We were just gotten clear of the Philippines, and we purposed to go to the isle of Formosa, but the wind blew so fresh at N.N.E. that there was no making anything of it, and we were forced to put back to Laconia, the most northerly of those islands. We rode here very secure, and shifted our situation, not in view of any danger, for there was none, but for a better supply of provisions, which we found the people very willing to supply us with.
There lay, while we remained here, three very great galleons, or Spanish ships, from the south seas; whether newly come in or ready to sail we could not understand at first; but as we found the China traders began to load and set forward to the north, we concluded the Spanish ships had newly unloaded their cargo, and these had been buying; so we doubted not but we should meet with purchase in the rest of the voyage, neither, indeed, could we well miss of it.
We stayed here till the beginning of May, when we were told the Chinese traders would set forward; for the northern monsoons end about the latter end of March or beginning of April; so that they are sure of fair winds home. Accordingly we hired some of the country boats, which are very swift sailers, to go and bring us word how affairs stood at Manilla, and when the China junks would sail; and by this intelligence we ordered our matters so well, that three days after we set sail we fell in with no less than eleven of them; out of which, however, having by misfortune of discovering ourselves, taken but three, we contented ourselves and pursued our voyage to Formosa. In these three vessels we took, in short, such a quantity of cloves, nutmegs, cinnamon, and mace, besides silver, that our men began to be of my opinion,—that we were rich enough; and, in short, we had nothing to do now but to consider by what methods to secure the immense treasure we had got.
I was secretly glad to hear that they were of this opinion, for I had long before resolved, if it were possible, to persuade them to think of returning, having fully perfected my first projected design of rummaging among the Spice Islands; and all those prizes, which were exceeding rich at Manilla, was quite beyond my design.
But now I had heard what the men said, and how they thought we were very well, I let them know by friend William, that I intended only to sail to the island of Formosa, where I should find opportunity to turn our spices and Europe goods into ready money, and that then I would tack about for the south, the northern monsoons being perhaps by that time also ready to set in. They all approved of my design, and willingly went forward; because, besides the winds, which would not permit until October to go to the south, I say, besides this, we were now a very deep ship, having near two hundred ton of goods on board, and particularly, some very valuable; the sloop also had a proportion.
With this resolution we went on cheerfully, when, within about twelve days' sail more, we made the island Formosa, at a great distance, but were ourselves shot beyond the southernmost part of the island, being to leeward, and almost upon the coast of China. Here we were a little at a loss, for the English factories were not far off, and we might be obliged to fight some of their ships, if we met with them; which, though we were able enough to do, yet we did not desire it on many accounts, and particularly because we did not think it was our business to have it known who we were, or that such a kind of people as we had been seen on the coast. However, we were obliged to keep to the northward, keeping as good an offing as we could with respect to the coast of China.
We had not sailed long but we chased a small Chinese junk, and having taken her, we found she was bound to the island of Formosa, having no goods on board but some rice and a small quantity of tea; but she had three Chinese merchants in her; and they told us that they were going to meet a large vessel of their country, which came from Tonquin, and lay in a river in Formosa, whose name I forgot; and they were going to the Philippine Islands, with silks, muslins, calicoes, and such goods as are the product of China, and some gold; that their business was to sell their cargo, and buy spices and European goods.
This suited very well with our purpose; so I resolved now that we would leave off being pirates and turn merchants; so we told them what goods we had on board, and that if they would bring their supercargoes or merchants on board, we would trade with them. They were very willing to trade with us, but terribly afraid to trust us; nor was it an unjust fear, for we had plundered them already of what they had. On the other hand, we were as diffident as they, and very uncertain what to do; but William the Quaker put this matter into a way of barter. He came to me and told me he really thought the merchants looked like fair men, that meant honestly. "And besides," says William, "it is their interest to be honest now, for, as they know upon what terms we got the goods we are to truck with them, so they know we can afford good pennyworths; and in the next place, it saves them going the whole voyage, so that the southerly monsoons yet holding, if they traded with us, they could immediately return with their cargo to China;" though, by the way, we afterwards found they intended for Japan; but that was all one, for by this means they saved at least eight months' voyage. Upon these foundations, William said he was satisfied we might trust them; "for," says William, "I would as soon trust a man whose interest binds him to be just to me as a man whose principle binds himself." Upon the whole, William proposed that two of the merchants should be left on board our ship as hostages, and that part of our goods should be loaded in their vessel, and let the third go with it into the port where their ship lay; and when he had delivered the spices, he should bring back such things as it was agreed should be exchanged. This was concluded on, and William the Quaker ventured to go along with them, which, upon my word, I should not have cared to have done, nor was I willing that he should, but he went still upon the notion that it was their interest to treat him friendly.
In the meantime, we came to an anchor under a little island in the latitude of 23 degrees 28 minutes, being just under the northern tropic, and about twenty leagues from the island. Here we lay thirteen days, and began to be very uneasy for my friend William, for they had promised to be back again in four days, which they might very easily have done. However, at the end of thirteen days, we saw three sail coming directly to us, which a little surprised us all at first, not knowing what might be the case; and we began to put ourselves in a posture of defence; but as they came nearer us, we were soon satisfied, for the first vessel was that which William went in, who carried a flag of truce; and in a few hours they all came to an anchor, and William came on board us with a little boat, with the Chinese merchant in his company, and two other merchants, who seemed to be a kind of brokers for the rest.
Here he gave us an account how civilly he had been used; how they had treated him with all imaginable frankness and openness; that they had not only given him the full value of his spices and other goods which he carried, in gold, by good weight, but had loaded the vessel again with such goods as he knew we were willing to trade for; and that afterwards they had resolved to bring the great ship out of the harbour, to lie where we were, that so we might make what bargain we thought fit; only William said he had promised, in our name, that we should use no violence with them, nor detain any of the vessels after we had done trading with them. I told him we would strive to outdo them in civility, and that we would make good every part of his agreement; in token whereof, I caused a white flag likewise to be spread at the poop of our great ship, which was the signal agreed on.
As to the third vessel which came with them, it was a kind of bark of the country, who, having intelligence of our design to traffic, came off to deal with us, bringing a great deal of gold and some provisions, which at that time we were very glad of.
In short, we traded upon the high seas with these men, and indeed we made a very good market, and yet sold thieves' pennyworths too. We sold here about sixty ton of spice, chiefly cloves and nutmegs, and above two hundred bales of European goods, such as linen and woollen manufactures. We considered we should have occasion for some such things ourselves, and so we kept a good quantity of English stuffs, cloth, baize, &c., for ourselves. I shall not take up any of the little room I have left here with the further particulars of our trade; it is enough to mention, that, except a parcel of tea, and twelve bales of fine China wrought silks, we took nothing in exchange for our goods but gold; so that the sum we took here in that glittering commodity amounted to above fifty thousand ounces good weight.
When we had finished our barter, we restored the hostages, and gave the three merchants about the quantity of twelve hundredweight of nutmegs, and as many of cloves, with a handsome present of European linen and stuff for themselves, as a recompense for what we had taken from them; so we sent them away exceedingly well satisfied.
Here it was that William gave me an account, that while he was on board the Japanese vessel, he met with a kind of religious, or Japan priest, who spoke some words of English to him; and, being very inquisitive to know how he came to learn any of those words, he told him that there was in his country thirteen Englishmen; he called them Englishmen very articulately and distinctly, for he had conversed with them very frequently and freely. He said that they were all that were left of two-and-thirty men, who came on shore on the north side of Japan, being driven upon a great rock in a stormy night, where they lost their ship, and the rest of their men were drowned; that he had persuaded the king of his country to send boats off to the rock or island where the ship was lost, to save the rest of the men, and to bring them on shore, which was done, and they were used very kindly, and had houses built for them, and land given them to plant for provision; and that they lived by themselves.
He said he went frequently among them, to persuade them to worship their god (an idol, I suppose, of their own making), which, he said, they ungratefully refused; and that therefore the king had once or twice ordered them all to be put to death; but that, as he said, he had prevailed upon the king to spare them, and let them live their own way, as long as they were quiet and peaceable, and did not go about to withdraw others from the worship of the country.
I asked William why he did not inquire from whence they came. "I did," said William; "for how could I but think it strange," said he, "to hear him talk of Englishmen on the north side of Japan?" "Well," said I, "what account did he give of it?" "An account," said William, "that will surprise thee, and all the world after thee, that shall hear of it, and which makes me wish thou wouldst go up to Japan and find them out." "What do you mean?" said I. "Whence could they come?" "Why," says William, "he pulled out a little book, and in it a piece of paper, where it was written, in an Englishman's hand, and in plain English words, thus; and," says William, "I read it myself:—'We came from Greenland, and from the North Pole.'" This, indeed, was amazing to us all, and more so to those seamen among us who knew anything of the infinite attempts which had been made from Europe, as well by the English as the Dutch, to discover a passage that way into those parts of the world; and as William pressed as earnestly to go on to the north to rescue those poor men, so the ship's company began to incline to it; and, in a word, we all came to this, that we would stand in to the shore of Formosa, to find this priest again, and have a further account of it all from him. Accordingly, the sloop went over; but when they came there, the vessels were very unhappily sailed, and this put an end to our inquiry after them, and perhaps may have disappointed mankind of one of the most noble discoveries that ever was made, or will again be made, in the world, for the good of mankind in general; but so much for that.
