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Godin des Odonais, Jean / Perils and Captivity Comprising The sufferings of the Picard family after the shipwreck of the Medusa, in the year 1816; Narrative of the captivity of M. de Brisson, in the year 1785; Voyage of Madame Godin along the river of the Amazons, in the year 1770
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PERILS AND CAPTIVITY;

COMPRISING

THE SUFFERINGS OF THE PICARD FAMILY
AFTER THE SHIPWRECK OF THE MEDUSA,
IN THE YEAR 1816.

NARRATIVE OF THE CAPTIVITY OF M. DE BRISSON,
IN THE YEAR 1785.

VOYAGE OF MADAME GODIN
ALONG THE RIVER OF THE AMAZONS,
IN THE YEAR 1770.

EDINBURGH:
PRINTED FOR CONSTABLE AND CO.
AND
THOMAS HURST AND CO. LONDON.

1827.




PREFACE.


The expeditions in which it is attempted to explore unknown and distant
oceans, are usually those which are most pregnant with adventure and
disaster. But land has its perils as well as sea; and the wanderer,
thrown into the unknown interior of the Continents of Africa and
America, through regions of burning sand and trackless forest, occupied
only by rude and merciless barbarians, encounters no less dreadful forms
of danger and suffering. Several such examples are presented in the
present volume, which exhibit peril, captivity, and 'hair-breadth
escape,' in some of their striking and tragical results.

The catastrophe of the Medusa is already known to the public, as one of
the most awful and appalling that ever befel any class of human beings.
The Shipwreck, and the dreadful scenes on the Raft, have been recorded
in the Narrative of Messrs Savigny and Corréard. But the adventures of
the party who were cast ashore, and forced to find their way through the
African Desert, could be reported only imperfectly by those gentlemen
who were not eye-witnesses. This want is supplied in the first part of
the present volume, which contains the Narrative by Mad. Dard, then
Mademoiselle Picard, one of the suffering party, and for the translation
of which, the Editor is much indebted to Mr Maxwell.

There is in it so much feeling and good sense, mixed with an amiable and
girlish simplicity, as to render it particularly engaging. There is also
something peculiarly gratifying to an Englishman in the reflection, that
such disaster could not have befallen almost any British crew. It was
evidently nothing but the utter and thorough selfishness which actuated
the leaders and most of those on board both of the ship and the raft,
which rendered the affair at all very serious. A wise plan formed and
acted upon, with a view to the general good, would have enabled them,
without difficulty, to save the crew, the cargo, and perhaps the vessel.
The narrative of the shipwreck and journey is also combined with the
adventures of an interesting Family, related in such a manner as to give
them a strong hold in our sympathy.

The Second Part of the Volume has an affinity to that which has now been
mentioned. The western coast of Africa, lying along a great maritime and
commercial route, and being heavily encumbered by rocks and shoals, has
been the theatre of frequent shipwrecks; and Europeans, when cast
ashore, have always experienced the most dreadful fate from the inhuman
and bigotted natives. Several relations of this nature have been lately
published, but under somewhat of a romantic and dubious aspect. That of
Brisson, here inserted, appears the most authentic, and at the same time
to present the most interesting and varied train of vicissitudes; and
although it is already not unknown to the English reader, its
republication, we presume, will not be altogether unacceptable.

The Third Relation carries them into quite a different quarter of the
world--to the shores of the mighty River of the Amazons in South
America, and to the boundless forests and deserts by which it is
bordered. We shall not anticipate the narrative of what befel Madame
Godin in her voyage down this river; but it will not probably be denied
to present as extraordinary a series of perils, adventures, and escapes,
as are anywhere to be found on record. It is drawn from the account of
the Mission of M. de la Condamine, sent, in 1743, by the French
Government, along with M. Bouguer and other Academicians, to measure an
arc of the meridian, under the latitude of Quito, and thus ascertain the
figure of the earth. This forms a well known and respectable source; but
the Mission being directed almost exclusively to scientific objects, the
narrative may not perhaps have often met the eye of the general reader.

_Edinburgh, August 1827._




CONTENTS.

PAGE

I. THE SHIPWRECK OF THE MEDUSA xiii

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE xvii

AUTHOR'S PREFACE xix


CHAPTER I.

M. Picard makes his first Voyage to Africa,
leaving at Paris his Wife and two young
Daughters--Death of Madame Picard--The Children
taken home to the House of their
Grandfather--Return of M. Picard after Nine years
Absence--He marries again, and Departs a short
while after, with all his Family, for
Senegal--Description of the Journey between Paris
and Rochefort 19


CHAPTER II.

