On October 24, in 1788, I sailed from Mounts Bay for Leghorn (Livorno, in Italy) in the ship George, with Captain Dewen, as master. I was put on board with a boat from the King's Cove, accompanied by brother John, and I think I was almost like a dead man; thought little or nothing consuming my wife or child, or anything in this world, but was earnestly crying for mercy. I had a little cabin to myself to lodge in, where there was only a single partition between me and the men. At first it was a great pain to me to hear them swearing, but after a little while took very little notice of it. I had some very good books to read with me, but they seem to be all locked up to me, as the natural man cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God, for they are to be spiritually discerned. I remember sometimes reading, when I could not understand, I should be so peevish and fretful that I could heave a book over-board. Then, oh, what a torment in my poor soul I felt. Then to think, surely the mercy of God is clean gone from me. Oh, what burthen my life was unto me. At them times I seldom prayed then less in secret than twelve times a day and night, and when I could pray with a little liberty, I should be in hope of mercy, and at other times kneel down and groan without one word brought to my remembrance, then almost ready to give up all, saying, `Surely there is no mercy for me ; all my prayers is no use at all, God pays no respect unto them ;' but still I dare not give up praying. I could look back afterward and see I was all prayer. So I think I arrived at Leghorn in the latter end of December, where I passed my Christmas. I think the first Sabbath after I came there the Captain asked me to go on shore to church with him, as there was an English church and clergyman there. I gladly went. The minister being a good reader, I saw in his countenance much gravity and solemnity. I said to myself, `Surely this is the man of God,' and thought I was highly favoured to hear him. The next Sunday I gladly went again, but on coming on board after the service was over, I was told that sacrament days he did not scruple to go to the plays and cards, etc., which poisoned my mind so with prejudice, I never went no more.
In the course of all this time I never met with one person to give me one word of advice concerning my soul, but I laboured to keep myself to myself so much as possible, still reading and praying with all diligence. Well, then, the Captain got freight there to go to Barcelona, to load with brandy for New York in America. I was very glad when I heard of it, as I heard that there was Methodists there, in hope I should fall in with some of them to give me a word of instruction. So I think we sailed from Leghorn in the latter end of January in 1789. The Lord still continued to strive with me, sometimes in hope of salvation, other times almost ready to give up all hope; but I still was diligent in reading and prayer, but I was so ignorant of the ways of salvation as I was at the first time I began to pray. I remember my passage there one day, scudding before the wind, very cold weather, and a very big sea, looking over the stern. I thought I should be very glad to be tied in a rope and towed after the ship for a fortnight, if that would get me into the favour of God. But, alas, I know all such works would not merit anything from God as salvation.