Text is from the 1927 Argonaut Press reprint edition, which is in turn taken from the 1729 edition published by James Knapton. Tables revised as required for HTML presentation. Table of Contents below gives first sentence of lengthy chapter titles, with complete title given at the head of each chapter, with spelling and style irregularities as seen in the 1729 edition. Spelling and style within text has been edited to modern style, but will be returned to original style as time permits. The date (year only) which appears at the top of each printed page is displayed here following each chapter number, and also at the point in the text where it changes.
|Table of Contents|
|Preface by R. N. Penzer||IX||They set out from Guatulco.|
|Introduction by Sir Albert Gray, K. C. B., K. C.||X||Their Departure from Cape Corientes.|
|Author's Dedication||XI||They resolve to go to Mindanao.|
|Author's Preface||XII||Of the Inhabitants of Mindanao.|
|Introduction||XIII||Their coasting along the Isle of Mindanao.|
|I||An Account of the Author's Return out of the South Seas.||XIV||They depart from the River of Mindanao.|
|II||The Author's Land Journey from the South to the North Sea.||XV||They leave Pulo Condore.|
|III||The Author's cruising with the Privateers in the North Seas.||XVI||They depart from the Bashee Islands.|
|IV||The Author's Voyage to the Isle of John Fernando.||XVII||Leaving New Holland, they pass by the Island Cocos.|
|V||The Author departs from John Fernando's.
|XVIII||The Author … puts to Sea in an open Boat.|
|VI||They depart from Amapalla.||XIX||The Author's departure from Bencouli.|
|VII||They leave the Isle of Plata.||XX||Of the natural Inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope.|
|VIII||They set out from Tabago.|
After reading Sir Albert Gray's excellent Introduction to this edition of Dampier's New Voyage round the World, I was at once convinced that nothing remained to be said except from the bibliographical side.
At the very outset of my researches I was faced with a mass of contradictory and incorrect references—the work of past cataloguers for whom the intricacies of the numerous issues and editions had proved too complicated. Even now I cannot state with absolute certainty that the results of my work have produced a bibliography of Dampier's works complete in every detail. At the same time, it is gratifying to know that the Library of the British Museum has accepted it, and has found it necessary to revise in toto the pages of the General Catalogue containing the Dampier entries. Although the Bodleian does not possess copies of all the various editions, the librarian tells me that those they have confirm my statements.
After his return to England in 1691 Dampier must have prepared his manuscript for the press during the intervals between the numerous short voyages he made in the next half dozen years.
The New Voyage appeared in 1697 and was an immediate success, a second edition following the same year. A third edition was published in 1698. Both these later editions had partially embodied an “errata” sheet which was affixed to the end of the first edition. Dampier's publisher, James Knapton, encouraged by the success of the work, demanded more material for a further volume. This consisted of A Supplement to the Voyage round the World, together with the Voyages to Campeachy and the Discourse on the Trade Winds. It was issued in 1699 under the general title of Voyages and Discoveries, and bore the imprint “Vol. II.” With it a fourth edition of the New Voyage appeared, also dated 1699. It had been more carefully revised, and the complete “errata” sheet from the first edition had been embodied.
It now bore the imprint “Vol. I” on the title page. An Index (unpaginated) to both volumes appeared in Vol. II.
This year (1699) was a great publishing year for Knapton, for beside the Dampier volumes he had also issued Lionel Wafer's New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America and William Hacke's Collection of Original Voyages, which consisted of Cowley's Voyage round the Globe, Sharp's Journey over the Isthmus of Darien,  Wood's Magellan and Roberts' Levan. As we shall see shortly, all these were to be incorporated in a later edition of “Dampier's Voyages.”
Now, although the 1699 edition of Dampier can be correctly described as a two-volume work, each volume was reprinted as occasion demanded.
The New Voyage, in reality, still remained an individual work. Thus the 5th edition appeared in 1703, and the 6th in 1717.
Meanwhile the Voyages and Discoveries had reached its 2nd edition in 1700 and 3rd in 1705. But with the 5th edition of the New Voyage in 1703 appeared the 1st edition of Dampier's third volume, the Voyage to New Holland. It proved a success, although it took six years to be exhausted. The 2nd edition appeared in 1709, and with it was also issued the 1st edition of the Continuation of the New Voyage.
Thus, it was not until 1709 that all Dampier's volumes had appeared, and although librarians often speak of the “three volume Dampier,” they must remember that each volume bore a different date and each date represented a different edition of that volume. Thus, there was no “three volume Dampier” in the generally-accepted meaning of the term, and nothing could prevent such a set being made up of any odd editions. In fact, this is, to a large extent, exactly what happened, and one will find a 1st edition of the New Voyage bound up conformably with, say, a 2nd edition of Voyages and Discoveries and a mixed edition of the two parts of New Holland.
We now come to the four-volume edition of 1729, of which the present work forms a reprint of Volume 1.
Knapton conceived the idea of issuing all his “explorer” volumes in one collection. Accordingly, he first reprinted the three volumes of Dampier's Voyages (omitting the dedication in Volume 1). The New Voyage was called “Seventh edition corrected,” and Voyages and Discoveries was the fourth edition (though unnamed as such). Volume 3 consisted of the New Holland voyage followed by a reprint of Wafer's Voyages [sic, New Voyage]. Both parts of the New Holland voyage now appeared for the first time in continuous pagination. Wafer's Voyages [sic] formed the 3rd edition, as the first had appeared in 1699 and the 2nd in 1704. Volume 4 contained the voyages of Funnell, Cowley, Sharp, Wood, and Roberts.
We have already noted the previous issue of the four latter voyages, and Funnell's Voyage round the World, which was an account of Dampier's St. George voyage, had been published by Knapton in 1707.
With regard to the manuscript copy of Dampier's New Voyage (Sloane Manuscripts 3236) little need be said here, as Sir Albert Gray has treated it in the conclusion of his Introduction. I would merely note that the brief passage referring to New Holland was printed in Early Voyages to Terra Australis, Hakluyt Society, 1859, pp. 108 to 111. The volume also reprinted those portions of the printed edition of the New Voyage to New Holland which contained direct reference to Australia.
It would be superfluous to mention all the reprints of Dampier's Voyages after 1729. I would, therefore, merely draw attention to the “Collections of Voyages,” in which Dampier's Voyages, and those of Funnell, Cowley, &c., appeared.
Harris. 1744 to 1748. Volume 1. Dampier, Funnell, Cowley.
Allgemeine Historie. 1747 to 1777. Volume 12. Dampier, Wood. (Cowley's Voyage appeared in Volume 18.)
Callander. 1766 to 1768. Volume 2. Dampier, Sharp, Cowley, Wafer. (Funnell's Voyage appeared in Volume 3.)
New Collection. 1767. Volume 3, page 608. Dampier.
World Displayed. 1767 to 1768. Volume 6, page 609. Dampier.
[David Henry.] English Navigators. 1774. Volume 1. Dampier, Cowley.
Pinkerton. 1808 to 1814. Volume 11. Dampier.
Kerr. 1811 to 1824. Volume 10. Dampier, Funnell, Cowley.
Laharpe. 1816. Volume 15. Dampier.
The following table shows, at a glance, the correlation of the different editions of the works which constitute “Dampier's Voyages.”
Round the World
|Voyage to New Holland|
|Part I||Part II|
|1697||1st & 2nd||—||—||—|
1927. N. M. PENZER.
Life Before the New Voyage
His First Circumnavigation
Dampier's Subsequent Life
The Roebuck Voyage|
The St. George Voyage
The Duke and Dutchess Voyage
Dampier the Man
The Text of the New Voyage
Dampier's New Voyage on its publication won immediate success, and has ever since maintained its place in the front rank among the most notable records of maritime adventure. It stands midway between the epic tales of Hakluyt and the official narratives of the world voyages of Anson and Cook. As a record of buccaneering it comes between the applauded filibustering of Hawkins and Drake and the condemned piracy of the eighteenth century. The stories of the buccaneers are on the verge of romance. On an episode in the life of one of them Defoe founded one of the great romances of all time—“a most circumstantial and elaborate lie,” as Leslie Stephen calls it, “for which we are all grateful.” No buccaneer's story has had anything like the popularity of Robinson Crusoe: but it may be noted that when Defoe essayed to tell lying tales of pirates such as Captain Avery, founded on Dampier and other writers of fact, the subsequent popularity has been with the true story.
