Magellan - First Voyage Round the World

FERDINAND MAGELLAN was by birth a Portuguese, decended from a good family, and born towards the end of the fifteenth century. In consequence of certain services in the Indian Seas, he applied to the government for some recompense; but being treated with neglect, he left his own country to seek employment in a foreign land. In company with Ruy Falero, an eminent astronomer, and one of his associates, he traveled into Spain, and explained to Charles V, the reigning monarch, his project of making discoveries in distant seas. The court listened to the adventurer with favor, and consented to fit out an expedition.

Magellan's little squadron consisted of five ships, manned with 237 men, and supplied with provisions, ammunition and stores, for two years. On the 1st of August, 1519, they left Seville, and on the 27th of September sailed from Sanlucar, steering for the Canaries. They refreshed at Teneriffe, and early in October passed the Cape de Verd Islands. Holding on their course, they bore along the coast of Africa, till they crossed the line, seventy days after their departure. In the beginning of December, they came to that part of Brazil which is now called the Bay of St. Lucia. They subsequently anchored at the mouth of a large river, supposed to be the Rio Janeiro, where they continued a fortnight. On their first landing, the inhabitants flocked to the beach in great numbers, beholding, as they imagined, five sea-monsters approaching the shore. When the boats put out from the ships, the natives set up a great shout, conceiving them to be young sea-monsters, the offspring of the others.

Proceeding along the South American Coast, the squadron arrived in April, 1520, at a large bay, now called by the name of St. Julian. Here they saw a wild, gigantic race, of great size and fierceness, who made a roaring not unlike that of bulls. One of them came on board the admiral's ship, and was well pleased with his reception but happening to cast his eyes on a looking-glass, he was so terrified, that starting backwards, he beat to the ground two men who stood behind him. Others subsequently came on board, and their behavior afforded great entertainment to the officers. One of these savages ate a basket full of ship-biscuits, and drank a cask of water at a meal. They wore sandals, or a kind of shoes, made of skins, and this caused their feet to appear like those of an animal. Magellan named them Patagonians, from the Spanish word pata, signifying a hoof, or paw.

Magellan determined to continue here till the return of spring, as it is winter in the southern hemisphere during our summer. He had ordered the allowance of provisions to be shortened, to meet this exigence, which caused much discontent among the crews. A mutiny soon followed, which was not quelled till one of the officers was hanged, and some others were sent on shore to be left among the Patagonians. Five dreary months were passed in the harbor of St. Julian, during which, every exertion was made to insure the successful prosecution of the voyage. On the 24th of August, the squadron again set sail, the weather being fine, and proceeded southward, till a violent gale from the east drove one of the vessels on shore, but the crew was happily saved. Coasting south with the four remaining ships, they approached a cape, near which an opening was discovered which was found afterwards to be a strait. Upon this, Magellan gave orders that all other ships should carefully examine the strait, promising to wait for them a certain number of days. While the three vessels were employed in this expedition, one of them was driven out of the strait by the reflux of the tide, when the crew, dissatisfied with their situation,. rose on their captain, made him prisoner, and again set sail for Europe.

After waiting several days beyond the time he had fixed, Magellan entered the strait or arm of the sea, which has ever since retained his name. The entrance lies in 52 degrees south latitude, and the strait, which is about 110 leagues in length, is very wide in some places, and in others not more than half a league from shore to shore. On both sides the land was high, and the mountains were covered with snow, on advancing about 50 leagues west from the entrance.

In about six weeks they found themselves again in an open sea, the coast terminating westward in a cape, and the shore of the continent taking a northerly direction. The sight of the Pacific Ocean gave Magellan the utmost joy, he being the first European who sailed upon it. Proceeding W.N.W. he arrived at the Ladrone Islands, to which he gave that name on account of the thievish disposition of the natives.

They sailed from the Ladrones on the 10th of March, 1521, and after visiting a number of islands, entered the port of Lebu on the 7th of April. From Lebu they sailed to the island of Mathan, which being governed by two kings, and one of them refusing to pay tribute to the king of Spain, Magellan prepared to reduce him. He marched into the interior of the island, accompanied by sixty Europeans. Here he was attacked by three distinct bodies of the islanders, whose united force amounted to upwards of six thousand. The battle was for some time doubtful, till Magellan's impetuosity carrying him too far, he was killed by being wounded in the leg with a poisoned arrow, and stabbed through the body by a spear. Eight or nine of the Spaniards and fifteen of the Indians were also slain. After the death of the admiral, new commanders were chosen from among the surviving officers, and as the ships were now in a very bad condition, it was found necessary to make use of one to repair the other two.