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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 661 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17.
at the time when the ship was in the most imminent danger, not only shewed himself undaunted, but endeavoured to inspire the same resolution in the men, saying, “My friends, let us not be discouraged, did you never see a ship amongst breakers before?  Let us endeavour to pass her through them.  Come, lend a hand:  here is a sheet, and here is a brace, lay hold:  I don’t doubt but we may stick her yet near enough to the land to save our lives.”  This had so good an effect, that many who before were half dead, seemed active again, and now went to work in earnest.  This Mr Jones did purely to keep up the spirits of the people as long as possible; for he often said afterwards, he thought there was not the least chance of a single man’s being saved.  We now run in between an opening of the breakers, steering by the sheets and braces, when providentially we stuck fast between two great rocks; that to windward sheltered us in some measure from the violence of the sea.  We immediately cut away the main and fore-mast, but the ship kept beating in such a manner, that we imagined she could not hold together but a very little while.  The day now broke, and the weather, that had been extremely thick, cleared away for a few moments, and gave us a glimpse of the land not far from us.  We now thought of nothing but saving our lives.  To get the boats out, as our masts were gone, was a work of some time, which when accomplished, many were ready to jump into the first, by which means they narrowly escaped perishing before they reached the shore.  I now went to Captain Cheap, (who had the misfortune to dislocate his shoulder by a fall the day before, as he was going forward to get the fore-yard swayed up) and asked him if he would not go on shore; but he told me, as he had done before, that he would be the last to leave the ship; and he ordered me to assist in getting the men out as soon as possible.  I had been with him very often from the time the ship first struck, as he desired I would, to acquaint him with every thing that passed; and I particularly remarked, that he gave his orders at that time with as much coolness as ever he had done during the former part of the voyage.

The scene was now greatly changed, for many who but a few minutes before had shewn the strongest signs of despair, and were on their knees praying for mercy, imagining they were now not in that immediate danger, grew very riotous, broke open every chest and box that was at hand, stove in the heads of casks of brandy and wine as they were borne up to the hatch-way, and got so drunk, that some of them were drowned on board, and lay floating about the decks for some days after.  Before I left the ship, I went down to my chest, which was at the bulk-head of the ward-room, in order to save some little matters if possible; but whilst I was there the ship thumped with such violence, and the water came in so fast, that I was forced to get upon the quarter-deck again without saving a single rag but what was upon my back.  The boatswain and some of the people would not leave the ship so long as there was any liquor to be got at; upon which Captain Cheap suffered himself to be helped out of his bed, put into the boat, and carried on shore.

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