AS the Portuguese were the great Improvers of Navigation, and the first Europeans who traded too and settled on the Coasts of Africa, even round to India, and made those Discoveries, which now turn so much to the Advantage of other Nations, it may not be amiss, previously to a Description of those Islands, to hint on that wonderful Property of the Loadstone, that a little before had been found out, and enabled them to pursue such new and daring Navigations.
The attractive Power of the Loadstone, was universally known with the Ancients, as may be believed by its being a native Fossil of the Grecians, (Magnes a Magnesia) but its directive, or polar Virtue, has only been known to us within this 350 Years, and said to be found out by John Goia of Malphi, in the Kingdom of Naples, Prima dedit nautis usum magnetis Amalphi; tho’ others think, and assure us, it was transported by Paulus Venetus from China to Italy, like the other famous Arts of modern Use with us, PRINTING and the Use of GUNS.
The other Properties of Improvements of the Magnet, viz. Variation, or its Defluction from an exact N. or S. Line, Variation of that Variation, and its Inclination, were the Inventions of Sebastian Cabot, Mr. Gellibrand, and Mr. Norman; the Inclination of the Needle, or that Property whereby it keeps an Elevation above the Horizon, in all Places but under the Equator, (where its Parallel) is as surprizing a Phænomenon as any, and was the Discovery of our Countrymen; and could it be found regular, I imagine would very much help towards the Discovery of Longitude, at least would point out better Methods than hitherto known, when Ships drew nigh Land, which would answer as useful an End.
Before the Verticity and Use of the Compass, the Portuguese Navigations had extended no farther than Cape Non, (it was their ne plus ultra,) and therefore so called; distress of Weather, indeed, had drove some Coasters to Porto Santo, and Madera, before any certain Method of steering was invented; but after the Needle was seen thus inspired, Navigation every Year improved under the great Incouragements of Henry, Alphonsus, and John II. Kings of Portugal, in Part of the 14th and in the 15th Century.
King Alphonsus was not so much at leasure as his Predecessor, to pursue these Discoveries, but having seen the Advantages accured to Portugal by them, and that the Pope had confirmed the perpetual Donation of all they should discover between Cape Bajadore and India, inclusively, he resolved not to neglect the proper Assistance, and farmed the Profits that did or might ensue to one Bernard Gomez, a Citizen of Lisbon, who was every Voyage obliged to discover 100 Leagues, still farther on: And about the Year 1470 made these Islands, the only Places (of all the considerable and large Colonies they had in Africa,) that do now remain to that Crown.
St. Thome is the principal of the three, whose Governour is stiled Captain General of the Islands, and from whom the other at Princes receives his Commission, tho’ nominated by the Court of Portugal: It is a Bishoprick with a great many secular Clergy who appear to have neither Learning nor Devotion, as may be judged by several of them being Negroes: One of the Chief of them, invited us to hear Mass, as a Diversion to pass Time away, where he, and his inferior Brethren acted such affected Gestures and Strains of Voice, as shewed to their Dishonour, they had no other Aim than pleasing us; and what I think was still worse, it was not without a View of Interest; for as these Clergy are the chief Traders, they stoop to pitiful and scandalous Methods for ingratiating themselves: They and the Government, on this trading Account, maintain as great Harmony, being ever jealous of each other, and practising little deceitful Arts to monopolize what Strangers have to offer for sale, whether Toys or Cloaths, which of all Sorts are ever Commodious with the Portuguese, in all Parts of the World; an ordinary Suit of Black will sell for seven or eight Pound; a Turnstile Wig of four Shillings, for a Moidore; a Watch of forty Shillings, for six Pound, &c.
