Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

He bade Ilissus' tuneful stream
Convey the philosophic theme

Of perfect, fair, and good :
Attentive Athens caught the sound,
And all her listening sons around

In awful silence stood.
Reclaim’d, her wild, licentious youth
Confess'd the potent voice of truth,

And felt its just control;
The passions ceased their loud alarms,
And virtue's soft, persuasive charms

O'er all their senses stole.
Thy breath inspires the poet's song,
The patriot's free, unbiass'd tongue,

The hero's generous strife;
Thine are retirement's silent joys,
And all the sweet, endearing ties

Of still, domestic life!
No more to fabled names confin'd,
To thee, Supreme, All-perfect Mind,

My thoughts direct their flight;
Wisdom's thy gift, and all her force
From thee deriv'd, unchanging source

Of intellectual light!
Oh! send her sure, her steady ray,
To regulate my doubtful way

Through life's perplexing road;
The mists of error to control,
And through its gloom direct my soul

To happiness and good!
Beneath her clear, discerning eye,
The visionary shadows fly

Of folly's painted show;
She sees, through every fair disguise,
That all, but virtue's solid joys,

Is vanity and wo.

MUNGO PARK, 1771–1806.

Mungo Park, the renowned African traveller, was born at Fowlshiels, in Selkirkshire, Scotland, September 10, 1771, and was the seventh of thirteen chil. dren. Though the circumstances of his father, who was a farmer, were very limited, he did all he could for the education of his children, and Mungo was placed in the grammar-school at Selkirk, where he distinguished himself for his ready talents as well as for his remarkable perseverance and application. He had

LA small stream near Athens.

[ocr errors]

an early desire to study medicine, in which he was gratified by his father, and after qualifying himself in his profession at Edinburgh, he went to London in search of employment, and was speedily appointed assistant surgeon on board the Worcester, East Indiaman, through the interest of that world-renowned patron of enterprising and scientific men-Sir Joseph Banks. Mr. Park showed himself every way worthy of this appointment; and shortly after his return from the East Indies he entered the service of the “ Association for the Promotion of Discovery through the Interior of Africa,” and sailed from Portsmouth on the 22d of May, 1795, in the brig Endeavour.

His instructions were to proceed to the Niger by the nearest and most convenient route, and endeavor to trace its course, from its rise to its termination, and risit as many of the principal cities on its banks as possible. His vessel arrived at the mouth of the Gambia on the 21st of June, and after sailing up the river as far as Jonkakonda, he quitted her, and made preparations to proceed into the interior of the country by land. He was soon seized with fever, attended with delirium, which brought him almost to the grave, and he did not recover sufficiently to commence his journey till December. He then set out with a negro servant, who understood the Mandingo and English languages, as a guide and interpreter, and five others who were not immediately under his control, but who were made to understand that their own safety depended on their fidelity to him. Their outfit was a most meagre one, considering the long and perilous journey they were to undertake. The dangers that they encountered, and the sufferings they endured from hunger and thirst, and sickness, and assaults from predatory bands of savages, together with their constant exposure to attacks from wolves and byenas and even lions that beset their path, have caused this to be considered as one of the most dangerous journeys in modern travels. It would be, of course, out of the question, in this short notice, to go into any of the details, full of perilous interest as they were : suffice it to say, that on the 21st of July, 1796, weak and almost entirely exhausted, Mr. Park had the inexpressible gratification of coming in sight of Sego, the capital of Bambarra, situated on the long wishedfor river, which the natives term Joliba or the “Great Water.” But we will give his own words on

THE FIRST SIGHT OF THE NIGER.

Hearing that two negroes were going to Sego, I was happy to have their company, and we set out immediately. I was constantly taken for a Moor, and became the subject of much merrimerit to the Bambarrans, who, sceing me drive my horse before me, lechu

[ocr errors]

early the next day. The lions are here very numerous; the gates are shut a little after sunset, and nobody allowed to go out. The thoughts of seeing the Niger in the morning, and the troublesome buzzing of musquitoes, prevented me from shutting my eyes during the night, and I had saddled my horse, and was in readiness before daylight; but on account of the wild beasts, we were obliged to wait until the people were stirring and the gates opened. This happened to be a market-day at Sego, and the roads were everywhere filled with people carrying different articles to sell. We passed four large villages, and at eight o'clock saw the smoke over Sego.

As we approached the town, I was fortunate enough to overtake the fugitive Kaartans, to whose kindness I had been so much indebted in my journey through Bambarra. They readily agreed to introduce me to their king; and we rode together through the marshy ground, where, as I was looking anxiously around for the river, one of them called out geo afilli, (see the water;) and looking forwards, I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission, the long-sought for majestic Niger, glittering in the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. I hastened to the brink, and having drunk of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the Great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavors with success.

