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The Scottish Nation
Park


PARK, MUNGO, an enterprising traveler, the third son and seventh child of a respectable farmer, was born at Fowlshiels, a farm on the estate of the duke of Buccleuch, near Selkirk, September 10, 1771. He received the rudiments of his education in his father’s family, and was afterwards sent to the grammar school of Selkirk, where he distinguished himself by his application and proficiency. He was originally intended for the church, but, preferring the medical profession, he was, at the age of fifteen, apprenticed to Mr. Thomas Anderson, a respectable surgeon in Selkirk, with whom he resided three years. In 1789 he removed to the university of Edinburgh, where for three successive sessions he attended the customary medical classes. His favourite study at this time was the science of botany, to prosecute his researches in which he made a tour through the Highlands with his brother-in-law. Mr. James Dickson, who had settled in London as a nurseryman and seedsman. On leaving college, Park repaired to London, and was introduced by Mr. Dickson to Sir Joseph Banks, by whose recommendation he obtained the appointment of assistant-surgeon to the Worcester, East Indiaman. In February 1792 he sailed for Bencoolen, in the island of Sumatra, where he collected a variety of specimens in natural history. He returned the following year, and, November 4, 1794, he communicated to the Linnaean Society a paper containing a description of eight new species of fishes from the waters of Sumatra, which was printed in the third volume of their Transactions. Soon after, at the suggestion of Sir Joseph Banks, he offered his services to the African Association, and engaged to go out on an expedition to the interior of Africa, for the purpose of exploring the source of the Niger. He sailed from Portsmouth, May 22, 1795, on board the Endeavour, an African trader, and reached Pisania, a British factory, about 200 miles up the Gambia, July 5. Here he remained five months, learning the Mandingo language, and collecting information as to the habits and customs of the countries in his route. He left Pisania in the 2d of the ensuing December, and reached Yarra, a frontier town of Ludamar, then governed by the chief of a predatory horde of nomade Moors, February 18, 1796. Ali, the Moorish chief, detained him a captive till July 1, when he made his escape. At this time he had been deprived by the Moors of every thing but a horse, with its accoutrements, a few articles of clothing, and a pocket-compass, which he had saved by concealing it in the sand. Undismayed by the hardships and dangers which surrounded him, he traveled on to the Joliba, or Niger, which he reached at Sego, after a journey of fifteen days. He explored the stream downwards to Silla, and upwards to Bammakoe, then crossed a mountainous country to Kamalia, a Mandingo town, which he reached September 16. Here, five hundred miles from the nearest European settlement, his health at length gave way, and for upwards of a month his strength and energies were entirely prostrated by a fever. After his recovery he was detained in the same place five months more before he obtained the means of journeying to the coast. At last, on June 10, 1797, he returned to Pisania, and was received by the British residents there “as one restored from the dead.”

After an absence from England of two years and seven months, Mr. Park arrived at Falmouth, December 22, 1797, and reached London on the morning of the 25th. An Abstract of his Expedition, drawn up by Mr. Bryan Edwards, secretary to the African Association, from materials furnished by Mr. Park, was immediately printed for the use of the members. In June 1798 Mr. Park went to reside at his mother’s house at Fowlshiels, where he spent the summer and autumn in preparing his volume of Travels. His simple but interesting narrative was published in 1799, with an Appendix, containing Geographical Illustrations of Africa, by Major Rennell; and, on its appearance, it was received with uncommon avidity, and has ever since continued a standard work.

Having resolved to settle in Scotland, Mr. Park married, August 2, 1799, a daughter of Mr. Anderson of Selkirk, with whom he had served his apprenticeship. In October 1801 he commenced practicing at Peebles as a surgeon. In the autumn of 1803 a proposal was made to him by Government, to undertake a second expedition to Africa; and, in December of that year, he quitted Scotland for London. Owing to changes in the ministry, however, and other unavoidable causes, the expedition was delayed till January 30, 1805, when, every thing being arranged, he once more left the shores of England for the deadly and inhospitable regions of Central Africa. He was empowered to enlist at Goree any number of the garrison under forty-five, and to draw for any sum not exceeding 5,000. From Goree he was directed to proceed up the river Gambia, and thence, crossing over to the Senegal, to travel by such routes as he should find most eligible to the banks of the Niger. In his first journey he had traced its easterly course, but he had not been able to follow it down to its mouth. His object now was to cross the country from the western coast, enter Bambara, construct two boars, and, embarking on the river, endeavour to reach the ocean.

