A journal, of the captivity and sufferings of John Foss; several years a prisoner at Algiers: together with some account of the treatment of Christian slaves when sick:-- and observations of the manners and customs of the Algerines. : [Eight lines of verse]
Foss, John, d. 1800., Paine, Robert Treat, 1773-1811., Citizen of Newburyport. Algerine slaves., Algeria. Treaties, etc. United States. 1795 Sept. 5.
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ASSIST my muse, assist the Captive's lay,
To sing that awful, that distressing day;
When 'twas our hap,—so order'd cruel fate,
To bow obedient to those sons of hate,
Those Turkish rovers, robbers of the main,
And wear the galling, peace-destroying chain:
To bear the scoffs, the cruel taunts of those
True sons of Ishmael, and to feast on woes.
To taste the sour crumb—sad pois'nous fare,
And lieu of rest, find anguish and despair.
Such was our hapless, such our cruel state,
And such the tale the captive does relate.
OUR native coast we'd left with all that glee,
Known only to those lads who live on sea;
Who sail advent'rous o'er the briny main,
A competence thro life's sad vale to gain.
Whose strong-nerv'd hearts all dangers brave,
The mountain-sea—the curling wave—
Whom deathfulbillows ne'er were knownt' appal
The swell tremendous, or the thund'ring squall.
Page  178 We'd shap'd our course for Cadiz, for 'twas there
Our Bark was bound, nor heeded danger near;
Swift thro' the foaming waves she makes her way,
And gales propitious mark each coming day.
Our days we spend in pastime, and in play,
While cheering songs beguile the hours away;
And tales of humour dress'd in sailor stile,
The lonesome hours of gloomy night beguile.
As near St. Vincent's Cape we made our way,
(While ev'ry heart was jovial, light and gay.)
Expecting soon to reach our destined port,
Thence quick return, and with our friends resort;
But sad reverse—we soon descry'd a sail,
Of form uncommon with a favoured gale,
After two Brigs—these we had spoke before,
For Barcelona bound, from Elsinore,
With keenest eyes each sailor view'd her well,
But who, or what she was, no one could tell.
She quit the Brigs and having ours in view,
Made sail for us—Now how or what to do,
No one on board could tell, no one devise—
To fly was vain—'twas therefore deem'd most wise.
Our sails to clue, and patiently to wait,
Her near approach, and our (yet unknown) fate.
Quick thro the liquid waves she made her way,
So eagles haste when in pursuit of prey,
With wide-spread canvass, and inflated sail,
Page  179 She soon approach'd and quickly gave us hail?
When this we heard, (in language like our own)
A beam of hope in ev'ry count'nance shown!
But on her near approach, the vision fled;
Our eyes beheld with wonder, and with dread,
Those tawney moors, whose dress and bearded hue
Soon spoke the place from whence th' infernal crew.
Judge ye, who've known, or ye who've yet to know,
What 'tis to drink the bitter cup of woe;
What must our feelings be at this sad sight,
What anxious boding, what extreme affright,
For 'twas not death, that we had now to fear,
But slav'ry dreadful sounded in each ear!
Now shouting huzzas & such mingled noise,
On board the corsair speak their extreme joys,
Their launch they fill—and arm'd with sword and spear,
Quick rush on board, nor had they ought to fear,
For arms we'd none, our crew but nine in all,
And dire submission now their only all.
Now scenes of villainy pervade each part,
And sighs of anguish fill each captive heart.
When having robb'd and plunder'd o'er and o'er,
Each ev'ry atom of the vessels store,
Page  180 Stripp'd off our clothes—these sons of prlde
Put us on board the launch, and row 'long side
Their Bark; where, by the Turkish hoard
With acclamations we're receiv'd on board,
We're then conducted to the Cabin door,
Where perch'd in state, upon the cabin floor,
Sat their great Chief, whose name, they say
Was, Rais Hudga Mahomet Salamia!
