The Shipwrecked Orphans A true narrative of the shipwreck and sufferings of John Ireland and William Doyley, who were wrecked in the ship Charles Eaton, on an island in the South Seas
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A TRUE NARRATIVE OF THE
SHIPWRECK AND SUFFERINGS
JOHN IRELAND AND WILLIAM DOYLEY,
WHO WERE WRECKED IN THE
SHIP CHARLES EATON,
ON AN ISLAND IN THE SOUTH SEAS.
TO MY YOUNG READERS.
For this volume of Teller’s Tales, I haveselected the “Shipwrecked Orphans, a True Narrative of theSufferings of John Ireland” and a little child, named William Doyley,who were unfortunately wrecked in the ship Charles Eaton, of London,and lived for several years with the natives of the South SeaIslands. The remainder of the passengers and crew of this ill-fatedship, were most inhumanly murdered by the savages soon after theylanded from the wreck. The Narrative was written by one of theOrphans, John Ireland, and I give it to you in nearly his own words,having made but few alterations in the style in which he tells thestory of their sufferings.
The people of some of the South Sea Islands, are of a very crueldisposition; some of them are cannibals; that is, they eat the flesh ofthose unfortunate persons who may happen to be shipwrecked on theirIslands, or whom they may take prisoners of war. Others, on the contrary,show the greatest kindness to strangers in distress. May thetime soon come when civilization and the Christian religion shallreach all these benighted savages, and teach them to relieve the distressed,and to regard the unfortunate as their brethren.
As very little is yet known of the manners and customs of thesesavage tribes, I trust this Narrative will prove both interesting andinstructive to you all; and I hope you will feel grateful that,—unlikethe sufferers in this story,—you are surrounded with the comforts oflife, and have kind parents and friends to watch over you and defendyou from the dangers and miseries to which these poor Orphanswere so long exposed.
Having obtained a situation as assistant in thecabin of the ship Charles Eaton, I went on boardon the 28th of September, 1833, to assist in preparingfor the voyage. In the month of Decemberfollowing, I had the misfortune to fall into thedock, and not being able to swim, narrowly escapeddrowning; but through the exertions of Mr.Clare, the chief officer of the ship, I was with difficultysaved.
About the 19th of December, we left the dock,with a cargo mostly of lead and calico. Our crewconsisted of the following persons: FrederickMoore, commander; Robert Clare, chief mate;William Major, second mate, Messrs. Ching andPerry, midshipmen; Mr. Grant, surgeon: Mr.Williams, sail-maker; William Montgomery,steward; Lawrence Constantyne, carpenter;4Thomas Everitt, boatswain; John Barry, GeorgeLawn, James Millar, James Moore, John Carr,Francis Hower, William Jefferies, Samuel Baylett,Charles Robertson, and Francis Quill, seamen;and John Sexton, and myself, boys. Thepassengers were, Mr. Armstrong, a native of Ireland,and twenty-five male and female childrenfrom the Emigration Society, with some othersteerage passengers.
We had a favorable passage down the river toGravesend, where we took leave of our pilot.A pilot is a person who takes charge of the shipsin those parts of rivers where they are dangerous.On the 23d of December we went on our voyage,passing Deal on the 25th, and arrived at Cowes, inthe Isle of Wight, on the 27th.
The wind here proved contrary, and we weredetained in the harbor until the 4th of January,1834; when, as we were attempting to quit, aschooner ran against our vessel and broke off ourbowsprit and jib-boom, and did other damage toher. The bowsprit is the mast that sticks out infront of the ship, and the jib-boom is the top jointof the bowsprit. We were therefore obliged toremain there until the repairing of the ship wascompleted; and on the 1st of February left Cowes.
Manner in which the Murray Islanders spearfish—a female assisting.
See Page 41.
7This accident caused great alarm among the passengers,and more especially among the children;indeed it was well that we escaped as we did; foreven in our own harbors in England, ships are oftenin great danger.
We arrived at Falmouth, near Land’s-end inCornwall, on the 5th of February; and having onthe 8th completed our cargo, left England with agood wind, and every prospect of a happy voyage.
About the latter end of March, we crossed theEquator; that is, that part of the world where thesun is over head and makes no shadow; here wewent through the usual ceremony of paying tributeto Neptune, to the great amusement of the passengers.
We came to the Cape of Good Hope, which isin Africa, on the 1st of May, and here we landedseveral of our passengers; we again set sail, on the4th, for Hobart’s Town, in Australia, upwards oftwenty thousand miles from England, where wearrived on the 16th of June; at this place we badefarewell to our young emigrants, and some of thepassengers.
On the 8th of July, Captain and Mrs. Doyley,with their two sons, George and William, the oneabout seven or eight years old, and the other about8fourteen months, came on board as passengers toSourabaya, intending to go from thence to Calcutta,in the East Indies. William, the youngest, wasmy unfortunate companion.
