Shipwreck Of The French Frigate Medusa

On the Western Coast of Africa. By MADAME DARD, one of the


In the year 1816, an expedition was fitted out by the French to go and

resume possession of Senegal, which had been restored to them.--My

father was reinstated in his place of resident attorney, and taking

with him his family repaired immediately to Rochefort to embark on

board the Medusa frigate.

Early on the morning of the 12th of June, we were on our way to the

boats that were to convey us on board the Medusa, which was riding at

anchor off the island of Aix, distant about four leagues from

Rochefort. The field through which we passed was sown with corn.

Wishing before I left our beautiful France, to make my farewell to the

flowers, and, whilst our family went leisurely forward to the place

where we were to embark upon the Charente, I crossed the furrows, and

gathered a few blue-bottles and poppies. We soon arrived at the place

of embarkation, where we found some of our fellow passengers, who,

like myself, seemed casting a last look to Heaven, whilst they were

yet on the French soil.--We embarked, however and left these happy

shores. In descending the tortuous course of the Charente, contrary

winds so impeded our progress, that we did not reach the Medusa till

the morrow, having taken twenty-four hours in sailing four leagues. At

length we mounted the deck of the Medusa, of painful memory. When we

got on board, we found our berths not provided for us, consequently

were obliged to remain indiscriminately together till the next day.

Our family, which consisted of nine persons, was placed in a berth

near the main deck. As the wind was still contrary, we lay at anchor

for seventeen days.

On the 17th of June, at four in the morning, we set sail as did the

whole expedition, which consisted of the Medusa frigate, the Loire

store-ship, the Argus brig and the Echo corvette. The wind being

favorable, we soon lost sight of the green fields of l'Aunis. At six

in the morning, however, the island of Rhe still appeared above the

horizon. We fixed our eyes upon it with regret, to salute for the last

time our dear country. Now, imagine the ship borne aloft, and

surrounded by huge mountains of water, which at one moment tossed it

in the air, and at another plunged it into the profound abyss.

The waves, raised by a stormy northwest breeze, came dashing in a

horrible manner against the sides of our ship.--I knew not whether it

was a presentiment of the misfortune which menaced us that had made me

pass the preceding night in the most cruel inquietude. In my

agitation, I sprang upon deck, and contemplated with horror the

frigate winging its way upon the waters. The winds pressed against the

sails with great violence, strained and whistled among the cordage;

and the great bulk of wood seemed to split every time the surge broke

upon its sides. On looking a little out to sea I perceived at no great

distance on our right, all the other ships of the expedition, which

quieted me very much. Towards ten in the morning the wind changed;

immediately an appalling cry was heard, concerning which the

passengers, as well as myself, were equally ignorant. The whole crew

were in motion. Some climbed the rope ladders, and seemed to perch on

the extremities of the yards; others mounted to the highest parts of

the mast; these bellowing and pulling the cordages in cadence; those

crying, swearing, whistling, and filling the air with barbarous and

unknown sounds. The officer on duty, in his turn, roaring out these

words, starboard, larboard, hoist, luff, tack, which the helmsman

repeated in the same tone. All this hubbub, however, produced its

effect; the yards were turned on their pivots, the sails set, the

cordage tightened, and the unfortunate sea-boys having received their

lesson descended to the deck. Every thing remained tranquil, except

that the waves still roared, and the masts continued their creaking.

However the sails were swelled, the wind less violent, though

favorable, and the mariner, while he caroled his song, said we had a

noble voyage.

During several days we did indeed enjoy a delightful passage. All the

ships of the expedition still kept together, but at length the breeze

became changeable, and they all disappeared. The Echo, however, still

kept in sight, and persisted in accompanying us, as if to guide us on

our route. The wind becoming more favorable, we held due south,

sailing at the rate of sixty-two leagues a day. The sea was so fine,

and our journey so rapid, that I began to think it nearly as agreeable

to travel by sea as by land; but my illusion was not of long duration.

On the 28th of June, at six in the morning, we discovered the Peak of

Teneriffe, towards the south, the summit of whose cone seemed lost in

the clouds. We were then distant about two leagues, which we made in

less than a quarter of an hour. At ten o'clock we brought to before

the town of St. Croix. Several officers got leave to go on shore to

procure refreshments.

While these gentlemen were away, a certain passenger, member of the

self-instituted Philanthropic Society of Cape Verd, suggested that it

was very dangerous to remain where we were, adding that he was well

acquainted with the country, and had navigated in all these latitudes.

M. Le Roy Lachaumareys, captain of the Medusa, believing the pretended

knowledge of the intriguing Richefort, gave him the command of the

frigate. Various officers of the navy, represented to the captain how

shameful it was to put such confidence in a stranger, and they would

never obey a man who had no character as a commander. The captain

despised these wise remonstrances; and, using his authority, commanded

the pilots, and all the crew, to obey Richefort; saying he was king,

since the orders of the king were, that they should obey him.

Immediately the imposter, desirous of displaying his great skill in

navigation, made them change the route, for no purpose, but that of

showing his skill in manoeuvring the ship.--Every instant he changed

the tack, went, came and returned, and approached the very reefs, as

if to brave them; in short, he beat about so much, that the sailors at

length refused to obey him, saying boldly that he was a vile imposter.

But it was done. The man had gained the confidence of Captain

Lachaumareys, who ignorant of navigation himself, was doubtless glad

to get someone to undertake his duty. But it must be told, that this

blind inept confidence was the sole cause of the loss of the Medusa

frigate, as well as all the crimes consequent upon it.

Towards three in the afternoon, those officers who went on shore in

the morning, returned on board loaded with vegetables, fruits and

flowers. They laughed heartily at the manoeuvres that had been going

on during their absence, which doubtless did not please the captain,

who flattered himself he had already found in his pilot Richefort, a

good and able seaman; such were his words.

At four in the afternoon we took a southerly direction. M. Richefort,

then beaming with exultation for having, as he said, saved the Medusa

from certain shipwreck, continued to give his pernicious counsels to

the captain, persuading him he had been often employed to explore the

shores of Africa, and that he was perfectly well acquainted with the

Arguin Bank. The journals of the 29th and 30th afford nothing very


The hot winds from the desert of Sahara began to be felt, which told

us we approached the tropic; indeed, the sun at noon seemed suspended

perpendicularly above our heads, a phenomenon which few among us had

ever seen.

