Historical Children's Literature Collection

The Ransomed slave [unknown] [between 1800 and 1809]

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  THE
RANSOMED SLAVE.
in
M
It once happened that an Alge-
rine    corsair   had   captured   an
nglish vessel,  and the unhappy
prisoners were all sold for slaves,
ccording to the barbarous custom
f the conquerors,—One of the
aves was employed to cultivate a
arden  exactly  opposite  to   the
louse   of  a   very   opulent  Jew*
vhose only son, a boy about ten
-ears old, used frequently to gaze
it the unfortunate Christian, and
ometimes entered into conversa-
ion with him.    At length he be~
, A 2
 4
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
came so attached, that he visited
him  two or three  times a day,
and occasionally gave him various
little presents; but although Peter
(for  that was  the name   of the
slave) .always seemed grateful for
the attentions of his little friend,
his   countenance was  constantly
shaded with an air of melancholy,
and his face was frequently bedewed  with the   tear of   bitter
regret,  even when he strove to
assume the greatest composure.
The little boy was much affected at this circumstance, and at
length mentioned it to his father,
earnestly begging that he would
devise some means to dry up
Peter's   tears,    and   make   him
.
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE, 5
happy.—The father, who was a
man of great humanity, and extravagantly fond of his child, promised to see the captive himself;
and accordingly, the next morning he put his design imexecu-
tion.—After observing the slave
for some time in silence he said,
" Are you that Peter to whom my
son has, for some time, been so
warmly attached, and of whom he
has so often spoken?" " Yes," replied Peter, " I am that unfortunate being who have now groaned for several months in captivity,
and your son has shown such
kindness toward me, that I always
behokl him with pleasure, and
constantly   pray    that   Supreme
A3
 6 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
WV\X\WW'VVVX\VV'V\\W\W'V'V\'V\^
Being who is the God of all men
to grant him the richest blessings,
and to preserve him from all the
miseries I have endured."
*- From his present circun>
stances/' said the merchant, " my
boy does not appear exposed to
any great danger : however, he is
certainly indebted to you for your
good wishes^and lam really anxious
to alleviate your sufferings; but
tell me, what would you do for
him who should set you at liberty ?"
The Christian's eyes sparkled with
animation at this question, and he
solemnly declared that he would
readily perform the most painful
task, or undertake the most perilous  enterprize,—" Well   then,"
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE. 7
rejoined the merchant, "the means
of your deliverance are certain—
I have in this city a most implacable enemy, who has injured and
insulted me in the grossest manner, and who is equally haughty
and courageous. The dread of
Jhis superior strength has prevented
me from taking a just revenge, but
your countenance, your animation,
and your language ail convince me
that you are fit for an heroic undertaking. When it is dark, therefore, I will furnish you with a
dagger, and lead you to the spot
where you may chastise my cruel
foe, and obtain your own liberation."
The mingled emotions qf horror
 8 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
and indignation were legibly
painted on Peter's face while the
merchant was speaking, and it was
some time before he could make
any reply. At length however,
he exclaimed, " My chains are
certainly galling, and I would
gladly perform any service to regain the inestimable blessing of
liberty, but I would have thee
know, rich Jew, that the Christian
religion revolts from such atrocious deeds as that which thou hast
Bow proposed, and I tell thee, once
for all, that the unfortunate Peter
would not embrue his hands in
the blood of a fellow creature
for all the wealth of Algiers, nor
for the liberation of all his race."—
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE. 9
The merchant said he was sorry
to find him less zealous for liberty
than he expected ; and advised
him to consider of the matter more
coolly. He then returned to his
own house; leaving the poor captive overwhelmed with astonishment at his base proposal.
Next morning the Jew returned,
and begged that they might now-
discourse more calmly ; but Peter
interrupted him by saying, <ff Cease
to insult an unhappy captive with
proposals far more shocking than
the heaviest fetters. If thy religion permits such dreadful acts,
I must repeat that they are hateful
to the soul of every trtje Christian.
