The Author is encountered by a Renegado: Struggles between Faith, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
AS I was drooping under my daily task, I saw a young man habited in the Turkish dress, whose clear skin and florid cheek convinced me he was not a native of the country; whose mild air and manners betrayed nothing of the fe|rocity of the renegado. The stile of his turban pronounced him a Mahometan; but the look of pity, he cast towards the Page 41 christian slaves, was entirely inconsistent with the pious hauteur of the mussulman; for christian dog is expressed as strongly by the features as the tongue of him, they call a true believer. He arrested my atten|tion. For a moment I suspended my la|bour. At the same moment, an unmer|ciful lash, from the whip of the slave driv|er, recalled my attention to my work, and excited his, who was the cause of my neg|lect. At his approach, the slave driver quitted me. The stranger accosted me, and in good English commisserated my distresses, which, he said, he should de|plore the more, if they were remediless. When a man is degraded to the most ab|ject slavery, lost to his friends, neglected by his country, and can anticipate no rest but in the grave, is not his situation rem|ediless, I replied? Renounce the Chris|tian, and embrace the Mahometan faith; you are no longer a slave, and the de|lights of life await you, retorted he. You Page 42 see me. I am an Englishman. For three years after my captivity, like you, I groaned under the lash of the slave driv|er; I ate the scanty morsel of bitterness, moistened with my tears. Borne down by the complicated ills of hunger and severe labour, I was carried to the infir|mary for slaves, to breathe my last, where I was visited by a Mollah or Mahometan priest. He pitied the misfortunes of a wretch, who, he said, had suffered a cruel existence, in this life, and had no rational hopes of exchanging it for a better, in the world to come. He opened the great truths of the mussulman faith. By his assistance I recovered my health, and was received a|mong the faithful. Embraced and protect|ed by the rich and powerful, I have now a house in the city, a country residence on the Saffran, two beautiful wives, a train of domestics; and a respectable place in the Dey's customs defrays the expense. Come, added he, let me send Page 43 my friend, the Mollah, to you. He will remove your scruples, and, in a few days, you will be as free and happy as I am. I looked at him with astonishment. I had ever viewed the character of an a|postate as odious and detestable. I turn|ed from him with abhorrence, and for once embraced my burthen with pleasure. Indeed I pity you, said he. I sorrow for your distresses, and pity your preju|dices. I pity you too, replied I, the tears standing in my eyes. My body is in slave|ry, but my mind is free. Your body is at liberty, but your soul is in the most abject slavery, in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. You have sold your God for filthy lucre; and "what shall it profit you, if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, or what shall a man give in ex|change for his soul." I respect your prej|udices, said the stranger, because I have been subject to them myself. I was born in Birmingham in England, and educated a Page 44 rigid dissenter. No man is more subject to prejudice than an Englishman, and no sec|tary more obstinately attached to his tenets than the dissenter. But I have conversed with the Mollah, and I am convinced of the errours of my education. Converse with him likewise. If he does not convince you, you may glory in the christian faith; as that faith will be then founded on ra|tional preference, and not merely on your ignorance of any other religious system. Suggest the least desire to converse with the Mollah, and an order from the Mufti will come to your master. You will be clothed and fed at the public expense; be lodged one month in the college of the priest; and not returned to your labours, until the priest shall declare you incorrigible. He then left me. The heat increased, and my strength wast|ed. The prospect of some alleviation from labour, and perhaps a curiosity to hear what could be said in favour of so Page 45 detestably ridiculous a system, as the Mahometan imposture, induced me, when I saw the Englishman again, to signify my consent to converse with the Mollah.