Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

Captain Galloway died in 1846.


[15] Parliamentary Report, 255.


At the close of 1815, the Court of Directors of the East India Company having represented to the British Government the impediments thrown in the way of our trade with China, by the impositions practised by the local authorities at Canton, it was determined to send an embassy to the court of Pekin.

Lord Amherst was selected to undertake the mission, and Mr. Henry Ellis was appointed secretary to the embassy.

The Alceste, a frigate of 46 guns, under the command of Captain, afterwards Sir Murray Maxwell, was fitted up for the reception of the ambassador and his suite.

On the 9th of February, 1816, the expedition sailed from Spithead, and arrived in the China seas about the middle of July following.  It is not in our province to give any account of the proceedings of the embassy, which have already been so ably described, and are well known.

His excellency, having accomplished the object of his mission, took his departure from China on the 9th of January, 1817, arrived at Manilla on the 3rd of February, and finally sailed from thence in the Alceste, on the 9th of the same month.

Captain Maxwell directed the ship’s course to be steered towards the Straits of Gaspar, in preference to those of Banca, as affording, at that period of the monsoon, the most convenient and speedy egress from the China seas; and though this passage is not so often taken as that of Banca, the Gaspar Straits appeared by the plans and surveys laid down in the Admiralty charts, as well as in those of the East India Company, to be, not only wider, but to have a much greater depth of water, and to offer fewer difficulties to navigation.

Early on the morning of the 18th of February, they made the Island of Gaspar, and in a short time, Pulo Leat, or Middle Island, was descried from the mast-head.  The weather was remarkably fine and clear,—­a mild breeze blowing from the north-west, and the surface of the water gently agitated by the current, which perpetually sets through the straits, either to the south-east or south-west, according to the monsoon.

The sea, which is usually so clear in these climates, had been greatly discoloured that morning by a quantity of fish spawn, a circumstance of not unfrequent occurrence in those seas; and the navigation being thus rendered more dangerous, unusual precautions were taken for ensuring the safety of the ship.  A man was stationed at the foretopmast head, and others at the fore-yardarms.  Captain Maxwell, with the master and other officers, was upon deck, ’steering, under all these guarded circumstances,’ (writes an eye-witness,) ’the soundings corresponding so exactly with the charts, and following the express line prescribed by all concurring

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