Friday, 24 August 2012

Lost in the Indian Ocean

November 1782  The aftermath of the hurricane on the Raynha de Portugal:

"I joined in searching amongst the heap of rubbish in the great cabin for anything worth preserving. ...After ransacking in a mass of dirt, so blended together it was difficult to separate for a long time, I got hold of a small tin case, much bruised but unbroken.  This I took to Mr Barretto as he lay in his hammock, who joyfully exclaimed it was the ship's papers.  He requested I would carefully open it and, should they be wet, get them dried, as they were of the utmost importance to him.  I directly set about it, but alas! they were totally useless, the ink being entirely effaced although written upon parchment, most of them separating into pieces in attempting to unfold them.  The only one that was at all legible, and that only partially, was Mr Barretto's Portuguese naturalisation.

Having lent my aid for the service of my friends, I next thought of my own concerns, and accordingly went to look after my escritoire,.... Upon opening it and examining the contents, everything in the way of paper was completely destroyed except three letters that I had received after all the others, and put into a leather pocket-book....What I lamented above everything else, though of no intrinsic value, was the loss of the large book in which I had copied the journals of every voyage I had made, and the remarkable circumstances that had occurred.  This was utterly destroyed, as well as my admission as an attorney of the Court of the King's bench and solicitor of the Court of Chancery which were in it."

Memoirs of a Georgian Rake   William Hickey,  edited by Roger Hudson for The Folio Society

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