Legal preliminaries completed, Kidd’s ship, the _Adventure Galley_,
was launched in Castle’s Yard at Deptford, on the fourth of December,
1695, and set sail between two and three months afterwards. Sir Edmund
Harrison, described by Bellamont’s apologist as “a reputable city
merchant,” had been at the pains to select the crew with great care so
as to exclude all Scotch and Colonials, who were regarded as ineligible
by reason of their supposed proclivities to smuggling and piracy. “That
nothing might be wanting,” we are told by the same writer, “which the
nature of the thing would admit notwithstanding the great difficulty of
finding men at that time, Sir Edmund Harrison took such care of the crew
that every officer in the ship and almost all the seamen had settled
families in England.” “True it is,” he adds in the next paragraph, “that
this care was in a great degree rendered ineffectual: for most of the
crew were pressed before Kidd got out of the river.” Kidd himself in
his artless narrative tells the tale more tersely, merely recording the
fact that “on the first of March, when he came to the Buoy at the Nore,
his men were pressed for the fleet.” Seeing that the First Lord of the
Admiralty was one of the principal partners in the adventure, it may
seem strange to those who have had no personal experience of official
blunderings, that precautions had not been taken to prevent this untoward
mishap, which made a hopeless enterprise more hopeless than ever. For it
left Kidd no alternative but to get the bulk of his crew from America.
With such of his men as had not been deemed worth taking by the press
gang, he managed to get away from Plymouth about the end of April. On
his way to America, he captured a small French vessel with salt and
fishing tackle bound for Newfoundland, and brought her into port at New
York. There in the head centre and hotbed of the smuggling and piracy,
which the King desired to repress, he set to work to pick up the best
substitutes he could find for the men who had been so carefully selected
for him and so unceremoniously taken from him at the Nore.
He reached New York in July and did not leave it till September. In the
interval the French ship which he had captured was condemned by the
authorities as a lawful prize; and according to Kidd’s narrative of these
events, “the produce thereof purchased provisions for the _Adventure
Galley_ for her further intended voyage.” It must have been anything but
an easy job to get the requisite number of men to fill up the vacancies
in his ship’s company. The Colony was not over populated, nor was there
any lack of work for those who cared to take it. The only terms he
was authorized to offer, “No purchase, no pay,” were not likely to be
accepted by skilled and experienced seamen, who had the chance of earning
a good living at home by smuggling, or of going out and making their
fortunes, as some had lately done in the East under such captains as
those whom it was now Kidd’s business to catch. Nor was the catching of
their old friends for hanging purposes likely to be a popular employment
in that part of the world. He probably picked up some adventurous boys,
eager to go to sea at any cost, in ignorance of the fate to which they
were consigning themselves. Of the older men who joined, Darby Mullins,
a rolling stone who had gathered no moss, may perhaps be taken as a fair
sample. From so much of his previous history as this poor man told
to the chaplain at Newgate, it appears that he was an Irishman, born
near Londonderry, kidnapped when young and shipped for the plantations,
where he had followed various honest avocations without any conspicuous
success. Most of Kidd’s grown-up recruits, it is to be feared, were men
of this kind, who for one reason or another were indisposed to remain
long in any one employment, and likely to abandon the enterprise as soon
as they got tired of it. Whilst picking up one and another of these men
during his last stay at his home in New York, Kidd, one would think, must
often have regretted that he had embarked on this miserable business. But
he seems to have been upheld not only then but till the day of his death
by a childlike belief in the great men whose service he had entered, a
belief which was possibly shared by his wife. Money was not a matter of
great importance to either of them. It is not unlikely that she was
pleased to hear about her husband’s great friends, his interviews with
them in London, and what they were likely to do for him and her when he
had successfully completed his task. It is possible that she may have
looked forward with some complacency, poor soul, to the prospect of
herself associating with the women folk of these great people. Perhaps
she even dreamed of becoming a great lady herself. Why not? What more
likely than that her husband would be knighted by the King for his
services and that she would become Lady Kidd?
Starting from New York in September in command of his undisciplined
and unpromising crew, Kidd proceeded first to the Madeiras, in company
with one Joyner, master of a brigantine belonging to the Bermudas. He
arrived at his destination on the eighth of October. Thence they sailed
together to Bonavista, where they stayed for some days and took in
salt; thence to St. Jago where they watered; and thence to the Cape of
Good Hope. On the twelfth of December, “in the latitude of thirty-two,”
to quote from Kidd’s narrative, “they met with five English men-of-war.