In his Preface Dampier describes his book as “composed of a mixed relation of places and actions,” a modest and inadequate indication which would hardly be approved by the advertising experts of the present day. The relation of places was, in fact, an extensive contribution to the geographical and ethnographical knowledge of his time. Nor does the description take count of the frequent excursions in the realm of natural history which diversify the main story with detailed accounts of tropical animals and plants, not highly scientific indeed, but accurate for the most part and novel to his readers.
Another more general description is that of the title page, “A voyage round the world.” A reader must presume from such a title some intention of circumnavigation at the start, and some continuous prosecution of the aim. Dampier, however, left England without any purpose of rounding the globe, and apparently had no mind to do so until, after many years of devotion to other pursuits, he found himself already halfway home. His was no single voyage, rather the haphazard resultant of episodical voyages, some only of which were in the line of circumnavigation; in the course of these voyages he must have sailed in a dozen ships, apart from canoes and other boats. He accomplished the grand tour, however, a feat which in his time could with luck have been achieved in two years—it took him twelve and a half.
Many men who recount adventures in which they have borne a part describe fully their own actions and conduct; some with a particularity trying to the reader's patience. Dampier is not one of these. In the New Voyage, which began when he was 27, he says nothing of his previous life and throughout shows a too strict reserve in regard to his share in the events related. To enable readers of the present volume to form some estimate of the man a sketch of his life, however inadequate, has to be provided. The details of his subsequent career, which includes a second circumnavigation and two other notable voyages, would be hardly appropriate here. They will not be touched further than seems necessary for an appraisement of Dampier's conduct and character.
All that is known of Dampier's early life is told by himself in the first chapter of his Voyages to the Bay of Campeachy. He was born in the earlier half of 1652, the son of a farmer at East Coker, near Yeovil. His father died in 1662, and his mother in 1668. His parents had designed him for commercial life; he was sent to school, probably at Yeovil, and attended the Latin class. On the death of his mother his guardians “took other measures” and “removed me from the Latin school to learn writing and arithmetic,” in other words, transferred him to the Modern Side. A year or so later, having had “very early inclinations to see the world,” he was apprenticed to the master of a Weymouth ship and with him made a voyage to France and then to Newfoundland. He was “pinched with the rigour of that cold climate” and set his heart on a long voyage in summer seas. Soon after his return to London his chance came and, now 19 years of age, he embarked on a voyage to Bantam, serving before the mast. Returning home early in 1672, he spent the rest of the year with his brother in Somersetshire.
He soon tired of home life and the Second Dutch War was now afoot. Dampier enlisted and fought under Sir Edward Spragge in his first two engagements. A day or two before the third, in which Sir Edward was killed, he fell sick and after a long illness went home to his brother. There a neighbouring gentleman, Colonel Hillier, made him an offer of employment in the management of his plantation in Jamaica under a Mr. Whalley, and he set forth in the Content of London, working his passage as a seaman, under agreement for his discharge on arrival. This he deemed necessary lest he should be “trepanned and sold as a servant after my arrival in Jamaica.” For six months he worked with Mr. Whalley on the plantation “16-Mile walk,” i.e. from Spanish Town: then took service under Captain Heming on his plantation at St. Ann's, in the north of the island. He soon left an employment in which, as he says, he was clearly out of his element, and spent some months in trading cruises round the island, during which he “came acquainted with all the ports and bays about Jamaica and with their manufactures, as also with the benefit of the land and sea-winds.” He thus early began his habits of close observation of men and nature. Now also began his practice of keeping a journal, which he had omitted in his voyage to Bantam.
Between 1675 and 1678 Dampier spent about two years in cutting and loading log-wood on the Bay of Campeachy, an occupation which he seemed to have enjoyed. The resistance of Spain to foreign intrusion was becoming feeble, and Dampier reckons there were 270 Englishmen engaged in the log-wood trade. “It is not my business,” he adds, “to determine how far we might have a right of cutting wood there.” He did not, however, get rich on it, and at length in straightened circumstances was constrained to take a turn with some privateers along the gulf as far as Vera Cruz. For a short time he resumed work at Campeachy, thence returning to Jamaica and back to London (August 1678). He gave himself only a six months' leave, during which he married Judith —, from the household of the Duke of Grafton (Chapter 4). It does not appear that they had any children, and nothing more is known of the wife till some 25 years later. He had to work for his living and now projected another expedition to Campeachy—“but it proved to be a voyage round the world.”
As has been noted the circumnavigation was a haphazard tour interrupted by digressions as accidental and whimsical as some in the Autobiography of Tristram Shandy. For the convenience of the reader I have divided the whole into eight stages, each of which is a more or less separate cruise, defined by change of direction, ship or captain.
Dampier set out on the memorable adventures recorded in the present volume in an early month of 1679, embarking as a passenger in the Loyal Merchant of London, Captain Knapman. On arrival in Jamaica in April he spent the remainder of the year there. Having bought a small estate in Dorsetshire, he was near returning home to complete the purchase when Mr. Hobby invited him to join in a trading voyage to the Moskito shore, and he “sent the writing of my new purchase” to England by the hands of friends. As fate would have it Mr. Hobby put into Negril Bay at the west end of Jamaica, where a squadron of buccaneers was assembled under Captains John Coxon, Sawkins, Bartholomew Sharp, and other worthies. The temptation which led many an honest man to the buccaneering life could not be resisted. “Mr. Hobby's men all left him to go with them upon an expedition they had contrived, leaving not one with him beside myself.” After three or four days Dampier went too, and no more is heard of Mr. Hobby.
I allow myself at this point, following Shandean precedent, to interpose a digression on buccaneering. Under this polite West Indian synonym for piracy, the profession was at the zenith of its prosperity when Dampier joined in: it had acquired indeed some measure of respectability. Some knowledge of its history in the West Indies, and of the current state of public opinion in regard to it, is needed for understanding how a man of Dampier's character, and many like him, came to be associated with it, untroubled by more than occasional twinges of conscience.
Earlier in the century the hunters of Hispaniola were waging a not unrighteous warfare against Spanish tyranny. From the boucans, frames or hurdles, on which their meat was roasted, they got the name of buccaneers. They obtained the assistance of French and English adventurers, and the war was extended to the sea. With the accession of more and more reckless spirits from Europe whose only object was booty, the local justification was lost, and the buccaneers, whose exploits are told by Esquemeling, Dampier and Burney, and ever since followed with zest and sympathy by boys young and old (including Charles Kingsley) were for the most part pirates.
The glamour which surrounds the buccaneers can be partly accounted for. Their enterprises have seemed to be a continuation of those of Hawkins and Drake, the national heroes of the preceding century, and thus worthy of a measure of their praise.
