The pirates lived here in the most intimate way with the natives, whose chief employment was making tar from the sap of trees. Others employed themselves in catching turtle and boiling the fat into oil, which, with the tar, they sent to their native country.
The island abounded in birds, such as parrots, doves, pigeons, and wild cocks and hens. The country people supplied them with hogs and turtle, and other provisions.
A convenient spot being found, the ship was careened and the men employed in felling trees, sawing them into planks, and making a house to store their goods. A new suit of sails was also made from the cloth taken out of the Manilla ship. Here two of the men died who had been poisoned. At their request their livers were taken out by the doctor, and found to be black, light, and dry, like pieces of cork. Having spent a month at this place, they sailed on the 21st of April, and after touching at a number of places, on their way they overtook a Chinese junk, which came from Sumatra, fully laden with pepper. From her crew the pirates learned that the English were settled on the island, at a place called Sillabar.
On anchoring they saw a small bark at anchor near the shore. Captain Reed ordered a boat's crew to go and ascertain what she was, charging the men on no account to venture on board. Neglecting his advice, they pulled alongside, and several of them, leaping up, were stabbed by the Malays who manned her, supposing that they had come with hostile intent. The rest quickly leapt overboard, some into the boat, and others into the sea. Among them was Daniel Wallis, who had never swum before, but who now swam lustily until he was taken on board. Captain Reed immediately shoved off in another boat to punish the Malays, but they seeing him coming, they scuttled their vessel and made for the shore, where they hid themselves. Here Dampier and Coppinger resolved to leave the pirates, it having been against their will that Captain Swan had been deserted, and they having become ashamed of the proceedings of their companions. Coppinger managed to land, but Captain Reed sent after him and brought him back, and they had to put off their design until a more favourable opportunity.
Finding the sea where they intended to cruise for the Manilla ship dangerous on account of numberless reefs, on which many Spanish vessels, with their cargoes, had been lost, the pirates abandoned their design and sailed for the island of Saint John, lying on the south coast of the province of Canton, in China. The inhabitants were Chinese. There were here plenty of hogs, goats, buffaloes, and bullocks to be seen. Dampier describes the way the feet of the women were bound up so that they lose the use of them, and instead of walking they only stumble about their houses, and then squat down again. They seldom stir abroad, and one would be apt to think their retaining this fashion were a stratagem of the men to confine them at home, to keep them from gadding and gossiping with their friends. The poorer sort trudge about the streets without shoes or stockings, and these cannot afford to have little feet, having to get their living with them. There being signs of a coming storm, in order to have sea-room the ship made sail away from the land.
The hurricane burst on them as they expected. Their safety depended on their being able to scud under bare poles, which they did during the whole night; and Dampier and his shipmates averred that they had never been in so violent a storm before.
Fearing that another tempest might come on, they resolved to run for the Pescadores, lying between the island of Formosa and the coast of China.
Making the group on the 20th of July, they found themselves before a large town, with a number of junks going in and out of the harbour. Though they would have preferred anchoring in some uninhabited spot, they had no remedy but to run boldly in. The quartermaster was at once sent on shore to go to the Governor and inform him that they were bound for Amoy, and as they had suffered some damage by the late storm, they wished to remain there until finer weather.
The Governor received the quartermaster civilly, and told him that they could refit the ship better at Amoy or Macao, and dismissed him with a present of flour, cakes, and pineapples. Officers afterwards came on board, but did not appear to suspect the character of their visitors. In a short time the ship was surrounded by native boats, each having three or four men, who soon crowded the decks, and began to steal all the iron on which they could lay hands. One of them being found carrying off a linchpin, a seaman took hold of the fellow, who immediately bawled out, when the rest leapt overboard. The thief, however, not being ill-treated, and receiving a piece of iron, swam to his friends, who had hovered about the ship to see the issue. After this the people were honest and civil, and brought off goats and roots, which were purchased for iron.
Sailing thence, the Cygnet touched at one of the Bashee Islands, and soon afterwards encountered another storm, which so disheartened the pirate crew that they wished themselves at home again. But Captain Reed and Captain Tait persuaded them to go towards Cape Comorin, intending to cruise in the Red Sea, where they expected to pick up some rich prizes.
Fearing to go through the Straits of Malacca, they agreed to sail round the eastern side of the Philippine Islands, and keep south towards the Spice Islands, so as to pass into the East Indian Ocean, about the island of Timor.
Leaving the island of Luconia with all their golden prospects disappointed, they steered for Mindanao. Here they received a visit from the young prince, who had been sent by his uncle. He informed them he had lately seen Captain Swan, who with his men had been assisting Rajah Laut in fighting against the hill tribes, and were held in high estimation.
Here Dampier endeavoured to persuade some of the crew to return for Captain Swan to Mindanao, but his plan being betrayed to Captain Reed and Captain Tait, they made haste to be gone. Dampier afterwards heard that some of the people had got away to Batavia, and from thence to Europe; that some had died; and that Captain Swan and his surgeon, in attempting to get on board a Dutch ship, had been upset by the natives and drowned.
Dampier being here unable to make his escape, was carried on to the island of Celebes. As they were coasting along during the night, the sound of numerous oars was heard, and, supposing they were about to be attacked, they got up their arms and stood ready to defend themselves.
As soon as it was day they saw a large proa, with about sixty men in her, and six smaller proas. These lay to about a mile to windward to view the stranger, probably intending to make a prey of her.
At last the Cygnet hoisted Dutch colours, hoping to allure them nearer, but they pulled away, and were soon out of sight. Standing into this bay, they came to an anchor near a spot where a vast number of trees grew, and one especially of great size. This Captain Reed ordered to be cut down to form into a canoe, as all their boats had been lost during the storm. Dampier and many others, who had been logwood-cutters in the Bay of Campeachy and Honduras, were expert at this work. They took their turns, cutting together, but were one whole day and a half before they got it down. This tree was eighteen feet in circumference, and forty-four clear trunk, without knot or branch. Great was their disappointment on examining it to find that it was rotten at heart, and would not serve their purpose.
Soon after sailing, while becalmed, two or three waterspouts were seen, which seemed terrible, as it was impossible to get out of their way. The waterspout Dampier describes as the small ragged part of a cloud, hanging down from the blackest part. It generally slopes, appearing as if it had a small elbow in the middle. It is smaller at the lower end, not bigger than one's arm, and no bigger towards the cloud whence it proceeds. Though he had seen many, he observed that the fright is always the greatest of the harm it does.
During a calm, which came on while the ship was off Bouton, the Mosquito men were employed in striking turtle with their harpoons. They returned on board with a native, who spoke the Malay language, and told them that farther on was a good anchoring-place in the neighbourhood of a large town called Calla-sus-ung. Here they brought up on the 15th of December. Soon after the Sultan sent a messenger to inquire their business, and, being satisfied with their report, promised to come on board. Meantime a number of boats brought off provisions. The ship was made ready to receive the Sultan, who soon came off in a handsome proa, with a large white silk flag at the head of the mast, edged round with red. In the middle was a green griffin trampling on a winged serpent, which threatened its adversary with open mouth. At the head of the proa sat the Sultan, with three of his sons and several of his nobles, while ten ministers as guards were standing on each side of him. Other guards were arranged about the vessel.
The Sultan was handsomely dressed in a silken turban, a sky-coloured silk pair of breeches, and a piece of red silk thrown across his shoulders, the greater part of his back and waist appearing naked. He had neither stockings nor shoes. As he was conducted by the captain into his cabin, five guns were fired in his honour. After remaining on board a couple of hours he returned on shore.
The next day the captain, by the Sultan's invitation, returned the visit, accompanied by eight men, and Dampier went with them. The Sultan received them in a neat house, near which forty naked soldiers with muskets were drawn up. They were entertained with tobacco and betel-nut and young cocoa-nuts.
While they were seated on their mats, the women and children thronged near the windows to look at them. The next day the Sultan again came on board, bringing a little slave boy as a present. The captain said he was too young to be at sea, and the Sultan exchanged him for a bigger boy. The men purchased a number of parrots and cockatoos, as white as milk, with bunches of feathers on their heads. The captain also purchased a canoe, which the carpenters altered by sawing off one end and making it flat, when she rowed and sailed admirably.
From this place the Cygnet steered across for New Holland, as the crew wished to ascertain what that country would afford them. On the 4th of January, 1688, they fell in with the land of New Holland, and then coasted along some distance.
