« AnteriorContinuar »
choose for the worse, so I did here; for, having money in my pocket, and good clothes upon my back, I would always go on board in the habit of a gentleman; and so I neither had any business in the ship or learnt to do any. It was my lot first joi to fall into pretty good company in London, which does not always happen to such loose and unguided young fellows as I then was; the devil generally not omitting to lay some snare for them very early : but it was not so with me. I first fell acquainted with the master of a ship who had been on the coast of Guinea; and who, having had very good success there, was resolved to go again; and who, taking a fancy to my conversation, which was not at all disagreeable at that time, hearing me say I had a mind to see the world, told me if I would go the voyage with him, I should be at no expense; I should be his messmate and his companion; and if pcould carry any thing with me, I should have all the advantage of it that the trade would admit; and perhaps I might meet with some encouragement. I embraced the offer; and entering into a strict friendship with this captain, who was an honest and plain-dealing man, I went the voyage with him, and carried a small adventure with me, which, by the disinterested honesty of my friend the captain, I increased very considerably; for I carried about afé0 in such toys and trifles as the captain directed me to buy. This of 40 I had mustered together by the assistance of some of my relations whom I corresponded with, and who, I believe, got my father, or at least my mother, to contribute so much as that t6 my first adventure. ~4 This was the only voyage in which I may say I was successful in all my adventures, and which I owe to the integrity and honesty of my friend the captain ; under whom also I got a competent knowledge of the mathematics and the rules of navigation, learnt how to keep an account of the ship's course, take an observation, and, in short, to understand some things that were needful to be understood by a sailor; for, as he took delight to instruct me, I took delight to learn ; and, in a word, this voyage made me both a sailor and a merchant; for I brought home, five pounds nine ounces of gold-dust for my adventure, which yielded me, in London, at my return, almost £300; and this filled me with those aspiring thoughts which have so completed my ruin. Yet even in this voyage I had my misfortunes too; particularly that I was continually sick, being thrown into a violent calenture by the excessive heat of the climate; our principal trading being upon the coast, from the latitude of 15 degrees north even to the line itself. I was now set up for a Guinea trader; and my friend, to my great misfortune, dying soon after his arrival, I resolved to go the same voyage again; and I embarked in the same vessel with one who was his mate in his former voyage, and had now got the command of the ship. . This was the unhappiest voyage that ever man made; for though I did not carry quite £100 of my new-gained wealth, so that I had of 200 left, and which I lodged with my friend's widow, who was very just to me, yet I fell into terrible misfortunes in this voyage; and the first was this, viz. our ship, making her course towards the Canary Islands, or rather between those islands and the African shore, was surprised, in the gray of the morning, by a Turkish rover, of Sallee, who gave chase to us with all the sail she could make. We crowded also as much canvass as our yards would spread, or our masts carry, to have got clear; but finding the pirate gained upon us, and would certainly come up with us in a few hours, we prepared to fight; our ship having twelve guns, and the rover eighteen. About three in the afternoon, he came up with us, and bringing to, by mistake, just athwart our quarter, instead of athwart our stern, as he intended, we brought eight of our guns to bear on that side, and poured in a broadside upon him, which made him sheer off again, after returning our fire, and pouring in also his small-shot from near 200 men, which he had on board. However, we had not a man touched, all our men keeping close. He prepared to attack us again, and we to defend ourselves, but laying us on board, the next time, upon our other j." he entered sixty men upon our decks, who immeiately fell to cutting and hacking the sails and rigging. We Dlied them with small-shot, half-pikes, powder-chests, and such ike, and cleared our deck of them twice. However, to cut short this melancholy part of our story, our ship being disabled, and three of our men killed and eight Wood, WG Were obliged to yield, and were carried all prisoners into Sallee, a port belonging to the Moors. he usage I had there was not so dreadful as at first I apprehended; nor was I carried up the country to the emperor's court, as the rest of our men were, but was kept by the captain of the rover as his proper prize, and made so slave, being young and nimble, and fit for his business. At this surprising change of my circumstances, from a merchant to a miserable slave, 1 was perfectly overwhelmed; and now I looked back upon my father's prophetic discourse to me, that I should be miserable, and have