The Town is of mean Building, but large and populous, the Residence of the greater Part of the Natives, who, thro’ the whole Island, are computed at 10000, the Militia at 3000, and are in general, a rascally thievish Generation, as an old grave Friend of mine can Witness; for he having carried a Bag of second hand Cloaths on Shore, to truck for Provisions, seated himself on the Sand for that Purpose, presently gathered a Crowd round him, to view them; one of which desired to know the Price of a black Suit, that unluckily lay uppermost, and was the best of them, agreeing to the Demand, with little Hesitation, provided it would but fit him; he put them on immediately, in as much hurry as possible, without any co-licentia Seignor; and when my Friend was about to commend the Goodness of the Suit, and Exactness they set with, not dreaming of the Impudence of running away from a Crowd, the Rascal took to his Heels, my Friend followed and bawled very much, and tho’ there was 500 People about the Place, it served to no other End but making him a clear Stage, that the best Pair of Heels might carry it; so he lost the Suit of Cloaths, and before he could return to his Bag, others of them had beat off his Servant, and shared the rest.
Most of the Ships from Guiney, of their own Nation, and frequently those of ours, call at one or other of these Islands, to recruit with fresh Provisions, and take in Water, which on the Coast are not so good, nor so conveniently to come by: Their own Ships likewise, when they touch here, are obliged to leave the King his Custom for their Slaves, which is always in Gold, at so much a Head, without any Deduction at Brasil, for the Mortality that may happen afterwards; this by being a constant Bank to pay off the civil and military Charges of the Government, prevents the Inconveniency of Remittances, and keeps both it and Princes Isle rich enough to pay ready Money for every Thing they want of Europeans.
Their Beefs are small and lean, (two hundred Weight or a little more,) but the Goats, Hogs and Fowls very good, their Sugar course and dirty, and Rum very ordinary; as these Refreshments lay most with People who are in want of other Necessaries, they come to us in Way of bartering, very cheap: A good Hog for an old Cutlash; a fat Fowl for a Span of Brasil Tobacco, (no other Sort being valued, &c.) But with Money you give eight Dollars per Head for Cattle; three Dollars for a Goat; six Dollars for a grown Hog; a Testune and a Half for a Fowl; a Dollar per Gallon for Rum; two Dollars a Roove for Sugar; and half a Dollar for a Dozen of Paraquets: Here is Plenty likewise of Corn and Farine, of Limes, Citrons and Yamms.
The Island is reckoned nigh a Square, each Side 18 Leagues long, hilly, and lays under the Æquinoctial, a wooden Bridge just without the Town, being said not to deviate the least Part of a Minute, either to the Southward or Northward; and notwithstanding this warm Scituation, and continual vertical Suns, the Islanders are very healthy, imputed by those who are disposed to be merry, in a great Measure to the Want of even so much as one Surgeon or Physician amongst them.
Isle Del Principe, the next in Magnitude, a pleasant and delightful Spot to the grave, and thoughtfull Disposition of the Portuguese, an Improvement of Country Retirement, in that, this may be a happy and uninterrupted Retreat from the whole World.
I shall divide what I have to say on this Island, into Observations made on our Approach to it, on the Seas round it, the Harbour, Produce of the Island and Seasons, Way of Living among the Inhabitants, some Custom of the Negroes, with such proper Deductions on each as may illustrate the Description, and inform the Reader.
We were bound hither from Whydah, at the latter Part of the Month July, when the Rains are over, and the Winds hang altogether S. W. (as they do before the Rains, S. E.) yet with this Wind (when at Sea) we found the Ship gained unexpectedly so far to the Southward, (i. e. Windward,) that we could with ease have weathered any of the Islands, and this seems next to impossible should be, if the Currents, which were strong to Leeward, in the Road of Whydah, had extended in like Manner cross the Bite of Benin: No, it must then have been very difficult to have weathered even Cape Formosa: On this Occasion, I shall farther expatiate upon the Currents on the whole Coast of Guiney.
The Southern Coast of Africa runs in a Line of Latitude, the Northern on an Eastern Line, but both strait, with the fewest Inlets, Gulphs or Bays, of either of the four Continents; the only large and remarkable one, is that of Benin and Calabar, towards which the Currents of each Coast tend, and is strongest from the Southward, because more open to a larger Sea, whose rising it is (tho’ little and indiscernable at any Distance from the Land,) that gives rise to these Currents close in Shore, which are nothing but Tides altered and disturbed by the Make and Shape of Lands.
