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stores for the use of the squadron. All these circumstances conspired to render the vessel more than usually hazardous, from the very commencement of its long voyage.
The Wager rounded Cape Horn, with the other ships in company, about the beginning of April 1741, and soon after, the distresses of the ship began. The weather became tempestuous, and the mizzenmast was carried away by a heavy sea, all the chain-plates to windward being also broken. The best bower-anchor had next to be cut away, and the ship lost sight of its companions. The men were seized with sickness and scurvy, and one evil followed another, till, on the 14th of May, about four in the morning, the ship struck on a sunken rock, and was laid on her beam-ends, with the sea breaking dreadfully over her. All who could stir, flew to the deck; but some poor creatures who could not leave their hammocks were immediately drowned. For some time, until day broke, the crew of the Wager saw nothing before or around them but breakers, and imagined that every moment would be their last.
When daylight came, land was seen not far off, and the thoughts of all were turned to the immediate leaving of the ship, and saving of their lives. With the help of the boats, the crew, with the exception of a few who were either drunk or thought the ship safe for a time, got on shore ; but the prospect before them was still a dreadful one. Whichever way we looked, a scene of horror presented itself; on one side, the wreck (in which was all that we had in the world to support and subsist us), together with a boisterous sea ; on the other, the land did not wear a much more favourable appearance ; desolate and barren, without sign of culture, we could hope to receive little other benefit from it than the preseryation it afforded us from the sea. We had wet, cold, and hunger to struggle with, and no visible remedy against any of those evils. The land on which the crew had been cast was unknown to them, excepting in so far as they were aware of its being an island near, or a part of, the western coast of South America, about a hundred leagues north of the Strait of Magellan. In all, the shipwrecked party amounted to about a hundred and forty, exclusive of the few on board. The first night was passed in an old Indian hut, and the discovery of some lances in a corner of it bred a new source of alarm-namely, from the natives. For some days afterwards, the men were busied in the attempt to get beef-casks and other things from the wreck, which did not go entirely to pieces for a considerable time, although all the articles on deck were washed ashore one by one. After great difficulty, the men who remained on board, and who indulged there in great disorder, were persuaded to come on shore. With materials got from the wreck, or cast ashore, tents were got up, and a common store-tent erected for all the food or casks of liquor got from the ship in the same way. This place was watched incessantly; for the allowance was of course a very short or small one, and the men
could scarcely pick up a morsel of fish, flesh, or fowl on the coast for themselves. The weather also continued wet and cold.
Ill-humour and discontent, from the difficulties we laboured under in procuring sustenance, and the little prospect there was of any amendment in our condition, were now breaking out apace. Some men separated themselves from the others, and ten of the hardiest of these seceders resolved to desert altogether. They got a canoe made, 'went away up one of the lagoons, and were never heard of more !' The spirit of discord was much aggravated by an accident that occurred on the roth of May. A midshipman named Cozens, who had roused the anger of Captain Cheap by various acts and words, was finally shot by his superior's hand. The act was a rash one, but the captain had cause to imagine at the moment that Cozens had openly mutinied, or was about to mutiny. This act made an unfortunate impression on the minds of the men, who found food every day growing more scarce. A few Indians, men and women, of small stature, and very swarthy, visited the party, and were of service in procuring food; but the seamen affronted their wives, and they all went away. The Indians having left us, and the weather continuing tempestuous and rainy, the distresses of the people for want of food became insupportable. Our number, which was at first one hundred and forty-five, was now reduced to one hundred, and chiefly by famine. The pressing calls of hunger drove our men to their wits' end, and put them on a variety of devices to satisfy it. Among the ingenious this way, one Phipps, a boatswain's mate, having got a water-puncheon, scuttled it; then lashing two logs, one on each side, set out in quest of adventures in this extraordinary and original piece of embarkation. He often got shell-fish and wild-fowl, but had to venture out far from land, and on one occasion was cast upon a rock, and remained there two days. A poor Indian dog belonging to Mr Byron, and which had become much attached to him, was taken by the men and devoured ; and three weeks after, its owner was glad to search for the paws, which had been thrown aside, and of which, though rotten, he made a hearty meal.
