The violence of the current, which had set us with so much precipitation to the eastward, together with the fierceness and constancy of the westerly winds, soon taught us to consider the doubling of Cape Horn as an enterprize that might prove too mighty for all our efforts; though some among us had so lately treated the difficulties which former voyagers were said to have encountered in this undertaking as little better than chimerical, and had supposed them to have arisen from timidity and unskilfulness, rather than from the real embarrassments of the winds and seas. But we were now convinced, from severe experience, that these censures were rash and ill founded; for the distresses with which we struggled during the three succeeding months, will not be easily paralleled in the relation of any former naval expedition; which, I doubt not, will be readily allowed by those who shall carefully peruse the ensuing narration.
From this storm, which came on before we were well clear of the straits of Le Maire, we had a continual succession of such tempestuous weather as surprised the oldest and most experienced mariners on board, and obliged them to confess, that what they had hitherto called storms were inconsiderable gales, when compared with those winds we now encountered; which raised such short, and at times such mountainous waves, as greatly surpassed in danger all seas known in other parts of the globe, and, not without reason, this unusual appearance filled us with continual terror; for, had any one of these waves broken fairly over us, it must almost inevitably have sent us instantly to the bottom. Neither did we escape with terror only: for the ship, rolling incessantly gunwale-to, gave us such quick and violent jerking motions, that the men were in perpetual danger of being dashed to pieces against the decks and sides of the ship; and, though we were extremely careful to secure ourselves against these shocks, by grasping some fixed body, yet many of our people were forced from their holds, some of whom were actually killed, and others greatly injured. In particular, one of our best seamen was canted overboard and drowned; another dislocated his neck; a third was thrown down the main hatchway into the hold and broke his thigh; one of our boatswain’s mates broke his collar-bone twice; not to mention many other similar accidents.
These tempests, so dreadful in themselves, though unattended by any other unfavourable circumstances, were yet rendered more mischievous to us by their inequality, and by the deceitful intervals that at times occurred; for, although we had often to lie-to for days together under a reefed mizen, and were frequently reduced to drive at the mercy of the winds and waves under bare poles, yet now and then we ventured to make sail under double-reefed courses; and occasionally, the weather proving more moderate, were perhaps encouraged to set our top-sails; after which, without any previous notice, the wind would return with redoubled force,