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Full text of "Life and remarkable adventures of Israel R. Potter, (a native of Cranston, Rhode-Island.)"

, 




LIFE 

AND 

REMARKABLE ADVENTURES 

OF 

& 

(A NATIVE OP CRANSTON, RHODE-ISLAND.) 

WHO WAS A SOLDIER IN THE 

AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 

And took a distinguished part in the Battle of Bunker 
Hill (in Which he received three wounds,) after 
which he was taken Prisoner by the British, convey- 
ed to England, where for 30 years he obtained a 
livelihood for himself and family, by crying " Old 
Chairs to Mend" through the Streets of London.* 
In May last, by the assistance of the American Con 
sul, he succeeded (in the 79th year of his age) ia 
obtaining a passage to his native country, after an 
absence of 48 years. 



PROVIDEXCE: 

Printed by HENRY TRUMBULL 1824. 
(Price 28 Cents.) 



DISTRICT OF RH^DE ISLAND TO WIT: 
BE IT REMEMBtRfcD Tnat on the thirtieth day of 
January one Thouband eight hundred and twenty four 
and in the forty eighth year of the Independence of 
the United States of America, HENRY TRUM- 
BULL, of said District, deposited in tins office the 
title of a bock, ihe right whereof he claims as author, 
in the following woids, to wit : Life and Remarka- 
ble Adventures, of Israel R Potter, a native ol Crans- 
ton Rhode Island who was a soldier in the American 
Revolution, and took a distinguished part in the battle 
of Bunker Hill (in which he received three wounds) 
after which he was taken Prisoner by the British, and 
conveyed to England where for thirty years he attain- 
cd a livelihood for himself and family by crying '* old 
Chairs to mend" through the Streets of London In 
May last by the assUtance of the American Consul 
he succeeded in (the 79th year of his age) in obtain- 
ing a passage to his uaiive Country after an absence of 
48 years." 

In conformity to an Act of Congress entillec! " An 
Act for the encouragement of learning, by secuii g 
the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors 
and proprietors of such copies, during the time there 
in mentioned" and also to an act entitled ** An Act 
for the encouragement of learning by securing the co- 
pies of maps charts, and book, to the authors and pro- 
prietors ot such copies during the time therein men. 
tioned, and extending the benefit thereof to the Art of 
designing, engraving, and etching, historical, and other 
prints." 

Witness, BENJAMIN CCWELL, 

Clerk of the Rhode Island District. 



TO THE PUBLIC. 



IN the foregoing pages we have attempted a 
simple narrative of the lite and extraordinary ad- 
ventures of one of the few survivors who fought 
and bled for American Independence. There is not 
probably another now living who took an equally ac- 
tive part in the Revolutionary war, whose life has 
been marked with more extraordinary events, and 
who has drank deeper of the cup of adversity, than 
Ihe aged veteran with whose History we now beg 
liberty to present the American public. Doomed 
by the fate of War to be early seperated from kindred 
and friends, and to be conveyed by a foreign Le u 
prisoner of war from his native land, to a iar distant 
country, where after having for 48 yeais expeiien- 
ced almost every hardship and deprivation of which 
adverse fortune is productive, providence appears at 
length to have so far interfered in his behalf, as to 
provide means whereby he has been enabled at an 
advanced age once move to visit and inhale the pure 
air of his native land. At the age of Seventy-Nine, 
an age in which it cannot be expected tha.t the lamp 
of human life can long remain unextinguished, he 
has arrived among us, in a state of penury and want, 
to seek in common with his countrymen the enjoy- 
ment cf a few ti" the blessings produced by Amcr- 



lean valour, in her memorable conflict with the 
mother country, and in which he took a distinguish- 
cd part* 

As it yet remains doubtful whether (in consquence 
of his long absence) he will be so fortunate as to be 
included in that number to whom Government has 
granted pensions for their Revolutionary services, it 
is to obtain if possible a humble pittance as a remu- 
neration, in part, for the unprecedented privations 
and sufferings of which he has been the unfortunate 
subject, that he is now induced to present the pub- 
lic with the following concise and simple narration 
tf the most extraordinary incidents of his life. 



< 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 



ISRAEL R. POTTER, 



I WAS born of reputable parents in the town of 
Cranston, State of Rhode Island, August 1st, 1744, 
1 continued with my parents there in the full en- 
joyment of parental affection and indulgence, un- 
til I arrived at the age of 18, when, having formed 
an acquaintance with the daughter of a Mr. Richard 
Gardner, a near neighbour, for whom (in the opin- 
ion of my friends) entertaining too great a degree 
of partiality, I was repremanded and threatened by 
them with more severe punishment, if my visits 
were not discontinued. Disappointed in my inten- 
tions of forming an union (when of suitable age) 
with one whom I really loved, 1 deemed the con- 
duct of my parents in this respect unreasonable and 



6 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

oppressive, and formed the determination to leave 
then), for the .purpose of seeking another home and 
other friends. '*'<- 

It was on Sunday^ while the family were at meet- 
.ingvthajt i,patfeed'up as many Articles of my cloadi- 
ingrai could be contained in a ' pocket handkerchief, 
which, with a small quantity of provision, I convey- 
ed to and secreted in a piece of woods in the rear 
of my father's house ; I then returned and continu- 
ed in the house until about 9 in the evening, when 
with the pretence of retiring to bed, I passed into 
a back room and frem thence out of a back door and 
hastened to the spot where I had deposited my 
cloathes, &c. it was a warm summer's night, and 
that I might be enabled to travel with the more fa- 
cility the succeeding day, I lay down at the foot of a 
tree and reposed myself until about 4 in the morning 
when 1 arose and commenced my journey, travelling 
westward, with an intention of reaching if possible 
the new countries, which 1 had heard highly spoken 
of as affording excellent prospects for industrious 
and enterprizing young men to evade the pursuit 
of my friends, by whom I knew 1 should be early 
missed and diligently sought for, I confined my trav- 
el to ihe woods and shunned the public roads, until 
I had reached the distance cf about 12 miles from 
my father's house. 

At noon the succeeding day 1 reached Hartford, 
in Connecticut, and applied to a farmer in that town 
for work| and for whom I agreed to labour for one 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER. / 

wonth for *he sum of six dollars Having comple- 
ted my month's work to the satisfaction of my em 
plover 1 received my money and started from Hart- 
ford for Otter Creek; but, when I reached Spring- 
field, I met with a man hound to the Cahos country, 
and who offered me four do lars to accompany him, 
of which offer I accepted and the next morning we 
left Springfield and in a canoe ascended Connecticut 
river, and in about two weeks after much hard labor 
in paddling and pol ; ng the boat against , the currenti 
we reached Lebanon, (N. H.) the place of our des- 
tination. Ir was with som e difficulty and not until I 
had procured a writ, oy the assistance of a respecta- 
ble innkeeper in Lebanon, by the name of Hill, that 
I obtained from my last employer the four dollars 
which he had agreed to pay me for my services. 

From Lebanon I crossed the river to New-Hart- 
ford (then N. Y.) where I bargained with a Mr, 
Brink of that town for 200 acres of new land, lying 
in New Hampshire, and for which L was to labour 
for him four months. As this may appear to some 
a small consideration f.,r so g-eat a number of acres 
of land, it may be well here to acquaint the reader 
with the situation of the country in that quarter, at 
that early period of its settlement which was an 
almost impenetrable wilderness, containing but few* 
civilized inhabitants, far distantly situated from each 
other and from any considerable settlement j and 
whose temporary habitations with a few exceptions 
were constructed of logs in their natural state the 



8 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

woods abounded with wild beasts of almost 
description peculiar to this country, nor were the 
few inhabitants at that time free from serious appre- 
hension of being at some unguarded moment sud- 
denly attacked and destroyed, or conveyed .nto cap- 
tivity by the savages, who from the commencement 
of the F ench war, had improved every favourable 
opportunity to cut oft' the defenceless inhabitants of 
the frontier towns. 

Alter the expiration of my four months labour the 
person who had promised me a deed of 200 acres 
of land thrrefor, having refused to fulfill his engage* 
nnents.I was obliged to engage with a party of h.s Ma* 
jesty's Surveyors at fifteen shillings per month as an 
assistant chain bearer, to survey the wild unse'tkd 
lands bordering on the Connecticut river, to its 
source. It was in the winter season, and the snow 
so deep that it was impossible to travel without 
snow shoes at the close of each day we enkind- 
led a fire, cooked our victuals and erected with the 
branches of hemlock a temporary hut, which serv- 
ed us tor a shelter for the night. The Surveyors 
having completed their business returned to Leba- 
non, after an absence of about two months. Receiv- 
ing my wages I purchased a fowling-piece and ma- 
munition therewith, and for the four succeeding 
months devoted my time in hunting Deer, Beavers, 
&c, in which 1 was very successful, as in the four 
mon hs I obtained as many skins of these animals 
as produced me forty dollars * with my money I pu-r- 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER* 9 

chased of a Mr John Marsh, 100 acres of new 
land lying on Water Qutchy River, (so called) a- 
bout five miles from Hartford, (N Y.) on this land 
| went immediately to work, erected a small log 
hut thereon* and in two summers without any assis- 
tance, cleared up thirty acres fit for sowing in the 
winter seasons I employed my time in hunting and 
entrtping such animals whose hides and furs were 
esteemed of the most value. I remained in pos- 
session of my land two years, and then disposed oif 
it to the same person of whom I purchased it, at 
the advanced price of 200 dollars, and then convey- 
ed my skins and furs which I had collected the tvK>* 
preceding winters, to NO. 4, (now Charlestowa,) 
where I exchanged them tor Indian blankets, wan*- 
peag, and such other articles as I could convenient* 
ly convey on a hand sied, and with which I started 
for Canada, to barter with the Indians for furs. 
This proved a very profitable trip, as I very soon 
disposed of every article at aft advance of more- 
than two hundred per cent, and received payment iu 
furs at a reduced price, and lur which I received i,i 
NO. 4, SCO dollars, cash. With this rncney, togeth- 
er mth what I was befoie in possession of, I now 
set out for home, once more to visit my parents at- 
ter an absence of two years and nine months, ir* 
which time my friends had not been enabled to re- 
ceive any correct information of me. On my arriv* 
al, so greatly effected were my parents at the pre- 
sence of a sen \vhur.; they had considered daad, ihui. 

1* 



'10 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

It was sometime before either could become suffi- 
ciently composed to listen to or to request me to 
furnish them with an account of my travels. 

Soon after my return, as some atonement for the 
anxiety which I had caused my parents, 1 presented 
them with most of the money that I had earned in 
my absence, and formed the determination that I 
would remain with them contented at home, in con- 
sequence of a conclusion from the welcome recep- 
tion that I met with, that they had repented of their 
opposition* and had become reconciled to my in- 
tended union but, in this, I soon found that I was 
mistaken ; for. although overjoyed to see me alive } 
whom they had supposed really dead, no sooner did 
they find that my long absence had rather increased 
than diminished my attachment for their neighbor's 
daughter, than their resentment and opposition ap- 
peared to increase in proportion in consequence of 
which I formed the determination again to quit them, 
aud try my fortune at sea, as I had now arrived at 
an age in which I had an unquestionable right to 
think and act for myself. 

After remaining at home one month, I applied for 
and procured a birth at Providence, on board the 
Sloop , Capt. Fuller, bound to Grenada hav- 
ing completed her loading (which consisted of stone 
lime, hoops, staves, 8tc.) we set sail with a favora- 
ble wind, and nothing worthy of note occurred until 
the 15th day from that on which we left Providence, 
when the sloop was discovered to be on fire, bj a. 



OF ISRAEL vR. POTTER. li 

smoke issuing from her hold the hatches were inn. 
mediately raised, but as it was discovered that the 
fire was caused by water communicating with the 
lime, it was deemed useless to make any attempts 
to extinguish it orders were immediately there- 
upon given by the captain to hoist out the long 
boat, which was found in such a leaky condition as 
to require constant bailing to keep her afloat : we 
had only time to put on board a small quantity of 
bread, a firkin of butter and a ten gallon keg of wa- 
ter, when we embarked, eight in number to trust 
ourselves to the mercy of the waves, in a leaky 
boat and many leagues from land. As our provi- 
sion was but small in quantity, and it being uncer- 
tain how long we might remain in our perilous sit- 
uation, it was proposed by the capiain soon after 
leaving the sloop, that we should put ourselves on 
an allowance of one buiscuit and halt a pint of water 
per day, for each man, which was readily agreed 
to by all on boaid in ten minutes after leaving the 
sloop she was in a complete blaze, and presented an 
awful spectacle. With a piece of the fi> ing-jib, 
which had been lortunately thrown into the boat, we 
made shift to erect a sail, and proceeded in a south 
west ditection in hopes to rct.cn the Spanish maine, 
if not so fortunate as to fall in with some vessel in 
our course which, by the interposition of kind prov- 
idence in our favour, actually took place the second 
day after leaving the sloop- we were discovered 
und picked up by a Dutch ship bound from Eusta- 



12 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

tia to Holland, and from the captain and crew met 
with a humane reception, and were supplied with 
every necessary that the ship afforded we continu- 
ed on board one week when we fell in with an A- 
jnerican sloop bound from Piscataqua to Antigua, 
which received us all on board and conveyed us in 
safety to the port of her destination. At Antigua I 
got a birth on board an American brig bound to Porto 
Rico, and from thence to Eusta'ia. At Eustatia I 
received my discharge and entered on board a Ship 
belonging to Nantucket, and bound on a whaling 
voyage, which proved an uncommonly short and 
successful one we returned to Nantucket full of 
oil after an absence of the ship irom that port of 
only 16 months. After my discharge I continued 
about one month on the island, and then took pas- 
sage for Providence, and from thence went to Cran- 
ston, once more to visit my friends, with whom I 
continued three weeks, and then returned to Nan- 
tucket. From Nantucket I made another whaling 
voyage to the Scuih Seas and after an absence of 
three years, (in which time I experienced almost 
all the hardbhips and deprivations peculiar to Whale- 
men in long voyages) I succeeded by the blessings 
of providence in reaching once more my native 
home, perfectly sick of the sea, and willing to re- 
turn to the bush and exchange a mariner's life for 
one less hazardous and fatiguing, 

I remained with my friends at Cranston a few 
weeks, and then hired myself to a Mr. James W<> 



*Y ISRAEL R. HOTTER- 13 

terman, of Coventry, for 12 months, to work at 
farming. This was in the year i774> and I contin- 
ued with him about six months, when the difficul- 
ties which had for some time prevailed beiween the 
Americans and Britons, had now arrived at that 
crisis, as to render it certain that hostilities would 
soon commence in good earnest between the two na- 
tions ; in consequence of which, the Americans at 
this period began 'to prepare themselves for the e- 
vent companies were formed in several of the 
towns in New England, who received the appella- 
tion of " minute men," and who were to hold them- 
selves in readiness to obey the first summons of 
their officers, to march at a moment's notice j a 
company of this kind was formed in Coventry, into 
which I enlisted, and to the command of which 
Edmund Johnson, of said Coventry, was appoint- 
ed. 

It was on a Sabbath morning that news was re- 
ceived of the destruction of the provincial stores at 
Cone rd, and of the massacre of our countrymen 
at Lexington, by a detached party of the British 
troops from Boston : and 1 immediately thereupon re- 
ceived a summons from the captain, 'to be prepared 
to march with the company early the morning ensu- 
ing and ? although I felt not less willing to obey 
the call of my country at a minute's notice, and 4 to 
-face htr foes, than did the gallant Putnam, yet, the 
nature of the summons did not render it necessary 
&r me, like him, to quit my plough in the field \ as 
3 



44 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

having the day previous commenced the ploughing ' 
of a field often or twelve acres, that I might not leave 
my work half done, I improved the sabbath to com- 
plete it. 

3y the break of day Monday morning I swung 
fny knapsack, shouldered my musket, and with the 
company commenced my march with a quick step 
for Charlestown, where we arrived about sunset, and 
remained encamped in the vicinity until about noon 
of the 16th June; when, having been previously 
joined by the remainder of the regiment from Rhode 
Island, to which our company was attached, we 
received orders to proceed and join a detachment 
of about 1000 American troops, which had that 
morning taken possession of Bunker-Hill} and which 
we had orders inn mediately to fortify, in the best 
manner that circumstances would admit of. We 
laboured all night without cessation and with very 
Kttle refreshment, and by the dawn of day succeed- 
ed in throwing up a redoubt of eight or nine rods 
square. As soon as our works were discovered by 
the British in the morning, they commenced a heavy 
fire upon us^ which was supported by a fort on 
Copp's hill ; we however (under the command of 
the intrepid Putnam) continued to labour like be- 
vers until our breast-work was completed* 

About noon, a number of the enemy's boats and 
barges, filled with troops, landed at Charlestown, 
and commenced a deliberate march to attack us 
we were now harangued by Gen. Putnariy who re- 



07 ISRAEL R. POTTER, ? 

minded us, that exhausted as we were, by our in- 
cessant labour through the preceding night, the most 
important part of our duty was yet to be performed* 
and that much would be expected from so great a 
number of excellent marksmen he charged us to 
be cool, and to reserve our fire until the enemy ap- 
proached so near as to enable us to see the white of 
their eyes when within about ten rods of our works 
we gave them the contents of our muskets, and 
which were aimed with so good effect, as soon to 
cause them to turn their backs and to retreat with a 
much quicker step than with what they approach- 
ed us. We were now again harangued by old 
General Put," as he was termed, and requested by 
him to aim at the officers, should the enemy renew 
the attack which they did in a few moments, with 
a reinforcement their approach was with a slow 
step, which gave us an excellent opportunity to 
obey the commands of our General in bringing 
down their officers, 1 feel but little disposed to 
boast of my own performances on this occasion, 
and will only say, that alter devoting- so many 
months in hunting the wild animals of the wilder- 
ness, while an inhabitant of New. Hampshire, the 
reader will not suppose me a bad or unexperien- 
ced marksman, and that such were the fare shots 
which the epuletted red coats presented in the two 
attacks, that every shot which they received from 
xne, 1 am confident on another occasion would have., 
produced me a deer skin. 



