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Title: Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816 - Undertaken by Order of the French Government, Comprising an Account - of the Shipwreck of the Medusa, the Sufferings of the Crew, and the - Various Occurrences on Board the Raft, in the Desert of Zaara, at - St. Louis, and at the Camp of Daccard. to Which Are Subjoined - Observations Respecting the Agriculture of the Western Coast of - Africa, from Cape Blanco to the Mouth of the Gambia.
Author: Corréard, Alexander, Savigny, J. B. Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816 - Undertaken by Order of the French Government, Comprising an Account - of the Shipwreck of the Medusa, the Sufferings of the Crew, and the - Various Occurrences on Board the Raft, in the Desert of Zaara, at - St. Louis, and at the Camp of Daccard. to Which Are Subjoined - Observations Respecting the Agriculture of the Western Coast of - Africa, from Cape Blanco to the Mouth of the Gambia." ***

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are retained in this etext.]

IN 1816.

_No person can read this Interesting Narrative without being deeply
affected by the perils and misfortunes to which the small remnant of
persons, who were saved from this deplorable Shipwreck, were exposed. Of
one hundred and fifty persons embarked upon the raft, and left to their
fate, only fifteen remained alive thirteen days afterwards; but of these
fifteen, so miraculously saved, life constituted the sole possession, being
literally stripped of every thing. At Paris, some benevolent individuals
have recently opened a subscription for their relief. Should any persons,
in this country, feel disposed to contribute to this humane object, Mr.
Colburn will feel great pleasure in becoming the medium for transmitting
their subscriptions to the unfortunate sufferers._

                  OF A
                IN 1816;

                 OF THE
         Shipwreck of the Medusa,
                 OF THE
           J.B. HENRY SAVIGNY,




At the moment that we publish a Second Edition of our Narrative, we learn
that Mr. Sevigny [A] is going to publish a pretended Account, by Mr.
Richefort, an auxiliary Ex-Officer of the French Marine.

Our readers will not have forgotten a certain pretended sea-officer who was
partly the cause of our misfortunes, and who, when on board the Medusa,
gave such unhappy advice to the captain, who still more unhappily, followed
it too closely; well; this _ex-officer_, this fatal _auxiliary_, who
conducted the frigate upon the bank of Arguin, is no other than Mr.

Having gone on board the governor's boat, he remained a stranger to the
disasters which he had partly caused, and consequently, knew nothing of
what passed, either upon the raft, or on board the boats which stranded, or
in the desert.

We make no farther remarks; the public will judge of his account and ours.


[A] This Mr. Sevigny must not be confounded with Mr. Savigny, one of the
authors of this narrative.

This Mr. Sevigny is one of the directors of an anonymous company, which one
of the King's Ministers has recommended in the following manner:

"The keeper of the seals has informed the magistrates, that an anonymous
company, which had formed itself under the name of the _Colonial
Philanthropic Society of Senegambia_, and which announced the project of
procuring for all those who should confide in it, colonial establishments
on the coasts near Cape Verd, has received no authority from the
government, and that, on the steps which it has taken, to obtain such
authority, it has been found that it was not in a condition to fulfil its
promises, which, therefore, were a kind of snare, for those whom they might
have seduced. It has been, consequently, prohibited from making any
enterprise, or any expedition. The agents of this Society having no other
object than to deceive the public credulity, must be denounced to his
Majesty's Attorney-General, who will take against them the measures
prescribed by the law."

(_Journal des Débats, Novembre _24, 1817.)


The annals of the marine, record no example of a shipwreck so terrible as
that of the Medusa frigate. Two of the unfortunate crew, who have
miraculously escaped from the catastrophe, impose upon themselves the
painful and delicate task, of describing all the circumstances which
attended it.

It was in the midst of the most cruel sufferings that we took the solemn
resolution, to make known, to the civilized world, all the details of our
unhappy adventure, if heaven permitted us again to see our dear country. We
should believe that we failed in our duty to ourselves, and to our fellow
citizens, if we left buried in oblivion facts which the public must be
desirous to know. All the details of the events at which we were not
present, have been communicated to us by respectable persons, who have
warranted their authenticity. We shall, besides, advance nothing which
cannot be proved.

Here, we hear some voices ask, what right we have to make known to the
government, men who are, perhaps, guilty, but whom their places, and their
rank, entitle to more respect. They are ready to make it a crime in us,
that we have dared to say, that officers of the marine had abandoned us.
But what interest, we ask, in our turn, should cause a fatal indulgence to
be claimed for those, who have failed in their duties; while the
destruction of a hundred and fifty wretches, left to the most cruel fate,
scarcely excited a murmur of disapprobation?  Are we still in those times,
when men and things were sacrificed to the caprices of favour? Are the
resources and the dignities of the State, still the exclusive patrimony of
a privileged class? and are there other titles to places and honours,
besides merit and talents?

Let us venture to advance another truth, a truth useful to the Minister
himself. There exists among the officers of the Marine, an intractable
_esprit de corps_, a pretended point of honour, equally false and arrogant,
which leads them to consider as an insult to the whole navy, the discovery
of one guilty individual. This inadmissible principle, which is useful only
to insignificance, to intrigue, to people the least worthy to call on the
name of honour, has the most ruinous consequences for the State, and the
public service. By this, incapacity and baseness are always covered with a
guilty veil, which they dare to attempt to render sacred; by this, the
favours of government are bestowed at random, upon persons, who impose upon
it the strange obligation of being perpetually in the dark respecting them.
Under the protection of this obligation of officious silence, hitherto
seconded by the slavery of the press, men without talents survive every
revolution, exhibit in every antichamber their privileged incapacity, and
braving public opinion, even that of their comrades, who are the first
victims of a foolish and arrogant prejudice, which deceives them, shew
themselves more eager to monopolise favours and honours, in proportion as
they are less able to render themselves worthy of them.

We shall believe that we have deserved well of our government, if our
faithful narrative can make it sensible how much its confidence is abused.
Just, besides, and not animated by passion, it is with real pleasure that
we shall make those known, who, by their conduct in our shipwreck, have
acquired a right to general esteem. Others will doubtless complain of the
severity of our accusing language; but honest men will grant us their
approbation. If we hear it said, that our frankness may have been useful to
our country, this success will be, at once, our justification and our

We have questioned, concerning the nautical details, several gentlemen of
the navy who were on board; we confess, however, that on comparing their
accounts, we have observed that they did not always entirely agree; but we
have taken those facts which had the most witnesses in their favour. We
shall be sometimes obliged to record cruel truths; they will, however, be
directed only to those, whose unskilfulness, or pusillanimity have caused
these dreadful events. We venture to affirm, that the numerous
observations, which we have collected, will give to our work all the
accuracy rigorously required in so interesting a narrative.

We must observe to our readers that it has been impossible for us to avoid
the use of naval terms, which will, perhaps, give a great degree of
roughness to our narrative, but we hope that the public who are always
indulgent, will be so on this occasion, to two unfortunate men, who pretend
only to make them acquainted with the truth, and not to give them a
superior work. Besides, as we in a manner, submit these events, to the
judgment of the gentlemen of the French Navy, it was necessary to make use
of the technical terms, that they might be able to understand us.

This second edition is enriched with notes, which will give the reader
interesting details on many points, which in the former we could only
slightly touch upon. He will have nothing more to desire, particularly
respecting the march in the desert after the stranding of the long-boat.

These notes begin with the moment that the frigate stranded, and terminate
with the arrival at St. Louis.

They were communicated to us by Mr. Landry, an officer of the Royal
University, Professor Emeritus of the Academy of Paris, and at present at
the head of a school or Academy, in the Rue Cerisaye, No. 2, quarter of the
Arsenal, at Paris. He has had the kindness to extract them for us from a
narrative, written by his nephew, Mr. Bredif, Engineer of Mines, belonging
to the expedition to Senegal.

The Narrator sent this account to his family above a year ago, addressing
it to his sister. The reader will, therefore, not be surprised at the tone
of simplicity which prevails in this recital. Mr. Landry would not take
away any part for fear of injuring the truth of the circumstances, by
meddling with it. If Mr. Bredif, is always placed in the fore-ground, that
is not surprising; in a sister, a brother is the principal object which she
cannot lose sight of for a moment.

He who loves to observe men, in all the circumstances, in which they may be
placed, will easily judge, after what Mr. Bredif did or felt, what may have
been done or felt by the sharers in the same misfortunes, who are, besides,
never forgotten.

Mr. Bredif is now in the interior of Africa, employed upon the Mission
which the government has entrusted to him; the last accounts from him are
of the 14th of October, 1817. The manner in which he knows how to give an
account of the facts which he has observed, and still more the courage, the
prudence, and humanity, which he displayed in the disaster of the Medusa,
and in all that followed it, give reason to hope, and this hope cannot be
deceived, that be will duly execute his Mission, and render himself worthy
of his Majesty's favours.

[Illustration: PLAN of the RAFT of the MEDUSA, at the moment of its being
abandoned. 150 Frenchmen were placed on this Machine. 15 only were saved 13
days after.]



The French settlements, situated on the western coast of Africa, from Cape
Blanco to the mouth of the river Gambia, have been alternately possessed by
France and England, and have remained definitively in the hands of the
French, whose ancestors laid the foundations of them previously to the
fourteenth century, when they discovered this country.

The English made themselves masters in 1758 of the Isle of St Louis, the
seat of the general government of all the settlements which the French have
on that part of the coast; we recovered it twenty years after, in 1779 and
our possessions were again confirmed to us by the treaty of peace between
France and England, concluded on the 3d of September, 1783. In 1808, our
possessions fell again into the power of the English, less by the
superiority of their arms, than by the treachery of some individuals
unworthy of bearing the name of Frenchmen. They were finally restored to us
by the treaties of peace of 1814, and 1815, which confirmed that of 1783 in
its whole extent.

The stipulations of this treaty regulate the respective rights of the two
nations on the Western coast of Africa; they fix the possessions of France
as follows:--from Cape Blanco situated in longitude 19° 30', and
latitude 20° 55' 30", to the mouth of the river Gambia in longitude 19° 9',
and latitude 13°; they guarantee this property exclusively to our country,
and only permit the English to trade together with the French, for gum,
from the river St. John to Fort Portendick inclusive, on condition, that
they shall not form establishments of any kind whatsoever in this river, or
upon any point of this coast. Only it is said, that the possession of the
factory of Albreda, situated at the month of the river Gambia, and that of
fort James, are confirmed to England.

The rights of the two nations being thus regulated, France thought of
resuming her possessions and the enjoyment of her rights. The minister of
the marine after having long meditated, and taken two years to prepare an
expedition of four vessels, at last gave orders that it should sail for
Senegal. The following is a list of the persons who composed the

A Colonel, to command in chief for the king on the whole
coast from Cape Blanco to the mouth of the river Gambia, and
charged with the superior direction of the administration...              1

A Lieutenant-Colonel, (chef de bataillon) commandant of
Goree.......................................................              1

A Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the African battalion,
composed of three companies of 84 men each..................            253

A Lieutenant of Artillery, inspector of the powder magazines
and batteries, and commanding ten workmen of his arm........             11

A Commissary, inspector of the marine, chief of the
administration..............................................              1

Four Store-keepers..........................................              4

Six Clerks..................................................              6

Four Scouts (guetteurs).....................................              4

Two Curés...................................................              2

Two Schoolmasters (instituteurs)............................              2

Two Writers (greffiers, they supply the place of the
notaries and even of the mayors)............................              2

Two Hospital Directors......................................              2

Two Apothecaries............................................              2

Five Surgeons...............................................              5

Two Port Captains...........................................              2

Three Pilots................................................              3

A Gardener..................................................              1

Eighteen Women..............................................             18

Eight Children..............................................              8

Four Bakers.................................................              4

Farther for an intended expedition into the country of

An Engineer of mines........................................              1

A Geographical Engineer.....................................              1

A Naturalist (cultivateur naturaliste)......................              1

Farther for an expedition which was to seek upon Cape Verd,
or in its neighbourhood for a spot proper for the foundation
of a colony.

A Physician.................................................              1

An Agriculturist for European productions...................              1

An Agriculturist for colonial productions...................              1

Two Geographical Engineers..................................              2

A Naturalist................................................              1

An officer of the marine....................................              1

Twenty workmen..............................................             20

Three Women.................................................              3

                                                                  Total 365

This expedition consisted therefore of 365 persons, of whom about 240 were
embarked on board the _Medusa_ frigate.

NARRATIVE, &c. &c.

On the 17th of June, 1816, at seven in the morning, the expedition for
Senegal sailed from the roads of the Island of Aix, under the command of
Captain Chaumareys; the vessels composing it were the _Medusa_[1] frigate
of 44 guns, Captain Chaumareys; the _Echo_[2] corvette, Captain Cornet de
Venancourt; the flute _La Loire_, commanded by Lieutenant Giquel
Destouches; and the _Argus_[3] brig, commanded by Lieutenant Parnajon. The
wind was northerly, blowing a fresh breeze; we carried all our sails; but
had hardly cleared the port when the wind scanted a little, and we tacked
to double the Tower of Chassiron, which is placed at the extremity of the
Isle of Oleron.[4] After having plied to windward the whole day, in the
evening about five o'clock, the _Loire_ being unable to stem the currents
which were at that time contrary, and hindered her from entering the
_passes_, desired leave to cast anchor; M. de Chaumareys granted it, and
ordered the whole squadron to anchor. We were then half a league from the
Isle of Rhé, within what is called the _"Pertuis d'Antioche."_ We cast
anchor the first, and all the other vessels came and placed themselves near
us. The _Loire _being a dull sailer, was the last which came to an anchor.
The weather was fine: the wind N.W. and consequently too near to allow us
to double Chassiron, with a contrary current. At seven in the evening, at
the beginning of the ebb, we weighed anchor, and hoisted our sails; all the
other vessels did the same: the signal to get under way had been given them
a few minutes before. At night we found ourselves between the lights of
Chassiron and La Baleine.[5] A few moments sufficed to double them; we were
scarcely clear, when the wind became almost calm; the vessels no longer
obeyed the helm, the sky grew dark, the sea was very hollow, in short every
thing announced a storm; the wind threatened to blow from the west, and
consequently to become contrary; it was variable and squally; towards ten
o'clock it was perceived that we were running directly upon a danger,
called _Les Roches Bonnes_.[6] We tacked to escape certain destruction;
between eleven and twelve at night, a storm arose in the north, and brought
on wind from that quarter; we were then able to advance; the clouds
dispersed, and the next day the weather was very fine, with a breeze from
the N.E. but very faint; for some days we made but very little progress.

On the 21st or 22d we doubled Cape Finisterre; beyond this point which
bounds the Gulph of Gascony, the _Loire_ and the _Argus_ parted company;
these vessels sailing very ill, it was impossible for them to keep up with
the frigate, which to enable them to do so, would have been obliged to take
in her top-gallant sails and studding sails.

The _Echo_ alone was in sight, but at a great distance, and carrying a
press of sail not to lose sight of us. The frigate was so much a better
sailer than the corvette, that with a small quantity of sail, she not only
kept up with her, but even got a-head of her in a surprising manner; the
wind had freshened and we were going at the rate of nine knots.[7]

An unfortunate accident disturbed the pleasure we felt at being so favoured
by the wind; a sailor lad 15 years of age, fell into the sea, through one
of the fore port-holes, on the larboard side; a great many persons were at
the time, on the poop and the breast work, looking at the gambols of the
porpoises.[8] The exclamations of pleasure at beholding the sports of these
animals, were succeeded by cries of pity; for some moments the unfortunate
youth held by the end of a rope, which he caught hold of in his fall; but
the rapidity with which the frigate sailed, soon forced him to let go; a
signal was made to acquaint the _Echo_ with this accident; that vessel was
at a considerable distance, and we were going to fire a gun to second the
signal, but there was not one loaded, however we threw out the life
buoy.[9] The sails were clewed up, and the ship hove to. This manoeuvre was
long; we should have come to the wind, as soon as they cried, "a man
overboard," it is true that somebody cried aloud from the poop, that he was
saved; and a sailor had indeed caught him by the arm, but he had been
obliged to let him go, because he would have been pulled overboard himself:
a boat was however let down; it was a six-oared barge in which there were
only three men: it was all in vain; and after having looked for some time,
the boat came on board again without having found even the buoy. If the
unfortunate youth, who seemed to swim pretty well, had strength to reach
it, he doubtless perished on it, after having experienced the most cruel
sufferings. The ship was trimmed, and we resumed our course.

The _Echo_ rejoined us, and for some time she kept within hail; but we soon
lost her. On the 26th, we plied to windward during the night, fearing lest
we should strike on the eight rocks, which are situated the most
_Northerly_, in 34° 45', Latitude, and the most _Southerly_ in latitude,
34° 30', so that the extent of this danger is about five leagues from
_North_ to _South_ and about four leagues from _East_ to _West_: the most
southerly rock is distant about forty leagues to the _North_, 5° East, from
the East point of Madeira.

On the 27th, in the morning we expected to see the island of Madeira, we
however proceeded to no purpose till noon, at which hour we made an
observation to ascertain our situation. The solar observation made us East,
and West of Porto Santo; we continued on the same tack, and in the evening
at sunset, the man at the mast head discovered, land.[10] This error in the
arrival, was at least thirty leagues in the East. It was attributed to the
currents of the straits of Gibraltar; if this error really arises from the
currents of the strait, it merits the attention of vessels which frequent
these seas. The whole night we proceeded with few sails up; at midnight we
tacked, in order not to approach too near to the land.[A1]

The next morning at day break we saw very distinctly the islands of Madeira
Porto Santo; on the larboard, were those called Desert; Madeira was at
least twelve leagues off: sailing before the wind we made nine knots, and
in a few hours we were very near it. For a considerable time we ran along
the coast of the island at a small distance from shore: we passed before
the principal towns, Funchal and Do Sob.[A2]

Madeira appears like an amphitheatre; the country houses which cover it
seem to be in a very good taste, and give it a charming appearance. All
these delightful habitations are surrounded by fine gardens, and fields
covered with orange and lemon trees, which when the wind blows from the
shore, diffuse for full half a league in the open sea, the most agreeable
perfume. The hills are covered with vineyards, bordered with banian trees:
in short every thing is combined to render Madeira one of the most
beautiful islands of Africa. Its soil is only a vegetable sand, mixed with
an ash, which gives it astonishing fertility; it shews every where nothing
but the remains of a volcanised earth, the colour of which is that of the
element, by which it was long consumed. Funchal, the capital town of the
islands is situated in long. 19°. 20'. 30." in lat. 32° 37'. 40". This town
is far from handsome, the streets are narrow and the houses in general ill
built: the highest part of the island is the Pic de Ruvio, which rises
about two hundred metres above the level of the sea. The population of
Madeira is from 85,000 to 90,000, inhabitants as we are assured by a person
worthy of credit, who has resided for some time in that fine colony.

We sailed in this manner along the coast of Madeira, because the intention
of the commander was to send a boat on shore for refreshments; but being
surprised by a calm under the land, we were afraid of approaching too near,
lest we should not be able to stem the strong currents which set towards
it. A gentle breeze arising, enabled us to get out to sea, where the wind
became favorable, and pretty brisk; it was resolved that the boat should
not go on shore: and we resumed our course going at eight knots. We had
remained three hours opposite Funchal bay. At nightfall Madeira was in full
sight: the next morning at sun-rise we saw the islands called Salvages, and
in the evening we descried the Pico of Teneriffe, on the island of that
name. This lofty mountain, behind which the sun had just set, presented a
sight truly magnificent; its summit seemed to be crowned with fire: its
elevation above the level of the sea, is 3711 metres; it is situated in
lat. 28° 17' and in long. 19°. Several persons on board affirmed that they
saw the Pico at eight o'clock in the morning; and yet we were at least
thirty leagues distant from it; the sky it is true, was extremely clear.

The commander resolved to send a boat to St. Croix, one of the principal
towns in the island, to fetch fruits, and some filtering stones, which are
made in that town; they are only a kind of mortar, made of the volcanic
stone of the country. In consequence, during the whole night we made short
tacks; the next morning we coasted the island, at the distance of two
musket shot, and passed under the guns of a little fort, called _Fort
Français_. One of our companions leaped for joy, at the sight of this
little fort, which was raised in haste by a few Frenchmen, when the
English, under Admiral Nelson, attempted to take possession of the Colony.
It was there, said he, that a numerous fleet, commanded by one of the
bravest Admirals of the English navy, failed before a handful of French,
who covered themselves with glory and saved Teneriffe; the Admiral was
obliged to take flight, after having lost an arm in the contest, which was
long and obstinate.

Having doubled a point which extends into the sea, we entered the bay, at
the bottom of which is the town of St. Croix. The appearance of Teneriffe
is majestic: the whole island is composed of mountains, which are extremely
high, and crowned with rocks terrifying from their size, which on the north
side, seem to rise perpendicularly above the surface of the ocean, and to
threaten every moment to crush by their fall, the vessels which pass near
their base. Above them all rises the Pico, the summit of which is lost in
the clouds. We did not perceive that the Pic was constantly covered with
snow as some voyagers affirm, nor that it vomits forth lava of melted
metal; for when we observed it, its summit seemed intirely destitute of
snow and of volcanic eruptions. At the foot of the mountain, and up to a
certain elevation excavations filled with sulphur are observed; and in its
neighbourhood several of the sepulchral caverns of the Guanches, the
ancient inhabitants of the island.

Towards noon the _Echo_ corvette, which had parted company, rejoined us,
and passed under the stern of the frigate: she was ordered to imitate our
manoeuvres, which she instantly did; she did not send any boat on shore.
Thus united, we lay to together in the bay of St. Croix. About four o'clock
in the afternoon, the boat having returned on board we directed our course
for Senegal. They had bought in the town some earthen jars of a large size,
precious wines, oranges, lemons, banian figs, and vegetables of all kinds.

Several unfortunate Frenchmen were on the island who had been long
prisoners of war; they lived upon what the Spaniards chose to give them.
They had been restored to liberty on the conclusion of peace, and waited
only for a favorable opportunity to return to France. Their entreaties to
the officer who commanded the boat were useless; he had the cruelty to
refuse to restore them to their country and their families. In this boat
there was another officer M. Laperère, who strongly insisted on bringing
away these unfortunate persons; his entreaties could not move him who
commanded the boat.

The depravity of morals at St. Croix is extreme; so much so that when the
women heard that some Frenchmen were arrived in the town, they placed
themselves at their doors, and when they passed, urged them to enter. All
this is usually done in the presence of the husbands, who have no right to
oppose it, because the Holy Inquisition will have it so, and because the
monks who are very numerous in the island take care that this custom is
observed. They possess the art of blinding the husbands, by means of the
_prestiges_ of religion, which they abuse in the highest degree; they cure
them of their jealousy, to which they are much inclined, by assuring them
that their passion, which they call ridiculous, or conjugal mania, is
nothing but the persecution of Satan which torments them, and from which
they alone are able to deliver them, by inspiring their dear consorts with
some religious sentiments. These abuses are almost inevitable in a burning
climate, where the passion of love is often stronger than reason, and
sometimes breaks through the barriers which religion attempts to oppose to
it: this depravity of morals must therefore be attributed to inflamed
passions, and not to abuses facilitated by a religion so sublime as ours.

The Island of Teneriffe is not equal to that of Madeira: one cannot even
compare their agricultural productions, on account of the great difference
of their soils: but in a commercial view, Teneriffe has the advantage of
Madeira. Its geographical position in the middle of the Canaries, enables
it to carry on an extensive trade, while Madeira is confined to the sale
and exchange of its wines for articles of European manufacture.

The soil of Teneriffe is much drier; a great part of it is too volcanic to
be used for agriculture: every part of it however, which is capable of
producing anything is very well cultivated, which should seem to prove,
that the Spaniards of this country are naturally much less indolent than
they have been represented.[A3]

When we were in the open sea we had favorable winds from the N.N.E.

In the night of the 29th of June the frigate caught fire between decks, by
the negligence of the master baker; but being discovered in time, the fire
was extinguished. In the following night the same accident was repeated;
but this time it was necessary, in order to stop the progress of the fire,
to pull down the oven which was rebuilt the next day.

On the 1st of July we descried Cape Bayados, situated in latitude 26° 12'
30", and in longitude 16° 47'. We then saw the skirts of the immense desert
of Zaara, and we thought we perceived the mouth of the river St. John [A4],
which is very little known. We passed the tropic at ten o'clock in the
morning; the usual ceremony was there performed with a certain pomp; the
jokes of the sailors amused us for some moments; we were far from thinking
of the cruel event which was soon to deprive of their lives a third of the
persons who were on board the frigate. This custom of tropical baptism is
strange enough; the chief object of it, is, to procure the sailors some

From St. Croix, we had constantly steered to the S.S.W. During the ceremony
at the tropic we doubled Cape Barbas, situated in lat. 22° 6', and long.
19° 8': two officers suddenly had the course changed, without informing the
captain; this led to a pretty warm dispute, which however had no serious
consequences. These two officers affirmed that we were running upon a group
of rocks, and that we were already very near to the breakers. We had sailed
the whole morning in the Gulph of St. Cyprian, the bottom of which is
strewed with rocks, so that at low water, brigantines cannot frequent these
seas, as we were told at Senegal by M. Valentin, senior, who is perfectly
acquainted with this whole coast, and could not conceive how the frigate
could have passed amidst all these reefs without striking. The shore was
within half a cannon shot, and we clearly saw enormous rocks over which the
sea broke violently.[11] If it had fallen calm, there is no doubt but the
strong currents which set, in-shore, would have infallibly carried us into

In the evening we thought we descried Cape Blanco[A5], and according to
the instructions given by the Navy Office, we steered W.S.W. During a part
of the night the _Echo_, with which we had constantly kept company since we
left Madeira, burnt several charges of powder and hung a lanthorn at the
mizen-mast; her signals were not answered in the same manner; only a
lanthorn was hung for a few moments to the fore-mast; it went out soon
after, and was not replaced by another light. M. Savigny was on deck where
he remained a part of the night: he had full opportunity to perceive the
negligence of the officer of the watch, who did not even deign to answer
the signals made by the _Echo_[A6]. Why, in the neighbourhood of so
formidable a danger, not compare the points of the two ships, as is usual
when vessels sail in company?  The captain of the frigate was not even
informed of the signals of the corvette. At eleven o'clock, she bore off
the larboard bow; and soon after he perceived that the direction of her
course made a pretty large angle with ours, and that it tended to cross us
passing a-head; he soon perceived her on the starboard: it is affirmed that
her journal states that she sailed the whole night W.S.W. ours does the
same. We must necessarily have hauled to the larboard, or she to the
starboard, since at day-break the corvette was no longer in sight.

At sea a vessel may easily be perceived at the distance of six leagues.
From midnight till six in the morning, she must have gained above six
leagues of us, which is not to be imagined, for she sailed much slower than
we and stopped every two hours to take soundings. To explain this
separation we must necessarily admit either that the frigate steered more
south, or the corvette more west, if the two vessels had run on the same
tack it would be impossible to explain it.

Every two hours the frigate brought-to, to sound; every half hour the lead
was cast without lowering the sails; we were always upon shallows, and
stood out to sea, to find a greater quantity of water: at length about six
o'clock in the morning we had above a hundred fathoms; we then stood-to the
S.S.E.; this course made almost a right angle with that which we had
followed in the night: it bore directly in-shore, the approach to which, in
this place, is rendered terrible by a very long reef, called Arguin, which
according to instructions we had on board extends above thirty leagues in
breadth.[12] According to the instructions given by the Minister of the
Marine, this danger is avoided by running only twenty-two leagues in the
open sea; it is true they recommend not to approach the shore but with the
greatest precaution, and with the sounding line in the hand: the other
ships of the expedition which sailed according to those instructions all
arrived at St. Louis without any accident, which is a certain proof of
their exactness.[13] Besides it is said, that one must make W.S.W., when
one has discerned Cape Blanco; and it is probable we had not got sight of
it in the evening, as was supposed. We therefore had an uncertain point of
departure; hence the error which was so fatal to us.

According to my Comrade Corréard, we cannot pass over in silence, a scene
which took place in the morning. The Captain was deceived in the most
singular manner; about five or six o'clock he was called up; some persons
who were on deck persuaded him that a great cloud which was in the
direction of Cape Blanco and in truth very near it, was that Cape itself.
My companion in misfortune, who sees clearly, and who knows how to
distinguish between a rock and a cloud, because he has seen enough of them
in the Alps, where he was born, told those gentlemen that it was only a
cape of vapour; he was answered that the instructions which the minister
had given to the captain prescribed to him to make this cape; but that we
had passed it above ten leagues; that at this moment the question was, to
make the captain believe that the instructions of the minister had been
punctually followed, and that they desired to persuade him, which was not
difficult, that this cloud was the Cape. Many have deposed, as we have been
told, that Cape Blanco, had been seen in the evening of the 1st of July: we
venture to affirm that that rock was not seen at all.

After this pretended reconnaissance of the 2d July, if we were persuaded
that we had seen that Cape, we should have steered west, to double the bank
of Arguin; the danger once passed, the course should have been again
directed to the south which is the route to Senegal; but he who for some
days past had guided the course of the ship, thought proper to persuade the
captain, to take immediately the southerly course, and to steer for
Portendic. We are ignorant of the reasons which induced the commander of
the frigate to give his confidence to a man who did not belong to the
staff. He was an ex-officer of the marine, who had just left an English
prison, where he had been for ten years; he certainly had not acquired
there knowledge superior to that of the officers on board, whom this mark
of deference could not but offend. M. de Chaumareys, while we were doubling
Cape Barbas, presided at the farce performed in passing the Tropic, while
he who had gained his confidence, was walking up and down the deck of the
frigate, coolly observing the numerous dangers, spread along the coast.
Several persons remonstrated against this management of the vessel,
particularly Mr. Picard the greffier of Senegal, who had struck upon the
bank of Arguin eight years before; this enlightened man declared at that
time that we were running into danger.

As soon as the sun's altitude was observed to ascertain our position, we
saw, on the quarter deck, Mr. Maudet, ensign of the watch, working the
day's work, (making out the reckoning) upon a chicken coop; this officer
who knows all the duties of his profession, affirmed that we were on the
edge of the reef; he communicated this to the person who for some days past
had given his counsel to the commander respecting the course to be steered;
he received for answer; never mind, we are in eighty fathoms.[14]

If our course during the night had partly averted all our dangers, that
which was taken in the morning led us into them again. Mr. Maudet,
convinced that we were upon the reef, took upon him, to have soundings
taken; the colour of the water was intirely changed, which was observed
even by those who were the least used to recognise the depth of the sea, by
the appearance of the water; we even thought that we saw sand roll amid the
little waves that rose; numerous sea weeds were seen by the ship's side,
and a great many fish were caught. All these facts proved indubitably that
we were on shallow water: in fact the lead announced only eighteen fathoms;
the officer of the watch immediately informed the captain, who gave orders
to come a little more to the wind; we were going before the wind the
studding sails on the larboard; these sails were immediately lowered; the
lead was again cast, and showed six fathoms; the captain gave orders to
haul the wind as close as possible, but unhappily it was too late.[A7][B1]

The frigate luffing, almost immediately gave a heel; it proceeded a moment
longer; gave a second and then a third; it stopped at a place where the
sounding line showed only a depth of five metres sixty centimetres, and it
was the time of high water.

Unhappily we were in the season of the high tides, which was the most
unfavorable time for us because they were going to decline, and we ran a
ground just when the water was at the highest; for the rest, the tides do
not much differ in these seas; at the time of full moon they do not rise
more than fifty centimetres more than usual; in the spring tides the water
does not rise above one hundred and twenty centimetres on the reef. We have
already said that when we grounded, the sounding line marked only five
metres, and sixty centimetres; and at low water it marked, four metres
sixty centimetres, the frigate therefore saved by a metre: however, as soon
as we had stranded, the boats which went out to sound, met with places
deeper than that, where we struck, and many others not so deep; which made
us suppose that the reef is very uneven and covered with little elevations.
All the different manoeuvres which had been performed since the moment when
we found ourselves in eighteen fathoms, to that in which we struck,
succeeded each other with extraordinary rapidity: not above ten minutes
passed. Several persons have assured us that, if the ship had come entirely
to the wind, when we were in eighteen fathoms, the frigate might perhaps
have got clean, for she did not run wholly aground till she got to the west
part of the reef, and upon its edge.

We stranded on the 2d of July, at a quarter after three p.m. in 19° 36'
north latitude, and 19° 45' west longitude. This event spread the most
profound consternation; if in the midst of this disorder, there were any
men who remained collected enough to make observations, they must have been
struck with the extraordinary changes impressed on every countenance; some
persons were not to be recognised. Here you might see features become
shrunk and hideous; there a countenance which had assumed a yellow and even
a greenish hue, some men seemed thunderstruck and chained down to their
places, without strength to move. When they had recovered from the
stupefaction, with which they were at first seized, numbers gave themselves
up to excess of despair; while others uttered imprecations upon those whose
ignorance had been so fatal to us. An officer going upon deck, immediately
after the accident, spoke with energy to him, who, as we have already said,
had directed for some days the course of the ship, and said to him, "_See,
Sir, to what your obstinacy has brought us; I had warned you of it_." Two
women alone seemed insensible to this disaster; they were the wife and
daughter of the governor. What a shocking contrast! men who for twenty or
twenty-five years, had been exposed to a thousand dangers, were, profoundly
affected, while Madame and Mademoiselle Chemals, appeared insensible, and
as if unconcerned in these events.

As soon as the frigate stranded, the sails were hastily lowered, the top
gallant masts got down, the top masts lowered, and every thing necessary
arranged to get her off the reef. After numerous efforts, night being come,
they were suspended to give some repose to the crew, who had displayed
extreme activity. The next day, the third, the top masts were got down, the
yards lowered, and they heaved at the capstern upon an anchor which had
been fixed the evening before, at a cable's length a-stern of the frigate.
This operation was fruitless; for the anchor, which was too weak, could not
make sufficient resistance and gave way: a bower anchor was then used,
which, after infinite pains, was carried out to a considerable distance, to
a place where there was only a depth of five metres sixty centimetres; in
order to carry it so far, it was fixed behind a boat, under which was
placed a number of empty barrels fastened together because the boat was not
able to carry so considerable a weight.[15] The sea ran very high, and the
current was extremely strong.

This boat, when it reached the spot where it was to cast the anchor, could
not place it in the proper position to make the flukes fix in the sand, for
one of the extremities already touched the bottom, while the other was
still put of the water: being thus ill fixed, it could not answer the
purpose intended; when they began to heave upon it, it made very little
resistance, and would have been dragged on board again if they had
continued to work at the capstern.[16] In the course of the day, we staved
several water butts which were in the hold, and pumped immediately, the top
masts, except the small one which could not be got down, were thrown into
the sea; the yards, the boom, and all the pieces of wood which afterwards

If the loss of the vessel was certain, it was proper to secure the escape
of the crew: a council was called, at which the governor of Senegal gave
the plan of a raft, capable, it was said, of carrying two hundred men, with
provisions.[17] It was necessary to have recourse to an expedient of this
nature, because our six boats were judged to be incapable of taking on
board four hundred men, which was our number. The provisions were to be
deposited on the raft, and at the hours of meals, the crews of the boats
would have come to receive their rations: we were to reach all together the
sandy coast of the desert, and there furnished with arms and ammunition,
which were to be taken in by the boats before we left the frigate, we were
to form a caravan, and proceed to the Island of St. Louis. The events which
happened in the sequel, proved that this plan was perfectly well laid, and
that it might have been crowned with success: unhappily these decisions
were traced upon a loose sand, which was dispersed by the breath of

In the evening another anchor was cast, at a pretty considerable distance
from the frigate: just before high water, we began to work at the capstern,
but in vain. The work was put off till the next morning's tide; during all
this time, the operations were performed with the greatest difficulty; the
sea was hollow, the winds strong, the boats which had to go to a distance
either to sound or fix: anchors, could not attain their object, without the
greatest efforts; rapid currents, added to the difficulties. If the weather
had not been so extremely unfavorable to us, perhaps the frigate might have
been got afloat the next day, for it had been resolved to carry out very
long warps, but the violence of the wind, and the sea, baffled these
arrangements which nothing but a calm could favor. The weather was bad
during the whole night; about four or five o'clock, at the morning tide,
all our efforts to raise her were still fruitless; we began to despair of
even being able to save her from this danger; the boats were repaired, and
the construction of the raft diligently prosecuted: during the day of the
4. several barrels of flour were thrown into the sea, some water casks
staved; some barrels of powder, intended as articles to trade with Segenal,
were also got overboard.

In the evening, a few minutes before high water, the labours at the
capstern recommenced; this time the anchors did not deceive our
expectations; for, after a few moments labour, the frigate moved on the
larboard; this motion was effected by means of an anchor fixed on the north
west; the stream cable which was bent to its ring, came by the head of the
ship and tended to make it swing; while another much stronger one, the
cable of which passed through one of the stern ports, tended to prevent it
from running a-head, by supporting its quarters the motions of which were
commanded by means of this force. This first success gave us great hopes;
we worked with ardor.

After some further efforts, the _Medusa_ began to swing sensibly; we
redoubled our efforts, she swung intirely and then had her head turned, to
the open sea. She was almost afloat, only her stern touched a little; the
work could not be continued, because the anchor was too near, and it would
have been hove up. If a warp had been carried out in the open sea, by
continuing to haul upon it, the frigate would have been got wholly afloat
that evening. All the things which had been thrown overboard had lightened
her, by twenty or thirty centimetres at the most, her draught of water
might certainly have been lessened still more; but it was not done because
the Governor of Senegal objected to throwing the barrels of flour into the
sea, alledging that the greatest scarcity prevailed in the European
factories. These considerations, however, should not have caused it to be
overlooked that we had on board fourteen twenty-four pounders, and that it
would have been easy to throw them overboard, and send them even to a
considerable distance from the frigate, by means of the yard tackle;
besides, the flour barrels might have been carefully fastened together, and
when we were once out of danger, it would have been easy for us to remove
them. This plan might have been executed without any fear of doing much
damage to the flour, which when it is plunged in the water forms round the
inside of the barrel a pretty thick crust, in consequence of the moisture,
so that the interior is preserved from injury: this method was indeed
attempted, but it was given up, because the means employed were
insufficient. More care should have been used, and all the difficulties
would have been conquered; only half measures were adopted, and in all the
manoeuvres great want of decision prevailed.[B2]

If the frigate had been lightened as soon as we struck, perhaps she might
have been saved.[18] The weather, however, as we have already said, was
almost always unfavourable, and often hindered the operations.

Some persons expected to see the frigate got afloat the next day, and their
joy shewed that they were fully persuaded of it: there were indeed some
probabilities, but they were very slight; for the vessel had been merely
got out of its bed. We had hardly succeeded in changing its place to a
distance of about two hundred metres, when the sea began to ebb: the
frigate rested on the sand, which obliged us to suspend for ever our last
operations. If it had been possible to hold her this night to two or three
cables more in the open sea, still lightening her, perhaps, we repeat it,
she might have been placed out of danger.

At night the sky became cloudy, the winds came from the sea, and blew
violently. The sea ran high, and the frigate began to heel with more and
more violence, every moment we expected to see her bulge; consternation
again spread, and we soon felt the cruel certainty that she was
irrecoverably lost.[B3] She bulged in the middle of the night, the keel
broke in two, the helm was unship'd, and held to the stern only by the
chains, which caused it to do dreadful damage; it produced the effect of a
strong horizontal ram, which violently impelled by the waves, continually
struck the poop of the ship; the whole back part of the captain's cabin was
beat in, the water entered in an alarming manner. About eleven o'clock
there was a kind of mutiny, which was afterwards checked by the presence of
the governor and the officers; it was excited by some soldiers, who
persuaded their comrades that it was intended to abandon them on board the
frigate, while the crew escaped in the boats; these alarms were excited by
the imprudence of a young man; some soldiers had already taken their arms,
and had ranged themselves on the deck, all the avenues to which they

The raft, impelled by the strength of the current and of the sea, broke the
cable which fastened it to the frigate and began to drive; those who beheld
this accident announced it by their cries, and a boat was immediately sent
after it, which brought it back. This was a distressing night for us all;
agitated by the idea that our frigate was totally lost, and alarmed by the
violent shocks which it received from the waves, we were unable to take a
moment's repose.

At day-break, on the 5th, there were two metres seventy centimetres water
in the hold, and the pumps could no longer work with effect: it was decided
we ought to quit the vessel as soon as possible. The frigate, it was said,
threatened to upset; a childish fear, doubtless; but, what particularly
made it absolutely necessary to abandon her, was, that the water had
already penetrated between decks. A quantity of biscuit was hastily taken
from the store-room; wine and fresh water were also got out; these
provisions were intended to be placed in the boats and on the raft. To
preserve the biscuit from the salt water it was put into strong iron hooped
barrels, which were perfectly fit for the purpose. We are ignorant why
these provisions, so carefully prepared were not embarked either on the
raft or in the boats; the precipitation with which we embarked was the
cause of this negligence, so that some boats did not save above twenty-four
pounds of biscuit, a small cask of water and very little wine: the rest was
abandoned on the deck of the frigate or thrown into the sea during the
tumult of the evacuation. The raft alone had a pretty large quantity of
wine, but not a single barrel of biscuit, and if any was put upon it, it
was thrown off by the soldiers when they placed themselves upon it. To
avoid confusion, there was made, the day before, a list of the persons who
were to embark, assigning to every one the post he was to occupy; but no
attention was paid to this wise arrangement; every one took the means which
he thought the most favorable to reach the shore; those who executed the
orders which they had received to place themselves on the raft, had
certainly reason to repent it. Mr. Savigny was unfortunately of this
number; he might have stopped on board a boat, but an invincible attachment
to his duty made him forget the danger of the part which was allotted him.

At length, the moment when we were to abandon the frigate arrived. First,
the soldiers were embarked, who were almost all placed upon the raft: they
wanted to take their muskets and some cartridges: this was formally
opposed.[19] They left them on the deck, and preserved only their sabres:
some few, however, saved their carbines, and, almost all the officers,
their fowling pieces and pistols. In all, we were about one hundred and
forty-seven or one hundred and fifty; such is pretty nearly the account of
the persons who embarked on this fatal machine, one hundred and twenty
soldiers, including the officers of the army, twenty-nine men, sailors and
passengers, and one woman. The barge, commanded by a lieutenant, on board
of which were the governor and his family, took in thirty-five persons in
all: this large fourteen-oared vessel, could certainly have carried a
larger number: besides the people, there were three trunks; another
fourteen-oared boat took in forty-two persons; the captain's barge took
twenty-eight; the long boat, though in a very bad condition, destitute of
oars, took in, however, eighty-eight; an eight-oared boat which was to be
left at Senegal, for the service of the port, took twenty-five sailors; the
smallest of the boats had fifteen persons on board; among whom were the
interesting family of Mr. Picard, of whom we have spoken above: it was
composed of three young ladies, his wife, and four young children. All
these numbers added together, form a total of three hundred and
ninety-seven persons;[20] there were on board the frigate, near four
hundred sailors and soldiers: thus it appears that several poor wretches
were abandoned; when the Medusa was again found, fifty-two days after, it
was ascertained that the number of those, who had been abandoned, was
seventeen; which proves to us, that there were more than one hundred and
forty seven of us on the raft, and that it is more correct to fix the
number of the men at a hundred and fifty. It is said, that when the last
boat, which was the long boat, left the frigate, several men refused to
embark in her; the others were too much intoxicated to think of their
safety. A man of the name of Dalès, one of the seventeen who remained on
board the frigate, deposed in the council, that fourteen men had left the
long boat, because they did not think it capable of carrying so many, and
that he, with two others hid themselves, that they might not be compelled
to go on board. We are ignorant of the depositions of his two companions.