For Proof of this, I shall lay down the following Observations as certain Facts. That in the Rivers of Gambia and Sierraleon, in the Straits and Channels of Benin, and in general along the whole Coast, the Flowings are regular on the Shores, with this Difference; that, in the abovemention'd Rivers, and in the Channels of Benin, where the Shore contract the Waters into a narrow Compass, the Tides are strong and high, as well as regular; but on the dead Coast, where it makes an equal Reverberation, slow and low, (not to above two or three Foot,) increasing as you advance towards Benin; and this is farther evident in that at Cape Corso, Succonda and Commenda, and where the Land rounds and gives any Stop, the Tides flow regularly to four Foot and upwards; when on an evener Coast, (tho’ next adjoining,) they shall not exceed two or three Foot; and ten Leagues out at Sea, (where no such Interruption is,) they become scarcely, if at all, perceptible.
What I would deduce from this, besides a Confirmation of that ingenious Theory of the Tides, by Captain Halley; is first, that the Ships bound to Angola, Cabenda, and other Places on the Southern Coast of Africa, should cross the Æquinoctial from Cape Palmas, and run into a Southern Latitude, without keeping too far to the Westward; and the Reason seems plain, for if you endeavour to cross it about the Islands, you meet Calms, southerly Winds and opposite Currents: and if too far to the Westward, the trade Winds are strong and unfavourable; for it obliges you to stand into 28 or 308 Southern Latitude, till they are variable.
Secondly, On the Northern Side of Guiney, if Ships are bound from the Gold-Coast to Sierraleon, Gambia, or elsewhere to Windward, considering the Weakness of these Currents, and the Favourableness of Land Breezes, and Southerly in the Rains, Turnadoes, and even of the TradeWind, when a-breast of Cape Palmas, it is more expeditious to pursue the Passage this Way, than by a long perambulatory Course of 4 or 500 Leagues to the Westward, and as many more to the Northward, which must bebefore a Wind can be obtained, that could recover the Coast.
Lastly, It is, in a great Measure, owning to this want of Inlets, and the Rivers being small and unnavigable, that the Seas rebound with so dangerous a Surff thro’ the whole Continent.
Round the Shores of this Island, and at this Season, (July, August and September,) there is a great Resort of Whale-Fish, tame, and sporting very nigh the Ships as they sail in, always in Pairs, the Female much the smaller, and often seen to turn on their Backs for Dalliance, the Prologue to engendring: It has an Enemy, called the Thresher, a large Fish too, that has its Haunts here at this Season, and encounters the Whale, raising himself out of the Water a considerable Heighth, and falling again with great Weight and Force; it is commonly said also, that there is a Sword Fish in these Battles, who pricks the Whale up to the Surface again, but without this, I believe, he would suffocate when put to quick Motions, unless frequently approaching the Air, to ventilate and remove the impediments to a swifter Circulation:
Nor do I think he is battled for Prey, but to remove him from what is perhaps the Food of both. The Number of Whales here has put me sometimes on thinking an advantageous Fishery might be made of it, but I presume they (no more than those of Brasil) are the Sort which yield the profitable Part, called Whale-Bone: All therefore that the Islanders do, is now and then to go out with two or three Canoes, and set on one for Diversion.
The Rocks and outer Lines of the Island, are the Haunts of variety of Sea-Birds, especially Boobies and Noddies; the former are of the Big- of a Gull, and a dark Colour, named so from their Simplicity, because they often sit still and let the Sailors take them up in their Hands; but I fancy this succeeds more frequently from their Weariness, and the Largeness of their Wings, which, when they once have rested, cannot have the Scope necessary to raise and float them on the Air again. The Noddies are smaller and flat footed also.