On the 1st of July, we recognised Cape Bojador, and then saw the

shores of Sahara. Towards ten in the morning, they set about the

frivolous ceremony which the sailors have invented for the purpose of

exacting something from those passengers who have never crossed the

line. During the ceremony, the frigate doubled Cape Barbas hastening

to its destruction. Captain Lachaumareys very good humoredly presided

at this species of baptism, while his dear Richefort promenaded the

forecastle, and looked with indifference upon a shore bristling with

dangers. However that may be, all passed on well; nay, it may even be

said that the farce was well played off. But the route which we

pursued soon made us forget the short lived happiness we had

experienced. Every one began to observe the sudden change which had

taken place in the color of the sea, as we ran upon the bank in

shallow water. A general murmur arose among the passengers and

officers of the navy;--they were far from partaking in the blind

confidence of the captain.

On the second of July, at five in the morning, the captain was

persuaded that a large cloud, which was discovered in the direction of

Cape Blanco, was that Cape itself. After this pretended discovery,

they ought to have steered to the west, for about fifty leagues, to

have gained sea room to double with certainty the Arguin Bank;

moreover, they ought to have conformed to the instructions the

Minister of Marine had given to the ships which set out for Senegal.

The other part of the expedition, from having followed these

instructions arrived in safety at their destination. During the

preceding night, the Echo, which had hitherto accompanied the Medusa,

made several signals, but being replied to with contempt, abandoned

us. Towards ten in the morning, the danger which threatened us was

again represented to the captain, and he was strongly urged, if he

wished to avoid the Arguin Bank, to take a westerly course; but the

advice was again neglected, and he despised the predictions. One of

the officers of the frigate, from having wished to expose the

intriguing Richefort, was put under arrest. My father, who had already

twice made the voyage to Senegal, and who with various persons was

persuaded they were going right upon the bank, also made his

observations to the unfortunate pilot.--His advice was no better

received than those of Messrs. Reynaud, Espiau, Maudet, &c. Richefort,

in the sweetest tone, replied, 'My dear, we know our business; attend

to yours, and be quiet. I have already twice passed the Arguin Bank; I

have sailed upon the Red Sea, and you see I am not drowned.' What

reply could be made to such a preposterous speech? My father, seeing

it was impossible to get our route changed, resolved to trust to

Providence to free us from our danger, and descended to our cabin,

where he sought to dissipate his fears in the oblivion of sleep.

At noon on the 2d of July, soundings were taken. M. Maudet, ensign of

the watch, was convinced we were upon the edge of the Arguin Bank. The

captain said to him, as well as to every one, that there was no cause

of alarm. In the meanwhile, the wind blowing with great violence,

impelled us nearer and nearer to the danger which menaced us.--A

species of stupor overpowered all our spirits, and every one preserved

a mournful silence, as if they were persuaded we would soon touch the

bank. The color of the water entirely changed, a circumstance even

remarked by the ladies. About three in the afternoon, being in 19 30

north latitude, and 19 45 west longitude, an universal cry was heard

upon deck. All declared they saw sand rolling among the ripple of the

sea. The captain in an instant ordered to sound.--The line gave

eighteen fathoms; but on a second sounding it only gave six. He at

last saw his error, and hesitated no longer on changing the route, but

it was too late. A strong concussion told us the frigate had struck.

Terror and consternation were instantly depicted on every face. The

crew stood motionless; the passengers in utter despair. In the midst

of this general panic, cries of vengeance were heard against the

principal author of our misfortunes, wishing to throw him overboard;

but some generous persons interposed, and endeavored to calm their

spirits, by diverting their attention to the means of our safety. The

confusion was already so great, that McPoinsignon, commandant of a

troop, struck my sister Caroline a severe blow, doubtless thinking it

was one of his soldiers. At this crisis my father was buried in

profound sleep, but he quickly awoke, the cries and the tumult upon

deck having informed him of our misfortunes. He poured out a thousand

reproaches on those whose ignorance and boasting had been so

disastrous to us. However, they set about the means of averting our

danger. The officers, with an altered voice, issued their orders

expecting every moment to see the ship go in pieces. They strove to

lighten her, but the sea was very rough and the current strong. Much

time was lost in doing nothing; they only pursued half measures and

all of them unfortunately failed.

When it was discovered that the danger of the Medusa was not so great

as was at first supposed, various persons proposed to transport the

troops to the island of Arguin, which was conjectured to be not far

from the place where we lay aground. Others advised to take us all

successively to the coast of the desert of Sahara, by the means of our

boats, and with provisions sufficient to form a caravan, to reach the

island of Saint Louis, at Senegal. The events which afterwards ensued

proved this plan to have been the best, and which would have been

crowned with success; unfortunately it was not adopted. M. Schmaltz,

the governor, suggested the making of a raft of sufficient size to

carry two hundred men, with provisions; which latter plan was seconded

by the two officers of the frigate, and put in execution.

The fatal raft was then begun to be constructed, which would, they

said, carry provisions for every one. Masts, planks, boards and

cordage were thrown overboard. Two officers were charged with the

framing of these together.--Large barrels were emptied and placed at

the angles of the machine, and the workmen were taught to say, that

the passengers would be in greater security there, and more at their

ease, than in the boats. However, it was forgotten to erect rails,

every one supposed, and with reason, that those who had given the plan

of the raft, had had no design of embarking upon it themselves.

When it was completed, the two chief officers of the frigate publicly

promised, that all the boats would tow it to the shore of the Desert;

and, when there, stores of provisions and fire-arms would be given us

to form a caravan to take us all to Senegal. Why was not this plan

executed?--Why were these promises, sworn before the French flag, made

in vain? But it is necessary to draw a veil over the past. I will only

add, that if these promises had been fulfilled, every one would have

been saved, and that, in spite of the detestable egotism of certain

personages, humanity would not now have had to deplore the scenes of

horror consequent on the wreck of the Medusa.

On the 3d of July, the efforts were renewed to disengage the frigate,

but without success. We then prepared to quit her. The sea became very

rough, and the wind blew with great violence. Nothing now was heard

but the plaintive and confused cries of a multitude, consisting of

more than four hundred persons, who, seeing death before their eyes,

deplored their hard fate in bitter lamentations.

On the 4th, there was a glimpse of hope. At the hour the tide flowed,

the frigate, being considerably lightened by all that had been thrown

overboard, was found nearly afloat; and it is very certain, if on that

day they had thrown the artillery into the water, the Medusa would

have been saved; but M. Lachaumareys said, he would not thus sacrifice

the king's cannon, as if the frigate did not belong to the king

also.--However, the sea ebbed, and the ship sinking into the sand

deeper than ever, made them relinquish that on which depended our last

ray of hope.