What a sight was it to behold a multitude of wretches, who all wanted to
escape death, and all sought to save themselves, either in the boats or
upon the rafts! The frigate's ladder was insufficient for so many: some
threw themselves from the vessels, trusting to the end of a rope, which was
scarcely able to bear a man's weight; some fell into the sea, and were
recovered; what is surprising is, that amidst all this confusion, there was
not a single serious accident.

Though in so terrible a situation, on our fatal raft, we cast our eyes upon
the frigate, and deeply regretted this fine vessel, which, a few days
before, seemed to command the waves, which it cut through with astonishing
rapidity. The masts, which had supported immense sails, no longer existed,
the barricade was entirely destroyed: the vessel itself was cast on the
larboard quarter.

All the boats, after they had sheered off, proceeded in different manners,
as we shall afterwards relate; but the men on board, when they reached the
shore, had to contend with a thousand causes of destruction. We will first
exactly relate all the operations that were executed till the moment when
the raft was abandoned.

About seven o'clock, the signal for departure was given; four of the boats
stood out to sea, the raft was still along side of the frigate, where it
was moored: the captain's barge was under the bowsprit and the barge near
our machine, on which it had just embarked some men. At length we were
ordered to depart; but whether from a presentiment of what was to happen to
us, or whether Mr. Correard entertained just fears, which the event proved
to be but too well founded, he would not depart, till he had convinced
himself that our raft was provided with all the necessary instruments and
charts, to navigate with some degree of safety in case bad weather should
oblige the boats to separate from us. As it was impossible to move upon the
raft, because we were so crowded together he thought it the easiest to call
to Mr. ---- who immediately answered to his call. Coming to the larboard,
he asked what we wanted?  The following questions were then put to him:
"Are we in a condition to depart?  Have we instruments and charts?" Yes,
yes, replied he, "I have provided you with every thing that can be
necessary for you." He was then asked, what naval officer was to come and
command us? he answered: "It is I; in a moment I shall be with you." After
saying this he disappeared, and went on board one of the boats.

How is it possible that a French sea officer should be guilty of such bad
faith to his unhappy countrymen, who placed all their confidence in him?

At last, the barge came to the head of the frigate, and the governor caused
himself to be let down in an arm chair; it then threw a tow rope to our
raft, and we stood off with this one boat; the second boat then gave a tow
line to the first; the Senegal boat came afterwards, and did the same;
there remained three boats, the captain's, which was still at the head of
the frigate, on board of which last there were above eighty men, who
uttered cries of despair, when they saw the boats and the raft stand off.
The three boats which towed us, soon brought us to a distance from the
vessel; they had a good wind, and the sailors rowed like men who were
resolved to save themselves from the imminent danger which threatened us.
The long-boat, and the pinnace were at some distance, and attempted to
return on board; lastly, M. De Chaumareys embarked in his barge, by one of
the ropes a-head: some sailors threw themselves into it, and loosened the
ropes, by which it was lashed to the frigate. Immediately the cries of the
people who remained on board redoubled, and an officer of the troops even
took up a carbine to fire at the captain: but was prevented. We soon saw
that this man was not equal to his duty; from the manner in which he
abandoned his people. We regretted that the arm of the officer had been
withheld when he wished to prevent the captain's design; but, our regret
was unavailing; the mischief was done; it was irreparable; he had no idea
of repairing it, and he could not return on board, for he was sure to meet
there with that death, which he sought to avoid, at the expence of honor.

M. de Chaumareys, however, went on board the long-boat, and gave order that
it should take in the men who remained on board the frigate.[B4] Some
persons belonging to this boat have informed us, that they were told there
were, at the most, about twenty who could not embark; but, the long-boat,
destitute of oars, attempted, to no purpose, to get back to the frigate; a
boat tried, without success, to tow it; it could not attain the object,
till it sent the pinnace to fetch some long ropes, one end of which was
lashed to the frigate, and the other brought on board the long-boat, which
was thus towed to the larboard side of the ship. Lieutenant Espiau, who
commanded this large boat, was surprised at finding above sixty soldiers
and sailors, instead of twenty. This officer went on board with Mr. Bredif,
engineer of mines, who tried to recall to their reason, those whose
intellectual faculties had been impaired by the presence of danger. Mr.
Espiau, embarked with proper order, the men who were on the deck; seventeen
only as we have said, refused; some fearing that the boat would founder
before she could reach the raft, and the other boats, which left it more
and more behind; some others, because they were too much intoxicated as we
have stated, to think of their safety.[B5] The fears of the former, (and
they are probably those who, according to the deposition of Dalès, returned
on board the frigate) were founded on the bad condition of the long-boat,
which let in the water on every side. After promising the men who persisted
in remaining, that assistance should be sent them, as soon as the others
arrived at Senegal, the long-boat stood off to join the little division.
Before he left the frigate, Mr. Espiau had the grand national flag

When this boat left the frigate to join us, we were, at least, a league and
a half distant; the captain's barge had come some time before to take the
towrope, and was at the head of the line; the smallest of the boats (the
pinnace) did not take the towline; it preceded the little division,
probably to take soundings.

As soon as all the boats had taken their post, cries of "_Vive le Roi!_"
were a thousand times repeated by the men upon the raft, and a little white
flag was hoisted at the top of a musket. Such was the order of the boats
and the raft. The chiefs of the little division which was to conduct us to
the land, had sworn not to abandon us: we are far from accusing all those
gentlemen of having violated the laws of honor; but a series of
circumstances obliged them to renounce the generous plan which they had
formed to save us, or to perish with us. These circumstances deserve to be
scrupulously examined; but our pen, guided by truth, must not fear to
record facts which truth itself dictates. It is true they are of so strange
a nature, that it is unpleasant to make them known. It is painful to us, to
have to recount such events: we have to shew to what a degree the
imagination of man is susceptible of being struck by the presence of
danger, so as to make him even forget the duties which honour imposes on
him. We, doubtless, admit that in forsaking the raft, the minds of those
who did so, were greatly agitated, and that the desire of withdrawing
themselves from danger, made them forget that a hundred and fifty
unfortunate men were going to be abandoned to the most cruel sufferings. We
shall relate the facts as we observed them, and as they have been
communicated to us, by some of our companions in misfortune.

Before we proceed, we will describe the construction of this raft, to which
a hundred and fifty persons were entrusted.

It was composed of the top-masts of the frigate, yards, fishes, boom, &c.
These different pieces joined together by very strong ropes, were perfectly
solid; the two principal pieces were two top-masts, which were placed at
the extremity of the two sides; four other masts, two of which were of the
same length and strength as the first, joined two by two, at the center of
the machine, added to its solidity. The other pieces were placed within
these four first but were not equal to them in length. Boards were nailed
on this first foundation, and formed a kind of parapet, which would have
been of great service to us if it had been higher. To render our raft still
more solid, long pieces of wood had been placed across, which projected at
least three metres: on the sides, there was a kind of railing, but it was
not above forty centimetres in height: it would have been easy to add some
crotches to it, which would have formed a breast-work of sufficient height;
but it was not done, probably because those who had the machine built, were
not to be exposed upon it. To the ends of the top-masts, two top-gallant
yards were lashed, the farther ends of which were bound by a very strong
cord, and thus formed the front part of the raft. The angular space, formed
by the two yards, was filled with pieces of wood laid across, and planks
ill adjusted. This fore part, which was at least two metres in length, had
very little solidity, and was continually submerged. The hinder part did
not terminate in a point like the fore part, but a considerable length of
this part was not more solid, so that in fact, there was only the center
which was really to be depended upon: an example will enable the reader to
judge of its dimensions. When we were no more than fifteen in it, we had
not space enough to lie down, and yet we were extremely close together. The
raft, from one extremity, to the other was at least twenty metres in
length, and about seven in breadth; this length might induce one to think,
at the first sight, that it was able to carry two hundred men, but we soon
had cruel proofs of its weakness. It was without sails or mast. As we left
the frigate they threw us the fore-top-gallant and the main-top-gallant
sails; but they did it with such precipitation, that, some persons who were
at their post, were in danger of being wounded by the fall of these sails,
which were bent to the yards. They did not give us any ropes to set up our

There was on board the raft a great quantity of barrels of flour, which had
been deposited there the preceding day, not to serve for provisions during
the passage, from the frigate to the coast, but because the raft, formed of
the barrels, not having succeeded, they were deposited on the machine, that
they might not be carried away by the sea, there were also six barrels of
wine and two small casks of water, which had been put there for the use of
the people.

Scarcely fifty men had got upon the raft, when it sunk at least seventy
centimetres under water; so that to facilitate the embarkation of the other
soldiers it was necessary to throw into the sea all the flour barrels,
which lifted by the waves, began to float and were violently driven against
the men who were at their post; if they had been fixed, perhaps some of
them might have been saved: as it was, we saved only the wine and the
water, because several persons united to preserve them, and had much
difficulty to hinder them from being thrown into the sea like the flour
barrels. The raft, lightened by throwing away these barrels, was able to
receive more men; we were at length a hundred and fifty. The machine was
submerged at least a metre: we were so crowded together that it was
impossible to take a single step; at the back and the front, we were in
water up to the middle. At the moment that we were; putting off, from the
frigate, a bag with twenty-five pounds of biscuit was thrown us, which fell
into the sea; we got it up with difficulty; it was converted into a paste,
but we preserved it in that condition. Several considerate persons fastened
the casks of wine and water to the cross pieces of the raft, and we kept a
strict watch over them. Thus we have faithfully described the nature of our
situation when we put off from the vessel.

The Commander of the raft was named Coudin who was, what is called in the
French marine an _Aspirant_ of the first class. Some days before our
departure from the roads of the Isle of Aix, he had received a severe
contusion on the fore part of the right leg, which was not approaching to
its cure, when we stranded and wholly incapacitated him from moving. One of
his comrades, moved by his situation, offered to take his place, but Mr.
Coudin, though wounded, preferred repairing to the dangerous post which was
assigned him, because he was the oldest officer of his class on board. He
was hardly on board the raft, when the sea water so increased the pain in
his leg, that he nearly fainted; we gave notice of his situation to the
nearest boat, we were answered that a boat would come and fetch this
officer. I do not know whether the order was given, but it is certain that
Mr. Coudin was obliged to remain on the fatal raft.

The long-boat, which we have been forced to lose sight of for a moment, in
order to give these necessary details, at length rallied; it was, as we
have stated, the last that left the frigate. The lieutenant who commanded
her, justly fearing that he should not be able to keep the sea, in a crazy
boat destitute of oars, badly rigged, and making much water, ran along-side
of the first boat, begging it to take in some men; they refused. This long
boat was to leave us some ropes to fix our mast; which an instant before
had been hauled to us, by the first boat, which we had before us: we do not
know what reason hindered it from leaving us these ropes, but it passed on,
and ran along-side the second boat, which equally refused to take any body
on board. The officer, who commanded the long-boat, seeing that they
refused to take any of his men, and falling more and more under the wind,
because his sails were badly trimmed, and the currents drove him, made up
to the third-boat, commanded by a sub-lieutenant named Maudet; this
officer, commanding a slight boat which the day before had a plank beat in,
by one of the cross pieces of the raft, (an accident which had been
remedied by covering the hole with a large piece of lead,) and being
besides heavily laden, in order to avoid the shock of the long-boat, which
might have been fatal to him, was forced to let loose the tow-rope, which
held him to the barge, and thus broke in two the line formed by the boats
before the craft, by separating himself from it with the captains boat
which was at the head: when the captain and Mr. Maudet had disengaged
themselves they hauled the wind, and then put about to come and take their
post; Mr. Maudet even hailed M. de Chaumareys, "_Captain take your towrope
again_," he received for answer, _yes my friend_. Two boats were still at
their post, but before the other two were able to rejoin them, the barge
separated itself; the officer who commanded it, expressed himself as
follows respecting his thus abandoning us. "The towrope was not let go from
my boat, but from that behind me." This second desertion was the forerunner
of another still more cruel; for the officer who commanded the last boat in
which was the governor, after having towed us alone, for a moment, caused
the rope to be loosened which held it to the raft. When the towropes were
let go, we were two leagues from the frigate; the breeze came from the sea,
which was as favorable as could be desired. This last tow-rope did not
break, as the governor has tried to persuade the minister of the marine,
and several persons who escaped from the raft. Walking on the terrace of a
French merchant at Senegal, in the presence of Messrs. Savigny and Coudin,
the governor explained the affair as follows: "Some men were on the front
of the raft, at the place where the tow-rope was fixed; which they pulled
so as to draw the boat nearer to them; they had already pulled several
fathoms of it to them, but a wave coming, gave a violent shock; these men
were obliged to let go; the boats then proceeded more rapidly, till the
rope was stretched; at the moment when the boats effected this tension the
effort was such, that the rope broke." This manner of explaining this last
desertion is very adroit, and might easily deceive those who were not on
the spot, but it is not possible for us to accede to it, since we could
even name the person who loosened it.

Some persons belonging to the other boats have assured us, that all the
boats were coming to resume their post, when a cry of "_we forsake them_,"
was heard: we have this fact from many of our companions in misfortune. The
whole line was thrown into disorder, and no measures were taken to remedy
it: it is probable, that if one of the first officers had set the example,
order would have been restored; but every one was left to himself; hence
there was no concert in the little division; every one thought of escaping
from personal danger.

Let us here do justice to the courage of Mr. Clanet, pay-master of the
frigate, who was on board the governor's boat; if he had been listened to,
this tow-rope would not have been let go; every moment an officer who was
in the governor's boat cried out aloud, "_shall I let go?_" Mr. Clanet
opposed it, answering with firmness, "_No no_!" Some persons joined him,
but could obtain nothing, the tow-rope was let go: we considered it as
certain, that the commander of the other boats, on seeing the chief of the
expedition courageously devote himself, would have come and resumed their
posts: but it may be said that each individual boat was abandoned by all
the others: there was wanting, on this occasion, a man of great coolness:
and ought not this man to have been found among the chief officers?  How
shall their conduct be justified?  There are, certainly, some reasons to be
alledged. Impartial judges of events, we will describe them, not as unhappy
victims of the consequences of this desertion, but as men free from all
personal resentment, and who listen only to the voice of truth.

The raft, drawn by all the boats united, dragged them a little back; it is
true that we just had the ebb, and the currents set from shore. To be in
the open sea with undecked vessels, might well inspire some apprehensions:
but, in a few hours, the currents would change and favor us; we ought to
have waited for this moment, which would have infallibly demonstrated the
possibility of drawing us to the coast, which was not above twelve or
fifteen leagues distant: this is so true that the boats discovered the
coast, the same evening, before sunset. Perhaps they would have been forced
to forsake us the second night after our departure, if indeed more than
thirty-six hours had been required to tow us to land; for the weather was
very bad; but we should then have been very near to the coast, and it would
have been very easy to save us: at least we should have had only the
elements to accuse!--We are persuaded that a short time would have sufficed
to tow us within sight of land, for, the evening of our being deserted, the
raft was precisely in the direction which the boats had followed between
the frigates and the coast, and, at least, five leagues from the former.
The next morning, at daybreak, we could no longer see the Medusa.[A9]

At the first moment we did not really believe that we had been so cruelly
abandoned. We imagined that the boats had let loose, because they had
perceived a vessel, and hastened towards it to ask assistance. The
long-boat was pretty near us to leeward on the starboard. She lowered her
foresail half way down: her manoeuvre made us think that she was going to
take the first tow-rope: she remained so a moment, lowered her foresail
entirely, setup her main-mast, hoisted her sails, and followed the rest of
the division. Some men in this boat, seeing that the others deserted us,
threatened to fire upon them, but were stopped by Lieutenant Espiau. Many
persons have assured us that it was the intention of this officer to come
and take the tow-rope; but his crew opposed it; had he done so, he would
certainly have acted with great imprudence. His efforts would have been of
little use to us, and his devotedness would but have increased the number
of victims.[B6] As soon as this boat was gone, we had no doubt but that we
were abandoned; yet we were not fully convinced of it till the boats had

It was now that we had need of all our courage, which, however, forsook us
more than once: we really believed that we were sacrificed, and with one
accord, we cried that this desertion was premeditated. We all swore to
revenge ourselves if we had the good fortune to reach the shore, and there
is no doubt but that, if we could have overtaken, the next day, those who
had fled in the boats, an obstinate combat would have taken place between,
them and us.

It was then that some persons who had been marked out for the boats, deeply
regretted that they had preferred the raft, because duty and honor had
pointed out this post to them. We could mention some persons: for example,
Mr. Correard, among others, was to go in one of the boats; but twelve of
the workmen, whom we commanded, had been set down for the raft; he thought
that in his quality of commander of engineers, it was his duty not to
separate from the majority of those who had been confided to him, and who
had promised to follow him wherever the exigencies of the service might
require; from that moment his fate became inseparable from theirs, and he
exerted himself to the utmost to obtain the governor's permission to have
his men embarked in the same boat as himself; but seeing that he could
obtain nothing to ameliorate the fate of these brave men, he told the
governor that he was incapable of committing an act of baseness: that since
he would not put his workmen in the same boat with him, he begged him to
allow him to go on the raft with them, which was granted.

Several military officers imitated their example; only two of those who
were to command the troops did not think fit to place themselves upon the
raft, the equipment of which, in truth, could not inspire much confidence.

One of them, Captain Beinière, placed himself in the long-boat with 36 of
his soldiers. We had been told that these troops had been charged to
superintend the proceedings of the other boats, and to fire upon those who
should attempt to abandon the raft. It is true, as we have seen above, that
some brave soldiers listening, perhaps, more to the voice of humanity and
French honor, than to the strict maxims of discipline, were desirous of
employing their arms against those who basely abandoned us, but, that their
will and their actions were paralized by the passive obedience which they
owed to their officers, who opposed this resolution.

The other, Mr. Danglas, a lieutenant, who had lately left the
_gardes-du-corps_, had at first embarked with us upon the raft, where his
post was assigned him, but when he saw the danger which he incurred on this
unstable machine, he made haste to quit it, on the pretext that he had
forgotten something on board the frigate, and did not return. It was he
whom we saw, armed with a carbine, threaten to fire on the barge of the
governor, when it began to move from the frigate. This movement, and some
other actions which were taken for madness, nearly cost him his life; for
while he was thus giving himself up to a kind of extravagance, the captain
took flight, and abandoned him on board the frigate with the sixty-three
men whom he left there. When M. Danglas saw himself treated in this manner,
he gave marks of the most furious despair. They were obliged to hinder him
from attempting his own life. With loud cries he invoked death, which he
believed inevitable in the midst of perils so imminent. It is certain that
if Mr. Espiau, who had his long-boat already full, had not returned to take
from on board the frigate, the forty-six men, among whom, was Mr. Danglas,
he and all his companions would not, perhaps, have experienced a better
fate than the seventeen who were finally left on board the Medusa.

After the disappearance of the boats, the consternation was extreme: all
the terrors of thirst and famine arose before our imaginations, and we had
besides to contend with a perfidious element, which already covered the
half of our bodies: when recovered from their stupefaction, the sailors and
soldiers gave themselves up to despair; all saw inevitable destruction
before them, and gave vent in lamentations to the gloomy thoughts which
agitated them. All we said did not at first avail to calm their fears, in
which we however participated, but which a greater degree of strength of
mind enabled us to dissemble. At last, a firm countenance and consoling
words succeeded in calming them by degrees, but could not wholly dispel the
terror with which they were struck; for according to the judicious
reflection, made after reading our deplorable story, by Mr. Jay, whose
authority we quote with pleasure, "To support extreme misfortunes, and what
is worthy of remark, to bear great fatigues, moral energy is much more
necessary than corporeal strength, nay, than the habit of privations and
hard labour. On this narrow theatre where so many sufferings are united,
where the most cruel extremes of hunger and thirst are experienced, strong
and indefatigable men who have been brought up to the most laborious
professions, sink in succession under the weight of the common destiny,
while men of a weak constitution, and not inured to fatigue, find in their
minds the strength which their bodies want, endure with courage unheard-of
trials, and issue victorious from their struggle with the most horrible
afflictions. It is to the education they have received, to the exercise of
their intellectual faculties, that they owe this astonishing superiority
and their deliverance," When tranquillity was a little restored, we began
to look upon the raft for the charts, the compass and the anchor, which we
presumed had been placed there, from what had been said to us at the time
we quitted the frigate. These highly necessary articles had not been put
upon our machine. The want of a compass in particular, greatly alarmed us,
and we uttered cries of rage and vengeance. Mr. Correard then recollected,
that he had seen one in the hands of one of the chief workmen under his
command, and enquired of this man about it: "Yes, yes," said he, "I have it
with me." This news transported us with joy, and we thought that our safety
depended on this feeble resource. This little compass was about the size of
a crown-piece, and far from correct. He who has not been exposed to events,
in which his existence was in imminent peril, can form but a faint idea of
the value which one then sets upon the most common and simple objects, with
what avidity one seizes the slightest means, that are capable of softening
the rigour of the fate with which one has to contend. This compass was
given to the commander of the raft; but an accident deprived us of it for
ever: it fell, and was lost between the pieces of wood which composed our
machine: we had kept it only for a few hours; after this loss, we had
nothing to guide us but the rising and setting of the sun.

We had all left the frigate without taking any food: hunger began to be
severely felt; we mixed our biscuit-paste (which had fallen into the sea)
with a little wine, and we distributed it thus prepared: such was our first
meal, and the best we had the whole time we were on the raft.

An order, according to numbers, was fixed for the distribution of our
miserable provisions. The ration of wine was fixed at three quarters[21] a
day: we shall say no more of the biscuit: the first distribution consumed
it entirely. The day passed over pretty quietly: we conversed on the means
which we should employ to save ourselves; we spoke of it as a certainty,
which animated our courage: and we kept up that of the soldiers, by
cherishing the hope of being soon able to revenge ourselves upon those who
had so basely abandoned us. This hope of vengeance inspired us all equally,
and we uttered a thousand imprecations against those who had left us a prey
to so many misfortunes and dangers. The officer who commanded, the raft
being unable to move, Mr. Savigny took on himself the care of setting up
the mast; he caused the pole of one of the frigate's masts to be cut in
two; we employed the main-top-gallant sail; the mast was kept up by the
rope which had served to tow us, of which we made shrouds and stays: it was
fixed on the anterior third of the raft. The sail trimmed very well, but
the effect of it was of very little use to us; it served only when the wind
came from behind, and to make the raft preserve this direction it was
necessary to trim the sail, as if the wind came athwart. We think that the
cross position which our raft always retained, may be attributed to the too
great length of the pieces of wood which projected on each side.

In the evening, our hearts and our prayers, with the impulse natural to the
unfortunate, were directed towards heaven; we invoked it with fervour, and
we derived from our prayers the advantage of hoping in our safety: one must
have experienced cruel situations, to imagine what a soothing charm, in the
midst of misfortune, is afforded by the sublime idea of a God, the
protector of the unfortunate. One consoling idea still pleased our
imaginations; we presumed that the little division had sailed for the Isle
of Arguin, and that after having landed there a part of its people, would
return to our assistance: this idea, which we tried to inspire into our
soldiers and sailors, checked their clamours. The night came, and our hopes
were not yet fulfilled: the wind freshened, the sea rose considerably. What
a dreadful night! Nothing but the idea of seeing the boats the next day,
gave some consolation to our people; who being most of them unused to the
motion of a vessel,[22] at every shock of the sea, fell upon each other.
Mr. Savigny, assisted by some persons, who, in the midst of this disorder,
still retained their presence of mind, fastened some ropes to the pieces of
the raft: the men took hold of them, and by means of this support, were
better able to resist the force of the waves: some were obliged to fasten
themselves. In the middle of the night the weather was very bad; very heavy
waves rolled upon us, and often threw us down with great violence; the
cries of the people were mingled with the roaring of the billows; a
dreadful sea lifted us every moment from the raft, and threatened to carry
us away. This scene was rendered still more awful by the horrors of a very
dark night; for some moments we thought that we saw fires at a distance. We
had taken the precaution to hang, at the top of the mast, some gun-powder
and pistols, with which we had provided ourselves on board the frigate: we
made signals by burning a great many charges of powder; we even fired some
pistol-shot, but it seems that these fires were only an illusion of the
eyesight, or perhaps they were nothing but the dashing of the breakers.

This whole night we contended against death, holding fast by the ropes
which were strongly fastened. Rolled by the waves from the back to the
front, and from the front to the back, and sometimes precipitated into the
sea, suspended between life and death, lamenting our misfortune, certain to
perish, yet still struggling for a fragment of existence with the cruel
element which threatened to swallow us up. Such was our situation till
day-break; every moment were heard the lamentable cries of the soldiers and
sailors; they prepared themselves for death; they bid farewell to each
other, imploring the protection of Heaven, and addressing fervent prayers
to God: all made vows to him, notwithstanding the certainty that they
should never be able to fulfil them. Dreadful situation! How is it possible
to form an idea of it, which is not below the truth!

About seven o'clock, in the morning, the sea fell a little, the wind blew
with less fury; but what a sight presented itself to our view! Ten or
twelve unhappy wretches, having their lower extremities entangled in the
openings between the pieces of the raft, had not been able to disengage
themselves, and had lost their lives; several others had been carried off
by the violence of the sea. At the hour of repast we took fresh numbers, in
order to leave no break in the series: we missed twenty men: we will not
affirm that this number is very exact, for we found that some soldiers, in
order to have more than their ration, took two, and even three numbers. We
were so many persons crowded together, that it was absolutely impossible to
prevent these abuses.

Amidst these horrors, an affecting scene of filial piety forced us to shed
tears: two young men raised and recognised, for their father, an
unfortunate man who was stretched senseless under the feet of the people;
at first, they thought he was dead, and their despair expressed itself by
the most affecting lamentations; it was perceived, however, that this
almost inanimate body still had breath; we lavished on him all the
assistance in our power; he recovered by degrees, and was restored to life
and to the prayers of his sons, who held him fast embraced in their arms.
While the rights of nature resumed their empire in this affecting episode
of our sad adventures, we had soon the afflicting sight of a melancholy
contrast. Two young lads, and a baker, did not fear to seek death, by
throwing themselves into the sea, after having taken leave of their
companions in misfortune. Already the faculties of our men were singularly
impaired; some fancied they saw the land; others, vessels which were coming
to save us; all announced to us by their cries these fallacious visions.

We deplored the loss of our unhappy companions; we did not presage, at this
moment, the still more terrible scene which was to take place the following
night; far from that, we enjoyed a degree of satisfaction, so fully were we
persuaded that the boats would come to our relief. The day was fine, and
the most perfect tranquillity prevailed on our raft. The evening came, and
the boats did not appear. Despondency began again to seize all our people,
and a mutinous spirit manifested itself by cries of fury; the voice of the
officers was wholly disregarded. When the night came, the sky was covered
with thick clouds; the wind, which during the day had been rather high, now
became furious, and agitated the sea, which, in an instant, grew very

If the preceding night had been terrible, this was still more horrible.
Mountains of water covered us every moment, and broke, with violence, in
the midst of us; very happily we had the wind behind us, and the fury of
the waves was a little checked by the rapidity of our progress; we drove
towards the land. From the violence of the sea, the men passed rapidly from
the back to the front of the raft, we were obliged to keep in the centre,
the most solid part of the raft; those who could not get there, almost all
perished. Before and behind the waves dashed with fury, and carried off the
men in spite of all their resistance. At the centre, the crowd was such
that some poor men were stifled by the weight of their comrades, who fell
upon them every moment; the officers kept themselves at the foot of the
little mast, obliged, every instant, to avoid the waves, to call to those
who surrounded them to go on the one or the other side, for the waves which
came upon us, nearly athwart, gave our raft a position almost
perpendicular, so that, in order to counterbalance it, we were obliged to
run to that side which was raised up by the sea.[A10]

The soldiers and sailors, terrified by the presence of an almost inevitable
danger, gave themselves up for lost. Firmly believing that they were going
to be swallowed up, they resolved to soothe their last moments by drinking
till they lost the use of their reason; we had not strength to oppose this
disorder; they fell upon a cask which was at the middle of the raft, made a
large hole at one end, and with little tin cups which they had brought from
on board the frigate, they each took a pretty large quantity, but they were
soon obliged to desist, because the sea water entered by the hole which
they had made.

The fumes of the wine soon disordered their brains, already affected by the
presence of danger and want of food. Thus inflamed, these men, become deaf
to the voice of reason, desired to implicate, in one common destruction,
their companions in misfortune; they openly expressed their intention to
rid themselves of the officers, who they said, wished to oppose their
design, and then to destroy the raft by cutting the ropes which united the
different parts that composed it. A moment after, they were proceeding to
put this plan in execution. One of them advanced to the edge of the raft
with a boarding-axe, and began to strike the cords: this was the signal for
revolt: we advanced in order to stop these madmen: he who was armed with
the axe, with which he even threatened an officer, was the first victim: a
blow with a sabre put an end to his existence. This man was an Asiatic, and
soldier in a colonial regiment: a colossal stature, short curled hair, an
extremely large nose, an enormous mouth, a sallow complexion, gave him a
hideous air. He had placed himself, at first, in the middle of the raft,
and at every blow of his fist he overthrew those who stood in his way; he
inspired the greatest terror, and nobody dared to approach him. If there
had been half-a-dozen like him, our destruction would have been inevitable.

Some persons, desirous of prolonging their existence, joined those who
wished to preserve the raft, and armed themselves: of this number were some
subaltern officers and many passengers. The mutineers drew their sabres,
and those who had none, armed themselves with knives: they advanced
resolutely against us; we put ourselves on our defence: the attack was
going to begin. Animated by despair, one of the mutineers lifted his sabre
against an officer; he immediately fell, pierced with wounds. This firmness
awed them a moment; but did not at all diminish their rage. They ceased to
threaten us, and presenting a front bristling with sabres and bayonets,
they retired to the back part, to execute their plan. One of them pretended
to rest himself on the little railing which formed the sides of the raft,
and with a knife began to cut the cords. Being informed by a servant, we
rushed upon him--a soldier attempted to defend him--threatened an officer
with his knife, and in attempting to strike him, only pierced his coat--the
officer turned round--overpowered his adversary, and threw both him and his
comrade into the sea!

After this there were no more partial affairs: the combat became general.
Some cried lower the sail; a crowd of madmen instantly threw themselves on
the yards and the shrouds, and cut the stays, and let the mast fall, and
nearly broke the thigh of a captain of foot, who fell senseless. He was
seized by the soldiers, who threw him into the sea: we perceived it--saved
him, and placed him on a barrel, from which he was taken by the seditious;
who were going to cut out his eyes with a penknife. Exasperated by so many
cruelties, we no longer kept any measures, and charged them furiously. With
our sabres drawn we traversed the lines which the soldiers formed, and many
atoned with their lives for a moment of delusion. Several passengers
displayed much courage and coolness in these cruel moments.

Mr. Corréard was fallen into a kind of trance, but hearing every moment
cries of "_To arms! To us, comrades! We are undone_!" joined to the cries
and imprecations of the wounded and the dying, he was soon roused from his
lethargy. The increasing confusion made him sensible that it was necessary
to be upon his guard. Armed with his sabre, he assembled some of his
workmen on the front of the raft, and forbid them to hurt any one unless
they were attacked. He remained almost always with them, and they had
several times to defend themselves against the attacks of the mutineers;
who falling into the sea, returned by the front of the raft; which placed
Mr. Corréard and his little troop between two dangers, and rendered their
position very difficult to be defended. Every moment men presented
themselves, armed with knives, sabres and bayonets; many had carbines,
which they used as clubs. The workmen did their utmost to stop them, by
presenting the point of their sabres; and, notwithstanding the repugnance
they felt to combat their unhappy countrymen, they were however obliged to
use their arms without reserve; because many of the mutineers attacked them
with fury, it was necessary to repulse them in the same manner. In this
action some of the workmen received large wounds; he who commanded them
reckons a great number, which he received in the various combats they had
to maintain. At last their united efforts succeeded in dispersing the
masses that advanced furiously against them.

During this combat, Mr. Corréard was informed, by one of his workmen who
remained faithful, that one of their comrades, named Dominique, had taken
part with the mutineers, and that he had just been thrown into the sea.
Immediately forgetting the fault and the treachery of this man, he threw
himself in after him, at the place where the voice of the wretch had just
been heard calling for assistance; he seized him by the hair, and had the
good fortune to get him on board. Dominique had received, in a charge,
several sabre wounds, one of which had laid open his head. Notwithstanding
the darkness we found the wound, which appeared to us to be very
considerable. One of the workmen gave his handkerchief to bind it up and
stanch the blood. Our care revived this wretch; but as soon as he recovered
his strength, the ungrateful Dominique, again forgetting his duty and the
signal service that he had just received from us, went to rejoin the
mutineers. So much baseness and fury did not go unpunished; and soon
afterwards, while combating us anew, he met with his death, from which he,
in fact, did not merit to be rescued, but which he would probably have
avoided, if faithful to honor and to gratitude, he had remained among us.

Just when we had almost finished applying a kind of dressing to the wounds
of Dominique, another voice was heard; it was that of the unfortunate woman
who was on the raft with us, and whom the madmen had thrown into the sea,
as well as her husband, who defended her with courage. Mr. Corréard, in
despair at seeing two poor wretches perish, whose lamentable cries,
especially those of the woman, pierced his heart, seized a large rope which
was on the front of the raft, which he fastened round the middle of his
body, and threw himself, a second time, into the sea, whence he was so
happy as to rescue the woman, who invoked, with all her might, the aid of
Our Lady of Laux, while her husband was likewise saved by the chief
workman, Lavillette. We seated these two poor people upon dead bodies, with
their backs leaning against a barrel. In a few minutes they had recovered
their senses. The first thought of the woman was to enquire the name of him
who had saved her, and to testify to him the warmest gratitude. Thinking,
doubtless, that her words did not sufficiently express her sentiments, she
recollected that she had, in her pocket, a little snuff, and immediately
offered it to him--it was all she possessed. Touched by this present, but
not making use of this antiscorbutic, Mr. Corréard, in turn, made a present
of it to a poor sailor, who used it three or four days. But a more
affecting scene, which it is impossible for us to describe, is the joy
which this unfortunate couple displayed when they had sufficiently
recovered their senses to see that they were saved.

The mutineers being repulsed, as we have said above, left us at this moment
a little repose. The moon with her sad beams, illumined this fatal raft,
this narrow space, in which were united so many heart-rending afflictions,
so many cruel distresses, a fury so insensate, a courage so heroic, the
most pleasing and generous sentiments of nature and humanity.

The man and his wife, who just before had seen themselves attacked with
sabres and bayonets, and thrown at the same moment into the waves of a
stormy sea, could hardly believe their senses when they found themselves in
each others arms. They felt, they expressed, so fervently, the happiness
which they were alas, to enjoy for so short a time, that this affecting
sight might have drawn tears from the most insensible heart; but in this
terrible moment, when we were but just breathing after the most furious
attack, when we were forced to be constantly on our guard, not only against
the attacks of the men, but also against the fury of the waves: few of us
had time, if we may say so, to suffer ourselves to be moved by this scene
of conjugal friendship.

Mr. Corréard, one of those whom it had most agreeably affected, hearing the
woman still recommend herself, as she had done when in the sea, to our Lady
of Laux, exclaiming every instant, "our good Lady of Laux do not forsake
us," recollected that there was, in fact, in the Department of the Upper
Alps, a place of devotion so called,[23] and asked her if she came from
that country. She replied in the affirmative, and said she had quitted it
24 years before, and that since that time she had been in the Campaigns in
Italy, &c. as a sutler; that she had never quitted our armies. "Therefore,"
said she, "preserve my life, you see that I am a useful woman." "Oh! if you
knew how often I also have braved death on the field of battle, to carry
assistance to our brave men." Then she amused herself with giving some
account of her campaigns. She mentioned those she had assisted, the
provisions which she had provided them, the brandy with which she had
treated them. "Whether they had money or not," said she, "I always let them
have my goods. Sometimes a battle made me lose some of my poor debtors; but
then, after the victory, others paid me double or triple the value of the
provisions which they had consumed before the battle. Thus I had a share in
their victory." The idea of owing her life to Frenchmen, at this moment,
seemed still to add to her happiness. Unfortunate woman! she did not
foresee the dreadful fate that awaited her among us! Let us return to our

After this second check, the fury of the soldiers suddenly abated, and gave
place to extreme cowardice: many of them fell at our feet and asked pardon,
which was instantly granted them. It is here, the place to observe and to
proclaim aloud for the honour of the French army, which has shewn itself as
great, as courageous, under reverses, as formidable in battle, that most of
these wretches were not worthy to wear its uniform. They were the scum of
all countries, the refuse of the prisons, where they had been collected to
make up the force charged with the defence and the protection of the
colony. When, for the sake of health, they were made to bathe in the sea, a
ceremony from which some of them had the modesty to endeavour to excuse
themselves, the whole crew had ocular demonstration that it was not upon
the _breast_ that these heroes wore the insignia of the exploits, which had
led them to serve the state in the Ports of Toulon, Brest or Rochefort.

This is not the moment, and perhaps we are not competent to examine whether
the penalty of branding, as it is re-established in our present code, is
compatible with the true object of all good legislation, that of correcting
while punishing, of striking only as far as is necessary to prevent and
preserve; in short, of producing the greatest good to all with the least
possible evil to individuals. Reason at least seems to demonstrate, and
what has passed before our own eyes authorises us to believe that it is as
dangerous, as inconsistent, to entrust arms for the protection of society,
to the hands of those whom society has itself rejected from its bosom; that
it implies a contradiction to require courage, generosity, and that
devotedness which commands a noble heart to sacrifice itself for its
country and fellow creatures, from wretches branded, degraded by
corruption, in whom every moral energy is destroyed, or eternally
compressed by the weight of the indelible opprobrium which renders them
aliens to their country, which separates them for ever from the rest of

We soon had on board our raft a fresh proof of the impossibility of
depending on the permanence of any honorable sentiment in the hearts of
beings of this description.

Thinking that order was restored, we had returned to our post at the center
of the raft, only we took the precaution to retain our arms. It was nearly
midnight: after an hours apparent tranquillity, the soldiers rose again:
their senses were entirely deranged; they rushed upon us like madmen, with
their knives or sabres in their hands. As they were in full possession of
their bodily strength, and were also armed, we were forced again to put
ourselves on our defence. Their revolt was the more dangerous, as in their
delirium they were entirely deaf to the cries of reason. They attacked us;
we charged them in our turn, and soon the raft was covered with their dead
bodies. Those among our adversaries who had no arms, attempted to tear us
with their teeth; several of us were cruelly bitten; Mr. Savigny was
himself bitten in the legs and the shoulder; he received also a wound with
a knife in his right arm which deprived him, for a long time, of the use of
the fourth and little fingers of that hand; many others were wounded; our
clothes were pierced in many places by knives and sabres. One of our
workmen was also seized by four of the mutineers, who were going to throw
him into the sea. One of them had seized him by the right leg, and was
biting him cruelly in the sinew above the heel. The others were beating him
severely with their sabres and the but end of their carbines; his cries
made us fly to his aid. On this occasion, the brave Lavillette, ex-serjeant
of the artillery on foot, of the old guard, behaved with courage worthy of
the highest praise: we rushed on these desperadoes, after the example of
Mr. Corréard, and soon rescued the workman from the danger which threatened
him. A few moments after, the mutineers, in another charge, seized on the
sub-lieutenant Lozach, whom they took, in their delirium, for Lieutenant
Danglas, of whom we have spoken above, and who had abandoned the raft when
we were on the point of putting off from the frigate. The soldiers, in
general, bore much ill will to this officer, who had seen little service,
and whom they reproached with having treated them harshly while they were
in garrison in the Isle of Rhé. It would have been a favorable opportunity
for them to satiate their rage upon him, and the thirst of vengeance and
destruction which animated them to fancy that they had found him in the
person of Mr. Lozach, they were going to throw him into the sea. In truth,
the soldiers almost equally disliked the latter, who had served only in the
Vendean bands of Saint Pol de Leon. We believed this officer lost, when his
voice being heard, informed us that it was still possible to save him.
Immediately Messrs. Clairet, Savigny, l'Heureux, Lavillette, Coudin,
Corréard, and some workmen, having formed themselves into little parties,
fell upon the insurgents with so much impetuosity that they overthrew all
who opposed them, recovered Mr. Lozach, and brought him back to the center
of the raft.

The preservation of this officer cost us infinite trouble. Every moment the
soldiers demanded that he should be given up to them, always calling him by
the name of Danglas. It was in vain we attempted to make them sensible of
their mistake, and to recal to their memory, that he, whom they demanded,
had returned on board the frigate, as they had themselves seen; their cries
drowned the voice of reason; every thing was in their eyes Danglas; they
saw him every where, they furiously and unceasingly demanded his head, and
it was only by force of arms, that we succeeded in repressing their rage,
and in silencing their frightful cries.

On this occasion we had also reason to be alarmed for the safety of Mr.
Coudin. Wounded and fatigued by the attacks which we had sustained with the
disaffected, and in which he had displayed the most dauntless courage, he
was reposing on a barrel, holding in his arms a sailor boy, of twelve years
of age, to whom he had attached himself. The mutineers seized him with his
barrel, and threw him into the sea with the boy, whom he still held fast;
notwithstanding this burden, he had the presence of mind to catch hold of
the raft, and to save himself from this extreme danger. Dreadful night! thy
gloomy veil covered these cruel combats, instigated by the most terrible

We cannot conceive how a handful of individuals could resist such a
considerable number of madmen. There were, certainly, not more than twenty
of us to resist all these furious wretches. Let it, however, not be
imagined, that we preserved our reason unimpaired amidst all this disorder;
terror, alarm, the most cruel privations had greatly affected our
intellectual faculties; but being a little less deranged than the
unfortunate soldiers, we energetically opposed their determination to cut
the cords of the raft. Let us be allowed to make some reflections on the
various sensations with which we were affected.

The very first day, Mr. Griffon lost his senses so entirely, that he threw
himself into the sea, intending to drown himself. Mr. Savigny saved him
with his own hand. His discourse was vague and unconnected. He threw
himself into the water a second time, but by a kind of instinct he kept
hold of one of the cross pieces of the raft: and was again rescued.

