WE can be somewhat particular in the Life of this Gentleman, because, by very great Accident, we have got into our Hands a French Manuscript, in which he himself gives a Detail of his Actions. He was born in Provence, of an ancient Family; his Father, whose true Name he conceals, was Master of a plentiful Fortune; but having a great Number of Children, our Rover had but little Hopes of other Fortune than what he could carve out for himself with his Sword. His Parents took Care to give him an Education equal to his Birth. After he had passed his Humanity and Logick, and was a tolerable Mathematician, at the Age of Fifteen he was sent to Angiers, where he was a Year learning his Exercises. His Father, at his Return home, would have put him into the Musketeers; but as he was of a roving Temper, and much affected with the Accounts he had read in Books of Travels, he chose the Sea as a Life which abounds with more Variety, and would afford him an Opportunity to gratify his Curiosity, by the Change of Countries. having made this Choice, his Father, with Letters of Recommendation, and every Thing fitting for him, sent him Voluntier on board the Victoire, commanded by Monsieur Fourbin, his Relation. He was received on Board with all possible Regard by the Captain, whose Ship was at Marseilles, and was order'd to cruize soon after Misson's Arrival. Nothing could be more agreeable to the Inclinations of our Voluntier than this Cruize, which made him acquainted with the most noted Ports of the Mediterranean, and gave him a great Insight into the practical Part of Navigation. He grew fond of this Life, and was resolved to be a compleat Sailor, which made him always one of the first on a Yard Arm, either to Hand or Reef, and very inquisitive in the different Methods of working a Ship: His Discourse was turn'd on no other Subject, and he would often get the Boatswain and Carpenter to teach him in their Cabbins the constituent Parts of a Ship's Hull, and how to rigg her, which he generously paid ’em for; and tho’ he spent a great Part of his Time with these two Officers, yet he behaved himself with such Prudence that they never attempted at a Familiarity, and always paid the Respect due to his Family. The Ship being at Naples, he obtained Leave of his Captain to go to Rome, which he had a great Desire to visit. Hence we may date his Misfortunes; for, remarking the licentious Lives of the Clergy (so different from the Regularity observ'd among the French Ecclesiasticks,) the Luxury of the Papal Court, and that nothing but Hulls of Religion was to be found in the Metropolis of the Christian Church, he began to figure to himself that all Religion was no more than a Curb upon the Minds of the Weaker, which the wiser Sort yielded to, in Appearance only. These Sentiments, so disadvantageous to Religion and himself, were strongly riveted by accidentally becoming acquainted with a lewd Priest, who was, at his Arrival (by meer Chance) his Confessor, and after that his Procurer and Companion, for he kept him Company to his Death. One Day, having an Opportunity, he told Misson, a Religious was a very good Life, where a Man had a subtle enterprising Genius, and some Friends; for such a one wou'd, in a short Time, rise to such Dignities in the Church, the Hopes of which was the Motive of all the wiser Sort, who voluntarily took upon them the sacerdotal Habit. That the ecclesiastical State was govern'd with the same Policy as were secular Principalities and Kingdoms; that what was beneficial, not what was meritorious and virtuous, would be alone regarded. That there were no more Hopes for a Man of Piety and Learning in the Patrimony of St. Peter, than in any other Monarchy, nay, rather less; for this being known to be real, that Man's rejected as a Visionary, no way fit for Employment; as one whose Scruples might prove prejudicial; for its a Maxim, that Religion and Politicks can never set up in one House. As to our Statesmen, don't imagine that the Purple makes ’em less Courtiers than are those of other Nations; they know and pursue the Reggione del Stato (a Term of Art which means Self-Interest) with as much Cunning and as little Conscience as any Secular; and are as artful where Art is required, and as barefaced and impudent when their Power is great enough to support ’em, in the oppressing the People, and aggrandizing their Families. What their Morals are, you may read in the Practice of their Lives, and their Sentiments of Religion from this Saying of a certain Cardinal, Quantum Lucrum ex ista fabula Christi! which many of ’em may say, tho’ they are not so foolish. For my Part, I am quite tir'd of the Farce, and will lay hold on the first Opportunity to throw off this masquerading Habit; for, by Reason of my Age, I must act an under Part many Years; and before I can rise to share the Spoils of the People, I shall, I fear, be too old to enjoy the Sweets of Luxury; and, as I am an Enemy to Restraint, I am apprehensive I shall never act up to my Character, and carry thro’ the Hypocrite with Art enough to rise to any considerable Post in the Church. My Parents did not consult my Genius, or they would have given me a Sword instead of a Pair of Beads.
Misson advised him to go with him Voluntier, and offer'd him Money to cloath him; the Priest leap'd at the Proposal, and a Letter coming to Misson from his Captain, that he was going to Leghorn, and left to him either to come to Naples, or go by Land; he chose the latter, and the Dominican, whom he furnish'd with Money, clothing himself very Cavalierly, threw off his Habit, and preceeded him two Days, staying at Pisa for Misson; from whence they went together to Leghorn, where they found the Victoire, and Signor Caraccioli, recommended by his Friend, was received on Board. Two Days after they weigh'd from hence, and after a Week's Cruize fell in with two Sally Men, the one of twenty, the other of twenty four Guns; the Victoire had but thirty mounted, though she had Ports for forty. The Engagement was long and bloody, for the Sally Man hop'd to carry the Victoire; and, on the contrary, Captain Fourbin, so far from having any Thoughts of being taken, he was resolutely bent to make Prize of his Enemies, or sink his Ship. One of the Sally Men was commanded by a Spanish Renegade, (though he had only the Title of a Lieutenant) for the Captain was a young Man who knew little of Marine Affairs.
This Ship was called the Lyon; and he attempted, more than once, to board the Victoire; but by a Shot betwixt Wind and Water, he was obliged to sheer off, and running his Guns, &c. on one Side, bring her on the careen to stop his Leak; this being done with too much Precipitation, she overset, and every Soul was lost: His Comrade seeing this Disaster, threw out all his small Sails, and endeavour'd to get off, but the Victoire wrong'd her, and oblig'd her to renew the Fight, which she did with great Obstinacy, and made Monsieur Fourbin despair of carrying her if he did not board; he made Preparations accordingly. Signior Caraccioli and Misson were the two first on board when the Command was given; but they and their Followers were beat back by the Despair of the Sally Men; the former received a Shot in his Thigh, and was carried down to the Surgeon. The Victoire laid her on board the second time, and the Sally Men defended their Decks with such Resolution, that they were cover'd with their own, and the dead Bodies of their Enemies. Misson seeing one of ’em jump down the Main-Hatch with a lighted Match, suspecting his Design, resolutely leap'd after him, and reaching him with his Sabre, laid him dead the Moment he was going to set Fire to the Powder. The Victoire pouring in more Men, the Mahometans quitted the Decks, finding Resistance vain, and fled for Shelter to the Cook Room, Steerage and Cabbins, and some run between Decks. The French gave ’em Quarters, and put the Prisoners on board the Victoire, the Prize yielding nothing worth mention, except Liberty to about fifteen Christian Slaves; she was carried into and sold with the Prisoners at Leghorn. The Turks lost a great many Men, the French not less than 35 in boarding, for they lost very few by the great Shot, the Sally Men firing mostly at the Masts and Rigging, hoping by disabling to carry her. The limited Time of their Cruize being out, the Victoire returned to Marseilles, from whence Misson, taking his Companion, went to visit his Parents, to whom the Captain sent a very advantageous Character, both of his Courage and Conduct. He was about a Month at home when his Captain wrote to him, that his Ship was order'd to Rochelle, from whence he was to sail for the West-Indies with some Merchant Men. This was very agreeable to Misson and Signior Caraccioli, who immediately set out for Marseilles. This Town is well fortified, has four Parish Churches, and the Number of Inhabitants is computed to be about 120,000; the Harbour is esteemed the safest in the Mediterranean, and is the common Station for the French Gallies.
Leaving this Place, they steer'd for Rochelle, where the Victoire was dock'd, the Merchant Ships not being near ready. Misson, who did not Care to pa's so long a Time in Idleness, proposed to his Comrade the taking a Cruize on board the Triumph, who was going into the English Channel; the Italian readily consented to it.
Between the Isle of Guernsey and the Start Point, they met with the Mayflower, Captain Balladine Commanded, a Merchant Ship of 18 Guns, richly laden, and coming from Jamaica. The Captain of the English made a gallant Resistance, and fought his Ship so long, that the French could not carry her into Harbour, wherefore they took the Money, and what was most valuable, out of her; and finding she made more Water than the Pumps could free, quitted, and saw her go down in less than four Hours after. Monsieur le Blanc, the French Captain, received Captain Balladine very civilly, and would not suffer either him or his Men to be stripp'd, saying, None but Cowards ought to be treated after that Manner; that brave Men ought to treat such, though their Enemies, as Brothers; and that to use a gallant Man (who does his Duty) ill, speaks a Revenge which cannot proceed but from a Coward Soul. He order'd that the Prisoners should have their Chests; and when some of his Men seem'd to mutter, he bid ’em remember the Grandeur of the Monarch they serv'd; that they were neither pyrates nor Privateers; and, as brave Men, they ought to shew their Enemies an Example they would willingly have follow'd, and use their Prisoners as they wish'd to be us'd.
