So I told my brothers what the news was, and that I was meaning to take the gent's advice. They answered, `If you go to America we never shall see you no more. We are meaning to carry on a little trade in Roscoff in the brandy and gin way, and if you will go there you'll be as safe there as in America; likewise, we shall pay you for your commission, and you car on a little business for your self, if you please.'
So that with prayer and supplication I made my request known unto God. I still continued to walk in the same rigorous self denial as before, abstaining from food, etc. Well, then, with much fear and trembling I concluded to go. The greatest trial I had about going, I know there was no religious people there, and some times in fears I should be lead away into the world again. I know I was going on slippery ground, but, glory be to God, I know his grace was sufficient for me. So at the 19 of April, in 1791, I sailed in an open boat from the King's Cove, in company with a merchant that had business there, so that after fifteen hours' passage arrived there very safe, still in the same frame of mind.
I lodged at a public house, I think, two days, and as the merchant had business to Morlaix, desired me to go with him, where I staid there about ten or twelve days, and returned again back to Roscoff. I kept myself to myself as much as possible. Well, then, I went to private lodgings and ate and drunk to myself; and as I had no business to do, I was almost all the time to myself day and night, still walking in the same self denial as first. I would not allow myself but four hours in bed, so continued, as well as I think, for six or seven days, but I found I had not sleep enough, as about noon I have fallen asleep upon the book, so I added a little longer time.
I have often times since thought how dead I was then to all below. There was a house burned under the same roof where I lodged little before, and I had to go in and out right before the same house; and after I was there about a fortnight I hard some people talking about the dreadful fire, and what great lost some had sustained. I asked, `What fire?'
They said, ` Next door.' I made no other answer, for I was really ashamed; what they thought of me I know not. So after I looked, and saw most of the walls standing, but without windows and door, and the walls smoked quite black.
Well, then, I did not pray in secret less than I did before, I suppose never less than ten times in a day, and in fore and afternoon walked a little out of town in so solitary place as I could find, out of sight of all men. In general I went on the cliffs where no eye saw me, and there sing, that I may be heard for I suppose a mile distance, and pass, I think, about two hours and half fore noon and after noon in reading, praying, singing, and then return home. About this time I made a linen girdle to go about my loins inside my shirt. Tied it tight, I thought, I might be able to live upon less food and my spirit would be more vigorous in the ways of good. I continued on for, as I think, about two days, found it quite disagreeable, and so left it off I passed almost all my time to myself; in my going out and coming in I went the bye roads, because I wanted to see no person; and if I meet any person in the way, it was a great cross to me to enter in to any conversation more than just the time of the day, for fear to obstruct my communion with God. I think then I watched over all my thoughts as well as words and actions. I think there did not the least thought pass my mind unperceived ; my mind then was like a fisherman's net, I saved the good but heaved away the bad.
Well, then, I went on still in this way until I think about the beginning of August, when I went on with a little business in the shop way, and about the same time Captain B--. came there, an old acquaintance of mine, being the first Captain I sailed with, a man of what we calls good morals. I meet him one Sabbath morning as I was walking out, and after a little conversation I said, ` This is a poor place for the public worship of God; if I was at home now I should be at Trevean preaching.'
He answered, `Why don't you stand up here and say something to the people ?' So as I thought he was making game of me,
I answered, `Who will hear me?'
He said, ` I will hear you, and I suppose most of the English men in town.'
So the next Sabbath morning meet with him again on nearly the same ground. He repeated unto me nearly the same thing again, saying, ` All the English in town will gladly hear you,' or to that purpose.
So then I thought he was in earnest, and I left him with much fear and trembling, and immediately went to ask counsel from the mouth of the Lord, so that spent the remainder of that fore noon in pray and supplication, and for fear I should run before I was sent, I set this as a mark, that after diner I would go on the pier, and if I meet first a such a man, who was master of one of the vessels that was there, I should propose the matter unto him, and if agreeable, I should surely think it to be the will of God concerning me.
So about one o'clock I rose up from my knees and went on the pier, and the first man I meet with was the very same man, so with much fear and trembling I opened the business unto him of what Captain B. and I was talking of.
He readily replied, `I'll come, and I will tell all the people of it, I suppose they will all come.' So him and me proposed the time of meeting, I think it was four o'clock. So he, like a town crier, beat the alarm, and after I left him, oh, how my poor head was distracted, a such poor ignorant soul as I was to take such a thing upon me; surely I shall be a by word and reproach with the French, and a mocking and laughing stock to all the English. And another was, what can I say to the people? As when I was at home there was mourners to comfort, weak believers to build up, sanctification to impress upon the people's minds, and now only sinners, etc., to talk to. So that my poor mind was so full of distraction I could hardly tell what to do; but as I had gone so far as to propose it, I could not go from it.
Well, then, according to the time proposed, the same afternoon, in came Captain B. with I suppose about twenty or thirty, I suppose nearly all the English men in the town, took off their hats, and seat themselves down, so that I begun to tremble and sweat, I could scarcely hold the hymn book in both hands. Gave out a verse, and begun to sing myself, and praise be to God, before I sung the second verse I found life coming, and before I went to prayer the cross was all gone, so that I found very great liberty in prayer; so that when I rose from my knees I was surprised to see so many hard harts to their knees, so that I found much courage to go on in my poor simple way. I found uncommon degree of liberty, and the people all listened with the greatest attention, and after I dismissed the people with singing and prayer.
So after they were gone, I was still concerned that they would turn what I said into ridicule, and as I had a back window that I could see the greatest part of the pier, watched them, and they all went on board as quiet as Christians of the first magnitude might be expected. The Lord doth only know if there was any good done or not. So I continued for eight or nine months every night when there was Englishmen there.
I think it was in the beginning of the month of May 1792, when three of my brother's children come to life with me, Fras., Henry, and Joanna Carter, and staid with me until the beginning of September, when I was like a hermit to myself as before.
I think it was in the beginning of October when three large cutters, Captain Scott one of them, came in here wind bound from Guernsey; and as I went into the house on some business where they put up to, saw one of their sailors that did formerly sail with me. I asked him to come to my house, saying I could treat him with a glass of grog, and if them three or four men that was present would come with him, I should be glad to see them also. This was in the evening. I was not home as I think more than fifteen or twenty minutes until he came in with four or five with him, and in a few minutes after almost the house full with their three Captains.
Then I thought what they come for, and as they took me in surprise, as I had not the least thoughts to say anything, I begun to tremble and run upstairs to call for help from the Lord. I suppose I might have been there eight or ten minutes, and as I was coming down I meet one in the stairs, saying, 'If you don't come down the people will all be gone.'
So with much trembling and sweating I took the hymn book and begun to sing to myself, as I did the first time. I found great liberty in prayer, and after thundered out the tretnings, cried aloud, spar'd not. They all behaved very well, seemed to listen with great attention. So after we concluded the meeting, I asked the Captains and some of the men to seat down, so they stayed with some more of their people, I suppose more than an hour, all very serious, no laughing, no trifling conversation. They took some thing to drink, shook hands, and wished good night. Praise be to God, I was surely a wonder to myself indeed.
So the next morning him that had sailed with me before come in laughing, saying one of his shipmates told him that how could that old man know his thoughts, for he told him almost all that ever he did in his life. I think they sailed the next day, and two of them being in company in a gale of wind, one of them disappeared, and have never been heard of since.
Captain Scott showed me great kindness ever after; he sent a lugger there after to be laid up, with, I think, six or eight men on board, who ordered them to take all what they wanted of me, and likewise recommended all his friends unto me for what they wanted.