Daniel Defoe.

The King of Pirates


ONE of the particular Advantages of the following Letters from Captain Avery, is, the Satisfaction they will give the Readers how much they have been imposd upon in the former ridiculous and extravagant Accounts which have been put upon the World in what has been publishd already.

It has been enough to the Writers of this Mans Life, as they call it, that they could put any Thing together, to make a kind of monstrous unheard of Story, as romantick as the Reports that have been spread about of him; and the more those Stories appeard monstrous and incredible, the more suitable they seemd to be to what the World would have been made to expect of Captain Avery.

There is always a great Deference between what Men say of themselves, and what others say for them, when they come to write Historically of the Transactions of their Lives.

The Publisher of these Letters recommends this Performance to the Readers, to make their Judgment of the Difference between them and the extravagant Stories already told, and which is most likely to be genuine; and, as they verily believe these Letters to be the best and truest Account of Captain Averys Piracies, that ever has or ever will come to the Knowledge of the World, they recommend them as such, and doubt not but they will answer for themselves in the Reading.

The Account given of Captain Averys taking the Great Moguls Daughter, ravishing and murdering her, and all the Ladies of her Retinue, is so differently related here, and so extravagantly related before, that it cannot but be a Satisfaction to the most unconcernd Reader, to find such a horrible Piece of Villainy as the other was supposd to be, not to have been committed in the World.

On the contrary, we find here, that except plundering that Princess of her Jewels and Money to a prodigious Value, a Thing which, falling into the Hands of Freebooters, every one that had the Misfortune to fall into such Hands would expect: But, that excepting this, the Lady was used with all the Decency and Humanity, and, perhaps, with more than ever Women, falling among Pirates, had found before; especially considering that, by Report, she was a most beautiful and agreeable Person herself, as were also several of those about her.

The Booty taken with her, tho infinitely great in itself, yet has been so magnifyd beyond common Sense, that it makes all the rest that has been said of those Things ridiculous and absurd.

The like Absurdity in the former Relations of this Matter, is that of the making an Offer of I know not how many Millions to the late Queen, for Captain Averys Pardon, with a Petition to the Queen, and her Majestys negative Answer; all which are as much true as his being Master of so many Millions if Money, which he nor his Gang never had; and of his being proclaimd King of Madagascar; marrying the Moguls Daughter, and the like: And, by the Bye, it was but ill laid together of those who publishd, that he first ravishd her, then murderd her, and then marryd her; all which are very remarkable for the recommending the Thing to those that read it.

If these Stories are explaind here, and duly exposd, and the History of Captain Avery set in a fairer Light, the End is answerd; and of this the Readers are to be the only Judges: But this may be said, without any Arrogance, that this Story, strippd of all the romantick, improbable, and impossible Parts of it, looks more like the History of Captain Avery, than any Thing yet publishd ever has done; and, if it is not provd that the Captain wrote these Letters himself, the Publisher says, None but the Captain himself will ever be able to mend them.


YOU may be sure I receivd with Resentment enough the Account, that a most ridiculous Book, entitled, My Life and Adventures, had been publishd in England, being fully assurd nothing of Truth could be containd in such a Work; and tho it may be true, that my extravagant Story may be the proper Foundation of a Romance, yet as no Man has a Title to publish it better than I have to expose and contradict it, I send you this by one of my particular Friends, who having an Opportunity of returning into England, has promisd to convey it faithfully to you; by which, at least, two Things shall be made good to the World; first, that they shall be satisfyd in the scandalous and unjust Manner in which others have already treated me, and it shall give, in the mean Time, a larger Account of what may at present be fit to be made publick, of my unhappy tho successful Adventures.

I shall not trouble my Friends with any Thing of my Original and first Introduction into the World, I leave it to you to add from yourself what you think proper to be known on that Subject; only this I enjoin you to take Notice of, that the Account printed of me, with all the Particulars of my Marriage, my being defrauded, and leaving my Family and native Country on that Account, is a meer Fable and a made Story, to embellish, as the Writer of it perhaps supposd, the rest of his Story, or perhaps to fill up the Book, that it might swell to a Magnitude which his barren Invention could not supply.

In the present Account, I have taken no Notice of my Birth, Infancy, Youth, or any of that Part; which, as it was the most useless Part of my Years to myself so tis the most useless to any one that shall read this Work to know, being altogether barren of any Thing remarkable in it self, or instructing to others: It is sufficient to me to let the World know, as above, that the former Accounts, made publick, are utterly false, and to begin my Account of myself at a Period which may be more useful and entertaining.

