three thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine yards broad, and fifty-one feet high, being aground in sixty-one fathoms.  Its appearance was like that of the back of the Isle of Wight, and the cliffs resembled those of the chalk range to the west of Dover.  The weight of this mass was calculated to amount to one billion two hundred and ninety two millions three hundred and ninety seven thousand six hundred and seventy-three tons.

[Illustration:  A white bear.]

An ice berg examined by Captain Graah, on the east coast of Greenland, rose one hundred and twenty feet out of the water, had a circumference of four thousand feet at the base, and its solid contents were estimated to be upwards of nine hundred millions of cubic feet.  When viewed at a distance, nothing can be more interesting than the appearance of a considerable number of these formations, exhibiting an infinite variety of shape, and requiring no stretch of imagination to convert them into a series of floating towers, castles, churches, obelisks, and pyramids, or a snowy range of Alpine heights.  No pencil, an observer has remarked, has ever given any thing like the true effect of an ice berg.  In a picture they are huge, uncouth masses, stuck in the sea; while their chief beauty and grandeur—­their slow stately motion, the whirling of the snow about their summits, and the fearful crackling of their parts—­they cannot give.  The ice of the bergs is compact and solid, or of a fine green tint verging to blue; and large pieces may be frequently obtained, equal to the most beautiful crystal in transparency.  It is stated by Scoresby, that with a portion of this ice, of by no means regular convexity, used as a burning lens, he has frequently burnt wood, fired gunpowder, melted lead, and lit the sailors’ pipes, to their no small astonishment, the ice itself remaining in the mean while perfectly fixed and pellucid.


The Atahualpa, of Boston, left that port in August, 1803, bound to the north-west coast of America, for the purpose of trading with the natives.  She arrived on the coast in the month of January, 1804; and, after visiting the several islands, and purchasing skins, on the 5th of June, 1805, weighed anchor from Chockokee, on the north-west coast, and made sail.  On the 8th, arrived at Millbank sound, and came to an anchor within musket-shot of the village.  Soon after her arrival, the chief of the Indians, by the name of Keite, came off to the ship, with some of his tribe, and informed the captain that the Caroline, Captain Sturgess, had sailed from thence ten days before.

Page 33

On the 11th, the chief came off again, with his tribe, and another tribe that was there, and traded very briskly till towards night, when becoming very insolent, they were all turned out of the ship.

On the 13th, Keite and his tribe came on board in the morning, and seemed much more desirous to trade than before, which Captain Porter was very glad to see.  The chief mate and two of the ship’s company, were then engaged in ripping the main-sail in pieces, on the quarter-deck; the second mate with two hands was repairing the top-sail; two on the starboard side of the main-deck, spinning spun yarn; two more on the forecastle, making sinnet; two more on the larboard side of the main-deck, running shot in the armorer’s forge; the cooper was making tubs; the cook, and captain’s steward in the galley, at their duty; and all hands, as usual, employed on the ship’s duty; the armorer was in the steerage, and the boatswain in the cabin; Captain Porter, Mr. Ratstraw, his clerk, and Mr. Lyman Plummer, (nephew of Theodore Lyman, Esq. of Boston, ship owner,) were standing on the larboard side of the quarter-deck, abreast of the cabin hatchway.

The chief, Keite, stood leaning on the rail, and called Captain Porter to look at the skins that were in the canoe, alongside the ship; the captain accordingly went to look over the side, when the chief, with some more Indians, laid hold of him, and gave a shout.  Immediately all the Indians alongside of the canoe, and those on board, armed with daggers, pistols, pikes, and other weapons, seized every man on deck, who were totally unprepared for so sudden an attack.  A most dreadful and sanguinary contest immediately took place; when, after a short but bloody engagement of about five minutes, the deck was immediately cleared of them.

There were about two hundred Indians, it is supposed, on board at this time; they first daggered Captain Porter several times in the back, put him in a canoe alongside, and carried him on shore; and, as we were afterwards informed by Captain Smith, of the ship Mary, of Boston, who was informed by the New Hecta tribe, was by them tied to a tree, in which unhappy and miserable situation he languished fifteen days, refusing every species of nourishment offered him by these savages, occasioned by his grief at this unfortunate accident.

Previous to this fatal business, there were twenty-three hands on board; ten of whom were barbarously killed, and nine wounded.  Among the killed were, Captain Oliver Porter, Mr. John Hill, chief mate; Daniel Gooding, second mate; John D. Katstraw, captain’s clerk; Mr. Lyman Plummer, Peter Shooner, Luther Lapham, Samuel Lapham, seamen; Isaac Lammes, cooper; and John Williams, cook.  Mr. Lyman Plummer survived about two hours after he was wounded.  The cook, who was most shockingly cut and mangled, languished till about six o’clock the next morning.

Page 34

Among the wounded were, Ebenezer Baker, seaman, most dangerously, with daggers, he having two stabs in his left thigh, one in his groin, one in his back, one in his breast, and one in his neck; Henry Thompson, seaman, very dangerously, with daggers, having one wound on the right side, one on the left shoulder, another on the left arm, and two or three smaller ones on the same arm, one on the right temple, and another on the left cheek; Ebenezer Williams, seaman, had three wounds in his thigh, with daggers,—­two on his back, and one on the right shoulder with a boarding-pike; Luke Bates, seamen, one wound on the right shoulder with a boarding-pike; Joseph Robinson, carpenter, wounded on the left breast; Thomas Edwards, steward, stabbed on the left shoulder; W. Walker had two stabs, with daggers, in his back.

After the deck was cleared of these sanguinary savages, several guns were fired at the village, the sails were loosened, stream-cable cut, and the ship put to sea.  The same night they got under weigh, seven large war-canoes hove in sight, with about thirty Indians in each.  In this deplorable condition, with only four or five hands on board capable of duty, the Atahualpa shaped her course for New Heita; but the wind chopping round, put about, and stood to the westward.

On the 17th, it was thought time to bury the dead, when, after having sewed them up, and got them ready for interment, prayers were read.  They were then buried in Queen Charlotte’s Sound.

It cannot be ascertained with any degree of accuracy, how many of the Indians were killed in this dreadful contest.  It is supposed, however, that the number must have exceeded forty; for a large canoe being under the ship’s bow, with about twenty Indians in her, who were cutting a cable, a swivel and several muskets were fired into her, and but one of the Indians reached the shore in safety.

During the conflict with the savages, there were two barrels of powder unheaded, and a loaded pistol prepared and given to a person who stood ready, should they get into the cabin, and secure to themselves the ship, to fire into it, and blow the whole up, preferring to die in that manner rather than fall into the hands of such merciless wretches.

[Illustration:  Shipwreck of the Blendenhall.]


In the year 1821, the Blendenhall, free trader, bound from England for Bombay, partly laden with broad-cloths, was proceeding on her voyage with every prospect of a successful issue.  While thus pursuing her way through the Atlantic, she was unfortunately driven from her course, by adverse winds and currents, more to the southward and westward than was required, and it became desirable to reach the island of Tristan d’Acunha, in order to ascertain and rectify the reckoning.  This island, which is called after the Portuguese admiral who first discovered it, is one of a group of three, the others being the Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands, situated many hundreds of miles from any land, and in a south-westerly direction from the Cape of Good Hope.  The shores are rugged and precipitous in the extreme, and form, perhaps, the most dangerous coast upon which any vessel could be driven.

Page 35

It was while steering to reach this group of islands, that, one morning, a passenger on board the Blendenhall, who chanced to be upon deck earlier than usual, observed great quantities of sea-weed occasionally floating alongside.  This excited some alarm, and a man was immediately sent aloft to keep a good look-out.  The weather was then extremely hazy, though moderate; the weeds continued; all were on the alert; they shortened sail, and the boatswain piped for breakfast.  In less than ten minutes, “breakers ahead!” startled every soul, and in a moment all were on deck.  “Breakers starboard! breakers larboard! breakers all around,” was the ominous cry a moment afterwards, and all was confusion.  The words were scarcely uttered, when, and before the helm was up, the ill-fated ship struck, and after a few tremendous shocks against the sunken reef, she parted about mid-ship.  Ropes and stays were cut away—­all rushed forward, as if instinctively, and had barely reached the forecastle, when the stern and quarter-deck broke asunder with a violent crash, and sunk to rise no more.  Two of the seamen miserably perished—­the rest, including officers, passengers and crew, held on about the head and bows—­the struggle was for life!

At this moment, the Inaccessible Island, which till then had been veiled in thick clouds and mist, appeared frowning above the haze.  The wreck was more than two miles from the frightful shore.  The base of the island was still buried in impenetrable gloom.  In this perilous extremity, one was for cutting away the anchor, which had been got up to the cat-head in time of need; another was for cutting down the foremast (the foretop-mast being already by the board.) The fog totally disappeared, and the black rocky island stood in all its rugged deformity before their eyes.  Suddenly the sun broke out in full splendor, as if to expose more clearly to the view of the sufferers their dreadful predicament.  Despair was in every bosom—­death, arrayed in all its terrors, seemed to hover over the wreck.  But exertion was required, and every thing that human energy could devise was effected.  The wreck, on which all eagerly clung, was fortunately drifted by the tide and wind between ledges of sunken rocks and thundering breakers, until, after the lapse of several hours, it entered the only spot on the island where a landing was possibly practicable, for all the other parts of the coast consisted of perpendicular cliffs of granite, rising from amidst the deafening surf to the height of twenty, forty, and sixty feet.  As the shore was neared, a raft was prepared, and on this a few paddled for the cove.  At last the wreck drove right in:  ropes were instantly thrown out, and the crew and passengers, (except two who had been crushed in the wreck,) including three ladies and a female attendant, were snatched from the watery grave, which a few short hours before had appeared inevitable, and safely landed on the beach.  Evening had now set in, and every

Page 36

effort was made to secure whatever could be saved from the wreck.  Bales of cloth, cases of wine, a few boxes of cheese, some hams, the carcass of a milch cow that had been washed on shore, buckets, tubs, butts, a seaman’s chest, (containing a tinder-box and needles and thread,) with a number of elegant mahogany turned bed-posts, and part of an investment for the India market, were got on shore.  The rain poured down in torrents—­all hands were busily at work to procure shelter from the weather; and with the bed-posts and broad-cloths, and part of the foresail, as many tents were soon pitched as there were individuals on the island.

Drenched with the sea and with the rain, hungry, cold, and comfortless, thousands of miles from their native land, almost beyond expectation of human succor, hope nearly annihilated,—­the shipwrecked voyagers retired to their tents.  In the morning the wreck had gone to pieces; and planks, and spars, and whatever had floated in, were eagerly dragged on shore.  No sooner was the unfortunate ship broken up, than deeming themselves freed from the bonds of authority, many began to secure whatever came to land:  and the captain, officers, passengers, and crew, were now reduced to the same level, and obliged to take their turn to fetch water, and explore the island for food.  The work of exploring was soon over—­there was not a bird, nor a quadruped, nor a single tree to be seen.  All was barren and desolate.  The low parts were scattered over with stones and sand, and a few stunted weeds, rocks, ferns, and other plants.  The top of the mountain was found to consist of a fragment of original table-land, very marshy, and full of deep sloughs, intersected with small rills of water, pure and pellucid as crystal, and a profusion of wild parsley and celery.  The prospect was one dreary scene of destitution, without a single ray of hope to relieve the misery of the desponding crew.  After some days, the dead cow, hams, and cheese, were consumed; and from one end of the island to the other, not a morsel of food could be seen.  Even the celery began to fail.  A few bottles of wine, which, for security had been secreted under ground, only remained.  Famine now began to threaten.  Every stone near the sea was examined for shell-fish, but in vain.

