Biography Perils and Captivity

Perils and Captivity

Perils and Captivity
Catalog # SKU3674
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charlotte-Adelaide [nee Picard] Dard,Pierre Raymond de Brisson, Jean Godin, Patrick Maxwell
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Perils and Captivity

The Sufferings of the Picard Family
After The Shipwreck Of The Medusa,
In The Year 1816.

Charlotte-Adelaide [nee Picard] Dard
Pierre Raymond de Brisson
Jean Godin
Translated by Patrick Maxwell

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 Correard. 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.

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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.


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 Correard.

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.


Having nothing on board but what was barely necessary to enable us to allay the cravings of hunger for one day, we were all sensibly affected. The other boats, which, like ourselves, hoped to have got on shore at the nearest point, were a little better provisioned than we were; they had at least a little wine, which supplied the place of other necessaries. We then demanded some from them, explaining our situation, but none would assist us, not even Captain Lachaumareys, who, drinking to a kept mistress, supported by two sailors, swore he had not one drop on board. We were next desirous of addressing the boat of the Governor of Senegal, where we were persuaded were plenty of provisions of every kind, such as oranges, biscuits, cakes, comfits, plumbs, and even the finest liqueurs; but my father opposed it, so well was he assured we would not obtain any thing.

We will now turn to the condition of those on the raft, when the boats left them to themselves.

If all the boats had continued dragging the raft forward, favoured as we were by the breeze from the sea, we would have been able to have conducted them to the shore in less than two days. But an inconceivable fatality caused the generous plan to be abandoned which had been formed.

When the raft had lost sight of the boats, a spirit of sedition began to manifest itself in furious cries. They then began to regard one another with ferocious looks, and to thirst for one another's flesh. Some one had already whispered of having recourse to that monstrous extremity, and of commencing with the fattest and youngest. A proposition so atrocious filled the brave Captain Dupont and his worthy lieutenant M. L'Heureux with horror; and that courage which had so often supported them in the field of glory, now forsook them.

Among the first who fell under the hatchets of the assassins, was a young woman who had been seen devouring the body of her husband. When her turn was come, she sought a little wine as a last favour, then rose, and without uttering one word, threw herself into the sea. Captain Dupont being proscribed for having refused to partake of the sacrilegious viands with which the monsters were feeding on, was saved as by a miracle from the hands of the butchers. Scarcely had they seized him to lead him to the slaughter, when a large pole, which served in place of a mast, fell upon his body; and believing that his legs were broken, they contented themselves by throwing him into the sea. The unfortunate captain plunged, disappeared, and they thought him already in another world.

400 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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