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Our caravan rested three nights at the town, which was about four miles off, in order to provide some horses, which they wanted, several of the horses having been lamed and jaded with the badness of the way, and our long march over the last desart; so we had some leisure here to put my design in execution. I communicated my project to the Scots merchant, of Moscow, of whose courage I had a sufficient testimony, as above. I told him what I had seen, and with what indignation I had since thought, that human nature could be so degenerate. I told him, I was resolved, if I could get but four or five men well armed to go with me, to go and destroy that vile, abominable idol; to let them fee, that it had no power to help itself, and consequently could not be an object of worship, or to be prayed to, much less help them that offered facrifices to it.
He laughed at me : said he, Your zeal may be good; but what do you propose to yourself by it? Propose! said I; to vindicate the honour of God, which is insulted by this devil-worship. But how will it vindicate the honour of God? said he, while the people will not be able to know what you mean by it, unless you could speak to them too, and tell them so ; and then they will fight you too, I will assure
you; for they are desperate fellows, and that especially in defence of their idolatry. Can we not,
, said I, do it in the night, and then leave them the reasons in writing, in their own language ? Writing ! said he, why there is not in five nations of them, one man that knows any thing of a letter, or how to read a word in any language, or in their own.
Wretched ignorance! said I to him ; however, I have a great mind to do it; perhaps nature may draw inferences from it to them, to let them see how brutish they are to worship such horrid things. Look you, Sir, faid he, if your zeal prompts you to it fo warmly, you must do it; but, in the next place, I would have you consider these wild nations of people are subjected by force to the czar of Muscovy's dominions; and if you do this, it is ten to one but they will come by thousands to the
governor of Nertzinskay, and complain, and demand satisfaction; and if he cannot give them fatisfaction, it is ten to one but they revolt; and it will occasion a new war with all the Tartars in the country.
This, I confess, put new thoughts into my head for a while; but I harped upon the same string still; and all that day I was uneasy to put my project in execution. Towards the evening, the Scots merchant met me by accident in our walk about the town, and desired to speak with me: I believe, said he, I have put you off your good design; I have been a little concerned about it since; for I abhor the idol and idolatry as much as you can do. Truly, said I, you have put it off a little as to the execution of it, but you have not put it all out of my thoughts ; and, I believe, I shall do it still before I quit this place, though I were to be delivered up to them for fatisfaction. No, no, said he; GOD forbid they should deliver you up to such a crew of monsters ! they shall not do that neither ; that would be murdering you indeed. Why, said I, how would they use me? Use you! said he ; I'll tell you how they served a poor Rusian, who affronted them in their
worship just as you did, and whom they took prifoner, after they had lamed him with an arrow, that he could not run away; they took him and stripped him stark naked, and set him upon the top of the idol monster, and stood all round him, and shot as many arrows into him as would stick over his whole body; and then they burnt him and all the arrows sticking in him, as a sacrifice to the idol. And was this the same idol ? said I. Yes, said he, the very fame. Well, said I, I will tell you a story : So I related the story of our men at Madagascar, and how they burnt and facked the village there, and killed man, woman, and child, for their murdering one of our men, just as it is related before ; and when I had done, I added, that I thought we ought to do fo to this village.
He listened very attentively to the story; but when I talked of doing so to that village, said he, you miltake very much ; it was not this village, it was al*most an hundred miles from this place; but it was the same idol, for they carry him about in procession all over the country. Well, said I, then that idol ought to be punished for it; and it shall, faid I, if I live this night out.
In a word, finding me refolute, he liked the defign, and told me, I should not go alone, but he would go with me; but he would go first, and bring a stout fellow, one of his countrymen, to go also with us; and one, said he, as famous for his zeal as you can desire any one to be against such devilish things as these. In a word, he brought me his comrade, a Scotsman, whom he called Captain Richardfon; and I gave him a full account of what I had Y 4
seen, and also of what I intended ; and he told me readily, he would go with me, if it cost him his life. So we agreed to go, only we three. I had, indeed, proposed it to my partner; but he declined it. He said, he was ready to assist me to the utmost, and upon all occasions, for my defence; but that this was an adventure quite out of his way : fo, I fay, we resolved upon our work, only we three, and my man-servant, and to put it in execution that night about midnight, with all the secrecy imaginable.
However, upon second thoughts, we were willing to delay it till the next night, because the caravan being to set forward in the morning, we supposed the governor could not pretend to give them any fatisfaction upon us when we were out of his power.. The Scots merchant, as steady in his resolution to enterprize it as bold in executing, brought me a Tartar's robe or gown of sheep-skins, and a bonnet, with a bow and arrows, and had provided the same for himself and his countryman, that the people, if they saw us, should not be able to determine who we
All the first night we spent in mixing up some combustible matter with aqua-vitæ, gunpowder, and such other materials as we could get; and, having a good quantity of tar in a little pot, about an hour after night we set out upon our expedition.
We came to the place about eleven o'clock at night, and found that the people had not the least jealousy of danger attending their idol ; the night was cloudy; yet the moon gave us light enough to see that the idol stood just in the fame posture and place that it did before. The people seemed to be
all at their rest; only, that in the great hut, or tent as we called it, where we saw the three priests, whom we mistook for butchers, we saw a light, and, going up close to the door, we heard people talking, as if there were five or fix of them; we concluded therefore, that if we set wild-fire to the idol, these men would come out immediately, and run up to the place to rescue it from the destruction that we intended for it; and what to do with them we knew not. Once we thought of carrying it away, and setting fire to it at a distance; but when we came to handle it, we found it too bulky for our carriage; so we were at a loss again. The second Scotsman was for setting fire to the tent or hut, and knocking the creatures that were there on the head, when they came out; but I could not join with that; I was against killing them, if it was possible to be avoided. Well then, said the Scots merchant, I will tell you what we will do; we will try to make them prisoners, tie their hands, and make them stand and see their idol destroyed.
As it happened, we had twine or packthread enough about us, which we used to tie our fireworks together with; so we resolved to attack these people first, and with as little noise as we could. The first thing we did, we knocked at the door, when one of the priests coming to it, we immediately seized upon him, stopped his mouth, and tied his hands behind him and led him to the idol, where we gagged him that he might not make a noise; tied his feet also together, and left him on the ground.
Two of us then waited at the door, expecting that another would come out to see what the matter