A Journal made by the Free-Booters into the South-Sea, in 1684. and in the following Years.
By Raveneau de Lussan.
It is no very uncommon thing for a Child that is a Native of Paris, to seek his Fortune abroad, and to entertain a fixed Design of becoming a Man engaged in hazardous Adventures. This City, within which most of the Wonders of the World are contained, and which is perhaps the greatest that can be met with, ought, in my Opinion, to have the Preference of any other upon the Face of the Earth. But who is he that can penetrate into the Secrets of Nature, and give a Reason for some sort of Inclinations she works in the Minds of Mortals?
As for myself, I must confess I am not able to give an Account of the Depth of my Desires; and all that I can say, is, That I have always had a most passionate Disposition for Travel. Scarce was I Seven Years old, when, through some innate Notions, whereof I had not the Mastery, I began to steal out of my Father's House: It's true, my first Rambles were not far, because my Age and Strength would not allow them to be so; but they were so much the more frequent; and I have often given my Parents the trouble to look after me in the Suburbs, and that Place we call la Vilette: However, as I grew up, my Excursions were the larger, and by degrees I accustomed my self to lose a slght of Paris.
This rambling sort of Humour was accompanied with another, which I dare not dignifie with the Name of a Martial one, but was such as wrought in me an ardent Desire to see some Siege or Battle: I could not hear the Noise of the Drum in the Streets without those Transports of Mind, the remembrance whereof does still operate a kind of a vigorous Heat and Joy in me. It so fell out at length, that I met with an Officer, with whom I had but a slender Acquaintance, but my Warlike Genius quickly inclined me to make him my Friend. I looked upon him as a Person who could be very serviceable to me in my Designs; and it was with this Prospect I applied my self to manage him. The Siege of Conde being happily commenced at this time, and he being obliged to serve there with his Company, I made him the offer of a Sword that had hither to done neither good not harm to any Man, but which I was passionately desirous to make use of.
Here was that he gave me the first Instances of his Friendship, for he took me freely along with him, and kept me all the Campaign; at the breaking up whereof returned with him no ways discouraged, or weary War, as the greatest part of them are, who have had but just a Taste of it. And this I tell you was my first Adventure.
The second was not quite so good, for the Success that attended it, tho it was alike agreeable to my Palate, and according to my Heart's Desire. I happen to become a Cadet in the Marine Regiment, but I fell in to the Hands of a Captain, who was wondrous skilful to drain the Children of the Family of their Money; so that this Campaign, wherein I hoped to have done the King some Service, was worn away in Expense. My Father gave more than he should, or I delerved to get my Discharge, and to set me once at full Liberty to take to what I liked best; It was not perhaps his Inclination I should do so, but it was mine, and was not long to seek.
God, who it seems, was not willing to make me of Conceit with the Trade, was so much the better Guide unto me at this time, as I was ill-guided before. For Monsieur the Count d' Avegean, whose personal Merit has sufficiently distinguished him in the Body the French Guards, took me along with him to the Siege of St. Guislain, where I failed not to meet with new Pleasures in the use of Arms, tho it were never so hot.
There were a great many Mens Lives lost at this Siege which yet did not cool the Desires I had to hazard my own: And tho my Parents, who could not well brook this my gadding Humour, were in hopes the Fatigue of War would cure me of it, they were mistaken in this matter; for I was no sooner got upon the Stones of Paris, but I grew weary of being there. I had nothing but Voyages in my Head, and those that were longest and most accompanied with Dangers, appeared to me to be the best.
For a Person never to get out of his Native Countrey, and to be ignorant how the rest of the Earth stands, appear'd to me a matter that should be appropriate to a Woman only; Whereas it was my Judgment, That a Man should never be confined to one Place, and that nothing could suit him better than to make himself acquainted with all those of his own Species. To travel by Land, I thought both long and difficult, and therefore I concluded I could sooner and more safely accomplish my Designs by betaking myself to the Sea; and now you find me ready to go on board.
There was nothing omitted on the part of Parents that were full of tender Affections for an extravagant Child, to divert me from my Resolution; But as to Youngmen, such as I was, it may be said, as is usually done of Womenkind, That what they will, God wills; and to say the Truth, I was over-ruled by my Inclination herein; wherefore when they perceived, that absolutely to oppose my Humour, would make me but the more opiniative; they proposed I should take a Voyage for S. Domingo, where I should find Friends and Protection in case of need; and as this exactly suited both with my Desires and Designs, and that provided I could get to Sea, I did not care whither bound; I very readily obeyed.
