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Perils and Captivity Comprising The sufferings of the Picard family after the shipwreck   By: (1745-1820?)

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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... Continue reading book >>




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