Let us, therefore,  break  oft' this
 •    €i
10        THE   RANSOMED  SLAVE.
unpleasant conference, and henceforth consider each other as perfect
strangers."
Hassam, the merchant, listened
attentively to the captive's noble
reply, and when it was finished, he
sprang forward to embrace him,
assuring him thathe had only made
trial of his virtue, and that he
would immediately set him at
liberty. "Thy ransom," said he*
is already paid, and I have only
to beg thee to remember the affec«
tion of thy faithful young friend,
who first interested me on thy
behalf."
It is impossible to describe the.
gratitude  of Peter for this unexpected goodness.    We shall there-
THE   RANSOMED  SLAVE. II
if&re only observe that he prayed for
every blessing on the head of his
benefactor, and repeatedly embraced the young Hassam, to whom
lie was particularly indebted for
his good fortune. The merchant
then presented him with a purse
of gold, and, having directed him
to the captain of an European
vessel, took leave of him with the
greatest tenderness.
About three months after this
transaction, the merchant's house
was accidentally set on fire, and as
it happened m the dead of the
night, the whole building was in
lames before any of the family
perceived it. At length however,
♦:he alarm was given, and Hassam
 12 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
and his servants hurried „dr i
stairs a few minutes before the
stair-case was enveloped in the
general conflagation. But if the
merchant congratulated himself,
for a moment, upon his escape,
he was overwhelmed with despair
on finding that his dear son had
been forgotten, and was yety in
an upper apartment, amidst the
flames. The poor man was so
distracted at the idea of his son's
danger, that he raved like a lunatic, and offered half his fortune
to any one who should save the
child.
As Hassam was known to be
very rich, several ladders were
soon raised, and some bold men,
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE. 13
'he hooe of obtaining such a
reward, ventured to ascend : but
the flames burst with such violence from every aperture, and
the ruins fell on every side so
rapidly, that they were all driven
back, and the poor boy, who had
crept up to the roof, stretched out
his arms tojmplore that aid, which
was now pronounced impossible.
Poor 'Hassam was so overcome
by this dreadful spectacle, that he
sunk on the ground, in a stale of
insensibility; and the surrounding
crowd of spectators seemed to lose
every other consideration in the
danger of the unfortunate child*
At this eventful moment, however, a man rushed  suddenly to-
 14
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
wards the house, and mounted the
highest ladder with an air of resolution   which   showed  he was
prepared to succeed or perish,   j
sudden gust of smoke  and flair
hid him from   the people's view
ami all concluded he was lost, but
in   a few moments  he emerged
again, holding the boy in his arms
and descended the ladder, withou'
sustaining   any   material   injury.
The applauses of the   populace
roused the merchant, and on looking up he found  his son safe by
his side: but what pen  can describe his emotions when   he perceived that Peter was the  deliverer ! His gratitude and astonishment were, indeed,  unbounded.
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE. 15
and he hastened to a friend's house
that he might learn the cause of
so unexpected and providential
a meeting.
Peter stated, that when he had
been taken by the corsair, his aged
father shared the same fate, and
that the contemplation of his sufferings generally produced those
tears which had been so frequently noticed by the merchant's son.
*' When,  therefore," said he, " I
regained my liberty by your unexampled generosity, I sought out
my father's master, and, in consequence  of representing   the  advantages he   might derive   from
my youth and strength, I prevailed
on him to send   my  clear parent
s2
 16 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
home, without informing him by
what means his freedom had been
obtained.—Since that time I have
staid, to labour in my father's
stead, and I can now bless Heaven
tor a captivity which has made me
instrumental in restoring you to
happiness, and in preserving a life
far dearer than my own.
