Daniel Defoe.

The King of Pirates

Upon these Considerations we came to this Resolution, That they should go out to Sea and Cruise the Height of Lima, and try their Fortune, and that we would stay 60 Days for them at Juan Fernando.

Upon this Agreement they went away very joyful, and we fell to work to new rig our Ship, mending our Sails, and cleaning our Bottom. Here we employd ourselves a Month very hard at Work; our Carpenters also took down some of the Ships upper Work, and built it, as we thought, more to the Advantage of Sailing; so that we had more Room within, and yet did not lie so high.

During this Time we had a Tent set up on Shore, and 50 of our Men employd themselves wholly in killing Goats and Fowls for our fresh Provisions; and one of our Men understanding we had some Malt left on Board the Ship, which was taken in one of the Prizes, set up a great Kettle on Shore, and went to work to Brewing, and, to our great Satisfaction, brewd us some very good Beer; but we wanted Bottles to keep it in, after it had stood a while in the Cask.

However, he brewd us very good Small Beer, for present Use; and instead of Hops he found some wild Wormwood growing on the Island, which gave it no unpleasant Taste, and made it very agreeable to us.

Before the Time was expird, our Frigat sent a Sloop to us, which they had taken, to give us Notice that they were in a small Creek near the Mould of the River Guyaquil, on the Coast of Peru, in the Latitude of 22 Degrees. They had a great Booty in View, there being two Ships in the River of Guyaquil, and two more expected to pass by from Lima, in which was a great Quantity of Plate; that they waited there for them, and beggd we would not think the Time long; but that if we should go away, they desird that we would fix up a Post, with a Piece of Lead on it, signifying where they should come to us, and wherever it was, East or West, North or South, they would follow us with all the Sail they could make.

A little while after this, they sent another Sloop, which they had taken also; and she brought a vast Treasure in Silver and very rich Goods, which they had got in plundering a Town on the Continent; and they orderd the Sloop to wait for them at the Island where we lay, till their Return: But they were so eager in the Pursuit of their Game, that they could not think of coming back yet, neither could we blame them, they having such great Things in View: So we resolvd, in Pursuit of our former Resolution, to be gone; and after several Consultations among our selves in what Part of the World we should pitch our Tent, we broke up at first without any Conclusion.

We were all of the Opinion, that our Treasure was so great, that wherever we went, we should be a Prey to the Government of that Place; that it was impossible to go all on Shore, and be conceald; and that we should be so jealous of one another, that we should certainly betray one another, everyone for fear of his Fellow, that is to say, for fear the other should tell first.

Some therefore proposd our going about the South Point of Cape Horne, and that then, going away to the Gulph of Mexico, we should go on Shore at the Bay of Campeachy, and from thence disperse ourselves as well as we could, and every one go his own Way.

I was willing enough to have gone thither, because of the Treasure I had left there under Ground; but still I concluded we were (as I have said) too rich to go on Shore any where to separate, for every Man of us had too much Wealth to carry about us; and if we separated, the first Number of Men any of us should meet with, that were strong enough to do it, would take it from us, and so we should but just expose ourselves to be murderd for that Money we had gotten at so much Hazard.

Some proposd then our going to the Coast of Virgina, and go some on Shore in one Place, and some in another privately, and so travelling to the Sea-Ports where there were most People, we might be conceald, and by Degrees reduce our selves to a private Capacity, every one shifting Home as well as they could. This I acknowledge might be done, if we were sure none of us would be false one to another; but while Tales might be told, and the Teller of the Tale was sure to save his own Life and Treasure, and make his Peace at the Expence of his Comrades, there was no Safety; and they might be sure, that as the Money would render them suspected wherever they came, so they would be examind, and what by faltering in their Story, and by being cross-examind, kept apart, and the one being made to believe the other had betrayd him, and told all, when indeed he might have said nothing to hurt him, the Truth of Fact would be draggd out by Piece-meal, till they would certainly at last come to the Gallows.

These Objections were equally just, to what Nation or Place soever we could think of going: So that upon the whole, we concluded there was no Safety for us but by keeping all together, and going to some Part of the World where we might be strong enough to defend ourselves, or be so conceald till we might find out some Way of Escape that we might not now be so well able to think of.

