Thus employed in securing the treasure and the prisoners, the commodore stood for the river of Canton; and, on the 30th of June, at six in the evening, got sight of Cape Delangano, which then bore west ten leagues distant; and, the next day, he made the Bashee islands, and the wind being so far to the northward, that it was difficult to weather them, it was resolved to stand through between Grafton and Monmouth islands, where the passage seemed to be clear; but in getting through, the sea had a very dangerous aspect, for it rippled and foamed, as if it had been full of breakers, which was still more terrible, as it was then night. But the ships got through very safe, (the prize always keeping a-head) and it was found that the appearance which had alarmed them had been occasioned only by a strong tide. I must here observe, that though the Bashee islands are usually reckoned to be no more than five, yet there are many more lying about them to the westward, which, as the channels amongst them are not at all known, makes it advisable for ships, rather to pass to the northward or southward, than through them; and indeed the commodore proposed to have gone to the northward, between them and Formosa, had it been possible for him to have weathered them. From hence the Centurion steering the proper course for the river of Canton, she, on the 8th of July, discovered the island of Supata, the westermost of the Lema islands. This island they made to be an hundred and thirty-nine leagues distant from Grafton’s island, and to bear from it north 82 deg., 37 deg. west: And, on the 11th, having taken on board two Chinese pilots, one for the Centurion, and the other for the prize, they came to an anchor off the city of Macao.
By this time the particulars of the cargo of the galleon were well ascertained, and it was found that she had on board 1,313,843 pieces of eight, and 35,682 oz. of virgin silver, besides some cochineal, and a few other commodities, which, however, were but of small account, in comparison of the specie. And this being the commodore’s last prize, it hence appears, that all the treasure taken by the Centurion was not much short of 400,000l. independent of the ships and merchandise, which she either burnt or destroyed, and which, by the most reasonable estimation, could not amount to so little as 600,000l. more; so that the whole loss of the enemy, by our squadron, did doubtless exceed a million sterling. To which, if there be added the great expence of the court of Spain, in fitting out Pizarro, and in paying the additional charges in America, incurred on our account, together with the loss of their men of war, the total of all these articles will be a most exorbitant sum, and is the strongest conviction of the utility of this expedition, which, with all its numerous disadvantages, did yet prove so extremely prejudicial to the enemy.
Transactions in the River of Canton.