On the approach of night, the fury of the winds redoubled, and the sea

became very rough. The frigate then received some tremendous

concussions, and the water rushed into the hold in the most terrific

manner, but the pumps would not work. We had now no alternative but to

abandon her for the frail boats, which any single wave might

overwhelm.--Frightful gulfs environed us; mountains of water raised

their liquid summits in the distance. How were we to escape so many

dangers? Whither could we go? What hospitable land would receive us on

its shores? My thoughts then reverted to our beloved country. Then

starting suddenly from my reverie, I exclaimed: 'O terrible condition!

that black and boundless sea resembles the eternal night which will

engulf us! All those who surround me seem yet tranquil, but that fatal

calm will soon be succeeded by the most frightful torments. Fools,

what had we to find in Senegal, to make us trust to the most

perfidious of elements! Did France not afford every necessary for our

happiness? Happy! yes, thrice happy, they who never set foot on a

foreign soil! Great God! succor all these unfortunate beings; save our

unhappy family!'

My father perceived my distress, but how could he console me? What

words could calm my fears, and place me above the apprehensions of

those dangers to which we were exposed? How, in a word, could I assume

a serene appearance, when friends, parents and all that was most dear

to me were, in all human probability, on the very verge of

destruction?--Alas! my fears were but too well founded. For I soon

perceived that, although we were the only ladies, besides the Misses

Schmaltz, who formed a part of the Governor's suit, they had the

barbarity of intending our family to embark upon the raft, where were

only soldiers sailors and planters of Cape Verd, and some generous

officers who had not the honor (if it could be accounted one) of being

considered among the ignorant confidants of MM. Schmaltz and

Lachaumareys. My father, indignant at a proceeding so indecorous,

swore we would not embark upon the raft, and that, if we were not

judged worthy of a place in one of the six boats, he would himself,

his wife and children, remain on board the wreck of the frigate. The

tone in which he spoke these words, was that of a man resolute to

avenge any insult that might be offered to him. The governor of

Senegal, doubtless fearing the world would one day reproach him for

his inhumanity, decided we should have a place in one of the boats.

This having in some measure quieted our fears concerning our

unfortunate situation, I was desirous of taking some repose, but the

uproar among the crew was so great I could not obtain it.

Towards midnight, a passenger came to inquire of my father if we were

disposed to depart; he replied, we had been forbid to go yet. However,

we were soon convinced that a great part of the crew and various

passengers were secretly preparing to set off in the boats. A conduct

so perfidious could not fail to alarm us, especially as we perceived

among those so eager to embark unknown to us, several who had

promised, but a little while before, not to go without us.

M. Schmaltz, to prevent that which was going on upon deck, instantly

rose to endeavor to quiet their minds; but the soldiers had already

assumed a threatening attitude, and holding cheap the words of their

commander, swore they would fire upon whosoever attempted to depart in

a clandestine manner. The firmness of these brave men produced the

desired effect, and all was restored to order. The governor returned

to his cabin; and those who were desirous of departing furtively were

confused and covered with shame. The governor, however, was ill at

ease; and as he had heard very distinctly certain energetic words

which had been addressed to him, he judged it proper to assemble a

council.--All the officers and passengers being collected,

M. Schmaltz, there solemnly swore before them not to abandon the raft,

and a second time promised that all the boats would tow it to the

shore of the Desert, where they would all be formed into a caravan. I

confess this conduct of the governor greatly satisfied every member of

our family; for we never dreamed he would deceive us, nor act in a

manner contrary to what he had promised.

About three in the morning, some hours after the meeting of the

council, a terrible noise was heard in the powder room; it was the

helm which was broken. All who were sleeping were roused by it. On

going on deck every one was more and more convinced that the frigate

was lost beyond all recovery. Alas! the wreck was for our family but

the commencement of a horrible series of misfortunes. The two chief

officers then decided with one accord, that all should embark at six

in the morning, and abandon the ship to the mercy of the waves. After

the decision, followed a scene the most whimsical, and at the same

time the most melancholy that can be well conceived. To have a more

distinct idea of it, let the reader transport himself in imagination

to the midst of the liquid plains of the ocean: then let him picture

to himself a multitude of all classes, of every age, tossed about at

the mercy of the waves upon a dismasted vessel, foundered, and half

submerged, let him not forget these are thinking beings with the

certain prospect before them of having reached the goal of their


Separated from the rest of the world by a boundless sea, and having no

place of refuge but the wreck of a grounded vessel, the multitude

addressed at first their vows to heaven, and forgot, for a moment, all

earthly concerns. Then suddenly starting from their lethargy, they

began to look after their wealth, the merchandise they had in small

ventures, utterly regardless of the elements which threatened them.

The miser, thinking of the gold contained in his coffers, hastening to

put it in a place of safety, either by sewing it into the lining of

his clothes, or by cutting out for it a place in the waistband of his

trowsers. The smuggler was tearing his hair at not being able to save

a chest of contraband which he had secretly got on board, and with

which he had hoped to have gained two or three hundred per cent.

Another, selfish to excess, was throwing overboard all his hidden

money, and amusing himself by burning all his effects. A generous

officer was opening his portmanteau, offering caps, stockings, and

shirts, to any who would take them. These had scarcely gathered

together their various effects, when they learned that they could not

take anything with them; those were searching the cabin and

store-rooms to carry away everything that was valuable. Ship-boys were

discovering the delicate wines and fine liquors, which a wise

foresight had placed in reserve. Soldiers and sailors were penetrating

even into the spirit-room, broaching casks, staving others and

drinking till they fell exhausted. Soon the tumult of the inebriated

made us forget the roaring of the sea which threatened to engulf us.

At last the uproar was at its height; the soldiers no longer listened

to the voice of the captain. Some knit their brows and muttered oaths;

but nothing could be done with those whom wine had rendered furious.

Next, piercing cries mixed with doleful groans were heard--this was

the signal of departure.

At six o'clock on the morning of the 5th, a great part of the military

were embarked upon the raft, which was already covered with a large

sheet of foam. The soldiers were expressly prohibited from taking

their arms. A young officer of infantry, whose brain seemed to be

powerfully affected, put his horse beside the barricadoes of the

frigate, and then, armed with two pistols, threatened to fire upon any

one who refused to go upon the raft. Forty men had scarcely descended

when it sunk to the depth of about two feet. To facilitate the

embarking of a greater number, they were obliged to throw over several

barrels of provisions which had been placed upon it the day before. In

this manner did this furious officer get about one hundred and fifty

heaped upon that floating tomb; but he did not think of adding one

more to the number by descending himself, as he ought to have done,

but went peaceably away, and placed himself in one of the best boats.

