Antonio de Córdoba José Vargas Ponce.

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Sitmit ot JEaseHati:




Natural Prolruction^ of iM&8oniau


By admiral DON A. DE CORDOVA,

Of »e IH^l SpmMk Martme. ^




Entered at SUtkmen' HalL


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^TH£mw YORK' '



Printed by J. and C. Adlard,
23k fiartholomew-ClOM.

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PAfeT I.

Sicrr* I. Preperation for the Expedition ^^^«..^..w. •.«•••• 1

JL Voyage from Cadiz to tlie Stmt of MageBan «M4««h 4

III. Occurrences in tlie Navigation of the Strak ^h.i«&«»^ 19

IV. Retttro to Cadia .^...4«^^^..^d..«.^^^— ^.^.^« 51

PARt ll.

$«CT*I. DescriptioB of thtf Strait of Magdhn^^DiTitieiti 6f
the Country into higlh and low. — l^eniperature:
Qualities of tU SoiL^Pfoductiona of tb^ Strak s
Herbs, Plants, Tt6^ttSj Shrubs, and I're^.— 0e.
ftcriptioh of the Quadrupeda, Birds, Pishes^ and
Insects •.•,,.•.....,.«..».......•..—••....' £^

II. Of the Inhabitaotsaf tin Strait of Magellan .^..w... 8«
lU. Of tiie Indians of the Strait of Magellan 94


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Bbk. laebet.
Tbb most accurate standard of the yard, is that called the Parlia-
mentary Standard, made by Bird in 1768, equal to 36*00093

On a measurement by the late Dr. Maskelyne, astronomer-royal, of
two French standard toises, exhibited by M. de la Lande in London,

the one nvas found to be equal to ••• 76*7$%.

And the other to •.•- •^ 76'736

The medium fC*734 English inches for the toise of 6 teet, or 7S
inches French, is adopted by Biot in his Aitronomie Phyrique, 1810.
According to this medium proportion, one inch, foot, fathom, or toise,
English, is to one inch. Sec. French as 1 : 1*06573 preciselff. Or, making
the French measure the unit, the English measure will be 0*938 of tlwt
unit wt'y nearly.

In the end of 1801, Professor Pictet, of Geneva, carried over from
Ix>ndon to Paris a brass scale, of 49 indies in length, made b> Trough-
ton. On a most accurate comparison of that scale, by Members of Sie
Institute, with the platina and iron standard ifi^r«s, the mitre was .

found to be (at. the the temperature of meltine ice) equal to • • • • 89*38t7i

Which, reduced to the English rule of comparison, 6i? of Fahrenheit, Is 39*371

The mHre being the ten-millionth part of a quadrant of the meridian,
a sexagesimal degree of a great circle must be equal to 57*01« French
toises, or 60,760*54 j^uglisb fathoms, equal to EngUsh miles • • • 69*046

The late eminent nautical mathematician Captain Mendosa y Rios
furnished tlut rale for converting Spanish into English measures, and
vtc€ verMu

From the logarithm of the number of Spanish feet, fathoms, &c. sub-
tract th$. constant logarithm 0;(>384544, and the remainder will lie the
logarithm of the corresponding number of English feet, fathoms, E. in. &c.

Hence the ii^panUh foot is equal to • • • • • • 10*98318

« cora, or yard, equal to • 32*94954

« 6raza, or fathom, equal to • 65*89908

And 12 Spanish brazas are witliin a small trifle of 11 English faths.

N.B.— The French brasse contains only 5 French feet, and is therefore
only eoual to 63*945 English inches, equal to 5 feet and nearly 4 inches

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" Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" is a
supercilious query but too frequently directed against
various regions of the earth, particularly against bigotted
and enslaved Spain. And, indeed, were our opinion of
what may be extracted from that devoted country to be
formed by estimating the magnitude, or the value of
the information lately brought home from it, even by
our friendly armies, after a long abode, the answer to
the insolent query above-mentioned would justly be,-^ —
" Nothmg."