With all the pomp and unaffected pride
Of a true Turk, and ignorance beside,
He told us whence he was, his vessel's name,
And what was ours to expect when there we came,
Slav'ry, more abject that the mind can trace,
The pen pourtray—or human tho't embrace,
But then, said he, "ye Dogs, mean while,
"See that on board my bark ye work and toil,
"Enjoy our fare—for better 'tis, and more
"Than what you'll get, when once you're put on shore."
Our sorrows now in quick succession roll,
And horrors dismal shroud each captive soul.
In vain we hope, in vain we view the wind,
Or "cast one longing, ling'ring look behind."
Our country's gone where freedom's gentle reign
Spreads peace and joy o'er ev'ry happy plain.
Where blest religion, sister of the soul,
Lends her kind aid, and happifies the whole.
Gone—yes, forever gone, and we, no more
Shall hail, Columbia, thy blissful shore,
But spend, in hated slav'ry, spend our days,
Nor once more feel fair freedom's happier rays.
Page  181 Such were the tho'ts which in succession roll
'Cross the forlorn, the abject captive's soul,
While thro the foaming waves with steady gale,
For Algiers' port we hasten'd ev'ry sail.
That nest of pirate-thieves—for O! 'twas there
We were to taste new scenes of deep despair!
To tell our suff'rings here, would be in vain,
That they were great each captive will maintain,
And passing great; but small indeed to those
We had to feel when landed midst our foes.
Arriv'd and landed on the Barb'ry shore,
Our ears were stunn'd with shoutings and up|roar;
With thanks to God, for victories obtain'd,
O'er Christian-dogs, who the true faith dis|dain'd.
The strand was fill'd with thousands, barb'rous crew,
A few dejected prisoners to view!
When brought before the Dey, that hoary Chief
Gave us our orders—this was some relief;
For now our fate was fix'd, 'twas clear & plain
The goad terrific, and the galling chain!
To toil by day—to suffer want and pain,
And all the horrors which the Slaves pertain.
Then having view'd us man by man;
And seem'd each feature to minutely scan,
The bearded chief thus spoke our captive train,
Now e'en depriv'd the priv'lege to complain.
"I long have sought, ye dogs, with anxious zeal,
"Peace with the United States to seal;
"But all my efforts have indeed been vain,
"Therefore you'll not of being slaves complain.—
Page  182 "And now I've got you in my power I swear,
"Ye Christian Dogs, that stones shall be your fare."
Then to the Bagnio—the prison where
The fated slaves at night must all repair,
And stretch'd upon a sorry floor of stone,
Their dismal fate in dismal groans bemoan,
Like sheep, we're drove, & there sad tho't, t' remain
Till our Task-master bids us rise again,
And scenes of woe succeed to scences of pain.
Within the Bagnio's horrid walls, 'twas there
Sat meagre famine, and keen ey'd despair;
Pale, ghastly forms, (urus'd to drudge & toil)
In pensive muse fill'd ev'ry lane and aisle,
An awful silence reign'd—'till in despair,
A captive thus to Heav'n address'd his pray'r:
Thou God of mercy, hear, O hear my prayer;
Thou heeds the Raven's cry—be mine thy care.
Stretch out thine arm—thine own right arm make bare,
And make these wretches tremble while they hear.
Ye sons of Ishmael, how long shall ye remain
The scourge of Christians, robbers of the main?
How long, ye vile, ye worse than savage crew,
Must all the world bow down and stoop to you?
Columbia's God! unsheath thy glitt'ringsword,
Ride on and conquer—speak, O speak the word;
O let a Captive's prayer for once invoke
Page  183
Thy slumb'ring justice to direct the stroke,
On proud Algiers, who seer as in scorn to say,
I sit alone, and make the world obey.
Send quick destruction on this cursed land,
This more than vile, this worse than murd'rous band.
No more let human captives bear th' insulting chain,
No more of woes unparralle'd complain,
Tis thine, O God!—thine is the power,
And thine t' accomplish at the appointed hour!
