Friday, April 15, 2011

Booty: "... We Must Fight"

In Rafael Sabatini’s archetypal pirate novel Captain Blood, the titular hero sails his ship between two Spanish galleons, guns blazing both larboard and starboard. The scene is nail-biting in the book but the risk pays off; Blood is successful in his fight with the larger, better armed Spanish foe. The scene was translated nicely to the big screen in the 1935 film of the same name, with Errol Flynn as Blood exhorting his crew through the struggle to ultimate victory.

Though Sabatini claimed that physician turned slave turned pirate Peter Blood and his exploits were inspired by Henry Morgan, it bears noting that Blood is a far better sailor than Morgan ever was – or cared to be. As more than one writer has noted, Blood actually resembles none other than Triple P favorite Laurens de Graff. The tall, handsome, Dutchman whose bravery was legendary among the Brethren of the Coast actually did sail his ship between two galleons of the Spanish Armada and came out the better for it. As all good writers know, you can rarely best history with fiction.

Before de Graff and his crew of French, Dutch, British and African pirates met the famed Armada de Barlovento of the New World, Laurens gave a rousing speech to encourage his fellows to action. Some of de Graff’s impromptu words were documented by Alexander Exquemelin and they ring as true today as they did over 300 years ago:

You are too experienced not to understand the peril we are running and too brave to fear it. It is necessary here to be cautious of all yet to risk all, to defend and attack at the same time. Valor, deception, fear and even despair must all be put to use on this occasion; where, if we fall into the hands of our enemies, nothing awaits us but all sorts of infamies, from the most cruel torments to, finally, the end of life. We must escape their barbarity, and to escape, we must fight.

No matter what life throws at you, Brethren, today or any day, remember the words of Laurens de Graff. Be cautious of all yet risk all but above all: fight.

Header: Errol Flynn as Captain Peter Blood c 1935


Blue Lou Logan said...

Ahoy, Pauline. What a truly fabulous quote.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Lou! I'm pretty sure the good Dr. Exquemelin prettied it up a bit but I'm also sure de Graff shouted words to that effect.

No matter what, it beats the hell out of dozens of far more famous rallying cries.

Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Those are stirring words indeed and should be taken to heart by all who read them.

I am trying to fighting the good fight, Pirate Queen. Unfortunately, my results are not as good as de Graff's...

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! "Valor, deception, fear and even despair must all be put to use..." Even in the face of temporary defeat, we must fight.