King of the Beggars - Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVI

He is Seized and Transported again

What we are now going to relate will raise an honest indignation in the breast of every true lover of liberty; for all such know that the beauteous flower of liberty sickens to the very root (like the sensitive plant) at the lightest touch of the iron hand of power upon anyone of its most distant branches.

Mr. Carew being in the city of Exeter with his wife, and, having visited his old friends there, he walked to Topsham, about three miles distant, leaving his wife in Exeter. Alas! little did he think this walk would end in a long and cruel separation from his friends and country; little did he imagine, that, in the land of freedom and justice, he should be seized upon by the cruel grasp of lawless power: though poor, he thought himself under the protection of the laws, and, as such, liable to no punishment till they inflicted it. How far he thought right in this, let the sequel tell. Going down to Topsham, and walking upon the quay there, enjoying the beauties of a fine evening, meditating no harm, and suspecting no danger, he was accosted by merchant Dy, accompanied with several captains of vessels, in some such words as these: Ha! Mr. Carew, you are come in a right time! As you came home for your own pleasure you shall go over for mine. They then laid hands on him, who found it in vain to resist, as he was overpowered by numbers; he therefore desired to be carried before some magistrate, but this was not hearkened to, for they forced him on board a boat, without the presence or authority of any officer of justice, not so much as suffering him to take leave of his wife, or acquaint her with his misfortune, though he begged the favour almost with tears. The boat carried him on board the Phillory, Captain Simmonds, bound for America with convicts, which then lay at Powderham-castle waiting for a fair wind. Here, had my pen gall enough, I would put a blot of eternal infamy on that citizen of liberty, who usurped so much power over a fellow-citizen, and those who suffered a brother of liberty, however undeserving, to be dragged to slavery by the lawless hand of power, without the mandate of sovereign justice. Foolish wretch! dost thou not know that thou oughtest to be more careful of keeping all usurping power within its bounds, than thou wouldst the raging sea ready to overflow and overwhelm them all; for thou who hast consented to see power oppress a fellow-heir of glorious liberty, how canst thou complain, if its all-grasping iron hand should seize upon thyself, or whatever thou holdest most dear? then wouldst thou, too late, bewail that thou hadst ever suffered power wantonly to set foot on the neck of liberty.

But to return: Mr. Carew was no sooner put on board, than he was strictly searched, and then taken between decks, where he was ironed down with the convicts. There was at the same time a violent fever raging among them, and Mr. Carew, by being chained with them night and day, was soon infected, and taken very ill; however, he had not the liberty of sending to his wife, nor any of his friends, though they lay three weeks in the roads for a fair wind. In the meantime, his wife, not hearing anything from him, and uncertain what was become of him, or whether he was alive or dead, abandoned herself to an excess of grief, for he had always been a kind and affectionate husband to her; she therefore sought him up and down, at all the houses of his usual resort, but in vain, for no news could she gain of her beloved husband.

The wind coming fair, they hoisted sail, and soon bid adieu to the English coasts. We need not describe what passed in Mr. Carew's breast at this time; anger and grief prevailed by turns, sometimes resentment, for being thus treated, fired his bosom, and he vowed revenge: at other times the thoughts of his being thus unexpectedly separated from his country and friends, and doomed to an ignominious slavery, filled him with sad and melancholy reflections; however, he had the pleasure, before it was long, of knowing he was not entirely deserted; for Captain Simmonds, the commander of the Phillory, a humane compassionate man, came down to him between decks, soon after they were under sail, and bid him be of good cheer, for he should want for nothing; and though he had strict orders from merchant Dy never to let him return, yet he would be a friend to him, and provide for him in the best manner he could. Mr. Carew returned thanks to his generous and unexpected benefactor in as handsome a manner as he was able.

Soon after this, he had liberty allowed him of coming upon deck, where the captain entered into conversation with him, and jocosely asked if he thought he could be at home before him. He generously replied he thought he could, at least he would endeavour to be so; which the captain took all in good part.

