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Title: Byron's Narrative of the Loss of the Wager

Author: John Byron

Release Date: November 16, 2013 [EBook #44193]

Language: English

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At a time when every thing connected with the name of Byron is regarded with such general interest, it is a subject of surprise and regret that no popular edition should exist of the Narrative of Commodore Byron. Indeed, to procure any copy at all of the work requires some research and trouble. To supply this deficiency is the object of the present publishers.

To the admirers of the illustrious Poet, the Narrative of the sufferings of his grandfather will, on more than one account, be acceptable. In the Poems, it is often, whether humorously or pathetically, alluded to; for instance, in the mournfully beautiful stanzas to his sister,[iv] written soon after he left England for the last time, he says,

"A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore,
Had no rest at sea, nor I on shore!"

Again, in a different mood, in Don Juan, after having carried his hero through the horrors of a shipwreck, as disastrous and fatal in itself and its consequences as his imagination could conceive, he observes—

"——for none
Had suffered more—his hardships were comparative
To those related in my grand-dad's Narrative."

To which passage he appends the following note:—"Admiral Byron was remarkable for never making a voyage without a tempest. He was known to the sailors by the facetious name of 'foul-weather Jack.'" Indeed, to this narrative the poet is indebted for many of the incidents in that surpassing description of "the dangers of the sea." The awful "whispering"[v] in which, according to the Admiral, the men communicated their first horrid thoughts of putting one of their number to death for the support of the rest, is admirably preserved and amplified in Don Juan:

"At length one whispered his companion, who
Whispered another, and thus it went round,
And then into a hoarser murmur grew,
An ominous and wild, and desperate sound,
And then his comrade's thought each sufferer knew,
'Twas but his own, suppressed till now, he found:
And out they spoke of lots for flesh and blood,
And who should die to be his fellow's food."

The germ of the conception of the cave-scenes, so beautifully described in the poem, will also be found here; the fondness of Juan for his favourite dog, the voracity with which he devoured the long-withheld food, and many other incidents, were suggested by this Narrative.[1]

To those who would study the character of[vi] Lord Byron; discover what qualities of his nature were derived from his ancestors, and what were peculiarly his own; who would trace the effect produced on his writings by early tastes, habits, and associations, the narrative will afford ample material for observation.

Mr. Moore,—who, in paying to genius that tribute which genius alone can fully pay, has shewn how thoroughly he understood the character of the poet (a character, perhaps, after all to be felt rather than explained), how well he appreciated his virtues and the peculiar circumstances attendant on genius, which palliate, if they do not excuse, his foibles,—remarks, that Lord Byron "strikingly combined, in his own nature, some of the best and perhaps worst qualities that lie scattered through the various [vii]characters of his predecessors; the generosity, the love of enterprise, the high-mindedness of some of the better spirits of his race, with the irregular passions, the eccentricity, and daring recklessness of the world's opinion, that so much characterised others." In the character then of the most famous of those "better spirits," as exemplified in his own narrative of his sufferings and adventures, we may discern the source of many of the amiable qualities which descended to and adorned the immortal poet. We shall observe in both the same frankness, generosity, affability, love of excitement, the same mildness, and unassuming modesty. But the contrasts of their characters we shall find even more striking than the resemblances. We shall see in the sailor the ease and contentedness of spirit arising from its agreement with the sphere it moves in—the soul harmonizing with the situation—the man with the circumstances—the Supply equivalent to the Demand. We shall see in the poet the "high instincts of a creature moving about in worlds not realized"—the large expectancies, the high anticipations,[viii] unfulfilled and unanswered; the discontent, the jarring of a being not at one with the place of its existence, panting for something above it, aspiring "beyond the fitting medium of desire." We shall see him inordinately yearning after affection and happiness, yet enveloped, as it were, in a nervous network of sensibility, feelingly alive to every the faintest manifestation of slight, neglect, unkindness,—to all that causes sorrow and pain: we shall see the co-existence of these qualities producing necessarily disappointment and disgust; the very capability of enjoying the good, unfitting him for the endurance of the ill; the power of imagination heightening the beauties of the ideal, the keenness of perception aggravating the defects of the real; the consequent struggles for existence in a wounded spirit between "feelings unemployed," affections unreturned, and the bitterness or apathy they engender—between original benevolence and acquired misanthropy. We shall see the sailor habitually yielding himself to the guidance and authority of others, unhesitatingly acknowledging, and, as a matter of course,[ix] complying with, the established relations, laws, and customs of society; submitting without repining, question, or surprise, to the vicissitudes of fortune; patient of hardship, uncomplaining of Circumstance. The poet, from the pride of Mind, accustomed ever to decide for itself, to act and reflect always, obstinately questioning even Destiny and Fate; bidding haughty defiance to their Ruler, or yielding with sullen indifference or gloomy repining; if confessing the necessity of compliance, hardly resigned. We shall find the sailor sustaining his cheerfulness in every situation; the poet, plunging, perhaps from constitutional melancholy, into misery; acted upon by that strong attraction, that irresistible impulse towards the dark and the sad, that capability, strikingly described by himself, of "learning to love despair." We shall see throughout the difference between the continual presence and the comparative absence of consciousness, that power by which Self, rising as it were above itself, makes itself the subject of microscopic observation. In the writings especially, of each, we shall observe the operations[x] of these opposite properties. The sailor writes on, unaware and thoughtless of the effect of what he writes: the poet, in his letters particularly, seems to know intuitively the effect on others of every word he sets down; he reads their thoughts, he hears their remarks as he writes; and this knowledge, so immediate that its effects on his style seem almost unintentional, continually modifies his expressions, giving the appearance of affectation to what is no more than a natural result of his quick perception and extreme sensitiveness. In every action, too, of the poet, important or trivial, the working of this principle, so hard to be discovered in the sailor, is equally evident. He looks always to the effect: nothing seems done solely for itself: the love of admiration, of being remarkable, of standing alone, however disguised, may almost always be detected. Finally, we shall not fail to observe throughout, the contrast between the single and the "many-sided" mind; between the ordinary and the extraordinary; between the Mortal made immortal by force of circumstances; the Immortal, in spite[xi] of circumstances, asserting and maintaining his inborn immortality.

Yet, enhanced as the interest attaching to this narrative is, by the connection of its author with one of the greatest of the master-minds of these latter days, it is a work which of itself may well demand and obtain our attention and regard. The incidents it relates are peculiarly of that complexion which has caused it to be remarked (as Byron himself has somewhere) that Fiction, however wonderful, must often yield to Truth. It is a striking specimen of the romance of real life. The spectacle of a member of an old and noble family, accustomed to the comforts and luxuries that attend high birth, reduced to the necessity, at one time, of beating his shirt in order to crush the vermin it was useless to attempt to get rid of by washing; and at another, of making a meal (eagerly, as he himself confesses,) of the putrid remains of a favourite dog, is as well calculated to excite the curiosity of the observer of mankind as to gratify the taste of the reader of romance. And if the extraordinary nature of the incidents[xii] themselves arouse our wonder, the manner in which they are related will insure and fix our sympathy. The simple, unaffected style, slightly tinged with the quaintness of old phraseology; the total absence of any thing like striving after effect; the apparent unconsciousness of the narrator that he must be the object of admiration or pity; the freedom from all attempts to disguise some feelings, or to affect and assume others; the modesty, the frankness, which characterize this narration, while they give additional interest to the work itself, afford indisputable testimony to the amiableness of the author. To have imitated so correctly this natural style, is one of the highest triumphs of the genius of Defoe, in his romance of Robinson Crusoe.

Considered, then, either as an useful appendage to the Works and Life of Byron; as an aid in forming an estimate of his character; or as an account of sufferings and adventures which would appear suitable rather to a romance than to a journal of events actually experienced; an illustration of the strange vicissitudes human[xiii] life may undergo, of the extremities and hardships human nature may bear; or, in short, as a specimen of simple and beautiful writing, this work can scarcely fail of affording delight and gratification to the reader.


JOHN BYRON, the second son of William, the fourth Lord Byron, by his third wife, was born at Newstead Abbey, November 8th, 1723, and at an early age entered as a midshipman in the British navy. He still held that rank in 1740, when the expedition to the South Sea against the Spaniards took place under the command of Commodore Anson. The Wager, Captain Cheap, to which Mr. Byron belonged, was separated from the rest of the squadron, and wrecked on a desert island to the southward of Chiloe (47° south lat.) After encountering the most dreadful sufferings from famine, a small number of the crew, including the Captain and Mr. Byron, reached the isle of Chiloe, and surrendered themselves prisoners to the Spaniards. They were afterwards removed to Chili, and detained some time at Valparaiso and St. Jago; but were at length allowed to return to England, where they arrived after an absence of more than five years. At a subsequent period, Mr. Byron published his "Narrative." The young seaman was not deterred by his misfortunes from pursuing his naval career; he returned to the service of his country, and commanded the America, in Boscawen's action off Cape Lagos, August 18, 1759. His skill and enterprising spirit afterwards occasioned his appointment to the command of an expedition fitted out to make discoveries in the South Sea.[2] He sailed from England, June 21st, 1764, and having circumnavigated the globe, returned home in May, 1766. Several islands were explored in this voyage, which were afterwards visited by Bougainville and Cooke; and experiments were also made to determine the accuracy of Harrison's time-keeper, and its consequent value as a means of ascertaining the longitude. This officer subsequently was made an admiral, and commanded in the West Indies during the American war. Admiral Byron was much beloved in the navy, more so, perhaps, than any other officer except Nelson. He died in 1798, leaving one son, John, who dying before his uncle, Lord Byron, the title of the latter descended to his only son, George Gordon, the poet.

Loss of the Wager.

The equipment and destination of the squadron fitted out in the year 1740, of which Commodore Anson had the command, being sufficiently known from the ample and well-penned relation of it under his direction, I shall recite no particulars that are to be found in that work. But it may be necessary, for the better understanding the disastrous fate of the Wager, the subject of the following sheets, to repeat the remark, that a strange infatuation seemed to prevail in the whole conduct of this embarkation. For though it was unaccountably detained till the season for its sailing was past, no proper use[1] was made of that time, which should have been employed in providing a suitable force of sailors and soldiery; nor was there a due attention given to other requisites for so peculiar and extensive a destination.

This neglect not only rendered the expedition abortive in its principal object, but most materially affected the condition of each particular ship; and none so fatally as the Wager, which being an old Indiaman brought into the service on this occasion, was now fitted out as a man of war; but being made to serve as a store ship, was deeply laden with all kinds of careening geer, military and other stores, for the use of the other ships; and, what is more, crowded with bale goods, and encumbered with merchandise. A ship of this quality and condition could not be expected to work with that readiness and ease which was necessary for her security and preservation in those heavy seas with which she was to encounter. Her crew consisted of men pressed from long voyages to be sent upon a distant and hazardous[2] service: on the other hand, all her land-forces were no more than a poor detachment of infirm and decrepid invalids from Chelsea hospital, desponding under the apprehensions of a long voyage. It is not then to be wondered, that Captain Kid, under whose command the ship sailed out of the port, should in his last moments presage her ill success, though nothing very material happened during his command.

At his death he was succeeded by Captain Cheap, who still, without any accident, kept company with the squadron till we had almost gained the southernmost mouth of Straits Le Maire; when, being the sternmost ship, we were, by the sudden shifting of the wind to the southward, and the turn of the tide, very near being wrecked upon the rocks of Staten Land; which, notwithstanding, having weathered, contrary to the expectation of the rest of the squadron, we endeavoured all in our power to make up our lost way and regain our station. This we effected, and proceeded on our voyage, keeping company with the rest of the ships for[3] some time; when, by a great roll of a hollow sea, we carried away our mizen mast, all the chain plates to windward being broken. Soon after, hard gales at west coming on with a prodigious swell, there broke a heavy sea in upon the ship, which stove our boats, and filled us for some time.

These accidents were the more disheartening, as our carpenter was on board the Gloucester, and detained there by the incessant tempestuous weather, and sea impracticable for boats. In a few days he returned, and supplied the loss of the mizen-mast by a lower studding-sail boom; but this expedient, together with the patching up of our rigging, was a poor temporary relief to us. We were soon obliged to cut away our best bower anchor to ease the fore-mast, the shrouds and chain plates of which were all broken, and the ship in all parts in a most crazy condition.

Thus shattered and disabled, a single ship, (for we had now lost sight of our squadron) we had the additional mortification to find our[4]selves bearing for the land on a lee shore, having thus far persevered in the course we held, from an error in conjecture; for the weather was unfavourable for observation, and there are no charts of that part of the coast. When those officers who first perceived their mistake, endeavoured to persuade the captain to alter his course, and bear away, for the greater surety, to the westward, he persisted in making directly, as he thought, for the island of Socoro; and to such as dared from time to time to deliver their doubts of being entangled with the land stretching to the westward, he replied, that he thought himself in no case at liberty to deviate from his orders; and that the absence of his ship from the first place of rendezvous, would entirely frustrate the whole squadron in the first object of their attack, and possibly decide upon the fortune of the whole expedition. For the better understanding the force of his reasoning, it is necessary to explain, that the island of Socoro is in the neighbourhood of Baldivia, the capture of which place could not[5] be effected without the junction of that ship, which carried the ordnance and military stores.

The knowledge of the great importance of giving so early and unexpected a blow to the Spaniards, determined the captain to make the shortest way to the point in view; and that rigid adherence to orders from which he thought himself in no case at liberty to depart, begot in him a stubborn defiance of all difficulties, and took away from him those apprehensions, which so justly alarmed all such as, from an ignorance of the orders, had nothing present to their minds but the dangers of a lee shore.[3]

We had for some time been sensible of our[6] approach to the land, from no other tokens than those of weeds and birds, which are the usual indications of nearing the coast; but at length we had an imperfect view of an eminence, which we conjectured to be one of the mountains of the Cordilleras. This, however, was not so distinctly seen but that many conceived it to be the effect of imagination: but if the captain was persuaded of the nearness of our danger, it was now too late to remedy it; for at this time the straps of the fore jeer blocks breaking, the fore-yard came down; and the greatest part of the men being disabled through fatigue and sickness, it was some time before it [7]could be got up again. The few hands who were employed in this business now plainly saw the land on the larboard beam, bearing N.W., upon which the ship was driving bodily. Orders were then given immediately by the captain to sway the fore-yard up, and set the fore-sail; which done, we wore ship with her head to the southward, and endeavoured to crowd her off from the land: but the weather, from being exceedingly tempestuous, blowing now a perfect hurricane, and right in upon the shore, rendered our endeavours (for we were now only twelve hands fit for duty) entirely fruitless. The night came on, dreadful beyond description, in which, attempting to throw out our topsails to claw off the shore, they were immediately blown from the yards.

In the morning, about four o'clock, the ship struck. The shock we received upon this occasion, though very great, being not unlike the blow of a heavy sea, such as in the series of preceding storms we had often experienced, was taken for the same; but we were soon[8] undeceived by her striking again more violently than before, which laid her upon her beam ends, the sea making a fair breach over her. Every person that now could stir was presently upon the quarter-deck; and many even of those were alert upon this occasion, that had not showed their faces upon deck for above two months before: several poor wretches, who were in the last stage of the scurvy, and who could not get out of their hammocks, were immediately drowned.

In this dreadful situation she lay for some little time, every soul on board looking upon the present minute as his last; for there was nothing; to be seen but breakers all around us. However, a mountainous sea hove her off from thence, but she presently struck again, and broke her tiller. In this terrifying and critical juncture, to have observed all the various modes of horror operating according to the several characters and complexions amongst us, it was necessary that the observer himself should have been free from all impressions of danger. In[9]stances there were, however, of behaviour so very remarkable, they could not escape the notice of any one who was not entirely bereaved of his senses; for some were in this condition to all intents and purposes; particularly one, in the ravings of despair brought upon him, was seen stalking about the deck, flourishing a cutlass over his head and calling himself king of the country, and striking every body he came near, till his companions, seeing no other security against his tyranny, knocked him down. Some, reduced before by long sickness and the scurvy, became on this occasion as it were petrified and bereaved of all sense, like inanimate logs, and were bandied to and fro by the jerks and rolls of the ship, without exerting any efforts to help themselves. So terrible was the scene of foaming breakers around us, that one of the bravest men we had could not help expressing his dismay at it, saying it was too shocking a sight to bear; and would have thrown himself over the rails of the quarter-deck into the sea, had he not been prevented:[10] but at the same time there were not wanting those who preserved a presence of mind truly heroic. The man at the helm, though both rudder and tiller were gone, kept his station; and being asked by one of the officers, if the ship would steer or not, first took his time to make trial by the wheel, and then answered with as much respect and coolness as if the ship had been in the greatest safety; and immediately after applied himself with his usual serenity to his duty, persuaded it did not become him to desert it as long as the ship kept together. Mr. Jones, mate, who now survives not only this wreck, but that of the Litchfield man of war upon the coast of Barbary, at the time when the ship was in the most imminent danger, not only shewed himself undaunted, but endeavoured to inspire the same resolution in the men; saying, "My friends, let us not be discouraged: did you never see a ship amongst breakers before? Let us try to push her through them. Come, lend a hand; here is a sheet, and here is a brace; lay hold; I[11] don't doubt but we may stick her yet near enough to the land to save our lives." This had so good an effect, that many who before were half dead, seemed active again, and now went to work in earnest. This Mr. Jones did purely to keep up the spirits of the people as long as possible; for he often said afterwards, he thought there was not the least chance of a single man being saved. We now ran in between an opening of the breakers, steering by the sheets and braces, when providentially we stuck fast between two great rocks; that to windward sheltering us in some measure from the violence of the sea. We immediately cut away the main and foremast; but the ship kept beating in such a manner, that we imagined she could hold together but a very little while. The day now broke, and the weather, that had been extremely thick, cleared away for a few moments, and gave us a glimpse of the land not far from us. We now thought of nothing but saving our lives. To get the boats out, as our masts were gone, was a work of some time;[12] which when accomplished, many were ready to jump into the first, by which means they narrowly escaped perishing before they reached the shore. I now went to Captain Cheap (who had the misfortune to dislocate his shoulder by a fall the day before, as he was going forward to get the fore-yard swayed up), and asked him if he would not go on shore; but he told me, as he had done before, that he would be the last to leave the ship; and he ordered me to assist in getting the men out as soon as possible. I had been with him very often from the time the ship first struck, as he desired I would, to acquaint him with every thing that passed; and I particularly remarked, that he gave his orders at that time with as much coolness as ever he had done during the former part of the voyage.

The scene was now greatly changed; for many who but a few minutes before had shewn the strongest signs of despair, and were on their knees praying for mercy, imagining they were now not in that immediate danger, grew very[13] riotous, broke open every chest and box that was at hand, stove in the heads of casks of brandy and wine as they were borne up to the hatchways, and got so drunk, that several of them were drowned on board, and lay floating about the decks for some days after. Before I left the ship, I went down to my chest, which was at the bulkhead of the wardroom, in order to save some little matters, if possible; but whilst I was there the ship thumped with such violence, and the water came in so fast, that I was forced to get upon the quarter-deck again, without saving a single rag but what was upon my back. The boatswain and some of the people would not leave the ship so long as there was any liquor to be got at; upon which Captain Cheap suffered himself to be helped out of his bed, put into the boat, and carried on shore.

It is natural to think, that to men thus upon the point of perishing by shipwreck, the getting to land was the highest attainment of their wishes; undoubtedly it was a desirable event; yet, all things considered, our condition was but[14] little mended by the change. Whichever way we looked, a scene of horror presented itself: on one side the wreck (in which was all that we had in the world to support and subsist us), together with a boisterous sea, presented us with the most dreary prospect; on the other, the land did not wear a much more favourable appearance: desolate and barren, without sign of culture, we could hope to receive little other benefit from it than the preservation it afforded us from the sea. It must be confessed this was a great and merciful deliverance from immediate destruction; but then we had wet, cold, and hunger, to struggle with, and no visible remedy against any of these evils. Exerting ourselves, however, though faint, benumbed, and almost helpless, to find some wretched covert against the extreme inclemency of the weather, we discovered an Indian hut, at a small distance from the beach, within a wood, in which as many as possible, without distinction, crowded themselves, the night coming on exceedingly tempestuous and rainy. But here our[15] situation was such as to exclude all rest and refreshment by sleep from most of us; for besides that we pressed upon one another extremely, we were not without our alarms and apprehensions of being attacked by the Indians, from a discovery we made of some of their lances and other arms in our hut; and our uncertainty of their strength and disposition, gave alarm to our imagination, and kept us in continual anxiety.

In this miserable hovel, one of our company, a lieutenant of invalids, died this night; and of those who for want of room took shelter under a great tree, which stood them in very little stead, two more perished by the severity of that cold and rainy night. In the morning, the calls of hunger, which had been hitherto suppressed by our attention to more immediate dangers and difficulties, were now become too importunate to be resisted. We had most of us fasted eight and forty hours, some more; it was time, therefore, to make inquiry among ourselves what store of sustenance had been brought from the[16] wreck by the providence of some, and what could be procured on the island by the industry of others: but the produce of the one amounted to no more than two or three pounds of biscuit dust reserved in a bag; and all the success of those who ventured abroad, the weather being still exceedingly bad, was to kill one sea-gull, and pick some wild cellery. These, therefore, were immediately put into a pot, with the addition of a large quantity of water, and made into a kind of soup, of which each partook as far as it would go; but we had no sooner thrown this down than we were seized with the most painful sickness at our stomachs, violent reachings, swoonings, and other symptoms of being poisoned. This was imputed to various causes, but in general to the herbs we made use of, in the nature and quality of which we fancied ourselves mistaken; but a little further inquiry let us into the real occasion of it, which was no other than this: the biscuit dust was the sweepings of the bread-room, but the bag in which they were put had been a tobacco bag; the[17] contents of which not being entirely taken out, what remained mixed with the biscuit-dust, and proved a strong emetic.

