In this woeful plight, after we had passed the equator towards the north, our men began to fall sick of a most terrible disease, such as, I believe, was never before heard of. It began with a swelling in their ankles, which in two days rose up as high as their breasts, so that they could not breathe. It then fell into the scrotum, which, with the penis, swelled in a most grievous manner, so that they could neither stand, walk, nor lie; and many of them became frantic with grief and distress. Our captain, with extreme distress of mind, was in so miserable a condition, that he wished to die; yet, while scarcely able to speak for sorrow, he continued to exhort us all to patience and reliance on God, desiring us to accept our chastisement like dutiful and thankful children. In this state of misery and wretchedness, several died raving mad, and others in a most loathsome state, or in dreadful pain and agony. None in the ship remained in perfect health, except the captain and one boy; the master also, though oppressed with extreme labour and anxiety, bore up with spirit, so that his disease did not overcome him.
At length all our men died except sixteen, five only of whom were able to move. These were, the captain, who was in good health, the master indifferent, Captain Cotton and myself swollen and short-winded, yet better than the other sick men, and the boy in good health. Upon us five the whole labour of the ship rested. The captain and master, as happened to be necessary, took in and left out the topsails. The master by himself attended to the sprit-sail, and all of us the capstan, being utterly unable to work sheets and tacks. Our misery and weakness were so extreme, that we were utterly unable to take in or set a sail; so that our top-sails and sprit-sail were at length torn in pieces by the weather. The captain and master had to take their turns at the helm, where they were inexpressibly grieved and distressed by the continual and sad lamentations of our few remaining sick men.
Thus lost wanderers on the ocean, unable to help ourselves, it pleased God, on the 11th of June, 1593, that we arrived at Beerhaven in Ireland, and ran the ship there on shore. The Irish helped us to take in our sails, and to moor the ship so as to float her off next tide; for which slender aid it cost the captain ten pounds, before he could get the ship into a state of safety. Thus, without men, sails, victuals, or other means, God alone guided us into Ireland. Here the captain left the master and three or four more of the company to keep the ship; and within five days after our arrival, he and some others got a passage in a fishing-boat to Padstow in Cornwall. For the merciful preservation of this our small remnant, and our restoration to our country, be all honour and glory to God, now and for ever.—Amen.
VOYAGE OF OLIVER VAN NOORT ROUND THE WORLD IN 1598—1601.