They running up the English Channel as high as Beachy Head, and, in returning, fell in with three fifty Gun Ships, which gave Chace to the Triumph; but as she was an excellent Sailor, she run ’em out of Sight in seven Glasses, and made the best of her Way for the Lands-End; they here cruized eight Days, then doubling Cape Cornwall, ran up the Bristol Channel, near as far as Nash Point, and intercepted a small Ship from Barbadoes, and stretching away to the Northward, gave Chase to a Ship they saw in the Evening, but lost her in the Night. The Triumph stood then towards Milford, and spying a Sail, endeavour'd to cut her off the Land, but found it impossible; for she got into the Haven, though they came up with her very fast, and she had surely been taken, had the Chase had been any thing longer.
Captain Balladine, who took the Glass, said it was the Port Royal, a Bristol Ship which left Jamaica in Company with him and the Charles. They now return'd to their own Coast, and sold their Prize at Brest, where, at his Desire, they left Captain Balladine, and Monsieur le Blanc made him a Present of Purse with 40 Louis's for his Support; his Crew were also left here.
At the Entrance into this Harbour the Triumph struck upon a Rock, but received no Damage: This Entrance, called Gonlet, is very dangerous on Account of the Number of Rocks which lie on each Side under Water, though the Harbour is certainly the best in France. The Mouth of the Harbour is defended by a strong Castle; the Town is well fortified, and has a Citadel for its farther Defence, which is of considerable Strength. In 1694 the English attempted a Descent, but did not find their Market, for they were beat off with the Loss of their General, and a great many Men. From hence the Triumph return'd to Rochel, and in a Month after our Voluntiers, who went on board the Victoire, took their Departure for Martineco and Guadalupa; they met with nothing in their Voyage thither worth noting.
I shall only observe, that Signior Caraccioli, who was as ambitious as he was irreligious, had, by this Time, made a perfect Delft of Misson, and thereby convinc'd him, that all Religion was no other than human Policy, and shew'd him that the Law of Moses was no more than what were necessary, as well for the Preservation as the Governing of the People; for Instance, said he, the African Negroes never heard of the Institution of Circumcision, which is said to be the Sign of the Covenant made between God and this People, and yet they circumcise their Children; doubtless for the same Reason the Jews and other Nations do, who inhabit the Southern Climes, the Prepuce consolidating the perspired Matter, which is of a fatal Consequence. In short, he ran through all the Ceremonies of the Jewish, Christian and Mahometan Religion, and convinced him these were, as might be observed by the Absurdity of many, far from being Institutions of Men inspired; and that Moses, in his Account of the Creation, was guilty of known Blunders; and the Miracles, both in the New and Old Testament, inconsistent with Reason. That God had given us this Blessing, to make Use of for our present and future Happiness, and whatever was contrary to it, notwithstanding their School Distinctions of contrary and above Reason, must be false. This Reason teaches us, that there is a first Cause of all Things, an Ens Entium, which we call God, and our Reason will also suggest, that he must be eternal, and, as the Author of every Thing perfect, he must be infinitely perfect.
If so, he can be subject to no Passions, and neither loves nor hates; he must be ever the same, and cannot rashly do to Day what he shall repent to Morrow. He must be perfectly happy, consequently nothing can add to an eternal State of Tranquillity, and though it becomes us to adore him, yet can our Adorations neither augment, nor our Sins take from this Happiness.
But his Arguments on this Head are too long, and too dangerous to translate; and as they are work'd up with great Subtlety, they may be pernicious to weak Men, who cannot discover their Fallacy; or, who finding ’em agreeable to their Inclinations, and would be glad to shake off the Yoke of the Christian Religion, which galls and curbs their Passions, would not give themselves the Trouble to examine them to the Bottom, but give into what pleases, glad of finding some Excuse to their Consciences. Though as his Opinion of a future State has nothing in it which impugns the Christian Religion, I shall set it down in few Words.
‘That reasoning Faculty, says he, which we perceive within us, we call the Soul, but what that Soul is, is unknown to us. It may die with the Body, or it may survive. I am of Opinion its immortal; but to say that this Opinion is the Dictate of Reason, or only the Prejudice of Education, would, I own, puzzle me. If it is immortal, it must be an Emanation from the Divine Being, and consequently at its being separated from the Body, will return to its first Principle, if not contaminated. Now, my Reason tells me, if it is estranged from its first Principle, which is the Deity, all the Hells of Man's Invention can never yield Tortures adequate to such a Banishment.
As he had privately held these Discourses among the Crew, he had gained a Number of Proselytes, who look'd upon him as a new Prophet risen up to reform the Abuses in Religion; and a great Number being Rochellers, and, as yet, tainted with Calvanism, his Doctrine was the more readily embrac'd. When he had experienced the Effects of his religious Arguments, he fell upon Government, and shew'd, that every Man was born free, and had as much Right to what would support him, as to the Air he respired. A contrary Way of arguing would be accusing the Deity with Cruelty and Injustice, for he brought into the World no Man to pass a Life of Penury, and to miserably want a necessary Support; that the vast Difference between Man and Man, the one wallowing in Luxury, and the other in the most pinching Necessity, was owing only to Avarice and Ambition on the one Hand, and a pusilanimous Subjection on the other; that at first no other than a Natural was known, a paternal Government, every Father was the Head, the Prince and Monarch of his Family, and Obedience to such was both just and easy, for a Father had a compassionate Tenderness for his Children; but Ambition creeping in by Degrees, the stronger Family set upon and enslaved the Weaker; and this additional Strength over-run a third, by every Conquest gathering Force to make others, and this was the first Foundation of Monarchy. Pride encreasing with Power, Man usurped the Prerogative of God, over his Creatures, that of depriving them of Life, which was a Privilege no one had over his own; for as he did not come into the World by his own Election, he ought to stay the determined Time of his Creator: That indeed, Death given in War, was by the Law of Nature allowable, because it is for the Preservation of our own Lives; but no Crime ought to be thus punished, nor indeed any War undertaken, but in Defence of our natural Right, which is such a Share of Earth as is necessary for our Support.
These Topicks he often declaimed on, and very often advised with Misson about the setting up for themselves; he was as ambitious as the other, and as resolute. Caraccioli and Misson were by this expert Mariners, and very capable of managing a Ship: Caraccioli had sounded a great many of the Men on this Subject, and found them very inclineable to listen to him. An Accident happen'd which gave Caraccioli a fair Opportunity to put his Designs in Execution, and he laid Hold of it; they went off Martinico on a Cruize, and met with the Winchelsea, an English Man of War of 40 Guns, commanded by Captain Jones; they made for each other, and a very smart Engagement followed, the first Broadside killed the Captain, second Captain, and the three Lieutenants, on Board the Victoire, and left only the Master, who would have struck, but Misson took up the Sword, order'd Caraccioli to act as Lieutenant, and encouraging the Men fought the Ship six Glasses, when by some Accident, the Winchelsea blew up, and not a Man was saved but Lieutenant Franklin, whom the French Boats took up, and he died in two Days. None ever knew before this Manuscript fell into my Hands how the Winchelsea was lost; for her Head being driven ashore at Antegoa, and a great Storm having happen'd a few Days before her Head was found, it was concluded, that she founder'd in that Storm. After this Engagement, Caraccioli came to Misson and saluted him Captain, and desired to know if he would chuse a momentary or a lasting Command, that he must now determine, for at his Return to Martinico it would be too late; and he might depend upon the Ship he fought and saved being given to another, and they would think him well rewarded if made a Lieutenant, which Piece of Justice he doubted: That he had his Fortune in his Hands, which he might either keep or let go; if he made Choice of the latter, he must never again expect she would court him to accept her Favours: That he ought to set before his Eyes his Circumstances, as a younger Brother of a good Family, but nothing to support his Character; and the many Years he must serve at the Expence of his Blood before he could make any Figure in the World; and consider the wide Difference between the commanding and being commanded: That he might with the Ship he had under Foot, and the brave Fellows under Command, bid Defiance to the Power of Europe, enjoy every Thing he wish'd, reign Sovereign of the Southern Seas, and lawfully make War on all the World, since it wou'd deprive him of that Liberty to which he had a Right by the Laws of Nature: That he might in Time, become as great as Alexander was to the Persians; and by encreasing his Forces by his Captures, he would every Day strengthen the Justice of his Cause, for who has Power is always in the Right. That Harry the Fourth and Harry the Seventh, attempted and succeeded in their Enterprizes on the Crown of England, yet their Forces did not equal his. Mahomet with a few Camel Drivers, founded the Ottoman Empire; and Darius, with no more than six or seven Companions got Possession of that of Persia.
