With this squadron, together with the St Albans and Lark, and the Turkey trade under their convoy, we tided down channel for the first forty-eight hours. In the morning of the 20th, we discovered the Dragon, Winchester, South-Sea Castle, and Rye, with a number of merchantmen under their convoy, waiting for us off the Ram-head. We joined there the same day about noon, the commodore having orders to see them, together with the convoy of the St Albans and Lark, as far as their course and ours lay together. When we came in sight of this last-mentioned ship, Mr Anson first hoisted his broad pendant, and was saluted by all the men-of-war in company. After joining this last convoy, we made up eleven men-of-war, and about 150 sail of merchant ships, consisting of the Turkey, the Straits, and the American trades. The same day Mr Anson made a signal for all captains of men-of-war to come on board, when he delivered them their fighting and sailing instructions, and then we all stood to the S.W. with a fair wind; so that next day at noon, being the 21st, we had run forty leagues beyond the Ram-head. Being now clear of the land, our commodore, to render our view more extensive, ordered Captain Mitchell, in the Pearl, to make sail two leagues a-head of the fleet every morning, and to repair to his station every evening. Thus we proceeded till the 25th, when the Winchester, with the American convoy, made the concerted signal for leave to separate, and this being answered by the commodore, they left us, which, was done by the St Albans and the Dragon on the 24th, with the Turkey and Straits convoys.
There now remained only our own squadron and the two victuallers, with which we stood on our course for the island of Madeira. But the winds were so contrary, that we had the mortification to be forty days on our passage to that island from St Helens, though it is often known to be done in ten or twelve. This delay was most unpleasant, and was productive of much discontent and ill humour among our people, of which these only can have an adequate idea who have experienced a similar situation: For, besides the peevishness and despondency, which foul and contrary winds, and a lingering voyage, never fail to produce on all occasions, we in particular had substantial reasons for being greatly alarmed at this unexpected impediment; since, as we departed from England much later than we ought to have done, we had placed almost all our hope of success on the chance of retrieving in some measure at sea, the time we had so unhappily wasted at Spithead and St Helens. At last, on Monday the 25th October, at five in the morning, we made the land to our great joy, and came to anchor in the afternoon in Madeira road, in forty fathoms, the Brazen Head bearing from us E. by S. the Loo N.N.W. and the Great Church N.N.E. We had hardly let go our anchor when an English privateer sloop ran under our stern, and saluted the commodore with nine guns, which we returned with five. Next day the English consul visited the commodore, and was saluted with nine guns on coming on board.
The island of Madeira, where we now arrived, is famous through all our American settlements for its excellent wines, which seem designed by Providence for the refreshment of the inhabitants of the torrid zone. It is situated in a fine climate, in lat. 32 deg. 27' N. and long. from London 18 deg. 30' to 19 deg. 30' W. by our different reckonings, though laid down in the charts in 47 deg.. The whole island is composed of one continued hill of considerable height, extending from east to west; the declivity of which, on the south side, is cultivated and interspersed with vineyards. In the middle of this slope the merchants have their country seats, which contribute to form a very agreeable prospect. There is but one considerable town, named Fonchiale, on the south part of the island, situated at the bottom of a large bay. Towards the sea it is defended by a high wall with a battery of cannon, besides a castle on the Loo, which is a rock standing in the water at a small distance from the shore. Tonchiale is the only place of trade, and indeed the only place where it is possible for a boat to land; and even there the beach is so covered with great stones, and so violent a surf beats continually upon it, that the commodore did not care to venture the long-boats of our ships in fetching off water, and therefore ordered the captains to employ Portuguese boats on that service.
[Footnote 1: The charts are however the most accurate, as that is the long. of the centre of Madeira, in our best modern maps.—E.]
We continued about a week at this island, watering our ships, and providing the squadron with wine and other refreshments. While here, on the 3d November, Captain Richard Norris signified to the commodore, by letter, his desire to quit the command of the Gloucester, in order to return to England for the recovery of his health. The commodore complied with this request, and was pleased to appoint Captain Matthew Mitchell to command the Gloucester in his room, to remove Captain Kidd from the Wager to the Pearl, and Captain Murray from the Tryal sloop to the Wager, giving the command of the Tryal to Lieutenant Cheap. These promotions being settled, with other changes in the lieutenancies, the commodore, on the 4th November, gave to the captains their orders, appointing St Jago, one of the Cape Verd islands, to be the first place of rendezvous in case of separation; and, if they did not meet the Centurion there, directing them to make the best of their way to the island of St Catharine on the coast of Brazil. The water for the squadron being that day completed, and each ship supplied with as much wine and other refreshments as they could take in, we weighed anchor in the afternoon, and took leave of Madeira. But, before continuing the narrative of our transactions, I think it necessary to give some account of the proceedings of the enemy, and of the measures they had taken to render all our designs abortive.
On visiting the governor of Madeira, Mr Anson was informed by him, that for three or four days in the latter end of October, there had appeared to the westward of the island seven or eight ships of the line and a patache, which last was sent close in with the land every day. The governor assured our commodore, upon his honour, that no person on the island had either given them intelligence, or had any sort of communication with them. He believed them to be either French or Spanish, but was rather inclined to suppose the latter. On this intelligence, Mr Anson sent an officer in a clean sloop eight leagues to the westwards, to reconnoitre them, and, if possible, to discover what they were: But the officer returned without having seen them, so that we still remained in uncertainty; yet we could not but conjecture that this fleet was intended to put a stop, if possible, to our expedition; and, had they cruized to the eastward of the island, instead of the westward, they could not have failed in doing so: for, as in that case they must infallibly have fallen in with us, we should have been under the necessity of throwing overboard vast quantities of provisions, to clear our ships for action; and this alone, independent of the event of the action, would have effectually prevented our progress. This was so obvious a measure, that we could not help imagining reasons which might have prevented them from pursuing it. We supposed, therefore, that this French or Spanish squadron, having advice that we were to sail in company with Admiral Balchen and Lord Cathcart's expedition, might not think it adviseable to meet with us till we had parted company, from apprehension of being over-matched, and supposed we might not separate before our arrival at this island. These were our speculations at the time, from which we had reason to suppose we might still fall in with them, in our way to the Cape de Verd islands. We were afterwards persuaded, in the course of our expedition, that this was the Spanish squadron commanded by Don Joseph Pizarro, sent out purposely to traverse the views and enterprizes of our squadron, to which they were greatly superior in strength. As this Spanish armament was so nearly connected with our expedition, and as the catastrophe, if underwent, though not effected by our force, was yet a considerable advantage to this nation produced in consequence of our equipment; I have, in the following section, given a summary account of their proceedings, from their first setting out from Spain in 1740, till the Asia, the only ship of the whole squadron that returned to Europe, got back to Corunna in the beginning of the year 1746.
History of the Spanish Squadron commanded by Don Joseph Pizarro.
The squadron fitted out by the court of Spain, to attend our motions, and traverse our projects, we supposed to have been the ships seen off Madeira. As this force was sent out particularly against our expedition, I cannot but imagine that the following history of its casualties, so far as has come to my knowledge, by intercepted letters and other information, is an essential part of the present work. For it will from hence appear, that we were the occasion of a considerable part of the Spanish naval power being diverted from prosecuting the ambitious views of that court in Europe; and whatever men and ships were lost by the enemy in this undertaking, were lost in consequence of the precautions they took to secure themselves against our expedition.
This squadron, besides two ships bound for the West Indies, which did not part company till after they left Madeira, was composed of the following men-of-war, commanded by Don Joseph Pizarro. The Asia of 66 guns and 700 men, the admiral's ship; the Guipuscoa of 74 guns and 700 men; the Hermiona of 54 guns and 500 men; the Esperanza of 50 guns and 450 men; the St Estevan of 40 guns and 350 men; and a patache of 20 guns.
Over and above their complements of sailors and marines, these ships had on board an old Spanish regiment of foot, intended to reinforce the garrisons on the coast of the South-Sea. Having cruised some days to leeward of Madeira, as formerly mentioned, they left that station in the beginning of November, and steered for the Rio de la Plata, where they arrived on the 5th of January O.S. and coming to anchor in the bay of Maldonado, at the mouth of that river, their admiral sent immediately to Buenos Ayres for a supply of provisions, having left Spain with only four months provisions on board. While waiting this supply, they received intelligence, by the treachery of the Portuguese governor of St Catharines, of Mr Anson having arrived at that island on the 21st December preceding, and that he was preparing to put to sea again with the utmost expedition. Notwithstanding his superior force, Pizarro had his reasons, and some say his orders, for avoiding our squadron any where short of the South-Sea. He was, besides, extremely desirous of getting round Cape Horn before us, imagining that alone would effectually baffle all our designs; wherefore, hearing that we were in his neighbourhood, and that we should be soon ready to proceed for Cape Horn, he weighed anchor with his five large ships, the Patache being disabled and condemned, and the men taken out of her; and, after a stay of seventeen days only, got under sail without his provisions, which arrived at Maldonado within a day or two after his departure. Notwithstanding this precipitation, we put to sea from St Catharines four days before he did from Maldonado; and at one part of our passage to Cape Horn the two squadrons were so near, that the Pearl, one of our ships, being separated from the rest, fell in with the Spanish fleet, and, mistaking the Asia for the Centurion, got within gun-shot of the Asia before the mistake was discovered, and narrowly escaped being taken.