We were in all about a hundred and forty who had got to shore; but some few remained still on board, detained either by drunkenness, or a view of pillaging the wreck, among which was the boatswain. These were visited by an officer in the yawl, who was to endeavour to prevail upon them to join the rest; but finding them in the greatest disorder, and disposed to mutiny, he was obliged to desist from his purpose and return without them. Though we were very desirous, and our necessities required that we should take some survey of the land we were upon; yet being strongly pre-possessed that the savages were retired but some little distance from us, and waited to see us divided, our parties did not make this day, any great excursions from the hut; but as far as we went, we found it very morassy and unpromising. The spot which we occupied was a bay formed by hilly promontories, that to the north so[18] exceeding steep, that in order to ascend it (for there was no going round, the bottom being washed by the sea), we were at the labour of cutting steps. This, which we called Mount Misery, was of use to us in taking some observations afterwards, when the weather would permit: the southern promontory was not so inaccessible. Beyond this, I, with some others, having reached another bay, found driven ashore some parts of the wreck, but no kind of provision; nor did we meet with any shellfish, which we were chiefly in search of. We therefore returned to the rest, and for that day made no other repast than what the wild cellery afforded us. The ensuing night proved exceedingly tempestuous; and, the sea running very high, threatened those on board with immediate destruction by the parting of the wreck. They then were as solicitous to get ashore, as they were before obstinate in refusing the assistance we sent them; and when they found the boat did not come to their relief at the instant they expected it, without considering how impracti[19]cable a thing it was to send it them in such a sea, they fired one of the quarter-deck guns at the hut; the ball of which did but just pass over the covering of it, and was plainly heard by the captain and us who were within. Another attempt, therefore, was made to bring these madmen to land, which, however, by the violence of the sea, and other impediments, occasioned by the mast that lay alongside, proved ineffectual. This unavoidable delay made the people on board outrageous: they fell to beating every thing to pieces that fell in the way; and, carrying their intemperance to the greatest excess, broke open chests and cabins for plunder that could be of no use to them: and so earnest were they in this wantonness of theft, that one man had evidently been murdered on account of some division of the spoil, or for the sake of the share that fell to him, having all the marks of a strangled corpse. One thing in this outrage they seemed particularly attentive to, which was, to provide themselves with arms and ammunition, in order to support them in[20] putting their mutinous designs in execution, and asserting their claim to a lawless exemption from the authority of their officers, which they pretended must cease with the loss of the ship. But of these arms, which we stood in great need of, they were soon bereaved, upon coming ashore, by the resolution of Captain Cheap and Lieutenant Hamilton of the marines. Among these mutineers which had been left on board, as I observed before, was the boatswain; who, instead of exerting the authority he had over the rest, to keep them within bounds as much as possible, was himself a ringleader in their riot: him, without respect to the figure he then made, for he was in laced clothes, Captain Cheap, by a blow well laid on with his cane, felled to the ground. It was scarce possible to refrain from laughter at the whimsical appearance these fellows made, who, having rifled the chests of the officers' best suits, had put them on over their greasy trowsers and dirty checked shirts. They were soon stripped of their finery, as they had before been obliged to resign their arms.


The incessant rains, and exceeding cold weather in this climate, rendered it impossible for us to subsist long without shelter; and the hut being much too little to receive us all, it was necessary to fall upon some expedient, without delay, which might serve our purpose: accordingly the gunner, carpenter, and some more, turning the cutter keel upwards, and fixing it upon props, made no despicable habitation. Having thus established some sort of settlement, we had the more leisure to look about us, and to make our researches with greater accuracy than we had before, after such supplies as the most desolate coasts are seldom unfurnished with. Accordingly we soon provided ourselves with some sea-fowl, and found limpets, muscles, and other shell-fish in tolerable abundance; but this rummaging of the shore was now becoming extremely irksome to those who had any feeling, by the bodies of our drowned people thrown among the rocks, some of which were hideous spectacles, from the mangled condition they were in by the[22] violent surf that drove in upon the coast. These horrors were overcome by the distresses of our people, who were even glad of the occasion of killing the gallinazo (the carrion crow of that country), while preying on these carcases, in order to make a meal of them. But a provision by no means proportionable to the number of mouths to be fed, could, by our utmost industry, be acquired from that part of the island we had hitherto traversed: therefore, till we were in a capacity of making more distant excursions, the wreck was to be applied to as often as possible, for such supplies as could be got out of her. But as this was a very precarious fund in its present situation, and at best could not last us long; considering too that it was very uncertain how long we might be detained upon this island the stores and provision we were so fortunate as to retrieve, were not only to be dealt out with the most frugal economy, but a sufficient quantity, if possible, laid by to fit us out, whenever we could agree upon any method of transporting ourselves[23] from this dreary spot. The difficulties we had to encounter in these visits to the wreck, cannot be easily described; for no part of it being above water except the quarter-deck and part of the fore-castle, we were usually obliged to purchase such things as were within reach, by means of large hooks fastened to poles, in which business we were much incommoded by the dead bodies floating between decks.

In order to secure what we thus got, in a manner to answer the ends and purposes above-mentioned, Captain Cheap ordered a store tent to be erected near his hut as a repository, from which nothing was to be dealt out but in the measure and proportion agreed upon by the officers; and though it was very hard upon us petty officers, who were fatigued with hunting all day in quest of food, to defend this tent from invasion by night, no other means could be devised for this purpose so effectual as the committing this charge to our care; and we were accordingly ordered to divide the task equally between us. Yet, notwithstanding our[24] utmost vigilance and care, frequent robberies were committed upon our trust, the tent being accessible in more than one place. And one night, when I had the watch, hearing a stir within, I came unawares upon the thief, and presenting a pistol to his breast, obliged him to submit to be tied up to a post till I had an opportunity of securing him more effectually. Depredations continued to be made on our reserved stock, notwithstanding the great hazard attending such attempts; for our common safety made it necessary to punish them with the utmost rigour. This will not be wondered at, when it is known how little the allowance which might consistently be dispensed from thence, was proportionable to our common exigencies; so that our daily and nightly task of roving after food, was not in the least relaxed thereby; and all put together was so far from answering our necessities, that many at this time perished with hunger. A boy, when no other eatables could be found, having picked up the liver of one of the drowned men (whose[25] carcase had been torn to pieces by the force with which the sea drove it among the rocks), was with difficulty withheld from making a meal of it. The men were so assiduous in their research after the few things which drove from the wreck, that in order to have no sharers of their good fortune, they examined the shore no less by night than by day; so that many of those who were less alert, or not so fortunate as their neighbours, perished with hunger, or were driven to the last extremity. It must be observed, that on the 14th of May we were cast away, and it was not till the 25th of this month that provision was served regularly from the store tent.

The land we were now settled upon was about 90 leagues to the northward of the western mouth of the straits of Magellan, in the latitude of between 47 and 48° south, from whence we could plainly see the Cordilleras; and by two Lagoons on the north and south of us, stretching towards those mountains, we conjectured it was an island. But as yet we[26] had no means of informing ourselves perfectly, whether it was an island or the main; for besides that the inland parts at a little distance from us seemed impracticable from the exceeding great thickness of the wood, we had hitherto been in such confusion and want (each finding full employment for his time, in scraping together a wretched subsistence, and providing shelter against the cold and rain), that no party could be formed to go upon discoveries. The climate and season too were utterly unfavourable to adventurers, and the coast, as far as our eye could stretch seaward, a scene of such dismal breakers as would discourage the most daring from making attempts in small boats. Nor were we assisted in our enquiries by any observation that could be made from that eminence we called Mount Misery, toward land, our prospect that way being intercepted by still higher hills and lofty woods: we had therefore no other expedient, by means of which to come at this knowledge, but by fitting out one of our ship's boats upon some discovery, to[27] inform us of our situation. Our long-boat was still on board the wreck; therefore a number of hands were now dispatched to cut the gunwale of the ship, in order to get her out. Whilst we were employed in this business, there appeared three canoes of Indians paddling towards us: they had come round the point from the southern Lagoons. It was some time before we could prevail upon them to lay aside their fears and approach us; which at length they were induced to do by the signs of friendship we made them, and by shewing some bale-goods, which they accepted, and suffered themselves to be conducted to the captain, who made them, likewise, some presents. They were strangely affected with the novelty thereof; but chiefly when shewn the looking-glass, in which the beholder could not conceive it to be his own face that was represented, but that of some other behind it, which he therefore went round to the back of the glass to find out.

These people were of a small stature, very swarthy, having long, black, coarse hair, hang[28]ing over their faces. It was evident, from their great surprise, and every part of their behaviour, as well as their not having one thing in their possession which could be derived from white people, that they had never seen such. Their clothing was nothing but a bit of some beast's skin about their waists, and something woven from feathers over the shoulders; and as they uttered no word of any language we had ever heard, nor had any method of making themselves understood, we presumed they could have had no intercourse with Europeans. These savages, who upon their departure left us a few muscles, returned in two days, and surprised us by bringing three sheep. From whence they could procure animals in a part of the world so distant from any Spanish settlement, cut off from all communication with the Spaniards by an inaccessible coast and unprofitable country, is difficult to conceive. Certain it is, that we saw no such creatures, nor ever heard of any such, from the Straits of Magellan, till we got into the neighbourhood of Chiloe: it must[29] be by some strange accident that these creatures came into their possession; but what that was, we never could learn from them. At this interview we bartered with them for a dog or two, which we roasted and eat. In a few days after, they made us another visit, and bringing their wives with them, took up their abode with us for some days; then again left us.

Whenever the weather permitted, which was now grown something drier, but exceeding cold, we employed ourselves about the wreck, from which we had, at sundry times, recovered several articles of provision and liquor: these were deposited in the store-tent. Ill-humour and discontent, from the difficulties we laboured under in procuring subsistence, and the little prospect there was of any amendment in our condition, was now breaking out apace. In some it shewed itself by a separation of settlement and habitation; in others, by a resolution of leaving the captain entirely, and making a wild journey by themselves, without determining upon any plan whatever. For my own part, seeing it was the[30] fashion, and liking none of their parties, I built a little hut just big enough for myself and a poor Indian dog I found in the woods, who could shift for himself along shore, at low water, by getting limpets. This creature grew so fond of me, and faithful, that he would suffer nobody to come near the hut without biting them. Besides those seceders I mentioned, some laid a scheme of deserting us entirely: these were in number ten; the greatest part of them a most desperate and abandoned crew, who, to strike a notable stroke before they went off, placed half a barrel of gunpowder close to the captain's hut, laid a train to it, and were just preparing to perpetrate their wicked design of blowing up their commander, when they were with difficulty dissuaded from it by one who had some bowels and remorse of conscience left in him. These wretches, after rambling for some time in the woods, and finding it impracticable to get off, for they were then convinced that we were not upon the main, as they had imagined when they first left us, but[31] upon an island within four or five leagues of it, returned and settled about a league from us; however, they were still determined, as soon as they could procure craft fit for their purpose, to get to the main. But before they could effect this, we found means to prevail upon the armourer and one of the carpenter's crew,—two very useful men to us, who had imprudently joined them,—to come over again to their duty. The rest, (one or two excepted) having built a punt, and converted the hull of one of the ship's masts into a canoe, went away up one of the Lagoons, and never were heard of more.

These being a desperate and factious set, did not distress us much by their departure, but rather added to our future security: one in particular, James Mitchell by name, we had all the reason in the world to think had committed no less than two murders since the loss of our ship; one on the person found strangled on board, another on the body of a man whom we discovered among some bushes upon Mount Misery, stabbed in several places, and shock[32]ingly mangled. This diminution of our numbers was succeeded by an unfortunate accident much more affecting in its consequences, I mean the death of Mr. Cozens, midshipman; in relating which with the necessary impartiality and exactness, I think myself obliged to be more than ordinarily particular. Having one day, among other things, got a cask of peas out of the wreck, about which I was almost constantly employed, I brought it to shore in the yawl; when having landed it, the captain came down upon the beach, and bid me to go up to some of the tents and order hands to come down and roll it up; but finding none except Mr. Cozens, I delivered him the orders, who immediately came down to the captain, where I left them when I returned to the wreck. Upon my coming on shore again, I found that Mr. Cozens was put under confinement by the captain, for being drunk and giving him abusive language: however, he was soon after released. A day or two after, he had some dispute with the surgeon, and came to blows: all these things incensed[33] the captain greatly against him. I believe this unfortunate man was kept warm with liquor, and set on by some ill-designing persons; for, when sober, I never knew a better natured man, or one more inoffensive. Some little time after, at the hour of serving out provisions, Mr. Cozens was at the store tent; and having, it seems, lately had a quarrel with the purser, and now some words arising between them, the latter told him he was come to mutiny; and without any further ceremony, fired a pistol at his head, which narrowly missed him. The captain, hearing the report of a pistol, and perhaps the purser's words, that Cozens was come to mutiny, ran out of his hut with a cocked pistol in his hand, and, without asking any questions, immediately shot him through the head. I was at this time in my hut, as the weather was extremely bad; but running out upon the alarm of this firing, the first thing I saw was Mr. Cozens on the ground, weltering in his blood: he was sensible, and took me by the hand, as he did several others, shaking his[34] head, as if he meant to take leave of us. If Mr. Cozens' behaviour to his captain was indecent and provoking, the captain's, on the other hand, was rash and hasty: if the first was wanting in that respect and observance which is due from a petty officer to his commander, the latter was still more unadvised in the method he took for the enforcement of his authority; of which, indeed, he was jealous to the last degree, and which he saw daily declining, and ready to be trampled upon. His mistaken apprehension of a mutinous design in Mr. Cozens, the sole motive of this rash action, was so far from answering the end he proposed by it, that the men, who before were much dissatisfied and uneasy, were by this unfortunate step thrown almost into open sedition and revolt. It was evident that the people, who ran out of their tents, alarmed by the report of fire-arms, though they disguised their real sentiments for the present, were extremely affected at this catastrophe of Mr. Cozens (for he was greatly beloved by them): their minds[35] were now exasperated, and it was to be apprehended, that their resentment, which was smothered for the present, would shortly shew itself in some desperate enterprise. The unhappy victim, who lay weltering in his blood on the ground before them, seemed to absorb their whole attention; the eyes of all were fixed upon him; and visible marks of the deepest concern appeared in the countenances of the spectators. The persuasion the captain was under, at the time he shot Mr. Cozens, that his intentions were mutinous, together with a jealousy of the diminution of his authority, occasioned also his behaving with less compassion and tenderness towards him afterwards than was consistent with the unhappy condition of the poor sufferer: for when it was begged as a favour by his mess-mates, that Mr. Cozens might be removed to their tent, though a necessary thing in his dangerous situation, yet it was not permitted; but the poor wretch was suffered to languish on the ground some days, with no other covering than a bit[36] of canvass thrown over some bushes, where he died. But to return to our story: the Captain, addressing himself to the people thus assembled, told them, that it was his resolution to maintain his command over them as usual, which still remained in as much force as ever; and then ordered them all to return to their respective tents, with which order they instantly complied. Now we had saved the long-boat from the wreck, and got it in our possession, there was nothing that seemed so necessary towards the advancing our delivery from this desolate place, as the new modelling this vessel so as to have room for all those who were inclined to go off in her, and to put her in a condition to bear the stormy seas we must of course encounter. We therefore hauled her up, and having placed her upon blocks, sawed her in two, in order to lengthen her about twelve feet by the keel. For this purpose, all those who could be spared from the more immediate task of procuring subsistence, were employed in fitting and shaping timber as the carpenter directed them; I say,[37] in procuring subsistence, because the weather lately having been very tempestuous, and the wreck working much, had disgorged a great part of her contents, which were every where dispersed about the shore.

We now sent frequent parties up the Lagoons, which sometimes succeeded in getting some sea-fowl for us. The Indians appearing again in the offing we put off our yawl, in order to frustrate any design they might have of going up the Lagoon towards the deserters, who would have availed themselves of some of their canoes to have got upon the main. Having conducted them in, we found that their intention was to settle among us, for they had brought their wives and children with them, in all about fifty persons, who immediately set about building themselves wigwams, and seemed much reconciled to our company; and, could we have entertained them as we ought, they would have been of great assistance to us, who were yet extremely put to it to subsist ourselves, being a hundred in number; but the[38] men, now subject to little or no control, endeavoured to seduce their wives, which gave the Indians such offence, that in a short time they found means to depart, taking every thing along with them; and we, being sensible of the cause, never expected to see them return again. The carpenter having made some progress in his work upon the long-boat, in which he was enabled to proceed tolerably, by the tools and other articles of his business retrieved from the wreck, the men began to think of the course they should take to get home; or rather, having borrowed Sir John Narborough's Voyage of Captain Cheap, by the application of Mr. Bulkely, which book he saw me reading one day in my tent, they, immediately upon perusing it, concluded upon making their voyage home by the Straits of Magellan. This plan was proposed to the captain, who by no means approved of it, his design being to go northwards, with a view of seizing a ship of the enemy's, by which means he might join the Commodore: at present, therefore, here it rested. But the[39] men were in high spirits from the prospect they had of getting off in the long-boat, overlooking all the difficulties and hazards of a voyage almost impracticable, and caressing the carpenter, who indeed was an excellent workman, and deserved all the encouragement they could give him. The Indians having left us, and the weather continuing tempestuous and rainy, the distresses of the people for want of food become insupportable. Our number, which was at first one hundred and forty-five, was now reduced to one hundred, and chiefly by famine, which put the rest upon all shifts and devices to support themselves. One day, when I was at home in my hut with my Indian dog, a party came to my door, and told me their necessities were such, that they must eat the creature or starve. Though their plea was urgent, I could not help using some arguments to endeavour to dissuade them from killing him, as his faithful services and fondness deserved it at my hands; but, without weighing my arguments, they took him away by force[40] and killed him; upon which, thinking that I had at least as good a right to a share as the rest, I sat down with them, and partook of their repast. Three weeks after that I was glad to make a meal of his paws and skin, which, upon recollecting the spot where they had killed him, I found thrown aside and rotten. The pressing calls of hunger drove our men to their wit's end, and put them upon a variety of devices to satisfy it. Among the ingenious this way, one Phips, a boatswain's mate, having got a water puncheon, scuttled it; then lashing two logs, one on each side, set out in quest of adventures in this extraordinary and original piece of embarkation. By this means he would frequently, when all the rest were starving, provide himself with wild fowl; and it must have been very bad weather indeed which could deter him from putting out to sea when his occasions required. Sometimes he would venture far out in the offing, and be absent the whole of the day: at last, it was his misfortune, at a great distance from shore, to be[41] overset by a heavy sea; but being near a rock, though no swimmer, he managed so as to scramble to it, and with great difficulty ascended it: there he remained two days with very little hopes of any relief, for he was too far off to be seen from shore; but fortunately a boat, having put off and gone in quest of wild fowl that way, discovered him making such signals as he was able, and brought him back to the island. But this accident did not so discourage him but that soon after, having procured an ox's hide, used on board for sifting powder, and called a gunner's hide, by the assistance of some hoops he formed something like a canoe, in which he made several successful voyages. When the weather would permit us, we seldom failed of getting some wild fowl, though never in any plenty, by putting off with our boats; but this most inhospitable climate is not only deprived of the sun for the most part, by a thick, rainy atmosphere, but is also visited by almost incessant tempests. It must be confessed, we reaped some benefit[42] from these hard gales and overgrown seas, which drove several things ashore; but there was no dependence on such accidental relief; and we were always alert to avail ourselves of every interval of fair weather, though so little to be depended on, that we were often unexpectedly and to our peril overtaken by a sudden change. In one of our excursions I, with two more, in a wretched punt of our own making, had no sooner landed at our station upon a high rock, than the punt was driven loose by a sudden squall; and had not one of the men, at the risk of his life, jumped into the sea and swam on board her, we must in all probability have perished; for we were more than three leagues from the island at the time. Among the birds we generally shot, was the painted goose, whose plumage is variegated with the most lively colours; and a bird much larger than a goose, which we called the race-horse, from the velocity with which it moved upon the surface of the water, in a sort of half flying, half running motion. But we were not so suc[43]cessful in our endeavours by land; for though we sometimes got pretty far into the woods, we met with very few birds in all our walks. We never saw but three woodcocks, two of which were killed by Mr. Hamilton, and one by myself. These, with some humming-birds, and a large kind of robin redbreast, were the only feathered inhabitants of this island, excepting a small bird with two very long feathers in his tail, which was generally seen amongst the rocks, and was so tame, that I have had them rest upon my shoulder whilst I have been gathering shell-fish. Indeed, we were visited by many birds of prey, some very large; but these only occasionally, and, as we imagined, allured by some dead whale in the neighbourhood, which was once seen. However, if we were so fortunate as to kill one of them, we thought ourselves very well off. In one of my walks, seeing a bird of this latter kind upon an eminence, I endeavoured to come upon it unperceived with my gun, by means of the woods which lay at the back of that[44] eminence; but when I had proceeded so far in the wood as to think I was in a line with it, I heard a growling close by me, which made me think it advisable to retire as soon as possible; the woods were so gloomy I could see nothing; but as I retired, this noise followed me close till I had got out of them. Some of our men did assure me, that they had seen a very large beast in the woods; but their description of it was too imperfect to be relied upon. The wood here is chiefly of the aromatic kind; the iron wood, a wood of a very deep red hue, and another, of an exceeding bright yellow. All the low spots are very swampy; but what we thought strange, upon the summits of the highest hills were found beds of shells, a foot or two thick.

