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The Pirates Own Book by Charles Ellms

Part 3 out of 7

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be affixed to these presents. Done at the City of Washington the sixth
day of July, AD. 1835, and of the independence of the United States and
sixtieth. Andrew Jackson.

On the fatal morning of June 11th, 1835, Don Pedro, Juan Montenegro,
Manuel Castillo, Angel Garcia and Manuel Boyga, were, agreeably to
sentence, summoned to prepare for immediate execution. On the night
previous, a mutual agreement had been entered into to commit suicide.
Angel Garcia made the first attempt by trying to open the veins of each
arm with a piece of glass; but was prevented. In the morning, however,
while preparations were making for the execution, Boyga succeeded in
inflicting a deep gash on the left side of his neck, with a piece of
tin. The officer's eyes had been withdrawn from him scarcely a minute,
before he was discovered lying on his pallet, with a convulsive motion
of his knees, from loss of blood. Medical aid was at hand, the gash
sewed up, but he did not revive. Two Catholic clergymen attended them on
the scaffold, one a Spanish priest. They were executed in the rear of
the jail. When the procession arrived at the foot of the ladder leading
up to the platform of the gallows the Rev. Mr. Varella looking directly
at Capt. Gilbert, said, "Spaniards, ascend to heaven." Don Pedro mounted
with a quick step, and was followed by his comrades at a more moderate
pace, but without the least hesitation. Boyga, unconscious of his
situation and destiny, was carried up in a chair, and seated beneath the
rope prepared for him. Gilbert, Montenegro, Garcia and Castillo all
smiled subduedly as they took their stations on the platform. Soon after
Capt. Gilbert ascended the scaffold, he passed over to where the
apparently lifeless Boyga was seated in the chair, and kissed him.
Addressing his followers, he said, "Boys, we are going to die; but let
us be firm, for we are innocent." To Mr. Peyton, the interpreter, he
said, "I die innocent, but I'll die like a noble Spaniard. Good bye,
brother." The Marshal having read the warrant for their execution, and
stated that de Soto was respited _sixty_ and Ruiz _thirty_ days, the
ropes were adjusted round the necks of the prisoners, and a slight
hectic flush spread over the countenance of each; but not an eye
quailed, nor a limb trembled, not a muscle quivered. The fatal cord was
now cut, and the platform fell, by which the prisoners were launched
into eternity. After the execution was over, Ruiz, who was confined in
his cell, attracted considerable attention, by his maniac shouts and
singing. At one time holding up a piece of blanket, stained with Boyga's
blood, he gave utterance to his ravings in a sort of recitative, the
burden of which was--"This is the red flag my companions died under!"

After the expiration of Ruiz' second respite, the Marshal got two
surgeons of the United States Navy, who understood the Spanish language,
to attend him in his cell; they, after a patient examination pronounced
his madness a counterfeit, and his insanity a hoax. Accordingly, on the
morning of Sept. 11th, the Marshal, in company with a Catholic priest
and interpreter entered his cell, and made him sensible that longer
evasion of the sentence of the law was impossible, and that he must
surely die. They informed him that he had but half an hour to live, and
retired; when he requested that he might not be disturbed during the
brief space that remained to him, and turning his back to the open
entrance to his cell, he unrolled some fragments of printed prayers, and
commenced reading them to himself. During this interval he neither
spoke, nor heeded those who were watching him; but undoubtedly suffered
extreme mental agony. At one minute he would drop his chin on his bosom,
and stand motionless; at another would press his brow to the wall of his
cell, or wave his body from side to side, as if wrung with unutterable
anguish. Suddenly, he would throw himself upon his knees on the
mattress, and prostrate himself as if in prayer; then throwing his
prayers from him, he would clutch his rug in his fingers, and like a
child try to double it up, or pick it to pieces. After snatching up his
rug and throwing it away again and again, he would suddenly resume his
prayers and erect posture, and stand mute, gazing through the aperture
that admitted the light of day for upwards of a minute. This scene of
imbecility and indecision, of horrible prostration of mind, ceasing in
some degree when the Catholic clergyman re-entered his cell.

At 10 o'clock, the prisoner was removed from the prison, and during his
progress to the scaffold, though the hue of death was on his face, and
he trembled in every joint with fear, he chaunted with a powerful voice
an appropriate service from the Catholic ritual. Several times he turned
round to survey the heavens which at that moment were clear and bright
above him and when he ascended the scaffold after concluding his prayer,
he took one long and steadfast look at the sun, and waited in silence
his fate. His powers, mental and physical had been suddenly crushed with
the appalling reality that surrounded him; his whole soul was absorbed
with one master feeling, the dread of a speedy and violent death. He
quailed in the presence of the dreadful paraphernalia of his punishment,
as much as if he had been a stranger to deeds of blood, and never dealt
death to his fellow man as he ploughed the deep, under the black flag of
piracy, with the motto of "Rob, Kill, and Burn." After adjusting the
rope, a signal was given. The body dropped heavily, and the harsh abrupt
shock must have instantly deprived him of sensation, as there was no
voluntary action of the hands afterwards. Thus terminated his career of
crime in a foreign land without one friend to recognize or cheer him, or
a single being to regret his death.

The Spanish Consul having requested that the bodies might not be given
to the faculty, they were interred at night under the direction of the
Marshal, in the Catholic burial-ground at Charlestown. There being no
murder committed with the piracy, the laws of the United States do not
authorize the court to order the bodies for dissection.

[Illustration: _Ruiz leaving the Panda._]


The following narrative of the career of a desperate pirate who was
executed in Gibraltar in the month of January, 1830, is one of two
letters from the pen of the author of "the Military Sketch-Book." The
writer says Benito de Soto "had been a prisoner in the garrison for
nineteen months, during which time the British Government spared neither
the pains not expense to establish a full train of evidence against him.
The affair had caused the greatest excitement here, as well as at Cadiz,
owing to the development of the atrocities which marked the character of
this man, and the diabolical gang of which he was the leader. Nothing
else is talked of; and a thousand horrors are added to his guilt, which,
although he was guilty enough, he has no right to bear. The following is
all the authentic information I could collect concerning him. I have
drawn it from his trial, from the confession of his accomplices, from
the keeper of his prison, and not a little from his own lips. It will be
found more interesting than all the tales and sketches furnished in the
'Annuals,' magazines, and other vehicles of invention, from the simple
fact--that it is truth and not fiction."

Benito de Soto was a native of a small village near Courna; he was bred
a mariner, and was in the guiltless exercise of his calling at Buenos
Ayres, in the year 1827. A vessel was there being fitted out for a
voyage to the coast of Africa, for the smuggling of slaves; and as she
required a strong crew, a great number of sailors were engaged, amongst
whom was Soto. The Portuguese of South America have yet a privilege of
dealing in slaves on a certain part of the African coast, but it was the
intention of the captain of this vessel to exceed the limits of his
trade, and to run farther down, so as to take his cargo of human beings
from a part of the country which was proscribed, in the certainty of
being there enabled to purchase slaves at a much lower rate than he
could in the regular way; or, perhaps, to take away by force as many as
he could stow away into his ship. He therefore required a considerable
number of hands for the enterprise; and in such a traffic, it may be
easily conceived, that the morals of the crew could not be a subject of
much consideration with the employer. French, Spanish, Portuguese, and
others, were entered on board, most of them renegadoes, and they set
sail on their evil voyage, with every hope of infamous success.

Those who deal in evil carry along with them the springs of their own
destruction, upon which they will tread, in spite of every caution, and
their imagined security is but the brink of the pit into which they are
to fall. It was so with the captain of this slave-ship. He arrived in
Africa, took in a considerable number of slaves, and in order to
complete his cargo, went on shore, leaving his mate in charge of the
vessel. This mate was a bold, wicked, reckless and ungovernable spirit,
and perceiving in Benito de Soto a mind congenial with his own, he fixed
on him as a fit person to join in a design he had conceived, of running
away with the vessel, and becoming a pirate. Accordingly the mate
proposed his plan to Soto, who not only agreed to join in it, but
declared that he himself had been contemplating a similar enterprise
during the voyage. They both were at once of a mind, and they lost no
time in maturing their plot.

Their first step was to break the matter to the other members of the
crew. In this they proceeded cautiously, and succeeded so far as to
gain over twenty-two of the whole, leaving eighteen who remained
faithful to their trust. Every means were used to corrupt the well
disposed; both persuasion and threats were resorted to, but without
effect, and the leader of the conspiracy, the mate, began to despair of
obtaining the desired object. Soto, however, was not so easily
depressed. He at once decided on seizing the ship upon the strength of
his party: and without consulting the mate, he collected all the arms of
the vessel, called the conspirators together, put into each of their
possession a cutlass and a brace of pistols, and arming himself in like
manner, advanced at the head of the gang, drew his sword, and declared
the mate to be the commander of the ship, and the men who joined him
part owners. Still, those who had rejected the evil offer remained
unmoved; on which Soto ordered out the boats, and pointing to the land,
cried out, "There is the African coast; this is our ship--one or the
other must be chosen by every man on board within five minutes."

This declaration, although it had the effect of preventing any
resistance that might have been offered by the well disposed, to the
taking of the vessel, did not change them from their purpose; they still
refused to join in the robbery, and entered one by one into the boat, at
the orders of Soto, and with but one pair of oars (all that was allowed
to them) put off for the shore, from which they were then ten miles
distant. Had the weather continued calm, as it was when the boat left
the ship, she would have made the shore by dusk; but unhappily a strong
gale of wind set in shortly after her departure, and she was seen by
Soto and his gang struggling with the billows and approaching night, at
such a distance from the land as she could not possibly accomplish while
the gale lasted. All on board the ship agreed in opinion that the boat
could not live, as they flew away from her at the rate of ten knots an
hour, under close reefed topsails, leaving their unhappy messmates to
their inevitable fate. Those of the pirates who were lately executed at
Cadiz, declared that every soul in the boat perished.

[Illustration: _The Pirates carrying rum on shore to purchase slaves._]

The drunken uproar which that night reigned in the pirate ship was in
horrid unison with the raging elements around her; contention and
quarrelling followed the brutal ebriety of the pirates; each evil spirit
sought the mastery of the others, and Soto's, which was the fiend of
all, began to grasp and grapple for its proper place--the head of such a
diabolical community.

The mate (now the chief) at once gave the reins to his ruffian tyranny;
and the keen eye of Soto saw that he who had fawned with him the day
before, would next day rule him with an iron rod. Prompt in his actions
as he was penetrating in his judgment, he had no sooner conceived a
jealousy of the leader than he determined to put him aside; and as his
rival lay in his drunken sleep, Soto put a pistol to his head, and
deliberately shot him. For this act he excused himself to the crew, by
stating to them that it was in _their_ protection he did the act; that
_their_ interest was the other's death; and concluded by declaring
himself their leader, and promising a golden harvest to their future
labors, provided they obeyed him. Soto succeeded to the height of his
wishes, and was unanimously hailed by the crew as their captain.

On board the vessel, as I before stated, were a number of slaves, and
these the pirates had well secured under hatches. They now turned their
attention to those half starved, half suffocated creatures;--some were
for throwing them overboard, while others, not less cruel, but more
desirous of gain, proposed to take them to some port in one of those
countries that deal in human beings, and there sell them. The latter
recommendation was adopted, and Soto steered for the West Indies, where
he received a good price for his slaves. One of those wretched
creatures, a boy, he reserved as a servant for himself; and this boy was
destined by Providence to be the witness of the punishment of those
white men who tore away from their homes himself and his brethren. He
alone will carry back to his country the truth of Heaven's retribution,
and heal the wounded feelings of broken kindred with the recital of it.

The pirates now entered freely into their villainous pursuit, and
plundered many vessels; amongst others was an American brig, the
treatment of which forms the _chef d'oeuvre_ of their atrocity. Having
taken out of this brig all the valuables they could find, they hatched
down all hands to the hold, except a black man, who was allowed to
remain on deck for the special purpose of affording in his torture an
amusing exhibition to Soto and his gang. They set fire to the brig, then
lay to, to observe the progress of the flames; and as the miserable
African bounded from rope to rope, now climbing to the mast head--now
clinging to the shrouds--now leaping to one part of the vessel, and now
to another,--their enjoyment seemed raised to its heighest pitch. At
length the hatches opened to the devouring element, the tortured victim
of their fiendish cruelty fell exhausted into the flames, and the horrid
and revolting scene closed amidst the shouts of the miscreants who had
caused it.