16 LlIE ANB ADVENTURES 

So warm was the reception that the enemy met 
with in their second attack) that they again found it 
necessary to retreat, but soon after receiving a fresh 
reinforcement, a third assault was made, in which, 
in consequence of our ammunition Jailing, they too 
Well succeeded a close and bloody engagement 
now ensued to fight our way through a very con- 
siderable body of the enemy, with clubbed muskets 
{for there were not one in twenty of us provided with 
.bayonets) were now the only means left us to es- 
cape ; - the conflict, which was a sharp and severe 
one, is still fresh in my memory) and cannot be for- 
gotten by me while the scars of the wounds which 1 
then received, remain to remind me of it ! fortu. 
Iiately for me, at this critical moment, 1 was armed 
with a cutlass, which although without an edge, and 
much rust-eaten. 1 found of infinite more service to 
me than my musket in one instance I am certain it 
was the means of saving my lite a blow with a cut- 
lass was aimed at my head by a British officer, which 
I parried and received only a slight cut with the 
point on my right arm near the elbow, which 1 was 
then unconscious of, but this slight wound cost my 
antagonist at the moment a much more serious one, 
which effectually disarmed him, for with one well 
directed stroke I deprived him of the power of very 
soon again measuring swords with a " yankee rebel I'* 
We finally however should have been mostly cut cff> 
and compelled to yield to a superiour and belter e- 
quipped force, had net a body of three or four hurr 



OF ISRAEL R POTTED IT 

dred Connecticut men formed a temporary breast 
work, with rails 8cc and by which means held the 
enemy at bay until our main body had time to as- 
cend the heights, and retreat across the neck ; in 
this retreat I was less fortunate than many of my 
comrads I received two musket ball wounds, one 
in my hip and the other near the ancle of my left leg 
I succeeded however without any assistance in 
reaching Prospect Hill, where the main body of the 
Americans had made a stand and commenced fortify- 
ing >fro:n thence I was soon after conveyed to the 
Hospital in Cambridge, where my wounds were 
dressed and the bullet extracted from my hip by one 
of the Surgeons ; the house was nearly filled wkh 
the poor fellows who like myself had received wounds 
in the late engagement, and presented a melAnchoily 
spectacle. 

Bunker-Hill fight proved a sore thing for the Brit- 
ish, and will I doubt not bi long remembered by 
them; while in London I heard it frequently spoken 
of by many who had taken an active part therein ? 
some of whom were pensioners* asid bore indelible 
proofs of American bravery by them the Yankees 
by whom they were opposed, were not unfrequently . 
represented as a set ot infuriated beings, whom noth- 
ing could daunt or intimidate : and who, after their 
ammunhion failed, disputed the ground, inch by inch, 
for a full hour with clubbed muskets, rusty swords, 
pitchforks and billets of wood, against the British 
bayonets. 

2* 



19 LIFE AND ADVENTUxl&S 

I suffered much pain from the wound which I re- 
ceived in my ?ncle, the bone was fcadly fractured and 
several pieces were extracted by the surgeon, and it 
was six weeks before I was sufficiently recovered to 
be able to join my regiment quartered on Prospect- 
Hifll) where they had thrown up entrenchments with- 
in the distance of little more than a mile of the ene- 
my's camp, which was full in view, they having en 
trenched themselves on Bunker-hill after the engage. 
ment. 

On the 3d July, to the great satisfaction of the A- 
mericans, General WASHINGTON arrived from the 
south to take command I was then confined in the 
Hospital, but as far as my observations could extend* 
he met with a joyful reception, and his arrival was 
welcomed by every one throughout the camp the 
troops had been long waiting with impatience for his 
arrival as being nearly deslitute of ammunition and 
tbe British receiving reinforcements daily, their pros- 
pects began to wear a gloomy aspect. 

The British quartered in Boston began soon to suf- 
fer much from the scarcity of provisions, and Gener- 
al Washington took every precaution to prevent their 
gaining a supply from the country ail supplies 
could be easily cutoff, and to prevent their receiving 
any from Tories, and other disaffected persons by 
water, the General found it necessary to equip two 
or thiee armed vessels to intercept themamong 
these was the brigantine Washington of [0 guns, 
commanded by capt. Martindale, -as seamen a; this. 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTKB. i 

time could not easily be obtained, as most of them 
had enlisted in the land service, permission was giv- 
en to any of the soldiers who should be pleased lo ac- 
cept of the offer, to man these vessels consequently 
myself with several others of the same regiment went 
on board of the Washington, then lying at Plymouth, 
and in complete order for a cruize. 

We set sail about the 8th December, but had, been 
out but three days when we were captured by the 
enemy's ship Foy. of 20 guns, who took us all out and 
put a prize crew on board the Washington the Foy 
.proceeded with us immediately to Boston bay where 
v?e was put on board the British frigate Tartar and 
orders given to convey us to England.- VV hen two 
or three days out I projected a scheme (with the as- 
sistance of my fellow prisoners, 72 in number) to take 
the ship, in which we should undoubtedly have suc- 
ceeded, as we bad a number of resolute fellows on 
board, had it not been for the treachery of a renegado 
Englishman, who betrayed us as i was pointed out 
by this fellow as the principal in the plot, I was or- 
dered in irons by the Officers of the Tartar, and in 
which situaiion 1 remained until the arrival of the 
ship at Portsmouth (Eng ) when I was brought on 
deck and closely examined, but protesting my inno- 
cence, and what was very fortunate for me in the 
course of the examination, the person by whom 1 had 
been betrayed, having been proved a British deserter, 
his story was discredited .and I was relieved of my i* 
rons* 



39 LIFE AND ADVENTUSES 

The prisoners were now all thoroughly cleansed" 
and conveyed to the marine hospital on shore, where 
many of us took the small-pox the na.ural way, by 
some whom we found in the hospital effected wiih 
that disease, and which proved fatal to nearly one 
half our number. From ihe hospital those of us who 
survived were conveyed to Spitheid, and put on 
board a Guard Ship, and where I had been confined 
with my fellow prisoners about one month, when I 
was ordered into the boat, to assist the bargemen (in 
consequence of the absence of one of their gang) in 
rowing the lieutenant on shore. As soon as we 
reached the shore and the officer landed, it was pro- 
posed by some of the boat's crew to resort tor a few 
moments to an ale -house, in the vicinity, to treat 
themselves to a few pots of beer ; which being agreed 
to by all, I thought this a favourable opportunity and 
the only one that might present > to escape from my 
Floating Prison, and felt determined not to let it past 
unimproved ; accordingly, as the boat's crew were a* 
bout to enter the house, 1 expressed a necessity of my 
seperating from them a few moments, to which ihey 
(not suspecting any design,) readily assented. As 
soon as 1 saw them all snugly in and the door clos- 
ed. I gave speed to my legs, and ran, as 1 then con- 
eluded, about four miles whhout once halting 1 
steered rny course toward London, as when there 
by mingling with the crowds 1 thought it probable 
that 1 should be least suspected. 

Wften I had reached the distance of about teh 



OF ISRAEL R, POTTER. 31 

miles from where I quit the bargemen and begin- 
ning to think myself in little danger of apprehen- 
sion, should any of them be sent by the lieutenant in 
pursuit of me, as ! was leisurely passing a public 
house, 1 was noticed and hailed by a naval officer at 
the door with " ahoi, what ship ?"- l no ship." was 
my reply, on which he ordered me to stop, but or 
which I took no-other notice than to observe to him 
that if he would attend to his own busiuess I would 
proceed quietly about mifie---this rather increasing 
than diminishing his suspicions that I was a deser- 
ter, garbed as I was, he gave chase finding my- 
self closely persued and unwilling again to be made 
a prisoner of, if it was possible to escape, 1 had 
once more to trust to my legs, and should have a- 
gain succeeded had not ihe officer, on finding him- 
self likely vo be distanced, set up a cry of "stop 
thief!" ihis brought numbers out of their houses 
and work- shops, who. joining in the pursuit, suc- 
ceeded after a chace of nearly a mile in overhaul- 
ing me 

Finding myself once more in their power and a 
perfect stranger to the country, I deemed it vain to 
attempt to deceive them with a lie, and therefore 
made a voluntary confession to the officer that I was 
prisoner of war, and related to him in what man- 
ner I had that morning made my escape. By the 
officer I was conveyed back to the Inn, and left in 
custody of two soldiers the former (previous to re- 
tiring) observing to the landlord that believing me 



12 L1IE AND ADVENTURES 

to be a true blooded yankee, requested him to sup* 
ply me at his expence with as much liquor as I 
should call for. 

The house was thronged early in the evening by- 
many of the " good and faithful subjects of King 
George," who had assembled to take a peep at the 
" yankee rebel," (as they termed me) who had so 
recently taken an active part in the rebellious war, 
then raging in his Majesty's American provinces- 
while others came apparently to gratify a curiosity 
in viewing, for the first time, an u American Yan- 
kee !" whom they had been taught to believe a kind 
of non descripts beings of much less refinement 
than the ancient Britains, and possessing Iktle more 
humanity than the Buccaniers. 

As for myself I thought it best not to be reserved, 
but to reply readily to all their inquiries ; for while 
my mind Was wholly employed in devising a plan to 
escape from the custody of my keepers, so far from 
manifesting a disposition to resent any of the insuUs 
offered me, or my country, to prevent any suspicions 
of my designs, I feigned myseit not a little pleased 
with their observations, and in no way dissatisfied 
vith my situation. As the officer had left orders 
with the landlord to supply me with as much liquor 
as I should be pleased to call for, I felt determined 
to make my keepers merry at his expence, if possi- 
ble, as the best means that I could adopt to effect 
my escape. 

The loyal group having attempted in vain to irri- 



t>f ISRAEL R. POTTER, ^3 

late me, by their mean and ungenerous reflections) 
by one (who observed that he had frequently heard 
it mentioned that the yankees were extraordinary 
dancers,) it was proposed that I should -entertain 
the company with a jig ! to which 1 expressed a 
willingness to assent with much feigned satisfaction, 
if a fiddler could be procured fortunately for them, 
there was one residing in the neighborhood, who 
was soon introduced, when 1 was obliged (although 
much against my owt inclination) to lake the floor 
with the full determination) however that if John 
Bull was to be thus diverted at the expence of an 
unfortunate prisoner of war, uncle Jo,, athan should 
come in for his part of the sport before morning) 
by show-ing them a few Tankee steps which they then 
Httle dreamed of. 

By my performances they were soon satisfied 
tliat in this kind of exercise, I should suffer but 
Httle in competition with the most nimble footed 
Britain among them : nor would they release me 
cntil I had danced myself into a state of perfect 
perspiration ; which, however, so far from being any 
disadvantage to me, I considered all in favour of 
my projected plan to escape tor while I was pleas- 
ed lo see the flowing bowl passing merrily about; 
and not unfrequently brought in contact with the 
lips of my two keepers, the state of perspiration 
that I was in, prevented its producing on me any 
intoxicating effects. 

The evening having become now for spent and 



24 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the company mostly retiring my keepers (who, 
to use a sailor's phrase 1 was happy to discover 
" half st as over") having much to my dissatisfaction 
fun ished me with a pair ot handcuffs spread a blank- 
et by the side of their bed on which i was to re- 
pose for the night, I feigned myself very grate- 
ful to them for having huiiiaueiy fin nibbed me with 
so comfortable a bed, and on which 1 stretched my- 
self with much apparent unconcern* and remained 
quiet about one hour, when I *vas sure that the 
family had ail retired to bed The important mo- 
ment had now arrived in which 1 was resolved to 
carry my premeditated plan into execution, or die 
in the attempt for certain I was that it I let this 
opportunity pass unimproved, I might have cause 
to regret it when it was too late -that I should 
most assuredly be conveyed early in the morning 
back to the floating prison from which I had so re- 
cently escaped, and where 1 might possibly re- 
main confined until America should obtain her in- 
dependence, or the differences between Great-Britain 
and her American provinces were adjusted. Yet 
should I in my attempt to escape meet with more 
opposition (u;m rt-y keepers, than what 1 had cal- 
culated from their apparent state of inebriaty, the 
contest I well knew would be very unequal they 
were two full grown stout men, with whom (if 
they were assisted by no others) J should have to 
contend, handcuffed! but, after mature delibera* 
tion, I resolved that however hazaidous the attempt; 
it should be made, and that immediately. 



ISRAEL R. POTTER. 25 

After remaining quiet, as Ibetore observed, until 
I thought it probable ihat all had retired to bed in 
the house, I intimated to my keepers that I was un- 
der the necessity of requesting permission to retire 
for a few moments to the back yard ; when both in- 
stantly arose and reeling towatd me seiz.d each an 
arm, and proceeded to conduct me through a long 
and narrow entry to the backdoor, which was no 
sooner unbolted and opr ned by one of them, than I 
tripped up the heels of boih and laid them sprawling, 
and in a moment was at the garden wall seeking a 
passage whereby I might gain the public road a: 
new and unexpected obstacle now presented, for I 
found the whole garden enclosed with a smooth brick- 
tn wall, of the heighth of twelve feet at least, and 
was prevented by the darkness of the night from, 
discovering an avenue leading therefrom in this 
predicament, niy only alternative was cither to scale 
this wall handcuffed as> I was, and without a moment's 
hesitation s or to suffer myself to be made a captive of 
again by my keepers, who had already recovered 
their feet and were bellowing like bullocks for assis- 
lance had it not been a very dark night, Tmust cer* 
tainly have been discovered and re-taken by them ; 
fortunately before they had succeeded in rallying the 
family, in groping about I met with a fruit tre sit- 
untc-.d within ten or twelve feet of the wall, which I 
ascended as expeditiously as possible, and by an ex- 
traordinary leap from the branches reached the top 
of the wall> and was in an instant on the opposit side. 



26 LIFB AN ADVENTURES 

The coast being now clear, I ran to the distance of 
two or three miles, with as much speed as my situa- 
tion would admit of ; my next object now was to rid 
myself of my handcuffs, which fortunately proving 
none of the stoutest, 1 succeeded in doing after much 
painful labour. 

It was npw as I judged about 13 o'clock* and 1 had 
succeeded in reaching a considerable distance from 
the Inn from which 1 had made my escape, without 
hearing or seeing any thing of my keepers, whom I 
had left staggering about in the garden in search of 
their " Yankee captive !" it was indeed to their in- 
toxicated state, and the extreme darkness of the -night! 
that I imputed my success in evading their pursuit. 
I saw no one until about the break of day, when I 
met an old man, tottering beneath the weight of his 
pick-ax, hoe and shovel, clad in tattered garments) 
and otherwise the picture of poverty and distress ; he 
had just left his humble dwelling, and was proceed- 
ing thus early to his daily labour j and as 1 was now 
satisfied that it would be very difficult for me to 
travel in the day time garbed as 1 was, in a sailor's 
habit, without txciting the suspicions of his Royal 
Majesty's pimps, who (1 had been iiiformed) were 
constantly on the look-out for deserters, I applyed to 
the old man, miserable as he appeared, for-a change 
ofcloathing, offering those which I then wore for a 
suit of inferior quality and less value this I was in- 
duced to do at that moment, as 1 thought that the 
proposal could be made with per feet safety, for what- 



07 ISRAEL R, POTTER. 2/ 

over might hare been his suspicions as to my mo- 
tives in wishing to exchange my dress I doubted not, 
that with an object of so much apparent distress, self* 
interest would prevent hit communicating them. 
The old man however appeared a little surprised at 
my offer, and after a short examination of my pea- 
jacket) trowsers, &c expressed a doubt whether i 
would be willing to exchange them for his " Church 
suit," which he represented as something worse for 
wear, and not worth half so much as those I then, 
were taking courage however from my assurances 
that a change of dresi was my only object, he depot 
sited his tools by the side of a hedge, and inviteu* 
me to accompany him to his house, which we soon 
reached and entered, when a scene of poverty and 
wretchedness presented, which exceeded every thing 
f the kind that 1 had ever before witnessed the 
internal appearance of the miserable hovel, I am 
confident would suffer in a comparison with any of 
the meanest stableg of our American farmers there 
was but one room* in one corner of which was a bed 
of straw covered with a coarse sheet, and on which 
reposed his wife and five small children. I had 
heard much of the impoverished and distressed sit 
uatien of the poor in England, but the present pre- 
sented an instance of which 1 had formed no concep- 
tion liule indeed did I then think that it would be 
my lot, before I should meet with an opportunity to 
return to my native country, to be placed in an infi- 
nitely worse situation ! but, alas, such was my bar! 
fortune t 



28 LIFE AN ADVENTURES 

The first garment presented by the poor old man, 
of his best, or " church suit," as he termed it, was a 
coat of very coarse cloth, and cootaining a number of 
patches of almost every colour but that of the cloth 
f which it wa originally made the next was a 
waistcoat and a pair of small cloathes, which appear- 
ed each to have received a bountiful supply of patch- 
es to correspond with the coat the coat 1 put on 
without much difficulty, but the two other garments 
proved much too small for me, and when I had suc- 
ceeded with considerable difficulty in putting them 
on, they set so taught as to cause me some apprehen- 
sion that they might even stop the circulation of 
blood I my next exchange was my buff-cap for an 
old rusty large brimmed hat. 

The old man appeared very much pleased with 
his bargain, and represented to his wife that he could 
now accomp&erp her to chutch nuch more decently 
clad he immediately tried on the pea-jacket and 
trowsers, and seemed to give himself very little con- 
cern about their size, although 1 am confident that 
one leg of the trowsers was sufficiently large to admit 
his whole body but, however ludicrous his appear- 
ance, in his new suit, I am confident that it could not 
have been more so than mine, garbed as I was, like 
an oilman of seventy 1 From my old friend I learn- 
ed the course that I must steer to reach London, the 
towns and villages that I should have to pass through, 
and the distance thereto, which was between 70 and 
80 miles, He likewise repiesemed to me that the 



03T- ISRAEL Fw POTTER i $- 

country was filled with soldiers, who were, on the 
constant look-out for deserters from the navy and ar- 
ray, for the apprehension of which they received a 
stipulated reward. 

