Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/305

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MUNGO PARK.


99


beset with beasts of prey ; in others, through the territories of barbarous tribes, from whose inhospitality or savage dispositions he had scarcely less to fear.

At the very outset, an event occurred which seemed to bode ill for the result of his journey. Dr Laidley, and a few other of the Europeans at Pisania, hav- ing escorted him during the first two days, bade him adieu, convinced that they would never see him more ; and scarcely were they out of sight, when he was surrounded by a horde of native banditti, from whom he only got free by sur- rendering the greater part of his small store of tobacco. Park, however, was not a man to be depressed by evil auguries, and he accordingly pushed on to Medina, the capital of Woolli, where the king, a benevolent old man, received him with much kindness, and furnished him with a trusty guide to the frontiers of his dominions. Our traveller then engaged three elephant hunters, as guides and water-bearers, through the sandy desert which lay before him, where water was frequently not to be found for several days together. He performed the jour- ney in safety, but after much fatigue, and reached Fatteconda, the residence of the king of Bondon, situated upon the very frontiers of his dominions, adjoining the kingdom of Kajaaga. It was at Fatteconda, and at the hands of the same chief, that Park's predecessor in enterprise, Major Houghton, had received such ill usage, and was plundered of almost everything he possessed ; but the only article he exacted from Park, and that not by force, but by such warm and ani- mated expressions of admiration as left our traveller no alternative to choose, was his new blue coat, with gilt buttons, in return for which he presented hirn with five drachms of gold. From Fatteconda he proceeded to Joag, the fron- tier town of Kajaaga, travelling in the night-time for fear of robbers, and through thickets abounding with wolves and hyenas, which glided across their silent path in the clear moonshine, and hung round the small party with yells and howlings, as if watching an opportunity to spring upon them. At Joag, and whilst preparing to proceed on his journey, he was honoured by a visit from the king's son, who plundered him of the half of his little stores, on pre- tence of his having forfeited all his property by entering the kingdom without leave. As a sort of consolation for this disaster, and whilst appeasing his hunger with a few ground nuts which a poor negro slave had given him in charity, he was waited upon by the nephew of the king of Kasson, who had been at Kajaaga on an embassy, and who, taking pity on him, offered to escort him to his uncle's capital, to which he was now returning, and which lay in the line of our traveller's route. After crossing the river Senegal, however, which was the boundary of Kasson, his royal guide left him, having first taken from him the half of the little property he had left A few days after this, Park, for the first time, had an opportunity of observing the manners of the barbarous and untutored natives of Africa in all their primitive simplicity and unchecked ardour. They came to a village which was the birth-place of one of his faith- ful escort, a blacksmith that had accompanied him from Pisania, and who was now about to leave him, having amassed a considerable deal of money in his profession on the coast, and resolving to spend the rest of his days in ease and independence amongst his family and friends. The meeting which ensued was characterized by the most extravagant demonstrations of joy and triumph, and Park was convinced, that " whatever difference there is between the negro and European, in the conformation of the nose, and the colour of the skin, there is none in the genuine sympathies and characteristic feelings of our common na- ture." With these warm-hearted villagers, our traveller rested for a day or two, and then proceeded to Kooniakary, where the king, a worthy old man, who was greatly beloved by his subjects, received him with much kindness. From this point new perils beset Mr Park's further progress, in consequence of war