The long-boat being near finished, some of our company were selected to go out in the barge, in order to reconnoitre the coast to the southward, which might assist us in the navigation we were going upon. This party consisted of Mr. Bulkely, Mr. Jones, the purser,[45] myself, and ten men. The first night, we put into a good harbour, a few leagues to the southward of Wager's Island; where finding a large bitch big with puppies, we regaled upon them. In this expedition we had our usual bad weather, and breaking seas, which were grown to such a height the third day, that we were obliged, through distress, to push in at the first inlet we saw at hand. This we had no sooner entered, than we were presented with a view of a fine bay, in which having secured the barge, we went ashore; but the weather being very rainy, and finding nothing to subsist upon, we pitched a bell tent, which we had brought with us, in the wood opposite to where the barge lay. As this tent was not large enough to contain us all, I proposed to four of the people to go to the end of the bay, about two miles distant from the bell tent, to occupy the skeleton of an old Indian wigwam, which I had discovered in a walk that way upon our first landing. This we covered to windward with sea-weed; and lighting a fire, laid ourselves[46] down, in hopes of finding a remedy for our hunger in sleep; but we had not long composed ourselves before one of our company was disturbed by the blowing of some animal at his face, and upon opening his eyes, was not a little astonished to see, by the glimmering of the fire, a large beast standing over him. He had presence of mind enough to snatch a brand from the fire, which was now very low, and thrust it at the nose of the animal, who thereupon made off: this done, the man awoke us, and related, with horror in his countenance, the narrow escape he had had of being devoured. But though we were under no small apprehensions of another visit from this animal, yet our fatigue and heaviness was greater than our fears; and we once more composed ourselves to rest, and slept the remainder of the night without any further disturbance. In the morning, we were not a little anxious to know how our companions had fared; and this anxiety was increased upon tracing the footsteps of the beast in the sand, in a direction towards the[47] bell tent. The impression was deep and plain, of a large round foot, well furnished with claws. Upon our acquainting the people in the tent with the circumstances of our story, we found that they too had been visited by the same unwelcome guest, which they had driven away by much the same expedient. We now returned from this cruise, with a strong gale, to Wager's Island; having found it impracticable to make farther discoveries in the barge, on so dangerous a coast, and in such heavy seas. Here we soon discovered, by the quarters of dogs hanging up, that the Indians had brought a fresh supply to our market. Upon enquiry, we found that there had been six canoes of them, who, among other methods of taking fish, had taught their dogs to drive the fish into a corner of some pond, or lake, from whence they were easily taken out, by the skill and address of these savages. The old cabal, during our absence, had been frequently revived; the debates of which generally ended in riot and drunkenness. This cabal was chiefly held in[48] a large tent, which the people belonging to it had taken some pains to make snug and convenient, and lined with bales of broad cloth driven from the wreck. Eighteen of the stoutest fellows of the ship's company had possession of this tent, from whence were dispatched committees to the Captain, with the resolutions they had taken with regard to their departure; but oftener for liquor. Their determination was to go in the long-boat to the southward, by the straits of Magellan; and the point they were labouring, was to prevail upon the Captain to accompany them. But though he had fixed upon a quite different plan, which was to go to the northward, yet he thought it politic, at present, seemingly to acquiesce with them, in order to keep them quiet. When they began to stipulate with him, that he should be under some restrictions in point of command, and should do nothing without consulting his officers, he insisted upon the full exercise of his authority as before. This broke all measures between them, and they were from this time[49] determined he should go with them, whether he would or no. A better pretence they could not have for effecting this design, than the unfortunate affair of Mr. Cozens; which they therefore made use of for seizing his person, and putting him under confinement, in order to bring him to his trial in England. The long-boat was now launched, and ready for sailing, and all the men embarked, except Captain Pemberton, with a party of marines, whom he had drawn up upon the beach with the intention of conducting Captain Cheap on board; but he was at length persuaded to desist from this resolution by Mr. Bulkely. The men too, finding they were straitened for room, and that their stock of provision would not admit of their taking supernumeraries aboard, were now no less strenuous for his enlargement, and being left to his option of staying behind. Therefore, after having distributed their share in the reserved stock of provision, which was very small, we departed, leaving Captain Cheap, Mr. Hamilton of the marines, and the surgeon,[50] upon the island. I had all along been in the dark as to the turn this affair would take; and not in the least suspecting but that it was determined Captain Cheap should be taken with us, readily embarked under that persuasion; but when I found that this design, which was so seriously carried on to the last, was suddenly dropped, I was determined, upon the first opportunity, to leave them; which was at this instant impossible for me to do, the long-boat lying some distance off shore, at anchor. We were in all eighty-one, when we left the island, distributed into the long-boat, cutter, and barge; fifty-nine on board the first, twelve in the second, in the last, ten. It was our purpose to put into some harbour, if possible, every evening, as we were in no condition to keep those terrible seas long; for without other assistance, our stock of provisions was no more than might have been consumed in a few days; our water was chiefly contained in a few powder-barrels; our flour was to be lengthened out by a mixture of sea-weed; and our other[51] supplies depended upon the success of our guns, and industry among the rocks. Captain Pemberton having brought on board his men, we weighed; but a sudden squall of wind having split our foresail, we with difficulty cleared the rocks, by means of our boats, bore away for a sandy bay, on the south side of the Lagoon, and anchored in ten fathom. The next morning we got under way; but it blowing hard at W. by N. with a great swell, we put into a small bay again, well sheltered by a ledge of rocks without us. At this time, it was thought necessary to send the barge away back to Cheap's bay, for some spare canvass, which was imagined would be soon wanted. I thought this a good opportunity of returning, and therefore made one with those who went upon this business in the barge. We were no sooner clear of the long-boat, than all those in the boat with me declared they had the same intention. When we arrived at the island, we were extremely welcome to Captain Cheap. The next day, I asked him leave to[52] try if I could prevail upon those in the long-boat to give us our share of provision: this he granted; but said if we went in the barge, they would certainly take her from us. I told him my design was to walk it, and only desired the boat might land me upon the main, and wait for me till I came back. I had the most dreadful journey of it imaginable, through thick woods and swamps all the way; but I might as well have spared myself that trouble, as it was to no manner of purpose; for they would not give me, nor any one of us that left them, a single ounce of provisions of any kind. I therefore returned, and after that made a second attempt; but all in vain. They even threatened, if we did not return with the barge, they would fetch her by force. It is impossible to conceive the distressed situation we were now in, at the time of the long-boat's departure. I do not mention this event as the occasion of it; by which, if we who were left on the island experienced any alteration at all, it was for the better; and which, in all proba[53]bility, had it been deferred, might have been fatal to the greatest part of us; but at this time, the subsistence on which we had hitherto chiefly depended, which was the shell-fish, were every where along shore eat up; and as to stock saved from the wreck, it may be guessed what the amount of that might be, when the share allotted to the Captain, Lieutenant Hamilton, and the surgeon, was no more than six pieces of beef, as many of pork, and ninety pounds of flour. As to myself, and those that left the long-boat, it was the least revenge they thought they could take of us to withhold our provision from us, though at the same time it was hard and unjust. For a day or two after our return, there was some little pittance dealt out to us, yet it was upon the foot of favour; and we were soon left to our usual industry for a farther supply. This was now exerted to very little purpose, for the reason before assigned; to which may be added, the wreck was now blown up, all her upper works gone, and no hopes of any[54] valuable driftage from her for the future. A weed called slaugh, fried in the tallow of some candles we had saved, and wild cellery, were our only fare; by which our strength was so much impaired, that we could scarcely crawl. It was my misfortune too, to labour under a severe flux, by which I was reduced to a very feeble state; so that in attempting to traverse the rocks in search of shell-fish, I fell from one into very deep water, and with difficulty saved my life by swimming. As the Captain was now freed, by the departure of the long-boat, from the riotous applications, menaces, and disturbance of an unruly crew, and left at liberty to follow the plan he had resolved upon, of going northward, he began to think seriously of putting it in execution; in order to which, a message was sent to the deserters, who had seated themselves on the other side of the neighbouring Lagoon, to sound them, whether they were inclined to join the Captain in his undertaking; and if they were, to bring them over to him. For this set, the party[55] gone off in the long-boat had left an half allowance proportion of the common stock of provision. These men, upon the proposal, readily agreed to join their commander; and being conducted to him, increased our number to twenty. The boats which remained in our possession to carry off all these people, were only the barge and yawl, two very crazy bottoms; the broadside of the last was entirely out, and the first had suffered much in the variety of bad weather she had gone through, and was sadly out of repair. And now our carpenter was gone from us, we had no remedy for these misfortunes, but the little skill we had gained from him. However, we made tolerable shift to patch up the boats for our purpose. In the height of our distresses, when hunger, which seems to include and absorb all others, was most prevailing, we were cheered with the appearance, once more, of our friendly Indians, as we thought, from whom we hoped for some relief; but as the consideration was wanting, for which alone they would part with[56] their commodities, we were not at all benefitted by their stay, which was very short. The little reserve too of flour made by the Captain for our sea-stock when we should leave the island, was now diminished by theft: the thieves, who were three of our men, were however soon discovered, and two of them apprehended; but the third made his escape to the woods. Considering the pressing state of our necessities, this theft was looked upon as a most heinous crime, and therefore required an extraordinary punishment: accordingly the Captain ordered these delinquents to be severely whipped, and then to be banished to an island at some distance from us; but before this latter part of the sentence could be put in execution, one of them fled; but the other was put alone upon a barren island, which afforded not the least shelter; however, we, in compassion, and contrary to order, patched him up a bit of a hut, and kindled him a fire, and then left the poor wretch to shift for himself. In two or three days after, going to the island in our boat with some little refreshment, such[57] as our miserable circumstances would admit of, and with an intent of bringing him back, we found him dead and stiff. I was now reduced to the lowest condition by my illness, which was increased by the vile stuff I eat, when we were favoured by a fair day, a thing very extraordinary in this climate. We instantly took the advantage of it, and once more visited the last remains of the wreck,—her bottom. Here our pains were repaid with the great good fortune of hooking up three casks of beef, which were brought safe to shore. This providential supply could not have happened at a more seasonable time than now, when we were afflicted with the greatest dearth we had ever experienced, and the little strength we had remaining was to be exerted in our endeavours to leave the island. Accordingly we soon found a remedy for our sickness, which was nothing but the effects of famine, and were greatly restored by food. The provision was equally distributed among us all, and served us for the remainder of our stay here.


We began to grow extremely impatient to leave the island, as the days were now nearly at their longest, and about midsummer in these parts; but as to the weather, there seems to be little difference in a difference of seasons. Accordingly, on the 15th of December, the day being tolerable, we told Captain Cheap we thought it a fine opportunity to run across the bay. But he first desired two or three of us to accompany him to our place of observation, the top of Mount Misery; when looking through his perspective, he observed to us that the sea ran very high without. However, this had no weight with the people, who were desirous, at all events, to be gone. I should here observe, that Captain Cheap's plan was, if possible, to get to the island of Chiloe; and if we found any vessel there, to board her immediately, and cut her out. This he might certainly have done with ease, had it been his good fortune to get round with the boats. We now launched both boats, and got every thing on board of them as quick as possible. Captain Cheap, the surgeon,[59] and myself, were in the barge with nine men; and Lieutenant Hamilton and Mr. Campbell in the yawl with six. I steered the barge, and Mr. Campbell the yawl; but we had not been two hours at sea before the wind shifted more to the westward, and began to blow very hard, and the sea ran extremely high; so that we could no longer keep our heads towards the cape or headland we had designed for. This cape we had had a view of in one of the intervals of fair weather, during our abode on the island, from Mount Misery; and it seemed to be distant between twenty and thirty leagues from us. We were now obliged to bear away right before the wind. Though the yawl was not far from us, we could see nothing of her, except now and then, upon the top of a mountainous sea. In both the boats, the men were obliged to sit as close as possible, to receive the seas on their backs, to prevent their filling us, which was what we every moment expected. We were obliged to throw everything overboard, to lighten the boats, all our beef, and even the grapnel, to[60] prevent sinking. Night was coming on, and we were running on a lee-shore fast, where the sea broke in a frightful manner. Not one amongst us imagined it possible for boats to live in such a sea. In this situation, as we neared the shore, expecting to be beat to pieces by the first breaker, we perceived a small opening between the rocks, which we stood for, and found a very narrow passage between them, which brought us into a harbour for the boats as calm and smooth as a mill-pond. The yawl had got in before us, and our joy was great at meeting again after so unexpected a deliverance. Here we secured the boats, and ascended a rock. It rained excessively hard all the first part of the night, and was extremely cold; and though we had not a dry thread about us, and no wood could be found for firing, we were obliged to pass the night in that uncomfortable situation, without any covering, shivering in our wet clothes. The frost coming on with the morning, it was impossible for any of us to get a moment's sleep; and having flung overboard our provision the day[61] before, there being no prospect of finding anything to eat on this coast, in the morning we pulled out of the cove; but found so great a sea without, that we could make but little of it. After tugging all day, towards night we put in among some small islands, landed upon one of them, and found it a mere swamp. As the weather was the same, we passed this night much as we had done the preceding; sea-tangle was all we could get to eat at first, but the next day we had better luck; the surgeon shot a goose, and we found materials for a good fire. We were confined here three or four days, the weather all that time proving so bad that we could not put out. As soon as it grew moderate, we left this place, and shaped our course to the northward; and perceiving a large opening between very high land and a low point, we steered for it; and when got that length, found a large bay, down which we rowed, flattering ourselves there might be a passage that way; but towards night we came to the bottom of the bay, and finding no outlet, we were obliged to return the same[62] way we came, having met with nothing the whole day to alleviate our hunger.

Next night we put into a little cove, which, from the great quantity of red-wood found there, we called Redwood Cove. Leaving this place in the morning, we had the wind southerly, blowing fresh, by which we made much way that day, to the northward. Towards evening we were in with a pretty large island. Putting ashore on it, we found it clothed with the finest trees we had ever seen, their stems running up to a prodigious height, without knot or branch, and as straight as cedars: the leaf of these trees resemble the myrtle leaf, only somewhat larger. I have seen trees larger than these in circumference, on the coast of Guinea, and there only; but for a length of stem, which gradually tapering, I have no where met with any to compare to them. The wood was of a hard substance, and, if not too heavy, would have made good masts; the dimensions of some of these trees being equal to a main-mast of a first rate man-of-war. The shore was covered with drift[63]wood of a very large size; most of it cedar, which makes a brisk fire; but is so subject to snap and fly, that when we awoke in the morning, after a sound sleep, we found our clothes singed in many places with the sparks, and covered with splinters.

The next morning being calm, we rowed out; but as soon as clear of the island, we found a great swell from the westward; we rowed to the bottom of a very large bay, which was to the northward of us, the land very low, and we were in hopes of finding some inlet through, but did not; so kept along shore to the westward. This part, which I take to be above fifty leagues from Wager Island, is the very bottom of the large bay it lies in. Here was the only passage to be found, which (if we could by any means have got information of it) would have saved us much fruitless labour. Of this passage I shall have occasion to say more hereafter.

Having at this time an off-shore wind, we kept the land close on board, till we came to a head-land: it was near night before we got[64] abreast of the headland, and opening it discovered a very large bay to the northward, and another headland to the westward, at a great distance. We endeavoured to cut short our passage to it by crossing, which is very seldom to be effected, in these overgrown seas, by boats: and this we experienced now; for the wind springing up, and beginning to blow fresh, we were obliged to put back towards the first headland, into a small cove, just big enough to shelter the two boats. Here an accident happened that alarmed us much. After securing our boats, we climbed up a rock scarcely large enough to contain our numbers: having nothing to eat, we betook ourselves to our usual receipt for hunger, which was going to sleep. We accordingly made a fire, and stowed ourselves round it as well as we could; but two of our men being incommoded for want of room, went a little way from us, into a small nook, over which a great cliff hung, and served them for a canopy. In the middle of the night we were awakened with a terrible rumbling, which we[65] apprehended to be nothing less than the shock of an earthquake, which we had before experienced in these parts; and this conjecture we had reason to think not ill founded, upon hearing hollow groans and cries as of men half swallowed up. We immediately got up, and ran to the place from whence the cries came, and then we were put out of all doubt as to the opinion we had formed of this accident; for here we found the two men almost buried under loose stones and earth: but upon a little farther enquiry we were undeceived as to the cause we had imputed this noise to, which we found to be occasioned by the sudden giving way of the impending cliff, which fell a little beyond our people, carrying trees and rocks with it, and loose earth; the latter of which fell in part on our men, whom we with some pains rescued from their uneasy situation, from which they escaped with some bruises. The next morning we got out early, and the wind being westerly, rowed the whole day for the headland we had seen the night before; but when[66] we had got that length could find no harbour, but were obliged to go into a sandy bay, and lay the whole night upon our oars; and a most dreadful one it proved, blowing and raining very hard. Here we were so pinched with hunger, that we eat the shoes off our feet, which consisted of raw seal skin. In the morning we got out of the bay; but the incessant foul weather had overcome us, and we began to be indifferent as to what befel us; and the boats, in the night, making into a bay, we nearly lost the yawl, a breaker having filled her, and driven her ashore upon the beach. This, by some of our accounts, was Christmas-day; but our accounts had so often been interrupted by our distresses, that there was no depending upon them. Upon seeing the yawl in this imminent danger, the barge stood off, and went into another bay to the northward of it, where it was smoother lying; but there was no possibility of getting on shore. In the night the yawl joined us again. The next day was so bad, that we despaired reaching the head[67]land, so rowed down the bay in hopes of getting some seal, as that animal had been seen the day before, but met with no success; so returned to the same bay we had been in the night before, where the surf having abated somewhat, we went ashore, and picked up a few shell-fish. In the morning, we got on board early, and ran along shore to the westward, for about three leagues, in order to get round a cape, which was the westernmost land we could see. It blew very hard, and there ran such a sea, that we heartily wished ourselves back again, and accordingly made the best of our way for that bay which we had left in the morning; but before we could reach it night came on, and we passed a most dismal one, lying upon our oars.

The weather continuing very bad, we put in for the shore in the morning, where we found nothing but tangle and sea-weed. We now passed some days roving about for provisions, as the weather was too bad to make another attempt to get round the cape as yet. We[68] found some fine Lagoons towards the head of the bay; and in them killed some seal, and got a good quantity of shell-fish, which was a great relief to us. We now made a second attempt to double the cape; but when we got the length of it, and passed the first headland, for it consists of three of an equal height, we got into a sea that was horrid; for it ran all in heaps, like the Race of Portland, but much worse. We were happy to put back again to the old place, with little hopes of ever getting round this cape.

Next day, the weather proving very bad, all hands went ashore to procure some sustenance, except two in each boat, which were left as boat-keepers; this office we took by turns; and it was now my lot to be upon this duty with another man. The yawl lay within us at a grapnel; in the night it blew very hard, and a great sea tumbled in upon the shore; but being extremely fatigued, we in the boats went to sleep, notwithstanding, however, I was at last awakened by the uncommon motion of the boat,[69] and the roaring of the breakers every where about us. At the same time I heard a shrieking, like to that of persons in distress; I looked out, and saw the yawl canted bottom upwards by a sea, and soon afterwards disappeared. One of our men, whose name was William Rose, a quarter-master, was drowned; the other was thrown ashore by the surf, with his head buried in the sand; but by the immediate assistance of the people on shore, was saved. As for us in the barge, we expected the same fate every moment; for the sea broke a long way without us. However we got her head to it, and hove up our grapnel, or should rather say kellick, which we had made to serve in the room of our grapnel, hove overboard some time before, to lighten the boat. By this means we used our utmost efforts to pull her without the breakers some way, and then let go our kellick again. Here we lay all the next day, in a great sea, not knowing what would be our fate. To add to our mortification, we could see our companions in tolerable plight ashore, eating seal,[70] while we were starving with hunger and cold. For this month past, we had not known what it was to have a dry thread about us.

The next day being something more moderate, we ventured in with the barge, as near as we could to the shore, and our companions threw us some seal's liver; which having eat greedily, we were seized with excessive sickness, which affected us so much, that our skin peeled off from head to foot.

Whilst the people were on shore here, Mr. Hamilton met with a large seal, or sea-lion, and fired a brace of balls into him, upon which the animal turned upon him open-mouthed; but presently fixing his bayonet, he thrust it down its throat, with a good part of the barrel of the gun, which the creature bit in two seemingly with as much ease as if it had been a twig. Notwithstanding the wounds it received, it eluded all farther efforts to kill it, and got clear off.

I call this animal a large seal, or sea-lion, because it resembles a seal in many particulars;[71] but then it exceeds it so much in size, as to be sufficiently determined, by that distinction only, to be of another species. Mr. Walter, in Lord Anson's Voyage, has given a particular description of those which are seen about Juan Fernandes; but they have in other climates, different appearances as well as different qualities, as we had occasion to observe in this, and a late voyage I made. However, as so much already has been said of the sea-lion, I shall only mention two peculiarities; one relative to its appearance, and the other to its properties of action, which distinguish it from those described by him. Those I saw, were without that snout, or trunk, hanging below the end of the upper jaw; but then the males were furnished with a large shaggy mane, which gave them a most formidable appearance. And, whereas, he says, those he saw were unwieldy, and easily destroyed: we found some, on the contrary, that lay at a mile's distance from the water, which came down upon us, when disturbed, with such impetuosity, that it was as much as we could do to get out of their[72] way; and when attacked, would turn upon us with great agility.

Having lost the yawl, and being too many for the barge to carry off, we were compelled to leave four of our men behind. They were all marines, who seemed to have no objection to the determination made with regard to them, so exceedingly disheartened and worn out were they with the distresses and dangers they had already gone through. And, indeed, I believe it would have been a matter of indifference to the greatest part of the rest, whether they should embark, or take their chance. The captain distributed to these poor fellows arms and ammunition, and some other necessaries. When we parted, they stood upon the beach, giving us three cheers, and called out, God bless the king. We saw them a little after, setting out upon their forlorn hope, and helping one another over a hideous tract of rocks; but considering the difficulties attending this only way of travelling left them—for the woods are impracticable, from their thickness, and the deep swamp everywhere to be met in[73] them—considering too, that the coast here is rendered so inhospitable, by the heavy seas that are constantly tumbling upon it, as not to afford even a little shell-fish, it is probable that all met with a miserable end.

We rowed along shore to the westward, in order to make one more attempt to double the cape: when abreast of the first headland there ran such a sea, that we expected, every instant, the boat would go down. But as the preservation of life had now, in a great measure, lost its actuating principle upon us, we still kept pushing through it, till we opened a bay to the northward. In all my life, I never saw so dreadful a sea as drove in here; it began to break at more than half a mile from the shore. Perceiving now that it was impossible for any boat to get round, the men lay upon their oars till the boat was very near the breakers, the mountainous swell that then ran, heaving her in at a great rate. I thought it was their intention to put an end to their lives and misery at once; but nobody spoke for some time. At last, Captain[74] Cheap told them, they must either perish immediately, or pull stoutly for it to get off the shore; but they might do as they pleased. They chose, however, to exert themselves a little, and after infinite difficulty, got round the headland again, giving up all thoughts of making any further attempt to double the cape. It was night before we could get back to the bay, where we were compelled to leave four of our men, in order to save, if possible, the remainder; for we must all have certainly perished, if more than sixteen had been crowded into so small a boat. This bay we named Marine Bay. When we had returned to this bay, we found the surf ran so high, that we were obliged to lay upon our oars all night; and it was now resolved to go back to Wager's Island, there to linger out a miserable life, as we had not the least prospect of returning home.

But before we set out, in consequence of this resolution, it was necessary, if possible, to get some little stock of seal to support us in a passage, upon which, wherever we might put in, we were not likely to meet with any supply.[75] Accordingly, it was determined to go up that Lagoon in which we had before got some seal, to provide ourselves with some more; but we did not leave the bay till we had made some search after the unhappy marines we had left on shore. Could we have found them, we had now agreed to take them on board again, though it would have been the certain destruction of us all. This, at another time, would have been mere madness; but we were now resigned to our fate, which we none of us thought far off; however, there was nothing to be seen of them, and no traces but a musket on the beach.

