I Know I Cannot Escape

Found July 1861, western coast of Uist, Outer Hebrides.

In a bottle, the leaf of a pocket book, three inches by two inches, covered on both sides in pencil marks:

On board the Pacific, from L’pool to N. York. Ship going down. Great confusion on board. Icebergs around on every side. I know I cannot escape. I write the cause of our loss that friends may not live in suspense. The finder of this will please get it published.
Wm. Graham.

The Collins Line steamer Pacific left Liverpool for New York on 23 January 1856, and was lost with all 141 crew and 45 passengers. The ship could accommodate 280 passengers, but was carrying a relatively low number during this winter crossing. It was thought to have sunk off Newfoundland. This note, found more than five years later, is the only record of its fate.

William Graham was a British sea captain travelling on the Pacific as a passenger. “The writer was evidently some person accustomed to the perils of the sea,” commented the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, “for it is difficult to understand how any person whose nerves had not been hardened by the presence of frequent and appalling dangers could have written with such manifest coolness in the immediate presence of death.”

[Bedfordshire Times and Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 30 July 1861]

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