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Title: On the Spanish Main - Or, Some English forays on the Isthmus of Darien.
Author: Masefield, John, 1878-1967
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_First Published in 1906_





                              CHAPTER I
  DRAKE'S VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES                                  1
    His quarrel with the Spaniards--His preliminary raids--His
    landfall--The secret harbour

                              CHAPTER II

  THE ATTACK ON NOMBRE DE DIOS                                      15
    The treasure of the Indies--The Bastimentos--A Spanish herald

                             CHAPTER III

  THE CRUISE OFF THE MAIN                                           26
    The secret haven--The cruise of the pinnaces--Cartagena--Death
    of John Drake

                              CHAPTER IV

  THE ROAD TO PANAMA                                                55
    The Maroons--The native city--The great tree--Panama--The
    silver train--The failure--Venta Cruz

                              CHAPTER V

  BACK TO THE MAIN BODY                                             74
    The treasure train--The spoil--Captain Tetû hurt

                              CHAPTER VI

  THE ADVENTURE OF THE RAFT                                         88
    Drake's voyage to the Catives--Homeward bound--The interrupted

                             CHAPTER VII

  JOHN OXENHAM                                                      98
    The voyage--His pinnace--Into the South Sea--Disaster--His
    unhappy end

                             CHAPTER VIII

  THE SPANISH RULE IN HISPANIOLA                                   106
    Rise of the Buccaneers--The hunters of the wild
    bulls--Tortuga--Buccaneer politics--Buccaneer customs

                              CHAPTER IX

  BUCCANEER CUSTOMS                                                129
    Mansvelt and Morgan--Morgan's raid on Cuba--Puerto del

                              CHAPTER X

  THE SACK OF PORTO BELLO                                          148
    The Gulf of Maracaibo--Morgan's escape from the Spaniards

                              CHAPTER XI

  MORGAN'S GREAT RAID                                              168
    Chagres castle--Across the isthmus--Sufferings of the
    Buccaneers--Venta Cruz--Old Panama

                             CHAPTER XII

  THE SACK OF PANAMA                                               197
    The burning of the city--Buccaneer excesses--An abortive
    mutiny--Home--Morgan's defection

                             CHAPTER XIII

  CAPTAIN DAMPIER                                                  218
    Campeachy--Logwood cutting--The march to Santa Maria

                             CHAPTER XIV

  THE BATTLE OF PERICO                                             245
    Arica--The South Sea cruise

                              CHAPTER XV

  ACROSS THE ISTHMUS                                               276
    The way home--Sufferings and adventures

                             CHAPTER XVI

  SHIPS AND RIGS                                                   291

                             CHAPTER XVII

  GUNS AND GUNNERS                                                 298
    Breech-loaders--Cartridges--Powder--The gunner's art

                            CHAPTER XVIII

  THE SHIP'S COMPANY                                               311
    Captain--Master--Lieutenant--Warrant officers--Duties and

                             CHAPTER XIX

  THE CHOOSING OF WATCHES                                          322
    The petty tally--Food--Work--Punishments

                              CHAPTER XX

  IN ACTION                                                        334

  INDEX                                                            341


  CAPTAIN WILLIAM DAMPIER                                 _Frontispiece_

  NOMBRE DE DIOS                                                     12

  CARTAGENA                                                          26

  CARTAGENA IN 1586, SHOWING THE DOUBLE HARBOUR                      40
      The ship in the foreground may be Drake's flagship, the

  AN ELIZABETHAN WARSHIP                                             49
      A pinnace beyond, to the left

  SHIP AND FLYING-FISH                                               95

  A BUCCANEER'S SLAVE, WITH HIS MASTER'S GUN                        114
      A barbecue in right lower corner

  OLD PORT ROYAL                                                    132

  PUERTO DEL PRINCIPE                                               142

    THE CITY                                                        150

      Castle de la Barra in background

  CHAGRES (CIRCA 1739)                                              173


  NEW PANAMA                                                        195

  THE BATTLE OF PANAMA                                              200

  SIR HENRY MORGAN                                                  210

  A DESCRIPTION OF ARICA                                            266

  A DESCRIPTION OF HILO                                             274

  AN ELIZABETHAN GALLEON                                            293

  AN ELIZABETHAN GALLEON                                            297

  A GALLIASSE                                                       310

  THE "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS"                                       323

  MAP OF THE BUCCANEER CRUISING GROUNDS                             340




    His quarrel with the Spaniards--His preliminary raids--His
    landfall--The secret harbour

Francis Drake, the first Englishman to make himself "redoubtable to the
Spaniards" on the Spanish Main, was born near Tavistock about the year
1545. He was sent to sea, as a lad, aboard a Channel coaster engaged in
trade with the eastern counties, France and Zeeland. When he was
eighteen years of age he joined his cousin, John Hawkins, then a great
and wealthy merchant, engaged in the slave trade. Four years later he
sailed with Hawkins on a memorable trading voyage to the Spanish Main.
On this occasion he commanded a small vessel of fifty tons.

The voyage was unfortunate from the beginning, for the Spaniards had
orders from their King to refuse to trade with any foreigners. Before
the English could get rid of their freight the ships of their squadron
were severely battered by a hurricane, so that they were forced to put
into San Juan d'Ulloa, the port of Vera Cruz, to refit. While they lay
there a Spanish fleet arrived, carrying a vast quantity of gold and
silver for transhipment to Spain. It was not to Hawkins' advantage to
allow this Spanish force to enter the haven, for he feared that they
would treat him as a pirate if they had an opportunity to do so.
However, the Spaniards came to terms with him, an agreement was signed
by both parties, and the Spanish ships were allowed into the port. The
next day the Spaniards treacherously attacked the English squadron, sank
one of the ships at her moorings, killed many of the men, captured a
number more, and drove the survivors to sea in Drake's ship the
_Judith_, and a larger ship called the _Minion_. It was this treacherous
attack (and, perhaps, some earlier treachery not recorded) which made
Drake an implacable enemy of the Spaniards for the next twenty-eight

After the disaster at San Juan d'Ulloa, Drake endeavoured to obtain some
recompense for the losses he had sustained. But "finding that no
recompence could be recovered out of Spain by any of his own means, or
by her Majesties letters; he used such helpes as he might by two
severall Voyages into the West Indies." In the first of these two
voyages, in 1570, he had two ships, the _Dragon_ and the _Swan_. In the
second, in 1571, he sailed in the _Swan_ without company. The _Swan_ was
a small vessel of only five and twenty tons, but she was a "lucky" ship,
and an incomparable sailer. We know little of these two voyages, though
a Spanish letter (quoted by Mr Corbett) tells us of a Spanish ship he
took; and Thomas Moone, Drake's coxswain, speaks of them as having been
"rich and gainfull." Probably Drake employed a good deal of his time in
preparing for a future raid, for when he ventured out in earnest in 1572
he showed himself singularly well acquainted with the town he attacked.
The account from which we take our information expressly states that
this is what he did. He went, it says, "to gaine such intelligences as
might further him to get some amends for his losse. And having, in those
two Voyages, gotten such certaine notice of the persons and places aymed
at, as he thought requisite; and thereupon with good deliberation,
resolved on a third Voyage, he accordingly prepared his Ships and
Company ... as now followes further to be declared."

There can be little doubt that the two tentative voyages were highly
profitable, for Drake was able to fit out his third expedition with a
care and completeness almost unknown at that time. The ships were
"richly furnished, with victuals and apparel for a whole year: and no
lesse heedfully provided of all manner of Munition, Artillery,
Artificers, stuffe and tooles, that were requisite for such a Man-of-war
in such an attempt." He himself, as Admiral of the expedition, commanded
the larger ship, the _Pascha_ of Plymouth, of seventy tons. His younger
brother, John Drake, sailed as captain of the _Swan_. In all there were
seventy-three men and boys in the expedition; and we read that they were
mostly young men--"the eldest ... fifty, all the rest under thirty."
They were all volunteers--a fact that shows that Drake had gained a
reputation for luck in these adventures. Forty-seven of the
seventy-three sailed aboard the _Pascha_; while the _Swan_ carried the
remaining twenty-six, probably with some inconvenience. Carefully stowed
away in the holds of the two vessels were "three dainty Pinnases, made
in Plimouth, taken asunder all in pieces, to be set up as occasion
served." This instance of Drake's forethought makes it very clear that
the expedition had been planned with extreme care. The comfort of the
men had been studied: witness the supply of "apparell." There was a
doctor aboard, though he does not seem to have been "a great proficient"
in his art; and the expedition was so unusually healthy that we feel
convinced that Drake had some specific for the scurvy.

"On Whitsunday Eve, being the 24 of May, 1572," the two ships "set sayl
from out of the Sound of Plimouth," with intent to land at Nombre de
Dios (Name of God) a town on the northern coast of the Isthmus of
Darien, at that time "the granary of the West Indies, wherein the golden
harvest brought from Peru and Mexico to Panama was hoarded up till it
could be conveyed into Spain." The wind was steady from the north-east
the day they sailed, so that the watchers from the shore must soon have
lost sight of them. No doubt the boats of all the ships in the Sound
came off to give the adventurers a parting cheer, or, should they need
it, a tow to sea. No doubt the two ships were very gay with colours and
noisy with the firing of farewells. Then at last, as the sails began to
draw, and the water began to bubble from the bows, the trumpeters
sounded "A loath to depart," the anchor came to the cathead, and the
boats splashed back to Plymouth, their crews jolly with the parting

The wind that swept the two ships out of port continued steady at
north-east, "and gave us a very good passage," taking them within sight
of Porto Santo, one of the Madeiras, within twelve days of their leaving
Plymouth. The wind continued fair when they stood to the westward, after
sighting the Canaries, so that neither ship so much as shortened sail
"untill 25 dayes after," when the men in the painted tops descried the
high land of Guadaloupe. They stood to the south of Guadaloupe, as
though to pass between that island and Dominica, but seeing some Indians
busily fishing off a rocky island to the south of Dominica they
determined to recruit there before proceeding farther. This island was
probably Marygalante, a pleasant island full of trees, a sort of summer
fishing ground for the Dominican Indians. There is good anchorage off
many parts of it; and Drake anchored to the south, sending the men
ashore to live in tents for their refreshment. They also watered their
ships while lying at anchor "out of one of those goodly rivers which
fall down off the mountain." Running water was always looked upon as
less wholesome than spring water; and, perhaps, they burnt a bag of
biscuit on the beach, and put the charcoal in the casks to destroy any
possible infection. They saw no Indians on the island, though they came
across "certain poore cottages built with Palmito boughs and branches,"
in which they supposed the Indians lodged when engaged upon their
fishery. Having filled the casks, and stowed them aboard again, the
ships weighed anchor, and sailed away south towards the mainland. On the
fifth day, keeping well to seaward, thirty miles from the shore, to
avoid discovery, they made the high land of Santa Martha on "the Terra
Firma." Having made the landfall they sailed westward into the Gulf of
Darien, and in six days more (during two of which the ships were
becalmed) they came to a secret anchorage which Drake had discovered in
his former voyage. He had named it Port Pheasant, "by reason of the
great store of those goodly fowls which he and his Company did then
dayly kill and feed on in that place." "It was a fine round Bay, of very
safe harbour for all winds, lying between two high points, not past half
a cable's length (or a hundred yards) over at the mouth, but within
eight or ten cables' length every way, having ten or twelve fadome
water, more or lesse, full of good fish, the soile also very fruitfull."
Drake had been there "within a year and few days before," and had left
the shore clear of tangle, with alleys and paths by which men might walk
in the woods, after goodly fowls or otherwise; but a year of that
steaming climate had spoiled his handiwork. The tangle of many-blossomed
creepers and succulent green grasses had spread across the paths "as
that we doubted at first whether this were the same place or no." We do
not know where this romantic harbour lies, for the Gulf of Darien is
still unsurveyed. We know only that it is somewhere nearly equidistant
from Santiago de Tolu (to the east) and Nombre de Dios (to the west).
Roughly speaking, it was 120 miles from either place, so that "there
dwelt no Spaniards within thirty-five leagues." Before the anchors were
down, and the sails furled Drake ordered out the boat, intending to go
ashore. As they neared the landing-place they spied a smoke in the
woods--a smoke too big to come from an Indian's fire. Drake ordered
another boat to be manned with musketeers and bowmen, suspecting that
the Spaniards had found the place, and that the landing would be
disputed. On beaching the boats they discovered "evident markes" that a
Plymouth ship, under the command of one John Garret, had been there but
a day or two before. He had left a plate of lead, of the sort supplied
to ships to nail across shot-holes, "nailed fast to a mighty great
tree," some thirty feet in girth. On the lead a letter had been cut:


                if you fortune to come to this Port, make hast away;
    for the Spanyards which you had with you here the last year, have
    bewrayed this place, and taken away all that you left here. I
    departed from hence this present 7 of July, 1572.

                              Your very loving friend,
                                                      JOHN GARRET.

The smoke was from a fire which Garret and his men had kindled in a
great hollow tree, that was probably rotted into touchwood. It had
smouldered for five days or more, sending up a thick smoke, to warn any
coming to the harbour to proceed with caution.

The announcement that the place was known to the Spaniards did not weigh
very heavily upon Drake; nor is it likely that he suffered much from
the loss of his hidden stores, for nothing of any value could have been
left in such a climate. He determined not to leave "before he had built
his Pinnaces," and therefore, as soon as the ships were moored, he
ordered the pieces to be brought ashore "for the Carpenters to set up."
The rest of the company was set to the building of a fort upon the beach
by the cutting down of trees, "and haling them together with great
Pullies and halsers." The fort was built in the form of a pentagon, with
a sort of sea-gate opening on the bay, for the easy launching of the
pinnaces. This gate could be closed at night by the drawing of a log
across the opening. They dug no trench, but cleared the ground instead,
so that for twenty yards all round the stockhouse there was nothing to
hinder a marksman or afford cover to an enemy. Beyond that twenty yards
the forest closed in, with its wall of living greenery, with trees "of a
marvellous height" tangled over with the brilliant blossoms of many
creepers. The writer of the account seems to have been one of the
building party that sweated the logs into position. "The wood of those
trees," he writes, "is as heavie, or heavier, than Brasil or Lignum
Vitæ, and is in colour white."

The very next day an English barque came sailing into the anchorage,
with two prizes, in her wake--"a Spanish Carvell of Sivell," which had
despatches aboard her for the Governor of Nombre de Dios, and a shallop
with oars, picked up off Cape Blanco to the eastward. She was the
property of Sir Edward Horsey, at that time Governor of the Isle of
Wight, a gallant gentleman, who received "sweetmeats and Canarie wine"
from French pirates plying in the Channel. Her captain was one James
Rawse, or Rause; and she carried thirty men, some of whom had been with
Drake the year before. Captain Rause, on hearing Drake's intentions, was
eager "to joyne in consort with him." We may well imagine that Drake
cared little for his company; but conditions were agreed upon, an
agreement signed, and the two crews set to work together. Within seven
days the pinnaces had been set up, and launched, and stored with all
things necessary. Then early one morning (the 20th of July) the ships
got their anchors, and hoisted sail for Nombre de Dios, arriving three
days later at the Isles of Pines, a group of little islands covered with
fir-trees, not far to the west of the mouth of the Gulf of Darien. At
the Pine Islands they found two frigates of Nombre de Dios, "lading
plank and timber from thence," the soft fir wood being greatly in demand
on the mainland, where the trees were harder, and difficult to work. The
wood was being handled by negroes, who gave Drake some intelligence of
the state of affairs at the little town he intended to attack. They said
that the town was in a state of siege, expecting to be attacked at any
moment by the armies of the Cimmeroons, who had "neere surprised it"
only six weeks before. The Cimmeroons were "a black people, which about
eighty yeares past, fledd from the Spaniards their Masters, by reason of
their cruelty, and are since growne to a nation, under two Kings of
their owne: the one inhabiteth to the west, th'other to the East of the
way from Nombre de Dios to Panama." They were much dreaded by the
Spaniards, with whom they were at constant war. The late alarm had
caused the Governor to send to Panama for troops, and "certaine
souldiers" were expected daily to aid in the defence of the town.

Having gathered this intelligence Drake landed the negroes on the
mainland, so that they might rejoin their countrymen if they wished to
do so. In any case, by landing them so far from home he prevented them
from giving information of his being in those waters. "For hee was loath
to put the towne to too much charge (which hee knew they would
willingly bestowe) in providing before hand, for his entertainment." But
being anxious to avoid all possibility of discovery "he hastened his
going thither, with as much speed and secrecy as possibly he could." It
had taken him three days to get to the Isles of Pines from his secret
harbour--a distance certainly not more than 120 miles. He now resolved
to leave the three ships and the carvel--all four grown more or less
foul-bottomed and slow--in the care of Captain Rause, with just
sufficient men to work them. With the three dainty pinnaces and the
oared shallop that Rause had taken, he hoped to make rather swifter
progress than he had been making. He took with him in the four boats
fifty-three of his own company and twenty of Captain Rause's men,
arranging them in order according to the military text-book: "six
Targets, six Firepikes, twelve Pikes, twenty-four Muskets and Callivers,
sixteene Bowes, and six Partizans, two Drums, and two Trumpets"--making
seventy-four men in all, the seventy-fourth being the commander, Drake.
Having furnished the boats for the sea with his usual care Drake parted
company, and sailed slowly to the westward, making about fifteen miles a
day under oars and sails. Perhaps he sailed only at night, in order to
avoid discovery and to rest his men. Early on the morning of the 28th
July they landed "at the Island of Cativaas," or Catives, off the mouth
of the St Francis River. Here Drake delivered them "their severall
armes, which hitherto he had kept very faire and safe in good caske," so
that neither the heavy dew nor the sea-water should rust them or wet the
powder. He drilled them on the shore before the heat of the sun became
too great, and after the drill he spoke to them "after his manner,"
declaring "the greatnes of the hope of good things that was there, the
weaknesse of the towne being unwalled, and the hope he had of prevailing
to recompence his wrongs ... especially ... as hee should be utterly
undiscovered." In the afternoon, when the sun's strength was past, they
set sail again, standing in close to the shore "that wee might not be
descried of the watch-house." By sunset they were within two leagues of
the point of the bay to the north-north-east of the town; and here they
lowered their sails, and dropped anchor, "riding so untill it was darke
night." When the night had fallen they stood in shore again, "with as
much silence as wee could," till they were past the point of the harbour
"under the high land," and "there wee stayed all silent, purposing to
attempt the towne in the dawning of the day, after that wee had reposed
ourselves for a while."


Nombre de Dios was founded by Diego di Niqueza early in the sixteenth
century, about the year 1510. It received its name from a remark the
founder made on his first setting foot ashore: "Here we will found a
settlement in the name of God." It was never a large place, for the bay
lay exposed to the prevalent winds, being open to the north and
north-east. There was fair holding ground; but the bay was shallow and
full of rocks, and a northerly gale always raised such a sea that a ship
was hardly safe with six anchors out. The district was very unhealthy,
and the water found there was bad and in little quantity. There was,
however, a spring of good water on an island at the mouth of the
harbour. To the shoreward there were wooded hills, with marshy ground on
their lower slopes, feeding a little river emptying to the north of the
town. The houses came right down to the sea, and the trees right down to
the houses, so that "tigers [_i.e._ jaguars] often came into the town,"
to carry away dogs, fowls, and children. Few ships lay there without
burying a third of their hands; for the fever raged there, as it rages
in some of the Brazilian ports at the present time. The place was also
supposed to favour the spread of leprosy. The road to Panama entered the
town at the south-east; and there was a gate at this point, though the
town was never walled about. The city seems to have been built about a
great central square, with straight streets crossing at right angles.
Like Cartagena and Porto Bello, it was as dull as a city of the dead
until the galleons came thither from Cartagena to take on board "the
chests of gold and silver" received from the Governor of Panama and the
golden lands to the south. When the galleons anchored, the merchants
went ashore with their goods, and pitched sailcloth booths for them in
the central square, and held a gallant fair till they were sold--most of
the bartering being done by torchlight, in the cool of the night. Panama
was distant some fifty-five miles; and the road thither was extremely
bad, owing to the frequent heavy rains and the consequent flooding of
the trackway. At the time of Drake's raid, there were in all some sixty
wooden houses in the place, inhabited in the _tiempo muerto_, or dead
time, by about thirty people. "The rest," we read, "doe goe to Panama
after the fleet is gone." Those who stayed must have had a weary life of
it, for there could have been nothing for them to do save to go
a-fishing. The fever never left the place, and there was always the
dread of the Cimmeroons. Out in the bay there was the steaming water,
with a few rotten hulks waiting to be cast ashore, and two or three
rocky islets sticking up for the sea to break against. There was nothing
for an inhabitant to do except to fish, and nothing for him to see
except the water, with the dripping green trees beside it, and, perhaps,
an advice boat slipping past for Cartagena. Once a year an express came
to the bay from Panama to say that the Peru fleet had arrived at that
port. A letter was then sent to Cartagena or to San Juan d'Ulloa to
order the great galleons there anchored to come to collect the treasure,
and convey it into Spain. Before they dropped anchor in the Nombre de
Dios bay that city was filled to overflowing by soldiers and merchants
from Panama and the adjacent cities. Waggons of maize and cassava were
dragged into the streets, with numbers of fowls and hogs. Lodgings rose
in value, until a "middle chamber" could not be had for less than 1000
crowns. Desperate efforts were made to collect ballast for the supply
ships. Then the treasure trains from Panama began to arrive. Soldiers
marched in, escorting strings of mules carrying chests of gold and
silver, goatskins filled with bezoar stones, and bales of vicuna wool.
The town became musical with the bells of the mules' harness. Llamas
spat and hissed at the street corners. The Plaza became a scene of
gaiety and bustle. Folk arrived hourly by the muddy track from Panama.
Ships dropped anchor hourly, ringing their bells and firing salutes of
cannon. The grand fair then began, and the city would be populous and
stirring till the galleons had cleared the harbour on the voyage to
Spain. As soon as the fleet was gone the city emptied as rapidly as it
had filled. The merchants and merry-makers vanished back to Panama, and
the thirty odd wretched souls who stayed, began their dreary vigil until
the next year, when the galleons returned. In 1584, on the report of
Antonio Baptista, surveyor to the King of Spain, the trade was removed
to Porto Bello, a beautiful bay, discovered and named by Columbus, lying
some twenty miles farther to the west. It is a good harbour for all
winds, and offers every convenience for the careening of vessels. The
surveyor thought it in every way a superior harbour. "Neither," he
writes, "will so many die there as there daily doe in Nombre de
Dios." By the middle of the seventeenth century the ruins of the old
town were barely discernible; but all traces of them have long since
disappeared. Dampier (writing of the year 1682) says that: "I have lain
ashore in the place where that City stood; but it is all overgrown with
Wood; so as toe leave noe sign that any Town hath been there." A thick
green cane brake has overgrown the Plaza. The battery has crumbled away.
The church bell which made such a clatter has long since ceased to
sound. The latest Admiralty Chart ignores the place.

[Illustration: NOMBRE DE DIOS]

The Cimmeroons frequently attacked the city while it was in occupation.
Once they captured and destroyed it.

Drake visited the town a second time in 1595. It was then a "bigge"
town, having large streets and "houses very hie, all built of timber,"
"one church very faire," and "a show in their shops of great store of
merchandises that had been there."[1] There was a mill above the town,
and a little watch-house "upon the top of another hill in the woods." To
the east there was a fresh river "with houses, and all about it
gardens." The native quarter was some miles away in the woods. Drake
burned the town, a deed which caused the inhabitants to migrate to Porto
Bello. It was at Nombre de Dios that Drake contracted the flux of which
he died. The town witnessed his first triumph and final discomfiture.

[Footnote 1: This was eleven years after the royal mandate ordering the
transference of the main trade of the place to Porto Bello. Perhaps the
town retained much of the trade, in spite of the mandate, as the
transference involved the making of a new mule track across the bogs and
crags between Venta Cruz and Porto Bello. Such a track would have taken
several years to lay.]

    _Note._--The authorities for this and the following chapters are:

    1. "Sir Francis Drake Reviv'd" (first published in 1626), by Philip
    Nichols, Preacher, helped, no doubt, by Drake himself and some of
    his company. 2. The scanty notice of the raid given in Hakluyt. 3.
    The story of Lopez Vaz, a Portuguese, also in Hakluyt.

    For the description of Nombre de Dios I have trusted to the account
    of Drake's last voyage printed in Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 587. In the
    same collection there is a translation from a very interesting
    report by a Spanish commissioner to the King of Spain. This paper
    gives reasons for the transference of the town to Porto Bello. One
    or two Ruttiers, or Mariner's Guides, make mention of the port, and
    of these the best is given in Hakluyt. It is also mentioned (but
    very curtly) in Herrera's History, in Dampier's Voyages, and in the
    account left by Champlain after his short visit to Panama. I know of
    no plan or picture of the place. The drawing reproduced here, from
    Schenk's "Hecatompolis," is purely imaginary, however pretty. For my
    remarks on "Cruces," or Venta Cruz, I am indebted to friends who
    have lived many years in Panama, and to an interesting article in
    _The Geographical Journal_ (December-July 1903, p. 325), by Colonel
    G. E. Church, M. Am. Soc. C.E.



    The treasure of the Indies--The Bastimentos--A Spanish herald

It may now have been ten o'clock at night, and we may reckon that the
boats were still four or five miles from the town, the lights of which,
if any burned, must have been plainly visible to the south and
south-south-west. To many of those who rocked there in the bay the
coming tussle was to be the first engagement. The night wind may have
seemed a little chilly, and the night and the strange town full of
terrors. The men fell to talking in whispers, and the constraint and
strangeness of it all, the noise of the clucking water, the cold of the
night, and the thought of what the negro lumbermen had said, began to
get upon their nerves. They talked of the strength of the town (and
indeed, although it was an open bay, without good water, it had at that
time much of the importance of Porto Bello, in the following century).
They talked "especially" of the reported troop of soldiers from Panama,
for Spanish infantry were the finest in the world, and the presence of a
company in addition to the garrison would be enough to beat off the
little band in the boats. Drake heard these conversations, and saw his
young men getting out of hand, and "thought it best to put these
conceits out of their heads." As the moon rose he persuaded them "that
it was the day dawning"--a fiction made the more easy by the
intervention of the high land between the watchers and the horizon. By
the growing light the boats stole farther in, arriving "at the towne, a
large hower sooner than first was purposed. For wee arrived there by
three of the clock after midnight." It happened that a "ship of
_Spaine_, of sixtie Tunnes, laden with Canary wines and other
commodities" had but newly arrived in the bay, "and had not yet furld
her sprit-saile." It was the custom for ships to discharge half of their
cargoes at one of the islands in the bay, so as to draw less water when
they ventured farther in. Perhaps this ship of Spain was about to
discharge her butts and tierces. At any rate her men were on deck, and
the light of the moon enabled them to see the four pinnaces, "an
extraordinary number" in so small a port, rowing hard, "with many
Oares," towards the landing. The Spaniards sent away their "Gundeloe,"
or small boat (gondola, as we should say), to warn the townsmen; but
Drake edged a little to the west, cutting in between the boat and the
shore, so as to force her "to goe to th'other side of the Bay." Drake's
boats then got ashore upon the sands, not more than twenty yards from
the houses, directly under a battery. There was no quay, and no
sea-sentry save a single gunner, asleep among the guns, who fled as they
clambered up the redoubt. Inside the little fort there were six great
pieces of brass ordnance, some demi- some whole culverin, throwing shot
of 10-18 lbs. weight for a distance of a mile. It did not take long to
dismount these guns, and spike them, by beating soft metal nails into
the touch-holes, and snapping them off flush with the orifice. But
though the men worked quickly the gunner was quicker yet. He ran through
the narrow streets, shouting the alarm, and the town woke up like one
man, expecting that the Cimmeroons were on them from the woods. Someone
ran to the church, and set the great bell swinging. The windows went up,
and the doors slammed, as the townsfolk hurried to their weapons, and
out into the streets. The place rang with cries and with the rapid
beating of the drums, for the drummers ran about the streets beating
vigorously to rouse out the soldiers. Drake made the battery harmless
and set a guard of twelve men over the boats on the sand. He then
marched hurriedly to the little hill commanding the bay, to the east of
the houses; for he had heard some talk of a battery being placed there,
"which might scour round about the town," and he wished to put it out of
action before venturing upon the city. He left half his company, about
thirty men, to keep the foot of the hill, and climbed to the summit,
where he found a "very fit place prepared," but no guns in position. He
returned to the company at the foot of the mount, and bade his brother,
with John Oxnam, or Oxenham, a gallant captain, and sixteen men, "to go
about, behind the King's Treasure House, and enter near the easter end
of the Market Place." He himself with the rest would pass up the broad
street into the market-place with sound of drum and trumpet. The
firepikes, "divided half to the one, and half to the other company,
served no less for fright to the enemy than light of our men, who by
this means might discern every place very well as if it were near day."
The drums beat up gallantly, the trumpets blew points of war, and the
poor citizens, scared from their beds, and not yet sure of their enemy,
stood shivering in the dawn, "marvelling what the matter might be." In a
few moments the two companies were entering the Plaza, making a dreadful
racket as they marched, to add to the confusion of the townsfolk, who
thought them far stronger than they really were. The soldiers of the
garrison, with some of the citizens, fell into some sort of order "at
the south east end of the Market Place, near the Governor's House, and
not far from the gate of the town." They chose this position because it
secured them a retreat, in the event of a repulse, along the road to
Panama. The western end of the Plaza had been hung with lines, from
which lighted matches dangled, so that the enemy might think that troops
were there, "whereas indeed there were not past two or three that taught
these lines to dance," and even these ran away as soon as the firepikes
displayed the fraud. The church bell was still ringing at the end of the
Plaza, and the townsfolk were still crying out as they ran for Panama,
when Drake's party stormed into the square from the road leading to the
sea. As they hove in sight the Spanish troops gave them "a jolly hot
volley of shot," aimed very low, so as to ricochet from the sand.
Drake's men at once replied with a volley from their calivers and a
flight of arrows, "fine roving shafts," which did great execution.
Without waiting to reload they at once charged in upon the Spaniards,
coming at once "to push of pike" and point and edge. The hurry of the
surprise was such that the Spaniards had no side-arms, and when once the
English had closed, their troops were powerless. As the parties met, the
company under Oxenham came into the Plaza at the double, by the eastern
road, with their trumpets blowing and the firepikes alight. The
Spaniards made no further fight of it. They flung their weapons down,
and fled along the forest road. For a little distance the cheering
sailors followed them, catching their feet in muskets and linstocks,
which the troops had flung away in their hurry.

Having dispersed the enemy, the men reformed in the Plaza, "where a tree
groweth hard by the Cross." Some hands were detailed to stop the ringing
of the alarm bell, which still clanged crazily in the belfry; but the
church was securely fastened, and it was found impossible to stop the
ringing without setting the place on fire, which Drake forbade. While
the men were trying to get into the church, Drake forced two or three
prisoners to show him the Governor's house, where the mule trains from
Panama were unloaded. Only the silver was stored in that place; for the
gold, pearls, and jewels, "being there once entered by the King's
officer," were locked in a treasure-house, "very strongly built of lime
and stone," at a little distance from the Cross, not far from the
water-side. At the Governor's house they found the door wide open, and
"a fair gennet ready saddled" waiting for the Governor to descend. A
torch or candle was burning on the balcony, and by its light the
adventurers saw "a huge heap of silver" in the open space beneath the
dwelling-rooms. It was a pile of bars of silver, heaped against the wall
in a mass that was roughly estimated to be seventy feet in length, ten
feet across, and twelve feet high--each bar weighing about forty pounds.
The men were for breaking their ranks in order to plunder the pile; but
Drake bade them stand to their arms. The King's treasure-house, he said,
contained more gold and pearls than they could take away; and presently,
he said, they would break the place open, and see what lay within. He
then marched his men back into the Plaza.

All this time the town was filled with confusion. Guns were being fired
and folk were crying out in the streets. It was not yet light, and
certain of the garrison, who had been quartered outside the city, ran to
and fro with burning matches, shouting out "Que gente? Que gente?" The
town at that time was very full of people, and this noise and confusion,
and the sight of so many running figures, began to alarm the boat guard
on the beach. One Diego, a negro, who had joined them on the sands, had
told them that the garrison had been reinforced only eight days before
by 150 Spanish soldiers.

This report, coupled with the anxiety of their position, seems to have
put the boat party into a panic. They sent off messengers to Drake,
saying that the pinnaces were "in danger to be taken," and that the
force would be overwhelmed as soon as it grew light enough for the
Spaniards to see the littleness of the band which had attacked them.
Diego's words confirmed the statements of the lumbermen at the Isles of
Pines. The men of Drake's party were young. They had never fought
before. They had been on the rack, as it were, for several days. They
were now quite out of hand, and something of their panic began to spread
among the party on the Plaza. Before Drake could do more than despatch
his brother, with John Oxenham, to reassure the guard, and see how
matters stood, the situation became yet more complicated. "A mighty
shower of rain, with a terrible storm of thunder and lightning," burst
furiously upon them, making such a roaring that none could hear his own
voice. As in all such storms, the rain came down in a torrent, hiding
the town from view in a blinding downpour. The men ran for the shelter
of "a certain shade or penthouse, at the western end of the King's
Treasure House," but before they could gain the cover some of their
bowstrings were wetted "and some of our match and powder hurt." As soon
as the shelter had been reached, the bowstrings were shifted, the guns
reprimed, and the match changed upon the linstocks. While the
industrious were thus employed, a number of the hands began talking of
the reports which had reached them from the boats. They were "muttering
of the forces of the town," evidently anxious to be gone from thence, or
at least stirring. Drake heard the muttered talk going up and down the
shed, and promptly told the men that he had brought them to the mouth of
the Treasure of the World, and that if they came away without it they
might blame nobody but themselves.

At the end of a "long half-hour" the storm began to abate, and Drake
felt that he must put an end to the panic. It was evidently dangerous
to allow the men any "longer leisure to demur of those doubts," nor was
it safe to give the enemy a chance of rallying. He stepped forward,
bidding his brother, with John Oxenham and his party, to break open the
King's treasure-house, while he, with the remainder of the hands,
maintained the Plaza. "But as he stepped forward his strength and sight
and speech failed him, and he began to faint for want of blood." He had
been hit in the leg with a bullet at the first encounter, yet in the
greatness of his heart he had not complained, although suffering
considerable pain. He had seen that many of his men had "already gotten
many good things" from the booths and houses in the Plaza, and he knew
very well that these men would take the first opportunity to slink away
down to the boats. He had, therefore, said nothing about his wound, nor
was it light enough for his men to see that he was bleeding. On his
fainting they noticed that the sand was bloody, "the blood having filled
the very first prints which our footsteps made"--a sight which amazed
and dismayed them, for they "thought it not credible" that a man should
"spare so much blood and live." They gave him a cordial to drink,
"wherewith he recovered himself," and bound his scarf about his leg "for
the stopping of the blood." They then entreated him "to be content to go
with them aboard," there to have his wound probed and dressed before
adventuring farther. This did not satisfy Drake, for he knew very well
that if the Spaniards rallied, the town would be lost, for it was
"utterly impossible, at least very unlikely, that ever they should, for
that time, return again, to recover the state in which they now were."
He begged them to leave him where he was, and to get the treasure, for
"it were more honourable for himself to jeopard his life for so great a
benefit, than to leave off so high an enterprise unperformed." But to
this the men would not listen. With Drake, their captain, alive "they
might recover wealth sufficient" at any time, but with Drake dead "they
should hardly be able to recover home." Those who had picked up a little
booty in the raid were only too glad of an excuse to get to the boats,
while those who were most eager to break the treasure-house, would not
allow Drake to put his life in hazard. Drake, poor man, was spent with
loss of blood, and could not reason with them, so that, "with force
mingled with fair entreaty, they bare him aboard his pinnace, and so
abandoned a most rich spoil for the present, only to preserve their
Captain's life." It was just daybreak when they got to the boats, so
that they were able to take stock of each other in the early morning
light before shoving off from the beach. They had lost but one man, "a
trumpeter," who was shot dead in the Plaza in the first assault, "his
Trumpet still in his hand." Many were wounded, but the Captain's wound
seems to have been the most serious. As they rowed out from the town the
surgeons among them provided remedies and salves for the wounded. As
they neared the open sea the men took the opportunity to attack "the
aforesaid ship of wines," for "the more comfort of the company." They
made her a prize with no great trouble, but before they got her clear of
the haven they received a shot or two from the dismantled battery. One
of the culverins which they had tumbled to the ground was remounted by
some of the garrison, "so as they made a shot at us." The shot did not
hit the mark, and the four boats, with their prize, got clear away to
the Isle of Bastimentos, or Isle of Victuals, about a league to the
westward of the harbour. They stayed there for the next two days, to
cure the wounded men and to refresh themselves, "in the goodly gardens
which we there found." The island was stocked with dainty roots and
fruits, "besides great plenty of poultry," for it served the citizens as
a farm and market-garden, "from which their fresh provisions were
derived." Soon after they had come to anchor, and established themselves
among the fruit-trees, a flag of truce came off from the Governor of the
city. It was carried by a Spanish captain, who had come to Nombre de
Dios with the company of troops from Panama. He was a handsome
gentleman, of a delicate carriage and of an elaborate politeness. He was
come, of course, as a spy, but he began with the assurance that he came
"of mere good will," to see the heroes who had attempted the town with
so small a party. At the first, he said, the townsfolk had thought them
Frenchmen, from whom they looked for little mercy, but that afterwards,
when the arrows had shown them that they were English, they had less
fear, for they knew the humanity of that race. Although, he said, his
curiosity to see such brave folk were sufficient warrant for his
adventuring among them, he had also a commission from the Governor. That
gentleman wished to know whether their captain was the same Captain
Drake, of whom some of the townsfolk talked as being so kind to his
prisoners. He then asked whether the arrows used in the battle in the
Plaza had been poisoned, for many Spaniards had been wounded by them,
and would fain know how to treat the wounds. Lastly he wished to know
whether they were in need of victuals or other necessaries, pledging the
Governor's word that he would do all he could to supply anything they
wanted. The questions seem to us a little transparent, and so they
seemed to Drake, but Drake was always a courteous and ceremonious
gentleman. He replied that he was the Captain Drake they meant; that "it
was never his manner to use poisoned arrows"; that the wounds could be
cured by the usual methods; and that as for wants, the Isle of
Bastimentos would supply him. He wanted nothing, he said, "but some of
that special commodity which that country yielded." And, therefore, he
advised the Governor "to hold open his eyes, for before he departed, if
God lent him life and leave, he meant to reap some of their harvest,
which they got out of the earth, and send into Spain to trouble all the
earth." The answer seems to have nettled the Spanish spy, for he asked
("if he might, without offence, move such a question") why the English
had left the town when 360 tons of silver, with gold to a far greater
value, had been lying at their mercy. Drake showed him the "true cause"
of his unwilling retreat to the pinnaces. The answer moved the Spaniard
to remark that "the English had no less reason in departing, than
courage in attempting,"--a remark made with a mental note that the
townsfolk would be well advised to leave this Drake alone on his island,
without sending boats out to attack him. Drake then entertained the spy
to dinner, "with great favour and courteous entertainment, and such
gifts as most contented him." As he made his way to his boat after
dinner he vowed and protested that "he was never so much honoured of any
in his life." He must have had a curious story for the Governor when he
got ashore to the town.

As soon as the trumpets had sounded the departure of the flag of truce,
Drake sent for Diego, the negro, who had joined the boat party in the
morning. From Diego he learned many "intelligences of importance," none
of them, perhaps, more grateful to Drake than the news that his name was
highly honoured among the Maroons or Cimmeroons. Diego begged that Drake
would give him an opportunity of treating with the chiefs of these
savages, as by their help, he said, they "might have gold and silver
enough." The matter was debated among the company, while Drake gave
effect to another of his plans. Not more than thirty miles away along
the coast was a certain river, "the River of Chagres," which trended in
a south-easterly direction towards Panama across the isthmus. It was
navigable to within six leagues of Panama, and at the point to which it
was navigable there stood "a little town called Venta Cruz." When the
road from Panama to Nombre de Dios was impracticable, owing to the
rains, or the raids of the Maroons, the treasure was carried to Venta
Cruz, and there shipped aboard swift vessels, built for oars and sails,
which carried the precious stuff to Nombre de Dios. Drake had a mind to
look into Venta Cruz to surprise some of the treasure on its way. He,
therefore, sent away his brother, with two pinnaces and a steady man
named Ellis Hixom, to examine the Chagres River, and to bring back a
report of its fitness for boats such as theirs. Having seen them stand
to the west, Drake ordered his men aboard early in the morning of the
31st July. The sweeps were shipped and the sails hoisted, and the
pinnaces made off with their captured wine ship to rejoin Captain Rause
at the Isles of Pines, or Port Plenty. They arrived at their haven on
the evening of the 1st of August, after a sail of thirty-six hours.
Captain Rause was angry that the raid had not been more successful, and
felt that it was useless to stay longer in those seas, now that the
Spaniards knew that they were on the coast. He waited till the pinnaces
returned from Chagres River, as some of his hands were in them; but as
soon as they arrived he parted company, after dissolving partnership
with Drake. Drake seems to have been glad to see him go.



    The cruise of the pinnaces--Cartagena--The secret haven--Death of
    John Drake

While they were waiting for the pinnaces Drake had the ships set in
order, the arms scoured, and everything made ready for the next
adventure. He had taken Nombre de Dios so easily that he felt confident
of treating Cartagena, the chiefest town in those waters, in the same
way. On the 7th of August he set sail for Cartagena with his two ships
and three pinnaces, making no attempt upon the mainland as he sailed, as
he did not wish to be discovered. He met with calms and light airs on
the passage, and did not arrive off Cartagena until the evening of the
13th August. He came to anchor in seven-fathom water between the islands
of Charesha (which we cannot now identify) and St Barnards, now known as
San Barnardo. As soon as the sails were furled, Drake manned his three
pinnaces, and rowed about the island into the harbour of Cartagena,
"where, at the very entry, he found a frigate at anchor." He hooked on
to her chains, and boarded her, finding her an easy spoil, for she had
been left in the care of "only one old man." They asked this old sailor
where the rest of the company had gone. He answered that they were gone
ashore in their gundeloe that evening, to fight about a mistress, adding
that about two hours before, a pinnace had gone past under sail, with
her oars out, and the men rowing furiously. Her men had hailed his
vessel as they passed, asking whether any French or English men had been
there. Upon answer that there had been none they bade him look to
himself, and rowed on up the coast. Within an hour of their going past
the harbour the city batteries had fired many cannon, as though some
danger were toward. One of the old man's mates had then gone aloft "to
descry what might be the cause." He had looked over the narrow neck of
land which shuts the harbour from the sea, and had espied "divers
frigates and small shipping bringing themselves within the Castle." This
report showed Drake that he had been discovered, but the information did
not greatly move him. He gathered from the old mariner that a great ship
of Seville lay moored just round the next point, with her yards across,
"being bound the next morning for St Domingo," or Hispaniola. Drake
"took this old man into his pinnace to verify that which he had
informed, and rowed towards this ship." As he drew near, the Spanish
mariners hailed them, asking "whence the shallops came." Drake answered:
"From Nombre de Dios." His answer set the Spaniards cursing and damning
him for a heretic English buccaneer. "We gave no heed to their words,"
says the narrative, but hooked on to the chains and ports, on the
starboard bow, starboard quarter, and port beam, and laid her aboard
without further talk. It was something of a task to get on board, for
the ship stood high in the water, being of 240 tons, (and as far as we
can judge) in ballast. Having gained the ship's waist they tossed the
gratings and hatch covers down into the lower decks. The Spaniards gave
up the ship without fighting, and retired, with their weapons, to the
hold. Two or three of their younger seamen went forward, and hid in the
manger, where they were found as soon as the dark decks were lit by a
lantern from the pinnaces. The raiders then cut the ship's cables, and
towed her "without the island into the sound right afore the town," just
beyond the shot of the citizens' great guns. As they towed her out, the
town took the alarm, the bells were rung, thirty great cannon were
fired, and the garrison, both horse and foot, well armed with calivers,
marched down "to the very point of the wood," to impeach them "if they
might" in their going out to sea. The next morning (Drake being still
within the outer harbour) he captured two Spanish frigates "in which
there were two, who called themselves King's Scrivanos [notaries] the
one of Cartagena, the other of Veragua." The boats, which were sparsely
manned, had been at Nombre de Dios at the time of the raid. They were
now bound for Cartagena with double letters of advice, "to certify that
Captain Drake had been at Nombre de Dios, and taken it; and had it not
been that he was hurt with some blessed shot, by all likelihood he had
sacked it. He was yet still upon the coast," ran the letter, "and they
should therefore carefully prepare for him."

Sailing out of the haven (by the Boca Chica, or Little Mouth) Drake set
his pinnaces ashore, and stood away to the San Barnardo Islands, to the
south of the town, where he found "great store of fish" as a change of
diet for his men. He then cruised up and down among the islands,
considering what he should attempt. He had been discovered at the two
chief cities on the Main, but he had not yet made his voyage (_i.e._ it
had not yet paid expenses), and until he had met with the Maroons, and
earned "a little comfortable dew of Heaven," he meant to stay upon the
coast. He, therefore, planned to diminish his squadron, for with the two
ships to keep it was difficult to man the pinnaces, and the pinnaces had
proved peculiarly fitted for the work in hand. With one ship destroyed,
and the other converted into a storeship, his movements would, he
thought, be much less hampered; "but knowing the affection of his
company, how loath they were to leave either of their ships, being both
so good sailers and so well furnished; he purposed in himself some
policy to make them most willing to effect what he intended." He,
therefore, sent for Thomas Moone, who was carpenter aboard the _Swan_,
and held a conference with him in the cabin. Having pledged him to
secrecy, he gave him an order to scuttle that swift little ship in the
middle of the second watch, or two in the morning. He was "to go down
secretly into the well of the ship, and with a spike-gimlet to bore
three holes, as near the keel as he could, and lay something against it
[oakum or the like] that the force of the water entering, might make no
great noise, nor be discovered by a boiling up." Thomas Moone "at the
hearing hereof" was utterly dismayed, for to him the project seemed flat
burglary as ever was committed. Why, he asked, should the Captain want
to sink so good a ship, a ship both "new and strong," in which they had
sailed together in two "rich and gainfull" voyages? If the Captain's
brother (John Drake, who was master of the _Swan_) and the rest of the
company (twenty-six hands in all) should catch him at such practices he
thought verily they would heave him overboard. However, Drake promised
that the matter should be kept secret "till all of them should be glad
of it." On these terms Moone consented to scuttle the _Swan_ that night.

The next morning, a little after daybreak, Drake called away his
pinnace, "proposing to go a-fishing." Rowing down to the _Swan_ he
hailed her, asking his brother to go with him. John Drake was in his
bunk at the time, and replied that "he would follow presently," or if it
would please him to stay a very little he would attend him. Drake saw
that the deed was done; for the _Swan_ was slowly settling. He would
not stay for his brother, but asked casually, "as making no great
account of it," why their barque was so deep in the sea. John Drake
thought little of the question, but sent a man down to the steward, who
had charge of the hold, to inquire "whether there were any water in the
ship, or what other cause might be?" The steward, "hastily stepping down
at his usual scuttle," was wet to the waist before he reached the foot
of the ladder. Very greatly scared he hurried out of the hold, "as if
the water had followed him," crying out that the ship was full of water.
John Drake at once called all hands to mend ship, sending some below to
find the leak and the remainder to the pumps. The men turned to "very
willingly," so that "there was no need to hasten them," and John Drake
left them at their work while he reported the "strange chance" to his
brother. He could not understand how it had happened. They had not
pumped twice in six weeks before, and now they had six feet of water in
the hold. He hoped his brother would give him "leave from attending him
in fishing," as he wished to find the leak without delay. Drake offered
to send the _Pascha's_ men abroad to take a spell at the pumps, but this
John Drake did not wish. He had men enough, he said; and he would like
his brother to continue his fishing, so that they might have fresh fish
for dinner. On getting back to the _Swan_ he found that the pumps had
gained very little on the leak, "yet such was their love to the bark,
... that they ceased not, but to the utmost of their strength laboured
all that they might, till three in the afternoon." By that time the
_Pascha's_ men, helped by Drake himself, had taken turn about at the
pump brakes, and the pumping had been carried on for eight or nine hours
without ceasing. The pumping had freed her only about a foot and a half,
and the leak was still undiscovered. The men were tired out, for the
sun was now at his hottest, and Drake adds slyly that they "had now a
less liking of her than before, and greater content to hear of some
means for remedy." We gather from what follows, that when he asked them
what they wished to do, they left it all to him. He, therefore,
suggested that John Drake should go aboard the _Pascha_ as her captain.
He himself, he said, would shift into a pinnace; while the _Swan_ should
be set on fire, and abandoned as soon as her gear was taken out of her.
The pinnaces came aboard the sinking ship, and the men pillaged her of
all her stores. Powder, tar, and the like were scattered about her
decks; and she was then set on fire, and watched until she sank. Thus
"our Captain had his desire, and men enough for his pinnaces."

The next morning, the 16th August, the squadron bore away for the Gulf
of Darien, to find some secret harbour where they might leave the ship
at anchor, "not discoverable by the enemy," who thereby might imagine
them quite departed from the coast. Drake intended to take two of the
pinnaces along the Main as soon as they had hidden away the _Pascha_,
for he was minded to go a cruise up the Rio Grande, or Magdalena River.
In his absence John Drake was to take the third pinnace, with Diego, the
negro, as a guide, to open up communications with the Cimmeroons. By the
21st of August they arrived in the Gulf; and Drake sought out a secret
anchorage, far from any trade route, where the squadron might lie
quietly till the fame of their being on the coast might cease. They
found a place suited to their needs, and dropped their anchors in its
secret channels, in "a fit and convenient road," where a sailor might
take his ease over a rum bowl. Drake took his men ashore, and cleared a
large plot of ground "both of trees and brakes" as a site for a little
village, trimly thatched with palm leaves, which was built by Diego,
the negro, after the Indian fashion, for the "more comfort of the
company." The archers made themselves butts to shoot at, because they
had "many that delighted in that exercise and wanted not a fletcher to
keep the bows and arrows in order." The rest of the company, "every one
as he liked best," disported merrily at bowls and quoits, fleeting the
time carelessly as they did in the Golden Age. "For our Captain allowed
one half of the company to pass their time thus, every other day
interchangeable," the other half of the crew being put to the provision
of fresh food and the necessary work aboard the vessels. Drake took
especial interest in trying the powers of the pinnaces, trimming them in
every conceivable way, so as to learn their capacity under any
circumstance. The smiths set up their forge, "being furnished out of
England with anvil, iron, and coals" (surely Drake never forgot
anything), which stood the expedition "in great stead," for, no doubt,
there was much iron-work that needed repair. The country swarmed with
conies, hogs, deer, and fowl, so that the men lived upon fresh meat, or
upon the fish in the creeks, "whereof there was great plenty." The woods
were full of wholesome fruits, though, perhaps, the water of the
neighbouring rivers was not quite all that could be wished. They stayed
in this pleasant haven for fifteen days, at the end of which Drake took
his two pinnaces, leaving John Drake behind in charge of the _Pascha_
and the remaining pinnace, and sailed away along the coast to explore
the Rio Grande. He kept the pinnaces far out at sea to avoid discovery,
and landed on the 8th of September about six miles to the westward of
the river's mouth, in order to obtain some fresh beef from the Indian
cowherds. The district was then rich pasture-land, as rich as the modern
pastures in Argentina. It was grazed over by vast herds of cattle,
savage and swift, which the Spaniards placed in charge of Indian
cowboys. When the beeves were slaughtered, their meat was dried into
charqui, or "boucanned," over a slow fire, into which the hide was
thrown. It was then sent down to Cartagena, for the provisioning of the
galleons going home. The province (Nueva Reyna) was less pestilential
than its westward neighbours. Sugar was grown there in the semi-marshy
tracts near the river. Gold was to be found there in considerable
quantities, and there were several pearl fisheries upon the coasts. The
district was more populous than any part of Spanish America, for it was
not only healthier, but more open, affording little cover for Maroons.

[Illustration: CARTAGENA]

On landing, Drake met some Indians in charge of a herd of steers. They
asked him in broken Spanish "What they would have." Drake gave them to
understand that he wished to buy some fresh meat, upon which they picked
out several cattle "with ease and so readily, as if they had a special
commandment over them, whereas they would not abide us to come near
them." The Indians have just that skill in handling cattle which the
negroes have in handling mules. They did Drake this service willingly,
"because our Captain, according to his custom, contented them for their
pains with such things as they account greatly of." He left them in high
good humour, promising him that if he came again he should have what he
desired of them. Drake left the shore as soon as his pinnaces were laden
with fresh meat, and sailed on up the coast till he reached the lesser,
or western, mouth of the Rio Grande, "where we entered about three of
the clock." The river runs with a great fierceness, so that the hands
were able to draw fresh water "for their beverage" a mile and a half
from the mouth. It was a current almost too fierce to row against in the
hot sun, so that five hours' hard rowing only brought them six miles on
their way upstream. They then moored the pinnaces to a great tree that
grew on the bank. They ate their suppers in that place, hoping to pass a
quiet evening, but with the darkness there came such a terrible
thunderstorm "as made us not a little to marvel at," though Drake
assured the younger men that in that country such storms soon passed. It
wetted them to the bone, no doubt, but within three-quarters of an hour
it had blown over and become calm. Immediately the rain had ceased, the
air began to hum with many wings, and forth came "a kind of flies of
that country, called mosquitoes, like our gnats," which bit them
spitefully as they lay in the bottoms of the boats. It was much too hot
to lie beneath a blanket, and the men did not know how to kindle a
"smudge" of smouldering aromatic leaves. They had no pork fat nor
paraffin to rub upon their hands and faces, according to the modern
practice, and "the juice of lemons," which gave them a little relief,
must have been a poor substitute. "We could not rest all that night,"
says the narrative. At daybreak the next morning they rowed away from
that place, "rowing in the eddy" along the banks, where the current
helped them. Where the eddy failed, as in swift and shallow places, they
hauled the boats up with great labour by making a hawser fast to a tree
ahead, and hauling up to it, as on a guess-warp. The work of rowing, or
warping, was done by spells, watch and watch, "each company their
half-hour glass," till about three in the afternoon, by which time they
had come some fifteen miles. They passed two Indians who sat in a canoe
a-fishing; but the Indians took them to be Spaniards, and Drake let them
think so, for he did not wish to be discovered. About an hour later they
espied "certain houses on the other side of the river," a mile or so
from them, the river being very broad--so great, says the narrative,
"that a man can scantly be discerned from side to side." A Spaniard,
who had charge of those houses, espied them from the vantage of the
bank, and promptly kindled a smoke "for a signal to turn that way,"
being lonely up there in the wilds, and anxious for news of the world.
As they rowed across the current to him he waved to them "with his hat
and his long hanging sleeves" to come ashore, but as soon as he
perceived them to be foreigners he took to his heels, and fled from the
river-side. The adventurers found that he was a sort of store or
warehouse keeper, in charge of five houses "all full of white rusk,
dried bacon, that country cheese (like Holland cheese in fashion--_i.e._
round--but far more delicate in taste, of which they send into Spain as
special presents), many sorts of sweetmeats, and conserves; with great
store of sugar: being provided to serve the fleet returning to Spain."
As they loaded their pinnaces with these provisions they talked with a
poor Indian woman, who told them that about thirty trading vessels were
expected from Cartagena. The news caused them to use despatch in their
lading, so that by nightfall they were embarked again, and rowing
downstream against the wind. The Spaniards of Villa del Rey, a city some
two miles inland from the storehouses, endeavoured to hinder their
passage by marching their Indians to the bushes on the river-bank, and
causing them to shoot their arrows as the boats rowed past. They did not
do any damage to the adventurers, who rowed downstream a few miles, and
then moored their boats for the night. Early the next morning they
reached the mouth of the river, and here they hauled ashore to put the
pinnaces in trim. The provisions were unloaded, and the boats thoroughly
cleansed, after which the packages were stowed securely, so as to
withstand the tossings of the seas. The squadron then proceeded to the
westward, going out of their course for several miles in order to
overhaul a Spanish barque. They "imagined she had some gold or treasure
going for Spain," but on search in her hold they could find only sugar
and hides. They, therefore, let her go, and stood off again for the
secret harbour. The next day they took some five or six small frigates,
bound from Santiago de Tolu to Cartagena, with ladings of "live hogs,
hens, and maize, which we call Guinea wheat." They examined the crews of
these ships for news "of their preparations for us," and then dismissed
them, reserving only two of the half-dozen prizes "because they were so
well stored with good victuals." Three days later they arrived at the
hidden anchorage, which Drake called Port Plenty, because of abundance
of "good victuals" that they took while lying there. Provision ships
were passing continually, either to Nombre de Dios or Cartagena, with
food for the citizens or for the victualling of the plate fleets. "So
that if we had been two thousand, yea, three thousand, persons, we might
with our pinnaces easily have provided them sufficient victuals of wine,
meal, rusk, cassavi (a kind of bread made of a root called Yucca, whose
juice is poison, but the substance good and wholesome), dried beef,
dried fish, live sheep, live hogs, abundance of hens, besides the
infinite store of dainty fresh fish, very easily to be taken every day."
So much food was taken, that the company, under the direction of Diego,
the negro, were forced to build "four several magazines or storehouses,
some ten, some twenty leagues asunder," on the Main, or on the islands
near it, for its storage. They intended to stay upon the coast until
their voyage was "made," and, therefore, needed magazines of the kind
for the future plenishing of their lazarettoes. We read that Diego, the
negro, was of special service to them in the building of these houses,
for, like all the Maroons, he was extremely skilful at the craft. They
were probably huts of mud and wattle, thatched with palm leaves, "with a
Sort of Door made of Macaw-Wood, and Bamboes." From these magazines
Drake relieved two French ships "in extreme want"; while his men and
their allies the Cimmeroons lived at free quarters all the time they
stayed there.

While the Captain had been cruising up the Magdalena, his brother, John
Drake, had been westward along the coast with Diego, "the Negro
aforesaid," in his pinnace. Diego had landed on the coast to talk with
"certain of the Cimmeroons," who exchanged hostages with Drake's party,
and agreed upon a meeting-place at a little river midway between the
Cabezas, or "Headlands," and the anchorage. Drake talked with these
hostages as soon as he arrived from the seas. He found them two "very
sensible men," most ready to help him against the common enemy. They
told him that "their Nation conceited great joy of his arrivall"; for
they had heard of Nombre de Dios and of his former raids upon the coast,
and gladly welcomed the suggested alliance. Their chief and tribe, they
said, were encamped near the aforementioned little river, the Rio Diego,
to await Drake's decision. Having compared the talk of these men with
the reports he had gathered from the Indian cowherds and Spanish
prisoners, he consulted his brother (who had seen the Maroons at the Rio
Diego camp), and asked "those of best service with him" what were
fittest to be done. John Drake advised that the ships should proceed to
the westward, to the Rio Diego, for near the mouth of that stream he had
discovered a choice hiding-place. It could be reached by many channels,
but only by the most careful pilotage, for the channels were full of
rocks and shoals. The channels twisted sluggishly among a multitude of
islands, which were gorgeous with rhododendron shrubs, and alive with
butterflies, blue and scarlet, that sunned themselves, in blots of
colour, upon the heavy green leaves. Among the blossomed branches there
were parrots screaming, and the little hummingbirds, like flying jewels,
darting from flower to flower. Up above them the great trees towered,
shutting out the sight of the sea, so that a dozen ships might have lain
in that place without being observed from the open water. The
description of this hiding-place moved Drake to proceed thither at once
with his two pinnaces, the two Maroons, and his brother John, giving
orders for the ship to follow the next morning. The pinnaces arrived
there the next day, and found the Cimmeroons encamped there, some of
them at the river's mouth, the others "in a wood by the river's side." A
solemn feast was prepared, at which the Maroons gave "good testimonies
of their joy and good will" towards the adventurers. After the feast,
the tribe marched away to the Rio Guana, intending to meet with another
tribe, at that time camped among the hills. The pinnaces returned from
Rio Diego, wondering why the ship had not arrived, and anxious for her
safety. They found her, on the 16th September, in the place where they
had left her, "but in far other state," for a tempest had set her on her
side, and sorely spoiled her trim, so that it took two days to repair
the damage done. A pinnace was then despatched to the Rio Diego
anchorage, to go "amongst the shoals and sandy places, to sound out the
channel." On the 19th of September the _Pascha_ was warily piloted to
moorings, "with much ado to recover the road among so many flats and
shoals." Her berth was about five leagues from the Cativaas, or Catives,
"betwixt an island and the Main"--the island being about half-a-mile
from the shore, some three acres in extent, "flat, and very full of
trees and bushes."

The anchors were hardly in the ground, when the friendly tribe of
Cimmeroons appeared upon the shore, with several others whom they had
met in the mountains. They were all fetched aboard, "to their great
comfort and our content," and a council was held forthwith. Drake then
asked the chiefs how they could help him to obtain some gold and silver.
They replied that nothing could be done for another five months, because
the autumn, the rainy season, was upon them, during which time no
treasure would be moved from Panama. Had they known that he wanted gold,
they said, they would have satisfied him, for they had taken a great
store from the Spaniards in a foray, and had flung it into the rivers,
which were now too high for them to hope to recover it by diving. He
must, therefore, wait, they said, till the rains had ceased in the
coming March, when they could attack a treasure train together. The
answer was a little unexpected, but not unpleasant, for Drake was
willing to remain on the coast for another year if need were. He at once
resolved to build himself a fort upon the island, "for the planting of
all our ordnance therein, and for our safeguard, if the enemy in all
this time, should chance to come." The Cimmeroons cut down a number of
Palmito boughs and branches, and soon had two large sheds built, both
trim and watertight, for the housing of the company. The boats were then
sent ashore to the Main to bring over timber for the building of the
fortress. This stronghold was built in the shape of a triangle, with a
deep ditch all round it.


The building was a full thirteen feet in height, built of tree boles
from the Main, with earth from the trench to take the place of mortar.
The ship's guns were hoisted out of the ship and rafted over to the
fortress, and there mounted at the embrasures. For platforms for the
guns they used the planks of one of the frigates captured near
Cartagena. When the heavy work of lumber handling had been finished, but
before the fort was ready for use, Drake took John Oxenham, with two of
the pinnaces, upon a cruise to the east. He feared that a life of ease
ashore would soon make his mariners discontented and eager to be home.
It was, therefore, necessary to invent distractions for them. Instead of
going at once towards his quarry he sailed along leisurely, close to the
coast, stopping a night at one little island for a feast on a kind of
bird like spur-kites, the flesh of which was very delicate. He stopped
another night at another island, because "of a great kind of shellfish
of a foot long," which the company called whelks. As soon as these
delectable islands had been left astern, the pinnaces "hauled off into
the sea," across the bright, sunny water, blue and flashing, gleaming
with the silver arrows of the flying-fish, in order to make the Isles of
San Barnardo. They chased two frigates ashore before they came to
moorings, after which they scrubbed and trimmed their boats, spent a day
fishing from the rocks, and set sail again for Santiago de Tolu. Here
they landed in a garden, close to the city, to the delight of some
Indians who were working there. After bargaining together for the garden
stuff the Indians left their bows and arrows with the sailors while they
ran to pluck "many sorts of dainty fruits and roots," such as the garden
yielded. Drake paid for the green stuff, and had it taken aboard, after
inquiring strictly as to the state of the country and the plate fleets.
The company then rowed away for Cartagena, eating their "mellions and
winter cherries" with a good appetite. They rowed through the Boca
Chica, or Little Mouth, into the splendid harbour, where they set sail,
"having the wind large," towards the inner haven and the city. They
anchored "right over against the goodly Garden Island," where the fruit
was a sore temptation to the seamen, who longed to rob the trees. Drake
would not allow them to land, for he feared an ambush, and, indeed, a
few hours later, as they passed by the point of the island, they were
fired at from the orchards with "a volley of a hundred shot," one of
which wounded a sailor. There was little to be done in the harbour, so
they put to sea again. They took a barque the next morning about six
miles from the port. She was a ship of fifty tons, laden with soap and
sweetmeats, bound from St Domingo towards Cartagena. She was armed with
"swords, targets and some small shot, besides four iron bases." Her
captain and passengers had slipped ashore in the boat as soon as they
had spied the pinnaces, but the captain's silken flag, woven in colours,
with his coat-of-arms, had been left behind as a spoil. Having sent her
company ashore, "saving a young Negro two or three years old, which we
brought away," they sailed her into Cartagena harbour, with the pinnaces
towing astern. They anchored at the mouth of the inner haven to await
events. During the afternoon the Scrivano, or King's notary,
aforementioned, rode down "to the point by the wood side" with a little
troop of horsemen. The Scrivano displayed a flag of truce, and came
aboard, to worry Drake with his oily lawyer's manner and elaborate,
transparent lies. He promised to obtain fresh meat for him as a slight
return for "his manifold favours, etc." but Drake saw that it was but a
plot of the Governor's to keep him in the port till they could trap him.
He thanked the supple liar, kept a good lookout throughout the night,
and stood to sea as soon as the sun rose. He took two frigates the next
day, just outside the harbour. They were small boats in ballast, one of
twelve, one of fifty tons, bound for St Domingo. He brought them to
anchor in a bravery, "within saker shot of the east Bulwark," and then
dismissed their mariners ashore. On the 21st October, the morning after
this adventure, the Spaniards sent a flag of truce to the headland at
the mouth of the Boca Chica. Drake manned one of his pinnaces, and rowed
ashore to see what they wanted. When about 200 yards from the point the
Spaniards fled into the wood, as though afraid of the boat's
guns--hoping, no doubt, that Drake would follow, and allow them to
ambush him. Drake dropped his grapnel over the stern of the pinnace, and
veered the boat ashore, little by little, till the bows grated on the
sand. As she touched he leaped boldly ashore, in sight of the Spanish
troops, "to declare that he durst set his foot a land." The Spaniards
seem to have made a rush towards him, whereupon he got on board again,
bade his men warp the boat out by the cable, and "rid awhile," some 100
yards from the shore, in the smooth green water, watching the fish
finning past the weeds. Seeing that Drake was less foolish than they had
hoped, the Spaniards came out upon the sands, at the edge of the wood,
and bade one of their number take his clothes off, to swim to the boat
with a message. The lad stripped, and swam off to the boat, "as with a
Message from the Governor," asking them why they had come to the coast,
and why they stayed there. Drake replied that he had come to trade, "for
he had tin, pewter, cloth, and other merchandise that they needed," with
which reply the youth swam back to the soldiers. After some talk upon
the sands, the men-at-arms sent him back with an answer. "The King,"
they said, "had forbidden them to traffic with any foreign nation, for
any commodities, except powder and shot; of which, if he had any store,
they would be his merchants." Drake answered that he had come all the
way from England to exchange his commodities for gold and silver, and
had little will to return "without his errand." He told them that, in
his opinion, they were "like to have little rest" if they would not
traffic with him fairly in the way of business. He then gave the
messenger "a fair shirt for a reward," and despatched him back to his
masters. The lad rolled the shirt about his head in the Indian fashion,
and swam back "very speedily," using, perhaps, the swift Indian stroke.
He did not return that day, though Drake waited for him until sunset,
when the pinnace pulled slowly back to the two frigates, "within saker
shot [or three-quarters of a mile] of the east Bulwark." The adventurers
lay there all that night, expecting to be attacked. The guns were
loaded, and cartridges made ready, and a strict lookout was kept. At
dawn they saw two sails running down towards them from the Boca Chica on
a fresh easterly breeze. Drake manned his two pinnaces, leaving the
frigates empty, expecting to have a fight for their possession. Before
he came within gunshot of the Spaniards he had to use his oars, for the
wind fell, thereby lessening the advantage the Spanish had. As the boats
neared each other Drake's mariners "saw many heads peeping over board"
along the gunwales of the enemy. They perceived then that the two ships
had been manned to occupy Drake's attention, while another squadron made
a dash from the town, "from the eastern Bulwark," to retake his two
prizes. But Drake "prevented both their drifts." He bade John Oxenham
remain there with the one pinnace, "to entertain these two Men of war,"
while he, with the other, rowed furiously back to the two prizes. Quick
as he had been the Spaniards had been quicker. They had rowed out in a
large canoe, which had made two trips, so that one frigate was now full
of Spaniards, who had cut her cables, while the canoe towed her towards
the batteries. As Drake ranged up alongside, the towline was cast adrift
by the men in the canoe; while the gallants on the deck leaped
overboard, to swim ashore, leaving their rapiers, guns, and powder
flasks behind them. Drake watched them swim out of danger, and then set
the larger ship on fire. The smaller of the two he scuttled where she
lay, "giving them to understand by this, that we perceived their secret
practices." As soon as the frigates were disposed of, the pinnace
returned to John Oxenham, who was lying to by the two men-of-war,
waiting for them to open fire. As the Captain's pinnace drew near, the
wind shifted to the north, and blew freshly, so that both the English
boats, being to shoreward of the enemy, were forced to run before it,
into the harbour, "to the great joy of the Spaniards," who thought they
were running away. Directly they were past the point, "and felt smooth
water," they obtained the weather-gage, exchanged a few shots, and
dropped their anchors, keeping well to windward of the enemy. The
Spaniards also anchored; but as the wind freshened into "a norther" they
thought it best to put ashore, and, therefore, retired to the town.

