Daniel Defoe.

The King of Pirates

We heard of this by mere Accident afterwards, and I confess I envyd their Success; and tho it was a great while after this that I took a like Run, yet you may be sure I formd a Resolution from that Time to do the like; and most of the Time that I stayd after this, was employd in picking out a suitable Gang that I might depend upon, as well to trust with the Secret of my going away, as to take with me; and on whom I might depend, and they on me, for keeping one anothers Council when we should come into Europe.

It was in Pursuit of this Resolution that I went this little Voyage to the South of the Island, and the Gang I took with me provd very trusty, but we found no Opportunity then for our Escape: Two of the Men that we took Prisoners would fain have gone with us, but we resolvd to trust none of them with the real and true Discovery of our Circumstances; and as we had made them believe mighty Things of ourselves, and of the Posture of our Settlement, that we had 5000 Men, 12 Men of War, and the like, we were resolvd they should carry the Delusion away with them, and that no Body should undeceive them; because, tho we had not such an immense Wealth as was reported, and so as to be able to offer ten Millions for our Pardon, yet we had a very great Treasure; and, being nothing near so strong as they had imagind, we might have been made a Prey, with all our Riches, to any Set of Adventurers who might undertake to attempt us, by Consent of the Government of England, and make the Expedition, No Purchase no Pay.

For this Reason we civily declind them, told them we had Wealth enough, and therefore did not now Cruise Abroad as we used to do, unless we should hear of another Wedding of a Kings Daughter; or unless some rich Fleet, or some Heathen Kingdom was to be attempted; and that therefore a new Comer, or any Body of new Comers, could do themselves no good by coming over to us: If any Gang of Pirates or Buccaneers would go upon their Adventures, and when they had made themselves rich, would come and settle with us, we would take them into our Protection, and give them Land to build Towns and Habitations for themselves, and so in Time we might become a great Nation, and inhabit the whole Island: I told them, the Romans themselves were, at first, no better than such a Gang of Rovers as we were; and who knew but our General, Captain Avery, might lay the Foundation of as great an Empire as they.

These big Words amazd the Fellows, and answerd my End to a Tittle; for they told such Rhodomantading Stories of us, when they came back to their Ships, and from them it spread so universally all over the East-Indies, (for they were Outward-bound) that none of the English or Dutch Ships would come near Madagascar again, if they could help it, for a great while, for Fear of us; and we, who were soon after this dwindled away to less than 100 Men, were very glad to have them think us too strong to meddle with, or so strong that no Body durst come near us.

After these Men were gone, we rovd about to the East Side of the Island, and in a Word, knew not what to do, or what Course to take, for we durst not put out to Sea in such a Bauble of a Boat as we had under us; but tird at last, we came back to the South Point of the Island again; in our rounding the Island we saw a great English-built Ship at Sea, but at too far Distance to speak with her; and if it had not, we knew not what to have said to her, for we were not strong enough to attack her: We judgd by her Course, she stood away from the Isle of St.

Maurice or Mauritius, for the Cape of Good Hope, and must, as we supposd, come from the Malabar Coast, bound Home for England; so we let her go.

We are now returnd back to our Settlement on the North Part of the Island; and I have singld out about 12 or 13 bold brave Fellows, with whom I am resolvd to venture to the Gulph of Persia; twenty more of our Men have agreed to carry us thither as Passengers in the Sloop, and try their own Fortunes afterwards, for they allow we are enough to go together. We resolve, when we come to Bassaro, to separate into three Companies, as if we did not know one another; to dress ourselves as Merchants, for now we look like Hell-hounds and Vagabonds; but when we are well dressd, we expect to look as other Men do. If I come thither, I purpose, with two more, to give my Companions the Slip, and travel as Armenians thro Persia to the Caspian Sea, so to Constantinople; and I doubt not we shall, one Way or other, find our Way, with our Merchandize and Money, to come into France, if not quite Home to my own Country. Assure yourself, when I arrive in any Part of Christendom, I will give you a farther Account of my Adventures.

Your Friend and Servant,
The End of the First Letter



I WROTE my last Letter to you from Madagascar, where I had continud so long till my People began to drop from me, some and some, and, indeed, I had, at last, but few left; so that I began to apprehend they would give an Account in Europe, how weak I was, and how easy it was to attack me; nay, and to make their Peace, might some of them, at least, offer their Service to be Pilots to my Port, and might guide the Fleets or Ships that should attempt me.

