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From London to Land's End Daniel Defoe

Appendix To Land's End

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Here, also, as a farther testimony of the immense riches which have been lost at several times upon this coast, we found several engineers and projectors--some with one sort of diving engine, and some with another; some claiming such a wreck, and some such-and-such others; where they alleged they were assured there were great quantities of money; and strange unprecedented ways were used by them to come at it: some, I say, with one kind of engine, and some another; and though we thought several of them very strange impracticable methods, yet I was assured by the country people that they had done wonders with them under water, and that some of them had taken up things of great weight and in a great depth of water. Others had split open the wrecks they had found in a manner one would have thought not possible to be done so far under water, and had taken out things from the very holds of the ships. But we could not learn that they had come at any pieces of eight, which was the thing they seemed most to aim at and depend upon; at least, they had not found any great quantity, as they said they expected.

However, we left them as busy as we found them, and far from being discouraged; and if half the golden mountains, or silver mountains either, which they promise themselves should appear, they will be very well paid for their labour.

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From the tops of the hills on this extremity of the land you may see out into that they call the Chops of the Channel, which, as it is the greatest inlet of commerce, and the most frequented by merchant-ships of any place in the world, so one seldom looks out to seaward but something new presents--that is to say, of ships passing or repassing, either on the great or lesser Channel.

Upon a former accidental journey into this part of the country, during the war with France, it was with a mixture of pleasure and horror that we saw from the hills at the Lizard, which is the southern-most point of this land, an obstinate fight between three French men-of-war and two English, with a privateer and three merchant-ships in their company. The English had the misfortune, not only to be fewer ships of war in number, but of less force; so that while the two biggest French ships engaged the English, the third in the meantime took the two merchant-ships and went off with them. As to the picaroon or privateer, she was able to do little in the matter, not daring to come so near the men-of-war as to take a broadside, which her thin sides would not have been able to bear, but would have sent her to the bottom at once; so that the English men-of-war had no assistance from her, nor could she prevent the taking the two merchant-ships. Yet we observed that the English captains managed their fight so well, and their seamen behaved so briskly, that in about three hours both the Frenchmen stood off, and, being sufficiently banged, let us see that they had no more stomach to fight; after which the English--having damage enough, too, no doubt--stood away to the eastward, as we supposed, to refit.

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From London to Land's End
Daniel Defoe

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