CHAPTER V. THE VOYAGE ROUND CAPE HORN.

DEPARTURE FROM RIO JANEIRO - SANTOS AND ST. PAULO - CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF CAPE HORN - THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN - ARRIVAL IN VALPARAISO - 8TH DECEMBER, 1846, TO 2ND MARCH, 1847.

When I paid 25 pounds for my place in the fine English barque, "John Renwick," Captain Bell, the latter promised me that he would be ready to sail on the 25th of November at the latest, and would stop at no intermediate port, but shape his course direct to Valparaiso. The first part of this promise I believed, because he assured me that every day he stopped cost him 7 pounds; and the second, because, as a general rule, I willingly believe every one, even ship captains. In both particulars, however, was I deceived; for it was not until the 8th of December that I received a notice to go on board that evening and then for the first time the captain informed me that he must run into Santos, to lay in a stock of provisions, which were there much cheaper than in Rio Janeiro; that he also intended clearing out a cargo of coal and taking in another of sugar. He did not tell me till we arrived in Santos itself, where he also assured me that all these different matters would not take him more than three or four days.

I took leave of my friends and went on board in the evening; Count Berchthold and Messrs. Geiger and Rister accompanying me to the ship.

Early in the morning of the 9th of December we weighed anchor, but the wind was so unfavourable that we were obliged to tack the whole day in order to gain the open sea, and it was not until about 10 A.M. that we lost sight of land.

There were eight passengers besides myself; five Frenchmen, one Belgian, and two citizens of Milan. I looked upon the latter as half countrymen of mine, and we were soon very good friends.

It was the second time this year that the two Italians were making the voyage round Cape Horn. Their first had not been fortunate; they reached Cape Horn in winter, which in those cold southern latitudes lasts from April till about November. {53} They were unable to circumnavigate the Cape, being driven back by violent contrary winds and storms, against which they strove for fourteen weary days without making the least progress. The crew now lost courage, and affirmed that it would be advisable to turn back and wait for more favourable winds. The captain, however, was not of this opinion, and succeeded so well in working upon the pride of the crew that they once more engaged in their conflict with the elements. It was, however, for the last time, for the very same night a tremendous sea broke over the ship, tearing away all her upper works, and sweeping the captain and six of the sailors overboard. The water poured in torrents into the cabins, and drove every one from the berths. The bulwarks, boats, and binnacle were carried clean off, and the mainmast had to be cut away. The sailors then turned the ship about, and after a long and dangerous voyage, succeeded in bringing her, dismasted as she was, into Rio Janeiro.

This story was not very encouraging, but the fine weather and our good ship relieved us of all anxiety. With regard to the vessel, we could not have chosen a better. It had large, comfortable cabins, an exceedingly good-natured and obliging captain, and a bill of fare which must have contented the most dainty palate. Every day we had roast or stewed fowls, ducks, or geese, fresh mutton or pork, eggs variously prepared, plum-pudding and tarts; to all this were added side dishes of ham, rice, potatoes, and other vegetables; and for dessert, dried fruit, nuts, almonds, cheese, etc. There was also plenty of bread, fresh baked every day, and good wine. We all unanimously acknowledged that we had never been so well treated, or had so good a table in any sailing vessel before; and we could, therefore, in this respect, look forward to our voyage without any apprehension.

On the 12th of December we hove in sight of the mountain ranges of Santos, and at 9 o'clock the same evening we reached a bay which the captain took for that of the same name. Lighted torches were repeatedly held over the vessel's side to summon a pilot; no pilot, however, made his appearance, and we were therefore obliged to trust to chance, and anchor at the mouth of the bay.

On the morning of the 13th a pilot came on board, and astonished us with the intelligence that we had anchored before the wrong bay. We had some trouble in working our way out, and anchoring about noon in the right one. A pretty little chateau-like building immediately attracted our attention. We took it for some advanced building of the town, and congratulated one another on having reached our temporary destination so quickly. On approaching nearer, however, we could perceive no signs of the town, and learned that the building was a small fort, and that Santos was situated in a second bay, communicating with the first by a small arm of the sea. Unluckily, the wind had by this time fallen, and we were obliged to be at anchor all day, and it was not until the 14th that a slight breeze sprang up and wafted us into port.

Santos is most charmingly situated at the entrance of a large valley. Picturesque hills, adorned with chapels and detached houses, rise on each side, and immediately beyond are considerable mountain ranges, spreading in a semi-circle round the valley, while a lovely island forms a most beautiful foreground to the whole.

We had scarcely landed before the captain informed us that we must stop for at least five days. The Italians, one of the Frenchmen, and myself determined that we would take advantage of this delay to make an excursion to St. Paulo, the largest inland town of the Brazils, and about forty miles from Santos. The same evening we hired mules, for which we paid five milreis (10s. 10d.) each, and set out upon our trip.