Of their other exploits, that which ranks next in turpitude, and which
led to their overthrow, was the piracy of the Morning Star. They fell in
with that vessel near the island Ascension, in the year 1828, as she was
on her voyage from Ceylon to England. This vessel, besides a valuable
cargo, had on board several passengers, consisting of a major and his
wife, an assistant surgeon, two civilians, about five and twenty invalid
soldiers, and three or four of their wives. As soon as Benito de Soto
perceived the ship, which was at daylight on the 21st of February, he
called up all hands, and prepared for attacking her; he was at the time
steering on an opposite course to that of the Morning Star. On
reconnoitring her, he at first supposed she was a French vessel; but
Barbazan, one of his crew, who was himself a Frenchman, assured him the
ship was British. "So much the better," exclaimed Soto, in English (for
he could speak that language), "we shall find the more booty." He then
ordered the sails to be squared, and ran before the wind in chase of his
plunder, from which he was about two leagues distant.

The Defensor de Pedro, the name of the pirate ship, was a fast sailer,
but owing to the press of canvas which the Morning Star hoisted soon
after the pirate had commenced the chase, he did not come up with her so
quickly as he had expected: the delay caused great uneasiness to Soto,
which he manifested by muttering curses, and restlessness of manner.
Sounds of savage satisfaction were to be heard from every mouth but his
at the prospect; he alone expressed his anticipated pleasure by oaths,
menaces, and mental inquietude. While Barbazan was employed in
superintending the clearing of the decks, the arming and breakfasting of
the men, he walked rapidly up and down, revolving in his mind the plan
of the approaching attack, and when interrupted by any of the crew, he
would run into a volley of imprecations. In one instance, he struck his
black boy a violent blow with a telescope, because he asked him if he
would have his morning cup of chocolate; as soon, however, as he set his
studding sails, and perceived that he was gaining on the Morning Star,
he became somewhat tranquil, began to eat heartily of cold beef, drank
his chocolate at a draught, and coolly sat down on the deck to smoke a

In less than a quarter of an hour, the pirate had gained considerable on
the other vessel. Soto now, without rising from where he sat, ordered a
gun, with blank cartridge, to be fired, and the British colors to be
hoisted: but finding this measure had not the effect of bringing the
Morning Star to, he cried out, "Shot the long gun and give it her point
blank." The order was obeyed, but the shot fell short of the intention,
on which he jumped up and cursed the fellows for bunglers who had fired
the gun. He then ordered them to load with canister shot, and took the
match in his own hand. He did not, however, fire immediately, but waited
until he was nearly abreast of his victim; then directing the aim
himself, and ordering a man to stand by the flag to haul it down, fired
with an air that showed he was sure of his mark. He then ran to haul up
the Colombian colors, and having done so, cried out through the speaking
trumpet, "Lower your boat down this moment, and let your captain come on
board with his papers."

During this fearful chase the people on board the Morning Star were in
the greatest alarm; but however their apprehensions might have been
excited, that courage, which is so characteristic of a British sailor,
never for a moment forsook the captain. He boldly carried on sail, and
although one of the men fell from a wound, and the ravages of the shot
were every where around him, he determined not to strike. But unhappily
he had not a single gun on board, and no small arms that could render
his courage availing. The tears of the women, and the prudent advice of
the passengers overcoming his resolution, he permitted himself to be
guided by the general opinion. One of the passengers volunteered himself
to go on board the pirate, and a boat was lowered for the purpose. Both
vessels now lay to within fifty yards of each other, and a strong hope
arose in those on board the Morning Star, that the gentleman who had
volunteered to go to the pirate, might, through his exertions, avert, at
least, the worst of the dreaded calamity.

Some people here, in their quiet security, have made no scruple of
declaring, that the commanding officer of the soldiers on board should
not have so tamely yielded to the pirate, particularly as he had his
wife along with him, and consequently a misfortune to dread, that might
be thought even worse than death: but all who knew the true state of the
circumstances, and reflect upon it, will allow that he adopted the only
chance of escaping that, which was to be most feared by a husband. The
long gun, which was on a pivot in the centre of the pirate ship, could
in a few shots sink the Morning Star; and even had resistance been made
to the pirates as they boarded her--had they been killed or made
prisoners--the result would not be much better. It was evident that the
Defensor de Pedro was the best sailer, consequently the Morning Star
could not hope to escape; in fact, submission or total destruction was
the only choice. The commanding officer, therefore, acted for the best
when he recommended the former. There was some slight hope of escaping
with life, and without personal abuse, by surrendering, but to contend
must be inevitable death.

The gentleman who had gone in a boat to the pirate returned in a short
time, exhibiting every proof of the ill treatment he had received from
Soto and his crew. It appears that when the villains learned that he was
not the captain, they fell upon and beat him, as well as the sailors
along with him, in a most brutal manner, and with the most horrid
imprecations told him, that if the captain did not instantly come, on
his return to the vessel, they would blow the ship out of the water.
This report as once decided the captain in the way he was to act.
Without hesitation he stepped into the boat, taking with him his second
mate, three soldiers and a sailor boy, and proceeded to the pirate. On
going on board that vessel, along with the mate, Soto, who stood near
the mainmast, with his drawn cutlass in his hand, desired him to
approach, while the mate was ordered, by Barbazan, to go to the
forecastle. Both these unfortunate individuals obeyed, and were
instantly slaughtered.

Soto now ordered six picked men to descend into the boat, amongst whom
was Barbazan. To him the leader addressed his orders, the last of which
was, to take care to put all in the prize to death, and then sink her.

The six pirates, who proceeded to execute his savage demand, were all
armed alike,--they each carried a brace of pistols, a cutlass and a long
knife. Their dress was composed of a sort of coarse cotton chequered
jacket and trowsers, shirts that were open at the collar, red woollen
caps, and broad canvas waistbelts, in which were the pistols and the
knives. They were all athletic men, and seemed such as might well be
trusted with the sanguinary errand on which they were despatched. While
the boat was conveying them, Soto held in his hand a cutlass, reddened
with the blood of the murdered captain, and stood scowling on them with
silence: while another ruffian, with a lighted match, stood by the long
gun, ready to support the boarding, if necessary, with a shot that
would sweep the deck.

As the boarders approached the Morning Star, the terror of the females
became excessive; they clung to their husbands in despair, who
endeavored to allay their fears by their own vain hopes, assuring them
that a quiet submission nothing more than the plunder of the vessel was
to be apprehended. But a few minutes miserably undeceived them. The
pirates rapidly mounted the side, and as they jumped on deck, commenced
to cut right and left at all within their reach, uttering at the same
time the most dreadful oaths. The females, screaming, hurried to hide
themselves below as well as they were able, and the men fell or fled
before the pirates, leaving them entire masters of the decks.

[Illustration: _The mate begging for his life._]

When the pirates had succeeded in effectually prostrating all the people
on deck, they drove most of them below, and reserved the remainder to
assist in their operations. Unless the circumstances be closely
examined, it may be wondered how six men could have so easily overcome a
crew of English seamen supported by about twenty soldiers with a major
at their head:--but it will not appear so surprising, when it is
considered that the sailors were altogether unarmed, the soldiers were
worn out invalids, and more particularly, that the pirate carried a
heavy long gun, ready to sink her victim at a shot. Major Logie was
fully impressed with the folly of opposing so powerful and desperate an
enemy, and therefore advised submission as the only course for the
safety of those under his charge; presuming no doubt that something like
humanity might be found in the breasts even of the worst of men. But
alas! he was woefully deceived in his estimate of the villains' nature,
and felt, when too late, that even death would have been preferable to
the barbarous treatment he was forced to endure.

Beaten, bleeding, terrified, the men lay huddled together in the hold,
while the pirates proceeded in their work of pillage and brutality.
Every trunk was hauled forth, every portable article of value heaped for
the plunder; money, plate, charts, nautical instruments, and seven
parcels of valuable jewels, which formed part of the cargo; these were
carried from below on the backs of those men whom the pirates selected
to assist them, and for two hours they were thus employed, during which
time Soto stood upon his own deck directing the operations; for the
vessels were within a hundred yards of each other. The scene which took
place in the cabin exhibited a licentious brutality. The sick officer,
Mr. Gibson, was dragged from his berth; the clothes of the other
passengers stripped from their backs, and the whole of the cabin
passengers driven on deck, except the females, whom they locked up in
the round-house on deck, and the steward, who was detained to serve the
pirates with wine and eatables. This treatment, no doubt hastened the
death of Gibson; the unfortunate gentleman did not long survive it. As
the passengers were forced up the cabin ladder, the feelings of Major
Logie, it may be imagined, were of the most heart-rending description.
In vain did he entreat to be allowed to remain; he was hurried away from
even the chance of protecting his defenceless wife, and battened down
with the rest in the hold, there to be racked with the fearful
apprehensions of their almost certain doom.

The labors of the robbers being now concluded, they sat down to regale
themselves, preparatory to the _chef d'oeuvre_ of their diabolical
enterprise; and a more terrible group of demi-devils, the steward
declares, could not be well imagined than commanded his attention at the
cabin table. However, as he was a Frenchman, and naturally polite, he
acquitted himself of the office of cup-bearer, if not as gracefully, at
least as anxiously, as ever did Ganymede herself. Yet, notwithstanding
this readiness to serve the visitors in their gastronomic desires, the
poor steward felt ill-requited; he was twice frightened into an icicle,
and twice thawed back into conscious horror, by the rudeness of those he
entertained. In one instance, when he had filled out a sparkling glass
for a ruffian, and believed he had quite won the heart of the drinker by
the act, he found himself grasped roughly and tightly by the throat, and
the point of a knife staring him in the face. It seems the fellow who
thus seized him, had felt between his teeth a sharp bit of broken glass,
and fancying that something had been put in the wine to poison him, he
determined to prove his suspicions by making the steward swallow what
remained in the bottle from which the liquor had been drawn, and thus
unceremoniously prefaced his command; however, ready and implicit
obedience averted further bad consequences. The other instance of the
steward's jeopardy was this; when the repast was ended, one of the
gentlemen coolly requested him to waive all delicacy, and point out the
place in which the captain's money was concealed. He might as well have
asked him to produce the philosopher's stone. However, pleading the
truth was of no use; his determined requisitor seconded the demand by
snapping a pistol at his breast; having missed fire, he recocked, and
again presented; but the fatal weapon was struck aside by Barbazan, who
reproved the rashness with a threat, and thus averted the steward's
impending fate. It was then with feelings of satisfaction he heard
himself ordered to go down to the hold, and in a moment he was bolted in
among his fellow sufferers.

The ruffians indulged in the pleasures of the bottle for some time
longer, and then having ordered down the females, treated them with even
less humanity than characterized their conduct towards the others. The
screams of the helpless females were heard in the hold by those who were
unable to render them assistance, and agonizing, indeed, must those
screams have been to their incarcerated hearers! How far the brutality
of the pirates was carried in this stage of the horrid proceeding, we
can only surmise; fortunately, their lives were spared, although, as it
afterwards appeared, the orders of Soto were to butcher every being on
board; and it is thought that these orders were not put into action, in
consequence of the villains having wasted so much time in drinking, and
otherwise indulging themselves; for it was not until the loud voice of
their chief was heard to recall them, that they prepared to leave the
ship; they therefore contented themselves with fastening the women
within the cabin, heaping heavy lumber on the hatches of the hold, and
boring holes in the planks of the vessel below the surface of the water,
so that in destroying the unhappy people at one swoop, they might make
up for the lost time. They then left the ship, sinking fast to her
apparently certain fate.

