"Arrr! 'Ere's to tha Jolly Roger me ol' mates!"
"...a lot of fun to read whilst being an excellent opportunity to find out exactly what went on in the golden era of the pirate.Helen Hollick has an inimitable style which informs at the same time as being amusing and easily digestible."
|a conversation with|
Captain Jesamiah Acorne: Pirate
Governor Woodes Rogers: Pirate Hunter
Ahoy Captain! Permission to come aboard?
What’s that? [peers over the side of the ship. Grins.] Oh, it’s you! [laughs.] You come to ask more of them impertinent questions of yours? Come on then, I’ll give you half a turn of the half-hour-glass. But as soon as the tide changes I must be on m’way.
Can you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you yet?
[raises one eyebrow] What? You mean there are still folks out there who don’t know me? I am Captain Jesamiah Acorne. I am in my mid-twenties and I used to be a pirate but I signed my name in a Book Of Amnesty. Except I’ve found that I’ve been in more trouble, had more fights, been in more danger ever since the day I did so! I was born in England but spent my first fourteen years at my father’s tobacco plantation in Virginia. I had a rotten childhood, thanks to my evil half-brother … but I don’t want to talk about that sea slug, apart from to say I beat him to a pulp a few months before my fifteenth birthday and then ran away to sea. Best thing I ever did, for I found the freedom and the joy of a life I love – to be aboard my ship.
I have a wife, well she was my girlfriend for a while, her name is Tiola (say it Tee-o-la) and she is very special in more ways than one. She is a midwife and a healer, and, well, like I said, she’s special. [Changes the subject, for Jesamiah will never reveal what Tiola really ist]. I suppose I ought to confess that I often enjoy the thrill of danger, trouble seems to follow me like a ship’s wake, although there are times that the danger gets too dangerous if you follow my drift. The hangman’s noose has come a bit too close for comfort on occasion! I’d not give this life up for a cosy one ashore, though.
As a famous sea captain, we imagine you know Captain Woodes Rogers. How did you meet and what was your first impression about him?
[snorts] Rogers? Oh aye, I know him. He has some good ideas but he can be a pain in the backside [touches his three-corner hat] if you excuse m’language ma’am. My first impression of him, when we met in Cape Town, Africa, was that he was a bit of a blustering idiot. He liked the sound of his own voice, got grumpy with anyone who disagreed with him. And he hated pirates. Just as well he didn’t realise that I was a pirate, back then eh? [laughs].
And what is your opinion now?
Oh, he’s an even bigger pain the arse, but I admire him. He is doing his best to rid the Caribbean of piracy – we had our day, but to tell the truth, it all got too out of hand, too violent, too much need for greed, and too many incompetents making a mess of things and turning the merchants against us. I guess it was inevitable that it would have to end sooner rather than later. I signed my name in Rogers’ Book Of Amnesty and ceased being a pirate, although the bloody, excuse me ma’am, man decided I could do other things instead in order to help him out occasionally – things that run too close to the wind in the getting me killed department!
Have you ever believed that his promises would have worked to straighten the pirates out, or do you think a wolf’s true nature can’t be changed after all?
Oh aye, I think he’s doing the best he can. He is a sailor – a good one – he circumnavigated the world, came back with a vast fortune from raiding the Spanish. His failure was to trust the British Government though. They took most of that fortune, and promised to finance his ideas to turn Nassau into a respectable and worthwhile trade centre – free from the threats of piracy – but they broke their word and never backed him financially. He’ll become ill and go bankrupt eventually because he’s financing everything himself, silly bugger. I feel sorry for him. He has good ideas, good intentions, just poor support.
One last question: what kind of role do you believe you have in Woodes Rogers’ personal story, where he would be the protagonist instead?
[Laughs] I’d have a very short part to play in his story I reckon – he’d as soon hang me as a pirate if he knew about some of the things I get up to! Mind you, his life would make a good story if someone was to tell it… Well, that’s it, the tide has turned, I must weigh anchor and be about m’business. It’s been good talking – mind y’step as you go ashore.
|available published under new colours! (Penmore Press)|
Part two: Governor, Captain Woodes Rogers
Excuse me, Governor. Can you receive me?
Eh? What’s that? Speak up I’m a bit deaf y’know – it’s the great guns, they dull the hearing y’know, ha ha! Come you in to my study. Can I serve ye a glass of wine? Finest Madeira y’know. Sit, sit! Sit y’self down. I can’t be standing for long, gout y’know. Pains me along with wounds received in battle against the Spanish. Now then, what is it ye be wanting, eh?
Can you introduce yourself to my readers?
What? [frowns] Introduce m’self? I am Captain Woodes Rogers, Governor of the Bahamas, based here in Nassau. My job is to rid the seas in these parts of pirates, and protect these shores from the Spanish – both be a bit of a task t’tell ye the truth! There’s some who say I was a pirate in m’younger days – not so, not so! I sailed as a privateer with full authority from Her Majesty, Queen Anne, God rest her soul, to have at the Spanish with whom England was at war. I was successful too – sailed around the world I did, though I got wounded for m’troubles. Nay, nay, I were never a pirate, I never attacked English ships, only the Spanish. Though I guess them Spaniards say I’m a pirate, what? Ha ha!
We know you have quite the friendly acquaintance with Captain Jesamiah Acorne. What can you tell us about him?