Departure from Rochefort--The Picard Family Embark
in the Medusa Frigate--Account of the Voyage till
they reach the Arguin Bank 28


CHAPTER III.

The Medusa Frigate runs aground on the Arguin
Bank--Description of the Shipwreck--A Raft is
constructed--They swear not to abandon those who
wish to go upon it 35


CHAPTER IV.

The Helm of the Medusa is broken by the Waves--It
is determined to abandon the Wreck of the
Frigate--The Military are put upon the Raft--The
greater part of the Officers go into the
Boats--The Picard Family are abandoned upon the
Medusa--Proceedings of M. Picard to get his Family
into a Boat 42


CHAPTER V.

Departure of the Boats--They seem desirous of
towing the Raft--Generous Conduct of a Naval
Officer--The Abandonment of the Raft--Despair of
the Wretches who are left to the fury of the
Waves--Reproaches of M. Picard to the Authors of
the Abandoning the Raft--Description of the Small
Fleet which the Boats formed--Frightful Fate, and
Deplorable End of the greater part of the
Individuals on the Raft 48


CHAPTER VI.

The Chiefs of the Expedition order the Boats to
take the Route for Senegal--Objections of some
Generous Officers--The Shores of the Desert of
Sahara are discovered--The Sailors of the Pinnace
are desirous of Landing--The Boat in which the
Picard Family is leaks much--Unheard-of
Sufferings--Terrible Situation of the
Family--Frightful Tempest--Despair of the
Passengers 58


CHAPTER VII.

After the Frightful Tempest, the Boat, in which
are the Picard Family, is still desirous of taking
the Route to Senegal--Cruel Alternative to which
the Passengers are Driven--It is at last decided
to Gain the Coast--Description of the Landing--The
Transports of the shipwrecked 65


CHAPTER VIII.

The shipwrecked Party form themselves into a
Caravan to go by Land to Senegal--They find Water
in the Desert--Some People of the Caravan propose
to Abandon the Picard Family--Generous Conduct of
an Old Officer of Infantry--Discovery of an Oasis
of Wild Purslain--First Repast of the Caravan in
the Desert--They Fall in with a Small Camp of
Arabs--M. Picard purchases Two Kids--The Moors
offer their Services to them--Arrival at last at
the Great Camp of the Moors--M. Picard is
recognised by an Arab--Generous Proceeding of that
Arab--Sudden Departure of the Caravan--They hire
Asses 71


CHAPTER IX.

The Caravan regains the Shore--A Sail is
discovered--It brings Assistance to the
Caravan--Great Generosity of an
Englishman--Continuation of their
Journey--Extraordinary Heat--They Kill a
Bullock--Repast of the Caravan--At last they
discover the River Senegal--Joy of the
Unfortunate--M. Picard receives Assistance from
some Old Friends at Senegal--Hospitality of the
Inhabitants of the Island of St Louis towards
every Person of the Caravan 83


CHAPTER X.

The English refuse to cede the Colony of Senegal
to the French--The whole of the French Expedition
are obliged to go and encamp on the Peninsula of
Cape Verd--The Picard Family obtain leave of the
English Governor to remain at Senegal--Poverty of
that Family--Assistance which they
receive--Enterprise of M. Picard--Restoration of
the Colony to the French--Description of Senegal
and its Environs 98


CHAPTER XI.

The Sickness and Death of Madame Picard break in
upon the Happiness of the Family--M. Picard turns
his Views to Commerce--Bad Success of his
Enterprise--The Distracted Affairs of the Colony
disgust Him--The Cultivation of the Island of
Safal--Several Merchants protest against M. Picard
applying himself to Commerce--Departure of the
Expedition to the Island of Galam--M. Picard is
deprived of his Employment as Attorney--His eldest
Daughter goes to live in the Island of Safal with
two of her Brothers 112


CHAPTER XII.

Miss Picard lives in the Island of Safal--Her
Manner of living--Sufferings she endured--She
gathers Flowers which contain a deleterious
Poison--Her two Brothers fall Sick--They are
conveyed to Senegal--Miss Picard, overcome with
Melancholy, also falls Sick--State in which she is
found--A Negro boils for her an old
Vulture--Return of Miss Picard to Senegal--Her
Convalescence--Her Return to the Island of
Safal--M. Picard goes there to Live with all his
Family--Description of the Furniture of the
African Cottage--Country Life--Comfort of their
Fireside--Walks of the Family--Little Pleasures
which they enjoy 120


CHAPTER XIII.

