1) Franklin / Occom: List 5 examples from these writers of misunderstandings or mistreatment in dealings between Natives and English colonists. 
2) Equiano: List 5 events that stood out to you in Equiano’s narrative between the time he was captured and his arrival in the Americas.The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of
Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, by Olaudah Equiano
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Title: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African
Written By Himself
Author: Olaudah Equiano
Release Date: March 17, 2005 [EBook #15399]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Diane Monico and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be
afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my
song; he also is become my salvation.
And in that shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his
name, declare his doings among the people. Isaiah xii. 2, 4.
Printed for and sold by the Author, No. 10, Union-Street,
Middlesex Hospital
Sold also by Mr. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard; Mr. Murray, Fleet-Street; Messrs. Robson and Clark,
Bond-Street; Mr. Davis, opposite Gray’s Inn, Holborn; Messrs. Shepperson and Reynolds, and Mr.
Jackson, Oxford Street; Mr. Lackington, Chiswell-Street; Mr. Mathews, Strand; Mr. Murray, Prince’sStreet, Soho; Mess. Taylor and Co. South Arch, Royal Exchange; Mr. Button, Newington-Causeway; Mr.
Parsons, Paternoster-Row; and may be had of all the Booksellers in Town and Country.
[Entered at Stationer’s Hall.]
The author’s account of his country, and their manners and customs—Administration
of justice—Embrenche—Marriage ceremony, and public entertainments—Mode of
living—Dress—Manufactures Buildings—Commerce—Agriculture—War and religion
—Superstition of the natives—Funeral ceremonies of the priests or magicians—
Curious mode of discovering poison—Some hints concerning the origin of the
author’s countrymen, with the opinions of different writers on that subject.
I believe it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity;
nor is this the only disadvantage under which they labour: it is also their misfortune, that what is
uncommon is rarely, if ever, believed, and what is obvious we are apt to turn from with disgust, and
to charge the writer with impertinence. People generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read
or remembered which abound in great or striking events, those, in short, which in a high degree
excite either admiration or pity: all others they consign to contempt and oblivion. It is therefore, I
confess, not a little hazardous in a private and obscure individual, and a stranger too, thus to solicit
the indulgent attention of the public; especially when I own I offer here the history of neither a saint,
a hero, nor a tyrant. I believe there are few events in my life, which have not happened to many: it is
true the incidents of it are numerous; and, did I consider myself an European, I might say my
sufferings were great: but when I compare my lot with that of most of my countrymen, I regard
myself as a particular favourite of Heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of Providence in every
occurrence of my life. If then the following narrative does not appear sufficiently interesting to
engage general attention, let my motive be some excuse for its publication. I am not so foolishly vain
as to expect from it either immortality or literary reputation. If it affords any satisfaction to my
numerous friends, at whose request it has been written, or in the smallest degree promotes the
interests of humanity, the ends for which it was undertaken will be fully attained, and every wish of
my heart gratified. Let it therefore be remembered, that, in wishing to avoid censure, I do not aspire
to praise.
That part of Africa, known by the name of Guinea, to which the trade for slaves is carried on,
extends along the coast above 3400 miles, from the Senegal to Angola, and includes a variety of
kingdoms. Of these the most considerable is the kingdom of Benen, both as to extent and wealth, the
richness and cultivation of the soil, the power of its king, and the number and warlike disposition of
the inhabitants. It is situated nearly under the line, and extends along the coast about 170 miles, but
runs back into the interior part of Africa to a distance hitherto I believe unexplored by any traveller;
and seems only terminated at length by the empire of Abyssinia, near 1500 miles from its beginning.
This kingdom is divided into many provinces or districts: in one of the most remote and fertile of
which, called Eboe, I was born, in the year 1745, in a charming fruitful vale, named Essaka. The
distance of this province from the capital of Benin and the sea coast must be very considerable; for I
had never heard of white men or Europeans, nor of the sea: and our subjection to the king of Benin
was little more than nominal; for every transaction of the government, as far as my slender
observation extended, was conducted by the chiefs or elders of the place. The manners and
government of a people who have little commerce with other countries are generally very simple;
and the history of what passes in one family or village may serve as a specimen of a nation. My
father was one of those elders or chiefs I have spoken of, and was styled Embrenche; a term, as I
remember, importing the highest distinction, and signifying in our language a mark of grandeur. This
mark is conferred on the person entitled to it, by cutting the skin across at the top of the forehead,
and drawing it down to the eye-brows; and while it is in this situation applying a warm hand, and
rubbing it until it shrinks up into a thick weal across the lower part of the forehead. Most of the
judges and senators were thus marked; my father had long born it: I had seen it conferred on one of
my brothers, and I was also destined to receive it by my parents. Those Embrence, or chief men,
decided disputes and punished crimes; for which purpose they always assembled together. The
proceedings were generally short; and in most cases the law of retaliation prevailed. I remember a
man was brought before my father, and the other judges, for kidnapping a boy; and, although he was
the son of a chief or senator, he was condemned to make recompense by a man or woman slave.
