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I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho’ not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name, Crusoe, and so my Companions always call’d me.
I had two elder Brothers, one of which was Lieutenant Collonel to an English Regiment of Foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Coll. Lockhart, and was killed at the Battle near Dunkirk inagast the Spaniards: What became of my second Brother I never knew, any more than my Father or Mother did know what was become of me.
Being the third Son of the Family, and not bred to any Trade, my Head began to be fill’d very early with rambling Thoughts: My Father, who was very ancient, had given me a competent Share of Learning, as far as House-Education, and a Country Free-School generally goes, and design’d me for the Law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but going to Sea, and my Inclination to this led me so strongly against the Will, nay, the Commands, of my Father, and against all the Entreaties and Perswasions of my Mother and other Friends, that there seem’d to be something fatal in that Propension of Nature tending directly to the Life of Misery which was to befal me.
My Father, a wise and grave Man, gave me serious and excellent Counsel against what he foresaw was my Design. He call’d me one Morning into his Chamber, where he was confined by the Gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this Subject: He ask’d me what Reasons more than a meer wandring Inclination I had for leaving my Father’s House and my native Country, where I might be well introduced, and had a Prospect of raising my Fortunes by Application and Industry, with a Life of Ease and Pleasure. He told me it was for Men of desperate Fortunes on one Hand, or of aspiring, superior Fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon Adventures, to rise by Enterprize, and make themselves famous in Undertakings of a Nature out of the common Road; that these things were all either too far above me, or too far below me; that mine was the middle State, or what might be called the upper Station of Low Life, which he had found by long Experience was the best State in the World, the most suited to human Happiness, not exposed to the Miseries and Hardships, the Labour and Sufferings, of the mechanic Part of Mankind, and not embarrass’d with the Pride, Luxury, Ambition, and Envy of the upper Part of Mankind. He told me, I might judge of the Happiness of this State, by this one thing, viz. That this was the State of Life which all other people envied, that Kings have frequently lamented the miserable Consequences of being born to great things, and wish’d they had been placed in the Middle of the two Extremes, between the Mean and the Great; that the wise Man gave his Testimony to this as the just Standard of true Felicity, when he prayed to have neither Poverty or Riches.
He bid me observe it, and I should always find, that the Calamities of Life were shared among the upper and lower Part of Mankind; but that the middle Station had the fewest Disasters, and was not expos’d to so many Vicissitudes as the higher or lower Part of Mankind; nay, they were not subjected to so many Distempers and Uneasinesses either of Body or Mind, as those were who, by vicious Living, Luxury and Extravagancies on one Hand, or by hard Labour, Want of Necessaries, and mean or insufficient Diet on the other Hand, bring Distempers upon themselves by the natural Consequences of their Way of Living; That the middle Station of Life was calculated for all kind of Vertues and all kind of Enjoyments; that Peace and Plenty were the Hand-maids of a middle Fortune; that Temperance, Moderation, Quietness, Health, Society, all agreeable Diversions, and all desirable Pleasures, were the Blessings attending the middle Station of Life; that this Way Men went silently and smoothly thro’ the World, and comfortably out of it, not embarrass’d with the Labours of the Hands or of the Head, not sold to the Life of Slavery for daily Bread, or harrast with perplex’d Circumstances, which rob the Soul of Peace, and the Body of Rest; not enrag’d with the Passion of Envy, or secret burning Lust of Ambition for great things; but in easy Circumstances sliding gently thro’ the World, and sensibly tasting the Sweets of living, without the bitter, feeling that they are happy, and learning by every Day’s Experience to know it more sensibly.
After this, he press’d me earnestly, and in the most affectionate manner, not to play the young Man, not to precipitate my self into Miseries which Nature and the Station of Life I was born in, seem’d to have provided against; that I was under no Necessity of seeking my Bread; that he would do well for me; and endeavor to enter me fairly into the Station of Life which he had been just recommending to me; and that if I was not very easy and happy in the World, it must be my meer Fate or Fault that must hinder it, and that he should have nothing to answer for, having thus discharg’d his Duty in warning me against Measures which he knew would be to my Hurt: In a word, that as he would do very kind things for me if I would stay and settle at Home as he directed, so he would not have so much Hand in my Misfortunes, as to give me any Encouragement to go away: And to close all, he told me I had my elder Brother for an Example, to whom he had used the same earnest Perswasions to keep him from going into the Low Country Wars, but could not prevail, his young Desires prompting him to run into the Army where he was kill’d; and tho’ he said he would not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say to me, that if I did take this foolish Step, God would not bless me, and I would have Leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his Counsel when there might be none to assist in my Recovery.
I observed in this last Part of his Discourse, which was truly Prophetick, tho’ I suppose my Father did not know it to be so himself; I say, I observed the Tears run down his Face very plentifully, and especially when he spoke of my Brother who was kill’d; and that when he spoke of my having Leisure to repent, and none to assist me, he was so mov’d, that he broke off the Discourse, and told me, his Heart was so full he could say no more to me.
I was sincerely affected with this Discourse, as indeed who could be otherwise; and I resolv’d not to think of going abroad any more, but to settle at home according to my Father’s Desire. But alas! a few Days wore it all off; and, in short, to prevent any of my Father’s farther Importunities, in a few Weeks after, I resolv’d to run quite away from him. However, I did not act so hastily neither as my first Heat of Resolution prompted, but I took my Mother, at a time when I thought her a little pleasanter than ordinary, and told her, that my Thoughts were so entirely bent upon seeing the World that I should never settle to any thing with Resolution enough to go through with it, and my Father had better give me his Consent than force me to go without it; that I was now Eighteen Years old, which was too late to go Apprentice to a Trade, or Clerk to an Attorney; that I was sure if I did, I should never serve out my time, and I should certainly run away from my Master before my Time was out, and go to Sea; and if she would speak to my Father to let me go but one Voyage abroad, if I came home again and did not like it, I would go no more, and I would promise by a double Diligence to recover that Time I had lost.
This put my Mother into a great Passion: She told me, she knew it would be to no Purpose to speak to my Father upon any such Subject; that he knew too well what was my Interest to give his Consent to any thing so much for my Hurt, and that she wondered how I could think of any such thing after such a Discourse as I had had with my Father, and such kind and tender Expressions as she knew my Father had us’d to me; and that, in short, if I would ruine my self there was no Help for me; but I might depend I should never have their Consent to it: That for her Part she should not have so much Hand in my Destruction; and I should never have it to say, that my Mother was willing when my Father was not.
Tho’ my Mother refused to move it to my Father, yet as I have heard afterwards, she reported all the Discourse to him, and that my Father, after shewing a great Concern at it, said to her with a Sigh, That Boy might be happy if he would stay at home, but if he goes abroad he will be the miserablest Wretch that was ever born: I can give no Consent to it.
It was not till almost a Year after this that I broke loose, tho’ in the mean time I continued obstinately deaf to all Proposals of settling to Business, and frequently expostulating with my Father and Mother, about their being so positively determin’d against what they knew my Inclinations prompted me to. But being one Day at Hull, where I went casually, and without any Purpose of making an Elopement that time, but I say, being there, and one of my Companions being going by Sea to London, in his Father’s Ship, and prompting me to go with them, with the common Allurement of Seafaring Men, viz. That it should cost me nothing for my Passage, I consulted neither Father [n]or Mother any more, nor so much as sent them Word of it; but leaving them to hear of it as they might, without asking God’s Blessing, or my Father’s, without any Consideration of Circumstances or Consequences, and in an ill Hour, God knows. On the first of September 1661, I went on Board a Ship bound for London; never any young Adventurer’s Misfortunes, I believe, began sooner, or continued longer than mine. The Ship was no sooner gotten out of the Humber, but the Wind began to blow, and the Winds to rise in a most frightful manner; and as I had never been at Sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in Body, and terrify’d in my Mind: I began now seriously to reflect upon what I had done, and how justly I was overtaken by the Judgment of Heaven for my wicked leaving my Father’s House, and abandoning my Duty; all the good Counsel of my Parents, my Father’s Tears and my Mother’s Entreaties came now fresh into my Mind, and my Conscience, which was not yet come to the Pitch of Hardness which it has been since, reproach’d me with the Contempt of Advice, and the Breach of my Duty to God and my Father.
All this while the Storm encreas’d, and the Sea, which I had never been upon before, went very high, tho’ nothing like what I have seen many times since; no, nor like what I saw a few Days after: But it was enough to affect me then, who was but a young Sailor, and had never known any thing of the matter. I expected every Wave would have swallowed us up, and that every time the Ship fell down, as I thought, in the Trough or Hollow of the Sea, we should never rise more; and in this Agony of Mind, I made many Vows and Resolutions, that if it would please God here to spare my Life this one Voyage, if ever I got once my Foot upon dry Land again, I would go directly home to my Father, and never set it into a Ship again while I liv’d; that I would take his Advice, and never run my self into such Miseries as these any more. Now I saw plainly the Goodness of his Observations about the middle Station of Life, how easy, how comfortably he had liv’d all his Days, and never had been expos’d to Tempests at Sea, or Troubles on Shore; and I resolv’d that I would, like a true repenting Prodigal, go home to my Father.
These wise and sober Thoughts continued all the while the Storm continued, and indeed some time after; but the next Day the Wind was abated and the Sea calmer, and I began to be a little inur’d to it: However I was very grave for all that Day, being also a little Sea sick still; but towards Night the Weather clear’d up, the Wind was quite over, and a charming fine Evening follow’d; the Sun went down perfectly clear, and rose so the next Morning; and having little or no Wind and a smooth Sea, the Sun shining upon it, the Sight was, as I thought, the most delightful that ever I saw.
I had slept well in the Night, and was now no more Sea sick but very chearful, looking with Wonder upon the Sea that was so rough and terrible the Day before, and could be so calm and so pleasant in so little time after. And now least my good Resolutions should continue, my Companion, who had indeed entic’d me away, comes to me, Well, Bob, says he, clapping me on the Shoulder, How do you do after it? I warrant you were frighted, wa’n’t you, last Night, when it blew but a Cap full of Wind? A Cap full d’you call it? said I; ’twas a terrible Storm: A Storm, you Fool you, replies he, do you call that a Storm why it was nothing at all; give us but a good Ship and Sea Room, and we think nothing of such a Squal of Wind as that; but you’re but a fresh Water Sailor, Bob; come let us make a Bowl of Punch and we’ll forget all that, d’ye see what charming Weather ’tis now. To make short this sad Part of my Story, we went the old way of all Sailors; the Punch was made, and I was made drunk with it, and in that one Night’s Wickedness I drowned all my Repentance, all my Reflections upon my past Conduct, and all my Resolutions for my future. In a word, as the Sea was returned to its Smoothness of Surface and settled Calmness by the Abatement of that Storm, so the Hurry of my Thoughts being over, my Fears and Apprehensions of being swallow’d up by the Sea being forgotten, and the Current of my former Desires return’d, I entirely forgot the Vows and Promises that I made in my Distress. I found indeed some Intervals of Reflection, and the serious Thoughts did, as it were endeavour to return again sometimes, but I shook them off, and rouz’d my self from them as it were from a Distemper, and applying my self to Drink and Company, soon master’d the Return of those Fits, for so I call’d them, and I had in five or six Days got as compleat a Victory over Conscience as any young, Fellow that resolv’d not to be troubled with it, could desire: But I was to have another Trial for it still; and Providence, as in such Cases generally it does, resolv’d to leave me entirely without Excuse. For if I would not take this for a Deliverance, the next was to be such a one as the worst and most Wretch among us would confess both the harden’d Danger and the Mercy.
The sixth Day of our being at Sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the Wind having been contrary, and the Weather calm, we made but little Way since the Storm. Here we were obliged to come to an Anchor, and here we lay, the Wind continuing contrary, viz. at South-west, for seven or eight Days, during which time a great many Ships from Newcastle came into the same Roads, as the common Harbour where the Ships might wait for a Wind for the River.