At that time it was not known whether it was an island or a continent, but Dampier affirms that it joins neither to Asia, Africa, nor America. The land was low and sandy, and destitute of water.
Dampier describes the inhabitants as the "miserablest people in the world. The Hodmadods of Monomatapa (that is, the Hottentots of the Cape), though nasty people, yet, for wealth, are gentlemen to these, and, setting aside their human shape, they differ little from the brutes."
After some trouble, the English induced some of these natives to approach them, and gave them some old clothes, intending to make them carry their casks of water to the boat; but all the signs they could make would not induce the natives to touch the barrels; instead, they stood, like statues, without motion, grinning as so many monkeys would have done, and staring one upon another!
The seamen were therefore compelled to carry the water themselves, but the natives very formally put the clothes off again, and laid them down, as if they were only to work in. They did not appear, indeed, to have any great fancy for them at first, neither did they look surprised at anything they saw. On another occasion, when the boat approached the shore, a number of them appeared, threatening the strangers with their clubs and lances. At last the captain ordered a drum to be beaten. No sooner did they hear the noise than they ran away as fast as they could, crying out, "Gurry, gurry!"
At spring-tide the ship was hauled into a sandy bay, and all the neap-tides she lay wholly aground, so that there was ample time to clean her bottom. Dampier again attempted to persuade the men to take the ship to some English factory and deliver her up; but he was threatened, should he say anything more on the subject, to be left behind. He accordingly desisted, hoping to find some better opportunity for making his escape.
From the coast of New Holland the Cygnet stood for the island of Cocoas. Here fresh water was obtained, and one of the canoes brought on board as many boobies and man-of-war birds as was sufficient for all the ship's company. They caught also a land animal resembling a large crawfish without its great claws. Their flesh was very good, and they were so large that no man could eat two of them at a meal.
Again, at the little island of Triste, Dampier attempted to make his escape, but abandoned his intention for the present, finding it impossible to run off with the boat. Sailing on the 29th, they chased and captured a proa, with four men, belonging to Achin. She was laden with cocoa-nuts and cocoa-nut oil. The ship was filled up with as many of these commodities as could be stowed away, when a hole was made in the bottom of the proa, and she was sunk, while her crew were detained on board.
Captain Reed did this under the belief that Dampier and others who wanted to make their escape would be afraid to go on shore, lest the natives should kill them.
Passing the north-west end of Sumatra, the pirates steered for the Nicobar Islands, to the south of the Andamans. Here the ship was again careened, in order that she might be thoroughly cleaned, and thus sail faster.
The natives were a well-looking people, of a dark colour, the men being almost naked, but the women wore a short petticoat. After the ship was again floated, Dampier, finding that he could not get off by stealth, insisted on being landed. At last the captain agreed, and, getting up his chest and bedding, he induced some of his shipmates to row him on shore. One of them gave him an axe, which he had secreted.
Near the shore where he landed were two houses deserted by the inhabitants. The natives, who had been concealed, observing the boat pulling away, came out and made signs to the crew to take off their companion. When they saw that this did not succeed, the principal man came up to Dampier and offered to take him off in his own canoe. On this being declined, he invited him into his house with his chest and clothes.
He had not, however, been on shore an hour, when Captain Tait, with several armed men, came to take him back. He assured them that he had no intention to resist by force and accordingly accompanied them. On arriving on board the ship, he found her in an uproar, and three other persons demanded to be set on shore. These were Mr Coppinger, the surgeon, Mr Hall, and a man named Ambrose. Captain Reed offered no opposition to the departure of the two last, but would not part with the unfortunate surgeon. At last, Mr Coppinger, leaping into the canoe, swore that go he would, and that he would shoot any man who tried to prevent him. On this, Oliver, the quartermaster, following him into the canoe, took away his gun, and he was dragged back into the ship.
Dampier, Mr Hall, Ambrose, and a Portuguese were then set on shore. Soon afterwards, the four Malays belonging to Achin were also landed. The party now felt strong enough to defend themselves against the natives. Dampier's intention was to get into their good graces, and to obtain whatever he wanted by fair means. He would have preferred, for some reasons, having been left by himself, for he felt sure he should succeed in winning over the islanders.
The natives, on seeing so many visitors, kept at a distance, but did not attempt to molest them. Next morning, the owner of the house came to see them, and from him they obtained a canoe in exchange for an axe. They at once, being anxious to be off, embarked in her, but had got a short distance only from the shore, when she was overturned. They succeeded, however, in towing their chests and other property to the beach, and immediately lighted some fires to dry the contents, some books and sketches of maps having alone suffered. The Achinese in the meantime fitted their canoe with outriggers on each side, and made a mast and a substantial sail with mats. As soon as all was ready, they put off again in their frail bark, the islanders accompanying them in their canoes. Mr Hall, to frighten them away, fired a gun over their heads. On hearing it, they jumped overboard, and that fatal shot made all the natives their enemies.
They had great difficulty in procuring cocoa-nuts, and on going to the farther end of the island, they found a large number of people, who made signs for them to be off. On this Dampier presented his gun at them. On seeing it, they all fell flat down on their faces, but he turned round and fired it towards the sea, to show the savages that no harm was intended them.
As soon as he had reloaded, they pulled gently in. Again the savages made signs of their hatred, on which Dampier again fired off his gun, when the greater number sneaked away, leaving only five or six men on the beach. On this, Mr Hall landed, the only weapon he carried being his sword. The natives did not stir, so he took one of them by the hand, and making signs of friendship, a peace was concluded.
This evidently gave the greatest satisfaction to all the inhabitants, who now brought down melory, a sort of cake, made from a fruit resembling the bread-fruit. This they exchanged for old rags and strips of cloth.
Going to the south of the island, Dampier and his party provided themselves with more melory and a dozen large cocoa-nuts filled with water, containing in all about three gallons and a half. They also obtained three bamboos, which held three gallons more. This served for their sea store. Their intention was to go to Achin, on the north-west end of the island of Sumatra, from which they were about forty leagues distant. It bore south-south-east.
On the 15th of May, 1688, the Nicobar canoe commenced her perilous voyage with her company of eight persons, viz., three Englishmen, four Malays, and the Portuguese. She was about the burden of a London wherry below bridge, built sharp at both ends. She was deeper than a wherry, but not so broad, and so thin and light that when empty four men could launch her or haul her ashore on a sandy bay. She had a substantial mast and a mat sail, and good outriggers lashed very fast and firm on each side. Without them she would easily have been upset, and even with them, had not they been made very strong.
The Achinese placed such confidence in the Englishmen, that they would do nothing which Dampier and Mr Hall did not approve of. Dampier had made a sketch in his pocket-book from the chart on board the ship, and as he had also brought off a small compass, he was thus able to steer a right course. All night long they rowed on, relieving each other, while Dampier and Mr Hall steered by turns. After rowing twenty leagues, as soon as the morning of the 17th broke, they looked out for the island of Sumatra. It was nowhere to be seen; and glancing back, to their disappointment they observed the Nicobar Islands not more than eight leagues distant, showing that they had been pulling against a strong current. The wind again freshening on the 18th, they made better way. Dampier observed, however, a large circle round the sun, which caused him much anxiety, as it was the indication of a coming gale; yet he made no remark, lest he should discourage his companions. He observed, too, that should the wind, which was already strong, become more violent, they must steer away before it, and probably be driven sixty or seventy leagues to the coast of Queda, on the Malayan peninsula.
The wind came as expected. At first, by decreasing the sail, they attempted to keep to the wind, but the outriggers bent so fearfully that there was a fear of their breaking, in which case the canoe must have been overturned, and all on board have perished. They were, therefore, compelled, about one o'clock in the afternoon, to put right before the wind and sea. The wind continued increasing; the sea still swelled higher, and often broke, but striking the back of the helmsman, it was prevented from coming on board in sufficient quantities to endanger the vessel, but they were compelled to keep baling continually.
The evening of the 18th was very dismal: the sky looked black, being covered with dark clouds; the wind blew hard, and the seas ran high, roaring loudly, and covered with white foam. A dark night was coming on, no land in sight to cheer them, and the little bark in danger of being swallowed up by every wave; and what was worse than all, was, as Dampier confesses, none of them thought themselves prepared for another world. "I had been in many imminent dangers before now, but the worst of them all was but a plaything in comparison with this. Other dangers came not upon me with such a leisurely and dreadful solemnity. The sudden skirmish or engagement, also, was nothing when once blood was up, and pushed forward with eager expectations. But here I had a lingering view of approaching death, and little or no hopes of escaping it. My courage, which I had hitherto kept up, failed me. I made many sad reflections on my former life, and looked back with horror and detestation to actions which before I disliked, but now I trembled at the remembrance of. I had long before this repented me of that roving course of life, but never with such concern as now. I did also call to mind the many miraculous acts of God's providence towards me in the whole course of my life. For all these I returned thanks, and once more desired God's assistance, and composed my mind as well as I could in the hopes of it."