Captain Warren was commodore; and sailed a week in their company, and
then parted and sailed to Telere, a port in the Island of Madagascar.”
Here Kidd failed to find at their usual rendezvous any of the pirates
after whom he had come, and concluding that they were preying on the
Eastern trade, continued his course eastwards in pursuit of them. In
company with a sloop belonging to Barbadoes, which had come in at Telere
whilst he was there, he sailed to the Island of Johanna on the coast of
Malabar. There he “found four East India merchantmen outward bound and
watered there all together and stayed about five days. From thence about
the twenty-second of March he sailed for Mehila, an island ten leagues
distant from Johanna, where he arrived the next morning and careened the
_Galley_.” “And about fifty men died there in about a week’s time,” he
tells us pithily and without comment, as though such a catastrophe was an
ordinary occurrence, as indeed it probably was in those days to a ship’s
crew suddenly attacked by cholera or plague in those parts. These deaths
seem to have induced him to leave that coast somewhat suddenly and to
seek healthier quarters. After cruising awhile in the open sea, the only
known specific in those days for such mischances, he came to the entrance
of the Red Sea; obviously a likely place to find the pirates in, since it
was specifically named in the Articles of Agreement between Bellamont,
Livingstone, and himself as the place in which the pirates of whom he
was in search intended to commit their depredations, and the date of the
sailing of the Mecca fleet was approaching. He had now been the greater
part of a year at sea without taking a prize, and had lost more than a
third of his crew by sickness. His ship had grown crazy and leaky; and
neither he nor his men had yet earned a penny. No wonder that his ship’s
company was growing discontented. The wonder is that Kidd had thus far
been able to keep them fairly in hand, which it is admitted he had done.
On reaching the Red Sea, he waited for three weeks at Bab’s Key, a small
island at its entrance, a convenient station for observing all ships
going into or out of that sea. It was alleged at his trial by Palmer,
one of the two men who became King’s evidence, that he said on one
occasion to his men, whilst waiting here, “Come, boys, I will make money
enough out of that fleet.” Little credence is to be attached to Palmer’s
evidence, as will be seen hereafter. But assuming that Kidd made use of
these words, they are susceptible of a perfectly innocent interpretation.
Kidd was on the lookout not only for pirates but also for French ships.
It was not improbable that some of the vessels in the Mecca fleet would
be ships belonging to Frenchmen, or sailing under French colours to the
French factories in India, in which case he would have had a perfect
right to seize them under his letters of marque. It was also by no means
improbable that he might catch some of the Madagascar pirates in pursuit
of, or possibly in possession of, the fleet or some part of it, in which
case it would clearly have been his bounden duty under his commission to
seize the pirates and the ships which they had captured. In either of
these events he would, to use the words attributed to him by Palmer, have
made money enough out of the fleet.
There is some conflict of evidence as to what actually happened on the
fourteenth of August, when the fleet came by. One thing is certain,
that either before or after Kidd came among them, they flew English and
Dutch colours, and that a fire was opened on Kidd from one or both of
their convoys. It also appears that “sundry shots were fired from Kidd’s
ship,” possibly with the object of bringing the ships to, in order that
explanations might be forthcoming from both sides. On this point an
attempt made on the part of the prosecution by both their witnesses to
mislead the jury was frustrated by Kidd. Palmer had led them to believe
that Kidd was the aggressor. “I ask this one thing,” said Kidd. “Did the
Mecca fleet fire first at me or I at them?”
PALMER. “No; they fired first.”
KIDD. “And just now, the other” (that is, Bradenham) “said I fired first.
Is he not perjured?”
Mr. Justice TURTON. “Mr. Bradenham, did he fire first or no?”
BRADENHAM. “He fired at them. I only said, you fired at them. I did not
say first or last.”
No harm was done by the shots on either side; and the fleet went by
without any interchange of explanations. It was no fault of Kidd’s that
its convoys mistook him for a pirate, of which there were undoubtedly
plenty in those parts. But the failure of his plan to make money out of
it cannot have added to his prestige with his crew.
