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addressed him: “I believe I did, indeed, preserve your life last night. You say you cannot rejoice at your deliverance. I have felt compassion for you, because you are alone among so many. Confide in me, and I will extend my protection still further. Whatever crime you may have committed, you are going to the deserts of a new world, where you may begin a new existence. The arm of retributive justice cannot reach you there; and the face of man cannot behold you, if you choose to fly into its solitudes. I have a strong desire to learn your history, and promise, most solemnly, never to betray your trust, without your consent.”

"I have committed no crime," replied the man, "for which I am amenable to human laws. In what I have performed, I have been told I did Heaven service. But could I fly from man, nay, could I escape from the presence of God, beyond the uttermost parts of the earth or the depths of hell, I cannot fly from myself. I have prayed for madness; but I am not mad. I can reason, and, alas! too well remember. Here it is, printed on my brain, a picture of fire; and it burns, and will burn forever, unless the soul can be annihilated. I would not commit an offence which I believe would consign me to perdition; or I would, long since, have laid down this tormenting load of life: yet how could I be happy in heaven, if memory is there, or if there I am to meet any of the countenances that are now looking upon me, though you cannot see them,—so sad, so horror-struck, so agonized ? Have you not read how heathens, in old times, guilty of parricide, or other inexpiable offence, were followed over all the earth, and even to the thresholds of their temples, by terrible women, shaking unquenchable firebrands, with liv. ing serpents hissing and twisting around their heads ? I am beset by many followers; but they do not threaten me, but look fixedly and sorrowfully upon me; and I seem sinking down and down beneath their looks into a fathomless pit. Last night I saw them, too, deep in the monstrous womb of the ocean; and now I see them ; and I shall see them forever. The heathens, I have read, could cling to their altars; and the Jews had certain places where the avenger of blood could not pursue. But I have no sanctuary, and no city of refuge, in all the wide world of land and waters that basks in the sunlight;—and I cannot look for it in the grave.

And here he lay down on his face, and a strong convulsion shook him like an ague fit. He regained some composure, and continued: “Since I have been on board of this vessel the torments of my earthly purgatory have been condensed to an intensity greater and more unremitting, than ever the persecutions of those who follow me have been constant. Every living thing around has mocked at and shunned me; until each human countenance seems to be that of a fiend to whom the penal torture has been assigned of persecuting, and mouthing, and chattering at the guilty; but I could abide all this, if they were not with me. I have seen them in crowded capitals; in the Arabian deserts; and in the dungeons of the infidels; but never, though long years have passed, more distinctly than now.

“But why should I weary you with what you cannot understand, and have no interest in. You ask to know the source of my calamity. I will endeavor to tell you as briefly and intelligibly as I can. I was the son of an industrious and frugal woollen-draper, in the city of London, and his only child. I was much indulged; and my father, having bound me apprentice to himself, did not chastise me when I neglected his business, but was satisfied to reprove me for my present offences. I did not acquire any vices; but I was an idle youth, and loved to see spectacles of all kinds. In particular, I attended all public executions; and was very sure never to be absent when any tragic scene was to be acted on Tower-hill or at Tyburn. I loved to watch the countenances of men going to be separated instantly from the bustle of life; and felt a strange excitement at the parade and circumstances which attend the awful execution of law. I did not go with the common feelings of the multitude, who thought no more of the event after it had passed, but dispersed to other places of amusement, or to their every-day business. The procession to the scaffold or the tree; the prayer, and the psalm, and the dying speech; the preparations for the block or the halter ; the descending axe or the withdrawing cart; the hushed pause of the countless spectators; the mangling of the bodies afterward—were all to me so many acts of a stage-play, in which I took a fearful but intense delight. It became a passion, paramount above all others; insomuch, that I sometimes envied the vile executioner, all stained as he was, and besmeared with the blood, and tearing the vitals of his often yet conscious victims; because he enjoyed a nearer prospect of the scene, from which I was kept back by the crowd and the soldiery.

“I have seen, in the East, men who derived their sustenance from mortal poisons; and others who kept tame snakes in their bosoms, and would caress the slimy monsters, as they were wrapped in their grisly and glittering folds. I have heard, too, of cannibals, and of forlorn creatures who haunt graveyards and prey upon dead carcasses. Not more unaccountable even to myself than the fancies and appetites of these extraordinary creatures was the desire that possessed me of witnessing the sufferings of human beings previous to the separation of soul and body. I have reasoned upon it since, and found no satisfactory cause; for in my nature, if I know what it was in childhood, there was no cruelty nor malice against my fellow-men. But so it was, that the contemplation of all these scenes of bloodshed and terror was my constant employment, and visions of executions, in all their terrible variety of pain, and fear, and agony, held their infernal sabbath in my mind, so that I neglected business and regular occupation of every kind.

" The persecution of the heretics began, and burnings took place in every part of the country. I had never attended an exhibition of this sort, and imagined, according to the craving of my diseased curiosity, that it must surpass in terror and sublimity all I had witnessed of the closing drama of penal justice. It so happened that I had made acquaintance with one of the sheriff's men, with whom I had held much communion on the subject always uppermost in my thoughts; and he came one morning to inform me that a minister was to be burnt the next day, and that I might, if I pleased, be close to the pile, and see everything as it occurred. This was a golden opportunity for me; and one for which I had long and vainly sighed. I was, however, not a little damped in my eagerness, when he told me it was necessary I should light the pile myself. From this office, although a good Catholic, and esteeming, even as I still do (but forgive me—you are a Protestant), the consuming of heretics as an acceptable thing to God;—from this function, I say, I recoiled, as unbecoming the son of an honest man, out of whose province it was entirely to perform the part of the common hangman. My acquaintance, however, told me, that I could gain a near access to the stake on no other condition; and gave me a mask which was adapted to the upper part of my face, and which, he said, would prevent any person from recognizing me. He added, that he would call for me the next morning, and so saying, he left me.

“ All the rest of that day I was uneasy, irresolute, and almost beside myself, pondering between my desire to indulge a long-cherished curiosity, and the repugnance I felt to execute an office considered disgraceful even when prescribed to an individual as bis legal duty. Before I fell asleep, I had made up my mind to depart from home early in the morning, and to behold the spectacle from a distance among the multitude. My dreams, prophetic of all I have ever had since, were troubled, wild, and agonizing; and I awoke in a feverish state of excitement. Very soon the populace was seen pouring from various quarters to the field where the execution was to be; and while I was yet meditating whether to evade my appointment by flight, or to refuse accompanying the sheriff's follower, he made his appearance, and beckoned to me, and as if by a fatal, uncontrollable impulse, I slipped quickly out of my father's shop, and accompanied him on his way. Turning down a narrow alley, he equipped me with my mask, and hurried, or rather dragged me towards the prison. No notice was taken of me, as, by the side of my companion, I mingled among the retainers of the law. Very soon the inner gates were opened, and there came forth among the officers a man in black vestments, a little advanced in years. His countenance, though not discomposed, was sad; for, as I heard, he had just parted from his family. And behind the escort I saw them slowly advancing, but did not then note them particularly; for a heavy load had fallen upon my heart. I heard not distinctly what was uttered around me, and turned my face neither to the right nor the left, but was led by the arm, mechanically, by my companion; following, with the other attendants, the cart in which the victim intended for the present sacrifice was placed.

"In this stupor I walked on the whole distance, unroused by the great following of the people, or the occasional interruptions that took place in our progress, until we arrived at the spot where the stake and the fagots were prepared. I kept my eyes fixed, as if by enchantment, on that fatal pile, and was dragged along unresistingly, while a ring was formed around the scene of torture. With dim and dreaming vision, I saw the minister descend from the cart, and walk tranquilly and firmly, as it seemed, to the goal of his earthly pilgrimage. There were other things passing, which swam indistinctly before my sight. There was a priest with an angry countenance, holding a cross, from whom the heretic minister turned away; and a proclamation was read, of which I heard the sounds, without perceiving the meaning of the words. Then they fastened the prisoner to the stake by iron hoops, and closed up the circle of fagots around him. At this moment I was thrust forward so suddenly by my companion, that I was urged within a few feet of the pile. I stood without motion, rather as a machine than a thinking being, and a torch was put into my hand by a halberdier. The sheriff, who stood by, addressed me, but I understood not his words. I only comprehended from his gesture that I was to light the pyre. A dead silence prevailed among all the assembled people, and we might have heard the whisper of an infant, or the falling of a leaf. A brief struggle passed through my frame, and hastily, by the same seemingly mechanical impulse, of which alone I appeared to be conscious, I advanced with the fatal brand. One instant I cast my eyes upwards on the victim. His countenance was serene and cheerful; and he bent his eyes upon me with a settled calmness and forgiveness, which now lives before my sight as though it were yesterday. I thrust the torch among the light stuff and combustibles at the foot of the pile; and the flame speedily ran all around it, and mounted among the wood. I thought I felt it at the same moment encircling my own brain. I dropped the torch and returned to my companion. There was a weight upon my feet that seemed to clog them to the earth at every step, and a deathlike coldness at my heart. Then, as I lifted up my eyes, I beheld, behind the surrounding guards, a melancholy train in sable apparel. There was a mother with a little infant in her bosom. She was tall and of a dignified aspect; but her cheeks were pale; and her eyes, swollen and red, were fixed in the direction of the pile where her husband was suffering. There were two lusty and stately youths, who stood gazing sternly and sadly; but as the fire began to crackle fiercely behind me, they lifted up their voices and wept aloud. There was a maiden just arrived at womanhood, slender and graceful, with a saintly countenance, such as I have seen in pictures of the Holy Virgin ; and she clung weeping to her elder brother. There was a younger girl, with golden hair and blue eyes, like a young cherub, weeping, shrieking out for mercy for her father, and a boy, deformed, and supporting himself with a crutch, who had an obliquity in one eye, that gave to the agony of grief, expressed in his face, a strange peculiarity. And there were little children clinging around their mother's garments, all crying bitterly; the youngest, poor souls, for company, not knowing why the rest were so afflicted. Methought that, at the same instant, they all directed their eyes towards me; and ever since I have retained the individual expression of each of those woe-begone faces. I turned around, and saw the father of this family surrounded by the ascending blaze, that burnt fiercely, but with a pale unnatural lustre, in the broad glare of day. His look was serene, and he stretched out his hands, and washed them in the consuming element."

(Here there is a large defect in the manuscript.) The vessels were in sight of the coast of Florida. A delightful perfume was wafted from the shore, and the adventurers beheld the banks, even down to the edge of the water, covered with luxuriant vines and groves of magnolia. Some boats put off from the ship in which Rogers was a passenger, for the purpose of paying a visit to this land of promise; and in one of them the unhappy man, whose history is herein before recorded, went on shore. He was never seen more.

Those who were in the same boat with him said that he had wandered into the interior of the country, and could not be recalled in time. It is more probable that they purposely left bim. The ship under command of Sir Francis Drake, a few years afterwards,

, took from the Virginian coast the remnant of the colonists, who were unfortunate in their settlement. Among the survivors, Rogers returned to England, by whom the foregoing facts were narrated. And notwithstanding many traditions and legends that have been popular, the above are the only authentic particulars in relation to the MAN WHO BURNT


Hæc scripsi, invita Minervâ, RICHMOND, August 27th, 1724.

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