In the Middle of all these Consultations, in which I freely own I was at a Loss, and could not tell which Way to advise, an old Sailor stood up, and told us, if we would be advisd by him, there was a Part of the World where he had been, where we might all settle ourselves undisturbd, and live very comfortably and plentifully, till we could find out some Way how to dispose of ourselves better; and that we might easily be strong enough for the Inhabitants, who would at first, perhaps, attack us, but that afterwards they would sort very well with us, and supply us with all Sorts of Provisions very plentifully; and this was the Island of Madagascar: He told us we might live very well there. He gave us a large Account of the Country, the Climate, the People, the Plenty of Provisions which was to be had there, especially of black Cattle, of which, he said, there was an infinite Number, and consequently a Plenty of Milk, of which so many other Things was made: In a Word, he read us so many Lectures upon the Goodness of the Place, and the Conveniency of living there, that we were, one and all, eager to go thither, and concluded upon it.

Accordingly, having little left to do, (for we had been in a sailing Posture some Weeks) we left word with the Officer who commanded the Sloop, and with all his Men, that they should come after us to Madagascar; and our Men were not wanting to let them know all our Reasons for going thither, as well as the Difficulties we found of going any where else, which had so fully possessd them with the Hopes of farther Advantage, that they promisd for the rest that they would all follow us.

However, as we all calculated the Length of the Voyage, and that our Water, and perhaps our Provisions might not hold out so far, but especially our Water, we agreed, that having passd Cape Horn, and got into the North Seas, we would steer Northward up the East Shore of America till we came to St. Julien, where we would stay at least fourteen Days to take in Water, and to store ourselves with Seals and Penguins, which would greatly eek out our Ships Stores; and that then we should cross the great Atlantick Ocean in a milder Latitude than if we went directly, and stood immediately over from the Passage about the Cape, which must be, at least, in 55 or 56, and perhaps, as the Weather might be, would be in the Latitude of 60 or 61.

With this Resolution, and under these Measures, we set Sail from the Island of St. Juan Fernando the 23d of September, (being the same there as our March is here) and keeping the Coast of Chili on Board, had good Weather for about a Fortnight, [Octob. 14.] till we came into the Latitude of 44 Degrees South; when finding the Wind come squally off the Shore from among the Mountains, we were obligd to keep farther out at Sea, where the Winds were less uncertain; and some Calms we met with, till about the Middle of October, [16.] when the Wind springing up at N. N. W. a pretty moderate Gale, we joggd S. E. and S. S. E. till we came into the Latitude of 55 Degrees; and the 16th of November, found our selves in 59 Degrees, the Weather exceeding cold and severe. But the Wind holding fair, we held in with the Land, and steering E. S. E. we held that Course till we thought ourselves entirely clear of the Land, and enterd into the North Sea, or Atlantick Ocean; and then changing our Course, we steerd N. and N. N. E. but the Wind blowing still at N. N. W. a pretty stiff Gale, we could make nothing of it till we made the Land in the Latitude of 52 Degrees; and when we came close under Shore, we found the Winds variable; so we made still N. under the Lee of the Shore, and made the Point of St. Julien the 13th of November, having been a Year and seven Days since we parted from thence on our Voyage Outwardbound.

Here we rested ourselves, took in fresh Water, and began to kill Seals and Fowls of several Sorts, but especially Penguins, which this Place is noted for; and here we stayd, in Hopes our Fregate would arrive, but we heard no News of her; so, at Parting, we set up a Post, with this Inscription, done on a Plate of Lead, with our Names upon the Lead, and these Words;

(Being in that Latitude the longest Day in the Year;) and I doubt not but the Post may stand there still.

From hence we launchd out into the vast Atlantick Ocean, steering our Coast E. by N. and E. N. E. till we had saild, by our Account, about 470 Leagues, taking our Meridian Distance, or Departure, from St. Julian. And here a strong Gale springing up at S. E. by E. and E. S. E. encreasing afterwards to a violent Storm, we were forcd by it to the Norward, as high as the Tropick; not that it blew a Storm all the while, but it blew so steady, and so very hard, for near 20 Days together, that we were carryd quite out of our intended Course: After we had weatherd this, we began to recover ourselves again, making still East; and endeavouring to get to the Southward, we had yet another hard Gale of Wind at S. and S. S. E. so strong, that we could make nothing of it at all; whereupon it was resolvd, if we could, to make the Island of St. Helena, which in about three Weeks more we very happily came to, on the 17th of January.

It was to our great Satisfaction that we found no Ships at all here, and we resolvd not by any Means to let the Governor on Shore know our Ships Name, or any of our Officers Names; and I believe our Men were very true to one another in that Point, but they were not at all shy of letting them know upon what Account we were, &c. so that if he could have gotten any of us in his Power, as we were afterwards told he endeavourd by two or three Ambuscades to do, we should have passd our Time but very indifferently; for which, when we went away, we let him know we would not have faild to have beat his little Port about his Ears.

