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Anecdotes Home

In August, 1777, a vessel from Rochelle, laden with salt,
and manned by eight hands, with two passengers on board, was discovered
making for the pier of Dieppe. The wind was at the time so high, and the
sea so boisterous, that a coasting pilot made four fruitless attempts to
get out, and conduct the vessel into port. Boussard, a bold and intrepid
pilot, perceiving that the helmsman was ignorant of his dangerous position,
endeavoured to direct him by a speaking trumpet and signals; but the
captain could neither see nor hear, on account of the darkness of the
night, the roaring of the winds, and the tremendous swell of the sea. The
vessel in the meantime grounded on a flinty bottom, at a short distance
from the advanced jetty. Boussard, touched with the cries of the
unfortunate crew, resolved to spring to their assistance, in spite of every
remonstrance, and the apparent impossibility of success. Having tied one
end of a rope round his waist, and fastened the other to the jetty, he
plunged headlong into the raging deep. When he had got very near the ship,
a wave carried him off, and dashed him on shore. Several times was he thus
repulsed, rolled upon flinty stones, and covered with the wreck of the
vessel, which the fury of the waves was tearing rapidly to pieces. He did
not however give up his attempt. A wave now threw him under the vessel, and
he was given up for lost, but he quickly emerged, holding in his arms a
sailor, who had been washed overboard. He brought him on shore motionless
and just expiring. In short, after an infinity of efforts and struggles, he
reached the wreck, and threw the rope on board. All who had strength enough
to avail themselves of this assistance, were successively dragged to land.
Boussard, who imagined he had now saved all the crew, worn down by
fatigue, and smarting from his wounds and bruises, walked with great
difficulty to the light-house, where he fainted through exhaustion.
Assistance being procured, he quickly recovered. On hearing that cries
still issued from the wreck, he once more collected the little strength he
had left, rushed from the arms of his friends, plunged again into the sea,
and had the good fortune to save the life of one of the passengers, who was
lashed to the wreck, and who had been unable before to profit by the means
of escape.

Mons. de Crosne, the Intendant of Rouen, having stated these circumstances
to M. Neckar, then director-general of the finances, he immediately
addressed the following letter to Boussard, in his own hand-writing:--
"Brave man, I was not apprized by the Intendant till the day before
yesterday, of the gallant deed achieved by you on the 31st of August.
Yesterday I reported it to his majesty, who was pleased to enjoin me to
communicate to you his satisfaction, and to acquaint you, that he presents
you with one thousand livres, by way of present, and an annual pension of
three hundred livres. Continue to succour others when you have it in your
power; and pray for your king, who loves and recompenses the brave."

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