Thus did Mr. Carew spend his time, in as agreeable a manner as could be expected under his present circumstances: but, alas! all our happiness is too fleeting, and we scarcely taste the pleasure before it is ravished from us: and thus it happened to our hero; for they had scarcely been under sail five weeks before the good Captain Simmonds was taken ill, which increased every day with too many fatal symptoms; till at last death, who regards alike the good and virtuous, and the bad and vicious, struck the fatal blow: but the approaches of the grisly tyrant were not so dreadful to this man, as the distress it would occasion to his wife and family, whom he cried out for during his whole illness. Mr. Carew bewailed the loss of this generous benefactor with more than outward sorrow. Everything in the vessel was now in confusion by the death of the captain; at length the mate, one Harrison of Newcastle, took charge of the vessel and the captain's effects; but had not enjoyed his new honours before he was taken dangerously ill, so that the vessel was obliged to be left to the care of the common sailors, and was several times in great danger of being lost. At last, after sixteen weeks passage, in the grey of the morning, they made Cape Charles, and then bore away to Cape Henry: at Hampton they took in a pilot. The vessel having several times run upon the sand, and was not got off again without great difficulty; the pilot soon after brought them to Kent Island, where they fired a gun, and Harrison, who was now recovered, went on shore, near Annapolis, and made a bargain with one Mr. Delany of that place, for Mr. Carew, as an expert gardener. He was then sent on shore, and Mr. Delany asked him if he understood gardening. Being willing to get out of Harrison's hands, he replied in the affirmative; but Mr. Delany asking him if he could mow, he replied in the negative. Then you are no gardener, replied Mr. Delany, and so refused to buy him. Then one Hilldrop, who had been transported about three years before from Exeter, for horse stealing, and had married a currier's widow in Annapolis, had a mind to purchase him, but they could not agree about the price, whereupon he was put on board again, and they sailed from Miles-river.

Here they fired a gun, and the captain went on shore; in the meantime the men prisoners were ordered to be close shaved, and the women to have clean caps on: this was scarcely done, before an overseer belonging to Mr. Bennet, in Way-river, and several planters, came up to buy. The prisoners were all ordered upon deck, and Mr. Carew among them: some of the planters knew him again, and cried out, "Is not this the man Captain Froade brought over, and put a pot-hook upon?" Yes, replies Mr. Harrison, the very same: at which they were much surprised, having an account he had been either killed by the wild beasts or drowned in some river. Ay, ay, replied Harrison with a great oath, I'll take care he shall not be at home before me. By this time several of the prisoners were sold, the bowl went merrily round, and many of the planters gave Mr. Carew a glass, but none of them chose to buy him.

During this, Mr. Carew, observing a great many canoes and small boats lying along-side the vessel, thought it not impossible to make himself master of one them, and by that means reach the shore, where he supposed he might conceal himself till he found an opportunity of getting off; though this was a very hazardous attempt, and, if unsuccessful, would expose him to a great deal of hard usage, and probably put it out of his power of ever regaining his liberty, yet he was resolved to venture. He now recollected the common maxim, that fortune favours the bold: and therefore took an opportunity, just as it grew dark, of slipping nimbly down the ship's side into one of the canoes, which he paddled with as much silence and expedition as possible towards the shore: but he had not gone far before the noise he made gave the alarm, that one of the prisoners had escaped. Harrison immediately called out to inquire which of them, and where Carew was; and, being told that he was gone off, swore that he would much rather have lost half of the prisoners than him.

All hands were then called upon to pursue; the captain and planters left their bowl; the river was soon covered with canoes, and everything was in confusion. Mr. Carew was within hearing of this, but, by plying his canoe well, had the good fortune to get on shore before any of them; he immediately took himself to the woods as soon as he landed, and climbed up into a great tree, where he had not been many minutes before he heard the captain, sailors, and planters, all in pursuit of him; the captain fretted and stormed, the sailors dd their blood, and the planters endeavoured to pacify everything, by telling the captain not to fear his getting off. He heard all this, though not unmoved, yet without taking notice of it: at last, finding their search fruitless, the captain, sailors, and planters returned; the planters still assuring the captain they would have him in the morning.

