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[Magellan did not survive to give his own account of his great voyage. This story was written by Antonio Pigafetta, who accompanied the expedition.]
Finding myself in Spain in the year 1519, I deliberated to experiment and go and see with mine own eyes a part of the awful things of ocean.
Having heard that there was in the city of Seville a small armade to the number of five ships ready to perform a long voyage, of which armade the captain was Fernando de Magellan, a Portuguese gentleman, who had performed several voyages in the ocean sea, I went away by land until I arrived at the said city of Seville. There I remained for the space of three months, waiting till the said armade was in order and readiness to perform its voyage.
Monday, the 10th of August, the fleet, provided with what was necessary for it, and carrying crews of different nations to the number of two hundred thirty-seven men in all the five ships, was ready to set sail from the mole of Seville. And firing all artillery, we made sail only on the foremast, and came to the end of a river named Betis, which is now called Guadalquivir.
After we had passed the equinoctial line toward the south, we navigated between south and west; and we crossed the Atlantic as far as a country named Verzin [Brazil]. At this place we had refreshments of victuals like fowls and meat of cows, also a variety of fruits of singular goodness. The people of the said place gave, in order to have a knife or a fish hook, five or six fowls, and for a comb they gave
two geese, and for a small mirror or a pair of scissors they gave so much fish that ten men could have eaten of it. For a king of cards, of the kind which they used to play with in Italy, they gave five fowls and thought they had cheated me.
They have boats which are made of a tree, all in one piece, which they call canoe. These are not made with iron instruments, for they have not got any, but with stones like pebbles; and with these they plane and dig out these boats. Into them thirty or forty men enter, and their oars are made like iron shovels; and those who row these oars are black people, quite naked and shaven.
Departing thence as far as 49 degrees in the Antarctic heavens, we entered a port to pass the winter, and remained there two whole months without ever seeing anybody. However one day we saw a giant on the shore dancing and leaping and singing, and whilst singing he put the sand and dust on his head, and he raised one finger on high, thinking that we came from Heaven. He was so tall that the tallest of us came only to his waist. He had a large face painted red all around, and his eyes were painted yellow all around them, and he had two hearts painted on his cheeks; he had but little hair on his head, and it was painted white.
The captain caused food and drink to be given to this giant, and they showed him some things, among them a steel mirror. And when the giant saw his likeness in it, he was greatly terrified, leaping backwards so that he made three or four of our men fall down. And when he danced he caused the earth to sink a palm's depth at the place where his feet touched. He was a long time with us, and at the end we baptised him and gave him the name of John.
After taking the course to the 52nd degree of the said Antarctic sky, we found by a miracle a strait [Strait of
Magellan] which is 110 leagues long, and it issues into another sea which is called the peaceful sea [Pacific]. It is surrounded by very high mountains covered with snow, and it was not possible to anchor with the anchors, because no bottom was found.
Wednesday, the 28th of November, 1520, we came forth out of said strait, and entered into the Pacific sea, where we remained three months and twenty days without taking in provisions, and we ate only old biscuits reduced to powder and full of grubs, and we drank water that was yellow and stinking. We also ate the ox hides which were under the main yard, so that the yard should not break the rigging: they were very hard on account of the sun, rain, and wind, and we left them for four or five days in the sea, and then put them a little on the embers, and so ate them; also the sawdust of woods, and rats which cost half a crown each; moreover enough of them were not to be got. Besides those that died, twenty-five or thirty fell ill of divers sicknesses, in such manner that very few remained healthy. However, thanks be to the Lord, I had no sickness.
We ran fully 4000 leagues in the Pacific sea. This was well named Pacific; for during this same time we met with no storm. And if we had not had good weather, we should all have died of hunger in this vast sea, and I think that man will never again undertake to perform such a voyage.
Saturday, the 16th of March, 1521, we arrived at daybreak in sight of a high island named Zamal [Samar, in the Philippines]. The next day the Captain set up two tents on shore for the sick, and had a sow killed for them. We remained in these parts many months. The people became very friendly and familiar with us, and the Captain, seeing that they were of this good condition, conducted them to the
ship and showed them all his goods, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, mace, gold, and all that was in the ship. He also had some shots fired with his artillery, at which they were so much afraid that they wished to jump from the ship into the sea.
These people are tawny, fat, and painted, and they anoint themselves with the oil of coconuts and sesame to preserve them from the sun and wind. Their hair is very black and long, reaching to the waist, and they carry small daggers and knives ornamented with gold, and their boats are like ours. They only half cook their victuals, and salt them very much, which makes them drink a great deal: and they drink much with reeds, sucking the wine from bowls. Their repasts always last from five to six hours.
Here fell our Captain, pierced by a poisoned arrow sent by the Indians of a hostile island. He died: our mirror, light, comfort, and true guide. But I hope that his memory will not be lost.
Continuing our voyage we changed to between West and Southwest, to Java, Borneo, the Moluccas, and many other islands.
Tuesday night on the 11th of February, 1522, we entered upon the great sea named Laut Chidol [the Indian Ocean]. In order to double the Cape of Good Hope we went as far as 42 degrees South latitude. We then sailed to the Northwest for two whole months without ever taking rest. And if God had not granted us favorable weather, we should have all perished of hunger.
We touched at the Cape Verde Islands and the inhabitants told us that it was Thursday, which was a great cause of wondering to us, since with us it was only Wednesday. But we were afterwards advised that there was no error on
our part, since as we had always sailed towards the west, following the course of the sun, and had returned to the same place, we must have gained twenty-four hours, as is clear to anyone who reflects upon it.
At last when it pleased Heaven, on Saturday the 6th of September, 1522, we entered the bay of San Lucar. Of two hundred thirty-seven men who composed our crew when we left, we were reduced to only eighteen, and these for the most part sick. And of five ships, we were reduced to one. From the day when we left this bay of San Lucar until our return thither, we reckoned that we had run more than 14,460 leagues, and we had completed going round the earth from east to west. - Abridged.
HENRY HUDSON'S QUEST
BURTON EGBERT STEVENSON
Out from the harbor of Amsterdam
The Half Moon turned her prow to sea;
The coast of Norway dropped behind,
Yet Northward still kept she
Through the drifting fog and the driving snow,
Where never before man dared to go:
"O Pilot, shall we find the strait that leads to the Eastern Sea?" "A waste of ice before us lies
we must turn back," said he.
Westward they steered their tiny bark,
Westward through weary weeks they sped, Till the cold gray strand of a stranger-land Loomed through the mist ahead.
League after league they hugged the coast,