We stayd no longer here than just servd to refresh ourselves, and supply our Want of fresh Water; the Wind presenting fair, Feb. 2. 1692, we set Sail, and (not to trouble my Story with the Particulars of the Voyage, in which nothing remarkable occurd) we doubled the Cape the 13th of March, and passing on without coming to an Anchor, or discovering ourselves, we made directly to the Island of Madagascar, where we arrivd the 7th of April; the Sloop, to our particular Satisfaction, keeping in Company all the Way, and bearing the Sea as well as our Ship upon all Occasions.

To this Time I had met with nothing but good Fortune; Success answerd every Attempt, and followd every Undertaking, and we scarce knew what it was to be disappointed; but we had an Interval of our Fortunes to meet with in this Place: We arrivd, as above, at the Island on the 13th of March, but we did not care to make the South Part of the Island our Retreat; nor was it a proper Place for our Business, which was to take Possession of a private secure Place to make a Refuge of: So after staying some Time where we put in, which was on the Point of Land a little to the South of Cape St. Augustine, and taking in Water and Provisions there, we stood away to the North, and keeping the Island in View, went on till we came to the Latitude of 14 Degrees: Here we met with a very terrible Tornado, or Hurricane, which, after we had beat the Sea as long as we could, obligd us to run directly for the Shore to save our Lives as well as we could, in Hopes of finding some Harbour or Bay where we might run in, or at least might go into smooth Water till the Storm was over.

The Sloop was more put to it than we were in the great Ship, and being obligd to run afore it, a little sooner than we did, she servd for a Pilot-Boat to us which followd; in a Word, she run in under the Lee of a great Head-land, which jetted far out into the Sea, and stood very high also, and came to an Anchor in three Fathom and a half Water: We followd her, but not with the same good Luck, tho we came to an Anchor too, as we thought, safe enough; but the Sea going very high, our Anchor came Home in the Night, and we drove on Shore in the Dark among the Rocks, in spight of all we were able to do.

Thus we lost the most fortunate Ship that ever Man saild with; however, making Signals of Distress to the Sloop, and by the Assistance of our own Boat, we savd our Lives; and the Storm abating in the Morning, we had Time to save many Things, particularly our Guns, and most of our Ammunition; and, which was more than all the rest, we savd our Treasure: Tho I mention the saving our Guns first, yet they were the last Things we savd, being obligd to break the upper Deck of the Ship up for them.

Being thus got on Shore, and having built us some Huts for our Conveniency, we had nothing before us but a View of fixing our Habitations in the Country; for tho we had the Sloop, we could propose little Advantage by her; for as to cruising for Booty among the Arabians or Indians, we had neither Room, for it or Inclination to it; and as for attacking any European Ship, the Sloop was in no Condition to do it, tho we had all been on Board; for every Body knows that all the Ships trading from Europe to the East-Indies, were Ships of Force, and too strong for us; so that, in short, we had nothing in View for several Months but how to settle ourselves here, and live as comfortably and as well as we could, till something or other might offer for our Deliverance.

In this Condition we remaind on Shore above eight Months, during which Time we built us a little Town, and fortifyd it by the Direction of one of our Gunners, who was a very good Engineer, in a very clever and regular Manner, placing a very strong double Palisado round the Foot of our Works, and a very large Ditch without our Palisado, and a third Palisado beyond the Ditch, like a Counterscarp or Coverd-way; besides this, we raisd a large Battery next to the Sea, with a Line of 24 Guns placd before it, and thus we thought ourselves in a Condition to defend ourselves against any Force that could attempt us in that Part of the World.

And besides all this, the Place on which our Habitation was built, being an Island, there was no coming easily at us by Land.

But I was far from being easy in this Situation of our Affairs; so I made a Proposal to our Men one Day, that tho we were well enough in our Habitation, and wanted for nothing, yet since we had a Sloop here, and a Boat so good as she was, twas Pity she should lye and perish there, but we should send her Abroad, and see what might happen; that perhaps it might be our good Luck to surprise some Ship or other for our Turn, and so we might all go to Sea again: The Proposal was well enough relishd at first Word, but the great Mischief of all was like to be this, That we should all go together by the Ears upon the Question who should go in her: My secret Design was laid, that I was resolvd to go in her myself, and that she should not go without me; but when it began to be talkd of, I discoverd the greatest seeming Resolution not to stir, but to stay with the rest, and take Care of the main Chance, that was to say, the Money.

