Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/312

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106 MUNGO PARK.


march, and plundered them at every opportunity. In crossing the Wondu, they nearly lost their guide Isaaco, by a large crocodile, which pulled him below the water several times, but from which he at last got free, much lacerated. At an- other time they were encountered by three large lions, but which took to flight at the sound of Mr Park's musket. At last the miserable remnant of the party only nine out of forty-four, and these nine all sick, and some in a state of mental derangement reached Bambakoo, on the Niger. Here Mr Scott was left behind on account of sickness, of which he shortly died ; while the rest pro- ceeded to Sego, the capital of Bambarra, which they reached on the 19th of September. Mansong was still king, and was so highly gratified with the pre- sents brought to him, that he gave them permission to build a boat, and pro- mised to protect them as far as lay in his power. Mr Park forthwith opened a shop for the sale of his European goods, which immediately obtained such de- mand, that his shop was crowded with customers from morning till night, and one day he turned over no less than 25,756 cowries. Here, however, he lost his brother-in-law Mr Anderson, a circumstance which afflicted him greatly, and made him feel, as he himself expressed it, "as if left a second time lonely and friendless amidst the wilds of Africa." But not all the sufferings he had under- gone, the loss of his companions, or the dismal condition of the remainder, and the perilousness of his situation nothing could damp the native ardour of his mind. Having got a sort of schooner constructed and rigged out, he prepared for setting out on his formidable journey, previously to which, however, he took care to bring his journal up to the latest hour, and wrote several letters to his friends and relatives in Britain. These were intrusted to his faithful guide Isaaco, to carry back to the Gambia, wjience they were transmitted to England. His letter to Mrs Park, excepting that part of it which mentions the death of her brother and Mr Scott, was written in a cheering and hopeful strain ; speaks with confidence of his reaching the ocean in safety, and of the probability of his being in England before the letter itself! His companions were now reduced to four, viz., lieutenant Martyn and three soldiers, one of whom was deranged in his mind ; and with this miserable remnant, and a guide named Amadi Fa- iouma, he set sail, as near as could be ascertained, on the 19th of November, 1806. The progress of the unfortunate travellers after this period, and their ultimate fate, so long a mystery, are now familiarly known, although there are many circumstances attending the unhappy closing scene which are yet shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.

Vague rumours of the death of Park and his companions were brought by some of the natives to the British settlements on the coast, even so early as the end of 1806 ; but no information could be got for several years of a nature to be at all relied on, during which time the suspense of his friends and of the public at large, but more particularly of his afflicted family, was of the most painful nature. At length, in 1810, colonel Maxwell, governor of Senegal, despatched Isaaco, Park's former guide, into the interior, in order to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the reports which prevailed. After an absence of a year and eight months, this individual returned, and the many facts of the nar- rative, which he gave as the result of his labours, are not only but too probable in themselves, but seem to have been thoroughly confirmed by the investigations of subsequent travellers. Isaaco stated, that he had fallen in with Mr Park's guide, Amadi Fatouma, at Medina, near Sansanding, who, on seeing Isaaco, and hearing the name of Park, began to weep, saying, " they are all dead ;" and was with great difficulty induced to detail the melancholy circumstances of the catastrophe. The account which he gave is too long to be introduced entire here, but the substance of it was as follows: After leaving Sansanding, Mr Park navi