Imatges de pàgina
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I had two elder brothers, one of whom was an officer who had served in Flanders, and was killed at a battle near Dunkirk, against the Spaniards. What became of my second brother I never knew, any more than my father and mother knew what afterwards became of me. Not being brought up to any occupation, my head began to be filled from an early age with rambling thoughts. My father had given me some education, intending me for the legal profession; but nothing would satisfy me but going to sea, notwithstanding the entreaties and advice of my friends. My father used every persuasion to induce me to change my mind ; and though, he said, he would not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say, that if I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me, and I should have leisure hereafter to consider his advice, when I could not avail myself of it. At these words he was so affected that he broke off' the discourse, and told me his heart was full, and he could say no more. Notwithstanding this wish of my father, and the reproaches and expostulations of my mother, I still encouraged the desire of leaving home; and about a year afterwards, being one day at Hull, a companion, who was going to London by sea in his father’s ship, offered to give me a free passage in the same vessel. In an evil moment I consented, without consulting my parents, or informing them of what I had done ; and on the lst of September, 1651, we set sail for the metropolis. I was, however, punished for my undutiful conduct, for we had scarcely quitted the Humber when a fearful storm arose ; and as I had never been at sea before, I was both sick in body and terrified in conscience. I began now seriously to reflectupon what I had done; and I felt how justly the judgment of Heaven had overtaken me for so wickedly leaving my father’s house, and abandoning my duty. Meanwhile the storm increased, and I expected every wave would overwhelm us, and in agony of mind I made many resolutions: among others, that if it would please God to spare my life this voyage, I would go home to my father, and never enter a ship again while I lived. These good' thoughts continued during the tempest; but the next day, when the wind abated, and we had fine weather, I felt no longer sea-sick, but very cheerful. And now, lest my good intentions should continue, my companion, who had enticed me away, came, and, clapping me on the shoulder, exclaimed-“Well, Bob, how are you now ? I warrant you were frightened last night, when it blew but a capful of wind.” “ A capful do you call it,” I replied, “ 'twas a terrible storm.” “A storm, you fool,” he returned, “do you call that a storm? Why it was nothing at all. You are but a fresh-water sailor, Bob ; come, let us make a bowl of punch, and we'll forget all that.” To make short this sad part of my story, we went the way of all sailors. The punch unsteadied my reason, and in that one night’s

wickedness I drowned all my repentance, all my reflections upon my past conduct, and my resolutions for the future; and in five or six days I got as complete a victory over my conscience as any young fellow resolving not to be troubled with it could desire. However, on arriving in Yarmouth roads, we encountered another change of wind, more severe than the first, which obliged us to quit the vessel in a foundering condition, and we arrived, after much peril, at Yarmouth.

If I had returned home after this I should have been happy; but my obstinacy prevailed, and shame aided it. I was afraid of being laughed at by my former friends—so true is it often of youth that they are often abashed at sin, and yet are ashamed to repent. With these perverse thoughts I travelled to London, and went on board a vessel bound to the coast of Africa. During this voyage I passed through several adventures, being taken prisoner by a Moorish pirate, and escaping from captivity to fall into a worse calamity—that of shipwreck. This misfortune, to which I seemed fated, occurred in 1659, being eight years since I quitted my father and mother at Hull—a rebel to their authority, and a fool to my own interest. During a heavy sea, expecting the ship would break in pieces every moment, we took to the boat, but after rowing some time, a mountain-like wave broke over us with such violence, that we had scarcely time to call upon God when we were all swallowed up instantly. Nothing can describe the confusion of thought I felt as I sank into the water; for although I was a good swimmer, yet my breath was taken from me, and the sea drove, or rather carried me, a long way on towards the shore, and having spent itself, went back and left me upon the land, almost dry, but half dead with the water I had drunk. I had so much presence of mind, however, that seeing myself nearer the mainland than I expected, I got upon my feet and endeavoured to gain the shore as fast as I could, before another wave should overtake me; but the sea came on me as high as a great hill, burying me twenty or thirty feet in its waters. After successive trials, by the providence of God I got safely to shore, and walked about, grateful for my deliverance, reflecting upon all my comrades who were drowned, and that there should not be one soul saved but myself. I looked towards the stranded vessel, but could scarcely see it, the violence of the sea being so great, and I then gazed about me to see what kind of a place I was in. The joy I had felt at my safety subsided when I considered my condition, for I was wet, and had no clothes to change, nor anything to eat or drink to comfort me; neither did I see any prospect before me but that of perishing with hunger, or being devoured by wild beasts. I had no weapon either to hunt or kill any creature for my subsistence, or to defend myself from their attacks. I had nothing about me but a knife, a tobacco pipe, and a little tobacco, and this was all my provisions. At these thoughts