The following is an account of what Mr. Savigny experienced in the
beginning of the night. His eyes closed in spite of himself, and he felt a
general lethargy; in this situation the most agreeable images played before
his fancy; he saw around him, a country covered with fine plantations, and
he found himself in the presence of objects which delighted all his senses;
yet he reasoned on his situation, and felt that courage alone would recover
him from this species of trance; he asked the master gunner of the frigate
for some wine: who procured him a little; and he recovered in a degree from
this state of torpor. If the unfortunate men, when they were attacked by
these first symptoms, had not had resolution to struggle against them,
their death was certain. Some became furious; others threw themselves into
the sea, taking leave of their comrades with great coolness; some said
"Fear nothing, I am going to fetch you assistance: in a short time you will
see me again." In the midst of this general madness, some unfortunate
wretches were seen to rush upon their comrades with their sabres drawn,
demanding the _wing of a chicken_, or _bread_ to appease the hunger which
devoured them; others called for their hammocks, "_to go_," they said,
"_between the decks of the frigate and take some moments' repose_." Many
fancied themselves still on board the Medusa, surrounded with the same
objects which they saw there every day. Some saw ships, and called them to
their assistance, or a harbour, in the back ground of which there was a
magnificent city.

Mr. Corréard fancied he was travelling through the fine plains of Italy;
one of the officers said to him, gravely, "_I remember that we have been
deserted by the boats; but fear nothing; I have just written to the
governor, and in a few hours we shall be saved._" Mr. Corréard replied in
the same tone, and as if he had been in an ordinary situation, "_Have you a
pigeon to carry your orders with as much celerity?_" The cries and the
tumult soon roused us from the state in which we were plunged; but scarcely
was tranquillity restored, when we sunk back into the same species of
trance: so that the next day we seemed to awake from a painful dream, and
asked our companions if, during their sleep, they had seen combats and
heard cries of despair. Some of them replied that they had been continually
disturbed by the same visions, and that they were exhausted with fatigue:
all thought themselves deceived by the illusions of a frightful dream.

When we recal to our minds those terrible scenes, they present themselves
to our imagination like those frightful dreams which sometimes make a
profound impression on us; so that, when we awake, we remember the
different circumstances which rendered our sleep so agitated. All these
horrible events, from which we have escaped by a miracle, appear to us like
a point in our existence: we compare them with the fits of a burning fever,
which has been accompanied by a delirium: a thousand objects appear before
the imagination of the patient: when restored to health, he sometimes
recollects the visions that have tormented him during the fever which
consumed him, and exalted his imagination. We were really seized with a
fever on the brain, the consequence of a mental exaltation carried to the
extreme. As soon as daylight beamed upon us, we were much more calm:
darkness brought with it a renewal of the disorder in our weakened
intellects. We observed in ourselves that the natural terror, inspired by
the cruel situation in which we were, greatly increased in the silence of
the night: then all objects seemed to us much more terrible.

After these different combats, worn out with fatigue, want of food and of
sleep, we endeavoured to take a few moments' repose, at length daylight
came, and disclosed all the horrors of the scene. A great number had, in
their delirium, thrown themselves into the sea: we found that between sixty
and sixty-five men had perished during the night; we calculated that, at
least, a fourth part had drowned themselves in despair. We had lost only
two on our side, neither of whom was an officer. The deepest despondency
was painted on every face; every one, now that he was come to himself, was
sensible of his situation; some of us, shedding tears of despair, bitterly
deplored the rigour of our fate.

We soon discovered a new misfortune; the rebels, during the tumult, had
thrown into the sea two barrels of wine, and the only two casks of water
that we had on the raft.[24] As soon as Mr. Corréard perceived that they
were going to throw the wine into the sea, and that the barrels were almost
entirely made loose, he resolved to place himself on one of them; where he
was continually thrown to and fro by the impulse of the waves; but he did
not let go his hold. His example was followed by some others, who seized
the second cask, and remained some hours at that dangerous post. After much
trouble they had succeeded in saving these two casks; which being every
moment violently driven against their legs had bruised them severely. Being
unable to hold out any longer, they made some representations to those who,
with Mr. Savigny, employed all their efforts to maintain order and preserve
the raft. One of them took his (Mr. Corréard) place; others relieved the
rest: but finding this service too difficult, and being assaulted by the
mutineers, they forsook this post. Then the barrels were thrown into the

Two casks of wine had been consumed the preceding day; we had only one
left, and we were above sixty in number; so that it was necessary to put
ourselves on half allowance.

At daybreak the sea grew calm, which enabled us to put up our mast again;
we then did our utmost to direct our course towards the coast. Whether it
were an illusion or reality we thought we saw it, and that we distinguished
the burning air of the Zaara Desert. It is, in fact, very probable that we
were not very distant from it, for we had had winds from the sea which had
blown violently. In the sequel we spread the sail indifferently to every
wind that blew, so that one day we approached the coast, on the next ran
into the open sea.

As soon as our mast was replaced, we made a distribution of wine; the
unhappy soldiers murmured and accused us for privations, which we bore as
well as they: they fell down with fatigue. For forty-eight hours we had
taken nothing, and had been obliged to struggle incessantly against a
stormy sea; like them we could hardly support ourselves; courage alone
still made us act. We resolved to employ all possible means to procure
fish. We collected all the tags from the soldiers, and made little hooks of
them; we bent a bayonet to catch sharks: all this availed us nothing; the
currents carried our hooks under the raft, where they got entangled. A
shark bit at the bayonet, and straightened it. We gave up our project. But
an extreme resource was necessary to preserve our wretched existence. We
tremble with horror at being obliged to mention that which we made use of!
we feel our pen drop from our hand; a deathlike chill pervades all our
limbs; our hair stands erect on our heads!--Reader, we beseech you, do not
feel indignation towards men who are already too unfortunate; but have
compassion on them, and shed some tears of pity on their unhappy fate.

Those whom death had spared in the disastrous night which we have just
described, fell upon the dead bodies with which the raft was covered, and
cut off pieces, which some instantly devoured. Many did not touch them;
almost all the officers were of this number. Seeing that this horrid
nourishment had given strength to those who had made use of it, it was
proposed to dry it, in order to render it a little less disgusting. Those
who had firmness enough to abstain from it took a larger quantity of wine.
We tried to eat sword-belts and cartouch-boxes. We succeeded in swallowing
some little morsels. Some eat linen. Others pieces of leather from the
hats, on which there was a little grease, or rather dirt. We were obliged
to give up these last means. A sailor attempted to eat excrements, but he
could not succeed.

The day was calm and fine: a ray of hope allayed our uneasiness for a
moment. We still expected to see the boats or some vessels; we addressed
our prayers to the Eternal, and placed our confidence in him. The half of
our men were very weak, and bore on all their features the stamp of
approaching dissolution. The evening passed over, and no assistance came.
The darkness of this third night increased our alarm; but the wind was
slight, and the sea less agitated. We took some moment's repose: a repose
which was still more terrible than our situation the preceding day; cruel
dreams added to the horrors of our situation. Tormented by hunger and
thirst, our plaintive cries sometimes awakened from his sleep, the wretch
who was reposing close to us. We were even now up to our knees in the
water, so that we could only repose standing, pressed against each other to
form a solid mass. The fourth morning's sun, after our departure, at length
rose on our disaster, and shewed us ten or twelve of our companions
extended lifeless on the rail. This sight affected us the more as it
announced to us that our bodies, deprived of existence, would soon be
stretched on the same place. We gave their bodies to the sea for a grave;
reserving only one, destined to feed those who, the day before, had clasped
his trembling hands, vowing him an eternal friendship. This day was fine;
our minds, longing for more agreeable sensations, were harmonized by the
soothing aspect of nature, and admitted a ray of hope. About four in the
afternoon a circumstance occurred which afforded us some consolation: a
shoal of flying fish passed under the raft, and as the extremities left an
infinite number of vacancies between the pieces which composed it, the fish
got entangled in great numbers. We threw ourselves upon them, and caught a
considerable quantity: we took near two hundred and put them in an empty
cask;[25] as we caught them we opened them to take out what is called the
milt. This food seemed delicious to us; but one man would have wanted a
thousand. Our first impulse was to address new thanksgivings to God for
this unexpected benefit.

An ounce of gunpowder had been found in the morning, and dried in the sun,
during the day, which was very fine; a steel, some gun-flints and tinder
were also found in the same parcel. After infinite trouble we succeeded in
setting fire to some pieces of dry linen. We made a large hole in one side
of an empty cask, and placed at the bottom of it several things which we
wetted, and on this kind of scaffolding we made our fire: we placed it on a
barrel that the seawater might not put out our fire. We dressed some fish,
which we devoured with extreme avidity; but our hunger was so great and our
portion of fish so small, that we added to it some human flesh, which
dressing rendered less disgusting; it was this which the officers touched,
for the first time. From this day we continued to use it; but we could not
dress it any more, as we were entirely deprived of the means; our barrel
catching fire we extinguished it without being able to save any thing
whereby to light it again next day. The powder and the tinder were entirely
consumed. This repast gave us all fresh strength to bear new fatigues. The
night was tolerable, and would have appeared happy had it not been
signalised by a new massacre.

Some Spaniards, Italians, and Negroes, who had remained neuter in the first
mutiny, and some of whom had even ranged themselves on our side,[26] formed
a plot to throw us all into the sea, hoping to execute their design by
falling on us by surprise. These wretches suffered themselves to be
persuaded by the negroes, who assured them that the coast was extremely
near, and promised, that when they were once on shore, they would enable
them to traverse Africa without danger. The desire of saving themselves, or
perhaps the wish to seize on the money and valuables, which had been put
into a bag, hung to the mast,[27] had inflamed the imagination of these
unfortunate wretches. We were obliged to take our arms again; but how were
we to discover the guilty? they were pointed out to us, by our sailors, who
remained faithful, and ranged themselves near us; one of them had refused
to engage in the plot. The first signal, for combat, was given by a
Spaniard, who, placing himself behind the mast, laid fast hold of it, made
the sign of the Cross with one hand, invoking the name of God, and held a
knife in the other: the sailors seized him, and threw him into the sea. The
servant of an officer of the troops on board was in the plot. He was an
Italian from the light artillery of the Ex-King of his country. When he
perceived that the plot was discovered, he armed himself with the last
boarding-axe that there was on the raft, wrapped himself in a piece of
drapery, which he wore folded over his breast, and, of his own accord,
threw himself into the sea. The mutineers rushed forward to avenge their
comrades, a terrible combat again ensued, and both sides fought with
desperate fury. Soon the fatal raft was covered with dead bodies, and
flowing with blood which, ought to have been shed in another cause, and by
other hands. In this tumult cries, with which we were familiar, were
renewed, and we heard the imprecations of the horrid rage which demanded
the head of Lieutenant Danglas! Our readers know that we could not satisfy
this mad rage, because the victim, demanded, had fled the dangers to which
we were exposed; but even if this officer had remained among us, we should
most certainly have defended his life at the expence of our own, as we did
that of Lieutenant Lozach. But it was not for him that we were reduced to
exert, against these madmen, all the courage we possessed.

We again replied to the cries of the assailants, that he whom they demanded
was not with us; but we had no more success in persuading them; nothing
could make them recollect themselves; we were obliged to continue to combat
them, and to oppose force to those over whom reason had lost all its
influence. In this confusion the unfortunate woman was, a second time,
thrown into the sea. We perceived it, and Mr. Coudin, assisted by some
workmen, took her up again, to prolong, for a few moments, her torments and
her existence.

In this horrible night, Lavillette gave further proofs of the rarest
intrepidity. It was to him, and to some of those who have escaped the
consequences of our misfortunes, that we are indebted for our safety. At
length, after unheard-of efforts, the mutineers were again repulsed, and
tranquillity restored. After we had escaped this new danger, we endeavoured
to take some moment's repose. The day at length rose on us for the fifth
time. We were now only thirty left; we had lost four or five of our
faithful sailors; those who survived were in the most deplorable state; the
sea-water had almost entirely excoriated our lower extremities; we were
covered with contusions or wounds, which, irritated by the salt-water,
made us utter every moment piercing cries; so that there were not above
twenty of us who were able to stand upright or walk. Almost our whole stock
was exhausted; we had no more wine than was sufficient for four days, and
we had not above a dozen fish left. In four days, said we, we shall be in
want of every thing, and death will be unavoidable. Thus arrived the
seventh day since we had been abandoned; we calculated that, in case the
boats had not stranded on the coast, they would want, at least, three or
four times twenty-four hours to reach St. Louis. Time was further required
to equip ships, and for these ships to find us; we resolved to hold out as
long as possible. In the course of the day, two soldiers slipped behind the
only barrel of wine we had left; they had bored a hole in it, and were
drinking by means of a reed; we had all sworn, that he who should employ
such means should be punished with death. This law was instantly put in
execution, and the two trespassers were thrown into the sea.[28]

This same day terminated the existence of a child, twelve years of age,
named Leon; he died away like a lamp which ceases to burn for want of
aliment. Every thing spoke in favor of this amiable young creature, who
merited a better fate. His angelic countenance, his melodious voice, the
interest inspired by his youth, which was increased by the courage he had
shown, and the services he had performed, for he had already made, in the
preceding year, a campaign in the East Indies, all this filled us with the
tenderest interest for this young victim, devoted to a death so dreadful
and premature. Our old soldiers, and our people in general, bestowed upon
him all the care which they thought calculated to prolong his existence. It
was in vain; his strength, at last, forsook him. Neither the wine, which we
gave him without regret, nor all the means which could be employed, could
rescue him from his sad fate; he expired in the arms of Mr. Coudin, who had
not ceased to shew him the kindest attention. As long as the strength of
this young marine had allowed him to move, he ran continually from one side
to the other, calling, with loud cries, for his unhappy mother, water, and
food. He walked, without discrimination, over the feet and legs of his
companions in misfortune, who, in their turn, uttered cries of anguish,
which were every moment repeated. But their complaints were very seldom
accompanied by menaces; they pardoned every thing in the poor youth, who
had caused them. Besides, he was, in fact, in a state of mental
derangement, and in his uninterrupted alienation he could not be expected
to behave, as if he had still retained some use of reason.

We were now only twenty-seven remaining; of this number but fifteen seemed
likely to live some days: all the rest, covered with large wounds, had
almost entirely lost their reason; yet they had a share in the distribution
of provisions, and might, before their death, consume thirty or forty
bottles of wine, which were of inestimable value to us. We deliberated
thus: to put the sick on half allowance would have been killing them by
inches. So after a debate, at which the most dreadful despair presided, it
was resolved to throw them into the sea. This measure, however repugnant it
was to ourselves, procured the survivors wine for six days; when the
decision was made, who would dare to execute it? The habit of seeing death
ready to pounce upon us as his prey, the certainly of our infallible
destruction, without this fatal expedient, every thing in a word, had
hardened our hearts, and rendered them callous to all feeling except that
of self preservation. Three sailors and a soldier took on themselves this
cruel execution: we turned our faces aside, and wept tears of blood over
the fate of these unhappy men. Among them were the unfortunate woman and
her husband. Both of them had been severely wounded in the various combats:
the woman had a thigh broken between the pieces of wood composing the raft,
and her husband had received a deep wound with a sabre on his head. Every
thing announced their speedy dissolution. We must seek to console
ourselves, by the belief, that our cruel resolution shortened, but for a
few moments only, the measure of their existence.

This French woman, to whom soldiers and Frenchmen gave the sea for a tomb,
had partaken for twenty years in the glorious fatigues of our armies; for
twenty years she had afforded to the brave, on the field of battle, either
the assistance which they needed, or soothing consolations ... It is in the
midst of her friends; it is by the hands of her friends ... Readers, who
shudder at the cry of outraged humanity, recollect at least, that it was
other men, fellow countrymen, comrades, who had placed us in this horrible

This dreadful expedient saved the fifteen who remained; for, when we were
found by the Argus, we had very little wine left, and it was the sixth day
after the cruel sacrifice which we have just described: the victims, we
repeat it, had not above forty-eight hours to live, and by keeping them on
the raft, we should absolutely have been destitute of the means of
existence two days before we were found. Weak as we were, we considered it
as certain that it would have been impossible for us to hold out, even
twenty-four hours, without taking some food. After this catastrophe, which
inspired us with a degree of horror not to be overcome, we threw the arms
into the sea; we reserved, however, one sabre in case it should be wanted
to cut a rope or piece of wood.

After all this, we had scarcely sufficient food on the raft, to last for
the six days, and they were the most wretched immaginable. Our dispositions
had become soured: even in sleep, we figured to ourselves the sad end of
all our unhappy companions, and we loudly invoked death.

A new event, for every thing was an _event_ for wretches for whom the
universe was reduced to a flooring of a few toises in extent, who were the
sport of the winds and waves, as they hung suspended over the abyss; an
event then happened which happily diverted our attention from the horrors
of our situation. All at once a white butterfly, of the species so common
in France, appeared fluttering over our heads, and settled on our sail. The
first idea which, as it were, inspired each of us made us consider this
little animal as the harbinger, which brought us the news of a speedy
approach to land, and we snatched at this hope with a kind of delirium of
joy. But it was the ninth day that we passed upon the raft; the torments of
hunger consumed our entrails; already some of the soldiers and sailors
devoured, with haggard eyes, this wretched prey, and seemed ready to
dispute it with each other. Others considered this butterfly as a messenger
of heaven, declared that they took the poor insect under their protection,
and hindered any injury being done to it. We turned our wishes and our eyes
towards the land, which we so ardently longed for, and which we every
moment fancied we saw rise before us. It is certain that we could not be
far from it: for the butterflies continued, on the following days, to come
and flutter about our sail, and the same day we had another sign equally
positive: for we saw a (_goeland_) flying over our raft. This second
visitor did not allow us to doubt of our being very near to the African
shore, and we persuaded ourselves that we should soon be thrown upon the
coast by the force of the currents. How often did we then, and in the
following days, invoke a tempest to throw us on the coast, which, it seemed
to us, we were on the point of touching.

The hope which had just penetrated the inmost recesses of our souls,
revived our enfeebled strength, and inspired us with an ardour, an
activity, of which we should not have thought ourselves capable. We again
had recourse to all the means which we had before employed, to catch fish.
Above all, we eagerly longed for the (goeland), which appeared several
times tempted to settle on the end of our machine. The impatience of our
desire increased, when we saw several of its companions join it, and keep
following us till our deliverance; but all attempts to draw them to us were
in vain; not one of them suffered itself to be taken by the snares we had
laid for them. Thus our destiny, on the fatal raft, was to be incessantly
tossed between transitory illusions and continued torments, and we never
experienced an agreeable sensation without being, in a manner, condemned to
atone for it, by the anguish of some new suffering, by the irritating pangs
of hope always deceived.

Another care employed us this day; as soon as we were reduced to a small
number, we collected the little strength we had remaining; we loosened some
planks on the front of the raft, and with some pretty long pieces of wood,
raised in the center a kind of platform, on which we reposed: all the
effects which we had been able to collect, were placed upon it, and served
to render it less hard; besides, they hindered the sea from passing with so
much facility through the intervals between the different pieces of the
raft; but the waves came across, and sometimes covered us entirely.

It was on this new theatre that we resolved to await death in a manner
worthy of Frenchmen, and with perfect resignation. The most adroit among
us, to divert our thoughts, and to make the time pass with more rapidity,
got their comrades to relate to us their passed triumphs, and sometimes, to
draw comparisons between the hardships they had undergone in their glorious
campaigns, and the distresses we endured upon our raft. The following is
what Lavillette the serjeant of artillery told us: "I have experienced, in
my various naval campaigns, all the fatigues, all the privations and all
the dangers, which it is possible to meet with at sea, but none of my past
sufferings, is comparable to the extreme pain and privations which I endure
here. In my last campaigns in 1813 and 1814, in Germany and France, I
shared all the fatigues which were alternately caused us by victory and
retreat, I was at the glorious days of Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Leipzig,
Hanau, Montmirail, Champaubert, Montereau," &c. "Yes," continued he, "all
that I suffered in so many forced marches, and in the midst of the
privations which were the consequences of them, was nothing in comparison
with what I endure on this frightful machine. In those days, when the
French valour shewed itself in all its lustre, and always worthy of a free
people, I had hardly anything to fear, but during the battle; but here, I
often have the same dangers, and what is more dreadful, I have to combat
Frenchmen and comrades. I have to contend, besides, with hunger and thirst,
with a tempestuous sea, full of dangerous monsters, and with the ardour of
a burning sun, which is not the least of our enemies. Covered with ancient
scars and fresh wounds, which I have no means of dressing, it is physically
impossible for me to save myself from this extreme danger, if it should be
prolonged for a few days."

The sad remembrance of the critical situation of our country also mingled
with our grief; and certainly, of all the afflictions we experienced, this
was not the least, to us, who had almost all of us left it, only that we
might no longer be witnesses of the hard laws, of the afflicting
dependence, under which, it is bowed down by enemies jealous of our glory
and of our power. These thoughts, we do not fear to say so, and to boast of
it, afflicted us still more than the inevitable death which we were almost
certain of meeting on our raft. Several of us regretted not having fallen
in the defence of France. At least, said they, if it had been possible for
us to measure our strength once more, with the enemies of our independence,
and our liberty! Others found some consolation in the death which awaited
us, because we should no longer have to groan under the shameful yoke which
oppresses the country. Thus passed the last days of our abode on the raft.
Our time was almost wholly employed in speaking of our unhappy country: all
our wishes, our last prayers were for the happiness of France.

During the first days and nights of our being abandoned, the weather was
very cold, but we bore the immersion pretty well; and during the last
nights that we passed on the raft, every time that a wave rolled over us,
it produced a very disagreeable sensation, and made us utter plaintive
cries, so that each of us employed means to avoid it: some raised their
heads, by means of pieces of wood, and made with whatever they could find a
kind of parapet, against which the wave broke: others sheltered themselves
behind empty casks which were placed across, along side each other; but
these means often proved insufficient; it was only when the sea was very
calm that it did not break over us.

A raging thirst, which was redoubled in the daytime by the beams of a
burning sun, consumed us: it was such, that we eagerly moistened our
parched lips with urine, which we cooled in little tin cups. We put the cup
in a place where there was a little water, that the urine might cool the
sooner; it often happened that these cups were stolen from those who had
thus prepared them. The cup was returned, indeed, to him to whom it
belonged, but not till the liquid which it contained was drank. Mr. Savigny
observed that the urine of sum of us was more agreeable than that of
others. There was a passenger who could never prevail on himself to swallow
it: in reality, it had not a disagreeable taste; but in some of us it
became thick, and extraordinarily acrid: it produced an effect truly worthy
of remark: namely, that it was scarcely swallowed, when it excited an
inclination to urine anew. We also tried to quench our thirst by drinking
sea-water. Mr. Griffon, the governor's secretary, used it continually, he
drank ten or twelve glasses in succession. But all these means only
diminished our thirst to render it more severe a moment afterwards.

An officer of the army, found by chance, a little lemon, and it may be
imagined how valuable this fruit must be to him; he, in fact, reserved it
entirely for himself; his comrades, notwithstanding the most pressing
entreaties, could not obtain any of it; already emotions of rage were
rising in every heart, and if he had not partly yielded to those who
surrounded him, they would certainly have taken it from him by force, and
he would have perished, the victim of his selfishness. We also disputed for
about thirty cloves of garlic, which had been found accidentally in a
little bag: all these disputes were generally accompanied with violent
threats, and if they had been protracted we should, perhaps, have come to
the last extremities.

We had found, also, two little phials which contained a spirituous liquor
to clean the teeth; he who possessed them, kept them carefully, and made
many difficulties to give one or two drops of this liquid in the hollow of
the hand. This liquor, which we believe was an essence of guiacum,
cinnamon, cloves, and other aromatic substances, produced on our tongues a
delightful sensation, and removed for a few moments the thirst which
consumed us. Some of us found pieces of pewter, which, being put into the
mouth produced a kind of coolness.

One of the means generally employed, was to put some sea-water into a hat,
with which we washed our faces for some time, recurring to it at intervals;
we also moistened our hair with it, and held our hands plunged in the
water.[29] Misfortune rendered us ingenious, and every one thought of a
thousand means to alleviate his sufferings; extenuated by the most cruel
privations, the smallest agreeable sensation was to us a supreme happiness;
thus we eagerly sought a little empty phial, which one of us possessed, and
which had formerly contained essence of roses: as soon as we could get hold
of it we inhaled, with delight, the perfume which issued from it, and which
communicated to our senses the most soothing impressions. Some of us
reserved our portion of wine in little tin cups, and sucked up the wine
with a quill; this manner of taking it was very beneficial to us, and
quenched our thirst much more than if we had drunk it off at once. Even the
smell of this liquor was extremely agreeable to us. Mr. Savigny observed
that many of us, after having taken their small portion, fell into a state
approaching to intoxication, and that there was always more discord among
us after the distribution had been made.

The following is one instance, among many, which we could adduce. The tenth
day of our being on the raft, after a distribution of wine, Messrs.
Clairet, Coudin, Charlot, and one or two of our sailors, conceived the
strange idea of destroying themselves, first intoxicating themselves with
what remained in our barrel. In vain Captain Dupont, seconded by Messrs.
Lavillette, Savigny, Lheureux, and all the others, opposed their purpose by
urgent remonstrances, and by all the firmness of which they were
capable--their disordered brains persisted in the mad idea which governed
them, and a new combat was on the point of commencing; however, after
infinite trouble, we were beginning to bring back Messrs. Clairet and
Coudin to the use of their reason; or rather he who watched over us
dispelled this fatal quarrel, by turning our attention to the new danger
which threatened us, at the moment when cruel discord was, perhaps, about
to break out among wretches already a prey to so many other evils--it was a
number of sharks which came and surrounded our raft. They approached so
near, that we were able to strike them with our sabre, but we could not
subdue one of them, notwithstanding the goodness of the weapon we
possessed, and the ardour with which the brave Lavillette made use of it.
The blows which he struck these monsters, made them replunge into the sea;
but a few seconds after, they re-appeared upon the surface, and did not
seem at all alarmed at our presence. Their backs rose about 30 centimetres
above the water: several of them appeared to us to be at least 10 metres in

Three days passed in inexpressible anguish; we despised life to such a
degree that many of us did not fear to bathe in sight of the sharks which
surrounded our raft; others placed themselves naked on the front part of
our machine which was still submerged: these means diminished, a little,
their burning thirst. A kind of polypus (mollusques),[30] known by seamen
under the name of _galère_, was frequently driven in great numbers on our
raft, and when their long arms clung to our naked bodies, they caused us
the most cruel sufferings. Will it be believed, that amidst these dreadful
scenes, struggling with inevitable death, some of us indulged in
pleasantries which excited a smile, notwithstanding the horror of our
situation? One, among others said, joking, "_If the brig is sent to look
for us, let us pray to God that she may have the eyes of Argus_," alluding
to the name of the vessel, which we presumed would be sent after us. This
consolatory idea did not quit us an instant, and we spoke of it frequently.

During the day of the 16th, reckoning ourselves to be very near land, eight
of the most determined of us, resolved to try to reach the coast: we
unfastened a strong fish of a mast,[31] which made part of the little
parapet of which we have spoken, we fixed boards to it at intervals,
transversely, by means of great nails, to hinder it from upsetting; a
little mast and sail were fixed in the front; we intended to provide
ourselves with oars made of barrel staves, cut out with the only sabre we
had remaining: we cut pieces of rope, we split them, and made smaller
ropes, that were more easy to manage: a hammock cloth, which was by chance
on the raft, served for a sail; the dimensions of which, might be about 130
centimetres in breadth and 160 in length: the transverse diameter of the
fish was 60 or 70 centimetres, and its length about 12 metres. A certain
portion of wine was assigned to us, and our departure fixed for the next
day, the 17th. When our machine was finished, it remained to make a trial
of it: a sailor wanting to pass from the front to the back of it, finding
the mast in his way, set his foot on one of the cross boards; the weight of
his body made it upset, and this accident proved to us the temerity of our
enterprise. It was then resolved that we should all await death in our
present situation; the cable winch fastened the machine to our raft, was
made loose, and it drifted away. It is very certain that if we had ventured
upon this second raft, weak as we were, we should not have been able to
hold out six hours, with our legs in the water, and thus obliged
continually to row.

Mean time the night came, and its gloomy shades revived in our minds the
most afflicting thoughts; we were convinced that there were not above
twelve or fifteen bottles of wine left in our barrel. We began to feel an
invincible disgust at the flesh which had till then, scarcely supported us;
and we may say that the sight of it inspired us with a sentiment of terror,
which was doubtless produced by the idea of approaching destruction.

On the 17th, in the morning, the sun appeared entirely free from clouds;
after having put up our prayers to the Almighty, we divided among us, a
part of our wine; every one was taking with delight his small portion, when
a captain of infantry looking towards the horizon, descried a ship, and
announced it to us by an exclamation of joy: we perceived that it was a
brig; but it was at a very great distance; we could distinguish only the
tops of the masts. The sight of this vessel excited in us a transport of
joy which it would be difficult to describe; each of us believed his
deliverance certain, and we gave a thousand thanks to God; yet, fears
mingled with our hopes: we straitened some hoops of casks, to the end of
which we tied handkerchiefs of different colours. A man, assisted by us all
together, mounted to the top of the mast and waved these little flags.

For above half an hour, we were suspended between hope and fear; some
thought they saw the ship become larger, and others affirmed that its
course carried it from us: these latter were the only ones whose eyes were
not fascinated by hope, for the brig disappeared. From the delirium of joy,
we fell into profound despondency and grief; we envied the fate of those
whom we had seen perish at our side, and we said to ourselves, when we
shall be destitute of every thing, and our strength begins to forsake us,
we will wrap ourselves up as well as we can, we will lay ourselves down on
this platform, the scene of so many sufferings, and there we will await
death with resignation. At last, to calm our despair, we wished to seek
some consolation in the arms of sleep; the day before we had been consumed
by the fire of a burning sun; this day, to avoid the fierceness of his
beams, we made a tent with the sails of the frigate: as soon as it was put
up, we all lay down under it, so that we could not perceive what was
passing around us. We then proposed to inscribe upon a board an account of
our adventures, to write all our names at the bottom of the narrative, and
to fasten it to the upper part of the mast, in the hope that it would reach
the government and our families.

After we had passed two hours, absorbed in the most cruel reflections, the
master gunner of the frigate wishing to go to the front of the raft, went
out of our tent; scarcely had he put his head out, when he turned towards
us, uttering a loud cry; joy was painted on his countenance, his hands were
stretched towards the sea, he scarcely breathed: all that he could say,
was, "_Saved! see the brig close upon us_." And in fact, it was, at the
most, half a league distant, carrying a press of sail, and steering so as
to come extremely close to us; we precipitately left the tent: even those
whom enormous wounds, in the lower extremities, had confined for some days
past, always to lie down, crawled to the back part of the raft, to enjoy
the sight of this vessel, which was coming to deliver us from certain
death. We all embraced each other with transports that looked like
delirium, and tears of joy rolled down our cheeks, shrunk by the most cruel
privations. Every one seized handkerchiefs, or pieces of linen to make
signals to the brig, which was approaching rapidly. Others prostrating
themselves, fervently thanked Providence for our miraculous preservation.
Our joy redoubled when we perceived a great white flag at the foremast
head, and we exclaimed "It is then to Frenchmen that we shall owe our
deliverance." We almost immediately recognised the brig to be the Argus: it
was then within two musket shot: we were extremely impatient to see her
clue up her sails; she lowered them at length, and fresh cries of joy rose
from our raft. The Argus came and lay-to on our starboard, within half a
pistol shot. The crew, ranged on the deck and in the shrouds, shewed, by
waving their hats and handkerchiefs, the pleasure they felt at coming to
the assistance of their unhappy countrymen. A boat was immediately hoisted
out; an officer belonging to the brig, whose name was Mr. Lemaigre, had
embarked in it, in order to have the pleasure of taking us himself from
this fatal machine. This officer, full of humanity and zeal, acquitted
himself of his mission in the kindest manner, and took himself, those that
were the weakest, to convey them into the boat. After all the others were
placed in it, Mr. Lemaigre came and took in his arms Mr. Corréard, whose
health was the worst, and who was the most excoriated: he placed him at his
side in the boat, bestowed on him all imaginable cares, and spoke to him in
the most consoling terms.

In a short time we were all removed on board the Argus, where we met with
the lieutenant of the frigate, and some others of those who had been
shipwrecked. Pity was painted on every face, and compassion drew tears from
all who cast their eyes on us.

Let the reader imagine fifteen unfortunate men, almost naked; their bodies
and faces disfigured by the scorching beams of the sun; ten of the fifteen
were hardly able to move; our limbs were excoriated, our sufferings were
deeply imprinted on our features, our eyes were hollow, and almost wild,
and our long beards rendered our appearance still more frightful; we were
but the shadows of ourselves. We found on board the brig some very good
broth, which had been got ready; as soon as they perceived us, they added
some excellent wine to it; thus they restored our almost exhausted
strength; they bestowed on us the most generous care and attention; our
wounds were dressed, and the next day several of our sick began to recover;
however, some of us had a great deal to suffer; for they were placed
between decks, very near the kitchen, which augmented the almost
insupportable heat of these countries; the want of room in a small vessel,
was the cause of this inconvenience. The number of the shipwrecked was
indeed too great. Those who did not belong to the marine, were laid upon
cables, wrapped in some flags, and placed under the kitchen fire, which
exposed them to perish in the night; fire having broken out between decks,
about ten o'clock, which had like to have reduced the vessel to ashes; but
timely assistance was afforded, and we were saved for the second time. We
had scarcely escaped when some of us again become delirious: an officer of
the army wanted to throw himself into the sea, to go and look for his
pocket book; which he would have done had he not been prevented; others
were seized in a manner equally striking.

The commander and officers of the brig were eager to serve us, and kindly
anticipated our wants. They had just snatched us from death, by rescuing us
from our raft; their reiterated care rekindled in us the flame of life. Mr.
Renaud, the surgeon, distinguished himself by indefatigable zeal; he passed
the whole day in dressing our wounds; and during the two days that we
remained on board the brig, he exerted all the resources of his art, with a
degree of attention and gentleness which merit our eternal gratitude.

It was, in truth, time that our sufferings should have an end: they had
already lasted thirteen days; the strongest among us might, at the most,
have lived forty-eight hours more. Mr. Corréard, felt that he must die in
the course of the day; yet he had a foreboding that we should be saved; he
said that a series of events so extraordinary was not destined to be buried
in oblivion: that providence would preserve some of us at least, to present
to mankind the affecting picture of our unhappy adventures.

Through how many terrible trials have we past! Where are the men who can
say that they have been more unfortunate than we have?

The manner in which we were saved is truly miraculous: the finger of heaven
is conspicuous in this event.

The Argus had been dispatched, from Senegal, to assist the shipwrecked
people belonging to the boats, and to look for the raft; for several days
it sailed along the coast without meeting us, and gave provisions to the
people from the boats who were crossing the great desert of Zaara; the
captain, thinking that it would be useless to look for our raft any longer,
steered his course towards the harbour from which he had been dispatched,
in order to announce that his search had been fruitless; it was when he was
running towards Senegal that we perceived him. In the morning he was not
above forty leagues from the mouth of the river, when the wind veered to
the South West; the captain, as by a kind of inspiration, said that they
ought to go about, the winds blew towards the frigate; after they had run
two hours on this tack, the man at the mast head, announced a vessel: when
the brig was nearer to us, by the aid of glasses, they perceived that it
was our raft. When we were taken up by the Argus, we asked this question:
Gentlemen have you been long looking for us? We were answered yes; but
that, however, the captain had not received any positive orders on the
subject; and that we were indebted to chance alone, for the good fortune of
having been met with. We repeat with pleasure the expression of Mr.
Parnajon, addressed to one of us. "If they were to give me the rank of
captain of a frigate, I should feel a less lively pleasure, than that which
I experienced when I met your raft." Some persons said to us without
reserve, "We thought you were all dead a week ago." We say that the
commander of the brig had not received positive orders to look for us. The
following were his instructions: "Mr. de Parnajon, commanding the brig
Argus, will proceed to the side of the desert with his vessel, will employ
every means to assist the shipwrecked persons, who must have reached the
coast; and will supply them with such provisions and ammunition as they may
want; after having assured himself of the fate of these unfortunate
persons, he will endeavour to continue his course to the Medusa, to see
whether the currents have carried the raft towards her." This is all that
was said of our wretched machine. It is very certain, that, at the Island
of St. Louis, we were given up; our friends believed we had perished: this
is so true, that some, who were going to send letters to Europe, wrote that
one hundred and fifty unfortunate people had been placed on a raft, and
that it was impossible they should have escaped. It will not, perhaps, be
out of place, to mention here a conversation which took place respecting
us. In a pretty large company, some persons said: "It is a pity that the
raft was abandoned; for there were many brave fellows on board; but their
sufferings are over; they are happier than we, for who knows how all this
will end." In short, as we were now found, the frigate steered again for
Senegal, and the next day we saw the land, for which we had been longing
for thirteen days: we cast anchor in the evening off the coast, and in the
morning, the winds being favorable, we directed our course to the road of
St. Louis, where we cast anchor on the 19th of July, about three o'clock in
the afternoon.

Such is the faithful history of one hundred and fifty persons, who were
left upon the raft; only fifteen of whom were saved; and five of that
number were so reduced, that they died of fatigue, shortly after arriving
at St. Louis; those who still exist are covered with scars, and the cruel
sufferings which they have endured have greatly impaired their

In terminating this recital of the unparalelled sufferings, to which we
were a prey for thirteen days, we beg leave to name those who shared them
with us:

_Alive when we were saved._              _Notice of their subsequent fate_.
Dupont, Captain of Foot;                  In Senegal.
L'Heureux, Lieutenant;                    In Senegal.
Lozach, Sub-Lieutenant;                   Dead.
Clairet, Sub-Lieutenant;                  Dead.
Griffon du Bellay, Ex-Clerk of the Navy;  Out of employment.
Coudin, _élève de marine_;                Midshipman.
Charlot, Serjeant Major (of Toulon);      In Senegal.
Courtade, Master Gunner;                  Dead.
Lavillette.                               In France.
Coste, Sailor;                            In France.
Thomas, Pilot;                            In France.
François, Hospital Keeper;                In the Indies.
Jean Charles, black Soldier;              Dead.
Corréard, Engineer Geographer;            Without employment.
Savigny, Surgeon.                         Resigned.

The governor having been apprised of our arrival, sent a large-decked
vessel to convey us ashore. This vessel also brought us wine and some
refreshments; the master, thinking the tide sufficiently high to enable him
to pass the bar of sand, which lies at the mouth of the river, resolved to
land us at once upon the island. Those who were the most feeble among us,
were placed below deck, together with a few of the least skilful of the
negroes, who composed the crew, and the hatches closed upon us, to prevent
the sea from coming in between decks, while the dangers occasioned by the
surf running over the bar, was passed. The wretched condition to which we
were reduced, was such as to awaken a feeling of sympathy, even among the
blacks, who shed tears of compassion for our misfortunes; during this time,
the most profound silence reigned on board; the voice of the master alone
was heard; as soon as we were out of danger, the negroes recommenced their
songs, which did not cease till we arrived at St. Louis.

We were received in the most brilliant manner; the governor, several
officers, both English and French, came to meet us, and one of the officers
in this numerous train, held out to us a hand, which a fortnight before,
had, as it were, plunged us in the depth of despair by loosening the
tow-rope which made our raft fast to the boat. But such is the effect
produced by the sight of wretches who have just been miraculously
delivered, that there was not a single person, either English or French,
who did not shed tears of compassion on seeing the deplorable condition to
which we were reduced; all seemed truly affected by our distress, and by
the intrepidity which we had shewn on the raft. Yet we could not contain
our indignation, at the sight of some persons in this train.

Some of us were received by two French merchants, who bestowed on us every
attention, and rendered every assistance in their power. Messrs. Valentin
and Lasalle stimulated by that natural impulse which incites man to assist
a fellow creature in distress, is, on that account, entitled to the highest
praise. We are extremely sorry to say that they were the only colonists who
gave assistance to the shipwrecked people belonging to the raft.

Before we proceed to the second part of our work, in which we shall include
the history of the Camp of Daccard and of the unfortunate persons
shipwrecked in the Medusa, who remained in the hospitals of St. Louis, let
us cast our eyes back, and examine what were the operations of the boats
after the tow-lines had been loosened, and the raft abandoned.

The long-boat was the last which we lost sight of. It descried the land and
the Isles of Arguin, the same evening before sun-set: the other boats must,
therefore, necessarily, have seen it some time before, which proves, we
think, that when we were abandoned, we were at a very small distance from
the coast. Two boats succeeded in reaching Senegal without accident; they
were those in; which were the governor and the commander of the frigate.
During the bad weather, which forced the other boats to make the land,
these two had a great deal of difficulty to resist a heavy sea and an
extremely high wind. Two young seamen gave proofs of courage and coolness
in these critical moments, in the barge. Mr. Barbotin, _élève_ of the
marine: and in the captain's barge, Mr. Rang,[32] also an _élève_ of the
marine, as deserving of praise for his knowledge, as for the courage he
displayed on this occasion; both of them, as long as the bad weather
lasted, remained at the helm, and guided the boats. One Thomas, steersman,
and one Lange, the boatswain's mate, also shewed great courage, and all the
experience of old seamen. These two boats, reached the _Echo_ corvette, on
the 9th, at 10 o'clock in the evening, which had been at anchor for some
days, in the road of St. Louis. A council was held, and the most prompt and
certain measures adopted to assist those who were left on board the boats
and the raft.

The Argus brig was appointed for this mission. The commander of this
vessel, burning with eagerness to fly to the assistance of his unfortunate
countrymen, wanted to set sail that very moment; but causes, respecting
which we shall be silent, fettered his zeal; however, this distinguished
officer executed the orders which he received with uncommon activity.

Let us return to the history of the four other boats; and first, that of
the principal, which was the long-boat. As soon as it descried the land, it
tacked and stood out in the open sea; because it was on the shallows, and
it would have been imprudent to pass the night in one metre, or one metre
30 centimetres of water; it had already grounded two or three times. On the
6th, about four o'clock in the morning, finding itself too far from the
coast, and the sea very hollow, it tacked, and in a few hours saw the coast
for the second time. At eight o'clock, they were extremely near, and the
men ardently desiring to get on shore, sixty-three of the most resolute
were landed; arms were given them, and as much biscuit as could be spared;
they set out in search of Senegal, following the sea-coast. This landing
was effected to the North of Cape Meric, eighty or ninety leagues from the
Isle of St. Louis.[B7] This vessel then stood out to sea. We will leave,
for the present, these sixty-three poor people who have been landed on the
sands of Cape Meric; and shall return to them in the sequel.