True, the enemy in both cases was Spain, and in Dampier's time, despite the friendly policy of James I and Charles I, Spain was still regarded as the national foe. Spanish cruelties to the natives and to honest traders whom they imprisoned rankled in the hearts of Englishmen. There was, however, no national or religious enthusiasm behind the buccaneers, whose operations had a different origin and were instigated solely by motives of plunder. Mr. Andrew Lang's description of the buccaneers as “the most hideously ruthless miscreants that ever disgraced the earth and the sea” is true enough of the leaders of the preceding decades, such as L'Olonnois (French) Bartholomew Portuquez, Roche Braziliano (Dutch) and we may add Henry Morgan (Welsh). Even these villains had their several accounts for settlement with the Spaniards. L'Olonnois had been kidnapped and sold as a slave; Morgan, too, had been sold as a slave; Esquemeling, their historian, had been beaten, tortured and nearly starved to death. The captains whom Dampier served were of a more humane stamp. The change may be seen by a comparison of the original Esquemeling with the supplement of Ringrose and with the stories of Dampier and the others of his time. Though engaged in a lawless war the later captains conducted it more according to the existing laws of war, and they treated their Spanish enemies with respect and occasional chivalry. As for the men comprising the crews they were of no worse class than those who manned the ships of war or merchantmen of the time. They were simply children of fortune, some of good behaviour, some vicious and drunken, a few provided with education, many with none, like the mixed companies who some 60 or 70 years ago crowded to the goldfields of Australia and California.
As the enterprises of the buccaneers were lawless, so were the relations of the captains and crews. Readers of this volume will note the fitful allegiance of the captains to the commander-in-chief, and of the crews to the captains. Dissensions led to frequent mutinies and desertions: these however seem to have been treated as no more abnormal than changes of the weather. They were settled without violence, and in most cases amicably, the men following the captains they liked best.
The troubles of Spanish America are rightly traced to the Bull of the Borgia pope who divided the Spanish and Portuguese claims of conquest by lines of longitude, and to the exclusive commercial policy based on that award. The filibustering of the Elizabethan seamen was England's protest against the preposterous claim founded on a papal decree, not sanctioned by more than sparse settlements on the vast coasts of two continents. As Sir Charles Lucas says, the Spaniards “claimed rather than possessed, and did little either in conquest or settlement.”
England's protest brought forth the Spanish Armada; its destruction, however, did not produce a settlement of the international situation in America. More than 80 years later the operations of the buccaneers, insulting to Spain and cruelly destructive of Spanish life and property, impossible as they were for the English government to defend, led to the conclusion of the treaty of 1670. It was a one-sided agreement which protected for England little more than Jamaica, while for Spain the whole of her settlements on both sides of America were to be immune. Exemplifying the foolish ideas of the time in regard to commercial policy it proposed to secure not mutual but exclusive trade. It provided that the subjects of the confederates “shall abstain and forbear to sail and trade in the ports and havens which have fortifications, castles, magazines, or warehouses, and in all places whatever possessed by the other party in the West Indies.” The governors of Jamaica did what they could, without sufficient power to their elbows, to carry the treaty into effect. Some buccaneers were punished, but when Dampier, nine years later, came on the scene, the game was more popular than ever and attracted many hundreds of adventurers from both England and France. At this time the French were more occupied with gaining a footing in Hispaniola, and thus most of the sea work “on the account,” such was the euphemism, was done by the English.
Trading between nations is a natural propensity, and an exclusive trade agreement was one certain to be resented and disregarded. The Spaniards on their side did little to ease the situation. Englishmen and Frenchmen when they fell into their power were put to death or imprisoned with barbarous severities. They did not on all occasions feel bound to keep their word with heretics. Their oppressive treatment of the natives led many tribes to give active or covert assistance to the intruders. Although at times, as we shall see, they fought with their old valour, in most cases they lived in a state of terror, vacated their towns at the first assault, and were held in contempt by the English freebooters.
Public opinion at home was not seriously adverse to the buccaneers. Morgan, the most notorious professor of the craft, after being alternately commissioned and prosecuted as a privateer, was knighted and appointed lieutenant-governor of Jamaica. Some of Dampier's associates, prosecuted on their return to England on charges of piracy, were acquitted or liberated after short imprisonment. At this time, when larceny of a sheep or ass was punishable with death, the penalty of piracy, under the statute 28 Henry VIII, c. 15, unless accompanied by murder, was only fine and imprisonment. James II had proclaimed a pardon for buccaneers, and the open confession of piracy in Ringrose's and Dampier's narratives created little or no danger of prosecution: there was evidently no fear even of adverse public criticism. In Dampier's case his book opened for him the door of employment under government.
The expedition contrived by the pirate leaders was an attack on Portobello, the rich isthmus city near the site of the famous Nombre de Dios. The buccaneer force consisted of nine ships, two of them French, and 477 men. The place was easily taken and, though it had been sacked by Morgan only 11 years ago, the booty gave a dividend of 40 pounds per man. A proposal was now made, on the instigation of friendly Indians, to march across the Isthmus to the city of Santa Maria. The French broke off: they “were not willing to go to Panama, declaring themselves generally against a long march by land.” The force was thus reduced by two ships and 111 men. Two of the captains with a party of seamen were left “to guard our ships in our absence with which we intended to return home.” The expeditionary force of 331 men landed and marched forward in seven companies carrying flags of various colours; “all or most of them were armed with fusee, pistol and hanger.” The adventurous march with this trivial armament was completed in ten days: Santa Maria was taken with no loss of men but produced little or no booty. The force, which had been provided by the Indians with 35 canoes, then got separated and one party appeared off Panama at the island of Perico, where were anchored “five great ships and three pretty big barks.” The buccaneers numbered only 68 men in five canoes: they nevertheless attacked and took the barks after a desperate resistance. An admiral was killed and in one of the barks the Spaniards lost 61 out of 86 men: all but eight of the rest were wounded. The buccaneers' casualties were 18 killed and 22 wounded. It was then found that the five ships were deserted, their crews having been transferred to man the barks; the biggest was La Santissima Trinidad of 400 tons. The freebooters found themselves in possession of more than sufficient shipping to carry them wither they would. The action, however, occasioned a second breach in the brotherhood. Captain Coxon, the commander-in-chief, was charged with backwardness in the engagement, and some “sticked not to defame or brand him with the note of cowardice.” Coxon thereupon withdrew from the fleet taking 70 men with him, and recrossed the Isthmus. The next adventure, an attack on Puebla Nova, was a grievous failure, costing the death of Captain Sawkins, the new commander-in-chief, “a man as stout as could be, and beloved above any other that ever we had amongst us, as he well deserved.” A minority, 63 in number, who so lamented Sawkins that they could not serve his successor Sharp, mutinied and left for the Isthmus in an old ship assigned to them. They had hardly gone when another mutiny broke out. The men on one of the prizes to which Captain Edmund Cook was appointed by Sharp refused to serve under him: Cook joined Sharp's ship and Captain Cox took over the command of the mutinous crew, with the status “as it were of vice-admiral.”
Off Guiaquil they captured a bark which they sank after replacing from her their rigging damaged in the encounter. A designed attack on Arica failed owing to heavy weather which prevented a landing from the boats. With little difficulty they next captured the city of La Serena, an exploit not even mentioned by Dampier, but described with much zest by Ringrose. The city had no less than seven great churches and each had its organ. The houses had charming gardens and orchards “as well and as neatly furnished as those in England, producing strawberries as big as walnuts and very delicious to the taste.” Sad to relate, owing to the Spaniards' failure to pay the 95,000 pieces-of-eight demanded as ransom, this agreeable city was burned to the ground.
At John Fernando, the most southerly point of the cruise, another mutiny broke out. According to Ringrose there was a division of opinion, some for going home by way of the Straits of Magellan, others for a further cruise on the Pacific coast. Sharp was deposed from his command in favour of Watling. The ships left the island on 14 January 1681, the crews in smouldering discontent. The leaders seem to have thought that the best chance of harmony lay in carrying out a successful coup: a second attack on Arica was accordingly resolved upon. At Iquique Island near that town information for the assault was demanded from four prisoners: that given by one old mestizo was hastily believed to be false, and he was summarily shot. This brutal act raised further dissension and Captain Sharp, in one of his apocryphal additions to Ringrose's text, states that, after a vain protest, he, Pilate-fashion, “took water and washed his hands saying, ‘Gentlemen, I am clear of the blood of this old man: and I will warrant you a hot day for this piece of cruelty whenever we come to fight at Arica!’ ” Ringrose says not a word of this, nor does Sharp himself in his own journal: he probably invented the lie because the attack on Arica in fact turned out a bloody and profitless affair. Captain Watling and both quartermasters—28 men in all—were killed; 18 others desperately wounded, and some, including three surgeons who were drinking instead of fighting or attending the wounded, were taken prisoners. The town was stormed with reckless courage and half taken against a stubborn defence. The Spaniards with superior numbers counter-attacked again and again and finally drove the marauders back to their ships.
