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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 346 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

Captain Burgess was so exasperated at one of these natives, who had agreed to let the crew have a small bullock, but, upon finding there was no money to pay for it, had driven it away, that he thought it almost justifiable to desire his men to help themselves.  There was, however, one bright exception to this universal hard-heartedness.  A sergeant, named Antonio das Santos, who commanded a small fort of three guns, seeing the unwillingness of the natives to render any aid to the strangers, came forward and asked if anything was wanted that he could supply.  Captain Burgess replied, that both his officers and men stood in great need of food, and that a loan of money for present use would be very acceptable.  The sergeant immediately placed in the captain’s hands forty milreas in copper, and most generously put at his disposal everything he possessed.  The example of this noble-hearted fellow had no effect on the conduct of the rest; their great object seemed to be to make as much gain as possible by the misfortunes of their fellow-creatures, and they went so far as to plunder the wreck, breaking open the chests, and taking possession of their contents whenever an opportunity occurred.

In order to attract the notice of vessels passing near, two flag-staffs had been erected upon the heights, with the ensign downwards; but day after day passed on, and no friendly sail appeared.  The cupidity of the natives was insatiable, and provisions became more and more scarce.  It was not until the 15th of December, ten days after the loss of the Thetis, that a vessel was seen in the offing.  She proved to be the Algerine, which arrived most opportunely, when they were almost reduced to extremity, and brought them the articles of which they were in greatest need.

The next day, just after the Algerine had entered the harbour of Cape Frio, Admiral Baker arrived with a necessary supply of money.  He had attempted the sea-passage from Rio Janeiro, for three days, in his barge, but had been obliged to put back on account of the current, and had then performed the journey of seventy miles overland in forty-eight hours.  From the admiral, Captain Burgess had the satisfaction of hearing that the Druid, Clio, Adelaide, and a French brig of war might be hourly expected.

These all arrived in due course, and took on board the officers and men of the late Thetis, who were safely landed at Rio Janeiro on the 24th of December.

In conclusion, we cannot refrain from noticing the firmness and presence of mind evinced by Captain Burgess under the most appalling circumstances.  After having adopted every available means for saving the ship without effect, he superintended for many hours the disembarkation of the crew, and during all that tedious process he was standing in a heavy surf up to the middle in water; nor could he be persuaded to quit the wreck until not one more of his officers or men would consent to go before him.  Respecting the conduct of the officers and men, we cannot do better than lay before our readers Captain Burgess’s own estimate of its merits.

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Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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