In this dreadful extremity, and while the half-famished seamen were at night squatting in sullen dejection round their fires, a large lot of sea-birds, allured by the flames, rushed into the midst of them, and were greedily laid hold of as fast as they could be seized.  For several nights in succession, similar flocks came in; and by multiplying their fires a considerable supply was secured.  These visits, however, ceased at length, and the wretched party were exposed again to the most severe privation.  When their stock of wild fowl had been exhausted for more than two days, each began to fear they were now approaching that sad point of necessity, when, between death and

Page 37

casting lots who should be sacrificed to serve for food for the rest, no alternative remained.  While horror at the bare contemplation of an extremity so repulsive occupied the thoughts of all, the horizon was observed to be suddenly obscured, and presently clouds of penguin alighted on the island.  The low grounds were actually covered; and before the evening was dark, the sand could not be seen for the number of eggs, which, like a sheet of snow, lay on the surface of the earth.  The penguins continued on the island four or five days, when, as if by signal, the whole took their flight, and were never seen again.  A few were killed, but the flesh was so extremely rank and nauseous that it could not be eaten.  The eggs were collected and dressed in all manner of ways, and supplied abundance of food for upwards of three weeks.  At the expiration of that period, famine once more seemed inevitable; the third morning began to dawn upon the unfortunate company after their stock of eggs were exhausted; they had now been without food for more than forty hours, and were fainting and dejected; when, as though this desolate rock were really a land of miracles, a man came running up to the encampment with the unexpected and joyful tidings that “millions of sea-cows had come on shore.”  The crew climbed over the ledge of rocks that flanked their tents, and the sight of a shoal of manatees immediately beneath them gladdened their hearts.  These came in with the flood, and were left in the puddles between the broken rocks of the cove.  This supply continued for two or three weeks.  The flesh was mere blubber, and quite unfit for food, for not a man could retain it on his stomach; but the liver was excellent, and on this they subsisted.  In the meantime, the carpenter with his gang had constructed a boat, and four of the men had adventured in her for Tristan d’Acunha, in hopes of ultimately extricating their fellow-sufferers from their perilous situation.  Unfortunately the boat was lost—­whether carried away by the violence of the currents that set in between the islands, or dashed to pieces against the breakers, was never known, for no vestige of the boat or crew was ever seen.  Before the manatees, however, began to quit the shore, a second boat was launched; and in this an officer and some seamen made a second attempt, and happily succeeded in effecting a landing, after much labor, on the island, where they were received with much cordiality and humanity by Governor Glass—­a personage whom it will be necessary to describe.

Tristan d’Acunha is believed to have been uninhabited until 1811, when three Americans took up their residence upon it, for the purpose of cultivating vegetables, and selling the produce, particularly potatoes, to vessels which might touch there on their way to India, the Cape, or other parts in the southern ocean.  These Americans remained its only inhabitants till 1816, when, on Bonaparte being sent to St. Helena, the British government deemed it expedient to garrison

Page 38

the island, and sent the Falmouth man-of-war with a colony of forty persons, which arrived in the month of August.  At this time the chief of the American settlers was dead, and two only survived; but what finally became of these we are not informed.  The British garrison was soon given up, the colony abandoned, and all returned to the Cape of Good Hope, except a person named Glass, a Scotchman, who had been corporal of artillery, and his wife, a Cape Creole.  One or two other families afterwards joined them, and thus the foundation of a nation on a small scale was formed; Mr. Glass, with the title and character of governor, like a second Robinson Crusoe, being the undisputed chief and lawgiver of the whole.  On being visited in 1825, by Mr. Augustus Earle, the little colony was found to be on the increase, a considerable number of children having been born since the period of settlement.  The different families inhabited a small village, consisting of cottages covered with thatch made of the long grass of the island, and exhibiting an air of comfort, cleanliness, and plenty, truly English.

It was to this island that the boat’s crew of the Blendenhall had bent their course, and its principal inhabitant, Governor Glass, showed them every mark of attention, not only on the score of humanity, but because they were fellow-subjects of the same power—­for, be it known, Glass did not lay claim to independent monarchy, but always prayed publicly for King George as his lawful sovereign.  On learning the situation of the crew, on Inaccessible Island, he instantly launched his boat, and unawed by considerations of personal danger, hastened, at the risk of his life, to deliver his shipwrecked countrymen from the calamities they had so long endured.  He made repeated trips, surmounted all difficulties, and fortunately succeeded in safely landing them on his own island, after they had been exposed for nearly three months to the horrors of a situation almost unparalleled in the recorded sufferings of seafaring men.

After being hospitably treated by Glass and his company for three months, the survivors obtained a passage to the Cape, all except a young sailor named White, who had formed an attachment to one of the servant girls on board, and who, in all the miseries which had been endured, had been her constant protector and companion; whilst gratitude on her part prevented her wishing to leave him.  Both chose to remain, and were forthwith adopted as free citizens of the little community.


Page 39

On the 17th of June, 1816, the Medusa, French frigate, commanded by Captain Chaumareys, and accompanied by three smaller vessels, sailed from the island of Aix, for the coast of Africa, in order to take possession of some colonies.  The first accident she encountered was off Cape Finisterre, when one of the crew fell into the sea; and from the apathy of his companions, their want of promptitude in manoeuvring, with the want of every precaution, he was left to perish.  On the tenth day of sailing, there appeared an error of thirty leagues in the reckoning.  On the 1st of July, they entered the tropics; and there, with a childish disregard to danger, and knowing that she was surrounded by all the unseen perils of the ocean, her crew performed the ceremony usual to the occasion, while the vessel was running headlong on destruction.  The captain, presided over the disgraceful scene of merriment, leaving the ship to the command of a Mons. Richefort, who had passed the ten preceding years of his life in an English prison—­a few persons on board remonstrated in vain; though it was ascertained that they were on the banks of Arguise, she continued her course, and heaved the lead, without slackening the sail.  Every thing denoted shallow water, but M. Richefort persisted in saying that they were in one hundred fathoms.  At that very moment only six fathoms were found; and the vessel struck three times, being in about sixteen feet water, and the tide full flood.  At ebb-tide, there remained but twelve feet water; and after some bungling manoeuvres, all hope of getting the ship off was abandoned.

When the frigate struck, she had on board six boats, of various capacities, all of which could not contain the crew and passengers; and a raft was constructed.  A dreadful scene ensued.  All scrambled out of the wreck without order or precaution.  The first who reached the boats refused to admit any of their fellow-sufferers into them, though there was ample room for more.  Some, apprehending that a plot had been formed to abandon them in the vessel, flew to arms.  No one assisted his companions; and Captain Chaumareys stole out of a port-hole into his own boat, leaving a great part of the crew to shift for themselves.  At length they put off to sea, intending to steer for the sandy coast of the desert, there to land, and thence to proceed with a caravan to the island of St. Louis.

The raft had been constructed without foresight or intelligence.  It was about sixty-five feet long and twenty-five broad, but the only part which could be depended upon was the middle; and that was so small, that fifteen persons could not lie down upon it.  Those who stood on the floor were in constant danger of slipping through between the planks; the sea flowed in on all its sides.  When one hundred and fifty passengers who were destined to be its burden, were on board, they stood like a solid parallelogram, without a possibility of moving; and they were up to their

Page 40

waists in water.  The original plan was, that as much provision as possible should be put upon this raft; that it should be taken in tow by the six boats; and that, at stated intervals, the crews should come on board to receive their rations.  As they left the ship, M. Correard asked whether the charts, instruments, and sea-stores were on board; and was told by an officer, that nothing was wanting.  “And who is to command us?” “I am to command you,” answered he, “and will be with you in a moment.”  The officer with these words, the last in his mouth, went on board one of the boats, and returned no more.

The desperate squadron had only proceeded three leagues, when a faulty, if not treacherous manoeuvre, broke the tow-line which fastened the captain’s boat to the raft; and this became the signal to all to let loose their cables.  The weather was calm.  The coast was known to be but twelve or fifteen leagues distant; and the land was in fact discovered by the boats on the very evening on which they abandoned the raft.  They were not therefore driven to this measure by any new perils; and the cry of “Nous les abandonons!” which resounded throughout the line, was the yell of a spontaneous and instinctive impulse of cowardice, perfidy, and cruelty; and the impulse was as unanimous as it was diabolical.  The raft was left to the mercy of the waves; one after another, the boats disappeared, and despair became general.  Not one of the promised articles, no provisions, except a very few casks of wine, and some spoiled biscuit, sufficient for one single meal was found.  A small pocket compass, which chance had discovered, their last guide in a trackless ocean, fell between the beams into the sea.  As the crew had taken no nourishment since morning, some wine and biscuit were distributed; and this day, the first of thirteen on the raft, was the last on which they tasted any solid food—­except such as human nature shudders at.  The only thing which kept them alive was the hope of revenge on those who had treacherously betrayed them.

The first night was stormy; and the waves, which had free access, committed dreadful ravages, and threatened worse.  When day appeared, twelve miserable wretches were found crushed to death between the openings of the raft, and several more were missing; but the number could not be ascertained, as several soldiers had taken the billets of the dead, in order to obtain two, or even three rations.  The second night was still more dreadful, and many were washed off; although the crew had so crowded together, that some were smothered by the mere pressure.  To soothe their last moments, the soldiers drank immoderately; and one, who affected to rest himself upon the side, but was treacherously cutting the ropes, was thrown into the sea.  Another whom M. Correard had snatched from the waves, turned traitor a second time, as soon as he had recovered his senses; but he too was killed.  At length the revolted, who were chiefly soldiers, threw themselves

Page 41

upon their knees, and abjectly implored mercy.  At midnight, however, they rebelled again.  Those who had no arms, fought with their teeth, and thus many severe wounds were inflicted.  One was most wantonly and dreadfully bitten above the heel, while his companions were beating him upon the head with their carbines, before throwing him into the sea.  The raft was strewed with dead bodies, after innumerable instances of treachery and cruelty; and from sixty to sixty-five perished that night.  The force and courage of the strongest began to yield to their misfortunes; and even the most resolute labored under mental derangement.  In the conflict, the revolted had thrown two casks of wine, and all the remaining water, into the sea; and it became necessary to diminish each man’s share.

A day of comparative tranquility succeeded.  The survivors erected their mast again, which had been wantonly cut down in the battle of the night; and endeavored to catch some fish, but in vain.  They were reduced to feed on the dead bodies of their companions.  A third night followed, broken by the plaintive cries of wretches, exposed to every kind of suffering, ten or twelve of whom died of want, and awfully foretold the fate of the remainder.  The following day was fine.  Some flying fish were caught in the raft; which, mixed up with human flesh, afforded one scanty meal.

A new insurrection to destroy the raft, broke out on the fourth night; this too, was marked by perfidy, and ended in blood.  Most of the rebels were thrown into the sea.  The fifth morning mustered but thirty men alive; and these sick and wounded, with the skin of their lower extremities corroded by the salt water.  Two soldiers were detected drinking the wine of the only remaining cask; they were instantly thrown into the sea.  One boy died, and there remained only twenty-seven; of whom fifteen only seemed likely to live.  A council of war, preceded by the most horrid despair, was held; as the weak consumed a part of the common store, they determined to throw them into the sea.  This sentence was put into immediate execution! and all the arms on board, which now filled their minds with horror, were, with the exception of a single sabre, committed to the deep.