We had not however rid here so long, but should have Tided it up the River, but that the Wind blew too fresh; and after we had lain four or five Days, blew very hard. However, the Roads being reckoned as good as a Harbour, the Anchorage good, and our Ground-Tackle very strong, our Men were unconcerned, and not in the least apprehensive of Danger, but spent the Time in Rest and Mirth, after the Manner of the Sea; but the eighth Day in the Morning, the Wind increased, and we had all Hands at Work to strike our Top-Masts, and make everything snug and close, that the Ship might ride as easy as possible. By Noon the Sea went very high indeed, and our Ship rid Forecastle in, shipp’d several Seas, and we thought once or twice our Anchor had come home; upon which our Master order’d out the Sheet Anchor; so that we rode with two Anchors a-Head, and the Cables vered out to the better End.
By this Time it blew a terrible Storm indeed, and now I began to see Terror and Amazement in the Faces even of the Seamen themselves. The Master, tho’ vigilant to the Business of perserving the Ship, yet as he went in and out of his Cabbin by me, I could hear him softly to himself say several times, Lord be merciful to us, we shall be all lost, we shall be all undone; and the like. During these first Hurries I was stupid, lying still in my Cabbin, which was in the Steerage, and cannot describe my Temper: I could ill re-assume the first Penitence, which I had so apparently trampled upon, and harden’d my self against: I thought the Bitterness of Death had been past, and that this would be nothing too, like the first. But when the Master himself came by me, as I said just now, and said we should be all lost, I was dreadfully frighted: I got up out of my Cabbin, and look’d out; but such a dismal Sight I never saw: The Sea went Mountains high, and broke upon us every three or four Minutes: When I could look about, I could see nothing but Distress round us: Two Ships that rid near us we found had cut their Masts by the Board, being deep loaden; and our Men cry’d out, that a Ship which rid about a Mile a-Head of us was foundered. Two more Ships being driven from their Anchors, were run out of the Roads to Sea at all Adventures, and that with not a Mast standing. The light Ships fared the best, as not so much labouring in the Sea; but two or three of them drove, and came close by us, running away with only their Sprit-sail out before the Wind.
Towards Evening the Mate and Boat-Swain begg’d the Master of our Ship to let them cut away the Foremast, which he was very unwilling to: But the Boat-Swain protesting to him, that if he did not, the Ship would founder, he consented; and when they had cut away the Foremast, the Main-Mast stood so loose, and shook the Ship so much, they were obliged to cut her away also, and make a clear Deck.
Any one may judge what a Condition I must be in at all this, who was but a young Sailor, and who had been in such a Fright before at but a little. But if I can express at this Distance the Thoughts I had about me at that time, I was in tenfold more Horror of Mind upon Account of my former Convictions, and then having returned from them to the Resolutions I had wickedly taken at first, than I was at Death it self; and these, added to the Terror of the Storm, put me into such a Condition, that I can by no Words describe it. But the worst was not come yet, the Storm continued with such Fury that the Seamen themselves acknowledged they had never known a worse. We had a good Ship, but she was deep loaden, and wallowed in the Sea, that the Seamen every now and then cried out, she would founder. It was my Advantage in one respect, that I did not know what they meant by Founder, till I enquir’d. However, the Storm was so violent, that I saw what is not often seen, the Master, the Boat-Swain, and some others more sensible than the rest, at their Prayers, and expecting every Moment when the Ship would go to the Bottom. In the Middle of the Night, and under all the rest of our Distresses, one of the Men that had been down on Purpose to see, cried out we had sprung a Leak; another said there was four Foot Water in the Hold. Then all Hands were called to the Pump. At that very Word my Heart, as I thought, died within me, and I fell backwards upon the Side of my Bed where I sat, into the Cabbin. However, the Men roused me, and told me, that I that was able to do nothing before, was as well able to pump as another; at which I stirr’d up, and went to the Pump and work’d very heartily. While this was doing, the Master seeing some light Colliers, who not able to ride out the Storm, were oblig’d to slip and run away to Sea, and would come near us, ordered to fire a Gun as a Signal of Distress. I who knew nothing what that meant, was so surprised, that I thought the Ship had broke, or some dreadful thing had happen’d. In a word, I was so surprised, that I fell down in a Swoon. As this was a time when every Body had his own Life to think of, no Body minded me, or what was become of me; but another Man stept up to the Pump, and thrusting me aside with his Foot, let me lye, thinking I had been dead; and it was a great while before I came to my self.
We work’d on, but the Water encreasing in the Hold, it was apparent that the Ship would founder, and tho’ the Storm began to abate a little, yet as it was not possible she could swim till we might run into a Port, so the Master continued firing Guns for Help; and a light Ship who had rid it out just a Head of us ventured a Boat out to help us. It was with the utmost Hazard the Boat came near us, but it was impossible for us to get on Board, or for the Boat to lie near the Ship Side, till at last the Men rowing very heartily, and venturing their Lives to save ours, our Men cast them a Rope over the Stern with a Buoy to it, and then vered it out a great Length, which they after great Labour and Hazard took hold of and we hall’d them close under our Stern and got all into their Boat. It was to no Purpose for them or us after we were in the Boat to think of reaching to their own Ship, so all agreed to let her drive and only to pull her in towards Shore as much as we could, and our Master promised them, That if the Boat was stav’d upon Shore he would make it good to their Master, so partly rowing and partly driving our Boat went away to the Norward sloaping towards the Shore almost as far as Winterton Ness.
We were not much more than a quarter of an Hour out of our Ship but we saw her sink, and then I understood for the first time what was meant by a Ship foundering in the Sea; I must acknowledge I had hardly Eyes to look up when the Seamen told me she was sinking; for from that Moment they rather put me into the Boat than that I might be said to go in, my Heart was as it were dead within me, partly with Fright, partly with Horror of Mind and the Thoughts of what was yet before me.
While we were in this Condition, the Men yet labouring at the Oar to bring the Boat near the Shore, we could see, when our Boat mounting the Waves, we were able to see the Shore, a great many People running along the Shore to assist us when we should come near, but we made but slow way towards the Shore, nor were we able to reach the Shore, till being past the Light-House at Winterton, the Shore falls off to the Westward towards Cromer, and so the Land broke off a little the Violence of the Wind: Here we got in and tho’ not without much Difficulty got all safe on Shore and walk’d afterwards on Foot to Yarmouth, where, as unfortunate Men, we were used with great Humanity as well by the Magistrates of the Town, who assign’d us good Quarters, as by particular Merchants and Owners of Ships, and had Money given us sufficient to carry us either to London or back to Hull, as we thought fit.
Had I now had the Sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I had been happy, and my Father, an Emblem of our Blessed Saviour’s Parable, had even kill’d the fatted Calf for me; for hearing the Ship I went away in was cast away in Yarmouth Road, it was a great while before he had any Assurance that I was not drown’d.
But my ill Fate push’d me on now with an Obstinacy that nothing could resist; and tho’ I had several times loud Calls from my Reason and my more composed Judgment to go home, yet I had no Power to do it. I know not what to call this, nor will I urge, that it is a secret over-ruling Decree that hurries us on to be the Instruments of our own Destruction, even tho’ it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our Eyes open. Certainly nothing but some such decreed unavoidable Misery attending, and which it was impossible for me to escape, could have push’d me forward against the calm Reasonings and Perswasions of my most retired Thoughts, and against two such visible Instructions as I had met with in my first Attempt.
My Comrade, who had help’d to harden me before, and who was the Master’s Son, was now less forward than I; the first time he spoke to me after we were at Yarmouth, which was not till two or three Days, for we were separated in the Town to several Quarters; I say, the first time he saw me, it appear’d his Tone was alter’d, and looking very melancholy and shaking his Head, ask’d me how I did, and telling his Father who I was, and how I had come this Voyage only for a Trial in order to go farther abroad; his Father turning to me with a very grave and concern’d Tone, Young Man, says he, you ought never to go to Sea any more, you ought to take this for a plain and visible Token that you are not to be a Seafaring Man, why, Sir, said I, will you go to Sea no more? That is another Case, said he, it is my Calling, and therefore my Duty; but as you made this Voyage for a Trial, you see what a Taste Heaven has given you of what you are to expect if you persist; perhaps this is all befallen us on your Account, like Jonah in the Ship of Tarshish. Pray, continues he, what are you? and on what Account did you go to Sea? Upon that I told him some of my Story; at the End of which he burst out with a strange kind of Passion, What had I done, says he, that such an unhappy Wretch should come into my Ship? I would not set my Foot in the same Ship with thee again for a Thousand Pounds. This indeed was, as I said, an Excursion of his Spirits which were yet agitated by the Sense of his Loss, and was farther than he could have Authority to go. However he afterwards talk’d very gravely to me, exhorted me to go back to my Father, and not tempt Providence to my Ruine; told me I might see a visible Hand of Heaven against me, And young Man, said he, depend upon it, if you do not go back, where-ever you go, you will meet with nothing but Disasters and Disappointments till your Father’s Words are fulfilled upon you.
We parted soon after; for I made him little Answer, and I saw him no more; which way he went, I know not. As for me, having some Money in my Pocket, I travelled to London by Land; and there, as well as on the Road, had many Struggles with my self, what Course of Life I should take, and whether I should go Home, or go to Sea.
As to going Home, Shame opposed the best Motions that offered to my Thoughts; and it immediately occurr’d to me how I should be laugh’d at among the Neighbours, and should be asham’d to see, not my Father and Mother only, but even every Body else; from whence I have since often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common Temper of Mankind is, especially of Youth, to that Reason which ought to guide them in such Cases, viz. That they are not asham’d to sin, and yet are asham’d to repent; not asham’d of the Action for which they ought justly to be esteemed Fools, but are asham’d of the returning, which only can make them be esteem’d wise Men.
In this State of Life however I remained some time, uncertain what Measures to take, and what Course of Life to lead. An irresistible Reluctance continu’d to going Home; and as I stay’d a while, the Remembrance of the Distress I had been in wore off; and as that abated, the little Motion I had in my Desires to a Return wore off with it, till at last I quite lay’d aside the Thoughts of it, and lookt out for a Voyage.
That evil Influence which carryed me first away from my Father’s House, that hurried me into the wild and indigested Notion of raising my Fortune; and that imprest those Conceits so forcibly upon me, as to make me deaf to all good Advice, and to the Entreaties and even Command of my Father: I say the same Influence, whatever it was, presented the most unfortunate of all Enterprises to my View; and I went on board a Vessel bound to the Coast of Africa; or, as our Sailors vulgarly call it, a Voyage to Guinea.
It was my great Misfortune that in all these Adventures I did not ship my self as a Sailor; whereby, tho’ I might indeed have workt a little harder than ordinary, yet at the same time I had learn’d the Duty and Office of a Fore-mast Man; and in time might have quallified my self for a Mate or Lieutenant, if not for a Master: But as it was always my Fate to choose for the worse, so I did here; for having Money in my Pocket, and good Cloaths 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 learn’d to do any.
It was my Lot first of all 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 wou’d go the Voyage with him I should be at no Expence; I should be his Mess-mate and his Companion, and if I could 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 embrac’d the Offer, and entring 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 40 l. in such Toys and Trifles as the Captain directed me to buy. This 40 l. 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 to my first Adventure.
This was the only Voyage which I may say 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 Mathematicks and the Rules of Navigation, learn’d 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 introduce me, I took Delight to learn; and, in a word, this Voyage made me both a Sailor and a Merchant: for I brought Home L. 5. 9 Ounces of Go[l]d Dust for my Adventure, which yielded me in London at my Return, almost 300 l. and this fill’d me with those aspiring Thoughts which have since so compleated 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 it self.
