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and bad weather happened, on this first setting out, which made the voyage longer than I expected it at first; and I, who had never made but one voyage, (viz.) my first voyage to Guinea, in which I might be said to come back again as the voyage was at first designed, began to think the same ill fate still attended me; and that I was born to be never contented with being on shore, and yet to be always unfortunate at fea.
Contrary winds first put us to the northward, and we were obliged to put in at Galway in Ireland, where we lay wind-bound two and thirty days; but we had this satisfaction with the disaster, that provisions were here exceeding cheap, and in the utmost plenty; so that while we lay here we never touched the ship's stores, but rather added to them; here also I took several hogs, and two cows, with their calves, which I resolved, if I had a good passage, to put on shore in my island; but we found occasion to dispose otherwise of them.
We set out the 5th of February from Ireland, and had a very fair gale of wind for some days; as I remember, it might be about the 20th of February in the evening late, when the mate having the watch, came into the round-house, and told us he saw a flash of fire, and heard a gun fired; and while he was telling us of it, a boy came in, and told us the boatswain heard another. This made us all run out upon the quarter-deck, where for a while we heard nothing, but in a few minutes we saw a very great light, and found that there was some veryterriblefireat a distance; immediately we had recourse to our reckonings, in which we all agreed that there could be no land
that way, in which the fire shewed itself, no not for 500 leagues, for it appeard at W. N. W. upon this we concluded it must be some ship on fire at fea; and as by our hearing the noise of guns just before, we concluded it could not be far off, we stood directly towards it, and. were presently satisfied we should discover it, because the farther we failed the greater the light appeared, tho' the weather being hazy we could not perceive any thing but the light for a while; in about half an hour's sailing, the wind being fair for us, though not much of it, and the weather clearing up a little, we could plainly discern that it was a great ship on fire in the middle of the sea.
I was most sensibly touched with this disaster, though not at all acquainted with the persons engaged in it; I presently recollected my former circumstances, in what condition I was in when taken up by the Portugal Captain ; and how much more deplorable - the circumstances of the poor creatures belonging to this ship must be if they had no other ship in company with them: upon this I immediately ordered, that five guns should be fired, one soon after another, that, if possible, we might give notice to them that there was help for them at hand, and that they might endeavour to save themselves in their boat; for though we could see the flame in the ship, yet they, it being night, could see nothing of us.
We lay by some time upon this, only driving as the burning ship drove, waiting for day light; when on a sudden, to our great terror, though we had reason to expect it, the ship blew up in the air, and immediately sunk: this was terrible, and indeed an afflicting fight, for the sake of the poor men, who, I
concluded must be either all destroyed in the ship, or be in the utmost diftress in their boats in the middle of the ocean, which, at present, by reason it was dark, I could not see: however to direct them as well as I could, I caused lights to be hung out in all the parts of the ship where we could, and which we had lanthorns for, and kept firing guns all the night long; letting them know by this, that there was a ship not far off.
About eight o'clock in the morning, we discovered the ship's boats, by the help of our peripective-glasses; and found there were two of them, both thronged with people, and deep in the water : we perceived they rowed, the wind being against them; that they saw our ship, and did the utmost to make us see them.
We immediately spread our ancient, to let them know we saw them; and hung a waft out, as a fignal for them to come on board; and then made more fail, standing directly to them. In a little more than half an hour, we came up with them, and, in a word, took them all in, being no less than sixtyfour men, women, and children; for there were a great many passengers.
Upon the whole, we found it was a French merchant-ship of 300 tons, homeward-bound from Quebeck, in the river of Canada. The master gave. us a long account of the distress of his ship, how the fire began in the steerage by the negligence of the steersman ; but, on his crying out for help, was, as every body thought, entirely put out: but they soon found that some sparks of the first fire had gotten into some part of the ship, fo difficult to conte at, Vol. II. с
that they could not effectually quench it; and afterwards getting in between the timbers, and within the cieling of the ship, it proceeded into the hold, and mastered all the skill and all the application they were able to exert.
They had no more to do then but to get into their boats, which, to their great confort, were pretty large; being their long boat, and a great shallop, besides a small ikiff, which was of no great service to them, other than to get some fresh water and provisions into her, after they had secured themselves from the fire. They had indeed small hope of their lives by getting into these boats at that distance from any land; only, as they said well, that they were escaped from the fire, and had a possibility, that some ship might happen to be at sea, and might take them in. They had fails, oars, and a compass; and were preparing to make the best of their way to Newfoundland, the wind blowing pretty fair ; for it blew an easy gale at S. E. by E. They had as much provisions and water, as, with sparing it so as to be next door to starving, might support them about 12 days; in which, if they had no bad weather, and no contrary winds, the captain said, he hoped he might get to the banks of Newfoundland, and might perhaps take some fish to sustain them till they might go on shore. But there were so many chances against them in all these cases; such as storms to overset and founder them; rains and cold to benumb and perish their limbs; contrary winds to keep them out and starve them; that it must have been next to miraculous if they had escaped.
In the midst of their consultations, every one being hopeless, and ready to despair, the captain with tears
in his eyes told me, they were on a sudden surprised with the joy of hearing a gun fire, and after that four more; these were the five guns which I caused to be fired at first seeing the light: this revived their hearts, and gave them the notice, which, as above, I designed it should, viz. that there was a ship at hand for their help.
It was upon the hearing these guns, that they took down their masts and fails; and the found coming from the windward, they resolved to lie by till morning. Some time after this, hearing no more guns, they fired three musquets, one a considerable while after another ; but these, the wind being contrary, we never heard.
Some time after that again, they were still more agreeably surprised with seeing our lights, and hearing the guns, which, as I have said, I caused to be fired all the rest of the night; this set them to work with their oars to keep their boats a-head, at least that we might the sooner come up with them; and at last, to their inexpressible joy, they found we saw them
It is impossible for me to express the several gestures, the strange ecstasies, the variety of postures, which these poor delivered people run into, to express the joy of their souls at so unexpected a deliverance; grief and fear are easily described; fighs, tears, groans, and a very few inotions of head and hands, , make up the sum of its variety: but an excess of joy, a surprise of joy, has a thousand extravagancies in it; there were some in tears, some raging and tearing themselves, as if they had been in the greatest agonies of sorrow; some stark raving and down-right luna