Equiano's account of the middle passage

I was not

long suffered to indulge my grief; I

was soon put down under the decks,

and there I received such a salutation

in my nostrils as I had never experi-

enced in my life: so that, with the

loathsomeness of the stench, and crying

together, I became so sick and low

that I was not able to eat, nor had I

the least desire to taste any thing. I

now wished for the last friend, death,

to relieve me; but soon, to my grief,

two of the white men offered me eat-

ables; and, on my refusing to eat,

one of them held me fast by the hands,

and laid me across I think the windlass,

and tied my feet, while the other flogged

me severely. I have never experienced

any thing of this kind before; and al-

though, not being used to the water,

I naturally feared that element the first

time I saw it, yet nevertheless, could I

have got over the nettings, I would

have jumped over the side, but I could

not; and besides, the crew used to

watch us very closely who were not

chained down to the decks, lest we

should leap into the water: and I have

seen some of these poor African pri-

soners most severely cut for attempting

to do so, and hourly whipped for not

eating. This indeed was often the case

with myself. In a little time after,

amongst the poor chained men, I found

some of my own nation, which in a

small degree gave ease to my mind.

Need some help?

salutation = greeting

windlass = a mechanical aid found on a ship - to lift or hoist things

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