I was now set up for a Guiney Trader; and my Friend, to my great Misfortune, dying soon after his Arrival, I resolved to go the same Voyage again, and I embark’d in the same Vessel with one who was his Mate in the former Voyage, and had now got the Command of the Ship. This was the unhappiest Voyage that ever Man made; for tho’ I did not carry quite 100 l. of my new gain’d Wealth, so that I had 200 left, and which I lodg’d 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 Grey 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 gain’d upon us, and would certainly come up with us in a few Hours, we prepar’d to fight; our Ship having 12 Guns, and the Rogue 18. 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 8 of our Guns to bear on that Side, and pour’d 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 touch’d, all our Men keeping close. He prepar’d to attack us again, and we to defend our selves; but laying us on Board the next time upon our other Quarter, he entred 60 Men upon our Decks, who immediately fell to cutting and hacking the Decks and Rigging. We ply’d them with Small-shot, Half-Pikes, Powder-Chests, and such like, and clear’d our Deck of them twice. However, to cut short this melancholly Part of our Story, our Ship being disabled, and three of our Men kill’d, and eight wounded, we were obliged to yield, and were carry’d all Prisoners into Sallee, a Port belonging to the Moors.
The 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 his Slave, being young and nimble, and fit for his Business. At this surprising Change of my Circumstances from a Merchant to a miserable Slave, I was perfectly overwhelmed; and now I look’d back upon my Father’s prophetick 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 it 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 thro’, 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 Portugal 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 Shoar 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 order’d me to lye in the Cabbin to look after the Ship.
Here I 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 no Body to communicate it to, that would embark with me; no Fellow-Slave, no Englishman, Irishman, or Scotsman there but my self; so that For two Years, tho’ I often pleased my self with the Imagination, yet I never had the least encouraging Prospect of putting it in Practice.
After about two Years an odd Circumstance presented it self, 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 oftner, 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 Maresco with him to row the Boat, we made him very merry, and I prov’d very dexterous in catching Fish; insomuch that sometimes he would send me with a Moor, one of his Kinsmen, and the Youth the Maresco, as they call’d him, to catch a Dish of Fish for him.
It happen’d one time, that going a fishing in a stark calm Morning, a Fog rose so thick, that tho’ we were not half a League from the Shoar we lost Sight of it; and rowing we knew not whither or which way, we labour’d all Day and all the next Night, and when the Morning came we found we had pull’d off to Sea instead of pulling in for the Shoar; and that we were at least two Leagues from the Shoar: However we got well in again, tho’ with a great deal of Labour, and some Danger; for the Wind began to blow pretty fresh in the Morning; but particularly we were very hungry.
But our Patron warn’d 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 we 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 hale home the Main-sheet; and Room before for a hand or two to stand and work the Sails; she sail’d with that we call a Shoulder of Mutton Sail; and the Boom gib’d over the Top of the Cabbin, which lay very snug and low, and had in it Room for him to lye, 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 in; particularly his Bread, Rice and Coffee.
We went frequently out with this Boat a fishing; and as was most dextrous to catch fish for him, he never went without me: It happen’d 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 order’d me to get ready three Fuzees with Powder and Shot, which were on board his Ship; for that they design’d some Sport of Fowling as wel[l] as Fishing.
I got all things ready as he had directed, and waited the next Morning with the Boat, washed clean, her Antient and Pendants out, and every thing to accommodate his Guests; when by and by my Patroon came on board alone, and told me his Guests had put off going, upon some Business that fell out, and order’d 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 I had got some Fish I should bring it home to his House; all which I prepar’d to do.
This moment my former Notions of Deliverance darted into my Thoughts, for now I found I was like to have a little Ship at my Command; and my Master being gone, I prepar’d to furnish my self, not for a fishing Business but for a Voyage; tho’ I knew not, neither did I so much as consider whither I 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 Subsistance on board; for I told him we must not presume to eat of our Patroon’s Bread, he said that was true; so he brought a large Basket of Rusk or Bisket of their kind, and three Jarrs with fresh Water into the Boat; I knew where my Patroon’s Case of Bottles stood, which it was evident by the make were taken out of some English Prize; and I convey’d them into the Boat while the Moor was on Shoar, as if they had been there before, for our Master: I convey’d also a great Lump of Bees-Wax into the Boat, which weighed above half a Hundred Weight, with a Parcel of Twine or Thread, a Hatchet, a Saw and a Hammer, all which were of great Use to us afterwards; especially the Wax to make Candles. Another Trick I try’d upon him, which he innocently came into also; his Name was Ismael, who they call Muly or Moely, so I call’d to him, Moely said I, our Patroon’s Guns are on board the Boat, can you not get a little Powder and Shot, it may be we may kill some Alcamies (a Fowl like our Curlieus*) for our selves, for I know he keeps the Gunner’s Stores in the Ship? Yes, says he, I’ll bring some, and accordingly he brought a great Leather Pouch which held about a Pound and half of Powder, or rather more; and another with Shot, that had five or six Pound, with some Bullets; and put all into the Boat: At the same time I had found some Powder of my Masters in the Great Cabbin, with which I fill’d one of the large Bottles in the Case, which was almost empty; pouring what was in it into another: and thus furnished with every thing needful, we sail’d out of the Port to fish: The Castle which is at the Entrance of the Port knew who we were, and took no Notice of us; and we were not above a Mile out of the Port before we hal’d in our Sail, and set us down to fish: The Wind blew from the N.NE. which was contrary to my Desire; for had it blown southerly I had been sure to have made the Coast of Spain, and at least reacht to the Bay of Cadiz; but my Resolutions were, blow which way it would, I would be gone from that horrid Place where I was, and leave the rest to Fate.
After we had fisht some time and catcht nothing, for when I had Fish on my Hook, I would not pull them up, that he might not see them; I said to the Moor, this will not do, our Master will not be thus serv’d, we must stand farther off: He thinking no harm agreed, and being in the head of the Boat set the Sails; and as I had the Helm I run the Boat out near a League farther, and then brought her too as if I would fish; when giving the Boy the Helm, I stept forward to where the Moor was, and making as if I stoopt for something behind him, I took him by Surprize with my Arm under his Twist, and tost him clear over-board into the Sea; he rise immediately, for he swam like a Cork, and call’d to me, begg’d to be taken in, told me he would go all over the World with me; he swam so strong after the Boat that he would have reacht me very quickly, there bieng but little Wind; upon which I stept into the Cabbin and fetching one of the Fowling-pieces, I presented it at him, and, told him, I had done him no hurt, and if he would be quiet I would do him none; but said I, you swim well enough to reach to the Shoar, and the Sea is calm, make the best of your Way to Shoar and I will do you no harm, but if you come near the Boat I’ll shoot you thro’ the Head; for I am resolved to have my Liberty, so he turn’d himself about and swam for the Shoar, and I make no doubt but he reacht it with Ease, for he was an Excellent Swimmer.
I could ha’ been content to ha’ taken this Moor with me, and ha’ drown’d the Boy, but there was no venturing to trust him: When he was gone I turn’d to the Boy, who they call’d Xury, and said to him, Xury, if you will be faithful to me I’ll make you a great Man, but if you will not stroak your Face to be true to me, that is, swear by Mahomet and his Father’s Beard, I must throw you into the Sea too; the Boy smil’d in my Face and spoke so innocently that I could not mistrust him; and swore to be faithful to me, and go all over the World with me.
While I was in View of the Moor that was swimming, I stood out directly to Sea with the Boat, rather stretching to Windward, that they might think me gone towards the Straits-mouth (as indeed any one that had been in their Wits must ha’ been supposed to do) for who would ha’ suppos’d we were saild on to the southward to the truly Barbarian Coast, where whole Nations of Negroes were sure to surround us with their Canoes, and destroy us; where we could ne’er once go on shoar but we should be devour’d by savage Beasts, or more merciless Savages of humane kind.
But as soon as it grew dusk in the Evening, I chang’d my Course, and steer’d directly South and by East, bending my Course a little toward the East, that I might keep in with the Shoar; and having a fair fresh Gale of Wind, and a smooth quiet Sea, I made such Sail that I believe by the next Day at Three a Clock in the Afternoon, when I first made the Land, I could not be less than 150 Miles South of Sallee; quite beyond the Emperor of Morocco’s Dominions, or indeed of any other King thereabouts, for we saw no People.
Yet such was the Fright I had taken at the Moors, and the dreadful Apprehensions I had of falling into their Hands, that I would not stop, or go on Shoar, or come to an Anchor; the Wind continuing fair, ’till I had sail’d in that manner five Days: And then the Wind shifting to the southward, I concluded also that if any of our Vessels were in Chase of me, they also would now give over; so I ventur’d to make to the Coast, and came to an Anchor in the Mouth of a little River, I knew not what, or where; neither what Latitude, what Country, what Nations, or what River: I neither saw, or desir’d to see any People, the principal thing I wanted was fresh Water: We came into this Creek in the Evening, resolving to swim on shoar as soon as it was dark, and discover the Country; but as soon as it was quite dark, we heard such dreadful Noises of the Barking, Roaring, and Howling of Wild Creatures, of we knew not what Kinds, that the poor Boy was ready to die with Fear, and beg’d of me not to go on shoar till Day; well Xury said I, then I won’t, but it may be we may see Men by Day, who will be as bad to us as those Lyons; then we give them the shoot Gun says Xury laughing, make them run wey; such English Xury spoke by conversing among us Slaves, however I was glad to see the Boy so cheerful, and I gave him a Dram (out of our Patroon’s Case of Bottles) to chear him up: After all, Xury’s Advice was good, and I took it, we dropt our little Anchor and lay still all Night; I say still, for we slept none! for in two or three Hours we saw vast great Creatures (we knew not what to call them) of many sorts, come down to the Sea-shoar and run into the Water, wallowing and washing themselves for the Pleasure of cooling themselves; and they made such hideous Howlings and Yellings, that I never indeed heard the like.
Xury was dreadfully frighted, and indeed so was I too; but we were both more frighted when we heard one of these mighty Creatures come swimming towards our Boat, we could not see him, but we might hear him by his blowing to be a monstrous, huge and furious Beast; Xury said it was a Lyon, and it might be so for ought I know; but poor Xury cryed to me to weigh the Anchor and row away; no says I, Xury, we can slip our Cable with the Buoy to it and go off to Sea, they cannot follow us far; I had no sooner said so, but I perceiv’d the Creature (whatever it was) within Two Oars Length, which something surprized me; however I immediately stept to the Cabbin-door, and taking up my Gun fir’d at him, upon which he immediately turn’d about and swam towards the Shoar again.
But it is impossible to describe the horrible Noises, and hideous Cryes and Howlings, that were raised as well upon the Edge of the Shoar, as higher within the Country; upon the Noise or Report of the Gun, a Thing I have some Reason to believe those Creatures had never heard before: This Convinc’d me that there was no going on Shoar for us in the Night upon that Coast, and how to venture on Shoar in the Day was another Question too; for to have fallen into the Hands of any of the Savages, had been as bad as to have fallen into the Hands of Lyons and Tygers; at least we were equally apprehensive of the Danger of it.
Be that as it would, we were oblig’d to go on Shoar somewhere or other for Water, for we had not a Pint left in the Boat; when or where to get to it was the Point: Xury said, if I would let him go on Shoar with one of the Jarrs, he would find if there was any Water and bring some to me. I ask’d him why he would go? Why I should not go and he stay in the Boat? The Boy answer’d with so much Affection that made me love him ever after. Says he, If wild Mans come, they eat me, you go wey. Well, Xury, said I, we will both go, and if the wild Man’s come we will kill them, they shall Eat neither of us; so I gave Xury a piece of Rusk-bread to Eat and a Dram out of our Patroon’s Case of Bottles which I mentioned before; and we hal’d the Boat in as near the Shoar as we thought was proper, and so waded on Shoar, carrying nothing but our Arms and two Jarrs for Water.
I did not care to go out of Sight of the Boat, fearing the coming of Canoes with Savages down the River; but the Boy seeing a low Place about a Mile up the Country rambled to it; and by and by I saw him come running towards me, I thought he was pursued by some Savage, or frighted with some wild Beast, and I run forward towards him to help him, but when I came nearer to him, I saw something hanging over his Shoulders which was a Creature that he had shot, like a Hare but different in Colour, and longer Legs, however we were very glad of it, and it was very good Meat; but the great Joy that poor Xury came with, was to tell me he had found good Water and seen no wild Mans.
