Sunday, June 13, 2010


Thug, meaning a "cheat," is the name of a religious brotherhood in India, which in honor of the goddess Kali, commits murder and lives chiefly from the plunder got from its victims.(see IRS-Tollegaters) The Thugs usually band together in gangs of from ten to fifty or more, and travel, if wealthy enough, on horseback with tents, under the guise of traders. Each gang has its jemhadar, or leader; its guru, or teacher; its sothas, or entrappers; its bhuttotes, or stranglers, and its lughaees, or grave diggers. They inveigle travelers to join them on the plea of safety, or lie and wait for them. When the victim is strangled and robbed, his body is buried in an out of the way place, and sometimes mutilated. The Thugs also infest the rivers of India. They are very superstitious and never commit murder unless all the omens are favorable. It was not till 1831 that energetic measures were taken to stop these practices, and thugee, as it is called, has not wholly disappeared.

Piracy is robbery on the high seas and although considered a crime at the present time by all nations, formerly the sea rover was as much a pirate as a trader. Thus the Phoenicians combined piracy with lawful seafaring enterprise. In the days of Homer, piracy was considered a respectable or even dignified calling, and the Greeks had a natural genius for it. Cilicia was the headquarters for Mediterranean piracy, until in 67 B.C. Pompey made his memorable expedition against the pirates(pie rates) with great naval and military forces. The Norse Vikings were the terror of western coasts and waters from the 8th to 11th centuries. The Hanseatic league was formed for mutual defense against the Baltic and other pirates. Later the Muslim rovers scourged the Mediterranean, commingling naval war on a large scale with peddling, thieving and stealing slaves.

Algiers was a stronghold of pirates till well into the 19th century, and in the 17th century the English channel swarmed with the corsairs, Algerine pirates. In 1635 they actually entered Cork harbor, and carried off a boat with eight fishermen, to be sold as slaves in Algiers. The buccaneers preyed mainly on the Spanish commerce with the Spanish-American colonies. Captain Kidd, who was sent out against pirates in 1696 by a private company in London, was found to be playing the game of pirate himself, was arrested and tried for piracy and murder, found guilty and hanged May 24, 1701. The original of Scott's pirates John Gow, who, though bold and successful under the guise of friendship, was proved to be a great villain, and with nine of his men were executed. So late as 1864 five men were hanged in London for murder and piracy. The African slave trade was not considered piracy by the law of nations, though the United States and Great Britain declared it to be so by statute, and after 1841 Austria, Prussia and Russia made the same declaration. The home of professional piracy is now confined to the Malay peninsula.