THAT evil influence which carried me first away from my father's house-which hurried me into the wild and indigested notion of raising my fortune, and that impressed those conceits1 so forcibly upon me as to make me deaf to all good advice, and to the entreaties2 and even the commands of my father-I say, the same influence, whatever it was, presented the most unfortunate of all enterprises to my view;I went on board a vessel3 bound to the coast of Africa; our sailors vulgarly called it, a voyage to Guinea.
It was my great misfortune that in all these adventures I did not ship myself as a sailor; when, though I might indeed have worked a little harder than ordinary, yet at the same time I should have learnt the duty and office of a fore-mast man, and in time might have qualified4 myself for a mate or lieutenant5, if not for a master. But as it was always my fate to choose for the worse, so I did here; for having money in my pocket and good clothes upon my back, I would always go on board in the habit of a gentleman; so I neither had any business in the ship, nor learned to do any.
It was my lot first of all to fall into pretty good company in London, which does not always happen to such loose and misguided young fellows as I then was; the devil generally not omitting to lay some snare6 for them very early; but it was not so with me. I first got acquainted with the master of a ship who had been on the coast of Guinea;who, having had very good success there, was resolved to go again. This captain taking a fancy to my conversation, which was not at all disagreeable at that time, hearing me say I had a mind to see the world, told me if I would go the voyage with him I should be at no expense; I should be his messmate and his companion; I could carry anything with me, I should have all the advantage of it that the trade would admit; perhaps I might meet with some encouragement.