페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Copy of the Dying Declaration of Richard Parker. *

June 25th, 1797. * Dear Sir,-In my awful situation, I have great consolation to find that I still possess your esteem and merit your commiseration. Heaven grant you may long outlive the painful recollection of my unfortunate fate ! A little while and I must depart from this world, and for ever close my eyes upon its vanity, deceitfulness, and ingratitude. My passage through it has been short but chequered ;-my departure from it will be extremely boisterous, but I seriously assure you, upon my part, by no means unwilling. The only comfortable reflection which I at present enjoy, is, that I am to die a martyr in the cause of humanity. I know the multitude think hard things of me, but this gives me no uneasiness, for my conscience testifies that the part which I have acted amongst the seamen has been right, although not to be justified by prudence. The latter consideration is the only compunction which I feel, under my doleful calamity : yes! prudence urges that I ought to have known mankind better than blindfold to have plunged into certain destruction.

• Long since I had learnt that the miseries under which the lower classes groan are imputable in a great measure to their ignorance, cowardice, and duplicity; and that nothing short of a miracle could ever afford them any relief. This experience, prudence too late teaches me, should have been my guard against that fatal error which forfeits my life. However severe this reflection, still I preserve my fortitude, and I am enabled to do this, by considering that, as a human being, I stand subject to human passions, the noblest of which is a tender sensibility at every species of human woe : thus influenced, how could I indifferently stand by, and behold some of the best of my fellow-creatures cruelly treated by some of the very worst? I candidly confess I could not; and because I could not, fate consigns me to be a victim to the tenderest emotions of the human heart. Upon the word of a dying man, I solemnly declare, that I was not an original mover of the disturbances amongst those men who have treated me so very ungratefully. Also, that I was elected by my shipmates their delegate, wilhout my knowledge, and in the same manner, by the delegates, their president. I was compelled to accept those situations much against my inclination, by those who pushed me into them; and I did by no means attain them in the manner which has been scandalously reported, by persons who are purposely prejudiced or ignorant of the matter. It is well known what authority the seamen had over their delegates, and in what ferocious manner the delegates were frequently treated, for not according with every wild scheme which the sailors proposed to carry into practice. I further declare, that from the aggregate body originated every plan, and that during the time the delegates held their perilous situations, they always acted pursuant to, and obeyed the instructions of their constituents. How I and my unfortunate colleagues have been rewarded for our fidelity in The italics in this letter are Parker's own.

thus treatment

thus acting, those who have any sense of moral obligation will easily determine. The only instances in which the delegates acted of themselves, were in those of checking the violence and turpitude of their masters ; and this, God knows, we had hard work to do: but considering all circumstances, those who know anything of sailors will readily allow that we preserved much better order than could reasonably have been expected upon such an occasion. For not according with the preposterous ideas of the seamen, I and many more must suffer death. Had we been as decidedly violent as they were, we need not have died like dogs : for all the force which could have been mus. tered would not have availed, and necessity would have obliged a compliance to our demands. Owing to the delegates' moderation, they have been overcome, and for my own part I cheerfully forgive the vanquishers, for the bloody use they intend to make of their victory: perhaps it is policy in them to do it. From the first moment that I understood the kindness which the delegates were to experience from their employers, I was prepared for the sacrifice; and may Heaven grant that I may be the last victim offered up in the cause of a treacherous and debased commonalty !

