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It hath long been on my mind to tell you the dealings of God with my soul, which I beg you to peruse. I was born of poor, but hard working parents in the town of Tewksbury, in Gloucestershire; my father died when I was very young, and my mother strove hard for a living for us. When I was about seven or eight years old I was put to what we call in the country a Free School, to read and write, and was there till I was about thirteen; we used to be kept close to church, and at particular times, after the service was over, we used to stand up on forms, or stools to be asked our catechism by the parson. I only relate this to make room for a dream I had at this time: as Elihu says to Job, “For God speaketh once, yea twice, but man perceiveth it not; in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men in slumbering upon the bed.” I dreamt all us schoolboys were standing in a row as aforetime, and God Almighty came and took one from here, and another from there, and I trembled very much with fear lest he should not take me; but at last he came, took me by the hand, and put me amongst
the rest of his choice. I have thought on that dream in a state of nature many times, though I had no knowledge of God's choice, or his electing love. But to proceed. When I was about thirteen years of age I was put apprentice to a wheelwright; but being of a roving mind, and not used very well, I ran away, and came up to London; where I worked at several employments, such as sawing, gardening, footman, brewer's servant, and at last went to sea; and, as God the Spirit shall bring it to my remembrance, I will tell a little of my sea voyage, for now begin my troubles.
At the beginning of the American war I entered on board the Carysfort frigate, in his Majesty's service, commanded by Captain Fanshaw; we sailed from Chatham to Quebec, where, having staid some time, we sailed for New York, and, arriving there at the time our fleet were about to besiege the town, the admiral sent our ship, with two more, to pass the town up the river to land troops; in passing, we had to receive the constant fire of five or six forts, during which I was under great fear in my mind, not having seen any thing of the kind before, though I harboured such a thought as this, that if I was killed in battle I should go to heaven; but vain was that thought: but here the Lord saved me from the stroke, while others fell. Our captain being a very severe man, having flogged six men for a trifling fault, I thought I would run away the very first opportunity, and accordingly did, with two others, a few months
after the town of New York was taken; but with great difficulty we reached the town, being stopt several times to give an account of ourselves, being upwards of thirty miles up the country when we set off; however we arrived safe, and went on board merchant vessels. The ship I went on board of was bound for London; there I altered my name to Hodges, that being my mother's maiden name, for fear of being discovered, as the men of war searched all the merchant ships that went out for deserters. I got safe from hence, and was bound for London; but in a heavy gale of wind, we sprung a leak, and were obliged to make the best of our way to the West Indies, toiling night and day at the pumps to keep the ship above water; we at last reached St. John's, in Antigua. Now begin my troubles. Our captain would not fulfil his promise of paying us our wages; in consequence I, among some others, left him; but it being a very dead time of the year, the shipping were not come out, so that we were obliged to enter on board a man of war again; but I went, with great reluctance, some time after the others; nor would I have gone then, could I have got any thing else to do. At last, through necessity, I went on board the Portland, Admiral Young; we sailed on a cruise, and put into Prince Rupert's bay, in the island of Dominica, to get wood and water for the cruise. I and two more agreed to run away the day before the ship sailed and contrived to get our things on sucre, ready to start. On
the day appointed we ascended each one a tree till night. John Moor and Tom Jones, my two companions, had been to the town of Rossean, on this island, which was the resort of the merchant vessels; and, as we were bound for that place, we had about forty miles to travel by land.
By this time I began to be very much hardened in sin, and the Lord knows, was he to leave us to ourselves, we should soon run to destruction.
To proceed. We had got a river to cross, and on the bridge over which we must pass, as we could go no oth?r way, there had been a sentinel set from the ship to intercept deserters; yet, as night came on, we descended from the trees, and drew towards the bridge, with each of us a stout stick in our hands, having agreed to stand true to each other, and to rush upon the sentinel and knock him down, saying he could only kill one of us suppose he fired; but as the Lord would have it, he was not there, and we got over unmolested. We travelled till the next morning, when, descrying a few little houses in a valley, we went to them to get some refreshment, which we did, and paid for it, though we could not understand the people, who were French. We agreed to stop till the heat of the day was over, which we did; and about four o'clock, beginning to set forward on our journey again, five or six of them came out from other houses and stopt us, and made us understand they suspected we were deserters from a man of war, and they would take us up, well knowing they would
get forty shillings for each of us; but we set to with our bludgeons, and cleared them off for some time; however they alarmed the place, and we were each of us surrounded in a ring. How the other two fared I know not, but as they told me afterwards. By this time there was a great number of blacks come down to assist them, and beginning to throw stones; at length one struck me on the forehead and knocked me down; they then ran upon me, tied my hands behind me, and beat me cruelly, like men threshing corn. I can just remember when they had left me, I suppose, to serve my companions in the like manner, that a woman came to me with astone, seemingly as much as she could lift, and threw it on me, so that I remember no more at that time. When I began to revive a little (I suppose it to be about one or two o'clock in the morning) I heard somebody groaning, and found myself tied with cords; I began to think what was the matter; my companions finding me move, asked me if I was alive? I told them yes, but could not stand: and it was so dark we could not see each other; but they had carried us down on the beach by the sea-side, for the surf to wash us away, supposing we were dead: my companions told me they had been tied also, but a little child that was at the house had just come down and cut them loose. O! the tender mercy and lovingkindness of the Lord our God! As to the child coming to cut them loose, I could never make out from that day to this, for the child the