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‘Given to Impure Copulations’
Pirate Narratives #4: Chapter 2
Pages 54 to 68
They “had not lost one man in the voyage,” which tells us that there were no women, that the youths were treated as full men, and that losses were normal in the Middle Passage. With ships bound up the Atlantic coast for Virginia and Maryland, losses would be greater.
The chapter summary at the heading reads:
“A description of Tortuga—the fruits and plants there—How the French first settled there, at two several times, and forced out the Spaniards—the author twice sold on said island.”
The parts of the island are:
“the town,” where the richest planters live,
The Middle Plantation, which has soil only good for tobacco, a western portion named Ringot,
And, “The Mountain…where were made the first plantations upon this island.”
Candlewood serves for torches and the guiacum tree provides medicine for venereal disease, seemingly transmitted mostly by homosexual intercourse. When one considers that many new servants were boys, the bucolic imagery of same race plantation life, where few women were to be had, painted by academics should be reconsidered.
Wild boars are kept as a feral reserve food source, with hunting with dogs being forbidden to insure their numbers.
Two sorts of crabs are in abundance, which are fed to “servants and slaves,” and have the side effects of causing “giddiness in the head… weakness of the brain,” and temporary blindness. In later stage Plantation America, slaves complained of having to eat “low on the hog,” but compared to their earlier bondage in the Plantations low on the hog seems preferable to poison.
The French passively invaded the Spanish, who had a small garrison and welcomed them as neighbors and fellow Christians until they, like the Indians at the same time in New England, realized that they were being displaced and tried to drive away the refugee invaders.
To “plant” an island is a term used to denote population “transport” not agricultural activity.
The French either grew tobacco, hunted in the forest or cruised as pirates.
In 1664 the French “planted the colony for themselves by their factors and servants…”
The Spanish fortified Tortuga against the feral French with the use of massive numbers of slaves and Indians who they named “matedes, or, in English, half-yellow men.”
The French company had all of their factors sell off company servants for 20-to-30 pieces of eight “as all other merchandizes and properties.”
With these words the author clearly demonstrates his understanding that servants and slaves and half-yellow men and other forced laborers, were property first and people second.
Now, on page 62, the reader discovers that the author was among this human property:
“On this occasion I was also sold, being a servant under the said company in whose service I left France: but my fortune was very bad, for I fell into the hands of the most cruel and perfidious man that ever was born, who was then governor, or rather lieutenant-general of the island. This man treated me with all the hard usage, yea with that of hunger, with which I thought I should have perished inevitably.’
John was offered his freedom if he could buy it for 300 pieces of eight. This, and starvation sent John into a depression and sickness and his master, fearing a total loss of his investment, sold him for 70 pieces of eight. John was bought by a kind surgeon, who clothed, fed and nursed him and gave him freedom after one year under the agreement that John would pay him 100 pieces of eight when he could do so. This proposal was greeted with “joy,” and set the young man on his way to serving the pirates of high and low sort in various capacities, as an outlaw himself, until 1672, when he was able to return to his native land.
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MannyDec 5, 2020

Hi James. Would you share the title of this pirate book you’re reading? I can’t seem to figure it out from the articles. Thanks, Manny.
responds:Dec 5, 2020

The Buccaneers and Marooners of America.
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