Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/313

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MUNGO PARK.


gated his way down the Niger, as far as Boossa, in the kingdom of Yaour, which was more than two-thirds of the distance between the ocean, or Gulf of Guinea, and where the river is termed by the natives Quorra. They had frequent skir- mishes with the natives, particularly in passing Timbuctoo, where several of the natives were killed. On reaching Yaour, Mr Park sent Amadi Fatouma ashore with various presents, some of which were to the chief or governor of the place, but the most valuable portion for the king, to whom the chief was requested to send them. A short while after, the latter sent to inquire if Mr Park intended to come back ; and on being answered that he could return no more, the treacherous chief appropriated the presents intended for the king to his own use. This piece of knavery proved fatal to the unfortunate travellers. The king, indignant at the supposed slight cast on him, assembled a large army at the above mentioned village of Boussa, where a large high rock stretches across the whole breadth of the river, the only passage for the river being through an opening in the rock in the form of a door. The army posted themselves on the top of the rock, and on Mr Park's attempting to pass, assailed him with lances, pikes, arrows, stones, and missiles of every description. The beleaguered tra- vellers defended themselves for a long time, till all were either killed or severe- ly wounded; when, seeing the uselessness of further resistance, Mr Park, lieu- tenant Martyn, and one or two more, jumped out of the boat, and were drowned in attempting to get ashore. Only one slave was left alive. Such was the nar- rative of Amadi Fatouma, who had left Mr Park at Yaour, where his engage- ment with him terminated, and where he was for many months afterwards con- fined in irons on suspicion of having purloined the presents intended for the king, which had been made away with by the treacherous chief. Amadi had obtained the accounts of the fatal scene from those who had taken a part in it. The natives afterwards endeavoured to account for the disappearance of Park, to the inquiries of subsequent travellers, by saying that his vessel had foundered against the rock, and that he and his companions were drowned by accident But there is now not the shadow of a doubt that the above narrative of Amadi is substantially true.

So perished Mungo Park, in the thirty-fifth year of his age- a man wljose natural enthusiasm, scientific acquirements, undaunted intrepidity, patience of suffering, and inflexible perseverance, in short, every quality requisite for a traveller in the path he adopted, have never been surpassed, and who, had he survived, would no doubt have reaped those laurels which more fortunate suc- cessors in the same career have won. To these qualities in his public character, it is pleasing to be able to add those of amiable simplicity of manners, constancy of affection, and sterling integrity in private life.

Mr Park's papers were, with the exception of a few scraps, 2 unfortunately all lost with him, and this is much to be regretted, as, notwithstanding the important discoveries of the Landers, who subsequently traced the course of the Quorra or Niger from Boussa, where Park fell, down to the Gulf of Guinea, they were un-

2 These were, an old nautical publication (of which the title-page was amissing, and its contents chiefly tables of logarithms), with a few loose memoranda of no importance between the leaves. One of these papers, however, was curious enough, from the situation and cir- cumstances in which it was found. It was a card of invitation to dinner, and was in the fol- lowing terms:

" Mr and Mrs Watson would be happy to have the pleasure of Mr Park's company at dinner on Tuesday next, at half-past five o'clock. An answer is requested.

" Strand, 9th Nov., 1804."

These were the only written documents belonging to Park which the Messrs Landers, after the most anxious inquiries and investigations, were able to discover. They succeeded, however, in recovering his double-barrelled gun, and the tobe, or short cloak, which he wore when he was drowned.