There should have been sixty sailors upon the raft, and there were but

about ten. A list had been made out on the 4th, assigning each his

proper place: but this wise precaution being disregarded, every one

pursued the plan he deemed the best for his own preservation. The

precipitation with which they forced one hundred and fifty unfortunate

beings upon the raft was such, that they forgot to give them one

morsel of biscuit. However, they threw towards them twenty-five pounds

in a sack, while they were not far from the frigate; but it fell into

the sea, and was with difficulty recovered.

During this disaster, the governor of Senegal, who was busied in the

care of his own dear self, effeminately descended in an arm-chair into

the barge, where were already various large chests, all kinds of

provisions, his dearest friends, his daughters and his wife.

Afterwards the captain's boat received twenty-seven persons, among

whom were twenty-five sailors, good rowers. The shallop, commanded by

M. Espiau, ensign of the ship, took forty-five passengers, and put

off. The boat, called the Senegal, took twenty-five; the pinnace

thirty-three; and the yawl, the smallest of all the boats, took only


Almost all the officers, the passengers, the mariners and

supernumeraries, were already embarked--all, but our weeping family,

who still remained upon the boards of the frigate, till some

charitable souls would kindly receive us into a boat. Surprised at

this abandonment, I instantly felt myself roused, and, calling with

all my might to the officers of the boats, besought them to take our

unhappy family along with them. Soon after, the barge, in which were

the governor of Senegal and all his family, approached the Medusa, as

if still to take some passengers, for there were but few in it. I made

a motion to descend, hoping that the Misses Schmaltz, who had, till

that day, taken a great interest in our family, would allow us a place

in their boat; but I was mistaken: those ladies, who had embarked in a

mysterious incognito, had already forgotten us; and M. Lachaumareys,

who was still on the frigate, positively told me they would not embark

along with us. Nevertheless I ought to tell, what we learned

afterwards, that the officer who commanded the pinnace had received

orders to take us in, but, as he was already a great way from the

frigate, we were certain he had abandoned us. My father however hailed

him, but he persisted on his way to gain the open sea. A short while

afterwards we perceived a small boat among the waves, which seemed

desirous to approach the Medusa; it was the yawl. When it was

sufficiently near, my father implored the sailors who were in it to

take us on board, and to carry us to the pinnace, where our family

ought to be placed. They refused. He then seized a firelock, which lay

by chance upon deck, and swore he would kill every one of them if they

refused to take us, adding that it was the property of the king, and

that he would have advantage from it as well as another. The sailors

murmured, but durst not resist, and received all our family, which

consisted of nine persons, viz. four children, our step-mother, my

cousin, my sister Caroline, my father and myself. A small box filled

with valuable papers, which we wished to save, some clothes, two

bottles of ratafia, which we had endeavored to preserve amidst our

misfortunes, were seized and thrown overboard by the sailors of the

yawl, who told us we would find in the pinnace everything we could

wish for our voyage. We had then only the clothes which covered us,

never thinking of dressing ourselves in two suits; but the loss which

affected us most was that of several MSS, at which my father had been

laboring for a long while. Our trunks, our linen and various chests of

merchandize of great value, in a word, everything we possessed, was

left in the Medusa. When we boarded the pinnace, the officer who

commanded it began excusing himself for having set off without

forewarning us, as he had been ordered, and said a thousand things in

his justification. But without believing the half of his fine

protestations, we felt very happy in having overtaken him; for it is

most certain they had no intention of encumbering themselves with our

unfortunate family. I say encumber, for it is evident that four

children, one of whom was yet at the breast, were very indifferent

beings to people who were actuated by a selfishness without all

parallel. When we were seated in the long boat, my father dismissed

the sailors with the yawl, telling them he would ever gratefully

remember their services. They speedily departed, but little satisfied

with the good action they had done. My father hearing their murmurs

and the abuse they poured out against us, said, loud enough for all in

the boat to hear, 'We are not surprised sailors are destitute of

shame, when their officers blush at being compelled to do a good

action.' The commandant of the boat feigned not to understand the

reproaches conveyed in these words, and, to divert our minds from

brooding over our wrongs, endeavored to counterfeit the man of


All the boats were already far from the Medusa, when they were brought

to, to form a chain in order to tow the raft.--The barge, in which was

the governor of Senegal, took the first tow, then all the other boats

in succession joined themselves to that. M. Lachaumareys embarked,

although there yet remained upon the Medusa more than sixty

persons.--Then the brave and generous M. Espiau, commander of the

shallop, quitted the line of boats, and returned to the frigate, with

the intention of saving all the wretches who had been abandoned. They

all sprung into the shallop; but as it was very much overloaded,

seventeen unfortunates preferred remaining on board, rather than

expose themselves as well as their companions to certain death. But

alas! the greater part afterwards fell victims to their fears or their

devotion.--Fifty-two days after they were abandoned, no more than

three of them were alive, and those looked more like skeletons than

men. They told that their miserable companions had gone afloat upon

planks and hen-coops, after having waited in vain forty-two days, for

the succor which had been promised them, and that all had perished.

The shallop, carrying with difficulty all those she had saved from the

Medusa, slowly rejoined the line of boats which towed the raft,

M. Espiau earnestly besought the officers of the other boats to take

some of them along with them; but they refused, alleging to the

generous officer that he ought to keep them in his own boat, as he had

gone for them himself. M. Espiau, finding it impossible to keep them

all without exposing them to the utmost peril, steered right for a

boat which I will not name. Immediately a sailor sprung from the

shallop into the sea, and endeavored to reach it by swimming; and when

he was about to enter it, an officer who possessed great influence

pushed him back, and, drawing his sabre, threatened to cut off his

hands, if he again made the attempt. The poor wretch regained the

shallop, which was very near the pinnace, which we were in, my father

supplicated M. Laperere, the officer of the boat, to receive him on

board, and had his arms already out to catch him, when M. Laperere

instantly let go the rope which attached us to the other boats, and

tugged off with all his force. At the same instant every boat imitated

our execrable example; and wishing to shun the approach of the

shallop, which sought for assistance, stood off from the raft,

abandoning, in the midst of the ocean, and to the fury of the waves,

the miserable mortals whom they had sworn to land on the shores of the


Scarcely had these cowards broken their oath, when we saw the French

flag flying upon the raft. The confidence of those unfortunate persons

was so great, that when they saw the first boat which had the tow

removing from them, they all cried out the rope is broken! the rope is

broken! but when no attention was paid to their observation, they

instantly perceived the treachery of the wretches who had left them so

basely.--Then the cries of Vive le Roi arose from the raft, as if the

poor fellows were calling to their father for assistance; or, as if

they had been persuaded that, at that rallying word, the officers of

the boats would return, and not abandon their countrymen. The officers

repeated the cry of Vive le Roi, without a doubt, to insult them; but,

more particularly, M. Lachaumareys who, assuming a martial attitude,

waved his hat in the air. Alas! what availed these false professions?

