Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.
I had long wished to be able to read and write; and for this purpose I took every opportunity to gain instruction, but had made as yet very little progress.  However, when I went to London with my master, I had soon an opportunity of improving myself, which I gladly embraced.  Shortly after my arrival, he sent me to wait upon the Miss Guerins, who had treated me with much kindness when I was there before; and they sent me to school.

While I was attending these ladies their servants told me I could not go to Heaven unless I was baptized.  This made me very uneasy; for I had now some faint idea of a future state:  accordingly I communicated my anxiety to the eldest Miss Guerin, with whom I was become a favourite, and pressed her to have me baptized; when to my great joy she told me I should.  She had formerly asked my master to let me be baptized, but he had refused; however she now insisted on it; and he being under some obligation to her brother complied with her request; so I was baptized in St. Margaret’s church, Westminster, in February 1759, by my present name.  The clergyman, at the same time, gave me a book, called a Guide to the Indians, written by the Bishop of Sodor and Man.  On this occasion Miss Guerin did me the honour to stand as godmother, and afterwards gave me a treat.  I used to attend these ladies about the town, in which service I was extremely happy; as I had thus many opportunities of seeing London, which I desired of all things.  I was sometimes, however, with my master at his rendezvous-house, which was at the foot of Westminster-bridge.  Here I used to enjoy myself in playing about the bridge stairs, and often in the watermen’s wherries, with other boys.  On one of these occasions there was another boy with me in a wherry, and we went out into the current of the river:  while we were there two more stout boys came to us in another wherry, and, abusing us for taking the boat, desired me to get into the other wherry-boat.  Accordingly I went to get out of the wherry I was in; but just as I had got one of my feet into the other boat the boys shoved it off, so that I fell into the Thames; and, not being able to swim, I should unavoidably have been drowned, but for the assistance of some watermen who providentially came to my relief.

The Namur being again got ready for sea, my master, with his gang, was ordered on board; and, to my no small grief, I was obliged to leave my school-master, whom I liked very much, and always attended while I stayed in London, to repair on board with my master.  Nor did I leave my kind patronesses, the Miss Guerins, without uneasiness and regret.  They often used to teach me to read, and took great pains to instruct me in the principles of religion and the knowledge of God.  I therefore parted from those amiable ladies with reluctance; after receiving from them many friendly cautions how to conduct myself, and some valuable presents.

Follow Us on Facebook