Esteemed Readers, Messire Abbé de Choisy informs us that we are sailing around the Spanish isles. The Madeira islands is right ahead. Enjoy our historical Voyage! I remind you that Siam is our destination:
Aboard the Oiseau, 5 March 1685
“…The wind is always good. I see only the water & if nothing happens the Journal will turn out to be very bare. Nevertheless, there is something I can do about it. Soon we learn what will cure us as I’m sick as the others. (Mr. Abbé de Choisy means naupathia). We are going to learn Portuguese, Astronomy. It is necessary to take the opportunity of travelling with six Fathers (Jesuits) who are going to China from Verbiests. We will speak the maritime language, so I will share with you some questions we will have to reply in our (marine) journals. There are ten ones to fill…”
Aboard the Oiseau, 11 March 1685
“…This morning we can still see Madeira. Shores are rather high covered up with vineyards & fruit gardens. The Worst has approached too close to us: everybody is sick. There was a seriously sick sailor on board who breathed his last after the Mass.
We cannot move further: the wind is too light & at the moment we are moving à la bouline. It is pleasant as the sea is quiet.
At two o’clock in the afternoon we saw three vessels on our way. Instantly the white flag appeared. They were Englishmen: a fregate with twenty pieces of canons & two flyboats. They passed by swiftly without greeting us, while we were politer with them. Our Missioners were rather displeased with this lack of civility on their side. If they had been the Dutch or the Spaniards they would have sung. They passed & we moved on with the same wind. What a strange quality la bouline has!
In the afternoon Messire Basset, one of our Missioners, made an exhortation for the Sailors saying that this situation would be too much for any good gentleman. Indeed! God may take all of us when you are in the sea amidst five or six floors between death & life. What touching reflections! May our misfortunes be over or at least may them diminish! What a pleasure in our condition to have a consolation regarding what might happen further! We might find this comfort only in meditation about another life that is a hundred times happier than this one. It is important for us to have these thoughts about eternity as otherwises we wouldn’t be blessed to pass the finishing line (of being). But I digress from the stile of the given Journal…
Dieu Vous Ait en Sa Sainte Garde,
Vostre l’Abbé de Choisy ”
Image: Aubusson tapestry.