Adultery, however, was sometimes punished with slavery or death; a punishment which I believe is
inflicted on it throughout most of the nations of Africa[A]: so sacred among them is the honour of the
marriage bed, and so jealous are they of the fidelity of their wives. Of this I recollect an instance:—a
woman was convicted before the judges of adultery, and delivered over, as the custom was, to her
husband to be punished. Accordingly he determined to put her to death: but it being found, just
before her execution, that she had an infant at her breast; and no woman being prevailed on to
perform the part of a nurse, she was spared on account of the child. The men, however, do not
preserve the same constancy to their wives, which they expect from them; for they indulge in a
plurality, though seldom in more than two. Their mode of marriage is thus:—both parties are usually
betrothed when young by their parents, (though I have known the males to betroth themselves). On
this occasion a feast is prepared, and the bride and bridegroom stand up in the midst of all their
friends, who are assembled for the purpose, while he declares she is thenceforth to be looked upon as
his wife, and that no other person is to pay any addresses to her. This is also immediately proclaimed
in the vicinity, on which the bride retires from the assembly. Some time after she is brought home to
her husband, and then another feast is made, to which the relations of both parties are invited: her
parents then deliver her to the bridegroom, accompanied with a number of blessings, and at the same
time they tie round her waist a cotton string of the thickness of a goose-quill, which none but
married women are permitted to wear: she is now considered as completely his wife; and at this time
the dowry is given to the new married pair, which generally consists of portions of land, slaves, and
cattle, household goods, and implements of husbandry. These are offered by the friends of both
parties; besides which the parents of the bridegroom present gifts to those of the bride, whose
property she is looked upon before marriage; but after it she is esteemed the sole property of her
husband. The ceremony being now ended the festival begins, which is celebrated with bonefires, and
loud acclamations of joy, accompanied with music and dancing.
We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets. Thus every great event, such as a
triumphant return from battle, or other cause of public rejoicing is celebrated in public dances, which
are accompanied with songs and music suited to the occasion. The assembly is separated into four
divisions, which dance either apart or in succession, and each with a character peculiar to itself. The
first division contains the married men, who in their dances frequently exhibit feats of arms, and the
representation of a battle. To these succeed the married women, who dance in the second division.
The young men occupy the third; and the maidens the fourth. Each represents some interesting scene
of real life, such as a great achievement, domestic employment, a pathetic story, or some rural sport;
and as the subject is generally founded on some recent event, it is therefore ever new. This gives our
dances a spirit and variety which I have scarcely seen elsewhere[B]. We have many musical
instruments, particularly drums of different kinds, a piece of music which resembles a guitar, and
another much like a stickado. These last are chiefly used by betrothed virgins, who play on them on
all grand festivals.
As our manners are simple, our luxuries are few. The dress of both sexes is nearly the same. It
consists of a long piece of callico, or muslin, wrapped loosely round the body, somewhat
in the form of a highland plaid. This is usually dyed blue, which is our favourite colour. It is
extracted from a berry, and is brighter and richer than any I have seen in Europe. Besides this, our
women of distinction wear golden ornaments; which they dispose with some profusion on their arms
and legs. When our women are not employed with the men in tillage, their usual occupation is
spinning and weaving cotton, which they afterwards dye, and make it into garments. They also
manufacture earthen vessels, of which we have many kinds. Among the rest tobacco pipes, made
after the same fashion, and used in the same manner, as those in Turkey[C].

