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The prospect of so speedy a return gave me no small pleasure. But the prospect of a winter passage was very shocking, especially as I had such a melancholy time in my last voyage, and in the present diffident state of my mind, I am not a little intimidated at the dangers of the seas. Received a reviving packet from my dear Mr. Rodgers, Captain Grant, Mr. Allen, &c., which informed me of a happy situation of affairs at home, excepting that the dissenters are still denied the licensure of more meeting-houses.
October 20.--My father and friend arrived in town about fifteen days ago; and his presence and conversation was very reviving to me. He has had very remarkable success and received above £500 in his tour. We are determined to embark for Philadelphia as soon as possible, with Captain Hargrave. We shall have but very poor accommodations; and I am afraid bad company. On settling our accounts, we are surprised to find our expenses run so high; as we have not been extravagant. Since I have been in London, I have moved in the same circle, and nothing new has occurred ; but that I find by conversation with Dr. Stennet, there is a prospect of obtaining licences in the Bishop of London's Court, for meeting-houses in Virginia. Since I have been in town I have preached for Mr. Gibbons, Mr. Hunt, at Dr. Marryatts meeting-house, Dr. Gifford, and to-day for Mr. Townsend at Newington, and for Dr. Guyse.
Sunday, October 27.-Preached for Mr. Hayward A. M., on Hebrews vi. 7, 8, with more solemnity and freedom than, alas! has been usual with me of late ; and I thought I perceived a general concern among my hearers, who were numerous by accessions from other congregations. I observe a set of hearers that generally attend me whenever I preach, particularly the young students in the Academy, . Preached P. M. for Mr. Crookshank on Isaiah lxvi. 1, 2. In the evening heard Mr. Bulkley at the Old Jewry, where the celebrated Dr. Foster was wont to hold his lecture. His discourse was finely composed, and delivered with a tolerable address; but alas ! how anti-evangelical!' Yesterday we waited on Messrs. John and Charles Westley. Notwithstanding all their wild notions they appear very benevolent, devout and zealous men, that are labouring with all their might to awaken the secure world to a sense of religion; and they are honoured with success. But I am afraid their encouraging so many illiterate men to preach the gospel, will have bad consequences. I heard one of them last Tuesday night, but he explained nothing at all. His sermon was a mere huddle of pathetic confusion, and I was uneasy, as it might bring a reproach upon experimental religion. The despised Methodists, with all their foibles, seem to me to have more of the spirit of religion than any set of people in this island. Mr. Locke's epitaph written by himself, Hic situs est Johannes Locke. Si qualis fueri trogas? Mediocritate sua contentum se vixisse respondet. Literis eousque tantum profécit, ut veritati unici literet : hoc ex scriptis illius disce, qua quod de eo reliquum est, majore fide tibi exhibibunt, quam epitaphii suspecta elogia. Virtutes, siquas habuit, minoris sane quam quas sibi laudi, tibi in exemplum proponeret ; vitia und sepeliantur. Morum examplar si quæras, in evangelio habes : vitiorum utinam nusquam : mortalitatis certi (quod prosit) hic et ubique.
Monday, November 18.-We came yesterday to Gravesend, in the Charming Anne, Capt. Baker; having taken leave of my friends, and left London last Friday. My father and friend, Mr. Tennent, sailed with Capt. Hargrave, for Philadelphia, last Wednesday. The impossibility of getting the Trustees together, and of my travelling home by land from Philadelphia, determined me, with Mr. Tennent's consent, to deny myself the pleasure of his company, and sail directly for Virginia, that I may the sooner see my earthly all at home. And now, when I am about to encounter the terrors of a winter passage over the tumultuous ocean, I would solemnly commend myself to the God of my life, and the Ruler of sea and land : and though I am but a very insignificant creature, yet as I am of no small importance to my helpless family, I wish and pray that if it please God, I may be favoured with a safe passage. Since October 27, I have preached for Mr. Hall, Mr. Winter, Dr. Stennet, Mr. Lawson, Dr. Gifford, &c. I cannot but observe that I found unexpected freedom and solemnity in preaching a neglected old sermon, that I thought not worthy of hearing, from Heb. xi. 1. I have met with so many solicitations, both in conversation and by letters, to publish some of my sermons, that I continue my purpose of finishing some of them for that purpose. Now, when I have parted with London forever, I cannot but think with affection upon the many friends I have left behind me, who are entitled to my warmest gratitude. I have preached in many of the pulpits of the three denominations; and from the warm approbation of a number, I cannot but hope, I have been of some service in that way; though, alas! nothing to what might be expected or wished. The petition from Virginia being returned, I waited with it on Dr. Avery, Mr. Mauduit, &c., and communicated it also to Dr. Stennet, and begged he would act in concert with the committee; which he cheerfully promised. And 276
PETITION-DAVIES ON SHIPBOARD.
