Le Maire was a person of determination, and having considered among his friends who was most likely to assist him, fixed upon William Cornelison Schouten, of Horn, an experienced master-mariner, who had already made three voyages to the Indies, as supercargo, pilot, and master. Le Maire first asked him whether he thought it possible that some other passage, besides that of the Straits of Magellan, might be found to the South Sea, and if so whether the countries to the south of that passage would afford commodities as rich as those of the East or West Indies.
Schouten replied that such a passage might be found, and also that there might be many wealthy countries to the westward of the straits.
Believing that the East India Company's charter could not prohibit Dutch subjects from trading with countries to be reached by a new route, they came to the determination of at once fitting out some fleet vessels to make the experiment.
Le Maire advanced half of the funds, and Schouten, with the assistance of Peter Clementson, burgomaster of Horn, and other friends, advanced the remainder. It is probable that they might have heard from some English pilots who were in the service of the United Provinces, that Drake had discovered an open sea to the south of Terra del Fuego. They did not openly avow their object, but they succeeded in obtaining from the Government the privilege of making the first four voyages to the places they might discover. Their destination, however, was not disclosed to the seamen. The other merchants, unable to penetrate their designs, derisively called them: "gold-seekers."
Schouten was to have command of the expedition, and to sail in the larger ship, and Jacques Le Maire, the eldest son of Isaac, was to be supercargo. They at once commenced fitting out two vessels for the voyage, the largest, the Eendracht, or in English the Unity, was of three hundred and sixty tons, carried nineteen guns and twelve swivels, and a crew of sixty-five men, and had on board two pinnaces, one for sailing and another for rowing, a launch, and a small boat. The smaller vessel was named the Horn, of one hundred and ten tons, carrying eight guns and four swivels. Her crew consisted of twenty-two men. She was commanded by Jan Schouten, and Aris Clawson was her supercargo.
The two vessels sailed from the Texel on the 14th of June, and called off Dover, where an experienced English gunner was engaged. Experiencing a heavy storm, they took shelter under the Isle of Wight, and on the 27th put into Plymouth, where a carpenter, Maydenblick, was engaged.
Sailing thence on the 28th of June, with fine weather and a fair breeze, they proceeded on their voyage. The strictest rules were laid down for the government of officers and men. When a boat went on shore where any hostility was to be expected, one of the commanders was always to be in charge. The supercargo was to have the exclusive management of all commercial dealings. The officers were warned against holding conversations with the men in regard to the objects of the voyage; and while they were to be strict in the execution of their duty, they were not to subject the crews to unnecessary toil.
Touching at various places, they cast anchor off Sierra Leone on the 30th of August. The village at that time consisted only of eight or nine poor thatched huts. The native inhabitants declined to come off until a hostage was left for their security, because a French ship had lately perfidiously carried off two of their number. The water which poured down from every hill was to be had in abundance, and the casks could be filled by placing them under the falls. Lemons were so cheap that ten thousand could have been obtained for a few knives. Each man purchased one hundred and fifty for sea store.
After leaving Sierra Leone, as they were gliding over the smooth sea, a sudden shock was felt on board the Horn, as if she had struck on a rock, and, as the crew looked over her side, they saw the water change to a crimson hue. The cause was not known until the ship was afterwards laid on shore, when a large horn, of a substance resembling ivory, was found sticking into her bottom, it having pierced through three stout planks. The Line was crossed on the 25th of October, after which Captain Schouten informed the ships' companies of the object of the voyage. At this they exhibited their satisfaction, hoping to discover some gold countries, to make amends for their toils.
On the 3rd of November they were off the island of Ascension or Martin Vaz. Standing on, they came in sight on the 6th of December of the mainland of South America. It was of no great height, and had a white appearance. The same night they dropped anchor in ten fathoms, at a short distance from Port Desire. Next morning, standing on to the southward, they saw before them a line of cliffs, which they understood marked the entrance to the channel. They, however, found that they had got into a wrong one, and the Unity ran aground by the stern, but the wind blowing from off the land, she got clear again. Next morning, a boat being sent ahead to sound the channel, which was found to be twelve fathoms deep, they entered boldly, having a north-east wind to carry them along. After they had sailed about three miles, however, the wind began to veer, and they brought up in twenty fathoms, but the bottom being composed of slippery stones, and the wind blowing hard from the north-west, they dragged their anchors, and drifted down towards the cliffs, where there appeared every probability that they both would be lost. The Unity lay with her side against the cliffs, though still afloat, while the Horn stuck so fast that, as the tide fell, she remained high and dry. For some time a strong wind blowing from the north-west kept her upright, but as it dropped she sank over, until her bulwarks were under water. On seeing this, as it was impossible to right her, the explorers gave up all hopes of saving her; but, the weather remaining calm, the succeeding flood set her upright again, and she and the Unity, hauling out of their dangerous position, stood farther up the river.
Here they again dropped anchor off King's Island. On landing they found it so thickly covered with the nests of penguins, each of which contained three or four eggs—that a man might have taken fifty or sixty without moving his position. They here also saw emus and deer with extremely long necks. While wandering over the hills they came upon several heaps of stones, beneath which they discovered bones, as they supposed of persons ten and eleven feet along. Plenty of good fish and fowls were obtained, but no water could be found for some days.
On the 17th of December they laid the Unity ashore in order to clean her bottom, and the following day the Horn was hauled up for the same purpose, at a distance of about two hundred yards from her consort. It was providential that she was thus far. It being necessary to soften the old pitch off her bottom, to which barnacles and mud were sticking, they lighted a fire beneath her bottom. As they were in a hurry to perform the operation, they threw on more sticks and reeds, scattering the fire along her whole length. While they were working away with their iron scrapers, suddenly they saw fire bursting out through her ports. How this had happened they could not tell. There was no fresh water at hand, and as the tide had fallen, leaving her fully fifty feet from the margin of the river, they had to run all that distance with buckets, or whatever else they could lay hold of, to bring up water to extinguish the flames. Before a sufficient quantity could be brought the fire had got a complete hold of the vessel. In vain they dashed the water over her, the flames rapidly spread from stem to stern, and, at length, seeing that all their efforts were useless, they had to stand by and watch her burning, a small portion only of her stores and provisions having been saved. In a short time the poor Horn became a mere heap of ashes.
On the 20th they launched the Unity, and the next day carried on board all the ironwork, anchors, guns, and whatever else they had been able to save from the unfortunate Horn. While hunting about for water, without which they could not venture to sea, they found on the 25th some holes full of it. Though it was white and muddy, it was well tasting, and they accordingly carried on board a large quantity in casks on men's shoulders.
Near this place they discovered a number of sea-lions, the young of which they found very good to eat; but the creatures were so fierce that they could only be killed by musket-shots. On the 13th of January, 1616, they left Port Desire, and on the 18th sighted the Falkland Islands.
Holding their course south by west, they saw land bearing west and west-south-west from them, and shortly afterwards other land to the south. The wind blowing strong, they were compelled to take in sail. The next morning they saw land to starboard at the distance of about a league, consisting of high snow-covered hills. Then they saw other land bearing east from the former, also high and rugged. As these two lands were about eight leagues apart, and as there was a strong current running to the southward in the direction of the opening, they guessed that there might be a free passage between them.
They had good reason to hope that this might be the one they were in search of, leading into the South Sea. They accordingly steered for it, but the wind falling, they were compelled to restrain their eagerness. Here, as they were gliding on, they saw prodigious multitudes of penguins and also whales in such vast schools that they had to steer with caution lest, by running against them, the monsters should injure the ship. On the 25th they got close up to the north shore of the eastern land they had seen, to which they gave the name of Staten Land, in honour of the States of Holland.
The wind being favourable, they now stood through the Straits. On both sides they observed sandy bays and good roadsteads, but the shores were bare of trees and shrubs. There were, however, abundance of fish, porpoises, penguins, and other birds. To the land on the starboard side they gave the name of Maurice Land, being a part of Terra del Fuego. The wind being north, they stood briskly on, steering west-south-west, but again shifting to south-west, they were compelled to steer south.
They now met with long high waves, which rolled on in slow succession, while the water appeared to be unusually blue, evident signs, as they considered, that the great South Sea was before them, and that they had made their way into it by a passage of their own discovering. Numbers of seamews, or rather of albatrosses, larger than swans, their wings when extended measuring six feet from tip to tip, came circling round the ship, and even alighted on board, being so tame as to allow themselves to be taken by the hand without even attempting to escape. The wind was generally favourable, but with storms of rain and snow, the sea running very high. As they steered south-west they saw land to the north-west and north-north-west, the lofty snow-capped mountains of Terra del Fuego. At length they came off a sharp point, the most southern extremity of that land, to which they gave the name of Cape Horn, in compliment to the port from which they had sailed.
Theirs were the first human eyes probably which had ever closely viewed that now well-known promontory, although Drake may possibly have seen it at a distance when scudding before the gale which drove the sorely-battered Golden Hind out of her course.