Upon returning up the Lagoon, we were so fortunate as to kill some seal, which we boiled, and laid in the boat for sea-stock. While we were ranging along shore in detached parties in quest of this, and whatever other eatable might come in our way, our surgeon, who was then by himself, discovered a pretty large hole, which seemed to lead to some den, or repository, within the rocks. It was not so rude, or natural, but that there were some signs of its[76] having been cleared, and made more accessible by industry. The surgeon for some time hesitated whether he should venture in, from his uncertainty as to the reception he might meet with from any inhabitant; but his curiosity getting the better of his fears, he determined to go in; which he did upon his hands and knees, as the passage was too low for him to enter otherwise. After having proceeded a considerable way thus, he arrived at a spacious chamber; but whether hollowed out by hands, or natural, he could not be positive. The light into this chamber was conveyed through a hole at the top; in the midst was a kind of bier, made of sticks laid crossways, supported by props of about five foot in height. Upon this bier, five or six bodies were extended; which, in appearance, had been deposited there a long time, but had suffered no decay or diminution. They were without covering, and the flesh of these bodies was become perfectly dry and hard; which, whether done by any art, or secret, the savages may be possessed of,[77] or occasioned by any drying virtue in the air of the cave, could not be guessed. Indeed, the surgeon, finding nothing there to eat, which was the chief inducement for his creeping into this hole, did not amuse himself with long disquisitions, or make that accurate examination which he would have done at another time; but crawling out as he came in, he went and told the first he met of what he had seen. Some had the curiosity to go in likewise. I had forgot to mention that there was another range of bodies, deposited in the same manner, upon another platform under the bier. Probably this was the burial place of their great men, called caciques; but from whence they could be brought we were utterly at a loss to conceive, there being no traces of any Indian settlement hereabout. We had seen no savage since we left the island, or observed any marks in the coves, or bays to the northward, where we had touched,—such as of fire-places, or old wigwams, which they never fail of leaving behind them; and it is very probable, from the[78] violent seas that are always beating upon this coast, its deformed aspect, and the very swampy soil that every where borders upon it, that it is little frequented.

We now crossed the first bay for the headland we left on Christmas-day, much dejected; for under our former sufferings, we were in some measure supported with the hopes that, as we advanced, however little, they were so much the nearer the termination; but now our prospect was dismal and dispiriting, indeed, as we had the same difficulties and dangers to encounter, not only without any flattering views to lessen them, but under the aggravating circumstance of their leading to an inevitable and miserable death; for we could not possibly conceive that the fate of starving could be avoided by any human means, upon that desolate island we were returning to. The shell-fish, which was the only subsistence that island had hitherto afforded in any measure, was exhausted; and the Indians had shewn themselves so little[79] affected by the common incitements of compassion, that we had no hopes to build upon any impressions of that sort in them. They had already refused to barter their dogs with us, for want of a valuable commodity on our side; so that it is wonderful we did not give ourselves up to despondency, and lay aside all farther attempts; but we were supported by that invisible power, who can make the most untoward circumstances subservient to his gracious purposes.

At this time, our usual bad weather attended us; the night too set in long before we could reach the cove we before had taken shelter in; so that we were obliged to keep the boat's head to the sea all night, the sea every where a-stern of us, running over hideous breakers. In the morning, we designed standing over for that island in which we had observed those straight and lofty trees before mentioned, and which Captain Cheap named Montrose Island; but as soon as we opened the headland to the westward of us, a sudden squall took the boat,[80] and very near overset her. We were instantly full of water; but by baling with our hats and hands, and any thing that would hold water, we with difficulty freed her. Under this alarming circumstance, we found it advisable to return back and put into the cove, which the night before we were prevented getting into. We were detained here two or three days, by exceeding bad weather; so that, had we not fortunately provided ourselves with some seal, we must have starved, for this place afforded us nothing.

At length we reached Montrose Island. This is by much the best and pleasantest spot we had seen in this part of the world; though it has nothing on it eatable but some berries, which resembled gooseberries in flavour: they are of a black hue, and grow in swampy ground; and the bush or tree that bears them is much taller than that of our gooseberries. We remained here some time, living upon these berries, and the remainder of our seal, which was now grown quite rotten. Our two or three[81] first attempts to put out from this island were without success, the tempestuous weather obliging us so often to put back again. One of our people was much inclined to remain here, thinking it as least as good a place as Wager's Island to end his days upon; but he was obliged to go off with them. We had not been long out before it began to blow a storm of wind; and the mist came on so thick, that we could not see the land, and were at a loss which way to steer; but we heard the sea, which ran exceedingly high, breaking near us; upon which we immediately hauled aft the sheet, and hardly weathered the breakers by a boat's length. At the same time we shipped a sea that nearly filled us: it struck us with that violence, as to throw me, and one or two more, down into the bottom of the boat, where we were half drowned before we could get up again. This was one of the most extraordinary escapes we had in the course of this expedition; for Captain Cheap, and every one else, had entirely given themselves up for lost. However,[82] it pleased God that we got that evening into Redwood Cove, where the weather continued so bad all night, we could keep no fire in to dry ourselves with; but there being no other alternative for us, but to stay here and starve, or put to sea again, we chose the latter, and put out in the morning again, though the weather was very little mended. In three or four days after, we arrived at our old station, Wager's Island; but in such a miserable plight, that though we thought our condition upon setting out would not admit of any additional circumstance of misery, yet it was to be envied in comparison of what we now suffered, so worn and reduced were we by fatigue and hunger; having eat nothing for some days but sea-weed and tangle. Upon this expedition, we had been out, by our account, just two months; in which we had rounded, backwards and forwards, the great bay formed to the northward by that high land we had observed from Mount Misery.

The first thing we did upon our arrival, was[83] to secure the barge, as this was our sole dependence for any relief that might offer by sea; which done, we repaired to our huts, which formed a kind of village or street, consisting of several irregular habitations; some of which being covered by a kind of brush-wood thatch, afforded tolerable shelter against the inclemency of the weather. Among these, there was one which we observed with some surprise to be nailed up. We broke it open, and found some iron work, picked out with much pains from those pieces of the wreck which were driven ashore. We concluded from hence, that the Indians who had been here in our absence, were not of that tribe with which we had some commerce before, who seemed to set no value upon iron, but from some other quarter; and must have had communication with the Spaniards, from whom they had learned the value and use of that commodity. Thieving from strangers is a commendable talent among savages in general, and bespeaks an address which they much admire;[84] though the strictest honesty, with regard to the property of each other, is observed among them. There is no doubt but they ransacked all our houses; but the men had taken care, before they went off in the long-boat, to strip them of their most valuable furniture; that is, the bales of cloth used for lining, and converted them into trowsers and watch-coats. Upon farther search, we found, thrown aside in the bushes, at the back of one of the huts, some pieces of seal, in a very putrid condition; which, however, our stomachs were far from loathing. The next business, which the people set about very seriously, was to proceed to Mount Misery, and bury the corpse of the murdered person, mentioned to have been discovered there some little time after our being cast away; for to the neglect of this necessary tribute to that unfortunate person, the men assigned all their ill-success upon the late expedition.

That common people in general are addicted to superstitious conceits, is an observation[85] founded on experience; and the reason is evident: but I cannot allow that common seamen are more so than others of the lower class. In the most enlightened ages of antiquity, we find it to have been the popular opinion, that the spirits of the dead were not at rest till their bodies were interred; and that they did not cease to haunt and trouble those who had neglected this duty to the departed. This is still believed by the vulgar, in most countries; and in our men, this persuasion was much heightened by the melancholy condition they were reduced to; and was farther confirmed by an occurrence which happened some little time before we went upon our last expedition. One night we were alarmed with a strange cry, which resembled that of a man drowning. Many of us ran out of our huts towards the place from whence the noise proceeded, which was not far off shore; where we could perceive, but not distinctly (for it was then moonlight), an appearance like that of a man swimming half out of water. The noise that this creature uttered[86] was so unlike that of any animal they had heard before, that it made a great impression upon the men; and they frequently recalled this apparition at the time of their distresses, with reflections on the neglect of the office they were now fulfilling.

We were soon driven again to the greatest straits for want of something to subsist upon, by the extreme bad weather that now set in upon us. Wild celery was all we could procure, which raked our stomachs instead of assuaging our hunger. That dreadful and last resource of men, in not much worse circumstances than ours, of consigning one man to death for the support of the rest, began to be mentioned in whispers; and indeed there were some among us who, by eating what they found raw, were become little better than cannibals. But fortunately for us, and opportunely to prevent this horrid proceeding, Mr. Hamilton, at this time, found some rotten pieces of beef, cast up by the sea at some miles distance from the huts, which he, though a temptation which few would have[87] resisted in parallel circumstances, scorned to conceal from the rest; but generously distributed among us.

A few days after, the mystery of the nailing up of the hut, and what had been doing by the Indians upon the island in our absence, was partly explained to us; for about the fifteenth day after our return, there came a party of Indians to the island in two canoes, who were not a little surprised to find us here again. Among these, was an Indian of the tribe of the Chonos, who live in the neighbourhood of Chiloe.[4] He talked the Spanish language, but with that savage accent which renders it almost unintelligible to any but those who are adepts in that language. He was likewise a cacique, or leading man of his tribe; which authority was confirmed to him by the Spaniards; for he carried the usual badge and mark of distinction [88]by which the Spaniards, and their dependents, hold their military and civil employments, which is a stick with a silver head. These badges, of which the Indians are very vain, at once serve to retain the cacique in the strongest attachment to the Spanish government, and give him greater weight with his own dependents: yet, withal, he is the merest slave, and has not one thing he can call his own. This report of our shipwreck (as we supposed) having reached the Chonos, by means of the intermediate tribes, which handed it to one another, from those Indians who first visited us; this cacique was either sent to learn the truth of the rumour, or having first got the intelligence, set out with a view of making some advantage of the wreck, and appropriating such iron-work as he could gather from it to his own use: for that metal is become very valuable to those savages, since their commerce with the Spaniards has taught them to apply it to several purposes. But as the secreting any thing from a rapacious Spanish rey, or governor[89] (even an old rusty nail), by any of their Indian dependents, is a very dangerous offence, he was careful to conceal the little prize he had made, till he could conveniently carry it away; for in order to make friends of these savages, we had left their hoard untouched.

Our surgeon, Mr. Elliot, being master of a few Spanish words, made himself so far understood by the cacique as to let him know, that our intention was to reach some of the Spanish settlements, if we could; that we were unacquainted with the best and safest way, and what tract was most likely to afford us subsistence in our journey; promising, if he would undertake to conduct us in the barge, he should have it, and every thing in it, for his trouble, as soon as it had served our present occasions. To these conditions the cacique, after much persuasion, at length agreed. Accordingly, having made the best preparation we could, we embarked on board the barge to the number of fifteen, including the cacique, whose name was Martin, and his servant Emanuel. We were,[90] indeed, sixteen, when we returned from our last fruitless attempt to get off the island; but we had buried two since that, who perished with hunger; and a marine, having committed theft, run away to avoid the punishment his crime deserved, and hid himself in the woods; since which he was never heard of. We now put off, accompanied with the two Indian canoes; in one of which was a savage, with his two wives, who had an air of dignity superior to the rest, and was handsome in his person. He had his hut, during his stay with us, separate from the other Indians, who seemed to pay him extraordinary respect; but in two or three nights, these Indians, being independent of the Spaniards, and living somewhere to the southward of our Chono guide, left us to proceed on our journey by ourselves.

The first night we lay at an island destitute of all refreshment; where having found some shelter for our boat, and made ourselves a fire, we slept by it. The next night we were more unfortunate, though our wants were increasing;[91] for having run to the westward of Montross island, we found no shelter for the barge; but were under the necessity of lying upon our oars, suffering the most extreme pangs of hunger. The next day brought us to the bottom of a great bay, where the Indian guide had left his family, a wife and two children, in a hut. Here we staid two or three days, during which we were constantly employed in ranging along shore in quest of shell-fish.

We now again proceeded on our voyage, having received on board the family of our guide, who conducted us to a river, the stream of which was so rapid, that after our utmost efforts from morning to evening, we gained little upon the current, and at last were obliged to desist from our attempt and return. I had hitherto steered the boat; but one of our men sinking under the fatigue, expired soon after, which obliged me to take the oar in his room, and row against this heart-breaking stream. Whilst I was thus employed, one of our men whose name was John Bosman, though hitherto[92] the stoutest man among us, fell from his seat under the thwarts, complaining that his strength was quite exhausted for want of food, and that he should die very shortly. As he lay in this condition, he would every now and then break out in the most pathetic wishes for some little sustenance; that two or three mouthfuls might be the means of saving his life. The Captain, at this time, had a large piece of boiled seal by him, and was the only one that was provided with any thing like a meal; but we were become so hardened against the impressions of others' sufferings by our own; so familiarized to scenes of this, and every other kind of misery; that the poor man's dying entreaties were vain. I sat next to him when he dropped, and having a few dried shell-fish (about five or six) in my pocket, from time to time put one in his mouth, which served only to prolong his pains; from which, however, soon after my little supply failed, he was released by death. For this, and another man I mentioned a little before to have expired under the like circumstances, when we[93] returned from this unsuccessful enterprise, we made a grave in the sands.

It would have redounded greatly to the tenderness and humanity of Captain Cheap, if at this time he had remitted somewhat of that attention he shewed to self-preservation; which is hardly allowable but where the consequence of relieving others must be immediately and manifestly fatal to ourselves; but I would venture to affirm, that in these last affecting exigencies, as well as some others, a sparing perhaps adequate to the emergency, might have been admitted consistently with a due regard to his own necessities. The Captain had better opportunities for recruiting his stock than any of us; for his rank was considered by the Indian as a reason for supplying him when he would not find a bit for us. Upon the evening of the day in which these disasters happened, the Captain producing a large piece of boiled seal, suffered no one to partake with him but the surgeon, who was the only man in favour at this time. We did not expect, indeed, any[94] relief from him in our present condition; for we had a few small muscles and herbs to eat; but the men could not help expressing the greatest indignation at his neglect of the deceased; saying that he deserved to be deserted by the rest for his savage behaviour.

The endeavouring to pass up this river was for us, who had so long struggled with hunger, a most unseasonable attempt; by which we were harassed to a degree that threatened to be fatal to more of us; but our guide, without any respect to the condition our hardships had reduced us to, was very solicitous for us to go that way, which possibly he had gone before in light canoes; but for such a boat as ours was impracticable. We conceived, therefore, at that time, that this was some short cut, which was to bring us forward in our voyage; but we had reason to think afterwards, that the greater probability there was of his getting the barge, which was the wages of his undertaking, safe to his settlement by this, rather than another course, was his motive for preferring it[95] to the way we took afterwards, where there was a carrying place of considerable length, over which it would have been impossible to have carried our boat.

The country hereabouts wears the most uncouth, desolate, and rugged aspect imaginable; it is so circumstanced, as to discourage the most sanguine adventurers from attempts to settle it: were it for no other reason than the constant heavy rains, or rather torrents, which pour down here, and the vast sea and surf which the prevailing westerly winds impel upon this coast, it must be rendered inhospitable. All entrance into the woods is not only extremely difficult, but hazardous; not from any assaults you are likely to meet with from wild beasts; for even these could hardly find convenient harbour here; but from the deep swamp, which is the reigning soil of this country, and in which the woods may be said rather to float than grow; so that, except upon a range of deformed broken rocks which form the sea-coast, the traveller cannot find sound[96] footing any where. With this unpromising scene before us we were now setting out in search of food, which nothing but the most pressing instances of hunger could induce us to do: we had, indeed, the young Indian servant to our cacique for our conductor, who was left by him to shew us where the shell-fish was most plenty. The cacique was gone with the rest of his family, in the canoe, with a view of getting some seal, upon a trip which would detain him from us three or four days.

After searching the coast some time with very little success, we began to think of returning to the barge; but six of the men, with the Indian, having advanced some few paces before the officers, got into the boat first; which they had no sooner done than they put off, and left us, to return no more. And now all the difficulties we had hitherto endured, seemed light in comparison of what we expected to suffer from this treachery of our men, who, with the boat, had taken away every thing that might be the means of preserving our lives. The[97] little clothes we had saved from the wreck, our muskets and ammunition were gone, except a little powder, which must be preserved for kindling fires, and one gun, which I had, and was now become useless for want of ammunition; and all these wants were now come upon us at a time when we could not be worse situated for supplying them. Yet under these dismal and forlorn appearances was our delivery now preparing; and from these hopeless circumstances were we to draw hereafter an instance scarce to be paralleled, of the unsearchable ways of Providence. It was at that time little suspected by us, that the barge, in which we founded all our hopes of escaping from this savage coast, would certainly have proved the fatal cause of detaining us till we were consumed by the labour and hardships requisite to row her round the capes and great headlands; for it was impossible to carry her by land, as we did the boats of the Indians. At present, no condition could be worse that we thought ours to be: there ran at this time a very high sea,[98] which breaking with great fury upon this coast, made it very improbable that sustenance in any proportion to our wants could be found upon it; yet, unpromising as this prospect was, and though little succour could be expected from this quarter, I could not help, as I strolled along shore from the rest, casting my eyes towards the sea. Continuing thus to look out, I thought I saw something now and then upon the top of a sea that looked black, which upon observing still more intently, I imagined at last to be a canoe; but reflecting afterwards how unusual it was for Indians to venture out in so mountainous a sea, and at such a distance from the land, I concluded myself to be deceived. However, its nearer approach convinced me, beyond all doubt, of its being a canoe; but that it could not put in any where hereabouts, but intended for some other part of the coast. I ran back as fast as I could to my companions, and acquainted them with what I had seen. The despondency they were in would not allow them to give credit to it at first; but afterwards,[99] being convinced that it was as I reported it, we were all in the greatest hurry to strip off some of our rags to make a signal withal, which we fixed upon a long pole. This had the desired effect: the people in the canoe seeing the signal, made towards the land at about two mile distance from us; for no boat could approach the land where we were: there they put into a small cove, sheltered by a large ledge of rocks without, which broke the violence of the sea. Captain Cheap and I walked along shore, and got to the cove about the time they landed. Here we found the persons arrived in this canoe, to be our Indian guide and his wife, who had left us some days before. He would have asked us many questions; but neither Captain Cheap nor I understanding Spanish at that time, we took him along with us to the surgeon, whom we had left so ill that he could hardly raise himself from the ground. When the Indian began to confer with the surgeon, the first question was, What was become of the barge and his companion? and as he could give him[100] no satisfactory answer to this question, the Indian took it for granted that Emanuel was murdered by us, and that he and his family ran the same risk; upon which he was preparing to provide for his security, by leaving us directly. The surgeon seeing this, did all in his power to pacify him, and convince him of the unreasonableness of his apprehensions; which he at length found means to do, by assuring him that the Indian would come to no harm, but that he would soon see him return safe; which providentially, and beyond our expectation, happened accordingly; for in a few days after, Emanuel having contrived to make his escape from the people in the barge, returned by ways that were impassable to any creature but an Indian. All that we could learn from Emanuel relative to his escape was, that he took the first opportunity of leaving them; which was upon their putting into a bay somewhere to the westward.

We had but one gun among us, and that was a small fowling-piece of mine; no ammu[101]nition but a few charges of powder I had about me; and as the Indian was very desirous of returning to the place where he had left his wife and canoe, Captain Cheap desired I would go with him and watch over him all night, to prevent his getting away. Accordingly I set out with him; and when he and his family betook themselves to rest in the little wigwam they had made for that purpose, I kept my station as centinel over them all night.

The next morning Captain Cheap, Mr. Hamilton, and the surgeon, joined us: the latter, by illness, being reduced to the most feeble condition, was supported by Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Campbell. After holding some little consultation together, as to the best manner of proceeding in our journey, it was agreed, that the Indian should haul his canoe, with our assistance, over land, quite across the island we were then upon, and put her into a bay on the other side, from whence he was to go in quest of some other Indians, by whom he expected to be joined; but as his canoe was too small to[102] carry more than three or four persons, he thought it advisable to take only Captain Cheap and myself with him, and to leave his wife and children as pledges with our companions till his return.

As it was matter of uncertainty whether we should ever recover the barge or not, which was stipulated, on our side, to become the property of the cacique, upon his fulfilling his engagements with us; the inducements we now made use of to prevail upon him to proceed with us in our journey were, that he should have my fowling-piece, some little matters in the possession of Captain Cheap, and that we would use our interest to procure him some small pecuniary reward.

We were now to set off in the canoe, in which I was to assist him in rowing. Accordingly, putting from this island, we rowed hard all this day and the next, without any thing to eat but a scrap of seal, a very small portion of which fell to my share. About two hours after the close of the day, we put ashore, where we dis[103]covered six or seven wigwams. For my part, my strength was so exhausted with fatigue and hunger, that it would have been impossible for me to have held out another day at this toilsome work. As soon as we landed, the Indian conducted Captain Cheap with him into a wigwam; but I was left to shift for myself.

Thus left, I was for some time at a loss what I had best do; for knowing that in the variety of dispositions observable among the Indians, the surly and savage temper is the most prevalent, I had good reason to conclude, that if I obtruded myself upon them, my reception would be but indifferent. Necessity, however, put me upon the risk; I accordingly pushed into the next wigwam upon my hands and knees; for the entrance into these kind of buildings is too low to admit of any other manner of getting into them. To give a short description of these temporary houses, called wigwams, may not be improper here, for the satisfaction of those who never saw any; especially as they differ somewhat from those of[104] North America, which are more generally known from the numerous accounts of that country.

When the Indians of this part of the world have occasion to stop any where in their rambles, if it be only for a night or two, the men, who take this business upon them, while the women are employed in much more laborious offices, such as diving in the sea for sea-eggs, and searching the rocks for shell-fish, getting fuel, &c., repair to the woods, and cutting a sufficient number of tall, strait branches, fix them in an irregular kind of circle, of uncertain dimensions; which having done, they bend the extremities of these branches so as to meet in a centre at top, where they bind them by a kind of woodbine, called supple-jack, which they split by holding it in their teeth. This frame, or skeleton of a hut, is made tight against the weather with a covering of boughs and bark; but as the bark is not got without some trouble, they generally take it with them when they remove, putting it at the bottom of their canoes:[105] the rest of the wigwam they leave standing. The fire is made in the middle of the wigwam, round which they sit upon boughs; and as there is no vent for the smoke, besides the door-way, which is very low, except through some crevices, which cannot easily be stopped, they are not a little incommoded on that account; and the eyes of some of them are much affected by it.