Having resided for some time in Spain, and having
occasionally, since my return, directed my attention
towards Spanish literature, to that query I should feel
myself warranted to give a very different answer.^—
To mention one branch of scientific literature only, —
I mean what relates to maritime information respecting
her dominions, European and American, Spain has done

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morey and in a more syBtematic manner y than all the other
Powers of Christendom put together. She has surveyed,
by the most able operatcnrs, furnished with the best in-
struments and instructions which England and France
could produce, the whole sea coast of those vast regions ;
and the results she has, with a manly liberality without
example, laid before the public. The great Coasting
Pilot of Spain (including Portugal) was published by
the authority of the Government in 1787, accompanied
by a set of charts, illustrated by plans of all the principal
harbours and naval stations, in the fullest detail ; accom-
panied by views of the coast, the whole executed in a
j^tyle far superior to any work of the kind which Fraiic6
^r J^gland yet pof^sesses ; except, perhaps, the Atlantic
Neptufie of Gbvemor De Barres. Thift Coasting Pilot,
forming a good quarto volume;, I translated several year^
1^ for Mr, Faden ; audit now forms one of the standard
l^esM^ises attm^bed to every vessel belonging to the na«
tkmal navy*

Since then I have translated from the Spanii^ ^^ An
Account of a Voyage from Cadiz to the Strait of Ma-
gellan." This voyage, performed under the command
of Adiniral Doii Antonio de Cordova, in a frigate, was
projected with tbe humwe view of settug at rest for
ever the longragitated question, whether mariners onght
or ought not, on any account, to attempt a passage to
the Pacific Ocean through that Strait.

The translation was first suggested to me by the late


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PRfiFACE* Til ^

iR-fated General Miranda ; and, in the exeoulion of it,
I wafr encouraged and aided by tha late fir^rate pan^
tipai matbiSiBatician, Captain Mendoza y Rios, of thc^
Spanish navy, but long domieyiated in Britain. That
the mi^f^ct m nojt only inqptortdiit, curious^ aiid ent^rtaaaK
ifkgy m }i^% aod vi^able, a& filing i:^ a d)a«B in cm
Knowledge of (he globe, will be see& from the annexeid
Contoita ; apd, ex^^iag the filling-*up of diaismg^ Uttl^
probability remsdns of discoveries of importance beii^
now made. In the course of the voyages out from Spain
to the Strait of Magellan, and home again, and in the
perilous traverses of the Strait itself, various important
particulars are finally settled by the able commander.
The description of the countries bordering on the Strait,
that is, of Patctgonia and Tierta del Faego ; of the pro-'
ductions, animal and vegetable ; of the famous gigantic
race of Patagonians, in the work reduced to a rational
standard ; — ^these, and other matters, are well entitled to
notice and to confidence.

The authority of the whole is not to be questioned.
Its importance to mariners, particularly in the present
eventful crisis of South American affairs, and of oiir
intimate connections and frequent intercourse with the
western coasts of the Spanish possessions (to say no-
thing of our growing navigation to New Holland and the
whole Pacific), is self-evident ; — ^the notices respecting
the productions of the South American promontory,
come forward with an air of genuineness sufficient to
command our belief, and may in time lead to the dis-
covery of other objects of 3ingular value.

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This voyage is calculated to be eminently useful at
this time, by settling for ever the question in regard to
the digibility of making the passage of this Strait in a
voyage to the Great Pacific: — a question which it de-
cides in the negative on the clearest evidence of facts.
But, in arriving at this important conclusion, it has added
to our stock of geographical knowledge, and brought us
acqua.inted with large tracts, hitherto but imperfectly
expbred and studied.

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strait of iD^as^llan.

