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| CHAPTER XIV.
The Buccaneers depart from the Port of Hilo, and sail to that of Coquimbo. They are descried before their arrival. Notwithstanding they land: are encountered by the Spaniards, and put them to flight. They take, plunder, and fire the City of la Serena. A description thereof. A Stratagem of the Spaniards in endeavouring to fire their ship, discovered and prevented. They are deceived again by the Spaniards, and forced to retire from Coquimbo, without any ransom for the City, or considerable pillage. They release several of their chief Prisoners.
THE next morning (being Wednesday, November 3rd, 1679), about seven o'clock, we set sail from Hilo, standing directly off to 'sea, with a small land-wind. Upon the shore we could not discover this morning, above fifty men of our enemies forces, which caused us to suspect the rest were run away from their colours, and had deserted in the dark of the night. If this were so we were equally afraid of each other, and as we quitted the land, being jealous of their multitudes, so they abandoned their stations for fear of our encounters. All the while we lay in the port of Hilo, we had a fresh wind, but now being come out thence, we found it was almost stark calm. Hereabouts runs a great sea all along this coast, as we experimented at Arica; insomuch that there is no landing except under the favour of some rock or other.
November 4th, in the morning, we saw the port of Hilo at E.N.E. at the distance of nine leagues more or less, from the land. The white sand gives a bright reflection over the land, which we could see after we had lost sight of the land itself.
The next day to this, we had an indifferent fresh wind at S.S.E. We reckoned a S.W. half W. way, and by it, that we had made twenty leagues. The day was very fair and sunshiny, and the sea very smooth.
November 6th. We had a clear night the last past, and the day proved very fair and clear, like the former. We reckoned by a S.W. by W. way, about twenty-one leagues. In the afternoon it was almost stark calm.
On the following day we had in like manner very little wind, no more than the last twenty-four hours. We were now about this time many of us very much troubled and diseased with the scurvy. It proceeded as we judged, from the great hardship and want of provisions which we had endured for several months past, as having had only bread and water, as was mentioned above. Only at Hilo we killed a mule, which gave to those who would eat of the flesh a very good meal, as we esteemed it, the Spaniards having swept away with them all other provisions of flesh. But there we had plundered some small quantity of good chocolate, whereof the Spaniards make infinite use. So that now we had each morning a dish of that pleasant liquor, containing almost a pint.
Next day likewise we had very little wind, as before. We made an observation this day, and found lat. 20° 05’ S.
November 9th we had still very little wind, and that variable. We took almost every hour an observation, and found ourselves to be in lat. 20° 18' S.
The 10th we had in like manner but little wind, as for so many days before. We observed an E.S.E current, or nearest to it, to run hereabouts. This day we saw the horning of a very high land, which we much admired, for at this time I conceived we could not be less than thirty-five or forty leagues distant from land. We supposed it to he Mora Tarapaca. That day we set up our shrouds.
Upon the 11th an indifferent gale of wind sprang up at S.W by S., by which we made twenty-five leagues and one third. We had now a great S.S.W. sea. In the night the wind we found, came one or two points from the land. This morning we saw the like homing of land, whereby we were made sensible that it was no land which we had seen the day before.
On the 12th we had several mists of rain, with windy weather. We made by a S.S.W. half S. way, twenty-five leagues and one third. We had likewise a great and rolling S.S.W. sea, as the day before.
The 13th of the said month we had both cloudy and misty weather. We made a S.S.W. and one quarter S. way by which we ran fifty leagues.
But the next day, fair and clear weather came about again. We had likewise an easy gale of wind, by which we made a S.W. way, and advanced twenty-two leagues and a half.
On November 15th, we had also clear weather, and an indifferent gale of wind. Our way was S.W. by W., by which we reckoned eighteen leagues. Likewise that our westing from Hilo, whence we had set forth, was one hundred and fourteen leagues and one third. By observation we found lat. 23° 25'. I took now the declination-table used and made by the cosmographer of Lima.
Tuesday, November 16th. Last night we had a shower or two of rain. By observation, we found lat. 23° 35' S.
The 17th we made a S.W. by W. half S. way. By observation we found lat. 23° 46' S. with very little wind.
