The Miserable End of Lolonois
Lolonois makes new preparations to make the city of St. James de Leon; as also that of Nicaragua; where he miserably perishes.
Lolonois had got great repute at Tortuga by this last voyage, because he brought home such considerable profit; and now he need take no great care to gather men to serve under him, more coming in voluntarily than he could employ; every one reposing such confidence in his conduct that they judged it very safe to expose themselves, in his company, to the greatest dangers. He resolved therefore a second voyage to the parts of Nicaragua, to pillage there as many towns as he could.
Having published his new preparations, he had all his men together at the time, being about seven hundred. Of these he put three hundred aboard the ship he took at Maracaibo, and the rest in five other vessels of lesser burthen; so that they were in all six ships. The first port they went to was Bayaha in Hispaniola, to victual the fleet, and take in provisions; which done, they steered their course to a port called Matamana, on the south side of Cuba, intending to take here all the canoes they could; these coasts being frequented' by the fishers of tortoises, who carry them hence to the Havannah. They took as many of them, to the great grief of those miserable people, as they thought necessary; for they had great use for these small bottoms, by reason the port they designed for had not depth enough for ships of any burthen. Hence they took their course towards the cape Gracias a Dios on the continent, in latitude 15 deg. north, one hundred leagues from the Island de los Pinos. Being at sea, they were taken with a sad and tedious calm, and, by the agitation of the waves alone, were thrown into the gulf of Honduras: here they laboured hard in vain to regain what they had lost, both the waters and the winds being contrary; besides, the ship wherein Lolonois was embarked could not follow the rest; and what was worse, they wanted provisions. Hereupon, they were forced to put into the first port they could reach, to revictual: so they entered with their canoes into the river Xagua, inhabited by Indians, whom they totally destroyed, finding great quantities of millet, and many hogs and hens: not contented with which, they determined to remain there till the bad weather was over, and to pillage all the towns and villages along the coast of the gulf. Thus they passed from one place to another, seeking still more provisions, with which they were not sufficiently supplied. Having searched and rifled many villages, where they found no great matter, they came at last to Puerto Cavallo: here the Spaniards have two store-houses to keep the merchandises that are brought from the inner parts of the country, till the arrival of the ships. There was then in the port a Spanish ship of twenty-four guns, and sixteen pedreros or mortar-pieces: this ship was immediately seized by the pirates, and then drawing nigh the shore, they landed, and burnt the two storehouses, with all the rest of the houses there. Many inhabitants likewise they took prisoners, and committed upon them the most inhuman cruelties that ever heathens invented; putting them to the cruellest tortures they could devise. It was the custom of Lolonois, that having tormented persons not confessing, he would instantly cut them in pieces with his hanger, and pull out their tongues, desiring to do so, if possible, to every Spaniard in the world. It often happened that some of these miserable prisoners, being forced by the rack, would promise to discover the places where the fugitive Spaniards lay hid, which not being able afterwards to perform, they were put to more cruel deaths than they who were dead before.
The prisoners being all dead but two (whom they reserved to show them what they desired), they marched hence to the town of San Pedro, or St. Peter, ten or twelve leagues from Puerto Cavallo, being three hundred men, whom Lolonois led, leaving behind him Moses van Vin his lieutenant, to govern the rest in his absence. Being come three leagues on their way, they met with a troop of Spaniards, who lay in ambuscade for their coming: these they set upon, with all the courage imaginable, and at last totally defeated. Howbeit, they behaved themselves very manfully at first; but not being able to resist the fury of the pirates, they were forced to give way, and save themselves by flight, leaving many pirates dead in the place, some wounded, and some of their own party maimed, by the way. These Lolonois put to death without mercy, having asked them what questions he thought fit for his purpose.
There were still remaining some few prisoners not wounded; these were asked by Lolonois, if any more Spaniards did lie farther on in ambuscade? They answered, there were. Then being brought before him, one by one, he asked if there was no other way to town but that. This he did to avoid if possible those ambuscades. But they all constantly answered him they knew none. Having asked them all, and finding they could show him no other way, Lolonois grew outrageously passionate; so that he drew his cutlass, and with it cut open the breast of one of those poor Spaniards, and pulling out his heart began to bite and gnaw it with his teeth, like a ravenous wolf, saying to the rest, "I will serve you all alike, if you show me not another way."
