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bottom, and the main top-sail shook so strongly in the wind, that it carried away the top lanthorn, and endangered the head of the mast; however, at length some of the most daring of our men ventured upon the yard, and cut the sail away close to the reefs, though with the utmost hazard of their lives. At the same time, the fore-topsail beat about the yard with so much fury, that it was soon blown to pieces; and that we might have full employment, the mainsail blew loose, which obliged us to lower down the yard to secure the sail, and the fore-yard being likewise lowered, we lay to under a mizen: and besides the loss of our topsails, we had much of our other rigging broke, and lost a main studding-sail-boom out of the chains.'
They continued during the rest of April to struggle round Cape Horn, while the scurvy raged with such violence amongst the crew, that forty-three men died during the month on board the Centurion. Other storms assailed them, and it was believed on board the commodore's vessel, that all had perished but themselves. However, on the 9th of June they reached the island of Juan Fernandes, in such a deplorable condition, that only two hundred men remained alive, out of between four and five hundred that passed the straits of Le Maire in health and vigour, and these in so wretched a condition, that seamen, officers, servants, and boys, combined, were not enough to work the ships.
At this place they found the Tryal sloop which had lost thirty-four men, and then had only three capable of doing duty. The few who remained in health were so weak, that it occupied several days to remove the sick, of whom twelve died in the boats, and six each day for the first ten or twelve days. But at last the excellent water, fish, goats' flesh, and other supplies found on the island, arrested the progress of this dreadful mortality. On the 26th of June they were joined by the Gloucester, which was brought into the harbour by the people of the Centurion, which was not effected without repeated efforts, and which employed all hands nearly a month. Scarcely a man remained fit for duty on board this vessel, and two-thirds of the crew had been thrown overboard. About
the middle of August the Anna pink came in, which was a happy circumstance, as she had the provisions for the squadron on board. This was the only ship that joined, for the Severn and Pearl had put back to the Brazils, and the Wager was wrecked to the southward of Chiloe, with one hundred and thirty persons on board; of this number thirty reached Rio Grande on the coast of Brazil, in an open boat, and four others with the captain, the island of Chiloe, all the rest being lost, drowned, and died of want and fatigue.
Here the Anna pink was broke up as unfit for sea. Still however, the crews of the three remaining vessels, which on leaving England amounted to nine hundred and sixty-one men, were reduced to three hundred and thirty-five men and boys, a number unequal for manning the Centurion alone. About the beginning of September a vessel was discovered off the island, which all concluded to be a Spaniard, on which the Centurion was towed to sea, and gave chace to the stranger which was at night lost sight off; but in a few days another vessel was discovered which was thought to be one of Pizarro's squadron, and all hands in high spirits prepared for action. She proved to be a merchantman of four hundred and fifty tons burthen, and loaden with sugar, cloth, and a quantity of dollars. From the officers Mr. Anson learned the fate of Pizarro's squadron, which was of the greatest importance. On returning to Juan Fernandes, the prize, the Carmelo, was sent to cruise on the coast, and all the other vessels were assigned different stations in order to distress the Spanish trade in those seas.
On going to sea, the Tryal took a large vessel of six hundred tons, an excellent sailer, and as the Tryal had become leaky, and lost her masts, her crew was put on board of the prize, and she was sunk. Two other prizes were afterwards taken, and by the latter it was understood that the governor of Paita had heard of their being in those seas, and was therefore sending off the treasures inland, on which Mr. Anson determined to surprise the place.
