Yesterday I had all kinds of technical troubles with the post; today it is going to be an idle thought about piracy.
I don’t consider taking up a career in piracy, but it does seem to have a few things to recommend it. Notably, piracy seems to be one of those careers where you can secure lasting acclaim by honestly not being very good at it. In fact, of all the famous pirate captains in the world, only a few — Morgan and “Long Ben” Every most notably — managed to get away without getting hanged or having their stupid heads blown off.
All the really good pirate stories are in Captain Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates, which is usually attributed to Daniel Defoe on textual grounds. Textual grounds make my teeth itch, but what do I know?
Anyway, to return to it being OK to suck as a pirate, it’s true. Captain Kidd barely did any piracy at all, and was promptly caught and strung up. Calico Jack Rackham was stinking drunk when the law came for him and didn’t put up a fight at all. Bartholomew Roberts (whose real name was John Roberts — I have no idea why that is) stood on the deck of the Royal Fortune, apparently bravely defying the Royal Navy when they, as they do, gunned him down. At least Blackbeard put up a bit of a fight.
One of the things you notice when you do a little pirate reading is that pirate ships were basically beater cars. Pirates would run around the high seas playing Grand Theft Auto; grab a ship you like, sail it until it’s so fucked up by teredo worms it can barely float, ditch it. Shipyards and proper maintenance were high-cost investments that respectable merchants and navies could afford, but pirates didn’t really have the option.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pirates. And I am not alone. The golden age of piracy inspires all kinds of stuff, from stirring adventure novels to … to … whatever the hell this is.
You know, I love living in the internet age. Check out this sweet-ass online version of the 2nd edition of Johnson’s book. How cool is that?