Distress and misery increased with an accelerated ratio; and even after the desperate measure of destroying their companions, and eating the most nauseous aliments, the surviving fifteen could not hope for more than a few days’ existence.  A butterfly lighted on their sail the ninth day, and though it was held to be a messenger of good, yet many a greedy eye was cast upon it.  Some sea-fowl also appeared; but it was impossible to catch them.  The misery of the survivors increased with a rapidity which cannot be described; they even stole from each other little goblets of urine which had been set to cool in the sea water, and were now considered a luxury.  The most trifling article of food, a lemon, a small bottle of spirituous dentrifice, a little garlic, became causes of contention; and every daily distribution of wine awakened a spirit of selfishness and ferocity, which common sufferings and common interest could not subdue into more social feelings.

Page 42

Three days more passed over in expressible anguish, when they constructed a smaller and more manageable raft, in the hope of directing it to the shore; but on trial it was found insufficient.  On the seventeenth day, a brig was seen; which, after exciting the vicissitudes of hope and fear, proved to be the Argus, sent out in quest of the Medusa.  The inhabitants of the raft were all received on board, and were again very nearly perishing, by a fire which broke out in the night.  The six boats which had so cruelly cast them adrift, reached the coast of Africa in safety; and after many dangers among the Moors, the survivors arrived at St. Louis.

After this, a vessel was despatched to the wreck of the Medusa, to carry away the money and provisions; after beating about for eight days, she was forced to return.  She again put to sea, but after being away five days, again came back.  Ten days more were lost in repairing her; and she did not reach the spot till fifty-two days after the vessel had been lost; and dreadful to relate, three miserable sufferers were found on board.  Sixty men had been abandoned there by their magnanimous countrymen.  All these had been carried off except seventeen, some of whom were drunk, and others refused to leave the vessel.  They remained at peace as long as their provisions lasted.  Twelve embarked on board a raft, for Sahara, and were never more heard of.  Another put to sea on a hen-coop, and sunk immediately.  Four remained behind, one of whom, exhausted with hunger and fatigue, perished.  The other three lived in separate corners of the wreck, and never met but to run at each other with drawn knives.  They were put on board the vessel, with all that could be saved from the wreck of the Medusa.

The vessel was no sooner seen returning to St. Louis, than every heart beat high with joy, in the hope of recovering some property.  The men and officers of the Medusa jumped on board, and asked if any thing had been saved.  “Yes,” was the reply, “but it is all ours now;” and the naked Frenchmen, whose calamities had found pity from the Moors of the desert, were now deliberately plundered by their own countrymen.

A fair was held in the town, which lasted eight days.  The clothes, furniture, and necessary articles of life, belonging to the men and officers of the Medusa, were publicly sold before their faces.  Such of the French as were able, proceeded to the camp at Daceard, and the sick remained at St. Louis.  The French governor had promised them clothes and provisions, but sent none; and during five months, they owed their existence to strangers—­to the British.


Page 43

The ship Essex, Captain George Pollard, sailed from Nantucket, on the 12th of August, 1819, on a whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean.  Her crew consisted of twenty-one men, fourteen of whom were whites, mostly belonging to Nantucket, the remainder were blacks.  On the 20th of November, 1820, in latitude 0 deg. 40’ S. longitude 119 deg.  W. a school of whales was discovered, and in pursuing them the mate’s boat was stove, which obliged him to return to the ship, when they commenced repairing the damage.  The captain and second mate were left with their boats pursuing the whales.  During this interval the mate discovered a large spermaceti whale, near the ship, but, not suspecting the approach of any danger, it gave them no alarm, until they saw the whale coming with full speed towards them.  In a moment they were astonished by a tremendous crash.  The whale had struck the ship a little forward of the fore chains.  It was some minutes before the crew recovered from their astonishment, so far as to examine whether any damage had been sustained.  They then tried their pumps, and found that the ship was sinking.  A signal was immediately set for the boats.  The whale now appeared again making for the ship, and coming with great velocity, with the water foaming around him, he struck the ship a second blow, which nearly stove in her bows.  There was now no hope of saving the ship, and the only course to be pursued was, to prepare to leave her with all possible haste.  They collected a few things, hove them into the boat and shoved off.  The ship immediately fell upon one side and sunk to the water’s edge.  When the captain’s and second mate’s boat arrived, such was the consternation, that for some time not a word was spoken.  The danger of their situation at length aroused them, as from a terrific dream, to a no less terrific reality.  They remained by the wreck two or three days, in which time they cut away the masts, which caused her to right a little.  Holes were then cut in the deck, by which means they obtained about six hundred pounds of bread, and as much water as they could take, besides other articles likely to be of use to them.  On the 22d of November, they left the ship, with as gloomy a prospect before them as can well be imagined.  The nearest land was about one thousand miles to the windward of them; they were in open boats, weak and leaky, with a very small pittance of bread and water for support of so many men, during the time they must necessarily be at sea.  Sails had been prepared for the boats, before leaving the ship, which proved of material benefit.  Steering southerly by the wind, they hoped to fall in with some ship, but in this they were disappointed.  After being in the boat twenty-eight days, experiencing many sufferings by gales of wind, want of water, and scanty provisions, they arrived at Duncie’s Island, latitude 24 deg. 40’ S., longitude 124 deg. 40’ W., where they were disappointed in not finding a sufficiency of any kind of food for so large a company to subsist on.  Their boats being very weak and leaky, they were hauled on shore and repaired.  They found a gentle spring of fresh water, flowing out of a rock, at about half ebb of the tide, from which they filled their kegs.  Three of the men chose to stay on the island, and take their chance for some vessel to take them off.

Page 44

On the 27th of December, they left this island, and steered for Easter Island; but passed it far to the leeward.  They then directed their course for Juan Fernandez, which was about twenty-five hundred miles east by south-east from them.  On the 10th of January, 1821, Matthew P. Joy, the second mate, died, and his body was launched into the deep.  His constitution was slender, and it was supposed that his sufferings, though great, were not the immediate cause of his death.  On the 12th, the mate’s boat separated from the other two, and did not fall in with them afterwards.  The situation of the mate and his crew, became daily more and more distressing.  The weather was mostly calm, the sun hot and scorching.  They were growing weaker and weaker by want of food, and yet, such was their distance from land, that they were obliged to lessen their allowance nearly one half.  On the 20th, a black man died.

On the 28th, they found, on calculation, that their allowance, only one and a half ounce of bread per day to a man, would be exhausted in fourteen days; and that this allowance was not sufficient to sustain life.  They therefore determined to extend the indulgence, and take the consequence, whether to live or die.  On the 8th of February, another of the crew died.  From this time to the 17th, their sufferings were extreme.  At seven o’clock, A.M. of that day, they were aroused from a lethargy by the cheering cry of the steersman, “there’s a sail!” The boat was soon descried by the vessel, the brig Indian, Captain Grozier, of London, which took them on board, latitude 33 deg. 45’ S., longitude 81 deg. 3’ W. They were treated by Captain Grozier with all the care and tenderness which their weak condition required.  On the same day they made Massafuero, and on the 25th, arrived at Valparaiso.

Captain Pollard and Charles Ramsdell, the only survivors in the captain’s boat, were taken up on the 23d of February, 1821, by the ship Dauphin, of Nantucket, Captain Zimri Coffin, in latitude 37 deg.  S. off St. Mary’s.  The captain relates, that, after the mate’s boat was separated from the others, they made what progress their weak condition would permit, towards the island of Juan Fernandez, but contrary winds and calm weather, together with the extreme debility of the crew, prevented their making much progress.

On the 29th of January, the second mate’s boat separated from the captain’s, in the night, at which time their provisions were totally exhausted, since which they have not been heard from.

We shall not attempt a sketch of the sufferings of the crews of these boats.  Imagination may picture the horrors of their situation, and the extremes to which they were driven to sustain life, but no power of the imagination can heighten the dreadful reality.

The following is an account of the whole crew.

In the captain’s boat but two survived, Captain Pollard and Charles Ramsdell.  In the mate’s boat three survived, Owen Chase, the mate, Benjamin Lawrence, and Thomas Nickerson.  Left on Duncie’s Island, and afterwards taken off, Seth Weeks, William Wright, and Thomas Chapple.  One left the ship before the accident.  In the second mate’s boat, when separated from the captain’s, three.  Dead, nine, which added to the second mate’s crew, doubtless lost, makes total deaths twelve.

Page 45


We sailed from the Cove of Cork for St. Andrews, on the 6th of October, 1833.  During a passage of sixty days, all of which time we struggled against adverse winds, nothing material occurred, save the shifting of our ballast, (limestone,) which caused some alarm; but the promptitude and alacrity of the crew soon set it all right.  On reaching the ballast-ground, we discharged our ballast; and after we had repaired the rigging, we took in a cargo of deals.  Here four of the men left us, and we had to wait for others to supply their place.

On the 23d of December we sailed on our return to Cork; mustering in all seventeen persons, including one male and one female passenger.  With a fine stiff breeze down the bay, we soon lost sight of land, and nothing of note occurred till the 30th, when the wind got up from the north-west, and soon blew so heavy a gale, that we were obliged to take in every thing but a close-reefed main-topsail, under which we scudded till the 5th of January.  All this time it blew a hurricane, principally from the north-west, but occasionally, after a short lull, flying round to the south-west, with a fury that nothing could resist.  The sea threatened to overwhelm our little craft.  It was several times proposed to lay her to; but the fatal opinion prevailed that she did better in scudding.  On the night of the 6th, a tremendous sea struck her on the stern, stove in all the dead-lights, and washed them into the cabin, lifted the taffrail a foot or more out of its place, carried away the afterpart of the larboard bulwark, shattered the whole of the stern-frame, and washed one of the steersmen away from the wheel.  The carpenter and crew with much labor secured the stern as well as they could for the night, and next morning the wind moderated a little, new dead-lights were put in, and the damages further repaired.

Every stitch of canvas, but the main-topsail, jib, and trysail, were split into ribbons, so that we became anxious to know how we should reach port when the gale subsided.  But we were soon spared further care on that head.  As the day closed in, the tempest resumed its fury, and by the following morning, (the 8th,) raged with such appalling violence, that we laid her too.  From her straining, the brig had now began to make so much water, as to require all hands in succession at the pumps till the following morning at two, when the larboard watch went below, the watch on deck, by constant exertion, sufficing to keep her free.

At seven on the morning of the 9th, a tremendous sea broke over the starboard bow, overwhelming all, and sweeping caboose, boats, planks, casks, every thing before it, to the afterpart of the deck; even the starboard anchor was lifted on to the forecastle; and and the cook, who was in the galley, washed with all his culinary apparatus into the lee-scuppers, where he remained some time in a very perilous situation,

Page 46

jammed in amongst the loose spars and other portions of the wreck, until extricated by the watch on deck, who, being aft at the moment of the occurrence, escaped unhurt.  Before we could recover from this shock, the watch below rushed on deck, with the appalling intelligence, that the water had found its way below, and was pouring in like a torrent We found that the coppers, forced along the deck with irresistible violence, had, by striking a stanchen fixed firmly in the deck, split the covering fore and aft, and let in the water.  The captain thought it time to prepare for the worst.  As the ship, from her buoyant cargo, could not sink, he ordered the crew to store the top with provisions.  And as all exerted themselves with the energy of despair, two barrels of beef, some hams, pork, butter, cheese, and a large jar of brandy, were handed in a trice up from below, but not before the water had nearly filled the cabin, and forced those employed there to cease their operations, and with the two unfortunate passengers to fly to the deck.  Fortunately for the latter, they knew not the full horror of our situation.  The poor lady, whose name I have forgotten, young and delicate, already suffering from confinement below and sea sickness, pale and shivering, but patient and resigned, had but a short time taken her seat beside her fellow passenger on some planks near the taffrail, on which lay extended the unfortunate cook, unable to move from his bruises, when the vessel, a heavy lurch having shifted her cargo, was laid on her beam-ends, and the water rushing in, carried every thing off the deck—­provisions, stores, planks, all went adrift—­and with the latter, the poor lady, who, with the cook, floated away on them, without the possibility of our saving either of them.  But such was the indescribable horror of those who were left, that had we been able to reason or reflect we might have envied our departed shipmates.