But we found afterwards that we need not take such Pains for Water, for a little higher up the Creek where we were, we found the Water fresh when the Tide was out, which flowed but a little way up; so we filled our Jarrs and feasted on the Hare we had killed, and prepared to go on our Way, having seen no Foot-steps of any humane Creature in that part of the Country.
As I had been one Voyage to this Coast before, I knew very well that the Islands of the Canaries, and the Cape de Verd Islands also, lay not far off from the Coast. But as I had no Instruments to take an Observation to know what Latitude we were in, and did not exactly know, or at least remember what Latitude they were in; I knew not where to look for them, or when to stand off to Sea towards them; otherwise I might now easily have found some of these Islands. But my hope was, that if I stood along this Coast till I came to that Part where the English Traded, I should find some of their Vessels upon their usual Design of Trade, that would relieve and take us in.
By the best of my Calculation, that Place where I now was, must be that Country, which lying between the Emperor of Morocco’s Dominions and the Negro’s, lies wast and uninhabited, except by wild Beasts; the Negroes having abandon’d it and gone, farther South for fear of the Moors; and the Moors not thinking it worth inhabiting, by reason of its Barrenness; and indeed both forsaking it because of the prodigious Numbers of Tygers, Lyons, Leopards and other furious Creatures which harbour there; so that the Moors use it for their Hunting only, where they go like an Army, two or three thousand Men at a time; and indeed for near an hundred Miles together upon this Coast, we saw nothing but a wast uninhabited Country, by Day; and heard nothing but Howlings and Roaring of wild Beasts, by Night.
Once or twice in the Day time, I thought I saw the Pico of Teneriffe, being the high top of the Mountain Teneriffe in the Canaries; and had a great mind to venture out in hopes of reaching thither; but having tried twice I was forced in again by contrary Winds, the Sea also going too high for my little Vessel, so I resolved to pursue my first Design and keep along the Shoar.
Several times I was obliged to land for fresh Water, after we had left this Place; and once in particular, being early in the Morning, we came to an Anchor under a little Point of Land which was pretty high, and the Tide beginning to flow, we lay still to go farther in; Xury, whose Eyes were more about him than it seems mine were, calls softly to me, and tells me that we had best go farther off the Shoar; for, says he, look yonder lies a dreadful Monster on the side of that Hillock fast asleep: I look’d where he pointed, and saw a dreadful Monster indeed, for it was a terrible great Lyon that lay on the Side of the Shoar, under the Shade of a Piece of the Hill that hung as it were a little over him. Xury, says I, you shall go on Shoar and kill him; Xury look’d frighted, and said, Me kill! he eat me at one Mouth; one Mouthful he meant; however, I said no more to the Boy, but bad him lye still, and I took our biggest Gun, which was almost Musquet-bore, and loaded it with a good Charge of Powder, and with two Slugs, and laid it down; then I loaded another Gun with two Bullets, and the third, for we had three Pieces, I loaded with five smaller Bullets. I took the best aim I could with the first Piece to have shot him into the Head, but he lay so with his Leg rais’d a little above his Nose, that the Slugs hit his Leg about the Knee, and broke the Bone. He started up growling at first, but finding his Leg broke fell down again, and then got up upon three Legs and gave the most hideous Roar that ever I heard; I was a little suppriz’d that I had not hit him on the Head; however I took up the second Piece immediately, and tho’ he began to move off fir’d again, and shot him into the Head, and had the Pleasure to see him drop, and make but little Noise, but lay struggling for Life. Then Xury took Heart, and would have me let him go on Shoar: Well, go said I so the Boy jump’d into the Water, and taking a little Gun in one Hand swam to Shoar with the other Hand, and coming close to the Creature, put the Muzzle of the Piece to his Ear, and shot him into the Head again which dispatch’d him quite.
This was Game indeed to us, but this was no Food, and I was very sorry to lose three Charges of Powder and Shot upon a Creature that was good for nothing to us. However Xury said he would have some of him; so he comes on board, and ask’d me to give him the Hatchet; for what, Xury, said I? Me cut off his Head, said he. However Xury could not cut off his Head, but he cut off a Foot and brought it with him, and it was a monstrous great one.
I bethought my self however, that perhaps the Skin on him might one way or other be of some Value to us; and resolved to take off his Skin if I could. So Xury and I went to work with him; but Xury was much the better Workman at it, for I knew very ill how to do it. Indeed it took us both the whole Day, but at last we got off the Hide of him and spreading it on the top of our Cabbin, the Sun effectual dried it in two Days time, and it afterwards serv’d me lye upon.
After this Stop we made on to the Southward continually for ten or twelve Days, living very sparing on our Provisions, which began to abate very much, and going no oftner into the Shoar than we were oblig’d to for fresh Water; my Design in this was to make the River Gambia or Sennegall, It is to say, any where about the Cape de Verd, where I was in hopes to meet with some European Ship, and if I did not, I knew not what Course I had to take, but to seek out for the Islands, or perish there among the Negroes. I knew that all the Ships from Europe, which sail’d either to this Coast of Guiney, or to Brasil, or to the East-Indies, made this Cape or those Islands; and in a word, I put the whole of my Fortune upon this single Point, either that I must meet with some Ship, or must perish.
When I had pursued this Resolution about ten Days longer, as I have said, I began to see that the Land was inhabited, and in two or three Place, as we sailed by, we saw People stand upon the Shoar to look at us, we could also perceive they were quite Black and Stark-naked. I was once inclin’d to ha’ gone on Shoar to them; but Xury was my better Councellor, and said to me, no go, no go; however I hal’d in nearer the Shoar that I might talk to them, and I found they run along-the Shoar by me a good way; I observ’d they had no Weapons in their Hands, except one who had a long slender Stick, which Xury said was a Lance, and that they would throw them a great way with good aim; so I kept at a distance, but talk’d with them by Signs as well as I could; and particularly made Signs for some thing to Eat, they beckon’d to me to stop my Boat, and that they would fetch me some Meat; upon this I lower’d the top of my Sail, and lay by, and two of them run up into the Country, and in less than half an Hour came back and brought with them two Pieces of dry Flesh and some Corn, such as is the Produce of their Country, but we neither knew what the one or the other was; however we were willing to accept it, but how to come at it was our next Dispute, for I was not for venturing on Shore to them, and they were as much affraid of us; but they took a safe way for us all, for they brought it to the Shore and laid it down, and went and stood a great way off till we fetch’d it on Board, and then came close to us again.
We made Signs of Thanks to them, for we had nothing to make them amends; but an Opportunity offer’d that very Instant to oblige them wonderfully, for while we were lying by the Shore, came two mighty Creatures one pursuing the other, (as we took it) with great Fury, from the Mountains towards the Sea; whether it was the Male pursuing the Female, or whether they were in Sport or in Rage, we could not tell, any more than we could tell whether it was usual or strange, but I believe it was the latter; because in the first Place, those ravenous Creatures seldom appear but in the Night; and in the second Place, we found the People terribly frighted, especially the Women. The Man that had the Lance or Dart did not fly from them, but the rest did; however as the two Creatures ran directly into the Water, they did not seem to offer to fall upon any of the Negroes, but plung’d themselves into the Sea and swam about as if they had come for their Diversion; at last one of them began to come nearer our Boat than at first I expected, but I lay ready for him, for I had loaded my Gun with all possible Expedition, and bad Xury load both the other; as soon as he came fairly within my reach, I fir’d, and shot him directly into the Head; immediately he sunk down into the Water, but rose instantly and plung’d up and down as if he was struggling for Life; and so indeed he was, he immediately made to the Shore, but between the Wound which was his mortal Hurt, and the strangling of the Water, he dyed just before he reach’d the Shore.
It is impossible to express the Astonishment of these poor Creatures at the Noise and the Fire of my Gun; some of them were even ready to dye for Fear, and fell down as Dead with the very Terror. But when they saw the Creature dead and sunk in the Water, and that I made Signs to them to come to the Shore; they took Heart and came to the Shore and began to search for the Creature, I found him by his Blood staining the Water, and by the help of a Rope which I flung round him and gave the Negroes to hawl, they drag’d him on Shore, and found that it was a most curious Leopard, spotted and fine to an admirable Degree, and the Negroes held up their Hands with Admiration to think what it was I had kill’d him with.
The other Creature frighted with the flash of Fire and the Noise of the Gun swam on Shore, and ran up directly to the Mountains from whence they came, nor could I at that Distance know what it was. I found quickly the Negroes were for eating the Flesh of this Creature, so I was willing to have them take it as a Favour from me, which when I made Signs to them that they might take him, they were very thankful for, immediately they fell to work with him, and tho’ they had no Knife, yet with a sharpen’d Piece of Wood they took off his Skin as readily, and much more readily than we cou’d have done with a Knife; they offer’d me some of the Flesh which I declined, making as if I would give it them but made Signs for the Skin, which they gave me very freely, and brought me a great deal more of their Provision, which tho’ I did not understand, yet I accepted; then I made Signs to them for some Water, and held out one of my Jarrs to them, turning it bottom upward, to shew that it was empty, and that I wanted to have it filled. They call’d immediately to some of their Friends, and there came two Women and brought a great Vessel made of Earth, and burnt as I suppose in the Sun; this they set down for me, as before, and I sent Xury on Shore with my Jarrs, and filled them all three: The Women were as stark Naked as the Men.
I was now furnished with Roots and Corn, such as it was, and Water, and leaving my friendly Negroes, I made forward for about eleven Days more without offering to go near the Shoar, till I saw the Land run out a great Length into the Sea, at about the Distance of four or five Leagues before me, and the Sea being very calm I kept a large offing to make this Point; at length, doubling the Point at about two Leagues from the Land, I saw plainly Land on the other Side to Seaward; then I concluded, as it was most certain indeed, that this was the Cape de Verd, and those the Islands, call’d from thence Cape de Verd Islands. However they were at a great Distance, and I could not well tell what I had best to do, for if I should be taken with a Fresh of Wind I might neither reach one or other.
In this Dilemma, as I was very pensive, I stept into the Cabbin and sat me down, Xury having the Helm, when on a suddain the Boy cry’d out, Master, Master, a Ship with a Sail, and the foolish Boy was frighted out of his Wits, thinking it must needs be some of his Master’s Ships sent to pursue us, when, I knew we were gotten far enough out of their reach. I jump’d out of the Cabbin, and immediately saw not only the Ship, but what she was, (viz.) that it was a Portuguese Ship, and as I thought was bound to the Coast of Guinea for Negroes. But when I observ’d the Course she steer’d, I was soon convinc’d they were bound some other way, and did not design to come any nearer to the Shoar; upon which I stretch’d out to Sea as much as I could, resolving to speak with them if possible.
With all the Sail I could make, I found I should not be able to come in their Way, but that they would be gone by, before I could make any Signal to them; but after I had crowded to the utmost, and began to despair, they it seems saw me by the help of their Perspective-Glasses, and that it was some European Boat, which as they supposed must belong to some Ship that was lost, so they shortned Sail to let me come up. I was encouraged with this, and I had my Patroon’s Antient on Board, I made a Waft of it to them for a Signal of Distress, and fir’d a Gun, both which they saw, for they told me they saw the Smoke, tho’ they did not hear the Gun; upon these Signals they very kindly brought too, and lay by for me, and in about three Hours time I came up with them.
They ask’d me what I was, in Portuguese, and in Spanish, and in French, but I understood none of them; but at last a Scots Sailor who was on board, call’d to me, and I answer’d him, and told him I was an Englishman, that I had made my escape out of Slavery from the Moors at Sallee; then they bad me come on board, and very kindly took me in, and all my Goods.