For the next four days it blew very hard from the west, with cold rain
squalls, to the great discomfort of all hands, who could keep neither
warm nor dry. On the fifth day (27th October) a frigate came in from the
sea, and they at once attacked her, hoping to find shelter aboard her
after the four days of wet and cold. The Spaniards ran her ashore on the
point by the Boca Chica, "unhanging her rudder and taking away her
sails, that she might not easily be carried away." However, the boats
dashed alongside, intending to board her. As they came alongside, a
company of horse and foot advanced on to the sands from the woods,
opening fire on them as soon as they had formed. The pinnaces replied
with their muskets and heavy guns, sending a shot "so near a brave
cavalier" that the whole party retreated to the coverts. From the thick
brush they were able to save the frigate from capture without danger to
themselves; so Drake abandoned her, and set to sea again, in the teeth
of the gale, intending to win to Las Serenas, some rocks six miles to
sea, off which he thought he could anchor, with his masts down, until
the weather moderated. But when he arrived off the rocks, a mighty sea
was beating over them, so that he had to run back to Cartagena, where
he remained six days, "notwithstanding the Spaniards grieved greatly at
our abode there so long."

On the 2nd of November the Governor of Cartagena made a determined
attempt to destroy him or drive him out to sea. He manned three
vessels--"a great shallop, a fine gundeloe and a great canoe"--with
Spanish musketeers and Indians with poisoned arrows. These attacked with
no great spirit, for as soon as the pinnaces advanced they retreated,
and presently "went ashore into the woods," from which an ambush "of
some sixty shot" opened a smart fire. As the ambush began to blaze away
from the bushes, Drake saw that two pinnaces and a frigate, manned with
musketeers and archers, were warping towards him from the town, in the
teeth of the wind. As this second line of battle neared the scene of
action, the Spaniards left the ambush in the wood, and ran down the
sands to the gundeloe and canoe, which they manned, and again thrust
from the shore. Drake then stood away into the haven, out of shot of the
shore guns, and cast anchor in the great open space, with the two
pinnaces lying close together, one immediately ahead of the other. He
rigged the sides of the pinnaces with bonnets, the narrow lengths of
canvas which were laced to the feet of sails to give them greater
spread. With these for his close-fights, or war-girdles, he waved to the
Spaniards to attack. They rowed up cheering, all five boats of them,
"assuring their fellows of the day." Had they pushed the attack home,
the issue might have been different, but the sight of the close-fights
frightened them. They lay on their oars "at caliver-shot distance," and
opened a smart musketry fire, "spending powder apace," without pausing,
for two or three hours. One man was wounded on Drake's side. The Spanish
loss could not be told, but Drake's men could plainly see that the
Spanish pinnaces had been shot through and through. One lucky shot went
into a Spanish powder tub, which thereupon exploded. Drake at once
weighed anchor, intending to run them down while they were in confusion.
He had the wind of them, and would have been able to do this without
difficulty, but they did not wait his coming. They got to their oars in
a hurry, and rowed to their defence in the woods--the fight being at an
end before the frigate could warp to windward into action.

Being weary of these continual fruitless tussles, "and because our
victuals grew scant," Drake sailed from the port the following morning,
in slightly better weather, hoping to get fresh provisions at the Rio
Grande, where he had met with such abundance a few days before. The wind
was still fresh from the west, so that he could not rejoin his ship nor
reach one of his magazines. He took two days in sailing to the
Magdalena, but when he arrived there he found the country stripped. "We
found bare nothing, not so much as any people left," for the Spaniards
had ordered everyone to retire to the hills, driving their cattle with
them, "that we might not be relieved by them." The outlook was now
serious, for there was very little food left, and that of most
indifferent quality, much of it being spoiled by the rains and the salt
water. On the day of their landfall they rowed hard for several hours to
capture a frigate, but she was as bare of food as they. "She had neither
meat nor money," and so "our great hope" was "converted into grief."
Sailors get used to living upon short allowance. The men tightened their
belts to stay their hunger, and splashed salt water on their chests to
allay their thirst. They ran for Santa Martha, a little city to the
east, where they hoped "to find some shipping in the road, or limpets on
the rocks, or succour against the storm in that good harbour." They
found no shipping there, however, and little succour against the storm.
They anchored "under the western point, where is high land," but they
could not venture in, for the town was strongly fortified (later
raiders were less squeamish). The Spaniards had seen them come to
moorings, and managed to send some thirty or forty musketeers among the
rocks, within gunshot of them. These kept up a continual musket fire,
which did bodily hurt to none, but proved a sad annoyance to sailors who
were wearied and out of victuals. They found it impossible to reply to
the musketry, for the rocks hid the musketeers from view. There was
nothing for it but to "up kedge and cut," in the hope of finding some
less troublous berth. As they worked across the Santa Martha bay the
culverins in the city batteries opened fire. One shot "made a near
escape," for it fell between the pinnaces as they lay together in
"conference of what was best to be done."

The company were inclined to bring the cruise to an end, and begged that
they might "put themselves a land, some place to the Eastward, to get
victuals." They thought it would be better to trust to the courtesy of
the country people than to keep the seas as they were, in the cold and
heavy weather, with a couple of leaky, open boats. Drake disliked this
advice, and recommended that they should run on for Rio de la Hacha, or
even as far as Curaçoa, where they would be likely to meet with victual
ships indifferently defended. The men aboard John Oxenham's pinnace
answered that they would willingly follow him throughout the world, but
they did not see, they said, how the pinnaces could stand such weather
as they had had. Nor did they see how they were going to live with such
little food aboard, for they had "only one gammon of bacon and thirty
pounds of biscuit for eighteen men"--a bare two days' half allowance.
Drake replied that they were better off than he was, "who had but one
gammon of bacon and forty pounds of biscuit for his twenty-four men; and
therefore [he went on] he doubted not but they would take such part as
he did, and willingly depend upon God's Almighty providence, which never
faileth them that trust in Him." He did not wait for any further talk,
but hoisted his fore-sail and put his helm up for Curaçoa, knowing that
the other pinnace would not refuse to follow him. With "sorrowful hearts
in respect of the weak pinnace, yet desirous to follow their captain,"
the weary crew stood after him on the same course. They had not gone
more than three leagues when, lo!--balm in Gilead--"a sail plying to the
westward" under her foresail and main-sail. There was "great joy" in
that hunger-bitten company, who promptly "vowed together, that we would
have her, or else it should cost us dear." Coming up with her they found
her to be a Spanish ship of more than ninety tons. Drake "waved amain"
to her, the usual summons to surrender; but she "despised our summons,"
and at once opened fire on them, but without success, for the sea was
running very high. The sea was too high for them to board her, so they
set small storm-sails, and stood in chase, intending to "keep her
company to her small content till fairer weather might lay the sea."
They followed her for two hours, when "it pleased God" to send a great
shower, which, of course, beat down the sea into "a reasonable calm," so
that they could pepper her with their guns "and approach her at
pleasure." She made but a slight resistance after that, and "in short
time we had taken her; finding her laden with victuals well powdered
[salted] and dried: which at that present we received as sent us of
God's great mercy."


After a stormy night at sea, Drake sent Ellis Hixom, "who had then
charge of his pinnace, to search out some harbour along the coast."
Hixom soon discovered a little bay, where there was good holding ground,
with sufficient depth of water to float the prize. They entered the new
port, and dropped their anchors there, promising the Spaniards their
clothes, as well as their liberty, if they would but bring them to a
clear spring of water and a supply of fresh meat. The Spaniards, who
knew the coast very well, soon brought them to an Indian village, where
the natives "were clothed and governed by a Spaniard." They stayed there
all the day, cutting wood for their fire, filling water casks, and
storing the purchased meat. The Indians helped them with all their
might, for Drake, following his custom, gave them "content and
satisfaction" for the work they did for him. Towards night Drake called
his men aboard, leaving the Spanish prisoners ashore, according to his
promise, "to their great content." The wood, water casks, and sides of
meat were duly stored, the anchors were brought to the bows, and the
adventurers put to sea again towards the secret harbour. That day one of
their men died from "a sickness which had begun to kindle among us, two
or three days before." What the cause of this malady was "we knew not of
certainty," but "we imputed it to the cold which our men had taken,
lying without succour in the pinnaces." It may have been pleurisy, or
pneumonia, or some low fever. The dead man was Charles Glub, "one of our
Quarter Masters, a very tall man, and a right good mariner, taken away
to the great grief of Captain and company"--a sufficiently beautiful
epitaph for any man. "But howsoever it was," runs the touching account,
"thus it pleased God to visit us, and yet in favour to restore unto
health all the rest of our company that were touched with this disease,
which were not a few."

The 15th of November broke bright and fine, though the wind still blew
from the west. Drake ordered the _Minion_, the smaller of his two
pinnaces, to part company, "to hasten away before him towards his ships
at Port Diego ... to carry news of his coming, and to put all things in
a readiness for our land journey if they heard anything of the Fleet's
arrival." If they wanted wine, he said, they had better put in at San
Barnardo, and empty some of the caches in the sand there, where they had
buried many bottles. Seven days later Drake put in at San Barnardo for
the same commodity, "finding but twelve _botijos_ of wine of all the
store we left, which had escaped the curious search of the enemy who had
been there, for they were deep in the ground." Perhaps the crew of the
_Minion_ were the guilty ones. About the 27th of November the Captain's
party arrived at Port Diego, where they found all things in good order,
"but received very heavy news of the death of John Drake, our Captain's
brother, and another young man called Richard Allen, which were both
slain at one time [on the 9th October, the day Drake left the isle of
shell-fish] as they attempted the boarding of a frigate." Drake had been
deeply attached to this brother, whom he looked upon as a "young man of
great hope." His death was a sore blow to him, all the more because it
happened in his absence, when he could neither warn him of the risks he
ran nor comfort him as he lay a-dying.

He had been in the pinnace, it seems, with a cargo of planks from the
Spanish wreck, carrying the timber for the platform of the battery. It
was a bright, sunny morning, and the men were rowing lazily towards the
fort, "when they saw this frigate at sea." The men were in merry heart,
and eager for a game at handystrokes. They were "very importunate on
him, to give chase and set upon this frigate, which they deemed had been
a fit booty for them." He told them that they "wanted weapons to
assail"; that, for all they knew, the frigate might be full of men and
guns; and that their boat was cumbered up with planks, required for his
brother's service. These answers were not enough for them, and "still
they urged him with words and supposals." "If you will needs," said
he;--"Adventure. It shall never be said that I will be hindmost,
neither shall you report to my brother that you lost your voyage by any
cowardice you found in me." The men armed themselves as they could with
stretchers from the boat, or anything that came to hand. They hove the
planks overboard to make a clear fighting space, and "took them such
poor weapons as they had: viz., a broken pointed rapier, one old visgee,
and a rusty caliver. John Drake took the rapier and made a gauntlet of
his pillow, Richard Allen the visgee, both standing at the head of the
pinnace called Eion. Robert took the caliver, and so boarded." It was a
gallant, mad attempt, but utterly hopeless from the first. The frigate
was "armed round about with a close fight of hides," and "full of pikes
and calivers, which were discharged in their faces, and deadly wounded
those that were in the fore ship, John Drake in the belly, and Richard
Allen in the head." Though they were both sorely hurt, they shoved the
pinnace clear with their oars, and so left the frigate, and hurried home
to their ship, where "within an hour after" this young man of great hope
ended his days, "greatly lamented of all the company." He was buried in
that place, with Richard Allen his shipmate, among the brilliant shrubs,
over which the parrots chatter.

For the next four or five weeks the company remained at Fort Diego with
the Maroons, their allies. They fared sumptuously every day on the food
stored within the magazine; while "daily out of the woods" they took
wild hogs, the "very good sort of a beast called warre," that Dampier
ate, besides great store of turkeys, pheasants, and numberless guanas,
"which make very good Broath." The men were in good health, and well
contented; but a day or two after the New Year (January 1573) "half a
score of our company fell down sick together, and the most of them died
within two or three days." They did not know what the sickness was, nor
do they leave us much information to enable us to diagnose it. They
called it a calenture, or fever, and attributed it to "the sudden change
from cold to heat, or by reason of brackish water which had been taken
in by our pinnace, through the sloth of their men in the mouth of the
river, not rowing further in where the water was good." We cannot wonder
that they died from drinking the water of that sluggish tropical river,
for in the rainy season such water is often poisonous to the fish in the
sea some half-a-mile from the shore. It comes down from the hills thick
with pestilential matter. It sweeps away the rotting leaves and
branches, the dead and drowned animals, from the flooded woods and
savannahs. "And I believe," says Dampier, "it receives a strong Tincture
from the Roots of several Kind of Trees, Herbs, etc., and especially
where there is any stagnancy of the Water, it soon corrupts; and
possibly the Serpents and other poisonous Vermin and Insects may not a
little contribute to its bad qualities." Whatever it was, the disease
raged among the men with great violence--as many as thirty being down
with it at the one time. Among those who died was Joseph Drake, another
brother of the Captain, "who died in our Captain's arms." The many
deaths caused something like a panic among the men, and Drake, in his
distress, determined to hold a post-mortem upon his brother's corpse
"that the cause [of the disease] might be the better discerned, and
consequently remedied." The operation was performed by the surgeon, "who
found his liver swollen, his heart as it were sodden, and his guts all
fair." The corpse of one dead from yellow-fever displays very similar
symptoms; and the muddy foreshore on which they were camped would,
doubtless, swarm with the yellow-fever mosquito. The sick seem to have
recovered swiftly--a trait observable in yellow-fever patients. This,
says the narrative, "was the first and last experiment that our Captain
made of anatomy in this voyage." The surgeon who made this examination
"over-lived him not past four days"--a fact which very possibly saved
the lives of half the company. He had had the sickness at its first
beginning among them, but had recovered. He died, we are told, "of an
overbold practice which he would needs make upon himself, by receiving
an over-strong purgation of his own device, after which taken he never
spake; nor his Boy recovered the health which he lost by tasting it,
till he saw England." He seems to have taken the draught directly after
the operation, as a remedy against infection from the corpse. The boy,
who, perhaps, acted as assistant at the operation, may have thought it
necessary to drink his master's heeltaps by way of safeguard.

While the company lay thus fever-stricken at the fort, the Maroons had
been wandering abroad among the forest, ranging the country up and down
"between Nombre de Dios and us, to learn what they might for us." During
the last few days of January 1573 they came in with the news that the
plate fleet "had certainly arrived in Nombre de Dios." On the 30th of
January, therefore, Drake ordered the _Lion_, one of the three pinnaces,
to proceed "to the seamost islands of the Cativaas," a few miles from
the fort, to "descry the truth of the report" by observing whether many
frigates were going towards Nombre de Dios from the east, as with
provisions for the fleet. The _Lion_ remained at sea for a few days,
when she captured a frigate laden with "maize, hens, and pompions from
Tolu." She had the Scrivano of Tolu aboard her, with eleven men and one
woman. From these they learned that the fleet was certainly at Nombre de
Dios, as the Indians had informed them. The prisoners were "used very
courteously," and "diligently guarded from the deadly hatred of the
Cimmeroons," who used every means in their power to obtain them from
the English, so that "they might cut their throats to revenge their
wrongs and injuries." Drake warned his allies not to touch them "or give
them ill countenance"; but, feeling a little doubtful of their safety,
he placed them aboard the Spanish prize, in charge of Ellis Hixom, and
had the ship hauled ashore to the island, "which we termed Slaughter
Island (because so many of our men died there)." He was about to start
upon "his journey for Panama by land," and he could not follow his usual
custom of letting his prisoners go free.



    The Maroons--The native city--The great tree--Panama--The silver
    train--The failure--Venta Cruz

When the Spanish prize had been warped to her berth at Slaughter Island,
Drake called his men together, with the chiefs of the Maroons, to a
solemn council of war about the fire. He then discussed with them, with
his usual care, the equipment necessary for an undertaking of the kind
in hand. He was going to cross the isthmus with them, those "20 leagues
of death and misery," in order to surprise one of the recuas, or
treasure trains, as it wandered north upon the road from Panama to
Nombre de Dios. It was, as he says, "a great and long journey," through
jungles, across swamps, and up precipitous crags. Any error in equipment
would be paid for in blood. It was essential, therefore, that they
should strictly debate "what kind of weapons, what store of victuals,
and what manner of apparel" would be fittest for them. The Maroons
"especially advised" him "to carry as great store of shoes as possibly
he might, by reason of so many rivers with stone and gravel as they were
to pass." This advice was followed by all hands, who provided themselves
with a good store of boots and spare leather, thereby saving themselves
from much annoyance from jiguas, or jiggers, and the venomous leeches of
the swamps. The sickness had destroyed twenty-eight of the company.
Three had died of wounds or in battle, and one had died from cold and
exposure in the pinnace. Of the remaining forty-two Drake selected
eighteen of the best. A number were still ill abed, and these he left
behind in the care of Ellis Hixom and his little band of shipkeepers.
The dried meat and biscuit were then packed carefully into bundles. The
eighteen took their weapons, with such necessaries as they thought they
might require. Drake called Hixom aside, and gave him "straight charge,
in any case not to trust any messenger that should come in his name with
any tokens, unless he brought his handwriting: which he knew could not
be counterfeited by the Cimaroons or Spaniards." A last farewell was
taken; thirty brawny Cimmeroons swung the packs upon their shoulders,
shaking their javelins in salute. The shipkeepers sounded "A loath to
depart," and dipped their colours. The forty-eight adventurers then
formed into order, and marched away into the forest on their perilous

Having such stalwart carriers, the English were able to march light,
"not troubled with anything but our furniture." The Maroons carried
"every one of them two sorts of arrows" in addition to the packs of
victuals, for they had promised to provide fresh food upon the march for
all the company. "Every day we were marching by sun-rising," says the
narrative, taking the cool of the morning before the sun was hot. At
"ten in the forenoon" a halt was called for dinner, which they ate in
quiet "ever near some river." This halt lasted until after twelve. Then
they marched again till four, at which time they sought out a river-bank
for their camping ground. Often they slept in old huts built by the
Indians "when they travelled through these woods," but more frequently
the Maroons built them new ones, having a strange skill in that craft.
Then they would light little fires of wood inside the huts, giving a
clear red glow, with just sufficient smoke to keep away mosquitoes. They
would sup pleasantly together there, snugly sheltered from the rain if
any fell; warm if it were cold, as on the hills; and cool if it were
hot, as in the jungle. When the Indians had lit their little "light
Wood" candles these huts must have been delightful places, full of jolly
talk and merry music. Outside, by the river-brink, the frogs would
croak; and, perhaps, the adventurers heard "the shriekings of Snakes and
other Insects," such as scared Lionel Wafer there about a century later.
Those who ventured out into the night were perplexed by the innumerable
multitude of fireflies that spangled the darkness with their golden
sparks. In the mornings the brilliant blue and green macaws aroused them
with their guttural cries "like Men who speak much in the Throat." The
chicaly bird began his musical quick cuckoo cry, the corrosou tolled out
his bell notes, the "waggish kinds of Monkeys" screamed and chattered in
the branches, playing "a thousand antick Tricks." Then the sun came up
in his splendour above the living wall of greenery, and the men buckled
on their gear, and fell in for the road.

As they marched, they sometimes met with droves of peccary or warree.
Then six Maroons would lay their burdens down, and make a slaughter of
them, bringing away as much of the dainty wild pork as they could carry.
Always they had an abundance of fresh fruit, such as "Mammeas" ("very
wholesome and delicious"), "Guavas, Palmitos, Pinos, Oranges, Lemons and
divers others." Then there were others which were eaten "first dry
roasted," as "Plantains, Potatoes, and such like," besides bananas and
the delicious sapadilloes. On one occasion "the Cimaroons found an
otter, and prepared it to be drest: our Captain marvelling at it. Pedro,
our chief Cimaroon, asked him, "Are you a man of war, and in want; and
yet doubt whether this be meat, that hath blood? Herewithal [we read]
our Captain rebuked himself secretly, that he had so slightly
considered of it before."

After three days' wandering in the woods the Maroons brought them to a
trim little Maroon town, which was built on the side of a hill by a
pretty river. It was surrounded by "a dyke of eight feet broad, and a
thick mud wall of ten feet high, sufficient to stop a sudden surpriser.
It had one long and broad street, lying east and west, and two other
cross streets of less breadth and length," containing in all some "five
or six and fifty households." It was "kept so clean and sweet, that not
only the houses, but the very streets were pleasant to behold"--a thing,
doubtless, marvellous to one accustomed to an Elizabethan English town.
"In this town we saw they lived very civilly and cleanly," for, as soon
as the company marched in, the thirty carriers "washed themselves in the
river and changed their apparel," which was "very fine and fitly made,"
after the Spanish cut. The clothes, by all accounts, were only worn on
state occasions. They were long cotton gowns, either white or rusty
black, "shap'd like our Carter's Frocks."

The town was thirty-five leagues from Nombre de Dios and forty-five from
Panama. It had been surprised the year before Drake came there (1572) by
150 Spanish troops under "a gallant gentleman," who had been guided
thither by a recreant Maroon. He attacked a little before the dawn, and
cut down many women and children, but failed to prevent the escape of
nearly all the men. In a little while they rallied, and attacked the
Spaniards with great fury, killing their guide and four-fifths of their
company. The wretched remnant straggled back as best they could "to
return answer to them which sent them." The natives living there at the
time of Drake's visit kept a continual watch some three miles from the
town, to prevent a second surprise. Any Spaniards whom they met they
"killed like beasts."

The adventurers passed a night in the town, and stayed until noon of the
day following. The Maroons told them stories of their battles with the
Spaniards, while Drake inquired into "their affection in religion." He
learned that they had no kind of priests; "only they held the Cross in
great reputation"--having, perhaps, learned so much of Christianity from
the Spaniards. Drake seems to have done a little earnest missionary
work, for he persuaded them "to leave their crosses, and to learn the
Lord's Prayer, and to be instructed in some measure concerning God's
true worship." After dinner on the 7th of February the company took to
the roads again, refusing to take any of the countless recruits who
offered their services. Four Maroons went on ahead to mark a trail by
breaking branches or flinging a bunch of leaves upon the ground. After
these four, marched twelve more Maroons as a sort of vanguard. Then came
Drake with his men and the two Maroon chiefs. Another troop of twelve
Maroons brought up the rear. The Maroons marched in strict silence,
"which they also required us to keep," for it is the custom among nearly
all savage folk to remain silent on the trail.

The way now led them through parts less swampy, and, therefore, less
densely tangled over than those nearer the "North Sea." "All the way was
through woods very cool and pleasant," says the narrative, "by reason of
those goodly and high trees, that grow there so thick." They were
mounting by slow degrees to the "ridge between the two seas," and the
woodland was getting clear of undergrowth. As later buccaneers have
noted, the upper land of the isthmus is wooded with vast trees, whose
branches shut out the sun. Beneath these trees a man may walk with
pleasure, or indeed ride, for there is hardly any undergrowth. The
branches are so thick together that the lower ground receives no
sunlight, and, therefore, little grows there. The heat of the sun is
shut out, and "it is cooler travelling there ... in that hot region,
than it is in ... England in the summer time." As the men began to
ascend, the Maroons told them that not far away there grew a great tree
about midway between the oceans, "from which we might at once discern
the North Sea from whence we came, and the South Sea whither we were
going." On the 11th of February, after four days of slow but steady
climbing, they "came to the height of the desired hill, a very high
hill, lying East and West, like a ridge between the two seas." It was
ten o'clock in the forenoon, the hour at which the dinner halt was made.
Pedro, the Maroon chief, now took Drake's hand, and "prayed him to
follow him if he was desirous to see at once the two seas which he had
so longed for." Drake followed Pedro to the hilltop, to the "goodly and
great high Tree," of which the Maroons had spoken. He found that they
had hacked out steps upon the bole, "to ascend up near unto the top,"
where they had built a pleasant little hut of branches thatched from the
sun, "wherein ten or twelve men might easily sit." "South and north of
this Tree" the Maroons had felled certain trees "that the prospect might
be the clearer." At its base there was a number of strong houses "that
had been built long before," perhaps by an older people than the
Cimmeroons. The tree seems to have been a place of much resort among
that people, as it lay in their paths across the isthmus, and towards
the west.

Drake climbed the tree with Pedro to the little sunny bower at the top.
A fresh breeze which was blowing, had blown away the mists and the heat
haze, so that the whole isthmus lay exposed before him, in the golden
sunlight. There to the north, like a bright blue jewel, was "the
Atlantic Ocean whence now we came." There to the south, some thirty
miles away, was "that sea of which he had heard such golden reports."
He looked at the wonderful South Sea, and "besought Almighty God of His
goodness, to give him life and leave to sail once in an English ship, in
that sea." The prayer was granted to him, for in five years' time he was
off that very coast with such a spoil as no ship ever took before.
Having glutted his eyes with the sight, Drake called up all his English
followers, and "acquainted John Oxenham especially with this his
petition and purpose, if it would please God to grant him that
happiness." Oxenham answered fervently that "unless our Captain did beat
him from his company, he would follow him, by God's grace." He fulfilled
his vow a few months later, with disaster to himself and his associates.

"Thoroughly satisfied with the sight of the seas," the men descended to
their dinner with excellent appetite. They then pushed on lightly as
before, through continual forest, for another two days. On the 13th of
February, when they had gained the west side of the Cheapo River, the
forest broke away into little knots of trees green and goodly, which
showed like islands in a rolling ocean of green grass. They were come to
the famous savannahs, over which roamed herds of black cattle, swift and
savage. Everywhere about them was the wiry stipa grass, and "a kind of
grass with a stalk as big as a great wheaten reed, which hath a blade
issuing from the top of it, on which though the cattle feed, yet it
groweth every day higher, until the top be too high for an ox to reach."
The inhabitants of the country were wont to burn the grass every year,
but "after it is thus burnt" it "springeth up fresh like green corn"
within three days. "Such," says the narrative, "is the great
fruitfulness of the soil: by reason of the evenness of the day and the
night, and the rich dews which fall every morning." As the raiders
advanced along this glorious grass-land they sometimes caught sight of
Panama. Whenever they topped a rise they could see the city, though
very far away; and at last, "on the last day," they saw the ships riding
in the road, with the blue Pacific trembling away into the sky beyond
them. Now was the woodcock near the gin, and now the raiders had to
watch their steps. There was no cover on those rolling sweeps of grass.
They were within a day's journey of the city. The grass-land (as Drake
gathered from his guides) was a favourite hunting-ground of the city
poulterers, for there, as Drake puts it, "the Dames of Panama are wont
to send forth hunters and fowlers, for taking of sundry dainty fowl,
which the land yieldeth." Such a body of men as theirs might readily be
detected by one of these sportsmen, and one such detection would surely
ruin the attempt. They therefore, crept like snakes "out of all ordinary
way," worming themselves through the grass-clumps till they came to a
little river-bed, in which a trickle of water ran slowly across the
sun-bleached pebbles. They were minded to reach a grove or wood about a
league from Panama. The sun beat upon them fiercely, and it was
necessary for them to travel in the heat of the day. In that open
country the midday heat was intense, but they contrived to gain the
shelter of the wood by three that afternoon. "This last day," says the
narrative, "our Captain did behold and view the most of all that fair
city, discerning the large street which lieth directly from the sea into
the land, South and North."

Having gained the shelter of the wood, Drake chose out a Maroon "that
had served a master in Panama" to venture into the city as a spy. He
dressed the man "in such apparel as the Negroes of Panama do use to
wear," and sent him off to the town an hour before night, "so that by
the closing in of the evening he might be in the city." He gave the man
strict charge to find out "the certain night, and the time of the night,
when the carriers laded the Treasure from the King's Treasure House to
Nombre de Dios." The first stage of the journey (from Panama to Venta
Cruz) was always undertaken in the cool of the night, "because the
country is all champion, and consequently by day very hot." From Venta
Cruz to Nombre de Dios "they travel always by day and not by night,
because all that way is full of woods and therefore very cool." Drake's
plan was to waylay one of the treasure trains on the night journey
towards Venta Cruz. The Maroon soon returned to the little wood where
the men were lying. He had entered the town without trouble, and had met
with some old companions, who had told him all he wished to know. A
treasure train was to start that very night, for a great Spanish
gentleman, the treasurer of Lima, "was intending to pass into Spain" in
a swift advice ship which stayed for him at Nombre de Dios. "His
daughter and family" were coming with him, "having fourteen mules in
company, of which eight were laden with gold, and one with jewels."
After this troop, two other recuas, "of fifty mules in each," would take
the road, carrying victuals and wine for the fleet, "with some little
quantity of silver."

As soon as the news had been conveyed to Drake, he marched his men away
from Panama towards Venta Cruz, some four leagues' journey. He halted
them about two leagues to the south of Venta Cruz, in a clump of tall
grass, and then examined a Spanish prisoner whom his scouts had caught.
Two of the Maroons, stealing forward along the line of march, had
scented the acrid smoke of a burning match carried by some arquebusier.
They had crept up "by scent of the said match," and had heard a sound of
snoring coming from the grass by the roadside. A Spanish sentry had
fallen asleep upon his post, "and being but one they fell upon him,
stopped his mouth from crying, put out his match," and bound him so
effectually "that they well near strangled him." He was in the pay of
the King's treasurer, who had hired him, with others, to guard the
treasure train upon its march from Venta Cruz. He had fallen asleep
while waiting for the mules to arrive, as he knew that he would get no
sleep until the company he marched with was safe in Nombre de Dios. He
was in terror of his life, for he believed that he had fallen into the
hands of the Maroons, from whom he might expect no mercy. When he
learned that he was a prisoner to Francis Drake he plucked up courage,
"and was bold to make two requests unto him." First, he asked that Drake
would order the Maroons to spare his life, for he knew that they "hated
the Spaniards, especially the soldiers, extremely," but a word from such
a Captain would be enough to save him. The second request was also
personal. He assured them, upon the faith of a soldier, that "they
should have that night more gold, besides jewels, and pearls of great
price, than all they could carry"; if not, he swore, let them deal with
him as they would. But, he added, if the raiders are successful, "then
it might please our Captain to give unto him, as much as might suffice
for him and his mistress to live upon, as he had heard our Captain had
done to divers others"--promising, in such a case, to make his name as
famous as any of them which had received the like favour.

Being now "at the place appointed" Drake divided his men into two
companies. With eight Englishmen and fifteen Cimmeroons he marched to
some long grass about fifty paces from the road. He sent John Oxenham,
with Pedro and the other company of men, to the other side of the road,
at the same distance from it, but a little farther to the south, in
order that, "as occasion served, the former company might take the
foremost mules by the heads," while Oxenham's party did that service for
those which followed. The arrangement also provided "that if we should
have need to use our weapons that night, we might be sure not to
endamage our fellows." Having reached their stations, the men lay down
to wait, keeping as quiet as they could. In about an hour's time they
heard the clanging of many mule bells, making a loud music, in the
direction of Venta Cruz. Mules were returning from that town to Panama;
for with the fleet at Nombre de Dios there was much business between the
two seaports, and the mule trains were going and coming several times a
day. As they listened, they heard more mule bells ringing far away on
the road from Panama. The treasurer with his company was coming.

Now, Drake had given strict orders that no man should show himself, or
as much as budge from his station, "but let all that came from Venta
Cruz [which was nothing but merchandise] to pass quietly." Yet one of
the men, probably one of Oxenham's men, of the name of Robert Pike, now
disobeyed those orders. "Having drunken too much aqua-vitæ without
water," he forgot himself. He rose from his place in the grass,
"enticing a Cimaroon with him," and crept up close to the road, "with
intent to have shown his forwardness on the foremost mules." Almost
immediately a cavalier came trotting past from Venta Cruz upon a fine
horse, with a little page running at the stirrup. As he trotted by,
Robert Pike "rose up to see what he was." The Cimmeroon promptly pulled
him down, and sat upon him; but his promptness came too late to save the
situation. All the English had put their shirts over their other
apparel, "that we might be sure to know our own men in the pell mell in
the night." The Spanish cavalier had glanced in Robert Pike's direction,
and had seen a figure rising from the grass "half all in white" and very
conspicuous. He had heard of Drake's being on the coast, and at once
came to the conclusion that that arch-pirate had found his way through
the woods to reward himself for his disappointment at Nombre de Dios.
He was evidently a man of great presence of mind. He put spurs to his
horse, and galloped off down the road, partly to escape the danger, but
partly also to warn the treasure train, the bells of which were now
clanging loudly at a little distance from the ambuscade.

Drake heard the trotting horse's hoofs clatter out into a furious
gallop. He suspected that he had been discovered, "but could not imagine
by whose fault, neither did the time give him the leasure to search." It
was a still night, and he had heard no noise, yet something had startled
the cavalier. Earnestly hoping that the rider had been alarmed by the
silence of the night and the well-known danger of the road, he lay down
among the grass again to wait for the mules to come. The bells clanged
nearer and nearer, till at last the mules were trotting past the ambush.
The captains blew their whistles to the attack. The raiders rose from
the grass-clumps with a cheer. There was a rush across the narrow
trackway at the drivers, the mules were seized, and in a moment, two
full recuas were in the raiders' hands.

So far all had gone merrily. The sailors turned to loot the mule packs,
congratulating themselves upon their glorious good fortune. It must have
been a strange scene to witness--the mules scared and savage, the jolly
seamen laughing as they pulled the packs away, the Maroons grinning and
chattering, and the harness and the bells jingling out a music to the
night. As the packs were ripped open a mutter of disappointment began to
sound among the ranks of the spoilers. Pack after pack was found to
consist of merchandise--vicuna wool, or dried provender for the
galleons. The amount of silver found amounted to a bare two horse loads.
Gold there was none. The jewels of the King's treasurer were not to be
discovered. The angry sailors turned upon the muleteers for an
explanation. The chief muleteer, "a very sensible fellow," was taken to
Drake, who soon learned from him the reason why the catch was so poor.
The cavalier who had noticed Robert Pike was the saviour of the
treasure. As soon as the figure half all in white had risen ghost-like
by the road, he had galloped to the treasure mules to report what he had
seen to the treasurer. The thing he had seen was vague, but it was yet
too unusual to pass unnoticed. Drake, he said, was a person of devilish
resource, and it was highly probable, he thought, that the pirates had
come "in covert through the woods" to recoup themselves for their former
disappointments. A white shirt was the usual uniform for men engaged in
night attacks. No Maroon would wear such a thing in that locality, and,
therefore, it would be well to let the food train pass ahead of the
treasure. The loss of the food train would be a little matter, while it
would surely show them whether an ambush lay in wait or not. The
treasurer had accordingly drawn his company aside to allow the food
mules to get ahead of him. As soon as the noise upon the road advised
him that the enemy had made their spring, he withdrew quietly towards
Panama. "Thus," says the narrative, "we were disappointed of a most rich
booty: which is to be though God would not should be taken, for that, by
all likelihood, it was well gotten by that Treasurer."

We are not told what happened to Robert Pike, but it is probable that he
had a bad five minutes when the muleteer's story reached the sailors. It
was bad enough to have marched all day under a broiling sun, and to lose
a royal fortune at the end; but that was not all, nor nearly all: they
were now discovered to the enemy, who lay in considerable force in their
front and rear. They were wearied out with marching, yet they knew very
well that unless they "shifted for themselves betimes" all the
Spaniards of Panama would be upon them. They had a bare two or three
hours' grace in which to secure themselves. They had marched four
leagues that night, and by marching back those same four leagues they
might win to cover by the morning. If they marched forward they might
gain the forest in two leagues; but Venta Cruz lay in the road, and
Venta Cruz was guarded day and night by a company of Spanish troops. To
reach the forest by the latter road they would have to make a way with
their swords, but with men so tired and out of heart it seemed the
likelier route of the two. It was better, Drake thought, "to encounter
his enemies while he had strength remaining, than to be encountered or
chased when they should be worn out with weariness." He bade all hands
to eat and drink from the provisions found upon the mules, and while
they took their supper he told them what he had resolved to do. He
called upon Pedro, the Maroon, by name, asking "whether he would give
his hand not to forsake him." Pedro swore that he would rather die at
his feet than desert him in such a pass--a vow which assured Drake of
the loyalty of his allies. As soon as supper was over, he bade the men
mount upon the mules, so that they might not weary themselves with
marching. An hour's trot brought them to the woods within a mile of
Venta Cruz, where they dismounted, and went afoot, after bidding the
muleteers not to follow if they cared for whole skins. The road was here
some ten or twelve feet broad, "so as two Recuas may pass one by
another." It was paved with cobbles, which had been beaten into the mud
by Indian slaves. On either side of it was the dense tropical forest,
"as thick as our thickest hedges in England that are oftenest cut."
Among the tangle, about half-a-mile from the town, the Spaniards had
taken up a strong position. The town guard of musketeers had been
reinforced by a number of friars from a religious house. They lay
there, hidden in the jungle, blowing their matches to keep them burning
clearly. Two Maroons, whom Drake had sent forward as scouts, crept back
to him with the news that the enemy were there in force, for they had
smelt the reek of the smouldering matches and heard the hushed noise of
many men moving in the scrub. Drake gave orders that no man should fire
till the Spaniards had given them a volley, for he thought they would
first parley with him, "as indeed fell out." Soon afterwards, as the men
neared the Spanish ambush, a Spanish captain rose from the road, and
"cried out, Hoo!" Drake answered with, "Hallo!"--the sailor's reply to a
hail. The Spaniard then put the query "Que gente?" to which Drake
answered "Englishmen." The Spaniard, "in the name of the King of Spain
his master," then charged him to surrender, passing his word as a
gentleman soldier that the whole company should be treated courteously.
Drake made a few quick steps towards the Spaniard, crying out that "for
the honour of the Queen of England, his mistress, he must have passage
that way." As he advanced, he fired his pistol towards him, in order to
draw the Spanish fire. Immediately the thicket burst out into flame; for
the ambush took the shot for a signal, and fired off their whole volley.
Drake received several hail-shot in his body. Many of the men were
wounded, and one man fell sorely hurt. As the volley crackled out its
last few shots, Drake blew his whistle, as a signal to his men to fire.
A volley of shot and arrows was fired into the thicket, and the company
at once advanced, "with intent to come to handy strokes." As they
stormed forward to the thicket, the Spaniards fled towards a position of
greater strength. Drake called upon his men to double forward to prevent
them. The Maroons at once rushed to the front, "with their arrows ready
in their bows, and their manner of country dance or leap, singing Yó
péhó! Yó péhó, and so got before us where they continued their leap and
song after the manner of their own country wars." The Spaniards heard
the war-cry ringing out behind them, and fell back rapidly upon the
town. Near the town's end a party of them rallied, forming a sort of
rearguard to cover the retreat. As they took up a position in the woods,
the Maroons charged them upon both flanks, while the English rushed
their centre. There was a mad moment of fighting in the scrub. A Maroon
went down with a pike through the body; but he contrived to kill the
pikeman before he died. Several Englishmen were hurt. The Spaniards'
loss is not mentioned, but it was probably severe. They broke and fled
before the fury of the attack, and the whole body of fighting men,
"friars and all," were thrust back into the town by the raiders. As they
ran, the raiders pressed them home, shouting and slaying. The gates were
open. The Spanish never had another chance to rally, and the town was
taken with a rush a very few minutes after the captain's challenge in
the wood.


Venta Cruz, the modern Cruces, stood, and still stands, on the west or
left bank of the Chagres River. It marks the highest point to which
boats may penetrate from the North Sea. Right opposite the town the
river broadens out to a considerable width, affording berths for a
number of vessels of slight draught. At the time of Drake's raid it was
a place of much importance. The land route from Panama to Nombre de Dios
was, as we have said, boggy, dangerous, and pestilential. The freight
charges for mule transport across the isthmus were excessive, ranging
from twenty-five to thirty dollars of assayed silver for a mule load of
200 pounds weight--a charge which works out at nearly £70 a ton. Even in
the dry season the roads were bad, and the mule trains were never safe
from the Maroons. Many merchants, therefore, sent their goods to Venta
Cruz in flat-bottomed boats of about fifteen tons. These would sail from
Nombre de Dios to the mouth of the Chagres River, where they struck
sail, and took to their sweeps. The current was not very violent except
in the upper reaches, and the boats were generally able to gain Venta
Cruz in a few days--in about three days in dry weather and about twelve
in the rains. A towing-path was advocated at one time; but it does not
seem to have been laid, though the river-banks are in many places flat
and sandy, and free from the dense undergrowth of the tropics. As soon
as the boats arrived at Venta Cruz they were dragged alongside the jetty
on the river-bank, and their cargoes were transferred to some strong
stone warehouses. In due course the goods were packed on mules, and
driven away down the road to Panama, a distance of some fifteen or
eighteen miles, which the mules would cover in about eight hours. The
town at the time of Drake's raid contained about forty or fifty houses,
some of them handsome stone structures decorated with carven work. The
river-bank was covered with a great many warehouses, and there were
several official buildings, handsome enough, for the Governor and the
King's officers. There was a monastery full of friars, "where we found
above a thousand bulls and pardons, newly sent from Rome." Perhaps there
was also some sort of a barrack for the troops. The only church was the
great church of the monastery. The town was not fortified, but the
houses made a sort of hedge around it; and there were but two
entrances--the one from the forest, by which Drake's party entered; the
other leading over a pontoon bridge towards the hilly woods beyond the
Chagres. Attached to the monastery, and tended by the monks and their
servants, was a sort of sanatorium and lying-in hospital. Nombre de Dios
was so unhealthy, so full of malaria and yellow fever, "that no Spaniard
or white woman" could ever be delivered there without the loss of the
child on the second or third day. It was the custom of the matrons of
Nombre de Dios to proceed to Venta Cruz or to Panama to give birth to
their children. The babes were left in the place where they were born,
in the care of the friars, until they were five or six years old. They
were then brought to Nombre de Dios, where "if they escaped sickness the
first or second month, they commonly lived in it as healthily as in any
other place." Life in Venta Cruz must have been far from pleasant. The
Maroons were a continual menace, but the town was too well guarded, and
too close to Panama, for them to put the place in serious danger. The
inhabitants had to keep within the township; for the forest lay just
beyond the houses, and lonely wanderers were certain to be stabbed by
lurking Maroons or carried off by jaguars. In the season the mule trains
were continually coming and going, either along the swampy track to
Nombre de Dios or from Nombre de Dios to Panama. Boats came sleepily up
the Chagres to drop their anchors by the jetty, with news from the Old
World and the commodities which the New World did not yield. It must,
then, have been one of the most eventful places in the uncomfortable
isthmus; but no place can be very pleasant which has an annual rainfall
of 120 inches and a mean annual temperature of about 80°. The country
adjacent is indescribably beautiful; the river is clear and brilliant;
the woods are gorgeous with many-coloured blossoms, and with birds and
butterflies that gleam in green and blue among the leaves. During the
rains the river sometimes rises forty feet in a night, and sweeps into
the town with masses of rotting verdure from the hills. There is always
fever in the place, but in the rainy season it is more virulent than in
the dry. At present the town has few white inhabitants. The fair stone
houses which Drake saw are long since gone, having been destroyed in one
of the buccaneering raids a century later. The modern town is a mere
collection of dirty huts, inhabited by negroes, half-breeds, and



    The treasure train--The spoil--Captain Tetû hurt

As soon as the town was in his hands, Drake set guards on the bridge
across the Chagres and at the gate by which he had entered the town. He
gave orders to the Maroons that they were not to molest women or unarmed
men. He gave them free permission to take what they would from the
stores and houses, and then went in person to comfort some gentlewomen
"which had lately been delivered of children there." They were in terror
of their lives, for they had heard the shouts and firing, and had
thought that the Maroons were coming. They refused to listen to the
various comforters whom Drake had sent to them, and "never ceased most
earnestly entreating" that Drake himself would come to them. Drake
succeeded in reassuring them that nothing "to the worth of a garter"
would be taken from them. They then dried their tears, and were

The raiders stayed in the town about an hour and a half, during which
time they succeeded in getting together a little comfortable dew of
heaven--not gold, indeed, nor silver, but yet "good pillage." Drake
allowed them this latitude so that they might not be cast down by the
disappointment of the night. He gave orders, however, that no heavy loot
should be carried from the town, because they had yet many miles to go,
and were still in danger of attack. While the men were getting their
spoils together, ready for marching, and eating a hasty breakfast in
the early morning light, a sudden fusillade began at the Panama gate.
Some ten or twelve cavaliers had galloped in from Panama, supposing that
the pirates had left the town. They had come on confidently, right up to
the muzzles of the sentries' muskets. They had then been met with a
shattering volley, which killed and wounded half their number and sent
the others scattering to the woods. Fearing that they were but a
scouting party, and that a troop of horse might be following to support
them, Drake gave the word to fall in for the road. The spoil, such as it
was, was shouldered; Drake blew a blast upon his whistle; the men formed
up into their accustomed marching order, and tramped away from Venta
Cruz, across the Chagres bridge, just as the dawn set the parrots
screeching and woke the monkeys to their morning song. They seem to have
expected no pursuit; but Drake was not a man to run unnecessary risks.
His men, including the Maroons, were "grown very valiant," yet they were
granted no further chance to show their valour. Drake told them that
they had now been "well near a fortnight" from the ship, with her
company of sick and sorry sailors. He was anxious to rejoin her without
delay, so the word was given to force the marching. He refused to visit
the Indian villages, though the Maroons begged him earnestly to do so.
His one wish was to rejoin Ellis Hixom. He "hustled" his little company
without mercy, encouraging them "with such example and speech that the
way seemed much shorter." He himself, we are told, "marched most
cheerfully," telling his comrades of the golden spoils they would win
before they sailed again for England. There was little ease on that
march to the coast, for Drake would allow no one to leave the ranks.
When provisions ran out they had to march on empty stomachs. There was
no hunting of the peccary or the deer, as on the jolly progress
westward. "We marched many days with hungry stomachs," says the
narrative, and such was the hurry of the march that many of the men
"fainted with sickness of weariness." Their clothes were hanging on
their backs in shreds and tatters. Their boots had long since cracked
and rotted. Many of them were marching with their feet wrapped up in
rags. Many of them were so footsore they could scarcely put their feet
upon the ground. Swaying, limping, utterly road-weary, they came
tottering into a little village which the Maroons had built as a
rest-house for them, about three leagues from the ship. They were quite
exhausted. Their feet were bloody and swollen. The last stages had been
marched with great bodily suffering, "all our men complaining of the
tenderness of their feet." Drake complained also, "sometimes without
cause, but sometimes with cause indeed; which made the rest to bear the
burden the more easily." Some of the men were carried in by the Maroons.
Indeed, the Maroons had saved the whole party from collapse, for they
not only built them shelter huts at night, carried the weary, and found,
or made, them a road to travel by, but they also bore the whole burden
of the company's arms and necessaries. Their fellows who had stayed with
Ellis Hixom had built the little town in the woods, for the refreshment
of all hands, in case they should arrive worn out with marching. At
sunset on the evening of Saturday, the 22nd of February, the weary crew
arrived at the little town, to the great joy of the Maroons who kept
watch and ward there. The tired men lay down to rest, while Drake
"despatched a Cimaroon with a token and certain order to the Master."

The day had dawned before this messenger arrived upon the sands near
which the ship was moored. He hailed her, crying out that he came with
news, and immediately a boat pushed off, manned by men "which longed to
hear of our Captain's speeding." As soon as he appeared before Ellis
Hixom, he handed over Drake's golden toothpick, "which he said our
Captain had sent for a token to Ellis Hixom, with charge to meet him at
such a river." The sight of the golden toothpick was too much for Ellis
Hixom. He knew it to be his Captain's property, but coming as it did,
without a sign in writing, it convinced him that "something had befallen
our Captain otherwise than well." The Maroon saw him staring "as
amazed," and told him that it was dark when Drake had packed him off, so
that no letter could be sent, "but yet with the point of his knife, he
wrote something upon the toothpick, 'which,' he said, 'should be
sufficient to gain credit to the messenger.'" Looking closely at the
sliver of gold, Hixom saw a sentence scratched upon it: "By me, Francis
Drake," which convinced him that the message was genuine. He at once
called away one of the pinnaces, storing her with "what provision he
could," and promptly set sail for the mouth of the Tortugos River, a few
miles along the coast, to the west of where he lay, for there Drake
intended to await him.

At about three o'clock that afternoon, Drake marched his men, or all
who were fit to march, out of the forest to the sandy beach at the
river's mouth. Half-an-hour later the tattered ragamuffins saw the
pinnace running in to take them off, "which was unto us all a double
rejoicing: first that we saw them, and next, so soon." The whole
company stood up together on the beach to sing some of the psalms of
thanksgiving--praising God "most heartily, for that we saw our pinnace
and fellows again." To Ellis Hixom and his gang of shipkeepers the
raiders appeared "as men strangely changed," though Drake was less
changed than the others, in spite of the wound he got at Venta Cruz.
The three weeks' march in that abominable country, and the last few
days of "fasting and sore travail," would have been enough to "fore
pine and waste" the very strongest, while "the grief we drew inwardly,
for that we returned without that gold and treasure we hoped for, did
no doubt show her print and footsteps in our faces." The next day the
pinnace rowed "to another river in the bottom of the bay" to pick up
the stragglers who had stayed to rest with the Maroons. The company was
then reunited in the secret haven. Wonderful tales were told of the
journey across the isthmus, of the South Sea, with its lovely city, and
of the rush through the grass in the darkness, when the mule bells came
clanging past, that night near Venta Cruz. The sick men recovering from
their calentures "were thoroughly revived" by these tales. They
importuned Drake to take them with him on the next foray; for Drake
gave out that he meant not to leave off thus, but would once again
attempt the same journey. In the general rejoicing and merry-making it
is possible that Robert Pike remained aloof in the darkness of the
'tween decks, deprived of his allowance of aqua-vitæ.

Drake noted the eager spirit among his men, and determined to give it
vent. He called them together to a consultation, at which they discussed
what was best to be done until the mule trains again set forth from
Panama. There was Veragua, "a rich town lying to the Westward, between
Nombre de Dios and Nicaragua, where is the richest mine of fine gold
that is on this North side." At Veragua also there were little rivers,
in which "oftentimes they find pieces of gold as big as peas." Then, if
Veragua were thought ill of, as too difficult, there were treasure ships
to intercept as they wallowed home for Spain from Nombre de Dios. Or the
men might keep themselves employed in capturing victual frigates for the
stocking of the ship before they attacked another recua. This last
scheme was flouted by many as unnecessary. They had food enough, they
said, and what they lacked the country would supply, but the treasure,
the comfortable dew of heaven, for which they had come so far, was the
main thing, and to get that they were ready to venture on the galleons,
soldiers or no soldiers. At this point the Maroons were called in to
give their opinion. Most of them had served the Spaniards as slaves in
one town or another of the Main. Several of them had worked under the
whip of a wealthy Spaniard in Veragua, a creature of the name of Pezoro,
who was "bad and cruel, not only to his slaves, but unto all men." This
gentleman lived in a strong stone house at a little distance from the
town. He had amassed a vast quantity of treasure, for he owned a gold
mine, which he worked with 100 slaves. He lived with a guard of
soldiers, but the Maroons felt confident that by attacking from the
shore side of the house they could easily break in upon him. His gold
was stored in his house "in certain great chests." If they succeeded in
surprising the house, it would be an easy matter to make a spoil of the
whole. Drake did not care for the scheme, as it involved a long march
through the woods. He hesitated to put his men to so much labour, for he
had now seen something of this woodland marching, and knew how desperate
a toil it was. He thought that they would be better employed in
gathering victuals and looking out for treasure transports. They might
practise both crafts at the same time by separating into two companies.
John Oxenham, in the _Bear_ frigate, could sail "Eastwards towards Tolu,
to see what store of victuals would come athwart his halse." In the
meanwhile he would take the _Minion_ pinnace to the west, to "lie off
and on the Cabezas" in order to intercept any treasure transports coming
from Veragua or Nicaragua to Nombre de Dios. Those of the Maroons who
cared to stay aboard the _Pascha_ were free to do so. The rest were
dismissed "most courteously" with "gifts and favours" of the sorts most
pleasing to them, such as knives, iron, coloured ribbons and cloth.

The companies were picked; the pinnaces received their stores; sails
were bent and set, and the two boats sailed away to their stations. Off
the Cabezas the _Minion_ fell in with a frigate from Nicaragua "in which
was some gold and a Genoese pilot." Drake treated this pilot in his
usual liberal manner till he won him over to his interests. He had been
in Veragua harbour, he said, but eight days before. He knew the channel
perfectly, so that he could carry Drake in, at night if need were, at
any state of the tide. The townsfolk, he said, were in a panic on
account of Drake's presence in those seas; they were in such a state of
terror that they could not decide upon a scheme to defend the town in
case he attacked it. Signor Pezoro was thinking of removing himself to
the South Seas. The harbour lay open to any enemy, for the only guns in
the place were up at the town, about fifteen miles from the haven's
mouth. If Drake made a sudden dash, he said, he would be able to cut out
a frigate in the harbour. She was fitting for the sea there, and was
very nearly ready to sail. She had aboard her "above a million of gold,"
which, with a little promptness and courage, might become the property
of the raiders. On hearing of this golden booty, Drake thought of all
that the Maroons had told him. He was minded to return to the anchorage,
to fetch off some of those who had lived with Senor Pezoro, in order
that he might have a check upon the pilot's statements, and a guide, if
need were, to the city. The Genoese dissuaded him from this scheme,
pointing out that a return to the ship would waste several days, during
which the frigate might get away to sea. Drake, therefore, took the
packets of gold from the Nicaraguan prize, and dismissed her "somewhat
lighter to hasten her journey." He then got his oars out, and made all
haste to the west, under a press of sail, "to get this harbour, and to
enter it by night." He hoped to cut out the treasure ship and to have a
look at the house of Senor Pezoro--two investments which would "make"
the voyage if all went well. But as the boat drew near to the mouth of
the harbour "we heard the report of two Chambers, and farther off, about
a league within the bay, two others as it were answering them." The
Spaniards had espied the boat, and had fired signal guns to warn the
shipping and the town. The report of the guns called the Spaniards to
arms--an exercise they were more ready to since the Governor of Panama
had warned them to expect Drake. "The rich Gnuffe Pezoro," it was
thought, had paid the cost of the sentries. "It was not God's will that
we should enter at that time," says the narrative. The wind shifted
opportunely to the westward; and Drake put his helm up, and ran away to
the east, where he picked up the _Bear_, "according to appointment."
Oxenham had had a very prosperous and pleasant cruise, for off Tolu he
had come across a victual frigate "in which there were ten men [whom
they set ashore], great store of maize, twenty-eight fat hogs, and two
hundred hens." The lading was discharged into the _Pascha_ on the 19th
and 20th of March as a seasonable refreshment to the company. The
frigate pleased Drake, for though she was small (not twenty tons, in
fact) she was strong, new, and of a beautiful model. As soon as her
cargo was out of her, he laid her on her side, and scraped and tallowed
her "to make her a Man of war." He then fitted her with guns from the
_Pascha_, and stored her with provisions for a cruise. The Spaniards
taken in her had spoken of "two little galleys built in Nombre de Dios,
to waft [tow] the Chagres Fleet to and fro." They were "not yet both
launched," and the Chagres fleet lay waiting for them within the mouth
of the Chagres River. Drake "purposed now to adventure for that Fleet."
The day on which he made his plan was Easter Sunday, the 22nd March.
"And to hearten his company" for that bold attempt "he feasted them that
Easter Day with great cheer and cheerfulness" on the dainties taken from
the Spaniards.

The next day, he manned "the new tallowed frigate of Tolu," and sailed
away west (with Oxenham in the _Bear_ in company) "towards the
Cativaas," where they landed to refresh themselves. As they played about
upon the sand, flinging pebbles at the land-crabs, they saw a sail to
the westward coming down towards them. They at once repaired aboard, and
made sail, and "plied towards" the stranger, thinking her to be a
Spaniard. The stranger held on her course as though to run the raiders
aboard, "till he perceived by our confidence that we were no Spaniards,
and conjectured we were those Englishmen of whom he had heard long
before." He bore up suddenly under the lee of the English ships, "and in
token of amity shot off his lee ordnance"--a salute which Drake at once
acknowledged by a similar discharge. As the ships neared each other, the
stranger hailed Drake, saying that he was Captain Tetû, or Le Testu, a
Frenchman of Newhaven (or Havre), in desperate want of water. He had
been looking for Drake, he said, for the past five weeks, "and prayed
our Captain to help him to some water, for that he had nothing but wine
and cider aboard him, which had brought his men into great
sickness"--gastritis or dysentery. Drake at once sent a boat aboard with
a cask or two of drink, and some fresh meat, "willing him to follow us
to the next port, where he should have both water and victuals."

As soon as they had brought their ships to anchor, the French captain
sent Drake "a case of pistols, and a fair gilt scimitar (which had been
the late King's of France) whom Monsieur Montgomery hurt in the eye."
The Frenchman had received it from "Monsieur Strozze," or Strozzi, a
famous general of banditti. Drake accepted the gift in the magnificent
manner peculiar to him, sending the bearer back to Tetû with a chain of
gold supporting a tablet of enamel. Having exchanged gifts, according to
the custom of the sea, Captain Tetû came off to visit Drake. He was a
Huguenot privateer, who had been in France at the time of the Massacre
of St Bartholomew, the murder of Coligny, "and divers others murders."
He had "thought those Frenchmen the happiest which were farthest from
France," and had, therefore, put to sea to escape from persecution. He
was now cruising off the Spanish Main, "a Man of war as we were." He had
heard much of Drake's spoils upon the coast, and "desired to know" how
he too might win a little Spanish gold. His ship was a fine craft of
more than eighty tons, manned by seventy men and boys. He asked Drake to
take him into partnership, so that they might share the next adventure.

The offer was not very welcome to Drake, for the French company was more
than double the strength of the English. Drake had but thirty-one men
left alive, and he regarded Tetû with a good deal of jealousy and a good
deal of distrust. Yet with only thirty-one men he could hardly hope to
succeed in any great adventure. If he joined with the French, he thought
there would be danger of their appropriating most of the booty after
using him and his men as their tools. The English sailors were of the
same opinion; but it was at last decided that Tetû, with twenty picked
hands, should be admitted to partnership, "to serve with our Captain for
halves." It was something of a risk, but by admitting only twenty of the
seventy men the risk was minimised. They were not enough to overpower
Drake in case they wished to make away with all the booty, yet they made
him sufficiently strong to attempt the schemes he had in hand. An
agreement was, therefore, signed; a boat was sent to the secret
anchorage to bring the Cimmeroons; and the three ships then sailed away
to the east, to the magazines of food which Drake had stored some weeks

Here they lay at anchor for five or six days to enable the sick
Frenchmen to get their health and strength after their weeks of misery.
The Huguenot ship was revictualled from the magazines and then taken
with the _Bear_ into the secret haven. The third pinnace, the _Lion_,
had been sunk a few days before, but the other two, the _Eion_ and the
_Minion_, with the new Tolu frigate, were set in order for the next
adventure. Drake chose fifteen of his remaining thirty hands, and sent
them down into the pinnaces with a few Maroons. The twenty Frenchmen
joined him, under their captain, and the expedition then set sail for
Rio Francisco, fifteen miles from Nombre de Dios. As they sailed, the
Maroons gave out that the frigate was too deep a ship to cross the Rio
Francisco bar, which had little water on it at that season of the year.
They, therefore, sailed her back, and left her at the Cabezas, "manned
with English and French, in the charge of Richard Doble," with strict
orders not to venture out until the return of the pinnaces.

Putting her complement into the pinnaces, they again set sail for the
mouth of the Francisco River. They crossed the bar without difficulty,
and rowed their boats upstream. They landed some miles from the sea,
leaving the pinnaces in charge of some Maroons. These had orders to
leave the river, and hide themselves in the Cabezas, and to await the
raiders at the landing-place, without fail, in four days' time.

As soon as Drake had landed, he ordered the company in the formation he
had used on his march to Panama. He enjoined strict silence upon all,
and gave the word to march. They set forward silently, through the
cane-brakes and lush undergrowth, upon the long, seven leagues march to
the town of Nombre de Dios. They marched all day uncomplainingly, so
that at dusk they had crept to within a mile of the trackway, a little
to the south of the town. They were now on some gently rising ground,
with the swamps and Nombre de Dios at their feet. It made a good
camping-ground; and there they passed the night of the 31st of March,
resting and feasting "in great stillness, in a most convenient place."
They were so close to the town that they could hear the church bells
ringing and the clatter of the hammers in the bay, where the carpenters
were at work upon the treasure ships. They were working there busily,
beating in the rivets all night, in the coolness, to fit the ships for
sea. Nearer to them, a little to the west, was the trackway, so that
they could hear the mule trains going past to Panama with a great noise
of ringing bells.

Early on the morning of the 1st of April they heard a great clang of
bells among the woods. The mule trains were coming in from Venta
Cruz--three mule trains according to the Cimmeroons, laden with "more
gold and silver than all of us could bear away." The adventurers took
their weapons, and crept through the scrub to the trackway "to hear the
bells." In a few minutes, when each side of the track had been manned by
the adventurers, the treasure trains trotted up with a great clang and
clatter. There were three complete recuas, "one of 50 mules, the other
two of 70 each, every of which carried 300 lbs. of silver; which in all
amounted to near thirty tons." The trains were guarded by a half company
of Spanish foot, "fifteen to each company." The soldiers marched by the
side of the trains, blowing on their matches to keep the smouldering
ends alight. As the leading mules came up with the head of the ambush
Drake blew a blast upon his whistle. The raiders rose from their
hiding-place, and fired a volley of shot and arrows at the troops. At
the same moment tarry hands were laid upon the heads of the leading
mules, so that "all the rest stayed and lay down as their manner is."
The Spanish soldiers, taken by surprise, were yet a credit to their
colours. They fell into confusion at the first assault, but immediately
rallied. A brisk skirmish began, over the bodies of the mules, with
sharp firing of muskets and arrows. Captain Tetû was hit in the belly
with a charge of hail-shot; a Maroon was shot dead; and then the sailors
cleared the road with a rush, driving the Spanish pell-mell towards the
town. Then with feverish hands they cast adrift the mule packs "to ease
some of the mules, which were heaviest loaden, of their carriage." They
were among such wealth as few men have looked upon at the one time. How
much they took will never now be known, but each man there had as much
pure gold, in bars and quoits, as he could carry. They buried about
fifteen tons of silver "partly in the burrows which the great land-crabs
had made in the earth, and partly under old trees which were fallen
thereabout, and partly in the sand and gravel of a river, "not very deep
of water." Some of it, no doubt, remains there to this day.

