Account of a shipwreck

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  • Intro

    From the late 1600s onwards, Britain saw a huge expansion in trade. Shipping traffic in the English Channel was dense, as each year hundreds of ships, packed with goods, travelled between Europe and Asia. Numerous shipwrecks led to the loss both of human lives and valuable cargo. Treacherous tides, winds and winter weather of the English Channel brought about shocking and widely reported shipwrecks, and there was a huge public appetite for sensational stories of these accidents. This account of a shipwreck appears in a 17th century anthology of sensational disasters. Journeying in stormy seas from Goa to Portugal in 1686, the ship crashes against the rocks and is destroyed. The story is related in graphic and theatrical terms: the sounds of the 'cracking' structure as the vessel is 'lifted...up to the clouds'; the 'astonishment, terror and consternation that seiz'd upon every Heart of the Ship'; 'the cries, sighs and groans'.

     

    Shelfmark: 11978.b.10

  • Transcript

    Account of a shipwreck

    Original text:

     

    Unheard of Transactions

    Rocks that jutted out into the sea, lifted up the Vessel to the Clouds, letting her fall on a sudden upon the Cliffs with such violence that she could not hold out long. You might have heard her already cracking on all sides, some parts of her falling of the rest; and at last, this great Mass of wood being for a while thus dreadfully shaken and toss'd from Wave to Rock, was dash'd to pieces with a horrible noise. The Poop bore the first shock, and accordingly was the first part that bulg'd; To no purpose they cut down the Masts and threw overboard the Guns, and all that lay in their way; all their precautions were in vain, for the ship struck upon the Rocks so often and so rudely, that at last she open'd under the Gunners Room. The Water then entring in abundance, began to gain the first Deck, and to fill the Gunners Room, it advanced even to the great Cabbin, and in a moment after it reach'd to their Girdles that were upon the second Deck, and still ascending insensibly, our ship at last sunk quite down into the Sea, till the Keel reach'd the bottom, the body of the Vessel remained some time immovable. It would be a hard task to represent the satonishment, terror and consternation that seiz'd up on every Heart on the Ship; Nothing now was heard but cries sighs and groans: Some prostrate upon the deck implor'd the assistance of Heaven: Others were throwing into the sea Barrels, empty Casks, Sail-yards and pieces of Boards, to aid them in making their escape. After the violence of the crying was over, they that remain'd on the Sessel began to think of saving themselves. They made several Rafts of the

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