Imagens das páginas

pirates, who seemed to have no other motive for risking their lives than to satisfy the rapacity of its inhabitants. The Buccaneering system had, by this time, increased to an amazing extent, the whole force consisting of nearly 4000 men, and upwards of 2000 of these were under the orders of Captain Morgan; indeed, his reputation became so great, that many young men of family quitted Europe, and accepted commands under him. He divided his fleet, of thirty-seven sail, into two squadrons, and appointed officers to each division, with commissions from himself (though purporting to be in the name of the king of England) to commit hostilities against the Spaniards, declaring them enemies to the British crown. They retook Saint Catharine's, and the small island, which was fortified with no less than nine batteries well manned; but, previous to its surrender, they were so much reduced by hunger and the inclemency of the weather, as to consume a wretched half-dead scarecrow of a horse which they found in the fields, and many could not get a morsel even of this. The city of Panama 'was at this time considered the richest of the West, and thithér Morgan, agreeable to his promise, directed his course by the river Chagre. He sent 400 men, under Captain Brodley, in advance, to take the castle, which was effected, though with considerable loss, from its obstinate defence. The whole fleet then anchored in the river, and the commander-inchief selected 1200 men to cross over the Isthmus of Darien with him, for the purpose of taking Panama.

Our limits will not admit of a detailed account of the proceedings, or the severe hardships they underwent—sometimes they were in such a state of starvation (for the supplies they expected to find in the villages had been removed by the Spaniards), that a stray horse or an ass became a delicious banquet, without the trouble of cooking ; and when, at last, they fell in with a herd of cattle, and some droves of asses, their hunger was so excessive, that they scarcely restrained themselves till it was cut up, but gnawed it, raw as it laid, with their teeth. Their road lay over rocks and mountains, and through morasses, that were almost impassable; and they were, likewise, obliged to fight their way through an army, placed in the most difficult part to oppose their progress. On the ninth day, having gained the summit of a lofty mountain, they obtained a view of the South Sea and the Bay of Panama, which filled them with such extravagant joy, that they sounded their trumpets, threw their caps in the air, shouting and dancing, as if they had already obtained a victory. The Spaniards were not idle, but made every preparation to repel the invaders. The following morning, the pirates advanced upon the city, and the President, with two squadrons of horse, and four regiments of foot, came

out to meet them. In addition to this force, the Spaniards had collected an immense number of wild bulls, which were driven in their front by several hundred Indians and Negroes. The Buccaneers, now reduced to less than one thousand, beheld this enemy from the brow of a hill, and their courage began to waver ; but Morgan put fresh vigour in their hearts by his gallant conduct. Two hours' desperate conflict ensued, which ended in the defeat of the Spaniards, after they had lost six hundred killed, and nearly double that number in wounded and prisoners ; but the Buccaneers were too much weakened and wearied to pursue their advantage immediately; therefore, they halted to rest, and then undauntedly continued their march, under a heavy fire of cannon, charged with every kind of destructive missile, which swept down great numbers of men. Another contest of three hours took place, without intermission (neither party giving or receiving quarter), when the Spaniards were compelled to yield, and the Buccaneers entered the town, which, unfortunately, took fire, and continued burning for several days, though every exertion was made to stop it. The monasteries, churches, and nearly 7000 houses, chiefly built with cedar, were entirely consumed.

Morgan remained here one month, loaded 200 beasts of burthen with treasure, and then took his departure, returning down the river Chagre, where, having blown up the castle and fortifications, he once more sailed for Jamaica, leaving most of his companions in a very miserable plight. This daring marauder returned to England, and was well received. He became a commander in the naval service of this country, and obtained the honour of knighthood,

Hitherto the Buccaneers had prosecuted their adventurous schemes without a check from the British government ; but Charles the Second, through the representations of the Spanish court, despatched a man-of-war to supersede the governor of Jamaica, and convey him home to answer the charge of aiding and abetting the pirates in their plunders. The new governor was furnished with authority to suppress the outlaws, and even to execute any one found committing an act of piracy. He was, likewise, directed to employ every method in his power that was best calculated to turn the attention of the inhabitants to more honorable pursuits. This was wise and politic; for Jamaica possessed a great capital, and only wanted a judicious and active promotion of agriculture and commerce, to render it the most flourishing of the British colonies. How far this plan succeeded, must be obvious to every one. It is a remarkable fact, that this country is indebted to the Buccaneers for the possession of Jamaica, as well as the means which has elevated it to its present opulence and prosperity.

Neither the new order of things in the West Indies, nor the rigid and active operations of the governor, could wbolly put a stop to the proceedings of the pirates ; and, though they never assembled in such large bodies as under Morgan, yet their numerical force was undiminished, and their plunderings greater than before. Driven from Jamaica, the other small islands constantly afforded them protection and refuge, till a fleet of men-of-war took its station, as cruizers, to support the trade, and they were compelled to seek their desperate fortunes on the western coast of America ; passing round Cape Horn, and then circumnavigating the globe, those whose lives were spared once more reached their native land. History affords no parallel to the Buccaneers; - men, who were a pest to society, and yet produced beneficial results of the most remarkable kind. In their actions, we find a mixture of the most opposite feelings and principles : undauntedly brave, and cowardly brutal; full of justice and honour to each other, and yet a remorseless banditti; governed by wise laws among themselves, and indulging in every intemperate passion. But, let us look at them as we will, justice compels the acknowledgment, that they were the basis of our naval glory.