[Illustration: _Horrid abuse of the helpless women in the cabin._]

It may be reasonably supposed, bad as their conduct was towards the
females, and pitiable as was the suffering it produced, that the lives
of the whole left to perish were preserved through it; for the ship must
have gone down if the women had been either taken out of her or
murdered, and those in the hold inevitably have gone with her to the
bottom. But by good fortune, the females succeeded in forcing their way
out of the cabin, and became the means of liberating the men confined in
the hold. When they came on deck, it was nearly dark, yet they could see
the pirate ship at a considerable distance, with all her sails set and
bearing away from them. They prudently waited, concealed from the
possibility of being seen by the enemy, and when the night fell, they
crept to the hatchway, and called out to the men below to endeavor to
effect their liberation, informing them that the pirate was away and out
of sight. They then united their efforts, and the lumber being removed,
the hatches gave way to the force below, so that the released captives
breathed of hope again. The delightful draught, however, was checked,
when the ship was found to contain six feet of water! A momentary
collapse took possession of all their newly excited expectations; cries
and groans of despair burst forth, but the sailors' energy quickly
returned, and was followed by that of the others; they set to work at
the pumps, and by dint of labor succeeded in keeping the vessel afloat.
Yet to direct her course was impossible; the pirates having completely
disabled her, by cutting away her rigging and sawing the masts all the
way through. The eye of Providence, however, was not averted from the
hapless people, for they fell in with a vessel next day that relieved
them from their distressing situation, and brought them to England in

We will now return to Soto, and show how the hand of that Providence
that secured his intended victims, fell upon himself and his wicked
associates. Intoxicated with their infamous success, the night had far
advanced before Soto learned that the people in the Morning Star,
instead of being slaughtered, were only left to be drowned. The
information excited his utmost rage. He reproached Barbazan, and those
who had accompanied them in the boarding, with disobeying his orders,
and declared that now there could be no security for their lives. Late
as the hour was, and long as he had been steering away from the Morning
Star, he determined to put back, in the hope of effectually preventing
the escape of those in the devoted vessel, by seeing them destroyed
before his eyes. Soto was a follower of the principle inculcated by the
old maxim, "Dead men tell no tales;" and in pursuance of his doctrine,
lost not a moment in putting about and running back. But it was too
late; he could find no trace of the vessel, and so consoled himself with
the belief that she was at the bottom of the sea, many fathoms below the
ken and cognizance of Admiralty Courts.

Soto, thus satisfied, bent his course to Europe. On his voyage he fell
in with a small brig, boarded, plundered, sunk her, and, that he might
not again run the hazard of encountering living witnesses of his guilt,
murdered the crew, with the exception of one individual, whom he took
along with him, on account of his knowledge of the course to Corunna,
whither he intended to proceed. But, faithful to his principles of
self-protection, as soon as he had made full use of the unfortunate
sailor, and found himself in sight of the destined port, he came up to
him at the helm, which he held in his hand, "My friend," said he "is
that the harbor of Corunna?"--"Yes," was the reply. "Then," rejoined
Soto, "You have done your duty well, and I am obliged to you for your
services." On the instant he drew a pistol and shot the man; then coolly
flung his body overboard, took the helm himself, and steered into his
native harbor as little concerned as if he had returned from an honest
voyage. At this port he obtained papers in a false name, disposed of a
great part of his booty, and after a short stay set out for Cadiz, where
he expected a market for the remainder. He had a fair wind until he came
within sight of the coast near that city. It was coming on dark and he
lay to, expecting to go into his anchorage next morning, but the wind
shifted to the westward, and suddenly began to blow a heavy gale; it was
right on the land. He luffed his ship as close to the wind as possible,
in order to clear a point that stretched outward, and beat off to
windward, but his lee-way carried him towards the land, and he was
caught when he least expected the trap. The gale increased--the night
grew pitchy dark--the roaring breakers were on his lee-beam--the
drifting vessel strikes, rebounds, and strikes again--the cry of horror
rings through the flapping cordage, and despair is in the eyes of the
demon-crew. Helpless they lie amid the wrath of the storm, and the
darkened face of Heaven, for the first time, strikes terror on their
guilty hearts. Death is before them, but not with a merciful quickness
does he approach; hour after hour the frightful vision glares upon them,
and at length disappears only to come upon them again in a more dreadful
form. The tempest abates, and the sinners were spared for the time.

As the daylight broke they took to their boats, and abandoned the vessel
to preserve their lives. But there was no repentance in the pirates;
along with the night and the winds went the voice of conscience, and
they thought no more of what had passed. They stood upon the beach
gazing at the wreck, and the first thought of Soto, was to sell it, and
purchase another vessel for the renewal of his atrocious pursuits. With
the marked decision of his character, he proposed his intention to his
followers, and received their full approbation. The plan was instantly
arranged; they were to present themselves as honest, shipwrecked
mariners to the authorities at Cadiz; Soto was to take upon himself the
office of mate, or _contra maestra,_ to an imaginary captain, and thus
obtain their sanction in disposing of the vessel. In their assumed
character, the whole proceeded to Cadiz, and presented themselves before
the proper officers of the marine. Their story was listened to with
sympathy, and for a few days every thing went on to their satisfaction.
Soto had succeeded so well as to conclude the sale of the wreck with a
broker, for the sum of one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars; the
contract was signed, but fortunately the money was not yet paid, when
suspicion arose, from some inconsistencies in the pirates' account of
themselves, and six of them were arrested by the authorities. Soto and
one of his crew instantly disappeared from Cadiz, and succeeded in
arriving at the neutral ground before Gibraltar, and six more made their
escape to the Carraccas.

None are permitted to enter the fortress of Gibraltar, without
permission from the governor, or a passport. Soto and his companion,
therefore, took up their quarters at a Posade on the neutral ground, and
resided there in security for several days. The busy and daring mind of
the former could not long remain inactive; he proposed to his companion
to attempt to enter the garrison in disguise and by stealth, but could
not prevail upon him to consent. He therefore resolved to go in alone;
and his object in doing so was to procure a supply of money by a letter
of credit which he brought with him from Cadiz. His companion, more wise
than he, chose the safer course; he knew that the neutral ground was not
much controllable by the laws either of the Spanish or the English, and
although there was not much probability of being discovered, he resolved
not to trust to chance in so great a stake as his life; and he proved to
have been right in his judgment, for had he gone to Gibraltar, he would
have shared the same fate of his chief. This man is the only one of the
whole gang, who has not met with the punishment of his crimes, for he
succeeded in effecting his escape on board some vessel. It is not even
suspected to what country he is gone; but his description, no doubt, is
registered. The steward of the Morning Star informed me, that he is a
tall, stout man, with fair hair, and fresh complexion, of a mild and
gentle countenance, but that he was one of the worst villains of the
whole piratical crew. I believe he is stated to be a Frenchman.

Soto secured his admission into the garrison by a false pass, and took
up his residence at an inferior tavern in a narrow lane, which runs off
the main street of Gibraltar, and is kept by a man of the name of Basso.
The appearance of this house suits well with the associations of the
worthy Benito's life. I have occasion to pass the door frequently at
night, for our barrack, (the Casement,) is but a few yards from it. I
never look at the place without feeling an involuntary sensation of
horror--the smoky and dirty nooks--the distant groups of dark Spaniards,
Moors, and Jews, their sallow countenances made yellow by the fight of
dim oil lamps--the unceiled rafters of the rooms above, seen through
unshuttered windows and the consciousness of their having covered the
atrocious Soto, combine this effect upon me.

In this den the villain remained for a few weeks, and during this time
seemed to enjoy himself as if he had never committed a murder. The story
he told Basso of his circumstances was, that he had come to Gibraltar on
his way to Cadiz from Malaga, and was merely awaiting the arrival of a
friend. He dressed expensively--generally wore a white hat of the best
English quality, silk stockings, white trowsers, and blue frock coat.
His whiskers were large and bushy, and his hair, which was very black,
profuse, long and naturally curled, was much in the style of a London
preacher of prophetic and anti-poetic notoriety. He was deeply browned
with the sun, and had an air and gait expressive of his bold,
enterprising, and desperate mind. Indeed, when I saw him in his cell and
at his trial, although his frame was attenuated almost to a skeleton,
the color of his face a pale yellow, his eyes sunken, and hair closely
shorn; he still exhibited strong traces of what he had been, still
retained his erect and fearless carriage, his quick, fiery, and
malevolent eye, his hurried and concise speech, and his close and
pertinent style of remark. He appeared to me such a man as would have
made a hero in the ranks of his country, had circumstances placed him in
the proper road to fame; but ignorance and poverty turned into the most
ferocious robber, one who might have rendered service and been an honor
to his sunken country. I should like to hear what the phrenologists say
of his head; it appeared to me to be the most peculiar I had ever seen,
and certainly, as far as the bump of _destructiveness_ went, bore the
theory fully out. It is rumored here that the skull has been sent to the
_savans_ of Edinburg; if this be the case, we shall no doubt be made
acquainted with their sage opinions upon the subject, and great
conquerors will receive a farther assurance of how much they resemble in
their physical natures the greatest murderers.

When I visited the pirate in the Moorish castle where he was confined,
he was sitting in his cold, narrow, and miserable cell, upon a pallet of
straw, eating his coarse meal from a tin plate. I thought him more an
object of pity than vengeance; he looked so worn with disease, so
crushed with suffering, yet so affable, frank, and kind in his address;
for he happened to be in a communicative mood, a thing that was by no
means common with him. He spoke of his long confinement, till I thought
the tears were about to start from his eyes, and alluded to his
approaching trial with satisfaction; but his predominant characteristic,
ferocity, appeared in his small piercing black eyes before I left him,
as he alluded to his keeper, the Provost, in such a way that made me
suspect his desire for blood was not yet extinguished. When he appeared
in court on his trial, his demeanor was quite altered; he seemed to me
to have suddenly risen out of the wretch he was in his cell, to all the
qualities I had heard of him; he stood erect and unembarrassed; he spoke
with a strong voice, attended closely to the proceedings, occasionally
examined the witnesses, and at the conclusion protested against the
justice of his trial. He sometimes spoke to the guards around him, and
sometimes affected an air of carelessness of his awful situation, which,
however, did not sit easy upon him. Even here the leading trait of his
mind broke forth; for when the interpreter commenced his office, the
language which he made use of being pedantic and affected, Soto
interrupted him thus, while a scowl sat upon his brow that terrified the
man of words: "I don't understand you, man; speak Spanish like others,
and I'll listen to you." When the dirk that belonged to Mr. Robertson,
the trunk and clothes taken from Mr. Gibson, and the pocket book
containing the ill-fated captain's handwriting were placed before him,
and proved to have been found in his room, and when the maid servant of
the tavern proved that she found the dirk under his pillow every morning
on arranging his bed; and when he was confronted with his own black
slave, between two wax lights, the countenance of the villain appeared
in its true nature, not depressed nor sorrowful, but vivid and
ferocious; and when the patient and dignified governor, Sir George Don,
passed the just sentence of the law upon him, he looked daggers at his
heart, and assumed a horrid silence, more eloquent than words.

The criminal persisted up to the day before his execution in asserting
his innocence, and inveighing against the injustice of his trial, but
the certainty of his fate, and the awful voice of religion, at length
subdued him. He made an unreserved confession of his guilt, and became
truly penitent; gave up to the keeper the blade of a razor which he had
secreted between the soles of his shoes for the acknowledged purpose of
adding suicide to his crimes, and seemed to wish for the moment that was
to send him before his Creator.

I witnessed his execution, and I believe there never was a more contrite
man than he appeared to be; yet there were no drivelling fears upon
him--he walked firmly at the tail of the fatal cart, gazing sometimes at
his coffin, sometimes at the crucifix which he held in his hand. The
symbol of divinity he frequently pressed to his lips, repeated the
prayers spoken in his ear by the attendant clergyman, and seemed
regardless of every thing but the world to come. The gallows was erected
beside the water, and fronting the neutral ground. He mounted the cart
as firmly as he had walked behind it, and held up his face to Heaven and
the beating rain, calm, resigned, but unshaken; and finding the halter
too high for his neck, he boldly stepped upon his coffin, and placed his
head in the noose, then watching the first turn of the wheels, he
murmured "_adios todos_," [Footnote: "Farewell, all."] and leaned
forward to facilitate his fall.

The black slave of the pirate stood upon the battery trembling before
his dying master to behold the awful termination of a series of events,
the recital of which to his African countrymen, when he shall return to
his home, will give them no doubt, a dreadful picture of European
civilization. The black boy was acquitted at Cadiz, but the men who had
fled to the Carraccas, as well as those arrested after the wreck, were
convicted, executed, their limbs severed, and hung on tenter hooks, as a
warning to all pirates.