As it was the 22d January when the Spaniards weighed from Maldonado, they could not expect to get into the latitude of Cape Horn before the equinox; and, as they had reason to apprehend very tempestuous weather in doubling it at that season, while the Spanish sailors, for the most part accustomed to a fair-weather country, might be supposed averse from so dangerous and fatiguing a navigation, the better to encourage them, some part of their pay was advanced to them in European goods, which they were to have leave to dispose of in the South-Seas, that so the hopes of the great profits they were to make of their ventures, might animate them in their duty, and render them less disposed to repine at the labours, hardships, and perils they might in all probability meet with, before their arrival on the coast of Peru.
Towards the latter end of February, Pizarro and his squadron got into the latitude of Cape Horn, and then stood to the westwards in order to double that southern promontory. But, in the night of the last of February O.S. while turning to windward with this view, the Guipuscoa, Hermiona, and Espranza were separated from the admiral. On the 6th March following, the Guipuscoa was separated from the other two; and next day, being that after we passed the Straits of Le Maire, there came on a most furious storm at N.W. which, in spite of all their efforts, drove the whole squadron to the eastward, and, after several fruitless attempts, obliged them to bear away for the river of Plate. Pizarro arrived there in the Asia about the middle of May, and was followed a few days after by the Esperanza and Estevan. The Hermiona was supposed to have foundered, as she was never more heard of; and the Guipuscoa was run on shore and destroyed on the coast of Brazil. The calamities of all kinds which this squadron underwent in their unsuccessful attempt to double Cape Horn, can only be paralleled by what we ourselves experienced in the same climate, when buffeted by the same storms. There was indeed some diversity in our distresses, rendering it difficult to decide whose situation was most worthy of commiseration; for, to all the miseries and misfortunes we experienced in common, as shattered rigging, leaky ships, and the fatigues and despondency necessarily attendant on these disasters, there was superadded on board our squadron the ravages of a most destructive and incurable disease; and in the Spanish squadron the devastation of famine.
It has been already observed, that this squadron left Spain with only four months provisions on board, and even that, it is said, at short allowance, either owing to the hurry of their outfit, or presuming upon a supply at Buenos Ayres; so that, when their continuance at sea was prolonged, by the storms they met with off Cape Horn, a month or more beyond their expectation, they were reduced to such infinite distress, that rats, when they could be caught, sold for four dollars a-piece; and a sailor who died in one of the ships, had his death concealed by his brother for some days, who lay all that time in the hammock with the corpse, that he might receive the dead man's allowance of provisions. In this dreadful situation, if their horrors were capable of augmentation, they were alarmed by discovering a conspiracy among the marines on board the Asia, who proposed massacring the officers and whole crew, their sole motive for this bloody resolution appearing to be the desire of relieving their hunger, by appropriating the whole provisions in the ship to themselves. This design was prevented, when just on the point of execution, by means of one of their confessors, and three of the ringleaders were immediately put to death. By the complicated distresses of fatigue, sickness, and famine, the three ships that escaped lost the greatest part of their men. The admiral's ship, the Asia, arrived at Monte Video in the Rio Plata with only half her crew. The Estevan, when she anchored in the bay of Barragan had also lost half her men. The Esperanza was still more unfortunate, for of 450 hands she brought with her from Spain, only 58 remained alive. The whole regiment of foot perished except sixty men. To give a more distinct idea of what they underwent upon this occasion, I shall present a short account of the fate of the Guipuscoa, extracted from a letter written by Don Joseph Mindinuetta, her captain, to a person of distinction at Lima, a copy of which fell into our hands when in the South-Sea.
Having separated on the 6th March in a fog from the Hermiona and Esperanza, being then, as I suppose, to the S.E. of States Land, and plying to the westward, it blew a furious storm at N.W. the succeeding night, which, at half past ten, split his main-sail, and obliged him to bear away with his foresail. The ship now went ten knots an hour with a prodigious sea, and often ran her gangway under water. He likewise sprung his main-mast, and the ship made so much water that she could not be freed by four pumps assisted by bailing. On the 9th the wind became calm, but the sea continued so high that the ship, in rolling, opened all her upper works and seams, and started the butt ends of her planks, and the greatest part of her top-timbers, the bolts being drawn by the violence of the roll. In this condition, with additional disasters to the hull and rigging, they continued beating westward to the 12th, when they were in lat. 60 deg. S. and in great want of provisions, numbers perishing daily by the fatigue of pumping, and the survivors quite dispirited by labour, hunger, and the severity of the weather, their decks being covered with snow above a foot in depth. Finding the wind fixed in the west and blowing strong, and their passage that way impossible, they resolved to bear away for the Rio Plata. On the 22d they had to throw overboard all their upper-deck guns and an anchor, and were obliged to take six turns of the cable round the ship to prevent her from opening and falling to pieces. On the 4th of April, in calm weather, but with a very heavy sea, the ship rolled so much that her main-mast came by the board, and was soon after followed by the fore and mizen masts, after which they had to cut away the boltsprit, to diminish, if possible, the leakage forwards. By this time two hundred and fifty of the men had perished by hunger and fatigue. Those who were capable of working at the pumps, at which every officer took his turn without exception, were only allowed an ounce and a half of biscuit daily; while those who were weak and sickly, so that they could not assist in this necessary labour, had no more than one ounce of wheat. It was common for the men to fall down dead at the pumps, and all they could muster for duty, including the officers, was from eighty to an hundred men.
The S.W. wind blew so fresh for some days after they lost their masts, that they could not set up jury-masts; so that they were obliged to drive like a wreck, between the latitude of 32 deg. and 38 deg. S. till the 24th of April, when they made the coast of Brazil at Rio de Patas, ten leagues to the southward of the island of St Catharines. They came here to an anchor, the captain being very desirous of proceeding to St Catharines, in order to save the hull of the ship, with her guns and stores: But the crew instantly left off pumping, and all in one voice cried out, On shore! on shore! enraged at the hardships they had suffered and the numbers they had lost, there being at this time thirty dead bodies lying on the deck. Thus the captain was obliged to run the ship directly to the land, where she parted and sunk five days after, with all her stores and furniture; but the remainder of the crew, whom hunger and fatigue had spared, to the number of four hundred, got safe on shore.
From this account of the adventures and catastrophe of the Guiapuscoa, we may form some conjecture of the manner in which the Hermiona was lost, and of the distresses endured by the three remaining ships of the squadron which got into the Rio Plata. These last being in great want of masts, yards, rigging, and all kinds of naval stores, and having no supply at Buenos Ayres or any of the neighbouring settlements, Pizarro dispatched an advice-boat with a letter of credit to Rio de Janeiro, to purchase what was wanting from the Portuguese. He sent at the same time an express across the continent to St Jago de Chili, to be thence forwarded to the viceroy of Peru, informing him of the disasters that had befallen his squadron, and desiring a remittance of two hundred thousand dollars from the royal chest at Lima, to enable him to refit and victual his remaining ships, that he might be again in condition to attempt the passage to the South-Sea as soon as the season of the year should be more favourable. It is mentioned by the Spaniards, as a most extraordinary circumstance, that, though then the depth of winter, when the Cordilleras are esteemed impassable on account of the snow, the Indian who was charged with this express was only thirteen days on his journey from Buenos Ayres to St Jago in Chili, though the distance is three hundred Spanish leagues, near forty of which are among the snows and precipices of the Cordilleras.
The return to this dispatch of Pizarro from the viceroy was by no means favourable. Instead of two hundred thousand dollars, the sum demanded, the viceroy remitted him only one hundred thousand, telling him that it was with great difficulty he was able to procure even that sum. But the inhabitants of Lima, who considered the presence of Pizarro as absolutely necessary to their security, were much discontented at this procedure, and did not scruple to assert, that it was not the want of money, but the interested views of some of the viceroy's confidants, that prevented Pizarro from getting the whole sum.
The advice-boat sent to Rio Janeiro also executed her commission but imperfectly; for, though she brought back a considerable quantity of pitch, tar, and cordage, she could not procure either masts or yards; and, as an additional misfortune, Pizarro was disappointed of some masts he expected from Paraguay, as a carpenter whom he entrusted with a large sum of money, and sent there to cut masts, instead of prosecuting the business he was sent upon, married in the country, and refused to return. However, by removing the masts of the Esperanza into the Asia, and using what spare masts and yards they had on board, they made a shift to refit the Asia and Estevan: And, in the October following, Pizarro was prepared to put to sea with these two ships, in order to attempt the passage round Cape Horn a second time; but, in coming down the Rio Plata, the Estevan ran upon a shoal and beat off her rudder, and Pizarro proceeded to sea in the Asia without her. Having now the antarctic summer before him, and the winds favourable, no doubt was made of his having a fortunate and speedy passage: But, when off Cape Horn and going right before the wind, it being moderate weather, though in a swelling sea, the ship rolled away her masts, by some misconduct of the officer having the watch, and was a second time obliged to put back in great distress to the Rio Plata.
As the Asia had suffered considerably in this second unfortunate expedition, the Esperanza was now ordered to be refitted, the command of her being given to Mindinuetta, who was formerly captain of the Guipuscoa. In November 1742, he sailed from the Rio Plata for the south, and arrived safe on the coast of Chili, where he was met by his commodore, Pizarro, who passed over-land from Buenos Ayres. Great animosities and contests took place between these two officers, owing to the claim of Pizarro to command the Esperanza, which Mindinuetta had brought round, and now refused to resign; insisting, as he had come round the South Sea alone and under no superior, it was not now in the power of Pizarro to resume the authority he had once parted with. But, after a long and obstinate struggle, as the president of Chili interposed and declared for Pizarro, Mindinuetta was obliged to submit.
