Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/354

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The tragedy of the Nottingham Galley was one of those instances, lamentably frequent, in which men were driven to the dire necessity of eating one another under the awful compulsion of hunger. Such a theme is abhorrent, but to realize how men felt in such circumstances, those who were otherwise kindly and brave, and long-suffering, is to add to one's perspective of human nature and to gain truthful glimpses of what the toilers of the sea have endured. When Captain John Deane took his pen in hand to set down his experience, it was as though his conscience had driven him to the task, and he expresses this prompting in a solemn preface, which reads:

As for my own part, I think I have just grounds to venture this small narrative into the American world as an humble acknowledgement to Almighty God for his wonderful preservation of us, and hoping it may be of use to others, should the like unhappy circumstances ever attend them. I had indeed thoughts of perpetuating the memory of our deliverance in a different manner, but my innocent intentions met with an unexpected opposition that induced me to have recourse to this present method; and I hastened the execution in 1727, whilst there were living witnesses in New England to attend the truth of our signal escape from Boon Island. And now I again recommend it to the serious perusal of all, but especially seafaring men, who of all others are most liable to sudden dangers, through the natural incon-