William was so uneasy at losing this opportunity, that he pressed us earnestly to go up to Japan to find out these men. He told us that if it was nothing but to recover thirteen honest poor men from a kind of captivity, which they would otherwise never be redeemed from, and where, perhaps, they might, some time or other, be murdered by the barbarous people, in defence of their idolatry, it were very well worth our while, and it would be, in some measure, making amends for the mischiefs we had done in the world; but we, that had no concern upon us for the mischiefs we had done, had much less about any satisfactions to be made for it, so he found that kind of discourse would weigh very little with us. Then he pressed us very earnestly to let him have the sloop to go by himself, and I told him I would not oppose it; but when he came to the sloop none of the men would go with him; for the case was plain, they had all a share in the cargo of the great ship, as well as in thae of the sloop, and the richness of the cargo was such that they would not leave it by any means; so poor William, much to his mortification, was obliged to give it over. What became of those thirteen men, or whether they are not there still, I can give no account of.
We are now at the end of our cruise; what we had taken was indeed so considerable, that it was not only enough to satisfy the most covetous and the most ambitious minds in the world, but it did indeed satisfy us, and our men declared they did not desire any more. The next motion, therefore, was about going back, and the way by which we should perform the voyage, so as not to be attacked by the Dutch in the Straits of Sunda.
We had pretty well stored ourselves here with provisions, and it being now near the return of the monsoons, we resolved to stand away to the southward; and not only to keep without the Philippine Islands, that is to say, to the eastward of them, but to keep on to the southward, and see if we could not leave not only the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, behind us, but even Nova Guinea and Nova Hollandia also; and so getting into the variable winds, to the south of the tropic of Capricorn, steer away to the west, over the great Indian Ocean.
This was indeed at first a monstrous voyage in its appearance, and the want of provisions threatened us. William told us in so many words, that it was impossible we could carry provisions enough to subsist us for such a voyage, and especially fresh water; and that, as there would be no land for us to touch at where we could get any supply, it was a madness to undertake it.
But I undertook to remedy this evil, and therefore desired them not to be uneasy at that, for I knew that we might supply ourselves at Mindanao, the most southerly island of the Philippines.
Accordingly, we set sail, having taken all the provisions here that we could get, the 28th of September, the wind veering a little at first from the N.N.W. to the N.E. by E., but afterwards settled about the N.E. and the E.N.E. We were nine weeks in this voyage, having met with several interruptions by the weather, and put in under the lee of a small island in the latitude of 16 degrees 12 minutes, of which we never knew the name, none of our charts having given any account of it: I say, we put in here by reason of a strange tornado or hurricane, which brought us into a great deal of danger. Here we rode about sixteen days, the winds being very tempestuous and the weather uncertain. However, we got some provisions on shore, such as plants and roots, and a few hogs. We believed there were inhabitants on the island, but we saw none of them.
From hence, the weather settling again, we went on and came to the southernmost part of Mindanao, where we took in fresh water and some cows, but the climate was so hot that we did not attempt to salt up any more than so as to keep a fortnight or three weeks; and away we stood southward, crossing the line, and, leaving Gillolo on the starboard side, we coasted the country they call New Guinea, where, in the latitude of eight degrees south, we put in again for provisions and water, and where we found inhabitants; but they fled from us, and were altogether inconversable. From thence, sailing still southward, we left all behind us that any of our charts and maps took any notice of, and went on till we came to the latitude of seventeen degrees, the wind continuing still north-east.
Here we made land to the westward, which, when we had kept in sight for three days, coasting along the shore for the distance of about four leagues, we began to fear we should find no outlet west, and so should be obliged to go back again, and put in among the Moluccas at last; but at length we found the land break off, and go trending away to the west sea, seeming to be all open to the south and south-west, and a great sea came rolling out of the south, which gave us to understand that there was no land for a great way.
In a word, we kept on our course to the south, a little westerly, till we passed the south tropic, where we found the winds variable; and now we stood away fair west, and held it out for about twenty days, when we discovered land right ahead, and on our larboard bow; we made directly to the shore, being willing to take all advantages now for supplying ourselves with fresh provisions and water, knowing we were now entering on that vast unknown Indian Ocean, perhaps the greatest sea on the globe, having, with very little interruption of islands, a continued sea quite round the globe.
We found a good road here, and some people on shore; but when we landed, they fled up the country, nor would they hold any correspondence with us, nor come near us, but shot at us several times with arrows as long as lances. We set up white flags for a truce, but they either did not or would not understand it; on the contrary, they shot our flag of truce through several times with their arrows, so that, in a word, we never came near any of them.
We found good water here, though it was something difficult to get at it, but for living creatures we could see none; for the people, if they had any cattle, drove them all away, and showed us nothing but themselves, and that sometimes in a threatening posture, and in number so great, that made us suppose the island to be greater than we first imagined. It is true, they would not come near enough for us to engage with them, at least not openly; but they came near enough for us to see them, and, by the help of our glasses, to see that they were clothed and armed, but their clothes were only about their lower and middle parts; that they had long lances, half pikes, in their hands, besides bows and arrows; that they had great high things on their heads, made, as we believed, of feathers, and which looked something like our grenadiers' caps in England.
When we saw them so shy that they would not come near us, our men began to range over the island, if it was such (for we never surrounded it), to search for cattle, and for any of the Indian plantations, for fruits or plants; but they soon found, to their cost, that they were to use more caution than that came to, and that they were to discover perfectly every bush and every tree before they ventured abroad in the country; for about fourteen of our men going farther than the rest, into a part of the country which seemed to be planted, as they thought, for it did but seem so, only I think it was overgrown with canes, such as we make our cane chairs with—I say, venturing too far, they were suddenly attacked with a shower of arrows from almost every side of them, as they thought, out of the tops of the trees.
They had nothing to do but to fly for it, which, however, they could not resolve on, till five of them were wounded; nor had they escaped so, if one of them had not been so much wiser or thoughtfuller than the rest, as to consider, that though they could not see the enemy, so as to shoot at them, yet perhaps the noise of their shot might terrify them, and that they should rather fire at a venture. Accordingly, ten of them faced about, and fired at random anywhere among the canes.
The noise and the fire not only terrified the enemy, but, as they believed, their shot had luckily hit some of them; for they found not only that the arrows, which came thick among them before, ceased, but they heard the Indians halloo, after their way, to one another, and make a strange noise, more uncouth and inimitably strange than any they had ever heard, more like the howling and barking of wild creatures in the woods than like the voice of men, only that sometimes they seemed to speak words.
They observed also, that this noise of the Indians went farther and farther off, so that they were satisfied the Indians fled away, except on one side, where they heard a doleful groaning and howling, and where it continued a good while, which they supposed was from some or other of them being wounded, and howling by reason of their wounds; or killed, and others howling over them: but our men had enough of making discoveries; so they did not trouble themselves to look farther, but resolved to take this opportunity to retreat. But the worst of their adventure was to come; for as they came back, they passed by a prodigious great trunk of an old tree; what tree it was, they said, they did not know, but it stood like an old decayed oak in a park, where the keepers in England take a stand, as they call it, to shoot a deer; and it stood just under the steep side of a great rock, or hill, that our people could not see what was beyond it.
As they came by this tree, they were of a sudden shot at, from the top of the tree, with seven arrows and three lances, which, to our great grief, killed two of our men, and wounded three more. This was the more surprising, because, being without any defence, and so near the trees, they expected more lances and arrows every moment; nor would flying do them any service, the Indians being, as appeared, very good marksmen. In this extremity, they had happily this presence of mind, viz., to run close to the tree, and stand, as it were, under it; so that those above could not come at, or see them, to throw their lances at them. This succeeded, and gave them time to consider what to do; they knew their enemies and murderers were above; they heard them talk, and those above knew those were below; but they below were obliged to keep close for fear of their lances from above. At length, one of our men, looking a little more strictly than the rest, thought he saw the head of one of the Indians just over a dead limb of the tree, which, it seems, the creature sat upon. One man immediately fired, and levelled his piece so true that the shot went through the fellow's head; and down he fell out of the tree immediately, and came upon the ground with such force, with the height of his fall, that if he had not been killed with the shot, he would certainly have been killed with dashing his body against the ground.
This so frightened them, that, besides the howling noise they made in the tree, our men heard a strange clutter of them in the body of the tree, from whence they concluded they had made the tree hollow, and were got to hide themselves there. Now, had this been the case, they were secure enough from our men, for it was impossible any of our men could get up the tree on the outside, there being no branches to climb by; and, to shoot at the tree, that they tried several times to no purpose, for the tree was so thick that no shot would enter it. They made no doubt, however, but that they had their enemies in a trap, and that a small siege would either bring them down, tree and all, or starve them out; so they resolved to keep their post, and send to us for help. Accordingly, two of them came away to us for more hands, and particularly desired that some of our carpenters might come with tools, to help to cut down the tree, or at least to cut down other wood and set fire to it; and that, they concluded, would not fail to bring them out.