KINDNESS OF A WOMAN TO HIM, AND A SONG OVER HIS DISTRESS.

I waited more than two hours without having an opportunity of crossing the river; during which time, the people who had crossed carried information to Mansong the king, that a white man was waiting for a passage, and was coming to see him. He immediately sent over one of his chief men, who informed me that the king could not possibly see me until he knew what had brought me into this country; and that I must not presume to cross the river without the king's permission. He therefore advised me to lodge at a distant village, to which he pointed, for the night; and said, that in the morning he would give me further instructions how to conduct myself. This was very discouraging. However, as there was no remedy, I set off for the village, where I found, to my great mortification, that no person would admit me into his house. I was regarded with astonishment and fear, and was obliged to sit all day without victuals in the shade of a tree; and the night threatened to be very uncomfortable, for the wind rose, and there was

[ocr errors]

great appearance of a heavy rain ; and the wild beasts are so very numerous in the neighbourhood, that I should have been under the necessity of climbing up the tree and resting among the branches. About sunset, however, as I was preparing to pass the night in this manner, and had turned my horse loose that he might graze at liberty, a woman, returning from the labors of the field, stopped to observe me, and perceiving that I was weary and dejected, inquired into my situation, which I briefly explained to her; whereupon, with looks of great compassion, she took up my saddle and bridle, and told me to follow her. Having conducted me into her hut, she lighted up a lamp, spread a mat on the floor, and told me I might remain there for the night. Finding that I was very hungry, she said she would procure me something to eat. She accordingly went out and returned in a short time with a very fine fish, which, having caused to be half broiled upon some embers, she gave me for suppar. The rites of hospitality being thus performed towards a stranger in distress, my worthy benefactress (pointing to the mat, and telling me that I might sleep there without apprehension) called to the female part of the family, who had stood gazing on me all the while in fixed astonishment, to resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they continued to employ themselves great part of the night. They lightened their labor by songs, one of which was composed extempore, for I was myself the subject of it. It was sung by one of the young women, the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were these :—"The winds roared and the rains fell. The

poor
white

man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him milk; no wife to grind his

Chorus.—Let us pity the white man; no mother has he,” &c. &c. &c. Trifling as this recital may appear to the reader, to a person in my situation the circumstance was affecting in the highest degree; I was oppressed by such unexpected kindness, and sleep fled from my eyes. In the morning I presented my landlady with two of the four brass buttons which remained on my waistcoat, the only recompense I could make her.

corn.

Our own Ledyard, who possessed every qualification of a traveller of the highest order, thus speaks in praire of women :

"I have observed among all nations that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that wherever found, they are the same civil, kind, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not besitate, like man, to perform a hospitable or generous action ; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious, but full of courtesy, and ford of society: industrious, economical, ingenuous; more liable, in general, to err than man, but in general. also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed myrelf, in the language of decency and friendship. to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide-spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue, so worthy of the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in

Mr. Park had not travelled far in the exploration of the Niger, before the rainy season set in, and he felt compelled to return. His narrative is but little else than a repetition of the various sufferings and dangers and adventures he experienced on his way there, but only in a more aggravated form, in consequence of his more destitute condition, and from the inundation of the level country, compelling him frequently to wade for miles breast-deep in water. Once he was beset by banditti, who stripped him of almost every thing he had. The following is a portion of his account of this attack, and of the effect upon his spirits in seeing

THE MOSS IN THE DESERT. I accordingly rode past, and had with some difficulty crossed a deep rivulet, when I heard somebody holloa ; and looking back, saw those I took for elephant-hunters now running after me, and calling out to me to turn back. I stopped until they were all come up, when they informed me that the king of the Foulahs had sent them on purpose to bring me, my horse, and every thing that belonged to me, to Fooladoo, and that therefore I must turn back, and go along with them. Without hesitating a moment, I turned round and followed them, and we travelled together near a quarter of a mile without exchanging a word. When coming to a dark place of the wood, one of them said, in the Mandingo language, * This place will do,” and immediately snatched my hat from my head. Though I was by no means free of apprehension, yet I resolved to show as few signs of fear as possible, and therefore told them, unless my hat was returned to me, I should go no farther. But before I had time to receive an answer, another drew his knife, and seizing upon a metal button which remained upon my waistcoat, cut it off, and put in his pocket. Their intentions were now obvious, and I thought that the casier they were permitted to rob me of every thing, the less I had to fear. I therefore allowed them to search my pockets without resistance, and examine every part of my apparel, which they did with scrupulous exactness. But observing that I had one waistcoat under another, they insisted that I should cast them both off; and at last, to make sure work, stripped me quite naked. Even my half-boots (though the sole of one of them was tied to my foot with a broken bridle-rein) were narrowly inspected. Whilst they were examining the plunder, I begged them with great earnestness to return my pocket compass; but

« AnteriorContinuar »