In about two hours' time, they were ready to return to their pinnaces.
They formed into order, and hurried away towards the woods, making as
much haste as the weight of plunder would allow. As they gained the
shelter of the forest they heard a troop of horse, with some
arquebusiers, coming hurriedly to the rescue of the mules. They
attempted no pursuit, for no Spaniard cared to enter the forest to
attack a force in which Maroons were serving. The raiders were,
therefore, able to get clear away into the jungle. All that day and the
next day they hurried eastward through the scrub. They made a brief
pause, as they tramped, to lay down Captain Tetû, whose wound prevented
him from marching. He could go no farther, and begged that he might be
left behind in the forest, "in hope that some rest would recover him
better strength." Two French sailors stayed with him to protect him.



    Drake's voyage to the Catives--Homeward bound--The interrupted

When the retreating force had gone about two leagues, they discovered
that a Frenchman was missing from the ranks. He had not been hurt in the
fight; but there was no time to search for him (as a matter of fact, he
had drunk too much wine, and had lost himself in the woods), so again
they pressed on to the pinnaces and safety. On the 3rd of April, utterly
worn out with the hurry of the retreat, they came to the Francisco
River. They were staggering under the weight of all their plunder, and,
to complete their misery, they were wet to the skin with a rain-storm
which had raged all night. To their horror they found no pinnaces
awaiting them, but out at sea, not far from the coast, were seven
Spanish pinnaces which had been beating up the inlets for them. These
were now rowing as though directly from the rendezvous at the Cabezas,
so that the draggled band upon the shore made no doubt that their
pinnaces had been sunk, their friends killed or taken, and the retreat
cut off.

Drake's chief fear, on seeing these Spanish boats, was that "they had
compelled our men by torture to confess where his frigate and ships
were." To the disheartened folk about him it seemed that all hope of
returning home was now gone, for they made no doubt that the ships were
by this time destroyed. Some of them flung down their gold in despair,
while all felt something of the general panic. The Maroons recommended
that the march should be made by land, "though it were sixteen days'
journey," promising them that, if the ships were taken, they might
sojourn among them in the forest as long as they wished. The sailors
were in too great "distress and perplexity" to listen to counsel; but
Drake had a genius for handling situations of the kind, and he now came
forward to quell the uproar. The men were babbling and swearing in open
mutiny, and the case demanded violent remedy. He called for silence,
telling the mutineers that he was no whit better off than they were;
that it was no time to give way to fear, but a time to keep a stiff
upper lip, and play the man. He reminded them that, even if the
Spaniards had taken the pinnaces, "which God forbid," "yet they must
have time to search them, time to examine the mariners, time to execute
their resolution after it is determined." "Before all these times be
taken," he exclaimed angrily, "we may get to our ships if ye will." They
might not hope to go by land, he said, for it would take too long, and
the ways would be too foul. But why should they not go by water? There
was the river at their feet, roaring down in full spate, tumbling the
trunks of trees destroyed in last night's storm. Why in the world should
they not make a raft of the trees, "and put ourselves to sea"? "I will
be one," he concluded, "who will be the other?" The appeal went home to
the sailors. An Englishman named John Smith at once came forward, with a
couple of Frenchmen "who could swim very well." The Maroons formed into
a line beside the river, and the tree trunks were caught and hauled
ashore to form the body of the raft. The branches were trimmed with the
hatchets they had brought to clear a path through the forest. The boles
were fastened together with thongs stolen from the recua, and with the
pliant bejuca growing all about them. The men worked merrily, convinced
that Drake would find a way to bring the ship to them. As soon as the
raft was built, a mast was stepped in her, on which a biscuit sack was
hoisted for a sail. A young tree, working in a crutch, served them as a
steering oar. The four men went aboard, a line was laid out to the bar,
and the curious raft was hauled off into the sea. The last of the storm
of the night before was still roaring up aloft. A high sea was running,
and the wind blew strong from the west. Drake put his helm up, and stood
off before it, crying out to the company that "if it pleased God, he
should put his foot in safety aboard his frigate, he would, God willing,
by one means or other get them all aboard, in despite of all the
Spaniards in the Indies."

Those who have sailed on a raft in calm water will appreciate the
courage of Drake's deed. The four men aboard her had to squat in several
inches of salt water, holding on for their lives, while the green seas
came racing over them "to the arm pits" at "every surge of the wave."
The day was intensely hot in spite of the wind, and "what with the
parching of the sun and what with the beating of the salt water, they
had all of them their skins much fretted away." With blistered and
cracking faces, parched with the heat and the salt, and shivering from
the continual immersion, they sailed for six hours, making about a knot
and a half an hour. When they had made their third league "God gave them
the sight of two pinnaces" beating towards them under oars and sail, and
making heavy weather of it. The sight of the boats was a great joy to
the four sufferers on the raft. They edged towards them as best they
could, crying out that all was safe, "so that there was no cause of
fear." It was now twilight, and the wind, already fierce, was blowing up
into a gale. In the failing light, with the spray sweeping into their
eyes, the men aboard the pinnaces could not see the raft, nor could
they make headway towards her with the wind as it was. As Drake watched,
he saw them bear up for a cove to the lee of a point of land, where they
could shelter for the night. He waited a few moments to see if they
would put forth again, but soon saw that they had anchored. He then ran
his raft ashore to windward of them, on the other side of the headland.
He was very angry with the pinnaces' hands for their disobedience of
orders. Had they done as he had commanded them, they would have been in
the Francisco River the night before, and all the pains and danger of
the raft would have been unnecessary. Drake, therefore, resolved to play
a trick upon them. As soon as he landed, he set off running to the haven
where the boats lay, followed by John Smith and the two Frenchmen--all
running "in great haste," "as if they had been chased by the enemy." The
hands in the pinnaces saw the four men hurrying towards them, and at
once concluded that the Spaniards had destroyed the expedition, and that
these four hunted wretches were the sole survivors. In an agony of
suspense they got the four men into the boats, eagerly asking where the
others were, and in what state. To these inquiries "he answered coldly,
'Well'"--an answer which convinced them that their mates were either
dead or in the hands of the Spaniards. Drake watched their misery for a
little while, and then being "willing to rid all doubts, and fill them
with joy," he took from the bosom of his shirt "a quoit of gold," giving
thanks to God that the voyage was at last "made." Some Frenchmen were in
the boat, and to these he broke the news of Captain Tetû's wound and how
he had been left behind in the forest, "and two of his company with
him." He then bade the men to get the grapnels up, as he was determined
to row to the Rio Francisco that night. After the anchors were raised,
and the oars shipped, a few hours of desperate rowing brought them to
the river's mouth, where the company had camped about a fire. By the
dawn of the next day the whole expedition was embarked, and the pinnaces
(their planking cracking with the weight of treasure) were running
eastward with a fresh wind dead astern. They picked up the frigate that
morning, and then stood on for the ships, under sail, with great joy.
Soon they were lying safe at anchor in the shelter of the secret haven
at Fort Diego. All the gold and silver were laid together in a heap, and
there in the full view of all hands, French and English, Drake weighed
it on the steward's meat scales, dividing it into two equal portions, to
the satisfaction of everyone. The French took their portion aboard their
ship as soon as it had been allotted to them. They then begged Drake for
some more sea-stores, to fit them for the sea, and he gave them a
quantity of provisions from his secret magazines. They then filled their
water casks, and stood away to the west, to cruise for a few days off
the Cabezas in the hope of obtaining news of Captain Tetû.

As soon as they had gone, Drake ordered his old ship, the _Pascha_, to
be stripped of all things necessary for the fitting of the frigate, the
Spanish prize. The long months at Port Diego had left her very foul, and
it was easier to dismantle her than to fit her for the sea. While she
was being stripped to equip the frigate, Drake organised another
expedition to recover Captain Tetû and the buried silver. His men would
not allow him to take a part in this final adventure, so Oxenham, and
one Thomas Sherwell, were placed in command. Drake accompanied them as
far as the Francisco River, taking an oar in one of the pinnaces which
conveyed them. As they rowed lightly up the stream, the reeds were
thrust aside, and one of Captain Tetû's two comrades came staggering
out, and fell upon his knees. In a broken voice he thanked God that
ever Drake was born to deliver him thus, after he had given up all hope.

He told them that he had been surprised by the Spaniards half-an-hour
after he had taken up his post beside his wounded captain. As the
Spaniards came upon them, he took to his heels, followed by his mate. He
had been carrying a lot of pillage, but as he ran he threw it all away,
including a box of jewels, which caught his mate's eye as it fell in the
grass. "His fellow took it up, and burdened himself so sore that he
could make no speed," so that the Spaniards soon overtook him, and
carried him away with Captain Tetû. Having taken two of the three
Frenchmen, the Spaniards were content to leave the chase, and the poor
survivor had contrived to reach the Rio Francisco after several days of
wandering in the woods. As for the silver which they had buried so
carefully in the sands, "he thought that it was all gone ... for that
... there had been near two thousand Spaniards and Negroes there to dig
and search for it." Notwithstanding this report, John Oxenham with a
company of twenty-seven men, marched west to view the place. He found
that the earth "every way a mile distant had been digged and turned up,"
for the Spaniards had put their captives to the torture to learn what
had been done with the treasure. Most of it had been recovered by this
means, "yet nevertheless, for all that narrow search," a little of the
dew of heaven was still glimmering in the crab-holes. The company was
able to rout out some quantity of refined gold, with thirteen bars of
silver, weighing some forty pounds apiece. With this spoil upon their
backs, they returned to the Rio Francisco, where the pinnaces took them
off to the frigate.

Now that the voyage was made, it was "high time to think of homeward,"
before the Spaniards should fit out men-of-war against them. Drake was
anxious to give the _Pascha_ to the Spanish prisoners, as some
compensation for their weeks of captivity. He could not part with her,
however, till he had secured another vessel to act as tender, or
victualler, to his little frigate. He determined to make a cast to the
east, as far as the Rio Grande, to look for some suitable ship. The
Huguenot privateer, which had been lying off the Cabezas, sailed
eastward in his company, having abandoned Captain Tetû and his two
shipmates to the mercies of the Spaniards. They stood along the coast
together as far as the Isles of San Barnardo, where the French ship
parted company. The Spanish plate fleet, with its guard of galleons, was
riding at the entry to Cartagena, and the Frenchmen feared that by
coming too near they might be taken. They, therefore, saluted Drake with
guns and colours, and shaped their course for Hispaniola and home.

[Illustration: SHIP AND FLYING FISH]

But Drake held on in his way in a bravery, determined to see the Rio
Grande before returning home. He sailed past Cartagena almost within
gunshot, "in the sight of all the Fleet, with a flag of St George in the
main top of our frigate, with silk streamers and ancients down to the
water, sailing forward with a large wind." Late that night they arrived
off the mouth of the Rio Grande, where they shortened sail, "and lay off
and on." At midnight the wind veered round to the eastward, so that the
victuallers at anchor in the river were able to set sail for Cartagena.
About two o'clock in the morning a frigate slipped over the bar under
small sail, and ran past Drake towards the west. The English at once
opened fire upon her with their shot and arrows, to which the Spaniards
replied with their quick-firing guns. While the English gunners plied
her with missiles a pinnace laid her aboard, at which the Spaniards
leaped overboard and swam for the shore. The newly taken frigate
proved to be some seven or eight tons larger than the one in which the
English had come to the east. She was laden with maize, hens, and hogs,
and a large quantity of honey from the wild bees of Nueva Reyna. As soon
as the day dawned, the two frigates sailed away again to the Cabezas to
prepare for the voyage home.

The prize's cargo was discharged upon the beach. Both frigates were then
hove down, and the Spanish prisoners (taken some weeks before) were
allowed to depart aboard the _Pascha_. The barnacles were scrubbed and
burned off the frigates; their bends were resheathed and retallowed; the
provisions were stowed in good trim; water casks were filled; and all
things set in order for the voyage. The dainty pinnaces, which had done
them such good service, and carried them so many weary miles, were then
torn to pieces, and burned, "that the Cimaroons might have the
iron-work." Lastly, Drake asked Pedro and three Maroon chiefs to go
through both the frigates "to see what they liked." He wished them to
choose themselves some farewell gifts, and promised them that they
should have what they asked, unless it were essential to the safety of
the vessels. We are not told the choice of the three Maroon chiefs, but
we read that Pedro chose the "fair gilt scimitar," the gift of Captain
Tetû, which had once belonged to Henri II. of France. Drake had not
meant to part with it, but Pedro begged for it so prettily, through the
mouth of one Francis Tucker, that Drake gave it him "with many good
words," together with a quantity of silk and linen for the wives of
those who had marched with him. They then bade adieu to the delighted
Pedro and his fellows, for it was time to set sail for England. With a
salute of guns and colours, with the trumpets sounding, and the ships'
companies to give a cheer, the two little frigates slipped out of their
harbour, and stood away under all sail for Cape St Antonio. They took a
small barque laden with hides upon the way, but dismissed her as being
useless to them after they had robbed her of her pump. At Cape St
Antonio they salted and dried a number of turtles, as provisions for the
voyage. Then they took their departure cheerfully towards the north,
intending to call at Newfoundland to fill with water. The wind blew
steadily from the south and west to blow them home, so that this scheme
was abandoned. Abundant rain supplied their water casks, the wind held
steady, the sun shone, and the blue miles slipped away. "Within
twenty-three days" they passed "from the Cape of Florida to the Isles of
Scilly," the two Spanish frigates being admirable sailers. With the silk
streamers flying in a bravery the two ships sailed into Plymouth "on
Sunday, about sermon time, August the 9th, 1573." There they dropped
anchor to the thunder of the guns, to the great joy of all the
townsfolk. "The news of our Captain's return ... did so speedily pass
over all the church, and surpass their minds with desire and delight to
see him, that very few or none remained with the Preacher, all hastening
to see the evidence of God's love and blessing towards our Gracious
Queen and country, by the fruit of our Captain's labour and success.
_Soli Deo Gloria._"

We may take leave of him at this point, with the Plymouth bells ringing
him a welcome and the worshippers flocking down to see him land.

    _Note._--"There were at the time," says the narrative, "belonging to
    Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, Rio Grande, Santa Marta, Rio de la Hacha,
    Venta Cruz, Veragua, Nicaragua, the Honduras, Jamaica, etc.; above
    200 frigates; some of 120 tons, others but of 10 or 12 tons, but the
    most of 30 or 40 tons, which all had intercourse between Cartagena
    and Nombre de Dios. The most of which, during our abode in those
    parts, we took; and some of them twice or thrice each."

    Most of these frigates were provision ships, but in all of them, no
    doubt, there was a certain amount of gold and silver, besides uncut
    jewels or pearls from the King's Islands. We do not know the amount
    of Drake's plunder, but with the spoil of all these frigates, added
    to the loot of the recua, it must have been very considerable. He
    may have made as much as £40,000, or more, or less. It is as well to
    put the estimate low.



    The voyage--His pinnace--Into the South Sea--Disaster--His unhappy

The John Oxenham, or Oxnam, who followed Drake to Nombre de Dios, and
stood with him that sunny day watching the blue Pacific from the
tree-top, was a Devonshire gentleman from South Tawton. He was of good
family and well to do. He may, perhaps, have given money towards the
fitting out of Drake's squadron. It is at least certain that he held in
that voyage a position of authority considerably greater than that of
"soldier, mariner, and cook"--the rates assigned to him by Sir Richard
Hawkins. On his return from the Nombre de Dios raid, he disappears, and
it is uncertain whether he followed Drake to Ireland, or settled down at
home in Devonshire. He did not forget the oath he had sworn to his old
Captain, to follow him to the South Sea in God's good time. But after
waiting a year or two, and finding that Drake was not ready to attempt
that adventure, he determined to go at his own charge, with such men as
he could find. He was well known in the little Devon seaports as a bold
sailor and fiery sea-captain. He was "a fine figure of a man," and the
glory of Drake's raid was partly his. He was looked upon as one of the
chief men in that foray. He had, therefore, little difficulty in getting
recruits for a new voyage to the Main.

In the year 1574 he set sail from Plymouth in a fine ship of 140 tons,
with a crew of seventy men and boys. He made a fair passage to the
Main, and anchored in Drake's old anchorage--either that of the secret
haven, in the Gulf of Darien, or that farther west, among the Catives.
Here he went ashore, and made friends with the Maroons, some of whom, no
doubt, were old acquaintances, still gay with beads or iron-work which
he had given them two years before. They told him that the treasure
trains "from Panama to Nombre de Dios" were now strongly guarded by
Spanish soldiers, so that he might not hope to win such a golden booty
as Drake had won, by holding up a recua on the march. Oxenham,
therefore, determined "to do that which never any man before
enterprised"--by leaving his ship, marching over the watershed, building
a pinnace in the woods, and going for a cruise on the South Sea. He
dragged his ship far into the haven, struck her topmasts, and left her
among the trees, beached on the mud, and covered with green boughs so as
to be hidden from view. Her great guns were swung ashore, and buried,
and the graves of them strewn with leaves and brushwood. He then armed
his men with their calivers and their sacks of victual, "and so went
with the Negroes," dragging with them two small guns, probably
quick-firing guns, mounted on staves of wood or iron. Hawkins says that
he left four or five men behind him as shipkeepers. After a march of
"about twelve leagues into the maine-land" the Maroons brought him to a
river "that goeth to the South Sea." Here the party halted, and built
themselves little huts of boughs to live in while they made themselves a

They cut down some trees here, and built themselves a pinnace "which was
five and fortie foot by the keele." They seem to have brought their
sails and tackling with them, but had they not done so they could have
made shift with the rough Indian cloth and the fibrous, easily twisted
bark of the maho-tree. Having built this little ship, they went aboard
of her, and dropped downstream to the Pacific--the first English crew,
but not the first Englishman, to sail those waters. Six negroes came
with them to act as guides. As soon as they had sailed out of the
river's mouth, they made for the Pearl Islands, or Islands of the King,
"which is five and twentie leagues from Panama." Here they lay very
close, in some snug inlet hidden from the sea. Some of them went inland
to a rocky cliff, to watch the seas for ships coming northward from Peru
with treasure from the gold and silver mines. The islands are in the
fairway between Panama and Lima, but ten days passed before the watchers
saw a sail, and cried out to those in the boat. "There came a small
Barke by, which came from Peru, from a place called Quito"; and the
pinnace dashed alongside of her, and carried her by the sword, before
her sailors learned what was the matter. She was laden with "sixtie
thousand pezos of golde, and much victuals." John Oxenham took her
lading, and kept the barque by him, while he stayed on at the islands.
At the end of six days, another "barke" came by, from Lima, "in whiche
he tooke an hundred thousand pezos of silver in barres." This was
plunder enough to "make" any voyage, and with this John Oxenham was
content. Before he sailed away, however, he marched upon one or two of
the Pearl fisheries, where he found a few pearls. He then sailed
northward to the river's mouth taking his prizes with him, with all the

At the river's mouth he very foolishly "sent away the two prizes that
hee tooke"--a piece of clemency which knotted the rope under his ear. He
then sailed up the river, helping his pinnace by poles, oars, and warps,
but making slow progress.

Before he reached this river, the negroes of the Pearl Islands sent word
to the Governor of Panama that English pirates had been in those seas
plundering their fisheries. "Within two days" the Governor despatched
four galleys, "with negroes to rowe," and twenty-five musketeers in each
galley, under the Captain John de Ortega, to search the Pearl Islands
very thoroughly for those robbers. They reached the islands, learned in
which direction the pirate ships had gone, and rowed away north to
overtake them. As they came near the land, they fell in with the two
prizes, the men of which were able to tell them how the pirates had gone
up the river but a few days before.

John de Ortega came to the river's mouth with his four galleys, and
"knew not which way to take, because there were three partitions in the
river, to goe up in." He decided at last to go up the greatest, and was
actually rowing towards it, when "he saw comming down a lesser river
many feathers of hennes, which the Englishmen had pulled to eate." These
drifting feathers, thrown overboard so carelessly, decided the Spanish
captain. He turned up the lesser river "where he saw the feathers," and
bade his negroes give way heartily. Four days later, he saw the English
pinnace drawn up on the river-bank "upon the sands," guarded by six of
her crew. The musketeers at once fired a volley, which killed one of the
Englishmen, and sent the other five scattering to the cover of the
woods. There was nothing in the pinnace but bread and meat. All the gold
pezoes and the bars of silver had been landed.

The presence of the boat guard warned the Spanish captain that the main
body of the pirates was near at hand. He determined to land eighty of
his musketeers to search those woods before returning home. "Hee had not
gone half a league" before he found one of the native huts, thatched
with palm leaves, in which were "all the Englishmen's goods and the gold
and silver also." The Englishmen were lying about the hut, many of them
unarmed, with no sentry keeping a lookout for them. Taken by surprise as
they were, they ran away into the woods, leaving all things in the hands
of the Spaniards. The Spaniards carried the treasure back to the
galleys, and rowed slowly down the river "without following the
Englishmen any further."

It appeared later, that Oxenham had ordered his men to carry the gold
and silver from the place where they had hauled the pinnace ashore, to
the place where the ship was hidden. To this the mariners joyfully
assented, "for hee promised to give them part of it besides their
wages." Unfortunately, they wished this "part of it" paid to them at
once, before they shifted an ingot--a want which seemed to reflect upon
John Oxenham's honour. He was naturally very angry "because they would
not take his word" to pay them something handsome when he reached home.
He was a choleric sea-captain, and began, very naturally, to damn them
for their insolence. "He fell out with them, and they with him," says
Hakluyt. One of them, stung by his Captain's curses, "would have killed
the Captaine" there and then, with his caliver,[2] or sailor's knife.
This last act was too much. Oxenham gave them a few final curses, and
told them that, if such were their temper, they should not so much as
touch a quoit of the treasure, but that he would get Maroons to carry
it. He then left them, and went alone into the forest to find Maroons
for the porterage. As he came back towards the camp, with a gang of
negroes, he met the five survivors of the boat guard "and the rest also
which ran from the house," all very penitent and sorry now that the
mischief had been done. They told him of the loss of the treasure, and
looked to him for guidance and advice, promising a better behaviour in
the future. Oxenham told them that if they helped him to recover the
treasure, they should have half of it, "if they got it from the
Spaniards." "The Negroes promised to help him with their bows and
arrows," and with this addition to their force they set off down the
river-bank in pursuit.

[Footnote 2: _Caliver_, a light, hand musket. A musket without a crutch,
or rest.]

After three days' travelling, they came upon the Spaniards, in camp, on
the bank of the river, apparently in some strong position, sheltered
with trees. Oxenham at once fell on "with great fury," exposing himself
and his men to the bullets of the musketeers. The Spaniards were used to
woodland fighting. Each musketeer retired behind a tree, and fired from
behind it, without showing more than his head and shoulders, and then
but for a moment. The Englishmen charged up the slope to the muzzles of
the guns, but were repulsed with loss, losing eleven men killed and five
men taken alive. The number of wounded is not stated. The negroes, who
were less active in the charge, lost only five men. The Spaniards loss
was two killed "and five sore hurt." The English were beaten off the
ground, and routed. They made no attempt to rally, and did not fall on a
second time.

The Spanish captain asked his prisoners why they had not crossed the
isthmus to their ship in the days before the pursuit began. To this the
prisoners answered with the tale of their mutinies, adding that their
Captain would not stay longer in those parts now that his company had
been routed. The Spaniards then buried their dead, retired on board
their galleys, and rowed home to Panama, taking with them their
prisoners and the English pinnace. When they arrived in that city, the
prisoners were tortured till they confessed where their ship was hidden.
Advice was then sent to Nombre de Dios, where four pinnaces were at once
equipped to seek out the secret haven. They soon found the ship, "and
brought her to Nombre de Dios," where her guns and buried stores were
divided among the King's ships employed in the work of the coast. While
this search for the ship was being made, the Viceroy of Peru sent out
150 musketeers to destroy the "fiftie English men" remaining alive.
These troops, conducted by Maroons, soon found the English in a camp by
the river, "making of certaine Canoas to goe into the North Sea, and
there to take some Bark or other." Many of them were sick and ill, "and
were taken." The rest escaped into the forest, where they tried to make
some arrangement with the negroes. The negroes, it seems, were angry
with Oxenham for his failure to keep his word to them. They had agreed
to help him on condition that they might have all the Spanish prisoners
to torture "to feed their insatiable revenges." Oxenham had released his
prisoners, as we have seen, and the Maroons had been disappointed of
their dish of roasted Spaniards' hearts. They were naturally very angry,
and told John Oxenham, when he came to them for help, that his
misfortunes were entirely due to his own folly. Had he kept his word,
they said, he would have reached his ship without suffering these
reverses. After a few days, being weary of keeping so many foreigners,
they betrayed the English sailors to the Spaniards. "They were brought
to Panama," to the justice of that city, who asked John Oxenham "whether
hee had the Queene's licence, or the licence of any other Prince or
Lord, for his attempt." To this John Oxenham answered that he had no
licence saving his sword. He was then condemned to death with the rest
of his company, with the exception of two (or five) ships' boys. After a
night or two in Panama prison, within sound of the surf of the Pacific,
the mariners were led out, and shot. Oxenham and the master and the
pilot were sent to Lima, where they were hanged as pirates in the
square of the city. A force of musketeers was then sent into the
interior, to reduce the Maroons "which had assisted those English men."
The punitive force "executed great justice," till "the Negroes grew wise
and wary," after which there was no more justice to be done. The ships'
boys, who were spared, were probably sold as slaves in Lima, or Panama.
They probably lived in those towns for the rest of their lives, and may
have become good Catholics, and wealthy, after due probation under the

Sir Richard Hawkins, who was in Panama in 1593, and who may have heard a
Spanish version of the history, tells us that aboard the treasure ship
taken by Oxenham were "two peeces of speciall estimation: the one a
table of massie gold, with emralds ... a present to the King; the other
a lady of singular beautie." According to Sir Richard, John Oxenham fell
in love with this lady, and it was through her prayers that he released
the other prisoners. He is said to have "kept the lady" when he turned
the other prisoners away. The lady's "sonne, or a nephew," who was among
those thus discharged, made every effort to redeem his mother (or aunt).
He prayed so vehemently and "with such diligence," to the Governor at
Panama, that the four galleys were granted to him "within few howers."
The story is not corroborated; but Oxenham was very human, and Spanish
beauty, like other beauty, is worth sinning for.

A year or two later, Captain Andrew Barker of Bristol, while cruising
off the Main, captured a Spanish frigate "between Chagre and Veragua."
On board of her, pointing through the port-holes, were four cast-iron
guns which had been aboard John Oxenham's ship. They were brought to
England, and left in the Scilly Islands, A.D. 1576.

    _Note._--The story of John Oxenham is taken from "Purchas his
    Pilgrimes," vol. iv. (the original large 4to edition); and from
    Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 526. Another version of the tale is given in
    Sir R. Hawkins' "Observations." He is also mentioned in Hakluyt's
    account of Andrew Barker.



    Rise of the buccaneers--The hunters of the wild
    bulls--Tortuga--Buccaneer politics--Buccaneer customs

In 1492, when Columbus landed on Hayti, he found there about 1,000,000
Indians, of a gentle refinement of manners, living peaceably under their
kings or caciques. They were "faint-hearted creatures," "a barbarous
sort of people, totally given to sensuality and a brutish custom of
life, hating all manner of labour, and only inclined to run from place
to place." The Spaniards killed many thousands of them, hunted a number
with their bloodhounds, sent a number to work the gold-mines, and caused
about a third of the population to commit suicide or die of famine. They
discouraged sensuality and a distaste for work so zealously that within
twenty years they had reduced the population to less than a twentieth
part of its original 1,000,000 of souls. They then called the island
Hispaniola, and built a city, on the south coast, as the capital. This
city they called Nueva Ysabel, in honour of the Queen of Spain, but the
name was soon changed to that of St Domingo.[3]

[Footnote 3: See particularly Burney, Exquemeling, Edwards, and Hazard.]

Those Indians who were not enslaved, retired to the inmost parts of the
island, to the shelter of the thickest woods, where they maintained
themselves by hunting. The swine and cattle, which had belonged to their
fellows in their prosperous days, ran wild, and swarmed all over the
island in incredible numbers. The dogs of the caciques also took to the
woods, where they ranged in packs of two or three score, hunting the
wild swine and the calves. The Spaniards seem to have left the interior
of the island to the few survivors, as they had too few slaves to
cultivate it. They settled themselves at St Domingo, and at various
places upon the coast, such as Santiago and St John of Goave. They
planted tobacco, sugar, chocolate, and ginger, and carried on a
considerable trade with the cities on the Main and in the mother

Hayti, or Hispaniola, is in the fairway of ships coming from Europe
towards the Main. It was at one time looked upon as the landfall to be
made before proceeding west to Vera Cruz or south to Cartagena. The
French, English, and Hollanders, who visited those seas "maugre the King
of Spain's beard," discovered it at a very early date. They were not
slow to recognise its many advantages. The Spanish, who fiercely
resented the presence of any foreigners in a part of the world
apportioned to Spain by the Pope, did all they could to destroy them
whenever they had the opportunity. But the Spanish population in the
Indies was small, and spread over a vast area, and restricted, by
Government rules, to certain lines of action. They could not patrol the
Indies with a number of guarda costas sufficient to exclude all foreign
ships, nor could they set guards, in forts, at every estancia or
anchorage in the vast coast-line of the islands. Nor could they enforce
the Spanish law, which forbade the settlers to trade with the merchants
of other countries. It often happened that a ship from France, Holland,
or England arrived upon the coasts of Hispaniola, or some other Spanish
colony, off some settlement without a garrison. The settlers in these
out-of-the-way places were very glad to trade with such ships, for the
freight they brought was cheaper and of better quality than that which
paid duty to their King. The goods were landed, and paid for. The ships
sent their crews ashore to fill fresh water or to reprovision, and then
sailed home for Europe, to return the next year with new goods. On the
St Domingo or Hispaniola coasts there are countless creeks and inlets,
making good harbours, where these smuggling ships might anchor or
careen. The land was well watered and densely wooded, so that casks
could be filled, and firewood obtained, without difficulty on any part
of the coast. Moreover, the herds of wild cattle and droves of wild
boars enabled the ships to reprovision without cost. Before the end of
the sixteenth century, it had become the custom for privateers to
recruit upon the coast of Hispaniola, much as Drake recruited at Port
Plenty. The ships used to sail or warp into some snug cove, where they
could be laid upon the careen to allow their barnacles to be burned
away. The crews then landed, and pitched themselves tents of sails upon
the beach, while some of their number took their muskets, and went to
kill the cattle in the woods. In that climate, meat does not keep for
more than a few hours, and it often happened that the mariners had
little salt to spare for the salting of their kill. They, therefore,
cured the meat in a manner they had learned from the Carib Indians. The
process will be described later on.

The Spanish guarda costas, which were swift small vessels like the
frigates Drake captured on the Main, did all they could to suppress the
illegal trafficking. Their captains had orders to take no prisoners, and
every "interloper" who fell into their hands was either hanged, like
Oxenham, or shot, like Oxenham's mariners. The huntsmen in the woods
were sometimes fired at by parties of Spaniards from the towns. There
was continual war between the Spaniards, the surviving natives, and the
interlopers. But when the Massacre of St Bartholomew drove many
Huguenots across the water to follow the fortunes of captains like Le
Testu, and when the news of Drake's success at Nombre de Dios came to
England, the interlopers began to swarm the seas in dangerous
multitudes. Before 1580, the western coast of Hispaniola had become a
sort of colony, to which the desperate and the adventurous came in
companies. The ships used to lie at anchor in the creeks, while a number
of the men from each ship went ashore to hunt cattle and wild boars.
Many of the sailors found the life of the hunter passing pleasant. There
were no watches to keep, no master to obey, no bad food to grumble at,
and, better still, no work to do, save the pleasant work of shooting
cattle for one's dinner. Many of them found the life so delightful that
they did not care to leave it when the time came for their ships to sail
for Europe. Men who had failed to win any booty on the "Terra Firma,"
and had no jolly drinking-bout to look for on the quays at home, were
often glad to stay behind at the hunting till some more fortunate
captain should put in in want of men. Shipwrecked men, men who were of
little use at sea, men "who had disagreed with their commander," began
to settle on the coast in little fellowships.[4] They set on foot a
regular traffic with the ships which anchored there. They killed great
quantities of meat, which they exchanged (to the ships' captains) for
strong waters, muskets, powder and ball, woven stuffs, and iron-ware.
After a time, they began to preserve the hides, "by pegging them out
very tite on the Ground,"--a commodity of value, by which they made much
money. The bones they did not seem to have utilised after they had split
them for their marrow. The tallow and suet were sold to the ships--the
one to grease the ships' bottoms when careened, the other as an article
for export to the European countries. It was a wild life, full of
merriment and danger. The Spaniards killed a number of them, both
French and English, but the casualties on the Spanish side were probably
a good deal the heavier. The huntsmen became more numerous. For all that
the Spaniards could do, their settlements and factories grew larger. The
life attracted people, in spite of all its perils, just as tunny fishing
attracted the young gallant in Cervantes. A day of hunting in the woods,
a night of jollity, with songs, over a cup of drink, among adventurous
companions--_qué cosa tan bonita!_ We cannot wonder that it had a
fascination. If a few poor fellows in their leather coats lay out on the
savannahs with Spanish bullets in their skulls, the rum went none the
less merrily about the camp fires of those who got away.

[Footnote 4: See Exquemeling, Burney, and the Abbé Raynal.]

In 1586, on New Year's Day to be exact, Sir Francis Drake arrived off
Hispaniola with his fleet. He had a Greek pilot with him, who helped him
up the roads to within gunshot of St Domingo. The old Spanish city was
not prepared for battle, and the Governor made of it "a New Year's gift"
to the valorous raiders. The town was sacked, and the squadron sailed
away to pillage Cartagena and St Augustine. Drake's raid was so
successful that privateers came swarming in his steps to plunder the
weakened Spanish towns. They settled on the west and north-west coasts
of Hispaniola, compelling any Spanish settlers whom they found to retire
to the east and south. The French and English had now a firm foothold in
the Indies. Without assistance from their respective Governments they
had won the right to live there, "maugre the King of Spain's beard." In
a few years' time, they had become so prosperous that the Governments of
France and England resolved to plant a colony in the Caribbee Islands,
or Lesser Antilles. They thought that such a colony would be of benefit
to the earlier adventurers by giving them official recognition and
protection. A royal colony of French and English was, therefore,
established on the island of St Christopher, or St Kitts, one of the
Caribbees, to the east of Hispaniola, in the year 1625. The island was
divided between the two companies. They combined very amicably in a
murderous attack upon the natives, and then fell to quarrelling about
the possession of an island to the south.

As the Governments had foreseen, their action in establishing a colony
upon St Kitts did much to stimulate the settlements in Hispaniola. The
hunters went farther afield, for the cattle had gradually left the
western coast for the interior. The anchorages by Cape Tiburon, or "Cape
Shark," and Samana, were filled with ships, both privateers and traders,
loading with hides and tallow or victualling for a raid upon the Main.
The huntsmen and hidecurers, French and English, had grown wealthy. Many
of them had slaves, in addition to other valuable property. Their
growing wealth made them anxious to secure themselves from any sudden
attack by land or sea.

At the north-west end of Hispaniola, separated from that island by a
narrow strip of sea, there is a humpbacked little island, a few miles
long, rather hilly in its centre, and very densely wooded. At a distance
it resembles a swimming turtle, so that the adventurers on Hispaniola
called it Tortuga, or Turtle Island. Later on, it was known as Petit
Guaves. Between this Tortuga and the larger island there was an
excellent anchorage for ships, which had been defended at one time by a
Spanish garrison. The Spaniards had gone away, leaving the place
unguarded. The wealthier settlers seized the island, built themselves
factories and houses, and made it "their head-quarters, or place of
general rendezvous." After they had settled there, they seem to have
thought themselves secure.[5] In 1638 the Spaniards attacked the place,
at a time when nearly all the men were absent at the hunting. They
killed all they found upon the island, and stayed there some little
time, hanging those who surrendered to them after the first encounter.
Having massacred some 200 or 300 settlers, and destroyed as many
buildings as they could, the Spaniards sailed away, thinking it
unnecessary to leave a garrison behind them. In this they acted
foolishly, for their atrocities stirred the interlopers to revenge
themselves. A band of them returned to Tortuga, to the ruins which the
Spaniards had left standing. Here they formed themselves into a
corporate body, with the intention to attack the Spanish at the first
opportunity. Here, too, for the first time, they elected a commander. It
was at this crisis in their history that they began to be known as
buccaneers, or people who practise the boucan, the native way of curing
meat. It is now time to explain the meaning of the word and to give some
account of the modes of life of the folk who brought it to our language.

[Footnote 5: Burney.]

The Carib Indians, and the kindred tribes on the Brazilian coast, had a
peculiar way of curing meat for preservation. They used to build a
wooden grille or grating, raised upon poles some two or three feet high,
above their camp fires. This grating was called by the Indians barbecue.
The meat to be preserved, were it ox, fish, wild boar, or human being,
was then laid upon the grille. The fire underneath the grille was kept
low, and fed with green sticks, and with the offal, hide, and bones of
the slaughtered animal. This process was called boucanning, from an
Indian word "boucan," which seems to have signified "dried meat" and
"camp-fire." Buccaneer, in its original sense, meant one who practised
the boucan.

Meat thus cured kept good for several months. It was of delicate
flavour, "red as a rose," and of a tempting smell. It could be eaten
without further cookery. Sometimes the meat was cut into pieces, and
salted, before it was boucanned--a practice which made it keep a little
longer than it would otherwise have done. Sometimes it was merely cut in
strips, roughly rubbed with brine, and hung in the sun to dry into
charqui, or jerked beef. The flesh of the wild hog made the most
toothsome boucanned meat. It kept good a little longer than the beef,
but it needed more careful treatment, as stowage in a damp lazaretto
turned it bad at once. The hunters took especial care to kill none but
the choicest wild boars for sea-store. Lean boars and sows were never
killed. Many hunters, it seems, confined themselves to hunting boars,
leaving the beeves as unworthy quarry.

When hunting, the buccaneers went on foot, in small parties of four or
five. The country in which they hunted was densely wooded, so that they
could not ride. Each huntsman carried a gun of a peculiar make, with a
barrel four and a half feet long and a spade-shaped stock. The long
barrel made the gun carry very true. For ramrods they carried three or
four straight sticks of lance wood--a wood almost as hard as iron, and
much more easily replaced. The balls used, weighed from one to two
ounces apiece. The powder was of the very best make known. It was
exported specially from Normandy--a country which sent out many
buccaneers, whose phrases still linger in the Norman patois. For powder
flask they used a hollow gourd, which was first dried in the sun. When
it had dried to a fitting hardness it was covered with cuir-bouilli, or
boiled leather, which made it watertight. A pointed stopper secured the
mouth, and made a sort of handle to the whole, by which it could be
secured to the strap which the hunter slung across his shoulders. Each
hunter carried a light tent, made of linen or thin canvas. The tents
rolled up into a narrow compass, like a bandolier, so that they could be
carried without trouble. The woods were so thick that the leggings of
the huntsmen had to be of special strength. They were made of bull or
boar hide, the hair worn outwards.[6] Moccasins, or shoes for hunting,
were made of dressed bull's hide. The clothes worn at sea or while out
hunting were "uniformly slovenly." A big heavy hat, wide in the brim and
running up into a peak, protected the wearer from sunstroke. A dirty
linen shirt, which custom decreed should not be washed, was the usual
wear. It tucked into a dirty pair of linen drawers or knickerbockers,
which garments were always dyed a dull red in the blood of the beasts
killed. A sailor's belt went round the waist, with a long machete or
sheath-knife secured to it at the back. Such was the attire of a master
hunter, buccaneer, or Brother of the Coast. Many of them had valets or
servants sent out to them from France for a term of three years. These
valets were treated with abominable cruelty, and put to all manner of
bitter labour. A valet who had served his time was presented with a gun
and powder, two shirts and a hat--an equipment which enabled him to
enter business on his own account. Every hunting party was arranged on
the system of share and share alike. The parties usually made their
plans at the Tortuga taverns. They agreed with the sugar and tobacco
planters to supply the plantations with meat in exchange for tobacco.
They then loaded up their valets with hunters' necessaries, and sailed
for Hispaniola. Often they remained in the woods for a year or two,
sending their servants to the coast from time to time with loads of meat
and hides. They hunted, as a rule, without dogs, though some sought out
the whelps of the wild mastiffs and trained them to hunt the boars.
They stalked their quarry carefully, and shot it from behind a tree. In
the evenings they boucanned their kill, pegged out the hides as tightly
as they could, smoked a pipe or two about the fire, and prepared a
glorious meal of marrow, "toute chaude"--their favourite dish. After
supper they pitched their little linen tents, smeared their faces with
grease to keep away the insects, put some wood upon the fire, and
retired to sleep, with little thought of the beauty of the fireflies.
They slept to leeward of the fires, and as near to them as possible, so
that the smoke might blow over them, and keep off the mosquitoes. They
used to place wet tobacco leaf and the leaves of certain plants among
the embers in order that the smoke might be more pungent.

[Footnote 6: See Burney, and Exquemeling.]


When the hunt was over, the parties would return to the coast to dispose
of all they carried home, and to receive all they had earned during
their absence. It was a lucrative business, and two years' hunting in
the woods brought to each hunter a considerable sum of money. As soon as
they touched their cash, they retired to Tortuga, where they bought new
guns, powder, bullets, small shot, knives, and axes "against another
going out or hunting." When the new munitions had been paid for, the
buccaneers knew exactly how much money they could spend in
self-indulgence. Those who have seen a cowboy on a holiday, or a sailor
newly home from the seas, will understand the nature of the "great
liberality" these hunters practised on such occasions. One who saw a
good deal of their way of life[7] has written that their chief vice, or
debauchery, was that of drunkenness, "which they exercise for the most
part with brandy. This they drink as liberally as the Spaniards do clear
fountain water. Sometimes they buy together a pipe of wine; this they
stave at the one end, and never cease drinking till they have made an
end of it. Thus they celebrate the festivals of Bacchus so long as they
have any money left." The island of Tortuga must have witnessed some
strange scenes. We may picture a squalid little "cow town," with
tropical vegetation growing up to the doors. A few rough bungalow
houses, a few huts thatched with palm leaves, a few casks standing in
the shade of pent roofs. To seaward a few ships of small tonnage lying
at anchor. To landward hilly ground, broken into strips of tillage,
where some wretches hoe tobacco under the lash. In the street, in the
sunlight, lie a few savage dogs. At one of the houses, a buccaneer has
just finished flogging his valet; he is now pouring lemon juice, mixed
with salt and pepper, into the raw, red flesh. At another house, a gang
of dirty men in dirty scarlet drawers are drinking turn about out of a
pan of brandy. The reader may complete the sketch should he find it
sufficiently attractive.

[Footnote 7: Exquemeling.]

When the buccaneers elected their first captain, they had made but few
determined forays against the Spaniards. The greater number of them were
French cattle hunters dealing in boucanned meat, hides, and tallow. A
few hunted wild boars; a few more planted tobacco of great excellence,
with a little sugar, a little indigo, and a little manioc. Among the
company were a number of wild Englishmen, of the stamp of Oxenham, who
made Tortuga their base and pleasure-house, using it as a port from
which to sally out to plunder Spanish ships. After a cruise, these
pirates sometimes went ashore for a month or two of cattle hunting.
Often enough, the French cattle hunters took their places on the ships.
The sailors and huntsmen soon became amphibious, varying the life of the
woods with that of a sailor, and sometimes relaxing after a cruise with
a year's work in the tobacco fields. In 1638, when the Spanish made
their raid, there were considerable numbers (certainly several hundreds)
of men engaged in these three occupations. After the raid they
increased in number rapidly; for after the raid they began to revenge
themselves by systematic raids upon the Spaniards--a business which
attracted hundreds of young men from France and England. After the raid,
too, the French and English Governments began to treat the planters of
the St Kitts colony unjustly, so that many poor men were forced to leave
their plots of ground there. These men left the colonies to join the
buccaneers at Tortuga, who soon became so numerous that they might have
made an independent state had they but agreed among themselves. This
they could not do, for the French had designs upon Tortuga. A French
garrison was landed on the island, seemingly to protect the French
planters from the English, but in reality to seize the place for the
French crown. Another garrison encamped upon the coast of the larger
island. The English were now in a position like that of the spar in the
tale.[8] They could no longer follow the business of cattle hunting;
they could no longer find an anchorage and a ready market at Tortuga.
They were forced, therefore, to find some other rendezvous, where they
could refit after a cruise upon the Main. They withdrew themselves more
and more from the French buccaneers, though the two parties frequently
combined in enterprises of danger and importance. They seem to have
relinquished Tortuga without fighting. They were less attached to the
place than the French. Their holdings were fewer, and they had but a
minor share in the cattle hunting. But for many years to come they
regarded the French buccaneers with suspicion, as doubtful allies. When
they sailed away from Tortuga they sought out other haunts on islands
partly settled by the English.

[Footnote 8: Precarious, and not at all permanent.]

In 1655, when an English fleet under Penn and Venables came to the
Indies to attack the Spaniards, a body of English buccaneers who had
settled at Barbadoes came in their ships to join the colours. In all,
5000 of them mustered, but the service they performed was of poor
quality. The combined force attacked St Domingo, and suffered a severe
repulse. They then sailed for Jamaica, which they took without much
difficulty. The buccaneers found Jamaica a place peculiarly suited to
them: it swarmed with wild cattle; it had a good harbour; it lay
conveniently for raids upon the Main. They began to settle there, at
Port Royal, with the troops left there by Cromwell's orders. They
planted tobacco and sugar, followed the boucan, and lived as they had
lived in the past at Hispaniola. Whenever England was at war with Spain
the Governor of the island gave them commissions to go privateering
against the Spanish. A percentage of the spoil was always paid to the
Governor, while the constant raiding on the Main prevented the Spaniards
from attacking the new colony in force. The buccaneers were thus of
great use to the Colonial Government. They brought in money to the
Treasury and kept the Spanish troops engaged. The governors of the
French islands acted in precisely the same way. They gave the French
buccaneers every encouragement. When France was at peace with Spain they
sent to Portugal ("which country was then at war with Spain") for
Portuguese commissions, with which the buccaneer captains could go
cruising. The English buccaneers often visited the French islands in
order to obtain similar commissions. When England was at war with Spain
the French came to Port Royal for commissions from the English Governor.
It was not a very moral state of affairs; but the Colonial governors
argued that the buccaneers were useful, that they brought in money, and
that they could be disowned at any time should Spain make peace with all
the interloping countries.

The buccaneers now began "to make themselves redoubtable to the
Spaniards, and to spread riches and abundance in our Colonies." They
raided Nueva Segovia, took a number of Spanish ships, and sacked
Maracaibo and western Gibraltar. Their captains on these raids were
Frenchmen and Portuguese. The spoils they took were enormous, for they
tortured every prisoner they captured until he revealed to them where he
had hidden his gold. They treated the Spaniards with every conceivable
barbarity, nor were the Spaniards more merciful when the chance offered.

The buccaneers, French and English, had a number of peculiar customs or
laws by which their strange society was held together. They seem to have
had some definite religious beliefs, for we read of a French captain who
shot a buccaneer "in the church" for irreverence at Mass. No buccaneer
was allowed to hunt or to cure meat upon a Sunday. No crew put to sea
upon a cruise without first going to church to ask a blessing on their
enterprise. No crew got drunk, on the return to port after a successful
trip, until thanks had been declared for the dew of heaven they had
gathered. After a cruise, the men were expected to fling all their loot
into a pile, from which the chiefs made their selection and division.
Each buccaneer was called upon to hold up his right hand, and to swear
that he had not concealed any portion of the spoil. If, after making
oath, a man were found to have secreted anything, he was bundled
overboard, or marooned when the ship next made the land. Each buccaneer
had a mate or comrade, with whom he shared all things, and to whom his
property devolved in the event of death.[9] In many cases the
partnership lasted during life. A love for his partner was usually the
only tender sentiment a buccaneer allowed himself.

[Footnote 9: Similar pacts of comradeship are made among merchant
sailors to this day.]

When a number of buccaneers grew tired of plucking weeds[10] from the
tobacco ground, and felt the allurement of the sea, and longed to go
a-cruising, they used to send an Indian, or a negro slave, to their
fellows up the coast, inviting them to come to drink a dram with them. A
day was named for the rendezvous, and a store was cleared, or a tobacco
drying-house prepared, or perhaps a tent of sails was pitched, for the
place of meeting. Early on the morning fixed for the council, a barrel
of brandy was rolled up for the refreshment of the guests, while the
black slaves put some sweet potatoes in a net to boil for the
gentlemen's breakfasts. Presently a canoa or periagua would come round
the headland from the sea, under a single sail--the topgallant-sail of
some sunk Spanish ship. In her would be some ten or a dozen men, of all
countries, anxious for a cruise upon the Main. Some would be Englishmen
from the tobacco fields on Sixteen-Mile Walk. One or two of them were
broken Royalists, of gentle birth, with a memory in their hearts of
English country houses. Others were Irishmen from Montserrat, the
wretched Kernes deported after the storm of Tredah. Some were French
hunters from the Hispaniola woods, with the tan upon their cheeks, and a
habit of silence due to many lonely marches on the trail. The new-comers
brought their arms with them: muskets with long single barrels, heavy
pistols, machetes, or sword-like knives, and a cask or two of powder and
ball. During the morning other parties drifted in. Hunters, and
planters, and old, grizzled seamen came swaggering down the trackways to
the place of meeting. Most of them were dressed in the dirty shirts and
blood-stained drawers of the profession, but some there were who wore a
scarlet cloak or a purple serape which had been stitched for a Spaniard
on the Main. Among the party were generally some Indians from
Campeachy--tall fellows of a blackish copper colour, with javelins in
their hands for the spearing of fish. All of this company would gather
in the council chamber, where a rich planter sat at a table with some
paper scrolls in front of him.

[Footnote 10: Exquemeling gives many curious details of the life of
these strange people. See the French edition of "Histoire des

As soon as sufficient men had come to muster, the planter[11] would
begin proceedings by offering a certain sum of money towards the
equipment of a roving squadron. The assembled buccaneers then asked him
to what port he purposed cruising. He would suggest one or two, giving
his reasons, perhaps bringing in an Indian with news of a gold mine on
the Main, or of a treasure-house that might be sacked, or of a plate
ship about to sail eastward. Among these suggestions one at least was
certain to be plausible. Another buccaneer would then offer to lend a
good canoa, with, perhaps, a cask or two of meat as sea-provision.
Others would offer powder and ball, money to purchase brandy for the
voyage, or roll tobacco for the solace of the men. Those who could offer
nothing, but were eager to contribute and to bear a hand, would pledge
themselves to pay a share of the expenses out of the profits of the
cruise. When the president had written down the list of contributions he
called upon the company to elect a captain. This was seldom a difficult
matter, for some experienced sailor--a good fellow, brave as a lion, and
fortunate in love and war--was sure to be among them. Having chosen the
captain, the company elected sailing masters, gunners, chirurgeons (if
they had them), and the other officers necessary to the economy of ships
of war. They then discussed the "lays" or shares to be allotted to each
man out of the general booty.

[Footnote 11: Exquemeling gives these details.]

Those who lent the ships and bore the cost of the provisioning, were
generally allotted one-third of all the plunder taken. The captain
received three shares, sometimes six or seven shares, according to his
fortune. The minor officers received two shares apiece. The men or
common adventurers received each one share. No plunder was allotted
until an allowance had been made for those who were wounded on the
cruise. Compensation varied from time to time, but the scale most
generally used was as follows[12]:--"For the loss of a right arm six
hundred pieces of eight, or six slaves; for the loss of a left arm five
hundred pieces of eight, or five slaves; for a right leg five hundred
pieces of eight, or five slaves; for a left leg four hundred pieces of
eight, or four slaves; for an eye one hundred pieces of eight, or one
slave; for a finger of the hand the same reward as for the eye."

[Footnote 12: Exquemeling.]

In addition to this compensation, a wounded man received a crown a day
(say three shillings) for two months after the division of the spoil. If
the booty were too little to allow of the declaration of a dividend, the
wounded were put ashore at the port of rendezvous, and the adventurers
kept the seas until they had enough to bring them home.

In the years of buccaneer prosperity, when Port Royal was full of
ruffians eager to go cruising, the proceedings may often have been less
regular. A voyage was sometimes arranged in the taverns, where the gangs
drank punch, or rumbo, a draught of rum and water (taken half-and-half,
and sweetened with crude sugar) so long as their money lasted. If a gang
had a ship, or the offer of a ship, and had but little silver left them
from their last cruise, they would go aboard with their muskets, shot,
and powder casks, trusting to fortune to obtain stores. Nearly every
ship's company had a Mosquito Indian, or more than one, to act as guide
ashore, in places where a native's woodcraft was essential to a white
man's safety. At sea these Indians supplied the mariners with fish, for
they were singularly skilful with the fish spear. When a gang of
buccaneers put to sea without provisions, they generally steered to the
feeding grounds of the sea-turtles, or to some place where the sea-cows,
or manatees, were found.[13] Here the Indians were sent out in small
canoas, with their spears and tortoise irons. The spears were not unlike
our modern harpoons. The tortoise irons were short, heavy arrow heads,
which penetrated the turtle's shell when rightly thrown. The heads were
attached to a stick, and to a cord which they made of a fibrous bark.
When the blow had gone home, the stick came adrift, leaving the iron in
the wound, with the cord still fast to it. When the turtles had been
hauled aboard, their flesh was salted with the brine taken from the
natural salt-pans to be found among the islands. When a manatee was
killed, the hide was stripped away, and hung to dry. It was then cut
into thongs, and put to various uses. The buccaneers made grummets, or
rings, of it, for use in their row boats instead of tholes or rowlocks.
The meat of manatee, though extremely delicate, did not take salt so
readily as that of turtles. Turtle was the stand-by of the hungry
buccaneer when far from the Main or the Jamaican barbecues. In addition
to the turtle they had a dish of fish whenever the Indians were so
fortunate as to find a shoal, or when the private fishing lines, of
which each sailor carried several, were successful. Two Mosquito
Indians, it was said, could keep 100 men in fish with no other weapons
than their spears and irons. In coasting along the Main, a buccaneer
captain could always obtain sufficient food for his immediate need, for
hardly any part of the coast was destitute of land-crabs, oysters,
fruit, deer, peccary, or warree. But for a continued cruise with a
large crew this hand-to-mouth supply was insufficient.

[Footnote 13: Dampier.]

The buccaneers sometimes began a cruise by sailing to an estancia in
Hispaniola, or on the Main, where they might supply their harness casks
with flesh. They used to attack these estancias, or "hog-yards," at
night. They began by capturing the swine or cattle-herds, and
threatening them with death should they refuse to give them the meat
they needed. Having chosen as many beeves or swine as seemed sufficient
for their purpose, they kicked the herds for their pains, and put the
meat in pickle.[14] They then visited some other Spanish house for a
supply of rum or brandy, or a few hat-loads of sugar in the crude.
Tobacco they stole from the drying-rooms of planters they disliked.
Lemons, limes, and other anti-scorbutics they plucked from the trees,
when fortune sent them to the coast. Flour they generally captured from
the Spanish. They seldom were without a supply, for it is often
mentioned as a marching ration--"a doughboy, or dumpling," boiled with
fat, in a sort of heavy cake, a very portable and filling kind of
victual. At sea their staple food was flesh--either boucanned meat or
salted turtle. Their allowance, "twice a day to every one," was "as much
as he can eat, without either weight or measure." Water and strong
liquors were allowed (while they lasted) in the same liberal spirit.
This reckless generosity was recklessly abused. Meat and drink, so
easily provided, were always improvidently spent. Probably few buccaneer
ships returned from a cruise with the hands on full allowance. The rule
was "drunk and full, or dry and empty, to hell with bloody misers"--the
proverb of the American merchant sailor of to-day. They knew no mean in
anything. That which came easily might go lightly: there was more where
that came from.

[Footnote 14: Exquemeling.]

When the ship had been thus victualled the gang went aboard her to
discuss where they should go "to seek their desperate fortunes." The
preliminary agreement was put in writing, much as in the former case,
allotting each man his due share of the expected spoil. We read that the
carpenter who "careened, mended, and rigged the vessel" was generally
allotted a fee of from twenty-five to forty pounds for his pains--a sum
drawn from the common stock or "purchase" subsequently taken by the
adventurers. For the surgeon "and his chest of medicaments" they
provided a "competent salary" of from fifty to sixty pounds. Boys
received half-a-share, "by reason that, when they take a better vessel
than their own, it is the duty of the boys to set fire to the ship or
boat wherein they are, and then retire to the prize which they have
taken." All shares were allotted on the good old rule: "No prey, No
pay," so that all had a keen incentive to bestir themselves. They were
also "very civil and charitable to each other," observing "among
themselves, very good orders." They sailed together like a company of
brothers, or rather, since that were an imperfect simile, like a company
of jolly comrades. Locks and keys were forbidden among them, as they are
forbidden in ship's fo'c's'les to this day; for every man was expected
to show that he put trust in his mates. A man caught thieving from his
fellow was whipped about the ship by all hands with little whips of
ropeyarn or of fibrous maho bark. His back was then pickled with some
salt, after which he was discharged the company. If a man were in want
of clothes, he had but to ask a shipmate to obtain all he required. They
were not very curious in the rigging or cleansing of their ships; nor
did they keep watch with any regularity. They set their Mosquito Indians
in the tops to keep a good lookout; for the Indians were long-sighted
folk, who could descry a ship at sea at a greater distance than a white
man. They slept, as a rule, on "mats" upon the deck, in the open air.
Few of them used hammocks, nor did they greatly care if the rain
drenched them as they lay asleep.

After the raids of Morgan, the buccaneers seem to have been more humane
to the Spaniards whom they captured. They treated them as Drake treated
them, with all courtesy. They discovered that the cutting out of
prisoners' hearts, and eating of them raw without salt, as had been the
custom of one of the most famous buccaneers, was far less profitable
than the priming of a prisoner with his own aqua-vitæ. The later
buccaneers, such as Dampier, were singularly zealous in the collection
of information of "the Towns within 20 leagues of the sea, on all the
coast from Trinidado down to La Vera Cruz; and are able to give a near
guess of the strength and riches of them." For, as Dampier says, "they
make it their business to examine all Prisoners that fall into their
hands, concerning the Country, Town, or City that they belong to;
whether born there, or how long they have known it? how many families?
whether most Spaniards? or whether the major part are not
Copper-colour'd, as Mulattoes [people half white, half black], Mustesoes
[mestizos, or people half white, half Indian. These are not the same as
mustees, or octoroons], or Indians? whether rich, and what their riches
do consist in? and what their chiefest manufactures? If fortified, how
many Great Guns, and what number of small Arms? whether it is possible
to come undescried on them? How many Look-outs or Centinels? for such
the Spaniards always keep; and how the Look-outs are placed? Whether
possible to avoid the Look-outs or take them? If any River or Creek
comes near it, or where the best Landing? or numerous other such
questions, which their curiosities lead them to demand. And if they
have had any former discourse of such places from other Prisoners, they
compare one with the other; then examine again, and enquire if he or any
of them, are capable to be guides to conduct a party of men thither: if
not, where and how any Prisoner may be taken that may do it, and from
thence they afterwards lay their Schemes to prosecute whatever design
they take in hand."

If, after such a careful questioning as that just mentioned, the rovers
decided to attack a city on the Main at some little distance from the
sea, they would debate among themselves the possibility of reaching the
place by river. Nearly all the wealthy Spanish towns were on a river, if
not on the sea; and though the rivers were unwholesome, and often rapid,
it was easier to ascend them in boats than to march upon their banks
through jungle. If on inquiry it were found that the suggested town
stood on a navigable river, the privateers would proceed to some island,
such as St Andreas, where they could cut down cedar-trees to make them
boats. St Andreas, like many West Indian islands, was of a stony, sandy
soil, very favourable to the growth of cedar-trees. Having arrived at
such an island, the men went ashore to cut timber. They were generally
good lumbermen, for many buccaneers would go to cut logwood in Campeachy
when trade was slack. As soon as a cedar had been felled, the limbs were
lopped away, and the outside rudely fashioned to the likeness of a boat.
If they were making a periagua, they left the stern "flat"--that is, cut
off sharply without modelling; if they were making a canoa, they pointed
both ends, as a Red Indian points his birch-bark. The bottom of the boat
in either case was made flat, for convenience in hauling over shoals or
up rapids. The inside of the boat was hollowed out by fire, with the
help of the Indians, who were very expert at the management of the
flame. For oars they had paddles made of ash or cedar plank, spliced to
the tough and straight-growing lance wood, or to the less tough, but
equally straight, white mangrove. Thwarts they made of cedar plank.
Tholes or grummets for the oars they twisted out of manatee hide. Having
equipped their canoas or periaguas they secured them to the stern of
their ship, and set sail towards their quarry.

    _Authorities._--Captain James Burney: "Voyages and Discoveries in
    the South Sea"; "History of the Buccaneers." Père Charlevoix:
    "Histoire de l'Isle Espagnole"; "Histoire et description de la N.
    France." B. Edwards: "Historical Survey of the Island of San
    Domingo." Gage: "Histoire de l'Empire Mexicain"; "The English
    American." S. Hazard: "Santo Domingo, Past and Present." Justin:
    "Histoire Politique de l'Isle de Haïti." Cal. State Papers: "America
    and West Indies." Abbé Raynal: "History of the Settlements and
    Trades of the Europeans in the East and West Indies." A. O.
    Exquemeling: "History of the Buccaneers." A. de Herrera:
    "Description des Indes Occidentales (d'Espagnol)." J. de Acosta:
    "History of the Indies." Cieça de Leon: "Travels."



    Mansvelt and Morgan--Morgan's raid on Cuba--Puerto del Principe

Throughout the years of buccaneering, the buccaneers often put to sea in
canoas and periaguas,[15] just as Drake put to sea in his three
pinnaces. Life in an open boat is far from pleasant, but men who passed
their leisure cutting logwood at Campeachy, or hoeing tobacco in
Jamaica, or toiling over gramma grass under a hot sun after cattle, were
not disposed to make the worst of things. They would sit contentedly
upon the oar bench, rowing with a long, slow stroke for hours together
without showing signs of fatigue. Nearly all of them were men of more
than ordinary strength, and all of them were well accustomed to the
climate. When they had rowed their canoa to the Main they were able to
take it easy till a ship came by from one of the Spanish ports. If she
seemed a reasonable prey, without too many guns, and not too high
charged, or high built, the privateers would load their muskets, and row
down to engage her. The best shots were sent into the bows, and excused
from rowing, lest the exercise should cause their hands to tremble. A
clever man was put to the steering oar, and the musketeers were bidden
to sing out whenever the enemy yawed, so as to fire her guns. It was in
action, and in action only, that the captain had command over his men.
The steersman endeavoured to keep the masts of the quarry in a line,
and to approach her from astern. The marksmen from the bows kept up a
continual fire at the vessel's helmsmen, if they could be seen, and at
any gun-ports which happened to be open. If the helmsmen could not be
seen from the sea, the canoas aimed to row in upon the vessel's
quarters, where they could wedge up the rudder with wooden chocks or
wedges. They then laid her aboard over the quarter, or by the after
chains, and carried her with their knives and pistols. The first man to
get aboard received some gift of money at the division of the spoil.

[Footnote 15: Dampier and Exquemeling.]

When the prize was taken, the prisoners were questioned, and despoiled.
Often, indeed, they were stripped stark naked, and granted the privilege
of seeing their finery on a pirate's back. Each buccaneer had the right
to take a shift of clothes out of each prize captured. The cargo was
then rummaged, and the state of the ship looked to, with an eye to using
her as a cruiser. As a rule, the prisoners were put ashore on the first
opportunity, but some buccaneers had a way of selling their captives
into slavery. If the ship were old, leaky, valueless, in ballast, or
with a cargo useless to the rovers, she was either robbed of her guns,
and turned adrift with her crew, or run ashore in some snug cove, where
she could be burnt for the sake of the iron-work. If the cargo were of
value, and, as a rule, the ships they took had some rich thing aboard
them, they sailed her to one of the Dutch, French, or English
settlements, where they sold her freight for what they could get--some
tenth or twentieth of its value. If the ship were a good one, in good
condition, well found, swift, and not of too great draught (for they
preferred to sail in small ships), they took her for their cruiser as
soon as they had emptied out her freight. They sponged and loaded her
guns, brought their stores aboard her, laid their mats upon her deck,
secured the boats astern, and sailed away in search of other plunder.
They kept little discipline aboard their ships. What work had to be done
they did, but works of supererogation they despised and rejected as a
shade unholy. The night watches were partly orgies. While some slept,
the others fired guns and drank to the health of their fellows. By the
light of the binnacle, or by the light of the slush lamps in the cabin,
the rovers played a hand at cards, or diced each other at "seven and
eleven," using a pannikin as dice-box. While the gamblers cut and
shuffled, and the dice rattled in the tin, the musical sang songs, the
fiddlers set their music chuckling, and the sea-boots stamped approval.
The cunning dancers showed their science in the moonlight, avoiding the
sleepers if they could. In this jolly fashion were the nights made
short. In the daytime, the gambling continued with little intermission;
nor had the captain any authority to stop it. One captain, in the
histories, was so bold as to throw the dice and cards overboard, but, as
a rule, the captain of a buccaneer cruiser was chosen as an artist, or
navigator, or as a lucky fighter. He was not expected to spoil sport.
The continual gambling nearly always led to fights and quarrels. The
lucky dicers often won so much that the unlucky had to part with all
their booty. Sometimes a few men would win all the plunder of the
cruise, much to the disgust of the majority, who clamoured for a
redivision of the spoil. If two buccaneers got into a quarrel they
fought it out on shore at the first opportunity, using knives, swords,
or pistols, according to taste. The usual way of fighting was with
pistols, the combatants standing back to back, at a distance of ten or
twelve paces, and turning round to fire at the word of command. If both
shots missed, the question was decided with cutlasses, the man who drew
first blood being declared the winner. If a man were proved to be a
coward he was either tied to the mast, and shot, or mutilated, and sent
ashore. No cruise came to an end until the company declared themselves
satisfied with the amount of plunder taken. The question, like all other
important questions, was debated round the mast, and decided by vote.