Hereupon, those miserable wretches promised to show him another way, but withal, they told him, it was extremely difficult, and laborious. Thus to satisfy that cruel tyrant, they began to lead him and his army; but finding it not for his purpose as they had told him, he was forced to return to the former way, swearing with great choler and indignation, "Mort Dieu, les Espagnols me le payeront. "By God's death, the Spaniards shall pay me for this."
Next day he fell into another ambuscade, which he assaulted with such horrible fury, that in less than an hour's time he routed the Spaniards, and killed the greatest part of them. The Spaniards thought by these ambuscades better to destroy the pirates, assaulting them by degrees, and for this reason had posted themselves in several places. At last he met with a third ambuscade, where was placed a party stronger, and more advantageously, than the. former: yet notwithstanding, the pirates, by continually throwing little fire-balls in great numbers, for some time, forced this party, as well as the former, to flee, and this with so great loss of men, that before they could reach the town, the greatest part of the Spaniards were either killed or wounded. There was but one path which led to the town, very well barricaded with good defences; and the rest of the town round was planted with shrubs called raqueltes, full of thorns very sharp pointed. This sort of fortification seemed stronger than the triangles used in Europe, when an army is of necessity to pass by the place of an enemy; it being almost impossible for the pirates to traverse those shrubs. The Spaniards posted behind the said defence's, seeing the pirates come, began to ply them with their great guns; but these perceiving them ready to fire, used to stoop down, and when the shot was made, to fall upon the defendants with fire-balls and naked swords, killing many of the town: yet notwithstanding, not being able to advance any farther, they retired, for the present: then they renewed the attack with fewer men than before, and observing not to shoot till they were very nigh, they gave the Spaniards a charge so dexterously, that with every shot they killed an enemy.
The attack continuing thus eager on both sides till night, the Spaniards were compelled to hang forth a white flag, and desired to come to a parley: the only conditions they required were, "that the pirates should give the inhabitants quarter for two hours." This little time they demanded with intent to carry away and hide as much of their goods and riches as they could, and to fly to some other neighbouring town. Granting this article, they entered the town, and continued there the two hours, without committing the least hostility on the inhabitants; but no sooner was that time past, than Lolonois ordered that the inhabitants should be followed, and robbed of all they had carried away; and not only their goods, but their persons likewise to be made prisoners; though the greatest part of their merchandise and goods were so hid, as the pirates could not find them, except a few leathern sacks, filled with anil, or indigo.
Having stayed here a few days, and, according to their custom, committed most horrid insolences, they at last quitted the place, carrying away all they possibly could, and reducing the town to ashes. Being come to the seaside, where they left a party of their own, they found these had been cruising upon the fishermen thereabouts, or who came that way from the river of Guatemala: in this river was also expected a ship from Spain. Finally, they resolved to go toward the islands on the other side of the gulf, there to cleanse and careen their vessels; but they left two canoes before the coast, or rather the mouth of the river of Guatemala, in order to take the ship, which, as I said, was expected from Spain.
But their chief intent in going hither was to seek provisions, knowing the tortoises of those places are excellent food. Being arrived, they divided themselves, each party choosing a fit post for that fishery. They undertook to knit nets with the rinds of certain trees called macoa, whereof they make also ropes and cables; so that no vessel can be in need of such things, if they can but find the said trees. There are also many places where they find pitch in so great abundance, that running down the sea-coasts, being melted by the sun, it congeals in the water in great heaps, like small islands. This pitch is not like that of Europe, but resembles, both in colour and shape, that froth of the sea called bitumen; but, in my judgment, this matter is nothing but wax mixed with sand, which stormy weather, and the rolling waves of great rivers hath cast into the sea; for in those parts are great quantities of bees who make their honey in trees, to the bodies of' which the honeycomb being fixed, when tempests arise, they are torn away, and by the fury of the winds carried into the sea, as is said. Some naturalists say, that the honey and the wax are separated by the salt water; whence proceeds the good amber. This opinion seems the more probable, because the said amber tastes as wax doth.
But to return to my discourse. The pirates made in those islands all the haste they possibly could to equip their vessels, hearing that the Spanish ship was come which they expected. They spent some time cruising on the coasts of Yucatan, where inhabit many Indians, who seek for the said amber in those seas. And I shall here, by the by, make some short remarks on the manner of living of the Indians, and their religion.
