Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

But I was hurried on, and obeyed blindly the dictates of my fancy, rather than my reason; and accordingly, the ship being fitted out, and the cargo furnished, and all things done as by agreement, by my partners in the voyage, I went on board in an evil hour again, the 1st of September, 1659, being the same day eight years that I went from my father ana mother at Hull, in order to act the rebel to their authority, and the fool to my own interest.

Our ship was about one hundred and twenty tons burden, carried six guns, and fourteen men, besides the master, his boy, and myself; we had on board no large cargo of goods, except of such toys as were fit for our trade with the Negroes, such as beads, bits of glass, shells, and odd trifles, especially little looking-glasses, knives, scissors, hatchets, and the like.

The same day 1 went on board, we set sail, standing away to the northward upon our own coast, with design to stretch fcover for the African coast. When they came about ten or twelve degrees of northern latitude, which, it seems, was the manner of their course in those days, we had very good weather, only excessive hot all the way upon our own coast, till we came to the height of Cape St. Augustino; from whence, keeping farther off at sea, we lost sight of land, and steered as if we were bound for the isle Fernando de Noronha, holding; our course N.E. by N. and leaving those isles on the east. In this course we passed the line in about twelve days' time, and were, by our last observation, in 7 degrees 22 minutes northern latitude, when a violent tornado, or hurricane, took us quite out of our knowledge: it began from the south-east, came about to the north-west, and then settled in the northeast; from whence it blew in such a terrible manner, that, for twelve days together, we could do nothing but drive, and, scudding away oefore it, let it carry us whi trier ever fate an^ the fury of the winds directed; and, during these twelve days L need not say that I expected every day to be swallowed up iior^juadeed, did any in the ship expect to save their lives.

jSWfis distress, we had, besides the terror of the storm, one of our men died of the calenture, and one man and a boy washed overboard. About the twelfth day, the weather abating a little, the master made an observation as well as he could, and found that he was in about 11 degrees north latitude, but that he was 22 degrees of longitude difference, west from Cape St. Augustino; so that he found he was got upon the coast of Guiana, or the north part of Brazil, beyond the river Amazons, toward that of the river Oroonoque, commonly called the Great River; and began to consult with me what course he should take, for the ship was leaky and very much disabled, and he was going directly back to the coast of Brazil.

I was positively against that; and looking over the charts of the sea-coast of America with him, we concluded there was no inhabited country for us to have recourse to, till we came within the circle of the Caribbee islands, and therefore resolved to stand away for Barbadoes; which, by keeping off to sea, to avoid the in-draft of the bay or gulf of Mexico, we mighteasily perform, as we hoped, in about hfteen days' sail; whereas Ve could not possibly make our voyage to the coast of Africa without some assistance, both to our ship and ourselves.

With this design we changed our course, and steered away N.W. by W., in order to reach some of our English islands, where 1 hoped for relief; but our voyage was otherwise determined; for being in the latitude of 12 degrees 18 minutes, a second storm came upon us, which carried us away with the same impetuosity westward, and drove us so out of the very way of all human commerce, that had all our lives been saved, as to the sea, we were rather in danger of being devoured by savages than ever returning to our own country.

In this distress, the wind still blowing very hard, one of our men early in the morning cried out, "Land!" and we had no sooner run out of the cabin to look out, in hopes of seeing whereabouts in the world we were, but the ship struck upon a sand, and in a moment, her motion being so stopped, the gea broke over her in such a manner, that we expected,we should all have perished immediately; and we were immediately driven into our close quarters, to shelter us from the very foam and spray of the sea.

It is not easy for any one, who has not been in the like condition, to describe or conceive the consternation of men in such circumstances; we knew nothing where we were, or upon what land it was we were driven, whether an island or the main, whether inhabited or not inhabited; and as the rage of the wind was still great, though rather less than at first, we could not so much as hope to have the ship hold many minutes, without breaking in pieces, unless the wind, by a kind of miracle, should immediately turn about. In a word, we sat looking upon one another, and expecting death every moment, and every man acting accordingly, as preparing for another world; for there was little or nothing more for us to do in this: that which was our present comfort, and all the comfort we had, was, that, contrary to our expectation, the .ship did not break yet, and that the master said the wind began to abate.