At the conclusion of a successful cruise, they sailed for Port Royal,
with the ship full of treasure, such as vicuna wool, packets of pearls
from the Hatch, jars of civet or of ambergris, boxes of "marmalett" and
spices, casks of strong drink, bales of silk, sacks of chocolate and
vanilla, and rolls of green cloth and pale blue cotton which the Indians
had woven in Peru, in some sandy village near the sea, in sight of the
pelicans and the penguins. In addition to all these things, they usually
had a number of the personal possessions of those they had taken on the
seas. Lying in the chests for subsequent division were swords,
silver-mounted pistols, daggers chased and inlaid, watches from Spain,
necklaces of uncut jewels, rings and bangles, heavy carved furniture,
"cases of bottles" of delicately cut green glass, containing cordials
distilled of precious mints, with packets of emeralds from Brazil,
bezoar stones from Patagonia, paintings from Spain, and medicinal gums
from Nicaragua. All these things were divided by lot at the main-mast as
soon as the anchor held. As the ship, or ships, neared port, her men
hung colours out--any colours they could find--to make their vessel gay.
A cup of drink was taken as they sailed slowly home to moorings, and as
they drank they fired off the cannon, "bullets and all," again and yet
again, rejoicing as the bullets struck the water. Up in the bay, the
ships in the harbour answered with salutes of cannon; flags were dipped
and hoisted in salute; and so the anchor dropped in some safe reach, and
the division of the spoil began.

[Illustration: OLD PORT ROYAL]

After the division of the spoil in the beautiful Port Royal harbour,
in sight of the palm-trees and the fort with the colours flying, the
buccaneers packed their gear, and dropped over the side into a boat.
They were pulled ashore by some grinning black man with a scarlet scarf
about his head and the brand of a hot iron on his shoulders. At the
jetty end, where the Indians lounged at their tobacco and the
fishermen's canoas rocked, the sunburnt pirates put ashore. Among the
noisy company which always gathers on a pier they met with their
companions. A sort of Roman triumph followed, as the "happily returned"
lounged swaggeringly towards the taverns. Eager hands helped them to
carry in their plunder. In a few minutes the gang was entering the
tavern, the long, cool room with barrels round the walls, where there
were benches and a table and an old blind fiddler jerking his elbow at a
jig. Noisily the party ranged about the table, and sat themselves upon
the benches, while the drawers, or potboys, in their shirts, drew near
to take the orders. I wonder if the reader has ever heard a sailor in
the like circumstance, five minutes after he has touched his pay,
address a company of parasites in an inn with the question: "What's it
going to be?"

After the settlement of Jamaica by the English, the buccaneers became
more enterprising. One buccaneer captain, the most remarkable of all of
them, a man named Mansvelt, probably a Dutchman from Curaçoa, attempted
to found a pirate settlement upon the island of Santa Katalina, or Old
Providence. Mansvelt was a fortunate sea-captain, with considerable
charm of manner. He was popular with the buccaneers, and had a name
among them, for he was the first of them to cross the isthmus and to
sail the South Sea. His South-Sea cruise had come to little, for
provisions ran short, and his company had been too small to attempt a
Spanish town. He had, therefore, retreated to the North Sea to his
ships, and had then gone cruising northward along the Nicaragua coast
as far as the Blewfields River. From this point he stood away to the
island of Santa Katalina, or Old Providence--an island about six miles
long, with an excellent harbour, which, he thought, might easily be
fortified. A smaller island lies directly to the north of it, separated
from it by a narrow channel of the sea. Twenty years before his visit it
had been the haunt of an old captain of the name of Blewfields, who had
made it his base while his men went logwood cutting on the mainland.
Blewfields was now dead, either of rum or war, and the Spaniards had
settled there, and had built themselves a fort or castle to command the
harbour. Having examined the place, Mansvelt sailed away to Jamaica to
equip a fleet to take it. He saw that the golden times which the
buccaneers were then enjoying could not last for ever, and that their
occupation might be wrecked by a single ill-considered treaty, dated
from St James's or the Court of France. He thought that the islands
should be seized as a general rendezvous for folk of that way of life.
With a little trouble the harbour could be made impregnable. The land
was good, and suited for the growing of maize or tobacco--the two
products most in demand among them. The islands were near the Main,
being only thirty-five leagues from the Chagres River, the stream from
which the golden harvest floated from the cities of the south. They were
close to the coast of Nicaragua, where the logwood grew in clumps,
waiting for the axes of the lumbermen. With the islands in their hands,
the buccaneers could drive the Spaniards off the isthmus--or so Mansvelt
thought. It would at anyrate have been an easy matter for them to have
wrecked the trade routes from Panama to Porto Bello, and from Porto
Bello to Vera Cruz.

While Mansvelt lay at Port Royal, scraping and tallowing his ships,
getting beef salted and boucanned, and drumming up his men from the
taverns, a Welshman, of the name of Henry Morgan, came sailing up to
moorings with half-a-dozen captured merchantmen. But a few weeks before,
he had come home from a cruise with a little money in his pockets. He
had clubbed together with some shipmates, and had purchased a small ship
with the common fund. She was but meanly equipped, yet her first cruise
to the westward, on the coast of Campeachy, was singularly lucky.
Mansvelt at once saw his opportunity to win recruits. A captain so
fortunate as Morgan would be sure to attract followers, for the
buccaneers asked that their captains should be valorous and lucky. For
other qualities, such as prudence and forethought, they did not
particularly care. Mansvelt at once went aboard Morgan's ship to drink a
cup of sack with him in the cabin. He asked him to act as vice-admiral
to the fleet he was then equipping for Santa Katalina. To this Henry
Morgan very readily consented, for he judged that a great company would
be able to achieve great things. In a few days, the two set sail
together from Port Royal, with a fleet of fifteen ships, manned by 500
buccaneers, many of whom were French and Dutch.

As soon as they arrived at Santa Katalina, they anchored, and sent their
men ashore with some heavy guns. The Spanish garrison was strong, and
the fortress well situated, but in a few days they forced it to
surrender. They then crossed by a bridge of boats to the lesser island
to the north, where they ravaged the plantations for fresh supplies.
Having blown up all the fortifications save the castle, they sent the
Spanish prisoners aboard the ships. They then chose out 100 trusty men
to keep the island for them. They left these on the island, under the
command of a Frenchman of the name of Le Sieur Simon. They also left
the Spanish slaves behind, to work the plantations, and to grow maize
and sweet potatoes for the future victualling of the fleet. Mansvelt
then sailed away towards Porto Bello, near which city he put his
prisoners ashore. He cruised to the eastward for some weeks, snapping up
provision ships and little trading vessels; but he learned that the
Governor of Panama, a determined and very gallant soldier, was fitting
out an army to encounter him, should he attempt to land. The news may
have been false, but it showed the buccaneers that they were known to be
upon the coast, and that their raid up "the river of Colla" to "rob and
pillage" the little town of Nata, on the Bay of Panama, would be
fruitless. The Spanish residents of little towns like Nata buried all
their gold and silver, and then fled into the woods when rumours of the
pirates came to them. To attack such a town some weeks after the
townsfolk had received warning of their intentions would have been worse
than useless.

Mansvelt, therefore, returned to Santa Katalina to see how the colony
had prospered while he had been at sea. He found that Le Sieur Simon had
put the harbour "in a very good posture of defence," having built a
couple of batteries to command the anchorage. In these he had mounted
his cannon upon platforms of plank, with due munitions of cannon-balls
and powder. On the little island to the north he had laid out
plantations of maize, sweet potatoes, plantains, and tobacco. The
first-fruits of these green fields were now ripe, and "sufficient to
revictual the whole fleet with provisions and fruits."

Mansvelt was so well satisfied with the prospects of the colony that he
determined to hurry back to Jamaica to beg recruits and recognition from
the English Governor. The islands had belonged to English subjects in
the past, and of right belonged to England still. However, the Jamaican
Governor disliked the scheme. He feared that by lending his support he
would incur the wrath of the English Government, while he could not
weaken his position in Jamaica by sending soldiers from his garrison.
Mansvelt, "seeing the unwillingness" of this un-English Governor, at
once made sail for Tortuga, where he hoped the French might be less
squeamish. He dropped anchor, in the channel between Tortuga and
Hispaniola early in the summer of 1665. He seems to have gone ashore to
see the French authorities. Perhaps he drank too strong a punch of rum
and sugar--a drink very prejudicial in such a climate to one not used to
it. Perhaps he took the yellow fever, or the coast cramp; the fact
cannot now be known. At any rate he sickened, and died there, "before he
could accomplish his desires"--"all things hereby remaining in
suspense." One account, based on the hearsay of a sea-captain, says that
Mansvelt was taken by the Spaniards, and brought to Porto Bello, and
there put to death by the troops.

Le Sieur Simon remained at his post, hoeing his tobacco plants, and
sending detachments to the Main to kill manatee, or to cut logwood. He
looked out anxiously for Mansvelt's ships, for he had not men enough to
stand a siege, and greatly feared that the Spaniards would attack him.
While he stayed in this perplexity, wondering why he did not hear from
Mansvelt, he received a letter from Don John Perez de Guzman, the
Spanish captain-general, who bade him "surrender the island to his
Catholic Majesty," on pain of severe punishment. To this Le Sieur Simon
made no answer, for he hoped that Mansvelt's fleet would soon be in
those waters to deliver him from danger. Don John, who was a very
energetic captain-general, determined to retake the place. He left his
residence at Panama, and crossed the isthmus to Porto Bello, where he
found a ship, called the _St Vincent_, "that belonged to the Company of
the Negroes" (the Isthmian company of slavers), lying at anchor, waiting
for a freight. We are told that she was a good ship, "well mounted with
guns." He provisioned her for the sea, and manned her with about 400
men, mostly soldiers from the Porto Bello forts. Among the company were
seven master gunners and "twelve Indians very dexterous at shooting with
bows and arrows." The city of Cartagena furnished other ships and men,
bringing the squadron to a total of four vessels and 500 men-at-arms.
With this force the Spanish commander arrived off Santa Katalina, coming
to anchor in the port there on the evening of a windy day, the 10th of
August 1665. As they dropped anchor they displayed their colours. As
soon as the yellow silk blew clear, Le Sieur Simon discharged "three
guns with bullets" at the ships, "the which were soon answered in the
same coin." The Spaniard then sent a boat ashore to summon the garrison,
threatening death to all if the summons were refused. To this Le Sieur
Simon replied that the island was a possession of the English Crown,
"and that, instead of surrendering it, they preferred to lose their
lives." As more than a fourth of the little garrison was at that time
hunting on the Main, or at sea, the answer was heroic. Three days later,
some negroes swam off to the ships to tell the Spaniards of the
garrison's weakness. After two more days of council, the boats were
lowered from the ships, and manned with soldiers. The guns on the
gun-decks were loaded, and trained. The drums beat to quarters both on
the ships and in the batteries. Under the cover of the warship's guns,
the boats shoved off towards the landing-place, receiving a furious fire
from the buccaneers. The "weather was very calm and clear," so that the
smoke from the guns did not blow away fast enough to allow the
buccaneers to aim at the boats. The landing force formed into three
parties, two of which attacked the flanks, and the third the centre.
The battle was very furious, though the buccaneers were outnumbered and
had no chance of victory. They ran short of cannon-balls before they
surrendered, but they made shift for a time with small shot and scraps
of iron, "also the organs of the church," of which they fired
"threescore pipes" at a shot. The fighting lasted most of the day, for
it was not to the advantage of the Spaniards to come to push of pike.
Towards sunset the buccaneers were beaten from their guns. They fought
in the open for a few minutes, round "the gate called Costadura," but
the Spaniards surrounded them, and they were forced to lay down their
arms. The Spanish colours were set up, and two poor Spaniards who had
joined the buccaneers were shot to death upon the Plaza. The English
prisoners were sent aboard the ships, and carried into Porto Bello,
where they were put to the building of a fortress--the Iron Castle, a
place of great strength, which later on the English blew to pieces. Some
of the men were sent to Panama "to work in the castle of St Jerome"--a
wonderful, great castle, which was burned at the sack of Panama almost
before the mortar dried.

While the guns were roaring over Santa Katalina, as Le Sieur Simon
rammed his cannon full of organ pipes, Henry Morgan was in lodgings at
Port Royal, greatly troubled at the news of Mansvelt's death. He was
busily engaged at the time with letters to the merchants of New England.
He was endeavouring to get their help towards the fortification of the
island he had helped to capture. "His principal intent," writes one who
did not love the man, "was to consecrate it as a refuge and sanctuary to
the Pirates of those parts," making it "a convenient receptacle or store
house of their preys and robberies." It is pleasant to speculate as to
the reasons he urged to the devout New England Puritans. He must have
chuckled to himself, and shared many a laugh with his clerk, to think
that perhaps a Levite, or a Man of God, a deacon, or an elder, would
untie the purse-strings of the sealed if he did but agonise about the
Spanish Inquisition with sufficient earthquake and eclipse. He heard of
the loss of the island before the answers came to him, and the news, of
course, "put him upon new designs," though he did not abandon the scheme
in its entirety. He had his little fleet at anchor in the harbour,
gradually fitting for the sea, and his own ship was ready. Having
received his commission from the Governor, he gave his captains orders
to meet him on the Cuban coast, at one of the many inlets affording safe
anchorage. Here, after several weeks of cruising, he was joined by "a
fleet of twelve sail," some of them of several hundred tons. These were
manned by 700 fighting men, part French, part English.

At the council of war aboard the admiral's ship, it was suggested that
so large a company should venture on Havana, which city, they thought,
might easily be taken, "especially if they could but take a few of the
ecclesiastics." Some of the pirates had been prisoners in the Havana,
and knew that a town of 30,000 inhabitants would hardly yield to 700
men, however desperate. "Nothing of consequence could be done there,"
they pronounced, even with ecclesiastics, "unless with fifteen hundred
men." One of the pirates then suggested the town of Puerto del Principe,
an inland town surrounded by tobacco fields, at some distance from the
sea. It did a thriving trade with the Havana; and he who suggested that
it should be sacked, affirmed upon his honour, like Boult over Maria,
that it never yet "was sacked by any Pirates." Towards this virginal
rich town the buccaneers proceeded, keeping close along the coast until
they made the anchorage of Santa Maria. Here they dropped anchor for the

When the men were making merry over the punch, as they cleaned their
arms, and packed their satchels, a Spanish prisoner "who had overheard
their discourse, while they thought he did not understand the English
tongue," slipped through a port-hole to the sea, and swam ashore. By
some miracle he escaped the ground sharks, and contrived to get to
Puerto del Principe some hours before the pirates left their ships. The
Governor of the town, to whom he told his story, at once raised all his
forces, "both freemen and slaves," to prejudice the enemy when he
attacked. The forest ways were blocked with timber baulks, and several
ambuscades were laid, with cannon in them, "to play upon them on their
march." In all, he raised and armed 800 men, whom he disposed in order,
either in the jungle at the ambuscades or in a wide expanse of grass
which surrounded the town.

In due course Morgan sent his men ashore, and marched them through the
wood towards the town. They found the woodland trackways blocked by the
timber baulks, so they made a detour, hacking paths for themselves with
their machetes, until they got clear of the wood. When they got out of
the jungle they found themselves on an immense green field, covered with
thick grass, which bowed and shivered in the wind. A few pale cattle
grazed here and there on the savannah; a few birds piped and twittered
in the sunshine. In front of them, at some little distance, was the town
they had come to pillage. It lay open to them--a cluster of houses, none
of them very large, with warehouses and tobacco drying-rooms and
churches with bells in them. Outside the town, some of them lying down,
some standing so as to get a view of the enemy, were the planters and
townsfolk, with their pikes and muskets, waiting for the battle to
begin. Right in the pirates' front was a troop of horsemen armed with
lances, swords, and pistols, drawn up in very good order, and ready to
advance. The pirates on their coming from the wood formed into a
semicircle or half-moon shape, the bow outwards, the horns curving to
prevent the cavalry from taking them in flank. They had drums and
colours in their ranks. The drums beat out a bravery, the colours were
displayed. The men halted for a moment to get their breath and to
reprime their guns. Then they advanced slowly, to the drubbing of the
drums, just as the Spanish horsemen trotted forward. As the Spaniards
sounded the charge, the buccaneers fired a volley of bullets at them,
which brought a number of cavaliers out of their saddles. Those horsemen
who escaped the bullets dashed down upon the line, and fired their
pistols at close quarters, afterwards wheeling round, and galloping back
to reform. They charged again and again, "like valiant and courageous
soldiers," but at every charge the pirates stood firm, and withered them
with file-firing. As they retired after each rush, the marksmen in the
ranks picked them off one by one, killing the Governor, in his plumed
hat, and strewing the grass with corpses. They also manoeuvred during
this skirmish so as to cut off the horsemen from the town. After four
hours of battle the cavalry were broken and defeated, and in no heart to
fight further. They made a last charge on their blown horses, but their
ranks went to pieces at the muzzles of the pirates' guns. They broke
towards the cover of the woods, but the pirates charged them as they
ran, and cut them down without pity. Then the drums beat out a bravery,
and the pirates rushed the town in the face of a smart fire. The
Spaniards fought in the streets, while some fired from the roofs and
upper windows. So hot was the tussle that the pirates had to fight from
house to house. The townsmen did not cease their fire, till the pirates
were gathering wood to burn the town, in despair of taking it.


As soon as the firing ceased, the townsfolk were driven to the
churches, and there imprisoned under sentinels. Afterwards the pirates
"searched the whole country round about the town, bringing in day by day
many goods and prisoners, with much provision." The wine and spirits of
the townsfolk were set on tap, and "with this they fell to banqueting
among themselves, and making great cheer after their customary way."
They feasted so merrily that they forgot their prisoners, "whereby the
greatest part perished." Those who did not perish were examined in the
Plaza, "to make them confess where they had hidden their goods." Those
who would not tell where they had buried their gold were tortured very
barbarously by burning matches, twisted cords, or lighted palm leaves.
Finally, the starving wretches were ordered to find ransoms, "else they
should be all transported to Jamaica" to be sold as slaves. The town was
also laid under a heavy contribution, without which, they said, "they
would turn every house into ashes."

It happened that, at this juncture, some buccaneers, who were raiding in
the woods, made prisoner a negro carrying letters from the Governor of
the Havana. The letters were written to the citizens, telling them to
delay the payment of their ransoms as long as possible, for that he was
fitting out some soldiers to relieve them. The letters warned Henry
Morgan that he had better be away with the treasure he had found. He
gave order for the plunder to be sent aboard in the carts of the
townsfolk. He then called up the prisoners, and told them very sharply
that their ransoms must be paid the next day, "forasmuch as he would not
wait one moment longer, but reduce the whole town to ashes, in case they
failed to perform the sum he demanded." As it was plainly impossible for
the townsfolk to produce their ransoms at this short notice he
graciously relieved their misery by adding that he would be contented
with 500 beeves, "together with sufficient salt wherewith to salt
them." He insisted that the cattle should be ready for him by the next
morning, and that the Spaniards should deliver them upon the beach,
where they could be shifted to the ships without delay. Having made
these terms, he marched his men away towards the sea, taking with him
six of the principal prisoners "as pledges of what he intended." Early
the next morning the beach of Santa Maria bay was thronged with cattle
in charge of negroes and planters. Some of the oxen had been yoked to
carts to bring the necessary salt. The Spaniards delivered the ransom,
and demanded the six hostages. Morgan was by this time in some anxiety
for his position. He was eager to set sail before the Havana ships came
round the headland, with their guns run out, and matches lit, and all
things ready for a fight. He refused to release the prisoners until the
vaqueros "had helped his men to kill and salt the beeves." The work of
killing and salting was performed "in great haste," lest the Havana
ships should come upon them before the beef was shipped. The hides were
left upon the sands, there being no time to dry them before sailing. A
Spanish cowboy can kill, skin, and cut up a steer in a few minutes. The
buccaneers were probably no whit less skilful. By noon the work was
done. The beach of Santa Maria was strewn with mangled remnants, over
which the seagulls quarrelled. But before Morgan could proceed to sea,
he had to quell an uproar which was setting the French and English by
the ears. The parties had not come to blows, but the French were
clamouring for vengeance with drawn weapons. A French sailor, who was
working on the beach, killing and pickling the meat, had been plundered
by an Englishman, who "took away the marrowbones he had taken out of the
ox." Marrow, "toute chaude," was a favourite dish among these people.
The Frenchman could not brook an insult of a kind as hurtful to his
dinner as to his sense of honour. He challenged the thief to single
combat: swords the weapon, the time then. The buccaneers knocked off
their butcher's work to see the fight. As the poor Frenchman turned his
back to make him ready, his adversary stabbed him from behind, running
him quite through, so that "he suddenly fell dead upon the place."
Instantly the beach was in an uproar. The Frenchmen pressed upon the
English to attack the murderer and to avenge the death of their fellow.
There had been bad blood between the parties ever since they mustered at
the quays before the raid began. The quarrel now raging was an excuse to
both sides. Morgan walked between the angry groups, telling them to put
up their swords. At a word from him, the murderer was seized, set in
irons, and sent aboard an English ship. Morgan then seems to have made a
little speech to pacify the rioters, telling the French that the man
should be hanged ("hanged immediately," as they said of Admiral Byng) as
soon as the ships had anchored in Port Royal bay. To the English, he
said that the criminal was worthy of punishment, "for although it was
permitted him to challenge his adversary, yet it was not lawful to kill
him treacherously, as he did." After a good deal of muttering, the
mutineers returned aboard their ships, carrying with them the last of
the newly salted beef. The hostages were freed, a gun was fired from the
admiral's ship, and the fleet hove up their anchors, and sailed away
from Cuba, to some small sandy quay with a spring of water in it, where
the division of the plunder could be made. The plunder was heaped
together in a single pile. It was valued by the captains, who knew by
long experience what such goods would fetch in the Jamaican towns.

To the "resentment and grief" of all the 700 men these valuers could not
bring the total up to 50,000 pieces of eight--say £12,000--"in money and
goods." All hands were disgusted at "such a small booty, which was not
sufficient to pay their debts at Jamaica." Some cursed their fortune;
others cursed their captain. It does not seem to have occurred to them
to blame themselves for talking business before their Spanish prisoners.
Morgan told them to "think upon some other enterprize," for the ships
were fit to keep the sea, and well provisioned. It would be an easy
matter, he told them, to attack some town upon the Main "before they
returned home," so that they should have a little money for the taverns,
to buy them rum with, at the end of the cruise. But the French were
still sore about the murder of their man: they raised objections to
every scheme the English buccaneers proposed. Each proposition was
received contemptuously, with angry bickerings and mutterings. At last
the French captains intimated that they desired to part company. Captain
Morgan endeavoured to dissuade them from this resolution by using every
flattery his adroit nature could suggest. Finding that they would not
listen to him, even though he swore by his honour that the murderer,
then in chains, should be hanged as soon as they reached home, he
brought out wine and glasses, and drank to their good fortune. The booty
was then shared up among the adventurers. The Frenchmen got their shares
aboard, and set sail for Tortuga to the sound of a salute of guns. The
English held on for Port Royal, in great "resentment and grief." When
they arrived there they caused the murderer to be hanged upon a gallows,
which, we are told, "was all the satisfaction the French Pirates could

    _Note._--If we may believe Morgan's statement to Sir T. Modyford,
    then Governor of Jamaica, he brought with him from Cuba reliable
    evidence that the Spaniards were planning an attack upon that colony
    (see State Papers: West Indies and Colonial Series). If the
    statements of his prisoners were correct, the subsequent piratical
    raid upon the Main had some justification. Had the Spaniards matured
    their plans, and pushed the attack home, it is probable that we
    should have lost our West Indian possessions.

    _Authorities._--A. O. Exquemeling: "Bucaniers of America," eds.
    1684-5 and 1699. Cal. State Papers: "West Indies."



    The Gulf of Maracaibo--Morgan's escape from the Spaniards

It was a melancholy home-coming. The men had little more than ten pounds
apiece to spend in jollity. The merchants who enjoyed their custom were
of those kinds least anxious to give credit. The ten pounds were but
sufficient to stimulate desire. They did not allow the jolly mariner to
enjoy himself with any thoroughness. In a day or two, the buccaneers
were at the end of their gold, and had to haunt the street corners,
within scent of the rum casks, thinking sadly of the pleasant liquor
they could not afford to drink. Henry Morgan took this occasion to
recruit for a new enterprise. He went ashore among the drinking-houses,
telling all he met of golden towns he meant to capture. He always
"communicated vigour with his words," for, being a Welshman, he had a
certain fervour of address, not necessarily sincere, which touched his
simplest phrase with passion. In a day or two, after a little talk and a
little treating, every disconsolate drunkard in the town was "persuaded
by his reasons, that the sole execution of his orders, would be a
certain means of obtaining great riches." This persuasion, the writer
adds, "had such influence upon their minds, that with inimitable courage
they all resolved to follow him." Even "a certain Pirate of Campeachy,"
a shipowner of considerable repute, resolved to follow Morgan "to seek
new fortunes and greater advantages than he had found before." The
French might hold aloof, they all declared, but an Englishman was still
the equal of a Spaniard; while after all a short life and a merry one
was better than work ashore or being a parson. With this crude
philosophy, they went aboard again to the decks they had so lately left.
The Campeachy pirate brought in a ship or two, and some large canoas. In
all they had a fleet of nine sail, manned by "four hundred and three
score military men." With this force Captain Morgan sailed for Costa

When they came within the sight of land, a council was called, to which
the captains of the vessels went. Morgan told them that he meant to
plunder Porto Bello by a night attack, "being resolved" to sack the
place, "not the least corner escaping his diligence." He added that the
scheme had been held secret, so that "it would not fail to succeed
well." Besides, he thought it likely that a city of such strength would
be unprepared for any sudden attack. The captains were staggered by this
resolution, for they thought themselves too weak "to assault so strong
and great a city." To this the plucky Welshman answered: "If our number
is small, our hearts are great. And the fewer persons we are, the more
union and better shares we shall have in the spoil." This answer, with
the thought of "those vast riches they promised themselves," convinced
the captains that the town could be attempted. It was a "dangerous
voyage and bold assault" but Morgan had been lucky in the past, and the
luck might still be with him. He knew the Porto Bello country, having
been there with a party (perhaps Mansvelt's party) some years before. At
any rate the ships would be at hand in the event of a repulse.

It was something of a hazard, for the Spanish garrison was formed of all
the desperate criminals the colonial police could catch. These men made
excellent soldiers, for after a battle they were given the plunder of
the men they had killed. Then Panama, with its great garrison, was
perilously near at hand, being barely sixty miles away, or two days'
journey. Lastly, the town was strongly fortified, with castles guarding
it at all points. The garrison was comparatively small, mustering about
three companies of foot. To these, however, the buccaneers had to add
300 townsfolk capable of bearing arms. Following John Exquemeling's
plan, we add a brief description of this famous town, to help the reader
to form a mental picture of it.

Porto Bello stands on the south-eastern side of a fine bay, "in the
province of Costa Rica." At the time when Morgan captured it (in June
1668) it was one of the strongest cities in the possession of the King
of Spain. It was neglected until 1584, when a royal mandate caused the
traders of Nombre de Dios to migrate thither. It then became the port of
the galleons,[16] where the treasures of the south were shipped for
Spain. The city which Morgan sacked was built upon a strip of level
ground planted with fruit-trees, at a little distance from the sea, but
within a few yards of the bay. The westward half of the town was very
stately, being graced with fine stone churches and the residence of the
lieutenant-general. Most of the merchants' dwellings (and of these there
may have been 100) were built of cedar wood. Some were of stone, a thing
unusual in the Indies, and some were partly stone, with wooden upper
storeys. There was a fine stone convent peopled by Sisters of Mercy, and
a dirty, ruinous old hospital for "the sick men belonging to the ships
of war." On the shore there was a quay, backed by a long stone
custom-house. The main street ran along the shore behind this
custom-house, with cross-streets leading to the two great squares. The
eastward half of the city, through which the road to Panama ran, was
called Guinea; for there the slaves and negroes used to live, in huts
and cottages of sugar-cane and palm leaves. There, too, was the slave
mart, to which the cargoes of the Guinea ships were brought. A little
river of clear water divided the two halves of the town. Another little
river, bridged in two places, ran between the town and Castle Gloria.
The place was strongly fortified. Ships entering the bay had to pass
close to the "Iron Castle," built upon the western point. Directly they
stood away towards the town they were exposed to the guns of Castle
Gloria and Fort Jeronimo--the latter a strong castle built upon a
sandbank off the Guinea town. The constant population was not large,
though probably 300 white men lived there all the year round, in
addition to the Spanish garrison. The native quarter was generally
inhabited by several hundred negroes and mulattoes. When the galleons
arrived there, and for some weeks before, the town was populous with
merchants, who came across from Panama to buy and sell. Tents were
pitched in the Grand Plaza, in front of the Governor's house, for the
protection of perishable goods, like Jesuits'-bark. Gold and silver bars
became as common to the sight as pebbles. Droves of mules came daily in
from Panama, and ships arrived daily from all the seaports in the
Indies. As soon as the galleons sailed for Spain, the city emptied as
rapidly as it had filled. It was too unhealthy a place for white folk,
who continued there "no longer than was needful to acquire a fortune."

[Footnote 16: With reservations. See p. 13, _note_.]

[Illustration: PORTO BELLO

Indeed, Porto Bello was one of the most pestilential cities ever built,
"by reason of the unhealthiness of the Air, occasioned by certain
Vapours that exhale from the Mountains." It was excessively hot, for it
lay (as it still lies) in a well, surrounded by hills, "without any
intervals to admit the refreshing gales." It was less marshy than Nombre
de Dios, but "the sea, when it ebbs, leaves a vast quantity of black,
stinking mud, from whence there exhales an intolerable noisome vapour."
At every fair-time "a kind of pestilential fever" raged, so that at
least 400 folk were buried there annually during the five or six weeks
of the market. The complaint may have been yellow fever; (perhaps the
cholera), perhaps pernicious fever, aggravated by the dirty habits of
the thousands then packed within the town. The mortality was especially
heavy among the sailors who worked aboard the galleons, hoisting in or
out the bales of merchandise. These mariners drank brandy very freely
"to recruit their spirits," and in other ways exposed themselves to the
infection. The drinking water of the place was "too fine and active for
the stomachs of the inhabitants," who died of dysentery if they presumed
to drink of it. The town smoked in a continual steam of heat, unrelieved
even by the torrents of rain which fall there every day. The woods are
infested with poisonous snakes, and abound in a sort of large toad or
frog which crawls into the city after rains. The tigers "often make
incursions into the street," as at Nombre de Dios, to carry off children
and domestic animals. There was good fishing in the bay, and the land
was fertile "beyond wonder," so that the cost of living there, in the
_tiempo muerto_, was very small. There is a hill behind the town called
the Capiro, about which the streamers of the clouds wreathe whenever
rain is coming. The town was taken by Sir Francis Drake in 1595, by
Captain Parker in 1601, by Morgan in 1668, by Coxon in 1679, and by
Admiral Vernon in 1740.

Having told his plans, the admiral bade his men make ready. During the
afternoon he held towards the west of Porto Bello, at some distance from
the land. The coast up to the Chagres River, and for some miles beyond,
is low, so that there was not much risk of the ships being sighted from
the shore. As it grew darker, he edged into the land, arriving "in the
dusk of the evening" at a place called Puerto de Naos, or Port of
Ships, a bay midway between Porto Bello and the Chagres, and about ten
leagues from either place.

They sailed westward up the coast for a little distance to a place
called Puerto Pontin, where they anchored. Here the pirates got their
boats out, and took to the oars, "leaving in the ships only a few men to
keep them, and conduct them the next day to the port." By the light of
lamps and battle lanterns the boats rowed on through the darkness, till
at midnight they had came to a station called Estera longa Lemos, a
river-mouth a few miles from Porto Bello, "where they all went on
shore." After priming their muskets, they set forth towards the city,
under the guidance of an English buccaneer, who had been a prisoner at
Porto Bello but a little while before. When they were within a mile or
two of the town, they sent this Englishmen with three or four companions
to take a solitary sentry posted at the city outskirts. If they could
not take him, they were to kill him, but without giving the alarm to the
inhabitants. By creeping quietly behind him, the party took the sentry,
"with such cunning that he had no time to give warning with his musket,
or make any other noise." A knife point pressing on his spine, and a gag
of wood across his tongue, warned him to attempt no outcry. Some
rope-yarn was passed about his wrists, and in this condition he was
dragged to Captain Morgan. As soon as he was in the admiral's presence,
he was questioned as to the number of soldiers then in the forts, "with
many other circumstances." It must have been a most uncomfortable trial,
for "after every question, they made him a thousand menaces to kill him,
in case he declared not the truth." When they had examined him to their
satisfaction, they recommenced their march, "carrying always the said
sentry bound before them." Another mile brought them to an outlying
fortress, which was built apparently between Porto Bello and the sea,
to protect the coast road and a few outlying plantations. It was not yet
light, so the pirates crept about the fort unseen, "so that no person
could get either in or out." When they had taken up their ground, Morgan
bade the captured sentry hail the garrison, charging them to surrender
on pain of being cut to pieces. The garrison at once ran to their
weapons, and opened a fierce fire on the unseen enemy, thus giving
warning to the city that the pirates were attacking. Before they could
reload, the buccaneers, "the noble Sparks of Venus," stormed in among
them, taking them in their confusion, hardly knowing what was toward.
Morgan was furious that the Spaniards had not surrendered at discretion
on his challenge. The pirates were flushed with the excitement of the
charge. Someone proposed that they "should be as good as their words, in
putting the Spaniards to the sword, thereby to strike a terror into the
rest of the city." They hustled the Spanish soldiers "into one room,"
officers and men together. The cellars of the fort were filled with
powder barrels. Some ruffian took a handful of the powder, and spilled a
train along the ground, telling his comrades to stand clear. His mates
ran from the building applauding his device. In another moment the
pirate blew upon his musket match to make the end red, and fired the
train he had laid, "and blew up the whole castle into the air, with all
the Spaniards that were within." "Much the better way of the two," says
one of the chroniclers, who saw the explosion.

"This being done," says the calm historian, "they pursued the course of
their victory" into the town. By this time, the streets were thronged
with shrieking townsfolk. Men ran hither and thither with their poor
belongings. Many flung their gold and jewels into wells and cisterns, or
stamped them underground, "to excuse their being totally robbed." The
bells were set clanging in the belfries; while, to increase the
confusion, the Governor rode into the streets, calling on the citizens
to rally and stand firm. As the dreadful panic did not cease, he rode
out of the mob to one of the castles (Castle Gloria), where the troops
were under arms. It was now nearly daybreak, or light enough for them to
see their enemy. As the pirates came in sight among the fruit-trees, the
Governor trained his heavy guns upon them, and opened a smart fire. Some
lesser castles, or the outlying works of Castle Gloria, which formed the
outer defences of the town, followed his example; nor could the pirates
silence them. One party of buccaneers crept round the fortifications to
the town, where they attacked the monastery and the convent, breaking
into both with little trouble, and capturing a number of monks and nuns.
With these they retired to the pirates' lines.

For several hours, the pirates got no farther, though the fire did not
slacken on either side. The pirates lay among the scrub, hidden in the
bushes, in little knots of two and three. They watched the castle
embrasures after each discharge of cannon, for the Spaniards could not
reload without exposing themselves as they sponged or rammed. Directly a
Spaniard appeared, he was picked off from the bushes with such precision
that they lost "one or two men every time they charged each gun anew."
The losses on the English side were fully as severe; for, sheltered
though they were, the buccaneers lost heavily. The lying still under a
hot sun was galling to the pirates' temper. They made several attempts
to storm, but failed in each attempt owing to the extreme gallantry of
the defence. Towards noon they made a furious attack, carrying
fireballs, or cans filled with powder and resin, in their hands
"designing, if possible, to burn the doors of the castle." As they came
beneath the walls, the Spaniards rolled down stones upon them, with
"earthen pots full of powder" and iron shells filled full of chain-shot,
"which forced them to desist from that attempt." Morgan's party was
driven back with heavy loss. It seemed to Morgan at this crisis that the
victory was with the Spanish. He wavered for some minutes, uncertain
whether to call off his men. "Many faint and calm meditations came into
his mind" seeing so many of his best hands dead and the Spanish fire
still so furious. As he debated "he was suddenly animated to continue
the assault, by seeing the English colours put forth at one of the
lesser castles, then entered by his men." A few minutes later the
conquerors came swaggering up to join him, "proclaiming victory with
loud shouts of joy."

Leaving his musketeers to fire at the Spanish gunners, Morgan turned
aside to reconnoitre. Making the capture of the lesser fort his excuse,
he sent a trumpet, with a white flag, to summon the main castle, where
the Governor had flown the Spanish standard. While the herald was gone
upon his errand, Morgan set some buccaneers to make a dozen scaling
ladders, "so broad that three or four men at once might ascend by them."
By the time they were finished, the trumpeter returned, bearing the
Governor's answer that "he would never surrender himself alive." When
the message had been given, Captain Morgan formed his soldiers into
companies, and bade the monks and nuns whom he had taken, to place the
ladders against the walls of the chief castle. He thought that the
Spanish Governor would hardly shoot down these religious persons, even
though they bore the ladders for the scaling parties. In this he was
very much mistaken. The Governor was there to hold the castle for his
Catholic Majesty, and, like "a brave and courageous soldier," he
"refused not to use his utmost endeavours to destroy whoever came near
the walls." As the wretched monks and nuns came tottering forward with
the ladders, they begged of him, "by all the Saints of Heaven," to haul
his colours down, to the saving of their lives. Behind them were the
pirates, pricking them forward with their pikes and knives. In front of
them were the cannon of their friends, so near that they could see the
matches burning in the hands of the gunners. "They ceased not to cry to
him," says the narrative; but they could not "prevail with the obstinacy
and fierceness that had possessed the Governor's mind"--"the Governor
valuing his honour before the lives of the Mass-mumblers." As they drew
near to the walls, they quickened their steps, hoping, no doubt, to get
below the cannon muzzles out of range. When they were but a few yards
from the walls, the cannon fired at them, while the soldiers pelted them
with a fiery hail of hand-grenades. "Many of the religious men and nuns
were killed before they could fix the ladders"; in fact, the poor folk
were butchered there in heaps, before the ladders caught against the
parapet. Directly the ladders held, the pirates stormed up with a shout,
in great swarms, like a ship's crew going aloft to make the sails fast.
They had "fireballs in their hands and earthen pots full of powder,"
which "they kindled and cast in among the Spaniards" from the summits of
the walls. In the midst of the smoke and flame which filled the fort the
Spanish Governor stood fighting gallantly. His wife and child were
present in that house of death, among the blood and smell, trying to
urge him to surrender. The men were running from their guns, and the
hand-grenades were bursting all about him, but this Spanish Governor
refused to leave his post. The buccaneers who came about him called upon
him to surrender, but he answered that he would rather die like a brave
soldier than be hanged as a coward for deserting his command, "so that
they were enforc'd to kill him, nothwithstanding the cries of his Wife
and Daughter."

The sun was setting over Iron Castle before the firing came to an end
with the capture of the Castle Gloria. The pirates used the last of the
light for the securing of their many prisoners. They drove them to some
dungeon in the castle, where they shut them up under a guard. The
wounded "were put into a certain apartment by itself," without
medicaments or doctors, "to the intent their own complaints might be the
cure of their diseases." In the dungeons of the castle's lower battery
they found eleven English prisoners chained hand and foot. They were the
survivors of the garrison of Providence, which the Spaniards
treacherously took two years before. Their backs were scarred with many
floggings, for they had been forced to work like slaves at the laying of
the quay piles in the hot sun, under Spanish overseers. They were
released at once, and tenderly treated, nor were they denied a share of
the plunder of the town.

"Having finish'd this Jobb" the pirates sought out the "recreations of
Heroick toil." "They fell to eating and drinking" of the provisions
stored within the city, "committing in both these things all manner of
debauchery and excess." They tapped the casks of wine and brandy, and
"drank about" till they were roaring drunk. In this condition they ran
about the town, like cowboys on a spree, "and never examined whether it
were Adultery or Fornication which they committed." By midnight they
were in such a state of drunken disorder that "if there had been found
only fifty courageous men, they might easily have retaken the City, and
killed the Pirats." The next day they gathered plunder, partly by
routing through the houses, partly by torturing the townsfolk. They seem
to have been no less brutal here than they had been in Cuba, though the
Porto Bello houses yielded a more golden spoil than had been won at
Puerto Principe. They racked one or two poor men until they died. Others
they slowly cut to pieces, or treated to the punishment called
"woolding," by which the eyes were forced from their sockets under the
pressure of a twisted cord. Some were tortured with burning matches "and
such like slight torments." A woman was roasted to death "upon a baking
stone"--a sin for which one buccaneer ("as he lay sick") was
subsequently sorry.

While they were indulging these barbarities, they drank and swaggered
and laid waste. They stayed within the town for fifteen days, sacking it
utterly, to the last ryal. They were too drunk and too greedy to care
much about the fever, which presently attacked them, and killed a
number, as they lay in drunken stupor in the kennels. News of their riot
being brought across the isthmus, the Governor of Panama resolved to
send a troop of soldiers, to attempt to retake the city, but he had
great difficulty in equipping a sufficient force. Before his men were
fit to march, some messengers came in from the imprisoned townsfolk,
bringing word from Captain Morgan that he wanted a ransom for the city,
"or else he would by fire consume it to ashes." The pirate ships were by
this time lying off the town, in Porto Bello bay. They were taking in
fresh victuals for the passage home. The ransom asked was 100,000 pieces
of eight, or £25,000. If it had not been paid the pirates could have put
their threat in force without the slightest trouble. Morgan made all
ready to ensure his retreat in the event of an attack from Panama. He
placed an outpost of 100 "well-arm'd" men in a narrow part of the
passage over the isthmus. All the plunder of the town was sent on board
the ships. In this condition he awaited the answer of the President.

As soon as that soldier had sufficient musketeers in arms, he marched
them across the isthmus to relieve the city. They attempted the pass
which Morgan had secured, but lost very heavily in the attempt. The
buccaneers charged, and completely routed them, driving back the entire
company along the road to Panama. The President had "to retire for that
time," but he sent a blustering note to Captain Morgan, threatening him
and his with death "when he should take them, as he hoped soon to do."
To this Morgan replied that he would not deliver the castles till he had
the money, and that if the money did not come, the castles should be
blown to pieces, with the prisoners inside them. We are told that "the
Governor of Panama perceived by this answer that no means would serve to
mollify the hearts of the Pirates, nor reduce them to reason." He
decided to let the townsfolk make what terms they could. In a few days
more these wretched folk contrived to scrape together the required sum
of money, which they paid over as their ransom.

Before the expedition sailed away, a messenger arrived from Panama with
a letter from the Governor to Captain Morgan. It made no attempt to
mollify his heart nor to reduce him to reason, but it expressed a wonder
at the pirates' success. He asked, as a special favour, that Captain
Morgan would send him "some small patterns" of the arms with which the
city had been taken. He thought it passing marvellous that a town so
strongly fortified should have been won by men without great guns.
Morgan treated the messenger to a cup of drink, and gave him a pistol
and some leaden bullets "to carry back to the President, his Master."
"He desired him to accept that pattern of the arms wherewith he had
taken Porto Bello." He requested him to keep them for a twelvemonth,
"after which time he promised to come to Panama and fetch them away."
The Spaniard returned the gift to Captain Morgan, "giving him thanks for
lending him such weapons as he needed not." He also sent a ring of gold,
with the warning "not to give himself the trouble of coming to Panama,"
for "he should not speed so well there" as he had sped at Porto Bello.

"After these transactions" Captain Morgan loosed his top-sail, as a
signal to unmoor. His ships were fully victualled for the voyage, and
the loot was safely under hatches. As a precaution, he took with him the
best brass cannon from the fortress. The iron guns were securely spiked
with soft metal nails, which were snapped off flush with the
touch-holes. The anchors were weighed to the music of the fiddlers, a
salute of guns was fired, and the fleet stood out of Porto Bello bay
along the wet, green coast, passing not very far from the fort which
they had blown to pieces. In a few days' time they raised the Keys of
Cuba, their favourite haven, where "with all quiet and repose" they made
their dividend. "They found in ready money two hundred and fifty
thousand pieces of eight, besides all other merchandises, as cloth,
linen, silks and other goods." The spoil was amicably shared about the
mast before a course was shaped for their "common rendezvous"--Port

A godly person in Jamaica, writing at this juncture in some distress,
expressed himself as follows:--"There is not now resident upon this
place ten men to every [licensed] house that selleth strong liquors ...
besides sugar and rum works that sell without license." When Captain
Morgan's ships came flaunting into harbour, with their colours
fluttering and the guns thundering salutes, there was a rustle and a
stir in the heart of every publican. "All the Tavern doors stood open,
as they do at London, on Sundays, in the afternoon." Within those tavern
doors, "in all sorts of vices and debauchery," the pirates spent their
plunder "with huge prodigality," not caring what might happen on the

Shortly after the return from Porto Bello, Morgan organised another
expedition with which he sailed into the Gulf of Maracaibo. His ships
could not proceed far on account of the shallowness of the water, but by
placing his men in the canoas he penetrated to the end of the Gulf. On
the way he sacked Maracaibo, a town which had been sacked on two
previous occasions--the last time by L'Ollonais only a couple of years
before. Morgan's men tortured the inhabitants, according to their
custom, either by "woolding" them or by placing burning matches between
their toes. They then set sail for Gibraltar, a small town strongly
fortified, at the south-east corner of the Gulf. The town was empty, for
the inhabitants had fled into the hills with "all their goods and
riches." But the pirates sent out search parties, who brought in many
prisoners. These were examined, with the usual cruelties, being racked,
pressed, hung up by the heels, burnt with palm leaves, tied to stakes,
suspended by the thumbs and toes, flogged with rattans, or roasted at
the camp fires. Some were crucified, and burnt between the fingers as
they hung on the crosses; "others had their feet put into the fire."

When they had extracted the last ryal from the sufferers they shipped
themselves aboard some Spanish vessels lying in the port. They were
probably cedar-built ships, of small tonnage, built at the Gibraltar
yards. In these they sailed towards Maracaibo, where they found "a poor
distressed old man, who was sick." This old man told them that the
Castle de la Barra, which guarded the entrance to the Gulf, had been
mounted with great guns and manned by a strong garrison. Outside the
channel were three Spanish men-of-war with their guns run out and decks
cleared for battle.

The truth of these assertions was confirmed by a scouting party the same
day. In order to gain a little time Morgan sent a Spaniard to the
admiral of the men-of-war, demanding a ransom "for not putting Maracaibo
to the flame." The answer reached him in a day or two, warning him to
surrender all his plunder, and telling him that if he did not, he should
be destroyed by the sword. There was no immediate cause for haste,
because the Spanish admiral could not cross the sandbanks into the Gulf
until he had obtained flat-bottomed boats from Caracas. Morgan read the
letter to his men "in the market-place of Maracaibo," "both in French
and English," and then asked them would they give up all their spoil,
and pass unharmed, or fight for its possession. They agreed with one
voice to fight, "to the very last drop of blood," rather than surrender
the booty they had risked their skins to get. One of the men undertook
to rig a fireship to destroy the Spanish admiral's flagship. He proposed
to fill her decks with logs of wood "standing with hats and Montera
caps," like gunners standing at their guns. At the port-holes they would
place other wooden logs to resemble cannon. The ship should then hang
out the English colours, the Jack or the red St George's cross, so that
the enemy should deem her "one of our best men of war that goes to fight
them." The scheme pleased everyone, but there was yet much anxiety among
the pirates. Morgan sent another letter to the Spanish admiral, offering
to spare Maracaibo without ransom; to release his prisoners, with one
half of the captured slaves; and to send home the hostages he brought
away from Gibraltar, if he might be granted leave to pass the entry. The
Spaniard rejected all these terms, with a curt intimation that, if the
pirates did not surrender within two more days, they should be compelled
to do so at the sword's point.

Morgan received the Spaniard's answer angrily, resolving to attempt the
passage "without surrendering anything." He ordered his men to tie the
slaves and prisoners, so that there should be no chance of their
attempting to rise. They then rummaged Maracaibo for brimstone, pitch,
and tar, with which to make their fireship. They strewed her deck with
fireworks and with dried palm leaves soaked in tar. They cut her
outworks down, so that the fire might more quickly spread to the enemy's
ship at the moment of explosion. They broke open some new gun-ports, in
which they placed small drums, "of which the negroes make use."
"Finally, the decks were handsomely beset with many pieces of wood
dressed up in the shape of men with hats or monteras, and likewise armed
with swords, muskets, and bandoliers." The plunder was then divided
among the other vessels of the squadron. A guard of musketeers was
placed over the prisoners, and the pirates then set sail towards the
passage. The fireship went in advance, with orders to fall foul of the
_Spanish Admiral_, a ship of forty guns.


When it grew dark they anchored for the night, with sentinels on each
ship keeping vigilant watch. They were close to the entry, almost within
shot of the Spaniards, and they half expected to be boarded in the
darkness. At dawn they got their anchors, and set sail towards the
Spaniards, who at once unmoored, and beat to quarters. In a few minutes
the fireship ran into the man-of-war, "and grappled to her sides" with
kedges thrown into her shrouds. The Spaniards left their guns, and
strove to thrust her away, but the fire spread so rapidly that they
could not do so. The flames caught the warship's sails, and ran along
her sides with such fury that her men had hardly time to get away from
her before she blew her bows out, and went to the bottom. The second
ship made no attempt to engage: her crew ran her ashore, and deserted,
leaving her bilged in shallow water. As the pirates rowed towards the
wreck some of the deserters hurried back to fire her. The third ship
struck her colours without fighting.

Seeing their advantage a number of the pirates landed to attack the
castle, where the shipwrecked Spaniards were rallying. A great skirmish
followed, in which the pirates lost more men than had been lost at Porto
Bello. They were driven off with heavy loss, though they continued to
annoy the fort with musket fire till the evening. As it grew dark they
returned to Maracaibo, leaving one of their ships to watch the fortress
and to recover treasure from the sunken flagship. Morgan now wrote to
the Spanish admiral, demanding a ransom for the town. The citizens were
anxious to get rid of him at any cost, so they compounded with him,
seeing that the admiral disdained to treat, for the sum of 20,000 pieces
of eight and 500 cattle. The gold was paid, and the cattle duly counted
over, killed, and salted; but Morgan did not purpose to release his
prisoners until his ship was safely past the fort. He told the Maracaibo
citizens that they would not be sent ashore until the danger of the
passage was removed. With this word he again set sail to attempt to pass
the narrows. He found his ship still anchored near the wreck, but in
more prosperous sort than he had left her. Her men had brought up 15,000
pieces of eight, with a lot of gold and silver plate, "as hilts of
swords and other things," besides "great quantity of pieces of eight"
which had "melted and run together" in the burning of the vessel.

Morgan now made a last appeal to the Spanish admiral, telling him that
he would hang his prisoners if the fortress fired on him as he sailed
past. The Spanish admiral sent an answer to the prisoners, who had
begged him to relent, informing them that he would do his duty, as he
wished they had done theirs. Morgan heard the answer, and realised that
he would have to use some stratagem to escape the threatened danger. He
made a dividend of the plunder before he proceeded farther, for he
feared that some of the fleet might never win to sea, and that the
captains of those which escaped might be tempted to run away with their
ships. The spoils amounted to 250,000 pieces of eight, as at Porto
Bello, though in addition to this gold there were numbers of slaves and
heaps of costly merchandise.

When the booty had been shared he put in use his stratagem. He embarked
his men in the canoas, and bade them row towards the shore "as if they
designed to land." When they reached the shore they hid under the
overhanging boughs "till they had laid themselves down along in the
boats." Then one or two men rowed the boats back to the ships, with the
crews concealed under the thwarts. The Spaniards in the fortress watched
the going and returning of the boats. They could not see the stratagem,
for the boats were too far distant, but they judged that the pirates
were landing for a night attack. The boats plied to and from the shore
at intervals during the day. The anxious Spaniards resolved to prepare
for the assault by placing their great guns on the landward side of the
fortress. They cleared away the scrub on that side, in order to give
their gunners a clear view of the attacking force when the sun set. They
posted sentries, and stood to their arms, expecting to be attacked.

As soon as night had fallen the buccaneers weighed anchor. A bright moon
was shining, and by the moonlight the ships steered seaward under bare
poles. As they came abreast of the castle on the gentle current of the
ebb, they loosed their sails to a fair wind blowing seaward. At the same
moment, while the top-sails were yet slatting, Captain Morgan fired
seven great guns "with bullets" as a last defiance. The Spaniards
dragged their cannon across the fortress, "and began to fire very
furiously," without much success. The wind freshened, and as the ships
drew clear of the narrows they felt its force, and began to slip through
the water. One or two shots took effect upon them before they drew out
of range, but "the Pirates lost not many of their men, nor received any
considerable damage in their ships." They hove to at a distance of a
mile from the fort in order to send a boat in with a number of the
prisoners. They then squared their yards, and stood away towards
Jamaica, where they arrived safely, after very heavy weather, a few days
later. Here they went ashore in their stolen velvets and silks to spend
their silver dollars in the Port Royal rum shops. Some mates of theirs
were ashore at that time after an unlucky cruise. It was their pleasure
"to mock and jeer" these unsuccessful pirates, "often telling them: Let
us see what money you brought from Comana, and if it be as good silver
as that which we bring from Maracaibo."

    _Note._--On his return from Maracaibo, Morgan gave out that he had
    met with further information of an intended Spanish attack on
    Jamaica. He may have made the claim to justify his actions on the
    Main, which were considerably in excess of the commission Modyford
    had given him. On the other hand, a Spanish attack may have been
    preparing, as he stated; but the preparations could not have gone
    far, for had the Spaniards been prepared for such an expedition
    Morgan's Panama raid could never have succeeded.

    _Authorities._--Exquemeling's "History of The Bucaniers of America";
    Exquemeling's "History" (the Malthus edition), 1684. Cal. State
    Papers: West Indian and Colonial Series.

    For my account of Porto Bello I am indebted to various brief
    accounts in Hakluyt, and to a book entitled "A Description of the
    Spanish Islands," by a "Gentleman long resident in those parts." I
    have also consulted the brief notices in Dampier's Voyages, Wafer's
    Voyages, various gazetteers, and some maps and pamphlets relating to
    Admiral Vernon's attack in 1739-40. There is a capital description
    of the place as it was in its decadence, _circa_ 1820, in Michael
    Scott's "Tom Cringle's Log."



    Chagres castle--Across the isthmus--Sufferings of the
    buccaneers--Venta Cruz--Old Panama

Some months later Henry Morgan found his pirates in all the miseries of
poverty. They had wasted all their silver dollars, and longed for
something "to expend anew in wine" before they were sold as slaves to
pay their creditors. He thought that he would save them from their
misery by going a new cruise. There was no need for him to drum up
recruits in the rum shops, for his name was glorious throughout the
Indies. He had but to mention that "he intended for the Main" to get
more men than he could ship. He "assigned the south side of the Isle of
Tortuga" for his rendezvous, and he sent out letters to the "ancient and
expert Pirates" and to the planters and hunters in Hispaniola, asking
them, in the American general's phrase, "to come and dip their spoons in
a platter of glory." Long before the appointed day the rendezvous was
crowded, for ships, canoas, and small boats came thronging to the
anchorage with all the ruffians of the Indies. Many marched to the
rendezvous across the breadth of Hispaniola "with no small
difficulties." The muster brought together a grand variety of rascaldom,
from Campeachy in the west to Trinidad in the east. Hunters, planters,
logwood cutters, Indians, and half-breeds came flocking from their huts
and inns to go upon the grand account. Lastly, Henry Morgan came in his
fine Spanish ship, with the brass and iron guns. At the firing of a gun
the assembled captains came on board to him for a pirates' council, over
the punch-bowl, in the admiral's cabin.

It was decided at this council to send a large party to the Main, to the
de la Hacha River, "to assault a small village" of the name of La
Rancheria--the chief granary in all the "Terra Firma." The pirates were
to seize as much maize there as they could find--enough, if possible, to
load the ships of the expedition. While they were away their fellows at
Tortuga were to clean and rig the assembled ships to fit them for the
coming cruise. Another large party was detailed to hunt in the woods for
hogs and cattle.

In about five weeks' time the ships returned from Rio de la Hacha, after
much buffeting at sea. They brought with them a grain ship they had
taken in the port, and several thousand sacks of corn which the
Spaniards had paid them as "a ransom for not burning the town." They had
also won a lot of silver, "with all other things they could rob"--such
as pearls from the local pearl beds. The hunters had killed and salted
an incredible quantity of beef and pork, the ships were scraped and
tallowed, and nothing more was to be done save to divide the victuals
among all the buccaneers. This division did not take much time. Within a
couple of days the admiral loosed his top-sail. The pirates fired off
their guns and hove their anchors up. They sailed out of Port Couillon
with a fair wind, in a great bravery of flags, towards the rendezvous at
Cape Tiburon, to the south-west of the island Hispaniola. When they
reached Cape Tiburon, where there is a good anchorage, they brought
aboard a store of oranges, to save them from the scurvy. While the men
were busy in the orange groves Henry Morgan "gave letters patent, or
commissions," to all his captains, "to act all manner of hostility
against the Spanish nation." For this act he had the sealed authority
of the Council of Jamaica. He was no longer a pirate or buccaneer, but
an admiral leading a national enterprise. As we have said, he had heard,
on the Main, of an intended Spanish attack upon Jamaica; indeed, it is
probable that his capture of Porto Bello prevented the ripening of the
project. There is no need to whitewash Morgan, but we may at least
regard him at this juncture as the saviour of our West Indian colonies.
After the serving out of these commissions, and their due sealing, the
captains were required to sign the customary articles, allotting the
shares of the prospective plunder. The articles allotted very liberal
compensation to the wounded; they also expressly stated the reward to be
given for bravery in battle. Fifty pieces of eight were allotted to him
who should haul a Spanish colour down and hoist the English flag in its
place. Surgeons received 200 pieces of eight "for their chests of
medicaments." Carpenters received one half of that sum. Henry Morgan,
the admiral of the fleet, was to receive one-hundredth part of all the
plunder taken. His vice-admiral's share is not stated. As a stimulus to
the pirates, it was published through the fleet that any captain and
crew who ventured on, and took, a Spanish ship should receive a tenth
part of her value as a reward to themselves for their bravery. When the
contracts had been signed Morgan asked his captains which town they
should attempt. They had thirty-seven ships, carrying at least 500
cannon. They had 2000 musketeers, "besides mariners and boys," while
they possessed "great quantity of ammunition, and fire balls, with other
inventions of powder." With such an armament, he said, they could attack
the proudest of the Spanish cities. They could sack La Vera Cruz, where
the gold from Manila was put aboard the galleons, as they lay alongside
the quays moored to the iron ring-bolts; or they could go eastward to
the town of Cartagena to pillage our Lady's golden altar in the church
there; or they could row up the Chagres River, and keep the promise
Morgan had made to the Governor of Panama. The captains pronounced for
Panama, but they added, as a rider, that it would be well to go to Santa
Katalina to obtain guides. The Santa Katalina fort was still in the
possession of the Spaniards, who now used it as a convict settlement,
sending thither all the outlaws of the "Terra Firma." It would be well,
they said, to visit Santa Katalina to select a few choice cut-throats to
guide them over the isthmus. With this resolution they set sail for
Santa Katalina, where they anchored on the fourth day, "before sunrise,"
in a bay called the Aguada Grande.

Some of the buccaneers had been there under Mansvelt, and these now
acted as guides to the men who went ashore in the fighting party. A day
of hard fighting followed, rather to the advantage of the Spaniards, for
the pirates won none of the batteries, and had to sleep in the open,
very wet and hungry. The next day Morgan threatened the garrison with
death if they did not yield "within few hours." The Governor was not a
very gallant man, like the Governor at Porto Bello. Perhaps he was
afraid of his soldiers, the convicts from the "Terra Firma." At anyrate
he consented to surrender, but he asked that the pirates would have the
kindness to pretend to attack him, "for the saving of his honesty."
Morgan agreed very gladly to this proposition, for he saw little chance
of taking the fort by storm. When the night fell, he followed the
Governor's direction, and began a furious bombardment, "but without
bullets, or at least into the air." The castles answered in the like
manner, burning a large quantity of powder. Then the pirates stormed
into the castles in a dramatic way; while the Spaniards retreated to
the church, and hung out the white flag.

Early the next morning the pirates sacked the place, and made great
havoc in the poultry-yards and cattle-pens. They pulled down a number of
wooden houses to supply their camp fires. The guns they nailed or sent
aboard. The powder they saved for their own use, but some proportion of
it went to the destruction of the forts, which, with one exception, they
blew up. For some days they stayed there, doing nothing but "roast and
eat, and make good cheer," sending the Spaniards to the fields to rout
out fresh provisions. While they lay there, Morgan asked "if any
banditti were there from Panama," as he had not yet found his guides.
Three scoundrels came before him, saying that they knew the road across
the isthmus, and that they would act as guides if such action were made
profitable. Morgan promised them "equal shares in all they should
pillage and rob," and told them that they should come with him to
Jamaica at the end of the cruise. These terms suited the three robbers
very well. One of them, "a wicked fellow," "the greatest rogue, thief
and assassin among them," who had deserved rather "to be broken alive
upon a wheel than punished with serving in a garrison," was the
spokesman of the trio. He was the Dubosc of that society, "and could
domineer and command over them," "they not daring to refuse obedience."
This truculent ruffian, with his oaths and his knives and his black
moustachios, was elected head guide.

After several days of ease upon the island Morgan sent a squadron to the
Main, with 400 men, four ships, and a canoa, "to go and take the Castle
of Chagre," at the entrance to the Chagres River. He would not send a
larger company, though the fort was strong, for he feared "lest the
Spaniards should be jealous of his designs upon Panama"--lest they
should be warned, that is, by refugees from Chagres before he tried to
cross the isthmus. Neither would he go himself, for he was still bent
upon establishing a settlement at Santa Katalina. He chose out an old
buccaneer, of the name of Brodely or Bradly, who had sailed with
Mansvelt, to command the expedition. He was famous in his way this
Captain Brodely, for he had been in all the raids, and had smelt a
quantity of powder. He was as brave as a lion, resourceful as a sailor,
and, for a buccaneer, most prudent. Ordering his men aboard, he sailed
for the Chagres River, where, three days later, he arrived. He stood in
towards the river's mouth; but the guns of the castle opened on him,
making that anchorage impossible. But about a league from the castle
there is a small bay, and here Captain Brodely brought his ships to
anchor, and sent his men to their blankets, warning them to stand by for
an early call.

[Illustration: CHAGRES
    CIRCA 1739]

The castle of San Lorenzo, which guarded the Chagres River's mouth, was
built on the right bank of that river, on a high hill of great
steepness. The hill has two peaks, with a sort of natural ditch some
thirty feet in depth between them. The castle was built upon the seaward
peak, and a narrow drawbridge crossed the gully to the other summit,
which was barren and open to the sight. The river swept round the
northern side of the hill with considerable force. To the south the hill
was precipitous, and of such "infinite asperity," that no man could
climb it. To the east was the bridged gully connecting the garrison with
the isthmus. To the west, in a crook of the land, was the little port of
Chagres, where ships might anchor in seven or eight fathoms, "being very
fit for small vessels." Not far from the foot of the hill, facing the
river's mouth, there was a battery of eight great guns commanding the
approach. A little way beneath were two more batteries, each with six
great guns, to supplement the one above. A path led from these lower
batteries to the protected harbour. A steep flight of stairs, "hewed out
of the rock," allowed the soldiers to pass from the water to the summit
of the castle. The defences at the top of the hill were reinforced with
palisadoes. The keep, or inner castle, was hedged about with a double
fence of plank--the fences being six or seven feet apart, and the
interstices filled in with earth, like gabions. On one side of the
castle were the storesheds for merchandise and ammunition. On the other,
and within the palisadoes everywhere, were soldiers' huts, built of mud
and wattle, thatched with palm leaves, "after the manner of the
Indians." Lastly, as a sort of outer defence, a great submerged rock
prevented boats from coming too near the seaward side.

Early in the morning Captain Bradly turned his hands up by the
boatswain's pipe, and bade them breakfast off their beef and parched
corn. Maize and charqui were packed into knapsacks for the march, and
the pirates rowed ashore to open the campaign. The ruffians from Santa
Katalina took their stations at the head of the leading company, with
trusty pirates just behind them ready to pistol them if they played
false. In good spirits they set forth from the beach, marching in the
cool of the morning before the sun had risen. The way led through
mangrove swamps, where the men sank to their knees in rotting grasses or
plunged to their waists in slime. Those who have seen a tropical swamp
will know how fierce the toil was. They were marching in a dank world
belonging to an earlier age than ours. They were in the age of the coal
strata, among wet, green things, in a silence only broken by the sound
of dropping or by the bellow of an alligator. They were there in the
filth, in the heat haze, in a mist of miasma and mosquitoes. In all
probability they were swearing at themselves for coming thither.