They have now been above a hundred years under the Spaniards, to whom they performed all manner of services; for whensoever any of them needed a slave or servant, they sent for these to serve them as long as they pleased. By the Spaniards they were initiated in the principles of the Christian faith and religion, and they sent them every Sunday and holiday a priest to perform divine service among them; afterwards, for reasons not known, but certainly through temptations of the father of idolatry, the devil, they suddenly cast off the Christian religion, abusing the priest that was sent them: this provoked the Spaniards to punish them, by casting many of the chief into prison. Every one of those barbarians had, and hath still, a god to himself, whom he serves and worships. It is a matter of admiration, how they use a child newly born: as soon as it comes into the world, they carry it to the temple; here they make a hole, which they fill with ashes only, on which they place the child naked, leaving it there a whole night alone, not without great danger, nobody daring to come near it; meanwhile the temple is open on all sides, that all sorts of beasts may freely come in and out. Next day, the father, and relations of the infant, return to see if the track or step of any animal appears in the ashes: not finding any, they leave the child there till some beast has approached the infant, and left behind him the marks of his feet: to this animal, whatsoever it be; they consecrate the creature newly born, as to its god, which he is bound to worship all his life, esteeming the said beast his patron and protector. They offer to their gods sacrifices of fire, wherein they burn a certain gum called by them copal, whose smoke smells very deliciously. 'When the infant is grown up, the parents thereof tell him who he ought to worship, and serve, and honour as his own proper god. Then he goes to the temple, where he makes offerings to the said beast. Afterwards, if in the course of his life, any one injure him, or any evil happen to him, he complains to that beast, and sacrifices to it for revenge. Hence it often comes, that those who have done the injury of which he complains are bitten, killed, or otherwise hurt by such animals.
After this superstitious and idolatrous manner live those miserable and ignorant Indians that inhabit the islands of the gulf of Honduras; as also many of them on the continent of Yucatan, in the territories whereof are most excellent ports, where those Indians most commonly build their houses. These people are not very faithful to one another, and use strange ceremonies at their marriages. Whensoever any one pretends to marry a young damsel, he first applies himself to her father or nearest relation: he examines him nicely about the manner of cultivating their plantations, and other things at his pleasure. Having satisfied the questions of his father-in-law, he gives the young man a bow and arrow, with which he repairs to the young maid, and presents her with a garland of green leaves and sweet-smelling flowers; this she is obliged to put on her head, and lay aside that which she wore before, it being the custom for virgins to go perpetually crowned with flowers. This garland being received, and put on her head, every one of the relations and friends go to advise with others whether that marriage will be like lo be happy or not; then they meet at the house of the damsel's father, where they drink of a liquor made of maize, or Indian wheat; and here, before the whole company, the father gives his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom. Next day the bride comes to her mother, and in her presence pulls off the garland, and tears it in pieces, with great cries and lamentations. Many other things I could relate of the manner of living and customs of those Indians, but I shall follow my discourse.
Our pirates therefore had many canoes of the Indians in the isle of Sambale, five leagues from the coasts of Yucatan. Here is great quantity of amber, but especially when any storm arises from towards the east; whence the waves bring many things, and very different. Through this sea no vessels can pass, unless very small, it being too shallow. In the lands that are surrounded by this sea, is found much Campeche wood, and other things that serve for dyeing, much esteemed in Europe, and would be more, if we had the skill of the Indians, who make a dye or tincture that never fades.
The pirates having been in that gulf three months, and receiving advice that the Spanish ship was come, hastened to the port where the ship lay at anchor unlading her merchandise, with design to assault her as soon as possible; but first they thought convenient to send away some of their boats to seek for a small vessel also expected very richly laden with plate, indigo, and cochineal. Meanwhile, the ship's crew having notice that the pirates designed upon them, prepared all things for a good defence, being mounted with forty-two guns, well furnished with arms and other necessaries, and one hundred and thirty fighting men. To Lolonois all this seemed but little, for he assaulted her with great courage, his own ship carrying but twenty-two guns, and having no more than a small saety or fly-boat for help: but the Spaniards defended themselves so well, as they forced the pirates to retire; but the smoke of the powder continuing thick, as a dark fog or mist, with four canoes well manned, they boarded the ship with great agility, and forced the Spaniards to surrender.
The ship being taken, they found not in her what they thought, being already almost unladen. All they got was only fifty bars of iron, a small parcel of paper, some earthen jars of wine, and other things of small importance.
Then Lolonois called a council of war, and told them, he intended for Guatemala: hereupon they divided into several sentiments, some liking the proposal, and others disliking it, especially a party of them who were but raw in those exercises, and who imagined at their setting forth from Tortuga that pieces of eight were gathered as easy as pears from a tree; but finding most things contrary to their expectation, they quitted the fleet, and returned; others affirmed they had rather starve than return home without a great deal of money.