• Many will ask, how an insignificant man like myself could merit the confidence of the multitude, so far as to induce them to thrust him forward upon such an occasion ? If such inquirers will for a moment reflect, that in a popular commotion, any person who has the misfortune to be in repute for a trifling share of ability is liable to be forced into action, though much against his will, their inquiry will easily be solved, and this was precisely my case. Others will say, how could a man of his information be so indiscreet ? Tell such, that Richard Parker, in his last moments, was pierced to the bottom of his soul with asking himself the same question: that he ingenuously owned he was indiscreet, but that it was, as he thought, from laudable motives. At the pressing application of my brother shipmates, I suffered humanity to surmount reason, and I hope my life is a sufficient atonement for my folly. I am the devoted scapegoat for the sins of many; and henceforth, when the oppressed groan under the stripes of the oppressors, let my example deter any man from risking himself as the victim to ameliorate their wretchedness. Having said thus much of my concerns with the seamen, I shall now take the liberty to offer my friend some advice; it is the result of dear-bought experience, and I hope he will profit by it. Remember never to make yourself the busybody of the lower classes, for they are cowardly, selfish, and ungrateful: the least trifle will intimidate them; and him whom they have exalted one moment as their demagogue, the next they will not scruple to exalt upon the gallows. I own that it is with pain I make such a remark to you, but truth demands it: I have experimentally proved it, and very soon am to be made the erample of it. There is nothing new in my treatment : compare it with the treatment of most of the advocates for the improvement of the condition of the multitude in all ages: nay, with reverence I write it, with the

ness.

treatment of Jesus Christ himself, when on earth,—and then declare, whether or not my advice is to be regarded.

. It is my opinion, that if government had not been too hasty, the Portsmouth mutiny would have been as readily overcome as that at Sheer

A very trifling forbearance on their part would have occasioned the Portsmouth delegates to have been delivered up like those at Sheerness, to have settled all the accounts; this is not mere supposition, but founded upon facts, though not generally known. The mutineers have been accused of disloyalty, but it is a false accusation,-they were only so to their ill-fated tools the delegates. Both army and navy are, in my opinion, loyal ; and setting aside the liberties which they have lately taken with their superiors, were attached to the ruling powers, The ignorant and the violent will call me a criminal ; but when it is remembered what were the demands I made for my unprincipled employers, I know the discreet part of mankind will acquit me of criminality. I have reason to think the civil power would have acquitted me ; but by the articles of war my destruction was irremediable, and of this government was well aware, or I should not have been tried by a court-martial. By the laws of war I acknowledge myself to be legally convicted, but by the laws of humanity (which should be the basis of all laws) I die illegally. My judges were respectable, but not totally disinterested, for one of the demands had for its tendency the abridgment of their emoluments in prize-money. Now, my dear friend, I take

my
leave of

you,
and

may Providence amply return every kindness I have received from your hands! Oh! pray for me, that in the last scene I may act my part like a man, and that when I am on the point of being offered up, I may be inspired with charity sufficient to forgive those for whom I am sacrificed. The moment my body is suspended, the spectators will behold a wretch who is exposed as an example of his own frailty, and of the disgrace and dishonour of those men for whom I meet so ignominious a death. Parting with life is no more than going to sleep; and God in his mercy grant I may sleep sweetly after my worldly toils, through the merits of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! Amen.

Adieu, eternally adieu !
From your dying friend,

RICHARD PARKER.' There are many things in this striking letter on which we could have wished to comment a little; but we believe, on the whole, we may as well leave it to speak for itself. It will, at least, repay our readers for the disgust with which they must have considered our extracts from the mutinous parts of · The Port-Admiral;' perhaps it may read a lesson to the author of that scandalous production himself.

ART, Art. VIII.-). The Adventures of Hatim Tuï, a Romance.

Translated from the Persian. By Duncan Forbes, A.M. 410. pp. 214. London,

1830. 2. Customs and Manners of the Women of Persia, and their

Domestic Superstitions. Translated from the original Persian Manuscript." By James Atkinson, Esq. of the Honourable East India Company's Bengal Medical Service. Svo. pp. 93.

London. 1832. THERE is no use whatever in our sitting down to read the ad

ventures of Hatim Taï, unless we first revive in our souls the rainbow-hues of early youth, and recall that inexperienced ardour which prompted us easily to believe in the mystic potency of talismans, and in the obedience rendered to them by genii of earth and air and ocean.

