The Algerine captive; or, The life and adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: six years a prisoner among the Algerines. [Three lines from Shakespeare] : Vol. I[-II]. : Published according to act of Congress.
Tyler, Royall, 1757-1826., Humphreys, David, 1752-1818, dedicatee.
Page  205


Chains are the portion of revolted man;
Stripes and a dungeon.


The Author taken Captive by the Algerines.

NEAR the close of the fourteenth of November, one thousand seven hun|dred and eighty eight, as the sun was sink|ing behind the mountains of Fundia, I sat at the door of my tent, and perceived our ship, which lay at one mile's distance, getting under way, apparently in great haste. The jolly boat, about ten min|utes before, had made towards the shore; but was recalled by a musket shot from the ship. Alarmed by this unexpected manoeu|vre, I ran to the top of a small hill, back of the hospital, and plainly discovered a square rigged vessel in the offing, endeav|ouring Page  206 to lock our ship within the land; but a land breeze springing up from the north east, which did not extend to the strange vessel, and our ship putting out all her light sails, being well provided with king sail, scudding sails, water sails, and driver, I could perceive she out sailed her. It was soon so dark that I lost sight of both, and I passed a night of extreme anxiety, which was increased by, what I conjectured to be, the flashes of guns in the south west; though at too great dis|tance for me to hear the reports.

The next morning no vessels were to be seen on the coast, and the ensuing day was spent in a state of dreadful suspense. Although I had provisions enough with me for some weeks, and was sheltered by our tents, yet to be separated from my friends and country, perhaps forever, and to fall into the hands of the barbarous people, which infested this coast, was tru|ly alarming. The five Africans, who Page  207 were with me, could not conceal their joy, at the departure of the ship. By signs they manifested their affection to|wards me; and, when I signified to them that the vessel was gone not to return, they clapped their hands, and pointing inland, signified a desire to convey me to their native country, where they were sure I should be happy. By their con|sultation, I could see that they were to|tally ignorant of the way. On the third day towards evening, to my great joy, I saw a sail approaching the shore, at the prospect of which my African associates, manifested every sign of horrour. I im|mediately concluded that no great blame would arise, from my not detaining five men, in the absence of the ship; and I intimated to them that they might con|ceal themselves in the brush and escape. Four quitted me; but one, who made me comprehend, that he had a beloved son among the slaves, refused to go, prefering Page  208 the company of his child, and slavery it|self, to freedom and the land of his nativi|ty. I retired to rest, pleased with the imagination of soon rejoining my friends, and proceeding to my native country. On the morning of the fourth day, as I was sleeping in my tent with the affec|tionate negro at my feet, I was suddenly awakened, by the blowing of conch shells, and the sound of uncouth voices. I a|rose to dress myself, when the tent was overset, and I received a blow from the back of a sabre, which levelled me to the earth; and was immediately seized and bound by several men of sallow and fierce demeanour, in strange habits, who spake a language I could not compre|hend. With the negro, tents, baggage, and provisions, I was carried to the boat, which, being loaded, was immediately pushed off from the shore, and rowed to|wards a vessel, which I now, for the first time, noticed, and had no doubt but it was Page  209 the same, which was in pursuit of the Sympathy. She was rigged differently from any I had ever seen, having two masts, a large square main sail, another of equal size, seized by the middle of a main yard to her fore mast, and, what the sail|ors call, a shoulder of mutton sail abaft; which, with top sails and two banks of oars, impelled her through the water with amazing velocity: though, from the clumsiness of her rigging, an American seaman would never have pronounced her a good sea boat. On her main mast head was a broad black pennant, with a half moon, or rather crescent, and a drawn sabre, in white and red, emblazoned in the middle. The sides of the vessel were manned as we approached, and a tackle be|ing let down, the hook was attached to the cord, which bound me, and I was hoisted on board in the twinkling of an eye. Then, being unbound, I was carried upon the quarter deck, where a man, who Page  210 appeared to be the captain, glittering in silks, pearl, and gold, set cross legged upon a velvet cushing to receive me. He was nearly encircled by a band of men, with monstrous tufts of hair on their upper lips, dressed in habits of the same mode with their leader's, but of coarser contex|ture, with drawn scimitars in their hands, and by his side a man of lighter complex|ion, who, by the captain's command, in|quired of me, in good English, if I was an Englishman. I replied I was an A|merican, a citizen of the United States. This was no sooner interpreted to the captain than, at a disdainful nod of his head, I was again seized, hand cuffed, and thrust into a dirty hole in the fore castle, where I lay twenty four hours, without straw to sleep on, or any thing to eat or drink. The treatment we gave the unhappy Africans, on board the Sympathy, now came full into my mind; and, what was the more mortifying, I dis|covered Page  211 that the negro who was, captured with me, was at liberty, and fared as well as the sailors on board the vessel. I had not however been confined more than one half hour, when the interpreter came to examine me privately respecting the destination of the ship, to which he sus|pected I belonged; was anxious to know if she had her full cargo of slaves; what was her force; whether she had English papers on board; and if she did not in|tend to stop at some other African port. From him I learned that I was cap|tured by an Algerine Rover, Hamed Ha|li Saad captain; and should be carried into slavery at Algiers. After I had lain twenty four hours in this loathsome place, covered with vermin, parched with thirst, and fainting with hunger, I was startled at a light, let through the hatchway, which opened softly, and a hand presented me a cloth, dripping with cold water, in which a small quantity of boiled rice was Page  212 wrapped. The door closed again softly, and I was left to enjoy my good fortune in the dark. If Abraham had indeed sent Lazarus to the rich man, in torment, it appears to me, he could not have received a greater pleasure, from the cool water on his tongue, than I experienced, in sucking the moisture from this cloth. The next day, the same kindly hand ap|peared again, with the same refreshment. I begged to see my benefactor. The door opened further, and I saw a countenance in tears. It was the face of the grateful African, who was taken with me. I was oppressed with gratitude. Is this, ex|claimed I, one of those men, whom we are taught to vilify as beneath the human species, who brings me sustenance, per|haps at the risk of his life, who shares his morsel with one of those barbarous men, who had recently torn him from all he held dear, and whose base companions are now transporting his darling son to Page  213 a grievous slavery? Grant me, I ejacu|lated, once more to taste the freedom of my native country, and every moment of my life shall be dedicated to preaching against this detestable commerce. I will fly to our fellow citizens in the southern states; I will, on my knees, conjure them, in the name of humanity, to abolish a trafic, which causes it to bleed in every pore. If they are deaf to the pleadings of nature, I will conjure them, for the sake of consistency, to cease to deprive their fellow creatures of freedom, which their writers, their orators, representatives, senators, and even their constitutions of government, have declared to be the un|alienable birth right of man. My sable friend had no occasion to visit me a third time; for I was taken from my confine|ment, and, after being stripped of the few clothes, and the little property I chanced to have about me, a log was fastened to my leg by a chain, and I was permitted Page  214 to walk the fore castle of the vessel, with the African and several Spanish and Por|tuguese prisoners. The treatment of the slaves, who plied the oars, the man|agement of the vessel, the order which was observed among this ferocious race, and some notices of our voyage, might af|ford observations, which would be highly gratifying to my readers, if the limits of this work would permit. I will just ob|serve however that the regularity and fre|quency of their devotion was astonishing to me, who had been taught to consider this people as the most blasphemous infidels. In ten days after I was captured, the Ro|ver passed up the straits of Gibralter, and I heard the garrison evening gun fired from that formidable rock; and the next morn|ing hove in sight of the city of Algiers.