It would be almost an endless task to enumerate the various acts of the intrepid men, who followed the career of Morgan. The Isthmus of Darien became a path to the South Seas, where persons of all nations were constantly crossing, and by that means the ships were perpetually supplied with men, many of whom were intelligent and scientific, compelled through poverty, or prompted by a roving disposition, to risk their lives for the acquisition of gold or fame.

We have already, in a previous number, mentioned some of the later transactions of the Buccaneers, who kept the Spanish settlements in continual alarm. The prizes were, however, then sent to England, instead of Jamaica. It is not many years since that the plunder of the Spanish churches afforded our tars a characteristic source of amusement; and, on their touching at St. Helena, in their passage home, it was by no means uncommon to see the Virgin Mary, or one of the Apostles, disposed of in exchange for a bottle of rum or a pound of tobacco.

Before closing our article, it may not be amiss briefly to contrast the prosperity of the British and Spanish settlements in America. Both were first peopled (or nearly so) by the dissolute and abandoned; but the Spaniards, yielding to that worst enemy of liberty, priestcraft, were not able to emerge from the dark obscurity of ignorance and bigotry. The country they had conquered, luxuriant in the productions of nature, abounded also with mines of precious metals, while the numerous herds of wild cattle were a never-failing supply of food. Fish, flesh, and fowl, of the inost delicate nature, were easily obtained, and the most delicious fruits grew spontaneously. Literature was almost wholly unknown, and religion consisted of pompous ceremonies and splendid pageantry. The arts and sciences remained in a state of contemptible degeneracy; and, though possessed of a land teeming with the richest profusion in the animal and vegetable creation, yet natural history continued as uncultivated as their soil. Thus it has remained, till within these few years, that the light of knowledge has dawned upon them. The mind has shaken off its fetters, and the hands have freed themselves. British America possessed but few temptations beyond the fertility of its soil; yet this, in itself, when under the hands of perseverance and industry, became a source of wealth, far surpassing the gold mines of the Spaniards, and produced a much more substantial good; for, while Spain revelled in the produce of her colonies, and sunk into indolence and enervation, the enterprising sons of Britain were stimulated to active exertion in the cultivation of the arts of agriculture and commerce, which rendered them more brave in the defence of their territory, and procured them those blessings which are alone worth defending.

ART.VIII.-The Works of William Drummond, of Hawthornden.

Consisting of those which were formerly printed, and those which were designed for the Press. Published from the Author's Original Copies. Edinburgh: printed by James Watson,

in Craig's-Closs, 1711. Folio. The Poems of William Drummond, of Hawthornden. London:

E. Jeffery, Pall-Mall, 1790. 8vo.

We have given the title-page of the folio edition of Drummond's Works, out of respect to our antiquarian.and bibliographical readers, and because we shall have occasion, frequently, to refer to it; but, as we mean to limit our notice to his poetry, decidedly the most valuable part, the later and less expensive edition will be quite sufficient for the purposes of the general reader; and, though comparatively modern, it is old enough for half the original works, contemporary with it, to have sunk into “ dumb forgetfulness," and to have done their better service at the trunk-makers. Neither is the folio always to be met with, should the reader be desirous of procuring it. We know not, indeed, how to account for its extreme rarity. We sought for it at more than a dozen bookVOL. IX. PART 1.

2 A

Museum, or any other public library in London.

Drummond, of Hawthornden, is a name familiar as a “ household word” to most men; but, from our little experience, we are inclined to believe that, to the great majority, he is nothing but a name. He has been adduced as evidence, and cavilled at-rated high, and, to use the word more familiarly, rated soundly—just as it suited the purpose of critics and commentators; but, reading him, without reference to what he has been made to say for and against Ben Jonson, seems to have been out of the question. This appears strange to us. Wherever his name has been dragged forward, it is necessarily coupled with the circumstance of Ben Jonson's admiration of his genius; probably with the current tale of the latter having travelled on foot to Scotland, out of love and respect for him; and, surely, the man that Jonson valued so highly, could not deserve to be altogether forgotten. But, is it not the fact, that Jonson himself is very little known? The modern edition, with the consequent notice in the reviews, “ 'Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, little dogs and all,” may and does make people talk of him ;-some of his plays, too, still keep possession of the stage ;-but, of any knowledge beyond this, can it be said that the public generally have it? The current opinion of the man, and of his genius, are proofs to the contrary. With some few exceptions, even in our literature, the warm-hearted humanity of his disposition, and the delicacy of his writings, have been unnoticed. But, as far as his literary characteris concerned, we hope shortly, if any of our readers have taken it on trust, to satisfy them of their error, by a notice of his minor poems; than which none more delicate, more harmonious, or more simply beautiful, are to be met with in the language. If, however, the greater works of Jonson have slept in comparative quiet, Drummond has no right to complain. His learning, natural and acquired, his power, his sense of the beautiful, his delicacy, his imagination, were altogether inferior : but, though second to Jonson, he was no ordinary man, and few second-rate poets are more deserving an attentive consideration. Before we enter into a particular notice of his works, we must say something of the man, without which the key to his poetry would be wanting.

Drummond was the son of Sir John Drummond, of Haw

that he should follow the civil law; but, either the necessity ceasing, or the study not agreeing with his disposition, he abandoned it on his father's death, and retired to his paternal estate. He seems to have been all his life of a delicate constitution, and of retired and studious habits; and the death of a

« AnteriorContinuar »