Leaving Bab’s Key, the _Adventure Galley_ stood back across the Arabian
Sea and cruised again along the coast of Malabar, the only coast on
which there is the slightest suggestion that Kidd ever committed any
act of piracy. In considering his doings and those of his men here,
and the construction placed on them first by the East India Company,
and afterwards by the prosecution at his trial, several things must be
borne in mind. At that time there were in India not only English, but
Portuguese and French factories. Little love was lost between them, and
there was open war between England and France. English and American
pirates had been for some time past preying on the coast trade, and
the _Adventure Galley_ might very reasonably be mistaken for a pirate
by any ship which she chased. The coast trade was carried on mainly in
vessels manned by Asiatics with, in some cases, two or three Europeans on
board. The wily Indian had by this time learned the advantage of carrying
Europeans of more than one nationality in each ship, so that if caught
by a ship carrying French colours, he might produce a Frenchman as the
owner, and if caught by an English ship an Englishman. It was Kidd’s
plain duty to take as prizes any French vessels he came across, and with
that end in view to examine carefully every ship which he had reason to
suspect was French. He knew very little of the coast or of the Eastern
languages, and stood greatly in need of a pilot and an interpreter, or,
as he was then termed by seamen, a “linguister.” His crew were becoming
unruly, and whenever he left his ship to examine personally any suspected
prize, he ran the risk of their putting to sea and leaving him in the
lurch. The first vessel he was accused at his trial of having plundered
was a small one, of little value, manned by Armenians, with two Europeans
on board, an Englishman and a Portuguese. He engaged the Englishman as
a pilot and the Portuguese as a “linguister.” There is no reason to
doubt that both these men were thankful to get on board a European ship
again and to join his ship’s company, as others in similar circumstances
admittedly did afterwards.
The ship itself with its Armenian crew he allowed to proceed on
its course after a few days’ detention. Before it left him, some
misunderstanding seems unfortunately to have arisen between the English
seamen on board of her and the Armenians; and it is alleged that on this
occasion the former hung up four of the latter and spanked them with the
flats of their cutlasses. Kidd’s defence, and there is no reason to doubt
that it was a perfectly genuine defence so far as he was concerned,
was that he had nothing whatever to do with this fracas and that he did
not go on board the ship at all. It was further alleged by the King’s
evidence that his men took out of her a bale of coffee and a bale of
pepper and some beeswax. Whether they neglected to give adequate money
or goods in exchange is not stated, but as it is admitted that Kidd
trafficked with many of the ships which he met on this coast, it is not
unreasonable to suppose that he did so with this one. At any rate, there
is no good reason to believe that he was a party to the theft of these
paltry articles.
The next vessel he met was a Portuguese man-of-war which attacked him
without the slightest provocation, taking him possibly for one of the
pirates of whom he was in quest, or possibly for some less reputable
reason. Here again, Palmer, the King’s evidence, tried to give the jury
the false impression that Kidd was the aggressor.
PALMER. “He met a Portuguese ship and fought her.”
KIDD. “Who fired first?”
PALMER. “The Portuguese fired first.”
Kidd’s narrative written before he was taken into custody, or had any
reason to believe that he would be called to account for this incident,
goes more fully into this matter. Though from other parts of his
narrative he seems to have been a man of few words, he waxes eloquent
on this occasion. It appears that he had been into Carrawarr a few days
before, to water. “There the gentlemen of the English factory,” he says,
“gave the narrator an account that the Portuguese were fitting out two
men-of-war to take him, and advised him to put to sea, and to take care
of himself from them, and immediately to set sail thereupon. And the
next morning about break of day he saw the said two men-of-war standing
for the said _Galley_, and they spoke with him, and asked him whence he
was. Who replied, from London, and they returned answer, from Goa; and
so parted, wishing each other a good voyage. And still sailing along
the coast, the Commodore of the said man-of-war kept dogging the said
_Galley_ all the night, waiting an opportunity to board her; and in the
morning without speaking a word, fired six great guns at the _Galley_,
some whereof went through her and wounded four of his men. And thereupon
he fired upon him again, and the fight continued all day; and the
Narrator had eleven men wounded. The other Portuguese man-of-war lay some
distance off and could not come up with the _Galley_, being calm; else
would likewise have assaulted the same. The said fight was sharp, and
the said Portuguese left the said _Galley_ with such satisfaction, that
the narrator believes no Portuguese will ever attack the King’s colours
again in that part of the world especially.” In reading this narrative,
it should be remembered that Kidd was no braggadocio; but a plain sea
captain who had admittedly greatly distinguished himself in the war,
which was still in progress against the French.
