Anson's Voyage Round the World eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Anson's Voyage Round the World.

CHAPTER 9.  THE SICK LANDED—­ALEXANDER SELKIRK*—­SEALS AND SEA-LIONS.

(Note.  Alexander Selkirk (1676 to 1721) was an adventurous sailor who joined Dampier’s privateering expedition to the South Seas in 1703.  He quarrelled with his captain, Stradling, and requested to be landed on the uninhabited island of Juan Fernandez.  He immediately repented of his request, and begged to be taken off; but his prayers were disregarded, and he remained on the island from September, 1704, until he was picked up in 1709 by Dampier’s new expedition.  An account of his adventures was published, which apparently gave Defoe his idea of Robinson Crusoe.)

We were now extremely occupied in sending on shore materials to raise tents for the reception of the sick, who died apace on board.  But we had not hands enough to prepare the tents for their reception before the 16th.  On that and the two following days we sent them all on shore, amounting to a hundred and sixty-seven persons, besides at least a dozen who died in the boats on their being exposed to the fresh air.  The greatest part of our sick were so infirm that we were obliged to carry them out of the ship in their hammocks, and to convey them afterwards in the same manner from the waterside to their tents, over a stony beach.  This was a work of considerable fatigue to the few who were healthy; and therefore the Commodore, with his accustomed humanity, not only assisted herein with his own labour, but obliged his officers, without distinction, to give their helping hand.

The excellence of the climate and the looseness of the soil render this place extremely proper for all kinds of vegetation; for if the ground be anywhere accidentally turned up, it is immediately overgrown with turnips and Sicilian radishes; and therefore, Mr. Anson having with him garden seeds of all kinds, and stones of different sorts of fruits, he, for the better accommodation of his countrymen who should hereafter touch here, sowed both lettuces, carrots, and other garden plants, and set in the woods a great variety of plum, apricot, and peach stones.  And these last, he has been informed, have since thriven to a very remarkable degree; for some gentlemen, who in their passage from Lima to old Spain were taken and brought to England, having procured leave to wait upon Mr. Anson to thank him for his generosity and humanity to his prisoners, some of whom were their relations, they in casual discourse with him about his transactions in the South Seas, particularly asked him if he had not planted a great number of fruit-stones on the island of Juan Fernandez; for they told him their late navigators had discovered there numbers of peach trees and apricot trees, which being fruits before unobserved in that place, they concluded them to be produced from kernels set by him.

ALEXANDER SELKIRK.

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