After enjoining it on the old man not to give any* 
information of me, should he meet on the road an-y 
one who should enquire for such a person, I took -my 
leave of him, and again set out with a determination 
lo reach London, thus disguised, if possible ; I tra- 
velled about 30 miles that day, and -at night enVeretb 
a barn in hopes to find some straw or hay on which 
to repose for the night, for I had not money sufficient 
to pay for a night's lodging ai a public house, hscl f 
thought it prudent to app.ty for one in nvy expecta- 
tion to find either hay or straw in the barn I-was sad- 
ly disappointed, for I soon found that it contained not 
a lock of either, and sfier groping about in the dark 
in search of something ihat might serve fop a s-ubsti.- 
tute, I .found nothing better than an undressed sheep. 
skin wi'.h no other bed on which to repose-my woa 
ried limbs ! spent a sleepless night; cold, hungry and- 
weary, and impatient for Use arrival of the mortiing'a- 
dawn, that 1 might be enabled to pursue mv journey* 

By break of day I -again set out and soon found my- 
self within the suburbs of a considerable village, in 
passing which I was fearful there would be some risk 
of detection, but to guard myself as much as possible 
against suspicion, I furnished myself with a crutch, 
and feigning myself a cupple, hobled through the- 
town without meeting with any interruption In two 



3,9 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

hours after, I arrived in the vicinity of another still 
more considerable village, but fortunately for me, at 
the moment* I was overtaken by an empty baggage 
waggon, bound to London again feigning myself 
very lame, 1 begged of the driver to grant a poor 
ripple the indulgence to ride a few miles, to which 
he assenting, I concealed myself by lying prostrate on 
the bottom of the waggon, until we had passed quite 
through the village ; when, finding the waggoner dis- 
posed to drive much slower than what I wished to 
travel, after thanking him for the kind disposition 
which he had manifested to oblige me, I quite the 
waggon, threw away my crutch and travelled with a 
speed, calculated to surprise the driver with so sud- 
den a recovery of the use of my legs the reader will 
perceive that I had now become almost an adept at 
deception, which I would not however have so fre- 
quently practiced, had not self preservation demand- 
ed it. 

As I thought there would be in my journey to 
London, infinitely more danger of detection in pas- 
sing through large towns or villages, than in con- 
fining myself to the country, I avoided them as 
much as possible ; and as I found myself once more 
on the borders of one, apparently of much larger 
size than any that I had yet passed, I thought it 
most expedient to take a circuitous route to avoid 
it; in attempting which, I met with an almost in- 
surmountable obstacle, that I little dreamed of 
when nearly abreast of the iown ; 1 found my route 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER. 31 

obstructed by a ditch, of upwards of I* feet in 
breadth, and of what depth I could not determine^ 
as there was now no other alternative left me, but 
to leap this ditch, or to retrace my steps and pass 
through the town, after a moment's reflection I de- 
termined to attempt the former, although it would 
be attempting a fete of activity, that I supposed my- 
self incapable of performing ; yet, however incred- 
ible it may appear, I assure my readers that I did 
effect it, and reached the opposite side with dry 
feet! 

1 had now arrived within about 16 miles of Lon- 
don, when night approaching, I again sought lodg- 
ings in a barn ; which containing a small quantity 
of hay, I succeeded in obtaining a tolerable com* 
fortable night's rest. By the dawn of day I arose 
somewhat refreshed, and reasumed my journey 
with the pleasing prospect of reaching London be- 
fore night but, while encouraged and cheered by 
these pleasing anticipations, an unexpected occur- 
rence blasted my fair prospects I had succeeded 
in reaching in safety a distance so great from the 
place where I had been last held a prisoner, and 
within so short a distance of London, the place of 
my destination, that J began to think myself so far 
out of danger, as to cause me to relax in a meas- 
ure, in the precautionary means which I had made 
use of to avoid detection ; as I was passing through 
the town ot Staincs, (within a few miles of London) 
about 1 1 o'clock in the forenoon, I was met by 



$' 5LIF2 AND ADVENTURES 

three or four British soHic rs, whose notice I at- 
tracted, and who unfortunately for me, discovered 
by the collar (which i had not taken the precaution 
to conceal) that I wore a shirt which exactly cor- 
responded with those uniformly worn by his Majes- 
ty's seamen not being able to give a satisfactory 
account of myself, I was made a prisoner of, on 
suspicion of being a deserter from hi* Majesty's 
service, and was immediately committed to the 
the Round House ; a prison so called, appropriated 
to the confinement of runaways, and those convic- 
ted of small offences 1 was committed in the even- 
ing: and to secure me the more effectually, I was 
handcuffed, and left supperless by my unfeeling jail- 
or, to pass the night in wretchedness. 

I had now been three days without food (with 
the exception of a single two- penny loaf) and felt 
myself unable much longer to resist the cravings 
of nature my spirits, which until now had armed . 
me with fortitude began to forsake meindeed I. 
was at this moment on the eve of despair ! when, 
easing to mind that gri f would only aggravate 
my calamity, 1 endeavoured to arm my soul with 
patience ; and habiiuate myself as well as I could, 
to woe. -Accordingly 1 roused my spirits ; and ban- 
isimi^ for a few moments, these gloomy ideas, I 
began to reflect semusiy. on the methods how to.- 
extricat* mys; ;f irom this labyrinth of horror* 

My first object was to rid myseif of my hand- 
Guffs, whicn ^succeeded in doing after two hours 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER. 33 

Hard labour, by sawing them across the grating of 
the window ; having my hands now at liberty) tho 
next thing to be do^e was to force the door of my 
apartment, which was secured on the outside by a 
hasp and padlock ; 1 devised many schemes but for 
the want of tools to work with, was unable to carry 
them into execution---! however at length succeed* 
cd, with the assistance of no other instrument than 
the bolt of my handcuffs ; with which, thirsting my 
arm through a small window or aperture in the 
door, I forced the padlock* and as there was novr 
no other barrier to preveot my escape, after an 
imprisonment of about five hours, I was once more 
at large. 

It was now as I judged about midnight, and al- 
though enfeebled and tormented with excessive 
hunger and fatigue, I set out with the determina* 
tion of reaching London if possible, early the en- 
suing morning. By break of day I reached and pas- 
sed through Brintford, a town of considerable note 
and within six miles of the Capital but so great 
was my hunger at this moment, that I was under 
serious apprehension of falling a victim to absolute 
starvation, if not so fortunate soon to obtain some- 
thing to appease it. I recollected of haying read in 
my youth, accounts of the dreadful effects of hung* 
er which had led men to the commission of the 
most horrible excesses, but did not then think that 
fate would ever thereafter doom me to an almost 
similar situation. 



34 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

When I made my escape from the Prison ship six 
English penny s was all the money that I possessed 
with two I had purchased a two penny loaf the day af. 
ter I had escaped from my keepers at the inn, and the 
other four still remained in my possession, not having 
Diet with a favourable opportunity since the purchase 
of the first loaf to purchase food of any kind. When 
1 had arrived at the distance of one and an half miles 
from Biiniford, I met with a labourer employed in 
building H pale fence, to whom my deplorable situa- 
tion induced me to rpply for work ; 01 for i^f->t na- 
tion of any one in th& neighborhood, that might be in 
want of a band to work av farming or gardening. He 
informed me that he did not v/kh himself to hire, but 
that Sir John Millet, whose seat he represented but 
a short distant?, was in the habit of employing many 
hand*, at thai season of the year (which was in the 
spring of 1776) and he doubled not but lhal I might 
there meet with employment. 

With my spiruf a iulle revived., at even a distant 
pjrospect of obtaining something to alleviate my suf- 
ferings, I started- in quest or the seat of Su John, & 
greeable to the directions which 1 had received; in 
attempting to. reach which, I. mistook my way, and 
proceeded up a gia.vellcd and beautifully omumemed 
walk, which unconsciously led me dheciiy to the 
garden of the Brincess Amelia I* had approached 
within view of the Royal Mansion when a glimse of ft 
number of "red coats" who thronged t ho yard, sat. 
me of my mistake, and caused me to make aa-, 



V ISRAEL H. POTTER, tj 

instantaneous and precipitate retreat, being determin- 
ed, not to afford any more of their mess an opportu- 
nity of boasting of the capture of a '* Yankee Rebel," 
indeed, a wolf or bear, of the American wilder- 
ness, could not be more terrified or panic-struck at 
the sight of a firebrand, than I then was at that of a 
British red coat I 

Having succeeded in making good my retreat 
from the garden of her highness, without being dis 
covered I took another path which led me to where 
a number of labourers were employed in shovelling 
gravel, and to whom I repeated my enquiry if they 
could inform me of any in want of help, &c * why 
in troth friend (answered one in a dialect peculiar tc 
the labouring class of people of that part of the 
coumiy) me master, Sir John, hires a goodly many, 
and as we've a deal of work n,p*y, may-be he'll hire 
you; 'spose he btop a little with us 'until work is 
done, he may then gaqg along, and we'll question 
Sir John, whither him be wanting another like us or 
noi" 

Although I was sensible that an application of this 
kind, might lead to a discovery of my situation, 
whereby 1 might be again deprived or my liberty, 
and immured in a loathsome prison ; yet, as there 
was now no other alternative left me but to se^k in 
this way, something to satisfy the cravings of hung- 
er, or to yield a victim to starvation, with all Us 
attending horrors: of the the two evils 1 preferred 
the least, and concluded as the honest labourer had 



36 LIFE AVD ADVENTURES 

proposed, to await until they hnd completed their 
work, and then to accompany them home to ascer- 
tain the will of Sir John. 

As I had heaid much of the tyrannical and domi- 
neering disposition of the rich and purse-proud of 
England, and who were generally the loids of the 
manor, and the paiticular favourites* of the crown ; 
it was not without feeling a very considerable de- 
gree of diffidence, that 1 introduced my sell into the 
presence of one whom 1 strongly suspected to he 
of thai class but, what was peculiarly fortunate 
for me, a shoit acquaintance was sufficient to satis* 
fy me that as regarded this gentleman, my appre- 
hensions were without cause. 1 found him walking 
in his front yard in company with several gentleman, . 
and en being made acquainted with my business, his 
first enquiry was whether I had a hoe, or money 
to purchace one t and on being answered in the 
negative, he requested me to call early the ensu- 
ing morning} and he would endeavour to furnish 
me with one. 

It is impossible for me to express the satisfaction 
that I felt at this prospect of a deliverance from 
my wretched situation. 1 was now by so long fast- 
ing reduced to such a state of weakness, that my 
legs were hardly able to support me, and it was 
with extreme difficulty that I succeeded in reach- 
ing a baker's shop in the neighborhood, where with 
my four remaining pennys, which I had reserved 
for a last resource> 1 purchased two two-penny 
leaves. 



Of ISRAEL R. POTTER* 3f 

After four days of intolerable hunger, the reader 
may judge how great must have been my joy, to 
find myself in possession of even a morsel to ap- 
pease it well might I have exclaimed at this mo. 
ment with the unfortunate Trenck " O nature I 
what delight hast thou combined with the gratifica^ 
tion of thy wants ! remember this ye who rack in. 
vention to excite appetite, and which yet you can- 
not procure ; remember how simple are the means 
that will give a crust of mouldy bread a flavour more 
exquisite than ail the spiees : of the east, or all the 
profusion of land or sea ; remember this, grow 
hungry, and indulge your sensuality." 

Although five times the quantity of the '" staff of 
life" would have been insufficient to have satisfied 
my appetite, yet, as I thought it improbable that I 
should be indulged \vith a mouthful of any thing to 
eat in the morning, I concluded to eat then but one 
loaf, and 10 reserve the other for another meal ; 
but having eaten one, so far from satisfying, it seem* 
cd rather to increase my appetite for the other the 
temptation was irresistabie the cravings of hunger 
predominated, and would not be satisfied until I had 
devoured the remaining one. 

The day was now far spent and I was compelled 
to resort wiih reluctance to a carriage house, to 
spend another night in misery j 1 found nothing 
therein on which to repose my wearied limbs but 
U,e bare floor, which was sufficient to deprive me 
of sleep, however much exhausted nature required 

4 



38 LIFE AND AB VENTURES 

it ; my spirits were however buoyed up by the pleas- 
ing consolation that the succeeding day would bring 
relief ; as soon as day light appeared. I hastened 
to await the commands of one, whom, since my first 
introduction! I could not but flatter myself would 
prove my benefactor, and afford me that relief which 
iny pitiful situation so much required it was an 
Jiour much earlier than that at which even the domes- 
tics were in the habit of arising, and I had been a 
considerable time walking back and fourth in the 
barn yard, before any made their appearance. It 
was now about 4 o'clock, and by the person of whom 
I made the enquiry, I was informed that 8 o'clock 
was the usual hour \n which the labourers commen- 
ced their day's work permission was granted me 
by this perso (who had the care of the stable) to 
repose myself on some straw beneath the manger, 
until they should be in readiness to depart to com- 
mence their day's work in the four hours I had a 
more comfortable nap than any that I had enjoyed 
the four preceding nights. At 8 o'clock precisely 
all hands were called, and preparations made for a 
commencement of the labours of the day I was 
furnished with a large iron fork and a hoe, and or* 
dered by my employer to accompany them, and al- 
though my strength at this moment was hardly suf- 
ficient to enable me to bear even so light a bur- 
then, yet was unwilling to expose my weakness, so 
long as it could be avoidedbut, the time had now 
arrived in which it was impossible for me any long* 



OF ISRAEL R POTTER. $>' 

r to conceal it, and had to confess the cause to my 
fellow. labourers, so far as to declare to them, that 
such had been my state of poverty, that (with tha 
exception of the four small loaves of bread) I had 
not tasted food for four days ! I was not I must 
confess displeased nor a little disappointed to witness 
the evident emotions of pity and commiseration, 
which this woeful declaration appeared to excite in 
their minds : as I had supposed them too much ac- 
customed to witness scenes of misery and distress, 
to have their feelings much effected by a brief reci- 
tal of my suffering and deprivations but in justice 
to them I must aay, that although a very illiterate, 
1 found them (with a few exceptions) a human* 
and benevolent people. 

About 11 o'clock we were visited by our employ* 
er, Sir John : who, noticing me particularly, and 
perceiving the little progress I made in my labour, 
observed, that although 1 had the appearance of be- 
ing a stout hearty man ; yet 1 either feigned myself 
or really was a very weak one ! on which it was 
immediately observed by one of my friendly fellow 
labourers, that it was not surprising that I lacked 
strength, as I had eaten nothing of consequence for 
four days J Mr. Millet, who appeared at first lit- 
tle disposed to credit the fact, on being assured 
by me that it was really so, put a shilling into my 
hand, and bid me go immediately and purchase to 
that amount in bread and meat a request which 
the reader may suppose 1 did not hesitate to comply 
with. 



4 LI?E AND ADV3NTUBES 

Having made a tolerable meal, and feeling some- 
what refreshed thereby, I was on my return when I 
was met by my fellow labourers on their return home 
four o'clock being the hour in which they usually 
quit work. As soon as we arrived, some victuals 
was ordered for me by Sir John, when the maid pre- 
senting a much smaller quantity, than what her be- 
nevolent master supposed sufficient to satisfy the ap- 
petite of one who had been four days fasting, she was 
ordered to return and bring out the platter and the 
whole of its contents and of which I was requested 
to eat my fill, but of which T eat sparingly to prevent 
the dangerous consequences which might have re- 
sulted from my voracity in the debilitated state to 
Which my stomach was reduced. 

My light repast being over, one of the men were 
ordered by my hospitable friend to provide for me a 
tfomfortabie bed in the barn, where 1 spent the night 
on a couch of clean straw, more sweetly than ever I 
had done in the days of my better fortune. 1 arose 
early much refreshed, and was preparing after break- 
fast to accompany the labourers to their work, which 
was no sooner discovered by Sir John, than smiling, 
he bid me return to my couch and there remain un- 
til 1 was in a better state to resume my labours ; in- ; 
deed the generous compassion and benevolence of 
this gentleman was unbounded* After having on 
that day partook of an excellent dinner, which had 
been provided expressly for me, and the domestics 
having been ordered to retire, 1 was not a little sur- 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTEft. 41 

prised to hear myself thus addressed by him" my 
honest friend, 1 perceive that you are a sea-faring 
man, and your history probably is a secret which you 
may not wish to divulge; but, whatever circumstan- 
ces may have attended you, you may make them- 
known to me with the greatest safety, for I pledge 
my honour I will never betray you," 

Having experienced so many proofs of the friend- 
ly disposition of Mr Millet, I could not hesitate a 
moment to comply witb his request, and without at- 
tempting to conceal a single fact made him acquain- 
ted with every circumstance that had attended me 
since my first enlistment as a soldier after expres- 
sing his regret that there should be any of his coun- 
trymen found so void of the principles of humanity, 
as to treat thus an unfortunate prisoner of war, he as- 
sured me that so long as I remained in his employ 
he would guarantee my safety adding, that notwith- 
standing (in consequence ot the unhappy differences 
which then prevailed between Great Britain and her 
American colonies) the inhabitants of the latter were 
denominated Rebels, yet they were not without their 
friends in England, who wished well to their cause, 
and would cheerfully aid them whenever an oppor- 
tunity should present he represented the soldiers 
(whom it had been reported to me, were constantly 
on the look out for deserters) as a set of mean and 
contemptible wretches, little better than a lawless 
banditti, who, to obtain the fee awarded by govern- 
ment, for the apprehension of a deserter, would be- 
u* their best friends, 



42 tlFE ANB ADVENTURES 

Having been generously supplyed with a new suit 
ofcloathes and other necessaries by Mr. M. I con- 
tracted with him for six months, to superintend his 
strawbury garden, in the course of which so far from 
being molested, 1 was not suspected by even his own 
domestics of being an American at the expiration 
of the six months, by the recommendation of my hos- 
pitable friend, I got a birth in the garden of the Prin- 
ces, Amelia, where although among my fellow la- 
bourers the American Rebellion was not unfrequent- 
Jy the topic of their conversation, and the " d d 
Yankee Rebels" (as they termed them) frequently 
the subjects of their vilest abuse, 1 was little suspec- 
ted of being one of that class whom they were pleas- 
ed thus to denominate -1 must confess that it was 
not without some difficulty; that I was enabled to sur 
press the indignant feelings occasioned by hearing 
my countrymen spoken so disrespectfully of, but as 
a single word in their favour might have betrayed me, 
1 could obtain no other satisfaction than by secretly 
indulging the hope that I might before the conclusion 
of the war, have an opportunity to repay them, in 
their own coin> with interest. 

