October Tune of the Month: Farewell to the Unicorn

This is a lament about a particular episode of The Darien Scheme, the failed Scottish plan to colonize Panama at the end of the 17th century. After many struggles the remaining colonists decided to return to Scotland in four ships. One (The Pink) sprung a leak and was abandoned in the ocean, with its crew and passengers jumping onto The St. Andrew…which “had a long and dangerous passage, and at length got to Jamaica, having buried by the way above 100 of their men. They came to an Anchor first at Blowfields in Jamaica, and there were so weak and disabled, that they were necessitated to hire Seamen off the island, to bring her up to Port-Royal harbour in Jamaica, and there she remains in a ruinous and wracklike condition” (Rev. Francis Borland, Memoirs of Darien). The two remaining ships, The Caledonia and The Unicorn made it as far as Perth Amboy (modern day New Jersey), but then realized that sailors were dying so quickly that they’d run out of crew halfway across the Atlantic. So they abandoned The Unicorn and all boarded The Caledonia, which “at length with the help of The Unicorn’s Men, got safely home to Scotland”.

As Borland said, Sic transit gloria mundi.

(This, too, can be found in my Book o' Tunes.)

Copyright © 2017 Tim Macdonald