When Peter had given this explanation, the Jew was perfectly
astonished at his filial piety, and
the noble elevation of his mind ;
and after complimenting him in
the handsomest manner on his
amiable virtues, he entreated him
to accept half his fortune, and to
uass the remainder of his days with
9k" *
him and .his son,   Peter expressed
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
17
his grateful sense of the merchant's
goodness, but begged to be excused for his refusal of this proposal, alledging that he had merely
discharged a debt of friendship
and gratitude, and could not think
of accepting any recompense.
" It. was you," said he, /' that
generously freed me from my
chains, supplied me with money,
and by that means enabled me to
become the unknown deliverer of
my beloved father. My life would,,
therefore, have been well bestowed
had I sacrificed it.in your service,
but as 1 fortunately escaped without damage, I am sufficiently rewarded by witnessing your felicity, and by the consciousness of
B 3
 18 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
having used my utmost efforts to
evince the bincerity of my gratitude."
Notwithstanding all that Peter
could say, however, the merchant
resolved to reward his brave exploit, and therefore he immediately
purchased his freedom,and freighted a ship for the express purpose
of sending him back to England.
He also compelled him to accept
a purse of gold, and once more
badehim adieu with every possible
mark of gratitude and affection.
After a prosperous voyage, Peter
had the matchless satisfaction of
landing upon his native shore, and
immediately set out in quest of his
aged father, whom he  at length
THE    RANSOMED   SLAVE.
19
discovered in an obscure village
near the sea shore.—The meeting
between the old man and his son
was inexpressibly tender, and they
were mutually affected by the
account of each other's sufferings.
But when Peter related the method which he had adopted to
procure his father's liberty, vthe
venerable man was almost overpowered by his emotion, ?jid a few
of the neighbours, who happened
to be present, declared that Peter's
filial affection deserved the most
ample reward.
In the course of a few days, the
ransomed slaveHook a little farm
for his revered parent, and stocked
it   with   every   thing  necessary.
 20
THE   RANSOMED  SLAVE,
Here the old man passed his days
in happiness and tranquillity;
while Peter acquired the love of
all the country people, and at
length attracted the notice of a
worthy baronet, who took him to
London, and exerted himself so
successfully on his behalf, that he
soon amassed a very considerable
fortune, and became one of the
most respectable merchants in the
city.
Meanwhile, the Jew and his
affectionate son passed their time
tolerably happy at Algiers, till at
length the failure of some large
houses, and several other losses,
sensibly diminished their fortune*
By the advice of his* friends the
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
21
merchant resolved on an expedition to South America, but the
vessel was unfortunately wrecked
on an unknown part of the African
coast, and the unhappy survivors
fell into the hands of savages, by
whom they were treated in the
most inhuman manner. After
languishing: for several weeks in
this situation, they were transferred into the hands of another
tribe, and were afterwards marched into the interior of the country,
where they were to be exposed
to sale at a public market.
When the appointed morning
arrived, Hassam and his son were
Jed in chains to the market place,
and placed among a number  of
li i—'    "  m    ~mti\ ii
 22
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE,.
other  wretched  beings, some  of
whom  had  been taken prisoners
in  battle,  and  others  had been
exchanged for various articles   of
commerce.     " Alas!"  said  the
merchant as he contemplated the
melancholy scene, a these are the
sad effects of pride and ambition.
To gratify a few individuals with
foreign luxuries, men are bought
and sold like, beasts, and markets
are regularly held for the inhuman
traffic.     Alas !   poor negroes, I
sincerely pity your sufferings, but
we are now involved in  the general calamity, and, for ought I
know, I may  soon be separated
from my dear son, who is now the
only   support   of   my  declining
 THE   RANSOMED  SLAVE. 28
years."—This sad affliction wrung
his heart  with  anguish,   and he
h mg down  his   head to conceal
the tears which rolled involunta-
^!;   down his manly cheek.    The
;1 action of his son was still more
%i Cient, but he had wept till he
co- id weep no longer, and now
i'xjd   silently awaiting the  moment that,was to decide his fate.