Accordingly, our men went like a little army, and with mighty preparations for an enterprise, the like of which has scarce been ever heard, to form the siege of a great tree. However, when they came there, they found the task difficult enough, for the old trunk was indeed a very great one, and very tall, being at least two-and-twenty feet high, with seven old limbs standing out every way from the top, but decayed, and very few leaves, if any, left on it.
William the Quaker, whose curiosity led him to go among the rest, proposed that they should make a ladder, and get upon the top, and then throw wild-fire into the tree, and smoke them out. Others proposed going back, and getting a great gun out of the ship, which would split the tree in pieces with the iron bullets; others, that they should cut down a great deal of wood, and pile it up round the tree, and set it on fire, and burn the tree, and the Indians in it.
These consultations took up our people no less than two or three days, in all which time they heard nothing of the supposed garrison within this wooden castle, nor any noise within. William's project was first gone about, and a large strong ladder was made, to scale this wooden tower; and in two or three hours' time it would have been ready to mount, when, on a sudden, they heard the noise of the Indians in the body of the tree again, and a little after, several of them appeared at the top of the tree, and threw some lances down at our men; one of which struck one of our seamen a-top of the shoulder, and gave him such a desperate wound, that the surgeons not only had a great deal of difficulty to cure him, but the poor man endured such horrible torture, that we all said they had better have killed him outright. However, he was cured at last, though he never recovered the perfect use of his arm, the lance having cut some of the tendons on the top of the arm, near the shoulder, which, as I supposed, performed the office of motion to the limb before; so that the poor man was a cripple all the days of his life. But to return to the desperate rogues in the tree; our men shot at them, but did not find they had hit them, or any of them; but as soon as ever they shot at them, they could hear them huddle down into the trunk of the tree again, and there, to be sure, they were safe.
Well, however, it was this which put by the project of William's ladder; for when it was done, who would venture up among such a troop of bold creatures as were there, and who, they supposed, were desperate by their circumstances? And as but one man at a time could go up, they began to think it would not do; and, indeed, I was of the opinion (for about this time I was come to their assistance) that going up the ladder would not do, unless it was thus, that a man should, as it were, run just up to the top, and throw some fireworks into the tree, and come down again; and this we did two or three times, but found no effect of it. At last, one of our gunners made a stink-pot, as we called it, being a composition which only smokes, but does not flame or burn; but withal the smoke of it is so thick, and the smell of it so intolerably nauseous, that it is not to be suffered. This he threw into the tree himself, and we waited for the effect of it, but heard or saw nothing all that night or the next day; so we concluded the men within were all smothered; when, on a sudden, the next night we heard them upon the top of the tree again shouting and hallooing like madmen.
We concluded, as anybody would, that this was to call for help, and we resolved to continue our siege; for we were all enraged to see ourselves so baulked by a few wild people, whom we thought we had safe in our clutches; and, indeed, never were there so many concurring circumstances to delude men in any case we had met with. We resolved, however, to try another stink-pot the next night, and our engineer and gunner had got it ready, when, hearing a noise of the enemy on the top of the tree, and in the body of the tree, I was not willing to let the gunner go up the ladder, which, I said, would be but to be certain of being murdered. However, he found a medium for it, and that was to go up a few steps, and, with a long pole in his hand, to throw it in upon the top of the tree, the ladder being standing all this while against the top of the tree; but when the gunner, with his machine at the top of his pole, came to the tree, with three other men to help him, behold the ladder was gone.
This perfectly confounded us; and we now concluded the Indians in the tree had, by this piece of negligence, taken the opportunity, and come all down the ladder, made their escape, and had carried away the ladder with them. I laughed most heartily at my friend William, who, as I said, had the direction of the siege, and had set up a ladder for the garrison, as we called them, to get down upon, and run away. But when daylight came, we were all set to rights again; for there stood our ladder, hauled up on the top of the tree, with about half of it in the hollow of the tree, and the other half upright in the air. Then we began to laugh at the Indians for fools, that they could not as well have found their way down by the ladder, and have made their escape, as to have pulled it up by main strength into the tree.
We then resolved upon fire, and so to put an end to the work at once, and burn the tree and its inhabitants together; and accordingly we went to work to cut wood, and in a few hours' time we got enough, as we thought, together; and, piling it up round the bottom of the tree, we set it on fire, waiting at a distance to see when, the gentlemen's quarters being too hot for them, they would come flying out at the top. But we were quite confounded when, on a sudden, we found the fire all put out by a great quantity of water thrown upon it. We then thought the devil must be in them, to be sure. Says William, "This is certainly the cunningest piece of Indian engineering that ever was heard of; and there can be but one thing more to guess at, besides witchcraft and dealing with the devil, which I believe not one word of," says he; "and that must be, that this is an artificial tree, or a natural tree artificially made hollow down into the earth, through root and all; and that these creatures have an artificial cavity underneath it, quite into the hill, or a way to go through, and under the hill, to some other place; and where that other place is, we know not; but if it be not our own fault, I'll find the place, and follow them into it, before I am two days older." He then called the carpenters, to know of them if they had any large saws that would cut through the body; and they told him they had no saws that were long enough, nor could men work into such a monstrous old stump in a great while; but that they would go to work with it with their axes, and undertake to cut it down in two days, and stock up the root of it in two more. But William was for another way, which proved much better than all this; for he was for silent work, that, if possible, he might catch some of the fellows in it. So he sets twelve men to it with large augers, to bore great holes into the side of the tree, to go almost through, but not quite through; which holes were bored without noise, and when they were done he filled them all with gunpowder, stopping strong plugs, bolted crossways, into the holes, and then boring a slanting hole, of a less size, down into the greater hole, all of which were filled with powder, and at once blown up. When they took fire, they made such a noise, and tore and split up the tree in so many places, and in such a manner, that we could see plainly such another blast would demolish it; and so it did. Thus at the second time we could, at two or three places, put our hands in them, and discovered a cheat, namely, that there was a cave or hole dug into the earth, from or through the bottom of the hollow, and that it had communication with another cave farther in, where we heard the voices of several of the wild folks, calling and talking to one another.
When we came thus far we had a great mind to get at them; and William desired that three men might be given him with hand-grenadoes; and he promised to go down first, and boldly he did so; for William, to give him his due, had the heart of a lion.
They had pistols in their hands, and swords by their sides; but, as they had taught the Indians before by their stink-pots, the Indians returned them in their own kind; for they made such a smoke come up out of the entrance into the cave or hollow, that William and his three men were glad to come running out of the cave, and out of the tree too, for mere want of breath; and indeed they were almost stifled.
Never was a fortification so well defended, or assailants so many ways defeated. We were now for giving it over, and particularly I called William, and told him I could not but laugh to see us spinning out our time here for nothing; that I could not imagine what we were doing; that it was certain that the rogues that were in it were cunning to the last degree, and it would vex anybody to be so baulked by a few naked ignorant fellows; but still it was not worth our while to push it any further, nor was there anything that I knew of to be got by the conquest when it was made, so that I thought it high time to give it over.
William acknowledged what I said was just, and that there was nothing but our curiosity to be gratified in this attempt; and though, as he said, he was very desirous to have searched into the thing, yet he would not insist upon it; so we resolved to quit it and come away, which we did. However, William said before we went he would have this satisfaction of them, viz., to burn down the tree and stop up the entrance into the cave. And while doing this the gunner told him he would have one satisfaction of the rogues; and this was, that he would make a mine of it, and see which way it had vent. Upon this he fetched two barrels of powder out of the ships, and placed them in the inside of the hollow of the cave, as far in as he durst go to carry them, and then filling up the mouth of the cave where the tree stood, and ramming it sufficiently hard, leaving only a pipe or touch-hole, he gave fire to it, and stood at a distance to see which way it would operate, when on a sudden he found the force of the powder burst its way out among some bushes on the other side the little hill I mentioned, and that it came roaring out there as out of the mouth of a cannon. Immediately running thither, we saw the effects of the powder.
First, we saw that there was the other mouth of the cave, which the powder had so torn and opened, that the loose earth was so fallen in again that nothing of shape could be discerned; but there we saw what was become of the garrison of the Indians, too, who had given us all this trouble, for some of them had no arms, some no legs, some no head; some lay half buried in the rubbish of the mine—that is to say, in the loose earth that fell in; and, in short, there was a miserable havoc made in them all; for we had good reason to believe not one of them that were in the inside could escape, but rather were shot out of the mouth of the cave, like a bullet out of a gun.
We had now our full satisfaction of the Indians; but, in short, this was a losing voyage, for we had two men killed, one quite crippled, and five more wounded; we spent two barrels of powder, and eleven days' time, and all to get the understanding how to make an Indian mine, or how to keep garrison in a hollow tree; and with this wit, bought at this dear price, we came away, having taken in some fresh water, but got no fresh provisions.
We then considered what we should do to get back again to Madagascar. We were much about the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, but had such a very long run, and were neither sure of meeting with fair winds nor with any land in the way, that we knew not what to think of it. William was our last resort in this case again, and he was very plain with us. "Friend," says he to Captain Wilmot, "what occasion hast thou to run the venture of starving, merely for the pleasure of saying thou hast been where nobody has been before? There are a great many places nearer home, of which thou mayest say the same thing at less expense. I see no occasion thou hast of keeping thus far south any longer than till you are sure you are to the west end of Java and Sumatra; and then thou mayest stand away north towards Ceylon, and the coast of Coromandel and Madras, where thou mayest get both fresh water and fresh provisions; and to that part it is likely we may hold out well enough with the stores we have already."
