Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

II.

THE SAILOR WRECKED ;

OR,

ADVENTURES OF PIETRO QUIRINO, A VENETIAN, IN THE

NORTH SEA, A. D. 1431.

[ocr errors]

memo

THE enterprising commercial spirit which distin

guished the Italian merchants in the middle ages, and made the name of " Lombard

rable, was still active in the fifteenth century ; nor was this energy that of mere bankers and moneylenders, who, whilst sitting at case in their homes, draw to themselves the treasures of distant lands. The merchant of olden times was often the daring mariner, uniting in his own person the triple functions of trader, shipowner, and captain. Such was Pietro Quirino, a rich Venetian merchant, resident in Candia, then possessed by his countrymen. His mind was formed for bold adventure, and longed for that struggle with danger and difficulty so congenial to active spirits. Around him were the bright waves of the Archipelago : on these waters he resolved to seek occupation and fame. Venice had her merchant princes-men who had made St. Mark's flag a standard of glory; their example he resolved to imitate, for he too was a son of Venice. But dangers menaced him on those seas, where a Turkish galley

* All the Italian merchants were, in the middle ages, called Lombards. They were the principal money-lenders of Europe, and had agents in every country. Those in London resided together in Zone place, called from them Lombard-street.

and pirate vessel rode ; but this rather increased than diminished the zeal of Quirino ; glory and profit were both before him. He therefore purchased a valuable assortment of goods, and having stowed them in a stout vessel, resolved to navigate his ship to the coast of Flanders, at that time the centre of the North European commerce. On April the 25th, 1431, he sailed from Candia to exchange the products of the east for the wealth of the Hanse Towns. *

The ship was manned by a crew of sixty-eight men, a necessary guard against the pirates; but Quirino was not assailed by men ; his calamities arose from the fury of the elements, combined with his ignorance of navigation.

Bright was the day when the ardent merchant sailed from Candia-brighter than the brightest skies were his hopes as the sunny cliffs flung back to his distant gaze the light of that evening's setting sun. Glorious were the innumerable rainbows which shed their splendours on the calm waters, as the sun threw his last rays across the deep ; Quirino and his crew might hail the brilliancy as an omen of success ; but deceitful was this calm of the elements. A tempest arose from the north, and drove the vessel toward the African coast —that region so dreaded by the Christian mariner of early times, where the savage and fanatical Moor consigned the shipwrecked mariner to slavery or death. For a whole month did Quirino battle with the elements, thus taking his first lesson in conflict with the deep. At length the ship escaped these perils, and the delighted crew bore through the Straits of Gibraltar for Cadiz, where they took shelter, and commenced refitting the shattered vessel. Again Quirino set sail for a Flemish port ; again the tempest caught his bark, hurrying her to the south-west, far from the desired track, till she reached the Canary Isles. But the cloud-piercing peak of Teneriffe was no safety-guide to Quirino and his storm-beaten crew. Forty-five days was he driven to and fro, and at length forced to run about a thousand miles to the harbour of Lisbon, which he entered August 29th. Thus the adventurous Venetian had drifted, in those ocean zig-zags, nearly two thousand miles ; four months of the summer had passed away, and he no further on his voyage than Lisbon.

* The number of pirates who formerly infested the north sea and river Elbe induced Hamburgh, Lubeck, and other cities, to form a league for the protection of commerce, This celebrated confederation began in 1241, and soon comprehended all the principal trading cities of Europe. The number of cities amounted at one time to eighty-four, the chief of which was Lubeck, where the great meetings of the Union were held. The association was dissolved in 1630. The free cities of Germany are the representatives of this once powerful confederation. The name was derived from hanse, a league.

IIe had longed for occasions of heroism when speculating, in his quiet Candian home, on the lives of great men ; and now the testing time had come. Bravely did Quirino bear his lot ; no thought of return was cherished—no desire to sell his rich cargo in Lisbon, and seek a smoother path to fortune, entered his heart. A second reparation of the tempest-beaten ship was ordered, and upon its completion the sails were again spread on September 14th. Quirino had no sooner left Lisbon than he was driven, strange to say, once more to the Canaries, as if there the rich bark was doomed to sink beneath the wild waves, which, like wrathful sea-sprites, had so long pursued her. On October 26th, the ship anchored in the port of Mures, in the Canaries. And now a noble picture of rational and lofty religious feeling is disclosed to our view. What would some expect to see ?-the crew revelling in the taverns of Mures, flinging care to the winds, and thoughtless of the morrow? A far different scene is before us. Quirino went on shore with all his crew, and led them to a church near the sea, where all joined in a solemn thanksgiving to God for their escape from shipwreck. We often hear of moral courage :” This was truly in the heart of Quirino.