But to return: in this wigwam, into which I took the liberty to introduce myself, I found only two women, who, upon first seeing a figure they were not accustomed to, and such a figure too as I then made, were struck with astonishment. They were sitting by a fire, to which I approached without any apology. However inclined I might have been to make one, my ignorance of their language made it impossible to attempt it. One of these women appeared to be young, and very handsome for an Indian; the other old, and as frightful as it is possible to conceive any thing in human shape to be. Having stared at me some little time, they both[106] went out; and I, without any farther ceremony, sat me down by the fire to warm myself, and dry the rags I wore. Yet I cannot say my situation was very easy, as I expected every instant to see two or three men come in and thrust me out, if they did not deal with me in a rougher manner.

Soon after the two women came in again, having, as I supposed, conferred with the Indian, our conductor; and appearing to be in great good-humour, began to chatter and laugh immoderately. Perceiving the wet and cold condition I was in, they seemed to have compassion on me, and the old woman went out and brought some wood, with which she made a good fire; but my hunger being impatient, I could not forbear expressing my desire that they would extend their hospitality a little further, and bring me something to eat. They soon comprehended my meaning, and the younger beginning to rummage under some pieces of bark that lay in the corner of the wigwam, produced a fine large fish: this they pre[107]sently put upon the fire to broil; and when it was just warm through, they made a sign for me to eat. They had no need to repeat the invitation; I fell to, and dispatched it in so short a time, that I was in hopes they would comprehend, without further tokens, that I was ready for another; but it was of no consequence, for their stock of eatables was entirely exhausted.

After sitting some time in conference together, in which conversation I could bear no part, the women made some signs to me to lay down and go to sleep, first having strewed some dry boughs upon the ground. I laid myself down, and soon fell fast asleep; and about three or four hours after awaking, I found myself covered with a bit of blanket, made of the down of birds, which the women usually wear about their waist. The young woman, who had carefully covered me, whilst sleeping, with her own blanket, was lying close by me: the old woman lay on the other side of her. The fire was low, and almost burnt out; but as soon as they[108] found me awake they renewed it, by putting on more fuel. What I had hitherto eat served only to sharpen my appetite; I could not help, therefore, being earnest with them to get me some more victuals. Having understood my necessities, they talked together some little time; after which getting up, they both went out, taking with them a couple of dogs, which they train to assist them in fishing. After an hour's absence, they came in trembling with cold, and their hair streaming with water, and brought two fish; which having broiled, they gave me the largest share; and then we all laid down as before to rest.

In the morning my curiosity led me to visit the neighbouring wigwams, in which were only one or two men; the rest of the inhabitants were all women and children. I then proceeded to enquire after Captain Cheap and our Indian guide, whom I found in the wigwam they at first occupied: the authority of the cacique had procured the Captain no despicable entertainment. We could not learn what business[109] the men, whose wives and children were here left behind, were gone out upon; but as they seldom or never go upon fishing-parties (for they have no hunting here) without their wives, who take the most laborious part of this pursuit upon themselves, it is probable they were gone upon some warlike expedition, in which they use bows and arrows sometimes, but always the lance. This weapon they throw with great dexterity and force, and never stir abroad without it. About this time their return was looked for; a hearing by no means pleasant to me; I was, therefore, determined to enjoy myself as long as they were absent, and make the most of the good fare I was possessed of; to the pleasure of which I thought a little cleanliness might in some measure contribute; I therefore went to a brook, and taking off my shirt, which might be said to be alive with vermin, set myself about to wash it; which having done as well as I could, and hung on a bush to dry, I heard a bustle about the wigwams; and soon perceived that the women were preparing to depart, having[110] stripped their wigwams of their bark covering, and carried it into their canoes. Putting on, therefore, my shirt just as it was, I hastened to join them, having a great desire of being present at one of their fishing parties.

It was my lot to be put into the canoe with my two patronesses, and some others who assisted in rowing; we were in all four canoes. After rowing some time, they gained such an offing as they required, where the water here was about eight or ten fathom deep, and there lay upon their oars. And now the youngest of the two women, taking a basket in her mouth, jumped overboard, and diving to the bottom, continued under water an amazing time: when she had filled the basket with sea-eggs, she came up to the boat-side; and delivering it so filled to the other women in the boat, they took out the contents, and returned it to her. The diver, then, after having taken a short time to breathe, went down and up again with the same success; and so several times for the space of[111] half an hour. It seems as if Providence had endued this people with a kind of amphibious nature, as the sea is the only source from whence almost all their subsistence is derived. This element too, being here very boisterous, and falling with a most heavy surf upon a rugged coast, very little, except some seal, is to be got any where but in the quiet bosom of the deep. What occasions this reflection is the early propensity I had so frequently observed in the children of these savages to this occupation; who, even at the age of three years, might be seen crawling upon their hands and knees among the rocks and breakers; from which they would tumble themselves into the sea without regard to the cold, which is here often intense; and showing no fear of the noise and roaring of the surf.

This sea-egg is a shell-fish, from which several prickles project in all directions, by means whereof it removes itself from place to place. In it are found four or five yolks, resem[112]bling the inner divisions of an orange, which are of a very nutritive quality, and excellent flavour.

The water was at this time extremely cold;[113] and when the divers got into the boats, they seemed greatly benumbed; and it is usual with them after this exercise, if they are near enough their wigwams, to run to the fire; to which presenting one side, they rub and chafe it for some time; then turning the other, use it in the same manner, till the circulation of the blood is restored. This practice, if it has no worse effect, must occasion their being more susceptible of the impressions of cold, than if they waited the gradual advances of their natural warmth in the open air. I leave it to the decision of the gentlemen of the faculty, whether this too hasty approach to the fire may not subject them to a disorder I observed among them, called the elephantiasis, or swelling of the legs.[5]

The divers having returned to their boats, we continued to row till towards evening, when we landed upon a low point. As soon as the canoes were hauled up, they employed themselves in erecting their wigwams, which they dispatch with great address and quickness. I still enjoyed the protection of my two good Indian women, who made me their guest here as before; they first regaled me with sea-eggs, and then went out upon another kind of fishery by the means of dogs and nets. These dogs [114]are a cur-like looking animal, but very sagacious, and easily trained to this business. Though in appearance an uncomfortable sort of sport, yet they engage in it readily, seem to enjoy it much, and express their eagerness by barking every time they raise their heads above the water to breathe. The net is held by two Indians, who get into the water; then the dogs, taking a large compass, dive after the fish, and drive them into the net; but it is only in particular places that the fish are taken in this manner. At the close of the evening, the women brought in two fish, which served us for supper; and then we reposed ourselves as before. Here we remained all the next day; and the morning after embarked again, and rowed till noon; then landing, we descried the canoes of the Indian men, who had been some time expected from an expedition they had been upon. This was soon to make a great alteration in the situation of my affairs, a presage of which I could read in the melancholy countenance of my young hostess. She endeavoured to express herself in very[115] earnest terms to me; but I had not yet acquired a competent knowledge of the Indian language to understand her.

As soon as the men were landed, she and the old Indian woman went up, not without some marks of dread upon them, to an elderly Indian man, whose remarkable surly and stern countenance was well calculated to raise such sensations in his dependents. He seemed to be a cacique, or chief man among them, by the airs of importance he assumed to himself, and the deference paid him by the rest. After some little conference passed between these Indians, and our cacique conductor, of which, most probably, the circumstances of our history, and the occasion of our coming here, might be the chief subject, for they fixed their eyes constantly upon us, they applied themselves to building their wigwams. I now understood that the two Indian women with whom I had sojourned, were wives to this chieftain, though one was young enough to be his daughter; and as far as I could learn, did really stand in the[116] different relations to him both of daughter and wife. It was easy to be perceived that all did not go well between them at this time: either that he was not satisfied with the answers that they returned him to his questions, or that he suspected some misconduct on their side; for presently after, breaking out into savage fury, he took the young one up in his arms, and threw her with violence against the stones; but his brutal resentment did not stop here, he beat her afterwards in a cruel manner. I could not see this treatment of my benefactress without the highest concern for her, and rage against the author of it; especially as the natural jealousy of these people gave occasion to think that it was on my account she suffered. I could hardly suppress the first emotions of my resentment, which prompted me to return him his barbarity in his own kind; but besides that this might have drawn upon her fresh marks of his severity, it was neither politic, nor indeed in my power, to have done it to any good purpose at this time.


Our cacique now made us understand that we must embark directly, in the same canoe which brought us, and return to our companions; and that the Indians we were about to leave, would join us in a few days, when we should all set out in a body, in order to proceed to the northward. In our way back, nothing very material happened; but upon our arrival, which was the next day, we found Mr. Elliot, the surgeon, in a very bad way; his illness had been continually increasing since we left him. Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Campbell were almost starved, having fared very ill since we left them: a few sea-eggs were all the subsistence they had lived upon; and these procured by the cacique's wife, in the manner I mentioned before. This woman was the very reverse of my hostess; and as she found her husband was of so much consequence to us, took upon her with much haughtiness, and treated us as dependents and slaves. He was not more engaging in his carriage towards us; he would give no part of what he had to spare[118] to any but Captain Cheap, whom his interest led him to prefer to the rest, though our wants were often greater. The captain, on his part, contributed to keep us in this abject situation, by approving this distinction the cacique showed to him. Had he treated us with not quite so much distance, the cacique might have been more regardful of our wants. The little regard and attention which our necessitous condition drew from Captain Cheap, may be imputed likewise, in some measure, to the effects of a mind soured by a series of crosses and disappointments; which, indeed, had operated on us all to a great neglect of each other, and sometimes of ourselves.

We were not suffered to be in the same wigwam with the cacique and his wife; which, if we had had any countenance from Captain Cheap, would not have been refused. What we had made for ourselves was in such a bungling manner, that it scarce deserved the name even of this wretched sort of habitation. But our untoward circumstances now found[119] some relief in the arrival of the Indians we waited for; who brought with them some seal, a small portion of which fell to our share. A night or two after they sent out some of their young men, who procured us a quantity of a very delicate kind of birds, called shags and cormorants. Their manner of taking these birds resembles something a sport called bat fowling. They find out their haunts among the rocks and cliffs in the night, when taking with them torches made of the bark of the birch tree, which is common here, and grows to a very large size, (this bark has a very unctuous quality, and emits a bright and clear light, and in the northern parts of America is used frequently instead of a candle,) they bring the boat's side as near as possible to the rocks, under the roosting-places of these birds; then waving their lights backwards and forwards, the birds are dazzled and confounded so as to fall into the canoe, where they are instantly knocked on the head with a short stick the Indians take with them for that purpose.


Seals are taken in some less frequented parts of these coasts, with great ease; but when their haunts have been two or three times disturbed, they soon learn to provide for their safety, by repairing to the water upon the first alarm. This is the case with them hereabouts; but as they frequently raise their heads above water, either to breathe or look about them, I have seen an Indian at this interval, throw his lance with such dexterity as to strike the animal through both its eyes, at a great distance; and it is very seldom that they miss their aim.

As we were wholly unacquainted with these methods of providing food for ourselves, and were without arms and ammunition, we were driven to the utmost straits; and found ourselves rather in worse condition than we had been at any time before. For the Indians having now nothing to fear from us, we found we had nothing to expect from them upon any other motive. Accordingly, if ever they did relieve us, it was through caprice; for at[121] most times they would shew themselves unconcerned at our greatest distresses. But the good Indian women, whose friendship I had experienced before, continued, from time to time, their good offices to me. Though I was not suffered to enter their wigwams, they would find opportunities of throwing in my way such scraps as they could secrete from their husbands. The obligation I was under to them on this account was great, as the hazard they ran in conferring these favours was little less than death. The men, unrestrained by any laws or ties of conscience, in the management of their own families, exercise a most despotic authority over their wives, whom they consider in the same view as any other part of their property, and dispose of them accordingly: even their common treatment of them is cruel; for though the toil and hazard of procuring food lies entirely upon the women, yet they are not suffered to touch any part of it till the husband is satisfied; and then he assigns them their portion, which is generally very scanty, and such as he[122] has not a stomach for himself. This arbitrary proceeding, with respect to their own families, is not peculiar to this people only. I have had occasion to observe it in more instances than this I have mentioned, among many other nations of savages I have since seen.

These Indians are of a middling stature, well set, and very active; and make their way among the rocks with an amazing agility. Their feet, by this kind of exercise, contract a callosity which renders the use of shoes quite unnecessary to them. But before I conclude the few observations I have to make on a people so confined in all their notions and habits, it may be expected I should say something of their religion; but as their gross ignorance is in nothing more conspicuous, and as we found it advisable to keep out of their way when the fits of devotion came upon them, which is rather frantic than religious, the reader can expect very little satisfaction on this head. Accident has sometimes made me unavoidably a spectator of scenes I should have chosen to have withdrawn[123] myself from; and so far I am instructed. As there are no fixed seasons for their religious exercises, the younger people wait till the elders find themselves devoutly disposed; who begin the ceremony by several deep and dismal groans, which rise gradually to a hideous kind of singing, from which they proceed to enthusiasm, and work themselves into a disposition that borders on madness; for suddenly jumping up, they snatch firebrands from the fire, put them in their mouths, and run about burning every body they come near: at other times, it is a custom with them to wound one another with sharp muscle-shells till they are besmeared with blood. These orgies continue till those who preside in them foam at the mouth, grow faint, are exhausted with fatigue, and dissolve in a profusion of sweat. When the men drop their part in this frenzy, the women take it up, acting over again much the same kind of wild scene, except that they rather outdo the men in shrieks and noise. Our cacique, who had been reclaimed from these[124] abominations by the Spaniards, and just knew the exterior form of crossing himself, pretended to be much offended at these profane ceremonies, and that he would have died sooner than have partaken of them. Among other expressions of disapprobation, he declared that whilst the savages solemnized these horrid rites, he never failed to hear strange and uncommon noises in the woods, and to see frightful visions; and assured us, that the devil was the chief actor among them upon these occasions.

It might be about the middle of March, that we embarked with these Indians. They separated our little company entirely, not putting any two of us together in the same canoe. The oar was my lot, as usual, as also Mr. Campbell's; Mr. Hamilton could not row, and Captain Cheap was out of the question; our surgeon was more dead than alive at the time, and lay at the bottom of the canoe he was in. The weather coming on too bad for their canoes to keep the sea, we landed again, without making great progress that day. Here Mr. Elliot, our[125] surgeon, died. At our first setting out, he promised the fairest for holding out, being a very strong, active young man: he had gone through an infinite deal of fatigue, as Mr. Hamilton and he were the best shots amongst us, and whilst our ammunition lasted never spared themselves, and in a great measure provided for the rest; but he died the death many others had done before him, being quite starved. We scraped a hole for him in the sand, and buried him in the best manner we could. Here I must relate a little anecdote of our Christian cacique. He and his wife had gone off, at some distance from the shore, in their canoe, when she dived for sea-eggs; but not meeting with great success, they returned a good deal out of humour. A little boy of theirs, about three years old, whom they appeared to be dotingly fond of, watching for his father and mother's return, ran into the surf to meet them: the father handed a basket of sea-eggs to the child, which being too heavy for him to carry, he let it fall; upon which the father jumped out of the canoe, and catching[126] the boy up in his arms, dashed him with the utmost violence against the stones. The poor little creature lay motionless and bleeding, and in that condition was taken up by the mother; but died soon after. She appeared inconsolable for some time; but the brute his father shewed little concern about it. A day or two after we put to sea again, and crossed the great bay I mentioned we had been to the bottom of, when we first hauled away to the westward. The land here was very low and sandy, with something like the mouth of a river which discharged itself into the sea; and which had been taken no notice of by us before, as it was so shallow that the Indians were obliged to take every thing out of their canoes, and carry it over the neck of land, and then haul the boats over into a river, which at this part of it was very broad, more resembling a lake than a river. We rowed up it for four or five leagues, and then took into a branch of it, that ran first to the eastward, and then to the northward: here it became much narrower, and the stream excessively[127] rapid, so that we made but little way, though we worked very hard. At night we landed upon its banks, and had a most uncomfortable lodging, it being a perfect swamp; and we had nothing to cover us, though it rained very hard. The Indians were little better off than we, as there was no wood here to make their wigwams; so that all they could do was to prop up the bark they carry in the bottom of their canoes with their oars, and shelter themselves as well as they could to leeward of it. They, knowing the difficulties that were to be encountered here, had provided themselves with some seal; but we had not the least morsel to eat, after the heavy fatigues of the day, excepting a sort of root we saw some of the Indians make use of, which was very disagreeable to the taste. We laboured all the next day against the stream, and fared as we had done the day before. The next day brought us to the carrying-place. Here was plenty of wood; but nothing to be got for sustenance. The first thing the Indians did was to take every thing out of their canoes;[128] and after hauling them ashore, they made their wigwams. We passed this night, as generally we had done, under a tree; but what we suffered at this time is not easily to be expressed. I had been three days at the oar without any kind of nourishment, but the wretched root I mentioned before. I had no shirt, as mine was rotted off by bits, and we were devoured by vermin. All my clothes consisted of an old short grieko, which is something like a bearskin, with a piece of a waistcoat under it, which once had been of red cloth, both which I had on when I was cast away; I had a ragged pair of trowsers, without either shoe or stocking. The first thing the Indians did in the morning was to take their canoes to pieces: and here, for the information of the reader, it will be necessary to describe the structure of these boats, which are extremely well calculated for the use of these Indians, as they are frequently obliged to carry them over land a long way together, through thick woods, to avoid doubling capes and headlands in seas[129] where no open boat could live. They generally consist of five pieces, or planks; one for the bottom, and two for each side; and as these people have no iron tools, the labour must be great in hacking a single plank out of a large tree with shells and flints, though with the help of fire. Along the edges of the plank they make small holes, at about an inch from one to the other, and sew them together with the supple-jack, or woodbine; but as these holes are not filled up by the substance of the woodbine, their boats would be immediately full of water if they had not a method of preventing it. They do this very effectually by the bark of a tree, which they first steep in water for some time, and then beat it between two stones till it answers the use of oakum, and then chinse each hole so well, that they do not admit of the least water coming through, and are easily taken asunder and put together again. When they have occasion to go over land, as at this time, each man or woman carries a plank; whereas it would be impossible for them to drag a heavy[130] boat entire. Every body had something to carry except Captain Cheap; and he was obliged to be assisted, or never would have got over this march; for a worse than this, I believe, never was made. He, with the others, set out some time before me. I waited for two Indians, who belonged to the canoe I came in; and who remained to carry over the last of the things from the side we were on. I had a piece of wet heavy canvas, which belonged to Captain Cheap, with a bit of stinking seal wrapped in it (which had been given him that morning by some of the Indians) to carry upon my head, which was a sufficient weight for a strong man in health, through such roads, and a grievous burthen to one in my condition. Our way was through a thick wood, the bottom of which was a mere quagmire, most part of it up to our knees, and often to our middle; and every now and then we had a large tree to get over, for they often lay directly in our road. Besides this, we were continually treading upon the stumps of trees, which were not to be avoided,[131] as they were covered with water; and having neither shoe nor stocking, my feet and legs were frequently torn and wounded. Before I had got half a mile, the two Indians had left me; and making the best of my way, lest they should be all gone before I got to the other side, I fell off a tree that crossed the road, into a very deep swamp, where I very narrowly escaped drowning, by the weight of the burthen I had on my head. It was a long while before I could extricate myself from this difficulty; and when I did my strength was quite exhausted. I sat down under a tree, and there gave way to melancholy reflections. However, as I was sensible these reflections would answer no end, they did not last long. I got up, and marking a great tree, I there deposited my load, not being able to carry it any farther, and set out to join my company. It was some hours before I reached my companions. I found them sitting under a tree, and sat myself down by them without speaking a word; nor did they speak to me, as I remember, for some time;[132] when Captain Cheap, breaking silence, began to ask after the seal and piece of canvas. I told him the disaster I had met with, which he might have easily guessed by the condition the rags I had on were in, as well as having my feet and ancles cut to pieces: but instead of compassion for my sufferings, I heard nothing but grumbling from every one, for the irreparable loss they had sustained by me. I made no answer; but after resting myself a little, I got up and struck into the wood, and walked back at least five miles to the tree I had marked, and returned just time enough to deliver it before my companions embarked, with the Indians, upon a great lake, the opposite part of which seemed to wash the foot of the Cordilleras. I wanted to embark with them; but was given to understand I was to wait for some other Indians that were to follow them. I knew not where these Indians were to come from: I was left alone upon the beach, and night was at hand. They left me not even a morsel of the stinking seal that I had suffered so much about.[133] I kept my eyes upon the boats as long as I could distinguish them; and then returned into the wood, and sat myself down upon the root of a tree, having eat nothing the whole day but the stem of a plant which resembles that of an artichoke, which is of a juicy consistence, and acid taste. Quite worn out with fatigue, I soon fell asleep; and awaking before day, I thought I heard some voices at no great distance from me. As the day appeared, looking further into the wood, I perceived a wigwam, and immediately made towards it; but the reception I met with was not at all agreeable; for stooping to get into it, I presently received two or three kicks in my face, and at the same time heard the sound of voices seemingly in anger; which made me retire, and wait at the foot of a tree, where I remained till an old woman peeped out, and made signs to me to draw near. I obeyed very readily, and went into the wigwam: in it were three men and two women; one young man seemed to have great respect shewn to him by the rest, though he was the most miserable[134] object I ever saw. He was a perfect skeleton, and covered with sores from head to foot. I was happy to sit a moment by their fire, as I was quite benumbed with cold. The old woman took out a piece of seal, holding one part of it between her feet, and the other end in her teeth, and then cut off some thin slices with a sharp shell, and distributed them about to the other Indians. She then put a bit on the fire, taking a piece of fat in her mouth, which she kept chewing, every now and then spirting some of it on the piece that was warming upon the fire; for they never do more with it than warm it through. When it was ready, she gave me a little bit, which I swallowed whole, being almost starved. As these Indians were all strangers to me, I did not know which way they were going; and indeed it was now become quite indifferent to me which way I went, whether to the northward or southward, so that they would but take me with them, and give me something to eat. However, to make them comprehend me, I pointed first to the[135] southward, and after to the lake, and I soon understood they were going to the northward. They all went out together, excepting the sick Indian, and took up the plank of the canoe, which lay near the wigwam, and carried it to the beach, and presently put it together; and getting every thing into it, they put me to the oar. We rowed across the lake to the mouth of a very rapid river, where we put ashore for that night, not daring to get any way down in the dark; as it required the greatest skill, even in the day, to avoid running foul of the stumps and roots of trees, of which this river was full. I passed a melancholy night, as they would not suffer me to come near the wigwam they had made; nor did they give me the least bit of any one thing to eat since we embarked. In the morning we set off again. The weather proved extremely bad the whole day. We went down the river at an amazing rate; and just before night they put ashore upon a stony beach. They hauled the canoe up, and all disappeared in a moment, and I was left quite[136] alone: it rained violently, and was very dark. I thought it was as well to lay down upon the beach, half side in water, as to get into a swamp under a dropping tree. In this dismal situation I fell asleep, and awaked three or four hours after in such agonies with the cramp, that I thought I must die upon the spot. I attempted several times to raise myself upon my legs, but could not. At last I made shift to get upon my knees, and looking towards the wood I saw a great fire at some distance from me. I was a long time crawling to it; and when I reached it, I threw myself almost into it, in hopes of finding some relief from the pain I suffered. This intrusion gave great offence to the Indians, who immediately got up, kicking and beating me till they drove me some distance from it; however I contrived a little after to place myself so as to receive some warmth from it, by which I got rid of the cramp. In the morning we left this place, and were soon after out of the river. Being now at sea again, the Indians intended putting ashore[137] at the first convenient place, to look for shell-fish, their stock of provisions having been quite exhausted for some time. At low water we landed upon a spot that seemed to promise well; and here we found plenty of limpets. Though at this time starving, I did not attempt to eat one, lest I should lose a moment in gathering them; not knowing how soon the Indians might be going again. I had almost filled my hat when I saw them returning to the canoe. I made what haste I could to her; for I believe they would have made no conscience of leaving me behind. I sat down to my oar again, placing my hat close to me, every now and then eating a limpet. The Indians were employed the same way, when one of them, seeing me throw the shells overboard, spoke to the rest in a violent passion; and getting up, fell upon me, and seizing me by an old ragged handkerchief I had about my neck, almost throttled me; whilst another took me by the legs, and was going to throw me overboard, if the old woman had not prevented them. I[138] was all this time entirely ignorant by what means I had given offence, till I observed that the Indians, after eating the limpets, carefully put the shells in a heap at the bottom of the canoe. I then concluded there was some superstition about throwing these shells into the sea, my ignorance of which had very nearly cost me my life. I was resolved to eat no more limpets till we landed, which we did some time after upon an island. I then took notice that the Indians brought all their shells ashore, and laid them above high water mark. Here, as I was going to eat a large bunch of berries I had gathered from a tree, for they looked very tempting, one of the Indians snatched them out of my hand and threw them away, making me to understand that they were poisonous. Thus, in all probability, did these people now save my life, who, a few hours before, were going to take it from me for throwing away a shell.

