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they said, I should run away; but what of that? I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door, and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and late; but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well. enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myself; so I was resolved to go seek my fortune.
'In this manner I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none; when, happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of peace, I spied a hare crossing the path just before me, and I believe the devil put it in my head to fling my stick at it:well, what will you have on't? I killed the hare, and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me; he called me a poacher and a villain, and, collaring me, desired I would give an account of myself. I fell upon my knees, begged his worship's pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my breed, seed, and generation; but though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account, so I was indicted at sessions, found guilty of being poor, and sent up to
London to Newgate, in order to be transported as a vagabond.
'After five months I was taken out of prison, put on board ship, and sent off with two hundred more to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage, for being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air, and those that remained were sickly enough, God knows. When we came ashore, I was sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar-for I did not know my letters-I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time as in duty bound to do.
'When my time was expired, I worked my passage home, and glad I was to see old England again; because I loved my country. I was afraid, however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more, so I did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs when I could get them.
'I was very happy in this manner for some time, till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down and then desired me to stand. They belonged to a
press-gang. I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board of a man-of-war or list for a soldier. I chose the latter; and, in this post of a gentleman, I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy,* and received but one wound, through the breast here: but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.
'When the peace came on I was discharged; and as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landsman in the East India Company's service. I have fought the French in six pitched battles; and I verily believe that if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion, for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the present war; and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spending my money: but the Government wanted men, and so I was pressed
* A.D. 1745. The English, under the Duke of Cumberland, defeated by the French.
for a sailor before ever I could set foot on shore.
'The boatswain found me, as he said, an obstinate fellow. He swore he knew that I understood my business well, but that I shammed Abraham to be idle: but, God knows, I knew nothing of sea business, and he beat me without considering what he was about. I had still, however, my forty pounds, and that was some comfort to me under every beating; and the money I might have had to this day but that our ship was taken by the French, and so I lost my money.
'Our crew was carried into Brest, and many of them died, because they were not used to live in gaol: but, for my part, it was nothing to me, for I was seasoned. One night as I was asleep on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me-for I always loved to lie well—I was awakened by the boatswain, who had a dark lantern in his hand. "Jack," says he to me, "will you knock out the French sentries' brains?" "I don't care," says I, striving to keep myself awake, "if I lend a hand." "Then follow me," says he, "and I
* Pretended to be ill.
hope we shall do business." So up I got, and tied my blanket-which was all the clothes I had-about my middle, and went with him to fight the Frenchmen. I hate the French, because they are all slaves and wear wooden shoes.
'Though we had no arms, one Englishman is able to beat five French at any time: so we went down to the door, where both the sentries were posted, and, rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence nine of us ran together to the quay, and, seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbour and put to sea. We had not been here three days before we were taken up by a Dorset privateer, who was glad of so many good hands, and we consented to run our chance. However, we had not as much luck as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three: so to it we went, yard-arm and yard-arm. The fight lasted for three hours, and I verily believe we should have taken the Frenchman, had we but had some more men left behind; but, unfortunately, we lost all our men just as we were going to get the victory.