Till the 24th of September, the party continued in this condition of continually augmenting wretchedness, with only one hope of relief before them, and this resting on the long-boat, which the carpenter was incessantly working at, to bring it into a strong and safe condition. On the day mentioned, the long-boat being nearly finished, Mr Byron and a small party were sent to explore the coast to the southward, almost the whole crew being resolute to make for Magellan's Strait, although the captain wished to go along the coast to the northward. In a day or two, the party returned to the island (for such was the land on which the wreck had taken place), and the long-boat was immediately afterwards launched, with the cutter and barge, all of which boats had been saved at first. Eighty-one men entered these
boats, being the whole survivors of the party, with the exception of Captain Cheap and two companions, who remained voluntarily, and for whose use another boat, the yawl, was left. The leaving of the captain was a thing unexpected by Byron and some others; and when a necessity occurred for sending back the barge to the island for some left canvas, these parties seized the chance of going in the boat' to rejoin the captain and share his fate. On the 21st of October the final separation took place between the shore-party and those in the long-boat, who sailed for the south. Captain Cheap and those who came to him were joined by a small party who had originally seceded from the main body; and the whole of this united band, amounting to twenty men, set sail in the barge and the yawl towards the north, on the 15th of December. Up to that time, they contrived, with almost unheard-of difficulty, to subsist on what they could pick up. A weed called slaugh, fried in the tallow of some candles we had saved, and wild celery, were our only fare, by which our strength was so much impaired that we could scarcely crawl.' One fine day, the hull of the Wager, still sticking together, was exposed, and by visiting her, the party got three small casks of beef hooked up. This soon restored to them sufficient strength for their enterprise, which they undertook on the day mentioned, in the barge and yawl. Unhappily, the sea grew very tempestuous, and the men in the boats were obliged to sit as close as possible, to receive the seas on their backs, and prevent their filling us. We were obliged to throw everything overboard to lighten the boats, all our beef, and even the grapnel, to prevent sinking. Night was coming on, and we were fast running on a lee shore, where the sea broke in a frightful manner. Just as every man thought certain death approaching, an opening was seen in the rocks, the boats ran into it, and found a haven as smooth as a mill-pond !
The party remained here four days, suffering much from their old enemy, hunger. In passing further along the coast, which they did at continual risk, they were reduced to such distress as to 'eat the shoes off' their feet, these shoes being of raw sealskin. They never knew what it was to have a dry thread about them, and the climate was very cold. During the first few weeks of their course, the yawl was lost, and one man drowned; but what was a more distressing consequence, they were obliged to leave four men on shore, as the barge could not carry all. The men did not object to being left; they were wearied of their lives. When the poor fellows were left, 'they stood upon the beach, giving us three cheers, and called out God bless the king !' They were never heard of more ; and it is but too probable, as Byron says, that they met a miserable end. But, indeed, every one had now given up hope of ultimate escape, and this was shewn by the resolution taken almost immediately afterwards, to 'go back to Wager's Island (the place of shipwreck), there to linger out a miserable life.' Eating nothing but sea-weed and tangle by the way, the poor mariners again reached the island. They were here no better off. The weather was wretchedly wet, and 'wild celery was all we could procure, which raked our stomachs instead of assuaging our hunger. That dreadful and last resource of men in not much worse circumstances than ours, of consigning one man to death for the support of the rest, began to be mentioned in whispers. Fortunately, one man found some rotten pieces of beef on the sea-shore, and with a degree of generosity only to be appreciated by persons so placed, he shared it fairly with the rest.