This was wholesome advice, and such as was not to be slighted; so we stood away to the west, keeping between the latitude of 31 and 35, and had very good weather and fair winds for about ten days' sail; by which time, by our reckoning, we were clear of the isles, and might run away to the north; and if we did not fall in with Ceylon, we should at least go into the great deep Bay of Bengal.
But we were out in our reckoning a great deal; for, when we had stood due north for about fifteen or sixteen degrees, we met with land again on our starboard bow, about three leagues' distance; so we came to an anchor about half a league from it, and manned out our boats to see what sort of a country it was. We found it a very good one; fresh water easy to come at, but no cattle that we could see, or inhabitants; and we were very shy of searching too far after them, lest we should make such another journey as we did last; so that we let rambling alone, and chose rather to take what we could find, which was only a few wild mangoes, and some plants of several kinds, which we knew not the names of.
We made no stay here, but put to sea again, N.W. by N., but had little wind for a fortnight more, when we made land again; and standing in with the shore, we were surprised to find ourselves on the south shore of Java; and just as we were coming to an anchor we saw a boat, carrying Dutch colours, sailing along-shore. We were not solicitous to speak with them, or any other of their nation, but left it indifferent to our people, when they went on shore, to see the Dutchmen or not to see them; our business was to get provisions, which, indeed, by this time were very short with us.
We resolved to go on shore with our boats in the most convenient place we could find, and to look out a proper harbour to bring the ship into, leaving it to our fate whether we should meet with friends or enemies; resolving, however, not to stay any considerable time, at least not long enough to have expresses sent across the island to Batavia, and for ships to come round from thence to attack us.
We found, according to our desire, a very good harbour, where we rode in seven fathom water, well defended from the weather, whatever might happen; and here we got fresh provisions, such as good hogs and some cows; and that we might lay in a little store, we killed sixteen cows, and pickled and barrelled up the flesh as well as we could be supposed to do in the latitude of eight degrees from the line.
We did all this in about five days, and filled our casks with water; and the last boat was coming off with herbs and roots, we being unmoored, and our fore-topsail loose for sailing, when we spied a large ship to the northward, bearing down directly upon us. We knew not what she might be, but concluded the worst, and made all possible haste to get our anchor up, and get under sail, that we might be in a readiness to see what she had to say to us, for we were under no great concern for one ship, but our notion was, that we should be attacked by three or four together.
By the time we had got up our anchor and the boat was stowed, the ship was within a league of us, and, as we thought, bore down to engage us; so we spread our black flag, or ancient, on the poop, and the bloody flag at the top-mast-head, and having made a clear ship, we stretched away to the westward, to get the wind of him.
They had, it seems, quite mistaken us before, expecting nothing of an enemy or a pirate in those seas; and, not doubting but we had been one of their own ships, they seemed to be in some confusion when they found their mistake, so they immediately hauled upon a wind on the other tack, and stood edging in for the shore, towards the easternmost part of the island. Upon this we tacked, and stood after him with all the sail we could, and in two hours came almost within gunshot. Though they crowded all the sail they could lay on, there was no remedy but to engage us, and they soon saw their inequality of force. We fired a gun for them to bring to; so they manned out their boat, and sent to us with a flag of truce. We sent back the boat, but with this answer to the captain, that he had nothing to do but to strike and bring his ship to an anchor under our stern, and come on board us himself, when he should know our demands; but that, however, since he had not yet put us to the trouble of forcing him, which we saw we were able to do, we assured them that the captain should return again in safety, and all his men, and that, supplying us with such things as we should demand, his ship should not be plundered. They went back with this message, and it was some time after they were on board before they struck, which made us begin to think they refused it; so we fired a shot, and in a few minutes more we perceived their boat put off; and as soon as the boat put off the ship struck and came to an anchor, as was directed.
When the captain came on board, we demanded an account of their cargo, which was chiefly bales of goods from Bengal for Bantam. We told them our present want was provisions, which they had no need of, being just at the end of their voyage; and that, if they would send their boat on shore with ours, and procure us six-and-twenty head of black cattle, threescore hogs, a quantity of brandy and arrack, and three hundred bushels of rice, we would let them go free.
As to the rice, they gave us six hundred bushels, which they had actually on board, together with a parcel shipped upon freight. Also, they gave us thirty middling casks of very good arrack, but beef and pork they had none. However, they went on shore with our men, and bought eleven bullocks and fifty hogs, which were pickled up for our occasion; and upon the supplies of provision from shore, we dismissed them and their ship.
We lay here several days before we could furnish ourselves with the provisions agreed for, and some of the men fancied the Dutchmen were contriving our destruction; but they were very honest, and did what they could to furnish the black cattle, but found it impossible to supply so many. So they came and told us ingenuously, that, unless we could stay a while longer, they could get no more oxen or cows than those eleven, with which we were obliged to be satisfied, taking the value of them in other things, rather than stay longer there. On our side, we were punctual with them in observing the conditions we had agreed on; nor would we let any of our men so much as go on board them, or suffer any of their men to come on board us; for, had any of our men gone on board, nobody could have answered for their behaviour, any more than if they had been on shore in an enemy's country.
We were now victualled for our voyage; and, as we mattered not purchase, we went merrily on for the coast of Ceylon, where we intended to touch, to get fresh water again, and more provisions; and we had nothing material offered in this part of the voyage, only that we met with contrary winds, and were above a month in the passage.
We put in upon the south coast of the island, desiring to have as little to do with the Dutch as we could; and as the Dutch were lords of the country as to commerce, so they are more so of the sea-coast, where they have several forts, and, in particular, have all the cinnamon, which is the trade of that island.
We took in fresh water here, and some provisions, but did not much trouble ourselves about laying in any stores, our beef and hogs, which we got at Java, being not yet all gone by a good deal. We had a little skirmish on shore here with some of the people of the island, some of our men having been a little too familiar with the homely ladies of the country; for homely, indeed, they were, to such a degree, that if our men had not had good stomachs that way, they would scarce have touched any of them.
I could never fully get it out of our men what they did, they were so true to one another in their wickedness, but I understood in the main, that it was some barbarous thing they had done, and that they had like to have paid dear for it, for the men resented it to the last degree, and gathered in such numbers about them, that, had not sixteen more of our men, in another boat, come all in the nick of time, just to rescue our first men, who were but eleven, and so fetch them off by main force, they had been all cut off, the inhabitants being no less than two or three hundred, armed with darts and lances, the usual weapons of the country, and which they are very dexterous at the throwing, even so dexterous that it was scarce credible; and had our men stood to fight them, as some of them were bold enough to talk of, they had been all overwhelmed and killed. As it was, seventeen of our men were wounded, and some of them very dangerously. But they were more frighted than hurt too, for every one of them gave themselves over for dead men, believing the lances were poisoned. But William was our comfort here too; for, when two of our surgeons were of the same opinion, and told the men foolishly enough that they would die, William cheerfully went to work with them, and cured them all but one, who rather died by drinking some arrack punch than of his wound; the excess of drinking throwing him into a fever.
We had enough of Ceylon, though some of our people were for going ashore again, sixty or seventy men together, to be revenged; but William persuaded them against it; and his reputation was so great among the men, as well as with us that were commanders, that he could influence them more than any of us.
They were mighty warm upon their revenge, and they would go on shore, and destroy five hundred of them. "Well," says William, "and suppose you do, what are you the better?" "Why, then," says one of them, speaking for the rest, "we shall have our satisfaction." "Well, and what will you be the better for that?" says William. They could then say nothing to that. "Then," says William, "if I mistake not, your business is money; now, I desire to know, if you conquer and kill two or three thousand of these poor creatures, they have no money, pray what will you get? They are poor naked wretches; what shall you gain by them? But then," says William, "perhaps, in doing this, you may chance to lose half-a-score of your own company, as it is very probable you may. Pray, what gain is in it? and what account can you give the captain for his lost men?" In short, William argued so effectually, that he convinced them that it was mere murder to do so; and that the men had a right to their own, and that they had no right to take them away; that it was destroying innocent men, who had acted no otherwise than as the laws of nature dictated; and that it would be as much murder to do so, as to meet a man on the highway, and kill him, for the mere sake of it, in cold blood, not regarding whether he had done any wrong to us or no.
These reasons prevailed with them at last, and they were content to go away, and leave them as they found them. In the first skirmish they killed between sixty and seventy men, and wounded a great many more; but they had nothing, and our people got nothing by it, but the loss of one man's life, and the wounding sixteen more, as above.