After a lapse of some minutes,
purchasers   approached,  and
<hassam was roused from his con-
expiations by the piteous cries of
negro women who were being
i from their husbands, and of
aikfren that were brutally beaten
■ fo lingering to tike a last embrace
ot      *eir distracted parents,—At
 24 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
length an   European   genfclemai
xichly dressed, came forward ; and
after  glancing his eje   over the
rest with an expression of regret
and pity,   he   fixed his'attention
upon the Jew merchant and his
unhappy son, whom  he immediately determined to ransom ;
how great was his astonishment
when   the  younger  Hassam, % or
raising;   his head,   addressed hr
by  the name of Peter!—Ye;
was  indeed Peter, whom   Ptf
dence seemed to have cotulu
thither on this important oc
and whohad been led, by i
o'x compassion, to  the  slay*
ket, under the idea that h
possibly   meet   with  some
own countrymen.
THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
25
Hassam   was   equally rejoiced
and astonished at this unexpected
meeting, and poured  out a profusion of thanks  while  his kind
friend took off his chains, and de*
clared both   him and his darling
son at liberty.     Young Hassam's
countenance beamed  with every
virtuous emotion, and he devoutly
• returned thanks to the Almighty
for so great a( deliverance, while
Peter repeatedly folded him to his
■i bosom, and reminded him of his
own  generosity and affection  towards the poor slave  whom   he
met with at Algiers.
* Peter now proposed that his
friends should accompany him to
his lodgings,   where he supplied
 26 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
them wdth decent apparel and a
considerable sum of money.    He
then informed them of his success
in England, and observed that he
had risen through the interest of a
friend, to considerable importance
in the  mercantile line.    tc Some
particular    business,    however,"
said he," called me to Africa, and
I am peculiarly happy in having *
visited'this part of the coast, as it
has  once more   enabled   me   to
; render you a service, and to give
a   fresh   proof of that  gratitude
which  can never  terminate  but
with my existence,"
The Jew and his son were
deeply affected by Peter's generosity, and congratulated him, with
THE   RANSOMED  SLAVE. 27
all the warmth of unfeigned friendship, on his advancement in life.
They  then  related the   story  of
their misfortunes, and  described,
in the most pathetic manner, the
miseries which they had endured
among the Africans from the time
of   their unfortunate shipwreck.
ff And wdiat is worse than all,"
said Hassam, " the whole of my
fortune was embarked in that ill-
fated  vessel, so that^ I am  now
almost without the means of procuring a   future   subsistence."—*
Peter   embraced   his  benefactor,
and without allowing him time
for a refusal, declared that he should '
accompany him to England, and
share that fortune which had hap-
c 2
 28 THE   RANSOMED   SLAVE.
pily followed his liberation.—
Hassam felt the full force of this
generous proposal, and readily
accepted it, whilst his son wept
upon Peter's hand, and called him
by every endearing epithet.
After Peter had concluded his
business on the coast, and Hassam
and his son had recovered from
th ur fatigues and ill usage, they
embarked in an English vessel
and set sail with a fair wind.
Their time was now passed very
agreeably, and they joyfully anticipated their arrival in the envied
land of liberty : but on the afternoon of the second day, they discovered an Algerine corsair beards
ing down upon them aqd prepar-
THE RANSOMED SLAVE.
29
ing for action
Most of the crew
were disheartened by the enemy's
superiority ; but Peter encouraged
them so effectually that they at
length resolved to conquer or perish. Hassam and his son, also,
requested to be armed, that they
might assist in the general struggle
against their cruel enemies. The
corsair approached in awful silence,
but in an instant the noise of the
artillery resounded on every side,
and the air was obscured with
clouds of smoke, occasionally
mingled with streams of fire.