These hopes were not disappointed. He and Mr Hall taking it in turns to steer, while the rest hove out the water, they prepared, as Dampier writes, "to spend the most doleful night I ever was in. About ten o'clock it began to thunder, lighten, and rain; but the rain was very welcome to us, having drank up all the water we brought from the island."
At first the wind blew harder than ever. In half an hour it moderated, and by a lighted match they looked at their compass to see how they steered, and found their course to be still east, and thus they steered for several hours. For a short time they were able to haul up, but again had to put before the wind. During this period they were soaked through and through by the rain, which chilled them extremely. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 19th one of the Malays exclaimed that he saw land, and that it was Pulo Way, at the north-west end of Sumatra.
Trimming the smallest amount of sail they could venture to hoist, they steered with it, their outriggers doing them good service, for the wind pressed down the boat's side, and would have overturned her had it not been for them. As they approached the land, they saw that it was not Pulo Way they had at first observed, but the Golden Mountain in Sumatra, so-called by the English.
At ten o'clock it fell perfectly calm, and they took to their oars. In the morning they saw land about eight leagues off. With a fresh breeze, they steered for the river Jonca, about thirty-four leagues to the eastward of Achin. Entering it, the Malays, who were well acquainted with the people, carried them to a small fishing village, where they found accommodation in a hut.
The scorching heat of the sun at first starting, and subsequent cold and rain, threw the whole party into fevers. They were kindly treated by the inhabitants, who brought them abundance of provisions, and they were conveyed in a large proa to Achin. Here Dampier was placed under the charge of Mr Driscoll, a resident in the East Indian Company's factory. A few days afterwards the Portuguese, and subsequently Ambrose, died of the fever, and Mr Hall was so ill that it appeared unlikely he would recover, though Dampier, under the pretty severe treatment of a native doctor began to regain his strength. The effects of the fever hung about him until nearly a year afterwards.
He here made the acquaintance of Captain Bowery, who invited him to make a trip to the Nicobar Islands, but contrary winds compelled the ship to return.
Notwithstanding Captain Bowery's kind offers, Dampier accepted an invitation from a Captain Welden to sail to Tonquin. This voyage was performed, as well as another to Malacca. On his return from the last voyage, a little before Christmas, 1689, he met a Mr Morgan, one of the crew of the Cygnet. He had become mate of a Danish ship. From this man he learned the fate of many of his former companions. Some had taken service with the Great Mogul; others had joined the garrison at Fort George, having received a pardon for their piratical proceedings. The remainder of the crew, after committing various piracies, had entered into the service of one of the princes of Madagascar, in a harbour of which island their ship had sunk.
After making other trips, Dampier went to Fort Saint George, and from thence proceeded to Bencoulin, an English factory on the west coast, where he acted as gunner for five months. He had been persuaded to leave Madras by a Mr Moody, supercargo of a ship called the Mindanao Merchant, who had promised to buy a vessel and send him in command of her, to trade with the natives of the small island of Meangis. Mr Moody had in his possession a son of the King of the island, dubbed Prince Jeoly, who, with his mother, had been captured by the Malays, from whom Mr Moody had purchased them. Dampier's idea was that by treating them kindly he might be able to open up a commerce with the people, and establish a factory there. The prince was tattooed all down his breast and between his shoulders, as also on his thighs, while several broad rings or bracelets were marked round his arms and legs. The drawings did not represent figures or animals, but were full of lines, flourishes, chequered work, very skilfully and gracefully marked.
The poor young savage was thus known as the Painted Prince.
Mr Moody, being uncertain about fulfilling his engagement, as a recompense to Dampier, gave him a half share in the Painted Prince and his mother. Dampier took the utmost care of them; but, notwithstanding this, the unfortunate mother soon died, to the great grief of her son, who wrapped her up in all her clothes, as well as in two new pieces of chintz which Mr Moody had given her, and she was thus buried.
Growing weary of his life at Bencoulin, and pining to return home, being also anxious to carry out his project of making a voyage to Meangis, Dampier requested his discharge.
This was granted by the Governor and Council, and the Defence, Captain Heath, bound for England, coming into the roads, he agreed to ship on board her. Mr Moody had made over his share of the Painted Prince to Mr Goddard, her chief mate. When, however, Dampier was about to embark, the Governor, who was an ill-tempered, tyrannical man, refused to allow him to go. In vain he pleaded, and at last, having arranged with Mr Goddard to be received on board at night, leaving all his property, with the exception of his journals and a few other papers, he crept through one of the port-holes, and got into the boat which was waiting for him. He lay concealed until the last boat from the shore had left the ship, which then set sail for the Cape of Good Hope on the 25th of January, 1691.
Owing to the bad nature of the water, fever, which carried off many of the men and reduced others to the greatest state of weakness, broke out on board. To so helpless a condition was the crew reduced that they were unable to carry the ship into Cape Town Harbour, and would have had to keep at sea had not a Dutch captain sent a hundred men on board to take in her sails and bring her to an anchor. Here she remained some weeks, while the crew regained their strength. On the 23rd of May the Defence sailed from the Cape, and after touching at Saint Helena, without further mishap arrived in the Channel. Here, convoyed by some men-of-war, she got off Plymouth, and thence, parting with several ships which had kept her company, she ran into the Downs, where she anchored on the 16th of September, 1691.
Dampier, poor as he had been when he first joined the buccaneers, had to part with his share in the Painted Prince to obtain the means of reaching his home. The unfortunate Jeoly, after being carried about for some time to be shown as a sight, died of small-pox at Oxford.
From the time he left England in 1679, on board the Loyal Merchant, until his return in the Defence, upwards of twelve years had elapsed, during which period he had circumnavigated the globe, and visited more strange countries and gone through more hazardous adventures than almost any man who has ever lived, impelled undoubtedly by a roving disposition, but still more so by his ardent thirst to obtain a knowledge of natural history.
What became of his poor wife during this time, or how he supported himself on his return home, we are not told, except that he published the following year his "New Voyage Round the World," to which he afterwards added a supplement, entitled "Voyages and Discoveries." Possibly he obtained a good sum for these works, as from their excellence they soon brought the author into notice. Weary of wandering, he probably remained for some time on shore.
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.
DAMPIER'S VOYAGES, CONTINUED—A.D. 1699.
Dampier in command of the Roebuck—Voyage to New Holland—Visits the shore—The first kangaroo seen—Failure of attempt to catch a native— The ship, refitted at Timor, sails for New Guinea—Coasts along the shore—Beautiful birds seen—Intercourse with the natives-Provisions obtained—A volcano seen—A waterspout nears the ship—Meets a Chinese vessel, and hears of the Dutch settlements—Goes to Batavia—Rotten state of the Roebuck—Sails for England—Founders off Ascension—The crew landed—Residence on the island—Taken off by the Anglesey—Sails for Barbadoes—Dampier returns to England—His services overlooked— Sails in command of a squadron for the South Seas—Rounds Cape Horn— Fight with a French ship—Clipperton runs off with the tender and his commander's commission—Attempts to take the galleon—Defeated—Headed by Funnell, the crew mutiny, and part go off in a prize—Puna plundered—The Saint George destroyed—Her guns and stores put on board a prize—Sails for the East Indian Archipelago—Taken by the Dutch, and imprisoned—Escapes—Reaches England—Loss of credit—Joins Captain Woodes Rogers as pilot on board the Duke—She, with the Duchess, Captain Courtney, sails for the South Seas—Come off Juan Fernandez—Discover Alexander Selkirk, the original of "Robinson Crusoe"—His residence on the island—The sick landed—The ships sail— Prizes captured—Guayaquil attacked and plundered—The Manilla galleon captured—Rich booty—Prisoners well treated—Another galleon attacked— Privateers beaten off—Sail by way of Guam for Java—Sickness of crew— The Marquis sold—The ships return home—Dampier falls into poverty— Time and place of his death unknown.
The desire to discover new countries having revived among the English in the reign of William the Third, we next hear of Dampier in 1699, in command of the Roebuck, a king's ship fitted out for a voyage to examine the coasts of New Holland and New Guinea. She carried twelve guns and a crew of fifty men, with provisions for twenty months, but was old and crazy. She sailed from the Downs on the 14th of January, and after touching at the Cape de Verdes, shaped a course round the Cape of Good Hope. On the morning of the 2nd of August the mainland of New Holland was seen, but no anchorage being found, and bad weather coming on, she was obliged to stand off until the 5th, when she again stood in, and brought up in Shark's Bay. Among the animals Dampier saw on shore was one he describes as a sort of raccoon, differing from that of the West Indies chiefly as to the legs, for these have very short fore legs, but go jumping on the hind ones as the others do. This probably is the first description given of the small kangaroo of New Holland. He mentions different sorts of blossoming trees of several colours, but mostly blue, and smelling very sweet and fragrant. There were also beautiful and variegated flowers growing on the ground. The great want was for water, and for this a long search was made at different parts of the coast. At length a boat was sent ashore with an armed party carrying pickaxes and shovels. Three natives were seen, who retired; but when they observed the men beginning to dig, a large number collected, and with angry gestures ordered the strangers to begone.
At length, Dampier, accompanied by an active fellow, went forward to try and conciliate them; but still they kept aloof. Being anxious to capture one who might show them water, the commander allowed his companion to try and run one of them down. On being overtaken, they faced about, threatening their pursuer and Dampier with their spears. The former, though armed with a cutlass, was unable to keep them at bay, and Dampier, to save his life, was compelled to fire over their heads. The savages, seeing no harm was done, only uttered the words, "Pooh, pooh!" On this Dampier again fired, and one native fell, enabling the sailor to escape. Dampier on this turned back with his men, abandoning his attempt to capture a native, and being very sorry for what had happened. One only of the party, who appeared to be the chief, had his face painted with white pigment, to make him look more fierce.
In vain search was made for the huts of the natives. Some animals were seen resembling wolves, lean as skeletons,—probably dingoes. At last some brackish water was found, and the Roebuck proceeded to Timor. Here the ship, being refitted and the crew refreshed, Dampier sailed on the 20th of December for the coast of New Guinea. It was made on the 1st of January, 1700, and appeared to be high, level land, covered with trees. The party who went on shore in the boats obtained fruits of unknown kinds, and a stately land fowl, about the size of a poultry-yard cock, sky-coloured with a white spot, surrounded by others of a reddish hue on the wings, and a huge bunch of feathers on the crown, was shot.
Beating up to the northward against currents and adverse winds, occasionally anchoring, an island named Sabuda was reached. Here they found a tribe closely resembling the natives of Mindanao, of a tawny skin. The voyagers also saw negroes having curly hair, like those who had at first obtained for the country the name of New Guinea. Still farther north, shell-fish of an enormous size were found. On the passage the ship touched upon a shoal, but got off without damage, and came to an anchor. Here cockles were procured weighing ten pounds, much smaller than some previously seen, the shell of which alone weighed seventy-eight pounds! Pigeons were obtained, and bats of enormous size were seen here. Rounding the northern end of the island, Dampier endeavoured to get to the eastward, but made slow progress. On the way the ship nearly ran on an island not laid down in the charts. To commemorate his escape, he named the place Providence Island.
Crossing the Line and passing Admiralty Islands, a mountainous land was approached, well wooded with large plantations, and cleared patches on the hill-sides. Numerous boats and proas came off, and as Dampier was anxious to establish an intercourse with the natives, he endeavoured to induce them to come alongside. They would not, however, venture near, but eagerly received some beads, knives, and other toys, floated to them in a bottle. They endeavoured to induce the Roebuck to come to an anchor, but this she was prevented doing by the current. When they saw her standing off, they approached, launching showers of stones after her from their slings. The crew had got ready their small arms, and a gun was fired, which either killed or wounded one of the savages. In consequence of this event, Dampier named the place Slinger's Bay.
On the 3rd of March an island, marked in the Dutch charts as Gerret Denijs, was reached, covered by lofty thickly-wooded mountains. On the sea-shore were numerous large cocoa-nut trees, and small huts were seen. The inhabitants were black,—a strongly-limbed people with round heads,—their hair curled, short, and dyed of different colours, red, white, and yellow. Although they had round faces, with broad bottle noses, yet their countenances would have been pleasant, had they not disfigured them by painting and wearing great rings through their noses as big as a man's thumb. They had also holes in their ears, in which they wore similar ornaments. Their canoes were ingeniously formed with outriggers on one side, the head and stern especially being adorned with carved work, of fowls, fish, or a human hand. They managed their paddles with great dexterity. Their weapons were lances, swords, and slings, and some had bows and arrows. As she proceeded northward the ship was followed by a canoe. To each of the natives in it Dampier gave a knife, a looking-glass, and a string of beads. He showed them pumpkins and cocoa-nuts, intimating that he wished to have some more of the same description. On this they produced three out of their boat. When shown nutmegs they intimated that they had such growing on their island. They also recognised gold-dust.
Another canoe afterwards came off, the natives appearing tractable and well disposed. Seeing a deep bay where the ship might ride at anchor safely, Dampier steered into it. When the ship was about five miles from the shore, six canoes came off, with about forty men in them. He made signs to them to go ashore, but they would not attend to him. He therefore sent a shot over their heads, when they pulled away as fast as they could. They had, however, no sooner got ashore, than others came off. One, a large, well-built boat, had forty men in her. Soon after another of smaller size made her appearance, with several others. As the ship lay becalmed, and it appeared probable that the savages intended to make an attack, the gunner was ordered to fire one of the guns loaded with round and small shot. The last dropped into the water short of them, but the round shot flew a hundred yards beyond them, between two of their canoes. This so frightened the natives, that they rowed away with all speed. A light breeze having sprung up, the ship neared the shore, when a vast number of people were seen peeping from behind the rocks on shore. Another gun was fired to scare them, as it was important to keep them at a distance while the boats were obtaining wood and water. The ship brought up at the mouth of a small river, up which it was hoped water might be procured. A boat was sent on shore, and on seeing her approach the natives came off and threw cocoa-nuts into her. While the pinnace remained here, the yawl was sent up to search for water, and soon returned with the casks full. Dampier afterwards sent ashore various articles, to purchase hogs, yams, and other roots; but the natives, although they admired axes and hatchets, would give only cocoa-nuts, and always made signs to their visitors to begone.
During another visit the natives showed more confidence. The men wore feathers in their heads, and had lances in their hands. The women had no ornaments, but wore bunches of green branches before and behind, on a string round their waists. They carried on their heads large baskets full of yams. During the next visit the people were more shy than at first. They had also carried off all the cocoa-nuts from the trees, and driven away the hogs. The sailors made signs to them, to know what had become of their hogs, when the natives, pointing to some houses at the bottom of the bay, intimated by the noises they made that there were hogs and goats up there, expressing by signs, such as holding out their hands at different distances from the ground, the animals they meant.
Wood was abundant; but though the natives fully understood the word cocoas, they did not bring any more. Dampier himself went on shore and visited some of their huts, which were poor buildings. The doors were made fast, as the inhabitants had fled. While he was thus employed, the men in the yawl filled two hogsheads and the barricoes, or breakers, with water. On his return on board, the officers and men requested leave to go and obtain the hogs; but he was unwilling to yield to their wishes, fearing that they would deal roughly with the natives. At last he consented, ordering them to act cautiously for their own safety, and to return at once should rain come on, to be exposed to which in that climate was considered dangerous. The great guns were got ready to cover them, should the natives appear hostile. As soon as the boat approached, the savages crowded to the shore, shaking their lances, some wading into the sea, holding up a shield in one hand and a lance in the other.
The sailors held up such commodities as were likely to attract them, but to no purpose, the natives still waved them off. The seamen at length, resolved to have some provisions, fired their muskets to scare them away. This had the desired effect, and all disappeared, with the exception of two or three, who still stood in a menacing posture. One, however, being shot in the arm, he dropped his target and ran off. None were seriously hurt, the object of the seamen being to frighten rather than injure the savages. They then landed, and found a number of tame hogs running about the house. Nine were shot, and with these, as it had begun to rain, they returned on board. In the evening, the rain having ceased, another party went on shore, when eight more hogs and a little live pig were captured. The natives by this time showed a disposition to be friendly, and brought down a number of cocoa-nuts, which they left on the shore.
These, with some nets and images, were brought off in a canoe. Next day the canoe was sent back with a couple of axes, two hatchets, some knives, looking-glasses, and other articles in her, thus amply repaying the natives for the provisions of which they had been deprived.
Sailing from the bay two days afterwards, a volcano was seen to the north-west sending forth a large pillar of fire, which shot up for two or three minutes, and then sank down until scarcely visible, then again rising and blazing as before. It was on an island, between which and the mainland, on the following day, the ship passed, there being a good channel between them.
All night the volcano vomited forth flame and smoke, and at every explosion a dreadful sound was heard like that of thunder. The intervals between these explosions were about half a minute. Some were faint in comparison to others, yet even the weakest vented a good deal of fire, and the largest made a roaring noise, and sent up a large flame thirty yards high, at the same time a stream of fire was seen running down the side of the mountain, reaching to the bottom.
The following day, as the ship had got to the other side, the stream of lava could no longer be perceived. Several other islands were seen and named. One was called Sir George Rooke's Island, another Crown Island, and a third Sir Robert Riche's Island.
On the 12th the sky looked very red, but soon after the sun was up there was a squall to windward, when on a sudden one of the men called out that he saw something astern. It was a waterspout beginning to work within a quarter of a mile of the ship in the wind's eye. She was at once put before the breeze. It came very swiftly, whirling the water up in a pillar about six or seven yards high. As yet no pendulous cloud from whence it might come could be seen. In about four or five minutes it came within a cable's length of the ship, when a long pale stream was observed descending from the clouds to the whirling water. Almost immediately afterwards the threatening column passed off to leeward.
After passing the island of Ceram about eight at night, a large vessel was seen on the weather side. As it was possible she might prove an enemy, the men went to their guns with matches lighted. The small arms were got upon the quarter-deck, and every preparation made for a fight; but as they were on opposite tacks, she was soon at a distance. The following morning, both vessels being becalmed, Dampier sent his yawl aboard the stranger, which proved to be a Chinese vessel, laden with rice, arrack, tea, porcelain, and other commodities, bound for Amboyna. The master gave the English a good deal of important information, and told them that the Dutch had settled at several places in the Eastern Archipelago.
The Roebuck was now steered for Batavia, as she required considerable repairs, having become foul and crazy, though it was not suspected in how rotten and ruinous a condition she was.
While here, Dampier heard that the Dutch had sent two vessels to capture him, supposing that he was a pirate.
The Roebuck sailed from Batavia on the 17th of October, and had a quick run across the Indian Ocean. On the 30th of December she reached the Cape of Good Hope, and from thence stood directly for Saint Helena, where she remained for some days. Just as she had made the island of Ascension, it was discovered that a dangerous leak had been sprung. The chain pumps were set going, but the water still gained on the crew. On the morning of the 23rd February, in the hopes of being able to stop the leak, the ship was steered in for the bay, and came to an anchor. Dampier devised a plan for stopping the leak; but either through the carelessness or ignorance of the carpenter, it was only made worse. Notwithstanding all his endeavours to check it, the water rushed in with such force that it was very evident the ship could not be kept afloat.
The boats were accordingly hoisted out, and the anchor being weighed, the vessel was warped in nearer the shore until she had only three fathoms and a half under her keel. A raft was now constructed to carry the men's chests and bedding ashore.
Before eight o'clock at night most of them had landed. In the morning the sails were unbent to make tents, and the next day a spring of fine water was found, and goats, land crabs, man-of-war birds, and boobies were seen; turtles in abundance could also be obtained, so that the ship's company had no fear of starving. Some lived in the tents, and others sheltered themselves in the holes of the rocks.
About a week after the crew landed two ships were seen, and Dampier ordered his men to turn a dozen turtles, should they send on shore; but they stood off the land.
He and his people resided on this island until the second of April, when eleven sail appeared to windward, but passed by. The day following three ships of war and an East Indiaman came into the bay and anchored.
Dampier, with about thirty-five of his men, went on board the Anglesey, while the rest were disposed of between the other two men-of-war. The Anglesey was bound for Barbadoes, where she arrived on the 8th of May, 1701. Dampier was extremely anxious, however, to get home to vindicate his character for the loss of his ship. In a short time he succeeded in obtaining a passage on board the Canterbury, East Indiaman, in which he at length reached England.
Although during his voyage he had made many important additions to geographical knowledge, he was much distressed at the loss of his ship and his papers; and, as the Earl of Pembroke no longer presided at the Admiralty, he obtained no reward for his services, nor promise of further employment. No one in authority seemed to consider that he had been sent to sea in a rotten old ship, unfit for the service, and that she had foundered not from any fault of his, but through sheer old age and decrepitude.
After the death of William the Third, followed by the War of the Spanish Succession, privateering was actively carried on. A company of merchants had fitted out two vessels, the Saint George and the Cinque Ports, to cruise against the Spaniards in the South Seas. The command of these vessels was given to Dampier,—a proof of the estimation in which he was held. He hoisted his flag in the former, which earned twenty-six guns and one hundred and twenty men. The other was commanded by Captain Stradling, who acted throughout very independently of his superior. They sailed from the Downs in April, 1703, but were kept some time at Kinsale, into which port they had put. It was not until September that they finally got to sea. Their first object was to capture the flotilla which sailed from Buenos Ayres, or, should they fail in so doing, to go round Cape Horn and wait for the treasure-ships from Baldivia, and to seize the famed Manilla galleon.
The ill-disciplined crew soon quarrelled among themselves, but Dampier managed to keep them in subjection, until, rounding Cape Horn, they reached Juan Fernandez. Here they encountered a French cruiser, which they attacked; but after a seven hours' fight she got away, both parties having suffered considerable loss. They afterwards failed to reach the latitude intended before the treasure-ships had sailed from Baldivia.
Their next enterprise, which was to surprise the fleet in the Bay of Santa Maria, also failed, although Dampier captured a few small vessels sailing thence. At Nocoya John Clipperton, Dampier's chief mate, ran off with the tender, carrying away his captain's commission, as well as most of the ammunition and stores.
The Saint George now sailed for the northward, and, to the great joy of the crew, espied the Manilla galleon. She was attacked, but the guns of the Saint George, carrying only five-pound shot, could do nothing against the twenty-four-pounders of the galleon, and, much shattered, she was compelled to haul off. The crew, now more than ever discontented at this misfortune, rose in mutiny; and Funnell, who was Dampier's steward, putting himself at their head, was allowed to take one of the prizes,—a brigantine of seventy guns and thirty-four men,— with a portion of the stores, guns, and ammunition, to sail for India.
Dampier had now but twenty-five men left, but, notwithstanding this, after refitting his vessel, he attacked and plundered the town of Puna. After this it was found that the Saint George was so unsound and rotten as to be unfit to keep at sea. He accordingly shipped her guns, ammunition, and stores into a brigantine which he had taken, and abandoned her. In his new vessel he sailed for the Indian Archipelago, where, not having his commission to show, he was seized by the Dutch and thrown into prison. At last, however, he obtained his freedom, and returned home poorer than when he set out; while the owners of the Saint George, who had gained nothing by the adventure, bitterly complained of her loss.
Dampier had now no longer sufficient interest to obtain the command of a ship; but another privateering expedition being set on foot by some Bristol merchants, who equipped two ships, the Duke and Duchess, he agreed to go as pilot.
The command was given to Captain Woodes Rogers, with whom Dampier sailed on board the Duke, of three hundred tons, thirty guns, and one hundred and seventy men. Captain Dover was her second captain, and she had three lieutenants. The Duchess was commanded by Captain Courtney, a gentleman of fortune, who had provided a large portion of the funds for the expedition. Mr Edward Cook went as her second captain, with three lieutenants. She was two hundred and seventy tons burden, and carried twenty-six guns, and one hundred and fifty-one men. Both ships had legal commissions from H.R.H. Prince George of Denmark, Lord High Admiral, to cruise on the coast of Peru and Mexico, in the South Seas, against Her Majesty's enemies, the French and Spaniards. The crews were of a mixed character and very undisciplined. One-third were foreigners of most nations, while of her Majesty's subjects there were tinkers, tailors, haymakers, pedlars, fiddlers, one negro, and about ten boys. It was hoped, notwithstanding, that as soon as they had learned the use of their arms and got their sea legs, they would be brought under discipline.
Showing a mutinous disposition, before long many of the crew had to be put in irons, and the rest taking warning, without any misadventure, both ships got round Cape Horn, and steered for the island of Juan Fernandez. Here it was their intention to obtain water. On coming off it at night they observed a fire on shore, which caused them much anxiety, as it was supposed that these were French ships there, which they must either engage or go without the water they so much needed. Some supposed that the fire was lighted by a Spanish garrison, others by a body of Frenchmen, or a crew of pirates. Both the ships were got ready to engage should it become necessary.
On beating up to the island in the morning, no strange ships were seen in either of the bays into which they could look. The voyagers accordingly came to the conclusion that if any ships had been there, they had made their escape during the night on seeing the approach of the English. Boats were sent on shore, and after some time the pinnace returned, bringing an abundance of crayfish, and a wild-looking man dressed in goat-skins.
Who this stranger was it soon became known. It will be remembered in the previous voyage made by Dampier, about four years before, that the Cinque Ports, commanded by Captain Stradling, separated from him. The master of this vessel was Alexander Selkirk, a Scotchman, born at Largs, in the county of Fife, who had been bred a sailor from his youth. He was considered by Dampier as the most experienced and best man on board. Having had a dispute with Captain Stradling, and considering from the leaky state of the Cinque Ports that she might never reach England, he had desired to be put on shore at this island of Juan Fernandez, with which he was well acquainted, having been there before to obtain wood and water.
After some reflection he changed his mind, and requested to be taken off again; but to this Captain Stradling would not consent, and the Cinque Ports sailing away, he was left to his fate.
No sooner did he come up the side than he was recognised by Captain Dampier, who was heartily glad to see him, and strongly recommended him to Captain Rogers, who at once gave him the rank of mate on board. He it was who had made the fire on shore the previous night on seeing the approach of the ships which he guessed were English.
During the four years he had been on the island he had not conversed with a single human being. On his first coming on board the Duke, he had so greatly forgotten his language that it was difficult to understand him, for he seemed to speak his words by halves. He was offered a dram, but would not touch it, having drunk nothing but water since his being left there. It was some time, indeed, before he could even relish the ship's provisions.
He had, during his stay, seen several vessels pass by, but only two came to an anchor. As he cautiously approached to discover their nationality, he found them to be Spaniards, and immediately retired; but having been seen, he was pursued, and had great difficulty in escaping from them. They followed him into the woods, where he climbed to the top of a tree close to the foot of which they passed in chase of some goats, which they shot, but failed to discover him.
When landed, he had with him his clothes and bedding, with a gun, some powder, bullets, and a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, and his Bible, besides some mathematical instruments and books. For the first eight months he had great difficulty in bearing up against the melancholy feelings which oppressed him at being left alone in so desert a place. He occupied himself, however, in building two huts with pimento-trees, which he covered with long grass, and lined with the skins of goats he had killed with his gun. He had, however, but a pound of powder, and when that was nearly expended he produced fire by rubbing two sticks of pimento-tree on his knee. The lesser hut served him as kitchen, and in the larger he slept and employed himself in reading, singing psalms, and praying; so that, as he remarked, he was a better Christian while in this solitude than he had ever been before.
At first he never ate until hungry, partly because his grief took away his appetite, and partly because he had neither bread nor salt. He also never went to bed until he could watch no longer. From the pimento wood he manufactured torches, which served him as a light at night, while he enjoyed its fragrant smell. He might have caught fish, but he could not eat them for want of salt, as they disagreed with him, except crayfish, which were as large as English lobsters, and very good. These he sometimes boiled, at others broiled, as he did his goat's flesh, with which he made very good broth.
He kept an account of five hundred goats which he had killed, and of as many more which he caught, and, having marked them on the ear, let go. When his powder failed, he caught the animals, nimble as they were, by chasing them, and from constant practice he ran with wonderful swiftness through the woods and up the rocks and hills. On one occasion, while thus engaged, he nearly lost his life by falling over a precipice. When he came to his senses, he found the goat dead under him. He there lay for twenty-four hours, and was then scarcely able to crawl to his hut, which was about a mile off. On reaching it he did not move again for ten days. He at last got accustomed to eat his meat without bread or salt. During the season he had plenty of good turnips, which had been sown by Captain Dampier's crew, and now covered several acres of ground. Cabbage-trees also afforded him good cabbage. He seasoned his food with the fruit of the pimento-trees, which is similar to Jamaica pepper. He also found black pepper, which had some useful medicinal qualities. On wearing out his shoes, not thinking it necessary to manufacture fresh ones, he went barefooted, and thus his feet became so hard that he could run over the roughest ground without suffering. When he first took to wearing them on board his feet swelled and caused him considerable uneasiness. He employed part of his time in cutting his name on trees, with the date of his landing, and other particulars. At first he was greatly annoyed by cats and rats, which had been landed from some ships touching there, and had now greatly increased. The rats gnawed his feet and clothes while he was asleep, so he bethought himself of encouraging the cats by giving them the goats' flesh. By this means so many of them became tame that they would assemble round him in hundreds, and kept the rats at bay. He likewise tamed some kids, and, to amuse himself, would now and then dance and sing with them and his cats.
When his clothes wore out, he made himself a coat and cap of goat-skins, which he stitched together with thongs of the same material. A nail served him for a needle. When, in time, his knife wore out from constant grinding, he made others of some iron hoops which had been left on shore. Finding in his chest some linen cloth, he manufactured some shirts, using a nail as a needle, and employing the worsted of an old stocking to stitch them, and he had his last shirt on when discovered. Had the vessels he had seen been Frenchmen he would have gone among them, but he preferred the risk of dying on the island to falling into the hands of Spaniards, who would, he believed, have murdered him, or made him a slave in the mines, as they were supposed to treat all the strangers they could get hold of.
He described the climate as genial, the winter lasting only during June and July, when there was but little frost, though occasionally heavy rains. He saw no venomous or savage creature on the island, the only beasts, besides rats and cats, being goats, the ancestors of which had been left there by Juan Fernandez, the discoverer. Besides the pimento-trees, some of which were sixty feet high, and some large cotton-trees, the only trees of value were some bearing black plums, which, however, growing among the mountains and rocks, were difficult to get at. The trees and grass were verdant all the year round, and it was evident that the soil was fertile in the extreme.
Alexander Selkirk was the true original of Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe." He afterwards entered the Royal Navy as a lieutenant, but obtained no higher rank.
Many of the men who had been suffering from scurvy were here landed and sheltered in tents, and by means of two or three goats which Selkirk caught for them each day, and the vegetables with which they were supplied, they soon recovered.
Sailing from Juan Fernandez, a look-out was kept for Spanish vessels. Quarrels and disputes arose among the officers, but they were settled by the judicious management of the captain, and by the sensible regulations laid down for their government.
On the ist of April they took a vessel of five hundred tons, laden with dry goods and negroes, commanded by two brothers, Joseph and John Morel. Many others were taken, differing in value. From these they gained useful information as to the condition of the various places on the coast. Their first exploit was an attack on the town of Guayaquil, when Dampier commanded the artillery. Though the Spaniards were prepared, it was captured without much loss of life, the soldiers, notwithstanding that they numbered many more than the English, having fled into the woods at the approach of the invaders. The vessels getting up the river, the guns were brought to bear on the town, by which the privateers had it completely in their power, when, having taken possession instead of burning it down, they offered to ransom it for twenty-seven thousand dollars, besides the plunder they picked up, which amounted to the value of about two thousand pounds. These terms were agreed to, and the money paid to them. They likewise sold the goods taken on board their various prizes to the Morels and the other Spaniards, though at a quarter of their value. But this was better than destroying the merchandise which they could not carry off. Sailing northward, the Duke and Duchess, with one of the prizes which they had fitted out as a ship of war, attacked a Manilla galleon with number of merchants and several ladies on board. She carried twenty guns, twenty pattereroes, and one hundred and ninety-three men. After an engagement which lasted about three glases, she struck her colours, having nine men killed, ten wounded, and several blown up with powder. Captain Rogers was himself badly wounded in the face, and one man was slightly wounded. The prize was called by the high-sounding name of Nuestra Senora de la Incarnation Disenganio. Though not so richly-laden as they had expected, the silks, satin, and china not having arrived at Manilla before she sailed, she still contained in gold and silver to the value of twelve thousand pounds, besides other articles of commerce. She was carried into Porto Seguro, where the more valuable part of her cargo was transferred to the privateers. Her passengers, especially the ladies, were so well treated, that they warmly expressed their gratitude. Indeed, both on this occasion and at Guayaquil, the females who fell into the power of the privateers experienced no injury.
From the prisoners they learned that another larger and far more richly-laden galleon was coming from Manilla, but it was stated that she had already reached her destination. This, however, Captain Rogers did not believe. Leaving a guard in charge of the prisoners on board a prize in the harbour, the Duke and Duchess, with another vessel called the Marquis, which had been fitted out, put to sea, to watch for the Manilla ship. Before long a stranger was seen approaching, and the other vessels being at a distance, she mistook the Duke for her consort, the galleon lately captured, and allowed Captain Rogers to get up to her.
He attacked her gallantly, but she was heavily armed and strongly manned, and, before he could venture to run alongside, had triced up her boarding nettings.
The Duchess and Marquis soon came up and joined the fight, but after engaging her for seven hours and making with their small shot but little impression on her thick hull, the captain agreed that it would be folly to run the risk of losing their masts, and therefore, hanging on to her until dark, so as to prevent her entering Porto Seguro, they edged away, and allowed her to escape without further molestation. She proved to be the Vigonia, of about nine hundred tons, carrying forty heavy guns and as many pattereroes, with a crew of about four hundred and fifty men.
Captain Rogers was here again wounded. The crew of the galleon were well protected by bales placed between the guns. How many men she lost it was impossible to ascertain, but two were seen to drop from the tops.
On the 10th of January the three ships sailed from Porto Seguro, and steered for the island of Guam, where they arrived on the 10th of March. They anchored under Spanish colours, but on making themselves known were well received by the Governor, who treated them with perfect confidence and supplied them with provisions, they in return entertaining him and his officers on board, while the English were courteously received on shore. Thence they sailed by the north of Gilolo, stopping at Bouton to take in provisions and water, till they reached Batavia. Here the surgeon and several other persons died of fever, contracted on shore. The Marquis was found to be so rotten that her goods were transferred to the other two vessels, and she was sold.
At the end of October they left Java, and putting into the Cape, waited there for the homeward-bound fleet, in company with which—twenty-five sail in all, Dutch and English—after passing round to the north of Shetland, they anchored in the Texel in July of the following year.
Here they had to wait for some time for a convoy, but at length, on the 14th of October, the two ships came to an anchor off Erith, thus ending their long and perilous voyage.
Their skilful and talented pilot probably landed here, but from that day forward nothing of his history is known. Owing to the falsehoods and misstatements published by Clipperton and Funnell, his character has been much maligned. He, too, probably died in poverty, as he was already advanced in life on his return from his last voyage; and the prize money obtained was not distributed until eight or nine years afterwards.
He bitterly repented of his early life among the buccaneers; even when with them his conduct was always humane; and he was induced to remain in their company more for the sake of adventure than for obtaining booty. He at all events escaped from that hardness of moral feeling which is too generally the consequence of associating with abandoned companions.
Few voyagers have added so much to our knowledge of distant parts of the world, and the accuracy of his remarks has been acknowledged by all those who have visited the countries he describes.
His conduct must not be judged by the opinions of the present day, when even privateering is looked down upon and condemned by all right thinking men. Whatever his countrymen may have thought of him, foreign voyagers speak of him in the highest terms. Humboldt says that no navigator could be compared to him. Malte-Bran terms him the learned Dampier, and French and Dutch discoverers style him the incomparable, the eminent, the skilful, the exact Dampier.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.
ANSON'S VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH SEA—A.D. 1740.
War with Spain—Original plan of expedition abandoned—The Centurion and other ships ordered to form a squadron under Commodore Anson— Miserable equipment—Ships overladen—Drop down Channel—Cross Atlantic, and pass through the Straits of Le Maire—Bad weather comes on—Two of the ships nearly wrecked—Severn and Pearl lost sight of—Centurion in fearful danger—Scurvy breaks out, and numbers die— Anchors at Juan Fernandez—The sick landed—The Trial joins her—Goats found marked by Alexander Selkirk—The Gloucester comes off the island—Long time in getting in—The Anna Pink appears—The Centurion goes in chase of a stranger—Takes a prize—Crew and stores of the Anna Pink transferred to Centurion—The Trial takes a prize, and crew and stores being removed into the prize, she is destroyed—Females taken on board a prize courteously treated—Paita attacked and captured—The seamen dress up in the Spaniards' clothes— Booty taken—The town burnt—Spaniards acknowledge Anson's generous treatment of his female prisoners—The squadron lays in wait for the Manilla galleon—Negroes enter on board as seamen—Miss the galleon— Preparations for crossing the Pacific—Prizes turned adrift—The Gloucester abandoned—Her crew taken on board Centurion—Scurvy again breaks out—Fearful mortality—The Ladrones sighted—Centurion brings up off Tinian—Sick landed—She is driven out to sea—Great anxiety—A vessel commenced—The ship appears—Reaches Macao—Repaired— Fresh men shipped—Sails to watch for the galleon—Her capture—The Centurion on fire—Anson's coolness—Sails with his prize for Canton— Roguery of the Chinese—Anson and his men extinguish a fire at Canton— Sails for England—Hears of the war with France—Narrow escape from a French fleet.
War with Spain having been declared towards the end of 1739, it was proposed to fit out two squadrons, one under the command of Captain Cornwall, to sail round the Cape of Good Hope and attack Manilla, and the other under Captain Anson, then commanding the Centurion, to sail into the Pacific, round Cape Horn, to injure the settlements of the Spaniards on the west coast of South America, and to destroy their trade. The two squadrons were afterwards to meet to carry out together whatever might be deemed advisable. The first part of the scheme was soon abandoned, and Commodore Anson's squadron alone was ordered to proceed into the South Sea.
Captain Anson's family was little known. He was not supposed to possess even brilliant talents, for "he was," as Earl Stanhope writes of him, "dull in conversation and slow in business, but he had undaunted bravery, steady application, and cool judgment. He punctually followed his instructions and zealously discharged his duty, and by these qualities—qualities within the attainment of all—he rose to well-earned honours, and bequeathed an unsullied renown. He thus deserves to be held forth to British seamen as an example of what may be accomplished by industry, courage, and love of their profession."
The squadron consisted of the Centurion, of sixty guns and four hundred men, on board of which the commodore flew his broad pennant; the Gloucester and Severn, each of fifty guns; the Pearl, of forty; the Wager, of twenty-eight; and the Trial sloop, of eight guns. There were also two victuallers to carry provisions, to be taken on board the squadron when there was room to receive them.
Besides the seamen, there were four hundred and seventy invalids and marines. Five hundred of the former unfortunates, notwithstanding that the commodore strongly protested against such unsuitable men being sent, were ordered to embark, many of them out-pensioners from Chelsea, but two hundred and forty who had sufficient strength to get away escaped, their places being supplied by two hundred and ten marines—raw, undrilled recruits, who had not yet been allowed to use firearms. They were placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Crackerode. Many of the poor worn-out old pensioners shed tears as they marched on board, feeling their utter unfitness for the duty they were called upon to perform. Indeed, out of the whole number, not a single man returned. The squadron, after many delays, sailed from Saint Helen's on the 16th of September, 1740. Having touched at Madeira, they anchored on the 18th of December off the island of Santa Catalina, on the coast of Brazil.
On touching at Madeira, Commodore Anson learned from the Governor that a squadron of Spanish ships, commanded by Don Josef Pizarro, had been sent out to attack them. This expedition, however, met with a lamentable fate.
Anson's crews suffered greatly from the ships being so deeply laden that the ports could not be opened to admit air. As soon as they arrived at Santa Catalina, the tents were erected on the shore, and the sick men sent into them. The ships were also repaired, some of the guns sent down below, and the stores taken on board.
In about a month the squadron again sailed. Having put into Fort Saint Julian to obtain salt and fresh water, a council of war was held, when the commodore proposed to the captains under him that they should attack the town of Baldivia, the most southern place on the coast of Chili. On the 1st of March, Cape Virgin Mary was sighted, at the entrance to the Straits of Magellan. The weather at that time was beautiful, but it was remarked in those southern latitudes that fair weather was always of short duration, and was a certain presage of a succeeding storm. On the 7th of March they were passing along the coast of Staten Island, which surpasses all others in the wildness and horrors of its appearance. It seems to be composed entirely of rocks, terminating in a vast number of rugged points, which tower up to a prodigious height, all covered with everlasting snow, while the points themselves are surrounded with frightful precipices. The hills appear as if rent by earthquakes, with nearly perpendicular chasms dividing them, reaching almost to their very bottoms, so that nothing can be imagined more savage and gloomy than the whole aspect of this coast.
Favoured by a strong current and brisk breeze, the squadron passed through the Straits of Le Maire in about two hours, and the voyagers flattered themselves that the chief difficulty of their undertaking was over, their hopeful ideas being heightened by the brightness of the sky and the serenity of the weather. Scarcely, however, were they through the straits than the wind began to blow in violent squalls, while the tide rapidly drove the ships to the eastward. It was with the greatest difficulty that the Wager and Anna Pink escaped being dashed to pieces against the shores of Staten Island. The sea rose into mountainous billows, and the ship rolling gunwale to, threatened to dash the men to pieces against the decks or sides, several, indeed, being killed and others greatly injured.
After some time the gale subsided, but on the 23rd again broke out with redoubled violence, the mainsail of the Centurion being split to rags. Storm succeeded storm. For a long time the squadron endeavoured to beat against the easterly gales, during which the Severn and Pearl were separated from them and never more seen. To add a finishing-stroke to their misfortunes, the scurvy broke out among the storm-tossed crew. At first it began to carry off two or three a day, but at last eight or ten died in twenty-four hours.
Most of the survivors were suffering from the same distemper, and the few who preserved their health were quite worn out with incessant labour. Sometimes four or five dead bodies, some sewn up in their hammocks, others not, were to be seen washing about the decks for want of help to bury them in the sea. Notwithstanding this, the Gloucester was the only ship which suffered much, by carrying away her mainyard; but on the 7th of April several guns were heard to leeward, and it was soon seen that the Wager had lost her mizenmast and main-topsail yard, while the Anna Pink had had her bowsprit so injured that there was a risk of her losing her fore-topmast. By this time the weather had moderated, and assistance was sent to the disabled ships.
On the 8th of May the island of Soccoro was sighted off the coast of Patagonia, a barren and inhospitable region, the shore being lined with rocks, above which the snow-covered Andes could be seen in the distance. By this time scurvy had destroyed no less than two hundred men. In vain the Centurion cruised for the missing ships, and at last stood for the island of Juan Fernandez; but it was passed during thick weather, and it was not until the 9th of June that it was at length discovered. While the Centurion was endeavouring to find the right bay in which to anchor, the current set her so close to the shore that she was compelled to bring up. In the morning a lieutenant with a boat's crew was sent to try and discover the proper anchorage. He returned with some seals and grass, which was eagerly devoured by the men suffering from scurvy. So weak were all the crew that it was with great difficulty that the anchor could be weighed, nor indeed was it tripped until assisted by a strong breeze. They here found the Trial sloop. Her commander came on board and stated that out of his small crew he had buried thirty-four men, and that those who remained were so weak, that only himself, his lieutenant, and three of his men were able to handle the sails.
Tents having been erected, the healthy men were employed in carrying the sick on shore. It was hoped that they would at once be restored to health; but for the first ten or twelve days rarely less than six were buried each day, and it was not until they had been twenty days on shore that the survivors began to recover.
Anson, who had brought a number of seeds and fruit-stones, at once had them planted for the benefit of those who might afterwards visit the spot. Anson's people found the island still abounding with goats, and among the first killed was one which had its ears slit, by which they concluded that it was one of those which Alexander Selkirk had captured no less than thirty-two years before their arrival. It was indeed an animal of majestic appearance, dignified with a venerable beard and many other signs of antiquity.
Several others, also marked, were met with, they all having long beards and other characteristics of extreme age. The goats had no longer the island to themselves; for dogs had been landed which had increased so greatly that they disputed the territory with the former occupants, hunting together in packs. A curious spectacle was witnessed when one of these packs made chase after a herd of goats which escaped to the mountains. Here the active animals took refuge on a ridge which was accessible only by a narrow path, skirted on each side with precipices. On the top of the path a long-bearded he-goat posted himself fronting the enemy. The dogs, which had pursued eagerly, got up to about twenty yards from him, when, seeing his determined attitude, they dared approach no nearer, and laid themselves down, panting, well knowing that he would hurl them down the precipice, should they venture to attack him. The dogs, it was suspected, lived entirely on seals' flesh, for several which were killed and eaten had a fishy taste. As the goats, taking refuge in the more inaccessible parts of the country, could with difficulty be killed, the crews subsisted on the flesh of the young seals, which they called veal, and on that of the sea-lions, which was denominated beef. Large numbers of fish were also caught with lines.
The Trial sloop having so quickly joined the Centurion, it was hoped that the rest of the squadron would appear; but a fortnight passed, and none being seen, the worst was feared as to their fate. On the 21st of June, however, a ship was perceived to leeward of the island, but she disappeared. It was not until the 26th that a sail was again seen; it was found to be the Gloucester, and a boat was immediately sent off laden with fresh water, fish, and vegetables. This seasonable supply saved the lives of the survivors on board her. She had already thrown overboard two-thirds of her complement. Excepting the officers and their servants, scarcely any were capable of doing duty. Every one of the pensioners had died, and most of the marines. For many weeks afterwards, however, though several of the Centurion's crew were sent to her assistance with further refreshments, she was unable to beat up to the anchorage. It was not until the 23rd of July that she at length got into the bay. Her crew were now reduced to less than eighty men. The sick, on being landed and well supplied with fresh provisions, recovered sooner than was expected. Great anxiety was now felt on account of the non-appearance of the Anna Pink, laden with provisions, as the flour on board the other ships was almost exhausted. At last, about the middle of August, she came in, having spent the greater part of the intermediate period in harbour on the coast of Patagonia, where the wild animals, killed by the crew, supplied them with abundance of meat. None of her men had died.
The Anna Pink was now broken up and her stores transferred to the Centurion, which stood in great need of them, as it had been with much difficulty that a fresh suit of sails had been made out of the canvas remaining on board; it had been even necessary to unlay a cable to obtain sufficient ropes for her rigging.
It was now computed that of the nine hundred and sixty-one men who had left England in the Centurion, Gloucester, and Trial, six hundred and twenty-six were dead, three hundred and thirty-five thus alone remaining to man the three ships.
Brave as Anson was, he could not but dread lest he should, with his diminished crews, fall in with Don Pizarro's squadron, not aware at the time of its fate, which had been even worse than his own.
A vessel being seen in the north-east, which, having got near the island, steered away towards the coast, it was concluded that she was Spanish. On this Anson resolved to give her chase, and his crew, hurrying on board the Centurion, bent sails, and by five in the afternoon was under weigh.
For three days the chase was continued, when the stranger made her escape. On steering back towards Juan Fernandez, the Centurion, however, made out another sail, which at first bore down upon her. Supposing that she was one of Pizarro's squadron, every preparation was made for an engagement. On getting nearer, however, it was discovered that she was a merchantman, and four shots quickly brought her to. She was found to be laden with sugar and blue cloth, with a few other articles. Besides this there were several trunks containing silver, the value of which amounted to seventy thousand pounds. Beside the treasure obtained, Anson had the satisfaction of hearing of the destruction of Pizarro's squadron, and that there was no chance of being molested by any men-of-war. By means of intercepted letters and the information obtained from the prisoners, it was found that several other richly-laden vessels were likely soon to sail from Callao to Valparaiso. To obtain the best chance of capturing them, Anson ordered his ships to cruise separately, the Gloucester being directed to take up her station off Paita, out of sight of land. On the 19th of September the Centurion, accompanied by the Carmelo, her prize, put to sea. Four days afterwards two ships were seen, one of which, a powerful vessel, stood towards them. The crew of the Centurion went to their quarters, but as the stranger could not escape, they were ordered not to fire. Being hailed in Spanish, an answer came from Mr Hughes, a lieutenant of the Trial, who gave them the welcome intelligence that she was a prize to that ship, having been captured after a long chase. She measured six hundred tons, being one of the largest merchantmen employed in those seas, and had on board five thousand pounds sterling. The Trial had, however, sprung all her masts, but, bad weather coming on, no assistance could for some time be rendered her. When at length the weather moderated, her commander came on board, and representing her leaky and unseaworthy state, requested that he and his crew might be transferred to the ship which he had just taken, which was now called the Trial's Prize. To this the commander agreed, and the guns, stores, and everything of value were removed on board the prize. Having returned to Juan Fernandez, the Centurion again put to sea, and shortly afterwards captured another prize, but of no great value. She had three ladies on board, a mother and two daughters, who were in a dreadful fright on seeing the English, but the honourable treatment they received from Anson and his officers soon quieted their fears.