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miles off to Qo ft among strangers and savages, in a wilderness, and at such a distance as never to hear from any part of the world that had the least knowledge of me.
In this manner, I used to look upon my condition with the utmost regret. I had nobody to converse with, but now and then this neighbor; no work to be done, but by the labor of my hands; and I used to say, I lived just like a man cast away upon some desolate island, that had nobody there but himself. But how just has it been! and how should all men reflect, that when they compare their present conditions with others that are worse, Heaven may oblige them to make the exchange, and be convinced of their former felicity by their experience: I say, how just has it been, that the truly solitary life I reflected on, in an island of mere desolation, should be my lot, who had so often unjustly compared it with the life which I then led, in which, had I continued, I had, in all probability, been exceeding prosperous and rich.
I was, in some degree, settled in my measures for carrying on the plantation, before my kind friend, the captain of the ship that took me up at sea, went back; for the ship remained there, in providing his lading, and preparing for his voyage, near three months; when, telling him what little stock I had left behind me in London, he gave me this friendly and sincere advice: "Seignior Inglese," says he (for so he always called me), "if you will give me letters, and a
Erocuration here in form to me, with orders to the person who as your money in London, to send your effects to Lisbon, to such persons as I shall direct, and in such goods as are proper for this country, I will bring you the produce of them, God willing, at my return; but, since human affairs are all subject to changes and disasters, I would have you give orders for but one hundred pounds sterling, which, you say, is half your stock, and let the hazard be run for the first, so that if it come safe, you may order the rest the same way; and, if it miscarry, you may have the other half to have recourse to for your supply."
This was so wholesome advice, and looked so friendly, that [ could not but be convinced it was the best course I could take; so I accordingly prepared letters to the gentlewoman with whom I left my money, and a procuration to the Portuguese captain, as he desired me.
I wrote the English captain's widow a full account of all my adventures; my slavery, escape, and how I had met with the Portuguese captain at sea, the humanity of his behavior, and what condition I was now in, with all other necessary directions for my supply: and when this honest captain came to Lisbon, he found means, by some of the English merchants there, to send over, not the order only, but a full account of my story to a merchant at London, who represented it effectually to her; whereupon she not only delivered the money, but, out of her own pocket, sent the Portuguese captain a very handsome present for his humanity and charity to me.
The merchant in London, vesting this hundred pounds in English goods, such as the captain had wrote for, sent them directly to him at Lisbon, and he brought them all safe to me at the Brazils; among which, without my direction (for I was too young in my business to think of them), he had taken care to have all sorts of tools, iron work, and utensils, necessary for my plantation, and which were of great use to me.
When this cargo arrived, I thought my fortune made, for I was surprised at the joy of it; and my good steward, the captain, had laid out the five pounds, which my friend had sent him as a present for himself, to purchase and bring me over a servant, under bond for six years' service, and would not accept of any consideration, except a little tobacco, which 1 would have him accept, being of my own produce.
Neither was this all; but my goods being all English manufactures, such as cloths, stuffs, baize, and things particularly valuable and desirable in the country, 1 found means to sell them to a very great advantage; so that I might say, I had more than four times the value of my first cargo, and was now infinitely beyond my poor neighbor, I mean in the advancement of my plantation; for the first thing I did, I bought me a Negro slave, and a European servant also; I mean another besides that which the captain brought me from Lisbon.
But as abused prosperity is oftentimes made the very means of our adversity, so was it with me. I went on the next year with great success in my plantation; I raised fifty great roils of tobacco on my own ground, more than I had disposed of for necessaries among my neighbors; and these fifty rolls, being each of above a hundred weight, were well cured, and laid by against the return of the fleet from Lisbon; and now, increasing in business and in wealth, my head began to be full of projects and undertakings beyond my reach; such as are, indeed, often the ruin of the best heads in business. Had 1 continued in the station 1 was now in, I had room for all the happy things to have yet befallen me, for which my father so earnestly recommended a quiet, retired life, and which he had so sensibly described the middle station of life to be full of; but other things attended me, and I was still to be the wilful agent of all my own miseries; and, particularly, to increase my fault, and double the reflections upon myself, which, in my future sorrows, I should have leisure to make, all these miscarriages were procured by my apparent obstinate adhering to my foolish inclination, of wandering about, and pursuing that inclination, in contradiction to the clearest views of doing myself good in a fair and plain pursuit of those prospects, and those measures of life, which nature and Providence concurred to present me with, and to make my duty.
