Obrázky stránek

least corner escaping diligence. Moreover, to encourage them he added: This enterprise could not fail to succeed well, seeing he had kept it secret in his mind without revealing it to anybody; whereby they could not have notice of his coming. To this proposition some made answer: They had not a sufficient number of men wherewith to assault so strong and great a city. But Captain Morgan replied: If our number is small our hearts are great. And the fewer persons we are the more union, and better shares we shall have of the spoil. Hereupon, being stimulated with the ambition of those vast riches they promised themselves from their good success, they unanimously concluded to venture upon that design. But, now, to the intent my reader may better comprehend the incomparable boldness of this exploit, it may be necessary to say something beforehand of the city of Porto Bello.

The city which bears this name in America is seated in the province of Costa Rica, under the latitude of ten degrees north, at the distance of fourteen leagues from the Gulf of Darien, and eight westwards from the port called Nombre de Dios. It is judged to be the strongest place that the King of Spain possesses in all the West Indies, excepting two, that is to say, Havana and Cartagena. Here are two castles, almost inexpugnable, that defend the city, being situated at the entry of the port; so that no ship or boat can pass without permission. The garrison consists of three hundred soldiers, and the town constantly inhabited by four hundred families, more or less. The merchants dwell not here, but only reside for awhile, when the galleons come or go from Spain; by reason of the unhealthiness of the air, occasioned by certain vapours, that exhale from the mountains. Notwithstanding, their chief warehouses are at Porto Bello, howbeit their habitations be all the year long at Panama, whence they bring the plate upon mules at such times as the fair begins and when the ships, belonging to the Company of Negroed, arrive here to sell slaves.

Capt. Morgan, who knew very well all the avenues of this city, as also all the neighboring coasts arrived in the dusk of the evening at the place called Puerto de Naos, distant ten leagues toward the west of Porto Bello. Being come to this place, they mounted the river in their ships, as far as another harbour called Puerto Pointin where they came to an anchor. Here they put themselves immediately into boats and canoes, leaving only a few men to keep them and conduct them the next day to the port. About midnight they came to a certain place called Estera longa Lemos, where they all went on shore, and marched by land to the first post of the city. They had in their company a certain Englishman, who had been formerly a prisoner in those parts, and who now served them for guide. To him, and three or four more, they give commission to take the sentry, if possible, or kill him upon the place. But they laid hands on him and apprehended him with such cunning, that he had no time to give warning with his musket, or make any other noise. Thus they brought him, with his hands bound to Captain Morgan, who asked him: How things went in the city, and what forces they had: with many other circumstances, which he was desirous to know. After every question, they made him a thousand menaces to kill him, in case he declared not the truth. Thus they began to advance towards the city, carrying always the said sentry before them. Having marched about one-quarter of a league, they came to the castle that is near the city, which presently they surrounded, so that no person could get either in or out of the said fortress.

Being thus posted under the walls of the castle, Capt. Morgan commanded the sentry whom they had taken prisoner, to speak to those within, charging them to surrender, and give up to his discretion; otherwise they should be all cut to pieces, without giving quarter to any one. But they would harken to none of these threats, beginning instantly to fire; which gave notice to the city and this was suddenly alarmed. Yet, notwithstanding, although the Governor and soldiers of the said castle made as great resistance as could be performed, they were constrained to surrender to the Pirates. These no sooner had taken the castle, than they resolved to be as good as their words, in putting the Spainards to the sword, thereby to strike a terror into the rest of the city. Hereupon, having shut up all the soldiers and officers as prisoners into one room, they instantly set fire to the powder (whereof they found great quantity), and blew up the whole castle into the air, with all the Spaniards that were within. This being done, they pursued the course of their victory, falling upon the city, which as yet was not in order to receive them. Many of the inhabitants cast their precious jewels and moneys into wells and cisterns, or hid them in other places underground, to excuse, as much as possible, their being totally robbed. One party of the Pirates being assigned to this purpose, ran immediately to the cloisters, and took as many religious men and women as they could find. The governor of the city not being able to rally the citizens, through the huge confusion of the town retired to one of the castles remaining, and thence began to fire incessantly at the Pirates. But these were not in the least negligent either to assault him or defend themselves with all the courage imaginable. Thus it was observable that, amidst the horror of the assault, they made very few shots in vain. For aiming with great dexterity at the mouths of the guns, the Spainiards were certain to lose one or two men every time they charged each gun anew.

The assault of this castle where the Governor was, continued very furious on both sides, from break of day until noon. Yea, about this time of the day the case was very dubious which party should conquer or be conquered. At last the Pirates, perceiving they had lost many men and as yet advanced little towards the gaining either this, or the other castles remaining, thought to make use of fireballs, which they

« PředchozíPokračovat »