But the Major part judging the propounded voyage little to their purpose, separated from Lolonois and the rest: of these one Moses Vanclein was ringleader, captain of the ship taken at Puerto Cavallo: this fellow steered for Tortuga, to cruise to and fro in these seas. With him joined another comrade of his, by name Pierre le Picard, who seeing the rest leave Lolonois, thought fit to do the same. These runaways having thus parted company, steered homewards, coasting along the continent till they came to Costa Rica; here they landed a strong party nigh the river Veraguas, and marched in good order to the town of the same name: this they took and totally pillaged, though the Spaniards made a strong resistance. They brought away some of the inhabitants as prisoners, with all they had, which was of no great importance, by reason of the poverty of the place, which exercises no other trade than working in the mines, where some of the inhabitants constantly attend, while none seek for gold, but only slaves. These they compel to dig and wash the earth in the neighbouring rivers, where often they find pieces of gold as big as peas. The pirates gaining in this adventure but seven or eight pounds weight of gold, they returned, giving over the design to go to the town of Nata, situate on the coasts of the South Sea, whose inhabitants are rich merchants, and their slaves work in the mines of Veraguas; being deterred by the multitudes of Spaniards gathered on all sides to fall upon them, whereof they had timely advice.
Lolonois, thus left by his companions, remained alone in the gulf of Honduras. His ship being too great to get out at the reflux of those seas, there he sustained great want of provisions, so as they were constrained to go ashore every day to seek sustenance, and not finding anything else, they were forced to kill and eat monkeys, and other animals, such as they could find.
At last in the altitude of the cape of Gracias a Dios, near a certain little island called De las Pertas, his ship struck on a bank of sand, where it stuck so fast, as no art could get her off again, though they unladed all the guns, iron, and other weighty things as much as they could. Hereupon they were forced to break the ship in pieces, and with planks and nails build them selves a boat to get away; and while they are busy about it, I shall describe the said isles and their inhabitants.
The islands De las Pertas are inhabited by savage Indians, not having known or conversed with civil people: they are tall and very nimble, running almost as fast as horses; at diving also they are very dexterous and hardy. From the bottom of the sea I saw them take up an anchor of six hundredweight, tying a cable to it with great dexterity, and pulling it from a rock. Their arms are made of wood, without any iron point; but some instead thereof use a crocodile's tooth. They have no bows nor arrows, as the other Indians have, but their common weapon is a sort of lance a fathom and a half long. Here are many plantations surrounded with woods, whence they gather abundance of fruits, as potatoes, bananas, racoven, ananas, and many others. They have no houses to dwell in, as at other places in the Indies. Some say they eat human fish, which is confirmed by what happened when Lolonois was there. Two of his companions, one a Frenchman and the other a Spaniard, went into the woods, where having straggled awhile, a troop of Indians pursued them. They defended themselves as well as they could with their swords, but at last were forced to flee. The nimble Frenchman escaped; but the Spaniard being not so swift, was taken and heard of no more. Some days after, twelve pirates set forth well armed to seek their companion, among whom was the Frenchman, who conducted them, and showed them the place where he left him; here they found that the Indians had kindled a fire, and at a small distance they found a man's bones well roasted, with some pieces of flesh ill scraped off the bones, and one hand, which had only two fingers remaining, whence they concluded they had roasted the poor Spaniard.
They marched on, seeking for Indians, and found a great number together, who endeavoured to escape, but they overtook some of them, and brought aboard their ships five men and four women; with these they took much pains to make themselves be understood, and to gain their affections, giving them trifles, as knives, beads, and the like; they gave them also victuals and drink, but nothing would they taste. It was also observable, that while they were prisoners, they spoke not one word to each other; so that seeing these poor Indians were much afraid, they presented them again with some small things, and let them go. When they parted, they made signs they would come again, but they soon forgot their benefactors, and were never heard of more; neither could any notice afterwards be had of these Indians, nor any others in the whole island, which made the pirates suspect that both those that were taken, and all the rest of the islanders, swam away by night to some little neighbouring islands, especially considering they could never set eyes on any Indian more, nor any boat or other vessel. Meanwhile the pirates were very desirous to see their long-boat finished out of the timber that struck on the sands; yet considering their work would be long, they began to cultivate some pieces of ground; here they sowed French beans, which ripened in six weeks, and many other fruits. They had good provision of Spanish wheat, bananas, racoven, and other things; with the wheat they made bread, and baked it in portable ovens, brought with them. Thus they feared not hunger in those desert places, employing themselves thus for five or six months; which past, and the long-boat finished, they resolved for the river of Nicaragua, to see if they could take some canoes, and return to the said islands for their companions that remained behind, by reason the boat could not hold so many then together; hereupon, to avoid disputes, they cast lots, determining who should go or stay.