Now, though we thought that the wind did a little abate, yet the ship having thus, struck upon the sand, and sticking too fast for us to expect her getting off, we were in a dreadful condition indeed, and had nothing to do but to think of saving our lives as well as we could. We had a boat at our stern just before the storm, but she was first staved by dashing against the ship's rudder, and, in the next place, she broke away, and either sunk, or was driven off to sea; so there was no hope from her: we had another boat on board, but how to get her off into the sea was a doubtful thing; however, there was no room to debate, for we fancied the ship would break in pieces every minute, and some told us she was actually broken already.

In this distress, the mate of our vessel laid hold of the boat, and with the help of the rest of the men, they got her fluns; over the ship's side; and getting all into her, let her go, and committed ourselves, being eleven in number, to God's mercy, and the wild sea: for though the storm was abated considerably, yet the sea went dreadful high upon the shore, and might be well called den wild zee} as the Dutch call the sea in a storm.

And now our case was very dismal indeed; for we all saw plainly, that the sea went so high, that the boat couJd not live, and that we should be inevitably drowned. As to making sail, we had none ; nor, if we had, could we have done any thing with it; so we worked at the oar towards the land, though with heavy hearts, like men going to execution; for we all knew that when the boat came nearer to the shore, she would be dashed in a thousand pieces by the breach of the sea. However, we committed our souls to God in the most earnest manner; and the wind driving us towards the shore, we hastened our destruction with our own hands, pulling as well as we could towards land.

What the shore was—whether rock or sand, whether steep or shoal—we knew not; the only hope that could rationally give us the least shadow of expectation, was, if we might hap

Ee«n into some bay or gulf, or the mouth of some river, where y great chance we might have run our boat in, or got under the lee of the land, and perhaps made smooth water. But there was nothing of this appeared; and as we made nearer and nearer the shore, the land looked more frightful than the sea.

After we had rowed, or rather driven, about a league and a half, as we reckoned it, a raging wave, mountain-like, came rolling astern of us, and plainly bade us expect the coup de grace. In a word, it took us with such a fury, that it overset the boat at once; and separating us, as well from the boat as from one another, gave us not time hardly to say, " O God I" for we were all swallowed up in a moment.

Nothing can describe the confusion of thought which I felt, when I sunk into the water; for though I swam very well, yet I could not deliver myself from the waves so as to draw my breath, till that wave having driven me, or rather carried me, si vast way on towards the snore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon the land almost dry, but half dead with the water I took in. I had so much presence of mind, as well as breath left, that, seeing myself nearer the main land than 1 expected, I got upon my feet, and endeavored to make on towards the land as fast as I could, before another wave should return and take me up again; but I soon found it was impossible to avoid it; for 1 saw the sea come after me as high as a great hill, and as furious as an enemy, which I had no means or strength to contend with: my business was to hold my breath, and raise myself upon the water, if I could; and so, by swimming, to preserve my breathing, and pilot myself towards the shore, if possible; my greatest concern now being, that the wave, as it would carry me a great way towards the shore when it came on, might not carry me back again with it when it gave back towards the sea.

The wave that came upon me again buried me at once twenty or thirty feet deep in its own body; and I could feel myself carried with a mighty force and swiftness towards the shore a very great way; but I held my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when, as I felt myself rising up, so, to my immediate relief, I found my head and hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved me greatly, gave me breath, and new courage. I was covered again with water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I stood still a few moments, to recover breath, and till the water went from me. and then took to my heels, and ran with what strength I had farther towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again; and twice more I was lifted up by the waves and earned forwards as before, the shore being very flat.

The last time of these two had well nigh been fatal to me; for

« AnteriorContinuar »