indeed I expect more from his influence and zeal, than from the committee, that seem very slow and dilatory in their motions. As the majority of them are of the new scheme, they cannot look upon the dissenting interest in Virginia, as a religious interest, because founded on principles which they disapprove; and therefore they can only espouse it, as the cause of liberty : but a zeal for it in this view, is not so vigorous a principle as the other. The courtiers are so regardless of religion, abstracted from politics, that it will be difficult to carry such a point with them, especially as the whole weight of the government of Virginia will lie on the other side. However, I am in hopes, the alternative of taking out licenses in the bishop's court, or of presenting the petition, will succeed ; and I have begged the committee and Dr. Stennet to take one or the other method, as they think most expedient.
Friday, Nov. 22.-Came down the river as far as the North Forland, having been detained by contrary winds. We are near thirty-two souls on board ; but alas ! I am at a loss for an agreeable companion. Human nature appears among the sailors in a very mortifying light. They are so habituated to blasphemy, that oaths and imprecations flow spontaneous from them: and I am in pain and perplexity what measures I shall take for their reformation. Considering what sort of men cross the seas, it is a miracle of Divine patience, and an evidence this is not the state of retributions, that so many of them are safely conducted through the dangers of the ocean. Alas! I have my own share of sins, and it shocks me to think how unholy I still am.
Thursday, Nov. 29.-We came to the Downs last Sunday, and were detained there waiting for a fair wind, till this afternoon, when we set sail. Through the great goodness of God, I have not as yet felt any thing of sea sickness, as I expected: and I now hope I shall escape it. I spend my time, as well as I can, in reading, and transcribing my own sermons for the press. I have read the Bishop of London's Sermons on the Evidences of Christianity, Dr. Wright on Hardness of Heart, &c. I have peace of mind; but alas ! I feel great languor in devotion, and but little zeal to promote the advantage of those with whom I
Saturday, Nov. 30.-The wind being contrary, we were obliged to put into Plymouth, a very good harbour; where there are about twenty-six men of war, a garrison, and one or two old castles.
Sunday, Dec. 1.-I purposed to preach to the company, but the hurries of getting fresh water, and clearing out to sea again, upon the wind becoming fair, prevented
Alas! I live a very unprofitable life; and long to be restored to my sphere of usefulness among my own dear people.
Monday, Dec. 2. Having set sail yesterday in the afternoon, we got out into the Channel; but it soon grew calm, and we were tossed up and down all night with prodigious swells, which are more disagreeable when there is no wind. This morning the wind shifted and blew violently; and finding we could not get out to sea, we put back for Plymouth, and got there in the evening, after a day and night useless labour. I found the return of sea-sickness, which quite depressed my spirits, and threw my whole frame into disorder. We have now been about three weeks on board, but have made but little way. This delay is a severe trial of
my patience. When shall I see my home? Shall it ever be ?—Though our return to Plymouth last night was disagreeable at first, yet afterwards I could not but look upon it as a happy providence ; for the wind blew with such prodigious violence, that had we been in the Channel we should have been in no small danger.
Wednesday, Dec. 4.–Went to Plymouth in hopes to have got a contribution for the College, and waited on Mr. Baron and Mr. Moor, dissenting ministers there; but they told me the dissenting interest there was so low, that I could expect nothing
Sunday, Dec. 8.-The winds still continue against us, so that we cannot get out of the harbour of Plymouth. This delay is the more disagreeable, as the ship's company, to which I am confined, are å parcel of the most profligate, audacious sinners, that I have ever been among. My ears are grated with the most shocking imprecations and blasphemies, that one would think they could not proceed but from the mouths of infernal spirits. Alas! to what a pitch of wickedness may human nature arrive! This day I had an opportunity of speaking to them from Heb. xii. 14, and I endeavoured honestly to discharge my conscience; and found no small pleasure and tranquillity after I had unburdened my heart. What effect it may have, must be discovered by their future conduct. Alas! I languish and fret to be delayed so long from my dearest creature at home. How lively and agreeable her image rises in my mind. May God give me patience and fortitude under the disappointment.