But another accident brought us to a necessity of further business with these people, and indeed we had like to have put an end to our lives and adventures all at once among them; for, about three days after our putting out to sea from the place where we had that skirmish, we were attacked by a violent storm of wind from the south, or rather a hurricane of wind from all the points southward, for it blew in a most desperate and furious manner from the S.E. to the S.W., one minute at one point, and then instantly turning about again to another point, but with the same violence; nor were we able to work the ship in that condition, so that the ship I was in split three top-sails, and at last brought the main-top-mast by the board; and, in a word, we were once or twice driven right ashore; and one time, had not the wind shifted the very moment it did, we had been dashed in a thousand pieces upon a great ledge of rocks which lay off about half-a-league from the shore; but, as I have said, the wind shifting very often, and at that time coming to the E.S.E., we stretched off, and got above a league more sea-room in half-an-hour. After that, it blew with some fury S.W. by S., then S.W. by W., and put us back again a great way to the eastward of the ledge of rocks, where we found a great opening between the rocks and the land, and endeavoured to come to an anchor there, but we found there was no ground fit to anchor in, and that we should lose our anchors, there being nothing but rocks. We stood through the opening, which held about four leagues. The storm continued, and now we found a dreadful foul shore, and knew not what course to take. We looked out very narrowly for some river or creek or bay, where we might run in, and come to an anchor, but found none a great while. At length we saw a great headland lie out far south into the sea, and that to such a length, that, in short, we saw plainly that, if the wind held where it was, we could not weather it, so we ran in as much under the lee of the point as we could, and came to an anchor in about twelve fathom water.
But the wind veering again in the night, and blowing exceedingly hard, our anchors came home, and the ship drove till the rudder struck against the ground; and had the ship gone half her length farther she had been lost, and every one of us with her. But our sheet-anchor held its own, and we heaved in some of the cable, to get clear of the ground we had struck upon. It was by this only cable that we rode it out all night; and towards morning we thought the wind abated a little; and it was well for us that it was so, for, in spite of what our sheet-anchor did for us, we found the ship fast aground in the morning, to our very great surprise and amazement.
When the tide was out, though the water here ebbed away, the ship lay almost dry upon a bank of hard sand, which never, I suppose, had any ship upon it before. The people of the country came down in great numbers to look at us and gaze, not knowing what we were, but gaping at us as at a great sight or wonder at which they were surprised, and knew not what to do.
I have reason to believe that upon the sight they immediately sent an account of a ship being there, and of the condition we were in, for the next day there appeared a great man; whether it was their king or no I know not, but he had abundance of men with him, and some with long javelins in their hands as long as half-pikes; and these came all down to the water's edge, and drew up in a very good order, just in our view. They stood near an hour without making any motion; and then there came near twenty of them, with a man before them carrying a white flag. They came forward into the water as high as their waists, the sea not going so high as before, for the wind was abated, and blew off the shore.
The man made a long oration to us, as we could see by his gestures; and we sometimes heard his voice, but knew not one word he said. William, who was always useful to us, I believe was here again the saving of all our lives. The case was this: The fellow, or what I might call him, when his speech was done, gave three great screams (for I know not what else to say they were), then lowered his white flag three times, and then made three motions to us with his arm to come to him.
I acknowledge that I was for manning out the boat and going to them, but William would by no means allow me. He told me we ought to trust nobody; that, if they were barbarians, and under their own government, we might be sure to be all murdered; and, if they were Christians, we should not fare much better, if they knew who we were; that it was the custom of the Malabars to betray all people that they could get into their hands, and that these were some of the same people; and that, if we had any regard to our own safety, we should not go to them by any means. I opposed him a great while, and told him I thought he used to be always right, but that now I thought he was not; that I was no more for running needless risks than he or any one else; but I thought all nations in the world, even the most savage people, when they held out a flag of peace, kept the offer of peace made by that signal very sacredly; and I gave him several examples of it in the history of my African travels, which I have here gone through in the beginning of this work, and that I could not think these people worse than some of them. And, besides, I told him our case seemed to be such that we must fall into somebody's hands or other, and that we had better fall into their hands by a friendly treaty than by a forced submission, nay, though they had indeed a treacherous design; and therefore I was for a parley with them.
"Well, friend," says William very gravely, "if thou wilt go I cannot help it; I shall only desire to take my last leave of thee at parting, for, depend upon it, thou wilt never see us again. Whether we in the ship may come off any better at last I cannot resolve thee; but this I will answer for, that we will not give up our lives idly, and in cool blood, as thou art going to do; we will at least preserve ourselves as long as we can, and die at last like men, not like fools, trepanned by the wiles of a few barbarians."
William spoke this with so much warmth, and yet with so much assurance of our fate, that I began to think a little of the risk I was going to run. I had no more mind to be murdered than he; and yet I could not for my life be so faint-hearted in the thing as he. Upon which I asked him if he had any knowledge of the place, or had ever been there. He said, No. Then I asked him if he had heard or read anything about the people of this island, and of their way of treating any Christians that had fallen into their hands; and he told me he had heard of one, and he would tell me the story afterward. His name, he said, was Knox, commander of an East India ship, who was driven on shore, just as we were, upon this island of Ceylon, though he could not say it was at the same place, or whereabouts; that he was beguiled by the barbarians, and enticed to come on shore, just as we were invited to do at that time; and that, when they had him, they surrounded him, and eighteen or twenty of his men, and never suffered them to return, but kept them prisoners, or murdered them, he could not tell which; but they were carried away up into the country, separated from one another, and never heard of afterwards, except the captain's son, who miraculously made his escape, after twenty years' slavery.
I had no time then to ask him to give the full story of this Knox, much less to hear him tell it me; but, as it is usual in such cases, when one begins to be a little touched, I turned short with him. "Why then, friend William," said I, "what would you have us do? You see what condition we are in, and what is before us; something must be done, and that immediately." "Why," says William, "I'll tell thee what thou shalt do; first, cause a white flag to be hanged out, as they do to us, and man out the longboat and pinnace with as many men as they can well stow, to handle their arms, and let me go with them, and thou shalt see what we will do. If I miscarry, thou mayest be safe; and I will also tell thee, that if I do miscarry, it shall be my own fault, and thou shalt learn wit by my folly."
I knew not what to reply to him at first; but, after some pause, I said, "William, William, I am as both you should be lost as you are that I should; and if there be any danger, I desire you may no more fall into it than I. Therefore, if you will, let us all keep in the ship, fare alike, and take our fate together."
"No, no," says William, "there's no danger in the method I propose; thou shalt go with me, if thou thinkest fit. If thou pleasest but to follow the measures that I shall resolve on, depend upon it, though we will go off from the ships, we will not a man of us go any nearer them than within call to talk with them. Thou seest they have no boats to come off to us; but," says he, "I rather desire thou wouldst take my advice, and manage the ships as I shall give the signal from the boat, and let us concert that matter together before we go off."
Well, I found William had his measures in his head all laid beforehand, and was not at a loss what to do at all; so I told him he should be captain for this voyage, and we would be all of us under his orders, which I would see observed to a tittle.
Upon this conclusion of our debates, he ordered four-and-twenty men into the long-boat, and twelve men into the pinnace, and the sea being now pretty smooth, they went off, being all very well armed. Also he ordered that all the guns of the great ship, on the side which lay next the shore, should be loaded with musket-balls, old nails, stubs, and such-like pieces of old iron, lead, and anything that came to hand; and that we should prepare to fire as soon as ever we saw them lower the white flag and hoist up a red one in the pinnace.
With these measures fixed between us, they went off towards the shore, William in the pinnace with twelve men, and the long-boat coming after him with four-and-twenty more, all stout resolute fellows, and very well armed. They rowed so near the shore as that they might speak to one another, carrying a white flag, as the other did, and offering a parley. The brutes, for such they were, showed themselves very courteous; but finding we could not understand them, they fetched an old Dutchman, who had been their prisoner many years, and set him to speak to us. The sum and substance of his speech was, that the king of the country had sent his general down to know who we were, and what our business was. William stood up in the stern of the pinnace, and told him, that as to that, he, that was an European, by his language and voice, might easily know what we were, and our condition; the ship being aground upon the sand would also tell him that our business there was that of a ship in distress; so William desired to know what they came down for with such a multitude, and with arms and weapons, as if they came to war with us.
He answered, they might have good reason to come down to the shore, the country being alarmed with the appearance of ships of strangers upon the coast; and as our vessels were full of men, and as we had guns and weapons, the king had sent part of his military men, that, in case of any invasion upon the country, they might be ready to defend themselves, whatsoever might be the occasion.
"But," says he, "as you are men in distress, the king has ordered his general, who is here also, to give you all the assistance he can, and to invite you on shore, and receive you with all possible courtesy." Says William, very quick upon him, "Before I give thee an answer to that, I desire thee to tell me what thou art, for by thy speech thou art an European." He answered presently, he was a Dutchman. "That I know well," says William, "by thy speech; but art thou a native Dutchman of Holland, or a native of this country, that has learned Dutch by conversing among the Hollanders, who we know are settled upon this island?"
"No," says the old man, "I am a native of Delft, in the province of Holland, in Europe."
"Well," says William, immediately, "but art thou a Christian or a heathen, or what we call a renegado?"
"I am," says he, "a Christian." And so they went on, in a short dialogue, as follows:—
William. Thou art a Dutchman, and a Christian, thou sayest; pray, art thou a freeman or a servant?
Dutchman. I am a servant to the king here, and in his army.
W. But art thou a volunteer, or a prisoner?
D. Indeed I was a prisoner at first, but am at liberty now, and so am a volunteer.
W. That is to say, being first a prisoner, thou hast liberty to serve them; but art thou so at liberty that thou mayest go away, if thou pleasest, to thine own countrymen?
