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.

On the first night of his captivity two musket-balls were fired into his room, one of which struck a table at which he had been seated a few moments before.  These murderous attempts were frequently repeated during his imprisonment, and he must inevitably have been shot in his bed, had he not taken the precaution of constantly moving its position, and thus baffled the treacherous designs of his cowardly assailants.

A friendly warning was given to him, that where bullets failed, poison might succeed; and he was thenceforth obliged to watch most narrowly, lest it should be administered in his food.  In this wretched state of suspense, he lingered for four months, when happily he and his officers were released in exchange for nine Dutch clergymen.

We regret that our pen should have to record such treachery as that we have described.  We ask, and others have asked, were these soldiers and gaolers free men and Christians, or were they slaves and heathens?  It must, however, be remembered that politics ran very high at that time; and in this particular instance, at the outbreak of a war, men’s minds were half frantic, and we must not judge of the character of a nation by the isolated acts of a petty colonial government.

THE GRAPPLER.

CHAUSSEY, or Choye, is a group of islets lying off the coast of Normandy, about twenty miles from Jersey, and nine from Granville.  They stretch north, east, and west, and cover a space of nearly twelve miles.  The principal of them is called the Maitre Isle, and is the resort of a few French fishermen during the summer, but being only a rock, and totally devoid of vegetation, its inhabitants are entirely dependent on the neighbouring shores for all the necessaries of life, excepting what their nets may produce.  At the time of which we are writing, the winter of 1803, this group of islets was in the hands of the English, and was the scene of the wreck of the Grappler in that year.

On the 23rd December, 1803, Lieutenant Abel Thomas, commanding His Majesty’s brig Grappler, then stationed at Guernsey, was directed by Admiral Sir James Saumarez to proceed, with some French prisoners on board, to Granville, in Normandy, and there to set them at liberty; after which he was to touch at the islands of Chaussey, on his return to Guernsey, in order to supply twelve French prisoners who were on the Maitre Isle with fifteen days’ provisions.

On the evening of the 23rd,—­the same day that they sailed from Guernsey,—­the Grappler anchored off the north side of Chaussey, but a heavy gale of wind which came on during the night rendered her position so dangerous, that Lieutenant Thomas thought it advisable either to return to Guernsey, or to run into one of the small harbours formed among the rocks, which afford a safe shelter during the severest gales, but are by no means easy of access, and are available only to small vessels, and with

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