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[Illustration: "The pirates climbed up the sides of the man-of-war as if
they had been twenty-nine cats." - Frontispiece.]


Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers
New York
by arrangement with The Macmillan Company
Copyright, 1897-1898,
By the Century Co.
Copyright, 1898, 1926,
By the MacMillan Company.
All rights reserved - no part of this book
may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the publisher,
except by a reviewer who wishes to quote
brief passages in connection with a review
written for inclusion in magazine or
Set up and electrotyped July, 1898. Reprinted November,
1898; September, 1905; May, 1906; April, October, 1908;
October, 1910; March, 1913; September, 1914; January,
1915; October, 1917.
Printed in the United States of America


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what they want - that is the purpose and power of Scouting. To help
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[signed] James E. West

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Chapter Page

I. The Bold Buccaneers 1

II. Some Masters in Piracy 7

III. Pupils in Piracy 16

IV. Peter the Great 23

V. The Story of a Pearl Pirate 31

VI. The Surprising Adventures of Bartholemy Portuguez 39

VII. The Pirate who could not Swim 49

VIII. How Bartholemy rested Himself 59

IX. A Pirate Author 65

X. The Story of Roc, the Brazilian 72

XI. A Buccaneer Boom 89

XII. The Story of L'Olonnois the Cruel 94

XIII. A Resurrected Pirate 100

XIV. Villany on a Grand Scale 109

XV. A Just Reward 119

XVI. A Pirate Potentate 132

XVII. How Morgan was helped by Some Religious People 145

XVIII. A Piratical Aftermath 153

XIX. A Tight Place for Morgan 159

XX. The Story of a High-Minded Pirate 171

XXI. Exit Buccaneer; Enter Pirate 192

XXII. The Great Blackbeard comes upon the Stage 200

XXIII. A True-Hearted Sailor draws his Sword 210

XXIV. A Greenhorn under the Black Flag 217

XXV. Bonnet again to the Front 224

XXVI. The Battle of the Sand Bars 233

XXVII. A Six Weeks' Pirate 243

XXVIII. The Story of Two Women Pirates 253

XXIX. A Pirate from Boyhood 263

XXX. A Pirate of the Gulf 277

XXXI. The Pirate of the Buried Treasure 291

XXXII. The Real Captain Kidd 309

[Illustration: The Haunts of "The Brethren of the Coast"]

Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts

Chapter I

The Bold Buccaneers

When I was a boy I strongly desired to be a pirate, and the reason for
this was the absolute independence of that sort of life. Restrictions of
all sorts had become onerous to me, and in my reading of the adventures
of the bold sea-rovers of the main, I had unconsciously selected those
portions of a pirate's life which were attractive to me, and had totally
disregarded all the rest.

In fact, I had a great desire to become what might be called a marine
Robin Hood. I would take from the rich and give to the poor; I would run
my long, low, black craft by the side of the merchantman, and when I had
loaded my vessel with the rich stuffs and golden ingots which composed
her cargo, I would sail away to some poor village, and make its
inhabitants prosperous and happy for the rest of their lives by a
judicious distribution of my booty.

I would always be as free as a sea-bird. My men would be devoted to me,
and my word would be their law. I would decide for myself whether this
or that proceeding would be proper, generous, and worthy of my unlimited
power; when tired of sailing, I would retire to my island, - the position
of which, in a beautiful semi-tropic ocean, would be known only to
myself and to my crew, - and there I would pass happy days in the company
of my books, my works of art, and all the various treasures I had taken
from the mercenary vessels which I had overhauled.

Such was my notion of a pirate's life. I would kill nobody; the very
sight of my black flag would be sufficient to put an end to all thought
of resistance on the part of my victims, who would no more think of
fighting me, than a fat bishop would have thought of lifting his hand
against Robin Hood and his merry men; and I truly believe that I
expected my conscience to have a great deal more to do in the way of
approval of my actions, than it had found necessary in the course of my
ordinary school-boy life.

I mention these early impressions because I have a notion that a great
many people - and not only young people - have an idea of piracy not
altogether different from that of my boyhood. They know that pirates
are wicked men, that, in fact, they are sea-robbers or maritime
murderers, but their bold and adventurous method of life, their bravery,
daring, and the exciting character of their expeditions, give them
something of the same charm and interest which belong to the robber
knights of the middle ages. The one mounts his mailed steed and clanks
his long sword against his iron stirrup, riding forth into the world
with a feeling that he can do anything that pleases him, if he finds
himself strong enough. The other springs into his rakish craft, spreads
his sails to the wind, and dashes over the sparkling main with a feeling
that he can do anything he pleases, provided he be strong enough.

