AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
The Author plans an Escape.
I FOUND many more slaves at work in the stone quarry, than when I Page 70 quitted it; and the labours and hard fare seemed, if possible, to be augmented. The ease and comfort, with which I lived for some weeks past, had vitiated my appetite, softened my hands, and relaxed my whole frame, so that my coarse fare and rugged labours seemed more insupportable. I nauseated our homely food, and the skin peeled from my hands and shoulders. I made what inquiries I could, as to the interiour geography of the country, and comforted myself with theh ope of escape; conceiving it, under my desperate circum|stances, possible to penetrate unobserved the interiour country, by the eastern boundaries of the kingdom of Morocco, and then pass on south west, until I struck the river Sanaga, and coursing that to its mouth I knew would bring me to some of the European settlements near Goree or Cape Verd. Preparatory to my intend|ed escape I had procured an old goat's skin, which to make into something like a Page 71 knapsack, I deprived myself of many hours of necessary sleep; and of many a scanty meal to fill it with provisions. By the use of my Lingua Franca and a lit|tle Arabic, I hoped to obtain the assist|ance of the slaves and lower orders of the people, through whom I might journey. The only insurmountable difficulty in my projects was to elude the vigilance of our overseers. By a kind of roll call the slaves were numbered every night and morning, and at meal times: but, very fortunate|ly, a probable opportunity of escaping unnoticed soon offered. It was announced to the slaves that in three days time there would be a day of rest, a holiday, when they would be allowed to recreate them|selves in the fields. This intelligence diffused general joy. I received it with rapture. I doubled my diligence in my preparations; and, in the afternoon pre|vious to this fortunate day, I contrived to place my little stock of provisions under Page 72 a rock at a small distance from the quarry. At sunset we were all admitted to bathe, and I retired to my repose with bright hopes of freedom in my heart, which were suc|ceeded by the most pleasing dreams of my native land. That Beneficent Being, who brightens the slumbers of the wretched with rays of bliss, can alone express my raptures, when, in the visions of that night, I stepped lightly over a father's thresh|hold; was surrounded by congratulating friends and faithful domestics; was press|ed by the embraces of a father; and with holy joy felt a mother's tears moisten my cheek.
Early in the dawn of the morning, I was awakened by the congratulations of my fellows, who immediately collected in small groups, planning out the intended amusements of the day. Scarce had they portioned the little space alloted to ease, according their various inclinations, when an express order came from our Page 73 master that we should go under the im|mediate direction of our overseers, to a plain, about five miles distance, to be present at a publick spectacle. This was a grievous disappointment to them, and more especially to me. I buoyed up my spirits however with the hopes that, in the hurry and crowd, I might find means to escape, which, although I knew I could not return for my knapsack, I was resolved to attempt, having a little millet and two onions in my pocket.