The next enormity with which he was charged at his trial was cruelty to
the natives. It appears that he had sent some of his men ashore at one of
the Malabar Islands for wood and water; and the natives having cut one of
their throats, he caused one native to be shot by way of reprisal. The
manner in which capital was attempted to be made by the prosecution out
of this incident appears plainly from the verbatim report of the King’s
evidence. In reply to a question by the counsel for the prosecution, as
to what Kidd had done after fighting with the Portuguese man-of-war,
Bradenham replied, “We went to one of the Malabar islands for wood and
water, and Captain Kidd went ashore and several of his men, and plundered
several boats and burnt several huts, and ordered one of the natives to
be tied to a tree and one of his men to shoot him.” Hoping apparently to
bring some further atrocities to light, counsel proceeded to ask, “What
was the reason for his shooting this Indian?”
The answer he got from Bradenham, his own witness, was, “One of his men
that was his cooper had been ashore, and some of the natives had cut his
throat, and that was the reason he ordered his men to serve this man so.”
Needless to say, counsel pursued the subject no further.
Whatever his men’s inclinations may have been at this time, the next
untoward incident recorded of his doings on this coast conclusively shows
that it was Kidd’s firm determination that his men should not be guilty
of piracy. He came across a Dutch ship, _The Loyal Captain_, under the
command of Captain Hoar. The greater part of his crew were undoubtedly in
favor of seizing this ship, and it is indisputable that Kidd prevented
them from attempting it. Kidd’s own account at his trial, was as follows:
“My lord, I will tell you what the case was. I was coming up within a
league of this Dutchman, and some of my men were making a mutiny about
taking her, and my gunner” (Moore) “told the people he could put the
captain in a way to take the ship and be safe. Says I, ‘How will you do
that?’ The gunner answers, ‘We will get the captain and men aboard.’ ‘And
what then?’ ‘We will go aboard the ship and plunder her, and we could
have it under their hands that we did not take her.’ Says I, ‘That is
Judas-like. I dare not do such a thing.’ Says he, ‘We may do it; we are
beggars already.’ ‘Why,’ says I, ‘may we take this ship because we are
poor?’ Upon that a mutiny arose.”

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Palmer, the King’s evidence, admitted that on this occasion there were
nine men with muskets who were for taking the ship and that Kidd was
against their doing so. The same incident was thus described at the trial
by Parrott, one of the youngsters of the crew, a Plymouth boy of nineteen
years of age at the date of the trial.
“I shall tell you how it happened according to the best of my knowledge.
The commander fortuned to come up with this Captain Hoar’s ship, and some
were for taking her, and some not. And afterwards there was a little
sort of a mutiny and some were in arms, the greater part. And they said
they would take the ship. And the commander was not for it; and so they
resolved to go away in a boat and take her. Captain Kidd said: ‘If you
desert my ship, you shall never come aboard again, and I will force you
into Bombay, and I will carry you before some of the council there.’
Insomuch that my commander stilled them, and they remained on board.”
It is easy to understand that although for the nonce the mutiny was
quelled, it left bad blood behind between Kidd and Moore, the spokesman
of the mutineers. About a fortnight afterwards another altercation arose
between them, which ended in Kidd’s knocking Moore down with a bucket.
According to Parrott, it arose in this way: “Moore said, ‘Captain, I
could have put you in the way to have taken the ship, and have never been
the worse for it.’ He says, ‘Would you have me take this ship? I cannot
answer it. They are our friends!’ And my commander was in a passion, and
with that I went off the deck. I understand that afterwards the blow was
given, but how I cannot tell.”
From the evidence given by the cook and a seaman named Barlicorn, who
remained on deck, it appears that Moore upbraided Kidd and said, “You
have brought us to ruin, and we are desolate;” and that Kidd said, “Have
I brought you to ruin? I have not done an ill thing to ruin you. You are
a saucy fellow to say those words.” And then he took up the bucket and
gave him a blow with it.
The version given by Palmer, the King’s evidence, was this: “Captain Kidd
came and walked upon the deck, and walks by this Moore. And when he came
to him he says, ‘Which way could you have put me in a way to take this
ship and been clear?’ ‘Sir,’ says Moore, ‘I never spoke such a word nor
ever thought such a thing.’ Upon which Captain Kidd called him ‘a lousie
dog.’ And says William Moore, ‘If I am a lousie dog, you have made me
so. You have brought me to ruin and many more.’ Upon his saying this,
says Captain Kidd, ‘Have I ruined you, you dog?’ and took the bucket and
struck him on the right side of his head, of which he died the next day.
Repeating the words two or three times, he took a turn or two on the deck
and then struck him.”