In a Word he said so much that Misson resolved to follow his Advice, and calling up all Hands, he told them, ‘That a great Number of them had resolved with him upon a Life of Liberty, and and had done him the Honour to create him Chief: That he designed to force no Man, and be guilty of that Injustice he blamed in others; therefore, if any were averse to the following his Fortune, which he promised should be the same to all, he desired they would declare themselves, and he would set them ashore, whence they might return with Conveniency;’ having made an End, they one and all cryed, Vive le Capitain Misson et son Lieutenant le Scavant Caraccioli, God bless Capt. Misson and his learned Lieutenant Caraccioli. Misson thanked them for the Honour they conferr'd upon him, and promised he would use the Power they gave for the publick Good only, and hoped, as they had the Bravery to assert their Liberty, they would be as unanimous in the preserving it, and stand by him in what should be found expedient for the Good of all; that he was their Friend and Companion, and should never exert his Power, or think himself other than their Comrade, but when the Necessity of Affairs should oblige him.
They shouted a second Time, vive le Capitain; he, after this, desired they would chuse their subaltern Officers, and give them Power to consult and conclude upon what might be for the common Interest, and bind themselves down by an Oath to agree to what such Officers and he should determine: This they readily gave into. The School-Master they chose for second Lieutenant, Jean Besace they nominated for third, and the Boatswain, and a Quarter-Master, named Matthieu le Tondu, with the Gunner, they desired might be their Representatives in Council.
The Choice was approved, and that every Thing might pass methodically, and with general Approbation, they were called into the great Cabbin, and the Question put, what Course they should steer? The Captain proposed the Spanish Coast as the most probable to afford them rich Prizes: This was agreed upon by all. The Boatswain then asked what Colours they should fight under, and advised Black as most terrifying; but Caraccioli objected, that they were no pyrates, but Men who were resolved to assert that Liberty which God and Nature gave them, and own no Subjection to any, farther than was for the common Good of all: That indeed, Obedience to Governors was necessary, when they knew and acted up to the Duty of their Function; were vigilant Guardians of the Peoples Rights and Liberties; saw that Justice was equally distributed; were Barriers against the Rich and Powerful, when they attempted to oppress the Weaker; when they suffered none of the one Hand to grow immensely rich, either by his own or his Ancestors Encroachments; nor on the other, any to be wretchedly miserable, either by falling into the Hands of Villains, unmerciful Creditors, or other Misfortunes. While he had Eyes impartial, and allowed nothing but Merit to distinguish between Man and Man; and instead of being a Burthen to the People by his luxurious Life, he was by his Care for, and Protection of them, a real Father, and in every Thing acted with the equal and impartial Justice of a Parent: But when a Governor, who is the Minister of the People, thinks himself rais'd to this Dignity, that he may spend his Days in Pomp and Luxury, looking upon his Subjects as so many Slaves, created for his Use and Pleasure, and therefore leaves them and their Affairs to the immeasurable Avarice and Tyranny of some one whom he has chosen for his Favourite, when nothing but Oppression, Poverty, and all the Miseries of Life flow from such an Administration; that he lavishes away the Lives and Fortunes of the People, either to gratify his Ambition, or to support the Cause of some neighbouring Prince, that he may in Return, strengthen his Hands should his People exert themselves in Defence of their native Rights; or should he run into unnecessary Wars, by the rash and thoughtless Councils of his Favourite, and not able to make Head against the Enemy he has rashly or wantonly brought upon his Hands, and buy a Peace (which is the present Case of France, as every one knows, by supporting King James, and afterwards proclaiming his Son) and drain the Subject; should the Peoples Trade be wilfully neglected, for private Interests, and while their Ships of War lie idle in their Harbours, suffer their Vessels to be taken; and the Enemy not only intercepts all Commerce, but insults their Coasts: It speaks a generous and great Soul to shake off the Yoak; and if we cannot redress our Wrongs, withdraw from sharing the Miseries which meaner Spirits submit to, and scorn to yield to the Tyranny. Such Men are we, and, if the World, as Experience may convince us it will, makes War upon us, the Law of Nature empowers us not only to be on the defensive, but also on the offensive Part. As we then do not proceed upon the same Ground with pyrates, who are Men of dissolute Lives and no Principles, let us scorn to take their Colours: Ours is a brave, a just, an innocent, and a noble Cause; the Cause of Liberty. I therefore advise a Thomas White Ensign, with Liberty painted in the Fly, and if you like the Motto, a Deo a Libertate, for God and Liberty, as an Emblem of our Uprightness and Resolution.
The Cabbin Door was left open, and the Bulk Head which was of Canvas rowled up, the Steerage being full of Men, who lent an attentive Ear, they cried, Liberty, Liberty; we are free Men: Vive the brave Captain Misson and the noble Lieutenant Caraccioli. This short Council breaking up, every Thing belonging to the deceas'd Captain, and the other Officers, and Men lost in the Engagement, was brought upon Deck and over-hawled; the Money ordered to be put into a Chest, and the Carpenter to clap on a Padlock for, and give a Key to, every one of the Council: Misson telling them, all should be in common, and the particular Avarice of no one should defraud the Publick.
When the Plate Monsieur Fourbin had, was going to the Chest, the Men unanimously cried out avast, keep that out for the Captain's Use, as a Present from his Officers and Fore-mast Men. Misson thanked them, the Plate was returned to the great Cabbin, and the Chest secured according to Orders: Misson then ordered his Lieutenants and other Officers to examine who among the Men, were in most Want of Cloaths, and to distribute those of the dead Men impartially, which was done with a general Consent and Applause of the whole Crew: All but the wounded being upon Deck. Misson from the Baracade, spoke to the following Purpose, ‘That since they had unanimously resolved to seize upon and defend their Liberty, which ambitious Men had usurped, and that this could not be esteemed by impartial Judges other than a just and brave Resolution, he was under an Obligation to recommend to them a brotherly Love to each other; the Banishment of all private Piques and Grudges, and a strict Agreement and Harmony among themselves: That in throwing off the Yoak of Tyranny of which the Action spoke an Abhorrence, he hoped none would follow the Example of Tyrants, and turn his Back upon Justice; for when Equity was trodden under Foot, Misery, Confusion, and mutual Distrust naturally followed. — He also advised them to remember there was a Supream, the Adoration of which, Reason and Gratitude prompted us, and our own Interests would engage us (as it is best to be of the surest Side, and after-Life was allowed possible) to conciliate. — That he was satisfied Men who were born and bred in Slavery, by which their Spirits were broke, and were incapable of so generous a Way of thinking, who, ignorant of their Birth-Right, and the Sweets of Liberty, dance to the Musick of their Chains, which was, indeed, the greater Part of the Inhabitants of the Globe, would brand this generous Crew with the invidious Name of pyrates, and think it meritorious, to be instrumental in their Destruction. — Self-Preservation therefore, and not a cruel Disposition, obliged him to declare War against all such as should refuse him the Entry of their Ports, and against all, who should not immediately surrender and give up what their Necessities required; but in a more particular Manner against all European Ships and Vessels, as concluded implacable Enemies. And I do now, said he, declare such War, and, at the same time, recommend to you my Comrades a humane and generous Behaviour towards your Prisoners; which will appear by so much more the Effects of a noble Soul, as we are satisfied we should not meet the same Treatment should our ill Fortune, or more properly our Disunion, or want of Courage, give us up to their Mercy.
After this, he required a Muster should be made, and there were able Hands two Hundred, and thirty five sick and wounded; as they were muster'd they were sworn. After Affairs were thus settled, they shaped their Course for the Spanish West-Indies, but resolved, in the Way, to take a Week or ten Days Cruize in the Windward Passage from Jamaica, because most Merchant Men, which were good Sailors and did not stay for Convoy, took this as the shorter Cut for England.
