In Peril and Privation: Stories of Marine Disaster Retoldby James Payn
The Wreck Of The 'Grosvenor' .... The Loss Of The 'Royal George' .... On The Keys Of Honduras .... The Loss Of The 'Halsewell' .... Wager Island .... The Trials Of Philip Austin .... The Wreck Of The 'Juno' .... A Castaway Ambassador .... The Burning Of The 'New Horn' .
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In Peril and Privation was published in London in 1885. (317 pages)
The Wreck Of The 'Grosvenor' .... The Loss Of The 'Royal George' .... On The Keys Of Honduras .... The Loss Of The 'Halsewell' .... Wager Island .... The Trials Of Philip Austin .... The Wreck Of The 'Juno' .... A Castaway Ambassador .... The Burning Of The 'New Horn' .... In Sight Of Home .... Arctic Travel .... The Undiscovered Island .... The Raft Of The 'Medusa' .... The Burning Of 'Le Prince' .... The Romance Of M. De Belleisle .... Slavery .... The Last Extremity.
The Publisher has copy-edited this book to improve the formatting, style and accuracy of the text to make it readable. This did not involve changing the substance of the text.
.....It was remarked by Charles Dickens of 'Robinson Crusoe,' that it never drew down a tear, nor evoked a smile, from any reader; in spite of which it remains the most popular book in the language. The reason of this is, that it treats of the shifts and expediencies to which civilized man is reduced when cut off from the rest of his species, a subject that comes home to all of us, because, under not impossible circumstances, we may all find ourselves in the same position. 'What should I do,' is a question that almost every boy has asked himself, 'if I were cast upon an uninhabited and desert island?' The islands on which the castaway finds himself are not indeed always desert; but on the other hand, if fertile, it is only too often that he has cause to regret it, since those its fruitfulness supports are more to be feared than solitude and privation.
.....Of all the races of men most hostile to those who should be their brethren, the Malay is perhaps the chief; and by those who suffer shipwreck he is at present as much an object of fear as, in old times, was the Moor of Barbary. To those who are acquainted with this cruel and treacherous nation, to perish in the gaping wave, or to endure the uttermost torments of hunger and thirst, seem preferable to falling into his hands. Yet our countrymen have often done so, and some at least have survived to tell the tale. Indeed, as regards the world of ocean, what have English and Americans not survived?
.....In reading the records of marine disaster, crowded with events more stirring and startling than any other page of history, the question that appeals to us incessantly is: 'How could human beings endure this or that? such perils? such privations? such tortures? such starvation? and especially, (as often happens) without a companion to sympathize with them, or any eye, save that of Omnipotence, to mark their sufferings and endurance.
.....When the passengers and crew take to the frail boats, or the open raft, the salient points of the catastrophe begin to present themselves; the individual is separated from the crowd and attracts our pity or admiration; the multitudinous mass of misery resolves itself into its separate items, men, women, children, each of whose misfortunes we follow with bated breath and tearful eye, as though they were our own. Nay, even in the open boat, with its rag of sail and miserable accommodation, its floods of water (alas! not drinkable) that have to be bailed out by hand or with a pannikin, and its wretched fare, growing scantier every day, and measured with miser's hand to starving mouths; even then, I say, the drama lacks completeness because the element on which it takes place is unfamiliar to us.
.....It is, for the most part, in fact only when the sufferers get to land—whether on the solitary rock, or on some sandy spit, haunted by wild beasts; or on the territory of hostile savages—that we thoroughly sympathize with their sorrows, and understand their position.
.....The stories of these castaways are, from their very simplicity, full of pathos, but they are commonly narrated in the crude form of a diary, or set down afterwards from recollection, at the request of some consul or other authority for official purposes. It has struck me, therefore, that some of them may be retold with advantage.
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