[frowns again ] Hmm, not sure I’d say ‘friendly’, he’s a bit of a rascal you know. Can’t say I would trust him further than I could toss a cannonball! But, he has been useful, very useful, and I’m hoping he’ll continue to be useful in the future. I need to put an end to piracy y’see and the best way to do that? Set a pirate to catch a pirate! Though our Captain Acorne usually takes a bit of persuading to do as I ask. I think’ blackmail’ is the common term? Still wouldn’t trust the scamp, though, wouldn’t trust him.
I noticed that Captain Acorne seems to have a bit of a problem with authority. Do you think offering amnesty will make an honest man out of him?
[laughs] Never on your life! Once a scamp always a scamp, though I do admit to you (do not tell him I said this!) he is a decent man underneath it all. He has a sense of honour – oh not to King, Country or me, but to his ship and his pride. He is probably one of the best sailors I know, one of the best, and I know a lot of sailors I can tell ye! And I admit this, he is a darn good man to have at your side in a fight – if you ever want someone to cover your back, get Acorne. You’d probably have to threaten him or pay him a chest of gold to do it, mind you! Man’s a rascal, a right rascal. Reminds me of m’self when I was his age, ha ha!
What pushed you into such a bold move, probably in disagreement with most powerful men of your era, of offering every pirate who would accept it a pardon?
It seems sensible to me, and you are right, it took a lot of persuading of those lump-heads in the English Parliament to see it my way. Too many of ’em are merchants of course, who have lost fortunes to the pirates. But what is the alternative? Send the Navy to fight? Don’t make me laugh! Those useless swabs of the English Navy couldn’t fight their way out of a bathtub, let alone the Caribbean! There are not enough ships, not enough trained, disciplined men, not enough experienced captains or officers. No, no, the best way is to offer amnesty. Most of the pirates have had enough anyway, few of ’em see the fortune they were expecting – the novelty of it, you see, is wearing off. When I arrived in Nassau they welcomed me with open arms – a free pardon, a chance to live instead of hang. Over two-thousand of ’em signed my book you know. Oh, there were a few like Blackbeard, Charles Vane and Jack Rackham who defied me, but I’ll have ’em, you’ll see them hang, mark my words.
One last question: what do you believe is your role in Jesamiah Acorne’s story?
[chuckles] To keep the scamp on the straight and narrow I’d say! For all his signing of my book, he attracts trouble – aye and not always from the Spanish or other pirates! He’s too fond of the ladies is that one, and we all know how much trouble a woman, or her husband, ha ha, can be don’t we! Nay, I’ll keep an eye on the lad – he’s too useful for me, you see. I need him to carry out some of my plans…
"Well then ye swabs, while ye be swiggin' tha rum
would ye be interistid in readin' a foo art'cles about tha sea
an' us pirates?"
It's Fun To Be A Pirate... Or Is It?
How Sea Witch Set Sail
What's In A Name? Pirates and Their Names
What Pirates Needed Was A Book Of Boat's Names!
The Black Heart of Blackbeard
Charles Vane - A Reign of Terror
SOME HANDY PIRATE TERMS!
All nations: a mixture of the dregs of alcohol left in bottles.
Anne’s fan: a disturbance or thumbing your nose at the rules.
Bagpiper: a long-winded talker.
Bark at the moon: to waste your breath.
Bear garden jaw: foul language.
Beggar maker: a publican or taverner.
Belly gut: a greedy or lazy person.
Bring to one’s bearings: to see common sense.
Bull calf: someone who is clumsy.
Calfskin fiddle: a drum.
Cat sticks: thin legs..
Clodpoll: an idiot.
Cold cook: an undertaker.
Dutch concert: everyone playing or singing a different tune.
Eternity box: a coffin.
Fire a gun: to speak without tact.
Fish broth: saltwater.
Fly in a tar box: excited.
Full as a goat: very drunk.
Grog: watered rum.
Grog blossom: a drunkard.
Groggified: very drunk.
Gundiguts: a fat person.
Handsomely: quickly or carefully.
Hang the jib: to pout or frown..
Hempen halter: a noose.
Higgling cart: a special cart used by hawkers or peddlers.
Hog in armour: a boastful lout.
Hornswaggle: to cheat, or trick.
Horse’s meal: food without a drink.
Hot: a concocted mixture of gin and brandy served warm.
Jack Ketch: an English executioner, his name became synonymous with hanging.
Jaw me down: a talkative fellow.
Loaded to the gunwale: drunk.
Look like God’s revenge against murder – very angry.
Lumping pennyworth: a bargain.
Marry old boots: to marry another man’s mistress.
Measured fer yer chains: to be imprisoned..
Ope: an opening or passageway between buildings..
Paper skull: a fool.
Pipe: a wine cask which held up to 105 gallons.
Pipe tuner: a crybaby.
Pump ship: urinate.
Rabbit hunting with a dead ferret: a pointless exercise.
Remedy critch: a chamberpot.
Ride to fetch the midwife: be in haste.
Run a rig: to play a trick, to cheat someone.
Rusty guts: a surly fellow.
Scallywag: a scoundrel.
Snail’s gallop: to go very slowly.
Soose: a coin.
Spanish trumpeter: a donkey.
Take a caulk: take a nap.
Tilly tally: nonsense.
Trodden on your/my eye: a black eye..
Turned off: hanged.
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|Not Pirates - Smugglers!|
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