Off St. Christophers they took an English Sloop becalmed, with their Boats; they took out of her a couple of Puncheons of Rum, and half a dozen Hogsheads of Sugar (she was a New England Sloop, bound for Boston) and without offering the least Violence to the Men, or stripping them, they let her go. The Master of the Sloop was Thomas Butler, who owned, he never met with so candid an Enemy as the French Man of War, which took him the Day he left St. Christophers; they met with no other Booty in their Way, till they came upon their Station, when after three Days, they saw a Sloop which had the Impudence to give them Chace; Captain Misson asked what could be the Meaning that the Sloop stood for them? One of the Men, who was acquainted with the West-Indies, told him, it was a Jamaica Privateer, and he should not wonder, if he clapp'd him aboard. I am, said he, no Stranger to their Way of working, and this despicable Fellow, as those who don't know a Jamaica Privateer may think him, it is ten to one will give you some Trouble. It now grows towards Evening, and you'll find as soon as he has discovered your Force, he'll keep out of the Reach of your Guns till the 12 a-Clock Watch is changed at Night, and he'll then attempt to clap you aboard, with Hopes to carry you in the Hurry: Wherefore Captain, if you will give me Leave to advise you, let every Man have his small Arms; and at twelve, let the Bell ring as usual, and rather more Noise than ordinary be made, as if the one Watch was turning in, and the other out, in a Confusion and Hurry, and I'll engage he will venture to enter his Men. The Fellow's Advice was approved and resolved upon, and the Sloop work'd, as he said she would, for upon coming near enough to make distinctly the Force of the Victoire, on her throwing out French Colours, she, the Sloop, clapp'd upon a Wind, the Victoire gave Chace, but without Hopes of gaining upon her; she went so well to Windward, that she cou'd spare the Ship some Points in her Sheet, and yet wrong her: At Dusk of the Even, the French had lost Sight of her, but about Eleven at Night, they saw her hankering up their Windward Bow, which confirmed the Sailors Opinion, that she would attempt to board them, as she did at the pretended Change of the Watch; there being little or no Wind, she lashed to the Bow-Sprit of the Victoire, and enter'd her Men, who were very quietly taken, as they enter'd and tumbled down the Forehatch, where they were received by others, and bound without Noise, not one of the Privateers killed, few hurt, and only one Frenchman wounded. The Victoire seeing the better Part of the Sloop's Men secured, they boarded in their Turn, when the Privateer's suspecting some Stratagem, were endeavouring to cut their Lashing and get off: Thus the Englishman caught a Tartar. The Prisoners being all secured, the Captain charged his Men not to discover, thro’ a Desire of augmenting their Number, the Account they were upon.
The next Morning Monsieur Misson called for the Captain of the Privateer, he told him, he could not but allow him a brave Fellow, to venture upon a Ship of his Countenance, and for that Reason he should meet Treatment which Men of his Profession seldom afforded the Prisoners they made. He asked him how long he had been out, what was his Name, and what he had on Board? He answered he was but just come out, that he was the first Sail he had met with, and shou'd have thought himself altogether as lucky not to have spoke with him; that his Name was Harry Ramsey, and what he had on Board were Rags, Powder, Ball, and some few half Anchors of Rum. Ramsey was ordered into the Gun-Room, and a Council being held in the publick Manner aforesaid, the Bulk Head of the great Cabbin rowled up. On their Conclusion, the Captain of the Privateer was called in again, when Captain Misson told him, he would return him his Sloop, and restore him and his Men to their Liberty, without stripping or plundering of any Thing, but what Prudence obliged him to, their Ammunition and Small-Arms, if he would give him his Word and Honour, and his Men to take an Oath, not to go out on the Privateer Account in six Months after they left him: That he did not design to continue that Station above a Week longer, at the Expiration of which Time he would let them go.
Ramsey, who had a new Sloop, did not expect this Favour, which he thanked him for, and promised punctually to comply with the Injunction, which his Men as readily swore to, tho’ they had no Design to keep the Oath. The Time being expired, he and his Men were put on Board their own Sloop. At going over the Ship's Side Ramsey begg'd Monsieur Misson would allow him Powder for a salute, by way of Thanks; but he answered him, the Ceremony was needless, and he expected no other Return than that of keeping his Word, which indeed Ramsey did. Some of his Men had found it more to their Advantage to have been as religious.
At parting Ramsey gave the Ship three Chears, and Misson had the Complaisance to return one, which Ramsey answering with three more, made the best of his Way for Jamaica, and at the East End of the Island met with the Diana, who, upon Advice, turn'd back.
The Victoire steer'd for Carthagene, off which Port they cruised some Days, but meeting with nothing in the Seas, they made for Porto Bello; in their Way they met with two Dutch Traders, who had Letters of Mart, and were just come upon the Coast, the one had 20, the other 24 Guns; Misson engaged them, and they defended themselves with a great Deal of Resolution and Gallantry; and as they were mann'd a Peak, he durst not venture to board either of them, for fear of being at the same Time boarded by the other. His Weight of Mettal gave him a great Advantage over the Dutch, though they were two to one; besides, their Business, as they had Cargoes, was to get off, if possible, wherefore they made a running Fight, though they took Care to stick close to one another.
They maintained the Fight for above six Hours, when Misson, enraged at this Obstinacy, and fearing, if by Accident they should bring a Mast, or Top-Mast, by the board, they would get from him. He was resolved to sink the larger Ship of the two, and accordingly ordered his Men to bring all their Guns to bear a Midship, then running close along Side of him, to raise their Mettal; his Orders being punctually obey'd, he pour'd in a Broad Side, which open'd such a Gap in the Dutch Ship, that she went directly to the Bottom, and every Man perish'd
He then mann'd his Bowsprit, brought his Sprit-sail Yard fore and aft, and resolved to board the other, which the Dutch perceiving, and terrified with the unhappy Fate of their Comrade, thought a farther resistance vain, and immediately struck. Misson gave them good Quarters, though he was enraged at the Loss of 13 Men killed outright, beside 9 wounded, of which 6 died. They found on board a great Quantity of Gold and Silver Lace, brocade Silks, Silk Stockings Bails of Broad-Cloath, Bazes of all Colours, and Osnabrughs.
A Consultation being held, it was resolved Captain Misson should take the Name of Fourbin, and returning to Carthagene, dispose of his Prize, and set his Prisoners ashoar. Accordingly they ply'd to the Eastward, and came to an Anchor between Boca Chieca Fort, and the Town, for they did not think it expedient to enter the Harbour. The Barge was manned, and Caraccioli, with the Name of D'Aubigny, the first Lieutenant, who was killed in the Engagement with the Winchelsea, and his Commission in his Pocket, went ashore with a Letter to the Governor, sign'd Fourbin, whose Character, for fear of the worst, was exactly counterfeited. The Purport of his Letter was, that having discretionary Orders to cruize for three Months, and hearing the English infested his Coast, he was come in search of ’em, and had met two Dutch Men, one of which he had sunk, the other he made Prize of. That his limited Time being near expired, he should be obliged to his Excellency, if he would send on board him such Merchants as were willing to take the Ship and Cargoe off his Hands, of which he had sent the Dutch Invoice. Don Joseph de la Zerda, the then Governor, received the Lieutenant (who sent back the Barge at landing) very civilly, and agreed to take the Prisoners ashoar, and do every Thing was required of him; and ordering fresh Provisions and Sallading to be got ready as a Present for the Captain, he sent for some Merchants who were very ready to go on board, and agree for the Ship and Goods; which they did, for two and fifty thousand Pieces of Eight. The next Day the Prisoners were set ashoar; a rich Piece of Brocade which was reserv'd, sent to the Governor for a Present, a Quantity of fresh Provision bought and brought on board, the Money paid by the Merchants, the Ship and Goods deliver'd, and the Victoire, at the Dawn of the following Day, got under Sail. It may be wonder'd how such Dispatch could be made, but the Reader must take Notice, these Goods were sold by the Dutch Invoice, which the Merchant of the Prize affirmed was genuine. I shall observe, by the by, that the Victoire was the French Man of War which Admiral Wager sent the Kingston in search of, and being afterwards falsly inform'd, that she was join'd by another of seventy Guns; and that they cruiz'd together between the Capes, order'd the Severn up to Windward, to assist the Kingston, which had like to have prov'd very fatal; for these two English Men of War, commanded by Captain Trevor and Captain Pudnor, meeting in the Night, had prepared to engage, each taking the other for the Enemy. The Kingston's Men not having a good Look-out, which must be attributed to the Negligence of the Officer of the Watch, did not see the Severn till she was just upon them; but, by good Luck, to Leeward, and plying up, with all the Sail she could crowd, and a clear Ship. This put the Kingston in such Confusion, that when the Severn hal'd, no Answer was return'd, for none heard her. She was got under the Kingston's Stern, and Captain Pudnor ordered to hale for the third and last Time, and if no Answer was return'd, to give her a Broadside. The Noise on Board the Kingston was now a little ceas'd, and Captain Trevor, who was on the Poop with a speaking Trumpet to hale the Severn, by good Luck heard her hale him, and answering the Kingston, and asking the Name of the other Ship, prevented the Damage.
They cruised together some Time, and meeting nothing which answer'd their Information, return'd to Jamaica, as I shall to my Subject, begging Pardon for this, as I thought, necessary Digression.