THE King of Spain, having some time ago resolved to
dispatch a vessel, for the purpose, of examining and
jnaking an accurate draught of the Strait of Magellan, in South
America, orders were given to the general of the fleet to select
a frigate for the enterpiize, who, in consequence, made choice
of the Santa Maria de la Cabeza of thirty-six guus, whose good
qualities were already well known. For several reasons, it was
thought proper that she should not be sheathed with copper.
She was built on the modern French model; which, it was
beheved, could not fail to render her fit for any kind of na-
vigation ; and the experience of this voyage confirmed that
opinion : as her good qualities, on many occasions, delivered
the officers and men from dangers, to all appearance in-

The chief command of the frigate, and of the whole ex-
pedition, was conferred on Don Antonio de Cordova, of the
Royal Navy, with leave for him to choose his officers, seamen,
and marines ; as also to carry out a second captain and two
other officers, particularly conversant with astronomical obser-

In consequence of this permission, the commander made
choice of Don Ferdinand cle Miera to be his second captain ;
and it happened fortunately that Brigadier Don Vincent Tofino
was at that time in Cadiz, together with the officers of that
department of the Spanish navy, who for two years past had
been employed in the construction of a hydrographic atlas, or
sea-chart, and coasting-pilot, of Spain : he requested to have
two of these gentlemen, who, being thoroughly instructed in
astronomical observations, and expert in the use of all the
instruments necessary for this expedition, might assist him iii
the exectitfon of his commission.

Voyages and Travels, No. 5, Fol. 11. A

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2 Account of a late Voyage qf Dise&oery

He therefore selected D. Dionisius Alcala Galiano and D.
Alexander Belmonte, lieutenants in the navy, who, without in
the least excusing themselves from the strict performance of
the ordinary duty of the ship, took th^ charge of all observa-
tions, astronomical and geographical; as also of the marine
watches or time-pieces, and other instruments which were put
on-board^ as requisite for the due performance of the ex-

Of this charge they acquitted themselves, to the entire satis*
faction of the commander : and the following account of the
voyage, together with the direction! and instructions for navi-
gating the Strait of Magellan, entirely drawn-up by these
officers, is almost wholly compiled from their journals, formed
and kept with the greatest skill and attention, and well deserv«i
ing to be used as models for other voyages of a similar nature.

D. Antonio de Cordova also appointed D. Joachin Camacha
to be his chief pilot, or master ; and to him entrusted the opera*
tions necessary for taking separate draughts of the harbours^
bays, a. J roads of the strait, and which we can affirm to have
been executed with all the care and precision to be expected
from the eminent knowledge and experience of that officer.

The following List shows the exact state of the whole officers
and crew of the frigate, as she sailed from Cadiz :

Commandant. Don Antonio de Cordova.

Second. Don Ferdinand de Miera.

{Don Miguel de Zapiain.
Don TcHo Mantilla.
Don Alexander Belmonte.
r Don Pedro de Mesa.
1 Don Joachin Blanco.
Midshipmen. <J Don Francisco Vilfegas.

f Don Philip Pere2 de Aeevedo.
v. Don Joachin Fernandez Salvadcv.

Officers of Marines. \ S«» g"«^"!^ ^ .^"f??f °^
I Don Remigio BobadiHa.

Chaplains. \ S^" Juli«n Mwtiano.

^^ I Don Joseph Riqucro.

Sar^reons i ^^" ^"•'' ^"** Sancbe*.

aur^eons. j j^^^ Bartholomew de Rivas.

Pilots, or Masters. J Don Joachin Camacho, 1st,
' t Don Antonio Castellanos, 2d.

f Don Antonio Rico.
Pilotines, or Mates. \ Don Antonio Castro.

C. Don Pedro Sanchez. ,

As the season was now far advanced for the nature of this
Toyage, (l7th Sept.) no time was lost in getting ready the.
frigate \ so that, on the 27th of the same month, 3i<& came out

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to the Strait of Magellan. 9

of the Dock-yard, complete!}^ equipped, with provisions for
eight months, and wood and water for five ; and, as the for-*
tunate conclusion of ali sea-expeditions must, in great measure,^
depend on the health and comfort of the seamen, it was the com-
mandei'^s principal care to use every precaution fpr that efFect.