The first pirates who made themselves known in American waters were the
famous buccaneers; these began their career in a very commonplace and
unobjectionable manner, and the name by which they were known had
originally no piratical significance. It was derived from the French
word _boucanier_, signifying "a drier of beef."

Some of the West India islands, especially San Domingo, were almost
overrun with wild cattle of various kinds, and this was owing to the
fact that the Spaniards had killed off nearly all the natives, and so
had left the interior of the islands to the herds of cattle which had
increased rapidly. There were a few settlements on the seacoast, but
the Spaniards did not allow the inhabitants of these to trade with any
nation but their own, and consequently the people were badly supplied
with the necessaries of life.

But the trading vessels which sailed from Europe to that part of the
Caribbean Sea were manned by bold and daring sailors, and when they knew
that San Domingo contained an abundance of beef cattle, they did not
hesitate to stop at the little seaports to replenish their stores. The
natives of the island were skilled in the art of preparing beef by
smoking and drying it, - very much in the same way in which our Indians
prepare "jerked meat" for winter use.

But so many vessels came to San Domingo for beef that there were not
enough people on the island to do all the hunting and drying that was
necessary, so these trading vessels frequently anchored in some quiet
cove, and the crews went on shore and devoted themselves to securing a
cargo of beef, - not only enough for their own use, but for trading
purposes; thus they became known as "beef-driers," or buccaneers.

When the Spaniards heard of this new industry which had arisen within
the limits of their possessions, they pursued the vessels of the
buccaneers wherever they were seen, and relentlessly destroyed them and
their crews. But there were not enough Spanish vessels to put down the
trade in dried beef; more European vessels - generally English and
French - stopped at San Domingo; more bands of hunting sailors made their
way into the interior. When these daring fellows knew that the Spaniards
were determined to break up their trade, they became more determined
that it should not be broken up, and they armed themselves and their
vessels so that they might be able to make a defence against the Spanish

Thus gradually and almost imperceptibly a state of maritime warfare grew
up in the waters of the West Indies between Spain and the beef-traders
of other nations; and from being obliged to fight, the buccaneers became
glad to fight, provided that it was Spain they fought. True to her
policy of despotism and cruelty when dealing with her American
possessions, Spain waged a bitter and bloody war against the buccaneers
who dared to interfere with the commercial relations between herself and
her West India colonies, and in return, the buccaneers were just as
bitter and savage in their warfare against Spain. From defending
themselves against Spanish attacks, they began to attack Spaniards
whenever there was any chance of success, at first only upon the sea,
but afterwards on land. The cruelty and ferocity of Spanish rule had
brought them into existence, and it was against Spain and her
possessions that the cruelty and ferocity which she had taught them were
now directed.

When the buccaneers had begun to understand each other and to effect
organizations among themselves, they adopted a general name, - "The
Brethren of the Coast." The outside world, especially the Spanish world,
called them pirates, sea-robbers, buccaneers, - any title which would
express their lawless character, but in their own denomination of
themselves they expressed only their fraternal relations; and for the
greater part of their career, they truly stood by each other like

Chapter II

Some Masters in Piracy

From the very earliest days of history there have been pirates, and it
is, therefore, not at all remarkable that, in the early days of the
history of this continent, sea-robbers should have made themselves
prominent; but the buccaneers of America differed in many ways from
those pirates with whom the history of the old world has made us

It was very seldom that an armed vessel set out from an European port
for the express purpose of sea-robbery in American waters. At first
nearly all the noted buccaneers were traders. But the circumstances
which surrounded them in the new world made of them pirates whose evil
deeds have never been surpassed in any part of the globe.

These unusual circumstances and amazing temptations do not furnish an
excuse for the exceptionally wicked careers of the early American
pirates; but we are bound to remember these causes or we could not
understand the records of the settlement of the West Indies. The
buccaneers were fierce and reckless fellows who pursued their daring
occupation because it was profitable, because they had learned to like
it, and because it enabled them to wreak a certain amount of vengeance
upon the common enemy. But we must not assume that they inaugurated the
piratical conquests and warfare which existed so long upon our eastern

Before the buccaneers began their careers, there had been great masters
of piracy who had opened their schools in the Caribbean Sea; and in
order that the condition of affairs in this country during parts of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be clearly understood, we will
consider some of the very earliest noted pirates of the West Indies.

