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Interesting Narrative of the Loss His Majesty's Armed Vessels the Porpoise and Cato, of London, upon Wreck Reef, on their Passage from New South Wales to China; interspersed with Occasional Remarks on New South Wales, its Productions, Inhabitants, &c. By an Officer of the Porpoise, Never before published. Also the Loss of the Doddington, East Indiaman
London: Thomas Tegg, circa, 1808. Octavo, [ii], 7-28 pp. (as issued), paper water-marked "1807", with a folding engraved frontispiece of the wreck of the Porpoise and Cato, lower margin cropped, laid down at an early date with ms. ink inscription "Loss of the Porpoise and Cato"; text uniformly aged, one page torn with loss to the margin, a good copy in modern quarter calf, marbled paper sides. Flinders shipwrecked. Very scarce chapbook account of the wreck of the Porpoise and Cato off the Great Barrier Reef in 1803. This was the beginning of Flinders' disastrous voyage back to England after completing his circumnavigation. The Investigator had been damaged, apparently beyond repair, and he chose to go back to England in search of a seaworthy ship. The Porpoise left Port Jackson on 10 August 1803, taking the route via Torres Strait; on 17 August she went ashore on Wreck Reef, in open ocean about 740 miles NNE of Sydney. Two merchant vessels were with her; one, the Cato, was wrecked a short distance away, and the other, the Bridgewater, disappeared and was never heard of again. Flinders made a camp on the reef, organised the refugees, and made the journey back to Sydney in a ship's cutter, returning with rescue vessels. One of them, the Cumberland, took him and ten chosen men onwards - on a terrible voyage, the final humiliation of which was Flinders' imprisonment on Mauritius. 'The authorship is attributed in the text to one "Mr Fitz-Daniel", who is stated to have been the officer of the watch when the Porpoise struck, and the officer who accompanied Flinders in the cutter. There was no such person. The account is plagiarized from that in the Sydney Gazette, with additions supplied by the fancy of the compiler. A curious feature is that wherever numbers are given, one is added in this version, presumably to allow for the fictitious "Mr Fitz-Daniel"' (Ferguson). Authenticity apart, the text is well written and has much detail that did not appear in the Gazette report, including "Observations on the natural productions, and the manners of the natives of New South Wales". Ferguson suggests a date of publication of 1808, which would accord with the 1807 watermark visible on one page of this copy.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-22           Check availability:      Biblio    

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