[Illustration: _The Rock of Gibraltar._]


The easy access to the harbor of New-York, the number of hiding-places
about its waters, and the laxity of its newly organized government,
about the year 1695, made it a great rendezvous of pirates, where they
might dispose of their booty and concert new depredations. As they
brought home with them wealthy lading of all kinds, the luxuries of the
tropics, and the sumptuous spoils of the Spanish provinces, and disposed
of them with the proverbial carelessness of freebooters, they were
welcome visitors to the thrifty traders of New-York. Crews of these
desperadoes, therefore, the runagates of every country and every clime,
might be seen swaggering in open day about the streets, elbowing its
quiet inhabitants, trafficking their rich outlandish plunder at half or
quarter price to the wary merchant; and then squandering their
prize-money in taverns, drinking, gambling, singing, carousing and
astounding the neighborhood with midnight brawl and revelry. At length
these excesses rose to such a height as to become a scandal to the
provinces, and to call loudly for the interposition of government.
Measures were accordingly taken to put a stop to this widely extended
evil, and to drive the pirates out of the colonies.

Among the distinguished individuals who lurked about the colonies, was
Captain Robert Kidd, [Footnote: His real name was William Kidd.] who in
the beginning of King William's war, commanded a privateer in the West
Indies, and by his several adventurous actions, acquired the reputation
of a brave man, as well as an experienced seaman. But he had now become
notorious, as a nondescript animal of the ocean. He was somewhat of a
trader, something more of a smuggler, but mostly a pirate. He had traded
many years among the pirates, in a little rakish vessel, that could run
into all kinds of water. He knew all their haunts and lurking places,
and was always hooking about on mysterious voyages.

Upon the good old maxim of "setting a rogue to catch a rogue," Capt.
Kidd was recommended by the Lord Bellamont, then governor of Barbadoes,
as well as by several other persons, to the government here, as a person
very fit to be entrusted to the command of a government ship, and to be
employed in cruising upon the pirates, as knowing those seas perfectly
well, and being acquainted with all their lurking places; but what
reasons governed the politics of those times, I cannot tell, but this
proposal met with no encouragement here, though it is certain it would
have been of great consequence to the subject, our merchants suffering
incredible damages by those robbers.

Upon this neglect, the lord Bellamont and some others, who knew what
great captures had been made by the pirates, and what a prodigious
wealth must be in their possession, were tempted to fit out a ship at
their own private charge, and to give the command of her to Captain
Kidd; and to give the thing a greater reputation, as well as to keep
their seamen under better command, they procured the king's commission
for the said Capt. Kidd, of which the following is an exact copy:

_William Rex_,

"WILLIAM THE THIRD, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland,
France and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. To our trusty and well
beloved Capt. ROBERT KIDD, commander of the ship the Adventure galley,
or to any other, the commander of the same for the time being,
_Greeting_: Whereas we are informed, that Capt. Thomas Too, John
Ireland, Capt. Thomas Wake, and Capt. William Maze or Mace, and other
subjects, natives or inhabitants of New-York, and elsewhere, in our
plantations in America, have associated themselves with divers others,
wicked and ill-disposed persons, and do, against the law of nations,
commit many and great piracies, robberies and depredations on the seas
upon the parts of America, and in other parts, to the great hindrance
and discouragement of trade and navigation, and to the great danger and
hurt of our loving subjects, our allies, and all others, navigating the
seas upon their lawful occasions. Now KNOW YE, that we being desirous to
prevent the aforesaid mischiefs, and as much as in us lies, to bring the
said pirates, free-booters and sea-rovers to justice, have thought fit,
and do hereby give and grant to the said Robert Kidd, (to whom our
commissioners for exercising the office of Lord High Admiral of England,
have granted a commission as a private man-of-war, bearing date the 11th
day of December, 1695,) and unto the commander of the said ship for the
time being, and unto the officers, mariners, and others which shall be
under your command, full power and authority to apprehend, seize, and
take into your custody as well the said Capt. Thomas Too, John Ireland,
Capt. Thomas Wake, and Capt. Wm. Maze or Mace, as all such pirates,
free-booters, and sea-rovers, being either our subjects, or of other
nations associated with them, which you shall meet with upon the seas or
coasts of America, or upon any other seas or coasts, with all their
ships and vessels, and all such merchandizes, money, goods, and wares as
shall be found on board, or with them, in case they shall willingly
yield themselves; but if they will not yield without fighting, then you
are by force to compel them to yield. And we also require you to bring,
or cause to be brought, such pirates, free-booters, or sea-rovers, as
you shall seize, to a legal trial, to the end they may be proceeded
against according to the law in such cases. And we do hereby command
all our officers, ministers, and other our loving subjects whatsoever,
to be aiding and assisting to you in the premises. And we do hereby
enjoin you to keep an exact journal of your proceedings in execution of
the premises, and set down the names of such pirates, and of their
officers and company, and the names of such ships and vessels as you
shall by virtue of these presents take and seize, and the quantities of
arms, ammunition, provision, and lading of such ships, and the true
value of the same, as near as you judge. And we do hereby strictly
charge and command you, as you will answer the contrary at your peril,
that you do not, in any manner, offend or molest our friends or allies,
their ships or subjects, by colour or pretence of these presents, or the
authority thereby granted. _In witness whereof_, we have caused our
great seal of England to be affixed to these presents. Given at our
court in Kensington, the 26th day of January, 1695, in the 7th year of
our reign."

Capt. Kidd had also another commission, which was called a commission of
reprisals; for it being then war time, this commission was to justify
him in the taking of French merchant ships, in case he should meet with
any; but as this commission is nothing to our present purpose, we shall
not burthen the reader with it.

Previous to sailing, Capt. Kidd buried his bible on the sea-shore, in
Plymouth Sound; its divine precepts being so at variance with his wicked
course of life, that he did not choose to keep a book which condemned
him in his lawless career.

With these two commissions he sailed out of Plymouth in May, 1696, in
the Adventure galley, of 30 guns, and 80 men; the place he first
designed for was New-York; in his voyage thither, he took a French
banker, but this was no act of piracy, he having a commission for that
purpose, as we have just observed.

When he arrived at New-York, he put up articles for engaging more hands,
it being necessary to his ship's crew, since he proposed to deal with a
desperate enemy. The terms he offered, were, that every man should have
a share of what was taken, reserving for himself and owners forty
shares. Upon which encouragement he soon increased his company to 155

[Illustration _Captain Kidd burying his Bible._]

With this company he sailed first for Madeira, where he took in wine and
some other necessaries; from thence he proceeded to Bonavista, one of
the Cape de Verd Islands, to furnish the ship with salt, and from thence
went immediately to St. Jago, another of the Cape de Verd Islands, in
order to stock himself with provisions. When all this was done, he bent
his course to Madagascar, the known rendezvous of pirates. In his way he
fell in with Capt. Warren, commodore of three men of war; he acquainted
him with his design, kept them company two or three days, and then
leaving them, made the best of his way for Madagascar, where he arrived
in February, 1696, just nine months from his departure from Plymouth.

It happened that at this time the pirate ships were most of them out in
search of prey; so that according to the best intelligence Capt. Kidd
could get, there was not one of them at that time about the island;
wherefore, having spent some time in watering his ship and taking in
more provisions, he thought of trying his fortune on the coast of
Malabar, where he arrived in the month of June following, four months
from his reaching Madagascar. Hereabouts he made an unsuccessful cruise,
touching sometimes at the island of Mohila, and sometimes at that of
Johanna, between Malabar and Madagascar. His provisions were every day
wasting, and his ship began to want repair; wherefore, when he was at
Johanna, he found means of borrowing a sum of money from some Frenchmen
who had lost their ship, but saved their effects, and with this he
purchased materials for putting his ship in good repair.

It does not appear all this while that he had the least design of
turning pirate; for near Mohila and Johanna both, he met with several
Indian ships richly laden, to which he did not offer the least violence,
though he was strong enough to have done what he pleased with them; and
the first outrage or depredation I find he committed upon mankind, was
after his repairing his ship, and leaving Johanna; he touched at a place
called Mabbee, upon the Red Sea, where he took some Guinea corn from the
natives, by force. After this, he sailed to Bab's Key, a place upon a
little island at the entrance of the Red Sea. Here it was that he first
began to open himself to his ship's company, and let them understand
that he intended to change his measures; for, happening to talk of the
Mocha fleet, which was to sail that way, he said, "_We have been
unsuccessful hitherto; but courage, my boys, we'll make our fortunes out
of this fleet_"; and finding that none of them appeared averse to it, he
ordered a boat out, well manned, to go upon the coast to make
discoveries, commanding them to take a prisoner and bring him to him, or
get intelligence any way they could. The boat returned in a few days,
bringing him word, that they saw fourteen or fifteen ships ready to
sail, some with English, some with Dutch, and some with Moorish colors.

We cannot account for this sudden change in his conduct, otherwise than
by supposing that he first meant well, while he had hopes of making his
fortune by taking of pirates; but now weary of ill success, and fearing
lest his owners, out of humor at their great expenses, should dismiss
him, and he should want employment, and be marked out for an unlucky
man; rather, I say, than run the hazard of poverty, he resolved to do
his business one way, since he could not do it another.

He therefore ordered a man continually to watch at the mast head, lest
this fleet should go by them; and about four days after, towards
evening, it appeared in sight, being convoyed by one English and one
Dutch man of war. Kidd soon fell in with them, and getting into the
midst of them, fired at a Moorish ship which was next him; but the
men-of-war taking the alarm, bore down upon Kidd, and firing upon him,
obliged him to sheer off, he not being strong enough to contend with
them. Now he had begun hostilities, he resolved to go on, and therefore
he went and cruised along the coast of Malabar. The first prize he met
was a small vessel belonging to Aden; the vessel was Moorish, and the
owners were Moorish merchants, but the master was an Englishman; his
name was Parker. Kidd forced him and a Portuguese that was called Don
Antonio, which were all the Europeans on board, to take on with him; the
first he designed as a pilot, and the last as an interpreter. He also
used the men very cruelly, causing them to be hoisted up by the arms,
and drubbed with a naked cutlass, to force them to discover whether they
had money on board, and where it lay; but as they had neither gold nor
silver on board, he got nothing by his cruelty; however, he took from
them a bale of pepper, and a bale of coffee, and so let them go.

A little time after he touched at Carawar, a place upon the same coast,
where, before he arrived, the news of what he had done to the Moorish
ship had reached them; for some of the English merchants there had
received an account of it from the owners, who corresponded with them;
wherefore, as soon as Kidd came in, he was suspected to be the person
who committed this piracy; and one Mr. Harvey and Mr. Mason, two of the
English factory, came on board and asked for Parker, and Antonio, the
Portuguese; but Kidd denied that he knew any such persons, having
secured them both in a private place in the hold, where they were kept
for seven or eight days, that is, till Kidd sailed from thence.

However, the coast was alarmed, and a Portuguese man-of-war was sent out
to cruise. Kidd met with her, and fought her about six hours, gallantly
enough; but finding her too strong to be taken, he quitted her; for he
was able to run away from her when he would. Then he went to a place
called Porca, where he watered his ship and bought a number of hogs of
the natives to victual his company.

Soon after this, he came up with a Moorish ship, the master whereof was
a Dutchman, called Schipper Mitchell, and chased her under French
colors, which they observing hoisted French colors too; when he came
up with her, he hailed her in French, and they having a Frenchman on
board, answered him in the same language; upon which he ordered them to
send their boat on board; they were obliged to do so, and having
examined who they were, and from whence they came, he asked the
Frenchman who was a passenger, if he had a French pass for himself; the
Frenchman gave him to understand that he had. Then he told the Frenchman
that he must pass for captain, and by----, says he, you are the captain;
the Frenchman durst not refuse doing as he would have him. The meaning
of this was, that he would seize the ship as fair prize, and as if she
had belonged to French subjects, according to a commission he had for
that purpose; though one would think, after what he had already done, he
need not have recourse to a quibble to give his actions a color.

[Illustration: _Captain Kidd attacks the Moorish fleet._]

In short, he took the cargo, and sold it some time after; yet still he
seemed to have some fears upon him, lest these proceedings should have a
bad end; for, coming up with a Dutch ship some time after, when his men
thought of nothing but attacking her, Kidd opposed it; upon which a
mutiny arose, and the majority being for taking the said ship, and
arming themselves to man the boat to go and seize her, he told them,
such as did, never should come on board him again; which put an end to
the design, so that he kept company with the said ship some time,
without offering her any violence. However, this dispute was the
occasion of an accident, upon which an indictment was grounded against
Kidd; for Moor, the gunner, being one day upon deck, and talking with
Kidd about the said Dutch ship, some words arose between them, and Moor
told Kidd, that he had ruined them all; upon which Kidd, calling him a
dog, took up a bucket and struck him with it, which breaking his scull,
he died next day.