As soon as they were gone he began to reflect upon his present situation, which, indeed, was melancholy enough, for he had no provisions, was beset on every side, quite incapable of judging what to undertake, or what course to steer: however, he at last resolved to steer farther into the woods, which he accordingly did, and got up into another tree: here he sat all the succeeding day, without a morsel of food; but was diverted with a great multitude of squirrels he saw skipping from tree to tree; and had he had a gun, he could have shot hundreds of pigeons, there was so great a plenty of them. The next day, towards night, hunger became too powerful, and he was almost spent for want of food; in this necessity he knew not what to do; at last, happening to spy a planter's house at a distance, he was resolved to venture down in the night, thinking he might chance to find food of some sort or other, in or about the house: agreeable to this resolution, he came down the tree in the middle of the night, and, going into the planter's yard, to his great joy he found there a parcel of milk cows penned in, which he soon milked in the crown of his hat, making a most delicious feast, and then retired to the woods again, climbing up into a tree, where he passed the day much more easy than he had the preceding one.

Having found out this method of subsisting, he proceeded forwards in the same manner, concealing himself in a tree in the day-time, and travelling all the night, milking the cows as often as he had an opportunity; and steering his course as near as he could guess towards Duck's Creek.

On the fifth night he heard the voices of several people near him in the woods, upon which he stepped on one side, and concealed himself behind a tree, till they had passed by. When he came near enough to distinguish their words, he heard them say, we will make the best of our way to Duck's Creek, and there we shall certainly have him. He now judged that these were some men in pursuit of him, therefore thought himself very happy in having so narrowly escaped them.

On the eighth day, being upon a tree, he discovered a lone house, near the skirts of the woods, and saw all the family (as he supposed) going out to hoe tobacco, and the dog following them; this was a joyful sight to him, for he had not, the two preceding nights, met with any cows, and consequently had been without food. As soon, therefore, as the family were out of sight, he came down from the tree, and ventured in the house, where he found not only enough to satisfy his hunger, but what might be deemed luxury in his present condition: for there was a jolly cake, powell, a sort of Indian corn bread, and good omani, which is kidney-beans ground with Indian corn, sifted, then put into a pot to boil, and eat with molasses. Seeing so many dainties, he did not hesitate long, but, hunger pressing, sat down and ate the omani with as much composure as if he had been invited thereto by the owner of it: and knowing that hunger and necessity are bound by no laws of honour, he took the liberty of borrowing the jolly cake, powell, and a leg of fine pork, then hastened back to the tree with his booty. What the people thought when they returned at night with good appetites, and found their dainty omani, their jolly cake, and their pork, all vanished, we know not, but suppose they were not a little surprised.

Being thus stocked with provisions, he made the best of his way to Ogle-town that night, and so to Old-town. In the dawn of the morning of the eleventh day, he came in sight of Duck's Creek; but being afraid he might fall into the hands of his pursuers, he struck a great way into the woods towards Tuck Hoe; where staying all the day in a tree, he came again in the middle of the night to Duck's Creek. As soon as he came here, he ran to the water side to seek for a canoe, but found them all chained; he immediately set himself about breaking the chain, but found it too strong, and all endeavours to break it were in vain. Never was man more thunder-struck than he was now, just at the time when he expected to be out of danger, to meet with so unforeseen and insurmountable an obstacle. He knew there was no way of escaping, but by passing the river Delaware, and could not think of a method of effecting it. Several hours did he pass in this agitation of mind: sometimes he had a mind to try his strength in swimming, but the river being so wide, he thought he could not reach the opposite shore; at last, reflecting what one of his ancestors had done in swimming a horse over Teignmouth bar, and seeing some horses grazing thereabout, he resolved to attempt passing the Delaware in that manner; for, let the worst happen, he thought death preferable to slavery. Being thus resolved, he soon caught one of the horses, and, making a sort of bridle with his handkerchief, brought the horse to the water side; he walked for some time on the banks, looking for a proper place to enter the horse: at last, espying a little stream, which ran into the great river Deleware, he stripped himself, and, tying his frock and trowsers about his shoulders, mounted the horse, and putting him forward a little, the horse soon lost his footing, and the water came up to Mr. Carew's middle, who kept his legs as near as possible to the horse, and in this manner launched into the great river Delaware.