At two o'clock in the afternoon the buccaneers pushed through a thicket
of liane and green cane, and debouched quite suddenly upon the barren
hilltop facing San Lorenzo Castle. As they formed up, they were met with
a thundering volley, which threw them into some confusion. They
retreated to the cover of the jungle to debate a plan of battle, greatly
fearing that a fort so strongly placed would be impregnable without
great guns to batter it. However, they were a reckless company, careless
of their lives, and hot with the tramping through the swamp. Give it up
they could not, for fear of the mockery of their mates. The desperate
course was the one course open to them. They lit the fireballs, or
grenades, they had carried through the marsh; they drew their swords,
and "Come on!" they cried. "Have at all!" And forward they stormed,
cursing as they ran. A company in reserve remained behind in cover,
firing over the storming party with their muskets.

As the pirates threw themselves into the gully, the walls of San Lorenzo
burst into a flame of gun fire. The Spaniards fought their cannon
furiously--as fast as they could fire and reload--while the musketeers
picked off the leaders from the loopholes. "Come on, ye English dogs!"
they cried. "Come on, ye heretics! ye cuckolds! Let your skulking mates
behind there come on too! You'll not get to Panama this bout." "Come on"
the pirates did, with great gallantry. They flung themselves down into
the ditch, and stormed up the opposite slope to the wooden palings. Here
they made a desperate attempt to scale, but the foothold was too
precarious and the pales too high. In a few roaring minutes the attack
was at an end: it had withered away before the Spanish fire. The
buccaneers were retreating in knots of one or two, leaving some seventy
of their number on the sun-bleached rocks of the gully.

When they got back to the jungle they lay down to rest, and slept there
quietly while the daylight lasted, though the Spaniards still sent shots
in their direction. As soon as it was dark, they made another furious
assault, flinging their fireballs against the palings in order to burst
the planks apart. While they were struggling in the ditch, a pirate ran
across the gully with his body bent, as is natural to a running man. As
he ran, an arrow took him in the back, and pierced him through to the
side. He paused a moment, drew the arrow from the wound, wrapped the
shaft of it with cotton as a wad, and fired it back over the paling with
his musket. The cotton he had used caught fire from the powder, and it
chanced that this blazing shaft drove home into a palm thatch. In the
hurry and confusion the flame was not noticed, though it spread rapidly
across the huts till it reached some powder casks. There was a violent
explosion just within the palisadoes, and stones and blazing sticks came
rattling down about the Spaniards' ears. The inner castle roared up in a
blaze, calling the Spaniards from their guns to quench the fire--no easy
task so high above the water. While the guns were deserted, the pirates
ran along the bottom of the ditch, thrusting their fireballs under the
palisadoes, which now began to burn in many places. As the flames
spread, the planking warped, and fell. The outer planks inclined
slightly outward, like the futtocks of a ship, so that, when they
weakened in the fire, the inner weight of earth broke them through. The
pirates now stood back from the fort, in the long black shadows, to
avoid the showers of earth--"great heaps of earth"--which were falling
down into the ditch. Presently the slope from the bottom of the gully
was piled with earth, so that the pirates could rush up to the breaches,
and hurl their firepots across the broken woodwork. The San Lorenzo fort
was now a spiring red flame of fire--a beacon to the ships at sea.
Before midnight the wooden walls were burnt away to charcoal; the inner
fort was on fire in many places; yet the Spaniards still held the
earthen ramparts, casting down "many flaming pots," and calling on the
English dogs to attack them. The pirates lay close in the shadows,
picking off the Spaniards as they moved in the red firelight, so that
many poor fellows came toppling into the gully from the mounds.

When day dawned, the castle lay open to the pirates. The walls were all
burnt, and fallen down, but in the breaches stood the Spanish soldiers,
manning their guns as though the walls still protected them. The fight
began as furiously as it had raged the day before. By noon most of the
Spanish gunners had been shot down by the picked musketeers; while a
storming party ran across the ditch, and rushed a breach. As the pirates
gained the inside of the fort, the Spanish Governor charged home upon
them with twenty-five soldiers armed with pikes, clubbed muskets,
swords, or stones from the ruin. For some minutes these men mixed in a
last desperate struggle; then the Spaniards were driven back by the
increasing numbers of the enemy. Fighting hard, they retreated to the
inner castle, cheered by their Governor, who still called on them to
keep their flag aloft. The inner castle was a ruin, but the yellow flag
still flew there, guarded by some sorely wounded soldiers and a couple
of guns. Here the last stand was made, and here the gallant captain was
hit by a bullet, "which pierced his skull into the brain." The little
band of brave men now went to pieces before the rush of pirates. Some of
them fell back, still fighting, to the wall, over which they flung
themselves "into the sea," dying thus honourably rather than surrender.
About thirty of them, "whereof scarce ten were not wounded," surrendered
in the ruins of the inner fortress. These thirty hurt and weary men
were the survivors of 314 who had stood to arms the day before. All the
rest were dead, save "eight or nine," who had crept away by boat up the
Chagres to take the news to Panama. No officer remained alive, nor was
any powder left; the Spaniards were true soldiers. The pirates lost
"above one hundred killed" and over seventy wounded, or rather more than
half of the men engaged. While the few remaining Spaniards dug trenches
in the sand for the burial of the many dead, the pirates questioned them
as to their knowledge of Morgan's enterprise. They knew all about it,
they said, for a deserter from the pirate ships which raided the Rio de
la Hacha (for grain) had spoken of the scheme to the Governor at
Cartagena. That captain had reinforced the Chagres garrison, and had
sent a warning over the isthmus to the Governor at Panama. The Chagres
was now well lined with ambuscades. Panama was full of soldiers, and the
whole Spanish population was ready to take up arms to drive the pirates
to their ships, so they knew what they might look to get in case they
persisted in their plan. This information was sent to Henry Morgan at
the Santa Katalina fort, with news of the reduction of the Chagres
castle. Before he received it, Captain Joseph Bradly died in the castle,
of a wound he had received in the fighting.

When Morgan received the news that San Lorenzo had been stormed, he
began to send aboard the meat, maize, and cassava he had collected in
Santa Katalina. He had already blown the Spanish forts to pieces, with
the one exception of the fort of St Teresa. He now took all the captured
Spanish guns, and flung them into the sea, where they lie still, among
the scarlet coral sprays. The Spanish town was then burnt, and the
Spanish prisoners placed aboard the ships. It was Morgan's intention to
return to the island after sacking Panama, and to leave there a strong
garrison to hold it in the interests of the buccaneers. When he had made
these preparations he weighed his anchors, and sailed for the Chagres
River under the English colours.

Eight days later they came sailing slowly up towards the river's mouth.
Their joy was so great "when they saw the English colours upon the
castle, that they minded not their way into the river," being gathered
at the rum cask instead of at the lead, and calling healths instead of
soundings. As a consequence, four ships of the fleet, including the
admiral's flagship, ran foul of the ledge of rocks at the river's entry.
Several men were drowned, but the goods and ships' stores were saved,
though with some difficulty. As they got out warps to bring the ships
off, the north wind freshened. In shallow water, such as that, a sea
rises very quickly. In a few hours a regular "norther" had set in, and
the ships beat to pieces on the ledge before the end of the day.

As Morgan came ashore at the port, the guns were fired in salute, and
the pirates lined the quay and the castle walls to give him a triumphant
welcome. He examined the castle, questioned the lieutenants, and at once
took steps to repair the damage done by the fire. The thirty survivors
of the garrison and all the prisoners from Santa Katalina, were set to
work to drive in new palisadoes in the place of those burnt in the
attack. The huts were rethatched and the whole place reordered. There
were some Spanish ships in the port whose crews had been pressed into
the Spanish garrison at the time of the storm. They were comparatively
small, of the kind known as chatas, or chatten, a sort of coast boat of
slight draught, used for river work and for the conveyance of goods from
the Chagres to the cities on the Main. They had iron and brass guns
aboard them, which were hoisted out, and mounted in the fort. Captain
Morgan then picked a garrison of 500 buccaneers to hold the fort, under
a buccaneer named Norman. He placed 150 more in the ships in the
anchorage, and embarked the remainder in flat-bottomed boats for the
voyage up the Chagres.

It was the dry season, so that the river, at times so turbulent, was
dwindled to a tenth of its volume. In order that the hard work of
hauling boats over shallows might not be made still harder, Morgan gave
orders that the men should take but scanty stock of provisions. A few
maize cobs and a strip or two of charqui was all the travelling store in
the scrips his pilgrims carried. They hoped that they would find fresh
food in the Spanish strongholds, or ambuscades, which guarded the
passage over the isthmus.

[Illustration: THE ISTHMUS

The company set sail from San Lorenzo on the morning of the 12th (one
says the 18th) of January 1671. They numbered in all 1200 men, packed
into thirty-two canoas and the five chatas they had taken in the port.
His guides went on ahead in one of the chatas, with her guns aboard her
and the matches lit, and one Robert Delander, a buccaneer captain, in
command. The first day's sailing against a gentle current was pleasant
enough. In spite of the heat and the overcrowding of the boats, they
made six leagues between dawn and sunset, and anchored at a place called
De los Bracos. Here a number of the pirates went ashore to sleep "and
stretch their limbs, they being almost crippled with lying too much
crowded in the boats." They also foraged up and down for food in the
plantations; but the Spaniards had fled with all their stores. It was
the first day of the journey over the isthmus, yet many of the men had
already come to an end of their provisions. "The greatest part of them"
ate nothing all day, nor enjoyed "any other refreshment" than a pipe of
tobacco. The next day, "very early in the morning," before the sun
rose, they shoved off from the mooring-place. They rowed all day,
suffering much from the mosquitoes, but made little progress. The river
was fallen very low, so that they were rowing or poling over a series of
pools joined by shallow rapids. To each side of them were stretches of
black, alluvial mud, already springing green with shrubs and
water-plants. Every now and then, as they rowed on, on the dim,
sluggish, silent, steaming river, they butted a sleeping alligator as he
sunned in the shallows, or were stopped by a fallen tree, brought by the
summer floods and left to rot there. At twilight, when the crying of the
birds became more intense and the monkeys gathered to their screaming in
the treetops, the boats drew up to the bank at a planter's station, or
wayside shrine, known as Cruz de Juan Gallego. Here they went ashore to
sleep, still gnawed with famine, and faint with the hard day's rowing.
The guides told Henry Morgan that after another two leagues they might
leave the boats, and push through the woods on foot.

Early the next morning the admiral decided to leave the boats, for with
his men so faint from hunger he thought it dangerous to tax them with a
labour so severe as rowing. He left 160 men to protect the fleet, giving
them the strictest orders to remain aboard. "No man," he commanded,
"upon any pretext whatsoever, should dare to leave the boats and go
ashore." The woods there were so dark and thick that a Spanish garrison
might have lain within 100 yards of the fleet, and cut off any
stragglers who landed. Having given his orders, he chose out a gang of
macheteros, or men carrying the sharp sword-like machetes, to march
ahead of the main body, to cut a trackway in the pulpy green stuff. They
then set forward through the forest, over their ankles in swampy mud, up
to their knees sometimes in rotting leaves, clambering over giant tree
trunks, wading through stagnant brooks, staggering and slipping and
swearing, faint with famine; a very desperate gang of cut-throats. As
they marched, the things called garapatadas, or wood-ticks, of which
some six sorts flourish there, dropped down upon them in scores, to add
their burning bites to the venom of the mosquitoes. In a moist
atmosphere of at least 90°, with heavy arms to carry, that march must
have been terrible. Even the buccaneers, men hardened to the climate,
could not endure it: they straggled back to the boats, and re-embarked.

With a great deal of trouble the pirates dragged the boats "to a place
farther up the river, called Cedro Bueno," where they halted for the
stragglers, who drifted in during the evening. Here they went ashore to
a wretched bivouac, to lie about the camp fires, with their belts drawn
tight, chewing grass or aromatic leaves to allay their hunger. After
Cedro Bueno the river narrowed, so that there was rather more water to
float the canoas. The land, too, was less densely wooded, and easier for
the men to march upon. On the fourth day "the greatest part of the
Pirates marched by land, being led by one of the guides." Another guide
led the rest of them in the canoas; two boats going ahead of the main
fleet, one on each side of the river, to discover "the ambuscades of the
Spaniards." The Spaniards had lined the river-banks at intervals with
Indian spies, who were so "very dexterous" that they brought
intelligence of the coming of the pirates "six hours at least before
they came to any place." About noon on this day, as the boats neared
Torna Cavallos, one of the guides cried out that he saw an ambuscade.
"His voice caused infinite joy to all the Pirates," who made sure that
the fastness would be well provisioned, and that at last they might
"afford something to the ferment of their stomachs, which now was grown
so sharp that it did gnaw their very bowels." The place was carried with
a rush; but the redoubt was empty. The Spaniards had all fled away some
hours before, when their spies had come in from down the river. There
had been 500 Spaniards there standing to arms behind the barricade of
tree trunks. They had marched away with all their gear, save only a few
leather bags, "all empty," and a few crusts and bread crumbs "upon the
ground where they had eaten." There were a few shelter huts, thatched
with palm leaves, within the barricade. These the pirates tore to pieces
in the fury of their disappointment. They fell upon the leather bags
like hungry dogs quarrelling for a bone. They fought and wrangled for
the scraps of leather, and ate them greedily, "with frequent gulps of
water." Had they taken any Spaniards there "they would certainly in that
occasion [or want] have roasted or boiled" them "to satisfy their

Somewhat relieved by the scraps of leather, they marched on along the
river-bank to "another post called Torna Munni." Here they found a
second wall of tree trunks, loopholed for musketry, "but as barren and
desert as the former." They sought about in the woods for fruits or
roots, but could find nothing--"the Spaniards having been so provident
as not to leave behind them anywhere the least crumb of sustenance."
There was nothing for them but "those pieces of leather, so hard and
dry," a few of which had been saved "for supper" by the more provident.
He who had a little scrap of hide, would slice it into strips, "and beat
it between two stones, and rub it, often dipping it in the water of the
river, to render it by these means supple and tender." Lastly, the hair
was scraped off, and the piece "roasted or broiled" at the camp fire
upon a spit of lance wood. "And being thus cooked they cut it into small
morsels, and eat it," chewing each bit for several minutes as though
loth to lose it, and helping it down "with frequent gulps of water."
There was plenty of fish in the Chagres, but perhaps they had no lines.
It seems strange, however, that they made no attempt to kill some of the
myriads of birds and monkeys in the trees, or the edible snakes which
swarm in the grass, or, as a last resource, the alligators in the river.

Gaunt with hunger, they took the trail again after a night of misery at
Torna Munni. The going was slightly better, but there was still the
wood-ticks, the intense, damp heat, and the lust for food to fight
against. About noon they staggered in to Barbacoas, now a station on the
Isthmian Railway. There were a few huts at Barbacoas, for the place was
of some small importance. A native swinging bridge, made of bejuco cane,
was slung across the river there for the benefit of travellers going to
Porto Bello. An ambush had been laid at Barbacoas, but the Spaniards had
left the place, after sweeping it as bare as Torna Munni. The land was
in tillage near the huts, but the plantations were barren. "They
searched very narrowly, but could not find any person, animal or other
thing that was capable of relieving their extreme and ravenous hunger."
After a long search they chanced upon a sort of cupboard in the rocks,
"in which they found two sacks of meal, wheat, and like things, with two
great jars of wine, and certain fruits called Platanos," or large
bananas. Morgan very firmly refused to allow the buccaneers to use this
food. He reserved it strictly for those who were in greatest want,
thereby saving a number of lives. The dying men were given a little meal
and wine, and placed in the canoas, "and those commanded to land that
were in them before." They then marched on "with greater courage than
ever," till late into the night, when they lay down in a plundered bean

"On the sixth day" they were nearly at the end of their tether. They
dragged along slowly, some in boats, some in the woods, halting every
now and then in despair of going farther, and then staggering on again,
careless if they lived or died. Their lips were scummy with a sort of
green froth, caused by their eating grass and the leaves of trees. In
this condition they came at noon to a plantation, "where they found a
barn full of maize." They beat the door in in a few minutes, "and fell
to eating of it dry," till they were gorged with it. There was enough
for all, and plenty left to take away, so they distributed a great
quantity, "giving to every man a good allowance." With their knapsacks
full of corn cobs they marched on again, in happier case than they had
been in for several days. They soon came to "an ambuscade of Indians,"
but no Indians stayed within it to impeach their passage. On catching
sight of the barricade many buccaneers flung away their corn cobs, with
the merry improvidence of their kind, "with the sudden hopes they
conceived of finding all things in abundance." But the larder was as
bare as it had been in the other strongholds: it contained "neither
Indians, nor victuals, nor anything else." On the other side of the
river, however, there were many Indians, "a troop of a hundred," armed
with bows, "who escaped away through the agility of their feet." Some of
the pirates "leapt into the river" to attack these Indians, and to bring
them into camp as prisoners. They did not speed in their attempt, but
two or three of them were shot through the heart as they waded. Their
corpses drifted downstream, to catch in the oars of the canoas, a
horrible feast for the caymans. The others returned to their comrades on
the right or northern bank of the river among the howls of the Indians:
"Hey, you dogs, you, go on to the savannah; go on to the savannah, to
find out what's in pickle for you."

They could go no farther towards the savannah for that time, as they
wished to cross the river, and did not care to do so, in the presence of
an enemy, without due rest. They camped about big fires of wood,
according to their custom, but they slept badly, for the hunger and toil
had made them mutinous. The growling went up and down the camp till it
came to Morgan's ears. Most of the pirates were disgusted with their
admiral's "conduct," or leadership, and urged a speedy return to Port
Royal. Others, no less disgusted, swore savagely that they would see the
job through. Some, who had eaten more burnt leather than the others,
"did laugh and joke at all their discourses," and so laid a last straw
upon their burden. "In the meanwhile" the ruffian guide, "the rogue,
thief, and assassin," who had merited to die upon a wheel, was a great
comfort to them. "It would not be long," he kept saying, "before they
met with folk, when they would come to their own, and forget these
hungry times." So the night passed, round the red wood logs in the
clearing, among the steaming jungle.

Early in the morning of the seventh day they cleaned their arms, wiping
away the rust and fungus which had grown upon them. "Every one
discharged his pistol or musket, without bullet, to examine the security
of their firelocks." They then loaded with ball, and crossed the river
in the canoas. At midday they sighted Venta Cruz, the village, or little
town, which Drake had taken. The smoke was going up to heaven from the
Venta Cruz chimneys--a sight very cheering to these pirates. They had
"great joy and hopes of finding people in the town ... and plenty of
good cheer." They went on merrily, "making several arguments to one
another [like the gravediggers in _Hamlet_] upon those external
signs"--saying that there could be no smoke without a fire, and no fire
in such a climate save to cook by, and that, therefore, Venta Cruz
would be full of roast and boiled by the time they marched into its
Plaza. Thus did they cheer the march and the heavy labour at the oars as
far as the Venta Cruz jetty.

As they entered Venta Cruz at the double, "all sweating and panting"
with the hurry of their advance, they found the town deserted and in a
blaze of fire. There was nothing eatable there, for the place had been
swept clean, and then fired, by the retreating Spaniards. The only
houses not alight were "the store-houses and stables belonging the
King." These, being of stone, and Government property, had not been
kindled. The storehouses and stables were, however, empty. Not a horse
nor a mule nor an ass was in its stall. "They had not left behind them
any beast whatsoever, either alive or dead." Venta Cruz was as
profitless a booty as all the other stations. A few pariah dogs and cats
were in the street, as was perhaps natural, even at that date, in a
Central-American town. These were at once killed, and eaten half raw,
"with great appetite." Before they were despatched, a pirate lighted on
a treasure in a recess of the King's stables. He found there a stock of
wine, some fifteen or sixteen jars, or demijohns, of good Peruvian wine,
"and a leather sack full of bread." "But no sooner had they begun to
drink of the said wine when they fell sick, almost every man." Several
hundreds had had a cup or two of the drink, and these now judged
themselves poisoned, and "irrecoverably lost." They were not poisoned,
as it happened, but they had gone hungry for several days, living on
"manifold sorts of trash." The sudden use of wine and bread caused a
very natural sickness, such as comes to all who eat or drink greedily
after a bout of starving. The sickness upset them for the day, so that
the force remained there, at bivouac in the village, until the next
morning. During the halt Morgan landed all his men ("though never so
weak") from the canoas. He retained only one boat, which he hid, for
use as an advice boat, "to carry intelligence" to those down the river.
The rest of the canoas were sent downstream to the anchorage at Bueno
Cedro, where the chatas lay moored under a guard. He gave strict orders
to the rest of the pirates that they were not to leave the village save
in companies of 100 together. "One party of English soldiers stickled
not to contravene these commands, being tempted with the desire of
finding victuals." While they straggled in the tilled ground outside
Venta Cruz they were attacked "with great fury" by a number of Spaniards
and Indians, "who snatched up" one of them, and carried him off. What
was done to this one so snatched up we are not told. Probably he was
tortured to give information of the pirates' strength, and then hanged
up to a tree.

On the eighth day, in the early morning, the sick men being recovered,
Morgan thought they might proceed. He chose out an advance-guard of 200
of the strongest of his men, and sent them forward, with their matches
lighted, to clear the road. The road was a very narrow one, but paved
with cobble stones, and easy to the feet after the quagmires of the
previous week. The men went forward at a good pace, beating the thickets
on each side of the road. When they had marched some seven or eight
miles they were shot at from some Indian ambush. A shower of arrows fell
among them, but they could not see a trace of the enemy, till the
Indians, who had shot the arrows, broke from cover and ran to a second
fastness. A few stood firm, about a chief or cacique, "with full design
to fight and defend themselves." They fought very gallantly for a few
moments; but the pirates stormed their poor defence, and pistolled the
cacique, losing eight men killed and ten wounded before the Indians
broke. Shortly after this skirmish, the advance-guard left the wood,
coming to open, green grass-land "full of variegated meadows." On a hill
at a little distance they saw a number of Indians gathered, watching
their advance. They sent out a troop to capture some of these, but the
Indians escaped again, "through the agility of their feet," to reappear
a little later with their howls of scorn: "Hey, you dogs, you English
dogs, you. Get on to the savannah, you dogs, you cuckolds. On to the
savannah, and see what's coming to you." "While these things passed the
ten pirates that were wounded were dressed and plastered up."

In a little while the pirates seized a hilltop facing a ridge of hill
which shut them from the sight of Panama. In the valley between the two
hills was a thick little wood, where Morgan looked to find an ambush. He
sent his advance-guard of 200 men to search the thicket. As they
entered, some Spaniards and Indians entered from the opposite side, but
no powder was burnt, for the Spaniards stole away by a bypath, "and were
seen no more." That night a drenching shower of rain fell, blotting out
the landscape in a roaring grey film. It sent the pirates running hither
and thither to find some shelter "to preserve their arms from being
wet." Nearly all the huts and houses in the district had been fired by
the Indians, but the pirates found a few lonely shepherds' shealings,
big enough to hold all the weapons of the army and a few of the men.
Those who could not find a place among the muskets were constrained to
lie shivering in the open, enduring much hardship, for the rain did not
slacken till dawn.

At daybreak Morgan ordered them to march "while the fresh air of the
morning lasted"; for they were now in open country, on the green
savannah, where they would have no treetops to screen them from the
terrible sun. During their morning march they saw a troop of Spanish
horse, armed with spears, watching the advance at a safe distance, and
retiring as the pirates drew nearer. Shortly after this they topped a
steep rise, and lo! the smoke of Panama, and the blue Pacific, with her
sky-line trembling gently, and a ship under sail, with five boats, going
towards some emerald specks of islands. The clouds were being blown
across the sky. The sun was glorious over all that glorious picture,
over all the pasture, so green and fresh from the rain. There were the
snowy Andes in the distance, their peaks sharply notched on the clear
sky. Directly below them, in all her beauty, was the royal city of
Panama, only hidden from sight by a roll of green savannah.

Just at the foot of the rise, in a wealth of fat pasture, were numbers
of grazing cattle, horses, and asses--the droves of the citizens. The
pirates crept down, and shot a number of these, "chiefly asses," which
they promptly flayed, while some of their number gathered firewood. As
soon as the fires were lit the meat was blackened in the flame, and then
greedily swallowed in "convenient pieces or gobbets." "They more
resembled cannibals than Europeans at this banquet," for the blood ran
down the beards of many, so hungry were they for meat after the long
agony of the march. What they could not eat they packed in their
satchels. After a long midday rest they fell in again for the march,
sending fifty men ahead to take prisoners "if possibly they could," for
in all the nine days' tramp they had taken no one to give them
information of the Spaniards' strength. Towards sunset they saw a troop
of Spaniards spying on them, who hallooed at them, but at such a
distance that they could not distinguish what was said. As the sun set
"they came the first time within sight of the highest steeple of

This was a stirring cordial to the way-weary men limping down the
savannah. The sight of the sea was not more cheering to the Greeks than
the sight of the great gilt weathercock, shifting on the spire, to these
haggard ruffians with the blood not yet dry upon their beards. They
flung their hats into the air, and danced and shouted. All their
trumpets shouted a levity, their drums beat, and their colours were
displayed. They camped there, with songs and laughter, in sight of that
steeple, "waiting with impatience," like the French knights in the play,
for the slowly coming dawn. Their drums and trumpets made a merry music
to their singing, and they caroused so noisily that a troop of horsemen
rode out from Panama to see what was the matter. "They came almost
within musket-shot of the army, being preceded by a trumpet that sounded
marvellously well." They rode up "almost within musket-shot," but made
no attempt to draw the pirates' fire. They "hallooed aloud to the
Pirates, and threatened them," with "Hey, ye dogs, we shall meet ye," in
the manner of the Indians. Seven or eight of them stayed "hovering
thereabouts," riding along the camp until the day broke, to watch the
pirates' movements. As soon as their main body reached the town, and
reported what they had seen, the Governor ordered the city guns to open
on the pirates' camp. The biggest guns at once began a heavy fire, from
which one or two spent balls rolled slowly to the outposts without doing
any damage. At the same time, a strong party took up a position to the
rear of the camp, as though to cut off the retreat.

Morgan placed his sentries, and sent his men to supper. They feasted
merrily on their "pieces of bulls' and horses' flesh," and then lay down
on the grass to smoke a pipe of tobacco before turning in. That last
night's camp was peaceful and beautiful: the men were fed and near their
quarry, the sun had dried their wet clothes; the night was fine, the
stars shone, the Panama guns were harmless. They slept "with great
repose and huge satisfaction," careless of the chance of battle, and
anxious for the fight to begin.


Old Panama, the chief Spanish city in South America, with the one
exception of Cartagena, was built along the sea-beach, fronting the bay
of Panama, between the rivers Gallinero and Matasnillos. It was founded
between 1518 and 1520 by Pedrarias Davila, a poor adventurer, who came
to the Spanish Indies to supersede Balboa, having at that time "nothing
but a sword and buckler." Davila gave it the name of an Indian village
then standing on the site. The name means "abounding in fish." It soon
became the chief commercial city in those parts, for all the gold and
silver and precious merchandise of Peru and Chili were collected there
for transport to Porto Bello. At the time of Morgan's attack upon it, it
contained some 7000 houses, with a number of huts and hovels for the
slaves. The population, counting these latter, may have been as great as
30,000. Many of the houses were of extreme beauty, being built of an
aromatic rose wood, or "native cedar," ingeniously carved. Many were
built of stone in a Moorish fashion, with projecting upper storeys. It
had several stone monasteries and convents, and a great cathedral,
dedicated to St Anastasius, which was the most glorious building in
Spanish America. Its tower still stands as a landmark to sailors,
visible many miles to sea. The stones of it are decorated with defaced
carvings. Inside it, within the ruined walls, are palm and cedar trees,
green and beautiful, over the roots of which swarm the scarlet-spotted
coral snakes. The old town was never properly fortified. The isthmus
was accounted a sufficient protection to it, and the defences were
consequently weak. It was a town of merchants, who "thought only of
becoming rich, and cared little for the public good." They lived a very
stately life there, in houses hung with silk, stamped leather, and
Spanish paintings, drinking Peruvian wines out of cups of gold and
silver. The Genoese Company, a company of slavers trading with Guinea,
had a "stately house" there, with a spacious slave market, where the
blacks were sold over the morning glass. The Spanish King had some long
stone stables in the town, tended by a number of slaves. Here the horses
and mules for the recuas were stabled in long lines, like the stables of
a cavalry barrack. Near these were the royal storehouses, built of
stone, for the storage of the gold from the King's mines. There were
also 200 merchants' warehouses, built in one storey, round which the
slaves slept, under pent roofs.

Outside the city was the beautiful green savannah, a rolling sea of
grass, with islands of trees, cedar and palm, thickly tangled with the
many-coloured bindweeds. To one side of it, an arm of the sea crept
inland, to a small salt lagoon, which rippled at high tide, at the back
of the city. The creek was bridged to allow the Porto Bello carriers to
enter the town, and a small gatehouse or porter's lodge protected the
way. The bridge is a neat stone arch, still standing. The streets ran
east and west, "so that when the sun rises no one can walk in any of the
streets, because there is no shade whatever; and this is felt very much
as the heat is intense; and the sun is so prejudicial to health, that if
a man is exposed to its rays for a few hours, he will be attacked with a
fatal illness [pernicious fever], and this has happened to many." The
port was bad for shipping, because of the great rise and fall of the
tides. The bay is shallow, and ships could only come close in at high
water. At low water the town looked out upon a strip of sand and a mile
or more of very wet black mud. "At full moon, the waves frequently reach
the houses and enter those on that side of the town." The roadstead
afforded safe anchorage for the great ships coming up from Lima. Loading
and unloading was performed by launches, at high water, on days when the
surf was moderate. Small ships sailed close in at high tide, and beached

To landward there were many gardens and farms, where the Spaniards had
"planted many trees from Spain"--such as oranges, lemons, and figs.
There were also plantain walks, and a great plenty of pines, guavas,
onions, lettuces, and "alligator pears." Over the savannah roamed herds
of fat cattle. On the seashore, "close to the houses of the city," were
"quantities of very small mussels." The presence of these mussel beds
determined the site of the town, "because the Spaniards felt themselves
safe from hunger on account of these mussels."

The town is all gone now, saving the cathedral tower, where the sweet
Spanish bells once chimed, and the little stone bridge, worn by so many
mules' hoofs. There is dense tropical forest over the site of it, though
the foundations of several houses may be traced, and two or three walls
still stand, with brilliant creepers covering up the carved work. It is
not an easy place to reach, for it is some six miles from new Panama,
and the way lies through such a tangle of creepers, over such swampy
ground, poisonous with so many snakes, that it is little visited. It can
be reached by sea on a fine day at high tide if the surf be not too
boisterous. To landward of the present Panama there is a fine hill,
called Mount Ançon. A little to the east of this there is a roll of high
land, now a fruitful market-garden, or farm of orchards. This high land,
some five or six miles from the ruins, is known as Buccaneers' Hill. It
was from the summit of this high land that the pirates first saw the
city steeple. Local tradition points out a few old Spanish guns of small
size, brass and iron, at the near-by village of El Moro, as having been
left by Morgan's men. At the island of Taboga, in the bay of Panama,
they point with pride to a cave, the haunt of squid and crabs, as the
hiding-place of Spanish treasure. In the blackness there, they say, are
the golden sacramental vessels and jewelled vestments of the great
church of St Anastasius. They were hidden there at the time of the raid,
so effectually that they could never be recovered. We can learn of no
other local tradition concerning the sack and burning.

[Illustration: NEW PANAMA]

What old Panama was like we do not know, for we can trace no picture of
it. It was said to be the peer of Venice, "the painted city," at a time
when Venice was yet the "incomparable Queene." It could hardly have been
a second Venice, though its situation on that beautiful blue bay, with
the Andes snowy in the distance, and the islands, like great green gems,
to seaward, is lovely beyond words. It was filled with glorious houses,
carved and scented, and beautiful with costly things. The merchants
lived a languorous, luxurious life there, waited on by slaves, whom they
could burn or torture at their pleasure. It was "the greatest mart for
gold and silver in the whole world." There were pearl fisheries up and
down the bay, yielding the finest of pearls; and "golden Potosi"--the
tangible Eldorado, was not far off. The merchants of old Panama were,
perhaps, as stately fellows and as sumptuous in their ways of life as
any "on the Rialto." Their city is now a tangle of weeds and a heap of
sun-cracked limestone; their market-place is a swamp; their haven is a
stretch of surf-shaken mud, over which the pelicans go quarrelling for
the bodies of fish.

    _Authorities._--Exquemeling's "History"; "The Bucaniers of America."
    Don Guzman's Account, printed in the "Voyages and Adventures of
    Captain Bartholomew Sharp." Cal. State Papers: West Indies and
    Colonial Series. "Present State of Jamaica," 1683. "New History of
    Jamaica," 1740.

    For my account of Chagres I am indebted to friends long resident on
    the isthmus, and to Dampier's and Wafer's Voyages.



    The burning of the city--Buccaneer excesses--An abortive
    mutiny--Home--Morgan's defection

"On the tenth day, betimes in the morning," while the black and white
monkeys were at their dawn song, or early screaming, the pirates fell in
for the march, with their red flags flying and the drums and trumpets
making a battle music. They set out gallantly towards the city by the
road they had followed from Venta Cruz. Before they came under fire, one
of the guides advised Morgan to attack from another point. The
Spaniards, he said, had placed their heavy guns in position along the
probable line of their advance. Every clump of trees near the trackway
would be filled with Spanish sharpshooters, while they might expect
earth-works or trenches nearer to the city. He advised Morgan to make a
circuit, so as to approach the city through the forest--over the ground
on which new Panama was built, a year or two later. Morgan, therefore,
turned rather to the west of the highway, through some tropical
woodland, where the going was very irksome. As they left the woodland,
after a march of several hours, they again entered the savannah, at a
distance of about a mile and a half from the town. The ground here was
in sweeping folds, so that they had a little hill to climb before the
town lay open to them, at the edge of the sea, to the eastward of the
salt lagoon. When they topped this rise they saw before them "the
forces of the people of Panama, extended in battle array," between them
and the quarry.

The Spanish strength on this occasion, according to the narrative, was
as follows:--400 horse, of the finest horsemen in the world; twenty-four
companies of foot, each company mustering a full 100 men; and "sixty
Indians and some negroes." These last were "to drive two thousand wild
bulls and cause them to run over the English camp, and thus, by breaking
their files, put them into a total disorder and confusion." Morgan gives
the numbers as 2100 foot and 600 horse, with "two Droves of Cattel of
1500 apiece," one for each flank or for the angles of the rear. The
Spanish Governor, who had been "lately blooded 3 times for an
Erysipelas," had not done as well as he could have wished in the
preparation of an army of defence. He says that he had brought together
1400 coloured men, armed with "Carbins, Harquebusses, and Fowling
Pieces," the muskets having been lost at Chagres. He gives the number of
cavalry as 200, "mounted on the same tired Horses which had brought them
thither." He admits that there were "50 cow-keepers" and an
advance-guard of 300 foot. He had also five field-guns "covered with
leather." To these forces may be added the townsfolk capable of bearing
arms. These were not very numerous, for most of the inhabitants, as we
have seen, "thought only of getting rich and cared little for the public
good." They were now, however, in a cold sweat of fear at the sight of
the ragged battalion trooping down from the hilltop. They had dug
trenches for themselves within the city and had raised batteries to
sweep the important streets. They had also mounted cannon on the little
stone fort, or watchman's lodge, at the town end of the bridge across
the creek.

The sight of so many troops drawn out in order "surprised" the pirates
"with great fear." The droves of "wild bulls" pasturing on the savannah
grass were new to their experience; the cavalry they had met before in
Cuba and did not fear, nor did they reckon themselves much worse than
the Spanish foot; but they saw that the Spaniards outnumbered them by
more than two to one, and they recognised the advantage they had in
having a defensible city to fall back upon. The buccaneers were worn
with the long march, and in poor case for fighting. They halted at this
point, while Morgan formed them into a tertia, or division of three
battalions or troops, of which he commanded the right wing. The sight of
so many Spaniards halted below them set them grumbling in the ranks.
"Yea few or none there were but wished themselves at home, or at least
free from the obligation of that Engagement." There was, however,
nothing else for it. A "wavering condition of Mind" could not help them.
They had no alternative but "to fight resolutely, or die." They might
not look to get quarter "from an Enemy against whom they had committed
so many Cruelties."

Morgan formed his men in order, and sent out skirmishers to annoy the
Spanish troops, and to draw them from their position. A few shots were
exchanged; but the Spaniards were not to be tempted, nor was the ground
over which the skirmishers advanced at all suitable for moving troops.
Morgan, therefore, edged his men away to the left, to a little hill
beyond a dry gut or water-course--a position which the Spaniards could
not attack from more than one side owing to the nature of the ground,
which was boggy. Before they could form upon the lower slopes of the
hill the Spanish horse rode softly forward, shouting: "Viva el Rey!"
("Long live the King"), with a great display of courage. "But the field
being full of quaggs, and very soft under foot, they could not ply to
and fro, and wheel about, as they desired." When they had come to a
little beyond musket-shot "one Francisco Detarro," the colonel of the
cavalry, called out to his troopers to charge home upon the English van.
The horses at once broke into a gallop, and charged in "so furiously"
that Morgan had to strengthen his ranks to receive them, "we having no
Pikes" with which to gall the horses. As the men galloped forward, the
line of buccaneers made ready to fire. Each musketeer put one knee to
the ground, and touched off his piece, blasting the Spanish regiment
almost out of action at the one discharge. The charge had been pressed
so nearly home that the powder corns burnt the leading horses. Those who
survived the shock of the volley swung off to the right to re-form,
while the foot came on in their tracks "to try their Fortunes." They
were received with such a terrible fire that they never came to
handystrokes. They disputed the point for some hours, gradually falling
into disorder as their losses became more and more heavy. The cavalry
re-formed, and charged a second and a third time, with the result that
after two hours' fighting "the Spanish Horse was ruined, and almost all
killed." During the engagement of the foot, the Indians and negroes
tried their stratagem of the bulls. They drove the herds round the
flanking parties to the rear, and endeavoured to force them through the
English lines. "But the greatest part of that wild cattle ran away,
being frighted with the noise of the Battle. And some few, that broke
through the English Companies, did no other harm than to tear the
Colours in pieces; whereas the Buccaneers shooting them dead, left not
one to Trouble them thereabouts."

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF PANAMA]

Seeing the Spanish foot in some disorder, with many of their officers
killed and few of the men firing, Morgan plied them with shot and sent
his left wing forward as they fell back. The horse made one last gallant
attempt to break the English line, but the attempt caused their
complete destruction. At the same moment Morgan stormed down upon the
foot with all his strength. The Spaniards fired "the Shot they had in
their Muskets," and flung their weapons down, not caring to come to
handystrokes. They ran "everyone which way he could run"--an utter rout
of broken soldiers. The pirates were too fatigued to follow, but they
picked them off as they ran till they were out of musket-shot.

The buccaneers apparently then cleared away the stragglers, by
pistolling them wherever they could find them. In this employment they
beat through the shrubs by the sea, where many poor citizens had hidden
themselves after the final routing of the troops. Some monks who were
brought in to Captain Morgan were treated in the same manner, "for he,
being deaf to their Cries, commanded them to be instantly pistolled,"
which order was obeyed there and then. A captain or colonel of troops
was soon afterwards taken, and held to ransom after a strict
examination. He told Morgan that he might look to have great trouble in
winning the city, for the streets were all dug about with trenches and
mounted with heavy brass guns. He added that the main entrance to the
place was strongly fortified, and protected by a half company of fifty
men with eight brass demi-cannon.

Morgan now bade his men rest themselves and take food before pushing on
to the town. He held a review of his army before he marched, and found
that he had lost heavily--perhaps 200 men--while the Spaniards had lost
about three times that number. "The Pirates," we read, "were nothing
discouraged, seeing their number so much diminished but rather filled
with greater pride than before." The comparative heaviness of the
Spanish loss must have been very comforting. After they had rested and
eaten they set out towards the town, "plighting their Oaths to one
another in general, they would fight till never a man were left alive."
A few prisoners, who seemed rich enough to be held to ransom, were
marched with them under a guard of musketeers.

Long before they trod the streets of Panama, they were under fire from
the batteries, "some of which were charged with small pieces of iron,
and others with musket-bullets."

They lost men at every step; but their ranks kept steady, and street by
street the town was won. The main agony of the fight took place between
two and three o'clock, in the heat of the day, when the last Spanish
gunners were cut to pieces at their guns. After the last gun was taken,
a few Spaniards fired from street corners or from upper windows, but
these were promptly pistolled or knocked on the head. The town was in
the hands of the pirates by the time the bells chimed three that

As Morgan rested with his captains in the Plaza, after the heat of the
battle, word was brought to him that the city was on fire in several
places. Many have supposed that the town was fired by his orders, or by
some careless and drunken musketeer of his. It was not the buccaneer
custom to fire cities before they had sacked them, nor is it in the
least likely that Morgan would have burnt so glorious a town before he
had offered it to ransom. The Spaniards have always charged Morgan with
the crime, but it seems more probable that the Spanish Governor was the
guilty one. It is yet more probable that the fire was accidental. Most
of the Spanish houses were of wood, and at that season of the year the
timber would have been of extreme dryness, so that a lighted wad or
match end might have caused the conflagration. At the time when the fire
was first noticed, the pirates were raging through the town in search of
plunder. They may well have flung away their lighted matches to gather
up the spoils they found, and thus set fire to the place unwittingly.

Hearing that the town was burning, Morgan caused his trumpeters to sound
the assembly in the Plaza. When the pirates mustered, Morgan at once
told off men to quench the fire "by blowing up houses by gunpowder, and
pulling down others to stop its progress." He ordered strong guards to
patrol the streets and to stand sentry without the city. Lastly, he
forbade any member of the army "to dare to drink or taste any wine,"
giving out that it had all been poisoned beforehand by the Spaniards. He
feared that his men would get drunk unless he frightened them by some
such tale. With a drunken army rolling in the streets he could hardly
hope to hold the town against an enemy so lightly beaten as the
Spaniards. He also sent some sailors down to the beach to seize "a great
boat which had stuck in the mud of the port."

For all that the pirates could do, the fire spread rapidly, for the dry
cedar beams burned furiously. The warehouses full of merchandise, such
as silks, velvets, and fine linen, were not burned, but all the grand
houses of the merchants, where the life had been so stately, were
utterly gutted--all the Spanish pictures and coloured tapestries going
up in a blaze. The splendid house of the Genoese, where so many black
men had been bought and sold, was burned to the ground. The chief
streets were ruined before midnight, and the fire was not wholly
extinguished a month later when the pirates marched away. It continued
to burn and smoulder long after they had gone.

Having checked the riot among his army, Morgan sent a company of 150 men
back to the garrison at the mouth of the Chagres with news of his
success. Two other companies, of the same strength, he sent into the
woods, "being all very stout soldiers and well-armed," giving them
orders to bring in prisoners to hold to ransom. A third company was
sent to sea under a Captain Searles to capture a Spanish galleon which
had left the port, laden with gold and silver and the jewels of the
churches, a day or two before. The rest of his men camped out of doors,
in the green fields without the city, ready for any attack the Spaniards
might make upon them. Search parties rummaged all day among the burning
ruins, "especially in wells and cisterns," which yielded up many jewels
and fine gold plates. The warehouses were sacked, and many pirates made
themselves coats of silk and velvet to replace the rags they came in. It
is probable that they committed many excesses in the heat of the first
taking of the town, but one who was there has testified to the
comparative gentleness of their comportment when "the heat of the blood"
had cooled. "As to their women," he writes, "I know [not] or ever heard
of anything offered beyond their wills; something I know was cruelly
executed by Captain Collier [commander of one of the ships and one of
the chief officers of the army] in killing a Frier in the field after
quarter given; but for the Admiral he was noble enough to the vanquished
enemy." In fact, the

                        "Want of rest and victual
    Had made them chaste--they ravished very little"

--which matter must be laid to their credit.

A day or two was passed by the pirates in rummaging among the ruins,
eating and drinking, and watching the Spaniards as they moved in the
savannahs. Troops of Spaniards prowled there under arms, looking at
their burning houses and the grey smoke ever going upward. They did not
attack the pirates; they did not even fire at them from a distance. They
were broken men without a leader, only thankful to be allowed to watch
their blazing city. A number of them submitted to the armed men sent out
to bring in prisoners. A number lingered in the near-by forests in
great misery, living on grass and alligator eggs, the latter tasting
"like half-rotten musk"--a poor diet after "pheasants" and Peruvian

Morgan soon received word from Chagres castle that all was very well
with the garrison. Captain Norman, who had remained in charge, under
oath to keep the "bloody flag," or red pirates' banner, flying, "had
sent forth to sea two boats, to exercise piracy." These had hoisted
Spanish colours, and set to sea, meeting with a fine Spanish merchantman
that very same day. They chased this ship into the Chagres River, where
"the poor Spaniards" were caught in a snare under the guns of the fort.
Her cargo "consisted in victuals and provisions, that were all eatable
things," unlike the victuals given usually to sailors. Such a prize came
very opportunely, for the castle stores were running out, while the
ship's crew proved useful in the bitter work of earth carrying then
going on daily on the ramparts for the repairing of the palisado.
Hearing that the Chagres garrison was in such good case, and so well
able to exercise piracy without further help, Admiral Morgan resolved to
make a longer stay in the ruins of old Panama. He arranged "to send
forth daily parties of two hundred men" to roam the countryside, beating
the thickets for prisoners, and the prisoners for gold. These parties
ranged the country very thoroughly, gathering "in a short time, a huge
quantity of riches, and no less number of prisoners." These poor
creatures were shut up under a guard, to be brought out one by one for
examination. If they would not confess where they had hidden their gold,
nor where the gold of their neighbours lay, the pirates used them as
they had used their prisoners at Porto Bello. "Woolding," burning with
palm leaves, and racking out the arm-joints, seem to have been the most
popular tortures. Many who had no gold were brutally ill treated, and
then thrust through with a lance.

Among these diversions Admiral Morgan fell in love with a beautiful
Spanish lady, who appears to have been something of a paragon. The story
is not worth repeating, nor does it read quite sincerely, but it is very
probably true. John Exquemeling, who had no great love for Morgan,
declares that he was an eye-witness of the love-making, "and could never
have judged such constancy of mind and virtuous chastity to be found in
the world." The fiery Welshman did not win the lady, but we gather from
the evidence that he could have had the satisfaction of Matthew Arnold's
American, who consoled himself, in similar circumstances, with saying:
"Well, I guess I lowered her moral tone some."

During the first week of their stay in Panama, the ship they had sent to
sea returned with a booty of three small coast boats. Captain Searles
had sailed her over Panama Bay to the beautiful island of Taboga, in
order to fill fresh water and rob the inhabitants. Here they took "the
boatswain and most of the crew"[17] of the _Trinity_, a Spanish galleon,
"on board which were the Friers and Nuns, with all the old gentlemen and
Matrons of the Town, to the number of 1500 souls, besides an immense
Treasure in Silver and Gold." This galleon had seven small guns and ten
or twelve muskets for her whole defence. She was without provisions, and
desperately short of water, and she had "no more sails than the
uppermost sails of the mainmast." Her captain was "an old and stout
Spaniard, a native of Andalusia, in Spain, named Don Francisco de
Peralta." She was "very richly laden with all the King's Plate and great
quantity of riches of gold, pearl, jewels, and other most precious
goods, of all the best and richest merchants of Panama. On board of this
galleon were also the religious women, belonging to the nunnery of the
said city, who had embarked with them all the ornaments of their
church, consisting in great quantity of gold, plate, and other things of
great value." This most royal prize was even then slowly dipping past
Taboga, with her sea-sick holy folk praying heartily for the return of
the water casks. She could have made no possible defence against the
pirates had they gone at once in pursuit of her. But this the pirates
did not do. In the village at Taboga there was a wealthy merchant's
summer-house, with a cellar full of "several sorts of rich wines." A
bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, or as a bibulous wit once
said to the present writer: "A bottle now is worth a bath of it
to-morrow." Captain Searles and his men chose to drink a quiet bowl in
the cabin rather than go sail the blue seas after the golden galleon.
They made a rare brew of punch, of which they drank "logwood-cutters'
measure," or a gallon and a half a man. After this they knocked out
their tobacco pipes, and slept very pleasantly till the morning. They
woke "repenting of their negligence" and "totally wearied of the vices
and debaucheries aforesaid." With eyes red with drink they blinked at
the empty punch-bowls. Then with savage "morning-tempers" they damned
each other for a lot of lunkheads, and put to sea (in one of the Taboga
prizes) "to pursue the said galleon" with all speed. However, by this
time Don Peralta, a most gallant and resourceful captain, had brought
the golden _Trinity_ to a place of safety. Had she been taken, she would
have yielded a spoil hardly smaller than that taken by Cavendish in the
_Madre de Dios_ or that which Anson won in the Manila galleon. Several
waggon loads of golden chalices and candlesticks, with ropes of pearls,
bags of emeralds and bezoars, and bar upon bar of silver in the crude,
were thus bartered away for a sup of punch and a drunken chorus in the
cabin. Poor Captain Searles never prospered after. He went logwood
cutting a year or two later, and as a logwood cutter he arrived at the
Rio Summasenta, where he careened his ship at a sandy key, since known
as Searles Key. He was killed a few days afterwards, "in the western
lagune" there, "by one of his Company as they were cutting Logwood
together." That was the end of Captain Searles.

[Footnote 17: They had come ashore to get water.]

Morgan was very angry when he heard of the escape of the galleon. He at
once remanned the four prizes, and sent them out, with orders to scour
the seas till they found her. They cruised for more than a week,
examining every creek and inlet, beating up many a sluggish river, under
many leafy branches, but finding no trace of the _Trinity_. They gave up
the chase at last, and rested at Taboga, where, perhaps, some "rich
wines" were still in bin. They found a Payta ship at anchor at Taboga,
"laden with cloth, soap, sugar and biscuit, with twenty thousand pieces
of eight in ready money." She was "a reasonable good ship," but the
cargo, saving the money, was not much to their taste. They took the best
of it, and loaded it aboard her longboat, making the Taboga negroes act
as stevedores. They then set the negroes aboard the prize, and carried
her home to Panama, "some thing better satisfied of their voyage, yet
withal much discontented they could not meet with the galleon." It was
at Taboga, it seems, that the lady who so inflamed Sir Henry was made

At the end of three weeks of "woolding" and rummaging, Admiral Morgan
began to prepare for the journey home. He sent his men to look for mules
and horses on which to carry the plunder to the hidden canoas in the
river. He learned at this juncture that a number of the pirates intended
to leave him "by taking a ship that was in the port," and going to "rob
upon the South Sea." They had made all things ready, it seems, having
hidden "great quantity of provisions," powder, bullets, and water
casks, with which to store their ship. They had even packed the good
brass guns of the city, "where with they designed not only to equip the
said vessel but also to fortify themselves and raise batteries in some
island or other, which might serve them for a place of refuge." The
scheme was fascinating, and a very golden life they would have had of
it, those lucky mutineers, had not some spoil-sport come sneaking
privily to Morgan with a tale of what was toward. They might have seized
Cocos Island or Juan Fernandez, or "some other island," such as one of
the Enchanted, or Gallapagos, Islands, where the goddesses were thought
to dwell. That would have been a happier life than cutting logwood, up
to the knees in mud, in some drowned savannah of Campeachy.

However, just as the wine-bowl spoiled the project of the galleon, so
did the treachery of a lickspittle, surely one of the meanest of created
things, put an end to the mutiny. Morgan was not there to colonise
Pacific Oceans, but to sack Panama. He had no intention of losing half
his army for an imperial idea. He promptly discouraged the scheme by
burning all the boats in the roads. The ship or chata, which would have
been the flagship of the mutineers, was dismasted, and the masts and
rigging were added to the general bonfire. All the brass cannon they had
taken were nailed and spiked. Wooden bars were driven down their muzzles
as firmly as possible, and the wood was then watered to make it swell.
There was then no more talk of going a-cruising to found republics.

Morgan thought it wise to leave Panama as soon as possible, before a
second heresy arose among his merry men. He had heard that the Governor
of Panama was busily laying ambuscades "in the way by which he ought to
pass at his return." He, therefore, picked out a strong company of men,
including many of the mutineers, and sent them out into the woods to
find out the truth of the matter. They found that the report was false,
for a few Spanish prisoners, whom they captured, were able to tell them
how the scheme had failed. The Governor, it was true, had planned to
make "some opposition by the way," but none of the men remaining with
him would consent to "undertake any such enterprize." With this news the
troops marched back to Panama. While they were away, the poor prisoners
made every effort to raise money for their ransoms, but many were unable
to raise enough to satisfy their captors. Morgan had no wish to wait
till they could gather more, for by this time, no doubt, he had
satisfied himself that he had bled the country of all the gold it
contained. Nor did he care to wait till the Spaniards had plucked up
heart, and planted some musketeers along the banks of the Chagres. He
had horses and mules enough to carry the enormous heaps of plunder to
the river. It was plainly foolish to stay longer, for at any time a
force might attack him (by sea) from Lima or (by land) from Porto Bello.
He, therefore, gave the word for the army to prepare to march. He passed
his last evening in Panama (as we suppose) with the female paragon from
Taboga. The army had one last debauch over the punch-bowls round the
camp fires, and then fell in to muster, thinking rapturously of the inns
and brothels which waited for their custom at Port Royal.

[Illustration: SIR HENRY MORGAN]

"On the 24th of February, of the year 1671, Captain Morgan departed from
the city of Panama, or rather from the place where the said city of
Panama did stand; of the spoils whereof he carried with him one hundred
and seventy-five beasts of carriage, laden with silver, gold and other
precious things, besides six hundred prisoners more or less, between
men, women, children and slaves." Thus they marched out of the ruined
capital, over the green savannah, towards the river, where a halt was
called to order the army for the march to Venta Cruz. A troop of picked
marksmen was sent ahead to act as a scouting party; the rest of the
company marched in hollow square, with the prisoners in the hollow. In
this array they set forward towards Venta Cruz to the sound of drums and
trumpets, amid "lamentations, cries, shrieks and doleful sighs" from the
wretched women and children. Most of these poor creatures were fainting
with thirst and hunger, for it had been Morgan's policy to starve them,
in order "to excite them more earnestly to seek for money wherewith to
ransom themselves." "Many of the women," says the narrative, "begged of
Captain Morgan upon their knees, with infinite sighs and tears, he would
permit them to return to Panama, there to live in company of their dear
husbands and children, in little huts of straw which they would erect,
seeing they had no houses until the rebuilding of the city. But his
answer was: he came not thither to hear lamentations and cries, but
rather to seek money. Therefore they ought to seek out for that in the
first place, wherever it were to be had, and bring it to him, otherwise
he would assuredly transport them all to such places whither they cared
not to go." With this answer they had to remain content, as they lay in
camp, under strict guard, on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Early the next morning, "when the march began," "those lamentable cries
and shrieks were renewed, in so much as it would have caused compassion
in the hardest heart to hear them. But Captain Morgan, a man little
given to mercy, was not moved therewith in the least." They marched in
the same order as before, but on this day, we read, the Spaniards "were
punched and thrust in their backs and sides, with the blunt end of [the
pirates'] arms, to make them march the faster." The "beautiful and
virtuous lady" "was led prisoner by herself, between two Pirates," both
of whom, no doubt, wished the other dear charmer away. She, poor lady,
was crying out that she had asked two monks to fetch her ransom from a
certain hiding-place. They had taken the money, she cried, according to
her instruction, but they had used it to ransom certain "of their own
and particular friends." This evil deed "was discovered by a slave, who
brought a letter to the said lady." In time, her words were reported to
Captain Morgan, who held a court of inquiry there and then, to probe
into the truth of the matter. The monks made no denial of the fact,
"though under some frivolous excuses, of having diverted the money but
for a day or two, within which time they expected more sums to repay
it." The reply angered Morgan into releasing the poor woman, "detaining
the said religious men as prisoners in her place," and "using them
according to the deserts of their incompassionate intrigues." Probably
they were forced to run the gauntlet between two rows of pirates armed
with withes of bejuco.

A day's hard marching brought them to the ruins of Venta Cruz, on the
banks of the river, where the canoas lay waiting for them under a merry
boat guard. The army rested at Venta Cruz for three days, while maize
and rice were collected for the victualling of the boats. Many prisoners
succeeded in raising their ransoms during this three days' halt. Those
who failed, were carried down the river to San Lorenzo. On the 5th of
March the plunder was safely shipped, the army went aboard the canoas,
the prisoners (including some from Venta Cruz) were thrust into the
bottoms of the boats, and the homeward voyage began. The two monks who
had embezzled the lady's money escaped translation at this time, being
ransomed by their friends before the sailing of the fleet. The canoas
dropped down the river swiftly, with songs and cheers from the pirates,
till they came to some opening in the woods, half way across the
isthmus, where the banks were free enough from brush to allow them to
camp. Here they mustered in order, as though for a review, each man in
his place with his sword and firelock. Here Captain Morgan caused each
man to raise his right hand, and to swear solemnly that he had concealed
nothing privately, "even not so much as the value of sixpence." Captain
Morgan, a Welshman by birth, "having had some experience that those lewd
fellows would not much stickle to swear falsely in points of interest,
commanded every one to be searched very strictly, both in their clothes
and satchels and everywhere it might be presumed they had reserved
anything. Yea, to the intent this order might not be ill-taken by his
companions, he permitted himself to be searched, even to the very soles
of his shoes." One man out of each company was chosen to act as searcher
to his fellows, and a very strict search was made. "The French Pirates
were not well satisfied with this new custom of searching," but there
were not very many of them, and "they were forced to submit to it." When
the search was over, they re-embarked, and soon afterwards the current
caught them, and spun them down swiftly to the lion-like rock at the
river's mouth. They came safely to moorings below San Lorenzo on the 9th
of March. They found that most of the wounded they had left there had
died of fever, but the rest of the garrison was in good case, having
"exercised piracy" with profit all the time the army had been
plundering. There was "joy, and a full punch-bowl," in the castle rooms
that night.

Morgan now sent his Santa Katalina prisoners to Porto Bello in "a great
boat," demanding a ransom for Chagres castle, "threatening otherwise" to
blast it to pieces. "Those of Porto Bello," who needed all their money
to repair their own walls, replied that "They would not give one
farthing towards the ransom of the said castle, and that the English
might do with it as they pleased"--a sufficiently bold answer, which
sealed the fate of San Lorenzo. When the answer came, the men were again
mustered, and "the dividend was made of all the spoil they had purchased
in that voyage." Each man received his due share, "or rather what part
thereof Captain Morgan was pleased to give." There was general
dissatisfaction with "his proceedings in this particular," and many
shaggy ruffians "feared not to tell him openly" that he had "reserved
the best jewels to himself." They "judged it impossible" that the share
per man should be but a paltry 200 pieces of eight, or £50, after "so
many valuable booties and robberies." Why, they said, it is less than we
won at Porto Bello. Many swore fiercely that, if they had known how
small the booty was to prove, they would have seen Henry Morgan in gaol
before they 'listed. Why they did not tear him piecemeal, and heave him
into the sea, must remain a mystery. They contented themselves with
damning him to his face for a rogue and a thief, at the same time
praying that a red-hot hell might be his everlasting portion. "But
Captain Morgan," says the narrative, "was deaf to all these, and many
other complaints of this kind, having designed in his mind to cheat them
of as much as he could."

Deaf though he was, and callous, he had a fine regard for his own skin.
The oaths and curses which were shouted after him as he walked in the
castle made him "to fear the consequence thereof." He "thought it unsafe
to remain any longer time at Chagre," so he planned a master stroke to
defeat his enemies. The castle guns were dismounted, and hoisted aboard
his flagship. The castle walls were then blasted into pieces, the lower
batteries thrown down, and the houses burnt. When these things had been
done "he went secretly on board his own ship, without giving any notice
of his departure to his companions, nor calling any council, as he used
to do. Thus he set sail, and put out to sea, not bidding anybody adieu,
being only followed by three or four vessels of the fleet." The captains
of these ships, it was believed, had shared with him in the concealed

There was great fury among the buccaneers when Morgan's escape was
known. The French pirates were for putting to sea in pursuit, to blow
his ships out of the water, but Morgan had been sufficiently astute to
escape in the provision ships. The pirates left behind had not food
enough to stock their ships, and could not put to sea till more had been
gathered. While they cursed and raged at Chagres, Morgan sailed slowly
to Port Royal, where he furled his sails, and dropped anchor, after a
highly profitable cruise. The Governor received his percentage of the
profits, and Morgan at once began to levy recruits for the settling of
Santa Katalina.

As for his men, they stayed for some days in considerable misery at San
Lorenzo. They then set sail in companies, some for one place, some for
another, hoping to find food enough to bring them home. Some went to the
eastward, raiding the coast for food, and snapping up small coasting
vessels. Some went to the bay of Campeachy to cut logwood and to drink
rum punch. Others went along the Costa Rican coast to find turtle to
salt for victuals, and to careen their barnacled and wormy ships. One
strong company went to Cuba, where they sacked the Town of the Keys, and
won a good booty. Most of them came home, in time, but to those who
returned that home-coming was bitter.

Shortly after Morgan's return to Jamaica, a new Governor arrived from
England with orders to suppress the gangs of privateers. He had
instructions to proclaim a general pardon for all those buccaneers who
cared to take advantage of the proclamation within a given time. Those
who wished to leave "their naughty way of life" were to be encouraged by
grants of land (thirty-five acres apiece), so that they might not starve
when they forsook piracy. But this generous offer was merely a lure or
bait to bring the buccaneers to port, in order that the Governor might
mulct them "the tenths and fifteenths of their booty as the dues of the
Crown for granting them commissions." The news of the intended taxation
spread abroad among the pirates. They heard, too, that in future they
would find no rest in Port Royal; for this new Governor was earnest and
diligent in his governorship. They, therefore, kept away from Port
Royal, and made Tortuga their rendezvous, gradually allying themselves
with the French buccaneers, who had their stronghold there. Some of
them, who returned to Port Royal, were brought before the magistrate,
and hanged as pirates. Their old captain, Henry Morgan, left his former
way of life, and soon afterwards become Governor of Jamaica. He was so
very zealous in "discouraging" the buccaneers that the profession
gradually lost its standing. The best of its members took to logwood
cutting or to planting; the worst kept the seas, like water-Ishmaelites,
plundering the ships of all nations save their own. They haunted
Tortuga, the keys of Cuba, the creeks and inlets of the coast, and the
bays at the western end of Jamaica. They were able to do a great deal of
mischief; for there were many of them, and the English Colonial
governors could not spare many men-of-war to police the seas. Often the
pirates combined and made descents upon the coast as in the past. Henry
Morgan's defection did but drive them from their own pleasant haunt,
Port Royal. The "free-trade" of buccaneering throve as it had always
thriven. But about the time of Morgan's consulship we read of British
men-of-war helping to discourage the trade, and thenceforward the
buccaneers were without the support of the Colonial Government. Those
who sailed the seas after Morgan's time were public enemies, sailing
under the shadow of the gallows.

    _Authorities._--W. Nelson: "Five Years at Panama." P. Mimande:
    "Souvenirs d'un Echappé de Panama." A. Reclus: "Panama et Darien."
    A. Radford: "Jottings on Panama." J. de Acosta: "Voyages." S. de
    Champlain: "Narrative." Cieça de Leon: "Travels." Exquemeling:
    "Bucaniers of America." Don Perez de la Guzman: "Account of the Sack
    of Panama."

    I am also indebted to friends long resident in the present city of



    Campeachy--Logwood cutting--The march to Santa Maria

William Dampier, a Somersetshire man, who had a taste for roving, went
to the West Indies for the first time in 1674, about three years after
the sack of Panama. He was "then about twenty-two years old," with
several years of sea-service behind him. He had been to the north and to
the east, and had smelt powder in a King's ship during the Dutch wars.
He came to the West Indies to manage a plantation, working his way "as a
Seaman" aboard the ship of one Captain Kent. Planting sugar or cocoa on
Sixteen-Mile Walk in an island so full of jolly sinners proved to be but
dull work. Dampier tried it for some weeks, and then slipped away to sea
with a Port Royal trader, who plied about the coast, fetching the
planters' goods to town, and carrying European things, such as cloth,
iron, powder, or the like, to the planters' jetties along the coast.
That was a more pleasant life, for it took the young man all round the
island, to quiet plantings where old buccaneers were at work. These were
kindly fellows, always ready for a yarn with the shipmen who brought
their goods from Port Royal. They treated the young man well, giving him
yams, plantains, and sweet potatoes, with leave to wander through their
houses. "But after six or seven Months" Dampier "left that Employ," for
he had heard strange tales of the logwood cutters in Campeachy Bay, and
longed to see something of them. He, therefore, slipped aboard a small
Jamaica vessel which was going to the bay "to load logwood," with two
other ships in company. The cargo of his ship "was rum and sugar; a very
good Commodity for the Log-wood Cutters, who were then about 250 Men,
most English." When they anchored off One Bush Key, by the oyster banks
and "low Mangrovy Land," these lumbermen came aboard for drink, buying
rum by the gallon or firkin, besides some which had been brewed into
punch. They stayed aboard, drinking, till the casks gave out, firing off
their small-arms with every health, and making a dreadful racket in that
still lagoon, where the silence was seldom so violently broken. The
logwood began to come aboard a day or two later; and Dampier sometimes
went ashore with the boat for it, on which occasions he visited the huts
of the woodmen, and ate some merry meals with them, "with Pork and
Pease, or Beef and Dough-boys," not to mention "Drams or Punch."

On the voyage home he was chased by Spaniards, who "fired a Gun" at the
ketch, but could not fetch her alongside.

