Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/424

This page needs to be proofread.

he held his dignity only four months, and being accused of having condemned to death several persons of different ranks on insufficient grounds, he was sentenced by the king to receive ninety strokes on the shin bones and to be banished for life.

Towards the end of this year a comet appeared. It was followed by two others which were both seen at once for the space of two months, one in the southeast and the other in the southwest, but with their tails opposite to each other. The court was so alarmed by this phenomenon that the king ordered the guard at all the forts and over all the ships to be doubled. He likewise directed that all his fortresses should be well supplied with warlike stores and provisions and that his troops should be exercised every day. Such were his apprehensions of being attacked by some neighbor that he prohibited a fire to be made during the night in any house that could be perceived from the sea.

The same phenomena had been seen when the Tartars ravaged the country, and it was recollected that similar signs had been observed previous to the war carried on by the Japanese against Korea. The inhabitants never met the Dutch sailors without asking them what people thought of comets in their country. Comformably to the idea prevalent in Europe, the Dutch replied that comets prognosticated some terrible disaster, as pestilence, war, or famine, and sometimes all three calamities together.


At the end of twelve years of this forlorn exile, eight of the crew of the Sparrow-hawk succeeded in stealing away from Korea in a staunch sea-going junk. Eight others of the thirty-six officers and