Frenchmen, menaced with the greatest peril, were demanding assistance

with the cries of Vive le Roi; yet none were found sufficiently

generous nor sufficiently French, to go to aid them. After a silence

of some minutes, horrible cries were heard; the air resounded with the

groans, the lamentations, the imprecations of these wretched beings,

and the echo of the sea frequently repeated, alas! how cruel you are

to abandon us!!! The raft already appeared to be buried under the

waves, and its unfortunate passengers immersed. The fatal machine was

drifted by currents far behind the wreck of the frigate; without

cable, anchor, mast, sail or oars; in a word, without the smallest

means of enabling them to save themselves. Each wave that struck it,

made them stumble in heaps on one another.--Their feet getting

entangled among the cordage, and between the planks, bereaved them of

the faculty of moving. Maddened by these misfortunes, suspended, and

adrift upon a merciless ocean, they were soon tortured between the

pieces of wood which formed the scaffold on which they floated.--The

bones of their feet and their legs were bruised and broken, every time

the fury of the waves agitated the raft; their flesh covered with

contusions and hideous wounds, dissolved, as it were, in the briny

waves, while the roaring flood around them was colored with their


As the raft, when it was abandoned, was nearly two leagues from the

frigate, it was impossible these unfortunate persons could return to

it; they were soon after far out to sea. These victims still appeared

above their floating tomb; and, stretching out their supplicating

hands towards the boats which fled from them, seemed yet to invoke,

for the last time, the names of the wretches who had deceived them. O

horrid day! a day of shame and reproach! Alas! that the hearts of

those who were so well acquainted with misfortune, should have been so

inaccessible to pity.

After witnessing that most inhuman scene, and seeing they were

insensible to the cries and lamentations of so many unhappy beings, I

felt my heart bursting with sorrow. It seemed to me that the waves

would overwhelm all these wretches, and I could not suppress my tears.

My father, exasperated to excess, and bursting with rage at seeing so

much cowardice and inhumanity among the officers of the boats, began

to regret he had not accepted the place which had been assigned for us

upon the fatal raft. 'At least,' said he, 'we would have died with the

brave, or would have returned to the wreck of the Medusa; and not have

had the disgrace of saving ourselves with cowards.' Although this

produced no effect upon the officers, it proved very fatal to us

afterwards; for, on our arrival at Senegal, it was reported to the

Governor, and very probably was the principal cause of all those evils

and vexations which we endured in that colony.

Let us now turn our attention to the several situations of all those

who were endeavoring to save themselves in the different boats, as

well as to those left upon the wreck of the Medusa.

We have already seen, that the frigate was half sunk when it was

deserted, presenting nothing but a hulk and wreck.--Nevertheless,

seventeen still remained upon it, and had food, which, although

damaged, enabled them to support themselves for a considerable time;

while the raft was abandoned to float at the mercy of the waves, upon

the vast surface of the ocean. One hundred and fifty wretches were

embarked upon it, sunk to the depth of at least three feet on its fore

part, and on its poop immersed even to the middle. What victuals they

had were soon consumed, or spoiled by the salt water; and perhaps

some, as the waves hurried them along, became food for the monsters of

the deep. Two only of all the boats which left the Medusa, and these

with very few people in them, were provisioned with every necessary;

these struck off with security and despatch. But the condition of

those who were in the shallop was but little better than those upon

the raft; their great number, their scarcity of provisions, their

great distance from the shore, gave them the most melancholy

anticipations of the future. Their worthy commander, M. Espiau, had no

other hope but of reaching the shore as soon as possible. The other

boats were less filled with people, but they were scarcely better

provisioned; and as by a species of fatality, the pinnace, in which

were our family, was destitute of everything. Our provisions consisted

of a barrel of biscuit, and a tierce of water; and, to add to our

misfortune, the biscuit being soaked in the sea, it was almost

impossible to swallow one morsel of it. Each passenger in our boat was

obliged to sustain his wretched existence with a glass of water, which

he could get only once a day. To tell how this happened, how this

boat was so poorly supplied, while there was abundance left upon the

Medusa, is far beyond my power. But it is at least certain, that the

greater part of the officers commanding the boats, the shallop, the

pinnace, the Senegal boat, and the yawl, were persuaded, when they

quitted the frigate, that they would not abandon the raft, but that

all the expedition would sail together to the coast of Sahara; that

when there, the boats would be again sent to the Medusa to take

provisions, arms, and those who were left there; but it appears the

chiefs had decided otherwise.

After abandoning the raft, although scattered, all the boats formed a

little fleet, and followed the same route. All who were sincere hoped

to arrive the same day at the coast of the Desert, and that every one

would get on shore; but MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys gave orders to

take the route for Senegal. This sudden change in the resolutions of

the chiefs was like a thunderbolt to the officers commanding the

boats. Having nothing on board but what was barely necessary to enable

us to allay the cravings of hunger for one day, we were all sensibly

affected. The other boats, which, like ourselves, hoped to have got on

shore at the nearest point, were a little better provisioned than we

were; they had at least a little wine, which supplied the place of

other necessaries. We then demanded some from them, explaining our

situation, but none would assist us, not even the captain, who,

drinking to a kept mistress, supported by two sailors, swore he had

not one drop on board. We were next desirous of addressing the boat of

the Governor of Senegal, where we were persuaded were plenty of

provisions of every kind, such as oranges, biscuit, cakes, comfits,

plums and even the finest liquors; but my father opposed it, so well

was he assured we would not obtain anything.

We will now turn to the condition of those on the raft, when the boats

left them to themselves.

If all the boats had continued dragging the raft forward, favored as

we were by the breeze from the sea, we would have been able to have

conducted them to the shore in less than two days. But an

inconceivable fatality caused the generous plan to be abandoned which

had been formed.

When the raft had lost sight of the boats, a spirit of sedition began

to manifest itself in furious cries. They then began to regard one

another with ferocious looks, and to thirst for one another's flesh.

Some one had already whispered of having recourse to that monstrous

extremity, and of commencing with the fattest and youngest. A

proposition so atrocious filled the brave Captain Dupont and his

worthy Lieutenant M. L'Heureux with horror; and that courage which had

so often supported them in the field of glory, now forsook them.