1 remained in the employ of the Princess shout 
three months, and then in consequence of a misun- 
derstanding with the overseer, I hired my self to a far- 
mer in a small village adjoining Brintford, where I 
had not been three weeks employed before rumour 
was afloat that I was a Yankee Prisoner of war ! trom 
whence the report arose, or by what occcasioned> i 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER. 4 

never could learn it no sooner reached the ears of 
the soldiers, than ihey were on the alert, seeking an 
opportunity to seize my person fortunately I was 
apprised of their intentions before they had time to 
carry them into effect; I was however hard pushed) 
and sought for by them with that diligence and per- 
severance that certainly deserved a better cause I 
had many hair breadth escapes, and most assuredly 
should have been taken, had it not been for the friend- 
ship of those whom I suspect felf not less friendly to 
the cause of my country, but dare not publicly avow 
it I was at one time traced by the soldiers in pursuit 
of me to the house of one of this description, in whose 
garret I was concealed, and was at that moment in 
bed ; they entered and enquired for me, and on be- 
ing told that 1 was not in the house, they insisted on 
searching, and were in the act of ascending the cham- 
ber stairs for that purpose, when seizing ray cloathes, 
1 passed up through the scuttle, and reached the root' 
of the house, and from thence half naked passed to 
those of the adjoining ones to the number of ten or 
twelve, and succeeded in making my escape without 
being discovered. 

Being continually harrassed by night and day by 
the soldiers, and driven 1'rona place to place, without 
an opportunity to pertorm a day's work, I was ad- 
vised by one whose sincjrfty 1 could not doubt, to 
apply for a birth as a wbourer in a garden of his 
Royal Majesty, situated in the village o' Quew, a 
few miles from -filiation) j where, under the pro* 



44 LIFE AND AIM'ENTURSS 

tection of his Majesty, it was represented to me 
that I should be perfectly safe, as the soldiers dare 
not approach the royal premises, to molest any one. 
therein employedhe was indeed so friendly as to 
introduce me personally to the overseer v as an ac- 
quaintance who possessed a perfect knowledge of 
gardening, but from whom he carefully concealed 
the fact of my being an American born, and of the 
suspicion entertained by some of my being a pris- 
oner of war, who had escaped the vigilance of ray- 
keepers. 

The overseer concluded to receive me on trial ; 
it was here that I had not only frequent oppor- 
tunities to see his Royal Majesty in person, in his 
frequent resorts to this, one of his country retreats, 
but once had the honour of being addressed by him. 
The fact was, that I hud not been one week em* 
ployed in the garden, before the suspicion of my, 
being either a prisoner of war, or a Spy, in the 
employ of the American Rebels, was communica- 
ted, not only to the overseer and other persons em- 
ployed in the garden, but even to the King him- 
self ! As I was one day busily engaged with three 
ethers in gravelling a walk, I was unexpectedly ac. 
costed by his Majesty : who, with much apparent 
good nature, enquired of me of what country I 
was '* an American born, may it please your ma- 
jesty/' was my reply (taking off my hat, which he 
requested me instantly to replace on my head,)- 
'( ah 1 (continued he with a smile) an American, a- 



OF ISRAEL R, FOTTSR. 45 

stubborn, a very stubborn people indeed i and what 
brought you to tbis country, and how long have you 
been here?" M the fate of war, your Majesty- I 
was brought to this country a prisoner about eleven 
months since," and thinking this a favourable op* 
portunity to acquaint him with a few of my griev- 
ances, I briefly Mated to him how much I had been 
harassed by the soldiers " while here employed 
they will not trouble you," was the only reply he 
made, and passed on. The familiar manner in 
which I had been interrogated by his majesty, had 
I must confess a tendency in some degree to pre- 
possess me in his favour I at least suspected 
iiim to possess a disposition less tyrannical, and ca- 
pable of better views than what had been imputed 
to him ; and as I had frequently heard it repre- 
sented in America, that uninfluenced by such of his 
ministers, as unwisely disregarded the reiterated 
complaints of the American people, he would have 
been foremost to have redressed their grievance^ 
of which they so justly complained. 

I continued in the service of his Majesty's gardner 
at Qeuw, about.four months, when ihe'season having 
Thrived in which the work of tne garden required less 
labourers I with three others was discharged ; and 
the day after engaged myself for a few months, to a 
farmer in the town and neighborhood where 1 had 
been last employed but, not one week had expired 
before the old story of my being an American priso- 
ner of war &c, was revived and industriously circle 



46 LIFE AMD ADVENTUR2* 

Jated, and the soldiers (eager to obtain the proffered 
bounty) like a pack of blood-hounds were again on 
the track seeking an opportunity to surprise me 
the house wherein I had taken up my abode, was se- 
veral times thoroughly searched by them, but 1 was 
always so fortunate as to discover their approach in 
season to make good my escape by the assistance of 
a friend- to so much inconvenience however did 
this continual apprehension and fear subject me, that 
1 was finally half resolved to surrender myself a pri- 
soner to some of his Majesty's officers; and submit to 
my fate, whatever it might be, when by an unexpec- 
ted occurrence . and ihe seasonable interposition of 
providence in my favour, I. was induced to change my 
resolution. 

I had been strongly of the opinion by what I had 
myself experienced, that America was not without 
her friends in England, and those who were her well 
wishers in the important cause in which she was at 
that moment engaged ; an opinion which i think no 
one will disagree with me in saying, was somewhat 
confirmed, by a circumstance of that importance^ as 
entitles it to a conspicuous place in my narrative* 
At a moment when driven almost to a state of des- 
pondency by continual alarms and fears of falling in- 
tojthe hands of a set of desperadoes, who for a very 
small reward would willingly have undertaken the 
commission of almost any crime; I received a mes- 
sage from a gentleman of respectability of Brintford 
(J, Woodcock EsqO requesting me to repair imnie- 



tF ISRAEL R. POTTER. 47 

diately to his house the invitation 1 was disposed to 
pay but little attention to t as I viewed it nothing more 
than a plan of my pursuers to decoy and entrap me 
but, on learning from my confidential friend that 
the gentleman by whom the message had been sent, 
was one whose loyalty had been doubted, I was in- 
duced to comply with the request* 

I reached the house of 'Squire Woodcock about 8 
e'clock in the evening, and after receiving from him 
at the door assurances that I might enter without fear 
or apprehension of any design on his pan against me, 
I suffered myself to be introduced into a private 
chamber, where were seated two other gentlemen, 
who appeared to be persons of no mean rank, and 
proved to be no other than Home Touke and James 
Bridges Esquires -as all three of these gentlemen 
tiave long since paid the debt of nature, and are pla- 
ced beyond the reach of such as might be disposed 
to persecute or reproach them for their disloyally, I 
can now with perfect safety disclose their names- 
names which ought to be dear to every tiue Ameri- 
can. 

After having (by their particular request) furnHi. 
-ed these gentlemen with a brief account of the most 
important incidents of my life, I underwent a very 
strict examination, as they seemed determined to sat- 
isfy themselves, before they made any important ad- 
vances or disclosures, that I was a person in whom 
they could repose implicit confidencet Finding me 
Firmly attached to the interests of my country, so 



48 LIFE AN ADVENTURES 

much so as to be willing to sacrifice even my life if 
necessary in her behalf,they began to address me with 
less reserve ; and after bestowing the highest encom- 
iums on my countrymen, for the bravery which they 
had displayed in their recent engagements with the 
British troops, as well as for their patriotism in pub* 
licly manifesting their abhorrence and detestation of 
the ministerial party in England, who to alienate their 
affections and to enslave them, had endeavoured to 
subvert the British constitution ; they enquired of me 
if (to promote the interests of my country) I should 
have any objection to take a trip to Paris, on an 
important mission, if my passage ar.d other expert 
ces were paid, and a generous compensation ai- 
lowed me for my trouble ; and which in all prob- 
ability would lead to the means whertby I might 
be enabled to return to rny country 10 which I 
replied that I should have none. After having en- 
joined upon me to keep every thing which they 
had communicated, a piofound secret, they pre- 
sented me with a guinea, and a letter for a gen- 
tleman in White Waltam (a country town about SO 
miles from B;intibrcl) which they requested me to 
reach as soon as possible, and there remain until 
they should send lor me, and by no means to fail 
to arrive at the precise hour that they should ap- 
point. 

After partaking of a little refreshment I set out 
at 12 o'clock at night, and reached White Wat- 
tarn at half past 11 the succeeding day, and imiwe* 



OT ISRAEL R. POTTER; 49 

dlately waited on and presented the letter to the 
gentleman to whom it was directed, and who gave 
me a very cordial reception, and whom I soon 
found was as real airiend 10 America** cause as the 
three gentlemen in whose company I had last been- 
It was from him that 1 received the first info' maiion 
of the evacuation of Boston by the Biitish troops, and 
of the declaration of IKDEPEMOENCL, by the Ameri- 
can Congress he indeed appeared to possess a 
knowledge of almost every important transaction ire 
America, since the memorable battle of Banker-Hill^ 
and it was to him thai 1 was indebted for many par- 
ticulars, not a little interesting to myself, and which 
I might otherwise have remained ignorant of, as I 
have always found it a principle of the Britains, to 
conceal every thing calculated to diminish or tarnish 
their fame, as a " great and powerful nation 1" 

1 remained in the family of this gentleman about 
a fortnight, when I received a letter from "Squire 
Woodcock, requesting me to be at his house with* 
out fail precisely at 2 o'clock the morning ensuing- 
in compliance of which I packed up and started im- 
mediately for Brintford, and reached the house of 
'Squire Woodcock at the appointed hourI found 
there in company with the latter, the two gentlemen 
whose names, I have before mentioned, and by whom 
the object of my mission to Paris was now made 
known to me which was to convey in the most se- 
cret manner possible a letter to Dr. FRANKLIN ; eve- 
ry thing was in readiness, and a chaise ready harness- 
5 



53 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ed which was to convey me to Charing Cross, wait- 
ing at the door I was presented with a pair of boots., 
made expressly for me, and for the safe conveyance 
of the letter of which 1 was to be the bearer, one of 
them contained a false heel, in which the Utter was 
deposited, and was to be thus conveyed to the Doc- 
tor. After again repeating my former declarations, 
4hat whatever might be my fate, they should never 
be exposed, I departed, and was conveyed in quick 
time to Charing Cross, where ] took the post coach 
for Dover, and from thence was immediately convey- 
ed in a packet to Calais, and in fifteen minutes after 
landiag, started for Paris ; which 1 reached in safety, 
and delivered to Dr. Franklin the letter of which I 
was the bearer. 

What were the contents of this letter! was never 
informed and never knew, but had but little doubt 
but that it contained important information relative to 
the views of the British cabinet, as regarded the af 
fairs of America ; and although I well knew that a 
discovery (while within the British dominions) would 
have proved equally fatal to me as to the gentlemen 
by whom I was employed, yet, 1 most solemnly de- 
clare, that to be. serviceable to my country at that im- 
portant period, was much more of an object with me, 
than the reward which 1 had been promised, howev- 
er considerable it might be. My interview with Dr 
Franklin was a pleasing one for nearly an hour he 
cu^ersed with me in the ir.ost agreeable and instruc- 
tive xnanr.er, and Jistf ned to the tale of my sufferings 



OJf ISRAEL R. POTTER. i 

with much apparent interest, and seemed disposed to 
encourage me with the assurance that if the Ameri- 
cans should succeed in their grand object, and firm* 
ly establish their Independence, they would not fail 
to remunerate their soldiers for their services but, 
alas ! as regards myself, these assurances have not 
as yet been verified ! I am confident, however, that 
had it been a possible thing for that great and good 
znan (whose humanity and generosity have been the 
theme of infinitely abler pens than mine) to have liv- 
ed to this day, I should not have petitioned my coun- 
try in vain for a momentary enjoyment of that provi- 
sion, which has been extended to so great a portion 
of my fellow soldiers ; and whose hardships and de- 
privations, in the cause of their country, could not I 
am sure have been half so grear as mine ! 

After remaining two days in Paris, letters were de- 
livered to me by the Doctor, to convey to the gentle- 
men by whom I had been employed, and which for 
their better security as well as my own, I deposited 
as the other, in the heel of my boot, and with which 
to the great satisfaction of my friends 1 reached Brint- 
ford, in safety, and without exciting the suspicion of 
any one as to the important, (although somewhat dan- 
gerous) mission that I had been engaged in. JB re- 
mained secreied in the house of 'Squire Woodcock 
a few clays, and then by his and the two other gentle- 
mei.'s request, made a second trip to Paris, and in 
reaching which and in delivering my letters, was e* 
qually as fortunate as in my first. If I should sue- 



52 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

eed in returning in safety to Brintford this trip, i 
Was (agreeable to the generous proposal of Doctor 
Franklin) to return immediately to France, from 
Whence he was to procure me a passage to America ? 
but, although in my return I met with no difficul- 
ty} yet, as if fate had selected me as a victim to en- 
dure the miseries and privations which alterward at- 
tended me, but three hours before 1 reached Dover 
to engage a passage for the third and last time to Ca. 
Jaist all intercourse between the two countries was 
prohibited ! 

My flattering expectations of being enabled soon 
to return to my native country, and once more to 
meet and enjoy the society of my friends, (after an 
absence of more than twelve months) being thus by 
an unforeseen circumstance completely destroyed, I 
returned immediately to the gentlemen by whom I 
had been last employed to advise with them what it 
Would be best for me to do, in my then unpleasant 
situation for indeed, as all prospects were now at an 
end, of meeting with an opportunity very soon to re- 
turn to America, I could not bear the idet of remain- 
ing any longer in a neighborhood where I was so 
strongly suspected of being a fugitive from justice 
and under continual apprehension ot being retaken, 
and immured Hke a felon in a dungeon, 

By these gentlemen 1 was advised to repair imme- 
diately to London, where employed as a labourer, if I 
did not imprudently betray myself they thought there 
was little probability of my being suspected ot being 



OF ISRAEL a, POTTER. 53 

an American. This advice 1 readily accepted as the 
plan was such a one as exactly accorded with my o- 
pinion, for from the very moment that I first escaped 
from the clutches of my captors, I thought that i i 
the city of London I should not be so liable to be sus- 
pected and harrassed by the soldiers, as I should to 
remain in the country. These gentlemen supplied 
me with money sufficient to defray ray expence* and 
would have willingly furnished me with a recom- 
mendation had they not been tearful that if 1 should 
be so unfortunate as to be recognised by any one ac- 
quainted with the circumstance of my capture and es 
cape, those recommendations (as there loyalty was 
already doubted) might operate much against them } 
in as much as they might furnish a clue to the dis- 
covery of some transactions which they then felt un- 
willing to have exposed. I ought here to state that 
before 1 set out for London, I was entrusted by these 
gentlemen with Five Guineas, which I was request- 
ed to convey and distribute among 1 a number of A- 
mericans, then confined as prisoners of war, in one of 
the city prisons 

I reached London late in the evening and the next 
day engaged board at Five Shillings per week, .-t a 
public house in Lombard Street, where under. a ficti- 
cious name I passed for a farmei from Lincolnshire 
my next object was to find my way to the prison where 
were confined as prisoners of war a number of my 
countrymen, and among whom I was directed to dis- 
tribute the 5 guineas with which 1 had been entrust- > 
5* ' 



54 L1IE AND ADVENTURES 

cd for that purpose by their fi lends at Brintfcrd. 
found the prison without much difficulty, but it was 
with very considerable difficulty that 1 gained admit- 
tance, and not until I had presented the turnkey with 
a considerable lee would he consent to indulge me, 
The reader will suppose that I must have been very 
much surprised, when, as soon as the door of the pri- 
soner's apartment was opened, and 1 had passed the 
threshold* to hear one of them exclaim with much 
apparent astonishment, u Potter 1 is that you J how in 
the name of heaven came you here !'* an exclama- 
tion like this by one of a number to whom 1 suppos- 
ed myself a perfect stranger, caused me much un- 
easiness for a few moments, as I expected nothing 
less than to recognize in this man, some one of my 
old shipmates, who had undoubtedly a knowledge oi 
the fact of my being a prisoner of war, and having 
been confined as such on boaid the guard ship at spit- 
head but| in this I soon found to my satisfaction 
that I was mistaken, for after viewing for a moment 
the person by whom I had been thus addressed, I 
discovered him to be no other than my old friend 
seargent Singles, with whom 1 had been intimately 
acquainted in America as the exclamation was in 
presence of the turnkey, least I should have the key 
turned upon me, and be considered as lawful a pri- 
soner as any of the rest, 1 hinted to my iriend that 
lie certainly mistook me (a Lincolnshire farmer) for 
another person, and by a wink which he received from 
me at the same moment gave him to understand that 



OF ISRAEL R, POTTER. 55 

a renewal of our acquaintance or an exchange of ci- 
vilities would be more agreeable to me at any other 
time. I now as 1 hail been requested divided the mo- 
ney as equally as possible among tnem, and to pre- 
vent the suspicions of the keeper, I represented to 
them in a feigned dialect peculiar to the labouring 
people of the Shire-towns, that," me master was ow- 
ing a little trifle or so to a rebel trader of one of his 
Majesty's American provinces, and was quested by 
him to pay the ballance and so, to his brother yankee 
rebels here imprisoned ." 

1 found the poor fellows (fifteen in number) con- 
fined in a dark filthy apartment of about 18 feet 
square; and which I could not perceive contained 
any thing but a rough piank bench of about IO feet 
in length, and a heap of straw with one or two tatter, 
ed, filthy looking blankets spread thereon, which was 
probably the only bedding allowed them although 
their situation was such as could not fail to excite my 
pity, yet I could do no more than lament that it was 
not in my power to relieve them hew long they re- 
mained thus confined or when exchanged, I could ne- 
ver learn, as I never to my knowledge saw one of 
them afterwards. 