What I would remark more of them, is, the admirable Instinct in these Birds, for the proper Seasons, and the proper Places for Support. In the aforemention'd Months, when the large Fish were here, numerous Flocks of Fowl attend for the Spawn and Superfluity of their Nourishment; and in January few of either; for the same Reason, there are scarce any Sea Fowl seen on the African Coast; Rocks and Islands being generally their best Security and Subsistance.
The Harbour of Princes is at the E. S. E. Point of the Island; the North-Side has gradual Soundings, but here deep Water, having no Ground at a Mile off with 140 Fathom of Line. The Port (when in) is a smooth narrow Bay, safe from Winds, (unless a little Swell when Southerly) and draughted into other smaller and sandy Ones, convenient for raising of Tents, Watering, and hawling the Seam; the whole protected by a Fort, or rather Battery, of a dozen Guns on the Larboard-Side. At the Head of the Bay stands the Town, about a Mile from the anchoring Place, and consists of two or three regular Streets, of wooden built Houses, where the Governor and chief Men of the Island reside. Here the Water grows shallow for a considerable Distance, and the Natives, at every Ebb, (having before encompassed every convenient Angle with a Rise of Stones, something like Weirs in England) resort for catching of Fish, which, with them, is a daily Diversion, as well as Subsistance, 500 attending with Sticks and wicker Baskets; and if they cannot dip them with one Hand, they knock them down with the other. The Tides rise regularly 6 Foot in the Harbour, and yet not half that Heighth without the Capes that make the Bay.
Here are constantly two Missionaries, who are sent for six Years to inculcate the Christian Principles, and more especially attend the Conversion of the Negroes; the present are Venetians, ingenious Men, who seem to despise the loose Morals and Behaviour of the Seculars, and complain of them as of the Slaves, ut Color Mores sunt nigri. They have a neat Conventual-House and a Garden appropriated, which, by their own lndustry and Labour, not only thrives with the several Natives of the Soil, but many Exoticks and Curiosities. A Fruit in particular, larger than a Chesnut, yellow, containing two Stones, with a Pulp, or clammy Substance about them, which, when suck'd, exceeds in Sweetness, Sugar or Honey, and has this Property beyond them, of giving a sweet Taste to every Liquid you swallow for the whole Evening after. The only Plague infesting the Garden, is a Vermin called Land-Crabs, in vast Numbers, of a bright red Colour, (in other Respects like the Sea ones) which burrough in these sandy Soils like Rabbets, and are as shy.
The Island is a pleasant Intermixture of Hill and Valley; the Hills spread with Palms, Coco-Nuts, and Cotton-Trees, with Numbers of Monkeys and Parrots among them; the Valleys with fruitful Plantations of Yamms, Kulalu, Papas, Variety of Sallating, Ananas, or Pine-Apples, Guavas, Plantanes, Bonanas, Manyocos, and Indian Corn; with Fowls, Guinea Hens, Muscovy Ducks, Goats, Hogs, Turkies, and wild Beefs, with each a little Village of Negroes, who, under the Direction of their several Masters, manage the Cultivation, and exchange or sell them for Money, much after the same Rates with the People of St. Thome.
I shall run a Description of the Vegetables, with their Properties, not only because they are the Produce of this Island, but most of them of Africa in general.
