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15 Year old cabin boy saved from ship wreck

Year 1788

Read by Mary Ahearn – Supporter, Royal Human Society

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January 17, 1788

Addressed to GEORGE KEATE, ESQ. – Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury

About nine o’clock in the evening, The Ann and Elizabeth, Job Moyse, master, was driven on a rock near Margate; the sea ran so high, that at ten the cabin was full of water, and the waves washed over the deck; the crew, consisting of five men, and the cabin boy about 15 years of age, in hopes of saving themselves, climbed the mast, and lashed themselves to the cross-tress; about three in the morning R. Mares appeared totally exhausted with cold and fatigue, insomuch as to be insensible of their endeavours to rouse him from his lethargic state, and about six they supposed him dead. At nine o’clock, A.M. a boat went off to them, which was with difficulty boarded by the crew, all of whom were safe landed; the boy, supposed to be dead, remaining lashed to the shrouds.

NICHOLAS STYLEMAN, Esq; of Forward, a gentleman of great humanity, hearing of the boy’s dreadful situation, and knowing there had been many instances of recovery after the vital power had long been suspended and appeared to be extinct, remonstrated on the impropriety of leaving him, and begged he might be brought on shore; however, as the vessel could not be boarded without great danger, no one attempted it, and his remonstrances were in vain; he then offered a most generous pecuniary reward, on which the boy was fetched. He was immediately put into a warm bed, and medical attendance called. The usual endeavours of restoring hear and mobility by warm flannels and friction being found very ineffectual, he was carried to a warm bath in the neighbourhood, heated to about 90 degrees of Fahrenheit’s thermometer, which was gradually increased to 120 or upwards. IN about an hour laborious and convulsive respiration returned, sometimes at very long intervals; the heart commenced its action, and a slight pulsation was soon afterwards perceptible; he was now observed to make weak efforts with his arms, which were before quite stiff; he then lifted up his eyelids, but the eyes appeared motionless, and the pupils widely dilated. In about an hour and a half his pulse again sank, the colour vanished from his face and lips, and he had a very long interval from breathing. —The heat of the bath being greatly diminished, was now considerably increased; and his head, breast, etc. were soaked ; so that in about a quarter of an hour he again revived, and from this time his pulse returned, and soon increased in strength; his breathing became gradually less laborious. The warm bath having being employed two hours and a half, he was now removed, and put between the blankets of a warm bed; friction with warm clothes was continued for some hours, and a stimulating enema procured a copious evacuation. Little or no nourishment could be given, as his jaws were fixed, and he seemed to have no power of deglutition for several hours. About nine in the evening he swallowed some broth with difficulty, but much avidity; during the night he took near a quart. — At ten o’clock the next morning he first spoke, but continued in insensible, and at intervals convulsed; from that time until Monday morning he slept six hours; he then came to his reason; from Monday, till Tuesday morning he continued sleeping except when he awoke to take refreshment since which time he has continued quite well. — Although he is now perfectly sensible and collected, he does not remember a single circumstance of what has happened.

GEO SLATER

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