Aboard the Oiseau, 16 March 1685
“…We sail very swiftly. The sea is heavy but there are favourable winds so it helps us. The altitude is 23 degrees. Certainly we will have passed the Tropic one by midday. What an incredible precision! It has been only thirteen days since we sailed from Brest. Our frigate follows us as we wait for her (adjust her)… We would have hardly made more than five hundred lieuës without her. We begin beholding the Moon athwart. It is so beautiful to be contemplated through spectacles & to-morrow, if God wills, we are going to study the stars. I’m going to play chess with Chevalier de Fourbin. He is not a good player so I give him a course, however, he is vivid, his imagination is alike a flash, he knows thousand schemes & finally he is the Provencal & the Fourbin. Either he will win or, in the opposite case, it is not his fault. He is our Lieutenant who takes care of every detail of the vessel. He possesses the key of waters! What a wonderful charge among us! In brief, he is a great lad, while his aspect reveals that he has become Lieutenant not long ago…”
Aboard the Oiseau, 20 March 1685
“…The altitude is 15 degrees right before the Cape Verde.The fog has dissolved & the wind is hot. Our forecastle deck is covered with a tent & we walk on it. There is always light breeze. It is so good! Monsieur de Vaudricourt won’t become richer in this voyage: his chicken & pigs often die, nevertheless he has prepared so gross provisions that wil we hardly be in need. Our Ambassador prays the Lord three quarter of the day & the rest he spends entertaining us. Trumpets animate our meals. One day we dance singing, the next one under sounds of a violin, just because we have one piece only & it is mistuned from time to time…The Jesuits & the Missionaries either watch the others or meditate. Ones play chess, the others prefer le jeu des Rois. Well, we have become bored, haven’t we? Although isn’t it a decent way to survive?…”
Dieu Vous Ait en Sa Sainte Garde,
Vostre l’Abbé de Choisy ”
Image: Aubusson, “Chinoiserie”, tapestry.