In two days after, I joined my companions again; but do not remember that there was the[139] least joy shewn on either side at meeting. At this place was a very large canoe belonging to our guide, which would have required at least six men to the oar to have made any kind of expedition: instead of that, there was only Campbell and myself, besides the Indian, his companion, or servant, to row, the cacique himself never touching an oar, but sitting with his wife all the time much at his ease. Mr. Hamilton continued in the same canoe he had been in all along, and which still was to keep us company some way further, though many of the others had left us. This was dreadful hard work to such poor starved wretches as we were, to be slaving at the oar all day long in such a heavy boat; and this inhuman fellow would never give us a scrap to eat, excepting when he took so much seal that he could not contrive to carry it all away with him, which happened very seldom. After working like galley-slaves all day, towards night, when we landed, instead of taking any rest, Mr. Campbell and I were sometimes obliged to go miles along shore to get a[140] few shell-fish; and just as we had made a little fire in order to dress them, he has commanded us into the boat again, and kept us rowing the whole night without ever landing. It is impossible for me to describe the miserable state we were reduced to: our bodies were so emaciated, that we hardly appeared the figures of men. It has often happened to me in the coldest night, both in hail and snow, where we had nothing but an open beach to lie down upon, in order to procure a little rest, that I have been obliged to pull off the few rags I had on, as it was impossible to get a moment's sleep with them on for the vermin that swarmed about them; though I used, as often as I had time, to take my clothes off, and putting them upon a large stone, beat them with another, in hopes of killing hundreds at once; for it was endless work to pick them off. What we suffered from this, was ten times worse even than hunger. But we were clean in comparison to Captain Cheap; for I could compare his body to nothing but an ant-hill, with thousands of those insects crawling over it; for[141] he was now past attempting to rid himself in the least from this torment, as he had quite lost himself, not recollecting our names that were about him, or even his own. His beard was as long as a hermit's: that and his face being covered with train-oil and dirt, from having long accustomed himself to sleep upon a bag, by the way of a pillow, in which he kept the pieces of stinking seal. This prudent method he took to prevent our getting at it whilst he slept. His legs were as big as mill-posts, though his body appeared nothing but skin and bone.

One day we fell in with about forty Indians, who came down to the beach we landed on, curiously painted. Our cacique seemed to understand but little of their language, and it sounded to us very different from what we had heard before. However, they made us comprehend that a ship had been upon the coast not far from where we then were, and that she had a red flag: this we understood some time after to have been the Anne pink, whose adventures are particularly related in Lord Anson's voyage;[142] and we passed through the very harbour she had lain in.

As there was but one small canoe that intended to accompany us any longer, and that in which Mr. Hamilton had been to this time, intended to proceed no farther to the northward, our cacique proposed to him to come into our canoe, which he refused, as the insolence of this fellow was to him insupportable; he therefore rather chose to remain where he was, till chance should throw in his way some other means of getting forward: so here we left him; and it was some months before we saw him again.

We now got on, by very slow degrees, to the northward; and as the difficulties and hardships we daily went through would only be a repetition of those already mentioned, I shall say no more, but that at last we reached an island, about thirty leagues to the southward of Chiloe. Here we remained two days for a favourable opportunity to cross the bay, the very thoughts of which seemed to frighten our[143] cacique out of his senses; and, indeed, there was great reason for his apprehensions; for there ran a most dreadful hollow sea, dangerous, indeed, for any open boat whatever, but a thousand times more for such a crazy vessel as we were in. He at length mustered up resolution enough to attempt it, first having crossed himself for an hour together, and made a kind of lug-sail out of the bits of blankets they wore about them, sewed together with split supple jacks. We then put off, and a terrible passage we had. The bottom plank of the canoe was split, which opened upon every sea; and the water continually rushing over the gunnel, I may say that we were in a manner full the whole way over, though all hands were employed in baling without ceasing a moment. As we drew near the shore, the cacique was eager to land, having been terrified to that degree with this run, that if it had not been for us, every soul must have perished; for he had very near got in amongst the breakers, where the sea drove with such violence upon[144] the rocks, that not even an Indian could have escaped, especially as it was in the night. We kept off till we got into smooth water, and landed upon the island of Chiloe; though in a part of it that was not inhabited. Here we staid all the next day, in a very heavy snow, to recover ourselves a little after our fatigue; but the cold was so excessive, having neither shoe nor stocking, we thought we should have lost our feet; and Captain Cheap was so ill, that if he had had but a few leagues further to have gone without relief, he could not have held out. It pleased God now that our sufferings, in a great measure, were drawing to an end.

What things our cacique had brought with him from the wreck, he here buried under ground, in order to conceal them from the Spaniards, who would not have left him a rusty nail if they had known of it. Towards evening, we set off again; and about nine the same night, to our great joy, we observed something that had the appearance of a house. It belonged to an acquaintance of our cacique; and as he[145] was possessed of my fowling-piece, and we had preserved about one charge of powder, he made us load it for him, and desired we would show him how to discharge it; upon which, standing up, and holding his head from it as far as possible, he fired, and fell back into the bottom of the canoe. The Indians belonging to the house, not in the least used to fire-arms, ran out and hid themselves in the woods. But after some time, one of them, bolder than the rest, got upon a hill, and hollowed to us, asking who and what we were. Our cacique now made himself known, and they presently came down to the boat, bringing with them some fish, and plenty of potatoes. This was the most comfortable meal we had made for many long months; and as soon as this was over, we rowed about two miles farther to a little village, where we landed. Here our cacique presently awoke all the inhabitants by the noise he made, and obliged one of them to open his door to us, and immediately to make a large fire; for the weather was very severe, this[146] being the month of June, the depth of winter in this part of the world. The Indians now flocked thick about us, and seemed to have great compassion for us, as our cacique related to them what part he knew of our history. They knew not what countrymen we were, nor could our guide inform them; for he had often asked us if we were French, Dutch, or English, the only nations he had ever heard of besides the Spaniards. We always answered we were from Grande Bretagne, which he could make nothing of; for we were afraid, if he knew us to be English, as he had heard that nation was at war with the Spaniards, he never would have conducted us to Chiloe.

These good-natured compassionate creatures seemed to vie with each other who should take the most care of us. They made a bed of sheepskins close to the fire, for Captain Cheap, and laid him upon it; and indeed, had it not been for the kind assistance he now met with, he could not have survived three days longer. Though it was now about midnight, they went[147] out and killed a sheep, of which they made broth, and baked a large cake of barley-meal. Any body may imagine what a treat this was to wretches who had not tasted a bit of bread, or any wholesome diet, for such a length of time. After we could eat no longer, we went to sleep about the fire, which the Indians took good care to keep up. In the morning, the women came from far and near, each bringing with her something. Almost every one had a pipkin in her hand, containing either fowls or mutton made into broth, potatoes, eggs, or other eatables. We fell to work as if we had eat nothing in the night, and employed ourselves so for the best part of the day. In the evening, the men filled our house, bringing with them some jars of a liquor they called chicha, made of barley-meal, and not very unlike our oat-ale in taste, which will intoxicate those who drink a sufficient quantity of it; for a little has no effect. As soon as the drink was out, a fresh supply of victuals was brought in; and in this manner we passed the whole time we remained with these hospitable[148] Indians. They are a strong well-made people, extremely well featured, both men and women, and vastly neat in their persons. The men's dress is called by them a puncho, which is a square piece of cloth, generally in stripes of different colours, with a slit in the middle of it wide enough to let their heads through, so that it hangs on their shoulders, half of it falling before, and the other behind them: under this they wear a short kind of flannel shirt without sleeves or neck. They have wide-knee'd breeches, something like the Dutch seamen, and on their legs a sort of knit buskins without any feet to them; but never any shoes. Their hair is always combed very smooth, and tied very tight up in a great bunch close to the neck: some wear a very neat hat of their own making, and others go without. The women wear a shift like the men's shirts, without sleeves; and over it a square piece of cloth, which they fasten before with a large silver pin, and a petticoat of different stripes: they take as much care of their hair as the men; and both have always a kind of fillet bound[149] very tight about the forehead, and made fast behind: in short, these people are as cleanly as the several savage nations we had met with before were beastly. Upon our first coming here, they had dispatched a messenger to the Spanish corregidore at Castro, a town a considerable distance from hence, to inform him of our arrival. At the end of three days, this man returned with an order to the chief caciques of these Indians we were amongst, to carry us directly to a certain place, where there would be a party of soldiers to receive us. These poor people now seemed to be under great concern for us, hearing by the messenger the preparations that were making to receive us; for they stand in vast dread of the Spanish soldiery. They were very desirous of knowing what countrymen we were. We told them we were English, and at that time at war with the Spaniards; upon which they appeared fonder of us than ever; and I verily believe, if they durst, would have concealed us amongst them, lest we should come to any harm. They are so[150] far from being in the Spanish interest, that they detest the very name of a Spaniard. And, indeed, I am not surprised at it; for they are kept under such subjection, and such a laborious slavery, by mere dint of hard usage and punishments, that it appears to me the most absurd thing in the world, that the Spaniards should rely upon these people for assistance upon any emergency. We embarked in the evening, and it was night before we got to the place where we were to be delivered up to the Spanish guard. We were met by three or four officers, and a number of soldiers, all with their spados drawn, who surrounded us as if they had the most formidable enemy to take charge of, instead of three poor helpless wretches, who, notwithstanding the good living we had met with amongst these kind Indians, could hardly support ourselves. They carried us to the top of a hill, and there put us under a shed; for it consisted of a thatched roof, without any sides or walls, being quite open; and here we were to lay upon the cold ground. All sorts of[151] people now came to stare at us as a sight; but the Indian women never came empty-handed; they always brought with them either fowls, mutton, or some kind of provision to us; so that we lived well enough. However, we found a very sensible difference between the treatment we had met with from the Indians, and what we now experienced from the Spaniards. With the former, we were quite at liberty to do as we pleased; but here, if we only went ten yards to attempt at getting rid of some of the vermin that devoured us, we had two soldiers, with drawn spados, to attend us. About the third day, a Jesuit from Castro came to see us; not from a motive of compassion, but from a report spread by our Indian cacique, that we had some things of great value about us. Having by chance seen Captain Cheap pull out a gold repeating watch, the first thing the good father did was to lug out of his pocket a bottle of brandy, and give us a dram, in order to open our hearts. He then came roundly to the point, asking us if we had saved no watches or[152] rings. Captain Cheap declared he had nothing, never suspecting that the Indian had seen his watch, having, as he thought, always taken great care to conceal it from him; but knowing that Campbel had a silver watch, which had been the property of our surgeon, he desired him to make it a present to the jesuit, telling him, at the same time, that as these people had great power and authority, it might be of service to us hereafter. This Campbel very unwillingly did, and received from the father, not long after, a pitiful present, not a quarter part of the value of the rim of the watch. We understood afterwards, that this had come to the governor's ears, who was highly offended at it, as thinking that if any thing of that sort had been to be had, it was his due; and did not spare the jesuits in the least upon the occasion. Soon after this, the officer of the guard informed us there was an order come to carry us to Castro. In the evening, we were conducted to the water-side, and put into a large periago; and there were several more, to[153] attend us, full of soldiers. About eight o'clock at night, we were off the town. The boats all laid upon their oars, and there was a great deal of ceremony used in hailing and asking for the keys, as if it had been a regular fortification. After some time, we landed; but could see neither gates nor walls, nor any thing that had the appearance of a garrison. As we walked up a steep hill into the town, the way was lined with men who had broomsticks upon their shoulders instead of muskets, and a lighted match in their hands. When we came to the corregidore's house, we found it full of people. He was an old man, very tall, with a long cloak on, a tie-wig without any curl, and a spado of immense length by his side. He received us in great state and form; but as we had no interpreter, we understood little or nothing of the questions he asked us. He ordered a table to be spread for us with cold ham and fowls; which we three only sat down to, and in a short time dispatched more than ten men with common appetites would have[154] done. It is amazing, that our eating to that excess we had done, from the time we first got amongst these kind Indians, had not killed us; we were never satisfied, and used to take all opportunities, for some months after, of filling our pockets when we were not seen, that we might get up two or three times in the night to cram ourselves. Captain Cheap used to declare, that he was quite ashamed of himself. After supper, the corregidore carried us to the jesuits' college, attended by the soldiers, and all the rabble of the town. This was intended, at present, for our prison, till orders were received from the governor, who resided at Chaco, above thirty leagues from this place. When we got to the college, the corregidore desired the father provincial, as they styled him, or head of the jesuits here, to find out what religion we were of, or whether we had any or not. He then retired, the gates were shut, and we were conducted to a cell. We found in it something like beds spread on the floor, and an old ragged shirt a-piece, but clean, which was[155] of infinite service to us; nor did eating at first give me half the satisfaction this treasure of an old shirt did. Though this college was large, there were but four jesuits in it, nor were there any more of that order upon the island. In the morning Captain Cheap was sent for by the father provincial: their conversation was carried on in Latin, perhaps not the best on either side; however, they made shift to understand one another. When he returned, he told us the good fathers were still harping upon what things of value we might have saved and concealed about us; and that if we had any thing of that sort, we could not do better than let them have it. Religion seemed to be quite out of the question at present; but a day or two after the corregidore being informed that we were heretics, he desired these jesuits would convert us; but one of them told him it was a mere joke to attempt it, as we could have no inducement upon that island to change our religion, but that when we got to Chili, in such a delightful country as[156] that was, where there was nothing but diversions and amusements, we should be converted fast enough. We kept close to our cell till the bell rang for dinner, when we were conducted into a hall, where there was one table for the fathers, and another for us. After a very long Latin prayer, we sat down and eat what was put before us, without a single word passing at either table. As soon as we had finished, there was another long prayer, which, however, did not appear so tedious as the first; and then we retired to our cell again. In this manner we passed eight days without ever stirring out; all which time one might have imagined one's-self out of the world; for excepting the bell for dinner, a silence reigned throughout the whole, as if the place had been uninhabited. A little before dark, on the eighth evening, we heard a violent knocking at the gate, which was no sooner opened than there entered a young officer booted and spurred, who acquainted the fathers that he was sent by the governor to conduct us to Chaco. This[157] young man was the governor's son; by which means he obtained a commission next in authority, upon this island, to his father. He ought to have been kept at school, for he was a vain, empty coxcomb, much disliked by the people of the island. After taking leave of the jesuits, who I imagined were not sorry to be rid of us, after finding their expectations balked, we set out, having about thirty soldiers on horseback to attend us. We rode about eight miles that night, when we came to an Estancia, or farm-house, belonging to an old lady who had two handsome daughters. Here we were very well entertained, and the good old lady seemed to have great compassion for us. She asked the governor's son if he thought his father would have any objection to my passing a month with her at her farm. As she was a person of rank in this island, he said he would acquaint his father with her request, and made no doubt but he would grant it. I observed our soldiers, when they came into the house, had none of them any shoes on, but wore buskins, like the[158] Indians, without any feet to them. They all had monstrous great spurs, some of silver and others of copper, which made a rattling when they walked like chains. They were all stout, strong-looking men, as the Spaniards, natives of the island, in general are. After a good supper, we had sheepskins laid near the fire for us to sleep on. Early in the morning we mounted again, and after riding some miles across the country, we came to the water-side, where we found several periagos waiting for us, with some officers in them. Most of the soldiers dismounted and embarked with us, a few only being sent round with the horses. It was three days before we arrived at Chaco, as the tides between this island and the main are so rapid that no boat can stem them. The same precaution was taken here as at Castro; we passed through a whole lane of soldiers, armed as I mentioned those to have been before, excepting a few, who really had matchlocks, the only fire-arms they have here. The soldiers, upon our journey, had given a pom[159]pous account of el Palacio del Rey, or the king's palace, as they styled the governor's house, and therefore we expected to see something very magnificent; but it was nothing better than a large thatched barn, partitioned off into several rooms. The governor was sitting at a large table covered with a piece of red serge, having all the principal officers about him. After some time he made us sit down, attempting to converse with us by his linguist, who was a stupid old fellow, that could neither talk English nor Spanish, but said he was born in England, had resided above forty years in that country, and having formerly been a buccaneer, was taken by the Spaniards near Panama. The governor kept us to supper, and then we were conducted across the court to our apartment, which was a place that had served to keep the fire wood for the governor's kitchen; however, as it was dry over head, we thought ourselves extremely well lodged. There was a soldier placed at the door with a drawn spado in his hand, to prevent our stirring out;[160] which was quite unnecessary, as we knew not where to go if we had been at liberty. One of these soldiers took a great fancy to my ragged grieko, which had still some thousands about it; and in exchange gave me an old puncho, the sort of garment with a hole in the middle to put one's head through, as above related to be worn by the Indians; and for the little bit of my waistcoat that remained, he gave me a pair of breeches. I now should have thought myself very handsomely equipped, if I had had but another shirt. The next day, about noon, the governor sent for us, and we dined at his table; after which we returned to our lodging, where we were never alone, for every body was curious to see us. We passed about a week in this manner, when the sentinel was taken off, and we were allowed to look about us a little, though not to go out of the palace, as they were pleased to call it. We dined every day with the governor; but were not very fond of his fast days, which succeeded each other too quickly. I contrived to make friends with his[161] steward and cook, by which means I always carried my pockets full to my apartment, where I passed my time very agreeably. Soon after, we had leave to walk about the town, or go wherever we pleased. Every house was open to us; and though it was but an hour after we had dined, they always spread a table, thinking we never could eat enough after what we had suffered; and we were much of the same opinion. They are, in general, a charitable, good sort of people, but very ignorant, and governed by their priests, who make them believe just what they please. The Indian language is chiefly spoken here, even by the Spaniards one amongst another; and they say they think it a finer language than their own. The women have fine complexions, and many of them are very handsome; they have good voices, and can strum a little upon the guitar; but they have an ugly custom of smoking tobacco, which is a very scarce commodity here; and therefore is looked upon as a great treat when they meet at one another's houses.[162] The lady of the house comes in with a large wooden pipe crammed with tobacco; and after taking two or three hearty whiffs, she holds her head under her cloak lest any of the smoke should escape, and then swallows it; some time after you see it coming out of her nose and ears. She then hands the pipe to the next lady, who does the same, till it has gone through the whole company. Their houses are but very mean, as will be easily imagined by what I have said of the governor's. They make their fire in the middle of their rooms, but have no chimneys; there is a small hole at each end of the roof to let the smoke out. It is only the better sort of people that eat bread made of wheat, as they grow but very little here, and they have no mills to grind it; but then they have great plenty of the finest potatoes in the world: these are always roasted in the ashes, then scraped, and served up at meals instead of bread. They breed abundance of swine, as they supply both Chili and Peru with hams. They are in no want of sheep,[163] but are not overstocked with cows; owing, in a great measure, to their own indolence in not clearing away the woods, which if they would be at the pains to do, they might have sufficient pasture. Their trade consists in hams, hogs-lard, which is used throughout all South America instead of butter; cedar plank, which the Indians are continually employed in cutting quite to the foot of the Cordilleras; little carved boxes, which the Spanish ladies use to put their work in; carpets, quilts, and punchos neatly embroidered all round; for these, both in Chili and Peru, are used by the people of the first fashion, as well as the inferior sort, by way of riding-dress, and are esteemed to be much more convenient for a horseman than any kind of coat whatever.