The Palm-Trees are numerous on the Shores of Africa, and may be reckoned the first of their natural Curiosities, in that they afford them Meat, Drink and Cloathing; they grow very straight to 40 and 50 Foot high, and at the top (only) have 3 or 4 Circles of Branches, that spread and make a capacious Umbrella. The Trunk is very rough with Knobs, either Excrescencies, or the Healings of those Branches that were lopped off to forward the Growth of the Tree, and make it answer better in its Fruit. The Branches are strongly tied together with a Cortex, which may be unravelled to a considerable Length and Breadth; the inward Lamella of this Cortex, I know are wove like a Cloath at Benin, and afterwards died and worn: Under the Branches, and close to the Body of the Tree, hang the Nuts, thirty Bunches perhaps on a Tree, and each of thirty Pound Weight, with prickly Films from between them, not unresembling Hedge-Hogs; of these Nuts comes a liquid and pleasant scented Oyl, used as Food and Sauce all over the Coast, but chiefly in the Windward Parts of Africa, where they stamp, boil and skim it off in great Quantities; underneath, where the Branches fasten, they tap for Wine, called Cockra, in this Manner; the Negroes who are mostly limber active Fellows, encompass themselves and the Trees with a Hoop of strong With, and run up with a great deal of Agility; at the Bottom of a Branch of Nuts, he makes an Excavation of an Inch and a half over, and tying fast his Calabash, leaves it to destil, which it does to two or three Quarts in a Night's Time, when done he plugs it up, and chooses another; for if suffered to run too much, or in the Day Time, the Sap is unwarily exhausted, and the Tree spoiled: The Liquor thus drawn, is of a wheyish Colour, intoxicating and sours in 24 Hours, but when new drawn, is pleasantest to thirst and hunger both: It is from these Wines they draw their Arack in India. On the very Top of the Palm, grows a Cabbage, called so, I believe, from some resemblance its Tast is thought to have with ours, and is used like it; the Covering has a Down that makes the best of Tinder, and the Weavings of other Parts are drawn out into strong Threads.
Coco-Nut-Trees are branch'd like, but not so tall as, Palm Trees, the Nut like them, growing under the Branches, and close to the Trunk; the milky Liquor they contain, (to half a Pint or more,) is often drank to quench Thirst, but surfeiting, and this may be observed in their Way of Nourishment, that when the Quantity of Milk is large, the Shell and Meat are very thin, and harden and thicken in Proportion, as that loses.
Cotton Trees also are the Growth of all Parts of Africk, as well as the Islands, of vast Bigness, yet not so incremental as the Shrubs or Bushes of five or six Foot high; these bear a Fruit (if it may be so called) about the Bigness of Pigeons Eggs, which as the Sun swells and ripens, bursts forth and discovers three Cells loaded with Cotton, and Seeds in the Middle of them: This in most Parts the Negroes know how to spin, and here at Nicongo and the Island St. Jago, how to weave into Cloths.
Yamms are a common Root, sweeter but not unlike Potato's: Kulalu, a Herb like Spinnage: Papa, a Fruit less than the smallest Pumkins; they are all three for boiling, and to be eat with Meat; the latter are improved by the English into a Turnip or an Apple Tast, with a due Mixture of Butter or Limes.
Guava's, a Fruit as large as a Pipin, with Seeds and Stones in it, of an uncouth astringing Tast, tho’ never so much be said in Commendation of it, at the West-Indies, it is common for Cræolians, (who has tasted both,) to give it a Preference to Peach or Nectarine, no amazing Thing when Men whose Tasts are so degenerated, as to prefer a Toad in a Shell, (as Ward calls Turtle,) to Venison, and Negroes to fine English Ladies.
Plantanes and Bonano's are Fruit of oblong Figure, that I think differ only secundum Major & Minus, if any, the latter are preferable, and by being less, are juicier; they are usually, when stripped of their Coat, eat at Meals instead of Bread: The Leaf of this Plantane is an admirable Detergent, and, externally applied, I have seen cure the most obstinate scorbutick Ulcers.
Manyoco. A Root that shoots its Branches about the heighth of a Currant Bush; from this Root the Islanders make a Farine or Flower, which they sell at three Ryals a Roove, and drive a considerable Trade for it with the Ships that call in. The manner of making it, is first to press the Juice from it, (which is poisonous) done here with Engines, and then the Negroe Women, upon a rough Stone, rub it into a granulated Flower, reserved in their Houses, either to boil, as we do our Wheat, and is a hearty Food for the Slaves; or make it into a Bread, fine, white, and well tasted, for themselves. One thing worth taking Notice about Manyoco in this Island, is, that the Woods abound with a wild poisonous and more mortiferous Sort, which sometimes Men, unskilled in the Preparation of it, feed on to their Destruction: This the Missionaries assured me they often experimented in their Hogs, and believed we did in the Mortality of our Sailors.
