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signation of a Christian ; for, in my gayest moments, I have never failed to remember that my life was an uncertain tenure, to be claimed, perhaps, at a, moment's warning. - But what say you, my boy, to my proposal ? or rather, what says your mother? she must determine this business. I never yet engaged a lad without the consent of his parents, nor will I begin now; for a good conscience makes us sail lightly, but an evil one is a very troublesome companion in a storm ; so I don't choose to be plagued with it.”
“Good Sir," answered my aunt, “ this poor boy is now my all.”
“ Why, then, you should endeavour to make a man of him," returned he; “but I would by no means persuade you: give this business a week's reflection, and let me know the result. If you trust him to me, I will be his friend; or if you prefer putting him an apprentice, I will pay his premium, for the sake of his honest fa. ther."
“ I need not tell you, Sir, how happy they returned home, at least William ; for my aunt was rather at a loss to choose : she was unwilling to let her son go to sea, yet she well knew the value of the Captain's word, when he said he would be his friend, for he always performed yet more than he promised : my cousin too plainly showed which way his wishes tended, for the Captain's goodness had quite gained his heart.
“ In the evening I called to know the result of their walk to town, and am ashamed to confess, that though I loved my cousin, I envied his success, and instantly formed the resolution that I also would go to sea; never considering that I had no one to recommend me, nor yet that I should take the curse of disobedience with me.
-Not to intrude on your patience, Sir, my aunt at length consented to let William go. Before he sailed, he came to pay us a farewell visit ; so smart and gay in his new jacket and trowsers, that if I was envious before, I was now doubly so; and, to complete the whole, he had not only plenty of money in his pocket, but an order for his mother to receive a guinea every month of the Captain's agent during his absence. Both wept bitterly at parting, and William declared, he would willingly give up all rather than see her so distressed. At length, finding her something more composed, he said, “ Bless me, my dear mother! with God's guidance, and so good a master, I can apprehend nothing: keep up your spirits ; I have no fear of returning well and happy."
“ I trust you will,” answered my aunt, “ for
you have ever been a dutiful, indus. trious child, and God's blessing will rest upon you.
Go, then, be prosperous and happy."
“ As she spoke, she loosed him from her, and unable to say farewel, he waved his hand and left us.
My whole thoughts were now 'em. ployed how to get away to sea; neither the kindness of my master, nor the distress my mother must suffer on my account, had the least weight with me: and one fine morning, taking my best clothes, and about half-a-guinea I had saved for this purpose, I set off for London unknown to any one.
I soon inquired out the shipping, and meeting a sea-faring man, told him my business; and as he advised, I entered; on which he gave me a guinea, and kept me to dinner. “ This specimen delighted me;
I thought my fortune made ; and the day passed jovially, drinking more than ever I had done in my life; so that towards evening I was intoxicated, and in that state took on board of ship. The liquor I had drank made me sleep soundly till morning, when I awoke much disordered: I had been accustomed to the utmost regularity, a clean bed, and a good breakfast; — here I had drank like a beast, and been thrown into a dirty hammock with my clothes on, and had no breakfast offered me; and, to complete all, could scarcely stand from the agonies I suffered in
my head and stomach, the natural con.
of my intemperance. I, how. ever, put as good a face on the matter as possible, and was ordered to work, for we were fitting for sea, until before night I was completely weary, and began to repent of my folly; but repentance was too late, for I could not now even get a line to my mother ; the newly entered sailors being all closely watched for fear of desertion; what put it yet more out of my power was, that in a few days we cleared the river and went to sea. William's Captain, I have already told you, Sir, was the best of men; mine was one of the most violent and severe in the whole navy; and, for my own part, having been accustomed to indulgence, and naturally a lover of idleness, I found my situation dreadful beyond description : for I was forced to labour hard, rise at all hours, face every inclemency of the weather; and, yet however careful, met many kicks, and strokes across the shoulders with a rope's end, for
awkwardness, in the course of the day; -and, what