THE BOTTLE AT SEA
A couple of anecdotes have floated to us in illustration of the article in N. 202 entitled “Bottled Information.” A correspondent mentions that Sir Duncan M’Gregor, then an officer of the thirty-first regiment of infantry, was on board the Kent, East Indiaman, when it was burnt to the water’s edge, in the Bay of Biscay. As soon as the fire broke out he hastily wrote a few lines describing the situation of the vessel, and threw then overboard in a bottle. Four years afterwards, being quartered in Barbadoes, he was walking on the shore very early in the morning, when he espied something in the water. The waves washed it to his feet, and it proved to be the identical bottle he has launched before being providentially saved from the flames in the Kent!
The other story is related by Mr. Benjamin Franklin Bourne, an American ship-captain, in a recently published account of his adventures among the Giants of Patagonia. After three months’ detention among those huge savages, during which time he suffered great hardships, he made his escape; and having reached Borga Bay, opposite the Terra –del-Fuego, he landed. “We found on shore inscriptions of California-bound vessels. On a branch on a tree, overhanging a little stream, we found also a bottle suspended, containing papers. This was taken on board, and its contents examined. Three or four vessels passing through the Straits, had left memoranda of their experience, - such as snow-storms, loss of stars, anchors, chains, &c. Captain Morton [Mr. Bourne’s floating host] wrote a humorous account of our voyage to deposit in this repository of curiosities; and I added a contribution, narrating my capture by the Indians and escape, with a request that if it should fall into hands bound for the United States or England, it might be published.” Mr. Bourne had previously written letters to the United States, had carefully left them to be sent through the post, and had never doubted that his relatives and friends were in full possession of his adventures through that usually exact channel. It turned out, however, that all his letters miscarried; and that the bottled information he had suspended from a tree, in a wilderness not visited by man many times in the course of a year, very soon afterwards made its appearance at full length in the Boston Atlas newspaper! It happened that some Indians found the bottle, sold it to a passing trader, who forwarded it to Smith’s News Rooms, at Boston, United States. The advertising powers of a bottle hung upon a tree did not end there. In the course of the homeward voyage, Mr. Bourne visited the Fire Fly, Captain Smith. When his name was announced, a young lady on board instantly asked him if he was the hero of captivity in Patagonia? He was astonished at her knowledge of his adventures; but it turned out that the young lady had landed at Borga Bay, and having seen the bottle, read its contents, and replaced them, before the Indians took it away.
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