« PředchozíPokračovat »
immediately got under way with the squadron, and succeeded in making an offing. As we opened the land to the southward, my view and thoughts wandered in that direction, hoping that still, and at the last moment, the missing tender might heave in sight. But no white speck was seen, nor any thing that could cause a ray of hope that she might yet be in existence; and my fears foreboded what has since proved too true,-she and her crew had perished.
On the second day after leaving Valparaiso, we had a fresh gale from the northward, accompanied with much sea. During the night, in thick weather, we lost sight of the Peacock and Flying-Fish. On the 9th we got beyond the wind, which blows along the coast from the northward, and our weather improved, exchanging fog, rain, mist, and contrary winds, for clear weather, and winds from the southwest.
The current was found west-by-north, nine miles in twenty-four hours. The wind, however, continued variable. On the 12th, in longitude 74° 40' W., latitude 28° 34' S., we took the trades, but they proved very unsteady. They were very strong for a few hours, and then again light and almost calm, with squally appearances all around the horizon.
The sea was quite smooth, and the weather pleasant. During the days that the trade-winds were not strong, we usually had the wind to vary to the northward and eastward for a few hours.
On the morning of the 19th, the zodiacal light was quite brilliant, resembling the aurora borealis, but without its radiating, vacillating, and transitory appearance, and having the form of a distinct narrow
At its base it was 20°; the apex could not be ascertained, on account of the intervention of clouds. As the dawn increased, the cone grew broader, until it was lost in the daylight. Its whole duration was about forty-five minutes. The stars were seen through it, as though covered with a transparent veil. On the same day, we found the temperature at bottom, in eighty-three fathoms, 57°, whilst at the surface it was 63o. We were then abreast of Point Sola, and San Lorenzo bore to the north, distant twenty-five miles.
On the 20th, in the evening, we passed through the Bouqueron Passage, having got several casts of the lead in three and a quarter fathoms water; and by the assistance of the lights of the other vessels, anchored near the rest of the squadron at San Lorenzo, after a passage of thirteen days. We found them all well, and proceeding rapidly with their repairs. The Peacock and Flying-Fish arrived two days before us. We found the current generally with us, but not strong. The temperature of the water varied at sea from 58-27° to 66-5°; that of the air, from 57:3° to 63.04° : a rise of eight degrees in the former and six degrees in the latter, in twenty-one degrees of latitude.
On receiving the reports of the commanders of the different vessels, active operations were at once begun to refit, replenish our stores, and complete our duties. The necessary changes in officers and men were made, in consequence of my determination to send the Relief home. This I resolved to do on several accounts. I have stated that from the first I found her ill-adapted to the service; her sailing I saw would retard all my operations, and be a constant source of anxiety to me; and I felt that I already had objects enough without her to occupy and engross my attention. The expense was another consideration, which I conceived myself unauthorized to subject the government to, particularly as I found on calculation, that for one-tenth of the sum it would cost to keep her, I could send our stores and provisions to any part of the Pacific.
We found it necessary to have the Relief smoked, in order to destroy the rats with which she was infested, to save our stores from further damage. During this time the repairs of the Porpoise had been completed, and the usual observations for rating our chronometers, and with the magnetic instruments, were made on shore; and such officers as could be spared allowed to visit Lima. The naturalists were also busy in their several departments. We remained at San Lorenzo ten days, during which time its three highest points were measured with barometers at the same time. The result gave eight hundred and ninety-six feet for the southern, nine hundred and twenty for the middle, and twelve hundred and eighty-four for the northern summit. Upon the latter the clouds generally rest, and it is the only place on the island where vegetation is enabled to exist. The others are all barren sandy hills. It is said that the only plant which has been cultivated is the potato, and that only on the north peak. This becomes possible there from the moisture of the clouds, and their shielding it from the hot sun.
The geological structure of the island is principally composed of limestone, clay, and slate. It presents a beautiful stratification. Gypsum is found in some places between the strata, and crystals of selenite are met with in one or two localities. Quantities of shell-fish are found on the shore, and the waters abound with excellent fish.
The burying-ground is the only object of interest here. The graves are covered with white shells, and a white board, on which is inscribed the name, &c. They appear to be mostly of Englishmen and Americans, and it would seem that the mortality had been great. But when one comes to consider the large number of men-of-war which have been lying in the bay, and the period of time elapsed, the number of interments do not seem large.
It was with much pleasure we greeted the arrival of the Falmouth, Captain M'Keever, whose kindness in supplying our wants, and forwarding our operations, we again experienced. The essential and timely aid he gave me, in exchanging the launch and first cutter of his ship, for materials to build one, which I had brought from Valparaiso for that purpose, prevented our detention here.