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I was so afflicted that I ran about like a madman; but the night coming on, I was obliged to get into a thick bushy tree to escape any ravenous beasts that might come abroad for their prey. I soon fell fast asleep, and reposed as comfortably as, I believe few could have done in my condition. When I awoke it was broad day, the weather having cleared, and the storm abated; but what most surprised me was, that the ship had been lifted off the sand where she lay during the night, by the swelling of the tide, and was driven to within about a mile from where I stood, and appeared upright in the water. I wished myself on board, that I might save some necessary things for my use. On looking about me the first thing I perceived was the boat, which lay as the wind and the sea had tossed her up, upon the land, about two miles on my right hand. I walked as far as I could upon the shore to reach it, but found myself stopped by a neck or inlet of water, about half a mile broad ; so I came back, being more eager than before to proceed to the ship, where I hoped to find something for my present subsistence. A little after noon I found the sea very calm, and the tide had ebbed so far out that I could nearly reach the vessel; so, taking off my clothes, I swam to her, and found, to my great content, that all the provisions it contained were dry and untouched by the water. Being hungry, I went to the bread room, and filled my pockets with biscuit; I also found some rum in the great cabin. What I now chiefly wanted was, a boat, to furnish myself with many things I foresaw would be very necessary to me. It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to be had, and accordingly I set to work and made a raft of some large spars of wood, and a spare topmast or two in the ship. When this was done, 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 ; but with the aid of a saw I cut a spare topmast into three lengths, and added them to my raft with a great deal of labour and pains. My next care was what to load it with, and having well considered what I most wanted, I got three of the seamen’s chests, which I had broken open and emptied, and lowered them down upon my raft; these I filled with bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five pieces of dried goat’s flesh, and several cases of liquors. While I was doing this, I found that the tide had began to flow, although the sea was calm; and I had the mortification to see my coat, shirt, and waistcoat, which I had left on shore upon the sand, carried away. However, this led me to search for clothes, of which I soon found enough, besides a carpenter’s chest of tools, which was indeed a very useful prize to me, and more valuable than a ship laden with gold at that time. My next care was to secure some ammunition and arms, and after a long search, I found two barrels of gunpowder, two very good

fowling pieces, and two pistols, together with some powder horns, a small bag of shot, and two old rusty swords.

Having lowered all these precious goods upon the raft, I considered myself pretty well freighted, and began to think how I should get on shore with them, having neither sail, oar, nor rudder, and the least gale of wind would have overset all my navigation. By great exertion, however, I contrived to guide it through the water, narrowly escaping running it aground, until I espied a little cove on the right shore of the creek, to which, with great pain and difficulty, I directed my freight, and there I remained until the sea ebbed away, and left my raft and all my cargo safe on shore.

My next work was to view the country, and to seek a proper place for my habitation, and where to place my goods to secure them from whatever might happen. I had no idea where I was; whether on the continent, or on an island; whether inhabited or not; neither could I tell if it harboured wild beasts. There was a steep and high hill about a mile distant, which I ascended, and saw, to my great affliction, that I was in an island, surrounded by the sea, no land to be seen except some rocks at a distance, and two small islands, which lay about three leagues to the west. I found also that the island I had been cast upon was barren and apparently uninhabited, yet I saw abundance of fowls, of a species unknown to me, so that when I killed them I could not tell which were good for food. On returning, 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 fired there since the creation of the world, for from every part of the wood arose an innumerable number of birds altogether strange to me.

After this discovery I returned to my raft, and commenced bringing my cargo on shore, which occupied the rest of the day. When night came I was undecided where to rest, for I was afraid to lie down on the ground, fearing some wild beast might devour me, although, as I afterwards found, this dread was needless.

However, as well as I could, I barricaded myself round with the chests and boards I had brought on shore, and made a kind of hut for the night's lodging.

I resolved to make another voyage on board the vessel, and when the tide was done I contrived again, by swimming, to get on board, and as it had been impracticable to take back the raft I had used in the first voyage, I prepared a second, and loaded it with several things useful to me, among others, two or three bags of nails and spikes, a great screw-jack, a dozen or two of hatchets, and, above all, a grindstone. All these I secured, together with several things belonging to the gunner, particularly two or three iron crows, two barrels of musket bullets, seven muskets and another fowling piece, besides more powder; like

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