Among the first who fell under the hatchets of the assassins, was a

young woman who had been seen devouring the body of her husband. When

her turn was come, she sought a little wine as a last favor, then

rose, and without uttering a word threw herself into the sea. Captain

Dupont, being prescribed for having refused to partake of the

sacrilegious viands with which the monsters were feeding on, was saved

by a miracle from the hands of the butchers. Scarcely had they seized

him to lead him to the slaughter, when a large pole, which served in

place of a mast, fell upon his body; and believing that his legs were

broken, they contented themselves by throwing him into the sea. The

unfortunate captain plunged and disappeared, and they thought him

already in another world.

Providence, however, revived the strength of the unfortunate warrior.

He emerged under the beams of the raft, and clinging with all his

might, holding his head above water, he remained between two enormous

pieces of wood, while the rest of his body was hid in the sea. After

more than two hours of suffering, Captain Dupont spoke in a low voice

to his lieutenant, who by chance was seated near the place of his

concealment. The brave L'Heureux, with eyes glistening with tears,

believed he heard the voice, and saw the shade of his captain; and

trembling, was about to quit the place of horror; O wonderful! he saw

a head which seemed to draw its last sigh, he recognized it, he

embraced it, alas! it was his dear friend! Dupont was instantly drawn

from the water, and L'Heureux obtained for his unfortunate comrade

again a place upon the raft. Those who had been most inveterate

against him, touched at what Providence had done for him in so

miraculous a manner, decided with one accord to allow him entire

liberty upon the raft.

The sixty unfortunates who had escaped from the first massacre, were

soon reduced to fifty, then to forty, and at last to twenty-eight. The

least murmur, or the smallest complaint, at the moment of distributing

the provisions, was a crime punished with immediate death. In

consequence of such a regulation, it may easily be presumed the raft

was soon lightened. In the meanwhile the wine diminished sensibly, and

the half-rations very much displeased a certain chief of the

conspiracy. On purpose to avoid being reduced to that extremity, the

executive power decided it was much wiser to drown thirteen people,

and to get full rations, than that twenty-eight should have half


Merciful Heaven! what shame! After the last catastrophe, the chiefs of

the conspiracy, fearing, doubtless of being assassinated in their

turn, threw all the arms into the sea, and swore an inviolable

friendship with the heroes which the hatchet had spared. On the 17th

of July, in the morning, Captain Parnajon, commandant of the Argus

brig, still found fifteen men on the raft. They were immediately taken

on board, and conducted to Senegal. Four of the fifteen are yet alive,

viz. Captain Dupont, residing in the neighborhood of Maintenon,

Lieutenant L'Heureux, since Captain at Senegal, Savigny, at Rochefort,

and Correard, I know not where.

On the 5th of July, at ten in the morning, one hour after abandoning

the raft, and three after quitting the Medusa, M. Laperere, the

officer of our boat, made the first distribution of provisions. Each

passenger had a small glass of water and nearly the fourth of a

biscuit. Each drank his allowance of water at one draught, but it was

found impossible to swallow one morsel of our biscuit, it being so

impregnated with sea-water. It happened, however, that some was found

not quite so saturated. Of these we eat a small portion, and put back

the remainder for a future day. Our voyage would have been

sufficiently agreeable, if the beams of the sun had not been so

fierce. On the evening we perceived the shores of the Desert; but as

the two chiefs (MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys) wished to go right for

Senegal, notwithstanding we were still one hundred leagues from it, we

were not allowed to land. Several officers remonstrated, both on

account of our want of provisions and the crowded condition of the

boats, for undertaking so dangerous a voyage. Others urged with equal

force, that it would be dishonoring the French name if we were to

neglect the unfortunate people on the raft, and insisted we should be

set on shore, and whilst we waited there, three boats should return to

look after the raft, and three to the wreck of the frigate, to take up

the seventeen who were left there, as well as a sufficient quantity of

provisions to enable us to go to Senegal by the way of Barbary. But

MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys whose boats were sufficiently well

provisioned, scouted the advice or their subalterns, and ordered them

to cast anchor till the following morning. They were obliged to obey

these orders, and to relinquish their designs. During the night, a

certain passenger who was doubtless no doctor, and who believed in

ghosts and witches, was suddenly frightened by the appearance of

flames, which he thought he saw in the waters of the sea, a little way

from where our boat was anchored. My father, and some others, who were

aware that the sea is sometimes phosphorated, confirmed the poor

credulous man in his belief, and added several circumstances which

fairly turned his brain. They persuaded him the Arabic sorcerers had

fired the sea to prevent us from travelling along their deserts.

On the morning of the 6th of July, at five o'clock, all the boats were

under way on the route to Senegal. The boats of MM. Schmaltz and

Lachaumareys took the lead along the coast, and all the expedition

followed. About eight, several sailors in our boat, with threats,

demanded to be set on shore; but M. Laperere, not acceding to their

request, the whole were about to revolt and seize the command; but the

firmness of this officer quelled the mutineers. In a spring which he

made to seize a firelock which a sailor persisted in keeping in his

possession, he almost tumbled into the sea. My father fortunately was

near him, and held him by his clothes, but he had instantly to quit

him, for fear of losing his hat, which the waves were floating away. A

short while after this slight accident, the shallop, which we had lost

sight of since the morning, appeared desirous of rejoining us. We

plied all hands to avoid her, for we were afraid of one another, and

thought that that boat, encumbered with so many people, wished to

board us to oblige us to take some of its passengers, as M. Espiau

would not suffer them to be abandoned like those upon the raft. That

officer hailed us at a distance, offering to take our family on board,

adding, he was anxious to take about sixty people to the Desert. The

officer of our boat, thinking that this was a pretence, replied, we

preferred suffering where we were. It even appeared to us that

M. Espiau had hid some of his people under the benches of the shallop.

But alas; in the end we deeply deplored being so suspicious, and of

having so outraged the devotion of the most generous officer of the


Our boat began to leak considerably, but we prevented it as well as we

could, by stuffing the largest holes with oakum, which an old sailor

had had the precaution to take before quitting the frigate. At noon

the heat became so strong--so intolerable, that several of us believed

we had reached our last moments. The hot winds of the Desert even

reached us; and the fine sand with which they were loaded, had

completely obscured the clearness of the atmosphere. The sun presented

a reddish disk; the whole surface of the ocean became nebulous, and

the air which we breathed, depositing a fine sand, an impalpable

powder, penetrated to our lungs, already parched with a burning

thirst. In this state of torment we remained till four in the

afternoon, when a breeze from the northwest brought us some relief.

