A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 681 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
captors, depended thereon.  This was indeed an article which gave the commodore much trouble and disquietude; for they were above double the number of his own people; and some of them, when they were brought on board the Centurion, and had observed how slenderly she was manned, and the large proportion which the striplings bore to the rest, could not help expressing themselves with great indignation to be thus beaten by a handful of boys.  The method, which was taken to hinder them from rising, was by placing all but the officers and the wounded in the hold, where, to give them as much air as possible, two hatch-ways were left open; but then (to avoid all danger, whilst the Centurion’s people should be employed upon the deck) there was a square partition of thick planks, made in the shape of a funnel, which enclosed each hatch-way on the lower deck, and reached to that directly over it on the upper deck; these funnels served to communicate the air to the hold better than could have been done without them; and, at the same time, added greatly to the security of the ship; for they being seven or eight feet high, it would have been extremely difficult for the Spaniards to have clambered up; and still to augment that difficulty, four swivel-guns loaded with musquet-bullets were planted at the mouth of each funnel, and a centinel with lighted match constantly attended, prepared to fire into the hold amongst them, in case of any disturbance.  Their officers, who amounted to seventeen or eighteen, were all lodged in the first lieutenant’s cabin, under a constant guard of six men; and the general, as he was wounded, lay in the commodore’s cabin with a centinel always with him; and they were all informed, that any violence or disturbance would be punished with instant death.  And that the Centurion’s people might be at all times prepared, if, notwithstanding these regulations, any tumult should arise, the small arms were constantly kept loaded in a proper place, whilst all the men went armed with cutlasses and pistols; and no officer ever pulled off his cloaths, and when he slept had always his arms lying ready by him.

These measures were obviously necessary, considering the hazards to which the commodore and his people would have been exposed, had they been less careful.  Indeed, the sufferings of the poor prisoners, though impossible to be alleviated, were much to be commiserated; for the weather was extremely hot, the stench of the hold loathsome beyond all conception, and their allowance of water but just sufficient to keep them alive, it not being practicable to spare them more than at the rate of a pint a-day for each, the crew themselves having only an allowance of a pint and a half.  All this considered, it was wonderful that not a man of them died during their long confinement, except three of the wounded, who died the same night they were taken; though it must be confessed, that the greatest part of them were strangely metamorphosed by the heat of the hold; for when they were first taken, they were sightly, robust fellows; but when, after above a month’s imprisonment, they were discharged in the river of Canton, they were reduced to mere skeletons; and their air and looks corresponded much more to the conception formed of ghosts and spectres, than to the figure and appearance of real men.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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