A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 10 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 762 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 10.

Prosecution of the Voyage, till the Death of Magellan.

Again resuming the voyage, they proceeded along the eastern shore of Patagonia to the latitude of 52 deg.  S. when the entrance into the famous straits still known under the name of Magellan were discovered, through which the squadron continued its voyage, finding these straits about 110 leagues in length, from east to west, with varying breadths, in some places very wide, and in others not more than half a league across; the land on both sides being high, rugged, and uneven, and the mountains covered with snow.  On reaching the western end of these straits, an open passage was found into the great South Sea, which sight gave Magellan the most unbounded joy, as having discovered that for which he had gone in quest, and that he was now able practicably to demonstrate what he had advanced, that it was possible to sail to the East Indies by way of the West.  To the point of land from which he first saw this so-long-desired prospect, he gave the name of Cape Desiderato. This prospect was not, however, so desirable to some of his followers; for here one of his ships stole away, and sailed homewards alone.

Magellan entered the great South Sea on the 28th November, 1620, and proceeded through that vast expanse, to which he gave the name of the Pacific Ocean, for three months and twenty days, without once having sight of land.  During a considerable part of this period they suffered extreme misery from want of provisions, such as have been seldom heard of.  All their bread and other provisions were consumed, and they were reduced to the necessity of subsisting upon dry skins and leather that covered some of the rigging of the ships, which they had to steep for some days in salt water, to render it soft enough to be chewed.  What water remained in the ships was become putrid, and so nauseous that necessity alone compelled them to use it.  Owing to these impure and scanty means of subsistence, their numbers daily diminished, and those who remained alive became exceedingly weak, low-spirited, and sickly.  In some, the gums grew quite over their teeth on both sides; so that they were unable to chew the tough leathern viands which formed their only food, and they were miserably starved to death.  Their only comfort under this dreadful state of famine was, that the winds blew them steadily and gently along, while the sea remained calm and almost unruffled, whence it got the name of Pacific, which it has ever since retained.

In all this length of time, they only saw two uninhabited islands, which shewed no signs of affording them any relief Sometimes the needle varied extremely, and at other times was so irregular in its motions, as to require frequent touches of the loadstone to revive its energy.  No remarkable star was found near the south pole, by which to ascertain the southern ordinal point, or to estimate the latitude.  Instead of an antarctic polar star, two clusters of small

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 10 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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