Fresh Misfortunes--Desertion of the Working
Negroes--Return of M. Schmaltz to Senegal--Hope
Destroyed--Governor Schmaltz refuses all kind of
Assistance to the Picard Family--Tigers Devour the
Household Dog--Terror of Miss Picard--Bad
Harvest--Cruel Prospect of the Family--Increase of
Misfortunes--Some generous Persons offer
Assistance to M. Picard 131


CHAPTER XIV.

The Picard Family, tormented by the Musquitoes,
the Serpents, and Tigers, determine to remove
their Cottage to the Banks of the River--The
Poultry is discovered by the wild
Beasts--Miserable Existence of that
Family--Humiliations which it suffered--Their
Cottage is overturned by a Tempest--The labouring
Negroes form a Scheme to desert 140


CHAPTER XV.

The Colony of Senegal at War with the Moors--The
Picard Family obliged to abandon the Island of
Safal--They go to find a Home at St Louis--M.
Picard hires an Apartment for his Family and
returns to Safal with the eldest of his Sons--The
whole unfortunate Family fall sick--Return of M.
Picard to Senegal--Death of young Laura--He wishes
to return to his Island--The Children oppose
it--He falls dangerously ill--The worthy People of
the Colony are indignant at the Governor for the
State of Misery in which he has left the Picard
Family 150


CHAPTER XVI.

M. Dard, whom contrary Winds had detained ten Days
in the Port of St. Louis, comes on Shore to see M.
Picard--Agony of M. Picard--His last Words--His
Death--Despair of his Children--M. Thomas kindly
takes charge of Picard's Family--The eldest of the
Ladies goes and mourns over the Grave of her
Father--Her Resignation--M. Dard disembarks, and
adopts the Wrecks of the Picard Family--M. Dard
marries Miss Picard, and at last returns to France 159


APPENDIX.

Substance abridged from MM. Corréard and Savigny,
of what took place on the Raft during thirteen
days before the Sufferers were taken up by the
Argus Brig 169


Notes 193



II. NARRATIVE OF THE CAPTIVITY OF M. DE BRISSON IN
THE DESERTS OF AFRICA 199



III. VOYAGE OF MAD. GODIN ALONG THE RIVER OF THE
AMAZONS 307




I.

HISTORY OF THE SUFFERINGS AND MISFORTUNES
OF THE PICARD FAMILY,
AFTER THE SHIPWRECK OF THE MEDUSA,
ON THE WESTERN COAST OF AFRICA,
IN THE YEAR 1816.

FROM THE FRENCH OF MADAME DARD,
ONE OF THE SUFFERERS.

BY P. MAXWELL, ESQ.




THIS TRANSLATION
OF MADAME DARD'S NARRATIVE
OF HER SHIPWRECK AND MISFORTUNES,
IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
TO MISS AGNES MALCOLM,
BY HER AFFECTIONATE AND GRATEFUL COUSIN,
THE TRANSLATOR.




TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.


The following pages are translated from the "African Cottage," of Mad.
Dard.[1] They contain no romance, but a well authenticated story,
corroborated by the previous Narrative of MM. Corréard and Savigny.
Those gentlemen have detailed their sufferings on the fatal raft, after
the disastrous shipwreck of the Medusa frigate; but the account
concerning those who escaped, by aid of their boats, to the shores of
Sahara, deficient in their recital, is supplied by Madame Dard, who was
present at all the scenes she relates. Interwoven with the Narrative, is
an interesting account of the Picard Family, whose wrongs cannot fail to
excite pity, and to engage those feeling hearts in her favour, to whom
the fair authoress has addressed the story of her misfortunes.

[Footnote 1: "La Chaumière Africaine; ou, Histoire d'une Famille
Française jetée sur la côté occidentale de l'Afrique, à la suite
du naufrage de la Frégate la Meduse. Par Mme. Dard, née Charlotte
Adelaide Picard, aînée de cette famille, et l'une des naufragés de
la Meduse." Dijon. 1824, 12mo.]

There is not, on the records of misery, an instance of more severe and
protracted suffering; and I trust there is not, nor ever will be any,
where human nature was more foully outraged and disgraced. There are,
nevertheless, some pleasing traits of character in the story, and, I am
proud to say, some of the brightest of them belong to our own nation.
These present a beautiful relief to the selfishness and brutality which
so much abound in the dark picture; and are, to our minds, the green
spots of the Desert--the fountain and the fruit-tree--as they were in
very truth, to the poor wretches they assisted with such genuine
singleness of heart.