Our manner of living is entirely plain; for as yet the natives are unacquainted with those refinements
cookery which debauch the taste: bullocks, goats, and poultry, supply the greatest part of their
food. These constitute likewise the principal wealth of the country, and the chief articles of its
The flesh is usually stewed in a pan; to make it savoury we sometimes use also pepper,
and other spices, and we have salt made of wood ashes. Our vegetables are mostly plantains, eadas,
yams, beans, and Indian corn. The head of the family usually eats alone; his wives and slaves have
also their separate tables. Before we taste food we always wash our hands: indeed our cleanliness on
all occasions is extreme; but on this it is an indispensable ceremony. After washing, libation is made,
pouring out a small portion of the food, in a certain place, for the spirits of departed relations,
which the natives suppose to preside over their conduct, and guard them from evil. They are totally
unacquainted with strong or spirituous liquours; and their principal beverage is palm wine. This is
gotten from a tree of that name by tapping it at the top, and fastening a large gourd to it; and

The author’s birth and parentage—His being kidnapped with his sister—Their
separation—Surprise at meeting again—Are finally separated—Account of the
different places and incidents the author met with till his arrival on the coast—The
effect the sight of a slave ship had on him—He sails for the West Indies—Horrors of a
slave ship—Arrives at Barbadoes, where the cargo is sold and dispersed.
I hope the reader will not think I have trespassed on his patience in introducing myself to him with
some account of the manners and customs of my country. They had been implanted in me with great
care, and made an impression on my mind, which time could not erase, and which all the adversity
and variety of fortune I have since experienced served only to rivet and record; for, whether the love
of one’s country be real or imaginary, or a lesson of reason, or an instinct of nature, I still look back
with pleasure on the first scenes of my life, though that pleasure has been for the most part mingled
with sorrow.
I have already acquainted the reader with the time and place of my birth. My father, besides many
slaves, had a numerous family, of which seven lived to grow up, including myself and a sister, who
was the only daughter. As I was the youngest of the sons, I became, of course, the greatest favourite
with my mother, and was always with her; and she used to take particular pains to form my mind. I
was trained up from my earliest years in the art of war; my daily exercise was shooting and throwing
javelins; and my mother adorned me with emblems, after the manner of our greatest warriors. In this
way I grew up till I was turned the age of eleven, when an end was put to my happiness in the
following manner:—Generally when the grown people in the neighbourhood were gone far in the
fields to labour, the children assembled together in some of the neighbours’ premises to play; and
commonly some of us used to get up a tree to look out for any assailant, or kidnapper, that might
come upon us; for they sometimes took those opportunities of our parents’ absence to attack and
carry off as many as they could seize. One day, as I was watching at the top of a tree in our yard, I
saw one of those people come into the yard of our next neighbour but one, to kidnap, there being
many stout young people in it. Immediately on this I gave the alarm of the rogue, and he was
surrounded by the stoutest of them, who entangled him with cords, so that he could not escape till
some of the grown people came and secured him. But alas! ere long it was my fate to be thus
attacked, and to be carried off, when none of the grown people were nigh. One day, when all our
people were gone out to their works as usual, and only I and my dear sister were left to mind the
house, two men and a woman got over our walls, and in a moment seized us both, and, without
giving us time to cry out, or make resistance, they stopped our mouths, and ran off with us into the
nearest wood. Here they tied our hands, and continued to carry us as far as they could, till night came
on, when we reached a small house, where the robbers halted for refreshment, and spent the night.
