Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/141
CAPTAIN ROBERT KNOX 129
would return. He could have escaped in the ship quite easily. Those on board the ship begged him to escape while he had the chance. He was a young man, why should he go back to captivity ; why not get away in the ship now Providence had helped him to her? Knox delivered his message and went back to his father, and was a captive for the next twenty years.
Many of the sea captains of that age were men of fine mental attainments and great political sagacity. Their books are wise with the rough and noble wisdom of men who have faced big issues of life and death for months together. Knox's mind was too confused for wisdom. His piety, though great, provided him with no way of life. Newton, Cowper's friend, was changed by sudden religious illumination from a slaver to a preacher. Knox, on the other hand, having been brought, as he would put it, out of the Land of Egypt, became not a preacher but a slaver. He got a little ship full of powder and trade guns, and went away to Madagascar to buy slaves. On this voyage the man's character seems to have gone to pieces. It often happens that when the