Having kept a bright look-out in all directions, and having seen no land to the southward, they were now thoroughly convinced that they had doubled the extreme end of the continent of South America, or rather of the islands which lie off it.
Altering their course to the northward, they, on the 12th of February, had attained the parallel of the western end of the Straits of Magellan, and returning thanks to Heaven for their happy discovery, they commemorated the event by a cup of wine, which was handed three times round the ship's company. The officers, holding a consultation, agreed to give the name of the Straits of Le Maire to the passage through which they had come, in compliment to the worthy merchant who had promoted the expedition, although that honour might justly have been bestowed upon Captain Schouten.
The next land they saw was Juan Fernandez, but missing the proper anchorage, they were unable to bring up. Captain Schouten sent a boat, however, to look for a safe place to anchor; but the officer in command of her, on his return, reported that the island was inaccessible, though he brought off a large quantity of lobsters, crabs, and a few fish, having also seen many sea-wolves. They next sighted another small island, but here also were unable to anchor, and on sending a boat ashore, her crew could only find some herbs, which tasted like scurvy-grass, though they saw several dogs which neither barked nor snarled, for which reason they called it Dog Island.
When about a league away from another low island, a canoe, in which were six or eight reddish-coloured Indians with long black hair, came off to the ship; but the explorers could not communicate with them, as they understood none of the languages in which they were addressed.
Sailing along the coast, another canoe came off. The skins of her crew, who were nearly naked, except a piece of matting hung from a belt round their waists, were punctured over with snakes, dragons, and other reptiles. They would not venture on board, but came to the boats, when the Dutch gave them beads, knives, and other trifles. They quickly showed their thievish disposition by stealing the nails from the cabin windows and the bolts from the doors. The boat, with a well-armed crew, was now sent on shore; but the moment they landed, about thirty natives rushed from the woods, armed with clubs, slings, and spears, and tried to take away the arms from the soldiers; but on receiving a discharge of musketry, they took to flight.
This island was low and sandy, and was covered with cocoa-nut-trees. It was about one hundred leagues from Dog Island. At the next island at which they touched, on the 16th, they were fortunate enough to find abundance of fresh water in a pit not far from shore, as also some herbs, which proved serviceable to those who were afflicted with scurvy. To this island they gave the name of Water Island.
Sailing westward, anchorage was found off another island about twenty leagues distant from it, a musket-shot from the shore, where they observed a stream of fresh water. After having had considerable difficulty in getting ashore, they found a spring in a wood; but suddenly, as they were about to fill their casks with water, a savage started up, and they considered it wise to beat a retreat to the boat.
Just as they got there, five or six more savages appeared, but on seeing them, quickly retired into the wood. Although they had got rid of the savages, they encountered other adversaries of a more formidable nature, for they were followed by myriads of black flies, so that they came on board absolutely covered with them from head to foot. This plague of flies raged in the ship for three or four days, until by the help of a good breeze they were blown away. The Dutch naturally called this island Fly Island, but it is now known as Palliser's Island.
Continuing their course westward, when about one thousand five hundred and ten leagues from the coast of Peru, they saw a large double canoe standing towards them. On this a gun was fired to make her heave to. The people in her not understanding the meaning of the signal, naturally made off as fast as they could. On this the Dutch sent their boat with ten musketeers, who fired a volley at her. On seeing the boat approach, some of the savages leapt overboard, but the rest surrendered without resistance, on which the Dutch used them kindly, dressing the wounds of those who were hurt, and saving the lives of some who had leapt into the sea. Besides the men, there were eight women and several children,—in all twenty-three persons. They were cleanly looking, of a reddish colour, and almost naked, wearing only the usual cloth, hung to a belt in front.
The men wore their long black hair curled, but the women had theirs cut short. The only articles found on board were a few fishing-hooks: the upper part was formed of stone, and the other of bone or mother-of-pearl. They had no water, but satisfied their thirst with the liquor of a few cocoa-nuts, or with salt water, of which even the children drank heartily. The canoe was probably bound from one of the Society Islands to Otaheite.
On the 10th high land was seen on the larboard side, about eight leagues off, but the Unity was unable to reach it. On the 11th she came up with another high island, with a second, much lower, about two leagues to the southward.
About this time another double canoe appeared, which outsailed the Unity. She was steered with two oars, one in each canoe. The Dutch, wishing to anchor, stood in until they brought up about a cannon-shot from the island, which consisted of an entire mountain, resembling one of the Moluccas, and was covered over with cocoa-nut-trees. No sooner had the ship come to an anchor than she was surrounded by canoes, the people from which leaped into the water and swam to her, carrying in their hands cocoa-nuts and roots of various sorts. These they bartered for nails, beads, and other trifles; so that the crew obtained a sufficient number of cocoa-nuts to supply each of them bountifully.
This traffic brought so many of the native canoes round the ship, that the Dutchmen had a difficulty in steering clear of them. A boat was now sent to the other island to discover better anchorage, but she was quickly beset with a vast number of canoes, full of wild savages armed with clubs, who attempted to board her. When the seamen first fired their muskets, the natives laughed at them for making so much noise and doing so little harm; but at the next discharge, a savage being shot through the breast, they quickly retreated. They were strong, well-proportioned men, and expert swimmers.
Notwithstanding the hostility they first displayed, the savages came again on the 12th in their canoes, laden with cocoa-nuts, bananas, roots, hogs, and fresh water, all struggling to get first on board. Those from the canoes outside leaped into the sea, and, diving, swam to the ship with bunches of cocoa-nuts in their mouths, climbing up the sides like so many rats, in such swarms that the Dutch had to keep them off with their cutlasses. Sufficient cocoa-nuts were obtained that day to give each man of the crew a dozen.
The natives seemed astonished at the strength of the Unity. Some of them were seen to dive under her bottom, knocking against it with stones, as if to try how strong it was. Their King or chief sent on board a black hog as a present, the messenger being ordered to take no reward. Shortly afterwards he came in person, in a large double canoe, attended by thirty-five single canoes. When at a distance he and his people began to shout at the top of their voices, that being their manner of welcoming strangers. He was not to be distinguished from any of his subjects by any external mark, for he was as naked as they were; but it was seen who he was by the reverence they showed him. The Dutchmen, to do him honour, began beating their drums and sounding their trumpets, and this seemed to afford him much satisfaction, as he and his attendants, to show how highly they appreciated this reception, bowed and clapped their hands until they grew tired of the performance. The King then sent another pig, in one of the small canoes, on board the Unity, for which Captain Schouten returned him an old hatchet, some rusty nails, some glass beads, and a piece of linen cloth, with which he seemed highly pleased.
They then invited him by signs to come on board. He would not, however, trust himself with the strangers; but, after satisfying his curiosity, he, followed by the rest of the canoes, took his departure.
At noon on the 13th, fully twenty-three double canoes and forty-five single ones, in each of which there could not have been less than seven or eight men, were seen coming off from the shore, and soon perfectly surrounded the ship. At first the savages pretended to come for the purpose of trading, making signs of friendship, and endeavouring to persuade their visitors to remove the ship to another island, where there was better anchorage. Captain Schouten suspected, however, in spite of this, that there was some mischief intended. He therefore ordered his men to arm themselves, and load their guns as well as their muskets, to be ready for an attack. He was not mistaken, for in a short time the savages, finding their signs not attended to, began to shout in the most fearful manner, and then the crew of the King's ship, which was nearest, plying her paddles, forced her with such force against the Unity, that the heads of the two canoes composing it were both dashed to pieces.
The rest of the canoes came rushing on from every side, the people in them throwing showers of heavy stones on board. As they did so Captain Schouten ordered his crew to open upon them with musketry, and at the same time the great guns, which had been loaded with bullets and nails, were fired right down on the surrounding canoes. This had the desired effect, for the savages in the nearest canoes, leaping overboard, endeavoured to make for the shore, while the others paddled off as fast as they could, endeavouring to escape from the anger of the white men, whom they had so treacherously endeavoured to destroy. It was found that their assailants came from the lower or more southerly of the two islands, which the Dutchmen, therefore, named Traitors' Island.
Not wishing to have anything more to do with such people, Captain Schouten ordered the anchor to be weighed, and the Unity stood towards another island about thirty leagues off, where he hoped to be more fortunate in obtaining refreshments. As the ship approached the island the boat was sent along the shore to sound, for the purpose of discovering good anchorage ground.
While the ship was standing off the shore about a dozen canoes came off, bringing a small quantity of flying-fish. These the natives willingly exchanged for beads; but Captain Schouten, deeming it unwise to allow them to come alongside, ordered them under the stern, when the exchange was made by means of a rope, the beads being let down and the fish hauled up. The savages, having disposed of their fish, paddled away for the Unity's boat, which was engaged in sounding. Getting up to her, they suddenly made an attempt to board, but their intention being perceived, they were met with so warm a reception from the Dutchmen's guns, pikes, and cutlasses, that two were killed, and the rest were glad to hurry away as fast as they could.
The shores of this island were composed of black cliffs with green summits, and numbers of cocoa-nut-trees growing on them. Several huts were seen scattered about, and at one place there was a large village, close to a shelving beach.
