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great promontory the Castilians have named Cape San Augustin, and the Portuguese, somewhat later, Cape Santa Maria. This promontory lies five degrees beyond the equinoctial line. The journey was afterwards continued as far as the gulf where the captain, Solis, who visited these waters with our fleet, was killed and eaten by the natives, together with some of his companions as we have related in a preceding decade. This gulf has received the name of Bahia de Santa Maria, and is otherwise called simply Bahia.
Magellan sent some men to ascend the river which flows into the gulf. They took with them one of the ships and a shallop. They saw three men of half-savage type, entirely naked, whose stature exceeded the normal by two cubits. One of these men showed confidence and got into the shallop. Thinking that if they treated him well, he would attract his companions to the fleet, the Spaniards gave him food and drink, and dressed him; after which they let him go; but he was never again seen, neither he nor any of his people. Trees cut with European hatchets were discovered, and a cross had been erected upon the summit of another tree, but nowhere were any traces of our compatriots found.
The river is immense. Marvellous things, like those told of the Maragnon, in the northern part of Paria, which I have already mentioned, are related of it. The Spaniards ascended it for a distance of twenty leagues, and even at that point its width between its banks was seventeen leagues. Its mouth is vast, for many other rivers swell its volume. The water of the ocean is fresh for a great distance out to sea. When the Spaniards left this gulf they found that several degrees farther on towards the south, the coast line of the continent took a marked bend towards the west, and they discovered another large gulf to which they gave the name of San Julian, and in which there was a very safe harbour. The Admiral ordered the anchor to be lowered. At that time the sun rose towards the Spaniards and left those countries. The cold became very severe when the sun crossed the constellation of the Bull; just as happens amongst us when it passes through the constellation of the Scales. During the period of four months until summer approached, our men were kept by cold and storm in the huts and cabins they had built on the banks. For it was the calends of April when they entered that harbour which they did not leave until the ninth of the calends of September.
It was during this period that Magellan treated the captain, Juan Carthagena, so severely. * He was a friend of the Bishop of Burgos who had been assigned to Magellan, with the royal approval, as his associate, and named second in command of the expedition. Under pretext of a plot formed against his life, Magellan put him ashore in company with a priest, giving them only a little biscuit and a sword. He would gladly have punished their plot with death, but that he feared the resentment of the Spaniards against him and did not dare to assume the responsibility. This action has been represented in different lights; but the description of other events is in agreement. According to some, Magellan was within his rights in thus acting, while according to others he was not, and the severity he showed was merely the outcome of the ancient hatred existing between the Spaniards and the Portuguese.
During this stop the men were able to visit the native houses. These barbarians are savages without weapons and are clothed only with skins; they are nomads without fixed habitations and without laws. Their height is very great and they are called Patagonians. Magellan left the port of San Julian on the ninth of September, 1521, the moment the sun appeared above the horizon. He sailed first in the direction of the antarctic pole, for a distance of fourteen degrees.
1 Referring to the revolt led by Mendoza, Quesada, and Carthagena, which Magellan only suppressed with difficulty. See Pifagetta, above mentioned.
At this point we must turn back somewhat in our history. During his childhood, Magellan had vaguely heard discussed in Portugal the existence of a strait, whose entrance was difficult to find. He was therefore ignorant of what direction to take but chance served him where his knowledge failed.1 There arose a tempest so terrible, that it caught up one of the ships and drove it upon the neighbouring rocks. The crew was saved, but the ship was broken to pieces by the waves. * Thus perished one of the five vessels of the fleet. A little farther on the ocean, in all its immensity, stretched away towards the left, while to the right towered snow-covered mountains. While searching a shelter, one of the ships of least draught was driven by the force of the waves very close to the shore. A narrow channel was discovered, into which the ship entered, coming presently upon a gulf four leagues broad and six long, according to Spanish measure. The ship returned announcing that the passage was found.
I omit many particulars; but in a general sense, the following is what should be known. It is said that at places, stones may be thrown from a sling onto the mountains forming the sides of this strait. The country is a desert and on both sides rise mountains overgrown with cedars. After passing through this first gulf another strait was discovered, somewhat larger, but still narrow, after which came a third and then a fourth beyond which another gulf opened: just as we observe on the maps of Europe that towards the Hellespont there are two channels leading to an inland sea, so in this strait there are three channels leading to much larger inland seas. All these straits are full of small islands. The Spaniards sailed these straits in constant fear of striking a reef, and everywhere they found very deep water.
1 Martyr here does scant justice to Magellan, whose discovery of the Strait was due primarily to his intelligence and persevering explorations, chance playing no greater part than it does in all human undertakings.
2 The Santiago was thus lost.
Midway during this course, they dropped anchor in a square-shaped sea where they found nothing remarkable, but where one of the ships, called the San Antonio, remained behind. The other vessels expected it would follow, but it turned back and arrived [in Spain] some time ago, bringing the saddest accusations against Magellan. We believe that such disobedience will not remain unpunished.
There remained, therefore, only three vessels to continue the voyage. These ships had entered the strait on the twenty-first of October and came out on the fifth day of the calends of December, during which time the days had been very long and the nights very short. This is comprehensible, in view of the shape of the terrestrial sphere. After sailing through the strait, the Spaniards entered another vast ocean. It is the ocean on the opposite side of our continent, and communicates with the sea, which I have called the South Sea in my Decades, and which was first discovered by Vasco Nunez, under the guidance of the son of the cacique of Comogra.
The Spaniards affirm that they sailed three months and twenty days on that immense ocean, and during that time they saw nothing but sky and salt water. Their sufferings, both from want of provisions and from the intense heat, were very great, and during many days they had nothing to eat but a handful of rice, without a scrap of other food; potable water was so scarce that they were obliged to use one-third sea water for cooking their rice, and when a man drank this water he had to shut his eyes and stop his nose, so green was its colour and so nasty its odour.
While sailing in a north-westerly direction on this immense sea, they crossed the equinoctial line, and immediately afterwards discovered two barren islands. \< These they named the Unfortunate Isles,1 because they were deserted and sterile. They next sailed amongst a multitude of islands which they called the Archipelago, because of their resemblance to the Cyclades of the Ionian Sea. They landed on most of these islands, which were separated from one another by narrow channels and extended throughout a distance of five hundred leagues. They named these islands Ladrones," in pre- s ference to any native name, because the islanders, although peacefully inclined, stole everything they could put their hands on. They resembled that race of thieves called by the Italians Zingari,3 and which falsely pretends to be Egyptian. Amongst the other things the islanders stole was a barque our people used for landing. Hardly had they turned their backs when it disappeared, but the natives were forced to bring it back after having lost several of their men.
These islanders go naked, and are half savage. There is a tree growing in their country which bears cocoanuts. The largest of their islands is called Borneo,4 and the Spaniards unhesitatingly write that it is two hundred and fifty-four leagues in circumference. There grows in one part of that island a tree whose leaves, when they fall, squirm on the ground like worms. I suppose there must exist a vital breath between the two faces of the leaf which swells and agitates it like a short-lived breeze. Two religions are practised in this country, Paganism and Mohammedanism, but they are in agreement with one another. The people raise herds of cattle and buffaloes as well as goats. Chickens are found in
1 These islands are supposed to have belonged to the Tahiti group, but their precise identity is undetermined.
1 Meaning thieves or robbers.
» Zingari being the Italian name for gypsies.
< Compare with Pigafetta. Peter Martyr departs from the correct order of the voyage, as Borneo was not visited until after Magellan's death.