It was an inexpressible Joy to me, that any one will believe, that I was thus deliver’d, as I esteem’d it, from such a miserable and almost hopeless Condition as I was in, and I immediately offered all I had to the Captain of the Ship, as a Return for my Deliverance; but he generously told me, he would take nothing from me, but that all I had should be deliver’d safe to me when I came to the Brasils, for says he, I have sav’d your Life on no other Terms than I would be glad to be saved my self, and it may one time or other be my Lot to be taken up in the same Condition; besides, said he, when I carry you to the Brasils, so great a way from your own Country, if I should take from you what you have, you will be starved there, and then I only take away that Life I have given. No, no, Seignor Inglese, says he, Mr. Englishman, I will carry you thither in Charity, and those things will help you to buy your Subsistance there and your Passage home again.
As he was Charitable in his Proposal, so he was Just in the Performance to a tittle, for he ordered the Seamen that none should offer to touch any thing I had; then he took every thing into his own Possession, and gave me back an exact Inventory of them, that I might have them, even so much as my three Earthen Jarrs.
As to my Boat it was a very good one, and that he saw, and told me he would buy it of me for the Ship’s use, and ask’d me what I would have for it? I told him he had been so generous to me in every thing, that I could not offer to make any Price of the Boat, but left it entirely to him, upon which he told me he would give me a Note of his Hand to pay me 80 Pieces of Eight for it at Brasil, and when it came there, if any one offer’d to give more he would make it up; he offer’d me also 60 Pieces of Eight more for my Boy Xury, which I was loath to take, not that I was not willing to let the Captain have him, but I was very loath to sell the poor Boy’s Liberty, who had assisted me so faithfully in procuring my own. However when I let him know my Reason, he own’d it to be just, and offer’d me this Medium, that he would give the Boy an Obligation to set him free in ten Years, if he turn’d Christian; upon this, and Xury saying he was willing to go to him, I let the Captain have him.
We had a very good Voyage to the Brasils, and arriv’d in the Bay de Todos los Santos, or All-Saints Bay, in about Twenty-two Days after. And now I was once more deliver’d from the most miserable of all Conditions of Life, and what to do next with my self I was now to consider.
The generous Treatment the Captain gave me, I can never enough remember; he would take nothing of me for my Passage, gave me twenty Ducats for the Leopard’s Skin, and forty for the Lyon’s Skin which I had in my Boat, and caused every thing I had in the Ship to be punctually deliver’d me, and what I was willing to sell he bought, such as the Case of Bottles, two of my Guns, and a Piece of the Lump of Bees-wax, for I had made Candles of the rest; in a word, I made about 220 Pieces of Eight of all my Cargo, and with this Stock I went on Shoar in the Brasilo.*
I had not been long here, but being recommended to the House of a good honest Man like himself, who had an Ingenio as they call it; that is, a Plantation and a Sugar-House. I lived with him some time, and acquainted my self by that means with the Manner of their planting and making of Sugar; and seeing how well the Planters liv’d, and how they grew rich suddenly, I resolv’d, if I could get Licence to settle there, I would turn Planter among them, resolving in the mean time to find out some Way to get my Money which I had left in London remitted to me. To this Purpose getting a kind of a Letter of Naturalization, I purchased as much Land that was Uncur’d, as my Money would reach, and form’d a Plan for my Plantation and Settlement, and such a one as might be suitable to the Stock which I proposed to my self to receive from England.
I had a Neighbour, a Portugueze of Lisbon, but born of English Parents, whose Name was Wells, and in much such Circumstances as I was. I call him my Neighbour, because his Plantation lay next to mine, and we went on very sociably together. My Stock was but low as well as his; and we rather planted for Food than any thing else, for about two Years. However, we began to increase, and our Land began to come into Order; so that the third Year we planted some Tobacco, and made each of us a large Piece of Ground ready for planting Canes in the Year to come; but we both wanted Help, and now I found more than before, I had done wrong in parting with my Boy Xury.
But alas! for me to do wrong that never did right, was no great Wonder: I had no Remedy but to go on; I was gotten into an Employment quite remote to my Genius, and directly country to the Life I delighted in, and for which I forsook my Father’s House, and broke thro’ all his good Advice; nay, I was coming into the very Middle Station, or upper Degree of low Life, which my Father advised me to before; and which if I resolved to go on with, I might as well ha’ staid at Home, and never have fatigu’d my self in the World as I had done; and I used often to say to my self, I could ha’ done this as well in England among my Friends, as ha’ gone 5000 Miles off to do it among Strangers and Salvages 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 no body to converse with but now and then this Neighbour; no Work to be done, but by the Labour of my Hands; and I used to say, I liv’d just like a Man cast away upon some desolate Island, that had no body 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 convinc’d 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 meer Desolation should be my Lot, who had so often unjustly compar’d 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 Loading, 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 Procuration here in Form to me, with Orders to the Person who has 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 but for One Hundred Pounds Sterl. 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 wholesom Advice, and look’d so friendly, that I could not but be convinc’d it was the best Course I could take; so I accordingly prepared Letters to the Gentlewoman with whom I had left my Money, and a Procuration to the Portuguese Captain, as he desired.
I wrote the English Captain’s Widow a full Account of all my Adventures, my Slavery, Escape, and how I had met with the Portugal Captain at Sea, the Humanity of his Behaviour, and in 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 Portugal Captain a very handsom Present for his Humanity and Charity to me.
The Merchant in London vesting this Hundred Pounds in English Goods, such as the Captain had writ for, sent them directly to him at Lisbon, and he brought them all safe to me to the Brasils, 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 Fortunes made, for I was surprised with the Joy of it; and my good Steward the Captain had laid out the Five Pounds which my Friend had sent him for 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 I would have him accept, being of my own Produce.
Neither was this all; but my Goods being all English Manufactures, such as Cloath, Stuffs, Bays, and things particularly valuable and desirable in the Country, I 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 Neighbour, I mean in the Advancement of my Plantation; for the first thing I did, I bought me a Negro Slave, and an European Servant also; I mean another besides that which the Captain brought me from Lisbon.
But as abus’d Prosperity is oftentimes made the very Means of our greatest Adversity, so was it with me. I went on the next Year with great Success in my Plantation: I raised fifty great Rolls of Tobacco on my own Ground, more than I had disposed of for Necessaries among my Neighbours; and these fifty Rolls being each of above a 100 Wt. were well cur’d 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 Ruine of the best Heads in Business.
Had I continued in the Station I 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 of which he had so sensibly describ’d 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 encrease my Fault and double the Reflections upon my self, 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 wandring abroad and pursuing that Inclination, in contradiction to the clearest Views of doing my self 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 my breaking away from my Parents, so I could not be content now, but I must go and leave the happy View I 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 my self down again into the deepest Gulph of human Misery that ever Man fell into, or perhaps could be consistent with Life and a State of Health in the World.
To come then by the just Degrees, to the Particulars of this Part of my Story; you may suppose that having now lived almost four Years in the Brasilo, and beginning to thrive and prosper very well upon my Plantation; I had not only learn’d the Language, but had contracted Acquaintance and Friendship among my Fellow-Planters, as was as among the Merchants at St. Salvadore, 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 upon the Coast, for Trifles, such as Beads, Toys, Knives, Scissars, Hatchets, bits of Glass, and the like; not only Gold Dust, Guinea Grains, Elephants Teeth, &c. but Negroes for the Service of the Brasils, 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 entred into, but as far as it was, had been carried on by the Assiento’s, or Permission of the Kings of Spain and Portugal, and engross’d in the Publick, so that few Negroes were brought, and those excessive dear.
It happen’d, being in Company with some Merchants and Planters of my Acquaintance, and talking of those things very earnestly, three of 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 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 straiten’d for nothing so much as Servants; that as it was a Trade that could not be carried on, because they could not publickly sell the Negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one Voyage, to bring the Negroes on Shoar privately, and divide them among their own Plantations; and in a Word, the Question was, whether I would go their Super-Cargo in the Ship to manage the Trading Part upon the Coast of Guinea? And they offer’d me that I should have my equal Share of the Negroes without providing any Part of the Stock.
This was a fair Proposal it must be confess’d, had it been made to anyone that had not had 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 for 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 Pound from England, and who in that time, and with that little Addition, could scarce ha’ fail’d of being worth three or four thousand Pounds Sterling, and that encreasing 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 miscarry’d. This they all engag’d to do, and entred 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 sav’d 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 ship’d to England.
In short, I took all possible Caution to preserve my Effects, and keep up my Plantation; had I used half as much Prudence to have look’d into my own Intrest, and have made a Judgment of what I ought to have done, and not to have done, I had certainly never gone away from so prosperous an Undertaking, leaving all the probable Views of a thriving Circumstance, and gone upon a Voyage to Sea, attended with all its common Hazards; to say nothing of the Reasons I had to expect particular Misfortunes to my self.
But I was hurried on, and obey’d 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, the of , being the same Day eight Year that I went from my Father and Mother at Hull, in order to act the Rebel to their Authority, and the Fool to my own Interest.
Our Ship was about 120 Tun Burthen, carried 6 Gunmen and 14 Men, besides the Master, his Boy, and my self; 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, Scissars, Hatchets, and the like.
The same Day I went on board we set sail, standing away to the Northward upon our own Coast, with Design to stretch over for the Affrican Coast, when they came about 10 or 12 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 the Height of Cape St. Augustino, from whence keeping farther off at Sea we lost Sight of Land, and steer’d as if we was bound for the Isle Fernand de Noronha holding our Course N.E. by N. and leaving those Isles on East; in this Course we past the Line in about 12 Days time, and were by our last Observation in 7 Degrees 22 Min. Northern Latitude, when a violent Tournado or Hurricane took us quite out of our Knowledge; it began from the South-East, came about to the North-West, and then settled into the North-East, from whence it blew in such a terrible manner, that for twelve Days together we could do nothing but drive, and scudding away before it, let it carry us whither ever Fate and the Fury of the Winds directed; and during these twelve Days, I need not say, that I expected every Day to be swallowed up, nor indeed did any in the Ship expect to save their Lives.
In this Distress, we had besides the Terror of the Storm, one of our Men dyed of the Calenture, and one Man and the Boy wash’d over board; about the 12th Day the Weather abating 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 gotten upon the Coast of Guinea, or the North Part of Brasil, beyond the River Amozones, toward that of the River Oronoque, commonly call’d 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 Brasil.
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 Carribbe-Islands, and therefore resolved to stand away for Barbadoes, which by keeping off at Sea, to avoid the Indraft of the Bay or Gulph of Mexico, we might easily perform, as we hoped, in about fifteen Days Sail; whereas we could not possibly make our Voyage to the Coast of Affrica without some Assistance, both to our Ship and to our selves.
With this Design we chang’d our Course and steer’d away N.W. by W. in order to reach some of our English Islands, where I hoped for Relief; but our Voyage was otherwise determined, for being in the Latitude of 12 Deg. 18 Min. a second Storm came upon us, which carry’d us away with the same Impetuosity Westward, and drove us so out of the very Way of all humane 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, cry’d out, Land; and we had no sooner run out of the Cabbin to look out in hopes of seeing where abouts in the World we were; but the Ship struck upon a Sand, and in a moment her Motion being so stopp’d, the Sea broke over her in such a manner, that we expected we should all have perish’d immediately, and we were immediately driven into our close Quarters to shelter us from the very Foam and Sprye 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, tho’ rather less than at first, we could not so much as hope to have the Ship hold many Minutes without being in Pieces, unless the Winds by a kind of Miracle should turn immediately 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 tho 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 stav’d 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 fancy’d 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 lays hold of the Boat, and with the help of the rest of the Men, they got her flung over the Ship’s-side, and getting all into her, let go, an committed our selves being Eleven in Number, to God’s Mercy, and the wild Sea; for tho’ the Storm was abated considerably, yet the Sea went dreadful high upon the Shore, and might well be call’d, 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 could not live, and that we should be inevitably drowned. As to making Sail, we had none, nor, if we had, could we ha’ done anything with it; so we work’d at the Oar towards the Land, tho’ with heavy Hearts, like Men going to Execution; for we all knew, that when the Boat came nearer the Shore, she would be dash’d 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 hasten’d 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 happen into some Bay or Gulph, or the Mouth of some River, where by 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; but as we made nearer and nearer the Shore, the Land look’d more frightful than the Sea.