When we begin a judicial inquiry into the condition of our
fellow-beings, we should try to be as courteous as we can, but we must
be just; consequently a man's fame and position must not turn us aside,
when we are acting as historical investigators.

Therefore, we shall be bold and speak the truth, and although we shall
take off our hats and bow very respectfully, we must still assert that
Christopher Columbus was the first who practised piracy in American

When he sailed with his three little ships to discover unknown lands, he
was an accredited explorer for the court of Spain, and was bravely
sailing forth with an honest purpose, and with the same regard for law
and justice as is possessed by any explorer of the present day. But when
he discovered some unknown lands, rich in treasure and outside of all
legal restrictions, the views and ideas of the great discoverer
gradually changed. Being now beyond the boundaries of civilization, he
also placed himself beyond the boundaries of civilized law. Robbery,
murder, and the destruction of property, by the commanders of naval
expeditions, who have no warrant or commission for their conduct, is the
same as piracy, and when Columbus ceased to be a legalized explorer, and
when, against the expressed wishes, and even the prohibitions, of the
royal personages who had sent him out on this expedition, he began to
devastate the countries he had discovered, and to enslave and
exterminate their peaceable natives, then he became a master in piracy,
from whom the buccaneers afterward learned many a valuable lesson.

It is not necessary for us to enter very deeply into the consideration
of the policy of Columbus toward the people of the islands of the West
Indies. His second voyage was nothing more than an expedition for the
sake of plunder. He had discovered gold and other riches in the West
Indies and he had found that the people who inhabited the islands were
simple-hearted, inoffensive creatures, who did not know how to fight and
who did not want to fight. Therefore, it was so easy to sail his ships
into the harbors of defenceless islands, to subjugate the natives, and
to take away the products of their mines and soil, that he commenced a
veritable course of piracy.

The acquisition of gold and all sorts of plunder seemed to be the sole
object of this Spanish expedition; natives were enslaved, and subjected
to the greatest hardships, so that they died in great numbers. At one
time three hundred of them were sent as slaves to Spain. A pack of
bloodhounds, which Columbus had brought with him for the purpose, was
used to hunt down the poor Indians when they endeavored to escape from
the hands of the oppressors, and in every way the island of Hayti, the
principal scene of the actions of Columbus, was treated as if its
inhabitants had committed a dreadful crime by being in possession of the
wealth which the Spaniards desired for themselves.

Queen Isabella was greatly opposed to these cruel and unjust
proceedings. She sent back to their native land the slaves which
Columbus had shipped to Spain, and she gave positive orders that no more
of the inhabitants were to be enslaved, and that they were all to be
treated with moderation and kindness. But the Atlantic is a wide ocean,
and Columbus, far away from his royal patron, paid little attention to
her wishes and commands; without going further into the history of this
period, we will simply mention the fact that it was on account of his
alleged atrocities that Columbus was superseded in his command, and sent
back in chains to Spain.

There was another noted personage of the sixteenth century who played
the part of pirate in the new world, and thereby set a most shining
example to the buccaneers of those regions. This was no other than Sir
Francis Drake, one of England's greatest naval commanders.

It is probable that Drake, when he started out in life, was a man of
very law-abiding and orderly disposition, for he was appointed by Queen
Elizabeth a naval chaplain, and, it is said, though there is some doubt
about this, that he was subsequently vicar of a parish. But by nature he
was a sailor, and nothing else, and after having made several voyages in
which he showed himself a good fighter, as well as a good commander, he
undertook, in 1572, an expedition against the Spanish settlements in the
West Indies, for which he had no legal warrant whatever.

Spain was not at war with England, and when Drake sailed with four small
ships into the port of the little town of Nombre de Dios in the middle
of the night, the inhabitants of the town were as much astonished as the
people of Perth Amboy would be if four armed vessels were to steam into
Raritan Bay, and endeavor to take possession of the town. The peaceful
Spanish townspeople were not at war with any civilized nation, and they
could not understand why bands of armed men should invade their streets,
enter the market-place, fire their calivers, or muskets, into the air,
and then sound a trumpet loud enough to wake up everybody in the place.
Just outside of the town the invaders had left a portion of their men,
and when these heard the trumpet in the market-place, they also fired
their guns; all this noise and hubbub so frightened the good people of
the town, that many of them jumped from their beds, and without stopping
to dress, fled away to the mountains. But all the citizens were not such
cowards, and fourteen or fifteen of them armed themselves and went out
to defend their town from the unknown invaders.