Indian Corn, is likewise as well as the Farine de Manyoco and Rice, the common Victualling of our Slave Ships, and is afforded here at 1000 Heads for two Dollars. This Corn grows eight or nine Foot high, on a hard Reed or Stick, shooting forth at every six Inches Heighth, some long Leaves; it has always an Ear, or rather Head, at top, of, perhaps, 400 Fold Increase; and often two, three, or more, Midway.
Here are some Tamarind Trees; another called Cola, whose Fruit, or Nut (about twice the Bigness of a Chestnut, and bitter) is chewed by the Portugueze, to give a sweet Gust to their Water which they drink; but above all, I was shewn the Bark of one (whose Name I do not know) gravely affirm'd to have a peculiar Property of enlarging the Virile Member; I am not fond of such Conceits, nor believe it in the Power of any Vegetables, but must acknowledge, I have seen Sights of this kind among the Negroes very extraordinary; yet, that there may be no Wishes among the Ladies for the Importation of this Bark. I must acquaint them, that they are found to grow less merry, as they encrease in Bulk. I had like to have forgot their Cinnamon Trees; there is only one Walk of them, and is the Entrance of the Governor's Villa; they thrive extreemly well, and the Bark not inferior to our Cinnamon from India; why they and other Spice, in a Soil so proper, receive no farther Cultivation, is, probably, their Suspicion, that so rich a Produce, might make some potent Neighbour take a Fancy to the Island.
They have two Winters, or rather Springs, and two Summers: Their Winters, which are the rainy Seasons, come in September and February, or March, and hold two Months, returning that Fatness and generative Power to the Earth, as makes it yield a double Crop every Year, with little Sweat or Labour.
Hic Ver Assiduum atque Alienis Mensibus Æstas
— Bis gravidæ Pecudes, bis Pomis utilis arbos.
Their first coming is with Travado's, i. e. sudden and hard Gusts of Wind, with Thunder, Lightning and heavy Showers, but short; and the next new or full Moon at those Times of the Year, infallibly introduces the Rains, which once begun, fall with little Intermission, and are observed coldest in February. Similar to these are rainy Seasons also over all the Coast of Africa: If there may be allowed any general Way of calculating their Time, they happen from the Course of the Sun, as it respects the Æquinoctial only; for if these Æquinoxes prove rainy Seasons all over the World (as I am apt to think they are) whatever secret Cause operates with that Station of the Sun to produce them, will more effectually do it in those vicine Latitudes; and therefore, as the Sun advances, the Rains are brought on the Whydah and Gold Coast, by April, and on the Windwardmost Part of Guiney by May: The other Season of the Sun's returning to the Southward, make them more uncertain and irregular in Northern Africa; but then to the Southward again, they proceed in like manner, and are at Cape Lopez in October, at Angola in November, &c.
The Manner of living among the Portugueze here is, with the utmost Frugality and Temperance, even to Penury and Starving; a familiar Instance of Proof is, in the Voracity of their Dogs, who finding such clean Cupboards at home, are wild in a manner with Hunger, and tare up the Graves of the Dead for Food, as I have often seen: They themselves are lean with Covetousness, and that Christian Vertue, which is often the Result of it, Selfdenyal; and would train up their Cattle in the same way, could they fetch as much Money, or had not they their Provision more immediately of Providence. The best of them (excepting the Governor now and then) neither pay nor receive any Visits of Escapade or Recreation; they meet and sit down at each others Doors in the Street every Evening, and as few of them, in so small an Island, can have their Plantations at any greater Distance, than that they may see it every Day if they will, so the Subject of their Talk is mostly how Affairs went there, with their Negroes, or their Ground, and then part with one another innocently, but empty.