Pizarro had not yet completed the series of his misfortunes. When he and Mindinuetta returned over-land, in 1745, from Chili to Buenos Ayres, they found the Asia still at Monte Video, and resolved, if possible, to carry her to Europe. With this view they refitted her in the best manner they could, but had great difficulty in procuring a sufficient number of hands to navigate her, as all the remaining sailors of the squadron, then to be met with in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres, did not amount to an hundred men. They endeavoured to supply this defect, by pressing many of the inhabitants of Buenos Ayres, and putting on board all the English prisoners then in their custody, together with a number of Portuguese smugglers they had taken at different times, and some of the Indians of the country. Among these last there was a chief and ten of his followers, who had been surprised by a party of Spanish soldiers about three months before. The name of this chief was Orellana, and he belonged to a very powerful tribe, which had committed great ravages in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres. With this motley crew, all of them except the European sailors averse from the voyage, Pizarro set sail from Monte Video about the beginning of November 1745: and the native Spaniards, being no strangers to the dissatisfaction of their forced men, treated them, the English prisoners and the Indians, with great insolence and barbarity, particularly the Indians; for it was common in the meanest officers in the ship to beat them cruelly on the slightest pretence, and often merely to shew their superiority.
Orellana and his followers, though in appearance sufficiently patient and submissive, meditated a severe revenge for all these inhumanities. As these Indians have great intercourse with Buenos Ayres in time of peace, Orellana understood Spanish, and affected to converse with such of the English prisoners as could speak that language, seeming very desirous of being informed how many Englishmen there were on board, and of having them pointed out to him. As he knew the English were as much enemies to the Spaniards as he was, he had doubtless an intention of disclosing his purposes to them, and making them partners in the scheme he had projected for revenging his wrongs and recovering his liberty; but, having sounded them at a distance, and not finding them so precipitate and vindictive as he expected, he proceeded no farther with them, but resolved to trust alone to the resolution of his ten faithful followers, who readily engaged to observe his directions and to execute his commands. Having agreed on the measures to be pursued, they contrived to provide themselves with Dutch knives, sharp at the point, which, being the common knives used in the ship, they procured without difficulty. They also employed their leisure in secretly cutting thongs from raw hides, of which there were great numbers on board, and in fixing to each end of these thongs the double-headed shot of the small quarter-deck guns; by which they formed most mischievous weapons, in the use of which, by swinging round the head, the Indians about Buenos Ayres are extremely expert, being trained to it from their infancy. When these things were in good forwardness, the execution of their scheme was perhaps precipitated by a particular outrage committed upon Orellana, who was ordered aloft by one of the officers, and being incapable of doing so, the officer, who was a brutal fellow, beat him with such violence, under pretence of disobedience, that he left him bleeding on the deck, and quite stupified with wounds and bruises. This certainly increased his thirst of revenge, so that within a day or two he and his followers began to execute their desperate resolves in the following manner.
About nine in the evening, when many of the principal officers were on the quarter-deck indulging in the freshness of the night air, the forecastle being manned with its customary watch, Orellana and his companions, having prepared their weapons, and thrown off their trowsers and other cumbrous parts of their dress, came all together on the quarter-deck, and drew towards the door of the great cabin. The boatswain reprimanded them for their presumption, and ordered them to be gone; on which Orellana spoke to his followers in their native language, when four of them drew off, two towards each gangway, and the chief and six remaining Indians seemed to be slowly quitting the quarter-deck. When the detached Indians had taken possession of the gangways, Orellana placed his hands hollow to his mouth, and bellowed out the war-cry of the savages, said to be the harshest and most terrifying of sounds. This hideous yell was the signal for beginning the massacre; upon which all the Indians drew their knives and brandished their prepared double-headed shot. The chief, and the six who remained with him on the quarter-deck, fell immediately on the Spaniards with whom they were intermingled, and in a very short space laid forty of them at their feet, above twenty of whom were killed on the spot, and the rest disabled.
In the beginning of the tumult, many of the officers rushed into the great cabin, where they put out the lights and barricadoed the door; while of the others, who had escaped the first fury of the Indians, some endeavoured to escape along the gangways to the forecastle, where the Indians, placed there on purpose, stabbed the greater part of them as they attempted to pass, or forced them off the gangways into the waste of the ship, which was filled with live cattle. Some threw themselves voluntarily over the barricades into the waste, and thought themselves fortunate to lie concealed among the cattle; but the greatest part escaped up the main-shrouds, and took shelter in the tops and rigging of the ship. Although the Indians only attacked the quarter-deck, yet the watch in the forecastle, finding their communication cut off, and terrified by a few of the wounded who had been able to force their passage, and not knowing either who were their enemies, or what were their numbers, they also gave all over for lost, and in great confusion ran up into the rigging of the foremast and boltsprit.
Thus these eleven Indians, with a resolution perhaps without example, possessed themselves almost in an instant of the quarter-deck of a ship mounting sixty-six guns, and manned by near five hundred hands, and even continued in peaceable possession of this part for some time. During a considerable space, the officers in the great cabin, among whom were Pizarro and Mindinuetta, the crew between decks, and those who had escaped into the tops and rigging, were merely anxious for their own safety, and were incapable of forming any project for suppressing the insurrection and recovering the possession of the ship. The yells of the Indians, the groans of the wounded, and the confused clamours of the crew, all heightened by the darkness of the night, had at first greatly magnified the danger, and filled them with imaginary terrors. The Spaniards were sensible of the dissatisfaction of their impressed hands, and were conscious of their barbarity to their prisoners, wherefore they concluded that the conspiracy was general, and considered their own destruction as infallible; insomuch, that some are said to have designed to leap into the sea, but were prevented by their companions.
When the Indians had entirely cleared the quarter-deck, the tumult in a great measure subsided; for those who had escaped were kept silent by their fears, and the Indians were incapable of pursuing them. Orellana, when master of the quarter-deck, broke open the arm-chest, which had been ordered there a few days before, on a slight suspicion of mutiny. He there expected to find cutlasses wherewith to arm himself and his followers, who were all well skilled in the use of that weapon, and with these it is imagined they proposed to have forced the great cabin: But on opening the chest, there appeared nothing but fire-arms, which to them were of no use. There were indeed abundance of cutlasses in the chest, but they were hidden by the fire-arms being laid uppermost. This was a sensible disappointment to Orellana and his Indians. By this time Pizarro and his companions in the great cabin had been able to communicate with those below in the gun-room and between decks, by conversing aloud through the cabin windows; by which means they learnt that the English prisoners, whom they chiefly suspected, were all safe below, and had not participated in the mutiny; and by other circumstances they were at last made sensible that Orellana and his people only were concerned in it. Upon this information, Pizarro and the officers resolved to attack them on the quarter-deck, before any of the discontented on board had so far recovered from their surprise as to reflect on the facility of seizing the ship by joining with the Indians. With this view, Pizarro collected what arms were in the cabin and distributed them to those who were with him. There were no fire-arms except pistols, and for these they had neither powder nor ball; but having now a correspondence with the gun-room, they lowered a bucket from the cabin window, into which the gunner put a quantity of pistol cartridges out of one of the gun-room ports. Having thus procured ammunition, and loaded their pistols, they partly opened the cabin door, and fired several shots among the Indians on the quarter-deck, though at first without effect. At last Mindinuetta had the good fortune to shoot Orellana dead; on which his faithful companions, abandoning all thoughts of farther resistance, instantly leaped into the sea, where they all perished. Thus was this insurrection quelled, and possession of the quarter-deck regained, after it had been fully two hours in the power of this great and daring chief, and his small band of gallant unhappy countrymen.
Having thus escaped from imminent peril, Pizarro continued his voyage for Europe, and arrived safely on the coast of Gallicia in the beginning of the year 1746, after an absence of between four and five years, and having, by attendance on our expedition, diminished the royal power of Spain by above three thousand of their prime sailors, and by four considerable ships of war and a patache. For we have seen that the Hermione foundered at sea, the Guipuscoa was stranded and destroyed on the coast of Brazil, the St Estevan was condemned and broken up in the Rio Plata, and the Esperanza, being left in the South Sea, is doubtless by this time incapable of returning to Spain: So that the Asia alone, with less than an hundred hands, may be considered as all that remains of the squadron with which Pizarro put forth to sea; and whoever considers the very large proportion which this squadron bore to the whole navy of Spain, will no doubt confess that, even if our undertaking had been attended with no other advantages, than that of ruining so great a part of the naval force of so dangerous an enemy, this alone would be a sufficient equivalent for our equipment, and an incontestable proof of the service which the nation has thence received. Having thus given a summary of Pizarro's adventures, I return to the narrative of our own transactions.
Passage from Madeira to St Catharines.
I have already mentioned that we weighed from Madeira on the 3d November, after orders being given to rendezvous at St Jago, one of the Cape Verd islands, in case of a separation. But next day, when we were got to sea, the commodore, considering that the season was far advanced, and that touching at St Jago would create additional delay, thought proper for this reason to alter the rendezvous, and appointed the island of St Catharines, on the coast of Brazil, to be the first place to which the ships of the squadron were to repair, in case of separation.