We will now proceed to describe the motions and fate of the other vessels.
At noon, after having proceeded some miles, the long-boat saw the other
vessels, and endeavoured to fall in with them; but every one distrusted the
other: the long-boat did its utmost to rally them; but they employed all
the means they could to avoid the meeting; even the officers assisted in
working them, because some persons had asserted that the crew of the
long-boat had mutinied, and had even threatened to fire on the other
boats.[33] The long-boat, on the other hand, which had just landed a part
of its people, advanced to inform the other boats that it was able to
relieve them, in case they were too much loaded. The captain's boat and the
_pirogue_, were the only ones that came within hail: at five o'clock in the
afternoon the sea became hollow, and the wind very high, when the pirogue,
unable to hold out against it, asked the assistance of the long-boat, which
tacked and took on board the fifteen persons which that frail boat
contained. At two o'clock in the afternoon, of the 8th,[B8] the men,
tormented by a burning thirst, and a violent hunger which they could not
appease, obliged the officer, by their reiterated importunities, to make
the land, which was done the same evening. His intention was to proceed to
Senegal: he would doubtless have succeeded; but the cries of the soldiers
and sailors, who murmured loudly, induced the measure that was taken, and
the crew landed about forty leagues from the Island of St. Louis. The
great-boat, which had approached very near the coast, and had not been able
to resist the violence of the weather, being besides, destitute of
provisions, had also been obliged to make the land on the 8th: the first,
at five in the afternoon; the second, at eleven in the morning.[B9] The
officers joined their crews, ranged them in order, and proceeded towards
Senegal; but they were in distress, destitute of resources of every kind:
without a guide, on a coast inhabited by barbarians: hunger and thirst
cruelly tormented them; the beams of a scorching sun, reflected from the
immense sandy plains, aggravated their sufferings. In the day, oppressed by
excessive heat, they could scarcely move a step: it was only in the cool of
the morning and the evening, that they could pursue their painful march.
Having, after infinite pains, crossed the downs, they met with vast plains,
where they had the good fortune to find water, by digging holes in the
sand: this refreshing beverage gave them fresh life and hope.

This manner of procuring water is mentioned by many travellers, and
practised in various countries. All along the coasts of Senegambia, and for
some distance in land, they find, by digging in the sand to the depth of
five or six feet, a white and brackish water, which is exclusively used in
these countries, both for the ordinary beverage and domestic purposes; the
water of the Senegal, may, however, be used at St. Louis at the time of the
rise or inundation.

The Moors have signs, which they have agreed upon among themselves, to
inform each other at a distance when they have found water. As the sands of
the desert lie in undulations, and the surface of these plains has the
appearance of a sea, broken in large waves, which, by some sudden
enchantment, had been fixed and suspended before they could fall back; it
is on the ridges of these motionless waves, that the Moors in general
travel, unless they run in a direction too different from that of their
intended route, in which case they are obliged to traverse them; but
besides, as these ridges themselves are not always ranged parallel to each
other, but frequently cross each other, the Moors always have some of their
party before, to serve as guides, and to point out by signs with their
hands, at every crossing, on which side they ought to go; and also every
thing which prudence requires they should know before hand, as well as the
water, or rather the moisture and verdure which are to be perceived. In
general, these people who approach the sea-coast during the winds and
hurricanes of the summer solstice, rarely keep on the breach properly so
called, because they and their cattle are too much tormented by myriads of
flies which never quit the sea-coast. In this same season the appearance of
the gnats, or mosquitoes, induces them to remove from the Senegal, for
their cattle being incessantly stung by these animals, become mad and sick.

Our people met with some of these Moors, and in some measure forced them to
serve as guides; after continuing their march along the sea-coast, they
perceived on the morning of the 11th, the Argus brig, which was cruising to
assist those who had landed; as soon as the brig perceived them, it
approached very near to the coast, lay-to, and sent a boat on shore with
biscuit and wine.

On the 11th, in the evening, they met with more of the natives, and an
Irish captain of a merchant ship, who, of his own accord, had come from St.
Louis with the intention of assisting the sufferers: he spoke the language
of the country, and had put on the same dress as the Moors. We are sorry
that we cannot recollect the name of this foreign officer, which we should
take particular pleasure in publishing; but since time has effaced it from
our memory, we will at least publish his zeal and noble efforts, which are
an unquestionable title to the gratitude of every man of feeling. At last,
after the most cruel sufferings and privations, the unfortunate men who
composed the crews of the great-boat, and of that which we called the
Senegal boat, twenty-five men from the long-boat, and fifteen persons from
the pirogue, arrived at Saint Louis, on the 13th of July, at seven o'clock
in the evening, after having wandered above five whole days, in the midst
of these frightful deserts, which on all sides presented to their eyes only
the most profound solitude, and the prospect of inevitable destruction.

During their progress, they had to struggle with the most dreadful extremes
of hunger and thirst; the latter was such, that the first time that several
of them discovered water in the desert, such selfishness was manifested
that those who had found these beneficent springs, knelt down four or five
together, near the hole which they had just dug, and there, with their eyes
fixed on the water, made signs to their comrades not to approach them; that
they had found the springs, and that they alone had a right to drink at
them; it was not till after the most urgent supplications that they granted
a little water to their wretched companions, who were consumed by a raging
thirst. When they met with any Moors, they obtained some assistance from
them; but these barbarians carried their inhumanity so far as to refuse to
shew them the springs which are scattered along the shore: sordid avarice
made them act in this manner to these unhappy people; for when the latter
had passed a well, the Moors drew water from it, which they sold to them at
a gourd for a glass; they exacted the same price for a small handful of
millet. When the brig approached the coast, to assist these unfortunate
men, a great many of the natives of the country immediately crowned the
heights; their number was so great, that it caused some fear in the French,
who immediately formed, in order of battle, under the command of a captain
of infantry. Two officers went to ask the chiefs of the Moors what were
their intentions? whether they desired peace or war? They gave the officers
to understand that far from wishing to act as enemies, they were willing to
afford the shipwrecked people all the assistance in their power; but these
barbarians shewed, on all occasions, a perfidiousness which is peculiar to
the inhabitants of these climates; when the brig had sent biscuit on shore,
they seized the half of it, and a few moments after, sold it at an
exorbitant price, to those from whom they had stolen it. If they met with
any soldiers or sailors who had had the imprudence to stray from the main
body, they stripped them entirely, and then ill treated them; it was only
numbers united, which, inspiring them with fear, that did not receive any
insult from them; besides, there exists between the chiefs of these tribes
and the government of the Isle of St. Louis, a treaty, in which it is
stipulated that a large reward shall be given to the Moors, who meet in the
desert with persons that have been shipwrecked, and bring them to the
European factory: these barbarians were therefore induced by their
interest, and if they brought back those who went astray, it was only in
hope of obtaining a reward.

The women and young children inspired the greatest pity. These feeble
beings could not put their delicate feet on the burning sands, and were
besides incapable of walking for any length of time. The officers
themselves assisted the children, and carried them in turn: their example
induced others to imitate them; but having met with some Moors, who never
travel in these deserts without having their camels and their asses with
them, all that were not able to walk, mounted these animals: to obtain this
indulgence, it was necessary to pay two gourds for a day; so that it was
impossible for Mr. Picard, who had a numerous family, to bear so great an
expence: his respectable young ladies were therefore obliged to walk.

One day at noon, which was the hour for halting, the eldest of these young
ladies, exhausted with fatigue, withdrew to a solitary place to take some
moments rest. She fell asleep upon the beach; to guard herself from the
mosquitoes, she had covered her breast and face with a large shawl. While
every body was sleeping, one of the Moors who served as guides, either from
curiosity, or some other motive, approached her softly, attentively
examined her appearance, and not content with this, lifting up the shawl,
looked at her with fixed eyes, remained for a few moments like one
profoundly astonished, approached her then very near, but did not venture
to touch her. After having looked at her for some time, he let fall the
veil, and returned to his place, where he joyfully related to his comrades
what he had just seen. Several Frenchmen who had perceived the Moor,
informed Mr. Picard, who resolved, on the obliging offers of the officers,
to dress these ladies in a military dress, which, for the future, prevented
all attempts of the inhabitants of the desert.

Before they arrived at the Senegal, the Irish officer, of whom we have
already spoken, bought an ox: it was immediately killed; they collected
such combustibles as they could find, and when the animal was divided into
as many portions as there were persons, each fixed his portion to the end
of his sabre or bayonet, and thus they prepared a repast which they found

During the whole time they remained in the desert, biscuit, wine and
brandy, in very small quantities, had been their principal nourishment;
sometimes they procured by money, from the Moors, milk and millet; but what
most distressed them was, that in the midst of these sandy plains, it was
absolutely impossible for them to shelter themselves from the rays of a
burning sun, which inflames the atmosphere of these desert regions.
Scorched by insupportable heat, almost destitute of the first necessaries
of life, some of them partly lost their senses; a spirit of mutiny even
shewed itself for some moments, and two officers, whose conduct is,
however, irreproachable, were marked as the first victims: happily they did
not proceed to open violence. Many of those who crossed the desert, have
assured us that there were moments when they were quite beside themselves.

An officer of the army in particular, gave signs of the most violent
despair; he rolled himself in the sand, begging his comrades to kill him,
because he could no longer bear up against so many sufferings. They
succeeded in calming him; he arrived at St. Louis with the caravan.[B10]

The sixty-three who embarked near the Moles of Angel, had a longer series
of fatigue to endure: they had to go between eighty and ninety leagues, in
the immense desert of Zaara. After their landing, they had to cross downs
that were extremely elevated, in order to reach the plain, in which they
had the good fortune to meet with a vast pond of fresh water, where they
quenched their thirst, and near which they lay down to rest. Having met
with some Moors, they took them for guides, and after long marches, and the
most cruel privations, they arrived at the Senegal, on the 23d of July, in
the evening. Some of them perished for want: among this number was an
unhappy gardener, and the wife of a soldier: this poor woman, exhausted
with fatigue, told her husband to abandon her, for, that it was impossible
for her to proceed; the soldier in despair, said to her in a rage: "well,
since you cannot walk, to hinder you from being devoured alive by wild
beasts, or carried into captivity among the Moors, I will run you through
the body with my sabre;" he did not execute this threat, which he had
probably conceived in a moment of despair; but the poor woman fell, and
died under the most cruel sufferings.

Some persons having strayed from the main body, were taken by the natives
of the country, and carried into the camp of the Moors; an officer remained
above a month with them, and was afterwards brought to the Isle of St.
Louis. The naturalist, Kummer, and Mr. Rogery, having separated from the
troops, were forced to wander from one horde to another, and were at last
conducted to Senegal. Their story, which we are now going to give, will
complete the narrative of the adventures of our shipwrecked companions who
traversed the desert.

After the stranding of the long-boat, Mr. Kummer quitted the caravan,
formed by the persons wrecked, and proceeded in an easterly direction, in
the hope of meeting with some Moors, who would give him food, to appease
the hunger and thirst which he had endured for two days. Shortly after his
departure, Mr. Rogery took the same resolution as our naturalist, and
followed a route parallel to that taken by Mr. Kummer. This latter walked
the whole day without meeting with any body; towards the evening he
perceived, at a distance, some fires on the heights which generally lie
round the ponds. This sight filled him with joy, and with hopes of meeting,
at length, with some Moors who would conduct him to the Isle of St. Louis,
and give him food of which he was much in need; he advanced with a firm and
rapid step, went up to the Moors, who were under their tents, with much
assurance, pronouncing as well as he could, a few words in Arabic, in which
language he had taken some lessons while in France, and which he
accompanied with profound salutations: "Receive," said he, "in your tents,
the son of an unfortunate Mahometan woman, whom I am going to join in Upper
Egypt; a shipwreck has thrown me on your coast, and I come in the name of
the great prophet, to ask you for hospitality and assistance." At the name
of the great prophet, Mr. Kummer bowed his face to the earth, and made the
customary salutation: the Moors did the same, and doubted not but that they
saw, before them, a follower of Mahomet.

They received him with joy, asked him to enter their tents, and to give a
short account of his adventures. Milk, and flour of millet, were given him,
and this food revived his strength. Then the Moors made him promise to
conduct them to the place where the long-boat had stranded; they hoped to
get possessions of the numerous effects, which they supposed the persons
shipwrecked to have abandoned on the shore. Having made this promise, Mr.
Kummer went to examine the tents, and the flocks of the chief of this tribe
who conducted him himself, and boasted of his wealth and his dignity: he
told him that he was the Prince Fune Fahdime Muhammed, son of Liralie
Zaide, King of the Moors, called Trazas, and that, when he returned from
the sea coast, he would take him to the King, his father, and that he would
see there, his numerous slaves, and his innumerable flocks. While they were
walking about the camp, Prince Muhammed perceived that Mr. Kummer had a
watch: he desired to see it; of course, he could not refuse to shew it; the
prince took it, and told Mr. Kummer that he would return it him when they
should arrive at Andar, which promise he punctually performed. They arrived
at last at the head of the flock, and our naturalist was astonished at the
extraordinary care which these people take of their beasts. The horses and
camels were in a separate place, and the whole flock was on the border of a
large salt pond; behind them, the slaves had formed a line of fires of
great extent, to drive away the mosquitoes and other insects, which torment
these animals: they were all remarkably beautiful. While traversing, with
the chief, the various quarters of the camp, Mr. Kummer beheld with
surprise, their manner of cleaning their beasts. Upon an order of the
Prince, the men, charged with this employment, take the strongest oxen by
the horns, and throw them down on the sand with astonishing ease; the
slaves then take the animal, and clear its whole body from the insects,
which, notwithstanding the fires that surround the flocks, get among the
hair of the cattle, which they torment cruelly. After this first operation,
they are washed with care, particularly the cows, which are then milked.
These various operations generally employ the slaves, and even the masters,
till eleven o'clock at night. Mr. Kummer was afterwards invited to repose
in the Prince's tent; but before, he could go to sleep, he was assailed
with a multitude of questions. The history of the French Revolution has
penetrated to these people; and they put questions to our naturalist which
surprised him much; they afterwards asked him why our vessels no longer
came to Portendick and the Isles of Arguin; after this, they allowed him to
take a few moments' repose; but the poor Toubabe, (the name which the Moors
give to the whites) did not dare to indulge himself in sleep; he feared the
perfidy of the Moors, and their rapacious spirit; however, exhausted by
three days incessant fatigue, he fell asleep for a few moments; he had but
a very disturbed slumber; during which, the barbarians took away his purse,
which still contained thirty pieces of 20 francs each, his cravat, pocket
handkerchief, great-coat, shoes, waistcoat, and some other things which he
carried in his pockets: he had nothing left but a bad pair of pantaloons
and a hunting jacket; his shoes were, however, returned to him.

The next morning, at sun-rise, the Moors made their salam, (a Mahometan
prayer): then about eight o'clock, the Prince, four of his subjects, Mr.
Kummer, and a slave, set out for the sea-coast, in order to look for the
wreck of the long-boat. They proceeded first towards the _South_, then to
the _West_, then to the _North_, which made Mr. Kummer imagine that they
were conducting him to Morocco. The Moors have no other method of finding
their way, than to go from one eminence to another, which obliges them to
take all sorts of directions; after they had proceeded five or six leagues
to the East, they again turned to the _West_, then to the _South West_.
After walking a considerable time longer, they arrived at the shore, where
they found but few things. What particularly attracted their attention, was
pieces of copper: they took them away, resolving to return and fetch the
fragments of the long-boat, and several barrel, which the currents had
driven on the coast. After taking whatever they could carry away, they set
out towards the _East_, and at the end of about two leagues, they met some
other Moors, also subjects of Prince Muhammed; they stopped and lay down
under their tents: the Prince lay down under the finest, and ordered
refreshments to be given to the _Toubabe_, who was worn out with fatigue
and want of nourishment. Here Mr. Kummer was tormented by the women and
children, who came every moment to touch and feel the fineness of his skin,
and to take away some fragments of his shirt, and the few things which he
had left. During the evening, fresh questions were put to him respecting
the cruel wars which desolated France; he was obliged to trace the account
of them, on the sand in Arabic letters. It was this extreme complaisance,
and his pretended quality of the son of a Christian and of a Mahometan
woman, which caused him to be upon very good terms with Prince Muhammed,
and in general, with all the Moors whom he met with, on his journey. Every
moment of the day, the Prince begged Mr. Kummer, to make the wheels of his
watch go, the motions of which, much astonished the Moors; our traveller
was on his side equally surprised, to see among the hordes, children five
or six years of age, who wrote Arabic perfectly well.

The next day, July 8, at day-break, the Moors went and stationed themselves
on the summit of a hill. There, prostrated with their faces turned towards
the East, they waited for the rising of the sun, to perform their salam,
which they begin the moment he appears in the horizon. Mr. Kummer followed
them, imitated them in all their ceremonies, and never failed in the
sequel, to perform his devotions at the same time as they did. The ceremony
being over, the prince and his suite, continued their route in the
direction of the _South East_, which again frightened the poor _Toubabe_;
he thought that the Moors were going to resume their course to the _North_,
and that in the end they would take him to Morocco; then he endeavoured to
impart his uneasiness to Prince Muhammed, who at last comprehended him; but
to make it quite clear, Mr. Kummer drew upon the sand, a part of the map of
Africa; mean time, he heard them continually pronounce the word _Andar_,
which did not at all diminish his alarms; but by the lines which he traced,
he soon understood that the Moors meant the Isle of St. Louis; of which he
was convinced when he had written the name of the European factory, by the
side of that of Andar. The Moors let him know that they had comprehended
him; and shewed great joy that a white could understand their language.

At noon, they stopped on the side of a great pond or lake. Mr. Kummer, who
was extremely fatigued, lay down on the sand, and fell asleep immediately.
During his sleep, the Moors went to look for a fruit, produced by a tree
which generally grows on the sides of these lakes (marigots). They are
bunches of little red berries, and very refreshing: the Moors are very fond
of them, and make great use of them.[34]

During this time, chance ordered it, that Mr. Rogery, who had also been
taken by the Moors, stopped at the same place: he was brought by some of
the natives, who were taking him also to their sovereign Zaide: he soon
perceived Mr. Kummer lying with his face to the earth, and thought he was
dead; at this sight, a mortal chillness pervaded all the limbs of the
unfortunate Rogery; he deplored the loss of a friend, of a companion in
misfortune: he approached him trembling; but his grief was soon changed
into joy, when he perceived that his friend still breathed; he took hold of
him, and embraced him eagerly. These two unfortunate men were transported
with mutual joy, at meeting in the midst of their distress, with a fellow
countryman. Mr. Rogery had lost every thing; they had taken from him about
forty pieces of 20 francs each, his watch, and all his effects: he had
nothing left but his shirt, a very bad pair of pantaloons, and a hat. The
wives of the Moors, and still more the children, had greatly tormented him;
the latter, continually pinched him, and hindered him from taking a
moment's sleep. His character was remarkably soured by this treatment, and
his faculties rather impaired. These two unfortunate men, after having
related their distresses to each other, fell asleep close together; some
hours after, the Moors returned, and gave them some of the berries we have
before mentioned. The caravan soon set forward again, and took a _South
West_ direction, which led to the camp of King Zaide: they reached it in
the evening, but the monarch was absent; the report of our shipwreck had
reached his camp, and Zaide, who desires to see every thing himself, had
gone to the sea-shore to have assistance given to such of the persons
shipwrecked, as he should meet with. The King did not return till
twenty-four hours after, which gave time for our travellers to repose, and
for Prince Muhammed to make a bargain with the two whites: to conduct them
to the Isle of St. Louis; the Prince demanded for his trouble, including
the expences of provisions and travelling, 800 gourdes for each, and
obliged them before they set out, to sign an agreement in the Arabic
language: Mr. Kummer consented to it, and said to Mr. Rogery, when we have
once got to St. Louis, we will give them what we please. The latter
hesitated, being much more scrupulous on that point, he would not at first
accede to an agreement which he feared he should not be able to perform;
but seeing that the Moors were resolved to keep him among them, he
consented to accept the absolute proposal of the Prince, and the
conventions were signed.

Our two travellers passed a part of their time in examining the customs of
these people; we shall mention some circumstances which particularly struck
them. They observed, that the children imperiously command their fathers
and mothers: but especially the latter, who never oppose their
inclinations; hence, doubtless comes that despotic spirit, which is carried
to the extreme; a refusal, or a delay, in the executions of their orders
irritates them, and their anger is so violent that in the first transport,
the unhappy slave who may have excited their fury, runs the risk of being
stabbed on the spot. Hence, too doubtless the manly boldness which
characterises them, and which seems to inspire those who surround them,
with respect and submission. The Moors are, in every respect, much superior
to the Negroes: braver than they are, they reduce them to slavery, and
employ them in the hardest labour; they are, in general, tall and well
made, and their faces are very handsome, and full of expression.

However, it may also be observed that the Moors of both sexes, appear at
the first sight, like a people composed of two distinct races, which have
nothing in common, except, the extremely brown, or tanned colour of their
skin, and the shining black of their hair. The greater part of them, it is
true, are endowed with the stature, and the noble, but austere features,
which call to mind some of the great Italian painters, but there are
several, (indeed the smaller number) whose cranium and profile form a
singular contrast with the others. Their head is remarkably elongated, the
ears small: the forehead, which, in the first, is very high and finely
formed, is contracted in the latter, and becomes at the top disagreeably
protuberant; their eyes are sunk, and placed as it were obliquely, which
gives them the savage look with which they are reproached, and their lower
jaw has a tendency to be elongated. Some of them have, it is true, the high
forehead of the former: but it always differs by being sunk in at the base.
These latter are, perhaps, the descendants of the aborigines of this
country, whose characteristic features are still discernible,
notwithstanding their alliance with so many strangers? History has, indeed,
transmitted to us some of the customs of the Numidians, who were by turns,
the enemies, and the allies of the Romans; but it has not condescended to
draw their portrait. Juvenal somewhere speaks of the withered hands of the
Moors: _manus ossea Mauri_. But, besides, that this is general in hot
countries, this description may be understood of ill-fed slaves.

The travellers remarked that there was no difference between the very
frugal diet of the slaves, who are all blacks, and that of their masters.
The fathers and mothers, as well as the marabous, (a kind of priests) pass
their leisure moments in teaching the principles of their religion, as well
as instructing them in reading and writing on the sand; the wives of King
Zaide, the number of whom is considerable, passively obey Fatima, who is
the favourite, or chief wife of the sovereign.

Our travellers estimated the number of men, women, children and slaves, at
seven or eight hundred persons; their flocks appeared to them very
numerous: they constitute part of the wealth of Zaide, who possesses a
great many besides, in different parts of the kingdom, the extent of which
is pretty considerable; it has about sixty leagues of coast, and stretches
to a great depth in the interior of the desert. The people, as we have
said, call themselves _Trasas_, and profess the Mahometan religion; they
hunt lions, tigers, leopards, and all other ferocious animals, which abound
in this part of Africa. Their commerce is in furs or skins, and ostrich
feathers: they manufacture the leather called basil, in french, basane,
which they prepare very well;[A11] they make this leather into pocketbooks,
to which they give different forms, but in general, that of a _sabretache_.
They also dress goats skins, and join several together to give them more
breadth; they are known under the name of _peaux de maures_, are excellent,
and afford a complete defence against the rain: in form, they nearly
resemble the dress of a Capuchin; they sell all these articles in the
interior, as well as goldsmiths work, which they manufacture with only a
hammer, and a little anvil; but their chief commerce, which is very
extensive, is in salt, which they carry to Tombuctoo, and to Sego, large
and very populous cities, situated in the interior of Africa. Sego is built
on both sides of the river Niger, and Tombuctoo not far from its banks, the
former about five hundred, and the latter about six hundred leagues East of
the Island of Goree. The Marabous, who are almost all traders, frequently
extend their journeys into Upper Egypt. The Moors and the Negroes, have an
extraordinary respect for these priests, who manufacture leather, into
little etuis, perfumed bags, and pocketbooks, to which they give the name
of _gris-gris_. By means of magic words spoken over the _gris-gris_, and
little notes written in Arabic, which they enclose in them, he who carries
such a one about him, is secure against the bite of wild beasts; they make
them to protect the wearer against lions, crocodiles, serpents, &c. They
sell them extremely dear, and those who possess them set a very high value
on them; the king and the princes are not less superstitious than those
whom they command. There are some who wear as many as twenty of these
_gris-gris_ fixed to the neck, the arms, and the legs.

After a day's stay, King Zaide arrived: he had no ornament which
distinguished him; but he was of a lofty stature, had an open countenance,
and three large teeth in the upper jaw, on the left side, which projected
at least two lines over the under lip, which the Moors consider as a great
beauty. He was armed with a large sabre, a poniard and a pair of pistols;
his soldiers had zagayes or lances, and little sabres in the Turkish
fashion. The King has always at his side, his favourite negro, who wears a
necklace of red pearls, and is called Billaï. Zaide received the two whites
kindly, ordered that they should be well-treated, and that Mr. Rogery
should not be molested, he being continually tormented by the children. Mr.
Kummer was much more lively, and did not mind his misfortunes; he wrote
Arabic, and had passed himself off for the son of a Mahometan woman; all
this greatly pleased the Moors, who treated him well; while Mr. Rogery,
deeply affected by his misfortunes, and having just lost his last
resources, did not much rely on the good faith of the Moors.

In the course of the day, the King ordered Mr. Kummer to relate to him the
events of the last French revolution; he was already acquainted with those
of the first. Mr. Kummer did not exactly comprehend what the king wanted of
him. Zaide ordered his chief minister, to draw upon the sand, the map of
Europe, the Mediteranean, and the coast of Africa, along that sea: he
pointed out to him the Isle of Elba, and ordered him to relate the
circumstances which had taken place in the invasion of 1815, from the
moment that Buonaparte left it. Mr. Kummer took advantage of this favorable
moment, to ask for his watch; and the King ordered his son to return it to
the _Toubabe_, who then commenced his narrative; and as in the course of it
he called the Ex-Emperor, sometimes Buonaparte, and sometimes Napoleon, a
Marabou, at the name of Buonaparte, interrupted him, and asked if he was
the general whose armies he had seen in Upper Egypt, when he was going on
his pilgrimage to Mecca, to which Mr. Kummer answering in the affirmative,
the king and his suite were quite delighted; they could not conceive how a
mere general of army had been able to raise himself to the rank of Emperor:
it seems that these people had, till then, believed that Napoleon and
Buonaparte were two different persons. Mr. Kummer was also asked if his
father belonged to the army of Egypt; he said no, but that he was a
peaceable merchant, who had never borne arms. Mr. Kummer continued his
narrative, and astonished more and more, the King of the Trasas, and all
his court. The next day, Zaide desired to see the two whites again, from
whom he always learnt something new. He sent away the Moors, his subjects,
who had brought Mr. Rogery, and ordered his son, Prince Muhammed,
accompanied by one of his ministers, two other Moors of his suite, and a
slave, to conduct the two whites to Andar. They had camels to carry them,
as well as their provisions. Zaide, before he dismissed them, made them
take some refreshments, gave them provisions, for a part of the journey,
and advised Mr. Kummer to entrust his watch to his son; because, by that
means, he would be secure from its being taken from him by the Moors; and
that it would be returned to him at Saint Louis. Mr. Kummer immediately
obeyed. The prince faithfully executed his father's orders.

Before the departure of the two Frenchmen, the King wished to shew them his
respect for the laws which govern his dominions; knowing that this quality
is that which nations always desire to find in those who govern them; he
therefore thought, with reason, that he could not give a higher idea of his
virtues, and show his character in a more honorable light, than by
convincing them that he was the protector and most faithful observer of the
laws: to prove it, he related the following anecdote:

"Two princes, my subjects, had had an affair, for a long time, in
litigation: to terminate it, they resolved to ask me to be arbitrator
between them; but the proposals which I made, though I thought them
reasonable, were not approved by them; so that after my proposals, a
violent quarrel arose between the two parties: a challenge ensued, and the
two princes left my tent to decide their cause by arms. In fact, they
fought in my presence; one of them, the weakest, who was my friend, was
thrown down by his adversary, who stabbed him immediately. I had the grief
to see my friend die, and notwithstanding all my power, it was impossible
for me, as our laws allow duelling, and on account of the respect which I
have for them, to avenge the death of the prince whom I esteemed. You may
judge, by this, how scrupulously I observe the laws by which I govern my
dominions, and which regulate the rights of the princes, as well as those
of the citizens, and of the slaves."

The third and fourth day, after they had quitted the camp of King Zaide,
our travellers were reposing as usual, till the greatest heat of the day
should be passed. During the repast, the minister, who had the contracts
between the Prince and the two Frenchmen, took from his great _gris-gris_,
or pocket book, that of Mr. Rogery, who snatched it from him, and tore it
into a thousand pieces; immediately one of the Moors rushed upon him,
seized him by the throat, with one hand threw him on the ground, and was
going to stab him with a dagger which he held in the other; happily, the
Prince, out of regard for Mr. Kummer, whom he particularly esteemed,
pardoned him who had dared, so seriously, to insult one of his ministers.
But, during the four or five days that the journey continued, they
incessantly tormented him; and did not give him a fourth part of what was
necessary for his support, so that the unfortunate man was frequently
obliged to gnaw the bones which the Moors had thrown away; they also forced
him to make the whole journey on foot; it was pretty long; for these
gentlemen, on their arrival at St. Louis, estimated it at a hundred and
forty leagues at the least, because the Moors made them go so much out of
their way.

The respectable Mr. Rogery, a man of rare probity, was disturbed by the
recollection of the agreement which he had made with Muhammed, in a moment
of difficulty, knowing very well that he could never fulfil it; he thought
his honor implicated, and strictly bound by this contract, though he had
destroyed it. This recollection, and his inability to pay, affected his
nerves; to this was added fear, lest the contract should be known to his
countrymen; and this was what induced him to that act of desperation which
had nearly cost him his life, and deprived humanity of one of the most
zealous partisans of liberty, and of the abolition of the slave trade.

On the 19th, in the morning, they arrived at a village situated on the bank
of one of the arms of Senegal, which is called _Marigot of the
Maringouins_, and which appears to have been the ancient mouth of the
river, when it flowed directly to the sea, before it turned aside and
flowed to the South. This position may one day become important, if
Senegambia should ever be colonised.

The gentlemen remarked, that the banks of this arm of the river, are very
well cultivated; the fields are covered with plantations of cotton-trees,
with maize[35] and millet; one meets, at intervals, with tufts of wood,
which render it agreeable and healthy. Mr. Kummer thinks that this country
could be adapted to the cultivation of colonial productions. Here begins
Nigritia, and one may say, the country of good people; for, from this
moment, the travellers were never again in want of food, and the negroes
gave them whatever they wanted.

In the first village, which is called Vu, they met with a good negress, who
offered them milk and cous-cous, (flour of millet). She was affected, and
shed tears when she saw the two unhappy whites almost naked, and
particularly when she learned that they were Frenchmen. She began by
praising our nation; it is the custom of these people; and then, she gave
them a short account of the misfortunes she had experienced. This good
negress had been made a slave by the Moors, who had torn her from the arms
of her mother; she consequently detested them, and called them the banditti
of the desert; she said to the two whites, in very good French: "are they
not very villainous people?" "Yes," answered our unhappy countrymen.
"Well," continued she, "these robbers carried me off, notwithstanding the
efforts of my unhappy father, who defended me with courage; they then
carried desolation into our village, which a moment before enjoyed
tranquillity and happiness; on this sad day we saw whole families carried
off, and we were all conducted to that horrible market at St. Louis, where
the whites carry on the execrable trade of dealers in men; chance favored
me, and saved me from being sent to find death in America, amidst the
tempests which cover the ocean that separates it from Africa. I had the
good fortune to fall into the hands of the respectable General
Blanchot,[37] whose name and memory will be ever dear to the inhabitants of
St. Louis. This worthy governor kept me some years in his service; but
seeing that I always thought of my country and my relations, and that, in
short, I could not habituate myself to your customs, he gave me my liberty,
and from that moment I have vowed eternal friendship to everything that
bears the French name." Our two whites were much affected by this
interesting meeting; from that moment they fancied themselves among their
own countrymen.

After some hours repose they continued their journey, and in fact, they had
every reason to praise the negroes, who did not let them want for anything.
In proportion, as they approached the town, the Moors became much more
civil, and when they were going to pass the river, to enter St. Louis,
Prince Muhammed returned Mr. Kummer his watch. The French governor received
the Prince and his suite, very well; he caused them to be paid about sixty
francs in two sous-pieces; this sum seemed enormous to them; for they were
extremely satisfied with it: this gives ground to suppose that they were
not acquainted with the value of the gourde, when they demanded eight
hundred for the ransom of each of the two travellers. It was on the 22nd of
July, that they arrived, after having wandered sixteen days in the burning
desert of Zaara, and having endured all the horrors of hunger and thirst,
particularly the unfortunate Mr. Rogery, who had to bear all the caprices
of the Moors.

All the shipwrecked persons who had escaped these disasters being assembled
at St. Louis, we thought we should immediately take possession of our
establishments. But the English governor, Mr. Beurthonne, having learned
our shipwreck, either of his own authority, or having received orders to
that effect, from his government, refused to give up the colony. This
difficulty obliged the commander of the French expedition to take measures,
to wait for fresh orders from France. He was enjoined to send away
immediately all the shipwrecked persons who arrived in the town of St.

Every thing induces us to believe that the delay in the restitution of
these settlements depended on the English governor, who threw obstacles in
the way, whenever circumstances permitted him. He alledged at first, that
he had not received orders to give up the colony, and that besides he was
in want of vessels to remove his troops, and all the effects belonging to
his nation. This last allegation of wanting vessels is, of itself,
sufficient to shew, that he was not much inclined to retire from the Isle
of St. Louis; for the French governor, in order to remove all difficulties,
proposed the _Loire_ to serve as a transport, and this offer was refused.
We think we have guessed the cause of this delay in the restitution of the
colony, for two reasons, which seem to us the better founded, as they take
their origin in the British policy, which is constantly to follow no other
rule than its political or commercial interest. We give them, however, only
as suppositions; but these suppositions seem so well confirmed by the
events to which they relate, that we do not hesitate to lay them before our

We think then that Mr. Beurthonne had received orders to give up the
Islands of St. Louis and Goree, to the French squadron, which should come
to take possession of them; but we think also, that he was desired to
evacuate them as late as possible, in case the English merchants or
government could derive any advantage from a delay.

In fact, if Mr. Beurthonne had not received any instructions to deliver up
the colony, it was certainly, useless to alledge that he was in want of
vessels. To the desires of the French governor, he had only to make the
plain and unanswerable objection, that his government had not given him any
orders. It is therefore, by the kind of vacillation which appears in his
answers, that himself, leads us to the opinion which we have formed. But it
will be said, what advantage could the English government derive from this
delay? The following, is what we conjecture on this subject.

The gum trade was on the point of commencing; it was very just that the
English merchants, who were in Senegal, should carry off this crop, which
would have belonged to the French merchants if the colony, had been

A second motive, not less powerful, is, that we were just at the entrance
of the bad season, and that the English settlements, on the river Gambia,
(to which, a part of the English, garrison were to go) are extremely
unhealthy: diseases that are almost always mortal, prevail during the
winter-season, and generally carry off two thirds of the Europeans, who are
newly arrived. Every year the mortality is the same; because, every year it
is necessary to send fresh garrisons: those who have the good fortune to
resist these terrible epidemics, come, to recover, to the Isle of Goree,
where the air is salubrious. Such are the reasons which, as we think,
caused the delay in the restitution of our settlements on the coast of

Without losing ourselves farther in conjectures, we will conclude with one
remark: namely, them on this occasion the English governor was influenced
more by the usual policy of his government than by local and particular
considerations. Let us remember what passed on the restitution of our
colonies at the peace of 1802 and that of 1814; and it will be seen that
the British Government, without giving itself much trouble to assign
reasons, has adopted and faithfully followed the principle, of not
willingly giving up what it possessed.[38]

The shipwreck of the Medusa favoured the designs of the governor; for, what
sensation could be produced by the arrival of an expedition, of which the
principal vessel no longer existed, and the three others appeared one after
the other? If the English had had the intention to restore the colony on
our arrival, the disorder in which we appeared, would alone have sufficed;
to make them conceive the idea of delaying as much as possible to withdraw
from the Island of St. Louis. But what we cannot conceive is, that the
governor, after giving the French a good reception for some days, should
have required their troops to be sent away from the colony: and what were
these troops? wretches almost naked, worn out by the long fatigues and
privations which they had had to bear in the deserts; they were almost all
without arms. Did he fear the spirit of the colonists, and even that of the
negroes, which was not in his favor, and who saw with the greatest pleasure
the arrival of the French? This is not at all probable.

All the shipwrecked persons being assembled at St. Louis, as we have
already said, the governor, two days before his departure for Cape Verd,
thought of sending a vessel on board the Medusa, to look for a sum of
100,000 francs,[39] which was intended to form the treasure of the colony,
as well as provisions, which were in abundance on board, and of which there
was some scarcity in the colony. Very little was said about the men, who
had remained on board, and to whom their companions had solemnly promised
to send for them as soon as they should arrive at St. Louis; but these
unfortunate men were already hardly thought of any more. Mr. Corréard says
that the first day that he took a walk in the town, he went to pay a visit
to the family of the governor. During the conversation, the vessel was
mentioned, that was going to be sent to the Medusa, as also the possibility
of recovering the 100,000 francs, provisions, and effects. Seeing that they
said nothing of the seventeen men who had remained on board the frigate, he
said, "but a more precious object, of which nothing is said, is the
seventeen poor men who were left!" "Pooh," answered somebody, "seventeen!
there are not three left." "And if there remained but three, but one,"
replied he, "yet, his life is more valuable than all that can be recovered
from the frigate;" and left the company in anger.

When in the first part of this work, we represented Mrs. and Miss Schmalz,
as alone unmoved when the frigate ran aground; and seeming to rise above
the general consternation, our readers may have given them credit for
uncommon greatness of soul, and more than manly courage. Why are we obliged
to destroy this honorable illusion which we may have caused? Why, when
these ladies, have carried indifference so far as to dispense themselves
from the most common duties of humanity, by refraining from paying the
smallest visit to the poor wretches, placed in the hospital at St. Louis,
have they themselves discovered to, us that their composure on board the
frigate was nothing but profound insensibility?

We could, however, if not excuse, at least explain this last mark of their
hard-heartedness: what sight, in fact, awaited them in this melancholy
abode, on the new theatre, where the sad victims of a first act of
inhumanity, had to struggle with the fresh miseries prepared for them by
the indifference, the inattention of their fellow-creatures? The sight of
men, who all bore in their hearts, the remembrance of the faults, of a
husband, of a father, could not be an object which they would be desirous
of seeking, or meeting with; and in this point of view, the care, which
they took to avoid the hospital, seems to us almost pardonable. But what is
not, what cannot be excused, what we have not learned without the greatest
surprise is, that Miss Schmalz, judging of us doubtless, after a manner of
thinking which was not ours, and not supposing it possible that the faults
of her father, and the inhuman conduct of herself and her mother, should
not be one day known in France, should have hastened to anticipate this
publication, by writing to her friends at Paris, a letter justifying her
relations with the shipwrecked persons belonging to the raft, and trying to
devote these unfortunate men to public hatred and contempt. In this
singular letter, which has been circulated in Paris, she confessed that the
sight of the shipwrecked persons inspired her with a degree of horror,
which she could not suppress. "It was really impossible for me," said she,
"to endure the presence of these men, without feeling a sentiment of

What then was our crime in the eyes of Miss Schmalz? Doubtless that of
knowing too well the persons really guilty of our misfortunes. Yes, on this
account, whenever Miss Schmalz saw us, which was extremely seldom, our
presence must have been a thunder-bolt to her. She could say to herself,
"these men have in their hands the fate of my father. If they speak, if
they utter complaints which they suppress here, if they are listened to,
(and how should they not be listened to in a country, where a charter, the
noble present of our august Monarch, causes justice and the law to reign,)
instead of being the daughter of a governor, I am but a wretched orphan;
instead of these honors, with which it gives me so much pleasure to be
surrounded, I fall into the degradation, and the oblivion which generally
await the unhappy family of a great criminal."

It is certain that, if we had listened to our griefs, if we had called to
legal account, the authors of our misfortunes, it is difficult to believe
that they would have escaped the inflexible rigour of justice. But we have
been generous, and it is we who are oppressed! Thus, as the historians of
the human heart, have but too often observed, "_It is more easy to pardon
the injury we have received, than that we have inflicted_."

The little vessel chosen to go to the frigate, was a schooner, commanded by
a lieutenant of the navy; the crew was composed of some black-drivers, and
some passengers. It sailed from St. Louis, on the 26th, of July, and had on
board, provisions for eight days: so that having met with contrary winds,
it was obliged to return to port, after having, in vain, endeavoured for
seven or eight days, to get to the Medusa.

This schooner sailed again after having taken in provisions for about
twenty-five days; but, as the sails were in a very bad condition, and the
owner would not change them, till they were wholly unfit for service, she
was obliged to sail again, with a few repairs only. Having experienced at
sea, a pretty heavy gale, the sails were almost entirely destroyed, and she
was obliged to return to port after having been a fortnight at sea, without
having been able to accomplish her purpose. She was then furnished with new
sails, which cost about ten days labour. As soon as she was ready, they
sailed for the third time, and reached the Medusa, fifty-two days, after
she had been abandoned.

A very obvious reflection here presents itself to the most inattentive
mind: it is certain, that the reader must presume, that this was the only
schooner in the colony; it is our duty to undeceive him: many other
merchants offered their vessels; but their offers were declined. The
governor liked better to treat with a single house, than to have accounts
to regulate with a part of the merchants of the colony; who, however, were
ready to place at his disposal, every thing in their power. Mr. Durecur was
the merchant favored. This house carries on the whole trade of Senegal; its
firm has taken place of the African company. He made the governor large
advances, both of provisions and money, which amounted to 50,000 francs; he
had continually, at his house, Mr. Schmalz, his family and a numerous
suite. The general opinion was that, Mr. Durecur had got by his acts of
generosity, a decent profit of a hundred per cent; he was, besides,
recompenced, on the application of the governor, by that decoration, which
it seems, ought to be conferred for some brilliant action,[40] and not for
a very profitable commercial transaction; but let us return to our
schooner. What was the astonishment of those on board her, at still finding
in the Medusa, three unfortunate men on the point of expiring! Most
certainly, they were very far from expecting this meeting; but as we have
said, 17 were abandoned. What became of the 14 others? We will try to
relate the story of their unhappy fate.

As soon as the boats and the raft had left the frigate, these 17 men
endeavoured to subsist till assistance should be sent them. They searched
wherever the water had not penetrated, and succeeded in collecting
sufficient biscuit, wine, brandy, and bacon, to enable them to subsist for
some time. As long as their provision lasted, tranquillity prevailed among
them: but forty-two days passed without their receiving the assistance
which had been promised them; when twelve of the most resolute, seeing that
they were on the point of being destitute of everything, determined to get
to the land. To attain their object, they formed a raft with the pieces of
timber which remained on board of the frigate, the whole bound together
like the first, with strong ropes: they embarked upon it, and directed
their course towards the land; but how could they steer on a machine, that
was doubtless destitute of oars and the necessary sails. It is certain that
these poor men, who had taken with them but a very small stock of
provisions, could not hold out long, and that, overcome by despair and
want, they have been the victims of their rashness. That such was the
result of their fatal attempt, was proved by the remains of their raft,
which were found on the coast of the desert of Zaara, by some Moors,
subjects of King Zaide, who came to Andar to give the information. These
unhappy men were doubtless the prey of the sea-monsters which are found in
great numbers on the coasts of Africa.