A few minutes before we went over, two of the crew, invalids, having gone to the maintop, one of them was forced into the belly of the main top-sail, and there found a watery grave.  The rest of the crew, and the male passenger, got upon her side.  In this hopeless situation, secured, and clinging to the channels and rigging, the sea every instant dashing over us, and threatening destruction, we remained some hours.  Then the vessel once more righted, and we crawled on board.  The deck having blown up, and the stern gone the same way, we had now the prospect of perishing with cold and hunger.  For our ultimate preservation I conceive we were mainly indebted to the carpenter’s having providentially retained his axe.  With it, the foremast was cut away.  While doing this, we found a piece of pork about four pounds weight; and even the possession of this morsel raised our drooping spirits.  It would at least prolong existence a few hours, and in that interval, the gale might abate, some friendly sail heave in sight, and the elements relent.  Such were our

Page 47

reflections.  Oh, how our eye-balls strained, as, emerging from the trough of the sea on the crest of a liquid mountain, we gazed on the misty horizon, until, from time to time, we fancied, nay, felt assured, we saw the object of our search, but the evening closed in, and with it hope almost expired.  That day, not a morsel passed our lips.  The pork, our only supply, given in charge to the captain, it was thought prudent to husband as long as possible.

Meanwhile, with a top-gallant studding-sail remaining in the top, which was stretched over the mast-head, we contrived to procure a partial shelter from the inclemency of the weather.  Under this, drenched as we were and shivering with cold, some of us crouched for the night; but others of the crew remained all that night in the rigging.  In the morning we all—­fourteen in number—­mustered on deck, and received from the mate a small piece of pork, about two ounces, the remainder being put away, and reserved for the next day.  This, and some water, the only article of which—­a cask had been discovered forward, well stowed away among the planks—­we had abundance, constituted our only meal that day.  Somewhat refreshed, we all went to work, and as the studding-sail afforded but a scanty shelter, we fitted the trysail for this purpose; on opening which we found the cat drowned, and much as our stomachs might have revolted against such food on ordinary occasions, yet poor puss was instantly skinned and her carcass hung up in the maintop.

This night we were somewhat better lodged, and the following day, having received our scanty ration of pork, now nearly consumed, we got three swiftsures round the hull of the vessel, to prevent her from going to pieces.  Foraging daily for food, we sought incessantly in every crevice, hole, and corner, but in vain.  We were now approaching that state of suffering beyond which nature cannot carry us.  With some, indeed, they were already past endurance; and one individual, who had left a wife and family dependent upon him for support in London, unable any longer to bear up against them, and the almost certain prospect of starvation, went down out of the top, and we saw him no more.  Having eked out the pork until the fourth day, we commenced on the cat—­fortunately large and in good condition—­a mouthful of which, with some water, furnished our daily allowance.

Sickness and debility had now made such ravages among us all, that although we had a tolerable stock of water, we found great difficulty in procuring it.  We had hitherto, in rotation, taken our turn to fill a small beaker at the cask, wedged in among the cargo of deals; but now, scarcely able to keep our feet along the planks, and still less so to haul the vessel up to the top, we were in danger of even this resource being cut off from us.  In this manner, incredible as it may seem, we managed to keep body and soul together till the eleventh day; our only sustenance, the pork, the cat, water, and the bark of some young birch trees, which latter, in searching for a keg of tamarinds, which we had hoped to find, we had latterly come athwart.

Page 48

On the twelfth morning, at daybreak, the hailing of some one from the deck electrified us all.  Supposing, as we had missed none of our shipmates from the top, that it must be some boat or vessel, we all eagerly made a movement to answer our supposed deliverers, and such was our excitement that it well nigh upset what little reason we had left.  We soon found out our mistake.  We saw that one of the party was missing; and from this individual, whom we had found without shoes, hat, or jacket, had the voice proceeded.

Despair had now taken such complete hold, that, suspended between life and death, a torpor had seized us, and, resigned to our fate, we had scarcely sufficient energy to lift our heads, and exercise the only faculty on which depended our safety.  The delirium of our unfortunate shipmate had, however, reanimated us, and by this means, through Providence, he was made instrumental to our deliverance.  Not long after, one of the men suddenly exclaimed, “This is Sunday morning!—­The Lord will deliver us from our distress!—­at any rate I will take a look round.”  With this he arose, and having looked about him a few minutes, the cheering cry of “a sail!” announced the fulfilment of this singular prophecy.  “Yes,” he repeated in answer to our doubts, “a sail, and bearing right down upon us!”

We all eagerly got up, and looking in the direction indicated to us, the welcome certainty, that we were not cheated of our hopes almost turned our brains.  The vessel, which proved to be a Boston brig, bound to London, ran down across our bows, hove too, sent the boats alongside, and by ten o’clock we were all safe on board.  Singularly enough, our brig, which had been lying-to with her head to the northward and westward, since the commencement of our disasters, went about the evening previous to our quitting her as well as if she had been under sail,—­another providential occurrence, for had she remained with her head to the northward, we should have seen nothing of our deliverers.  From the latter we experienced all the care and attention our deplorable condition required; and, with the exception of two of the party, who were frost-bitten, and who died two days after our quitting the wreck, we were soon restored to health, and reached St. Catherine’s Dock on the 30th of the following month.



The Earl of Abergavenny, East Indiaman, left Portsmouth, in the beginning of February, 1805, with forty passengers, and property to the value of eighty-nine thousand pounds sterling on board.  On the 5th of February, at ten A.M. when she was about ten leagues to the westward of Portland, the commodore gave a signal for her to bear up.  At this time the wind was west south-west; she had the main top-mast struck, the fore and mizzen top-gallant mast on deck, and the jib-boom in.  At three a pilot came on board, when they were about

Page 49

two leagues west from Portland; the cables were ranged and bitted, and the jib-boom got out.  The wind suddenly died away as she crossed the Shangles, a shoal of rock and shingle, about two miles from the land; and a strong tide setting the ship to westward, drifted her into the breakers.  A sea taking her on the larboard quarter brought her to, with her head to the northward, when she instantly struck the ground, at five in afternoon.  All the reefs were let out, and the top-sails hoisted up, in the hope that the ship might shoot across the reef; the wind shifting meanwhile to north-west, she remained there two hours and a half, with four feet of water in the hold, the tide alternately setting her on, and the surf driving her back, beating all the while with such violent shocks, that the men for some time could scarcely stand upon the decks.  At length, however, she was got off the rocks.

The pumps were kept constantly going, and for fifteen minutes after clearing the rocks, kept the water at four feet; but the leak gaining upon them, all sails were set, with the view of running for the nearest port.  But the water now rose so fast, than she refused to answer the helm, and they resolved to run her on the first shore.  The captain and officers still thought that she might be got off without material damage, and no signal guns of distress were fired for three quarters of an hour, though sensible of some danger, they kept silent, lest they should alarm the passengers.  Soon however the peril appeared but too manifest; the carpenter announced that a leak was at the bottom of the chain-pumps, through which the water gushed so fast, that they could not stop it.  Eleven feet of water were already in the hold, and the crew were set to bale at the fore scuttle and hatchway.  Though they could not keep the water under, they still hoped to preserve her afloat, till she could be run upon Weymouth sand.  The lashings of the boats were cut; but they could not get out the long-boat, without bending the mainsail aback, which would have retarded the vessel so much, as to deprive them of the chance of running her aground.

At six in the afternoon they gave up all hope of saving the vessel; other leaks had been sprung, and it became manifest, from the damage she had sustained that she must speedily go down.  The captain and officers were still cool, and preserved perfect subordination.  As night came on, and their situation became more terrible, several passengers insisted on being set on shore; and some small sloops being near, one of which sent off a skiff, two ladies, and three other passengers went away in her.  More would have embarked had they not feared to encounter a tempestuous sea in so dark a night.

Page 50

Several boats were heard at a short distance, about nine o’clock, but they rendered no assistance; being either engaged in plunder, or in rescuing some of those unfortunate individuals who hazarded themselves on pieces of wreck, to gain the land.  Those on board baled and pumped without intermission; the cadets and passengers struggling with the rest.  A midshipman was appointed to guard the spirit room.  Some of the more disorderly sailors pressed upon him.  “Give us some grog,” they cried, “it will be all one an hour hence.”  “I know we must die,” replied he, coolly, “but let us die like men;” and armed with a brace of pistols, he kept his post even while the ship was sinking.

At length the carpenter came up from below, and told those who worked at the pumps that he could do no more.  Some gave themselves up to despair, others prayed; and some resolved not to perish without a struggle, committed themselves on pieces of the wreck to the waves.  The chief mate came to the captain, and said, “We have done all we can, sir, the ship will sink in a moment;” to which the captain replied, “it cannot be helped—­God’s will be done.”  The vessel gradually settled in the trough of the sea.  The cries of the drowning rose above the sound of the waters, and were heard at a great distance.  Some kept running about the deck as long as it kept above the waves.  At eleven, when she went down, many hastened up the shrouds and masts.  The captain was seen clinging to the ropes; the fourth mate tried to persuade him to exert himself, but he submitted without resistance to his fate.

The hull struck the ground, while part of the masts and rigging remained above water.  On the last cast of the lead, eleven fathoms had been found, and about one hundred and eighty men still clung to the rigging.  The night was dark and frosty, the sea incessantly breaking upon them.  Shocking scenes occurred, in the attempts made by some to obtain places of greater safety.  One seaman had ascended to a considerable height, and endeavored to climb yet higher; another seized hold of his leg; he drew his clasp-knife, and deliberately cut the miserable wretch’s fingers asunder; he dropped and was killed by the fall.  Many perished in the shrouds.  A sergeant had secured his wife there; she lost her hold, and in her last struggle for life, bit a large piece from her husband’s arm, which was dreadfully lacerated.

About an hour after she went down, the survivors were cheered by hearing the sound of vessels beating the waves at a distance; they hailed a sloop-rigged vessel, with two boats astern of her.  Their voices must have been drowned by the waves.  By twelve many more had perished.  Some from cold and fatigue could no longer retain their hold; every instant those who still hung on, were shocked by the splash, which told that another of their number had yielded to his fate.  In a short time, boats were again heard near them, but they did not, though repeatedly hailed, come near enough to take any on board; an act of cold and calculating timidity, which could not be justified by the excuse, that they feared lest all, eager to be saved, should have jumped down, and borne them to the bottom.

Page 51

At length two sloops, which had heard the guns of distress, anchored close to the wreck, took off the survivors, twenty at a time, from the shrouds, and in the morning conveyed them to Weymouth; so far from crowding into the boats, they got off one by one, as called upon by those who commanded the boats.  One still remained; the sixth mate ascended the mast and found him in a state of insensibility; he bore him down on his back, and with his burden reached the boat in safety; but the delivered person died the next day.

When the awful words were heard, “The ship must go down,” three of the cadets went into the cabin, where they stood for a short time, looking at each other, without saying a word.  At length one said, “Let us return to the deck;” two did so, but the other remained below.  He opened his desk, took out his commission, his introductory letters, and some money, went on deck, but saw neither of his companions.  Then looking forward, he saw the ship going down head foremost, and the sea rolling in an immense column along the deck.  He tried to ascend the steps leading to the poop, but was launched among the waves encumbered by boots and a great coat, and unable to swim.  Afterwards, finding himself on the opposite side, he conceived that when the stern of the ship sunk, he would be drawn into the vortex.  While struggling to keep himself afloat, he seized something which frequently struck the back of his hand, and found it to be a rope hanging from the mizzen-shrouds.  Trying to ascend several feet by it, he fell into the sea; but by a sudden lurch from the ship, he was thrown into the mizzen-shrouds, where he fixed himself as well as circumstances would allow.



