Pirates and Piracy

This is one of the most glorious books I have ever read. Originally published in 1914, this is a faithful reproduction, complete with prints and distinctly politically incorrect language. So you know it is entertaining. It also deals with piracy through the ages, only spending a little time to dwell upon the Caribbean and instead tells the tales of the North African corsairs, pirates dwelling in European waters and some from Arab waters. It also has interesting stories not often told, like John Rawlins, an enslaved Englishman who led a contingent of fellow enslaved Europeans to freedom, and Lieutenant Hall, who captured an Arab fortress singlehandedly one night. The combination of not the normal pirate stories + inspiring prints (the best of which are below) + random racism and old school words makes this an excellent read.

And now for some of the quotes:

  • ...became for the next three centuries a scourge of the Mediterranean, a terror to ships and men, inflicted all the cruelties which the fanaticism of the Moslem race is capable of.
  • He is like the gypsy or the vagrant: he has in him an overwhelming longing for wandering and adventure.
  • Even today, in this highly civilised century, if you were to be becalmed off the coast of North Africa in a sailing yacht, you would find some of the descendants of these Barbarian corsairs coming out with their historical tendency to kill you and pillage your ship.
  • "You shall finde it such, that any wise man would rather live amongst wilde beasts than pirates."
  • But being English and a gallant crew, they decided to fight.
  • Simultaneously the English poured out from their guns a hotter fire than ever, and the Turks fell like ninepins.
  • He found that these Tunis pirates were obstinate and wilful: they were unprepared to listen to any reason. Intractable and insolent, it was impossible to treat with them: force was the only word to which they could be made to hearken.
  • But Tunis was invulnerable, so it was a most difficult undertaking.
  • For these inhuman Moslems, these vipers of Africa, these monsters of the sea, having caught a Christian in their net would next set about trying to make him change his Christianity for Mohammedanism.
  • ...or thrashing him without mercy till he would consent to become a Moslem.
  • These Moslems never went to sea without their Hoshea or wizard, and this person would, by his charlatanism, persuade these incapable mariners what to do and how to act. Every second or third night, after arriving at the open sea, this wizard would go through various ceremonies, consult his book of wizardry, and from this he would advise the captain as to what sails ought to be taken in, or what sails to be set. The whole idea was thoroughly ludicrous to the rude, common-sense Devonshire seamen, who marvelled that these infidels could be so foolish.
  • But one of the other Turks was on deck, and at this incident, he broke out into a great rage. This was but short-lived, for an Englishman stepped up to him, dashed out his brains and threw his body overboard.
  • The Spaniards were becoming more and more aggressive towards the English in the West Indies, and it was essential that they should be given a severe lesson before worse events occurred.
  • The Persian Gulf is to this day not quite the peaceful corner of the globe that undoubtedly some day it will become. [Note: This optimism tickled me pink]
  • He, however, like the sneaking cur that was so characteristic of this Dago crew...
  • The weather got from bad to worse and the night was as black as a nigger's head. [Note: Although the author has used terms like Dago etc, I was surprised to see this statement unedited in the book, particularly as the author himself described the slave-trade as "abhorrent". I suppose it was just different times]
  • One of the chief characteristics of these Dyaks was their passion for collecting human heads. It is difficult for a civilised person to understand this propensity, but head-hunting was not merely a sport, but the accumulation of heads was looked upon as the essential possessions of manhood.
  • Our losses were nil and only a few men wounded in trying to prevent these men sinking with sword and shield still in their wicked hands.
  • But when the nooses of rope were put over the head of each the effect was magical. So soon as the rope touched their yellow skin their manner was altered and their memories suddenly awoke from their untruthful stupor.


Copyright © 2008 - Gavin's Book Log - is proudly powered by Blogger
Blogger Template