The Loss of the Wager
The Narratives of John Bulkeley and the Hon. John Byron
The Loss of the Wager is an eighteenth century melodrama set in a ferociously inhospitable climate on one of the world's most remote and dangerous coastlines.
The Loss of the Wager is an eighteenth century melodrama set in a ferociously inhospitable climate on one of the world's most remote and dangerous coastlines. When Commodore Anson set out for the Pacific in 1740, to attackthe Spanish ships on the Chilean coast, he took eight ships with him. The Wager was effectively a transport ship, carrying stores and a force of marines; as the squadron rounded Cape Horn in fearsome weather, she was unable to keep up with the rest of them, and with her gear wrecked by the storm, was driven ashore on the Patagonian coast. The tale of mutiny, hardship and tenacity that ensued was told by two of the survivors, John Bulkeley, leader of those who repudiated the captain's authority, and John Byron, then a midshipman, who remained with the captain. Both eventually reached home by different routes, and their dramatic narratives caught the public imagination. Byronwas the grandfather of the poet, Lord Byron, who much admired the book and based the shipwreck scenes in Don Juan on 'my grand-dad's Narrative'. This voyage was the basis for Patrick O'Brian's historical work The Unknown Shore, written before he embarked on the Jack Aubrey novels.
"The story of the Wager, whether told by Bulkeley or Byron, is one which reveals extremes of human behaviour in adversity." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY
"Two remarkable and fascinating histories. THE REVIEW, the journal of the" NHCRA
"These lively accounts are full of astute comment and revealing asides on the contemporary Royal Navy, as well as remarkable touches of humour in the midst of the grimmest predicaments." .
"Indeed, both Bulkeley and Byron have left a valuable picture of the lost tribes of coastal Chile, and Boydell and Brewer are to be commended for this first person singular series. In this volume it certainly achieves the purpose of 'telling history in the words of those who took part'. These are true eighteenth-century voices." MARINER'S MIRROR