Графични страници
PDF файл

soon the golden vision vanished, and I awoke to the certainty of its being no more than a dream.

Again I returned to my lonely dwelling, pleased with the thought, that my solitude would no more be interrupted; again I detested the world, and all which it could bestow. Thus a few more melancholy months rolled mournfully away, and I expected to finish my days in the retirement, to which I was devoted. One consideration, however, still pressed heavily upon my mind. The very considerable sums, for which I was indebted to my generous brother, was to me a mighty burden; and this beloved brother, availing himself of my anxiety on this account, once more set me afloat. Many were the efforts, to which I consented; great were my mental sacrifices. But one expedient remained; it was a mournful expedient. I will not delineate. I pause; I throw a veil over many revolving months; let it suffice to say, my purpose was gained, my debts were paid, my pecuniary circumstances easy; but this was all. How mysterious are the ways of Heaven! how many torturing scenes I have passed through! But, blessed be God, I have passed through them. Thanks be to the Father of mercies, they can no more be reiterated. My newly acquired competency possessed no charms for me; I derived no satisfaction from anything around me. In fact, I had nothng in prospect, and hope seemed to have expired in my bosom.


The bereaved man, quitting his native shores, embarks for America; indulging the fond hope of sequestering himself in the solitude, for which he sighed. But, contrary to his expectations, a series of circumstances combine to make him a Promulgator of the Gospel of God, our Saviour.


Death's sable pall o'er all my pleasures thrown,
My native isle to me a desert grown;

Sad and forlorn, to the new world I fled,
Amid its wilds to shield my widowed head.

HAVING, as has been described, laid the companion of my youth, the wife of my bosom, in the grave; my spirit still hovered round her tomb. It has been seen, that my life seemed devoted to misery; that I wept at all times, except when I turned my attention to that bright world, upon which, I imagined, I was verging; that I wished the act of putting a period to a weary life had ranked among the Christian virtues; that I never more passionately longed for any good, than for the period which was to put an end to my

existence; that I had but few acquaintance; that I wished not to form new connexions; that I was sick of the world, and all which it could bestow; that the retirement of my lonely dwelling was most acceptable to me; that I abhorred the thought of expecting any thing like happiness in this world; and, that I thus passed weeks and months, verily believing, that I should thus finish my days, which, I cherished a soothing hope, would soon be numbered.

Through those sad scenes of sorrow, to which I was condemned,. I had one friend, one earthly friend, from whom I derived real consolation. This friend was Mr. James Relly, the man who had been made an instrument, in the hand of God, of leading me into an acquaintance with the truth, as it is in Jesus. This kind friend often visited me; and in conversing with him, I found my heart lightened of its burden; I could better bear the pitiless storm, that beat upon me, when strengthened by the example of this son of sorrow. We frequently conversed upon the things of the kingdom, and Mr. Relly, observing my heart much warmed and enlarged by these subjects, urged me to go forth, and make mention of the lovingkindness of God. No, no, I constantly replied, it is not my design again to step forth in a public character. I have been a promulgator of falsehood. " And why not,' he would interrupt, 'a promulgator of truth? Surely you owe this atonement to the God, who hath irradiated your understanding by the light of his countenance." But no argument he made use of, was sufficiently strong to excite in my bosom a single wish, that I had either inclination or capability for a character so arduous; my heart's desire was to pass through life, unheard, unseen, unknown to all, as though I ne'er had been. I had an aversion to society; and, since I could not be permitted to leave the world, I was solicitous to retire from its noise and its nonsense; I was indeed a burden to myself, and no advantage to any body else; every place, every thing served to render me more miserable, for they led my mind to the contemplation of past scenes, of scenes never more to return. Such was the situation of mind, when, at the house of one of Mr. Relly's hearers, I accidentally met a gentleman from America. I listened with attention to his account of the country in which he had so long resided; I was charmed with his description of its extent, its forests, its lakes, its rivers, its towns, its inhabitants, the liberty they enjoyed, and the peace and plenty which they possessed; I listened to every thing with astonishment; and I turned toward the new world my most ardent wishes. I communicated my desire to visit America to my mother, to my brethren. I was ridiculed for entertaining a project so chimerical. What, cross the Atlantic? For what purpose? To whom would I go? What could I do? What object could I have in view? I was unable to answer any of these questions; I had not a single acquaintance in America; indeed I had no wish to make acquaintance; I had nothing in prospect, but a kind of negative happiness; I did not mean to commence a voyage in pursuit of bliss, but to avoid, if possible, a part of my misery.