With these Apprehensions, I not only was uneasy myself, but made all my Men uneasy too; for, as I was resolvd to attempt my own Escape, I did not care how many of my Men went before me: But this you must take with you by the Bye, that I never let them imagine that I intended to stir from the Spot myself; I mean, after my Return from the Ramble that I had taken round the Island, of which I have given you an Account; but, that I resolvd to take up my Rest in Madagascar as long as I livd; indeed, before, I said otherwise, as I wrote you before, and made them all promise to fetch me away, but now I gave it out that I was resolvd to live and die here; and therefore, a little before I resolvd upon going, I set to Work to build me a new House, and to plant me a pretty Garden at a Distance from our Fort; only I had a select Company, to whom I communicated every Thing, and who resolvd that, at last, we would go altogether, but that we would do it our own Way.

When I had finishd my new House, (and a mighty Palace you would say it was, if you had been to see it) I removd to it, with eight of the Gang that were to be my Fellow adventurers; and to this Place we carryd all our private Wealth, that is to say, Jewels and Gold; as to our Share of Silver, as it was too heavy to remove, and must be done in Publick, I was obligd to leave it behind; but we had a Stratagem for that too, and it was thus:

We had a Sloop, as you have heard, and she lay in our Harbour, tis true; but she lay ready to sail upon any Occasion; and the Men, who were of our Confederacy, who were not with me at my Country-house, were twelve in Number: These Men made a Proposal, that they would take the Sloop, and go away to the Coast of Malabar, or where else they could speed to their Mind, and buy a Fraight of Rice for the publick Account: In a free State as we were, every Body was free to go wherever they would, so that no Body opposd them; the only Dispute at any Time, was about taking the Vessel we had to go in: However, as these Men seemd only to act upon the publick Account, and to go to buy Provisions, no Body offerd to deny them the Sloop, so they prepard for their Voyage: Just as they were ready to go, one of them starts it to the rest, that it was very hazardous and difficult to run such a Length every now and then to get a little Rice, and if they would go, why should they not bring a good Quantity? This was soon resolvd; so they agreed, they should take Money with them to buy a good Ship wherever they could find her, and then to buy a Loading of Rice to fill her up, and so come away with her.

When this was agreed, they resolvd to take no Money out of the grand Stock, but to take such Mens Money as were gone, and had left their Money behind; and this being consented to, truly, my Friends took the Occasion, and took all their own Money, and mine, (being 64 little Chests of Pieces of Eight) and carryd it on Board, as if it had been of Men that were Prickd-run, and no Body took any Notice of it. These twelve Men had also now got twelve more with them, under Pretence of manning a Ship, if we should buy one, and in this Pickle away they put to Sea.

We had due Notice of every Thing that was done; and having a Signal given of the Time they resolvd to go, we packd up all our Treasure, and began our March to the Place appointed, which from our Quarters was about forty Mile farther North.

Our Habitation, that is to say, my new House, was about sixteen Miles up the Country, so that the rest of our People could have no Notice of our March, neither did they miss us, at least, as I heard of, for we never heard any more of them; nor can I imagine what Condition or Circumstance they can be in at present, if they are still upon the Place, as, however, I believe some of them are.

We joind our Comrades, with a great Deal of Ease, about three Days afterwards, for we marchd but softly, and they lay by for us: The Night before we went on Board, we made them a Signal by Fire, as we had appointed to let them know where we were, and that we were at Hand; so they sent their Boat and fetchd us off, and we embarkd without any Notice taken by the Rest.

As we were now loose, and at Sea, our next Business was to resolve whither we should go; and I soon governd the Point, resolving for Bassaro in the Gulph of Persia, where I knew we might shift for ourselves: Accordingly, we steerd away for the Arabian Coast, and had good Weather for some Time, even till we made the Land at a great Distance, when we steerd Eastward along the Shore.

We saw several Ships, in our Way, bound to and from the Red Sea, as we supposd, and, at another Time, we would have been sure to have spoken with them: But, we had done Pirating; our Business now was, how to get off, and make our Way to some Retreat, where we might enjoy what we had got; so we took no Notice of any Thing by the Way; but, when we was thus sailing merrily along, the Weather began to change, the Evening grew black and cloudy, and threatend a Storm: We were in Sight or a little Island, (I know nothing of its Name) under which we might have anchord with Safety enough, but our People made light of it, and went on.