He therefore sent on-board, not only an ample Supply of
additional warm clothing for the crew, but also all such medi-
cines, and other preservatives, as the experience of former
navigators had shown to be essentially useful. '

Whilst the commander was thus employed, the two officers,
charged with the nautical observations, carried on-board two
. marine watches or time-pieces, (Nos, 15 and 16 of Berthoud,)
which belonged to the Observatory of C^-diz, and also No. 71
of Arnold, a small one belonging to Lieut. Belmonte;^ and, by
means of observations on-shore, and signals on-board the frigate,
began to ascertain their several rates of motion, and to form tho
corresponding tables.

At the same time was carried on-board a complete collection
of instruments, chosen from those procured by order of His
Catholic Majesty in London, u^der the inspection of Mr.
Jactfito Magellan, and from the hands of the most eminent
artists of England. In removing them from the Observatory to
the ship, the glass tube of the marine barometer suddenly burst,
without its having received any blow or other injury ,-r-so that
the mercury was lost, — occasioned probably by the mercury
having been but imperfectly purified, or perhaps not in the
just quantity ; so that we were under the necessity of proceedf-
iiig on our voyage without that most valuably but dejicate iiin

Amongst these instruments were the best English quintanis
and sextants that could be procured : for if, by the aid of the
time-ipieces, we hoped to be able to ascertain every day the
errors occasioned in our reckoning, by its own unavoidable un*
certainty, as well as by the setting of tides and currents; so, by
constant observations of the distance of the moon from the sua
or stars, performed with these excellent instruments of reflec*
tion, by two distinct observers, it was to be expected, as it was-
afterwards experienced, that in each lunation we might disco-
ver what confidence ought to be placed in these time-pieces,
i^uppQsing them to preserve one uniform motion : and, froni
such comparisons and calculations, we made no doubt of ob-«
t;ainiqg satisfactory results.

'Lastly, as every information that could be collected respects
ing the object of the voyage must be useful, either as furnishing
advice to be followed, or as pointing out what was to h^
^voidcd^ the several officers of the frigate made it their bqsiq^s^

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4r' Cardooa^s Fcyage of DUc<wxy

. to draw together the accounts of all expeditions to ti^ Strait
of Magellan which had been pul^lished 4n the different parts
of Europe ; in which they were zealously assisted by Captaior
.t)on Alexander Malespina, of the department of Cadiz ; who.
not only parted with his own collection of Voyages, but used,
every endeavour to procure from other persons such books as
he hfmself did not possess.

All these preparations being concluded, and the commander,
satisfied that he now had on- board every thing requisite for the.
proper fulfilment of the enterprise, he ordered the vessel to be
completely cleared on the gth of October, and to be in perfect
readiness to put to sea on the following morning.


Foyagefrom Cadiz to the Strait of Magellan.*

Having received from the Captain-general of the Flpet our
final instructions and orders, authorising us to undertake the
expedition, we set sail from Cadiz, at break of day, on Sunday
the 9th of October, with an easy wind from the landj and an
ebbing tide. The little wind we had being variable, we made
but small progriess ; so that at night we w^ere still within sight
of the town. This weather lasted all night : however, in the
morning early we had a distant view of Cape Spaitel, on the
coast of Africa. By observations of our latitude at mid-diay,
and from the longitude indicated by the time-pieces, as well as
from our position according to the sea-chart, we found that the
currents had carried us towards the south-east quarter, — a thing
very common in these parts, on account of their general setting
into the Strait of Gibraltar. In the evening we directed our
course for the Canary Islands, Avhich we reached without meet-
ing with any thing remarkable on the passage.

The time-pieces. No. l6 of Berthoud and No. 71 of Arnold,
kept an uniform pace : but No. 15 of the former artist gave
room, from our first setting out, to suspect its accuracy ; ais its
movements differed continually from those of the other two.

