The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself.

p. 69: I had often seen my master and Dick employed in reading; and I had a great curiosity to talk to the books, as I thought they did; and so to learn how all things had a beginning: for that purpose I have often taken up a book, and have talked to it, and then put my ears to it, when alone, in hopes it would answer me; and I have been very much concerned when I found it remained silent.

p. 159: On one of our trips to St. Kitt’s, I had eleven bits of my own; and my friendly captain lent me five more, with which I bought a Bible. I was very glad to get this book, which I scarcely could meet with any where. I think there was none sold in Montserrat; and, much to my grief, from being forced out of the Aetna in the manner I have related, my Bible, and the Guide to the Indians, the two books I loved above all others, were left behind.

p. 251: I was very happy in living [in London]… Thus I went on till May 1773, when I was roused by the sound of fame to seek new adventures, and to find, towards the north pole what our Creator never intended we should, a passage to India. An expedition was now fitting out to explore a north-east passage, conducted by the Honourable Constantine John Phipps, since Lord Mulgrave, in his Majesty’s sloop of war the Race Horse.

p. 251-59, a brief account of Vassa’s participation in that expedition of Constantine Phipps in 1773, as the servant of Dr. Irving aboard the Race Horse. Horatio Nelson at age 14 was also on the expedition. Irving had an apparatus for distilling fresh water from salt which Vassa operated aboard. Vassa speaks of almost burning the ship while writing his journal by candlelight in a small closet aboard the ship. He talks of killing of animals and of perils of the ice but generally doesn’t make too much of it. It was on British ships during the Seven Years’ War that Vassa was taught to read by sailors, converted to Christianity, and read the English Bible regularly. Not much seems to be made of his Arctic experience.

p. 273, on visiting a pious couple in Holborn, London: I knew not at last how to leave this agreeable pair, till time summoned me away. As I was going they lent me a little book, entitled “The Conversion of an Indian.” It was in questions and answers. The poor man came over the sea to London, to inquire after the Christian’s God, who (through rich mercy) he found, and had not his journey in vain. The above book was of great use to me, and at that time was a means of strengthening my faith….