none to relieve me, which I thought was now so effectually brought to pass, that i could not be worse; that now the hand of Heaven had overtaken me, and I was undone without redemption; but, alas ! this was but a taste of the misery I was to go through, as will appear in the sequel of this story. As my new patron, or master, had taken me home to his house, so I was in hopes that he would take me with him when he went to sea again, believing that it would some time or other be his fate to be taken by a Spanish or Portuguese man of war; and that then I should be set at liberty. But this hope of mine was soon taken away; for when he went to sea, he left me on shore to look after his little garden, and do the common drudgery of slaves about his house; and when he came home again from his cruise, he ordered me to lie in the cabin to look after the ship. Here 1 meditated nothing but my escape, and what method I might take to effect it, but found no way that had the least probability in it: nothing presented to make the supposition of it rational; for I had nobody to communicate it to that would embark with me, no fellow-slave, no Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman there but myself; so that for two years, though I often pleased myself with the imagination, yet I never had the least encouraging prospect of putting it in practice. After about two years, an odd circumstance presented itself, which put the old thought of making some attempt for my liberty again in my head. My patron lying at home longer than usual without fitting out his ship, which, as I heard, was for want of money, he used constantly, once or twice a week, sometimes oftener, if the weather was fair, to take the ship’s pinnace, and go out into the road a-fishing; and as he always took me and a young Moresco with him to row the boat, we made him very merry, and I proved very dexterous in catching fish; insomuch that sometimes he would send me with a Moor, one of his kinsmen, and the youth of Moresco, as they called him, to catch a dish of fish for him. It happened one time, that going a-fishing in a stark calm morning, a fog rose so thick, that, though we were not half a league from the shore, we lost sight of it; and, rowing we knew not whither or which way, we labored all day, and all the next night; and when the morning came, we found we had pulled off to sea instead of pulling in for the shore; and that we were at least two leagues from the shore ; however, we got well in again, though with a great deal of labor, and some danger; for the wind began to blow pretty fresh in the morning; but particularly we were all very hungry. But our patron, warned by this disaster, resolved to take more care of himself for the future; and having lying by him the long-boat of our English ship he had taken, he resolved he would not go a-fishing any more without a compass and some provision: so he ordered the carpenter of his ship, who also was an English slave, to build a little state-room, or cabin, in the middle of the long-boat, like that of a barge, with a place to stand behind it to steer and haul home the main-sheet; and room before for a hand or two to stand and work the sails: she sailed with what we call a shoulder of mutton sail; and the boom gibbed over the top of the cabin, which lay very snug and low, and had in it room for him to lie, with a slave or two, and a table to eat on, with some small lockers to put in some bottles of such liquor as he thought fit to drink; and particularly his bread, rice, and coffee. We went frequently out with this boat a-fishing, and as 1 was most dexterous to catch fish for him, he never went without me. It happened that he had appointed to go out in this boat, either for pleasure or for fish, with two or three Moors of some distinction in that place, and for whom he had provided extraordinarily, and had therefore sent on board the boat over-night a larger store of provisions than ordinary; and had ordered me to get ready three fuzees with powder and shot, which were on board his ship; for that they designed some sport of fowling as well as fishing. I got all things ready as he Rad directed, and waited the next morning with the boat washed clean, her ensign and pendants out, and every thing to accommodate his guests; when, by and by, my patron came on board alone, and told me his guests had put off going, upon some business that fell out, and ordered me, with the man and boy, as usual, to go out with the boat and catch them some fish, for that his friends were to sup at his house; and commanded that as soon as 1 got some fish I should bring it home to his house; all which 1 prepared to do. * g to i. moment my former notions of deliverance darted into my thoughts, for now 1 found I was like to have a little ship at my command; and my master being gone, 1 prepared to furnish myself, not for fishing business, but for a voyage; though I knew not, neither did I so much as consider, whither 1 should steer; for any where, to get out of that place, was my way. My first contrivance was to make a pretence to speak to this Moor, to get something for our subsistence on board; for I told him we must not presume to eat of our patron's bread.