Those mariners, though unequal to our modern sailors in the art of managing a ship, excelled them in religious wisdom. In two days Quirino again sailed, resolved, if possible, to gain the Flemish coast ; and now a favourable breeze sprung up, the hopes of all became strong, and the merchant began to count his gains. With a fair breeze, the ship neared Cape Finisterre and the Bay of Biscay, across which Quirino sought to hold his course, and gain the British Channel. Whilst all hearts were beating high with the hope of gaining the wishedfor point, the wind changed before the ship could enter the channel ; and again she drifted from her course, falling to the west of the Scilly Isles. This brought the vessel near the entrance of the Irish Channel ; but the tempest drove her farther and farther towards the Atlantic Ocean. Thus from April to November Quirino had been struggling with wind and waves ; and now, with winter upon him, is driving fast into an unknown sea. On November 11th his rudder was torn away, and for threo days the ship which held his fortunes drifted like a log before the storm. Now, too, both provisions and the hearts of his crew began to fail ; they gazed on their shattered ship, the wintry sky, and the black heaving sea ; then thought of the bright heavens, warm breezes, and their sunny homes in Candia. What shall Quirino do—their leader and captain ? Retiring to his cabin for a few minutes, he pondered on the condition of his ship and crew ; remedies he could not discover, and therefore, with earnest devotion, began to contemplate death as drawing near.

Having thus prepared his mind for the worst, he returned on deck resolved to leave no means untried to cheer the spirits of his worn-out men. Arduous were the efforts used-outriggers to guide the ship and a fresh rudder were made, but only to be torn away by the sea. The planks of the vessel began to open from her heavy plungings, and the water rushed in through numerous leaks. Still she drifted before the southeast wind, until the vessel reached, at the end of November, some point off the north-west coast of Ireland, having been chased by the storm along the whole line of the Irish western coast. But no rest awaited Quirino ; the ship was borne along toward the Northern Ocean, till about halfway to Iceland, when the vessel being wholly ungovernable, and fast filling with water, the commander resolved to abandon to the sea his ship and rich merchandize of spices, silk, wines, &c. The crew, amounting to sixty-eight men, were disposed of in two boats—forty-seven in the long-boat and twenty-one in the other. On December 17th, they left the sinking vessel, taking in each boat as much biscuit, cheese, bacon, and wine as they could stow away. Thus were these Italian mariners placed in the depth of winter in two open boats in the midst of the Northern Ocean. Their first night came down in dense fog, and the smaller boat was lost. vivors in the long boat stifled their grief and kept their course east, through a sea so heavy that they were forced to fling away a great part of their provisions to ease the boat.

The nights were now twenty hours long, to such high latitudes had they been driven ; the men were drenched by the

The sur

constantly breaking waves, their feet and hands frozen, whilst to add to their distress, food failed, and death from starvation was close upon them. The boat moved on, but her crew was silently leaving her. Before January 3rd, twenty-four out of the forty-seven in the long boat had perished, whilst upon many of the survivors madness was gradually settling, partly from despair, but chiefly from drinking sea-water. They had now been in the boat fifteen days, crushed by storms, hunger, and the bitter frost of the Arctic Ocean. Surrounded by these depressing circumstances, they had run two thousand five hundred miles since leaving the ship. Soon all must perish, and leave their bodies in the boat to stiffen in these frozen regions, for they had reached within eighty miles of the Arctic circle. The 3rd of January dawned upon them, and now daylight lasted only two hours ; but before the sun went down, hope rose upon them, for land was clearly seen by the famished crew. True, the shore was covered with snow, a desolate and savage region did it seem ; but land of the wildest character was now precious. Night came on before they could make the beach, and during the darkness a current drifted the boat past the land. This was a terrible blow; they were too weak to row against the coast stream, and feared they should be driven out to sea. But again land was seen ahead, and the crew, making a desperate effort, got the boat towards a low part of the coast, where a large wave caught her, and threw them on the beach. Some instantly leaped ashore, and snatching up the snow, eagerly devoured it ; their example was followed by the rest, and thus they quenched the fever of their thirst. The boat had been cast upon a desolate rock, called the Saints, from which the exhausted crew tried in vain to escape to another island, being prevented by the leaky state of the boat. Some shelter from the cutting blasts was requisite, or the escape from death in the sea would he exchanged for death by frost. They therefore divided the boat into two parts, and inverted each for sheltering places against the storm. During the short daylight, those who could move were engaged in gathering periwinkles, muscles, and seaweed, for food. This was the apparent end of Quirino's ardent efforts—such the realities which had succeeded to innumerable bright anticipations. The plan for this voyage was matured during many a silent walk on

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »