The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Capt. Bellamy.

AS we cannot, with any Certainty, deduce this Man from his Origin, we shall begin where we find him first a declared Enemy to Mankind. Capt. Bellamy and Paul Williams, in two Sloops, had been upon a Spanish Wreck, and not finding their Expectation answered, as has been mentioned in former Parts of this History, they resolved not to lose their Labour, and agreed to go upon the Account, a Term among the pyrates, which speaks their Profession. The first, who had the Misfortune to fall in their Way, was Captain Prince, bound from Jamaica to London, in a Galley built at that Port, whose Cargo consisted of Elephants Teeth, Gold Dust, and other rich Merchandize. This Prize not only enrich'd, but strengthened them; they immediately mounted this Galley with 28 Guns, and put aboard 150 Hands of different Nations; Bellamy was declared Captain, and the Vessel had her old Name continued, which was Whidaw: This happen'd about the latter End of February, 1717. They, now thus fitted for the continuing of their desperate Resolution, shaped their Course for Virginia, which Coast they very much infested, taking several Vessels: They were upon shifting this Station, when they were very near, as the Psalmist expresses it, going quick down into Hell, for the Heaven's beginning to lowre, prognosticated a Storm; at the first Appearance of the Sky being likely to be overcast, Bellamy took in all his small Sails, and Williams double reefed his main Sail, which was hardly done when a Thunder Shower overtook them with such Violence, that the Whidaw was very near over-setting; they immediately put before the Wind, for they had no other Way of working, having only the Goose Wings of the Fore-Sail to scud with; happy for them the Wind was at West and by North, for had it been Easterly, they must have infallibly perish'd upon the Coast. The Storm encreased towards Night, and not only put them by all Sail, but obliged the Whidaw to bring her Yards aportland, and all they could do with Tackles to the Goose Neck of the Tiller, four Men in the Gun Room, and two at the Wheel, was to keep her Head to the Sea, for had she once broach'd to, they must infallibly have founder'd. The Heavens, in the mean while, were cover'd with Sheets of Lightning, which the Sea by the Agitation of the saline Particles seem'd to imitate; the Darkness of the Night was such, as the Scripture says, as might be felt; the terrible hollow roaring of the Winds, cou'd be only equalled by the repeated, I may say, incessant Claps of Thunder, sufficient to strike a Dread of the supream Being, who commands the Sea and the Winds, one would imagine in every Heart; but among these Wretches, the Effect was different, for they endeavoured by their Blasphemies, Oaths, and horrid Imprecations, to drown the Uproar of jarring Elements. Bellamy swore he was sorry he could not run out his Guns to return the Salute, meaning the Thunder, that he fancied the Gods had got drunk over their Tipple, and were gone together by the Ears:

They continued scudding all that Night under their bare Poles, the next Morning the Main-Mast being sprung in the Step, they were forced to cut it away, and, at the same time, the Mizzen came by the Board. These Misfortunes made the Ship ring with Blasphemy, which was encreased, when, by trying the Pumps, they found the Ship made a great Deal of Water; tho’ by continually plying them, it kept it from gaining upon them: The Sloop as well as the Ship, was left to the Mercy of the Winds, tho’ the former, not having a Tant-Mast, did not lose it. The Wind shifting round the Compass, made so outrageous and short a Sea, that they had little Hopes of Safety; it broke upon the Poop, drove in the Taveril, and wash'd the two Men away from the Wheel, who were saved in the Netting. The Wind after four Days and three Nights abated of its Fury, and fixed in the North, North East Point, hourly decreasing, and the Weather clearing up, so that they spoke to the Sloop, and resolv'd for the Coast of Carolina; they continued this Course but a Day and a Night, when the Wind coming about to the Southward, they changed their Resolution to that of going to Rhode Island. All this while the Whidaw's Leak continued, and it was as much as the Lee-Pump could do to keep the Water from gaining, tho’ it was kept continually going. Jury-Masts were set up, and the Carpenter finding the Leak to be in the Bows, occasioned by the Oakam spewing out of a Seam, the Crew became very jovial again; the Sloop received no other Damage than the Loss of the Main-Sail, which the first Flurry tore away from the Boom. In their Cruise off Rhode Island, the Beginning of April, they took a Sloop commanded by Capt. Beer, belonging to Boston, in the Lat. of South Carolina, 40 Leagues from Land; they put the said Captain on Board the Whidaw Commodore, while they rifled and plundered his Vessel, which Williams and Bellamy proposed returning to him, but the Crews being averse to it, they sunk her, and put the Captain ashore upon Block Island.