It was an easy life aboard that little ketch; for every morning they
fished for their suppers, and at no time was any work done unless the
ship was actually in peril of wreck. While they were lazying slowly
eastward, "tumbling like an Egg-shell in the Sea," her captain ran her
on the Alcranes, a collection of sandy little islands, where they stayed
for some days before they found a passage out to sea. They spent the
days in fishing, or flinging pebbles at the rats, or killing boobies,
and then set sail again, arriving after some days' sailing, at the Isles
of Pines.

Here they landed to fill fresh water at the brooks, among the sprays of
red mangrove, which grew thickly at the water's edge. They also took
ashore their "two bad Fowling-pieces," with intent to kill a wild hog
or cow, being then in want of food, for the ship's provisions had given
out. They did not kill any meat for all their hunting, nor did they
catch much fish. Their ill success tempted the sailors to make for the
Cuban keys, where they thought they would find great abundance, "either
Fish or Flesh." The Cuban keys were favourite haunts of the buccaneers,
but it was dangerous for a small ship like the ketch to venture in among
them. On Cape Corientes there was a Spanish garrison of forty soldiers,
chiefly mulattoes and caribs, who owned a swift periagua, fitted with
oars and sails. They kept sentinels always upon the Cape, and whenever a
ship hove in sight they would "launch out," and seize her, and cut the
throats of all on board, "for fear of telling Tales." Fear of this
garrison, and the prudent suggestion of Dampier--that "it was as
probable that we might get as little Food in the South Keys, as we did
at Pines, where, though there was plenty of Beefs and Hogs, yet we could
not to tell how to get any--" at last prevailed upon the seamen to try
for Jamaica. They were without food of any kind, save a little flour
from the bottoms of the casks, and two "Barrels of Beef," which they had
taken west to sell, "but 'twas so bad that none would buy it." On a
porridge of this meat, chopped up with mouldy flour, they contrived to
keep alive, "jogging on" towards the east till they made Jamaica. They
arrived off Blewfield's Point thirteen weeks after leaving Campeachy,
and, as Dampier says: "I think never any vessel before nor since made
such Traverses ... as we did.... We got as much Experience as if we had
been sent out on a Design." However, they dropped their anchor "at
Nigrill" "about three a Clock in the Afternoon," and sent in the boat
for fruit and poultry. One or two sea-captains, whose ketches were at
anchor there, came out to welcome the new arrival. In the little
"Cabbin," where the lamp swung in gimbals, the sailors "were very busie,
going to drink a Bowl of Punch, ... after our long Fatigue and Fasting."
The thirsty sea-captains, bronzed by the sun, came stumping down the
ladder to bear a hand. One captain, "Mr John Hooker," said that he was
under "Oath to drink but three Draughts of Strong Liquor a Day." The
bowl, which had not been touched, lay with him, with six quarts of good
rum punch inside it. This Mr Hooker, "putting the Bowl to his Head,
turn'd it off at one Draught"--he being under oath, and, doubtless,
thirsty. "And so, making himself drunk, disappointed us of our
Expectations, till we made another Bowl." Thus with good cheer did they
recruit themselves in that hot climate after long sailing of the seas.

Dampier passed the next few weeks in Port Royal, thinking of the jolly
life at One Bush Key, and of the little huts, so snugly thatched, and of
the camp fires, when the embers glowed so redly at night before the moon
rose. The thought of the logwood cutters passing to and fro about those
camp fires, to the brandy barrel or the smoking barbecue, was pleasant
to him. He felt inclined "to spend some Time at the Logwood Trade," much
as a young gentleman of that age would have spent "some Time" on the
grand tour with a tutor. He had a little gold laid by, so that he was
able to lay in a stock of necessaries for the trade--such as "Hatchets,
Axes, Long Knives, Saws, Wedges, etc., a Pavillion to sleep in, a Gun
with Powder and Shot, etc." When all was ready, he went aboard a New
England ship, and sailed for Campeachy, where he settled "in the West
Creek of the West Lagoon" with some old logwood cutters who knew the

Logwood cutting was then a very profitable business, for the wood
fetched from £70 to £100 a ton in the European markets. The wood is very
dense, and so heavy that it sinks in water. The work of cutting it, and
bringing it to the ships, in the rough Campeachy country, where there
were no roads, was very hard. The logwood cutters were, therefore, men
of muscle, fond of violent work. Nearly all of them in Dampier's time
were buccaneers who had lost their old trade. They were "sturdy, strong
Fellows," able to carry "Burthens of three or four hundred Weight," and
"contented to labour very hard." Their hands and arms were always dyed a
fine scarlet with the continuous rubbing of the wood, and their clothes
always smelt of the little yellow logwood flowers, which smell very
sweet and strong, at most seasons of the year. The life lived by the
lumbermen was wild, rough, and merry. They had each of them a tent, or a
strongly thatched hut, to live in, and most of them had an Indian woman
or a negress to cook their food. Some of them had white wives, which
they bought at Jamaica for about thirty pounds apiece, or five pounds
more than the cost of a black woman. As a rule, they lived close to the
lips of the creeks, "for the benefit of the Sea-Breezes," in little
villages of twenty or thirty together. They slept in hammocks, or in
Indian cots, raised some three or four feet from the ground, to allow
for any sudden flood which the heavy rains might raise. They cooked
their food on a sort of barbecue strewn with earth. For chairs they used
logs of wood or stout rails supported on crutches. On the Saturday in
each week they left their saws and axes and tramped out into the woods
to kill beef for the following week. In the wet seasons, when the
savannahs were flooded, they hunted the cattle in canoas by rowing near
to the higher grass-lands where the beasts were at graze. Sometimes a
wounded steer would charge the canoa, and spill the huntsmen in the
water, where the alligators nipped them. In the dry months, the hunters
went on foot. When they killed a steer they cut the body into four,
flung away the bones, and cut a big hole in each quarter. Each of the
four men of the hunting party then thrust his head through the hole in
one of the quarters, and put "it on like a Frock," and so trudged home.
If the sun were hot, and the beef heavy, the wearer cut some off, and
flung it away. This weekly hunting was "a Diversion pleasant enough"
after the five days' hacking at the red wood near the lagoon-banks. The
meat, when brought to camp, was boucanned or jerked--that is, dried
crisp in the sun. A quarter of a steer a man was the week's meat
allowance. If a man wanted fish or game, in addition, he had to obtain
it for himself. This diet was supplemented by the local fruits, and by
stores purchased from the ships--such as dried pease, or flour to make

Men who worked hard under a tropical sun, in woods sometimes flooded to
a depth of two feet, could hardly be expected to take a pride in their
personal appearance. One little vanity they had, and apparently one
only--they were fond of perfumes. They used to kill the alligator for
his musk-sacs, which they thought "as good civet as any in the world."
Each logwood cutter carried a musk-sac in his hat to diffuse scent about
him, "sweet as Arabian winds when fruits are ripe," wheresoever his
business led him.

The logwood cutters usually formed into little companies of from four to
twelve men each. The actual "cutters" had less to do than the other
members, for they merely felled the trees. Others sawed and hacked the
tree trunks into logs. The boss, or chief man in the gang, then chipped
away the white sappy rind surrounding the scarlet heart with its
crystals of brilliant red. If the tree were very big (and some were six
feet round) they split the bole by gunpowder. The red hearts alone were
exported, as it is the scarlet crystal (which dries to a dull black
after cutting) which gives the wood its value in dyeing. When the timber
had been properly cut and trimmed it was dragged to the water's edge,
and stacked there ready for the merchants. The chips burnt very well,
"making a clear strong fire, and very lasting," in which the rovers used
to harden "the Steels of their Fire Arms when they were faulty."

When a ship arrived at One Bush Key the logwood cutters went aboard her
for rum and sugar. It was the custom for the ship's captain to give them
free drinks on the day of his arrival, "and every Man will pay honestly
for what he drinks afterwards." If the captain did not set the rum punch
flowing with sufficient liberality they would "pay him with their worst
Wood," and "commonly" they "had a stock of such" ready for the niggard
when he came. Often, indeed, they would give such a one a load of hollow
logs "filled with dirt in the middle, and both ends plugg'd up with a
piece of the same." But if the captain commanding were "true steel, an
old bold blade, one of the old buccaneers, a hearty brave toss-pot, a
trump, a true twopenny"--why, then, they would spend thirty or forty
pounds apiece in a drinking bout aboard his ship, "carousing and firing
of Guns three or four days together." They were a careless company,
concerned rather in "the squandering of life away" than in its
preservation. Drink and song, and the firing of guns, and a week's work
chipping blood-wood, and then another drunkenness, was the story of
their life there. Any "sober men" who came thither were soon "debauched"
by "the old Standards," and took to "Wickedness" and "careless Rioting."
Those who found the work too hard used to go hunting in the woods.
Often enough they marched to the woods in companies, to sack the Indian
villages, to bring away women for their solace, and men slaves to sell
at Jamaica. They also robbed the Indians' huts of honey, cocoa, and
maize, but then the Indians were "very melancholy and thoughtful" and
plainly designed by God as game for logwood cutters.

In the end the Spaniards fell upon the logwood men and carried them away
to Mexico and Vera Cruz, sending some to the silver mines, and selling
the others to tradesmen. As slaves they passed the next few years, till
they escaped to the coast. One of those who escaped told how he saw a
Captain Buckenham, once a famous man at those old drinking bouts, and
owner of a sugar ship, working as a slave in the city of Mexico. "He saw
Captain Buckenham, with a Log chained to his Leg, and a Basket at his
Back, crying Bread about the Streets for a Baker his Master."

In this society of logwood cutters Dampier served a brief
apprenticeship. He must have heard many strange tales, and jolly songs,
around the camp fires of his mates, but none of them, apparently, were
fit to print. He went hunting cattle, and got himself "bushed," or
marooned--that is, lost--and had a narrow escape from dying in the
woods. He helped at the cutting and trimming of the red wood, and at the
curing of the hides of the slaughtered steers. When ships arrived he
took his sup of rum, and fired his pistol, with the best of them. Had he
stayed there any length of time he would have become a master logwood
merchant, and so "gotten an Estate"; but luck was against him.

In June 1676, when he was recovering from a guinea-worm, a creature
which nests in one's ankle, and causes great torment, a storm, or
"South," reduced the logwood cutters of those parts to misery. The South
was "long foretold," by the coming in of many sea-birds to the shore's
shelter, but the lumbermen "believed it was a certain Token of the
Arrival of Ships," and took no precautions against tempest. Two days
later the wind broke upon them furiously, scattering their huts like
scraps of paper. The creek began to rise "faster than I ever saw it do
in the greatest Spring Tide," so that, by noon, the poor wretches,
huddled as they were in a hut, without fire, were fain to make ready a
canoa to save themselves from drowning. The trees in the woods were torn
up by the roots, "and tumbled down strangely across each other." The
ships in the creek were blown from their anchors. Two of them were
driven off to sea, dipping their bows clean under, and making shocking
weather of it. One of them was lost in the bay, being whelmed by a green

The storm destroyed all the tools and provisions of the lumbermen, and
left Dampier destitute. His illness, with the poisonous worm in his leg,
had kept him from work for some weeks, so that he had no cords of red
wood ready cut, "as the old Standards had," to buy him new tools and new
stores. Many of the men were in the same case, so they agreed with the
captains of two pirate ketches which called at the creek at that time,
to go a cruise to the west to seek their fortunes. They cruised up and
down the bay "and made many Descents into the country," "where we got
Indian Corn to eat with the Beef, and other Flesh, that we got by the
way." They also attacked Alvarado, a little, protected city on the river
of that name, but they lost heavily in the attack. Of the sixty pirates
engaged, ten or eleven were killed or desperately wounded. The fort was
not surrendered for four or five hours, by which time the citizens had
put their treasure into boats, and rowed it upstream to safety. It was
dark by the time the pirates won the fort, so that pursuit was out of
the question. They rested there that night, and spent the next day
foraging. They killed and salted a number of beeves, and routed out much
salt fish and Indian corn, "as much as we could stow away." They also
took a number of poultry, which the Spaniards were fattening in coops;
and nearly a hundred tame parrots, "yellow and red," which "would prate
very prettily." In short they heaped their decks with hen-coops,
parrot-cages, quarters of beef, casks of salt fish, and baskets full of
maize. In this state, the ships lay at anchor, with their men loafing on
deck with their tobacco, bidding the "yellow and red" parrots to say
"Damn," or "Pretty Polly," or other ribaldry. But before any parrot
could have lost his Spanish accent, the pirates were called from their
lessons by the sight of seven Spanish warships, under all sail, coming
up to the river-bar from La Vera Cruz. Their ports were up, and their
guns were run out, and they were not a mile away when the pirates first
saw them. As it happened, the River Alvarado was full of water, so that
these great vessels "could scarce stem the current." This piece of luck
saved the pirates, for it gave them time to make sail, and to clear the
bar before the Spaniards entered the river. As they dropped down the
stream, they hove the clutter from the decks. Many a Pretty Polly there
quenched her blasphemy in water, and many a lump of beef went to the mud
to gorge the alligators. The litter was all overboard, and the men
stripped to fight the guns, by the time the tide had swept them over the
bar. At this moment they came within range of the Spanish flagship, the
_Toro_, of ten guns and 100 men. She was to windward of them, and
perilously close aboard, and her guns sent some cannon-balls into them,
without doing any serious harm. Dampier was in the leading ship, which
stood to the eastward, followed by her consort, as soon as she was over
the bar. After her came the _Toro_, followed by a ship of four guns, and
by five smaller vessels manned with musketeers, "and the Vessels
barricadoed round with Bull-hides Breast high." The _Toro_ ranged up on
the quarter of Dampier's ship, "designing to board" her. The pirates
dragged their cannon aft, and fired at her repeatedly, "in hopes to have
lamed either Mast or Yard." As they failed to carry away her spars, they
waited till "she was shearing aboard," when they rammed the helm hard
up, "gave her a good Volley," and wore ship. As soon as she was round on
the other tack, she stood to the westward, passing down the Spanish line
under a heavy fire. The _Toro_ held to her course, after the second
pirate ship, with the six ships of the fleet following in her wake. The
second pirate ship was much galled by the fleet's fire, and ran great
risk of being taken. Dampier's ship held to the westward, till she was
about a mile to windward of the other ships. She then tacked, and ran
down to assist her consort, "who was hard put to it." As she ran down,
she opened fire on the _Toro_, "who fell off, and shook her ears,"
edging in to the shore, to escape, with her fleet after her. They made
no fight of it, but tacked and hauled to the wind "and stood away for
Alvarado." The pirates were very glad to see the last of them; "and we,
glad of the Deliverance, went away to the Eastward." On the way, they
visited all the sandy bays of the coast to look for "munjack," "a sort
of Pitch or Bitumen which we find in Lumps." When corrected with oil or
tallow this natural pitch served very well for the paying of the seams
"both of Ships and Canoas."

After this adventure, Dampier returned to the lumber camp, and passed
about a year there, cutting wood. Then, for some reason, he determined
to leave the Indies, and to visit England; and though he had planned to
return to Campeachy, after he had been home, he never did so. It seems
that he was afraid of living in that undefended place, among those
drunken mates of his. They were at all times at the mercy of a Spanish
man-of-war, and Dampier "always feared" that a Spanish prison would be
his lot if he stayed there. It was the lot of his imprudent mates, "the
old Standards," a few months after he had sailed for the Thames.

After a short stay in England, Dampier sailed for Jamaica, with a
general cargo. He sold his goods at Port Royal, but did not follow his
original plan of buying rum and sugar, and going west as a logwood
merchant. About Christmas 1679 he bought a small estate in Dorsetshire,
"of one whose Title to it" he was "well assured of." He was ready to
sail for England, to take charge of this estate, and to settle down as a
farmer, when he met "one Mr Hobby," at a tavern, who asked him to go "a
short trading voyage to the Country of the Moskito's." Dampier, who was
a little short of gold at the moment, was very willing to fill his purse
before sailing north. He therefore consented to go with Mr Hobby, whose
ship was then ready for the sea. He "went on board Mr Hobby," and a fair
wind blew them clear of Port Royal. A day or two of easy sailing brought
them to Negril Bay, "at the West End of Jamaica," where Dampier had
anchored before, when the valorous captain drained the punch-bowl. The
bay was full of shipping, for Captains Coxon, Sawkins, Sharp, and other
buccaneers, were lying there filling their water casks. They had the red
wheft flying, for they were bound on the account, to raid the Main. The
boats alongside them were full of meat and barrels. Mr Hobby's men did
not wait to learn more than the fact that the ships were going cruising.
They dumped their chests into the dinghy, and rowed aboard of them, and
'listed themselves among the sunburnt ruffians who were hoisting out the
water breakers. Dampier and Mr Hobby were left alone on their ship,
within hearing of the buccaneers, who sang, and danced to the fiddle,
and clinked the cannikin, till the moon had set. For three or four days
they stayed there, hearing the merriment of the rovers, but at the end
of the fourth day Dampier wearied of Mr Hobby, and joined the
buccaneers, who were glad to have him.

A day or two after Christmas 1679 they got their anchors and set sail.
They shaped their course for Porto Bello, which had recovered something
of its old wealth and beauty, in the years of peace it had enjoyed since
Morgan sacked it. They landed 200 men to the eastward of the town, "at
such a distance" that the march "occupied them three nights." During the
day they lay in ambush in the woods. As they "came to the town" a negro
saw them, and ran to set the bells ringing, to call out the troops. The
buccaneers followed him so closely that the town was theirs before the
troops could muster. They stayed there forty-eight hours gathering
plunder, and then marched back to their ships staggering under a great
weight of gold. They shared thirty or forty pounds a man from this raid.
Afterwards they harried the coast, east and west, and made many rich
captures. Sawkins, it seems, was particularly lucky, for he made a haul
of 1000 chests of indigo. Warrants were out for all these pirates, and
had they been taken they would most surely have been hanged.

After these adventures, the squadron made for "a place called Boco del
Toro," "an opening between two islands between Chagres and Veragua,"
where "the general rendezvous of the fleet" had been arranged. The ships
anchored here, with one or two new-comers, including a French ship
commanded by a Captain Bournano, who had been raiding on the isthmus,
"near the South Sea," but a few days before. At the council aboard
Captain Sawkins' ship, it was given out, to all the assembled
buccaneers, that the Spaniards had made peace with the Darien Indians.
This was bad news; but Captain Bournano was able to assure the company
"that since the conclusion of the said peace, they had been already
tried, and found very faithful"; for they had been of service to him in
his late foray. He added that they had offered to guide him "to a great
and very rich place called Tocamora," and that he had promised to come
to them "with more ships and men," in three months' time. The buccaneers
thought that Tocamora, apart from the beauty of the name, appeared to
promise gold, so they decided to go thither as soon as they had careened
and refitted. Boca del Toro, the anchorage in which they lay, was full
of "green tortoise" for ships short of food. There were handy creeks,
among the islands, for the ships to careen in, when their hulls were
foul. The pirates hauled their ships into the creeks, and there hove
them down, while their Moskito allies speared the tortoise, and the
manatee, along the coast, and afterwards salted the flesh for

As soon as the squadron was ready, they mustered at Water Key, and set
sail for Golden Island, where they meant to hold a final council. On the
way to the eastward they put in at the Samballoes, or islands of San
Blas, to fill fresh water, and to buy fruit from the Indians. When the
anchors held, the Indians came aboard with fruit, venison, and native
cloth, to exchange for edged iron tools, and red and green beads. They
were tall men, smeared with black paint (the women used red, much as in
Europe), and each Indian's nose was hung with a plate of gold or silver.
Among the women were a few albinos, who were said to see better in the
dark than in the light. "These Indians misliked our design for
Tocamora," because the way thither was mountainous and barren and
certain to be uninhabited. A force going thither would be sure to starve
on the road, they said, but it would be an easy matter to march to
Panama, as Drake had marched. New Panama was already a rich city, so
that they would not "fail of making a good voyage by going thither."
This advice of the Indians impressed the buccaneers. They determined to
abandon the Tocamora project as too dangerous. Most of them were in
favour of going to sack Panama. But Captain Bournano, and Captain Row,
who commanded about a hundred Frenchmen between them, refused to take
their men on "a long march by land." Perhaps they remembered how Morgan
had treated the French buccaneers after his Panama raid, nine years
before. They therefore remained at anchor when the squadron parted
company. An Indian chief, Captain Andreas, came aboard the English
flagship. The bloody colours were hoisted, and a gun fired in farewell.
The English ships then loosed their top-sails and stood away for Golden
Island, to an anchorage they knew of, where a final muster could be
held. They dropped anchor there, "being in all seven sail," on 3rd April

Their strength at the Samballoes had been as follows:--

                                  Tons    Guns    Men
  Captain Coxon in a ship of       80       8      97
  Captain Harris       "          150      25     107
  Captain Sawkins      "           16       1      35
  Captain Sharp        "           25       2      40
  Captain Cook         "           35       0      43
  Captain Alleston     "           18       0      24
  Captain Macket       "           14       0      20

but of these 366 buccaneers a few had remained behind with the

While they lay at Golden Island, the Indians brought them word of "a
town called Santa Maria," on the Rio Santa Maria, near the Gulf of San
Miguel, on the Pacific coast. It was a garrison town, with four
companies of musketeers in its fort, for there were gold mines in the
hills behind it. The gold caravans went from it, once a month in the
dry seasons, to Panama. If the place failed to yield them a booty, the
buccaneers were determined to attack new Panama. Had they done so they
would probably have destroyed the place, for though the new city was
something stronger than the old, the garrison was in the interior
fighting the Indians. The design on Santa Maria was popular. On the
matter being put to the vote it was carried without protest. The
buccaneers passed the 4th of April in arranging details, and picking a
party to protect the ships during their absence. They arranged that
Captains Alleston and Macket, with about twenty-five or thirty seamen,
should remain in the anchorage as a ship's guard. The remainder of the
buccaneers, numbering 331 able-bodied men (seven of whom were French),
were to march with the colours the next morning.

On the 5th of April 1680, these 331 adventurers dropped across the
channel from Golden Island, and landed on the isthmus, somewhere near
Drake's old anchorage. Captain Bartholomew Sharp, of "the dangerous
voyage and bold assaults," came first, with some Indian guides, one of
whom helped the Captain, who was sick and faint with a fever. This
vanguard "had a red flag, with a bunch of white and green ribbons." The
second company, or main battle, was led by the admiral, Richard Sawkins,
who "had a red flag striped with yellow." The third and fourth
companies, which were under one captain (Captain Peter Harris), had two
green flags. The fifth and sixth companies, under Captain John Coxon,
"had each of them a red flag." A few of Alleston's and Macket's men
carried arms under Coxon in these companies. The rear-guard was led by
Captain Edmund Cook, "with red colours striped with yellow, with a hand
and sword for his device." "All or most" of the men who landed, "were
armed with a French fuzee" (or musket), a pistol and hanger, with two
pounds of powder and "proportionable bullet." Each of them carried a
scrip or satchel containing "three or four cakes of bread," or
doughboys, weighing half-a-pound apiece, with some modicum of turtle
flesh. "For drink the rivers afforded enough."

Among the men who went ashore in that company were William Dampier, the
author of the best books of voyages in the language; Lionel Wafer, the
chirurgeon of the party, who wrote a description of the isthmus; Mr
Basil Ringrose, who kept an intimate record of the foray; and Captain
Bartholomew Sharp, who also kept a journal, but whose writings are less
reliable than those of the other three. It is not often that three
historians of such supreme merit as Dampier, Wafer, and Ringrose, are
associated in a collaboration so charming, as a piratical raid. Wafer
had been a surgeon in Port Royal, but Edmund Cook had shown him the
delights of roving, and the cruise he had made to Cartagena had
confirmed him in that way of life. Basil Ringrose had but lately arrived
at the Indies, and it is not known what induced him to go buccaneering.
He was a good cartographer, and had as strong a bent towards the
description of natural phenomena, as Dampier had. He probably followed
the pirates in order to see the world, and to get some money, and to
extend his knowledge. Sharp had been a pirate for some years, and there
was a warrant out for him at Jamaica for his share in the sack of Porto
Bello. With Dampier's history the reader has been made acquainted.

The Indians, under Captain Andreas, led the buccaneers from the
landing-place "through a small skirt of wood," beyond which was a league
of sandy beach. "After that, we went two leagues directly up a woody
valley, where we saw here and there an old plantation, and had a very
good path to march in." By dusk they had arrived at a river-bank,
beneath which the water lay in pools, joined by trickles and little
runlets, which babbled over sun-bleached pebbles. They built themselves
huts in this place, about a great Indian hut which stood upon the
river-bank. They slept there that night, "having nothing but the cold
Earth for their Beds," in much discouragement "with the going back of
some of the Men." The buccaneers who had been some weeks at sea, were
not in marching trim, and it seems that the long day's tramp in the sun
had sickened many of them. While they rested in their lodges, an Indian
king, whom they called "Captain Antonio," came in to see them. He said
that he had sent word to one of his tributaries, farther to the south,
to prepare food and lodgings for the buccaneers "against their Arrival."
As for himself, he wished very much that he could come with them to lead
their guides, but unfortunately "his child lay very sick." However, it
comforted him to think that the child would be dead by the next day, at
latest, "and then he would most certainly follow and overtake" them. He
warned the company not to lie in the grass, "for fear of monstrous
adders"; and so bowed himself out of camp, and returned home. The kingly
prayers seem to have been effectual, for Captain Antonio was in camp
again by sunrise next morning, with no family tie to keep him from

As the men sluiced themselves in the river before taking to the road,
they noticed that the pebbles shone "with sparks of gold" when broken
across. They did not stay to wash the river-mud, for gold dust and
golden pellets, but fell in for the march, and climbed from dawn till
nearly dusk. They went over "a steep Mountain" which was parched and
burnt and waterless. Four of the buccaneers refused to go farther than
the foot of this hill, so they returned to the ships. The others, under
the guidance of Antonio, contrived to cross the mountain "to an Hollow
of Water," at which they drank very greedily. Six miles farther on they
halted for the night, beside a stream. They slept there, "under the
Canopy of Heaven," suffering much discomfort from some drenching
showers. After some days of climbing, wading, and suffering, the army
reached the house of King Golden Cap, an Indian king. The King came out
to meet them in his robes, with a little reed crown on his head, lined
with red silk, and covered with a thin plate of gold. He had a golden
ring in his nose, and a white cotton frock over his shoulders. His queen
wore a red blanket, and a blouse "like our old-fashioned striped
hangings." This royal couple bade the army welcome, and ordered food to
be brought for them. The buccaneers passed a couple of days in King
Golden Cap's city, trading their coloured beads, and scraps of iron, for
fresh fruit and meat. They found the Indians "very cunning" in
bargaining, which means, we suppose, that they thought a twopenny
whittle a poor return for a hog or a sack of maize.

When the men had rested themselves, and had dried their muddy clothes,
they set out again, with Captain Sawkins in the vanguard. As they
marched out of the town "the King ordered us each man to have three
plantains, with sugar-canes to suck, by way of a present." They
breakfasted on these fruits, as they marched. The road led them "along a
very bad Path" continually intersected by a river, which they had to
wade some fifty or sixty times, to their great misery. They passed a few
Indian huts on the way, and at each hut door stood an Indian to give "as
we passed by, to every one of us, a ripe plantain, or some sweet
cassava-root." Some of the Indians counted the army "by dropping a grain
of corn for each man that passed before them," for without counters they
could not reckon beyond twenty. The army had by this time been swelled
by an Indian contingent, of about 150 men, "armed with Bows, Arrows and
Lances." The Indians dropping their corn grains must have dropped
nearly 500 before the last man passed them. That night, which was clear
and fine, they rested in three large Indian huts, where King Golden
Cap's men had stored up food and drink, and a number of canoas, for the
voyage south. The river went brawling past their bivouac at a little
distance, and some of the men caught fish, and broiled them in the coals
for their suppers.

At daylight next morning, while they were getting the canoas to the
water, Captain Coxon had "some Words" with Captain Harris (of the green
flags). The words ran into oaths, for the two men were surly with the
discomforts of turning out. Coxon whipped up a gun and fired at Peter
Harris, "which he was [naturally] ready to return." Sharp knocked his
gun up before he could fire, "and brought him to be quiet; so that we
proceeded on our Journey." They had no further opportunities for
fighting, for Sawkins gave the word a moment later for seventy of the
buccaneers to embark in the canoas. There were fourteen of these boats,
all of them of small size. Sharp, Coxon, and Cook were placed in charge
of them. Captain Harris was told off to travel with the land party, with
Sawkins, King Golden Cap, and the other men. Don Andreas, with
twenty-eight other Indians (two to a canoa) acted as boatmen, or pilots,
to the flotilla.

Basil Ringrose, who was one of the boat party, has told us of the
miseries of the "glide down the stream." The river was low, and full of
rotting tree trunks, so that "at the distance of almost every stone's
cast," they had to leave the boats "and haul them over either sands or
rocks, and at other times over trees." Sharp, who was of tougher fibre,
merely says that they "paddled all Day down the Falls and Currents of
the River, and at Night took up our Quarters upon a Green Bank by the
Riverside, where we had Wild Fowl and Plantanes for Supper: But our Beds
were made upon the cold Earth, and our Coverings were the Heavens, and
green Trees we found there." The next day they went downstream again,
over many more snags and shallows, which set them wading in the mud till
their boots rotted off their feet. Ringrose was too tired to make a note
in his journal, save that, that night, "a tiger" came out and looked at
them as they sat round the camp fires. Sharp says that the labour "was a
Pleasure," because "of that great Unity there was then amongst us," and
because the men were eager "to see the fair South Sea." They lodged that
night "upon a green Bank of the River," and ate "a good sort of a Wild
Beast like unto our English Hog." The third day, according to Ringrose,
was the worst day of all. The river was as full of snags as it had been
higher up, but the last reach of it was clear water, so that they gained
the rendezvous "about Four in the Afternoon." To their very great alarm
they found that the land party had not arrived. They at once suspected
that the Indians had set upon them treacherously, and cut them off in
the woods. But Don Andreas sent out scouts "in Search of them," who
returned "about an Hour before Sun-set," with "some of their Number,"
and a message that the rest would join company in the morning.

A little after daybreak the land force marched in, and pitched their
huts near the river, "at a beachy point of land," perhaps the very one
where Oxenham's pinnace had been beached. They passed the whole day
there resting, and cleaning weapons, for they were now but "a Day and a
Night's Journey" from the town they had planned to attack. Many more
Indians joined them at this last camp of theirs, so that the army had
little difficulty in obtaining enough canoas to carry them to Santa
Maria. They set out early the next morning, in sixty-eight canoas, being
in all "327 of us Englishmen, and 50 Indians." Until that day the canoas
had been "poled" as a punt is poled, but now they cut oars and paddles
"to make what speed we could." All that day they rowed, and late into
the night, rowing "with all haste imaginable," and snapping up one or
two passing Indian boats which were laden with plantains. It was after
midnight, and about "Two Hours before Day Light," when they ran into a
mud bank, about a mile from the town, and stepped ashore, upon a
causeway of oars and paddles. They had to cut themselves a path through
jungle, as soon as they had crossed the mud, for the town was walled
about with tropical forest. They "lay still in the Woods, till the Light
appeared," when they "heard the Spaniard discharge his Watch at his Fort
by Beat of Drum, and a Volley of Shot." It was the Spanish way of
changing guard, at daybreak. It was also the signal for the "Forlorn" of
the buccaneers to march to the battle, under Sawkins. This company
consisted of seventy buccaneers. As they debouched from the forest, upon
open ground, the Spaniards caught sight of them and beat to arms. The
men in the fort at once opened fire "very briskly," but the
advance-guard ran in upon them, tore down some of the stockade, and
"entered the fort incontinently." A moment or two of wild firing passed
inside the palisades, and then the Spanish colours were dowsed. The
buccaneers in this storm lost two men wounded, of the fifty who
attacked. The Spanish loss was twenty-six killed, and sixteen wounded,
out of 300 under arms. About fifty more, of the Spanish prisoners, were
promptly killed by the Indians, who took them into the woods and stabbed
them "to death" with their lances. It seems that one of that garrison, a
man named Josef Gabriele, had raped King Golden Cap's daughter who was
then with child by him. (Gabriele, as it chanced, was not speared, but
saved to pilot the pirates to Panama.) This was the sole action of the
Indians in that engagement. During the battle they lay "in a small
hollow," "in great consternation" at "the noise of the guns."

Though the buccaneers had taken the place easily, they had little cause
for rejoicing. The town was "a little pitiful Place," with a few
thatched huts, or "wild houses made of Cane," and "but one Church in
it." The fort "was only Stockadoes," designed merely as a frontier post
"to keep in subjection the Indians" or as a lodging for men employed in
the gold mines. There was no more provision in store there than would
serve their turn for a week. As for the gold, they had missed it by
three days. Three hundredweight of gold had been sent to Panama while
they were struggling downstream. News of their coming had been brought
to the fort in time, and "all their treasure of gold," "that huge booty
of gold" they had expected to win, had been shipped westward. Nor had
they any prisoners to hold to ransom. The Governor, the town priest, and
the chief citizens, had slipped out of the town in boats, and were now
some miles away. Richard Sawkins manned a canoa, and went in chase of
them, but they got clear off, to give advice to Panama that pirates were
come across the isthmus. The only pillage they could find, after
torturing their prisoners "severely," amounted to "twenty pounds' weight
of gold, and a small quantity of silver." To this may be added a few
personal belongings, such as weapons or trinkets, from the chests of the

When the booty, such as it was, had been gathered, the captains held a
meeting "to discuss what were best to be done." Some were for going to
the South Sea, to cruise; but John Coxon, who had taken Porto Bello, and
hated to be second to Sawkins, was for going back to the ships. The
general vote was for going to Panama, "that city being the receptacle of
all the plate, jewels, and gold that is dug out of the mines of all
Potosi and Peru." However, they could not venture on Panama without
Coxon, and Coxon's company; so they made Coxon their admiral, "Coxon
seeming to be well satisfied." Before starting, they sent their booty
back to Golden Island, under a guard of twelve men. Most of the Indians
fell off at this time, for they had "got from us what knives, scissors,
axes, needles and beads they could." Old King Golden Cap, and his son,
were less mercenary, and stayed with the colours, being "resolved to go
to Panama, out of the desire they had to see that place taken and
sacked." They may have followed the buccaneers in order to kill the
Spaniard who had raped the princess, for that worthy was still alive,
under guard. He had promised to lead the pirates "even to the very
bed-chamber door of the governor of Panama."

With the vision of this bed-chamber door before them, the pirates
embarked at Santa Maria "in thirty-five canoes" and a ship they had
found at anchor in the river. As they "sailed, or rather rowed"
downstream, with the ebb, the Spanish prisoners prayed to be taken
aboard, lest the Indians should take them and torture them all to death.
"We had much ado to find a sufficient number of boats for ourselves,"
says Ringrose, for the Indians had carried many of the canoas away. Yet
the terror of their situation so wrought upon the Spaniards that they
climbed on to logs, or crude rafts, or into old canoas, "and by that
means shifted so ... as to come along with us." The island Chepillo, off
the mouth of the Cheapo River, had been named as the general rendezvous,
but most of the buccaneers were to spend several miserable days before
they anchored there. One canoa containing ten Frenchmen, was capsized,
to the great peril of the Frenchmen, who lost all their weapons.
Ringrose was separated from the company, drenched to the skin, half
starved, and very nearly lynched by some Spaniards. His 19th of April
was sufficiently stirring to have tired him of going a-roving till his
death. He put out "wet and cold," at dawn; was shipwrecked at ten; saved
the lives of five Spaniards at noon; "took a survey," or drew a sketch
of the coast, an hour later; set sail again by four, was taken by the
Spaniards and condemned to death at nine; was pardoned at ten; sent away
"in God's name," "vaya ustad con Dios," at eleven; and was at sea again
"wet and cold," by midnight. Sharp's party was the most fortunate, for
as they entered the bay of Panama they came to an island "a very
pleasant green Place," off which a barque of thirty tons came to anchor,
"not long before it was dark." The island had a high hummock of land
upon it with a little hut, and a stack for a bonfire, at the top. A
watchman, an old man, lived in this hut, looking out over the sea for
pirates, with orders to fire his beacon, to warn the men on the Main if
a strange sail appeared. The pirates caught this watchman before the
fire was lit. They learned from him that those at Panama had not yet
heard of their coming. Shortly after they had captured the watchman, the
little barque aforesaid, came to anchor, and furled her sails. Two of
Sharp's canoas crept out, "under the shore," and laid her aboard "just
as it began to be duskish." She proved to be a Panama boat, in use as a
troop transport. She had just landed some soldiers on the Main, to quell
some Indians, who had been raiding on the frontier. Her crew were
negroes, Indians, and mulattoes. Most of the buccaneers, especially
those in the small canoas, "endeavoured to get into" this ship, to
stretch their legs, and to have the advantage of a shelter. More than
130 contrived to stow themselves in her 'tween decks, under "that
sea-artist, and valiant commander" (the words are probably his own)
"Captain Bartholomew Sharp." They put to sea in her the next day,
followed by the canoas. During the morning they took another small
barque, in which Captain Harris placed thirty men, and hoisted the green
flag. The wind fell calm after the skirmish, but the canoas rowed on to
Chepillo, to the rendezvous, where they found provisions such as "two
fat hogs," and some plantains, and a spring of water.

A little after dawn, on the day following, while the ships were trying
to make the anchorage, Captain Coxon, and Captain Sawkins, rowed out
from Chepillo to board a barque which was going past the island under a
press of sail. The wind was so light that the canoas overhauled her, but
before they could hook to her chains "a young breeze, freshening at that
instant," swept her clear of danger. Her men fired a volley into Coxon's
boat, which the pirates returned. "They had for their Breakfast a small
fight," says Sharp. One of the pirates--a Mr Bull--was killed with an
iron slug. The Spaniards got clear away without any loss, "for the Wind
blew both fresh and fair" for them. Three or four pirates were grazed
with shot, and some bullets went through the canoas. The worst of the
matter was that the Spaniards got safely to Panama, "to give
intelligence of our coming."

As they could no longer hope to take the city by surprise, "while the
Governor was in his bed-chamber," they determined to give the citizens
as little time for preparation as was possible. They were still twenty
miles from Panama, but the canoas could pass those twenty miles in a few
hours' easy rowing. They set out at four o'clock in the evening, after
they had delivered their Spanish prisoners "for certain reasons" (which
Ringrose "could not dive into") into the hands of the Indians. This act
of barbarity was accompanied with the order that the Indians were "to
fight, or rather to murder and slay the said prisoners upon the shore,
and that in view of the whole fleet." However, the Spaniards rushed the
Indians, broke through them, and got away to the woods with the loss of
but one soldier.

After they had watched the scuffle, the pirates rowed away merrily
towards Panama, "though many showers of rain ceased not to fall."
Sharp's vessel, with her crew of more than 130 men, made off for the
Pearl Islands, ostensibly to fill fresh water, but really, no doubt, to
rob the pearl fisheries. He found a woman (who was "very young and
handsome"), and "a Case or two of Wines," at these islands, together
with some poultry. He made a feast there, and stayed at anchor that
night, and did not set sail again till noon of the day following, by
which time the battle of Panama had been fought and won.

    _Authorities._--Dampier's Voyages. Wafer's Voyages. Ringrose's
    Journal. "The Dangerous Voyage and Bold Assaults of Captain
    Bartholomew Sharp"; "The Voyages and Adventures of Captain
    Bartholomew Sharp" (four or five different editions). Ringrose's
    MSS., Sharp's MSS., in the Sloane MSS.



    Arica--The South Sea cruise

On 23rd April 1680, "that day being dedicated to St George, our Patron
of England," the canoas arrived off Panama. "We came," says Ringrose,
"before sunrise within view of the city of Panama, which makes a
pleasant show to the vessels that are at sea." They were within sight of
the old cathedral church, "the beautiful building whereof" made a
landmark for them, reminding one of the buccaneers "of St Paul's in
London," a church at that time little more than a ruin. The new city was
not quite finished, but the walls of it were built, and there were
several splendid churches, with scaffolding about them, rising high,
here and there, over the roofs of the houses. The townspeople were in a
state of panic at the news of the pirates' coming. Many of them had fled
into the savannahs; for it chanced that, at that time, many of the
troops in garrison, were up the country, at war with a tribe of Indians.
The best of the citizens, under Don Jacinto de Baronha, the admiral of
those seas, had manned the ships in the bay. Old Don Peralta, who had
saved the golden galleon ten years before, had 'listed a number of
negroes, and manned one or two barques with them. With the troops still
in barracks, and these volunteers and pressed men, they had manned, in
all "five great ships, and three pretty big barks." Their force may have
numbered 280 men. One account gives the number, definitely, as 228. The
buccaneer force has been variously stated, but it appears certain that
the canoas, and periaguas, which took part in the fight, contained only
sixty-eight of their company. Sharp, as we have seen, had gone with his
company to the Pearl Islands. The remaining 117 men were probably
becalmed, in their barques and canoas, some miles from the vanguard.

When the buccaneers caught sight of Panama, they were probably between
that city and the islands of Perico and Tobagilla. They were in great
disorder, and the men were utterly weary with the long night of rowing
in the rain, with the wind ahead. They were strung out over several
miles of sea, with five light canoas, containing six or seven men
apiece, a mile or two in advance. After these came two lumbering
periaguas, with sixteen men in each. King Golden Cap was in one of these
latter. Dampier and Wafer were probably not engaged in this action.
Ringrose was in the vanguard, in a small canoa.

A few minutes after they had sighted the roofs of Panama, they made out
the ships at anchor off the Isle of Perico. There were "five great ships
and three pretty big barks," manned, as we have said, by soldiers,
negroes, and citizens. The men aboard this fleet were in the rigging of
their ships, keeping a strict lookout. As they caught sight of the
pirates the three barques "instantly weighed anchor," and bore down to
engage, under all the sail they could crowd. The great ships had not
sufficient men to fight their guns. They remained at anchor; but their
crews went aboard the barques, so that the decks of the three men-of-war
must have been inconveniently crowded. The Spaniards were dead to
windwind of the pirates, so that they merely squared their yards, and
ran down the wind "designedly to show their valour." They had intended
to run down the canoas, and to sail over them, for their captains had
orders to give no quarter to the pirates, but to kill them, every man.
"Such bloody commands as these," adds Ringrose piously, "do seldom or
never prosper."

It was now a little after sunrise. The wind was light but steady; the
sea calm. As the Spaniards drew within range, the pirates rowed up into
the wind's eye, and got to windward of them. Their pistols and muskets
had not been wetted in the rain, for each buccaneer had provided himself
with an oiled cover for his firearms, the mouth of which he stopped with
wax whenever it rained. The Spanish ships ran past the three leading
canoas, exchanging volleys at long range. They were formed in line of
battle ahead, with a ship manned by mulattoes, or "Tawnymores," in the
van. This ship ran between the fourth canoa, in which Ringrose was, and
the fifth (to leeward of her) commanded by Sawkins. As she ran between
the boats she fired two thundering broadsides, one from each battery,
which wounded five buccaneers. "But he paid dear for his passage";
because the buccaneers gave her a volley which killed half her sail
trimmers, so that she was long in wearing round to repeat her fire. At
this moment the two periaguas came into action, and got to windward with
the rest of the pirates' fleet.

While Ringrose's company were ramming the bullets down their gun
muzzles, the Spanish admiral (in the second ship) engaged, "scarce
giving us time to charge." She was a fleet ship, and had a good way on
her, and her design was to pass between two canoas, and give to each a
roaring hot broadside. As she ran down, so near that the buccaneers
could look right into her, one of the pirates fired his musket at her
helmsman, and shot him through the heart as he steered. The ship at once
"broached-to," and lay with her sails flat aback, stopped dead. The five
canoas, and one of the periaguas, got under her stern, and so plied her
with shot that her decks were like shambles, running with blood and
brains, five minutes after she came to the wind. Meanwhile Richard
Sawkins ran his canoa--which was a mere sieve of cedar wood, owing to
the broadside--alongside the second periagua, and took her steering oar.
He ordered his men to give way heartily, for the third Spanish ship,
under old Don Peralta, was now bearing down to relieve the admiral.
Before she got near enough to blow the canoas out of water, Captain
Sawkins ran her on board, and so swept her decks with shot that she went
no farther. But "between him and Captain Sawkins, the dispute, or fight,
was very hot, lying board on board together, and both giving and
receiving death unto each other as fast as they could charge." Indeed,
the fight, at this juncture, was extremely fierce. The two Spanish ships
in action were surrounded with smoke and fire, the men "giving and
receiving death" most gallantly. The third ship, with her sail trimmers
dead, was to leeward, trying to get upon the other tack.

After a time her sailors got her round, and reached to windward, to help
the admiral, who was now being sorely battered. Ringrose, and Captain
Springer, a famous pirate, "stood off to meet him," in two canoas, as
"he made up directly towards the Admiral." Don Jacinto, they noticed, as
they shoved off from his flagship, was standing on his quarter-deck,
waving "with a handkerchief," to the captain of the Tawnymores' ship. He
was signalling him to scatter the canoas astern of the flagship. It was
a dangerous moment, and Ringrose plainly saw "how hard it would go with
us if we should be beaten from the Admiral's stern." With the two canoas
he ran down to engage, pouring in such fearful volleys of bullets that
they covered the Spaniard's decks with corpses and dying men. "We killed
so many of them, that the vessel had scarce men enough left alive, or
unwounded, to carry her off. Had he not given us the helm, and made
away from us, we had certainly been on board him." Her decks were
littered with corpses, and she was literally running blood. The wind was
now blowing fresh, and she contrived to put before it, and so ran out of
action, a terrible sight for the Panama women.

Having thus put the Tawnymores out of action, Ringrose and Springer
hauled to the wind, and "came about again upon the Admiral, and all
together gave a loud halloo." The cheer was answered by Sawkins' men,
from the periagua, as they fired into the frigate's ports. Ringrose ran
alongside the admiral, and crept "so close" under the vessel's stern,
"that we wedged up the rudder." The admiral was shot, and killed, a
moment later, as he brought aft a few musketeers to fire out of the
stern ports. The ship's pilot, or sailing master, was killed by the same
volley. As for the crew, the "stout Biscayners," "they were almost quite
disabled and disheartened likewise, seeing what a bloody massacre we had
made among them with our shot." Two-thirds of the crew were killed, "and
many others wounded." The survivors cried out for quarter, which had
been offered to them several times before, "and as stoutly denied until
then." Captain Coxon thereupon swarmed up her sides, with a gang of
pirates, helping up after him the valorous Peter Harris "who had been
shot through both his legs, as he boldly adventured up along the side of
the ship." The Biscayners were driven from their guns, disarmed, and
thrust down on to the ballast, under a guard. All the wounded pirates
were helped up to the deck and made comfortable. Then, in all haste, the
unhurt men manned two canoas, and rowed off to help Captain Sawkins,
"who now had been three times beaten from on board by Peralta."

A very obstinate and bloody fight had been raging round the third
man-of-war. Her sides were splintered with musket-balls. She was oozing
blood from her scuppers, yet "the old and stout Spaniard" in command,
was cheerily giving shot for shot. "Indeed, to give our enemies their
due, no men in the world did ever act more bravely than these

Ringrose's canoa was the first to second Captain Sawkins. She ran close
in, "under Peralta's side," and poured in a blasting full volley through
her after gun-ports. A scrap of blazing wad fell among the red-clay
powder jars in the after magazine. Before she could fire a shot in
answer, she blew up abaft. Ringrose from the canoa "saw his men blown
up, that were abaft the mast, some of them falling on the deck, and
others into the sea." But even this disaster did not daunt old Peralta.
Like a gallant sea-captain, he slung a bowline round his waist, and went
over the side, burnt as he was, to pick up the men who had been blown
overboard. The pirates fired at him in the water, but the bullets missed
him. He regained his ship, and the fight went on. While the old man was
cheering the wounded to their guns, "another jar of powder took fire
forward," blowing the gun's crews which were on the fo'c's'le into the
sea. The forward half of the ship caught fire, and poured forth a volume
of black smoke, in the midst of which Richard Sawkins boarded, and "took
the ship." A few minutes later, Basil Ringrose went on board, to give
what aid he could to the hurt. "And indeed," he says, "such a miserable
sight I never saw in my life, for not one man there was found, but was
either killed, desperately wounded, or horribly burnt with powder,
insomuch that their black skins [the ship was manned with negroes] were
turned white in several places, the powder having torn it from their
flesh and bones." But if Peralta's ship was a charnel-house, the
admiral's flagship was a reeking slaughter-pen. Of her eighty-six
sailors, sixty-one had been killed. Of the remaining twenty-five, "only
eight were able to bear arms, all the rest being desperately wounded,
and by their wounds totally disabled to make any resistance, or defend
themselves. Their blood ran down the decks in whole streams, and scarce
one place in the ship was found that was free from blood." The loss on
the Tawnymores' ship was never known, but there had been such "bloody
massacre" aboard her, that two other barques, in Panama Roads, had been
too scared to join battle, though they had got under sail to engage.
According to Ringrose, the pirates lost eighteen men killed, and
twenty-two men wounded, several of them severely. Sharp, who was not in
the fight, gives the numbers as eleven killed, and thirty-four wounded.
The battle began "about half an hour after sunrise." The last of the
Spanish fire ceased a little before noon.

Having taken the men-of-war, Captain Sawkins asked his prisoners how
many men were aboard the galleons, in the Perico anchorage. Don Peralta,
who was on deck, "much burnt in both his hands," and "sadly scalded," at
once replied that "in the biggest alone there were three hundred and
fifty men," while the others were manned in proportion to their tonnage.
But one of his men "who lay a-dying upon the deck, contradicted him as
he was speaking, and told Captain Sawkins there was not one man on board
any of those ships that were in view." "This relation" was believed, "as
proceeding from a dying man," and a few moments later it was proved to
be true. The greatest of the galleons, "the Most Blessed _Trinity_,"
perhaps the very ship in which Peralta had saved the treasures of the
cathedral church, was found to be empty. Her lading of "wine, sugar, and
sweetmeats, skins and soap" (or hides and tallow) was still in the hold,
but the Spaniards had deserted her, after they had set her on fire,
"made a hole in her, and loosened [perhaps cut adrift] her foresail."
The pirates quenched the fire, stopped the leak, and placed their
wounded men aboard her, "and thus constituted her for the time being our
hospital." They lay at anchor, at Perico, for the rest of that day. On
the 24th of April they seem to have been joined by a large company of
those who had been to leeward at the time of the battle. Reinforced by
these, to the strength of nearly 200 men, they weighed their anchors,
set two of the prize galleons on fire with their freights of flour and
iron, and removed their fleet to the roads of Panama. They anchored near
the city, just out of heavy gunshot, in plain view of the citizens. They
could see the famous stone walls, which had cost so much gold that the
Spanish King, in his palace at Madrid, had asked his minister whether
they could be seen from the palace windows. They marked the stately,
great churches which were building. They saw the tower of St Anastasius
in the distance, white and stately, like a blossom above the greenwood.
They may even have seen the terrified people in the streets, following
the banners of the church, and the priests in their black robes, to
celebrate a solemn Mass and invocation. Very far away, in the green
savannahs, they saw the herds of cattle straying between the clumps of

Late that night, long after it was dark, Captain Bartholomew Sharp
joined company. He had been to Chepillo to look for them, and had found
their fire "not yet out," and a few dead Spaniards, whom the Indians had
killed, lying about the embers. He had been much concerned for the
safety of the expedition, and was therefore very pleased to find that
"through the Divine Assistance" the buccaneers had triumphed. At supper
that night he talked with Don Peralta, who told him of some comets, "two
strange Comets," which had perplexed the Quito merchants the year
before. There was "good Store of Wine" aboard the _Trinity_ galleon,
with which all hands "cheered up their Hearts for a While." Then, having
set sentinels, they turned in for the night.

The next day they buried Captain Peter Harris, "a brave and stout
Soldier, and a valiant Englishman, born in the county of Kent, whose
death [from gunshot wounds] we very much lamented." With him they buried
another buccaneer who had been hurt in the fight. The other wounded men
recovered. They would probably have landed to sack the town on this day,
had not a quarrel broken out between some of the company and Captain
Coxon. The question had been brought forward, whether the buccaneers
should go cruising in the South Sea, in their prizes, or return,
overland, to their ships at Golden Island. It was probably suggested, as
another alternative, that they should land to sack the town. All the
captains with one exception were for staying in the Pacific "to try
their Fortunes." Captain Coxon, however, was for returning to Golden
Island. He had been dissatisfied ever since the fight at Santa Maria. He
had not distinguished himself particularly in the fight off Perico, and
no doubt he felt jealous that the honours of that battle should have
been won by Sawkins. Sawkins' men taunted him with "backwardness" in
that engagement, and "stickled not to defame, or brand him with the note
of cowardice." To this he answered that he would be very glad to leave
that association, and that he would take one of the prizes, a ship of
fifty tons, and a periagua, to carry his men up the Santa Maria River.
Those who stayed, he added, might heal his wounded. That night he drew
off his company, with several other men, in all about seventy hands.
With them he carried "the best of our Doctors and Medicines," and the
hearty ill will of the other buccaneers. Old King Golden Cap accompanied
these deserters, leaving behind him his son and a nephew, desiring them
to be "not less vigorous" than he had been in harrying the Spanish.
Just before Coxon set sail, he asked Bartholomew Sharp to accompany him.
But that proven soul "could not hear of so dirty and inhuman an Action
without detestation." So Coxon sailed without ally, "which will not much
redound to his Honour," leaving all his wounded on the deck of the
captured galleon. The fleet, it may be added, had by this time returned
to the anchorage at Perico.

They lay there ten days in all, "debating what were best to be done." In
that time they took a frigate laden with fowls. They took the poultry
for their own use, and dismissed some of "the meanest of the prisoners"
in the empty ship. They then shifted their anchorage to the island of
Taboga, where there were a few houses, which some drunken pirates set on
fire. While they lay at this island the merchants of Panama came off to
them "and sold us what commodities we needed, buying also of us much of
the goods we had taken in their own vessels." The pirates also sold them
a number of negroes they had captured, receiving "two hundred pieces of
eight for each negro we could spare." "And here we took likewise several
barks that were laden with fowls." After Coxon's defection, Richard
Sawkins was re-elected admiral, and continued in that command till his
death some days later.

Before they left Taboga, Captain Sharp went cruising to an island some
miles distant to pick up some straggling drunkards who belonged to his
ship. While he lay at anchor, in a dead calm, waiting for a breeze to
blow, a great Spanish merchant ship hove in sight, bound from Lima (or
Truxillo) to Panama. Sharp ran his canoas alongside, and bade her dowse
her colours, at the same time sending a gang of pirates over her rail,
to throw the crew under hatches. "He had no Arms to defend himself with,
save only Rapiers," so her captain made no battle, but struck
incontinently. She proved to be a very splendid prize, for in her hold
were nearly 2000 jars of wine and brandy, 100 jars of good vinegar, and
a quantity of powder and shot, "which came very luckily." In addition to
these goods there were 51,000 pieces of eight, "247 pieces of eight a
man," a pile of silver sent to pay the Panama soldiery; and a store of
sweetmeats, such as Peru is still famous for. And there were "other
Things," says Sharp, "that were very grateful to our dis-satisfied
Minds." Some of the wine and brandy were sold to the Panama merchants a
few days later, "to the value of three thousand Pieces of Eight." A day
or two after this they snapped up two flour ships, from Paita. One of
these was a pretty ship of a fine model, of about 100 tons. Sharp fitted
her for himself, "for I liked her very well." The other flour ship was
taken very gallantly, under a furious gunfire from Panama Castle. The
buccaneers rowed in, with the cannon-balls flying over their heads. They
got close alongside "under her Guns," and then towed her out of

They continued several days at Taboga, waiting for a Lima treasure ship,
aboard which, the Spaniards told them, were £2500 in silver dollars.
While they waited for this ship the Governor at Panama wrote to ask them
why they had come into those seas. Captain Sawkins answered that they
had come to help King Golden Cap, the King of Darien, the true lord of
those lands, and that, since they had come so far, "there was no reason
but that they should have some satisfaction." If the Governor would send
them 500 pieces of eight for each man, and double that sum for each
captain, and, further, undertake "not any farther to annoy the Indians,"
why, then, the pirates would leave those seas, "and go away peaceably.
If the Governor would not agree to these terms, he might look to
suffer." A day or two later, Sawkins heard that the Bishop of Panama had
been Bishop at Santa Martha (a little city on the Main), some years
before, when he (Sawkins) helped to sack the place. He remembered the
cleric favourably, and sent him "two loaves of sugar," as a sort of
keepsake, or love-offering. "For a retaliation," the Bishop sent him a
gold ring; which was very Christian in the Bishop, who must have lost on
the exchange. The bearer of the gold ring, brought also an answer from
the Governor, who desired to know who had signed the pirates'
commissions. To this message Captain Sawkins sent back for answer: "That
as yet all his company were not come together, but that when they were
come up, we would come and visit him at Panama, and bring our
commissions on the muzzles of our guns, at which time he should read
them as plain as the flame of gunpowder could make them."

With this thrasonical challenge the pirates set sail for Otoque, another
of the islands in the bay; for Taboga, though it was "an exceeding
pleasant island," was by this time bare of meat. Before they left the
place a Frenchman deserted from them, and gave a detailed account of
their plans to the Spanish Governor. It blew very hard while they were
at sea, and two barques parted company in the storm. One of them drove
away to the eastward, and overtook John Coxon's company. The other was
taken by the Spaniards.

About the 20th or 21st of May, after several days of coasting, the ships
dropped anchor on the north coast of the island of Quibo. From here some
sixty men, under Captain Sawkins, set sail in Edmund Cook's ship, to
attack Pueblo Nuevo, the New Town, situated on the banks of a river. At
the river's mouth, which was broad, with sandy beaches, they embarked in
canoas, and rowed upstream, under the pilotage of a negro, from dark
till dawn. The French deserter had told the Spaniards of the intended
attack, so that the canoas found great difficulty in getting upstream.
Trees had been felled so as to fall across the river, and Indian spies
had been placed here and there along the river-bank to warn the townsmen
of the approach of the boats. A mile below the town the river had been
made impassable, so here the pirates went ashore to wait till daybreak.
When it grew light they marched forward, to attack the strong wooden
breastworks which the Spaniards had built. Captain Sawkins was in
advance, with about a dozen pirates. Captain Sharp followed at a little
distance with some thirty more. As soon as Sawkins saw the stockades he
fired his gun, and ran forward gallantly, to take the place by storm, in
the face of a fierce fire. "Being a man that nothing upon Earth could
terrifie" he actually reached the breastwork, and was shot dead there,
as he hacked at the pales. Two other pirates were killed at his side,
and five of the brave forlorn were badly hurt. "The remainder drew off,
still skirmishing," and contrived to reach the canoas "in pretty good
order," though they were followed by Spanish sharpshooters for some
distance. Sharp took command of the boats and brought them off safely to
the river's mouth, where they took a barque full of maize, before they
arrived at their ship.

Sawkins was "as valiant and courageous as any could be," "a valiant and
generous-spirited man, and beloved above any other we ever had among us,
which he well deserved." His death left the company without a captain,
and many of the buccaneers, who had truly loved Richard Sawkins, were
averse to serving under another commander. They were particularly averse
to serving under Sharp, who took the chief command from the moment of
Sawkins' death. At Quibo, where they lay at anchor, "their Mutiny" grew
very high, nor did they stick at mere mutiny. They clamoured for a
tarpaulin muster, or "full Councel," at which the question of "who
should be chief" might be put to the vote. At the council, Sharp was
elected "by a few hands," but many of the pirates refused to follow him
on the cruise. He swore, indeed, that he would take them such a voyage
as should bring them £1000 a man; but the oaths of Sharp were not good
security, and the mutiny was not abated. Many of the buccaneers would
have gone home with Coxon had it not been for Sawkins. These now
clamoured to go so vehemently that Sharp was constrained to give them a
ship with as much provision "as would serve for treble the number." The
mutineers who left on this occasion were in number sixty-three. Twelve
Indians, the last who remained among the pirates, went with them, to
guide them over the isthmus. 146 men remained with Sharp. It is probable
that many of these would have returned at this time, had it not been
that "the Rains were now already up, and it would be hard passing so
many Gullies, which of necessity would then be full of water." Ringrose,
Wafer and Dampier remained among the faithful, but rather on this
account, than for any love they bore their leader. The mutineers had
hardly set sail, before Captain Cook came "a-Board" Sharp's flagship,
finding "himselfe a-grieved." His company had kicked him out of his
ship, swearing that they would not sail with such a one, so that he had
determined "to rule over such unruly folk no longer." Sharp gave his
command to a pirate named Cox, a New Englander, "who forced kindred, as
was thought, upon Captain Sharp, out of old acquaintance, in this
conjuncture of time, only to advance himself." Cox took with him Don
Peralta, the stout old Andalusian, for the pirates were plying the
captain "of the Money-Ship we took," to induce him to pilot them to
Guayaquil "where we might lay down our Silver, and lade our vessels with
Gold." They feared that an honest man, such as Peralta, "would hinder
the endeavours" of this Captain Juan, and corrupt his kindly

With these mutinies, quarrels, intrigues, and cabals did the buccaneers
beguile their time. They stayed at Quibo until 6th June, filling their
water casks, quarrelling, cutting wood, and eating turtle and red deer.
They also ate huge oysters, so large "that we were forced to cut them
into four pieces, each quarter being a large mouthful."

On the 6th of June they set sail for the isle of Gorgona, off what is
now Columbia, where they careened the _Trinity_, and took "down our
Round House Coach and all the high carved work belonging to the stern of
the ship; for when we took her from the Spaniards she was high as any
Third Rate Ship in England." While they were at work upon her, Sharp
changed his design of going for Guayaquil, as one of their prisoners, an
old Moor, "who had long time sailed among the Spaniards," told him that
there was gold at Arica, in such plenty that they would get there "£2000
a man." He did not hurry to leave his careenage, though he must have
known that each day he stayed there lessened his chance of booty. It was
nearly August when he left Gorgona, and "from this Time forward to the
17th of October there was Nothing occurr'd but bare Sailing." Now and
then they ran short of water, or of food. One or two of their men died
of fever, or of rum, or of sunstroke. Two or three were killed in
capturing a small Spanish ship. The only other events recorded, are the
falls of rain, the direction of the wind, the sight of "watersnakes of
divers colours," and the joyful meeting with Captain Cox, whom they had
lost sight of, while close in shore one evening. They called at "Sir
Francis Drake's isle" to strike a few tortoises, and to shoot some
goats. Captain Sharp we read, here "showed himself very ingenious" in
spearing turtle, "he performing it as well as the tortoise strikers

It was very hot at this little island. Many years before Drake had gone
ashore there to make a dividend, and had emptied bowls of gold coins
into the hats of his men, after the capture of the _Cacafuego_. Some of
the pirates sounded the little anchorage with a greasy lead, in the
hopes of bringing up the golden pieces which Drake had been unable to
carry home, and had hove into the sea there. They got no gold, but the
sun shone "so hot that it burnt the skin off the necks of our men," as
they craned over the rail at their fishery.

At the end of October they landed at the town of Hilo to fill fresh
water. They took the town, and sacked its sugar refineries, which they
burnt. They pillaged its pleasant orange groves, and carried away many
sacks of limes and green figs "with many other fruits agreeable to the
palate." Fruit, sugar, and excellent olive oil were the goods which Hilo
yielded. They tried to force the Spaniards to bring them beef, but as
the beef did not come, they wrecked the oil and sugar works, and set
them blazing, and so marched down to their ships, skirmishing with the
Spanish horse as they fell back. Among the spoil was the carcass of a
mule (which made "a very good meal"), and a box of chocolate "so that
now we had each morning a dish of that pleasant liquor," such as the
grand English ladies drank.

The next town attacked was La Serena, a town five miles from the present
Coquimbo. They took the town, and found a little silver, but the
citizens had had time to hide their gold. The pirates made a great feast
of strawberries "as big as walnuts," in the "orchards of fruit" at this
place, so that one of their company wrote that "'tis very delightful
Living here." They could not get a ransom for the town, so they set it
on fire. The Spaniards, in revenge, sent out an Indian, on an inflated
horse hide, to the pirates' ship the _Trinity_. This Indian thrust some
oakum and brimstone between the rudder and the sternpost, and "fired it
with a match." The sternpost caught fire and sent up a prodigious black
smoke, which warned the pirates that their ship was ablaze. They did not
discover the trick for a few minutes, but by good fortune they found it
out in time to save the vessel. They landed their prisoners shortly
after the fire had been quenched "because we feared lest by the example
of this stratagem they should plot our destruction in earnest." Old Don
Peralta, who had lately been "very frantic," "through too much hardship
and melancholy," was there set on shore, after his long captivity. Don
Juan, the captain of the "Money-Ship," was landed with him. Perhaps the
two fought together, on the point of honour, as soon as they had
returned to swords and civilisation.

From Coquimbo the pirates sailed for Juan Fernandez. On the way thither
they buried William Cammock, one of their men, who had drunk too hard at
La Serena "which produced in him a calenture or malignant fever, and a
hiccough." "In the evening when the pale Magellan Clouds were showing we
buried him in the sea, according to the usual custom of mariners, giving
him three French vollies for his funeral."

On Christmas Day they were beating up to moorings, with boats ahead,
sounding out a channel for the ship. They did not neglect to keep the
day holy, for "we gave in the morning early three vollies of shot for
solemnization of that great festival." At dusk they anchored "in a
stately bay that we found there," a bay of intensely blue water, through
which the whiskered seals swam. The pirates filled fresh water, and
killed a number of goats, with which the island swarmed. They also
captured many goats alive, and tethered them about the decks of the
_Trinity_, to the annoyance of all hands, a day or two later, when some
flurries of wind drove them to sea, to search out a new anchorage.

Shortly after New Year's Day 1681, "our unhappy Divisions, which had
been long on Foot, began now to come to an Head to some Purpose." The
men had been working at the caulking of their ship, with design to take
her through the Straits of Magellan, and so home to the Indies. Many of
the men wished to cruise the South Seas a little longer, while nearly
all were averse to plying caulking irons, under a burning sun, for
several hours a day. There was also a good deal of bitterness against
Captain Sharp, who had made but a poor successor to brave Richard
Sawkins. He had brought them none of the gold and silver he had promised
them, and few of the men were "satisfied, either with his Courage or
Behaviour." On the 6th January a gang of pirates "got privately ashoar
together," and held a fo'c's'le council under the greenwood. They "held
a Consult," says Sharp, "about turning me presently out, and put another
in my Room." John Cox, the "true-hearted dissembling New-England Man,"
whom Sharp "meerly for old Acquaintance-sake" had promoted to be
captain, was "the Main Promoter of their Design." When the consult was
over, the pirates came on board, clapped Mr Sharp in irons, put him down
on the ballast, and voted an old pirate named John Watling, "a stout
seaman," to be captain in his stead. One buccaneer says that "the true
occasion of the grudge against Sharp was, that he had got by these
adventures almost a thousand pounds, whereas many of our men were not
worth a groat," having "lost all their money to their fellow Buccaneers
at dice."

Captain Edmund Cook, who had been turned out of his ship by his men, was
this day put in irons on the confession of a shameless servant. The
curious will find the details of the case on page 121, of the 1684
edition of Ringrose's journal.

John Watling began his captaincy in very godly sort, by ordering his
disciples to keep holy the Sabbath day. Sunday, "January the ninth, was
the first Sunday that ever we kept by command and common consent, since
the loss and death of our valiant Commander Captain Sawkins." Sawkins
had been strict in religious matters, and had once thrown the ship's
dice overboard "finding them in use on the said day." Since Sawkins'
death the company had grown notoriously lax, but it is pleasant to
notice how soon they returned to their natural piety, under a godly
leader. With Edmund Cook down on the ballast in irons, and William Cook
talking of salvation in the galley, and old John Watling expounding the
Gospel in the cabin, the galleon, "the Most Holy _Trinity_" must have
seemed a foretaste of the New Jerusalem. The fiddler ceased such
"prophane strophes" as "Abel Brown," "The Red-haired Man's Wife," and
"Valentinian." He tuned his devout strings to songs of Zion. Nay the
very boatswain could not pipe the cutter up but to a phrase of the

In this blessed state they washed their clothes in the brooks, hunted
goats across the island, and burnt and tallowed their ship the
_Trinity_. But on the 12th of January, one of their boats, which had
been along the coast with some hunters, came rowing furiously into the
harbour, "firing of Guns." They had espied three Spanish men-of-war some
three or four miles to leeward, beating up to the island under a press
of sail. The pirates were in great confusion, for most of them were
ashore, "washing their clothes," or felling timber. Those on board, hove
up one of their anchors, fired guns to call the rest aboard, hoisted
their boats in, and slipped their second cable. They then stood to sea,
hauling as close to the wind as she would lie. One of the Mosquito
Indians, "one William," was left behind on the island, "at this sudden
departure," and remained hidden there, living on fish and fruit, for
many weary days. He was not the first man to be marooned there; nor was
he to be the last.

The three Spanish men-of-war were ships of good size, mounting some
thirty guns among them. As the pirate ship beat out of the harbour,
sheeting home her topgallant-sails, they "put out their bloody flags,"
which the pirates imitated, "to shew them that we were not as yet
daunted." They kept too close together for the pirates to run them
aboard, but towards sunset their flagship had drawn ahead of the
squadron. The pirates at once tacked about so as to engage her,
intending to sweep her decks with bullets, and carry her by boarding.
John Watling was not very willing to come to handystrokes, nor were the
Spaniards anxious to give him the opportunity. No guns were fired, for
the Spanish admiral wore ship, and so sailed away to the island, when he
brought his squadron to anchor. The pirates called a council, and
decided to give them the slip, having "outbraved them," and done as much
as honour called for. They were not very pleased with John Watling, and
many were clamouring for the cruise to end. It was decided that they
should not attack the Spanish ships, but go off for the Main, to sack
the town of Arica, where there was gold enough, so they had heard, to
buy them each "a coach and horses." They therefore hauled to the wind
again, and stood to the east, in very angry and mutinous spirit, until
the 26th of January.

On that day they landed at Yqueque, a mud-flat, or guano island, off a
line of yellow sand-hills. They found a few Indian huts there, with
scaffolds for the drying of fish, and many split and rotting mackerel
waiting to be carried inland. There was a dirty stone chapel in the
place, "stuck full of hides and sealskins." There was a great surf,
green and mighty, bursting about the island with a continual roaring.
There were pelicans fishing there, and a few Indians curing fish, and an
abominable smell, and a boat, with a cask in her bows, which brought
fresh water thither from thirty miles to the north. The teeth of the
Indians were dyed a bright green by their chewing of the coca leaf, the
drug which made their "beast-like" lives endurable. There was a silver
mine on the mainland, near this fishing village, but the pirates did not
land to plunder it. They merely took a few old Indian men, and some
Spaniards, and carried them aboard the _Trinity_, where the godly John
Watling examined them.

The next day the examination continued; and the answers of one of the
old men, "a Mestizo Indian," were judged to be false. "Finding him in
many lies, as we thought, concerning Arica, our commander ordered him to
be shot to death, which was accordingly done." This cold-blooded murder
was committed much against the will of Captain Sharp, who "opposed it as
much as he could." Indeed, when he found that his protests were useless,
he took a basin of water (of which the ship was in sore need) and washed
his hands, like a modern Pilate. "Gentlemen," he said, "I am clear of
the blood of this old man; and I will warrant you a hot day for this
piece of cruelty, whenever we come to fight at Arica." This proved to be
"a true and certain prophesy." Sharp was an astrologer, and a believer
in portents; but he does not tell us whether he had "erected any
Figure," to discover what was to chance in the Arica raid.

       *       *       *       *       *

Arica, the most northern port in Chile, has still a considerable
importance. It is a pleasant town, fairly well watered, and therefore
more green and cheerful than the nitrate ports. It is built at the foot
of a hill (a famous battlefield) called the Morro. Low, yellow
sand-hills ring it in, shutting it from the vast blue crags of the
Andes, which rise up, splintered and snowy, to the east. The air there
is of an intense clearness, and those who live there can see the Tacna
churches, forty miles away. It is no longer the port it was, but it does
a fair trade in salt and sulphur, and supplies the nitrate towns with
fruit. When the pirates landed there it was a rich and prosperous city.
It had a strong fort, mounting twelve brass guns, defended by four
companies of troops from Lima. The city had a town guard of 300
soldiers. There was also an arsenal full of firearms for the use of
householders in the event of an attack. It was not exactly a walled
town, like new Panama, but a light wooden palisade ran round it, while
other palisades crossed each street. These defences had been thrown up
when news had arrived of the pirates being in those seas. All the
"plate, gold and jewels" of the townsfolk had been carefully hidden, and
the place was in such a state of military vigilance and readiness that
the pirates had no possible chance of taking it, or at least of holding
it. When the pirates came upon it there were several ships in the bay,
laden with commodities from the south of Chile.

[Illustration: _A description of_ Arica]

On the 28th of January, John Watling picked 100 men, and put off for the
shore in boats and canoas, to attack the town. By the next day they had
got close in shore, under the rocks by the San Vitor River's mouth.
There they lay concealed till the night. At dawn of the 30th January
1681, "the Martyrdom of our glorious King Charles the First," they were
dipping off some rocks four miles to the south of Arica. Here ninety-two
of the buccaneers landed, leaving a small boat guard, with strict
instructions how to act. They were told that if the main body "made
one smoke from the town," as by firing a heap of powder, one canoa was
to put in to Arica; but that, if two smokes were fired, all the boats
were to put in at once. Basil Ringrose was one of those who landed to
take part in the fight. Dampier, it is almost certain, remained on board
the _Trinity_, becalmed some miles from the shore. Wafer was in the
canoas, with the boat guard, preparing salves for those wounded in the
fight. The day seems to have been hot and sunny--it could scarcely have
been otherwise--but those out at sea, on the galleon, could see the
streamers of cloud wreathing about the Andes.

At sunrise the buccaneers got ashore, amongst the rocks, and scrambled
up a hill which gave them a sight of the city. From the summit they
could look right down upon the streets, little more than a mile from
them. It was too early for folk to be stirring, and the streets were
deserted, save for the yellow pariahs, and one or two carrion birds. It
was so still, in that little town, that the pirates thought they would
surprise the place, as Drake had surprised Nombre de Dios. But while
they were marching downhill, they saw three horsemen watching them from
a lookout place, and presently the horsemen galloped off to raise the
inhabitants. As they galloped away, John Watling chose out forty of the
ninety-two, to attack the fort or castle which defended the city. This
band of forty, among whom were Sharp and Ringrose, carried ten
hand-grenades, in addition to their pistols and guns. The fort was on a
hill above the town, and thither the storming party marched, while
Watling's company pressed on into the streets. The action began a few
minutes later with the guns of the fort firing on the storming party.
Down in the town, almost at the same moment, the musketry opened in a
long roaring roll which never slackened. Ringrose's party waited for no
further signal, but at once engaged, running in under the guns and
hurling their firepots through the embrasures. The grenades were damp,
or badly filled, or had been too long charged. They did not burst or
burn as they should have done, while the garrison inside the fort kept
up so hot a fire, at close range, that nothing could be done there. The
storming party fell back, without loss, and rallied for a fresh attack.
They noticed then that Watling's men were getting no farther towards the
town. They were halted in line, with their knees on the ground, firing
on the breastworks, and receiving a terrible fire from the Spaniards.
Five of the fifty-two men were down (three of them killed) and the case
was growing serious. The storming party left the fort, and doubled
downhill into the firing line, where they poured in volley after
blasting volley, killing a Spaniard at each shot, making "a very
desperate battle" of it, "our rage increasing with our wounds." No
troops could stand such file-firing. The battle became "mere bloody
massacre," and the Spaniards were beaten from their posts. Volley after
volley shook them, for the pirates "filled every street in the city with
dead bodies"; and at last ran in upon them, and clubbed them and cut
them down, and penned them in as prisoners. But as the Spaniards under
arms were at least twenty times as many as the pirates, there was no
taking the city from them. They were beaten from post to post fighting
like devils, but the pirates no sooner left a post they had taken, "than
they came another way, and manned it again, with new forces and fresh
men." The streets were heaped with corpses, yet the Spaniards came on,
and came on again, till the sand of the roads was like red mud. At last
they were fairly beaten from the chief parts of the town, and numbers of
them were penned up as prisoners; more, in fact, than the pirates could
guard. The battle paused for a while at this stage, and the pirates took
advantage of the lull to get their wounded (perhaps a dozen men), into
one of the churches to have their wounds dressed. As the doctors of the
party began their work, John Watling sent a message to the fort,
charging the garrison to surrender. The soldiers returned no answer, but
continued to load their guns, being helped by the armed townsfolk, who
now flocked to them in scores. The fort was full of musketeers when the
pirates made their second attack a little after noon.

At the second attack, John Watling took 100 of his prisoners, placed
them in front of his storming party, and forced them forward, as a
screen to his men, when he made his charge. The garrison shot down
friend and foe indiscriminately, and repulsed the attack, and repulsed a
second attack which followed a few minutes later. There was no taking
the fort by storm, and the pirates had no great guns with which to
batter it. They found, however, that one of the flat-roofed houses in
the town, near the fort's outworks, commanded the interior. "We got upon
the top of the house," says Ringrose, "and from there fired down into
the fort, killing many of their men and wounding them at our ease and
pleasure." While they were doing this, a number of the Lima soldiers
joined the citizens, and fell, with great fury, upon the prisoners'
guards in the town. They easily beat back the few guards, and retook the
city. As soon as they had taken the town, they came swarming out to cut
off the pirates from their retreat, and to hem them in between the fort
and the sea. They were in such numbers that they were able to surround
the pirates, who now began to lose men at every volley, and to look
about them a little anxiously as they bit their cartridges. From every
street in the town came Spanish musketeers at the double, swarm after
swarm of them, perhaps a couple of thousand. The pirates left the fort,
and turned to the main army, at the same time edging away towards the
south, to the hospital, or church, where their wounded men were being
dressed. As they moved away from the battlefield, firing as they
retreated, old John Watling was shot in the liver with a bullet, and
fell dead there, to go buccaneering no more. A moment later "both our
quartermasters" fell, with half-a-dozen others, including the boatswain.
All this time the cannon of the fort were pounding over them, and the
round-shot were striking the ground all about, flinging the sand into
their faces. What with the dust and the heat and the trouble of helping
the many hurt, their condition was desperate. "So that now the enemy
rallying against us, and beating us from place to place, we were in a
very distracted condition, and in more likelihood to perish every man
than escape the bloodiness of that day. Now we found the words of
Captain Sharp to bear a true prophecy, being all very sensible that we
had had a day too hot for us, after that cruel heat in killing and
murdering in cold blood the old Mestizo Indian whom we had taken
prisoner at Yqueque." In fact they were beaten and broken, and the fear
of death was on them, and the Spaniards were ringing them round, and the
firing was roaring from every point. They were a bloody, dusty, choking
gang of desperates, "in great disorder," black with powder, their
tongues hanging out with thirst. As they stood grouped together, cursing
and firing, some of them asked Captain Sharp to take command, and get
them out of that, seeing that Watling was dead, and no one there could
give an order. To this request Sharp at last consented, and a retreat
was begun, under cover of a fighting rear-guard, "and I hope," says
Sharp, "it will not be esteemed a Vanity in me to say, that I was mighty
Helpful to facilitate this Retreat." In the midst of a fearful racket
of musketry, he fought the pirates through the soldiers to the church
where the wounded lay. There was no time, nor was there any conveyance,
for the wounded, and they were left lying there, all desperately hurt.
The two surgeons could have been saved "but that they had been drinking
while we assaulted the fort, and thus would not come with us when they
were called." There was no time for a second call, for the Spaniards
were closing in on them, and the firing was as fierce as ever. The men
were so faint with hunger and thirst, the heat of battle, and the long
day's marching, that Sharp feared he would never get them to the boats.
A fierce rush of Spaniards beat them away from the hospital, and drove
them out of the town "into the Savannas or open fields." The Spaniards
gave a cheer and charged in to end the battle, but the pirates were a
dogged lot, and not yet at the end of their strength. They got into a
clump or cluster, with a few wounded men in the centre, to load the
muskets, "resolving to die one by another" rather than to run. They
stood firm, cursing and damning the Spaniards, telling them to come on,
and calling them a lot of cowards. There were not fifty buccaneers fit
to carry a musket, but the forty odd, unhurt men stood steadily, and
poured in such withering volleys of shot, with such terrible precision,
that the Spanish charge went to pieces. As the charge broke, the pirates
plied them again, and made a "bloody massacre" of them, so that they ran
to shelter like so many frightened rabbits. The forty-seven had beaten
off twenty or thirty times their number, and had won themselves a
passage home.

There was no question of trying to retake the town. The men were in such
misery that the march back to the boats taxed their strength to the
breaking point. They set off over the savannah, in as good order as they
could, with a wounded man, or two, in every rank of them. As they set
forward, a company of horsemen rode out, and got upon their flanks "and
fired at us all the way, though they would not come within reach of our
guns; for their own reached farther than ours, and out-shot us more than
one third." There was great danger of these horsemen cutting in, and
destroying them, on the long open rolls of savannah, so Sharp gave the
word, and the force shogged westward to the seashore, along which they
trudged to the boats. The beach to the south of Arica runs along the
coast, in a narrow strip, under cliffs and rocky ground, for several
miles. The sand is strewn with boulders, so that the horsemen, though
they followed the pirates, could make no concerted charge upon them.
Some of them rode ahead of them and got above them on the cliff tops,
from which they rolled down "great stones and whole rocks to destroy
us." None of these stones did any harm to the pirates, for the cliffs
were so rough and broken that the skipping boulders always flew wide of
the mark. But though the pirates "escaped their malice for that time,"
they were yet to run a terrible danger before getting clear away to sea.
The Spaniards had been examining, or torturing, the wounded pirates, and
the two drunken surgeons, left behind in the town. "These gave them our
signs that we had left to our boats [_i.e._ revealed the signals by
which the boats were to be called] so that they immediately blew up two
smokes, which were perceived by the canoas." Had the pirates "not come
at the instant" to the seaside, within hail of the boats, they would
have been gone. Indeed they were already under sail, and beating slowly
up to the northward, in answer to the signal. Thus, by a lucky chance,
the whole company escaped destruction. They lost no time in putting from
the shore, where they had met with "so very bad Entertainment." They
"got on board about ten a Clock at night; having been involved in a
continual and bloody fight ... all that day long." Of the ninety-two,
who had landed that morning, twenty-eight had been left ashore, either
dead, or as prisoners. Of the sixty-four who got to the canoas, eighteen
were desperately wounded, and barely able to walk. Most of the others
were slightly hurt, while all were too weary to do anything, save sleep
or drink. Of the men left behind in the hospital the Spaniards spared
the doctors only; "they being able to do them good service in that
country." "But as to the wounded men," says Ringrose, "they were all
knocked on the head," and so ended their roving, and came to port where
drunken doctors could torture them no longer. The Ylo men denied this;
and said that the seven pirates who did not die of their wounds were
kept as slaves. The Spanish loss is not known, but it was certainly
terrible. The Hilo, or Ylo people, some weeks later, said that seventy
Spaniards had been killed and about 200 wounded.

All the next day the pirates "plied to and fro in sight of the port,"
hoping that the Spaniards would man the ships in the bay, and come out
to fight. They reinstated Sharp in his command, for they had now
"recollected a better Temper," though none of them, it seems, wished for
any longer stay in the South Sea. The Arica fight had sickened them of
the South Sea, while several of them (including Ringrose) became very
ill from the exposure and toil of the battle. They beat to windward,
cruising, when they found that the Spaniards would not put to sea to
fight them. They met with dirty weather when they had reached the
thirtieth parallel, and the foul weather, and their bad fortune made
them resolve to leave those seas. At a fo'c's'le council held on the 3rd
of March, they determined to put the helm up, and to return to the North
Sea. They were short of water and short of food, "having only one cake
of bread a day," or perhaps half-a-pound of "doughboy," for their
"whack" or allowance. After a few days' running before the wind they
came to "the port of Guasco," now Huasco, between Coquimbo and Caldera,
a little town of sixty or eighty houses, with copper smeltries, a
church, a river, and some sheep-runs. Sixty of the buccaneers went
ashore here, that same evening, to get provisions, "and anything else
that we could purchase." They passed the night in the church, or "in a
churchyard," and in the morning took "120 sheep and fourscore goats,"
about 200 bushels of corn "ready ground," some fowls, a fat hog, any
quantity of fruit, peas, beans, etc., and a small stock of wine. These
goods they conveyed aboard as being "fit for our Turn." The inhabitants
had removed their gold and silver while the ship came to her anchor, "so
that our booty here, besides provisions, was inconsiderable." They found
the fat hog "very like our English pork," thereby illustrating the
futility of travel; and so sailed away again "to seek greater matters."
Before they left, they contrived to fill their water jars in the river,
a piece of work which they found troublesome, owing to the height of the

[Illustration: _A Description of_ Hilo]

From Huasco, where the famous white raisins grow, they sailed to Ylo,
where they heard of their mates at Arica, and secured some wine, figs,
sugar, and molasses, and some "fruits just ripe and fit for eating,"
including "extraordinary good Oranges of the China sort" They then
coasted slowly northward, till by Saturday, 16th April, they arrived off
the island of Plate. Here their old bickerings broke out again, for many
of the pirates were disgusted with Sharp, and eager to go home. Many of
the others had recovered their spirits since the affair at Arica, and
wished to stay in the South Seas, to cruise a little longer. Those who
had fought at Arica would not allow Sharp to be deposed a second
time, while those who had been shipkeepers on that occasion, were angry
that he should have been re-elected. The two parties refused to be
reconciled. They quarrelled angrily whenever they came on deck together,
and the party spirit ran so high that the company of shipkeepers, the
anti-Sharp faction, "the abler and more experienced men," at last
refused to cruise any longer under Sharp's command. The fo'c's'le
council decided that a poll should be taken, and "that which party
soever, upon polling, should be found to have the majority, should keep
the ship." The other party was to take the long boat and the canoas. The
division was made, and "Captain Sharp's Party carried it." The night was
spent in preparing the long boat and the canoas, and the next morning
the boats set sail.



    The way home--Sufferings and adventures

At "about Ten a Clock" in the morning of 17th April 1681, the mutineers
went over the side into their "Lanch and Canoas, designing for the River
Santa Maria, in the Gulf of St Michael." "We were in number," says
Dampier, who was of the party, "44 white Men who bore Arms, a _Spanish
Indian_, who bore Arms also; and two _Moskito Indians_," who carried
pistols and fish spears. Lionel Wafer "was of Mr Dampier's Side in that
Matter," and acted as surgeon to the forty-seven, until he met with his
accident. They embarked in the ship's launch or long boat, one canoa
"and another Canoa which had been sawn asunder in the middle, in order
to have made Bumkins, or Vessels for carrying water, if we had not
separated from our Ship." This old canoa they contrived to patch
together. For provisions they brought with them "so much Flower as we
could well carry"; which "Flower" "we" had been industriously grinding
for the last three days. In addition to the "Flower" they had "rubbed up
20 or 30 pound of Chocolate with Sugar to sweeten it." And so provided,
they hoisted their little sails and stood in for the shore. "The Sea
Breeze came in strong" before they reached the land, so that they had to
cut up an old dry hide to make a close-fight round the launch "to keep
the Water out." They took a small timber barque the next morning, and
went aboard her, and sailed her over to Gorgona, where they scrubbed
her bottom. They learned from their prisoners that the Spaniards were
on the alert, eagerly expecting them, and cruising the seas with fast
advice boats to get a sight of them. Three warships lay at Panama, ready
to hunt them whenever the cruisers brought news of their whereabouts. A
day or two later, the pirates saw "two great ships," with many guns in
their ports, slowly beating to the southward in search of their company.
The heavy rain which was falling kept the small timber barque hidden,
while the pirates took the precautions of striking sail, and rowing
close in shore. "If they had seen and chased us," the pirates would have
landed, trusting to the local Indians to make good their escape over the

After twelve days of sailing they anchored about twenty miles from the
San Miguel Gulf, in order to clean their arms, and dry their clothes and
powder, before proceeding up the river, by the way they had come. The
next morning they set sail into the Gulf, and anchored off an island,
intending to search the river's mouth for Spaniards before adventuring
farther. As they had feared, a large Spanish man-of-war lay anchored at
the river's mouth, "close by the shore," with her guns commanding the
entrance. Some of her men could be seen upon the beach, by the door of a
large tent, made of the ship's lower canvas. "When the Canoas came
aboard with this News," says Dampier, "some of our Men were a little
dis-heartned; but it was no more than I ever expected." An hour or two
later they took one of the Spaniards from the ship and learned from him
that the ship carried twelve great guns, and that three companies of
men, with small arms, would join her during the next twenty-four hours.
They learned also that the Indians of that district were friendly to the
Spaniards. Plainly the pirates were in a dangerous position. "It was not
convenient to stay longer there," says Dampier. They got aboard their
ship without loss of time, and ran out of the river "with the Tide of
Ebb," resolved to get ashore at the first handy creek they came to.

Early the next morning they ran into "a small Creek within two Keys, or
little Islands, and rowed up to the Head of the Creek, being about a
Mile up, and there we landed May 1, 1681." The men flung their food and
clothes ashore, and scuttled their little ship, so that she sank at her
moorings. While they packed their "Snap-sacks" with flour, chocolate,
canisters of powder, beads, and whittles for the Indians, their slaves
"struck a plentiful Dish of Fish" for them, which they presently
broiled, and ate for their breakfasts. Some of the men scouted on ahead
for a mile or two, and then returned with the news that there were no
immediate dangers in front of them. Some of the pirates were weak and
sick, and "not well able to march." "We," therefore, "gave out, that if
any Man faultred in the Journey over Land he must expect to be shot to
death; for we knew that the Spaniards would soon be after us, and one
Man falling into their hands might be the ruin of us all, by giving an
account of our strength and condition: yet this would not deter 'em from
going with us."

At three that afternoon they set out into the jungle, steering a N.E.
course "by our Pocket Compasses." The rain beat upon them all the rest
of that day, and all the night long, a drenching and steady downpour,
which swamped the "small Hutts" they contrived to patch together. In the
morning they struck an old Indian trail, no broader than a horse-girth,
running somewhat to the east. They followed it through the forest till
they came to an Indian town, where the squaws gave them some corn-drink
or miscelaw, and sold them a few fowls and "a sort of wild Hogs." They
hired a guide at this village, "to guide us a day's march into the
Countrey." "He was to have for his pains a Hatchet, and his Bargain was
to bring us to a certain Indians habitation, who could speak Spanish."
They paid faithfully for the food the Indians gave them, and shared "all
sorts of our Provisions in common, because none should live better than
others," and so stand a better chance of crossing the isthmus. When they
started out, after a night's rest, one of the pirates, being already
sick of the march, slipped away into the jungle, and was seen no more.

They found the Spanish-speaking Indian in a bad mood. He swore that he
knew no road to the North Sea, but that he could take them to Cheapo, or
to Santa Maria, "which we knew to be Spanish Garrisons: either of them
at least 20 miles out of our way." He was plainly unwilling to have any
truck with them, for "his discourse," was in an angry tone, and he "gave
very impertinent answers" to the questions put to him. "However we were
forced to make a virtue of necessity, and humour him, for it was neither
time nor place to be angry with the Indians; all our lives lying in
their hand." The pirates were at their wits' end, for they lay but a few
miles from the guard ship, and this surly chief could very well set the
Spaniards on them. They tempted him with green and blue beads, with gold
and silver, both in the crude and in coin, with beautiful steel axe
heads, with machetes, "or long knives"; "but nothing would work on him."
The pirates were beginning to despair, when one of them produced "a
Sky-coloured Petticoat," and placed it about the person of the chief's
favourite wife. How he had become possessed of such a thing, and whether
it came from a Hilo beauty, and whether she gave it as a love token, on
the ship's sailing, cannot now be known. It may have been an article
brought expressly from Jamaica for the fascination of the Indians. But
_honi soit qui mal y pense_. The truth of the matter will never be
learned. It is sufficient that the man produced it in the very nick of
time, and laid the blue tissue over the copper-coloured lady. She was so
much pleased with it "that she immediately began to chatter to her
Husband, and soon brought him into a better Humour." He relented at
once, and said that he knew the trail to the North Sea, and that he
would gladly guide them thither were a cut upon his foot healed. As he
could not go himself he persuaded another Indian to guide them "2 Days
march further for another Hatchet." He tried hard to induce the party to
stay with him for the rest of the day as the rain was pouring down in
torrents. "But our business required more haste, our Enemies lying so
near us, for he told us that he could go from his house aboard the
Guard-Ship in a Tides time; and this was the 4th day since they saw us.
So we marched 3 Miles further and then built Hutts, where we stayed all
Night," with the thatch dripping water on to them in a steady trickle.

On taking to the road again, wet and starving as they were, they found
themselves in a network of rivers, some thirty of which they had to
wade, during the day's march. The heavy rain drenched them as they
clambered along across the jungle. They had but a little handful of fire
that night, so that they could not dry nor warm themselves. They
crouched about the "funk of green-wood," shivering in the smoke, chewing
bullets to alleviate their hunger. They slept there in great misery,
careless of what happened to them. "The Spaniards were but seldom in our
thoughts," says Dampier, for the pirates thought only of guides and
food, and feared their own Indian servants more than the enemy. A watch
of two pirates kept a guard all that night, with orders to shoot any
Indian who showed a sign of treachery. They rose before it was light and
pushed on into the woods, biting on the bullet, or the quid, to help
them to forget their hunger. By ten o'clock they arrived at the house of
a brisk young Indian, who had been a servant to the Bishop of Panama,
the man who gave the gold ring to Sawkins. Here they had a feast of yams
and sweet potatoes, boiled into a broth with monkey-meat, a great
comfort to those who were weak and sickly. They built a great fire in
one of the huts, at which they dried their clothes, now falling to
pieces from the continual soakings. They also cleaned their rusty
gun-locks, and dried their powder, talking cheerily together, about the
fire, while the rain roared upon the thatch. They were close beside the
Rio Congo "and thus far," says Dampier, the most intelligent man among
them, "we might have come in our Canoa, if I could have persuaded them
to it."

As they sat in the hut, in the warmth of the blaze, that rainy May day,
Lionel Wafer met with an accident. He was sitting on the ground, beside
one of the pirates, who was drying his powder, little by little, half a
pound at a time, in a great silver dish, part of the plunder of the
cruise. "A careless Fellow passed by with his Pipe lighted," and dropped
some burning crumb of tobacco on to the powder, which at once blew up.
It scorched Wafer's knee very terribly, tearing off the flesh from the
bone, and burning his leg from the knee to the thigh. Wafer, who was the
surgeon of the party, had a bag full of salves and medicines. He managed
to dress his wounds, and to pass a fairly comfortable night, "and being
unwilling to be left behind by my Companions, I made hard shift to jog
on, and bear them Company," when camp was broken at daybreak.

Lame as he was, he kept up with his mates all that day, fording rivers
"several times," and crossing country which would tax the strongest man,
in good condition. "The last time we forded the River, it was so deep,
that our tallest Men stood in the deepest place, and handed the sick,
weak and short Men"; by which act of comradeship "we all got over safe."
Two of the pirates, "Robert Spratlin and William Bowman," could get no
farther, and were left behind at the river. Dampier notes that his
"Joint of Bambo, which I stopt at both Ends, closing it with Wax, so as
to keep out any Water," preserved his "Journal and other Writings from
being wet," though he had often to swim for it.

Drenched and tired, they pitched their huts by the river-bank, poor
Wafer in torment from his knee, and the rest of them hungry and cold.
They had hardly finished their huts, when the river came down in a great
wall of water, some sudden flood, due to a cloud-burst higher up. The
flood sucked away their huts, and forced them to run to higher ground.
They passed that night "straggling in the Woods, some under one Tree,
some under another," with the thunder roaring overhead, and the
lightning making a livid brightness all about them. The rain fell in
torrents, and the pirates were far too wretched to keep watch. "So our
Slaves, taking Opportunity, went away in the Night; all but one, who was
hid in some hole, and knew nothing of their design, or else fell
asleep." Among these slaves was a black man, Lionel Wafer's assistant,
who carried the salves and medicaments. He took these with him when he
slunk away, nor did he forget the "Chirurgeon's Gun and all his Money."
He left poor Wafer destitute there, in the forest, "depriv'd of
wherewithal to dress my sore."

In the morning, they found that the river had fallen, but not so much as
they had hoped. It was still too deep to ford, and the current ran very
swiftly, but Dampier and some other swimmers managed to swim across.
They then endeavoured to get a line over, by which to ferry the men who
could not swim, and the arms and powder they had left on the other
bank. They decided to send a man back with a line, with instructions to
pass the goods first, and then the men. "One George Gayny took the end
of a Line and made it fast about his Neck, and left the other end
ashore, and one Man stood by the Line, to clear it away to him." When
Gayny was about half way across, the line, which was kinky with the wet,
got entangled. The man who was lighting it out checked it a moment to
take out the kink, or to clear it. The check threw Gayny on his back,
"and he that had the Line in his hand," instead of slacking away, or
hauling in, so as to bring Gayny ashore, "threw it all into the River
after him, thinking he might recover himself." The stream was running
down with great fierceness. Gayny had a bag of 300 dollars on his back,
and this bag, with the weight of the line, dragged him under. He was
carried down, and swept out of sight "and never seen more by us." "This
put a period to that contrivance," adds Dampier grimly.

As they had no wish to emulate poor Gayny, they sought about "for a Tree
to fell across the River." They cut it down, as soon as they had found
it, "and it reached clean over." The goods and pirates were then crossed
in safety. All hands soon forgot poor Gayny, for they came across a
plantain walk in a clearing, and made a good breakfast, and stripped it
of every fruit. They dismissed their guide here, with the gift of an axe
head, and hired an old Indian to guide them farther towards the North
Sea. The next day they reckoned themselves out of danger, and set forth

For the last two days Wafer had been in anguish from his burnt knee. As
the pirates made ready to leave their bivouac, on the tenth morning of
the march, he declared that he could not "trudge it further through
Rivers and Woods," with his knee as it was. Two other pirates who were
broken with the going, declared that they, also, were too tired out to
march. There was no talk, among the rest of the band, about shooting the
weary ones, according to the order they had made at starting. Instead of
"putting them out of their misery," they "took a very kind Leave,"
giving the broken men such stores as they could spare, and telling them
to keep in good heart, and follow on when they had rested.

One of Wafer's comrades on this occasion was "Mr Richard Jopson, who had
served an Apprenticeship to a Druggist in London. He was an ingenious
Man, and a good Scholar; he had with him a Greek Testament which he
frequently read, and would translate _extempore_ into _English_, to such
of the Company as were dispos'd to hear him." The other weary man was
John Hingson, a mariner. They watched their mates march away through the
woods, and then turned back, sick at heart, to the shelter of the huts,
where the Indians looked at them sulkily, and flung them green
plantains, "as you would Bones to a Dog." One of the Indians made a mess
of aromatic herbs and dressed Wafer's burn, so that, in three weeks'
time, he could walk.

Dampier's party marched on through jungle, wading across rivers, which
took them up to the chest, staggering through swamps and bogs, and
clambering over rotten tree trunks, and across thorn brakes. They were
wet and wretched and half starved, for their general food was macaw
berries. Sometimes they killed a monkey, once Dampier killed a turkey,
and once they came to a plantain patch where "we fed plentifully on
plantains, both ripe and green." Their clothes were rotted into shreds,
their boots were fallen to pieces, their feet were blistered and raw,
their legs were mere skinless ulcers from the constant soaking. Their
faces were swelled and bloody from the bites of mosquitoes and
wood-ticks. "Not a Man of us but wisht the Journey at an End." Those who
have seen "Bad Lands," or what is called "timber," or what is called
"bush," will know what the party looked like, when, on the twenty-second
day, they saw the North Sea. The day after that they reached the Rio
Conception, and drifted down to the sea in some canoas, to an Indian
village, built on the beach "for the benefit of Trade with the
Privateers." About nine miles away, the Indians told them, was a French
privateer ship, under one Captain Tristian, lying at La Sounds Key. They
stayed a night at the village, and then went aboard the French ship,
which was careened in a creek, with a brushwood fire on her side,
cleaning away her barnacles for a roving cruise. Here they parted with
their Indian guides, not without sorrow, for it is not pleasant to say
"So Long" to folk with whom one has struggled, and lived, and suffered.
"We were resolved to reward them to their hearts' Content," said
Dampier, much as a cowboy, at the end of the trail, will give sugar to
his horse, as he bids him good-bye. The pirates spent their silver
royally, buying red, blue and green beads, and knives, scissors, and
looking-glasses, from the French pirates. They bought up the entire
stock of the French ship, but even then they felt that they had not
rewarded their guides sufficiently. They therefore subscribed a
half-dollar piece each, in coin, as a sort of makeweight. With the toys,
and the bags of silver, the delighted Indians passed back to the
isthmus, where they told golden stories of the kind whites, so that the
Indians of the Main could not do enough for Wafer, and for the four
pirates left behind on the march.

Dampier's party had marched in all 110 miles, over the most damnable and
heart-breaking country which the mind of man can imagine. They had
marched "heavy," with their guns and bags of dollars; and this in the
rainy season. They had starved and suffered, and shivered and agonised,
yet they had lost but two men, poor Gayny, who was drowned, and
(apparently) one who had slipped away on the third day of the march.
This man may have been the Spanish Indian. A note in Ringrose's
narrative alludes to the capture of one of Dampier's party by the
Spanish soldiers, and this may have been the man meant.

Two days later, when the Indian guides had gone, and the privateer was
fit for the sea, they set sail for "the rendezvous of the fleet," which
had been fixed for Springers' Key "another of the Samballoes Isles."
Perhaps the English pirates hove up the anchor, the grand privilege of
the guests, aboard ship, to the old anchor tune, with its mournful and
lovely refrain--

    "I'll go no more a-roving with you, fair maid."

The old band of never-strikes were outward bound on another foray.

As for Wafer, and his two companions, they stayed with the Indians for
some days, living on plantains (given very grudgingly), and wondering
whether the Indians would kill them. The natives were kindly, as a rule,
to the French and English, but it was now the rainy season, when they
liked to stay in their huts, about their fires. The pirates "had in a
Manner awed the Indian guides they took ... and made them go with them
very much against their Wills." The Indians had resented this act of the
pirates, and as days went by, and the guides did not return, they judged
that the white men had killed them. They prepared "a great Pile of Wood
to burn us," says Wafer, meaning to avenge their fellows, whom they "had
supposed dead." But a friendly old chief dissuaded them from this act, a
few hours before the intended execution.

While the three were living thus, in doubt whether they would be
speared, or held as slaves, or sold to the Spaniards, the two pirates,
Spratlin and Bowman, who had been left behind at the Rio Congo, arrived
at the village. They had had a terrible journey together, "among the
wild Woods and Rivers," wandering without guides, and living on roots
and plantains. On their way, they had come upon George Gayny "lying dead
in a Creek where the Eddy had driven him ashore," "with the Rope twisted
about him, and his Money at his Neck." They left the body where it lay,
with its sack of silver dollars for which the poor man had come so far,
and suffered so bitterly. They had no use for dollars at that time
"being only in care how to work their way through a wild un-Known

After a time, the Indians helped the five men a two days' march on their
journey, and then deserted them, leaving them to find the path by
themselves, with no better guide than a pocket compass. While crossing a
river by the bole of a fallen tree, the man Bowman "a weakly Man, a
Taylor by Trade," slipped into the current, and was carried off, with
"400 Pieces of Eight" in his satchel. He was luckier than poor Gayny,
for he contrived to get out. In time they reached the North Sea, and
came to La Sounds Key, according to the prophecy of an Indian wizard.
Here they found Dampier's sloop, and rejoined their comrades, to the
great delight of all hands. "Mr Wafer wore a clout about him, and was
painted like an Indian," so that "'twas the better Part of an Hour,
before one of the Crew cry'd out Here's our Doctor." There was a great
feast that night at La Sounds Key, much drinking of rum and firing of
small arms, and a grand ringing of bells in honour of the happy return.

In spite of all they could do, poor Mr Jopson, or Cobson, only lived for
three or four days after he reached the ship. "His Fatigues, and his
Drenching in the Water" had been too much for the poor man. He lay
"languishing" in his cot for a few days, babbling of the drugs of
Bucklersbury, and thumbing his Greek Testament, and at last passed in
his checks, quietly and sadly, and "died there at La Sounds Key." They
buried the poor man in the sands, with very genuine sorrow, and then
bade the Indians adieu, and gave their dead mate a volley of guns, and
so set sail, with the colours at half-mast, for "the more Eastern Isles
of the Samballoes."

As for Captain Bartholomew Sharp, in the ship the _Trinity_, he
continued to sail the South Seas with the seventy pirates left to him.
Some days after Dampier's party sailed, he took a Guayaquil ship, called
the _San Pedro_, which he had taken fourteen months before off Panama.
Aboard her he found nearly 40,000 pieces of eight, besides silver bars,
and ingots of gold. He also took a great ship called the _San Rosario_,
the richest ship the buccaneers ever captured. She had many chests of
pieces of eight aboard her, and a quantity of wine and brandy. Down in
her hold, bar upon bar, "were 700 pigs of plate," rough silver from the
mines, not yet fitted for the Lima mint. The pirates thought that this
crude silver was tin, and so left it where it lay, in the hold of the
_Rosario_ "which we turned away loose into the sea," with the stuff
aboard her. One pig of the 700 was brought aboard the pirates "to make
bullets of." About two-thirds of it was "melted and squandered," but
some of it was left long afterwards, when the _Trinity_ touched at
Antigua. Here they gave what was left to "a Bristol man," probably in
exchange for a dram of rum. The Bristol man took it home to England "and
sold it there for £75 sterling." "Thus," said Ringrose, "we parted with
the richest booty we got in the whole voyage." Captain Bartholomew Sharp
was responsible for the turning adrift of all this silver. Some of the
pirates had asked leave to hoist it aboard the _Trinity_. But it chanced
that, aboard the _Rosario_, was a Spanish lady, "the beautifullest
Creature" that the "Eyes" of Captain Sharp ever beheld. The amorous
captain was so inflamed by this beauty that he paid no attention to
anything else.

In a very drunken and quarrelsome condition, the pirates worked the
_Trinity_ round the Horn, and so home to Barbadoes. They did not dare to
land there, for one of the King's frigates, H.M.S. _Richmond_, was lying
at Bridgetown, and the pirates "feared lest the said frigate should
seize us." They bore away to Antigua, where Ringrose, and "thirteen
more," shipped themselves for England. They landed at Dartmouth on the
26th of March 1682. A few more of the company went ashore at Antigua,
and scattered to different haunts. Sharp and a number of pirates landed
at Nevis, from whence they shipped for London. The ship the _Trinity_
was left to seven of the gang who had diced away all their money. What
became of her is not known.

Sharp and a number of his men were arrested in London, and tried for
piracy, but the Spanish Ambassador, who brought the charge, was without
evidence and could not obtain convictions. They pleaded that "the
Spaniards fired at us first," and that they had acted only in
self-defence, so they 'scaped hanging, though Sharp admits that they
"were very near it." Three more of the crew were laid by the heels at
Jamaica, and one of these was "wheedled into an open confession," and
condemned, and hanged. "The other two stood it out, and escaped for want
of witnesses."

Of the four men so often quoted in this narrative, only one, so far as
we know, died a violent death. This was Basil Ringrose, who was shot at
Santa Pecaque a few years later. It is not known how Dampier, Wafer, and
Sharp died, but all lived adventurously, and went a-roving, for many
years after the _Trinity_ dropped her anchor off Antigua.

They were of that old breed of rover whose port lay always a little
farther on; a little beyond the sky-line. Their concern was not to
preserve life, "but rather to squander it away"; to fling it, like so
much oil, into the fire, for the pleasure of going up in a blaze. If
they lived riotously let it be urged in their favour that at least they
lived. They lived their vision. They were ready to die for what they
believed to be worth doing. We think them terrible. Life itself is
terrible. But life was not terrible to them; for they were comrades; and
comrades and brothers-in-arms are stronger than life. Those who "live at
home at ease" may condemn them. They are free to do so. The old
buccaneers were happier than they. The buccaneers had comrades, and the
strength to live their own lives. They may laugh at those who, lacking
that strength, would condemn them with the hate of impotence.




Until the reign of Henry VIII. the shipping of these islands was of two
kinds. There were longships, propelled, for the most part, by oars, and
used generally as warships; and there were roundships, or dromonds,
propelled by sails, and used as a rule for the carriage of freight. The
dromond, in war-time, was sometimes converted into a warship, by the
addition of fighting-castles fore and aft. The longship, in peace time,
was no doubt used as a trader, as far as her shallow draught, and small
beam, allowed.

The longship, or galley, being, essentially, an oar vessel, had to
fulfil certain simple conditions. She had to be light, or men might not
row her. She had to be long, or she might not carry enough oarsmen to
propel her with sufficient swiftness. Her lightness, and lack of
draught, made it impossible for her to carry much provision; while the
number of her oars made it necessary for her to carry a large crew of
rowers, in addition to her soldiers and sail trimmers. It was therefore
impossible for such a ship to keep the seas for any length of time, even
had their build fitted them for the buffetings of the stormy home
waters. For short cruises, coast work, rapid forays, and "shock
tactics," she was admirable; but she could not stray far from a friendly
port, nor put out in foul weather. The roundship, dromond, or cargo
boat, was often little more than two beams long, and therefore far too
slow to compete with ships of the galley type. She could stand heavy
weather better than the galley, and she needed fewer hands, and could
carry more provisions, but she was almost useless as a ship of war.

In the reign of Henry VIII. the shipwrights of this country began to
build ships which combined something of the strength, and capacity of
the dromond, with the length and fineness of the galley. The ships they
evolved were mainly dependent upon their sails, but they carried a bank
of oars on each side, for use in light weather. The galley, or longship,
had carried guns on a platform at the bows, pointing forward. But these
new vessels carried guns in broadside, in addition to the bow-chasers.
These broadside guns were at first mounted _en barbette_, pointing over
the bulwarks. Early in the sixteenth century the port-hole, with a
hinged lid, was invented, and the guns were then pointed through the
ship's sides. As these ships carried more guns than the galleys, they
were built more strongly, lest the shock of the explosions should shake
them to pieces. They were strong enough to keep the seas in bad weather,
yet they had enough of the galley build to enable them to sail fast when
the oars were laid inboard. It is thought that they could have made as
much as four or five knots an hour. These ships were known as
galliasses,[18] and galleons, according to the proportions between their
lengths and beams. The galleons were shorter in proportion to their
breadth than the galliasses.[19] There was another kind of vessel, the
pinnace, which had an even greater proportionate length than the
galliasse. Of the three kinds, the galleon, being the shortest in
proportion to her breadth, was the least fitted for oar propulsion.

[Footnote 18: See Charnock's "Marine Architecture."]

[Footnote 19: See Corbett's "Drake and the Tudor Navy."]


During the reign of Elizabeth, the galleon, or great ship, and the
galliasse, or cruiser, grew to gradual perfection, in the hands of our
great sailors. If we look upon the galleon or great ship as the
prototype of the ship of the line, and on the galliasse as the prototype
of the frigate, and on the pinnace as the prototype of the sloop, or
corvette, we shall not be far wrong. They were, of course, in many ways
inferior to the ships which fought in the great French wars, two
centuries later, but their general appearance was similar. The rig was
different, but not markedly so, while the hulls of the ships presented
many points of general likeness. The Elizabethan ships were, however,
very much smaller than most of the rated ships in use in the eighteenth

[Illustration: A GALLIASSE]

The galleon, or great ship, at the end of the sixteenth century, was
sometimes of as much as 900 tons. She was generally low in the waist,
with a high square forecastle forward, a high quarter-deck, raised above
the waist, just abaft the main-mast, and a poop above the quarter-deck,
sloping upward to the taffrail. These high outerworks were shut off from
the open waist (the space between the main-mast and the forecastle) by
wooden bulkheads, which were pierced for small, quick-firing guns. Below
the upper, or spar deck, she had a gun-deck, if not more than one, with
guns on each side, and right aft. The galliasse was sometimes
flush-decked, without poop and forecastle, and sometimes built with
both, but she was never so "high charged" as the galleon. The pinnace
was as the galliasse, though smaller.

The galleon's waist was often without bulwarks, so that when she went
into action it became necessary to give her sail trimmers, and spar-deck
fighting men, some protection from the enemy's shot.[20] Sometimes this
was done by the hauling up of waist-trees, or spars of rough untrimmed
timber, to form a sort of wooden wall. Sometimes they rigged what was
called a top-arming, or top armour, a strip of cloth like the "war
girdle" of the Norse longships, across the unprotected space. This
top-arming was of canvas some two bolts deep (3 feet 6 inches), gaily
painted in designs of red, yellow, green, and white. It gave no
protection against shot, but it prevented the enemy's gunners from
taking aim at the deck, or from playing upon the hatchways with their
murderers and pateraroes. It also kept out boarders, and was a fairly
good shield to catch the arrows and crossbow bolts shot from the enemy's
tops. Sometimes the top-arming was of scantling, or thin plank, in which
case it was called a pavesse. Pavesses were very beautifully painted
with armorial bearings, arranged in shields, a sort of reminiscence of
the old Norse custom of hanging the ship's sides with shields. Another
way was to mask the open space with a ranged hemp cable, which could be
cleared away after the fight.

[Footnote 20: See Sir W. Monson, "Naval Tracts," and Sir R. Hawkins,
"Observations," etc.]

The ships were rigged much as they were rigged two centuries later. The
chief differences were in the rigging of the bowsprit and of the two
after masts. Forward the ships had bowsprits, on which each set a
spritsail, from a spritsail yard. The foremast was stepped well forward,
almost over the spring of the cutwater. Generally, but not always, it
was made of a single tree (pine or fir). If it was what was known as "a
made mast," it was built up of two, or three, or four, different trees,
judiciously sawn, well seasoned, and then hooped together. Masts were
pole-masts until early in the reign of Elizabeth, when a fixed topmast
was added. By Drake's time they had learned that a movable topmast was
more useful, and less dangerous for ships sailing in these waters. The
caps and tops were made of elm wood. The sails on the foremast were
foresail and foretop-sail, the latter much the smaller and less
important of the two. They were set on wooden yards, the foreyard and
foretopsail-yard, both of which could be sent on deck in foul weather.
The main-mast was stepped a little abaft the beam, and carried three
sails, the main-sail, the main topsail, and a third, the main
topgallant-sail. This third sail did not set from a yard until many
years after its introduction. It began life like a modern "moon-raker,"
a triangular piece of canvas, setting from the truck, or summit of the
topmast, to the yardarm of the main topsail-yard. Up above it, on a
bending light pole, fluttered the great colours, a George's cross of
scarlet on a ground of white. Abaft the main-mast were the mizzen,
carrying one sail, on a lateen yard, one arm of which nearly touched the
deck; and the bonaventure mizzen (which we now call the jigger) rigged
in exactly the same way. Right aft, was a banner pole for the display of
colours. These masts were stepped, stayed, and supported almost exactly
as masts are rigged to-day, though where we use iron, and wire, they
used wood and hemp. The shrouds of the fore and main masts led outboard,
to "chains" or strong platforms projecting from the ship's sides. These
"chains" were clamped to the ship's sides with rigid links of iron. The
shrouds of the after masts were generally set up within the bulwarks. On
each mast, just above the lower yard, yet below the masthead, was a
fighting-top built of elm wood and gilded over. It was a little
platform, resting on battens, and in ancient times it was circular, with
a diameter of perhaps six or seven feet. It had a parapet round it,
inclining outboard, perhaps four feet in height. It was entered by a
lubber's hole in the flooring, through which the shrouds passed. In each
top was an arm chest containing Spanish darts, crossbows, longbows,
arrows, bolts, and perhaps granadoes. When the ship went into battle a
few picked marksmen were stationed in the tops with orders to search
the enemy's decks with their missiles, particularly the afterparts,
where the helmsman stood. In later days the tops were armed with light
guns, of the sorts known as slings and fowlers; but top-fighting with
firearms was dangerous, as the gunners carried lighted matches, and
there was always a risk of sparks, from the match, or from the wads,
setting fire to the sails. The running rigging was arranged much as
running rigging is arranged to-day, though its quality, in those times,
was probably worse than nowadays. The rope appears to have been very
fickle stuff which carried away under slight provocation. The blocks
were bad, for the sheaves were made of some comparatively soft wood,
which swelled, when wet, and jammed. Lignum vitæ was not used for
block-sheaves until after the Dutch War in Cromwell's time. Iron blocks
were in use in the time of Henry VIII. but only as fair-leads for chain
topsail sheets, and as snatches for the boarding of the "takkes." The
shrouds and stays, were of hawser stuff, extremely thick nine-stranded
hemp; and all those parts exposed to chafing (as from a sail, or a rope)
were either served, or neatly covered up with matting. The matting was
made by the sailors, of rope, or white line, plaited curiously. When in
its place it was neatly painted, or tarred, much as one may see it in
Norwegian ships at the present day. The yardarms, and possibly the
chains, were at one time fitted with heavy steel sickles, projecting
outboard, which were kept sharp, so that, when running alongside an
enemy, they might cut her rigging to pieces. These sickles were known as
sheer-hooks. They were probably of little use, for they became obsolete
before the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.


Most of the sails used in these old ships were woven in Portsmouth on
hand-looms. The canvas was probably of good quality, as good perhaps as
the modern stout No. 1, for hand-woven stuff is always tighter,
tougher, better put together, than that woven by the big steam-loom.
It was at one time the custom to decorate the sail, with a design of
coloured cloth, cut out, as one cuts out a paper pattern, and stitched
upon its face with sail twine. In the royal ships this design was of
lions rampant, cut out of scarlet say. The custom of carrying such
coloured canvas appears to have died out by the end of the sixteenth
century. Perhaps flag signalling had come into vogue making it necessary
to abandon anything that might tend to confuse the colours. About the
same time we abandoned the custom of making our ships gay with little
flags, of red and white linen, in guidons like those on a trooper's
lance. All through the Tudor reigns our ships carried them, but for some
reason the practice was allowed to die out. A last relic of it still
flutters on blue water in the little ribbons of the wind-vane, on the
weather side the poop, aboard sailing ships.

The great ship carried three boats, which were stowed on chocks in the
waist, just forward of the main-mast, one inside the other when not in
use. The boats were, the long boat, a large, roomy boat with a movable
mast; the cock, cog or cok boat, sometimes called the galley-watt; and
the whale, or jolly boat, a sort of small balenger, with an iron-plated
bow, which rowed fourteen oars. It was the custom to tow one or more of
these boats astern, when at sea, except in foul weather, much as one may
see a brig, or a topsail schooner, to-day, with a dinghy dragging
astern. The boat's coxswain stayed in her as she towed, making her
clean, fending her off, and looking out for any unfortunate who chanced
to fall overboard.

    _Authorities._--W. Charnock: "History of Marine Architecture."
    Julian Corbett: "Drake and the Tudor Navy." A. Jal: "Archeologie
    Navale"; "Glossaire Nautique." Sir W. Monson: "Naval Tracts." Sir H.
    Nicholas: "History of the Royal Navy." M. Oppenheim: "History of the
    Administration of the Royal Navy"; "Naval Inventories of the Reign
    of Henry VII."



    Breech-loaders--Cartridges--Powder--The gunner's art

Cannon were in use in Europe, it is thought, in the eleventh century;
for the art of making gunpowder came westward, from China, much earlier
than people have supposed. It is certain that gunpowder was used "in
missiles," before it was used to propel them. The earliest cannon were
generally of forged iron built in strips secured by iron rings. They
were loaded by movable chambers which fitted into the breech, and they
were known as "crakys of war." We find them on English ships at the end
of the fourteenth century, in two kinds, the one a cannon proper, the
other an early version of the harquebus-a-croc. The cannon was a mere
iron tube, of immense strength, bound with heavy iron rings. The rings
were shrunken on to the tube in the ordinary way. The tube, when ready,
was bolted down to a heavy squared beam of timber on the ship's deck. It
was loaded by the insertion of the "gonne-chambre," an iron pan,
containing the charge, which fitted into, and closed the breech. This
gonne-chambre was wedged in firmly by a chock of elm wood beaten in with
a mallet. Another block of wood, fixed in the deck behind it, kept it
from flying out with any violence when the shot was fired. Cannon of
this sort formed the main armament of ships until after the reign of
Henry the Eighth. They fired stone cannon-balls, "pellettes of lead, and
dyce of iron." Each gun had some half-dozen chambers, so that the
firing from them may have been rapid, perhaps three rounds a minute. The
powder was not kept loose in tubs, near the guns, but neatly folded in
conical cartridges, made of canvas or paper (or flannel) which practice
prevailed for many years. All ships of war carried "pycks for hewing
stone-shott," though after 1490, "the iron shott callyd bowletts," and
their leaden brothers, came into general use. The guns we have
described, were generally two or four pounders, using from half-a-pound,
to a pound and a quarter, of powder, at each discharge. The carriage, or
bed, on which they lay, was usually fitted with wheels at the rear end

The other early sea-cannon, which we have mentioned, were also
breech-loading. They were mounted on a sort of iron wheel, at the summit
of a stout wooden staff, fixed in the deck, or in the rails of the poop
and forecastle. They were of small size, and revolved in strong iron
pivot rings, so that the man firing them might turn them in any
direction he wished. They were of especial service in sweeping the
waist, the open spar-deck, between the breaks of poop and forecastle,
when boarders were on board. They threw "base and bar-shot to murder
near at hand"; but their usual ball was of stone, and for this reason
they were called petrieroes, and petrieroes-a-braga. The
harquebus-a-croc, a weapon almost exactly similar, threw small cross-bar
shot "to cut Sails and Rigging." In Elizabethan times it was carried in
the tops of fighting ships, and on the rails and gunwales of

In the reign of Henry VIII., a ship called the _Mary Rose_, of 500 tons,
took part in the battle with the French, in St Helens Roads, off
Brading. It was a sultry summer day, almost windless, when the action
began, and the _Mary Rose_ suffered much (being unable to stir) from the
gun-fire of the French galleys. At noon, when a breeze sprang up, and
the galleys drew off, the _Mary Rose_ sent her men to dinner. Her lower
ports, which were cut too low down, were open, and the wind heeled her
over, so that the sea rushed in to them. She sank in deep water, in a
few moments, carrying with her her captain, and all the gay company on
board. In 1836 some divers recovered a few of her cannon, of the kinds
we have described, some of brass, some of iron. The iron guns had been
painted red and black. Those of brass, in all probability, had been
burnished, like so much gold. These relics may be seen by the curious,
at Woolwich, in the Museum of Ordnance, to which they were presented by
their salver.

In the reign of Elizabeth, cannon were much less primitive, for a great
advance took place directly men learned the art of casting heavy guns.
Until 1543, they had forged them; a painful process, necessarily limited
to small pieces. After that year they cast them round a core, and by
1588 they had evolved certain general types of ordnance which remained
in use, in the British Navy, almost unchanged, until after the Crimean
War. The Elizabethan breech-loaders, and their methods, have now been
described, but a few words may be added with reference to the
muzzle-loaders. The charge for these was contained in cartridges,
covered with canvas, or "paper royall" (_i.e._ parchment), though the
parchment used to foul the gun at each discharge. Burning scraps of it
remained in the bore, so that, before reloading, the weapon had to be
"wormed," or scraped out, with an instrument like an edged corkscrew. A
tampion, or wad, of oakum or the like, was rammed down between the
cartridge and the ball, and a second wad kept the ball in place. When
the gun was loaded the gunner filled the touch-hole with his priming
powder, from a horn he carried in his belt, after thrusting a sharp
wire, called the priming-iron, down the touch-hole, through the
cartridge, so that the priming powder might have direct access to the
powder of the charge. He then sprinkled a little train of powder along
the gun, from the touch-hole to the base-ring, for if he applied the
match directly to the touch-hole the force of the explosion was liable
to blow his linstock from his hand. In any case the "huff" or "spit" of
fire, from the touch-hole, burned little holes, like pock-marks, in the
beams overhead. The match was applied smartly, with a sharp drawing back
of the hand, the gunner stepping quickly aside to avoid the recoil. He
stepped back, and stood, on the side of the gun opposite to that on
which the cartridges were stored, so that there might be no chance of a
spark from his match setting fire to the ammunition. Spare match, newly
soaked in saltpetre water, lay coiled in a little tub beside the gun.
The cartridges, contained in latten buckets, were placed in a barrel by
the gun and covered over with a skin of leather. The heavy shot were
arranged in shot racks, known as "gardens," and these were ready to the
gunner's hand, with "cheeses" of tampions or wads. The wads were made of
soft wood, oakum, hay, straw, or "other such like." The sponges and
rammers were hooked to the beams above the gun ready for use. The
rammers were of hard wood, shod with brass, "to save the Head from
cleaving." The sponges were of soft fast wood, "As Aspe, Birch, Willow,
or such like," and had heads covered with "rough Sheepes skinne wooll,"
nailed to the staff with "Copper nayles." "Ladels," or powder shovels,
for the loading of guns, were seldom used at sea.

The guns were elevated or depressed by means of handspikes and quoins.
Quoins were blocks of wood, square, and wedge-shaped, with ring-hooks
screwed in them for the greater ease of handling. Two of the gun's crew
raised the base of the cannon upon their handspikes, using the "steps"
of the gun carriage as their fulcra. A third slid a quoin along the
"bed" of the carriage, under the gun, to support it at the required
height. The recoil of the gun on firing, was often very violent, but it
was limited by the stout rope called the breeching, which ran round the
base of the gun, from each side of the port-hole, and kept it from
running back more than its own length. When it had recoiled it was in
the position for sponging and loading, being kept from running out
again, with the roll of the ship, by a train, or preventer tackle,
hooked to a ring-bolt in amidships. In action, particularly in violent
action, the guns became very hot, and "kicked" dangerously. Often they
recoiled with such force as to overturn, or to snap the breeching, or to
leap up to strike the upper beams. Brass guns were more skittish than
iron, but all guns needed a rest of two or three hours, if possible,
after continual firing for more than eight hours at a time. To cool a
gun in action, to keep it from bursting, or becoming red-hot, John
Roberts advises sponging "with spunges wet in ley and water, or water
and vinegar, or with the coolest fresh or salt water, bathing and
washing her both within and without." This process "if the Service is
hot, as it was with us at Bargen" should be repeated, "every eighth or
tenth shot." The powder in use for cannon was called Ordnance or
Corne-powder. It was made in the following proportion. To every five
pounds of refined saltpetre, one pound of good willow, or alder,
charcoal, and one pound of fine yellow sulphur. The ingredients were
braised together in a mortar, moistened with water distilled of orange
rinds, or aqua-vitæ, and finally dried and sifted. It was a bright,
"tawny blewish colour" when well made. Fine powder, for muskets or
priming seems to have had a greater proportion of saltpetre.

The Naval Tracts of Sir W. Monson, contain a list of the sorts of cannon
mounted in ships of the time of Queen Elizabeth. It is not exhaustive,
but as Robert Norton and Sir Jonas Moore give similar lists, the curious
may check the one with the other.

                          Weight  Weight Weight Point             Length
                    Bore    of      of     of   Blank  Random       in
                          Cannon   Shot  Powder Range              Feet

                    ins.    lb.     lb.   lb.   paces  paces
  Cannon Royal or
  Double Cannon      8½    8000     66     30     800   1930  M.L.    12
  Cannon or
  Whole Cannon       8     6000     60     27     770   2000   "      11
  Cannon Serpentine  7     5500     53½    25     200   2000   "      10
  Bastard Cannon     7     4500     41½    20     180   1800   "      10
  Demi-Cannon        6½-7  4000     33½    18     170   1700   "      10
  Cannon Petro or
  Cannon Perier      6     4000     24½    14     160   1600   "       4
  Culverin           5-5½  4500     17½    12     200   2500   "      13
  Basilisk           5     4000     15     10     230   3000   "       4
  Demi-Culverin      4     3400      9½     8     200   2500   "      11
  Bastard Culverin   4     3000      7      5¾    170   1700   "      11
  Saker              3½    1400      5½     5½    170   1700   " 9 or 10
  Minion             3½    1000      4      4     170   1700   "       8
  Falcon             2½     660      3      3     150   1500   "       7
  Falconet           2      500      1½     1¼    150   1500   "       6½
  Serpentine         1½     400       ¾      ¾    140   1400   "       4½
  Rabinet            1      300       ½      ½    120   1000   "       2½

To these may be added bases, port pieces, stock fowlers, slings, half
slings, and three-quarter slings, breech-loading guns ranging from five
and a half to one-inch bore.

Other firearms in use in our ships at sea were the matchlock musket,
firing a heavy double bullet, and the harquabuse[21] or arquebus, which
fired a single bullet. The musket was a heavy weapon, and needed a rest,
a forked staff, to support the barrel while the soldier aimed. This
staff the musketeer lashed to his wrist, with a cord, so that he might
drag it after him from place to place. The musket was fired with a
match, which the soldier lit from a cumbrous pocket fire-carrier. The
harquabuse was a lighter gun, which was fired without a rest, either by
a wheel-lock (in which a cog-wheel, running on pyrites, caused sparks to
ignite the powder), or by the match and touch-hole. Hand firearms were
then common enough, and came to us from Italy, shortly after 1540. They
were called Daggs. They were wheel-locks, wild in firing, short, heavy,
and beautifully wrought. Sometimes they carried more than one barrel,
and in some cases they were made revolving. They were most useful in a
hand-to-hand encounter, as with footpads, or boarders; but they were
useless at more than ten paces. A variation from them was the
hand-cannon or blunderbuss, with a bell-muzzle, which threw rough slugs
or nails. In Elizabethan ships the musketeers sometimes fired short,
heavy, long-headed, pointed iron arrows from their muskets, a missile
which flew very straight, and penetrated good steel armour. They had
also an infinity of subtle fireworks, granadoes and the like, with which
to set their opponents on fire. These they fired from the bombard
pieces, or threw from the tops, or cage-works. Crossbows and longbows
went to sea, with good store of Spanish bolts and arrows, until the end
of Elizabeth's reign, though they were, perhaps, little used after 1590.
The gunner had charge of them, and as, in a way, the gunner was a sort
of second captain, sometimes taking command of the ship, we cannot do
better than to quote from certain old books concerning his duties on
board. Mr W. Bourne, the son of an eminent mathematician, has left a
curious little book on "The Arte of Shooting in Great Ordnance," first
published in London, in 1587, the year before the Armada. Its author, W.
Bourne, was at one time a gunner of the bulwark at Gravesend. The art of
shooting in great guns did not improve very much during the century
following; nor did the guns change materially. The breech-loading,
quick-firing guns fell out of use as the musket became more handy; but
otherwise the province of the gunner changed hardly at all. It is not
too much to say that gunners of Nelson's time, might have studied some
of Bourne's book with profit.

[Footnote 21: or caliver.]

"As for gunners that do serve by the Sea, [they] must observe this order
following. First that they do foresee that all their great Ordnannce be
fast breeched, and foresee that all their geare be handsome and in a
readinesse. & Furthermore that they be very circumspect about their
Pouder in the time of service, and especially beware of their lint
stockes & candels for feare of their Pouder, & their fireworks, & their
Ducum [or priming powder], which is very daungerous, and much to be
feared. Then furthermore, that you do keep your peeces as neer as you
can, dry within, and also that you keep their tutch-holes cleane,
without any kind of drosse falling into them."