But Kidd's penitential fit did not last long; for coasting along
Malabar, he met with a great number of boats, all of which he
plundered. Upon the same coast he also fell in with a Portuguese ship,
which he kept possession of a week, and then having taken out of her
some chests of India goods, thirty jars of butter, with some wax, iron
and a hundred bags of rice, he let her go.

Much about the same time he went to one of the Malabar islands for wood
and water, and his cooper being ashore, was murdered by the natives;
upon which Kidd himself landed, and burnt and pillaged several of their
houses, the people running away; but having taken one, he caused him to
be tied to a tree, and commanded one of his men to shoot him; then
putting to sea again, he took the greatest prize which fell into his
hands while he followed this trade; this was a Moorish ship of 400 tons,
richly laden, named the Queda Merchant, the master whereof was an
Englishman, by the name of Wright; for the Indians often make use of
English or Dutchmen to command their ships, their own mariners not being
so good artists in navigation. Kidd chased her under French colors, and
having come up with her, he ordered her to hoist out her boat and send
on board of him, which being done, he told Wright he was his prisoner;
and informing himself concerning the said ship, he understood there were
no Europeans on board, except two Dutch and one Frenchman, all the rest
being Indians or Armenians, and that the Armenians were part owners of
the cargo. Kidd gave the Armenians to understand, that if they would
offer anything that was worth his taking for their ransom, he would
hearken to it. Upon which, they proposed to pay him 20,000 rupees, not
quite L3,000 sterling; but Kidd judged this would be making a bad
bargain, wherefore he rejected it, and setting the crew on shore, at
different places on the coast, he soon sold as much of the cargo as came
to ten thousand pounds. With part of it he also trafficked, receiving in
exchange provisions, or such other goods as he wanted; by degrees he
disposed of the whole cargo, and when the division was made, it came to
about L200 a man; and having reserved forty shares to himself, his
dividend amounted to about L8,000 sterling.

The Indians along the coast came on board and trafficked with all
freedom, and he punctually performed his bargains, till about the time
he was ready to sail; and then thinking he should have no further
occasion for them, he made no scruple of taking their goods and setting
them on shore, without any payment in money or goods, which they little
expected; for as they had been used to deal with pirates, they always
found them men of honor in the way of trade; a people, enemies to
deceit, and that scorned to rob but in their own way.

Kidd put some of his men on board the Queda Merchant, and with this ship
and his own sailed for Madagascar. As soon as he had arrived and cast
anchor, there came on board of him a canoe, in which were several
Englishmen, who had formerly been well acquainted with Kidd. As soon as
they saw him they saluted him, and told him they were informed he was
come to take them, and hang them, which would be a little unkind in such
an old acquaintance. Kidd soon dissipated their doubts, by swearing he
had no such design, and that he was now in every respect their brother,
and just as bad as they; and calling for a cup of bomboo, drank their
captain's health.

These men belonged to a pirate ship, called the Resolution, formerly the
Mocha Merchant, whereof one Capt. Culliford was commander, and which lay
at anchor not far from them. Kidd went on board with them, promising
them his friendship and assistance, and Culliford in his turn came on
board of Kidd; and Kidd, to testify his sincerity in iniquity, finding
Culliford in want of some necessaries, made him a present of an anchor
and some guns, to fit him out for sea again.

The Adventure galley was now so old and leaky, that they were forced to
keep two pumps continually going; wherefore Kidd shifted all the guns
and tackle out of her into the Queda Merchant, intending her for his
man-of-war; and as he had divided the money before, he now made a
division of the remainder of the cargo; soon after which, the greatest
part of the company left him, some going on board Capt. Culliford, and
others absconding into the country, so that he had not above 40 men

He put to sea, and happened to touch at Amboyna, one of the Dutch spice
islands, where he was told that the news of his actions had reached
England, and that he was there declared a pirate.

The truth of it is, his piracies so alarmed our merchants that some
motions were made in parliament, to inquire into the commission that was
given him, and the persons who fitted him out. These proceedings seem to
lean a little hard upon Lord Bellamont, who thought himself so touched
thereby, that he published a justification of himself in a pamphlet,
after Kidd's execution. In the meantime it was thought advisable, in
order to stop the course of these piracies, to publish a proclamation,
offering the king's free pardon to all such pirates as should
voluntarily surrender themselves, whatever piracies they had been guilty
of, at any time before the last day of April, 1699--that is to say, for
all piracies committed eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, to the
longitude and meridian of Socatora, and Cape Cormorin; in which
proclamation, Avery and Kidd were excepted by name.

When Kidd left Amboyna he knew nothing of this proclamation, for
certainly had he had notice of his being excepted in it, he would not
have been so infatuated, as to run himself into the very jaws of danger;
but relying upon his interest with the lord Bellamont, and fancying that
a French pass or two he found on board some of the ships he took, would
serve to countenance the matter, and that part of the booty he got would
gain him new friends--I say, all these things made him flatter himself
that all would be hushed, and that justice would but wink at him.
Wherefore he sailed directly for Boston laden with booty, with a crew of
swaggering companions at his heels. But no sooner did he show himself in
Boston, than the alarm was given of his reappearance, and measures were
taken to arrest him. The daring character which Kidd had acquired,
however, and the desperate fellows who followed like bull-dogs at his
heels, caused a little delay in his arrest. He took advantage of this to
bury the greater part of his immense treasure, which has never been
found, and then carried a high head about the streets of Boston. He even
attempted to defend himself when arrested, but was secured and thrown
into prison. Such was the formidable character of this pirate and his
crew, that a frigate was sent to convey them to England for trial.

Accordingly a sessions of Admiralty being held at the Old Bailey, in May
1701, Capt. Kidd, Nicholas Churchill, James How, Robert Lumly, William
Jenkins, Gabriel Loff, Hugh Parrot, Richard Barlicorn, Abel Owens and
Darby Mullins, were arraigned for piracy and robbery on the high seas,
and all found guilty except three; these were Robert Lumly, William
Jenkins and Richard Barlicorn, who proving themselves to be apprentices
to some of the officers of the ship, and producing their indentures in
court, were acquitted.

The three above mentioned, though they were proved to be concerned in
taking and sharing the ship and goods mentioned in the indictment, yet,
as the gentlemen of the long robe rightly distinguished, there was a
great difference between their circumstances and the rest; for there
must go an intention of the mind and a freedom of the will to the
committing an act of felony or piracy. A pirate is not to be understood
to be under constraint, but a free agent; for in this case, the bare act
will not make a man guilty, unless the will make it so.

Now a servant, it is true, if he go voluntarily, and have his
proportion, he must be accounted a pirate, for then he acts upon his own
account, and not by compulsion: and these persons, according to the
evidence, received their part, but whether they accounted to their
masters for their shares afterwards, is the matter in question, and what
distinguishes them as free agents, or men that did go under the
compulsion of their masters; which being left to the consideration of
the jury, they found them _not guilty_.

Kidd was tried upon an indictment of murder also, viz. for killing Moor,
the gunner, and found guilty of the same. Nicholas Churchill, and James
How pleaded the king's pardon, as having surrendered themselves within
the time limited in the proclamation, and Col. Bass, governor of West
Jersey, to whom they surrendered, being in court, and called upon,
proved the same. However, this plea was overruled by the court, because
there being four commissioners named in the proclamation, viz. Capt.
Thomas Warren, Israel Hayes, Peter Delannoye, and Christopher Pollard,
Esquires, who were appointed commissioners, and sent over on purpose to
receive the submissions of such pirates as should surrender, it was
adjudged no other person was qualified to receive their surrender, and
that they could not be entitled to the benefit of the said proclamation,
because they had not in all circumstances complied with the conditions
of it.

Darby Mullins urged in his defence, that he served under the king's
commission, and therefore could not disobey his commander without
incurring great punishments; that whenever a ship or ships went out upon
any expedition under the king's commission, the men were never allowed
to call their officers to an account, why they did this, or why they did
that, because such a liberty would destroy all discipline; that if any
thing was done which was unlawful, the officers were to answer it, for
the men did no more than their duty in obeying orders. He was told by
the court, that acting under the commission justified in what was
lawful, but not in what was unlawful. He answered, he stood in need of
nothing to justify him in what was lawful, but the case of seamen must
be very hard, if they must be brought into such danger for obeying the
commands of their officers, and punished for not obeying them; and if
they were allowed to dispute the orders, there could be no such thing as
command kept up at sea.

This seemed to be the best defence the thing could bear; but his taking
a share of the plunder, the seamen's mutinying on board several times,
and taking upon them to control the captain, showed there was no
obedience paid to the commission; and that they acted in all things
according to the custom of pirates and freebooters, which weighing with
the jury, they brought him in guilty with the rest.

As to Capt. Kidd's defence, he insisted much on his own innocence, and
the villainy of his men. He said, he went out in a laudable employment
and had no occasion, being then in good circumstances, to go a pirating;
that the men often mutinied against him, and did as they pleased; that
he was threatened to be shot in the cabin, and that ninety-five left him
at one time, and set fire to his boat, so that he was disabled from
bringing his ship home, or the prizes he took, to have them regularly
condemned, which he said were taken by virtue of a commission under the
broad seal, they having French passes. The captain called one Col.
Hewson to his reputation, who gave him an extraordinary character, and
declared to the court, that he had served under his command, and been in
two engagements with him against the French, in which he fought as well
as any man he ever saw; that there were only Kidd's ship and his own
against Monsieur du Cass, who commanded a squadron of six sail, and they
got the better of him. But this being several years before the facts
mentioned in the indictment were committed, proved of no manner of
service to the prisoner on his trial.

[Illustration: _Captain Kidd hanging in chains._]

As to the friendship shown to Culliford, a notorious pirate, Kidd
denied, and said, he intended to have taken him, but his men being a
parcel of rogues and villains refused to stand by him, and several of
them ran away from his ship to the said pirate. But the evidence being
full and particular against him, he was found guilty as before

When Kidd was asked what he had to say why sentence should not pass
against him, he answered, that _he had nothing to say, but that he had
been sworn against by perjured and wicked people_. And when sentence was
pronounced, he said, _My Lord, it is a very hard sentence. For my part,
I am the most innocent person of them all, only I have been sworn
against by perjured persons_.

Wherefore about a week after, Capt. Kidd, Nicholas Churchill, James How,
Gabriel Loff, Hugh Parrot, Abel Owen, and Darby Mullins, were executed
at Execution Dock, and afterwards hung up in chains, at some distance
from each other, down the river, where their bodies hung exposed for
many years.

Kidd died hard, for the rope with which he was first tied up broke with
his weight and he tumbled to the ground. He was tied up a second time,
and more effectually. Hence came the story of Kidd's being twice hung.

Such is Captain Kidd's true history; but it has given birth to an
innumerable progeny of traditions. The report of his having buried great
treasures of gold and silver which he actually did before his arrest,
set the brains of all the good people along the coast in a ferment.
There were rumors on rumors of great sums of money found here and there,
sometimes in one part of the country sometimes in another; of coins with
Moorish inscriptions, doubtless the spoils of his eastern prizes.

Some reported the treasure to have been buried in solitary, unsettled
places about Plymouth and Cape Cod; but by degrees, various other parts,
not only on the eastern coast but along the shores of the Sound, and
even Manhattan and Long Island were gilded by these rumors. In fact the
vigorous measures of Lord Bellamont had spread sudden consternation
among the pirates in every part of the provinces; they had secreted
their money and jewels in lonely out-of-the-way places, about the wild
shores of the sea coast, and dispersed themselves over the country. The
hand of justice prevented many of them from ever returning to regain
their buried treasures, which remain to this day thus secreted, and are
irrecoverably lost. This is the cause of those frequent reports of trees
and rocks bearing mysterious marks, supposed to indicate the spots where
treasure lay hidden; and many have been the ransackings after the
pirates' booty. A rocky place on the shores of Long Island, called
Kidd's Ledge, has received great attention from the money diggers; but
they have not as yet discovered any treasures.