Don Juan de la Zerda told the Captain in a Letter, that the St. Joseph, a Gallion of seventy Guns, was then lying at Port a Bello, and should be glad he could keep her Company till she was off the Coast. That she would sail in eight or ten Days for the Havanna; and that, if his Time would permit him, he would send an Advice-Boat. That she had on Board the Value of 800,000 Pieces of Eight in Silver and Bar Gold. Misson return'd Answer, that he believ'd he should be excus'd if he stretched his Orders, for a few Days; and that he would cruize off the Isle of Pearls, and Cape Gratias a Dios, and give for Signal to the Gallion, his spreading a white Ensign in his Fore-Top-Mast Shrouds, the cluing up his Fore-Sail, and the firing one Gun to Windward, and two to Leeward, which he should answer by letting run and hoisting his Fore-Top-Sail three times, and the firing as many Guns to Leeward. Don Joseph, extreamly pleased with this Complaisance, sent a Boat express to advise the St. Joseph, but she was already sailed two Days, contrary to the Governor of Carthagene's Expectation, and this Advice Captain Misson had from the Boat, which returning with an Answer, saw the Victoire in the Offin, and spoke to her. It was then resolved to follow the St. Joseph, and accordingly they steer'd for the Havanna, but by what Accident they did not overtake her is unknown.
I forgot to tell my Reader, on Board the Dutch Ship were fourteen French Hugonots, whom Misson thought fit to detain, when they were at Sea. Misson called ’em up, and proposed to ’em their taking on; telling them at the same Time, he left it to their Choice, for he would have no forc'd Men; and that if they all, or any of them, disapproved the Proposal, he would either give ’em the first Vessel he met that was fit for ’em, or set ’em ashoar on some inhabited Coast; and therefore bid ’em take two Days for Consideration before they returned an Answer; and, to encourage ’em, he called all Hands up, and declar'd, that if any Man repented him of the Course of Life he had chosen, his just Dividend should be counted to him, and he would set him on Shoar, either near the Havanna, or some other convenient Place; but not one accepted the Offer, and the fourteen Prisoners unanimously resolved to join in with ’em; to which Resolution, no doubt, the Hopes of a good Booty from the St. Joseph, and this Offer of Liberty greatly contributed.
At the Entrance of the Gulph they spied and came with a large Merchant Ship bound for London from Jamaica; she had 20 Guns, but no more than 32 Hands, that its not to be wonder'd at she made no Resistance, besides, she was deep laden with Sugars. Monsieur Misson took out of her what Ammunition she had, about four thousand Pieces of Eight, some Puncheons of Rum, and ten Hogsheads of Sugar; and, without doing her any further Damage, let her proceed her Voyage. What he valued most in this Prize was the Men he got, for she was carrying to Europe twelve French Prisoners, two of which were necessary Hands, being a Carpenter and his Mate. They were of Bourdeaux, from whence they came with the Pomechatraine, which was taken by the Maremaid off Petit Guavers, after an obstinate Resistance, in which they lost forty Men; but they were of Opinion the Maremaid could not have taken ’em, having but four Guns less than she had, which was made amends for, by their having about thirty Hands. On the contrary, had not the Guernsey come up, they thought of boarding and carrying the Maremaid. These Men very willingly came into Captain Misson's Measures.
These Men, who had been stripp'd to the Skin, begg'd Leave to make Reprisals, but the Captain would not suffer them, though he told the Master of the Prize, as he protected him and his Men, he thought it reasonable these French should be cloathed: Upon this the Master contributed of his own, and every Man bringing up his Chest, thought themselves very well off in sharing with them one half.
Though Misson's Ship pass'd for a French Man of War, yet his Generosity in letting the Prize go, gave the English Grounds to suspect the Truth, neither the Ship nor Cargoe being of Use to such as were upon the grand Account.
When they had lost all Hopes of the St. Joseph, they coasted along the North-Side of Cuba, and the Victoire growing now foul, they ran into a Landlock'd Bay on the East North-East Point, where they hove her down by Boats and Guns, though they could not pretend to heave her Keel out; however, they scraped and tallowed as far as they could go; they, for this Reason, many of them repented they had let the last Prize go, by which they might have careened.
When they had righted the Ship, and put every Thing on Board, they consulted upon the Course they should steer. Upon this the Council divided. The Captain and Caraccioli were for stretching over to the African, and the others for the New-England Coast, alledging, that the Ship had a foul Bottom, and was not fit for the Voyage; and that if they met with contrary Winds, and bad Weather, their Stock of Provision might fall short; and that as they were not far from the English Settlement of Carolina, they might either on that or the Coast of Virginia, Maryland, Pensylvania, New-York, or New-England, intercept Ships which traded to the Islands with Provisions, and by that Means provide themselves with Bread, Flower, and other Necessaries. An Account of the Provisions were taken, and finding they had Provisions for four Months. Captain Misson called all Hands upon Deck, and told them, as the Council differed in the Course they should steer, he thought it reasonable to have it put to the Vote of the whole Company. That for his Part, he was for going to the Coasts of Guiney, where they might reasonably expect to meet with valuable Prizes; but should they fail in their Expectation one Way, they would be sure of having it answered another; for they could then throw themselves in that of the East-India Ships, and he need not tell them, that the outward bound dreined Europe of what Money they drew from America. He then gave the Sentiments of those who were against him, and their Reasons, and begg'd that every one would give his Opinion and Vote according as he thought most conducive to the Good of all. That he should be far from taking it ill if they should reject what he had proposed, since he had no private Views to serve. The Majority of Votes fell on the Captain's Side, and they accordingly shaped their Course for the Coast of Guiney, in which Voyage nothing remarkable happened. On their Arrival on the Gold-Coast, they fell in with the Nieuwstadt of Amsterdam, a Ship of 18 Guns, commanded by Capt. Blaes, who made a running Fight of five Glasses: This Ship they kept with them, putting on Board 40 Hands, and bringing all the Prisoners on Board the Victoire, they were Forty three in Number; they left Amsterdam with Fifty six, seven were killed in the Engagement, and they had lost six by Sickness and Accidents, one falling overboard, and one being taken by a Shark going overboard in a Calm.
The Nieuwstadt had some Gold-Dust on Board, to the Value of about 2000 l. Sterling, and a few Slaves to the Number of Seventeen, for she had but begun to Trade; the Slaves were a strengthening of their Hands, for the Captain order'd them to be cloathed out of Dutch Mariners Chests, and told his Men, ‘That the Trading for those of our own Species, cou'd never be agreeable to the Eyes of divine Justice: That no Man had Power of the Liberty of another; and while those who profess'd a more enlightened Knowledge of the Deity, sold Men like Beasts; they prov'd that their Religion was no more than Grimace, and that they differ'd from the Barbarians in Name only, since their Practice was in nothing more humane: For his Part, and he hop'd, he spoke the Sentiments of all his brave Companions, he had not exempted his Neck from the galling Yoak of Slavery, and asserted his own Liberty, to enslave others. That however, these Men were distinguish'd from the Europeans by their Colour, Customs, or religious Rites, they were the Work of the same omnipotent Being, and endued with equal Reason: Wherefore, he desired they might be treated like Freemen (for he wou'd banish even the Name of Slavery from among them)’ and divided into Messes among them, to the End they might the sooner learn their Language, be sensible of the Obligation they had to them, and more capable and zealous to defend that Liberty they owed to their Justice and Humanity.
This Speech of Misson's was received with general Applause, and the Ship rang with vive le Capitain Misson. Long live Capt. Misson. — The Negroes were divided among the French, one to a Mess, who, by their Gesticulations, shew'd they were gratefully sensible of their being delivered from their Chains. Their Ship growing very foul, and going heavily through the Water, they run into the River of Lagoa, where they hove her down, taking out such Planks as had suffer'd most by the Worms, and substituting new in their Room.
After this they careened the Prize, and so put out to Sea, steering to the Southward, and keeping along the Coast, but met with Nothing. All this while, the greatest Decorum and Regularity was observed on Board the Victoire; but the Dutch Prisoners Example began to lead ’em into Swearing and Drunkenness, which the Captain remarking, thought it was best to nip these Vices in the Bud; and calling both the French and Dutch upon Deck, he address'd himself to the former, desiring their Captain, who spoke French excellently well, to interpret what he said to those who did not understand him. He told them, ‘before he had the the Misfortune of having them on Board, his Ears were never grated with hearing the Name of the great Creator prophaned, tho’ he, to his Sorrow, had often since heard his own Men guilty of that Sin, which administer'd neither Profit nor Pleasure, and might draw upon them a severe Punishment: That if they had a just Idea of that great Being, they wou'd never mention him, but they wou'd immediately reflect on his Purity and their own Vileness. That we so easily took Impression from our Company, that the Spanish Proverb says, let a Hermit and a Thief live together, the Thief wou'd become Hermit, or the Hermit Thief: That he saw this verified in his Ship, for he cou'd attribute the Oaths and Curses he had heard among his brave Companions, to nothing but the odious Example of the Dutch: That this was not the only Vice they had introduced, for before they were on Board, his Men were Men, but he found by their beastly Pattern they were degenerated into Brutes, by drowning that only Faculty, which distinguishes between Man and Beast, Reason. That as he had the Honour to command them, he could not see them run into these odious Vices without a sincere Concern, as he had a paternal Affection for them; and he should reproach himself as neglectful of the common Good, if he did not admonish them; and as by the Post which they had honour'd him, he was obliged to have a watchful Eye over their general Interest; he was obliged to tell them his Sentiments were, that the Dutch allured them to a dissolute Way of Life, that they might take some Advantage over them: Wherefore, as his brave Companions, he was assured, wou'd be guided by Reason, he gave the Dutch Notice, that the first whom he catch'd either with an Oath in his Mouth or Liquor in his Head, should be brought to the Geers, whipped and pickled, for an Example to the rest of his Nation: As to his Friends, his Companions, his Children, those gallant, those generous, noble, and heroick Souls he had the Honour to command, he entreated them to allow a small Time for Reflection, and to consider how little Pleasure, and how much Danger, might flow from imitating the Vices of their Enemies; and that they would among themselves, make a Law for the Suppression of what would otherwise estrange them from the Source of Life, and consequently leave them destitute of his Protection.’
