Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/17

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MADAGASCAR.

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William III had received a commission from that monarch, to go out in charge of a ship, with "full power and authority to apprehend, seize, and take into custody all pirates, freebooters, and sea-rovers, which he should meet upon the seas, or upon the coast of any country.' With this commission Captain Kid sailed in the Adventure, galley of thirty guns with eighty men, and directed his course to Madagascar, the great resort of such marauders as he was in search of. For some time he cruised about in the neighborhood of the island, but the pirate-ships being most of them out in search of prey, his provisions and resources began to diminish, while his hopes of success became increasingly faint. While he continued in this state, he began to think of abandoning the object for which he had been sent out, and finally made known to his crew the design he had conceived of becoming himself a pirate. The scheme was but too readily adopted by his comrades, who, under the command of their unprincipled leader, commenced a course of lawless cruelty and bloodshed, which terminated in the apprehension, trial, and execution of their traitorous leader.

Another leading pirate was a Frenchman by the name of Misson, who, together with his comrade Caraccioli, established a sort of republican commonwealth, upon the northeastern coast. Here they were afterwards joined by Captain Tew, and being all men of superior education and abilities to those generally engaged in the profession of piracy, the affairs of their settlement were for some time conducted with no inconsiderable degree of political skill, which was attended with a measure of success. They built a fort and town, cultivated the land, and had a Senate house in which they made wise laws for the infant colony. From this colony, which they called Libertatia, they sent forth their ships on marauding expeditions, and were so successful as to add greatly to their wealth and power. It was an infant Rome, of a marine stamp, plundering the treasures of other people to add to its own. They made friends with the natives, who through intercourse and barter shared in the plunder, and thus found it to their interest to assist in building and navigating vessels for increasing it. On one occasion they captured a Moorish vessel, bound for Mecca with pilgrims; and there being on board one hundred women, who were accompanying their friends and parents on their pilgrimage, the pirates detained these as wives for the people of their colony, with a view to its greater stability, and the contentment of the men under their command.