To the end of the Narrative I have subjoined an Appendix, translated and
abridged from the work of MM. Corréard and Savigny, detailing at greater
length the sufferings of those who were exposed upon the Raft. I have
also added some Notes, extracted from several Authors, illustrative of
various matters mentioned in the course of the Narrative.

It may be satisfactory for some readers to know, that, in 1824, Madame
Dard was living with her husband in comfort at Bligny-sous-Beaune, a
short distance from Dijon. I have lately seen in a French Catalogue, a
Dictionary and Grammar of the Woloff and Bambara languages, by M. J.
Dard, Bachelier des Sciences, Ancien Instituteur de l'Ecole du Sénégal,
brought out under the auspices of the French Government.

PATRICK MAXWELL.
_Edinburgh, July 1827._





AUTHOR'S PREFACE.


Those who have read the Account of the Shipwreck of the Medusa, by MM.
Savigny and Corréard, are already acquainted with the Picard family.

Attracted to Senegal by a faint prospect of advantage, my father, head
of that unfortunate family, could not, in spite of a good constitution
and the strength of his spirits, resist that destiny, from the mortal
influence of which none of us save three escaped out of a family of
nine. On his deathbed, he expressed to me the desire that our
misfortunes should not remain unknown. This then became my duty, and a
duty sacred to the public. I feel a pleasure in fulfilling it, and
consolation in the thought, that no feeling mind will read the story of
our misfortunes without being affected; and that those who persecuted us
will at least experience some regret.

The recital of the shipwreck of the Medusa was necessary, as much to
explain the origin of our misfortunes, as the cause of the connexion
between that disastrous event, and the terrible journey in the Desert of
Sahara, by which we at last reached Senegal. It will furnish me, also,
with an opportunity of adverting to some errors in the work of Messrs
Savigny and Corréard.

It only now remains for me to crave the indulgence of the reader for my
style. I trust such will not be refused to one who has dared to take the
pen, only in compliance with a father's dying request.




SHIPWRECK OF THE MEDUSA.


CHAPTER I.

M. PICARD MAKES HIS FIRST VOYAGE TO AFRICA, LEAVING AT PARIS HIS
WIFE AND TWO YOUNG DAUGHTERS--DEATH OF MADAME PICARD--THE
CHILDREN TAKEN HOME TO THE HOUSE OF THEIR GRANDFATHER--RETURN OF
M. PICARD AFTER NINE YEARS ABSENCE--HE MARRIES AGAIN, AND DEPARTS
A SHORT WHILE AFTER, WITH ALL HIS FAMILY, FOR
SENEGAL--DESCRIPTION OF THE JOURNEY BETWEEN PARIS AND ROCHEFORT.


About the beginning of 1800, my father solicited and obtained the
situation of resident attorney at Senegal, on the west coast of Africa.
My mother was then nursing my youngest sister, and could not be
persuaded to expose us, at so tender an age, to the fatigue and danger
of so long a voyage. At this period I was not quite two years old.

It was then resolved that my father should go alone, and that we should
join him on the following year; but my mother's hopes were disappointed,
war having rendered impossible all communication with our colonies. In
despair, at a separation which placed her nearly two thousand leagues
from her husband, and ignorant how long it might continue, she soon
after fell into a languid condition; and death deprived us of her, at
the end of five years of suffering. My grandfather, at whose house we
had hitherto lived, now became both father and mother to us; and I owe
it to the good old man to say, that his care and attention soon made us
forget we were orphans. Too young to reflect, that the condition of
happiness which we enjoyed under his guardianship would ever have an
end, we lived without a care for the future, and our years glided on in
perfect tranquillity.

Thus were we living when, in 1809, the English captured the colony of
Senegal, and permitted our father to return to his family. But what a
change did he meet with on his arrival at Paris! Wife, home, furniture,
friends, had all disappeared; and nothing remained but two young
daughters, who refused to acknowledge him for their father: so much were
our young minds habituated to see and love but one in the world--the
worthy old man who had watched over our infancy.

In 1810, our father thought fit to marry a second time; but a great
misfortune befel his children in the death of their grandfather. Our
tears were scarcely dry, when we were conducted home to her who had
become our second mother. We would hardly acknowledge her. Our sorrow
was excessive, and the loss we had sustained irreparable. But they
strove to comfort us; dresses, playthings, amusements in abundance, were
given to us to obliterate the loss of our best friend. In this state of
perfect happiness we were living, when the armies of the Allies entered
Paris in 1814.

France having had the good fortune to recover her King, and with him the
blessing of peace, an expedition was fitted out at Brest to go and
resume possession of Senegal, which had been restored to us. My father
was instantly reinstated in his place of resident attorney, and went in
the month of November to Brest.

