Lady Fanshawe’s Ship Attacked

Lady Fanshawe was travelling to Spain with her husband, English poet and politician Sir Richard Fanshawe, when their ship was about to be attacked by a Turkish galley. Here’s her account of this experience:

“When we had just passed the straits, we saw coming towards us, with full sails, a Turkish galley well manned, and we believed we should be all carried away slaves, for this man had so laden his ship with goods from Spain, that his guns were useless, though the ship carried sixty guns; he called for brandy, and after he had well drunken, and all his men, which were near two hundred, he called for arms, and cleared the deck as well as he could, resolving to fight rather than lose his ship, which was worth thirty thousand pounds; this was sad for us passengers, but my husband bid us be sure to keep in the cabin, and not appear–the women–which would make the Turks think we were a man-of-war, but if they saw women they would take us for merchants and board us. He went upon the deck, and took a gun and bandoliers, and sword, and, with the rest of the ship’s company, stood upon deck, expecting the arrival of the Turkish man-of-war.

This beast, the captain, had locked me up in the cabin; I knocked and called long to no purpose, until at length the cabin-boy came and opened the door; I, all in tears, desired him to be so good as to give me his blue thrum cap he wore, and his tarred coat, which he did, and I gave him half-a-crown, and putting them on, and flinging away my night-clothes, I crept up softly, and stood upon the deck by my husband’s side, as free from sickness and fear, as, I confess, from discretion; but it was the effect of that passion which I could never master.

By this time the two vessels were engaged in parley, and so well satisfied with speech and sight of each other’s forces, that the Turks’ man-of-war tacked about, and we continued our course. But when your father saw it convenient to retreat, looking upon me, he blessed himself, and snatched me up in his arms, saying, ‘Good God, that love can make this change!’ and though he seemingly chid me, he would laugh at it as often as he remembered that voyage.”

Further reading:
The Town by Leigh Hunt

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