It is not to be imagined what Efficacy this Speech had on both Nations: The Dutch grew continent in Fear of Punishment, and the French in Fear of being reproach'd by their good Captain, for they never mentioned him without this Epithet. Upon the Coast of Angola, they met with a second Dutch Ship, the Cargo of which consisted of Silk and Woolen Stuffs, Cloath, Lace, Wine, Brandy, Oyl, Spice, and hard Ware; the Prize gave Chase and engaged her, but upon the coming up of the Victoire she struck. This Ship opportunely came in their Way, and gave full Employ to the Taylors, who were on Board, for the whole Crew-began to be out at Elbows: They plundered her of what was of Use to their own Ship, and then sunk her.
The Captain having about ninety Prisoners on Board, proposed the giving them the Prize, with what was necessary for their Voyage, and sending them away; which being agreed to, they shifted her Ammunition on Board the Victoire, and giving them Provision to carry them to the Settlements the Dutch have on the Coast, Misson called them up, told them what was his Design, and ask'd if any of them was willing to share his Fortune: Eleven Dutch came into him, two of which were Sail-makers, one an Armourer, and one a Carpenter, necessary Hands; the rest he let go, not a little surprised at the Regularity, Tranquillity, and Humanity, which they found among these new-fashioned pyrates.
They had now run the Length of Soldinia Bay, about ten Leagues to the Northward of Table Bay. As here is good Water, safe Riding, plenty of Fish and fresh Provision, to be got of the Natives for the Merchandize they had on Board, it was resolved to stay here some little Time for Refreshments. When they had the Bay open, they spied a tall Ship, which instantly got under sail, and hove out English Colours. The Victoire made a clear Ship, and hove out her French Ensign, and a smart Engagement began. The English was a new Ship built for 40 Guns, though she had but 32 mounted, and 90 Hands. Misson gave Orders for boarding, and his Number of fresh Men he constantly poured in, after an obstinate Dispute obliged the English to fly the Decks, and leave the French Masters of their Ship, who promised, and gave them, good Quarters, and stripp'd not a Man.
They found on Board the Prize some Bales of English Broad-Cloath, and about 60000 l. in English Crown Pieces, and Spanish Pieces of Eight. The English Captain was killed in the Engagement, and 14 of his Men: The French lost 12, which was no small Mortification, but did not however provoke them to use their Prisoners harshly. Captain Misson was sorry for the Death of the Commander, whom he buried on the Shoar, and one of his Men being a Stone-Cutter, he raised a Stone over his Grave with these Words, Icy gist un brave Anglois, Here lies a gallant English Man; when he was buried he made a tripple Discharge of 50 small Arms, and fired Minute Guns.
The English, knowing whose Hands they were fallen into, charm'd with Misson's Humanity, 30 of them, in 3 Days Space, desired to take on with him. He accepted ’em, but at the same Time gave ’em to understand, that in taking on with him they were not to expect they should be indulged in a dissolute and immoral Life. He now divided his Company between the two Ships, and made Caraccioli Captain of the Prize, giving him Officers chosen by the publick Suffrage. The 17 Negroes began to understand a little French, and to be useful Hands, and in less than a Month all the English Prisoners came over to him, except their Officers.
He had two Ships well mann'd with resolute Fellows; they now doubled the Cape, and made the South End of Madagascar, and one of the English Men telling Captain Misson, that the European Ships bound for Surat commonly touch'd at the Island of Johanna, he sent for Captain Caraccioli on Board, and it was agreed to cruize off that Island. They accordingly sailed on the West-Side of Madagascar and off the Bay de Diego. About half Seas over between that Bay and the Island of Johanna, they came up with an English East-India Man, which made Signals of Distress as soon as she spy'd Misson and his Prize; they found her sinking by an unexpected Leak, and took all her Men on Board, though they could get little out of her before she went down. The English, who were thus miraculously saved from perishing, desired to be set on Shoar at Johanna, where they hop'd to meet with either a Dutch or English Ship in a little Time, and the mean while they were sure of Relief.
They arrived at Johanna, and were kindly received by the Queen-Regent and her Brother, on account of the English on the one Hand, and of their Strength on the other, which the Queen's Brother, who had the Administration of Affairs, was not able to make Head against, and hoped they might assist him against the King of Mohila, who threaten'd him with a Visit.
This is an Island which is contiguous, in a manner, to Johanna, and lies about N. W. and by N. from it. Caraccioli told Misson he might make his Advantage in widening the Breach between these two little Monarchies, and, by offering his Assistance to that of Johanna, in a manner rule both, for these would court him as their Protector, and those come to any Terms to buy his Friendship, by which Means he would hold the Ballance of Power between them. He followed this Advice, and offered his Friendship and Assistance to the Queen, who very readily embraced it.
I must advise the Reader, that many of this Island speak English, and that the English Men who were of Misson's Crew, and his Interpreters, told them, their Captain, though not an Englishman, was their Friend and Ally, and a Friend and Brother to the Johanna Men, for they esteem the English beyond all other Nations.
They were supplied by the Queen with all Necessaries of Life, and Misson married her Sister, as Caraccioli did the Daughter of her Brother, whose Armory, which consisted before of no more than two rusty Fire-Locks, and three Pistols, he furnish'd with thirty Fuzils, as many Pair of Pistols, and gave him two Barrels of Powder, and four of Ball.
Several of his Men took Wives, and some required their Share of the Prizes, which was justly given them, they designing to settle in this Island, but the Number of these did not exceed ten, which Loss was repaired by thirty of the Crew (they had saved from perishing) coming in to him.
While they past their Time in all manner of Diversions the Place would afford them, as hunting, feasting, and visiting the Island, the King of Mohila made a Descent, and alarm'd the whole Country. Misson advised the Queen's Brother not to give him any Impediment, but let him get into the Heart of the Island, and he would take Care to intercept their Return; but the Prince answered, should he follow his Advice the Enemy would do him and the Subjects an irreparable Damage, in destroying the Cocoa Walks, and for that Reason he must endeavour to stop his Progress. Upon this Answer he asked the English who were not under his Command, if they were willing to join him in repelling the Enemies of their common Host, and one and all consenting, he gave them Arms, and mixed them with his own Men, and about the same Number of Johannians, under the Command of Caraccioli and the Queen's Brother, and arming out all his Boats, he went himself to the Westward of the Island, where they made their Descent. The Party which went by Land, fell in with, and beat the Mohilians with great Ease, who were in the greatest Consternation, to find their Retreat cut off by Misson's Boats. The Johannians, whom they had often molested, were so enraged, that they gave Quarter to none, and out of 300 who made the Descent, if Misson and Caraccioli had not interposed, not a Soul had escaped; 113 were taken Prisoners by his Men, and carried on Board his Ships. These he sent safe to Mohila, with a Message to the King, to desire he would make Peace with his Friend and Ally the King of Johanna; but that Prince, little affected with the Service done him in the Preservation of his Subjects, sent him Word he took Laws from none, and knew when to make War and Peace without his Advice, which he neither asked nor wanted. Misson, irritated by this rude Answer, resolved to transfer the War into his own Country, and accordingly set sail for Mohila, with about 100 Johanna Men. The Shoar, on Sight of the Ships, was filled with Men to hinder a Descent if intended, but the great Guns soon dispersed this Rabble, and under their Cover he landed the Johannians, and an equal Number of French and English. They were met by about 700 Mohilians, who pretended to stop their Passage, but their Darts and Arrows were of little avail against Misson's Fuzils; the first Discharge made a great Slaughter, and about 20 Shells which were thrown among them, put them to a confus'd Flight. The Party of Europeans and Johannians then marched to their Metropolis, without Resistance, which they reduced to ashes and the Johannians cut down all the Cocoa Walks that they could for the Time, for towards Evening they returned to their Ships, and stood off to Sea.
