# 4932


[MARITIME] Loss of the “London”

$425.00 AUD

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Manuscript poem, comprised of thirty four-line stanzas written in ink on seven sides of four small quarto sized sheets of lined paper, unsigned but dated after the first seven stanzas Dec. 2 1877 and at the foot of the final page Nov. 7 1878. Complete, clean and legible.

The steamer London, out of Plymouth and bound for Melbourne, sank in the Bay of Bisay on 11 January 1866, with the loss of 220 lives. Only 19 souls were saved. On board the London was the English actor Gustavus Brooke, who is reputed to have manfully assisted in operating the ship’s pumps in a vain attampt to avert disaster, and to have uttered the words: “If you succeed in saving yourself, give my kind farewell to the people of Melbourne.” A full account of the loss of the London – one of many published at the time – appeared in the Illustrated Sydney News on 16 April 1866.

The anonymous manuscript poem we offer here, commemorating one of the most infamous maritime disasters associated with Australia, was written within twelve years of the event and appears never to have been published. A short contemporary commentary on the disaster written by Tom Cringle, titled ‘The loss of the London‘, was published in Melbourne in 1866, copies of which are held in the State Library of New South Wales and State Library of Victoria. An anonymous broadside ballad, also with the same title, is known, but is completely unrelated to the present manuscript.

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