Then shall thy wrath in vengefulbolts be hurl'd
On proud Algiers! the terror of the world;
Thy city prove a heath, a barren plain,
And naught of all thy grandeur shall remain,
But heaps of stones, where owls may brood,
To point the trav'ler where thy glory stood.
Now various days call various modes of toil,
And goading tyrants urge us on the while,
Sometimes the rock tremenduous we roll
For sev'ral miles, and place it on the mole;
Or chain'd like Oxen, place them on the sled,
Then drag, and place them in their wat'ry bed.
At other times, we're destined to toil
And clear their ships of their ill-gotten spoil.
To lug the contents from their fam'd marine,
And place or stow them in each magazine.
And oft their coarsers clean—their sails repair,
And fit them for their depredat'ry war.
And should the captive dare one moment steal
The Bastinadoe he is sure to feel.
A sorry morsel, made of coarsest bran,
Page  184 Three times a day was giv'n to ev'ry man,
With Vinegar—and this was all our fare,
Could ever sufferings with ours compare?
From morn to night 'twas ours to bear the load
Of toil, and sweat, or feel the vengeful goad.
Thus days of anguish in succession roll,
And hope, e'en hope, scarce glimmers in the soul.
A glimmering ray wou'd sometimes intervene,
Then die away and darken all the scene.
Our years roll on like wave succeeding wave
And as they find so leave us each a slave.
When how shall words sufficiently express
The joy tumultuous which our bosoms press,
When our dear country took an active part
Our chains to break, and raise each sinking heart.
O! how melodious it was to hear
The sounds of Freedom vibrate on the ear,
Not more reviving to the thirsty soul
Is the cool stream where limpid waters roll,
Than were those sounds, which tidings bore,
"Columbia we should see once more!"
Once more our friends, our country view,
And each again his usual trade pursue.
Which bade each slave anticipate the day,
When sweet fruition should his toils repay;
And virgin tears attend each virgin kiss,
And scenes of woe be lost in scenes of bliss.
To send such worthies to our help and aid,
Page  185 Was nobly done—the debt can ne'er be paid,
Humphrey's and Barlow, chiefs, whose fame
Shall bloom, when lesser heroes want a name.
Whose patriot-souls as far 'bove meanness rise
As are the eastern from the western skies.
Nor did they stop—tho' pos'd on ev'ry side,
Till peace was made. Till Turkish pride
Stoop'd to salute our flag, Ne'er did the ear
Sounds more reviving, more majestic hear,
Than we're those thunders, three times seven,
Each seem'd as t'were the voice of Heaven.
But scenes of joy like meteors in the air,
Too oft alas, add darkness to despair!
The treaty's made; but then wer'e doom'd to stay
Until our country does the ransom pay.
When will it come? what may not intervene?
The Dey grow vex'd, and slav'ry end the scene.
Thus months again roll on—no ransom near,
And thus were doom'd to live. 'twixt hope and fear.
When the Grim Chief, impatient grown,
Orders the Consul Barlow, to be gone.
O! who can tell, what pencil can pourtray
Our heart-sunk anguish, and our keen dismay?
All we cou'd dream was slav'ry's galling chain,
Till death shou'd end our mis'ry and our pain!
So the 'lorn wretch, thrown in the foaming wave,
Tries ev'ry art the element to brave,
Exerts each nerve—his brawny arms display,
Page  186 As tow'rd the shore he makes his rapid way;
Still presses on—nor seems to heed the stream,
Buoy'd up by Hope's all-cheering, soothing beam,
Till just arriv'd, and near the craggy steep,
He fainting, sinks in Death's eternal sleep!
At length the ransom's paid, and free once more,
We bid adieu to Barb'ry's cruel shore;
That cursed shore where slav'ry's galling chain
Clanks dismal to the dying captives pain.