In our passage to the island of St Catharines, we found the direction of the trade winds to differ considerably from what we had reason to expect, both from the general histories given of these winds, and the experience of former navigators. For the learned Dr Halley, in his account of the trade-winds which prevail in the Ethiopic and Atlantic Oceans, tells us that, from the lat. of 28 deg. N. to 10 deg. N. there is generally a fresh gale of N.E. wind, which, towards the African coasts, rarely comes to the eastward of E.N.E. or passes to the northward of N.N.E. but on the American side the wind is somewhat more easterly; though even there it is commonly a point or two to the northward of east; that from 10 deg. N. to 4 deg. N. the calms and tornadoes take place; and from 4 deg. N. to 30 deg. S. the winds are generally and perpetually between the south and east. We expected to find this account of the matter confirmed by our experience; but we found considerable variations from it, both in regard to the steadiness of the winds, and the quarters from whence they blew. For though we met with a N.E. wind about lat. 28 deg. N. yet, from lat. 25 deg. N. to 18 deg. N the wind was never once to the northward of E. but almost constantly to the southward of it. From thence, however, to 6 deg. 20' N. we had it usually to the northward of E. though not always, as it changed for a short time to E.S.E. From 6 deg. 20' N. to about 4 deg. 46' N. the weather was very unsettled, the wind being sometimes N.E. then changing to S.E. and sometimes we had a dead calm, with small rain and lightning. After this, to the lat. of 7 deg. 30' S. the wind continued almost invariably between S. and E. and then again as invariably between N. and E. till we came to 15 deg. 30' S. then E. and S.E. to 21 deg. 37' S. After this, even to 27 deg. 44' S. the wind was never once between S. and E. though we had it in all the other quarters of the compass; though this last circumstance may be in some measure accounted for from our approach to the coast of Brazil.
I do not mention these particulars with a view of cavilling at the received accounts of these trade-winds, which, I doubt not, are sufficiently accurate; but I thought it worthy of public notice, that such deviations from the established rules do sometimes take place. This observation may not only be of service to navigators, by putting them on their guard against these hitherto unexplained and unnoticed irregularities, but it is also a circumstance that requires to be attended to in the solution of the great question about the causes of trade-winds and monsoons; a question which, in my opinion, has not been hitherto discussed with that clearness and accuracy which its importance demands, whether it be considered in a naval or a philosophical point of view.
On the 16th November, one of our victuallers made a signal to speak with the commodore, and we shortened sail for her to come up with us. The master came on board, and represented to Mr Anson, that, having complied with the terms of his charter-party, he now desired to be unloaded and discharged. On consulting the captain of the squadron, it was found all the ships had still such quantities of provisions between their decks, and were also so deep, that they could only take in their proportions of brandy from the Industry pink, one of the victuallers; and consequently the commodore had to continue the other, the Ann pink, in the service of attending the squadron. Accordingly, a signal was made next day for the ships to bring to, and the long-boats were employed that and the three following days, till the 19th in the evening, to take their proportions of the brandy in the Industry to the several ships of the squadron. Being then unloaded, she parted company, intending for Barbadoes; and there to take in a freight for England. Most of the officers in the squadron took the opportunity of this ship, to write to their friends at home; but I have been informed she was taken by the Spaniards.
On the 20th November, the captains of the squadron represented to the commodore, that their ships companies were very sickly; and that, both in their own opinions and of their surgeons, it would tend to the health of the men to let in more air between decks; but that the ships were so deep in the water, that the lower-deck ports could not possibly be opened. On this representation, the commodore ordered six air-scuttles to be cut in each ship, in such places as had least tendency to weaken them. On this occasion, I cannot but observe how much it is the duty of all who have any influence in the direction of our naval affairs, to attend to the preservation of the lives and health of our seamen. If it could be supposed that motives of humanity were insufficient for this purpose, yet policy, a regard to the success of our arms, and the honour and interest of each individual commander, all should lead to a careful and impartial examination of every probable method proposed for preserving the health and vigour of seamen. But hath this been always done? Have the late invented, plain, and obvious methods for keeping our ships sweet and clean, by a constant supply of fresh air, been considered with that candour and temper which the great benefits they promise to produce ought naturally to have inspired? On the contrary, have not these salutary schemes been often treated with neglect and contempt? And have not some, who have been entrusted with experimenting their effects, been guilty of the most indefensible partiality in the accounts they have given of these trials? It must, however, be confessed, that many distinguished persons, both in the direction and command of our fleets, have exerted themselves on these occasions with a judicious and dispassionate examination, becoming the interesting nature of the enquiry: But the wonder is, that any one should have been found so irrational as to act a contrary part, in despite of the strongest dictates of prudence and humanity. I cannot, however, believe this conduct to have arisen from such savage motives as the first reflection seems naturally to suggest; but am apt rather to impute it to an obstinate, and, as it were, superstitious attachment to long-established practices, and to a settled contempt and hatred to all innovations, especially such as are projected by landsmen, or persons residing on shore.
We crossed the equinoctial, with a fine fresh gale at N.E. on Friday, the 28th November, at four in the morning, being thus, by estimation, in long. 27 deg. 59' W. from London. In the morning of the 2d December, we saw a sail in the N.W. and made the Gloucester's and Tryal's signals to chase; and half an hour after, let out our reefs, and chased with the rest of the squadron. About noon a signal was made for the Wager to take our remaining victualler, the Ann pink, in tow; but, at seven in the evening, finding we did not near the chase, and that the Wager was very far astern, we shortened sail, and recalled the chasing ships. Next day but one we again discovered a sail, which, on a nearer approach, we judged to be the same vessel. We chased her the whole day, and though we rather gained upon her, night came on before we could overtake her, which obliged us to give over the chase, to collect the scattered squadron. We were much chagrined at the escape of this vessel, supposing her to have been an advice-boat from Old Spain to Buenos Ayres, sent to give notice of our expedition: But we have since learnt that it was our East-India Company's packet, bound to St Helena.
On the 10th December, being by our reckoning in lat. 20 deg. S. and long. 36 deg. 30' W. from London, the Tryal fired a gun to denote soundings. We immediately tried, and found sixty fathoms, the bottom coarse ground with broken shells. The Tryal, which was a-head of us, had at one time thirty-seven fathoms, which afterwards increased to ninety, after which she had no bottom; which happened to us also at our second trial, though we sounded with a line of 150 fathoms. This is the shoal laid down in most charts by the name of the Abrollos, and it appeared we were upon its verge; perhaps farther in it may be extremely dangerous. We were then, by our different accounts, from sixty to ninety leagues east of the coast of Brazil. Next day but one we spoke a Portuguese brigantine from Rio Janeiro bound to Bahia de todos los Santos, by which we learnt that we were thirty-four leagues from Cape St Thomas, and forty from Cape Frio; which latter bore from us W.S.W. By our own accounts we were nearly eight leagues from Cape Frio; and though, on the information of this brig, we altered our course, standing more southerly, yet, by our coming in with the land afterwards, we were fully convinced that our own reckoning was more correct than that of the Portuguese. After passing lat. 16 deg. S. we found a considerable current setting to the southward. The same took place all along the coast of Brazil, and even to the southward of the Rio Plata, amounting sometimes to thirty miles in twenty-four hours, and once to above forty miles. If, as is most probable, this current be occasioned by the running off of the water which is accumulated on the coast of Brazil by the constant sweeping of the eastern trade-wind over the Ethiopic Ocean, it were then most natural to suppose that its general course must be determined by the bearings of the adjacent shores. Perhaps in every instance of currents the same may hold true, as I believe there are no examples of any considerable currents at any great distance from land. If this could be ascertained as a general principle, it might be easy by their assistance and the observed latitude, to correct the reckoning. But it were much to be wished, for the general interests of navigation, that the actual settings of the different currents in various parts of the world were examined more frequently and more accurately than appears to have been done hitherto.
[Footnote 1: In the map of the world by Arrowsmith, the Abrolhos are made a cluster of islands off the coast of Brazil, in lat. 18 deg. 10' S. long. 39 deg. W. from Greenwich.—E.]
We began now to grow impatient for a sight of land, both for the recovery of our sick, and for the refreshment and security of those who still continued in health. When we left. St Helens, we were in so good a condition that we only lost two men in the Centurion in our long run to Madeira. But in this run, from Madeira to St Catharines, we were remarkably sickly, so that many died, and great numbers were confined to their hammocks, both in our ship and the others, and several of these past all hopes of recovery. The disorders they in general laboured under were those common to hot climates, and which most ships bound to the south experience in a greater or less degree. These were the fevers usually called calentures, a disease not only terrible in its first instance, but of which the remains often proved fatal to those who considered themselves as recovered; for it always left them in a very weak and helpless condition, and usually afflicted with fluxes or tenesmus. By our continuance at sea all these complaints were every day increasing; so that it was with great joy we discovered the coast of Brazil on the 18th December, at seven in the morning.
The coast of Brazil appeared high and mountainous, extending from W. to W.S.W. and when we first saw it, the distance was about seventeen leagues. At noon we could perceive a low double land, bearing W.S.W. about ten leagues distant, which we took to be the island of St Catharines. That afternoon and the next morning, the wind being N.N.W. we gained very little to windward, and were apprehensive of being driven to leeward of the island: But next day, a little before noon, the wind came about to the southward, and enabled us to steer in between the N. point of St Catharines and the neighbouring island of Alvoredo. As we stood in for the land we had regular soundings, gradually decreasing from thirty-six to twelve fathoms, all muddy ground. In this last depth of water we let go our anchor at five in the evening of the 18th, the N.W. part of St Catharines bearing S.S.W. three miles off; and the island of Alvoredo N.N.E. distant two leagues. Here we found the tide to set S.S.E. and N.N.W. at the rate of two knots, the tide of flood coming from the southward.