About an Hour after Sun-set the Wind began to rise, and blew hard at N. E. and at N. E. by N. and in two Hours Time encreasd to such a Tempest, as in all my Rambles I never met with the like; we were not able to carry a Knot of Sail, or to know what to do, but to stow every Thing close, and let her drive; and, in this Condition we continud all the Night, all the next Day, and Part of the Night after; towards Morning the Storm abated a little, but not so as to give us any Prospect of pursuing our voyage; all the Ease we had, was, that we could just carry a little Sail to steddy the Vessel, and run away before it; which we did at that violent Rate, that we never abated till we made Land on the East Side of Madagascar, the very Island we came from, only on the other Side of the Island.

However, we were glad we had any Place to run to for Harbour; so we put in under the Lee of a Point of Land that gave us Shelter from the Wind, and where we came to an Anchor, after being all of us almost dead with the Fatigue; and, if our Sloop had not been an extraordinary Sea-boat, she could never have born such a Sea, for twelve Days together, as we were in, the worst I ever saw before or since. We lay here, to refresh ourselves, about twenty Days; and, indeed, the Wind blew so hard all the while, that if we had been disposd to go to Sea, we could not have done it; and, being here, about seven of our Men began to repent their Bargain, and left us, which I was not sorry for. It seems, the principal Reason of their looking back, was, their being of those who had left their Money behind them. They did not leave us without our Consent, and therefore our Carpenters built them a Boat, during the three Weeks we stayd here, and fitted it very handsomely for them, with a Cabin for their Convenience, and a Mast and Sail, with which they might very well sail round to our Settlement, as we suppose they did: We gave them Fire-arms and Ammunition sufficient, and left them furnishing themselves with Provisions; and this, we suppose, was the Boat, tho with other Men in it, which adventurd afterwards as far as the Cape of Good Hope, and was taken up by a Portugese in Distress, by which Means they got Passage for themselves to Lisbone, pretending they had made their Escape from the Pirates at Madagascar; but we were told, that the Portuguese Captain took a good deal of their Money from them, under Pretence of keeping it from his own Seamen; and that when they came on Shore, and began to claim it, he threatend them with taking them up, and prosecuting them for Pirates, which made them compound with him, and take about 10000 Dollars for above 120000, which they had with them; which, by the Way, was but a scurvy Trick: They had, it seems, a considerable Quantity of Gold among them, which they had the Wit to conceal from the Captain of the Ship, and which was enough for such Fellows as them, and more than they well knew what to do with; so that they were rich enough still, tho the Portugal Captain was nevertheless a Knave for all that.

We left them here, as I have said, and put to Sea again; and, in about twenty Days Sail, having pretty good Weather, we arrivd at the Gulph of Persia: It would be too long to give you an Account of the particular Fortunes of some of our People after this, the Variety of which would fill a Volume by itself: But, in the first Place, we, who were determind to travel, went on Shore at Bassaro, leaving the rest of our Men to buy Rice, and load the larger Vessel back to their Comrades, which they promisd to do; but how far they performd I know not.

We were thirteen of us that went on Shore here; from whence we hird a kind of Barge, or rather a Bark, which, after much Difficulty, and very unhandy Doings of the Men who we had hird, brought us to Babylon, or Bagdat, as it is now calld.

Our Treasure was so great, that if it had been known what we had about us, I am of Opinion we should never have troubld Europe with our Company: However, we gat safe to Babylon or Bagdat, where we kept ourselves Incog for a while, took a House by ourselves, and lay four or five Days still, till we had got Vests and long Gowns made to appear Abroad in as Armenian Merchants. After we had got Cloaths, and lookd like other People, we began to appear Abroad; and I, that from the Beginning had meditated my Escape by myself, began now to put it into Practice; and, walking one Morning upon the Bank of the River Euphrates, I musd with myself what Course I should take to make off, and get quite away from the Gang, and let them not so much as suspect me.

While I was walking here, comes up one of my Comrades, and one who I always took for my particular Friend: I know what you are employd in, said he, while you seem only to be musing, and refreshing yourself with the cool Breeze. Why, said I, what am I musing about? Why, said he, you are studying how you should get away from us; but, muse upon it as long as you will, says he, you shall never go without me, for I am resolvd to go with you which Way soever you take. Tis true, says I, I was musing which Way I should go, but not which Way I should go without you; for tho I would be willing to part Company, yet you cannot think I would go alone; and you know I have chosen you out from all the Company to be the Partner of all my Adventures.

