Page images
PDF
EPUB

threats were resorted to. Exercising the right which belongs to every man, in politics, as well as in religion, I mean the right of private judgment, he, in conjunction with a number of his neighbours, enrolled himself in a corps of volunteers, for the joint purpose of defending private property, and supporting the royal cause. The iron hand of war was now stretched out, and unrelenting cruelty towards each other, had taken possession of the hearts of those persons, who were formerly united by the ties of neighbourly affection; consequently, a band of enraged incendiaries, about 150 in number, mostly black slaves belonging to the neighbouring planters, and, no doubt excited by their masters, attacked my father's house in his absence, plundered it of every valuable article, and finally burned it to the ground. From this alarming catastrophe, my mother and a few domestics narrowly escaped with their lives, and were obliged to seek shelter in the neighbouring woods, where they were exposed to the inclemency of the weather during a severe winter night. It would indeed be painful to me to enter minutely into the sufferings of my parents at this eventful period; suffice it to say, they were stript of their all, and were left destitute and forlorn.

Down to the period of which I am now speaking, no political question had ever given rise to more controversy than the American war. It is not

my

business to enter into discussion of the subject; all that remains necessary for me to say, is, a word or two in relation to my father's political conduct. That man who would not rejoice in being able to speak well of a departed parent, is not entitled to the name of nan, and cannot be characterised by the feelings common to our nature. It affords me, then, a degree of pleasure to reflect, that my father must have acted throughout from principle. On this point I am perfectly satisfied, when I consider him rejecting emolument, despising threats, volunteering in the royal cause, forsaking his own hoine, and thereby leaving his family and property exposed, braving every danger, serving during five campaigns, and continuing active in the cause he had espoused, as long as he could be useful

to it.

Being attached to that part of the army under the immediate command of Lord Cornwallis, he was taken prisoner when that gallant General was compelled to surrender to a superior force. His health, during these disasters, was much impaired, and on being liberated, he thought of returning to Europe, in hopes that the air of his native country would restore him to his wonted state of health and vigour. My mother was now residing near New-York, in the house of a friend, and thither he directed his steps. There he abode for a year, and found his health so much improred, that he determined to lose no more time in America, but prepared to re-cross the Atlantic,

“And anxious to review his pative shore,

“ Upon the roaring waves embarked once more." Bound for Liverpool, the vessel set sail, under the guidance of Capt. Smith, and my parents bade a final adieu to the shores of Columbia ; what my father's feelings were at this crisis, it would be difficult to

describe. Separated from that country in which his best hopes centred—cut off from the enjoyment of his lawful possessions, without a probability of ever regaining them-impaired in his constitution, and crossed in all his former prospects, we may view him mourning over his misfortunes, and devising plans for his future exertions. It is true, he might have consoled himself with the pleasing reflection, that he was now about to revisit his native land, to meet with his nearest relations and best friends, and to spend the remainder of his days in the place of his nativity, in peace and safety ; but how vain and transient are the hopes of mortal man! All his joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, anxious cares, and premature plans, were shortly to terminate with himself, and I was to be left at four years

of age,

destitute of a father. They had scarcely lost sight of land when his disease returned with increased violence, and twelve days after the vessel left New-York, he expired. The reader will not consider my situation utterly deplorable, while he thinks that still I had a mother to take care of me, and to assist me in my childish years. True, I had a mother, and a mother who survived my father; but it was only for twenty minutes !—for being in the last stage of pregnancy, the shock occasioned by his death brought on premature labour, and terminated her existence. Thus, on a sudden, I lost both father and mother, saw them sewed up in the same hammock, and committed to a watery grave !

“My mother, when I learned that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?

Hover'd thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? Perhaps thou gav’st me, though unfelt, a kiss, Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss,Ah ! that maternal sinile, it answers Yes.Here my misfortunes did not end; I was seized by the small pox, and for want of a mother's care, and proper medical aid, this most loathsome disease deprived me of my sight. After a long and dangerous voyage, it being a hurricane almost all the time, the Captain was obliged to put into Belfast harbour, as the ship had suffered much in her masts, rigging, &c. and the crew were nearly exhausted. When we arrived there, I had not recovered from the effects of my late illuess, the symptoms of which were at one period so violent, as to threaten instant dissolution ; to make me the more comfortable, I was sent immediately to Belfast. The following circumstance is still fresh in my recollection : the vessel was four miles from the town, and one of the seamen, who had been my nurse from the time of iny mother's death, and who, during the passage, rendered me all the assistance which his situation allowed, kept me on his knee in the boat, and this kind hearted individual administered the only cordial be possessed, which was rum and water.

There was no time lost by Captain Smith in applying to the church-warden in my behalf, and, in order to prevent me from becoming a charge to the parish, he deposited in his hands a sum of money, sufficient to pay the expense of supporting me for five years, and I was soon provided with a nurse.

The reader, by this time, will be curious to know how I came by the information contained in the preceding pages. I am indebted for these particulars, at least so far as they concern my family's misfortunes in America, to the kindness of Mr. Freeman, who came passenger in the same ship. With this worthy gentleman, my mother had remained during my father's absence, and as I have already observed, she was received as one of the family, and treated with all that humanity and attention which her forlorn situation required. Mr. Freeman had been the sincere friend of my father from a short time after he landed in America; their age and their pursuits were the same, and their habits, tastes, and dispositions were congenial. Under these circumstances, a friendship was commenced, which, through a long series of vicissitudes and misfortunes, remained unbrokenfriendship which only ended with my father's life. Although, at one time, party politics ran high, and although my father joined the royal standard, while Mr. Freeman was a zealous republican, such were the liberal sentiments of this gentleman, that he never entertained towards his friend the least hostile feeling; and when my father was injured in bis property, and persecuted for his opinions, he was always sure to find an asylum under the roof of this good and worthy man. While the vessel in which I came to Ireland was under repair, he and his family resided at Palmer's Hotel, Belfast, where, in the hearing of Mrs. Palmer, he related the particulars of his early acquaintance with his deceased friend, and he subsequent misfortunes which befell him in America, till

« PreviousContinue »