As our family had become more numerous since the second marriage of my
father, he could only take with him our stepmother and the younger
children. My sister Caroline and myself were placed in a boarding school
at Paris, until the Minister of Marine and the Colonies would grant us a
passage; but the events of 1815 caused the expedition to Senegal to be
abandoned, while it was still in the harbour of Brest, and all the
officers dismissed. My father then returned to Paris, leaving at Brest
my stepmother, who was then in an unfit condition for travelling.

In 1816, a new expedition was fitted out. My father was ordered to
repair to Rochefort, whence it was to set off. He took measures also for
taking along with him his wife, who had remained at Brest during the
"hundred days." The design of our accompanying him to Africa, obliged
him to address a new petition to the Minister of Marine, praying him to
grant us all a passage, which he obtained.

The 23d of May was the day on which we were to quit the capital, our
relations and friends. In the meanwhile, my sister and myself left the
boarding school where we had been placed, and went to take farewell of
all those who were dear to us. One cousin, who loved us most tenderly,
could not hear of our approaching departure without shedding tears; and
as it was impossible for her to change our destiny, she offered to share
it. Immediately she appeared before the minister, and M. le Baron
Portal, struck with a friendship which made her encounter the dangers of
so long a voyage, granted her request.

At last, a beautiful morning announced to us the afflicting moment when
we were to quit Paris. The postilion, who was to convey us to Rochefort,
was already at the door of the house in which we lived, to conduct us to
his carriage, which waited for us at the Orléans gate. Immediately an
old hackney coach appeared; my father stept into it, and in an instant
it was filled. The impatient coachman cracked his whip, sparks flashed
from the horse's feet, and the street of Lille, which we had just
quitted, was soon far behind us. On arriving before the garden of the
Luxumbourg, the first rays of the morning's sun darted fiercely through
the foliage, as if to say, you forsake the zephyrs in quitting this
beautiful abode. We reached the Observatory, and in an instant passed
the gate d'Enfer. There, as yet for a moment to breathe the air of the
capital, we alighted at the Hotel du Pantheon, where we found our
carriage. After a hasty breakfast, the postilion arranged our trunks,
and off again we set. It was nearly seven in the morning when we quitted
the gates of Paris, and we arrived that evening at the little village
of d'Etampes, where our landlord, pressing us to refresh ourselves,
almost burned his inn in making us an omelet with rotten eggs. The
flames, ascending the old chimney, soon rose to the roof of the house,
but they succeeded in extinguishing them. We were, however, regaled with
a smoke which made us shed tears. It was broad day when we quitted
d'Etampes; and our postilion, who had spent the greater part of the
night in drinking with his comrades, was something less than polite. We
reproached him, but he made light of the circumstance; for, in the
evening, he was completely drunk. On the twenty-fifth of May, at ten in
the morning, my father told me we were already thirty-two leagues from
Paris. Thirty-two leagues! cried I; alas, so far! Whilst I made this
reflection, we arrived at Orléans. Here we remained about three hours to
refresh ourselves as well as our horses. We could not leave the place
without visiting the statue raised in honour of Joan of Arc, that
extraordinary woman, to whom the monarchy once owed its safety.

On leaving Orléans, the Loire, and the fertile pastures through which it
rolls its waters, excited our admiration. We had on our right the
beautiful vineyards of Beaugency. The road, as far as Amboise, is
delightful. I then began to think, that Paris and its environs might
perhaps be forgotten, if the country of Senegal, to which we were going,
was as fine as that through which we were journeying. We slept at
Amboise, which, being situated at the confluence of the Loire and the
Maise, presents a most agreeable appearance.

When we set off, the sun began to show us verdant groves, watered by the
majestic course of the river. His disk looked like a glorious lustre
suspended in the azure vault of heaven. Our road was studded on both
sides with lofty poplars, which seemed to shoot their pyramidal heads
into the clouds. On our left was the Loire, and on our right a large
rivulet, whose crystal waters every where reflected the bright beams of
the sun. The birds, with their songs, celebrated the beauty of the day,
whilst the dews, in the form of pearls, quivering fell from the tender
boughs, fanned by the zephyrs. A thousand picturesque objects presented
themselves to our view. On the one hand were delightful groves, the
sweet flowers of which perfumed the air we breathed; on the other, a
clear fountain sprang bubbling from the crevice of a rock, and, after
falling from the top of a little hill among a tuft of flowers, bent its
devious course to join the waters of the river. More distant, a small
wood of filbert trees served as a retreat to the ringdoves who cooed,
and the nightingales who chanted the spring.