Notwithstanding the privations we felt, and especially the burning

thirst which had become intolerable, the cool air which we now began

to breathe, made us in part forget our sufferings. The heavens began

again to resume the usual serenity of those latitudes, and we hoped to

have passed a good night. A second distribution of provisions was

made; each received a small glass of water, and the eighth part of a

biscuit. Notwithstanding our meagre fare, every one seemed content, in

the persuasion we would reach Senegal by the morrow. But how vain were

all our hopes, and what sufferings had we yet to endure!

At half past seven, the sky was covered with stormy clouds. The

serenity we had admired a little while before, entirely disappeared,

and gave place to the most gloomy obscurity. The surface of the ocean

presented all the signs of a coming tempest. The horizon on the side

of the Desert had the appearance of a long hideous chain of mountains

piled on one another, the summits of which seemed to vomit fire and

smoke. Bluish clouds, streaked with a dark copper color, detached

themselves from that shapeless heap, and came and joined with those

which floated over our heads. In less than half an hour the ocean

seemed confounded with the terrible sky which canopied us. The stars

were hid. Suddenly a frightful noise was heard from the west, and all

the waves of the sea rushed to founder our frail bark. A fearful

silence succeeded to the general consternation. Every tongue was mute;

and none durst communicate to his neighbor the horror with which his

mind was impressed. At intervals the cries of the children rent our

hearts. At that instant a weeping and agonized mother bared her breast

to her dying child, but it yielded nothing to appease the thirst of

the little innocent who pressed it in vain. O night of horrors! what

pen is capable to paint thy terrible picture! How describe the

agonizing fears of a father and mother, at the sight of their children

tossed about and expiring of hunger in a small boat, which the winds

and waves threatened to engulf at every instant! Having full before

our eyes the prospect of inevitable death, we gave ourselves up to our

unfortunate condition, and addressed our prayers to Heaven. The winds

growled with the utmost fury; the tempestuous waves arose exasperated.

In their terrific encounter a mountain of water was precipitated into

our boat, carrying away one of the sails, and the greater part of the

effects which the sailors had saved from the Medusa. Our bark was

nearly sunk; the females and the children lay rolling in its bottom,

drinking the waters of bitterness; and their cries, mixed with the

roaring of the waves and the furious north wind, increased the horrors

of the scene. My unfortunate father then experienced the most

excruciating agony of mind. The idea of the loss which the shipwreck

had occasioned to him, and the danger which still menaced all he held

dearest in the world, plunged him into a swoon. The tenderness of his

wife and children recovered him; but alas! his recovery was to still

more bitterly deplore the wretched situation of his family. He clasped

us to his bosom; he bathed us with his tears, and seemed as if he was

regarding us with his last looks of love.

Every soul in the boat was seized with the same perturbation, but it

manifested itself in different ways. One part of the sailors remained

motionless, in a bewildered state; the other cheered and encouraged

one another; the children, locked in the arms of their parents, wept

incessantly. Some demanded drink, vomiting the salt water which choked

them; others, in short, embraced as for the last time, intertwining

their arms, and vowing to die together.

In the meanwhile the sea became rougher and rougher. The whole surface

of the ocean seemed a vast plain furrowed with huge blackish waves

fringed with white foam. The thunder growled around us, and the

lightning discovered to our eyes all that our imagination could

conceive most horrible. Our boat, beset on all sides by the winds, and

at every instant tossed on the summit of mountains of water, was very

nearly sunk in spite of our every effort in baling it, when we

discovered a large hole in its poop. It was instantly stuffed with

everything we could find:--old clothes, sleeves of shirts, shreds of

coats, shawls, useless bonnets, everything was employed, and secured

us as far as it was possible. During the space of six hours, we rowed

suspended alternately between hope and fear, between life and death.

At last towards the middle of the night, Heaven, which had seen our

resignation, commanded the floods to be still. Instantly the sea

became less rough, the veil which covered the sky became less

obscure, the stars again shone out, and the tempest seemed to

withdraw. A general exclamation of joy and thankfulness issued at one

instant from every mouth. The winds calmed, and each of us sought a

little sleep, while our good and generous pilot steered our boat on a

still very stormy sea.

The day at last, the day so desired, entirely restored the calm; but

it brought no other consolation. During the night, the currents, the

waves, and the winds had taken us so far out to sea, that, on the

dawning of the 7th of July, we saw nothing but sky and water, without

knowing whither to direct our course; for our compass had been broken

during the tempest. In this hopeless condition, we continued to steer

sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, until the sun arose,

and at last showed us the east.

On the morning of the 7th of July, we again saw the shores of the

Desert, notwithstanding we were a great distance from it. The sailors

renewed their murmurings, wishing to get on shore, with the hope of

being able to get some wholesome plants, and some more palatable water

than that of the sea; but as we were afraid of the Moors, their

request was opposed. However, M. Laperere proposed to take them as

near as he could to the first breakers on the coast; and when there,

those who wished to go on shore should throw themselves into the sea,

and swim to land. Eleven accepted the proposal; but when we had

reached the first waves, none had the courage to brave the mountains

of water which rolled between them and the beach. Our sailors then

betook themselves to their benches and oars, and promised to be more

quiet for the future. A short while after, a third distribution was

made since our departure from the Medusa; and nothing more remained

than four pints of water, and one half dozen biscuits. What steps were

we to take in this cruel situation? We were desirous of going on

shore, but we had such dangers to encounter. However we soon came to a

decision, when we saw a caravan of Moors on the coast. We then stood a

little out to sea. According to the calculation of our commanding

officer, we would arrive at Senegal on the morrow. Deceived by that

false account, we preferred suffering one day more, rather than be

taken by the Moors of the Desert, or perish among the breakers. We had

now no more than a small half glass of water, and the seventh of a


Exposed as we were to the heat of the sun, which darted its rays

perpendicularly on our heads, that ration, though small would have

been a great relief to us; but the distribution was delayed to the

morrow. We were then obliged to drink the bitter sea water, ill as it

was calculated to quench our thirst. Must I tell it! thirst had so

withered the lungs of our sailors, that they drank water salter than

that of the sea. Our numbers diminished daily, and nothing but the

hope of arriving at the colony on the following day sustained our

frail existence. My young brothers and sisters wept incessantly for

water. The little Laura, aged six years lay dying at the feet of her

mother. Her mournful cries so moved the soul of my unfortunate father,

that he was on the eve of opening a vein to quench the thirst which

consumed his child; but a wise person opposed his design, observing

that all the blood in his body would not prolong the life of his

infant one moment.