Unhappy victims we deplore the rigour of your lot: like us, you have been
exposed to the most dreadful torments: like us abandoned upon a raft, you
have had to struggle with those pressing wants which man cannot subdue,
hunger and thirst carried to the extreme! Our imagination carries us to
your fatal machine; we see your despair, your rage; we appreciate the whole
extent of your sufferings, and your misfortunes draw forth our tears. It is
then true that misfortune strikes more forcibly him who has had already to
struggle with adversity! The happy man scarcely believes in misfortune, and
often accuses him whose distresses he has caused.

A sailor who had refused to embark upon the raft, attempted also to reach
the shore some days after the first; he put himself on a chicken coop, but
he sunk within half a cable's length of the frigate.

Four men resolved not to leave the Medusa, alledging that they preferred
dying on board, to braving new dangers which it seemed impossible for them
to surmount. One of the four had just died when the schooner arrived, his
body had been thrown into the sea: the three others were very weak; two
days later they would have been no more. These unhappy men occupied each a
separate place, and never left it but to fetch provisions, which in the
last days consisted only of a little brandy, tallow, and salt pork. When
they met, they ran upon each other brandishing their knifes. As long as the
wine had lasted with the other provisions, they had kept up their strength
perfectly well; but as soon as they had only brandy to drink they grew
weaker every day.[41]

Every care was bestowed on these three men that their situation demanded,
and all three are now in perfect health.

After having given the necessary succours to the three men of whom we have
just spoken, they proceeded to get out of the frigate, every thing that
could be removed; they cut a large hole in her, (_on la saborda_,) and were
thus able to save wine, flour, and many other things. Mr. Corréa had the
simplicity to think that the shipwrecked people were going to recover a
part, at least, of their effects, since a vessel, belonging to the king,
had reached the frigate. But far from it! Those who were on board declared
themselves corsairs, and pillaged, as we may say, all the effects which
they could get at. One of them Mr. ------, carried off several
portmanteaus, and four hammocks, full of all kind of articles, the whole
for his own use.

The schooner having quite completed its cargo, and all attempts to recover
the 100,000 francs, of which we have spoken, being fruitless, returned to
Senegal. We saw this little vessel arrive, and our hearts beat with joy; we
thought we should see again our unfortunate companions, who had been
abandoned on board the frigate, and recover some clothes, of which we were
in much need. The schooner passed the bar, and in an hour or two had
traversed the space which separated it from us. In an instant we ran to the
port, and enquired if any of our unfortunate countrymen had been saved. We
were answered, three are still living, and fourteen have died since our
departure: this answer confounded us. We then asked if it had been possible
to save any of our effects; and were answered, _yes_, but that they were a
_good prize_; we could not understand this answer, but it was repeated to
us, and we learnt for the first time that we were at war with Frenchmen,
because we had been excessively unfortunate.

The next day the town was transformed into a public fair, which lasted at
least a week. There were sold effects belonging to the State, and those of
the unhappy crew who had perished; here, the clothes of those who were
still living, a little further was the furniture of the captain's cabin: in
another place were the signal flags, which the negroes were buying to make
themselves aprons and cloaks; at one place they sold the tackling and sails
of the frigate, at another bed-linen, frames, hammocks, quilts, books,
instruments, &c. &c.

But there is one thing that is sacred, respected by every man who serves
with honor, the rallying sign under which he ought to find victory or
death, the flag; what it will be asked became of it?... It was saved ...
Did it fall; into the hands of a Frenchman?... No! he who debases a
respectable sign, which represents a nation, cannot belong to that nation.
Well! this sign was employed in domestic uses.[42] Vases which belonged to
the captain of the frigate himself, were also saved, and were transferred
from his side-board to the table of the Governor, where Mr. de Chaumareys
recognized them, and it is from him we have received these details. It is
true that the ladies of the Governor had received them, as a present, from
those who went on board the schooner.

Nothing was now seen in the town but negroes dressed, some in jackets and
pantaloons, some in large grey great coats; others had shirts, waistcoats,
_police-bonnets_, &c. every thing, in short, presented the image of
disorder and confusion. Such was a part of the mission of the schooner: the
provisions, which it brought, were of the greatest choice to the French
Governor, who began to be in want of them.

Some days after, the Merchants of St. Louis, were authorized to go on board
the Medusa with their vessels, on the following conditions: they were to
equip the vessels at their own expence, and all the effects which they
could save out of the frigate were to be divided into two equal parts, one
for the government, the other for the owners of the vessels. Four schooners
sailed from St. Louis, and in a few days reached their destination: they
brought back to the colony a great quantity of barrels of flour, salt,
meat, wine, brandy, cordage, sails, &c. &c. This expedition was terminated
in less than twenty days. As the schooners arrived in the Senegal, the
proper way would have been to unload them, and deposit the things saved, in
a magazine, till the arrival of the French Governor, who was absent; it
appears to us, that, in making the division, his presence, or that of some
other competent authority was necessary. But whether the ship-owners, would
not wait for the return of the Governor, or whether they were in haste to
possess their share of the cargo, they went to Mr. Potin Agent, or Partner
of the house of Durecur, and begged him to divide the articles saved from
the frigate. We are ignorant whether Mr. Potin was authorized to make this
division; but whether he was authorised or not, we think he could not make
it, without the co-operation of one or more officers of the administration,
since he was himself one of the ship-owners. It would have been the more
easy to have this division superintended by an officer of the government,
as there were then three or four at St. Louis; among whom were the
secretary and the paymaster. Yet neither of them was called in to be
present at these operations, though they lasted some days. However, those
to whom the vessels belonged, shewed themselves much more generous to the
shipwrecked people, than those who went on board the frigate, with the
first schooner: the few books and effects which they had been able to save
were restored to such of the crew as claimed them.

A short time after these depredations were ended, some French officers and
soldiers, belonging as well to the land as the sea-service, and who were
still at St. Louis, received orders from the English Governor to go
immediately to the camp of Daccard: it was about the first of October. At
this time Mr. Corréard remained the only Frenchman in the hospital at St.
Louis, till he should be entirely recovered. We are entirely ignorant of
the reasons which induced this Governor to employ such severe measures
towards about twenty unhappy persons, among whom three officers had been
part of the crew of the fatal raft. He however, allowed the civil officers
to remain in the city.

Let us take a rapid survey of the new misfortunes which overtook some of
the unfortunate persons who escaped from the raft and the desert, and
remained plunged in a horrid hospital without assistance, and without
consolation, before we proceed to the history of the camp at Daccard, which
will terminate this account. Our readers will remember that it was on the
23d of July, that the men, who escaped from the raft, were united to the
sixty-three landed by the long boat, near the Moles of Angel.

Mr. Coudin, commander of the raft, and Mr. Savigny, were received at
Senegal by Mr. Lasalle, a French Merchant, who, on all occasions, bestowed
on them the most generous care, which spared them the new sufferings, to
which their companions in misfortune were exposed, and gives Mr. Lasalle a
title to their lasting gratitude.

As for Mr. Corréard, as soon as he was at the isle of St. Louis, he and
some others of our companions covered with wounds, and almost without life,
were laid upon truck-beds, which, instead of mattresses, had only blankets
doubled in four, with sheets disgustingly dirty; the four officers of the
troops were also placed in one of the rooms of the hospital, and the
soldiers and sailors in another room, near the first, and lying in the same
manner as the officers. The evening of their arrival, the Governor,
accompanied by the captain of the frigate, and by a numerous suite, came to
pay them a visit: the air of compassion, with which he addressed them, much
affected them; in this first moment, they were promised a guinea, linen to
clothe them, wine to restore their strength, and ammunition to amuse them
when they should be able to go out. Vain promises! It is to the compassion
of strangers, alone, that they were indebted for their existence for five
months. The Governor announced his departure for the camp at Duccard,
saying to these poor men who were left behind, that he had given orders
that they should want for nothing during his absence. All the French, able
to embark, departed with the Governor.

Left to themselves in the horrid abode which they inhabited, surrounded
with men in whom their cruel situation inspired no pity, our countrymen
again abandoned, gave vent to their distress in useless complaints. In vain
they represented to the English physician that the ordinary ration of a
common soldier, which had been hitherto given them, was wholly unfit for
them, first, because their health required, if it was indeed wished to
recover them, better nourishment than is given to a soldier in good health
in his barracks: that, besides, officers enjoyed in all countries some
preference, and that, in consequence, he was requested to have regard to
the just desires of the sick.

The doctor was inexorable: he answered that he had received no orders and
that he should make no change. They then addressed their complaints to the
English Governor, who was equally insensible. It is, however, probable that
the French Governor, before his departure, had requested this officer to
afford all the assistance which the situation of those whom he left
required, under the protection of his generosity. If this request was made
it must be allowed that this Mr. Beurthonne has a heart but little
accessible to sentiments of humanity.

What a contrast between the conduct of this Lieutenant-Colonel, and that of
the other officers of his nation, belonging to the expedition for exploring
the interior of Africa, with whom the officers of the garrison joined. It
is to their generous efforts that the officers saved from the raft, owed
assistance and perhaps life. It is not, in fact, rare to see the same
circumstances give rise to the same observation. On occasions of this kind,
a great number of private Englishmen excite astonishment by the excess of
their generosity to their enemies, while on the other hand the agents of
the government, and individuals, who doubtless believe that they enter into
its views, seem to glory in a conduct diametrically opposite.

These gentlemen, some days after the arrival of our unfortunate comrades,
having been informed of their melancholy situation, came to the hospital
and took away with them the four officers who were already able to go out;
they invited them to share their repast with them, till the colony should
be given up.[43] Forty days had passed, since the compassionate English had
come to the relief of these four companions in misfortune, without the
distressed Corréard's having personally felt the effects of their kindness.
His health was greatly impaired, in consequence of the unheard-of
sufferings which he had experienced on the raft; his wounds gave him great
pain, and he was obliged to remain in the infirmary: add to this the
absolute want of clothes, having nothing to cover him except the sheet of
his bed, in which he wrapped himself up. Since the departure of the
governor, he had heard nothing of the French, which made him very uneasy,
and doubled his desire to join his countrymen, hoping to find from them,
consolation and relief; for he had friends among the officers and
passengers who were at the Camp of Deccard. He was in this temper of mind,
and in the melancholy situation which we have just described, reduced to
the ration of a common soldier, during the forty days which had just
elapsed, when he caused the captain of an American merchant vessel to be
asked whether he would do him the pleasure to take him to Cape Verd, to
which place he was to go; the answer was affirmative, and the departure
fixed for two days after. In this interval, Mr. Kummer, the naturalist,
happened to express, in the presence of Major Peddy, commander in chief of
the English expedition for the interior of Africa, the fears which he felt
at the departure of his friend, alledging that he was very uneasy
respecting the effects of the bad air of the camp of Deccard, on a
constitution so shaken as that of Mr. Corréard. Scarcely had the sensible
Mr. Kummer ceased speaking, when Major Peddy hastily went away, returned to
his apartment, and immediately got ready linen, clothes and money, and
while he was thus employed, this genuine philanthropist shed tears at the
fate of the unhappy man, whom he did not know, cursing those who had
cruelly abandoned him. His indignation was excited, because he had been
assured that ever since the departure of the French governor, Mr. Corréard
had heard nothing farther, either of him, or of his countrymen. Respectable
Major! worthy friend of humanity! in departing for the interior of Africa,
you have carried with you the regret and the gratitude of a heart, on which
your noble beneficence is indelibly engraven.

While this unexpected relief was preparing Mr. Corréard, seated at the foot
of his truck bed, was overwhelmed by the thoughts of his wretchedness, and
plunged in the most heart-rending reflections. All that he saw affected him
still more deeply, than the dreadful scenes which had passed upon the raft.
"In the very heat of battle," said he, "the pain of my wounds was not
accompanied by the gloomy despondency which now depresses me, and by a
slow, but sure progress, is conducting me to death. Only two months ago, I
was strong, intrepid, capable of braving every fatigue: now, confined to
this horrid abode, my courage is vanished, every thing forsakes me. I have,
in vain, asked some assistance of those who have come to see me, not from
humanity, but from unfeeling curiosity: thus, people went to Liege to see
the brave Goffin, after he had extricated himself by his courage, from the
coal-pit which had fallen in and buried him. But he, happier than I, was
rewarded with the cross of the legion of honour, and a pension which
enabled him to subsist.[44] If I were in France," he continued, "my
relations, my countrymen, would mitigate my sufferings; but here, under a
burning climate, where every thing is strange to me, surrounded by these
Africans, who are hardened by the habitual sight of the horrors produced by
the slave trade, nothing relieves me; on the contrary, the length of the
nights, the continuance of my sufferings, the sight of those of my
companions in misfortune, the disgusting filth by which I am surrounded,
the inattention of a soldier who acts as nurse, and is always drunk or
negligent, the insupportable hardness of a wretched bed, scarcely sheltered
from the inclemency of the air, all announce to me an inevitable death. I
must resign myself to it, and await it with courage! I was less to be
pitied on the raft; then my imagination was exalted, and I scarcely enjoyed
my intellectual faculties! but here, I am only an ordinary man, with all
the weaknesses of humanity. My mind is continually absorbed in melancholy
reflections; my soul sinks under incessant sufferings, and I daily see
those who shared my unhappy fate, drop before me into the grave.[45]"

While he was wholly absorbed in this distressing soliloquy, he saw two
young officers enter the room, followed by three or four slaves, carrying
various effects. These two officers approached, with an air of kindness,
the mournful and motionless Corréard, "Accept," said they, "these trifling
presents, they are sent to you by Major Peddy, and Captain Cambpell: we,
sir, have desired the happiness of bringing you this first assistance; we
were commissioned by all our comrades, to obtain from you accurate
information respecting your wants; you are, besides, invited to partake of
our table, all the time we shall pass together: the Major, and all the
officers, beg you to remain here, and not to go to the pestilential camp at
Deccard, where a mortal distemper would carry you off in a few days." It
would be ungrateful not to name these two young officers: one bears the
name of Beurthonne, without being a relation of the Governors; the name of
the other is Adam.

While these generous officers were fulfilling, with so much politeness and
kindness, these acts of humanity, Major Peddy entered the room, followed by
other slaves, also loaded with things, which he came to offer to the friend
of the naturalist, Kummer, by whom he was accompanied. The Major approached
the unfortunate Corréard, who seemed as if awaking from a dream; he
embraced him, shedding tears, and vowing to him a friendship which never
abated during the whole time that he remained with him. What a sublime
image is a fine man, almost two metres in height, who sheds tears of pity
at the sight of an unfortunate man, who was not less affected, and, shed
them in abundance, penetrated with the most delicious feelings of gratitude
and admiration. After he had recovered from the emotion excited in him by
the sight of the melancholy situation of the stranger, whom he had just
snatched from misery, the Major made him the most obliging offers: and that
Mr. Corréard might not decline them, he assured him, beforehand, that he
himself and many of his comrades had received similar assistance from
Frenchmen; and that their countrymen ought to allow him the honour of
discharging, if it were possible, his debt to their nation, for the
generous treatment which he had received from them.[46] Offers so nobly
made, could not but be accepted by Mr. Corréard, who expressed to his
benefactor, how happy he should esteem himself to be able to merit the
friendship that he had just offered him, and that he wished nothing so much
as to be able, one day, to shew his gratitude in a manner worthy of
himself, and of a Frenchman. From that time Mr. Corréard received all
imaginable assistance from the Major and his officers, and it may be said
with truth, that he owes them his life, as do the four French officers who
were with him.

On the 24th of August, Mr. Clairet paid the debt of nature. It was
thirty-four days after our arrival at St, Louis. Mr. Corréard had the grief
to see him die at his side, and to hear him say before his death, that he
died satisfied, since he had had time to recommend to his father a natural
son whom he loved. At this time Major Peddy had not yet relieved Mr.
Corréard; he was without clothes, so that he could not attend the funeral
of his comrade, who had just expired, worn out by the sufferings which he
had experienced on the raft.

The remains of this young officer received the honours due to them. The
English officers, and especially Major Peddy, acted on this occasion in a
manner worthy of praise.

Perhaps our readers will not be sorry to be made acquainted with some of
the details of this mournful ceremony. They are drawn up by Mr. Corréard,
who still feels a sad pleasure in calling to mind the moments which
necessarily made upon him so great an impression.

The body of the unfortunate Clairet was laid out in a subterraneous
apartment of the hospital, whither immense crowds repaired to see once more
the mortal remains of one who was almost regarded as an extraordinary man;
and who, at this moment, owed to his cruel adventures, the powerful
interest, which the public favor attached to him and to those, who had so
miraculously escaped from all the combined afflictions sustained on the
fatal raft.

"About four o'clock in the afternoon," says Mr. Corréard, "I heard the
mournful sounds of martial instruments under the windows of the hospital.
This was a dreadful blow to me, not so much because it warned me of the
speedy fate which infallibly awaited me, as because this funeral signal
announced to me the moment of eternal separation from the companion of my
sufferings: from the friend, whom our common misfortunes had given me, when
I passed with him the most dreadful moments of my life. At this sound I
wrapped myself in my sheet, and crawled to the balcony of my window, to bid
him the last farewell, and to follow him with my eyes as far as possible. I
know not what effect the sight of me may have produced, but when I now
reflect upon it myself; I imagine that the people must have believed it was
a spectre welcoming a corpse to the abode of the grave."

"As for me, notwithstanding my emotion, the sacrifice which I supposed I
had made of my life, permitted me to contemplate and to follow in detail
the sad spectacle on which my almost extinguished eyes eagerly dwelt. I
distinguished a crowd of slaves who had obtained permission from their
masters to be present at the ceremony. A body of English soldiers was
placed in a line; after them came two lines of French soldiers and sailors.
Immediately after, four soldiers bore the coffin on their shoulders, after
the manner of the ancients. A national flag covered it, and hung down to
the ground; four officers, two French and two English, were placed at the
angles, diagonally opposite, and supported the corners; on the coffin were
laid the uniform and the arms of the young soldier, and the distinctive
marks of his rank. On the right and left French officers of the army and
navy, and all the officers of the administration, ranged in two files,
formed the procession. The band of music was at their head: afterwards,
came the English staff with the respectable Major Peddy at its head, and
the corps of citizens, led by the mayor of the town; lastly, the officers
of the regiment, and a detachment, commanded by one of them, closed the
procession. Thus was conducted to his last repose, this other victim of the
fatal raft, snatched in the flower of his age, from his friends and his
country, by the most fatal death, and whose fine qualities and courage
rendered him worthy of a less deplorable fate."

This brave officer, who was only twenty-eight years of age, had been eight
years in the service; he had received the cross of the Legion of Honor at
the _Champ de Mai_, as a reward for the services which be had performed at
Talavera de la Reina, Sierra Morena, Saragossa, Montmiraill, Champaubert,
and Montéreau; he was present, also, at the too deplorable day of Waterloo;
he was then ensign-bearer of his regiment.

Such were the events that passed in the isle of St. Louis. The bad season,
which, in these countries is so fatal to the Europeans, began to spread
those numerous and dreadful maladies, which are so frequently accompanied
by death. Let us now turn to the unhappy persons assembled in the camp at
Daccard, not far from the village of that name, situated on the Peninsula
of Cape Verd.

The French Governor, as we have already observed, being unable to enter
into the possession of the colony, resolved to go and remain upon Cape
Verd, which had been recognized to be the property of France. On the 26th
of July the Argus brig, and a three-roasted vessel belonging to Messrs.
Potin and Durécur, took on board the remains of the crew of the Medusa,
that is, the men who had landed near Portendick, and some persons from the
raft: those whose health were the most impaired remained in the hospital at
St. Louis. These two vessels set sail; the Governor embarked on board that
with three masts, and they arrived in the Goree Roads at nightfall. The
next day the men were removed to Cape Verd: several soldiers and sailors
had already repaired to it; these were those who had first crossed the
desert: the flute, _la Loire_, had conveyed them thither some days before,
with the commander of the frigate. It had also landed the troops it had on
board, consisting of a company of colonial soldiers. The command of the
camp was confided to Mr. de Fonsain, a respectable old man, who died there
the victim of his zeal. What procured him this fatal distinction was the
resolution taken by the Governor to go and reside in the island of Goree,
to be able to superintend the camp, and the ships, and doubtless for the
sake of his health.[47]

The shipwreck of the frigate having much reduced the number of the
garrison, and occasioned the loss of a great quantity of provisions which
she had on board, it was necessary to dispatch a vessel to France, to
obtain assistance and fresh orders, on account of the difficulties that had
been raised by the English Governor. The _Echo_ corvette was chosen for
this purpose, which sailed on the 29th of July, in the evening. She had on
board fifty-five of those who had been shipwrecked, three of whom were
officers of the navy, the head surgeon, the accountant, three _élèves_ of
the marine, and an under surgeon. After a passage of thirty-four days, this
corvette anchored in Brest Roads. Mr. Savigny says, that during the six
years he has been in the navy, he has never seen a vessel so well kept, and
where the duty was done with so much regularity as on board the Echo. Let
us return to the new establishment, which collected the remnant of us on
Cape Verd.

A camp was formed there to receive them near a village inhabited by
negroes, and called Daccard, as has been stated above. The natives of the
country appeared to be pleased at seeing the French found an establishment
on their coast. A few days after, the soldiers and sailors having had some
misunderstanding, the latter were removed, and distributed between the
Loire and the Argus.

The men who formed this camp were soon attacked with the diseases of the
country. They were ill fed, and many of them had just endured long
fatigues. Some fish, very bad rum, a little bread, or rice, such were their
provisions. The chace also contributed to supply their wants; but the
excursions which they made to procure game, frequently impaired their
health. It was in the beginning of July that the bad season began to be
felt. Cruel diseases attacked the unhappy French; who being exhausted by
long privations, these terrible maladies spread with dreadful rapidity. Two
thirds of them were attacked by putrid fevers, the rapid progress of which
hardly allowed the physicians time, to administer that precious remedy, the
produce of Peru, of which, by some mismanagement, the hospitals were nearly
destitute.[A12] It was in these distressing circumstances that Mr. de
Chaumareys came to take the command of the camp. Other measures were taken,
and the hospitals were no longer in want of bark; but dysenteries, which
frequently proved mortal, spread every where. On all sides there were none
but unhappy men who gave themselves up to despair, and who sighed after
their country: it was scarcely possible to find men enough for the duty of
the camp. It is remarkable, that the crews of the vessels, which were in
the roads of Goree, were hardly sensible of the influence of the bad
season: it is true these crews were better fed, better clothed, and
sheltered from the inclemency of the air; it is, besides, pretty certain,
that this road is healthy, while the maladies of the country prevail on
shore. Such was the situation of the camp of Daccard, when, on the 20th of
November, the French Governor, was authorized, by Mr. Macarty, Governor
General of the English settlements, to inhabit, on the former coast of the
French possessions, the place which should suit him the best. Mr. Schmalz
chose St. Louis.[48]

As we were neither of us at the camp of Daccard we have not been able to
detail all that passed there, and to speak only of things, with which we
are perfectly acquainted, we have been obliged to pass over this part of
our narrative rather slightly.

Mr. Corréard, who had remained at the isle of St. Louis, hastened to pay
his respects to the governor, when he came, in consequence of the
permission of Mr. Macarty to inhabit that town. He relates, that on this
occasion, the governor received him very well, pitied him much, and
protested that if he had not been taken better care of, it was not his
fault: Mr. Schmalz, allowed, that he had been the worst treated of all the
shipwrecked persons, a thing which he had long known; "But, added he, your
misfortunes are terminated, and henceforward you will want for nothing. I
will send you, every day, very good rations of rice, meat, good wine, and
excellent bread; besides, in a short time, I will put you to board with Mr.
Monbrun, where you will be extremely well off." These last promises were as
unavailing as the first had been. One day, however, in a fit of the fever,
Mr. Corréard sent his servant to the governor with a note, in which he
asked for a bottle of wine, and one of brandy; he, in fact, received what
he had asked for; but when he was recovered from his delirium, he was going
to send back these two bottles; however, on reflection, he thought it would
not be proper, and he resolved to keep them. This is all that he was able
to obtain from the French authorities, during five month's time that he
remained at Saint Louis. It is even probable that he would have returned to
France without having cost his government the smallest trifle, but for that
fit of the fever, which deprived him of his reason, and during which, be
made the request which he afterwards thought to be indiscreet and improper.

On the 23rd, or 24th of November, he again saw his two benefactors Major
Peddy and Captain Campbell, who were about to depart on their great
expedition to the interior of Africa.

At the moment of their separation, Major Peddy was eager to give to Mr.
Corréard the last marks of true friendship, not only by his inexhaustible
generosity, but also by good advice, which the event has rendered very
remarkable, and which, for this reason, we think it necessary to mention
here. The following is pretty nearly the discourse which the good Major
addressed to Mr. Corréard at their last interview: "Since your intention,"
said he, "is to return to France, allow me, first of all, to give you some
advice; I am persuaded that, if you will follow it, you will one day have
reason to congratulate yourself on it. I know mankind, and without
pretending exactly to guess how your Minister of the Marine will act
towards you, I, nevertheless, think myself justified in presuming that you
will obtain no relief from him; for, remember that a minister, who has
committed a fault, never will suffer it to be mentioned to him, nor the
persons or things presented to him, that might remind him of his want of
ability;[49] therefore, believe me, my friend; instead of taking the road
to Paris, take that to London; there you will find a number of
philanthropits, who will assist you, and I can assure you that
henceforward, you will want for nothing. Your misfortunes have been so very
great that there is no Englishman who will not feel a pleasure in assisting
you. Here, Sir, are 300 francs, which will suffice for the expences of your
voyage, whether you go to Paris or to London. Reflect a moment on what I
propose to you, and if your resolution is such as I wish you to take, let
me know it immediately, that I may give you letters of recommendation to
all my friends, as well as to my patrons, who will be truly happy to serve

Mr. Corréard was deeply affected by what he had just heard; the noble
generosity of the excellent man to whom he already owed his life, and who
entered with such perfect readiness, into all the details which he thought
the most proper to finish his work, and insure the happiness of his poor
friend, filled the heart of the latter with emotion and gratitude; yet,
shall we say it? The advice to go to London, which the Major had just given
him, had in it something that distressed him; he had not heard it without
recollecting that he was a Frenchman, and some secret suggestions of
self-love and national pride, told him that a Frenchman who had served his
country, and to whom unparalleled misfortunes had given so many claims to
the justice, as well as to the kindness of his own government, could not,
without offering a kind of insult to his fellow countrymen, begin by going
to England, and there throwing himself on the public compassion. These
sentiments, therefore, suggested much more by his heart than by his
understanding, dictated his answer to the Major.

It was not difficult for him to express, with warmth, all the gratitude
which he owed him, for the noble and delicate manner in which he had sought
him out, and relieved him in his misfortune.

"As for the pecuniary assistance which you still offer me," continued he,
"I accept it with great pleasure, because benefits conferred by you, can
only do honour to him who receives them, and because I hope, one day, to
repay this debt with interest, to your countrymen, if I can meet with any
who have need of my assistance. As for your other proposal, Major, allow me
not to be of your opinion, and to have a little more confidence in the
generosity of my government, as well as in that of my countrymen. If I
acted otherwise, would you not be authorised to have a bad opinion of the
French character and then, I appeal to yourself, generous Englishman,
should not I have lost my claims to your esteem? Believe me, Major, France
can also boast of a great number of men, whose patriotism and humanity may
rival those which are so frequently found in Great Britain. Like you we are
formed to the sentiments, to the duties which compose the true love of our
country and of liberty. In returning to France, I firmly believe that I
return into the bosom of a great family. But if, contrary to my
expectation, it were possible that I should find myself, one day, abandoned
by my government, as we were by some men who have nothing French about them
but their dress; if France, which so often and so nobly welcomes the
unfortunate of other countries, should refuse pity and assistance to her
own children, then, Major, should I be obliged to seek, elsewhere, a
happier fate and a new country: there is no doubt but that I should chuse
that of my generous benefactors in preference to every other."

Major Peddy answered Mr. Corréard only by tears. The transport of
patriotism, in which the latter had naturally indulged himself, had found,
as may be supposed, the heart of the noble Briton, in harmony with that of
him whom he protected; he felt a visible satisfaction, and an emotion which
he did not attempt to dissemble. The Major closely embraced Mr. Corréard,
bidding him farewell for ever; it seemed that this worthy man forsesaw his
approaching end.

He was in fact destined to sink beneath the fatigues of the journey which
he was about to undertake.

This expedition was composed, besides the Major, who commanded in chief,
and the Captain, who was the second in command, and charged with the
astronomical observations, of a young Physician, who was third in command;
of Mr. Kummer, the naturalist (a Saxon naturalized in France); of a
Mulatto, who acted as interpreter; of thirty white soldiers, almost all
workmen; of a hundred black soldiers, and of about ten camels, a hundred
and fifty horses, as many asses, and a hundred oxen to carry burdens; so
that there were above a hundred and thirty men, and four hundred animals.
All the equipages were embarked on board six small vessels, which ascended
the Rio Grande to the distance of about fifty leagues up the country. The
respectable commander of this expedition could not resist the influence of
the climate; he was attacked by a cruel disease, which terminated his
existence a few days after his departure from the island of St. Louis. Such
men ought to be imperishable[50].

The English physicians finding that the health of Mr. Corréard far from
improving, seemed on the contrary, to decline more and more, persuaded him
to return to France. These gentlemen gave him a certificate of such a
nature, that the French governor could not object to his departure; he
received his request perfectly well, and two days after his passage was
secured; but we shall see in the sequel what was the motive of this
favorable attention to his request.

On the 28th of November, in the morning, he embarked on board of a coasting
vessel, which conveyed him first on board the _Loire_, which was bound for
France: he was no sooner embarked, than the fever seized him, as it did
almost every day; he was in a dreadful situation, weakened by five months'
illness, consumed by a burning fever, added to the heat of the noon-day
sun, which struck perpendicularly on his head; he thought he was going to
die; he had, besides, painful vomitings, produced by the heat, and by an
indisposition caused by the fish on which he had breakfasted before his
departure. The little vessel crossed the bar; but it falling a dead calm,
it could not proceed: they perceived this on board the _Loire_, and
immediately dispatched a large boat to fetch the passengers out of the heat
of the sun. While this boat was coming, Mr. Corréard fell asleep upon a
coil of cables that were on the deck of the little vessel; but before he
fell quite asleep, he heard some one say, "_There's one who will never get
to France_." The boat came in less than a quarter of an hour; all those who
were about my sick friend, embarked on board the boat, without any one's
having the generosity to awaken him; they left him asleep, exposed to the
beams of the sun; he passed five hours in this situation, after the
departure of the boat. In his life he had never suffered so much, except
during the thirteen days on the raft. When he asked, on awaking, what was
become of the other gentlemen, he was told that they were gone, and that
not one of them had shewed any intention of taking him with them. A breeze
springing up, his vessel at last reached the _Loire_, and there on the
deck, in the presence of the sailors, he reproached in the bitterest
manner, those who had abandoned him, and even said offensive things to
them. These sallies, the consequence of his exasperation, caused him to be
looked upon as out of his mind, and nobody troubled himself about the
severe truths which he had thus publicly uttered. The _Loire_ sailed on the
1st of December, and arrived in France on the 27th of the same month.

When Mr. Corréard got to Rochefort, he waited on the Intendant of the
Marine, who received him kindly, and authorised him to remain in the
hospital as long as he should think necessary for his recovery. He was
placed in the officers' ward, where he received the utmost attention from
the medical gentlemen, who besides the aid of their art, shewed him the
greatest regard and mitigated his misfortunes by kind consolations. Mr.
Savigny saw every day his companion in misfortune, and he often repeated,
"I am happy, I have at length met with men sensible to my misfortunes."
After having passed thirty-three days in this fine hospital, he judged his
health sufficiently recovered, and desired to leave it, in order to go to
his family.

We shall here conclude the nautical part of our history; but as, since our
return to France, particular circumstances and a series of events, which we
were far from foreseeing, have, as it were prolonged the chain of our
adventures, we think it will not be amiss to add another article,
respecting what has happened to us since we have returned to our country.

Mr. Savigny thought, that after having undergone unexampled misfortunes, he
had a right to describe all the sufferings to which he and his companions
in misfortune had been exposed for thirteen days. Was it ever heard that
the unhappy were forbidden to complain? Well, the fresh misfortunes which
have befallen him, and which he is going to lay before our readers, have
arisen, from his not having buried in silence these disastrous events.

During his passage on board the _Echo_, he wrote the account of our unhappy
adventures; his intention was to deliver his narrative to the Minister of
the Marine. When he arrived in France, in the month of September, some
persons advised him to go to Paris, where, said they, "_Your misfortunes
will procure you the favor of the Ministry_," and it was considered as an
absolute certainty, that some recompense would make him forget the
considerable losses which he had sustained, the dangers which he had just
escaped; and the pain arising from his wounds, for at that time he still
wore his right arm in a sling. He listened to the advice which was given
him, because it came from very sensible persons, and set out for the
capital, carrying his manuscript with him. He arrived at Paris on the 11th
of September: his first care was to go to the office of the Minister (of
the Marine), where he deposited all the papers which he had drawn up
respecting the shipwreck of the Medusa. But what was his astonishment to
see the day after, the _Journal des Débats_ of the 13th of September, an
extract from his narrative, copied almost literally: he then endeavoured to
discover whence the editors could have obtained these details; it cost him
but little time to solve the riddle.

We shall not here explain by what means his manuscript became known to the
editor of the _Journal_. We shall here content ourselves with saying, that
while Mr. Savigny was still at Brest, a person, who has connexions with the
officer of the marine, with the intention of serving him, asked him for a
copy of his memoir, saying, that by the medium of a person in office, he
could get it conveyed to the minister of the marine. This copy of our
adventures was entrusted to this person, and by him sent to Paris. Mr.
Savigny had acted in this manner, because his intention, at that time, was
to go to his family, without passing through the capital. It appears that
this copy was not discreetly kept, since it reached the editor of the
_Journal des Débats_: certainly, he who received it from Brest, was very
far from wishing to injure the author of the memoir. If he had had the
smallest idea of all the disagreeable consequences arising from the
publicity which he gave to the narrative, by shewing it to several persons,
he would have kept it more carefully, or at least, he would have delivered
it immediately to the minister of the marine for whom it was intended. This
publicity, by means of the _Journal_, drew upon Mr. Savigny the most
serious remonstrances. The very same day he was sent for to the office; he
was told that his excellency was discontented, and that, he must
immediately prove, that he was innocent of the publication of our
misfortunes, which affected all France, and excited a lively interest in
the fate of the victims. But for Mr. Savigny, every thing was changed;
instead of the interest, which his situation ought to inspire, he had
called down upon himself the severity of the minister, and was to justify
himself, for having dared to write that he had been very unfortunate, by
the fault of others. The reception he met with at the office affected him
so much, that but, for the advice of some persons, he would have resigned
his commission at once. There was but one means to prove, that it was not
he, who had given his narrative to the editor of the _Journal des Débats_:
this was to obtain the certificate of the editor himself. Conscious of the
truth, he went to him, and that honorable writer, without hesitation, did
homage to the truth, by the following certificate.

"I certify that it is not from Mr. Savigny, that I have the details of the
shipwreck of the Medusa inserted in the journal of the 13th of September,

(Signed)--The Editor of the _Journal des Débats_.

This certificate was put into the hands of M. ---- and by him presented to
his excellency, who, however, did not appear satisfied, because this
certificate, though it proved, that Mr. Savigny was not the person who had
rendered public the history of our adventures, threw no light on the means
by which the manuscript had become known to the editor. One of the
principal persons in the office, having signified to him the opinion of his
excellency, who found this justification insufficient, Mr. Savigny again
had recourse to the editor of the journal, who gave a second certificate as

"I certify, that it is not from Mr. Savigny, that I have the details
inserted in the Number of the 13th of September, but from the office of the
Minister of the Police." After this new proof, it was no longer doubted,
but that Mr. Savigny had been the victim of an indiscretion, and he was
told that he might return to his post. He therefore left the capital, after
having experienced many vexations; but those, which the publication of our
misfortunes was to cause him, were not yet at an end.

The English translated the details contained in the Journal of the 13th of
September, and inserted them in one of their Journals which reached
Senegal. In this amplified translation, there were some pretty strong
passages, which were far from pleasing the governor, and M. ------, one of
the officers of the frigate. They perceived that there was but one means to
combat the narrative; this was to endeavour to make it believed, that it
was false in many particulars. A report was therefore drawn up at St Louis;
it was brought to Mr. Corréard to be signed, who, after perusing it,
refused, because he found it contrary to the truth. The governor's
secretary came several times to the hospital, to urge him for his
signature; but he persisted in his refusal: the governor himself pressed
him very earnestly one day that he went to solicit leave to depart; he
answered, that he would never consent to sign a paper quite at variance
with the truth, and returned to his hospital. The next day, his friend, Mr.
Kummer, went to him, and invited him to return to the governor's, in order,
at length, to sign this paper, because he had been informed, that if he
persisted in his refusal, he should not return to France. These gentlemen,
must therefore, have felt themselves deeply interested, to be reduced to
employ such measures towards an unfortunate man, exhausted by a long
sickness, and whose recovery depended on his return to Europe, which they
thought not to grant him, except on condition of his signing a false
narrative, contrary to what he had himself seen; for one paragraph was
employed to prove that the towrope had _broken_; could he sign it, who was
himself an eye witness, and who had been assured by more than twenty
persons, that it had been _made loose_. Besides this falsehood, it was
stated one passage, that, when the raft was left, the words _we abandon
them_, were not pronounced; in another passage, that Mr. Savigny, in
publishing his account, had shewn himself ungrateful to his officers, who
had done every thing to serve him personally; there were, besides, some
improper personalities: he was in particular much surprised to see at the
bottom of this paper, the signature of a man, whose life Mr. Savigny had
saved with his own hand.[51] Mr. Corréard's perseverance in withholding his
signature, triumphed over injustice, and his return to Europe was no longer
retarded. But the same manoeuvres had more success in another quarter, and
Messrs. Dupont, Lheureux, Charlot, Jean Charles, and Touche-Lavilette could
not escape the snare which was laid for them. They were labouring under
that terrible fever which carried off the French with so much rapidity,
when they were invited by the governor to sign this narrative. Some yielded
to the fear of displeasing his excellency; others conceived hopes of
obtaining his protection, which, in the colonies is no trifling advantage;
others again were so weak, that they were not even able to make themselves
acquainted with the paper to which they were desired to put their names. It
was thus, that our companions were induced to give testimony against
themselves, to certify the contrary of what they had seen respecting all
that had been done, to bring about our destruction. Our readers have just
seen the noble disavowal of Mr. Griffon, of the false impressions which had
deceived him in respect to us: in order that the reader may be able to form
a just opinion of the report directed against us, we insert here a document
equally precise and decisive: it is a declaration of Mr. Touche-Lavillette,
who acknowledges, that he signed in confidence, a paper, the contents of
which were unknown to him, as well as the purpose for which it was drawn

Thus supported by authorities, the value of which any body can now
appreciate, this tardy and inexact report was addressed to the minister of
the marine. Mr. Corréard, when he landed at Rochefort, informed Mr. Savigny
of it, and gave him a certificate of what has been just related. The latter
procured two others, which were delivered to him, by those of his
companions in misfortune, who were in France. These certificates will be
found in the notes (54) (55) (56).

Provided with these three certificates, Mr. Savigny solicited permission to
go to Paris, in order to be able to let his excellency see, that they were
seeking to deceive him. Two months passed without information. Mean time,
Mr. Corréard departed for the capital, taking a letter from his comrade,
for a person in the office, to whom it was delivered, and who did not give
a decisive answer to what was asked of him. At length, Mr. Savigny received
a letter from Paris, in which he was informed, "That not only he would not
receive the permission which he solicited, but that, as long as the present
minister was at the head of affairs, he would have no promotion." This
letter, which he had so long expected, was dated May 10, 1817. Mr. Savigny
disgusted by all that he had just experienced, gave in his resignation,
after having served six years, and made as many expeditions by sea. On
leaving the service, this medical officer, who had several times narrowly
escaped perishing in the waves, was honored by the regret of the superiors
under whom he has been employed, as may be judged by the copy of the [57]
certificate, which they gave him when he resigned his situation. Fresh
misfortunes have also befallen Mr. Corréard, from the time that he left
Rochefort, till the moment that he was able to join his companion in
misfortune, to write together the account of their shipwreck.

On the 4th of February 1817, thinking himself entirely recovered, he
resolved to set out for Paris, where business rendered his presence
necessary; but as his pecuniary resources were slender, and he had been at
considerable expence to clothe himself, (for he was almost naked when he
landed from the _Loire_) he thought he could make the journey on foot. On
the first day he felt only a slight pain, on the second it increased, and
on the third, the fever seized him. He was then three leagues from
Poitiers, near a very little village: exhausted with fatigue, and weakened
by the fever, he resolved to go to the mayor, and ask him for a billet;
this functionary was from home, but his wife said, that at all events, it
would be necessary first to obtain the consent of Monsieur the Marquis de
------ Colonel of the National Guard. The weary traveller thought there
could be no impropriety in waiting on the Marquis: he was deceived in his
expectation; the Colonel gave him a very bad reception, and was insensible
to his entreaties; it was in vain that he shewed him his certificates, his
pass, his wounds, and even his arms which shook with the fever: nothing
could move him. The unfortunate invalid, in despair, retired, cursing the
inhumanity, which he had not expected to find in an officer of the National
Guard, promising in his own mind, never to forget his illustrious name, and
the unfeeling manner in which he had answered to his requests. Exhausted as
he was, he was obliged to drag on another weary league on foot, in order to
reach a public house where he might rest himself. The next day, with much
difficulty, he got to Poitiers. He had the happiness to find a man of
feeling in the Mayor, who was much affected by his melancholy situation; it
was, indeed, calculated to excite interest; for a few minutes before he
entered the town-hall, he fainted, but the most charitable assistance was
bestowed on him by a respectable lady, and he soon recovered from this
swoon. One of the clerks soon gave him a billet, assuring him that it was
upon one of the best houses in the town; which was true; and the poor
invalid owns, that in his life, he never has received more affectionate
care than that which he met with in the house of Mr. Maury, proprietor of
the hotel of the Roman Antiquities. Poitiers was therefore a place of
happiness for him. It was soon known in the town, that one of the
shipwrecked persons from the raft, was within its walls; and during the
whole day nothing was spoken of but that melancholy event. Two persons,
well known for their talents, and the high offices which they have filled,
came to the relief of Mr. Corréard: both had been formerly exiled; they
knew what misfortune was, and knew how to pity that of an unhappy man, who
had just experienced such extraordinary hardships; they invited him to
spend the whole of the fine season at their country houses; but desiring to
reach Paris as soon as possible, he refused the generous offer that was
made him, and after having rested three days at Poitiers, he left it by the
diligence, and at last arrived in the capital.

On his arrival, his first step was directed by gratitude; he recollected
the signal services which he had received from the English officers, during
his abode at Saint Louis; and his heart urged him to enquire of the
ambassador of that nation, if he had not received any intelligence
respecting his benefactors.[58]

After he had thus discharged the duty which was imposed on him by their
beneficence, he made all the necessary applications to the office of the
Marine to obtain an employment in the capital. He was answered that it was
impossible, advising him to make an application for a situation in the
colonies, particularly Cayenne. Three months passed in useless
solicitations to obtain this employment, as well as the decoration of the
legion of honour, which he had been led to hope for.

