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himself, but the right moment had been allowed to pass ; no man could approach the magazine through the fiery circle. The sea was now called in, to subdue the flame, and tons of water poured upon the raging furnace. But still the fires and the smoke ascended, making the drifting ship appear like a burning pyramid. Part of the crew now began to look for the means of escape. Quite regardless of the fate of the great body of their companions, these recreants seized one of the boats, into which they all got, and rowed to a distance from the burning ship. The captain was thus abandoned by the most able part of his crew, and enraged at their base desertion, set all sail, and endeavoured to run the cowards down ; but the sails were quickly burned to tinder. The men escaped, and the captain was compelled to depend on the fidelity of his remaining crew. The ship's side was now cut through, and floods of water poured into the hold. But calamity rose upon calamity ; a quantity of oil took fire and added to the danger, whilst every effort to suppress the flames seemed to augment their fury. To complete the awful state of the crew, the sides of the magazine were now on fire, and the removal of the powder was impossible. The crowds on board gazed like men stupified as they saw the fire eat its way step by step into the powder stores. Each was now expecting to hear the roaring of the explosion which must end his earthly career. Desperation nerved some to a daring work, and sixty barrels of powder were at last got overboard, leaving three hundred in the magazine. Further efforts were useless, and the crew were compelled passively to await their certain fate. When L'Orient blew up amid the tumult of battle, no such terrible suspense could be felt ; all were engaged, and every thought occupied by the fierce struggle of Aboukir. Here no activity was possible, all eyes were centred on that spot where blazed the magazine ; all thought of the volcano about to open there—this was the agony of their trial. In the midst of this awful expectation the fire reached the dreaded spot, and the ship blew up with one hundred and nineteen persons.
The captain, Bontekoe, afterwards wrote an account of this wreck, and gives a vivid description of his sensations upon recovering from the stunning effects of the explosion. He found himself in the water surrounded by fragments of burning timber, to one of which he clung. In this situation he saw one of his crew swimming past him, to whom he called ; and both got upon a larger piece of the wreck. Besides this young man, no being was visible ; but ere night closed upon them, the two boats, which had escaped from the ship before the explosion, drew near, in the hope of saving some of the crew. They found their captain and the young man, but searched in vain for others. No ripple marked the circle where one hundred and seventeen ocean graves had been so quickly formed, and all seemed hushed after that fatal thunder peal.
After hovering for some time around the destroyed vessel, the boats departed to search for a path to some land over the lonely waters. In the boats were seventy-two persons, and only about eight pounds of biscuit ; as for water, they had none. The crews rowed away from the wreck, impelled by a species of madness; but the captain, knowing that land must be distant, advised the men to lay aside their oars, and reserve their strength for the privations which might await them. To impel the boat onwards the men tore up their shirts for sails, and thus were enabled to steer in a direction which it was hoped would lead them to Batavia. Intense thirst was soon produced by their anxieties and the heat of the climate, which some rain caught in a sail, and drank from a shoe, but slightly alleviated. It was soon found that the cutter could not keep up with the launch, whereupon the selfish crew of the latter cut the tow rope by which the cutter had been for some time drawn along. Thus the very men whose desertion of their captain caused the loss of the ship, were now equally ready to abandon their companions to drowning or starvation. Extremes of selfishto wear out the bodies of both officers and men. Some lay down in the bottom of the boat, and quietly yielded themselves to death ; others, half maddened by thirst, drank seawater, and were soon reduced to the delirium consequent upon such drink. Thus a fearful spectacle might have been seen in the slowly moving boat: some with fever-blackened lips cursing their companions ; others, calmly desperate, longed for the billows to sink the famine-stricken group ; many laughed wildly, as with frenzied eye they gazed on the waste of waters ; and few retained