Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/306

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


100 MUNGO PAEK.


breaking out between the people of Bambarra, to which kingdom his course was directed, and other tribes, through whose territories he had to pass on his way thither. He nevertheless persevered, although even his faithful negro Johnson, who was aware of the dangers he was running into, refused to accom- pany him farther. They parted accordingly at Jarra, in the kingdom of Ludi- mar (the people of which, as well as of the neighbouring nations, were found to be Mahomedans), and Mr Park, having intrusted Johnson with a copy of his jour- nal to carry back with him to Pisania, set out for the camp of Ali at Benowm, accompanied only by Dr Laidley's slave boy, and a messenger who had arrived from Ali to conduct him thither. On the way he suffered great privations, and was repeatedly beaten and robbed by the fanatical Moors, to whom he was an object of peculiar detestation as a Christian. AH the sufferings and insults which he had yet undergone, however, were nothing to what he was doomed to endure while in the power of the tyrant Ali. His appearance at Benowm excited the greatest astonishment and consternation amongst the inhabitants, scarcely one of whom had ever seen a white man before. When taken before Ali, the latter was engaged in the dignified occupation of clipping his beard with a pair of scissors, and paid little regard to him; but the ladies of the court fully maintained the character of their sex for inquisitiveness, searched his pockets, opened his waistcoat to examine his white skin, and even counted his toes and fingers to make sure of his being human. It would occupy far more space than the limits of this memoir will allow, to detail the innumerable and unremitting sufferings of our unfortunate countryman during his detention at this place. The unfeeling tyrant would neither permit him to depart, nor grant him any protection from the persecution of the fanatical rabble. He was beat, reviled, compelled to perform the meanest offices, frequently on the point of starvation, and was often necessitated to sleep in the open air. All his bag- gage was taken from him to deter him from running away, with the exception of a pocket compass, which was supposed to be the work of magic, from the needle always pointing in the same direction, and was therefore returned to him. At last it began to be debated how he was to be disposed of some ad- vising that he should be put to death, others, that his right hand should be cut oft", and another party, that his eyes should be put out. Park's health at length gave way under the accumulated horrors of his situation, and he was seized with a fever and delirium, which brought him to the brink of the grave. Yet even in this extremity, his persecutors never desisted from their cruelties, and tor- mented him like some obnoxious animal, for their amusement. Perhaps the strongest proof that can be given of the extent of his sufferings at this time, and of the deep and lasting impression they made on his mind, is the fact, that years afterwards, subsequent to his return to Scotland, and while residing with his family on the peaceful banks of the Tweed, he frequently started up in hor- ror from his sleep, imagining himself still in the camp of Ali at Benowm. But perhaps nothing gave our traveller so much permanent grief as the fate of his faithful slave boy Demba, whom Ali impressed into his service as a soldier, and who had conceived a great affection for Mr Park, who describes their parting as very affecting. After a month's residence at Benowm, Ali removed to Jarra, back to which place, of course, Mr Park was obliged to accompany him. Here all was alarm and terror, from the approach and apprehended attack of the king of Kaarta ; and amid the bustle and confusion of the inhabitants flying from their homes, the preparations for war, &c., Mr Park at last, after great diffi- culty, and amid many perils, found an opportunity of escaping, and struck into the woods back towards Bambarra. Being under the necessity of avoiding all intercourse with the natives, in order to avoid being recaptured by the emissa-