It may be true, that I may represent some Particulars of my Life, in this Tract, with Reserve, or Enlargement, such as may be sufficient to conceal any Thing in my present Circumstance that ought to be conceald and reservd, with Respect to my own Safety; and therefore, if on Pretence of Justice the busy World should look for me in one Part of the World when I am in another, search for my new Kingdom in Madagascar, and should not find it, or search for my Settlement on one Side of the Island, when it lies on another, they must not take this ill; for Self-preservation being the supreme Law of Nature, all Things of this Kind must submit to that.

In Order then to come immediately to my Story, I shall, without any Circumlocutions, give you Leave to tell the World, that being bred to the Sea from a Youth, none of those romantick Introductions publishd had any Share in my Adventures, or were any way the Cause of my taking the Courses I have since been embarkd in: But as in several Parts of my wandring Life I had seen something of the immense Wealth, which the Buccaneers, and other Adventurers, met with in their scouring about the World for Purchase, I had, for a long Time, meditated in my Thoughts to get possessd of a good Ship for that Purpose, if I could, and to try my Fortune.

I had been some Years in the Bay of Campeachy, and tho with Patience I endurd the Fatigue of that laborious Life, yet it was as visible to others as to myself, that I was not formd by Nature for a Logwood-Cutter, any more than I was for a Foremast-man; and therefore Night and Day I applyd myself to study how I should dismiss myself from that Drudgery, and get to be, first or last, Master of a good Ship, which was the utmost of my Ambition at that Time; resolving, in the mean Time, that when ever any such Thing should happen, I would try my Fortune in the Cruising Trade, but would be sure not to prey upon my own Countrymen.

It was many Years after this before I could bring my Purposes to pass; and I servd, first, in some of the Adventures of Captain Sharp, Captain Sawkins, and others, in their bold Adventures in the South Seas, where I got a very good Booty; was at the taking of Puna, where we were obligd to leave infinite Wealth behind us, for want of being able to bring it away; and after several Adventures in those Seas, was among that Party who fought their Way Sword in Hand thro all the Detachments of the Spaniards, in the Journey over Land, cross the Isthmus of Darien, to the North Seas; and when other of our Men gat away, some one Way, some another, I, with twelve more of our Men, by Help of a Periagua, gat into the Bay of Campeachy, where we fell very honestly to cutting of Logwood, not for Want, but to employ ourselves till we could make off.

Here three of our Men dyd, and we that were left, shard their Money among us; and having stayd here two Years, without seeing any Way of Escape that I dard to trust to, I at last, with two of our Men, who spoke Spanish perfectly well, made a desperate Attempt to travel over Land to L having buryd all our Money, (which was worth eight thousand Pieces of Eight a Man, tho most of it in Gold) in a Pit in the Earth which we dug twelve Foot deep, and where it would have lyen still, for no Man knew where to look for it; but we had an Opportunity to come at it again some Years after.

We travelld along the Sea-shore five Days together, the Weather exceeding hot, and did not doubt but we should so disguise ourselves as to be taken for Spaniards; but our better Fortune provided otherwise for us, for the sixth Day of our March we found a Canoe lying on the Shore with no one in her: We found, however, several Things in her, which told us plainly that she belongd to some Englishmen who were on Shore; so we resolvd to sit down by her and wait: By and by we heard the Englishmen, who were seven in Number, and were coming back to their Boat, having been up the Country to an Ingenio, where they had gotten great Quantities of Provision, and were bringing it down to their Boat which they had left on the Shore, (with the Help of five Indians, of whom they had bought it) not thinking there was any People thereabouts: When they saw us, not knowing who we were, they were just going to fire at us; when I, perceiving it, held up a white Flag as high as I could reach it, which was, in short, only a Piece of an old Linnen Wastcoat which I had on, and pulld it off for the Occasion; upon this, however, they forbore firing at us, and when they came nearer to us, they could easily see that we were their own Countrymen: They enquird of us what we came there for; we told them, we had travelld from Campeachy, where being tird with the Hardships of our Fortune, and not getting any Vessel to carry us where we durst go, we were even desperate, and cared not what became of us; so that had not they came to us thus happily, we should have put our selves into the Hands of the Spaniards rather than have perishd where we were.

They took us into their Boat, and afterwards carryd us on Board their Ship; when we came there, we found they were a worse Sort of Wanderers than ourselves, for tho we had been a Kind of Pyrates, known and declard Enemies to the Spaniards, yet it was to them only, and to no other; for we never offerd to rob any of our other European Nations, either Dutch or French, much less English; but now we were listed in the Service of the Devil indeed, and, like him, were at War with all Mankind.

