The Author Dreameth whilst Awake.
THE higher his rank in socie|ty, the further is man removed from na|ture. Grandeur draws a circle round the great, and often excludes from them the finer feelings of the heart. The wretch|ed are all of one family; and ever regard each other as brethren. Among the slaves of my new master, I was received Page 27 with pity, and treated with tenderness, bordering upon fraternal affection. They could not indeed speak my language, and I was ignorant of theirs; but, by dividing the scanty meal, composing my couch of straw, and alleviating my more rugged la|bours, they spake that universal language of benevolence, which needs no linguist to interpret.
It is true, I did not meet, among my fellow slaves, the rich and the noble, as the dramatist and the novelist had taught me to expect. To betray a weakness I will confess that, sometime after I was captured, I often suffered fancy to cheat me of my "weary moments," by por|traying those scenes, which had often a|mused me in my closet, and delighted me on the stage. Sometimes, I even contem|plated with pleasure the company and converse of my fellow slaves. I expected to find them men of rank at least, if not of learning. I fancied my master's cook Page 28 an English lord; his valet an Italian duke; his groom a knight of Malta; and even his foot boy some little lively French marquis. I fancied my future master's head gardener, taking me one side, pro|fessing the warmest friendship, and telling me in confidence that he was a Spanish Don with forty noble names; that he had fallen in love with my master's fair daughter, whose mother was a christian slave; that the young lady was equally charmed with him; that she was to rob her father of a rich casket of jewels, there being no dishonour in stealing from an infidel; jump into his arms in boy's clothes that very night, and escape by a vessel, already provided, to his native country. I saw in imagination all this accomplished. I saw the lady descend the rope ladder; heard the old man and his servants pursue; saw the lady carried off breathless in the arms of her knight; arrive safe in Spain; was present at the Page 29 lady's baptism into the catholic church, and at her marriage with her noble deliv|erer. I was myself almost stifled with the caresses of the noble family, for the part I had borne in this perilous adventure; and in fine married to Donna some body, the Don's beautiful sister; returned into my own country, loaded with beauty and riches; and perhaps was aroused from my reverie by a poor fellow slave, whose ex|treme ignorance had almost blunted the sensibility of his own wretchedness.
Indeed, so sweet were the delusions of my own fancy, I am loth to destroy the innocent gratification, which the read|ers of novels and plays enjoy from the works of a Behn and a Colman; but the sober character of the historian compels me to assure my readers that, whatever may have happened in the sixteenth cen|tury, I never saw during my captivity, a man of any rank, family, or fortune a|mong the menial slaves. The Dey, as I Page 30 have already observed, selecting his tenth prisoner from those, who would most probably afford the richest ransom, those concerned in the captures are influenced by the same motive. All, who may be expected to be ransomed, are deprived of this liberty, it is true; but fed, clothed, and never put to manual labour, except as a punishment for some actual crime, or attempting to recover their lib|erty. The menial slaves are generally composed of the dregs of those nations, with whom they are at war; but, though my fellow slaves were grossly illiterate, I must do them the justice to say, they had learned well the kinder virtues: those vir|tues, which schools and colleges often fail to teach, which, as Aristotle well observes, are like a flame of fire. Light them up in whatever climate you will, they burn and shine ever the same.