Page images

so I was taken out of prison after five months, put on board a ship, and sent off with two hundred more to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage, for, being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air; and those that remained were sickly enough. When we came ashore, we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar, - for I did not know my letters, — I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time, as in duty bound to do.


When my time had expired, I worked my passage home; and glad I was to see Old England again, because I loved my country. I was afraid, however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more; so did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs, when I could get them.

I was very happy in this manner for some time, till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down, and then desired me to stand. They belonged to a press-gang. I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man-of-war, or list for a soldier. I chose the latter; and in this post of a gentleman I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy; and received but one wound, through the breast here; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.

When the peace came on, I was discharged; and as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landsman, in the East India Company's service. I have fought the French in six pitched battles; and I verily believe that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion; for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again, with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spend

Campaign, the portion of the year during which an army is in the fiold

ing my money; but the government wanted men, and so I was pressed for a sailor, before ever I could set foot on shore.

The boatswain found me, as he said, an obstinate fellow, 'insisted that I understood my business, but that I liked to be idle; but I knew nothing of sea-business, and he beat me, without considering what he was about. I had still, how ever, my forty pounds, and that was some comfort to me under every beating; and the money I might have had to this day, but that our ship was taken by the French; and sc I lost all.

[ocr errors]

Our crew were carried into Brest, and many of them died, because they were not used to live in a jail; but, for my part, it was nothing to me; for I was seasoned. One night, as was asleep on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me, for I always loved to lie well, — I was awakened by the boatswain, who had a dark lantern in his hand. "Jack," says he to me, "will you knock out the French sentry's brains?" "I don't care," says I, striving to keep myself awake, "if I lend a hand." "Then follow me," says he, " and I hope we shall do up the business for them." So up I got, and went with him to fight the Frenchmen. I hate the French, because they are all slaves, and wear wooden shoes.

Though we had no arms, one Englishman is able to beat five French at any time; so we went down to the door, where both the sentries were posted, and, rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence, nine of us ran together to the quay, and, seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbor, and put to sea.

We had not been here three days before we were taken up by the Dorset privateer, and we consented to run our

Pressed, (for impressed,) forced into service. - Boatswain, pronounced bōsn, an officer on board a ship, who has charge of the boats, rigging, anchors, and cables, and whose duty it is to summon the crew. — - Quay, (pronounced ke,) an artificial bank or wharf, by the side of the sea or a river, for convenience loading or unloading vessels. - Privateer, an armed vessel, owned by one or more private individuals, and licensed by government to take an enemy's ships as prizes.

chance. However, we had not as much good luck as we expected. In three days, we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; so to it we went, yard-arm and yard-arm. The fight lasted for three hours, and I verily believe we should have taken the Frenchmen, had we but had some more men left behind; but unfortunately we lost all our men, just as we were going to get the victory.

I was once more in the power of the French; and I believe it would have gone hard with me, had I been brought back to Brest; but, by good fortune, we were retaken by the Viper. I had almost forgot to tell you, that, in that engagement, I was wounded in two places; I lost four fingers off the left hand, and my leg was shot off. If I had had the good fortune to have lost my leg, and use of my hand, on board a king's ship, and not aboard a privateer, I should have been entitled to clothing and maintenance during the rest of my life; but that was not my chance. One man's born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle. However, I enjoy good health, and will forever love liberty and Old England. Liberty, property, and Old England forever! Huzza!

Thus saying, he limped off, leaving me in admiration at his intrepidity and content; nor could I avoid acknowledging that an habitual acquaintance with misery serves, better than philosophy, to teach us to despise it.


40. Song of the Angels.

No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blessed voices, uttering joy, heaven rung

With jubilee, and loud hosannas filled
The eternal regions. Lowly reverent,
Towards either throne-they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast

Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;
Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In paradise, fast by the tree of life,

Began to bloom; but soon, for man's offence,
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there
And flowers aloft shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream;

With these, that never fade, the spirits elect


Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams;
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Impurpled with celestial roses, smiled.

Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took.
Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side
Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join
Melodious part, such concord is in heaven.

Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,

Eternal King; the Author of all being,
Fountain of light, thyself invisible
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st
Throned inaccessible, but when thou shad'st
The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear;
Yet dazzle heaven, that brightest seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang of all creation first,
Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,

In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud
Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.

Milton has been crowned. Those who have entered the vast field of criticism, have been overpowered by the majesty of that mind, which darkened by the dazzling beams of its power. His name, like Sirius amid the gems of night, shines brilliantly in the coronet of genius. When his faroff voice strikes the key-note, "a sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies" fill up the melody. His words are words of enchantment; when they are pronounced, the past is present, the distant is near, and the deep mysteries of other worlds are laid open. Perhaps we canno do better than to conclude what we would say with the following stanza :


"Three poets in three distant ages born,

Greece, Italy, and England, did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed;
The next in majesty; in both the last;
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she joined the other two "

41. Every Man the Architect of his own Fortune.

"But chiefly the mould of a man's fortune is his own hands,"


"Fortune a goddess is to fools alone;

The wise are always master of their own."


Ir is wittily remarked by a French writer, that while the Portuguese sailors, before engaging in battle, are prostrate upon deck, imploring their saints to perform miracles in their favor, the British tars are manning their guns and working miracles for themselves. This remark, when rightly interpreted, contains a lively satire upon a species of supersition which misleads the multitude more than any other,

« PreviousContinue »