How the Author had like to have been received into the
Kings Service, and what means he used to avoid it.
He meditates and attempts an escape,
but is often prevented.
This frequent Appearance at the Court, and waiting there for my Tickets, brought me to be taken notice of by the Great men: insomuch that they wondered I had been all this while forgotten, and never been brought before the King, being so fit, as they would suppose me, for his use and service, saying, That from henceforward I should fare better than that Allowance amounted to, as soon as the King was made acquainted with me. Which words of theirs served instead of a Ticket, Whereupon fearing I mould suddainly be brought in to the King, which thing I most of all feared, and least desired, and hoping that out of sight might prove out of mind, I resolved to forsake the Court, and never more to ask for Tickets, especially seeing God had dealt so bountifully with me as to give me ability to live well enough without them. As when Israel had eaten of the Corn of the Land of Canaan, the Manna ceased; so when I was driven to forego my Allowance that had all this while sustained me in this wilderness, God otherways provided for me.
From this time forward to the time of my Flight out of the Land, which was five years. I neither had nor demanded any more Allowance, and glad I was that I could escape so. But I must have more trouble first. For some four or five days after my last coming from Court, there came a Soldier to me, sent from the Adigar, with an Order in writing under his hand, that upon sight thereof I should immediatly dispatch and come to the Court to make my personal appearance before the King and in case of any delay, the Officers of the Countrey, were thereby Authorized and Commanded to assist the Bearer, and to see the same Order speedily performed.
The chief occasion of this had been a Person, not long before my near Neighbour and Acquaintance, Oua Matteral by name, who knew my manner of Life, and had often been at my House; but now was taken in and employed at Court; and he out of friendship and good will to me was one of the chief Actors in this business, that he might bring me to Preferment at Court.
Upon the abovesaid summons there was no Remedy, but to Court I must go. Where I first applyed my self to my said old Neighbour, Oua Motteral, who was the occasion of sending for me. I signified to him that I was come in obedience to the Warrant, and I desired to know the reason why I was sent for? To which he answered, Here is good news for you; you are to appear in the Kings Presence, where you will find great Favour, and Honourable entertainment, far more than any of your Countrey men yet here found. Which the great man thought would be a strong Inducement to persuade me joyfully to accept of the Kings Employments. But this was the thing I always most dreaded, and endeavoured to shun, knowing that being taken into Court would be a means to cut of all hopes of Liberty from me, which was the thing I esteemed equal unto life it self.
Seeing my self brought unto this pass, wherein I had no earthly helper, I recommended my cause to God, desiring him in whose hands are the hearts of Kings and Princes to divert the business. And my cause being just and right I was resolved to persist in a denial. My case seemed to me to be like that of the four Lepers at the Gate of Samaria. No avoiding of Death for me: If out of Ambition and Honour, I should have embraced the Kings Service, besides the depriving my self of all hopes of Liberty, in the end I must be put to death, as happens to all that serve him; and to deny his service could be but Death. And it seemed to me to be the better Death of the two. For if I should be put to Death only because I refused his service, I should be pitied as one that dyed innocently; but if I should be executed in his Service, however innocent I was, I should be certainly reckon’d a Rebel and a Traytor, as they all are whom he commands to be cut off.
Upon these confederations having thus set my resolutions, as God enabled me, I returned him this answer: First, That the English Nation to whom I belonged had never done any violence or wrong to their King either in word or deed. Secondly, That the causes of my coming on their Land was not like to that of other Nations, who were either Enemies taken in War, or such as by reason of poverty or distress, were driven to sue for relief out of the Kings bountiful liberality, or such as fled for the fear of deserved punishment; Whereas, as they all well knew, I came not upon any of these causes, but upon account of Trade, and came ashore to receive the Kings Orders, which by notice we understood were come concerning us, and to render an account to the Dissauva of the Reasons and Occasions of our coming into the Kings Port. And that by the grief and sorrow I had undergone by being so long detained from my Native Countrey, (but, for which I thanked the Kings Majesty, without want of any thing) I scarcely enjoyed my self. For my heart was alwayes absent from my body. Hereunto adding my insufficiency and inability for such honourable Employment, being subject to many Infirmities and Diseases of Body. To this he replied, Cannot you read and write English? Servile Labour the King requireth not of you. I answered, When I came ashore I was but young, and that which then I knew, now I had forgot for want of practice, having had neither ink nor paper ever since I came ashore. I urged moreover, That it was contrary to the Custome and Practice of all Kings and Princes upon the Earth to keep and detain men that came into their Countreys upon such peaceable accounts as we did; much less to compel them to serve them beyond their power and ability.
At my first coming before him he looked very pleasingly, and spake with a smiling countenance to me: but now his smiles were turned into frowns, and his pleasing looks into bended brows, and in rough Language, he bad me be gone and tell my tale to the Adigar. Which immediatly I did; but he being busie did not much regard me, and I was glad of it, that I might absent the Court. But I durst not go out of the City. Sore afraid I was that evil would befall me and the best I could expect was to be put in Chains. All my refuge was Prayer to God, whose hand was not shortned that it could not save, and would make all things work together for good to them that trust in him. From him only did I expect help and deliverance in this time of need.