They have what they call an annual ship from Lima, as they never expect more than one in the year; though sometimes it happens that two have come, and at other times they have been two or three years without any. When this happens they are greatly distressed,[164] as this ship brings them baize, cloth, linens, hats, ribbons, tobacco, sugar, brandy, and wine; but this latter article is chiefly for the use of the churches: matte, an herb from Paraguay, used all over South America instead of tea, is also a necessary article. This ship's cargo is chiefly consigned to the jesuits, who have more Indians employed for them than all the rest of the inhabitants together, and of course engross almost the whole trade. There is no money current in this island. If any person wants a few yards of linen, a little sugar, tobacco, or any other thing brought from Peru, he gives so many cedar planks, hams, or punchos, in exchange. Some time after we had been here, a snow arrived in the harbour from Lima, which occasioned great joy amongst the inhabitants, as they had no ship the year before, from the alarm Lord Anson had given upon the coast. This was not the annual vessel, but one of those that I mentioned before which come unexpectedly. The captain of her was an old man, well known upon the[165] island, who had traded here once in two or three years, for more than thirty years past. He had a remarkable large head, and therefore was commonly known by a nick-name they had given him of Cabuço de Toro, or Bull's-head. He had not been here a week before he came to the governor, and told him, with a most melancholy countenance, that he had not slept a wink since he came into the harbour, as the governor was pleased to allow three English prisoners liberty to walk about instead of confining them; and that he expected every moment they would board his vessel, and carry her away: this he said when he had above thirty hands aboard. The governor assured him he would be answerable for us, and that he might sleep in quiet; though at the same time he could not help laughing at the man, as all the people in the town did. These assurances did not satisfy the captain: he used the utmost dispatch in disposing of his cargo, and put to sea again, not thinking himself safe till he had lost sight of the island. It was about three[166] months after us that Mr. Hamilton was brought in by a party that the governor had sent to the southward on purpose to fetch him. He was in a wretched condition upon his first arrival, but soon recovered with the good living he found here.

It is usual for the governor to make a tour, every year, through the several districts belonging to his government: on this occasion he took us with him. The first place he visited was Carelmapo, on the main; and from thence to Castro. At these places he holds a kind of court; all the chief caciques meeting him, and informing him of what has passed since his last visit, and receiving fresh orders for the year to come. At Castro we had the same liberty we enjoyed at Chaco, and visited every body. It seemed they had forgot all the ceremony used upon our first landing here, which was with an intent to make us believe it was strongly fortified; for now they let us see plainly that they had neither fort nor gun. At Chaco they had a little earthen fort, with a small ditch palisa[167]doed round it, and a few old honey-combed guns without carriages, and which do not defend the harbour in the least. Whilst we were at Castro, the old lady, (at whose house we lay the first night upon leaving the jesuits' college) sent to the governor, and begged I might be allowed to come to her for a few weeks: this was granted; and accordingly I went and passed about three weeks with her very happily, as she seemed to be as fond of me as if I had been her own son. She was very unwilling to part with me again; but as the governor was soon to return to Chaco, he sent for me, and I left my benefactress with regret.

Amongst the houses we visited at Castro, there was one belonging to an old priest, who was esteemed one of the richest persons upon the island. He had a niece, of whom he was extremely fond, and who was to inherit all he possessed. He had taken a great deal of pains with her education, and she was reckoned one of the most accomplished young ladies of Chiloe. Her person was good, though she could not be[168] called a regular beauty. This young lady did me the honour to take more notice of me than I deserved, and proposed to her uncle to convert me, and afterwards begged his consent to marry me. As the old man doted upon her, he readily agreed to it; and accordingly on the next visit I made him, acquainted me with the young lady's proposal, and his approbation of it, taking me at the same time into a room where there were several chests and boxes, which he unlocked; first shewing me what a number of fine clothes his niece had, and then his own wardrobe, which he said should be mine at his death. Amongst other things, he produced a piece of linen, which he said should immediately be made up into shirts for me. I own this last article was a great temptation to me; however, I had the resolution to withstand it, and made the best excuses I could for not accepting of the honour they intended me; for by this time I could speak Spanish well enough to make myself understood.

Amongst the Indians who had come to meet[169] the governor here, there were some caciques of those Indians who had treated us so kindly at our first landing upon Chiloe. One of these, a young man, had been guilty of some offence, and was put in irons, and threatened to be more severely punished. We could not learn his crime, or whether the governor did not do it in a great measure to shew us his power over these Indian chiefs: however, we were under great concern for this young man, who had been extremely kind to us, and begged Captain Cheap to intercede with the governor for him. This he did, and the cacique was released; the governor acquainting him at the same time, with great warmth, that it was to us only he owed it, or otherwise he would have made a severe example of him. The young man seemed to have been in no dread of farther punishment, as I believe he felt all a man could do from the indignity of being put in irons in the public square, before all his brother caciques and many hundreds of other Indians. I thought this was not a very politic step of the governor, as the[170] cacique came after to Captain Cheap to thank him for his goodness, and in all probability would remember the English for some time after; and not only he, but all the other caciques who had been witnesses of it, and who seemed to feel, if possible, even more than the young man himself did. We now returned to Chaco, and the governor told me, when the annual ship came, which they expected in December, we should be sent in her to Chili. We felt several earthquakes while we were here. One day as I happened to be upon a visit at a house where I was very well acquainted, an Indian came in, who lived at many leagues distance from this town, and who had made this journey in order to purchase some little trifles he wanted; amongst other things, he had bought some prints of saints. Very proud of these, he produced them, and put them into the hands of the women, who very devoutly first crossed themselves with them, and afterwards kissed them; then gave them to me, saying at the same time, they supposed such a heretic as I was would[171] refuse to kiss them. They were right in their conjectures: I returned them to the Indian without going through that ceremony. At that very instant, there happened a violent shock of an earthquake, which they imputed entirely to the anger of the saints; and all quitted the house as fast as they could, lest it should fall upon their heads. For my part, I made the best of my way home for fear of being knocked on the head, when out of the house, by the rabble, who looked on me as the cause of all this mischief, and did not return to that house again till I thought this affair was forgotten.

Here is a very good harbour; but the entrance is very dangerous for those who are unacquainted with it, as the tides are so extremely rapid, and there are sunken rocks in the mid-channel. The island is above seventy leagues round; and the body of it lies in about 40° 20' south, and is the most southern settlement the Spaniards have in these seas. Their summer is of no long duration, and most of the year round they have hard gales of wind and much rain.[172] Opposite the island, upon the Cordilleras, there is a volcano, which, at times, burns with great fury, and is subject to violent eruptions. One of these alarmed the whole island, whilst we were here: it sounded in the night like great guns. In the morning, the governor mounted his horse, and rode backwards and forwards from his house to the earthen fort, saying it was the English coming in, but that he would give them a warm reception; meaning, I suppose, that he would have left them a good fire in his house; for I am certain he would soon have been in the woods, if he had seen any thing like an English ship coming in.

Women of the first fashion here seldom wear shoes or stockings in the house, but only keep them to wear upon particular occasions. I have often seen them coming to the church, which stood opposite to the governor's house, barelegged, walking through mud and water; and at the church door put on their shoes and stockings, and pull them off again when they came out. Though they are in general hand[173]some, and have good complexions, yet many of them paint in so ridiculous a manner, that it is impossible to help laughing in their faces when you see them. The governor we found here was a native of Chili. The government, which is appointed by that presidency, is for three years; which appears to be a long banishment to them, as their appointments are but small, though they make the most of it. The towns of Castro and Chaco, consist only of scattered houses, without a regular street; though both have their places or squares, as almost all Spanish towns have. Chaco is very thinly inhabited, excepting at the time the Lima ship arrives; then they flock thither from all parts of the island, to purchase what little matters they want; and as soon as that is done, retire to their estancias, or farms. It was about the middle of December this ship came in; and the second of January, 1742-3, we embarked on board of her. She was bound to Valparaiso. We got out to sea with some difficulty, having been driven by the strength of the tide very[174] near those sunken rocks mentioned before. We found a great sea without; and as the ship was as deep as any laden collier, her decks were continually well washed. She was a fine vessel, of about two hundred and fifty tons. The timber the ships of this country are built of is excellent, as they last a prodigious time; for they assured us that the vessel we were then in had been built above forty years. The captain was a Spaniard, and knew not the least of sea affairs; the second captain, or master, the boatswain, and his mate, were all three Frenchmen, and very good seamen; the pilot was a Mulatto, and all the rest of the crew were Indians and Negroes. The latter were all slaves and stout fellows; but never suffered to go aloft, lest they should fall overboard, and the owners lose so much money by it. The Indians were active, brisk men, and very good seamen for that climate. We had on board the head of the jesuits as passenger. He and Captain Cheap were admitted into the great cabin, and messed with the captain and his chaplain. As for us, we were obliged to rough it[175] the whole passage; that is, when we were tired we lay down upon the quarter-deck, in the open air, and slept as well as we could; but that was nothing to us, who had been used to fare so much worse. We lived well, eating with the master and boatswain, who always had their meals upon the quarter-deck, and drank brandy at them as we do small beer; and all the rest of the day were smoking cigars.

The fifth day we made the land four or five leagues to the southward of Valparaiso; and soon after falling calm, a great western swell hurried us in very fast towards the shore. We dropped the lead several times, but had such deep water we could not anchor. They were all much alarmed, when the jesuit came out of the cabin for the first time, having been sea-sick the whole passage. As soon as he was informed of the danger, he went back into the cabin, and brought out the image of some saint, which he desired might be hung up in the mizen-shrouds; which being done, he kept threatening it, that if we had not a breeze of wind soon, he would[176] certainly throw it overboard. Soon after, we had a little wind from off the land, when the jesuit carried the image back with an air of great triumph, saying he was certain that we should not be without wind long, though he had given himself over for lost some time before it came. Next morning we anchored in the port of Valparaiso. In that part which is opposite to the fort, ships lay so near the land, that they have generally three anchors ashore, as there is eight or ten fathom close to; and the flaws come off the hills with such violence, that if it was not for this method of securing them, they would be blown out. This is only in summer time, for in the winter months no ships ever attempt to come in here; the northerly winds then prevail, and drive in such a sea that they must soon be ashore. The Spanish captain waited upon the governor of the fort, and informed him that he had four English prisoners on board. We were ordered ashore in the afternoon, and were received as we got upon the beach, by a file of soldiers, with their[177] bayonets fixed, who surrounded us, and then marched up to the fort, attended by a numerous mob. We were carried before the governor, whose house was full of officers. He was blind, asked a few questions, and then spoke of nothing but the strength of the garrison he commanded, and desired to know if we had observed that all the lower battery was brass guns. We were immediately after, by his order, put into the condemned hole. There was nothing but four bare walls, excepting a heap of lime that filled one third of it, and made the place swarm with fleas in such a manner that we were presently covered with them. Some of Admiral Pizarro's soldiers were here in garrison that had been landed from his ships at Buenos Ayres, as he could not get round Cape Horn. A centinel's box was placed at our door, and we had always a soldier with his bayonet fixed, to prevent our stirring out. The curiosity of the people was such, that our prison was continually full from morning till night, by which the soldiers made a pretty[178] penny, as they took money from every person for the sight. In a few days, Captain Cheap and Mr. Hamilton were ordered up to St. Jago, as they were known to be officers by having saved their commissions; but Mr. Campbell and I were to continue in prison. Captain Cheap expressed great concern when he left us; he told me it was what he had all along dreaded, that they would separate us when we got into this country; but he assured me, if he was permitted to speak to the president, that he would never leave soliciting him till he obtained a grant for me to be sent up to him. No sooner were they gone than we fared very badly. A common soldier, who was ordered to provide for us by the governor, brought us each, once a day, a few potatoes mixed with hot water. The other soldiers of the garrison, as well as the people who flocked to see us, took notice of it, and told the soldier it was cruel to treat us in that manner. His answer was, "The governor allows me but half a real a day for each of these men; what can I do?[179] It is he that is to blame: I am shocked every time I bring them this scanty pittance, though even that could not be provided for the money he gives them." We from this time lived much better, and the soldier brought us even wine and fruit. We took it for granted, that our case had been represented to the governor, and that he had increased our pay. As to the first, we were right in our conjectures; it had been mentioned to him, that it was impossible we could subsist on what he allowed; and his answer to it was, that we might starve; for we should have no more from him, and that he believed he should never be repaid even that. This charitable speech of the governor was made known every where, and now almost every one who came to see us gave us something; even the mule-drivers would take out their tobacco pouch, in which they kept their money, and give us half a real. All this we would have given to our soldier, but he never would receive a farthing from us, telling us we might still want it; and the whole time we were[180] there, which was some weeks, he laid aside half his daily pay to supply us, though he had a wife and six children, and never could have the least hope or expectation of any recompence. However, two years after this, I had the singular pleasure of making him some return, when my circumstances were much better than his. One night, when we were locked up, there happened a dreadful shock of an earthquake. We expected, every moment, the roof and walls of our prison to fall in upon us, and crush us to pieces; and what added to the horror of it was, the noise of chains and imprecations in the next prison which joined to ours, where there were near seventy felons heavily loaded with irons, who are kept here to work upon the fortifications, as in other countries they are condemned to the gallies. A few days after this, we were told an order was come from the president to the governor to send us up to St. Jago, which is ninety miles from Valparaiso, and is the capital of Chili. There were at this time several ships in the port from[181] Lima delivering their cargoes; so that almost every day there were large droves of mules going up to St. Jago with the goods. The governor sent for one of the master-carriers, and ordered him to take us up with him. The man asked him how he was to be paid our expences, as he should be five days upon the road. The governor told him he might get that as he could, for he would not advance him a single farthing. After taking leave of our friendly soldier, who even now brought us some little matters to carry with us, we set out, and travelled about fourteen miles the first day, and lay at night in the open field, which is always the custom of these people, stopping where there is plenty of pasture and good water for the mules. The next morning we passed over a high mountain, called Zapata; and then crossing a large plain, we passed another mountain, very difficult for the mules, who each carried two heavy bales: there were above a hundred of them in this drove. The mules of Chili are the finest in the world; and though[182] they are continually upon the road, and have nothing but what they pick up at nights, they are as fat and sleek as high-fed horses in England. The fourth night we lay upon a plain in sight of St. Jago, and not above four leagues from it. The next day, as we moved towards the city, our master-carrier, who was naturally well disposed, and had been very kind to us all the way upon the road, advised me, very seriously, not to think of remaining in St. Jago, where he said there was nothing but extravagance, vice, and folly, but to proceed on with them as mule-driver, which, he said, I should soon be very expert at; and that they led an innocent and happy life, far preferable to any enjoyment such a great city as that before us could afford. I thanked him, and told him I was very much obliged to him; but that I would try the city first, and if I did not like it, I would accept of the offer he was so good to make me. The thing that gave him this high opinion of me was, that as he had been so civil to us, I was very officious in assist[183]ing to drive in those mules that strayed from the rest upon those large plains we passed over; and this I thought was the least I could do towards making some returns for the obligations we were under to him.

When we got into St. Jago, the carrier delivered us to the captain of the guard, at the palace gate; and he soon after introduced us to the president, Don Joseph Manso, who received us very civilly, and then sent us to the house where Captain Cheap and Mr. Hamilton were. We found them extremely well lodged at the house of a Scotch physician, whose name was Don Patricio Gedd. This gentleman had been a long time in this city, and was greatly esteemed by the Spaniards, as well for his abilities in his profession, as his humane disposition. He no sooner heard that there were four English prisoners arrived in that country, than he waited upon the president, and begged they might be lodged at his house. This was granted; and had we been his own brothers, we could not have met with a more friendly[184] reception; and during two years that we were with him, his constant study was to make every thing as agreeable to us as possible. We were greatly distressed to think of the expence he was at upon our account; but it was in vain for us to argue with him about it. In short, to sum up his character in a few words, there never was a man of more extensive humanity. Two or three days after our arrival, the president sent Mr. Campbell and me an invitation to dine with him, where we were to meet Admiral Pizarro and his officers. This was a cruel stroke upon us, as we had not any clothes fit to appear in, and dared not refuse the invitation. The next day, a Spanish officer belonging to Admiral Pizarro's squadron, whose name was Don Manuel de Guiror, came and made us an offer of two thousand dollars. This generous Spaniard made this offer without any view of ever being repaid, but purely out of a compassionate motive of relieving us in our present distress. We returned him all the acknowledgments his uncommon generous behaviour[185] merited, and accepted of six hundred dollars only, upon his receiving our draught for that sum upon the English consul at Lisbon. We now got ourselves decently clothed after the Spanish fashion; and as we were upon our parole, we went out where we pleased to divert ourselves.

This city is situated about 33 degrees and 30 minutes, south latitude, at the west foot of the immense chain of mountains called the Cordilleras. It stands on a most beautiful plain of about thirty leagues extent. It was founded by Don Pedro de Baldivia, the conqueror of Chili. The plan of it was marked out by him in squares, like Lima; and almost every house belonging to people of any fashion, has a large court before it, with great gates, and a garden behind. There is a little rivulet, neatly faced with stone, runs through every street; by which they can cool the streets, or water their gardens, when they please. The whole town is extremely well paved. Their gardens are full of noble orange-trees and floripondies, with all sorts of[186] flowers, which perfume the houses, and even the whole city. Much about the middle of it, is the great square, called the Plaça Real, or the Royal Square; there are eight avenues leading into it. The west side contains the cathedral and the bishop's palace; the north side is the president's palace, the royal court, the council house, and the prison; the south side is a row of piazzas, the whole length of which are shops, and over it a gallery to see the bull-feasts; the east side has some large houses belonging to people of distinction; and in the middle is a large fountain, with a brass bason. The houses have, in general, only a ground floor, upon account of the frequent earthquakes; but they make a handsome appearance. The churches are rich in gilding as well as in plate: that of the jesuits is reckoned an exceeding good piece of architecture; but it is too high built for a country so subject to earthquakes, and where it has frequently happened that thousands of people have been swallowed up at once. There is a hill, or rather high rock, at the east end[187] of the city, called St. Lucia, from the top of which you have a view of all the city, and the country about for many leagues, affording a very delightful landscape. Their estancias, or country houses, are very pleasant, having generally a fine grove of olive trees, with large vineyards to them. The Chili wine, in my opinion, is full as good as Madeira, and made in such quantities that it is sold extremely cheap. The soil of this country is so fertile, that the husbandmen have very little trouble; for they do but in a manner scratch up the ground, and without any kind of manure it yields an hundred fold. Without doubt the wheat of Chili is the finest in the world, and the fruits are all excellent in their kinds. Beef and mutton are so cheap, that you may have a good cow for three dollars, and a fat sheep for two shillings. Their horses are extraordinary good; and though some of them go at a great price, you may have a very good one for four dollars, or about eighteen shillings of our money. It must be a very poor Indian who has not his four or five[188] horses; and there are no better horsemen in the world than the Chileans; and that is not surprising, for they never choose to go a hundred yards on foot. They have always their laço fixed to their saddle: the laço is a long thong of leather, at the end of which they make a sliding noose. It is of more general use to them than any weapon whatever; for with this they are sure of catching either horse or wild bull, upon full gallop, by any foot they please. Their horses are all trained to this, and the moment they find the thong straitened, as the other end is always made fast to the saddle, the horse immediately turns short, and throwing the beast thus caught, the huntsman wounds or secures him in what manner he may think proper. These people are so dexterous, that they will take from the ground a glove or handkerchief, while their horse is upon full stretch; and I have seen them jump upon the back of the wildest bull, and all the efforts of the beast could not throw them. This country produces all sorts of metals; it is famous for[189] gold, silver, iron, tin, lead, and quicksilver, but some of these they do not understand working, especially quicksilver. With copper they supply all Peru, and send, likewise, a great deal to Europe. The climate of Chili is, I believe, the finest in the world. What they call their winter does not last three months; and even that is very moderate, as may be imagined by their manner of building, for they have no chimneys in their houses. All the rest of the year is delightful; for though from ten or eleven in the morning till five in the afternoon, it is very hot, yet the evenings and mornings are very cool and pleasant; and in the hottest time of the year, it is from six in the evening till two or three in the morning, that the people of this country meet to divert themselves with music and other entertainments, at which there is plenty of cooling liquors, as they are well supplied with ice from the neighbouring Cordilleras. At these assemblies, many intrigues are carried on; for they think of nothing else throughout the year.[190] Their fandangoes are very agreeable; the women dance inimitably well, and very gracefully. They are all born with an ear for music, and most of them have delightful voices; and all play upon the guitar and harp. The latter, at first, appears a very aukward instrument for a woman; yet that prejudice is soon got over, and they far excel any other nation upon it. They are extremely complaisant and polite; and when asked either to play, dance, or sing, they do it without a moment's hesitation, and that with an exceeding good grace. They have many figure-dances; but what they take most delight in, are more like our hornpipes than any thing else I can compare them to; and upon these occasions they shew surprising activity. The women are remarkably handsome, and very extravagant in their dress. Their hair, which is as thick as is possible to be conceived, they wear of a vast length, without any other ornament upon the head than a few flowers; they plait it behind in four plaits, and twist them round a bodkin, at each end of[191] which is a diamond rose. Their shifts are all over lace, as is a little tight waistcoat they wear over them. Their petticoats are open before, and lap over, and have commonly three rows of very rich lace of gold or silver. In winter they have an upper waistcoat of cloth of gold or silver; and in summer, of the finest linen, covered all over with the finest Flanders lace. The sleeves of these are immensely wide. Over all this, when the air is cool, they have a mantle, which is only of bays, of the finest colours, round which there is abundance of lace. When they go abroad, they wear a veil, which is so contrived that one eye is only seen. Their feet are very small, and they value themselves as much upon it as the Chinese do. Their shoes are pinked and cut; their stockings silk, with gold and silver clocks; and they love to have the end of an embroidered garter hang a little below the petticoat. They have fine sparkling eyes, ready wit, a great deal of good nature, and a strong disposition to gallantry.

By the description of one house you have an[192] idea of all the rest. You first come into a large court, on one side of which is the stable: you then enter a hall; on one side of that is a large room, about twenty feet wide, and near forty feet long; the side next the window is the estrado, which runs the whole length of the room. The estrado is a platform, raised about five or six inches above the floor, and is covered with carpets and velvet cushions for the women to sit on, which they do after the Moorish fashion, cross-legged. The chairs for the men are covered with printed leather. At the end of the estrado, there is an alcove, where the bed stands; and there is always a vast deal of the sheets hanging out, with a profusion of lace to them, and the same on the pillows. They have a false door to the alcove, which sometimes is very convenient. Besides, there are generally two other rooms, one within another; and the kitchen and other offices are detached from the house, either at one side or the end of the garden.

