Journal of a Cruise
Adventures in the Pacific
Patrick arrived alone at Guyaquil [sic] in his open boat, the rest who sailed with him having perished for want of water, or, as is generally supposed, were put to death by him on his finding the water to grow scarse. From thence he proceeded to Payta, where he wound himself into the affection of a tawny damsel, and prevailed on her to consent to accompany him back to his enchanted island, the beauties of which he no doubt painted in glowing colours; but, from his savage appearance, he was there considered by the police as a suspicious person, and being found under the keel of a small vessel then ready to be launched, and suspected of some improper intentions, he was confined in Payta gaol, where he now remains; and probably owing to this circumstance Charles' island, as well as the rest of the Gallapagos, may remain unpopulated for many ages to come. This reflection may naturally lead us to a consideration of the question concerning the population of the other islands scattered about the Pacific ocean, respecting which so many conjectures have been hazarded. I shall only hazard one, which is briefly this: that former ages may have produced men equally as bold and as daring at Pat, and women as willing as his tender one to accompany them in their adventurous voyages. And when we consider the issue which might be produced from an union between a red-haired wild Irishman, and a copper-coloured mixt-blooded squaw, we need not be any longer surprized at the different varieties of human nature.
The last time he went to Guyaquil [sic], and thinking he might as well have a queen for his beautiful island, of which he was the sole and daring monarch, after, I suppose, telling all manner of inducing stories, there was the wife of a Spaniard who agreed to accompany him. She was actually in the boat, and they about to shove off, when the Spaniard jumped in to bring back his wife. A struggle ensued; “Pat” was stabbed to the heart, and fell dead in the bottom of his “Black Prince.”
Neither Porter nor Coulter offer the definitive account of Watkins, who left Galápagos in 1809. Porter arrived four years later and learned about Watkins from Captain Randall of the Barclay. Coulter visited Galápagos in 1833—twenty years after Porter—and heard about Watkins from an unidentified source. Perhaps the difference between their accounts can be attributed to the passage of time, and no doubt the Watkins legend was embellished over the intervening quarter-century interval. Melville of course offers a fictionalized version of Porter's account.—JW.
From Guayaquil Oberlus proceeded to Payta, and there, with that nameless witchery peculiar to some of the ugliest animals, wound himself into the affections of a tawny damsel, prevailing upon her to accompany him back to his Enchanted Isle; which doubtless he painted as a Paradise of flowers, not a Tartarus of clinkers.
But unfortunately for the colonization of Hood's Isle with a choice variety of animated nature, the extraordinary and devilish aspect of Oberlus made him to be regarded in Payta as a highly suspicious character. So that being found concealed one night, with matches in his pocket, under the hull of a small vessel just ready to be launched, he was seized and thrown into jail.
The jails in most South American towns are generally of the least wholesome sort. Built of huge cakes of sunburnt brick, and containing but one room, without windows or yard, and but one door heavily grated with wooden bars, they present both within and without the grimmest aspect. As public edifices they conspicuously stand upon the hot and dusty Plaza, offering to view, through the gratings, their villainous and hopeless inmates, burrowing in all sorts of tragic squalor. And here, for a long time, Oberlus was seen, the central figure of a mongrel and assassin band, a creature whom it is religion to detest, since it is philanthropy to hate a misanthrope.