Page images
PDF
EPUB

faction would it be to us to have them punished when they came home?

I cannot refrain taking notice here what reflections I now had upon the past variety of my particular cir. cumstances; how hard I thought it was, that I, who had spent forty years in a life of continued difficulties, and was, at last, come, as it were, at the port or haven which all men drive at, viz. to have rest and plenty, should be a volunteer in new sorrows, by my own unhappy choice; and that I, who had escaped so many dangers in my youth, should now come to be hanged in my old age, and in so remote a place, for a crime I was not in the least inclined to, much less guilty of; and in a place and circumstance, where innocence was not like to be any protection at all to

me.

After thefe thoughts, something of religion would come in; and I would be considering that this seemed to me to be a disposition of immediate Providence; and I ought to look upon it, and submit to it, as such : that although I was innocent as to men, I was far from being innocent as to my Maker; and I ought to look in, and examine what other crimes in my life were most obvious to me, and for which Providence might justly inflict this punishment as a retribution; and that I ought to submit to this, just as I would to a fhipwreck, if it had pleased God to have brought such a disaster upon me.

In its turn, natural courage would sometimes take its place; and then I would be talking myself up to vigorous resolution, that I would not be taken to be barbarously used by a parcel of merciless wretches in cold blood ; that it was much better to have fallen

into the hands of the savages, who were men-eaters, and who, I was sure, would feast upon me, when they had taken me, than by those, who would, perhaps, glut their rage upon me by inhuman tortures and barbarities: that, in the case of the favages, I always resolved to die fighting, to the last gasp; and why fhould I not do so now, seeing it was much more dreadful, to me at least, to think of falling into these men's hands, than ever it was to think of being eaten by men : for the favages, give them their due, would not eat a man till he was dead; and killed him first, as we do a bullock; but that these men had many arts beyond the cruelty' of death. Whenever these thoughts prevailed, I was sure to put myself into a kind of fever, with the agitations of a supposed fight; my blood would boil, and my eyes sparkle, as if I was engaged; and I always resolved that I would take no quarter at their hands; but even at last, if I could refist no longer, I would blow up the ship, and all that was in her, and leave them but little booty to boast of.

But by how much thegreater weighttheanxieties and perplexities of those things were to our thoughts while we were at sea, by so much the greater was our satisfaction, when we saw ourselves on fhore; and my partner told me, he dreamed, that he had a very heavy load upon his back, which he was to carry up an hill, and found that he was not able to stand long under it ; but the Portuguese pilot came, and took it off his back, and the hill disappeared, the ground before him shewing all smooth and plain: And truly it was fo ; we were all like men who had a load taken off their backs.

For

For my part, I had a weight taken off from my heart, that I was not able any longer to bear; and, as I said above, we resolved to go no more to sea in that ship. When we came on shore, the old pilot, who was now our friend, got us a lodging, and a warehouse for our goods, which, by the way, was much the fame: it was a little house or hut, with a large house joining to it, all built with canes, and palisadoed round with large canes, to keep out pilfering thieves, of which it seems there were not a few in the country, However, the magistrates allowed us all a little guard, and we had a soldier with a kind of halbert, or half pike, who stood sentinel at our door; to whom we allowed a pint of rice, and a little piece of money, about the value of three-pence per day: so that our goods were kept very safe.

The fair or mart, usually kept in this place, had been over some time; however, we found that there were three or four junks in the river, and two Japanpers, I mean, ships from Japan, with goods which they had bought in China, and were not gone away, having Japanese merchants on shore.

The first thing our old Portuguese pilot did for us, was, to bring us acquainted with three missionary Romish priests, who were in the town, and who had been there some time, converting the people to Christianity ; but we thought they made but poor work of it; and made them but forry Christians when they had done. However, that was not our business. One of these was a Frenchman, whom they called father Simon ; he was a jolly well-conditioned man, very free in his conversation, not seeming so serious and grave as the other two did, one of whom

was

was a Portugucse, and the other a Genoese; but father Simon was courteous, easy in his manner, and very agreeable company; the other two were more reserved, seemed rigid and austere, and applied seriously to the work they came about, viz. to talk with, and insinuate themselves among the inhabitants, whereever they had opportunity : we often eat and drank with those men : and though I must confess, the conversion, as they call it, of the Chinese to Christianity, is so far from the true conversion required to bring heathen people to the faith of Christ, that it seems to amount to little more than letting them know the name of Christ, say some prayers to the Virgin Mary, and her Son, in a tongue which they understand not, and to cross themselves, and the like; yet it must be confessed, that these religious, whom we call Miffionaries, have a firm belief that these people should be saved, and that they are the instrument of it; and, on this account, they undergo not only the fatigue of the voyage, and hazards of living in such places, but oftentimes death itself, with the most violent tortures, for the sake of this work : and it would be a great want of charity in us, whatever opinion we have of the work itself, and the manner of their doing it, if we should not have a good opinion of their zeal, who undertake it with so many hazards, and who have no prospect of the least temporal advantage to themselves.

But, to return to my story: This French priest, father Simon, was appointed, it seems, by order of the chief of the mission, to go up to Pekin, the royal seat of the Chinese emperor ; and waited only for another priest, who was ordered to come to him from

Macao,

[ocr errors]

Macao, to go along with him; and we scarce ever met together, but he was inviting me to go that journey with him, telling me, how he would shew me all the glorious things of that mighty empire; and among the relt, the greatest city in the world; a city, said he, that your London, and our Paris, put together, cannot be equal to This was the city of Pekin, which, I confess, is very great, and infinitely full of people ; but, as I looked on thofe things with different eyes from other men, fo I shall give my opinion of them in few words, when I come, in the course of my travels, to speak more particularly of them.

But first, I come to my friar or missionary : Dining with him one day, and being very merry together, I fhewed some little inclination to go with him and he pressed me and my partner very hard, and with a great many persuasions to consent. Why, father Simon, says my partner, why should you desire our company so much? You know we are heretics, and you do not love us, nor can keep us company with any pleasure. O! says he, you may, perhaps, be good catholics in time; my business here is to convert heathens; and who knows but I may convert you too ? Very well, father, said I, so

you

will preach to us all the way. I won't be troublesome to you, said he; our religion does not divest us of good manners; besides, said he, we are all here like countrymen; and so we are, compared to the place we are in ; and if you are hugonots, and I a catholic, we may be all Christians at last; at least, said he, we are all gentlemen, and we may converse !o, without being uneasy to one another. I liked that part of his discourse very well, and it began to put me in mind of my

priest

« PreviousContinue »