We were then unbound, but were unable to take any food; and, being quite overpowered by fatigue
and grief, our only relief was some sleep, which allayed our misfortune for a short time. The next
morning we left the house, and continued travelling all the day. For a long time we had kept the
woods, but at last we came into a road which I believed I knew. I had now some hopes of being
delivered; for we had advanced but a little way before I discovered some people at a distance, on
which I began to cry out for their assistance: but my cries had no other effect than to make them tie
me faster and stop my mouth, and then they put me into a large sack. They also stopped my sister’s
mouth, and tied her hands; and in this manner we proceeded till we were out of the sight of these
people. When we went to rest the following night they offered us some victuals; but we refused it;
and the only comfort we had was in being in one another’s arms all that night, and bathing each other
with our tears. But alas! we were soon deprived of even the small comfort of weeping together. The
next day proved a day of greater sorrow than I had yet experienced; for my sister and I were then
separated, while we lay clasped in each other’s arms. It was in vain that we besought them not to part
us; she was torn from me, and immediately carried away, while I was left in a state of distraction not
to be described. I cried and grieved continually; and for several days I did not eat any thing but what
they forced into my mouth. At length, after many days travelling, during which I had often changed
masters, I got into the hands of a chieftain, in a very pleasant country. This man had two wives and
some children, and they all used me extremely well, and did all they could to comfort me;
particularly the first wife, who was something like my mother. Although I was a great many days
journey from my father’s house, yet these people spoke exactly the same language with us. This first
master of mine, as I may call him, was a smith, and my principal employment was working his
bellows, which were the same kind as I had seen in my vicinity. They were in some respects not
unlike the stoves here in gentlemen’s kitchens; and were covered over with leather; and in the middle
of that leather a stick was fixed, and a person stood up, and worked it, in the same manner as is done
to pump water out of a cask with a hand pump. I believe it was gold he worked, for it was of a lovely
bright yellow colour, and was worn by the women on their wrists and ancles. I was there I suppose
about a month, and they at last used to trust me some little distance from the house. This liberty I
used in embracing every opportunity to inquire the way to my own home: and I also sometimes, for
the same purpose, went with the maidens, in the cool of the evenings, to bring pitchers of water from
the springs for the use of the house. I had also remarked where the sun rose in the morning, and set
in the evening, as I had travelled along; and I had observed that my father’s house was towards the
rising of the sun. I therefore determined to seize the first opportunity of making my escape, and to
shape my course for that quarter; for I was quite oppressed and weighed down by grief after my
mother and friends; and my love of liberty, ever great, was strengthened by the mortifying
circumstance of not daring to eat with the free-born children, although I was mostly their
companion. While I was projecting my escape, one day an unlucky event happened, which quite
disconcerted my plan, and put an end to my hopes. I used to be sometimes employed in assisting an
elderly woman slave to cook and take care of the poultry; and one morning, while I was feeding
some chickens, I happened to toss a small pebble at one of them, which hit it on the middle and
directly killed it. The old slave, having soon after missed the chicken, inquired after it; and on my
relating the accident (for I told her the truth, because my mother would never suffer me to tell a lie)
she flew into a violent passion, threatened that I should suffer for it; and, my master being out, she
immediately went and told her mistress what I had done. This alarmed me very much, and I expected
an instant flogging, which to me was uncommonly dreadful; for I had seldom been beaten at home. I
therefore resolved to fly; and accordingly I ran into a thicket that was hard by, and hid myself in the
bushes. Soon afterwards my mistress and the slave returned, and, not seeing me, they searched all
the house, but not finding me, and I not making answer when they called to me, they thought I had
run away, and the whole neighbourhood was raised in the pursuit of me. In that part of the country
(as in ours) the houses and villages were skirted with woods, or shrubberies, and the bushes were so
thick that a man could readily conceal himself in them, so as to elude the strictest search. The
neighbours continued the whole day looking for me, and several times many of them came within a
few yards of the place where I lay hid. I then gave myself up for lost entirely, and expected every
moment, when I heard a rustling among the trees, to be found out, and punished by my master: but
they never discovered me, though they were often so near that I even heard their conjectures as they
were looking about for me; and I now learned from them, that any attempt to return home would be
hopeless. Most of them supposed I had fled towards home; but the distance was so great, and the
way so intricate, that they thought I could never reach it, and that I should be lost in the woods.
When I heard this I was seized with a violent panic, and abandoned myself to despair. Night too
began to approach, and aggravated all my fears. I had before entertained hopes of getting home, and
I had determined when it should be dark to make the attempt; but I was now convinced it was
fruitless, and I began to consider that, if possibly I could escape all other animals, I could not those
of the human kind; and that, not knowing the way, I must perish in the woods. Thus was I like the
hunted deer:
—”Ev’ry leaf and ev’ry whisp’ring breath
Convey’d a foe, and ev’ry foe a death.”
I heard frequent rustlings among the leaves; and being pretty sure they were snakes I expected every
instant to be stung by them. This increased my anguish, and the horror of my situation became now
quite insupportable. I at length quitted the thicket, very faint and hungry, for I had not eaten or drank
any thing all the day; and crept to my master’s kitchen, from whence I set out at first, and which was
an open shed, and laid myself down in the ashes with an anxious wish for death to relieve me from
all my pains. I was scarcely awake in the morning when the old woman slave, who was the first up,
came to light the fire, and saw me in the fire place. She was very much surprised to see me, and
could scarcely believe her own eyes. She now promised to intercede for me, and went for her master,
who soon after came, and, having slightly reprimanded me, ordered me to be taken care of, and not
to be ill-treated.