I can't pass by in Silence, Capt. Bellamy's Speech to Capt. Beer. D— n my Bl — d, says he, I am sorry they won't let you have your Sloop again, for I scorn to do any one a Mischief, when it is not for my Advantage; damn the Sloop, we must sink her, and she might be of Use to you. Tho’, damn ye, you are a sneaking Puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by Laws which rich Men have made for their own Security, for the cowardly Whelps have not the Courage otherwise to defend what they get by their Knavery; but damn ye altogether: Damn them for a Pack of crafty Rascals, and you, who serve them, for a Parcel of hen-hearted Numskuls. They villify us, the Scoundrels do, when there is only this Difference, they rob the Poor under the Cover of Law, forsooth, and we plunder the Rich under the Protection of our own Courage; had you not better make One of us, than sneak after the A— s of these Villains for Employment? Capt. Beer told him, that his Conscience would not allow him to break thro’ the Laws of God and Man. You are a devilish Conscience Rascal, d — n ye, replied Bellamy, I am a free Prince, and I have as much Authority to make War on the whole World, as he who has a hundred Sail of Ships at Sea, and an Army of 100,000 Men in the Field; and this my Conscience tells me; but there is no arguing with such sniveling Puppies, who allow Superiors to kick them about Deck at Pleasure; and pin their Faith upon a Pimp of a Parson; a Squab, who neither practices nor believes what he puts upon the chuckle-headed Fools he preaches to. — The pyrates wanting neither Provision nor Water, and the Whidaw's Damage being repaired, they past their Time very jovially. One of the Crew had been a Stroler, a Fellow who had pass'd thro’ a great many real as well as fictitious Scenes of Life, the stroling Business not answering the Greatness of his Soul (as he expressed it) he thought it more profitable, and less fatiguing, to turn Collector. Accordingly in Yorkshire he borrowed an excellent Gelding, (I make Use of his own Terms) with a hunting Saddle and Bridle, and with a Case of Pocket Pistols, which he before had, he set out to seek Adventures, without taking Leave of his Company; he met, he said, with several Knights Errant, whom as they declined the Combat, he spoiled and sent to offer themselves at the Feet of his Dulcinea, but being under the Influence of some malicious Enchanter, who envied his glorious Fears of Arms, and fear'd they would eclipse by the Brightness of their Lustre, those of some favourite Knight whom he protected; or otherwise, knowing by his Skill, that he should one Day succumb under the Weight of his irresistable Arm, by his magical Power, threw him into a loathsome Dungeon loaded with Irons, whence the wise Man, who had Care of his Affairs, and was destined to write the History of his heroick Deeds delivered, and putting him on board a Ship, transported him to the famous Island of Jamaica; and after various Turns of Fortune, link'd him in Society with these Marine Heroes, the Scourge of Tyrants and Avarice, and the brave Asserters of Liberty.

This whimsical Fellow made a Play whilst he was on Board, which he called the Royal Pyrate; and this (which to see once would make a a Cynick laugh) was acted on the Quarter-Deck with great Applause, both of the Actors and Poet; but an Accident which turn'd the Farce into Tragedy, occasioned an Order of Council to forbid its being play'd a second Time. The Case was thus; Alexander the Great, environ'd by his Guards, was examining a Pyrate who was brought before him: The Gunner, who was drunk, took this to be in earnest, and that his Mess-Mate was in Danger, and hearing Alexander say,

Know'st thou that Death attends thy mighty Crimes, And thou shall'st hang to Morrow Morn betimes.