The Falmouth brought from Valparaiso three deserters from the squadron, who had been apprehended by Lieutenant Craven, and from whom I received a report, stating that two of them, Blake and Lester, had been guilty not only of desertion, but that their desertions had been attended with very aggravated circumstances. Just about this time the stores were delivering from the Relief. Among them was a quantity of whiskey for the other vessels. The marines who were placed on duty over the spirit-room as guard, with six persons employed in moving it, got drunk by stealing the liquor, and her whole crew became riotous. The delinquents were ordered on board my ship in confinement. These were court-martial offences, but the duties of the squadron would not permit me to order a court for their trial, without great loss of time and detriment to the service. To let such offences pass with the ordinary punishment of twelve lashes, would have been in the eyes of the crew, to have overlooked their crime altogether. I was, therefore, compelled, in order to preserve order and good discipline, to inflict what I deemed a proper punishment, and ordered them each to receive twenty-four lashes, excepting Blake and Lester, who received thirty-six and forty-one. This was awarding to each about one-tenth of what a court-martial would have inflicted; yet it was such an example as thoroughly convinced the men that they could not offend with impunity. This was, I am well satisfied, considered at the time as little or no punishment for the crimes of which they had been guilty; but I felt satisfied that the prompt and decided manner in which it was administered, would have the desired effect of preserving the proper discipline, and preventing its recurrence. In this I was not disappointed. I should not have made this statement, had it not been that this was the sole charge, out of eleven, spread out into thirty-six specifications, on which a court of thirteen members, after an investigation of three weeks, could find I had transgressed the laws of the navy in the smallest degree. In justification of my course on this occasion, I could not but believe that the following clause of my instructions from the Hon. J. K. Paulding, Secretary of the Navy, ought to have sufficed: “In the prosecution of these long and devious voyages, you will necessarily be placed in situations which cannot be anticipated, and in which sometimes your own judgment and discre.
tion, and at others necessity, must be your guide.” Under this I acted. I am fully satisfied that in this case circumstances did occur, which in the language of my instructions did make “necessity my guide,” and I fully believe that in so doing I saved the results of the Expedition, the honour of the navy, and the glory of the country.
On the 30th of June, the squadron went over to Callao.
The Bay of Callao is too well known to require much to be said of it. The climate, combined with the prevailing winds, make it a fine harbour. The island of San Lorenzo protects it on the west from the swell of the ocean, but its northern side is entirely exposed; there is no danger to be apprehended from that quarter. A few miles to the north the influence of San Lorenzo ceases; the surf there breaks very heavily up on the beach, and prevents any landing.
The gradual manner in which the extensive plain rises from Callao towards Lima, seems to give a very erroneous idea of the situation of the city. From the bay it is seen quite distinctly, about six miles distant, and does not appear to be elevated; yet I measured the height of Mr. Bartlett's house above the level of the sea by sympiesometer, and found it four hundred and twenty feet. The rise would be scarcely perceptible to a stranger passing over the road, or one who had not a practised eye.
The tide at Callao is small, generally of three and four feet rise. The temperature of the water during our stay was 60'; of the air from 57° to 63o.
Since my visit to Callao in 1821, it had much altered and for the better, notwithstanding the vicissitudes it has gone through since that time. A fine mole has been erected, surrounded by an iron railing. On it is a guard-house, with soldiers lounging about, and some two or three on guard.
The mole affords every convenience for landing from small vessels and boats. The streets of Callao have been made much wider, and the town has a more decent appearance. Water is conducted from the canal to the mole, and a railway takes the goods to the fortress, which is now converted into a depot. This place, the seaport of Lima, must be one of the great resorts of shipping, not only for its safety, but for the convenience of providing supplies. The best idea of its trade will be formed from the number of vessels that frequent it. I have understood that there is generally about the same number as we found in port, namely, forty-two, nine of which were ships of war: five American, two French, one Chilian, and thirty-five Peruvian merchantmen, large and small. The Castle of Callao has become celebrated in history, and has long
been the key of Peru. Whichever party had it in possession, were considered as the possessors of the country. It is now converted to a better use, viz. : that of a custom-house, and is nearly dismantled. Only five of its beautiful guns remain, out of one hundred and fortyfive, which it is said to have mounted. During our visit there the Chilian troops had possession of the country, which they had held since the battle of Yungai. Most of the buildings are undergoing repairs since the late contest.
It is said that the fortress is to be demolished, and thus the peace of Callao will in a great measure be secured.
The principal street of Callao runs parallel with the bay. There are a few tolerably well-built two-story houses on the main street, which is paved. These houses are built of adobes, and have flat roofs, which is no inconvenience here, in consequence of the absence of heavy rains. The interior of the houses is of the commonest kind of work. The partition walls are built of cane, closely laced together. The houses of the common people are of one story, and about ten feet high; some of them have a grated window, but most of them only a doorway and one room. Others are seen that hardly deserve the name of houses, being nothing more than mud walls, with holes covered with a mat, and the same overhead.
The outskirts of Callao deserve mentioning only for their excessive filth; and were it not for the fine climate it would be the hot-bed of pestilence. One feels glad to escape from this neighbourhood.
The donations to the clergy or priests, at two small chapels, are collected on Saturdays from the inhabitants. On the evening of the same day, the devotees of the church, headed by the priest, carry a small portable altar through the streets, decorated with much tinsel, and various-coloured glass lamps, on which is a rude painting of the Virgin. As they walk, they chaunt their prayers.
The market, though there is nothing else remarkable about it, exhibits many of the peculiar customs of the country. It is held in a square of about one and a half acres. The stands for selling meat are placed indiscriminately, or without order. Bcef is sold for from four to six cents the pound, is cut in the direction of its fibre, and looks filthy. It is killed on the commons, and the hide, head, and horns are left for the buzzards and dogs. The rest is brought to market, on the backs of donkeys. Chickens are cut up to suit purchasers. Fish and vegetables are abundant, and of good kinds, and good fruit may be had if bespoken. In this case it is brought from Lima. Every thing confirms, on landing, the truth of the geographical adage, “ In Peru it never rains.” It appears every where dusty and parched up.