Soon after this my master’s only daughter, and child by his first wife, sickened and died, which
affected him so much that for some time he was almost frantic, and really would have killed himself,
had he not been watched and prevented. However, in a small time afterwards he recovered, and I was
again sold. I was now carried to the left of the sun’s rising, through many different countries, and a
number of large woods. The people I was sold to used to carry me very often, when I was tired,
either on their shoulders or on their backs. I saw many convenient well-built sheds along the roads,
at proper distances, to accommodate the merchants and travellers, who lay in those buildings along
with their wives, who often accompany them; and they always go well armed.
From the time I left my own nation I always found somebody that understood me till I came to the
sea coast. The languages of different nations did not totally differ, nor were they so copious as those
of the Europeans, particularly the English. They were therefore easily learned; and, while I was
journeying thus through Africa, I acquired two or three different tongues. In this manner I had been
travelling for a considerable time, when one evening, to my great surprise, whom should I see
brought to the house where I was but my dear sister! As soon as she saw me she gave a loud shriek,
and ran into my arms—I was quite overpowered: neither of us could speak; but, for a considerable
time, clung to each other in mutual embraces, unable to do any thing but weep. Our meeting affected
all who saw us; and indeed I must acknowledge, in honour of those sable destroyers of human rights,
that I never met with any ill treatment, or saw any offered to their slaves, except tying them, when
necessary, to keep them from running away. When these people knew we were brother and sister
they indulged us together; and the man, to whom I supposed we belonged, lay with us, he in the
middle, while she and I held one another by the hands across his breast all night; and thus for a while
we forgot our misfortunes in the joy of being together: but even this small comfort was soon to have
an end; for scarcely had the fatal morning appeared, when she was again torn from me for ever! I
was now more miserable, if possible, than before. The small relief which her presence gave me from
pain was gone, and the wretchedness of my situation was redoubled by my anxiety after her fate, and
my apprehensions lest her sufferings should be greater than mine, when I could not be with her to
alleviate them. Yes, thou dear partner of all my childish sports! thou sharer of my joys and sorrows!
happy should I have ever esteemed myself to encounter every misery for you, and to procure your
freedom by the sacrifice of my own. Though you were early forced from my arms, your image has
been always rivetted in my heart, from which neither time nor fortune have been able to remove it;
so that, while the thoughts of your sufferings have damped my prosperity, they have mingled with
adversity and increased its bitterness. To that Heaven which protects the weak from the strong, I
commit the care of your innocence and virtues, if they have not already received their full reward,
and if your youth and delicacy have not long since fallen victims to the violence of the African
trader, the pestilential stench of a Guinea ship, the seasoning in the European colonies, or the lash
and lust of a brutal and unrelenting overseer.
I did not long remain after my sister. I was again sold, and carried through a number of places, till,
after travelling a considerable time, I came to a town called Tinmah, in the most beautiful country I
have yet seen in Africa. It was extremely rich, and there were many rivulets which flowed through it,
and supplied a large pond in the centre of the town, where the people washed. Here I first saw and
tasted cocoa-nuts, which I thought superior to any nuts I had ever tasted before; and the trees, which
were loaded, were also interspersed amongst the houses, which had commodious shades adjoining,
and were in the same manner as ours, the insides being neatly plastered and whitewashed. Here I
also saw and tasted for the first time sugar-cane. Their money consisted of little white shells, the size
of the finger nail. I was sold here for one hundred and seventy-two of them by a merchant who lived
and brought me there. I had been about two or three days at his house, when a wealthy widow, a
neighbour of his, came there one evening, and brought with her an only son, a young gentleman
about my own age and size. Here they saw me; and, having taken a fancy to me, I was bought of the
merchant, and went home with them. Her house and premises were situated close to one of those
rivulets I have mentioned, and were the finest I ever saw in Africa: they were very extensive, and she
had a number of slaves to attend her. The next day I was washed and perfumed, and when meal-time
came I was led into the presence of my mistress, and ate and drank before her with her son. This
filled me with astonishment; and I could scarce help expressing my surprise that the young
gentleman should suffer me, who was bound, to eat with him who was free; and not only so, but that
he would not at any time either eat or drink till I had taken first, because I was the eldest, which was
agreeable to our custom. Indeed every thing here, and all their treatment of me, made me forget that I
was a slave. The language of these people resembled ours so nearly, that we understood each other
perfectly. They had also the very same customs as we. There were likewise slaves daily to attend us,
while my young master and I with other boys sported with our darts and bows and arrows, as I had
been used to do at home. In this resemblance to my former happy state I passed about two months;
and I now began to think I was to be adopted into the family, and was beginning to be reconciled to
my situation, and to forget by degrees my misfortunes, when all at once the delusion vanished; for,
without the least previous knowledge, one morning early, while my dear master and companion was
still asleep, I was wakened out of my reverie to fresh sorrow, and hurried away even amongst the
Thus, at the very moment I dreamed of the greatest happiness, I found myself most miserable; and it
seemed as if fortune wished to give me this taste of joy, only to render the reverse more poignant.