Where scenes of anguish grow in ev'ry hour,
Poison each spring, and ev'ry morsel sour,
Where sleep's sweet poppies rarely lend the aid,
To ease the captive when to rest he's laid;
But horrid fancies fill each haggard soul,
And mignight terrors in succession roll.
Where hopes bright taper rarely spreads a gleam
And Slavery dries up each refreshing stream
But e'er we close the scene, the pensive strain
Is due our Brethren fated to remain:
Whose lot it was (so Heav'n saw sit) no more,
Their friends to see, on land or Freedom's shore.
Farewell dear shades! in scenes of woe allied!
No more ye groan beneath tyrannic pride;
No more ye feel the goad—the galling chain,
Nor of your hard, hard sate complain!
Freedom is yours. Death lent his friendly aid,
Page  187 Your chains are broken, and your ransom's paid.
〈◊〉 happy souls, in Regions free as air,
Ye treatise and feast on joys beyond compare.
O great reward! to you to now belongs,
Instead of sighs, to sing triumphant songs,
Instead of anguish and of keen despair,
(Which once was yours to feel, was yours to bear)
What joys celestial now your bosoms move,
'Tis rapture all—'tis extasy and love!
No more ye dread the Bagnio's horrid wall,
No more the captives groans your breasts ap|pall,
But free as air in Paradise above,
Where saints and angels in succession move,
With heav'n key'd notes, ye join in rapt'rous lay,
Angelic anthems to the Prince of Day.
Your Brethren freed, may envy now your state,—
Your state of Bliss,—how great, how passing great,
And wish the time, when freed from every care,
Their souls may join you, and your raptures share.
But scenes of woe enough—turn we awhile
Around and see fair Freedom smile;
A slave no more! no more of woes complain
The scene demands a more enliven'd strain.
Once more arriv'd—and on our native shore,
Page  188 The tide of bliss repays us o'er and o'er:
See the kind wife, no longer doom'd to sigh,
With joy tumultuous to her husband fly.
Kens every part, his every feature trace,
And faints, enraptur'd, in his kind embrace.
The aged parent, hoary-headed sage,
Seems now to feel renewal of his age;
His son—his long lost son, he views again,
From slav'ry free, from famine and from pain!
The lonely fair, whom tend'rest feelings move,
Now runs, impatient, to her long lost love,
With quicken'd pulse, into his arms she springs,
And feels and tastes unutterable things.
Sure scenes like these repay the Captive's toil,
And all his former griefs beguile.
Amaz'd, on either side, he casts his eyes,
New scenes of joy enkindle new surprise.
Tis now he sees his country's glorious rise
Her tow'ring grandeur mount th' etherial skies,
"Than virgin fairer, on her bridal morn,
Whom all the graces, all the loves adorn.
Here, planters find a ceaseless source of charms,
In clearing fields and adding farms to farms.
Tis Independence prompts their daily toil,
And calls forth beauties from the distant soil;
Here hamlets grow, here Europe's pilgrims come
From vassal'd woes, to find a quiet home,
Let other climes, of other produce boast,
Let Gold, let Diamonds grow on India's coasts.
Let flaming suns, from arid plains exhale
The spicy adours of Arabia's gale;
Let fragrant shrubs that bloom in regions calm—
Page  189 Perfumes expiring, bleed ambrosial balm;
Let Olive's flourish in Hesperia's soil,
Anana's ripen in each tropic isle;
Let Gallia gladden in her clust'ring vines,
Let Spain exult in her peruvian mines,
Let plains of Barb'ry boast the gen'rous stead
Far fam'd for beauty, strength and matchless speed,"
Be thine the boast—Columbia, thine the soil,
Where freedom reigns, & all the virtues smile.
Tis now he tastes what thousands rarely know,
The balmy sweets, which from fair Freedom flow;
Looks round the world; and then enrap|tur'd cries,
'Tis thine Columbia! daughter of the skies,
Thine, thine the land, where freedom's gentle reign
Demands the poets and the Captive's strain.