After we had row’d, or rather driven about a League and a Half, as we reckon’d it, a raging Wave, Mountain-like, came rowling a-stern of us, and plainly bad 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! 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 tho’ I swam very well, yet I could not deliver my self from the Waves so as to draw Breath, till that Wave having driven me, or rather carried me a vast Way on towards the Shore, and having spent it self, 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 my self nearer the main Land than I expected, I got upon my Feet, and endeavoured 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 I 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 my self upon the Water, if I could; and so by swimming to preserve my Breathing, and Pilot my self towards the Shore, if possible; my greatest Concern now being, that the Sea, 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 20 or 30 Foot deep in its own Body; and I could feel my self carried with a mighty Force and Swiftness towards the Shore a very great Way; but I held my Breath, and assisted my self to swim still forward with all my Might. I was ready to burst with holding my Breath, when, as I felt my self rising up, so to my immediate Relief, I found my Head and Hands shoot out above the Surface of the Water; and tho’ it was not two Seconds of Time that I could keep my self so, yet it reliev’d 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 it self, and began to return, I strook 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 run 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 carried forwards as before, the Shore being very flat.
The last Time of these two had well near been fatal to me; for the Sea having hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dash’d me against a Piece of a Rock, and that with such Force, as it left me senseless, and indeed helpless, as to my own Deliverance; for the Blow taking my Side and Breast, beat the Breath as it were quite out of my Body; and had it returned again immediately, I must have been strangled in the Water; but I recover’d a little before the return of the Waves, and seeing I should be cover’d again with the Water, I resolv’d to hold fast by a Piece of the Rock, and so to hold my Breath, if possible, till the Wave went back; now as the Waves were not so high as at first, being nearer Land, I held my Hold till the Wave abated, and then fetch’d another Run, which brought me so near the Shore, that the next Wave, tho’ it went over me, yet did not so swallow me up as to carry me away, and the next run I took, I got to the main Land, where, to my great Comfort, I clamber’d up the Clifts of the Shore, and sat me dow[n] upon the Grass, free from Danger, and quite out of the Reach of the Water.
I was now landed, and safe on Shore, and began to look up and thank God that my Life was sav’d in a Case wherein there was some Minutes before scarce any room to hope. I believe it is impossible to express to the Life what the Extasies and Transports of the Soul are, when it is so sav’d, as I may say, out of the very Grave; and I do not wonder now at that Custom, viz. That when a Malefactor who has the Halter about his Neck, is tyed up, and just going to be turn’d off, and has a Reprieve brought to him: I say, I do not wonder that they bring a Surgeon with it, to let him Blood that very Moment they tell him of it, that the Surprise may not drive the Animal Spirits from the Heart, and overwhelm him:
For sudden Joys, like Griefs, confound at first.
I walk’d about on the Shore, lifting up my Hands, and my whole Being, as I may say, wrapt up in the Contemplation of my Deliverance, making a Thousand Gestures and Motions which I cannot describe, reflecting upon all my Comerades that were drown’d, and that there should not be one Soul sav’d but my self; for, as for them, I never saw them afterwards, or any Sign of them, except three of their Hats, one Cap, and two Shoes that were not Fellows.
I cast my Eyes to the stranded Vessel, when the Breach and Froth of the Sea being so big, I could hardly see it, it lay so far off, and considered, Lord! how was it possible I could get on Shore?
After I had solac’d my Mind with the comfortable Part of my Condition, I began to look round me to see what kind of Place I was in, and what was next to be done, and I soon found my Comforts abate, and that in a word I had a dreadful Deliverance: For I was wet, had no Clothes to shift me, nor any thing either to eat or drink to comfort me, neither did I see any Prospect before me, but that of perishing with Hunger, or being devour’d by wild Beasts; and that which was particularly afflicting to me, was, that I had no Weapon either to hunt and kill any Creature for my Sustenance, or to defend my self against any other Creature that might desire to kill me for theirs: In a Word, I had nothing about me but a Knife, a Tobacco-pipe, and a little Tobacco in a Box, this was all my Provision, and this threw me into terrible Agonies of Mind, that for a while I run about like a Mad-man; Night coming upon me, I began with a heavy Heart to consider what would be my Lot if there were any ravenous Beasts in that Country, seeing at Night they always come abroad for their Prey.
All the Remedy that offer’d to my Thoughts at that Time, was, to get up into a thick bushy Tree like a Firr, but thorny, which grew near me, and where I resolv’d to set all Night, and consider the next Day what Death I should dye, for as yet I saw no Prospect of Life; I walk’d about a Furlong from the Shore, to see if I could find any fresh Water to drink, which I did, to my great Joy; and having drank and put a little Tobacco in my Mouth to prevent Hunger, I went to the Tree, and getting up into it, endeavour’d to place my self so, as that if I should sleep I might not fall; and having cut me a short Stick, like a Truncheon, for my Defence, I took up my Lodging, and having been excessively fatigu’d, I fell fast asleep, and slept as comfortably as, I believe, few could have done in my Condition, and found my self the most refresh’d with it, that I think I ever was on such an Occasion.
When I wak’d it was broad Day, the Weather clear, and the Storm abated, so that the Sea did not rage and swell as before: But that which surpris’d me most, was, that the Ship was lifted off in the Night from the Sand where she lay by the Swelling of the Tyde, and was driven up almost as far as the Rock which I first mention’d, where I had been so bruis’d by the dashing me against it; this being within about a Mile from the Shore where I was, and the Ship seeming to stand upright still, I wish’d my self on board, that, at least, I might save some necessary things for my use.
When I came down from my Appartment in the Tree, I look’d about me again, and the first thing I found was the Boat, which lay as the Wind and the Sea had toss’d her up upon the Land, about two Miles on my right Hand. I walk’d as far as I could upon the Shore to have got to her, but found a Neck or Inlet of Water between me and the Boat, which was about half a Mile broad, so I came back for the present, being more intent upon getting at the Ship, where I hop’d to find something for my present Subsistence.
A little after Noon I found the Sea very calm, and the Tyde ebb’d so far out, that I could come within a Quarter of a Mile of the Ship; and here I found a fresh renewing of my Grief, for I saw evidently, that if we had kept on board, we had been all safe, that is to say, we had all got safe on Shore, and I had not been so miserable as to be left entirely destitute of all Comfort and Company, as I now was; this forc’d Tears from my Eyes again, but as there was little Relief in that, I resolv’d, if possible, to get to the Ship, so I pull’d off my Clothes, for the Weather was hot to Extremity, and took the Water, but when I came to the Ship, my Difficulty was still greater to know how to get on board, for as she lay a ground, and high out of the Water, there was nothing within my Reach to lay hold of; I swam round her twice, and the second Time I spy’d a small Piece of a Rope, which I wonder’d I did not see at first, hang down by the Fore-Chains so low, as that with great Difficulty I got hold of it, and by the help of that Rope, got up into the Forecastle of the Ship; here I found that the Ship was bulg’d, and had a great deal of Water in her Hold, but that she lay so on the Side of a Bank of hard Sand, or rather Earth, that her Stern lay lifted up upon the Bank, and her Head low almost to the Water; by this Means all her Quarter was free, and all that was in that Part was dry; for you may be sure my first Work was to search and to see what was spoil’d and what was free; and first I found that all the Ship’s Provisions were dry and untouch’d by the Water, and being very well dispos’d to eat, I went to the Bread-room and fill’d my Pockets with Bisket, and eat it as I went about other things, for I had no time to lose; I also found some Rum in the great Cabbin, of which I took a large Dram, and which I had indeed need enough of to spirit me for what was before me: Now I wanted nothing but a Boat to furnish my self with many things which I forsaw would be very necessary to me.
It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to be had, and this Extremity rouz’d my Application; we had several spare Yards, and two or three large sparrs of Wood, and a spare Top-mast or two in the Ship; I resolv’d to fall to work with these, and I flung as many of them over board as I could manage for their Weight, tying every one with a Rope that they might not drive away; when this was done I went down the Ship’s Side, and pulling them to me, I ty’d four of them fast together at both Ends as well as I could, in the Form of a Raft, and laying two or three short Pieces of Plank upon them cross-ways, I found I could walk upon it very well, but that it was not able to bear any great Weight, the Pieces being too light; so I went to work, and with the Carpenters Saw I cut a spare Top-mast into three Lengths, and added them to my Raft, with a great deal of Labour and Pains, but hope of furnishing my self with Necessaries, encourag’d me to go beyond what I should have been able to have done upon another Occasion.
My Raft was now strong enough to bear any reasonable Weight; my next Care was what to load it with, and how to preserve what I laid upon it from the Surf of the Sea; But I was not long considering this, I first laid all the Plank or Boards upon it that I could get, and having consider’d well what I most wanted, I first got three of the Seamens Chests, which I had broken open and empty’d, and lower’d them down upon my Raft; the first of these I fill’d with Provision, viz. Bread, Rice, three Dutch Cheeses, five Pieces of dry’d Goat’s Flesh, which we liv’d much upon, and a little Remainder of European Corn which had been laid by for some Fowls which we brought to Sea with us, but the Fowls were kill’d; there had been some Barly and Wheat together, but, to my great Disappointment, I found afterwards that the Rats had eaten or spoil’d it all; as for Liquors, I found several Cases of Bottles belonging to our Skipper, in which were some Cordial Waters, and in all about five or six Gallons of Rack, these I stow’d by themselves, there being no need to put them into the Chest, nor no room for them. While I was doing this, I found the Tyde began to flow, tho’ very calm, and I had the Mortification to see my Coat, Shirt and Wast-coat which I had left on Shore upon the Sand, swim away; as for my Breeches which were only Linnen and open knee’d, I swam on board in them and my Stockings: However this put me upon rummaging for Clothes, of which I found enough, but took no more than I wanted for present use, for I had other things which my Eye was more upon, as first Tools to work with on Shore, and it was after long searching that I found out the Carpenter’s Chest, which was indeed a very useful Prize to me, and much more valuable than a Ship Loading of Gold would have been at that time; I got it down to my Raft, even whole as it was, without losing time to look into it, for I knew in general what it contain’d.
My next Care was for some Ammunition and Arms; there were two very good Fowling-pieces in the great Cabbin, and two Pistols, these I secur’d first, with some Powder-horns, and a small Bag of Shot, and two old rusty Swords; I knew there were three Barrels of Powder in the Ship, but-knew not where our Gunner had stow’d them, but with much search I found them, two of them dry and good, the third had taken Water, those two I got to my Raft, with the Arms, and now I thought my self pretty well freighted, and began to think how I should get to Shore with them, having neither Sail, Oar, or Rudder, and the least Cap full of Wind would have overset all my Navigation.
I had three Encouragements, 1. A smooth calm Sea, 2. The Tide rising and setting in to the Shore, 3. What little Wind there was blew me towards the Land; and thus, having found two or three broken Oars belonging to the Boat, and besides the Tools which were in the Chest, I found two Saws, an Axe, and a Hammer, and with this Cargo I put to Sea; For a Mile, or thereabouts, my Raft went very well, only that I found it drive a little distant from the Place: where I had landed before, by which I perceiv’d that there was some Indraft of the Water, and consequently I hop’d to find some Creek or River there, which I might make use of as a Port to get to Land with my Cargo.
As I imagin’d, so it was, there appear’d before me a little opening of the Land, and I found a strong Current of the Tide set into it, so I guided my Raft as well as I could to keep in the Middle of the Stream: But here I had like to have suffer’d a second Shipwreck, which, if I had, I think verily would have broke my Heart, for knowing nothing of the Coast, my Raft run a-ground at one End of it upon a Shoal, and not being a-ground at the other End, it wanted but a little that all my Cargo had slip’d off towards that End that was a-float, and so fall’n into the Water: I did my utmost by setting my Back against the Chests, to keep them in their Places, but could not thrust off the Raft with all my Strength, neither durst I stir from the Posture I was in, but holding up the Chests with all my Might, stood in that Manner near half an Hour, in which time the rising of the Water brought me a little more upon a Level, and a little after, the Water still rising, my Raft floated again, and I thrust her off with the Oar I had, into the Channel, and then driving up higher, I at length found my self in the Mouth of a little River, with Land on both Sides, and a strong Current or Tide running up, I look’d on both Sides for a proper Place to get to Shore, for I was not willing to be driven too high up the River, hoping in time to see some Ship at Sea, and therefore resolv’d to place my self as near the Coast as I could.