The change I now experienced was as painful as it was sudden and unexpected. It was a change
indeed from a state of bliss to a scene which is inexpressible by me, as it discovered to me an
element I had never before beheld, and till then had no idea of, and wherein such instances of
hardship and cruelty continually occurred as I can never reflect on but with horror.
All the nations and people I had hitherto passed through resembled our own in their manners,
customs, and language: but I came at length to a country, the inhabitants of which differed from us in
all those particulars. I was very much struck with this difference, especially when I came among a
people who did not circumcise, and ate without washing their hands. They cooked also in iron pots,
and had European cutlasses and cross bows, which were unknown to us, and fought with their fists
amongst themselves. Their women were not so modest as ours, for they ate, and drank, and slept,
with their men. But, above all, I was amazed to see no sacrifices or offerings among them. In some
of those places the people ornamented themselves with scars, and likewise filed their teeth very
sharp. They wanted sometimes to ornament me in the same manner, but I would not suffer them;
hoping that I might some time be among a people who did not thus disfigure themselves, as I
thought they did. At last I came to the banks of a large river, which was covered with canoes, in
which the people appeared to live with their household utensils and provisions of all kinds. I was
beyond measure astonished at this, as I had never before seen any water larger than a pond or a
rivulet: and my surprise was mingled with no small fear when I was put into one of these canoes, and
we began to paddle and move along the river. We continued going on thus till night; and when we
came to land, and made fires on the banks, each family by themselves, some dragged their canoes on
shore, others stayed and cooked in theirs, and laid in them all night. Those on the land had mats, of
which they made tents, some in the shape of little houses: in these we slept; and after the morning
meal we embarked again and proceeded as before. I was often very much astonished to see some of
the women, as well as the men, jump into the water, dive to the bottom, come up again, and swim
about. Thus I continued to travel, sometimes by land, sometimes by water, through different
countries and various nations, till, at the end of six or seven months after I had been kidnapped, I
arrived at the sea coast. It would be tedious and uninteresting to relate all the incidents which befell
me during this journey, and which I have not yet forgotten; of the various hands I passed through,
and the manners and customs of all the different people among whom I lived: I shall therefore only
observe, that in all the places where I was the soil was exceedingly rich; the pomkins, eadas,
plantains, yams, &c. &c. were in great abundance, and of incredible size. There were also vast
quantities of different gums, though not used for any purpose; and every where a great deal of
tobacco. The cotton even grew quite wild; and there was plenty of redwood. I saw no mechanics
whatever in all the way, except such as I have mentioned. The chief employment in all these
countries was agriculture, and both the males and females, as with us, were brought up to it, and
trained in the arts of war.
The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship,
which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which
was soon converted into terror when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled and tossed
up to see if I were sound by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a
world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too differing so much
from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, (which was very different from any I had
ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed such were the horrors of my views and fears
at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them
all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country. When I
looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace or copper boiling, and a multitude of black people
of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and
sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell
motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little I found some black people about me,
who I believed were some of those who brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they
talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those
white men with horrible looks, red faces, and loose hair. They told me I was not; and one of the crew
brought me a small portion of spirituous liquor in a wine glass; but, being afraid of him, I would not
take it out of his hand. One of the blacks therefore took it from him and gave it to me, and I took a
little down my palate, which, instead of reviving me, as they thought it would, threw me into the
greatest consternation at the strange feeling it produced, having never tasted any such liquor before.
