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Some years previous to this, the Dutch had despatched a strong fleet, consisting of eleven ships of war, under the command of Jacques l'Hermite, to attack the Spanish possessions in the South Sea. This armament, the most formidable and best furnished which had yet entered the great ocean, met with no success. It failed in all its attempts on the Spanish towns, which, a few years afterwards, yielded all their treasures to a handful of buccaneers. Neither did geography benefit any thing from this expedition, which, compared with that of Le Maire, forcibly exhibits the great superiority in skill and conduct which usually distinguishes private from public enterprises.
EXPEDITIONS OF THE BUCCANEERS IN THE SOUTH SEAS.
RISE OF THE BUCCANEERS. — OPPRESSIVE GOVERNMENT OF THE
SPANIARDS. — THE CRUISERS SUPPLY THEMSELVES WITH THE CATTLE OF CUBA. - CARIB MODE OF PREPARING THE FLESH, -THE NAME OF THE BUCCANEERS. THEIR CUSTOMS. — SETTLEMENT OF ST. CHRISTOPHER's. - THE BUCCANEERS SEIZE TORTUGA.-ELECT A CHIEF.-EXPLOITS OF HENRY MORGAN. -HE TAKES PORTO BELLO. - MARCHES TO PANAMA. THE BUCCANEERS EMBARK ON THE SOUTH SEA. THEIR ADVENTURES.-LOSE A RICH PRIZE THROUGH IGNORANCE.-LEAVE WILLIAM THE INDIAN ON JUAN FERNANDEZ.-THEY RETURN ROUND CAPE HORN. -THE BUCCANEERS UNDER DAVIS. DAMPIER RETURNS HOME IN THE CYGNET. -THE FLYING PROAS, RECEPTION OF THE BUCCANEERS AT MINDANAO. — THE FIVE ISLANDS, THE NATIVES OF NEW HOLLAND DESCRIBED. - WRECK OF THE CYGNET, DAMPIER SENT ON DISCOVERY.- COASTS NEW HOLLAND. ROSEMARY ISLAND. -PROCEEDS TO NEW GUINEA, DISCOVERS A STRAIT, NEW BRITANNIA. - HOMEWARD VOYAGE. THE ROEBUCK WRECKED AT ASCENSION ISLAND. - RETURN OF DAMPIER.
WHILE the Spanish settlements in the Pacific Ocean were threatened by great armaments fitted out by rival
nations, they were at the same time attacked by a singular and more formidable hostility, which originated in the defects of a severe and contracted policy. The association and the enterprises of the buccaneers, if they did not in the first instance benefit geography, tended at least to familiarise European seamen with the navigation of the Pacific Ocean, and gave an air of facility to undertakings which had before been regarded as difficult in the extreme.
The despotic administration of the Spanish colonies in the West Indies incurred the very evils which it sought to avoid. Even the Spaniards themselves felt oppressed by the numerous restrictions which were placed on trade; and gave stealthy encouragement to foreign interlopers, who supplied them at an easier rate with articles which could not be legally procured without paying enormous exactions. English traders soon made their appearance in these seas; and, as the Spanish authorities on the one hand treated them as enemies, or even as pirates, while on the other they were invited by the profits of a contraband trade, they soon learned to adopt the precaution of going well armed.
The cruelties of the Spaniards to the native inhabita ants of Cuba terminated in the depopulation of that fine island. The cattle at the same time multiplied in great numbers, and roved over the deserted tracts of its western districts. This, in consequence, became the victualling place of all the foreign vessels that cruised upon the Spaniards or disturbed their trade. The preparation of the meat became a regular business. Spanish hunters called matadores, or slaughterers, killed the cattle; the flesh was then dried and prepared according to the Carib method, on hurdles raised a few feet above the fire. This mode of dressing their food was called by the Indians boocan,-a name which they also applied to the apparatus used in the process, and to the meat itself: hence the persons who were employed in procuring provisions for the cruisers, adopting the language with the habits of the natives, called themselves buca caneers. A large majority of the adventurers in those seas were Englishmen; and as their smuggling trade quickly degenerated into actual piracy, they took the honourable designation of freebooters. There was a natural alliance between the freebooters and buccaneers ; they mutually depended on one another ; the avocations of the one party being at sea, those of the other on land. It is probable that in many instances the pirate cured his own provisions, and so united both professions in his own person. But in general the hunters were distinct from the seamen ; and, in process of time, a majority of the hunters or buccaneers were French, while the rovers were chiefly English: yet the adventurers of these two nations whimsically thought fit to borrow the name of their profession from the language of the other, as if the respectability of their calling could be enhanced, or its criminality palliated, by a foreign name ; and the English called themselves buccaneers, while the French preferred the title of freebooters, or corruptedly, flibustiers. All these adventurers, of whatever nation, cruised upon the Spaniards, who were the sole objects of attack. A sense of common interest bound them together, and formed them into a society which styled itself The brethren of the coast. The buccaneers had peculiar customs, which obtained among them, from necessity or tradition, the authority of law. Their code of morality was such as might be expected among men who, while they renounced a friendly intercourse with the rest of mankind, depended upon each other's fidelity. Every buccaneer had a mate, who was the heir to all his money. In some instances, a community of property existed amongst them. Negligence of dress, and even dirtiness, was prescribed by their fashions, as best befitting a desperado. But when, in case of war between their nation and the Spaniards, they could obtain commissions, they were always ready to take the name of privateers.