At length I spy’d a little Cove on the right Shore of the Creek, to which with great Pain and Difficulty I guided my Raft, and at last got so near, as that, reaching Ground with my Oar, I could thrust her directly in, but here I had like to have dipt all my Cargo in the Sea again; for that Shore lying pretty steep, that is to say sloping, there was no Place to land, but where one End of my Float, if it run on Shore, would lie so high, and the other sink lower as before, that it would endanger my Cargo again: All that I could do, was to wait ’till the Tide was at highest, keeping the Raft with my Oar like an Anchor to hold the Side of it fast to the Shore, near a flat Piece of Ground, which I expected the Water would flow over; and so it did: As soon as I found Water enough, for my Raft drew about a Foot of Water, I thrust her on upon that flat Piece of Ground, and there fasten’d or mor’d her by sticking my two broken Oars into the Ground; one on one Side near one End, and one on the other Side near the other End; and thus I lay ’till the Water ebb’d away, and left my Raft and all my Cargoe safe on Shore.
My next Work was to view the Country, and seek a proper Place for my Habitation, and where to stow my Goods to secure them from whatever might happen; where I was I yet knew not, whether on the Continent or on an Island, whether inhabited or not inhabited, whether in Danger of wild Beasts or not: There was a Hill not above a Mile from me, which rose up very steep and high, and which seem’d to over-top some other Hills which lay as in a Ridge from it northward; I took out one of the fowling Pieces, and one of the Pistols, and an Horn of Powder, and thus arm’d I travell’d for Discovery up to the Top of that Hill, where after I had with great Labour and Difficulty got to the Top, I saw my Fate to my great Affliction, (viz.) that I was in an Island environ’d every Way with the Sea, no Land to be seen, except some Rocks which lay a great Way off, and two, small Islands less than this, which lay about three Leagues to the West.
I found also that the Island I was in was barren, and, as I saw good Reason to believe, un-inhabited, except by wild Beasts, of whom however I saw none, yet I saw Abundance of Fowls, but knew not their Kinds, neither when I kill’d them could I tell what was fit for Food, and what not; at my coming back, I shot at a great Bird which I saw sitting upon a Tree on the Side of a great Wood, I believe it was the first Gun that had been fir’d there since the Creation of the World; I had no sooner fir’d, but from all the Parts of the Wood there arose an innumerable Number of Fowls of many Sorts, making a confus’d Screaming, and crying every one according to his usual Note; but not one of them of any Kind that I knew: As for the Creature I kill’d, I took it to be a Kind of a Hawk, its Colour and Beak resembling it, but had no Talons or Claws more than common, its Flesh was Carrion, and fit for nothing.
Contented with this Discovery, I came back to my Raft, and fell to Work to bring my Cargoe on Shore, which took me up the rest of that Day, and what to do with my self at Night I knew not, nor indeed where to rest; for I was afraid to lie down on the Ground, not knowing but some wild Beast might devour me, tho’, as I afterwards found, there was really no Need for those Fears.
However, as well as I could, I barricado’d my self round with the Chests and Boards that I had brought on Shore, and made a Kind of a Hut for that Night’s Lodging; as for Food, I yet saw not which Way to supply my self, except that I had seen two or three Creatures like Hares run out of the Wood where I shot the Fowl.
I now began to consider, that I might yet get a great many Things out of the Ship, which would be useful to me, and particularly some of the Rigging, and Sails, and such other Things as might come to Land, and I resolv’d to make another Voyage on Board the Vessel, if possible; and as I knew that the first Storm that blew must necessarily break her all in Pieces, I resolv’d to set all other Things apart, ’till I got every Thing out of the Ship that I could get; then I call’d a Council, that is to say, in my Thoughts, whether I should take back the Raft, but this appear’d impracticable; so I resolv’d to go as before, when the Tide was down, and I did so, only that I stripp’d before I went from my Hut, having nothing on but a Chequer’d Shirt, and a Pair of Linnen Drawers, and a Pair of Pumps on my Feet.
I got on Board the Ship, as before, and prepar’d a second Raft, and having had Experience of the first, I neither made this so unweildy, nor loaded it so hard, but yet I brought away several Things very useful to me; as first, in the Carpenter’s Stores I found two or three Bags full of Nails and Spikes, a great Skrew-Jack, a Dozen or two of Hatchets, and above all, that most useful Thing call’d a Grindstone; all these I secur’d together, with several Things belonging to the Gunner, particularly two or three Iron Crows, and two Barrels of Musquet Bullets, seven Musquets, and another fowling Piece, with some small Quantity of Powder more; a large Bag full of small Shot, and a great Roll of Sheet Lead: But this last was so heavy, I could not hoise it up to get it over the Ship’s Side.
Besides these Things, I took all the Mens Cloths that I could find, and a spare Fore-top-sail, a Hammock, and some Bedding; and with this I loaded my second Raft, and brought them all safe on Shore to my very great Comfort.
I was under some Apprehensions during my Absence from the Land, that at least my Provisions might be devour’d on Shore; but when I came back, I found no Sign of any Visitor, only there sat a Creature like a wild Cat upon one of the Chests, which when I came towards it, ran away a little Distance, and then stood still; she sat very compos’d, and unconcern’d, and look’d full in my Face, as if she had a Mind to be acquainted with me, I presented my Gun at her, but as she did not understand it, she was perfectly unconcern’d at it, nor did she offer to stir away; upon which I toss’d her a Bit of Bisket, tho’ by the Way I was not very free of it, for my Store was not great: However, I spar’d her a Bit, I say, and she went to it, smell’d of it, and ate it, and look’d (as pleas’d) for more, but I thank’d her, and could spare no more; so she march’d off.
Having got my second Cargoe on Shore, tho’ I was fain to open the Barrels of Powder, and bring them by Parcels, for they were too heavy, being large Casks, I went to work to make me a little Tent with the Sail and some Poles which I cut for that Purpose, and into this Tent I brought every Thing that I knew would spoil, either with Rain or Sun, and I piled all the empty Chests and Casks up in a Circle round the Tent, to fortify it from any sudden Attempt, either from Man or Beast.
When I had done this I block’d up the Door of the Tent with some Boards within, and an empty Chest set up an End without, and spreading one of the Beds upon the Ground, laying my two Pistols just at my Head, and my Gun at Length by me, I went to Bed for the first Time, and slept very quietly all Night, for I was very weary and heavy, for the Night before I had slept little, and had labour’d very hard all Day, as well to fetch all those Things from the Ship, as to get them on Shore.
I had the biggest Maggazin of all Kinds now that ever were laid up, I believe, for one Man, but I was not satisfy’d still; for while the Ship sat upright in that Posture, I thought I, ought to get every Thing out of her that I could; so every Day at low Water I went on Board, and brought away some Thing or other: But particularly the third Time I went, I brought away as much of the Rigging as I could, as also all the small Ropes and Rope-twine I could get, with a Piece of spare Canvass, which was to mend the Sails upon Occasion, the Barrel of wet Gun-powder: In a Word, I brought away all the Sails first and last, only that I was fain to cut them in Pieces, and bring as much at a Time as I could; for they wore no more useful to be Sails, but as meer Canvass only.
But that which comforted me more still was, that at last of all, after I had made five or six such Voyages as these, and thought I had nothing more to expect from the Ship that was worth my medling with, I say, after all this, I found a great Hogshead of Bread and three large Runlets of Rum or Spirits, and a Box of Sugar, and a Barrel of fine Flower; this was surprizing to me, because I had given over expecting any more Provisions, except what was spoil’d by the Water: I soon empty’d the Hogshead of that Bread, and wrapt it up Parcel by Parcel in Pieces of the Sails, which I cut out; and in a Word, I got all this safe on Shore also.
The next Day I made another Voyage; and now having plunder’d the Ship of what was portable and fit to hand out, I began with the Cables; and cutting the great Cable into Pieces, such as I could move, I got two Cables and a Hawser on Shore, with all the Iron Work I could get; and having cut down the Spritsail-yard, and the Missen-yard, and every Thing I could to make a large Raft, I loaded it with all those heavy Goods, and came away: But my good Luck began now to leave me; for this Raft was so unweildy, and so overloaden, that after I was enter’d the little Cove, where I had landed the rest of my Goods, not being able to guide it so handily as I did the other, it overset, and threw me and all my Cargoe into the Water; as for my self it was no great Harm, for I was near the Shore; but as to my Cargoe, it was great Part of it lost, especially the Iron, which I expected would have been of great Use to me: However, when the Tide was out, I got most of the Pieces of Cable ashore, and some of the Iron, tho’ with infinite Labour; for I was fain to dip for it into the Water, a Work which fatigu’d me very much: After this I went every Day on Board, and brought away what I could get.
I had been now thirteen Days on Shore, and had been eleven Times on Board the Ship; in which Time I had brought away all that one Pair of Hands could well be suppos’d capable to bring, tho’ I believe verily, had the calm Weather held, I should have brought away the whole Ship Piece by Piece: But preparing the 12th Time to go on Board, I found the Wind begin to rise; however at low Water I went on Board, and tho’ I thought I had rumag’d the Cabbin so effectually, as that nothing more could be found, yet I discover’d a Locker with Drawers in it, in one of which I found two or three Razors, and one Pair of large Sizzers, with some ten or a Dozen of good Knives and Forks, in another I found about Thirty six Pounds value in Money, some European Coin, some Brasil, some Pieces of Eight, some Gold, some Silver.
I smil’d to my self at the Sight of this Money, O Drug! Said I aloud, what art thou good for, Thou art not worth to me, no not the taking off of the Ground, one of those Knives is worth all this Heap, I have no Manner of use for thee, e’en remain where thou art, and go to the Bottom as a Creature whose Life is not worth saving. However, upon Second Thoughts, I took it away, and wrapping all this in a Piece of Canvas, I began to think of making another Raft, but while I was preparing this, I found the Sky over-cast, and the Wind began to rise, and in a Quarter of an Hour it blew a fresh Gale from the Shore; it presently occur’d to me, that it was in vain to pretend to make a Raft with the Wind off Shore, and that it was my Business to be gone before the Tide of Flood began, otherwise I might not be able to reach the Shore at all: Accordingly I let my self down into the Water, and swam cross the Channel, which lay between the Ship and the Sands, and even that with Difficulty enough, partly with the Weight of the Things I had about me, and partly the Roughness of the Water, for the Wind rose very hastily, and before it was quite high Water, it blew a Storm.
But I was gotten home to my little Tent, where I lay with all my Wealth about me very secure. It blew very hard all that Night, and in the Morning when I look’d out, behold no more Ship was to be seen; I was a little surpriz’d, but recover’d my self with this satisfactory Reflection, viz. That I had lost no time, nor abated no Dilligence to get every thing out of her that could be useful to me, and that indeed there was little left in her that I was able to bring away if I had had more time.
I now gave over any more Thoughts of the Ship, or of any thing out of her, except what might drive on Shore from her Wreck, as indeed divers Pieces of her afterwards did; but those things were of small use to me.
My Thoughts were now wholly employ’d about securing my self against either Savages, if any should appear, or wild Beasts, if any were in the Island; and I had many Thoughts of the Method how to do this, and what kind of Dwelling to make, whether I should make me a Cave in the Earth, or a Tent upon the Earth: And, in short, I resolv’d upon both, the Manner and Discription of which, it may not be improper to give an Account of.
