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Parkinson's JournalVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
20 - 24 January 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Terra del Fuego



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Terra del Fuego (continued)

During our stay on this island, the naturalists collected a great many plants, and other curiosities, most of which are non-descript: but an unfortunate accident happened in one of their excursions; Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Buchan, with several attendants, two of whom were negroes, went far up into the country, and at length ascended the hills, which they found covered with snow, and the air upon them so intensely cold, that they staid but a short time. On their return, they missed their way, and wandered about for a considerable time, not knowing whither they went, but at length they found their former track. While the naturalists were searching for plants upon the hill, two negroes and a tailor, who were left to guard the liquor and provision, having made too free with the brandy-bottle, were rendered incapable of keeping pace with the rest of the company, who made all possible speed, hoping to have reached the ship before the day closed in upon them, dreading the consequence of being exposed in a strange land, and an inhospitable clime; but time, that waits for no man, brought on the night, which put an end to their hopes, and excited the most alarming apprehensions: Being out of breath, fatigued, and dispirited, and almost benumbed with cold, particularly Dr. Solander, insomuch that he was unable to walk, and was carried near two hours on their shoulders; and it was thought he would not have survived the perils of the ensuing night. In this hapless situation, they held a consultation on what was best to be attempted for their preservation, till the light of the morning should return; and determined, if possible, to kindle a fire, which they happily effected, gathering together some wood, and, by the help of their fowling pieces, and tome paper, setting it on fire. The cold was so intense, that they found it would not be safe to lie down, lest they should fall asleep, and be frozen to death; where-fore they walked round it all night. The three men who were left behind, being tired, sat down in the woods, and fell asleep, but one of them providentially soon awoke, started up, and, being apprehensive of the imminent danger they were in, attempted to rouse his companions, but they were too far sunk into the sleep of death to be recovered. In this forlorn situation the man could not expect to sur-vive them long, and therefore he fled for his life, hallooing as he went along, in hopes that some of the company would hear him, which, after wandering some time in a pathless wilderness, they happily did, and answered him as loud as their enfeebled voices would admit: Overjoyed at the event, he resumed fresh courage, and, making toward the part from which the sound proceeded, at length came up with them. Touched with sympathy for his companions, he told the company of the condition in which he left them; and they were disposed to have yielded them assistance, but, it being almost dark, there was not any probability of finding them, and the attempt would have been attended with the risque of their own lives, they therefore declined it. However, the next morning, after break of day, they dispatched the man in quest of his companions, whom he at length found frozen to death; but the dog that had been with them all the night had survived them: he found him sitting close by his master’s corpse, and seemed reluctant to leave it; but at length the dog forsook it, and went back to the company; they all set out immediately towards the ship, which they reached about 11 o’clock in the fore-noon, to our great joy, as we had despaired of their return.

Having furnished ourselves with wood and water, and let down our guns and lumber below deck, to be better prepared for the high gales which we expected in going round Cape Horn; on the 21st of January, 1769, we weighed anchor, and left the Bay of Good Success, and proceeded on our voyage through the Straits of Le Maire, which are formed by Cape Antonio on Staten-land, and Cape Vincent on Terra del Fuego to the north; and on the south by Cape Bartholomew on Staten-land, and a high promontory on Terra del Fuego, passing between them, and are about nine leagues long, and seven broad.

The land on both sides, particularly Staten-land, affords a most dismal prospect, being made up chiefly of barren rocks and tremendous precipices, covered with snow, and uninhabited, forming one of those natural views which human nature can scarce behold without shuddering. — How amazingly diversified are the works of the Deity within the narrow limits of this globe we inhabit, which, compared with the vast aggregate of systems that compose the universe, appears but a dark speck in the creation! A curiosity, perhaps, equal to Solomon’s, though accompanied with lets wisdom than was possessed by the Royal Philosopher, induced some of us to quit our native land, to investigate the heavenly bodies minutely in distant regions, as well as to trace the signatures of the Supreme Power and Intelligence throughout several species of animals, and different genera of plants in the vegetable system, "from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth. out of the wall:" and the more we investigate, the more we ought to admire the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the Great Superintendant of the universe; which attributes are amply displayed throughout all his works; the smallest object, seen, through the microscope, declares its origin to be divine, as well as those larger ones which the unassisted eye is capable of contemplating; but to proceed [1].

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© Derived from the London 1773 edition printed for Stanfield Parkinson, pages 10 - 10, 2004
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