For four or five days, after I reached London, I did 
very little more than walk about the city, viewing 
such cuiiosities as met my eye ; when, reflecting 
that remaining thus idle, I should not only be very 
soon out of funds, but should run the risk of being 
suspected and apprehended as one belonging to one 



5 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

of the numerous gangs of pick pockets Sec. which in- 
fest the streets of the city; I applied to an Iivelli- 
gence Office for a coachman's birth, which I was so 
fortunate, as to procure, at '5 shillings per week-- 
my employer (J. Hyslop, Esq) although rigid in 
his exactions; was punctual in his payments, and by 
my strict prudence and abstinence from the numer- 
ous diversions of the city, I #as enabled in the six 
months which I served him, to lay up more cash 
than what I had earned the twelve months prece- 
ding. The next business in which I engaged was 
that of brick making, and which together with that 
of gardening, I pursued in the summer seasons al 
most exclusively for five years ; in all which time 
I was not once suspected of being an American, 
yet, I must confess that my feelings were not un- 
frequently most powerfully wrought upon, by hear- 
ing my countrymen dubbed with cowardice, and by 
those too who had been thrice flogged or frighten* 
ed by them when attempting to ascend the heights 
of Bunker Hill ! and to De obliged to brook these 
insults with impunity, as to have resented them 
would have caused me to have been suspected di- 
rectly of being attached to the American cause, 
which might have been attended with serious con* 
sequences. 

I should now pass over the five years that I was 
employed as above mentioned, as cnecquered by 
few incidents worth ielating ; was it not for one or 
two circumstances of some little importance that. 



OF ISRAEL R, PATTER. &7 

citherattcnded me, or came within my own person- 
al knowledge. The reader has undoubtedly heard 
that the city of London and its suburbs, is always 
more or less infested with gangs of nefarious wretch- 
es, who come under the denomination of Robbers, 
Pickpockets, Shoplifters, Swindlers, Beggars, &c. 
who are constantly prowling the streets in disguise, 
seeking opportuniiies to surprise and depredate on 
the weak and unguarded of these the former class 
form no inconsiderable portion, who contrive to e- 
lude and set at defiance the utmost vigilance of 
government they are a class who in the day time 
disperse each to his avocation, as the better to blind 
the scrutinizing eye of justice, they make it a prin- 
ciple to follow some laborious profession, and at 
night assemble to proceed on their nocturnal rounds, 
in quest of those whose well stored pockets promise 
them a reward, equal to the risk which they run in 
obtaining it. As I was one evening passing through 
Hyde Park, with five guineas and a few pennys in 
my pockets, 1 was stopped by six of these lawless 
footpads ; who, presenting pistols to my breast, de- 
manded my money .fortunately for me I had pre- 
\iously deposited the guineas in a private pocket of 
my pantaloons, for their better security ; thirsting 
their hands into my other pockets and finding me in 
possession of but a few English pennys, they took 
them and decamped. I hastened to Bow Street and 
lodged information of the robbery with the officers, 
and who U my no little surprise informed me that 







LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



mine was the fifth instance, of information of simi- 
lar robberies by the same gang, which had been 
lodged with them that evening ! runners had been 
sent in every direction in pursuit of inerty but with 
what success I could never learn. 

Despairing of meeting with a favourable oppor- 
tunity to return to America, until the conclusion of 
peace, and the prospects of a continuation of the 
war being as great then (by what I could learn) as 
at any period from its commencement, I became 
liiore reconciled to my situation, and contracted an 
intimacy with a young irouaan whose parents were 
poor but respectable, and who I soon after married, 
J took a small ready furnished chamber, in Red 
Cross street, where with the fruit* of my hard 
earnings, I was enabled to live tolerable comforta- 
ble for three or fomr yearswhen, by sickness and 
other unavoidable circumstances, 1 was doomed to 
endure miseries uncommon to human nature. 

In the winter of 1781, ne\vs was received in Lon- 
don of the surrender of the army of Lord Corn* 
wallis, to the French and American forces ! the 
receipt of news of an event so unexpected operated 
on the Biitish ministers and members of Parlia- 
ment, like a tremendous clap of thunder deep sor- 
row was evidently depicted in the countenances of 
those who had been the most strenuous advocates 
for the war i, ever was there a time in which I 
longed more to exult, and to declare myself a true 
blooded yankee and what was still more pleasing 



OS 1 ISRAEL R. POTTER. 59 

to me, was to find myself even surpassed in expres- 
sions of joy and satisfaction, by my wife, in conse* 
quence of the receipt of news, which, while it went 
to establish the military fame of my country men^ 
was so calculated to humble the pride of her own ! 
greater proofs of her regard for me and my country 
I could not require, 

The ministerlpparty in Parliament who had been 
the instigators of the war* and who believed that 
even a view of the bright glistening muskets and 
bay ones of John Bull, would frighten the leather 
apron Yankees to a speedy submission, began now 
to harbour a more favourable opinion of the courage 
of the latter. Mis Majesty repaired immediately 
to the house of peers, and opened the sessions of 
parliament warm debates look place, on account 
of the ruinous manner in which the American war 
was continued ; but Lord North and his party ap- 
peared yet unwilling to give up the contest. The 
capitulation of Cornwallis had however one good 
effect, as it produced the immediate release of Mr. 
juaurens from the Tower, and although it did not 
put an immediate end to the war, yet all hopes of 
conquering America from that moment appeared to 
be given up by all except North and his adher* 



There was no one engaged in the cause of Ameri- 
ca> that did more to establish herfa:.ns m Enghnd, 
and to satisfy the high boasting Britains of the 
bravery and unconquerable resolutions of the "an- 



60 LIFE AKD ADVENTURES 

kees, than that bold adventurer capt. Paul Jones ; 
who, lor ten or eleven months kept all the western 
coast of the island in alarm he boldly landed at 
Whitehaven, where he burnt a ship in the harbour, 
and even attempted to burn the town ; nor was 
this to my knowledge the only instance in which 
the Britains were threatened Mritjwa very serious 
conflagration, by the instigation SPtheir enemies 
abroad a daring attempt was made by one James 
Aitkin, commonly known in London by the name 
of John the Painter, to set fire to the royal dock 
ar;d shipping at Portsmouth, and would probably 
Jiave succeeded, had he not imprudently communi- 
cated his intentions to one, who, lor the sake of a 
few guineas, shamefully betrayed him poor Aiikin 
was immediately seized, tried, Condemned, execu- 
ted and hung in chains -every means was used to 
extort from him a confession by whom he had been 
employed, but without any success it was however 
strongly suspected that he had been employed by 
the FreRch, as it was about the time that they open- 
ly declared themselves in favour of the Americans. 
With regard to Mr. Laurens, I ought to have 
mentioned that as soon as I heard of his capture on 
his passage to Holland, and of his confinement in 
the Tower, 1 applied for and obtained permission 
to visit him in his apartment, and ;with some dis- 
tant hopes that he might point out some way in 
which I might be enabled to return to America) I 
itated to him every particular as regarded my situ* 






OF ISRAEL H. POTTER. 6) 

ation. He seemed not only to lament very much 
my hard fortune, but (to use his own words) " that 
America should be deprived of the services of such 
men, at the important period too when she most re- 
quired them.*' He informed me that he was him- 
self held a prisoner, and. knew not when or on what 
conditions he would be liberated, but should he 
thereafter be in a situation to assist me in obtaining 
a passage to America, he should consider it a duty 
which he owed his country to do it. 

Although I succeeded in obtaining by my indus- 
try, a tolerable living for myself and family, yet, so 
far from becoming reconciled to my situation, I was 
impatient for the return of Peace, when (as 1 then 
flattered-myself) I should once more have an oppor- 
tunity to return to my native country. I became eve- 
ry dsy less attached to a country where i could not 
meet with any thing (with the exception of my little 
family) that could compensate me fur the loss of the 
pleasing society of my kindred and friends in Amer- 
ica born among a moral and humane people, and 
having in my early days contracted their habits, and 
a considerable number of their prejudices, it would 
be unnatural to suppose that I should not prefer their 
society, to either that of rogues, thieves, pimps and 
vagabonds, or of a more honest but an exceedingly 
oppressed and forlorn people. 

1 found London as it haci been represented to me, 

a large and magnificent city, filled with inhniiu it* 

fcf almost every description and occupation and 

6 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

an one indeed as might be pleasing to an English- 
man, delighting in tumult and confusion, and accus. 
tomed to witness scenes of riot and dissapation, as 
well as those of human infliction ; and for the sake of 
variety, would be willing to imprison himself wiihin 
the walls of a Bedlam, where continual noise would 
deafen him, where the unwholesomenesa of the air 
would effect his lungs, and where the closeness of 
the surrounding buildings would not permit him to 
enjoy the enlivening influence of the sun ! There is 
not perhaps another city of its size in the whole 
world, the streets of which display a greater contrast 
in the wealth and misery, the honesty and knavery, 
of its inhabitants, than the city of London, The eyes 
of the passing stranger (unaccustomed to witness 
such scenes) is at one moment dazzled by the ap- 
pearance of pompous wealth, wilh its splendid equip- 
page at the next he is solicited by one apparently 
of the most wretched of human beings, to impait a 
single penny for the relief of his starving family ! 
Among the latter class, there are many ; however, 
\viio so far from being the real objects of charity that 
they represent themselves to be, actially possess 
more wealth than those who sometimes benevolently 
bestow it these vile imposters, by every species of 
deception that was ever devised or practiced by man, 
aim to excite the pity and compassion, and to exiort 
chaiity from those unacquainted with their easy cir- 
cum| lances they possess the faculty of assuming a- 
tiy character that may best suit their purpose -some- 



OJ ISRAEL R POTTI5B. 63 

times hobbling with a crutch and exhibiting a wood- 
en leg at other times an honourable scar of a 
wound, received in Egypt, at Waterloo or at Trafal- 
gar, fighting for their most gracious sovereign and 
master King George I" 

Independent of these there is another species of 
beggars (the gypsies) who form a distinct clan, and 
will associate with none but those of their own tribe 
they are notorious thieves as well as beggars, and 
constantly infest the streets of London to the great 
annoyance of strangers and those who have the ap- 
pearance of being wealthy they have no particular 
home or abiding place, but encamp about in open 
fields or under hedges, as occasion recpjires they 
are generally of a yellow complexion, an 1 cnnvc-sc 
in a dialect peculiar only to themselves their thiev- 
ing propensities does not unfrequently lead them to 
kidnap little children, whenever an opportunity pre- 
sents ; having first by a dye changed their complex- 
ion to one that corresponds with their o vn, they re- 
present them as their own offspring, and carry them 
about hali naked on their backs to excite the pity and 
compassion of those of whom they beg chanty. An 
instance of this species of theft by a party of these 
unprincipled vagabonds, occurred once in my neigh 
borhood while an inhabitant of London the little 
girl kidnapped was the daughter of a Capt. Kellem 
of Coventry Street being sent abroad on some busi- 
ness ior her parents, she was mst by a gang of Gyp- 
sies, consisting of five men and six women, who seiz- 



4 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ed her, and forcibly carried her away to their camp, 
In the country, at a considerable distance, having 1 
first stripped her of hero wn cloathes, and in exchange 
dressed her in some of their rags thus garbed she 
travelled about the country with them for nearly 7 
months, and was treated as the most abject tlave v and 
her life threatened if she should endeavour to escape 
or divulged her slory ; she stated that during the 
time she was with them they entrapped a little boy 
about her own age, whom they also stripped and c^p- 
lied with them, but took particular care he should 
never converse with her, treating him in the like sa- 
vage manner ; she said that they generally travelled 
by cross roads and private ways, ever keeping a 
watchful eye that she might not escape, and thai no 
opportunity offered until when, by some accident, 
they were obliged to send her from iheir camp to a 
neighboring farm house, in order to procure a lig-t, 
which she took advantage of ; and scrambling over 
hedges and ditches ; as she Supposed for the distance 
of 8 or 9 miles, reached London worn out with fa- 
tigue and hunger, her suppoit with then, b-.ing al- 
ways scanty, and of the worst sort ; to which was ad- 
ded the misery of sleeping under hedgys, and expo., 
sure to the inclemency of the weather it was the in- 
tention of the gypsies she said to have coloured her 
and the boy when the walnut season approached. 

The streets of London and its suburbs are also in- 
fested with another and a still more dreadful species 
of rogues, denominated Fcotpads, and who often mur- 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER* 65 

der in the most inhuman manner, for the sake of on- 
ly a few shillings, any unfortunate people who hap- 
pen to fall in their way of this I was made acquain- 
ted with enumerable instances, while an inhabitant of 
London ; I shall however mention but two that 1 have 
now recollection of: 

A Mr Wylde while passing through Marlborough 
Street, in a chahe, was stopped by a footpad, who, 
on demanding his money, received a few shillings. 
but being dissatisfied with the little booty he ob'ained, 
slill kept a pistol at Mr. Wylde's head, and on the 
latter's attempting gently to turn it aside, the villain 
fired, and lodged seven slugs in his head and breast, 
which caused instant death Mr. W. expired hi the 
arms of his son and grandson without a groan. A 
few days after as a Mr. Gre.enhill was passing through 
York-Street in a single horse chaise, lie was met and 
stopped by three footpads s armed with pistols owe of 
them seized and held the horse's head, while ihe o- 
ther two most inhumanely dragged Mr. G. over the 
back of his chaise, and alter robbing him of his notes, 
watch and hat gave him two severe cuts on his head 
and left him in that deplorable state in the road. 
The above are but two instances of hundreds of a 
similar nature^ which yearly occur in the most public 
streets* of the city of London* The city is infested 
with a slill higher order of rogues, denominated pick* 
pockets or cmpurses, who to carry on their nefarious 
practices, garb themselves like gentlemen, and inirc- 

' ce themselves into the most fashionable circles j 
6* 



66 LIFK AND ADVENTURES 

many of them indeed are persons who once sustain- 
ed respectable characters, but who, by extravagance 
and excesses, have reduced themselves to want) and 
find themselves obliged at last to have recourse to 
pilfering and thieving. 

Thus have I endeavoured to furnish the leader 
with the particulars of a few of the vices peculiar to a 
large portion of the inhabitants of the city of London 
to these might be added a thousand other misde. 
meanors of a less criminal nature, daily practiced by 
striplings from the age of six, to the hoary headed of 
ninety Ithis 1 assure my readers is a picture cor- 
rectly deliniated and not too highly wrought of a ci- 
ty famous for its magnificence,and where 1 was doom- 
ed to spend more than 40 years of my life, and in 
which time pen, ink, and paper would fail, were I to 
attempt to record the various instances of misery and 
want that attended me and my poor devoted family. 

In September 1783, the glorious news of a defin- 
itive treaty of Peace having been signed between the 
United States and Great-Britain, vas publicly an- 
nounced in London while on i he minds of those 
who had been made rich by the war, the unwelcom- 
cd news operand apparently like a paralytic stroke^ 
a host of those whose views had been inimical to the 
cause of America, and had sought refuge in England, 
attempted to disguise their disappointment and cejec 
tion under a veil of assumed cheerfulness. As re- 
garded myself, 1 can only say, that had an event so 
long and ardently vusl.cu lor by me taken place but 



OF IS.RAEL R POTTER. 67 

a few months before, I should have hailed it as the'e- 
poch of my deliverance from a state ?of oppression 
and privation that I had already too long endured. 

An opportunity indeed now presented for me to 
return once more to my native country, after so 

ong an absence, had I possessed the means ; but 
.'uch was the high price demanded for a passage, 
and such had been my low wages, and the expences 
attending the support of even a small family in Lon- 
don, that I found myself at this time in possession 
of funds hardly sufficient to defray the expsnce of 
my own passage, and much less that of my wife and 
child hence the only choice left me was either to 
desert them, and thereby subject them (far sepera- 
ted from me) to the frowns of an uncharitable peo- 
ple, or to content myself to remain with them and 
partake of a portion of that wretchedness which e- 
ven my presence could not avert. When the af- 
fairs of the American Government had become so 
far regulated as to support a Consul at the British 
court, I murht indeed have availed myself individ- 
ually of t ie opportunity which presented of pro- 
uring a passage home at the Government's ex 
ence ; but as this was a priviledge that could not 
>e extended to my wife and child, my regard for 
hem. prevented my embracing the only means pro- 
vided by my country for the return of her captured 
soldiers and seamen. 

To make the best of my hard fortune, 1 became 
as resigned and reconciled to my situation as cir- 



68 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

cumstances would admit of; flattering myself that 
fortune might at some unexpected moment so far 
decide in my favour, as to enable me to accomplish 
my wishes I indeed bore my afflictions with a de- 
gree of fortitude which I couid hardly have believ- 
ed myself possessed of I had become an expert 
workman at brick making, at which business and 
at gardening, I continued to work for very small 
wages, for three or four years after the Peacebut 
still found my prospects of a speedy return to my 
country, by no ways flattering. The peace had 
thrown thousands who had taken an active part in 
the war, out of employ ; London was thronged with 
them who, in preference to starving, required no 
other consideration for their labour than a humble 
living, which had a lamentable effect in reducing 
the wages of the labouring class of people ; who, 
previous to this event were many of them so ex- 
tremely poor, as to be scarcely able to procure the 
necessaries of life for their impoverished families 
among this class I must rank myself, and from 
this period ought I to date the commencement of 
my greatest miseries, which never failed-, to attend 
me in a greater or less degree until that happy mo- 
ment, when favoured by providence, I was per- 
mitted once more 10 visit the peaceful shores of the 
land of my naiivity. 

