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as wheat; but my Saviour has prayed for broke through the restraints of conscience, me, that my faith may not fail. Here is my and therefore did not shock me at first with security and power; a bulwark, against too broad intimations of his design; he rather, which the gates of hell cannot prevail. But as I thought, spoke favourably of religion : for this, many a time and often, if possible, but when he had gained my confidence, he I should have ruined myself, since my first began to speak plainer; and perceiving my deliverance; nay, I should fall, and stumble, ignorant attachment to the characteristics, and perish still, after all that the Lord has done he joined issue with me upon that book, and for me, if his faithfulness was not engaged convinced me that I had never understood in my behalf, to be my sun and shield even it. In a word, he so plied me with objecunto death.—“Bless the Lord, O my soul.” tions and arguments, that my depraved heart
Nothing very remarkable occurred in the was soon gained, and I entered into his plan following part of that voyage. I returned with all my spirit. Thus, like an unwary home in December, 1743, and soon after re- sailor, who quits his port just before the rispeated my visit to Kent, where I protracted ing storm, I renounced the hopes and commy stay in the same imprudent manner I forts of the gospel at the very time when had done before, which again disappointed every other comfort was about to fail me. my father's designs in my favour, and almost In December, 1744, the Harwich was in provoked him to disown me. Before any the Downs, bound to the East Indies. The thing suitable offered again I was impressed captain gave me liberty to go on shore for a (owing entirely to my own thoughtless con- day; but without consulting prudence, or duct which was all of a piece,) and put on regarding consequences, I took horse, and board a tender: it was a critical juncture, followed the dictates of my restless passion ; when the French fleets were hovering upon I went to take a last leave of her I loved. I our coast, so that my father was incapable to had little satisfaction in the interview, as I procure my release. In a few days I was was sensible that I was taking pains to mulsent on board the Harwich man-of-war, at tiply my own troubles. The short time I the Nore. I entered here upon quite a new could stay passed like a dream, and on newscene of life, and endured much hardship for year's day, 1745, I took my leave to return about a month. My father was then willing to the ship. The captain was prevailed on that I should remain in the navy, as a war to excuse my absence; but this rash step was daily expected, and procured me a re- (especially as it was not the first step of the commendation to the captain, who took me kind I had taken,) highly displeased him, upon the quarter deck as a midshipman. I and lost me his favour, which I never rehad now an easy life, as to externals, and covered. might have gained respect; but my mind At length we sailed from Spithead with a was unsettled, and my behaviour very indif- very large fleet. We put into Torbay with ferent. I here met with companions who a change of wind; but it returning fair completed the ruin of my principles; and again, we sailed the next day. Several of though I affected to talk of virtue, and was our fleet were lost in attempting to leave not utterly abandoned as afterwards, yet my that place: and the following night the delight and habitual practice was wicked whole fleet was greatly endangered upon ness: my chief intimate was a person of ex- the coast of Cornwall, by a storm from the ceeding good natural talents, and much ob- southward. The darkness of the night, and servation; he was the greatest master of the number of the vessels, occasioned much what is called the free-thinking scheme I confusion and damage. Our ship, thongh remember to have met with, and knew how several times in imminent danger of being to insinuate his sentiments in the most plan- run down by other vessels, escaped unhurt; sible way. And his zeal was equal to his ad- but many suffered much, particularly the dress; he could hardly have laboured more in admiral. This occasioned our putting back the cause, if he had expected to gain heaven to Plymouth. by it.
Allow me to add, while I think of it, While we lay at Plymouth, I heard that that this man, whom I honoured as my mas- my father, who had interest in some of the ter, and whose practice I adopted so eagerly, ships lately lost, was come down to Torbay. perished in the same way as I expected to He had a connexion at that time with the have done. I have been told, that he was African company. I thought if I could get overtaken in a voyage from Lisbon with a to him, he might easily introduce me into violent storm; the vessel and people escaped, that service, which would be better than but a great sea broke on board and swept pursuing a long uncertain voyage to the him into eternity. Thus the Lord spares or East Indies. It was a maxim with me in punishes according to his sovereign pleasure! those unhappy days, never to deliberate; the But to return :- I was fond of his company, thought hardly occurred to me before I was and having myself a smattering of books, resolved to leave the ship at all events: I was eager enough to show my reading. He did so, and in the wrongest manner possible. Boon perceived my case that I had not wholly I was sent one day in the boat, to take care
That none of the people deserted; but I be- | cast my last looks npon the English shore; I trayed my trust, and went off myself. I kept my eyes fixed upon it till, the ship's knew not what road to take, and durst not distance increasing, it sensibly disappeared ; ask for fear of being suspected; yet having and when I could see it no longer, I was some general idea of the country, I guessed tempted to throw myself into the sea, which right; and when I had travelled some miles, | (according to the wicked system I had I found upon inquiry, that I was on the road adopted) would put a period to all my sorrows to Dartmouth. All went smoothly that day, at once.