Great expectations were thus disappointed, Arica being the port from which “is fetched all the plate that is carried to Lima, the head city of Peru.” On the death of Watling Sharp resumed the command. Ringrose (as emended by Sharp himself) eulogises this captain as “a man of undaunted courage and of an excellent conduct,” while according to Dampier the company were “not satisfied either with his courage or behaviour.” The opinion of the crews was put to the test by voting at the island of Plata. The majority, including Ringrose, went for Sharp: the minority of 44, including Dampier and Wafer, seceded. At this point Dampier takes up the chronicle, but we part from Ringrose with regret.
Now that Dampier tells his story in detail less commentary is needed. In Chapters 1 and 3 he has much to say about the friendly Moskito Indians and their wonderful skill in striking fish, turtle and manatees. On this account they were “esteemed and coveted by all privateers,” and some of them were always part of the ships' complements in the cruises on both sides of the Isthmus: they are the men to whom Dampier frequently refers as “strikers.” In his account of the laborious journey of 23 days over the Isthmus (Chapter 2)—the outward crossing had taken them only ten—the reader will specially note how he preserved his journal in a joint of bamboo, waxed at both ends. The exhausted party were taken on board Captain Tristian's ship on 24 May 1681, and here is concluded the second stage of the voyage round the world. Since Portobello the expedition had been a failure in capture of plate. Other booty had to be discarded for want of neutral ports for its realisation, and Dampier's party brought back little or nothing. It was about 2½ years since he had left London.
Dampier is so reticent about himself that it is difficult to hazard an opinion as to the part he took in this or any other buccaneering cruise. There is nothing to go upon: throughout the voyages of this volume he never commanded a ship nor an expedition: he does not tell us how he was rated, or what part he took in affairs—he gave his advice occasionally, and joined in the mutiny at Plata, intimating, however, that he took no active share in it. Nor does he appear to have been much in the forefront of battle, as Ringrose was. The only friendship he seems to have formed was with Ringrose, whom he called friend and “worthy consort.” He is not even mentioned by Sharp, Cowley, or Cox. His attitude towards the wild men with whom he associated was one of aloofness. His chief concern was the study of geography, the winds and tides, the plants and animals, and keeping his journal posted up.
From Captain Tristian Dampier was transferred to another Frenchman, Captain Archemboe but soon grew “weary of living with the French.” Their sailors were “the saddest creatures that ever I was among.” By insistence he compelled Captain Wright to add him with other English to his crew. The cruise in the Caribbean Sea described in Chapter 3, though it brought the pirates little profit, gave Dampier plenty of time for his favourite studies and observations. He was at the island of Aves little more than a year after the disaster to Count d'Estree's fleet (February 1681) which he describes from hearsay. Off the Caracas coast he and 20 others took one of the ships and their share of the spoil and sailed off to Virginia. He does not specify the cause of the defection or the intention in choosing that destination. Of his 13 months' stay there he says no more than that he fell into troubles of some sort.
In August 1683 he again joins the buccaneers in the Revenge, Captain Cook. The cruise was a long one round the Horn and up the Pacific coast as described in Chapters 4 to 9. The course taken was to the Cape Verde Islands and Sierra Leone. Here the buccaneers boarded and took a fine Danish vessel, the Bachelor's Delight, 36 guns, to which Cook transferred his crew. It was an act of piracy so flagrant, committed against a friendly nation, without such shadow of excuse as was deemed to justify harms to Spain, that Dampier is evidently ashamed to mention it. Cowley relates the incident without compunction. Dampier sailed with Cook till his death at Cape Blanco in June 1684, thereafter with his successor, Captain Davis. On the Bachelor's Delight he found “the men more under command than I have ever seen privateers, yet I could not expect to find them at a minute's call.” This is the only indication Dampier gives of his rating and Mr. Masefield suggests with some probability that he was second master or master's mate under Ambrosia Cowley. Cook was joined (March 1684) by Captain Eaton in the Nicholas, and in October, at Plata, by Captain Swan in the Cygnet.
Swan's case was a pitiful one: the Cygnet, fitted out by London merchants for lawful trade, had met Captain Peter Harris and a party of buccaneers at Nicoya with a considerable booty in hand. Swan's men, with whom he had already had difficulties at the straits, were now seduced, and he was compelled to turn pirate. He was no backslider, however—it was by his order that Payta was burned to the ground in default of ransom (Chap. VI). Nevertheless his deflection from the path of virtue and duty weighed heavily on his mind. In a letter from Panama to a friend, quoted by Mr. Masefield, he asks him to assure his employers that “I do all I can to preserve their interests and that what I do now I could in no wise prevent. So desire them to do what they can with the King for me, for as soon as I can I shall deliver myself to the King's justice.” His view now was that if the buccaneers were backed by the government “the King might make this whole kingdom of Peru tributary to him in two years' time.” As he wrote the attack on the Lima fleet was impending, and he adds in a message to his wife, “I shall, with God's help, do things which (were it with my Prince's leave) would make her a lady: but now I cannot tell but it may bring me to a halter.” His end is told in Chapter XVI.
The climax of this cruise was to have been the capture of the fleet carrying treasure from Lima to Panama. Davis and Swan had now (May 1685) been joined by Captains Townley and Harris, and by a French contingent under Captain Gronet. The growth of the piratical movement is seen in the numbers given by Dampier. The buccaneers had ten sail (six ships and four tenders, &c.) carrying no less than 960 men. They had, however, only 52 guns, these being in Davis's and Swan's ships. The Spaniards on the other hand had 14 sail, six of them “of good force,” with 174 guns in all. Everything went against the pirates. While they had the weather-gage Gronet failed them: the Spaniards by a ruse obtained the weather-gage, and a running fight round the bay ensued, from which the assailants were glad to escape. In the event of success there would have been no booty of plate, that having been already landed at Lavelia in view of a probable attack.
The noteworthy events of this cruise, besides captures of casual prizes, are the taking and burning of Payta, and the abortive attempt on Guiaquil (Chapter 6) the taking and burning of Leon in Nicaragua, where was killed an old buccaneer who had fought with Cromwell in Ireland; and the parting of Davis and Swan (Chapter 8). Dampier, “not from any dislike to my old captain but to get some knowledge of the Mexican coast,” joined up with Swan, who was minded to pass over to the East Indies, “which was a way very agreeable to my inclination.” Thus is first inferentially expressed his intention of circumnavigation, more than 6½ years after he set out from England.
On breaking with Davis Swan's chief object in crossing the Pacific (Dampier probably sharing it) was to have done with buccaneering, and by honest trading to reinstate himself in the good graces of his employers. To induce his men to go with him, however, he was obliged to hold out hopes of further piracy in the East Indies. At Guam in the Ladrones he made no attempt to pursue an Acapulco ship, being “now wholly averse to any hostile action.” At Mindanao the party conducted themselves as traders and were hospitably entertained by the sultan. Little trade was available and thoughts were entertained of settling there, the men being now weary lotus-eaters. The six months' residence at this place led to serious trouble: Swan became brutal and tyrannical towards his men, succumbed to the attractions of the town, and made long absences from his ship. Another mutiny was the result; the majority of the crew seized the ship, left Swan ashore, and sailed off under a new captain—Read. Dampier's conduct on this occasion exhibits the same aloofness as on other occasions. He took no part in the men's conspiracy, nor, on the other hand, as it would seem, in the attempt to get Swan aboard. In spite of his better feelings he became a pirate for another 18 months.