When I first entered the city of London, I was 
almost stunned, while my curiosity was n-.-t a liuie 
excited bv what is termed the t: - cries oi London" 



Or ISRAEL R. POTf JR. 69 

the streets were thronged by persona of both sex- 
es and of every age, crying each tho various articles 
which they were exposing for sale, or for jobs of 
work at their various occupations ; I ht'Je thea 
thought that this was a mode which I ahiulcl be o- 
bliged myself lo adapt to obtain a scanty pittance 
for my needy family but, such indeed proved to be 
the case. The great increase of labourers produ- 
ced by the cessation of hostilities, had S3 great an 
effect in the reduction oi wages, that the trifliag 
consideration now allowed me by my employers for 
my services, in the line of business in which I had 
been several years engaged, was no longer an ob- 
ject, being insufficient to enable me to procure a 
humble sustenance. Having in vain sought for 
more profitable business, i was induced to apply ta 
an acquaintance for instruction in the art of chair 
bottoming, and which 1 partially obtained from him 
for a trifling consideration. 

It was now (which was in the year 1789) thai I 
assumed a line of business very different from that 
in which 1 had ever before been engage J fortun- 
ately for nie, I possessed strong lungs, which I 
found very necessasy in an employment the success 
of which depended, in a great measure, in being 
enabled to drown the voices of others (engaged hi 
the same occupation) by my own " Oid Chairs to 
Mend," became r.0w niy constant cry trough the 
streets of London, from morning tonight; and al- 
though 1 found my business not so profitable as I 



70 LITE AND ADVENTURES 

could have wished, yet it yielded a tolerable support 
for my family some lime, and probably would have 
continued so to have done, had not the almost con- 
stant illness of my children, rendered the expences 
of my family much greater than they otherwise 
would have been thus afflicted by additional cares 
and expence, (although I did every thing in my 
power to avoid it) I was obliged, to alleviate the 
sufferings of my family, to contract some trifling 
debts which it was not in my power to discharge. 

I now became the victim of additional miseries 
I was visited by a biliff employed by a creditor, who 
seizing me with the claws of a tyger, dragged me 
from my poor afflicted family and inhumanly thurst 
me into prison I indeed no misery thai I ever be- 
fore endured equalled this seperated from those 
dependent on me for the necessaries of lii'e, and 
placed in a situation in which it was impossible tor 
me to afford them any relief ! fortunately for me 
at this melaricholly moment, my vile ebjoyed good 
health, and it was to her praiseworthy exertions 
that her poor helpless children, as well as myself, 
owed our preservation from a slate of starvation ! 
this good woman had become acquiinted with many 
who had been my customers, whom she made ac- 
quainted with my situation, and the sufferings of my 
family> and who had the humanity to furnish me 
with work ,4ft ring my co^firienisru-- -the chairs were 
conveyed to and from the prison by my wife--. in 
this way I was enabled to support myself and to 



ISRAEL R. POTTER. 71 

contribute something to the relief of my afflicted 
family. I had in vain represented to my unfeeling 
creditor my inability to satisfy his demands, and in 
vain represented to him the suffering condition of 
those wholly dependent on me ; unfortunately for 
me, he proved to be one of those human beasts* 
who, having no soul, take pleasure in tormenting 
that of others, who never feel but in their own 
misfortunes, and never rejoice but in the afflictions 
of others-. .of such beings, so disgraceful to hu- 
man nature, I assure the reader London contains 
not an inconsiderable number. 

After having for four months languished in a 
horrid prison, I was liberated therefrom a mere 
skeleton; the mind afllicted had tortured the body; 
so much is the one in subjection to the otherI 
returned sorrowful and dejected to my afflicted fam 
ily, whom I found in very little better condition. 
We now from necessity took up our abode in an 
obscure situation near Moorfields ; where, by my 
constant application to business, I succeeded in 
earning daily a humble pittance for my family, 
bearly sufficient however to satisfy the cravings 
of nature ; and to add to my afflictions, some one 
of my family were almost constantly indisposed, 

However wretched my situation there were many 
others at this period, with whom I was particularly 
acquainted, whose sufferings were greater if possible 
than my own; and whom want and misery drove to 
this commission of crimes, that in any other situation 






thpv wr 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



they would probably not have been guilty of. Such 
was the case of the unfortunate Bellamy, who was 
capitally convicted and executed for a crime which 
distresses in his family, almost unexampled, had in 
a moment of despair, compelled him to commit. He 
was one who had seen better days, was once a com* 
missioned t fficer in the army, but being unfortunate 
he was obliged to quit the service to avoid the hor- 
rors cf a prison, and was thrown on the world, with- 
out a single penny or a single friend. The distress- 
es of his family were such that they were obliged to 
live for a considerable time deprived of all susten- 
ance except what they could deiive from scanty and 
piecarious meals ot potatoes and n ilk- -in this situ- 
ation his unfortunate wife was confined in child bed 
--Itdgirg in an obscure ganet, she was destitute of 
every species of these tcnvtniexcc* almost indekpen- 
sable with feu, ales in her cor c'hion, being herself 
withe ut clothes, and to procure a covering for her 
new born infant, el) iheir resources were exhausted. 
In this situation his wife and children must inevita- 
bly have starved, were it not for the lean < f five shill- 
ings which he walked frcm London to Blackheaih to 
borrow. At his trial lie made a solemn appeal to 
heaven, as to the truth of every particular as a. 
bove stated- -and that so far from wishing to ex- 
aggerate a single fact, he had suppressed many 
n;cie instances of calamity scarcely to be parral- 
leled that after the disgrace brought upon him- 
self by this single transaction, life could not be a 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTftB. 73 

boon he would be anxious to solicit, but that nature 
pleaded in his breast for a deserving wife and help- 
less child all however was ineffectual, he was con- 
demned and executed pursuant to his sentence. 

I have yet one or two more raelancholly instances of 
the effects of famine to record, the first of which hap* 
pened within a mile ot my then miserable habitation 
a poor widow woman, who had been left destitute 
with five small children, and who had been driven to 
th? most awful extremities by hunger, overpower- 
ed at length by the pitiful cries of her wretched off- 
spring, for a morsel of bread, in a fit of despair, rush- 
ed into the *hop of a baker in the neighborhood, antf 
seizing a loaf of bread bore it off to the relief of her 
starving family, and while in the act of dividing it a- 
mong them, the baker (who had pursued her) enter- 
ed arc! charged her with the theft the charge she' 
did not deny, but plead the starving condition of her 
wretched family in palliation of the crime I the ba- 
ker noticing a platter on the table containing a quan- 
tiiy of roasted meat, he pointed to it as a proof that 
she could not have been driven to such an extremity 
by hunger but, his surprize may be better imagin- 
ed than described, when being requested by the half 
distracted mother to approach and inspect more 
closely the contents of tire phtter, to frid it to con- 
sist of !he remains of a roasted (tog ! and which she 
i. (termed him had been her only food, and lhat of her 
poor children, for the three preceding days ! the 
baker struck with so shocking a proof of the poverty 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and distress of the wretched ianiily, humanely contri- 
buted to their relief until they were admitted into 
the hospital* 

1 was not personally acquainted with the family, 
but I well knew one who was, and who communica* 
lid to me the following melancholly particulars of its 
wretched situation ; and with which I now present 
my readers, as another proof of the deplorable situa- 
tion of the peer in England, after the close of the A- 
merican war : The minister of a parish was sent 
for to attend the funeral of a deceased person in his 
neighborhood, being conducted to the apartment 
which contained the corpse (ar.d which was the only 
one improved by the wretched family) he found it so 
low as to be unable to stand upright in it in dark 
corner of the room stocd a three legged stool, which 
supported a coffin of rough boards, and which con- 
tained the body of the wretched mother, who- had the 
day previous expired in labour for the want of assis- 
tance. The father was sitting on a little stool over 
a lew coals of fire, and endeavouring to keep the in- 
fant warm in his bosom ; five of his seven childien, 
half naked, were asking their father for a piece of 
bread, while another about three years old was stand- 
ing over the corpse of his motherland crying, as Ue 
was wont to do, "take me, take me, mammy !" 
Mammy is asleep,*' said one of his sisters with 
tears in her eyes, " mammy is asleep, Johnny, don't 
cr y, the good nurse has gone to beg you some bread 
and will soon return I" In a few minutes after, an 



Of ISRAEL R. POTTER. ?5 

old woman, crooked with age, and clothed in tatters 
came hobbling into the room, with a two-penny loaf 
in her hand, and after heaving a sigh, calmly set 
down, and divided the loaf as far as it would go n- 
mong the poor half famished children ? and which 
she observed was the only food they had tasted for 
the last 24 hours I By the kind interposition of the 
worthy divine, a contribution was immediately raised 
for the relief of this wretched family. 

I might add many mbre melancholly instances of 
the extreme poverty and distress of the wretched 
poor of London, and with which 1 was personally ac- 
quainted ; but the foregoing it is presumed will be 
sufficient to satisfy the poorest class of inhabitants of 
America, that, if deprived of the superfluities, so Ion;* 
as they can obtain the necessaries of life, they ought 
not to murmer, but have reason to thank the Almigh- 
ty that they were born Americans. That one half the 
world knows not how the other haif lives, is a com- 
mon and just observation; complaints and murmers 
are frequent I find among those of the inhabitants of 
this highly favoured country j who are not only bles- 
sed with the liberty and means of procuring for them- 
selves and their families, the necessaries and com. 
forts, but even many of the luxuries of life !-~they 
complain of poverty, and yet never knew what it was 
to be really poor ! having never either experienced 
or witnessed such scenes of distress and woe as I 
have described, they even suppose their imaginary 
wants and privations equal to those of almost any of 
the human race ! 



LIFE AND ADVKJJTURE9 

Let theae of my countrymen wh/o thus i 
themselves ijniaerraUle amid plenty, -cwws fthe atlamic 
and visit the misei^bte habitation* of seal ewJ jupaf- 
fected woe-* if their hearts ane not destitute ofjfeiel- 
g, they will return satisfied to their own peaceful 
*nd happy shores, and pour fourth the ejaculations 
I gratitude to that universal parent, who has given 
Ibem abundance and exempted them from ihe thous- 
and ills, under the pressure of which a great portion 
of his children drag the load of life. Permit ,rae to 
enquire ot such unreasonable murmerers. have you 
compared your situation and circumsiance&of which 
you so much complain, with that of those of your 
fellow creatures, who are unable to earn by their hard 
labour even a scanty pittance for their starving fam- 
ilies ? have you compared your situation and circum- 
stances with that of those who have hardly ever seen 
the sun, but live confined in lead mines, stone quar- 
ries, and coal pits ? before you call yourselves 
wretched, take a survey of the goals hi Europe, jin 
which wretched beings who have been driven to the 
commission of crimes by starvation, or unfortunate 
and honest debtors (who have been torn trom their 
impoverished families) are doomed to pine. 

So far from uttering unreasonable complaints, tjie 
hearts of my highly favoured countrymen ought ra- 
ther to be filled with gratitude to that Being, by whose 
assistance they have been enabled to avert so jmany 
of the miseries of life, so peculiar to a portion tf the 
oi Europe at the present day and 



OF ISRAEL B. POTTER. 77 

after groaning themselves for some time under the 
yoke of foreign tyranny, succeeded in emancipating 
themselves from slavery and are now blessed with 
the sweets of iibtrtv and the undisturbed enjoyment 
of their natural rights Britain, imperious Britain? 
who once boasted the freedom of her government and 
the invincible power of her arras- now finds herself 
reduced to the humiliating necessity of receiving les- 
sons of liberty from those whom till late she dispis- 
ed as slaves ! while our own country on ihe other 
hand, like a phenix rom her ashes, having emerged 
from a long, an expensive and bloody war, and es- 
tablished a constitution upon the broad and immova- 
ble basis of national equality, now promises to be- 
come the permanent residence of peace, liberty, sci- 
ence, and national ftlicity. But, to return to the tale 
of my own sufferings- 
While hundreds were daily becoming the wretch- 
ed victims of hunger and slarvaiior , I was enabled by 
my industry to obtain a morsel each day for my fam- 
ily ; although [hit morsel, which was to b* divided a- 
nii>ng four, would ma.iy times have proved insuffici* 
ent to have satisfied the hunger of one I seldom e- 
ver failed from morning to night to cry ** old chairs 
to mer.d," through thu principal streets of the city, 
but many times with very little success -if f obtained 
four chairs to rebottum in the course of one day, I 
considered myself loi tunaie indeed, but instances of 
such good luck were very rare ; it was more fre- 
quent that I did not obtain a single one, and after cry- 
7* 



78 LIFE AND ADVENTUBR3 

ing the whole day until 1 made myself hoarse, I was 
obliged to return to nay poor family at night empty 
handed. 

So many at one time engaged in the same business, 
that had 1 not resorted to other means my family must 
inevitably have starved while crying " old chairs to 
mend," I collected all the old rags, bits of paper, nails 
and broken glass which I could find in the streets, 
and which I deposited in a bag, which I carried with 
me for that purpose these produced me a trifle, and 
that trifle when other resoarces failed, procured me 
a morsel of bread, or a few pounds of potatoes, lor 
xny poor wife and children yet I murmeicd nut at 
the dispensation of the supreme Arbiter of allot- 
ments, which had assigned to me so humbled a line 
of duty; although I could not have believed once, 
that 1 should ever have been brought to such a state 
of humiliating distress, as would have required such 
means to alleviate it. 

In February 1793, War was declared by Great 
Britain against the republic of France and although 
War is a calamity that ought always to be regretted 
by friends of humanity, as thousands are undoubted 
ly thereby involved hi misery ; yet, no event could 
have happened at that time productive of so much 
benefit to me. as this it was the means of draining 
the country of those who had been once soldiers, and 
Vho, thrown out of employ by the peace, demanded 
a sum so trifling for their services, as to cause a re- 
duction in the wages of the poor labouring class of 



OF ISRAEL R- POTTER. 7 

people, to a sum insufficient to procure the necessa- 
ries of life for their families ; this evil was now re- 
moved the old soldiers preferred an employment 
more in character of themselves, to doing the drud- 
gery of the city great inducements were held out 
to them to enlist, and the army was not long retard- 
ed in its operations for the want of recruits My 
prospects in being enabled to earn something to sat- 
isfy the calls of nature, became now more flattering ; 
the great number that had been employed during 
-the Peace in a business similar to mv own, were now 
reduced to one half, which enabled me to obtain such 
an extra number of jobs at chair mending, that I no 
longer found it necessary to collect the scrapings of 
the streets as I had been obliged to do for the many 
months past I was now enabled to purchase for my 
family two or th-iee pounds of fresh meat each week, 
an article to which (with one or two exceptions) we 
had been strangers for more than a year having 
subsisted principally on potatoes, oat meal bread, and 
salt fish, and sometimes, but rarely however, were 
enabled to treat ourselves to a little skim milk. 

Had not other afflictions attend? d me, I should not 
have had murh cause to complain of very ex .^or- 
dinary hardships or privations from this period, un- 
til the conclusion of the war in 1817 ; my family 
had increased, and to increase my cares there was 
scarcely a week passed but that some one of them 
was seriously indisposed of ten children of which I 
was the faiher, 1 had the misfortune to bury seven 



LIFR AKD ADVENTURES 

under five years of age. and two more after fhev hacl 
arrived to the age of twenty mv last and only child 
now living, it pleased the Almiirhtv to spare to me, 
to administer help and comfort to his poor affl cted 
parent, and without whose assistance I should (to 
far from having been enabled ot ct more to visit the 
land of my nativity) 'ere this have paid the debt of 
nature in a fore gn land, and that too by a death nt 
less horrible than that of starvation 1 

As my life wa unattended with any very extraor- 
dinary circumstance (except the one just mentioned) 
from lh; commencemen* of the war, until the re-es 
tablishment of monarchy ii, France- and ihe cessation 
of hostilities on the part of G<eat Britain, in 1817, I 
shall commence on the miration of mv unpirralel* 
cd sufferings, frovp the latter period, until that when 
by the kind interposition of P evidence^ 1 was enabled 
finally to obtain a pas^e to my na'ive country ; and 
to bid an adieu, and I hope and trust a final one, to 
that Island, where 1 had endured a complication of 
miseries beycwl the power o f description. 

The peace produced similar effects to that of 1783 
thousands were thrown out of employ and ti;e 
streets of London thronged wi'h soldiers seeking 
means to e-rn 3 humble subsistence. The ciy of 
u Old Chairs to Mend/' (and that too at a very r-'duc- 
ed price) was reiterated through the streets of Lon- 
don by numbers \vho but the month before were at 
\Vat rloo fighting the battles ol their country which? 
so seriously effected my Lioness in this line, that to 



Q* ISRAEL R. POFTEB. 81 

obtain food (and that of the most bumble kind) for 
my . family j I was obliged once more to have recourse 
to the collecting of scraps of rags, paper., glass, and 
such other articles of however trifling value that I 
could find in the sueets. 

It was at this distressing period, that, in conse- 
quence of the impossibility oi so great a number who 
had been discharged from the service procuring a 
livelihood by honest means, that instances of thefts, 
and daring robberies, increased throughout Great 
Britain three fold. Bands of highwaymen and rob- 
bers hovered about the vicii.ity of London in num- 
bers which almost defied suppression ; many were 
taken and executed or transported ; but this seemed 
to render the rest only the more desperately bold 
and cruel, while house-breaking and assassination 
were daily perpetrated with new arts and outrages 
in the very capital. Nor were the starving condi.ion 
of the ho nest poor, who were to be met with at all 
times of day and in every street, seeking something 
to appease their hunger, less remarkable unable to 
procure by any means within their power sustenance 
sufficient to support nature, some actually became 
the victims of absolute starvation, as the following 
melancholly instance will show : .a poor man ex- 
ha u sted by want ; dropped down in the street those 
who were passing unacquainted with the frequency 
of such melancholly events, at first thought him in- 
toxicated ; but alter languishing half an hour, he ex- 
pired . On the following day, an inquest was held 



82 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

on the body, and the verdict of the jury not giving 
satisfaction to the Coroner, they adjourned to the 
next day In the interim, two respectable surgeons 
were engaged to open the body, in which not a par- 
ticle of nutriment was to be found except a little yel 
low substance, supposed to be grass, or some crude 
vegetable ; \fhich the poor man had swallowed to ap- 
pease the cravings of nature !--this lamentable proof 
confirmed the opinion of the jury, that he died for 
want of the necessaries of life, and gave their ver. 
diet accordingly. 