But the secret hand of God reand part of the next: I walked apace, and strained me. —Help me to praise him, dear expected to have been with my father in Sir, for his wonderful goodness to the most about two hours, when I was met by a small unworthy of all creatures. I am your most party of soldiers; I could not avoid or de- obliged servant. ceive them. They brought me back to Ply January 15, 1763. mouth. I walked through the streets guarded like a felon. My heart was full of indignation, shame, and fear. I was confined two days in the guard house, then sent on board
LETTER IV. my ship, and kept awhile in irons, then publicly stripped and whipped ; after which I DEAR SIR, — Though I desired your instrucwas degraded from my office, and all my tions as to the manner and extent of these meformer companions forbidden to show me the moirs, I began to write before I received them, least favour, or even to speak to me. As and had almost finished the preceding sheet midshipman, I had been entitled to some when your favour of the 11th came to hand. I command, which (being sufficiently haughty shall find another occasion to acknowledge and vain,) I had not been backward to exert. my sense of your kind expressions of friendI was now in my turn brought down to a ship, which, I pray the Lord, I may never level with the lowest, and exposed to the in- give you cause to repent or withdraw; at sults of all.
present I shall confine myself to what more And as my present situation was uncom- particularly relates to the task assigned me. fortable, my future prospects were still worse: I shall obey you, Sir, in taking notice of the the evils I suffered were likely to grow heavier little incidents you recal to my memory, and of every day. While my catastrophe was recent, others of the like nature, which, without your the officers and my quondain brethren were direction, I should have thought too trivial, something disposed to screen me from ill and too much my own to deserve mentioning. nsage; but, during the little time I remained When I began the eighth letter, I intended with them afterwards, I found them cool very to say no more of myself than might be necesfast in their endeavours to protect me. Indeed sary to illustrate the wonders of divine prothey could not avoid it without running a vidence and grace in the leading turns of my great risk of sharing with me; for the captain, life; but I account your judgment a sufficient though in general a humane man, who be- warrant for enlarging my plan. haved very well to the ship's company, was Amongst other things, you desired a more almost implacable in his resentment, when explicit account of the state and progress of he had been greatly offended, and took se- my courtship, as it is usually phrased. This veral occasions to show himself so to me; was the point in which I thought it especially and the voyage was expected to be, as it became me to be very brief; but I submit to proved, for five years. Yet I think nothing you; and this seems a proper place to resume I either felt or feared distressed me so much, it, by telling you how it stood at the time of as to see myself thus forcibly torn away from my leaving England.—When my inclinations the object of my affections, under a great first discovered themselves, both parties were improbability of seeing her again, and a so young, that no one but myself considered much greater of returning in such a manner it in a serious view. It served for tea-table as would give me hopes of seeing her mine. talk amongst our friends, and nothing further Thus I was as miserable on all hands as could was expected from it. But afterwards, when well be imagined. My breast was filled my passion seemed to have abiding effects, so with the most excruciating passions, eager that in an interval of two years it was not at desire, bitter rage, and black despair. Every all abated, and especially as it occasioned me hour exposed me to some new insult and to act without any regard to prudence or hardship, with no hope of relief or mitigation, interest, or my father's designs, and as there no friend to take my part, or to listen to my was a coolness between him and the family, complaint. Whether I looked inward or out- her parents began to consider it as a matter ward, I could perceive nothing but darkness of consequence; and when I took my last and misery. I think no case except that of leave of them, her mother (at the same time & conscience wounded by the wrath of God, she expressed the most tender affection for could be more dreadful than mine. I cannot me, as if I had been her own child) told me, express with what wishfulness and regret Il that though she had no objections to niake,