However, we not only were obligd to sort with them, while with them, but in a little Time the Novelty of the Crime wore off, and we grew hardend to it, like the rest: And in this Service I spent four Years more of my Time.

Our Captain in this Pirate Ship was namd Nichols, but we calld him Captain Redhand; it seems it was a Scots Sailor gave him that Name, when he was not the Head of the Crew, because he was so bloody a Wretch, that he scarce ever was at the taking any Prize, but he had a Hand in some Butchery or other.

They were hard put to it for fresh Provisions, or they would not have sent thus up into the Country a single Canoe; and when I came on Board they were so straitend, that, by my Advice, they resolvd to go to the Isle of Cuba to kill wild Beef, of which the South Side of the Island is so full: Accordingly we saild thither directly.

The Vessel carryd sixteen Guns, but was fitted to carry twenty two, and there was on Board one hundred and sixty stout Fellows, as bold and as case-hardend for the Work as ever I met with upon any Occasion whatever: We victuald in this Place for eight Months, by our Calculation; but our Cook, who had the Management of the Salting and Pickling the Beef, orderd his Matters so, that had he been let alone he would have starvd us all, and poisond us too; for as we are obligd to hunt the black Cattle in the Island sometimes a great while before we can shoot them, it should be observd, that the Flesh of those that are heated before they are killd, is not fit to be pickled or salted up for Keeping.

But this Man happening to pickle up the Beef, without Regard to this particular Distinction, most of the Beef, so pickled, stunk before we left the Place, so that we were obligd to throw it all away: The Men then said it was impossible to salt any Beef in those hot Countries, so as to preserve it, and would have had us given it over, and ha gone to the Coast of New England, or New York, for Provisions; but I soon convincd them of the Mistake, and by only using the Caution, viz. not to salt up any Beef of those Cattle that had been hunted, we curd one hundred and forty Barrels of very good Beef, and such as lasted us a very great while.

I began to be of some Repute among them upon this Occasion, and Redhand took me into the Cabin with him to consult upon all Emergencies, and gave me the Name of Captain, though I had then no Command: By this Means I gave him an Account of all my Adventures in the South Seas, and what a prodigious Booty we got there with Captain Goignet, the Frenchman, and with Captain Sharp, and others; encouraging him to make an Attempt that Way, and proposing to him to go away to the Brasils, and so round by the Straits of Magellan, or Cape Horn.

However, in this he was more prudent than I, and told me, that not only the Strength but the Force of his Ship was too small, not but that he had Men enough, as he said very well, but he wanted more Guns, and a better Ship; for indeed the Ship we were in was but a weak crazy Boat for so long a Voyage: So he said he approvd my Project very well, but that he thought we should try to take some more substantial Vessel for the Business: And says he, if we could but take a good stout Ship, fit to carry thirty Guns, and a Sloop, or Brigantine, he would go with all his Heart.

This I could not but approve of; so we formd the Scheme of the Design, and he calld all his Men together, and proposd it to them, and they all approvd it with a general Consent; and I had the Honour of being the Contriver of the Voyage. From this Time we resolvd, some how or other, to get a better Ship under us, and it was not long before an Opportunity presented to our Mind.

Being now upon the Coast of the Island of Cuba, we stood away West, coasting the Island, and so went away for Florida, where we cruisd among the Islands, and in the Wake of the Gulph; but nothing presented a great while; at length we spyd a Sail, which provd an English homeward bound Ship from Jamaica: We immediately chacd her, and came up with her; she was a stout Ship, and the Captain defended her very well; and had she not been a comberd deep Ship, being full loaded, so that they could scarce come at their Guns, we should have had our Hands full of her. But when they found what we were, and that, being full of Men, we were resolvd to be on Board them, and that we had hoisted the black Flag, a Signal that we would give them no Quarter, they began to sink in their Spirits, and soon after cryd Quarter, offering to yield: Redhand would have given them no Quarter, but, according to his usual Practice, would have thrown the Men all into the Sea; but I prevaild with him to give them Quarter, and good Usage too; and so they yielded; and a very rich Prize it was, only that we knew not what to do with the Cargo.

