It is a very usual thing to publish voyages, especially when the navigators have met with any extraordinary events. We believe our expedition, though it was not a secret, is allowed to be an extraordinary one, consequently attended with extraordinary events: Indeed, while the commodore was with us, every thing went well; but when the squadron separated, things began to have a new face: After the loss of the Wager, there was a general disorder and confusion among the people, who were now no longer implicitly obedient. There were two seamen particularly, who propagated this confusion, they said they had suffered shipwreck in his majesty’s ship the Biddeford, and received no wages from the day that the ship was lost; that when they were out of pay, they looked upon themselves as their own masters, and no longer subjected to command. The people, however, were not altogether infected, but still continued to pay a dutiful respect to their commander; but when the captain had rashly shot Mr Cozens, (whose fate the reader will find particularly related) they then grew very turbulent and unruly; the captain daily lost the love of the men, who with their affection lost their duty.
Our confining the captain is thought an audacious and unprecedented action, and our not bringing him home with us is reckoned worse; but the reader will find that necessity absolutely compelled us to act as we did, and that we had sufficient reasons for leaving him behind.
Our attempt for liberty, in sailing to the southward through the straits of Magellan, with such a number of people stowed in a long-boat, has been censured as a mad undertaking: Desperate diseases require desperate remedies; had we gone to the northward, there appeared no probability of escaping the Spaniards, and when we had fallen into their hands, ’tis not unlikely but they might have employed us as drudges in their mines for life; therefore we rather chose to encounter all difficulties than to become slaves to a merciless enemy.
Some persons have objected against our capacity for keeping a journal of this nature; but several judges of maritime affairs allow this work to be exact and regular. We think persons with a common share of understanding, are capable of committing to paper daily remarks of matter worthy their observation, especially of facts in which they themselves had so large a share. We only relate such things as could not possibly escape our knowledge, and what we actually know to be true. We don’t set up for naturalists and men of great learning, therefore have avoided meddling with things above our capacity.
We are also condemned by many for being too busy and active for persons in our stations. There was a necessity for action, and a great deal of it too; and had we been as indolent and regardless for the preservation of the people as others who were superior in command, there would not have been a single man who was shipwrecked in the Wager, now in England to give any relation of the matter.