At their Return to Johanna the Queen made a Festival, and magnified the Bravery and Service of her Guests, Friends, and Allies. This Feast lasted four Days, at the Expiration of which Time the Queen's Brother proposed to Captain Misson the making another Descent, in which he would go in Person, and did not doubt subjecting the Mohilians; but this was not the Design of Misson, who had Thoughts of fixing a Retreat on the North West Side of Madagascar, and look'd upon the Feuds between these two Islands advantageous to his Views, and therefore no way his Interest to suffer the one to overcome the other; for while the Variance was kept up, and their Forces pretty much upon a Level, it was evident their Interest would make both Sides caress him; he therefore answer'd, that they ought to deliberate on the Consequences, for they might be deceived in their Hopes, and find the Conquest less easy than they imagined. That the King of Mohila would be more upon his Guard, and not only intrench himself, but gall them with frequent Ambuscades, by which they must inevitably lose a Number of Men; and, if they were forced to retire with Loss, raise the
Courage of the Mohilians, and make them irreconcilable Enemies to the Johannians, and intirely deprive him of the Advantages with which he might now make a Peace, having twice defeated them: That he could not be always with them, and at his leaving Johanna he might expect the King of Mohila would endeavour to take a bloody Revenge for the late Damages. The Queen gave intirely into Misson's Sentiments.
While this was in Agitation four Mohilians arrived as Ambassadors to propose a Peace. They finding the Johannians upon high Terms, one of them spoke to this Purpose; O ye Johannians, do not conclude from your late Success, that Fortune will be always favourable; she will not always give you the Protection of the Europeans, and without their Help its possible you might now sue for a Peace, which you seem averse to. Remember the Sun rises, comes to its Meridian Height, and stays not there, but declines in a Moment. Let this admonish you to reflect on the constant Revolution of all sublunary Affairs, and the greater is your Glory, the nearer you are to your Declension. We are taught by every Thing we see, that there is no Stability in the World, but Nature is in continual Movement. The Sea which o'er flows the Sands has its Bounds set, which it cannot pass, which the Moment it has reached, without abiding, returns back to the Bosom of the Deep. Every Herb, every Shrub and Tree, and even our own Bodies, teach us this Lesson, that nothing is durable, or can be counted upon. Time passes away insensibly, one Sun follows another, and brings its Changes with it. To Day's Globe of Light sees you strengthened by these Europeans elate with Victory, and we, who have been used to conquer you, come to ask a Peace. To Morrow's Sun may see you deprived of your present Succours, and the Johannians petitioning us; as therefore we cannot say what to Morrow may bring forth, it would be unwise on uncertain Hopes to forego a certain Advantage, as surely Peace ought to be esteem'd by every wise Man.
Having said this, the Ambassadors withdrew, and were treated by the Queen's Orders. After the Council had concluded, they were again call'd upon, and the Queen told them, that by the Advice of her good Friends, the Europeans, and those of her Council, she agreed to make a Peace, which she wish'd might banish all Memory of former Injuries. That they must own the War was begun by them, and that she was far from being the Agressor; she only defended her self in her own Kingdom, which they had often invaded, though, till within few Days, she had never molested their Coasts. If then they really desired to live amicably with her, they must resolve to send two of the King's Children, and ten of the first Nobility, as Hostages, that they might, when they pleased, return, for that was the only Terms on which she would desist prosecuting the Advantages she now had, with the utmost Vigour.
The Ambassadors return'd with this Answer, and, about ten Days after, the two Ships appearing upon their Coasts, they sent off to give Notice, that their King comply'd with the Terms proposed, would send the Hostages, and desired a Cessation of all Hostility, and, at the same Time, invited the Commanders on Shoar. The Johanna Men on Board disswaded their accepting the Invitation; but Misson and Caraccioli, fearing nothing, went, but arm'd their Boat's Crew. They were rceived by the King with Demonstrations of Friendship, and they dined with him under a Tamerane Tree; but when they parted from him, and were returning to their Boats, they were inclosed by, at least, 100 of the Mohilians, who set upon them with the utmost Fury, and, in the first Flight of Arrows, wounded both the Captains, and killed four of their Boat's Crew of eight, who were with them; they, in return, discharged their Pistols with some Execution, and fell in with their Cutlasses; but all their Bravery would have stood them in little Stead, had not the Report of their Pistols alarm'd and brought the rest of their Friends to their Assistance, who took their Fuzils, and coming up while they were engaged, discharged a Volley on the Back of the Assailants, which laid twelve of them dead on the Spot. The Ships hearing this Fire, sent immediately the Yawls and Long-Boats well mann'd. Though the Islanders were a little damp'd in their Courage by this Fire of the Boats Crew, yet they did not give over the Fight, and one of them desperately threw himself upon Caraccioli, and gave him a deep Wound in his Side, with a long Knife, but he paid for the Rashness of the Attempt with his Life, one of the Crew cleaving his Skull. The Yawls and Long-Boats now arrived, and being guided by the Noise, reinforced their Companions, put the Traytors to Flight, and brought off their dead and wounded. The Europeans lost by this Treachery seven slain outright, and eight wounded, six of which recovered.
The Crew were resolved to revenge the Blood of their Officers and Comrades the next Day, and were accordingly on the Point of Landing, when two Canoes came off with two Men bound, the pretended Authors of this Treason, without the King's Knowledge, who had sent ’em that they might receive the Punishment due to their Villany. The Johanna Men on Board were call'd for Interpreters, who having given this Account, added, that the King only sacrificed these Men, but that they should not believe him, for he certainly had given Orders for assassinating the Europeans; and the better Way was to kill all the Mohilians that came in the Canoes as well as the two Prisoners; go back to Johanna, take more of their Countrymen, and give no Peace to Traytors; but Misson was for no such violent Measures, he was averse to every Thing that bore the Face of Cruelty and thought a bloody Revenge, if Necessity did not enforce it, spoke a groveling and timid Soul; he, therefore, sent those of the Canoes back, and bid them tell their King, if before the Evening he sent the Hostages agreed upon, he should give Credit to his Excuse, but if he did not, he should believe him the Author of the late vile Attempt on his Life.
The Canoes went off but returned not with an Answer, wherefore, he bid the Johanna Men tell the two Prisoners that they should be set on Shore the next Morning, and order'd them to acquaint their King, he was no Executioner to put those to Death whom he had condemn'd, but that he should find, he knew how to revenge himself of his Treason. The Prisoners being unbound, threw themselves at his Feet, and begg'd that he would not send them ashore, for they should be surely put to Death, for the Crime they had committed, was, the dissuading the barbarous Action of which they were accused as Authors.
Next Day the two Ships landed 200 Men, under the Cover of their Canon; but that Precaution of bringing their Ships close to the Shore they found needless; not a Soul appearing, they march'd two Leagues up the Country, when they saw a Body of Men appear behind some Shrubs; Caraccioli's Lieutenant, who commanded the right Wing, with fifty Men made up to them, but found he had got among Pit Falls artificially cover'd, several of his Men falling into them, which made him halt, and not pursue those Mohilians who made a feint Retreat to ensnare him, thinking it dangerous to proceed farther; and seeing no Enemy would face them, they retired the same Way they came, and getting into their Boats, went on Board the Ships, resolving to return with a strong Reinforcement, and make Descents at one and the same Time in different Parts of the Island. They ask'd the two Prisoners how the Country lay, and what the Soil was on the North Side the Island; and they answer'd it was morass, and the most dangerous Part to attempt, it being a Place where they shelter on any imminent Danger.
The Ships return'd to Johanna, where the greatest Tenderness and Care was shewn for the Recovery and Cure of the two Captains and of their Men; they lay six Weeks before they were able to walk the Decks, for neither of them would quit his Ship. Their Johanna Wives expressed a Concern they did not think them capable of, nay, a Wife of one of the wounded Men who died, stood some Time looking upon the Corpse as motionless as a Statue, then embracing it, without shedding a Tear, desired she might take it ashore to wash and bury it; and at the same Time, by an Interpreter, and with a little Mixture of European Language, she had, begg'd her late Husband's Friends would take their Leave of him the next Day.
Accordingly a Number went ashore, and carried with them the Dividend, which fell to his Share, which the Captain order'd to be given his Widow; when she saw the Money, she smil'd, and ask'd if all, all that was for her? Being answered in the affirmative, and what Good will all that shining Dirt do me, if I could with it purchase the Life of my Husband, and call him back from the Grave, I would accept it with Pleasure, but as it is not sufficient to allure him back to this World, I have no Use for it; do with it what you please. Then she desired they would go with her and perform the last Ceremonies to her Husband's dead Body, after their Country Fashion, least he should be displeased, that she could not stay with them, to be a Witness, because she was in haste to go and be married again. She startled the Europeans who heard this latter Part of her Speech so dissonant from the Beginning; however, they followed her, and she led them into a Plantane Walk, where they found a great many Johanna Men and Women, sitting under the Shade of Plantanes, round the Corpse, which lay (as they all sate) on the Ground, covered with Flowers. She embraced them round, and then the Europeans, one by one, and after these Ceremonies, she poured out a Number of bitter Imprecations against the Mohila Men, whose Treachery had darken'd her Husband's Eyes, and made him insensible of her Caresses, who was her first Love, to whom she had given her Heart, with her Virginity. She then proceeded in his Praises, calling him the Joy of Infants, the Love of Virgins, the Delight of the old, and the Wonder of the young, adding, he was strong and beautiful as the Cedar, brave as the Bull, tender as the Kid, and loving as the Ground Turtle; having finished this Oration, not unlike those of the Romans, which the nearest Relation of the deceas'd used to pronounce from the Rostrum, she laid her down by the Side of her Husband, embracing him, and sitting up again, gave herself a deep Wound under the left Breast with a Bayonet, and fell dead on her Husband's Corpse.
