The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Captain Cornelius, And his Crew.

HAving now the Command of the Morning Star, Cornelius kept on the Coast, and made several Prizes both English and Portuguese; the former he always discharged, after he had taken what he thought fitting, but the latter he commonly burnt.

While he was thus ravaging the Coast, two English Ships which had slaved at Whydah, one of 36 Guns, and the other of 12, which fought close, were ready to sail; and having Notice of a Pyrate, who had done great Mischief, resolved to keep Company together for their Defence. The Captain of the small Ship lay sick in his Cabbin, and she was left to the Care of the Mates. When they had got under Sail, 200 Negroes jump'd over board from the larger Ships, which obliged her to bring to and get out her Boats; the Mate of the other went into the Cabbin, told the Accident, and advised lying by, and sending their Boats to assist their Consort; but the Captain being ill, and willing to get off the Coast, bid him keep on his Way, for it would be dangerous, having 400 Slaves on board, and being but weakly mann'd, when the Boats were gone they might rise upon him. The Mate urged the Danger of the pyrates, should they leave their Consort. The Captain answered, the Seas were wide, and he would not bring to; accordingly they kept on their Way with a fresh Gale.

Two Days after, the Mate about Eight in the Morning, ordered a Man to the Mast-head, who spied a Sail, which made them prepare for an Engagement. There was on board one Joseph Williams, who had served the African Company three Years on the Guiney Coast, who spoke the Negroe Tongue very well; he told the Slaves he had pick'd out to the Number of 50, that the Ship in Sight he believed would fight them, and if they got the better, would certainly, as they were Cannibals, kill and eat them all, and therefore it behoved them to fight for their Lives; they had Lances and small Arms given them.

About Ten Cornelius came up with them, and being haled, answered, he was a Man of War, in Search of pyrates, and bid them send their Boat on board; but they refusing to trust him, tho’ he had English Colours and Pendent aboard, the Pyrate fired a Broadside, and they began a running Fight of about 10 Hours, in which Time the Negroes discharged their Arms so smartly, that Cornelius never durst attempt to board. About 8 at Night the Ship blew up abast, they immediately cut the Lashings of the Long-Boat, but the Ship going down they had not Time to get her out, and barely enough to launch the Yawl, which lay on the Forecastle. The Ship went down on one Side, and Joseph Williams running on the other was hook'd by the Mizzen-Truss, and was carried down with her; but having his Knife in his Hand, and a great Presence of Mind, he cut the Wastband of his Trowzers where he was catch'd, got clear, and swam after the Boat, into which about 16 had gotten, and either knock'd those on the Head, or cut off their Hands, who laid hold on it; however, with much Entreaty, he was permitted to lay one Hand on to ease him: They made to the Pyrate, who refused to receive them, without they would enter with him, which, to save their Lives, they all agreed to, and was then civilly received, and dry Cloaths given them; these and one Negroe were all the Souls saved.

In a little Time after this he took two Portuguese Ships, which he plundered and kept with him; and one foggy Morning hearing the firing of Guns, which, by the distance of Time, he judg'd to be Minute Guns, as they really were, for the Death of an English Commander; he called his Men on board from the Prizes, sent them about their Business, and directed his Course by the Report of the Canon he had heard.

In about two Hours he spied the Ship that had fired, came up with her very soon, and took her without Resistance. The Officers of the Ship which blew up, finding this Prize English, and that the Pyrate did not intend to detain it, begg'd to be discharged, as they had all large Families, which must perish without their Support.

Cornelius taking them into Consideration, discharged Mr. Powis of Limehouse, who has since been a Commander, and raised a Fortune; the then chief Mate, Mr. George Forelong, the Boatswain, Carpenter, and other married Men, set them on board the Prize, and was very generous to them out of the Plunder of the Portuguese Ships, because they had made a broken Voyage; but Joseph Williams and the Batchelors he detained, and forced some out of the Prize, which he let go.