We enjoyed this truly enchanting spectacle till we arrived at Tours. But
as our route from Orléans had been diversified and agreeable, from the
latter place to Rochefort it was monotonous and tiresome. However, the
towns of Chatellerault, Poitiers, and Niort made a slight change in the
sameness of the scene. From Niort to Rochefort the road was nearly
impassable. We were frequently obliged to alight from the carriage, in
order to allow the horses to drag it out from the deep ruts which we
met. In approaching to a hamlet, named Charente, we stuck so fast in the
mud, that even after removing the trunks and other baggage, we found it
almost next to an impossibility to drag it out. We were in the midst of
a wood, and no village within view. It was then resolved to wait till
some good soul would be passing, who would assist to extricate us from
our embarrassment. After vainly waiting a long hour for this expected
succour, the first people who appeared were travelling merchants, who
would not stay on any account to give us assistance. At length we saw a
young lady upon a little path, which was at the extremity of the wood,
walking with a book in her hand. My father instantly ran towards her,
and acquainted her with our situation. This lady, far from acting like
the travellers we formerly met, went to an adjoining field where were
some farmers at work, and requested them to go with their oxen to free
us from our jeopardy, and returned herself with them. When our carriage
was put in a condition to continue our route, she invited us to refresh
ourselves in her country seat, situated in the middle of the wood. We
then took the cross-way, and returned with our carriage at the instance
of the amiable lady, who received us in the most affable and generous
manner. She offered us at first some pears, which were already very
good; after which we were served with an exquisite collation, at the end
of which a child, beautiful as the loves, presented us with a basket
filled with the fairest flowers of the spring. We accepted the gift of
Flora, in testimony of our regard for our generous landlady and her
charming child. Traversing after that the park of our hospitable
hostess, we rejoined the route to Rochefort.

In paying this just tribute of remembrance to the offices of that
person who gave us so great assistance, I cannot resist the pleasure of
mentioning her name. She is the wife of M. Télotte, superior officer of
the general magazine at Rochefort.

Already the masts of the ships appeared in the horizon, and we heard in
the distance a hollow and confused sound, like that made by a multitude
of people engaged in various occupations. On approaching nearer to
Rochefort, we found that the tumult we heard was caused by the labourers
in the wood-yards and the galley-slaves, who, painfully dragging their
fetters, attended to the various labours of the port. Having entered the
town, the first picture which presented itself to our eyes was that of
these unfortunate creatures, who, coupled two and two by enormous
chains, are forced to carry the heaviest burdens. It may be mentioned,
in passing, that the sight is not very attracting to young ladies who
have never been out of Paris; for, in spite of all the repugnance we can
have for those who are condemned by the laws to live apart from society,
we can never look with indifference on that crowd of thinking beings,
degraded, by following their vicious actions, to a level with the beasts
of burden.

My mind was yet occupied with these painful reflections, when my father,
opening the door of the carriage, requested us to follow him into an
hotel in the street Dauphine, where already were our stepmother and our
young brothers and sisters, who had returned with her from Brest. Soon
our numerous family were again united. What transports of joy, what
saluting and embracing! O! there is nothing comparable to the pleasure
of meeting with those we love after a long absence!

My father went to visit the officers who were to make the voyage to
Senegal along with us. My step-mother busied herself in preparing
supper, and my sister Caroline, my cousin, and myself, went to sleep;
for any farther exercise but ill accorded with the fatigue we had
already undergone; otherwise we could easily have sat till supper, after
having eat of the good things we had had at the farm of Charente.

We spent the morrow, the 3d of June, in running about the town. In the
space of two hours we had seen every thing worth seeing. What a fine
thing a maritime town is for a maker of romances! But as I have neither
talents nor desire to write one, and as I have promised to the reader to
adhere strictly to the truth, I will content myself by telling him, that
in nine days I was tired of Rochefort.




CHAPTER II.

DEPARTURE FROM ROCHEFORT--THE PICARD FAMILY EMBARK IN THE MEDUSA
FRIGATE--ACCOUNT OF THE VOYAGE TILL THEY REACH THE ARGUIN BANK.