• During our preparations,' says the narrator, the ships themselves stood towards the port with all the sail they could
make, being secure that we were yet at too great a distance to be seen. But about ten o'clock at night, the ships being then within five leagues of the place, lieutenant Brett, with the boats under his command, put off, and arrived at the mouth of the bay without being discovered; but no sooner had he entered it, than some people, on board a vessel riding at anchor there, perceived him, who instantly put off in their boat rowing towards the fort, shouting and crying, the English, the English dogs, &c. by which the whole town was suddenly alarmed, and our people soon observed several lights hurrying backward and forwards in the fort, and other marks of the inhabitants being in great motion. Lieutenant Brett, on this, encouraged his men to pull briskly up to the shore, that they might give the enemy as little time as possible to prepare for their defence. However, before our boats could reach the shore, the people in the fort had got ready some of their cannon, and pointed them towards the landing-place; and though in the darkness of the night it might be well supposed that chance had a greater share than skill in their direction, yet the first shot passed extremely near one of the boats, whistling just over the heads of the crew. This made our people redouble their efforts ; so that they had reached the shore, and were in part disembarked by the time the second gun fired. As soon as our men landed, they were conducted by one of the Spanish pilots to the entrance of a narrow street, not above fifty yards distant from the beach, where they were covered from the fire of the fort ; and being formed in the best manner the shortness of the time would allow, they immediately marched for the parade, which was a large square at the end of this street, the fort being one side of the square, and the governor's house another. In this march (though performed with tolerable regularity) the shouts and clamours of threescore sailors, who had been confined so long on shipboard, and were now for the first time on shore in an enemy's country, joyous as they always are, when they land, and animated besides in the present case with the hopes of an immense pillage; the huzza's, I say, of this spirited detachment, joined with the noise of their drums, and favoured
by the night, had augmented their numbers, in the opinion of the enemy, to at least three hundred; by which persuasion the inhabitants were so greatly intimidated, that they were much more solicitous about the means of their flight than of their resistance: so that though upon entering the parade, our people received a volley from the merchants who owned the treasure then in the town, and who, with a few others had ranged themselves in a gallery that ran round the governor's house, yet that post was immediately abandoned upon the first fire made by our people, who were thereby left in quiet possession of the parade.
On this success lieutenant Brett divided his men into two parties, ordering one of them to surround the governor's house, and if possible to secure the governor, whilst he himself with the other marched to the fort, with an intent to force it. But, contrary to his expectation, he entered it without opposition ; for the enemy, on his approach, abandoned it and made their escape over the walls. By this means the whole place was mastered in less than a quarter of an hour's time from the first landing, with no other loss than that of one man killed on the spot, and two wounded ; one of which was the Spanish pilot of the Teresa, who received a slight bruise by a ball which grazed his wrist: indeed another of the company, the honourable Mr. Kepple, son to the earl of Albemarle, had a very narrow escape ; for having on a jockey cap, one side of the peak was shaved off close to his temple by a ball, which however did him no farther injury.
* And now lieutenant Brett, after this success, placed a guard at the fort, and another at the governor's house, and appointed centinels at all the avenues of the town, both to prevent any surprise from the enemy, and to secure the effects in the place from being embezzled. And this being done, his next care was to seize on the custom-house where the treasure lay, and to examine if any of the inhabitants remained in the town, that he might know what farther precautions it was necessary to take; but he soon found that the numbers left behind were no ways formidable: for the greatest part of them (being in bed when the place was surprised) had run VOL. IV.
away with so much precipitation, that they had not given themselves time to put on th-ir clothes. And in this precipitate route the governor was not the last to secure himself, for he fled betimes half naked, leaving his wife, a young lady of about seventeen years of age, to whom he had been married but three or four days, behind him, though she too was afterwards carried off in her shift by a couple of centinels, just as the detachment, ordered to invest the house, arrived before it. This escape of the governor was an unpleasing circumstance, as Mr. Anson had particularly recommended it to lieutenant Brett to secure his person, if possible, in hopes that by that means we might be able to treat for the ransom of the place : but it seems bis alertness rendered it impossible to seize hiin. The few inhabitants who remained were confined in one of the churches under a guard, except some stout negroes which were found in the place; these, instead of being shut up, were employed the remaining part of the night to assist in carrying the treasure from the custombouse and other places to the fort ; however, there was care taken that they should be always attended by a file of musqueteers.
• The transporting the treasure from the custom-house to the fort, was the principal occupation of Mr. Brett's people, after he had got possession of the place. But the sailors, while they were thus employed, could not be prevented from entering the houses which lay near them, in search of private pillage. And the first things which occurred to them, being the clothes which the Spaniards in their flight had left behind them, and which, according to the custom of the country, were most of them either embroidered or laced, our people eagerly seized these glittering habits, and put them en over their own dirty trowsers and jackets, not forgetting, at the same time, the tye or bag-wig and laced hat, which were generally found with the clothes; and when this practice was once begun, there was no preventing the whole detachment from imitating it: and those who came latest into the fashion, not finding men's clothes sufficient to equip themselves, they were obliged to take up with women's gowns and petticoats, (which pro