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two vessels, quite new from the stocks, the Desire of 120 tons, and the Content of 60 tons; adding a third, the Hugh Gallant, a bark of 40 tons; all fitted out at his own cost, provisioned for two years, and manned with 123 persons. He constituted himself admiral and commander-in-chief of this little squadron. He sailed from Plymouth on the 21st of July; arrived at Sierra Leone the 25th of August; and destroyed a negro town, in revenge for one of his men being killed by a poisoned arrow; but before this he had burnt 150 houses because of their bad dealings with the Christians. *
They called, and for a few days remained, to water at St. Sebastian, near Rio de Janeiro ; thence coasting the shore to the 48th degree of latitude, they entered a harbour to which the admiral gave the name of Port Desire, after that of his own ship. The inhabitants are described as perfect savages, of a gigantic stature; but all other information concerning them is, that one of their feet measured eighteen inches in length. “The seals too were of a wonderful great bigness, and monstrous of shape, the forepart like a lion. The young are marvellous good meat, hardly to be known from lamb or mutton.” |
Cavendish left Port Desire, and, coasting to the southward, fell in with a long sand-beach, in lat. 52° 40', reaching to the opening of a strait which * Hakluyt.
he found to be that of Magelhaens, and which the ships entered in the evening. During the night lights were observed on the north shore, which were thought to be signals, and were answered accordingly with others.
The next morning the General went in a boat to the north side of the strait, where three men were seen on the shore, who waved a white flag. They hailed in Spanish, and inquired to what country the ships belonged. They were told they were English, and Cavendish said if they wished it he would carry them to Peru; but they declined, saying they could not trust themselves with the English. On reflection, however, they thought it better to throw themselves on the mercy of Englishmen, than to perish as the greater part of their countrymen had done; and one of them came into the boat while the other two went to seek their companions. The man who remained was called Hernandez. Being asked what their number was, he replied, “Besides us three, there are fifteen others, three of whom are women.” The General then told him that if they would all go to such a point they would be received on board the ships. The wind, however, coming fair, the ships got under weigh, leaving the wretched people behind, except Hernandez; these poor people being the only remains of a Spanish colony left here three years before by Sarmiento, consisting of four hundred
men and thirty women, all of whom, except the eighteen in question, had perished for want of provisions and clothing, which, with the severity of the climate, produced disease and death. Cavendish has been censured, and perhaps justly, for leaving the remnant of these poor creatures to perish like the others.
The ships anchored before the deserted town of San Felipe to take in fresh water and wood, the latter supplied by pulling to pieces the houses or huts of the town. The poor people for whom he did not wait would probably not long survive the fate of the rest. Cavendish changed the name of its ruins to that of Port Famine. In the strait they found plenty of penguins and muscles. On coming to the mouth of a river, the General went in a boat three miles up its stream; fell in with a number of the natives, who gave him the flesh of some animal, and a friendly intercourse took place. But Hernandez told the General they were a traitorous people, who had no other design than to decoy him into an ambuscade. The next time he went on shore, as the natives were approaching, he ordered muskets to be fired at them, by which some were killed. Thus it was that an Englishman forfeited all claim to humanity at the suggestion of a worthless Spaniard, as he turned out to be. On the 24th of February Cavendish entered the South Sea.
They called at the islands of Mocha and Santa
Maria; the inhabitants of the latter, mistaking them for Spaniards, supplied them with wheat, barley, and potato-roots; they also brought them hogs, fowls, dried fish, and maize. Cavendish, in return, entertained some of the chief people on board his ship, "and made them merry with wine.” On the 18th he proceeded along the coast, intending to call at Valparaiso, but missed it, and anchored in the bay of Quintero. A shepherd, awaking from his sleep, and seeing three vessels come in, caught a horse grazing near him, mounted it, and galloped off; and in a little while three armed horsemen approached the General, who had landed with thirty of his men. He sent Hernandez with two others to meet them. The horsemen made signs for one only to come; and Hernandez, having promised to be true and faithful, and never forsake the General, was selected. On his return he said he had made his countrymen believe that they were Spaniards, and that they should be supplied with as much provisions as they could desire.
Hernandez was sent to them a second time, with an Englishman to accompany him, but they sent away the latter; and the English party observed Hernandez to jump up behind one of the horsemen, who all rode off at full gallop, leaving the English to repent of having trusted a fellow who had thus deceived them, after “all his deep and damnable
oaths, that he would never forsake them;" they had only to blame their own credulity. The next morning fifty or sixty of the English landed, and marched seven or eight miles through a fine country, without seeing either town or village, or meeting a single individual. The third day, when watering their boats at a pit a quarter of a mile from the shore, they were suddenly surprised by a body of about two hundred horsemen, who cut off twelve of their party, some of whom were killed and the rest taken prisoners. The captured Englishmen were carried to the city of Santiago, treated as pirates, and six of them hanged. After this barbarous act Cavendish may claim some excuse for the atrocities he committed against the Spaniards along the whole coast.
When near Arica, a vessel was taken with a cargo of Spanish wine, and also a small bark, which the General manned and called the Gorges. Cavendish gave up all intention of landing here, the Spaniards appearing to be well prepared. He, however, sent in a flag of truce, to know if the Spaniards would redeem their vessels; the answer was, “ No ransom; their accounts should be balanced in a different way.” Cavendish, therefore, before taking leave, set fire to his prizes. On his way to the northward, a small bark was taken with despatches from Chili to Lima, to give notice of an enemy being on the coast; the despatches had been