upon a supposition that, at a maturer age, | beyond their common influence (as when a there should be a probability of our engaging disease, for instance, has been removed by upon a prudent prospect, yet, as things then a fright,) so I found it then : this single stood, she thought herself obliged to inter- thought, which had not restrained me from a fere; and therefore desired I would no more thousand smaller evils, proved my only and think of returning to her house, unless her effectual barrier against the greatest and most daughter was from home, till such time as I fatal temptations. How long I could have supcould either prevail with myself entirely to ported this conflict, or what, humanly speakgive up my pretensions, or could assure her ing, would have been the consequence of my that I had my father's express consent to go continuing in that situation, I cannot say; but
Much depended upon Mrs. N*****'s part the Lord whom I little thought of, knew my in this affair; it was something difficult; but danger, and was providing for my deliverance. though she was young, gay, and quite un Two things I had determined when at Plypractised in such matters, she was directed mouth, that I would not go to India, and that to a happy medium. A positive encourage- I would go to Guinea ; and such, indeed, was ment, or an absolute refusal, would have been the Lord's will concerning me; but they attended with equal, though different disad- were to be accomplished in his way, not in vantages. But without much studying about my own. We had been now at Maderia some it, I found her always upon her guard: she time; the business of the fleet was complethad penetration to see her absolute powered, and we were to sail the following day. over me, and prudence to make a proper use on that memorable morning I was late in of it; she would neither understand my hints, bed, and had slept longer, but that one of the nor give me room to come to a direct ex- midshipmen (an old companion) came down, planation. She has said since, that from the and between jest and earnest bade me rise; first discovery of my regard, and long before and as I did not immediately comply, be cut the thought was agreeable to her, she had down the hammock or bed in which I lay, often an unaccountable impression upon her which forced me to dress myself. I was very mind, that sooner or later she should be mine. angry, but durst not resent it. I was little Upon these terms we parted.
aware how much his caprice affected me, and I now return to my voyage. During our that this person, who had no design in what passage to Maderia, I was a prey to the
most he did, was the messenger of God's provigloomy thoughts. Though I had well de- dence. I said little, but went upon deck, served all I met with, and the captain might where I that moment saw a man putting his have been justified if he had carried his re- clothes into a boat, who told me he was going sentment still farther; yet my pride at that to leave us. Upon inquiring, I was informtime suggested that I had been grossly injured that two men from a Guinea ship, which ed, and this so far wrought upon my wicked lay near us, had entered on board the Harheart, that I actually formed designs against wich, and that the commodore (the present his life; and this was one reason that made Sir George Pocock) had ordered the captain me willing to prolong my own. I was some to send two others in their room. My heart times divided between the two, not thinking instantly burned like fire. I begged the boat it practicable to effect both. The Lord had might be detained a few minutes; I ran to now to appearance given me up to judicial the lieutenants, and intreated them to interblindness; I was capable of any thing. I cede with the captain that I might be dishad not the least fear of God before my eyes, missed. Upon this occasion, though I had nor (so far as I remember) the least sensibility been formerly on ill terms with these officers, of conscience. I was possessed of su strong and had disobliged them all in their turns, yet a spirit of delusion, that I believed my own they had pitied my case, and were ready to lie, and was firmly persuaded that after death serve me now. The captain, who, when we I should cease to be: yet the Lord preserved were at Plymouth, had refused to exchange me! Some intervals of sober reflection would me, though at the request of admiral Medley, at times take place: when I have chosen was now easily prevailed on. I believe, in death rather than life, a ray of hope would little more than half an hour from my being come in (though there was little probability asleep in my bed, I saw myself discharged for such a hope) that I should yet see better and safe on board another ship. This was days, that I might again return to England, one of the many critical turns of my life, and have my wishes crowned, if I did not in which the Lord was pleased to display his wilfully throw myself away. In a word, my providence and care, by causing many unlove to Mrs. N***** was now the only re-expected circumstances to concur in almost straint I had left; though I neither feared an instant of time. These sudden opportuGod, nor regarded men, I could not bear that nities were several times repeated : each of she should think meanly of me when I was them brought me into an entire new scene dead. As in the outward concerns of life, of action; and they were usually delayed to the weakest means are often employed by almost the last moment, in which they could divine providence to produce great effects, I have taken place.