At midnight of Saturday, the 30th of November, 1811, with a fair wind and a smooth sea, we weighed from our station, in company with the Saldanha frigate, of thirty-eight guns, Captain Packenham, with a crew of three hundred men, on a cruise, as was intended, of twenty days—­the Saldanha taking a westerly course, while we stood in the opposite direction.

We had scarcely got out of the lock and cleared the heads, however, when we plunged at once into all the miseries of a gale of wind blowing from the west.  During the three following days it continued to increase in violence, when the islands of Coll and Tiree became visible to us.  As the wind had now chopped round more to the north, and continued unabated in violence, the danger of getting involved among the numerous small islands and rugged headlands, on the north-west coast of Inverness-shire, became evident.  It was therefore deemed expedient to wear the ship round, and make a port with all expedition.  With this view, and favored by the wind, a course was shaped for Lochswilly, and away we scudded under close-reefed foresail and main-topsail, followed by a tremendous sea, which

Page 52

threatened every moment to overwhelm us, and accompanied by piercing showers of hail, and a gale which blew with incredible fury.  The same course was steered until next day about noon, when land was seen on the lee-bow.  The weather being thick, some time elapsed before it could be distinctly made out, and it was then ascertained to be the island of North Arran, on the coast of Donegal, westward of Lochswilly.  The ship was therefore hauled up some points, and we yet entertained hopes of reaching an anchorage before nightfall, when the weather gradually thickened, and the sea, now that we were upon the wind, broke over us in all directions.  Its violence was such, that in a few minutes several of our ports were stove in, at which the water poured in in great abundance, until it was actually breast high on the lee-side of the main deck.  Fortunately, but little got below, and the ship was relieved by taking in the foresail.  But a dreadful addition was now made to the precariousness of our situation, by the cry of “land a-head!” which was seen from the forecastle, and must have been very near.  Not a moment was now lost in wearing the ship round on the other tack, and making what little sail could be carried, to weather the land we had already passed.  This soon proved, however, to be a forlorn prospect, for it was found that we should run our distance by ten o’clock.  All the horrors of shipwreck now stared us in the face, aggravated tenfold by the darkness of the night, and the tremendous force of the wind, which now blew a hurricane.  Mountains are insignificant when speaking of the sea that kept pace with it; its violence was awful beyond description, and it frequently broke over all the poor little ship, that shivered and groaned, but behaved admirably.

The force of the sea may be guessed from the fact of the sheet-anchor, nearly a ton and a half in weight, being actually lifted on board, to say nothing of the forechain-plates’ board broken, both gangways torn away, quarter-galleries stove in, &c.  In short, on getting into port, the vessel was found to be loosened through all her frame, and leaking at every seam.  As far as depended on her good qualities, however, I felt assured at the time we were safe, for I had seen enough of the Talbot to be convinced we were in one of the finest sea-boats that ever swam.  But what could all the skill of the ship builder avail in a situation like ours?  With a night full fifteen hours long before us, and knowing that we were fast driving on the land, anxiety and dread were on every face, and every mind felt the terrors of uncertainty and suspense.  At length, about twelve o’clock, the dreadful truth was disclosed to us!

Page 53

Judge of my sensation when I saw the frowning rocks of Arran, scarcely half a mile distant, on our lee-bow.  To our inexpressible relief, and not less to our surprise, we fairly weathered all, and were congratulating each other on our escape, when on looking forward I imagined I saw breakers at no great distance on our lee; and this suspicion was soon confirmed, when the moon, which shone at intervals, suddenly broke out from behind a cloud, and presented to us a most terrific spectacle.  At not more than a quarter of a mile’s distance on our lee-beam, appeared a range of tremendous breakers, amongst which it seemed as if every sea would throw us.  Their height, it may be guessed, was prodigious, when they could be clearly distinguished from the foaming waters of the surrounded ocean.  It was a scene seldom to be witnessed, and never forgotten!  “Lord have mercy on us!” was now on the lip of everyone—­destruction seemed inevitable.  Captain Swaine, whose coolness I have never seen surpassed issued his orders clearly and collectedly when it was proposed as a last resource to drop the anchors, cut away the masts, and trust to the chance of riding out the gale.  This scheme was actually determined on, and every thing was in readiness, but happily was deferred until an experiment was tried aloft In addition to the close-reefed main-topsail and foresail, the fore-topsail and trysail were now set, and the result was almost magical.  With a few plunges we cleared not only the reef, but a huge rock upon which I could with ease have tossed a biscuit, and in a few minutes we were inexpressibly rejoiced to observe both far astern.

We had now miraculously escaped all but certain destruction a second time, but much was yet to be feared.  We had still to pass Cape Jeller, and the moments dragged on in gloomy apprehension and anxious suspense.  The ship carried sail most wonderfully, and we continued to go along at the rate of seven knots, shipping very heavy seas, and laboring much—­all with much solicitude looking out for daylight.  The dawn at length appeared, and to our great joy we saw the land several miles astern, having passed the Cape and many other hidden dangers during the darkness.

Matters on the morning of the 5th, assumed a very different aspect from that which we had experienced for the last two days; the wind gradually subsided, and with it the sea, and a favorable breeze now springing up, we were enabled to make a good offing.  Fortunately no accident of consequence occurred, although several of our people were severely bruised by falls.  Poor fellows! they certainly suffered enough; not a dry stitch, not a dry hammock have they had since we sailed.  Happily, however, their misfortunes are soon forgot in a dry shirt and a can of grog.

Page 54

The most melancholy part of the narrative is still to be told.  On coming up to our anchorage, we observed an unusual degree of curiosity and bustle in the fort; crowds of people were congregated on both sides, running to and fro, examining us through spy-glasses; in short, an extraordinary commotion was apparent.  The meaning of all this was but too soon made known to us by a boat coming alongside, from which we learned that the unfortunate Saldanha had gone to pieces, and every man perished!  Our own destruction had likewise been reckoned inevitable from the time of the discovery of the unhappy fate of our consort, five days beforehand; and hence the astonishment at our unexpected return.  From all that could be learned concerning the dreadful catastrophe, I am inclined to believe that the Saldanha had been driven on the rocks about the time our doom appeared so certain in another quarter.  Her lights were seen by the signal-tower at nine o’clock of that fearful Wednesday night, December 4th, after which it is supposed she went ashore on the rocks at a small bay called Ballymastaker, almost at the entrance of Lochswilly harbor.

Next morning the beach was strewed with fragments of the wreck, and upwards of two hundred of the bodies of the unfortunate sufferers were washed ashore.  One man—­and one only—­out of the three hundred, was ascertained to have come ashore alive, but almost in a state of insensibility.  Unhappily there was no person present to administer to his wants judiciously, and upon craving something to drink, about half a pint of whisky was given him by the people, which almost instantly killed him!  Poor Pakenham’s body was recognised amidst the others, and like these, stripped quite naked by the inhuman wretches, who flocked to the wreck as to a blessing!  It is even suspected that he came on shore alive, but was stripped and left to perish.  Nothing could equal the audacity of the plunderers, although a party of the Lanark militia was doing duty around the wreck.  But this is an ungracious and revolting subject, which no one of proper feeling would wish to dwell upon.  Still less am I inclined so describe the heart-rending scene at Buncrana, where the widows of many of the sufferers are residing.  The surgeon’s wife, a native of Halifax, has never spoken since the dreadful tidings arrived.  Consolation is inadmissible, and no one has yet ventured to offer it.


The ship Nautilus, Captain Palmer, with important despatches for England, sailed from the Dardanelles, on the 30th of January, 1807.  Passing through the islands which abound in the Greek Archipelago, she approached the Negropont, where the navigation became both intricate and dangerous.  The wind blew fresh, and the night was dark and squally; the pilot, a Greek, advised them to lay-to till morning; at daylight she again went on her course, passing in the evening, Falconera and Anti-Milo.  The pilot, who had never gone farther on this tack, here relinquished the management of the vessel to the captain, who, anxious to get on, resolved to proceed during the night, confidently expecting to clear the Archipelago by morning; he then went below, to take some rest, after marking out on the chest the course which he meant to steer.

Page 55


The night was extremely dark, vivid lightning at times flashed through the horizon.  The wind increased; and though the ship carried but little sail, she went at the rate of nine miles an hour, borne on by a high sea, which, with the brightness of the lightning, made the night appear awful.  At half past two in the morning, they saw high land, which they took for the island of Cerigotto, and went confidently on, supposing that all danger was over.  At half-past four, the man on the look-out, cried, “breakers a-head!” and instantly the vessel struck with a tremendous crash; the violence of the shock being such, that those below were thrown from their beds, and on coming on deck, were compelled to cling to the cordage.  All was confusion and alarm; scarcely had part of the crew time to hurry on deck, before the ladder gave way, leaving numbers struggling with the water, which rushed in at the bottom.  The captain and lieutenant endeavored to mitigate the fears of the people; and afterwards, going down to the cabin, burnt the papers and private signals.  Meantime, every sea dashed the vessel against the rocks; and they were soon compelled to climb the rigging, where they remained an hour, the surge continually breaking upon them.

The lightning had ceased, but so dark was the night, that they could not see a ship’s length before them; their only hope rested in the falling of the main mast, which they trusted would reach a small rock, which lay very near them.  About half an hour before morning, the mast gave way, providentially falling towards the rock, and by means of it they were enabled to gain the land.  In this hasty struggle to get to the rock, many accidents occurred; some were drowned, one man had his arm broke, and many were much hurt.  The captain was the last man who left the vessel, refusing to quit it till all had gained the rock.  All the boats but one had been staved in pieces; the jolly-boat indeed remained, but they could not haul it in.  For a time the hull of the wreck sheltered them from the violence of the surf; but it soon broke up, and it became necessary to abandon the small rock on which they stood, and to wade to another somewhat larger.  In their way they encountered many loose spars, dashing about in the channel; several in crossing were severely hurt by them.  They felt grievously the loss of their shoes, for the sharp rocks tore their feet dreadfully, and their legs were covered with blood.  In the morning they saw the sea covered with the fragments of the wreck, and many of their comrades floating about on spars and timbers, to whom they could not give any assistance.

Page 56

They saw that they were cast away on a coral rock almost on a level with the sea, about four hundred yards long, and three hundred broad.  They were at least twelve miles from the nearest islands, which were afterwards found to be those of Cerigotto and Pera.  In case any vessel should pass by, they hoisted a signal of distress on a long pole.  The weather was very cold, and the day before they were wrecked, the deck had been covered with ice; with much difficulty they managed to kindle a fire, by means of a flint and some powder.  They erected a small tent, composed of pieces of canvas and boards, and were thus enabled to dry their few clothes.  The night was dreary and comfortless; but they consoled themselves with the hope that their fire might be descried in the dark, and taken for a signal of distress.  Next day they were delighted at the approach of a small whale-boat, manned by ten of their comrades.  When the vessel was wrecked, these men had lowered themselves into the water, and had reached the island of Pera, but finding no fresh water, were compelled to depart; and noticing the fire were enabled to join their shipmates.  But the waves ran so high that the boat could not come to the shore, and some of those on the land endeavored to reach it.  One of the seamen called to Captain Palmer, inviting him to come to them, but he steadily refused, saying, “No, Smith, save your unfortunate shipmates; never mind me.”  After some consultation, they resolved to take the Greek pilot on board, intending to go to Cerigotto, where, he assured them, were a few families of fishermen, who might perhaps be able to afford them some relief.