Vincent Benavides was the son of the gaoler of Quirihue in the district
of Conception. He was a man of ferocious manners, and had been guilty of
several murders. Upon the breaking out of the revolutionary war, he
entered the patriot army as a private soldier; and was a serjeant of
grenadiers at the time of the first Chilian revolution. He, however,
deserted to the Spaniards, and was taken prisoner in their service, when
they sustained, on the plains of Maypo, on the 5th of April, 1818, that
defeat which decided their fortunes in that part of America, and secured
the independence of Chili. Benavides, his brother, and some other
traitors to the Chilian cause, were sentenced to death, and brought
forth in the Plaza, or public square of Santiago, in order to be shot.
Benavides, though terribly wounded by the discharge, was not killed; but
he had the presence of mind to counterfeit death in so perfect a manner,
that the imposture was not suspected. The bodies of the traitors were
not buried, but dragged away to a distance, and there left to be
devoured by the gallinazos or vultures. The serjeant who had the
superintendence of this part of the ceremony, had a personal hatred to
Benavides, on account of that person having murdered some of his
relations; and, to gratify his revenge, he drew his sword, and gave the
dead body, (as he thought,) a severe gash in the side, as they were
dragging it along. The resolute Benavides had fortitude to bear this
also, without flinching or even showing the least indication of life;
and one cannot help regretting that so determined a power of endurance
had not been turned to a better purpose.

Benavides lay like a dead man, in the heap of carcasses, until it became
dark; and then, pierced with shot, and gashed by the sword as he was, he
crawled to a neighboring cottage, the inhabitants of which received him
with the greatest kindness, and attended him with the greatest care.

The daring ruffian, who knew the value of his own talents and courage,
being aware that General San Martin was planning the expedition to Peru,
a service in which there would be much of desperation and danger, sent
word to the General that he was alive, and invited him to a secret
conference at midnight, in the same Plaza in which it was believed
Benavides had been shot. The signal agreed upon, was, that they should
strike fire three times with their flints, as that was not likely to be
answered by any but the proper party, and yet was not calculated to
awaken suspicion.

San Martin, alone, and provided with a brace of pistols, met the
desperado; and after a long conference, it was agreed that Benavides
should, in the mean time, go out against the Araucan Indians; but that
he should hold himself in readiness to proceed to Peru, when the
expedition suited.

Having procured the requisite passports, he proceeded to Chili, where,
having again diverted the Chilians, he succeeded in persuading the
commander of the Spanish troops, that he had force sufficient to carry
on the war against Chili; and the commander in consequence retired to
Valdivia, and left Benavides commander of the whole frontier on the

Having thus cleared the coast of the Spanish commander, he went over to
the Araucans, or rather, he formed a band of armed robbers, who
committed every cruelty, and were guilty of every perfidy in the south
of Chili. Whereever Benavides came, his footsteps were marked with
blood, and the old men, the women, and the children, were butchered lest
they should give notice of his motions.

When he had rendered himself formidable by land, he resolved to be
equally powerful upon the sea. He equipped a corsair, with instructions
to capture the vessels of all nations; and as Araucan is directly
opposite the island of Santa Maria, where vessels put in for
refreshment, after having doubled Cape Horn, his situation was well
adapted for his purpose. He was but too successful. The first of his
prizes was the American ship Hero, which he took by surprise in the
night; the second, was the Herculia, a brig belonging to the same
country. While the unconscious crew were proceeding, as usual, to catch
seals on this island, lying about three leagues from the main land of
Arauca, an armed body of men rushed from the woods, and overpowering
them, tied their hands behind them, and left them under a guard on the
beach. These were no other than the pirates, who now took the Herculia's
own boats, and going on board, surprised the captain and four of his
crew, who had remained to take care of the brig; and having brought off
the prisoners from the beach, threw them all into the hold, closing the
hatches over them. They then tripped the vessel's anchor, and sailing
over in triumph to Arauca, were received by Benavides, with a salute of
musketry fired under the Spanish flag, which it was their chief's
pleasure to hoist on that day. In the course of the next night,
Benavides ordered the captain and his crew to be removed to a house on
shore, at some distance from the town; then taking them out, one by one,
he stripped and pillaged them of all they possessed, threatening them
the whole time with drawn swords and loaded muskets. Next morning he
paid the prisoners a visit and ordered them to the capital, called
together the principal people of the town, and desired each to select
one as a servant. The captain and four others not happening to please
the fancy of any one, Benavides, after saying he would himself take
charge of the captain, gave directions, on pain of instant death, that
some one should hold themselves responsible for the other prisoners.
Some days after this they were called together, and required to serve as
soldiers in the pirates army; an order to which they consented, knowing
well by what they had already seen, that the consequence of refusal
would be fatal.

Benavides, though unquestionably a ferocious savage, was, nevertheless,
a man of resource, full of activity, and of considerable energy of
character. He converted the whale spears and harpoons into lances for
his cavalry, and halberts for his sergeants; and out of the sails he
made trowsers for half of his army; the carpenters he set to work making
baggage carts and repairing his boats; the armourers he kept perpetually
at work, mending muskets, and making pikes; managing in this way, to
turn the skill of every one of his prisoners to some useful account. He
treated the officers, too, not unkindly, allowed them to live in his
house, and was very anxious on all occasions, to have their advice
respecting the equipment of his troops.

Upon one occasion, when walking with the captain of the Herculia, he
remarked, that his army was now almost complete in every respect, except
in one essential particular, and it cut him, he said to the soul, to
think of such a deficiency; he had no trumpets for his cavalry, and
added, that it was utterly impossible to make the fellows believe
themselves dragoons, unless they heard a blast in their ears at every
turn; and neither men nor horses would ever do their duty properly, if
not roused to it by the sound of a trumpet; in short he declared, some
device must be hit upon to supply this equipment. The captain, willing
to ingratiate himself with the pirate, after a little reflection,
suggested to him, that trumpets might easily be made of copper sheets on
the bottoms of the vessels he had taken. "Very true," cried the
delighted chief, "how came I not to think of that before?" Instantly
all hands were employed in ripping off the copper, and the armourers
being set to work under his personal superintendence, the whole camp,
before night, resounded with the warlike blasts of the cavalry.

The captain of the ship, who had given him the brilliant idea of the
copper trumpets, had by these means, so far won upon his good will and
confidence, as to be allowed a considerable range to walk on. He of
course, was always looking out for some plan of escape, and at length an
opportunity occurring, he, with the mate of the Ocean, and nine of his
crew, seized two whale boats, imprudently left on the banks of the
river, and rowed off. Before quitting the shore, they took the
precaution of staving all the other boats, to prevent pursuit, and
accordingly, though their escape was immediately discovered, they
succeeded in getting so much the start of the people whom Benavides sent
in pursuit of them, that they reached St. Mary's Island in safety. Here
they caught several seals upon which they subsisted very miserably till
they reached Valparaiso. It was in consequence of their report of
Benavides proceedings made to Sir Thomas Hardy, the commander-in-chief,
that he deemed it proper to send a ship to rescue if possible, the
remaining unfortunate captives at Arauca.

Benavides having manned the Herculia, it suited the mate, (the captain
and crew being detained as hostages,) to sail with the brig to Chili,
and seek aid from the Spanish governor. The Herculia returned with a
twenty-four pounder, two field-pieces, eleven Spanish officers, and
twenty soldiers, together with the most flattering letters and
congratulations to the worthy ally of his Most Catholic Majesty. Soon
after this he captured the Perseverance, English whaler, and the
American brig Ocean, bound for Lima, with several thousand stand of arms
on board. The captain of the Herculia, with the mate of the Ocean, and
several men, after suffering great hardships, landed at Valparaiso, and
gave notice of the proceedings of Benavides; and in consequence, Sir
Thomas Hardy directed Captain Hall to proceed to Arauca with the convoy,
to set the captives free, if possible.

It was for the accomplishment of this service that Capt. Hall sailed
from Valparaiso; and he called at Conception on his way, in order to
glean information respecting the pirate. Here the Captain ascertained
that Benavides was between two considerable bodies of Chilian force, on
the Chilian side of the Biobio, and one of those bodies between him and
the river.

Having to wait two days at Conception for information, Captain Hall
occupied them in observing the place; the country he describes as green
and fertile, and having none of the dry and desert character of the
environs of Valparaiso. Abundance of vegetables, wood, and also coals,
are found on the shores of the bay.

On the 12th of October, the captain heard of the defeat of Benavides,
and his flight, alone, across the Biobio into the Araucan country; and
also that two of the Americans whom he had taken with him had made their
escape, and were on board the Chacabuco. As these were the only persons
who could give Captain Hall information respecting the prisoners of whom
he was in quest, he set out in search of the vessel, and after two days'
search, found her at anchor near the island of Mocha. From thence he
learned that the captain of the Ocean, with several English and American
seamen had been left at Arauca, when Benavides went on his expedition,
and he sailed for that place immediately.

He was too late, however; the Chilian forces had already made a
successful attack, and the Indians had fled, setting fire to the town
and the ships. The Indians, who were in league with the Chilians, were
every way as wild as those who arrayed themselves under Benavides. Capt.
Hall, upon his return to Conception, though dissuaded from it by the
governor, visited the Indian encampment.

When the captain and his associates entered the courtyard, they observed
a party seated on the ground, round a great tub of wine, who hailed
their entrance with loud shouts, or rather yells, and boisterously
demanded their business; to all appearance very little pleased with the
interruption. The interpreter became alarmed, and wished them to retire;
but this the captain thought imprudent, as each man had his long spear
close at hand, resting against the eaves of the house. Had they
attempted to escape they must have been taken, and possibly sacrificed,
by these drunken savages. As their best chance seemed to lie in treating
them without any show of distrust, they advanced to the circle with a
good humored confidence, which appeased them considerably. One of the
party rose and embraced them in the Indian fashion, which they had
learned from the gentlemen who had been prisoners with Benavides. After
this ceremony they roared out to them to sit down on the ground, and
with the most boisterous hospitality, insisted on their drinking with
them; a request which they cheerfully complied with. Their anger soon
vanished, and was succeeded by mirth and satisfaction, which speedily
became as outrageous as their displeasure had been at first. Seizing a
favorable opportunity, Captain Hall stated his wish to have an interview
with their chief, upon which a message was sent to him; but he did not
think fit to show himself for a considerable time, during which they
remained with the party round the tub, who continued swilling their wine
like so many hogs. Their heads soon became affected, and their
obstreperous mirth increasing every minute, the situation of the
strangers became by no means agreeable.

At length Peneleo's door opened, and the chief made his appearance; he
did not condescend, however, to cross the threshold, but leaned against
the door post to prevent falling, being by some degrees more drunk than
any of his people. A more finished picture of a savage cannot be
conceived. He was a tall, broad shouldered man; with a prodigiously
large head, and a square-shaped bloated face, from which peeped out two
very small eyes, partly hid by an immense superfluity of black, coarse,
oily, straight hair, covering his cheeks, hanging over his shoulders,
and rendering his head somewhat the shape and size of a bee-hive. Over
his shoulders was thrown a poncho of coarse blanket stuff. He received
them very gruffly, and appeared irritated and sulky at having been
disturbed; he was still more offended when he learned that they wished
to see his captive. They in vain endeavored to explain their real views;
but he grunted out his answer in a tone and manner which showed them
plainly that he neither did, nor wished to understand them.

Whilst in conversation with Peneleo, they stole an occasional glance at
his apartment. By the side of the fire burning in the middle of the
floor, was seated a young Indian woman, with long black hair reaching to
the ground; this, they conceived, could be no other than one of the
unfortunate persons they were in search of; and they were somewhat
disappointed to observe, that the lady was neither in tears, nor
apparently very miserable; they therefore came away impressed with the
unsentimental idea, that the amiable Peneleo had already made some
impression on her young heart.

Two Indians, who were not so drunk as the rest, followed them to the
outside of the court, and told them that several foreigners had been
taken by the Chilians in the battle near Chilian, and were now safe. The
interpreter hinted to them that this was probably invented by these
cunning people, on hearing their questions in the court; but he advised
them, as a matter of policy, to give them each a piece of money, and to
get away as far as they could.

Captain Hall returned to Conception on the 23d of October, reached
Valparaiso on the 26th, and in two weeks thereafter, the men of whom he
was in search, made their appearance.

The bloody career of Benavides now drew near to a close. The defeat on
the Chilian side of the Biobio, and the burning of Arauca with the loss
of his vessels, he never recovered. At length, in the end of December
1821, discovering the miserable state to which he was reduced, he
entreated the Intendant of Conception, that he might be received on
giving himself up along with his partisans. This generous chief accepted
his offer, and informed the supreme government; but in the meantime
Benavides embarked in a launch, at the mouth of the river Lebo, and
fled, with the intention of joining a division of the enemy's army,
which he supposed to be at some one of the ports on the south coast of
Peru. It was indeed absurd to expect any good faith from such an
intriguer; for in his letters at this time, he offered his services to
Chili and promised fidelity, while his real intention was still to
follow the enemy. He finally left the unhappy province of Conception,
the theatre of so many miserable scenes, overwhelmed with the misery
which he had caused, without ever recollecting that it was in that
province that he had first drawn his breath.

