2/6/11

A Literary Voyage

The Bachelor Frigate set sail from the island of Guam on March 22, 1710, and in its wake were two smaller ships loaded with supplies. The Englishman in command of the little fleet had just pulled off a spectacular coup. On the run from the Spanish navy in a stolen ship sorely in need of repairs and his crew starving for rations and medical treatment, the Captain snuck right under their noses – not just for a brave moment but for eleven whole days. A simple letter explaining that he was a great friend to the Spanish despite his government’s position, capped with a not-so-subtle hint of the power of his cannons, had garnered him an open-armed welcome. He’d even dined at the Governor’s mansion while graciously accepting gifts of valuable cloth and slaves. It was this latter part that probably landed the Governor a four year jail term after the investigation was completed.

Privateers. Most nations at one time or another have employed them during times of hostility: men whose patriotism is kindled by personal profit. During peacetime they’re called pirates, and the captain of the fleet was one of the best at his job. Ordinarily, this might have been enough to land him a paragraph in the history books.

Upon his return to England though, the Captain added to his legacy with a book about his experiences sailing ‘round the world, making fools of the Spanish, and it sold like limes in a scurvy-ward. However, this literary jaunt of Woodes Rogers was just the tip of the iceberg. For among the crew that sailed out of Guam that day was a pair of men whose lives would inspire two of the classics of western literature: Alexander Selkirk and Simon Hatley, respectively remembered as Robinson Crusoe and the Ancient Mariner.

5 comments:

Karinann said...

"Limes in a scurvy ward"- love that line. Very clever pirate. Thanks as always for the links- I especially enjoyed the background on the Ancient Mariner.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks Karinann. As is usual with a lot of the stories I write here, I just happen to stumble upon something more interesting than what I originally planned. The story initially was on something unrelated, but paths opened up as I veered off my course. I at first had no idea about Simon Hatley either.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

You make me want to get on a ship--even for one of those packaged cruises--just in case I end up rubbing shoulders with some people whose greatness the world will someday recognise. But it'll be like the lottery . . .

cyurkanin said...

I took a lot of time pondering your comment and all the images and scenarios and possibilities and how they could be found anywhere, even on the bus out front and even within ourselves, but I guess it all boils down to "Yeah, me too" ;)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

It reminds me of the saying, "You know you're famous when people are bragging that they sat next to you in school."