the patience and coolness required by their sad condition. One day, when the last hope was leaving the stoutest heart, a crowd of flying fish* suddenly rose from the calm waves, and, becoming entangled in the sails, were caught by those who had struggled to grasp the prey. They were instantly eaten raw, and the ravenous men thus alleviated for a brief space their hunger. Many kept on the watch for a fresh shoal of these fish, but no more were taken. It was at length whispered by a few that some must die to appease the hunger of the rest, and two or three boys were selected as the most suitable victims. By degrees the whisper spread ; none rejected the horrid proposal, and at length the fatal murmur reached the captain's ears. He besought, reasoned, and threatened, by turns ; assured the men that land could not be far off, but all in vain ; the utmost he could procure was a promise to wait for three days, when, if no relief appeared, some of the boys must die. Those familiar with maritime annals will recal various instances of famine-maddened crews adopting a resolution so horrible to our contemplation. We can but pause and pity those men—unquestionably bravewho have been led by a tremendous combination of circumstances to such depths of misery. In the present case, however, murder was to be added to cannibalism, and thus the horror of the miserable scene is deepened by its alliance with crime. The savage, feeding on the dead body of his foe, is a disgusting spectacle ; but to see the civilized man murdering his fellow-creature, for food, fills us with dismay. The misery was, however, terminated, and the crime prevented, by a discovery of land on the last of the three days named by the men as a limit to their forbearance. The land was an uninhabited island, on which cocoa-nuts were found ; the milk of which being used to alleviate their thirst, their strength was in some measure restored. After some further perils and sufferings the boat reached the Dutcin settlements in Java.
are sometimes met with in retreating armies, when lacerated men are abandoned on the road-side or covered heaths, by their companions ; but such heartlessness is still more revolting when exercised on the wild ocean-tracks, where the sternness of solitude should knit man to man in closer brotherhood. The cutter, however, managed, by desperate efforts, to keep up with the large boat, and her crew were at last prevailed on by the captain to receive their fellow-sufferers into the launch. In a short time all their food was exhausted, and famine began
* These fish frequent the tropical seas, are about the size of a herring, and furnished with two pairs of fins, moved by powerful muscles, which the fish uses as wings to rise from the water. The flight is about two hundred yards.
From Batavia Captain Bontekoe returned to Holland at the close of the
1625. Often in the quietude of his dwelling at Horn did his thoughts return to that moment when the roar of his ship’s conflagration thundered in his
Frequently, when sea-perils became the subject of remark, would the old captain describe the terrors of the crew when the sides of the powder-filled magazine were on fire, and the strange calm which took away
all dread from his mind whilst expecting the crash.
THE SAILOR ENSLAVED;
ADVENTURES OF JOHN FOXE, AN ENGLISH SAILOR, TAKEN
CAPTIVE BY THE TURKS IN 1563.
He enterprising mariners of the sixteenth century
had to contend with a foe unknown to the modern navigators of European seas. Swarms of
Turkish pirates then infested the sea, especially the Mediterranean,* from whom the Christian sailor had little to expect save perpetual captivity or a miserable death. These vile pests of the ocean-highways were more dreaded by mariners and traders than the storm or hidden rock.
The events narrated in this chapter will partly exhibit the maritime perils to which allusion has been made, and the audacity of the Turkish robbers before the decisive battle of Lepantot had nipped the blossom of their pride. In the year 1563, a ship named “ The Three Half-Moons" left Portsmouth with a cargo for Seville, having a crew of thirtyeight men on board. All went well till near the close of the voyage, and the ship was nearing the mouth of the Guadalquiver, with every hope of a prosperous result, when eight Turkish galleys suddenly appeared between the vessel and
* Even so late as the reign of Charles II. the British Channel was infested by Turkish pirates, who actually made descents on the Irish coasts.
+ This battle was fought 1571, in the Gulf of Lepanto, formerly called the Corinthian Gulf. The fleets of Spain, Venice, and the Papal States joined, and completely defeated the grand Turkish navy of two hundred and eighty galleys.