The voyage under Captain Read, from the buccaneering point of view, was a complete failure. Though “our business was to pillage,” only two prizes were taken and those of little account. Much sea and land, however, was explored, as is seen by the route—Manila, Pulo Condore, Formosa, Celebes, the north coast of Australia and the Nicobars. Here Dampier ended his buccaneering career of 8½ years. The men had become more and more drunken, quarrelsome, and unruly, and Dampier looked for an opportunity to escape from “this mad crew.” A canoe was obtained and Dampier, the surgeon, and another Englishman, with a few natives, set out for Achin. In his terror during a storm which threatened to overwhelm their puny craft Dampier “made sad reflections on my former life and looked back with horror and detestation on actions which before I disliked but now I trembled at the remembrance of.” In his escape from the dangers attendant on those actions curiously enough he recognised the protection of Heaven. “I did also call to mind the many miraculous acts of God's Providence towards me in the whole course of my life.”
Whatever condemnation may be passed on Dampier's long association with pirates it must be noted to his credit that during the whole period of this cruise in the archipelago, while his companions were drinking and brawling, he was studiously recording his observations. His six months' residence at Mindanao provides us with a full description of plant and animal life, as also of the inhabitants, their government, religion, manners, and customs (Chaps. XI and XII). Here too comes on the scene that curious Prince Jeoly, the “painted prince,” whom Dampier brought to England for show and there sold as his only asset.
From Achin, and for the rest of the circumnavigation, Dampier was for the most part a mere passenger. First a voyage to Tonquin with Captain Welden (July 1688—April 1689) thence to Malacca and Fort George and back to Achin and Bencoolen, where he was employed as gunner in the English fort for five months. This section of his travels is omitted from the New Voyage and reserved for the Voyage to Tonquin. At Achin, as will be seen in Chapter XVIII, he learns the further adventures of Captain Read and his crew whom he had deserted at the Nicobars.
His eventful voyage now draws to a close (Chapters 19 and 20). Getting a passage from Bencoolen in the Defence, Captain Heath, Dampier arrived in the Downs on 16 September 1691, 12½ years since he had left England. All buccaneer's visions of a home-coming with ample booty in bar gold or pieces-of-eight had vanished, and he landed with no more marketable commodities than a tattooed native.
On his return to England Dampier was 39 years of age. Further great voyages were in store for him, each of which would require its own commentary. None, however, has been so attractive to the reading public as the New Voyage, it may be because the other expeditions, though comprising exploits and adventure, are hardly so attractive to law-abiding citizens as those to which additional zest is provided by contempt of law.
For six years nothing is known of Dampier's life except that he was at Corunna in 1694, probably in a merchant ship. It is likely that he made other such voyages: in the intervals he was preparing his New Voyage for publication early in 1697. Its immediate success obtained for him an appointment at the customs house as land-carriage man, and in June of that year he was examined before the Council of Trade and Plantation with respect to possible settlements on the Isthmus of Darien. Early in 1698 he was again examined before the council with regard to an expedition against the pirates to the east of the Cape of Good Hope. His advice may have been sought partly on account of his piratical experience and partly because his book had shown that he had little heart in the business.
He now submitted to the government proposals for a new voyage of exploration to New Holland, which were accepted. He was appointed captain of the Roebuck, 21 guns, his first command, at the age of 47. He tells the story of his cruise in his Voyage to New Holland, published in two parts, 1703 and 1709. The expedition went awry from the first and for divers causes. His ship was unseaworthy for a long voyage, and he quarrelled with his men, especially with his lieutenant, Fisher, whom he put in irons and handed over as a prisoner to the Portuguese governor at Bahia. At Shark's Bay, in Western Australia, scurvy and the lack of water and provisions broke his spirit and he turned homewards. After touching at Timor, Batavia, and the Cape he got his crazy vessel as far as Ascension where she foundered. There he got a passage in a man-of-war to Barbados and so home in a merchantman. From the point of view of exploration the voyage was no great success: he might have anticipated Cook, Furneaux, and Flinders, and he touched only the barren coast of Western Australia. His failure was largely due to his employers, who gave him an unseaworthy and badly provisioned ship, and to his mutinous crew. It would be unjust to attribute the failure to his incompetency as a leader of men: all that is to be said is that in the conditions he did not succeed as such.
On his return he had to meet not only adverse criticism on his failure as an explorer, but also a court martial at the instance of Lieutenant Fisher. He was found guilty of “very hard and cruel usage towards Lieutenant Fisher,” for which the court held there were no grounds. He was fined all his pay and declared to be “not a fit person to be employed as commander of any of His Majesty's ships.” We cannot question the judgment of a court the principal members of which were Sir George Rooke and Sir Cloudesley Shovell. It was one which in our time, when public opinion upholds legal decisions and requires governments to respect them, would be the end of an officer's career. It was not so in Dampier's case. We need not here consider whether the government disagreed with the judgment or merely disregarded it, because the War of the Spanish Succession had now broken out and Dampier's buccaneering experience was wanted on behalf of the country. Private owners fitted out two privateers, the St. George and the Fame, Dampier being appointed to the former as commander. Ten months after the court martial he had an audience of the Queen to whom he was introduced by the Lord High Admiral, and kissed hands on his mission.
The only account we possess of this privateering voyage is that of William Funnell, who was rated mate of the St. George, as he himself claims, or as steward according to Dampier. Funnell is a dull and malicious reporter and is not to be trusted when he deals with Dampier's motives and conduct. Trouble began at the start, Captain Pulling in the Fame deserting him in the Downs. His place was taken at Kinsale (August 1703) by Captain Pickering in the Cinque Ports. On the Brazilian coast Pickering died and was succeeded by his lieutenant, Stradling. More quarrelling ensued, enhanced by the hardships of the passage round the Horn. Dissension between Stradling and his men led to the marooning of Alexander Selkirk on John Fernando. The failure to take two enemy ships led to further recriminations and desertions. Dampier quarrelled with Stradling and left him at Tobago: he quarrelled also with his own mate, Clipperton, who went off with 21 men in a prize bark. After another failure to capture a Manila bark, he was deserted by Funnell and 34 men. His ship, being unseaworthy, was abandoned, and with his now reduced crew of about 30, in a prize brigantine, he crossed the Pacific to a Dutch island where they were imprisoned. Dampier did not reach England till the close of 1707. So began, continued and ended in disaster his second voyage of circumnavigation. Meanwhile Funnell had already published his damaging book. Dampier would perhaps have written the story of the voyage himself but, being already engaged to go to sea, he contented himself with publishing his Vindication in language strangely different from that of the New Voyage. Mr. Masefield describes it as “angry and incoherent,” but it may fairly be regarded as being no more than a collection of notes jotted down in indignation and hot haste, preparatory to a more reasoned vindication later.
When Dampier returned from his second voyage as captain the merchants of Bristol were already organising a privateering expedition to the Pacific under Captain Woodes Rogers, and the honourable office of pilot was offered to Dampier. Of all his voyages this was probably the happiest to himself. The expedition was lawful and gave him no qualms of conscience; he was free from the cares and responsibilities of supreme command; he served under one of the most competent captains of the time, and his experience and ability as a navigator, as well as his wise counsel, enabled him to contribute largely to the success of the venture. The two vessels were the Duke and Dutchess, Dampier sailing on the former with Rogers. In the list of officers he is described as “William Dampier, Pilot for the South Seas, who had been already three times there and twice round the World.” Perhaps profiting by the experience of Dampier's previous ill-equipped expeditions, the merchants had provided the ships so liberally with provisions and gear that the between decks were badly encumbered, and the ships “altogether in a very unfit state to engage an enemy.” The crews indeed were of the same unpromising material with which Dampier was familiar. About one-third were foreigners, the rest landsmen, “tailors, tinkers, pedlars, fiddlers and hay-makers.” Between Cork, “where our crew were continually marrying,” and the Canaries a dangerous mutiny broke out which Rogers promptly put down, imposing upon a ringleader the indignity of being whipped by a fellow-conspirator. Troubles with the crew were, however, to a large extent obviated by the payment of regular wages: the contract of employment on the St. George had been the vicious one of “no prey, no pay.” Moreover Rogers was wise enough to share his responsibility with his officers, and all questions of importance were referred to committees, Dampier's name being on nearly every list. Discipline was thus preserved and the cruise resulted in the capture of many prizes and a very large booty, which unhappily did not benefit Dampier, as the distribution was delayed till after his death.