When we came to consider more seriously the Circumstances we were in by taking this Ship, and what we should do with her, we found, that she was not only deep loaden, but was a very heavy Sailer, and that, in short, she was not such a Ship as we wanted; so, upon long Debate, we resolvd to take out of her all the Rum, the Indigo, and the Money we could come at, with about twenty Casks of Sugar, and twelve of her Guns, with all the Ammunition, small Arms, Bullets, &c. and let her go; which was accordingly done, to the great Joy of the Captain that commanded her: However, we took in her about six thousand Pounds Sterling in Pieces of Eight.

But the next Prize we met, suited us better on all Accounts, being a Ship from Kingsale in Ireland, loaden with Beef, and Butter, and Beer, for Barbadoes; never was Ship more welcome to Men in our Circumstances; this was the very Thing we wanted: We saw the Ship early in the Morning, at about five Leagues Distance, and we was three Days in Chace of her; she stood from us, as if she would have run away for the Cape de Verd Islands, and two or three Times we thought she saild so well she would have got away from us, but we had always the good Luck to get Sight of her in the Morning: She was about 260 Tun, an English Frigat-built Ship, and had 12 Guns on Board, but could carry 20. The Commander was a Quaker, but yet had he been equal to us in Force, it appeard by his Countenance he would not have been afraid of his Flesh, or have baulkd using the Carnal Weapon of Offence, viz. the Cannon Ball.

We soon made ourselves Master of this Ship when once we came up with him, and he was every Thing that we wanted; so we began to shift our Guns into her, and shifted about 60 Tun of her Butter and Beef into our own Frigate; this made the Irish Vessel be a clear Ship, lighter in the Water, and have more Room on Board for Fight, if Occasion offerd.

When we had the old Quaking Skipper on Board, we askd him whether he would go along with us; he gave us no Answer at first; but when we askd him again, he returnd, that he did not know whether it might be safe for him to answer the Question: We told him, he should either go or stay, as he pleasd; Why then, says he, I had rather ye will give me Leave to decline it.

We gave him Leave, and accordingly set him on Shore afterwards at Nevis, with ten of his Men; the rest went along with us as Volunteers, except the Carpenter and his Mate, and the Surgeon, those we took by Force: We were now supplyd as well as Heart could wish, had a large Ship in our Possession, with Provisions enough for a little Fleet rather than for a single Ship. So with this Purchase we went away for the Leeward Islands, and fain we would have met with some of the New York or New England Ships, which generally come loaden with Peas, Flower, Pork, &c. But it was a long while before any Thing of that Kind presented. We had promisd the Irish Captain to set him on Shore, with his Company, at Nevis, but we were not willing till we had done our Business in those Seas, because of giving the Alarm among the Islands; so we went away for St. Domingo, and making that Island our Rendezvous, we cruisd to the Eastward, in Hopes of some Purchase; it was not long before we spyd a Sail, which provd to be a Burmoodas Sloop, but bound from Virginia or Maryland, with Flower, Tobacco, and some Malt; the last a Thing which in particular we knew not what to do with: However, the Flower and Tobacco was very welcome, and the Sloop no less welcome than the rest; for she was a very large Vessel, and carryd near 60 Tun, and when not so deep loaden, provd an excellent Sailer. Soon after this we met with another Sloop, but she was bound from Barbadoes to New England, with Rum, Sugar, and Molosses: Nothing disturbd us in taking this Vessel, but that being willing enough to let her go; (for as to the Sugar and Molosses, we had neither Use for them, or Room for them) but to have let her go, had been to give the Alarm to all the Coast of North America, and then what we wanted would never come in our Way. Our Captain, justly calld Redhand, or Bloodyhand, was presently for dispatching them, that they might tell no Tales; and, indeed, the Necessity of the Method had very near prevaild; nor did I much interpose here, I know not why, but some of the other Men put him in as good a Way; and that was, to bring the Sloop to an Anchor under the Lee of St. Domingo, and take away all her Sails, that she should not stir till we gave her Leave.

We met with no less than five Prizes more here in about 20 Days Cruise, but none of them for our Turn; one of them, indeed, was a Vessel bound to St. Christophers with Madera Wine: We borrowd about 20 Pipes of the Wine, and let her go. Another was a New England built Ship, of about 150 Tun, bound also Home with Sugar and Molosses, which was good for nothing to us; however, we gat near 1000 l. on Board her in Pieces of Eight, and taking away her Sails, as before, brought her to an Anchor under the Lee of the Sloop: At last we met with what we wanted, and this was another Ship of about 100 Tun, from New England, bound to Barbadoes; she had on Board 150 Barrels of Flower, about 350 Barrels of Pease, and 10 Tun of Pork barrelld up and pickeld, besides some live Hogs, and some Horses, and six Tun of Beer.

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