Soon after this the blacks who brought me on board went off, and left me abandoned to despair. I
now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the least glimpse
of hope of gaining the shore, which I now considered as friendly; and I even wished for my former
slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still
heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I
was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had
never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I
became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste any thing. I now
wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered
me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across I
think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely. I had never experienced
any thing of this kind before; and although, not being used to the water, I naturally feared that
element the first time I saw it, yet nevertheless, could I have got over the nettings, I would have
jumped over the side, but I could not; and, besides, the crew used to watch us very closely who were
not chained down to the decks, lest we should leap into the water: and I have seen some of these
poor African prisoners most severely cut for attempting to do so, and hourly whipped for not eating.
This indeed was often the case with myself. In a little time after, amongst the poor chained men, I
found some of my own nation, which in a small degree gave ease to my mind. I inquired of these
what was to be done with us; they gave me to understand we were to be carried to these white
people’s country to work for them. I then was a little revived, and thought, if it were no worse than
working, my situation was not so desperate: but still I feared I should be put to death, the white
people looked and acted, as I thought, in so savage a manner; for I had never seen among any people
such instances of brutal cruelty; and this not only shewn towards us blacks, but also to some of the
whites themselves. One white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck,
flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it; and
they tossed him over the side as they would have done a brute. This made me fear these people the
more; and I expected nothing less than to be treated in the same manner. I could not help expressing
my fears and apprehensions to some of my countrymen: I asked them if these people had no country,
but lived in this hollow place (the ship): they told me they did not, but came from a distant one.
‘Then,’ said I, ‘how comes it in all our country we never heard of them?’ They told me because they
lived so very far off. I then asked where were their women? had they any like themselves? I was told
they had: ‘and why,’ said I,’do we not see them?’ they answered, because they were left behind. I
asked how the vessel could go? they told me they could not tell; but that there were cloths put upon
the masts by the help of the ropes I saw, and then the vessel went on; and the white men had some
spell or magic they put in the water when they liked in order to stop the vessel. I was exceedingly
amazed at this account, and really thought they were spirits. I therefore wished much to be from
amongst them, for I expected they would sacrifice me: but my wishes were vain; for we were so
quartered that it was impossible for any of us to make our escape. While we stayed on the coast I
was mostly on deck; and one day, to my great astonishment, I saw one of these vessels coming in
with the sails up. As soon as the whites saw it, they gave a great shout, at which we were amazed;
and the more so as the vessel appeared larger by approaching nearer. At last she came to an anchor in
my sight, and when the anchor was let go I and my countrymen who saw it were lost in astonishment
to observe the vessel stop; and were not convinced it was done by magic. Soon after this the other
ship got her boats out, and they came on board of us, and the people of both ships seemed very glad
to see each other. Several of the strangers also shook hands with us black people, and made motions
with their hands, signifying I suppose we were to go to their country; but we did not understand
them. At last, when the ship we were in had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many fearful
noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel. But
this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we were on the coast
was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had
been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ship’s cargo were
confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the
climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn
himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit
for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of
which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers.
This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become
insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost
suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of
horror almost inconceivable. Happily perhaps for myself I was soon reduced so low here that it was
thought necessary to keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in
fetters. In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom
were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an
end to my miseries. Often did I think many of the inhabitants of the deep much more happy than
myself. I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition
for theirs. Every circumstance I met with served only to render my state more painful, and heighten
my apprehensions, and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites. One day they had taken a number of
fishes; and when they had killed and satisfied themselves with as many as they thought fit, to our
astonishment who were on the deck, rather than give any of them to us to eat as we expected, they
tossed the remaining fish into the sea again, although we begged and prayed for some as well as we
could, but in vain; and some of my countrymen, being pressed by hunger, took an opportunity, when
they thought no one saw them, of trying to get a little privately; but they were discovered, and the
attempt procured them some very severe floggings. One day, when we had a smooth sea and
moderate wind, two of my wearied countrymen who were chained together (I was near them at the
time), preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings and jumped into
the sea: immediately another quite dejected fellow, who, on account of his illness, was suffered to be
out of irons, also followed their example; and I believe many more would very soon have done the
same if they had not been prevented by the ship’s crew, who were instantly alarmed. Those of us that
were the most active were in a moment put down under the deck, and there was such a noise and
confusion amongst the people of the ship as I never heard before, to stop her, and get the boat out to
go after the slaves. However two of the wretches were drowned, but they got the other, and
afterwards flogged him unmercifully for thus attempting to prefer death to slavery. In this manner we
continued to undergo more hardships than I can now relate, hardships which are inseparable from
this accursed trade. Many a time we were near suffocation from the want of fresh air, which we were
often without for whole days together. This, and the stench of the necessary tubs, carried off many.