The horse snorted and neighed to his companions, but made for the opposite shore with all the strength he could. Mr. Carew did not imagine the horse would be able to reach it, but proposed to save himself by swimming when the horse failed, for the river was three miles over: however the horse reached the shore, but finding no place to land, it being a sandy mud, he was obliged to swim him along the shore, till he came to a little creek, which the horse swimming into, soon got sure footing, to the great joy of Mr. Carew, who, dismounting, kissed the horse, telling him he must now turn Quaker as well as himself, and so let him go into the woods.

His clothes were not very wet; however, he staid on the banks some time to dry them with the morning sun, then went up into the country. The first house he came to was a miller's, whose wife came out and asked him from whence he came? He told her he had been a prisoner sometime in the Havana, from whence he had been released by an exchange of prisoners, and was now going home.

The good woman pitied him much, and told him he looked very melancholy; but her husband coming in, said, he believed he was an Irishman. This he denied, averring he was of the West of England; so they gave him a piece of that country money, and a mug of rum, which he drinking greedily, being very thirsty, it threw him into such a violent fever, that he was obliged to stop at a neighbouring house, where he lay sick for three or four days. From hence he went to Newcastle, where he raised contributions from several gentlemen, as he had done before, but not under the former name, from hence to Castle, Brandywine Ferry, Chester, and Derby, where he got relief from the same miller that Mr. Whitfield was with when he was there before, and lodged at the same house, but took care to disguise himself so as not to be known: he there got a pass from the justice as a sick man bound to Boston. From hence he proceeded to Brunswick, where he got relief from Mr. Matthews, the miller, who treated him so hospitably the first time he was there, but did not know him again now.

From hence he proceeded to New London, where he chanced to see the captain who had taken him home before, but he avoided him. From New London he proceeded to Groten, where he got a twenty-shilling bill from one Mr. Goyf, and several half-crown bills from other people. He then inquired of his landlord his way to Rhode-island, who accompanied him about two miles of the way, when they chanced to fall into the company of some drovers, who were driving a number of bullocks, for the use of some privateers that lay at Rhode Island; he therefore joined them, and, after about nine or ten miles travelling, they came to a ferry, where they stopped at a public-house for some time, till the bullocks were taken over; but neither the tavern-man nor drovers would suffer him to pay anything, they pitying his unfortunate condition: and passing over this ferry, they came to Rhode Island.

Rhode Island, by the natives called Aquetnet, near the Narraganset Bay, is fourteen or fifteen miles long, and four or five miles abroad. It was first inhabited by the English in the year 1639. Those that withdrew to this island were such as espoused the covenant of grace, and were under great persecution from them that sided with the covenant of works. There is a very considerable trade from Rhode Island to the sugar colonies for butter and cheese, a sure sign of the fruitfulness and beauty of the place, for horses, sheep, beef, pork, tallow, and timber, from which the traders have been enriched. It is deservedly called the Paradise of New England, for the great fruitfulness of the soil, and the temperature of the climate, which, though it be not above fifty-five miles from Boston, is a coat warmer in winter, and, being surrounded by the ocean, is not so much affected in summer with the hot land-breezes as the towns on the continent. They live in great amity with their neighbours, and, though every man does what he thinks right in his own eyes, it is rare that any notorious crimes are committed by them, which may be attributed in some measure to their great veneration for the Holy Scriptures, which they all read, from the least to the greatest, though they have neither ministers nor magistrates to recommend it to them.

Here Mr. Carew found many of his old acquaintance, particularly one Mr. Perkins, a stay-maker, and Mr. Gidley and his mother, who kept several negroes for distilling rum, and Mr. Southeon Lingworthy, a pewterer, all natives of Exeter, and one Mr. Martin, of Honiton, in Devon, they were all very glad to see him; he telling them, that he was taken by the Spaniards, and had escaped from prison, they treated him with very great kindness, and gave him letters to carry to their friends in England.

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