The Europeans were astonished at the Tenderness and Resolution of the Girl, for she was not, by what her Mien spoke her, past seventeen; and they now admired, as much as they had secretly detested, her, for saying she was in haste to be married again, the Meaning of which they did not understand.
After the Husband and Wife were buried, the Crew return'd on Board, and gave an Account of what had pass'd; the Captains Wives (for Misson and his were on Board the Bijoux, the Name they had given their Prize from her Make and Gilding) seem'd not in the least surprized, and Caraccioli's Lady only said, she must be of noble Descent, for none but the Families of the Nobility had the Privilege allowed them of following their Husbands, on pain, if they transgressed, of being thrown into the Sea, to be eat by Fish; and they knew, that their Souls could not rest as long as any of the Fish, who fed upon them, lived. Misson asked, if they intended to have done the same Thing had they died? We should not, answer'd his Wife, have disgraced our Families; nor is our Tenderness for our Husbands inferior to hers whom you seem to admire.
After their Recovery, Misson proposed a Cruize, on the Coast of Zangueber, which being agreed to, he and Caraccioli took Leave of the Queen and her Brother, and would have left their Wives on the Island, but they could by no Means be induced to the Separation; it was in vain to urge the Shortness of the Time they were to Cruize; they answer'd it was farther than Mohila they intended to go, and if they were miserable in that short Absence, they could never support a longer; and if they would not allow them to keep them Company the Voyage, they must not expect to see them at their Return, if they intended one.
In a Word they were obliged to yield to them, but told them, if the Wives of their Men should insist as strongly on following their Example, their Tenderness, would be their Ruin, and make them a Prey to their Enemies; they answer'd the Queen should prevent that, by ordering no Woman should go on Board, and if any were in the Ships, they should return on Shore: This Order was accordingly made, and they set Sail for the River of Mozembique. In about ten Days Cruize after they had left Johanna, and about 15 Leagues to the Eastward of this River, they fell in with a stout Portuguese Ship of 60 Guns, which engaged them from Break of Day till Two in the Afternoon, when the Captain being killed, and a great Number of Men lost, she struck: This proved a very rich Prize, for she had the Value of 250000 l. Sterling on Board, in Gold-Dust. The two Women never quitted the Decks all the Time of the Engagement, neither gave they the least Mark of Fear, except for their Husbands: This Engagement cost them thirty Men, and Caraccioli lost his right Leg; the Slaughter fell mostly on the English, for of the above Number, twenty were of that Nation: The Portuguese lost double the Number. Caraccioli's Wound made them resolve to make the best of their Way for Johanna, where the greatest Care was taken of their wounded, not one of whom died, tho’ their Number amounted to Twenty seven.
Caraccioli kept his Bed two Months, but Misson seeing him in a fair way of Recovery, took what Hands could be spar'd from the Bijoux, leaving her sufficient for Defence, and went out, having mounted ten of the Portuguese Guns, for he had hitherto carried but thirty, though he had Ports for forty. He stretched over to Madagascar, and coasted along this Island to the Northward, as far as the most northerly Point, when turning back, he enter'd a Bay to the northward of Diego Suares. He run ten Leagues up this Bay, and on the larboard Side found it afforded a large, and safe, Harbour, with plenty of fresh Water. He came here to an
Anchor, went ashore and examined into the Nature of the Soil, which he found rich, the Air wholesome, and the Country level. He told his Men, that this was an excellent Place for an Asylum, and that he determined here to fortify and raise a small Town, and make Docks for Shipping, that they might have some Place to call their own; and a Receptacle, when Age or Wounds had render'd them incapable of Hardship, where they might enjoy the Fruits of their Labour, and go to their Graves in Peace. That he would not, however, set about this, till he had the Approbation of the whole Company; and were he sure they would all approve this Design, which he hoped, it being evidently for the general Good, he should not think it adviseable to begin any Works, lest the Natives should, in his Absence, destroy them; but however, as they had nothing upon their Hands, if they were of his Opinion, they might begin to fall and square Timber, ready for the raising a wooden Fort, when they return'd with their Companions.
The Captain's Motion was universally applauded, and in ten Days they fell'd and rough hew'd a hundred and fifty large Trees, without any Interruption from, or seeing any of, the Inhabitants. They fell'd their Timber at the Waters Edge, so that they had not the Trouble of hawling them any way, which would have employ'd a great deal more Time: They returned again, and acquainted their Companions with what they had seen and done, and with the Captain's Resolution, which they one and all came into.
Captain Misson then told the Queen, as he had been serviceable to her in her War with the Island of Mohila, and might continue to be of farther Use, he did not question her lending him Assistance in the settling himself on the Coast of Madagascar, and to that end, furnish him with 300 Men, to help in his Buildings; the Queen answered, she could do nothing without Consent of Council, and that she would assemble her Nobility, and did not question their agreeing to any Thing he could reasonably desire, for they were sensible of the Obligations the Johanians had to him. The Council was accordingly called, and Misson's Demand being told, one of the eldest said, he did not think it expedient to comply with it, nor safe to refuse; that they should in agreeing to give him that Assistance, help to raise a Power, which might prove formidable to themselves, by the being so near a Neighbour; and these Men who had lately protected, might, when they found it for their Interest, enslave them. On the other hand, if they did not comply, they had the Power to do them great Damage. That they were to make choice of the least of two possible Evils, for he could prognosticate no Good to Johanna, by their settling near it. Another answered, that many of them had Johanna Wives, that it was not likely they would make Enemies of the Johanna Men at first settling, because their Friendship might be of Use to them; and from their Children there was nothing to be apprehended in the next Generation, for they would be half their own Blood; that in the mean while, if they comply'd with the Request, they might be sure of an Ally, and Protector, against the King of Mohila; wherefore, he was for agreeing to the Demand.
After a long Debate, in which every Inconvenience, and Advantage, was maturely considered, it was agreed to send with him the Number of Men he required, on Condition he should send them back in four Moons, make an Alliance with them, and War against Mohila; this being agreed to, they staid till Caraccioli was thoroughly recovered, then putting the Johannians on board the Portuguese Ship with 40 French and English and 15 Portuguese to work her, and setting Sail, they arrived at the Place where Misson designed his Settlement, which he called Libertalia, and gave the Name of Liberi to his People, desiring in that might be drown'd the distinguish'd Names of French, English, Dutch, Africans, &c.
The first Thing they sat about was, the raising a Fort on each Side the Harbour, which they made of an octogon Figure, and having finished and mounted them with 40 Guns taken out of the Portuguese, they raised a Battery on an Angle of ten Guns, and began to raise Houses and Magazines under the Protection of their Forts and Ships; the Portuguese was unrigg'd, and all her Sails and Cordage carefully laid up. While they were very busily employed in the raising a Town, a Party which had often hunted and rambled four or five Leagues off their Settlement, resolved to venture farther into the Country. They made themselves some Huts, at about 4 Leagues distance from their Companions, and travell'd East South East, about 5 Leagues farther into the Country, when they came up with a Black, who was arm'd with a Bow, Arrows, and a Javelin; they with a friendly Appearance engaged the Fellow to lay by his Fear and go with them. They carried him to their Companions, and there entertained him three Days with a great Deal of Humanity, and then returned with him near the Place they found him, made him a Present of a Piece of scarlet Baze, and an Ax; he appeared overjoy'd at the Present, and left them with seeming Satisfaction.
The Hunters imagined that there might be some Village not far off, and observing that he look'd at the Sun, and then took his Way direct South, they travell'd on the same Point of the Compass, and from the Top of a Hill they spied a pretty large Village, and went down to it; the Men came out with their Arms, such as before described, Bows, Arrows, and Javelins, but upon two only of the Whites advancing, with Presents of Axes, and Baze in their Hands, they sent only four to meet them. The Misfortune was, that they could not understand one another, but by their pointing to the Sun, and holding up one Finger, and making one of them go forward, and return again with shewing their Circumcision, and pointing up to Heaven with one Finger, they apprehended, they gave them to understand, there was but one God, who had sent one Prophet, and concluded from thence, and their Circumcision they were Mahometans; the Presents were carried to their Chief, and he seem'd to receive them kindly, and by Signs invited the Whites into their Village; but they, remembring the late Treachery of the Mohilians, made Signs for Victuals to be brought them where they were.
More of the History of these Adventurers in another Place.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53