The most interesting feature of this voyage was the rescue of Alexander Selkirk from the island of John Fernando, which the ships might not have hit without Dampier's knowledge of the winds. The meeting with his countrymen after his desolate life of four years is told by Woodes Rogers with unconscious art, and one cannot help favourably comparing the inarticulate Selkirk with the expansive Ben Gunn of Treasure Island. Dampier took a leading part in the scene; he was able to tell Rogers that Selkirk was the best man in the Cinque Ports, from which he had been marooned; so, says Rogers, “I immediately agreed with him to be a mate on board our ship.”
After his return from his last voyage Dampier lived 3½ years more, probably in London, where he died in the parish of St. Stephen, Coleman Street, in March 1715. His will dated 29 November 1714 was proved on 23 March 1715. He described himself as “diseased and weak of body, but of sound and perfect mind,” and left nine-tenths of his property to his cousin, Grace Mercer, the remaining tenth to his brother, George Dampier, of Porton, in the county of somerset. the large share of his property bequeathed to his cousin may indicate that she looked after him in his last years. His wife had probably predeceased him, as she is not mentioned in the will. By a previous will made before 1703 he had left a sum of 200 pounds to his friend, Edward Southwell, to be disposed of as he should think best for his wife's use. On the starting of the St. George cruise however he was constrained to put that sum into the venture.
Dampier is an attractive character, but do what one will, one cannot make a hero of him. Nor indeed does he seem to be quite in his right place on the roll of “Men of Action,” with a biography by W. Clark Russell. During the whole of the cruises comprised in the New Voyage he served either before the mast or as a subordinate officer, and was never chosen for the command of a ship or an expedition; his advice does not appear to have been asked, and when proffered was seldom followed. He took no leading part in the various mutinies, keeping his mind to himself until he had to take one side or the other. He is once respectfully mentioned as “Mr. William Dampier” by Cowley, but never once, so far as I have discovered, in the other narratives of Ringrose, Cox or Sharp. His whole time, so far as not interrupted by raids or the quarrels of his rowdy associates, was devoted to close observation of winds and tides, geography, plants and animal life. He was in fact a student carrying for the nonce the fusee and hanger of a buccaneer. In happier days, and with a sounder scientific education, his status in a world cruise might have been that of Darwin on the Beagle.
His first command of a ship at the age of 47 could not have been conferred owing to reputation as a leader of men. The Roebuck expedition was an official voyage of exploration initiated by his own suggestion, and the conduct of it was given to him, there can be little doubt, on the strength of his book, the New Voyage. The lack of success, however attributable to the unseaworthiness and ill-provisioning of the ship, and to the unmanageable crew, was not so damaging to his reputation as an explorer as was the judgment of the court martial to his capacity as a captain. His second chance, as privateersman in the St. George, was equally unfortunate in the result. Here again he had to deal with an unseaworthy ship and dissolute crews. In both these cases he came home without his ship, and had to meet adverse criticism by recriminations. Whatever excuse may be found in the adverse conditions—and there is undoubtedly much—it can hardly be said that Dampier has established a claim to be regarded as a leader of men. His rough experience and scientific attainments no doubt made him a first-rate navigator, but a reputation as an explorer cannot be founded upon a single ineffectual visit to the coasts of Australia.
Dampier's true distinction seems to me to lie in the scientific and literary merits of his writings. There is scientific research in all his books, notably in his Discourse of Winds, Breezes, Storms, Tides and Currents, a treatise which has preserved its usefulness to the present day. The exciting adventures of his buccaneering life are told in the modest and simple language of his time, which charms us equally in the autobiographical fiction of Swift and Defoe. As Leslie Stephen says of Treasure Island, we throw ourselves into the events, enjoy the thrilling excitement, and do not bother ourselves with questions of psychology. His contributions to nautical science are extolled by those best qualified to judge. I will quote two naval authorities who testify also to the literary charm of the writing. First Captain Burney: “It is not easy to name another voyager or traveller who has given more useful information to the world; to whom the merchant and mariner are so much indebted; or who has communicated his information in a more unembarrassed and intelligible a manner. And this he has done in a style perfectly unassuming, equally free from affectation and from the most distant appearance of invention.” Admiral Smyth is equally eulogistic: “The information he affords flows as from a mind which possesses the mastery of its subject, and is desirous to communicate it. He delights and instructs by the truth and discernment with which he narrates the incidents of a peculiar life; and describes the attractive and important realities of nature with a fidelity and sagacity that anticipate the deductions of philosophy. Hence he was the first who discovered and treated of the geological structure of sea coasts; and though the local magnetic attraction in ships had fallen under the notice of seamen, he was among the first to lead the way to its investigation since the facts that ‘stumbled’ him at the Cape of Good Hope, respecting the variations of the compass, excited the mind of Flinders, his ardent admirer, to study the anomaly. His sterling sense enabled him to give the character without the strict forms of science to his faithful delineations and physical suggestions: and inductive enquirers have rarely been so much indebted to any adventurer whose pursuits were so entirely remote from their subjects of speculation.”
Those who have excellently well adjudged Dampier's merits in science and literature have hardly done justice to his personal character. On the debit side some will reckon the unfortunate court martial, but any good man may, in the stress of difficulties attending a sea-command, exercise undue severity in the maintenance of his authority: and no doubt Lieutenant Fisher was a trying subordinate. The Admiralty do not seem to have taken quite the same view of the case as the court, as they shortly afterwards gave Dampier a privateer's commission. Then there is the fact that he was a buccaneer. On this point references have already been made to the laxity of public opinion on that subject in his day. It cannot be said that in joining the buccaneers Dampier mistook his vocation. That in modern parlance was research, and he could not in his day have obtained opportunities for research in the distant Caribbean and Pacific Seas except with the buccaneers. He was with them, but hardly one of them. As he was less of a buccaneer, so, as I believe, he was more of a gentleman. I have thus no need to claim or admit that “he was the mildest-mannered man that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.” There is no evidence that he did either, and one likes to think he did not.
Although he was not an active buccaneer he seems to have done his duty by his associates; at any rate no complaints against him in this respect are recorded. He took his share in their strenuous labour whether afloat or ashore, without mingling in their drinking bouts and quarrels; and all the while he was carefully writing up his journal day by day, and adding to his observations of nature. He affords a bright example of strength of character in the pursuit of knowledge under the most adverse conditions.
