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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

Jonathan Lambert was of the breed of Salem seafarers who had first carried the American flag to India, Java, Sumatra, and Japan, who opened the trade with the Fiji Islands and Madagascar, who had been the trail-breakers in diverting the commerce of South America and China to Yankee ships. They had sailed where no other merchantmen dared go, they had anchored where no one else dreamed of seeking trade.

It was therefore nothing extraordinary for Jonathan Lambert to tire of roving the wide seas and to set himself up in business as the king of Tristan da Cunha which had neither ruler nor subjects. What his ambitions were and how a melancholy end overtook them is to be found in the sea-journal of Captain John White, who sailed the American brig Franklin out to China in 1819. He wrote:

 
On March 12th we saw and passed the island of Tristan da Acunha which was taken possession of in 1810 by Jonathan Lambert. He published a document setting forth his rights to the soil and invited navigators of all nations whose routes might lie near that ocean to touch at his settlement for supplies which he anticipated his industry would draw from the earth and the adjacent sea. He signified his readiness to receive in payment for his produce, which consisted of vegetables, fruit and fish, whatever might be convenient for the visitors to part with which could be in any way useful to him.