Friday, 14 September 2012

14th September 1812: Shelley's 'Declaration of Rights' is found floating in a bottle near Milford Haven

Speedwell Revenue Cutter off St. Ives,
September 14th 1812

My Lord,

I have conceived it my duty under the particular circumstance of the case to lay before you the enclosed Paper with its envelope, having found the same in a Sealed Wine Bottle floating near the Entrance of Milford Haven on the 10th Inst. and I have to regret that the dampness of the paper when taken out, should be the cause of its present tattered state, tho every care was taken to preserve it.

I am more particularly induced to transmit it to Your Lordship, from understanding that a similar paper was taken up in a similar manner a few weeks since near Lymouth on the North Coast of Devonshire by the Preventive Revenue Boat Stationed at Porlock within the Port of Minehead.—This marks the circumstance more strongly; for as the Envelope points to a person of the name of Shelley living thereat, it may, if thought of sufficient importance, lead to discovery of the Parties concerned in this novel mode of disseminating their pernicious opinions, and which appear to me intended to fall into the hands of the Seafaring part of the People, many hundreds of which may thus reach that Class, and do incalculable mischief among them.

I have [etc]

John Hopkins.

Inspecting Commander
of Revenue Cruisers
Western District
Port of Milford

[To] The Right. Hon. The Lord Viscount Sidmouth
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/127, along with the damaged copy of 'Declaration of Rights' and a partially legible letter from Shelley, which was also in the bottle.

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