As I had once done thus in breaking away from my parents, so I could not be content now, but 1 must go and leave the happy view 1 had of being a rich and thriving man in my new plantation, only to pursue a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster than the nature of the thing admitted; and thus I cast myself down again into the deepest gulf of human misery that ever man Ml into, or perhaps could be consistent with life, and a state of health in the world.
To come, then, by just degrees, to the particulars of this part of my story :—You may suppose, that having now lived almost four years in the Brazils, and beginning to thrive and prosper very well upon my plantation, L had not only learned the language, but had contracted an acquaintance and friendship, among my fellow-planters, as well as among the merchants at St. Salvador, which was our port; and that, in my discourses among them, I had frequently given them an account of my two voyages to the coast of Guinea, the manner of trading with the Negroes there, and how easy it was to purchase on the coast, for trifles—such as beads, toys, knives, scissors, hatchets, bits of glass, and ^the like—not only gold dust, Guinea grains, elephants' teeth, &c., but Negroes, for the service of the Brazils, in great numbers.
They listened always very attentively to my discourses on these heads, but especially to that part which related to the buying Negroes; which was a trade, at that time, not only not far entered into, but, as far as it was, had been carried on by the assientos, or permission of the kings of Spain and Portugal, and engrossed from the public; so that few Negroes were bought, and those excessive dear.
It happened, being in company with some merchants and planters of my acquaintance, and talking of those things very earnestly, three 01 them came to me the next morning^ and told me they had been musing very much upon what i had discoursed with them of the last night, and they came to make a secret proposal to me; and, after enjoining me to secrecy, they told me that they had a mind to fit out a ship to go to Guinea; that they had all plantations as well as I, and were straitened for nothing so much as servants; that as it was a trade that could not be carried on, because they could not publicly sell the Negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one voyage, to bring the Negroes on shore privately, and divide them among their own plantations; and, in a word, the question was, whether 1 would go their superf trgo in the'ship, to manage the trading part upon the coast of Guinea; and they offered me that 1 should have an equal share of the Negroes, without providing any part of the stock.
This was a fair proposal, it must be confessed, had it been made to any one that nad not a settlement and plantation of his own to look after, which was in a fair way of coming to be very considerable, and with a good stock upon it. But lor me, that was thus entered and established, and had nothing to do but go on as I had begun, for three or four years more, and to have sent for the other hundred pounds from England; and who, in that time, and with that little addition, could scarce have failed of being worth three or four thousand pounds sterling, and that increasing too; for me to think of such a voyage, was the most preposterous thing that ever man, in such circumstances, could be guilty of.
But I, that was born to be my own destroyer, could no more resist the offer, than I could restrain my first rambling designs, when my father's good counsel was lost upon me. In a word, I told them I would go with all my heart, if they would undertake to look after my plantation in my absence, and would dispose of it to such as I should direct, if I miscarried. This they all engaged to do, and entered into writings or covenants to do so; and I made a formal will, disposing of my plantation and effects, in case of my death, making the captain of the ship, that had saved my life, as before, my universal heir; but obliging him to dispose of my effects as I had directed in my will; one half of the produce being to himself, and the other to be shipped to England.
In short, I took all possible caution to preserve my effects, and to keep up my plantation: had I used half as much prudence to have looked into my own interest, and have made a udgment of what I ought to have done and not to have done, _ had certainly never gone away from so prosperous an undertaking, leaving all the probable views of a thriving circumstance, and gone a voyage to sea, attended with all its common hazards, to say nothing of the reasons I had to expect particular misfortunes to myself