D. No, I do not say so; my countrymen live a great way off, on the north and east parts of the island, and there is no going to them without the king's express license.
W. Well, and why dost thou not get a license to go away?
D. I have never asked for it.
W. And, I suppose, if thou didst, thou knowest thou couldst not obtain it.
D. I cannot say much as to that; but why do you ask me all these questions?
W. Why, my reason is good; if thou art a Christian and a prisoner, how canst thou consent to be made an instrument to these barbarians, to betray us into their hands, who are thy countrymen and fellow-Christians? Is it not a barbarous thing in thee to do so?
D. How do I go about to betray you? Do I not give you an account how the king invites you to come on shore, and has ordered you to be treated courteously and assisted?
W. As thou art a Christian, though I doubt it much, dost thou believe the king or the general, as thou callest it, means one word of what he says?
D. He promises you by the mouth of his great general.
W. I don't ask thee what he promises, or by whom; but I ask thee this: Canst thou say that thou believest he intends to perform it?
D. How can I answer that? How can I tell what he intends?
W. Thou canst tell what thou believest.
D. I cannot say but he will perform it; I believe he may.
W. Thou art but a double-tongued Christian, I doubt. Come, I'll ask thee another question: Wilt thou say that thou believest it, and that thou wouldst advise me to believe it, and put our lives into their hands upon these promises?
D. I am not to be your adviser.
W. Thou art perhaps afraid to speak thy mind, because thou art in their power. Pray, do any of them understand what thou and I say? Can they speak Dutch?
D. No, not one of them; I have no apprehensions upon that account at all.
W. Why, then, answer me plainly, if thou art a Christian: Is it safe for us to venture upon their words, to put ourselves into their hands, and come on shore?
D. You put it very home to me. Pray let me ask you another question: Are you in any likelihood of getting your ship off, if you refuse it?
W. Yes, yes, we shall get off the ship; now the storm is over we don't fear it.
D. Then I cannot say it is best for you to trust them.
W. Well, it is honestly said.
D. But what shall I say to them?
W. Give them good words, as they give us.
D. What good words?
W. Why, let them tell the king that we are strangers, who were driven on his coast by a great storm; that we thank him very kindly for his offer of civility to us, which, if we are further distressed, we will accept thankfully; but that at present we have no occasion to come on shore; and besides, that we cannot safely leave the ship in the present condition she is in; but that we are obliged to take care of her, in order to get her off; and expect, in a tide or two more, to get her quite clear, and at an anchor.
D. But he will expect you to come on shore, then, to visit him, and make him some present for his civility.
W. When we have got our ship clear, and stopped the leaks, we will pay our respects to him.
D. Nay, you may as well come to him now as then.
W. Nay, hold, friend; I did not say we would come to him then: you talked of making him a present, that is to pay our respects to him, is it not?
D. Well, but I will tell him that you will come on shore to him when your ship is got off.
W. I have nothing to say to that; you may tell him what you think fit.
D. But he will be in a great rage if I do not.
W. Who will he be in a great rage at?
D. At you.
W. What occasion have we to value that?
D. Why, he will send all his army down against you.
W. And what if they were all here just now? What dost thou suppose they could do to us?
D. He would expect they should burn your ships and bring you all to him.
W. Tell him, if he should try, he may catch a Tartar.
D. He has a world of men.
W. Has he any ships?
D. No, he has no ships.
W. Nor boats?
D. No, nor boats.
W. Why, what then do you think we care for his men? What canst thou do now to us, if thou hadst a hundred thousand with thee?
D. Oh! they might set you on fire.
W. Set us a-firing, thou meanest; that they might indeed; but set us on fire they shall not; they may try, at their peril, and we shall make mad work with your hundred thousand men, if they come within reach of our guns, I assure thee.
D. But what if the king gives you hostages for your safety?
W. Whom can he give but mere slaves and servants like thyself, whose lives he no more values than we an English hound?
D. Whom do you demand for hostages?
W. Himself and your worship.
D. What would you do with him?
W. Do with him as he would do with us—cut his head off.
D. And what would you do with me?
W. Do with thee? We would carry thee home into thine own country; and, though thou deservest the gallows, we would make a man and a Christian of thee again, and not do by thee as thou wouldst have done by us—betray thee to a parcel of merciless, savage pagans, that know no God, nor how to show mercy to man.
D. You put a thought in my head that I will speak to you about to-morrow.
Thus they went away, and William came on board, and gave us a full account of his parley with the old Dutchman, which was very diverting, and to me instructing; for I had abundance of reason to acknowledge William had made a better judgment of things than I.
It was our good fortune to get our ship off that very night, and to bring her to an anchor at about a mile and a half farther out, and in deep water, to our great satisfaction; so that we had no need to fear the Dutchman's king, with his hundred thousand men; and indeed we had some sport with them the next day, when they came down, a vast prodigious multitude of them, very few less in number, in our imagination, than a hundred thousand, with some elephants; though, if it had been an army of elephants, they could have done us no harm; for we were fairly at our anchor now, and out of their reach. And indeed we thought ourselves more out of their reach than we really were; and it was ten thousand to one that we had not been fast aground again, for the wind blowing off shore, though it made the water smooth where we lay, yet it blew the ebb farther out than usual, and we could easily perceive the sand, which we touched upon before, lay in the shape of a half-moon, and surrounded us with two horns of it, so that we lay in the middle or centre of it, as in a round bay, safe just as we were, and in deep water, but present death, as it were, on the right hand and on the left, for the two horns or points of the sand reached out beyond where our ship lay near two miles.
On that part of the sand which lay on our east side, this misguided multitude extended themselves; and being, most of them, not above their knees, or most of them not above ankle-deep in the water, they as it were surrounded us on that side, and on the side of the mainland, and a little way on the other side of the sand, standing in a half-circle, or rather three-fifths of a circle, for about six miles in length. The other horn, or point of the sand, which lay on our west side, being not quite so shallow, they could not extend themselves upon it so far.
They little thought what service they had done us, and how unwittingly, and by the greatest ignorance, they had made themselves pilots to us, while we, having not sounded the place, might have been lost before we were aware. It is true we might have sounded our new harbour before we had ventured out, but I cannot say for certain whether we should or not; for I, for my part, had not the least suspicion of what our real case was; however, I say, perhaps, before we had weighed, we should have looked about us a little. I am sure we ought to have done it; for, besides these armies of human furies, we had a very leaky ship, and all our pumps could hardly keep the water from growing upon us, and our carpenters were overboard, working to find out and stop the wounds we had received, heeling her first on the one side, and then on the other; and it was very diverting to see how, when our men heeled the ship over to the side next the wild army that stood on the east horn of the sand, they were so amazed, between fright and joy, that it put them into a kind of confusion, calling to one another, hallooing and skreeking, in a manner that it is impossible to describe.
While we were doing this, for we were in a great hurry you may be sure, and all hands at work, as well at the stopping our leaks as repairing our rigging and sails, which had received a great deal of damage, and also in rigging a new main-top-mast and the like;—I say, while we were doing all this, we perceived a body of men, of near a thousand, move from that part of the army of the barbarians that lay at the bottom of the sandy bay, and came all along the water's edge, round the sand, till they stood just on our broadside east, and were within about half-a-mile of us. Then we saw the Dutchman come forward nearer to us, and all alone, with his white flag and all his motions, just as before, and there he stood.
Our men had but just brought the ship to rights again as they came up to our broadside, and we had very happily found out and stopped the worst and most dangerous leak that we had, to our very great satisfaction; so I ordered the boats to be hauled up and manned as they were the day before, and William to go as plenipotentiary. I would have gone myself if I had understood Dutch, but as I did not, it was to no purpose, for I should be able to know nothing of what was said but from him at second-hand, which might be done as well afterwards. All the instructions I pretended to give William was, if possible, to get the old Dutchman away, and, if he could, to make him come on board.
Well, William went just as before, and when he came within about sixty or seventy yards of the shore, he held up his white flag as the Dutchman did, and turning the boat's broadside to the shore, and his men lying upon their oars, the parley or dialogue began again thus:—
William. Well, friend, what dost thou say to us now?
Dutchman. I come of the same mild errand as I did yesterday.
W. What! dost thou pretend to come of a mild errand with all these people at thy back, and all the foolish weapons of war they bring with them? Prithee, what dost thou mean?
D. The king hastens us to invite the captain and all his men to come on shore, and has ordered all his men to show them all the civility they can.
W. Well, and are all those men come to invite us ashore?
D. They will do you no hurt, if you will come on shore peaceably.
W. Well, and what dost thou think they can do to us, if we will not?
D. I would not have them do you any hurt then, neither.
W. But prithee, friend, do not make thyself fool and knave too. Dost not thou know that we are out of fear of all thy army, and out of danger of all that they can do? What makes thee act so simply as well as so knavishly?
D. Why, you may think yourselves safer than you are; you do not know what they may do to you. I can assure you they are able to do you a great deal of harm, and perhaps burn your ship.
W. Suppose that were true, as I am sure it is false; you see we have more ships to carry us off (pointing to the sloop).
[N.B.—Just at this time we discovered the sloop standing towards us from the east, along the shore, at about the distance of two leagues, which was to our particular satisfaction, she having been missing thirteen days.]
D. We do not value that; if you had ten ships, you dare not come on shore, with all the men you have, in a hostile way; we are too many for you.