[Footnote 2: There is an error in date here, as it has been already said they first got sight of the coast of Brazil on the 18th, obviously two days before. Hence, if the former date be right, this ought to be the 20th.—E.]
We could perceive from our ships two fortifications at a considerable distance from us, which seemed intended to prevent the passage of an enemy between the island of St Catharines and the main. We could also soon see that our squadron had alarmed the coast, as the two forts hoisted their colours and fired several guns, signals, as we supposed, for assembling the inhabitants. To prevent any confusion, the commodore immediately sent an officer to compliment the governor, and to request a pilot to conduct our ships into the road. The governor returned a very civil answer, and ordered us a pilot. On the morning of the 20th we weighed and stood in, and the pilot came aboard of us about noon, and the same afternoon brought us to anchor in five and a half fathoms, in a commodious bay on the continent, called by the French Bon-port. From our last anchorage to this, we found every where an oozy bottom, the water first regularly decreasing to five fathoms, and then increasing to seven, after which we had five and six fathoms alternately. The squadron weighed again next morning, in order to run above the two fortifications formerly mentioned, which are called the castles of Santa Cruiz and St Joam. Our soundings between the island and the main were four, five, and six fathoms, with muddy ground. We saluted the castle of Santa Cruiz in passing with eleven guns, and were answered with an equal number. At one in the afternoon of the 21st December, the squadron came to anchor in five fathoms and a half, Governor's Isle bearing N.N.W. St Joam's castle N.E. 1/2 E. and the island of St Antonio S. At this time the squadron was sickly, and in great want of refreshments, both of which we hoped to have speedily remedied at this settlement, celebrated by former navigators for its healthiness and abundance of provisions, and for the freedom, indulgence, and friendly assistance given here to all the ships of nations in amity with the crown of Portugal.
Proceedings at St Catharines, and a Description of that Place, with a short Account of Brazil.
Our first care after mooring the ships was to get our sick men on shore; preparatory for which each ship was ordered by the commodore to erect two tents, one for the reception of the sick, and the other for the surgeon and his assistants. We sent eighty sick on shore from the Centurion, and I believe the other ships sent as many in proportion to the number of their hands. As soon as this necessary duty was performed, we scraped our decks, and gave our ship a thorough cleansing, then smoaked it between decks, and lastly washed every part with vinegar. These operations were extremely necessary for correcting the noisome stench on board, and destroying the vermin; for, from the number of our men and the heat of the climate, both these nuisances had increased upon us to a very loathsome degree, and, besides being most intolerably offensive, were doubtless in some sort productive of the sickness we had laboured under for a considerable time before our arrival at this island.
[Footnote 3: This matter is now infinitely better regulated in the British navy, and with most admirable and infinitely important advantages. By the most minute, sedulous, and perpetual attention to cleanliness, all noisome stench and all vermin are prevented, by which doubtless diseases are in a great measure lessened.—E.]
Our next employment was wooding and watering the squadron, caulking the sides and decks of the ships, overhawling the rigging, and securing our masts against the tempestuous weather we were, in all probability, to meet with in going round Cape Horn at so advanced and inconvenient a season. Before proceeding in the narrative of our voyage, it may be proper to give some account of the present state of the island of St Catharines and the neighbouring country; both because the circumstances of the place have materially changed from what they were in the time of former writers, and as these changes laid us under many more difficulties and perplexities than we had reason to expect, or than other British ships, bound hereafter to the South Sea, may perhaps think it prudent to struggle with.
This island is nine leagues from N. to S. and two from E. to W. It extends from lat. 27 deg. 35' to 28 deg. both S. and is in long. 49 deg. 45' W. from London. Although of considerable height, it is scarcely discernible at the distance of ten leagues, being obscured under the continent of Brazil, the mountains of which are exceedingly high; but on a nearer approach is easily distinguished, and may be readily known by having a number of small islands at each end. Frezier has given a draught of the island of St Catharines and the neighbouring coast, with the smaller adjacent isles; but has, by mistake, called the island of Alvoredo St Gal; whereas the true island of St Gal is seven or eight miles northward of Alvoredo, and much smaller. He has also called an island to the southward of St Catharines Alvoredo, and has omitted the island of Masaquara. In other respects his plan is sufficiently exact. The best entrance to the harbour is between the N.E. point of the island of St Catharines and the island of Alvoredo, where ships may pass under the guidance of the lead, without the least apprehensions of danger. The north entrance is about five miles broad, the distance from thence to the island of St Antonio is eight miles, and the coarse to that island is S.S.W. 1/2 W. About the middle of the island the harbour is contracted to a narrow channel by two points of land, not more than a quarter of a mile separate, and at this time a battery was erecting on the point on the island side to defend this passage. This seemed, however, a very useless work, as this channel had only two fathoms water, and is consequently only navigable for barks and boats, wherefore an enemy could have no inducement to attempt this passage, more especially as the northern one is so broad and safe that no squadron can be prevented from coming in by any fortifications whatever, when the sea-breeze makes. The brigadier Don Jose Sylva de Paz, who is governor of this settlement, has a different opinion; for, besides the above-mentioned battery, there were three other forts carrying on for the defence of the harbour, none of which were completed when we were there. The first of these, called St Joam, was building on a point of the island of St Catharines, near Parrot Island. The second, in form of a half-moon, was on the island of St Antonio; and the third, which seemed the chief, and had some appearance of a regular fortification, is on an island near the continent, where the governor resides. Don Jose Sylva de Paz was esteemed an expert engineer; and he doubtless understood one branch of his business very well, which is the advantages which new works bring to those who have charge of their erection.
[Footnote 4: This account of the matter is very erroneous. The latitudes are between 28 deg. 5' and 28 deg. 30' both S. and the longitude is 49 deg. 10' W. from Greenwich.—E.]
[Footnote 5: The more elaborate nautical description of this island is necessarily omitted, as referring to two extensive views, without which the description would be unintelligible.—E.]
The soil of this island is truly luxuriant, producing many kinds of fruits spontaneously, and is covered over with one continued forest of trees, in perpetual verdure, and which, from the exuberant fertility of the soil, are so entangled with thorns, briars, and underwood, as to form an absolutely impenetrable thicket, except by some narrow paths which the inhabitants have opened for their own convenience; and these, with a few spots cleared for plantations, along that side of the island which faces the continent, are the only uncovered parts of the island. The woods are extremely fragrant, from the many aromatic trees and shrubs with which they abound, and here the fruits and vegetables of all climates thrive, almost without culture, and are to be had in great plenty, so that there is no want of pine-apples, peaches, grapes, oranges, lemons, citrons, melons, apricots, and plantains; there is also abundance of onions and potatoes, two productions of no small consideration for sea-stores. The flesh provisions are, however, much inferior to the vegetables. There are, indeed, small wild cattle to be purchased, something like buffaloes, but these are very indifferent food, their flesh being of a loose texture, and generally of a disagreeable flavour, probably owing to their feeding on wild calabash. There are also abundance of pheasants, but they are not to be compared in taste to those we have in England. The other provisions of the place are monkeys, parrots, and, above all, fish of various sorts: These abound in the harbour, and are both exceedingly good and easily caught, as there are numerous sandy bays, very convenient for haling the seyne.
The water, both on the island and the opposite continent, is excellent, and preserves at sea as well as that of the Thames. After it has been a day or two in the cask, it begins to purge itself, stinks most abominably, and is soon covered over with a green scum, which subsides in a few days to the bottom, leaving the water perfectly sweet, and as clear as crystal. The French first brought this place into repute during their South-Sea trade in the reign of Queen Anne, and usually wooded and watered in Bon-port, on the continental side of the harbour, where they anchored in great safety in six fathoms, and this is doubtless the most commodious station for ships that are meant only for a short stay. We watered on the St Catharine's side, at a plantation opposite to the island of St Antonio.
Such are the advantages of this island; but it has its inconveniences also, partly proceeding from its climate, but more particularly from its new regulations and the form of its government, as lately established. In regard to the climate, it must be remembered that the woods and hills which surround the harbour prevent a free circulation of air, and the continual vigorous vegetation furnishes such a prodigious quantity of vapour, that a thick fog covers the whole country all night, and a great part of the morning, continuing till either the sun gathers strength to dissipate it, or it is dispersed by a brisk sea-breeze. This renders the place close and humid, and probably occasioned the many fevers and fluxes we were there afflicted with. I must not omit to add, that we were pestered all day by vast numbers of mosquetoes, which are not much unlike the gnats in England, but much more venomous in their stings. At sunset, when the musquetoes retired, they were succeeded by an infinity of sand-flies, which made a mighty buzzing, though scarcely discernable by the naked eye; wherever these bite, they raise a small lump attended by painful itching, like that arising from the bite of an English harvest bug. The only light in which this place deserves our consideration is its favourable situation for supplying and refreshing our cruizers bound for the South Sea, and in this view its greatest inconveniences remain to be related, to do which more distinctly, it may not be amiss to consider the changes which it has lately undergone, both in its inhabitants, its police, and its governor.
