A Dieppe Pilot





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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