In this manner I lodged in an English mans house that dwelt in the City about ten days, maintaining my self at my own charge, waiting with a sorrowful heart, and daily expecting to hear my Doom. In the mean time my Countrey men and Acquaintance, some of them blamed me for refusing so fair a Profer; whereby I might not only have lived well my self, but also have been helpful unto my Poor Country-men and friends: others of them pittying me, expecting, as I did, nothing but a wrathful sentence from so cruel a Tyrant, if God did not prevent. And Richard Varnham, who was at this time a great man about the King, was not a little scared to see me run the hazard of what might ensue, rather than be Partaker with him in the felicities of the Court.
It being chargable thus to lye at the City, and hearing nothing more of my business, I took leave without asking, and went home to my House; which was but a Days distance, to get some Victuals to carry with me and to return again. But soon after I came home I was sent for again. So I took my load of Victuals with me, and arrived at the City, but went not to the Court, but to my former Lodging, where I staid as formerly, until I had spent all my Provisions: and by the good hand of my God upon me, I never heard any more of that matter. Neither came I any more into the Presence of the Great-men at Court, but dwelt in my own Plantation, upon what God provided for me by my Labour and Industry.
For now I returned to my former course of life, dressing my Victuals daily with mine own hands, fetching both Wood and Water upon mine own back. And this, for ought I could see to the contrary, I was like to continue for my life time. This I could do for the Present, but I began to consider how helpless I should be, if it should please God I should live till I grew old and feeble. So I entred upon a Consultation with myself for the providing against this. One way was the getting of me a Wife, but that I was resolved never to do. Then I began to enquire for some poor body to live with me, to dress my Victuals for me, that I might live at a little more ease, but could not find any to my mind. Whereupon I considered, that there was no better way, than to take one of my poor Country-mens Children, whom I might bring up to learn both my own Language and Religion. And this might be not only Charity to the Child, but a kindness to my self also afterwards. And several there were that would be glad so to be eased of their charge, having more than they could well maintain, a Child therefore I took, by whose aptness, ingenuity and company as I was much delighted at present, so afterwards I hoped to be served.
It was now about the year M DC LXXIII. Altho I had now lived many years in this Land, and God be praised, I wanted for nothing the Land afforded, yet could I not forget my native Countrey England, and lamented under the Famine of Gods Word and Sacraments, the want whereof I found greater than all earthly wants: and my dayly and fervent Prayers to God were, in his good time to restore me to the enjoyment of them.
I and my Companion were still meditating upon our escape and the means to compass it. Which our pedling about the Countrey did greatly forward and promote. For speaking well the Language and going with our Commodities from place to place, we used often to entertain discourse with the Countrey people; viz. concerning the ways and the Countreys, and where there were most and fewest inhabitants, and where and how the Watches laid from one Countrey to another; and what Commodities were proper to carry from one part to the other, pretending we would from time to time go from one place to another, to furnish our selves with ware that the respective places afforded. None doubted but we had made these inquiries for the sake of our Trade, but our selves had other designs in them. Neither was there the least suspition of us for these our questions: all supposing I would never run away and leave such an estate as in their accounts and esteem I had.
By diligent inquiry I had come to understand, that the easiest and most probable way to make an escape was by travailing to the Northward, that part of the Land being least inhabited. Therefore we furnished our selves with such wares as were vendible in those parts, as Tobacco, Pepper, Garlick, Combs, all sorts of Iron Ware, &c. and being laden with these things, we two set forth, bending our course towards the Northern Parts of the Island, knowing very little of the way; and the ways of this Countrey generally are intricate and difficult: here being no great High-ways that run thro the Land, but a multitude of little Paths, some from one Town to another, some into the Fields, and some into the Woods where they sow their Corn; and the whole Countrey covered with Woods, that a man cannot see any thing but just before him. And that which makes them most difficult of all, is, that the ways shift and alter, new ways often made and old ways stopped up. For they cut down Woods, and sow the ground, and having got one Crop off from it, they leave it, and Wood soon grows over it again: and in case a Road went thro those Woods, they stop it, and contrive another way; neither do they regard tho it goes two or three miles about: and to ask and inquire the way for us white men is very dangerous, it occasioning the People to suspect us. And the Chingulays themselves never Travail in Countreys where they are not experienced in the ways without a guide, it being so difficult. And there was no getting a guide to conduct us down to the Sea.
But we made a shift to travail from Cande Uda downwards towards the North from Town to Town; happening at a place at last which I knew before, having been brought up formerly from Cooswat that way, to descend the Hill called Bocaul, where there is no Watch, but in time of great disturbance. Thus by the Providence of God we passed all difficulties until we came into the County of Neurecalava, which are the lowest parts that belong to this King; and some three days journey from the place whence we came.