After the boat departed, the wind increased; in about two hours a fearful storm came on.  The waves mounted up, and extinguished their fire; they swept over nearly the whole of the rock, compelling them to flee for refuge to the highest part.  Thus did nearly ninety pass a night of the utmost horror; being compelled, lest they should be washed off, to fasten a rope round the summit of a rock, and to clasp each other.  Their fatigue had been so great that several of them became delirious, and lost their hold.  They were also in constant terror of the wind veering more to the north, in which case the waves would have dashed over their position.

They now began to sink under their hardships, and many had suffered deplorably.  One had been so dashed against the rocks as to be nearly scalped, exhibiting a dreadful spectacle; he lingered out the night, but expired next morning.  They were ill prepared to sustain famine, and they were almost hopeless of escape.  They dreaded lest the storm should come on before the boat could have reached the island, for on her safety their own depended.  In the midst of these horrors the daylight broke, and they saw the bodies of their departed shipmates, some still writhing in the agonies of death.  The sea had broken over them all night, and some, among whom was the carpenter, had perished from cold.

Page 57

Soon after, a vessel approached, and their hearts beat high with the hope of deliverance.  All her sails were set, and she came down before the wind, steering right for the rock.  They made repeated signals of distress, and the vessel hove to, and hoisted out her boat.  They hastily prepared rafts to carry them through the surf, confident that the boat was provided with supplies to relieve them.  The boat came within pistol-shot, full of men dressed in the European fashion.  But what were their indignation and grief, when the person who steered, after gazing at them a few minutes, waved his hat, and then rowed off to the ship!  Their misery was increased by seeing the crew of the stranger-vessel employed in collecting the floating fragments of the wreck.  After this grievous disappointment, their only hopes lay in the return of the boat.  They looked in vain; not a glimpse of her was to be seen.  A raging thirst tormented them; and some, in spite of warning, drank salt water; raging madness soon followed, and their agonies were terminated by death.  Another awful night was passed by them.  To preserve themselves from the cold, they huddled close together, and covered themselves with their few remaining rags.  They were haunted by the ravings of those who had drunk the sea-water, whom they tried in vain to pacify.

About twelve o’clock, the crew of the whale-boat hailed them; they cried out in their agony for water.  They could not procure it, for those in the boat had none but earthen vessels, which could not be conveyed through the surf.  They were assured that they would be taken off by a fishing vessel next morning; but there seemed to be little chance of their surviving till then.

In the morning, the sun for the first time shone upon the rock.  They waited hour after hour, but there was no appearance either of the boat or the vessel.  Famine consumed them; but they looked with loathing on the only means of appeasing it.  When, however, the day wore on, after praying for forgiveness of the sinful act, they were compelled to feed on one of their number who had died the preceding night.  Several expired towards evening; among whom were the captain and first lieutenant.  During the night, some thought of constructing a raft which might carry them to Cerigotto.  The wind seemed favorable; and to perish in the waters seemed preferable to remaining to die a lingering death from hunger and thirst.  At daylight, as fast as their feeble strength permitted, they prepared to put their plan in execution, by lashing together a number of larger spars.  Scarcely had they launched it, when it was destroyed.  Five, rendered desperate, embarked on a few spars hastily lashed together, which gave them scarcely room to stand; they were soon carried away by unknown currents, and were no more heard of.

In the afternoon the whale-boat came again in sight.  The crew told them that they had experienced great difficulty in persuading the Greek fishermen of Cerigotto to venture to put to sea, because of the stormy weather; but they gave them hopes, that if the weather moderated, the boats would come next day.  Before they had done speaking, twelve men plunged from the rock into the sea, and nearly reached the boat; two were taken in, one was drowned, and the rest were so fortunate as to recover their former station.

Page 58

As the day wore on, their weakness increased.  One of the survivors described himself as feeling the approach of annihilation; his sight failed, and his senses were confused; his strength was exhausted; he looked towards the setting sun, expecting never to see it rise again.  Suddenly the approach of the boats was announced; and from the depth of despair, they rose to the very summit of joy.  Their parched frames were refreshed with copious draughts of water.

Immediate preparations were made for departure.  Of one hundred and twenty-two persons on board the Nautilus, when she struck, fifty-eight had perished.  Eighteen were drowned when she was wrecked, five were lost in the small boat, and thirty-four died of famine.  About fifty now embarked in four fishing vessels, and landed the same evening at Cerigotto; making sixty-four in all, including those saved in the whale-boat.  During their six days sojourn on the rock, they had nothing to subsist on, save human flesh.

They landed at a small creek.  The Greeks received them with great hospitality, but had not skill to cure their wounds, and had no bandages but those procured by tearing up their own shirts.  Wishing to procure some medical assistance, they desired to reach Cerigo, an island twenty miles distant, on which an English vice-consul resided.  Fourteen days elapsed before they could set sail.  They bade adieu to these kind preservers, and in six or eight hours reached Cerigo, where all possible help was afforded them.  Thence they were conveyed by a Russian ship to Corfu; where they arrived on the 2d of March, 1807, about two months after their melancholy disaster.


Decatur is one of the most illustrious names in the naval annals of America.  Among the many officers who have borne this name, none was more celebrated and admired in his life time and none more deeply lamented at his untimely decease than Commodore Stephen Decatur.


His life was a series of heroic actions.  But of these perhaps the most remarkable of all is that which is recorded in the following language of his biographer—­the burning of the frigate Philadelphia.

Decatur had been sent out from the United States, in the Argus, to join Commodore Preble’s squadron before Tripoli.  He exchanged this vessel with Lieutenant Hull for the Enterprise.

After making that exchange, he proceeded to Syracuse, where the squadron was to rendezvous.  On his arrival at that port, he was informed of the fate of the frigate Philadelphia, which had run aground on the Barbary coast, and fallen into the hands of the Tripolitans.  The idea immediately presented itself to his mind of attempting her recapture or destruction.  On Commodore Preble’s arrival, a few days afterwards, he proposed to him a plan for the purpose, and volunteered his services to execute it.  The wary mind of that veteran officer at first disapproved of an enterprise so full of peril; but the risks and difficulties that surrounded it, only stimulated the ardour of Decatur, and imparted to it an air of adventure, fascinating to his youthful imagination.

Page 59

[Illustration:  COMMODORE PREBLE.]

The consent of the commodore having been obtained, Lieutenant Decatur selected for the expedition a ketch (the Intrepid) which he had captured a few weeks before from the enemy, and manned her with seventy volunteers, chiefly from his own crew.  He sailed from Syracuse on the 3d of February, 1804, accompanied by the United States brig Syren, Lieutenant Stewart, who was to aid with his boats, and to receive the crew of the ketch, in case it should be found expedient to use her as a fire ship.

After fifteen days of very tempestuous weather, they arrived at the harbor of Tripoli, a little before sunset.  It had been arranged between Lieutenants Decatur and Stewart, that the ketch should enter the harbor about ten o’clock that night, attended by the boats of the Syren.  On arriving off the harbor, the Syren, in consequence of a change of wind, had been thrown six or eight miles without the Intrepid.  The wind at this time was fair, but fast declining, and Lieutenant Decatur apprehended that, should he wait for the Syren’s boats to come up, it might be fatal to the enterprise, as they could not remain longer on the coast, their provisions being nearly exhausted.  For these reasons he determined to venture into the harbor alone, which he did about eight o’clock.

An idea may be formed of the extreme hazard of the enterprise from the situation of the frigate.  She was moored within half gunshot of the bashaw’s castle, and of the principal battery.  Two of the enemy’s cruisers lay within two cables’ length, on the starboard quarter, and their gunboats within half gunshot, on the starboard bow.  All the guns of the frigate were mounted and loaded.  Such were the immediate perils that our hero ventured to encounter with a single ketch, beside the other dangers that abound in a strongly fortified harbor.

Although from the entrance to the place where the frigate lay, was only three miles, yet, in consequence of the lightness of the wind, they did not get within hail of her until eleven o’clock.  When they had approached within two hundred yards, they were hailed and ordered to anchor, or they would be fired into.  Lieutenant Decatur ordered a Maltese pilot, who was on board the ketch, to answer that they had lost their anchors in a gale of wind on the coast, and, therefore, could not comply with their request.  By this time it had become perfectly calm, and they were about fifty yards from the frigate.  Lieutenant Decatur ordered a small boat that was alongside of the ketch, to take a rope and make it fast to the frigate’s fore-chains.  This being done, they began to warp the ketch alongside.  It was not until this moment that the enemy suspected the character of their visitor, and great confusion immediately ensued.  This enabled our adventurers to get alongside of the frigate, when Decatur immediately sprang aboard, followed by Mr. Charles Morris, midshipman.  These two were nearly a minute on deck, before their companions

Page 60

could succeed in mounting the side.  Fortunately, the Turks had not sufficiently recovered from their surprise to take advantage of this delay.  They were crowded together on the quarterdeck, perfectly astonished and aghast, without making any attempt to oppose the assailing party.  As soon as a sufficient number of men had gained the deck to form a front equal to that of the enemy, they rushed in upon them.  The Turks stood the assault for a short time, and were completely overpowered.  About twenty were killed on the spot, many jumped overboard, and the rest flew to the maindeck, whither they were pursued and driven to the hold.

After entire possession had been gained of the ship, and every thing prepared to set fire to her, a number of launches were seen rowing about the harbor.  This determined Lieutenant Decatur to remain on board the frigate, from whence a better defence could be made than from on board the ketch.  The enemy had already commenced firing on them from their batteries and castle, and from two corsairs that were lying near.  Perceiving that the launches did not attempt to approach, he ordered the ship should be set on fire, which was done, at the same time, in different parts.  As soon as this was done, they left her; and such was the rapidity of the flames, that it was with the utmost difficulty they preserved the ketch.  At this critical moment a most propitious breeze sprang up, blowing directly out of the harbor, which, in a few moments, carried them out of reach of the enemy’s guns, and they made good their retreat without the loss of a single man, and with but four wounded.

For this gallant and romantic achievement, Lieutenant Decatur was promoted to the rank of post captain, there being at that time no intermediate grade.  This promotion was peculiarly gratifying to him, insomuch as it was done with the consent of the officers over whose heads he was raised.

In the ensuing spring, it being determined to make an attack upon Tripoli, Commodore Preble obtained from the King of Naples, the loan of six gunboats and two bombards, which he formed into two divisions, and gave the command of one of them to Captain Decatur, the other to Lieutenant Somers.  The squadron sailed from Syracuse, consisting of the frigate Constitution, the brig Syren, the schooners Nautilus and Vixen, and the gunboats.

Having arrived on the coast of Barbary, they were for some days prevented from making the attack, by adverse wind and weather.  At length on the morning of the 3d of August, the weather being favorable, the signal was made from the commodore’s ship to prepare for action, the light vessels towing the gunboats to windward.  At nine o’clock, the signal was given for bombarding the enemy’s vessels and the town.

The gunboats were cast off, and advanced in a line ahead, led on by Captain Decatur, and covered by the frigate Constitution, and the brigs and schooners.

The enemy’s gunboats were moored along the harbor under the batteries and within musket shot.  Their sails had been taken from them, and they were ordered to sink, rather than abandon their position.  They were aided and covered, likewise, by a brig of sixteen, and a schooner of ten guns.

Page 61

Before entering into close action, Captain Decatur went alongside each of his boats, and ordered them to unship their bowsprits and follow him, as it was his intention to board the enemy’s boats.

Lieutenant James Decatur commanded one of the boats belonging to Commodore Preble’s division, but, being farther to windward than the rest of his division, he joined and took orders from his brother.

