The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Major Bonnet.

I HAVE but few Words to add to Major Bonnet's Life and Actions; when his Dissolution drew nigh, all his Resolution fail'd him, and his Fears and Agonies so wrought upon him, that he was scarce sensible when he came to the Place of Execution. His piteous Behaviour under Sentence, very much affected the People of the Province, particularly the Women, and great Application was made to the Governor for saving his Life, but in vain; not that his Excellency Colonel Johnson pleased himself in Acts of severe Justice, but he knew his Duty too well to be misled by the Tears and Prayers of weak and inconsiderate People, when the publick Good, as well as his own Honour, stood in Question. Had not Bonnet escap'd out of his Keeper's Hand, after he was taken, and occasioned the Death of his Fellow-Prisoner Harriot, by resisting the Governor's Authority, and therein given a new Specimen of his disloyal Intentions, something might have been done in his Favour; but he was become too notorious, and too dangerous a Criminal, to give Life to. However, the Governor who conducted himself in his Post as well as in his private Capacity, with great Probity, Honour, and Candour, hearkened to a Proposal of Bonnet's Friends, which was to send him Prisoner to England, that his Case might be referr'd to his Majesty. Col. Rhet offer'd to go with him, and sufficient Security was to be given for yielding him up there, to be dealt with according to his Majesty's Pleasure; but the Major's Friends considered, at last, that it would be a great Expence and Trouble to no manner of purpose, except the lengthening out a wretched Life some small Time longer; for they conceived as little Hope of obtaining a Pardon in England as in South Carolina; so they even submitted to the Execution of that Sentence upon the Major, that had with so much Justice pass'd upon him. I shall subjoin here a Copy of a Letter, writ to the Governor from the Prisoner sometime before he died.

Honoured Sir,

‘I Have presumed, on the Confidence of your eminent Goodness, to throw my self, after this manner, at your Feet, to implore you'll graciously be pleased to look upon me with tender Bowels of Pity and Compassion; and believe me to be the most miserable Man this Day breathing: That the Tears proceeding from my most sorrowful Soul may soften your Heart, and incline you to consider my dismal State, wholly, I must confess, unprepared to receive so soon the dreadful Execution you have been pleas'd to appoint me; and therefore beseech you to think me an Object of your Mercy.

‘For God Sake, good Sir, let the Oaths of three Christian Men weigh something with you, who are ready to depose, when you please to allow them the Liberty, the Compulsions I lay under in committing those Acts, for which I am doom'd to die.

‘I intreat you not to let me fall a Sacrifice to the Envy and ungodly Rage of some few Men, who, not being yet satisfied with Blood, feign to believe, that if I had the Happiness of a longer Life in this World, I should still employ it in a wicked Manner; which, to remove that and all other Doubts with your Honour, I heartily beseech you'll permit me to live, and I'll voluntarily put it ever out of my Power, by separating all my Limbs from my Body, only reserving the Use of my Tongue, to call continually on, and pray to the Lord, my God, and mourn all my Days in Sack-cloth and Ashes to work out confident Hopes of my Salvation, at that great and dreadful Day, when all righteous Souls shall receive their just Rewards: And to render your Honour a further Assurance of being incapable to prejudice any of my Fellow-Christians, if I was so wickedly bent; I humbly beg you will (as a Punishment of my Sins for my poor Soul's Sake) indent me a menial Servant to your Honour and this Government, during my Life, and send me up to the farthest Inland Garrison or Settlement in the Country, or any otherways you'll be pleased to dispose of me; and likewise that you'll receive the Willingness of my Friends to be bound for my good Behaviour, and constant Attendance to your Commands.

‘I once more beg for the Lord's Sake, dear Sir, that as you are a Christian, you will be so charitable to have Mercy and Compassion on my miserable Soul, but too newly awaked from an Habit of Sin, to entertain so confident Hopes and Assurance of its being received into the Arms of my blessed Jesus, as is necessary to reconcile me to so speedy a Death; wherefore, as my Life, Blood, Reputation of my Family, and future happy State lies entirely at your Disposal; I implore you to consider me with a christian and charitable Heart, and determine mercifully of me, that I may ever acknowledge and esteem you next to God my Saviour; and oblige me ever to pray, that our heavenly Father will also forgive your Trespasses.

‘Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the Dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, thro’ the Blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good Work to do his Will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his Sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be Glory for ever and ever, is the hearty Prayer of

Your Honour's

Most miserable, and

Afflicted Servant,

STEDE Bonnet.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53