'Document of depravity' to sell at Bonhams

As the after-effects of this weekend's drink-sodden debauchery die down, Bonhams will be preparing its sale of a diary outlining similar shenanigans... from 1838.

The 225-page volume in question features the writings of James Bell, who sailed on the Planter vessel from Deptford, southeast London, to Adelaide, Australia, over five months.

After setting sail in November, 1838, Bell's journal details the ensuing debauchery between passengers and crew. "With all this whoring and drunkenness," he writes, "It is amazing this ship ever arrived in Australia."

Private Journal of A Voyage to Australia 1838-39, by James Bell

Among the goings on documented by Bell is the captain's alleged seduction of two of the 11 daughters of McGowan, a Liverpool doctor. Further tales concern the gang of prostitutes who were among the passengers.

Discovered by a collector at a book stall, this remarkable chronicle of wanton depravity will auction at Bonhams with an estimate of $4,000.

The sale takes place this Tuesday (March 23), in London.


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