The 18th upon a S.W. by W. way, we made twenty-one leagues. By observation we found lat. 24° 20' S.
Friday, November 19th, 1680. This morning about an hour before day, we observed a comet to appear a degree N. from the bright in Libra. The body thereof seemed dull, and its tail extended itself eighteen or twenty degrees in length, being of a pale colour, and pointing directly N.N.W. Our prisoners hereupon reported to us that the Spaniards had seen very strange sights, both at Lima, the capital city of Peru, Guayaquil, and other places, much about the time of our coming into the South Seas. I reckoned this day we had run twenty leagues by a S.W. way.
The day following the appearance of the comet, we had many storms of wind at S.S.E. and E.S.E. Our reckoning by a S.W. by W. way, was twenty-two leagues.
Sunday, November 21st, we had likewise many gusts of wind, such as the day before, with frequent showers of rain. The wind varied, to and fro, according as the clouds drew it here and there. We reckoned a S.S.W. way, and by it twenty-one leagues and a half. In all, W. from Hilo, we judged ourselves to be one hundred and seventy-eight leagues and two thirds. We had this day a great S.W. Sea, and cloudy weather. I supposed our latitude to be 26° 53' S.
November 22nd we had in like manner cloudy weather, and now but little wind. We reckoned a S. way, and fifty one leagues.
The 23rd we had very little wind, all the storm, after the appearance of the comet, being now quite allayed. We reckoned we had made a S.E. by E. way. By observation, found lat. 27° 46' S.
Wednesday, November 24th. All the last twenty-four hours we had a N.W. wind. Our way was S.E. half. S. by which we reckoned thirty-one leagues and one third.
The 25th. Last night the wind blew at W.S.W. but this morning it came about again at N.W. as the day before. Our reckoning this day was a S.E. and one quarter E. way, twenty-nine leagues and one third. Lat., by observation, 39° 57' S. Our difference of meridian 135 1/3.
November 26th. In the night the wind started to S.S.W., but this day at noon we had little better than a calm. I reckoned an E.S.E. half E. way, and by it twenty-three leagues.
Saturday 27th. Yesterday in the evening the wind came to S. I reckoned an E., and something S. way, and by that, twenty-three leagues, as the day before this.
November 28th. All the last twenty-four hours we enjoyed a fresh wind at S.S.E. having a high S.W. sea. Our reckoning was an E. by N. and half N. way, and withal twenty-four leagues. By observation, lat. 30° 16' S. and meridian distance eighty-eight leagues. At noon the wind came at S. half E.
On the 29th we had a very great S.W. sea; and withal cloudy weather. My reckoning was by an E. one third S. way, twenty leagues and one third. This day we happened to see two or three great fowls flying in the air, concerning which our pilot told us, that they used to appear seventy or eighty leagues off from the island, called Juan Fernandez. The day before this, Captain Peralta, our prisoner, was taken very frantic, his distemper being occasioned, as we thought, through too much hardship and melancholy. Notwithstanding, this present day he became indifferent well again.
The following day we had likewise cloudy weather. We made, according to our account, an E. half N. way, and by it sixteen leagues and two thirds. Our meridian difference fifty-two leagues.
December 1st. We had hazy weather, and withal an indifferent good wind at S., yea, sometimes S. by W. Our way was E. by S. by which we reckoned twenty-two leagues. The night before this day, we sailed over white water like banks, of a mile in length, or more. But these banks, upon examination, we found to be only great shoals of anchovies.
On December 2nd, very early in the morning, we espied land, which appeared to be very high. About noon this day we were six leagues distance from it. All the preceding night we had so much wind that we were forced to make use only of a pair of courses. By an observation made this day, we found lat. 30° 35' S. We went away largely, driving better than nine leagues every watch. With this wind we made all the sail we possibly could, designing by this means to get into Coquimbo, upon which coast we now were, before night. But the wind was so high, that sometimes we were forced to lower all our sail, it blowing now a mere fret of wind. Towards the evening it abated by degrees, insomuch, that at midnight it was stark calm again. At that time we hoisted out our launch and canoes, and putting into them one hundred men, we rowed away from the ship, with design to take by surprisal a considerable city, situated nigh to the coast, called by the Spaniards, la Ciudad de la Serena.