W. Thou dost not, even in that, speak as thou meanest; and we may give thee a trial of our hands when our friends come up to us, for thou hearest they have discovered us.
[Just then the sloop fired five guns, which was to get news of us, for they did not see us.]
D. Yes, I hear they fire; but I hope your ship will not fire again; for, if they do, our general will take it for breaking the truce, and will make the army let fly a shower of arrows at you in the boat.
W. Thou mayest be sure the ship will fire that the other ship may hear them, but not with ball. If thy general knows no better, he may begin when he will; but thou mayest be sure we will return it to his cost.
D. What must I do, then?
W. Do! Why, go to him, and tell him of it beforehand, then; and let him know that the ship firing is not at him nor his men; and then come again, and tell us what he says.
D. No; I will send to him, which will do as well.
W. Do as thou wilt, but I believe thou hadst better go thyself; for if our men fire first, I suppose he will be in a great wrath, and it may be at thee; for, as to his wrath at us, we tell thee beforehand we value it not.
D. You slight them too much; you know not what they may do.
W. Thou makest as if these poor savage wretches could do mighty things: prithee, let us see what you can all do, we value it not; thou mayest set down thy flag of truce when thou pleasest, and begin.
D. I had rather make a truce, and have you all part friends.
W. Thou art a deceitful rogue thyself, for it is plain thou knowest these people would only persuade us on shore to entrap and surprise us; and yet thou that art a Christian, as thou callest thyself, would have us come on shore and put our lives into their hands who know nothing that belongs to compassion, good usage, or good manners. How canst thou be such a villain?
D. How can you call me so? What have I done to you, and what would you have me do?
W. Not act like a traitor, but like one that was once a Christian, and would have been so still, if you had not been a Dutchman.
D. I know not what to do, not I. I wish I were from them; they are a bloody people.
W. Prithee, make no difficulty of what thou shouldst do. Canst thou swim?
D. Yes, I can swim; but if I should attempt to swim off to you, I should have a thousand arrows and javelins sticking in me before I should get to your boat.
W. I'll bring the boat close to thee, and take thee on board in spite of them all. We will give them but one volley, and I'll engage they will all run away from thee.
D. You are mistaken in them, I assure you; they would immediately come all running down to the shore, and shoot fire-arrows at you, and set your boat and ship and all on fire about your ears.
W. We will venture that if thou wilt come off.
D. Will you use me honourably when I am among you?
W. I'll give thee my word for it, if thou provest honest.
D. Will you not make me a prisoner?
W. I will be thy surety, body for body, that thou shalt be a free man, and go whither thou wilt, though I own to thee thou dost not deserve it.
Just at this time our ship fired three guns to answer the sloop and let her know we saw her, who immediately, we perceived, understood it, and stood directly for the place. But it is impossible to express the confusion and filthy vile noise, the hurry and universal disorder, that was among that vast multitude of people upon our firing off three guns. They immediately all repaired to their arms, as I may call it; for to say they put themselves into order would be saying nothing.
Upon the word of command, then, they advanced all in a body to the seaside, and resolving to give us one volley of their fire-arms (for such they were), immediately they saluted us with a hundred thousand of their fire-arrows, every one carrying a little bag of cloth dipped in brimstone, or some such thing, which, flying through the air, had nothing to hinder it taking fire as it flew, and it generally did so.
I cannot say but this method of attacking us, by a way we had no notion of, might give us at first some little surprise, for the number was so great at first, that we were not altogether without apprehensions that they might unluckily set our ship on fire, so that William resolved immediately to row on board, and persuade us all to weigh and stand out to sea; but there was no time for it, for they immediately let fly a volley at the boat, and at the ship, from all parts of the vast crowd of people which stood near the shore. Nor did they fire, as I may call it, all at once, and so leave off; but their arrows being soon notched upon their bows, they kept continually shooting, so that the air was full of flame.
I could not say whether they set their cotton rag on fire before they shot the arrow, for I did not perceive they had fire with them, which, however, it seems they had. The arrow, besides the fire it carried with it, had a head, or a peg, as we call it, of bone; and some of sharp flint stone; and some few of a metal, too soft in itself for metal, but hard enough to cause it to enter, if it were a plank, so as to stick where it fell.
William and his men had notice sufficient to lie close behind their waste-boards, which, for this very purpose, they had made so high that they could easily sink themselves behind them, so as to defend themselves from anything that came point-blank (as we call it) or upon a line; but for what might fall perpendicularly out of the air they had no guard, but took the hazard of that. At first they made as if they would row away, but before they went they gave a volley of their fire-arms, firing at those which stood with the Dutchman; but William ordered them to be sure to take their aim at others, so as to miss him, and they did so.
There was no calling to them now, for the noise was so great among them that they could hear nobody, but our men boldly rowed in nearer to them, for they were at first driven a little off, and when they came nearer, they fired a second volley, which put the fellows into great confusion, and we could see from the ship that several of them were killed or wounded.
We thought this was a very unequal fight, and therefore we made a signal to our men to row away, that we might have a little of the sport as well as they; but the arrows flew so thick upon them, being so near the shore, that they could not sit to their oars, so they spread a little of their sail, thinking they might sail along the shore, and lie behind their waste-board; but the sail had not been spread six minutes till it had five hundred fire-arrows shot into it and through it, and at length set it fairly on fire; nor were our men quite out of the danger of its setting the boat on fire, and this made them paddle and shove the boat away as well as they could, as they lay, to get farther off.
By this time they had left us a fair mark at the whole savage army; and as we had sheered the ship as near to them as we could, we fired among the thickest of them six or seven times, five guns at a time, with shot, old iron, musket-bullets, &c.
We could easily see that we made havoc among them, and killed and wounded abundance of them, and that they were in a great surprise at it; but yet they never offered to stir, and all this while their fire-arrows flew as thick as before.
At last, on a sudden their arrows stopped, and the old Dutchman came running down to the water-side all alone, with his white flag, as before, waving it as high as he could, and making signals to our boat to come to him again.
William did not care at first to go near him, but the man continuing to make signals to him to come, at last William went; and the Dutchman told him that he had been with the general, who was much mollified by the slaughter of his men, and that now he could have anything of him.
"Anything!" says William; "what have we to do with him? Let him go about his business, and carry his men out of gunshot, can't he?"
"Why," says the Dutchman, "but he dares not stir, nor see the king's face; unless some of your men come on shore, he will certainly put him to death."
"Why, then," says William, "he is a dead man; for if it were to save his life, and the lives of all the crowd that is with him, he shall never have one of us in his power. But I'll tell thee," said William, "how thou shalt cheat him, and gain thy own liberty too, if thou hast any mind to see thy own country again, and art not turned savage, and grown fond of living all thy days among heathens and savages."
"I would be glad to do it with all my heart," says he; "but if I should offer to swim off to you now, though they are so far from me, they shoot so true that they would kill me before I got half-way."
"But," says William, "I'll tell thee how thou shalt come with his consent. Go to him, and tell him I have offered to carry you on board, to try if you could persuade the captain to come on shore, and that I would not hinder him if he was willing to venture."
The Dutchman seemed in a rapture at the very first word. "I'll do it," says he; "I am persuaded he will give me leave to come."
Away he runs, as if he had a glad message to carry, and tells the general that William had promised, if he would go on board the ship with him, he would persuade the captain to return with him. The general was fool enough to give him orders to go, and charged him not to come back without the captain; which he readily promised, and very honestly might.
So they took him in, and brought him on board, and he was as good as his word to them, for he never went back to them any more; and the sloop being come to the mouth of the inlet where we lay, we weighed and set sail; but, as we went out, being pretty near the shore, we fired three guns, as it were among them, but without any shot, for it was of no use to us to hurt any more of them. After we had fired, we gave them a cheer, as the seamen call it; that is to say, we hallooed, at them, by way of triumph, and so carried off their ambassador. How it fared with their general, we know nothing of that.
This passage, when I related it to a friend of mine, after my return from those rambles, agreed so well with his relation of what happened to one Mr Knox, an English captain, who some time ago was decoyed on shore by these people, that it could not but be very much to my satisfaction to think what mischief we had all escaped; and I think it cannot but be very profitable to record the other story (which is but short) with my own, to show whoever reads this what it was I avoided, and prevent their falling into the like, if they have to do with the perfidious people of Ceylon. The relation is as follows:—
The island of Ceylon being inhabited for the greatest part by barbarians, which will not allow any trade or commerce with any European nation, and inaccessible by any travellers, it will be convenient to relate the occasion how the author of this story happened to go into this island, and what opportunities he had of being fully acquainted with the people, their laws and customs, that so we may the better depend upon the account, and value it as it deserves, for the rarity as well as the truth of it; and both these the author gives us a brief relation of in this manner. His words are as follows:
In the year 1657, the Anne frigate, of London, Captain Robert Knox, commander, on the 21st day of January, set sail out of the Downs, in the service of the honourable East India Company of England, bound for Fort St George, upon the coast of Coromandel, to trade for one year from port to port in India; which having performed, as he was lading his goods to return for England, being in the road of Masulipatam, on the 19th of November 1659, there happened such a mighty storm, that in it several ships were cast away, and he was forced to cut his mainmast by the board, which so disabled the ship, that he could not proceed in his voyage; whereupon Cottiar, in the island of Ceylon, being a very commodious bay, fit for her present distress, Thomas Chambers, Esq., since Sir Thomas Chambers, the agent at Fort St George, ordered that the ship should take in some cloth and India merchants belonging to Porto Novo, who might trade there while she lay to set her mast, and repair the other damages sustained by the storm. At her first coming thither, after the Indian merchants were set ashore, the captain and his men were very jealous of the people of that place, by reason the English never had any commerce or dealing with them; but after they had been there twenty days, going ashore and returning again at pleasure, without any molestation, they began to lay aside all suspicious thoughts of the people that dwelt thereabouts, who had kindly entertained them for their money.
By this time the king of the country had notice of their arrival, and, not being acquainted with their intents, he sent down a dissauva, or general, with an army, to them, who immediately sent a messenger to the captain on board, to desire him to come ashore to him, pretending a letter from the king. The captain saluted the message with firing of guns, and ordered his son, Robert Knox, and Mr John Loveland, merchant of the ship, to go ashore, and wait on him. When they were come before him, he demanded who they were, and how long they should stay. They told him they were Englishmen, and not to stay above twenty or thirty days, and desired permission to trade in his Majesty's port. His answer was, that the king was glad to hear the English were come into his country, and had commanded him to assist them as they should desire, and had sent a letter to be delivered to none but the captain himself. They were then twelve miles from the seaside, and therefore replied, that the captain could not leave his ship to come so far; but if he pleased to go down to the seaside, the captain would wait on him to receive the letter; whereupon the dissauva desired them to stay that day, and on the morrow he would go with them; which, rather than displease him in so small a matter, they consented to. In the evening the dissauva sent a present to the captain of cattle and fruits, &c., which, being carried all night by the messengers, was delivered to him in the morning, who told him withal that his men were coming down with the dissauva, and desired his company on shore against his coming, having a letter from the king to deliver into his own hand. The captain, mistrusting nothing, came on shore with his boat, and, sitting under a tamarind tree, waited for the dissauva. In the meantime the native soldiers privately surrounded him and the seven men he had with him, and seizing them, carried them to meet the dissauva, bearing the captain on a hammock on their shoulders.
The next day the long-boat's crew, not knowing what had happened, came on shore to cut down a tree to make cheeks for the mainmast, and were made prisoners after the same manner, though with more violence, because they were more rough with them, and made resistance; yet they were not brought to the captain and his company, but quartered in another house in the same town.
The dissauva having thus gotten two boats and eighteen men, his next care was to gain the ship; and to that end, telling the captain that he and his men were only detained because the king intended to send letters and a present to the English nation by him, desired he would send some men on board his ship to order her to stay; and because the ship was in danger of being fired by the Dutch if she stayed long in the bay, to bring her up the river. The captain did not approve of the advice, but did not dare to own his dislike; so he sent his son with the order, but with a solemn conjuration to return again, which he accordingly did, bringing a letter from the company in the ship, that they would not obey the captain, nor any other, in this matter, but were resolved to stand on their own defence. This letter satisfied the dissauva, who thereupon gave the captain leave to write for what he would have brought from the ship, pretending that he had not the king's order to release them, though it would suddenly come.
The captain seeing he was held in suspense, and the season of the year spending for the ship to proceed on her voyage to some place, sent order to Mr John Burford, the chief mate, to take charge of the ship, and set sail to Porto Novo, from whence they came, and there to follow the agent's order.
And now began that long and sad captivity they all along feared. The ship being gone, the dissauva was called up to the king, and they were kept under guards a while, till a special order came from the king to part them, and put one in a town, for the conveniency of their maintenance, which the king ordered to be at the charge of the country. On September 16, 1660, the captain and his son were placed in a town called Bonder Coswat, in the country of Hotcurly [? Hewarrisse Korle], distant from the city of Kandy northward thirty miles, and from the rest of the English a full day's journey. Here they had their provisions brought them twice a day, without money, as much as they could eat, and as good as the country yielded. The situation of the place was very pleasant and commodious; but that year that part of the land was very sickly by agues and fevers, of which many died. The captain and his son after some time were visited with the common distemper, and the captain, being also loaded with grief for his deplorable condition, languished more than three months, and then died, February 9, 1661.
Robert Knox, his son, was now left desolate, sick, and in captivity, having none to comfort him but God, who is the Father of the fatherless, and hears the groans of such as are in captivity; being alone to enter upon a long scene of misery and calamity; oppressed with weakness of body and grief of soul for the loss of his father, and the remediless trouble that he was like to endure; and the first instance of it was in the burial of his father, for he sent his black boy to the people of the town, to desire their assistance, because they understood not their language; but they sent him only a rope, to drag him by the neck into the woods, and told him that they would offer him no other help, unless he would pay for it. This barbarous answer increased his trouble for his father's death, that now he was like to lie unburied, and be made a prey to the wild beasts in the woods; for the ground was very hard, and they had not tools to dig with, and so it was impossible for them to bury him; and having a small matter of money left him, viz., a pagoda and a gold ring, he hired a man, and so buried him in as decent a manner as their condition would permit.
His dead father being thus removed out of his sight, but his ague continuing, he was reduced very low, partly by sorrow and partly by his disease. All the comfort he had was to go into the wood and fields with a book, either the "Practice of Piety" or Mr Rogers's "Seven Treatises," which were the only two books he had, and meditate and read, and sometimes pray; in which his anguish made him often invert Elijah's petition,—that he might die, because his life was a burden to him. God, though He was pleased to prolong his life, yet He found a way to lighten his grief, by removing his ague, and granting him a desire which above all things was acceptable to him. He had read his two books over so often that he had both almost by heart; and though they were both pious and good writings, yet he longed for the truth from the original fountain, and thought it his greatest unhappiness that he had not a Bible, and did believe that he should never see one again; but, contrary to his expectation, God brought him one after this manner. As he was fishing one day with his black boy, to catch some fish to relieve his hunger, an old man passed by them, and asked his boy whether his master could read; and when the boy had answered yes, he told him that he had gotten a book from the Portuguese, when they left Colombo; and, if his master pleased, he would sell it him. The boy told his master, who bade him go and see what book it was. The boy having served the English some time, knew the book, and as soon as he got it into his hand, came running to him, calling out before he came to him, "It is the Bible!" The words startled him, and he flung down his angle to meet him, and, finding it was true, was mightily rejoiced to see it; but he was afraid he should not have enough to purchase it, though he was resolved to part with all the money he had, which was but one pagoda, to buy it; but his black boy persuading him to slight it, and leave it to him to buy it, he at length obtained it for a knit cap.
This accident he could not but look upon as a great miracle, that God should bestow upon him such an extraordinary blessing, and bring him a Bible in his own native language, in such a remote part of the world, where His name was not known, and where it was never heard of that an Englishman had ever been before. The enjoyment of this mercy was a great comfort to him in captivity, and though he wanted no bodily convenience that the country did afford; for the king, immediately after his father's death, had sent an express order to the people of the towns, that they should be kind to him, and give him good victuals; and after he had been some time in the country, and understood the language, he got him good conveniences, as a house and gardens; and falling to husbandry, God so prospered him, that he had plenty, not only for himself, but to lend others; which being, according to the custom of the country, at 50 per cent. a year, much enriched him: he had also goats, which served him for mutton, and hogs and hens. Notwithstanding this, I say, for he lived as fine as any of their noblemen, he could not so far forget his native country as to be contented to dwell in a strange land, where there was to him a famine of God's word and sacraments, the want of which made all other things to be of little value to him; therefore, as he made it his daily and fervent prayer to God, in His good time, to restore him to both, so, at length, he, with one Stephen Rutland, who had lived with him two years before, resolved to make their escape, and, about the year 1673, meditated all secret ways to compass it. They had before taken up a way of peddling about the country, and buying tobacco, pepper, garlic, combs, and all sorts of iron ware, and carried them into those parts of the country where they wanted them; and now, to promote their design, as they went with their commodities from place to place, they discoursed with the country people (for they could now speak their language well) concerning the ways and inhabitants, where the isle was thinnest and fullest inhabited, where and how the watches lay from one country to another, and what commodities were proper for them to carry into all parts; pretending that they would furnish themselves with such wares as the respective places wanted. None doubted but what they did was upon the account of trade, because Mr Knox was so well seated, and could not be supposed to leave such an estate, by travelling northward, because that part of the land was least inhabited; and so, furnishing themselves with such wares as were vendible in those parts, they set forth, and steered their course towards the north part of the islands, knowing very little of the ways, which were generally intricate and perplexed, because they have no public roads, but a multitude of little paths from one town to another, and those often changing; and for white men to inquire about the ways was very dangerous, because the people would presently suspect their design.
At this time they travelled from Conde Uda as far as the country of Nuwarakalawiya, which is the furthermost part of the king's dominions, and about three days' journey from their dwelling. They were very thankful to Providence that they had passed all difficulties so far, but yet they durst not go any farther, because they had no wares left to traffic with; and it being the first time they had been absent so long from home, they feared the townsmen would come after them to seek for them; and so they returned home, and went eight or ten times into those parts with their wares, till they became well acquainted both with the people and the paths.