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was born in 1590, a Cornishman, but on the banks of the Tamar, in the town of St. Germains, which, however, does not appear to have been more than a poor little straggling village of fisherman. Travel. ling on the Continent, he made the acquaintance of the Duke of Buckingham, the favourite of James I. Perhaps the acquaintance was not very intimate or very deep; it seems likely, however, that to it Eliot owed his position of Vice-Admiral of Devon. When, however, Eliot entered into public life, the opinions and careers of the two men were so divergent, that it is probable that, by his great impeachment of the Duke, Eliot would have taken away his head had not Felton's lance anticipated the headsman's stroke.
Eliot entered Parliament in his twenty-fourth year as member for the borough of St. Germains, and he found himself in company with some of the men whose names were to be allied with his own in working out the English redemption. John Hampden, three or four years younger than Eliot, had not yet finished his studies in the Inner Temple; but there were Pym, Philips, Sir Edward Joel, Sir Edward Sands, and Whitelock, and, amphibiously bowing about, but scarcely giving a hint of the vast space he was to fill by his power in the future, Sir Thomas Wentworth, soon afterwards created Earl of Strafford. Buckingham was the favourite,—the most unprincipled of favourites,but Lord High Admiral of England. And here we are most likely to discover the cause of Eliot's elevation to the Vice-Admiralty of Devon. The Duke, probably, soon found that he had made a mistake in the appointment of Eliot to this post. The western coast was ravaged by pirates, and Eliot does not appear to have understood that it was quite possible for, perhaps almost expected that, the admiral and the pirate, especially if he were an English pirate, should understand each other. Not only Turkish rovers swept round our seas, but wild, lawless, dissolute Englishmen, bold bravadoes capable of every crime, who, when they were wearied and foiled in their adventures upon Spanish dollars and doubloons, varied the pleasantry of their occupation by more homely and less toilsome endeavours, seizing our own merchant ships, surprising and pouncing upon villages and small towns along the coast, and, in innumerable ways, creating a fear and a dread on the land and on the sea. What seems most marvellous to us now, is that such men should be frequently shielded and patronized by Govern ment, or Government favourites, for their own ends and purposes !
This was the case, just then, with one who had obtained the most infamous distinction, Captain John Nutt, one of the most daring sea-devils of that lawless time. He was an untakable man, and he had several pirate ships. He commenced his career as gunner of a vessel in Dartmouth harbour bound for the Newfoundland seas. Coming to Newfoundland, he collected a crew of pleasant fellows like himself;
they seized a French ship, also a large Plymouth ship, then a Flemish ship, and, with these gay rovers, he played off his depredations on the fishing craft of the Newfoundland seas, and came back, too strong for capture, to the western coasts of England. Arrived there, this worthy played off new devilries : he tempted men from the king's service by the promises of higher wages, and—what alas ! might easily be promised in those dreary days, more certain payment; he hung about Torbay, laughed at threats, scoffed at promises of pardon, although more than one offer had been made conditionally. The whole western country was in a state of dread, and municipalities poured their entreaties upon the Council and upon Eliot in his office of Vice-Admiral.
What did it all avail ? Capture seemed a mere dream, a hopeless thing. Sometimes he touched the shore, and, as was the wont with those bold fellows, when he did so, he was fond of exhibiting himself in the dress of the men he had plundered. The mind of Eliot was moved at these things. Sir George Calvert, a great Court favourite, had interests in Newfoundland; to him Nutt was necessary, and he appears to have obtained pardons for the pirate. Copies of the pardons were issued to Eliot,-it was his design to make the pardons useless; he was bound on capturing the pirate, but the pirate was too wary for the admiral. At last he had recourse to negotiation ; but even while the negotiation for submission was in progress, Nutt made it still further unavailing by the capture of a rich Colchester ship with a cargo of sugar and timber. Eliot immediately insisted that this should be given up; the daring pirate was indignant at the command; and now Eliot became yet
l more crafty. But how remarkable is all this as illustrating the state of the times, that only the admiral should have been in earnest to take the man, and he had to represent to the Government how ill-deserved pardon and grace to such a man would be ; that during the period of three months since the pardon had been issued, this lively specimen of an ancient British sailor had occupied his time in committing depredations and spoils on the coast, in one week had taken ten or twelve ships, and, while the pardon was in negotiation, had seized the Colchester brig with a freightage of £4,000! In the end, however, Eliot did manage to get possession of him. He seized Nutt's ship, took down her sails, and put a guard on board her, and then wrote to the Council, waiting to hear in what way he was to deal with the pirate and the men. The pirate was more powerful than the admiral. Buccaneers, and especially such a buccaneer as Nutt,-an immensely wealthy man, a daring, resolute, and serviceable man-had friends at Court, especially, as we have seen, a friend in Calvert. It is marvellous to relate, that Nutt was permitted to become the accuser of the admiral—the admiral who had been first congratulated by Conway, the Secretary of State, for his daring and magnanimous conduct, and who had been told by letter that
he was to receive the king's thanks and to kiss the king's hand in acknowledgment of his rescue of the western counties and seas from Nutt's piracy, plunder, and murder. That admiral, our readers will understand, for that very transaction of seizing that pirate, the month following, lay in the Marshalsea prison upon some frivolous pretences; whilst the happy and blithe-hearted pirate and plunderer stepped forth with a free and unconditional pardon, to renew his pleasant adventures on the seas. Of course there had to seem some pretext of law for this; but law, in the person of the Chief Justice, Sir Henry Marten, soon shrivelled up all these pretexts. Sir John Eliot, indeed, did escape from prison and from all punishment, but not with such flying colours as Nutt," that unlucky fellow, Captain Nutt," as Sir George Calvert called him,--poor penitent pirate! Whatever Nutt said, what protestations he made, we know not; a shaggy black dog like that making a clean breast of it is a queer picture to us. « This poor man," says Sir George, " is able to do the king service if he be employed, and I do assure myself he doth so detest his former course of life, he will never enter on it again." So the Vice-Admiral of Devon
was weighed in the scales against a freebooter of the seas, and found wanting! The whole man seems to come out in the indignant truthfulness running through Sir John's letter. Nay, the admiral was to pay a fine of £100 to the pirate for his ship and goods seized; but here the admiral was tough. One