Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dampier's true love

The explorer and traveling William Dampier was in no sense a traditional romantic. He married in 1678 but only a few months later left his wife, Judith, to go seeking adventure - a buccaneer voyaging all the way around the world. He didn't return for 12 years.

He certainly didn't seem to rush back, and only mentioned his wife once in his journals. He must have had several opportunities to return but chose to keep going, forever onwards.

Or maybe he didn't want to - maybe he was fleeing from the strength of her character. He is known to communicate difficult decisions to her by letter.

Did he find solace on the way? In Mindanaon, in the Philippines, having crossed the long expenses of the Pacific, he, like the rest of the crew, made friendships with local women, a so-called pagally. Did he remain just friends with his pagally?

The chapters of his book that describe their time in Mindanaon are the most vibrant, the most alive of any of his book. So maybe far away from his home in England he did find some romance.

But his true love was to travel. His mind and heart was lost to the horizon and wondering what was beyond it.

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