During the passage to the Canaries, no considerable setting
of the waters was perceived; the errors occasioned by them in
our reckoning mutually counterbalancing each other.

At day-break of the l6th, we discovered the islands Grand
I " ■ ■ ■ —

* The name in the Spanish lanosoage is MagalUmeSf and pronounced nearly
thus in English— ilfo^o/^anes, the third syllable being accented. The Itaiians^
•pell it JUIs^Qgluines, which is equivalent to the former,


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to the Strati of Magellan. , 5

Canary wd Teneriffie- At -7^ hours a,m. we took observations
of the seid's altitud(^, in or4pr to determine our longitude ; and
at the same time found the Pic of Teyde, in TenerifFe, bearing-
from us W. 3** S. and the W. point of Grand Canary, S. 14**
W. from which observation we ascertained our place on thq
chart, making* use of that of M. Verdun de la Crenne : and the
latitude so pointed out agreed with that observed the following
noon ; when allowances had been made for a reckoning care-^
fully kept during the interval of four-and-a-half hours, and for
the setting of the waters to the southward ; which, by observing
the bearings of the island, we found had been the case. Wq
were therefore at that time, according to the above-mentioned
<;hart, in N. lat.(28*' 18' 2(/, and in long. W. from Cadiz, 9«
28' 48". The time-piece. No. l6 of Berthoud, indicated 2' 7",
and No. 71 of Arnold ti 4" more to the westward: differences
so inconsiderable on a course of such extent, as to give great
hopes of reaping the highest advantages from those machines ;
whilst we entirely abandoned No. 15 of Berthoud, of whose
accuracy we had all along been very suspicious. The errors in
our ship*s reckoning had been so compensated one by another,
that it differed only a few minutes from the place laid down oil
the chart.*

All this day we continued under sail, Avith light winds, be-
tween the Grand Canary and Teneriffe, whose peak disap-
peared to us soon after midnight ; nor did we see it anymore
on the following day, on account of the fresh weather. With
tolerably fresh breezes we stood on to the S.S.W. that we
might the sooner get out of the calms so often met with to
leeward of the Canaries.

* It isaecessaryhere to remark, that all the bearings mentioned in 'this accoAnt
are corrected for the variation *, and that the longitude is connted from the me-
ridian of the J^oyal Marine Observatory at Cadiz 6° 16' W. from Greenwich.

In the account of the last Voyage of the celebrated Captain Cook, an attempt
is made to prove, that the position of the Road of Santa Cruz, in Teneriffe,- is
I4t SOf to the westward of that assigned by Captain Don Joseph Varela ; who
was employed, with Messrs. Verdun de la Crenne and Borda, in constructing the
above chart. The observations of the Spanish astronomer must be preferable to
those of Captain Cook, as being absolute, and independent of any errors occa-
sioned by a time-piece. However, as much pains are taken in the above voyag-e
to show that Varela was mistaken, we will here compare two positions, as laid
down by Cook, with those assijined by two distinct astronomers ; which, joined
to Cook's remark on the Cape of Good Hope, which he lays down 8' 'i.j" to the
W. of the truth, will demonstrate that his time-piece went out of England wiUi a
positive error ; or that, in a few days, it contracted that error.

Isle of Ouessant (Ushant), according to Cook W. from Paris 7^ 37' 37"

Ditto, according to M. M. Verdim and Borda 7 *i4 So ,

Cook to the westward .0 13 (H

Cape Finisterre, accofidiog to Cook, W. from Cadiz . . .3 1 2 00

Ditt0| according to Don Vicente Tofino a 55 54/

Cook to the westward O 16 06 >

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6 Cordovans Voyage of BUcvoery

Ahhough it is the ordinary practice to cross the Equinoctial
Line about the meridian of Teneriffe# (10** 22* W. from Cadiz;)
yet, in order to avoid the calms which almost constantly prevail

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