As no convenient anchorage was found, Captain Schouten now stood away to the south-west, hoping to discover the great southern land of which he was in search.
At length, however, on the 18th of May, being in latitude 16 degrees 5 minutes south, and at least one thousand six hundred leagues westward of the coast of Peru, without having seen any signs of a continent, Captain Schouten called his officers together, and observed that if they continued on their present course they would reach the southern side of New Guinea, and that if they were unable to find a passage beyond that country, either to the west or north, they would inevitably be lost, as it would be impossible for them to get back, in consequence of the east winds which prevailed in those seas. He proposed, therefore, that they should now alter their course to the northward, so as to fall in with the north side of New Guinea.
Had he continued on he would have fallen in with the group of islands now called the New Hebrides, and afterwards probably have become the discoverer of New South Wales, and perhaps have made his way through Torres Straits, between New Holland and New Guinea, which had a short time before been discovered by Luis Vaez de Torres. It must be remembered, however, that at this period the whole of the vast region to the south of the East Indian Archipelago was totally unknown to the civilised world.
Le Maire and the other officers willingly agreed to this proposal, and the course was accordingly shaped to north-north-west. Before long they fell in with another island, but could only get within a league of it, when they were visited by two canoes, some of the people in them being allowed to come on board. The natives had not been long in the ship before, one of them carrying off a shirt, the whole leapt back into their canoes, and then began shouting and threatening to throw their spears. To show them their folly some muskets were discharged, by which two of the unfortunate savages were killed, while the rest made off at a rapid rate.
It strikes one that the Dutchmen were apt to fire unnecessarily at the savages; but then again it must be remembered that the latter were so ignorant of the power of firearms that unless the pieces were shotted they only laughed at the senseless noise, and that they hurled their spears with such unerring aim that some of the Dutchmen might have been killed had they not employed the means of defence in their power.
Notwithstanding the death of these two savages, some more canoes came off on the 22nd from another part of the island, apparently with peaceable intentions, bringing cocoa-nuts, roots, and roasted hogs, which they bartered for knives, beads, and nails.
They were, however, quite as well versed in stealing as their countrymen. Their huts in considerable numbers were seen along the shore, the roofs being conical and covered with leaves. As Captain Schouten here found a good place for watering, he detained six of the islanders on board, and sent three of his own people as hostages to the King, who treated them with great respect and presented them with four hogs, giving also strict orders to his people not to interfere with the boat while watering. The natives stood in great awe of him. One of them having stolen a cutlass, and a complaint being made to one of his officers, the thief was pursued and soundly thrashed, besides being compelled to make restitution. The officer signified that it was well for the culprit that the King did not know of his crime, for had that been the case his life, to a certainty, would have been forfeited.
Their houses were about twelve feet high and twenty in circumference, the only furniture seen in them being beds of dry leaves, a fishing-rod or two, and a large club.
These islanders appeared to hold firearms in great dread. On one occasion the King desired to hear one of the great guns let off, and for this purpose he took his seat under a canopy in state, having on his head a crown of white, red, and green feathers of parrots and doves, with his courtiers about him, trying to look unconcerned. No sooner, however, was the gun fired, than jumping up, he ran off as fast as his legs could carry him into the woods, followed by his attendants, and no persuasions could stop them.
On the 25th and 26th Captain Schouten sent on shore to procure hogs, but the islanders having only a few left, would not part with any, and would only sell cocoa-nuts, bananas, and roots. The King, notwithstanding, continued to treat his guests with kindness, and as a mark of his regard he and his principal minister took the crowns off their heads and put them on two of the party.
The doves seen here were white on the back, and black everywhere else, except the breast. Each of the King's councillors had one of these birds sitting beside him on a stick.
An ample supply of fresh water having been taken on board, preparations were made for sailing. Before leaving, Captain Schouten and Le Maire went on shore, accompanied by their trumpeters, whose music highly pleased the King. The friendly disposition exhibited by the tawny sovereigns was, they suspected, as much from fear as love, for he offered them ten hogs and a large quantity of cocoa-nuts, if they would quit his island in a couple of days. It was evident that he suspected the Dutch of having some design to seize his country. He requested them, notwithstanding this, to assist him in a war he was carrying on with the inhabitants of another part of the island. This they declined doing. He, however, fearlessly paid them a return visit on board the Unity. On coming up the side he made some cabalistic signs, or, as the Dutch supposed, offered up prayers to his idols, and he did the same at the door of every cabin he entered. When the Dutchmen went on shore the inhabitants showed them the most abject marks of respect, by kissing their feet and placing them on their necks.
The name of Horn was given to this island. It is divided into two portions, joined by a narrow low neck of land, which gives it the appearance of two islands.
The friendly King sent on board on the morning of the 30th of May to say that another King was coming to visit him, and to request that drums and trumpets from the ship might be in attendance to do his visitor honour.
This request was readily granted. Soon after the other King made his appearance, accompanied by a train of three hundred naked Indians, having bunches of green herbs stuck about their waists, of which herb they make their drink. They brought also a present of sixteen hogs. When the two Kings came in sight of each other, they began to bow and to utter certain prayers. As they met, they both fell prostrate on the ground, and after making several strange gestures, they got up and walked to two seats provided for them. Having uttered more prayers and bowed reverently to each other, they sat down under the same canopy, while the drums and trumpets from the ship played a march, to their great entertainment.
After this preparations were commenced for a solemn banquet. The liquor to be consumed at it was concocted in the following strange and disagreeable manner. A number of young Indians quickly collected in the presence of the two Kings, bringing with them a large quantity of kava, a sort of herb. Each person then filled his mouth with it, and having chewed it for some time, spat it into a large wooden trough, on which water was poured. After stirring this for some time, they squeezed out the liquor, which was presented in cups to the two Kings. They also offered some to the Dutch, who turned away with a disgust which must have astonished their hosts. The substantial part of the entertainment consisted of roasted roots and hogs, the latter nicely dressed in the following manner. The entrails being taken out, the hair was singed off, when a pit having been dug and lined with leaves, the bottom was covered with heated stones, on which the hog was placed, the inside being also filled with hot stones. It was then covered with other stones, and on the top with a thick layer of leaves. The whole was then covered up, so as to prevent the escape of heat. By this means the animal was perfectly dressed. The natives presented the Dutchmen with two hogs dressed in this manner, with the same forms and ceremonies they used to their Kings, placing them on their heads, and then humbly kneeling, left them at their feet.
They also presented their guests with eleven live hogs, for which they were given in return some knives, old nails, and glass beads. These natives were of a dark yellow colour, tall, strongly built, and so well proportioned that the tallest Dutchman was of the size of the smallest of them. Some wore their hair curled, others frizzled or tied up in knots, while several had it standing bolt upright on their heads like hogs' bristles, a quarter of an ell long. The women were short, ill-shaped, and exceedingly ugly.
The Dutchmen bidding the friendly natives farewell, the Unity sailed on the ist of June, and stood on until she came off a low island, with three or four small islands near it, covered by trees. Here a canoe similar to those formerly described came off from the shore. The people were black and armed with bows and arrows, being the first weapons of that description the Dutchmen had seen among the Indians of the South Sea.
These people made the voyagers understand by signs that there was more land to the westward, where another King dwelt, who would provide them with good refreshment.
Passing numerous islands, some of which were rugged and full of cliffs, they at length made some high land, which they supposed to be a headland on the coast of New Guinea. They stood towards it, but could find no bottom to anchor.
Here two or three canoes came off full of black naked people, who spoke a language differing entirely from that before heard. On seeing the boat sounding they attacked her with their slings, but, frightened by a few shots, quickly took to flight.
During the night fires were seen burning along the coast, probably as alarm signals. Soon after it was dark more canoes came off, and kept lurking about the ship; but though the Dutch tried to make them understand that they wished to be friendly and were anxious to purchase provisions, the savages only replied by the most horrible noises and outcries.
The Unity anchored that night off a bay in forty-five fathoms. In the morning a fleet of canoes came off, full of savages armed with clubs, wooden swords, and slings. The Dutch tried to propitiate them by offering them trinkets and toys, but this had not the slightest effect on the savages, who began hurling their missiles and approaching so near—one of the Dutchmen being wounded, the first who had been hurt during the voyage—that it became necessary to fire at them. Not, however, until several of them had been killed did they take to flight, when they leapt overboard, and dived and swam for their lives. On this the Dutch, pursuing them in their boat, with what was certainly wanton cruelty, knocked several on the head, and took three prisoners and four of their canoes, the latter serving as fuel, of which they were in want.
Having made, one of the wounded men understand that if his countrymen would bring off hogs and bananas the rest of the prisoners would be set at liberty, they sent him on shore, telling him that ten hogs must be paid as a ransom for each of the others; but as the natives refused to agree to this arrangement, one of the captives, who was named after the wounded Dutchman Moses, was carried off.
They here procured some beautiful birds, the plumage of which was entirely red. From the appearance of the people they concluded that they were Papuans. Sailing on along the coast, they saw three other high islands, being then in 3 degrees 20 minutes south latitude.
On the night of the 29th, as the ship was sailing calmly on, she was suddenly shaken so violently that the crew rushed up on deck, fully expecting to find that she had run aground; but on sounding, no bottom was found, and it was seen that no rocks nor shallows were in the neighbourhood. They therefore came to the conclusion that the shaking had been caused by a submarine earthquake, such as often takes place in that volcanic region. The following night the same fearful phenomenon again occurred, accompanied by terrific claps of thunder, while the lightning darted so fiercely from the sky that, had not a heavy downpour of rain come on there seemed every probability that the ship would have been set on fire.
In the morning several canoes appeared full of blacks, who were allowed to come on board. As a token that they wished to be friendly, they broke some sticks they carried over the Dutchmen. Their canoes were very neatly formed, and they themselves were more civilised than the savages last visited. Their black hair was covered over with chalk. They came only to beg, having brought nothing with them, though cocoa-nut trees were seen in abundance on the shore.
On the 1st of July the Unity again anchored between an island and the coast of New Guinea. She was almost immediately surrounded by twenty-five canoes, carrying the same people who had before given tokens of peace. They now, however, came in a very different spirit; for several of them caught hold of two anchors which hung over the bows, and began tugging away, expecting to draw the ship ashore. The rest, coming up on either side, began, with loud shouts and cries, to hurl stones from their slings, and to cast their darts. On this Captain Schouten ordered the guns to be fired, when the shot quickly knocked the canoes to pieces, killed twelve or thirteen men, and wounded a much larger number, when the rest at once took to flight.
The Dutch now continued their cruise round the northern end of New Guinea. Passing a large group of islands, twenty-three in number, of different sizes, some high, others low, most of them being left on the starboard side, their hearts were cheered by coming in sight of a lofty mountain, which they took to be the hill of Banda, but which was in reality several degrees of latitude off from it.
On the 7th they approached a range of lofty hills, some of which they found were volcanoes, for which reason they named the island Volcano Island. It was thickly inhabited, and abounded in cocoa-nut trees. The people regarded the ship with evident terror, and would not come near her. Steering west-south-west, and occasionally altering their course to the west-north-west, they anchored on the 8th about a cannon-shot from the shore between two islands, one lofty and the other somewhat lower. It was inhabited by Papuans, whose mode of bedecking themselves, owing to their natural deformity, made them literally appear like monsters. Nearly the whole of them had their limbs fearfully misshapen, besides which they had strings of hogs'-teeth hung about their necks, rings in their noses, their hair frizzled, and their faces black and ugly. Their habitations were remarkable, being light structures of bamboo, mounted on stakes eight or nine feet above the ground, and close to the water. There were two villages near the shore, from whence the inhabitants brought off hogs and cocoa-nuts, but so high a price was demanded that none were purchased.
By the morning of the 5th they reckoned that they were off the extreme western part of New Guinea, along which they had sailed two hundred and eighty leagues. Here several canoes came off, bringing beans, rice, tobacco, and two beautiful birds of paradise. The natives spoke the language of Ternate, and some of them a little Spanish and Malayan. They were clothed from the waist down, some with loose silken robes, and others with trousers, while some, who were Mohammedans, wore silken turbans on their heads; many also had gold and silver rings on their fingers. They bartered their provisions for beads and other toys, but seemed more desirous of having linen than anything else. Suspicious of the Dutch, they would not tell the name of their country. It was afterwards found that they were natives of Tidore.
Captain Schouten now shaped a course, intending to go round the north point of Gilolo, and, having touched at Soppy, anchored on the 5th off the coast of that island. At this place some of the seamen went on shore several times to catch fish. On one occasion, when they were drawing their net, four soldiers from Ternate rushed suddenly out of a wood, sword in hand, and had not the surgeon, who was present, cried out, "These are Holland men!" would have killed them. The soldiers instantly stopped, and, throwing water on their heads, in token of peace, approached in a friendly manner, saying that they had mistaken the Dutchmen for Spaniards. They at once accompanied the seamen on board, and, being well treated, undertook to bring off provisions, which promise they fulfilled.
Having sighted Ternate and Tidore, the Unity anchored, on the evening of the 17th, off the former island. Here Captain Schouten with Le Maire went on shore, and were kindly entertained by the King of Amboyna and the admiral and general of the station.
At this place the pinnaces and the stores of the unfortunate Horn were sold for one thousand three hundred and fifty reals, with which Captain Schouten obtained some provisions. On the 28th he anchored at Batavia, then called Jacutra. Here John Paterson Koen, President of the Dutch East India Company, arrived on the 31st of October; but instead of the friendly reception the voyagers expected he would offer, to their bitter grief he the next day sequestered the Unity and her cargo, declaring that she was forfeited to the East India Company for illegally sailing within the bounds of their charter.
In vain Le Maire protested against this arbitrary proceeding, and declared that the seizure was unlawful, as they had not offended against the letter nor intention of the company's charter, since they had not come to India by either of the forbidden passages,—the Straits of Magellan or the Cape of Good Hope,—but by a passage they themselves had discovered, and which must be extremely advantageous to the commerce of their own countrymen and to the trading world.
Finding, however, all his efforts vain, he and Captain Schouten, with some of their people, embarked on board the Amsterdam on the 14th of December, 1616, and others on board the Zealand, while the rest entered the service of the company. On the 31st of the same month poor Jacques Le Maire died, chiefly of grief and vexation at the failure of the enterprise, which had been so successful until the arrest of the ship and cargo. He had kept a journal with great care during the voyage, and he left an earnest request that it should be published, that the world might know and judge of the usage he and his companions had received. The voyagers arrived on the 1st of July, 1617, in Holland, from which they had been absent, during their circumnavigation of the globe, two years and seventeen days.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.
VOYAGES AND ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM DAMPIER—FROM A.D. 1674.
His parentage—Early voyages—Sails for Jamaica as a planter—Visits Bay of Campeachy—Turns logwood-cutter—His adventures—Joins the buccaneers—Succeeds—Returns to England—Marries—Again goes to Jamaica—Captured by buccaneers, and takes part in several expeditions in the South Sea—Recrosses the Isthmus of Darien, and reaches the Samballas Islands—Joins Captain Tristan—The prizes sold to the Dutch— Goes to Virginia—Joins the Revenge—Captain Cook sails for the South Seas—Puts into the Sherbro' River—Cook treacherously captures a Dane— The name of the Bachelor's Delight given to her—Cape Horn doubled— Steers for Juan Fernandez—Falls in with the Nicholas—Meeting of the Mosquito Indians, Will and Robin, at Juan Fernandez—Several vessels captured on the coast—A design on Truxillo abandoned—Death of Cook— Buried on shore—Narrow escape of the party on shore—Davis elected captain—Transactions at Amapalla—Eaton and Davis separate—Davis joined by other pirates—Paita attacked and burnt—Attempt on Guayaquil abandoned—A packet-boat captured—Hear of the sailing of the Plata fleet—Lay in wait for it off New Panama—Attempts of the Spaniards with a fire-ship—Large parties of pirates unite—Plan to attack Panama— Encounters a Spanish fleet—Stratagem of the Spaniards to place the pirates in a disadvantageous position—The Spanish fleet escapes—Lexa and Leon plundered—Swan proposes to cross the Pacific—Santa Pecaque plundered—A large body of the rovers massacred—The prisoners set on shore on a desert island—The Cygnet prepared for crossing the Pacific—Dampier cured of a dropsy.
Few British seamen have seen so much of the world, or have gone through more remarkable adventures, with the power of describing them, than William Dampier. He was born in 1652, near Yeovil, in Somersetshire, on the farm of his father, a well-to-do yeoman, who sent him at an early age to a good school, where he acquired some classical knowledge. He was afterwards removed to another, where he learned writing and arithmetic.
Having shown a strong inclination for the sea, on the death of his parents his guardians apprenticed him to a shipmaster at Weymouth, with whom he made a voyage to France, and in the following year one to Newfoundland; but suffering from the cold, he got disgusted with a sailor's life, and settled for a short time with a brother in Somersetshire.
His longing for adventure, however, soon revived, and hearing of an outward-bound East Indiaman about to sail for Bantam in Java, knowing that at all events he should be warm enough there, he shipped on board of her before the mast.
Having gained considerable nautical experience, he returned home, and after again living on shore with his brother, he entered on board the Royal Princess man-of-war, commanded by Sir Edward Spragge. In this ship he took part in two sanguinary fights; but falling ill, he was sent to hospital on shore, thus missing the last engagement in which his brave commander was killed.
On his recovery he accepted an offer from his brother's landlord, Colonel Hellier, to go out as under-manager to an estate in Jamaica. He accordingly sailed, and after visiting several islands, reached Jamaica. Growing weary, however, of a planter's life, he made trips in different traders, carrying goods along the coast, by which he gained a thorough knowledge of the harbours and bays of the island.