The Negroes have yet no hard Duty with them, they are rather Happy in Slavery; for as their Food is chiefly Vegetables, that could no way else be expended, there is no Murmurs bred on that account; and as their Business is Domestick, either in the Services of the House, or in Gardening, Sowing, or Planting, they have no more than what every Man would prefer for Health and Pleasure; the hardest of their Work is the Carriage of their Pateroons, or their Wives, to and from the Plantations; this they do in Hammocks (call'd at Whydah, Serpentines) slung cross a Pole, with a Cloath over, to screen the Person, so carried, from Sun and Weather, and the Slaves are at each End; and yet even this, methinks, is better than the specious Liberty a Man has for himself and his Heirs to work in a Coal Mine.
The Negroes are, most of them, thro’ the Care of their Patroons, Christians, at least nominal, but excepting to some few, they adhere still to many silly Pagan Customs in their Mournings and Rejoycings, and in some Measure, powerful Majority has introduced them with the Vulgar of the Mulatto and Portugueze Race.
If a Person die in that Colour, the Relations and Friends of him meet at the House, where the Corpse is laid out decently on the Ground and covered (all except the Face) with a Sheet; they sit round it, crying and howling dreadfully, not unlike what our Countrymen are said to do in Ireland: This Mourning lasts for eight Days and Nights, but not equally intense, for as the Friends, who compose the Chorus, go out and in, are weary, and unequally affected, the Tone lessens daily, and the Intervals of Grief are longer.
In Rejoycings and Festivals they are equally ridiculous; these are commonly made on some Friend's Escape from Shipwreck, or other Danger: They meet in a large Room of the House, with a Strum Strum, to which one of the Company, perhaps, sings wofully; the rest standing round the Room close to the Petitions, take it in their Turns (one or two at a time) to step round, called Dancing, the whole clapping their Hands continually, and hooping out every Minute Abeo, which signify no more, than, how do you. And this foolish Mirth will continue three or four Days together at a House, and perhaps twelve or sixteen Hours at a time.
The Portugueze, tho’ eminently abstemious and temperate in all other Things, are unbounded in their Lusts; and perhaps they substitute the former in room of a Surgeon, as a Counterpoison to the Mischiefs of a promiscuous Salacity: They have most of them Venereal Taints, and with Age become meager and hectick: I saw two Instances here of Venereal Ulcers that had cancerated to the Bowels, Spectacles that would have effectually perswaded Men (I think) how Salutary the Restriction of Laws are.
Annobono is the last, and of the least Consequence of the three Islands; there are Plenty of Fruits and Provisions, exchanged to Ships for old Cloaths and Trifles of any Sort; they have a Governor nominated from St. Thome, and two or three Priests, neither of which are minded, every one living at Discretion, and fill'd with Ignorance and Lust.
To return to Davis, the next Day after he left Anamaboe, early in the Morning, the Man at the Mast-Head espied a Sail. It must be observed, they keep a good Look-out; for, according to their Articles, he who first espies a Sail, if she proves a Prize, is entitled to the best Pair of Pistols on Board, over and above his Dividend, in which they take a singular Pride; and a Pair of Pistols has sometimes been sold for thirty Pounds, from one to another.
Immediately they gave Chace, and soon came up with her; the Ship proved to be a Hollander, and being betwixt Davis and the Shore, she made all the Sail she could, intending to run aground; Davis guessed her Design, and putting out all his small Sails, came up with her before she could effect it, and fired a Broad-side, upon which she immediately struck, and called for Quarter. It was granted, for according to Davis's Articles, it was agreed, that Quarter should be given whenever it was called for, upon Pain of Death.
This Ship proved a very rich Prize, having the Governor of Acra on Board, with all his Effects, going to Holland; there was in Money to the Value of 15000 l. Sterling, besides other valuable Merchandizes, all which they brought on Board of themselves.
Upon this new Success, they restored Captain Hall and Captain Plumb, before-mentioned, their Ships again, but strengthened their Company with thirty five Hands, all white Men, taken out of these two and the Morrice Sloop; they also restored the Dutch their Ship, after having plunder'd her, as is mentioned.