When Captain Decatur, who was in the leading boat, came within range of the fire from the batteries, a heavy fire was opened upon him from them and the gunboats.  He returned the fire, and continued advancing, until he came in contact with the boats.  At this time, Commodore Preble seeing Decatur advancing nearer than he thought prudent, ordered the signal to be made for a retreat, but it was found that in making out the signals for the boats, the one for a retreat had been omitted.

The enemy’s boats had about forty men each; ours an equal number, twenty-seven of whom were Americans, and thirteen Neapolitans.

Decatur, on boarding the enemy, was instantly followed by his countrymen, but the Neapolitans remained behind.  The Turks did not sustain the combat hand to hand, with that firmness they had obtained a reputation for.  In ten minutes the deck was cleared.  Eight of them sought refuge in the hold, and, of the rest, some fell on the deck, and others jumped into the sea.  Only three of the Americans were wounded.

As Decatur was about to proceed out with his prize, the boat which had been commanded by his brother, came under his stern, and the men informed him that they had engaged and captured one of the enemy; but that her commander, after surrendering, had treacherously shot Lieutenant James Decatur, and pushed off with the boat, and was then making for the harbor.

The feelings of the gallant Decatur, on receiving this intelligence, may be more easily imagined than described.  Every consideration of prudence and safety was lost in his eagerness to punish so dastardly an act, and to revenge the death of a brother so basely murdered.  He pushed within the enemy’s line with his single boat, and having succeeded in getting alongside of the retreating foe, boarded her at the head of eleven men, who were all the Americans he had left.  The fate of this contest was extremely doubtful for about twenty minutes.  All the Americans, except four, were now severely wounded.  Decatur singled out the commander as the peculiar object of his vengeance.  The Turk was armed with an espontoon, Decatur with a cutlass; in attempting to cut off the head of the weapon, his sword struck on the iron, and broke off close to the hilt.  The Turk, at this moment, made a push, which slightly wounded him in the right arm and breast.  He immediately seized the spear, and closed with him.  A fierce struggle ensued, and both fell, Decatur uppermost.  By this time the Turk had drawn a dagger from his belt, and was about to plunge it into the body of his foe, when Decatur caught his arm, and shot him with a pistol, which he drew from his pocket.  During the time they were struggling on the deck, the crews rushed to aid their commanders, and a most sanguinary scene took place, insomuch that when Decatur had despatched his adversary, it was with the utmost difficulty he could extricate himself from the killed and wounded that had fallen around him.

Page 62

It is with no common feeling of admiration that we record an instance of heroic courage, and loyal self-devotion, on the part of a common sailor.

During the early part of Decatur’s struggle with the Turk, he was assailed in the rear by one of the enemy, who had just aimed a blow at his head which must have proved fatal; at this fearful juncture, a noble-hearted tar, who had been so badly wounded as to lose the use of his hands, seeing no other means of saving his commander, rushed between him and the uplifted sabre, and received the blow on his own head, which fractured his skull.  We love to pause and honor great actions in humble life, because they speak well for human nature.  Men of rank and station in society, often do gallant deeds, in a manner from necessity.  Their conspicuous station obliges them to do so, or their eagerness for glory urges them on; but an act like this we have mentioned, so desperate, yet so disinterested, done by an obscure, unambitious individual, a poor sailor, can spring from nothing but nobleness of soul.  We are happy to add that this generous fellow survived, and long after received a pension from government.

Decatur succeeded in getting, with both his prizes, to the squadron, and the next day received the highest commendation, in a general order, from Commodore Preble.  When that able officer was superseded in the command of the squadron, he gave the Constitution to Captain Decatur, who had some time before received his commission.  From that ship he was removed to the Congress, and returned home in her, when peace was concluded in Tripoli.


Commodore Hull became a sailor when he was only eight years old.  He distinguished himself greatly in the naval war with France, and in the war with Tripoli, especially at the capture of Derne, in Africa.

[Illustration:  COMMODORE HULL.]

At the commencement of the war of 1812, Hull having been advanced in the meantime to the rank of captain, was placed in command of the frigate Constitution, in which he was destined to perform those brilliant actions which have rendered him one of the most celebrated heroes of our navy.  His first exploit was the escape of the Constitution from a British squadron, which is justly regarded as one of the most remarkable recorded in naval history.  The account of it contained in the official letter of Captain Hull has all the interest of a romance.  It is as follows: 

     “SIR:—­In pursuance of your orders of the 3d instant, I left
     Annapolis on the 5th instant, and the capes on the 12th, of which I
     advised you by the pilot who brought the ship to sea.

Page 63

For several days after we got out, the wind was light and ahead, which, with a strong southerly current, prevented our making much way to the northward.  On the 17th, at two P.M., being in twenty-two fathoms water off Egg Harbor, four sail of ships were discovered from the masthead, to the northward and in shore of us, apparently ships of war.  The wind being very light all sail was made in chase of them, to ascertain whether they were the enemy’s ships, or our squadron having got out of New York, waiting the arrival of the Constitution, the latter of which I had reason to believe was the case.
At four in the afternoon, a ship was seen from the masthead, bearing about north-east, standing in for us under all sail, which she continued so to do until sundown, at which time she was too far off to distinguish signals, and the ships in shore only to be seen from the tops; they were standing off to the southward and eastward.  As we could not ascertain before dark what the ship in the offing was, I determined to stand for her, and get near enough to make the night signal.
At ten in the evening, being within six or eight miles of the strange sail, the private signal was made, and kept up nearly one hour, but finding she could not answer it, I concluded she and the ships in shore were enemy.
I immediately hauled off to the southward and eastward, and made all sail, having determined to lie off till daylight to see what they were.  The ship that we had been chasing hauled off after us, showing a light, and occasionally making signals, supposed to be for the ships in shore.
On the 18th, at daylight, or a little before it was quite light, saw two sail under our lee, which proved to be frigates of the enemy’s.  One frigate astern within about five or six miles, and a line of battle ship, a frigate, a brig, and a schooner, about ten or twelve miles directly astern, all in chase of us, with a fine breeze, and coming up fast, it being nearly calm where we were.  Soon after sunrise, the wind entirely left us, and the ship would not steer, but fell round off with her head towards the two ships under our lee.  The boats were instantly hoisted out, and sent ahead to tow the ship’s head around, and to endeavor to get her farther from the enemy, being then within five miles of three heavy frigates.  The boats of the enemy were got out and sent ahead to tow, by which, with the light air that remained with them, they came up very fast.  Finding the enemy gaining on us, and but little chance of escaping from them, I ordered two of the guns on the gun deck to be ran out at the cabin windows for stern guns on the gun deck, and hoisted one of the twenty-four pounders off the gun deck, and ran that, with the forecastle gun, an eighteen pounder, out at the ports on the quarter deck, and cleared the ship for action, being determined they should not get her without resistance on our part, notwithstanding

Page 64

their force and the situation we were placed in.
At about seven, in the morning, the ship nearest us approaching within gunshot, and directly astern, I ordered one of the stern guns fired, to see if we could reach her, to endeavor to disable her masts; found the shot fell a little short, would not fire any more.

     [Illustration:  ESCAPE OF THE CONSTITUTION.]

At eight, four of the enemy’s ships nearly within gunshot, some of them having six or eight boats ahead towing, with all their oars and sweeps out, to row them up with us, which they were fast doing.  It now appeared that we must be taken, and that our escape was impossible—­four heavy ships nearly within gunshot, and coming up fast, and not the least hope of a breeze to give us a chance of getting off by out sailing them.
In this situation, finding ourselves in only twenty-four fathoms water, by the suggestion of that valuable officer, Lieutenant Morris, I determined to try and warp the ship ahead, by carrying out anchors and warping her up to them; three or four hundred fathoms of rope was instantly got up, and two anchors got ready and sent ahead, by which means we began to gain ahead of the enemy; they, however, soon saw our boats carrying out the anchors, and adopted the same plan, under very advantageous circumstances, as all the boats from the ships furthermost off were sent to tow and warp up those nearest to us, by which means they again came up, so that at nine, the ship nearest us began to fire her bow guns, which we instantly returned by our stern guns in the cabin and on the quarter deck.  All the shot from the enemy fell short; but we have reason to believe that some of ours went on board her, as we could not see them strike the water.  Soon after nine, a second frigate passed under our lee, and opened her broadside, but finding her shot fall short, discontinued her fire; but continued, as did all the rest of them, to make all possible exertion to get up with us.  From nine to twelve, all hands were employed in warping the ship ahead, and in starting some of the water in the main hold to lighten her, which, with the help of a light air, we rather gained of the enemy, or, at least, held our own.  About two, in the afternoon, all the boats from the line of battle ship and some of the frigates were sent to the frigate nearest us, to endeavor to tow her up, but a light breeze sprung up, which enabled us to hold way with her, notwithstanding they had eight or ten boats ahead, and all her sails furled to tow her to windward.  The wind continued light until eleven at night, and the boats were kept ahead towing and warping to keep out of reach of the enemy, three of the frigates being very near us; at eleven, we got a light breeze from the southward, the boats came along side and were hoisted up, the ship having too much way to keep them ahead, the enemy still in chase and very near.

Page 65

On the 19th, at daylight, passed within gunshot of one of the frigates, but she did not fire on us, perhaps, for fear of becalming her, as the wind was light; soon after passing us she tacked, and stood after us—­at this time six sail were in sight, under all sail after us.  At nine in the morning, saw a strange sail, on our weather beam, supposed to be an American merchant ship; the instant the frigate nearest us saw her, she hoisted American colors, as did all the squadron, in hopes to decoy her down; I immediately hoisted the English colors, that she might not be deceived; she soon hauled her wind, and, as is to be hoped, made her escape.  All this day the wind increased gradually, and we gained on the enemy, in the course of the day, six or eight miles; they, however, continued chasing all night under a press of sail.
On the 20th, at daylight in the morning, only three of them could be seen from the masthead, the nearest of which was about twelve miles off, directly astern.  All hands were set at work wetting the sails, from the royals down, with the engines and fire buckets, and we soon found that we left the enemy very fast.  At a quarter past eight, the enemy finding that they were fast dropping astern, gave over chase, and hauled their wind to the northward, probably for the station off New York.  At half past eight, saw a sail ahead, gave chase after her under all sail.  At nine, saw another strange sail under our lee bow, we soon spoke the first sail discovered, and found her to be an American brig from St. Domingo, bound to Portland; I directed the captain how to steer to avoid the enemy, and made sail for the vessel to leeward; on coming up with her, she proved to be an American brig from St. Bartholomew’s, bound to Philadelphia; but, on being informed of war, he bore up for Charleston, South Carolina.  Finding the ship so far to the southward and eastward, and the enemy’s squadron stationed off New York, which would make it impossible to get in there, I determined to make for Boston, to receive your farther orders, and I hope my having done so will meet your approbation.  My wish to explain to you as clearly as possible why your orders have not been executed, and the length of time the enemy were in chase of us, with various other circumstances, have caused me to make this communication much longer than I could have wished, yet I cannot in justice to the brave officers and crew under my command, close it without expressing to you the confidence I have in them, and assuring you that their conduct while under the guns of the enemy was such as might have been expected from American officers and seamen.  I have the honor to be, with very great respect, sir, your obedient humble servant,


[Illustration:  Hull’s Victory]

Such is Captain Hull’s modest account of this truly brilliant exploit.  Sailing on a cruise immediately after this, with the same frigate, officers, and crew, on the 19th of August he fell in with His Britannic Majesty’s ship Guerriere, rated at thirty-eight guns, and carrying fifty, commanded by Captain Dacres, who, sometime before, had politely endorsed on the register of an American ship an invitation to Captain Hull to give him a meeting of this kind.