Kidd admitted at the trial that he had given the blow; but pleaded that
he had all the provocation in the world given him; that he had no design
to kill Moore and no malice or spleen against him. It was not done
designedly but in his passion, for which he was heartily sorry.
It is not certain that Moore died of the blow, for one witness deposed
that Bradenham, the surgeon, who subsequently deserted Kidd at Madagascar
to join the pirate Culliford, said at the time, “This blow was not the
cause of his death,” and that Moore had been on the sick list for some
time before. It is only fair to say, however, that Bradenham denied this.
Whether or not Moore died from the blow, it is clear that he was the
spokesman of the mutineers on the two occasions on which dispute arose
between Kidd and his crew as to the plundering of the Dutch ship, that
he upbraided Kidd for his not allowing his men to commit a gross act of
piracy, and that his death had the effect of quieting the mutineers for a
Coming next to the two cases in which Kidd did take prizes in the
course of this voyage, according to his own illiterate but intelligible
narrative, he met in November, 1697, “A Moore’s ship of about 200 tons,
coming from Surratt, bound for the coast of Malabar, loaded with two
horses, sugar, and cotton in trade there, having about 40 Moors on board,
with a Dutch pilot, boatswain and gunner, which said ship the narrator
hailed and commanded” [? The Master] “on board. And with him came eight
or nine of the Moors and the three Dutchmen who declared it was a Moor’s
ship and” (were) “demanded their pass from Surrat, which they showed and
the same was a French pass which he believes was shown by mistake. For
the pilot swore sacramentally she was a prize and staid on board the
_Galley_ and would not return on board the Moor’s ship, but went in the
_Galley_ to the port of St. Marie’s.”[4]
This statement is corroborated by such of his crew as returned with
him to America, from whose depositions it further appears that all the
Christians ultimately remained in the _Galley_ and “took up arms there,”
that the Moors had the long boat given them to go on shore, which was two
leagues distant; and that Captain Kidd and his men sold the cotton and
horses to the natives of the country for money and gold, but kept the
ship itself with them and carried her to Madagascar, the _Galley_ being
very leaky. The King’s evidence against Kidd was practically to the same
This was a prize of no great value, but such as it was he and his men
were no doubt glad enough to lay hands on it. For they must by this time
have been running short of money, and it was the first capture they had
made. Moreover, their own ship being very leaky, they were glad to keep
it in company.
Shortly afterwards, on the fifth of February, 1698, they came across
a very different ship, the _Quedagh Merchant_, an extremely valuable
prize. Sailing under French colours, as Kidd frankly admits “with
a design to decoy,” he met, to quote his own words, “with a Bengal
merchantman belonging to Surratt of the burden of four or five hundred
tons, and he commanded the master on board. And a Frenchman, an
inhabitant of Surratt, and belonging to the French factory there, came
on board as master; and when he came on board the narrator caused the
English colours to be hoisted and the said master was surprised and said,
‘You are English,’ and asking which was the captain. Whom when he saw, he
said, ‘Here is a good prize,’ and delivered him the French pass.”
There is no reason to believe that this is not a perfectly correct
account of the taking of the ship; but for the capture of which it
is improbable that any complaint against Kidd would ever have been
made by the East India Company. Kidd’s own account of the capture is
corroborated even by the King’s evidence, Bradenham, who states that
Kidd chased the ship under French colours, and that when he came up with
her he commanded the master on board. “And there came,” he says, “an old
Frenchman in the boat; and after he had been aboard awhile” (mark the
subtlety of the word “awhile.” Who would have conceived that it meant
five or six days?), “he told Captain Kidd that he was not the captain
but the gunner, and Kidd sent for the captain, whose name was Wright.”
Palmer, the other King’s evidence, says he was not on board when the ship
was taken. At the trial Kidd went more fully into this incident than in
his narrative. “My lord,” he said, “this Frenchman was aboard for five
or six days before I understood there was any Englishman aboard. ‘Well?’
said I. ‘What are you?–an Englishman?’ ‘I am, master.’ ‘What have you to
show for it?’ ‘Nothing.’”
