The existence of the Esquerques, as we have already stated, had been doubted, but from Captain Raynsford’s exclamation, previous to the ship striking, we may infer that he himself was not sceptical on the subject. From whatever cause this fine frigate may have been lost, the gallantry, at least, and self-devotion of her commander, from the time the vessel first struck, will rescue his memory from reproach.
There’s a prayer and
a tear o’er the lowliest grave;
But thousands lament o’er the fall of the brave;
And thou, whose rare valour and fate we bemoan,—
In the sufferings of others forgetting thy own,—
O’er thy dust, though no trophies nor columns we rear,
Though the storm was thy requiem, the wild wave thy bier;
Yet thy spirit still speaks from its home on the flood,
Still speaks to the gen’rous, the brave, and the good;
Still points to our children the path which you trod,
Who lived for your country, and died in your God.
Three hundred and fifty of the crew perished, while one hundred and forty-one men, with two women, were all who were saved.
ONLY a few weeks after the loss of the Athenienne, and of so many of her crew, a shipwreck occurred in another part of the Mediterranean, attended by circumstances of most painful interest.
His Majesty’s sloop, Nautilus, commanded by Captain Palmer, left the squadron of Sir Thomas Louis in the Hellespont, on the morning of the: 3rd of January, 1807, bearing dispatches of the utmost importance for England.
The wind blowing fresh from the north-east, the sloop continued her course through the Archipelago without danger or mischance, until the evening of the 4th, when she was off Anti Milo; the pilot then gave up his charge, professing himself ignorant of the coast they were now approaching. As the dispatches confided to Captain Palmer were of great moment, he determined to run every hazard rather than retard their delivery. He therefore sailed from Anti Milo at sunset, and shaped his course to Cerigotto. At midnight, the wind had risen to a gale; the night was dark and gloomy; torrents of rain were falling, accompanied by loud and incessant peals of thunder, whilst vivid flashes of lightning ever and anon illuminated for an instant the murky sky, and left all in obscurity more dismal than before.
At two o’clock A.M., the tempest and the darkness having increased, the captain gave orders to close-reef topsails, and prepare for bringing-to until daybreak. A little after three o’clock, a bright flash of lightning discovered to them, the Island of Cerigotto right ahead, and about a mile distant. The captain considered his course to be now clear, and therefore directed all possible sail to be kept on the vessel without endangering the masts, at the same time he congratulated Lieutenant Nesbitt upon their escape from the threatened dangers of the Archipelago.