His despair in the boat made his conduct insupportable to those who
accompanied him, and they rejoiced when they were obliged to put into
the harbor of Topocalma in search of water of which they had run short.
He was now arrested by some patriotic individuals. From the notorious
nature of his crimes, alone, even the most impartial stranger would have
condemned him to the last punishment; but the supreme government wished
to hear what he had to say for himself, and ordered him to be tried
according to the laws. It appearing on his trial that he had placed
himself beyond the laws of society, such punishment was awarded him as
any one of his crimes deserved. As a pirate, he merited death, and as a
destroyer of whole towns, it became necessary to put him to death in
such a manner as might satisfy outraged humanity, and terrify others who
should dare to imitate him. In pursuance of the sentence passed upon
him, he was dragged from the prison in a pannier tied to the tail of a
mule, and was hanged in the great square; his head and hands were
afterwards cut off, in order to their being placed upon high poles, to
point out the places of his horrid crimes, Santa Juona, Tarpellanca and

[Illustration: _The head of Benavides stuck on a pole._]



_With an account of his surprising the Fort at Gambia_.

Davis was born in Monmouthshire, and, from a boy, trained to the sea.
His last voyage from England was in the sloop Cadogan from Bristol, in
the character of chief mate. This vessel was captured by the pirate
England, upon the Guinea coast, whose companions plundered the crew, and
murdered the captain, as is related in England's life.

Upon the death of Captain Skinner, Davis pretended that he was urged by
England to become a pirate, but that he resolutely refused. He added,
that England, pleased with his conduct, had made him captain in room of
Skinner, giving him a sealed paper, which he was not to open until he
was in a certain latitude, and then expressly to follow the given
directions. When he arrived in the appointed place, he collected the
whole crew, and solemnly read his sealed instructions, which contained a
generous grant of the ship and all her stores to Davis and his crew,
requesting them to go to Brazil, and dispose of the cargo to the best
advantage, and make an equal division of the money.

Davis then commanded the crew to signify whether they were inclined to
follow that mode of life, when, to his astonishment and chagrin, the
majority positively refused. Then, in a transport of rage, he desired
them to go where they would.

Knowing that part of the cargo was consigned to merchants in Barbadoes,
they directed their course to that place. When arrived there, they
informed the merchants of the unfortunate death of Skinner, and of the
proposal which had been made to them. Davis was accordingly seized, and
committed to prison, but he having never been in the pirate service,
nothing could be proved to condemn him, and he was discharged without a
trial. Convinced that he could never hope for employment in that quarter
after this detection, he went to the island of Providence, which he knew
to be a rendezvous for pirates. Upon his arrival there, he was
grievously disappointed, because the pirates who frequented that place
had just accepted of his majesty's pardon, and had surrendered.

Captain Rogers having equipped two sloops for trade, Davis obtained
employment in one of these, called the Buck. They were laden with
European goods to a considerable value, which they were to sell or
exchange with the French and Spanish. They first touched at the island
of Martinique, belonging to the French, and Davis knowing that many of
the men were formerly in the pirate service, enticed them to seize the
master, and to run off with the sloop. When they had effected their
purpose, they hailed the other ship, in which they knew that there were
many hands ripe for rebellion, and coming to, the greater part joined
Davis. Those who did not choose to adhere to them were allowed to remain
in the other sloop, and continue their course, after Davis had pillaged
her of what things he pleased.

In full possession of the vessel and stores and goods, a large bowl of
punch was made; under its exhilarating influence, it was proposed to
choose a commander, and to form their future mode of policy. The
election was soon over, and a large majority of legal votes were in
favor of Davis, and no scrutiny demanded, Davis was declared duly
elected. He then drew up a code of laws, to which he himself swore, and
required the same bond of alliance from all the rest of the crew. He
then addressed them in a short and appropriate speech, the substance of
which was, a proclamation of war with the whole world.

They next consulted, what part would be most convenient to clean the
vessel, and it was resolved to repair to Coxon's Hole, at the east end
of the island of Cuba, where they could remain in perfect security, as
the entrance was so narrow that one ship could keep out a hundred.

They, however, had no small difficulty in cleaning their vessel, as
there was no carpenter among them. They performed that laborious task in
the best manner they could, and then made to the north side of
Hispaniola. The first sail they met with was a French ship of twelve
guns, which they captured; and while they were plundering her, another
appeared in view. Enquiring of the Frenchmen, they learned that she was
a ship of twenty-four guns and sixty men. Davis proposed to his crew to
attack her, assuring them that she would prove a rich prize. This
appeared to the crew such a hazardous enterprise, that they were rather
adverse to the measure. But he acquainted them that he had conceived a
stratagem that he was confident would succeed; they might, therefore,
safely leave the matter to his management. He then commenced chase, and
ordered his prize to do the same. Being a better sailer, he soon came up
with the enemy, and showed his black colors. With no small surprise at
his insolence in coming so near them, they commanded him to strike. He
replied, that he was disposed to give them employment until his
companion came up, who was able to contend with them; meanwhile assuring
them that, if they did not strike to him, it would most certainly fare
the worse for them: then giving them a broadside, he received the same
in return.

When the other pirate ship drew near, they, according to the directions
of Davis, appeared upon deck in white shirts, which making an appearance
of numbers, the Frenchman was intimidated, and struck. Davis ordered
the captain with twenty of his men to come on board, and they were all
put in irons except the captain. He then despatched four of his men to
the other ship, and calling aloud to them, desired that his compliments
should be given to the captain, with a request to send a sufficient
number of hands to go on board their new prize, to see what they had got
in her. At the same time, he gave them a written paper with their proper
instructions, even to nail up the small guns, to take out all the arms
and powder, and to go every man on board the new prize. When his men
were on board her, he ordered the greater part of the prisoners to be
removed into the empty vessels, and by this means secured himself from
any attempt to recover their ship.

During three days, these three vessels sailed in company, but finding
that his late prize was a heavy sailer, he emptied her of everything
that he stood in need of, and then restored her to the captain with all
his men. The French captain was so much enraged at being thus miserably
deceived, that, upon the discovery of the stratagem, he would have
thrown himself overboard, had not his men prevented him.

Captain Davis then formed the resolution of parting with the other
prize-ship also, and soon afterwards steered northward, and took a
Spanish sloop. He next directed his course towards the western islands,
and from Cape de Verd islands cast anchor at St. Nicholas, and hoisted
English colors. The Portuguese supposed that he was a privateer, and
Davis going on shore was hospitably received, and they traded with him
for such articles as they found most advantageous. He remained here five
weeks, and he and half of his crew visited the principal town of the
island. Davis, from his appearing in the dress of a gentleman, was
greatly caressed by the Portuguese, and nothing was spared to entertain
and render him and his men happy. Having amused themselves during a
week, they returned to the ship, and allowed the other half of the crew
to visit the capital, and enjoy themselves in like manner. Upon their
return, they cleaned their ship and put to sea, but four of the men were
so captivated with the ladies and the luxuries of the place, that they
remained in the island, and one of them married and settled there.

Davis now sailed for Bonavista, and perceiving nothing in that harbor
steered for the Isle of May. Arrived there, he found several vessels in
the harbor, and plundered them of whatever he found necessary. He also
received a considerable reinforcement of men, the greater part of whom
entered willingly into the piratical service. He likewise made free with
one of the ships, equipped her for his own purpose, and called her the
King James. Davis next proceeded to St. Jago to take in water. Davis,
with some others going on shore to seek water, the governor came to
inquire who they were, and expressed his suspicion of their being
pirates. Upon this, Davis seemed highly affronted, and expressed his
displeasure in the most polite but determined manner. He, however,
hastened on board, informed his men, and suggested the possibility of
surprising the fort during the night. Accordingly, all his men being
well armed, they advanced to the assault; and, from the carelessness of
the guards, they were in the garrison before the inhabitants were
alarmed. Upon the discovery of their danger, they took shelter in the
governor's house, and fortified it against the pirates: but the latter
throwing in some grando shells, ruined the furniture, and killed several

The alarm was circulated in the morning, and the country assembled to
attack them; but, unwilling to stand a siege, the pirates dismounted the
guns, pillaged the fort, and fled to their ships.

When at sea, they mustered their hands, and found that they were seventy
strong. They then consulted among themselves what course they should
steer, and were divided in opinion; but by a majority it was carried to
sail for Gambia, on the coast of Guinea. Of this opinion was the
captain, who having been employed in that trade, was acquainted with the
coast; and informed his companions, that there was always a large
quantity of money deposited in that castle, and he was confident, if the
matter was entrusted to him, he should successfully storm that fort.
From their experience of his former prudence and courage, they
cheerfully submitted to his direction, in the full assurance of success.

Arrived at Gambia, he ordered all his men below, except just so many as
were necessary to work the vessel, that those from the fort, seeing so
few hands, might have no suspicion that she was any other than a trading
vessel. He then ran under the fort and cast anchor, and having ordered
out the boat, manned with six men indifferently dressed, he, with the
master and doctor, dressed themselves like gentlemen, in order that the
one party might look like foremastmen, and the other like merchants. In
rowing ashore, he instructed his men what to say if any questions were
put to them by the garrison.

On reaching land, the party was conducted by a file of musqueteers into
the fort, and kindly received by the governor, who enquired what they
were, and whence they came? They replied, that they were from Liverpool,
and bound for the river Senegal, to trade for gum and elephants teeth;
but that they were chased on that coast by two French men-of-war, and
narrowly escaped being taken. "We were now disposed," continued Davis,
"to make the best of our voyage, and would willingly trade here for
slaves." The governor then inquired what were the principal articles of
their cargo. They replied, that they were iron and plate, which were
necessary articles in that place. The governor then said, that he would
give them slaves for all their cargo; and asked if they had any European
liquor on board. They answered, that they had a little for their own
use, but that he should have a hamper of it. He then treated them with
the greatest civility, and desired them all to dine with him. Davis
answered, that as he was commander of the vessel, it would be necessary
for him to go down to see if she were properly moored, and to give some
other directions; but that these gentlemen might stay, and he would
return before dinner, and bring the hamper with him.

While in the fort, his eyes were keenly employed to discover the
position of the arms, and how the fort might most successfully be
surprised. He discovered that there was a sentry standing near a
guard-house, in which there were a quantity of arms heaped up in a
corner, and that a considerable number of small arms were in the
governor's hall. When he went on board, he ordered some hands on board a
sloop lying at anchor, lest, hearing any bustle they should come to the
aid of the castle; then desiring his men to avoid too much liquor, and
to be ready when he should hoist the flag from the walls, to come to his
assistance, he proceeded to the castle.

Having taken these precautions and formed these arrangements, he ordered
every man who was to accompany him to arm himself with two pair of
pistols, which he himself also did, concealed under their clothes. He
then directed them to go into the guard-room, and fall into
conversation, and immediately upon his firing a pistol out of the
governor's window, to shut the men up, and secure the arms in the

When Davis arrived, dinner not being ready, the governor proposed that
they should pass the time in making a bowl of punch. Davis's boatswain
attending him, had an opportunity of visiting all parts of the house,
and observing their strength. He whispered his intelligence to his
master, who being surrounded by his own friends, and seeing the governor
unattended by any of his retinue, presented a pistol to the breast of
the latter, informing him that he was a dead man, unless he should
surrender the fort and all its riches. The governor, thus taken by
surprise, was compelled to submit; for Davis took down all the pistols
that hung in the hall, and loaded them. He then fired his pistol out of
the window. His men flew like lions, presented their pistols to the
soldiers, and while some carried out the arms, the rest secured the
military, and shut them all up in the guard-house, placing a guard on
the door. Then one of them struck the union flag on the top of the
castle, which the men from the vessel perceiving, rushed to the combat,
and in an instant were in possession of the castle, without tumult or

Davis then harrangued the soldiers, many of whom enlisted with him; and
those who declined, he put on board the small ships, and to prevent the
necessity of a guard, or the possibility of escape, carried off the
sails, rigging and cables.