The freshness of the night wind procured us some respite. We anchored

pretty near to the shore, and though dying of famine, each got a

tranquil sleep. On the morning of the 8th of July, at break of day, we

took the route for Senegal. A short while after the wind fell, and we

had a dead calm.--We endeavored to row, but our strength was

exhausted. A fourth and last distribution was made, and in the

twinkling of an eye, our last resources were consumed. We were

forty-two people who had to feed upon six biscuits and about four

pints of water, with no hope of a farther supply. Then came the moment

for deciding whether we were to perish among the breakers, which

defended the approach to the shores of the Desert, or to die of famine

in continuing our route.--The majority preferred the last species of

misery. We continued our progress along the shore, painfully pulling

our oars. Upon the beach were distinguished several downs of white

sand and some small trees. We were thus creeping along the coast,

observing a mournful silence, when a sailor suddenly exclaimed, behold

the Moors! We did, in fact, see various individuals upon the rising

ground, walking at a quick pace, and whom we took to be the Arabs of

the Desert. As we were very near the shore, we stood farther out to

sea, fearing that these pretended Moors, or Arabs, would throw

themselves into the sea, swim out, and take us. Some hours after, we

observed several people upon an eminence, who seemed to make signals

for us.

We examined them attentively, and soon recognized them to be our

companions in misfortune. We replied to them by attaching a white

handkerchief to the top of our mast. Then we resolved to land at the

risk of perishing among the breakers, which were very strong towards

the shore, although the sea was calm. On approaching the beach, we

went towards the right, where the waves seemed less agitated, and

endeavored to reach it, with the hope of being able more easily to

land. Scarcely had we directed our course to that point, when we

perceived a great number of people standing near to a little wood

surrounding the sand-hills. We recognized them to be the passengers of

that boat, which, like ourselves, were deprived of provisions.

Meanwhile we approached the shore, and already the foaming surge

filled us with terror. Each wave that came from the open sea, each

billow that swept beneath our boat, made us bound into the air; so we

were sometimes thrown from the poop to the prow, and from the prow to

the poop. Then, if our pilot had missed the sea, we would have been

sunk; the waves would have thrown us aground, and we would have been

buried among the breakers. The helm of the boat was again given to the

old pilot, who had already so happily steered us through the dangers

of the storm. He instantly threw into the sea the mast, the sails, and

everything that could impede our proceedings. When we came to the

first landing point, several of our shipwrecked companions, who had

reached the shore, ran and hid themselves behind the hills, not to see

us perish; others made signs not to approach at that place, some

covered their eyes with their hands; others, at last despising the

danger, precipitated themselves into the waves to receive us in their

arms. We then saw a spectacle that made us shudder. We had already

doubled two ranges of breakers; but those which we had still to cross

raised their foaming waves to a prodigious height, then sunk with a

hollow and monstrous sound, sweeping along a long line of the

coast.--Our boat sometimes greatly elevated, and sometimes engulfed

between the waves, seemed, at the moment, of utter ruin. Bruised,

battered and tossed about on all hands, it turned of itself, and

refused to obey the kind hand which directed it.--At that instant a

huge wave rushed from the open sea, and dashed against the poop; the

boat plunged, disappeared, and we were all among the waves. Our

sailors, whose strength had returned at the presence of danger,

redoubled their efforts, uttering mournful sounds. Our bark groaned,

the oars were broken; it was thought aground, but it was stranded; it

was upon its side. The last sea rushed upon us with the impetuosity

of a torrent. We were all up to the neck in water; the bitter

sea-froth choked us. The grapnel was thrown out.--The sailors threw

themselves into the sea; they took the children in their arms;

returned, and took us upon their shoulders; and I found myself seated

upon the sand on the shore, by the side of my step-mother, my brothers

and sisters, almost dead. Every one was upon the beach except my

father and some sailors; but that good man arrived at last, to mingle

his tears with those of his family and friends.

Instantly our hearts joined in addressing our prayers and praises to

God. I raised my hands to heaven, and remained sometime immoveable

upon the beach. Every one also hastened to testify his gratitude to

our old pilot, who next to God, justly merited the title of our

preserver. M. Dumege, a naval surgeon, gave him an elegant gold watch,

the only thing he had saved from the Medusa.

Let the reader now recollect all the perils to which we had been

exposed in escaping from the wreck of the frigate to the shores of the

Desert--all that we had suffered during our four days' voyage--and he

will perhaps have a just notion of the various sensations we felt on

getting on shore on that strange and savage land. Doubtless the joy we

experienced at having escaped, as by a miracle, the fury of the

floods, was very great; but how much was it lessened by the feelings

of our horrible situation! Without water, provisions, and the majority

of us nearly naked, was it to be wondered at that we should be seized

with terror on thinking of the obstacles which we had to surmount, the

fatigues, the privations, the pains and sufferings we had to endure,

with the dangers we had to encounter in the immense and frightful

Desert we had to traverse before we could arrive at our destination?

Almighty Providence! it was in Thee alone I put my trust.

After we had a little recovered from the fainting and fatigue of our

getting on shore, our fellow-sufferers told us they had landed in the

forenoon, and cleared the breakers by the strength of their oars and

sails; but they had not all been so lucky as we were. One unfortunate

person, too desirous of getting quickly on shore, had his legs broken

under the shallop, and was taken and laid on the beach, and left to

the care of Providence. M. Espiau, commander of the shallop,

reproached us for having doubted him when he wished to board us to

take our family along with him. It was most true he had landed

sixty-three people that day. A short while after our refusal, he took

the passengers of the yawl, who would infallibly have perished in the

stormy nights of the 6th and 7th. The boat named the Senegal,

commanded by M. Maudet, had made the shore at the same time with

M. Espiau. The boats of MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys were the only

ones which continued the route for Senegal, while nine-tenths of the

Frenchmen intrusted to these gentlemen were butchering each other on

the raft, or dying of hunger on the burning sands of Sahara.

About seven in the morning, a caravan was formed to penetrate into the

interior, for the purpose of finding some fresh water. We did

accordingly find some at a little distance from the sea, by digging

among the sand. Every one instantly flocked round the little wells,

which furnished enough to quench our thirst. This brackish water was

found to be delicious, although it had a sulphurous taste: its color

was that of whey. As all our clothes were wet and in tatters, and as

we had nothing to change them, some generous officers offered theirs.

My step-mother, my cousin, and my sister, were dressed in them; for

myself, I preferred keeping my own. We remained nearly an hour beside

our beneficent fountain, then took the route for Senegal; that is, a

southerly direction, for we did not know exactly where that country

lay. It was agreed that the females and children should walk before

the caravan, that they might not be left behind. The sailors

voluntarily carried the youngest on their shoulders, and every one

took the route along the coast. Notwithstanding it was nearly seven

o'clock, the sand was

Seamen Wintering In Spitzbergen Shipwreck Of The French Ship Droits De L'homme facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail