Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Privateers and Privateering
Author: Statham, E. P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Privateers and Privateering" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



PRIVATEERS AND PRIVATEERING

[Illustration: THE "INVENTION," FRENCH PRIVATEER]


  PRIVATEERS
  AND PRIVATEERING

  By
  COMMANDER E.P. STATHAM, R.N.

  AUTHOR OF "THE STORY OF THE 'BRITANNIA,'" AND JOINT
  AUTHOR OF "THE HOUSE OF HOWARD"

  WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS

  London: HUTCHINSON & CO.
  Paternoster Row 1910



PREFACE


A few words of explanation are necessary as to the pretension and scope
of this volume. It does not pretend to be a history of privateering; the
subject is an immense one, teeming with technicalities, legal and
nautical; interesting, indeed, to the student of history, and never
comprehensively treated hitherto, as far as the present author is aware,
in any single work.

The present object is not, however, to provide a work of reference, but
rather a collection of true stories of privateering incidents, and
heroes of what the French term "la course"; and as such it is hoped that
it will find favour with a large number of readers.

While the author has thus aimed at the simple and graphic narration of
such adventures, every effort has been made to ensure that the stories
shall be truly told, without embroidery, and from authentic sources; and
it has been found necessary, in some instances, to point out
inaccuracies in accounts already published; necessary, in view of the
fact that these accounts are accessible to any one, and probably
familiar to not a few possible readers of this volume, and it appears
to be only fair and just that any animadversions upon these
discrepancies should be here anticipated and dealt with.

It has not been considered necessary, save in rare instances, to give
references for statements or narratives; the book is designed to amuse
and entertain, and copious references in footnotes are not entertaining.

It will be noticed that the vast majority of the lives of privateers and
incidents are taken from the eighteenth century; for the simple reason
that full and interesting accounts during this period are available,
while earlier ones are brief and bald, and often of very doubtful
accuracy.

Some excuse must be craved for incongruities in chronological order,
which are unavoidable under the circumstances. They do not affect the
stories.

There remains to enumerate the titles and authors of modern works to
which the writer is indebted, and of which a list will be found on the
adjoining page.



LIST OF MODERN AUTHORITIES


  "History of the American Privateers and Letters of Marque
  in the War of 1812," etc. By George Coggleshall. 1856.

  "Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence." By Dr.
    Doran. 1876.

  "The Naval War of 1812." By T. Roosevelt. 1882.

  "Studies in Naval History." By Sir John K. Laughton. 1887.

  "The Corsairs of France." By C.B. Norman. 1887.

  "Life Aboard a British Privateer in the Reign of Queen Ann."
  By R.C. Leslie. 1889.

  "Robert Surcouf, un Corsaire Malouin." Par Robert Surcouf,
  ancien Sous-préfet. 1889.

  "The British Fleet." By Commander C.N. Robinson, R.N.
  1894.

  "The Royal Navy." By Sir W. Laird Clowes, etc. 1894.

  "Old Naval Ballads," etc. The Navy Records Society. 1894.

  "A History of the Administration of the Royal Navy," etc.
  By M. Oppenheim. 1896.

  "History of the Liverpool Privateers," etc. By G. Williams.
  1897.

  "Naval Yarns, Letters, and Anecdotes," etc. By W.H.
  Long. 1899.

  "A History of American Privateers." By E.S. Maclay. 1900.

  "Sea Songs and Ballads." By C. Stone. 1906.

  "Les Corsaires." Par Henri Malo. 1908.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I

                                                             PAGE

  INTRODUCTORY                                                 1


  TWO EARLY INCIDENTS


  CHAPTER II

  ANDREW BARTON                                               19

  THE "AMITY" AND THE SPANIARDS                               28


  PRIVATEERING IN THE SOUTH SEAS


  CHAPTER III

  WILLIAM DAMPIER                                             35


  CHAPTER IV

  WOODES ROGERS                                               41


  CHAPTER V

  WOODES ROGERS--_continued_                                  60


  CHAPTER VI

  GEORGE SHELVOCKE AND JOHN CLIPPERTON                        75


  SOME ODD YARNS


  CHAPTER VII

  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, OF THE "ALEXANDER"                        95

  THE CASE OF THE "ANTIGALLICAN"                              96


  CHAPTER VIII

  CAPTAIN DEATH, OF THE "TERRIBLE"                           106

  MR. PETER BAKER AND THE "MENTOR"                           111

  CAPTAIN EDWARD MOOR, OF THE "FAME"                         115

  CAPTAIN JAMES BORROWDALE, OF THE "ELLEN"                   117


  TWO GREAT ENGLISHMEN


  CHAPTER IX

  FORTUNATUS WRIGHT                                          123


  CHAPTER X

  FORTUNATUS WRIGHT--_continued_                             135


  CHAPTER XI

  GEORGE WALKER                                              149


  CHAPTER XII

  GEORGE WALKER--_continued_                                 171


  SOME FRENCHMEN


  CHAPTER XIII

  JEAN BART                                                  191


  CHAPTER XIV

  DU GUAY TROUIN                                             208


  CHAPTER XV

  JACQUES CASSARD                                            229


  CHAPTER XVI

  ROBERT SURCOUF                                             240

  CONCERNING THE FRONTISPIECE                                263


  SOME AMERICANS


  CHAPTER XVII

  CAPTAIN SILAS TALBOT                                       269


  CHAPTER XVIII

  CAPTAIN JOSHUA BARNEY                                      282


  CHAPTER XIX

  CAPTAINS BARNEY AND HARADEN                                299


  CHAPTER XX

  CAPTAIN THOMAS BOYLE                                       307


  CHAPTER XXI

  THE "GENERAL ARMSTRONG"                                    317


  SOME MORE ODD YARNS


  CHAPTER XXII

  THE "PRINCESS ROYAL" PACKET                                329

  TWO COLONIAL PRIVATEERS                                    333


  CHAPTER XXIII

  THE AFFAIR OF THE "BONAPARTE"                              341


  CHAPTER XXIV

  THE "WINDSOR CASTLE" PACKET                                354

  THE "CATHERINE"                                            357

  THE "FORTUNE"                                              360

  THE "THREE SISTERS"                                        362


  CONCLUSION                                                 364


  INDEX                                                      367



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  THE "INVENTION," FRENCH PRIVATEER      _Frontispiece_

  From a drawing by Commander E.P. Statham, R.N.

                                                      FACING PAGE

  WILLIAM DAMPIER, THE FAMOUS CIRCUMNAVIGATOR                 36

  From a photograph by Emery Walker after the painting by
  Thomas Murray in the National Portrait Gallery.

  CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH EAST INDIAMEN "CARNATIC" BY
  THE "MENTOR" PRIVATEER                                     114

  By permission of the Library Committee of the
  Corporation of Liverpool.

  CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH ARMED SHIPS "MARQUIS D'ANTIN"
  AND "LOUIS ERASMÉ" BY THE "DUKE" AND "PRINCE
  FREDERICK" PRIVATEERS                                      150

  From an engraving by Ravenet after a painting by Brooking.

  ACTION BETWEEN THE SPANISH 74-GUN SHIP "GLORIOSO"
  AND THE "KING GEORGE" AND "PRINCE FREDERICK" OF
  THE "ROYAL FAMILY" PRIVATEERS                              182

  From an engraving by Ravenet after a painting by Brooking.

  JEAN BART, A FAMOUS FRENCH PRIVATEER CAPTAIN               202

  From an engraving by J. Chapman.

  RENÉ DUGUAY-TROUIN, A FAMOUS FRENCH PRIVATEER CAPTAIN      226

  CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH PRIVATEER "JEUNE RICHARD" BY
  THE "WINDSOR CASTLE" PACKET                                356

  From an engraving by William Ward after the painting by
  S. Drummond, A.R.A.



INTRODUCTORY



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY


The privateersman, scouring the seas in his swift, rakish craft,
plundering the merchant vessels of the enemy, and occasionally engaging
in a desperate encounter with an opponent of his own class, or even with
a well-equipped man-of-war, has always presented a romantic and
fascinating personality. Many thrilling tales, half truth, half fiction,
have been written about him; and if he has not infrequently been
confounded with his first cousin the pirate, it must be admitted that
for such confusion there is considerable justification. The privateer is
a licensed, the pirate an unlicensed, plunderer; but plunder, not
patriotism, being, as a rule, the motive of the former, it is not
perhaps surprising that, failing legitimate prey, he has sometimes
adopted, to a great extent, the tactics of the latter.

Before proceeding to give an account of some of these licensed rovers
and their adventures, let us consider for a moment or two the origin and
development of privateering; this will assist us in forming an
appreciation of the advantages and drawbacks of the system, and also of
the difficulties which presented themselves to an honest and
conscientious privateer captain--for such there have been, as we shall
see, though there are not too many who merit such terms.

It is not very easy to say when privateering was first inaugurated,
though it is pretty certain that the term "privateer" did not come into
use until well on in the seventeenth century; licensed rovers, or
private men-of-war, were known previous to this period by some other
title, such as "Capers"--from a Dutch word, "Kaper"--or "letters of
marque," the latter a very incorrect term, adopted through a loose
manner of speech, for a "letter of marque" is, strictly speaking, a very
different affair from a privateer; indeed, the application of such a
term to a ship is obviously absurd: to convert a piece of paper or
parchment with writing on it into a seaworthy vessel would be a
considerably more marvellous piece of conjuring than turning a pumpkin
into a carriage, as the good fairy did for the accommodation of
Cinderella.

There is no doubt that the employment of private vessels for the
purposes of war, and the granting of letters of marque, went on side by
side for a great number of years. From the earliest times, before the
Norman Conquest, there were hordes of sea-rovers who, entirely on their
own account, and solely for the purpose of plunder, infested the seas,
robbing without scruple or distinction every defenceless vessel they
encountered, and in many instances wantonly slaughtering the crews; they
would also, on occasion, make a descent upon the coast either of their
own or some adjacent country--they were quite impartial in this
respect--and sack the farms and dwellings within easy reach, retiring to
their vessels before any force could be assembled to deal with them. The
Danes, as we know, were particularly handy at this kind of thing, and
gave us no little trouble.

Nobody appears to have made any great effort to put down this piracy;
but sometimes it was convenient to enlist the services of some of these
hardy and adventurous ruffians against the enemies of the sovereign. In
the year 1049, for instance, that excellent monarch, Edward the
Confessor, finding the Danes very troublesome on the south coast, sent a
force, under Godwin, to deal with them; and we are told that it was
composed of "two king's ships, and forty-two of the people's ships";
these latter being, no doubt, a collection of--let us hope--the less
villainous of these sea-rovers, hardy and skilful seamen, and desperate
fighters when it came to the point.

Nearly two hundred years later, in 1243, King Henry III. issued regular
patents, or commissions, to certain persons, seamen by profession, "to
annoy the king's enemies by sea or land wheresoever they are able," and
enjoined all his faithful subjects to refrain from injuring or hindering
them in this business; the condition being that half the plunder was to
be given to the king, "in his wardrobe"--that is, his private purse--and
it is quite probable that both the king and the recipients of his
commission made a nice little profit out of it.

This is a genuine instance of what was known later as privateering; and
it will be noticed that the "king's enemies" are specified as the only
persons against whom the commission holds good; in other words, such a
commission can have no significance, nor indeed can it be issued, in
time of peace or against any friendly Power. This is an essential
characteristic of privateering: it can only be carried on when a state
of war exists, and the fitting out of a privateer to attack the subjects
of any sovereign would in itself be an act of war.

Now let us see what is meant by a letter of marque; there is a good
instance on record at the end of the thirteenth century, in the reign of
Edward I.

One Bernard D'Ongressill, a merchant of Bayonne--at that time a portion
of the realm of the King of England--in the year 1295, was making a
peaceful, and, as he hoped, a profitable voyage from Barbary to England,
in his ship the _St. Mary_, with a cargo of almonds, raisins, and figs;
unfortunately he encountered heavy weather, and was compelled to run
into Lagos--a small sea-port at the south-west corner of Portugal which
affords secure shelter from westerly gales--and, while he was waiting
for the weather to moderate, there came from Lisbon some armed men, who
robbed D'Ongressill of the ship, cargo, and the private property of
himself and his crew, and took the whole of their spoil to Lisbon. The
King of Portugal very unscrupulously appropriated one-tenth of the
plunder, the remainder being divided among the robbers.

The unhappy victim at once applied for redress to the king's
representative, Sir John of Brittany, Lieutenant of Gascony,
representing that he had lost some £700, and requesting that he might be
granted letters of marque against the Portuguese, to take whatever he
could from them, until he had made up his loss. This was conceded, and
authority bestowed to "seize by right of marque,[1] retain, and
appropriate the people of Portugal, and especially those of Lisbon and
their goods, wheresoever they might be found," for five years, or until
he had obtained restitution. This was dated in June: but the king's
ratification was necessary, and this caused some delay, as Edward was at
that time shut up in a Welsh castle; however, he was able in October to
confirm the licence; but he added the proviso that if D'Ongressill took
more than £700 worth from the Portuguese, he would be held answerable
for the balance.

This is an excellent example of the form and import of a letter of
marque; and it will be noticed that England was not at war with
Portugal, nor did the issue of this letter of marque constitute an act
of war; it was, in fact, a licence to a private individual to recover by
force from the subjects of another sovereign the goods of which he had
been despoiled; the practice dates back, certainly, to the early part of
the twelfth century, and probably further; and it was in use in England
until the time of Charles II., or later. The one condition, not
mentioned in the case of D'Ongressill, was that letters of marque should
not be granted until every effort had been made to obtain a peaceful
settlement; representations may, however, have been made to the King of
Portugal; but if, as stated by D'Ongressill, he had pocketed a tithe of
the spoil, one can imagine that there might be some difficulty in the
matter; the possession of one-tenth would naturally appear, in the eyes
of his Majesty of Portugal, to constitute nine points of the law!

The application of the term letter of marque to vessels which were in
reality privateers has caused a good deal of confusion; some naval
historians of great repute have fallen into error over it, one of them,
for instance, alluding to the commissions granted by Henry III., in
1243, as the "first recorded instance of the issue of letters of
marque"; rather an inexcusable mistake, from which the present reader is
happily exempt.

While guarding, in this explanation, against such confusion of terms, we
must, notwithstanding, accept the ultimate adoption of it; and so we
shall find included among our privateers and their commanders some who
were quite improperly described as letters of marque, and one, at least,
who may correctly be thus designated, but who, as an interesting example
of a sort of privateering at an early period, appears to deserve
mention.

The bearer of a letter of marque--or "mart," as it was constantly termed
by writers and others of that class of persons who never will take the
trouble to pronounce an unusual word properly--came to be adopted as the
type of a sort of swashbuckler--a reckless, bullying individual, armed
with doubtful credentials in the pursuit of some more or less
discreditable object: allusion of this nature is made more than once by
Beaumont and Fletcher in their plays, as well as by other writers.

The immense value of a fleet of privateers, more especially to a country
opposed to another possessing a large mercantile marine, is obvious, and
their use developed very rapidly.

By the middle of the sixteenth century the fitting out of vessels by
corporations and individuals, for their own protection and the "annoying
of the king's enemies" with the further advantage of substantial gains
by plunder, was clearly recognised, for we find King Henry VIII., in the
year 1544, remonstrating with the Mayor and burgesses of Newcastle,
Scarborough, and Hull for their remissness in this respect. He points
out what has been done elsewhere, especially in the west parts, "where
there are twelve or sixteen ships of war abroad, who have gotten among
them not so little as £10,000"; and adds: "It were over-burdensome that
the king should set ships to defend all parts of the realm, and keep the
narrow seas withal."

In the American and French wars of the eighteenth and early part of the
nineteenth centuries there were literally thousands of privateers
engaged. It would appear as though almost every skipper and shipowner
incontinently applied, upon declaration of war, for a commission, or
warrant, or letter of marque--no matter what it was called; the main
thing was to get afloat, and have a share in what was going.

Valuable as have been the services of privateers, at various periods, as
auxiliaries to the Navy, there is an obvious danger in letting loose
upon the seas a vast number of men who have never had any disciplinary
training, and whose principal motive is the acquisition of wealth--is,
in fact, officially recognised as such; and although there existed
pretty stringent regulations, amended at various times as occasion
demanded, covering the mode of procedure to be adopted before the
prize-money could be paid, these laws were constantly evaded in the most
flagrant manner. Even the most honourable and well-disposed privateer
captain was liable at any moment to find himself confronted by the
alternatives of yielding to the demands of his rapacious crew for
immediate and unlawful division of the spoil, or yet more lawless
capture of an ineligible vessel, and personal violence, perhaps death,
to himself; and the ease with which an unarmed vessel, overhauled within
the silent circle of the horizon, unbroken by the sails of a solitary
witness, could be compelled, whatever her nationality, upon some flimsy
excuse to pay toll, frequently proved too strong a temptation to be
resisted.

There is abundant evidence of the notoriety of such unlawful doings; Sir
Leoline Jenkins, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty in the reign of
Charles II., says, in a letter to Secretary Williamson: "I see that your
embarrass hath been much greater about our Scotch privateers. The truth
is, I am much scandalised at them in a time of war; they are, in my poor
judgment, great instruments to irritate the king's friends, to undo his
subjects, and none at all to profit upon the enemy; but it will not be
remedied. The privateers in our wars are like the _mathematici_ in old
Rome: a sort of people that will always be found fault with, but still
made use of."

Von Martens, a great authority upon maritime law, is equally
plain-spoken: "Pirates have always been considered the enemies of
mankind, and proscribed and punished accordingly. On the contrary,
privateers are encouraged to this day (1801), notwithstanding all the
complaints of neutral Powers, of which they are the scourge; and
notwithstanding all their excesses, which it has been in vain attempted
to suppress by ill-observed laws."

Admiral Vernon, in 1745, while acknowledging the services of privateers
in distressing the enemy's trade and bringing an addition of wealth into
the country, deprecates their employment on the ground of the general
tendency to debauch the morals of our seamen, by substituting greed of
gain for patriotism[2]; and Lord Nelson, in 1804, says: "The conduct of
all privateers is, as far as I have seen, so near piracy that I only
wonder any civilised nation can allow them."

This is a sorry story of the privateer, and tends to discount sadly the
romantic element so commonly associated with him. This is not a romance,
however, and, having thus cleared the ground, we must be content to take
the privateer, like Kipling's "Absent-minded Beggar," as we find him;
and, by way of consolation and reward for our ingenuousness, we shall
come across privateersmen whose skill, gallantry, and absolute integrity
of conduct would do credit to many a hero of the Royal Navy.

The almost universal practice which prevailed in former times, of arming
merchant vessels, particularly in certain trades, as a protection
against pirates and privateers, has led to a considerable amount of
misunderstanding. There are many instances upon record of spirited and
successful defence, even against a very superior force, on the part of
these armed traders, which have frequently been cited as privateer
actions. These vessels, however, carried no warlike commission, and must
not therefore be included in this category. Captain Hugh Crow, of
Liverpool, who was engaged for many years in the West African slave
trade, is a case in point. He fought some severe actions, upon one
occasion with two British sloops-of-war, which he mistook in the dark
for French privateers; the error being reciprocal, they pounded away at
each other in the darkness, and it was not until Crow, after a desperate
and most creditable resistance, was compelled at length to surrender,
that victors and vanquished discovered their error: a very remarkable
incident. Captain Crow was a shining light, in those unhappy slaving
times, by reason of his humanity and integrity, and was beloved by the
negroes from Bonny to Jamaica, where he landed so many cargoes.

Some celebrities of the sea have also been erroneously styled
privateers; among others, the notorious Paul Jones, and Captain Semmes,
of _Alabama_ fame. Jones was a renegade, being a Scotsman by birth, and
his proper name John Paul; but he fought under a regular commission from
the United States, and was subsequently accorded the rank of
Rear-Admiral in the Russian service. It must be admitted, however, that
his conduct afforded some grounds for the appellation of "Paul Jones the
Pirate," by which he was sometimes known; but he was a consummate
seaman, and a man of infinite courage and resource.

Semmes was also employed as a commissioned naval officer by the
Confederate States, in the Civil War of 1860; and though he was classed
at first as a "rebel" by the Northerners, and threatened with a pirate's
fate if captured, the recognition of the Confederates as a belligerent
State by foreign Powers had already rendered such views untenable.

It appears desirable to allude to these instances, in order to
anticipate a possible question as to the exclusion of such famous seamen
from these pages.

There is also considerable confusion among authors as to the distinction
between a pirate and a privateer, some of them being apparently under
the impression that the terms are synonymous, while others, through
imperfect knowledge of the details and ignorance of international law,
have classed as pirates men who did not merit that opprobrious title,
and, on the other hand, have placed the "buccaneers"--who were sheer
pirates--in the same category as legitimate privateers.

For instance, Captain Woodes Rogers, of whom we shall have a good deal
to say later on, is alluded to by one writer as "little more than a
pious pirate," and by another simply as a pirate, bent upon "undisguised
robbery"; whereas he was, in fact, more than once in serious conflict
with his crew, upon the occasion of their demanding the capture and
plunder of a ship which he was not entitled to seize--and, moreover, he
had his own way.

There have been, no doubt, and with equal certainty there will be,
incidents in warfare which afford very unpleasant reading, and in which
the aggressors appear to have been unduly harsh and exacting, not to say
cruel, towards defenceless or vanquished people; but that does not prove
that they were not within their rights, and to impugn the conduct of an
individual from a hastily and perhaps ignorantly adopted moral
standpoint, at the expense of the legal aspect of the matter, must
obviously involve the risk of gross injustice. War is a very terrible
thing, and is full of terrible incidents which are quite inevitable, and
the rough must be taken with the smooth--if you can find any smooth!

It is an axiom of international law that, when two nations are at war,
every subject of each is at war with every subject of the other; and, in
view of this fact, it appears extremely doubtful whether any merchant
vessel is not at liberty to capture one of the other side, if she be
strong enough. It is, in fact, laid down by Sir Travers Twiss, a high
authority, that if a merchant vessel, attacked by one of the enemy's
men-of-war, should be strong enough to turn the tables, she would be
entitled to make a prize of her: an unlikely incident, of course.

It is unnecessary, however, to enter upon further discussion of this
subject, which would involve us in very knotty problems, upon some of
which the most accomplished authorities are still at variance, and which
would afford very indifferent entertainment for the reader, who will now
turn over the page and follow the fortunes of our privateers--which will
be found by no means devoid of interest, in spite of strict adherence to
the plain unvarnished truth.

[Footnote 1: Sir Harris Nicolas, in his "History of the Royal Navy,"
interprets the Latin word _marcare_ (or _marchare_) "to mark," and, in
referring to this incident, says that Bernard was accorded the right of
"_marking_ the men and subjects of the King of Portugal," etc. It is
curious that so diligent and accomplished a chronicler should have
fallen into this error. The verb _marcare_, as he would have discovered
by reference to the "Glossarium" of Du Cange, the learned French
archæologist, was in fact a bit of "law Latin," coined for a purpose;
that is, to express in one word the rights conceded by a letter of
marque; it will not be found in any ordinary Latin dictionary. The grant
of a licence to "mark" the subjects of some monarch, and their goods,
is, indeed somewhat of an absurdity--clearly, the "marker" would first
have to catch the men and their possessions!]

[Footnote 2: In an original letter formerly in the possession of the
late Sir William Laird Clowes, quoted by him in "The Royal Navy."]



TWO EARLY INCIDENTS



CHAPTER II

ANDREW BARTON


There was living at the commencement of the sixteenth century a
Scotsman, named Andrew Barton, who acquired considerable notoriety by
reason of his exploits at sea; and indeed, he was instrumental in
bringing to a definite issue the condition of high tension existing
between England and Scotland at that time, which culminated in the
battle of Flodden Field.

It appears, from certain State Papers, that one John Barton, the father
of Andrew, somewhere about the year 1476, in the reign of James III. of
Scotland, got into trouble with the Portuguese, who captured his vessel
and goods and otherwise ill-treated him; upon representation of which
injuries he obtained letters of marque against the Portuguese, in the
usual terms.

Apparently, however, John did not succeed in obtaining substantial
restitution by this means, for we learn, in a letter from James IV. to
Maximilian, Emperor of Germany, dated December 8th, 1508, that the
letters of marque had been repeatedly suspended, in the hope of
obtaining redress; but had been renewed during the previous year, in
favour of the late John Barton's three sons, one of whom--Robert--was
the occasion of the writing of this letter; the Portuguese having taken
him prisoner, and proposing to hang him as a pirate, which, says King
James, he is not, having authority to act against the Portuguese, by
virtue of my letters of marque.

All this argues a considerable amount of favour towards the Bartons on
the Scottish monarch's part; for it must be admitted that the renewal of
letters of marque, after they had run intermittently for thirty years in
respect of one incident, was a straining of the elasticity of
conventions.

The Bartons had, in fact, been high in favour both with James III. and
his successor, and were constantly employed by them in maritime affairs,
being frequently entrusted, as we learn from the accounts of the Lord
Treasurer of Scotland, with the handling of large sums of money.

They were formidable fellows, these Bartons; hardy and daring, skilled
in all the strategy of the sea, and, when occasion arose, perfect
gluttons at fighting. Andrew appears to have been the most formidable,
and added to his other attributes that of being a born leader of men.

We are told by Bishop John Leslie, in his "History of Scotland," that in
the year 1506 King James caused a great ship to be built, in the design
and rigging of which Andrew Barton played a prominent part, and was
afterwards placed in command of her to harry the Flemish pirates then
infesting the narrow seas: a task which he set about with characteristic
energy and ferocity, with the result that he captured some and
completely scattered and demoralised the remainder. By way of
demonstrating his success in graphic and convincing fashion, he
presently despatched to his august master sundry pipes, or casks,
containing Flemish heads! He little guessed, however, that his own head
was destined--according to some authorities--to make, before many years
had elapsed, a similar journey, unaccompanied by his body.

Having disposed of the Flemish pirates, Andrew Barton resumed his
operations, under letters of marque, against the Portuguese, and
captured, during following years, a good many vessels under that flag;
nor were his brothers idle. One cannot help wondering whether the Barton
family had not by this time exacted more than adequate restitution of
their losses of five-and-thirty years previously; and, as we know, it
was of the essence of such authorised reprisals that they should cease
when this end was attained. Very probably some contemporary persons,
more or less interested in their doings, began asking this same
question; at any rate, there prevailed in the year 1511 a very strong
feeling in England against Andrew Barton; he was constantly alluded to
as the "Scottish pirate," and accused of many outrages against vessels
other than Portuguese; and, as there existed just then very strained
relations with Scotland, these stories met with ready credence. The
general dislike of Andrew Barton and his doings was embodied in a
representation by Portuguese ambassadors to King Henry VIII., who does
not appear to have complained to the Scots King, or taken any steps in
the matter.

The public feeling was voiced, however, by Thomas Howard, Earl of
Surrey--afterwards victor of Flodden, and second Duke of Norfolk--who
exclaimed that "The King of England should not be imprisoned in his
kingdom, while either he had an estate to set up a ship, or a son to
command it."

This somewhat theatrical attitude is indicative of the exaggerated
stories in circulation as to Andrew Barton's terrorism of the narrow
seas; the immediate sequel, however, was the fitting out of two vessels,
commanded respectively by Surrey's sons, Lord Thomas and Lord Edward
Howard, with the express object of capturing Barton. It is said by some
writers that the Howards provided these ships at their own cost, and, in
view of Surrey's enthusiastic outbreak, it appears not improbable that
this was the case. However this may be, the two brothers put forth from
the Thames one day in June 1511 in quest of Andrew, who was then
returning from Flanders, by way of the Downs, in his ship, the _Lion_,
accompanied by a smaller vessel, or pinnace, the _Jenny Pirwin_.

The Howards had to wait for more than a month, however, and then, being
separated by bad weather, Lord Thomas sighted the _Lion_, which had also
parted from her consort.

Barton appears to have endeavoured, in the first instance, to escape;
according to Leslie, he made friendly advances to Howard, insisting that
the English and Scotch were not at war; this would have been a sound
and logical attitude for Barton to assume, and it may be that he acted
so; but in the end Howard chased him, and, finding himself outsailed,
the Scot faced the foe with his usual boldness, and a desperate
encounter ensued.

Howard's force was probably superior to that of his antagonist, but
Andrew Barton and his ship's company were not to be intimidated by odds
against them, when once they entered upon an engagement, and Lord Thomas
soon realised that the task he had undertaken was no child's play.

Reeling alongside each other, at the closest quarters, the two vessels
exchanged shots from their cannon as rapidly as they could be loaded and
fired, while the crossbowmen and arquebusiers discharged a perfect hail
of arrows, "quarrells," and bolts; Howard placed his ship again and
again alongside, in the attempt to board, only to be beaten off by the
valiant Scots, the decks of both vessels plentifully strewn with the
wounded and dying.

At length Howard, as courageous and persistent a fighter as Barton,
gained a footing on the _Lion's_ deck, with a few of his men; others
speedily followed, and a hand-to-hand fight ensued.

Barton was by this time mortally wounded; his leg was shattered by a
cannon-shot, and his body pierced in several places; but he sat up
against the bulwarks, blowing his whistle and beating a drum to rally
his men, as long as the breath remained in him; and it was not until
they saw the fighting flame quenched in the eye of their intrepid and
yet unconquered leader, and his chin drop upon his breast, that the
sturdy Scots were fain at length to yield to Howard and his men.

Lord Edward Howard, meanwhile, had captured the _Jenny Pirwin_, not
without some stubborn opposition, in spite of the odds in his favour,
the smaller vessel having suffered heavily in killed and wounded before
capitulating.

Both vessels were immediately added to the English Navy, the nucleus of
which was then in process of formation; the prisoners were conveyed to
London, and confined in the palace of the Bishop of York, awaiting the
king's pleasure.

As might be expected, the Scottish historians, Leslie and Buchanan, give
a somewhat different account from that of Edward Hall, in whose
chronicle the most nearly contemporary narrative is to be found.
Leslie's allegation as to the friendly overtures of Barton finds no
corroboration in Hall's Chronicle; and indeed, it is difficult to
believe that Andrew Barton did not thoroughly comprehend the situation
from the first.

King Henry VIII. appears to have been willing to give the prisoners
every chance, for he sent some members of his Council, with the Bishop
of Winchester, to parley with them. The bishop, according to Hall,
"rehearsed to them, whereas peace was yet between England and Scotland,
that they, contrary to that, as thieves and pirates, had robbed the
king's subjects within his streams, therefore they had deserved to die
by the law, and to be hanged at the low-water mark. Then said the
Scots, we knowledge our offence, and ask mercy, and not the law. Then a
priest which was also a prisoner, said, My lords, we appeal from the
king's justice to his mercy. Then the bishop asked him, if he was
authorised by them to say so, and they cried all, Yea, yea; then said
he, You shall find the king's mercy above his justice; for where you
were dead by law, yet by his mercy he will revive you; wherefore you
shall depart out of this realm within twenty days, upon pain of death,
if you be found after the twenty days; and pray for the king; and so
they passed into their country."

Thus far Edward Hall; Buchanan says: "They who were not killed in the
fight were thrown into prison at London; from whence they were brought
to the king, and, humbly begging their lives of him, as they were
instructed to do by the English, he, in a proud ostentation of his great
clemency, dismissed, and sent the poor innocent souls away."

When James remonstrated, demanding redress for the death of Andrew
Barton and his comrades, and the capture of their ships, Henry replied
that the doing of justice upon a pirate was no occasion for a breach of
friendly relations between two princes. "This answer," says Buchanan,
"showed the spite of one that was willing to excuse a plain murder, and
seemed as if he had sought an occasion of war."

This incident was celebrated in verse, not immediately afterwards, but
in the reign of Elizabeth.

The "Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton" gives a most circumstantial account of
the fight, introducing many details which are probably fictitious, and
confusing the identity of the Howards who took part in it. According to
the writer, Lord _Charles_ Howard was the hero of the occasion; but
there does not happen to have been any such person to the fore at that
time, the conqueror of the Spanish Armada--Charles Howard, Lord
Effingham, afterwards created Earl of Nottingham--not having been born
until five-and-twenty years later.

Probably the ballad was written after 1588--the Armada year--by way of
glorifying the Howards, who were very high in royal and popular favour
at that time; such anachronisms were very common in popular ballads of
this and later times.

The writer represents that Barton's smaller vessel was sunk; and he it
is who tells us about that alleged journey of Andrew's head:

  My Lord Howard tooke a sword in his hand,
    And smote of Sir Andrew's head;
  The Scotts stood by did weepe and mourne,
    But never a word durst speake or say.

  He caused his body to be taken downe,
    And over the hatch-bord cast into the sea,
  And about his middle three hundred crownes:
    "Whersoever thou lands, itt will bury thee."

  With his head they sayled into England againe,
    With right good will, and fforce and main,
  And the day before new Yeereseven
    Into Thames mouth they came againe.

  Then King Henerye shiffted his roome;
    In came the Queene and ladyes bright;
  Other arrand they had none
    But to see Sir Andrew Bartton, Knight.

  But when they see his deadly face,
    His eyes were hollow in his head;
  "I wold give a hundred pound," sais King Henerye,
    "The man were alive as hee is dead."

A gruesome sight, indeed, for the Queen--the courageous but gentle
Katharine of Aragon--and her ladies!

There is a disposition in some quarters to regard the whole incident as
fictitious, but this does not appear to be at all justifiable. Edward
Hall, the Chronicler, was a lad of thirteen or fourteen at the time, and
so may be regarded as, practically, a contemporary writer; while Bishop
Leslie (1527-96) and George Buchanan (1506-82) must certainly have known
many persons who remembered the fight. Moreover, it appears to be
certain that the _Lion_ and _Jenny Pirwin_ were at that time added to
the infant Navy, while the official correspondence of the King of
Scotland tells of the grant and renewal of the letters of marque.

Barton was not entitled to the "handle" which the Elizabethan rhymester
prefixes to his name: he was not a knight, though he might very possibly
have become one, had he lived.

Whether or not he was, strictly speaking, a pirate is very doubtful; he
was probably no worse in this respect than many, both in prior and
later times, who have escaped the odium and the consequences of piracy.
He was certainly empowered by his sovereign to overhaul and plunder
Portuguese ships and appropriate the goods of Portuguese subjects; and
if he permitted himself some latitude in the matter of Portuguese
cargoes carried in English or other bottoms--well, there are some naval
commanders of the twentieth century who would scarcely find themselves
in a position to cast the first stone at him; there were some curious
doings in the Russo-Japanese War, some of which still await the final
decision of the courts.

Andrew Barton, as has already been hinted, was not, strictly speaking, a
privateer; but he occupies an exceptional position, by reason of his
intimate association with the two Scottish kings, which places him
somewhat outside of the sphere of the ordinary letter of marque; while
as an intrepid sea-fighter, in command of a private ship, he is second
to none.


THE "AMITY" AND THE SPANIARDS

In the year 1592 the privateer _Amity_, of London, commanded by Thomas
Whyte, captured two armed Spanish vessels, the _St. Francisco_ and _St.
Peter_, respectively of 130 and 150 tons. The crew of the _Amity_
numbered forty-three, but we are not told her armament. The _St.
Francisco_ carried three iron guns, two copper pieces of twenty quintals
each, and one of fourteen quintals--that is, two pretty nearly one ton
in weight, and one about two-thirds of a ton; but it is not quite clear
what weight of shot they fired. She had also twenty muskets on board,
and carried a crew of twenty-eight men and two boys; she was licensed to
carry twenty passengers. The force of the _St. Peter_ is not given, but
was probably slightly in excess of that of the _St. Francisco_. They
were bound for the West Indies, with cargoes in which were included 112
tons of quicksilver--a pretty valuable freight--28 tons of papal
Bulls,[3] and some wine.

The description of the action, by someone on board the _Amity_, is given
in the Lansdowne MSS., and transcribed by Mr. M. Oppenheim, in his
"History of the Administration of the Royal Navy," as below, except that
the spelling is here modernised, to render the account more readily
intelligible to the reader:

"The order and manner of the taking of the two ships laden with
quicksilver and the Pope's Bulls, bound for the West Indies, by the
_Amity_ of London, Master Thomas Whyte.

"The 26th of July, 1592, being in 36 degrees, or thereabouts [somewhere
off the Strait of Gibraltar], we had sight of the said ships, being
distant from us about three or four leagues; by 7 of the clock we
fetched them up and were within gunshot, whose boldness (having the
King's arms displayed) did make us conceive them rather to be ships of
war than laden with merchandise. And, as it doth appear by some of their
own speeches, they made full account to have taken us, and was question
among them whether they should carry us to St. Lucar [just north of
Cadiz] or Lisbon. We waved each other amain [_i.e._ called upon each
other to strike or lower the sails], they having placed themselves in
warlike order, the one a cable's length before the other; we begun the
fight, in the which we continued so fast as we were able to charge and
discharge the space of five hours, being never a cable's length distant
either of us the one from the other, in which time we received divers
shots both in the hull of our ship, masts, and sails, to the number of
32 great shot which we told after the fight, besides five hundred
musket-shot and harquebus à croc [a large musket, fired from a stand] at
the least. And for that we perceived they were stout, we thought good to
board the Biscayan [_i.e._ the _St. Francisco_], which was ahead the
other, where lying aboard about an hour plying our ordnance and small
shot, with the which we stowed all his men [_i.e._ drove them from the
deck]; now they in the fly-boat[4]--the _St. Peter_--making account that
we had entered our men, bare room with us [_i.e._ ran down upon us],
meaning to have laid us aboard, and so to have entrapped us between them
both, which we perceiving, made ready ordnance and fitted us so as we
quitted ourselves of him, and he boarded his fellow, by which means they
both fell from us [a very neat manoeuvre]. Then presently we kept our
luff [hauled to the wind], hoisted our topsails, and weathered them, and
came hard aboard the fly-boat with our ordnance prepared, and gave her
our whole broadside, with the which we slew divers of their men, so as
we might perceive the blood to run out at the scuppers; after that we
cast about, and now charged all our ordnance, and came upon them again,
and willed them amain, or else we would sink them, whereupon the one
would have yielded, which was shot between wind and water, but the other
called him traitor; unto whom we made answer that if he would not yield
presently also we would sink him first. And thereupon he, understanding
our determination, presently put out a white flag and yielded; howbeit
they refused to strike their own sails, for that they were sworn never
to strike to any Englishman. We then commanded the captains and masters
to come aboard of us, which they did, and after examination and stowing
them, we sent aboard them, struck their sails and manned their ships,
finding in them both one hundred and twenty and six souls living, and
eight dead, besides those which they themselves had cast overboard; so
it pleased God to give us the victory, being but 42 men and a boy, of
the which there were two killed and three wounded, for which good
success we give the only praise to Almighty God."

The number found on board the two vessels--one hundred and thirty-four,
including the dead--and the implication that some corpses had been
thrown overboard, making up the total to, say, one hundred and forty,
points to the conclusion that there must have been a large number of
passengers. The _St. Francisco_ was only entitled to have fifty souls on
board, all told, and her consort probably not above sixty at the
outside; so there is a surplus of thirty or so between the two to be
accounted for. No doubt the skippers, in the absence of any strict
inquisition, carried more passengers than they were licensed for. The
captains of ferry-boats and coasting steamers do so to this day, in
spite of the very stringent regulations of the Board of Trade--and they
do not very often get found out, except by the supervention of some dire
catastrophe, due to overloading and panic.

The futile Spanish bravado, in refusing to lower their sails to any
Englishman, after having displayed the white flag in token of surrender,
is decidedly amusing; one cannot help wondering whether any one of them
really persuaded himself that he had "saved his face" by such a piece of
tomfoolery.

[Footnote 3: This traffic in "Bulls" from the Pope was, of course, a
gross abuse of papal prerogative, which was probably engineered by some
of his underlings for their own enriching. A packet of nearly one
million and a half of such documents obviously could not have been
signed by the Pope himself.]

[Footnote 4: The fly-boat was a flat-bottomed Dutch vessel, with a high
stern; probably the term is used loosely here, to distinguish between
the two vessels; the _St. Peter_ more nearly resembling a fly-boat.]



PRIVATEERING IN THE SOUTH SEAS

[Illustration: WILLIAM DAMPIER, THE FAMOUS CIRCUMNAVIGATOR]



CHAPTER III

WILLIAM DAMPIER


The title of this section requires, perhaps, some explanation; and first
as to the phrase "South Seas." In the sixteenth and two following
centuries this term was applied to that portion of the Pacific Ocean
which borders the west coast of South America, from Cape Horn to the
Gulf of Panama. It had been first exploited by the Spaniards, and became
a great treasure-hunting ground for them, until France and England
stepped in to obtain a share in the spoils, and the Spanish
treasure-ships were tracked and waylaid by English privateers and
men-of-war; which also attacked Spanish ports and towns.

To this end there were several privateering expeditions sent out, at the
end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century: and it is of
some of these that it is proposed to treat in this chapter.

In this connection, it is impossible to omit the name of William
Dampier; for he was, for a time, a privateer captain, duly supplied with
a commission to fight against the enemies of his sovereign. He had
served, in his youth, in the Royal Navy, but had subsequently been in
very bad company, sailing with the famous buccaneers, who were
practically pirates, in the South Seas. This did not prevent him,
however, from eventually obtaining, after many vicissitudes, the command
of a man-of-war, the _Roebuck_: he lost his ship, and was tried by
court-martial for cruelty to Lieutenant Fisher; and this was the end of
his connection with the Navy, for the court found the charge proved
against him, sentenced him to forfeit his pay, and pronounced him to be
an unfit person to command a king's ship.

Dampier was not, indeed, fit for any post of command, though he was a
very distinguished man, by reason of his skill as a navigator, and the
immense pains he took in noting and recording the characteristics,
natural history, winds, currents, and every imaginable detail of those
portions of the world which he visited. The results of his observations
were treated with the greatest deference for generations afterwards, and
in many respects hold good to the present day. His praises have been
sung in all the languages of Europe, and one at least of his admirers
alludes to him as "a man of exquisite refinement of mind." The word
"refinement" must be taken as signifying, in this instance, the faculty
of recognising and distinguishing between cause and effect in what came
under his notice, a kind of natural intuition with regard to matters of
scientific interest, a love of science for its own sake; for of
refinement, in the commonly accepted sense of the word, Dampier
certainly displayed a grievous lack, at least in his capacity as captain
of a ship, even in those rough days.

However, after his trouble in the _Roebuck_, he was placed in command of
a privateer, the _St. George_, of twenty-six guns, for a voyage to the
South Seas, having for a consort a smaller vessel, the _Cinque Ports_,
commanded by one Pickering, and they sailed from Kinsale--a favourite
port of call and place of departure in those days--on September 11th,
1703.

The voyage was almost entirely a failure; the crews were more or less
insubordinate from the first, neither Dampier nor Pickering knowing how
to manage them. Pickering died when on the coast of Brazil, and
Stradling, his mate, succeeded him.

When they had got round Cape Horn, and made the island of Juan
Fernandez, the crews mutinied openly; some of them went on shore, and
declared their intention of deserting altogether. When this was patched
up, there still remained an utter lack of confidence between Dampier and
his subordinates. The two ships engaged a French cruiser, against
Dampier's wish, and the action was futile and ill-fought, so that the
Frenchman got away. Nothing prospered with them.

Dampier was for ever making plans which held out the prospect of wealth,
but had not the courage to follow them up. Alarmed at the sight of two
French ships as they returned to Juan Fernandez, he sheered off, leaving
a quantity of stores, and six men who had secreted themselves on the
island. When at length they were in great straits for food, they
captured a large Spanish ship laden with provisions; over this capture
there was a final rupture between Dampier and Stradling, and they
parted for good. They took two or three small vessels also, of no value,
which only facilitated the defection of Dampier's followers. One of them
Stradling had appropriated; in the other two, first John Clipperton,
Dampier's mate, and then William Funnell, his steward, decamped, each
with a party of men. The _St. George_ was too rotten to venture in any
longer, and eventually, after plundering a small Spanish town, Dampier
seized a brigantine, and sailed for the East Indies, only to be taken
and imprisoned in a Dutch factory for some months. At last he arrived in
England, towards the end of 1707, to find that William Funnell--who
represented himself as Dampier's mate--had published an account of the
cruise, in which Dampier was belittled and held up to ridicule.

Dampier immediately set to work and wrote a vindication of his conduct
during the cruise--an angry and incoherent tirade, which probably
convinced no one, and was answered shortly afterwards by one George
Welbe, one of his former officers, in a pamphlet which was also a wordy
and violent assault; but the impression finally left upon the mind of
the reader is that Dampier was a very fine navigator and amateur
scientist, but a very bad commander. We shall hear of him again very
shortly, in a more subordinate capacity.

In connection with this luckless cruise, there is one incident of
considerable interest, which should not be overlooked. The _Cinque
Ports_ carried as sailing master one Alexander Selkirk, of Scotch
extraction. Obviously, he must have been a seaman of considerable
experience and capacity, to have been selected for this post; and
presumably he would have knowledge of the navigation of the South Seas.
He had, in fact, quitted his home in Scotland at the age of eighteen,
and been absent for six years, during part of which time he is believed
to have been with the buccaneers.

When Captain Pickering died Selkirk viewed with great dissatisfaction
the prospect of sailing under his successor, Stradling, whom he hated;
and on the return of the _Cinque Ports_ to Juan Fernandez, after parting
from Dampier, he took occasion of a violent quarrel with Stradling to
carry out a mad project which he had formed some time previously--to
desert the vessel and fend for himself on this or some other island.

Stradling took him at his word, and, when on the point of sailing,
conveyed Selkirk, with all his traps, on shore and "dumped" him on the
beach.

The Scotchman shook hands with his shipmates very cheerfully, wishing
them luck, while Stradling, apprehensive of more desertions, kept
calling to them to return to the boat, which they did.

As the boat pulled away, and Selkirk realised that he was to be left
there, absolutely severed from all intercourse with mankind, probably
for years, possibly until death, a sudden terrible revulsion of feeling
rushed upon him, and he ran down the beach, wading into the sea, with
outstretched hands imploring them to return and take him on board.

Stradling only mocked him; told him his conduct in asking to be landed
was rank mutiny, and that his present situation was a very suitable one
for such a fellow, as he would at least not be able to affect others by
his bad example; and so rowed away and left him: and it was nearly four
and a half years later that he was rescued, by the crew of another
English privateer, as we shall see.

The special interest attached to this incident lies, of course, in the
fact that, had Stradling not hardened his heart and rowed away, that
wonderful book "Robinson Crusoe," the delight of our early years, would
in all probability never have been written--or at least the principal
portion, dealing with his life on the island, would not have been
written; for it was undoubtedly the story of Alexander Selkirk's long,
solitary sojourn on Juan Fernandez which gave Daniel Defoe the idea,
though there is no reason to suppose that he obtained any details from
Selkirk himself; indeed, the story of Robinson Crusoe and his adventures
is, without doubt, pure romance. So there we may leave Alexander Selkirk
for the present: a miserable man enough at first, we may well imagine.



CHAPTER IV

WOODES ROGERS


Captain Woodes Rogers was a very different stamp of man from Dampier,
and far better adapted by nature for the command of a privateering
expedition.

His father was a Bristol man, a sea-captain, and subsequently resided at
Poole; Woodes Rogers the younger was probably born at Bristol, about the
year 1678. Of his early life we know nothing in detail, but he was
evidently brought up as a seaman and attained a good position, for in
the year 1708 he proposed to some merchants of Bristol that they should
fit out a couple of privateers for a voyage to the South Seas. Whether
he put any money in the venture we do not know, but he held strong views
as to the folly of permitting the French and Spaniards to have it all
their own way in that part of the world, and put his case to such good
purpose that the necessary funds were speedily forthcoming. We are told,
in Seyer's "Memoirs of Bristol," that among the gentlemen who financed
the business, and to the survivors of whom, sixteen in number, Rogers
dedicates his account of the cruise, there were several Quakers: a
remarkable statement which, if true, would appear to indicate that the
privateering fever, with huge gains in prospect, was too much for the
principles even of the Society of Friends.

Like many another sailor who has sat down to write an account of his
doings, Rogers commences by disclaiming any pretensions to literary
skill: "I had not time, were it my talent, to polish the stile; nor do I
think it necessary for a mariner's journal." Nevertheless, the account
is written in pleasing fashion, occasionally very quaint in phraseology,
and has the merit also--which is decidedly lacking in some writings
whereof great parade is made of "polishing the stile"--of being very
lucid.

The two vessels, named the _Duke_, of 320 tons, 30 guns, and 117 men,
and the _Duchess_, of 260 tons, 26 guns, and 108 men, sailed from King
Road, near Bristol, on August 2nd, 1708, for Cork, where Rogers hoped to
complete his crews, or exchange some of the very mixed company for more
efficient seamen, having not more than twenty such on board, while the
_Duchess_ was very little better off; so they were fortunate in not
meeting with an enemy of any force on the way to Ireland; indeed, they
appear to have sailed from Bristol in the greatest disorder--the rigging
slack, ships out of trim, decks lumbered up, stores badly stowed, and so
on, which must have gone greatly against the grain with a good seaman
like Rogers. It is not difficult to imagine, however, the causes which
led to such hurried departure: merchants who had been putting their
hands in their pockets pretty freely for some months would be anxious
to see the two ships at sea, commencing to rake in the spoil. Even the
Quakers, perhaps, were impatient over the matter; and Rogers was
probably told that it was time he was off.

However, he made good use of the time at Cork, and reconstituted his
crews, if not entirely to his liking, at least with considerable
improvement.

The owners, with, as we may conclude, the assistance of Rogers, had
drawn up the constitution of a council, by which the progress of the
voyage was to be determined, and all questions and disputes were to be
settled. This is a very sensible document, providing for all probable
contingencies; and, in the event of an equality of votes upon any
matter, the casting vote was to be given by Thomas Dover, Rogers's
second in command, who was appointed president of the council; this
brings us to the subject of the officers of the two ships, and we find
some very improbable persons included among them.

In the first place, Thomas Dover, second captain, president of the
council, and captain of the Marines, appears to have been neither a
sailor nor soldier, but a doctor.[5] There were three lieutenants and
three mates, but John Ballet, third mate, was "designed surgeon if
occasion arose; he had been Captain Dampier's doctor, in his last
unfortunate voyage round the world." Samuel Hopkins, a kinsman of
Dover's, and an apothecary, was to act as Dover's lieutenant in case of
landing a party. Then there was John Vigor, a "Reformado," to act as
Dover's ensign if landed; while George Underwood and John Parker, _two
young lawyers_, were designed to act as midshipmen. The whole
arrangement has a savour of Gilbert and Sullivan, or Lewis Carroll,
about it; one is irresistibly reminded of the "Hunting of the Snark,"
where the captain was a bellman, and had for his crew a butcher, a
billiard-marker, and a beaver!

However, Rogers and his merry men were not for hunting any such shadowy
affair as a "Snark"; they meant business, and the list of sub-officers
includes further two midshipmen, coxswain of the pinnace, surgeon,
surgeon's mate, and assistant--they were well off in the medical
branch--gunner, carpenter, with mate and three assistants; boatswain and
mate; cooper, four quarter-masters, ship's steward, sailmaker, armourer,
ship's corporal (who was also cook to the officers), and ship's cook.

Also, as sailing-master and pilot for the South Seas, William Dampier
sailed under Rogers in the _Duke_, probably the best man who could have
been found for the post; he was a member of the council, and was no
doubt a very valuable addition to the staff.

The _Duchess_, commanded by Captain Stephen Courtney, was similarly
officered, the second lieutenant being John Rogers, a brother of Woodes
Rogers, some ten years his junior.

"Most of us," says Rogers, "the chief officers, embraced this trip of
privateering round the world, to retrieve the losses we had sustained by
the enemy. Our complement of sailors in both ships was 333, of which
alone one-third were foreigners from most nations; several of her
Majesty's subjects on board were tinkers, tailors, haymakers, pedlars,
fiddlers, etc., one negro, and about ten boys. With this mixed gang we
hoped to be well manned, as soon as they had learnt the use of arms, and
got their sea-legs, which we doubted not soon to teach them, and bring
them to discipline." Very hopeful!

One curious characteristic common to this mixed crew was that, as Rogers
puts it, they "were continually marrying whilst we staid at Cork, though
they expected to sail immediately. Among others there was a Dane coupled
by a Romish priest to an Irish woman, without understanding a word of
each other's language, so that they were forced to use an interpreter;
yet I perceived this pair seemed more afflicted at separation than any
of the rest. The fellow continued melancholy for several days after we
were at sea. The rest, understanding each other, drank their cans of
flip till the last minute, concluded with a health to our good voyage
and their happy meeting, and then parted unconcerned."

This "continual marrying" constitutes, in truth, a tribute to the
character of Irish women; had it been at Wapping there would have been,
it is to be feared, but little question of marrying.

Even when they had restowed their holds and set up the rigging, Rogers
is somewhat disheartened over the condition of the two ships: "Our holds
are full of provisions; our cables, a great deal of bread, and
water-casks between decks: and 183 men aboard the _Duke_, with 151
aboard the _Duchess_: so that we are very much crowded and pestered
ships, not fit to engage an enemy without throwing provision and store
overboard."

However, they sailed on September 1st, in company with the _Hastings_
man-of-war and some other vessels, from whom they parted on the 6th,
bound for Madeira; and a few days later there was trouble with the
undisciplined crew, who had as yet found neither their sea-legs nor
their manners.

Rogers had overhauled a vessel, sailing under Swedish colours; some of
her crew, who were more or less drunk, had declared that she carried
gunpowder and cables, so she was detained, in spite of the captain's
remonstrances. However, no sign of any contraband goods could be
discovered, so Rogers very properly let her go; upon which his men, who
had no notion of going a-privateering without the joys of plunder,
assumed a mutinous attitude, the boatswain at their head--all the
mutineers were Englishmen. One man was flogged, ten were put in irons,
and with the remainder Rogers reasoned, admitting, however, that he was
forced to wink at the conduct of some. Next day a seaman came aft, "with
near half the ship's company of sailors following him, and demanded the
boatswain out of irons. I desired him to speak with me by himself on the
quarter-deck, which he did, where the officers assisted me, seized him
[_i.e._ tied him up], and made one of his chief comrades whip him. This
method I thought best for breaking any unlawful friendship among
themselves; which, with different correction to other offenders, allayed
the tumult, so that now they begin to submit quietly, and those in irons
beg pardon and promise amendment."

An excellent method of "breaking friendship," unlawful or otherwise!

On September 18th, in sight of Teneriffe, a small Spanish vessel was
captured, belonging to Orotava, a port of Teneriffe.

"Amongst the prisoners were four friars, and one of them the Padre
Guardian for the island Forteventura, a good, honest old fellow. We made
him heartily merry, drinking King Charles III.'s health; but the rest
were of the wrong sort."

The quarrels and intrigues of other nations brought a good deal of
profit to privateersmen; the War of the Spanish Succession was then
still in progress, the Grand Alliance striving to place the Archduke
Charles of Austria on the Spanish throne, while others--"the wrong sort"
from Rogers's point of view--upheld the cause of Philip, grandson of
Louis XIV. of France; later on, as we shall see, the Austrian Succession
was the occasion of some more profitable privateering.

Rogers and his colleagues now found themselves involved, to their
surprise, in a dispute with their own countrymen over their capture,
the Vice-Consul and three merchants sending off a letter to say that it
had been agreed between Queen Anne and the Kings of Spain and France,
that vessels trading to the Canaries were to be exempt from
interference, and that unless the prize were released, Mr. Vanbrugh,
owners' agent on board the _Duke_, who had gone on shore, would be
detained.

Rogers was not to be so easily hoodwinked; he immediately detected the
self-interest which prompted a disingenuous representation, and insisted
that the prize should be ransomed; the cargo of wine and brandy he
designed for his own ships; and he finished his letter as follows: "We
are apprehensive you are obliged to give us this advice to gratify the
Spaniards": which hit the nail very fairly on the head. Still pressed by
the Spaniards, the Consul and his friends persisted; upon which Rogers
told them that, had it not been for their agent being on shore, they
would not have remained a moment to discuss the matter; but that now
they would remain longer among the islands, in order to make reprisals,
and that the Consul and his English and Spanish friends might expect a
visit from their guns at eight o'clock the next morning.

Accordingly, at that hour the two English privateers stood close in
shore; but the guns were not needed, for a boat put off immediately with
one of the merchants and Mr. Vanbrugh, bringing the ransom "in
kind"--wine, grapes, hogs, and other accessories.

And so they proceeded on their voyage; and a few days later they crossed
the tropic of Cancer, which appears to have been made the occasion, in
this instance, of some fun with those who had not come so far south
before. Usually it is the crossing of the Equator which is selected as
the occasion of these delights.

Rogers's tinkers, tailors, pedlars, fiddlers, etc., had a lively time of
it. "The manner of doing it was by a rope through a block from the
mainyard, to hoist 'em above half-way up to the yard, and let 'em fall
at once into the water; having a stick across through their legs, and
well fastened to the rope, that they might not be surprised and let go
their hold. This proved of great use to our fresh-water sailors, to
recover the colour of their skins, which were grown very black and
nasty."

Exemption could be purchased at the cost of half-a-crown, the whole
amount to be expended on an entertainment for all hands on their return
to England. Some of the crew--especially the Dutchmen--begged that they
might be ducked ten or twelve times--on the principle that, if immunity
could be paid for, an excess of dipping should logically entitle them to
a larger share of the pool! Sailors are queer creatures.

After the capture of the small Spanish craft, Rogers found it advisable
to lay down some rules, admitting the principle of plunder; he foresaw
incessant trouble and probable mutiny in the future, if the right of the
crew to the immediate distribution of a certain amount of spoil was not
recognised. It was quite irregular, and had not been contemplated by the
owners. However, the decision as to what should constitute plunder was,
with the consent of the men, left to the senior officers and agents, so
there was a certain safeguard against abuse.

The next place of call was the Cape Verde Islands, where they anchored
in the harbour of St. Vincent; here they watered with some difficulty,
on account of the sea; and they lost one of their crew, one Joseph
Alexander, who, by reason of his being a good linguist, was sent in a
boat to the Governor at St. Antonio, with a letter, and was left behind
to negotiate for supplies. However, he appears to have found the
prospect of life in the Cape Verde Islands more promising than
privateering. On October 5th "our boat went to St. Antonio to see for
our linguist, according to appointment"; on the 6th "our boat returned
with nothing but limes and tobacco, and no news of our linguist"; again
on the 7th the boat was sent in quest of "our linguist"--and by this
time they must have been getting pretty tired of his antics; on the 8th
"no news of our linguist"; so, as the Trade-wind blew fresh, they
concluded to leave him to practise his linguistic and other
accomplishments on shore, and made sail for the coast of Brazil, Captain
Rogers summing up the situation in a marginal note: "Our linguist
deserts."

The captains frequently exchanged visits, and even had little
dinner-parties on board each other's ships, in mid-ocean, when it was
held to be necessary to call a council; Rogers was very scrupulous about
having everything done in order, and properly recorded. It may appear
strange that there should be such frequent communication, especially
when a council or dinner-party is recorded together with the remark,
"fresh breeze, with heavy sea," and so on; but such boating exploits
were the fashion in those days, and very much later. When Nelson was
bound for the Baltic, as second in command under Sir Hyde Parker, with
whom he was never upon cordial terms, he set his men fishing for turbot
on the Doggerbank, and, having caught one, despatched it in a boat to
his chief, in spite of a heavy sea and approaching darkness, with a
polite note; the mission was accomplished without mishap, and the turbot
is said to have brought about a better understanding between the
Admirals. Such measures of policy were not, however, very much in
Nelson's line. The point is that the seamen of those times must have
been very masterly boatmen, for the lowering and hoisting of a boat in a
heavy sea is a very ticklish process, in which a small blunder may mean
disaster; yet it was constantly done, just for a friendly visit, and we
hear of no fatalities arising therefrom.

On October 22nd we hear of more trouble from insubordination. Mr. Page,
second mate of the _Duchess_, refusing to accompany Cook, who was
Courtney's second in command, on board the _Duke_, "occasioned Captain
Cook, being the superior officer on board, to strike him, whereupon Page
struck him again, and several blows passed; but at last Page was forced
into the boat, and brought on board of us. And Captain Cook and others
telling us what mutiny had passed, we ordered Page on the forecastle
into the bilboes" (leg-irons sliding upon a long iron bar). Page,
however, evaded his captors by a ruse and jumped overboard to swim back
to his own ship--a dangerous business, somewhere near the Equator, for
there is always the chance of a shark. But this foolish attempt availed
him little: he was brought back, flogged, and put in irons; and he found
a week of this kind of thing sufficient, submitting himself humbly and
promising amendment. Captain Rogers was already beginning to realise
that the lot of a privateer commander, unless he is willing, as so many
were, to degenerate into a mere filibuster, is not a happy one.

Possibly it was this conviction--or maybe that he found the Southern
Hemisphere a more devotional environment than the Northern--which
occasioned the following entry: "At five last night we were on the
Equinoctial [the Equator].... This day we began to read prayers in both
ships mornings or evenings, as opportunity would permit, according to
the Church of England, designing to continue it the term of the voyage."

Passing by the small island of Trinidad, on the night of November 13th,
the two ships lay to, Rogers believing they were near land: and sure
enough, at daybreak they sighted the coast of Brazil, and a few days
later anchored at Isle Grande, just to the southward of Rio Janeiro.

Here they were very busy--heeling both vessels to clean the bottoms, and
executing sundry repairs aloft--all of which was done under a broiling
sun, besides getting in a plentiful supply of wood and water, in so
short a space of time that we must conclude that Captain Rogers and
Captain Courtney had under them both well-disciplined and willing crews;
no man-of-war's men could have done better.

Here also Mr. Carleton Vanbrugh, owner's agent on board the _Duke_, got
into trouble for assuming executive command. A boat being manned to
overhaul a passing canoe, he shoved off, without any orders, pursued and
fired into the canoe, killing an Indian. This officiousness and
presumption obtained for him a wigging from Captain Rogers, who also
brought the matter before the council: "I thought it a fit time now to
resent ignorant and wilful actions publicly, and to show the vanity and
mischief of 'em, rather than to delay or excuse such proceedings; which
would have made the distemper too prevalent, and brought all to
remediless confusion, had we indulged conceited persons with a liberty
of hazarding the fairest opportunities of success."

Mr. Vanbrugh was accordingly "logged" as being censured by the council,
and was subsequently transferred to the _Duchess_, his opposite number
there, William Bath, taking his place.

On December 3rd they sailed from Isle Grande and made their way down the
coast of South America towards Cape Horn, chasing but losing a large
French ship on the 26th. On New Year's Day there was a large tub of hot
punch on the quarter-deck, of which every man had over a pint to drink
the health of the owners and absent friends, a happy New Year, a good
voyage, and a safe return. The _Duke_ bore down close to her consort,
and there, rolling and lurching at close quarters in the big seas, they
exchanged cheers and good wishes.

On January 5th it came on to blow hard, with a heavy sea, and while the
mainyard was being lowered on board the _Duchess_ the sail got aback,
and a great portion of it bagged in the water on the lee side, the
"lift" on that side having given way. This was rather a serious
business, in so heavy a sea; they were obliged to put the ship before
the wind for a time, and the sea "broke in the cabin windows, and over
their stern, filling their steerage and waist, and had like to have
spoiled several men; but, God be thanked, all was otherwise indifferent
well with 'em, only they were intolerably cold, and everything wet."
Next day Rogers found them "in a very orderly pickle, with all their
clothes drying, the ship and rigging covered with them from the deck to
the maintop."

Though it was high summer in these southern latitudes, they experienced
no genial warmth, only gales of wind, with an immense sea; they attained
the latitude of 61.53 South, which, as Rogers remarks, was probably the
furthest south reached at that time; and so they fought round the Horn,
and before the end of January we find the entry: "This is an excellent
climate."

This was in latitude 36.36 South, and they were looking forward
anxiously to sighting the island of Juan Fernandez. Many of the men had
suffered greatly from cold and exposure, some were down with scurvy, and
a rest in port, with fresh vegetables and sweet water, was very
necessary.

Juan Fernandez was not in those days accurately placed on the chart, and
all eyes no doubt were turned to William Dampier to bring them there;
which he did on January 31st, though they appear to have had a narrow
escape of missing it, for when they sighted land it bore W.S.W., so that
they had already somewhat overshot it. When we consider the very
inadequate means which these men possessed for navigating thousands of
leagues of trackless ocean, and making land which was very inefficiently
charted, we can only marvel at their success. The quadrant of those days
was a very rough affair, the compass was not perfect in construction,
neither were its vagaries understood as they are at the present day--for
the compass, emblem of faithfulness and constancy, is, alas! a most
capricious and inconstant friend; only we understand it nowadays, and
realise that it never--or hardly ever--points due north. Then
chronometers, sufficiently reliable to give correct longitude, were not
constructed until some sixty years later, when the earliest maker
contrived to turn out, to his credit, a marvellously good one. This was
John Harrison, and very scurvily he was treated by the authorities, only
receiving the full reward which was offered upon the intervention of
King George III. on his behalf.

Well, here was Juan Fernandez, and very welcome was the sight of the
high land, some five-and-twenty miles distant; but they were becalmed,
and got but little nearer for twenty-four hours. Next day, in the
afternoon, Rogers consented, rather against his better judgment, to
Dover taking a boat in, the land being then at least twelve miles
distant. At dark, a bright light was observed on shore, and the boat
returned at 2 a.m., Dover having been afraid to land, not knowing what
the light could mean.

The general idea was that there were French ships at anchor, and all was
prepared for action: "We must either fight 'em or want water, etc."

These desperate measures were not, however, necessary; sailing along the
land the following day, the two bays, which afford good anchorage, were
found to be empty. The yawl was sent in at noon, and after some hours
the pinnace was despatched to see what had become of her; for it was
feared that the Spaniards might be in possession.

Presently, however, the pinnace arrived, and, as she approached, it was
seen that she carried a passenger--a most fantastic and picturesque
person, attired in obviously home-made garments of goatskin.

This, of course, was Alexander Selkirk. On the afternoon of January
31st, sweeping the horizon, as he did so constantly, from his look-out,
he had seen the two sails in the offing. As they gradually rose, his
experienced eye told him that they were English; dusk was settling down,
and they were still a long way off--would they pass by?

Reasonably contented as he had latterly been in his solitude--broken in
upon twice by Spaniards, who upon one occasion saw and chased him,
forcing him to take refuge in a tree--the sight of these two English
ships filled him with a frantic longing to grasp the hand of a
countryman, to hear and speak once more his native language. Mad with
apprehension lest this joy should be torn, as it were, from his very
grasp, he hastily collected materials, and, as darkness set in, lit a
huge bonfire. He spent a couple of sleepless nights, keeping up his
fire, and preparing some goat's-meat for guests who, he fondly hoped,
would appear on the following day.

He saw the boat approaching, and, taking a stick with a rude flag
attached, ran down to the beach--they saw him--they shouted to him to
point out a good landing place. In a transport of joy at the sound of
their voices, he ran round with incredible swiftness, waving them with
his flag to follow him.

When they landed he could only embrace them; his emotion was too deep,
his speech too rusty--no words could he find; while they, on their part,
were mute with surprise at his wild and uncouth appearance.

Recovering themselves at length, Selkirk entertained them as best he
could with some of the goat's-flesh which he had prepared, and while
they ate he gave them some account of his sojourn and adventures on the
island.

There is but little in common with De Foe's description of Robinson
Crusoe's doings, excepting, of course, the expedients adopted for
obtaining food, which could scarcely have been different.

There was no "man Friday," no mysterious footprint in the sand, no
encounter with savages. There was, however, a narrow escape, already
alluded to, of capture by Spanish sailors; a fate to which Selkirk
decided that he preferred his solitary existence, for the Spaniards
would either have ruthlessly murdered him or sold him as a slave to
work in their mines. So when he found that he had incautiously exposed
himself while reconnoitring, he ran for the woods, the Spaniards in
chase; but he had acquired such fleetness of foot in catching the goats
that they had no chance, and, sitting aloft in a large tree, he saw them
below, completely at fault. They helped themselves to some of the goats,
and retired.

In describing his adventures and emotions, Selkirk attributed his
eventual contentment in his solitude to his religious training. He
appears to have possessed in full measure the deep, emotional religious
temperament of the Scots, and this in all probability saved his reason,
and certainly deterred him from suicide, which at one time presented
itself as the only possible release from acute mental suffering. He used
to recite his prayers and sing familiar hymns aloud, and it is easy to
understand what an immense solace such exercises were to him.

Learning from Dover and his companions that William Dampier was with the
expedition, Selkirk demurred at once to going on board. Not that he had
any personal quarrel with Dampier, but he had a most vivid recollection
of the hopeless mismanagement of that cruise under his command; of the
futile delays, half-fought actions, hastily abandoned plans which
promised some measure of success; and he declined to enlist again under
such an incompetent chief. This extreme reluctance on Selkirk's part to
sail again under the famous navigator constitutes a very strong
indictment against Dampier as commander of a privateer; nothing,
indeed, could well be stronger. When a man says practically, "I prefer
to remain alone on an island to sailing under him," there appears to be
little more to be said.

Understanding, however, that Dampier occupied a subordinate position as
pilot, he was ready enough to accompany his rescuers; and so presented
himself to the "admiring" gaze--using the term as it was frequently used
in those days--of the crew of the _Duke_.

Whatever Selkirk may have thought of Dampier, the latter, recognising
him as the former sailing-master of the _Cinque Ports_, gave him the
highest character, declaring that he was the best man on board
Stradling's ship; upon which Rogers at once engaged him as a mate on the
_Duke_, in which capacity he was, we are told, greatly respected, "as
well on account of his singular adventure as of his skill and good
conduct; for, having had his books with him, he had improved himself
much in navigation during his solitude."

Such application appears, under the circumstances, almost heroic; there
are probably few men so situated who would have had recourse to it.

It was long before Selkirk began to throw off the reserve which was the
natural outcome of his solitude, and it is said that the expression of
his face was fixed and sedate even after his return to England; nothing,
indeed, could ever efface the recollection of those years of absolute
loneliness, the grim lessons of self-restraint, endurance, and
resignation, so hardly learned.

[Footnote 5: The reader may be interested to learn that this Thomas
Dover was the inventor of the well-known preparation, "Dover's Powder."
After his adventures with Woodes Rogers he settled down as a regular
practitioner, and in the year 1733 he published a book entitled, "The
Ancient Physician's Legacy to his Country," in which the recipe for
Dover's Powder appeared; it was afterwards altered, but retained the
name. Dover died in 1742.]



CHAPTER V

WOODES ROGERS--_continued_


Rogers and his companions made no long stay at Juan Fernandez. Having
now arrived upon their cruising ground, all were eager to be at work,
and on February 14th they were once more under way, the banished
Vanbrugh being received on board the _Duke_ again. "I hope for the
best," says Captain Rogers doubtfully.

On the 17th a committee-meeting was held at sea, in order to appoint
responsible persons for the custody of "plunder." There was evidently
considerable anxiety among the superior officers on this head. Rogers
and Courtney, and probably most of the officers, were perfectly straight
and aboveboard; but no certainty could be felt about any one else, so
the following plan was adopted: Four persons were selected by the
officers and men of the _Duke_, two of whom were to act on board the
_Duchess_; similarly, four were selected on board the latter, two of
whom were to go on board the _Duke_; thus the interests of each ship's
company were equally safeguarded; and to these "plunder guardians" the
council addressed a letter containing detailed instructions for their
guidance. Every probable contingency was provided for, and the letter
concluded: "You are by no means to be rude in your office, but to do
everything as quiet and easy as possible; and to demean yourselves so
towards those employed by Captain Courtney (or Captain Rogers) that we
may have no manner of disturbance or complaint; still observing that you
be not over-awed, nor deceived of what is your due, in the behalf of the
officers and men."

A difficult and thankless office, one would say; nor did this device
avail to prevent discord later on.

They were now bound for the small island of Lobos, off the coast of
Peru, which was to be their starting-point for the conquest of
Guayaquil; and on March 16th they captured a small Spanish vessel, which
they took with them into Lobos on the following day. From the crew of
this vessel they heard some news about Captain Stradling, who, it
appears, lost the _Cinque Ports_ on the Peruvian coast, and with half a
dozen men, the only survivors, had been for upwards of four years in
prison at Lima, "where they lived much worse than our Governor Selkirk,
whom they left on the island Juan Fernandez."

This little bark Rogers resolved to convert into a privateer, as she
seemed to be a fast sailer; and the business was accomplished with
remarkable celerity. On March 18th she was hauled up dry, cleaned,
launched, and named the _Beginning_, Captain Edward Cooke being
appointed to command her. A spare topmast of the _Duke_ was fitted as a
mast, and a spare mizzen-topsail altered as a sail for her. By the
evening of the 19th she was rigged, had four swivel-guns mounted, and a
deck nearly completed; on the 20th she was manned and victualled, and
sailed out of the harbour, exchanging cheers with the _Duke_, to join
the _Duchess_ cruising outside: a very smart piece of work.

Another small prize was renamed the _Increase_, and converted into a
hospital-ship, all the sick, with a doctor from each ship, being sent on
board her; Alexander Selkirk in command.

Rogers makes merry over the exploit of one of his officers who,
mistaking turkey buzzards--the "John Crow" bird of the West Indies--for
turkeys, landed in great haste with his gun, jumping into the water
before the boat touched ground in his eagerness, and let drive,
"browning" a group of them; but he was grievously disappointed when he
came to pick up his "bag"--the "John Crow" is not a sweet-smelling bird.

This impetuous sportsman was, perhaps, that difficult person Mr.
Carleton Vanbrugh: for we learn later that, having threatened to shoot
one of the men for refusing to carry some carrion crows he had shot, and
having abused Captain Dover, his name was struck off the committee.

The Spanish prisoners had some attractive stories to tell of possible
prizes--it appears somewhat unsportsmanlike on their part, and one is
disposed to wonder whether Rogers or his men put any pressure on
them--particularly of a stout ship from Lima, and a French-built ship
from Panama, richly laden, with a bishop on board.

These two vessels were captured, also a smaller one; but the Panama ship
was not taken without some misadventure, for the two ships' pinnaces
attacking her insufficiently armed--despising the foe, a common British
failing, for which we have often paid dearly--were repulsed with loss;
and John Rogers, a fine young fellow of one-and-twenty, was killed. He
had no business there, as a matter of fact; but, happening to be on
board his brother's ship to assist in preparations for the land
expedition, he jumped into the boat--and so perished.[6]

However, the ship was taken next day, without resistance; but the bishop
had been put ashore: a disappointment, no doubt, as he would probably
represent a round sum for his ransom--the only use a privateer could
find for a prelate!

And now for Guayaquil, from the capture and ransom of which great gains
were expected; but further disappointment was in store for Captain
Rogers and his companions.

In the first place, upon landing at Puna, a small town upon an island at
the entrance of the Gulf of Guayaquil, an Indian contrived to elude them
and give the alarm, so that the surprise was not complete. They captured
the Lieutenant-Governor, however, who cunningly assured them that,
having caught him, there would be nobody who could give the alarm at
Guayaquil: surely an obviously futile deduction. They destroyed all the
canoes, etc., which they could find; but, by the time they had made
their prisoners, we may be sure that one or two had already made good
their escape to the mainland; and later developments proved that this
must have occurred.

Moreover, they discovered among the papers of the Lieutenant-Governor a
disquieting document: no less than a warning against a squadron which
was said to be coming, under the pilotage of Captain Dampier--who, it
will be recollected, had plundered Puna some years previously. The force
of the squadron was greatly exaggerated; but there was the warning, a
copy of which had been sent from Lima to all the ports.

However, it was impossible to relinquish the attack, and accordingly,
after some delays, the boats, with 110 men, arrived off the town of
Guayaquil about midnight on April 22nd. As they approached they saw a
bonfire on an adjoining eminence, and lights in the town, and, rowing up
abreast of it, there was a sudden eruption of lights, and every
indication that the townspeople, instead of being quietly a-bed, were
very wide awake. The Indian pilot negatived the notion that this was
some saint's-day celebration, and thought that "it must be an alarm";
very possibly the wily pilot had something to do with it! While they lay
off they heard a Spaniard shouting that Puna was taken, and the enemy
was coming up the river. Then the bells commenced clanging, muskets and
guns were fired off, and it became obvious that, if they were to attack,
it must be in the face of the fullest resistance. What was to be done?

Rogers, not easily daunted, gave it as his opinion that the alarm was
only just given, and preparations would not be complete. He was all for
going on, but the others were not; and Captain Dampier being asked what
the buccaneers would do under such circumstances, replied at once that
"they never attacked any large place after it was alarmed." The
buccaneers were not such fire-eaters as their own accounts and boys'
books of adventure would have us believe: there was a strong spice of
prudence in their temperament.

Cautious counsels prevailing, the boats dropped down-stream again, about
three miles below the town, where the two small barks, prizes attached
to the _Duke_ and _Duchess_, arrived during the day, having apparently
been safely piloted up by Indians--with pistols at their heads possibly.

When the flood-tide made in the afternoon, Captain Rogers once more
ordered an advance on the town, but Dover again dissuaded him, and they
held a council of war in a boat made fast astern of one of the barks, so
as to avoid eavesdroppers.

Dover advised sending a trumpeter with a flag of truce, and certain
proposals as to trading, to be enforced by hostages. These half-hearted
measures found no favour with the majority, but Rogers gave way and
eventually they sent two of their prisoners--the lieutenant from Puna,
and the captain of the French-built ship--who presently came back, and
were followed by the Corregidor, to treat for the ransom of the town.

However, all the talk came to nothing. The Spaniards evidently imagined
that the English were a little bit shy about attacking, and so kept
shilly-shallying about the terms, perhaps hoping for reinforcements;
until at length Rogers lost patience, landed his men and guns, and drove
the enemy from the near houses, the barks firing over their heads. It
was a very spirited attack, and deserved success.

Opening up the streets, they found four guns facing them in front of the
church; but the supporting cavalry fled at sight of the English sailors,
and Rogers, calling upon his men, immediately took the guns, and turned
them on the retreating foe.

In little more than half an hour the town was their own; and, had it not
been for the cautious advice of Dover and others, they would have
achieved the same result on the first night, before the treasure was
carried away. As it was, though they broke open every church and
store-house, etc., they found but little of any value; jars of wine and
brandy were, however, very plentiful.

Two of the officers, Mr. Connely, and Mr. Selkirk, "the late Governor of
Juan Fernandez," with a party of men, paid a profitable visit to some
houses up the river, where they found "above a dozen handsome, genteel
young women, well dressed, where our men got several gold chains and
earrings, but were otherwise so civil to them that the ladies offered
to dress them victuals, and brought them a cask of good liquor." The
seamen, however, quickly suspected that the ladies had chains and other
trinkets disposed under their clothing, "and by their linguist modestly
desired the gentlewomen to take 'em off and surrender 'em. This I
mention as a proof of our sailors' modesty." Well, well; their "modesty"
was rewarded by plunder to the tune of about £1,000; but no doubt their
method of commandeering it was more polite than the frightened Spanish
ladies anticipated.

In the church Rogers himself picked up the Corregidor's gold-headed
cane, and also a captain's with a silver head; from which he concludes
that these gentlemen quitted the church in a hurry.

It would have been well if Rogers and his men had seen a little less of
the church, for buried under it, and immediately outside, were the
putrefying corpses of hundreds of the victims of a recent malignant
epidemic.

An agreement was drawn up by which the town was to be ransomed by the
payment of 30,000 pieces of eight within six days--equivalent to £6,750,
reckoning the piece of eight at four shillings and sixpence[7]--Rogers
holding two hostages meanwhile; but the Spaniards' _mañana_ proved too
much for them, and the amount paid fell far short of this.

On April 27th they marched down to the boats with colours flying.
Captain Rogers, bringing up the rear with a few men, "picked up pistols,
cutlasses, and pole-axes, which showed that our men were grown very
careless, weak, and weary of being soldiers, and that it was time to be
gone from hence."

John Gabriel, a Dutchman, was missing, but he returned on the following
day; it transpired that he had lain asleep, drunk, in a house, and the
"honest man," who was probably his involuntary host, called in some
neighbours, who removed the Dutchman's weapons before cautiously
arousing him; and, when he was sufficiently wide awake to comprehend the
situation, restored his arms and advised him to go on board his ship:
really, a very honest man, this Spanish American. Rogers declares that
this was the only case of drunkenness among his men after they took
possession: a fact which speaks volumes for the discipline.

And so, on the 28th, they weighed anchor and dropped down to Puna; "and
at parting made what noise we could with our drums, trumpets, and guns,
and thus took our leave of the Spaniards very cheerfully, but not half
so well pleased as we should have been had we taken 'em by surprise; for
I was well assured, from all hands, that at least we should then have
got above 200,000 pieces of eight in money (£45,000), wrought and
unwrought gold and silver, besides jewels, etc."

And now they were to experience some hard times. Sailing for the
Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Peru, they had not been many days
out when deadly sickness broke out among the men who had been on shore
at Guayaquil. On the two ships, near one hundred and fifty were down at
one time; there were a good many deaths, and the medicine-chests were
not adequate to this unexpected demand. Worse than all, when they
reached the Galapagos Islands they could find no water there. Again and
again they sent their boats in, for it was said that upon one island, at
least, there was abundance of excellent water--upon the authority of one
Davis, a buccaneer, who frequented it twenty years previously: which
induces Captain Rogers to discourse upon the unreliability of such
adventurers' reports; but that did not help the thirsty, fever-stricken
men.

Then one of the barks, in command of Mr. Hatley, was missing, which was
another source of anxiety. They were compelled at length to give him up
as lost, and sailed over to the island of Gorgona, where there was
abundance of water.

Here they refitted the _Havre de Grace_--the French-built prize, which
should have contained a bishop--and renamed her the _Marquis_; and here
also they careened and cleaned the ships, and sent away their prisoners,
landing them on the coast of Peru.

The crew were getting impatient about the plunder obtained at Guayaquil,
and on July 29th it was resolved to overhaul and value it for
distribution, sending all that was adjudged to be eligible on board the
prize galleon. And there was, of course, trouble over this business: a
plot was discovered, a number of the men having signed a paper to the
effect that they would not accept any booty, nor move from the upper
deck, until they obtained justice. Their notions of "justice" not
tallying with those of their superiors, pistols and handcuffs came again
to the front, and the ringleaders were seized; but Rogers found himself
compelled to compromise, for there were too many men involved, and he
did not know what the crews of the other ships might do; so he made a
conciliatory speech, and conceded a demand that the civilians, who were
not seamen, should have their shares cut down--by which Mr. Carleton
Vanbrugh and two others suffered. "So that we hoped," says Captain
Rogers, "this difficult work would, with less danger than we dreaded, be
brought to a good conclusion.... Sailors usually exceed all measures
when left to themselves, and account it a privilege in privateers to do
themselves justice on these occasions, though in everything else I must
own they have been more obedient than any ships' crews engaged in the
like undertaking that ever I heard of. Yet we have not wanted sufficient
trial of our patience and industry in other things; so that, if any
sea-officer thinks himself endowed with these two virtues, let him
command in a privateer, and discharge his office well in a distant
voyage, and I'll engage he shall not want opportunities to improve, if
not to exhaust all his stock."

Two or three small prizes had been taken during these few weeks; but
after waiting about a long while for a rich Manila ship, it was at
length decided that they must give her up, and sail for Guam, in the
Ladrone Islands, and thence for the East Indies.

The day after this decision was recorded the Manila ship hove in sight;
two boats kept in touch with her all night, and at daybreak, it being
still calm, they "got out eight of our ship's oars, and rowed above an
hour; then there sprung up a small breeze. I ordered a large kettle of
chocolate to be made for our ship's company (having no spirituous liquor
to give them); then we went to prayers, and before we had concluded,
were disturbed by the enemy's firing at us."

They got up off their knees, and fought to some purpose by the space of
an hour and a half, when, the _Duchess_ coming up, the Spaniard hauled
down his colours.

This was a splendid haul: and they speedily learned that there was a
second ship, of even greater value, in the vicinity. In due course they
encountered her, but she proved too strong for them, being a brand-new
vessel, very well built, with 40 guns and 450 men.

Captain Rogers, who had hitherto come off unscathed from all their
adventures, was very roughly handled in these two engagements, getting a
ball through his jaw in the first and a splinter in his left foot in the
second, both very serious wounds.

While he was laid on his back, unable to speak or walk, he had to suffer
a further trial of patience in a dispute which arose about the command
of their valuable prize on the voyage to the East Indies and homeward, a
majority of the council electing Dover to the post. Now Dover, as we
have seen, was a doctor, not a seaman, and was absolutely incapable of
commanding and navigating a ship upon such a voyage; but, having a large
stake in the original venture, he claimed and obtained more
consideration than was his due. Probably it was on this account that the
gentlemen in Bristol had made him president of the council.

Poor Captain Rogers, chafing on his sick-bed, could only protest
vigorously in writing against this proposed arrangement, which was
obviously fraught with peril, and his officers supported him; the thing
was, in fact, a job, the majority truckling to Dover as a part-owner.
The utmost concession Rogers could gain was that two capable
officers--Stretton and Frye--should be appointed to act under Dover as
navigators and practical seamen, and that he should not interfere with
them in their duties as such; and under these conditions the prize--her
name conveniently abbreviated from _Nostra Seniora de la Incarnacion
Disenganio_, to _Batchelor_--was safely conveyed to the East Indies, and
thence to England, the cruise terminating on October 14th, 1711.

Captain Rogers recovered from his wounds, and made a good thing out of
his cruise. He was subsequently Governor of the Bahamas, where he
displayed great moral courage and resource under difficult
circumstances; and there he died, on July 16th, 1732.

In a volume entitled "Life aboard a British Privateer in the Reign of
Queen Ann"--a sort of running commentary upon Woodes Rogers's account of
his cruise--the author, Mr. R.C. Leslie, remarks, after the capture of
Guayaquil: "Though Woodes Rogers himself would now rank little above a
pious sort of pirate, it is curious to note from what he says here
[about the buccaneers] and again after visiting the Galapagos Islands,
one of the chief haunts of buccaneers, that he looked upon them as much
below him socially."

This is not fair to Rogers; he was entirely within his rights in sacking
and ransoming Guayaquil, as a subject of a Power at war with Spain, and
armed with a commission from his sovereign. It may not appear to be a
very high-class sort of business, but it was conducted in this instance
with great humanity, though not probably without some of the
"regrettable incidents" which are inseparable from warfare--to adapt the
saying of the French general at Balaclava, "Ce n'est pas magnifique,
mais c'est la guerre." Rogers does not deserve to be dubbed "pirate," or
classed with a gang of cut-throat ruffians like the buccaneers.

William Dampier apparently had no more sea-adventures; he died in London
in March 1715.

Alexander Selkirk, returning to Scotland early in 1712, was received by
his people with affectionate enthusiasm; but, after a time, he took to
living entirely alone, and sometimes broke out in a passion of regret
over his island home: "Oh, my beloved island! I wish I had never left
thee! I never was before the man I was on thee! I have not been such
since I left thee! and, I fear, never can be again!"

One day, in his solitary wanderings, he came across a young girl, seated
alone, tending a single cow; their meetings became frequent, and
eventually he persuaded her--Sophia Bruce was her name--to elope with
him to London. In 1718 he made a will in her favour, under her maiden
name, and it is said that, after his death, Sophia Selcraig (for this
was the original form of Selkirk's name), represented herself as his
widow, but could produce no evidence of marriage; so it is to be feared
that she remained Sophia Bruce to the end, while Selkirk married a widow
named Candis, to whom he left everything by another will.

He died, a mate on board the _Weymouth_ man-of-war, in 1721. A monument
was erected to his memory on Juan Fernandez, in 1868, by Commodore
Powell and the officers of the _Topaze_.

Thus, by a pure accident, he becomes a well-known character and a sort
of hero; certainly, he displayed some heroic attributes during his
sojourn on Juan Fernandez.

[Footnote 6: Why this young man is alluded to in the "Dictionary of
National Biography" and elsewhere as Thomas Rogers, I am at a loss to
understand. Woodes Rogers alludes to him as "my brother John," and a
manuscript note in one edition of Rogers's cruise tells us that "John,
son of Woodes Rogers and Frances his wife, was baptized Nov. 28th, 1688;
_vide_ Register of Poole, Coun. Dorset."]

[Footnote 7: The piece of eight was of equal value to a dollar, and was
probably worth more than this; forty years later it was valued at 6_s._
Rogers, however, in distributing plunder, placed it at 4_s._ 6_d._, so
the ransom money was probably reckoned upon that basis.]



CHAPTER VI

GEORGE SHELVOCKE AND JOHN CLIPPERTON


About seven years after Captain Woodes Rogers returned from his cruise
another privateering expedition to the South Seas was started by some
London merchants; but, as England was not then at war with Spain, it was
to sail under commission from the Emperor Charles VI.--which was quite a
legitimate proceeding.

The owners selected, as commanders of the two ships--named _Success_ and
_Speedwell_--George Shelvocke, who had formerly served in the Navy as
purser, and also probably as a lieutenant, and John Clipperton, who, it
will be remembered, was with William Dampier on his disastrous voyage,
and left his chief, with a number of men, to pursue his own fortunes. It
was deemed politic and complimentary to give the vessels other names,
and accordingly they were re-christened respectively _Prince Eugene_ and
_Staremberg_.

Shelvocke, who was to command the expedition, went over to Ostend in the
_Staremberg_ to receive the commission; but scarcely had it been drawn
up and signed, when war was declared by England against Spain, and the
owners then resolved to send the ships out under a commission from their
own sovereign; and, being greatly dissatisfied with Shelvocke's dilatory
and extravagant conduct while he was in Ostend, they gave Clipperton the
chief command, with Shelvocke under him, in the other ship, the vessels
now reverting to their English names.

Shelvocke, a jealous, passionate, and somewhat unscrupulous man, was
from the first at loggerheads with Clipperton and with several of his
own officers, who all appear to have hated him; he was not, in fact,
fitted for command, and all went wrong from the first. As his second
captain, Shelvocke had Simon Hatley, who was with Rogers, and had some
rough experiences, being captured and kept in prison at Lima for a
considerable time; and as Captain of the Marines one William Betagh, of
whom more anon.

After sailing from Plymouth on February 13th, 1719, the two ships got
into bad weather; all the liquor for both ships had, by some stupid
arrangement, been put on board Shelvocke's vessel, the _Speedwell_, and
Shelvocke says that when they were two days out he hailed Clipperton,
desiring him to send for his share, in order that the _Speedwell_ might
be better trimmed; however, nothing was done in the matter, and on the
night of the 19th they encountered a terrific storm, during which they
separated; but this should have made no difference, as they had agreed
to meet at the Canary Islands.

Shelvocke had, however, apparently determined from the first that he
would not sail under Clipperton--at least, that is the only conclusion
that can be arrived at, from the different accounts--and he took
advantage of this storm to carry out his design. In his account of the
voyage, he tries to make out that Clipperton deserted him; but, seeing
that he himself records the fact that he steered next morning to the
north-west, which certainly was not the course for the Canary Islands,
while Clipperton steered south by east, which was, approximately, there
would appear to be no question about the matter; in fact, Shelvocke
deliberately wasted time, while Clipperton, waiting for him in vain at
various rendezvous, proceeded on his voyage alone, and was in the South
Seas before Shelvocke had got anywhere near Cape Horn.

The owners had stipulated that the expedition should proceed upon the
lines of Rogers, and had provided each captain with a copy of his
journal; but there was no attempt made to carry out these instructions.
We find no regular journal kept, no council meetings, no proper command
over the crew; and, so far from emulating Rogers's scrupulous
observation of the law, which brought him into conflict with his crew,
Shelvocke did not refrain from acts of piracy when it suited him.

His first exploit was overhauling a Portuguese vessel off Cape Frio, in
Brazil; and there is a very marked difference between his account and
that of William Betagh, who published his own experiences some two years
after Shelvocke's book came out. Shelvocke says: "On Friday, June 5th,
in the afternoon, we saw a ship stemming with us, whom we spake with. I
ordered the five-oared boat to be hoisted out and sent Captain Hatley in
her to inquire what news on the coast, and gave him money to buy some
tobacco; for the _Success_ had got our stock on board of that (as well
as other things), which created a West-country famine amongst us. When
Hatley returned he told me she was a Portuguese from Rio Janeiro, and
bound to Pernambuco, that he could get no tobacco, and had therefore
laid out my money in unnecessary trifles, viz. _china cups and plates_,
_a little hand-nest of drawers, four or five pieces of china silk_,
_sweetmeats_, _bananas_, _plantains_, _and pumpkins_, etc. I gave him to
understand that I was not at all pleased with him for squandering away
my money in so silly a manner. He answered that he thought what he did
was for the best, that he had laid out his own money as well as mine,
and in his opinion to a good advantage, and that, to his knowledge, the
things he bought would sell for double the money they cost at the next
port we were going to. However, I assured him I did not like his
proceedings by any means."

Betagh's version of the incident is somewhat otherwise: "On June 5th,
1719, we met a Portuguese merchantman near Cape Frio. Our captain
ordered the Emperor's colours to be hoisted, which, without any
reflection, look the most thief-like of any worn by honest men; those of
his Imperial Majesty are a black spread-eagle in a yellow field, and
those of the pirates a yellow field and black human skeleton; which at a
small distance are not easily distinguished, especially in light gales
of wind. So he brings her to, by firing a musket thwart her forefoot,
sends aboard her the best busker (as he himself called Hatley), with a
boat's crew; each man armed with a cutlass and a case of pistols. The
Portuguese not only imagines his ship made prize, but thinks also how he
shall undergo that piece of discipline used by the merry blades in the
West Indies, called blooding and sweating.... So Don Pedro, to save his
bacon, took care to be very officious or yare-handed (as we say), with
his present. For no sooner was Hatley on his quarter-deck but the
Portuguese seamen began to hand into the boat the fruits and
refreshments they had on board, as plantains, bananas, lemons, oranges,
pomegranates, etc., three or four dozen boxes of marmalade and other
sweetmeats, some Dutch cheeses, and a large quantity of sugars. If they
had stopped here it was well enough, and might pass as a present; but
after this there came above a dozen pieces of silk, several of which
were flowered with gold and silver, worth at least three pounds a yard,
by retail; several dozen of china plates and basins, a small Japan
cabinet, not to mention what the men took.... Among other things, Hatley
brought the last and handsomest present of all, a purse of 300 moidores.
This convinced Shelvocke he was not deceived in calling Hatley the best
busker; that is, an impudent sharp fellow, who, perhaps to reingratiate
himself, did the devil's work, by whose laudable example our boat's crew
robbed the man of more than I can pretend to say; but I remember the
boat was pretty well laden with one trade or another, and none of the
officers dared so much as peep into her till all was out. While these
things were handing into the ship a sham kind of quarrel ensues between
our chieftains."

Betagh's view is corroborated by the fact that, when Shelvocke returned
to England, he was arraigned on a charge of piracy for this very
incident.

Dawdling down the coast, they spent nearly two months at St. Catherine's
Island, Brazil, where there was a great deal of trouble with the crew,
who drew up new articles for the regulation of the distribution of
spoil, which Shelvocke found himself eventually compelled to sign,
having previously, according to his own account, quelled a mutiny with
the assistance of M. de la Jonquière, the captain of a French-manned
ship which had been employed under Spanish colours--the whole of which
is a most improbable, nay, incredible story, and is ridiculed by Betagh.

On rounding Cape Horn, Shelvocke got very nearly as far south as Rogers
had done, and here there is mention of an incident which has a certain
interest. Says Shelvocke: "We all observed that we had not had the sight
of one fish of any kind, since we were come to the southward of the
Straits of Le Mair, nor one sea-bird, except a disconsolate black
albatross, who accompanied us for several days, hovering about us as if
he had lost himself; till Hatley, observing, in one of his melancholy
fits, that this bird was always hovering near us, imagined, from his
colour, that it might be some ill omen. That which, I suppose, induced
him the more to encourage his superstition, was the continued series of
contrary tempestuous winds which had oppressed us ever since we had got
into this sea. But be that as it would, he, after some fruitless
attempts, at length shot the albatross, not doubting, perhaps, that we
should have a fair wind after it."

Many years afterwards, in 1797, one English poet--Wordsworth--mentioned
to another--Coleridge--that he had been reading Shelvocke's account of
his voyage and related the albatross incident, which Coleridge
introduced into "The Ancient Mariner" in the following year. It does not
appear, however, that the crew of the _Speedwell_ expressed any
indignation at Hatley's act, or proceeded to any such extreme measure as
hanging the dead albatross--which was probably not recovered--round his
neck; and, whatever may have been the superstitious significance
attached to the continual hovering of the solitary bird about the
ship--not at all an unusual incident in that latitude--no change
resulted from its death, the boisterous winds and huge mile-long seas
continuing to buffet the ship without reprieve; and it was six weeks
before they got fairly round the Horn and sighted the coast of Chili.

Shelvocke, still bent, apparently, upon killing time, put into Chiloe
and Concepcion on trivial pretexts, and at the latter place captured one
or two prizes of trifling value; but, a party being sent in a small
prize which they had renamed _Mercury_ to capture a vessel laden with
wine, etc., in a bay about six miles distant, were cleverly ambushed by
the natives. They found the vessel, but she was hauled up on shore, and
empty; seeing a small house near by, they imagined her cargo was stored
there, and, running up to it, helter-skelter, out came the enemy,
mounted, each man lying along his horse and driving before them a double
rank of unbacked horses, linked together. The Englishmen were quite
powerless to resist, so they fled for their ship, which had grounded,
the horsemen pursuing with guns and lassos. James Daniel, one of
Shelvocke's foremast men, was lassoed just as he was wading out, and was
dragged on shore, as he described it, "at the rate of ten knots."
However, he appears to have escaped after all; but five of the party
were overtaken and captured, three being killed and the others severely
wounded. Another ship named _St. Fermin_, which they captured, Shelvocke
eventually burned, after the Spaniards had repeatedly failed to send the
money which had been agreed upon for her ransom.

And so they sailed for Juan Fernandez, "to see," as Shelvocke says, "if
we could find by any marks that the _Success_ was arrived in these
seas," and arrived off the island on January 12th, 1720. Shelvocke,
however, would not go in and anchor at first; he appears to have been
unwilling to seek any evidence of Clipperton's visit, and kept standing
off and on, fishing and filling the water-casks; until one day, "some of
my men accidentally saw the word 'Magee,' which was the name of
Clipperton's surgeon, and 'Captain John,' cut out under it upon a tree,
but no directions left, as was agreed on by him in his instructions to
me."

Betagh says that Brook, the first lieutenant, "being the first officer
that landed, immediately saw 'Captain John----' and 'W. Magee' cut in
the tree-bark; upon the news of which everybody seemed to rejoice but
our worthy captain, who would have it an invention of Brook's, for which
he used him scurvily before all the company, telling him 'twas a lie....
Brook had hitherto been a great favourite with Shelvocke, but for this
unwelcome discovery he is now put upon the black list."

It appears, however, from two different accounts, that the Viceroy at
Lima had obtained from some of Clipperton's men, who became prisoners
through the recapture of a prize, an account of the bottle hidden under
the tree at Juan Fernandez, and of two men who had deserted there, and
had despatched a vessel to bring both the men and the bottle; and
Shelvocke, though he was not aware of this at the time, must have known
it very well when he wrote his book; so his abuse of Clipperton is very
disingenuous.

Even then, he went where he knew that Clipperton was not likely to be,
sailing across to Arica, where he took a couple of small prizes, one of
them "laden with cormorant's dung, which the Spaniards call _guano_, and
is brought from the island of Iquique to cultivate the agi, or
cod-pepper, in the Vale of Arica."

It was not until more than one hundred years later that we began
regularly to ship guano to England as manure; Richard Dana describes a
voyage for that purpose, in "Two Years before the Mast," published in
1840; this was probably one of the earliest ventures, though the
existence of these huge deposits had been known for many years
previously.

Then followed a plan for capturing the town of Payta--a matter which,
Shelvocke says, had been considered in the scheme of the voyage as one
of great importance. He landed there with forty-six men, to find the
town almost deserted; but presently saw great bodies of men on the
surrounding hills, who however, retreated before his forty-six. He
demanded 10,000 pieces of eight as ransom for the town, and a small
prize he had taken; the Spaniards temporised, because they could see
from their look-outs that a Spanish Admiral's ship, carrying fifty guns,
was just round the high bluff, and thought they had a nice rod in pickle
for the English. Shelvocke threatened, failing immediate ransom, to burn
the town; the Spaniards replied that he might do what he liked, as long
as he spared the churches--an absurd stipulation, for fire, once
started, is not discriminating as to sacred edifices--and eventually the
town was set on fire in three places.

No sooner, however, was Payta fairly in a blaze, than Shelvocke became
aware that urgent signals for his return were being made from the
_Speedwell_, whose guns were blazing away towards the harbour mouth.
Ordering his crew on board, the captain preceded them in a canoe with
three men, and, as he opened the point, became speedily aware of the
significance of these doings; for there was a large ship, with the
Spanish flag flying--a very much larger ship than the _Speedwell_.

"At this prospect," he says, "two of my three people were ready to sink,
and had it not been for my boatswain, I should not have been able to
fetch the ship. When I looked back on the town, I could not forbear
wishing that I had not been so hasty."

The Spaniard did not, however, avail himself of his opportunities, being
deterred by the bold tactics of Mr. Coldsea, master of the _Speedwell_,
who, with only a dozen men on board, opened a hot fire.

It is an extraordinary story. The _Speedwell's_ men, delayed by
embarking a gun which had been landed, did not get on board until the
Spanish ship was within less than pistol-shot; then Shelvocke cut his
cable, and, the ship not falling off the right way, "I had but just room
enough to clear him." The men were so dismayed at the appearance of the
enemy's ship that some of them had proposed to jump overboard on the way
off, and swim ashore--one actually did so.

The Spaniard at length attacked in earnest, and, according to
Shelvocke's account, handled his ship cleverly, keeping the _Speedwell_
in a disadvantageous position, and battering her with his broadsides,
Shelvocke making what return he could. Suddenly the Spaniards crowded on
deck, shouting, and it was realised that the _Speedwell's_ colours had
been shot away, giving the appearance of a surrender. Shelvocke
immediately displayed his colours afresh; upon which, "designing to do
our business at once, they clapped their helm well a-starboard, to bring
the whole broadside to point at us; but their fire had little or no
effect, all stood fast with us, and they muzzled themselves [_i.e._ got
the ship stuck head to wind, or "in irons"], by which I had time to get
ahead and to windward of him before he could fill again." And so the
_Speedwell_ got off, their assailant being the _Peregrine_, of 56 guns
and 450 men; and Shelvocke tells us that he had not a single man killed
or wounded!

The _Speedwell_ was hulled repeatedly, and severely damaged aloft--but
no casualties! There are, it must be admitted, too many tales of
immunity in privateer accounts, in spite of the "tremendous fire," or
"shattering broadsides" of the enemy; and, as a skipper cannot well
manufacture casualties while all his crew are alive and well, one can
only suppose that the terrible fire of the enemy is exaggerated.

Mr. Betagh--who had been detached with Hatley in a small prize, the
_Mercury_, which was captured by the _Brilliant_, the _Peregrine's_
consort--gives another version of this fight, from details obtained from
the Spaniards. The ship, he says, mounted only 40 guns, and out of her
crew of 350 men there were not above a dozen Europeans, the remainder
being negroes, Indians, and half-castes, with no training, who were so
terrified by the first discharge from the _Speedwell_ that they ran
below: "The commander and his officers did what they could to bring them
to their duty: they beat them, swore at them, and pricked them in the
buttocks; but all would not do, for the poor devils were resolved to be
frighted. Most of them ran quite down into the hold, while others were
upon their knees praying the saints for deliverance. The _Speedwell_ did
not fire above eight or nine guns, and, as they were found sufficient,
Shelvocke had no reason to waste his powder. However, this panic of
theirs gave Shelvocke a fair opportunity to get his men aboard, cut his
cable, and go away right afore the wind. This is the plain truth of the
matter, which everybody was agreed in, for I heard it at several places;
though Shelvocke has cooked up a formal story of a desperate engagement
to deceive those who knew him not into a wondrous opinion of his
conduct."

The reader can take his choice between these two versions; probably the
truth lies somewhere midway, for, while Shelvocke was undoubtedly
addicted at times to "drawing a long bow," Betagh was certainly a very
bitter enemy of his, and all his statements are more or less coloured,
no doubt, by animosity.

The _Speedwell's_ days were numbered; on May 11th, 1720, she arrived
once more at Juan Fernandez, Shelvocke designing to remain there for a
time and refit, giving the Spaniards to believe that he had quitted the
cruising-ground. He had only been there a fortnight, however, when in a
hard onshore gale with a heavy sea, the cable--a new one--parted, and
the vessel drove on shore; the masts went by the board, and though only
one life was lost, the _Speedwell_ was done for--a hopeless wreck.

Clipperton, meanwhile, having given up all hope of rejoining Shelvocke,
had crossed the Atlantic and made his way, with much labour, through the
Straits of Magellan, to the South Seas--it took them two months and a
half to get through, and in September 1719 they visited Juan Fernandez,
Clipperton being resolved to carry out his part of the bargain, and this
being one of their appointed meeting-places. There the name of Magee,
the doctor, was cut on the tree, and the instructions for Shelvocke
buried in a bottle. Clipperton's name, we are told, was not cut in full,
because he was well known out there, had been a prisoner for some time,
and did not wish to advertise his return; but the precaution was futile,
as we have seen.

Clipperton had great trouble with his crew, who declared that there
would be no chance of much booty with a single ship, which might easily
have the odds against her; and they cursed Shelvocke freely for running
away with their liquor.

After leaving Juan Fernandez they took several prizes, one of them being
the _Trinity_, of 400 tons, which had been taken by Woodes Rogers at
Guayaquil, ten years before, and ransomed; one of the captains, however,
being a sharp and intrepid fellow, got the better of Clipperton. His
ship, the _Rosario_, being taken, he saw at once that, from the number
of prizes the English privateer had in company, her crew must be already
very much reduced, so he kept his eye open for an opportunity. He had
about a dozen passengers, whom he took into his confidence, hiding them
in the hold. Clipperton sent a lieutenant and eight men to take
possession, and all the crew they could find were confined in the cabin,
with a sentry at the door. The ship was presently got under sail by the
Englishmen, to join the _Success_, and the prize crew went down to see
what plunder they could discover in the hold; upon which the concealed
passengers fell upon them and secured them, while those in the cabin,
taking the sounds of the scuffle below as their signal, knocked the
sentry on the head and broke out, the boatswain meanwhile flooring the
lieutenant by a blow from behind. The captain then ran the vessel on
shore, and, in spite of a heavy surf, both crews landed safely, the
Englishmen being sent to Lima as prisoners; and it was one of these who
was unsportsmanlike enough to let out about the bottle buried on Juan
Fernandez.

The Viceroy of Peru, we are told, immediately ordered a new ship to be
built for the plucky and resourceful captain of the _Rosario_, and
imposed a tax on all the traders to pay for her.

While watering at the island of Lobos de la Mar, a plot was discovered
among the crew to seize the ship, but was suppressed; later on another
misfortune befell them, for, capturing a good prize, laden with tobacco,
sugar, and cloth off Coquimbo, they discovered, on entering that port,
three Spanish men-of-war, which were on the station for the express
purpose of looking after the English privateers. These, of course,
immediately cut their cables and made sail in chase, the _Success_ and
her prize hauling their wind to escape; the latter, however, was soon
recaptured, with a lieutenant and twelve men of the _Success_, which
contrived to escape.

This was a great blow to the already discontented and half mutinous
crew. To make matters worse, Clipperton began to solace himself with
liquor, and was frequently more or less drunk. Provisions began to run
short, so that they were glad to land all their Spanish prisoners.

At the island of Cocoas--one of the Galapagos Islands--they built a
place for their sick and rested a little; when they prepared to sail, on
January 21st, 1721, eleven of the crew--three whites and eight
negroes--hid themselves and deserted, preferring to live as they could
on a fertile island to braving the privations and disappointments of the
sea again.

On January 25th, having arrived at the island of Quibo, off the coast of
Mexico, a great surprise was in store. The pinnace being sent in chase
of a sail, came up with her about eleven o'clock at night, and found her
to be a Spanish vessel, the _Jesu Maria_; but not in Spanish hands, for
she was manned by Shelvocke and what remained of the _Speedwell's_ crew.
They had contrived to build some crazy sort of craft out of the wreck of
their ship at Juan Fernandez, and had eventually taken this vessel, a
very good and sound one, of two hundred tons.

Thus they met, after two years; and it was not a pleasant nor cordial
meeting. Clipperton called Shelvocke to account for the plunder which he
had taken, and the portion set aside for the owners; but no account was
forthcoming, of course, for Shelvocke and his crew were by that time on
a sort of piratical footing, with no attempt at discipline or regularity
of proceedings. They met several times, and Clipperton supplied the
other with some articles; eventually, Clipperton sent a sort of
ultimatum to Shelvocke, that if he and his crew would refund all the
money shared among themselves, contrary to the original articles with
the owners, and put it into a common stock, the past should be forgiven,
and they would cruise together for the rich ship from Acapulco. This
proposal was not, of course, entertained by Shelvocke and his men; and
so they parted.

Clipperton eventually sailed for China, and, after many difficulties,
came home to Ireland in a Dutch East Indiaman. He did not long survive
his return; his ill-success, and probably his intemperate habits, broke
down his health, and he died a few weeks later.

Shelvocke, meanwhile, had captured, at Sansonate, a vessel named the
_Santa Familia_; and, finding her a better ship than the _Jesu Maria_,
he exchanged.

When he was on the point of sailing, however, he received a letter from
the Governor notifying the conclusion of peace between Spain and
England, and demanding the return of the ship. He demanded a copy of the
articles of peace, which the Governor promised to obtain for him; but
there was evidently a strong conviction on shore that Shelvocke was not
ingenuous in the matter. A lieutenant and five men whom he sent on shore
were seized, and eventually he sailed with his capture, leaving behind a
protest, signed by all the crew.

They were, however, getting very sick of the cruise, and contemplated
surrendering themselves at Panama; but meanwhile they took another
vessel, the _Conception_--the doubt which existed as to the
establishment of peace not troubling them very much--and eventually,
abandoning the idea of surrender, they sailed for China.

Shelvocke had some queer and suspicious dealings with the Chinese
authorities at Whampoa, disposing of his ship for £700, after having,
as he alleges, paid more than £2,000 for port dues. Betagh says he
cleared some £7,000 out of the cruise, and he gives figures which go far
towards proving his assertion; the owners did not make much out of the
venture, though Clipperton endeavoured to act honestly towards them; and
when Shelvocke, returning in an East Indiaman, presented himself before
them, he was immediately arrested--Betagh says on the strength of a
letter which he had written while a prisoner at Lima--and put in prison.

He was charged with two acts of piracy--to wit, the affair off Cape
Frio, and the capture of the _Santa Familia_; but there was not adequate
legal proof against him. On the further charge of defrauding his owners
he was detained, but contrived to escape, and left England.

This was in 1722. Four years later he published his book, "A Voyage
Round the World," which was followed in two years by that of his late
officer, William Betagh.

Making every allowance for Betagh's animosity, it is impossible to
believe that Shelvocke was a favourable specimen of a privateer
commander; his own admissions are in several instances against him, and
there can be little doubt that he and his crew degenerated into
unscrupulous pirates. Clipperton, though very rough and eventually a
drunkard, was a better type of man; and, had Shelvocke been loyal, and
stuck to him from the first, the story of the cruise might have been a
very different one.



SOME ODD YARNS



CHAPTER VII

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS OF THE "ALEXANDER"


In the year 1744 a British 20-gun ship, the _Solebay_, was captured,
together with two others, by a French squadron under Admiral de
Rochambeau.

Less than two years later the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty
called before them a certain Captain Phillips, master mariner,
commanding the _Alexander_ privateer; and the following is the "minute"
of the interview, officially recorded:

"29 April, 1746. Captain Phillips, of the _Alexander_ privateer,
attending, was called in, and told the Lords that he chased the
_Solebay_ and a small ship, laden with naval stores, that she had under
her convoy, into St. Martin's Road[8] on the 10th instant; that he came
up with the _Solebay_ just at the entrance of the Road, where he
believed there were 100 sail of ships at anchor, and boarded her athwart
the bowsprit, sword in hand, and cut her out about three o'clock p.m.
Said the wind was at S.S.W., which was fair for his running in and
coming out. The Lords asked him how many men she had on board. He
answered she had 230, and he had but 140; that they kept a very bad
look-out, but as soon as he boarded her they were forced to fly from
their quarters; that they killed 15 of her men, and he had lost but
three; that she is still called the _Solebay_, and that the French have
made no other alteration in her than lengthening her quarter-deck. The
Lords asked him what he thought the two Martinico ships he had taken
were worth; he answered about £8,000 or £9,000. He told the Lords that
at the Isle of Rhé there were two ships of 64 guns each, and four East
India ships outward bound; said he was to be heard of at Lloyd's Coffee
House, and then withdrew."

Thus an English man-of-war was restored to the Royal Navy by the
boldness and enterprise of this privateer captain, who was another
specimen of a good man lost to the Service. He would willingly have
entered the Navy, but, like George Walker, he was deterred by the
stringent regulations, which compelled him at first to take a
subordinate post as lieutenant. He was presented, however, with five
hundred guineas and a gold medal, in recognition of his excellent
services; and his name will not be overlooked in the roll of honour by
naval historians.


THE CASE OF THE "ANTIGALLICAN"

In the year 1755 there appears to have existed a certain body which had
adopted the title of "The Society of Antigallicans," having for its
object the promotion of British manufactures, the extension of the
commerce of England, the discouragement of French _modes_, and of the
importation of French commodities.

War being regarded as inevitable, and the king having already issued a
proclamation licensing the granting of commissions to privateers, the
Antigallicans, always busy "concerting some good for the sake of the
public," discussed the propriety of fitting out a vessel of this
nature--an undertaking which, if successful, might obviously bring them
a rich reward for their public spirit.

The scheme, proposed by one William Smith, Esq., was relished by the
whole company, and the motion carried by acclamation. When the applause
had subsided there rose Mr. Torrington, who informed the company present
that he happened to possess at that moment a ship most admirably adapted
for the purpose: being the _Flamborough_, formerly a man-of-war, but
then in the Jamaica trade, and known as the _Flying Flamborough_ on
account of her great speed; Mr. Torrington, in his naturally
enthusiastic eulogy of the ship he wished to sell, declaring that, with
a fair wind and crowded canvas, she had frequently run fourteen
knots--which was certainly very unusual with the short, bluff-bowed
vessels of that period.

It was immediately agreed to purchase her, and she was appropriately
renamed the _Antigallican_. She was a formidable vessel, of 440 tons,
mounting 28 guns and 16 swivels, with a crew of 208 men, commanded by
William Foster--a man apparently of humble birth, for he is said to have
been a "cockswain" on board H.M.S. _Defiance_, and to have attracted
notice by his brave conduct during the action between Anson and De la
Jonquière on May 3rd, 1747.[9]

On July 17th, 1756, the _Antigallican_ was ready for sea, and the owners
brought down their wives and daughters and numerous friends, who were
handsomely entertained on board; she had on board, we are told, "six
months' provision, all of the product of Middlesex and Kent, generally
supplied from the estates of the proprietors. There was not the least
thing in or about her but what was entirely English"--which, of course,
was only right and consistent with the principles of the Society.

Sailing on September 17th, she fell in, about a month later, with an
armed French vessel, about 300 miles west of Lisbon. This ship fell an
easy prey, surrendering after delivering one broadside and receiving a
raking fire from the Englishman. She had on board, we are told, four
English prisoners, "part of the crew taken on board the _Warwick_
man-of-war." This ship had been captured by a French squadron on March
11th preceding. Why these four men were on board this armed merchantman
does not appear, but the French captain, who was a cheerful soul, not
readily cast down by adversity, had always treated them well, and, when
the _Antigallican_ hove in sight, served out a complete outfit of
clothes to them. They remained on deck at work until the first shot was
fired, when they were put under hatches, and the captain himself was the
first to inform them of their release. Smiling upon them through the
open hatchway, he said: "Come out, gentlemen; _it be vel wit you, but
ill wit me!_"

This vessel was the _Maria Theresa_, 14 guns and 30 men. She was valued,
with her cargo, at £23,000: so the _Antigallican_ made a promising
commencement of her cruise. The prize was sent to Portsmouth. Another,
valued at £15,000, was taken into Madeira, in company with the
privateer.

This was all very pleasant, and the Antigallican Society could
congratulate itself upon the success of its scheme for the good of the
public--and, incidentally, for the pockets of its members; and one day
in December 1756 a Dutch vessel gave news of a very rich prize, the _Duc
de Penthièvre_, a French Indiaman. "The news was communicated to the
crew, who heard it joyfully and behaved with a true Antigallican
spirit."

The privateer was off Corunna on the morning of December 26th, and at 6
a.m. a sail was observed standing inshore. It being almost calm, the
sweeps were got out, and by noon the _Antigallican_ was within gunshot,
under Spanish colours. Upon receiving a shot she ran up English colours,
and the French ship then delivered a broadside; the English captain,
however, reserved his fire until he was close aboard. They fought for
nearly three hours; then the Frenchman struck, and the vessel proved to
be the one they were in search of, her value being placed at something
like £300,000! Here was a fine haul. They made haste to get into port
with her, aiming at Lisbon; but they had some characteristically rough
winter weather on that coast, and, after bucketing about for over a
fortnight, they ran for Cadiz, where they arrived on January 23rd, 1757.
That gale proved very disastrous for the Antigallicans, for the
Spaniards, green with envy over such gains, immediately set to work to
show that the _Duc de Penthièvre_ was captured in Spanish waters, _i.e._
within three miles of the coast.

The French officers, in the first instance, deposed quite ingenuously,
before the consular authorities, upon their oath, that their ship was
captured two or three leagues--six or eight miles--off the coast; that
they did not see any fort, nor hear any guns fired; in fact, they
accepted the position that they were fairly made prisoners, and their
vessel, with all her rich cargo, was now English property. The
depositions of the English and French officers were sent to the
Admiralty Court at Gibraltar, and the ship was condemned as "good prize"
without hesitation.

Meanwhile, the Spanish naval authorities had politely given permission
for the English privateer to be taken over to the Government yard for
refitting, and all her movable gear, of every description, was landed
and placed in the warehouse, in order that the ship might be "careened,"
or "hove down," to examine and clean her bottom.

On February 19th came the first attack from the Spaniards. The Governor
of Cadiz sent for the English Consul, Mr. Goldsworthy, and told him that
he was obliged to send troops on board the prize, having received orders
to detain her. In spite of the Consul's vigorous protest, the threat was
confirmed with every warlike accompaniment--guns manned in the fort,
artillerymen standing by with lighted matches, and so on. Both vessels
were seized, but before dark the Governor, having apparently some
misgivings as to the legality of the business, ordered the troops to be
withdrawn, "after having broken open several chests, and carried away
everything they could find of the officers and crew, and the very beef
that was dressing for dinner."

On February 26th the Governor informed the Consul that he had orders to
deliver the prize to the French Consul. Captain Foster offered to place
the ship in the Governor's hands until the case should be decided, which
was a very proper and businesslike proposal; but it was refused, and the
captain declaring that the English colours flying on the prize should
never come down with his consent, matters came to a climax, and, in
spite of the unwillingness of the Spanish Admiral, who probably realised
the injustice of the proceedings, the Governor insisted that two
men-of-war should be sent to enforce his orders; a 60-gun ship and a
36-gun frigate took up their positions quite close to the prize, and
upon Foster refusing to lower his colours, they opened fire, killing six
men and wounding two. The flag halyards were shot away almost
immediately; but, in spite of the colours coming down, they would not
desist. The prize made no attempt at resistance, and on the following
day--March 3rd--the captain and crew were imprisoned.

On the 5th came an order from Madrid to stop all proceedings against the
prize and consult with the English captain alone; to allow the prize to
remain in our possession, but not to leave the port until further
orders.

The Spanish Governor, however, having evidently some very amenable
perjurers up his sleeve, disregarded the injunction, refusing to return
the ship to the English Consul; and on the following day there arrived
from Gibraltar the formal decision of the Admiralty Court, condemning
the _Duc de Penthièvre_ as "good prize," on the evidence of the French
officers, delivered two days before she was forcibly seized.

However, the French Ambassador at Madrid, inspired and instructed by the
Consul at Cadiz, was very urgent in the matter, and the Spaniards
succeeded in finding some unscrupulous persons who swore that the action
took place within gunshot, while other independent witnesses were very
certain that it did not; and the King of Spain, being somewhat uneasy in
his mind, intimated to our Ambassador at Madrid that the prize was only
to be detained until strict inquiry could be made into the merits of the
case.

This appears to have been hailed, by the Antigallican Society, as
equivalent to victory; the narrator of the story expresses his great joy
over the restitution of the prize, and gives a copy of a letter from his
Society to Pitt, whose good offices with the Spanish Government had been
enlisted, thanking him enthusiastically for his successful intervention.

They were counting their chickens before they were hatched; the Spanish
half-concession was merely an elaboration of their favourite word,
_mañana_--and this "to-morrow," upon which the English were to have the
ship which they had fairly captured, never dawned! There was an immense
amount of correspondence on the subject, but in 1758, two years later,
the matter was not settled--or rather, it was settled against the
English; and they never got their £300,000, or their ship. It appears
almost incredible, but this appears to be the truth about the
_Antigallican_ and her rich prize. We have no more reports of any
privateering business by the Antigallican Society; so we must conclude
that the members had had enough of such ventures.

The following is a translation of the deposition of the first lieutenant
of the _Duc de Penthièvre_, made before the British Consul at Cadiz:

"M. François de Querangal, first lieutenant of the ship _Duc de
Penthièvre_, belonging to the French East India Company, commanded by M.
Ettoupan de Villeneuve, since dead of his wounds after the engagement,
deposes that the said ship sailed from the Island of St. Mary, on the
coast of Madagascar, on the 12th of September, 1756, bound for the port
of L'Orient, in France; that the said ship was compelled, by contrary
winds and other stress, to run for the harbour of Corunna, on the coast
of Spain; that on the 26th December last, being about one league from
land, the _Antigallican_, displaying Spanish colours and coming within
gunshot, they fired a gun across her bows. The vessel immediately
hoisted English colours, and we commenced the action.

"The Iron Tower was then about two and a half or three leagues distant.
Asked whether he had seen any flags or batteries on shore, he declares
that he had seen neither.

"That the said ship, _Duc de Penthièvre_, was armed with 20 guns at the
time of the action, and carried a crew of 150 men; that he had no
knowledge of the papers contained in the boxes thrown overboard before
the colours were hauled down.

"The said gentleman declares before me, having taken his oath according
to the French custom, that the above statement is true."

This is signed by the deponent and duly attested by the Consul, the
depositions of the other French officers being in precisely similar
terms.

It was on these depositions, together with those of Captain Foster and
his assistants, that the Admiralty Court at Gibraltar condemned the ship
as "good prize," and with perfect justice; had any ground existed for
protest, it should then have been put forward; so the flagrant injustice
and iniquity of the Spanish authorities is very apparent. There had
been other complaints previously, and the British Ambassador at Madrid
had very strongly protested against the favour shown by the Spaniards to
French privateers, and had also induced Pitt, the Prime Minister, to
support him in a strong letter. But it was all of no avail: there were
wheels within wheels, and, rather than make it an occasion of war, the
just claims of the Antigallicans were suffered to go by the board.

[Footnote 8: Inside Isle de Rhé, off the coast of France, close to La
Rochelle.]

[Footnote 9: Perhaps Mr. William Foster is responsible for the story
here told by the Antigallican narrator, that Anson "had no hand in the
matter. That morning he desired a council of war, but Sir Peter Warren
told him, 'There are French colours flying! which is a sufficient
council of war'; and so bore down upon them, while his lordship lay at a
distance." Anson, however, received his peerage for this very action--he
was not "his lordship" when he fought it; Warren was knighted at the
same time.]



CHAPTER VIII

CAPTAIN DEATH, OF THE "TERRIBLE"


One of the bloodiest privateer actions on record was that between the
_Terrible_, owned in London, and the _Vengeance_, of St. Malo.

The _Terrible_ carried 26 guns, with a crew of 200 men, and was
commanded by Captain Death. She was cruising off the mouth of the
Channel at the end of the year 1756, and had had some success, capturing
an armed French cargo ship, the _Alexandre le Grand_, (the narrator very
simply translates this "Grand Alexander"!), which she was escorting into
Plymouth, with a prize crew of an officer--the first lieutenant--and
fifteen men, when on December 27th, at daylight, two sails were sighted
to the southward, about twelve miles distant. Some communication was
observed to take place between the two vessels, and then the larger one
steered for the _Terrible_ and her prize, which was far astern, so that
the _Terrible_ was obliged to back her mizzen-topsail and wait for her.

Meanwhile, every preparation was made for action; but, from the absence
of the prize crew and other causes, no more than 116 men out of 200 were
able to stand to the guns; indeed, the narrator, who was third
lieutenant of the _Terrible_, tells rather a sad story of her crew--"the
rest being either dead or sick below with a distemper called the spotted
fever, that raged among the ship's company." This may have been
malignant typhus, or the plague, terribly infectious; and there would be
great reluctance to handle the dead bodies--hence some of these were
left below.

The enemy approached, as was usually the practice, under English colours
until within close range, when she shortened sail and hoisted French
colours. The _Terrible_ was ready for her, with her starboard guns
manned, and the prize had by this time come up; but she was a clumsy
sailer, deep-laden, and fell off from the wind; so the Frenchman got in
between them, gave the prize a broadside, and then, ranging close up on
the _Terrible's_ port quarter, delivered a most destructive fire,
diagonally across her deck, killing and wounding a great number. So
close were the two ships, that the yardarms almost touched, and the
_Terrible's_ people, in spite of the awful battering they had just
received, returned a broadside of round and grape, which was equally
destructive. For five or six minutes they surged along side by side,
while each disposed his dead and wounded, and a touch of the helm would
have run either vessel aboard her opponent. The Frenchmen, more numerous
in spite of their losses, might have boarded, and the "Terribles" were
in momentary expectation of it--but they held off, and the English did
not find themselves strong enough to attempt it. Separating again, they
exchanged a murderous fire at close range, the casualties being very
heavy on both sides.

The French ship had, however, one great advantage at such close
quarters; in each "top" she had eight or ten small-arm men, who were
able to fire down upon the _Terrible's_ deck, and pick off whom they
would--the latter was too short-handed to spare any men for this
purpose.

This slaughter, to which they were unable to reply, really decided the
action. Every man in sight was either killed or miserably wounded--the
captain and the third lieutenant escaped for some time, but the latter
was grazed on his cheek, and the captain, he states, was shot through
the body after he had struck his flag. This is a very common accusation,
and no doubt it has often been true, though probably only through a
misapprehension; men who are blazing away and being shot at in a hot
action do not always know or realise at the moment that the enemy has
struck, and so some poor fellow loses his life unnecessarily.

It was too hot to last. The enemy was a ship of considerably superior
force, and probably had three times the number of the _Terrible's_
available crew at the commencement of the action. On board the English
vessel nearly one hundred men were dead or wounded, the decks were
cumbered with their bodies, and only one officer was left untouched;
they had not a score of men left to fight the ship, and the enemy
continued to pour in a pitiless fire, which at length brought the
mainmast by the board.

Captain Death, a brave man, could then see no course but to surrender,
having put up a very gallant fight; and so he ordered down the colours,
and was then, as is said, fatally wounded by a musket-ball.

Then follows a dismal story of the treatment of the English prisoners,
which we may hope, for the sake of French humanity and generosity, is
somewhat exaggerated--as we know that such things can be, under the
smart of defeat and surrender: "They turned our first lieutenant and all
our people down in a close, confined place forward the first night that
we came on board, where twenty-seven men of them were stifled before
morning; and several were hauled out for dead, but the air brought them
to life again; and a great many of them died of their wounds on board
the _Terrible_ for want of care being taken of them, which was out of
our doctor's power to do, the enemy having taken his instruments and
medicine from him. Several that were wounded they heaved overboard
alive."

If this is a true account one shudders to think what may have been the
fate of those unhappy, plague-stricken men below--probably brought up
and hove overboard in a ferocious panic!

The French ship was named the _Vengeance_, of 36 guns and about 400 men;
so there was no discredit to Captain Death in yielding, after such a
plucky resistance. The merchants of London opened a subscription at
Lloyd's Coffee House for his widow and the widows of the crew, and for
the survivors, who had suffered the loss of all their possessions.

This desperate fight was much talked about at the time, and inspired
some rhymester, whose name has not come down to us, to compose the
following:

CAPTAIN DEATH

  The muse and the hero together are fir'd,
  The same noble views has their bosom inspir'd;
  As freedom they love, and for glory contend,
  The muse o'er the hero still mourns as a friend;
  So here let the muse her poor tribute bequeath,
  To one British hero--'tis brave Captain Death.

  The ship was the _Terrible_--dreadful to see!
  His crew was as brave and as valiant as he.
  Two hundred or more was their full complement,
  And sure braver fellows to sea never went.
  Each man was determined to spend his last breath
  In fighting for Britain and brave Captain Death.

  A prize they had taken diminish'd their force,
  And soon the brave ship was lost in her course.
  The French privateer and the _Terrible_ met,
  The battle began with all horror beset.
  No heart was dismayed, each bold as Macbeth;
  The sailors rejoiced, so did brave Captain Death.

  Fire, thunder, balls, bullets were soon heard and felt,
  A sight that the heart of Bellona would melt.
  The shrouds were all torn and the decks fill'd with blood.
  And scores of dead bodies were thrown in the flood.
  The flood, from the time of old Noah and Seth,
  Ne'er saw such a man as our brave Captain Death.

  At last the dread bullet came wing'd with his fate;
  Our brave captain dropped, and soon after his mate.
  Each officer fell, and a carnage was seen,
  That soon dy'd the waves to a crimson from green;
  Then Neptune rose up, and he took off his wreath,
  And gave it a triton to crown Captain Death.

  Thus fell the strong _Terrible_, bravely and bold,
  But sixteen survivors the tale can unfold.
  The French were the victors, tho' much to their cost,
  For many brave French were with Englishmen lost.
  For thus says old Time, "Since Queen Elizabeth,
  I ne'er saw the fellow of brave Captain Death."

There is another poetic effusion on the subject, under the title "The
Terrible Privateer"; but it is such halting doggrel that the reader
shall be spared the transcription; with the exception of the last verse,
which breathes such a blunt British spirit that it would be a pity to
omit it:

  Here's a health unto our British fleet.
  Grant they with these privateers may meet,
  And have better luck than the _Terrible_,
  And sink those Mounsiers all to hell.

The _Vengeance_ was, in fact, captured about twelve months later by the
_Hussar_, a man-of-war, after a stout resistance, in which she lost
heavily; it is impossible, however, to say how far the devout aspiration
of the poet was fulfilled!


MR. PETER BAKER AND THE "MENTOR"

In the Reading-room of the Free Library in Liverpool there hangs an
oil-painting, of which a reproduction is here given, illustrating an
incident which occurred during the American War of Secession, in 1778.

Liverpool merchants and shipowners were very active at that time in the
fitting out of privateers; and some, or one of them, entered into a
contract with one Peter Baker to build a vessel for this purpose. Now,
Baker does not appear to have had the necessary training and experience
to qualify him as a designer and builder of ships. He had served a short
apprenticeship with some employer in the neighbourhood of Garston, near
Liverpool, and had then worked as a carpenter in Liverpool, eventually
becoming a master. However, he set to work to fulfil his contract; but
he turned out of hand such a sorry specimen of a ship--clumsy,
ill-built, lopsided, and with sailing qualities more suited to a
haystack than a smart privateer--that the prospective owner refused her,
throwing her back on his hands--a very serious matter for Peter Baker,
who was heavily in debt over the venture.

Strangely enough, this apparent calamity proved to be the making of him.

Despairing of paying his debts, he resolved upon the somewhat desperate
course of fitting out the ship as a venture of his own, and contrived to
obtain sufficient credit for this purpose. Probably his creditors agreed
to give him this chance, as the privateers not infrequently made
considerable sums of money.

Baker did not, however, aspire to the post of privateer captain; he
appointed to the command his son-in-law, John Dawson, who had made
several voyages to the coast of Africa, and knew enough about
navigation to get along somehow. The vessel measured 400 tons, carried
28 guns, and shipped a crew of 102 men; but they were a very queer lot:
loafers picked up on the docks, landsmen in search of adventure, and so
on. With this unpromising outfit--a lopsided, heavy-sailing vessel, an
inexperienced commander, and a crew of incapable desperadoes--Peter
Baker entered upon his privateering venture, and in due course the
_Mentor_, provided, no doubt, with a king's commission, proceeded down
the Irish Sea, hanging about in the chops of the Channel for homeward
bound French merchantmen. Dawson was not very persistent or
enterprising, for we are told that in something under a week he was on
the point of returning, not having as yet come across anything worthy of
his powder and shot. Falling in with another privateer, homeward bound,
he made the usual inquiry as to whether she had seen anything, either in
the way of a likely prize or a formidable enemy; and was informed that a
large vessel, either a Spanish 74-gun ship, or Spanish East Indiaman,
had been seen just previously in a given latitude.

Dawson thereupon resolved to put his fortune to the test--"For," said
he, "I might as well be in a Spanish prison as an English one, and if I
return empty I shall most likely be imprisoned for debt." So he made
sail after the assumed Spaniard, and found her readily enough; as he
closed, he made out through his glass that she was pierced for 74 guns,
and was, of course, in every respect a far more formidable craft than
the lopsided _Mentor_. Handing the glass to his carpenter, John Baxter,
evidently an observant and intelligent man, the latter exclaimed that
the stranger's guns were all dummies!

Thereupon John Dawson bore down to the attack, boarded the enemy, and
carried her, with his harum-scarum crew, almost unopposed.

She proved to be a French East Indiaman, the _Carnatic_, with a most
valuable cargo--said to be worth pretty nearly half a million sterling.
One box of diamonds alone was valued at £135,000.

[Illustration: CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH EAST INDIAMEN "CARNATIC"]

The crew had been three years in the vessel, trading in gold and
diamonds, and did not even know that war had broken out.

Here was a piece of luck for Peter Baker! When the rich prize was
brought into the Mersey, in charge of the proud and happy Dawson and his
crew, bells were set ringing, guns were fired, and both captors and
victors were entertained in sumptuous fashion by the delighted
townspeople. Baker became, of course, immediately a person of
importance: he was jocosely alluded to as "Lord Baker," and was later
elected Mayor of Liverpool and made a county magistrate.

He proceeded to build himself a large house at Mossley Hill, outside
Liverpool, which either he or some facetious friend dubbed "Carnatic
Hall"; it was partially destroyed by fire later on, and rebuilt by the
present owners, Holland by name.

Baker and Dawson entered into partnership as shipbuilders, and the
uncouth but lucky _Mentor_ continued her cruising, capturing two or
three more prizes of trifling value. In 1782, however, while on her
passage home from Jamaica, she foundered off the Banks of Newfoundland,
thirty-one of her crew perishing.

Such is the story of Peter Baker's sudden rise of fortune, illustrating
the extraordinary uncertainty of those privateering times. Baker had, so
to speak, no business to succeed; one cannot help regarding him, in the
first instance, as something of an impostor in undertaking to build a
ship under the circumstances--for we may be sure that she was not
rejected without good reason; but she caused all this to be forgotten by
one piece of good luck. Her fortunate builder and owner died in 1796.


CAPTAIN EDWARD MOOR, OF THE "FAME"

A privateer commander of the best type was Captain Edward Moor, of the
_Fame_, hailing from Dublin. His vessel carried 20 six-pounders and some
smaller pieces, and a crew of 108 men. It was in August 1780, when he
was cruising off the coast of Spain and the northern coast of Africa,
that he received news of the departure of five ships from Marseilles,
bound for the West Indies: all armed vessels, and provided with fighting
commissions of some kind--letters of marque, as they are styled.

Being a man of good courage, and not afraid of such trifling odds as
five to one, Moor went in search of these Frenchmen; and on August 25th
he was lucky enough to sight them, off the coast of Spain. As dusk was
approaching he refrained from any demonstration of hostility, but took
care, during the night, to get inshore of the enemy.

At daybreak they were about six miles distant, and, upon seeing the
_Fame_ approach in a businesslike manner, they formed in line to receive
her.

Adopting similar tactics to those of George Walker in attacking eight
vessels--perhaps purposely following the example of a man who had such a
great name, and whose exploits were sure to be known among
privateersmen[10]--Moor bade his men lie down at their guns, and not
fire until he gave the word.

At half-past six they were within gunshot, and the Frenchmen opened
fire; but the _Fame_ swept on in silence until she was close to the
largest ship; then they blazed away, and in three quarters of an hour
she surrendered. Without a moment's delay Moor tackled the next in size,
which also shortly succumbed. Putting an officer and seven men on board,
with orders to look after _both_ ships--what glorious confidence in his
men!--he went after the others, which were now endeavouring to escape;
only one succeeded, however, though one would have imagined that, by
scattering widely, they might have saved another. These two fugitives
made no further resistance, and Captain Moor thus got four ships, to
wit--_Deux Frères_, 14 guns, 50 men; _Univers_, 12 guns, 40 men;
_Zephyr_ (formerly a British sloop-of-war, according to Beatson's
"Memoirs"), 10 guns, 32 men; and _Nancy_, 4 guns, 18 men--a total of 40
guns and 140 men, against his 26 guns and 108 men. The Frenchmen
certainly ought to have made it hotter for him; but probably their crews
were not trained, and Moor evidently had his men well in hand, just as
Walker had.

He took his prizes into Algiers, where he landed the prisoners, who gave
such a good account of the kind and generous treatment they had received
from their captors that the French Consul-General at Algiers wrote a
very handsome letter to Moor, expressing in the strongest terms his
appreciation of his conduct.

This Edward Moor was evidently one of those commanders like Walker and
Wright; a gentleman by birth and instinct, combining the highest courage
with refinement of mind and humanity; he would have been well employed
in the Royal Navy.


CAPTAIN JAMES BORROWDALE, OF THE "ELLEN"

Earlier in this same year, 1780, a Bristol ship made a very brilliant
capture. This was the _Ellen_, an armed merchantman, provided with a
letter of marque. She carried 18 six-pounders and a crew of 64, half of
them boys and landsmen on their first voyage. She was commanded by James
Borrowdale, a careful man, who, while fully aware that he was expected
to make as good a passage as possible, and refrain from engaging in
combat unless it was forced upon him, took some pains to ensure that,
in such event, the foe should not have a walk-over.

He had as passenger one Captain Blundell, of the
79th--Liverpool--Regiment, going out to join his regiment in Jamaica;
and this gentleman, in order, no doubt, to beguile the tedium of the
voyage, undertook to train sixteen of the crew to act as
marines--hoping, probably, for an opportunity of proving their metal;
and he was not disappointed.

A month out, on April 16th, a ship was sighted to windward, apparently
of much the same size and force as the _Ellen_. Captain Borrowdale, with
all his canvas set to catch the Trade-wind, stood on, apparently
unheeding the approach of the stranger; but his men had the guns cast
loose and loaded, and Blundell, with his little band of amateur marines,
was very much on the alert.

Arriving within gunshot, the stranger fired a gun, hoisting Spanish
colours; upon which Borrowdale shortened sail, seeing that it was
impossible to avoid a fight, and hoisted American colours, to gain time;
for his idea was to commence the action at very close quarters.

He then addressed his crew, bidding them ram down a bag of grape-shot
into every gun--on top of the round shot, of course--to keep cool, and
reserve their fire for close quarters, keeping the guns trained on the
enemy meanwhile; to fire as quickly as possible, and to fight the ship
to the last extremity.

When the other was within hailing distance down came the American
colours, up went the English, and a deadly broadside was delivered,
accompanied by a well-directed volley from Blundell's contingent. So
effective, in fact, was the sudden and vigorous attack, that it quite
staggered the Spaniards, who fell into confusion, neglecting the proper
handling of their vessel, so that she fell off from the wind and got
under the _Ellen's_ lee; upon which the other broadside was poured into
her. The Spanish captain, imagining that he had only an ordinary armed
trader to deal with--and many of them were very poor fighters--had
perhaps not made full preparation for action; at any rate, he and his
men were so demoralised by these two broadsides that he put his helm up
and ran for it. The English captain, having successfully defended his
ship, might now have pursued his voyage, without any loss of credit,
that being his business; but no such idea entered his head. The crew
gave three hearty cheers as they trimmed and cracked on sail, and the
Spaniard, having sustained some damage aloft, was unable to escape.
Running alongside, the _Ellen_ attacked again, and the action was
maintained for an hour and a half, the two vessels running yardarm to
yardarm; and then, the _Ellen's_ fire having completely disabled the foe
aloft, the Spanish colours came down, and Captain Borrowdale found
himself in possession of the _Santa Anna Gratia_, a Spanish
sloop-of-war, mounting 16 heavy six-pounders and a number of swivels,
with a crew of 104 men, of whom seven were killed and eight wounded; the
_Ellen_ had only one killed and three wounded; but these small losses
were doubtless owing to the two vessels mutually aiming at the spars
and rigging, each endeavouring to cripple her opponent aloft.

This was a very brilliant little affair, and Borrowdale and his merry
men must have felt very well pleased with themselves as they sailed into
Port Royal, Jamaica, the prize in company, with the English colours
surmounting the Spanish.

[Footnote 10: The account of George Walker's exploits comes later on.]



TWO GREAT ENGLISHMEN



CHAPTER IX

FORTUNATUS WRIGHT


Surely the fairies must have been busy with suggestions at the birth and
naming of this fighting seaman--great seaman and determined fighter, and
withal a smack of romantic heroism about him, which is suggested at once
by his Christian name--Fortunatus. No man with such a name, one is
disposed to assume, could be an ordinary and commonplace sort of person,
muddling along in the well-worn grooves of every-day life. This, of
course, would be an absurd assumption; men have been named after all
kinds of heroes, naval and military, statesmen, masters of the pen, and
so on, and have fallen very far short--to put it mildly--of the
aspirations of their fond and admiring parents.

Wright's father was a master-mariner of Liverpool, of whom we are told
that he had upon one occasion defended his ship most gallantly for
several hours against two vessels of superior force--an exploit which is
recorded upon his tombstone in St. Peter's churchyard, Liverpool, and
from which we gather that he was either a privateer commander, or that
his vessel, an ordinary trader, was armed for the purpose of defence.
We do not know, however, why he named his son Fortunatus--we can only
fall back upon the fairies; but a supplementary inscription upon the
tombstone tells us that "Fortunatus Wright, his son, was always
victorious, and humane to the vanquished. He was a constant terror to
the enemies of his king and country"; and that is a very good sort of
epitaph; moreover--unlike many such effusions, recording amiable or
heroic characteristics of the dead which few had been able to recognise
in the living--it is a true one. If not always victorious--and a
probably true story, presently to be narrated, appears to point to one
instance, at least, in which he and his antagonist parted
indecisively--he was, at any rate, never beaten; and his conduct and
character obtained for him, from a brave seaman and fighter of his own
stamp, who sailed under him, the epithet, "that great hero, Fortunatus
Wright"; the actual words, by the way, are "that great but unfortunate
hero," and herein is an allusion, no doubt, to some very ungenerous
treatment meted out to Wright by foreign authorities, and also to his
unknown, and probably tragic, fate.

We have but little information concerning his early manhood; there is
not, indeed, any evidence to hand of even the approximate date of his
birth. Smollett, in his "History of England," alludes to Wright's
exploits, and describes him as "a stranger to a sea-life," until he took
to privateering in the Mediterranean; but it is not easy to see upon
what grounds the historian bases such an assumption. Fortunatus Wright
was, as we have seen, the son of a sea-captain of no ordinary stamp, and
the probability is that he would be brought up in his father's
calling--a probability which becomes, practically, a certainty when we
reflect that, immediately upon assuming the position of privateer
commander, he displayed a consummate skill in seamanship, combined with
remarkable tactical powers in sea-fighting, which elicited the
enthusiastic admiration of his subordinates; and these qualifications
are not acquired on land.

No; Fortunatus Wright was undoubtedly trained as a seaman, and very
possibly a privateersman; but it appears that, somewhere about the year
1741, having previously retired from the sea, and settled in Liverpool
as a shipowner, he realised his business, and went to reside abroad; and
in 1742 we come across news of him in Italy.

Mr. (afterwards Sir) Horace Mann, at that time British Resident at the
Court of Florence, in a letter to his friend Horace Walpole--with whom
he kept up an enormous correspondence--relates how he had had complaints
concerning the violent conduct of Mr. Wright at Lucca. It appears that
our friend, travelling in that part of Italy, with introductions to some
of the nobility, presented himself one day at the gates of Lucca, never
doubting but that, as a respectable and peaceably disposed person, he
would immediately be admitted. He had not reckoned, however, with the
particular form of "red tape" which prevailed there. He had upon him a
pair of pistols; and, upon being informed that the surrender of these
weapons was the condition of being permitted to pass the gates, his
English choler immediately rose against what appeared to him to be a
tyrannical and unnecessary proceeding; and his natural instinct
being--as it always is in fighting men of his stamp--rather to beat down
and override opposition than to yield to it, disregarding the serious
odds against him--twenty soldiers and a corporal _versus_ Fortunatus
Wright--he presented one of the offending pistols at the guard, and
clearly indicated that the first man who endeavoured to arrest him would
do so at the cost of his life. This was very awkward; no one cared to be
the first victim of the "mad Englishman," who was evidently a man of his
word, and how it might have ended nobody knows, had there not appeared
upon the scene a superior officer--a colonel--with thirty more soldiers.
Mr. Wright was thereupon persuaded that the odds were too heavy even for
a "mad Englishman," and was escorted to his hotel by this imposing
bodyguard, being there made a prisoner while representations were made
to the English Ambassador.

Fortunately, one of the Luccese noblemen to whom he had an introduction
intervened, undertaking that no harm should result; and on the morning
of the fourth day, at the early hour of four, the irate Englishman was
informed that since he had been so daring as to endeavour to enter the
town by force of arms, it was therefore ordered that he should forthwith
leave the State, and never presume to enter it again without leave from
the Republic; and that post-horses, with a guard to see him over the
border, were waiting at the door.

"He answered a great deal," says Sir Horace Mann, "not much to the
purpose"; and so was seen safely out of Lucca, with his pistols in his
pocket, we may presume, swearing at the unreasonableness of Italians and
their laws. He continued, however, to reside in Italy, and was living at
Leghorn when, in 1744, war was declared with France; and then there came
to Fortunatus Wright the imperative call to return to a seafaring life.

The war had not been long in progress before the English merchants in
Leghorn began to suffer immense annoyance and loss from the depredations
of the French privateers which swarmed upon the coast of Italy. Their
trade was stifled, their ships compelled to remain in port, or almost
inevitably captured if they ventured out; apparently there were not
men-of-war available for escort, and the situation became unbearable.

When men have come to the conclusion that things are past bearing they
look about for some drastic remedy, and in this instance Mr. Wright was
the remedy; Mr. Wright, living quietly in Leghorn, with his wife and
family, but with his sea-lore available at the back of his mind, and,
for all we know, the love of the salt water tugging at his
heart-strings--sailors are made that way. Why not fit out a privateer,
and place Mr. Wright in command? The suggestion may, indeed, have come
from him in the first instance; at any rate, no time was lost. There was
a vessel available, to wit the _Fame_, a staunch brigantine. We have no
precise details of her tonnage and force, but she was undoubtedly an
efficient craft for the purpose, and Wright speedily demonstrated that
he was an entirely fit and proper person to be placed in charge.

Carefully studying the winds of the Mediterranean, and the probable
track of the enemy's privateers and merchant vessels, he had his plan of
action matured by the time the ship was ready; and this is how it is set
forth by William Hutchinson, one of his officers, writing thirty years
later:

"Cruising the war before last, in the employ of that great but
unfortunate hero, Fortunatus Wright, in the Mediterranean Sea, where the
wind blows generally either easterly or westerly--that is, either up or
down the Straits--it was planned, with either of these winds that blew,
to steer up or down the channels the common course, large or before the
wind in the daytime without any sail set, that the enemy's trading ships
astern, crowding sail with this fair wind, might come up in sight, or we
come in sight of those ships ahead that might be turning to windward;
and at sunset, if nothing appeared to the officer at the masthead, we
continued to run five or six leagues, so far as could then be seen,
before we laid the ship to for the night, to prevent the ships astern
coming up and passing out of sight before the morning, or our passing
those ships that might be turning to windward; and if nothing appeared
to an officer at the masthead at sunrise, we bore away and steered as
before. And when the wind blew across the channel, that ships could sail
their course either up or down, then to keep the ship in a fair way; in
the daytime to steer the common course, under the courses and lower
staysails, and in the night under topsails with the courses in the
brails, with all things as ready as possible for action, and to take or
leave what we might fall in with."

Before many months had elapsed the soundness of these tactics, and the
sagacity with which Wright determined what to take and what to leave,
were very conspicuous.

In the months of November and December, 1746, the _Fame_ had to her
credit no fewer than eighteen prizes, one of which was a privateer, of
200 tons, with 20 guns and 150 men, fitted out by the French factories
on the coast of Caramania, with the express object of putting a stop to
the inconveniently successful cruising of Fortunatus Wright, who,
however, turned the tables upon her, sending her as a prize into
Messina. The Frenchmen, to avoid being taken prisoners, had run her on
shore and decamped; but the English captain was not going to be deprived
of the prize-money which he and his men had justly earned, so they set
to work and got the vessel afloat again, in order that she might be
produced and duly condemned as "good prize."

Wright's success, both in fighting and in the pursuit of traders,
infuriated the French, and particularly the Knights of St. John, in
Malta, where there was very hot antagonism between the two
factions--the French and Spaniards on one side, and the Austrians and
English on the other.

When Wright kept on sending in his prizes the Austrians would "chaff"
the French. "Here's another of your ships coming in, under the care of
Captain Wright," we can imagine them saying. Some duels were fought by
angry officers, and eventually the French sent urgent representations to
Marseilles, and a vessel was fitted out and manned with the express
object of humiliating the English by capturing the _Fame_ and putting a
stop to Wright's victorious career.

In due course the privateer put in an appearance at Malta. She was of
considerably superior force to the _Fame_, the captain was a man of
repute as a seaman and fighter, and was entertained by the French, who
patted him on the back and sent him forth to conquer.

But it is never safe to pat a man on the back for prospective triumphs.

As the days passed excitement and expectation became intense; the points
of vantage, whence a good view of incoming vessels could be obtained,
were thronged with anxious spectators of both factions; and we may
suppose that there was a considerable amount of mutual banter, not in
the best of good-humour.

At length two vessels were sighted; as they approached it was seen that
one was towing the other. Then the French privateer was recognised, and
it was noticed that the other vessel, in tow, was very much knocked
about. While conjecture was ripening into triumphant conviction up went
the colours--French colours! That decided the question--the career of
the obnoxious Wright--"ce cher Wright," sarcastically--was at an end,
and the enthusiastic Frenchmen shook hands and embraced, and waved hats
and handkerchiefs to the victor.

There was one delightful characteristic of "ce cher Wright," however,
which they had failed to realise--he was possessed of a very keen sense
of humour. In spite of the shattered condition of the staunch little
_Fame_, she had come off victorious, and Wright had very naturally
placed her in tow of the larger vessel, which he himself was navigating,
her crew his prisoners of war; and seeing the crowded ramparts from
afar, this agreeable but unsuspected little trait of his had displayed
itself in the hoisting of French colours.

Then, when the cheering and embracing was at its climax, as the vessels
rounded the fort, the English colours sailed up to the peak, with the
French below!

And then--well, then we may imagine that there was the making of some
more duels!

Fortunatus Wright was no mere filibustering swashbuckler, like so many
other privateer commanders who, as we have seen, brought their calling
into sad disrepute; nor was he a man to be intimidated by his crew into
committing any unlawful act for the sake of plunder; but he was very
tenacious of his rights, and on more than one occasion came to serious
loggerheads with high authorities; very much, eventually, to his cost.

In December 1746, while reports were going home of his numerous
captures, he overhauled and seized a French vessel, on a voyage from
Marseilles to Naples, having on board the servants and all the luggage
and belongings of the Prince of Campo Florida. The French skipper
produced a pass, from no less a person than King George II. of England,
by which these persons and goods should be exempt from molestation by
English cruisers; but there was a flaw in this document, for the name of
the ship was not entered upon it. "All very well," said Wright, "but how
am I to know that King George intended this ship to go free? She is not
named on the safe-conduct"; and into Leghorn she went as a prize,
prince's servants, baggage, and all, to the horror of the British
Consul, and to the great disgust of the Prince of Campo Florida; nor
would Wright listen to the remonstrances of the Consul, maintaining that
he was technically justified in his action; and there was undoubtedly
some ground for this contention. However, the British Minister persuaded
him to refer the matter to the Admiral commanding on the station, by
whose adverse decision Wright loyally abided, and the vessel was
released accordingly.

It was a much more serious affair when, in 1747, he fell out with the
Turkey Company--officially known as "The Company of English Merchants
trading to the Levant Sea"--a very wealthy and powerful organisation,
jealous of its rights, and somewhat perturbed, moreover, at this
particular period, by the falling off in its returns; so that it was
exceedingly annoying to find Turkish goods being seized by Captain
Wright on board French ships.

There were two vessels in question, and the English Consul at Leghorn
received orders from home to investigate the business. With his previous
experience of the privateer captain's stiffness and command of technical
knowledge of prize law, the Consul, we may be sure, did not anticipate
an easy acquiescence in any suggestions he might make; and, in fact,
Wright's reply was a very decided refusal to admit that he was in fault.
He said that both ships had a French pass, hailed from Marseilles, and
hoisted French colours; and one of them offered a stout resistance
before she struck. "For these reasons I brought them to Leghorn, and
have had them legally condemned in the Admiralty Court, by virtue of
which sentence I have disposed of them and distributed the money."

Quite an unassailable position, one would imagine; but the irate
Governors of the Turkey Company were able to procure, by some means or
other, an order from the English Government that Turkish cargoes in
French vessels were to be exempt from capture. Upon this order being
communicated to the privateer captains and Admiralty Courts in the
Mediterranean, it was expected that Wright would refund the prize-money;
but he, very properly, as it appears, refused to admit that such an
order could be retrospective--he had the money, and meant to keep it;
and then there was trouble. Orders were sent from England to have him
arrested and sent home; the Italian authorities obligingly caught him
and locked him up, refusing, with singular and gratuitous crookedness,
to yield him up to consular jurisdiction--and there he remained in
prison at Leghorn for six months, when he was at length handed over to
the Consul. Wright had, however, had enough of prison, and, upon giving
bail to answer the action in the High Court of Admiralty, he was set at
liberty.

The action appears to have dragged on for two or three years, without
result--at any rate, Captain Wright never refunded the money, and one
cannot help feeling gratified at his success. He wrote, in June 1749, a
long letter to the Consul in vindication of his right, which concludes
as follows: "They attacked me at law; to that law I must appeal; if I
have acted contrary to it, to it I must be responsible; for I do not
apprehend I am so to any agent of the Grand Signior, to the Grand
Signior himself, or to any other Power, seeing I am an Englishman and
acted under a commission from my prince"; surely a most logical, and
certainly a most dignified attitude.

Peace restored, Wright engaged in commerce, in partnership, apparently,
with William Hutchinson. They fitted out as a trader an old 20-gun
vessel--the _Lowestoft_--which made several voyages to the West
Indies--Wright continuing to reside at Leghorn.



CHAPTER X

FORTUNATUS WRIGHT--_continued_


In 1755 it became apparent that a renewal of hostilities between France
and England could not be long delayed; and the staunch little _Fame_ not
being again available, Wright had a vessel built for him at
Leghorn--quite a small vessel, which he named the _St. George_.

The Tuscan authorities were, however, in spite of declared neutrality,
very strongly in sympathy with France, and they did not regard Captain
Wright's little ship-building venture with any favour; in fact, they
instituted a minute supervision over all English vessels in the port,
and naturally, knowing his reputation, they paid particular attention to
Wright's little craft; and thereby they stimulated that sense of humour
which he had previously exhibited at Malta.

Humbly begging for precise information as to the force he was permitted,
as a merchant vessel, to take on board, he was informed, after some
deliberation, that he must limit himself to four small guns and a crew
of five-and-twenty, and the authorities kept a very sharp eye upon him
to see that he complied. Not in the least disconcerted, Wright
displayed the greatest anxiety not to exceed the limit, and even
suggested that guard-boats should be kept rowing round his ship, as a
precautionary measure; one would imagine that these Tuscan magnates
could have had but little sense of humour! Finally, before sailing,
Wright obtained from the Governor a certificate to the effect that he
had complied with all requirements.

Armed with this, he put to sea on July 28th, 1756, in company with four
merchant vessels, with valuable cargoes, bound for England. In their
anxiety to prevent any irregularities on board the _St. George_, the
port authorities had overlooked the lading of these vessels, which
carried a proper armament and a large accession of men for the former!

In spite of his astuteness, Wright nearly got into a mess; for the
authorities had apparently given timely notice to the French that
Wright's little squadron would be worth attention, and that he could
offer but a feeble resistance, and a vessel had been fitted out with the
express purpose of waylaying the _St. George_: those little incidents at
Malta had not been forgotten, we may be sure. This vessel, a large
zebeque--that is to say, a vessel with three masts, each carrying a huge
three-cornered sail, probably a fast sailer, and very efficient at
beating to windward--carried, according to _The Gentleman's Magazine_ of
August 1756, sixteen guns of considerable size, besides swivels and a
full supply of small arms, with a crew of 280 men. She had been waiting
off the port for some time, and her captain had been heard to ask in
Leghorn, "When is Captain Wright coming out? He has kept me waiting a
long time already." No wonder he was impatient, for it is said that the
French king had promised knighthood and a handsome pension for life to
the man who should bring Wright into France, _alive or dead_; while the
merchants of Marseilles had posted up "on 'Change" the offer of double
the value of Wright's vessel to her captor. Here were nice pickings,
indeed! And these offers afford in themselves a pretty good indication
of the Englishman's personality; he was, indeed, a terror to the enemies
of his country.

Sailing out from Leghorn in the hot summer weather, Wright had to make
what seamen term an offing, before he could set about transhipping his
guns and men; and before he had got half-way through with it, the
zebeque, bristling with cannon and crowded with men, was sighted,
bearing down with the confidence assured by vast superiority of force.

Fortunatus Wright saw her coming, and measured the decreasing distance,
calculating the time which remained for him to prepare with a cool and
critical eye, while his men worked like giants; and, when all was done,
he could mount but twelve guns, including the four pop-guns which he had
been permitted to ship in port: while his crew--a medley of half a dozen
nationalities, who had never worked together--numbered seventy-five all
told.

Hastily telling off his men to their stations, and leaving his four
traders lying to in a cluster, Wright made sail for the Frenchman; the
wind, we may conclude, must have been light or the latter would have
been down upon him before. And now the royal favour and comfortable
pension, the handsome donation from the Marseillaise merchants, must
have loomed very large in the eyes of the French skipper. Even
supposing, as would seem probable, that he was not altogether unaware of
the operations of the Englishman, his vastly superior force, with his
practised crew, should have placed the betting at three to one in his
favour; but the layer of such odds would have failed to reckon with the
forceful personality of Fortunatus Wright, which inspired his men with
the conviction that, odds or no, they must win. When men go into action
with that sort of spirit they invariably do win; nothing will stand
against them.

Handling his ship with his customary skill, Wright manoeuvred
repeatedly to the disadvantage of his antagonist, while his
rag-tag-and-bob-tail crew, standing to their guns with the utmost
intrepidity, poured in such a hot fire that the French captain speedily
realised that his only chance was to board and overwhelm the English by
superior numbers; but when he got alongside he found them quite as handy
with pikes and cutlasses as with guns, and a desperate minority, which
is not going to acknowledge itself beaten, soon daunts the hearts of a
superior force. The French were repulsed with great slaughter, and,
after some further attention from the guns of the gallant little _St.
George_, the enemy hauled off, and ran, having suffered such serious
damage as rendered their vessel almost unseaworthy. Wright followed,
but, seeing another Frenchman threatening his convoy, he returned to
their protection, sent them back into Leghorn, and anchored there
himself on the following day. According to the account in _The
Gentleman's Magazine_, the French ship lost her captain, lieutenant,
lieutenant of Marines, and 88 men killed and 70 men wounded.

No sooner had the gallant Wright cast anchor in Leghorn, than he
realised that he had landed in a nest of hornets. The authorities were
furious at the failure of their schemes, and the clever fashion in which
Wright had hoodwinked them. He was ordered to bring his vessel to the
inner harbour, or she would be brought in by force. He refused, and two
vessels of vastly superior force were placed alongside his. He appealed
to Sir Horace Mann, and there was a fine battle of words between him and
the Tuscans, the latter alleging that Wright had deceived them as to his
force, and had fought in their waters; and they were very angry also
that he should have dared to refuse to take his vessel inside the mole.
To all of which Sir Horace very properly replied that--well, that it was
a parcel of lies, though he put it in the language of diplomacy; and he
flourished the Governor's certificate in their faces, which made them
feel very sick indeed--having no sense of humour.

A couple of months elapsed without either side giving way; and then the
problem was solved by the appearance of two powerful English
men-of-war; to wit, the _Jersey_, of 60 guns, commanded by Sir William
Burnaby, and the _Isis_, of 50 guns. Sir William explained politely to
the authorities that he was under orders from the Admiral (Sir Edward
Hawke) to convoy any English vessels which might be there, and also to
release the _St. George_. To the Governor's protest the English captain
replied that he had his orders, and intended to carry them out, if
necessary, by force; and so the little fleet of English vessels took
their departure in a few days, and Wright was free to resume his
operations.

In a little while, having taken some more prizes, he put into Malta,
only to find that French influence was there as potent as at Leghorn. He
was not permitted to buy necessary stores for his crew, and when he took
on board a number of English seamen, who had been landed there from
ships taken by French privateers, he was compelled to send them on shore
again; and so he went to sea again, on October 22nd, 1756.

Twenty-four hours later a big French privateer, of 38 guns, sailed with
the intention of eating him up; but, according to the account of one
Captain Miller, of the English vessel _Lark_, "When the great beast of a
French privateer came out Wright played with him, by sailing round him
and viewing him, just to aggravate him, as Wright sailed twice as fast
as him."

Of the further exploits of Fortunatus Wright there is but little
definite account. Early in 1757 the Italian authorities, realising that
they had, by their duplicity and anti-English rancour, done their trade
an infinity of harm, undertook, on the representation of Sir Horace
Mann, to observe a strict neutrality in future; and thereupon Sir Horace
wrote to Wright that he might bring his prizes into Leghorn. But he was
compelled to rescind this permission; whatever else they might be
prepared to yield, they could not stomach Wright!

In July 1757, after lamenting the injury to trade caused by French
privateers, etc., Sir Horace Mann continues: "A few stout privateers, as
in the last war, would totally prevent this ... Captain Wright, of the
_St. George_ privateer, did great service of this kind in the beginning
of the war; but it is feared by some circumstances, and by his not
having been heard of for some months, that he foundered at sea. Several
prizes made by him have lain some months at Cagliari in Sardinia,
waiting for an opportunity to get with safety to Leghorn."

And so this great man disappears; his father's tombstone holds the
sentence already recorded, inscribed, no doubt, at the instigation of
his children; but neither filial piety nor national esteem could avail
to place the legend, "Here lies Fortunatus Wright." His place of rest
remains, "unmarked but holy." Mr. Smithers, in his "History of the
Commerce of Liverpool," says: "Tradition tells that he became a victim
to political interests." This is possible, for he was well hated, as is
usual, by those who had injured him; but it appears more probable that
he was lost at sea.

In connection with the career of this fine Englishman, it is impossible
to omit some reference to a romantic tale which appears in _The
Gentleman's Magazine_ for August 1757. The story is told, without
preface or explanation, as it is alleged to have been narrated by the
hero of the adventure, and evidently refers to a period ten or eleven
years previously to its publication, when the _Fame_ was afloat. It is,
as has been stated, a most romantic tale, but by no means an incredible
one: and the specific allusion to Fortunatus Wright, which renders it of
interest in this volume, also constitutes a certain guarantee of
genuineness.

Selim, the son of a Turkish grandee, on a voyage to Genoa, was captured
by a Spanish corsair, and eventually sold as a slave to a young Moor at
Oran, in Barbary. Here he suffered many cruel hardships, but after a
time there appeared upon the scene a beautiful girl, cousin to Selim's
master, and destined, according to family arrangements, to be his wife.
The lovely Zaida had, however, like other young women of all ages, her
own ideas about the sort of man she favoured. Being kind and pitiful by
nature, she exerted herself to mitigate the sorrows of her cousin's
slaves, discovered that Selim was of superior birth, and fell in love
with him. All this is told at great length; the upshot was that the
lovers escaped together, and got on board a French privateer, together
with a Swede, also a captive. Then they were informed that the privateer
"had orders to cruise near Malta, in order to take a bold Englishman
called Fortunatus Wright, and, if the winds would permit, we should be
landed in that island.... Ten days were passed before we obtained a
sight of Malta, ... when a signal was made for standing out to sea in
pursuit of a ship which, upon a nearer view, was found to be the very
privateer which the French captain had orders to take."

Then ensued a hot engagement, during which Selim remained below for some
time, consoling and encouraging his lady-love until the issue became
doubtful, when he felt impelled to take the Frenchman's part.

"Pretending to Zaida we were victorious, I sprang upon the deck, and,
observing that the English endeavoured to board us ahead, I slew the
first who attempted our deck, and, beckoning to the French to follow me,
leapt on board the enemy's ship, unseconded by any excepting my Swedish
fellow-captive, who, seeing me overpowered, leapt back and regained his
ship. Thus was I made a prisoner, and my fair Moor left a prey to all
the wretchedness of despair. After several vain attempts to board each
other, the two ships parted; the French steered towards France, and I
was carried into Malta. The good captain, whose prisoner I was,
observing my despondence, ordered me to be set free, though I had killed
one of his men; and when I informed him of my unhappy story, and my
resolutions to go in quest of Zaida, he gave me 100 guineas, and advised
me to sail for England; 'where, though I am unhappily exiled from it,
said he, 'you will be generously treated, and will hear the fate of the
French privateer.'"

Selim took this sound advice, backed by such a generous donation, and,
after a two months' voyage, arrived in England, where the first thing he
saw was the identical vessel in which his Zaida had been borne away from
him: she had been captured and sent home.

The officer in charge lent a sympathetic ear to Selim's tale of woe,
and, after some fruitless inquiries, "We landed at a fair town, on the
banks of a small river called Avon; and the captain, who had not drowned
his humanity in the rough element on which he traded, conveyed me to the
prison, where, after searching various apartments, at last I found my
fair, afflicted Zaida lying on the ground, with her head on the lap of
her women, and the Swede sitting near to guard her. As soon as she saw
me her voice failed her; I had almost lost her by an agony of
astonishment and joy as soon as I had recovered her. Hours were counted
ere she would believe her senses, and even days passed over us in which
she sat with a silent admiration, and even still doubts whether all is
real."

The reader is, of course, at liberty to share the doubts of the fair
Zaida; but it appears probable that the story is true with regard to the
main incidents.

The remark attributed to Wright--which it is scarcely possible to
imagine could have been invented by the narrator--that he was "unhappily
exiled" from England appears to point to some complications at home to
which there is no clue.

And so we must bid farewell to Fortunatus Wright, who, had he been an
officer in the Royal Navy, might certainly have rivalled some of our
most illustrious seamen in his exploits, and, in place of an unknown and
nameless grave, have found his last resting-place in Westminster Abbey.

William Hutchinson, already alluded to as Wright's subordinate and
subsequent partner, is justly entitled to some further notice. He was
born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1715, and commenced his sea-career at an
early age as "cook, cabin-boy, and beer-drawer for the men" on board a
collier. From this humble beginning he worked his way up, with varied
fortune and a full share of the hardships which were so frequently the
lot of seamen in those days. He was always apparently a strenuous,
conscientious, and courageous man, and attained immense skill as a
seaman. His first privateering experience was, as far as can be
gathered, under Wright in the _Fame_, when he conceived that profound
respect and admiration of his captain which is exhibited in his remarks,
already quoted. It was probably during this time that an incident
occurred which called for ready wit and pluck in order to avert
disaster, not to say disgrace. Hutchinson may have been in command of a
privateer at the time--1747--but it is more likely that he was with
Wright, and in charge of the deck; and there were a number of French
prisoners on board, the crews of three prizes, who were, perhaps
somewhat rashly, permitted to be on deck, with full liberty, all at one
time. Hutchinson had occasion--no doubt in connection with the scheme of
cruising already described--to take all the canvas off the ship, and,
having clewed up everything, he sent all his men aloft to furl sails.
While they were so employed he detected a movement among the prisoners
which appeared suspicious: one of the French captains was going about
among them, evidently inciting them to some concerted action; which,
with all the English crew aloft, might well have been entirely
successful. But they had not reckoned with the officer in charge. With
his hand in his pocket, clutching his pistol, but not exhibiting it so
as to precipitate violence, he approached the French captain, and
quietly told him that instant death was his portion on the smallest
evidence of any attempt to capture the ship; then, hailing his own men,
he bade them look sharp down from aloft, and the danger was averted in a
few minutes. Nothing save undaunted courage, combined with absolute
outward calm, could have saved the situation; had Hutchinson appeared
alarmed or flustered he would have been lost; and this incident, briefly
and modestly related by himself, affords a sure indication of his
character.

In 1757, after the war with France was renewed, Hutchinson was in
command of a fine privateer, the _Liverpool_, named after the port from
which she hailed, in which he made several successful cruises. We are
told that "he would not permit the least article to be taken from any of
the French prisoners," from which we may conclude that, as we should
expect of a man of his stamp, he was an honourable and strict privateer
commander, who was emphatically captain of his ship, and insisted upon a
high standard of duty.

One night he made a lamentable mistake. Continuing, after dark, the
chase of a vessel which had been previously sighted, and was believed to
be a French privateer, he came up with her and hailed her in _French_.
The only reply was a tremendous and well-directed broadside, which did
serious damage aloft, pierced the hull close to the water-line, and
wounded no fewer than twenty-eight of the crew. Captain Hutchinson
devoutly wished that he had stuck to his native tongue, instead of
airing his French, for the vessel turned out to be his Majesty's ship
_Antelope_!

Hutchinson did no more in the way of privateering after the year 1758.
In the following year he was appointed principal water-bailiff and
dockmaster of Liverpool, and held this post for nearly forty years. In
1777 he published a book entitled "A Practical Treatise on Seamanship,"
and justified--if it needed justification--this act by a verse under the
frontispiece (a vessel under full sail), whether original or a quotation
does not appear:

  Britannia's glory first from ships arose;
  To shipping still her power and wealth she owes.
  Let each experienced Briton then impart
  His naval skill to perfect naval art.

He was certainly well qualified for the task, and the work is very full
and complete, containing incidentally some yarns concerning his own
experiences, and practical hints upon sundry subjects, as, for instance,
the brewing of tea when at sea, without the common adjuncts of teapot,
cups and saucers, etc.: put the tea-leaves into a quart bottle, filled
with fresh water, and well corked up, and boil it in the ship's copper,
along with the salt beef! Whether the salt beef added to the virtue of
the "brew" we do not know; probably the gallant and hardy skipper was
"tannin-proof" inside!

Hutchinson was a religious man apparently, in a true sense, always
seeking to discharge his duties in accordance with the high standard
thus derived. It is related of him that, when his ship had
foundered--the date is not mentioned--upon one occasion, and he and some
of his shipmates were in danger of perishing through hunger and thirst,
they adopted the terrible device of drawing lots as to which of them
should die and furnish the remainder with this ghastly means of
prolonging life. The lot fell upon Hutchinson; but, before the horrible
act could be consummated, a sail appeared, and they were rescued.
Hutchinson, it is said, observed the anniversary of this day with strict
devotions of thanksgiving for the remainder of his life. Such
recognition was certainly due; but how many sailors would so faithfully
have rendered it?



CHAPTER XI

GEORGE WALKER


In the year 1745 some merchants of London fitted out three
privateers--the _Prince Frederick_, 28 guns, 244 men, commanded by
Captain James Talbot, who was in chief command; the _Duke_, of 20 guns,
150 men, Captain Morecock; and the _Prince George_, 20 guns, 134 men.
This little squadron sailed from Cowes on June 2nd, and on the 7th a
frightful disaster befell them, the _Prince George_, under circumstances
not explained, capsizing and going down. These vessels were very heavily
masted, and, if the weights were not carefully bestowed, a sudden squall
when under full sail, with, perhaps, the lee gun-ports open, might
easily be fatal. The unfortunate _Eurydice_, though of somewhat later
construction, was of this type of vessel, and, as will be remembered,
capsized off the Isle of Wight one Sunday afternoon, only two being
saved out of the whole crew.

The Commodore contrived to save some twenty men from his unhappy
consort; and then proceeded, with the _Prince Frederick_, to cruise
between the Azores and the banks of Newfoundland.

This cruise is remarkable for two things: its brevity and the richness
of the prizes captured.

On July 10th three sails were seen, bearing west, and the two privateers
immediately gave chase. These were the _Marquis d'Antin_, 450 tons, 24
guns, and 68 men, commanded by Magon Serpere; the _Louis Erasmé_, 500
tons, 28 guns, and 66 men, commanded by Pedro Lavigne Quenell; and the
_Notre Dame de Deliverance_, 300 tons, 22 guns, and 60 men, commanded by
Pedro Litant; all three hailing from St. Malo. They were now returning
from Lima; and little did Talbot and his men suspect the riches they
carried.

[Illustration: CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH ARMED SHIPS]

However, they chased, and the others kept their wind, paying little
heed. At seven o'clock Talbot fired a shot at them, upon which they
hoisted their colours and formed line. The _Duke_, to windward, attacked
first; Talbot afterwards engaged the _Marquis d'Antin_ for three hours,
when she struck, though the _Prince Frederick_ was for a while between
two fires, the _Louis Erasmé_ getting on her bow. When the _Marquis
d'Antin_ surrendered the other attempted to flee, but was caught and
captured. Meanwhile, Captain Morecock had been hotly engaged with the
_Notre Dame de Deliverance_, which, however, realising that her consorts
had struck, crowded sail and contrived to escape--the _Duke_ being
probably hampered by damage aloft.

The casualties were not heavy on either side, but the two French ships
were dismasted.

Reaching Kinsale on July 30th, the news of the immense value of the
prizes caused special care to be used; they were escorted to Bristol by
three men-of-war, and thence the treasure was conveyed to London in
forty-five waggons. This tremendous cavalcade made its way through the
city to the Tower, colours flying, bands playing, and a strong guard of
bluejackets marching with it.

The amount of treasure may be imagined from the fact that each seaman's
share came to £850; the officers, of course, receiving much larger sums,
in proportion to their rank. The owners' share was not less than
£700,000; and the Scottish rebellion--"the '45"--having just broken out,
they offered the money as a loan to the Government.

Captain Talbot is said to have behaved with great kindness and
generosity to his prisoners, permitting the officers to retain all their
valuables and their swords, and presenting each seaman with twenty
guineas when they were landed. The enemy, we are told, was most anxious
to ransom the ships, but this, of course, was out of the question; and
subsequently some of the crews revealed hiding-places in which
considerable treasure was stowed in the "linings," or double sides,
receiving a handsome present for their pains. Furthermore, in
overhauling the cargo, the British seamen every now and then came across
a "wedge of gold."

After this Commodore Talbot decided to remain on shore and enjoy his
fortune; he joined the body of merchants, who determined to fit out
another squadron, the command being entrusted to a man of remarkable
character, whose career as a privateer captain we shall now proceed to
trace.

Among eighteenth-century privateersmen there is no more honourable name
than that of George Walker. He was, of course, a contemporary of
Fortunatus Wright, and Sir William Laird Clowes, the eminent naval
historian, very truly remarks of these two men that they "did as much to
uphold British prestige at sea as any captains of the Royal Navy"; the
case might, indeed, be put in stronger language, for there were
unhappily a good many instances at this period, in which naval
commanders cut a somewhat sorry figure, and Walker himself, as we shall
see, was witness upon one occasion of a lack of zeal and enterprise--to
put it mildly--on their part which was in striking contrast to the
intrepidity and resource displayed by him upon every occasion.

Beyond casual, but invariably complimentary allusions in naval
histories, we should have known but little of George Walker, had it not
been for the industry of an ardent admirer, who served under him on
nearly all his cruises, and subsequently wrote an account of them. The
writer withholds both his name and his rank, and tells his story with
great simplicity, prompted solely by his admiration of his former chief,
and the desire of vindicating his name as a great seaman and a born
leader of men; for Walker was, at that time, in gaol for debt, owing to
some dispute with his owners, who do not appear to have treated him with
the generosity due to so faithful a servant. This is the sordid side of
privateering, which, as has been before remarked, is too much in
evidence; we need not, however, concern ourselves overmuch with the
question of George Walker's financial dealings with his principals; he
may, for all we know, have muddled his accounts, but we are prepared to
go bail for his honesty of intention. There is abundant evidence of his
character in this little book, and no one who reads it will entertain a
doubt as to his absolute integrity.

The narrator, in his Introduction, dwells much upon Walker's
unwillingness to have his exploits discussed or published. It was with
the utmost difficulty that he was persuaded to sanction the publication
of this book, and when, in accordance with his strict injunctions, the
copy was submitted for his approval before going to the printer, his
deletions disposed of nearly one-third of the matter; "at which," says
the writer, "I am not so much disobliged by the shortening of the
performance as at the loss of real truths which would have illustrated
the chief personage of my work. And though this account may speak to the
modesty of the gentleman himself, yet it is so far paradoxical that it
takes greatly from his merit.... I will only say of him herein, as Mr.
Waller does of good writers:

  Poets lose half the praise they would have got,
  Was it but known what they discreetly blot."

Nothing appears to be known of George Walker's birth and early training,
save that he served in the Dutch Navy, and was involved in some
engagement with, probably, Mediterranean pirates.

In 1739 he was commander and part owner of the ship _Duke William_,
trading to Gibraltar and South Carolina; and, with the view of being
able to defend himself in case of attack, he obtained a letter of
marque, and provided his vessel with twenty guns. His crew numbered only
thirty-two: but, with characteristic forethought and resource, he
shipped a quantity of seamen's clothing, in order, should occasion
arise, to rig up dummies; and this, according to his biographer, he
actually did on the approach of a Spanish privateer of superior force,
crowded with men: "setting up all the handspikes and other provided
utensils, and dressing them in the marine clothes, and also exercising
the boatswain's call in the highest notes, as is usual in king's ships."
This done, Walker proceeded to prepare for the grim realities of action,
should it be forced upon him, he and his crew, as they busied themselves
clearing away the guns, etc., going into fits of laughter at the
grotesque appearance of the row of dummies, standing stiff and
motionless amidships. All being ready, Walker, consistently maintaining
his game of bluff, fired a shot across the bows of the Spaniard, which
was to windward of him. This invitation to fight was not accepted, and,
though the Spaniard hung on for a couple of days, he eventually
disappeared; so we must suppose that the toy seamen and the boatswain's
whistle carried the day!

Arrived at his destination, Walker, while waiting for a cargo, offered
his services to the colonial authorities to put an end to the ravages of
two Spanish privateers, which were having it all their own way on the
coast of North Carolina. His crew was increased by nearly one hundred
men, and several gentlemen volunteered their services. The tidings of an
English privateer being abroad appears to have been enough for the
Spaniards: "We could fall in with nothing which would stay for us upon
the seas"; an English vessel was easily retaken from the enemy, a shore
battery destroyed, and there was no more trouble. Walker received a
tremendous ovation on the conclusion of this service, all the
influential persons in the colony offering to sign a request that he
might be given command of a king's ship. Upon his declining this, they
tendered him an immense piece of land if he would remain amongst them;
but Walker preferred to stick to his ship, and sailed for Barbadoes, and
thence for England, in company with three traders who placed themselves
under his convoy.

The vessels parted company in a gale, which blew with such violence that
the _Duke William_ started some of her planks, and leaked like a sieve.
Walker was laid up in his cabin, and was indeed so ill that the surgeon
despaired of his life. Things went on from bad to worse: all the guns
save two--retained for signalling purposes, by Walker's orders, issued
from his bunk--were thrown overboard; the boat was with difficulty
preserved from following them, Walker being carried up from below to
remonstrate and command; and when a section of the crew, despite his
orders, were preparing to desert in the boat--a very desperate
venture--a sail appeared; their signals were seen and heard, and she
bore down--then, evidently suspecting a ruse by an armed vessel, she
hastily hauled off. While the crew were gazing at one another in
despair, Walker coolly gave orders to cut away the mizzen-mast
instantly; after a momentary hesitation his order was obeyed, and the
meaning of it was immediately obvious. Another gun being fired, the
stranger, convinced by the crippled condition of the ship, returned to
the rescue, and proved to be no stranger, but one of their convoy. The
transhipment of Walker and his men was safely effected at immense risk,
and they reached home in a sorry plight, this vessel proving almost as
unseaworthy as the other. And there Walker was greeted with very
unwelcome tidings: he had lost his ship, and his agents had suffered the
insurance to lapse; he was a ruined man.

Before entering upon his distinguished career as a privateer captain
Walker commanded for eighteen months a vessel trading to the Baltic;
and, returning from his last trip in 1744, just after war was declared
against the French, he again most successfully adopted a policy of
"bluff." Having shipped a number of wooden guns, and otherwise disguised
his vessel, being chased off the coast of Scotland by a privateer, and
finding she had the heels of him, he tacked, hoisted ensign, jack, and
man-of-war's pendant, and fired a gun, as much as to say, "Come on; I'm
waiting!" The enemy did not wait, and Walker proceeded quietly upon his
homeward voyage.

In this same year, 1744, two fine vessels were equipped as privateers by
some London and Dartmouth owners, and Walker was offered command of the
_Mars_, of 26 guns and 130 men, her consort being the _Boscawen_, a
vessel of similar armament, but of larger tonnage and with a more
numerous crew.

When two days out from Dartmouth they encountered a French king's ship,
of force about equal to the _Boscawen_, and Walker, of course,
immediately engaged her, justly considering that, with his consort, he
would soon overpower her; indeed, he would have attacked had he been
cruising alone. The captain of the _Boscawen_, however, was quite a
different sort of man, with a strong dislike of hard knocks. Instead of
seconding Walker's attack, he held off out of range, letting drive once
or twice a futile shot, which dropped far short; so Walker was left to
fight alone, and after a severe tussle, he and the Frenchman parted,
both ships a good deal knocked about. While his crew were repairing
damages Walker went on board the _Boscawen_ to have a little talk with
her skipper--whose name is not mentioned--"but was never heard to throw
any censure publicly on his behaviour." Walker was always a gentleman,
and an instinctive disciplinarian. No doubt he gave the other, in
private, a slice of his mind, but, as we shall see, without any good
result.

A month later, in December, at midnight, with a fresh breeze and thick
rain, they suddenly found themselves close to two large vessels. They
could hear the people on board talking excitedly, in French, and
apparently in a state of alarm, and, judging from these signs that they
were treasure ships, Walker and his consort hung on their heels. At
eight o'clock next morning the weather cleared and the two strangers
were revealed as French men-of-war, the one of 74 and the other of 64
guns; which was exceedingly awkward for the two Englishmen. The
Frenchmen were, however, both treasure-ships as well as men-of-war,
being bound from the West Indies with cargoes valued at nearly four
millions sterling, were not in good fighting trim, and were very anxious
to get into Brest with their treasure, so it is quite probable that they
would have gone on their way and left the two privateers alone. The
captain of the _Boscawen_, however, did not wait to see what they would
do; directly he realised their force he crowded sail, and disappeared
from the scene without even a parting greeting to his consort; and,
seeing only one enemy left, and this a small one, the 64-gun ship--the
_Fleuron_--was sent in chase of the _Mars_, rapidly gaining upon her.
"Gentlemen," said Walker, "I do not mean to be so rash as to attempt a
regular engagement with so superior a force; all I ask of you is, to
confide in me and my orders, to get away, if possible, without striking;
and, be assured, I shall employ your assistance neither in revenge nor
vainglory, nor longer than I think it of use to our design. The ship
which pursues is certainly the best sailer of the enemy, by being
ordered to the chase; if, by good fortune, we bring down a topmast or
yard, or hurt her rigging so as to retard her pursuit, we may entirely
get clear."

So he hoisted his colours and opened fire with his stern guns, the
enemy replying with his bow-chasers by the space of over two hours. The
_Mars_, however, was not a brilliant sailer, and by this time the
74--the _Neptune_--had crept up, so that she was almost between two
fires. There was nothing for it but surrender. "Well, gentlemen," said
Walker, smiling, "we don't strike to one ship only--haul down the
colours!" And so he went on board the _Fleuron_ to surrender his sword
and his privateer commission. The French captain was not as polite as he
expected: "How dare you, sir," he asked, in excellent English, "in so
small a ship, fire against a force like me?"

"Sir," replied Walker, "if you will look at my commission you will find
I had as good a right to fight as you; and if my force had not been so
inferior to yours I had shown you more civil treatment on board my
ship"--which was a very good specimen of English politeness.

"How many men of yours have I killed?" demanded the Frenchman.

"None at all, sir." "Then, sir, you have killed six of mine, and wounded
several; you fired pieces of glass."

This preposterous accusation was, of course, denied; but it turned out
that some missiles of a very unusual nature _had_ been discharged from
the _Mars_. The captain of one of the stern guns, realising that they
must surrender, took about sixteen shillings from his pocket, saying
that "sooner than the French rascals should plunder him of all he had in
the world, he would first send it among them, and see what a bribe
would do." So he wrapped his shillings up in a rag, crammed them into
the gun, and sent them humming and whistling through the Frenchman's
rigging, which no doubt gave rise to the glass theory--neither Frenchmen
nor any one else could be expected to recognise the "ring" of a coin
under the circumstances! The facetious gunner was an Irishman.

Well, the _Mars_ was captive, while the _Boscawen_ had prudently
escaped; but this was not the end of the incident. The action took place
on a Friday, and at daybreak on Sunday morning four large ships were
sighted astern; it did not require a long period of observation to
realise that they were coming up pretty fast, and in a couple of hours
they were recognised as English men-of-war. Then the Frenchmen began to
regret that they had stopped to capture the privateer, instead of making
the most of their way homeward with their treasure, which now appeared
almost inevitably destined to become English treasure.

The captain of the _Fleuron_--who by this time had learned that his
prisoner, though only captain of a privateer, was worthy of
respect--discoursed to Walker in some bitterness on this subject, and
added: "It is seldom any great accident happens from single causes, but
by a chain or series of things; thus, if we be here overcome, our loss
will be owing to the waspishness of a single frigate, which would not
cease fighting so long as it had a sting in its tail"--a remark which,
if somewhat bitter, was appreciative.

The English squadron gained steadily, and the French officer in charge
of the _Mars_ put his helm up and ran to leeward, hoping to draw off
one of the ships after him; in which he was successful, the _Captain_, a
70-gun ship, giving chase, and eventually recapturing the _Mars_.

The other three ships were the _Hampton Court_, 70 guns, and the
_Sunderland_ and _Dreadnought_, each of 60 guns. The _Sunderland_ lost a
spar, and dropped astern, but the other two were nearly alongside the
French ships by sunset, the _Dreadnought_, a poor sailer, being somewhat
astern.

The French captain thereupon, seeing an action inevitable, politely
requested Walker and his officers to go below. "Sir," said Walker, "I go
off with great pleasure on the occasion, as I am now certain of my
liberty; and I hope to have the satisfaction of seeing you again in
being."

He was not destined, however, to regain his liberty so easily, for these
naval captains, what with faulty tactics and absolute want of zeal and
enterprise, entirely bungled the whole business, and permitted the
French ships to escape, treasure and all. The _Captain_ was commanded by
Captain Thomas Griffin, senior officer of the squadron, who detached
himself to chase the _Mars_, and gave, as an excuse, when he was tried
by court-martial, that he thought the _Mars_ was the only man-of-war,
and the two larger vessels her convoy. The court apparently accepted
this flimsy story--although the _Captain_ was nearer than the other
ships, and no one else had any such notion--but the Service generally
did not.

Captain Savage Mostyn, of the _Hampton Court_, hung about the French
ships without firing a shot, waiting for the _Dreadnought_ to come up,
instead of endeavouring to disable them aloft; and he also cut an
extremely sorry figure at the court-martial; but his lame and almost
incredible excuses were accepted. He was acquitted, and said to have
"done his duty as an experienced good officer, and as a man of courage
and conduct." There seemed to be a determination to let off everybody
just then; but the public did not let off Mostyn, for when he sailed
from Portsmouth a year later, still in command of the _Hampton Court_,
it was to the cry of "All's well! There's no Frenchman in the way!"

Now, it is a sad thing to have to say all this of naval commanders; and
still more humiliating to reflect that, had George Walker,
master-mariner and privateer skipper, been in command of that squadron,
no such fiasco would have occurred; but this is most undoubtedly true.
Walker would have had those French treasure ships had he been in command
of the _Hampton Court_, as surely as he was then a prisoner on board one
of them, watching with shame and disgust the paltry tactics of his
countrymen, and compelled subsequently to listen to the boastful and
disparaging comments of the Frenchmen.

Arrived at Brest, the Englishmen had no cause to complain of their
treatment. Walker had by this time so ingratiated himself with the
captain of the _Fleuron_, that the latter acceded to his request that
the crew of the _Mars_ might be landed at once, on the day after their
arrival, and might receive every possible consideration until they
could be exchanged; and he resisted strenuously Walker's request that he
might go and see personally to the comfort of his men, begging to know
in what he had fallen short, to be thus deprived of his esteemed
company. Walker politely insisting, the French captain gave him a most
flattering letter of introduction to the Governor, who liberated the
English captain and all his officers on parole, and treated them
handsomely in every respect.

They left the _Fleuron_ none too soon. On the following day, while
Walker was in the act of writing to the captain to beg him to send him
his letter of credit, which was in a tin box with his commission, people
came running in crying that the _Fleuron_ had blown up. It was, indeed,
too true; and the catastrophe was entirely due to the gross carelessness
of the gunner, who, landing the powder, left some four or five barrels
in the magazine for saluting purposes, and did not even have the loose
powder, spilt in emptying the cartridges, swept up under his own eye.
Some stupid fellows, engaged afterwards in this work, took a decrepit
old lantern down with them; the handle broke, the flame ignited the
loose powder, and that was the end of the _Fleuron_; she burnt to the
water's edge, and then went down, treasure and all; and the guns having
been left loaded--it seems almost incredible, but we have the account of
an eye-witness--kept going off at intervals, preventing the approach of
boats, etc., which might have saved many of the crew. Walker had to
mourn the loss of his friend, the courteous and generous captain, and
also that of his letter of credit--a serious temporary inconvenience.

We must not dwell in detail upon the sojourn of Walker and his crew in
France. Their exchange was arranged in a few weeks, Walker, by his
courage, tact, and ability smoothing over every difficulty as it arose,
and making many friends in the process. Indeed, the simple and
straightforward account by the narrator of his cheerful and undaunted
bearing under sundry incidental trials which arose, from lack of means,
etc., fills one with admiration of the man. They arrived at Weymouth on
February 28th, 1745, and Walker lost no time in reporting himself to his
owners at Dartmouth, who, though they had heard, through the recaptured
_Mars_, of his whereabouts, and had sent him fresh letters of credit,
scarcely expected him so soon.

The _Mars_ being repurchased, the two vessels were again fitted out for
a cruise, the very cautious captain of the _Boscawen_ being replaced by
Walker's first lieutenant, who, however, was placed in command of the
_Mars_. Walker selected the _Boscawen_ as his own command, as being the
finer vessel and the better sailer; she was a French-built ship, a prize
in the last war, mounting 28 nine-pounders. Walker increased her
armament to 30 guns, twelve and nine-pounders, and shipped a crew of 314
men. Thus she was, as the writer says, "perhaps the most complete
privateer ever sent from England"; but she was not as good as she
looked, and Walker had cause afterwards to regret that he had increased
her weights, for she was structurally what an English shipwright would
describe as a "slopped" ship; cheaply built, and inefficiently fastened.

However, she was good enough for some brilliant work, with her able
skipper and an enthusiastic crew, in the shipping of which there had
been a passage of arms between Walker and one Taylor, captain of an
Exeter privateer then fitting out, who found Walker in such favour that
he could not obtain a full crew; so he had recourse to some very
underhand devices to decoy the _Boscawen's_ men, one of whom, with
address worthy of his captain, led him into a trap and made a complete
fool of him, eventually taking nearly all the men he had succeeded in
shipping to make up the _Boscawen's_ crew; while Captain Walker
interviewed the owner--whose brother he had been instrumental in getting
exchanged in France--and told him what he thought of him and his
methods--and no one could talk straighter then Walker, when he found it
necessary. There were some very amusing incidents in connection with
these doings, which, however, must be omitted for lack of space; we must
get to sea again.

Without waiting for the _Mars_, Walker put to sea on April 19th, 1745,
and a month later fell in with the privateer _Sheerness_, Captain
Parnell, and kept company during the night. At daybreak, being then
fifty miles west of the Lizard, they sighted eight vessels, evidently in
company, and gave chase. The _Boscawen_ left the other astern, and about
nine o'clock the enemy formed line, and were soon made out to be armed
vessels, awaiting attack. This was odds enough to discourage most men,
and the _Sheerness_ being hopelessly astern, no one imagined that Walker
intended engaging, though all preparation was made for action.

Reading some suspense and anxiety in the faces of his officers, Walker
called them together and addressed them: "Gentlemen, I hope you do not
think the number of prizes before us too many. Be assured, by their
being armed, they have something on board them worth defending; for I
take them to be merchantmen with letters of marque, and homeward bound.
Without doubt we shall meet with some opposition, in which I have not
the least doubt of your courage; but I see we must here conquer also by
a mastership of skill. Be cool, and recollect every man his best senses;
for, as we shall be pressed on all sides, let every man do his best in
engaging the enemy he sees before him, and then one side need not fear
nor take thought for the other. In a word, gentlemen, if you give me
your voice for my leading you on, I pawn my life to you, I will bring
you off victorious."

Was ever a more masterly speech from a chief to his subordinates? But
one reply was possible; the men went to their quarters and the
_Boscawen_ sailed on into the thick of the enemy's line, strict orders
being issued that, whatever fire they might receive, not a shot was to
be returned until the captain gave the word. There were, unfortunately,
sixty men sick, and these, with the exception of three, crawled on deck
to render what assistance they could, or at least to see the fun.

Steering straight for the largest vessel, though already considerably
damaged aloft by the fire of the others, Walker delivered his broadside,
and then the enemy got round him, two on either side, one ahead and one
astern; the other two apparently decamped, and took no part in the
action. The ship astern, after attempting to rake the _Boscawen_, was so
roughly handled by her stern guns that she hauled off, and struck her
colours. The fight was continued with the remaining five for the space
of an hour; and the writer asserts that it was maintained on board the
_Boscawen_ without any confusion or disorder, the men, under the
officers' orders, banging away at whatever happened to be in front of
their guns, "without fear or thought for the others." The flagship
struck, and sank ten minutes later; the remaining four stuck to it,
hoping yet to subdue the sorely battered _Boscawen_; but Walker's men
remembered his pledge to them, and were resolved that he should not be
stultified. In another half-hour every flag was down, and the
_Sheerness_, at length coming up, chased and captured one of the
runaways; so the "bag" was one sunk and six captured.

The enemy is stated to have had 113 killed and drowned, while the
_Boscawen's_ casualties amounted only to one killed and seven wounded.
The writer ascribes this comparative immunity to a protection, a raised
bulwark, "man-high," of elm planking, which Walker had caused to be
erected, with a step on which the marines could mount to fire, and stand
down to load; and he says the elm did not splinter, but kept out
bullets, and closed up round the holes made by shot. With due allowance
for this, however, the Frenchmen must have made very wretched practice;
they were probably unpractised and undisciplined merchant crews; but it
was a brilliant affair. The vessels were all homeward bound "Martinico
men," as Walker had surmised, provided with letters of marque.

An old lady, a person of some distinction, a passenger in the
commodore's ship, was picked up, floating about on a bale of cotton; she
did not know how she had got there. The commodore was also rescued, and
Walker gave them the use of his cabin, and fitted out the old lady with
"a silk nightgown, some fine linen waistcoats, cambric night-caps, etc.,
in which she appeared a kind of hermaphrodite in dress"; a droll figure,
indeed! But a privateer skipper can scarcely be expected to be provided
with requisites for such an occasion. The poor old lady had a tragic
tale to tell, for her daughter, a young girl, went down with the ship;
and her account of the scene between decks, where she and her daughter
retired during the action, is ghastly enough: "Hither they brought the
poor bleeding sailors, one after another, without legs, without arms,
roaring with their pains, and laid in heaps to be butchered anew by the
surgeon, in his haste and despatch of cure or death. Here several of the
objects died at our feet. Thus surrounded by the ghastly prospect, all
at once death himself came breaking in upon us, through the side of the
ship; cut down the surgeon and one of his mates, and shattered the whole
medicine-chest in pieces. Here was a total suspension of all relief to
the poor wounded wretches; death coming, as it were, to reinforce his
own orders and stop every means or effort to prevent him."

Arrived with his shattered vessel and equally dismantled prizes at
King's Road, Bristol, Walker, reporting proceedings to the Admiralty,
received a handsome congratulatory letter from the Secretary.

Sailing once more in July, Walker captured in August a vessel, the
_Catharina_, which he subsequently bought as a tender, naming her the
_George_; and in the following month he found himself, as was so often
the case in privateers, at loggerheads with his crew over a vessel--a
Dutchman--which he overhauled, and, being satisfied that her cargo was
not contraband, dismissed her. The crew, after grumbling among
themselves, assembled on deck while Walker was at supper, demanding to
see him.

He and his officers armed themselves and went on deck, and faced the
three hundred angry men, who required to know why the Dutchman was not
good prize. Walker's reply was admirable: "This is not the way to ask
me. I am willing that the meanest man in the ship shall be satisfied of
my conduct, but I will give that satisfaction in my own way, and not be
called to account by you. I am sorry, indeed, that it should ever be
said of me that I was obliged to take up arms against my own people, in
defence of conduct which can be so easily supported by words only. It
will be a pain to me to reflect upon it, as long as I live, and a blot
on the character I imagined I had gained. I am very willing to explain
to you what rights we have over Dutch vessels, but I shall choose my own
time for doing it; and every man who does not instantly separate to his
duty, when I give the word, I shall treat him as an associate in a
mutiny."

Two of the men called out that it would be too late to explain when the
chase was out of sight. "Bring those men aft, and put them in irons,"
said Walker; and he was obeyed. Next morning he gave them a lecture on
prize law and discipline, to which they listened in all submission.



CHAPTER XII

GEORGE WALKER--_continued_


It was towards the end of this year--1745--after a visit to
Madeira--where some of the crew got into trouble over a very foolish
practical joke, putting a handful of soot in the holy-water fount at a
church door--and a short cruise off the Azores, that Walker and his men
were called upon to face death in a new form: not amidst the interchange
of cannon-shot, the rattle of musketry, the clash of steel, but the
gradual encroachment of the sea in a desperately leaky ship, threatening
day by day to engulf them.

It was upon this occasion that George Walker displayed the noblest
qualities, and by his fortitude, tact, and unwearying exertions kept the
ship afloat and saved the lives of all on board.

The story is a thrilling one. The beginning of disaster was on November
12th, when the _Duke of Bedford_ privateer had been for some days in
company, and some hard gales had been experienced, the wind again
increasing to a gale upon this day, with heavy rain. The mainyard, which
should have been held aloft in its place by chain-slings, had been left,
through carelessness, hanging by the tackle which was used to raise and
lower it--termed the "geers"--and, upon the men being sent up to furl
the mainsail, the strap supporting the upper block gave way, and the
yard--the heaviest in the ship--came down, with all the men upon it.
Strangely enough, no one was injured or thrown overboard; but the
narrator alleges that the shock of the yard falling shook up the ship,
so as to open some of her joints. It may as well be pointed out, for the
information of the non-professional reader, that no such result had any
right to ensue in a ship with any pretension to being decently built;
the utmost damage should have been, perhaps, broken bulwarks, and
probably some injury to the spar itself. However, whether by coincidence
or from the vessel being really so shaky, she commenced, after this, to
make water too freely, and two days later alarmingly, so that two pumps
constantly going would scarcely keep her clear. The wind and sea
increased, the ship laboured more and more, her planks working and seams
opening everywhere. She was then off the Azores, some fifteen hundred
miles from the Land's End, and Walker steered a course for the south of
Ireland, intending to finish the cruise in those waters. On the 17th,
however, the water increased enormously, and the officers, thoroughly
alarmed, signed a petition to Walker to make for the nearest port. After
some discussion, and a most disheartening report from the carpenter, he
gave his consent, reminding them that his honour and his duty to the
owners obliged him to speak every ship he sighted; and recommending
them to endeavour in every way to encourage the crew and keep their
spirits up.

Vain endeavour! a day or two of constant pumping revealed the fact that
all the power available would not keep the water under, and a large
number of men had to be kept incessantly baling--dipping up the water in
buckets from the hold, passing it from hand to hand, and emptying it on
the deck, upon which the pumps also discharged, so that the scuppers
would scarcely suffice to keep the deck free; water below, water on
deck, and a winter gale howling through the rigging, the ship labouring
and lurching helplessly under reduced canvas. Almost mechanically the
weary crew took their turns at pumping, baling, handling the ship;
despair began to grow upon them, and, after a week of toil and slow
progress, it came to Walker's knowledge, through some men whom he could
trust, that there was a plot to seize the arms, take the boats by force,
with as many as they would hold, and leave the rest to perish. He
responded with a counter-mine. At a given signal the officers, already
disposed near where the arms were kept, suddenly threw every weapon
overboard, except a sufficient number to arm themselves, thus turning
the tables upon the astonished conspirators, who now imagined that they
would receive the treatment they had designed for others; but Walker,
humane and sympathetic as he was brave, did not speak an angry word to
them: "I sincerely forgive you your folly and rashness," he said, "which
came rather from your fears than from deliberate disobedience. If you
will now exert yourselves, and stick to the pumping and baling, we
shall save the ship; if not, we go to the bottom. And remember, that I
have now the power to provide for myself and the officers alone, as you
would so selfishly have done for yourselves; but if you stick to us, we
will stick to you, to the last."

The crowd of rough, sea-soaked, half-starved, wearied men, swaying on
the slippery deck with the motion of the ship, had no words in which to
reply to such a speech. Some of them were moved to tears, and when, as
an earnest of their goodwill, one or two called for cheers for the
captain, their voices, mingled with the dismal howling of the wind and
the ominous sound of water surging about below, rang so quavering and
feeble, that Walker turned aside to conceal his own emotion.

From that time forward he never left the deck, nor lay down for a week,
sleeping as he stood, leaning on the rail.

Every eye was turned to that solitary, dauntless figure. Never a sign of
fear or yielding did he show, and when he spoke words of encouragement
as they toiled at the pumps, they would look up at him, some with a
murmur of blessing and admiration, some with tears in their eyes.

Already six guns had been thrown overboard; in a few days, the gale
increasing, nearly all the remainder followed. The anchors were cut
away, and also some spars which were superfluous in such a gale; the
sails were split by the violence of the wind, the rigging gave out, the
masts swaying and threatening to go by the board, and never a sail
appeared: not even a foe of superior force, which they would have
welcomed in their dire extremity.

At length the word was beginning to be passed about that it was useless
any longer to toil at the pumps. Nothing could save the ship, and the
lassitude of despair was settling down upon them. The officers began to
share the despondency of the crew, and Walker, looking round for those
with whom he would consult, missed them: they had gone below to take
eternal leave of one another.

Calling a seaman, Walker sent him aloft, with orders to cry "A sail!"
and then, sending for the drummer, he bade him beat to quarters.

Sudden animation ran through the ship. The men paused in their labour,
looking round the horizon; the officers ran on deck, and closed round
the captain: "Sir, do you think of engaging?" asked one. "Yes, sir,"
replied Walker, in a low voice. "When I see an enemy so near--your own
fears, which attack the hearts of all my other men. I am willing to take
my greater part of duty, but you leave too much to my share."

Ashamed, they endeavoured to emulate his fortitude, and this desperate
ruse procured another respite from despair, and a night of renewed
vigour at the pumps, in the hope of rescue in the morning. But there was
no sail, and, though the wind had abated, despair returned; Walker
assured them positively that they would sight land next day, and thus
induced them to turn to once more, though he was by no means confident
that his word would come true: and when a man ran aft in a sudden panic,
or sent by others to tell the news, crying that the ship was just about
to sink, his patience gave way for a moment, and he floored the
scaremonger with a blow of his fist. "You lie, you villain!" he said;
"she told me otherwise, as she rose on that last sea!"

But it was over at last. On the following day the coast of Cornwall was
sighted, and in the afternoon the battered and water-logged _Boscawen_
ran into St. Ives. Anchorless, she drifted helplessly, and, in spite of
the efforts of the Cornish boatmen, swept past the pier and grounded on
a rocky beach, where she instantly parted, her masts falling every way.
All the crew save four were got on shore in safety: Walker remained to
see the sick got out of the cabin window, telling his men not to mind
about him, as he would presently swim on shore; but two of the townsmen,
who had probably heard from some of the seamen what sort of hero was in
danger of perishing on the wreck, came out and brought him off.

And that is the story of how George Walker, by sheer undaunted courage
and force of will and example, kept his ship afloat and saved his own
and over three hundred lives from a horrible end in mid-ocean: the
noblest victory he ever won.

When he presented himself before his owners they received him, says the
writer, "with marks of esteem, and a joy equal to what had been the
claim of the best success." One of the first questions Mr. Walker asked
was, whether they were insured? The answer was, "No, nor ever would be
in a ship where he commanded"--a remark which, while exceedingly and
intentionally complimentary to the gallant Walker, scarcely represents a
sound commercial attitude.

Walker's next command was a much more important one, for he was, as
already stated, placed in charge of a squadron of privateers, all named
after royal personages, and known collectively as "The Royal Family
Privateers." The vessels were fitted out at Bristol, and were named:

                                               Guns.      Men.
  _King George_, George Walker, Commodore      32         300
  _Prince Frederick_, Hugh Bromedge, Captain   26         260
  _Duke, Edward Dottin_, Captain               20         260
  _Princess Amelia_, Robert Denham, Captain    24         150
                                              ---         ---
                                              102         970

A formidable force, under such a commander. The _Prince Frederick_,
however, got aground in the Bristol Channel, and was compelled to put
back and dock: so the three others set forth in company at the beginning
of May 1746, and had only been a week at sea when they encountered three
French line-of-battle ships, from which Walker escaped in the dark by
the ruse of leaving a lantern floating in a cask, while he extinguished
all lights and altered his course; but the _Princess Amelia_ parted
company and eventually put into Lisbon.

A little later, at Safia, on the coast of Morocco, having chased a small
French vessel into the bay, Walker determined to cut her out that night
with his boats--an operation not often undertaken by privateers, though
numerous feats of the most daring description have been performed in
this connection by the Navy. Walker considered, however, that he and
his men were fully capable of planning and executing such an
enterprise, and, having given detailed directions, he despatched three
boats under the command of Mr. Riddle, his second lieutenant, on this
dangerous service, about midnight. As is frequently the case with such
undertakings, the original plan had to be modified, and they found the
Frenchmen very much on the alert. The lieutenant in command was very
severely wounded immediately, but nothing would stop Walker's men, and,
after a tussle, they carried the vessel and brought her out in triumph.
As she was a smart little craft Walker made her a tender in place of the
_Princess Amelia_, naming her _Prince George_ and putting his first
lieutenant, John Green, in command. Mr. Green, we are told, would have
been sent in charge of the cutting-out expedition, but that he had
expressed the opinion that it would be better to wait until daylight.
"Sir," says Mr. Walker, "though I have no reason to doubt your prowess,
yet I never will send a man upon an expedition to which he has any
objection." He gave him the command, however, of the new tender,
displaying his customary fairness of dealing with all his subordinates.

During this eight months' cruise "The Royal Family" made some valuable
prizes and put into Lisbon with more than £220,000 to the good, and
without a single man having been killed.

Having overhauled and refitted his ships--now increased to six in number
by the addition of the _Prince George_ and the _Prince Edward_, a vessel
purchased at Lisbon--Walker put to sea again on July 10th, 1747 and in
October following occurred the most remarkable action in which he was
concerned. He had, before this, lost one of his squadron, the _Prince
Edward_, by a very extraordinary accident. Crowding sail to come up with
her consorts, being astern, she was suddenly observed to reel, and
immediately foundered, going down stern first. The survivors--her
captain and two men only--stated that the mainmast had slipped out of
the "step" in the bottom of the ship--or more probably had displaced the
step by the strain upon it--and the heel of the mast had gone through
her bottom, the mast, with all the sails set, falling over the stern.

On October 6th the squadron had been watering in Lagos Bay--that same
harbour in which we saw Bernard D'Ongressill so scurvily treated by the
Portuguese nearly five hundred years previously--and the _King George_
and _Prince Frederick_, coming out about five o'clock in the morning,
leaving the _Princess Amelia_ still at anchor, saw a large sail standing
to the northward. Walker made the signal to chase, and sent a small
vessel, a recent prize, into the anchorage to hurry up the _Princess
Amelia_. The _Duke_ and _Prince George_, having completed their watering
earlier, were in sight; but, after chasing for about an hour, for some
unexplained reason discontinued--or could not get up.

The chase, seeing she was likely to be hemmed in by the two nearest
ships, kept away to the westward, making all sail; and Walker, with his
two ships, chased her until noon, when the _King George_ was nearly up
with her, the _Prince Frederick_ some distance to the southward. They
had not yet disclosed each other's nationality, but Walker realised by
this time that the stranger was a very big ship, and he was within
gunshot of her, practically alone; and then it suddenly fell a flat
calm, and the chase, hoisting her colours, ran out her guns, disclosing
herself as a 74-gun ship. The colours, however, hung down in the calm,
and it was impossible to tell whether they were Spanish or
Portuguese--for the two ensigns were very similar at that time, though
they are not so now. After about an hour, during which the _Prince
Frederick_ could get no nearer, and Walker and his big opponent were
eyeing each other curiously, the latter ran in her lower deck guns, and
closed the ports. This looked as though she was a treasure ship,
unwilling to fight if she could avoid it; and, as a matter of fact, she
was just that; only she had already--after being chased by some English
men-of-war--landed her treasure, to the value of some three millions
sterling, at Ferrol, and was on her way to Cadiz. However, seeing her
somewhat shy, Walker's officers and men were all for fighting; and when
a light breeze sprang up about five o'clock, and the big ship again made
sail on her original course, the _King George_ at once continued the
chase, leaving the _Prince Frederick_, which did not get the breeze so
soon, yet further astern.

At eight o'clock, in bright moonlight, Walker was within speaking
distance, cleared for action, his men lying down at their quarters. He
hailed in Portuguese: no reply. Then he hailed in English, asking her
name; in reply, she asked his name, also in English. "The _King
George_!" replied Walker, and then came a thundering broadside,
dismounting two guns and bringing down the maintopsail yard. Walker's
men were on their feet and had their broadside in in a few seconds; and
then this ridiculously uneven contest went on, the huge Spanish
ship--her name, the _Glorioso_--towering above the other, and both
letting drive with guns and small arms for all they were worth. Why the
_King George_ was not sunk it is impossible to say. The chronicler of
the fight says that the Spaniards did not manage to fire their
broadsides regularly but only a few guns at a time, while the _King
George's_ men got theirs in with great precision and regularity, and
also maintained a very hot fire of musketry, under the control of the
Captain of Marines.

This desperate conflict was maintained for three hours, at close
range--so close at times that some burning wadding from the Spaniard's
guns set fire to the _King George's_ mainsail. The incident, as Sir John
Laughton remarks, was unique in naval warfare; there have been instances
in which a vessel of vastly inferior force has contrived to maim or
delay her big antagonist until assistance arrived, and so to contribute
very materially to her capture, advantage being taken of superior speed
and handiness, or circumstances of wind and sea, and so on; but for a
vessel of the _King George's_ size to maintain a close ding-dong action
with a 74-gun ship, in fine weather, for this space of time is entirely
unprecedented. Had Walker been in command of a king's ship, he would
certainly have been held blameless if he had run away; but running away,
even from a vastly superior force, was not, as we have seen, a
proceeding which found any favour in the eyes of George Walker; and
there was, of course, the strong inducement of the assumed treasure,
which, after all, was not there.

The writer attributes their immunity from destruction and their trifling
casualties--one killed and fifteen wounded--partly to the very closeness
of the action, the Spanish ship's shot not hitting the hull; and also,
to the fact that, probably from the overloading of the guns with several
shot, in the hope of knocking a huge breach in the _King George's_ side,
the shot came with such reduced force that, when they hit, they did not
penetrate. Walker's device of high bulwarks of elm planking, before
alluded to, he likewise considers had a share in their miraculous
salvation.

[Illustration: ACTION BETWEEN THE SPANISH 74-GUN SHIP "GLORIOSO" AND THE
"KING GEORGE" AND "PRINCE FREDERICK" OF THE "ROYAL FAMILY" PRIVATEERS]

Walker, he says, "fought and commanded with a calmness almost peculiar
to himself"; and his high example conduced to order and discipline even
in the thickest of the fight. When the mainsail was set on fire he
ordered some hands aloft to extinguish it, and when another man was
somewhat officiously following, he called him down. "I have sent men
enough aloft for the business, in my opinion; if they fail in their
duty, I'll send for you"; such an episode, in the thick of a terrible
engagement, is significant, indeed, of calmness and absolute
self-possession, which is heroic in its measure.

The action was fought, we are told, so close under Cape St. Vincent that
the castle on the Cape repeatedly fired upon the combatants, "as a
neutral power commanding peace"; in other words, as a protest against
the action being fought in Portuguese waters, within gunshot of the
coast.

By half-past ten the _Prince Frederick_ came up to the assistance of her
consort. At this time the _King George_ had received so much damage
aloft, that there was no choice but to remain, for she could not have
run away. "All our braces and maintopsail yard were shot away, the
foremast quite disabled, and the mainmast damaged. We could not work our
ship, and bravery became now a virtue of necessity."

There was no mention of striking the colours, however; and half an hour
later the _Glorioso_ desisted from action, and retired from the field.
When, at daybreak, Captain Dottin, of the _Prince Frederick_, came on
board, his first inquiry was as to whether the commodore was alive;
then, seeing the ship's company so nearly intact, and his friends among
the officers unhurt, he embraced the gallant commodore in the enthusiasm
of his joy and admiration.

Despatching the _Prince Frederick_, with the _Duke_ and _Prince George_,
in pursuit of the enemy, Walker set to work to refit; and then a fresh
alarm arose, for a large sail was seen approaching from the eastward.
She proved, however, to be a friend, the _Russell_, an 80-gun ship, and
Walker lost no time in acquainting her captain with the state of
affairs.

Helpless in his dismantled vessel, Walker watched with his glass the
progress of the chase, his own three vessels nearing the Spaniard, with
the giant _Russell_ crowding sail to join them; but he could not account
for a fourth vessel which now seemed to be in the fight.

The headmost ship, apparently the _Prince Frederick_, now engaged the
Spaniard hotly, and Walker, speaking his thoughts aloud to his officers,
deplored her captain's unwariness in not waiting for the others to come
up; for Dottin was blazing away for all he was worth, and Walker's
experience immediately suggested a new danger. "Dottin will fire away
all his cartridges at too great a distance, and afterwards be obliged to
load with loose powder, by which some fatal accident may happen."

Scarcely had he spoken, keeping his glass upon the vessel, when
simultaneously with the discharge of a broadside a pillar of smoke and
flame shot up. "Good heavens, she's gone!" cried Walker. "Dottin and all
his brave fellows are no more!" One of the officers suggested that it
was merely the smoke of her last broadside. "It's a dreadful truth you
tell," replied Walker, still looking through his glass, "for 'tis the
last she will ever give!" And when the smoke cleared away there was no
ship to be seen! This terrible incident so affected the ship's company
that Walker called the officers aside into the companionway in order to
admonish them that they must keep up an air of cheerfulness before the
men, who might otherwise be backward in fighting; and while he spoke
there was a series of sudden explosions, mingled with cries of alarm.
Running out on deck, they found the crew in a panic, some clinging
outside the ship, others climbing out on the bowsprit, in readiness to
jump overboard when the ship should blow up. The alarm was caused by a
seaman stepping upon a number of loaded muskets, which were covered
with a sail, and firing one off, which quickly set the others going,
some spare ammunition also exploding; bullets were flying about, the
sail was on fire, and the men could not be persuaded to quit their
temporary refuge, so completely scared were they by this sudden din,
following closely upon the tragic occurrence they had just witnessed.
The captain and officers extinguished the fire, assisted by the
chaplain--"a very worthy gentleman"--apparently of the same type as that
excellent parson described in "Midshipman Easy," who rendered such
material assistance under similar circumstances, and was anxious to
ascertain afterwards whether he had allowed his tongue too free play for
one of his cloth; he had, but Jack Easy consoled him. "Indeed, sir, I
only heard you say, 'God bless you, my men; be smart,' and so on."

Well, the _Russell_, aided by "The Royal Family," captured the Spaniard,
of course, though she made a more stubborn fight than they expected, and
the _Russell_ was very short of men. The _King George_, however, had no
decisive news on the subject for some days, when, encountering their
consort, the _Duke_, what was the joy on board upon learning that the
_Prince Frederick_ was safe and sound! The vessel which so unhappily
blew up was the _Dartmouth_, a frigate which had come up, hearing the
guns, to see the fun. Only seventeen of her crew were picked up by the
_Prince Frederick's_ boats; one of them was an Irish lieutenant,
O'Brien, who apologised to captain Dottin for his dress: "Sir, you must
excuse the unfitness of my dress to come aboard a strange ship, but
really I left my own in such a hurry that I had no time to stay for a
change." He had been blown out of a port!

It was not until he was introduced to the Spanish captain, on board the
_Russell_, that Walker learned that the treasure was safe at Ferrol--a
great blow to him and his men; and on arriving at Lisbon he was, to his
surprise, confronted by one of his owners, who blamed him severely for
venturing the privateers against a man-of-war. Walker very justly
replied, "Had the treasure, sir, been aboard, as I expected, your
compliment had been otherways; or had we let her escape from us with
that treasure on board, what had you then have said?"

Walker was then, in fact, treated very scurvily by the owners, if we are
to believe the quite simple and apparently straightforward story of his
friend and former officer, and was at the last hustled out of his ship,
the _King George_, at Lisbon, by a scandalous subterfuge. Probably
avarice was at the bottom of all this sordid business; privateer owners
had a very keen eye for the main chance, and did not set too much store
by heroism--without profits!

Walker took his passage home in the packet, an armed vessel, commanded
by an elderly and somewhat timid gentleman. They encountered an Algerine
of greater force, and some of Walker's men who were on board were heard
to remark that if their captain had commanded he would knock her out of
the water; so two English merchants, who were passengers, begged the
captain to turn over the fighting command to Walker.

This was actually done, and Walker, playing a clever game of bluff, sent
the enemy off without firing a shot.

This is the last we hear of Walker at sea. We find him in gaol for debt,
but the precise circumstances which induced his formerly very admiring
owners to place him there are not quite clear. As we know, it was no
disgrace in those days to be imprisoned for debt, and the process was,
indeed, a remarkably easy one. As has already been remarked, it is
impossible to believe that George Walker was otherwise than a man of
strictest honour and probity: he proved himself almost quixotically so,
in fact, for when, upon one occasion, a couple of rich East India ships
offered him £1,000 to convoy them safely to Lisbon, he replied that "he
would never take a reward for what he thought his duty to do without
one"; nor would he accept the smallest present from them, after seeing
them safely into port.

According to _The Gentleman's Magazine_, George Walker died September
20th, 1777. Where he was buried does not appear; whether he was ever
married or left any family is equally obscure.

One thing, however, is certain: he left behind him the reputation of a
very noble and brave seaman, the idol of his men, the terror of his
king's enemies. There is no eulogy which has been engraved upon the
tombstones of our naval and military heroes which might not with justice
have been included in George Walker's epitaph. So far as his
opportunities went, he set an example which could scarcely have been
improved upon.



SOME FRENCHMEN

[Illustration: JEAN BART, A FAMOUS FRENCH PRIVATEER CAPTAIN]



CHAPTER XIII

JEAN BART


Privateering was very much resorted to in France, from the middle of the
seventeenth century onwards; it was greatly encouraged by the State, and
frequently men-of-war were lent to private individuals or corporations,
who maintained them at their own cost, and of course pocketed the
proceeds of the prizes captured. Some of these were large and powerful
vessels, mounting fifty or sixty guns, and, having been built for
men-of-war, were far superior to most privateers, which were frequently
merchant vessels adapted for the purpose. Their crews were very
numerous, not infrequently outnumbering those of our 64-gun ships, and
it was not of much use for any vessel of less force than these to tackle
them.

One of these big privateers, in the year 1745, was engaged off the south
coast of Ireland with the 40-gun ship _Anglesea_, Captain Jacob Elton,
with a very sad and tragic result. The _Anglesea_, having put into
Kinsale to land some sick--her senior lieutenant being one--sailed again
on March 28th, being one of the vessels ordered to command the entrance
of the channel. On the following day, with a fresh breeze blowing, a
large sail was reported to windward. Captain Elton, for some reason,
assumed that this was his consort, the _Augusta_, of 64 guns; it was
just twelve o'clock, so he ordered his boatswain to pipe to dinner,
making no preparation for action. The stranger came down rapidly,
displaying no colours, apparently--which should have aroused Elton's
suspicion--and suddenly, when he was quite near, it was realised that
the ornament on her quarter was in the French style.

Then, all in a hurry, they beat to quarters, and the English captain, in
order to gain time for his preparations, made more sail, setting his
foresail; but the wind was strong, with a lumpy sea, and the increased
pressure of sail, as the gun's crews opened the lee ports, brought tons
of water in on to the lower deck, threatening to water-log the ship.

The enemy--which was the _Apollon_, 50 guns, fitted out as a
privateer--had it all her own way. Passing under the stern of the
_Anglesea_, she rounded to on her lee quarter, and delivered a heavy
fire. The guns were not cleared away, there was a lot of water below,
and in a minute or two sixty men were dead or wounded. The captain and
master were killed by the first broadside, and the command of the ship
thus devolved upon the second lieutenant, a young and inexperienced
officer. He was in a very tight place. The Frenchman being on the lee
quarter, he could not bear up and run, as he would have fallen on board
the enemy, which carried many more men, and his ship meanwhile was under
a heavy fire, which could not be returned, his men falling fast. After
consultation with the third lieutenant, he surrendered--and really it is
difficult to see what else he could have done. Possibly an older man, of
consummate skill and great experience, might have found a way of
handling his ship so as, at least, to gain some respite; on the other
hand, no such man would have had any business to find himself in this
predicament.

So the lieutenant--Baker Phillips by name--hauled down his colours, and
in due course was tried by court-martial for the loss of his ship. The
court "was unanimously of opinion that Captain Elton, deceased, did not
give timely directions for getting his ship clear or in a proper posture
of defence, nor did he afterwards behave like an officer or a seaman,
which was the cause of the ship being left to Lieutenant Phillips in
such distress and confusion. And that Lieutenant Baker Phillips, late
second lieutenant of the said ship, by not endeavouring to the utmost of
his power after Captain Elton's death to put the ship in order of
fighting, not encouraging the inferior officers and men to fight
courageously, and by yielding to the enemy, falls under part of the
tenth Article.[11] They do sentence him to death, to be shot by a
platoon of musqueteers on the forecastle; ... but ... having regard to
the distress and confusion the ship was in when he came to the command,
and being a young man and inexperienced, they beg leave to recommend him
to mercy."

That is to say, they felt bound, under the clause referred to in the
Articles of War, to sentence him to death, but obviously hoped that the
extreme penalty would not be inflicted under the circumstances--a very
proper view to take. The recommendation, however, was ignored--it will
be recollected that just at this period the British Navy was, for some
reason, passing through a very unsatisfactory phase; courage and energy
appeared often to be lacking--as in the instance of the treasure ships,
in the previous year, when George Walker was compelled to witness the
outrageous incapacity and supineness of the captains of the men-of-war.
These men were acquitted--Lieutenant Baker Phillips was not. Perhaps it
may be permitted to ask, would Captain Elton have been shot had he
survived the action? His lieutenant was made an example of, and there is
some story that a reprieve was refused on account of his Jacobite
tendencies; no evidence appears to be forthcoming in support of this
view. Another and very terrible tale in connection with the incident
relates that Phillips's wife, after a reprieve had been refused, went
in person to Queen Caroline and obtained one, with which she posted in
feverish haste to Portsmouth; but the unhappy young officer, desiring to
avoid the terrible pain of a final interview with her, had, in ignorance
of her mission to the queen, requested that the hour of his execution
might be hastened. When she arrived, he had already been shot. One can
only hope that this story is not true; it is too terrible to dwell upon.

Well, that is how the privateer _Apollon_ scored off us. Five-and-thirty
years later, in 1780, within a mile or two of the same spot, a still
more powerful vessel, similarly commissioned--to wit, the _Comte
d'Artois_, of 64 guns--was overcome and captured by the _Bienfaisant_,
64 guns, captain Macbride, after a smart action of over an hour. The
_Bienfaisant_ was countenanced, more than assisted, by the presence of
the _Charon_, 44 guns, which took little or no part in the action. The
French loss was 21 killed and 34 wounded, while the British lost 3
killed and 23 wounded.

It was one of these privately maintained king's ships which was selected
to convoy the young Pretender to Scotland in 1745; indeed, both the
_Elizabeth_, of 60 guns, and the _Dentelle_, a much smaller vessel, in
which the prince embarked, were of this class. The two vessels
encountered the British 60-gun ship _Lion_, off Ushant, and of course
there was a fight. The _Lion_ and _Elizabeth_, pretty equally matched,
and each commanded by a doughty fighter, blazed away at each other by
the space of four or five hours, when both had had enough. Captain
Brett, of the _Lion_, while regretting that he had not been able to
capture the _Elizabeth_, was pleasing himself with the reflection that
he had "spoiled her voyage"--and so he had, for she had 65 killed and
136 wounded, while her hull was fearfully battered, and she was
compelled to make for the nearest French port. Brett took but little
notice of the smaller craft, which, endeavouring at first to assist the
_Elizabeth_, was easily disposed of by the _Lion's_ stern chasers, and
hung about out of range until the big ships separated, when she
proceeded on her voyage to Scotland. Brett must have been rather annoyed
afterwards to think that he had not made a capture of the _Dentelle_;
but he had, in fact, spoiled their voyage very effectually, for the
_Elizabeth_ had on board all the stores and munitions for the campaign
in Scotland, and Charles Edward Stuart landed very empty-handed in
consequence.

One of the most prominent among French privateer captains is Jean Bart;
he is, in fact, perhaps somewhat unduly prominent, as it does not
appear, from authentic accounts, that he performed any more wonderful or
daring feats of seamanship and battle than some others. It may be that
the many unfounded, or at least unsupported tales of his
prowess--incredible tales, many of them--form the basis, to a large
extent, of his immense popularity; or, on the other hand, this very
popularity may have given rise to these exaggerated anecdotes. He was,
without doubt, a very fine seaman, and a determined and capable
commander, very worthy of the public esteem, and his reputation gains
nothing from wild inventions.

He was born in 1650, at Dunkirk, though his family is said to have been
of Dieppe origin. He came of privateering, semi-piratical stock, and at
the age of twelve he embarked as boy on board a Dunkirk smuggler, under
a brutal, but capable ruffian named Jerome Valbué; his father's old
boatswain, Antoine Sauret, accompanying him, apparently, as a kind of
"sea-daddy"--and it appears to have been just as well that he had some
one to stand between him and the skipper. After a four years'
apprenticeship, young Bart, always enthusiastic and eager to learn, had
acquired remarkable proficiency in seamanship and gunnery, and is said
to have won the prize for the best marksman at the annual competition on
the Dunes.

Thanks to Sauret's teaching and his own zeal, the lad was considered
competent, at the age of sixteen, to fill the post of mate on a
brigantine, the _Cochon Gras_, of which the redoubtable Valbué was
appointed commander.

Jean Bart and his elderly adviser, Sauret, were, however, destined soon
to find employ elsewhere, the occasion of their leaving the _Cochon
Gras_ being an exhibition of wanton cruelty on the part of their
captain. The fact of the two having protested rendered it advisable that
they should not remain.

M. Valbué, it appears, in common with many captains, both in the Navy
and elsewhere at that period, still affected to be bound, together with
his crew, by the Laws or Judgments of Oléron--a brutal code, dating
from the twelfth century.

Valbué, half drunk, had been relating some wonderful tale of the
miraculous intervention of a saintly bishop to save a fishing-boat, and
proceeded to emphasise his own belief and his contempt for heretics by
flinging his half-empty tin cider-mug at one Lanoix, a harmless Huguenot
seaman. (Huguenots are habitually represented by the ordinary British
writer as harmless, exemplary persons; a large number of them were, in
fact, bloodthirsty, cruel, and seditious ruffians, who richly deserved
all they got.)

Lanoix meekly but firmly pointed out that the Laws of Oléron ordained
that the captain was not to punish a seaman until his anger had cooled
down. (It reminds one rather of Midshipman Easy walking about with the
Articles of War under his arm, and admonishing his superior for using
strong language!)

Valbué's rejoinder was a blow with a handspike, which narrowly missed
braining the seaman. Antoine Sauret ventured to remonstrate, but was
warned that he was in danger of similar treatment: for the Laws of
Oléron allow the captain one blow, just as the law of England allows a
dog one bite--only the skipper was apparently permitted one crack at
each member of his crew. So Sauret said no more.

Lanoix, however, was as well up in the law as his captain, and, jumping
over the iron rail which separated the forecastle from the after part of
the vessel, reminded Valbué that if he followed him on to the forecastle
and repeated the blow he would put himself in the wrong, and he,
Lanoix, would have the right to retaliate.

Valbué immediately let loose a string of contemptuous and insulting
epithets, and, passing the barrier, struck Lanoix two violent blows on
the face.

Out came the seaman's knife, and in a second the captain's arm was badly
gashed; but the instinct of discipline induced the crew to rush to the
rescue, and they pinioned Lanoix--but not before he had killed one man,
stabbing him to the heart.

Valbué thereupon sent his cabin-boy down to bring up a copy of the Laws
of Oléron, Jean Bart, at the helm, looking on all this while with
disapproval and horror very plainly expressed in his countenance. When
the boy appeared with the book Sauret went aft and sat down by the
helmsman.

Thinking to place Sauret and his young companion in the wrong, Valbué
bade the former come forward and read out the law. He refused, pointing
out that Valbué had himself broken the law, and that Lanoix was entitled
to purgation of his offence by means of certain oaths and formulæ.

However, the protests of Jean Bart and the brave old man were of no
avail. Ignoring their veto, and declaring that six out of eight of the
crew agreed that Lanoix had wounded his captain and slain one of his
shipmates, Valbué inflicted upon the unfortunate Huguenot the penalty
for the first offence, lashing his arm to a sharp sword fixed to the
windlass and then knocking him down, so that the flesh was stripped from
his arm; and finally, ordering the dead body of the other man to be
brought along, he caused Lanoix, sorely wounded but still alive, to be
bound to it, and both were thrown overboard--which is also strictly in
accordance with the Laws of Oléron, in the event of a seaman killing one
of his comrades at sea--as he who runs may read.

Jean Bart and the boatswain acquired from that moment a strong distaste
for the Laws of Oléron, and quitted the vessel upon arriving, the same
evening, at Calais.

Valbué, consistent with all his brutality, reported the circumstances,
as enjoined by the same code, to the authorities; and the incident, we
are told, led to the framing of the Maritime Code of France.

Bart and Sauret were highly commended for their plucky protest, and a
few days later the former was entrusted with the responsible task of
conveying some French noblemen, in a half-decked sailing-boat, to join
De Ruyter in the Dutch fleet, then lying off Harwich--so we are told in
the account given by Mr. C.B. Norman, in "The Corsairs of France"; but
Mr. Norman is very vague as to dates, and we can only conclude that this
was during the interval between the "four days' fight," from June 1st to
4th, 1666, and the subsequent decisive action on July 25th and 26th. It
is said that he distinguished himself in the "hard-fought
action"--between Albemarle and De Ruyter--on August 6th following; but
there is no record of any action on this date.

However, these matters are not of much importance, especially in the
case of Jean Bart, concerning whom, as has been stated, fables are
plentiful. It appears to be certain that he was some five years in the
Dutch service, his heart being all this time with France; and when, in
1672, war was declared between France and the States-General, he
immediately returned to Dunkirk, and entered upon his career as a
privateersman. Commencing as a subordinate, he was given his first
command in 1674--when he was four-and-twenty--a small vessel, mounting
two guns, with a crew of thirty-six.

In this vessel--the _King David_--Bart soon showed himself to be a bold
and capable captain; in four or five months he captured six prizes. No
fighting was entailed, it is true; but those who knew Jean Bart did not
doubt that he could fight, should the occasion arise; and his old friend
and "sea-daddy," Antoine Sauret, loafing and chatting with his cronies
in Dunkirk, did not allow his young friend's exploits to be forgotten.

Naturally, his next command was a larger vessel--a brigantine, named _La
Royale_, mounting ten guns, and his success continued unabated. He
cruised in company with two other Dunkirk men, and made many captures,
the most important being the _Esperance_, a States-General man-of-war,
carrying 12 guns, by which he appears to have won great renown--though
she was only overcome by the heavy odds against her, Bart having the
assistance of at least one of his allies. However, there is no small
merit in always contriving to outnumber the foe.

Having taken four months' leisure in order to get married, Jean Bart
once more put out, in July 1675, and met with immediate success; and,
capturing quite a number of fishing-vessels, he permitted the captains
to ransom them for a handsome sum--a much more convenient arrangement,
in many instances, than bringing a number of prizes into port; it was,
however, forbidden, as liable to lead to great abuses, and Bart was
deprived of half the proceeds and warned to be more careful in future--a
warning to which he did not pay much heed. Ransoming was subsequently
forbidden to British privateers, and other precautions against
semi-piracy were instituted, more or less copied from the French, who
were always in advance of us in their regulation of privateering.

So successful was Jean Bart in _La Royale_ that early in 1676 he was
given command of a much more important vessel--the _Palme_, of 24 guns,
with a crew of 150 men--a regular frigate of those times. Again he was
lucky in hunting in company, for he and his consorts were opposed to
eight armed whalers and three privateers, which they fought for three
hours, when Bart boarded and carried the largest, while his consorts
secured the whalers, the two other privateers finding it too hot to
remain.

Bart was by no means satisfied with these exploits. A genuine fighting
man, he longed to be matched singly against a man-of-war or a privateer
of fully his own force; and this wish was gratified on September 7th,
1676, when he fell in with a fleet of fishing-vessels, convoyed by the
_Neptune_, a vessel carrying 32 guns. Bart sailed into the convoy, and,
hoisting his colours, fired a gun for the enemy to bring to. Up went
the Dutch colours, with a broadside by way of emphasis; the Dutch
captain was a man of Jean Bart's stamp--a foeman worthy of his
steel--and they had a great fight.

For three hours, at close range, they battered each other, Bart all the
while trying to get a favourable position for boarding, but being
constantly frustrated by the good seamanship of the other. At length,
however, the _Neptune_ was so seriously damaged aloft that she was no
longer under full command; Bart, instantly and skilfully availing
himself of the chance, got his vessel lashed alongside, and headed the
boarding party, consisting of nearly all his crew. The Dutch captain,
grievously wounded, sat on one side, like desperate Andrew Barton, and
shouted to his men to lay on; but they were demoralised by the banging
they had had, and Bart and his boarders were not to be denied; in a few
minutes the affair was over, and the French flag replaced the Dutch. It
was a proud moment for Jean Bart, and a proud day when he sailed into
Dunkirk with the captured vessel in his wake, followed by the fleet of
fishing-boats which his victory had thrown into his hands.

The fame of this exploit soon spread abroad, and one fine day Jean Bart
received a gold chain from the king as a mark of appreciation of his
prowess; at the same time the authorities began to discuss the question
of keeping a list, or roll, of the best fighting privateer captains, in
order that they might be transferred to the Navy in case of need--not
necessarily an advantage to a keen privateersman, as he would occupy at
first a subordinate position, very irksome after the freedom of his
former life, in command of his ship.

Colbert, the Minister of State, was very eager about the matter, and
advocated giving the most efficient privateer commanders the rank of
commodore among their brethren, so that they could operate in squadrons,
and attack the enemy's men-of-war. He caused inquiries to be made at
Dunkirk and other ports as to the character and capability of the
leading privateersmen; and of course he received extremely favourable
reports of Jean Bart, who meanwhile was again at sea in the _Palme_,
doing great execution.

His employers soon displayed their appreciation of his services by
providing him with a yet larger ship--the _Dauphin_, of 30 guns, with a
crew numbering 200. In this vessel, a year later, he encountered another
Dutchman of the same sort as the captain of the _Neptune_.

Sailing in company with two smaller privateers, on June 18th, 1678, a
Dutch frigate was sighted. The smallest privateer happened to be nearest
to the enemy, who immediately attacked, hoping to carry her before her
consorts could arrive. The Frenchman, however, handled his craft so
judiciously as to keep his big antagonist in play until Bart came up.
The two larger vessels--the Dutchman was the _Sherdam_, Captain Ranc--at
once got into action, while Bart's smaller consort stood off, awaiting a
chance. Seeing his opportunity, Bart signalled to her to bear down, and
between them they got the Dutchman in such a position that he could not
avoid being boarded. A crowd of men from both French vessels was
speedily on his deck; but they had no kind of a walk-over; Ranc, though
severely wounded, rallied his men again and again, and it was not until
two-thirds of his crew were disabled or killed that he at length
surrendered.

Bart was wounded in the leg, and badly burnt by the discharge of a gun,
almost in his face, as he leaped on board; six of his men were killed
and thirty-one wounded, while as for the saucy _Dauphin_, her career was
at an end. So well had the Dutchmen plied their guns that her hull was
shattered beyond repair, and it was with extreme difficulty that she was
brought into harbour.

Bart, of course, had another ship at his disposal immediately--such an
invincible corsair was not allowed to be idle--and he was at sea again
in a fortnight, in the _Mars_, of 32 guns; a few weeks later, however,
the war came to an end, and he returned to Dunkirk to have a spell on
shore.

And here the career of Jean Bart as a privateer captain comes to an end;
in January 1679 he was given a commission as lieutenant in the navy.
This was not very much to his taste; besides the comedown from captain
to lieutenant, the aristocrats who predominated among French naval
officers regarded a privateersman, thus pitchforked in among them, with
a very supercilious air, and made things decidedly unpleasant for him.

However, Jean Bart pulled through this all right, and eventually had
opportunity of displaying his capacity in the royal ships.

There are, as has been remarked, a number of romantic tales extant about
Jean Bart; most of them are quite incredible, and for the others there
is no reliable authority. One may be given here as a sample.

At Bergen, in the year 1691, it is said that Bart made the acquaintance
of the captain of a large English vessel, who expressed a keen desire to
meet him outside. Bart said if he would wait a few days his wish should
be gratified, and sent word one day that he would sail on the morrow.
The Englishman politely invited him to breakfast before they sailed to
have it out, and Bart, after a little hesitation, accepted. After
breakfast he lit his pipe, and soon remarked that it was time to go.
"No," said the Englishman, "you are my prisoner!" "I am not your
prisoner," replied Bart, "I will blow up your ship!" Rushing out of the
cabin, with a lighted match, he ran to where stood a barrel of gunpowder
which had most opportunely been hoisted up from the magazine--a cask
with the head out, we must imagine, and the powder exposed. Here, of
course, he had it all his own way; the Englishmen were afraid to touch
him, lest he should put the match to the powder--and the crews of the
French ships, having heard his shout of defiance, rallied on board the
English vessel in numbers, cut down many of the crew, captured the ship,
and carried her into Dunkirk.

It must be to this absurd story that M. Henri Malo alludes in "Les
Corsaires," where he writes, in derision of privateering romances:
"Privateers! We read in these accounts the names of heroes of
romance--Jean Bart, smoking his pipe, mark you, on a barrel of
gunpowder; Robert Surcouf, popularised in operetta."

Jean Bart deserves better than to be lampooned in this fashion; and,
though he rose to distinction in the Navy, and there has almost always
been a French man-of-war named after him, it is chiefly as the
indomitable corsair that his memory is cherished in Dunkirk.

[Footnote 11: The tenth Article of War, at that time, read as follows:
"Every flag-officer, captain, and commander in the fleet who, upon
signal or order of fight, or sight of any ship or ships which it may be
his duty to engage, or who upon likelihood of engagement shall not make
the necessary preparations for fight, and shall not in his own person,
and according to his place, encourage the inferior officers and men to
fight courageously, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as from
the nature and degree of the offence a court-martial shall deem him to
deserve; and if any person in the fleet shall treacherously or cowardly
yield, or cry for quarter, every person so offending and being convicted
thereof by the sentence of a court-martial, shall suffer death."]

[Illustration: RENÉ DUGUAY-TROUIN, A FAMOUS FRENCH PRIVATEER CAPTAIN]



CHAPTER XIV

DU GUAY TROUIN


Another hero, privateer first and naval officer later, was Du Guay
Trouin--this being the name by which he was eventually known, and which
has been bestowed upon more than one vessel of the French Navy in
commemoration of his exploits. His family name was, properly speaking,
Trouin; his father was Luc Trouin, calling himself, after an estate
which he owned, Trouin de la Barbinais. The future privateer captain and
hero was the third son, and was born on June 10th, 1673, being named
René, after his uncle, then French consul at Malaga--a post which had
been held for some generations, apparently, by some member of the Trouin
family. Little René, placed under the care of a nursing woman at the
village of Le Gué, near by, became known as René Trouin du Gué, which
was twisted about until it became Du Gué, or Du Guay Trouin.

René was by no means intended from the first to follow an adventurous
career at sea; his father had a very different aim in view. His uncle
and namesake, René Trouin the consul, who was also his godfather, was
very friendly with the Archbishop at Malaga, and it was considered
politic that the boy should become an ecclesiastic, and so benefit by
the friendliness of the prelate towards his uncle; and indeed, he was
actually sent to the seminary at Rennes, as a very small boy, to
commence his studies for the priesthood--very much against his will, but
Luc Trouin was not to be trifled with; and so, until he was fifteen
years of age, René was held to be destined for the Church.

Then came a sudden change--his uncle and his father died within a year
of one another, and he prevailed upon his mother to permit him to quit
the seminary and study for the law. With this end in view he was sent to
Caen, but we do not learn that he became a very diligent student--on the
contrary, he displayed extreme precocity in getting into mischief of
every kind, the only good thing he learnt, apparently, being the use of
the sword; and finally, having betaken himself to Paris to kick up his
heels, he heard the waiter in a café order some wine for _Monsieur
Trouin de la Barbinais_, his eldest brother, who imagined him to be
engaged upon his studies at Caen--and thither young René fled
incontinently. His brother had, however, got wind of his proceedings; he
was summoned home, a family court-martial held upon him, and he was
sentenced to be sent off to sea, in a privateer of 18 guns, the
_Trinité_, fitted out by the house of Trouin. As René was then only
sixteen it was obviously a wholesome programme for a lad of such
precocious proclivities; he was soon to prove, however, that he was in
advance of his age in other matters than dissipation.

There was not much doing for a year or two; but, after having assisted
to take a small prize into St. Malo, young Du Trouin soon had an
opportunity of seeing hard knocks exchanged.

This was in a fight with a Dutch privateer, the _Concorde_, a vessel of
equal force, but the _Trinité_ had some thirty men absent in prizes.
However, the skipper, Fossart, was not a man who was afraid of odds,
and, seeing the stranger to leeward, cracked on his canvas in chase,
came up with her about noon, and fired a blank cartridge, followed by a
shot across the Dutchman's bows. This elicited the desired response--or,
at least, the expected response--of a broadside, and they went at it,
hammer and tongs, for over two hours, by which time the _Concorde_ was
considerably knocked about and the Frenchman thought it was time to
finish the affair by boarding. Directly the two vessels touched the
captain sprang on board. Young Du Guay Trouin leaped beside him. As he
did so, the vessels rebounded apart, and several Frenchmen fell between
them, only to be crushed to death as the helmsman brought the _Trinité_
up again. An old acquaintance of Du Guay Trouin was among the number,
being killed, to his horror, under his very eyes. However, there was no
time for lamentations over lost comrades. René's skill with the sword
now came into play, and he used it to good purpose, killing two out of
three Dutchmen who were attacking his captain. The Dutchmen yielded,
after a creditable resistance; and so Du Guay Trouin had his baptism of
fire and sword.

On his next ship, the _Grenedan_, he took a prominent part in the
capture of three out of a convoy of fifteen English ships off the
south-west coast of Ireland. Young as he was, he was always in the front
rank when fighting was going; and on his return, the _Grenedan_ entering
the harbour at St. Malo with the three prizes in her wake, amidst
enthusiastic cheers from the townspeople, his brother thought he might
be entrusted with the command of a ship. This was in the year 1691, when
he was not yet turned eighteen, and of course he would never have got a
command at that age under ordinary circumstances. He had, however,
proved himself to be something other than an ordinary lad, and his
brother, as head of the house, had the power to appoint him captain of
one of their privateers, if he was so minded. Accordingly, the young
sailor was given command of the _Danycan_--not much of a craft, being a
slow sailer and not heavily armed.

Caught in a gale of wind, the vessel was blown down Channel, and
afterwards chasing some vessels--she could never catch them--into the
Shannon, Du Guay Trouin landed his men in the night, burnt a couple of
vessels on the beach, did a little pillaging, and alarmed the whole
district. Messages were sent hot-foot to Limerick for the soldiers--it
was a French fleet, an invasion in force! Du Guay Trouin embarked his
men just as the soldiers came in sight, up anchor, and got away
cleverly. This was the only fun he had in the _Danycan_, for every
vessel she encountered could "wrong" her, as they used to say in those
days; that is to say, could sail round her; so there was not much honour
and glory to be got out of her.

On his return to St. Malo Du Guay Trouin was given a better craft--the
_Coëtquen_, of 18 guns. It is said that he held his commission from
James II., the ex-king of England--it is certain that James did issue
such commissions after his abdication, and indeed his consort, the
_Saint Aaron_, commanded by one Welch, of Irish extraction, was thus
commissioned.

Du Guay Trouin soon had some exciting adventures. Falling in with a
fleet of English merchant vessels, under convoy of a couple of sloops,
the two privateers captured five ships and the two men-of-war; but, as
they were taking their prizes into St. Malo, an English squadron gave
chase; then they had to get in where they could. Welch got safely into
St. Malo with some of the vessels; Du Guay Trouin, being cornered, made
a dash for the Isle of Brehat, behind which the navigation is of the
most intricate and perilous description, with dozens of half-submerged
rocks and a swishing tide. He managed to get in, and some of the English
vessels which tried to follow him very nearly came to grief. He had been
under fire for some time, and unluckily his pilot was killed, and also
some others who were familiar with the locality; so he contrived to find
his way out without them, thus displaying that sort of intuitive skill
in navigation and the handling of a ship which has almost always
distinguished great seamen. He was not an accomplished navigator, having
neglected his studies; he was accustomed to trust entirely to "dead
reckoning." Certainly, the means of observing the altitude, etc., of the
sun and stars were very rude in those days; but Du Guay Trouin was not
expert even with these.

However, he got out of this trap, was presently blown into the Bristol
Channel, and found an English 60-gun ship arriving about the same time.
"Luckily," says one of his biographers, "there is an island in the
middle of this estuary; while the enemy came in on one side of it Du
Guay Trouin went out on the other." This, of course, is Lundy Island;
and, getting a good start, Du Guay Trouin escaped cleverly--going out,
so to speak, by the back door as his opponent came in by the front.

After this Du Guay Trouin had a bad time in the _Profond_, a very poor
sailer, and altogether an unlucky ship, so that he was glad to see the
last of her, and take command of the _Hercule_, of 28 guns.

After a little good fortune, he again fell upon evil days. No prey was
sighted for two months, provisions began to run short, sickness broke
out among the crew, discontent and insubordination soon followed. The
officers and men demanded that he should return to France, but, partly
by conciliation and partly by firmness, he persuaded them to keep the
sea for eight days longer, promising them that, if they did capture a
prize, they should pillage her and divide the spoil. On the last night
at sea, Du Guay Trouin tells us, he had a vivid dream that two deeply
laden ships hove in sight; at daybreak he went aloft--and there they
were! He took them both; they were rich prizes, and the crew were made
happy by being allowed, as he had promised, to pillage one of them.

His next ship was the _Diligente_, of 40 guns; and in her he was
destined to experience the misfortune of defeat and capture. First,
however, he came across the _Prince of Orange_, a hired armed vessel of
considerable force--Du Guay Trouin says of 60 guns--convoying a fleet of
thirty vessels. Having hailed one of them, and ascertained that they
were laden with coal, he determined not to risk loss and damage for such
a comparatively worthless cargo. Finding however, that his vessel easily
"had the heels" of the other, he indulged in some aggravating antics,
taking in sail so as to allow the English to come within gunshot,
shooting ahead again, under English colours, which he hoisted "union
down," _i.e._ as a signal "Am in need of assistance"; then, dropping
down once more, he so far forgot himself as to fire at the other while
still under English colours--a gross breach of international law,
accounted as an act of piracy. It was done, no doubt, through
inadvertence, but the English captain did not forget it, and the
Frenchman had cause to regret his carelessness.

And then came misfortune; nine days later he fell in with a squadron of
six English men-of-war cruising between Ireland and the Scilly Isles.
They immediately gave chase. A hard gale blowing, Du Guay Trouin ran for
the Scilly Isles, hard pressed by the _Adventure_ and _Dragon_. In among
the islands they ran, and by eleven o'clock the _Adventure_ was near
enough to engage, the _Diligente_ replying with her stern guns. Still
gaining in the heavy breeze, the _Adventure_--a 44-gun ship--was within
easy range, the _Dragon_--46 guns--not far astern. Du Guay Trouin
engaged the _Adventure_ for nearly three hours, hoping all the time to
escape; however, at half-past two his fore and main topmasts were shot
away, and the English vessel ranged up alongside, hauling up her
courses, the _Dragon_ at the same time signalising her arrival by a
broadside.

This was a pretty desperate state of affairs, but the gallant Frenchman
would not yet acknowledge himself beaten. Seeing the English vessel so
near, he conceived the idea of suddenly boarding her, and carrying her
off. He sent his officers to call the crew on deck, got the grapnels
ready, and ordered the helm to be put over. The two ships were rapidly
closing when one of the lieutenants of the _Diligente_, looking through
a port, and not imagining for a moment that his captain really
contemplated such a desperate measure, ordered the quartermaster to
reverse the helm. The ships fell apart, but Du Guay Trouin shouted to
jam the helm over again. It was too late; the English captain, knowing
that he and his consorts had the Frenchman secure, did not see the use
of having a hundred and fifty desperate men jumping on board, so he set
his courses, sheered off, and banged away again with his guns. The
_Monk_, of 60 guns, now arrived, and the _Diligente_ was fairly
surrounded, two more ships coming up shortly.

Still the French flag was kept flying. The men, less heroic than their
captain, began to run from their quarters. Du Guay Trouin cut down one,
pistolled another, and was hustling them generally, when fire broke out
below. He rushed down and had it extinguished, then provided himself
with a tub of grenades, which he began throwing down into the hold, so
that his crew found it too hot to remain below, and manned some of the
guns. However, this could not go on against such fearful odds, and on
gaining the deck once more he found that "some cowardly rascal" had
lowered the colours. He ordered them up again, but his officers
demurred; and then, with the last shot fired in the action, he was
wounded severely in the groin and dropped senseless. When he came to
himself the ship was in the possession of the English. He was taken on
board the _Monk_, where Captain Warren treated him right well--"with as
much care as though I had been his own son," says Du Guay Trouin--and he
was probably quite old enough to have been father to the young French
captain, who was then only one-and-twenty.

Arriving at Plymouth, the gallant young Frenchman became the object of
much interest and favour; naval and military officers entertained him,
civilians followed suit, and he was given, as he says, "the whole town
for his prison"; in other words, he was placed on his parole, and
allowed full liberty. Always susceptible to the attractions of women, he
found, as he tells us, "une fort jolie marchande"--a sweetly pretty
shop-girl, or shop-woman, with whom he formed a close acquaintance, and
who was eventually mainly instrumental in procuring his liberty. Pretty
girls, as we know, are reputed to be more abundant in Devonshire than in
many other parts, and no doubt the Frenchman found her very seductive.
It is curious what a diversity of parts this young woman is made to
assume among the biographers of Du Guay Trouin. One makes her out just a
shop-girl; another says she was "une jeune marchande qui preparait les
repas de Duguay"--a young shop-woman who prepared his meals--while Mr.
C.B. Norman, on what ground does not appear, calls her a "fair
_compatriote_"--a Frenchwoman, married to a "Devonshire merchant," and
has a good deal to say about the way in which she hoodwinked her good
husband while she was obtaining information for the young Frenchman when
he was in prison; we shall get him there directly. Du Guay Trouin, in
his "Mémoires," simply speaks of her as already quoted; and
"_marchande_" certainly does not mean "merchant's wife."

However, there she is, being entertained sometimes by Du Guay Trouin,
and no doubt very proud of being the object of his attentions--just a
shop-girl, he says; and he ought to know.

This delightful condition of affairs was, however, unexpectedly
interrupted, for one fine day there arrived the _Prince of Orange_, to
refit after seeing her colliers safe; and the captain soon recognised,
in the prize lying at anchor, the vessel which fired at him under the
English flag. He was in a great state of mind, reported the
circumstances to the Admiralty, and demanded that Du Guay Trouin should
be treated as a pirate. The authorities demurred to this request, but
thought it advisable, during their deliberations, that he should not
have "the whole town for his prison"; so they put him in gaol, allowing
him, however, to order his own food and entertain his friends there. The
English officers who took turns on guard at the prison were very glad to
dine with him; and "my pretty shop-girl also came very often to pay me a
visit."

Too often, apparently, for the peace of mind of a young French refugee
officer, doing duty with an English company of soldiers; and he actually
came to Du Guay Trouin and begged his good offices to induce the girl to
marry him--or, at least, to show him favour. Du Guay Trouin was at first
disposed to refuse indignantly, though he apparently wishes to imply
that his intimacy with her was quite innocent. It occurred to him,
however, that the young soldier's infatuation might be turned to good
account.

He would, he said, serve him with all his heart; but he was rather
worried in his room, and could not see his way to do much unless he
could entertain her in some more open place--the café close to the
prison would do very well; she could come there without suspicion, and,
if he had but one chance there, he would use all his eloquence with her,
and would even arrange that the love-lorn young soldier should spend the
rest of the evening with her.

The bait was too strong for his loyalty. Du Guay Trouin, having
established an understanding with "his gentle shop-girl," represented to
her feelingly that the trial of imprisonment would soon cause him to
succumb if she would not have the goodness to assist him to escape;
which, of course, she did, first becoming his messenger to a Swedish
captain, who sold him a good boat for £35, with sails and oars complete.

The whole scheme came off to admiration. Du Guay Trouin, with the
connivance of the impatient lover, who had seen his lady enter the café,
left his room and followed, the young officer only imploring him not to
keep him long in suspense. "But," says Du Guay Trouin, "I scarcely gave
myself time to thank and kiss that wholesome little friend"--he was out
at the back, over the wall, and in the company of some of his officers
and six stalwart, well-armed Swedish sailors before the French officer
had any time to be anxious; and by ten o'clock they were in the boat,
sailing by the men-of-war, answering "Fishermen" to the hail of the
sentries, and so to sea. They reached the island of Brehat after a rough
passage of fifty hours, and, after resting for a while, made their way
to St. Malo, where Du Guay Trouin learned that his brother had a fine
ship fitting out for him at Rochefort.

Whether the love-sick soldier went to look for "la jolie marchande" and
what she said to him are not recorded; but it is to be feared that he
experienced a rude awakening.

In his new command, named _François_, of 48 guns, Du Guay Trouin was
soon busy, taking several prizes of considerable value off the coast of
Ireland. He was longing, however, for an opportunity of avenging himself
for his defeat and capture, and early in the year 1695 he had his wish,
encountering a large convoy of vessels laden with huge spars, suitable
for masts, etc., bound from North America, under the protection of the
_Nonsuch_, of 48 guns. One of the convoy, the _Falcon_, was also well
armed, carrying 38 guns, according to Du Guay Trouin, and pierced for
72. He calls the _Falcon_ the _Boston_, and the _Nonsuch_ by the
equivalent French name, _Sanspareil_.

He says that the inhabitants of Boston had had the _Falcon_ built, and
loaded with valuable mast-timber and choice skins, as a present to King
William III.

Sighting the enemy about noon, Du Guay Trouin immediately attacked the
_Falcon_, and with his first few broadsides inflicted immense damage,
sending her maintopmast by the board, and smashing her mainyard. Leaving
her for a time, he laid his ship on board the _Nonsuch_, the two ships
exchanging a hot fire from great guns and small arms the while. The
Frenchmen discharged a number of grenades on the decks of the _Nonsuch_,
and then the boarders leaped across; but fire broke out on the after
part of the English ship, and raged with such fury that Du Guay Trouin
was compelled to recall his men and disengage his vessel. Seeing the
flames nearly extinguished, he closed again; but he was premature, for
the fire once more flared up, and caught his own maintopsail and
foresail. While both ships were busy tackling the fire night came on,
and they fell apart, repairing damages on both sides.

At daybreak Du Guay Trouin renewed his attack upon the _Nonsuch_; but
just as he was laying her aboard her fore and mainmasts fell with a
crash, and he was compelled once more to sheer off--this time however,
with the certainty that she was his. Seeing the _Falcon_ making all sail
in the endeavour to escape, he steered for her, and very quickly
obtained her submission; meanwhile, the _Nonsuch_ had lost her remaining
mast, and was an absolute wreck, sorely damaged also in her hull.

Thus the determined young French captain had things all his own way; and
he thoroughly deserved his success, which was the outcome of fine
seamanship, backed by good gunnery and indomitable courage.

The captain of the _Nonsuch_ was killed. The court-martial which was
subsequently held on the surviving officers found that he had not made
adequate preparation for fighting, and so was overcome by a considerably
inferior force, for the _Nonsuch_ and the _François_ were about equal.
All the vessels engaged were very badly damaged, and, a gale of wind
springing up immediately after the action, their position became very
hazardous. The _Falcon_ was recaptured by four Dutch privateers; the
_Nonsuch_ and _François_ with difficulty managed to reach port.

On hearing of this achievement the King of France sent Du Guay Trouin a
sword of honour, and his name was in every mouth.

He sailed next with a squadron under the Marquis de Nesmond which
captured the English 70-gun ship the _Hope_, and subsequently he and a
consort took three East Indiamen, with cargoes valued at about one
million sterling.

After having been, to his great delight and exultation, presented to the
king in Paris, he fitted out the _Nonsuch_, under the name _Sanspareil_,
with an armament of 42 guns, and cruised off the coast of Spain. On this
cruise there occurred an incident which was very characteristic of Du
Guay Trouin's presence of mind and audacity.

Having news of three Dutch merchant ships lying at Vigo awaiting the
escort of an English man-of-war, he took advantage of the English build
and appearance of his ship, and hoisting English colours, appeared in
the entrance of Vigo Bay. Two of the Dutchmen, completely deceived,
immediately joined him, and were, of course, captured; the third,
luckily for her, was not ready for sea.

This was all very nice; but one fine morning, at daybreak, he found
himself close under the lee of a strong English fleet. Many men would
have despaired of getting out of such a trap; but Du Guay Trouin
instantly conceived a plan of action. Signalling to his prize-masters in
the two Dutch ships to salute him with seven guns, and run to leeward,
he calmly stood towards the fleet, as though he belonged to it, and had
merely fallen out to overhaul the two Dutch vessels. Two large ships and
a 36-gun frigate hauled out of line to inspect him, but, being
completely deceived by his appearance and nonchalance, they
desisted--the frigate, however, displaying undue curiosity with regard
to the two Dutch vessels. This was very disturbing, and Du Guay Trouin
was on tenter-hooks as he watched her approach them; however, he kept
jogging along quietly with the English fleet, until, by edging away
gradually, he was in a position to make a run for it. Setting all his
canvas, he tried to place himself between the frigate and his prizes;
and he rapidly conceived the glorious idea of boarding and capturing the
frigate in view of the whole fleet--most likely he would have succeeded,
as he had a far more numerous crew; but the English captain began to
suspect, and, keeping a gunshot to windward, lowered a boat to board and
question Du Guay Trouin. When it was half-way on its journey, the boat's
crew suddenly realised the truth, and hastily returned; upon which Du
Guay Trouin hoisted his colours and opened fire on the frigate. This
woke up the Englishmen--who must, indeed, have been very sleepy--and
several large ships detached themselves and came down upon the
_Sanspareil_; before they could reach her, however, the frigate, much
damaged by Du Guay Trouin's fire, made urgent signals of distress, and
while they were soothing the frigate and recovering her boat, Du Guay
Trouin quietly made off and took his prizes safely into port! He was
really a glorious fellow--and only now three-and-twenty.

Du Guay Trouin, shortly after this, had cause of complaint against a
naval captain whom he encountered at sea, and who, evidently jealous of
his successes, fired on his boat, and, calling him on board his ship,
rated him in the most contemptuous and insulting manner, threatening to
"keel-haul" him, and so on. This is a good example of the behaviour of
the aristocratic naval officers towards privateersmen, and it is not
surprising if the latter demurred to accepting commissions in the Navy.
Du Guay Trouin, however, was destined ere long to take his place there,
after a most tremendous and bloody encounter with some Dutch men-of-war
escorting a fleet of merchantmen.

He was then commanding the _St. Jacques des Victoires_, and had in
company his old ship the _Sanspareil_, commanded by his cousin, Jacques
Boscher, and the _Leonore_, of 16 guns. Being joined, after sighting
this fleet, under the care of two 50-gun and one 30-gun ship, by two
large St. Malo privateers, Du Guay Trouin reckoned that he was strong
enough to attack--with five ships to three, though the _Leonore_ did not
count for much in such an action. However, he despatched her to seize
some of the convoy, told his cousin in the _Sanspareil_ to tackle one of
the 50-gun ships while he went for the other, and the two St. Malo men
took care of the frigate in the middle. By the action of the Dutchmen Du
Guay Trouin and his cousin exchanged antagonists; the ship destined for
Boscher fell foul of the _St. Jacques_, and Trouin, with his customary
promptitude and impetuosity, immediately launched half his crew on board
and carried her. The Dutch commodore's ship, the _Delft_, proved a very
hard nut to crack. The _Sanspareil_ was repulsed with great loss, her
poop on fire, cartridges exploding promiscuously, and nearly a hundred
men blown up, shot dead, or wounded. She sheered off, and Du Guay Trouin
ran alongside the _Delft_, to be received with even greater warmth. Her
captain, an heroic man, fought like a demon, and the _St. Jacques_ also
was forced to haul off to breathe the men, who were getting somewhat
disheartened, and repair considerable damages. Meanwhile, the larger of
the St. Malo vessels, the _Faluère_, was directed to keep the
redoubtable Dutchman amused, but she soon had enough of it, losing her
captain, and running to leeward.

Du Guay Trouin was not going to give in, however. He rallied his men,
and, summoning the _Faluère_ to his aid, he went for the _Delft_ once
more--as he says, "with head down." He got her--but it cost him more
than half his crew, and every one of the Dutch officers was killed or
wounded. The commodore, Baron de Wassenaer, fell on his quarter-deck
with four deadly wounds, his sword still grasped in his hand, and was
made prisoner.

Then they had an awful night, for it came on to blow hard, on a lee
shore; all the ships were frightfully battered and leaking, masts and
rigging cut to pieces, and the already exhausted crews had to turn to at
the pumps for dear life. On board the _St. Jacques_ the Dutch prisoners
were set to work to lighten the ship by throwing overboard all her
upper-deck guns, spars, shot--everything movable, to keep her afloat.

Day broke at length, the wind abated, and, with the assistance of boats
from the shore, the ship was brought in: a sorry wreck, indeed, but the
fruits of her labour soon came to hand--three Dutch men-of-war and
twelve ships of the convoy. The _Sanspareil_ arrived twenty-four hours
later, having barely survived the Dutchman's furious onslaught.

For this service Du Guay Trouin received a commission as commander in
the Navy, and was again presented to the king.

As a regular naval officer, he no longer remains within the scope of
these pages; but there is one incident which should not be omitted, even
though it be somewhat to the discredit of the English.

In the year 1704 Du Guay Trouin was in command of the _Jason_, 54 guns,
in company with the _Auguste_, of equal force, when they fell in, at
night, with the English ship _Chatham_, an old antagonist, which had
before escaped them. At daybreak they were on either side of her,
blazing away, the English vessel making every effort to escape, while
maintaining creditably her part in the fighting, and the three of them
ran into the English fleet. Then things became serious for the two
French ships: some of the fastest sailers in the fleet were sent after
them. The _Auguste_ was a poor sailer, so they agreed to separate. But
the English had force enough to pursue them both, and the _Auguste_ was
soon disposed of. The _Jason_ held on, and presently was tackled by the
_Worcester_, of 50 guns, which was considerably knocked about, and
dropped astern. Other ships came up, however, and, supported by their
presence, the _Worcester_ again attacked indecisively. With the dusk,
the wind dropped altogether, and there was the _Jason_, surrounded by
foes in the darkness, only waiting for daylight to eat her up.

Naturally, her captain did not find it easy to sleep; and it was
characteristic of him that he still planned in his mind some desperate
measure. He told his officers that he intended to go straight for the
English flagship; that he himself would take the helm and run aboard
her, and that he thus hoped to perform a brilliant feat of arms, by
carrying this ship, before they succumbed to superior force--and in any
case, his flag was not coming down unless the enemy could get there to
haul it down themselves.

With this heroic resolve in contemplation, he paced the deck. There was
not a breath of wind. The ship rolled a little uneasily, the timbers
creaking and blocks rattling aloft, while the few sails that were set
slatted against the masts and rigging occasionally in that irritating
fashion with which all seamen are familiar. At various distances round
him were the enemy's vessels, few of them probably out of gunshot, and
some very near.

About an hour before daybreak Du Guay Trouin noticed a dark line above
the horizon ahead of his ship; he watched it carefully, and felt
convinced that a breeze was coming from that quarter. Calling the crew
quietly on deck, he made sail, braced the yards up, and with one or two
of the huge oars or "sweeps" provided in those days, he got the ship's
head round so as to catch the breeze in a favourable manner in case it
should come. And it did come: at first a breath, which barely gave the
ship steerage-way; then a little stronger--she steals ahead, two knots,
three knots; the Englishmen are all taken aback, with their topsails
lowered, their yards braced anyhow. Before they can make and trim sail
the _Jason_ is clear of the ruck of them, a good gunshot clear! The
_Worcester_ was once more the only one to tackle her, and was soon
shaken off--by noon she was fast dropping astern; and, says Du Guay
Trouin, "I looked on myself as though risen from the dead."

Well he might do, too. And what were all those Englishmen thinking
about, each ship with an officer in charge of the deck? One would
imagine that they could see a breeze coming as well as a Frenchman
could. But Du Guay Trouin had one essential element of success about
him--- _he never threw away a chance._

He died in 1736. France may well be proud of him. Think of a lad of
one-and-twenty, pressed by half a dozen ships among the Scilly Islands,
conceiving that plan of boarding and capturing the _Adventure_! That
incident alone is sufficient to mark him as excelling by many degrees
the average--nay, the more than average--fighting seaman.



CHAPTER XV

JACQUES CASSARD


Among the less well-known French privateersmen is Jacques Cassard, a
native of Nantes, where there stands to this day a commemorative statue
of him.

He was born in 1672, and so was a contemporary of Du Guay Trouin. The
son of a seafarer, young Jacques was predestined to a similar life, but
there is very little known of his early doings. He appears to have
commenced as a privateer at the early age of fourteen, and he must
evidently have established, during the following ten years, a reputation
for skill and daring, for when he was five-and-twenty he was selected to
command the bomb-ship in an expedition against Carthagena, under De
Pointis, in 1697.

The sluggish and unseaworthy vessel which Cassard commanded parted
company from the squadron while crossing the Atlantic, but in due course
he arrived at St. Domingo, the rendezvous, where was assembled a
formidable squadron, with 5,000 troops, and a contingent of 1,200
filibustering ruffians under Du Casse, Governor of St. Domingo.

The first assault by the ships on the forts at Carthagena was met with
such a furious fire that De Pointis was glad to haul off for a time;
Cassard, however, backed up by Du Casse, was so insistent in urging an
immediate renewal of the attack that they carried the day. Cassard
distinguished himself throughout; he took his little bomb-vessel close
under the strongest fort and bombarded it mercilessly. When the
Spaniards' fire began to slacken he and Du Casse led the assault on the
battered defences, and, after a desperate conflict, carried the first
fort. Cassard, prompt and resourceful, turned the guns upon an adjacent
work, and by the evening the Spaniards, driven to the citadel, displayed
the flag of surrender.

It was after the defenders had marched out, followed by numbers of the
townspeople, however, that Cassard performed the most valuable service.
A scene of horror ensued: the regulars and filibusters, mad with drink
and lust, scoured the town, ransacked churches and houses, and
perpetrated shocking outrages. Their officers lost all control, and were
even shot down by the mad rioters when they attempted to remonstrate.

Then Cassard, having obtained permission to take the matter in hand,
picked out a band of about three hundred Bretons from among the crews of
the war-ships, and landed with them. He did not mince matters. He was
well aware that the only course to pursue, with any hope of success, was
to meet savagery with savagery, and the plunderers soon found themselves
confronted with the alternative of submission or death. They fought it
out in forty-eight hours, Cassard guarding the gates strongly, and
searching systematically every quarter of the town. With his own hand
he is said to have shot down a score of looters; and when it was over he
had to arrange for the burial of three hundred and seventy unhappy
women, who had been ill-treated and murdered, often in the very
churches.

De Pointis, on their return, strongly recommended Cassard for a
commission in the Navy, but prejudice was too strong against his class,
and it was not until nearly three years later, after some successful
privateering, that he was summoned to the royal presence. "I have need,"
said the king, "of all the brave men I can find for my Navy, and as you,
they say, are the bravest of the brave, I have appointed you a
lieutenant in my fleet, and have given instructions that a sum of £2,000
be handed over to you, to enable you to support your position in a
proper manner."

This was all very well; but his newly earned honours sat heavily upon
him, and the jealousy of the naval aristocrats made things unpleasant;
so it was in the capacity of commander of a private ship of war that he
gained further laurels.

This was the _St. William_, fitted out by merchants of St. Malo in 1705,
a small vessel, mounting only eight guns of insignificant power and
manned by sixty-eight harum-scarum fellows picked up on the quays at St.
Malo.

After a fruitless cruise he returned to refit, and then made a
successful raid upon small traders off the south coast of Ireland,
thereby gaining a little prize-money to encourage his crew. After a
visit to Brest, he was returning to the coast of Ireland when he came
across a Dutchman of greatly superior force, with which he had an heroic
encounter.

The Dutchman fired the usual "summoning" gun, to which Cassard paid no
heed. A shot across his bows followed, but he held on his course. The
Dutchman cleared for action, crowding sail and rapidly overhauling the
_St. William_. It looked like a foregone conclusion that she should
succumb to this formidable adversary, carrying fourteen 9-pounders.

Cassard, however, had his own ideas as to the conduct of the engagement.
As the enemy rapidly came up, pounding him with his bow-guns, the
Frenchman suddenly shortened sail, squared his mainyard, and threw his
ship aboard the other. A discharge of grape and chain-shot from the _St.
William's_ 3-pounders was instantly followed by a rush of sixty
desperate men, headed by their captain.

A most bloody encounter ensued. Dutchmen are not easily beaten, and the
deck had to be gained step by step. It is said that Cassard had told off
one of his leading men to endeavour, the moment he gained a footing on
board, to run in one of the Dutchman's guns and point it along the deck;
and while the remainder were at grips with the enemy, this man and half
a dozen others contrived to effect this, loaded the gun with
langrage--which means any odd bit of metal you can scrape up--and
watched for a chance. Then they shouted, "Stand clear of the gun!" The
French suddenly parted to either side of the deck, and the shower of
iron peppered the astonished Dutchmen. This was twice accomplished, the
Frenchmen each time rushing forward in the smoke; and then the Dutch
captain, wounded and bleeding, proffered his sword to Cassard. It was a
good device, if the story be true; but not as easy of accomplishment as
it is made to appear in the accounts of the action.

It is said that the Dutch loss, out of a crew of 113, was 37 killed and
51 wounded. Cassard had 16 killed and 23 wounded.

Some three or four years of success followed, during which Cassard
adopted the illegal, but tempting device of ransoming his prizes and
taking the captains as hostages for payment--a practice for which, like
Jean Bart, he was brought to book, without very much practical result.
However, he made a great deal of money, and in the year 1709[12] he was
appealed to by some merchants of Marseilles to convoy from Bizerta, on
the north coast of Tunis, a fleet of grain-ships--an urgent business, as
France was in very great need of grain. He was induced to put his hand
in his pocket and fit out at his own expense two men-of-war--the
_Éclatant_ and _Serieux_--lent by the Government, the latter of which he
commanded himself, and made sail for Bizerta, where he found the
grain-ships safe enough. The difficulty was, to get them safely to
Marseilles, the English fleet being on the alert. With this end in view
he had recourse to a ruse, which is not very clearly set forth in the
accounts; but in the end he enticed a frigate out of Malta and led her
away from his convoy, which he had left in charge of the _Éclatant_,
though it involved a desperate running action with a vessel of superior
force, in which he nearly came to grief.

Arriving at length at Marseilles, he found that the grain-ships had
turned up safely, which was really a great triumph; but the wily
merchants were too cunning for the simple seaman. There was, it appears,
a clause in the agreement to the effect that Cassard should bring in the
convoy--it is easy to imagine how such a document would be worded--and,
because he had not personally conducted the ships into port, the
merchants refused to pay him the stipulated sum for his services! He
appealed, but the merchants had too many friends at court; so he found
himself some £10,000 out of pocket in the long run, as a reward for
averting a famine by his skill and courage.

He was destined, however, to repeat the exploit. In June 1709 a huge
fleet of eighty-four merchant vessels, under convoy of six men-of-war,
was despatched to Smyrna to bring back grain. The squadron consisted of
the _Teméraire_, 60, _Toulouse_, 60, _Stendard_, 50, _Fleuron_, 50,
_Hirondelle_, 36, and _Vestale_, 36, under the command of M. de
Feuquières. Reaching Smyrna in safety, they sailed in October on the
return voyage, with their precious freight; but De Feuquières, learning
that a strong English squadron was watching for him in the Gulf of
Genoa, put into Syracuse, in Sicily; and sent the _Toulouse_ to
Marseilles for additional force.

The people of Marseilles shamelessly appealed to Cassard, whom they had
treated so scurvily; he refused at first to have anything to do with it.
However, he was eventually placed in command of a little squadron,
consisting of the _Parfait_, 70, with his flag; the _Toulouse_, Captain
De Lambert; _Serieux_, 60, Captain De l'Aigle; and _Phoenix_, 56,
Captain Du Haies.

With a fair wind, on November 8th he sailed for Syracuse, according to
Mr. Norman, arriving there on the evening of the following day--a feat
which may be safely put down as practically impossible, the distance
being over 650 nautical miles, or knots. However, there is no doubt that
Cassard arrived off Syracuse one day, and found only two English
men-of-war watching for the grain fleet, instead of a strong squadron,
as he expected. With these he resolved to deal at once, and bore down
upon them.

The two English ships were the _Pembroke_, 64, Captain Edward
Rumsey--not _Rumfry_, as Mr. Norman calls him, probably from some French
document--and the _Falcon_, 36, Captain Charles Constable, the remainder
of the squadron having gone to Mahon, in Corsica, to refit. The
_Pembroke_ had apparently had her turn there and returned to her station
a few days previously, the _Falcon_ joining her.

When Cassard's squadron hove in sight and Captain Rumsey, having failed
to receive from them the acknowledgment of the private signal, realised
that he was in for a serious business, he signalled the _Falcon_ to
shorten sail, and, running up alongside her, he asked Captain Constable
what he made of the strangers, to which the latter replied that one of
them was a very big ship, but he could not make much of the others.

"Shall we fight them?" shouted Rumsey through his speaking-trumpet.
"Just as you please, sir!" bawled Constable. "That's no answer,"
rejoined Rumsey. "With all my heart," said Constable, and they cleared
for action--none too soon, for the French ships, bringing up a stronger
breeze with them, were already almost within gunshot.

Cassard had signalled Feuquières to weigh and convoy the grain-ships out
while he engaged the two English ships. Rumsey, realising that he was
imperatively called upon to prevent, or at least to retard their escape,
had probably made up his mind before he spoke to Constable. Leaving only
two ships there was a blunder, and he really had no choice about
fighting, for he could not well have escaped.

The action which ensued was one of the most stubborn sea-fights on
record. Cassard attacked with three ships, the _Parfait_ ranging
alongside the _Falcon_, while the _Serieux_ and _Phoenix_ tackled the
_Pembroke_. If the Frenchmen expected an easy conquest of the _Falcon_
by the huge 70-gun ship they were very much in error. With her crew of
740 men the _Parfait_ was run alongside, and her bowsprit lashed to the
fore-rigging of the _Falcon_. Instantly Constable turned the tables on
the foe, rushing on board at the head of one hundred men. They were
repulsed, with heavy losses on both sides, and before Cassard could
return the compliment the two ships fell apart. The _Falcon's_ flight
was soon stayed by the heavy fire of the French ship, which brought
down spars and cut rigging extensively, and once more Cassard laid her
on board. His first attack was repelled by the indomitable Constable and
his men; but the price was too heavy: something like 120 men had been
killed or desperately wounded already, and Constable, taking counsel
with his officers, was forced to the conclusion that it was useless to
sacrifice more lives, and so hauled down his colours; he had been badly
wounded in the shoulder, but kept his place on deck. According to
Captain Schomberg, in his "Naval Chronology," there were only sixteen
men of the _Falcon's_ crew able to stand at their quarters when she
surrendered.

Meanwhile, the _Pembroke_ and the other two ships were hammering each
other at close range, and much damage resulted on both sides. After an
hour and a half of fighting Captain Rumsey, who had behaved splendidly,
was killed, and Barkley, the first lieutenant, came on deck and took his
place. For two hours after the captain's death the unequal conflict was
maintained: Cassard came down and joined the fray after the _Falcon_ was
captured, and had a tremendous cannonade with the _Pembroke_, yardarm to
yardarm, while the _Serieux_ pounded her on the other quarter. It could
not last; the English ship's mizzen-mast went crashing by the board, her
maintopmast followed, her rigging was nearly all cut away, her mainmast
wounded and tottering, her decks lumbered with wreckage, which also
rendered the ship almost unmanageable, and the crew falling by tens--to
hold out longer would be worse than useless, so Barkley and his brother
officers agreed, and the colours had to come down.

The losses on both sides afforded ample testimony to the splendid
courage of the Englishmen and the gallant pertinacity of the French. Six
months later Constable and the surviving officers of the _Pembroke_ were
tried by court-martial, were judged to have done their duty, and
honourably acquitted.

It now remains to clear up some chronological discrepancies. According
to Mr. Norman, this engagement took place on November 10th, 1710, and
Cassard entered Toulon with his prizes on the 15th. Where he obtained
these dates does not appear; but, as a matter of fact, the court-martial
took place on June 21st, 1710, and the sworn testimony of the officers
of both ships places the engagement on December 29th, 1709; Captain
Rumsey wrote from Mahon on December 10th, reporting to the admiral--Sir
Edward Whittaker--that his ship had been careened, and was nearly ready
for sea. These official reports being unimpeachable, it appears probable
that the first affair with the grain-ships took place in 1708, as has
already been hinted.[13]

However, this does not affect the actual facts with regard to the
engagement, which was so creditable to both sides.

Promoted to the rank of commander, Cassard was appointed to command the
military works in progress at Toulon; but he was not happy in this post,
and, after trying in vain to obtain restitution of the money he had
lost on the first grain venture, he took command of a squadron,
consisting of nine vessels, men-of-war, but fitted out by private
enterprise in St. Malo and Nantes.

With this force, and a proportional number of troops, he took St. Iago,
in the Cape Verde Islands, then crossed the Atlantic and pillaged
Montserrat and Antigua, ransomed Surinam and St. Eustatia, and, after
some difficulties, treated Curaçoa similarly.

Despite his really brilliant achievements, Jacques Cassard was destined
to spend his declining years in comparative poverty, and die in
confinement. Jealousy on the part of the aristocrats, false accusations
of misappropriation of prize goods, impudence amounting to mutiny in
dealing with an admiral, and finally loss of temper and insolence to the
all-powerful Cardinal Fleury--this was the end of all: he was imprisoned
in the fortress of Ham, and there he died, in 1740, having survived Du
Guay Trouin by four years.

[Footnote 12: As related in "The Corsairs of France," by C.B. Norman;
but it appears probable that it was in the previous year, for reasons to
be stated later.]

[Footnote 13: See note, p. 233.]



CHAPTER XVI

ROBERT SURCOUF


Robert Surcouf, another prominent French privateersman, was born on
December 12th, 1773--just one hundred years after Du Guay Trouin, to
whose family he was related.

Like his famous relative, he was intended for the Church; but he
speedily manifested a militant spirit by no means of an ecclesiastical
quality--he was, in fact, an awful pickle at home and at school;
insubordinate, always fighting with some one, tearing his clothes to
pieces, and quite unamenable to parental or pedagogic admonition.
Severity and entreaty were alike futile. However, he was sent to a
seminary at Dinan, under a superior of great reputed strictness, and
here for a time he raised his parents' hopes; but he soon grew weary of
the monotony of obedience, ceased to evince any interest in his studies,
and speedily became the leader in every description of mischief.

The crisis arrived one day when the class-master seized young Robert
with the intention of administering personal chastisement. The scholar
proved to be exceedingly robust for his years, and resisted the
operation with tremendous vigour; and when at length the master had got
him down, he seized his leg in his teeth, and compelled him to desist
for the moment and seek for assistance. Surcouf's classmates loudly
applauded him; but, knowing that he would be ultimately compelled to
yield to superior force, he got through the window, scaled the garden
wall, and, without hat or shoes, started to walk home, the snow lying
thickly on the ground. He had more than twenty miles to walk, and when
it became dark he slipped about on the frozen snow, and at length, worn
out and half perished with cold and hunger, he sank senseless by the
roadside. Luckily, some fish-merchants found him and took him home,
where he was nursed by his mother with the tenderest devotion during an
attack of pneumonia. Thanks to his strong constitution, he recovered
completely; but he was not sent back to Dinan. It was obvious that there
was nothing to be done but to recognise his vocation as a seaman; and
accordingly, at the age of thirteen, he was shipped on board the
_Heron_, brig, bound for Cadiz.

This kind of coasting voyage was not at all to the mind of the impetuous
and ambitious Robert. Some of the crew who had made distant voyages had
wonderful tales to tell, and he longed to visit these far-off lands. It
was two years, however, before his wish was gratified. In March 1789, at
sixteen, he embarked as volunteer on board the _Aurora_, of 700 tons,
bound for the East Indies. They had a gale of wind, with a tremendous
sea, off the Cape, and young Surcouf displayed remarkable courage and
aptitude in the various emergencies which are sure to arise on such an
occasion, for which he was duly praised by his superiors on board. After
touching at the Mauritius, they went on to Pondicherry; and during this
latter portion of the voyage Surcouf became very friendly with the
fourth officer, M. de Saint-Pol, who, having been born on the Coromandel
Coast, was conversant with the Eastern seas, was a very good officer and
a well-informed man. He took pleasure in imparting to his young shipmate
the knowledge at his command, and the seed fell upon fruitful ground,
young Surcouf drinking in with avidity every detail concerning the
Indian Seas, which he was destined one day to hold for a while
completely. Saint-Pol's enthusiastic description of the exploits of
Suffren served to inflame his ardour. However, he had some unpleasant
work before him ere he found the opportunity he sought.

The _Aurora_, having conveyed some troops from Pondicherry to Mauritius,
sailed for Mozambique, and there embarked four hundred negro slaves for
the West Indies. This was in February 1790, the season at which the
tremendous cyclones of the Indian Ocean are most frequent and
formidable. The _Aurora_ fell in with one of these storms on the 18th,
and, in spite of the brave efforts of master and crew, she was cast,
dismasted and helpless, on the coast of Africa. The crew, together with
the female slaves and children, were saved; but the negroes confined in
the hold perished, every man, in that horrible death-trap, in spite of
some brave attempts, in which young Surcouf took a part, to rescue them.

When the wind went down there was the terrible task to be performed of
clearing out the ship, which appeared not to be damaged beyond repair;
and in this work, which occupied fifteen days, Surcouf distinguished
himself by his willing and untiring energy. Twice he was brought up
fainting from that awful hold, but he continued to labour and set an
heroic example until the end; and such fortitude in a lad of his age
naturally attracted attention. He went back as mate in a vessel hired to
convey the crew to Mauritius. She was driven terribly out of her course,
and did not arrive until December; and Surcouf finished his first voyage
as quartermaster, on board a corvette, the _Bienvenue_, for the homeward
passage, reaching L'Orient on January 3rd, 1792. He made haste to visit
his parents, who, no longer remembering the escapades of the school-boy,
welcomed with pride and affection the stalwart, bronzed young seaman of
eighteen, who appeared likely, after all, to do them credit.

The Indian seas called him again, and, after six months at home, he
sailed as a lieutenant on board the armed ship _Navigator_, for
Mauritius. After a couple of trading voyages between this island and the
African coast, war broke out with England, and the _Navigator_ was laid
up.

Surcouf now became lieutenant on board another vessel, trading to
Africa, in which he made several voyages. There was no opportunity of
acquiring any honour and glory in action, so he applied himself to his
profession, and became a very good seaman, with an excellent knowledge
of the navigation of the Indian Ocean.

He was not as lucky, however, as he had been in the _Aurora_, with
regard to his superiors. The first lieutenant was a Portuguese, and for
some reason he conceived a deadly hatred of Surcouf.

One sweltering hot day, the ship being becalmed, the men obtained leave
to bathe over the side; after they had finished Surcouf thought he would
like a dip, and took a header from the gangway. No sooner had he done so
than he was seized with a sort of cataleptic fit, and found himself
sinking helplessly. Luckily, it was noticed that he did not come up
again, and some of the crew lowered a boat, while others dived for him,
recovered him, and brought him on board; but all their efforts failed to
evoke any signs of life, and the Portuguese, obviously and brutally
exultant, after declaring repeatedly that Surcouf was dead, seized the
inert body and with his own hands dragged it to the ship's side.

Surcouf, conscious of all that went on around him, realised that, unless
he could make some sign, he had only a few seconds to live. With a
tremendous effort, he contrived a voluntary movement of his limbs--it
was noticed, and the further exertions of his shipmates sufficed to
restore him.

The Portuguese, however, had not done with him. On their next visit to
Africa some of the crew were laid up with malarial fever, and the first
lieutenant caught it. He was very ill, and Surcouf earned the warm
approbation of the captain for the manner in which he performed his
senior's duties on the return voyage. After they arrived at Mauritius he
was just going on shore when he received a message begging him to go and
see the Portuguese, who said he must speak to him before he died.
Surcouf did not much like the idea, but, after some hesitation, he went,
having put a pair of loaded pistols in his pocket. The sick man made a
sign to his servant to retire, and then said:

"I wish to speak to you with a sincere heart before I pass from this
world, to relieve my conscience, and ask your forgiveness for all the
evil I have wished to do you during our voyages."

Surcouf, touched by this appeal, assured him that he bore no malice.
Just then the dying man appeared to suffer from a spasm which contorted
his body, one arm stretching out towards a pillow near him. Surcouf
quietly seized his hand and lifted the pillow, disclosing a couple of
loaded pistols.

He seized them, and, pointing one at his enemy's face, said:

"You miserable beast! I could have shot you like a dog, or squashed you
like a cockroach; but I despise you too much, so I'll leave you to die
like a coward."

Which, we are told, the wretched man did, blaspheming in despairing
rage.

After this, his ship being laid up in consequence of the blockade, he
was appointed junior lieutenant of a colonial man of war, with a
commission signed by the Governor.

Then came news of the death of Louis XVI. by the guillotine--news which
astounded the colonists and seamen, who, in the Indian seas, were
defending the "honour" of France--which they continued to do to the best
of their ability, disregarding the deadly feuds and bloodshed at home.

In October 1794 a little squadron was despatched from Mauritius to
attack a couple of English men-of-war which were practically blockading
the island--these were the _Centurion_, of 54 guns, and the _Diomede_,
of the same force but fewer men; and the French squadron consisted of
the _Prudente_, 40 guns, the _Cybèle_, 44 guns, the _Jean Bart_, 20
guns, and the _Courier_, 14 guns. The Frenchmen attacked with great
spirit, and the English vessels were practically driven off the station;
partly owing, it was said, to the extreme caution displayed by Captain
Matthew Smith, of the _Diomede_, for which he was subsequently called
upon to answer before a court-martial.[14]

In this spirited action, on the French side, Robert Surcouf took part as
a junior lieutenant on board the _Cybèle_. The casualties were heavy,
but he escaped without a single scratch, and was commended for his
courageous attitude. But soon afterwards he found himself at a loose
end, the volunteers being discharged; so he presently accepted the
command of the brig _Creole_, engaged in the slave trade, and made
several successful voyages before the authorities realised that the
traffic was, by a recent ordinance, illegal.

They gave orders to arrest Surcouf upon his arrival at Mauritius; he,
however, having got wind of this intention, steered instead for the Isle
of Bourbon, and there landed his cargo during the night, in a small bay
about ten miles from St. Denis, the capital of the island. At daybreak
he anchored in St. Paul's Bay, in the same island.

About eight o'clock he had a surprise visit from three representatives
of the Public Health Committee, who desired to come on board. Surcouf,
concealing his annoyance, gave permission, and of course they were not
long in discovering undoubted indications of the purpose for which the
brig had been employed. They drew up an indictment on the spot, and
warned Surcouf that he would have to accompany them to answer to it.

"I am at your service, citizens," he replied politely; "but don't go
until you have given me the pleasure of partaking of the breakfast which
my cook has hastily prepared."

The invitation was accepted. The conscientious
commissioners--"improvised negro-lovers, under the bloody Reign of
Terror," as Robert Surcouf's namesake and biographer contemptuously
styles them--were fond of good things, and the sea-air had sharpened
their appetites. Surcouf had a short and earnest conversation with his
mate before he conducted his guests below.

The cook's "hasty" efforts were marvellously attractive, and the wine
was excellent--Surcouf was a bit of a _gourmet_ himself, and liked to
have things nicely done--so what need was there for being in a hurry?

Meanwhile, the mate had dismissed the state canoe of the commissioners,
telling the coxswain that the brig's boat would take them on shore.

Then the cable was quietly slipped, and the _Creole_, under all sail,
rapidly left the anchorage, and, opening the headland, lay over to a
fresh south-west wind. The unaccustomed motion began to tell upon the
landsmen. Surcouf invited them to go on deck, and there was the island,
already separated from the vessel by a considerable tract of
foam-flecked ocean--and Surcouf was in command! In reply to their
threats and remonstrances he told them that he was going to take them
across to Africa, among their friends the negroes, and meanwhile they
could come below and receive his orders.

During the night the wind freshened considerably, and the morning found
the commissioners very anxious to regain terra firma at any cost;
Surcouf had it all his own way. The indictment was destroyed, and a
very different document was drawn up, to the effect that they had found
no traces on board the brig of her having carried negroes, and that she
had been suddenly driven from her anchor by a tidal wave--with other
circumstantial little touches, which amused Surcouf and did them no
great harm. Eight days later he landed them at Mauritius.

He had, however, had enough of slave trading. Of course, his exploit was
the talk of the town, and most people were much amused over his impudent
capture of the commissioners, who were compelled, in view of their
written acquittal, to keep quiet. The general idea was that Surcouf had
displayed qualities which would be extremely useful in the captain of a
privateer; and it was not long before he was offered the command of the
_Emilie_, of 180 tons and 4 guns. Just when she was ready for sea,
however, the Governor let it be understood that, for certain reasons, he
did not intend to issue any privateer commissions. This was a very keen
disappointment; Surcouf obtained an interview with the Governor, who
received him kindly but remained inflexible. Stifling his feelings, he
sought his owners, and asked them what they were going to do. He
received orders to go to the Seychelles for a cargo of turtles, and,
failing these, to fill up with maize, cotton, etc., at these and other
islands, and to fight shy of the cruisers that might be to windward of
the island: a very tame programme.

However, he took comfort from the reflection that, although his ship was
not a regular privateer, she was at least "an armed vessel in time of
war"; and, as such, was permitted to defend herself when attacked; so he
might yet see some fighting.

While at anchor at Seychelles, taking in cargo, two large English
men-of-war unexpectedly appeared in the offing, and Surcouf only escaped
by the clever manner in which he navigated the dangerous channels among
the islands, to the admiration of his crew.

This incident set him thinking, and, calling his staff together, he drew
up a sort of memorandum, setting forth how that they had been obliged to
quit Seychelles on account of these two men-of-war, and could not return
to complete their cargo; and that they had therefore resolved, by common
consent, to go to the coast of "the East"--_i.e._ Sumatra, Rangoon,
etc.--for a cargo of rice and other articles; "and at the same time to
defend ourselves against any of the enemy's ships which we may encounter
on the way, being armed with several guns."

This was signed by Surcouf and his officers and by some of the leading
hands. No doubt it made him feel happier; but he had quite made up his
mind as to his future conduct.

They got in a cyclone south of the Bay of Bengal, and then steered for
Rangoon, off which place they sighted an English vessel steering for
them. She came steadily on, and, when within close range, fired a
shot--the "summoning shot," for the _Emilie_ to display her colours. It
was not an attack, and Surcouf had no right so to consider it; but that
is what he chose to do. Hoisting his colours, he replied with three
shots. The Englishman attempted to escape; but the _Emilie_ was the
faster, and, running alongside, delivered her broadside, upon which the
other struck his colours.

"This was the first time," says his biographer, "that our Malouin had
seen the British flag lowered to him, and though he had had only the
commencement of a fight, his heart swelled with patriotic pride and beat
with hope. The first shot has been fired; the captain of an armed ship
in time of war gives place to the privateer commander. Surcouf arrives
at a decision as to his future--he has passed the Rubicon!"

All very fine; but it was an act of piracy, for which he could have been
hanged at the yardarm. He repeated it shortly afterwards, capturing
three vessels laden with rice, and appropriating one, a pilot brig, in
place of the _Emilie_, which was losing her speed on account of a foul
bottom. A few days later, having now thrown away all hesitation, he
seized a large ship, the _Diana_, also laden with rice, and started to
take her, in company with his stolen brig, the _Cartier_, to Mauritius.

On the voyage, however, Surcouf improved upon his former captures. A
large sail was reported one morning, and it was presently apparent that
she was an East Indiaman. The two French ships had not made much
progress down the Bay of Bengal, and the English vessel was obviously
standing into Balasore Roads, there to await a pilot for the river
Hooghly, unless she picked up one earlier. The account given in _The
Gentleman's Magazine_ for June 1796 states that the Indiaman--the
_Triton_--was at anchor in Balasore Roads when she was sighted. In the
latest life of Surcouf, however, written by his great-nephew and
namesake, it is said that she was standing towards the Orissa coast, on
the starboard tack--Balasore being, of course, in the province of
Orissa, and the open anchorage a convenient place for picking up the
Calcutta pilot. The difference is of some importance with regard to
Surcouf's attack: it is one thing to board and carry a vessel at anchor,
on a hot afternoon, when every one who is not required to be moving
about is having a siesta, and quite another thing to board her when she
is standing in to her anchorage, with the captain and officers on deck,
and the crew standing by to handle the sails; and this latter feat is
what M. Robert Surcouf claims to have been performed by his great-uncle.
It is possible, however, that both accounts may, in a measure, be
correct; that is to say, the _Triton_, when first sighted from aloft on
board the _Cartier_, may have been standing in towards the anchorage,
which she may have reached, and dropped anchor, before the Frenchman
came alongside.

However this may be, Surcouf was quick enough to realise that the
Indiaman, if fought in anything like man-of-war style, was far too
strong for him. He had on board only nineteen persons, including himself
and the surgeon, belonging to the ship, and a few Lascars who had been
transferred from the _Diana_: a ridiculous number to attack an Indiaman.

Finding that he did not gain upon the chase, and knowing that his own
vessel had been a pilot brig, Surcouf hoisted the pilot flag; upon which
the _Triton_ immediately hove to and waited for him; or, possibly,
being already in the roads, dropped anchor; but the story distinctly
says, "met en travers, et permit ainsi de l'atteindre," which has only
one possible interpretation. Surcouf was still some three miles distant,
and kept an anxious eye upon his big opponent, or rather, upon his
possible prey, for the _Triton_ could scarcely be styled an opponent. He
saw that she mounted some six-and-twenty guns, but that they were not
ready for action. He saw also on deck "beaucoup de monde"--a great crowd
of people, most of whom, he hoped, would prove to be Lascars; but he
very shortly discovered that they were nothing of the kind. He was now
within gunshot, and realised that the business might be serious for him;
but the Englishmen were as yet quite unsuspicious, so he harangued his
crew:

"My lads, this Englishman is very strong, and we are only nineteen;
shall we try to take him by surprise, and thus acquire both gain and
glory? Or do you prefer to rot in a beastly English prison-ship?"

It was cleverly put, from his own standpoint: he was spoiling for a
fight, for an opportunity of displaying his masterly strategy and
determined courage, to say nothing of the dollars in prospect; but the
implication was perfectly unjustifiable that the choice lay between a
desperate assault and certain capture. If he did not want to fight, he
had only to sheer off and run for it; no Indiaman would initiate an
action, or give chase, under such circumstances. However, he knew his
audience, and his speech had the desired effect:

"Death or victory!" cried the eighteen heroes.

"Good!" replied their captain, "this ship shall either be our tomb or
the cradle of our glory!"

It was really very fine and melodramatic--more especially since it was
the prelude to an act of undoubted piracy.

This fact, however, does not detract from the merit of a very clever and
bold attack, which was perfectly successful. Making his eighteen heroes
lie down, while the Lascars stood about the deck, he took the helm and
ran down for the _Triton_. The people on board only saw the expected
pilot brig approaching, as no doubt they habitually did, to within a
biscuit-toss, to tranship the pilot. Suddenly she hoisted French colours
and let drive a heavy dose of grape and canister among the Indiaman's
crew. A cry of dismay and astonishment rose from her deck, as every one
instinctively sought shelter from the hail of iron. In another moment
the brig was alongside, and Surcouf was leaping on board at the head of
his small company. The surprise was so complete that there was but
little resistance. The captain and a few others made a brave attempt,
but were killed immediately; the rest were driven below, and the hatches
clapped on. And so, with five killed and six wounded on the English
side, and one killed and one wounded on the French, the thing was over.
Really, it was a masterly affair.

Putting his prisoners on board the _Diana_, which he permitted her
captain to ransom, he left them to make their way to Calcutta; and it is
stated by contemporary Indian newspapers that he treated them with
consideration, and was polite to the lady passengers.

The _Cartier_ was captured by an English man-of-war, but Surcouf carried
the _Triton_ in triumph to Mauritius, where he was, of course, received
with a tremendous ovation.

He was greatly dismayed, however, upon having it pointed out to him by
the Governor that those who choose to go a-pirating are liable to be
called upon to pay the piper. All his captures were condemned, and
forfeited to the Government, as he had not been provided with a letter
of marque. This was perfectly right and proper, though his biographer
tries to make it out an injustice. There was a fearful outcry, of
course, and eventually the matter was referred home, Surcouf appearing
in person to plead his cause; the appeal was successful, and all the
captures were declared to be "good prize," which was very nice for
Surcouf and his owners, who pocketed a good round sum of money. About
the morality of the proceedings the less said the better.

During this period of litigation the privateer hero had, of course,
revisited St. Malo and seen his family and friends; and there he also
fell in love with Mlle. Marie Blaize, to whom he became engaged. But the
sea was calling him again, and he left her without being married.

His new command was the _Clarisse_, 14 guns, with a crew of one hundred
and forty hardy seamen of St. Malo and elsewhere; while Nicolas Surcouf,
brother to the captain, and a man of similar type, was chief officer.
She sailed in July 1798 for the old familiar cruising-ground in the
Indian Ocean; and just after crossing the Equator, fell in with a large
armed English vessel, from which, after a sharp action, she parted,
considerably damaged; but Surcouf consoled himself for this
failure--from which, as his biographer puts it, "there remained only the
glory of having seen the flag of England flying before the victorious
standard of France!"--by the capture of a rich prize off Rio Janeiro;
and anchored in December 1798 at Port Louis, Mauritius, "where his
expected return from Europe was awaited with impatience by those who had
built great hopes upon the conqueror of the _Triton_."

Space does not admit of following the adventures of Robert Surcouf in
detail; his grand-nephew spares no pains, indeed, in this respect,
spinning out his narrative, embellished with admiring outbursts of
national and personal eulogy, in a somewhat tedious fashion. In the
_Clarisse_ Surcouf had more successes, capturing two armed merchant
vessels very cleverly at Sonson, in Sumatra, not without damage, which
rendered it advisable to return to Port Louis to refit: thence, putting
out again, he was on one occasion chased by the English frigate
_Sibylle_; and so hard pressed was he that he was compelled to have
recourse to desperate measures to improve the speed of his vessel: eight
guns were thrown overboard, together with spare spars and other loose
material, the rigging was eased up, the mast wedges loosened, the
between-deck supports knocked away. It was a light breeze, of course,
and these measures have a remarkable effect under such circumstances,
rendering the vessel "all alive," as it were, and exceedingly
susceptible of the smallest variation of pressure on the sails--and so
the _Clarisse_ escaped. Two days later she captured an English vessel,
the _Jane_--which is misnamed _James_ in French narratives--whose
skipper wrote a long account of the affair. She sailed in company with
two Indiamen, the _Manship_ and _Lansdowne_, having been warned that
Surcouf was on the prowl outside. The captain imagined that, by keeping
company with the two large Indiamen--armed vessels, of course--he would
be safe from molestation; but he was sorely mistaken, for when the
privateer hove in sight, and he signalled his consorts, they calmly
sailed on and left the _Jane_ a victim, after a trifling resistance.
Surcouf, being informed that these two large vessels, still in sight,
were Indiamen, contemptuously remarked: "They are two _Tritons_," and he
and his officers expressed the opinion that the captains deserved to be
shot.

Next he encountered two large American ships: there was much ill-feeling
between France and the United States, though war had not been declared,
and when they met they fought like dogs of hostile owners. One of these
vessels Surcouf captured by boarding, the other escaping; and this was
his last cruise in the _Clarisse_.

It is in connection with his next command that Surcouf's name is,
perhaps, most familiar. This was the _Confiance_, a new ship, and by all
accounts a regular beauty. Before he got away, however, he had a
quarrel with Duterte, another privateer captain of some note, commanding
the _Malartic_, who had recourse to a ruse to obtain the pick of the
available seamen in Mauritius for his own ship. Surcouf eventually
contrived to circumvent him, and, after some high words in a café, they
arranged a meeting with swords at daybreak. The Governor, General
Malartic, however, intervened, commanding their attendance at the hour
arranged for the duel, and, after an harangue from him, the two corsairs
embraced and remained friends thereafter--they cruised, in fact, in
consort for a time, in the Bay of Bengal, with much success.

Surcouf's great exploit in the _Confiance_ was the capture of the
_Kent_, East Indiaman, at the end of her voyage. M. Robert Surcouf, in
describing this event, dwells upon every detail, from the moment the
_Kent_ was sighted, with most tedious prolixity, as though this was one
of the decisive battles of the world. What happened is as follows:

On October 7th, 1800, a large sail was sighted at daybreak. After
careful scrutiny, Surcouf decided that she was an Indiaman, a rich
prize, and determined to have her if possible; so he hailed from aloft,
where he was inspecting the stranger: "All hands on deck, make
sail--drinks all round for the men! Clear for action!"

Then, coming down from aloft, he mounted on the companion hatch, ordered
everybody aft, and harangued them--he was great at a speech on an
occasion of the kind, though probably his biographer has embellished
it--told them the Englishman was very strong, but that he intended to
board at once.

"I suppose each one of you is more than equal to one Englishman? Very
good--be armed ready for boarding--and, as it will be very hot work, I
will give you an hour of pillage."

It was very hot work. The _Kent's_ people certainly greatly outnumbered
the privateer's; she had on board a great proportion of the crew of the
_Queen_, another East Indiaman, which had been destroyed by fire on the
coast of Brazil. Surcouf says she had 437 on board, and the _Confiance_
only 130; but the figures for the _Kent_ are probably greatly
exaggerated.

After the exchange of some broadsides, Surcouf at length
out-manoeuvred the English captain, his vessel being probably far more
handy, and succeeded in laying him aboard. Captain Rivington, of the
_Kent_, was a man of heroic courage, and fought at the head of his men
with splendid determination; but the privateer crew had all the
advantage of previous understanding and association. The _Kent's_ men
were undisciplined and but poorly armed for such an encounter, while
Surcouf's, we are told, had each a boarding axe, a cutlass, a pistol,
and a dagger--to say nothing of blunderbusses loaded with six bullets,
pikes fifteen feet long, and enormous clubs--all this, in conjunction
with "drinks all round," and the promise of pillage!

As long as their captain kept his feet the "Kents" maintained the
desperate combat; but when at length he fell mortally wounded, though
his last cry was "Don't give up the ship!" the flag was shortly
lowered, though the chief officer made a desperate attempt to rally the
crew once more.

And then commenced the promised pillage. Surcouf, hearing the loud
complaints of the English, despoiled of their property, was on the point
of angrily restraining his crew, when he remembered his promise, and
stepped back, we are told, with a sigh of regret. But then came the
screams of women.

"Good Lord! I'd forgotten the women!" he cried, and called his officers
to come and protect them, which was very necessary. So hideous was the
scene of plunder, amid the dead and wounded, that Surcouf exerted his
power of will to cut short the time. He landed the prisoners in an Arab
vessel, and arrived at Mauritius with his prize in November.

The French were accused of having behaved with great brutality, even
wantonly poniarding the wounded and dying. This, of course, is denied;
but it does not require a very vivid imagination to picture the scene--a
crowd of half-disciplined men, excited with liquor, brutalised by
bloodshed, elated with victory, turned loose to plunder; some word of
remonstrance from a wounded man, finding his person roughly searched,
and a knife-thrust, or fatal blow with the butt of a pistol, would be
the only reply. Surcouf's protection of the ladies was, however, said to
be effective; and this is probably true.

Surcouf took his flying _Confiance_ back to France, with a letter of
marque; he caught a Portuguese vessel on the passage, and arrived at La
Rochelle on April 13th, 1801. His adventure in the East had not cooled
the ardour of his feelings towards Mlle. Marie Blaize, whom he married
six weeks later; and he now became in his turn the _armateur_ or owner
of privateers.

He was persuaded, however, to go to sea once more in 1807, when war had
broken out again, in a vessel which he named the _Revenant_--_i.e._ the
_Ghost_: and she had for a figure-head a corpse emerging from the tomb,
flinging off the shroud.

With 18 guns and a complement of 192 men, the _Revenant_, a swift
sailer, was quite as formidable as her predecessor; and so effectually
did Surcouf scour the Bay of Bengal and the adjacent seas, so crafty and
determined was he in attack, so swift in pursuit or in flight, that his
depredations called forth an indignant but somewhat illogical memorial,
in December 1807, from the merchants and East India Company to the
Admiralty. The fact was that the British men-of-war on the station were
doing pretty well all that could be done, but the _Revenant_, when it
came to chasing her, was apt to become as ghostly as her
figure-head--she had the heels of all of them, and her captain seemed to
have an intuitive perception as to the whereabouts of danger.

Surcouf eventually settled down as a shipbuilder and shipowner at St.
Malo. He had, of course, made a considerable fortune, and his business
prospered, so he was one of the most wealthy and influential men in the
place. He died in 1827.

Captain Marryat, in one of his novels, "Newton Forster," gives a vivid
description of a fight between Surcouf and the _Windsor Castle_
Indiaman, commanded by the plucky and pugilistic Captain Oughton. Such a
yarn, by an expert seaman and a master-hand, is delightful reading, and
the temptation to transcribe it here is strong. It must, however, be
resisted, as the story is, after all, a fiction, and therefore would be
out of place.

There are other French privateersmen well worthy of notice, did space
permit, foremost among whom is Thurot, who, single-handed, contrived to
harass the English and Irish coasts for months; the brothers Fourmentin,
the eldest of whom has the Rue du Baron Bucaille in Boulogne named after
him, though his biographer informs us that he never called himself
Bucaille, nor was he a baron--but somehow this title became attached to
him.

M. Henri Malo, in "Les Corsaires," tells a story of him which is said to
be traditional in his family, and is certainly entertaining; so it shall
be transcribed as related.

"One evening, several privateer captains were dining together. There was
a leg of mutton for dinner, and a discussion arose as to whether French
mutton was superior or inferior to English. Fourmentin said the only way
to decide the question was to have the two kinds on the table; they had
French mutton, they only wanted a specimen of the English mutton--he
would go and fetch it. Forthwith he proceeded to the harbour, and,
according to his custom, summoned his crew by beating with a hammer on
the bottom of a saucepan. Making sail, he landed in the middle of the
night on the English coast, seized a customs station, and bound the
officers, except six, whom he directed, pistol in hand, to conduct him
to the nearest sheep-fold. Choosing the six finest sheep in the flock,
he made the six customs officers shoulder them and take them on board
his vessel. He gave his six involuntary porters a bottle of rum by way
of reward for their trouble, and straightway made sail for France. He
had left on the flood-tide--he returned on it, with the required sheep,
which he and his colleagues were thus able to appreciate and compare
with the others."

A very good family story, and probably quite as true as many another!

These Frenchmen of whom we have been discoursing were certainly fine
seamen, and intrepid fighters; they had, no doubt, the faults common to
privateers, but they were able and formidable foes, and left their mark
in history.


CONCERNING THE FRONTISPIECE

On July 27th, 1801, capture was made of a remarkable vessel. There was
no fighting, but the ship herself excited a good deal of interest at the
time.

We learn from the captain's log of the British frigate _Immortalité_
that, in the small hours of the morning, a large ship was observed, and
sail was made in chase. At daylight the chase proved to be a
four-masted vessel, fully rigged upon each mast--a common enough object
nowadays, but then almost unique. This was the French privateer
_Invention_, a ship built under the special supervision of the man who
commanded her--M. Thibaut. She was brand-new, having sailed upon her
first voyage only eight days previously, and had already eluded one of
our frigates by superior speed. She was probably a very fast vessel, and
might quite possibly have outsailed the _Immortalité_; but, very
unhappily for Captain Thibaut, another British frigate, the _Arethusa_,
Captain W. Wolley, appeared right in her path. Thus beset, Thibaut's
case was hopeless, and so the _Invention's_ very brief career as a
privateer came to an end, the _Immortalité_--commanded by Captain Henry
Hotham--taking possession at eight o'clock.

Captain Wolley, as senior officer, reported the circumstances to the
Admiralty:

"She is called _L'Invention_, of Bordeaux, mounting 24 guns, with 207
men. She is of a most singular construction, having four masts, and they
speak of her in high terms, though they say she is much under-masted. I
directed Captain Hotham to take her into Plymouth. I should have ordered
her up the river for their lordships' inspection, but I did not choose
to deprive Captain Hotham of his men for so long a time."

The corner of the letter is turned down and on it is written: "Acquaint
him that their lordships are highly pleased with the capture of this
vessel."

There is an enclosure giving the dimensions of the vessel, as follows:

                      Ft. In.
  Length of keel      126 10
  Extreme length      147  4
  Breadth of beam      27  1
  Depth of hold        11  9
  Draft of water       13  9

Mention is also made of a sketch enclosed, but this is not now with the
letter. It is probable, however, that a small woodcut, on the first page
of vol. vii. of _The Naval Chronicle_, is copied from this sketch, and
the frontispiece of this volume is an enlargement and adaptation from
the woodcut.

The _Invention_ had less beam in proportion to her length than was usual
in those days, and perhaps Captain Thibaut was afraid of masting her too
heavily lest she should be "tender" under canvas. Her draft of water is
moderate for her other dimensions, which would be an additional occasion
of anxiety on this score; but, with a large spread of canvas, she would
have been very swift in moderate weather.

There does not appear to be any record to hand as to what became of the
_Invention_, whether she was afterwards sent up the river for the
inspection of their lordships, or taken on as a man-of-war; possibly
some dockyard archives may contain the information.

On August 25th, 1801, the Navy Board reported to the Admiralty that the
_Invention_ had been surveyed, and was a suitable vessel for the Royal
Navy, and asked whether her four masts should be retained; and
September 1st following they ask that the sketch of the ship may be
returned; but there is no reply to be found to either of these letters
in the proper place; so the further correspondence must either have been
lost or placed among other papers. Possibly the ship was not, after all,
taken for the Navy; if she was it would probably be under some other
name.

[Footnote 14: Captain Smith appears, however, to have been very harshly
used, through the implications, rather than any specific accusation, of
his senior, Captain Osborn; and upon his presenting a memorial to the
King (George III.), setting forth the circumstances under which he was
tried in the East Indies, the case was referred to the law officers of
the Crown and the Admiralty Counsel, who declared that the finding of
the court was unwarrantable, and should not be upheld. Captain Smith,
who had been dismissed the Service, was thereupon reinstated; but an
officer who thus "scores" off his superiors is not readily pardoned, and
he was never again employed. It appears to have been a shady business,
with some personal spite in the background.]



SOME AMERICANS



CHAPTER XVII

CAPTAIN SILAS TALBOT


During the American War of Secession in the eighteenth century, as well
as in that of 1812, American seamen took very kindly to privateering.
There were many smart vessels afloat, commanded by intrepid and skilful
men, with hardy and well-trained crews, and British naval historians are
all agreed as to the success of their ventures and the immense amount of
damage inflicted upon our sea-trade by them. Their fast-sailing
schooners were usually able to outpace our men-of-war and privateers,
and so to make their choice between fighting and running away; and they
do not appear to have been averse to fighting when there was the
smallest chance of success, or even against considerable odds.

We find, nevertheless, among American writers, considerable diversity of
opinion as to the advantages of privateering and the conduct of
privateers.

In the _North American Review_ for July 1820, six years after the
conclusion of the last war, there is a most urgent appeal against
privateering, denouncing all privateers, American and others, as
practically pirates, and setting forth in the strongest possible terms
the gross iniquity of the whole business.

Mr. Roosevelt, in his "History of the Naval War of 1812," alludes to
their privateers in very disparaging terms, pointing out that they were
far more keen upon plunder than fighting, and were utterly unreliable;
would fight one day, and run away the next.

Mr. George Coggleshall, in the introduction to his "History of the
American Privateers during our War with England in the years 1812-14,"
says: "I commence my plea, soliciting public approbation in favour of
privateersmen, and for those who served in private armed vessels in the
war"; and quotes Jefferson in support of his views.

Mr. E.S. Maclay, in his "History of American Privateers," says: "In
general, the conduct of American privateersmen on the high seas was most
commendable."

It is, of course, most natural that these writers should stand up for
their countrymen, and Englishmen, as has already been stated, are not
slow to acknowledge the prowess of American privateersmen. For the
details of actions between these and British vessels we are indebted
almost entirely to American accounts, and particularly to the two works
above mentioned; such engagements are usually only referred to in the
briefest terms, or altogether unnoticed, in our naval histories; and the
American writers--especially Mr. Coggleshall--display a bitterly hostile
spirit which is apt to be very detrimental to the merits of so-called
history. And so, while there is no intention of questioning their good
faith, one is at least at liberty to wonder where they obtained their
information.

According to these writers, British naval officers and privateersmen
habitually treated prisoners of war with shocking, wanton brutality:
while the Americans exhibited invariable kindness, even beneficence,
towards British prisoners: an allegation to which it is impossible to
accord full credence, especially when statements are made without
reference or authentication.

Moreover, the exploits of American privateersmen are frequently
exhibited in an artificially heroic light; the most trivial and obvious
measures for the safety of the ship, for instance, related as though
they demonstrated extraordinary qualities of courage and resource; while
the "long bow" is occasionally conspicuously in evidence, the author
apparently not possessing the requisite technical knowledge to perceive
the absurdity of some story which he has come across.

In support of his contention that the conduct of American privateers was
admirable, Mr. Maclay tells the following story, which, he says,
appeared in a London newspaper in December 1814--he does not tell us the
precise date, or the name of the paper. Still, here is the story (page
15):

"A trading vessel laden with wheat, from Cardigan, was taken in the
Channel by an American privateer. When the captain of the latter entered
the cabin to survey the prize, he espied a small box with a hole in the
top, on which the words 'Missionary Box' were inscribed. On seeing this
the American captain seemed not a little astonished, and addressed the
Welsh captain as follows:

"'Captain, what is this?' pointing to the box with his stick. (Why a
_stick_, at sea?)

"'Oh,' replied the honest Cambrian, heaving a sigh, ''tis all over now.'

"'What?' said the American captain.

"'Why, the truth is,' said the Welshman, 'that I and my poor fellows
have been accustomed, every Monday morning, to drop a penny each into
that box for the purpose of sending out missionaries to preach the
Gospel to the heathen; but it is all over now.'

"'Indeed,' answered the American captain; 'that is very good.'

"After pausing a few minutes, he said, 'Captain, I'll not hurt a hair of
your head, nor touch your vessel'; and he immediately departed, leaving
the owner to pursue his course."

There is no disputing the humanity of this American privateer skipper,
if the tale be true; but one would be disposed to wonder what his owners
said to him about the business. They might want to know what he meant by
allowing a Welshman to score off him by means of a pious fraud! A
privateer skipper, however religiously disposed, should not put to sea
without his sense of humour.

"A still more forcible illustration of the humanity of American
privateersmen," says Mr. Maclay (page 16), "is had early in 1782, when
the private armed sloop _Lively_, Captain D. Adams, of Massachusetts,
rescued the officers and crew of the British frigate _Blonde_, which
had been wrecked on a barren and desolate island. The treatment which
all American prisoners, and especially privateersmen, had received at
the hands of the British would have almost justified the commander of
the _Lively_ in leaving these shipwrecked mariners to their fate. But
the American jack tar is a generous fellow, and nothing appeals so
strongly to his compassion as a fellow-seaman in distress, and on this
occasion the people of the _Lively_ extended every assistance to their
enemies and brought them safely into port."

Really, they would have been no better than pirates if they had left
them there. There does not appear to be any reason for supposing that
American privateersmen were either more or less scrupulous than their
British cousins; there was always plunder in view on both sides, and, if
plunder could be obtained without fighting, so much the better.

The editor of _De Bow's Commercial Review_ (vol. i., page 518, June
1846), in a note appended to an article upon privateering, says:
"Privateering constitutes a separate chapter in the laws of nations.
Every nation has resorted to this method of destroying the commerce of
the enemy, without questioning for a moment their right of doing so.
Many have affected to consider it, after all, but legalised piracy, and
calculated to blunt the finer feelings of justice and sear the heart to
noble sentiments. We are at a loss, ourselves, to understand how the
occupation of a mere privateer can be reconciled with any of the higher
feelings of our nature: an occupation whose whole end and purpose is
pillage upon the high seas and pecuniary gain out of the fiercest
bloodshed. The love of country, patriotic self-devotion, and ardour,
have no place in such concerns.... It cannot be doubted, that men
estimable in other respects have been found in the pursuit of
privateering; but exceptions of this kind are rare, and could not, we
think, occur again, in the improved moral sense of mankind."

With these preliminary remarks, let us now recount the doings of some of
the American privateersmen, commencing with Silas Talbot.


CAPTAIN--OR COLONEL--SILAS TALBOT

"The Life and Surprising Adventures of Captain Silas Talbot; containing
a Curious Account of the Various Changes and Gradations of this
Extraordinary Character." Such is the title of a small volume published
in America about the year 1803; and the editor states that the bulk of
the information contained therein was communicated personally by Talbot,
and has since been substantially confirmed from various quarters.

Silas Talbot, we learn, was born at Dighton, Mass., about the year 1752,
and commenced his career at sea as cabin-boy. At the age of twenty-four,
however, he blossoms into a captain in the U.S. Army--or the rebel army,
according to British notions--in the year 1776; and by virtue, we must
suppose, of his nautical training, he was placed in command of a
fireship at New York, and soon after promoted to the rank of major--but
still with naval duties. He speedily attracted attention as a daring and
ingenious officer, and was very successful in several enterprises, the
most notable being the conquest and capture of a well-armed stationary
British vessel, moored in the east passage off Rhode Island. He made the
attack at night, and devised an ingenious plan for breaching the high
boarding-nettings of the Britisher, fixing at the bowsprit end of his
sloop a small anchor, which, being forcibly rammed into the net by the
impetus of the vessel, tore it away. The attack was devised as a
surprise, but the approach of the gallant Talbot was observed, and it
was under a heavy fire that he and his men succeeded in their desperate
enterprise.

In 1779, having meanwhile been promoted to the rank of colonel, he
commenced his career as a privateer commander. The British had a
considerable number of private ships of war afloat on the American coast
at that time, and Talbot was placed in command of the _Argo_, a sloop of
under 100 tons, armed with twelve 6-pounders, and carrying 60 men. She
was very heavily sparred--with one mast, of course, and an immense
mainsail, the main boom being very long and thick. She was steered with
a long tiller, had very high bulwarks, a wide stern, and looked like a
clumsy Albany trader; we are told, however, that "her bottom was her
handsomest part," which is only another way of saying that, with her big
spars, she was, in spite of her uncouth appearance, a swift and handy
craft.

In this little stinging wasp Talbot set forth, and, after one or two
indecisive skirmishes, he encountered the _King George_, a privateer
commanded by one Hazard, a native of Rhode Island, who had been very
busy. Captain Hazard had been greatly esteemed, until he elected to
fight on the British side, "for the base purpose of plundering his
neighbours and old friends"; after which he was naturally regarded with
the bitterest hatred, and Talbot approached to the attack, no doubt,
with a grim determination to put a stop to the depredations of the
renegade.

The _King George_ was of superior force to the _Argo_, carrying 14 guns
and 80 men; but her captain apparently permitted Talbot to come to close
quarters without opposition, for the writer tells us that he "steered
close alongside him, pouring into his decks a whole broadside, and
almost at the same instant a boarding party, which drove the crew of the
_King George_ from their quarters, and took possession of her without a
man on either side being killed."

Talbot was, unquestionably, a born fighter and well versed in nautical
strategy and attack; but the writer of these records strikes one as
being an enthusiastic and ingenuous person, without practical knowledge
of seamanship or warfare, and consequently liable to be imposed upon by
any one who could not resist the temptation to tell a "good yarn." Silas
Talbot may have been afflicted with this weakness, for all we know. It
is a genuine American characteristic, and by no means incompatible with
the highest attributes of personal courage and skill in warfare.
However, there is no cause to doubt the truth of the account of the
capture of the _King George_, for which Talbot and his men deserve
credit.

The next antagonist of the _Argo_ was the British privateer _Dragon_, of
300 tons, 14 guns, and 80 men--rather a small armament and crew for a
vessel of that tonnage, in those days.

This was a desperate engagement, carried on for four and a half hours,
at pistol-shot. The gallant Talbot had some narrow shaves, for we are
told that his speaking-trumpet was pierced with shot in two places, and
the skirts of his coat torn off by a cannon-shot! We cannot avoid the
conclusion that the gentle narrator was, in vulgar parlance, being "had"
over this story. A modern small-bore bullet, with high velocity, would
probably make a clean hole through a tin speaking-trumpet, which might
possibly be retained in the hand, if held very firmly, during the
process. But a clumsy, slow-sailing pistol or musket ball of that period
would simply double up the tin tube and send it flying; while as to the
coat-tails--well, it is not stated that Captain Talbot experienced any
discomfort in sitting down afterwards, or inconvenience for lack of
anything to sit upon. It was a most discriminating cannon-ball!

Nearly all the men on deck--a vessel like the _Argo_ certainly did not
fight any men _below_--were either killed or wounded; and the _Dragon_,
losing her mainmast, at length struck her colours.

Then came an alarm that the _Argo_ was sinking; "but," says the gentle
story-teller, "the captain gave orders to inspect the sides of the
sloop, upon which he found several shot-holes between wind and water,
which they plugged up." And a very good device, too, though a somewhat
obvious one, to prevent a vessel from sinking!

Having refitted his ship, Talbot put out again, this time with the
_Saratoga_, another privateer, of Providence, commanded by Captain
Munroe, in company; and in due course they came across the _Dublin_, a
very smart English privateer cutter of 14 guns, coming out of Sandy
Hook. It was agreed that Talbot should first give chase, for fear the
sight of two vessels bearing down upon him should make the Britisher
shy: rather a transparent device, since Munroe's craft was in sight, at
no great distance, the whole time. The Englishman, however, awaited the
attack, and a spirited duel ensued by the space of an hour. When Munroe
thought it was time for him to cut in, he found that his ship would not
answer her helm. This is explained as follows: "The _Saratoga_ was
steered with a long wooden tiller on common occasions, but in time of
action the wooden tiller was unshipped and put out of the way, and she
was then steered with an iron one that was shipped into the rudder-head
from the cabin.... The _Saratoga_ went away with the wind at a smart
rate, to the surprise of Captain Talbot, and the still greater surprise
of Captain Munroe, who repeatedly called to the helmsman, 'Hard
a-weather! Hard up, there!' 'It is hard up, sir!' 'You lie, you
blackguard! She goes away lasking! Hard a-weather, I say, again!' 'It is
hard a-weather, indeed, sir!' Captain Munroe was astonished, and could
not conceive what the devil was the matter with his vessel. He took in
the after-sails, and made all the head-sail in his power. All would not
do--away she went! He was in the utmost vexation lest Captain Talbot
should think he was running away. At last one of his under-officers
suggested that possibly the iron tiller had not entered the rudder-head,
which, on examination, was found to be the case. The blunder was now
soon corrected, and the _Saratoga_ was made to stand towards the enemy;
and, that some satisfaction might be made for his long absence, Captain
Munroe determined, as soon as he got up, to give her a whole broadside
at once. He did so, and the _Dublin_ immediately struck her colours;
yet, strange to tell, it did not appear, on strict inquiry and
examination afterwards, that this weight of fire, which was meant to
tear the cutter in pieces, had done the vessel or crew the least
additional injury."

Here is a capital yarn, for the uninitiated; but it serves to illustrate
the danger of entering upon technical details without adequate
understanding. It may be true enough that the tiller was not properly
shipped in the first instance; but, this granted, to begin with, any
sailing-vessel that is properly trimmed will, upon letting go the
tiller, come up into the wind, instead of running off it. Even
admitting, however, that the _Saratoga_ was so "slack on her helm," in
nautical parlance, as to "go away lasking"--_i.e._ almost before the
wind--under such conditions, the very last order the captain would give
would be "Hard up," or "Hard a-weather," which would only cause her to
run away worse than ever; while taking in the after-sail and piling on
head sail would aggravate the evil! If the writer had represented
Captain Munroe as shouting, "Hard down! Hard a-lee, you blackguard!"
hauling in his mainsheet and taking off the head-sail, one might believe
that Talbot or some other sailor-man had told the story. As it stands,
it is ridiculous; but it is repeated, word for word, in various
accounts--among others by Mr. Maclay.

Well, the _Dublin_ was captured, hauling down her colours after Munroe's
innocuous broadside; and Talbot's next antagonist was the _Betsy_, an
English privateer of 12 guns and 38 men, "commanded by an honest and
well-informed Scotchman." After some palaver at pistol-shot, Talbot
hoisted the stars and stripes, crying, "You must now haul down those
British colours, my friend!" To which the Scot replied, "Notwithstanding
I find you an enemy, as I suspected, yet, sir, I believe I shall let
them hang a little longer, with your permission. So fire away,
Flanagan!"

Had the honest Scot been of the same type of privateer captain as George
Walker he would certainly have banged in his broadside before the stars
and stripes were well above the rail, and perhaps altered the outcome of
the action. As it was, Talbot took him, killing or wounding the captain
and principal officers and several men.

The little _Argo_ was subsequently put out of commission and returned to
her owners; and in 1780 Talbot was given command of another privateer,
the _General Washington_. After making one capture, however, he was
taken, we are told, by an English squadron off Sandy Hook, and sent on
board the _Robuste_, Captain Cosby, where he was courteously treated.
Being transferred, however, to a tender--name not stated--for conveyance
to New York, the commander--"a Scotch lord," we are told, "put his
gallant captive into the hold. The only excuse for this dastardly
behaviour is to be found in the craven fears of his lordship. By a
remarkable coincidence, the pilot he employed was the same formerly on
board the _Pigot_ (the stationary vessel captured by Talbot at Rhode
Island), and this man so frightened his superior with the story of his
prisoner's reckless daring that he--notwithstanding a written
remonstrance which Captain Talbot forwarded to the British admiral--was
thus kept confined below until they reached New York; and the arm-chest
was removed to the cabin."

This is quoted from "The Life of Silas Talbot," by Henry T. Tuckerman,
published in 1850. The story is given for what it is worth. Had the name
of the tender and of the so readily scared "Scotch lord" been given, it
would have been more worthy of consideration.

After this Talbot was confined on board the _Jersey_ prison-ship, off
Long Island, where it is said that prisoners were treated with gross
inhumanity; and being eventually conveyed to England on board the
_Yarmouth_, was kept in prison on Dartmoor, where he made four desperate
attempts to escape. He was liberated in the summer of 1781, and found
his way home to Rhode Island. He died in New York, June 30th, 1813.



CHAPTER XVIII

CAPTAIN JOSHUA BARNEY


Among the earlier privateersmen in the War of Secession was Joshua
Barney, a naval officer, who, after having been a prisoner of war for
five months, was released by exchange, and, failing naval employment,
went as first officer of a privateer under Captain Isaiah Robinson--also
a naval officer.

Barney had previously made a venture on his own account in a small
trading-vessel, which was speedily captured, the English captain landing
his prisoners on the Chesapeake.

After some difficulty, Robinson secured a brig named _Pomona_; she
carried a scratch armament of 12 guns of various sizes and a crew of 35
men. The vessel was laden with tobacco for Bordeaux, and the primary
object was to get the cargo through safely: but Robinson and Barney,
with their naval training, were by no means averse to a fight, and they
had only been out a few days when the opportunity arose, a fast-sailing
brig giving chase and quickly overhauling the _Pomona_.

At 8 p.m. on a February evening, with a bright moon, the stranger came
within hail, ran up her colours, and asked, "What ship is that?" The
American ran up his flag, and the Englishman immediately shouted to haul
it down.

Upon this Robinson delivered his broadside, which inflicted considerable
damage upon the other, bringing down his foretopsail, cutting some of
his rigging, and causing, we are told, much surprise and confusion on
board--though why the Englishmen should be surprised it is difficult to
comprehend, as it is to be presumed that they chased with the intention
of fighting.

Then commenced a running action, which lasted until nearly midnight. The
English captain, finding that the _Pomona_ had no stern-gun ports,
endeavoured to keep as much as possible astern and on the quarter where
he could ply his bow-guns without receiving much in return; but, we are
told, the crew had been thrown into such confusion by the _Pomona's_
first broadside that they were able to fire _only one or two shots every
half-hour_--three or four rounds an hour; so Robinson had a port cut in
his stern, and ran out a 3-pounder gun there; and, when the English
vessel was coming up again for another of her leisurely discharges, she
received a dose of grape which caused her captain to haul off--nor did
he venture near enough during the night to fire another shot.

Daylight showed the English brig to be armed with sixteen guns; and
several officers were observed, displaying themselves in conspicuous
places, in uniforms resembling those of the Navy. This was supposed to
be a ruse, whereby the Americans were to be demoralised, imagining
themselves to be engaged with a regular ship of war. "This, the English
thought," says Mr. Maclay, "would show the Americans the hopelessness
of the struggle, and would induce them to surrender without further
resistance"; but he does not know what the English thought, or whether
the officers in this privateer habitually dressed in some kind of
uniform of their own.

However, the enemy, about sunrise, approached the quarter of the
_Pomona_ with the obvious intention of boarding; and then the 3-pounder
came into play once more. It was loaded with grape-shot, "and the charge
was topped off by a crowbar stuck into the muzzle." Waiting until the
enemy was just about to board, Robinson, with his own hand, let go this
charge of grape and crowbar, "and with such accurate aim" (at, say, ten
yards range!) "that the British were completely baffled in their
attempt, their foresails and all their weather foreshrouds being cut
away."

Well, one cannot, of course, say that this is untrue; but that 3-pounder
was certainly a marvellous little piece. It carried a solid ball, the
size of which may be judged by any one who will toss up a three-pound
weight from an ordinary set of scales, and the bore of the gun was just
large enough to admit it easily; yet we are told that the charge of
grape--small iron or leaden bullets--was equal to cutting all the
foreshrouds, and all the head-sail halyards--if this is what is meant by
"foresails," which is a vague term, not in use among seamen.

This, however, is the story; and the English captain immediately putting
his helm "hard up" to take the strain off his unsupported foremast,
Robinson took occasion to give him a raking broadside; and this was the
last shot fired, the Englishman failing to come up to the scratch again,
and the _Pomona_ proceeding on her voyage.

The British vessel was said to be the privateer _Rosebud_, with a crew
of one hundred men, of whom forty-seven were killed and wounded; we are
not told the _Pomona's_ loss. Captain Duncan, of the _Rosebud_,
complained at New York that the Americans had not "fought fair," using
"langrage"--_i.e._ rough bits of iron, old nails, etc.; but this
illusion was put down to the crowbar--quite a legitimate missile!

There is no British account to hand of this action; but it is impossible
to feel any great admiration of the "Rosebuds," in allowing a vessel of
such inferior force to beat them off. They must have been sadly lacking
in thorns!

The _Pomona_ reached Bordeaux in safety, and there her captain, having
sold his tobacco, purchased a more satisfactory lot of guns, powder, and
shot, and raised his crew to 70 men; and, having shipped a cargo of
brandy, made sail on his return voyage to America.

On the road he encountered a British privateer of 16 guns and 70 men;
after several encounters, the Englishman all the while endeavouring to
escape, Robinson captured her: British loss, 12 killed, and "a number"
wounded; American loss, 1 killed, 2 wounded.

The _Pomona_, however, was destined to have her career cut short by
capture, and then there commenced a series of adventures for Joshua
Barney as a prisoner of war. We are not told when or by whom the
_Pomona_ was captured; Mr. Maclay, on page 148, says: "In the chapter on
'Navy Officers in Privateers', mention was made of the capture of the
armed brig, _Pomona_, commanded by Captain Isaiah Robinson, who had, as
his first officer, Lieutenant Joshua Barney, also of the regular
service." There is nothing, however, to be found, in the chapter
referred to, about the capture of the _Pomona_. The final allusion is to
her safe arrival in America from Bordeaux, probably in September 1779.

However, it appears that Joshua Barney became a prisoner some time
between September 1779 and the autumn of 1780, and was placed in one of
the prison-ships. The arrival of Admiral Byron, it is said, brought
about a welcome change in the prison administration; some additional
ships were ordered for the accommodation of the American officers, and
the admiral personally inspected all the prison-ships once a week; while
some of the officers who belonged to the regular navy were taken on
board the flagship _Ardent_.

Barney, it appears, was selected for special consideration by Admiral
Byron, having a boat placed at his service, and being entrusted with the
duty of visiting the prison-ships in which his compatriots were confined
and reporting upon their condition to the admiral. The only restriction
placed upon his liberty was the obligation to sleep on board the
_Ardent_: he was certainly a most highly favoured prisoner of war.

Upon one occasion, landing in New York in his American naval uniform, to
breakfast with one of the admiral's staff, he was seized upon by an
infuriated mob, who were proceeding to throw him into a fire which was
raging, alleging that he had originated the conflagration. A British
officer fortunately intervened and explained the situation.

Upon the advent of Admiral Rodney, however, this pleasant time came to
an end; and in November--_not_ December, as in Mr. Maclay's
account--1780, Barney, in company with about seventy other American
officers, was placed on board the _Yarmouth_, a 64-gun ship, under the
command of Captain Lutwidge, for conveyance to England; and here is Mr.
Maclay's description of the treatment they received.

"From the time these Americans stepped aboard the _Yarmouth_ their
captors gave it to be understood, by hints and innuendoes, that they
were being taken to England to 'be hanged as rebels'; and, indeed, the
treatment they received aboard the _Yarmouth_ on the passage over led
them to believe that the British officers intended to cheat the gallows
of their prey by causing the prisoners to die before reaching port. On
coming aboard the ship of the line these officers were stowed away in
the lower hold, next to the keel, under five decks, and many feet below
the water-line. Here, in a twelve-by-twenty-foot room, with up-curving
floor, and only three feet high, the seventy-one men were stowed for
fifty-three days like so much merchandise, without light or good air,
unable to stand upright, with no means and with no attempt made to
remove the accumulating filth! Their food was of the poorest quality,
and was supplied in such insufficient quantities that, whenever one of
the prisoners died, the survivors concealed the fact until the body
began to putrefy, in order that the dead man's allowance might be added
to theirs. The water served them to drink was so thick with repulsive
matter that the prisoners were compelled to strain it between compressed
teeth.

"From the time the _Yarmouth_ left New York till she reached Plymouth,
in a most tempestuous winter's passage, these men were kept in this
loathsome dungeon. Eleven died in delirium, their wild ravings and
piercing shrieks appalling their comrades, and giving them a foretaste
of what they themselves might soon expect. Not even a surgeon was
permitted to visit them. Arriving at Plymouth the pale, emaciated,
festering men were ordered to come on deck. Not one obeyed, for they
were unable to stand upright. Consequently they were hoisted up, the
ceremony being grimly suggestive of the manner in which they had been
treated--like merchandise. And what were they to do, now that they had
been placed on deck? The light of the sun, which they had scarcely seen
for fifty-three days, fell upon their weak, dilated pupils with blinding
force, their limbs unable to uphold them, their frames wasted by disease
and want. Seeking for support, they fell in a helpless mass, one upon
the other, waiting and almost hoping for the blow that was to fall upon
them next. Captain Silas Talbot was one of these prisoners.

"To send them ashore in this condition was 'impracticable,' so the
British officers said, and we readily discover that this 'impracticable'
served the further purpose of diverting the just indignation of the
landsfolk, which surely would be aroused if they saw such brutality
practised under St. George's cross. Waiting, then, until the captives
could at least endure the light of day, and could walk without leaning
on one another or clutching at every object for support, the officers
had them moved to old Mill Prison."

This is a terrible picture of the treatment of American prisoners of
war, in striking contrast to the generous conduct of Vice-Admiral the
Hon. John Byron--to give him his correct title--towards Barney and his
fellow-prisoners. If it is to be accepted as absolutely true, it should
make Englishmen blush to read it, constituting a shameful record against
us, as represented by Captain Lutwidge and his subordinates.

But is it absolutely true? This question is suggested, in the first
instance, by the utter wildness of the writer's chronology with regard
to the pleasing episode in connection with Admiral Byron; for it was
during Joshua Barney's _first_ period of imprisonment that he came in
contact with Byron, in the year 1778. It could not have been after the
capture of the _Pomona_, as Byron was in the West Indies in the summer
of 1779, in pursuit of the French Admiral D'Estaing, and returned thence
to England, arriving on October 10th in that year--he was not employed
again. Moreover, during the time of Barney's second imprisonment, at New
York, there was no _Ardent_ on the Navy List: she was captured by the
French on August 17th, 1779--while Barney was on his homeward voyage in
the _Pomona_--and recaptured in April 1782.

Such reckless chronicling might well discredit the whole of this
writer's account of the incidents; fortunately--or unfortunately--for
him, however, there is another source of information in a "Biographical
Memoir of Commodore Barney," by Mary Barney--his daughter,
perhaps--published in 1832, in which the dates are more consistent with
possibilities. Probably Mr. Maclay derived his information from this
volume, and, by an extraordinary oversight, confused the two periods.

From this record it appears that Barney was a lieutenant on board the
frigate _Virginia_ when she was captured by the British on April 1st,
1778, and that he was very kindly treated by two English captains,
Caldwell and Onslow, under whose charge he found himself for a time and
subsequently, as related, by Admiral Byron.[15] Moreover, it is here
stated that it was while serving on board a regular war-ship, the
_Saratoga_, that Barney was a second time made prisoner, being captured
when in charge of a prize, and not on board the _Pomona_ at all: so here
is more recklessness of narration, which appears quite inexcusable, as
the writer, it is to be presumed, had access to this memoir, which is
said to be compiled from Barney's own statements to the author.

Now, with regard to the shocking treatment of the prisoners on board the
_Yarmouth_.

Mary Barney disclaims any wish to aggravate the case, declaring that she
had the story from the lips of Joshua Barney, and appeals to his
generous recognition of former kindness as a guarantee against wilful
misrepresentation on this occasion.

Very good. But there is in existence the captain's log of the
_Yarmouth_, also his letter to the Admiralty, reporting his arrival in
England, and these official documents tend to discredit the dismal story
in some important particulars.

The _Yarmouth_, we learn, sailed on November 15th, 1780, and arrived at
Plymouth on December 29th--so she was forty-four, not fifty-three days
at sea. The weather was very rough, and the ship developed some serious
leaks, which increased alarmingly through the straining in the heavy
sea. Under these circumstances, the ship's company being very sickly,
with more than one hundred men actually on the sick list--one hundred
and eleven, according to the "State and Condition" report on
arrival--Captain Lutwidge states that he had the prisoners
"watched"--_i.e._ divided into port and starboard watch, and set them to
the pumps: "I found it necessary to employ the prisoners at the pumps,
and on that account to order them whole allowance of provisions--the
ship's company, from their weak and sickly state, being unequal to that
duty."

According to the log, _five_ prisoners, not eleven, died on the voyage,
the deaths and burials at sea being precisely recorded.

So here we have the official record that, while the ship's company were
too much enfeebled by sickness to work the pumps--in addition, of
course, to constant handling of the heavy sails and spars in tempestuous
weather--the American prisoners were sufficiently robust to perform this
duty, and probably save the vessel from serious peril through her leaky
condition.

In order to do this they must have been called on deck and mustered,
placed in watches, and subsequently summoned in regular turn for their
"spell" at the pumps.

This story is obviously incompatible with the other, and it is, to say
the least of it, very remarkable that this pumping in watches, and full
provision allowance, should have been entirely forgotten by Barney in
his narration.

It is certainly open to any one, in view of this omission, to question
the accuracy of other statements; to hesitate before accepting the story
of seventy-one men being confined in a space twenty feet by twelve and
only six inches higher than an ordinary table; of eleven of them dying
in shrieking delirium, denied medical attendance, and six out of eleven
deaths being suppressed. The treatment of our American prisoners was
undoubtedly sometimes unduly harsh, but it is impossible to accept this
story as literally true.

Mr. Maclay's book and Mary Barney's memoirs are alike accessible to any
one, and for this reason it is necessary that the other side should be
heard--Joshua Barney having been a very prominent American
privateersman.

While on the subject, it is as well to refer to the treatment of
prisoners in Mill Prison, at Plymouth, of which Mr. Maclay has a good
deal to say; and in support of his contention as to their being placed
upon a different diet from other prisoners of war, he has two sentences
in inverted commas (page 152), which are stated in a footnote to be
quoted from the _Annual Register_ of 1781, page 152; but no such
passages occur there, nor in adjacent pages.

It is, however, perfectly true that a petition was presented, on June
20th, 1781, to the House of Lords, and discussed on July 2nd following,
from these prisoners. The only complaint which was found to be
substantiated was that the Americans were allowed half a pound less
bread daily than the French and other nationalities. It would have been
more accurate to put it that the French had half a pound more--for this
was stated to be supplied, as being equal to the allowance to British
prisoners in France. The question of increasing the allowance was put to
the vote, and negatived; but it was shown that the American prisoners'
diet was, as a whole, superior to that allowed to our own troops on
board transports; and their health was stated to be excellent, which is
borne out by the fact, as stated by Mr. Maclay, that they indulged in
athletic games as a pastime. Men who are half naked and nearly starving
do not indulge in such pastimes.

And now for the continued adventures of Joshua Barney, privateersman.
Bold and resourceful, he determined to face the difficulties of escape,
and the very unpleasant consequences of detection.

One day, playing at leap-frog, he pretended to have sprained his ankle,
and for some time afterwards went about on crutches, maintaining the
deception so skilfully as to throw the warders off their guard, and
completely deceive all but a few of his intimate friends. He had already
paved the way, by making friends with a soldier of the prison guard, who
had served in the British army in America, and had there received some
kindness, which he was willing to requite by civility to the Americans
in Mill Prison.

On May 18th, 1781, this man was on sentry outside the inner gate--the
prison being encircled by two high walls, with a space between--and
Barney, hopping by on his crutches, whispered through the gate: "Today?"
"Dinner," replied the sentry, with equal terseness, which meant one
o'clock, when the warders dined. The friendly but disloyal soldier had
provided Barney with the undress uniform of a British officer--which
appears an unusual sort of thing for a private soldier to be able to lay
hands upon without detection--and this Barney donned in his cell,
putting on his greatcoat over it--his greatcoat, which, since he
sprained his ankle, he had been wearing "for fear he should catch cold":
Barney was a man of details.

Still upon crutches, he left his cell, and, at a prearranged signal,
some of his friends proceeded to engage the several sentries in
conversation, while one, a stalwart individual, stood close by the gate.

Throwing aside his crutches, Barney walked across the enclosure towards
the gate, and, first exchanging a reassuring wink with the sentry,
sprang with catlike agility upon the shoulders of his athletic
accomplice, and in a moment was over the wall. Slipping off his
greatcoat, and "tipping" the soldier to the extent of four guineas, he
passed through the gate in the outer wall, which was usually left open
for the convenience of the prison officials, but with an attendant on
duty who, though we are not told that he had been "squared," obligingly
turned his back as the escaping prisoner passed through.

So far, so good. And really Joshua Barney is to be congratulated upon
the accommodating character of his custodians, which rendered it
possible for him to cross the prison-yard at one o'clock on a May day
and scale the wall, while the sentries conversed with his friends and
the warders enjoyed their dinner, having previously been permitted to
malinger with a sham sprained ankle. We are told that he had it bathed
and bandaged for some time without being challenged and detected by the
surgeon, though somebody in authority must have provided him with
crutches. It appears somewhat absurd to insist upon the rigour of
confinement in Mill Prison, in the face of this.

However, Barney was free, and he had friends near by who concealed him,
and took him on to the house of an old clergyman in Plymouth in the
evening. No immediate inquiry was made for him in the prison, for he had
provided a substitute to answer his name at roll-call in the cell every
day--a "slender youth," we are told, "who was able to creep through the
window-bars at pleasure," and so crawled into Barney's cell and answered
for him. We are not told who the "slender youth" was, or how, if he was
an American prisoner, he contrived also to answer for himself in his
own cell. Anyhow, this was an amazingly slack prison, for any such freak
to be possible.

Finding two fellow-countrymen who had been captured as passengers in a
merchant vessel and were looking for a chance of returning, they secured
a fishing-smack, Barney rigged himself up in an old coat tied with
tarred rope round the waist and a tarpaulin hat, and soon after daybreak
they sailed down the River Plym, past the forts and men-of-war, and
safely out to sea.

But they were not destined so easily to reach the coast of France,
whence they hoped to find a passage to America. An inconveniently
zealous British privateer from Guernsey boarded the smack, and the
skipper was unduly inquisitive. Upon Barney opening his coat and showing
his British uniform, the privateersman, though more polite, was
obviously suspicious. What business had a British officer on the enemy's
coast?--for Barney had stated that he was bound there. Barney made an
official mystery of his "business," and refused to reveal it--a state
secret, and so on.

No use! The privateer captain's sensitive conscience would not permit
him to let the smack go, and so the two vessels beat up for the English
coast in company, and on the following morning came to anchor in a small
harbour about six miles from Plymouth, probably Causand Bay. Here the
privateer captain went on shore, on his way to Plymouth, to report to
Admiral Digby, while most of his crew also landed to avoid the risk of
being taken by the press-gang on board. Barney, however, though he was
treated with courtesy, was detained on board the privateer.

There was a boat made fast astern, and into this the American quietly
slipped, hurting his leg as he did so, and sculled on shore, shouting to
some of the idlers on the beach to help him haul up the boat.

The customs officer was disposed to be inquisitive and talkative, but
Barney pointed to the blood oozing through his stocking, and said he
must go off and get his leg tied up.

"Pray, sir," he said, "can you tell me where our people are?"

He was told they were at the Red Lion, at the end of the village, which
he discovered, much to his annoyance, that he was obliged to pass. He
had almost succeeded in doing so unobserved, when one of the men shouted
after him, and, approaching, gave him to understand that some of the
privateer's crew had an idea of shipping in the Navy, and wanted some
particulars from him; showing that his disguise had deceived them.

Barney invited the man to accompany him to Plymouth, walking away
rapidly while he spoke; but, as Mr. Maclay puts it, the tar "seemed to
think better of his plan of entering a navy noted for its cruelty to
seamen," and accordingly turned back.

Barney now began to be very anxious about his safety. He was on the high
road to Plymouth, where he might at any moment encounter a guard sent
out to recapture him; so he jumped over a hedge into Lord
Mount-Edgecumbe's grounds, where the gardener, pacified by a "tip," let
him out by a private gate to the waterside--and none too soon, for, as
he passed out, the guard sent to seek him tramped along on the other
side of the hedge he had jumped over. A butcher, conveying some stock by
water, took him across the river, and that night he found himself back
at the old clergyman's house from which he had started. His two friends
of the fishing-smack adventure here joined him once more, and while they
were at supper the town-crier bawled under the window that five guineas
reward would be paid for the capture of Joshua Barney, a rebel deserter
from Mill Prison.

Three days later, dressed in fashionable attire, Barney stepped into a
post-chaise at midnight and drove off for Exeter. He was stopped at the
Plymouth gate, and a lantern thrust in to see if he corresponded with
the description of himself which had been circulated. Apparently he did
not, for he was permitted to proceed, and eventually passed on to
Bristol and London, France, and Holland; whence he shipped on board the
armed ship _South Carolina_, which he saved, by prompt measures and good
seamanship, from being wrecked on the Dutch coast--her officers being,
apparently, timid and incompetent.

Eventually, having transhipped on board the _Cicero_, another American
privateer, Barney reached Beverley, Massachusetts--the writer does not
give the date, but it must have been in the autumn of 1781. At Boston,
we are told, he met several of his fellow-prisoners who had also escaped
from Mill Prison.

[Footnote 15: There still remains the question of Byron's flagship. She
was certainly the _Princess Royal_ when he arrived at New York; but as
the _Ardent_, 64, was one of the vessels of his squadron, it is, of
course, possible that he may subsequently have hoisted his flag on her
temporarily.]



CHAPTER XIX

CAPTAINS BARNEY AND HARADEN


In April of the following year, 1782, Barney was again afloat in command
of a privateer, the _Hyder Ali_ (spelt _HydeA lly_ in Mr. Maclay's
book), fitted out, by merchants of Philadelphia, with sixteen 6-pounder
guns and a crew of 110.

In this vessel he fought a remarkable and successful action against the
_General Monk_, a British man-of-war, of alleged superior force, though
this is not borne out by British accounts. She was formerly the _General
Washington_, was captured by a British squadron in 1780, and renamed
upon being added to the British Navy. She was commanded on this occasion
by Commander Josias Rogers, an officer of great courage and resource,
and was armed with sixteen 9-pounder carronades and two 6-pounders. A
9-pounder carronade was a foolish little piece, very short, and addicted
to jumping violently and capsizing when it became at all hot: and it
would be quite outranged by a long 6-or 9-pounder.

We are not told, either in the British or American account, the tonnage
of the two vessels, but in the latter the _General Monk_ is described as
being pierced for twenty guns: and in the former the _Hyder Ali_ is
said to have carried eighteen guns, 6-and 9-pounders (proportion of each
not stated), while her crew is put down as 130 men.

Dropping down the river Delaware with several merchant vessels under
convoy, Barney had reached Cape May Roads, just inside Delaware Bay,
where he anchored, and was there discovered by a blockading squadron
under Captain Mason, of the _Quebec_ frigate.

Sending Rogers in to reconnoitre, and, if possible, attack, Mason
endeavoured to sail a little higher up the bay, to prevent the American
vessels running for the Delaware River, while Rogers, engaging the
assistance of the _Fair American_, a privateer, went straight for the
convoy. No sooner had he rounded Cape May, in sight of the Americans,
than Barney, signalling his convoy to run for the river--the _Quebec_
not having yet got far enough up to head them off, on account of the
shoal water--endeavoured to put his ship in the way of the pursuers. The
_Fair American_ ran past him, with a broadside which was not returned,
captured one vessel, chased another on shore, and then, in the endeavour
to cut off three others, ran aground herself.

This cleared the field for a duel between the _General Monk_ and the
_Hyder Ali_, and they had a very pretty fight.

Barney, as the _General Monk_ came on with the intention of boarding,
delivered his broadside at pistol-range, and then frustrated the
Englishman's plan of boarding by a ruse. Bidding the helmsman interpret
his next order by "the rule of contrary," he shouted, as the vessels
were on the point of fouling, "Hard a-port! Do you want him to run
aboard us?"--the intention being that the order, distinctly audible on
board the British vessel, should convey a false impression; for the
helmsman, in accordance with the hint just received, put the helm _hard
a-starboard_, the result being that the English vessel's jibboom became
entangled in the _Hyder Ali's_ fore-rigging. This is all very possible,
and Barney was just the kind of man to have recourse to a ruse of this
kind; but the relative positions of the ships at the moment are not
technically described, so it is impossible to judge of the feasibility
of the manoeuvre, or of its efficacy. However, we are told that the
Americans lashed the head-gear of the _General Monk_ to their rigging,
and raked her with their fire, to which she could make no effective
return.

Rogers called his men to board, but the American defensive measures were
too strong, and they fell back. Then ensued a conflict chiefly with
small-arms, and there are some little stories in connection with it.
Barney, it appears, had among his crew a number of backwoodsmen, crack
shots, but little accustomed to the amenities of discipline. One of
these men kept on asking his captain, whenever he came within earshot,
where the musket which he was using was made. Barney, annoyed by this
freedom, ignored him for a time, then asked him sharply why he wanted to
know. "W-a-a-l," drawled the backwoodsman, "this 'ere bit o' iron is
jes' the best smoothbore I ever fired in my life"--and he went on
picking off the Britishers. Another drew Barney's attention to his next
shot. "Say, Cap., do you see that fellow with the white hat?"--and in
another moment the individual in the white hat leapt three feet in the
air, and fell to rise no more. It was found, after the action, says the
narrator, that every one of the Englishmen killed or wounded by musketry
was struck either in the head or breast.

The Britishers, however, were not idle with their small-arms; Barney,
jumping on the compass stand to see better what was going on, had his
head shaved by a ball which perforated his hat. Another tore off part of
his coat-tail. Upon this he ordered his Marine officer to direct his
men's fire at the enemy's tops, and _in a few minutes the tops were
cleared_.

Then a round-shot struck the binnacle, or compass stand, upon which
Barney stood, and sent him flying. Just before this occurred he had had
a vision of one of his officers, with the cook's axe uplifted, in act to
floor a seaman who had got nervous, and was hiding behind the mainmast.
The next moment Barney turned an involuntary somersault, and found the
officer, who had dropped the cook's axe, standing over him in
apprehension. Finding his captain unhurt--most of us would have been a
good deal hurt under the circumstances, but perhaps Captain Barney came
down on the spot, like a sixpence when a billiard-ball is knocked from
under it--the stern officer resumed his murderous weapon, and made for
the timid seaman again. But the latter had by this time realised that
the cook's axe was a certainty and the enemy's fire a chance, so he
returned to his quarters.

And so, with these little amenities, the fight went on; but it was a
losing fight for the British. Rogers could not get his ship away. His
guns--his stupid little carronades--were behaving in a fiendish manner,
tumbling about and shooting anywhere except in the right direction; and
his men were falling fast. His masts and rigging were so damaged that he
could not handle the sails, and he was at length compelled to yield,
himself severely wounded and many of his officers and men dead and dying
around him; and so the _General Monk_ changed hands again, and became
once more the _General Washington_.

Captain Barney, without doubt, fought his craft with immense pluck and
dexterity, and thoroughly deserved the victory; but it is extremely
doubtful whether the superiority of force was not on his side. Neither
account gives the tonnage of the two vessels. Robert Beatson, a good
authority, gives the _General Monk's_ armament as above described, and
gives also a very different account of the action, ascribing Rogers's
defeat chiefly to the inefficiency of his guns. He says, at the
commencement, that the _Hyder Ali_ "cut her boat adrift, and did
everything else to get away, _notwithstanding her superior force_." The
reader can take his choice.

This ends Joshua Barney's career as a privateer during this war. He was
placed in command of the _General Washington_, and subsequently visiting
Plymouth, he entertained on board his ship the friends who had aided
his escape and a number of British officers, and bestowed a purse of
gold upon Lord Mount-Edgecumbe's gardener, who had so opportunely opened
the little gate for him.

There are other privateer heroes of this period who richly deserve
notice, but space does not admit of a detailed account of their doings.

There was Jonathan Haraden, of Salem, for instance, conspicuous by his
seamanlike skill and marvellous coolness under fire, as well as by his
bold tactics in the presence of a superior force.

It is related that, upon a dark night in the Bay of Biscay, being then
in command of the privateer _General Pickering_, of 180 tons and 16
guns, he came across the British privateer _Golden Eagle_, of 22
guns--as was afterwards discovered. Haraden was not aware of her name
and force when he sighted her--at no great distance, of course; but,
having neared her, as is stated, unobserved, he concluded that she was a
vessel of superior force to his own. In the words of the narrator,
"having formed a fairly accurate idea of her force," he resolved to have
recourse to a ruse--it was a very foolhardy proceeding, but it was
justified by success. Running up alongside the English vessel, he hailed
the captain while the two ships, at close quarters, plunged along
together. "This is an American frigate of the largest class; if you
don't surrender immediately, I'll blow you out of the water!"

Now, Haraden's craft was of 180 tons, and an American frigate of the
largest class at that time--the year 1780--would be at least 800 tons;
the two vessels were close together, and we have seen that the American
captain had, some time previously, been able to estimate the size and
probable strength of the other; so what was the use of shouting such a
fable to the Britisher? Any seaman of moderate experience would ridicule
the idea of mistaking a vessel of 180 tons, close alongside, even at
night, for a first-class frigate, with her comparatively large hull and
immense, towering spars. Some of the English privateer captains whom we
have been discussing would have had a very short reply for
Haraden--"Frigate, be d----d!" and a broadside; and it was really very
lucky for the American that he had dropped upon a "soft thing" in
finding a British skipper so extremely unsophisticated as to be deceived
for a moment. However, the captain of the _Golden Eagle_ chanced to be
the one man in a thousand who would be so taken in, and he hauled down
his colours without firing a shot! Had he been a naval officer, he would
have had to answer at a court-martial for his conduct, and it is
impossible to imagine any punishment for such an offence, short of
death. However, nothing succeeds like success; Haraden--according to the
story, as narrated by Mr. Maclay--made good his piece of "bounce," and
took possession; and the most appropriate comment appears to be that
each captain got what he deserved.

Shortly afterwards Captain Haraden engaged a privateer--the
_Achilles_--of vastly superior force, off Bilbao, so close in shore that
the Spaniards crowded the headlands in hundreds to see the fun.
Haraden, by superior seamanship, succeeded in beating off his big
antagonist and in recovering the _Golden Eagle_, which the enemy had
recaptured but could not hold, and which had on board an officer and
prize crew from the _Achilles_. So the balance was in the American's
favour.

An onlooker--one Robert Cowan--is reported to have said that the
_General Pickering_ looked like a longboat in comparison with the
_Achilles_, and that "Haraden fought with a determination that seemed
superhuman; and, although in the most exposed positions, where the shot
flew around him, he was all the while as calm and steady as amid a
shower of snowflakes."

Another of Captain Haraden's exploits was the capture of "a
homeward-bound king's packet from one of the West India islands," under
very dramatic circumstances, the American captain, his watch in one hand
and a lighted match in the other, with only a single round of ammunition
remaining, giving the battered Britisher five minutes in which to
surrender. But surely some less vague relation is due before such a
story can be accepted--the name of the packet, her force, the date,
latitude and longitude, and so forth.

However, Captain Haraden was, no doubt, a fair specimen of a very fine
class--the Salem skippers--and Americans have every cause for being
proud of him.



CHAPTER XX

CAPTAIN THOMAS BOYLE


Upon the declaration of war with England in 1812 Americans naturally
inaugurated at once a vigorous privateering campaign.

War was declared on June 18th, and by the end of the month two
privateers had put out from Salem, and a dozen more were almost ready
for sea; while New York had sent out, by the middle of October,
twenty-six vessels, mounting some three hundred guns, and manned by more
than two thousand men.

On July 10th occurred a curious episode, quite impossible in these days,
when the earth is tied up in every direction with telegraph cables. The
British man-of-war schooner _Whiting_ was lying in Hampton Roads; her
commander, Lieutenant Maxey, ignorant of the declaration of war, was in
his boat, going on shore, when the American privateer _Dash_, Captain
Carroway, arrived upon the scene. Carroway, better informed, seized the
English commander and his boat, and, running alongside the _Whiting_,
called upon the officer in charge to surrender--which he did.

The American Government, however, in view of the English captain's
ignorance of the commencement of hostilities, ordered the _Whiting_ to
be returned. A similar incident is said to have occurred in the case of
the _Bloodhound_, an English sloop of 12 guns, captured by the 8-gun
privateer schooner _Cora_. Neither of these events is chronicled by
British naval historians.

One of the most daring and skilful privateer captains during this war
was Thomas Boyle. His first command was the _Comet_, a staunch,
fast-sailing schooner, and he lost no time in getting to work, starting
upon his first cruise in July 1812, within a month of the declaration of
war.

Returning in November, after capturing several vessels, he refitted his
craft and prepared to set forth again. There was more difficulty,
however, in getting out upon this occasion, as the English had a strong
squadron blockading Chesapeake Bay.

Waiting for a dark, squally night, Boyle made his venture on December
23rd, and all went well until near daybreak, when he suddenly found
himself under the guns of a frigate, which let drive a broadside at him.
The _Comet_ sustained but little damage, however, and got clear away,
heading for the coast of Brazil, where Boyle learned that some English
vessels were about to sail from Pernambuco.

This information proved to be correct, and on January 14th they were
discovered, standing out to sea--three brigs and a ship--_i.e._ a larger
vessel full-rigged. Boyle was prepared to find the merchant vessels
armed, but did not reckon upon a very obstinate resistance from them. He
stood out to sea, so as to be able easily to get between the English
vessels and the coast; and about three o'clock he put his helm up and
gave chase. The fast schooner soon neared the other ships; and then
Boyle discovered that he was in for a more exciting adventure than he
had anticipated, for one of the brigs was obviously a man-of-war, of
formidable strength, though he had been informed that there were no
British war-vessels in the neighbourhood.

However, he put a bold face on, cleared for action, and steered for the
cruiser, hoisting his colours as he came abreast of her. She replied
with Portuguese colours, and hailed that she would send a boat on board.
Boyle, distrustful, but wishing to ascertain the real nationality of the
stranger, hove to and awaited her boat; for he did not see what a
Portuguese man-of-war had to do with convoying British vessels. Well,
nobody else can see it, either; but she turned out to be a genuine
Portuguese, and the officer gave Boyle a great idea of her force,
telling him that the merchantmen were under his charge, and must not be
molested.

Boyle, producing his commission from the American Government, replied:

"This is an American cruiser, here are my papers, and I am going to take
these English vessels if I can. I don't recognise your right to
interfere, and I shall fire upon you if you do."

To this plain statement of the case the Portuguese officer replied that
his ship had orders to protect the merchantmen, and that he would be
very sorry if anything disagreeable occurred.

"Oh, so shall I," said Boyle; "very sorry; but if you oppose me, I shall
fire into you."

The Portuguese officer returned to report to his captain, promising to
come back presently. This, however, he did not do. It was by this time
quite dark, and Boyle, hailing to know when he might expect the boat,
was asked to send his boat; but he did not quite like this plan--indeed,
it was highly suspicious; so he replied that he did not care about
sending his boat away in the dark.

"And now I'm going to take those English vessels."

Accordingly, he "let draw" his sails, and was soon among them, hailing
the ship to heave-to as he romped past her, having great way on the
schooner. Finding no attention paid to his demand, he tacked and came
alongside the ship, and opened fire upon her and one of the brigs--the
man-of-war being close on his heels, and speedily joining in the fray.

All five vessels, under a press of sail, were now running together in a
ruck, the _Comet_, from her superior sailing qualities, being compelled
to tack and manoeuvre to maintain her position. There was a bright
moon, but presently the smoke from the guns accumulated in a great
cloud, obscuring the view, so it was difficult to tell one vessel from
another. This was quite an agreeable arrangement for Captain Boyle, as
he could make no mistake, while the others were in constant dread of
hitting a friend--and probably did so occasionally.

This running fight lasted until nearly midnight. The Portuguese fired
away whenever he could do so without risk of hitting his convoy, but
made wretched practice, while Boyle took but little notice of him,
sticking to his prey tenaciously, until the ship and one brig
surrendered, much cut up; but the _Comet's_ boat, going to take
possession, was struck by a broadside from the Portuguese, and returned,
almost sinking. Then the privateer and the man-of-war had a set-to
alone, the latter eventually sheering off, but hovering near, evidently
watching for a chance.

Boyle, however, managed to send a prize crew on board the brig. The
captain of the ship hailed that he was severely damaged, almost sinking,
and his rigging cut to pieces; but he would endeavour to follow, as
ordered, if he could get his ship under command.

Standing by his prize until daybreak, Boyle saw the war-brig again
bearing down upon him; he immediately tacked and went to meet her. But
the Portuguese had apparently had enough of it; she managed to take the
ship and one brig with her into Pernambuco, the two merchantmen in an
almost sinking condition, masts tottering, sails cut to pieces, leaving
Boyle with his one prize--a rich one. It was altogether an extraordinary
affair, for the _Comet_ only carried 14 guns and about 120 men; and the
Portuguese brig, seen afterwards by some Americans at Lisbon, was found
to be a very formidable vessel, heavily armed. Why she was convoying
British vessels, Portugal not being at war with America, does not appear
to have been explained. Her name is not given.

This incident affords a good indication of the character of Thomas
Boyle; he found the _Comet_ so superior in speed, as a rule, to any
vessel, small or great, which he encountered that he used sometimes to
sail round a ship of superior force, just out of range of her
guns--thereby vastly amusing himself and his crew, and greatly annoying
the other man. By pursuing these tactics upon one occasion, he secured
the retreat of a prize, keeping a British man-of-war brig engaged in
trying to catch him, while the prize got safely away.

The _Comet_ made seven-and-twenty prizes; and Captain Boyle was then
placed in command of the _Chasseur_, a more formidable vessel, mounting
sixteen long 12-pounders. She is said to have been one of the fastest
and most beautiful vessels afloat, and in her Boyle had a most
successful career. The last and most important action he fought was with
the British man-of-war schooner _St. Lawrence_, of 13 guns--an
American-built vessel, formerly the _Atlas_, privateer, and captured by
the British in July 1813.

This was on February 26th, 1815, off the coast of Cuba, when Boyle,
about 11 a.m., gave chase to a schooner apparently running before the
wind. She was discovered to be a man-of-war, with a convoy, just visible
from aloft, as was imagined, in company. The _Chasseur_ gained, though
not very fast, and the stranger presently hauled nearer to the wind,
apparently anxious to escape. At 12.30 Boyle showed his colours and
fired a gun, but the other made no sign, continuing her efforts to
escape, and losing her foretopmast through the press of sail she
carried. The _Chasseur_ now came up rapidly, and at one o'clock the
chase fired a gun and hoisted English colours.

Watching her narrowly, Boyle made out only three gun-ports on one side,
and there appeared to be very few people on deck. So he cracked on his
canvas, anxious to get alongside and make short work of her; and, not
anticipating serious fighting, made no great preparations for action.

When, however, he ran up within pistol-shot, about half-past one, a
sudden change came over the English vessel--port-covers were triced up,
showing her full armament, with a crowd of men at quarters, who gave
three cheers and promptly put in a broadside. Boyle had been caught
napping for once.

He and his men did not take long, however, to recover themselves. The
_Chasseur_ at this time had only 14 guns on board, according to American
accounts, having sacrificed some on a former occasion in escaping from a
British frigate. She is put down in Sir W. Laird Clowes's "Royal Navy"
as carrying 24 guns. This, however, is an error.

However this may be, Boyle got to work, hammer and tongs; came to close
quarters, ran his foe aboard, and, in a quarter of an hour from the
first shot, the Englishman surrendered!

The equality of the two vessels, or rather, to be precise, the slight
preponderance of force in the _Chasseur's_ favour, is dwelt upon in
detail by Mr. Maclay (page 296). "Here," he says, "we have an admirable
opportunity to compare the relative merits of American and British
man-of-warsmen; for the _St. Lawrence_, being built and equipped by
Americans, deprives our friends, the English, of their oft-repeated cry
that our vessels were better built, etc. The _Chasseur_ carried 14 guns
and 102 men as opposed to the _St. Lawrence's_ 13 guns and 76 men. Both
vessels were schooners."

In view of the categorical statement which ends this paragraph, Mr.
Maclay would have done well to take into consideration the illustration
of the action which appears opposite page 298, a replica of that in Mr.
Coggleshall's book, in which the American vessel is clearly a brig. One
does not, of course, place much reliance upon details in illustrations
of this class, as proving or disproving important statements, and the
draftsman has represented the British schooner "all on end" aloft,
whereas she had lost her foretopmast before the action commenced. But
what says Mr. Coggleshall? "The _Chasseur_ was a fine, large brig" (page
367); and he was a seaman, so he took care that his illustration should
be technically correct and in agreement with the text, with regard, at
least, to the rig of the vessels.

This discrepancy naturally arouses some suspicion as to other details,
and a perusal of the minutes of the court-martial upon Lieutenant James
Edward (_not_ Henry Cranmer) Gordon,[16] held at Bermuda, April 21st,
1815, throws considerable light upon the matter.

Lieutenant Gordon describes the _Chasseur_ as a large brig, registering
upwards of 400 tons, British measurement, and much superior to our
18-gun brigs. Making every allowance for unconscious exaggeration on the
part of an officer upon his defence, this description accords with that
of the American seaman, Coggleshall. Gordon further states that he had
on board 52 seamen and officers, 6 passengers, and 6 boys, total 64,
which was 12 short of his complement. Compare Captain Boyle's statement,
in his letter to one of the owners, that the _St. Lawrence_ had on board
"a number of soldiers, marines, and some gentlemen of the navy,
passengers"; in another place "eighty-nine men, beside several boys."
The crew of the _Chasseur_, according to the evidence of some officers
of the _St. Lawrence_, admitted in conversation that they had 119 on
board, though some were away in prizes.

The officers of the _St. Lawrence_, on their oath, state that there were
48 men at quarters, and that the long 9-pounder was not in action, _as
they had not the men to man it_.

There is no mention, either in Gordon's letter or the evidence, of any
attempt to disguise the force of the schooner. She had no convoy with
her, and simply tried to get away on account of the important
despatches, which were weighted and thrown overboard before surrender.

Gordon and his officers were honourably acquitted, the court being
satisfied that they had done their best against heavy odds, handicapped
as they were by the loss of the foretopmast. The duration of the action
is stated as half an hour, or more, by the schooner's officers; this,
however, is not of very much importance.

Captain Boyle was, no doubt, a very brave man and a fine seaman, and the
capture of a regular British war-vessel was a great feather in his cap;
but it is really no very extraordinary feat for a large brig to take a
schooner, fighting two guns less, and with a crew, including boys, in a
minority of about forty--accepting the American statement as to the
_Chasseur's_ crew--and partially crippled aloft.

Captain Boyle, rendered more and more bold and enterprising by success,
sent a "Proclamation of Blockade" of the British coast to be posted in
Lloyd's Coffee House. This was a joke, said to be in imitation of the
farcical "paper" blockades of the American coasts issued by British
admirals, when they had not the ships present to enforce it. The British
blockade, however, was no farce as a whole, as American writers testify.

[Footnote 16: Mr. Maclay is not, however, responsible for this error, as
Gordon is so named by Sir W. Laird Clowes, vol vi., p. 155. The mistake
does not recur in the list of British losses, p. 555, the name being
given as James Edward Gordon, as in the official report of the
court-martial.]



CHAPTER XXI

THE "GENERAL ARMSTRONG"


One of the most formidable American privateers during this war was the
_General Armstrong_, a large brig, armed with a heavy long gun
amidships, and eight long 9-pounders.

The last action in which she was engaged was of a most desperate nature,
against the boats of a British squadron. The privateer was lying, on
September 26th, 1814, at Fayal, in the Azores, and her commander, Samuel
Chester Reid, having been on shore to see his Consul and arrange about a
supply of water, returned on board about 5 p.m., accompanied by the
Consul and some friends.

They were chatting on deck, and the captain was informed that no British
cruisers had been seen in the vicinity for several weeks, when their
conversation was most unexpectedly broken in upon by the appearance of a
large British brig-of-war rounding the northern point of the anchorage,
within gunshot of the privateer.

Reid at first contemplated cutting his cable and making a bolt for it,
confident in the sailing powers of his fine craft. The wind, however,
was light and uncertain, and the British brig had most of what there
was at the moment, so he abandoned the idea, being informed by the
Consul that he would not be molested as long as he remained at
anchor--which was, of course, a very correct and proper assumption,
Fayal being a Portuguese possession, and therefore a neutral port. So
Captain Reid and his friends watched the brig, which was the
_Carnation_--of 18 guns, commander, George Bentham--standing in through
the gathering dusk. After the pilot had boarded her, she came on and
anchored within pistol-shot of the _General Armstrong_.

The American did not feel at all easy as to the efficacy of neutral
protection; and, while he discussed it, an English 74-gun ship and a
38-gun frigate appeared round the point--to wit, the _Plantagenet_,
Captain Robert Lloyd; and the _Rota_, Captain Philip Somerville--and the
brig immediately commenced signalling furiously to them.

This was getting a little too hot; and, seeing the brig presently send
her boats to the line-of-battle ship. Captain Reid resolved, escape
seaward being impossible, to be prepared for the worst. So, the wind
having dropped, he got out his sweeps and slowly pulled his vessel
further inshore.

The _Carnation_ immediately got under way and followed; but the wind was
too light, and she was unable to close the privateer.

About 8 p.m. the Americans--to give their version first--perceived four
boats, armed and full of men, approaching. Captain Reid thereupon
dropped his anchor with a spring on the cable, and swung his broadside
upon the boats. When they came within hail he warned them not to
approach nearer, on pain of being fired upon; they came on, however, and
the privateer opened on them with cannon and small arms. "The boats
promptly returned the fire, but so unexpectedly warm was the reception
they got from the privateer that they cried for quarter and hauled off
in a badly crippled condition."

Captain Reid says he had one man killed and his first officer wounded.
Being convinced that he had not seen the last of the British boats, he
hauled so close in that the vessel was almost touching the rocks, right
under the castle, and anchored head and stern.

The _Carnation_ was observed, about nine o'clock, towing in a number of
boats; she could not, however, get close enough in to co-operate with
them, as the wind was baffling and the tide was adverse; so the boats
cast off and remained for some time under cover of a low reef of rocks.

There were eleven of them, according to the British official
report--twelve, the Americans say--and they must have contained at least
two hundred men; probably more, as some would be very large boats,
pulling fourteen or sixteen oars. Such a force would have been
considered far more than adequate for the cutting out of a French
vessel; indeed, much larger vessels than the _General Armstrong_ have
often been captured by British boats with considerably less force than
was despatched upon this occasion. We rather "fancied" ourselves in
this matter of cutting out vessels from a harbour, and some splendid
feats have undoubtedly been performed in this way. It was a sort of
adventure which was considered essentially British in character; and
justly so, as our enemies certainly never ventured much in the way of
attempting to cut out our vessels.

Captain Lloyd and his merry men were now to learn the difference between
French or Spanish seamen and Americans.

Meanwhile, the Governor had sent a letter to the British captain begging
him to respect the neutrality of the port and abstain from further
attack upon the privateer. Captain Lloyd replied by pointing out that
the Americans had broken the neutrality of the port by firing into his
boat without the least provocation. That he had intended to respect it,
but was now determined to seize the privateer, and hoped the Governor
would direct the fort to assist him.

About midnight the flotilla of boats advanced to the attack. They were
allowed to approach within what used to be termed "point blank" range--a
vague term, but equivalent, probably, to longish pistol-shot, and then
came the round and grape from the privateer, doing considerable
execution. The British responded with the guns mounted in their boats;
then, with loud cheers, they raced for the _General Armstrong_, boarding
her in several different places.

A most bloodthirsty and terrible conflict now took place. The British
seamen, with characteristic dash and courage, climbed up the vessel's
side on all hands, nothing daunted by the fierce resistance of her crew.
The Americans, armed with every kind of weapon which would serve at
close quarters, met them at arm's length with such ferocity that the
boats were soon cumbered up with wounded and dying men, hurled back with
pistol, pike, or cutlass. Wherever an English head cropped up above the
bulwarks it was a target. And still they continued the attack, and with
so much success in the bow that a number gained a footing on the
forecastle, and the two American officers in charge forward were killed
or disabled. Learning the state of affairs forward, Captain Reid, who,
with the after-hands, had pretty well disposed of the attack at the
stern, rallied his men, and, leading them forward on the run, drove the
British over the bows into their boats--and that was the end of it. The
fight lasted forty minutes--a tremendous time for such a desperate
affair, proving the stubborn courage on both sides.

Two of the frigate _Rota's_ boats, the American account states, were
taken possession of, loaded with dead and dying men. "Of the forty or
fifty men in these boats only seventeen escaped death, and they by
swimming ashore. Another boat was found under the privateer's stern,
commanded by one of the _Plantagenet's_ lieutenants. All the men in it
were killed but four, the lieutenant himself jumping overboard to save
his life."

These details appear to corroborate the description of an eye-witness,
given by Mr. Maclay; he says: "The Americans fought with great firmness,
but more like bloodthirsty savages than anything else. They rushed into
the boats sword in hand, and put every soul to death as far as came
within their power."

The estimate of killed and wounded, as given by Mr. Maclay, respectively
120 and 130, is greatly exaggerated; the official account, with names of
officers, seamen, and marines, gives it as 36 killed and 84 wounded--and
quite enough, too!

The affair was disastrous for the British; but Captain Reid had, of
course, to lose his ship. He received a communication at 3 a.m. from his
Consul that Captain Lloyd was determined to have him, and at daybreak
the _Carnation_ stood in and engaged him. But, being unable at the
moment to pick up the best berth for operations, the British vessel
hauled off again, with some small damage from the American long gun. A
second time she was more successful, and, bringing her heavy short guns
to bear at close range, sealed the fate of the _General Armstrong_. Reid
and his men, prepared for this ending, scuttled their ship and went on
shore, upon which the English set her on fire, completing her
destruction.

Captain Lloyd, in his report, declares that the _General Armstrong_ was
so close inshore that the attacking boats had not room to board on the
inside; and that "every American in Fayal, exclusive of part of the
crew, being armed and concealed in these rocks, which were immediately
over the privateer, it unfortunately happened when these brave men
gained the deck they were under the painful necessity of returning to
their boats, from the very destructive fire kept up by those above them
from the shore, who were in complete security."

This is rather a wild story, to which the thoughtful reader will not be
disposed to yield full credence. With regard to the breach of
neutrality, there is an affidavit, sworn before the British Consul, by
Lieutenant Robert Faussett, of the _Plantagenet_, to the effect that he
approached, unarmed, in the pinnace, for the purpose of ascertaining
what vessel it was; and that the Americans warned them off when they
were so close that the boat was shoved off with a boathook, and then
opened fire; that Faussett called for quarter, shouting, "Don't murder
us!" and they continued their attack; that he had no means of returning
a shot, and could only retire, with two killed and seven wounded. He
says nothing about the proximity of other boats, armed or otherwise; and
so the Americans would appear to have been technically guilty of the
initial breach of neutrality. Captain Lloyd, by way of showing that
American privateers were addicted to this kind of thing, encloses a copy
of the affidavit of William Wilson, late master of the transport brig
_Doris_, which was captured, in defiance of the law of neutrality, on
June 25th preceding, in the anchorage of Flores, another island of the
Azores.

Captain Lloyd, however, got no credit out of this affair. The Lords of
the Admiralty expressed very strong disapproval of the whole business;
told him he ought to have known that the sending of a boat after dark
was sure to lead to some such incident; that, if the Americans broke the
neutrality of the port, his first business was to make representation
to the Governor, and not take the law into his own hands; that the
honour of the flag and the prestige of the British Navy, represented by
a 74-gun ship, a frigate, and several sloops, was not likely to be
endangered by the presence of one privateer--with other home truths and
doses of common sense. And really, one cannot help agreeing cordially
with their lordships, and heartily deploring the loss of so many brave
men in a fiasco due to thorough bad management.

A fortnight later the boats of the British frigate _Endymion_, Captain
Henry Hope, made an attempt to carry the _Prince de Neufchatel_--a very
successful privateer, but why such a clumsy name?--off Nantucket, with
very similar results. The fight was even more desperate than in the case
of the _General Armstrong_, the privateer having only nine of her crew
untouched, while the British casualties amounted to fully half of the
men engaged. The privateer escaped.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are some of the incidents of the two American wars; of this type
were the men--or many of them--who commanded the privateers. The British
records of the period, during the war of 1812, bear full testimony to
their success, and the officers of the Royal Navy come in for some rough
handling by the Press--as in _The Times_ of February 11th, 1815: "The
American cruisers daily enter in among our convoys, seize prizes in
sight of those that should afford protection, and, if pursued, 'put on
their sea-wings' and laugh at the clumsy English pursuers. To what is
this owing? Cannot we build ships? It must indeed be encouraging to Mr.
Madison to read the logs of his cruisers. If they fight, they are sure
to conquer; if they fly, they are sure to escape."

That the Americans have the knack of building faster sailing-vessels
than ours is a fact which we have been compelled to accept. Not that our
smartest clippers would be beaten, as a matter of course, by any of
theirs; but, taking it all round, an American who wants to turn out a
specially swift sailing vessel will almost always eclipse our efforts in
the same direction. Are we not still trying in vain to win back the
"America" Cup? The long, rakish craft, of comparatively small beam and
tapering lines, was no doubt originally an American production.

These swift vessels, sailed by such men as Boyle, Haraden, Barney,
Coggleshall, and others, were both hard to catch and bad to beat. The
sentence quoted above from _The Times_ sums up the situation pretty
accurately; and, this being the case, it is all the more to be regretted
that the accounts of their exploits should so constantly be tainted with
obvious exaggerations, or embellished with incredible little
anecdotes.



SOME MORE ODD YARNS



CHAPTER XXII

THE "PRINCESS ROYAL" PACKET


In the days of sailing-vessels the mails were regularly carried by
fast-sailing brigs, which were known as packets. They were virtually
men-of-war, but were not heavily armed, nor did they carry a numerous
crew. The captain's first duty was to convey the mails with expedition
and safety, and he was not expected to go out of his way to engage an
enemy, but to escape if possible. Some fire-eating commanders of packets
required, indeed, to be admonished as to their duties in this respect.
The brigs were usually very heavily masted, and it was considered a
point of honour to "carry on" their canvas, sometimes to a dangerous
extent. More than one of these craft has unaccountably disappeared,
having no doubt foundered in a storm.

They were very fine little vessels, however, and there was probably a
certain amount of "swagger" attached to belonging to them--a sort of
craft that was not under anybody's orders, and was not to be interfered
with; and when they were attacked, and found escape impossible, their
"swagger" assumed the form, in many instances, of a most heroic defence
--while the mails were always sunk before surrendering.

Here is a very interesting letter, describing an action between the
_Princess Royal_ packet, Captain John Skinner, and a French privateer of
vastly superior force. It is written by one of the passengers, who
"plied the small arms with much effect."

  "NEW YORK, _August 25th, 1798_.

"I have at last the pleasure to inform you of my arrival here, the 14th
instant, after a very tedious passage. We left Falmouth on June 12th, in
company with the _Grantham_ packet, bound to Jamaica, which kept with us
five days. Four days after, on the morning of June 21st, we fell in with
a French privateer; at five o'clock she made sail after us. We had light
airs and a smooth sea--all sails set. At midday, we triced up our
boarding-nettings and made clear for action, with our courses up. The
privateer, towards the afternoon, came up with us fast, by the
assistance of her sweeps. At 7 p.m. our men were all at quarters. She
hoisted English colours, firing a shot,[17] which we returned, and she
answered by a gun to leeward. At this time she was within cannon-shot,
but, it growing dark, kept in our wake; and we turned in, not expecting
an attack till next morning. However, before daylight, at half-past
three in the morning, she came within pistol-shot, and fired a broadside
of great guns, swivels, etc., which we immediately returned, and kept
up a general fire with our cannon and small arms. Our force was only two
6-pounders, and four 4-pounders; of which six guns we got five on one
side to bear on them. We mustered thirty men and boys, exclusive of
Captain Skinner and his master, besides thirteen passengers and four
servants: in all forty-nine.

"The privateer was a low brig, apparently mounting twelve or fourteen
guns, and full of men. Our guns were extremely well plied; a lieutenant,
going to join the _St. Albans_ man-of-war, was captain of one of our
6-pounders, and the rest of us passengers plied the small arms with much
effect. The engagement continued, without intermission, for two hours,
when she out with her sweeps, left off firing, and rowed off, for it was
near calm, there not being wind enough to carry us a knot through the
water. As she was rowing off we got our two stern-chasers, the
6-pounders, to bear upon her, and hit her twice in her counter, which
must have gone through and through, for it caused great noise and
confusion on board, and soon after we saw two men at work over her
stern. At six o'clock, being out of cannon-shot, we ceased firing, and
set about repairing our damage. She had some swivels fixed in her tops,
which would have done us considerable mischief, had they not been drove
from them early in the action, which was Captain Skinner's first object
at the beginning of the engagement.

"Thank God, we had no one killed; most of their shot went above us. The
boarding-nettings, directly over our quarter-deck, were shot away, as
their principal force seemed to aim at the passengers, who plied
fourteen muskets to some advantage, and annoyed the privateer much.

"Captain Skinner conducted himself well; it was no new business to him.
His orders were given coolly and everything done with great precision
and regularity. I believe you know that he lost his right arm in an
engagement on board of a frigate last war.

"I cannot omit mentioning that a lady (a sister of Captain Skinner),
who, with her maid, were the only female passengers, were both employed
in the bread-room during the action making up papers for cartridges; for
we had not a single four-pound cartridge remaining when the action
ceased.

"Our sails were shot through, rigging very much cut, our spars and boat
upon deck shot through, several grape and round-shot in our bows and
side, and a very large shot, which must have been a 9-or 12-pounder, in
our counter. The ship proved a little leaky after the action, but she
got pretty tight again before our arrival. Captain Skinner was slightly
wounded, but is now well."

This plain and very credible story was afterwards supplemented by the
independent testimony of an American gentleman, who was a prisoner on
board the privateer during this engagement. She was the _Aventurier_,
and this gentleman states:

"That her force was fourteen long French 4-pounders, and two
12-pounders; that she had eighty-five men on board at the time, of whom
two were killed and four wounded in the action. That all her masts were
shot through, her stays and rigging very much cut; that when she got to
Bordeaux she was obliged to have new masts and a complete set of new
rigging. They supposed, on board the privateer, that there was not a
single shot fired from the packet that did not take effect: which seems
probable, for, though so low in the water, she had nineteen shot in her
bottom under her wale.[18] At the time there were on board thirty
English and American prisoners. She was so peppered that she would
certainly have been made a prize of, could the packet have pursued her;
and was so cut to pieces by the action that she afterwards ran from
everything until she got into Bordeaux to refit; the shots that raked
her as she moved off went quite through, and caused much confusion."

This is a very pretty tale of pluck and skill combined. The reproach
which has been laid against the British Navy in this--1798--and
subsequent years of inexpertness in gunnery, certainly could not have
been levelled against the crew of the _Princess Royal_, who put in their
4-and 6-pounder shot in such businesslike fashion, while the passengers
picked off the dangerous swivel-men in the tops. The two undaunted women
quietly making cartridge-bags in the bread-room rounds off the picture
very agreeably.


TWO COLONIAL PRIVATEERS

Here are two instances in which privateers fitted out by our colonies
have performed very brilliant services; and the first is introduced by
Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, Bart., Commander-in-Chief of His
Majesty's ships and vessels at the Cape of Good Hope, who writes from
Capetown on December 20th, 1801, to Evan Nepean, Esq., Secretary to the
Admiralty, as follows:

   "SIR,--The private ship-of-war, the _Chance_, belonging to Mr. Hogan,
   of this place, and commanded by Mr. William White, having been a
   cruise on the coast of Peru, returned on the 11th instant. The
   Commander of the _Chance_ addressed a letter to me containing an
   account of his proceedings during his cruise. He appears to have
   uniformly acted with great propriety; but his conduct, and that of
   his officers and men, was, on two occasions, so highly creditable to
   them that I send his account of these occurrences for their
   lordships' information.

  "I am, etc.,
  "ROGER CURTIS."

Extract of a letter from Mr. William White, commander of the _Chance_
private ship of war, fitted out at the Cape of Good Hope, to
Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, Bart:

"At four p.m. on August 19th (1801), the island St. Laurence[19] bearing
N.E. two leagues, saw a large ship bearing down upon us. At nine brought
her to close action, and engaged her within half pistol-shot for an hour
and a half, but finding her metal much heavier than ours, and full of
men, boarded her on the starboard quarter, lashing the _Chance's_
bowsprit to her mizzen-mast, and, after a desperate resistance of
three-quarters of an hour, beat them off the upper deck; but they still
defended from the cabin and lower deck with long pikes in a most gallant
manner, till they had twenty-five men killed and twenty-eight wounded,
of whom the captain was one. Getting final possession, she was so close
to the island that with much difficulty we got her off shore, all her
braces and rigging being cut to pieces by our grape-shot. She proved to
be the new Spanish ship _Amiable Maria_, of about 600 tons, mounting
fourteen guns, 18, 12, and 9-pounders, brass, and carrying 120 men, from
Concepcion bound to Lima, laden with corn, wine, bale goods, etc. On
this occasion, I am much concerned to state, Mr. Bennett, a very
valuable and brave officer, was so dangerously wounded that he died
three days after the action; the second and fourth mates, Marine
officer, and two seamen badly wounded by pikes, but since recovered. On
the 20th, both ships being much disabled, and having more prisoners than
crew, I stood close in and sent eighty-six on shore in the large ship's
launch to Lima. We afterwards learned that seventeen of the wounded had
died.

"At 4 a.m. on September 24th, standing in to cut out from the roads of
Puna, in Guaiquil Bay, a ship I had information of, mounting twenty-two
guns, fell in with a large Spanish brig, with a broad pendant at
maintopmast-head. At five she commenced her fire on us, but she being at
a distance to windward, and desirous to bring her to close action, we
received three broadsides before a shot was returned. At half-past five,
being yardarm and yardarm, commenced our fire with great effect, and,
after a very severe action of two hours and three-quarters, during the
latter part of which she made every effort to get away, I had the honour
to see the Spanish flag struck to the _Chance_. She proved to be the
Spanish man-of-war brig _Limeno_, mounting eighteen long 6-pound guns,
commanded by Commodore Don Philip de Martinez, the senior officer of the
Spanish Marine on that coast, and manned with 140 men, sent from
Guaiquil for the express purpose of taking the _Chance_, and then to
proceed to the northward to take three English whalers lying in one of
their ports. She had fourteen men killed and seven wounded; the captain
mortally wounded, who died two days after the action. The _Chance_ had
two men killed and one wounded, and had only fifty men at the
commencement of the action; mounting sixteen guns, 12-and 6-pounders."

Captain White's little argument in favour of boarding the _Amiable_ (?)
_Maria_ reads rather quaintly: "Finding her metal much heavier than
ours, _and full of men_": a good argument for reversing the boarding
operations, one would imagine; but the _Amiable Maria_ was not equal to
the occasion--was not, in fact, if the pun may be pardoned, _taking any
chances_!

The other colonial privateer about which good things are recorded was
the _Rover_, of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. This loyal province, it appears,
fitted out some fifteen privateers in 1794 and the three following
years; and of these seven or eight hailed from the little town of
Liverpool. Captain Godfrey shall be allowed to tell his own simple and
straightforward tale:

"The brig _Rover_, mounting fourteen 4-pounders, was the present year
(1798) built and fitted for war at Liverpool in this province. She
sailed under my command June 4th last on a cruise against the enemies of
Great Britain, being commissioned by His Excellency Sir John Wentworth,
Bart. Our crew consisted of 55 men and boys, including myself and
officers, and was principally composed of fishermen."

"On the 17th of the same month, in the latitude of 23 N. and longitude
54 W.[20] we fell in with six sail of vessels, whom we soon discovered
to be enemies, one being a ship, with four brigs and a schooner. The
schooner showed 16 guns, one of the brigs 16 guns, another 6 guns. These
six vessels drew up close together, apparently with an intention of
engaging us. On consulting with my ship's company, we determined to bear
down and attack them, but so soon as the enemy perceived our intentions,
they by signal from the schooner dispersed, each taking a different
course, before we got within gunshot of them. After a few hours' chase
we took possession of the ship and one of the brigs. The ship proved an
American, bound from the South Seas, laden with oil, and the brig an
American, laden with wine, from Madeira. From them we learned that they
had been captured some short time before by a French privateer, which
was the schooner in company; that she mounted sixteen guns, two of which
were 9-pounders and the rest sixes, and carried 155 men; and that the
other three were American vessels which she had taken, one of which was
from the East Indies. Night coming on, we were prevented from taking any
more of them.

"On September 10th, being cruising near to Cape Blanco, on the Spanish
Main, we chased a Spanish schooner on shore and destroyed her. Being
close in with the land and becalmed, we discovered a schooner and three
gunboats under Spanish colours making for us. A light breeze springing
up, we were enabled to get clear of the land, when it fell calm, which
enabled the schooner and gunboats, by the help of a number of oars, to
gain fast upon us, keeping up at the same time a constant fire from
their bow-guns, which we returned with two guns pointed from our stern;
one of the gunboats did not advance to attack us. As the enemy drew near
we engaged them with muskets and pistols, keeping with oars the stern of
the _Rover_ towards them, and having all our guns well loaded with great
and small shot, ready against we should come to close quarters. When we
heard the commander of the schooner give orders to the two gunboats to
board us, I waited to see how they meant to attack us, and, finding the
schooner intended to board us on our starboard quarter, one of the
gunboats on our larboard bow, and the other on our larboard waist, I
suffered them to advance in that position until they came within about
fifteen yards, still firing on them with small-arms and the stern-guns.
I then manned the oars on the larboard side, and pulled the _Rover_
round so as to bring her starboard broadside to bear athwart the
schooner's bow, and poured into her a whole broadside of great and small
shot, which raked her deck fore and aft, while it was full of men ready
for boarding. I instantly shifted over on the other side [_i.e._ sent
the men over] and raked both gunboats in the same manner, which must
have killed and wounded a great number of those on board of them, and
done great damage to their boats. I then commenced a close action with
the schooner, which lasted three glasses [an hour and a half], and,
having disabled her sails and rigging much, and finding her fire grew
slack, I took advantage of a light air of wind to back my headsails,
which brought my stern on board of the schooner, by which we were
enabled to board and carry her, at which time the gunboats sheered off,
apparently in a very shattered condition. We found her to be the _Santa
Rita_, mounting ten 6-pounders and two 12-pounder carronades, with 125
men. She was fitted out the day before by the Governor of Porto Cavallo,
with the gunboats, for the express purpose of taking us. Every officer
on board of her was killed except the officers who commanded a party of
25 soldiers; there were 14 dead men on her deck when we boarded her, and
17 wounded; the prisoners, including the wounded, amounted to 71.

"My ship's company, including officers and boys, was only 45 in number,
and behaved with that courage and spirit which British seamen always
show when fighting the enemies of their country. It is with infinite
pleasure I add that I had not a man hurt; from the best account I could
obtain, the enemy lost 54 men. The prisoners being too numerous to be
kept on board, on the 14th ult. I landed them all except eight, taking
an obligation from them not to serve against his Majesty until regularly
exchanged. I arrived with my ship's company in safety this day (October
17th) at Liverpool, having taken during my cruise the before-mentioned
vessels, together with a sloop under American colours bound to Curaçao,
a Spanish schooner bound to Port Caballo, which have all arrived in this
province; besides which I destroyed some Spanish launches on the coast."

A very successful four month's cruise. Godfrey's crew of Nova Scotian
fishermen would be very difficult to beat: they were stalwart,
hard-bitten fellows, well used to hardship in their calling, and not
afraid of anything; much the same type, in fact, as those Salem men who
gave us so much trouble in the war of 1812.

To the initiated, Captain Godfrey's handling of his craft on the
approach of the three Spanish vessels will commend itself. It was an
exceedingly pretty bit of seamanship, only possible at such a moment to
a captain of consummate coolness, with his crew well in hand.

The Spaniards appear on this, as on so many other occasions, to have
made the wildest practice with their firearms; Godfrey had not a man
touched, after an action of one hour and a half, with a hand-to-hand
fight at the end of it!

[Footnote 17: An illegal and piratical act; she was bound to show her
own colours before firing.]

[Footnote 18: Wale, or wales, sometimes termed "bends"; the thickest
outside planking of the ship, at and above the water-line.]

[Footnote 19: There does not appear to be an island under this name on
the west coast of South America, in any modern atlas. It must have been
close to Callao, the sea-port of Lima, as he sent his prisoners on shore
there next day.]

[Footnote 20: That is, to the north-westward of the northernmost of the
Windward Islands, in the West Indies.]



CHAPTER XXIII

THE AFFAIR OF THE "BONAPARTE"


In the year 1804 there was a very formidable French privateer cruising
in the West Indies, by name the _Bonaparte_, carrying 18 guns and a crew
of over 200. This vessel encountered, in the month of August, the
British ship of war _Hippomenes_--a capture from the Dutch at the
surrender of Demerara in the previous year--of 18 guns, commanded by
Captain Kenneth McKenzie, who had in some measure disguised his ship in
order to entrap privateers. The Frenchman was so far deceived as to
invite a conflict, believing the _Hippomenes_ to be a "Guineaman," or
African slave-trader, which were almost always armed, but which the
_Bonaparte_ would have no cause to fear.

Having caught a tartar, the French captain did not on that account
endeavour to avoid battle, and a sharp action ensued. After some time,
the French ship fell aboard the _Hippomenes_, upon which Captain
McKenzie instantly had the two ships lashed together, and, calling upon
his men to follow him, sprang on board the _Bonaparte_. He appears,
however, to have been very unfortunate in his crew, many of whom, it is
said, were foreigners, and only eight men had the stomach to follow
him. This little band, however, under their captain's gallant
leadership, actually drove the Frenchmen from their quarters for a time,
no doubt under the impression that this was merely the vanguard of a
formidable force of boarders. Finding themselves opposed by such
insignificant numbers, however, they rallied, and the plucky Englishmen
were terribly cut up, McKenzie receiving no less than fourteen wounds,
while the first lieutenant and purser were killed and the master
wounded. There was nothing for it but to scramble back on board their
own ship, which they barely succeeded in doing when the lashings gave
way, and the vessels swung apart, Captain McKenzie almost missing his
leap, and falling senseless into the "chains" of his own ship. The
Frenchman had had enough, so the action ended indecisively, and the
_Bonaparte_ was free to continue her depredations. Had the whole of the
English crew been of the same kidney as the gallant eight her career in
the French service would certainly have been ended then and there.

A month or two later the _Bonaparte_ fell in with three British armed
merchantmen, to wit the _Thetis_, _Ceres_, and _Penelope_, which had
sailed in company from Cork in October, John Charnley, captain of the
Thetis, being commodore of the little squadron.

The _Bonaparte_ was sighted at 7 a.m. on November 8th, to windward of
Barbadoes, and the three English ships at once hauled their wind and
prepared for action. What ensued shall be told in the language of the
three captains, as illustrating the curious diversity of views which
may result from distorted vision in the heat of action--for that one or
other of these captains had his vision so distorted there can be no
doubt. All three letters are dated November 10th, 1804, from Bridge
Town, Barbadoes, and are addressed to the owners--though whether all
three ships were owned by one firm does not appear.

The captain of the _Ceres_ writes:

"I am happy to inform you of my safe arrival here, in company with the
_Penelope_ and _Thetis_. The day we came in we fell in with the
_Bonaparte_, French privateer, of twenty guns, which bore down upon us,
and commenced a very heavy fire, which we returned as warm as possible.
She attempted to board the _Thetis_, and, in the act, lost her bowsprit,
and soon after her foremast went over the side--a fortunate
circumstance, as I understand she was the terror of the West Indies. She
sent a challenge here by an American, the day before we arrived, to any
of our sloops of war to fight her. We understand she had beaten off one
of them. The action was very smart for about two hours; we began firing
at nine o'clock in the morning, and did not leave off till half after
twelve. My ship was on fire three times by neglect of the people with
their cartridges. She once got on fire in the cabin; but, by the
exertions of the crew, it was soon extinguished. They behaved with the
greatest spirit; and, I believe, would have fought to the last, though
half of them were foreigners. I had several shots in the hull and my
rigging and sails were very much cut. The small shot and grape came on
board us like hail, though they did not hit one man. I had two men blown
up by the cartridges taking fire, who are very much burnt."

The _Penelope_ account comes next:

"I arrived here safe, after a passage of thirty-three days, in company
with the _Ceres_ and _Thetis_, and shall be detained here some time to
refit: having on the 8th inst., in lat. 13.26 N., long. 57.30 W. had an
engagement with the _Bonaparte_ privateer, of 22 guns and 250 men, for
three hours; in which engagement we had ten of our guns dismounted,
which I must repair here, and likewise replenish our powder. I suppose I
shall be ready for sea by the 13th. I am sorry to say Mr. Lindo was
killed in the engagement, and his poor wife is very disconsolate. I wish
her to return home from hence, but she refuses. I send this by the
_Burton_, of Liverpool, who is now under weigh, or otherwise would be
more particular. The action commenced at 9 a.m., and we engaged until
half-past meridian, when we left off chase. The privateer lost her
bowsprit and foremast in attempting to board the _Thetis_, who had two
men killed and five wounded."

Captain Charnley's report is as follows:

   "MESSRS. STUART, HEESMAN, & CO."

   "GENTLEMEN,

   "I arrived here, in company with the _Ceres_ and _Penelope_, last
   evening. On the 8th instant, at 7 a.m., seeing a strange sail and a
   suspicious one (being commodore), I made a signal for an enemy, and
   to haul our wind on the larboard tack to meet her. At nine we met;
   she kept English colours flying till after firing two broadsides.
   Seeing him attempt to lay us alongside to leeward, thought it better
   to have him to windward, so wore ship on the other tack. He was then
   on our quarter, and lashed himself to our mizzen chains; the contest
   then became desperate for one hour. They set us on fire twice on the
   quarter-deck with stink-pots and other combustibles, and made four
   very daring attempts to board, with at least eighty men, out of their
   rigging, foretop, and bowsprit, but were most boldly repulsed by
   every man and boy in the ship. At the conclusion, a double-headed
   shot, from our aftermost gun, carried away his foremast by the board;
   that took away his bowsprit and maintopgallant-mast. He then thought
   it was time to cast us off. No less than fifty men fell with the
   wreck. We then hauled our wind as well as we could, to knot, splice,
   and repair our rigging for the time, which gave the other ships an
   opportunity to play upon the enemy; but, being a little to leeward,
   had not so good an effect. A short time afterwards wore ship for him
   again, with the other ships, and engaged him for about an hour more;
   but, finding it impossible to take him, owing to his number of men,
   and no surgeon to dress our wounded, I thought it best to steer our
   course for this island. Her name is the _Bonaparte_, of 20 9-pounders
   and upwards of 200 men. I had 18 6-pounders and 45 men, 19 never at
   sea before, boys and landsmen. As to the behaviour of my whole crew,
   to a man they were steady, and determined to defend the ship whilst
   there was one left alive. I had two killed and nine wounded. On our
   arrival Commodore Hood paid us every attention, sent the surgeon and
   mate to dress the wounded, also men to assist the ship to anchor, and
   gave me a written protection for my crew.[21] I cannot conclude
   without mentioning the gallant and spirited conduct of Mr. Dobbs, a
   midshipman (passenger with me), who acted as Captain of Marines, and
   during the action fought like a brave fellow, as well as exciting in
   the minds of the crew unconquerable zeal. We are much shattered in
   our hull, sails, and rigging; it will take us two days before we can
   be ready for sea."

  "I remain, in haste, gentlemen,
  "Your very obedient servant,
  "JOHN CHARNLEY."

In another letter to a friend, a day or two later, Charnley says:

"The _Bonaparte_ privateer is the completest ship in these seas. She
made too certain of us. Freers, my first mate, behaved most gallantly,
and fought like a lion; so did Lambert, my second mate. Indeed, I cannot
say enough for every man and boy in the ship. The greatest part of them
stripped and fought naked, and I am sure would have died sooner than
have been carried. There was one hour's hard work, I assure you. I was
near going frequently, as they fired several musket-balls through my
clothes."

This appears to be a straightforward account, and though it differs from
the others, in respect of the parts played by them in the action,
Captain Charnley does not attach any blame to them for lack of zeal or
enterprise.

The Barbadoes _Mercury_ headed the account of the action--"Defeat of
_Bonaparte_! _not_ the Great, but celebrated privateer of Guadaloupe!"

Four months later Captain Charnley deemed it necessary to publish, in
the _Bristol Journal_ of March 16th, 1805, the following justification
of himself:

"On our arrival in this port, observing a paragraph in the London papers
respecting a late action between the _Bonaparte_, French privateer, and
the ships _Thetis_, _Ceres_, and _Penelope_, off Barbadoes, which makes
it appear to the public that the two latter did wonders, and the
_Thetis_ little or nothing; I now think it incumbent on me, and a duty I
owe to my crew, as commander of the _Thetis_, to state a few facts, and
confute any reports that have been made of the action; which would have
been passed over in silence by me, had they not resorted to the means
they have of obtaining unmerited credit at the expense of others. The
three ships sailed in company from Cork, the _Thetis_ to act as
commodore. Nothing material occurred till November 8th, when at 7 a.m.
the man at our masthead called out, 'A sail!' It soon appearing a
suspicious one, I made a signal for an enemy, and to haul our wind on
the larboard tack to meet her; which was answered by our consorts. At
nine the privateer and the _Thetis_ met; the other ships not sailing so
fast, were at this time about one mile astern in her wake. The privateer
hailed us in English twice, with English colours flying; the latter we
answered with a broadside from our larboard guns. Seeing him determined
to board us, we wore ship and sailed large; in the act of doing which
she raked us twice, ran up alongside under a press of sail, and made
herself fast to our mizzen-chains. By this time the other ships were
nearly up; but, instead of coming into action on the enemy's quarter,
which ought to have been their station, bore up before they reached us,
fired five or six guns (the contents of which we shared with the enemy);
and during the whole time (upwards of one hour) we were lashed together
they were sailing ahead of us at about half a mile distance, although
the crew of the _Penelope_ went aft to their commander and told him it
was a shame to see the _Thetis_ so mauled and render no assistance: this
was their report on board his Majesty's ship _Centaur_. At the
conclusion of the fight a fortunate double-headed shot from our
aftermost gun carried away the enemy's foremast, bowsprit, and
maintopgallant-mast; upon which he cut us adrift, when we hauled our
wind to the northward, with an intention to gain so far to windward as
to get on his weather-side, where all the wreck was lying. On examining
my crew, I found two killed and seven wounded, our sails and rigging so
much cut that the ship was ungovernable; however, by uncommon exertions,
we got her wore on the other tack, but only fetched under the enemy's
lee, when we passed almost shaving her, and gave her two broadsides, at
the same time receiving one from her which wounded two more men and
disabled four guns. Afterwards spoke the _Ceres_, whose commander
inquired into the state of our ship and men; he and his passengers drank
my health, and he expressed himself more than once (through his
trumpet), that he was very sorry it was not in his power to give us any
assistance. I then urged a wish to further annoy the enemy, as she would
be an easy capture. His answer was, "It is impossible; she has too many
men." During this time, for about half an hour, the enemy was lying a
complete log, while our consorts had received no damage. However, at
length all three of us made sail together for her again, and engaged her
at a distance for about an hour. My wounded being in great agony, I
shaped a course for Barbadoes, where we all arrived next evening.

"When we anchored I was visited by Captain Richardson, of his Majesty's
ship _Centaur_, who immediately sent for a surgeon, Mr. Martin, who has
my thanks for his particular attention to the wounded. Commodore Hood
very handsomely gave me a protection for my crew, and took the wounded
into the Royal Hospital.

"So little credit was given to the account of the action given by the
captains of the _Ceres_ and _Penelope_ at Barbadoes, that they resorted
to the means of obtaining the captain of the _Bonaparte's_ signature to
a letter, in direct contradiction of his statement to a naval officer
who captured him, which was in the fullest manner corroborated by the
surgeon who was stopped at Dominica on his way to Guadaloupe.

"The action speaks for itself. Neither of the vessels, the _Ceres_ or
_Penelope_, was in the smallest degree injured, although one of them
reported he expended _six barrels_ of gunpowder. Double that quantity
might have been expended with equal effect, as a large proportion of it
was set fire to in the barrels. The _Penelope_, I understand, lost a
passenger by a chance shot, yet I believe was equally as fortunate as
the _Ceres_ in escaping without damage.

"The steady behaviour of the _Thetis's_ officers and crew in this
action, and their conduct during the voyage, demand my highest esteem,
and will be for ever imprinted on my memory."

The inhabitants of the island of Dominica, in presenting Captain
Charnley with a handsome sum of money and a piece of plate, allude to
his gallant defeat of the _Bonaparte_ as "thereby protecting two
valuable ships under your convoy": which is significant of the version
of the affair which had got abroad, either through Charnley or the
French captain.

However, it was not done with yet, for Daniel Bousfield, captain of the
_Ceres_, arrived in England in April and immediately proceeded to
enlighten the editor of the _Bristol Journal_ as to the "true facts" of
the case, enclosing a copy of the letter which he had received from the
captain of the _Bonaparte_, and which readers are requested "to compare
with the partial and pompous account of the action inserted, on the
authority of Mr. Charnley, in the public papers."

"Sir, I have been astonished at the account given against you of the
engagement we had together; the manner in which you conducted yourself
obliges me, upon my honour, to inform the public of the fact. On my
arrival here, I was surprised to find that the captain of the _Thetis_
took to himself all the merit of having fought with me. It is true that,
during the heat of the action, he was the nearest ship to me, but that
was from necessity, as it was him that I attacked first, and which I did
because I saw that he was the best armed of the three. He commenced the
fire, which was soon followed up by you and the other letter of marque.
The courage you have all three shown cannot be too much admired. Your
manoeuvres convince me that they were the result of reflection and
experience; and the national character which you have manifested
certainly merits the eulogium of the public.

"Your fire was tremendous for me; and I can with truth affirm that it
was you who did me most damage, and who dismasted my vessel, which was
the reason that I was unable to capture the _Thetis_. A single ship,
then, has not all the honour of the fight, but certainly all three. In
short, sir, I thank the accident that has procured me the pleasure of
your acquaintance, and to express the satisfaction that I feel in my
heart in writing this letter. I leave you full liberty to make it
public among your countrymen. In proving my particular esteem for your
person, it will no doubt, at the same time, ensure you the public
approbation, and preserve you from those malicious tongues who shall
dare attack your respectable character.

"I have the honour to be, with consideration and esteem, sir, your
obedient servant,

  "PAINPENY."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Frenchman declares that it was the _Ceres_ which dismasted his ship,
though both the captains state in their letters that she lost her
foremast, etc., in boarding the _Thetis_. Captain Charnley says the two
other ships stood off, and came out of the fight undamaged, whereas they
both report considerable injury, and the captain of the _Penelope_
states that ten of her guns were disabled. The only casualty, however,
appears to have been one passenger killed, while the _Ceres_ had only
two men injured, through their own careless handling of the
ammunition--though "the small-shot and grape came on board like hail."

Now, when we are told that a ship has ten guns disabled in action, and
that the only person touched was a passenger, presumably not stationed
at a gun, the question inevitably presents itself--where were the guns'
crews? Also, when grape and case are coming on board like hail, it seems
odd that nobody is hit. Every one who has any experience or knowledge of
battle is aware, of course, that the saying that "every bullet has its
billet" is rank romance; a vast majority of bullets discharged in hot
action find no other billet than the bottom of the sea--unless, indeed,
they are swallowed by inquisitive fish while sinking--or the nearest
hillside. Still, these two good men do not appear to make out their case
very well; let us hope that they did not deliberately lie to their
owners. The Frenchman was, of course, interested in demonstrating that
he was beaten off by three, rather than by one ship; still, he was
perhaps a very truthful man: and there we must leave it. The only thing
quite clear is that the _Bonaparte_ made rather sure of catching three
good prizes, and was considerably sold.

[Footnote 21: That is, indemnity from having the crew pressed by any
man-of-war which was short of hands. As a regular privateer, she would
be exempt from this; but apparently she and her consorts were
merchantmen, armed and probably provided with what were loosely termed
letters of marque for protection in case of attack.]

[Illustration: CAPTURE OF THE FRENCH PRIVATEER "JEUNE RICHARD"]



CHAPTER XXIV

THE "WINDSOR CASTLE" PACKET


One of the most brilliant instances of the defence of a packet is that
of the encounter of the _Windsor Castle_ with the French privateer
_Jeune Richard_. The packet was outward bound to the West Indies, and
fell in with the privateer not far from Barbadoes, about half-past eight
on the morning of October 1st, 1807. The privateer immediately gave
chase, being probably well aware of the class of vessel she would
encounter, and confident in her very great superiority in numbers. The
packet, commanded by acting-Captain W. Rogers, cracked on sail, as in
duty bound, to escape; but the big privateer schooner of those days was
among the fastest craft afloat, and it was speedily apparent that some
fighting would have to be done. Rogers had only twenty-eight in his
crew, all told, men and boys--sufficient to work the brig fairly well,
but not, one would imagine, to fight her against a schooner crowded with
men. However, he beat to quarters and made all his arrangements, not
forgetting to place some responsible persons in charge of the mails, to
shift them about to a place of safety as required, and, in the last
resort, to sink them. This, of course, reduced his little fighting force
still further.

The privateer was within gunshot at noon, and, hoisting French colours,
opened fire, the packet returning it with her stern-chasers. Arriving
within hail, the French captain, who appears to have been sadly
deficient in that politeness which is characteristic of his countrymen,
demanded, in rude and contemptuous terms, the lowering of the British
colours. He could very plainly see, by this time, how scanty was the
crew of the packet compared with his own, and, upon Rogers declining to
surrender, he immediately ran aboard the _Windsor Castle_, intending to
finish the affair off at once by sheer weight of numbers--for he
mustered no less than ninety-two, against the British modest
twenty-eight, minus the mail-tenders.

However, they did not get on board; so sharp and stubborn was the
resistance offered, that they were glad to return to their own decks,
eight or ten short in their number, and immediately cut the
grappling-ropes to get clear. The vessels, however, had got locked by
their spars, and a desperate encounter ensued. The men in charge of the
mails, upon whom the captain, in spite of the fighting, contrived always
to keep an eye, were running about from one place to another with them;
but they did not prematurely sink them, though matters must have looked
hopeless enough.

About three o'clock, seeing the enemy about to attempt boarding again,
Rogers crammed one of his 6-pounder carronades with grape, canister, and
a bagful of musket-balls, and let drive just as the Frenchmen commenced
their rush. The result was tremendous, a great number being killed and
wounded. "Soon after this," says Captain Rogers, in the most
matter-of-fact style, as though it were quite an ordinary kind of
affair, "I embraced the opportunity of boarding, in turn, with five men,
and succeeded in driving the enemy from his quarters, and about four
o'clock the schooner was completely in our possession. She is named the
_Jeune Richard_, mounting six 6-pounders and one long 18-pounder, having
on board at the commencement of the action ninety-two men, of whom
twenty-one were found dead upon her decks, and thirty-three wounded.
From the very superior number of the enemy still remaining, it was
necessary to use every precaution in securing the prisoners. I was
obliged to order them up from below, one by one, and place them in their
own irons as they came up, as three of our little crew were killed, and
ten severely wounded, the mizzen-mast and mainyard carried away, and the
rigging fore and aft much damaged. It is my duty to mention to you, sir,
that the crew of the packet, amounting at first to only twenty-eight men
and boys, supported me with the greatest gallantry during the whole of
this arduous contest."

So runs the bare narration, in a service letter to Rear-Admiral the Hon.
Sir Alexander Cochrane, who, in forwarding it to the Admiralty, remarks:
"It is such an instance of bravery and persevering courage, combined
with great presence of mind, as was scarcely ever exceeded."

No one will feel disposed to quarrel with this verdict. Rogers would
have done well, if, against such odds, he had beaten off his opponent,
and saved the mails; the boarding and carrying of the privateer by six
men was certainly something outside the bargain!


THE "CATHERINE"

The _Naval Chronicle_ for December 1808 contains a copy of a letter from
the mate of an armed ship, the _Catherine_, the property of Messrs. Hogg
& Co., of London, giving an account of a severe action with a French
privateer. The mate--whose name was Robertson--writes very simply and
convincingly, and shall tell his own story:

  MALTA, _September 26th, 1808_.

"GENTLEMEN,

"I do myself the honour to inform you of the safe arrival of the ship
_Catherine_ in this port from Gibraltar, which place she left on the 8th
instant; but I am sorry to add that Captain Fenn was very badly wounded,
on the 13th inst., in latitude 38 deg. 35 min. N., longitude 3 deg. 20
E.,[22] by a shot in an action with a French privateer. On that day a
sail hove in sight on the larboard bow, on a wind, standing for us. We
hoisted ensign and pendant, and fired a gun. She showed St. George's
flag and pendant, and stood on until she got into our wake, then bore up
directly for us. We prepared everything for action, being suspicious of
her; and as soon as it was possible to be understood, by Captain Fenn's
order, I hailed and asked from whence she came? She answered, from
Gibraltar, and was in distress for water. I ordered her to haul her wind
immediately, or we should fire into her. She still cried out, 'Water!
water!' and came on, when I immediately pointed one of the stern guns,
and ordered fire. I then jumped to the opposite gun, pointed it, and
ordered fire. This order was countermanded, in consequence of her crying
'Mercy!' and 'Water!' But as soon as the smoke of the first gun cleared
away, Captain Fenn saw with his glass that they were getting ready to
change their colours, and were pointing their bow-guns. He called out,
'It is a Frenchman, fire away!' He no sooner spoke than he got the
contents of the second; but before our guns could be fired again he
grappled, and commenced a heavy fire with grape and musketry. I
immediately seized a musket and shot the captain, who was going to give
orders through his trumpet. I sung out, 'I have shot the captain!
Victory, my boys!' and we gave him three cheers to advance. They
returned the same, and came on bravely; when poor Fenn, with his
boarding-pike in his hand, was shot through the body. He addressed
himself to me: 'I am shot; but fight on, my dear fellow.' I encouraged
my men, and soon repelled the boarders with very great slaughter.

"In about half an hour, like savages, they sang out and came on again;
but were again repulsed with considerable loss. This caused such great
confusion among them that they got their grapplings unhooked and took a
broad sheer off; which I improved immediately by sheering likewise, and
got two of the great guns into him before he could get to again. This,
no doubt, damped their courage; but they again boarded, with three
cheers, and several succeeded in getting over our nettings into the
poop; but our men, like heroes, made a bold push, and either killed or
wounded every man who made his appearance; and those poor devils who had
the impudence to come on the poop were all shoved overboard with the
pikes fast in their bodies. This was the sickening job, for they made a
terrible noise, and got their grapplings unhooked; when I ordered the
man at the wheel to luff the ship to give a broadside. Unfortunately,
the ship was unmanageable, her sails and running rigging flying in all
directions; but, as a substitute, we gave them the stern-chasers,
entirely loaded with grape, as long as it could be of service. I then
gave all the hands a good glass of grog, and, like smart fellows, they
soon got the vessel on her course again. This being done, I ran to the
captain and dressed his wounds. He was then apparently dying; but,
through a miracle, we have preserved his life. He is in a tolerably fair
way, and on shore, under the doctor's charge.

"The privateer was a fine, lateen-rigged vessel, carrying two large
sails, and her decks as full of men as possible--we judge from seventy
to eighty. We must have killed a great number, as a great quantity of
blood rose on the water. It appeared to me a miracle that none of our
men were killed, as the grape and musket-balls came in like hail. We had
only two men slightly wounded, one of whom was at the wheel."

Little comment is necessary to supplement this narrative, except that
the _Catherine's_ loss was very trivial for so severe an action. It is
impossible to explain these things, which so frequently crop up in the
reports of battles, both by land and sea. A whole company or a ship's
crew comes almost unscathed out of a "hail of lead and iron." Well,
either the "hail" was not quite as thick as was imagined in the heat of
action or the balls found every gap between the men. The _Catherine_
would not, of course, have more than about five-and-thirty hands, if as
many, and they would be scattered about at the guns until the Frenchmen
endeavoured to board. Mr. Robertson's graphic and circumstantial story
is quite worthy of credence, and he was certainly an able second in
command.

Another spirited incident of a similar description is the defence of the
_Fortune_, armed ship, Captain Hodgson, against a French privateer, on
April 13th, 1811. The odds were, as usual on such occasions, very
greatly in favour of the privateer, which was a brig, carrying 16 guns
and about 120 men; while the _Fortune_, which was not intended for
aggression, had 8 small guns and 2 swivels, and 19 persons on board, all
told.

The action took place in the Atlantic some distance west of Ireland, and
lasted for an hour and twenty minutes. The Frenchman, as usual, hoisted
English colours at first, and, getting within hail, desired Captain
Hodgson to send his boat on board. This was too stale a trick to meet
with any success: "If you have any business with me, send your boat
here," was the reply.

Failing in his ruse, the privateer captain immediately hoisted French
colours and fired, first a single shot between the _Fortune's_ masts and
then a broadside, which was promptly returned with 100 per cent.
interest. Then the enemy, very naturally, sought to bring matters to a
conclusion by boarding; but, in spite of their numbers, they could not
obtain any footing on the _Fortune's_ deck. Eight of them managed to get
into the jolly-boat, which hung from the stern--a very convenient method
of boarding, provided that no one happens to be handy with a sharp
knife. Unluckily for the eight Frenchmen, an English seaman with a cool
head and a keen knife happened to be close by--possibly he was
steering--and in a moment the jolly-boat's tackles were cut, and she
disappeared with her freight. On the forecastle, however, a considerable
number had got on board at one moment, but Hodgson, nothing daunted,
ordered a volley and led a charge with such impetuosity that the enemy
was driven from the deck--mostly overboard.

The _Fortune's_ colours were shot away twice, and, after the second
time, were nailed to the gaff by a young lad, who, of course,
immediately became a mark for the enemy's small-arms; but it is said
that he very coolly completed his operations, encouraging the Frenchmen
to "fire away." This is very probably true; it is just the kind of thing
an English boy delights in doing--more readily, perhaps, than one of
more experience.

The _Fortune_, however, in spite of the sustained and courageous
resistance of her company, was soon in a bad way: her sails riddled, her
rigging cut to pieces, and too large a proportion of her crew wounded or
killed, it seemed inevitable that she must surrender; but a lucky
shot--or rather, let us say, a skilful shot, and give the gunner the
credit, instead of "luck"--brought down the privateer's foretopmast. The
"Fortunes" raised a hearty cheer, and the enemy, hampered by the wreck,
sheered off, receiving a parting kick in the shape of a broadside.
Hodgson and his men hurried up to repair damages, expecting a renewal of
the attack; but the privateers had had what is known in sporting circles
as a "bellyful," and did not come up to the scratch again. Out of her
small ship's company, the _Fortune_ had four killed and six
wounded--which only leaves nine to fight!


THE "THREE SISTERS"

Captain George Thompson, of the merchant ship _Three Sisters_, addressed
the following letter to his owners on September 18th, 1811, being then
off the Isle of Wight:

"I have to acquaint you with a desperate engagement I have had with a
French privateer, Le Fevre, mounting 10 guns--six long sixes, and four
12-pound carronades--with swivels and small arms, manned with 58 men,
out from Brest fourteen days, in which time she captured the _Friends_
schooner, from Lisbon, belonging to Plymouth, and a large sloop from
Scilly, with codfish and sundries, for Falmouth. On the 11th, at nine
p.m., we observed her on the larboard bow; we were then steering N.N.E.
about ten leagues from Scilly, and nearly calm.

"I immediately set my royals, fore steering-sails, and made all clear
for action. At two a.m., when all my endeavours to escape were useless,
she being within musket-shot, I addressed my crew, and represented the
hardships they would undergo as prisoners, and the honour and happiness
of being with their wives and families. This had the desired effect, and
I immediately ordered the action to commence, and endeavoured to keep a
good offing; but which he prevented by running alongside, and
immediately attempted to board, with a machine I never before observed,
which was three long ladders, with points at the end, that served to
grapple us to them. They made three desperate attempts, with about
twelve men at each ladder, but were received with such a determination
that they were all driven back with great slaughter, and formed a heap
for the others to ascend with greater facility.

"Finding us so desperate, they immediately, on their last charge
failing, knocked off their ladders, one of which they were unable to
unhook from our side, and left it with me, and sheered off; but, I am
sorry to say, without my being able to injure them, as they had shot
away part of my rudder before they boarded me, and I am sorry to say
wounded several of my masts and yards, for it seemed to be their aim to
carry away some of my masts, but which, happily, they did not effect.
The most painful part of my narrative is the loss of two men and a boy
killed, and four wounded; but the wounded are doing well. Our whole crew
amounted, officers and men, to twenty-six men and four boys, and deserve
the highest applause that can be bestowed upon them. I arrived off here
this afternoon, and, as it is fine weather, I have no doubt of reaching
London in safety, as I have but little damage in my hull."


CONCLUSION

With this brilliant little incident this account must come to a close.

Are there to be any privateering actions in future naval warfare? The
Declaration of Paris, in 1856, at the close of the Crimean War, lays
down that "Privateering is and remains abolished"; but will this dictum
be accounted as holding good, if it should suit any naval power to
resort to the practice?

It cannot be expected that this will be so. The days of the raking,
fast-sailing brig or schooner are, indeed, over; but there remain the
swift ocean "greyhounds," admirably adapted, if armed with a few
long-ranged, quick-firing guns, for running down and capturing merchant
vessels, and showing a clean pair of heels on the appearance of a
cruiser. Can it be doubted that some of them will be utilised for the
purpose?

At the recent International Conference it was distinctly suggested that
fast merchant vessels may be converted into men-of-war, on the high
seas; and though the British delegates refused to recognise the
principle, it was not negatived, and remains open.

If a merchant skipper has instructions, upon learning of the declaration
of war, to hoist up the guns from his hold and act as a cruiser against
the enemy's commerce, the margin between this and privateering is an
exceedingly narrow one: moreover, we have had numerous instances lately
of the treatment of international treaties and declarations as so much
piecrust; so we must not be surprised if the Declaration of Paris shares
the same fate. We may, in fact, in this twentieth century, hark back to
the dictum of that shrewd old Admiralty judge, Sir Leoline Jenkins,
previously quoted: privateers will probably remain, as "a sort of people
that will always be found fault with, but still made use of."

[Footnote 22: That is, a little south of the island of Majorca.]



INDEX


  _Achilles_, 305, 306

  Actions (in order of relation):
    _Lion_ (Andrew Barton) and _Jenny Pirwin_ and two English ships, 22-24;
    _Amity_ and two Spaniards, 29-32;
    _Duke_ (Captain Rogers) and Panama ship, 63;
    _Duke_ and _Duchess_ and Manila ship, 71;
    _Speedwell_ and Spanish ship, 85-87;
    _Alexander_ and _Solebay_, 95, 96;
    _Antigallican_ and _Duc de Penthièvre_, 99, 100;
    _Terrible_ and _Vengeance_, 106-111;
    _Mentor_ and _Carnatic_, 113, 114;
    _Fame_ (Capt. Moor) and five French ships, 115-117;
    _Ellen_ and _Santa Anna Gratia_, 118-120;
    _St. George_ (Capt. Wright) and French privateer, 137-139;
    _Duke_ (Capt. Morecock) and _Prince Frederick_ and three French
     ships, 150;
    _Mars_ (Capt. Walker) and _Boscawen_ and French man-of-war, 157;
    _Mars_ and French men-of-war, 158-160;
    _Mars_ and _Sheerness_ and eight French ships, 165-169;
    French ship and boats of George Walker's squadron, 177, 178;
    George Walker's squadron and Spanish treasure-ship, 179-185;
    _Anglesea_ and _Apollon_, 191-195;
    _Lion_ (Capt. Brett) and _Elizabeth_, 195, 196;
    _Palme_ (French) and _Neptune_ (Dutch), 202, 203;
    _Dauphin_ and _Sherdam_ (Dutch), 204;
    _Trinité_ (French) and _Concorde_ (Dutch) 210;
    _Diligente_ and six English men-of-war, 214-216;
    _François_ and two English ships, 220, 221;
    _St. Jacques_ and four consorts (French) and three Dutch ships,
     224, 225;
    _Jason_ (French) and English squadron, 226-228;
    _St. William_ (French) and Dutch ship, 232, 233;
    Cassard's squadron and two English ships, 235-238;
    _Centurion_ and _Diomede_ (English) and French Squadron, 246;
    _Cartier_ (French) and _Triton_, 251-255;
    _Confiance_ and _Kent_, 258-260;
    _Argo_ (American) and _King George_, 275, 276;
    _Argo_ and _Dragon_, 277, 278;
    _Argo_ and _Saratoga_ and _Dublin_, 278-280;
    _Pomona_ (American) and _Rosebud_, 283-285;
    _Hyder Ali_ (American) and _General Monk_, 299-303;
    _General Pickering_ (American) and _Golden Eagle_, 304, 305;
    _General Pickering_ and _Achilles_, 305, 306;
    _Comet_ (American) and four English ships convoyed by Portuguese
     war-ship, 309-311;
    _Chasseur_ (American) and _St. Lawrence_, 312-316;
    _General Armstrong_ (American) and _Carnation_, 317-324;
    _Princess Royal_ packet and _Aventurier_, 330-333;
    _Chance_ (colonial privateer) and Spanish ship, 334, 335;
    _Chance_ and Spanish war-ship, 335, 336;
    _Rover_ (colonial privateer) and five French ships, 337, 338;
    _Rover_ and three Spanish ships, 338-340;
    _Bonaparte_ and _Hippomenes_, 341, 342;
    _Bonaparte_ and three English ships, 342-353;
    _Windsor Castle_ packet and _Jeune Richard_, 354-357;
    _Catherine_ and French privateer, 357-360;
    _Fortune_ and French privateer, 360, 362;
    _Three Sisters_ and French privateer, 362-364

  Admiralty, High Court of, 11

  _Adventure_, 214, 215, 228

  Aigle, Captain de l', 235

  Albatross, The, 80, 81

  Albemarle, Lord, Admiral, 200

  _Alexander_, 95

  _Alexandre le Grande_, 106

  Algiers, 117

  America Cup, The, 325

  American War of Secession, 112

  _Amiable Maria_, 335, 336

  _Amity_ and the Spaniards, 28-32

  "Ancient Mariner, The," 81

  _Anglesea_, 192

  Anne, Queen, 48

  Anson, Admiral Lord, 98

  _Antelope_, 147

  _Antigallican_, 97-99, 103, 104

  Antigallicans, Society of, 96-99, 103, 105

  Antigua, 239

  _Apollon_, 192, 195

  _Ardent_, 286, 289, 290 _n._

  _Arethusa_, 264

  _Argo_, 275-277, 280

  Arica, 83

  Aristocrats, French Naval; their hatred of privateersmen, 205, 224

  Armed merchant vessels, Distinction of, 12

  Articles of War, 193, 198

  _Augusta_, 192

  _Auguste_, 226

  _Aurora_, 241, 242, 244

  Austrian Succession, War of the, 47

  _Aventurier_, 332

  Azores, The, 149, 171, 172, 317


  Backwoodsmen as Marines, 301, 302

  Bahamas, The, 72

  Baker, Mr. Peter, 111-115

  Balasore Roads, 251

  Ballet, John, 44

  Barbadoes, Island of, 155, 342, 343, 349, 354

  Barbary, 142

  Barkley, Lieutenant, 237, 238

  Barney, Joshua;
    captured in a trader, 282;
    first officer of _Pomona_, 282;
    sails for Bordeaux, 282;
    fights English privateer, 283;
    a marvellous 3-pounder, 284;
    reaches Bordeaux, 285;
    captures an English privateer, 285;
    is a prisoner of war, 285;
    kindly treated by Admiral Byron, 286;
    accused of incendiarism, 286, 287;
    sent to England in _Yarmouth_, 287;
    alleged cruel treatment, 287-289;
    sent to Mill Prison, 289;
    his ruse to escape, 293, 294;
    his escape, 294, 295;
    gets off in a fishing smack, 296;
    brought back to England, 296;
    escapes to Plymouth, 297, 298;
    gets away to Holland, 298;
    arrives in America, commands _Hyder Ali_, 299;
    his action with _General Monk_, 299-303;
    conflicting accounts of action, 303;
    commands _General Washington_ (late _General Monk_), 304;
    revisits Plymouth, 304;
    other reference, 325

  Barney, Mary (probably daughter of Joshua), 290, 291, 292

  Bart, Jean, famous French privateer captain, romantic stories about,
  196, 206;
    his origin, 197;
    boy on board a smuggler, 197;
    mate on board _Cochon Gras_, 197;
    wanton brutality of captain, 197;
    witnesses application of the
    Judgments of Oléron, 198-200;
    pilots French nobles to Harwich, 200;
    joins the Dutch navy, 201;
    returns to France and commands a small privateer, 201;
    captures a States-General war-ship, 201;
    is admonished for ransoming prizes, 202;
    captures eight armed ships, 202;
    his desperate fight with a Dutchman, 202, 203;
    receives a gold chain from the king, 203;
    his continued success, 204;
    takes another Dutch ship after a bloody encounter, 204, 205;
    gallantry of the Dutch captain, 205;
    he is badly wounded, and his ship destroyed, 205;
    returns to Dunkirk after peace is declared, 205;
    accepts a commission in the Navy, 205;
    is snubbed by the aristocrats, 205;
    the cask of gunpowder fable, 206, 207;
    chiefly remembered as a privateer, 207

  Barton, Andrew;
    a leader of men, 20;
    suppresses Flemish pirates, 21;
    sends their heads to the king, 21;
    his exploits under letter of marque, 21;
    accused of piracy, 21;
    two ships sent to take him, 22;
    his fight with Howard, 23;
    his gallantry and death, 23;
    surrender of the _Lion_, 24;
    the crew imprisoned, 24;
    released on certain conditions, 25;
    redress for his death refused by Henry VIII., 25;
    "Ballad of Sir," 25, 26, 27;
    the incident a true one, 27;
    not a knight, 27;
    no proof of his piracy, 28;
    other reference, 203

  Barton, John, father of Andrew, 19

  Barton, Robert, brother of Andrew, 20

  _Batchelor_, 72

  Bath, William, 53

  Bayonne, 6

  _Beginning_, 61

  Bengal, Bay of, 250, 251, 258, 261

  Bentham, Com. George, 318

  Bergen, 206

  Bermuda, 314

  Betagh, William, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 86, 87, 92

  Betsy, 280

  _Bienfaisant_, 195

  _Bienvenue_, 243

  Bizerta, 233

  Blaize, Mlle. Marie, who marries Robert Surcouf, 255, 261

  Blanco, Cape (South America), 338

  _Bloodhound_, 308

  Blundell, Captain (of Liverpool Regiment), 118

  _Bonaparte_, 342-353

  Bordeaux, 264, 282, 285, 286, 333

  Borrowdale, Captain James, 117-120

  _Boscawen_, 157, 158, 160, 164, 166, 167, 176

  Boston, 220

  Boulogne, 266

  Bousfield, Captain Daniel, 350

  Boyle, Captain Thomas, commands the _Comet_, 308;
    runs blockade of Chesapeake, 308;
    encounter with Portuguese war-ship and four English ships, 308-311;
    captures one, 311;
    his success in _Comet_, 312;
    commands _Chasseur_, 312;
    successful action with English man-of-war schooner _St. Lawrence_,
    312-16;
    discrepancies in accounts of action, 314, 315;
    posts "Proclamation of Blockade" at Lloyd's, 316;
    other reference, 325

  Brazil, 52, 80

  Brehat, Island of, 212, 219

  Brest, 158, 162, 231

  Bridgetown (Barbadoes), 343

  _Brilliant_, 86

  Bristol, 41, 43, 150, 169, 177, 298

  Bristol Channel, 213

  Brittany, Sir John of, 6

  Bromedge, Captain Hugh, 177

  Brook, John, 82, 83

  Bruce, Sophia, 74

  Bucaille, Baron, 262

  Buccaneers, 14, 36, 39, 65, 73

  Buchanan, George, Scotch historian, 24, 25, 27

  Bulls, The Pope's traffic in, 29

  Burnaby, Captain Sir William, 140

  Byron, Vice-Admiral the Hon. John, 286;
    wild chronology with regard to, 289, 290


  Cadiz, 100, 101, 102, 180, 241

  Caen, 209

  Cagliari, 141

  Calais, 200

  Caldwell, Captain, 290

  Campo Florida, Prince of, 132

  Canary Islands, 76, 77

  Cancer, Tropic of, 48

  Candis, Mrs. (who married Alexander Selkirk), 74

  Cape May (Delaware), 300

  Cape May Roads, 300

  Cape Verde Islands, 50, 239

  Caper, 4

  _Captain_, 161

  Caramania, 129

  Cardigan, 271

  _Carnatic_, 114

  _Carnation_, 318, 319, 322

  Carolina, North, 155

  Carolina, South, 154

  Caroline, Queen (of George II.), 195

  Carronade, 9-pounder, 299, 303

  Carroway, Captain, 307

  Carthagena (South America), 229, 230, 231

  _Cartier_, 251, 252, 255

  Cassard, Jacques, French privateersman, his origin, 229;
    joins expedition against Carthagena, 229;
    gallantry and resource in attack, 230;
    his suppression of pillage, etc., 230, 231;
    appointed naval lieutenant, 231;
    but goes privateering, 231;
    desperate and successful action with a Dutchman, 232, 233;
    admonished for ransoming prizes, 233;
    convoys grain-ships to Marseilles, 234;
    is cheated by the merchants, 234;
    convoys more grain-ships, 235;
    his desperate fight with two English war-ships, 236-238;
    he captures both, 238;
    supervises military works at Toulon, 238;
    commands a squadron and makes various conquests, 239;
    jealousy of aristocrats and his own imprudence land him in prison,
    where he dies, 239

  _Catharina_, 169

  _Catherine_, 357-360

  Causand Bay (Devon), 296

  _Centaur_, 348

  _Centurion_, 246

  _Ceres_, 342, 343, 344, 347, 349, 350, 352

  _Chance_, 334-336

  Charles, Archduke of Austria, 47

  Charles II., King, 8, 11

  Charles VI., Emperor, 75

  Charnley, Captain John, 342, 346, 347, 350, 351, 352

  _Charon_, 195

  _Chasseur_, 312-316

  _Chatham_, 226

  Chesapeake Bay, 308

  Chesapeake River, 282

  Chiloe, 81

  _Cicero_, 298

  _Cinque Ports_, 37, 38, 39, 59, 61

  Civil War (American), 13

  _Clarisse_, 255, 256, 257

  Clipperton, John, commands _Success_, with _Speedy_ as consort
  (Captain Shelvocke), 76;
    ill-will between them, 76;
    separates from Shelvocke, 77;
    leaves record at Juan Fernandez, 87;
    has trouble with his crew, 88;
    takes some prizes, 88;
    one of them recaptured, 88, 89;
    captures rich prize, 89;
    she is recaptured by Spanish war-ships, 89;
    takes to drink, 89;
    some of his crew desert, 90;
    encounters Shelvocke, 90;
    they disagree and part, 91;
    sails for China, 91;
    returns home in an Indiaman, 91;
    his death, 91;
    other reference, 38

  Clowes, Sir W. Laird, naval historian, 12 _n._, 313, 314

  _Cochon Gras_, 197

  Cochrane, Rear-Admiral the Hon. Alexander, 356

  _Coëtquen_, 212

  Coggleshall, George, American seaman and writer, 270, 314, 325

  Colbert, French Minister of State, 204

  Coldsea, Mr., 85

  Coleridge, Samuel T., the poet, 81

  _Comet_, 308, 310, 311, 312

  _Comte d'Artois_, 195

  Concepcion (Chili), 81

  _Concepcion_, 91

  _Concorde_, 210

  Confederate States of America, 13

  _Confiance_, 257, 258-260

  Connelly, Mr., 66

  Constable, Captain Charles, 235, 236, 237

  Cooke, Edward, 51, 61

  _Cora_, 308

  Cork, 42, 43, 45

  Corunna, 99, 104

  Cosby, Captain, 281

  _Courier_, 246

  Courtney, Captain Stephen, 45, 60, 61

  Courts-Martial:
    Captain Charles Constable, of the _Falcon_, 238
    Captain William Dampier, of the _Roebuck_, 36
    Lieutenant James E. Gordon, of the _St. Lawrence_, 314, 315
    Captain Thomas Griffin, of the _Captain_, 161
    Captain Savage Mostyn, of the _Hampton Court_, 162
    Lieutenant Baker Phillips, of the _Anglesea_, 193, 194
    Captain Edward Rumsey, of the _Pembroke_, 238
    Captain Matthew Smith, of the _Diomede_, 246
    Surviving officers of the _Nonsuch_, 221

  _Creole_, 247

  Crow, Captain Hugh, 12, 13

  Curaçao, 239, 340

  Curtis, Vice-Admiral Sir Roger, 334

  _Cybèle_, 246, 247

  Cyclones of the Indian Ocean, 242


  Dampier, William, circumnavigator and privateer, served in the Navy, 35;
    a buccaneer, 36;
    commands a man-of-war, 36;
    is tried by Court-Martial and dismissed, 36;
    commands _St. George_, privateer, with _Cinque Ports_ as consort, 37;
    South Sea voyage a failure, 37;
    discontent, mutiny, and desertions, 37;
    futile action with French ships, 37;
    captures a large Spanish provision ship, 37;
    parts from _Cinque Ports_, 38;
    men desert with mate and steward, 38;
    takes a brigantine and sails for East Indies, 38;
    imprisoned in Dutch factory, 38;
    arrives in England, 38;
    controversy as to account of voyage, 38;
    other references, 41, 44, 55, 58, 59, 64, 65, 73, 75

  Dana, Richard, 83

  Danes, The, 5

  Daniel, Captain James, 82

  _Danycan_, 211, 212

  Dartmoor Prison, 281

  Dartmouth, 157

  _Dartmouth_, 185

  _Dash_, 307

  _Dauphin_, 204, 205

  Dawson, Captain John, 112, 113, 114

  Death, Captain, of the _Terrible_, 106, 109, 110, 111

  _Defiance_, 98

  Defoe, Daniel, 40, 57

  Delaware Bay, 300

  Delaware River, 300

  _Delft_, 224, 225

  Demerara, 341

  Denham, Captain Robert, 177

  _Dentelle_, 195, 196

  De Pointis, 229, 231

  De Ruyter, Dutch Admiral, 200

  _Deux Frères_, 116

  _Diana_, 251, 252, 254

  Digby, Admiral, 296

  Dinan, 240, 241

  Dighton, Mass., 274

  _Diligente_, 214, 215

  _Diomede_, 246

  Dominica, Island of, 350

  D'Ongressill, Bernard, 6, 7, 8, 179

  _Doris_, 323

  Dottin, Captain Edward, 177, 183, 184, 185

  Dover, Thomas, 43, 44, 55, 56, 58, 62, 65, 66, 71, 72

  _Dragon_ man-of-war, 214, 215

  _Dragon_ privateer, 277

  _Dreadnought_, 161, 162

  Dublin, 115

  _Dublin_, 278-280

  Du Cange, French archæologist, 7 _n._

  Du Casse, Governor of St. Domingo, 229, 230

  _Duc de Penthièvre_, 99, 100, 102-104

  _Duchess_, 42, 44, 46, 53, 54, 60, 62, 65, 71

  Du Haies, Captain, 235

  _Duke_ (Rogers's ship), 42, 44, 46, 53, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65

  _Duke_ (Jas. Talbot's ship), 149, 150, 177, 179, 183, 185

  _Duke of Bedford_, 171

  _Duke William_, 154, 155

  Duncan, Captain, 285

  Dunkirk, 197, 201, 203, 204, 205, 207


  _Éclatant_, 233

  Edward the Confessor, King, 5

  Edward I., King, 6

  _Elizabeth_, 195

  Elizabeth, Queen, 25

  _Ellen_, 117-119

  Elton, Captain Jacob, 192, 193

  _Emilie_, 249-251

  _Endymion_, 324

  _Esperance_, 201

  _Eurydice_, 149

  Exeter, 298


  _Fair American_, 300

  _Falcon_, armed ship, captured by Du Guay Trouin, 220, 221

  _Falcon_, man-of-war, captured by Jacques Cassard, 235, 236

  _Faluère_, 225

  _Fame_ (Captain Moor), 115-117

  _Fame_ (Captain Wright), 128-131, 135, 142

  Faussett, Lieutenant Robert, 322

  Fayal, Azores, 317, 318, 322

  Fenn, Captain, 357, 358

  Ferrol, 180, 186

  Feuquières, M. de, 234, 236, 237

  Fisher, Lieutenant, 36

  _Flamborough_, 97

  _Fleuron_, 158-160, 162, 163, 234

  Fleury, Cardinal, 239

  Flodden Field, Battle of, 19

  Florence, 125

  Fly-boat, 30

  Forteventura, Island of, 47

  _Fortune_, 360-362

  Foster, Captain William, 97, 98, 101, 104

  Fourmentin, Denis, 262, 263

  _François_, 219, 221

  Frio, Cape, 77, 92

  Funnell, William, 38


  Gabriel, John, 68

  Galapagos Islands, 68, 69, 73, 89

  _General Armstrong_, 319-324

  _General Monk_, 299-303;
    conflicting accounts of action, 303

  _General Pickering_, 304-306

  _General Washington_ (Silas Talbot's ship), 280

  _General Washington_ (afterwards _General Monk_, then recaptured), 299

  Genoa, Gulf of, 234

  _George_, 169

  George II., King, 132

  George III., King, 55, 246 _n._

  Gibraltar, 100, 102, 104, 154, 357

  Gibraltar, Strait of, 29

  _Glorioso_, 181, 182

  Godfrey, Captain, 337, 340

  Godwin, Earl, 5

  _Golden Eagle_, 304-306

  Goldsworthy, Mr., Consul at Cadiz, 101

  Good Hope, Cape of, 334

  Gordon, Lieutenant James Edward, 314, 315

  Grain-ships, French, 233-238

  Green, Mr. John, 178

  _Grenedan_, 211

  Griffin, Captain Thomas, 161

  Guadaloupe, Island of, 350

  Guam, 70

  Guano, 83

  Guayaquil, 61, 63, 64, 69, 73, 88, 335, 336


  Hall, Edward, Chronicler, 24, 25, 27

  _Hampton Court_, 161, 162

  Hampton Roads (America), 307

  Haraden, Captain Jonathan, of Salem;
    his skill and coolness under fire, 304, 306;
    captures _Golden Eagle_ by an almost incredible ruse, 304, 305;
    captures _Achilles_, 305, 306;
    doubtful story of capture of an English packet, 306;
    other reference, 325

  Harrison, John, maker of first chronometer, 55

  Harwich, 200

  Hatley, Simon, 69, 76, 78-81

  _Havre de Grace_, 69

  Hazard, Captain, 276

  Henry III., King, 5, 8

  Henry VIII., King, 9, 21, 24, 25, 27

  _Hercule_, 213

  _Heron_, 241

  _Hippomenes_, 341

  _Hirondelle_, 234

  Hodgson, Captain, 360-362

  Hood, Commodore, 349

  Hope, Captain Henry, 324

  Hopkins, Samuel, 44

  Horn, Cape, 35, 37, 53, 80

  Hotham, Captain Henry, 264

  Howard, Lord Charles, 26

  Howard, Lord Edward, 22, 24

  Howard, Thomas, Earl of Surrey, 22

  Howard, Lord Thomas, 22, 23, 26

  Hull, 9

  _Hussar_, 111

  Hutchinson, William, 128, 134, 145-148

  _Hyder Ali_, 299-303;
    conflicting accounts of action, 303


  _Immortalité_ (British), 263, 264

  _Invention_, 263-266

  Iquique (South America), 83

  _Isis_, 140

  Isle Grande (Brazil), 52, 53

  Isle de Rhé, 95 _n._, 96

  Isle of Wight, 149


  Jamaica, 13, 97, 118, 120

  James II., King, 212

  James III., of Scotland, 19, 20

  James IV., of Scotland, 19, 20, 25

  _Jane_, 257

  _Jason_, 226, 228

  _Jean Bart_, 246

  Jenkins, Sir Leoline, 11, 365

  _Jenny Pirwin_, 22, 24, 27

  _Jersey_, 140

  _Jersey_, prison ship at New York, 281

  _Jesu Maria_, 90

  _Jeune Richard_, 354-357

  "John Crow" bird, 62

  Jones, Paul, 13

  Jonquière, M. de la, 80

  Juan Fernandez, Island of, 37, 39, 40, 54, 55, 60, 66, 74, 82, 83,
  87, 88, 89, 90


  Katharine of Aragon, Queen, 27

  _Kent_, 258-260

  _King David_, 201

  _King George_, 177, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 185, 186

  _King George_ (of Rhode Island), 275, 276, 277

  King's Road, Bristol, 169

  Kinsale, 37, 150, 192

  Knights of St. John, 129


  Ladrone Islands, 71

  Lagos (Portugal), 6, 179

  Lambert, Captain de, 235

  Lanoix, a Huguenot seaman, 198-200

  _Lansdowne_, 257

  _Lark_, 140

  La Rochelle, 261

  Laughton, Sir John, 181

  _Le Fevre_, 362-364

  Leghorn, 127, 133, 134, 135, 137, 139, 140, 141

  Le Mair, Strait of (South America), 80

  _Lenore_, 224

  Leslie, Bishop John, Scottish historian, 20, 22, 24, 27

  Leslie, R.C., 72

  Letters of marque;
    abuse of term, 4;
    instance in 1295, 6;
    may be issued in time of peace, 8

  Lima, 61, 62, 76, 83, 335

  _Limeno_, 336

  Limerick, 211

  _Lion_ (Andrew Barton's ship), 22, 23, 27

  _Lion_, British man-of-war, 195, 196

  Lisbon, 6, 7, 98, 100, 178, 186, 311

  Liverpool, 12, 111, 112, 124

  Liverpool (Nova Scotia), 336, 337, 340

  _Liverpool_, 146

  Lloyd, Captain Robert, 318, 320, 321

  Lobos, Island of, 61, 89

  L'Orient, 104, 243

  _Louis Erasmé_, 150

  Louis XIV., King of France, 47

  Louis XVI., King of France, 246

  _Lowestoft_, 134

  Lucca, 125, 127

  Lundy Island, 213

  Lutwidge, Captain Skeffington, 289;
    his log and letter about American prisoners, etc., 295, 296


  Maclay, Mr. E.S., American naval writer, 270, 271, 272, 280, 284, 286,
  287, 290, 292, 293, 297, 299, 305, 313, 314, 321, 322

  Madagascar, 103

  Madeira, 99, 171, 337

  Madison, John, President of United States, 325

  Madrid, 102, 105

  Magee, W., 87

  Magellan, Strait of, 87

  Mahon (Corsica), 238

  Majorca, Island of, 357 _n._

  Malaga, 208, 209

  Malartic, General, Governor of Mauritius, 258

  _Malartic_, 258

  Malo, M. Henri, 207, 262

  Malta, 129, 130, 136, 140, 142, 143, 233, 357

  Mann, Sir Horace, 125, 127, 138, 141

  _Manship_, 257

  Marcare, meaning of, 7 _n._

  _Maria Theresa_, 99

  _Marquis_, 69

  _Marquis d'Antin_, 150

  Marryat, Captain Frederick (the novelist), 262

  _Mars_, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 164, 165

  _Mars_ (French), 205

  Marseilles, 115, 130, 132, 137, 138, 233

  Martens, Von, 11

  Mason, Captain, 300

  Mauritius, Island of, 242, 243, 245, 246, 247, 249, 251, 255

  Maxey, Lieutenant, 307

  Maximilian, Emperor, 19

  McBride, Captain, 195

  McKenzie, Captain Kenneth, 341, 342

  _Mentor_, 111-115

  _Mercury_, 81, 86

  Mersey, River, 114

  Messina, 129

  Midshipman Easy, 185, 198

  Miller, Captain, 140

  Mill Prison, Plymouth, 289;
    diet, etc., of American prisoners in, 293

  Mill Prison, Barney's escape from, 293-295;
    a very slack prison, 296, 298

  _Monk_, 215, 216

  Montserrat (West Indies), 239

  Moor, Captain Edward, 115-117

  Morecock, Captain, 149

  Morocco, 177

  Mostyn, Captain Savage, 161, 162

  Mount-Edgecumbe, Lord, 297, 304

  Mozambique, 242

  Munroe, Captain, 278, 279


  _Nancy_, 116

  Nantes, 229, 239

  Nantucket, 324

  Naples, 132

  _Naval Chronicle, The_, 265

  _Navigator_, 243

  Navy Board, The, 265

  Nelson, Lord, 12, 51

  _Neptune_, 159

  _Neptune_ (Dutch), 202-204

  Newcastle, 9

  Newfoundland, Banks of, 115, 149

  New York, 274, 281, 285, 286, 289, 290 _n._, 307

  Nicolas, Sir Harris, 7 _n._

  _Nonsuch_ (alias _Sanspareil_), 220-224, 226

  Norman, Mr. C.B., 200, 217, 233 _n._, 235, 238

  _Notre Dame de Deliverance_, 150

  Nova Scotia, 336


  Oléron, Judgments of, 198, 199, 200

  Onslow, Captain, 290

  Oppenheim, Mr. M., 29

  Oran, 142

  Orissa (India), 252

  Orotava (Teneriffe), 47

  Osborn, Captain, 246

  Ostend, 75, 76

  Oughton, Captain (in Marryatt's novel), 262


  Packets, description of, 329

  Page, Mr., 51, 52

  Painpeny, French captain, 352

  _Palme_, 202, 204

  Panama, 62, 63

  Panama, Gulf of, 35

  _Parfait_, 235, 236

  Paris, Declaration of, 364

  Parker, Admiral Sir Hyde, 51

  Parker, John, 44

  Parnell, Captain, 165

  Payta, 84

  _Pembroke_, 235-238

  _Penelope_, 342, 343, 344, 347, 348, 349, 350, 352

  _Peregrine_, 86

  Pernambuco, 308

  Peru, 61, 68, 69, 89, 334

  Philadelphia, 299

  Phillips, Lieutenant Baker, 193;
    his tragic end, 194, 195

  Phillips, Captain, 95, 96

  _Phoenix_, 235, 236

  Pickering, Captain, 37

  Piece of Eight, The value of, 67

  Pirates, 1;
    confused with privateers, 1, 14, 72;
    Flemish, 20, 21;
    Mediterranean, 153

  Pitt, Mr. William, Minister, 103, 105

  _Plantagenet_, 318, 321, 323

  Plymouth, 76, 106, 216, 264, 296, 297

  _Pomona_, 282-284;
    inaccurate accounts of her capture, 285, 286, 287, 290

  Pondicherry, 242

  Port Louis, Mauritius, 256

  Port Royal, Jamaica, 120

  Portsmouth, 99, 195

  Portugal, King of, 6, 7 _n._, 8

  Portuguese mate; his hatred of Surcouf, 244, 245

  "Pretty shop-girl," Du Guay Trouin's friend, 216-219

  Powell, Commodore, 74

  _Prince de Neufchatel_, 324

  _Prince Edward_, 178, 179

  _Prince Eugene_, 75

  _Prince Frederick_, 149, 177, 179, 180, 183, 184, 185

  _Prince George_ (Jas. Talbot's ship), 149

  _Prince George_ (Geo. Walker's tender), 178, 179

  _Prince of Orange_, 214, 217

  _Princess Amelia_, 177, 178, 179

  _Princess Royal_ (Admiral Byron's flagship), 290 _n._

  _Princess Royal_ packet, 330-333

  Prisoners of war, alleged cruel treatment of American, 271, 287-289

  Privateering, origin of, 4, 5;
    only applicable to a state of war, 6;
    value of, 9;
    when fully recognised, 9;
    success in 16th century, 9;
    drawbacks of, 10, 11, 12;
    against Spanish treasure-ships in South Seas, 35;
    French men-of-war lent for, 192;
    future of, 364, 365

  Privateers, number employed in French and American wars, 10;
    Scotch, 11;
    some fine men among commanders, 12;
    diversity of opinion about, 11, 12, 269, 270, 271, 273;
    exaggerated accounts of actions by, 271;
    an American, and Welsh prize, 271, 272;
    humanity of American, 272, 273;
    exploits of two colonial, 333-340

  Private vessels employed as men-of-war, 5

  _Profound_, 213

  _Prudente_, 246

  Puna, Island of (South America), 63, 64, 66, 68, 335


  Quakers, 41, 43

  Quebec, 300

  Querangal, Lieutenant François de, 103

  Quibo, Island of, 90


  Ranc, Captain (Dutch), 204

  Rangoon, 250

  Ransoming prizes forbidden, 202, 233

  Reid, Captain Samuel C., 317, 318, 319, 321, 322

  Rennes, 209

  _Revenant_ (the _Ghost_), Surcouf's last ship, 261

  Rhode Island, 275, 281

  Richardson, Captain, 349

  Riddle, Mr., 178

  Rio Janeiro, 52, 256

  Robertson, Mr., 357, 360

  Robinson Crusoe, 40, 57

  Robinson, Captain Isaiah, 282-286

  _Robuste_, 281

  Rochefort, 219

  Rodney, Admiral Lord, 287

  _Roebuck_, 36, 37

  Rogers, John, 45, 63

  Rogers, Com. Josias, 299, 300, 301, 303

  Rogers, Acting Captain W. (of _Windsor Castle_ packet), 354-357

  Rogers, Woodes;
    wrongly alluded to as a pirate, 14, 72;
    his birth and parentage, 41;
    proposes expedition to South Seas, 41;
    some Quakers among his owners, 41;
    his lucid account of his voyage, 42;
    sails in _Duke_ with _Duchess_, 42;
    puts into Cork, 42;
    constitution of council, 43;
    staff of the two ships, 43, 44;
    Dampier sailing master, 44;
    mixed crews, 45;
    "continually marrying," 45, 46;
    condition of the ships, 46;
    sails for Madeira, 46;
    refuses demand of crew, who mutiny, 46;
    "breaking unlawful friendships," 47;
    captures Spanish vessel off Teneriffe, 47;
    his amenities with his prisoners, 47;
    dispute about his prize, 48;
    crossing the Tropic, 48, 49;
    his rules about plunder, 49;
    loses his linguist at St. Vincent, 50;
    frequent exchange of visits at sea, 50, 51;
    more mutiny; his firmness, 51, 52;
    he has prayers read daily, 52;
    refits ships at Isle Grande, 52, 53;
    "logs" Mr. Carleton Vanbrugh, and sends him to _Duchess_, 53;
    celebrates New Year's Day, 53;
    a mishap to _Duchess_, 54;
    goes far South, and doubles Cape Horn, 54;
    arrives off Juan Fernandez, 55;
    finds Alexander Selkirk and makes him a mate, 56-59;
    leaves Juan Fernandez, 60;
    Vanbrugh received on board again, 60;
    more rules about plunder, 60, 61;
    converts two small prizes to his own uses, 61, 62;
    Vanbrugh again in trouble, 62;
    captures two prizes; his brother killed in action, 63;
    arrives in Gulf of Guayaquil, 63;
    captures Governor of Puna, 63;
    disquieting news, 64;
    sends boats to attack Guayaquil, 64;
    finds people alert, 65;
    cautious counsels, 65;
    lands and attacks successfully, 66;
    disappointed of treasure, 66;
    the "modesty" of his crew, 67;
    agrees upon ransom, 67;
    returns on board, 68;
    leaves Guayaquil, 68;
    sickness and lack of water, 69;
    trouble over plunder, 69, 70;
    trials of a privateer captain, 70;
    captures a rich Manila ship, and loses another, 71;
    is severely wounded, 71;
    dispute about Dr. Dover, 72;
    returns home by way of the East Indies, 72;
    is made Governor of the Bahamas, 72;
    his death, 72;
    other references, 75, 76, 77, 80, 88

  Roosevelt, Mr. Theodore (late President United States), 270

  _Rosario_, 88, 89

  _Rosebud_, 285

  _Rota_, 318, 321

  _Rover_, 336, 337

  _Royale_, 201, 202

  "Royal Family" privateers, 177, 178, 185

  Rumsey, Captain Edward, 235-238

  _Russell_, 183, 185, 186

  Russo-Japanese War, 28


  Safia, 177

  Sailing ships, American and British, 325

  _Saint Aaron_, 212

  St. Antonio (Cape Verde Islands), 50

  St. Catherine, Island of (Brazil), 80

  St. Denis (Isle of Bourbon), 247

  St. Domingo (West Indies), 229

  St. Eustatia (West Indies), 239

  _St. Fermin_, 82

  _St. Francisco_, 28-32

  _St. George_ (Dampier's ship), 37, 83

  _St. George_ (Wright's ship), 135, 136, 138, 141

  St. Iago (Cape Verde Islands), 239

  St. Ives, 176

  _St. Jacques des Victoires_, 224, 225

  St. Malo, 106, 150, 210, 211, 212, 219, 224, 231, 239, 255, 261

  St. Martin's Road (Isle de Rhé), 95

  _St. Mary_, 6

  St. Mary, Island of (Madagascar), 103

  St. Paul's Bay (Isle of Bourbon), 247

  St. Pol, M. de (French mate), 242

  _St. Peter_, 28-32

  St. Vincent, Cape, 182

  _St. William_, 231, 232

  Sandy Hook, 278, 281

  _Sanspareil_ (_alias Nonsuch_), 220-224, 226

  _Santa Anna Gratia_, 119

  _Santa Familia_, 91, 92

  _Santa Rita_, 339

  _Saratoga_ (American man-of-war), 290

  _Saratoga_ (American privateer), ridiculous story about, 278, 279

  Sardinia, 141

  Sauret, Antoine, 197, 198, 199, 201

  Scarborough, 9

  Schomberg, Captain (Naval chronicler), 237

  Scilly Isles, 214, 228

  Scottish Rebellion of '45, 151

  Selcraig (original name of Selkirk), 74

  Selim, a young Turk, 142-144

  Selkirk, Alexander;
    sailing master in _Cinque Ports_, 38;
    been with buccaneers, 39;
    his hatred of Captain Stradling, 39;
    determines to desert at Juan Fernandez, 39;
    he is landed there, 39;
    the prototype of Robinson Crusoe, 40;
    is rescued by Woodes Rogers, 56;
    describes his adventures, 57, 58;
    is reluctant to sail with Dampier, 58, 59;
    made a mate on board _Duke_, 59;
    returns to Scotland, but laments his island, 73;
    elopes with Sophia Bruce, 74;
    marries Mrs. Candis, 74;
    dies in the Royal Navy, 74;
    other references, 62, 66

  Semmes, Captain Raphael (of the _Alabama_), 13

  _Serieux_, 233, 235-237

  Seychelles Islands, 249, 250

  Shannon, River, 211

  _Sheerness_, 165-167

  Shelvocke, George;
    commands two privateers under a foreign commission, 75;
    goes to Ostend, 75;
    commissions altered to English, 76;
    commands _Speedwell_ under Clipperton in _Success_, 76;
    his hatred of Clipperton, 76;
    sails from Plymouth, 76;
    they separate in a gale, 77;
    he robs a Portuguese ship, 77-80;
    alleged mutiny, 80;
    runs far south, 80;
    his officer shoots an albatross, 81;
    Coleridge's albatross, 81;
    rounds Cape Horn and sights Chili, 81;
    lingers on the coast, 81;
    captures two small prizes, 81;
    his men are ambushed, 82;
    burns a prize, 82;
    sails for Juan Fernandez, 82;
    finds there record of Clipperton, 82;
    his disingenuousness, 83;
    takes two guano ships, 83;
    fires the town of Payta, 84;
    action with a large Spanish ship, 84-86;
    his officer's account of the action, 86, 87;
    is wrecked on Juan Fernandez, 89;
    builds a small ship, captures and exchanges into a prize, 90;
    unpleasant meeting with Clipperton, 90;
    they part on bad terms, 91;
    exchanges into another prize, 91;
    Spanish Governor announces peace, and demands return of prize, 91;
    he disregards, and quits, 91;
    in difficulties, contemplates surrender, but eventually sails for
    China in another prize, 91;
    his suspicious conduct at Whampoa, 92;
    returns home in an Indiaman, and is arrested for piracy, 92;
    proofs failing, is imprisoned for fraud, 92;
    escapes and leaves England, 92;
    writes an account of his voyage, 92;
    his officer writes a very different one, 92

  _Sherdam_, 204

  _Sibylle_ (British frigate), 256

  Skinner, Captain John, 330-332

  Slave Trade, English, 12, 13

  Slave Trade, French, 242, 243, 247, 248

  Smith, Captain Matthew, 246

  Smith, William, 97

  Smollett, Tobias, historian, 124

  Smyrna, 234

  _Solebay_, 95, 96

  Somerville, Captain Philip, 318

  Sonson (Sumatra), 256

  Spanish Succession, War of, 47

  Spanish treasure-ships, 35

  _Speedwell_, 75, 76, 81, 84-87, 90

  _Staremberg_, 75

  _Stendard_, 234

  Stradling, Captain, 37, 39, 40, 61

  Stretton, Mr., 72

  Stuart, Charles Edward (the young Pretender), 195

  _Success_, 75, 78, 82, 88

  Sumatra, 250, 256

  _Sunderland_, 161

  Surcouf, Nicholas (brother of Robert), 255

  Surcouf, Robert, famous French privateer captain;
    his origin, 240;
    destined for the Church, 240;
    sent to a seminary, 240;
    resents chastisement, and runs away, 241;
    ships on a brig, 241;
    volunteer on _Aurora_, 241;
    behaves well in a storm, 242;
    wreck of the slave ship, 242;
    his zeal and courage afterwards, 243;
    returns home, 243;
    back to Indian seas, 243;
    mate in a trading vessel, 243;
    enmity of the chief officer, 244;
    nearly dies in a fit, 244;
    episode at death-bed of chief officer, 245;
    joins a colonial war-ship, 245;
    in an action with English war-ships, 246;
    is commended, 247;
    commands a slave brig, 247;
    episode with the Health Committee, 247-249;
    offered command of a privateer, 249;
    commission refused, 249;
    sails as an armed trader, 249;
    narrowly escapes capture, 250;
    determines to act as a privateer, 250;
    captures several ships, and exchanges into one, 250, 251;
    captures the _Triton_ Indiaman, 252-254;
    his brig is captured, 255;
    arrives at Mauritius and finds his actions condemned, 255;
    he appeals home successfully, and pockets his unlawful gains, 255;
    becomes engaged to Marie Blaize, 255;
    goes to sea again, makes a prize, and arrives at Mauritius, 256;
    narrow escape from an English frigate, 256;
    captures an American ship, 257;
    the Governor prevents him from fighting a duel, 258;
    his capture of the _Kent_ East Indiaman, 258-260;
    returns home and is married, 261;
    his last ship, the _Ghost_, 261;
    complaint of merchants and East India company, 261;
    settles down at St. Malo;
    his death, 261;
    other references, 207, 262

  Surcouf, Robert (great-nephew and biographer of the privateersman),
  248, 251, 252, 256, 258

  Syracuse, 234, 235


  Talbot, Captain James, 149, 150, 151

  Talbot, Captain (or Colonel) Silas; his birth, 274;
    ships as cabin-boy, 274;
    captain in U.S. army, 274;
    commands a fireship, 274;
    captures an English vessel at Rhode Island, 275;
    commands the _Argo_, a small privateer, 275;
    captures a Rhode Island privateer, 276;
    action with the _Dragon_ and marvellous escapes, 277;
    in company with _Saratoga_ captures a Dublin privateer, 278;
    ridiculous story, 278, 279;
    encounters an honest Scotchman, and takes his ship, 280;
    commands _General Washington_, but is soon captured, 280;
    his alleged ungenerous treatment by a "Scotch lord," 281;
    imprisoned at New York, 281;
    sent to England and imprisoned at Dartmoor, 281;
    vainly attempts to escape, is eventually liberated and returns to
    America, 281;
    his death, 281

  Taylor, Captain, 165

  Tea, recipe for making at sea, 148

  _Teméraire_, 234

  Teneriffe, 47

  _Terrible_, 106-111

  _Thetis_, 342, 343, 344, 347, 348, 350, 351, 352

  Thibaut, Captain, 264, 265

  _Three Sisters_, 362-364

  Thurot, Émile, successful French privateer captain, 262

  _Times, The_, strong comment on American successes by, 324

  _Topaze_, 74

  Torrington, Mr. (an "Antigallican"), 97

  Toulon, 238

  Toulouse, 234, 235

  Trinidad, Island of (off Brazil coast), 52

  _Trinity_, 88

  _Triton_, 251-255, 256, 257

  Trouin, Luc (father of René Du Guay), 208, 209

  Trouin, René, uncle of René Du Guay, 208, 209

  Trouin, René Du Guay, famous French privateer captain;
    his origin, 208;
    destined for the Church, 209;
    sent to a seminary, 209;
    elects to study law, 209;
    but learns nothing except fencing, 209;
    dissipating in Paris, encounters the head of the family, 209;
    his family sends him to sea in a privateer, 209;
    distinguishes himself in action, 210;
    takes part in capture of convoy, 211;
    takes command of a privateer at eighteen, 211;
    pillages in Ireland, 211;
    gets a better ship, 212;
    with a consort captures a convoy and two English sloops-of-war, 212;
    escapes at great risk from an English squadron, 212;
    his skilful navigation, 212, 213;
    narrow escape in Bristol Channel, 213;
    has some bad luck, 213;
    sickness, short food, and mutiny, 213;
    his dream comes true, 214;
    sails round the _Prince of Orange_, 214;
    fires at her under English colours, 214;
    chased by six men-of-war, 214;
    his desperate scheme, 215;
    holds out, though surrounded, 216;
    his crew shirk and fire breaks out, 216;
    brings his men up with grenades, 216;
    is badly wounded and surrenders, 216;
    kindness of the English captain, 216;
    on parole at Plymouth, 216;
    his "pretty shop-girl," 217;
    is recognised by captain of _Prince of Orange_, who denounces him
    as a pirate, 218;
    imprisoned pending decision, 218;
    allowed to receive friends, pretty shop-girl included, 218;
    plans escape with her assistance, 218, 219;
    a love-sick young Frenchman, 219;
    buys a boat from a Swede and is completely successful, 219;
    returns to France, and finds a ship ready for him, 219;
    captures two large English ships, 220, 221;
    his king presents him with a sword of honour, 221;
    with a consort captures three Indiamen, cargoes valued at one million
    sterling, 222;
    commands one of his prizes, and captures two Dutch ships off Vigo, 222;
    falls in with English fleet, 222;
    his bold and successful ruse, 222, 223;
    his ill-treatment by a French naval aristocrat, 224;
    with four consorts engages three Dutch war-ships with convoy, 224;
    desperate action with Dutch commodore's ship, 224, 225;
    gallantry of the commodore, 225;
    he captures all three, with heavy loss on both sides, 225;
    an anxious night, 225;
    he brings in his prizes, 226;
    is made a commander in the navy, 226;
    his marvellous escape from an English squadron, 226-228;
    his death, 228;
    other references, 229, 239, 240

  Tuckerman, H.T. (biographer of Silas Talbot), 281

  Turkey Company, The, 132, 133

  Twiss, Sir Travers, 15


  Underwood, George, 44

  _Univers_, 116


  Valbué, Jerome, 197, 198, 199

  Vanbrugh, Mr. Carleton, 48, 53, 62, 70

  _Vengeance_, 106, 109, 111

  Vernon, Admiral, 11

  _Vestale_, 234

  Vigo, 222

  Vigor, John, 44

  Villeneuve, M.E. de, 103

  _Virginia_, 290


  Walker, George, a great English privateer captain;
    eulogised by naval historian, 152;
    enthusiasm of his biographer, 152, 153;
    his modesty, 153;
    served in Dutch navy, 153;
    commands _Duke William_, 154;
    frightens a Spanish privateer by a ruse, 154;
    clears Carolina coast of Spanish privateers, 155;
    sails for England with three traders, 155;
    in peril in storm, 155;
    intervenes from sick bed to save ship, 155, 156;
    his ruse to obtain assistance, 156;
    arrives in England to find that he is ruined, 156;
    trades to the Baltic, 156;
    again escapes capture by a ruse, 156;
    sails in _Mars_ with _Boscawen_, 157;
    fights a French war-ship, 157;
    "prudence" of _Boscawen's_ captain, 157;
    falls in with two French treasure-ships, 157;
    _Boscawen_ runs away, 158;
    surrenders _Mars_ to two French ships, 159;
    French and English politeness, 159;
    unusual projectiles, 160;
    four English war-ships give chase, 160;
    _Mars_ recaptured, 161;
    incapacity of English captains, 161, 162;
    arrives at Brest and is liberated on parole, 162, 163;
    _Fleuron_ is blown up, 163;
    his tact and courage, 164;
    arrives in England, 164;
    commands _Boscawen_ with _Mars_ in company, 164;
    _Boscawen_ a "slopped" ship, 165;
    outwits an Exeter privateer captain, 165;
    sails and meets _Sheerness_, 166;
    sights eight armed French ships, 166;
    his admirable speech to his officers, 166;
    sinks one and captures six, 167;
    his device for protection of his men, 168;
    rigs out an old lady prisoner, 168;
    her tragic account of the action, 168, 169;
    acknowledgment of his services by Admiralty, 169;
    captures and buys a vessel as tender, 169;
    his dealings with mutineers, 169, 170;
    a foolish joke, 171;
    his perilous voyage home and heroic conduct, 173-176;
    wrecked in St. Ives, crew saved, 176;
    his owner's eulogy, 176;
    commands the "Royal Family" privateers, 177;
    loses one ship, 177;
    chased by French, escapes; one ship parts, 177;
    cuts out a French ship at Safia, 177;
    his dealings with his officers, 178;
    makes a tender of his prize, 178;
    puts into Lisbon with much gain and no loss of men, 178;
    buys a ship at Lisbon, 178;
    but loses her by an extraordinary accident, 179;
    chases and engages a 74-gun Spanish ship alone, 180;
    an extraordinary engagement, 180-182;
    Spaniards' poor gunnery, 182;
    his courage and self-possession, 182;
    Spaniard desists and retires, 183;
    _Russell_ joins in chase, 183;
    _Dartmouth_ joins and is blown up, 184, 185;
    Lieut. O'Brien's apology, 185;
    Spaniard captured, but treasure already landed, 186;
    ungenerous conduct of his owners, 186;
    deprived of his ship, 186;
    goes home in packet, 186;
    saves her from a pirate, 187;
    is imprisoned for debt, 187;
    his integrity, 187;
    his death, 187;
    other references, 96, 116, 117, 194, 280

  Waller, Edmund, the poet, 153

  Walpole, Horace, 125

  Wapping, 46

  Warren, Captain, 216

  Warren, Sir Peter, 98

  _Warwick_, 98

  Wassenaer, Baron de, 225

  Welbe, George, 38

  Welch, an Irish captain of a French privateer, 212

  Wentworth, Sir John (Governor of Nova Scotia), 337

  Weymouth, 164

  _Weymouth_, 74

  Whampoa, 91

  White, Captain William, 334, 336

  _Whiting_, 307

  Whittaker, Admiral Sir Edward, 238

  Whyte, Captain Thomas, 28-32

  Williamson, Secretary, 11

  Wilson, Captain William, 323

  Winchester, Bishop of, 24, 25

  _Windsor Castle_ packet, 354-357

  _Worcester_, 226, 228

  Wordsworth, William, the poet, 81

  Wright, Fortunatus, a great English privateer captain;
    his father, 123;
    his epitaph, 124;
    allusion by Smollett, 124;
    settles in Liverpool, 125;
    retires and lives abroad, 125;
    his adventures at Lucca, 125-127;
    settles at Leghorn, 127;
    war with France, 127;
    depredations of French privateers, 127;
    commands the _Fame_ privateer, 127, 128;
    his plan of cruising, 128, 129;
    captures a large French privateer, 129;
    his success causes bitter feeling against him at Malta, 129, 130;
    a vessel specially fitted out to take him, 130;
    captures and brings her into Malta, 131;
    his sense of humour, 131;
    captures a ship under safe-conduct from George II., 132;
    submits to the Admiral's judgment and restores her, 132;
    seizes two French ships with Turkish cargoes, 133;
    action of the Turkey Company, 133;
    refuses to refund prize-money, 133;
    imprisoned in Italy, 133, 134;
    gives bail to answer the charge, 134;
    emerges triumphant--his dignified reply, 134;
    engages in commerce with William Hutchinson, 134;
    war being imminent, builds a vessel at Leghorn, 135;
    vigilance of Italian authorities, 135, 136;
    his plan to outwit them, 136;
    rewards offered for his capture, 137;
    fights a large French privateer sent out to waylay him, 137-139;
    disables her and returns with convoy to Leghorn, 139;
    is detained there by force, 139;
    liberated by two English war-ships, 140;
    his unfair treatment at Malta, 140;
    sails round a big French privateer, 140;
    refused admission to Leghorn, 141;
    unaccountably disappears, 141;
    suggestion of political intrigue, 141;
    the romantic story of Selim and Zaida, 142-144;
    "unhappily exiled" from England, 144;
    other references, 117, 152


  _Yarmouth_, 281;
    treatment of American prisoners on board, 287-289

  York, Bishop of, 24


  Zaida, a Moorish maiden, 142-144

  _Zephyr_, 116


_Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury._





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Privateers and Privateering" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
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.



Home