The gentleman who commanded in the long-boat, on his arrival before us at Lisbon, represented us to the English merchants in a very vile light; we were even advised by some of our friends there not to return to our country, lest we would suffer death for mutiny. But when the gentlemen of the factory had perused our journal, they found, if there was any mutiny in the case, the very person who accused us was the ringleader and chief mutineer. We were confident of our own innocence, and determined to see our country at all events, being positive that we have acted to the best of our understandings, in all respects, for the preservation of our lives and liberties; and when our superiors shall think proper to call us to an account, which we expect will be at the commodore’s arrival, we do not doubt but we shall clear ourselves in spite of all invidious reflections and malicious imputations.
It has been hinted to us, as if publishing this journal would give offence to some persons of distinction. We can’t conceive how any transactions relating to the Wager, although made ever so public, can give offence to any great man at home. Can it be any offence to tell the world that we were shipwrecked in the Wager, when all people know it already? Don’t they know that the Wager was one of his majesty’s store-ships? That we had on board not only naval stores, but other kind of stores, of an immense value? Don’t they also know that we went abroad with hopes of acquiring great riches, but are return’d home as poor as beggars? We are guilty of no indecent reproaches, or unmannerly reflections; though, it is certain, we cannot but lament our being engaged in so fatal an expedition. When persons have surmounted great difficulties, it is a pleasure for them to relate their story; and if we give ourselves this satisfaction, who has any cause to be offended? Are we, who have faced death in so many shapes, to be intimidated, lest we should give offence to the—Lord knows whom? We never saw a satyrical journal in our lives, and we thought that kind of writing was the most obnoxious to give offence.
It has been a thing usual, in publishing of voyages, to introduce abundance of fiction; and some authors have been esteemed merely for being marvellous. We have taken care to deviate from those, by having a strict regard to truth. There are undoubtedly in this book some things which will appear incredible.
The account we give of the Patagonian Indians, and our own distresses, though ever so well attested, will not easily obtain credit; and people will hardly believe that human nature could possibly support the miseries that we have endured.
All the difficulties related we have actually endured, and perhaps must endure more: Till the commodore’s arrival we cannot know our fate; at present we are out of all employment, and have nothing to support ourselves and families, but the profits arising from the sale of our journal; which perhaps may be the sum total we shall ever receive for our voyage to the South Seas.