In the time of Frazier and Shelvocke, this place served only as a retreat to vagabonds and outlaws, who fled hither from all parts of Brazil. It is true, that they acknowledged their subjection to the crown of Portugal, and had a person among them whom they called their captain, and who was considered as a kind of governor; but both their allegiance to their king, and their obedience to the captain, were merely verbal; for, as they had plenty of provisions and no money, they were in a condition to support themselves without aid from any neighbouring settlements, and had nothing among them to tempt any neighbouring governor to interpose his authority among them. In this situation they were extremely hospitable and friendly to such foreign ships as came among them; for, as these ships wanted only provisions, of which the natives had great store, while the natives wanted clothes, for they often despised money, and refused to take it, the ships furnished them with apparel in exchange for their provisions, both sides finding their account in this traffic, and their captain had neither interest nor power to tax or restrain it.
Of late, for reasons which will afterwards appear, these honest vagabonds have been obliged to receive a new colony among them, and to submit to new laws and a new form of government. Instead of their former ragged and bare-legged captain, whom they took care, however, to keep innocent, they have now the honour of being governed by Don Jose Sylva de Paz, a brigadier of the armies of Portugal, who is accompanied by a garrison of soldiers, and has consequently a more extensive and better supported power than any of his predecessors: And as he wears better cloaths, lives more splendidly, and has a much better knowledge of the importance of money than any of them could ever pretend to, so he puts in practice certain methods for procuring it with which they were utterly unacquainted; yet it may be much doubted if the inhabitants consider these methods as tending to promote either their interests, or that of their sovereign, the king of Portugal. This much is certain, that his behaviour cannot but be extremely embarrassing to such British ships as touch here in their way to the South Seas.
One of his practices was, that he placed centinels at all the avenues, to prevent the people from selling us any refreshments, except at such exorbitant rates as we could not afford to give. His pretence for this extraordinary stretch of power was, that he was obliged to preserve their provisions for upwards of an hundred families, which were daily expected as a reinforcement to the colony. Thus he seems no novice in his profession, by his readiness at inventing a plausible pretence for his interested management. This circumstance, however, though sufficiently provoking, was far from being the most exceptionable part of his conduct; for, as by the neighbourhood of the Rio Plata, a considerable smuggling trade is carried on between the Portuguese and Spaniards, especially in exchanging gold for silver, by which both princes are defrauded of their fifths; and as Don Jose was deeply engaged in this prohibited commerce, in order to ingratiate himself with his Spanish correspondents, he treacherously dispatched an express to Buenos Ayres, where Pizarro then lay, with an account of our arrival, our strength, the number, of our ships, guns, men, and every circumstance he could suppose our enemy desirous of being acquainted with.
This much, and what we shall have to relate in the course of our own proceedings, may suffice as to the present state of St Catharines and the character of its governor. But as the reader may wish to know the reasons for the late new modelling of this settlement, it will require, to explain this circumstance, to give a short account of the adjacent continent of Brazil, and of the wonderful discoveries which have been made within the last forty years, which, from a country of but mean estimation, has rendered it now perhaps the most considerable colony on the face of the earth.
This country was first discovered by Americus Vesputio, a Florentine, who had the good fortune to be honoured by giving his name to the immense continent found out some time before by Columbus. As Vesputio was in the service of Portugal, this discovery was settled and planned by that nation, and afterwards devolved to the crown of Spain along with the rest of the Portuguese dominions. During the long war between Spain and the states of Holland, the Dutch possessed themselves of the northermost parts of Brazil, and kept it for some years; but, when the Portuguese revolted from the Spanish government, this country took part in the revolt, and the Dutch were soon driven out of their acquisitions; since which time it has continued without interruption under the crown of Portugal. Till the beginning of the present century, it was only productive of sugar and tobacco, and a few other commodities of very little importance; but has been lately discovered to abound in the two mineral productions, gold and diamonds, which mankind hold in the highest estimation, and which they exercise their utmost art and industry in acquiring.
Gold was first found in the mountains adjacent to the city of Rio Janeiro. The occasion of its discovery is variously related, but the most common account is, that the Indians dwelling on the back of the Portuguese settlements were observed, by the soldiers employed in an expedition against them, to use this metal for fish-hooks; and, on enquiry into their manner of procuring this precious metal, it appeared that great quantities of it were annually washed from the hills, and left among the sand and gravel which remained in the vallies after the running off or evaporation of the water. It is now [in 1740] little more than forty years since any quantities of gold, worth notice, have been imported from Brazil to Europe; but, since that time, the annual imports have been continually augmented by the discovery of places in other provinces, where it is to be met with as plentifully as at first about Rio Janeiro. It is alleged that a slender vein of gold spread through all the country, at about twenty-four feet below the surface, but that this vein is too thin and poor to answer the expence of digging. However, where the rivers or rains have had any course for a considerable time, there gold is always to be collected, the water having separated the metal from the earth, and deposited it in the sands, thereby saving the expence of digging; hence it is esteemed an infallible gain to be able to divert a stream from its channel, and ransack its bed. From this account of the manner of gathering gold, it should follow that there are no mines of this metal in Brazil, and this the governor of Rio Grande, who happened to be at St Catharines, and frequently visited Mr Anson, did most confidently affirm, assuring us that all the gold was collected from rivers, or from the beds of torrents after floods. It is indeed asserted that large rocks are found in the mountains abounding in gold, and I have seen a fragment of one of these rocks having a considerable lump of gold entangled in it; but, even in this case, the workmen only break off the rocks, and do not properly mine into them; and the great expence of subsisting among these mountains, and in afterwards separating the metal from the stone, occasions this method of procuring gold to be but rarely put in practice.
[Footnote 3: The author ought here to have said, a thin layer, or stratum, to express the obvious meaning intended in the text.—E.]
[Footnote 4: The editor was informed, many years ago, by an intelligent native of Rio Janeiro, that the search for gold is confined by law to certain districts, on purpose to secure the royal fifth; and that all over the country round Rio Janeiro, where the search is prohibited, gold, emeralds, and aqua-marines are found in small quantities, on every occasion of digging to any depth into the earth, as for the purpose of a pit-well.—E.]
The examining the bottom of rivers and beds of torrents, and the washing the gold there found, from the sand and dirt with which it is always mixed, are performed by slaves, who are principally negroes, kept in great numbers by the Portuguese for this purpose. The regulation of the duty of these slaves is singular, as they are each of them obliged to furnish their master with the eighth part of an ounce of gold daily. If they are either so fortunate or industrious as to collect a greater quantity, the surplus becomes their own property, and they may dispose of it as they think fit; so that some negroes, who have accidentally fallen upon rich washing-places, are said to have themselves purchased slaves, and to have lived afterwards in great splendour, their original master having no other demand upon them than the daily supply of the before-mentioned eighths; which, as the Portuguese ounce is somewhat lighter than our troy ounce, may amount to about nine shillings sterling.
[Footnote 5: On the data of the text, and allowing sixty-five days in the year for Sundays and high festivals, the yearly profit of one slave to his master would be L. 135 sterling.—E.]
The quantity of gold thus collected in the Brazils and returned annually to Lisbon, may be estimated, in some degree, from the amount of the royal fifth. This has been of late computed, one year with another, at one hundred and fifty aroues, of thirty-two Portuguese pounds each, which, valued at L. 4 sterling the troy ounce, make very nearly three hundred thousand pounds sterling; and consequently the capital, of which this is the fifth, is about a million and a half sterling. It is obvious that the annual return of gold to Lisbon cannot be less than this, though it may be difficult to guess how much more it may be. Perhaps we may not be much mistaken in conjecturing that the gold exchanged with the Spaniards at Buenos Ayres for silver, and what is privately brought to Europe without paying the duty, may amount to near half a million more, which will make the entire yearly produce of Brazilian gold nearly two millions sterling; a prodigious sum to be found in a country which only a few years since was not known to furnish a single grain.
Besides gold, this country also affords diamonds, as already mentioned. The discovery of these valuable stones is much more recent even than that of gold, as it is scarcely twenty years since the first were brought to Europe. They are found in the same manner as gold, in the gullies of torrents and beds of rivers, but only in particular places, and by no means so universally spread throughout the country. They were often found while washing for gold, before they were known to be diamonds, and were consequently thrown away along with the sand and gravel; and it is well remembered that numbers of very large stones, which would have made the fortunes of the possessors, have passed unregarded through the hands of those who now impatiently support the mortifying reflection. However, about twenty years since, [that is, in 1720,] a person acquainted with the appearance of rough diamonds, conceived that these pebbles, as they were then called, were of the same kind; yet it is said there was a considerable interval between the first stating of this opinion and its confirmation, by proper examination, as it was difficult to persuade the inhabitants that what they had been long accustomed to despise, could be of such amazing importance; and in this interval, as I was told, a governor of one of these places procured a good number of these stones, which he pretended to make use of as markers at cards. The truth of the discovery was at last confirmed by skilful jewellers in Europe, who were consulted on the occasion, and who declared that these Brazilian pebbles were true diamonds, many of which were not inferior in lustre, or other qualities, to those of the East Indies. On this being made known, the Portuguese in the neighbourhood of the places where these had been first discovered, set themselves to search for diamonds with great assiduity, and were hopeful of discovering them in considerable quantities, as they found large rocks of crystal in many of the mountains whence the streams proceeded that washed down the diamonds.
[Footnote 6: The author writes as of the year 1740.—E.]