The increase of the buccaneers in the Spanish West Indies was regarded with satisfaction by other European states ; for they reasoned, with the laxity of political morality, that they might profit from illegal proceedings, which at the same time they were not called upon to avow. At length the trade carried on by these adventurers grew so important as to attract the attention of France and England, which accordingly combined to plant on the same day confederated colonies of each nation on the island of St. Christopher. Discord soon broke out between the French and English settlers ; and, as the latter received no succours from home during the agitations of the civil war, the French grew predominant in the colony, and the English were obliged to betake themselves to sea. Various settlements were now made by adventurers throughout the West Indian islands, those of the same nation generally associating together; and, as they grew into importance, they were claimed by that crown of which a majority of the colonists were subjects.
The settlement of St. Christopher's owed its origin to the successes of the buccaneers. These were regarded by the colonists as friends and powerful allies; for both united in their enmity to the Spaniards. The buccaneere were pleased to find themselves countenanced or connived at by legal governments, and colonies offered a prospect of an increased market for their trade. Becoming more confident in their strength, they seized on the little island of Tortuga, situated a few leagues from the eastern extremity of Cuba, in a convenient position for trade, and for procuring cattle. This was the first step of the buccaneers towards forming themselves into an independent society ; but the impolitic severity of the Spaniards soon after forced them to take one of still greater importance. A party of Spanish troops surprised Tortuga, while most of the buccaneers were hunting on the main land, or cruising in their vessels; and those surprised on the island were hanged as pirates without mercy or distinction. From this severe blow the buccaneers learned the necessity of observing some regularity in their proceedings; and, for the first time, they elected a commander. National animosity and the love of gain have more influence on mankind than terror; and the ranks of the buccaneers, after their loss at Tortuga, were speedily recruited. In 1654, a large party of them ascended a river of the Mosquito shore in canoes; and after struggling nearly a month against a rapid stream and waterfalls, they marched across the country to New Segovia, which they plundered, and safely returned down the river. As they acknowledged no claims to rank but conduct and courage, their leaders were all remarkable for personal prowess and daring exploits; but they never felt the compunctions of humanity, and ferocious cruelties stained the glory of their successes.
Among the most distinguished and fortunate of these terrible leaders ranks a Welshman, named Henry Morgan, under whose government the affairs of the buccaneers attained their most flourishing condition. In 1664, he began to be regarded as their chief. His first exploit was of the boldest character. With a body of 700 men, who placed themselves under his command, he took and plundered the town of Puerto del Principe in Cuba, the centre of the Spanish forces. His next undertaking was against Porto Bello, one of the principal and best fortified ports belonging to the Spaniards in the West Indies. He had only 460 men under his command; but his advance was so rapid, that he came on the town by surprise, and found it unprepared. In storming a castle which held out, he compelled his prisoners, chiefly religious of both sexes, to apply the scaling-ladders to the walls. When the garrison surrendered, he shut them up in the castle, and then, setting fire to the magazine, destroyed the fort and its defenders together. He afterwards sacked Maracaibo, and the neighbouring town of Gibraltar; and, emboldened by his success, he consulted with his officers which of the three places, Carthagena, Vera Cruz, and Panama, he should next attack. Panama was believed to be the richest, and on that city the lot fell. Morgan had at this time under his command no less than thirty-seven armed vessels, and above two thousand men.