Friday, December 3rd, 1679. When we departed from the ship, we had above two leagues, more or less, to row to the shore. But as it happened, the launch (wherein I was) rowed so heavily in comparison to the canoes, that we could not keep pace with the said boats: For this reason, and no other, it was broad day before we got to a certain store-house, situated upon the shore; the which we found our men had passed by in the dark of the night, without perceiving it. They being landed, immediately marched away from their canoes, towards the city aforementioned of la Serena, but they had not proceeded far on their march, when they found, to the great sorrow and chagrin of us all, that we were discovered here also, as we had been at the other two places before, to wit, Arica and Hilo. For as they marched in a body together, being but thirty-five men in all, who were all those that were landed out of the canoes, they were suddenly encountered and engaged by a whole troop of an hundred Spanish horse. We that were behind hearing the noise of the dispute, followed them at their heels, and made all the haste we possibly could to come up to their relief. But before we could reach the place of battle, they had already routed the Spaniards, and forced them to fly away towards the town.
Notwithstanding this rout given to the horse, they rallied again, at a distance of about a mile from that place, and seemed as if they did wait for us, and would engage us anew. But as soon as all our forces were come together, whereof we could make but fourscore and eight men in all, the rest being left behind to guard the boats, we marched towards them and offered them battle. As we came nigh to them we clearly found they designed no such thing, for they instantly retired and rode away before us, keeping out of the reach of our guns. We followed them as they rode, being led by them designedly clear out of the road that went to the town, that we might not reach nor find it so soon. In this engagement with the horse, our company had killed three of their chief men, and wounded four more, killing also four of their horses. When we found that we had been led by this stratagem of the enemy out of the way of the town, we left the bay, and crossed over the green fields to find it; wading oftentimes over several branches of water, which there serve to enclose each plot of ground. Upon this march we came to several houses, but found them all empty, and swept clean both of inhabitants and provisions. We saw likewise several horses and other heads of cattle in the fields, as we went along towards the City. This place of la Serena our pilot had reported to us to be but a small town, but being arrived there, we found in it no fewer than seven great churches and one chapel belonging thereto. Four of these churches were monasteries or convents, and each church had its organ for the performance of divine service. Several of the houses had their orchards of fruit, and gardens, belonging to them, both houses and gardens being as well and as neatly furnished as those in England. In these gardens we found strawberries as big as walnuts, and very delicious to the taste. In a word, everything in this city of la Serena, was most excellent and delicate, and far beyond what we could expect in so remote a place. The town was inhabited by all sorts of tradesmen, and besides them, had its merchants, some of which were accounted to be very rich.
The inhabitants of la Serena, upon our approach and discovery, were all fled, carrying with them whatever was most precious of their goods and jewels, or less cumbersome to them. Much of their valuable things they had likewise concealed or buried, having had time since we were first discovered, so to do. Besides, they had had warning enough to beware of us, sent them over land from Arica, and several other places where we had landed or been descried at sea. Notwithstanding, we took in the town one friar, and two Chilenos, or Spaniards, natives of the Kingdom of Chile, which adjoins that of Peru, towards the Straits of Magellan. These prisoners related to us, that the Spaniards, when they heard of our coming, had killed most of the Chilian slaves, fearing lest they should run or revolt from them to us. Moreover, that we had been descried from their coasts four days before our arrival, or descent upon land; all which time they had employed in carrying away their plate and goods. To this information they added, that for their defence they had received a supply of sixty men from Arica. Having taken possession of the town, that evening there came a Negro to us, running away from the Spaniards. He likewise informed us, that when we were before Panama, we had taken a Negro, who was esteemed to be the best pilot in all the South Sea, but more especially for this place and all the coasts of Coquimbo. Moreover, that if the Spaniards had not sent all the Negroes belonging to this city farther up into the country, out of our reach and communication, they would all undoubtedly have revolted to us.
night about midnight our boatswain, accompanied by forty
men, and having a Chilian for their guide, went out of the
town some miles within the country, with design to find
out the places where the Spaniards lay concealed, and had
hid their goods and plate. But before they came, the
Spaniards had received intelligence thereof from some
secret spies they had in the town, and both the men and
their women were all fled to places that were more occult
and remote. So that by this search, they only found an old
Indian woman and three children, but no gold nor plate,
nor yet any other prisoners. This morning our ship came to
an anchor, by the store-house above-mentioned, named
Tortuga, at the distance of a furlong from shore, in seven
fathom water. While we were quartered in the town, I took
this following ground-plate thereof.