Soon after this discovery, it was represented to the king of Portugal, that if diamonds should be met with in such abundance as their sanguine expectations seemed to indicate, their value and estimation would be so debased as to ruin all the Europeans who had any quantity of East India diamonds in their possession, and would even render the discovery itself of no importance, and prevent his majesty from deriving any advantages from it. On these considerations, his majesty thought proper to restrain the general search for diamonds, and erected a diamond company, with an exclusive charter for this purpose; in which company, in consideration of a sum of money paid to the king, the property of all diamonds found in Brazil is vested: But, to hinder them from collecting too large quantities, and thereby reducing their value in the market, they are prohibited from employing above eight hundred slaves in this search. To prevent any of his other subjects from continuing the search, and to secure the company against interlopers, a large town, and considerable surrounding district, has been depopulated; and all the inhabitants, said to have amounted to six thousand, have been obliged to remove to another part of the country: For as this town and district were in the neighbourhood of the diamonds, it was thought impossible to prevent such a number of people from frequently smuggling, if allowed to reside on the spot.
In consequence of these important discoveries in Brazil, new laws, new governments, and new regulations, have been established in many parts of the country. Not long ago there was a considerable track of country possessed by a set of inhabitants called Paulists, from the name of their principal settlement, who were almost independent of the crown of Portugal, to which it scarcely ever acknowledged a nominal allegiance. These Paulists are said to be descendants from the Portuguese who retired from the northern part of Brazil when it was invaded and possessed by the Dutch. Being long neglected by their superiors, owing to the confusions of the times, and obliged to provide for their own security and defence, the necessity of their affairs produced a kind of government among themselves, which sufficed for their mode of life. Thus habituated to their own regulations, they became fond of independence, so that, rejecting the mandates of the court of Lisbon, they were often engaged in a state of downright rebellion; and, owing to the mountains surrounding their country, and the difficulty of clearing the few passes leading towards it, they were generally able to make their own terms before they submitted. But as gold was found in this country of the Paulists, the present king of Portugal, in whose reign almost all these great discoveries have been made, thought it necessary to reduce this province, now become of great importance, under the same dependence and obedience with the rest of the country, which was at length effected, though, as I was informed, with great difficulty.
The same motives which induced his majesty to reduce the Paulists, have also occasioned the changes which I have mentioned as having taken place at the island of St Catharines: For, as we were assured by the governor of Rio Grande, there are considerable rivers in this neighbourhood that are found to be extremely rich in gold, for which reason a military governor with a garrison have been placed here, along with a new colony; and, as the harbour at this island is by much the largest and most secure of any on the coast, it is not improbable, if the riches of the neighbourhood answer their present expectation, that it may become in time the principal settlement in Brazil, and the most considerable port in all South America.
This much I thought necessary to insert, in relation to the present state of Brazil and of the island of St Catharines; for, as this last place has been generally recommended as the most eligible place for our cruizers to refresh at when bound to the South Sea, I believed it to be my duty to instruct my countrymen in the hitherto unsuspected inconveniences which attend that place. And, as the Brazilian gold and diamonds are subjects of novelty, of which very few particulars have hitherto been published, I considered that the account I have been able to collect respecting them might not be regarded either a trifling or useless digression.
When we first arrived at St Catharines, we were employed in refreshing our sick on shore, in wooding and watering the squadron, in cleaning our ships, and in examining and securing our masts and rigging, as formerly mentioned. At the same time Mr Anson gave orders that the ships companies should be supplied with fresh meat, and have a full allowance of all kinds of provisions. In consequence of these orders we had fresh meat sent on board continually for our daily expenditure; and every thing else that was wanting to make up our allowances, was received from the Anna Pink, our victualler, in order to preserve the provisions on board the ships of the squadron as entire as possible for future service. As the season of the year grew every day less favourable for our passage round Cape Horn, Mr Anson was very anxious to leave St Catharines as soon as possible, and we were at first in hopes that all our business would be concluded, and we should be in readiness to sail, in about a fortnight from our arrival; but, on examining the masts of the Tryal, we found, to our no small vexation, inevitable employment for twice that time; for, on a survey, her main-mast was sprung at the upper woulding, though that was thought capable of being secured by means of two fishes; but the fore-mast was reported entirely unfit for service, on which the carpenters were sent into the woods in search of a stick proper for a new foremast. After a search of four days, nothing could be found fit for the purpose; wherefore, on a new consultation, it was agreed to endeavour to secure the mast by three fishes, in which work the carpenters were employed till within a day or two of our departure. In the meantime, thinking it necessary to have a clean vessel, on our arrival in the South Sea, the commodore ordered the Tryal to be hove down, which occasioned no loss of time, as it might be completed while the carpenters were refitting her masts on shore.
A sail being discovered in the offing on the 27th December, and not knowing but she might be Spanish, the eighteen-oared boat was manned and armed, and sent under the command of our second lieutenant, to examine her before she got within the protection of the forts. She proved to be a Portuguese brigantine from Rio Grande; and, though our officer behaved with the utmost civility to the master, and even refused to accept a calf which the master pressed him to accept, the governor took great offence at the sending our boat, talking of it in a high strain, as a violation of the peace subsisting between the crowns of Great Britain and Portugal. We thus attributed this blustering to no deeper cause than the natural insolence of Don Jose; but when he charged our officer with behaving rudely, and attempting to take by violence the calf which he had refused as a present, we had reason to suspect that he purposely sought this quarrel, and had more important objects in view than the mere captiousness of his temper. What these motives might be we had then no means of determining, or even guessing at; but we afterwards found, by letters which fell into our hands when in the South-Seas, that he had dispatched an express to Pizarro, who then lay in the Rio Plata, with an account of our arrival at St Catharines, together with a most ample and circumstantial account of our force and condition. We then conceived, that Don Jose had raised this groundless clamour on purpose to prevent us from visiting the brigantine when she should go away again, lest we might have found proofs of his perfidy, and perhaps have discovered the secret of his smuggling correspondence with his neighbouring governors, and with the Spaniards at Buenos Ayres.
It was near a month before the Tryal was refitted; for not only were her lower-masts defective, but her main-topmast and fore-yard were likewise found rotten. While this work was going on, the other ships of the squadron set up new standing-rigging, together with a sufficient number of preventer shrowds to each mast, to secure them in the most effectual manner. Also, in order to render the ships stiffer, to enable them to carry more sail abroad, and to prevent them from straining their upper works in hard gales of wind, the several captains were ordered to put some of their great guns into their holds. These precautions being complied with, and all the ships having taken in as much wood and water as there was room for, the Tryal was at last completed, and the whole squadron was ready for sea: On which the tents on shore were struck, and all the sick removed on board. We had here a melancholy proof how much the healthiness of this place was over-rated by former writers; for, though the Centurion had alone buried no less than twenty-eight of her men since our arrival, yet, in the same interval, the number of her sick had increased from eighty to ninety-six.
All being embarked, and every thing prepared for our departure, the commodore made the signal for all captains, and delivered them their orders, containing the successive places of rendezvous from hence to the coast of Chili. Next day, being the 18th of January, 1741, the signal was made for weighing, and the squadron put to sea; leaving this island of St Catharines without regret, as we had been extremely disappointed in our accommodations and expectatations of refreshment, and in the humane and friendly offices we had been taught to look for, in a place so much celebrated for its hospitality, freedom, and convenience.
The Run from St Catharines to Port St Julian; with some Account of that Port, and of the Country to the South of the Rio Plata.
In quitting St Catharines, we left the last amicable port we proposed to touch at, and were now proceeding to a hostile, or at best a desert and inhospitable coast. As we were to expect a more boisterous climate to the southward than any we had yet experienced, not only our danger of separation would by this means be much augmented, but other accidents of a more mischievous nature were also to be apprehended, and as much as possible provided against. Mr Anson, therefore, in appointing the various stations at which the ships of the squadron were to rendezvous, had considered that his own ship might be disabled from getting round Cape Horn, or might be lost, and gave therefore proper directions, that, even in that case, the expedition might not be abandoned. The orders delivered to the captains, the day before sailing from St Catharines, were, in case of separation, which they were to endeavour to avoid with the utmost care, that the first place of rendezvous was to be Port St Julian, describing the place from Sir John Narborough's account of it. They were there to provide as much salt as they could take on board, both for their own use and that of the other ships of the squadron; and, if not joined by the commodore after a stay of ten days, they were then to pass through the straits of Le Maire and round Cape Horn into the South-Seas, where the next place of rendezvous was to be the island of Nostra Senora del Socoro, in lat. 45 deg. S. long. 71 deg. 12' W. from the Lizard. They were to bring this island to bear E.N.E. and to cruize from five to twelve leagues distance from it, as long as their store of wood and water would permit, both of which they were directed to expend with the utmost frugality. When under the necessity of procuring a fresh supply, they were to stand in, and endeavour to find an anchorage; and in case they could not, and the weather made it dangerous to supply the ships by standing off and on, they were then to make the best of their way to the island of Juan Fernandez in lat. 33 deg. 37' S. at which island, after recruiting their wood and water, they were to cruize off the anchorage for fifty-six days; and, if not joined by the commodore in that time, they were to conclude that some accident had befallen him, and were forthwith to put themselves under the command of the senior officer, who was to use his utmost endeavour to annoy the enemy both by sea and land. In this view, the new commander was urged to continue in these seas as long as provisions lasted, or as they could be supplied by what could be taken from the enemy, reserving only a sufficiency to carry the ships to Macao, at the entrance of the river of Canton on the coast of China; whence, being supplied with a new stock of provisions, they were to make the best of their way to England. As it was found still impossible to unload the Anna Pink, our victualler, the commodore gave her master instructions for the same rendezvouses, and similar orders to put himself under the command of the remaining senior officer.
[Footnote 1: The centre of the island of Socoro, or Guayteca, on the western coast of Patagonia, is in lat. 43 deg. 10' S. and long. 73 deg. 40' W. from Greenwich.—E.]
