Esteemed Readers, heat menaces our voyage. Unfortunately, there are neither fridges nor ice on board. Keep calm & be brave! The good news is there are plenty of flying fishes around.
Aboard the Oiseau, 25 March 1685
“…We have finally caught a Bonite (Sarda chiliensis). It looks like a big Carp. I don’t have fish at all because I prefer meat. There is a good reason: it is not right to catch the fish without any need. I would taste a Bonite only for delight. It is impossible to fast for Lent in the sea! Father de Fontenei was obliged to follow me. Only M. le Chevalier de Chamont is able to fast: he has just a bite of a biscuit in the evenings…yet. It is so admirable but unable to be done (for us). The most of the missionaries think only about supper. That is a great example: we must impel ourselves to the good but we have neither force of flesh nor of spirit.
The altitude is 7 degrees. We see plenty of flying fishes & Dorades jumping out of the sea to be caught. Messire l’Abbé du Chaila made an exhortation: it was convincing, close to everybody onboard, right for the sailors who were to listen to it. Up to now he is a charming person who dedicates himself to every sort of things: he is always in need of his neighbour. We don’t know yet what he is going to do in the Indies (South & North Americas), however if he dedicates himself to the missions, he will be a good worker as he possesses both zeal & capacity…”
Aboard the Oiseau, 27 March 1685
“…What a terrible heat we had last night! We were embarrassed: we didn’t risk to leave our window open as we were afraid to catch a cold that makes a man alike paralytic, but when it was closed we were almost dying! I woke up several times to go out to have some fresh air. This is a sort of heat unknown in Europe: nobody knows what to do, where to hide himself. It drizzled in the morning. I would be delighted to feel fresher. Nevertheless, I was told that these drizzled bore only worms so I preferred to stay in my shell (cabin). Affairs of Messieurs de la Maligne are becoming worse & worse: no matter they seem contented, there are only four their lambs alive. The others have died. They were the lambs from Brest, those of law quality. The ones we have belong to La Rochelle. They enjoy sway & rolling.
The altitude is 5 degree. We make a degree a day. We don’t demand more until we keep the line we must pass…
Dieu Vous Ait en Sa Sainte Garde,
Vostre l’Abbé de Choisy ”
Image: Beauvais, Gathering of pineapples, tapestry.