Fortunately the French passes given to Kidd on the taking of both prizes
were carefully preserved by him. He sent them to the Earl of Bellamont
on his first arrival in American waters, and Bellamont forwarded them to
the Admiralty. They were included amongst the papers relating to Kidd,
delivered in at the clerk’s table of the House of Commons by the chairman
of the committee appointed to sort the papers received from Bellamont
and report thereon. Verbatim copies of them are to be found in the
Journals of the House of Commons (Vol. 18, page 21), and are printed in
Appendix C of this work. They constitute the most important documentary
evidence that could have been forthcoming at Kidd’s trial; but although
the Admiralty officials had them in their possession, and the House of
Commons had directed that Kidd should have access to them, and although
Kidd pleaded hard for a postponement of his trial in order that they
might be produced, not only were they not produced, but the jury and
judge were led to suppose that they existed only in Kidd’s imagination.
The belated suggestion made by the Englishman Wright that he was the
master of the ship, coupled with an offer on the part of the Armenians to
redeem the prize for twenty thousand rupees, a wholly inadequate sum,[5]
seems to have raised some doubt in Kidd’s cautious Scotch mind as to the
expediency of carrying off the ship to America in accordance with his
sailing orders. He called his crew on deck and consulted them as to the
course they should take. They voted not to accept the proffered ransom
but to take her to Madagascar, which he decided to do, Madagascar lying
in the direct route for America. His sailing orders[6] from Bellamont as
to the course he should take with any prizes were explicit. They were:
“You are to sail directly to Boston or New England, there to deliver to
me the whole of the prizes, treasure, merchandise, and other things you
shall have taken by virtue of the powers and authorities granted you.”
The only contingency in which he might depart from them was, “if you
shall fall in with any English ship bound for England having good convoy,
you are in such case to keep them company and bring all your prizes to
London.” It is difficult to see how, in the face of these orders, he
could have done otherwise than take his two prizes to Madagascar.
As a matter of fact, he set sail at once with both; and according to his
narrative “sailing thither the _Galley_ was so leaky that they feared she
would have sunk every hour; and it required eight men every two glasses
to keep her free; and” (he) “was forced to woold her round with cables
to keep her together, and with much ado carried her into the port of St.
Marie’s, where they arrived the first day of April, 1698.”
On her way to Madagascar the _Adventure Galley_ unfortunately seems to
have fallen in with a Portuguese ship. According to the deposition[7] of
William Jinkins, a London lad, one of the boys who had remained faithful
to Kidd, “she also in her passage to St. Marie’s aforesaid took a Bark
or Ship, navigated with Portuguese. She came from Bengall and was bound
to Goa, and had on board, Bengalls, Muslins, Calicoes, and other things,
which the _Galley’s_ Company began to plunder and bring on board the
_Galley_: but seeing several Ships coming towards them the said _Galley_
with the other two prizes she had taken, came to sail, and left the said
last Prize at a place between Brin John and Angingo, so called from being
an English and Dutch factory; and left on board the same all the company
belonging thereto, except the Master Merchant and seven men more that
had come on board the _Galley_, when she first took the said Ship.” This
deposition made two years before Kidd’s trial was confirmed in substance
by two other lads, Barlicorn and Lumley. At the trial, Bradenham, the
King’s evidence, told the story thus: “We met with a Portuguese ship off
the coast of Malabar and he” (_i. e._, Kidd) “took her and he took out of
her some opium, some East India goods, some plunder and sixty or seventy
bags of rice.” Asked by Kidd whether he had seen them brought on board,
Bradenham evaded the question by saying: “I am answering the bench.” In
reply to a further question by the Solicitor General, “Were there any
other goods,” he replied: “Yes, there was bees’ wax and thirty jars of
This is the only vessel with respect to which there is any good ground
for suspecting that Kidd’s proceedings were irregular. His omission to
make any reference to this ship in his narrative is significant; and
points to the conclusion that he felt some difficulty in justifying
what had been done. It is not improbable that he was forced by stress
of circumstances to acquiesce in what was undoubtedly an act of piracy
on the part of his crew, though it may have been regarded by them as
a very justifiable reprisal for the damage and loss of life which the
_Galley_ had sustained by the recent unprovoked attack of the Portuguese
man-of-war. That Kidd was placed by their action in this case in great
difficulty is obvious. In their then temper, it is unlikely that if he
had had time to reason with them, he could have induced them to return
to the Portuguese the goods they had wrongfully brought on board the
_Galley_. As it was, the sudden appearance of several other ships bearing
down on them left him no alternative, but either to make off at once, or
to hand over the wrongdoers to be dealt with by their enemies, who might
in the meanwhile themselves make off with his two lawful prizes. Kidd’s
paramount object during his voyage seems to have been to do his best for
his employers, and he may well have thought that it was not to their
interest that he should await the arrival of the approaching ships.