The lot fell on one half of the people of the lost vessel, who embarked in the long-boat, and on the skiff which they had before, the other half remaining ashore. Lolonois having set sail, arrived in a few days at the river of Nicaragua: here that ill-fortune assailed him which of long time had been reserved for him, as a punishment due to the multitude of horrible crimes committed in his licentious and wicked life. Here he met with both Spaniards and Indians, who jointly setting upon him and his companions, the greatest part of the pirates were killed on the place. Lolonois, with those that remained alive, had much ado to escape aboard their boats: yet notwithstanding this great loss, he resolved not to return to those he had left at the isle of Pertas, without taking some boats, such as he looked for. To this effect he determined to go on to the coasts of Carthagena; but God Almighty, the time of His Divine. justice being now come, had appointed the Indians of Darien to be the instruments and executioners thereof. These Indians of Darien are esteemed as bravoes, or wild savage Indians, by the neighbouring Spaniards, who never could civilize them. Hither Lolonois came (brought by his evil conscience that cried for punishment), thinking to act his cruelties; but the Indians within a few days after his arrival took him prisoner, and tore him in pieces alive, throwing his body limb by limb into the fire, and his ashes into the air, that no trace or memory might remain of such an infamous, inhuman creature. One of his companions gave me an exact account of this tragedy, affirming that himself had escaped the same punishment with the greatest difficulty; he believed also that many of his comrades, who were taken in that encounter by those Indians, were, as their cruel captain, torn in pieces and burnt alive. Thus ends the history, the life, and miserable death of that infernal wretch Lolonois, who full of horrid, execrable, and enormous deeds, and debtor to so much innocent blood, died by cruel and butcherly hands, such as his own were in the course of his life.
Those that remained in the island De las Pertas, waking for the return of them who got away only to their great misfortune, hearing no news of their captain nor companions, at last embarked on the ship of a certain pirate, who happened to pass that way. This fellow came from Jamaica, with intent to land at Gracias a Dios, and from thence to enter the river with his canoes, and take the city of Carthagena. These two crews of pirates being now joined, were infinitely glad at the presence and society of one another. Those, because they found themselves delivered from their miseries, poverty, and necessities, wherein they had lived ten entire months. These, because they were now considerably strengthened, to effect with greater satisfaction their designs. Hereupon, as soon as they were arrived at Gracias a Dios, they all put themselves into canoes, and entered the river, being five hundred men, leaving only five or six persons in each ship to keep them. They took no provisions, being persuaded they should find everywhere sufficient; but these their hopes were found totally vain, not being grounded on Almighty God; for He ordained it so, that the Indians, aware of their coming, all fled, not leaving in. their houses or plantations, which for the most part border on the sides of rivers, any necessary provisions or victuals: hereby, in a few days after they had quitted their ships, they were reduced to most extreme necessity and hunger; but their hopes of making their fortunes very soon, animating them for the present, they contented themselves with a few green herbs, such as they could gather on the banks of the river.
Yet all this courage and vigour lasted but a fortnight, when their hearts, as well as bodies, began to fail for hunger; insomuch as they were forced to quit the river, and betake themselves to the woods, seeking out some villages where they might find relief, but all in vain; for having ranged up and down the woods for some days, without finding the least comfort, they were forced to return to the river, where being come, they thought convenient to descend to the sea-coast where they had left their ships, not having been able to find what they sought for. In this laborious journey they were reduced to such extremity, that many of them devoured their own shoes, the sheaths of their swords, knives, and other such things, being almost ravenous, and eager to meet some Indians, intending to sacrifice them to their teeth. At last they arrived at the sea-coast, where they found some comfort and relief to their former miseries, and also means to seek more: yet the greatest part perished through faintness and other diseases contracted by hunger, which also caused the remaining part to disperse, till at last, by degrees, many or most of them fell into the same pit that Lolonois did; of whom, and of whose companions, having given a compendious narrative, I shall continue with the actions and exploits of Captain Henry Morgan, who may deservedly be called the second Lolonois, not being unlike or inferior to him, either in achievements against the Spaniards, or in robberies of many innocent people.