A most Strange and Wonderful Account of the Cour-
age and Intrepidity of JOHN M'GREGOR, a Bri-
tish Sailor, belonging to the ship called the York
Merchant, commanded by Captain BEAMS, who,
When that vessel was lying in Carlile Bay, on see-
ing a sincere Friend of his, belonging to the same
Ship, snapped through the middle by a large Shark
while bathing, jumped into the sea, armed with a
large sharp pointed knife, and pursued the vora-
cious monster. Also an Account how he fought
and conquered this dreadful Fish in the presence of
several ships' crews, followed it to the shore, ripped
open its bowels, recovered the part of his friend's
body which the rapacious creature had swallowed,
and had it decently interred with the other half that
was taken up by his shipmates in the boat.
IN order to prepare every reader for the very curious and entertaining anecdote,
which we are now going to lay before him, we must state, that the shark is a fish
well known both in the northern and southern seas for its ravenous nature, preying
upon most animals that come in its way.
These creatures are sometimes seen very numerous among the ships in Carusle
Bay at Barbadoes, especially when there were many vessels with slaves from Guinea,
before the abolition of that inhaman traffic, for some hundreds of these wretches
being often crowded together in one bottom, a vast number of them [ ]ed with various
diseases: and being thrown overboard, brought together so great a multitude of these
voracious animals, that it was not safe, at such times, for the fatigued sailors to re-
fresh themselves by bathing in the bay.
It was here that one of these during and profitable adventurers of the deep per-
formed so memorable an achievement in the destruction of a shark, that, when the
principle which prompted him to go very unequal and hazardous a combat, and the
intrepidity of the action itself are considered, abstractedly from the low and mean
circumstances of the person, who was but a common sailor, it will perhaps appear to
be as heroic an instance of disinterested friendship, and personal bravery, as any re-
corded in history.
Some time ago Captain John Beams, commander of the York merchant, arrived at
Barbadoes from England. Having disembarked the last part of his loading, which
was coals, the sailers, who had been employed in that dirty work, ventured into the
sea to wash themselves.
There they had not been long before a person on board espied a large shark mak-
ing towards them, and gave notice of their danger, upon which they swam back and
reached the boat, all but one.
Him the monster overtook almost within reach of the oars, and gripping him by
the small of the back, his devouring jaws soon cut him asunder, and as soon swallow-
ed the lower part of his body. The remaning part was taken up and carried on
board where his comrade was.
His friendship with the deceased had long been distinguished, by a reciprocal dis-
charge of all such endearing offices as imploed an union and sympathy of souls.
When he saw the severed trank of his friend, is was with horror and emotion too
great for words to paint.
During this affecting scene, the insatiable shark was seen traversing the bloody
surface in search after the remainder of his prey. The rest of the crew thought
themselves happy at being on board; he alone was unhappy, that he was not within
reach of the destroyer.
Fired at the sight. and vowing that he would make the devourer disgorge, or be
swallowed himself into the same grave, he plunges into the deep, armed with a large
sharp pointed knife. The shark no sooner saw him, but he made furiously towards
Both eqaully eager, the one of his prey, the other of revenge : the moment the
shark opened his rapacious jaws, his adversary dexterously dived, and grasping him
with his left hand somewhat below the upper fins, successfully employs his knife in
his right hand, giving him repeated stabs in the belly.
The enraged shark, after many unavailing efforts, finding himself overmatched in
his own element, endeavours to disengage himself, sometimes plunging to the bottom,
then, mad with pam, rearing his uncouth form (now stained with his own streaming
blood) above the foaming waves.
The crews of the surrounding vessels saw the unequal conflict, uncertain from
which of the combatants the streams of blood issued ; till at length the shark, much
weakened by the loss of blood, made towards shore, and with him his conqueror,
who, flushed with assurance of victory, pushes his foe with redoubled ardour, and,
by the help of an ebbing tide, dragging him on shore, rips up his bowels, and unites
and buries the severed body of his friend in one hospitable grave.
The story, I confess, (says the author) is of so extraordinary a nature, that I should
not have dared to give it to the public, had not I been authorised thereto by the tes-
timony of a very credible gentleman, who is ready to confirm by oath the truth of
what is here related.
This action, intrepid as it is, will unquestionably fall under the censure of those
who are accustomed to judge by the rules of moral or political fitness; it not being
prudent for any man to expose himself to a danger, from which he must owe his es-
cape as much to chance as to valour, nor consistent with the valour which ough to
be set on the great gift of life, to risque it, at any time, on small and inadequate oc-
The exploit, therefore, had been more truly heroic, had it been performed for the
preservation of his friend's life, rather than the recovery of his body; but such re-
flections are not the sentiments of sailors?a class of men to whom courage is a vir-
tue, however madly or unreasonably exerted : and yet if such an action had been
recorded of Scipio or Alexander, in the defence of Lælius or Hephestion, would it
not have been celebrated by their admirers among the most shining and most mag-
nanimous atchievement of those renouned heroes and friends.
Edinburgh, Printed for the Booksellers , Price ONE PENNY.
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Probable period of publication:
1820-1830 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(065)
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