My mind for a considerable time labored with my purpose; many difficulties interposed; I would infinitely have preferred entering that narrow house, which is appointed for all living, but this I was not permitted to do; and I conceived, to quit England, and to retire to America, was the next thing to be desired. Nights and days of deliberation at length convinced my judgment, and I was determined to depart for the new world. My few friends urged me most earnestly, to let them apply to those, who had connexions in America, for letters of introduction or recommendation. No, by no means, this would most effectually defeat my purpose; I would rather not go, than go thus. My object was to close my life in solitude, in the most complete retirement; and with those views I commenced preparations for my voyage. I visited the brother of my departed wife, and I beheld both him, and his children, with the same eyes a dying person would have beheld them; tears frequent ly stole down my face, and a thousand thoughts that served to harrow up my soul, crowded upon me. I was determined not to repeat this scene, and I bid them adieu : could I have done this upon a bed of death, how much happier should I have been!

The place I now occupied, to which I had recently removed, was extremely beautiful; it was in the vicinity of London. I had a fine garden, and a delightful prospect; but my better self had fled this globe, and with her fled my soul's calm sunshine every heart-felt joy. I was, as I have frequently said, extremely wretched; I spake to the master of a vessel, bound to New York; I agreed for my passage; my heart trembled; it was worse than death. He fixed the time for my departure ; every arrangement was made. My brother, my widowed mother, I met them in any parlor; it was torturing. 'Sit down, my son,' said my weeping parent; my brother appeared a silent spectacle of sorrow. 'I know you, my child, too well to expect I can alter your resolution; it is now too late to beseech you to reflect; I know you have long reflected, and I am astonished to find you still determined. You have a charming situation; your prospects are good; could you but make your mind easy, you might still be happy; why, then, this aversion to life?' I interrupted her by declaring, that the whole world would not, could not detain me longer in England; yet I passionately loved my country, and my few remaining friends shared the best affections of my heart. This voluntary exile was worse than death; but I was impelled to go, and go I must. My poor mother threw her fond arms about my neck: Once more,' said she, 'you leave me, but not now as before; then you left me in my native place, among my natural connexions; then, too, I had hope you would again be restored to me --but now-and she burst into tears: my heart was agonized. I entreated her to consider me as on the bed of death, nor again to think of me, as of a living son. Be thankful, my mother, be thankful it is no worse; be thankful I have not fallen a victim to the despondency of my spirit. I leave you with your children, with children kind and dutiful; and, what is better than all, I leave you in

the hands and under the care of a kind God, who hath said, I wilf never leave you nor forsake you. 'But shall I hear from you, my son?' Do not, I entreat you, think of me as living: I go to bury myself in the wilds of America; no one shall hear from me, nor of me. I have done with the world; and prostrating myself in the presence of my mother and my God, with streaming eyes and supplicating hands, I commended my soul, and all who were connected with me, or allied to me, to that Being who orders all things according to his own good pleasure.

I left my mother in an agony of affliction, and retired, but not to rest. My baggage had been sent on board ship in the morning, and, accompanied by my brother, we took a boat and passed down to Grave's-End, where I entered on board the vessel, that was to convey me to America, which, in my then judgment, was tantamount to quitting the world.