During this time he neglected nothing which he thought might conduce to
enable him to attain the object which he thought he might propose to
himself without being accused of extravagant pretensions. Excited by the
advice of a great many persons, whose judgment, as well as their noble and
generous sentiments, commanded implicit confidence, he resolved to go to
the very fountain of favors, to carry into the royal palace the sight of
his strange misfortune, to invoke that hereditary goodness, the bright
patrimony of the Bourbons, which so many other unfortunate persons have not
solicited in vain. But the malignant influence of the adverse star, which
so long persecuted Mr. Corréard, doubtless continued to manifest itself
here. Neither he nor any other person will accuse the heart of the august
personages to whom he addressed his petition; but whether timidity, the
natural concomitant of misfortune, or a certain delicacy, hindered him from
renewing his applications, for fear of seeming importunate, whether, as in
the crowd of solicitors who surround princes, it is morally impossible that
some should not be forgotten or less remarked, Mr. Corréard's ill-fortune
placed him among this less favored number, or whether it be the effect of
some other unknown adverse cause, he obtained on this side only vain hopes,
as well as a just idea of the obstacles of every kind, with which the best
princes are, as it were, surrounded without being conscious of it, and
which keep back or turn aside the favor, which is always granted in their
heart, just at the moment that it is on the point of being declared.

He first presented a petition to His Royal Highness Monsieur. He solicited
the insignia of that order which was instituted to recompence all kinds of
civil and military merit, to spread among all classes of society, the noble
flame of emulation, of that order which was offered to Goffin, whose
firmness forced his desponding companions, to hope for the assistance that
was preparing for them: which has just been given to several of the
shipwrecked crew of _La Caravane_,[59] who in their disaster, shewed
themselves equally generous and intrepid; but who, however, had nothing to
complain of but the elements, nothing to combat but the tempest.

He has every reason to believe that Monsieur had the goodness to sign his
petition; but he has not been able to discover where, or how it has been
lost on the way without reaching its destination. In the inquiries which he
made at the office of the Prince's Secretary, he met with a young man
eighteen or 20 twenty years of age, who already wore the same mark of merit
which Mr. Corréard desired, and who only expressed an astonishment which
was more than disobliging, at the subject of his demand, asking him if he
had been twenty-five years in the service. Mr. Corréard, feeling on his
side something more than surprise, thought it best to withdraw, but not
till he had observed to this very young man, that he who appeared so
difficult about the claims of others must, according to appearance, in
order to obtain the cross of the legion of honor, have got the years of his
ancestors services counted instead of his own.

His friends again persuaded him to petition the Duke d'Angouleme, from
whom, as High-Admiral of France, these friends thought that Mr. Corréard
might expect an intervention more likely to promote the success of his
application to the Minister of the Marine. He therefore went to the
Tuileries on the 8th of May, and though his wounds still rendered walking
painful to him, he had the good fortune to meet with the Prince as he was
coming from a review, and to present him a memorial as he passed. His Royal
Highness received him graciously, expressed his satisfaction at seeing one
of the persons who had escaped from the fatal raft, and pressing his hand
in the most affable manner, said to him, "My friend, you have experienced
very great misfortunes. It seems that amidst these disasters you have
behaved well." After having run over the memorial, the Prince was pleased
to add: "Thus it is that the King should be served; I will recommend you
to His Majesty, and let him know your conduct and your situation."

These marks of kindness have hitherto been all that Mr. Corréard has
obtained by this memorial. However, His Royal Highness transmitted it to
the navy-office, but there is every reason to suppose that it will remain
buried there amidst the mass of papers; from which it might be presumed
that the recommendations of princes are received with great indifference by
the clerks of ministers, and that their offices are the shoals where the
petitions of the unhappy are lost; in fact, a man of great experience, to
whom Mr. Corréard communicated this mischance, told him, that, in such an
affair, he would rather have the protection of the meanest clerk, than that
of the first prince of the blood.

We think it superfluous to detain the reader any longer, with two or three
other attempts, which were still more unfortunate, and only revived painful
recollections in the mind of Mr. Corréard.

At last he received a letter from the Minister of the Marine, dated the 4th
of June: it was a thunder-clap to him, for he was made to understand that
all his applications would probably be in vain.

However, on the 20th of July, he received a note from Mr. Jubelin, inviting
him to call at the Office of the Marine. His heart opened at this ray of
hope; it was merely to know whether it were true, that he had received a
pass to repair from Rochefort to his home. He answered in the affirmative,
which seemed to cause much surprise, for one had just been refused to Mr.
Richefort, who solicited it in vain, though he was also one of those
shipwrecked. He profited by the opportunity to inquire whether the
expedition to Cayenne was soon to depart? A vague answer being returned, he
represented how unfortunate he and his companions on the raft were, that
they could obtain nothing, while some officers of the frigate had been
appointed to commands. Mr. Jubelin answered that the minister owed them
nothing, and particularly to him: that he had gone of his own free will,
and had engaged to ask nothing of the minister, except what was stipulated
and mentioned in the treaty of May 16, 18l6, by which His Excellency made
to the explorers, numerous concessions (which it would be too long to
mention here) on condition that they should correspond with His Excellency,
through the Governor of Senegal; that they should be placed under the
orders of that governor, and that they should undertake nothing without his

The impartial public will judge if, after such conventions, and having
allowances, and passes from the government, it was to be presumed that he,
who had been thus treated, would be told that they owed him nothing, not
even assistance.

He learned, in the office, that the counsellor of State, Baron de Portal,
had the intention to obtain for him, the decoration of the Legion of Honor,
and that, for this purpose, he had had a memorial drawn up in his favour:
but the minister had written in the margin, _"I cannot lay this request
before the King."_ Thus the voice of the unfortunate Corréard could not
reach the throne; the minister would not permit it. Doubtless if His
Majesty had been informed, that some unhappy Frenchmen, who had escaped
from the raft of the Medusa, had long and in vain solicited his minister,
his paternal goodness would have given them proofs of his justice and his
benevolence. His kind hand which is extended even to the guilty, by
conferring his favors upon us his faithful subjects, would have made us
forget our misfortunes and our wounds; but no, an unfriendly power, between
us and the throne, was an insuperable barrier, which stopped all our

Mr. Corréard persuaded of the inutility of making fresh applications, gave
up for the present all farther solicitation for what he had so well
deserved by his courage and his services. The change in the ministry has
revived his hopes: a letter from that department informs him that his
Excellency would willingly embrace an opportunity to serve him[60].

A minister, when he is really so disposed, easily finds means to employ an
unfortunate man who asks but little.

Such are the vexations which we have experienced since our return to
France: now returned to the class of citizens, though reduced to
inactivity, after having exhausted our resources in the service, disgusted,
forgotten, we are not the less devoted to our country and our king. As
Frenchmen, we know that we owe to them our fortune and our blood. It is
with the sincere expression of these sentiments that we shall conclude the
history of our adventures.

In fine, we think that the reader will not be sorry to have some notices
concerning the French settlements on the coast of Africa. As they seemed to
us very interesting, we shall examine, but briefly, the places themselves,
and the advantages that might be derived from them.

These details will be a happy digression from the sad accounts of our
misfortunes, and as the object of them is of great public utility, they
will not be out of their place at the conclusion of a work, in which, we
have thought it our duty, less for our own interest, than that of the
public service, to employ our humble efforts for the disclosure of the

The part of the coast beginning at Cape Blanco, and extending to the arm of
the river Senegal, called the _Marigot_ of the Maringouins; is so very
arid, that it is not fit for any kind of cultivation; but from that
_Marigot_, to the mouth of the river Gambia, a space, which may be about a
hundred leagues, in length, with a depth of about two hundred, we meet with
a vast country, which geographers call _Senegambia_.

Let us remark, however, before we go any further, that, notwithstanding the
sterility of this part of the coast; it is not without importance, on
account of the rich produce of the sea which bathes it. _The agriculture of
the waters_ as a celebrated naturalist has said, offers too many
advantages, for the places that are adapted to it, to pass unobserved: this
part of the sea, known by the name of the Gulph of Arguin, is especially
remarkable for the immense quantity of fish which visit it, at different
seasons, or which continually frequent these shores. This gulph, included
between Capes Blanco and Merick and the coast of Zaara, on which, besides
the isle of Arguin which was formerly occupied, there are several others at
the mouth of what is called the river St. John, is as it were closed
towards the west, in its whole extent, by the bank which bears its name.
This bank, by breaking the fury of the waves, raised by the winds of the
ocean, contributes by securing the usual tranquillity of its waters, to
render it a retreat for the fish, at the same time that it also favors the
fishermen. In fact, it is from this gulph, that all the fish are procured
which are salted by the inhabitants of the Canaries, and which constitute
their principal food. They come hither every spring in vessels of about 100
tons burden, manned by 30 or 40 men, and they complete their operations
with such rapidity, that they seldom employ more than a month. The
fishermen of Marseilles and Bayonne might attempt this fishery. In short,
whatever advantage may be sought to be derived from this gulph, so rich in
fish, it may be considered as the African Bank of Newfoundland, which may
one day contribute to supply the settlements of Senegambia, if the
Europeans should ever succeed in establishing them to any extent. Among the
species of fish found in this gulph, there is one, which seems peculiar to
itself; it is that, which was caught on board the Medusa, and is the
principal object of the fishery in these seas. An accurate description had
been made of it, and Mr. Kummer made an exact drawing of it; but all was
lost with the frigate. All that can be recollected of this description, is,
that these fish which are from two to three feet long, are of the genus
_Gade_ or _Morue_ (cod); that they do not appertain to any of the species
mentioned by Mr. Lacépède, and that they belong to the section in which the
_Merlan_ is placed.

Whence comes the name of Arguin?  who gave it to this gulph? If we consider
the heat of the sun which is experienced here, and the sparkling of the
sandy downs which compose the coast, we cannot help remarking that _Arguia_
in Phenician means what is _luminous_ and _brilliant_, and that in Celtic,
_Guin_ signifies _ardent_. If this name comes from the Carthaginians, who
may have frequented these coasts, they must have been particularly struck
with their resemblance to the famous Syrtes in their own neighbourhood,
which mariners took so much care to avoid.

    _Exercitas aut petit Syrtes Noto._

Some division of territory, or of pasturage among the hordes of the desert,
was doubtless the cause, that the Europeans, who desired to carry on the
gum trade, formerly chose the dangerous bay of Portendic, surrounded by a
vast amphitheatre of burning sands, in preference to Cape Merick. Perhaps,
the Trasas of the west, could not advance to the north of this bay, without
quarrelling with the other Moors, who frequent Cape Blanco. This Cape
Merick seems preferrable for commerce, either as a factory, to trade with
the Moors, or as a place of protection for the traders, and the fishery.
Its elevation and nature, afford a facility of defence, which is not found
at Portendic; where there is not at present the smallest appearance of

The Estuary of the river, St. John, at the back of this Cape, is now
entirely destitute of verdure, and humidity, and salt is abundant in the

But, as we have said above, it is when we penetrate a little into the
interior, that an immense country, rich in the gifts of nature, invites
European cultivation, and offers the fairest prospect of success for the
colonial productions.

The soil is in general good, and all colonists from the Antilles, who have
visited these countries, think that they are well adapted to the
cultivation of all kinds of colonial produce. This immense country is
watered by the Senegal and the Gambia, which bound it to the north and
south. The river Falémé crosses it in the eastern part, as well as many
other less considerable rivers, which, flowing in different directions,
water principally that part covered with mountains which is called the high
country, or the country of Galam. All these little rivers fall at length
into the two large ones, of which we have spoken above.

These countries are very thickly peopled, and are in general mild and
hospitable. Their villages are so numerous, that it is almost impossible to
go two leagues without meeting with some, that are very extensive and very
populous. Nevertheless, we have no more than two settlements; those of St.
Louis and Goree; the others, which were seven or eight in number, have been
abandoned; either, because the French and the English, who have occupied
them in turn, have wished to concentrate the trade in the two settlements
which still exist; or because the natives no longer found the same
advantage in bringing their goods and slaves. It is, however, true, (as we
have been assured) that in consequence of the abolition of those factories,
the considerable commerce which France carried on upon this coast before
the revolution, has been reduced to one fourth of its former extent.[A14]

The town of St. Louis, the seat of the general government, is situated in
longitude 18° 48' 15" and in latitude 16° 4' 10". It is built on a little
island formed by the river Senegal, and is only two leagues distant from
the new bar formed by the inundation of 1812. Its situation in a military
point of view, is pretty advantageous, and if art added something to
nature, there is no doubt, but this town might be rendered almost
impregnable; but in its present state, it can hardly be considered as any
thing more than an open town, which four hundred resolute men, well
commanded, might easily carry. At the mouth of the river is a bar, which is
its strongest bulwark. It may even be said, that it would be impossible to
pass it, if it were well guarded; but the coast of the point of Barbary,
which separates the river from the sea is accessible; it would be even
possible, without meeting with many obstacles, and with the help of flat
bottomed boats, to land troops and artillery upon it. When this landing is
once made, the place may be attacked on the side of the north, which is
entirely destitute of fortifications. There is no doubt, but that, if it
were attacked in this manner, it would be forced to surrender at the first
summons. However, many have hitherto considered it as impregnable,
believing that it was impossible to make a landing on the coast of Barbary.
but as we are convinced of the contrary, because the English already
executed this manoeuvre at the last capture of this place, we venture to
call the attention of the government to the situation of St. Louis, which
would certainly become impregnable if some new works were erected on
different points.

This town has, in other respects, nothing very interesting in it, only the
streets are strait, and pretty broad, the houses tolerably well built and
airy. The soil is a burning sand, which produces but few vegetables: there
are only eight or ten little gardens, containing from two to four _ares_ of
ground at the most, all cultivated, and in which, within these few years
orange and lemon trees have been planted, so that there is reason to
suppose, that, with some care, these trees would thrive perfectly well. Mr.
Corréard saw a fig-tree and an European vine, which are magnificent, and
bear a large quantity of fruit. Since the colony has been restored to the
French several kinds of fruit-trees have been planted, which thrive in an
extraordinary manner. Five or six _palatuviers_, and a dozen palm trees are
dispersed about the town.

The parade is tolerably handsome; it is situated opposite the castle, and
what is called the fort and the barracks. On the west it is covered by a
battery of ten or twelve twenty-four pounders, and two mortars; this is the
principal strength of the island. On the east is the port, where vessels
lie in great safety. The population of the town amounts to 10,000 souls, as
the Mayor told Mr. Corréard. The inhabitants of the island are both
Catholics and Mahometans; but the latter are the most numerous,
notwithstanding this, all the inhabitants live in peace and the most
perfect harmony. There are no dissentions about religious opinions: every
one prays to God in his own manner; but it is observed, that the men who
have abjured Mahometanism, still retain the custom of having several wives.
We think that it would not be very difficult to abolish it among the
blacks, who are struck with the pomp of our religious ceremonies: they
would be much more inclined to the Catholic religion, if it tolerated
polygamy, a habit which will inevitably render all the efforts of the
Missionaries abortive, as long as they commence their instruction by
requiring its abolition.

The isle of St. Louis, by its important position, may command the whole
river, being placed at the head of an Archipelago of pretty considerable
islands: its extent is however small. Its length is 2,500 metres from north
to south; and its breadth from east to west is, at the north part, 370
metres; in the middle of its length 28 metres; and at the south only 170
metres. The elevation of its soil is not more than 50 centimetres above the
level of the river: in the middle it is however a little higher, which
facilitates the running of the waters. The river dividing to form the isle
of St. Louis has two arms, which reunite below the island: the principal
situated on the east is about 1000 metres in breadth, and that on the west
about 600. The currents are very rapid, and carry with them quantities of
sand, which the sea throws back towards the coast; this it is that forms a
bar at the mouth of the river; but the currents have opened themselves a
passage, which is called the _pass of the bar_. This pass is about 200
metres broad and five or six metres in depth. Very often these dimensions
are less; but at all times only such vessels can pass over it as draw four
metres water at the utmost: the overplus is very necessary for the pitching
of the vessel, which is always very considerable upon this bar. The waves
which cover it are very large and short; when the weather is bad, they
break furiously, and intimidate the most intrepid mariners.

The western arm of the river is separated from the sea by a point called
the _Point of Barbary_. It is inconceivable how this slip of land, which is
not above 250 metres in its greatest breadth, and is formed only of sand,
should be able to resist the efforts of the river, which always tends to
destroy it; and those of the sea, which breaks upon it sometimes with such
fury, that it covers it entirely, and even crossing the arm of the river,
comes and breaks on the shore of the island of St. Louis. Almost opposite
the château and on the Point of Barbary, is a little battery of six guns at
the most, which is called the _Fort of Guetander_; it is on the summit of a
hill of sand which has been formed by the wind, and increases daily; it is
even already pretty high, and is surrounded by a great number of huts of
the blacks, which form a pretty extensive village: these buts tend to hold
the sand together, and to prevent its sinking. The inhabitants of this
village are very superstitious, as the following anecdote will prove.

In the course of the month of September, Messrs. Kummer and Corréard
crossed the arm of the river, to visit the coast of Barbary and the village
of Guetander; when they landed on the point, they proceeded towards the
north, and having gone three or four hundred paces along the shore, they
found a turtle, the diameter of which was a metre at the least; it was
turned upon its back and covered with a prodigious quantity of crabs,
(_toulouroux_)[61] which are found along the sea-coast. Mr. Corréard
stopped a moment, and remarked that, when he had wounded one of these
animals with his cane, the others devoured it instantly. While he was
looking at these crabs feeding on the turtle, Mr. Kummer went on towards
the south, and visited the burying-places of the blacks. Mr. Corréard
joined him, and they saw that the natives erect over the tombs of their
fathers, their relations and friends, little sepulchres, some made of
straw, some of slight pieces of wood, and even of bones. All these frail
monuments are consecrated much more by gratitude than by vanity. The blacks
prohibit all approach to them in the strictest manner. Mr. Kummer, whom his
companion had left to return to the shore, was examining very tranquilly
these rustic tombs, when suddenly one of the Africans armed with a sabre,
advanced towards him, crouching and endeavouring to surprise him; Mr.
Kummer had no doubt but this man had a design upon his life, and retired
towards Mr. Corréard, whom he found again observing the crabs and the
turtle. On relating to him what had just passed, as they were unarmed, they
resolved immediately to pass the river, by throwing themselves into a boat;
they had soon reason to congratulate themselves on having done so, for they
perceived several men who had collected at the cries of the black, and, if
they had not taken flight, it is probable that their innocent curiosity
would have cost them their lives.

The left bank of the river, which is called Grande Terre, is covered with
perpetual verdure, the soil is fertile, and wants only hands to cultivate

Opposite, and to the east of St. Louis, is the isle of Sor, which is four
or five leagues in circumference; it is of a long and almost triangular
form: there are two extensive plains in it, where habitations might be
erected. They are covered with grass two metres in height, a certain proof
of the advantages that might be derived from the cultivation of this
island. Cotton and indigo grow there naturally, the ground is in some parts
low and damp, which gives reason to suppose that the sugar-cane would
succeed. It might be secured against the inundations which take place in
the rainy season, by erecting little causeways a metre in height, at the
most. There are in this island, principally on the east side, mangoes,
_palatuviers_, a great quantity of gum trees, or mimosas, and magnificent

Let us stop for a moment before this colossus, which, by the enormous
diameter to which it attains, has acquired the title of the _Elephant of
the vegetable kingdom_. The Baobab often serves the negroes for a dwelling,
the construction of which costs no further trouble than cutting an opening
in the side to serve as a door, and taking out the very soft pith which
fills the inside of the trunk. The tree, far from being injured by this
operation, seems even to derive more vigour from the fire which is lighted
in it for the purpose of drying the sap, by carbonising it. In this state
it almost always happens, that the bark, instead of forming a ridge at the
edge of the wound, as happens with some trees in Europe, continues to grow,
and at length covers the whole inside of the tree, generally without any
wrinkles, and thus presents the astonishing spectacle of an immense tree
recompleated in its organisation, but having the form of an enormous hollow
cylinder, or rather of a vast arborescent wall bent into a circular form,
and having its sides sufficiently wide asunder to let you enter into the
space which it encloses. If casting our eyes on the immense dome of verdure
which forms the summit of this rural palace, we see a swarm of birds
adorned with the richest colours, sporting in its foliage, such as rollers
with a sky-blue plumage, _senegallis_, of a crimson colour, souï-mangas
shining with gold and azure; if, advancing under the vault we find flowers
of dazzling whiteness hanging on every side, and if, in the center of this
retreat, an old man and his family, a young mother and her children meet
the eye, what a crowd of delicious ideas is aroused in this moment? Who
would not be astonished at the generous fore-sight of nature? and where is
the man who would not be transported with indignation if, while he was
contemplating this charming scene, he beheld a party of ferocious Moors
violate this peaceful asylum, and carry off some of the members of a
family, to deliver them up to slavery? It would require the pencil of the
author of the Indian Cottage, to do justice to such a picture.

This is not the only service which the blacks, who inhabit Senegambia,
derive from the Adansonia or Baobab. They convert its leaves, when dried,
into a powder which they call _Lalo_, and use it as seasoning to almost all
their food. They employ the roots as a purgative; they drink the warm
infusion of its gummy bark, as a remedy for disorders in the breast; they
lessen the inflamation of the cutaneous eruptions, to which they are
subject by applying to the diseased parts cataplasms made of the parenchyma
of the trunk: they make an astringent beverage of the pulp of its fruit;
they regale themselves with its almonds, they smoke the calyx of its
flowers instead of tobacco; and often by dividing into two parts the
globulous capsules, and leaving the long woody stalk fixed to one of the
halves, which become dry and hard, they make a large spoon or ladle.

It has been found that the substance, called very improperly, _terra
sigillata of lemnos_, is nothing more than the powder made of the pulp of
the fruit of the Baobab. The Mandingians and the Moors carry this fruit as
an article of commerce into various parts of Africa, particularly Egypt;
hence, it finds its way to the Levant. There it is that this pulp is
reduced to powder, and reaches us by the way of trade. Its nature was long
mistaken: Prosper Alpinus was the first who discovered that it was a
vegetable substance.

After the Isle of Sor, towards the South is that of Babagué, separated from
the former and that of Safal, by two small arms of the river; this island,
in an agricultural point of view, already affords a happy result to the
colonists, who have renounced the inhuman traffic in slaves, to become
peaceable planters. Many have already made plantations of cotton, which
they call lougans. Mr. Artique, a merchant, has hitherto been the most
successful. His little plantation brought him in 2400 fr. in 1814, which
has excited in many inhabitants of St. Louis a desire to cultivate pieces
of land there. After his example, we now see every where beginnings of
plantations, which already promise valuable crops to those who have
undertaken the cultivation of these colonial productions. The soil of
Babagué is more elevated than that of the surrounding islands. At its
southern extremity, which is precisely opposite the new bar of the river,
there is a very great number of huts of the blacks, a military post with an
observatory, and two or three country houses.

The Isle of Safal, belonging to Mr. Picard, offers the same advantages. Its
soil is fertile as that of the islands of which we have just spoken. No
drinkable water is found in any of them; but it would be easy to procure
excellent water by digging wells about two metres in depth.

Cotton and indigo grow every where spontaneously; what then is wanting, to
these countries, to obtain in them what the other colonies produce? Nothing
but some men, capable of directing the natives in their labours, and of
procuring them the agricultural implements, and the plants of which they
stand in need. When these men are found, we shall soon see numerous
habitations arise on the banks of this river, which will rival those in the
Antilles. The blacks love the French nation more than any other, and it
would be easy to direct their minds to agriculture. A little adventure,
which happened to Mr. Corréard, will shew to what a degree they love the

In the course of the month of September, his fever having left him for some
days, he was invited by Mr. François Valentin, to join a hunting party in
the environs of the village of Gandiolle, situated six leagues to the
South, South East of St. Louis. Mr. Dupin, supercargo of a vessel from
Bordeaux, who was then at Senegal, and Mr. Yonne brother of Mr. Valentin,
were of the party. Their intention was to prolong the pleasures of the
chace, for several days; in consequence, they borrowed a tent of the worthy
Major Peddy, and fixed themselves on the banks of the gulph which the
Senegal forms, since its ancient mouth is entirely stopped up, and a new
one formed, three or four leagues higher up than the former. There they
were only a short league from the village of Gandiolle. Mr. Corréard
directed his course, or rather his _reconnaissances_, a little into the
interior, for he had conceived the idea of taking a plan of the coast, and
of the islands formed by the Senegal. He was soon near to Gandiolle, and
stopped some moments at the sight of an enormous Baobob tree, the whiteness
of which much surprised him: he perceived it was covered with a cloud of
the birds called aigrettes.[63] He advanced across the village to the foot
of this tree, and fired two shot successively, supposing he should kill at
least twenty of these birds. Curiosity induced him to measure the
prodigious tree, on which they were perched, and he found that its
circumference was 28 metres. While he was examining this monstrous
production of the vegetable kingdom, the report of his piece had caused a
great many blacks to come out of their huts, who advanced towards Mr.
Corréard, doubtless, with the hope of obtaining from him some powder, ball,
or tobacco. While he was loading his piece, he fixed his eyes upon an old
man, whose respectable look announced a good disposition; his beard and
hair were white, and his stature colossal; he called himself Sambadurand.
When he saw Mr. Corréard looking at him attentively, he advanced towards
him, and asked him if he was an Englishman?  No, replied he, I am a
Frenchman.--How, my friend, you are a Frenchman! that gives me
pleasure.--Yes, good old man, I am.--Then the black tried to put on a
certain air of dignity to pronounce the word Frenchman, and said, "Your
nation is the most powerful in Europe, by its courage and the superiority
of its genius, is it not?"--Yes.--It is true that you Frenchmen are not
like the white men of other nations of Europe whom I have seen; that does
not surprise me; and then, you are all fire, and as good tempered as we
blacks. I think you resemble Durand in vivacity and stature; you must be as
good as he was; are you his relation?--No, good old man, I am not his
relation; but I have often heard speak of him.--Ah? you do not know him as
I do: it is now thirty years since he came into this country with his
friend Rubault, who was going to Galam. This Frenchman, whose language I
learned at St. Louis, loaded us all with presents; I still keep a little
dagger which he gave me, and I assure you that my son will keep it as long
as I have done. We always remember those white men who have done us good,
particularly the French whom we love very much.--"Well," answered Mr.
Corréard, "I am sorry I have nothing which can suit you, and be kept for a
long time, or I would offer it you with pleasure, and you would join the
remembrance of me with that of the philanthropic Durand, who had conceived
plans which, if they had been executed, would, perhaps, have been the glory
of my country, and the happiness of yours; but here, take my powder and
ball, if that can do you pleasure."--Ah! good Frenchman, I would willingly
take them, for I know that you have as much as you please in your own
country;[64] but at this moment it would deprive you of the pleasure of the
chace.--No, take it all.--Take my advice Toubabe: let us divide it, that
will be better. In fact, they divided. The black invited Mr. Corréard to
enter his hut to refresh himself. "Come Toubabe," said he, "come, my women
shall give you some milk and millet flour, and you shall smoke a pipe with

Mr. Corréard refused, in order to continue his sport, which was interrupted
by the cries of the blacks, who pursued a young lion, which came from the
village of Mouit, and attempted to enter that of Gandiolle; this animal had
done no harm, but the natives pursued him in the hopes of killing him, and
to sell his skin. Dinnertime being come, all the white hunters returned to
their tent. A few moments after, they saw a young negro, twelve years of
age at the most, whose mild and pleasant countenance was far from
indicating the courage and the strength which he had just displayed; he
held in his hands an enormous lizard quite alive, at least a metre and
eighty centimetres in length. These gentlemen were astonished to see this
child holding such a terrible animal, which opened a frightful pair of
jaws. Mr. Corréard begged Mr. Valentin to ask him how he had been able to
take, and pinion it in this manner. The child answered as follows in the
Yoloffe language: "I saw this lizard come out of a hedge, I immediately
seized it by the tail and hind feet: I raised it from the ground, and with
my left hand took it by the neck; and holding it very fast, and at a
distance from my body, I carried it in this manner to the village of
Gandiolle, where I met one of my companions, who tied his legs, and
persuaded me to come and present it to the Toubabes who are in the tent; he
told me also that they were Frenchmen, and as we love them much, I have
come to see them, and offer them this lizard." After these details, Mr.
Corréard presented the but end of his piece to the animal, which made a
deep indenture with its teeth; having then presented it the end of the
barrel, it immediately seized it furiously, and broke all its teeth, which
made it bleed very much; nevertheless, it made no effort to disengage
itself from its bonds.[65]

The environs of Gandiolle appear to be extremely fertile; we find there
grass two metres in height, fields of maize and millet. This country is
full of large pieces of water, which the natives call marigots; the major
part of which cover an immense space; but it would be easy to drain them by
means of some little canals, particularly in the part near the coast. These
lands would be very productive, and proper for the culture of the sugar
cane: the soil is mud mixed with very fine sand.[A15]

After having examined the environs of St. Louis, let us cast a glance upon
the rock called the Island of Goree, and its environs. This isle is nothing
of itself; but its position renders it of the greatest importance: it is
situated in longitude 19° 5', and in latitude 14° 40' 10", half a league
from the main land, and thirty-six leagues from the mouth of the Senegal.
The Cape de Verd Islands, are eighty leagues to the West. It is this
position that renders it mistress of all the commerce of these countries.
Its port is excellent; and so great a number of ships and boats are seen
there that its road is continually covered; there is so much activity that
some persons have said the Island of Goree was, perhaps, the point in the
world, where there was most bustle and population. The number of its
inhabitants is estimated at 5000 souls, which is by no means in proportion
with its confined surface, which is not above 910 metres in length, and 245
in breadth. Its circumference is not above 2000 metres. It is only a very
high rock, the access to the coasts, of which is very difficult. The
numerous rocks, which surround it on all sides, have made some navigators
give it the name of _Little Gibraltar_; and if nature were seconded by art,
there is no doubt but like that, it would become impregnable. It was first
taken possession of by Admiral d'Estrées, about the end of the year 1677.
This isle lies in the direction of S.S.E and N.N.W. and is only about 2600
metres distant from Cape Verd. It is defended by a fort, and by some small
batteries in very bad condition; but it is, nevertheless, impregnable by
its position. In fact, it is not accessible, except on the E.N.E. where
there is a pretty large and deep bay, capable of receiving the largest
ships. Its road is immense; vessels are safe in it, and tolerably well
sheltered. At two leagues from Goree is the bay of Ben, which affords the
greatest facilities for the careening of vessels, and for the repairs of
which they may stand in need.

The Island of Goree is cool during the evening, the night and the morning;
but during the day, there prevails in the island an unsupportable heat,
produced by the reflection of the sun's rays, which fall perpendicularly on
the Basalt rocks which surround it. If we add to this the stagnation of the
air, the circulation of which is interrupted by the houses, being very
closely built, a considerable population, which continually fills the
streets, and is beyond all proportion with the extent of the town, it will
be readily conceived that all these reasons, powerfully contribute to
concentrate here such insupportable heat, that one can scarcely breathe at
noon day. The blacks too, who certainly know what hot countries are, find
the heat excessive, and prefer living at St. Louis.

The Island of Goree may become of the greatest importance if the government
should ever think proper to establish a powerful colony, from Cape Verd to
the river Gambia; then this isle would be the bulwark of the settlements on
the coast of Africa. But it will be objected that Goree is very small, and
that great establishments can never be formed there; we think, only, that
it is proper to be the central point, till a greater colony shall be
established on Cape Verd, which nature seems to have intended for it, and
the advantages of which, in a military and maritime point of view, are of
the highest importance. Men of sound judgment who have examined it, have
considered it calculated to become one day a second Cape of Good Hope. It
is certain that, with time and by means of some works, this Cape would
become highly interesting, and would serve as a _dépôt_, to accustom to the
climate, such Europeans, as might wish to settle either in the projected
colonies, or on those which might be founded, between this Cape and the
Gambia, or on the islands of Todde, Reffo, Morphil, Bilbas, and even in the
kingdom of Galam.

The position and figure of Cape Verd are such, that it would be easy to
form there an excellent port at a small expense; perhaps it would not be
impossible to make some use of the Lake or _Marigot_ of Ben, which is but a
short distance from the sea. Its road, which is the same as that of Goree,
might almost serve as a port, even in its present state. The following is
an extract from a Letter, written to Mr. Corréard by a Physician, who has
carefully examined Cape Verd.

"This Cape is very different from what we thought. Its surface is not above
six or eight square leagues; its population is very numerous, and by no
means in proportion with the part of this peninsula, proper for
cultivation, which is not above one-third of its surface. Another third
serves for pasture for the flocks of the blacks; and the other part is too
much _vulcanised_, too full of rocks, to afford any hope of advantage in an
agricultural view. But its military position is admirable; all seems to
concur to render it impregnable, and it would even be easy to insulate it
entirely from the Continent, and to form upon it several ports, which
nature seems to have already prepared."

This letter likewise speaks of the advantages offered by the environs of
Rufisque, which are so well known, that we may dispense with speaking of
them here. We shall only mention as among the principal points to be
occupied, with the _mornes_ of Cape Rouge, Portudal, Joal, and Cahone, this
last on the river Salum near the Gambia; they are large villages, the
environs of which are covered with magnificent forests, and the soil of
which is perhaps the most fertile of any in Africa. For more ample accounts
of these countries, we refer to the excellent works of Messrs. Durand and
Geoffroy de Villeneuve, who have examined them like enlightened observers,
and perfectly well described them in their travels, only that they have too
much exaggerated the agricultural advantages of Cape Verd.

We shall not have the presumption to lay down plans, to propose systems, to
enforce such or such means for putting them in execution. We shall merely
terminate our task by some general considerations calculated to confirm
what numerous and able observers have already thought, of the importance of
the establishments in Africa, and of the necessity of adopting some general
plan of colonisation for these countries.

However pride, prejudice and personal interest, may deceive themselves
respecting the re-establishment of our Western Colonies, nobody will be
able longer to dissemble the inutility of attempts to persevere in a false
route. Calculation will at length triumph over blind obstinacy and false
reasonings. There is already a certain number of incontestable data, the
consequences of which must be one day admitted. And first, though some
persons who fancy that, like them the whole world have been asleep for
these twenty-five or thirty years, still dream of the submission of St.
Domingo, reasonably persons now acknowledge, that even were the final
success of such an enterprise possible, its real result would be, to have
expended, in order to conquer a desert, and ruins drenched in blood, ten
times more men and money than would be sufficient to colonise Africa. It is
well known, also, that the soil of Martinique is exhausted, and that its
productions will diminish more and more; that the small extent of
Guadaloupe confines its culture to a very narrow circle, and does not
permit it to offer a mass of produce sufficient to add much to the force of
the impulse, which a country like France, must give to all parts of its
agricultural and commercial industry. It is not to be doubted, but that
nature has given to French Guiyana the elements of great prosperity; but
this establishment requires to be entirely created; every thing has
hitherto concurred to prolong its infancy. There are not sufficient hands:
and how will you convey thither the requisite number of cultivators, when
you have proclaimed the abolition of the slave trade.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade: this is the principle, pregnant with
consequences, which should induce every enlightened government speedily to
change its whole colonial system. It would be in vain to attempt to prolong
this odious trade by smuggling, and thus still to draw from it some
precarious resources. This sad advantage would but keep open the wound
which has struck the western colonies, without being able to effect their
recovery, as is desired by those who seek to found their prosperity on the
regular farming out of one of the races of mankind. The slave trade is
abolished not only by religion, by treaties, by the consent of some powers,
by the calculations and interest of some others, which will not permit it
to be re-established; but it is abolished also by the light of the age, by
the wish of all civilised nations; by opinion, that sovereign of the world,
which triumphs over every obstacle, and subdues all that resist her laws.
Without the slave trade, you cannot transport to the West Indies those
throngs of men whose sweat and blood are the manure of your lands: on the
other hand, you see the Genius of Independence hover over the New World,
which will soon force you to seek friends and allies where you have
hitherto reckoned only slaves. Why then do you hesitate to prepare a new
order of things, to anticipate events, which time, whose march you cannot
arrest, brings every day nearer and nearer? Reason, your own interest, the
force of circumstances, the advantages of nature, the richness of the soil,
every thing tells you that it is to Africa, that you must carry culture and

Without entering into the question, whether the Government should reserve
to itself, exclusively, the right of founding colonies on that continent,
or whether it ought to encourage colonial companies, and depend on the
efforts of private interest suitably directed, let us be permitted to offer
some views, on the prudent and temperate course which ought to be laid
down, to arrive at a satisfactory result, not only in respect to the
civilization of the blacks, but even relatively to the commercial
advantages which the colonist must naturally have in view.

Though the abolition of the slave trade has been proclaimed, yet the
present slaves must be led to liberty only in a progressive manner. The
whites who are possessed of negroes, should not be allowed to prolong their
possession and their dominion over them, beyond the space of ten years, and
without being permitted to resell them during that period. During these ten
years, the negroes should be prepared for their new condition as well by
instruction as by the successive amelioration of their situation; it would
be necessary gradually to relax the chain of slavery; and by affording them
means to lay up a part of the produce of their labour, inspire them with
the desire, and the necessity of possessing something of their own.

After these ten years, which may be called a Noviciate, it is to be
presumed, that if lands were granted to them upon advantageous conditions,
fixed before hand, if they were furnished in case of need, with the
agricultural instruments, the use of which they would have learned, they
would become excellent cultivators: it is needless to remark that the man
who cultivates the soil, and whose labour the soil rewards, by its produce,
becomes strongly attached to the land, which supplies both his wants and
his enjoyments, and is soon led by family affections to the love of social
order, and to the sentiments which constitute a good citizen.

The blacks have been too long encouraged to sell their fellow-creatures,
for us to depend upon their soon forgetting this deplorable traffic. But
doubtless we ought to begin by renouncing the perfidious means of inflaming
their cupidity and their passions. The articles which they are the most
desirous to obtain from us, ought to be the price of the produce of the
soil, and no longer the means of exchange, and the aliment of this dreadful
traffic in human flesh. It would, however, be proper that, as long as
slaves should continue to arrive from the interior, the whites might buy
them. This permission should be granted for a time, and in a certain extent
of country. Their slavery should also be limited to ten years, as we have
said above, and their moral and physical improvement, should be directed in
such a manner as to attach them to the soil by exciting in them the love of

The laws and institutions which govern the mother country, would
incontrovertibly be applicable to the new establishments. It would
certainly be presumable, that on account of particular considerations of
moral and political order, it would be proper to allow local regulations,
in forming which, all proprietors enjoying the rights of citizenship, ought
to participate, without any distinction of colour. It would especially be
highly important, that the regulations for the government of the slaves,
should be founded on mildness and humanity, that prudent and enlightened
persons should superintend the execution of them, and have the necessary
authority to prevent abuses, and to secure to the slave the protection of
the law.

In order to obtain these results, it is evident that it would be no less
essential to preserve the colonies from the scourge of arbitrary authority,
from the excesses of power, which always accompany abuses, injustice, and
corruption. When favor and caprice are the only laws that are attended to;
when intrigue supplies the place of merit; when cupidity succeeds to
honorable industry; when vice and meanness are titles to distinctions, and
the true means of making a fortune; when honours are no longer synonimous
with honour; then society presents only disorder and anarchy, then people
renounce obscure virtue, and laborious acquisition to follow the easy ways
of corruption; then enlightened men, for whom public esteem is a sterile
recommendation, the true servants of the king, the faithful friends of
their country, are forced to disappear, to withdraw from employments, and
the interest of the public, as well as that of humanity, is miserably
sacrificed to the basest calculations, to the most guilty passions.

He who desires the end, desires the means of attaining it. The end at
present, should be to prepare every thing beforehand, and rather sooner
than later, in order to repair in Africa the past losses and disasters,
which irremediable events have caused in the Western Colonies, and to
substitute for their riches their prosperity, the progressive decline of
which is henceforward inevitable, new elements of wealth and prosperity:
the means will be to carry into these countries, so long desolated by our
relentless avarice, knowledge, cultivation, and industry. By these means we
shall see in that vast continent numerous colonies arise, which will
restore to the mother country all the splendour, all the advantages of her
ancient commerce, and repay her with interest for the sacrifices she may
have made in the new world. But to effect this, let there be no more secret
enterprises; no more connivance at fraudulent traffic, no more unhappy
negroes snatched away from their families; no more tears shed on that sad
African soil, so long the witness of so many afflictions; no more human
victims, dragged to the altars of the shameful, and insatiable divinities,
which have already devoured such numbers: consequently, let there be no
more grounds for hearing in the English Parliament, voices boldly
impeaching our good faith, attacking the national honour, and positively
asserting that France maintains in her African possessions, the system of
the slave trade in the same manner as she did before she consented to its

Africa offers to our speculators, to the enterprises of our industry, a
virgin soil, and an inexhaustible population peculiarly fitted to render it
productive. It must be our business to form them according to our views, by
associating them in these by a common interest. In conquering them by
benefits, instead of subjugating them by crimes, or degrading them by
corruption, let us lead them to social order and to happiness, by our moral
superiority, instead of dragging them under scourges and chains to misery
and death, we shall then have accomplished a useful and a glorious
enterprise; we shall have raised our commercial prosperity on the greatest
interest of those who have been the voluntary instruments of it, and above
all, we shall have expiated, by an immense benefit, this immense crime of
the outrages, with which we so long afflicted humanity.


[Transcriber's Note: These notes are put in the text with the
numbering Axx or Bxx]

The following Notes were communicated to the Authors, when the second
edition was already so far advanced, as to render it impracticable to
incorporate them with the body of the work, and they are therefore placed
at the end. Some of them are extracted from the Journal of Mr. Bredif, who
belonged to the expedition, and were communicated by his uncle, Mr. Landry;
the others are by an officer of merit, whose modesty prevents the
publication of his name.

The Translator has thought it would be more convenient to place these notes
in one series, referring to the pages to which they belong. Those of Mr.
Bredif, are signed (B) the others (A).


[A1] I.--_On the Route to Africa_.

In going from Europe to the western coasts of Africa, situated to the north
of the line, it is better still, to pass between the Azores and Madeira,
and not to come within sight of the coast, till you have nearly reached the
latitude of the point where you desire to land. Nothing but the necessity
of procuring refreshments can authorise vessels, bound to the Cape of Good
Hope, or to the south of America, to touch at the Canaries, or at the Cape
Verd Islands. Notwithstanding the depth of the channels between the first
of these islands, these seas, which are subject both to calms and
hurricanes are not without danger. By keeping at a distance, there is also
the advantage of avoiding the current of Gibraltar, and of not running the
risk of meeting with the north west winds, which generally prevail along
the desert, (and hitherto insufficiently known.) Coasts of Zaara, along
which the Medusa sailed to no purpose, and which winds also tend to impel
vessels upon the dangerous bank of Arguin. (A)

[A2] II.--_On the Manoeuvres before Funchal_.