What is most conspicuous in Dampier's writings is his modesty and self-effacement; and I conclude that this, one of the hallmarks of a gentleman, was his demeanour in conversation and society. He unconsciously gives us a glimpse of his character when he tells us in Chapter 3 of the pressing invitation which he had from the captain and lieutenant of a French man-of-war to go back with them to France. Evidently charmed with his conversation, they saw how different a man he was from his ruffian associates. Though engaged in piracy he was always in favour of justice, and thus writes of Captain Davis's men (he being a Davis man himself) as being “so unreasonable that they would not allow Captain Eaton's men an equal share with them in what they got” (Chapter 2). It is a further tribute to his character that when he was at home he had the patronage and help of Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, and the friendship of such men as Sir Robert Southwell, a president of the Royal Society, his son Edward Southwell, a Secretary of State for Ireland, and Sir Hans Sloane, who showed his respect for Dampier by having his portrait painted by Thomas Murray—the face is that of a grave, thoughtful and resolute man. Much the most interesting sidelight on his social quality, however, is thrown by John Evelyn's record of his dinner with Mr. Pepys on 6 August 1698:
“I dined with Mr. Pepys, where was Captain Dampier, who had been a famous buccaneer, had brought hither the painted prince Job, and printed a relation of his very strange adventure, and his observations. He was now going abroad again by the King's encouragement, who furnished a ship of 290 tons. He seemed a more modest man than one would imagine by relation of the crew he had assorted with. He brought a map of his observations of the course of the winds in the South Seas, and assured us that the maps hitherto extant were all false as to the Pacific Sea, which he makes on the south of the line, that on the north end running by the coast of Peru being extremely tempestuous.”
It would seem that Evelyn expected to meet a swashbuckler and found a modest and courteous gentleman, with perhaps much to tell of his life's adventures, but for the moment chiefly concerned with his objection to calling an ocean pacific unless it is so. How pleasant it would have been for any person, however eminent, to have made a fourth at that dinner!
When we come to investigate the text of this delightful book we find some difficulties which have to be met and solved. The story and the scientific observations are undoubtedly Dampier's, for which he must have the entire credit. It was however charged against him in his own day that the literary style or polish was contributed by some unknown assistant or collaborator. This was believed by Swift, who evidently loved Dampier and was probably much influenced by him in his methods of narration as, indeed, is indicated by his reference to Dampier as Lemuel Gulliver's cousin. That Dampier had some aid in preparing his work for the press is admitted by himself in the Preface to the Voyage to New Holland. He there refers to the charge that he has “published things digested and drawn up by others,” and he retorts: “I think it so far a diminution to one of my education and employment to have what I write revised and corrected by friends; that on the contrary the best and most eminent authors are not ashamed to own the same thing, and look upon it as an advantage.”
It is difficult, if not impossible, now to discover the extent or nature of the assistance which Dampier obtained. The “copy” of the voyage as printed does not appear to exist, and the Sloane Manuscript account of it is in the clear script of a copyist, the marginal notes only being in Dampier's hand. The manuscript is much shorter than the printed book. It comprises the story of the voyage, but lacks the observations in natural history: on the other hand it includes (1) Wafer's account (taken “out of his own writing”) of his life among the Indians of the Isthmus, (2) the account of the voyage of captain Swan before he joined Dampier's party, and (3) the antecedent adventures of Captain Harris, all of which are omitted from the book. A perplexing factor is that the Sloane Manuscript contains in the copyist's writing the references (A) (B) &c., to the marginal notes afterwards supplied by Dampier. Other marginal notes are added, these indicated by a pointing hand. In some cases the marginal note is incorporated in the book, in others disregarded. Sometimes, too, a jotting from the journal as to an unimportant day's doing is omitted from the book. In some places the printed book alters the manuscript in a material point. Thus the manuscript represents only one step in the preparation of the book text. Being in a copyist's hand, it may be only a fair copy of Dampier's not always quite legible writing: or it may be a version of his journal with some little polish administered by a literary friend. It is clear that his natural history notes were composed and kept separately from his journal. They comprise observations made at various places and at different and often subsequent periods of his travels: and they are sometimes pitch-forked into the book at odd junctures.
May it please you to pardon the boldness of a stranger to your person, if upon the encouragement of common fame, he presumes so much upon your candour, as to lay before you this account of his travels. As the scene of them is not only remote, but for the most part little frequented also, so there may be some things in them new even to you; and some, possibly, not altogether unuseful to the public: and that just veneration which the world pays, as to your general worth, so especially to that zeal for the advancement of knowledge, and the interest of your country, which you express upon all occasions, gives you a particular right to whatever may any way tend to the promoting these interests, as an offering due to your merit. I have not so much of the vanity of a traveller as to be fond of telling stories, especially of this kind; nor can I think this plain piece of mine deserves a place among your more curious collections: much less have I the arrogance to use your name by way of patronage for the too obvious faults, both of the author and the work. Yet dare I avow, according to my narrow sphere and poor abilities, a hearty zeal for the promoting of useful knowledge, and of anything that may never so remotely tend to my country's advantage: and I must own an ambition of transmitting to the public through your hands these essays I have made toward those great ends, of which you are so deservedly esteemed the patron. This has been my design in this publication, being desirous to bring in my gleanings here and there in remote regions to that general magazine of the knowledge of foreign parts, which the Royal Society thought you most worthy the custody of, when they chose you for their President: and if in perusing these papers your goodness shall so far distinguish the experience of the author from his faults as to judge him capable of serving his country, either immediately, or by serving you, he will endeavour by some real proofs to show himself,
Your Most Faithful,
Devoted, Humble Servant,
Before the reader proceed any further in the perusal of this work I must bespeak a little of his patience here to take along with him this short account of it. It is composed of a mixed relation of places and actions in the same order of time in which they occurred: for which end I kept a journal of every day's observations.
In the description of places, their product, etc., I have endeavoured to give what satisfaction I could to my countrymen; though possibly to the describing several things that may have been much better accounted for by others: choosing to be more particular than might be needful, with respect to the intelligent reader, rather than to omit what I thought might tend to the information of persons no less sensible and inquisitive, though not so learned or experienced. For which reason my chief care has been to be as particular as was consistent with my intended brevity in setting down such observables as I met with. Nor have I given myself any great trouble since my return to compare my discoveries with those of others: the rather because, should it so happen that I have described some places or things which others have done before me, yet in different accounts, even of the same things, it can hardly be but there will be some new light afforded by each of them. But after all, considering that the main of this voyage has its scene laid in long tracts of the remoter parts both of the East and West Indies, some of which very seldom visited by Englishmen, and others as rarely by any Europeans, I may without vanity encourage the reader to expect many things wholly new to him, and many others more fully described than he may have seen elsewhere; for which not only in this voyage, though itself of many years continuance, but also several former long and distant voyages have qualified me.
As for the actions of the company among whom I made the greatest part of this voyage, a thread of which I have carried on through it, it is not to divert the reader with them that I mention them, much less that I take any pleasure in relating them: but for method's sake, and for the reader's satisfaction; who could not so well acquiesce in my description of places, etc., without knowing the particular traverses I made among them; nor in these, without an account of the concomitant circumstances: besides, that I would not prejudice the truth and sincerity of my relation, though by omissions only. And as for the traverses themselves, they make for the reader's advantage, how little soever for mine; since thereby I have been the better enabled to gratify his curiosity; as one who rambles about a country can give usually a better account of it than a carrier who jogs on to his inn without ever going out of his road.
As to my style, it cannot be expected that a seaman should affect politeness; for were I able to do it, yet I think I should be little solicitous about it in a work of this nature. I have frequently indeed divested myself of sea-phrases to gratify the land reader; for which the seamen will hardly forgive me: and yet, possibly, I shall not seem complaisant enough to the other; because I still retain the use of so many sea-terms. I confess I have not been at all scrupulous in this matter, either as to the one or the other of these; for I am persuaded that, if what I say be intelligible, it matters not greatly in what words it is expressed.
For the same reason I have not been curious as to the spelling of the names of places, plants, fruits, animals, etc., which in any of these remoter parts are given at the pleasure of travellers, and vary according to their different humours: neither have I confined myself to such names as are given by learned authors, or so much as enquired after many of them. I write for my countrymen; and have therefore, for the most part, used such names as are familiar to our English seamen, and those of our colonies abroad, yet without neglecting others that occurred. As it might suffice me to have given such names and descriptions as I could I shall leave to those of more leisure and opportunity the trouble of comparing these with those which other authors have assigned.