Early on the morning of the 12th of June, we were on our way to the
boats that were to convey us on board the Medusa, which was riding at
anchor off the island of Aix, distant about four leagues from Rochefort.
The field through which we passed was sown with corn. Wishing, before I
left our beautiful France, to make my farewell to the flowers, and,
whilst our family went leisurely forward to the place where we were to
embark upon the Charente, I crossed the furrows, and gathered a few
blue-bottles and poppies. We soon arrived at the place of embarkation,
where we found some of our fellow-passengers, who, like myself, seemed
casting a last look to Heaven, whilst they were yet on the French soil.
We embarked, however, and left these happy shores. In descending the
tortuous course of the Charente, contrary winds so impeded our progress,
that we did not reach the Medusa till the morrow, having taken
twenty-four hours in sailing four leagues. At length we mounted the
deck of the Medusa, of painful memory. When we got on board, we found
our births not provided for us, consequently were obliged to remain
indiscriminately together till next day. Our family, which consisted of
nine persons, was placed in a birth near the main deck. As the wind was
still contrary, we lay at anchor for seventeen days.

On the 17th of June, at four in the morning, we set sail, as did the
whole expedition, which consisted of the Medusa frigate, the Loire
store-ship, the Argus brig, and the Echo corvette. The wind being very
favourable, we soon lost sight of the green fields of l'Aunis. At six in
the morning, however, the island of Rhé still appeared above the
horizon. We fixed our eyes upon it with regret, to salute for the last
time our dear country. Now, imagine the ship born aloft, and surrounded
by huge mountains of water, which at one moment tossed it in the air,
and at another plunged it into the profound abyss. The waves, raised by
a stormy north-west breeze, came dashing in a horrible manner against
the sides of our ship. I know not whether it was a presentiment of the
misfortune which menaced us that had made me pass the preceding night in
the most cruel inquietude. In my agitation, I sprang upon deck, and
contemplated with horror the frigate winging its way upon the waters.
The winds pressed against the sails with great violence, strained and
whistled among the cordage; and the great hulk of wood seemed to split
every time the surge broke upon its sides. On looking a little out to
sea I perceived, at no great distance on our right, all the other ships
of the expedition, which quieted me much. Towards ten in the morning
the wind changed; immediately an appalling cry was heard, concerning
which the passengers, as well as myself, were equally ignorant. The
whole crew were in motion. Some climbed the rope ladders, and seemed to
perch on the extremities of the yards; others mounted to the highest
parts of the mast; these bellowing and pulling certain cordages in
cadence; those crying, swearing, whistling, and filling the air with
barbarous and unknown sounds. The officer on duty, in his turn, roaring
out these words, starboard! larboard! hoist! luff! tack! which the
helmsman repeated in the same tone. All this hubbub, however, produced
its effect: the yards were turned on their pivots, the sails set, the
cordage tightened, and the unfortunate sea-boys having received their
lesson, descended to the deck. Every thing remained tranquil, except
that the waves still roared, and the masts continued their creaking.
However the sails were swelled, the winds less violent, though
favourable, and the mariner, whilst he caroled his song, said we had a
noble voyage.

During several days we did indeed enjoy a delightful passage. All the
ships of the expedition still kept together; but at length the breeze
became changeable, and they all disappeared. The Echo, however, still
kept in sight, and persisted in accompanying us, as if to guide us on
our route. The wind becoming more favourable, we held due south, sailing
at the rate of sixty-two leagues a day. The sea was so fine, and our
journey so rapid, that I began to think it nearly as agreeable to travel
by sea as by land; but my illusion was not of long duration.

On the 28th of June, at six in the morning, we discovered the Peak of
Teneriffe, towards the south, the summit of whose cone seemed lost among
the clouds. We were then distant about two leagues, which we made in
less than a quarter of an hour. At ten o'clock we brought to before the
town of St Croix. Several officers got leave to go on shore to procure
refreshments.

Whilst these gentlemen were away, a certain passenger, member of the
self-instituted Philanthropic Society of Cape Verd,[2] suggested that it
was very dangerous to remain where we were, adding that he was well
acquainted with the country, and had navigated in all these latitudes.
M. Le Roy Lachaumareys, Captain of the Medusa, believing the pretended
knowledge of the intriguing Richefort, gave him the command of the
frigate. Various officers of the navy, represented to the captain how
shameful it was to put such confidence in a stranger, and that they
would never obey a man who had no character as a commander. The captain
despised these wise remonstrances; and, using his authority, commanded
the pilots, and all the crew, to obey Richefort; saying he was king,
since the orders of the king were, that they should obey him.
Immediately the impostor, desirous of displaying his great skill in
navigation, made them change the route for no purpose but that of
showing his skill in manœuvring a ship. Every instant he changed the
tack, went, came, and returned, and approached the very reefs, as if to
brave them. In short, he beat about so much, that the sailors at length
refused to obey him, saying boldly that he was a vile impostor. But it
was done. The man had gained the confidence of Captain Lachaumareys,
who, ignorant of navigation himself, was doubtless glad to get some one
to undertake his duty. But it must be told, and told, too, in the face
of all Europe, that this blind and inept confidence was the sole cause
of the loss of the Medusa frigate, as well as of all the crimes
consequent upon it.