I soon found the Place I was in was not for my Settlement, particularly because it was upon a low moorish Ground near the Sea, and I believ’d would not be wholsome, and more particularly because there was no fresh Water near it, so I resolv’d to find a more healthy and more convenient Spot of Ground.
I consulted several Things in my Situation which I found would be proper for me, 1st. Health, and fresh Water I just now mention’d, 2dly. Shelter from the Heat of the Sun, 3dly. Security from ravenous Creatures, whether Men or Beasts, 4thly. a View to the Sea, that if God sent any Ship in Sight, I might not lose any Advantage for my Deliverance, of which I was not willing to banish all my Expectation yet.
In search of a Place proper for this, I found a little Plain on the Side of a rising Hill; whose Front towards this little Plain, was steep as a House-side, so that nothing could come down upon me from the Top; on the Side of this Rock there was a hollow Place worn a little way in like the Entrance or Door of a Cave, but there was not really any Cave or Way into the Rock at all.
On the Flat of the Green, just before this hollow Place, I resolv’d to pitch my Tent: This Plain was not above an Hundred Yards broad, and about twice as long, and lay like a Green before my Door, and at the End of it descended irregularly every Way down into the Low-grounds by the Sea-side. It was on the N.N.W. Side of the Hill, so that I was shelter’d from the Heat every Day, till it came to a W. and by S. Sun, or thereabouts, which in those Countries is near the Setting.
Before I set up my Tent, I drew a half Circle before the hollow Place, which took in about Ten Yards in its Semi-diameter from the Rock, and Twenty Yards in its Diameter, from its Beginning and Ending.
In this half Circle I pitch’d two Rows of strong Stakes, driving them into the Ground till they stood very firm like Piles, the biggest End being out of the Ground about Five Foot and a Half, and sharpen’d on the Top: The two Rows did not stand above Six Inches from one another.
Then I took the Pieces of Cable which I had cut in the Ship, and I laid them in Rows one upon another, within the Circle, between these two Rows of Stakes, up to the Top, placing other Stakes in the In-side, leaning against them, about two Foot and a half high, like a Spurr to a Post, and this Fence was so strong, that neither Man or Beast could get into it or over it: This cost me a great deal of Time and Labour, especially to cut the Piles in the Woods, bring them to the Place, and drive them into the Earth.
The Entrance into this Place I made to be not by a Door, but by a short Ladder to go over the Top, which Ladder, when I was in, I lifted over after me, and so I was compleatly fenc’d in, and fortify’d, as I thought, from all the World, and consequently slept secure in the Night, which otherwise I could not have done, tho’, as it appear’d afterward, there was no need of all this Caution from the Enemies that I apprehended Danger from.
Into this Fence or Fortress, with infinite Labour, I carry’d all my Riches, all my Provisions, Ammunition and Stores, of which you have the Account above, and I made me a large Tent, which, to preserve me from the Rains that in one Part of the Year are very violent there, I made double, viz. One smaller Tent within, and one larger Tent above it, and cover’d the uppermost with a large Tarpaulin which I had sav’d among the Sails.
And now I lay no more for a while in the Bed which I had brought on Shore, but in a Hammock, which was indeed a very good one, and belong’d to the Mate of the Ship.
Into this Tent I brought all my Provisions, and every thing that would spoil by the Wet, and having thus enclos’d all my Goods, I made up the Entrance, which till now I had left open, and so pass’d and re-pass’d, as I said, by a short Ladder.
When I had done this, I began to work my Way into the Rock, and bringing all the Earth and Stones that I dug down out thro’ my Tent, I laid ’em up within my Fence in the Nature of a Terras, that so it rais’d the Ground within about a Foot and a Half; and thus I made me a Cave just behind my Tent, which serv’d me like a Cellar to my House.
It cost me much Labour, and many Days, before all these Things were brought to Perfection, and therefore I must go back to some other Things which took up some of my Thoughts. At the same time it happen’d after I had laid my Scheme for the setting up my Tent and making the Cave, that a Storm of Rain falling from a thick dark Cloud, a sudden Flash of Lightning happen’d, and after that a great Clap of Thunder, as is naturally the Effect of it; I was not so much surpris’d with the Lightning as I was with a Thought which darted into my Mind as swift as the Lightning it self: O my Powder! My very Heart sunk within me, when I thought, that at one Blast all my Powder might be destroy’d, on which, not my Defence only, but the providing me Food, as I thought, entirely depended; I was nothing near so anxious about my own Danger, tho’ had the Powder took fire, I had never known who had hurt me.
Such Impression did this make upon me, that after the Storm was over, I laid aside all my Works, my Building, and Fortifying, and apply’d my self to make Bags and Boxes to separate the Powder, and keep it a little and a little in a Parcel, in hope, that whatever might come, it might not all take Fire at once, and to keep it so apart that it should not be possible to make one part fire another: I finish’d this Work in about a Fort night, and I think my Powder, which in all was about 240 l. weight was divided in not less than Hundred Parcels; as to the Barrel that had been wet, I did not apprehend any Danger from that, so I plac’d it in my new Cave, which in my Fancy I call’d my Kitchin, and the rest I hid up and down in Holes among the Rocks, so that no wet might come to it, marking very carefully where I laid it.
In the Interval of time while this was doing I went out once at least every Day with my Gun, as well to divert my self, as to see if I could kill any thing fit for Food, and as near as I could to acquaint my self with what the Island produc’d. The first time I went out I presently discover’d that there were Goats in the Island, which was a great Satisfaction to me; but then it was attended with this Misfortune to me, viz. That they were so shy, so subtile, and so swift of Foot, that it was the difficultest thing in the World to come at them: But I was not discourag’d at this, not doubting but I might now and then shoot one, as it soon happen’d, for after I had found their Haunts a little, I laid wait in this Manner for them: I observ’d if they saw me in the Valleys, tho’ they were upon the Rocks, they would run away as in a terrible Fright; but if they were feeding in the Valleys, and I was upon the Rocks, they took no Notice of me, from whence I concluded, that by the Position of their Opticks, their Sight was so directed downward, that they did not readily see Objects that were above them; so afterward I took this Method, I always clim’d the Rocks first to get above them, and then had frequently a fair Mark. The first shot I made among these Creatures, I kill’d a She-Goat which had a little Kid by her which she gave Suck to, which griev’d me heartily; but when the Old one fell, the Kid stood stock still by her till I came and took her up, and not only so, but when I carry’d the Old one with me upon my Shoulders, the Kid follow’d me quite to my Enclosure, upon which I laid down the Dam, and took the Kid in my Arms, and carry’d it over my Pale, in hopes to have bred it up tame, but it would not eat, so I was forc’d to kill it and eat it my self; these two supply’d me with Flesh a great while, for I eat sparingly; and sav’d my Provisions (my Bread especially) as much as possibly I could.
Having now fix’d my Habitation, I found it absolutely necessary to provide a Place to make a Fire in, and Fewel to burn; and what I did for that, as also how I enlarg’d my Cave, and what Conveniencies I made, I shall give a full Account of in its Place: But I must first give some little Account of my self, and of my Thoughts about Living, which it may well be suppos’d were not a few.
I had a dismal Prospect of my Condition, for as I was not cast away upon that Island without being driven, as is said, by a violent Storm quite out of the Course of our intended Voyage, and a great Way, viz. some Hundreds of Leagues out of the ordinary Course of the Trade of Mankind, I had great Reason to consider it as a Determination of Heaven, that in this desolate Place, and in this desolate Manner I should end my Life; the Tears would run plentifully down my Face when I made these Reflections, and sometimes I would expostulate with my self, Why Providence should thus compleatly ruine its Creatures, and render them so absolutely miserable, so without Help abandon’d, so entirely depress’d, that it could hardly be rational to be thankful for such a Life.
But something always return’d swift upon me to check these Thoughts, and to reprove me; and particularly one Day walking with my Gun in my Hand by the Sea-side, I was very pensive upon the Subject of my present Condition, when Reason as it were expostulated with me t’other Way thus: Well, you are in a desolate Condition ’tis true, but pray remember, Where are the rest of you? Did not you come Eleven of you into the Boat, where are the Ten? Why, were not they sav’d and you lost? Why were you singled out? Is it better to be here or there and then I pointed to the Sea? All Evills are to be consider’d with the Good that is in them, and with what worse attends them.
Then it occurr’d to me again, how well I was furnish’d for my Subsistence, and what would have been my Case if it had not happen’d, Which was an Hundred Thousand to one, that the Ship floated from the Place where she first struck and was driven so near to the Shore that I had time to get all these Things out of her: What would have been my Case, if I had been to have liv’d in the Condition in which I at first came on Shore, without Necessaries of Life, or Necessaries to supply and procure them? Particularly said I aloud, (tho’ to my self) what should I ha’ done without a Gun, without Ammunition, without any Tools to make any thing, or to work with, without Clothes, Bedding, a Tent, or any manner of Covering, and that now I had all these to a Sufficient Quantity, and was in a fair way to provide my self in such a manner, as to live without my Gun when my Ammunition was spent; so that I had a tollerable View of subsisting without any Want as long as I liv’d; for I consider’d from the beginning how I would provide for the Accidents that might happen, and for the time that was to come, even not only after my Ammunition should be spent, but even after my Health or Strength should decay.
I confess I had not entertain’d any Notion of my Ammunition being destroy’d at one Blast, I mean my Powder being blown up by Lightning, and this made the Thoughts of it so surprising to me when it lighten’d and thunder’d, as I observ’d just now.
And now being to enter into a melancholy Relation of a Scene of silent Life, such perhaps as was never heard of in the World before, I shall take it from its Beginning, and continue it in its Order. It was, by my Account, the 30th. of Sept. when, in the Manner as above said, I first set Foot upon this horrid Island, when the Sun being, to us, in its Autumnal Equinox, was almost just over my Head, for I reckon’d my self, by Observation, to be in the Latitude of 9 Degrees 22 Minutes North of the Line.
After I had been there about Ten or Twelve Days, it came into my Thoughts, that I should lose my Reckoning of Time for want of Books and Pen and Ink, and should even forget the Sabbath Days from the working Days; but to prevent this I cut it with my Knife upon a large Post, in Capital Letters, and making it into a great Cross I set it up on the Shore where I first landed, viz. I came on Shore here on the 30th of Sept. 1659. Upon the Sides of this square Post I cut every Day a Notch with my Knife, and every seventh Notch was as long again as the rest, and every first Day of the Month as long again as that long one, and thus I kept my Kalander, or weekly, monthly, and yearly reckoning of Time.
In the next place we are to observe, that among the many things which I brought out of the Ship in the several Voyages, which, as above mention’d, I made to it, I got several things of less Value, but not all less useful to me, which I omitted setting down before; as in particular, Pens, Ink, and Paper, several Parcels in the Captain’s, Mate’s, Gunner’s, and Carpenter’s keeping, three or four Compasses, some Mathematical Instruments, Dials, Perspectives, Charts, and Books of Navigation, all which I huddel’d together, whether I might want them or no; also I found three very good Bibles which came to me in my Cargo from England, and which I had pack’d up among my things; some Portugueze Books also, and among them two or three Popish Prayer-Books, and several other Books, all which I carefully secur’d. And I must not forget, that we had in the Ship a Dog and two Cats, of whose eminent History I may have occasion to say something in its place; for I carry’d both the Cats with me, and as for the Dog, he jump’d out of the Ship of himself and swam on Shore to me the Day after I went on Shore with my first Cargo, and was a trusty Servant to me many Years; I wanted nothing that he could fetch me, nor any Company that he could make up to me, I only wanted to have him talk to me but that would not do: As I observ’d before, I found Pen, Ink and Paper, and I husbanded them to the utmost, and I shall shew, that while my Ink lasted, I kept things very exact, but after that was gone I could not, for I could not make any Ink by any Means that I could devise.
And this put me in mind that I wanted many things, notwithstanding all that I had amass’d together, and of these, this of Ink was one, as also Spade, Pick-Axe, and Shovel to dig or remove the Earth, Needles, Pins, and Thread; as for Linnen, I soon learn’d to want that without much Difficulty.
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