Beginners in any trade or profession, whether it be the playing of the
piano, the painting of pictures, or the pursuit of piracy, are often
timid and distrustful of themselves; so it happened on this occasion
with Francis Drake and his men, who were merely amateur pirates, and
showed very plainly that they did not yet understand their business.

When the fifteen Spanish citizens came into the market-place and found
there the little body of armed Englishmen, they immediately fired upon
them, not knowing or caring who they were. This brave resistance seems
to have frightened Drake and his men almost as much as their trumpets
and guns had frightened the citizens, and the English immediately
retreated from the town. When they reached the place where they had left
the rest of their party, they found that these had already run away, and
taken to the boats. Consequently Drake and his brave men were obliged to
take off some of their clothes and to wade out to the little ships. The
Englishmen secured no booty whatever, and killed only one Spaniard, who
was a man who had been looking out of a window to see what was the

Whether or not Drake's conscience had anything to do with the bungling
manner in which he made this first attempt at piracy, we cannot say, but
he soon gave his conscience a holiday, and undertook some very
successful robbing enterprises. He received information from some
natives, that a train of mules was coming across the Isthmus of Panama
loaded with gold and silver bullion, and guarded only by their drivers;
for the merchants who owned all this treasure had no idea that there was
any one in that part of the world who would commit a robbery upon them.
But Drake and his men soon proved that they could hold up a train of
mules as easily as some of the masked robbers in our western country
hold up a train of cars. All the gold was taken, but the silver was too
heavy for the amateur pirates to carry.

Two days after that, Drake and his men came to a place called "The House
of Crosses," where they killed five or six peaceable merchants, but were
greatly disappointed to find no gold, although the house was full of
rich merchandise of various kinds. As his men had no means of carrying
away heavy goods, he burned up the house and all its contents and went
to his ships, and sailed away with the treasure he had already obtained.

Whatever this gallant ex-chaplain now thought of himself, he was
considered by the Spaniards as an out-and-out pirate, and in this
opinion they were quite correct. During his great voyage around the
world, which he began in 1577, he came down upon the Spanish-American
settlements like a storm from the sea. He attacked towns, carried off
treasure, captured merchant-vessels, - and in fact showed himself to be a
thoroughbred and accomplished pirate of the first class.

It was in consequence of the rich plunder with which his ships were now
loaded, that he made his voyage around the world. He was afraid to go
back the way he came, for fear of capture, and so, having passed the
Straits of Magellan, and having failed to find a way out of the Pacific
in the neighborhood of California, he doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and
sailed along the western coast of Africa to European waters.

This grand piratical expedition excited great indignation in Spain,
which country was still at peace with England, and even in England there
were influential people who counselled the Queen that it would be wise
and prudent to disavow Drake's actions, and compel him to restore to
Spain the booty he had taken from his subjects. But Queen Elizabeth was
not the woman to do that sort of thing. She liked brave men and brave
deeds, and she was proud of Drake. Therefore, instead of punishing him,
she honored him, and went to take dinner with him on board his ship,
which lay at Deptford.

So Columbus does not stand alone as a grand master of piracy. The famous
Sir Francis Drake, who became vice-admiral of the fleet which defeated
the Spanish Armada, was a worthy companion of the great Genoese.

These notable instances have been mentioned because it would be unjust
to take up the history of those resolute traders who sailed from
England, France, and Holland, to the distant waters of the western world
for the purpose of legitimate enterprise and commerce, and who
afterwards became thorough-going pirates, without trying to make it
clear that they had shining examples for their notable careers.

Chapter III

Pupils in Piracy

After the discoveries of Columbus, the Spanish mind seems to have been
filled with the idea that the whole undiscovered world, wherever it
might be, belonged to Spain, and that no other nation had any right
whatever to discover anything on the other side of the Atlantic, or to
make any use whatever of lands which had been discovered. In fact, the
natives of the new countries, and the inhabitants of all old countries
except her own, were considered by Spain as possessing no rights
whatever. If the natives refused to pay tribute, or to spend their days

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