The ship I went on board of was bound to the coast. A few days before she sailed the Sierra Leone, and the adjacent parts of what captain died. I was not upon much better is called the Windward Coast of Africa. terms with his mate, who now succeeded to The commander, I found, was acquainted the command, and had upon some occasion with my father: he received me very kindly, treated me ill: I made no doubt, but, if I and made fair professions of assistance, and went with him to the West Indies, he would i believe he would have been my friend; put me on board a man-of-war; and this, but without making the least advantage of from what I had known already, was more former mistakes and troubles, I pursued the dreadful to me than death. To avoid it, I same course; nay, if possible, I acted much determined to remain in Africa, and amused worse. On board the Harwich, though my myself with many golden dreams, that here principles were totally corrupted, yet, as I should find an opportunity of improving my upon my first going there I was in some fortune. degree staid and serious, the remembrance There are still upon that part of the coast of this made me ashamed of breaking out in a few white men settled, (and there were that notorious manner I could otherwise many more at the time I was first there,) have indulged. But now, entering amongst whose business it was to purchase slaves, &c. strangers, I could appear without disguise ; in the rivers and country adjacent, and sell and I well remember, that while I was pass them to the ships at an advanced price. ing from the one ship to the other, this was one of these, who at first landed in my inone reason why I rejoiced in the exchange, digent circumstances, had acquired considerand one reflection I made upon the occasion, able wealth: he had lately been in England, viz. that I now might be as abandoned as I and was returning in the vessel I was in, of pleased, without any control: and, from this which he owned a quarter part. His extime, I was exceedingly vile indeed, little if ample impressed me with hopes of the same any thing short of that animated description success; and upon condition of entering into of an almost irrecoverable state, which we his service, I obtained my discharge. I had have in 2 Peter ii. 14. I not only sinned not the precaution to make any terms, but with a high hand myself, but made it my trusted to his generosity. I received no study to tempt and seduce others upon every compensation for my time on board the ship, occasion: nay, I eagerly sought occasion but a bill upon the owners in England, which sometimes to my own hazard and hurt. One was never paid; for they failed before my natural consequence of this carriage was, a return. The day before the vessel sailed Í loss of the favour of my new captain ; not landed upon the island of Benanoes, with that he was at all religious, or disliked my little more than the clothes upon my back, wickedness, any further than it affected his as if I had escaped shipwreck. -I am, dear interest; but I became careless and disobe- Sir, your's, &c. dient; I did not please him, because I did January 17, 1763. not intend it; and, as he was a man of an odd temper likewise, we the more easily disagreed. Besides, I had a little of that unlucky wit, which can do little more than
LETTER V. multiply troubles and enemies to its possessor; and upon some imagined affront, I DEAR SIR,—There seems an important inmade a song, in which I ridiculed his ship, struction, and of frequent use, in these words his designs, and his person, and soon taught of our dear Lord, “Mine hour is not yet come.' it to the whole ship's company. Such was The two following years, of which I am now the ungrateful return I made for his offers to give some account, will seem as an absoof friendship and protection. I had men- lute blank in a very short life: but as the tioned no names, but the allusion was plain, Lord's hour of grace was not yet come, and and he was no stranger either to the inten- I was to have still deeper experience of the tion or the author.-I shall say no more of dreadful state of the heart of man, when left this part of my story ; let it be buried in to itself; I have seen frequent cause since, eternal silence. But let me not be silent to admire the mercy of the Lord in banishfrom the praise of that grace which could ing me to those distant parts, and almost expardon, that blood which could expiate such cluding me from human society, at a time sins as mine; yea, " the Ethiopian may when I was big with mischief, and, like one change his skin, and the leopard his spots," infected with a pestilence, was capable of since I, who was the willing slave of every spreading a taint wherever I went. Had evil, possessed with a legion of unclean my affairs taken a different turn; had I sucspirits, have been spared, and saved, and ceeded in my designs, and remained in Engchanged, to stand a monument of his Al- land, my sad story would probably have been mighty power for ever.
