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1 THORNTON, FRANK L. 1874 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY HANDWRITTEN BY A PROMINENT RHODE ISLAND MERCHANT WHO TRAVELLING BACK FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO ENGLAND MEETS THE 3 SURVIVORS OF THE TRAGIC COSPATRICK SHIPWRECK AND DISASTER MERE WEEKS AFTER THE EVENT
ASEA SOUTH AFRICA ST. HELENA, ATLANTIC OCEAN 1874 Fair+ Manuscript 
On offer is a sensational, original 19th Century manuscript travel diary handwritten by Mr. Frank L. Thornton a celebrated grain merchant who along with his family lived in Providence Rhode Island going back 200+ years. [From 'Industries and Wealth of the Principal Points in Rhode Island, 1892: "The only house in Rhode Island engaged exclusively as a jobber of oat, corn, wheat, rye and buckwheat products….For some few years past he has been the leading source of supply for the goods handled and now controls a trade of considerable magnitude and importance reaching all over this section of New England."] Dated 1874 Mr. Thornton details a trip to Europe but unlike most tours of Europe Frank's trip goes on to South Africa making for a significant voyage and the surprise pick up on the famous Island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean of three passengers who had recently survived a horrendous fire and shipwreck of the doomed ship 'Cospatrick' makes for a chilling report and early first hand retelling of their survival mere weeks after the tragedy. [One online source provides: Cospatrick was a wooden 3-masted full-rigged sailing ship that was the victim of one of the worst shipping disasters to a merchant ship during the 19th century. The ship caught fire south of the Cape of Good Hope on 17 November 1874 while on a voyage from Gravesend, England to Auckland, New Zealand. Only 3 of 472 persons on board at the time ultimately survived, making it New Zealand's worst ever civil disaster.] In total there are seventy-one [71] pages the majority [40 pages] relate to South Africa and on. The diary starts off with him in South Africa on October 12th, 1874 with Frank, a light traveler carrying sack of clothes departing "Pilgrim's Rest" South Africa. While not writing daily he is keen eyed and provides superb detail of his trip from Pilgrim's Rest, the Port of Natal, Durban, and finally arriving in Port Elizabeth on November 22nd. He proceeds to Cape Town and on to the island of Saint Helena. It is from here he writes 6 pages of the survivor's account. They leave Saint Helena for Ascension Island, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Lisbon, and finally Plymouth, England. On February 2nd, 1875 he takes the steamship Marathon from Liverpool and 15 days he is returned to the States. There are along with the diary entries a further 31 pages with miscellaneous notes. Lastly there is a 4 page section dated October 9th, 1879 relating his marriage to Emma Eliza Brown. Here are some snippets: 1874 "October 12th, Left Pilgrim's Rest with Mafuta and a sack of clothes. Walked about 24 miles and slept at the Spekboom River. Met Capt. Lamplea (?). "October 28th, Arrived at New Castle the first town in the boundaries of Natal. There are good coal mines on the surface. I wrote a letter home from here. Went to Church and was surprised to hear the strength of voice for so small an attendance." "November 10th, Arrived at Umgeni Falls the pride of Natal. Very beautiful and said to be 300 ft. in height but appears much less than that. There was a small suspension bridge in course of construction. I believe the Mac M__Falls to be 40 ft more in height." "December 1st, Left Port Elizabeth about noon in a boat from the jetty and shortly after sailed in the steamship Nyanja, a Capt. Dixon. Took a lot of Malays to Cape Town. Paid 26 pounds. First day was sick all day contrary to my expectation. Sailed out of sight of land all the time." "December 10th, Passed a large Liverpool ship from the East bound to Scotland. The transit of Venus occurred yesterday but it was invisible to us although it was fine. A. C. Stewart is a first cabin passenger. Carpenter." "December 12th, St. Helena Arrived in St. Helena about 1 ½ P.M. Went ashore immediately with Misses Allen, Wolf and an old man. Walked through the main street and took a guide for the grave of Napoleon. Walked one and half hours hard walking up a very steep hill. Came to the top and descended in the valley where we saw the original resting place of Napoleon. The outer yard occupies half an acre. The inner yard is about five feet wide by twelve long and surrounded by ivy geraniums and an iron fence about four feet in height. In this enclosure are several large pine trees and two large elms. Picked a flower and leaves from the grave and left autograph. A very fine spring of water rises in the yard from which we all drank….He arrived here in 1815, died 1821 and was taken to France in 1840 and now rests in Paris. He was embalmed at his death and was in a perfect state until removed. The island rises abruptly from the sea. Anchorage can only be made on one side of the island. The only town is Jamestown which has one street of houses, a church, two or three school which are very well attended. Several stores but the principal use is for supplying ships with provisions and water. Also a reporting station. There is a large fleet of soldiers. The Ladder Hill heading to the fort. It takes 174 steps to reach the top. The people are very poor and I thank God that he has placed me in a country where I can always obtain the common necessities and luxuries of life. Fish and rice is almost the universal food of the St. Helena Natives population. They are of a sallow complexion and are very good looking. About ¾ of the entire woman I believe are prostitutes. Many emigrate to Cape Colony Natal and America and England……" "…..We took on four passenger bound to England. Three of these were the survivors of a doomed ship "Cospatrick" from England to Australia and tell a horrible tale of the fate of their companions. There were four hundred emigrants assisted by government to ____beside a crew of fifty men. Off the cape one night she took fire in the peak and in a few minutes was in flames! Eight young women jumped overboard and were drowned at once. Boats were lowered and filled. Many were killed by falling masts and being burned. One party jumped into the boats hanging onto the davits and broke the irons and all were drowned. The captain in the last moments of despair threw his wife into the sea and then jumped in himself. Two boats only succeeded in clearing the ship. None had provisions or water. Out of the thirty in the one boat only three remained to repeat the heart rendering affair. Many went mad from drinking sea water or want of food. They had one oar and no sail after drifting toward cape for ten days the five sighted a ship as they did once before. But fortunately this latter one saved them and bore down for them. They were all within a few hours of being dead. They were taken on board and two died, one never uncovered his senses. The ship went to St. Helena and landed there and went into the hospital where they have but partially recovered. They were obliged to eat the liver of their dead companions and to drink the blood from their veins as well as to drink each others urine. Such a tale I never heard and may I never hear another. If any men deserve punishment it is those wretches in England that would send four hundred and fifty people in a ship so ill fitted to preserve life in case of accident. They were nine days saturated with the spray and a boiling sun pouring down upon them. The strongest men in stature were the first to go out of their senses and jump into their watery grave. The skin of these men is pealing off daily and are yet very weak. We left St. Helena at 10 P.M. Fine weather throughout the voyage." "December 24th, Sighted the peak of Tenerife, on one of the Canary Islands. It was early when we first saw it and sailed all day without losing sight of it. Saw several small towns but not the main one which was Santa Cruz. This with the other islands has a population of 120,000. The peak is two miles above the sea level and covered with snow. The towns might be seen between the clouds and the peak shining in the sun above it." The 3" x 5" book and cover is quite worn but the interior is for the most part good. Overall Fair+. 
Price: 4285.99 USD
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