Yet, after all, it must be allowed there can be no other way of ascertaining the geography and natural history of a country, which is altogether morass and a rock, incapable of products or culture, than by setting down every minute circumstance which was observed in traversing it. The same may be said of the inhabitants, their manners, religion, and language. What fruits could an European reap from a more intimate acquaintance with them, than what he will find in the following accidental observations? We saw the most unprofitable spot on the globe of the earth, and such it is described and ascertained to be.
It is to be hoped, some little amends may be made by such an insight as is given into the interior part of the Country; and I find what I have put down has had the good fortune to be pleasing to some of my friends; insomuch, that the only fault I have yet had laid to my papers is, that of being too short in the article of the Spanish settlements. But here I must say, I have been dubious of the partiality of my friends; and, as I think, justly fearful lest the world in general, who may perhaps find compassion and indulgence for a protracted tale of distress, may not give the same allowance to a luxurious imagination triumphing in a change of fortune, and sudden transition from the most dismal to the gayest scenes in the universe, and thereby indulging an egotism equally offensive to the envious and censorious.
I speak as briefly as possible of matters previous to our final separation from the rest of Lord Anson’s squadron; for it is from this epocha that the train of our misfortunes properly commences: and though Mr Bulkeley, one of the warrant officers of the Wager, has, long since, published a Journal and Account of the return of that part of the ship’s company, which, dissenting from Captain Cheap’s propoposal of endeavouring to regain their native country by way of the great continent of South America, took their passage home in the long-boat, through the Streights of Magellan, our transactions during our abode on the island have been related by him in so concise a manner, as to leave many particulars unnoticed, and others touched so slightly, that they appear evidently to have been put together with the purpose of justifying those proceedings which could not be considered in any other light than that of direct mutiny. Accordingly, we find that the main substance of his Journal is employed in scrutinizing the conduct of Captain Cheap, and setting forth the conferences which passed between him and the seceders, relative to the way and measures they were to take for their return home. I have, therefore, taken some pains to review those early passages of the unfortunate scene I am to represent, and to enter into a detail, without which no sound judgment can be formed of any disputed point, especially when it has been carried so far as to end in personal resentment. When contests and dissensions shall be found to have gone that length, it will be obvious