The vessel, however, did not sail immediately; I had an opportunity of going on shore again, and spending some time at Grave'sEnd. Fond of being alone, I ascended a lofty eminence, and sat me down under the shade of a wide-spreading tree; here I had leisure and inclination for reflection. On one hand, I beheld the wide ocean, my path to the new world; on the other, the Thames, upon the silvery surface of which many were passing to London. My mind rapidly run over the various scenes I had witnessed, since my arrival in that great city. I dwelt upon the good I had lost, never more to be recovered. My soul sickened at the recollection of my heavy bereavement, of the solitary situation to which I was reduced. I was going from a world in which I had some associates, and some friends, into a country where every individual was unknown to me! I was going on board a vessel, to the crew of which I was an utter stranger-all gloomy-truly gloomy. One idea, however, continued my cbiding consolation; I might soon finish my course, and bid an eternal adieu to sorrow of every description. Yet I trembled at what was before me; I was fearful I was wrong.

Just at this period the wind shifted, the signal was made for sailing; but before I descended the eminence, I once more threw my eyes upon the surrounding scenes. I felt destitute, and forlorn; tears gushed into my eyes. My domestic felicity, my social connexions, the pleasure I had derived from listening to the testimony of truth, these all rushed upon my recollection, with subduing power; I prostrated myself upon the ground, with streaming eyes exclaiming: Oh, thou dear parent earth, thou much-loved native soil, why not open, and give me a quiet resting-place in thy bosom. Oh! thou dear, departed friend of my soul, hast thou no power to loose these chains, that bind me to this state of being? Is there no eye to pity, no hand to help a wretched outcast? can I not be indulged with death? But death comes not at call. In this situation I continued bedewing the earth with my tears, until it pleased the kind God to speak peace to my tortured heart, and I seemed to hear a voice calling unto me, Be of good cheer, your God

is with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you; He is in the wide waste, as in the full city. Be not afraid, when thou passest through the waters; I will be with thee, fear no evil; the friend of sinners will be with thee, and make thy way plain before thee; He will cause the desert to blossom, as the rose. The young lions cry, and thy heavenly Father feedeth them. Thou art nearer and dearer to thy heavenly Father, than all the inhabitants of the deep, than all the tenants of the forest. Thus did the spirit of grace and consolation comfort my afflicted heart, so that, after bidding an affectionate adieu to the scenes of the morning and meridian of my days; after taking what I believed an eternal leave of my native soil, of my friends, and relatives; after dropping many tears to the memory of each; and, last of all, to the ashes of my dear self; with an aching head, a pained heart, and eyes swelled by weeping, on Saturday evening, July twenty-first, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy, I hastened on board the brig 'Hand-in-hand;' and, upon the ensuing morning, as we passed round Beachy Head, I beheld the white cliffs of Albion. No language can describe my sensations, as those white cliffs receded from my view, as I took a last look of England! I retired to my cabin, covered my face, and wept until I was completely exhausted. But God was pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon me; my voyage passed more pleasantly than I had calculated, and I was the happy instrument of contributing to the comfort of many on board. I was not sick upon the passage; I became more than reconciled to my circumstances, and I almost dreaded the thought of reaching my destined port.

I did not anticipate my fate upon my arrival; I had determined upon nothing, and yet I was not distressed; a perfect indifference pervaded my soul. I had in my trunks many articles of clothing, more than I should want; for I did not calculate upon being many years an inhabitant of this globe. I had some money, I had my Bible, and a very large collection of the letters of my Eliza, in which I took much delight; and, upon the whole I fancied myself rather rich, than otherwise. In this state of resignation, indifference, or insensibility, I passed the greater part of the voyage.

As we drew near the coast of America, I experienced none of those delightful sensations, which swelled my bosom, a few years before on returning to England from Ireland; neither did I experience those terrifying apprehensions, for which there was such abundant reason, on advancing to an unknown country, without patron, or friend. My mind was calm and unruffled, neither elated by hope, nor depressed by fear. I had obtained precisely that situation, for which I had supplicated Heaven, when entering upon this untried state of being, humbly depending upon that God, who was in every place the same unchanging friend of the creature whom he had made. I was, as it were, between two worlds one I had tried, and, finding it contained more of bitter than of sweet, I had turned from it with disgust. I advanced toward the

« ПредишнаНапред »