Very well, says he, but I am to tell you now, that it is not only necessary that we should not go all together; but, our Men have all concluded, that we should make our Escape every one for himself, and should separate as we could; so that you need make no Secret of your Design any more than of the Way you intend to take.

I was glad enough of this News, and it made me very easy in the Preparations we made for our setting out: And, the first Thing we did, was, to get us more Cloaths, having some made of one Fashion, some of another; but, my Friend and I, who resolvd to keep together, made us Cloaths after the Fashion of the Armenian Merchants, whose Country we pretended to travel through.

In the mean Time, five of our Men dressd like Merchants; and, laying out their Money in Raw Silk, and Wrought Silks, and other Goods of the Country, proper for Europe, (in which they were directed by an English Merchant there) resolvd to take the usual Rout, and travel by the Caravans from Babylon to Alleppo, and so to Scanderoon, and we staid and saw them and their Bales go off in Boats for a great Town on the Euphrates, where the Caravans begin to take up the Passengers; the other six divided themselves, one Half of them went for Agra, the Country of the Great Mogul, resolving to go down the River Hoogly to Bengal; but whither they went afterward or what Course they took, I never knew, neither whether they really went at all or not.

The other three went by Sea, in a Persian Vessel, back from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Mocca, and I heard of them all three at Marseilles; but whither they went afterwards I never knew, nor could I come to speak with them even there.

As for me and my Friend, we first laid out all the Silver we had in European Ware, such as we knew would vend at Ispahan, which we carryd upon twelve Camels; and hiring some Servants, as well for our Guide as our Guard, we set out.

The Servants we hird were a Kind of Arab, but rather looking like the Great Moguls people, than real Arabians; and when we came into Persia, we found they were lookd upon as no better than Dogs, and were not only used ill, but that we were used ill for their Sakes; and after we were come three Days into the Persian Dominions, we found ourselves obligd to part with them; so we gave them three Dollars a Man to go back again.

They understood their Business very well, and knew well enough what was the Reason of it, though we did not. However, we found we had committed a great Mistake in it; for we perceivd that they were so exasperated at being turnd off, that they vowed to be revenged; and, indeed, they had their Revenge to the Full; for the same Day, at Night, they returnd in the Dark, and set eleven Houses on Fire in the Town where we quartered; which, by the Way, had gone near to have cost me my Life, and would certainly have done so, if in the Hurry I had not seizd one of the Incendiaries and deliverd him up to them.

The People were so provokd at him that was taken that they fell upon him with all possible Fury as the common Incendiary and Burner of the Town, and presently quitted us (for they had before vowed our Destruction) but, as I said, quitted us immediately, and thronged about the Wretch they had taken; and, indeed, I made no Question but that they would have immediately murderd him (nay, that they would have torn him in Pieces before they parted with him). But after they had vented their Rage at him for some Time with all possible Reproaches and Indignities, they carryd him before the Cadi, or Judge of the Place. The Cadi, a wise, grave Man, answered, no, he would not judge him at that Time, for they were too hot and passionate to do Justice; but they should come with him in the Morning, when they were cool, and he would hear them.

It is true this was a most excellent Step of the Cadi as to the right Way of doing Justice; but it did not prove the most expedient in the present Occasion, though that was none of his Fault neither; for in the Night the Fellow got out of their Hands, by what Means or by whose Assistance I never heard to this Day; and the Cadi fined the Town in a considerable Sum for letting a Man accused of a capital Crime make his Escape before he was adjudged, and, as we call it, discharged according to Law.

This was an eminent Instance of the Justice of these People; and though they were doubly enraged at the Escape of the Fellow, who, without Doubt, was guilty, yet they never opend their Mouths against the Cadi; but acquiescd in his Judgment, as in that of an Oracle, and submitted to the national Censure, or Censure according to the Custom of their Nation, which he had passd upon them in their publick Capacity for the Escape of the Man.

We were willing to get out of this Place as soon as we could; for we found the Peoples Rage, which wanted an Object to vent itself upon, began to threaten us again: So having packd up our Goods, and gotten five ordinary Camel-Drivers for our Servants in the Country, we set out again.

The Roads in Persia are not so much frequented, as to be well accommodated with Inns, so that several Times we were obligd to lodge upon the Ground in the Way; but our new Servants took Care to furnish us with Lodging; for as soon as we let them know we wanted Rest, and inclind to stop, they set up a Tent for us, in so short a Time, that we were scarce able to imagine it possible, and under this we encampd, our Camels being just by us, and our Servants and Bales lying all hard by.

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