Swore by G— d he'd try that, and running into the Gun Room where he left three Companions over a Bowl of Rum Punch as drunk as himself, told them, they were going to hang honest Jack Spinckes; and if they suffered it, they should be all hang'd one after another, but by G— d, they should not hang him, for he'd clear the Decks; and taking a Grenade with a lighted Match, followed by his Comrades with their Cutlash, he set Fire to the Fuze and threw it among the Actors. The Audience was on the Gang Ways and Poop, and falling in with their Cutlash, poor Alexander had his left Arm cut off, and Jack Spinckes his Leg broke with the bursting of the Shell: The Ship was immediately in an Uproar, and the Aggressors seiz'd, who else would have made Havock with the Guards, or have been cut to Pieces by them, for they had all Cutlashes. Alexander the Great revenged the Loss of his Arm by the Death of him who deprived him of his Limb. The Gunner and two surviving Comrades were that Night clapp'd into Irons, and the next Day at a Court-Marshal, not only acquitted but applauded for their Zeal. Alexander and his Enemies were reconciled, and the Play forbad any more to be acted.

A Fortnight after the setting Capt. Beer ashore, Williams boarded and took a Vessel off Cape Cod, laden with Wine; the Crew of which encreased the Number of their Prisoners: They put seven Men on Board the Prize, with Orders to keep Company with the Ship and Sloop, commanded by

Bellamy and Williams, and left aboard her the Master.

As the Ship and Sloop had been long off the Carreen, they stretch'd away to the Northward, and made the best of their Way to Penobscott River, which lies between Nova Scotia and the Province of Main, where they designed to heave down. This Tract of Land is along the Coast about 190 Miles from West to East, reckoning from the Province of Main to St. Croix; and about 200 Miles over from North to South, counting from the River Quebeck to the Sea. King Charles the Second made a Grant of it in 1663, to his Royal Highness James Duke of York, who made a Settlement at Pemaquid; it abounds in all Sorts of Timber, and would bear excellent Hemp and Flax, and all Sorts of Naval Stores; is rich in Copper, Lead, and Iron Ore; and the Seas are stock'd with Whales, Cod, Sturgeon, Herrings, Mackrel, Salmon, Oysters, Cockles, &c. the Soil produces all Sort of European Grain and Fruits; and the Woods shelter a great Number of Deer, as Elks, Red and Fallow Deer, &c. and this Country, if settled, would certainly be of great Advantage to England. I hope the Reader will pardon this small Digression which the Interest I take in every Thing, which may tend to the enriching or extending the Dominions of our glorious Britain, my dearly loved Country, forced me into: But to return, when they were at the Mouth of this River, it was thought more eligible to careen in the River Mechisses; they entered it as agreed, and run up about two Miles and a half, when they came to an Anchor, with their Prizes. The next Morning all the Prisoners were set ashore with Drivers, and Orders to assist in the building Huts; the Guns were also set ashore, and a Breast Work raised, with Embrazures, for the Canon on each Side the River, this took up four Days: A Magazine was dug deep in the Earth, and a Roof rais'd over it by the poor Slaves the Prisoners, whom they treated after the same Manner as the Negroes are used by the West-India Planters. The Powder being secured, and every Thing out, they hove down the Sloop, cleaned her, and when she had all in again, they careened the Whidaw, by the largest Prize. Here the Stroler told the two Commanders, that they might lay the Foundation of a new Kingdom, which, in time, might subject the World, and extend its Conquests beyond those of the Roman Empire. I am, it is true, said he, by Birth, the Son of a Miller, but I have Ambition, Avarice, and Learning enough, to be a Secretary of State, for I was a Servitor at Oxford before I turn'd Stroler; and if you think fit to erect this Tract of Land into an Empire, and your joint Imperial Majesties will employ my Abilities, don't question but I will prove a true Patriot; that is, by the Figure I will make, I will be a Credit to your Court, and by the squeezing your Subjects (whom under the specious Pretence of Liberty, I will keep in abject Slavery) drain such Sums as shall ever keep them poor, and your and my Treasury full. Rome, the Mistress of the World, was founded by a couple of Sheep-Stealers, and peopled by run-away Slaves and insolvent Debtors; how much more advantageously might you two undertake the erecting of a new Monarchy, whose Subjects are no Strangers to the Art of War, who are not environ'd as they were with invidious Neighbours, and who may encrease your Power, and propagate the Species, by taking into your Protection the Indians of these Parts, and the discontented and desperate People of the neighbouring English and French Colonies? To strengthen your selves, raise every useful Man to some Dignity in the State, and share the Prisoners (I mean such as won't swear Allegiance) as so many Slaves unworthy of Liberty among your great Men; build more Vessels, keep them constantly on the Cruize, and force all the Prisoners either by fair or