After this he took three Portuguese Ships at an Anchor, which he plundered and burnt, after he had hove down by one of them; he continued some Time longer on the Coast, did a great Deal of Mischief to the Trade, and forced a great many Men: These he put to do all the Slavery of the Ship, and they were beat about the Decks, without daring to strike again. I shall take Notice of an Instance of this Kind, to shew how far Revenge will carry a Man. One Robert Bland was at Helm, and called Joseph Williams to take the Whipstaff, till he went to play, Williams refused it; upon which Bland drubb'd him with the Lanyard of the Whipstaff very severely, Williams that he might revenge himself, and have Liberty to fight Bland, went that Instant and entered himself a Voluntier in the Ships Books, and ask'd Leave to fight Bland, which was allowed him, but with no other Weapons than his Fists; he, however, challenged his Antagonist, who was too hard for him; so that he turned Pyrate to be heartily thresh'd.

Cornelius thinking they had been long enough on the Guiney Coast, doubled the Cape, off which he spide the Lizard and two more Men of War, under the Command of Commadore Littleton; Cornelius was for giving Chase, but finding his Men unwilling, there being, as they gave for Reason, 70 forc'd Men on board, and these Ships being, as they suspected, Men of War, he made the best of his Way for Madagascar, went up the River Methelage, on the West Side, and anchored against Pombotoque, a small Village of Blacks.

The Quarter-Master went ashore, and the black Governor examined him, for several of these Blacks speak English; he told the Governor they were come for Provision and to trade: Upon which he sent a Couple of Oxen on board, and then ordered some of the Inhabitants to go up with the Quarter-Master to the King. The Boat's Crew seeing a Number of Blacks come upon the Strand without the Quarter-Master, apprehended some Mischief had befallen him; but were eas'd of their Fears, when they saw two Oxen given them, and were told, the white Man, who was gone to the King, would be back next Day, it not being above 20 Miles from the Shore.

When the Quarter-Master, who carried up a Blunderbuss, a fine Gun, and a Pair of Pistols, for a Present to the King, told him they wanted Provisions, he asked where they were bound? To which he answered, to seek their Fortunes, for, at present, they were very poor. Look ye, replied the King, I require nothing of you, all white Men I look upon as my Children; they help'd me to conquer this Country, and all the Cattle in it is at their Service. I will send you down Provisions enough, and when that is spent you shall have more; he accordingly sent 1000 Head of Cattle, out of which he bid them chuse what they would, and they salted up a 100 fat Oxen.

It may be an Amusement to the Reader to have a short History of this King, who was called Andian Chimenatto, that is, King Chimenatto: He was 2d Son of Andian Lifouchy, whose Country lay between Methelage and St. Augustine, his elder Brother was Timanangarivo.

At the Death of Andian Lyfouchy, Chimenatto, assisted by a younger Brother, and a great Number of the People, endeavour'd to wrest the Kingdom from his elder Brother Timanangarivo; but he was defeated, and with his Party obliged to retire, however, he still made War upon his Brother, till he was, by repeated Losses, very much weaken'd, and apprehensive of being attack'd by him; he retir'd farther Northward, where he made War on Andian Methelage, but without great success so that he settled on a Point of Land by the Sea-Coast, where the Tyloutes, that is, Inhabitants of the Sea, who are descended from the Arabs, and the Vaujimbos, who are esteem'd the meanest Cast on the whole Island, were very vexatious and troublesome to him, and kept him in continual Alarms.

In the mean while a couple of Ships arrived at Yungowl (the Country of Timanangarivo) belonging to Frederick Phillips, of New York, to slave; but hearing the old King was dead, who had a great Respect for the whites, and that Timanangarivo had cut off the Crew of a Brigantine, on Pretence that they had poison'd his Father Andian Lyfouchy, for he drunk on board her so much Brandy that he died of it; they would not stay here, but went farther on the Coast to look for Trade

Andian Chimenatto spying them, caused a Smoak to be made, which brought one of their Boats on Shoar; Chimenatto received the Crew very civilly, and invited the Ships in, promising Trade.

The Commanders ask'd if he had Slaves? He said he had but few; however, if they would allow some of their Men to go with him to War, he would slave both Ships: They answered, that Timanangarivo his Brother, had murder'd some of their Countrymen, and they could put no Confidence in him; upon which he gave them the History of his Wars, said his Brother was a wicked Man for what he had done; but if they would send some Men with him, he would give his Wives and nearest Relations for Hostages, to be kept on board.

