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.