As rare as they move. Letters written by relatives of sailors from a French warship in the 18th century have been opened and studied.
Professor Renaud Morieux of the University of Cambridge examined 104 letters that were seized by the Royal Navy during the Seven Years’ War, a period in particular between 1756 and 1763 that besieged the British and French around their colonial possessions. Often, the letters were found almost intact. Over 200 years the evidence has not aged a bit.
“I asked to see this box out of curiosity,” says the researcher. In the journal Les Annales. History, a social science, he describes the content of the letters, has long been considered a military interest. “I realized I was the first person to read these personal messages. Their recipients are not so fortunate, and it’s very moving,” he says, adding that these letters contain “universal human experiences.”
Letters did not arrive where they went
Among the couriers was Marie Dubosque, who wrote in 1758 to her husband, Louis Champrelain, first lieutenant of the French frigate Galatea, captured by the British. “I will spend the night to write a lifetime to your faithful wife. Good evening my dear friend. It is midnight. I think it is time to rest”, we read. The letter did not reach its destination and the woman died the following year, probably before her husband was released.
In another letter dated January 27, 1758, Marguerite Lemoine, mother of sailor Nicolas Quesnel of Normandy, regrets not hearing more from her son. “I think more of you than of me (…) Finally, I wish you a very happy New Year full of God’s blessings,” he wrote to her. 181 members of the ship were identified, a quarter of whom received these letters, written mainly by women.
Free onbeperkt toegang tot Showbytes? That’s Gun!
Sign in to my account.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”