This was agreed to, and Chimenatto furnished them with as much fresh Provision as they could dispose of; twenty whites went with him to War, and they took a Town and a great Number of Slaves, out of whom he ordered the Captain to pick and cull what they pleas'd; they asked the

Price, he said, he required nothing, if they would let their Men go out once more. They went on a second Expedition, took several Towns, and brought down some thousand Slaves, beside great Droves of Cattle.

The two Ships took their Choice of about 6000 Slaves, which with fresh Provision, and Provision for their Voyage, cost them only 2 or 3 Barrels of Powder, and a few Arms.

The King told them, if they would leave those Men and come again, he would again slave them for nothing; the Men being willing to stay, the Ships sail'd, came again the next Season, were slaved according to Promise, and relieved those whites, such of them as would return, and left others, who were willing, in their Steads. With this Assistance Chimenatto soon conquered the Antylouts and Vaujimbos, and afterwards made himself Master of the whole Country of Methelage, of such Reputation are the Europeans among these People, for they who have a white Man on their Side go on as to certain Victory; and the Sight of a white Man against them is such a Damp to their Spirits, that despairing of Success, they are preparing for Flight before they engage.

But to return, besides the Present of Oxen, the King sent 100 Blacks laden with Rice. Cornelius sent him a Present of 2 Barrels of Powder, and would have given him more, with small Arms in Return, but he sent them Word he would have no more, nor any of their Arms, not being in Want of either; on the contrary, if they wanted he would send them ten Barrels of Powder, as they were his Children; bid them proceed on their Voyage, and if they were richer when they came back, and would send him any Present, he would accept it, but not now that they were poor.

Here Cornelius lost 70 Men by their Excesses, having been long without fresh Provision, the eating immoderately, drinking Toke (a Liquor made of Honey) to Excess, and being too free with the Women, they fell into violent Fevers, which carried them off.

The Blacks having given Cornelius an Account of the Speaker's being sail'd from Methelage about three Months before for the East-Indies, he, having taken in his Provsions, steer'd the same Course, in Hopes to join in Consort with her; but the Speaker lying off the Red Sea, and the Morning Star going into the Gulf of Persia they never met: They run up a pretty Way in the Gulf, and lay under Antelope Island, where they kept a Look-out, and whence they made their Excursions, and took a Number of Prizes.

Here they designed to heave down and clean, and they had got a good Part of their Goods and Water Casks ashore, when the Look-out discovered two tall Ships, one of them wearing a Flag at the Foretop-Mast Head; this put them into a great Confusion, they got what Casks and Necessaries they could on board, and lay till the Ships came a-breast of them; then they got under Sail at once, their Sails being furl'd with Rope Yarns, and came close along-side the larger Ship, which was a Portuguese of 70 Guns, as the other was of 26; they exchanged a Broadside with her, and the smaller Ship engaged her so close, that they threw Hand Grenades into each other; but Cornelius's Business was to run, and the great Ship put a Stays twice to follow him, but missing, was obliged to Ware, which gave the Pyrate a great Advantage; the small Ship in staying, tail'd aground, she, however, gave Chase till she had run a good Way a-head of her Consort, which the Pyrate seeing, brought to, and stay'd for her, as did the

Portuguese for her Consort, not caring to engage him singly. When it was quite dark Cornelius ran up the other Shore, pass'd the Portuguese Ships (which kept down the Gulf) and came again to Anchor at his old Station, where he found his Enemies had been ashore in their Boats and staved his Casks; he here cleaned, and finding no Money to be got out of any Prizes made, and Bale Goods being of little Value to them, they from hence went away to the Island of Johanna, where it was designed to moroon the Blacks, who were the greater Number, and all bred among the English; Joseph Williams, fearing they would next moroon the English, who were not above a third of the whites, gave the Negroes Notice of the Design, who secured all the Arms of the Ship, and gave Williams the Command till they should get to Madagascar, keeping a good Guard on the French and Dutch. When they came to Methelage they gave the Ship to the King, her Bottom being eaten so much with the Worms, that she was no longer fit for Service; and they all went and lived with the new King Chimave, Son to Andian Chimenatto, who died before their Return: About five Months after they broke up, Cornelius died, and was buried with the usual Ceremony.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:29