In August, 1675, he sailed on board a vessel bound for the island of Trist, in the Bay of Campeachy. He here became enamoured of the free life of the logwood-cutters, and after his return to Jamaica, having supplied himself with tools, a gun, and store of powder and shot, as well as a tent, he again sailed for the island of Trist. He now began to keep a regular journal, which tells us of his adventures while engaged as a logwood-cutter. They are amongst the most interesting of his life, while his notes on the natural history of the country show his accuracy as an observer. The logwood-cutters varied their occupation by hunting the wild cattle, and on one occasion Dampier nearly perished by having lost his way in the woods. During his wanderings he had the unpleasant reflection that a short time before six or seven of the crew of a Boston ship had died, in the vain endeavour to find their way to the shore.
On another occasion he was, while crossing a small savannah with his companions, who had gone on ahead, nearly losing his life. He perceived the strong scent of an alligator; directly afterwards he stumbled over one, and fell into the water. Recovering, he shouted to the other men, but they, terror-stricken, were flying towards the woods. A second, and even a third time he fell, every moment expecting to be seized by the jaws of the horrid monster; but he at length got safely on shore. An alligator had a few days before actually seized one of his comrades by the knee, but the man had the presence of mind to wait until the brute relinquished his grip to take a firmer hold, when he rammed the butt-end of his musket down its throat, and scampered off.
During a hurricane he was deprived of his stock of provisions. Having no means of procuring a fresh supply, he was compelled to join a company of buccaneers, or privateers as he called them, with whom he spent a year before he could make his escape, pillaging the Spaniards and making descents on native villages. While with the freebooters a Spanish fort was attacked, but they lost ten men killed or desperately wounded, and obtained little booty, except the flesh of some thirty bullocks, some Indian corn, poultry, and a number of tame parrots.
While the vessels of the buccaneers were encumbered by the live stock and provisions they had obtained, they were attacked by some Spanish armadillos, which they succeeded, however, in beating off. After this adventure Dampier returned to the island of Trist, and was so successful in his occupation as a woodcutter, that he was enabled to return to England in 1678. Here he married a young woman attached to the Duchess of Grafton's family, but after spending about half a year at home he again sailed for Jamaica, carrying out a quantity of goods to exchange for the commodities most in request among the woodcutters.
He spent nearly a year in Jamaica, where he was so successful in his mercantile transactions that he was able to send over money sufficient to purchase a small property in Dorsetshire. He was about to return home and take possession of it, when he was persuaded to engage in a voyage to the Mosquito shore. On the way the vessel fell in with a squadron of three noted pirates, Coxon, Sawkins, and Sharp. The whole of the crew of the merchantman joining them, Dampier was compelled to go with them also.
Soon afterwards Porto Bello was sacked by two hundred of the pirates, each of whom obtained as his share one hundred and sixty pieces of eight. After this the buccaneers marched across the Isthmus of Panama, three hundred and thirty strong, under the command of Captain Sharp, accompanied by a band of Mosquito Indians. On their way they attacked the town of Santa Maria, where the Indians put many of the inhabitants to death. They then embarked in a fleet of canoes and boats, and, having deposed Sharp, chose Captain Coxon for their commander.
Shortly afterwards they separated, Dampier accompanying Sharp. Again uniting preparatory to an attack on Panama, they encountered three Spanish ships, and, after a severe action, in which many on both sides fell, they captured them. Sawkins was now raised to the command, but was killed while leading on his men in an attack on Puebla Nueva.
The pirates at length repaired to the island of Juan Fernandez to refit, and William, one of the Mosquito Indians, was left behind.
Captain Watling, who had been elected chief, was shortly afterwards killed in an attempt to capture Arica, and Sharp was once more placed at the head of the band. He managed, in one of the vessels he had captured, to double Cape Horn, and return in safety to England, where he narrowly escaped being hung as a pirate. Dampier, meantime, with a minority of the party, consisting of forty-four Europeans, two Mosquito men, and a Spanish Indian, after undergoing great hardships and perils, crossed the isthmus to the mouth of the river Concepcion, where they obtained canoes, in which they proceeded to one of the Samballas Islands. Here they found a French privateer, commanded by Captain Tristan, whom they joined. Having captured a large Spanish ship, with twelve guns and forty men, laden with sugar, tobacco, and marmalade, the cargo was offered to the Dutch Governor of Curacoa, who was too cautious to purchase it himself, but recommended them to go to Saint Thomas's, which belonged to the Danes, saying that he would send a sloop to take the sugar off their hands.
Declining his suggestion, they sailed to another Dutch colony, where they easily disposed of their booty.
Dampier some time after this found his way to Virginia, where he was residing with several of his former companions, when a ship, captured by a party of English buccaneers under Captain Cook, and named the Revenge, put into the harbour. As she carried eighteen guns, and was equipped for a long voyage—and it was necessary to get away from those seas as soon as possible, lest they should be treated as pirates—it was proposed that a voyage should be made to the South Seas.
Besides Dampier, the ship's company consisted of Lionel Wafer, the surgeon, Ambrose Cowley, and many adventurers who had lately crossed the Isthmus of Panama. The ship being well stored, sailed from Achamack in Virginia on the 23rd of August, 1683.
Having helped themselves to some casks of wine from a Dutch vessel, they steered for the Cape de Verde Islands, and thence were intending to hold a course for the Straits of Magellan, but, as they were driven east by foul weather, they put into the river Sherbro'. The natives, being in no way shy, brought off an abundance of plantains, sugar-cane, rice, fowls, honey, and palm wine. Here they found at anchor a large Danish ship, which, being far superior to their own vessel, Captain Cook resolved to capture. Concealing most of his crew, who were well armed, and allowing only a few to appear on deck, he steered for the stranger. He had given directions to the helmsman to run her aboard, notwithstanding whatever command he might issue. The helmsman doing as he had been ordered, ran her alongside, when the pirate crew, springing from their places of concealment, rushed, cutlass in hand, over the bulwarks of the Dane, which they captured after a short struggle, with the loss, however, of five men.
Dampier, justly ashamed of the nefarious proceeding, does not mention it in his journal, but it is found in that of Cowley, who wrote an account of the voyage. The crew of the captured ship being sent on shore to shift for themselves, she was towed out of the harbour; and such stores, guns, and ammunition as were required being moved out of the Revenge into her, the pirates set fire to their old ship, that she might tell no tales, and sailed away in their prize. She carried thirty-six guns, and was victualled for a long voyage.
The name of the Bachelor's Delight was bestowed upon her, and with exulting hearts the buccaneers directed their course for the Straits of Magellan. On their way two or three of the crew died, and among them one of the surgeons, greatly to their regret, as they had now only one remaining.
Having touched at the Falkland Islands, then known under the name of Sibald de Weert, to obtain water and fresh provisions, they steered for the entrance of the straits. Dampier, knowing the want of discipline among the lawless crew, feared to take the ship through so narrow and dangerous a passage, and endeavoured to persuade Captain Cook to sail round Cape Horn, instead of attempting that of the straits. Captain Cook, however, insisted on keeping to his original plan; but on reaching the northern entrance to the Straits of Le Maire, the ship, having been tossed about in the sea created by counter-currents, was forced through them, and the pirates were compelled, after all, to go round Cape Horn. Fortunately they were able to supply themselves with water from the heavy rain which fell.
The Bachelor's Delight, entering the South Sea on the 3rd of March, steered for Juan Fernandez. On the 19th a strange sail was seen bearing down upon them, and it being supposed she was Spanish, preparations were made for a fight.
On signals being exchanged, she was found to be the Nicholas of London, which, though nominally an honest trader, was in reality a pirate, commanded by Captain Eaton. He coming on board, the Bachelor's Delight supplied him with water, while he gave bread and beef in exchange. Both being bound for the same island, they continued their course together, and on the 22nd of March, 1684, came in sight of it.
Having come to an anchor, Dampier and others went on shore to look for a Mosquito Indian named Will, who had been left there three years before by Captain Watling. As they approached, he having discerned the ships, and knowing them to be English, came down to the seaside to welcome them. As soon as they reached the beach, another Mosquito Indian, named Robin, leapt on shore, and running to his brother Mosquito man, threw himself flat on his face at his feet. The other helped him up, and having embraced him, also fell flat on his face on the ground at the feet of Robin, who also took him up.
Dampier and his companions stood watching with pleasure and surprise the tenderness and solemnity of this interview, which was exceedingly affectionate on both sides. When it was over they all embraced.
Will was delighted to see so many old friends, coming, as he supposed, to take him away. He was almost naked, his own clothes having been worn out, so that he had only a skin about his waist. Seeing the vessels, he had in the morning killed three goats and dressed them with cabbage, to treat his visitors as soon as they got on shore.
The Spaniards had several times searched for him, but he had always managed to conceal himself from them. He had been out hunting in the woods for goats when Captain Watling had embarked his men, and he had thus been left behind. He had with him his gun and a knife, with a small horn of powder and a few shot. This ammunition being spent, he contrived, by notching his knife, to saw the barrel of his gun into small pieces, with which he made harpoons, lances, hooks, and a long knife. Having made a fire by means of his gun-flint and a piece of the barrel of his gun which he had hardened, he heated the pieces, which he hammered out or bent as he desired with stones, and either sawed them with his jagged knife or ground them to an edge with persevering labour, hardening them to a good temper.
This may seem strange, but the Mosquito Indians are especially clever in manufacturing implements out of the roughest materials. With the weapons he thus made he was able to kill goats or fish. At first he had lived upon seals; but, having made some good hooks, he never afterwards killed any seals, except for the purpose of cutting up their skins to make lines and thongs. He had erected a hut for himself, half a mile from the sea, which was lined with goat-skins, his clothes and bedding being formed of the same material. Seals and sea-lions swarmed round the coast of this island.
Although Alexander Selkirk, afterwards found by Dampier, was the true original of Robinson Crusoe, Defoe appears to have taken some of his descriptions from the adventures of the Mosquito Indian just mentioned.
The hills of Juan Fernandez are partly covered with woods, and partly open, intersected by fertile valleys, the grass being rich and delicate. There were no trees fit for masts, but there was much fine timber, among which was the cabbage-tree. Here Captain Cook was taken seriously ill, and was evidently in a declining state.
The crews having refreshed themselves during sixteen days, the two ships sailed for the coast of America. A Spanish vessel was captured on the 3rd of May, bound for Lima with timber, before news of the pirates being on the coast was known at the settlements.
Notwithstanding this, Cook and Eaton, uniting their forces, determined to attack Truxillo. Three vessels were shortly afterwards captured, laden with flour. On board one of them were eight tons of quince marmalade, but the pirates were bitterly disappointed on learning that they had missed a vessel containing eight hundred thousand pieces of eight, which had shortly before been landed. Finding that the garrison of Truxillo was prepared for them, they steered for the Galapagos, which lie under the equator, and are uninhabited. They abound, however, in land turtle and enormous iguanas; there was also abundance of sea turtle. So numerous, indeed, were the land turtle, that a large ship's company might subsist on them for many months together.
Depositing a portion of their flour in a hut built on one of the islands, they again sailed for the mainland. As they were standing off Cape Blanco, Captain Cook died, and, as he was much respected, his crew carried him on shore to be buried. While they were engaged in digging the grave three Indians appeared, two of whom were captured. They informed the pirates that large herds of cattle were to be found in the neighbourhood. Two boats were therefore sent, under the guidance of the Indians, to obtain a supply.
Dampier, considering that the enterprise was dangerous, returned with a part of the men on board; the rest continued their sport and slept on shore. Next morning they discovered that their boat, which they had left on the beach, was destroyed, and that they were watched by a party of fifty armed Spaniards. The enemy, however, afraid to encounter them openly, remained among the trees, and kept firing from thence at them. The latter thought it prudent to retreat to an isolated rock which they had seen when landing, just appearing above the water. Wading off to it, almost up to their necks, amidst a shower of bullets, they gained its highest point. Here they hoped to hold out until the Spaniards had retired; but what was their horror to find that the water was rising, and that in a short time the rock would be entirely covered! Fortunately their position was seen from the ships, and a boat sent to rescue them.
On the death of Captain Cook, the quartermaster, Edward Davis, was elected commander in his stead.
After this the pirates entered the Gulf of Amapalla. On an island within it the priest of a village was made prisoner, with two native boys, while endeavouring to escape. With these as hostages, Captain Davis and a number of his men proceeded to the town, where he told the people that his people were Spaniards, and had been sent to clear the sea of pirates, his intention being to repair his ships.
This statement being credited, he and his men were well received. He accompanied the inhabitants to church, where all public business was transacted. The intention of Davis was to ensnare the principal inhabitants, and to make them pay a ransom. His object was frustrated, in consequence of one of the pirates violently pushing a man before him, when the Indians, suspecting treachery, took to flight. Upon this Davis and his people fired, and one of the unfortunate Indians was killed. Notwithstanding this, through fear, they assisted in storing the ships with animals taken from a farm belonging to a nunnery. In return, Davis presented one of his prizes, laden with flour, to the inhabitants. The crews having had a dispute about the division of the spoil, the two vessels here separated; Eaton sailing on the 2nd of September, and Davis, accompanied by Dampier, on the following day, the padre and the young Indians having been previously landed. Davis now found it difficult to decide what course to pursue. The Spaniards were everywhere on the alert, in consequence of a party of buccaneers having crossed the isthmus, and now being engaged in cruising in boats along the coast.
The Bachelor's Delight now put into La Plata, where Drake had destroyed the Cacafuego. While she lay here, the Cygnet, of London, a regular trader, under Captain Swan, came in. He had endeavoured to open up a peaceful traffic with the Spaniards, but his party had been attacked and several of his men killed.
Swan was therefore, in his own defence, compelled to turn pirate. While the two ships lay here, they were joined by the band of buccaneers who had crossed the isthmus under the command of Peter Harris, the nephew of a well-known leader of that name.
During the time that the ships were refitting, a small bark which had been captured was sent out on a cruise, and succeeded in taking a vessel of four hundred tons, laden with timber. From her crew the rovers obtained intelligence that the Viceroy was fitting out a fleet of ten frigates, to drive them from the South Seas. Having formed the design of attacking Paita, they joined forces, and, much regretting the absence of Eaton, sailed for that place. Entering the roads on the 3rd of November, they found the town nearly abandoned, with all the treasure carried away. They demanded, however, flour, sugar, wine, and water to be sent off; but, as this was not complied with, landing, they set the town on fire, and it was burnt to the ground.
Harris's ship being found a slow one, she was burnt, and her crew joined the larger vessels. In vain they looked for Eaton, who, as it turned out, had sailed for the East Indies.
Having refitted the vessels, and obtained a supply of wood, seals, penguins, and boobies, which were salted at the island of Lobos de Tierra, they made a descent on Guayaquil; but disagreements arose between the commanders, and, after landing and getting in sight of the town, they abandoned the enterprise, neither being willing to trust the other.
Descents were made on two or three other places, and near Tomaco they captured a vessel, with a Spanish gentleman—Don Diego de Pinas—on board, and several other Spaniards.
On the 1st of January, 1685, the two vessels sailed for the island of Gallo. On their way they captured a packet-boat from Lima, and, securing her despatches, learned that the Governor had hastened the sailing of the Plate fleet from Callao to Panama.
On hearing this, the rovers eagerly looked forward to the capture of these richly-laden vessels. In order to careen their ships, and lay in wait for their prey, they steered for the Pearl Islands. On their way they touched at Gorgona, where they landed most of their prisoners.
Several prizes having been captured, their squadron now consisted of six sail, but only two—the Bachelor's Delight and the Cygnet—were large vessels.
Reaching the Pearl Islands, they supplied themselves with all necessaries, then again sailed to watch for the Plate fleet. For some time they cruised before New Panama, a very fair city, standing close by the sea, about four miles from the ruins of the old town. The country round it was very beautiful, and it was newly walled, with guns pointing seaward. Growing weary of watching, they stood out to sea, and came to an anchor near the island of Taboga. While they lay here a vessel appeared, the people on board of which stated that they had come to traffic secretly with the English. Suddenly, however, about midnight, they were seen to take their departure, and the vessel, bursting into flames, was discovered to be a fire-ship.
The vessels slipping their cables, by great exertions put to sea and escaped damage. On their return they were alarmed by observing a fleet of canoes full of armed men steering towards them. Their joy was great when they discovered that the new-comers were a party of buccaneers, mustering two hundred and eighty men, English and French, who had crossed the isthmus on an expedition to the South Sea. About eighty of the former entered with Davis and Swan, and the vessels which had before been captured were given to the remainder. Their force was further increased by another party numbering one hundred and eighty, all British, under Captain Townley. Three other parties shortly afterwards arrived, mustering two hundred and sixty-four men.
With a force amounting in all to about one thousand men, they resolved to attack Panama. Before, however, making the attempt, they ascertained from intercepted letters that the Lima fleet was at sea, and they resolved to capture it in the first place. Their squadron now consisted of ten sail, but the Bachelor's Delight and Cygnet were the only well-armed vessels, while the Spanish fleet amounted to fourteen,—two of which carried forty guns, one thirty-six, another eighteen, one eight, and two fire-ships, all supplied with numerous crews.
At length, sighting the enemy, they bore down before the wind; but the Spaniards kept close on a wind, and although a few shots were exchanged, succeeded in avoiding their assailants until nightfall. A light was then seen hoisted on board the Spanish Admiral's ship. This was supposed to be a signal for his fleet to anchor. After some time it was lowered, but was again seen to leeward. Consequently the buccaneers steered for it during the night. Great was their disgust when morning broke to discover the Spanish fleet well to windward, a small bark having conveyed the lantern to leeward, and thus placed them in a dangerous position. The Spaniards now got under weigh and bore down before the wind, compelling the buccaneers to retreat.
A running fight ensued, but the Frenchmen kept out of the way, and the rovers, bold as they were, dared not, in their small vessels, come to closer quarters. All hopes of the capture of the long-looked-for Lima fleet was thus lost. To avenge themselves they sailed for the Rio Lexa, near which was the town of Leon, on the Lake of Nicaragua. Both places were attacked and captured. A ransom of three hundred thousand dollars was demanded for Leon, but the Spaniards put off paying it; and the buccaneers, suspecting that a strong force was gathering to overwhelm them, retreated to the shore. One Spanish gentleman who had promised one hundred and fifty head of cattle as his ransom, scrupulously redeemed his word.
After this adventure the buccaneers determined to separate, and Captain Swan proposed to his crew to cross the Pacific, and to return home by India. Dampier, who had long wished to get free from the lawless band, was among the first to agree to the proposal, and leaving the Bachelor's Delight, he joined the Cygnet. It was necessary, however, first to victual the ship. For this purpose the town of Santa Pecaque, which was well stored with provisions for supplying the slaves in the neighbouring mines, was captured. During two or more days a large quantity of maize and other provisions were brought off. Captain Swan warned his men when on shore engaged in transporting the provisions to keep together, and to be constantly on the watch, lest they should be attacked by the Spaniards. A party of fifty-four Englishmen and nine blacks had been thus engaged, and were on their return to the ship, when the sound of rapid firing was heard on board. Captain Swan, fearing that they were attacked, immediately landed with the greater part of the remainder of his crew, and hurried to their assistance. On reaching the spot, to his grief he found that the whole had been massacred, a large body of Spaniards having suddenly set upon them, and either shot them down or sabred them, not allowing one to escape. Among them were several of the officers, one of whom was supercargo on board the Cygnet, and who had written the history of his adventures.
This disaster, the most serious which had befallen the buccaneers since their arrival on the coast, determined Captain Swan to hasten his departure. The Cygnet now sailed for Cape Saint Lucas, and put into the middle island of the Tres Marias. It was well stored with iguanas, raccoons, rabbits, pigeons, deer, turtle, seals, and fish of various kinds. Here a considerable number of persons whom the pirates had taken prisoners were landed and left to shift for themselves, in revenge for the disaster suffered at Santa Pecaque.
The ship was careened, a tender was sent across to the mainland for water, and final preparations made for the intended voyage. Dampier had been suffering much from dropsy, when, by the advice of a native, he underwent a treatment which he was assured would restore him to health. He was first buried up to his neck in hot sand, and then, after undergoing a profuse perspiration, he was placed in a close tent, where he remained until he became cool. By this means he was entirely cured.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.
DAMPIER'S VOYAGES, CONTINUED—A.D. 1686.
The Cygnet and a bark sail from Cape Corrientes for the Ladrones— Short allowance of food—The crew threaten to mutiny—Narrow escape from shipwreck—Guam reached—Friendly intercourse with the Governor— Provisions obtained—A friar kept as hostage—A Manilla ship appears and escapes—Quit Guam and reach Mindanao, one of the Philippines—Visit from Rajah Laut—The Viceroy—An officer visits the Sultan—Friendly reception—Entertainments on shore—Rajah Laut's treachery—The crew become discontented—Run off with the Cygnet leaving Captain Swan and portion of the crew on shore—Many die poisoned by the natives—The Cygnet lays in wait for the Manilla ship—Reed chosen as captain—Put into a harbour—Refit the ship and cut down the quarter-deck—Nearly wrecked—Anchor off Mindano—Go to Polo Condore—Refit the ship—Live on friendly terms with the natives—Again sail—Some of a boat's crew killed by Malays—Proceed to the west of China—Remarks on the natives— Come off the Pescadores—Obtain provisions from the natives—The Bashee Islands visited—Leave Luconia—Dampier desires to return for Captain Swan—Hears of his death—Waterspouts—Anchor off Callasunguny—Visits exchanged with the Sultan—Sail for the coast of New Holland— Intercourse with the natives—Sail for the Nicobar Islands—A canoe with natives captured—Dampier set on shore—Brought off again—Again set on shore with several companions—They obtain a canoe, and set sail for Achin—Perilous voyage—Reach Achin—Sufferings of the voyagers—Dampier makes several voyages, and becomes gunner at Boncoulin—Plan of trading to Meangis—The Painted Prince—He escapes privately to Boncoulin on board the Defence—Reaches England after twelve years absence—Death of the Painted Prince-Dampier publishes his adventures.
On the 31st of March, 1686, the Cygnet, with a hundred men on board, commanded by Captain Swan, and a bark, commanded by Captain Tait, with whom went fifty men besides slaves, made sail from Cape Corrientes with a fresh breeze of north-north-east. The only provisions they had been able to obtain were some Jew-fish, caught by the Mosquito men, and salted, and a store of maize. They now steered due west for the Ladrones. As they might possibly be fifty or sixty days before making Guam, the crews were at once put on short allowance, having only one meal a day. In three days they had consumed their salted Jew-fish, and had now nothing but the maize on which to subsist. However, they made good runs every day before the fresh trade winds, and in about twenty days the crews, expecting to get soon in, insisted on having a larger allowance.
With some reluctance the captain allowed them ten spoonfuls of maize a day each man, instead of eight. Dampier declares that he benefited by this meagre fare, and drank about three times every twenty-four hours, but some men drank only once in nine or ten days, and one did not swallow any liquid for seventeen days, and asserted that he did not feel at all thirsty. They ran on for nearly five thousand miles without seeing a flying-fish or fowl of any sort, but then they fell in with a number of boobies, which they supposed came from some rocks not far off. As they approached Guam some rain fell, a sign that they were in the neighbourhood of land. Many of the crew were in a state of mutiny, and had formed a plot to kill Captain Swan and eat him should their provisions fail, and they had now only meal sufficient for three days more.
He was a stout, lusty man, and when the danger was past he remarked, laughing, "Ah, Dampier, you would have made them but a poor meal!" for the latter was as lean as the captain was fat.
The bark being ahead, passed over a shoal with only four fathoms of water on it, on which Captain Tait hauled his wind and waited for the Cygnet. He then came on board and described what he had seen. At first they were very doubtful where they had got to, as no shoal was marked on the Spanish charts; but by keeping northward, at four o'clock that evening, the 20th of May, the island of Guam was sighted. On the following day the two vessels came to an anchor on the western side of Guam, about a mile from shore, after a run of seven thousand three hundred and two miles. The Spaniards had here a port and a garrison of thirty men. Having been unable to distinguish the vessels as they approached after dark, supposing that they belonged to their own nation, a priest came off with two boats, and was greatly surprised to find that they were English. He was, however, well treated, although detained as a hostage. He agreed to obtain the necessary provisions, and to arrange for a fair exchange of commodities. He accordingly wrote to the Governor of the fort, who willingly agreed to the proposed terms. Next day the natives brought off rice, pineapples, melons, oranges, limes, cocoa-nuts, and a sort of fruit called by the English bread-fruit, which proved of the greatest value to the half-starved seamen. The fruit was baked on shore, and brought off hot ready to be eaten. Besides the garrison there were only two or three Spanish priests on the island; the rest of the inhabitants consisting of about one hundred natives. It had but shortly before been thickly populated, but the natives, attempting to capture the fort and turn out their tyrants, were, with the help of Captain Eaton, who put in there at this juncture, either killed or compelled to fly the island.
Besides the fruit, the Governor sent every day one or two canoes laden with hogs and various delicacies. While the vessels lay here, a Manilla ship appeared in the offing, and, unseen by the English, the Governor made her a signal that the buccaneers were there, and she stood away from the shore. Running to the southward, however, she got on the shoal from which Captain Tait had so narrowly escaped, and was very nearly lost. The pirate crews, hearing of this, were eager to go and capture her. Captain Swan, however, being sick or ashamed of robbing, and perhaps suspecting that she would prove a tough customer, persuaded them to abandon their design.
On the 30th of May the Governor sent off a last present, including six or seven bags of rice; he also hinted that the west monsoon was at hand, and that therefore it behoved his visitors to be jogging, unless they desired to return to America. The same day the friar who had remained as a hostage was sent on shore with various presents, including a brass clock, an astrolabe, and a telescope. Grateful for these, he made a return present of six hogs and a roasting pig, three or four bushels of potatoes, and fifty pounds of Manilla tobacco.
Besides minor articles they had as many cocoa-nuts as could be stowed, a good stock of rice, and fifty hogs in salt. This store, they hoped, was amply sufficient to carry them on to Mindanao, one of the Philippine Islands, where they had resolved to go.
The two largest of these islands are Luconia and Mindanao, on the former of which Magalhaens was killed in his mad attempt to conquer the natives. The whole of the group was then subject to the Spaniards, with the exception of the islands of Mindanao and Saint John's.
The passage to Mindanao occupied nineteen days, during which the Cygnet and her consort met with a heavy gale which compelled them to remain at anchor. On approaching they hoisted their colours and fired a salute of seven guns, which was returned from the shore by three. The town stood on the banks of the river about two miles from the sea. The houses were built upon piles from fourteen to twenty feet in height, and as this was the rainy season, were completely surrounded by water, so that they appeared as if standing in a lake, many of the inhabitants going from house to house in their canoes. The island was at this time governed by rival Rajahs, the Rajah of Mindanao being the chief.
Captain Swan's object was to gain his friendship, especially as he was supposed to be hostile to the Spaniards. As soon as the Cygnet and her consort dropped their anchors, a canoe, paddled by ten paddlers, came off, carrying a man of consequence, who introduced himself as Rajah Laut, the brother and prime minister of the Sultan. He was attended by one of his nephews, who spoke Spanish fluently, and a conversation was thus carried on through Mr Smith, who had been made prisoner at Rio Lexa.
When he understood that the strangers were English, he welcomed them cordially, but evidently seemed disappointed on being told by Captain Swan that he had come merely to obtain provisions, and not to establish a factory.
The Rajah had been informed by a Captain Goodlad, who had touched there some time before, that he would induce the East India merchants to form one on the island to carry on a trade with him.
Rajah Laut and his nephew remained all the time in their canoe, saying that they had no authority from the Sultan to go on board the ship. Captain Swan, believing that he should have to remain some time at the island, was anxious to consult the Sultan, and accordingly sent a Mr More on shore with a present of scarlet cloth, three yards of broad gold lace, a Turkish scimitar, and a pair of pistols. Mr More was well received, and many questions were asked him through an interpreter in Spanish.
On being dismissed he found a supper prepared for him and his boat's crew at Rajah Laut's house, after partaking of which he returned on board. The inhabitants behaved to their visitors in the most friendly way, insisting on their coming into their houses to be treated, although their treats were but mean, consisting of tobacco and betel-nut and a little sweet spiced water.
Rajah Laut, seeing so many of the men in fine clothes, asked who they were, when he was told, as a joke, that they were noblemen, who had come aboard to see the world, but that the rest, who had shabby garments, were only common seamen.
After this he showed much respect to those who had good clothes, and especially to one John Thacker, who, having husbanded his share of the spoil, had plenty of gold in his pocket, which he liberally spent, besides which he was a good dancer.
Captain Swan discovering this, undeceived the Rajah, and gave a drubbing to the unfortunate nobleman, against whom he was so much incensed that he could never afterwards bear to see him.
At this time Captain Swan had his men in such perfect subjection, that he could punish whom he chose, and he might, had he wished, have induced them to form a settlement on the island. During the Ramadan no amusement of any sort took place on shore; but as soon as the feast was over, Rajah Laut entertained Captain Swan and his officers with performances of dancing women, such as are common over India. The females of the place were especially addicted to dancing. Forty or fifty would form a ring, joined hand in hand, and sing a chorus while keeping time; though they never moved from the same spot, they would make various gestures, now throwing forward one leg, now another, while they shouted loudly and clapped their hands while the chorus was sung.
Much of the night was spent in this way. Many of the seamen who had money lived on shore among the inhabitants, spending it in the too usual profligate manner. Christmas Day was spent on board, and it was expected that Captain Swan would then announce his intentions for the future; but he kept them to himself, and no one could tell what he intended to do.
He now received a secret visit from the nephew of a Sultan of one of the Spice Islands, who came to invite him to form a settlement on shore, provided he would defend the island from the Dutch. He, however, had not the resolution to engage in the undertaking.
So satisfied was Captain Swan of the good intentions of the natives, that he carried his vessel over the bar into the river. She had not been there long when it was discovered that her bottom was perforated by the teredo, and it appeared a short time before that a Dutch vessel had been entirely destroyed by them in less than two months.
Rajah Laut, who had become heir to her great guns, no doubt hoped to obtain those of the Cygnet, as well as her stores and cargo, in the same manner.
The evil having been discovered in time, the crew set to work to rip off the worm-eaten planks, and put on new, and to sheathe and tallow the ship's bottom. They also took on board her cargo, consisting of iron and lead, as also rice for the voyage, and filled the water-casks.
Rajah Laut had long promised to supply her with beef, and he invited Dampier and a party of others to accompany him on a hunting expedition; but only a few cows were seen, and none were shot. It now became evident that he was playing false with the voyagers, and that his great object was to detain them until their ship was destroyed. Suspecting this, they got her over the bar. On a second expedition, when Rajah Laut carried his wives and family with him, Dampier had an opportunity of seeing much of the manners and customs of the people.
As soon as the Rajah was out of the house the ladies came to the quarters of the English, and talked freely with them. They were much surprised on hearing that the King of England had only one wife. Some approved of the custom, but others considered it a very bad one.
Though the party were several days out in the country, the cows were so wild that only three heifers were killed. With these Dampier and his men returned on board.
Rajah Laut now showed his true character. He first borrowed twenty ounces of gold from Captain Swan, who very unwillingly lent them to him, and could not afterwards get them back. He also demanded payment for the food the captain and his men had eaten at his house.
These matters greatly annoyed the captain, who was a man of bad temper. His own ship's company were every day pressing him to be gone. Some of them ran away, assisted by Rajah Laut; the whole crew, indeed, became disaffected. Those who had no money lived on board and wished to be off, while those who had still some cash remaining were content to stay. The former stole some of the cargo, which they sent on shore to purchase arrack and honey to make punch, with which they became drunk and quarrelsome.
Captain Swan might at once have put a stop to these disorders, had he exerted his authority; but, as he and the supercargo were always living on shore, nothing was done. The mutiny was brought to a head by the discovery of the captain's journal, in which he inveighed against the crew, and especially a man named Reed.
Captain Tait, who had before behaved ill and been punished by Captain Swan, took advantage of this state of discontent to advise the men to turn him out, hoping to be chosen in his stead to command the ship.
They would have sailed at once, had not the surgeon and his mate been on shore. To get them off, the mutineers dispatched John Cookworthy, a follower of their party, who was directed to say that one of the men had broken his leg, and required their assistance. The surgeon replied that he intended to return next day, but sent his mate, Herman Coppinger. Dampier, who had been on shore, accompanied Coppinger off to the ship, and then discovered the trick that had been played, and the treacherous projects of the crew. He immediately on this sent to the captain, who, however, not believing that his men would run away, remained on shore.
The next day he did not appear, and on the morning of the 13th the mutineers, firing a gun, weighed anchor, and were standing out to sea, when Mr Nelly, the chief mate, pulled after them and got on board. He advised them again to anchor, which they did; but Captain Swan, either from cowardice or reluctance to leave the island, still refused to return on board.
The mutineers would allow no one to visit on shore, so Dampier and Coppinger were kept prisoners. Losing patience, they once more weighed and steered for Mindanao, leaving the captain and thirty-six men on shore, besides those who had run off. Sixteen had been buried there, most of whom had died from the effects of poison administered to them by the natives. Several others succumbed from the same cause, after they had been some weeks at sea, the surgeon being unable to counteract the effects of the noxious drugs they had swallowed.
The Cygnet left Mindanao on the 14th of January, 1687, directing her course to Manilla, in the neighbourhood of which place it was intended to cruise, in the hopes of capturing the galleon. On the 3rd of February they came to an anchor off an island well suited for beaching the ship.
Before this Reed had been chosen as captain, Tait as master, and More as quartermaster. The quarter-deck was here cut down, to make the ship the better for sailing, and her bottom was scrubbed and tallowed.
In the island were seen vast numbers of large bats, their bodies as big as ducks, with wings from seven to eight feet from tip to top. The ground in many places was covered with vines, which ran over it until they met a tree, when they climbed up it to its topmost branches. They were of the thickness of walking-canes, the joints being between a couple and three feet apart.
Again sailing, on the 10th of February they coasted along the shore, but had not long been out of port when the ship struck on a rock. Fortunately, the water was smooth and the tide at flood; but, as it was, they lost a large piece of their rudder, and the ship narrowly escaped being wrecked.
By the fires they saw burning on the shore, they supposed the country was thickly inhabited by Spaniards. On the 18th the ship brought up off the island of Mindano. While she lay there, a canoe with four Indians came from Manilla. At first they were shy, but, hearing the pirates speak Spanish, they came alongside, and informed them that the harbour of Manilla was seldom or never without twenty or thirty sail of vessels, a few Spaniards and Portuguese, but mostly Chinese.
The pirates told them that they had come to trade with the Spaniards, and requested them to carry a letter to the merchants there. This was only a pretence, as their business was only to pillage. A fair opportunity to trade would have been afforded them, had they really desired it.
Shortly after sailing, they saw a vessel coming from the northward, and, making chase, captured her. She was a Spanish bark, bound to Manilla, but as she had no goods on board they let her go. Two days afterwards they took another vessel laden with rice and cotton cloth, also bound for Manilla. The goods were for the Acapulco ship which had escaped them at Guam, and was now at Manilla.
They now resolved to go to Pulo Condore, which, being out of the way, they hoped there to remain concealed, and to clean their ship, until the latter end of May, when they intended to look out for the Acapulco ship, which was expected to come by about that time. They anchored off Pulo Condore on the 14th, and found it to be the largest and only inhabited one of a group of islands. The people were from Cochin, and, as several of the seamen could speak Malay, it was easy to carry on a conversation with them.