On March 28 Mr. Park arrived at Goree, from whence he proceeded to Kayee, a small town on the Gambia, a little below Pisania, where he engaged a Mandingo priest named Isaaco, who was also a traveling merchant, to be his guide. Here he remained for some days arranging matters for the expedition, and here commences Mr. Park’s interesting Journal of his last mission, which includes regular memoranda of his progress and adventures to November 16 of the same year. On the morning of April 27 the expedition set out from Kayee. It consisted of Mr. Park himself, with the brevet commission of a captain in Africa, his brother-in-law, Mr. Alexander Anderson, surgeon, with a similar commission of lieutenant, and Mr. George Scott, draughtsman, five artificers from the Royal dock-yards, Isaaco the guide, and Lieutenant Martyn and thirty-five men of the Royal African corps, as their military escort. In two days they arrived at Pisania, which they quitted on May 4, and on the 11th reached Medina, the capital of the kingdom of Woolli. On the 15th they arrived at Kussai, on the banks of the Gambia, and about this time one of the soldiers died of epilepsy.

Park’s hopes of completing the objects of his mission in safety depended entirely on his reaching the Niger before the commencement of the rainy season, the effects of which are always fatal to Europeans. The half of his journey, however, had not been finished when the wet season set in, and, in a few days, twelve of the men were seriously ill, and others were soon affected in a greater or less degree by the climate. On the morning of June 13, when they departed from Dindikoo, the sick occupied all the horses and spare asses, and by the 15th some were delirious. On the 18th they arrived at Toniba, from whence they ascended the mountains south of that place; and, having attained the summit of the ridge which separates the Niger from the remote branches of the Senegal, Mr. Park had the satisfaction of once more seeing the Niger rolling its immense stream along the plains. But this pleasure was attended with the mortifying reflection, that, of the party that had set out with him from the coast, there survived only six soldiers and one carpenter, with Lieutenant Martyn, Mr. Anderson and the guide. Mr. Scott, the draughtsman, who had been left behind at Koomikoomi, on account of sickness, died without reaching the Niger. On August 21 Mr. Park and the few survivors embarked in a canoe, and on the 23d they arrived at Maraboo. Isaaco was immediately dispatched to Sego, the capital of Bambarra, to negotiate with Mansong, the sovereign, for permission and materials to build a boat for the purpose of proceeding down the Niger. Whilst waiting for his return Mr. Park was seized with a severe attack of dysentery, but, by the aid of medicine and a good constitution, he soon recovered. After many delays, Mansong sent a messenger to conduct the traveler towards Sego. The king and his chiefs were much gratified by the presents which they received from Mr. Park, who, on September 26, proceeded to Sansanding. It was with difficulty, however, that he procured from Mansong, in return for his presents, two old canoes, wherewith he constructed, with his own hands, and some assistance from one of the surviving soldiers, a flat-bottomed boat, to which he gave the title of his majesty’s schooner, the Joliba. In the meantime he was informed of the death of Mr. Scott, and he now had to lament the loss of his friend Mr. Anderson, who died, after a lingering illness, October 26. On November 16 every thing was ready for the voyage, and, during the succeeding days, previous to his embarkation, which was on the 19th, Mr. Park wrote several letters to his friends in Great Britain, with which Isaaco the guide was sent back to the British settlements on the Gambia.

Some time elapsed without any farther intelligence being received of Mr. Park and his companions; but in the course of 1806 various unfavourable reports became current regarding their fate. Information was brought down to the coast by the native traders from the interior of Africa, to the effect that Mr. Park and those with him had been killed during their progress down the river. Lieutenant-general Maxwell, the governor of Senegal, in consequence, engaged Isaaco, Mr. Park’s former guide, to proceed to the Niger, to ascertain the truth of these rumours, and in January 1810 he left Senegal on this mission. He returned on September 1, 1811, bringing a full confirmation of the reports of Mr. Park’s death; and delivered to the governor a Journal from Amadi Fatouma, the guide who had accompanied Park from Sansanding down the Niger, which, after being translated from Arabic into English, was transmitted by him to the secretary of state for the colonial department. From the information procured by Isaaco, it appeared that the expedition proceeded from Sansanding to Silla, whence Mr. Park, Lieutenant Martyn, three other white men, three slaves, and Amadi, as guide and interpreter, nine in number, sailed down the Niger; and in the course of their voyage were repeatedly attacked by the natives, whom they as often repulsed with much slaughter. At length having passed Kaffo and Gourmon, and supplied themselves with provisions, they entered the country of Haoussa. Park had delivered some presents to the chief of the Yaouri, a village in this district, to be transmitted to the king, who lived at a little distance. The chief, having learned that Park was not to return, treacherously appropriated them to himself, and sent a message to the king that the white man had departed without giving them any presents. At Yaouri, Amadi’s engagement with Park terminated, and on going to pay his respects to the king he was put in prison, and an armed force was sent to a village called Boussa, near the river side, to intercept Park’s progress. This force was posted on the top of a rock, which stretches across the whole breadth of the river, and in which there is a large cleft or opening through which the water flowed in a strong current. When Mr. Park arrived at this opening, and attempted to pass, he was attacked by the natives with lances, pikes, arrows, and stones. For some time he resolutely defended himself; but at length, overpowered by numbers and fatigue, and unable to keep the canoe against the current, he laid hold of one of the white men and jumped into the water. Lieutenant Martyn did the same, and they were drowned in the stream in attempting to escape. One slave was left, and they took him and the canoe, and carried them to the king. After having been kept in prison for three months, Amadi was released; and obtained information from the surviving slave, concerning the manner in which Mr. Park and his companions had died. Nothing was left in the canoe but a sword belt, of which the king had made a girth for his horse, and this belt Isaaco afterwards recovered. Captain Clapperton in his second Expedition received accounts confirming this statement, and visited the spot where the travelers perished. He was likewise told that the chief of Yaouri had some of Park’s papers, which he was willing to give up to him, if he would go to see him. The Landers also visited the place, and were shown by the chief one of Park’s books, which had fallen into his hands.

