Page images
PDF
EPUB

night, Benavides and his party. Benavides escaped. His next in command, an Italian desperado, named Martilini, who had formerly been a boatswain in a patriot vessel, with which, heading a mutiny, he ran away from Guayaquil, was wounded by Roberton with a lance, but made his escape also. In retaliation for the atrocities of Benavides and his gang, Roberton hung all his prisoners, fifty or sixty in number.

Some time after, Roberton was permitted by the Chileno government to take possession of the uninhabited island of La Mocha, thirty leagues south of Concepcion, and became known by the name of Robinson Crusoe. He engaged a Chileno servant as his man Friday, and each took a Chilena wife, à la main gauche. It happened that Martilini, the Italian desperado, was subsequently put in command of the Quintanilla. Sailing from Chiloe, he landed with a party at Mocha, and took off Roberton, who was instantly put into irons, and reserved for torture. Martilini frequently threatened him with some terrible death, and accompanied his threats by blows. In a gale of wind, Roberton was released, and, on account of his superior seamanship, requested to take the command. The ship weathered the storm, and Roberton was permitted to walk the deck. He was taken to Quilca, whence he made his escape, in a neutral vessel, to Chile. He left behind a note, signifying to Martilini that, as he (Roberton) did not owe his life to the other's generosity, but to his fears, he was under no obligation; and he gave warning, that, in the event of their meeting again, one of the two must fall. Roberton took a passage from Val

VOL. II.

K

paraiso in the Congreso, and by a curious coincidence, the pirate driven into the caleta, or cove of Quilca, was the Quintanilla. When the armed launches were seen issuing from the cove, Roberton expressed his determination not to be taken alive.

The Congreso, upon her arrival, pursued the Quintanilla so close into the mouth of the caleta, that, upon the wind dying away in the afternoon, she was obliged to let go her anchor to leeward, at no great distance from the rocks, upon which the surf broke, with tremendous roar. During the night, an officer was sent to request assistance from a French brig of war at anchor to windward of the caleta. When daylight appeared, the French boats approached to within hail. The officer, with a speaking trumpet, offered to receive the people, but refused to give any assistance to the vessel, on the plea that to do so would be an infraction of neutrality.

By this time the Congreso had drifted so near to the outward wake of the breakers, that the officers and crew got into their boats, and were on the point of leaving her to her fate. Roberton was about to push off from the side, when he perceived a light air, and hopes of saving the brig darted across his mind. He jumped on board again, calling out to the seamen, that volunteers might follow. Captain Young was also instantly upon deck, followed by his ship's company. At this critical moment, the pirate launches were again seen pulling out of the creek. The only chance of escaping with life was to save the brig, because the pirates paid no respect to any flag;

and a retreat to the boats of the French vessel would have been no protection.

The cable of the Congreso was cut; but she made so little way for the first hour, that, whether she was to be dashed on the rocks by the swell, or to get out to sea, appeared to be an even chance; but the breeze freshened, and enabled them to clear the shore, and the brig stood off and on all day.

Roberton, being more than ever anxious to settle the reckoning with his Italian acquaintance, planned the cutting out of the privateer. Eleven at night was the time appointed for his adventurous supporters to hold themselves in readiness. As the bell struck the hour, Roberton's voice was heard throughout the brig, summoning to their post the boarding party, of about forty volunteers. The men came on deck with an air of steady resolution, but without any appearance of eager alacrity; for they had scarcely shaken off their drowsiness, and the elements seemed to conspire against them. The night was very dark; the sea ran high; and the wind whistled through the rigging with dreary cadence to the sullen roar of the surge upon the strand. The flitting light of lanterns rather increased, than dissipated, the gloom which overhung the commencement of this desperate undertaking. Roberton bade good bye to a younger brother, lately arrived from Scotland, and then shook hands with Miller and Captain Young, saying, as he left them, "The weather is against us; but, if we can only make the caleta, and if my men stick by me, we'll have the Quintanilla before daybreak:” He and his followers then stepped into the launch,

but not without difficulty and danger, on account of the roughness of the sea. The launch shoved off; but the night continued so dark and windy, that Roberton was unable to find the mouth of the inlet. The launch was blown considerably to leeward, but was picked up, next day, by the Congreso, which immediately made sail to the northward.

Two days afterwards the Quintanilla left the Cove of Quilca, and, on passing near the French brig of war, anchored in the roadstead, fired three or four shots at her, by way of bravado. The weather changing to a calm, the boats of the French brig carried the privateer by boarding. Martilini was conveyed to France*.

Roberton distinguished himself in 1824 and 1825 before the castles of Callao. After they surrendered he was immured in the casemates, by order of Bolivar, for some political offence. He, however, made his escape from these horrid dungeons in an extraordinary manner.

He knocked down two or three sentries he had occasion to pass; ran through the gate, in the presence of the main guard; threw himself into the sea; and swam off to a merchant vessel. He has, it seems, since returned to his island of Mocha.

On arriving, on the 11th of May, off Callao, Miller left the Congreso, which remained cruising off the bay, and went on board of her prize, the Vigie. He continued at anchor in the roads for twenty-four hours, and made an appointment to meet

* He again (1828) commands a Spanish privateer in the Pacific, and has made prizes on the Chileno and Peruvian coasts.

the royalist General Loriga on board the British frigate Tartar, to dine with Captain Brown; but an open smack from Truxillo, bringing a report that Bolivar had actually commenced his march for the interior, induced Miller not to delay his departure; and the meeting of the two friends, so much desired by both, did not take place*.

On arriving off Supe, at night, on the 14th of May, Miller was obliged to take upon himself the office of pilot, as no one else on board had seen that part of the coast before. He committed some mistake in making the land, and the vessel was brought up where, if the anchor had been dropped, she must have gone ashore in a surf, which nothing could have withstood. Fortunately the error was discovered in time. He did not recollect much about the headlands; but feeling very anxious to get ashore, and having only a very young midshipman, with eight or ten indifferent sailors, the Vigie was steered at dusk towards a small bay, which fortunately turned out to be the port of Supe. The night was beautifully clear, and the stars twinkled with unusual brilliancy. At eleven P.M. the Vigie was brought to an anchor under the lee of some high land, and just without the broad line of surf, which breaks upon the strand with ceaseless foam. The holding ground proved very bad, and the anchor drove, upon which a second was let go. A suspicious-looking schooner was then discovered lying within a cable's length from the Vigie. She

General Loriga, who had served the cause of the king with great talent and fidelity, sailed shortly afterwards to his native country. He now holds an important command in the Havannah.

« PreviousContinue »