That day being spent in feasting and rejoicing, the castle saluting the
ship, and the ship the castle, on the day following they proceeded to
examine the contents of their prize. They, however, were greatly
disappointed in their expectations, a large sum of money having been
sent off a few days before. But they found money to the amount of about
two thousand pounds in gold, and many valuable articles of different
kinds. They carried on board their vessel whatever they deemed useful,
gave several articles to the captain and crew of the small vessel, and
allowed them to depart, while they dismounted the guns, and demolished
the fortifications.

After doing all the mischief that their vicious minds could possibly
devise, they weighed anchor; but in the mean time, perceiving a sail
bearing towards them with all possible speed, they hastened to prepare
for her reception, and made towards her. Upon her near approach they
discovered that she was a French pirate of fourteen guns and sixty-four
men, the one half French, and the other half negroes.

The Frenchman was in high expectation of a rich prize, but when he came
nearer, he suspected, from the number of her guns and men, that she was
a small English man-of-war; he determined, notwithstanding, upon the
bold attempt of boarding her, and immediately fired a gun, and hoisted
his black colors: Davis immediately returned the compliment. The
Frenchman was highly gratified at this discovery; both hoisted out their
boats, and congratulated each other. Mutual civilities and good offices
passed, and the French captain proposed to Davis to sail down the coast
with him, in order to look out for a better ship, assuring him that the
very first that could be captured should be his, as he was always
willing to encourage an industrious brother.

They first touched at Sierra Leone, where they espied a large vessel,
and Davis being the swifter sailer, came first up with him. He was not a
little surprised that she did not endeavor to make off, and began to
suspect her strength. When he came alongside of her, she fired a whole
broadside, and hoisted black colors. Davis did the same, and fired a gun
to leeward. The satisfaction of these brothers in iniquity was mutual,
at having thus acquired so much additional strength and ability to
undertake more formidable adventures. Two days were devoted to mirth and
song, and upon the third, Davis and Cochlyn, the captain of the new
confederate, agreed to go in the French pirate ship to attack the fort.
When they approached, the men in the fort, apprehensive of their
character and intentions, fired all the guns upon them at once. The ship
returned the fire, and afforded employment until the other two ships
arrived, when the men in the fort seeing such a number on board, lost
courage, and abandoned the fort to the mercy of the robbers.

They took possession, remained there seven weeks, and cleaned their
vessels. They then called a council of war, to deliberate concerning
future undertakings, when it was resolved to sail down the coast in
company; and, for the greater regularity and grandeur, Davis was chosen
Commodore. That dangerous enemy, strong drink, had well nigh, however,
sown the seeds of discord among these affectionate brethren. But Davis,
alike prepared for council or for war, addressed them to the following
purport: "Hear ye, you Cochlyn and La Boise, (which was the name of the
French captain) I find, by strengthening you, I have put a rod into your
hands to whip myself; but I am still able to deal with you both:
however, since we met in love, let us part in love; for I find that
three of a trade can never agree long together." Upon this, the other
two went on board of their respective ships, and steered different

Davis held down the coast, and reaching Cape Appolonia he captured three
vessels, two English and one Scottish, plundered them, and allowed them
to proceed. In five days after he met with a Dutchman of thirty guns and
ninety men. She gave Davis a broadside, and killed nine of his men; a
desperate engagement ensued, which continued from one o'clock at noon
until nine next morning, when the Dutchman struck.

Davis equipped her for the pirate service, and called her "The Rover."
With his two ships he sailed for the bay of Anamaboa, which he entered
about noon, and took several vessels which were there waiting to take in
negroes, gold, and elephants' teeth. Davis made a present of one of
these vessels to the Dutch captain and his crew, and allowed them to go
in quest of their fortune. When the fort had intelligence that they were
pirates, they fired at them, but without any effect; Davis fired also,
and hoisted the black colors, but deemed it prudent to depart.

The next day after he left Anamaboa, the man at the mast-head discovered
a sail. It may be proper to inform our readers, that, according to the
laws of pirates, the man who first discovers a vessel, is entitled to
the best pair of pistols in the ship, and such is the honor attached to
these, that a pair of them has been known to sell for thirty pounds.

Davis pursued that vessel, which, being between him and the shore,
labored hard to run aground. Davis perceiving this, got between her and
the land, and fired a broadside at her, when she immediately struck. She
proved to be a very rich prize, having on board the Governor of Acra,
with all his substance, going to Holland. There was in money to the
amount of fifteen thousand pounds, besides a large quantity of merchant
goods, and other valuable articles.

Before they reached the Isle of Princes, the St. James sprang a leak, so
that the men and the valuable articles were removed into Davis's own
ship. When he came in sight of the fort he hoisted English colors. The
Portuguese, seeing a large ship sailing towards the shore, sent a sloop
to discover her character and destination. Davis informed them, that he
was an English man-of-war, sent out in search of some pirates which they
had heard were in this quarter. Upon this, he was piloted into the port,
and anchored below the guns at the fort. The governor was happy to have
Englishmen in his harbor; and to do honor to Davis, sent down a file of
musqueteers to escort him into the fort, while Davis, the more to cover
his design, ordered nine men, according to the custom of the English, to
row him on shore.

Davis also took the opportunity of cleaning and preparing all things for
renewing his operations. He, however, could not contentedly leave the
fort, without receiving some of the riches of the island. He formed a
scheme to accomplish his purpose, and communicated the same to his men.
He design was to make the governor a present of a few negroes in return
for his kindness; then to invite him, with a few of the principal men
and friars belonging to the island, to dine on board his ship, and
secure them all in irons, until each of them should give a large ransom.
They were accordingly invited, and very readily consented to go: and
deeming themselves honored by his attention, all that were invited,
would certainly have gone on board. Fortunately however, for them, a
negro, who was privy to the horrible plan of Davis, swam on shore during
the night, and gave information of the danger to the governor.

[Illustration: _Retreat of the Pirates and Death of Captain Davis._]

The governor occupied the whole night in strengthening the defences and
posting the men in the most advantageous places. Soon after day-break,
the pirates, with Captain Davis at their head were discovered landing
from the boats; and quickly marched across the open space toward the
fort. A brisk fire was opened upon them from the fort, which they
returned in a spirited manner. At length, a hand grenade, thrown from
the wooden veranda of the fort killed three of the pirates; but several
of the Portuguese were killed. The veranda of the fort being of wood and
very dry, it was set fire to by the pirates. This was a great advantage
to the attacking party, who could now distinguish those in the fort
without their being so clearly seen themselves; but at this moment
Captain Davis fell, mortally wounded by a musket ball in his belly. The
fall of their chief, and the determined resistance of those in the fort,
checked the impetuosity of the assailants. They hesitated, and at last
retreated, bearing away with them their wounded commander. The
Portuguese cheered, and led on by the governor, now became the
assailants. Still the pirates' retreat was orderly; they fired and
retired rank behind rank successively. They kept the Portuguese at bay
until they had arrived at the boats, when a charge was made and a severe
conflict ensued. But the pirates had lost too many men; and without
their Captain, felt dispirited. As they lifted Davis into the boat in
his dying agonies he fired his pistols at his pursuers. They now pulled
with all their might to escape from the muskets of the Portuguese, who
followed them along the banks of the river, annoying them in their
retreat to the vessel. And those on board, who expected to hoist in
treasure had to receive naught but their wounded comrades and dead



_With a Narrative of the Expedition against the Inhabitants of Quallah
Battoo, commanded by Commodore Downes_.

A glance at the map of the East India Islands will convince us that this
region of the globe must, from its natural configuration and locality;
be peculiarly liable to become the seat of piracy. These islands form an
immense cluster, lying as if it were in the high road which connects the
commercial nations of Europe and Asia with each other, affording a
hundred fastnesses from which to waylay the traveller. A large
proportion of the population is at the same time confined to the coasts
or the estuaries of rivers; they are fishermen and mariners; they are
barbarous and poor, therefore rapacious, faithless and sanguinary. These
are circumstances, it must be confessed, which militate strongly to
beget a piratical character. It is not surprising, then, that the Malays
should have been notorious for their depredations from our first
acquaintance with them.

Among the tribes of the Indian Islands, the most noted for their
piracies are, of course, the most idle, and the least industrious, and
particularly such as are unaccustomed to follow agriculture or trade as
regular pursuits. The agricultural tribes of Java, and many of Sumatra,
never commit piracy at all; and the most civilized inhabitants of
Celebes are very little addicted to this vice.

Among the most confirmed pirates are the true Malays, inhabiting the
small islands about the eastern extremity of the straits of Malacca, and
those lying between Sumatra and Borneo, down to Billitin and Cavimattir.
Still more noted than these, are the inhabitants of certain islands
situated between Borneo and the Phillipines, of whom the most desperate
and enterprising are the Soolos and Illanoons, the former inhabiting a
well known group of islands of the same name, and the latter being one
of the most numerous nations of the great island of Magindando. The
depredations of the proper Malays extend from Junkceylon to Java,
through its whole coast, as far as Grip to Papir and Kritti, in Borneo
and the western coast of Celebes. In another direction they infest the
coasting trade of the Cochin Chinese and Siamese nations in the Gulf of
Siam, finding sale for their booty, and shelter for themselves in the
ports of Tringham, Calantan and Sahang. The most noted piratical
stations of these people are the small islands about Lingin and Rhio,
particularly Galang, Tamiang and Maphar. The chief of this last has
seventy or eighty proas fit to undertake piratical expeditions.

The Soolo pirates chiefly confine their depredations to the Phillipine
Islands, which they have continued to infest, with little interruption,
for near three centuries, in open defiance of the Spanish authorities,
and the numerous establishments maintained to check them. The piracies
of the Illanoons, on the contrary, are widely extended, being carried on
all the way from their native country to the Spice Islands, on one side,
and to the Straits of Malacca on the other. In these last, indeed, they
have formed, for the last few years, two permanent establishments; one
of these situated on Sumatra, near Indragiri, is called Ritti, and the
other a small island on the coast of Linga, is named Salangut. Besides
those who are avowed pirates, it ought to be particularly noticed that a
great number of the Malayan princes must be considered as accessories to
their crimes, for they afford them protection, contribute to their
outfit, and often share in their booty; so that a piratical proa is too
commonly more welcome in their harbours than a fair trader.

The Malay piratical proas are from six to eight tons burden, and run
from six to eight fathoms in length. They carry from one to two small
guns, with commonly four swivels or rantakas to each side, and a crew of
from twenty to thirty men. When they engage, they put up a strong
bulwark of thick plank; the Illanoon proas are much larger and more
formidable, and commonly carry from four to six guns, and a
proportionable number of swivels, and have not unfrequently a double
bulwark covered with buffalo hides; their crews consist of from forty to
eighty men. Both, of course, are provided with spears, krisses, and as
many fire arms as they can procure. Their modes of attack are cautious
and cowardly, for plunder and not fame is their object. They lie
concealed under the land, until they find a fit object and opportunity.
The time chosen is when a vessel runs aground, or is becalmed, in the
interval between the land and sea breezes. A vessel underway is seldom
or never attacked. Several of the marauders attack together, and station
themselves under the bows and quarters of a ship when she has no longer
steerage way, and is incapable of pointing her guns. The action
continues often for several hours, doing very little mischief; but when
the crew are exhausted with the defence, or have expended their
ammunition, the pirates take this opportunity of boarding in a mass.
This may suggest the best means of defence. A ship, when attacked during
a calm, ought, perhaps, rather to stand on the defensive, and wait if
possible the setting in of the sea breeze, than attempt any active
operations, which would only fatigue the crew, and disable them from
making the necessary defence when boarding is attempted. Boarding
netting, pikes and pistols, appear to afford effectual security; and,
indeed, we conceive that a vessel thus defended by resolute crews of
Europeans or Americans stand but little danger from any open attack of
pirates whatsoever; for their guns are so ill served, that neither the
hull or the rigging of a vessel can receive much damage from them,
however much protracted the contest. The pirates are upon the whole
extremely impartial in the selection of their prey, making little choice
between natives and strangers, giving always, however, a natural
preference to the most timid, and the most easily overcome.

When an expedition is undertaken by the Malay pirates, they range
themselves under the banner of some piratical chief noted for his
courage and conduct. The native prince of the place where it is
prepared, supplies the adventurers with arms, ammunition and opium, and
claims as his share of the plunder, the female captives, the cannon, and
one third of all the rest of the booty.

In Nov. 1827, a principal chief of pirates, named Sindana, made a
descent upon Mamoodgoo with forty-five proas, burnt three-fourths of the

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