A Narrative of the Loss of the Grosvenor East Indiaman – Carter, George


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The author met John Hynes, one of the survivors of the Grosvenor, on a voyage to India and he appears to have attempted to relieve the monotony of the trip by examining the seaman, and committing to paper his account of the loss of the ship and the sufferings of the survivors. The ill-fated vessel sailed from “Trincomale” on the I3th of June 1782, and struck on the coast of Kaffraria a few weeks after. The passengers agreed to accompany Captain Coxon in an attempt to reach the Dutch Settlements in the Cape, which he thought would take fifteen or sixteen days, but the party split up soon after the start, and the two divisions afterwards resplit, not owing to any disputes, but on account of the hostility displayed by the natives, and the difficulty of finding supplies for any large body. The party which remained with the Captain, and which included all the white ladies, entirely disappeared, and, as the narrative states, “its fate remains… to the present hour, unknown.” The other detachments pursued their way with incredible hardships and privation. They lived mostly on bodies of dead whales and seals that they discovered, or on roots and shellfish, and in many cases, when after great trouble they had struck a bargain with the natives, the inhuman savages cheated them out of their food. In fact, the inhospitality, cruelty, and barbarity of the Kaffirs was very remarkable, and contrary to their usual habits, but in explanation it is stated that, “as there subsisted at this time an inveterate enmity between the Kaffirs and the Dutch colonists, who had treated them with unparalleled cruelty, this may account for the behaviour of the former to the shipwrecked English, who being the same colour as the Dutch partook of their resentment.” One by one, however, the doomed sufferers succumbed or were left behind, and when, after 117 days of fearful hardships, a remote Dutch farm was reached, only six men arrived out of a whole ship’s company. Here the wretched survivors met with great kindness and hospitality, the Dutch farmers eventually sending them to the Cape in a waggon. The Dutch Governor, hearing of the circumstances of the wreck, despatched an expedition in search of the missing passengers and crew, but only three white men and some coloured Lascars and servants were discovered, while the fate of the remained is a mystery of the desert. There is an interesting account of the natives, with long extracts from the works of Paterson and Le Vaillant and several engravings. (Mendelssohn, vol.1, pg 651.) Pp. [iv], 174, with two copper engraved plates (1 folding). Ink initial and one small repair to the front free end paper, with a chip to the top edge. Booksellers label to the bottom of the pastedown. Some age toning, otherwise a very good tight copy. 1st Edition. Condition: Very good. Binding: Hardcover. Full contemporary calf, neatly rebacked, raised bands and red leather label to the spine.

Publisher: J. Murray and William Lane
Date Published: 1791
Publication Place: London
First Edition: Yes

Condition: Very good.
Binding: Hardcover. Full contemporary calf, neatly rebacked, raised bands and red leather label to the spine.

Additional information

Weight 600 g