[A Story of Almost Unexampled Horror]The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1271, p. 122.
July 30, 1864
A story of almost unexampled horror is given in the American papers, being the substance of a deposition by a survivor of the wreck of a ship called the Elvina, which left Calcutta on Dec. 22, bound for Boston. Her crew consisted of about thirty persons. She was so fearfully damaged in a storm that she sank, eleven of the crew clinging to floating spars, but the rest, with the master and his brother, perished at once. The survivors endured horrible tortures. Tied to the spars, they lay down upon the sails, and the seas washed over them. At seven o'clock the wind died away, and, tearing a shirt in two, they raised a signal of distress. Two pumpkins, sole relics of the ship's stores, were seen floating nigh, but not within reach, and they looked longingly upon them as they passed by. At noon the gale again sprang up, blowing as furiously as before. The waves swept tumultuously over the raft, carrying away two of their number. One, George Chase, swam back, and was assisted upon it, but, soon turning black in the face from swallowing sea water, died. All through that day and night the storm continued, moderating towards morning. The sky was overcast the second day, but the wind went down and the sea became more calm. The sun rose bright and clear in a cloudless sky the morning of the third day, and his beams beat most fiercely upon their unsheltered heads. Maddened with thirst, in their agony, some of them drank the seawater and died. The fourth day dawned with a sun, though not as lustrous and ardent as before. Another died. The survivors cut off his legs, and ate for the first time since leaving the ship. Not a morsel had they eaten, not a drop of fresh water had they drunk, for four days. The clouds gathered overhead on the fifth day, but the sun burnt them off and shone more scorchingly than ever. That evening one of their comrades slipped over the side, saying, "I am going home, I can stay here no longer--I want to see my mother--come with me, we shall not be long away, and soon return." They were too weak to prevent it, and he swam away. Far as their dim eyes could range did they wistfully watch him swimming on, the sharks plashing their white fins by his side, till he was lost in the distance. The sixth day came and went, and another died. The seventh morning found them hopeless and despairing; too weak to stand, spiritless and exhausted, they lay feebly clinging to the spars, and another died. But three were left now of the eleven--and still through the long forenoon did the burning rays of that terrible sun fall hotly upon them. At the last moment relief came. The French barque Claire, Robert master, discovered the raft, their signal fortunately flying, and dispatched a boat to their assistance.