Before they got to the Island of Princes, one of their Ships, viz. that call'd the King James, sprung a Leak; Davis order'd all Hands out of her, on Board his own Ship, with every thing else of Use, and left her at an Anchor at High Cameroon. As soon as he came in Sight of the Island, he hoisted English Colours; the Portuguese observing a large Ship sailing towards them, sent out a little Sloop to examine what she might be; this Sloop hailing of Davis, he told them he was an English Man of War, in Quest of Pyrates, and that he had received Intelligence there were some upon that Coast; upon this they received him as a welcome Guest, and piloted him into the Harbour. He saluted the Fort, which they answered, and he came to an Anchor just under their Guns, and hoisted out the Pinnace, Man of War Fashion, ordering nine Hands and a Coxen in it, to row him ashore.
The Portugueze, to do him the greater Honour, sent down a File of Musqueteers to receive him, and conduct him to the Governor. The Governor not in the least suspecting what he was, received him very civilly, promising to supply him with whatever the Island afforded; Davis thanked him, telling him, the King of England would pay for whatever he should take; so after several Civilities pass'd between him and the Governor, he returned again on Board.
It happened a French Ship came in there to supply it self with some Necessaries, which Davis took into his Head to plunder, but to give the Thing a Colour of Right, he persuaded the Portugueze, that she had been trading with the Pyrates, and that he found several Pyrates Goods on Board, which he seized for the King's Use: This Story passed so well upon the Governor, that he commended Davis's Diligence.
A few Days after, Davis, with about fourteen more, went privately ashore, and walk'd up the Country towards a Village, where the Governor and the other chief Men of the Island kept their Wives, in tending, as we may suppose, to supply their Husbands Places with them; but being discovered, the Women fled to a neighbouring Wood, and Davis and the rest retreated to their Ship, without effecting their Design: The Thing made some Noise, but as no body knew them, it passed over.
Having cleaned his Ship, and put all Things in Order, his Thoughts now were turned upon the main Business, viz. the Plunder of the Island, and not knowing where the Treasure lay, a Stratagem came into his Head, to get it (as he thought) with little Trouble, he consulted his Men upon it, and they liked the Design: His Scheme was, to make a Present to the Governor, of a Dozen Negroes, by Way of Return for the Civilities received from him, and afterwards to invite him, with the chief Men, and some of the Friers, on Board his Ship, to an Entertainment; the Minute they came on Board, they were to be secured in Irons, and there kept till they should pay a Ransom of 40000 l. Sterling.
But this Stratagem proved fatal to him, for a Portugueze Negroe swam ashore in the Night, and discovered the whole Plot to the Governor, and also let him know, that it was Davis who had made the Attempt upon their Wives. However, the Governor dissembled, received the Pyrates Invitation civilly, and promised that he and the rest would go.
The next Day Davis went on Shore himself, as if it were out of greater Respect to bring the Governor on Board: He was received with the usual Civility, and he, and other principal Pyrates, who, by the Way, had assumed the Title of Lords, and as such took upon them to advise or councel their Captain upon any important Occasion; and likewise held certain Priviledges, which the common Pyrates were debarr'd from, as walking the Quarter-Deck, using the great Cabin, going ashore at Pleasure, and treating with foreign Powers, that is, with the Captains of Ships they made Prize of; I say, Davis and some of the Lords were desired to walk up to the Governor's House, to take some Refreshment before they went on Board; they accepted it without the least Suspicion, but never returned again; for an Ambuscade was laid, a Signal being given, a whole Volley was fired upon them; they every Man dropp'd, except one, this one fled back, and escaped into the Boat, and got on Board the Ship: Davis was shot through the Bowels, yet he rise again, and made a weak Effort to get away, but his Strength soon forfook him, and he dropp'd down dead; just as he fell, he perceived he was followed, and drawing out his Pistols, fired them at his Pursuers; Thus like a game Cock, giving a dying Blow, that he might not fall unrevenged.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07