The gunners were also to know the "perfect dispart" of their pieces:
that is they were to make a calculation which would enable them in
sighting, to bring "the hollow of the peece," not the outer muzzle rim,
"right against the marke." In the case of a breech-loader this could not
be done by art, with any great exactness, "but any reasonable man (when
he doth see the peece and the Chamber) may easily know what he must doe,
as touching those matters." In fighting at sea, in anything like a
storm, with green seas running, so that "the Shippes do both heave and
set" the gunner was to choose a gun abaft the main-mast, on the lower
orlop, "if the shippe may keepe the porte open," as in that part of the
vessel the motion would be least apparent.

"Then if you doe make a shotte at another Shippe, you must be sure to
have a good helme-man, that can stirre [steer] steady, taking some marke
of a Cloude that is above by the Horizon, or by the shadowe of the
Sunne, or by your standing still, take some marke of the other shippe
through some hole, or any such other like. Then he that giveth levell
[takes aim] must observe this: first consider what disparte his piece
must have, then lay the peece directly with that parte of the Shippe
that he doth meane to shoote at: then if the Shippe bee under the lee
side of your Shippe, shoote your peece in the comming downe of the
Gayle, and the beginning of the other Ship to rise upon the Sea, as near
as you can, for this cause, for when the other shippe is aloft upon the
Sea, and shee under your Lee, the Gayle maketh her for to head, and then
it is likest to do much good."

The helmsman also was to have an eye to the enemy, to luff when she
luffed, and "putte roomer," or sail large, when he saw her helmsman put
the helm up. If the enemy made signs that she was about to lay the ship
aboard, either by loosing more sail, or altering her course, the gunner
had to remember certain things.

"If the one doe meane to lay the other aboorde, then they do call up
their company either for to enter or to defend: and first, if that they
doe meane for to enter ... then marke where that you doe see anye
Scottles for to come uppe at, as they will stande neere thereaboutes, to
the intente for to be readie, for to come uppe under the Scottles: there
give levell with your Fowlers, or Slinges, or Bases, for there you shall
be sure to do moste good, then further more, if you doe meane for to
enter him, then give level with your fowlers and Port peeces, where you
doe see his chiefest fight of his Shippe is, and especially be sure to
have them charged, and to shoote them off at the first boording of the
Shippes, for then you shall be sure to speede. And furthermore, mark
where his men have most recourse, then discharge your Fowlers and Bases.
And furthermore for the annoyance of your enemie, if that at the
boording that the Shippes lye therefore you may take away their
steeradge with one of your great peeces, that is to shoote at his
Rother, and furthermore at his mayne maste and so foorth."

The ordering of cannon on board a ship was a matter which demanded a
nice care. The gunner had to see that the carriages were so made as to
allow the guns to lie in the middle of the port. The carriage wheels, or
trocks, were not to be too high, for if they were too high they hindered
the mariners, when they ran the cannon out in action (_Norton_, _Moore_,
_Bourne_, _Monson_). Moreover, if the wheels were very large, and the
ship were heeled over, the wheel rims would grind the ship's side
continually, unless large skids were fitted to them. And if the wheels
were large they gave a greater fierceness to the impetus of the recoil,
when the piece was fired. The ports were to be rather "deepe uppe and
downe" than broad in the traverse, and it was very necessary that the
lower port-sill should not be too far from the deck, "for then the
carriage muste bee made verye hygh, and that is verye evill" (_Bourne_).
The short cannon were placed low down, at the ship's side, because short
cannon were more easily run in, and secured, when the ports were closed,
owing to the ship's heeling, or the rising of the sea. A short gun,
projecting its muzzle through the port, was also less likely to catch
the outboard tackling of the sails, such as "Sheetes and Tackes, or the
Bolynes." And for these reasons any very long guns were placed astern,
or far forward, as bow, or stern chasers. It was very necessary that the
guns placed at the stern should be long guns, for the tall poops of the
galleons overhung the sea considerably. If the gun, fired below the
overhang, did not project beyond the woodwork, it was liable to "blowe
up the Counter of the Shyppes Sterne," to the great detriment of gilt
and paint. Some ships cut their stern ports down to the deck, and
continued the deck outboard, by a projecting platform. The guns were run
out on to this platform, so that the muzzles cleared the overhang. These
platforms were the originals of the quarter-galleries, in which, some
centuries later, the gold-laced admirals took the air (_Bourne_).

Sir Jonas Moore, who published a translation of Moretti's book on
artillery, in 1683, added to his chapters some matter relating to
sea-gunners, from the French of Denis Furnier.

"The Gunner, whom they call in the _Straights Captain_,
_Master-Canoneer_, and in _Bretagne_ and _Spain_, and in other places
_Connestable_, is one of the principal Officers in the Ship; it is he
alone with the Captain who can command the Gunners. He ought to be a man
of courage, experience, and vigilant, who knows the goodness of a Peece
of Ordnance, the force of Powder, and who also knows how to mount a
Peece of Ordnance upon its carriage, and to furnish it with Bolts,
Plates, Hooks, Capsquares [to fit over the Trunnions on which the gun
rested] Axletrees and Trucks, and that may not reverse too much; to
order well its Cordage as Breeching [which stopped the recoil] and
Tackling [by which it was run out or in]; to plant the Cannon to purpose
in the middle of its Port; to know how to unclow[22] it [cast it loose
for action], make ready his Cartridges, and to have them ready to pass
from hand to hand through the Hatches, and to employ his most careful
men in that affair; that he have care of all, that, he be ready
everywhere to assist where necessity shall be; and take care that all be
made to purpose.

[Footnote 22: This word unclow may be a misprint for uncloy. To uncloy
was to get rid of the spike, or soft metal nail, thrust into a piece's
touch-hole by an enemy. It was done by oiling the spike all over, so as
to make it "glib," and then blowing it out, from within, by a train of

"He and his Companions [the gunner's mates] ought with their dark
Lanthornes continually to see if the Guns play, and if the Rings in
Ships do not shake." (That is, a strict watch was to be kept, at night,
when at sea in stormy weather, to see that the cannon did not work or
break loose, and that the ring-bolts remained firm in their places.)

"If there be necessity of more Cordage, and to see that the Beds and
Coins be firm and in good order; when the Ship comes to Anker, he
furnisheth Cordage, and takes care that all his Companions take their
turn [stand their watch] and quarters, that continually every evening
they renew their priming Powder [a horn of fine dry powder poured into
the touch-holes of loaded cannon, to communicate the fire to the
charge], and all are obliged to visit their Cannon Powder every eight
dayes, to see if it hath not receiv'd wet, although they be well stopped
a top with Cork and Tallow; to see that the Powder-Room be kept neat and
clean, and the Cartridges ranged in good order, each nature or Calibre
by itself, and marked above in great Letters the weight of the Powder
and nature of the Peece to which it belongs, and to put the same mark
over the Port-hole of the Peece; that the Linstocks [_or forked staves
of wood, about two and a half feet long, on which the match was
carried_] be ready, and furnished with Match [_or cotton thread, boiled
in ashes-lye and powder, and kept smouldering, with a red end, when in
use_], and to have alwaies one lighted, and where the Cannoneer makes
his Quarter to have two one above another below [_this last passage is a
little obscure, but we take it to mean that at night, when the gunner
slept in his cabin, a lighted match was to be beside him, but that in
the gun-decks below and above his cabin (which was in the half-deck) lit
matches were to be kept ready for immediate use, by those who kept
watch_], that his Granadoes [_black clay, or thick glass bottles,
filled with priming powder, and fired by a length of tow, well soaked in
saltpetre water_] and Firepots [_balls of hard tar, sulphur-meal and
rosin, kneaded together and fired by a priming of bruised powder_] be in
readiness, and 3 or 400 Cartridges ready fill'd, Extrees [?] and Trucks
[_wheels_] to turn often over the Powder Barrels that the Powder do not
spoil; to have a care of Rings [_ring-bolts_] and of the Ports [he here
means port-lids] that they have their Pins and small Rings."

Sir William Monson adds that the gunner was to acquaint himself with the
capacities of every known sort of firearm, likely to be used at sea. He
also gives some professional hints for the guidance of gunners. He tells
us (and Sir Richard Hawkins confirms him) that no sea-cannon ought to be
more than seven or eight feet long; that they ought not to be
taper-bored, nor honey-combed within the bore, and that English
ordnance, the best in Europe, was sold in his day for twelve pounds a

In Boteler's time the gunner commanded a gang, or crew, who ate and
slept in the gun-room, which seems in those days to have been the
magazine. He had to keep a careful account of the expenditure of his
munitions, and had orders "not to make any shot without the Knowledge
and order of the captain."

    _Authorities._--N. Boteler: "Six Dialogues." W. Bourne: "The Art of
    Shooting in Great Ordnance"; "Regiment for the Sea"; "Mariner's
    Guide." Sir W. Monson: "Naval Tracts." Sir Jonas Moore. R. Norton:
    "The Gunner." John Roberts: "Complete Cannoneer."



    Captain--Master--Lieutenant--Warrant officers--Duties and privileges

By comparing Sir Richard Hawkins' "Observations" and Sir W. Monson's
"Tracts" with Nicolas Boteler's "Dialogical Discourses," we find that
the duties of ship's officers changed hardly at all from the time of the
Armada to the death of James I. Indeed they changed hardly at all until
the coming of the steamship. In modern sailing ships the duties of some
of the supernumeraries are almost exactly as they were three centuries

The captain was the supreme head of the ship, empowered to displace any
inferior officer except the master (_Monson_). He was not always
competent to navigate (_ibid._), but as a rule he had sufficient science
to check the master's calculations. He was expected to choose his own
lieutenant (_ibid._), to keep a muster-book, and a careful account of
the petty officer's stores (_Monson_ and _Sir Richard Hawkins_), and to
punish any offences committed by his subordinates.

A lieutenant seems to have been unknown in ships of war until the early
seventeenth century. He ranked above the master, and acted as the
captain's proxy, or ambassador, "upon any occasion of Service"
(_Monson_). In battle he commanded on the forecastle, and in the forward
half of the ship. He was restrained from meddling with the master's
duties, lest "Mischiefs and factions" should ensue. Boteler adds that a
lieutenant ought not to be "too fierce in his Way at first ... but to
carry himself with Moderation and Respect to the Master Gunner,
Boatswain, and the other Officers."

The master was the ship's navigator, responsible for the performance of
"the ordinary Labours in the ship." He took the height of the sun or
stars "with his Astrolabe, Backstaff or Jacob's-staff" (_Boteler_). He
saw that the watches were kept at work, and had authority to punish
misdemeanants (_Monson_). Before he could hope for employment he had to
go before the authorities at Trinity House, to show his "sufficiency" in
the sea arts (_Monson_).

The pilot, or coaster, was junior to the master; but when he was
bringing the vessel into port, or over sands, or out of danger, the
master had no authority to interfere with him (_Monson_). He was
sometimes a permanent official, acting as junior navigator when the ship
was out of soundings (_Hawkins_), but more generally he was employed
temporarily, as at present, to bring a ship into or out of port
(_Monson_ and _Boteler_).

The ship's company was drilled by a sort of junior lieutenant
(_Boteler_), known as the corporal, who was something between a
master-at-arms and a captain of marines. He had charge of the small
arms, and had to see to it that the bandoliers for the musketmen were
always filled with dry cartridges, and that the muskets and "matches"
were kept neat and ready for use in the armoury (_Monson_). He drilled
the men in the use of their small arms, and also acted as muster master
at the setting and relieving of the watch.

The gunner, whose duties we have described at length, was privileged to
alter the ship's course in action, and may even have taken command
during a chase, or running fight. He was assisted by his mates, who
commanded the various batteries while in action, and aimed and fired
according to his directions.

The boatswain, the chief seaman of the crew, was generally an old sailor
who had been much at sea, and knew the whole art of seamanship. He had
charge of all the sea-stores, and "all the Ropes belonging to the
Rigging [more especially the fore-rigging], all her Cables, and Anchors;
all her Sayls, all her Flags, Colours, and Pendants;[23] and so to stand
answerable for them" (_Boteler_). He was captain of the long boat, which
was stowed on the booms or spare spars between the fore and main masts.
He had to keep her guns clean, her oars, mast, sails, stores, and water
ready for use, and was at all times to command and steer her when she
left the ship (_Hawkins_). He carried a silver whistle, or call, about
his neck, which he piped in various measures before repeating the
master's orders (_Monson_). The whistle had a ball at one end, and was
made curved, like a letter S laid sideways. The boatswain, when he had
summoned all hands to their duty, was expected to see that they worked
well. He kept them quiet, and "at peace one with another," probably by
knocking together the heads of those disposed to quarrel. Lastly, he was
the ship's executioner, his mates acting as assistants, and at his
hands, under the supervision of the marshal, the crew received their
"red-checked shirts," and such bilboed solitude as the captain might

[Footnote 23: He had to hang out the ship's colours on going into action

The coxswain was the commander of the captain's row barge which he had
to keep clean, freshly painted and gilded, and fitted with the red and
white flag--"and when either the Captain or any Person of Fashion is to
use the Boat, or be carryed too and again from the Ship, he is to have
the Boat trimmed with her Cushions and Carpet and himself is to be ready
to steer her out of her Stern [in the narrow space behind the back board
of the stern-sheets] and with his Whistle to chear up and direct his
Gang of Rowers, and to keep them together when they are to wait: and
this is the lowest Officer in a Ship, that is allowed to carry a
Whistle" (_Boteler_). The coxswain had to stay in his barge when she
towed astern at sea, and his office, therefore, was often very wretched,
from the cold and wet. He had to see that his boat's crew were at all
times clean in their persons, and dressed alike, in as fine a livery as
could be managed (_Monson_). He was to choose them from the best men in
the ship, from the "able and handsome men" (_Monson_). He had to
instruct them to row together, and to accustom the port oarsmen to pull
starboard from time to time. He also kept his command well caulked, and
saw the chocks and skids secure when his boat was hoisted to the deck.

The quartermasters and their mates had charge of the hold (_Monson_),
and kept a sort of check upon the steward in his "delivery of the
Victuals to the Cook, and in his pumping and drawing of the Beer"
(_Boteler_). In far later times they seem to have been a rating of
elderly and sober seamen who took the helm, two and two together, in
addition to their other duties. In the Elizabethan ship they
superintended the stowage of the ballast, and were in charge below, over
the ballast shifters, when the ships were laid on their sides to be
scraped and tallowed. They also had to keep a variety of fish hooks
ready, in order to catch any fish, such as sharks or bonitos.

The purser was expected to be "an able Clerk" (_Monson_) for he had to
keep an account of all provisions received from the victualler. He kept
the ship's muster-book, with some account of every man borne upon it. He
made out passes, or pay-tickets for discharged men (_ibid._), and,
according to _Boteler_, he was able "to purse up roundly for himself" by
dishonest dealing. The purser (_Boteler_ says the cook) received 6d. a
month from every seaman, for "Wooden Dishes, Cans, Candles, Lanthorns,
and Candlesticks for the Hold" (_Monson_). It was also his office to
superintend the steward, in the serving out of the provisions and other
necessaries to the crew.

The steward was the purser's deputy (_Monson_). He had to receive "the
full Mass of Victual of all kinds," and see it well stowed in the hold,
the heavy things below, the light things up above (_Boteler_). He had
charge of all the candles, of which those old dark ships used a
prodigious number. He kept the ship's biscuits or bread, in the
bread-room, a sort of dark cabin below the gun-deck. He lived a life of
comparative retirement, for there was a "several part in the Hold, which
is called the Steward's room, where also he Sleeps and Eats"
(_Boteler_). He weighed out the provisions for the crew, "to the several
Messes in the Ship," and was cursed, no doubt, by every mariner, for a
cheating rogue in league with the purser. Though Hawkins tells us that
it was his duty "with discretion and good tearmes to give satisfaction
to all."

The cook did his office in a cook-room, or galley, placed in the
forecastle or "in the Hatchway upon the first Orlope" (_Boteler_). The
floor of the galley was not at that time paved with brick or stone, as
in later days, and now. It was therefore very liable to take fire,
especially in foul weather, when the red embers were shaken from the
ash-box of the range. It was the cook's duty to take the provisions from
the steward, both flesh and fish, and to cook them, by boiling, until
they were taken from him (_Monson_). It was the cook's duty to steep the
salt meat in water for some days before using, as the meat was thus
rendered tender and fit for human food (_Smith_). He had the rich
perquisite of the ship's fat, which went into his slush tubs, to bring
him money from the candlemakers. The firewood he used was generally
green, if not wet, so that when he lit his fire of a morning, he
fumigated the fo'c's'le with bitter smoke. It was his duty to pour water
on his fire as soon as the guns were cast loose for battle. Every day,
for the saving of firewood, and for safety, he had to extinguish his
fire directly the dinner had been cooked, nor was he allowed to relight
it, "but in case of necessity, as ... when the Cockswain's Gang came wet
aboard" (_Monson_). He would allow his cronies in the forenoons to dry
their wet gear at his fire, and perhaps allow them, in exchange for a
bite or sup, to cook any fish they caught, or heat a can of drink.

Another supernumerary was the joiner, a rating only carried in the
seventeenth century on great ships with much fancy work about the poop.
He it was who repaired the gilt carvings in the stern-works, and made
the bulkheads for the admiral's cabin. He was a decorator and
beautifier, not unlike the modern painter, but he was to be ready at all
times to knock up lockers for the crew, to make boxes and chests for the
gunner, and bulkheads, of thin wood, to replace those broken by the
seas. As a rule the work of the joiner was done by the carpenter, a much
more important person, who commanded some ten or twelve junior workmen.
The carpenter was trusted with the pumps, both hand and chain, and with
the repairing of the woodwork throughout the vessel. He had to be
super-excellent in his profession, for a wooden ship was certain to tax
his powers. She was always out of repair, always leaking, always
springing her spars. In the summer months, if she were not being
battered by the sea, she was getting her timber split by cannon-shot. In
the winter months, when laid up and dismantled in the dockyard, she was
certain to need new planks, beams, inner fittings and spars (_Hawkins_).
The carpenter had to do everything for her, often with grossly
insufficient means, and it was of paramount importance that his
work-room in the orlop should be fitted with an excellent tool chest. He
had to provide the "spare Pieces of Timber wherewith to make Fishes, for
to strengthen and succour the Masts." He had to superintend the purchase
of a number of spare yards, already tapered, and bound with iron, to
replace those that "should chance to be broken." He was to see these
lashed to the ship's sides, within board, or stopped in the rigging
(_Monson_ and _Boteler_). He had to have all manner of gudgeons for the
rudder, every sort of nuts or washers for the pumps, and an infinity of
oakum, sheet lead, soft wood, spare canvas, tallow, and the like, with
which to stop leaks, or to caulk the seams. In his stores he took large
quantities of lime, horse hair, alum, and thin felt with which to wash
and sheathe the ship's bottom planking (_Monson_). The alum was often
dissolved in water, and splashed over spars and sails, before a battle,
as it was supposed to render them non-inflammable. It was his duty,
moreover, to locate leaks, either by observing the indraught (which was
a tedious way), or by placing his ear to a little earthen pot inverted
against one of the planks in the hold. This little pot caused him to
hear the water as it gurgled in, and by moving it to and fro he could
locate the hole with considerable certainty (_Boteler_). He had to rig
the pumps for the sailors, and to report to the captain the depth of
water the ship made daily. The pumps were of two kinds, one exactly like
that in use on shore, the other, of the same principle, though more
powerful. The second kind was called the chain-pump, because "these
Pumps have a Chain of Burs going in a Wheel." They were worked with long
handles, called brakes (because they broke sailor's hearts), and some
ten men might pump at one spell. The water was discharged on to the
deck, which was slightly rounded, so that it ran to the ship's side,
into a graved channel called the trough, or scuppers, from which it
fell overboard through the scupper-holes, bored through the ship's side.
These scupper-holes were bored by the carpenter. They slanted obliquely
downwards and were closed outside by a hinged flap of leather, which
opened to allow water to escape, and closed to prevent water from
entering (_Maynwaring_). Each deck had a number of scupper-holes, but
they were all of small size. There was nothing to take the place of the
big swinging-ports fitted to modern iron sailing ships, to allow the
green seas to run overboard.

The cooper was another important supernumerary. He had to oversee the
stowing of all the casks, and to make, or repair, or rehoop, such casks
as had to be made or repaired. He had to have a special eye to the great
water casks, that they did not leak; binding them securely with iron
hoops, and stowing them with dunnage, so that they might not shift. He
was put in charge of watering parties, to see the casks filled at the
springs, to fit them, when full, with their bungs, and to superintend
their embarkation and stowage (_Monson_ and _Boteler_).

The trumpeter was an attendant upon the captain, and had to sound his
silver trumpet when that great man entered or left the ship (_Monson_).
"Also when you hale a ship, when you charge, board, or enter her; and
the Poop is his place to stand or sit upon." If the ship carried a
"noise," that is a band, "they are to attend him, if there be not, every
one he doth teach to bear a part, the Captain is to encourage him, by
increasing his Shares, or pay, and give the Master Trumpeter a reward."
When a prince, or an admiral, came on board, the trumpeter put on a
tabard, of brilliant colours, and hung his silver instrument with a
heavy cloth of the same. He was to blow a blast from the time the
visitor was sighted until his barge came within 100 fathoms of the ship.
"At what time the Trumpets are to cease, and all such as carry Whistles
are to Whistle his Welcome three several times." As the gilt and
gorgeous row boat drew alongside, the trumpets sounded a point of
welcome, and had then to stand about the cabin door, playing their best,
while the great man ate his sweetmeats. As he rowed away again, the
trumpeter, standing on the poop, blew out "A loath to depart," a sort of
ancient "good-bye, fare you well," such as sailors sing nowadays as they
get their anchors for home. In battle the trumpeter stood upon the poop,
dressed in his glory, blowing brave blasts to hearten up the gunners. In
hailing a friendly ship, in any meeting on the seas, it was customary to
"salute with Whistles and Trumpets, and the Ship's Company give a
general shout on both sides." When the anchor was weighed, the trumpeter
sounded a merry music, to cheer the workers. At dinner each night he
played in the great cabin, while the captain drank his wine. At the
setting and discharging of the watch he had to sound a solemn point, for
which duty he received an extra can of beer (_Monson_ and _Boteler_).

The crew, or mariners, were divided into able seamen, ordinary seamen,
grummets, or cabin-boys, ship-boys and swabbers. Swabbers were the
weakest men of the crew; men, who were useless aloft, or at the guns,
and therefore set to menial and dirty duties. They were the ship's
scavengers, and had much uncleanly business to see to. Linschoten,
describing a Portuguese ship's company, dismisses them with three
contemptuous words, "the swabers pump"; but alas, that was but the first
duty of your true swabber. Boteler, writing in the reign of James I.,
gives him more than half-a-page, as follows:--

"The Office of the Swabber is to see the Ship Kept neat and clean, and
that as well in the great Cabbin as everywhere else betwixt the Decks;
to which end he is, at the least once or twice a week, if not every day,
to cause the Ship to be well washed within Board and without above
Water, and especially about the Gunwalls [Gunwales or gunnels, over
which the guns once pointed] and the Chains and for prevention of
Infection, to burn sometimes Pitch, or the like wholsom perfumes,
between the Decks: He is also to have a regard to every private Man's
Sleeping-place; (to clean the cabins of the petty officers in the nether
orlop), and to admonish them all in general [it being dangerous perhaps,
in a poor swabber, to admonish in particular] to be cleanly and handsom,
and to complain to the Captain, of all such as will be any way nastie
and offensive that way. Surely, if this Swabber doth thoroughly take
care to discharge this his charge I easily believe that he may have his
hands full, and especially if there chance to be any number of Landmen

Under the swabber there was a temporary rate known as the liar. He had
to keep the ship clean "without board," in the head, chains, and
elsewhere. He held his place but for a week. "He that is first taken
with a Lie upon a _Monday_ morning, is proclaimed at the Main-Mast with
a general Crie, _a Liar, a Liar, a Liar_, and for that week he is under
the Swabber" (_Monson_).

The able seamen, or oldest and most experienced hands, did duty about
the decks and guns, in the setting up and preservation of the rigging,
and in the trimming of the braces, sheets, and bowlines. The ordinary
seamen, younkers, grummets, and ship-boys, did the work aloft, furled
and loosed the sails, and did the ordinary, never-ceasing work of
sailors. They stood "watch and watch" unless the weather made it
necessary for all to be on deck, and frequently they passed four hours
of each day in pumping the leakage from the well. They wore no uniform,
but perhaps some captains gave a certain uniformity to the clothes of
their crews by taking slop chests to sea, and selling clothes of similar
patterns to the seamen. In the navy, where the crews were pressed, the
clothes worn must have been of every known cut and fashion, though no
doubt all the pressed men contrived to get tarred canvas coats before
they had been many days aboard.

The bodies and souls of the seamen were looked after; a chaplain being
carried for the one, and a chirurgeon, or doctor, for the other. The
chaplain had to read prayers twice or thrice daily, to the whole ship's
company, who stood or knelt reverently as he read. He had to lead in the
nightly psalms, to reprove all evil-doers, and to exhort the men to
their duty. Especially was he to repress all blasphemy and swearing. He
was to celebrate the Holy Communion whenever it was most convenient. He
was to preach on Sunday, to visit the sick; and, in battle, to console
the wounded. Admirals, and peers in command of ships, had the privilege
of bringing to sea their own private chaplains.

The chirurgeon had to bring on board his own instruments and medicines,
and to keep them ready to hand in his cabin beneath the gun-deck, out of
all possible reach of shot. He was expected to know his business, and to
know the remedies for those ailments peculiar to the lands for which the
ship intended. He had to produce a certificate from "able men of his
profession," to show that he was fit to be employed. An assistant, or
servant, was allowed him, and neither he, nor his servant did any duty
outside the chirurgeon's province (_Monson_).



    The petty tally--Food--Work--Punishments

As soon as an ancient ship of war was fitted for the sea, with her guns
on board, and mounted, her sails bent, her stores and powder in the
hold, her water filled, her ballast trimmed, and the hands aboard, some
"steep-tubs" were placed in the chains for the steeping of the salt
provisions, "till the salt be out though not the saltness." The anchor
was then weighed to a note of music. The "weeping Rachells and
mournefull Niobes" were set packing ashore. The colours were run up and
a gun fired. The foresail was loosed. The cable rubbed down as it came
aboard (so that it might not be faked into the tiers wet or dirty). The
boat was hoisted inboard. The master "took his departure," by observing
the bearing of some particular point of land, as the Mew Stone, the
Start, the Lizard, etc. Every man was bidden to "say his private prayer
for a bonne voyage." The anchor was catted and fished. Sails were set
and trimmed. Ropes were coiled down clear for running, and the course
laid by the master.

    CIRCA 1630]

The captain or master then ordered the boatswain "to call up the
company," just as all hands are mustered on modern sailing ships at the
beginning of a voyage. The master "being Chief of the Starboard Watch"
would then look over the mariners for a likely man. Having made his
choice he bade the man selected go over to the starboard side, while the
commander of the port-watch made his choice. When all the men had
been chosen, and the crew "divided into two parts," then each man was
bidden to choose "his Mate, Consort or Comrade." The bedding
arrangements of these old ships were very primitive. The officers had
their bunks or hammocks in their cabins, but the men seem to have slept
wherever and however they could. Some, no doubt had hammocks, but the
greater number lay in their cloaks between the guns, on mattresses if
they had them. A man shared his bed and bedding (if he had any) with his
"Mate, Consort, or Comrade," so that the one bed and bedding served for
the pair. One of the two friends was always on deck while the other
slept. In some ships at the present time the forecastles are fitted with
bunks for only half the number of seamen carried, so that the practice
is not yet dead. The boatswain, with all "the Younkers or Common
Sailors" then went forward of the main-mast to take up their quarters
between decks. The captain, master's mates, gunners, carpenters,
quartermasters, etc., lodged abaft the main-mast "in their severall
Cabbins." The next thing to be done was the arrangement of the ship's
company into messes, "four to a mess," after which the custom was to
"give every messe a quarter Can of beere and a bisket of bread to stay
their stomacks till the kettle be boiled." In the first dog-watch, from
4 to 6 P.M., all hands went to prayers about the main-mast, and from
their devotions to supper. At 6 P.M. the company met again to sing a
psalm, and say their prayers, before the setting of the night watch;
this psalm singing being the prototype of the modern sea-concert, or
singsong. At 8 P.M. the first night watch began, lasting until midnight,
during which four hours half the ship's company were free to sleep. At
midnight the sleepers were called on deck, to relieve the watch. The
watches were changed as soon as the muster had been called and a psalm
sung, and a prayer offered. They alternated thus throughout the
twenty-four hours, each watch having four hours below, after four hours
on deck, unless "some flaw of winde come, some storm or gust, or some
accident that requires the help of all hands." In these cases the whole
ship's company remained on deck until the work was done, or until the
master discharged the watch below.[24] The decks were washed down by the
swabbers every morning, before the company went to breakfast. After
breakfast the men went about their ordinary duties, cleaning the ship,
mending rigging, or working at the thousand odd jobs the sailing of a
ship entails. The tops were always manned by lookouts, who received some
small reward if they spied a prize. The guns were sometimes exercised,
and all hands trained to general quarters.

[Footnote 24: See "The Sea-man's Grammar," by Captain John Smith.]

A few captains made an effort to provide for the comfort of their men by
laying in a supply of "bedding, linnen, arms[25] and apparel." In some
cases they also provided what was called the petty tally, or store of
medical comforts. "The Sea-man's Grammar" of Captain John Smith, from
which we have been quoting, tells us that the petty tally contained:

[Footnote 25: The men were expected to bring their own swords and

"Fine wheat flower close and well-packed, Rice, Currants, Sugar, Prunes,
Cynamon, Ginger, Pepper, Cloves, Green Ginger, Oil, Butter, Holland
cheese or old Cheese, Wine-Vinegar, Canarie-Sack, Aqua-vitæ, the best
Wines, the best Waters, the juyce of Limons for the scurvy, white
Bisket, Oatmeal, Gammons of Bacons, dried Neats tongues, Beef packed up
in Vineger, Legs of Mutton minced and stewed, and close packed up, with
tried Sewet or Butter in earthen Pots. To entertain Strangers Marmalade,
Suckets, Almonds, Comfits and such like."

"Some," says the author of this savoury list, "will say I would have
men rather to feast than to fight. But I say the want of those
necessaries occasions the loss of more men than in any English Fleet
hath been slain since 88. For when a man is ill, or at the point of
death, I would know whether a dish of buttered Rice with a little
Cynamon, Ginger and Sugar, a little minced meat, or rost Beef, a few
stew'd Prunes, a race of green Ginger, a Flap-jack, a Kan of fresh water
brewed with a little Cynamon and Sugar be not better than a little poor
John, or salt fish, with Oil and Mustard, or Bisket, Butter, Cheese, or
Oatmeal-pottage on Fish-dayes, or on Flesh-dayes, Salt, Beef, Pork and
Pease, with six shillings beer, this is your ordinary ship's allowance,
and good for them are well if well conditioned [not such bad diet for a
healthy man if of good quality] which is not alwayes as Sea-men can [too
well] witnesse. And after a storme, when poor men are all wet, and some
have not so much as a cloth to shift them, shaking with cold, few of
those but will tell you a little Sack or Aqua-vitæ is much better to
keep them in health, than a little small Beer, or cold water although it
be sweet. Now that every one should provide for himself, few of them
have either that providence or means, and there is neither Ale-house,
Tavern, nor Inne to burn a faggot in, neither Grocer, Poulterer,
Apothecary nor Butcher's Shop, and therefore the use of this petty Tally
is necessary, and thus to be employed as there is occasion."

The entertainment of strangers, with "Almonds, Comfits and such like,"
was the duty of a sea-captain, for "every Commander should shew himself
as like himself as he can," and, "therefore I leave it to their own
Discretion," to supply suckets for the casual guest. In those days, when
sugar was a costly commodity, a sucket was more esteemed than now. At
sea, when the food was mostly salt, it must certainly have been a great

The "allowance" or ration to the men was as follows[26]:--

[Footnote 26: See Sir W. Monson's "Naval Tracts."]

Each man and boy received one pound of bread or biscuit daily, with a
gallon of beer. The beer was served out four times daily, a quart at a
time, in the morning, at dinner, in the afternoon, and at supper. On
Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which were flesh days, the
allowance of meat was either one pound of salt beef, or one pound of
salt pork with pease. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a side of salt-fish,
ling, haberdine, or cod, was divided between the members of each mess,
while a seven-ounce ration of butter (or olive oil) and a fourteen-ounce
ration of cheese, was served to each man. On Fridays, or fast days, this
allowance was halved. At one time the sailors were fond of selling or
playing away their rations, but this practice was stopped in the reign
of Elizabeth, and the men forced to take their food "orderly and in due
season" under penalties. Prisoners taken during the cruise were allowed
two-thirds of the above allowance.

The allowance quoted above appears liberal, but it must be remembered
that the sailors were messed "six upon four," and received only
two-thirds of the full ration. The quality of the food was very bad. The
beer was the very cheapest of small beer, and never kept good at sea,
owing to the continual motion of the ship. It became acid, and induced
dysentery in those who drank it, though it was sometimes possible to
rebrew it after it had once gone sour. The water, which was carried in
casks, was also far from wholesome. After storing, for a day or two, it
generally became offensive, so that none could drink it. In a little
while this offensiveness passed off, and it might then be used, though
the casks bred growths of an unpleasant sliminess, if the water remained
in them for more than a month. However water was not regarded as a
drink for human beings until the beer was spent. The salt meat was as
bad as the beer, or worse. Often enough the casks were filled with lumps
of bone and fat which were quite uneatable, and often the meat was so
lean, old, dry and shrivelled that it was valueless as food. The
victuallers often killed their animals in the heat of the summer, when
the meat would not take salt, so that many casks must have been unfit
for food after lying for a week in store. Anti-scorbutics were supplied,
or not supplied, at the discretion of the captains. It appears that the
sailors disliked innovations in their food, and rejected the
substitution of beans, flour "and those white Meats as they are called"
for the heavy, and innutritious pork and beef. Sailors were always great
sticklers for their "Pound and Pint," and Boteler tells us that in the
early seventeenth century "the common Sea-men with us, are so besotted
on their Beef and Pork, as they had rather adventure on all the
Calentures, and Scarbots [scurvy] in the World, than to be weaned from
their Customary Diet, or so much as to lose the least Bit of it."

The salt-fish ration was probably rather better than the meat, but the
cheese was nearly always very bad, and of an abominable odour. The
butter was no better than the cheese. It was probably like so much
train-oil. The bread or biscuit which was stowed in bags in the
bread-room in the hold, soon lost its hardness at sea, becoming soft and
wormy, so that the sailors had to eat it in the dark. The biscuits, or
cakes of bread, seem to have been current coin with many of the West
Indian natives. In those ships where flour was carried, in lieu of
biscuit, as sometimes happened in cases of emergency, the men received a
ration of doughboy, a sort of dumpling of wetted flour boiled with pork
fat. This was esteemed a rare delicacy either eaten plain or with

This diet was too lacking in variety, and too destitute of
anti-scorbutics to support the mariners in health. The ships in
themselves were insanitary, and the crews suffered very much from what
they called calentures, (or fevers such as typhus and typhoid), and the
scurvy. The scurvy was perhaps the more common ailment, as indeed it is
to-day. It is now little dreaded, for its nature is understood, and
guarded against. In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth
centuries, it killed its thousands, owing to the ignorance and
indifference of responsible parties, and to other causes such as the
construction of the ships and the length of the voyages. A salt diet,
without fresh vegetables, and without variety, is a predisposing cause
of scurvy. Exposure to cold and wet, and living in dirty surroundings
are also predisposing causes. The old wooden ships were seldom very
clean, and never dry, and when once the scurvy took hold it generally
raged until the ship reached port, where fresh provisions could be
purchased. A wooden ship was never quite dry, in any weather, for the
upper-deck planks, and the timbers of her topsides, could never be so
strictly caulked that no water could leak in. The sea-water splashed in
through the scuppers and through the ports, or leaked in, a little at a
time, through the seams. In bad weather the lower gun-decks (or all
decks below the spar-deck) were more or less awash, from seas that had
washed down the hatchways. The upper-deck seams let in the rain, and
when once the lower-decks were wet it was very difficult to dry them. It
was impossible to close the gun-deck ports so as to make them
watertight, for the water would find cracks to come in at, even though
the edges of the lids were caulked with oakum, and the orifices further
barred by deadlights or wooden shutters. Many of the sailors, as we have
seen, were without a change of clothes, and with no proper
sleeping-place, save the wet deck and the wet jackets that they worked
in. It often happened that the gun-ports would be closed for several
weeks together, during which time the gun-decks became filthy and musty,
while the sailors contracted all manner of cramps and catarrhs. In
addition to the wet, and the discomfort of such a life, there was also
the work, often extremely laborious, incidental to heavy weather at sea.
What with the ceaseless handling of sails and ropes, in frost and snow
and soaking sea-water; and the continual pumping out of the leaks the
rotten seams admitted, the sailor had little leisure in which to sleep,
or to dry himself. When he left the deck he had only the dark, wet
berth-deck to retire to, a place of bleakness and misery, where he might
share a sopping blanket, if he had one, with the corpse of a drowned rat
and the flotsam from the different messes. There was no getting dry nor
warm, though the berth-deck might be extremely close and stuffy from
lack of ventilation. The cook-room, or galley fire would not be lighted,
and there would be no comforting food or drink, nothing but raw meat and
biscuit, and a sup of sour beer. It was not more unpleasant perhaps than
life at sea is to-day, but it was certainly more dangerous.[27] When at
last the storm abated and the sea went down, the ports were opened and
the decks cleaned. The sailors held a general washing-day, scrubbing the
mouldy clothes that had been soaked so long, and hanging them to dry
about the rigging. Wind-sails or canvas ventilators were rigged, to
admit air to the lowest recesses of the hold. The decks were scrubbed
down with a mixture of vinegar and sand, and then sluiced with salt
water, scraped with metal scrapers, and dried with swabs and small
portable firepots. Vinegar was carried about the decks in large iron
pots, and converted into vapour by the insertion of red-hot metal bars.
The swabbers brought pans of burning pitch or brimstone into every
corner, so that the smoke might penetrate everywhere. But even then the
decks were not wholesome. There were spaces under the guns which no art
could dry, and subtle leaks in the topsides that none could stop. The
hold accumulated filth, for in many ships the ship's refuse was swept on
to the ballast, where it bred pestilence, typhus fever and the like. The
bilge-water reeked and rotted in the bilges, filling the whole ship with
its indescribable stench. Beetles, rats and cockroaches bred and
multiplied in the crannies, until (as in Captain Cook's case two
centuries later), they made life miserable for all on board. These
wooden ships were very gloomy abodes, and would have been so no doubt
even had they been dry and warm. They were dark, and the lower-deck,
where most of the men messed, was worse lit than the decks above it, for
being near to the water-line the ports could seldom be opened. Only in
very fair weather could the sailors have light and sun below decks. As a
rule they ate and slept in a murky, stuffy atmosphere, badly lighted by
candles in heavy horn lanthorns. The gloom of the ships must have
weighed heavily upon many of the men, and the depression no doubt
predisposed them to scurvy, making them less attentive to bodily
cleanliness, and less ready to combat the disease when it attacked them.
Perhaps some early sea-captains tried to make the between decks less
gloomy by whitewashing the beams, bulkheads and ship's sides. In the
eighteenth century this seems to have been practised with success,
though perhaps the captains who tried it were more careful of their
hands in other ways, and the benefit may have been derived from other

[Footnote 27: The mortality among the sailors was very great.]

Discipline was maintained by some harsh punishments, designed to "tame
the most rude and savage people in the world." Punishment was inflicted
at the discretion of the captain, directly after the hearing of the
case, but the case was generally tried the day after the commission of
the offence, so that no man should be condemned in hot blood. The most
common punishment was that of flogging, the men being stripped to the
waist, tied to the main-mast or to a capstan bar, and flogged upon the
bare back with a whip or a "cherriliccum." The boatswain had power to
beat the laggards and the ship's boys with a cane, or with a piece of
knotted rope. A common punishment was to put the offender on half his
allowance, or to stop his meat, or his allowance of wine or spirits. For
more heinous offences there was the very barbarous punishment of
keel-hauling, by which the victim was dragged from the main yardarm
right under the keel of the ship, across the barnacles, to the yardarm
on the farther side. Those who suffered this punishment were liable to
be cut very shrewdly by the points of the encrusted shells. Ducking from
the main yardarm was inflicted for stubbornness, laziness, going on
shore without leave, or sleeping while on watch. The malefactor was
brought to the gangway, and a rope fastened under his arms and about his
middle. He was then hoisted rapidly up to the main yardarm, "from whence
he is violently let fall into the Sea, some times twice, some times
three severall times, one after another" (_Boteler_). This punishment,
and keel-hauling, were made more terrible by the discharge of a great
gun over the malefactor's head as he struck the water, "which proveth
much offensive to him" (_ibid._). If a man killed another he was
fastened to the corpse and flung overboard (_Laws of Oleron_). For
drawing a weapon in a quarrel, or in mutiny, the offender lost his right
hand (_ibid._). Theft was generally punished with flogging, but in
serious cases the thief was forced to run the gauntlet, between two rows
of sailors all armed with thin knotted cords. Ducking from the bowsprit
end, towing in a rope astern, and marooning, were also practised as
punishments for the pilferer. For sleeping on watch there was a
graduated scale. First offenders were soused with a bucket of water. For
the second offence they were tied up by the wrists, and water was poured
down their sleeves. For the third offence they were tied to the mast,
with bags of bullets, or gun-chambers tied about their arms and necks,
until they were exhausted, or "till their back be ready to break"
(_Monson_). If they still offended in this kind they were taken and tied
to the bowsprit end, with rations of beer and bread, and left there with
leave to starve or fall into the sea. Destruction or theft of ships'
property was punished by death. Petty insurrections, such as complaints
of the quality or quantity of the food, etc., were punished by the
bilboes. The bilboes were iron bars fixed to the deck a little abaft the
main-mast. The prisoner sat upon the deck under a sentry, and his legs
and hands were shackled to the bars with irons of a weight proportioned
to the crime. It was a rule that none should speak to a man in the
bilboes. For blasphemy and swearing there was "an excellent good
way"[28] of forcing the sinner to hold a marline-spike in his mouth,
until his tongue was bloody (_Teonge_). Dirty speech was punished in a
similar way, and sometimes the offending tongue was scrubbed with sand
and canvas. We read of two sailors who stole a piece of beef aboard
H.M.S. _Assistance_ in the year 1676.[29] Their hands were tied behind
them, and the beef was hung about their necks, "and the rest of the
seamen cam one by one, and rubd them over the mouth with the raw beife;
and in this posture they stood two howers." Other punishments were
"shooting to death," and hanging at the yardarm. "And the Knaveries of
the Ship-boys are payd by the Boat-Swain with the Rod; and commonly this
execution is done upon the Munday Mornings; and is so frequently in use,
that some meer Seamen believe in earnest, that they shall not have a
fair Wind, unless the poor Boys be duely brought to the Chest, that is,
whipped, every Munday Morning" (_Boteler_).

[Footnote 28: _Circa_ 1670.]

[Footnote 29: The punishment would have been no less severe a century

Some of these punishments may appear unduly harsh; but on the whole they
were no more cruel than the punishments usually inflicted ashore.
Indeed, if anything they were rather more merciful.



In engaging an enemy's ship at sea the custom was to display the colours
from the poop, and to hang streamers or pennons from the yardarms.[30]
The spritsail would then be furled, and the spritsail-yard brought
alongship. The lower yards were slung with chain, and the important
ropes, sheets and braces,[31] etc., were doubled. The bulkheads and
wooden cabin walls were knocked away, or fortified with hammocks or
bedding, to minimise the risk of splinters. The guns were cast loose and
loaded. The powder or cartridge was brought up in "budge barrels,"
covered with leather, from the magazine, and stowed well away from the
guns, either in amidships, or on that side of the ship not directly
engaged. Tubs of water were placed between the guns with blankets
soaking in them for the smothering of any fire that might be caused.
Other tubs were filled with "vinegar water or what we have" for the
sponging of the guns. The hatches leading to the hold were taken up, so
that no man should desert his post during the engagement. The light
sails were furled, and in some cases sent down on deck. The magazines
were opened, and hung about with wet blankets to prevent sparks from
entering. Shot was sent to the shot-lockers on deck. Sand was sprinkled
on the planking to give a greater firmness to the foothold of the men at
the guns. The gunner and his mates went round the batteries to make sure
that all was ready. The caps, or leaden plates, were taken from the
touch-holes, and the priming powder was poured down upon the cartridge
within the gun. The carpenter made ready sheets of lead, and plugs of
oakum, for the stopping of shot-holes.[32] The cook-room fire was
extinguished. The sails were splashed with a solution of alum. The
people went to eat and drink at their quarters. Extra tiller ropes, of
raw hide, were rove abaft. The trumpeters put on their[33] tabards, "of
the Admiral's colours," and blew points of war as they sailed into
action. A writer of the early seventeenth century[34] has left the
following spirited account of a sea-fight:--

[Footnote 30: Monson.]

[Footnote 31: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 32: Monson.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 34: Captain John Smith.]

"A sail, how bears she or stands shee, to winde-ward or lee-ward? set
him by the Compasse; he stands right ahead, or on the weather-Bowe, or
lee-Bowe, let fly your colours if you have a consort, else not. Out with
all your sails, a steady man to the helme, sit close to keep her steady,
give him chase or fetch him up; he holds his own, no, we gather on him.
Captain, out goes his flag and pendants, also his waste-clothes and
top-armings, which is a long red cloth about three quarters of a yard
broad, edged on each side with Calico, or white linnen cloth, that goeth
round about the ship on the outsides of all her upper works fore and
aft, and before the cubbridge-heads, also about the fore and maine tops,
as well for the countenance and grace of the ship, as to cover the men
for being seen, he furies and slinges his maine yarde, in goes his
spret-saile. Thus they use to strip themselves into their short sailes,
or fighting sailes, which is only the fore sail, the main and fore
topsails, because the rest should not be fired nor spoiled; besides they
would be troublesome to handle, hinder our fights and the using our
armes; he makes ready his close fights fore and aft.

"Master, how stands the chase? Right on head I say; Well we shall
reatch him by and by; what's all ready? Yea, yea, every man to his
charge, dowse your topsaile to salute him for the Sea, hale him with a
noise of trumpets; Whence is your ship? Of Spaine; Whence is yours? Of
England. Are you a Merchant, or a Man of War? We are of the Sea. He
waves us to Lee-ward with his drawne Sword, cals amaine for the King of
Spaine and springs his loufe. Give him a chase piece with your
broadside, and run a good berth ahead of him; Done, done. We have the
winde of him, and he tackes about, tacke you aboute also and keep your
loufe [keep close to the wind] be yare at the helme, edge in with him,
give him a volley of small shot, also your prow and broadside as before,
and keep your loufe; He payes us shot for shot; Well, we shall requite
him; What, are you ready again? Yea, yea. Try him once more, as before;
Done, Done; Keep your loufe and charge your ordnance again; Is all
ready? Yea, yea, edge in with him again, begin with your bowe pieces,
proceed with your broadside, and let her fall off with the winde, to
give her also your full chase, your weather broadside, and bring her
round that the stern may also discharge, and your tackes close aboord
again; Done, done, the wind veeres, the Sea goes too high to boord her,
and we are shot thorow and thorow, and betwene winde and water. Try the
pump, bear up the helme; Master let us breathe and refresh a little, and
sling a man overboard [_i.e._ lower a man over the side] to stop the
leakes; that is, to trusse him up aboute the middle in a piece of
canvas, and a rope to keep him from sinking, and his armes at liberty,
with a malet in the one hand, and a plug lapped in Okum, and well tarred
in a tarpawling clowt in the other, which he will quickly beat into the
hole or holes the bullets made; What cheere mates? is all well? All
well, all well, all well. Then make ready to bear up with him again, and
with all your great and small shot charge him, and in the smoke boord
him thwart the hawse, on the bowe, midships, or rather than faile, on
the quarter [where the high poop made it difficult to climb on board] or
make fast your graplings [iron hooks] if you can to his close fights and
shear off [so as to tear them to pieces]. Captain, we are fowl on each
other, and the Ship is on fire, cut anything to get clear and smother
the fire with wet clothes. In such a case they will presently be such
friends, as to helpe one the other all they can to get clear, lest they
should both burn together and sink; and if they be generous, the fire
quenched, drink kindely one to another; heave their cans overboord, and
then begin again as before.

"Well, Master, the day is spent, the night drawes on, let us consult.
Chirurgion, look to the wounded, and winde up the slain, with each a
weight or bullet at their heades and feet to make them sinke, and give
them three Gunnes for their funerals. Swabber, make clean the ship
[sprinkle it with hot vinegar to avoid the smell of blood]; Purser,
record their Names; Watch, be vigilant to keep your berth to windeward
that we lose him not in the night; Gunners, spunge your Ordnance;
Sowldiers, scowre your pieces; Carpenters about your leakes; Boatswaine
and the rest repair your sails and shrouds; and Cooke, you observe your
directions against the morning watch; Boy, Holla, Master, Holla, is the
Kettle boiled? Yea, yea; Boatswaine, call up the men to prayer and
breakfast [We may suppose the dawn has broken].

"Boy, fetch my cellar of bottels [case of spirits], a health to you all
fore and aft, courage my hearts for a fresh charge; Gunners beat open
the ports, and out with your lower tire [lower tier of guns] and bring
me from the weather side to the lee, so many pieces as we have ports to
bear upon him. Master lay him aboord loufe for loufe; mid Ships men, see
the tops and yards well manned, with stones, fire pots and brass
bailes, to throw amongst them before we enter, or if we be put off,
charge them with all your great and small shot, in the smoke let us
enter them in the shrouds, and every squadron at his best advantage; so
sound Drums and Trumpets, and Saint George for England.

"They hang out a flag of truce, hale him a main, abase, or take in his
flag [to hale one to amaine, a main or a-mayn, was to bid him surrender;
to abase was to lower the colours or the topsails], strike their sails,
and come aboord with their Captaine, Purser, and Gunner, with their
commission, cocket, or bills of loading. Out goes the boat, they are
launched from the ship's side, entertaine them with a generall cry God
save the Captain and all the company with the Trumpets sounding, examine
them in particular, and then conclude your conditions, with feasting,
freedom or punishment as you find occasion; but alwayes have as much
care to their wounded as your own, and if there be either young women or
aged men, use them nobly, which is ever the nature of a generous
disposition. To conclude, if you surprise him, or enter perforce, you
may stow the men, rifle, pillage, or sack, and cry a prise."

Down below in the gun-decks during an action, the batteries became so
full of the smoke of black powder that the men could hardly see what
they were doing. The darkness prevented them from seeing the very
dangerous recoiling of the guns, and many were killed by them. It was
impossible to judge how a gun carriage would recoil, for it never
recoiled twice in the same manner, and though the men at the side
tackles did their best to reduce the shock they could not prevent it
altogether. It was the custom to close the gun-ports after each
discharge, as the musketeers aboard the enemy could otherwise fire
through them as the men reloaded. The guns were not fired in a volley,
as no ship could have stood the tremendous shock occasioned by the
simultaneous discharge of all her guns. They were fired in succession,
beginning from the bows. In heavy weather the lower tiers of guns were
not cast loose, for the rolling made them difficult to control, and the
sea came washing through the ports and into the muzzles of the guns,
knocking down the men and drenching the powder. It sometimes happened
that the shot, and cartridge, were rolled clean out of the guns. In
sponging and ramming the men were bidden to keep the sponge or rammer on
that side of them opposite to the side exposed to the enemy so that if a
shot should strike it, it would not force it into the body of the
holder. A man was told off to bring cartridges and shot to each gun or
division of guns and he was strictly forbidden to supply any other gun
or guns during the action. The wounded were to be helped below by men
told off especially for the purpose. Once below, in the cockpit, they
were laid on a sail, and the doctor or his mates attended to them in
turn. In no case was a man attended out of his turn. This system seems
equitable, and the sailors were insistent that it should be observed;
but many poor fellows bled to death, from shattered arteries, etc.,
while waiting till the doctor should be ready. The chaplain attended in
the cockpit to comfort the dying, and administer the rites of the
Church. When a vessel was taken, her crew were stripped by those in want
of clothes. The prisoners were handcuffed, or chained together, and
placed in the hold, on the ballast. The ship's company then set to work
to repair damages, clean and secure the guns, return powder, etc., to
the armoury, and magazines, and to give thanks for their preservation
round the main-mast.

[Illustration: Map Shewing the EARLY BUCCANEER CRUISING GROUND]


Action, description of ship in, 334

Allowance of food and drink, 326, 327

Alvarado, 226, etc.

---- battle of, 227 _et seq._

Anastasius (church), 252

Andreas, Captain, 232, 234, 238

Antonio, Captain, 235

Arica, 259, 265, 266, 267

---- battle of, 267 _et seq._, 273, 274

Arquebus, 303

Barbecue, 112

Barker, Andrew, 105

Baronha, Admiral, 245

Bastimentos, 22

_Bear_, pinnace, 79, 82, 84

Bishop (of Panama), 255, 256, 281

Blewfields, 134

Boats (ships'), 297

Boatswains, 313

Boco del Toro, 230, 231

Boucan, 112

Bracos, De los, 180

Bradley, John, 173 _et seq._

Buccaneers, rise of, 112 _et seq._;
  customs, etc., 113;
  dress, 114;
  drunkenness, 115;
  cruel, 116;
  religious, 119;
  attached to comrades, 119;
  preparations for raids, 120 _et seq._;
  shares of spoil, 125;
  at the Samballoes, 232;
  at Perico, 247

Buckenham, Captain, 225

Cabeças, or Cabezas, 80, 84, 88, 92, 95

Cabin-boys, 319

Campeachy, 127

Canoas, 127;
  capturing prizes from, 129 _et seq._

Captains, 311, 322, 323, 324

Caribs, 108

Carpenters, 316

Cartagena, 11, 26, 27, 33, 35, 40, 41 _et seq._, 44, 45, 94

Cartridges, 300, 301

Castle Gloria, 151

Cativaas, or Catives, 9, 38, 53, 82

Cedro Bueno, halt at, 182

---- canoas sent to, 188

Chaplains, 321, 339

Chagres Castle, expedition to, under Bradley, 173 _et seq._

---- Morgan's arrival at, 180

---- party sent to, 203

---- message from, 205

Chagres River, 25, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 81; also 180-210

Charesha, 26

Chatas (small Spanish boats), 179

Cheapo River, 61, 241, 279

Chapillo, 241, 253

Chirurgeons, 321

Colonies in West Indies, 110, 111

Commissions, 118

Cook, Captain, 233, 234, 256, 258, 262

Cooks (ships'), 315

Coopers, 318

Compensations, 122

Comrades, 323

Corporals, 312

Costa Rica, Morgan sails for, 149

Cox, Captain, 258, 259, 262

Coxon, Captain, 229, 233, 237, 240, 241, 243, 249, 253

---- sails for home, 254

Coxswains, 313

Crews, 319

Daggs (pistols), 304

Dampier, William, 126;
  early life in West Indies, 218 _et seq._;
  ill at Campeachy, 225;
  ruined by storm, 226;
  goes pirating, _ibid._;
  returns to England, 228;
  to Jamaica, 229;
  joins buccaneers, 230;
  lands on isthmus, 234;
  not at Perico, 246;
  not at Arica, 267;
  leaves Sharp, 276, 277;
  tramps across isthmus, 280, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288

Darien, Gulf of, 4, 5, 8, 31, 99

Darien isthmus. _See_ Drake, Morgan, Dampier, etc.

Delander, R., 180

De la Barra Castle, 162

Diego, 19, 24, 31, 32, 36, 50, 51

---- Fort, 49, 51, 92

---- River, 37, 38, 49

Discomforts, 328

Discipline, 330, 331, 332

Drake, Francis (afterwards Sir Francis), born, 1;
  at San Juan d'Ulloa, 1, 2;
  at West Indies, 2, 3;
  sails for Nombre de Dios, 3, 4, 5;
  lands, 6;
  joins Rause, 7, 8;
  sails west, 9, 10;
  attacks Nombre de Dios, 15, 16, 20, 21;
  hurt, 21;
  receives herald, 23;
  goes to Cartagena, 26;
  establishes fort, 31;
  goes east, 32, 33;
  in Cartagena, 40, 41, etc.;
  returns thither, 45;
  starving, 46, 47;
  holds post mortem, 52;
  goes for Panama, 55 _et seq._;
  fails to take treasure, 66;
  retreats, 68;
  at Venta Cruz, 69;
  returns to Hixom, 77;
  goes to Veragua, 80, 81;
  meets Captain Tetû, 82;
  makes his great raid, 84, 85, 86, 88;
  builds raft, 89-90;
  his bravado, 94;
  arrives at Plymouth, 96;
  mentioned, 97;
  sacks St Domingo, 110;
  his island, 259, 260

---- John, 29, 30, 31, 32, 37

---- Joseph, 52

Entertainments, 325

Estera longa Lemos (near Porto Bello), 153

Firing (of cannon), 301;
  and aiming, 305, 306

Fort Jeronimo (at Porto Bello), 151

Francisco River (St Francis River), 9, 84, 88, 91, 92

French in West Indies, 111, 117

---- buccaneer commissions, 118

Fumigations, 329

Gabriele, Josef, 239

Galleons, 292, 293

Galliasses, 292, 293

Galleys, 291

Gambling, 131

Garret, John, 6

Gayny, G., 283, 285, 286, 287

Gear (sailors'), 296

Gibraltar (in Maracaibo), 162

Glub, Charles, 49

Golden Island, 232

Gorgona, 259, 276

Grummets, 320

Guasco (Huasco), 274

Gunners, 300, 301, 302, 304, 305, 308, 309, 312

Guns, 298 _et seq._, 307;
  list of, 303

Guzman, Don John Perez, takes Santa Katalina, 138. _See also_ Panama

Harris, Captain, 233, 237;
  killed and buried, 253

Hawkins, Sir R., 98, 99;
  his story of Oxenham, 105

Hayti, 106

Hilo (Ylo or Ilo), 260, 273, 274

Hispaniola, 106, 107 _et seq._, 114

Hixom, Ellis, 48, 54, 56, 75, 76, 77

Hobby, Mr, 229

Hunters, 108, 109

Indians, 121, 265, 279

Iquique (Yqueque), 264

Iron Castle (at Porto Bello), 139, 151, 158

Jamaica, 118, 229, 289

Jobson (or Cobson), 284, 287

Joiners, 316

Juan Fernandez, 261, 264

Katalina, Santa, Mansvelt goes to, 135

---- Morgan takes, 171

King Golden Cap, 236, 237, 239, 241, 246, 253, 255

La Serena, 260

Las Serenas, 44

La Sounds Key, 285, 287, 288

Liars, 320

Lieutenants, 311

Linstocks, 309

_Lion_, pinnace, 53, 84

Logwood cutting, 127;
  description of, 222

Longships, 291

Lorenzo, San, Castle of, 173;
  taken, 176;
  Morgan's return to, 213;
  destroyed, 214

Magdalena, 31, 37

Main, the, 28, 39, 83, 123, 124, 127

Mansvelt, Dutch pirate, cruises in South Seas, 135;
  his plans, 134;
  meets Henry Morgan, 135;
  sails with him, _ibid._;
  takes Santa Katalina, 135;
  seeks recruits and recognition from English Governor, 136;
  is refused help, 137;
  sails to Tortuga, 137;
  dies, 139

Maracaibo, 162

Maroons, 24, 28, 36, 38, 51, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 62, 65, 66, 67, 68,
        69, 70, 74, 75, 76, 85, 89, 95, 99, 100, 101, 102

Marygalante, 4

Masts, 294

Masters, 312, 322

_Minion_, pinnace, 49, 79

Moone, T., 2, 29

Morgan, Henry (afterwards Sir Henry), meets Mansvelt, 135;
  sails with him, _ibid._;
  tries to get help from New England, 139;
  gathers fleet, 140;
  goes for Puerto del Principe, 141;
  battle there, 142;
  town taken, 142;
  stay there, 143;
  mutiny and fight, 145;
  defection of French allies, 146;
  returns to Port Royal, 146;
  sails for Costa Rica, 149;
  lands, 153;
  takes a fort, 155;
  attacks Porto Bello, 156;
  takes it, 157;
  receives summons from Panama, 159;
  defeats Spanish troops, 160;
  receives ransom, 160;
  returns to Port Royal, 161;
  goes for Maracaibo, 162;
  summons De la Barra Castle, 163;
  the fireship, 164;
  Spanish rally, 164;
  Morgan's stratagem, 166;
  his return to Port Royal, 167;
  goes for Main, 168, 169;
  takes Santa Katalina, 177;
  sails for Chagres, 179;
  reaches Venta Cruz, 187;
  sees Panama, 190;
  takes it, 199, etc.;
  burns his ships, 209;
  leaves ruins, 210;
  returns to Venta Cruz, 212;
  destroys San Lorenzo, 214;
  returns to Port Royal, 215;
  becomes Governor of Jamaica, 216

Mosquito Indians, 122, 123, 124, 125

Mule trains (or recuas), 65, 66, 67, 85

Munjack, 228

Muskets, 303

Mutiny, 257

Nombre De Dios, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14;
  description of, 16, 17, 18, etc.;
  attack on, 27, 28, 62, 63, 64, 65, 84, 85, 98, 99, 103, 104

Norman, Captain, 180, 205

One Bush Key, 219, 221, 224

Ortega, John de, 100, 101

Oxenham, John, 17, 18, 39, 43, 61, 64, 65, 79, 81, 82, 93, 98;
  sails on his raid, 98;
  builds ship, 99;
  raids South Seas, 100;
  mutiny, 102, 103;
  Spaniards take him, 104;
  and hang him, 104, 108

Panama, 8, 11, 12, 15, 39, 54, 55, 61, 62, 243, 244, 252, 254, 255

---- description of, 192.

---- Morgan's sight of, 190

---- Governor of. _See_ Guzman, 159, 160.

Parrots, at Alvarado, 227

_Pascha_, a ship, 3, 30, 31, 32, 79, 81, 94, 95

Pavesses, 294

Pearl Islands, 100, 101, 244

Pedro, 57, 60, 95

Penn, 117

Peralta, Don, 206, 245, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 258, 261

Periaguas, 127

Perico, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 250-253

Petticoat (a sky-blue), 279

Petty tally, 324, 325

Pezoro, 79, 80, 81

Pike, Robert, 65, 67, 78

Pine Islands, 8, 9, 20

Pinnaces, 3, 7

Plenty, Port, 36

Plymouth, 3, 4, 96, 98

Porto Bello, 11, 13, 15;
  description, 150 _et seq._;
  attacked and sacked, 154 _et seq._; 230, 231

Port Pheasant, 5

Port Royal, 132

---- Morgan's return to, 215

---- Dampier arrives at, 221

Porto Santo, 4

Provisions, 326, 327, 328

Puebla Nueva, 256

Puerto del Principe, 140, 141 _et seq._

Pursers, 314

Quartermasters, 314

Quibo, 256, 257, 258, 259

Raft (Drake's), 89, 90

Rause, Captain, 7, 9, 25

Rigging, ancient, 295

Ringrose, Basil, 234, 237, 241, 243, 244, 247, 248, 349, 250

---- at Arica, 267, 268, 269, 273, 288, 289

Rio de la Hacha, 47, 169

Rio Grande, 32, 33, 46

Roundships, 291

Sails, 294, 295, 296, 297

Sailing from port, 322, 323

San Andreas, 127

---- Antonio, 96

---- Barnardo, 26, 28, 40, 50, 94

---- Domingo, 106, 107

---- Juan d'Ulloa, 1, 2, 12

---- Miguel, 277

Santa Maria, 232, 238, 239, 240, 253

---- Martha, 5, 47

---- Pecaque, 289

Savannahs, 61

Sawkins, Richard, Captain, 229, 233, 236, 240, 243, 248, 249, 250, 253,
        254, 255, 256;
  killed, 257, 262, 263, 281

Scrivanos, 28, 41, 53

Sea-fighting, 334, 335, 336, 337

Searles, Captain, 206

Sharp, Captain Bartholomew, 229, 233, 237, 238, 241, 242, 243, 244, 252,
        253, 254, 255;
  takes prizes, 257;
  elected admiral, 258, 259, 262, 265;
  at Arica, 267, 270, 271, 274, 275, 288, 289, 290

Ship-boys, 319

Simon Le Sieur, 136, 137, 138

Smith, Captain John, 89

Springer, Captain, 248

---- his key, 286

Stewards, 315

Swabbers, 319, 320

_Swan_, a ship, 2, 3, 29, 30

Tawnymores (a ship of), 247, 248, 249, 251

Tetû, Captain, 82, 83, 84, 86;
  hurt, 86, 87, 91

Tiburon, Cape, 169

Tocamora, 231

Tolu, 6, 36, 53, 79

Top-arming, 294

Torna Munni, 183

Tortuga, 111, 112, 115, 117

Tree (a great), 60, 61

_Trinity_, the Most Blessed, a Spanish galleon, 206, 251, 253, 259, 260,
        261, 263, 264, 288, 289

Tristian, Captain, 285

Trumpeters, 318

Tucker, Francis, 95

Venables, 117

Venta Cruz, 25, 62, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 85, 187, 212

Veragua, 78, 79, 80, 81

Villa del Rey, 35

Wafer, Lionel, 234, 276, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 287

Watling, John, 262, 263, 264, 266;
  attacks Arica, 267, 268, 269;
  shot, 270

Ylo, 260, 273, 274

Yqueque, 264, 265

Younkers, 320

Ysabel Nueva, 106

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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.