I found, when they saw that I did not propose to go myself, the Men were much the easier; for at first they began to think it was only a Project of mine to run away from them; and so indeed it was: However, as I did not at first propose to go my self, so when I came to the Proposal of who should go, I made a long Discourse to them of the Obligation they had all to be faithful one to another, and that those who went in the Sloop, ought to consider themselves and those that were with them to be but one Body with those who were left behind; that their whole Concern ought to be to get some good Ship to fetch them off: At last, I concluded, with a Proposal, that who ever went in the Sloop, should leave his Money behind in the common Keeping, as it was before; to remain as a Pledge for his faithful performing the Voyage, and coming back again to the Company; and should faithfully swear that wherever they went, (for as to the Voyage, they were at full Liberty to go whither they would) they would certainly endeavour to get back to Madagascar; and that if they were cast away, stranded, taken, or whatever befel them, they should never rest till they got to Madagascar, if it was possible.

They all came most readily into this Proposal, for those who should go into the Sloop, but with this Alteration in them, (which was easy to be seen in their Countenances) viz. that from that Minute there was no striving who should go, but every Man was willing to stay where they were: This was what I wanted, and I let it rest for two or three Days; when I took Occasion to tell them, that seeing they all were sensible that it was a very good Proposal to send the Sloop out to Sea, and see what they could do for us, I thought it was strange they should so generally shew themselves backward to the Service for fear of parting from their Money; I told them that no Man need be afraid, that the whole Body should agree to take his Money from him without any pretended Offence, much less when he should be Abroad for their Service: But however, as it was my Proposal, and I was always willing to hazard myself for the Good of them all, so I was ready to go on the Conditions I had proposd to them for others, and I was not afraid to flatter myself with serving them so well Abroad, that they should not grudge to restore me my Share of Money when I came Home, and the like of all those that went with me.

This was so seasonably spoken, and humourd so well, that it answerd my Design effectually, and I was voted to go nemine contradicente; then I desird they would either draw Lots for who and who should go with me, or leave it in my absolute Choice to pick and cull my Men: They had for some Time agreed to the first; and forty Blanks were made for those to whose Lot it should come to draw a Blank to go in the Sloop; but then it was said, this might neither be a fair nor an effectual Choice; for Example, if the needful Number of Officers, and of particular Occupations, should not happen to be lotted out, the Sloop might be obligd to go out to Sea without a Surgeon, or without a Carpenter, or without a Cook, and the like: So, upon second Thoughts, it was left to me to name my Men; so I chose me out forty stout Fellows, and among them several who were trusty bold Men, fit for any thing.

Being thus Mannd, the Sloop riggd, and having cleard her Bottom, and laid in Provisions enough for a long Voyage, we set Sail the 3d of January 1694, for the Cape of Good Hope. We very honestly left our Money, as I said, behind us, only that we had about the Value of 2000 Pound in Pieces of Eight allowd us on Board for any Exigence that might happen at Sea.

We made no Stop at the Cape, or at St. Helena, tho we passd in Sight of it, but stood over to the Caribbee Islands directly, and made the Island of Tobago the 18th of February, where we took in fresh Water, which we stood in great Need of, as you may judge by the Length of the Voyage. We sought no Purchase, for I had fully convincd our Men, that our Business was not to appear, as we were used to be, upon the Cruise, but as Traders; and to that End I proposd to go away to the Bay of Campeachy, and load Logwood, under the Pretence of selling of which we might go any where.

It is true, I had another Design here, which was to recover the Money which my Comrade and I had buryd there; and having the Man on Board with me to whom I had communicated my Design, we found an Opportunity to come at our Money with Privacy enough, having so conceald it, as that it would have lain there to the general Conflagration, if we had not come for it our selves.

My next Resolution was to go for England, only that I had too many Men, and did not know what to do with them: I told them we could never pretend to go with a Sloop loaden with Logwood to any Place, with 40 Men on Board, but we should be discoverd; but if they would resolve to put 15 or 16 Men on Shore as private Seamen, the rest might do well enough; and if they thought it hard to be set on Shore, I was content to be one, only that I thought it was very reasonable that whoever went on Shore should have some Money given them, and that all should agree to rendezvous in England, and so make the best of our Way thither, and there perhaps we might get a good Ship to go fetch off our Comrades and our Money. With this Resolution, sixteen of our Men had three hundred Pieces of Eight a Man given them, and they went off thus; the Sloop stood away North, thro the Gulph of Florida, keeping under the Shore of Carolina and Virginia; so our Men droppd off as if they had deserted the Ship; three of the sixteen run away there, five more went off at Virginia, three at New York, three at Road Island, and myself and one more at New England; and so the Sloop went away for England with the rest. I got all my Money on Shore with me, and conceald it as well as I could; some I got Bills for, some I bought Molosses with, and turnd the rest into Gold; and dressing myself not as a common Sailor, but as a Master of a Ketch, which I had lost in the Bay of Campeachy, I got Passage on Board one Captain Guillame, a New England Captain, whose Owner was one Mr. Johnson a Merchant, living at Hackney, near London.

: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8