Worse in myself, indeed, I could Thus I went on for about six months, by have hardly been; but my wickedness would which time the ship was preparing to leave I have had greater scope; I might have been
very hurtful to others, and multiplied irre- | sound, running within a long island, and reparable evils; but the Lord wisely placed me ceiving the confluence of several large rivers, where I could do little harm. The few I rivers unknown to song," but far more had to converse with were too much like deeply engraven in my remembrance than myself, and I was soon brought into such the Po or Tyber. The southernmost of these abject circumstances, that I was too low to has a very peculiar course, almost parallel to have any influence. I was rather shunned the coast; so that in tracing it a great many and despised than imitated; there being few leagues upwards, it will seldom lead one even of the negroes themselves, during the above three miles, and sometimes not more first year of my residence amongst them, than half a mile from the sea-shore. Indeed but thought themselves too good to speak to I know not, but that all these rivers may
I was as yet an "outcast lying in my have cominunications with each other, and blood,” (Ezek. xvi.) and to all appearance with the sea in many places, which I have exposed to perish. But the Lord beheld me not remarked. If you cast your eyes upon with mercy,-he did not strike me to hell, a large map of Africa, while you are readas I justly deserved; "he passed by me ing this, you will have a general idea of the when I was in my blood, and said unto me country I was in; for though the maps are live.” But the appointed time for the mani- very incorrect, most of the places I have festation of his love, to cover all my iniqui- mentioned are inserted, and in the same ties with the robe of his righteousness, and order as I have named them. to admit me to the privileges of his children, My new master had formerly resided near was not till long afterwards; yet even now Cape Mount, but he now settled at the Planhe bade me live; and I can only ascribe it tanes, upon the largest of the three islands. to his secret upholding power, that what I It is a low sandy island, about two miles in suffered in a part of this interval, did not be- circumference, and almost covered with palmreave me either of my life or senses; yet as trees. We immediately began to build a by these sufferings the force of my evil ex- house, and to enter upon trade. I had now ample and inclinations was lessened, I have some desire to retrieve my lost time, and to reason to account them amongst my mercies. exert diligence in what was before me; and
It may not, perhaps, be amiss to digress he was a man with whom I might have lived for a few lines, and give you a very brief tolerably well, if he had not been soon influsketch of the geography of the circuit I was enced against me: but he was much under now confined to, especially as I may have the direction of a black woman, who lived frequent occasion to refer to places I shall with him as a wife. She was a person of now mention ; for my trade afterwards when some consequence in her own country, and the Lord gave me to see better days, was he owed his first rise to her interest. This chiefly to the same places, and with the same woman, (I know not for what reason,) was persons, where and by whom I had been con- strangely prejudiced against me from the sidered as upon a level with their meanest first; and what made it still worse for me, slaves. From Cape De Verd, the most wes- was a severe fit of illness, which attacked tern point of Africa, to Cape Mount, the me very soon, before I had opportunity to whole coast is full of rivers: the principal show what I could or would do in his service. are Gambia, Rio Grande, Sierra Leone, and I was sick when he sailed in a shallop to Sherbro. Of the former, as it is well known, Rio Nuna, and he left me in her hands. and I was never there, I need say nothing. At first I was taken some care of; but, as I The Rio Grande, like the Nile, divides into did not recover very soon, she grew weary, many branches near the sea. On the most and entirely neglected me. I had sometimes northerly, called Cacheo, the Portuguese not a lịttle difficulty to procure a draught of have a settlement. The most southern cold water, when burning with a fever. My branch, known by the name of Rio Nuna, bed was a mat, spread upon a board or chest, is, or then was, the usual boundary of the and a log of wood my pillow. When my white men's trade northward. Sierra Leone fever left me, and my appetite returned, I is a mountainous peninsula, uninhabited, and would gladly have eaten, but there was no I believe inaccessible, upon account of the one gave unto me. She lived in plenty her. thick woods, excepting those parts which lie self, but hardly allowed me sufficient to susnear the water. The river is large and na- ta in life, except now and then, when in the vigable. From hence, about twelve leagues highest good humour, she would send me to the south-east, are three contiguous is- victuals in her own plate, after she had lands, called the Benanoes, about twenty dined; and this, (so greatly was my pride miles in circuit: this was about the centre humbled,) I received with thanks and eagesof the white men's residence. Seven leagues ness, as the most needy beggar does an alms. farther the same way, lie the Plantanes, three Once, I well remember, I was called to resmall islands, two miles distant from the conceive this bounty from her own hand; but, tinent at the point which forms one side of being exceedingly weak and feeble, I dropthe Sherbro.This river is more properly a ped the plate. Those who live in plenty can