The ladies are fond of having their Mulatto female slaves dressed almost as well as them[193]selves in every respect, excepting jewels, in which they indulge themselves to the utmost extravagance. Paraguay tea, which they call Matte, as I mentioned before, is always drunk twice a-day: this is brought upon a large silver salver, with four legs raised upon it, to receive a little cup made out of a small calabash, or gourd, and tipped with silver. They put the herb first into this, and add what sugar they please, and a little orange juice; and then pour hot water on them, and drink it immediately, through the conveyance of a long silver tube, at the end of which there is a round strainer, to prevent the herb getting through. And here it is reckoned a piece of politeness for the lady to suck the tube two or three times first, and then give it the stranger to drink without wiping it.

They eat every thing so highly seasoned with red pepper, that those who are not used to it, upon the first mouthful would imagine their throats on fire for an hour afterwards; and it is a common custom here, though you have the greatest plenty at your own table, to have two or[194] three Mulatto girls come in at the time you dine, bringing, in a little silver plate, some of these high-seasoned ragouts, with a compliment from Donna such-a-one, who desires you will eat a little bit of what she has sent you; which must be done before her Mulatto's face, or it would be deemed a great affront. Had this been the fashion at Chiloe, we should never have offended; but sometimes here we could have wished this ceremony omitted.

The president never asked any of us a second time to his table. He expected us once a fortnight to be at his levee, which we never failed; and he always received us very politely. He was a man of a very amiable character, and much respected by every body in Chili, and some time after we left that country, was appointed viceroy of Peru.

We had leave, whenever we asked it, to make an excursion into the country for ten or twelve days at a time; which we did sometimes to a very pleasant spot belonging to Don Joseph Dunose, a French gentleman, and a very sensi[195]ble, well-bred man, who had married a very agreeable lady at St. Jago, with a very good fortune. We also sometimes had invitations from the Spaniards to their country-houses. We had a numerous acquaintance in the city, and in general received many civilities from the inhabitants. There are a great many people of fashion, and very good families from Old Spain settled here. A lady lived next door to us, whose name was Donna Francisca Giron; and as my name sounded something like it, she would have it that we were Parientes. She had a daughter, a very fine young woman, who both played and sung remarkably well: she was reckoned the finest voice in St. Jago. They saw a great deal of company, and we were welcome to her house whenever we pleased. We were a long time in this country, but we passed it very agreeably. The president alone goes with four horses to his coach; but the common vehicle here is a calash, or kind of vis-à-vis, drawn by one mule only. Bull-feasts are a common diversion here, and they far surpass anything of that[196] kind I ever saw at Lisbon, or any where else. Indeed, it is amazing to see the activity and dexterity of those who attack the bulls. It is always done here by those only who follow it as a trade, for it is too dangerous to be practised as a diversion; as a proof of which, it is found that though some may hold out longer than others, there are few who constantly practice it, that die a natural death. The bulls are always the wildest that can be brought in from the mountains or forests, and have nothing on their horns to prevent their piercing a man the first stroke, as they have at Lisbon. I have seen a man, when the bull came at him with the utmost fury, spring directly over the beast's head, and perform this feat several times, and at last jump on his back, and there sit a considerable time, the bull the whole time attempting every means to throw him. But though this practitioner was successful, several accidents happened while I was there. The ladies, at these feasts, are always dressed as fine as possible; and, I imagine, go rather to be admired than to receive any amusement from a[197] sight that one should think would give them pain. Another amusement for the ladies here, are the nights of their great processions, when they go out veiled; and as in that dress they cannot be known, they amuse themselves in talking to people much in the manner that is done at our masquerades. One night in Lent, as I was standing close to the houses as the procession went by, and having nothing but a thin waistcoat on under my cloak, and happening to have my arm out, a lady came by, and gave me a pinch with so good a will, that I thought she had taken the piece out; and, indeed, I carried the marks for a long time after. I durst not take the least notice of this at the time; for had I made any disturbance, I should have been knocked on the head. This kind lady immediately after mixed with the crowd, and I never could find out who had done me that favour. I have seen fifty or sixty penitents following these processions; they wear a long white garment with a long train to it, and high caps of the same, which fall down before, and cover all their[198] faces, having only two small holes for their eyes; so that they are never known. Their backs are bare, and they lash themselves with a cat-o'-nine-tails till the long train behind is covered all over with blood. Others follow them with great heavy crosses upon their backs; so that they groan under the weight as they walk barefooted, and often faint away. The streets swarm with friars of all the different orders. The president has always a guard at his palace regularly clothed. The rest of their forces consists of militia, who are numerous.

All European goods are very dear. English cloth, of fourteen or fifteen shillings a yard, sells there for ten or eleven dollars; and every other article in proportion. We found many Spaniards here that had been taken by Commodore Anson, and had been for some time prisoners on board the Centurion. They all spoke in the highest terms of the kind treatment they had received; and it is natural to imagine, that it was chiefly owing to that laudable example of humanity, our reception here was so good. They[199] had never had anything but privateers and buccaneers amongst them before, who handled their prisoners very roughly; so that the Spaniards in general, both of Peru and Chili, had the greatest dread of being taken by the English; but some of them told us, that they were so happy on board the Centurion, that they should not have been sorry if the Commodore had taken them with him to England. After we had been here some time, Mr. Campbell changed his religion, and of course left us. At the end of two years, the president sent for us, and informed us a French ship from Lima, bound to Spain, had put into Valparaiso, and that we should embark in her. After taking leave of our good friend Mr. Gedd, and all our acquaintance at St. Jago, we set out for Valparaiso, mules and a guide being provided for us. I had forgot to say before, that Captain Cheap had been allowed by the president six reals a day, and we had four for our maintenance the whole time we were at St. Jago, which money we took up as we wanted it. Our journey back was much pleasanter than we[200] found it when we were first brought hither, as we had now no mules to drive. The first person I met, upon our entrance into Valparaiso, was the poor soldier whom I mentioned to have been so kind to us when we were imprisoned in the fort. I now made him a little present, which, as it came quite unexpected, made him very happy. We took lodgings till the ship was ready to sail, and diverted ourselves as we pleased, having the good fortune, at this time, to have nothing to do with the governor or his fort. The town is but a poor little place; there are, indeed, a good many storehouses built by the water side for the reception of goods from the shipping.

About the 20th of December, 1744, we embarked on board the Lys frigate, belonging to St. Malo. She was a ship of four hundred and twenty tons, sixteen guns, and sixty men. She had several passengers on board; and amongst the rest, Don George Juan, a man of very superior abilities, (and since that time well known in England) who, with Don Antonio Ulloa, had[201] been several years in Peru, upon a design of measuring some degrees of the meridian near the equator. We were now bound to Conception, in order to join three other French ships that were likewise bound home. As this was a time of the year when the southerly winds prevail upon this coast, we stood off a long way to the westward, making the island of Juan Fernandez. We did not get into the bay of Conception till the 6th of January, 1745, where we anchored at Talcaguana, and there found the Louis Erasme, the Marquis d'Antin, and the Delivrance, the three French ships that we were to accompany. It is but sixty leagues from Valparaiso to Conception, though we had been so long making this passage; but there is no beating up, near the shore, against the southerly wind, which is the trade at this season, as you are sure to have a lee-current; so that the quickest way of making a passage is to stand off a hundred and twenty or thirty leagues from the land.

The bay of Conception is a large, fine bay; but there are several shoals in it, and only two[202] good anchoring-places, though a ship may anchor within a quarter of a league of the town; but this only in the very fine months, as you lay much exposed. The best anchoring-place is Talcaguana, the southernmost neck of the bay, in five or six fathom water, good holding ground, and where you are sheltered from the northerly winds. The town has no other defence than a low battery, which only commands the anchoring-place before it. The country is extremely pleasant, and affords the greatest plenty of provisions of all kinds. In some excursions we made daily from Talcaguana, we saw great numbers of very large snakes; but we were told they were quite harmless. I have read some former accounts of Chili, by the jesuits, wherein they tell you that no venomous creature is to be found in it, and that they even made the experiment of bringing bugs here, which died immediately; but I never was in any place that swarmed with them so much as St. Jago; and they have a large spider there, whose bite is so venomous, that I have[203] seen from it some of the most shocking sights I ever saw in my life; and it certainly proves mortal if proper remedies are not applied in time. I was once bit by one on the cheek, whilst asleep, and, presently after, all that part of my face turned as black as ink. I was cured by the application of a bluish kind of stone (the same, perhaps, they call the serpent-stone in the East Indies, and which is a composition). The stone stuck, for some time, of itself on my face, and dropping off, was put into milk till it had digested the poison it had extracted, and then applied again till the pain abated, and I was soon afterwards well. Whilst the ships remained at Conception, the people were employed in killing cattle and salting them for the voyage; and every ship took on board as many bullocks and sheep as their decks could well hold; and having completed their business here, they sailed the 27th of January; but about eight days after our ship sprung a very dangerous leak forward; but so low, that there was no possibility of stopping it without return[204]ing into port, and lightening her till they could come at it. Accordingly we separated from the other ships, and made the best of our way for Valparaiso, keeping all hands at the pump night and day, passengers and all. However, as it happened, this proved a lucky circumstance for the Lys, as the three other ships were taken; and this certainly would have been her fate likewise, had she kept company with the rest. As soon as we got into port, they lightened the ship forwards, and brought her by the stern till they came at the leak, which was soon stopped. They made all the dispatch possible in completing the water again. Whilst at Valparaiso, we had one of the most violent shocks of an earthquake that we had ever felt yet. On the first of March we put to sea again, the season being already far advanced for passing Cape Horn. The next day we went to an allowance of a quart of water a day for each man, which continued the whole passage. We were obliged to stand a long way to the westward; and went to the northward of[205] Juan Fernandez above a degree, before we had a wind that we could make any southing with. On the 25th, in the latitude of 46 degrees, we met with a violent hard gale at west, which obliged us to lie to under a reefed mainsail for some days; and before we got round the Cape, we had many very hard gales, with a prodigious sea and constant thick snow; and after being so long in so delightful a climate as Chili, the cold was almost insupportable. After doubling the Cape, we got but slowly to the northward; and, indeed, at the best of times, the ship never went above six knots; for she was a heavy-going thing. On the 27th of May we crossed the line; when finding that our water was grown extremely short, and that it would be almost impossible to reach Europe without a supply, it was resolved to bear away for Martinico. On the 29th of June, in the morning, we made the Island of Tobago, and then shaped a course for Martinico; and on the first of July, by our reckonings, expected to see it, but were disappointed. This was imputed to the[206] currents, which, whether they had set the ship to the eastward or westward, nobody could tell; but upon looking over the charts, it was imagined, if the current had driven her to the westward, it must have been among the Granadillos, which was thought impossible without seeing any of them, as they are so near together, and a most dangerous place for rocks. It was then concluded we were to the eastward, and accordingly we steered S.W. by W., but having run this course for above thirty leagues, and no land appearing, it was resolved to stand to the northward till we should gain the latitude of Porto Rico, and on the 4th in the evening we made that island; so that it was now certain the ship had been hustled through the Granadillos in the night, which was, without doubt, as extraordinary a passage as ever ship made. It was now resolved to go between the islands of Porto Rico and St. Domingo for Cape François, therefore we lay to that night. In the morning, we made sail along shore; and about ten o'clock, as I was walking the quarter-deck,[207] Captain Cheap came out of the cabin, and told me he had just seen a beef-barrel go by the ship; that he was sure it had but lately been thrown overboard, and that he would venture any wager we saw an English cruizer before long. In about half an hour after we saw two sail to leeward, from off the quarter-deck; for they kept no look out from the mast-head, and we presently observed they were in chace of us. The French and Spaniards on board now began to grow a good deal alarmed, when it fell stark calm; but not before the ships had neared us so much, that we plainly discerned them to be English men of war; the one a two-decker, the other a twenty-gun ship. The French had now thoughts, when a breeze should spring up, of running the ship on shore upon Porto Rico, but when they came to consider what a set of banditti inhabited that island, and that in all probability they would have their throats cut for the sake of plundering the wreck, they were resolved to take their chance, and stand to the northward between the two islands. In the[208] evening, a fresh breeze sprung up, and we shaped a course accordingly. The two ships had it presently afterwards, and neared us amazingly fast. Now every body on board gave themselves up; the officers were busy in their cabins, filling their pockets with what was most valuable; the men put on their best clothes, and many of them came to me with little lumps of gold, desiring I would take them, as they said they had much rather I should benefit by them, whom they were acquainted with, than those that chased them. I told them there was time enough, though I thought they were as surely taken as if the English had been already on board. A fine moonlight night came on, and we expected every moment to see the ships along-side of us; but we saw nothing of them in the night, and, to our great astonishment, in the morning no ships were to be seen even from the mast-head. Thus did these two cruizers lose one of the richest prizes, by not chasing an hour or two longer. There were near two millions of dol[209]lars on board, besides a valuable cargo. On the eighth, at six in the morning, we were off Cape La Grange; and, what is very remarkable, the French at Cape François told us afterwards that was the only day they ever remembered, since the war, that the Cape had been without one or two English privateers cruising off it; and but the evening before, two of them had taken two outward bound St. Domingo men, and had gone with them for Jamaica; so that this ship might be justly esteemed a most lucky one. In the afternoon we came to an anchor in Cape François harbour.

In this long run we had not buried a single man; nor do I remember that there was one sick the whole passage; but at this place many were taken ill, and three or four died; for there is no part of the West Indies more unhealthy than this; yet the country is beautiful, and extremely well cultivated. After being here some time, the governor ordered us to wait upon him, which we did; when he took no more notice of us than if we had[210] been his slaves, never asking us even to sit down.

Towards the end of August, a French squadron of five men of war came in, commanded by Monsieur L'Etanducre, who were to convoy the trade to France. Neither he nor his officers ever took any kind of notice of Captain Cheap, though we met them every day ashore. One evening, as we were going aboard with the captain of our ship, a midshipman belonging to Monsieur L'Etanducre, jumped into our boat, and ordered the people to carry him on board the ship he belonged to, leaving us to wait upon the beach for two hours before the boat returned. On the sixth of September we put to sea, in company with the five men of war, and about fifty sail of merchant-men. On the eighth we made the Cayco Grande; and the next day a Jamaica privateer, a large fine sloop, hove in sight, keeping a little to windward of the convoy, resolving to pick up one or two of them in the night, if possible. This obliged Monsieur L'Etanducre to send a frigate to speak to all the[211] convoy, and order them to keep close to him in the night; which they did, and in such a manner, that sometimes seven or eight of them were on board one another together; by which they received much damage; and to repair which, the whole squadron was obliged to lay to sometimes for a whole day. The privateer kept her station, jogging on with the fleet. At last, the commodore ordered two of his best-going ships to chase her. She appeared to take no notice of them till they were pretty near her, and then would make sail and be out of sight presently. The chasing ships no sooner returned, than the privateer was in company again. As by this every night some accident happened to some of the convoy by keeping so close together, a fine ship of thirty guns, belonging to Marseilles, hauled out a little to windward of the rest of the fleet; which L'Etanducre perceiving in the morning, ordered the frigate to bring the captain of her on board of him; and then making a signal for all the convoy to close to him, he fired a gun, and hoisted a red flag at the ensign staff; and imme[212]diately after the captain of the merchant-man was run up to the main-yard-arm, and from thence ducked three times. He was then sent on board his ship again, with orders to keep his colours flying the whole day, in order to distinguish him from the rest. We were then told, that the person who was treated in this cruel manner, was a young man of an exceeding good family in the south of France, and likewise a man of great spirit; and that he would not fail to call Monsieur L'Etanducre to account when an opportunity should offer; and the affair made much noise in France afterwards. One day, the ship we were in happened to be out of her station, by sailing so heavily, when the commodore made the signal to speak to our captain, who seemed frightened out of his wits. When we came near him, he began with the grossest abuse, threatening our captain, that if ever he was out of his station again, he would serve him as he had done the other. This rigid discipline, however, preserved the convoy; for though the privateer kept company a long time, she was[213] not so fortunate as to meet with the reward of her perseverance.

On the 27th of October, in the evening, we made Cape Ortegal; and on the 31st, came to an anchor in Brest road. The Lys having so valuable a cargo on board, was towed into the harbour the next morning, and lashed alongside one of their men of war. The money was soon landed; and the officers and men, who had been so many years absent from their native country, were glad to get on shore. Nobody remained on board but a man or two to look after the ship, and we three English prisoners who had no leave to go ashore. The weather was extremely cold, and felt particularly so to us, who had been so long used to hot climates; and what made it still worse, we were very thinly clad. We had neither fire nor candle; for they were allowed on board of no ship in the harbour, for fear of accidents, being close to their magazines in the dock-yard. Some of the officers belonging to the ship were so kind to send us off victuals every day, or we might have starved; for[214] Monsieur L'Intendant never sent us even a message; and though there was a very large squadron of men of war fitting out at that time, not one officer belonging to them ever came near Captain Cheap. From five in the evening we were obliged to sit in the dark; and if we chose to have any supper, it was necessary to place it very near us before that time, or we never could have found it. We had passed seven or eight days in this melancholy manner, when one morning a kind of row-galley came alongside, with a number of English prisoners belonging to two large privateers the French had taken. We were ordered into the same boat with them, and were carried four leagues up the river to Landernaw. At this town we were upon our parole; so took the best lodgings we could get, and lived very well for three months, when an order came from the court of Spain to allow us to return home by the first ship that offered. Upon this, hearing there was a Dutch ship at Morlaix ready to sail, we took horses and travelled to that town, where we were obliged to remain six[215] weeks, before we had an opportunity of getting away. At last we agreed with the master of a Dutch dogger to land us at Dover, and paid him beforehand. When we had got down the river into the road, a French privateer that was almost ready to sail upon a cruize, hailed the Dutchman, and told him to come to an anchor; and that if he offered to sail before him, he would sink him. This he was forced to comply with, and lay three days in the road, cursing the Frenchman, who at the end of that time put to sea, and then we were at liberty to do the same. We had a long uncomfortable passage. About the ninth day, before sunset, we saw Dover, and reminded the Dutchman of his agreement to land us there. He said he would; but instead of that, in the morning we were off the coast of France. We complained loudly of this piece of villany, and insisted upon his returning to land us, when an English man of war appeared to windward, and presently bore down to us. She sent her boat on board with an officer, who informed us the ship he came from was the Squir[216]rel, commanded by Captain Masterson. We went on board of her, and Captain Masterson immediately sent one of the cutters he had with him, to land us at Dover, where we arrived that afternoon, and directly set out for Canterbury upon post-horses; but Captain Cheap was so tired by the time he got there, that he could proceed no further that night. The next morning he still found himself so much fatigued, that he could ride no longer; therefore it was agreed that he and Mr. Hamilton should take a post-chaise, and that I should ride; but here an unlucky difficulty was started; for upon sharing the little money we had, it was found to be not sufficient to pay the charges to London; and my proportion fell so short, that it was, by calculation, barely enough to pay for horses, without a farthing for eating a bit upon the road, or even for the very turnpikes. Those I was obliged to defraud, by riding as hard as I could through them all, not paying the least regard to the men, who called out to stop me. The want of refreshment I bore as well as I could. When I[217] got to the Borough, I took a coach and drove to Marlborough-street, where my friends had lived when I left England; but when I came there, I found the house shut up. Having been absent so many years, and in all that time never having heard a word from home, I knew not who was dead or who was living, or where to go next; or even how to pay the coachman. I recollected a linen-draper's shop, not far from thence, which our family had used. I therefore drove there next, and making myself known, they paid the coachman. I then enquired after our family, and was told my sister had married Lord Carlisle, and was at that time in Soho-square. I immediately walked to the house, and knocked at the door; but the porter not liking my figure, which was half French, half Spanish, with the addition of a large pair of boots covered with dirt, he was going to shut the door in my face; but I prevailed with him to let me come in.

I need not acquaint my readers with what surprise and joy my sister received me. She[218] immediately furnished me with money sufficient to appear like the rest of my countrymen; till that time I could not be properly said to have finished all the extraordinary scenes which a series of unfortunate adventures had kept me in for the space of five years and upwards.



[1] Captain Inglefield's account of the loss of the Centaur, (in September, 1782), furnished Byron with many of those trivial incidents, which, as the poet well knew, render a story, to use Gibbon's words, "circumstancial and animated," instead of "vague and languid;" the "eternal difference between fiction and truth." The behaviour of the sailors before the sinking of the ship; some lashing themselves in their hammocks, some putting on their best clothes; the sail made of blankets; the ragged piece of sheet with which they caught the rain-water; the words used by the man who first saw the land, &c. &c., are all faithfully copied or slightly altered from Inglefield.

[2] Byron's ship in this expedition was the Dolphin: she was the second ship ever coppered in the British navy.

[3] Captain Cheap has been suspected of a design of going on the Spanish coast without the Commodore; but no part of his conduct seems to authorise, in the least, such a suspicion. The author who brings this heavy charge against him, is equally mistaken in imagining that Captain Cheap had not instructions to sail to this island, and that the Commodore did neither go nor send thither, to inform himself if any of the squadron were there. This appears from the orders delivered to the captains of the squadron, the day before they sailed from St. Catherine's (L. Anson's Voyage, B.I.C. 6.); from the orders of the council of war held on board the Centurion, in the bay of St. Julian, (C. 7.); and from the conduct of the Commodore (C. 10.) who cruized (with the utmost hazard) more than a fortnight off the isle of Socoro, and along the coast in its neighbourhood. It was the second rendezvous at Baldivia, and not that at Socoro, that the Commodore was forced by necessity to neglect.

[4] Chiloe is an island on the western coast of America, about the 43rd deg. of S. latitude; and the southernmost settlement under the Spanish jurisdiction on that coast.

[5] There are two very different disorders incident to the human body, which bear the same name, derived from some resemblance they hold with different parts of the animal so well known in the countries to which these disorders are peculiar. That which was first so named is the leprosy, which brings a scurf on the skin not unlike the hide of an elephant. The other affects the patient with such enormous swellings of the legs and feet, that they give the idea of those shapeless pillars which support that creature; and therefore this disease has also been called elephantiasis by the Arabian physicians; who, together with the Malabarians, among whom it is endemial, attribute it to the drinking bad waters, and the too sudden transitions from heat to cold.

Transcriber's Notes:

Maintained original spelling, hypenation and punctuation.
Obvious printer errors have been corrected.

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