After leaving London, he went to Germany, and there studied medicine for some years, with the view of being appointed surgeon of a ship. And by the help of his late master in London, such a post he did get on board the “Swallow” on which vessel he made several voyages. But tiring of this, he settled in London, and, having married, began practise as a doctor.
He did not, however, make much money at that, and so for six years he again went to sea as a surgeon, sailing both to the East and to the West Indies.
Again tiring of the sea, he once more settled on shore, this time at Wapping, because in that place there are always many sailors, and he hoped to make money by doctoring them.
But this turned out badly, and on May 4, 1699, he sailed from Bristol for the South Seas as surgeon of a ship named the “Antelope.”
GULLIVER IS WRECKED ON THE COAST OF LILLIPUT
At first, everything went well, but after leaving the South Seas, when steering for the East Indies, the ship was driven by a great storm far to the south. The gale lasted so long that twelve of the crew died from the effects of the hard work and the bad food, and all the others were worn out and weak. On a sailing ship, when the weather is very heavy, all hands have to be constantly on deck, and there is little rest for the men. Perhaps a sail, one of the few that can still be carried in such a gale, may be blown to ribbons by the furious wind, and a new one has to be bent on.
The night, perhaps, is dark, the tattered canvas is thrashing with a noise like thunder, the ship burying her decks under angry black seas every few minutes. The men’s hands are numb with the cold and the wet, and the hard, dangerous work aloft. There is no chance of going below when their job is done, to “turn in” between warm, dry blankets in a snug berth. Possibly even those who belong to the “watch below” may have to remain on deck. Or, if they have the good fortune to be allowed to go below, they may no sooner have dropped off asleep (rolled round in blankets which perhaps have been wet ever since the gale began) than there is a thump, thump overhead, and one of the watch on deck bellows down the forecastle-hatch, “All hands shorten sail.” And out they must tumble again, once more to battle with the hungry, roaring seas and the raging wind. So, when there has been a long spell of bad weather, it is no wonder that the men are worn out. And when, as was the case with Gulliver’s ship, the food also is bad, it is easy to understand why so many of the crew had died.
It was on the 5th of November, the beginning of summer in latitudes south of the equator. The storm had not yet cleared off, and the weather was very thick, the wind coming in furious squalls that drove the ship along at great speed, when suddenly from the lookout man came a wild cry—“Breakers ahead!”