Friday, November 04, 2005

Dan Roberts Raises Shelley's Boat.

Trelawny receives letters from his friend, Captain Dan Roberts, describing the recovery of Shelley's boat and his theories about how it went down. He also makes an observation or two on Lord Byron.


It is mentioned in my narrative, that when I left Leghorn, in the 'Bolivar,' to burn the bodies, I dispatched two large feluccas, with ground-tackling to drag for Shelley's foundered boat, having previously ascertained the spot in which she had been last seen afloat. This was done for five or six days, and they succeeded in finding her, but failed in getting her up. I then wrote the particulars to my friend Capt. Roberts, who was still at Genoa, asking him to complete the business. He did so, whilst I went on to Rome, and, as will be seen by the following letters, he not only found, but got her up, and brought her into the harbour of Leghorn.


Pisa, Sept. 1822.

Dear T.

We have got fast hold of Shelley's boat, and she is now safe at anchor off Via Reggio. Every thing is in her, and clearly proves that she was not capsized. I think she must have been swamped by a heavy sea; we found in her two trunks, that of Williams, containing money and clothes, and Shelley's, filled with books and clothes.

Yours, very sincerely,
Dan Roberts.



Sept. 18, 1822.

Dear T.

I consulted Ld. B. [Lord Byron], on the subject of paying the crews of the felucca employed in getting up the boat. He advised me to sell her by auction, and to give them half the proceeds of the sale. I rode your horse to Via Reggio. On Monday we had the sale, and only realized a trifle more than two hundred dollars. The two masts were carried away just above board, the bowsprit broken off close to the bows, the gunwale stove in, and the hull half full of blue clay, out of which we fished clothes, books, spy-glass, and other articles. A hamper of wine that Shelley bought at Leghorn, a present for the harbour-master of Lerici, was spoilt, the corks forced partly out of the bottles, and the wine mixed with salt-water. You know, this is effected by the pressure of the cold sea-water. We found in the boat two memorandum-books of Shelley's, quite perfect, and another damaged, a journal of Williams's, quite perfect, written up to the 4th of July. I washed the printed books, some of them were so glued together by the slimy mud, that the leaves could not be separated, most of these things are now in Ld. B's custody.

The letters, private papers, and Williams's journal, I left in charge of Hunt, as I saw there were many severe remarks on Ld. B. Ld. B. has found out that you left at Genoa some of the ballast of the 'Bolivar,' and he asked me to sell it for him. What a damned close calculating fellow he is. You are so bigoted in his favour that I will say no more, only God defend me from ever having any thing more to do with him.

P.S. -- On close examination of Shelley's boat, we find many of the timbers on the starboard quarter broken, which makes me think for certain, that she must have been run down by some of the feluccas in the squall.

Dan Roberts





Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron by E. J. Trelawny. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1858. 148-50.



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