Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

for life : while many of their fellow-creatures are obliged to wander without a friend to comfort or assist them, and even without shelter from the severity of the season.

I have been led into these reflections from accidentally meeting, some days ago, a poor fellow, whom I knew when a boy, dressed in a sailor's jacket, and begging at one of the outlets of the town, with a wooden leg. I knew him to have been honest and industrious when in the country, and was curious to learn what had reduced him to his present situation. Wherefore, after having given him what I thought proper, I desired to know the history of his life and misfortunes,and the manner in which he was reduced to his present distress. The disabled soldier, for such he was, though dressed in a sailor's habit , scratching his head, and leaning on his crutch , put himself into an attitude to comply with my request, and gave me his history as follows:

« As for my misfortunes , master, I can't pretend to bave gone through any more than other folks , for except the loss of my limb, and my being obliged to beg, I don't know any reason, thank Heaven, that I have to complain ; there is Bill Tibbs of our regia

ment, he has lost both his legs, and an eye to boot; but thank Heaven, it is not so bad with me yet.

« I was born in Shropshire; my father was a labourer , and died when I was five years old ; so I was put upon the parish. As he had been a wandering sort of a man , the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged , or where I was born , so they sent me to another parish , and that parish sent me to a third. I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they would not let me be born in any parish at all; but at last, however, they fixed me. I had some disposition to be a scholar , and was resolved, at least, to know my letters; but the master of the work-house put me to business as soon I was able to handle a mallet; and here I lived an easy kind of life for five years. I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labour. It is true , I was not suffered to stir out of the house , for sear, as they said, I should run away; but what of that , I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door; and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and laie : but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myself; so I was resolved to go seek my fortune.

« In this manner I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none: when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of peace , I spy'd a hare crossing the path just before me; and I believe the devil put it in my head to sling my stick at it :- well, what will you have on't ? I killed the hare , and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me: he called me a poacher and a villain, and collaring me , desired I would give an account of myself. I fell upon my knees, begged his worship’s pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my breed, seed, and generation ; but, though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account, so I was indicted at sessions , found guilty of being poor, and sent up to London to Newgate , in order to be trans ported as a vagabond.

« People may say this and that of being in jail; but for my part , I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in in all my

life. I had my belly full to eat and drink, and did no work at all. This kind of life was too good to last for ever; so I was taken out of prison , alter five months , put on board a ship, and sent off with two hundred more to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage , for being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air; and those that remained were sickly enough, God knows. When we came a-shore , we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar, for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time , as in duty bound to do.

« When my time was expired, I worked my passage home , and glad I was to see Old England again, because I loved my country. I was afraid , however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more, 60 I did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs when I could get them.

« I was very happy in this manne r for some time, till one evening coming home from work , two men knocked me down and then desired me to stand. They belonged' to a press-gang. I was carried before the justice , and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man of war, or list for a soldier. I chose the latter ; and in this post of a gentleman , I served two campaigns in Flanders , was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy, and received but one wound through the breast here; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.

« When the peace came on, I was 'discharged ; and, as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome , I' listed for a landman in the East-India company's service. I have fought the French in three pitched battles; and I verily believe, that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. Bul it was not my good fortune to have any promotion, for I soon fell sick , and so got leave to return home again with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the present war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spending my money ; but the government wanted men, and so I was pressed for a sailor, before ever I could set foot on shore. » The boatswain found me , as he said,

X

« ZurückWeiter »