The usual indecision, which the commander of the frigate displayed in all
his resolutions, joined to a little accident, made him change the intention
which he had expressed of presenting himself before Funchal. From a
singularity which nothing justified, he appeared to have more confidence in
one of the passengers, who had indeed, frequented these seas, than in any
of his officers, in respect to the management of the vessel. As they
approached Madeira, the vessel was worked almost entirely according to the
advice of this passenger; but suddenly the breeze, which is always strong
in the neighbourhood of these mountainous countries, fell when they got too
near it, the sails flagged, the current seemed rapid; but after some
hesitation in the manoeuvring of the vessel, which the officers soon put
into proper order, they recovered the wind, and it was resolved to steer
for Teneriffe. (A)

[A3] III.--_On the Islands of Madeira and Teneriffe_.

Madeira and Teneriffe seen on the side where their capital cities lie, have
a very different appearance. The first is smiling with cultivation from its
shores, almost to the summit of the mountains. Every where the eye
discovers only little habitations surrounded by vineyards and orchards of
the most delightful verdure: these modest dwellings surrounded by all the
luxuriance of vegetation, placed under an azure sky, which is seldom
obscured by clouds, seem to be the abode of happiness, and the navigator,
long wearied by the monotonous prospect of the sea, cheerfully hailed this
delightful prospect. Teneriffe, on the contrary, shews itself with every
mark of the cause by which it was formed. The whole south east side is
composed of black sterile rocks, which are piled together in an
extraordinary confusion; even to the environs of the town of Saint Croix,
scarcely any thing is seen, on the greater part of these dry and burnt
lands, but low plants, the higher of which are probably Euphorbia, or
thorny Cereus; and those which cover the ground, the hairy lichen,
_Crocella tinctoria_, which is employed in dying, and which this island
furnishes in abundance. Seen from the sea, the town, which is in the form
of an amphitheatre, appears to be situated in the recess, formed by two
distinct branches of mountains, of which the one towards the south, forms
the Peak properly so called; it is particularly remarkable at a distance
for its slender towers, and for the steeples of its churches, the
construction of which, calls to mind the arabic architecture. (A)

[A4] IV.--_On the Mouth of the River St. John_.

There is probably an error in this account: the river St. John, is much
more to the south, and on the north side of Cape Meric. The inlet, which
was perceived during the ceremony of the tropic, which was a little tardy,
is the gulf of St. Cyprian, into which the currents appear to set. Early in
the morning, and to the north of this gulph, they passed a little island,
very near the coast, and the black colour of which, owing doubtless to the
marine plants that cover it, made a striking contrast with the whiteness of
the sandy downs of the great desert, the abode of the Moors, and of wild
beasts.--_Tellus leonum arida nutrix_. (A)

[A5] V.--_On the reconnaissance of Cape Blanco_.

Mr. de Chaumareys gave notice in the course of this day, that he had a mind
to anchor at a cable's length from Cape Blanco. He talked of it till the
evening, but on going to bed he thought no more about it; however, he
continually repeated that the minister had ordered him to make that Cape;
and therefore, when somebody said the next morning, that this Cape was
supposed to have been seen at eight o'clock the preceding evening, it was
from that time forbidden to doubt of it; and either from deference or
persuasion it was agreed, but not without laughing, that the Cape had been
seen at the hour mentioned. It was from the course of the vessel at this
moment that the route was calculated till an observation was made at noon.

[A6] VI.--_On the Refusal to answer the Signals of the Echo_.

It would probably have been of no use to inform Mr. de Chaumarey's of the
signals of the Echo. The commander of the Medusa, the chief of the
division, had declared already in the roads of the island of Aix, his
intention to abandon his vessels, and to proceed alone in all haste to the
Senegal. Though he spoke of strictly following the pretended instructions
of the minister respecting the route to be followed, it was, however,
violating the principle one, since it is useless to form a division if it
is not to go together. The corvette, commanded by Mr. Venancourt succeeded,
it is true, several times in joining the commander; but soon, by the
superior sailing of the Medusa, they lost sight of him again, and every
time they rejoiced at it. This resolution, not to sail in company, was the
chief cause of the loss of the principal vessel. The Echo having
determined, as was proper, to follow its commander, alone passed to the
north west of the bank. The two other vessels which had remained long
behind and were much more at liberty, passed more than thirty leagues to
the west of it, and thus proved that it was the safest and shortest rout.

[A7] VII.--_On the Stranding of the Medusa_.

From ten o'clock in the morning the colour of the water visibly changed,
and the head pilot, calculating after his _sea-torch_ before mentioned,
declared, at half past eleven, that they were at the edge of the bank, and
this was probable. From that moment the sailors were entirely employed in
drawing up the lines thrown out alongside of the vessel, and the
astonishing quantity of fish, all of the cod species, which were drawn on
board, added to the weeds that floated on every side, were more than
sufficient to make it believed that they were sailing upon a shoal. We
shall speak below of the species of this fish; but as for the weeds, which
were perceived on every side, besides that they gave reason to suppose that
we were approaching the land, their appearance in this gulph, also gives
ground to presume, that the currents of these seas, at this season, set
north, since the plants, with exception of some _Zosterés_, were nothing
but long stalks of grasses; most of them still furnished with their roots,
and many even with their ears, belonging to the tall grasses of the banks
of the Senegal, and the Gambia, which these rivers bring away at the time
of the inundations. All those which could be observed were _Panios_ or
millets. (A)

[B1] VIII.--_Moment of the Stranding of the Frigate_.

The officers wanted to tack about, as the water became shallower every
moment: but Mr. Richefort,(who enjoyed the confidence of Mr. de
Chaumarey's,) declaring that there was no reason to be alarmed, the captain
ordered more sail to be spread. Soon we had only fifteen fathoms, then
nine, then six. By promptitude the danger might still have been avoided.
They hesitated: two minutes afterwards a shock informed us that we had
struck; the officers, at first astonished, gave their orders with a voice
that shewed their agitation: the captain was wholly deprived of his; terror
was painted on the countenances of all those who were capable of
appreciating the danger: I thought it imminent, and expected to see the
frigate bilge. I confess that I was not satisfied with myself, at this
first moment, I could not help trembling, but afterwards, my courage did
not any more forsake me. (B)

[B2] IX.--_Confusion on Board the Frigate_.

The frigate having stranded, the same thing happened, which usually does
happen in critical circumstances, no decisive measures were taken: to
increase our misfortunes the obedience of the crew to the officers was
diminished for want of confidence. There was no concert. A great deal of
time was spent, and the second day was lost without having done any thing.

On the third, preparations were made to quit the frigate, and the efforts
made the day before to get her afloat, were renewed, but only half measures
were taken. The other preparations to insure our safety were not carried on
with any activity. Every thing went wrong. A list of the people was made,
and they were distributed between the boats and the raft, in order that
they might hold themselves ready to embark when it should be time. I was
set down for the long boat. Our mode of living, during all this time, was
extremely singular. We all worked either at the pump or at the capstern.
There was no fixed time for meals, we eat just as we could snatch an
opportunity. The greatest confusion prevailed, the sailors already
attempted to plunder the trunks. (B)

[B3] X.--_The Frigate lost_.

On the fourth the weather being fine, and the wind favourable to the motion
which we wished to give to the vessel, we succeeded in it. The most ardent
hope was excited among all the crew, we even supped very cheerfully; we
flattered ourselves that we should free the vessel and sail the next day. A
beautiful evening encouraged our hopes, we slept upon deck by moonlight;
but at midnight the sky was overclouded, the wind rose, the sea swelled,
the frigate began to be shaken. These shocks were much more dangerous than
those in the night of the third. At three o'clock in the morning the
master-caulker came to tell the captain that the vessel had sprung a leak
and was filling; we immediately flew to the pumps, but in vain, the hull
was split, all endeavours to save the frigate were given up, and nothing
thought of but how to save the people. (B)

[B4] XI.--_Embarkment of the Crew_.

On the 5th, about seven o'clock in the morning, all the soldiers were first
embarked on board the raft, which was not quite finished, these unfortunate
men crowded together upon pieces of wood, were in water up to the middle.

Mrs. and Miss Schmalz went on board their boat. Mr. Schmalz,
notwithstanding the entreaties of every body, would not yet quit the

The people embarked in disorder, every body was in a hurry, I advised them
to wait patiently till every one's turn came. I gave the example, and was
near being the victim of it. All the boats, carried away by the current,
withdrew and dragged the raft with them: there still remained sixty of us
on board. Some sailors, thinking that the others were going to abandon
them, loaded their muskets, and were going to fire upon the boats, and
particularly upon the boat of the captain, who had already gone on board.
It was with the greatest difficulty that I dissuaded them from it. I had
need of all my strength, and all the arguments I could think of. I
succeeded in seizing some loaded muskets and threw them into the sea.

When I was preparing to quit the frigate, I had contented myself with a
small parcel of things which were indispensable; all the rest had been
already pillaged. I had divided, with a comrade, eight hundred livres in
gold, which I had still in my possession; this proved very fortunate for me
in the sequel. This comrade had embarked on board one of the boats, (B)

[A8] XII.--_On Mr. Espiau_.

The name of this officer cannot be mentioned, in this memoir, without
acknowledging the services which he performed on this occasion. To him we
owe the lives of several sailors and soldiers who had remained on board. It
is he who, notwithstanding the various dangers with which he was
surrounded, following only the impulse of his courage, succeeded in saving
them. In giving him a command, the minister has paid the debt which the
State had contracted towards this officer for his honorable conduct.(A)

[B5] XIII.--_Embarkation of the Men who remained on Board the Frigate_.

I began to believe that we were abandoned, and that the boats, being too
full, could take no more people on board. The frigate was quite full of
water. Being convinced that she touched the bottom, and that she could not
sink, we did not lose courage. Without fearing death it was proper to do
every thing we could to save ourselves: we joined all together, officers,
sailors and soldiers. We appointed a master-pilot for our leader, we
pledged our honour, either to save ourselves, or to perish all together; an
officer and myself promised to remain to the last.

We thought of making another raft. We made the necessary preparations to
cut away one of the masts, in order to ease the frigate. Exhausted by
fatigue, it was necessary to think of taking some food; the gally was not
under water; we lighted a fire; the pot was already boiling, when we
thought we saw the long-boat returning to us; it was towed by two other
lighter-boats, we all renewed the oath, either all to embark, or all to
remain. It appeared to us that our weight would sink the long-boat.

Mr. Espiau, who commanded it, came on board the frigate, he said that he
would take every body on board. First, two women and a child were let down;
the most fearful followed. I embarked immediately before Mr. Espiau. Some
men preferred remaining on board the frigate to sinking, as they said, with
the long-boat. In fact, we were crowded in it to the number of ninety
persons; we were obliged to throw into the sea our little parcels, the only
things we had left. We did not dare to make the least motion for fear of
upsetting our frail vessel.

I had had some water-casks and a great many bottles of wine put on board: I
had got all these things ready before hand. The sailors concealed in the
long-boat what ought to have been for every body; they drank the whole the
first night, which exposed us to the danger of perishing with thirst in the

[A9] XIV.--_Occurrences which took place after the Raft was abandoned_.

About half-past six in the evening, and just at sun-set, the people in the
boats descried the land: that is to say, the high downs of sand of the
Zaara, which appeared quite brilliant and like heaps of gold and silver.
The sea, between the frigate and the coast, appeared to have some depth;
the waves were longer and more hollow, as if the bank of Arguin rose
towards the West. But as they approached the land, the water suddenly
became shallow, and finding only a depth of three or four feet, they
resolved to cast anchor till day-break. Several scattered hills, a few
rocky shoals nearly dry, made them presume that they were in the Lagunes,
formed by the River St. John; this opinion was verified by the sight of
Cape Meric, which appears like the continuation of a high hill coming from
the interior, but suddenly rising at its approach to the sea, like the
torrents of Volcanic matter. In passing before this cape, out at sea and
towards the West, the sea appeared to break over some shoals, which are
suspected to be the Southern end of the bank of Arguin, which, according to
some persons at Senegal, is dry at low water. (A)

[B6] XV.--_Forsaking the Raft_.

When we had overtaken the raft, towed by the other boats, we asked the
latter to take from us at least twenty men, or otherwise we should sink.
They answered that they were already too much loaded. One of our movements,
towards the boats, made them fancy that despair had inspired us with the
idea of sinking them and ourselves at the same time.

How could the officers imagine that such a design was entertained by Mr.
Espiau, who had just before displayed such a noble desire to assist his
comrades? The boats, in order to avoid us, cut the ropes which united them
together, and made all the sail they could from us. In the midst of this
confusion, the rope which towed the raft, broke also, and a hundred and
fifty men were abandoned in the midst of the ocean, without any hope of

This moment was horrible. Mr. Espiau, to induce his comrades to make a last
effort, tacked and made a motion to rejoin the raft. The sailors
endeavoured to oppose it, saying that the men on the raft would fall upon
us, and cause us all to perish. "I know it, my friends," said he, "but I
will not approach so near as to incur any danger; if the other vessels do
not follow me, I will think only on your preservation, I cannot do
impossibilities." In fact, seeing that he was not seconded, he resumed his
route. The other boats were already far off. "We shall sink," cried Mr.
Espiau, let us shew courage to the very last. Let us do what we can: _vive
le roi_! This cry a thousand times repeated rises from the bosom of the
waters which are to serve us for a grave. The boats also repeated it, we
were near enough to hear this cry of _vive_ _le roi_! Some of us thought
that this enthusiasm was madness: was it the fulness of despair which made
them speak so, or was it the expression of the soul broken by misfortune? I
know not, but for my part, this moment appeared to me sublime: this cry was
a rallying cry, a cry of encouragement and resignation. (B)

[A10] XVI.--_On the sudden Gale experienced by the Raft_.

This strong gale was the same North West wind which in this season, as has
been said before, blows every day with great violence after sun-set; but
which, that day, began sooner, and continued till 4 o'clock the next
morning, when it was succeeded by a calm. The two boats which resisted it,
were several times on the point of being wrecked. The whole time that this
gale lasted, the sea was covered with a remarkable quantity of _galères_ or
_physalides_, (physalis pelasgica) which arranged, for the most part, in
straight lines, and in two or three files, cut at an angle the direction of
the waves, and seemed at the same time to present their crest or sail to
the wind, in an oblique manner, as if to be less exposed to its impulse. It
is probable that these animals have the faculty of sailing two or three
abreast, and of ranging themselves in a regular or symetrical order; but
had the wind surprised these, so arranged on the surface of the sea, and
before they had time to sink, and shelter themselves at the bottom, or did
the sea, agitated on these shores, to a greater depth than is supposed,
make them fear, in this situation, to be thrown upon the coast? However it
be, the orders of their march; their disposition, in respect to the force
which impelled them, and which they strove to resist; the apparent
stiffness of the sail seemed equally admirable and surprising. Mr. Rang,
who has been mentioned with praise in this work, having had the curiosity
to catch one of these singular animals, soon felt a tingling in his hand,
and a burning heat, which made him feel much pain till the next day. Bones
of _sèche gigantesque_ (sepia, cuttle-fish) already whitened by the sun,
passed rapidly along the side of the ship, and almost always with some
insects, which having, imprudently ventured too far from the land, had
taken refuge on these floating islands. As soon as the sea grew calm, they
perceived some large pelicans, gently rocking themselves on the bosom of
the waves. (A)

[B7] XVII.--_Landing of the Sixty-three Men of the Long-Boat_.

The sea was within two fingers breadth of the gunnale of the boat: the
slightest wave entered; besides, it had a leak; it was necessary to empty it
continually: a service which the soldiers and sailors, who were with me,
refused. Happily the sea was pretty calm.

On the same evening, the 5th, we saw the land, and the cry of "land, land,"
was repeated by every body. We were sailing rapidly towards the coast of
Africa, when we felt that we had struck upon the bottom. We were again in
distress: we had but three feet water; but would it be possible for us to
get the boat afloat again, and put out into the open sea? There was no more
hope of being able to reach the shore. As for myself, I saw nothing but
danger on the coast of Africa, and I preferred drowning to being made a
slave, and conducted to Morocco or Algiers. But the long-boat grounded only
once; we proceeded on our route, and by frequent soundings we got into the
open sea towards night.

Providence had decided that we should experience fears of every kind, and
that we should not perish. What a night indeed was this! The sea ran very
high, the ability of our pilot saved us. A single false manoeuvre, and we
must all have perished. We, however, partly shipped two or three waves
which we were obliged to empty immediately. Any other boat, in the same
circumstances, would have been lost. This long and dreadful night was at
length succeeded by day.

At day break we found ourselves in sight of land. The sea became a little
calm. Hope revived in the souls of the desponding sailors, almost every
body desired to go on shore. The officer, in spite of himself, yielded to
their wishes. We approached the coast and threw out a little anchor that we
might not run aground. We were so happy as to come near the shore, where
there was only two feet water. Sixty-three men threw themselves into the
water and reached the shore, which is only a dry and burning sand, it must
have been a few leagues above Portendic. I took care not to imitate them. I
remained with about twenty-six others in the long-boat, all determined to
endeavour to reach the Senegal with our vessel, which was lightened of
above two-thirds of its burden. It was the 6th of July. (B)

[B8] XVIII.--_The Fifteen Persons in the Yawl taken into the Long-Boat;
sequel of the day of the 6th_.

An hour after landing the sixty-three men, we perceived behind us four of
our boats. Mr. Espiau, notwithstanding the cries of his crew who opposed
it, lowered his sails and lay-to, in order to wait for them. "They have
refused to take any people from us, let us do better now we are lightened,
let us offer to take some from them." In fact, he made them this offer when
they were within hail; but instead of approaching boldly, they kept at a
distance. The smallest of the boats (a yawl) went from one to the other to
consult them. This distrust came from their thinking, that, by a stratagem,
we had concealed all our people under the benches, to rush upon them when
they should be near enough, and so great was this distrust that they
resolved to fly us like enemies. They feared every thing from our crew,
whom they thought to be in a state of mutiny: however, we proposed no other
condition on receiving some people, than to take in some water, of which we
began to be in want, as for biscuit we had a sufficient stock.

Above an hour had passed after this accident, when the sea ran very high.
The yawl could not hold out against it: being obliged to ask assistance, it
came up to us. My comrade de Chasteluz was one of the fifteen men on board
of her. We thought first of his safety, he leaped into our boat, I caught
him by the arm to hinder his falling into the sea, we pressed each others
hands, what language.

Singular concatenation of events! If our sixty-three men had not absolutely
insisted upon landing, we could not have saved the fifteen men in the yawl;
we should have had the grief of seeing them perish before our eyes, without
being able to afford them any assistance: this is not all, the following is
what relates to myself personally. A few minutes before we took in the
people of the yawl, I had undressed myself in order to dry my clothes,
which had been wet for forty-eight hours, from my having assisted in lading
the water out of the long-boat. Before I took off my pantaloons I felt my
purse, which contained the four hundred francs; a moment after I had lost
it; this was the completion of all my misfortunes. What a happy thought was
it to have divided my eight hundred francs with Mr. de Chasteluz who now
had the other four hundred.

The heat was very violent on the sixth. We were reduced to an allowance of
one glass of dirty or corrupted water: and therefore to check our thirst,
we put a piece of lead into our mouths; a melancholy expedient!

The night returned; it was the most terrible of all: the light of the moon
shewed us a raging sea: long and hollow waves threatened twenty times to
swallow us up. The pilot did not believe it possible to avoid all those
which came upon us; if we had shipped a single one it would have been all
over with us. The pilot must have let the helm go, and the boat would have
sunk. Was it not in fact better to disappear at once than to die slowly?

Towards the morning the moon having set, exhausted by distress, fatigue,
and want of sleep I could not hold out any longer and fell asleep;
notwithstanding the waves which were ready to swallow me up. The Alps and
their picturesque scenery rose before my imagination. I enjoyed the
freshness of their shades, I renewed the delicious moments which I have
passed there, and as if to enhance my present happiness by the idea of past
evils, the remembrance of my good sister flying with me into the woods of
Kaiserslautern to escape the Cossacks, is present to my fancy. My head hung
over the sea; the noise of the waves dashing against our frail bark,
produced on my senses the effect of a torrent falling from the summit of a
mountain. I thought I was going to plunge into it. This pleasing illusion
was not complete; I awoke, and in what a state! I raised my head with pain;
I open my ulcerated lips, and my parched tongue finds on them only a bitter
crust of salt, instead of a little of that water which I had seen in my
dream. The moment was dreadful, and my despair was extreme. I thought of
throwing myself into the sea, to terminate at once all my sufferings. This
despair was of short duration, there was more courage in suffering.

A hollow noise, which we heard in the distance, increased the horrors of
this night. Our fears, that it might be the bar of the Senegal, hindered us
from making so much way as we might have done. This was a great error: the
noise proceeded from the breakers which are met with on all the coasts of
Africa. We found afterwards, that we were above sixty leagues from the
Senegal. (B)

[B9] XIX.--_Page 162.--Stranding of the Long-Boat, and Two other Boats_.

Our situation did not change till the eighth; we suffered more and more
from thirst. The officer desired me to make a list, and to call the people
to distribute the allowance of water; every one came and drank what was
given him. I held my list under the tin cap, to catch the drops which fell,
and moisten my lips with them. Some persons attempted to drink sea water; I
am of opinion that they did but hasten the moment of their destruction.

About the middle of the day, on the 8th of July, one of our boats sailed in
company with the long-boat. The people on board suffered more than we, and
resolved to go on shore and get water if possible; but the sailors mutinied
and insisted on being landed at once: they had drank nothing for two days.
The officers wished to oppose it; the sailors were armed with their sabres.
A dreadful butchery was on the point of taking place on board this
unfortunate boat. The two sails were hoisted in order to strand more
speedily upon the coast, every body reached the shore, the boat filled with
water and was abandoned.

This example, fatal to us, gave our sailors an inclination to do the same.
Mr. Espiau consented to land them; he hoped to be able afterwards with the
little water that remained, and by working the vessel ourselves, to reach
the Senegal. We therefore placed ourselves round this little water, and
took our swords to defend it. We advanced near to the breakers, the anchor
was got up, and the officer gave orders to let the boat's painter go
gently, the sailors on the contrary, either let the rope go at once, or cut
it. Our boat being no longer checked, was carried into the first breaker.
The water passed over our heads, and three quarters filled the boat: it did
not sink. Immediately we hoisted a sail which carried us through the other
breakers. The boat entirely filled and sunk, but there was only four feet
water; every body leaped into the sea, and no one perished.

Before we thought of landing I had undressed myself, in order to dry my
clothes; I might have put them on again, but the resolution to land having
been taken, I thought that without clothes, I should be more able to swim
in case of need. Mr. de Chasteluz could not swim: he fastened a rope round
his middle, of which I took one end, and by means of which, I was to draw
him to me as soon as I got on shore. When the boat sunk I threw myself into
the water, I was very glad that I touched the bottom, for I was uneasy
about my comrade. I returned to the boat to look for my clothes and my
sword. A part of them had been already stolen, I found only my coat and one
of the two pair of pantaloons which I had with me. A negro offered to sell
me an old pair of shoes for eight francs, for I wanted a pair of shoes to
walk in.

The sailors had saved the barrel of water; and as soon as we were on shore
they fought for the drinking of it. I rushed in among them, and made my way
to him who had got the barrel at his mouth. I snatched it from him and
contrived to swallow two mouthfuls, the barrel was afterwards taken from
me, but these two mouthfuls did me as much good as two bottles; but for
them I could not have lived longer than a few hours.

Thus I found myself on the coast of Africa wet to the skin, with nothing in
my pockets except a few biscuits, steeped in salt water, to support me for
several days: without water, amidst a sandy desert inhabited by a ferocious
race of men: thus we had left one danger to plunge into a greater.

We resolved to proceed along the sea coast, because the breeze cooled us a
little, and besides the moist sand was softer than the fine moveable sand
in the interior. Before we proceeded on our march, we waited for the crew
of the other boat which had stranded before us.

We had proceeded about half an hour, when we perceived another boat
advancing with full sail, and came with such violence on the beach that it
stranded: it contained all the family of Mr. Picard, consisting of himself
and his wife, three daughters grown up, and four young children, one of
whom was at the breast. I threw myself into the sea to assist this unhappy
family; I contributed to get Mr. Picard on shore, every body was saved. I
went to look for my clothes, but could not find them; I fell into a violent
passion, and expressed in strong terms, the infamy of stealing in such
circumstances. I was reduced to my shirt and my trowsers. I know not
whether my cries, and my complaints, excited remorse in the robber, but I
found my coat and pantaloons again, a little further off upon the sand. (B)

[B10] XX.--_March in the Desert and Arrival at St. Louis_.

We proceeded on our journey for the rest of the day on the 8th of July;
many of us were overcome by thirst. Many with haggard eyes awaited only
death. We dug in the sand, but found only water more salt than that of the

At last we resolved to pass the sandy downs along the sea coast; we
afterwards met with a sandy plain almost as low as the ocean. On this sand
there was a little long and hard grass. We dug a hole three or four feet
deep, and found water which was whitish and had a bad smell. I tasted it
and finding it sweet, cried out "we are saved!" These words were repeated
by the whole caravan who collected round this water, which everyone
devoured with his eyes. Fire or six holes were soon made and every one took
his fill of this muddy beverage. We remained two hours at this place, and
endeavoured to eat a little biscuit in order to keep up our strength.

Towards evening we returned to the sea shore. The coolness of the night
permitted us to walk, but Mr. Picard's family could not follow us. The
children were carried, the officers setting the example, in order to induce
the sailors to carry them by turns. The situation of Mr. Picard was cruel;
his young ladies and his wife displayed great courage; they dressed
themselves in mens clothes. After an hours march Mr. Picard desired that we
might stop, he spoke in the tone of a man who would not be refused; we
consented, though the least delay might endanger the safety of all. We
stretched ourselves upon the sand, and slept till three o'clock in the

We immediately resumed our march. It was the 9th of July. We still
proceeded along the sea shore, the wet sand was more easy to walk upon; we
rested every half hour on account of the ladies.

About eight o'clock in the morning we went a little from the coast to
reconnoitre some Moors who had shewn themselves. We found two or three
wretched tents, in which there were some Mooresses almost all naked, they
were as ugly and frightful as the sands they inhabit. They came to our aid,
offering us water, goat's milk, and millet, which are their only food. They
would have appeared to us handsome, if it had been for the pleasure of
obliging us, but these rapacious creatures wanted us to give them every
thing we had. The sailors, who were loaded with what they had pillaged from
us, were more fortunate than we, a handkerchief procured them a glass of
water or milk, or a handful of millet. They had more money than we, and
gave pieces of five or ten francs for things, for which we offered twenty
sous. These Mooresses, however, did not know the value of money, and
delivered more to a person who gave them two or three little pieces of ten
sous, than to him who offered them a crown of six livres. Unhappily we had
no small money, and I drank more than one glass of milk at the rate of six
livres per glass.

We bought, at a dearer price than we could have bought gold, two goats
which we boiled by turns in a little metal kettle belonging to the
Mooresses. We took out the pieces half boiled, and devoured them like
savages. The sailors, for whom we had bought these goats, scarcely left the
officers their share, but seized what they could, and still complained of
having had too little. I could not help speaking to them as they deserved.
They consequently had a spite against me and threatened me more than once.

At four o'clock in the afternoon, after we had passed the greatest heat of
the day in the disgusting tents of the Mooresses, stretched by their side,
we heard a cry of "_To arms, to arms_!" I had none; I took a large knife
which I had preserved, and which was as good as a sword. We advanced
towards some Moors and Negroes, who had already disarmed several of our
people whom they had found reposing on the sea shore. The two parties were
on the point of coming to blows, when we understood that these men came to
offer to conduct us to Senegal.

Some timid persons distrusted their intentions. For myself, as well as the
most prudent among us, I thought that we should trust entirely to men who
came in a small number, and who, in fact, confided their own safety to us;
though it would have been so easy for them, to come in sufficiently large
numbers to overwhelm us. We did so, and experience proved that we did well.

We set off with our Moors who were very well made and fine men of their
race; a Negro, their slave was one of the handsomest men I have ever seen.
His body of a fine black, was clothed in a blue dress which he had received
as a present. This dress became him admirably, his gait was proud and his
air inspired confidence. The distrust of some of our Negroes, who had their
arms unsheathed, and fear painted on the countenances of some made him
laugh. He put himself in the middle of them, and placing the point of the
weapons upon his breast, opened his arms, to make them comprehend that he
was not afraid, and that they also ought not to fear him.

After we had proceeded some time, night being come, our guides conducted us
a little inland, behind the downs where there were some tents inhabited by
a pretty considerable number of Moors. Many persons in our caravan cried
out, that they were going to be led to death. But we did not listen to
them, persuaded that in every way we were undone, if the Moors were
resolved on our destruction, that besides, it was their true interest to
conduct us to Senegal, and that in short, confidence was the only means of

Fear caused every body to follow us. We found in the camp, water, camels'
milk, and dry, or rather rotten fish. Though all these things were
enormously dear, we were happy to meet with them. I bought for ten francs
one of these fish which stunk terribly. I wrapt it up in the only
handkerchief I had left, to carry it with me. We were not sure of always
finding such a good inn upon the road. We slept in our usual bed, that is
to say stretched upon the sand. We had rested till midnight: we took some
asses for Mr. Picard's family, and for some men whom fatigue had rendered
incapable of going any further.

I observed that the men who were most overcome by fatigue were presisely
those who were the most robust. From their look and their apparent strength
they might have been judged indefatigable, but they wanted mental strength,
and this alone supports man in such a crisis. For my part I was astonished
at bearing so well so many fatigues and privations. I suffered, but with
courage; my stomach, to my great satisfaction did not suffer at all. I bore
every thing in the same manner till the last.

Sleep alone, but the most distressing sleep possible, had nearly caused my
destruction. It was at two or three o'clock in the morning that it seized
me, I slept as I walked. As soon as they cried halt I let myself fall upon
the sand and was plunged into the most profound lethergy. Nothing gave me
more pain than to hear at the expiration of a quarter of an hour "_up,

I was once so overcome that I heard nothing, I remained stretched upon the
ground while the whole caravan passed by me. It was already at a great
distance when a straggler happily perceived me; he pushed me, and at last
succeeded in awaking me. But for him I should doubtless have slept several
hours. If I had awoke alone in the middle of the desert, either despair
would have terminated my sufferings, or I should have been made a slave by
the Moors, which I could not have borne. To avoid this misfortune I begged
one of my friends to watch over me, and to waken me at every stage, which
be did.

On the 10th of July towards six o'clock in the morning, we were marching
along the sea coast, when our guide gave us notice to be upon our guard and
to take our arms. I seized my knife; the whole party was collected. The
country was inhabited by a poor and plundering race of Moors, who would not
have failed to attack those who had loitered behind. The precaution was
good, some Moors shewed themselves on the downs; their number encreased and
soon exceeded ours. To move them, we placed ourselves in a line holding our
swords and sabres in the air. Those who had no arms waved the scabbards, to
make them believe that we were all armed with muskets. They did not
approach. Our guides went halfway to meet them. They left one man and
retired: the Moors did the same on their side. The two deputies conversed
together for some time, then each returned to his party. The explanation
was satisfactory, and the Moors soon came to us without the least distrust.

Their women brought us milk which they sold horribly dear; the rapacity of
these Moors is astonishing, they insisted on having a share of the milk,
which they had sold us.

Mean time we saw a sail advancing towards us: we made all kinds of signals
to be perceived by it, and we were convinced that they were answered. Our
joy was lively and well founded: it was the Argus brig which came to our
assistance. She lowered her sails and hoisted out a boat. When it was near
the breakers a Moor threw himself into the sea, carrying a note which
painted our distress. The boat took the Moor on board and returned with the
note to the captain. Half an hour afterwards the boat returned laden with a
large barrel, and two small ones. When it reached the place where it had
taken in the Moor, the latter threw himself into the sea again to bring
back the answer. It informed us that they were going to throw into the sea
a barrel of biscuit and cheese, and two others containing brandy and wine.

Another piece of news filled us with joy; the two boats which had not
stranded on the coast as we had done arrived at the Senegal, after having
experienced the most stormy weather. Without losing a moment the governor
had dispatched the Argus, and taken every measure to assist the shipwrecked
people, and to go to the Medusa. Besides, he had sent by land camels loaden
with provisions to meet us, lastly, the Moors were desired to respect us,
and to render us assistance: so much good news revived us, and gave us
fresh courage.

I learned also that Mr. Schmalz and his family, those very ladies, whom I
had seen expose themselves with so much composure to the fury of the waves,
and who had made me shed the only tears which our misfortunes had drawn
from me, were well and in safety. I should have been sorry to die without
having learned that they were preserved.

When the three barrels were thrown into the sea we followed them with our
eyes; we feared lest the current, instead of bringing them to the coast,
should carry them into the open sea. At last we saw, clearly, that they
approached us. Our Negroes and Moors swam to them, and pushed them to the
coast, where we secured them.

The great barrel was opened: the biscuit and cheese were distributed. We
would not open those of wine and brandy. We feared lest the Moors, at this
sight, would not be able to refrain from falling upon the booty. We
continued our march, and about half a league farther on, made a delicious
feast on the sea-shore. Our strength being revived, we continued our route
with more ardour.

Towards the close of the day, the aspect of the country began to change a
little. The downs were lower: we perceived, at a distance, a sheet of
water: we thought, and this was no small satisfaction to us, that it was
the Senegal which made an elbow in this place to run parallel to the sea.
From this elbow runs the little rivulet called _Marigot des Maringouins_;
we left the sea-shore to pass it a little higher up. We reached a spot
where there was some verdure and water, and resolved to remain there till

We had scarcely reached this spot, when we saw an Englishman coming towards
us with three or four Marabous, or priests; they had camels with them; they
were doubtless sent by the English Governor of Senegal, to seek for the
shipwrecked people. One of the camels, laden with provisions, is
immediately dispatched; those who conduct it are to go, if necessary, to
Portendic, to fetch our companions in misfortune; or at least to get some
information respecting them.

The English envoy had money to buy us provisions. He informed us that we
had still three days march to the Senegal. We imagined that we were nearer
to it; the most fatigued were terrified at this great distance. We slept
all together on the sand. Nobody was suffered to go to a distance for fear
of the lions, which were said to haunt this country. This fear did not at
all alarm me, nor hinder me from sleeping pretty well.

On the 11th of July, after having walked from one o'clock in the morning
till seven, we arrived at a place where the Englishman expected to meet
with an ox. By some misunderstanding there was none; we were obliged _to
pinch our bellies_: but we had a little water.

The heat was insupportable; the sun was already scorching. We halted on the
white sand of these downs, as being more wholesome for a resting place than
the sand, wetted by the sea-water. But this sand was so hot, that even the
hands could not endure it. Towards noon we were broiled by the beams of the
sun darting perpendicularly upon our heads. I found no remedy, except in a
creeping plant, which grew here and there on the moving sand. I set up some
old stalks, and spread over them my coat and some leaves: thus I put my
head in the shade; the rest of my body was roasted. The wind overturned,
twenty times, my slight scaffolding.

Meantime, this Englishman was gone, on his camel, to see after an ox. He
did not return till four or five o'clock: when he informed us that we
should find this animal, after we had proceeded some hours. After a most
painful march, till night, we, in fact, met with an ox which was small, but
tolerably fat. We looked at some distance from the sea, for a place where
there was supposed to be a spring. It was only a hole, which the Moors had
left a few hours before. Here we fixed ourselves, a dozen fires were
lighted around us. A negro twisted the neck of the ox, as we should have
done that of a fowl. In five minutes it was flayed and cut into pieces,
which we toasted on the points of our swords or sabres. Every one devoured
his portion.

After this slight repast, we all lay down to sleep. I was not able to
sleep: the tiresome buzzing of the mosquitoes, and their cruel stings,
prevented me, though I was so much in need of repose.

On the 12th, we resumed our march at three o'clock in the morning. I was
indisposed; and to knock me up entirely, we had to walk over the moving
sand of the point of Barbary. Nothing hitherto, had been more fatiguing:
every body complained; our Moorish guides assured us that this way was
shorter by two leagues. We preferred returning to the beach, and walking on
the sand, which the sea-water rendered firm. This last effort was almost
beyond my strength, I sunk under it, and but for my comrades, I should have
remained upon the sand.

We had absolutely resolved to reach the point, where the river joins the
downs. There some boats, which were coming up the river, were to take us on
board, and convey us to St. Louis. When we had nearly reached this spot, we
crossed the downs, and enjoyed the sight of the river which we had so long
desired to meet with.

Happily too, it was the season when the water of the Senegal is fresh: we
quenched our thirst at our pleasure. We stopped at last; it was only eight
o'clock in the morning. We had no shelter during the whole day, except some
trees, which were of a kind unknown to me, and which had a sombre foliage.
I frequently went into the river, but without venturing too far from the
bank, for fear of the alligators.

About two o'clock, a small boat arrived; the master of it asked for Mr.
Picard; he was sent by one of the old friends of that gentleman, and
brought him provisions and clothes for his family. He gave notice to us
all, in the name of the English Governor, that two other boats loaded with
provisions, were coming. Having to wait till they arrived, I could not
remain with Mr. Picard's family. I know not what emotion arose in my soul
when I saw the fine white bread cut, and the wine poured out, which would
have given me so much pleasure. At four o'clock we also were able to eat
bread and good biscuit, and to drink excellent Madeira, which was lavished
on us with little prudence. Our sailors were drunk; even those among us who
had been more cautious, and whose heads were stronger, were, to say the
least, very merry. How did our tongues run as we went down the river in our
boats! After a short and happy navigation, we landed at Saint Louis, about
seven o'clock in the evening.

But what should we do? whither should we go?  Such were our reflections
when we set foot on shore. They were not of long duration. We met with some
of our comrades belonging to the boats who had arrived before us, who
conducted us, and distributed us among various private houses, where every
thing had been prepared to receive us well. I shall always remember the
kind hospitality which was shewn to us, in general, by the white
inhabitants of St. Louis, both English and French. We were all made
welcome; we had all clean linen to put on, water to wash our feet; a
sumptuous table was ready for us. As for myself, I was received, with
several of my companions, in the house of Messrs. Potin and Durecur,
Merchants of Bordeaux. Every thing they possessed was lavished upon us.
They gave me linen, light clothes, in short, whatever I wanted. I had
nothing left. Honour to him, who knows so well how to succour the
unfortunate; to him especially who does it with so much simplicity, and as
little ostentation as these gentlemen did. It seemed that it was a duty for
them to assist every body. They would willingly have left to others no
share in the good that was to be done. English officers eagerly claimed the
pleasure, as they expressed it, of having some of the shipwrecked people to
take care of. Some of us had feather beds, others good mattrasses laid upon
mats, which they found very comfortable. I slept ill notwithstanding, I was
too much fatigued, too much agitated: I always fancied, myself either
bandied about by the waves, or treading on the burning sands.(B)

[A11] XXI.--_On the Manufactures of the Moors_.

The Moors tan skins with the dried pods of the Gummiferous Accia: thus
prepared, they are impenetrable to the rain, and it may be affirmed that,
for their suppleness, as well as for the brilliancy and finesss of their
grain, they might become a valuable fur in Europe, either for use or
ornament. The most beautiful of these skins seemed to be those of very
young goats, taken from the belly of the dam before the time of gestation
is completed. The great numbers of these animals, which are found round all
the inhabited places, allow the inhabitants to sacrifice many to this
species of luxury, without any extraordiny loss. The cloaks, with a hood,
which are mentioned in this memoir, are composed of several of these skins,
ingeniously sewed together, with small and very fine seams. These garments,
designed as a protection against the cold and the rain, are generally
black, but some are also seen of a reddish colour, which are not so
beautiful, and heavier these latter are made of the skins of the kind of
sheep, known by the name of guinea-sheep, which have hair instead of wool.
As for the goldsmiths work, made by these people, it is executed by
travelling workmen, who are at the same time armourers, smiths and
jewellers. Furnished with a leather bag which is provided with an iron
pipe, and filled with air, which they press and fill alternately, by
putting it under their thigh, which they keep in constant motion, singing
all the while; seated before a little hole dug in the sand, and under the
shade of some leaves of the date-tree laid upon their heads, they execute
on a little anvil, and with the help of a hammer, and some small iron awls,
not only all kinds of repairs necessary to fire-arms, sabres, &c. but
manufacture knives and daggers, and also make bracelets, earrings, and
necklaces of gold, which they have the art of drawing into very fine wire,
and forming into ornaments for women, in a manner which, though it wants
taste, makes us admire the skill of the workman, especially when we
consider the nature, and the small number of the tools which he employs.

The Moors, like the Mahometan negroes, are for the most part, provided with
a larger or smaller number of _gris-gris_, a kind of talisman consisting in
words, or verses copied from the Coran, to which they ascribe the power of
securing them against diseases, witchcraft and accidents, and which they
buy of their priests or Marabous. Some Spaniards from Teneriffe, who came
to Cape Verd, at the time that the French Expedition had taken refuge
there, struck us all, by their resemblance with these Africans. It was not
only by their brown complexions that they resembled them; but it was also
by their long rosaries, twisted in the some manner about their arms,
resembling, except the cross, those of the Moors, and by the great number
of Amulets, (_gris-gris_ of another kind) which they wear round their
necks, and by which they seemed to wish to rival the infidels in credulity.
There is then, in the South of Europe, as well as in the North of Africa, a
class of men, who would found their authority, upon ignorance, and derive
their authority from superstition.

[A12] XXII.--_On the Bark given to the Sick_.

The bark, which began to be administered at that time, had been damaged,
but an attempt was made to supply the want of it by the bark which the
negroes use to cure the dysentery, and which they bring from the environs
of Rufisque. This bark, of which they made a secret, seems to come from
some terebinthine plant, and perhaps, from the _monbins_, which are common
on this part of the coast. In the winter fevers which prevail at Goree,
Cape Verd, &c. two methods of cure were employed which had different
effects. These fevers were often attended with cholic, spasms in the
stomach, and diarrhea. The first method consisted in vomitting, purging,
and then administering the bark, to which musk was sometimes added, when
the disorder grew worse. In this case, when the disease did not end in
death, the fever was often succeeded by dysentery, or those who believed
themselves cured, were subject to relapses. The second method, which Doctor
Bergeron employed with more success, was opposite to the former; he vomited
the patients but little, or not at all, endeavouring to calm the symptoms,
to strengthen the patient by bitters, and at the last, he administered the

The Negroes who, like all other people, have a materia medica, and
pharmacopeia of their own, and who at this season, are subject to the same
disorders as the Europeans, have recourse at the very beginning, to a more
heroic remedy, and such of our soldiers encamped at Daccard, as made use of
it, in general found benefit from it. The Priest or Marabous, who often
offered them the assistance of his art, made them take a large glass of
rum-punch, very warm, with a slight infusion of cayenne pepper. An
extraordinary perspiration generally terminated this fit. The patient then
avoided, for some days, walking in the sun, and eat a small quantity of
roasted fish and cous-cous, mixed with a sufficient quantity of cassia
leaves of different species, to operate as a gentle purgative. In order to
keep up the perspiration, or according to the Negro Doctor, to strengthen
the skin, he applied from time to time, warm lotions of the leaves of the
palma christi, and of cassia, (_casse puante_.) The use of rum, which is
condemned by the Mahometan religion, and is a production foreign to this
country, gives reason to suppose that the remedy is of modern date, among
the Negroes.

