Title: The Oeconomy [Economy] of Human Life, ...
Publisher: E. Harding, London
Publication Date: 1798
Book Condition: Fair
1-22 1-120 pages, numerous head and tail pieces, signed engravings after Sylvester Harding and dated 1795. Contemporary ink inscription across title page "Matthew Thomas West, Cork. Matthew Thomas West H.M. Ship Miniotaur off the start, March 21st 1808. At anchor in a calm 1/2 past 5 during quarters". Pencil inscription on front paste down endpaper "Eliza M. West". Gathering G loosened but still attached. On pages 5 and 21, the leaves have been excised, not affecting the text. Thumbing, toning, offsetting, foxing and mild handling marks throughout. 11.5 x19 cm. Contemporary quarter calf over marbled paper covered boards (rear hinge split but firm, head and tail of spine with some loss, corners worn, rubbed ). First published in 1751 this was a poular book of maxims. West was a Lieutenant in the British Navy. At the time he inscribed this book in 1808, West was serving on the Minotaur. His Majesty's Ship Minotaur, of 74 guns, was ordered by Admiral Sir James Saumarez to protect the last Baltic fleet, in the year 1810. In mid December, the Minotaur unexpectedly hit a hidden reef. "At eight o'clock, in the evening of the 22nd, Lieutenant Robert Snell took charge of the watch; the wind was then blowing hard from the south-east, the weather thick and hazy, and the ship, under close-reefed topsails, and courses, was going at the rate of four knots an hour. At nine o'clock, the captain gave orders that soundings should be taken every hour, under the immediate direction of the pilot of the watch. At midnight, the pilot desired that the vessel might be put on the other tack, and all hands were instantly turned up to carry out his directions, and Lieutenant Snell was in the act of informing the captain of what was going on, when the ship struck. The helm was ordered to be put up, but the first shock had carried away the tiller; fruitless attempts were then made to back the ship off, but she had struck with such force upon the sand that it was impossible to move her. The carpenter now reported fifteen feet water in the hold; and it increased so rapidly that in a few minutes it rose above the orlop deck. The officers and the whole of the ship's company were assembled upon deck, and the universal question passed from mouth to mouth 'On what coast have we struck?' The pilot of the watch maintained that they were on some shoal in the English coast; the other pilot, however, was of opinion that they were upon the North Haacks, and this proved to be actually the case. For a few minutes after the ship first struck there was some degree of confusion on board; but this soon subsided; order and tranquillity were restored, and the men all exerted themselves to the utmost, although she struck the ground so heavily, it was almost impossible for them to keep their feet". The Minotaur sunk off the coast of the Netherlands- Captain John Barrett and 400 crew all drowned. Presumably Lt. West drowned in that tragic accident or was perhaps a fortunate survivor. Attractive and interesting provenance of a book that is in a challeged state of condition. Seller Inventory # 5143