Nothing particular occurred after our leavingHobart’s Town, till we arrived in Sidney, in NewSouth Wales, on the 13th of July. There we tookin some ballast; that is, heavy articles which areput in the bottom of the ship to keep it from turningover with the wind. Our boatswain, Mr.Everitt, left us at Sidney, and we took on board inhis stead Mr. Pigot, and two or three seamen.
We set sail for China on the 29th. An accidenthappened two or three days after leaving the town,which almost caused the death of our excellentchief officer, Mr. Clare. An anchor is an iron instrumentaffixed to the end of a long chain, and isused to keep ships in one place. It generallyhangs at the bows, or fore part of the vessel. Themen were getting the anchor in its proper place,and Mr. Clare was helping them; on a sudden, thewood of the implement which he was using broke,and he fell into the sea. We immediately stoppedwork, and let down the boat, and he being an excellentswimmer, was able to keep up till the boatreached him. We were at that time going aboutsix miles an hour.
9We sailed this time with fine weather and goodwinds, and made the entrance to Torres Straits, anarrow passage between two islands in the SouthernOcean, on the 14th of August, in the evening.
The wind now began to blow rather hard; somuch so that the captain thought it necessary totake in some of the sails, and would not attempt togo on during the dark. However, at daylight onthe next morning we again set sail, although thewind was very high, and the water getting rough,that is, forming itself into large waves.
The wind continued to increase till about teno’clock in the morning, when the ship struck on areef called the “Detached Reef.” A reef is anumber of rocks in the water, at a short distancefrom the land, over which the water just rises, withoutleaving room enough for a ship to pass. TheDetached Reef was near the entrance of TorresStraits.
So violent was the shock, that the rudder (that bywhich a ship is guided,) and the keel, (that ledgewhich runs along the bottom of the ship,) wereboth knocked off, and the captain gave it as hisopinion that nothing could save the ship.
The chief mate cut away the masts, in order tolighten her; but without effect, and we then foundthat the bottom was broken in, at which place the10water soon made an entrance, and completelyspoiled every thing she contained. The high andswelling waves broke completely over her, and in ashort time the vessel was a perfect wreck.
It was happy for us that the upper part kept togetheras it did, though there was so much danger,from the water rising, that every one expected to bewashed over. There was plainly to be heard abovethe din of the wind and sea, the horrible groaningof the planks forming the sides of the ship, betweenwhich the water rushed as through a sieve; and asthey were one by one broken away from the ill-fatedvessel, we felt that we were approaching nearerto a death from which we could not hope to escape,unless by some merciful interposition of DivineGoodness we should be rescued from our wateryenemy.
Nor were these thoughts lessened by seeing thatours was not the only vessel that had cause to repentthe dangerous and almost unknown navigation ofthese straits. About three or four miles from us, tothe windward, or that side from which the windblows, we observed a ship high and dry, that is,lying out of water, upon the reefs; she had hermasts standing, her royal yards across, and her sailsset; in which state she had seemingly been left byher crew.
11At the time of the vessel striking, Mrs. Doyleywas taking coffee in the cabin, and her infant wasasleep in one of the berths, little dreaming to whatfuture ills his weak and helpless frame was to beexposed.
The distracted mother instantly ran on deck inalarm; and I went into the cabin, where I saw thepoor child washed out of its berth, and crying onthe floor. I took him to Mrs. Doyley, who, afterthat time, for the seven long days which were occupiedin making the raft, could not by any meansbe persuaded to give up her dear charge.
Upon finding how the ship was situated, CaptainMoore ordered the boats to be got ready, and furnishedwith provisions, in order, if possible, tosave the ship’s company, and reach the island ofTimor, regretting the stern necessity which urgedhim to such a step in such a sea.
I once heard Captain Moore declare that he wassorry he had not made use of his own chart, insteadof one that he bought at Sidney, lest there mightbe any mistake in his own.
We were in possession of four boats; the longboat, two cutters, and a small boat called a dingy.Three of the seamen seized one of the cutters; andtwo others got on board of it next morning by swimming12across the reef at the imminent peril of theirlives. A little biscuit, a ham, and a keg of water,with some carpenters’ tools, had been placed in theboat on its leaving the ship. As soon as the twomen had got into the boat, they rowed away, and Ihave never heard any tidings of them since.
The persons remaining on board the wreck nowheld a consultation as to what was best to be donein this miserable state of their affairs. There wereabout thirty persons, without sufficient provisionsto sustain life, much less satisfy the cravings ofhunger, for a month, without any fresh water, andwith no prospect of escape from their forlorn condition.
Every care was requisite to prevent the leastexcess or extravagance. We were all put uponallowance of a few damaged pieces of biscuit andtwo wine-glassfuls of water per day, during theseven days of making the raft, which was our onlyhope, and on which