Diep was the Place where I embarked, 5th of March, 1679. with greater Satisfaction of Mind than I am well able to express: That Element; which, to the Generality of Men, seems very frightful, appeared to me the most amiable and delightful of any in the World.
The Winds, if I May say so, wrought in me some Delight; for I found that almost every little Blast brought us happily onward on our Way: And I was so overjoyed to find myself in so desirable an Island, that I thought no more of the Hazards my Voyage made me liable to. Let no Man therefore be amazed thereat, if he finds none of them contained in my Journal. And seeing there are other Persons who have been particular enought in their Relation given of this Passage, I have this only to say, that I safely arrived, through the Mercy of God, at S. Domingo.
If any one has the Curiosity to follow me in my remaining Expedition, he must begin from thence.
and from whence I parted on the I continued there, however, for above three Years not only in order to see the Country, but thro such Conjunctures as would not admit me to go out of it; I found myself chained there to a Frenchman; that was so far from deserving the Name of one, that his hardened Malice much better became a Turk.
But what Misery soever I have undergone with him, I freely for give him, being resolved to forget his Name, which shall not mention in this place, because the Laws of Christianity requires it at my Hands; tho as to matter of Charity he is not to expect much of that in me since he on his part has been every way defective in the Exercise thereof upon my Account.
My Patience at last being quite worn out, as being weary of those Cruelties, whereof I saw no end, I made my Complaint to Monsieur de Franquesnay the King's Lieutenant, who acted as Governour since the others Decease; and whose Generosity proved to be a Sanctuary to me, readily consenting to take me to his own House, when I staid six whole Months.
I go a Buccaneering
I had borrowed Money in the mean time, honest Man to repay in My Parents would have been perhaps very willing have paid my Debts, but they could hear nothing from me, nor I from them; and the Letters they sent passed thro such officious Hands, that they spared the Charge of Postage. I was therefore necessitated seek out some other way to free myself; and this found in meeting with that which satisfied the natural Inclination I had for travelling. I bethought myself making one of the Free-Booters Gang, to go a Voyage with them, and to borrow for the Payment of Debts, as much Money as I could from the Spaniards.
Now these sorts of Borrowings have this Advantage attending them, That there is no Obligation of Repayment, as in our Country, they being esteemed the Product of a Just War; and seeing the place Action is beyond the Line, there is no Talk there making any Restitution: Besides which, we may as observe in this place, that there was then a Rupture between the Two Crowns, and that we had a so man Commission from my Lord Admiral to infest Spaniards.
With de Graff
There was no question to be made, but I could find a Captain that would receive me; and I was not long in making the Choice, since there was not many of them at that time to pitch upon. Laurence de Graff was the Man I most fancied, who would make a special Corsair; and tho he had not been long arrived, all that he wanted, was to be gone as well as I.
We were in a few hours time well satisfied with each other, and became such Friends, as those are wont to be, who are about to run the same Risqué of Fortune, and apparently to die together. This last indeed we should have reckoned upon with most appearance of Reason, but it was what we least thought of. My Departure took up all my Thoughts, I furnished my self with Arms and other small Necessaries, at the Charge of Monsieur de Franquesnay, who was very ready to advance me some Money, which I have paid him since, and whose kindness I shall never forget.
At last the day came, and I must freely say, it was, in my Opinion, one of the best in the Course of my Life. On the 22d, of November, in the Year 1684. we departed from Pettit- Guaves, on the Coast of St. Domingo, to the number of 120 Men on Board a Prize taken some time before by Captain Laurence de Graff, from the Spaniards, which they sent as an Advice-boat from Carthagena on the Terra Firma of America, to Spain.
Our Design was to go and join ourselves with a Fleet of Free-Booters, which we were in hopes to meet with before the Havana, a great City in the Isle of Cuba to the North, and about fourteen Leagues distant from St. Domingo.
We anchored on the 4th of December at the Tortoise Island to take in Water, and on the 6th sailed away in order to return to the Coast of St. Domingo, which is but Three Leagues off, and where we arrived the 12th, casting Anchor at Cape Francis, where we took in our full Store of Water and Wood.
We left this Place on the 17th, and were taken with a North- wind two Leagues from the Road in such a manner, that we lost our Shalloop, which was too big to be put upon our Gibbet. Towards Evening we sailed back to a Place of Safety, where we were obliged to stay Two Days waiting for a Canoe we had sent to buy at the Cape, from whence we came, such things as we wanted for making up the Loss of our Chaloop.