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men from massacre by natives of the Marshall Islands. A Dennis captain, in 1820, had been murdered by pirates off Madeira. Another Dennis captain, of the barque Lubra, lost his life as late as 1865, when, one day out of Hong Kong, he was overhauled by so large a force of pirates that resistance was hopeless. Some of the crew took to the rigging, and two of them were shot there; others jumped overboard and were picked up by the pirates, who boarded the barque and proceeded to ansack her. The captain, whom they found in the cabin with his wife and child, they shot dead. Then, having stolen all valuables, destroyed the boats and nautical instruments, and set fire to the ship, they made off, leaving the crew to their fate. But with true Cape Cod pluck, the survivors of the tragedy managed to save the ship and somehow navigated her back to Hong Kong.
They were now sailing seas the world over, these Cape Cod men: farmers, fishermen, whalers as they had been, they were manning merchant ships that were carrying the American flag into every port. Yet from the first they had furnished some seamen for the traders: for as early as 1650, it is said, both at Saint Christopher's and Barbadoes, “New England produce was in great demand”; and Gorhams and Dimmocks of Barnstable had acquired fortunes in the coasting and West Indies trade. An interesting little industry, in addition to fishing on the Banks, was carried on by a few boats that were fitted out to go to the Labrador coast to collect, on the rocky islands offshore, feathers and eider-down for the Cape Cod housewives. There, in the nesting-season, were held great battues, when the birds were killed wholesale with clubs or brooms made of spruce branches. Rich tells us that the sack that left home filled with straw returned filled with down for bed and pillows, "the latter called 'pillow bears,' and apostrophized by the old people as 'pille'bers.'” Mountainous beds of feathers or down were then in order, and “boys used to joke about rigging a jury-mast and rattle down the shrouds to climb into bed.” Two Barnstable men, we know, coopers and farmers by trade, went on some of these "feather voyages," which, however, were not long continued, as the merciless slaughter made the birds wary of their old haunts.
As early as 1717 hundreds of ships in the year were clearing from Boston and Salem for Newfoundland and “British plantations on the continent," for “foreign plantations,” and the West Indies and the Bay of Campeachy, for European ports and Madeira and the Azores. And when all Europe was exhausted by the Napoleonic struggle, the United States, neutral and safe three thousand miles away, snapped up the carrying trade of the world; from fish cargoes for the hungry combatants the transition was easy to more varied commodities. Their own wars, French and English, had been good training schools for men of enterprise, and immediately the Cape Cod sailors were to prove their mettle in this new era of adventure. They bought shares in the ships they sailed, and profited, and bought more. Some of them, shrewd traders by instinct, gave up the sea for an office ashore, and as East India merchants laid the secure foundation of more than one snug urban fortune that survives to-day.
1 Sixty years ago the thread snapped in that fine seapiece of the American foreign trade, and now the calling and time of those deep-water sailors are dead as Nineveh. But Old Cape Cod was one with the illimitable seas and the spot most loved by men for whom the ocean was a workroom where fortunes might be made to spend at home. No picture of these men could be complete without the background of their life afloat. For five decades Yankee ships were weaving at the great loom of the Western Ocean to set the splendid colors of European adventure into new patterns of romance. Their tea-frigates raced around the “Cape” to the Far East; they took the short cut about Scotland to bargain with Kronstadt and Hamburg and Elsinore; barques and brigantines and fullriggers caught the “brave west winds” at the right slant and made record voyages past old Leeuwin, the Cape of Storms, standing out there to give them a last toss as they "ran down by” to Port Philip and “Melbun” and Sydney; clipper ships, the fastest under sail that have ever been known, winged their way around to “Frisco” in the great days of '49. Cargoes sold there at a fabulous price, and then, short-handed, perhaps, because of desertion to the gold-fields, the great ships rushed by San Diego and Callao, rich ports enough for other times, and, storm or shine, swung 'round the Horn, “... the fine keen bows of the stately clippers steering Towards the lone northern star and the fair ports of home,”
to load again, and return by the path they had come.
Yankee captains who crowded on sail every hour in the twenty-four had soon out-raced stolid John Company's ships in the Far East; but back in the seventeen-hundreds, before Maury had written on nav gation, they thanked England for their sailing texts, and notably the “English Pilot,” printed by Messrs Mount & Page on Tower Hill, to show “the Courses and Distances from one place to another, the Ebbing and Flowing of the Sea, the Setting of Tides and Currents.” “We shall say no more," cry Mount & Page, “but let it commend itself, and all knowing Mariners are desired to lend their Assistance and Information towards the perfecting of this useful work.” Every inch of water is charted, the land invites with names of eld; the black letterpress, with the long lisping s, tells of the great Western Ocean, water and rim, from Barbary to Hispaniola, from Frobisher's Meta Incognita to the “Icey Sea." of the Far South. There are burning mountains and cliffs, castles and towns, treacherous rocks and tides; and west of a certain “white mount” on Darien three peaks are sharply etched, and the legend, “Here hath been Gold found.” Due regard is had to eastern and western variation, and the line of no variation at