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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 681 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
it; but it was seven weeks, from our leaving the coast, before we got into it.  This was an interval, in which we believed we should well nigh have reached the easternmost parts of Asia:  But we were so baffled with the contrary and variable winds, which for all that time perplexed us, that we were not as yet advanced above a fourth part of the way.  The delay alone would have been a sufficient mortification; but there were other circumstances attending it, which rendered this situation not less terrible, and our apprehensions perhaps still greater than in any of our past distresses.  For our two ships were by this time extremely crazy; and many days had not passed, before we discovered a spring in the fore-mast of the Centurion, which rounded about twenty-six inches of its circumference, and which was judged to be at least four inches deep:  And no sooner had our carpenters secured this with fishing it, but the Gloucester made a signal of distress; and we learnt that she had a dangerous spring in her main-mast, twelve feet below the trussel-trees; so that she could not carry any sail upon it.  Our carpenters, on a strict examination of this mast, found it so very rotten and decayed, that they judged it necessary to cut it down as low as it appeared to have been injured; and by this it was reduced to nothing but a stump, which served only as a step to the topmast.  These accidents augmented our delay, and occasioned us great anxiety about our future security:  For on our leaving the coast of Mexico, the scurvy had begun to make its appearance again amongst our people; though from our departure from Juan Fernandes we had till then enjoyed a most uninterrupted state of health.  We too well knew the effects of this disease, from our former fatal experience, to suppose that any thing but a speedy passage could secure the greater part of our crew from perishing by it:  And as, after-being seven weeks at sea, there did not appear any reasons that could persuade us we were nearer the trade-wind than when we first set out, there was no ground for us to suppose but our passage would prove at least three times as long as we at first expected; and consequently we had the melancholy prospect, either of dying by the scurvy, or perishing with the ship for want of hands to navigate her.  Indeed, some amongst us were at first willing to believe, that in this warm climate, so different from what we felt in passing round Cape Horn, the violence of this disease, and its fatality, might be in some degree mitigated; as it had not been unusual to suppose that its particular virulence in that passage was in a great measure owing to the severity of the weather; but the havock of the distemper, in our present circumstances, soon convinced us of the falsity of this speculation; as it likewise exploded some other opinions, which usually pass current about the cause and nature of this disease.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Some remarks respecting the nature and treatment of this disease are now given in the original, but being imperfect and conjectural, are omitted here.—­E.]

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