During our passage I first saw flying fishes, which surprised me very much: they used frequently to
fly across the ship, and many of them fell on the deck. I also now first saw the use of the quadrant; I
had often with astonishment seen the mariners make observations with it, and I could not think what
it meant. They at last took notice of my surprise; and one of them, willing to increase it, as well as to
gratify my curiosity, made me one day look through it. The clouds appeared to me to be land, which
disappeared as they passed along. This heightened my wonder; and I was now more persuaded than
ever that I was in another world, and that every thing about me was magic. At last we came in sight
of the island of Barbadoes, at which the whites on board gave a great shout, and made many signs of
joy to us. We did not know what to think of this; but as the vessel drew nearer we plainly saw the
harbour, and other ships of different kinds and sizes; and we soon anchored amongst them off Bridge
Town. Many merchants and planters now came on board, though it was in the evening. They put us
in separate parcels, and examined us attentively. They also made us jump, and pointed to the land,
signifying we were to go there. We thought by this we should be eaten by these ugly men, as they

appeared to us; and, when soon after we were all put down under the deck again, there was much
dread and trembling among us, and nothing but bitter cries to be heard all the night from these
apprehensions, insomuch that at last the white people got some old slaves from the land to pacify us.
They told us we were not to be eaten, but to work, and were soon to go on land, where we should see
many of our country people. This report eased us much; and sure enough, soon after we were landed,
there came to us Africans of all languages. We were conducted immediately to the merchant’s yard,
where we were all pent up together like so many sheep in a fold, without regard to sex or age. As
every object was new to me every thing I saw filled me with surprise. What struck me first was that
the houses were built with stories, and in every other respect different from those in Africa: but I was
still more astonished on seeing people on horseback. I did not know what this could mean; and
indeed I thought these people were full of nothing but magical arts. While I was in this astonishment
one of my fellow prisoners spoke to a countryman of his about the horses, who said they were the
same kind they had in their country. I understood them, though they were from a distant part of
Africa, and I thought it odd I had not seen any horses there; but afterwards, when I came to converse
with different Africans, I found they had many horses amongst them, and much larger than those I
then saw. We were not many days in the merchant’s custody before we were sold after their usual
manner, which is this:—On a signal given,(as the beat of a drum) the buyers rush at once into the
yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and
clamour with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers,
serve not a little to increase the apprehensions of the terrified Africans, who may well be supposed to
consider them as the ministers of that destruction to which they think themselves devoted. In this
manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other
again. I remember in the vessel in which I was brought over, in the men’s apartment, there were
several brothers, who, in the sale, were sold in different lots; and it was very moving on this occasion
to see and hear their cries at parting. O, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you, learned
you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you?
Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends to toil for your luxury and lust of gain?
Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice? Are the dearest friends and
relations, now rendered more dear by their separation from their kindred, still to be parted from each
other, and thus prevented from cheering the gloom of slavery with the small comfort of being
together and mingling their sufferings and sorrows? Why are parents to lose their children, brothers
their sisters, or husbands their wives? Surely this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has
no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the
wretchedness of slavery.

author is carried to Virginia—His distress—Surprise at seeing a picture and a
watch—Is bought by Captain Pascal, and sets out for England—His terror during the
voyage—Arrives in England—His wonder at a fall of snow—Is sent to Guernsey, and
#in some time goes on board a ship of war with his master—Some account of the
expedition against Louisbourg under the command of Admiral Boscawen, in 1758.
I now totally lost the small remains of comfort I had enjoyed in conversing with my countrymen; the
women too, who used to wash and take care of me, were all gone different ways, and I never saw
one of them afterwards.

I stayed in this island for a few days; I believe it could not be above a fortnight; when I and some
few more slaves, that were not saleable amongst the rest, from very much fretting, were shipped off
in a sloop for North America. On the passage we were better treated than when we were coming
from Africa, and we had plenty of rice and fat pork. We were landed up a river a good way from the
sea, about Virginia county, where we saw few or none of our native Africans, and not one soul who
could talk to me. I was a few weeks weeding grass, and gathering stones in a plantation; and at last
all my companions were distributed different ways, and only myself was left. I was now exceedingly
miserable, and thought myself worse off than any of the rest of my companions; for they could talk

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