Wednesday, Dec. 11.-We are still delayed in the harbour of Plymouth; but
we have still growing reason for thankfulness that we got safe in here; for the weather has been very uncertain and boisterous, and we have just heard that a ship was lost last Sunday night, on the rocks called the Monades, in the Channel, while trying to put into Falmouth, and all the company perished ; and had we been in the Channel, we would probably have shared the same fate. May I be fortified to meet all the events before me !
Saturday, Dec. 14.-We are still detained at Plymouth ; and last night both the ship and our lives were in the greatest danger. About six o'clock in the evening it blew a mere hurricane, which continued till about twelve o'clock. The wind blew so strong that one could hardly stand upon deck. It drove a large Dutch ship from her anchors, and she ran against a large rock on shore. She fired a gun as a signal of distress; and having got assistance, she got off. We found she was driving down against our vessel ; and being much larger, she would probably have sunk her, or broke her to pieces. As we were trying to get out of the way, our anchors got loose, and we drove at the mercy of the wind and waves.
The Dutch vessel struck against us once or twice; and afterwards we run upon a large Antigua ship; and were obliged to lie by her side for some time. Another ship was very near us on the other side ; and we were in danger of being dashed to pieces between them. At last, with great difficulty, we anchored in a place where we lay safe till morning ; but had not the wind abated, we should, in all probability, have dashed against some of the ships, or the rocks, which might have been fatal to us. This morning we endeavoured to get in a safer place, but we ran aground, and were obliged to stick till high water; and we could not anchor well till the evening, though the men had been hard at work all day, and most of last night; and after all, a large ship came this evening within a yard of us. I endeavoured to commend myself into the hands of God, in the extremity of danger; but when death, especially in such circumstances, appeared near, it filled me with solemn horror. And when I afterwards reflected upon my diffidence, it depressed my spirits not a little, to find that I am not fortified against all the events of this mortal
Alas! it would not be thus with me had I lived nearer to God, and under more realizing impressions of the eternal world. O! that I may take the warning; and may my present impressions be lasting and efficacious, and not prove a transient fit of extorted devotion ! I am sorry to find that my discourse last Sunday to the ship's company had no effect upon sundry of them. When they vent their passions, or are in a hurry, or alarmed with danger, they cannot speak without oaths and curses; which is so shocking that I can hardly venture upon deck, lest I should hear them. Alas! how depraved, how diabolically wicked is human
Friday, December 20.—We have been on board five weeks, (a longer time than our whole voyage from Philadelphia) and this morning, the wind blowing from the east, we set sail. I find myself already much disordered with sea-sickness; and I am like to have a melancholy passage.
Saturday, December 28.-For this week past, we have had the usual vicissitudes of sailors, sometimes foul and sometimes fair. We had one night of very boisterous weather, and we could not enjoy a moment's rest in any posture. Last Sunday I hoped to have spoken once more to the ship's company; but I was so disordered with sea sickness that I was not able. Alas! I lead a most useless life. When I am able, I read in Bishop Burnet's History of his own Life and Times; in which is a more full account of the strange intrigues of courts than can be met with in most of histories. He is always fond of searching into the springs and causes of actions; and no doubt he discovers the true ones; but sometimes this temper betrays him into censorious conjectures about the hearts of others, of which he was no judge. The spirit of moderation and piety that breathes through his writings is quite charming. The reign of King Charles II. appears a scene of luxury and debauchery, changes in the ministry, imaginary plots, and prostitution to the French interest. The short reign of King Henry II. was a continued struggle of Popery and arbitrary power against liberty and the Protestant religion. But the steps taken were so hasty and precipitant, that nothing but an enthusiastic bigotry could have directed to them or expected success from them. The reign of William and Mary would have been one illustrious day, had it not been so unhappily clouded with factions between the whigs and tories; and the latter lay as a dead weight upon all the generous projects of that hero for the public good. Queen Anne's reign was nothing but a contest for victory between the whigs and tories; and in the last four years of her reign the latter unhappily got the superiority, and concluded the disadvantageous peace at Utrecht, when the French lay so much at mercy, that honourable terms might have easily been obtained.
