Exciting story of exile in Kamchatka and the conspiracy to escape. [See also August von Kotzebue’s dramatization of this story: Count Benyowsky; Or, the Conspiracy of Kamschatka, a Tragic-Comedy, in Five Acts.Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane. Translated from the German by R. W. Render. London: New York: Naphtali Judah, 1799.
p. xxii, in postscript to the Introduction in Volume I: He was as far north as 63 degrees, had with him Lord Anson’s voyages, translated into the Sclavonian language, which he said was of the greatest use to him, being, guided, in a great measure, by them.
p. 54, exiled to the capital of Siberia, Tobolyk, the governor removes his fetters and treated him humanely, after many indignities: The greatest favor which I obtained from the governour, was, doubtless, the use of pen and paper, to dissipate my woes. Precious instrument, which can give the shadow of liberty where the substance exists not! Inestimable gift of art, whose value can be truly estimated by those only who have felt thy loss! With thee I shall still possess the enjoyments of the mind; and by thy assistance my misfortunes and complaints may be transmitted to future times!
p. 90, during imprisonment on Kamchatka in houses of exiles: On the 5th, I arose and examined the whole cabin, which appeared to be very well furnished; but what surprised me the most agreeably was an alcove of the same kind as that in which I slept, which was filled with French, Russian, English, German, and Latin books, placed in order. I found Anson’s Voyages laying on a table, and began to read it with pleasure, but had scarcely finished the first page before Mr. Crustiew [a fellow exile] entered and embraced me. Our first conversation turns on this famous voyager, and my friend informed me that for six years past he had deliberated in his own mind on the means of quitting Kamchatka, and making his way to the Marion Islands.
p. 103: It fortunately happened that I was provided with a grammar of the Russian, German , and French languages, which I had found amongst the books of my friend. I put this into their hands [his students], with some introductions for the use of it.
p. 113, on starting a mapping project: … and on that very day I received out of the Chancery several journals and relations of sea voyages, made either by the officers of the Imperial Russian service, or by individuals. At the first perusal, however, I was convinced that I could advance nothing with certainty, except such articles as I found in the journals of Spanberg, Bering, and Tfirikow.
p. 258, on escaping from Kamchatka after his successful plot Benowsky says: “On the same day I had the archives of the chancery packed up, to carry them with me.” In chapter XXX he uses them to describe earlier voyages eastward from Kamchatka, e.g. Alaska & Bering Sea.
p., 286, gives a description of the Kurelles Islands: The present is the most exact and most positive description of these islands; for I have written nothing but what is real. The relation of Captain Spanberg, and several others, which I found in the archives of Kamchatka…has afforded me every necessary information.
Volume II: Deals with Benkowsky’s travels after escaping Kamchatka, and going to Madagascar via Japan, China, Macao, etc., returning to France in 1777.