Page 66


At half past three, P.M., Captain Hull made out his antagonist to be a frigate, and continued the chase till he was within about three miles, when he cleared for action; the chase backed her main-topsail and waited for him to come down.  As soon as the Constitution was ready, Hull bore down to bring the enemy to close action immediately; but, on coming within gunshot, the Guerriere gave a broadside and filled away and wore, giving a broadside on the other tack; but without effect, her shot falling short.  She then continued wearing and manoeuvring for about three quarters of an hour to get a raking position,—­but, finding she could not, she bore up and ran under her topsails and jib, with the wind on the quarter.  During this time, the Constitution, not having fired a single broadside, the impatience of the officers and men to engage was excessive.  Nothing but the most rigid discipline could have restrained them.  Hull, however, was preparing to decide the contest in a summary method of his own.  He now made sail to bring the Constitution up with her antagonist, and at five minutes before six P.M., being alongside within half pistol shot, he commenced a heavy fire from all his guns, double shotted with round and grape; and so well directed, and so well kept up was the fire, that in sixteen minutes the mizzenmast of the Guerriere went by the board, and her mainyard in the slings, and the hull, rigging, and sails were completely torn to pieces.  The fire was kept up for fifteen minutes longer, when the main and foremast went, taking with them every spar except the bowsprit, and leaving the Guerriere a complete wreck.  On seeing this Hull ordered the firing to cease, having brought his enemy in thirty minutes after he was fairly alongside to such a condition, that a few more broadsides must have carried her down.

The prize being so shattered that she was not worth bringing into port, after removing the prisoners to the Constitution, she was set on fire and blown up.  In the action, the Constitution lost seven killed, and seven wounded; the Guerriere, fifteen killed, sixty-two wounded—­including the captain and several officers, and twenty-four missing.

The news of this victory was received in the United States with the greatest joy and exultation.  All parties united in celebrating it, and the citizens and public authorities vied with each other in bestowing marks of approbation upon Captain Hull and his gallant officers and crew.



This gentleman was one of the old fashioned commodores, a capital sailor, an intrepid warrior, and a thorough going patriot.  He was born in Baltimore, in 1759.  He entered the marine early in life.  At the age of sixteen he served in the expedition of Commodore Hopkins to the Bahama Islands, and continued in active service through the whole revolutionary war.

Page 67

In 1780 he was captured by a British seventy-four, when taking a prize into port and sent with other prisoners to England.  On the passage, the prisoners—­amounting to about sixty—­were confined in the most loathsome of dungeons, without light or pure air, and with a scanty supply of provisions.

They thought when they arrived at Plymouth, that their privations were at an end; but they were only removed to another prison-ship, which, although dirty and crowded, was, in some measure, better than the one they had left.  From this, contrary to expectation, as soon as they were so much recovered as to be able to walk, they were brought on shore and confined in Mill prison, where they met the anxious faces of several hundred American prisoners, who had undergone the same privations as themselves.

This prison was surrounded by two strong walls, twenty feet apart, and was guarded by numerous sentries.  There were small gates in the walls, and these were placed opposite each other, the inner one generally remaining open.  The prisoners were allowed the privilege of the yard nearly all day, and this set the inventive mind of Barney upon the scheme, which, in the end, terminated in his liberty; not, however, without infinite danger and trouble.  He set about finding out some small chance which might afford the least hope of release; and having discovered one of the sentries that had served in the United States, and remembered the kindness with which he had been there treated, Barney and he formed the means of escape.  It was arranged that Barney should affect to have hurt his foot and obtain a pair of crutches, and thus lull suspicion.

On the 18th of May, 1781, he habited himself in the undress uniform of a British officer, the whole covered with a old greatcoat, and, by the aid of the sentinel, cleared the prison; when he threw off the coat, and soon arrived at the house of a well known friend to the American cause, in Plymouth.  That he might not be soon missed, he got a lad, who, after answering to his own name, was to get out, and answer to Barney’s, in the yard, which little stratagem succeeded admirably.  When Barney arrived at the friend’s house, he made preparations to leave as soon as possible, well knowing that if any of the British were detected harboring him, they would be convicted of high treason.  In the evening, therefore, he departed to the house of his friend’s father, at a considerable distance, where he would be safer.  On arriving there, he was surprised to find two of his old friends—­Americans—­who had been, for some time, anxiously waiting for an opportunity of returning home, and now thought that the time had arrived.

Page 68

Lieutenant Barney determined to sail for the French coast, and, for this purpose, he and the two gentlemen purchased a small fishing vessel, and habiting themselves in some fishermen’s old apparel, they set sail on their intended voyage.  Admiral Digby’s fleet lay at the mouth of the river, and our adventurers had to pass through the midst of them, and then run the chance of capture by the numerous British cruisers, which continually ply about the channel.  This was a daring undertaking, as the fleet, he thought, had doubtless received notice of his escape, and the enemy would be rigid in their search.  He, therefore, determined to act with coolness, and, if intercepted, to give such answers to the questions put to him, as might best lull suspicion.  If he was detected, he would pay for the attempt with his life.

He knew that if his escape was detected, it would be immediately communicated to the fleet, and thus lessen his chances; especially as the least unusual appearance in his assumed character, would excite immediate suspicion.  Even should he be able to pass through the fleet, the British channel abounded with the English cruisers, which were quite adept in the art of picking up stragglers.  With these dangers painted in lively colors before his eyes, he preserved his usual self-possession, and inspired with confidence his companions, who had never handled a rope, and relied exclusively upon his daring.

By sunrise, the next morning, they were “under way,” the two gentlemen remaining below, and Lieutenant Barney and the servant being the only ones on deck, to avoid suspicion.  With a good breeze, and a favorable tide, it was not long before they were in the midst of the hostile fleet, which seemed to take no notice of them.  Their hearts beat quick when they were thus hanging between life and death; but as soon as the last of the enemy was passed, they declared themselves safe through that portion of the ordeal.

But what attempt ever ended to the satisfaction of the undertaker?  Before the enemy were clear out of sight, the practised eye of Barney caught a sail which he knew to be bearing down upon him.  He saw that resistance was out of the question; but that if he managed the affair adroitly he might escape.  It was now that he was called upon to exercise that firmness of mind, coolness and contempt of danger, and quickness of resource in time of need, that ever distinguished his character, and showed him to be a man of no ordinary talents.  In less than an hour the privateer—­for such she was—­came alongside, and sent an officer to see “what he wanted steering for a hostile coast.”  The first questions that were put, and answered unhesitatingly, were—­what he had on board? and where he was bound?  Of course he had nothing on board, and his destination was France—­on business of importance from the ministry; at the same time untying the rope that bound the old coat around him, and displaying the British half uniform.  The officer touched his hat, begged pardon, and said he would go on board and report to the commanding officer.

Page 69

The result of the interview was that Barney was made a prisoner once more, and ordered with a prize-master to Plymouth.  But being forced by stress of weather into a small bay, near Plymouth, he contrived to escape from his captors, and find his way to the mansion of the venerable clergyman, at Plymouth.  Deeming it unsafe to remain there, lest he might be discovered, after a few days he set out at midnight in a postchaise for Exeter, and from thence by stages to Bristol, where he had a letter of credit to an American gentleman.

Here he remained for three weeks, and from thence he went to London, directed to a countryman, who received him kindly, and offered his services towards effecting his final escape.  After remaining here for six weeks, he found an opportunity of sailing for France; and after an extremely boisterous and squally passage, reached Ostend, from whence he soon found his way to Amsterdam, where he seized the opportunity of paying his respects to Mr. John Adams, then Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to Holland.  Through the courtesy of this gentleman, he obtained a passage to his own country, and, after some adventures, reached Philadelphia, on the 21st of March, 1782.

But he was not long allowed to enjoy the pleasure which he expected, after such a trial of danger and fatigue.  In less than a week after he arrived at Philadelphia, he was offered the command of the Hyder Ally, of sixteen guns, fitted out by the state authorities of Pennsylvania, to repress the enemy’s privateers, with which the Delaware river abounded.

On the 8th of April, 1782, he entered upon his destined service, which was to convoy a fleet of merchantmen to the capes, and to protect them from the “refugee boats,” with which the river abounded.  While waiting at the capes, he was assailed by two ships and a brig belong to the enemy, who, finding him unsupported, commenced a furious attack, which he sustained with great coolness, while his convoy were safely retiring up the river.  The brig came up first, and gave him a broadside as she was passing; but kept her course up the bay after the convoy, while Barney waited for the ship, which was coming up rapidly.  Having approached within pistol shot, the Hyder Ally poured a broadside into her, which somewhat staggered the enemy, who thought Barney would “strike his colors.”  The enemy seemed disposed to board, and was ranging alongside of him, when he ordered the quarter-master, in a loud voice, to “port the helm!”—­having previously given him secret instructions to put the helm hard a-starboard, which latter order was obeyed; by this manoeuvre the enemy’s jib-boom caught in the fore-rigging of the Hyder Ally, thus giving her a raking position, which Captain Barney knew how to improve.  The firing on both sides was tremendous;—­an idea of it may be obtained from the fact, that more than twenty broadsides were fired in twenty-six minutes!  In the mizzen staystail of the General Monk there

Page 70

were afterwards counted, three hundred and sixty-five shot-holes.  During the whole of this short but glorious battle, Captain Barney was stationed upon the quarterdeck, exposed to the fire of the enemy’s musketry, which was excessively annoying, and began to be felt by the men, insomuch that Captain Barney ordered a body of riflemen, whom he had on board, to direct their fire into the enemy’s top, which immediately had the desired effect.

The capture of the General Monk was one of the most brilliant achievements in naval history.  The General Monk mounted eighteen guns, and had one hundred and thirty-six men, and lost twenty men killed, and thirty-three wounded.  The Hyder Ally had sixteen guns, and one hundred and ten men, and lost four men killed, and eleven wounded.

All the officers of the General Monk were wounded except one.  The captain himself was severely wounded.  The brig which accompanied the enemy ran ashore to avoid capture.  Captain Barney now followed his convoy up to Philadelphia.  After a short visit to his family, he returned to his command, where he soon captured the “Hook-’em-snivy”—­a refugee schooner, which had done a great deal of mischief on the Delaware river.

These captures struck such terror among the privateers, that they began to disperse to more profitable grounds.  In consequence of the glorious actions, Captain Barney was presented with a gold-hilted sword, in the name of the state.









Central Book & Stationary Warehouse,


Corner of Seventh



* * * * *

Nut Cracker and Sugar Dolly





* * * * *

This New Fairy Tale is one of the liveliest, most readable, and most unexceptionable for Children which has ever appeared.


of the


for the Entertainment and Instruction of Young.

* * * * *

This is a neat Volume of 300 pages, with numerous Embellishments.  It is written in a familiar, popular style, and is well suited to the Juvenile, Family or School library.



Page 71

Beautifully Embellished with 24 Engravings of Original Costumes.  One vol.  Square 16mo.  Fine Cloth binding, 50 cts; with Col’d Engravings, 75 cts.

This is a Companion volume to the COSTUMES OF AMERICA, and is equally instructive as well as pleasing for young readers.

Every intelligent Boy should possess a Copy of the Book of Costumes of Europe and America.



* * * * *

A lively book of Rhymes for very little Children.


Square 16mo.  Paper Covers, 12-1/2 cents. 
             Cloth Binding, 25 "








And other stories for Young People.


Square 16mo.  Cloth Binding.

This is a very touching and entertaining Story for Youth.  The Scene is laid in England, and in Italy, the incidents are of a peculiarly interesting character.


* * * * *

An excellent volume for Young People of both sexes, and well calculated to awaken an interest in the History of this Continent.  Illustrated with Twenty-four Engravings of Original Costumes.  One volume, square 16mo.  Cloth, 60 cents.  With Colored Plates, 75 cents.