Thursday, January 9, 1755.-For above a fortnight, we have had but very little fair wind; some days have been very squally, and others quite calm, with very high swells; which is extremely disagreeable. Two days ago we had no wind, and the seas run very high; and the ship got between two large swells, and not obeying her helm, went almost round, and we were in the greatest danger of sinking. The captain, as pale as death, cried out to get the boats loose, that in them we might commit ourselves to the ocean, and endeavour to get to a ship in sight; but it pleased God that the vessel righted, and we were safe beyond all expectation. May this providential deliverance have proper impressions upon me! The two last Sundays I have entertained the ship’s company with two discourses, one on the love of God, and the other on striving to enter in at the straight gate. I continue much disordered, and so languid and inactive that I am good for nothing. When I am able, I spend my time in reading the Universal History, volumes five and six, but I am not a little mortified to find my memory so slippery.
Sunday, January 12.-Was so much out of order, that I was not able to entertain the company with a sermon; and alas, my spirits were so low, and the prospect of success so discouraging, that I had no heart to attempt it.
Saturday, January 18.-This last week has been the most painful and melancholy that I have seen for many years. I have had the tooth-ache in the most violent degree; so that I had no rest night nor day; indeed it was sometimes so violent that it made me almost quite delirious. I have had little or no sleep in bed for these five or six nights; but to-day I have a little ease; and oh! how sweet is it, after so much pain.
Sunday, January 26.-We have had some days of the most calm weather that I have seen at sea ; but last Friday night, a violent storm blew up from the N. W.; which lasted about thirty hours. It is impossible for the most lively imagination, without the help of sight, to form an idea of the aspect of the ocean at such a time; and it is most astonishing the little vessel we float in, is not dashed to pieces by the furious conflicts of the waves, which toss her about like a cork, and give her such shocks that she trembles in every joint. It is a very good subject for a poem ; but, alas ! all my poetical powers are dormant.
Inconstant, boisterous element; the type
From the huge, watery precipice we plunge
I have reason to observe, with pleasure, that my mind, for some days, has been more engaged than usual in calm, and I hope, complacential surveys of divine things, especially of the method of salvation through Christ. I am fully convinced that is the only religion for sinners; and as such I would cordially embrace it. Were it not for this, what insupportable terrors would danger and death wear!
Friday, January 31.-The weather has been very uncertain, and the winds contrary. The greatest part of this day has been a dead calm; but such a violent sea has run as I have never seen; and as the ship had no wind to direct her course, she was tossed about in the most terrible manner, and it seemed next to a miracle to me, that she was not dashed to pieces or overset. It is six weeks to day since we sailed from Plymouth; and no less than eleven weeks since I came on board. What with sea sickness, what with the wickedness of the company, and the anxieties of absence from my other self, it has been a melancholy time to me. Now when I am out of business, my heart is always at home; and so long a delay by contrary winds has been no small trial to my patience. What tender images of domestic happiness rise before me, whenever I recollect the favourite idea of my Chara! I have now seen a good deal of the world ; and I am more and more convinced that she is the person fitted to make me happy. I have had death frequently before me in this passage; and it is still uncertain whether ever I shall see my home, though we suppose we are now near soundings. With this solemn prospect I have been frequently shocked ; though at times I seemed supported with more of the calmness and fortitude of a Christian, than a person so unholy could expect. I am quite discouraged in my attempt to reform the ship's company, particularly the C who has many amiable qualities blended with his vices. I have spoken to him repeatedly in the most solemn manner I could; but after all, they forget themselves so far that they swear and imprecate in my hearing. Alas! the more I know of human nature, the more I am convinced of its utter depravity.
Sunday, February 2.-It is a remarkable mercy that I am now alive, and capable to take memorials of any thing that happens in the regions of mortality. About six o'clock the night before last, a violent storm blew up from the north-east, which continued near thirty-six hours; and I never was more apprehensive of danger. The waves beat with such violence against the ship that one could hardly expect but she would have been dashed to pieces or overset; and the captain and the most veteran sailors were full of alarming apprehensions. Alas! how helpless are we on this boisterous element-all our dependence upon one feeble bottom: and no other way of safety or deliverance. I think there is no phenomenon in nature so terrible, as a storm at sea; especially in the night. It requires no small fortitude, to stand upon the deck and take a view of it.
What horrors crowd around ! Destruction frowns