This supply sustained the whole till the arrival of some Indians, accompanied by a chief or cacique from the island of Chiloe, which lies in 40° 42' of south latitude. This cacique could speak a little Spanish, and he agreed to conduct the party in the barge to the nearest Spanish settlement, being to receive the barge and all its contents for his trouble. Fourteen in number, the wrecked sailors again put to sea, and were conducted by their guide to the mouth of a river, which he proposed to ascend. But after toiling one whole day, the attempt to go up against the current was given over, and they were forced to try the coast again. The severe day's work, conjoined with hunger, caused the death of one of the strongest men of the party, although it was thought that he might have been preserved but for the inhumanity of Captain Cheap, who alone had food at the moment (got from the Indians), but would not give a morsel to the dying man. This roused the indignation of the others, and the consequence was, that, while others sought food on shore, "six of the men seized the boat, put off, and left us, to return no more. And now all the difficulties we had hitherto encountered seemed light in comparison of what we expected to suffer from the treachery of our men, who, with the boat, had taken away everything that might be the means of preserving our lives. Yet under these dismal and forlorn appearances was our delivery now preparing
Mr Byron was now taken, with Captain Cheap, by the Indian · guide to a native village, whence he expected to get more assistance
in conducting the party, who, if they could not recover the barge for him, were to give a musket and some other articles as a reward. On coming in the evening to the Indian wigwams, after two days' travel, Mr Byron was neglected, and left alone. Urged by want and cold, he crept into a wigwam upon chance, and found there two women, one young and the other old, whose conduct amply corroborates the well-known and beautiful eulogium passed by Ledyard upon the kindness of that sex everywhere to poor travellers. They saw the young seaman wet and shivering, and made him a fire. They brought out their only food, a large fish, and broiled it for him. When he lay down upon some dry boughs, he found, on awaking a few hours after, that the women had gently covered him
with warm clothes, at the expense of enduring the cold themselves. When he had made signs that his appetite was not appeased, they both went out, taking with them a couple of dogs, which they train to assist them in fishing. After an hour's absence, they came in trembling with cold, and their hair streaming with water, and brought two fish, which having broiled, they gave me the largest share. For a poor stranger they had just gone out in the middle of the night, plunged into the cold sea, and, with the aid of their nets or other apparatus, had got him food. These kind creatures were the wives of an old Indian, who was then absent, but who on his return struck them with brutal violence for their hospitality, Mr Byron looking on with impotent rage and indignation. The return of this Indian and his companions enabled the native guide of Captain Cheap and Byron to make an arrangement for conducting the shipwrecked party northward as they wished. The captain and Byron then left the wigwams to go back to their companions, being joined soon after by a body of Indian guides.
It was the middle of March 1742, ere this journey to the northward was begun. Various Indian canoes conveyed the whole party day after day along the sea-coast; shell-fish, eggs from the rocks, and sea-weed, being the food of the band, and even this being procurable in such miserable quantities as barely to sustain life. The condition of the captain in this respect was better than the others, for the Indians thought their reward safe if they attended to the chief of the whites alone, and he cruelly encouraged the notion. But what but selfishness could be expected from one in the following state: 'I could compare Captain Cheap's body to nothing but an ant-hill, with thousands of vermin crawling over about it; for he was now past attempting to rid himself in the least from this torment, as he had quite lost himself, not recollecting our names that were about him, or even his own. His beard was as long as a hermits, that and his face being covered with train-oil and dirt, from his sleeping, to secure them, upon pieces of stinking seal. His legs were as big as mill-posts, though his body appeared to be nothing but skin and bone. The rest were little better, and Mr Byron had often to strip himself in the midst of hail and snow, and beat his clothes with stones, to kill the insects that swarmed about him. At length, however, after one of them had sunk under his sufferings, the party got to the island of Chiloe, a place at the south extremity of the province of Chili, and under the rule of the Spaniards. Being a remote corner, Chiloe had only a few Spaniards in it, and these chiefly Jesuit priests; but the Indian inhabitants were comparatively civilised. The troubles of the party may be said to have ended here, for the natives pitied them much, and supplied them with abundance of food; fortunately, the quantity taken did not prove injurious.
Even after staying on the island for a considerable time, and being conveyed to the mainland to the town of Chaco, where a Spanish