Not From the Fair from the Ten Pound Island Book Company
Not for a fair.
The Ten Pound Island Book Company has issued an unusual book list. We have seen lots of listings prepared specifically for a book fair. This one is prepared not for a fair. Ten Pound Island did not exhibit at the recent New York Fair, but decided to prepare the type of list they would have had they attended. So here it is. It is filled with nautical works, as is their specialty, with a concentration on antiquarian works. This makes sense, as it was an antiquarian book fair they did not attend. Here are some selections from their Maritime List 200.
Item 14 is an account of an early voyage to the Pacific Rim, including Hawaii. You can always tell an early Hawaiian visit if it is referred to as the "Sandwich Islands." Archibald Campbell was a young man of limited means when he signed on as an apprentice to go to sea. He made several voyages from 1800-1806, returning to Portsmouth in that latter year. It was then that he began a six-year journey covered in this book. According to a contemporary account in Gentleman's Magazine, Campbell returned home in 1812, his hands and feet badly frostbitten. Doctors were able to save all but two fingers from his hands, but his feet had to be amputated. He was reduced to being an organ grinder on the streets of Edinburgh. However, Campbell battled back, learned to play violin, and played on steamships for steerage passengers. It was there that an editor took notice of him, was intrigued by his stories, and eventually led him to publishing this book - A Voyage Round the World, from 1806 to 1812; in which Japan, Kamschatka, the Aleutian Islands, and the Sandwich Islands were Visited… Campbell particularly focused on Hawaii as he believed their location midway between America and Asia, and their favorable climate, would make them the most important Pacific islands. He describes the islands and their people in detail. Offered is the American edition, dated 1817. Priced at $200.
It was one of the most significant steamship tragedies in American history, though it is little remembered today. It took the life of the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy. The USS Princeton was a modern ship when launched in 1843, possessing two very long guns, one named the "Peacemaker." A cruise down the Potomac was held for many of the nation's most notable dignitaries to honor the new ship. Among those on board was President John Tyler and 77-year-old former First Lady Dolley Madison. It was decided to fire off one the big guns to demonstrate its power to the visitors. Instead of firing, the Peacemaker exploded. Six people were killed, including Secretary of State Abel Upshur and Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer. Also killed in the accident was David Gardner, father of President Tyler's fiancée. His Accidency himself avoided becoming the second straight President to die in office when he was waylaid by another guest on his way to the deck. In the 19th century, poetry was more commonly used to recount tragic events. Item 21 is George Ellis' A Poem on the Awful Catastrophe on Board the U.S. Steam Frigate Princeton, published in 1844. $200.
Not From the Fair from the Ten Pound Island Book Company
Miss Saunders and other survivors are finally rescued.
Here is a worse seafaring tragedy, even if the participants were not major figures. Item 62 is the Narrative of the Shipwreck and Sufferings of Miss Ann Saunders. Miss Ann Saunders was the author of this 1827 tale of her sufferings. She was a tough cookie, or at least, the tough wife of a cookie. The Mary Francis was hit by a powerful gale on February 5, 1826, losing almost all of its provisions. The 20 survivors floundered about the sea, the crew becoming hungrier by the day. The first crewman died on February 12. By the time the second died, ten days later, the survivors were desperate. He was hung up, dried, and sliced to pieces for food. In the next few days, seven more died, and while the survivors said they died of natural causes, some believe a few were assisted in making their way to the dinner table. One to die was the cook, who was engaged to Miss Saunders. The practical Miss Saunders believed her special relationship with the cook entitled her to more of his remains. Reportedly, she sliced him up as he lay dying. She denied anything quite that extreme, but did admit she "plead her claim to the greater portion of his precious blood." When finally rescued on March 7, there were six, Miss Saunders included, still alive. $350.
Lord Horatio Nelson is perhaps England's greatest naval commander. He is most remembered for his great victory over the French in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It sealed England's superiority on the seas. It also sealed Nelson's personal fate. He was shot while commanding his forces and died a few hours later. Ten years earlier, Nelson was already fighting the French, this time Revolutionary rather than Napoleonic France, along the coasts of Italy. Nelson wanted to act more aggressively, but his commanders, Admiral William Hotham and Sir Hyde Parker, were more cautious. Nelson was trying to help the allied Austrian army but his superiors did not provide sufficient support. In this letter, dated December 7, 1795, Nelson makes his thoughts known. "I don't think either Adm. Hotham or Sir Hyde Parker will easily get over it. Their shoulders must bear their own acts. I will not take any of their acts on myself." Item 43. $10,000.
Ten Pound Island Book Company may be reached at 978-283-5299 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.tenpound.com.