Miserable as was the fate cf this man and that of 
many others, mine was but little better, and would 
ultimately have been the same, had it not been for 
the assistance afforded me by my only remaining 
child, a lad but six years of age, I had now arriv- 
ed to an advanced age of life, and although posses- 
sing an extraordinary constitution for one of my 
years, yet by my incessant labours to obtain subsis- 
tence for my family, I brought on myself a severe 
fit of sickness, which confined me three weeks to 
my chamber ; in which time my only sustenance 
was the produce of a few half pennys, which my 
poor wife and little son had been able to earn each, 
day by, disposing of matches of their own make, 
and in collecting and disposing of the si tides of 
small value, of which I have before made mention* 
which were to be found thinly scattered in the streets. 
In three weeks it was the will of providence so far 
to restore to me my strength, as to enable me one 



OF ISRAEL B. POTTER. l 

tnore to move abroad in search of something to 
support naiure. 

The tenement which I at this time rented and 
which was occupied by my family, was a small and 
wretched apartment of a garret, and for which I 
had obligated myself to pay sixpence per weekj 
which was to be paid at the close of every week ; 
and in case of tailure (agreeable to the laws or cus- 
toms of the land) my furniture was liable to be 
seized* In consequence of my illness, and other 
misfortunes? I fell six weeks in arrears for rent ; 
and having returned one evening with my wife and 
son, from the performance of our daily task, my 
kind readers may judge what my feelings must 
have been to find our room stripped of every arti- 
cle (of however trifling value) that it contained I- 
alas, oh heavens ! to what er state of. wretchedness 
were we now reduced ! if there was anything want- 
ing to complete our misery, thh additional drop to 
the cup of our afflictions, more than sufficed. Al- 
though the real value of all that they had taken 
from me, or rather robbed me of, would not if 
publicly disposed of, have produced a sum probably 
exceeding five dollars ; yet it was our all, except 
the few tattered garments that we had on our backs f 
and were serviceable and alUimportant to us in our 
impoverished situation. Not an article of bedding 
of any kind w^s left us on which to repose at night; 
or a chair or stool on which we could rest our 
wearied limbs ! but, as destitute as we were, and 



84 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

naked as they had left our dreary apartment, we 
had no other abiding place. 

With a few halfpenny's which were jointly our 
hard earnings of that day, I purchased a peck of 
coal and a few pounds of potatoes ; which while 
the former furnished us with a little fire, the latter 
served for the moment to appease our hunger by 
a poor family in an adjoining room I was obliged 
with the loan of a wooden bench* which served as 
a seat am) a table, Irom which we partook of our 
homely fare In this woeful situation, hovering o- 
ver a few half consumed coals, we spent a sleepless 
night. The day's dawn brought additional afflic- 
tions-- my poor wife who had until this period borne 
her troubles without a sigh or a murmur, and had 
passed through hardships and sorrows, which noth- 
ing but the Supreme Giver of patience and forti- 
tude, and her peifect confidence in him, could have 
enabled her to sustain ; yet so severe and unexpec- 
ted a stroke as the last; she could not withstand 
I found her in the morning gloomy and dejected, 
and so extremely feeble as to be hardly able to 
descend the stairs. 

We left our miserable habitation in the morning, 
with hopes that the wretched spectacle that we pre- 
sented, weak and emaciated as we were, would 
move some to pity and induce them to impart that 
relief which our situations so much required"-it 
would however be almost endless to recount the 
many rebuffs we met with in our attempts to crave 



6f ISRAEL ft. JOTTER. 85 

fcgsistance* Some few indeed were more merciful, 
and whatever their opinion might be of the cause 
of our misery, the distress they saw us in excited 
their chanty, andfcr their own sakes were induced 
to contribute a trifle to our wants We alternately 
happened among savages and Christians, but even 
the latter, too much influenced 0y appearances, were 
very sparing of their bounty. 

With the small trifle that had been charitably be- 
stowed on us. we relumed at night to our wretched 
dwelling, which, stripped as it had been, could pro- 
mise us but little more than a shelter, and where we 
spent the night very much as the preceding one. 
Such was the debilitated state of my poor wife the 
ensuing morning:, produced by excessive hunger and 
fatigue, as to render it certain, that sinking under the 
weight of misery, the hand of death in mercy to her s 
was about to release her from her long and unpar- 
alelled sufferings. 1 should be afraid of exciting too 
pimful sensations in the minds of my readers, were 
I to attempt to describe my feelings at this moment, 
and to paint in all their horror, the miseries which 
afterward attended me ; although so numerous had 
been my afflictions, that it seemed impossible for a- 
ay new calamity to be capable of augmenting them ; 
men accustomed to vicissitudes are not soon de- 
jeoted, but there are trials which human nature a- 
lone cannot surmountindeed to such a state of 
wretchedness was I now reduced, that had it not beea 
'for my suffering family, life would have been nolon* 
8 



8 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ger desirable. The attendance that the helpless sit- 
uation of my pcor wife now demanded it was* not 
within my power to afford her, as early the next day 
1 was reluctantly driven by hunger abroad in search 
of something that might serve to contribute to our 
relief. } teft my unfortunate companion, attended by 
no other person but our little son, destitute of fuel 
and food, and stretched en an armful of straw, which 
I had been so fortunate as to provide myself with the 
clay preceding ; the whole produce of my labours 
this day (which I may safely say was the most mcl- 
ancholly one of iny life) amounted to no more than 
one shilling! which I laid out to the best advantage 
possible, in the purchase of a few oi the necessaries, 
which the situation of my sick companion most re- 
quired. 

I ought to have mentioned, that previous to this 
melancholly period, when most severely afHicud, I 
had been two or three limes driven to the necessity 
of making application to the Overseers of the poor, of 
the parish in which I resided, for admittance inio the 
Almshouse, or for some assistance, but never with a- 
ny success ; having always been put off by them with 
some evasive answer or 'frivolous pretence some- 
times charged by them with being an imposter, and 
that laziness more than debility and real want, hed 
induced me to make the application at other times 
} was told that being an American born, I had no law- 
ful claim on the government of that country for sup- 
port ; that I ought to have made application to the 



Wr ISRAEL* R. POTTBB. < 87 

American Consul for assistance, whose business it 
was to assist such of his countrymen whose situations 
required it. 

But such now was my distress, in consequence of 
the extreme illness of my wife, that I must receive 
that aid so indispensably necessary at this important 
trisis, or subject myself to witness a scene no less 
distressing, than that of my poor wretched wife, ac- 
tually perishing for the want of that care and nour- 
ishment which it was not in my power to afford 
her ! Thus situated I was induced to renew my ap- 
plication to the Overseer for assistance, representing 
to him the deplorable situation of my family, who 
were actually starving for the want of that sustenance 
which it was not in my power to procure for them ; 
and what I thought would most probably effect his 
feelings, described to him the peculiar and distress- 
ing situation of my wife, the hour of whose dissolu- 
tion was apparently fast approaching but, I soen 
found that f was addressing one who possessed a 
heart callous to the feelings of humanity one, whose 
feelings were not to be touched by a representation 
of the greatest misery with which human nature 
could be Afflicted. Tho same cruel observations 
were made as before, that I was a vile imposture who 
was seeking by imposition to obtain that support in 
England, which my own country had withheld from 
me that the American Yankees had fought for and 
obtained their Independence, and yet were not inde- 
pendent enough to support their own poor ! that 



LIFE AN ADTBNTUB1S 

Great Britain would find enough to do, was she to 
afford relief to every d d yankee vagabond that 
should apply for it ! fortunately for this abusive 
feritish scoundrel, 1 possessed not now that bodily 
strength and activity, which I could once boast of, or 
the villian (w-hether within his majesty's dominions 
r not) should have received on the spot a proof of 
"Yankee Independence" for- his insolence 

Failing in my attempts to obtain the assistance 
which the lamentable situation of my wife required, 
lhad recourse to other means I waited on two or 
three gentlemen in my neighborhood, who had been 
represented to me a persons of humanity, and in- 
treated them to visit my wretched dwelling, and to 
satisfy themselves by occular demonstration, of the 
state of my wretchedness, especially that of my dying 
companion they complied with my request, and 
were introduced by me to a scene, which for misery 
and distress, they declared surpassed every thing that 
they had tv<r before witnessed ! they accompanied 
me immediately to one in whom was invested the 
principal government of the poor of the parish, arid 
represented to him> the scene of human misery which 
they had been an eye witness to whereupon an or- 
der was issued to have my wife conveyed to the 
Hospital, which was immediately clone and where 
she was comfortably provided for but, alas, the re- 
lift which her situation had so much required had 
been too long deferred her deprivation and suffer- 
ings had been too great to admit of her being nojF . : , 



07 ISRAEL R. POTTER. #9 

restored to her former state of health, or relieved by 
ary thitis: thai. couJ be administered after her re- 
moval to the H > pita), she lingered a few days i a 
staie of perfect insensibility, and then closed her eyes 
forever on a world, where for many years, she had 
been the unhappy subject of almost constant afflio 
tion. 

I felt very sensibly the irreparable loss of one who 
had been my companion in adversity, as well as in 
prosperity ; and when blessed with health, had affor- 
ded m by her industry that assistance, without 
which, the sufferings of our poor chi dren would 
have been greater if possible than what they were. 
My situation was now truly a lonely one, bereaved of 
my wife, and all my children except one ; who', al- 
though but little more than seven years of age, was a 
child of that sprig hliness and activity, as to possess 
himself with a pe; feet knowledge of >be chair bottom- 
ing business, and by which he earned not only enough 
(when work could be obtained) to furnish himself 
with food, but contributed much to the relief oi his 
surviving parent, when confined by illness and infir- 
mity. 

We continued to improve the apartment from 
which my wife had been removed, until I was so for* 
tunate as to be able to rem a ready furnished apart* 
ment (as it was termed) at four shillings and sixpence 
per week. Apartments of this kind are not uncom- 
mon in London, and are intended to accommodate 
poor families, situated as we were, who had been so 
S* 



90 LIFE AND AD VENT USES 

tinfortunate as to be stripped of every thing but the 
cloathes on their backs by their unfeeling landlords. 
The.se ready furnished rooms" were nothing but 
miserable apartments in garrets, and contain but few 
more conveniences than what many of our common 
prisons in America afford a bunk of straw, with 
two or three old blankets, a couple of chairs, and a 
rough table about three feet square, with an article 
or two of iron ware in which to cook our victuals (if 
we should be so fortunate as to obtain any) was the . 
contents of the " ready furnished apartment" that we 
was now about to occupy but even with these few 
conveniences, it was comparatively a palace to the 
one we had lor several weeks past improved. 

When my health would permit, 1 seldom failed to 
visit daily the most public streets of the city, and 
from morning to night cry for old chairs to mend 
accompanied by my son Thomas, with a bundle of 
flags, as represented in the Plate annexed to this vol- 
ume If we was so fortunate as to obtain a job of 
work more than we could complete in the day, with 
the permission of the owner, I would convey the 
chairs* on my back to my humble dweLirig, and witrr 
the assi lance of my little son, improve the evening 
to complete the work, which would produce us a few 
half prnnys to purchase something for our breakfast 
the next morning l>ut it was very seldom that in 
stances of this kind occurred, as it was more fre- 
quently the ease that after crjing for old chairs to 
mend, the whole day, we were obliged to return^ 



ISRAEL It. POTTER 9 1 

hungry and weary, and without a tingle half penny 
in our pockets, to our humble dwelling, where we 
were obliged to fast until the succeeding day ; and 
indeed there were some instances in which we were 
compelled to fast two or three days successively) 
without being able to procure a single job of wjrk 
The rent I had obligated myself to pay every night, 
and freqaently when our hunger was such as hardly 
to be endured, I was obliged to reserve the few pen- 
nys that 1 was possessed of to apply to this purpose. 
In our most starving condition when every o f her 
plan failed, my little son would adopt the expedient 
of sweeping the public cause- ways (leading from one 
walk to the other) where he would labour the whole 
day, with the expectation of receiving no other re- 
ward than what the generosity of gentlemen, who had 
occasion to cross, would induce them to bestow in 
chuity, and which seldom amounted to more than 
a few pennys sometime the poor boy would toil 
in thi way the whole day, without being so fortunate 
as to receive a single half penny it was then he 
would return home sorrowful and dejected, and while 
he attempted to conceal his own hu ger. with tears 
in his eyes, would lament his hard fortune in not be- 
ing able to obtain something to appease mine. - 
While he was thus employed i remained at home, 
bat not idle, being as busily engaged in making 
matches, with which ('.vhen he returned home emp- 
ty handed j we were obliged as fatigued jt* we were, 
to visit the markets to expose for sale, and where we 



JS LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

were obliged sometimes to tarry until eleven o'clock 
at night, before we could meet with a single purcha- 
er 

Having one stormy night of a Saturday, visited the 
market with my son for this purpose, and after expos- 
ing ourselves to the chilling rain until pastjlO o'clock; 
without being able either of us to sell a single match) 
1 advised the youth (being thinly clad to return home 
feeling disposed to tarry myself a while longer, in 
hopes that better success might attend me, a* having 
already fasted one day and r,irht> it was indispensa- 
bly necessary that 1 should ob am something to ap- 
pease our hunger the succeeding day (Sunday) or 
what seemed almost impossible, to endure longer its 
torments ! 1 remained until the clock struck eleven, 
the hour at which the market closed, and yet had 
met with no better success ! It is impossible to de- 
scribe the sensation of despondency which over- 
wlie;med me at this moment I 1 now considered it 
as certain that I must return home wiih nothing 
wherewith to satisty our craving appetites and with 
my mind filled with the most heart rending reflec- 
tions, I was about, to return, when. Heaven seemed 
pleased to interpose in my behalf, and to send relkf 
when I little expected it ; -passing a beef stall I at- 
tracted the notice of the butcher who viewing me, 
probably as I was, a miserable object of i;'y, emaci- 
ated i)> L-ng iastings, and cla i in tattered garments,, 
fro n wuica the water wa^ frst drippling, and judg- 
ing uo doubt b) my appearance lhat on no one could 



Or ISRAEL . POTTER. 9& 

charity be more properly bestowed, he threw into my 
basket a beeve's heart, with the request that 1 would 
depart with it immediately . for my home, if any I 
had ! I will not attempt to describe the joy that 1 felt 
on this occasion, in so unexpectedly meeting with 
that relief, which my situation somuch required, I 
hastened home with a much lighter heart than what 
3 had anticipated ; and when I arrived; the sensations 
of joy exhibited by my little son on \iewing the prize 
that I bore, produced effects aa various as extraordi- 
nary ; he wept, then laughed and danced with trans- 
port. 

The reader must suppose that while I found it so 
extremely difficult to earn enough to preserve us 
from starvation, I had little to spare for cloathing and 
other necessaries ; and that this was really my situ* 
ation, i thiiik no one will doubt, when 1 positively 
declare that to such extremeties was i driven, that 
being unable to pay a bavber for shaving me I was 
obliged to adopt the expedient ior more than two 
years, of clipping my beard as close as possible with 
a pair of scissors, wfcich 1 kept expressly ior that pur- 
pose ' as strange and laughable as the circumstance 
may appear to some, I assure the reader that I state 
facts, and exaggerate nothing. As regarded our 
cloathes, 1 can say no more than that they were the 
best that we could procure, and were such as persons 
in cur situation! were obliged to wear they served 
to conceal our nakedness, but would have proved in* 
ftufficiem to have protected our bodies, from .the if* 



;94 L1IE AND ADVENTURES 

clemency ef the weather of a colder climate. Such 
indeed was sometimes our miserable appearance, 
t lad in tattered garments, that while engaged in our 
employment in crying for old chairs to mend, we not 
nly attracted the notice of many, but there were in- 
stances in which a few half pennys unsolicited weie 
bestowed on us in charity an instance of this kind 
happenetione day as I was passing through thread- 
needle street ; a gentleman perceiving by the appear- 
ance of the shoes that 1 wore, that they were about 
to quit me, pat a half crown in my hand, and bid me 
go and cry " old i hoes to meed !' 

In long and gloomy winter evenings, when unable 
to furnish myself with any other light than that emit- 
ted by a little fire of se -coal, I vrould attempt to 
drive away mcbncholly by amusing my son with an 
account of my native country, and of the many bles- 
ings there enjoyed by even the poorest classof peo- 
ple of their fair fields producing a regular supply 
of bread their convenient houses, to which they 
could Repair after the toils of the day, to partake of 
the fruits of their labour, safe^ from the storms and 
the cold, and where they could lay down their heads 
lo rest without any to molest them or to make them 
afraid. Nothing could have been better calculated 
to excite animation in the rr.ind of the poor child, than 
an account so flattering of a country which had giv- 
en birth to his father, and to which he had received 
my repeated assurances he should accompany me as 
soon as an opportunity should present after expres- 



OF ISRAEL ft. POTTER* 95 

sing his fears that the happy day was yet far distant* 
with a deep sigh he wouid exclaim " would to God 
it was to morrow \" 

About a year after the decease of my wife, T was 
taken extremely ill insomuch that at one time my 
life was 'desparred of, and had it not been for the ' 
friendless and lonely situation in which such an event 
would have placed my son, I should have welcomed 
the hour of my dessolution and viewed it as a con* 
summation rather to be wished than dreaded ; for so 
great had been my sufferings of mind and body, and 
the miseries to which I was still exposed, that life ' 
had reaily become a burthen to meindeed I think 
it would have been difficult to have found on the face 
of the earth a being- more wretched than I had been 
for the three years past. 

