My loving Countrymen pray lend an Ear,
To this Relation which I bring you here,
My sufferings at large I will unfold,
Which tho' 'tis strange, 'tis true as e'er was told,
Of honest parents I did come (tho' poor,)
Who besides me had never Children more;
Near Temple Bar was born their darling son,
And for some years in virtue's path did run.
My parents in me took great delight,
And brought me up at School to read and write,
And cast accompts likewise, as it appears,
Until that I was aged thirteen years.
Then to a Tin-man I was Prentice bound,
My master and mistress good I found,
They lik'd me well, my business I did mind,
From me my parents comfort hop'd to find.
My master near unto Moorfields did dwell,
Where into wicked company I fell;
To wickedness I quickly was inclin'd,
Thus soon is tainted any youthful mind.
I from my master then did run away,
And rov'd about the streets both night and day:
Did with a gang of rogues a thieving go,
Which filled my parents heart with grief and woe.
At length my master got me home again,
And used me well, in hopes I might reclaim,
My father tenderly to me did say,
My dearest child, what made you run away?
If you had any cause at all for grief,
Why came you not to me to seek relief?
I well do know you did for nothing lack,
Food for your belly and cloaths to your back.
My mother cry'd, dear son I do implore,
That you will from your master go no more,
Your business mind, your master ne'er forsake,
Lest you again to wicked courses take.
I promis'd fair, but yet could not refrain,
But to my vile companions went again:
For vice when once, alas! it taints the mind,
Is not soon rooted out again we find.
With them again I did a thieving go,
But little did my tender parents know,
I follow'd courses that could be so vile,
My absence griev'd them, being their only child,
A wretched life I liv'd, I must confess,
In fear and dread and great uneasiness;
Which does attend such actions that's unjust,
For thieves can never one another trust.
Strong liquor banish'd all the thoughts of fear,
But Justice stops us in our full career:
One night was taken up one of our gang,
Who five impeach'd & three of these were hang'd.
I was one of the five was try'd and cast,
Yet transportation I did get at last;
A just reward for my vile actions past,
Thus justice overtook me at the last.
My Father griev'd, my mother she took on,
And cry'd, Alas! alas! my only son:
My Father cry'd, It cuts me to the heart,
To think on such a cause as this we part.
To see them grieve thus pierc'd my very soul,
My wretched case I sadly did console;
With grief and shame my eyes did overflow,
And had much rather chuse to die than go.
In vain I griev'd, in vain my parents weep,
For I was quickly sent on board the Ship:
With melting kisses and a heavy heart,
I from my dearest parents then did part.
In a few Days we left the river quite,
And in short time of land we lost the sight,
The Captain and the sailors us'd us well,
But kept us under lest we should rebel.
We were in number much about threescore,
A wicked lowsey crew as e'er went o'er;
Oaths and Tobacco with us plenty were,
For most did smoak, and all did curse and swear.
Five of our number in our passage died,
Which were thrown into the Ocean wide:
And after sailing seven Weeks and more,
We at Virginia all were put on shore.
Where, to refresh us, we were wash'd and cleaned
That to our buyers we might the better seem;
Our things were gave to each they did belong,
And they that had clean linnen put it on.
Our faces shav'd, comb'd out our wigs and hair,
That we in decent order might appear,
Against the planters did come down to view,
How well they lik'd this fresh transported crew.
The Women separated from us stand,
As well as we, by them for to be view'd;
And in short time some men up to us came,
Some ask'd our trades, and others ask'd our names.
Some view'd our limbs, and other's turn'd us round
Examening like Horses, if we're sound,
What trade are you, my Lad, says one to me,
A Tin-man, Sir, that will not do, says he.
Some felt our hands and view'd our legs and feet,
And made us walk, to see we were compleat;
Some view'd our teeth, to see if they were good,
Or fit to chew our hard and homely Food.
If any like our look, our limbs, our trade,
The Captain then a good advantage made:
For they a difference made it did appear,
'Twixt those for seven and for fourteen year.
Another difference there is alow'd,
They who have money have most favour show'd;
For if no cloaths nor money they have got,
Hard is their fate, and hard will be their lot.
At length a grim old Man unto me came,
He ask'd my trade, and likewise ask'd my Name:
I told him I a Tin-man was by trade,
And not quite eighteen years of age I said.
Likewise the cause I told that brought me there,
That I for fourteen years transported were,
And when he this from me did understand,
He bought me of the Captain out of hand.
Down to the harbour I was took again,
On board of a sloop, and loaded with a chain;
Which I was forc'd to wear both night and day,
For fear I from the Sloop should get away.
My master was a man but of ill fame,
Who first of all a Transport thither came;
In Reppahannock county we did dwell,
Up Reppahannock river known full well,
And when the Sloop with loading home was sent
An hundred mile we up the river went
The weather cold and very hard my fare,
My lodging on the deck both hard and bare.
At last to my new master's house I came,
At the town of Wicoccomoco call'd by name,
Where my Europian clothes were took from me,
Which never after I again could see.
A canvas shirt and trowsers then they gave,
With a hop-sack frock in which I was to slave:
No shoes nor stockings had I for to wear,
Nor hat, nor cap, both head and feet were bare.