[A13] It is to be observed that the author, in these two passages, uses the
word _Kina_ or Peruvian bark--T.

[A14] XXIII.--_On the Isle of St. Louis_.

St. Louis is a bank of scorching sand, without drinkable water or verdure,
with a few tolerable houses towards the South, and a great number of low
smoky straw huts, which, occupy almost all the North part. The houses are
of brick, made of a salt clay, (_argile salée_) which the wind reduces to
powder, unless they are carefully covered with a layer of chalk or lime,
which it is difficult to procure, and the dazzling whiteness of which
injures the eyes.

Towards the middle of this town, if it may be so called, is a large
manufactory in ruins, which is honored with the name of a fort, and of
which the English have sacrificed a part, in order to make apartments for
the governor, and to make the ground floor more airy, to quarter troops in

Opposite is a battery of heavy cannon, the parapet of which covers the
square, on which are some trees, planted in strait lines for ornament.
These trees are oleaginous Benjamins (_Bens Olefères_) which give no shade,
and ought to be replaced by tamarinds, or sycamores, which are common in
this neighbourhood, and would thrive well on this spot. None but people
uncertain of their privilege to trade on this river, merchants who came
merely to make a short stay, and indolent speculators would have contented
themselves with this bank of burning sand, and not have been tempted by the
cool shades and more fertile lands, which are within a hundred toises, but
which, indeed, labour alone could render productive. Every thing is
wretched in this situation.

Saint Louis is but a halting place in the middle of the river, where
merchants who were going up it to seek slaves and gum, moored their
vessels, and deposited their provisions, and the goods they had brought
with them to barter.

What is said in the narrative of the means of attacking this port, is
correct. When the enemy have appeared, the Negroes have always been those
who have defended it with the most effect. But unhappily, there, as in the
Antilles, persons are already to be found, who are inclined to hold out
their hands to the English.

At Louis there are some palm-trees, and the lantara flabelliformis. Some
little gardens have been made; but a cabbage, or a salad, are still of some
value. Want, the mother of industry, obliged some of the inhabitants,
during the war, to turn their thoughts to cultivation, and it should be the
object of the government to encourage them.

[A15] XXIV.--_On the Islands of Goree and Cape Verd_.

At the distance of 1200 toises from the Peninsula of Cape Verd, a large
black rock rises abruptly, from the surface of the sea. It is cut
perpendicularly on one side, inaccessible in two-thirds of its
circumference, and terminates, towards the south, in a low beach which it
commands, and which is edged with large stones, against which the sea
dashes violently. This beach, which is the prolongation of the base of the
rock, bends in an arch, and forms a recess, where people land as they can.
At the extremity of this beach is a battery of two or three guns; on the
beach of the landing-place, is an epaulement, with embrasures which
commands it. The town stands on this sand bank, and a little fort, built on
the ridge of the rock, commands and defends it. In its present state, Goree
could not resist a ship of the line. Its road, which is only an anchoring
place in the open sea, is safe in the most stormy weather; but it is
exposed to all winds except those that blow from the island, which then
serves to shelter it.

The Europeans who desire to carry on the slave trade, have preferred this
arid rock, placed in the middle of a raging sea, to the neighbouring
continent, where they would find water, wood, vegetables, and in short, the
necessaries of life. The same reason which has caused the preference to be
given to a narrow and barren sand bank, in the middle of the Senegal to
build St. Louis, has also decided in favor of Goree: it is, that both of
them are but dens, or prisons, intended as a temporary confinement for
wretches who, in any other situation, would find means to escape. To deal
in men, nothing is wanting but fetters and jails, but as this kind of gain
no longer exists, if it is wished to derive other productions from these
possessions, and not to lose them entirely, it will be necessary to change
the nature of our speculations, and to direct our views and our efforts to
the continent, where industry and agriculture promise riches, the
production of which humanity will applaud.

The point which seems most proper for an agricultural establishment, is
Cape Belair, a league and a half to the leward of Goree: its soil is a rich
black mould, lying on a bed of Lava, which seems to come from the Mamelles.
It is there that other large vegetables, besides the Baobabs, begin to be
more numerous, and which, farther on, towards Cape Rouge, cover, like a
forest, all the shores. The wells of Ben, which supply Goree with water,
are but a short distance from it, and the lake of Tinguage, begins in the
neighbourhood. This lake, which is formed, in a great measure, by the rain
water of the Peninsula, contains a brackish water, which it is easy to
render potable; it is inhabited by the Guésiks, or Guia-Sicks of the
Yoloffes, or Black Crocodiles of Senegal; but it would be easy to destroy
these animals. In September, this lake seems wholly covered with white
nymphaea, or water-lilly, and in winter time it is frequented by a
multitude of waterfowl, among which, are distinguished by their large size,
die great pelican, the fine crested crane, which has received the name of
the royal-bird, the gigantic heron, known in Senegambia by the venerable
name of Marabou, on account of its bald head, with a few scattered white
hairs, its lofty stature, and its dignified gait.

Considered geologically, the Island of Goree is a group of basaltic columns
still standing, but a part of which seem to have experienced the action of
the same cause of destruction and overthrow, as the columns of the same
formation of Cape Verd, because they are inclined and overthrown in the
same direction.

Cape Verd is a peninsula about five leagues and a half long; the breadth is
extremely variable. At its junction, with the continent, it is about four
leagues broad; by the deep recess which the Bay of Daccard forms, it is
reduced, near that village, to 600 toises, and becomes broader afterwards.
This promontory, which forms the most western part of Africa, is placed, as
it were, at the foot of a long hill, which represents the ancient shore of
the continent. On the sea-shore, and towards the north-east, there are two
hills of unequal height, which serve as a guide to mariners; and which,
from the substances collected in their neighbourhood, evidently shew that
they are the remains of an ancient volcano. They have received the name of
Mamelles. From this place, to the western extremity of the Peninsula, the
country rises towards the north-east, and terminates in a sandy beach on
the opposite side.

Almost the whole north-side is composed of steep rocks, covered with large
masses of oxyd of iron, or with regular columns of basalt which, for the
most part, still preserve their vertical position. Their summits, which are
sometimes scorified, seem to prove that they have been exposed to a great
degree of heat. The soil which covers the plateau, formed by the summit of
the Basaltic columns, the sides of which assume towards the Mamelles, the
appearance of walls of Trapp, but already, in a great degree, changed into
tuf, is arid and covered with briars. The soil of the Mamelles, like almost
all that of the middle of the Peninsula, which appears to lie upon
argillaceous lava, in a state of decomposition, is much better. There are
even to be found, here and there, some spots that are very fertile; this is
the arable land of the inhabitants. Towards the south, all resumes more or
less, the appearance of a desert; and the sands, though less destitute of
vegetable mould, extend from thence to the sea-shore. It is by manuring the
land, with the dung of their cattle, that the Negroes raise pretty good
crops of sorgho. The population of this peninsula may be estimated at ten
thousand souls. It is entirely of the Yoloffe race, and shews much
attachment to all the ceremonies of Islamism. The Marabous or Priests,
sometimes mounted on the top of the Nests of the Termites, or on the walls
surrounding their mosque, call the people several times a-day to prayer.

The social state of this little people, is a kind of republic governed by a
senate, which is composed of the chiefs of most of the villages. They have
taken from the Coran the idea of this form of government, as is the
case with most of those, established among the nations who follow that law.

At the time of the expedition of the Medusa this senate was composed as

Moctar, supreme chief resident of      Daccard.
Diacheten, chief of the village of     Sinkieur.
Phall                                  Yokedieff.
Tjallow-Talerfour                      Graff.
Mouim                                  Bott.
Bayémour                               Kayé.
Modiann                                Ketdym.
Mamcthiar                              Symbodioun.
Ghameu                                 Wockam.
Diogheul, chief of the village of      Gorr.
Baindonlz                              Yoff.
Mofall                                 Ben.
Schenegall                             Bambara.

This tribe was formerly subject to a Negro King in the neighbourhood; but
having revolted against him, though very inferior in numbers, it defeated
his army a few years ago. The bones of the vanquished, that still lie
scattered on the plain, attest the victory. A wall, pierced with
loop-holes, which they erected in the narrowest part of the Peninsula, and
which the enemy was unable to force, chiefly contributed to their success.
The Yolloffes are in general handsome and their facial angle has hardly any
thing of the usual deformity of the Negroes. Their common food is
cous-cous, with poultry, and above all fish; their drink is brackish water,
mixed with milk and sometimes with palm wine. The poor go on foot, the rich
on horseback, and some ride upon bulls, which are always very docile, for
the Negroes are eminently distinguished by their good treatment of all
animals. Their wealth consists in land and cattle; their dwellings are
generally of reeds, their beds are mats made of _Asouman_ (maranta juncea)
and leopards' skins; and their cloathing broad pieces of cotton. The women
take care of the children, pound the millet, and prepare the food; the men
cultivate the land, go a hunting and fishing, weave the stuff for their
clothes, and gather in the wax.

Revenge and idleness seem to be the only vices of these people; their
virtues are charity, hospitality, sobriety, and love of their children. The
young women are licentious, but the married women are generally chaste and
attached to their husbands. Their diseases among the children, are worms,
and umbilical hernia; among the old people, and particularly those who have
travelled much, blindness and opthalamia; and among the adult, affections
of the heart, obstructions, sometimes leprosy, and rarely elephantiasis.
Among the whole population of the Peninsula, there is only one person with
a hunch back, and two or three who are lame. During the day they work or
rest; but the night is reserved for dancing and conversation. As soon as
the sun has set, the tambourine is heard, the women sing; the whole
population is animated; love and the ball set every body in motion.
"_Africa dances all the night_," is an expression which has become
proverbial among the Europeans who have travelled there.

There is not an atom of calcareous stone in the whole country: almost all
the plants are twisted and thorny. The Monbins are the only species of
timber that are met with. The thorny asparagus, A. retrofractus, is found
in abundance in the woods; it tears the clothes, and the centaury of Egypt
pricks the legs. The most troublesome insects of the neighbourhood are
gnats, bugs, and ear-wigs. The monkey, called cynocephalus, plunders the
harvests, the vultures attack the sick animals, the striped hyoena and the
leopard prowl about the villages during the night; but the cattle are
extremely beautiful, and the fish make the sea on this coast boil, and foam
by their extraordinary numbers. The hare of the Cape and the gazell are
frequently met with. The porcupines, in the moulting season, cast their
quills in the fields, and dig themselves holes under the palm trees. The
guinea-fowl (Pintada), the turtle-dove, the wood-pigeon are found every
where. In winter immense flocks of plovers of various species, are seen on
the edges of the marshes, and also great numbers of wild ducks. Other
species frequent the reeds, and the surface of the water is covered with
geese of different kinds, among which is that whose head bears a fleshy
tubercle like that of the cassowary. The fishing nets are made of date
leaves; their upper edge is furnished, instead of cork, with pieces of the
light wood of the _Asclepias_.--The sails of the canoes are made of cotton.

Several shrubs, and a large number of herbaceous plants of this part of
Africa, are found also in the Antilles. But among the indigenous plants,
are the Cape Jessamine, the _Amaryllis Rubannée_, the Scarlet Hoemanthus,
the Gloriosa Superba, and some extremely beautiful species of _Nerions_. A
new species of Calabash, (Crescentia) with pinnated leaves is very common.
Travellers appear to have confounded it with the Baobab, on account of the
shape of its fruits, the thickness of its trunk, and the way in which its
branches grow. Its wood, which is very heavy and of a fallow colour, has
the grain and smell of ebony: its Yoloffe name is Bonda, the English have
cut down and exported the greatest part of it.

In short, Africa, such as we have seen it either on the banks of the
Senegal or the Peninsula of Cape Verd, is a new country, which promises to
the naturalist an ample harvest of discoveries, and to the philosophical
observer of mankind, a vast field for research and observation. May the
detestable commerce in human flesh, which the Negroes abhor, and the Moors
desire, cease to pollute these shores! It is the only means which the
Europeans have left to become acquainted with the interior of this vast
continent, and to make this great portion of the family of mankind, by
which it is inhabited participate in the benefits of civilization.

[1] The _Medusa_ was armed en flute, having only 14 guns on board;
it was equipped at Rochefort with the _Loire_.

[2] Equipped at Brent.

[3] Came from L'Orient.

[4] The town of Chassiron is on the point of Oleron, opposite a
bank of rocks called _Les Antiochats_.

[5] The light house of La Baleine is placed at the other end of
the Pertuis d'Antioche, on the coast of the Isle of Rhé.

[6] _Les Roches Bonnes _are 8 or 9 leagues from the Isle of Rhé,
their position is not exactly determined on the charts.

[7] Three knots make a marine league of 5556 meters.

[8] These are very large fish which every moment appear on the
surface of the water, where they tumble about. They pass with such
prodigious rapidity, that they will swim round a ship, when it is going at
the rate of nine or ten knots an hour.

[9] The life buoy, is made of cask staves hooped together, and is
about a metre (something more than a yard.) in diameter, in the middle of
which is a little mast to fix a flag to. It is thrown into the sea, as soon
as a man falls overboard, that he may place himself upon it while the
operation of lowering a boat down, or heaving the, vessel to, is

[10] We do not know why the government makes its vessels take this
route; when one can proceed directly to the Canaries: it is true they are
often obscured by mists, but there are no dangers in the principal canals
which they form, and they extend over so large a space that it is
impossible not to recognise them, with facility. They have also the
advantage of being placed in the course of the monsoons; though however,
west winds sometimes blow for several days together. We think that vessels
going to the East Indies might dispense with making Madeira and Porto
Santo, the more so as there are many shoals near these islands; besides the
rocks, of which we have spoken above there is another, to the N. E. of
Porto Santo, on which many vessels have been lost; by night all these reefs
are very dangerous, by day they are recognised by the breakers on them.

[11] This route was not recommended by the instructions, but there
was on board an old sea officer, who announced himself as a pilot in these
seas; his advice was unfortunately attended to.

[12] A description of the reef of Arguin may be found in the
_Little Sea Torch_.

[13] Besides the instructions given by the Minister, for sailing,
after having made Cape Blanco, there was a letter sent some days before our
departure from the road of the Isle of Aix, recommending the commander of
the expedition not to depend upon the Charts, upon which the reef is very
erroneously placed.

[14] Mr. Lapérère, the officer on the watch before Mr. Maudet,
found by his reckoning, that we were very near the reef; he was not
listened to, though he did his utmost, at least to ascertain our situation
by sounding. We have mentioned the names of Messrs. Lapérère and Maudet,
because if they had been attended to, the Medusa would be still in

[15] This was not the long boat of the frigate; it was a boat in
no very good condition, which was to be left at Senegal, for the service of
the port.

[16] The bottom was besides soft; being sand mixed with grey mud,
and shells, the raft, were also put over board: the two lower yards were
retained in their place, to serve as shores to the frigate, and to support
it, in case it threatened to upset.

[17] This plan was shewn to several persons; we ourselves saw it
in the hands of the governor, who sketched it, leaning on the great

[18] Two officers displayed the greatest activity, they would have
thrown into the sea every thing that could be got overboard. They were
permitted to proceed for a moment; and the next moment contrary orders were

[19] Why was it opposed?

[20] The numbers above mentioned make only three hundred and
eighty-three, so that there is an error somewhere. T.

[21] _Trois quarts_: it is not said of what measure; probably a

[22] The original is _n'ayant pas le pié marin_, not having a
sailors foot.

[23] Our Lady of Laux is in the Department of the Upper Alps, not
far from Gap. A church has been built there, the patroness of which is much
celebrated, in the country, for her miracles. The lame, the gouty, the
paralytic, found there relief, which it is said, never failed.
Unfortunately, this miraculous power did not extend, it seems, to
shipwrecked persons: at least the poor sutler drew but little advantage
from it.

[24] One of the water casks was recovered; but the mutineers had
made a large hole in it, and the sea water got in, so that the fresh water
was quite spoiled; we, however, kept the little cask as well as one of the
wine barrels, which was empty. These two casks were afterwards of use to

[25] These fish are very small; the largest is not equal to a
small herring.

[26] This plot, as we learned afterwards, was formed particularly
by a Piedmontese serjeant; who, for two days past, had endeavoured to
insinuate himself with us, in order to gain our confidence. The care of the
wine was entrusted to him: he stole it in the night, and, distributed it to
some of his friends.

[27] We had all put together in one bag the money we had, in order
to purchase provisions and hire camels, to carry the sick, in case we
should land on the edge of the desert. The sum was fifteen hundred francs.
Fifteen of us were saved, and each had a hundred francs. The commander of
the raft and a captain of infantry divided it.

[28] One of these soldiers was the same Piedmontese serjeant of
whom we have spoken above; he put his comrades forward, and kept himself
concealed in case their plot should fail.

[29] Persons shipwrecked, in a situation similar to ours, have
found great relief by dipping their clothes in the sea, and wearing them
thus impregnated with the water; this measure was not employed on the fatal

[30] Perhaps a kind of sea-nettle is here meant.

[31] What is called a fish, is a long piece of wood concave on one
side, serving to be applied to the side of a mast, to strengthen it when in
danger of breaking, it is fastened by strong ropes; hence, to fish a mast.

[32] The conduct of this young man merits some recompense. At the
end of 1816, there was a promotion of 80 midshipmen, who were to be taken
from the _élèves_ who had been the longest in the service; Mr. Rang was.
amongst the first 70, according to the years he had been in the service,
and should therefore have been named by right. In fact, it is said that he
was placed on the list of Candidates; but that his name was struck out
because some young men, (whom they call _protégés_) applied to the
ministry, and were preferred.

[33] This report of a mutiny, among the crew of the long-boat,
began to circulate as soon as it joined the line which the boats formed
before the raft. The following is what was told us: when the boats had
abandoned the raft, several men, in the long-boat, subaltern officers of
the troops on board, exclaimed: _"let us fire on those who fly;"_ already
their muskets were loaded; but the officer, who commanded, had influence
enough to hinder them from executing their purpose. We have also been told
that one F. a quarter-master, presented his piece at the captain of the
frigate. This is all we have been able to collect concerning this pretended

[34] The fruit here mentioned, is probably jujubes (ziziphum), in
their last stage of maturity. The author of this note, has found in the
deserts of Barbary, and the shades of the Acacias, some immense _jujubes_;
but, besides this fruit, the only one of a red or reddish colour which he
has remarked in this country, are those of some _caparidées_, very acid;
some _icaques_ before they are ripe; the _tampus_ or _sebestum_ of Africa,
and the wood of a _prasium_, which is very common in most of the dry
places: the calyx of which, is swelled, succulent, and of an orange colour,
good to eat, and much sought after by the natives.

[35] Is it really maize (zea) which has been observed about this
_Marigot_, in large plantations? This name is so often given to varieties
of the Sorgho, or dourha of the negroes, that there is probably a mistake
here. In a publication, printed since this expedition, it has been stated,
that maize was cultivated in the open fields, by the negroes of Cape Verd,
whereas they cultivate no species of grain, except two kinds of _houlques_,
to which they add, here and there, but in smaller fields, a kind of
haricot, or French bean, _dolique unguiculé_, which they gather in October,
and a part of which they sell at Goree and St. Louis, either in pods or
seed. The dishes which they prepare with this _dolique_, are seasoned with
leaves of the Baobab, (Adansonia) reduced to powder, and of cassia, with
obtuse leaves, and still fresh. As for the cous-cous, the usual food of the
negroes, it is made of the meal of sorgho, boiled up with milk. To obtain
this meal, they pound the millet in a mortar, with a hard and heavy pestle
of mahogony, (_mahogon_) which grows on the banks of Senegal. The _mahogon_
or _mahogoni_ which, according to naturalists, has a great affinity to the
family of the _miliacées_, and which approaches to the genus of the
_cedrelles_, is found in India, as well as in the Gulph of Mexico, where it
is beginning to grow scarce. At St. Domingo, it is considered as a species
of _acajou_,[36] and they give it that name. The yellow _mahogoni_, of
India, furnishes the satin wood. There is also the _mahogoni febrifuge_,
the bark of which supplies the place of the Peruvian bark. Lamarque has
observed that the _mahogon_ of Senegal has only eight stamina; the other
kinds have ten.

[36] Acajou is, we believe, generally used for mahogany.--T.

[37] The probity and justice of General Blanchot were so fully
appreciated by the inhabitants of St. Louis, that when his death deprived
the colony of its firmest support, all the merchants and officers of the
government united to raise a monument to him, in which the remains of this
brave general still repose. It was a short time after his death that the
English took possession of St Louis, and all the officers of that nation
joined in defraying the expences of the erection of the monument, on which
there is an epitaph beginning with these words: _"Here repose the remains
of the brave and upright General Blanchot,"_ &c. We think it not foreign to
the purpose, to publish a trait which will prove how far General Blanchot
carried his ideas of justice; every man, of sensibility, reads with
pleasure, the account of a good action, particularly when it belongs to an
hero of his own nation.

Some time before Senegal was given up to the English, St. Louis was
strictly blockaded, so that all communication with France was absolutely
impossible; in a short time the colony was short of all kinds of
provisions. The prudent general called an extraordinary council, to which
he invited all the chief inhabitants of the town, and the officers of
government. It was resolved not to wait till the colony was destitute of
provisions; and that, in order to hold out to the last extremity, all the
inhabitants, without distinction of colour, or of rank, should have only a
quarter of a ration of bread, and two ounces of rice or millet per day; to
execute this decree, all the provisions were removed into the government
magazines, and the general gave orders that it should be punctually
followed. Some days after these measures were taken, the governor,
according to his custom, invited the authorities to dine with him; it was
understood that every one should bring his portion of bread and of rice;
nevertheless, a whole loaf was served up on the governor's table. As soon
as he perceived it, he asked his servants who could have given orders to
the store-keeper to suspend, in respect to himself, the decree of the
general council? All the company then interfered, and said that the council
had never had any idea of putting him upon an allowance, and that he ought
to permit this exception. The General, turning to one of his aides-de-camp,
said: "go and tell the store-keeper, that I put him provisionally under
arrest, for having exceeded my orders; and you, gentlemen, know that I am
incapable of infringing on the means of subsistance of the unhappy slaves,
who would certainly want food, while I had a superfluous supply on my
table: learn that a French general knows how to bear privations, as well as
the brave soldiers under his command." During the short time of the
scarcity, which lasted four months, the General would never permit a larger
ration to be given to him, than that which came to the meanest slave; his
example prevented every body from murmuring, and the colony was saved.
While they were suffering the severest privations the harvest was
approaching, and, at length, delivered St. Louis from the scarcity. At the
same time, vessels arrived from France, and brought abundant supplies. But
soon after, the English returned to besiege St. Louis, and made themselves
master of it. Though this note has carried us rather away from our subject,
we would not pass over in silence, so honorable a trait; it is a homage
paid to the memory of the brave General Blanchot. We may add, that after
having been governor, during a long series of years, he died without
fortune. How few men do we find who resemble Blanchot?

[38] Every body knows the popular proverb, which very well
expresses our idea: "_That which is worth taking, is worth keeping_."

[39] It will hardly be believed to how many popular reports, these
100,000 francs have given rise. There are people who do not believe that
they were ever embarked on board the frigate. How do they explain this
supposition? It is by asking how the conduct of persons, who had sold the
interest of their country, and their honor, to foreign interests, would
have been different from that of certain persons? For our part, we do not
doubt but that this report is a fable. The folly, the pride, the obstinacy
which conducted us on the bank of Arguin, have no need of having another
crime added to them. Besides, if there are, sometimes, persons who sell
their honor, there are none who, at the same time, sell their lives; and
those whom people would accuse of something more than extreme incapacity,
have sufficiently proved in dangers which threatened themselves, that they
well knew how to provide for their own safety.

[40] Probably the cross of the legion of honor--T.

[41] These desertions are unhappily too frequent in naval history.
The _St. John the Baptist_ stranded in 1760 on the isle of Sables, where 87
poor people were abandoned, in spite of the promises to come and fetch
them, made by 320 of the shipwrecked persons, who almost all saved
themselves upon the island of Madagascar. Eighty negroes and negresses
perished for want of assistance, some of hunger, some in attempting to save
themselves upon rafts. Seven negresses and a child who lived there for
fifteen years, were exposed to the most terrible distresses, and were saved
in 1776 by Mr. de Trommelin, commanding the Dauphine corvette.

The Favorite, commanded by Captain Moreau, fell in with the island of Adu
in 1767; he sent a boat on shore with a crew of eight men, commanded by Mr.
Rivière, a navy officer, but Moreau abandoned them, because the currents
drove him towards the island; and he returned to the isle of France, where
he took no step to induce the government to send them assistance. The brave
Rivière and all his sailors succeeded in saving themselves on the coast of
Malabar, by means of a raft and his boat; he landed at Cranganor, near

One may conceive that at the first moment the presence of danger may
derange the senses, and that then people may desert their companions on
board a vessel; but not to go to their assistance, when the danger is
surmounted, not to hasten to fly to their relief, this is inconceivable.

[42] Persons whom we could name, divided the great flag, and cut
it up into table-cloths, napkins, &c. we mention with the distinction which
they deserve, Sophia, a negress belonging to the governor, and Margaret, a
white servant.

[43] They dined almost every day with the English officers; but in
the evening they were obliged to return to the fatal hospital, where an
infinite number of victims languished: if, by chance, one of the
convalescents failed to come, their generous and benevolent hosts sent to
the hospital, anxiously enquiring the cause of his absence.

[44] The affair of the coal-mine of Beaujon, as a journalist has
well observed, insures lasting celebrity to the name of the brave Goffin,
whose memory the French Academy has consecrated by a poetical prize; and
the city of Liege, by a large historical picture which has been publicly
exhibited.--Doubtless the devotedness of Goffin was sublime; but, Goffin
was only the victim of a natural accident, no sentiment of honour and duty,
had plunged him voluntarily into an imminent danger, as it had many of
those on the raft, and which, several of them might have avoided. Goffin,
accusing only fate and the laws of nature, to which we are subject, in
every situation, had not to defend his soul against all the odious and
terrible impressions of all the unchained passions of the human heart:
hatred, treachery, revenge, despair, fratricide, all the furies in short,
did not hold up to him their hideous and threatening spectres; how great a
difference does the nature of their sufferings, suppose in the souls of
those who had to triumph over the latter? and yet, what a contrast in the
results! Goffin was honored and, with justice; the men shipwrecked on the
raft, once proscribed, seem to be forever forsaken. Whence is that
misfortune so perseveringly follows them? Is it that, when power has been
once unjust, has no means to efface its injustice but to persist in it, no
secret to repair its wrongs, but to aggravate them?

[45] Three men saved from the raft, died in a very short time;
those who crossed the desert, being too weak to go to Daccard, were in
considerable numbers in this same hospital, and perished there

[46] Major Peddy had fought against the French in the Antilles and
in Spain; the bravery of our soldiers, and the reception given him in
France at the time of our disasters, had inspired him with the greatest
veneration for our countrymen, who had, on more than one occasion, shewn
themselves generous towards him.

[47] The Governor, who it seems did not like the sight of the
unfortunate, had, however, no reason to fear that it would too much affect
his sensibility. He had elevated himself above the misfortunes of life, at
least, when they did not affect himself, to a degree of impassibility,
which would have done honor to the most austere stoic and which, doubtless,
indicates the head of a statesman, in which superior interests, and the
thought of the public good, leave no room for vulgar interests, for mean
details, for care to be bestowed on the preservation of a wretched
individual. Thus, when the death of some unhappy Frenchman was announced to
him, this news no further disturbed his important meditations than to make
him say to his secretary, "Write, that Mr. such a one is dead."

The governor is, at the bottom, doubtless, a man not destitute of
sensibility; for example, he never passed by the king's picture (if any
strangers were present) but he shed tears of emotion. But his great
application to business, the numerous occupations, the divers enterprises
which have agitated his life, have, if we may so express it, so long
distracted his thoughts that he has at length felt the necessity of
concentrating them wholly in himself.

We cannot here become the historians of the governor; we do not know
whether his modesty will ever permit him to publish the memoirs of his
life; but the public who know, or easily may know, that having been an
apothecary in Bengal, a physician in Madagascar, a dealer in small wares,
and land-surveyor in Java, a shopkeeper's clerk in the isle of France and
Holland, an engineer in the camp of Batavia, commandant at Guadaloupe,
chief of a bureau at Paris, he has succeeded after passing through all
these channels, in obtaining the orders of St. Louis, and the Legion of
Honor, the rank of colonel, and the command of a colony; the public, we
say, will reasonable conclude, that the governor is, without doubt, a
universal man, and that it is very natural that so superior a genius should
have set himself above many little weaknesses, which would have arrested
his flight, and which are proper for none but weak minds, for good people
who are made to creep on upon the common route, and to crawl on the

[48] The giving up of the colony did not take place till six
months after our shipwreck. It was not till the 25th of January, 1817, that
we took possession of our settlements on the coast of Africa.

[49] What would our good Major have said if he had known that our
Minister of the Marine, Mr. Dubouchage, had exposed himself in a far
greater degree, to the embarrassment of the species of shame, attributed to
him here, by confiding seven or eight expeditions to officers who do no
more honour to his choice and discernment, than the expedition to Senegal
has done.

Besides the Medusa, which was conducted so directly upon the bank of
Arguin, by the Viscount de Chaumareys, Knight of St. Louis, and of the
Legion of Honour, and in the intervals of his campaigns, receiver of the
_droits réunis_, at Bellac, in Upper Vienne, every body knows that the
Golo, bound from Toulon to Pondichery, nearly perished on the coast, by the
unskilfulness of the Captain, Chevalier Amblard, Knight of St. Louis, and
the Legion of Honour, who, in order not to lose sight of maritime affairs,
had become a salt merchant, near Toulon. Neither is the _début_ of the
Viscount de Cheffontaine forgotten, who, on quitting Rochefort, whence he
was to sail to the Isle of Bourbon, put into Plymouth to repair his masts,
which he had lost after being three or four days at sea. Who does not know
that it would be in our power to mention more examples of this kind?

We spare the French reader these recollections, which are always painful;
besides, what could our weak voice add to the eloquent expressions which
resounded in the last session, in the chamber of deputies: when a member,
the friend of his country and of glory, pointed out the errors of the
Minister of the Marine, and raised his voice against those _shadows of
officers_ whom favor elevated to the most important posts. He represented,
with reason, how prejudicial it was to government, that the command of
ships and colonies should be given as caprice dictates, and to gratify the
pretentions of vain pride, while experienced officers were overlooked, or
disdainfully repulsed, condemned to figure on the lists of the half-pay, of
the _reforms_, and even before the time, which would have called them to a
necessary, or at least legal repose. How burdensome to the State, are these
_retraites_ which render useless, men whose zeal and talents ought to
insure no other than their vessel, who wished but to spend their life there
in uninterrupted service, who would have found there a tomb, the only one
worthy of a French sailor, rather than suffer any thing contrary to duty
and honour. Instead of that, we have seen titles take the reward of
knowledge, repose of experience, and protection of merit. Men proud of
thirty years of obscurity, make them figure on the lists, as passed under
imaginary colours, and this service of a novel description establishes for
them the right of seniority. These men, decorated with ribbons of all
colours, who counted very well the number of their ancestors, but of whom
it would have been useless to ask an account of their studies, being called
to superior commands, have not been able to shew anything but their orders,
and their unskilfulness. They have done more: they have had the privilege
of losing the vessels and the people of the State, without its being
possible for the laws to reach them; and after all, how could a tribunal
have condemned them? They might have replied to their judges, that they had
not passed their time in studying the regulations of the service, or the
laws of the marine, and that, if they had failed, it was without knowledge
or design. In fact, it would be difficult to suppose that they intended
their own destruction; they have but too well proved that they knew how to
provide for their own safety. And what reply could have been made to them,
if they had confined their defence to these two points?  We did not appoint
ourselves; it is not we who are to blame.

[50] Just as we are going to send this sheet to the press, we
learn from the newspapers, that this expedition has failed; that it was not
able to proceed above fifty leagues into the interior, and that it returned
to Sierra Leone, after having lost several officers, and among them Captain
Campbell, who had taken the command after the death of Major Peddy. Thus
the good fall and the Thersites live, and are often even honoured. Captain
Campbell was one of our benefactors, may his manes be sensible to our
regret, and may his family and country permit us to mingle with their just
affliction, this weak tribute of respect, by which we endeavour as far as
lies in our power to discharge the sacred debt of gratitude!

Among the losses which this expedition has experienced, it is feared that
we must reckon that of our excellent companion, the Naturalist Kummer;
nevertheless, as no positive information of his death has yet been received
of his fate, his numerous friends, in the midst of their fears, still
cherish some hopes: May they not be disappointed.

The accounts which inform us of this event, attribute the ill success of
the expedition, to the obstacles opposed to it by the natives of the
interior, but enter into no details. We learn from geographers, that up
the Rio Grande there lives the warlike nation of the Souucsous, whom some
call the _Fonllahs_ of Guinea. The name of their capital is Teembo. They
are Mahometans, and make war on the idolatrous tribes who surround them, to
sell their prisoners. A remarkable institution, called the _Pouarh_, seems
to have a great resemblance with the ancient _secret Tribunal_ of Germany.
The _Pouarh_ is composed of members who are not admitted among the
initiated till they have undergone the most horrible probations. The
association exercises the power of life and death; every body shuns him,
whose head it has proscribed. It may be that it was by this species of
government, which seems not to want power, that the English expedition was

[51] This remark on the conduct of one of our companions whom we
had known, under more favourable circumstances, had cost us some pain in
the first edition: therefore, we did not expressly name the person meant.
When we now name Mr. Griffon, we conceive ourselves to be fulfilling a
duty, which his present sentiments impose on us.

A man of honor, especially, when in the state of weakness, and of mental
and bodily infirmity to which we were reduced, might be misled for a
moment; but when he repairs this involuntary error, with the generosity
which dictated the following letter, we repeat it, there is no longer any
crime in having thus erred, and it is justice, and a very pleasing duty for
us to do homage to the frankness, to the loyalty of Mr. Griffon, and to
congratulate ourselves, on having found again the heart of the companion of
our misfortunes, such as we had known him, and with all his rights to our

The following is the letter which he has just written to Mr. Savigny, and
which is a highly valuable proof of the truth of our accounts.

_Extract of a letter from Mr. Griffon to Mr. Savigny._

At present, Sir, I owe you a testimony of gratitude for your attention in
anticipating me. I know, that in your eyes I could not merit so much
generosity from you: it is noble to forget the ills that have been done us,
and to do good to those who have sought to injure us: your conduct towards
me is admirable; I confess, that, though my reclamations were just at the
first, I have suffered myself to be carried too far by the first impulse of
a weak and exalted imagination, which led me to decry my unhappy companion
in misfortune, because I fancied, that the account which he had drawn up of
our misfortunes might render us odious to all our relations and
friends.[52] Such are the reasons which I alledged to you at Rochefort, and
you must then have perceived, that I spoke to you with frankness, since I
concealed nothing from you. I am not at present without repentance, for not
having waited for better information, before I acted against one, whose
firmness did not a little contribute to save our lives.

Bourgneuf, January 7, 1818. GRIFFON DUBELLAY.

[52] The same means were employed with Mr. Corréard.

[53] I, the undersigned chief of the workmen under the command of
Mr. Corréard, engineer, geographer, one of the members of the commission
appointed by his excellency the minister of the marine and the colonies, to
examine Cape Verd and its environs, certify that, in the month of November,
1816, a memorial was presented me to sign, by order of the governor of
Senegal; that, at this time, living in the hospital in the island of Goree,
to be cured of an epidemic fever, which then raged on Cape Verd; it
occasioned temporary fits of delirium; that consequently, this weakening of
my moral faculties, and even the state of mental derangement, in which I
was caused to sign this piece without reading it: it appears, that it
tended, in part, to blame the conduct of Mr. Savigny on the raft, and for
which I owe him, only commendations. It appears, also, according to what
has been told me, that I have been made to certify, that the tow-rope broke
and was not loosened; I declare, that my signature at the bottom of this
memorial, having been surreptitiously obtained, is null and void; in
testimony whereof, I have delivered the present certificate to serve
towards repelling any attack that might be made against Mr. Savigny, on the
ground of this memorial.

Done at Paris, November 1, 1817. TOUCHE LAVILETTE.

[54] I, the undersigned, appointed to command the raft of the
Medusa frigate, certify, that Mr. Savigny, the surgeon, who embarked in the
said raft, has given on all occasions, in the unhappy situation in which we
were placed, proofs of the greatest courage and coolness, and that on
several occasions, his prudence was of the greatest service to us, in
suggesting to us means to maintain good order, and discipline, of which we
had so much need, and which it was so difficult for us to obtain.

(Signed) COUDIN.

[55] I, the undersigned, certify, that Mr. Savigny, by his courage
and coolness, succeded in maintaining good order upon the raft, and that,
his prudent arrangements saved the lives of the fifteen unfortunate
persons, who were taken up by the _Argus _brig.


[56] I, the undersigned, certify, to all whom it may concern, that
I have refused to sign a memorial drawn up by Mr.------, which was
addressed to his excellency the minister of the marine, and tended to
disapprove the conduct of Mr. Savigny on board the raft, as well as to
refute some parts of the narrative of our shipwreck, inserted in the
_Journal des Débats_, the 13th of September, 1816, besides, the events
related in this memorial, appear to me so entirely false, and so contrary
to all that we owe to Mr. Savigny, that it was impossible for me to pat my
name to it.


[57] The Board of Health certifies, that Mr. Jean Baptiste Henry
Savigny, has been employed in the character of surgeon, from the 15th of
April, 1811, to the 5th of May, 1817, and that in the course of his
service, both by sea and land, he has given proofs of zeal, emulation, and
good conduct.

It is with regret, that the Board of Health, sees an officer retire from
the service, who is so distinguished by his talents as Mr. Savigny.


[58] _To His Excellency the British Ambassador, at the Court of

My Lord,

A Frenchman who, after a shipwreck without parallel, has been fraternally
assisted by foreigners whom national interests seemed calculated to
estrange from him, is eager to give utterance to the sentiments of
gratitude with which he is filled.

This Frenchman, My Lord, is Alexander Corréard, an engineer, an honorary
member of the commission appointed to examine Cape Verd and its environs,
one of the fifteen persons who escaped out of the hundred and fifty
individuals shipwrecked, with the raft of the Medusa frigate, of whom only
eleven are still living.

It is this want of my heart, which emboldens me to address Your Excellency,
the worthy representative in my country of that of my generous benefactors,
whose names will be ever memorable in the annals of humanity.

Yes, My Lord, it is a duty delightful to my heart, to declare, that the
justest title to the gratitude of all the French has been acquired by Major
Peddy, commanding the Expedition to the Interior of Africa, charged to
continue the great undertaking of Mungo Park, by the obliging generosity
which he shewed to the unfortunate men who escaped from the fatal raft, by
bestowing on them linen, clothes, money and admitting them to his table,
&c. These attentions were aided by Captain Campbell, the second in command,
who never ceased to load me also with his benefits; in short, in imitation
of them, all the English Officers, both those of the Expedition, as of the
Royal African Regiment in garrison at St. Louis, vied with each other in
relieving us, especially Captain Chemme, Lieutenant Hommera, Adjutant-Major
Grey, Ensigns Beurthonne and Adams.

May Your Excellency receive with kindness, the sincere expression of
gratitude to the English nation, of a French private citizen who has been
ruined by this dreadful disaster. Above all, may what he has experienced
give his countrymen fresh reason to esteem these brave officers, at the
same time that it is a proof of the wisdom of a government, which, among so
many enlightened persons, has so well chosen, to finish an immense
enterprise, co-operators, whose distinguished talents and social virtues,
must ensure success, which promises such great advantages to the universe.

Relying on Your Excellency's generosity, Mr. Corréard begs you to be
pleased to transmit to him some information respecting his benefactors, and
particularly the honorable Major Peddy, to whom he has vowed eternal

I have the honour to be, &c.


Paris, March 5, 1817.

[59] The flute _La Caravane_, commanded by Mr. Le Normand de
Kergrist, perished in the dreadful hurricane, which was experienced at
Martinique and some other Islands, on the 21st and 22nd of October last.
Messrs. Fournier Lieutenant, Legrandais, and Lespert Midshipman, and
Paulin Boatswain, have received the cross of the Legion of Honor for their
conduct on this occasion.--Vide the _Moniteur_ of January 22.

[60] Paris, Sept. 8, 1817.

Sir.--The Memorials which you addressed on the tenth of June last, to the
King and to His Royal Highness the Duke of Angouleme, have been referred to
my apartment. I have examined the Memorials, as well as the letters which
you have written on the same subject to my predecessors. If an
opportunity should occur, in which I can serve you, I will readily embrace

Receive, Sir, the assurance of my perfect consideration.

The Minister Secretary of State of the Marine and Colonies.


[61] A kind of crab found on the sea-coast; it is the _Cancer
cursor_ of Linnaeus, and the same that is found on the shores of the

[62] The Baobab or Adansoia of botanists, is placed in the class
Monadelphia polyandria, in the family of malvaceous plants, and has but one
species. The first of these trees seen by Adanson, were twenty-seven feet
in diameter, about eighty-three feet in circumference. Ray says they have
been seen thirty feet in diameter, and Goldberry says he saw one of
thirty-four feet. According to the calculations of Adanson, a tree,
twenty-five feet in diameter, must have taken 3750 years to acquire these
dimensions, which would allow a foot growth in 150 years, or an in inch in
twelve years and a half; but an observation of Goldberry's would quite
overturn this calculation. He, in fact, measured a Baobab thirty-six years
after Adanson, and found its diameter increased by only eight lines. The
growth is not therefore uniformly progressive, and must become slower at a
certain period of the age of this tree, in a proportion which it is hardly
possible to determine. Otherwise, if we admitted that it takes thirty-six
years to increase in diameter only eight lines, it would require fifty-four
years for an inch, and 648 for a foot, which would make 16,200 years for a
tree twenty-four feet in diameter!

[63] These aigrettes or white herons, are found in large flocks in
this part of Africa; they follow the cattle to feed on the insects with
which they are infested.

[64] The blacks think that all the whites are very rich in their
own country.

[65] This lizard was probably a turpinambis. This animal, which is
not uncommon at Cape Verd, climbs up trees, frequents the marshy places,
and is said to inflict severe wounds if it is not laid hold of with great
precaution. The inhabitants of the _Mamelles_ assert that it devours young
crocodiles. This species seems to be the same as that which frequents the
banks of the Nile. It grows to the length of four feet and uses its tail in


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816 - Undertaken by Order of the French Government, Comprising an Account - of the Shipwreck of the Medusa, the Sufferings of the Crew, and the - Various Occurrences on Board the Raft, in the Desert of Zaara, at - St. Louis, and at the Camp of Daccard. to Which Are Subjoined - Observations Respecting the Agriculture of the Western Coast of - Africa, from Cape Blanco to the Mouth of the Gambia." ***

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