The next morning, being Saturday, December 4th, there came into the town a flag of truce from the enemy. Their message was to proffer a ransom for the town to preserve it from burning; for now they began to fear we would set fire to it, as having found no considerable booty or pillage therein. The captains, or chief commanders of both sides, met about this point, and agreed betwixt them for the sum of 95,000 pieces of eight to be the price of the whole ransom. In the afternoon of this day, I was sent down to the bay of Coquimbo, with a party of twenty men, to carry thither both goods taken in the town, and provisions for the ship. It is two leagues and a half from the town to the port; one league on the bay, the rest being a very great road, which leads from the bay to the city. The Spaniards promised that the ransom should be collected and paid in by the next day. This day also there died one of our Negro slaves on board the ship.
The following day in the morning, I returned back to the town, with the men I had brought down the day before. Only six of them I left behind, to look after our canoes at the end of the bay. When I came up into the city, I found that the Spaniards had broken their promise, and had not brought in the ransom they had agreed for; but had begged more time until to-morrow at eight in the forenoon. This evening another party of our men went down to the ship, to carry goods, such as we had pillaged in the town. Moreover, that night about nine o'clock, happened an earthquake, which we were very sensible of, as we were all together in the church of San Juan, where our chief rendezvous and Corps du Garde was kept. In the night the Spaniards opened a sluice, and let the water run in streams about the town, with intent either to overflow it, and thereby force us out of the place, or at least that they might the easier quench the flame, in case we should fire the town.
the next morning we set fire to the town, perceiving it to
be overflowed, and that the Spaniards had not performed,
or rather that they never designed to perform their
promise. We fired, as nigh as we could, every house in the
whole town, to the intent it might be totally reduced to
ashes. Thus we departed from la Serena, carrying with us
what plunder we could find, having sent two parties
before, loaded with goods to the ship, as was mentioned
above. As we marched down to the bay, we beat up an
ambuscade of two hundred and fifty horse, which lay by the
way in private, with an intent to fall on our men, in case
we had sent down any other party again with goods to the
ship. When we came to the sea-side, being half way to our
ship, we received advice that the Spaniards had
endeavoured, by an unusual stratagem, to burn our ship,
and by these means destroy us all. They acted thus: They
blew up a horse's hide like a bladder, and upon this float
a man ventured to swim from shore, and come under the
stern of our ship. Being arrived there, he crammed oakum
and brimstone, and other combustible matter, between the
rudder and the stern-post. Having done this, he fired it
with a match, so that in a small time, our rudder was on
fire, and all the ship in a smoke. Our men both alarmed
and amazed with this smoke, ran up and down the ship,
suspecting the prisoners to have fired the vessel, thereby
to get their liberty and seek our destruction. At last
they found out where the fire was, and had the good
fortune to quench it before its going too far. As soon as
they had put it out, they sent the boat ashore, and found
both the hide afore-mentioned, and the match burning at
both ends, whereby they became acquainted with the whole
matter. When we came to the store-house on the shore-side,
we set at liberty the friar, our prisoner, and another
gentleman who was become our hostage for the performance
of the ransom. Moreover, when we came aboard, we sent away
and set at liberty Captain Peralta, Don Thomas de
Argandona, Don Baltazar, Don Christoval, Captain Juan, the
Pilot's Mate, the old Moor, and several others of our
chief prisoners. To this release of our prisoners we were
moved, partly because we knew not well what to do with
them, and partly because we feared lest by the example of
this stratagem, they should plot our destruction in
earnest, and by the help of so many men, especially
persons of quality, be able to go through with it.