Under these orders, the squadron sailed from St Catharines on Sunday the 18th of January, 1741. Next day we had very squally weather, attended with rain, lightning, and thunder; but it soon cleared up again, with light breezes, and continued so to the evening of the 21st, when it again blew fresh, and, increasing all night, it became a most violent storm by next morning, accompanied by so thick a fog that it was impossible for us to see to the distance of two ships lengths, and we consequently lost sight of all the squadron. On this a signal was made, by firing guns, to bring to with the larboard tacks, the wind being due east. We in the Centurion handed the top-sails, bunted the main-sail, and lay to under a reefed-mizen till noon, when the fog dispersed, and we soon discovered all the ships of the squadron, except the Pearl, which did not join till near a month afterwards. The Tryal was a great way to leeward, having lost her main-mast in the squall, and having been obliged to cut away the wreck, for fear of bilging. We therefore bore down with the squadron to her relief, and the Gloucester was ordered to take her in tow, as the weather did not entirely abate till next day, and even then a great swell continued from the eastward, in consequence of the preceding storm. After this accident we continued to the southward with little interruption, finding the same setting of the current we had observed before our arrival at St Catharines; that is, we generally found ourselves about twenty miles to the southward of our reckoning by the log every day. This, with some inequality, lasted till we had passed the latitude of the Rio Plata, and even then the same current, however difficult to be accounted for, undoubtedly continued; for we were not satisfied in attributing this appearance to any error in our reckoning, but tried it more than once, when a calm rendered it practicable.
Immediately on getting to the south of the latitude of the Rio Plata we had soundings, which continued all along the coast of Patagonia. These soundings, when well ascertained, being of great use in determining the position of a ship on this coast, and as we tried them more frequently, in greater depths, and with more attention, than I believe had ever been done before, I shall recite our observations on this subject as succinctly as I can. In lat. 36 deg. 52' S. we had 60 fathoms on a bottom of fine black and grey sand: From thence to 39 deg. 55' S. we varied our depths from 50 to 80 fathoms, but always with the same bottom: Between the last-mentioned latitude and 43 deg. 16' S. we had only fine grey sand with the same variation of depths, except that we once or twice lessened the water to 40 fathoms. After this we continued in 40 fathoms for about half a degree, having a bottom of coarse sand and broken shells, at which time we were in sight of land at not above seven leagues distance. As we edged from the land we had a variety of soundings; first black sand, then muddy, and soon after rough ground with stones: But when we had increased our depth to forty-eight fathoms, we had a muddy bottom to the lat. of 46 deg. 10' S. Hence drawing near the shore, we had at first thirty-six fathoms, and still kept shoaling till we came into twelve fathoms, having constantly small stones and pebbles at the bottom.
Part of this time we had a view of Cape Blanco, in about lat. 47 deg. 10' S. and long. 69 deg. W. from London. Steering from hence S. by E. nearly, we deepened our water to fifty fathoms in a run of about thirty leagues, without once altering the bottom; and then drawing towards the shore, with a S.W. course, varying rather westward, we had constantly a sandy bottom till we came to thirty fathoms, when we had again a sight of land in about lat. 48 deg. 31' S. We made this land on the 17th February, and came to anchor at five that afternoon in lat. 48 deg. 58' S. with the same soundings as before; the southermost land then in view bearing S.S.W. the northermost N.E. a small island N.W. and the westermost hummock W.S.W. At this anchorage we found the tide to set S. by W.
[Footnote 2: Cape Blanco is in lat 47 deg. 20' S. long. 64 deg. 30' W. from Greenwich. At this place, instead of a description of Cape Blanco, the original gives two views of the coast in different directions, as seen from sea; here omitted for reasons already assigned.—E.]
We weighed anchor at five next morning, and an hour afterwards descried a sail, which was soon found to be the Pearl, which had separated from us a few days after leaving St Catharines. Yet she increased her sail and stood away from the Gloucester; and when she came up, the people of the Pearl had their hammocks in their netting, and every thing ready for an engagement. The Pearl joined us about two in the afternoon, and running up under our stern, Lieutenant Salt informed the commodore that Captain Kidd had died on the 31st of January. He likewise said that he had seen five large ships on the 10th of this month, which he for some time imagined had been our squadron, insomuch that he suffered the commanding ship, which wore a red broad pendant exactly resembling that of our commodore at the main top-mast head, to come within gun-shot of the Pearl before he discovered the mistake; but then, finding it was not the Centurion, he haled close upon a wind and crowded from theirs with all sail; and standing across a rippling, where they hesitated to follow, he happily escaped. He had made them out to be five Spanish ships of war, one of which was so exceedingly like the Gloucester that he was under great apprehension when chased now by the Gloucester. He thought they consisted of two seventy-gun ships, two of fifty, and one of forty; the whole of which squadron chased him all that day, but at night, finding they could not get near, they gave over the chase and stood away to the southward.
Had we not been under the necessity of refitting the Tryal, this intelligence would have prevented our making any stay at St Julians; but as it was impossible for that sloop to proceed round Cape Horn in her present condition, some stay there became inevitable; and therefore we came to an anchor again the same evening in twenty-five fathoms, the bottom a mixture of mud and sand, a high hummock bearing from us S.W. by W. Weighing at nine next morning, we sent the cutters of the Centurion and Severn in shore to discover the harbour of St Julian, while the ships kept standing along the coast about a league from the land. At six in the evening we anchored in the bay of St Julian, in nineteen fathoms, the bottom muddy ground with sand, the northermost land in sight bearing N. by E. the S. 1/2 E. and the high hummock, called Wood's Mount by Sir John Narborough, W.S.W. The cutters returned soon after, having discovered the harbour, which did not appear to us where we lay, the northermost point shutting in upon the southermost, and closing the entrance in appearance.
Our principal object in coming to anchor in this bay was to refit the Tryal, in which business the carpenters were immediately employed. Her main-mast had been carried away about twelve feet below the cap, but they contrived to make the remainder of the mast serve. The Wager was directed to supply her with a spare main-top-mast, which the carpenters converted into a new fore-mast. And I cannot help observing, that this accident to the Tryal's masts, which gave us so much uneasiness at the time on account of the delay it occasioned, was the means, in all probability, of preserving this sloop and all her crew. For her masts before this were much too lofty for the high southern latitudes we were proceeding into, so that, if they had weathered the preceding storm, it would have been impossible for them to have stood against the seas and tempests we afterwards encountered in passing round Cape Horn; and the loss of masts, in that boisterous climate, would scarcely have been attended with less than the loss of the vessel and all on board, as it would have been impracticable for the other ships to have given them any assistance whatever, during the continuance of these impetuous storms.
While at this place, the commodore appointed the honourable Captain Murray to succeed to the Pearl, and Captain Cheap to the Wager. He promoted Mr Charles Saunders, first lieutenant of the Centurion, to the command of the Tryal sloop; but, as Mr Saunders lay dangerously ill of a fever in the Centurion, and the surgeons considered his removal to his own ship might hazard his life, Mr Saumarez had orders to act as commander of the Tryal during the illness of Captain Saunders.
At this place, the commodore held a consultation with his captains about unloading and discharging the Anna pink; but they represented that, so far from being in a condition for taking her loading on board, their ships still had great quantities of provisions in the way of their guns between decks, and that their ships were so deep and so lumbered that they would not be fit for action without being cleared. It was therefore necessary to retain the pink in the service; and, as it was apprehended that we should meet with the Spanish squadron in passing the cape, Mr Anson ordered all the provisions that were in the way of the guns to be put on board the Anna pink, and that all the guns which had been formerly lowered into the holds, for the ease of the ships, should be remounted.
As this bay and harbour of St Julian is a convenient rendezvous, in case of separation, for all cruizers bound to the southwards, or to any part of the coast of Patagonia, from the Rio Plata to the Straits of Magellan, as it lies nearly parallel to their usual route, a short account of the singularity of this country, with a particular description of Port St. Julian, may perhaps be neither unacceptable to the curious, nor unworthy the attention of future navigators, as some of them, by unforeseen accidents, may be obliged to run in with the land and to make some stay on this coast; in which case a knowledge of the country, and of its productions and inhabitants, cannot fail to be of the utmost consequence to them.
The tract of country usually called Patagonia, or that southern portion of South America, not possessed by the Spaniards, extends from their settlements to the Straits of Magellan. This country on its eastern side, along the Atlantic ocean, from the Rio Plata southwards, is remarkable for having no trees of any kind, except a few peach trees planted by the Spaniards in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres; so that the whole eastern coast of Patagonia, extending near four hundred leagues from north to south, and as far back into the interior as any discoveries have yet been made, contains nothing that can be called by the name of wood, and only a few insignificant shrubs in some places. Sir John Narborough, who was sent out expressly by Charles II to examine this country, wintered upon this coast in Port St Julian and Port Desire, in the year 1670, and declares that he did not see a stick in the whole country large enough to make the handle of a hatchet. But, although this country be destitute of wood, it abounds in pasture, as the whole land seems made up of downs of a light dry and gravelly soil, producing great quantities of long grass, which grows in tufts, interspersed with large spots of barren gravel. In many places this grass feeds immense herds of cattle, all derived from a few European cattle brought over by the Spaniards at their first settling, which have thriven and multiplied prodigiously, owing to the abundance of herbage which they every where met with, and are now so increased and extended so far into different parts of Patagonia, that they are not considered as private property; thousands of them being slaughtered every year by the hunters, only for their hides and tallow.