Thus dress'd into the Field I next must go,
Amongst tobacco plants all day to hoe,
At day break in the morn our work begun,
And so held to the setting of the Sun.
My fellow slaves were just five Transports more,
With eighteen Negroes, which is twenty four:
Besides four transport women in the house,
To wait upon his daughter and his Spouse.
We and the Negroes both alike did fare,
Of work and food we had an equal share;
But in a piece of ground we call our own,
The food we eat first by ourselves were sown,
No other time to us they would allow,
But on a Sunday we the same must do:
Six days we slave for our master's good,
The seventh day is to produce our food.
Sometimes when that a hard days work we've done,
Away unto the mill we must be gone;
Till twelve or one o'clock a grinding corn,
And must be up by daylight in the morn.
And if you run in debt with any one,
It must be paid before from thence you come;
For in publick places they'll put up your name,
That every one their just demands may claim.
And if we offer for to run away,
For every hour we must serve a day;
For every day a Week. They're so severe,
For every week a month, for every month a year.
But if they murder, rob or steal when there,
Then straightway hang'd, the Laws are so severe;
For by the Rigour of that very law
They're much kept under and to stand in awe.
At length, it pleased God I sick did fall
But I no favour could receive at all,
For I was Forced to work while I could stand,
Or hold the hoe within my feeble hands.
Much hardships then in deed I did endure,
No dog was ever nursed so I'm sure,
More pity the poor Negroe slaves bestowed
Than my inhuman brutal master showed.
Oft on my knees the Lord I did implore,
To let me see my native land once more;
For through God's grace my life I would amend
And be a comfort to my dearest friends.
Helpless and sick and being left alone,
I by myself did use to make my moan;
And think upon my former wicked ways,
How they had brought me to this wretched case.
The Lord above who saw my Grief and smart,
Heard my complaint and knew my contrite heart,
His gracious Mercy did to me afford,
My health again was unto me restor'd.
It pleas'd the Lord to grant me so much Grace,
That tho' I was in such a barbarous place,
I serv'd the Lord with fervency and zeal,
By which I did much inward comfort feel.
Thus twelve long tedious years did pass away,
And but two more by law I had to stay:
When Death did for my cruel Master call,
But that was no relief to us at all.
The Widow would not the Plantation hold,
So we and that were both for to be sold,
A lawyer rich who at James-Town did dwell,
Came down to view it and lik'd it very well.
He bought the Negroes who for life were slaves,
But no transported Fellons would he have,
So we were put like Sheep into a fold,
There unto the best bidder to be sold.
A Gentleman who seemed something grave,
Unto me said, how long are you to slave;
Not two years quite, I unto him reply'd,
That is but very short indeed he cry'd.
He ask'd my Name, my trade, and whence I came
And what vile Fate had brought me to that shame?
I told him all at which he shook his head,
I hope you have seen your folly now, he said,
I told him yes and truly did repent,
But that which made me most of all relent
That I should to my parents prove so vile,
I being their darling and their only child.
He said no more but from me short did turn,
While from my Eyes the tears did trinkling run,
To see him to my overseer go,
But what he said to him I do not know.
He straightway came to me again,
And said no longer here you must remain,
For I have bought you of that Man said he,
Therefore prepare yourself to come with me.
I with him went with heart oppressed with woe,
Not knowing him, or where I was to go;
But was surprised very much to find,
He used me so tenderly and kind.
He said he would not use me as a slave,
But as a servant if I well behav'd;
And if I pleased him when my time expir'd,
He'd send me home again if I required.
My kind new master did at James Town dwell;
By trade a Cooper, and liv'd very well:
I was his servant on him to attend,
Thus God, unlook'd for raised me up a friend.
Thus did I live in plenty and at ease,
Having none but my master for to please,
And if at any time he did ride out,
I with him rode the country round about.
And in my heart I often cry'd to see,
So many transport fellons there to be;
Some who in England had lived fine and brave,
Were like old Horses forced to drudge and slave.
At length my fourteen years expired quite,
Which fill'd my very soul with fond delight;
To think I should no longer there remain,
But to old England once return again.
My master for me did express much love,
And as good as his promise to me prov'd:
He got me ship'd and I came home again
With joy and comfort tho' I went asham'd,
My Father and my Mother well I found,
Who to see me, with Joy did much abound:
My Mother over me did weep for Joy,
My Father cry'd once more to see my Boy;
Whom I thought dead, but does alive remain,
And is resumed to me once again;
I hope God has so wrought upon your mind,
No more wickedness you’ll be inclined,
I told them all the dangers I went thro'
Likewise my sickness and my hardships too;
Which fill'd their tender hearts with sad surprise,
While tears ran trinkling from their aged eyes.
I begg'd them from all grief to refrain,
Since God had brought me to them home again,
The Lord unto me so much grace will give,
For to work for you both while I live,
My country men take warning e'er too late,
Lest you should share my hard unhappy fate;
Altho' but little crimes you here have done,
Consider seven or fourteen years to come,
Forc'd from your friends and country for to go,
Among the Negroes to work at the hoe;
In distant countries void of all relief,
Sold for a slave because you prov'd a thief.
Now young men with speed your lives amend,
Take my advice as one that is your friend:
For tho' so slight you make of it while here,
Hard is your lot when once they get you there.