As it was the 22d January when the Spaniards weighed from Maldonado, they could not expect to get into the latitude of Cape Horn before the equinox; and, as they had reason to apprehend very tempestuous weather in doubling it at that season, while the Spanish sailors, for the most part accustomed to a fair-weather country, might be supposed averse from so dangerous and fatiguing a navigation, the better to encourage them, some part of their pay was advanced to them in European goods, which they were to have leave to dispose of in the South-Seas, that so the hopes of the great profits they were to make of their ventures, might animate them in their duty, and render them less disposed to repine at the labours, hardships, and perils they might in all probability meet with, before their arrival on the coast of Peru.
Towards the latter end of February, Pizarro and his squadron got into the latitude of Cape Horn, and then stood to the westwards in order to double that southern promontory. But, in the night of the last of February O.S. while turning to windward with this view, the Guipuscoa, Hermiona, and Espranza were separated from the admiral. On the 6th March following, the Guipuscoa was separated from the other two; and next day, being that after we passed the Straits of Le Maire, there came on a most furious storm at N.W. which, in spite of all their efforts, drove the whole squadron to the eastward, and, after several fruitless attempts, obliged them to bear away for the river of Plate. Pizarro arrived there in the Asia about the middle of May, and was followed a few days after by the Esperanza and Estevan. The Hermiona was supposed to have foundered, as she was never more heard of; and the Guipuscoa was run on shore and destroyed on the coast of Brazil. The calamities of all kinds which this squadron underwent in their unsuccessful attempt to double Cape Horn, can only be paralleled by what we ourselves experienced in the same climate, when buffeted by the same storms. There was indeed some diversity in our distresses, rendering it difficult to decide whose situation was most worthy of commiseration; for, to all the miseries and misfortunes we experienced in common, as shattered rigging, leaky ships, and the fatigues and despondency necessarily attendant on these disasters, there was superadded on board our squadron the ravages of a most destructive and incurable disease; and in the Spanish squadron the devastation of famine.
It has been already observed, that this squadron left Spain with only four months provisions on board, and even that, it is said, at short allowance, either owing to the hurry of their outfit, or presuming upon a supply at Buenos Ayres; so that, when their continuance at sea was prolonged, by the storms they met with off Cape Horn, a month or more beyond their expectation, they were reduced to such infinite distress, that rats, when they could be caught, sold for four dollars a-piece; and a sailor who died in one of the ships,