We were not a little glad that we were gotten so far onwards in our way, but yet at this time we could go no farther; for our ware was all sold, and we could pretend no more excuses; and also we had been out so long, that it might cause our Towns-men to come and look after us, it being the first time that we had been so long absent from home.
In this manner we went into these Northern Parts eight or ten times, and once got as far as Hourly a Town in the extremities of the Kings Dominions, but yet we could not attain our purpose. For this Northern Countrey being much subject to dry weather and having no springs, we were fain to drink of Ponds of Rain water, wherein the Cattel lie and tumble, which would be so thick and muddy, that the very filth would hang in our Beards when we drank. This did not agree with our Bodies, being used to drink pure Spring water only. By which means when we first used those parts we used often to be Sick of violent Favors and Agues, when we came home. Which Diseases happened not only to us, but to all other People that dwelt upon the Mountains, as we did, whensoever they went down into those places; and commonly the major part of those that fall sick, dyes. At which the Chingulays are so feared, that it is very seldom they do adventure their Bodies down thither: neither truly would I have done it, were it not for those future hopes, which God of his mercy did at length accomplish. For both of us smarted sufficiently by those severe Favors we got, when we should both lay Sick together and one not able to help the other. Insomuch that our Countrymen and Neighbours used to ask us, if we went thither purposing to destroy our selves, they little thinking, and we not daring to tell them our intent and design.
At length we learned an Antidote and Counter-Poyson against the filthy venomous water, which so operated by the blessing of God, that after the use thereof we had no more Sickness. It is only a dry leaf; they call it in Portugueze Banga, beaten to Powder with some of the Countrey Jaggory: and this we eat Morning and Evening upon an empty Stomach. It intoxicates the Brain, and makes one giddy, without any other operation either by Stool or Vomit
Thus every Voyage we gathered more experience, and got lower down, for this is a large and spacious Countrey. We travailed to and fro where the ways led us, according to their own Proverb, The Beggar and the Merchant is never out of his way; because the one begs and the other trades wherever they go. Thus we used to ramble until we had sold all our ware, and then went home for more. And by these means we grew acquainted both with the People and the Paths.
In these parts I met with my black Boy, whom I had divers years before turned away, who had now Wife and Children. He proved a great help to me in directing me in the ways; for he had lived many years in these parts. Perceiving him to be able, and also in a very poor and sad condition, not able to maintain his Family, I adventured once to ask him if a good reward would not be welcome to him, for guiding us two down to the Dutch. Which having done he might return again and no Body the wiser. At which Proposition he seemed to be very joyful, and promised to undertake the same: only at this time for reasons he alledged, which to me seemed probable, as that it was Harvest time and many People about it, it could not so safely and conveniently be done now, as it might be some two Months after.
The Business was concluded upon, and the time appointed between us. But it so fell out, that at the very precise time, all things being ready to depart on the morrow, it pleased God, whose time was not yet come, to strike me with a most grievous pain in the hollow on my right side, that for five days together I was not able to stir from the fire side, but by warming it, and fomenting and chafing it I got a a little ease.
Afterward as soon as I was recovered, and got strength, we went down and carried one Englishman more with us for company, for our better security, seeing we must travail in the Night upon our Flight: but tho we took him with us, we dared not to tell him of our design, because he had a Wife, intending not to acquaint him with it, till the Business was just ready to be put into action. But when he came expecting to meet with our guide, he was gone into another Countrey; and we knew not where to find him, and we knew not how to run away without him. Thus we were disapointed that time.
But as formerly, we went to and fro until we had sold our ware; and so returned home again and delivered the man to his wife; but never told him any thing of our intended design, fearing lest, if he knew it, he might acquaint her with it, and so all our purposes coming to be revealed might be overthrown for ever afterwards. For we were resolved by Gods help still to persevere in our design.
Some eight or nine years one after another we followed this Trade, going down into this Countrey on purpose to seek to get beyond the Inhabitants, and so to run away thro the Woods to the Hollanders. Three or Four years together the dry weather prevented us; when the Countrey was almost starved for want of Rain: all which time they never tilled the Ground. The Wells also were almost all dry; so that in the Towns we could scarcely get Water to drink, or Victuals to eat. Which affrighted us at those times from running into the Woods, lest we might perish for Thirst. All this while upon the Mountains, where our dwelling was, there was no want of Rain. We found it an inconvenience when we came three of us down together, reckoning it might give occasion to the people to suspect our design, and so prevent us from going thither again. Some of the English that followed such a Trade as we, had been down that way with their Commodities, but having felt the smart of that Countries Sickness, would go there no more, finding as much profit in nearer and easier Journeys. But we still persisted in our courses this way, having some greater matter to do here than to sell Wares, viz. to find out this Northern Discovery; which in Gods good time we did effect.