A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer
Seventeenth-century pirate genius William Dampier sailed around the world three times when crossing the Pacific was a major feat, was the first explorer to visit all five continents, and reached Australia eighty years before Captain Cook. His exploits created a sensation in Europe. Swift and Defoe used his experiences in writing Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Darwin incorporated his concept of "sub-species" into the theory of evolution. Dampier's description of breadfruit was the impetus for Captain Bligh's voyage on the Bounty. He was so influential that today he has more than one thousand entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, including such words as chopsticks, barbecue, and kumquat. Anthropologists still use his work.
abusive language. It gave no credence to Fisher’s accusations that Dampier had been a ‘very mean artist’ – a bad navigator – for Dampier had taken the Roebuck everywhere he had intended to go, often through uncharted waters. Nor had Dampier been responsible, the court ruled, for the death of boatswain John Norwood, who had not died in confinement, nor even on the Roebuck, but many months later and was regarded by other crew members ‘as sickly both before and after his confinement’. The main
o’clock in the afternoon here in England’. Perhaps his ever-active mind craved diversion. The boredom of a long voyage was killing. During good weather, time hung especially heavy. The sailors mended their clothes, stiff and salty from being washed in sea water and perpetually damp because the residual salt attracted moisture. They used joints of sharks’ backbones, even bits of hardened cheese rind, to fashion buttons and fastenings. They carved wood and bone for pleasure. They also played dice
money’. Anxious to be rid of the buccaneers before things turned sour, the governor reminded Swan that ‘the west monsoon was at hand’. On 30 May, a final exchange of gifts took place, during which Swan released the hostage priest after presenting him with an astrolabe and a large telescope. The priest advised the buccaneers to make for Mindanao in the Philippines. Not only was it very well stocked with provisions, but the Muslim inhabitants were at war with the Spanish. As Dampier wrote, this
demanded he return on board the Cygnet at once. Dampier later wrote that they need not have gone to so much trouble; sending the cabin boy to fetch him would have sufficed. It would have been suicide to remain on the island against their will: ‘[They] would have abused, or have killed some of the natives, purposely to incense them against me’. Disappointed but resigned, Dampier shouldered his possessions and trudged down to the canoe. He found the Cygnet in ‘an uproar’. Three more crewmen,
spin-off, Dunton produced the first women’s magazine – the Ladies’ Mercury – which consisted solely of ‘problem pages’, explicitly answering women’s questions about relationships ranging from adultery to man-management. Dunton was quick to appreciate Dampier’s contribution to the flood of literary innovation, writing a little enviously that in purchasing Dampier’s work his publisher, James Knapton, showed he knew how ‘to value good copy’. Dunton was right. Dampier’s literary success was