Recently I came across to a very moving volume while cataloguing the rare fiction collection of the Caird Library. The book is entitled ‘The loss of the Earl of Abergavenny, East-Indiaman: a poem with notes’ (Item ID: PBH6656)
The poem recounts the loss of the Earl of Abergavenny, an east Indiaman which on the 5th February 1805 struck on the Shambles off the Island of Portland and then sunk in Weymouth Bay. Newspapers of the time reported that about three hundred people – among whom the ship captain J. Wordsworth – perished in this ill-fated ship.
The dramatic hours spent by crew members and passengers in ‘fallacious hope’ to be rescued or to reach the ‘so near’ shore but ‘too distant ever to be gain’d’ are described by the author with vivid images and intense style. Indeed, readers are given the real sense of the ‘blank despair’ and ‘wild confusion’ of people on board of the vessel. One scene in particular highly overwhelmed me for its heart-breaking intensity. It concerns a young sailor who evokes the figure of his mother and her ‘kindest words of love’. In a second time, the despair and anguish of the sailor’s mother is described when apprehending the ‘woeful tale’ of her son.
If you have been captivated by the item, as I have, why don’t you visit the Caird Library and let yourself be absorbed by the poignant story of the loss of the Earl of Abergavenny?
The library is open from Monday to Friday, 10.00–16.45 and 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.45 on Saturday.
Do remember to bring with you two pieces of identification, one bearing your name and signature and one with proof of your home address.