[Footnote 8: These were probably the Fee-jee, or Bligh’s islands, in lat. 17 deg. 20’ S. long. 181 deg. 30’ W. but the narrative is too incomplete to ascertain this and many other points with any tolerable certainty.—E.]
A great part of the company were for anchoring on this coast, and making a descent, but the officers were so intent on proceeding for India, that they alleged it might be very dangerous to attempt landing, lest any of the men might be cut off, and they should not have enough left to carry on the ships. They continued in their course, therefore, not doubting that they should soon see the coasts of New Britain or New Guinea: But, after sailing many days without seeing any land at all, they began to see the vanity of these calculations, and could not forbear murmuring at their effects, as the scurvy began to cut off three, four, or five of their best hands daily. At this time nothing was to be seen but sick people, struggling with inexpressible pains, or dead carcasses just relieved from their intolerable distress. From these there arose so abominable a stench, that even those who were yet sound often fainted away, unable to endure it. Cries and groans were incessantly heard in all parts of the ships, and the sight of the poor diseased wretches who were still able to crawl about, excited horror and compassion. Some were reduced to such mere skeletons that their skins seemed to cleave to their bones, and these had this consolation, that they gradually consumed away without pain. Others were swelled out to monstrous sizes, and were so tormented with excruciating pain, as to drive them to furious madness. Some were worn away by the dysentery, and others were racked with excruciating rheumatism, while others again dragged their dead limbs after them, having lost feeling through the palsy. To these numerous and complicated diseases of the body, many had superadded distemperature of the mind. An anabaptist of twenty-five years old called out continually to be baptized, and when told with a sneer that there was no parson on board, he became quiet, and died with great resignation. Two papists on board gave what little money they had to their friends, beseeching them, if they ever got back to Holland, to lay it out in masses to St Anthony of Padua for the repose of their souls. Others again would listen to nothing that had the smallest savour of religion, for some time before they died. Some refused meat and drink for twenty-four hours before death, while others were suddenly carried off in the midst of conversation.
All these various appearances of disease are attributed by the author of this voyage principally to the bad quality of their provisions; their salt meat being corrupted, their bread full of maggots, and their water intolerably putrid. Under these circumstances medicines were of no avail, being utterly unable to work a cure, and could at best only defer death for a little, and protract the sufferings of the sick.