foul to acknowledge your Sovereignty; it was thus the greatest Empires of the World were founded; superior Force was always acknowledged a just Title; and the Ancients ever esteem'd the Prisoners they made, whose Lives were in their Power by the Law of Arms, lawful Slaves; and the employing their Lives in the Service of the Conqueror, but a grateful Retribution for preserving of them. I leave it to the mature Deliberation of your great Wisdom, whether it is not more eligible to found here an Empire, and make War by a lawful Authority derived from your Royal selves, than lie under the opprobrious Appellations of Robbers, Thieves, profligate Rogues and pyrates; for begging Pardon of your Majesties, for that Freedom of Speech, which my Zeal for your Royal Service, and the publick Good oblige me to; the World treats you and your loyal Subjects with no softer Terms. But, when you have once declared your selves lawful Monarchs, and that you have Strength enough to defend your Title, all the Universities in the World will declare you have a Right Jure Divino; and the Kings and Princes of the Earth, will send their Ambassadors to court your Alliance.

Bellamy and Williams told him, They would consider on his Proposal, and they would let him know what they should in their great Wisdom conclude upon. In the mean while, they thank'd him for his Advice, promis'd when they began to found their Monarchy, (should they find it expedient,) to make him Prime Minister, or Quarter-Master ashore; and when he had enriched himself and Family, by the fleecing their Subjects, they assured him they would pass an Act of Indemnity for his Security; and concluded with ordering a Bowl of Punch for every Mess.

The Whidaw being clean'd, they thought of cruizing again, and accordingly steer'd for Fortunes Bay in New foundland; they made some Prizes on the Banks, forced all the Men, and sunk the Vessels.

They had not been long on this Coast before they were separated by a Storm, which held some Days. Off the Island of St. Paul the Whidaw spied a Sail, which she immediately gave Chase to; the Ship brought to and lay by for her, she prov'd a French Man of 36 Guns, carrying Soldiers to Quebeck. The Whidaw engag'd with great Resolution, and the French did not shew less, for he boarded the Whidaw, and was twice put off, with the Loss of Men on both Sides. Bellamy after two Hours Engagement thought the Frenchman too hard a Match, and was for shaking him off; but his Enemy was not as willing to part with him, for he gave Chase, and as he sail'd altogether as well as Bellamy, the latter had certainly been taken and had received the due Punishment of his Crimes, had not the Night coming on favour'd his Escape: He lost in this Engagement 36 Hands, beside several wounded, the poor Minister of State, our before-mentioned Stroller, was in the Number of the slain.

The Widaw returned to the Coast of Newfoundland, and off Placentia Bay met with his Consort and the Prize.

They resolved to visit again the Coast of New England, the Whidaw being much shatter'd in the late Engagement, having receiv'd a great many Shot in her Hull; they ran down this Coast, and between St. George's Banks and Nantuket's Shoals, took the Mary Anne.

The Master of the Vessel, taken formerly off Cape Cod, was left on board her, and as he was very well acquainted with the Coast, they order'd him to carry the Light and go a-head; and the pyrates commonly kept him at Helm: He upon a Night of publick Rejoicing, seeing all the pyrates drunk, laid hold on the Opportunity, and run his Vessel ashore about Midnight, near the

Land of Eastham, out of which he alone escap'd with Life. The Whidaw steering after the Light, met with the same Fate; the small Vessel ran into a sandy Bay, and the Men got ashore without Difficulty.

When the Whidaw struck, the pyrates murder'd all their Prisoners, that is, all their forced Men; as it is concluded, from the mangled Carcasses which were wash'd ashore; but not a Soul escaped out of her or William's, who was also lost.

The pyrates, to the Number of seven who escaped, were seiz'd by the Inhabitants, and on the Information of the Master who escap'd, and on their own Confession, were imprison'd, condemn'd, and executed. They were all Foreigners, very ignorant and obstinate; but by the indefatigable Pains of a pious and learned Divine, who constantly attended them, they were, at length, by the special Grace of God, made sensible of, and truly penitent, for the enormous Crimes they had been guilty of. As the Trial of these pyrates, and their Behaviour while under Sentence, and at the Place of Execution, was printed at Boston, and is to be had in Town, I shall refer the curious Reader to that small Tract.

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