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    Re: The shipwreck of Admiral Shovell
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2007 Sep 5, 00:12 +0100

    Frank Reed seems to have got himself remarkably overheated about
    this matter, and I can't imagine why.
    
    Let's recount the story, for those who don't know what he is on about, from
    page 12 of Sobel's book "Longitude"(1996).
    
    Shovell  "...  had been approached by a sailor, one of the "Association"'s
    crew, who claimed to have kept his own reckoning of the fleet's location
    during the whole cloudy passage. Such subversive navigation by an inferior
    was forbidden in the Royal Navy, as the unnamed seaman well knew. However,
    the danger appeared so enormous, by his calculations, that he risked his
    neck to make his concerns known tothe officers. Admiral Shovell had the man
    hanged for mutiny on the spot."
    
    | George, you wrote:
    | "So what Sobel did, unforgivably, was to relate such an implausible legend
    | as a fact."
    |
    | UNFORGIVABLY. lol. IMPLAUSIBLE lol. You do enjoy hyperbole, George. But
    | let's get back to facts
    |
    | How do you declare it all so implausible? How do you KNOW? Merely because
    | Gould said "yeah, right, i don't buy it" albeit, in Latin? The whole point
    | that I was getting at last week was how do we KNOW what is fact and what
    is
    | not in the terrible tale of the shipwrecks on the Scillies in 1707. You
    | weren't there (were you?). I wasn't there. Dava Sobel wasn't there. Hell,
    | Rupert Gould wasn't there...! So what really happened. It's well worth
    | exploring considering that the 300th anniversary is coming up so soon...
    
    Sobel reported the story as fact.  Did she provide any evidence? No. Can
    Frank prove it's truth? He makes no attempt to do so.
    
    I did not claim that the story is untrue (though I consider that highly
    likely). I described it as implausible, which it is, and explained why it
    was so implausible in writing-
    
    " No captain or admiral had such summary powers. And the flagship was due
    into her home port in the next day or two."
    
    | George, I think your biggest problem with the whole "back story" (what I
    | have recently called the social side of the legend) is that you personally
    | simply had never encountered it before you read Sobel's book. It was, as I
    | have said, very commonly told just the way she described it in the 1970s
    and
    | 80s and probably before. Can you, George, cite examples of historians of
    | science, or historians of astronomy, or nautical astronomy, or whatever
    (!)
    | who told the story much as Sobel did, or do you confirm my suspicion that
    | the entire 'social side' of the thing was new to you before you read
    | "Longitude"?
    
    I really don't see the relevance of Frank's "suspicion", in assessing the
    truth of the tale. Yes, I had read that story before I read "Longitude". So
    what? There seems to be something of a personal attack going on here, for
    reasons I cannot fathom.
    
    | The next step, of course, after we have enumerated the legendary details,
    is
    | to consider how one would actually verify or falsify the components of the
    | legend of the shipwreck of Admiral Shovell. There is, in fact, a process
    for
    | dealing with legends and the underlying facts. This process has been
    applied
    | to the Shovell story... a suprisingly long time ago [anyone?? it is (some
    of
    | it) on google books...]
    
    Well, go on, Frank. Apply that process, then, whatever it may be. Don't keep
    us in suspense.
    
    Next, in Navlist 3174, Frank replied to Fred Hebard as follows-
    
    ===================
    
    Fred, you wrote:
    
    "I looked at the figure.  If they could have had a good longitude,
    they would have been better off. "
    
    Did you look at the full diagram in the article? George clipped it just to
    the left of a couple of small X's in the original diagram. Do you see what
    those little X's represent?? They change EVERYTHING. That's where the
    Scillies would be relative the fleet's DR positions assuming something as
    trivial as a different catalogued source for the longitude difference
    between the Isles of Scilly and Cape Spartel. Longitude was the primary
    error in the fleet's position.
    
     -FER
    PS: I want to be very clear on this: I do not mean to imply that George
    clipped the diagram to remove the X's. He clipped it there, quite
    appropriately, to save on image size. However, I would contend that W.E. May
    made the X's small, and almost un-noticeable, in order to minimize their
    significance, which would have been a distraction from the point he
    (W.E.May) was trying to make.
    
    =====================
    
    What on Earth is all this about "clipping the diagram"? The attachment I
    sent, with a slightly magnified view of the diagram in the original paper,
    was complete, border and all. So was the copy I (and presumably everyone
    else), received back, as Navlist 3148. Nothing was clipped, nothing even
    appeared to be clipped.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable at george---.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    
    
    
    
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