Halley under saile

On the 27 September 1699, a day after his last letter to the Admiralty, Halley writes again to inform them he is now “under saile” with his well-armed escort, the Fauconberg*, commanded by Captain John Luke.

(Halley to ?Burchett, dated 27 September 1699 from the Downs, National Archives ADM 1/1871)

Honourd Sr

This morning the wind coming up at ESE a fine gale, I am now under saile to the Westwards in Company of the Falcon bird a shipp of good force belonging to the Royall African Company, and I hope this wind may carry us clear of the Channell, in which case I am morally assured of my passage to the Southward. I humbly entreat your Honour will please to afford me your good opinion during my absence, and at my return I am fully perswaded I may be able to answer the expectations of those who perhaps censure the performances of my last voiage without examining all the Circonstances.

I am

Honoured Sr

Your most obedt Servt

Edm. Halley

That final sentence is, to me, typical of Halley: he politely asks that Josiah Burchett reserves judgment of him until he’s completed the voyage and allow him a second chance to show what he can do, and he’s very positive about his ability to achieve his goals and prove himself to those at the Admiralty who – perhaps unfairly – doubt his suitability for command. There’s nothing sullen or churlish, just a polite request to be allowed to show his capabilities when free of his determinedly obstructive lieutenant.

* I’ve seen the ship’s name spelt several ways, but this seems to be the standard.

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