Twice did the Algerines leap, with
horrid imprecations, on the English vessel, and twice were driven
back by the gallant resistance of
c 3
 30
THE RANSOMED SLAVE.
the Britons, headed bv the intre-
pid Peter. At length, another
European ship appeared insight,
and the corsair was compelled to
make a precipitate retreat; while
the Englishmen congratulated each
other on their providential escape,
and acknowledged that they were
principally indebted to the brave
merchant for the defeat of so superior a force.
The remainder of the voyage
proved remarkably pleasant, and
at the usual time they arrived
safely in England, wdiefe Hassam
and his son received many fresh
proofs of Peter's affectionate kindness. They staid a few days upon
the coast, and then set out for the
THE RANSOMED SLAVE.        31
village where Peter's father resided ; but here they heard the
distressing news that the little farm
had been recently destroyed by
fire, and that the poor old man
was extremely illy in consequence
of his alarm. They went, however, to the cottage where he Jay,
and attended him with such unremitting care and tenderness,
that he soon began to recover, and
at length wras enabled to sit up
and rejoice in his son's return.
Peter consoled him for all his past
afflictions, and directed his attention towards Hassam and his amiable son. " These," said he, " are
the benevolent persons to whom
you and myself were indebted for
 32        THE RANSOMED SLAVE.
our liberation at Algiers, and I
have the satisfaction to tell you,
that Providence has at length put
it in my power to express my gratitude according to my wishes.-*-
"Yes^continuedhe^erceivinghis
father view them with particular
attention, " this is the dear youth
who so frequently came to visit
me in my master's garden, and
who was so deeply affected by my
silent distress; and this", said he,
turning to Hassam, " is the benevolent man who paid my ransom*
took off my chains, and restored
me to freedom upon two memo
ble occasions."
The old man was much affected
at this explanation, and devoutly
THE  RANSOMED SLAVE.
53
raised his eyes toward heaven,
while he prayed for eternal blessings- on the heads of his son's
benefactors. They, in return, related the particulars of their late
captivity, and Peter's extraordinary goodness, and assured him
that his prosperity was the principal wish of their hearts.
When Peter's father was perfectly recovered, workmen were
employed to rebuild the farm, and
that little seat of trial qurllity was
soon restored to its aged owner,
who had fresh cause to bkss the
affection and generosity of his virtuous son. A little feast was then
made to the neighbouring peasants,  and Peter had  the  heart-
 34        THE RANSOMED SLAVE.
felt satisfaction of witnessing the
happiness of many persons who
might have perished for want of
work, had it not been for the employment afforded them by his
revered parent.
The ensuing week, Peter and
his companions went to London,
wdiere the latter were received into
partnership and fixed in a house
every way suitable to their former
fortune and magnificence. The
good baronet, who had taken Peter under his patronage, was highly
delighted with this arrangement,
and, on hearing all the particulars
of his favourite's adventures, he
declared that he had never met
with a character so truly deserving.
THE   RANSOMED SLAVE.
35
cc I consider myself," said he," amply repaid for the little trouble I may
have taken on your account, and I
shall  ever esteem it my  greatest
pleasure to contribute to your felicity.'5—The worthy man was as
good as his wTord; for he exerted
himself on every occasion to augment Peter's  extensive   business,
and at length represented him in
such a light at court, that the king
knighted him, as a reward for his
extraordinary  good conduct, and
the bravery he displayed in fighting
against the Algerines.
Our hero, now Sir Peter^ passed
the remainder of his life in peace
and happiness, and was not only
gratified   with   the  applauses  of
 66 THE RANSOMED SLAVE.
every good mail, and the approbation of his own conscience, but
his exemplary life and sweetness of
manners had such an effect upon
his old benefactor, that both he
and his son voluntarily embraced
the Christian religion, and were
publicly baptized at the parish
church. Sir Peter's father lived to
a very advanced age, and the
vounger Hassam became a most
respectable character under the
patronage and protection of the
RANSOMED SLAVE.
FINIS
I-I: Brrjer, Printer,
fridge-street, Bjuekfriars,

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