Page images

I thought my stomach was full after this, as it would have been after, or at, a good dinner; but when I waked, I was exceedingly funk in my fpirits to find myself in the extremity of famine : the last glass of wine we had, I drank, and put sugar into it, because of its having some spirit to supply nou. rishment; but there being no substance in the stomach for the digesting office to work upon, I found the only effect of the wine was, to raise disagreeable fumes from the stomach into the head; and I lay, as they told me, stupid and senseless, as one drunk, for some time.

The third day in the morning, after a night of strange and confused inconsistent dreams, and rather dozing than sleeping, I awaked, ravenous and furious with hunger; and I question, had not my understanding returned, and conquered it; I say, I question whether, if I had been a mother, and had had a little child with me, its life would have been safe or no.

This lasted about three hours ; during which time I was twice raging mad, as any creature in Bedlam, as my young master told me, and as he can now in

form you.

In one of these fits of lunacy, or distraction, whether by the motion of the ship, or some slip of my foot, I know not; I fell down, and struck my face against the corner of a pallet-bed, in which my mistress lay ; and with the blow the blood gushed out of my nose; and the cabin-boy bringing me a little bason, I sat down and bled into it a great deal ; and as the blood ran from me, I came to myself; and the

O 2


[ocr errors]

violence of the flame, or the fever I was in, abated, and so did the ravenous part of the hunger.

Then I grew sick, and reached to vomit, but could not; for I had nothing in my stomach to bring up: after I had bled some time, I swooned, and they all believed I was dead ; but I came to myself soon after, and then had a most dreadful pain in my stomach, not to be described; not like the cholic, but a gnawing eager pain for food; and, towards night, it went off with a kind of earnest wishing or longing for food; something like, as I suppose, the longing of a woman with child. I took another draught of water, with sugar in it, but


stomach loathed the sugar, and brought it all up again. Then I took a draught of water, without sugar, and that stayed with me; and I laid me down upon the bed, praying most heartily, that it would please God to take me away; and composing my mind in hopes of it, I flumbered awhile; and then waking, thought myself dying, being light with vapours from an empty stomach : I recommended my soul to God, and carnestly wished that somebody would throw me into the sea.

All this while my mistress lay by me, just, as I thought, expiring ; but bore it with much more patience than I, and gave the last bit of bread the had to her child, my young master, who would not have taken it, but she obliged him to eat it; and, I believe, it saved his life.

Towards the morning, I slept again ; and first, when I awaked, I fell into a violent paffion of crying; and after that, had a second fit of violent hunger, so that I got up ravenous, and in a most dread.

ful condition : Had my mistress been dead, as much as I loved her, I am certain I should have eaten a piece of her flesh with as much relish, and as unconcerned, as ever I did the flesh of any creature appointed for food; and once or twice I was going to bite my own arm. At last, I saw the bason, in which was the blood I had bled at my nose the day before; I ran to it, and swallowed it with such haste, and such a greedy appetite, as if I had wondered nobody had taken it before, and afraid it should be taken from me now.

Though after it was down the thoughts of it filled me with horror, yet it checked the fit of hunger ; and I drank a draught of fair water, and was composed and refreshed for some hours after it. This was the fourth day; and thus I held it till towards night, when, within the compass of three hours, I had all these several circumstances over again, one after another ; viz. fick, sleepy, eagerly hungry, pain in the stomach, then ravenous again, then fick again, then lunatic, then crying, then ravenous again, and so every quarter of an hour; and my strength wasted exceedingly. At night I laid me down, having no comfort, but in the hope that I should die before morning.

All this night I had no sleep, but the hunger was now turned into a disease; and I had a terrible cho. lic and griping; wind, instead of food, having found its way into the bowels; and in this condition I lay till morning, when I was surprized a little with the cries and lamentations of my young master, who called out to me, that his mother was dead. I lifted


[ocr errors]

myself up a little, for I had not strength to rise, but found she was not dead, though she was able to give very little signs of life. I had then such convulsions in

my stomach, for want of some sustenance, that I cannot describe them; with such frequent throes and pangs of appetite, that nothing but the tortures of death can imitate ; and this condition I was in, when I heard the feamen above cry out, A fail! a fail! and halloo and jump about as if they were distracted.

I was not able to get off from the bed, and my mistress much less ; and my master was so fick, that I thought he had been expiring ; so we could not open the cabin door, or get any account what it was that occasioned such a combustion ; nor had wę any conversation with the ship's company for two days, they having told us they had not a mouthful of any thing to eat in the ship ; and they told us afterwards, they thought we had been dead.

It was this dreadful condition we were in when you were sent to save our lives ; and how


found us, Sir, you know as well as I, and better too.

This was her own relation, and is such a distinct account of starving to death, as, I confess, I never met with, and was exceeding entertaining to me : I am the rather apt to believe it to be a true account, because the youth gave me an account of a good part of it ; though I must own, not so distinct, and so feelingly as his maid; and the rather, because, it seems, his mother fed him at the price of her own life: but the poor maid, though her constitution being stronger than that of her mistress, who was in


[ocr errors]

years, and a weakly woman too, she might struggle harder with it; I say, the poor maid might be supposed to feel the extremity something sooner than her mistress, who might be allowed to keep the last bits something longer than she parted with any to relieve the maid. No question, as the case is here related, if our ship, or some other, had not so providentially met them, a few days more would have ended all their lives, unless they had prevented it by eating one another ; and even that, as their case stood, would have served them but a little while, they being 500 leagues from any land, or any poffibility of relief, other than in the miraculous manner it happened.—But this is by the way; I return to my disposition of things among the people.

And first, it is to be observed here, that for many reasons, I did not think fit to let them know any thing of the floop I had framed, and which I thought of setting up among them; for I found, at least at my first coming, such seeds of division among them, that I saw it plainly, had I set up the floop, and left it among them, they would, upon very light disgust, have separated, and gone away from one another ; or perhaps have turned pirates, and so made the island a den of thieves, instead of a plantation of sober and religious people, as I intended it to be ; nor did I leave the two pieces of brass cannon that I had on board, or the two quarter deck guns, that my nephew took extraordinary, for the same reason: I thought they had enough to qualify them for a defenfive war, against any that should invade them; but I was not to set them up for an offensive war, or to



« PreviousContinue »