We must again believe, as we then believed, that the imagination has a real living world of its own, far apart from this laud of spinning-jennies and rail-roads—a fairy region where palaces of gold, provided with every luxury that can regale the sense, greet the wearied traveller just at the moment he is about to sink upon the parched desert from exhaustion—where diamonds as large as ostrich eggs, and emeralds of the purest green, are trodden

upon at every step we advance--and lakes of limpid water spread before us, on which boats with self-expanding sails are most conveniently waiting to waft us from island to island. Nor are we to be surprised if, now and then, when we have lost our way in some gloomy forest, a humane lion or a gentle bear should shake us by the hand, and entertain us with right learned and edifying discourse, while, from his superior knowledge of the country, he conducts us in safety to the cavern in the mountain of which we happen to be in search. Neither are we to look upon the circumstance as otherwise than perfectly natural and auspicious, if, while gliding over the smooth sea, the tenants of the deep, albeit unused to the vocal mood, favour us with a ravishing melody, timed to the music of myriads of shells struck by invisible hands in the azure depths beneath.

A grave and argumentative treatise might be written on the question, whether the more civilized of mankind have in fact gained any accession to their happiness, by permitting the increase of exact knowledge to limit the free range of the imagination. Agriculture may probably be improved by the multiplication of enclosure bills; but the sports of the village, and, in some instances, the beauty of the landscape, are sad sufferers from this species of parliamentary interposition. Sir David Brewster has, with impious hand,' attempted to destroy all the mysteries of our little planet by showing that magic is, in truth, nothing more than nature unexplained. We have the consolation of believing that

the

the Sicilians, at least, have not yet read his book, and that they may go on for centuries to come in beholding, as supernatural wonders, the palaces, and towers, the green valleys with herds and flocks reposing in the shade, and the hosts of armed men on foot and on horseback, that sometimes suddenly appear to occupy

the sea between them and the fair shores of Italy. We doubt if we should exchange for the cold philosophy of the Scotchman the feelings of astonishment and awe that must have excited the simple Cumberlander beyond himself, when he beheld with his corporeal eye the shadowy huntsman and his dog pursuing their wild chace of horses along Souterfell side ; and still more when he, and all his neighbours too, saw countless troops of horsemen traversing the same perilous steeps. We venture to say that Daniel Stricket would not have been a whit the happier, if he had been told that these strange spectacles were referrible only to the refractory tricks of the atmosphere.

When we choose to be merely rational, and to wander in the groves of the academy, we can experience a sensible delight in solving a difficult problem of mathematics. But this species of pleasure is but as a single ray of light compared with the glorious sunshine which cheered the mind, when first we accompanied Aladdin through the wondrous regions that were opened to him by his enchanted lamp. Even now the visions of early days come crowding upon the fancy whenever we chance to meet with the name of Haroun Alraschid. We resume our acquaintance with him as with a long-lost friend, whom we had known as a beloved member of our family circle—we feel towards him as if he had been a part of our own history, and as if we had dwelt beneath bis patriarchal rule in the charmed city of Bagdad.

Had we been somewhat sooner acquainted with Hatim Taï, we sliould doubtless have held him also in considerable estimation. In Persia, Hindostan, and Arabia, his memory is quite as popular as that of the caliph, and his adventures are read with universal admiration. In our sunless climate they will be deemed marvellous in the extreme; but that very attribute ought to be looked upon as their greatest attraction, next to the indefatigable benevolence which they uniformly display.

Hatim Taï flourished in the latter half of the sixth century of the Christian æra, as the acknowledged chieftain of some thousands of his own tribe, who dwelt in Yemen, or Arabia Felix. According to an Arabian authority of the twelfth century, he was liberal, brave, wise, and victorious : when he fought, he conquered ; when he plundered, he carried off; when he was asked, he gave; when he shot his arrow, he hit the mark; and whomsoever he took captive, he liberated. Such a man would VOL. XLIX. NO, XCVIII.

2 M

have

« 이전계속 »