By John Kendrick
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Extra info for Alejandro Malaspina: Portrait of a Visionary
The hopes were to be dashed, and he spent another five years in the fortress before he was exiled to Italy. However, all this lay well on in the future for the thirty-five-yearold commander when the expedition sailed from Cadiz on 30 June 1789. They were not long underway when caterpillars were found in the bread supply. Malaspina the scientist reacted to this by obtaining an opinion from his experts that the eggs were probably in the bread before it came aboard, and that not only were the caterpillars harmless but they might be nutritious.
The other was let off on a promise of good behaviour, because there was some doubt that he had intended to desert. Malaspina was following the policy of "kindness to the good and strictness with the bad" which he had enunciated when he was appointed to the command of Astrea in 1786. The rest of the journal for his two weeks in Talcahuano is occupied with a detailed account of the surveys carried out during that time. 31 Having established their correct position, he joined Bustamante in Valparaiso, the port for Santiago, a provincial capital.
Both Lángara and 22 Alejandro Malaspina Cordoba were prominent flag officers, and many of their officers later had distinguished careers. Other ships followed, and in 1782 Malaspina, now twenty-eight, was in a frigate named Santa Clara. A discussion with the ship's chaplain in which Malaspina argued that reincarnation was possible was reported to the Inquisition by a certain Agustín Alcaraz, one of the storekeepers in the ship. Alcaraz claimed that Malaspina read foreign books, was perfunctory in his religious duties, and had the statue of the ship's patron saint removed from the wardroom while the commander was absent.
Alejandro Malaspina: Portrait of a Visionary by John Kendrick