During my illness my only friend on earth waa my 
son Thomas, who did every thing to alleviate my 
wants within the power of his age to dosometimes 
by crying for old chairs to mend (for he had become 
as expert a workman at this busmen as his father) 
and sometimes by sweeping the cause-ways, and by 
making and selling matches, he succeeded in earn* 
ing each day a trifle sufficent to procure for me and 
himself a humble sustenance. When 1 had 'so far 
recovered as to be able to creep abroad, and the youth 
had been so fortunate as to obuin a good job, ! wouid 
accompany him, although/very feeble, and assist him 
in conveying the chairs home -h wai> on such occa- 
sions that my dear child would manifest .-bis tender- 



tfi LIFE AND ADTBNTUH13 

ness and affection for me, by insisting (if there were 
four chairs) that I should carry but one, and he wouid 
carry the remaining three, or in that proportion rfa 
greater or less '-umber. 

From the moment that I had 'informed him of the 
many blessings njoved by my countrymen of every 
class I \vas almost constantly urged by my son toap. 
ply to the A nerican Consul tor a passage it *as in 
vain that I it presented to him that if such an appli- 
cation was aitended wiih success, and the opportuni- 
ty should be improved by me, 'it must rause our se- 
peration, pefhaps forever ; as he would not be per- 
miued to accompany me at the expence oi govern- 
ment "never mind me (he would repl> ) do noi lather 
suffer any more on my account \ if you can only suc- 
ceed in obtaining a passage to a country where you 
can enj< y .he blessings that you have described to 
me, 1 mav hereafter 'be so fortunate as to meet with 
an opportunity to join you- -and it not, it will be a 
consolation to me, whatever my afflictions may be, to 
think that yours have ceased!" My ardent wish to 
return to America, was not less than that of my son, 
but could not bear the thoughts ot a seperation \ of lea- 
ving him behind exposed to all the miseries peculiar 
to the friendless poor of that country ;---he was a 
child of my old age, and from whom I had received 
too many proofs of his love and regard lor me, not to 
feel that parental aff'Ction for him to which 
able disposition entitled him. 

i was indeed unacquainted with the place of 



T ISRAEL R. POTTES. $? 

dence of the American Consul I had made frequent 
enquiries, but found no one that could inform me 
eorrectly where he might be found ; but so anxitus 
was my son that I should spend the remnant of my 
days in that country where I should receive (if noth- 
ing more) a Christian burial at my decease, and bid 
adieu forever to a l&nd where I had spent so great a 
portion of my life in sorrow, and many years had en- 
dured the lingering tortures of protracted famine 
that he ceased not to enquire of every one with whom 
he was acquainted, until he obtained the wished for 
information. Having learned the place of residence 
of the American Consul, and fearful of the conse- 
quences of delay, he would give me no peace until 
1 promised that I would accompany him there th* 
succeeding day, if my strength would admit Of it ; 
for although ! had partially recovered from a severe 
Tit of sickness, yet I was still so weak and feeble as 
to be scarcely able to walk. 

My son did not forget to remind me early the next 
morning oi my promise, and to gratify him more than 
with an expectation of meeting; with much success* 
I set out with him, feeble as I was, for the Consul's. 
The distance was about two miles, and before I had 
succeeded in reaching half the way, I had wished 
myself a dozen times safe home again and had it not 
been for the strong persuasions of my son to the con* 
trary, 1 certainly should have returned.-*! was never 
before so sensible of the effects of my long suffer- 
ingswhich had produced thatrdegree of bodily 



91 fclFR AND ADTBNTUBE& 

weakness and debility, as to leave me scarcely 
strength sufficient to move without the assistance of 
my son ; who, when he feund me reeling or halting 
through weakness, would support me until 1 had 
gained sufficient strength to proceed. 

Although the distance was but two miles, yet such 
was the state of my weakness, that although we star- 
ted early in the morning* it was half past 3 o'clock 
P. M. when we reached the Consul's office, when I 
was so much exhausted as to be obliged to ascend 
the steps on my hands and knees. Fortunately we 
found the Consul in, and on my addressing him and 
acquainting him with the object of my visit, he seem- 
ed at first unwilling to credit the fact that 1 was an 
American born but after interrogating me some- 
time, as to the place of my nativity, the cause which 
first brought me to England, 8cc, he seemed to be 
more satisfied ; he however observed (on being in- 
formed that the lad who accompanied me was my son) 
that he could procure a passage for me, hut not for 
him, as being born in England, the American gov- 
ernment would consider him a British subject, and 
under no obligation to defray the expence of his pas- 
sage -and as regarded myself, he observed, that he 
had his doubts, so aged and infirm as I appeared to 
be, whether I should live to reach America, if I 
should attempt it. 

I cannot say that I was much surprised at the ob- 
servations of the Consul, as they exactly agreed with 
what I had anticipated and as anxious as I then felt 



OF ISRAEL R. POTTER. $9 

to Tiiit once more my native country, I felt deter- 
mined not to attempt it, unless 1 could be accompa- 
nied by my son, and expressed myself to this effect 
to the Consul the poor lad appeared nearly over- 
come with grief when he saw me preparing to return 
without being able to effect my object ; indeed so 
greatly was he affected, and such the sorrow that hs 
exhibited, that he attracted the notice (and I believe 
1 may add the pity) of the Consul who, after mak- 
ing some few enquiries as regarded his disposition, 
age, &c. observed that he could furnish the lad with 
a passage at his* own expence, which he should have 
no objection to do if I would consent to his living 
with a connexion of his (the Consul,) on his arrival 
in America ."but (continued he,) in such a case you 
must be a while sepe rated, for it would be imprudent 
for you to attempt the passage until you have gained 
more strength 1 will pay your board, where by bet- 
ter living than you have been latterly accustomed to, 
you may have a chance to recruit but your son 
must take passage on board the London Packet* 
which sails for Boston the day after to-morrow." 

Although but a few moments previous, my son 
would have thought no sacrifice too great, that would 
have enabled us to effect our object in obtaining pas- 
sages to America ; yet, when hs found that instead of 
himself, I was to be left for a while behind, he ap- 
peared at some loss how to determine but on being 
fissured by the Consul that if my life was spared I 
should soon join him, he consented ; and being fur- 



lOO LIVE AND 

niched by the Consul with a few necessary articles c? 
eloathing, I the next day accompanied him on board 
the packet which was to convey him (o America 
and after giving him the best advice that I was cap- 
able of as regarded his behaviour and deportment 
while on his passage, and en his arrival in America, 
1 took ray leave of him and saw him no! again uniij 
] met him on the wharf on my arrival at Boston. 

When I parted with the Consul he presented me 
with half a crown, and directions where to apply for 
board -it was at a public Inn where I found many 
American seamen, who, like myself, were boarded 
there at the Consul's expence, until passages could 
be obtained for them to America i was treated by 
them with much civility, and by hearing tht-sn daily 
recount their various and remarkable adventures, as 
well as by relating my own, 1 passed my time more 
agreeably than what I probably should have done in 
other society. 

In eight weeks I was so far recruited by good liv- 
ing, as in the opinion of the Consul, to be able to en 
dure the fatigues of a passage to my native country, 
and which was procured for me on board the ship 
Carterian, bound to New- York. We set sail on the 
3th April, t 823, and after a passage of 42 days, arriv- 
ed saie at our port of destmaticn. Afttr having expe- 
rienced in a foreign land so much ill treatment from 
those from whom I eouid expect no mercy, and for 
no oiher fault than that of being an American, I could 
not but flatter myself that when I bid adieu to tha$ 



V ISRAEL 1 

country, I should no ^longer ije tjiq .subject <$; .uajutt 
persecution, or nave occasion W complain af' ill ir eat* 
ment from those whose duty it was to afford me pro- 
tection. But the sad reverse which 1 experienced 
while on board the Carterian, convinced me of the 
incorrectness of my conclusions. For my country's 
sake, I am happy that I have it in my power to s-y 
that the crew of this ship> was not composed alto- 
gether of Americans there was a mixture of all 
natiens ; and among them some so vile, and destiiu^ 
of every humane principle, as to delight in nothing 
so much as to sport with the infirmities of one, who*c 
grey lock* ought at least to have protected him. By 
those unfeeling wretches (who deserve not the name 
of sailors) 1 was not only most shamefully ilUused 
on the passage, but was robbed of some necessary 
articles of cloathing, which had been chaiitably be- 
stowed on me by the American Consul. 

We arrived in the harbour of New-York about 
midnight, and such were the pleasing sensations pro*> 
duced by the reflection that on the morrow I should 
be indulged with the priviledge of walking once more 
on American ground after an absence of almost 50 
years, and that but a short distance now separated me 
from my dear son, that it was in vain that 1 attempt- 
ed to close rny eyes to sleep. Never was the morn* 
ing'* dawn so cheerfully welcomed by me. I solici- 
ted and obtained the permission of the captain to be 
early set on shore, and on reaching which, I did not 

forget to offer up my unfeigned thanks to that Al 
9* 



102 



> whtf had toot or-iy sustained me 
ing tny Wavy afflicii<ih 'abfoAd, but had finally re- 
stored me te my native country. The pleasure that 
I enjoyed in viewing the streets thronged by those, 
who, although I could not claim as acquaintances, 1 
could greet as my countrymen, wa unbounded, I 
felt a regard for almost every object that met my eye, 
because it was American. 

Great as was my joy on finding myself once more 
amor g my countrymen, 1 felt not a Tittle impatient 
for the arrival of the happy moment when I should 
be able to meet my eon. Agreeable to the orders 
which I received from the American Consul, I appli- 
ed to the Custom House in New-York for a passage 
from thence to Boston, and with which I was provid- 
ed on board a regular packet which sailed the morn- 
ing ensuing in justice to the captain, I must say 
that I was treated by him as well as by all on board, 
with much civility. We arrived at the Long Whaif 
in Boston after a short and pleasant passage I had 
been informed by the Consul, previous to leaving 
London, of the name of the gentleman with whom 
my son probably lived, and a fellow passenger on 
board the packet was so good as to call on and in- 
form him ot my arrival in less than fifteen minutes 
after receiving the information my son met me on 
the wharf I Reader, you will not believe it possible 
forme to describe my feelings correctly at this joy fu! 
moment I if you are a parent, you may have some 
conception of them j but a faint one however unless 



O? ISRAEL . POTTER. W3 

you and an only and beloved child have been placed 
in a fcimilar situation. 

After acquainting myself with the statt of my 
boy's health, 8cc. my next enquiry was whether he 
iound the country as it had been described by me, 
and how he esteemed it * well, extremely well (was 
his reply) since my arrival I have fared like a Prince, 
I have meat every day, and have feasted on American 
puddings and pies (suth as you used to tell me about) 
until I have become almost sick of them !"" I was 
immediately conducted by him to the house of the 
gentleman with whom he lived, and by whom 1 was 
treated with much hospitality in the afternoon of 
the day succeeding (by the earnest request of my 
son) I visited Bunker-Hill, which he had a curiosity 
te view, having heard it so frequently spoken of by 
me while in London, as the place where the memor- 
able battle was fought and in which J received my 
wounds. 

I continued in Boston about a fortnight, and then 
set out on foot to visit once more my native State. 
My son accompanied me as far aa Roxbury, when 1 
was obliged reluctantly to part with him, and pro- 
ceeded myself no farther on my journey that day. 
than Jamaica plains, where at a public house I tarri- 
ed all night from thence I started earty the nest 
morning and reached Providence about 5 o'clock in 
the afternoon> and obtained lodgings at a public Inn 
Hi High- Street. 

It may not be improper here to acquaint my 



** LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ders that as 1 had left my father possessed of very 
considerable preperly, and of which at his decease I 
thought myself entitled to a portion equal to that of 
the other children, which (as my father was very e- 
eonomical in the management of his affairs) 1 knew 
could not amount to a very inconsiderable sum ; it 
Tras to obtain thU if possible, that I becawe extreme- 
ly anxious to visit immediately the place of my na- 
tivityaccordingly the day after 1 arrived in Provi- 
iclence. I hastened to Cranston, to seek my connex- 
ions if any were to be found ; and if aot to seek among 
the most aged of the inhabitants, some one who had 
not forgotten me, and who might be able to furnish 
me with the sought for information. But, alas, loo 
oon were blasted ray hopeful expectations of finding 
something m reserve far me, that might have affor- 
ded me a humble support, the few remaining years 
of my life. It was by a distant connexion that I was 
informed that my brothers had many years since re- 
moved to a distant part of the country that having 
credited a rumour in circulation of my death, at the 
decease of my father had disposed of the real estate 
of which he died possessed, and had divided the pro- 
ceeds equally among themselves ! This was anoth- 
er instance of adverse tortune that I had not antici- 
pated! it was indeed a circumstance so foreign 
Ironi my mind that 1 felt myself for the first lime, 
tinhappy, since my return to my native country, and 
even believed myself now doomed to endure, among 
y own counirymen ' v for whose liberties 1 had foughlt 



G* ISRAEL R. POTTER. 105 

and bled) miseries ilmilar to those that had attended 
me for many years in Europe. With these gloomy 
forebodings I returned to Providene, and contract- 
ed for board with the gentleman at whose house I 
had lodged the Hist night of my arrival in town, and 
to whom for the kind treatment that 1 have recei?ed 
from him and his family, 1 shall feel till death under 
the deepest obligations that gratitude can dictate ; for 
I can truly say of him, that 1 was a stranger and he 
took me in, I was hungry and naked) and he fed and 
cloathed me. 

As I had never received any remuneration for ser 
vices rendered, and hardships endured in the cause 
of my country, I was now obliged, as my last resort> 
to petition Congress to be included in that number of 
the few surviving soldiers of the Revolution, for 
whose services they had been pleased to grant pen- 
sionsand I would to God that I could add, for the 
honour of my country, that the application met with 
iis deserving success but. although accompanied by 
the deposition of a respectable gentleman (which de- 
position I have thought proper to annex to my nar- 
lative) satisfactorily confirming every iact as therein 
stated -yet on no other principle, than that / was ab- 
sent from the country it/hen the pension law fiassfdmy 
Petition was REJECTED ! ! I Reader, I have bee n 
for 30 years (as you will perceive by what I have sta- 
ted in the foregoing pages) subject, in *. foreign coun- 
try; to almost all the miseries with which poor hu- 
man nature IB capable of being inflicted yet) in DO. 



106 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

one instance did I ever feel so great degree of a dev 
pression of spirits, as when the fate of ray Petition 
was announced to me! 1 love too well the country 
vhich gave me birth, and entertain too high a respect 
for those employed in its government, to reproach 
them with ingratitude ; yet, it is my sincere prayer 
that this strange and unprecedented circumstance) of 
withholding fiom me that reward which they have 
so generally bestowed on others, may never be told 
in Europe, or published in the streets of London, least 
it reach the ears of some who had the effrontery to 
declare to me personally, that for the active part that 
I had taken in the rebellious war" misery and star- 
vation would ultimately be my reward I 

To conclvde*althcugh I may be again unfortun- 
ate in a renewal of my application to govenment, for 
that reward to tviich my services so justly entitle 
me yet 1 feel thankful that I am priviledged (after 
nduring so much) to spend the remainder of my 
days, among those who I am confident are posses- 
sed of too much humanity, to see me suffer ; and 
which I am sensible I owe to the divine goodness* 
which graciously condescended to support me un 
dei my numerous afflictions, and finally enabled me 
to return to my native country in the 79th year of 
my age for this 1 return unfeigned thanks to the 
Almighty ; and hope to give during che remainder 
of my life, convincing testimenies of the strong im- 
pression which those afflictions made on my mind, 
fcy devoting myself sincerely to the dunes of religion. 



01? ISRAEL A. FOTTE&. JOf 

DEPOSITION OF JOHN VTAL. 
f JOHN VIAL of North Providence, in the county 
of Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, on 
oath certify and say, that sometime in the latter part 
of November or the beginning of December A.D. 
1775--- 1 entered as gunner's mate on board the 
Washington, a public armed vessel in the service 
of the United States, and under the command of 
S. Martindale, Esq said vessel was sent out by 
order of Gtneral WASHINGTON, from Plymouth 
(Mass.) to cruize in Boston harbour to intercept 
supplies going to Boston, ther* in the possession of 
the British troops. Alter we had been out a short 
time, we were captured by a British 20 gun ship, 
called the " Foy " and weie carried to Bcstor, wher* 
we remained about a week and were then put on 
board the frigate Tartar, and sen* to England as 
prisoners'and 1 the sa<d John further testify ard 
say, that 1 well remember lsr.M-1 K Potter, now re- 
siding in Cranston, who was a mariner on board the 
Washington also said Potter entered about the time 
1 did and was captured and carried to Eagland with 
me. We arrived in England in January 1776, we 
were then put into the Hospital, the greater part of 
the crew being sick in consequence of the confine- 
ment during the voyage, where many died 1 remain- 
ed in imprisonment about sixteen iror.ths when I 
tnncle my escape what became of sakt Potter after* 
wards 1 do net know bin I have not the least doubt 
lie remained a piiboner until the ptace 1783 as he 



10S U*B AMD ABVENTUAP.S ? ScC. 



stated in his application for a pension I have a* 
doubt he suffered a great deal during his captivity. 
According to my best recollection nearly one third 
of the crew died in the hospital -1 do remember an 
affair which took place during our voyage to England 
which caused Potter to suffer a great deal more than 
perhaps he otherwise would a number of the crew 
of the Washington formed a plan to rise and take the 
Frigate but was defeated in their purpose, among 
%vhom I believe Potter was one, and in consequence, 
put in irons for the remaining part of the voyage with 
a number of others. And 1 the said John do further 
testify that I do not know of any of the said crew of th4 
Washington now being alive except said Potter and 
myself- and that I do not believe it to be in the pow- 
er of said Potter to procure any other testimony of 
the above mentioned facts except mine. 

JOHN VIAL. 

Rhode Island District Providence Aug 6, 1823. 

The said John Vial, who is well known to me and 
is a creditable witness, made solemn oath to the truth 
of the foregoing doposition by him subscribed in my 
presence. DAVID HOWELL. 

DISTRICT JUDGE. 



ERRATA. 

In page 82, 15th line ftom the top for " a child but 
six years of age" read ' a child but seven years of 
age" In page 82, sixth line from the top, for " six- 
pence per week" read " sixpence per day" In ad. 
diticntothe above some few typographical errors of 
vcrds m prrperly spelled, escaped the notice of thfc 
publisher, until too late to correct them. 



M92562 



* 

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