The portrait of Mungo Park is subjoined:


[portrait of Mungo Park]

Mr. park’s death is supposed to have taken place about four months after his departure from Sansanding. Of his enterprising spirit, indefatigable vigilance, calm fortitude, and unshaken perseverance, he has left permanent memorials in the Narrative of his Travels, and in his Journal and Correspondence, published in 1815, with his Life prefixed by Mr. Wishaw. His widow, who was left with three children, died in February 1840.

PARK, PATRIC, a sculptor of considerable genius, the son of Matthew Park, an eminent builder in Glasgow, who erected the new part of Hamilton palace, was born in Glasgow in 1808. He early evinced a decided taste for art, and studied at Rome for some years, as a pupil of Thorwaldsen. In 1834 he settled in London, and was much engaged in bust sculpture. At different periods he had a studio in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and latterly at Manchester. In 1851 he was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and was afterwards chosen an academician. He excelled principally in busts, and those of many eminent personages of his time were executed by him, among whom may be mentioned Thomas Campbell the poet, and General Sir Charles Napier. His fine bust of Napoleon III. was remarkable for its faithful likeness and beauty as a work of art. So also are his busts of the Duke of Cambridge and Mr. Layard, M.P. Another of his master-pieces is the “Scottish Lassie,” a beautiful head of a female in marble, an idealized likeness of his wife, belonging to the Royal Scottish Academy, which is placed in the National Gallery of Scotland at Edinburgh. His genius was peculiarly fitted for large open-air statues, but he was never employed in this the highest branch of the art. Perhaps his eccentric character and independent disposition interfered to prevent his being engaged in what was all his life the object of his great desire. He wrote well on Sculptural subjects, and in 1846, printed at Glasgow, for private circulation, A Letter to Archibald Alison, Esq., LL.D., sheriff of Lanarkshire, ‘On the Use of Drapery in Portrait Sculpture.’ He died at Warrington, Aug. 16, 1855. He had gone from Manchester to give a gentleman whose bust he was taking a sitting, and on his return to the station at Warrington, he perceived a porter endeavouring to carry a heavy trunk. Rushing forward to his assistance, in the attempt to lift it, the weight of the box caused him to burst a blood vessel. In the 28th Annual Report of the Royal Scottish Academy, dated Nov. 14 of that year, the Council thus alludes to his merits and decease:

“A vacancy has occurred in the list of academicians, by the premature and lamented death of their highly talented brother academician, Patric Park, Esq., sculptor, an event which occurred suddenly at Warrington, on the 16th August last. Mr. Park had, at the time of his decease, only attained the age of forty-four years, and being an enthusiastic student and lover of his profession, his works, especially his portrait busts – long distinguished by some of the highest qualities of his noble art, seemed every succeeding year to gain in strength and refinement, so that, had life been spared, many works of still higher excellence might have been looked for from his prolific studio. The Academy exhibitions, for a long series of years past, and none of them more strikingly than that of 1855, when his fine bust of the Emperor of the French occupied a place of honour, sufficiently attest the justice of this brief eulogium of the council, and justify their sorrow that, in the death of Patric Park, the Academy has lost one of its most talented members, and the department of sculpture, in which he more peculiarly excelled, one of its most eminent professors.”

He married a daughter of Robert Carruthers, Esq., Inverness, and had 4 sons and a daughter.


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