The reader will find as he goes along some references to an appendix which I once designed to this book; as, to a chapter about the winds in different parts of the world; to a description of the Bay of Campeachy in the West Indies, where I lived long in a former voyage; and to a particular chorographical description of all the South Sea coast of America, partly from a Spanish manuscript, and partly from my own and other travellers' observations, besides those contained in this book. But such an appendix would have swelled it too unreasonably: and therefore I chose rather to publish it hereafter by itself, as opportunity shall serve. And the same must be said also as to a particular voyage from Achin in the isle of Sumatra, to Tonquin, Malacca, etc., which should have been inserted as part of this general one; but it would have been too long, and therefore, omitting it for the present, I have carried on this, next way from Sumatra to England; and so made the tour of the world correspondent to the title.
For the better apprehending the course of the voyage and the situation of the places mentioned in it I have caused several maps to be engraven, and some particular charts of my own composure. Among them there is in the map of the American Isthmus, a new scheme of the adjoining Bay of Panama and its islands, which to some may seem superfluous after that which Mr. Ringrose has published in the History of the Buccaneers; and which he offers as a very exact chart. I must needs disagree with him in that, and doubt not but this which I here publish will be found more agreeable to that bay, by one who shall have opportunity to examine it; for it is a contraction of a larger map which I took from several stations in the bay itself. The reader may judge how well I was able to do it by my several traverses about it, mentioned in this book; those, particularly, which are described in the 7th chapter, which I have caused to be marked out with a pricked line; as the course of my voyage is generally in all the maps, for the reader's more easy tracing it.
I have nothing more to add, but that there are here and there some mistakes made as to expression and the like, which will need a favourable correction as they occur upon reading. For instance, the log of wood lying out at some distance from sides of the boats described at Guam, and parallel to their keel, which for distinction's sake I have called the little boat, might more clearly and properly have been called the side log, or by some such name; for though fashioned at the bottom and ends boatwise, yet is not hollow at top, but solid throughout. In other places also I may not have expressed myself so fully as I ought: but any considerable omission that I shall recollect or be informed of I shall endeavour to make up in those accounts I have yet to publish; and for any faults I leave the reader to the joint use of his judgment and candour.
I first set out of England on this voyage at the beginning of the year 1679, in the Loyal Merchant of London, bound for Jamaica, Captain Knapman Commander. I went a passenger, designing when I came thither to go from thence to the Bay of Campeachy in the Gulf of Mexico, to cut log-wood: where in a former voyage I had spent about three years in that employ; and so was well acquainted with the place and the work.
We sailed with a prosperous gale without any impediment or remarkable passage in our voyage: unless that when we came in sight of the island Hispaniola, and were coasting along on the south side of it by the little isles of Vacca, or Ash, I observed Captain Knapman was more vigilant than ordinary, keeping at a good distance off shore, for fear of coming too near those small low islands; as he did once, in a voyage from England, about the year 1673, losing his ship there, by the carelessness of his mates. But we succeeded better; and arrived safe at Port Royal in Jamaica some time in April 1679, and went immediately ashore.
I had brought some goods with me from England which I intended to sell here, and stock myself with rum and sugar, saws, axes, hats, stockings, shoes, and such other commodities, as I knew would sell among the Campeachy log-wood-cutters. Accordingly I sold my English cargo at Port Royal; but upon some maturer considerations of my intended voyage to Campeachy I changed my thoughts of that design, and continued at Jamaica all that year in expectation of some other business.
I shall not trouble the reader with my observations at that isle, so well known to Englishmen; nor with the particulars of my own affairs during my stay there. But in short, having there made a purchase of a small estate in Dorsetshire, near my native country of Somerset, of one whose title to it I was well assured of, I was just embarking myself for England, about Christmas 1679, when one Mr. Hobby invited me to go first a short trading voyage to the country of the Moskitos, of whom I shall speak in my first chapter. I was willing to get up some money before my return, having laid out what I had at Jamaica; so I sent the writing of my new purchase along with the same friends whom I should have accompanied to England, and went on board Mr. Hobby.
Soon after our setting out we came to an anchor again in Negril Bay, at the west end of Jamaica; but finding there Captain Coxon, Sawkins, Sharp, and other privateers, Mr. Hobby's men all left him to go with them upon an expedition they had contrived, leaving not one with him beside myself; and being thus left alone, after three or four days' stay with Mr. Hobby I was the more easily persuaded to go with them too.
It was shortly after Christmas 1679 when we set out. The first expedition was to Portobello; which being accomplished it was resolved to march by land over the Isthmus of Darien upon some new adventures in the South Seas. Accordingly on the 5th of April 1680 we went ashore on the Isthmus, near Golden Island, one of the Samballoes, to the number of between three and four hundred men, carrying with us such provisions as were necessary, and toys wherewith to gratify the wild Indians through whose country we were to pass. In about nine days' march we arrived at Santa Maria and took it, and after a stay there of about three days we went on to the South Sea coast, and there embarked ourselves in such Canoas and periago's as our Indian friends furnished us withal. We were in sight of Panama by the 23rd of April, and having in vain attempted Puebla Nova, before which Sawkins, then commander in chief, and others, were killed, we made some stay at the neighbouring isles of Quibo.
Here we resolved to change our course and stand away to the southward for the coast of Peru. Accordingly we left the keys or isles of Quibo the 6th of June, and spent the rest of the year in that southern course; for, touching at the isles of Gorgona and Plata, we came to Ylo, a small town on the coast of Peru, and took it. This was in October, and in November we went thence to Coquimbo on the same coast, and about Christmas were got as far as the isle of John Fernando, which was the farthest of our course to the southward.
After Christmas we went back again to the northward, having a design upon Arica, a strong town advantageously situated in the hollow of the elbow, or bending, of the Peruvian coast. But being there repulsed with great loss, we continued our course northward, till by the middle of April we were come in sight of the isle of Plata, a little to the southward of the Equinoctial Line.
I have related this part of my voyage thus summarily and concisely, as well because the world has accounts of it already, in the relations that Mr. Ringrose and others have given of Captain Sharp's expedition, who was made chief commander upon Sawkins' being killed; as also because in the prosecution of this voyage I shall come to speak of these parts again, upon occasion of my going the second time into the South Seas: and shall there describe at large the places both of the North and South America as they occurred to me. And for this reason, that I might avoid needless repetitions, and hasten to such particulars as the public has hitherto had no account of, I have chosen to comprise the relation of my voyage hitherto in this short compass, and place it as an Introduction before the rest, that the reader may the better perceive where I mean to begin to be particular; for there I have placed the title of my first chapter.
All therefore that I have to add to the Introduction is this; that, while we lay at the isle of John Fernando, Captain Sharp was, by general consent, displaced from being commander; the company being not satisfied either with his courage or behaviour. In his stead Captain Watling was advanced: but, he being killed shortly after before Arica, we were without a commander during all the rest of our return towards Plata. Now Watling being killed, a great number of the meaner sort began to be as earnest for choosing Captain Sharp again into the vacancy as before they had been as forward as any to turn him out: and on the other side the abler and more experienced men, being altogether dissatisfied with Sharp's former conduct, would by no means consent to have him chosen. In short, by that time we were come in sight of the island Plata, the difference between the contending parties was grown so high that they resolved to part companies; having first made an agreement that, which party soever should upon polling appear to have the majority, they should keep the ship: and the other should content themselves with the launch, or longboat, and Canoas, and return back over the Isthmus, or go to seek their fortune other-ways, as they would.
Accordingly we put it to the vote; and, upon dividing, Captain Sharp's party carried it. I, who had never been pleased with his management, though I had hitherto kept my mind to myself, now declared myself on the side of those that were out-voted; and, according to our agreement, we took our shares of such necessaries as were fit to carry overland with us (for that was our resolution) and so prepared for our departure.
A Map of the World Shewing the Course of Mr. Dampier's Voyage Round it. From 1679 to 1691.
† This map appears in pre-1729 editions, but not in the 1729 edition.—JW.