[Footnote 2: This Society, which was so ill named _Philanthropic_,
was composed of sixty individuals of all nations, among whom
figured Hébrard, Corréard,[3] Richefort, &c. They had obtained
from government a free passage, and authority to go and cultivate
the peninsula of Cape Verd; but that new colony afterwards ended
like that of Champ-d'Asile.]

[Footnote 3: Not that Corréard, the coadjutor of Savigny,
mentioned in the Author's preface. _Trans._]

Towards three in the afternoon, those officers who had gone on shore in
the morning, returned on board loaded with vegetables, fruits, and
flowers. They laughed heartily at the manœuvres that had been going on
during their absence, which doubtless did not please the captain, who
flattered himself he had already found in his pilot Richefort _a good
and able seaman_: such were his words. At four in the afternoon we took
a southerly direction. M. Richefort then beaming with exultation for
having, as he said, saved the Medusa from certain shipwreck, continued
to give his pernicious counsels to Captain Lachaumareys, persuading him
he had been often employed to explore the shores of Africa, and that he
was perfectly well acquainted with the Arguin Bank. The journals of the
29th and 30th afford nothing very remarkable.

The hot winds from the desert of Sahara began to be felt, which told us
we approached the tropic; indeed, the sun at noon seemed suspended
perpendicularly above our heads, a phenomenon which few among us had
ever seen.

On the 1st of July, we recognised Cape Bojador, and then saw the shores
of Sahara. Towards ten in the morning, they set about the frivolous
ceremony which the sailors have invented for the purpose of exacting
something from those passengers who have never crossed the line. During
the ceremony, the frigate doubled Cape Barbas, hastening to its
destruction. Captain Lachaumareys very good humouredly presided at this
species of baptism, whilst his dear Richefort promenaded the forecastle,
and looked with indifference upon a shore bristling with dangers.
However that may be, all passed on well; nay, it may be even said that
the farce was well played off. But the route which we pursued soon made
us forget the short-lived happiness we had experienced. Every one began
to observe the sudden change which had taken place in the colour of the
sea, as we ran upon the bank in shallow water. A general murmur rose
among the passengers and officers of the navy;--they were far from
partaking in the blind confidence of the captain.

On the 2d of July, at five in the morning, the captain was persuaded
that a large cloud, which was discovered in the direction of Cape
Blanco, was that Cape itself. After this pretended discovery, they ought
to have steered to the west, for about fifty leagues, to have gained sea
room to double with certainty the Arguin Bank; moreover, they ought to
have conformed to the instructions which the Minister of Marine had
given to the ships which set out for Senegal. The other part of the
expedition, from having followed these instructions arrived in safety at
their destination. During the preceding night, the Echo, which had
hitherto accompanied the Medusa, made several signals, but being replied
to with contempt, abandoned us. Towards ten in the morning, the danger
which threatened us was again represented to the Captain, and he was
strongly urged, if he wished to avoid the Arguin Bank, to take a
westerly course; but the advice was again neglected, and he despised the
predictions. One of the officers of the frigate, from having wished to
expose the intriguing Richefort, was put under arrest. My father, who
had already twice made the voyage to Senegal, and who with various
persons was persuaded they were going right upon the bank, also made his
observations to the unfortunate pilot. His advice was no better received
than those of Messrs Reynaud, Espiau, Maudet, &c. Richefort, in the
sweetest tone, replied, "My dear, we know our business; attend to yours,
and be quiet. I have already twice passed the Arguin Bank; I have sailed
upon the Red Sea, and you see I am not drowned." What reply could be
made to such a preposterous speech? My father, seeing it was impossible
to get our route changed, resolved to trust to Providence to free us
from our danger, and descended to our cabin, where he sought to
dissipate his fears in the oblivion of sleep.




CHAPTER III.

THE MEDUSA FRIGATE RUNS AGROUND ON THE ARGUIN BANK--DESCRIPTION
OF THE SHIPWRECK--A RAFT IS CONSTRUCTED--THEY SWEAR NOT TO
ABANDON THOSE WHO WISH TO GO UPON IT.


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



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Main -> Godin des Odonais, Jean -> Perils and Captivity Comprising The sufferings of the Picard family after the shipwreck of the Medusa, in the year 1816; Narrative of the captivity of M. de Brisson, in the year 1785; Voyage of Madame Godin along the river of the Amazons, in the year 1770