“Poor, short-lived things! what
plans we lay!
Ah! why forsake our native home,
To distant climates speed away,
For self sticks close, where’er we roam.
“Care follows hard, and soon o’ertakes
The well-rigg’d ship; the warlike steed
Her destin’d quarry ne’er forsakes:
Nor the wind flees with half the speed.”
Newton, who had made every preparation, as soon as he had taken leave of his uncle, hastened to join his ship, which still remained at Gravesend, waiting for the despatches to be closed by the twenty-four leaden heads presiding at Leadenhall Street. The passengers, with the exception of two, a Scotch Presbyterian divine and his wife, were still on shore, divided amongst the inns of the town, unwilling until the last moment to quit terra firma for so many months of sky and water, daily receiving a visit from the captain of the ship, who paid his respects to them all round, imparting any little intelligence he might have received as to the probable time of his departure.
When Newton arrived on board, he was received by the first mate, a rough, good-humoured, and intelligent man, about forty years of age, to whom he had already been introduced by the captain on his previous appearance with the letter from the director.
“Well, Mr Forster, you’re in very good time. As in all probability we shall be shipmates for a voyage or two, I trust that we shall be good friends. Now for your traps:” then, turning round, he addressed, in the Hindostanee language, two or three Lascars (fine, olive-coloured men, with black curling bushy hair), who immediately proceeded to hoist in the luggage.
The first mate, with an “excuse me a moment,” went forward to give some directions to the English seamen, leaving Forster to look about him. What he observed, we shall describe for the benefit of our readers.