are often esteemed the boundary between the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans, and as we presumed that we had
nothing now before us but an open sea, till we should
arrive on the opulent coasts where all our hopes and
wishes centered, we could not help flattering ourselves
that the greatest difficulty of our voyage was now
at an end, and that our most sanguine dreams were
on the point of being realized. We indulged ourselves,
therefore, in the romantic imaginations which the
fancied possession of the gold of Chili and silver
of Peru might readily be conceived to inspire.
These joyous ideas were considerably heightened, by
the brightness of the sky and serenity of the weather,
which indeed were both most remarkably delightful:
For, though the antarctic winter was now advancing
with hasty strides, the morning of this day, in mildness
and even brilliancy, gave place to none that we had
seen since our departure from England. Thus, animated
by these flattering delusions, we passed those memorable
straits, ignorant of the dreadful calamities then
impending, and ready to burst upon us; ignorant that
the moment was fast approaching when our squadron was
to be separated, never again to unite; and that this
day of our passage was the last cheerful day that
the greatest part of us was ever to enjoy in this
Course from the Straits of Le Maire to Cape Noir.
We had scarcely reached the southern extremity of
the Straits of Le Maire, when our flattering hopes
were almost instantly changed to the apprehension
of immediate destruction. Even before the sternmost
ships of the squadron were clear of the straits, the
serenity of the sky was suddenly obscured, and we
observed all the presages of an impending storm.
The wind presently shifted to the southward, and blew
in such violent squalls that we had to hand our top-sails
and reef our main-sail; while the tide, which had
hitherto favoured us, turned furiously adverse, and
drove us to the eastward with prodigious rapidity,
so that we were in great anxiety for the Wager and
Anna pink, the two sternmost vessels, fearing they
might be dashed to pieces upon the shore of Staten
Land; nor were our apprehensions without foundation,
as they weathered that coast with the utmost difficulty.
Instead of pursuing our intended course to the S.W.
the whole squadron was now drifted to the eastward,
by the united force of the storm and current; so that
next morning we found ourselves nearly seven leagues
eastward of the straits, which then bore from us N.W.