Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/69

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JOHN LEYDEN. 439


his departure from Europe, but we are enabled to state the following outlines of his fortune in the East.

After a mutiny in the vessel, uhich was subdued by the exertions of the offi- cers and passengers, and in which Leyden distinguished himself by his coolness and intrepidity, the Hugh Inglis arrived at Madras, and he was transferred to the duties of his new profession. His nomination as surgeon to the commission- ei's appointed to survey the ceded districts, seemed to promise <ample opportuni- ties for the cultivation of oriental learning. But his health gave way under the fatigues of the climate ; and he has pathetically recorded, in his " Address to an Indian Gold Coin," the inroads which were made on his spirits and constitution. He was obliged to leave the presidency of Madras, suffering an accumulation of diseases, and reached with difficulty Prince of Wales Island. During the pas- sage the vessel was chased by a French privateer, which was the occasion of Leyden's composing, in his best style of border enthusiasm, an " Ode to a Malay cris," or dagger, the only weapon which his reduced strength now admitted of his wielding. The following letter to Mr Ballantyne, dated from Prince of Wales Island, 24th October, 1805, gives a lively and interesting account of his occupations during the first two years of his residence in India.

" Puloo Penang, October 24/A, 1805.

" My dear Ballantyne, Finding an extra Indiaman, the Revenge, which has put into this harbour in distress, bound to Europe, I take another oppor- tunity of attempting to revive, or rather commence, an intercourse with my Eu- ropean friends, for since my arrival in India I have never received a single scrap from one of them, Proh Deum ! Mr Constable excepted ; and my friend Erskine writes me from Bombay, that none of you have received the least intel- ligence of my motions since I left Europe. This is to me utterly astonishing and incomprehensible, considering the multitude of letters and parcels that I have despatched from Mysore, especially during my confinement for the liver disease at Seringapatam, where I had for some months the honour of inhabiting the palace of Tippoo's prime minister. I descended into Malabar in the begin- ning of May, in order to proceed to Bombay, and perhaps eventually up the Persian gulf as far as Bassorah, in order to try the effect of a sea voyage. I was, however, too late, and the rains had set in, and the last vessels sailed two or three days before my arrival. As I am always a very lucky fellow, as well as an unlucky one, which all the world knows, it so fell out that the only vessel which sailed after my arrival was wrecked, while some secret presentiment, or rather " sweet little cherub, that sits up aloft," prevented my embarking on board of her. I journeyed leisurely down to Calicut from Cananore, intending to pay my respects to the Cutwall, and the Admiral, so famous in the Lusiad of Camoens ; but only think of my disappointment when I found that the times are altered, and the tables turned with respect to both these sublime characters. The Cutwall is only a species of boroughbailiff, while the Admiral, God help him, is only the chief of the fishermen. From Calicut I proceeded to Paul- gaut-cherry, which signifies, in the Tamal language, " the town of the forest of palms," which is exactly the meaning of Tadmor, the name of a city founded by Solomon, not for the queen of Sheba, but, as it happened, for the equally famous queen Zenobia. Thus having demonstrated that Solomon understood the Tamal language, we may proceed to construct a syllogism in the following manner : " Solomon understood the Tamal language, and he was wise, I un- derstand the Tamal language, therefore I am as wise as Solomon !" I fear you logical lads of Europe will be very little disposed to admit the legitimacy of the conclusion ; but, however the matter may stand in Europe, I can assure you it's