exciting adventure with the chance of enormous profit, and it naturally possessed special attractions for the bolder and more reckless spirits. Many of the merchants who fitted out privateers lost heavily, but many others made prizes so rich that the profits of ordinary voyages sank into insignificance by comparison. Spanish treasureships, and French vessels laden with costly stuffs from the West Indies or the Orient, were brought into New York Harbor again and again,often after fights to the severity of which the battered hulls of both the captor and the vanquished vessel bore unequivocal testimony. When the prize was very rich and the crew of the privateer large, the home-coming of the latter meant a riot; for in such a case the flushed privateersmen celebrated their victory with wild orgies and outrages, and finally had to be put down by actual battle in the streets. The landowners were often merchants as well; and more than one of them was able to flank the gateway of his manor-house with the carved prows and figure-heads of the vessels his own privateers had captured.
In time of war both risk and profit were great, yet they were but little less in the short periods of peace, or rather of truce. Under the system of jealous trade-exclusion which then obtained, each trader was a possible smuggler, and the cruisers of every naval power were always harassing the