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believe in the particular interposition of Divine Providence should make use of it as an argument against the correctness of the other parts of his narrative; and admits, that previous to this signal mercy, he would himself have entertained a suspicion of the veracity of a writer who should have related such an improbable Occurrence; but, he adds, sentiments and feelings of a very different kind from any that mere worldly interest can excite, forbid me to suppress or deny what so clearly appeared to me and my companions at the time, as the immediate and merciful act of the Almighty listening to our prayers, and granting our petition, at the awful moment when dismay, despair and death were pressing close upon us with all their accumulated horrors.' If the fact be true, we see no reason why the opinion should be suppressed.
In this miserable boat, the eleven unfortunate beings resolved to stand out into the wide ocean, in the hope, faint as it was, of meeting with some friendly vessel to save them. The want of provisions and water, and the wretched condition of the boat, which racked like an old basket, letting in water at every seam and split,' and which required constant bailing, had, in the course of a few days, so exhausted the crew that they gave up, and became resigned or rather callous to their fate; their spirits were however a little revived by putting the boat about, and standing in again towards the land which they discovered on the sixth day. On approaching a small spot that bore the appearance of a sandy beach, they made for it, and were carried on the top of a tremendous wave, so as to be high and dry,' the surf foaming as it retired with a dreadful roaring over the craggy heads of the rocks lying in the very track they had passed. Their boat was now completely stove; their provisions all consumed; huge masses of rock were suspended over their heads, extending both ways as far as the eye could reach; their limbs were benumbed and quite stiff for want of exercise; their flesh was wasted for want of sustenance; and their tongues were so stiff in their parched mouths, that it was with great difficulty they could speak to each other. They clambered the rocks in vain to get access to the summit, and when it grew dark, they laid themselves down to rest and, notwithstanding their dreadful and hopeless situation, slept soundly till daylight.
The place where they now were, as it afterwards appeared, was Cape Barbas, not far from Cape Blanco, and that near which their ship had been wrecked, Cape Bojador, some distance to the northward. On one side of the narrow beach, was the roaring ocean; on the other, cliffs rising to the height of five or six hundred feet; in some places overhanging the narrow slip of sand, in others rising perpendicularly from it. Proceeding easterly, close to the water's edge, every now and then they had to clamber over ledges of rock
jutting into the sea, or huge fragments that had been undermined and tumbled down: their shoes were pearly worn out; their feet lacerated and bleeding; their bodies heated, nearly to desiccation, by the scorching rays of the sun; they were without water, without provisions, and almost without a breath of air; my tongue,' says Riley, cleaving to the roof of my mouth, until I was enabled to loosen it by a few drops of my more than a dozen times distilled
They advanced but four miles during the whole day, without any prospect of being able to ascend the cliffs; and halted at a piece of sand favourable for sleeping upon; all hands,' says Riley,
except myself, had a little fresh water left; my comrades knew I had not one drop, and two of them offered to let me taste of theirs, with which I just moistened my tongue; and after sending up our prayers to Heaven for mercy and relief in our forlorn and desolate condition, we laid ourselves down to sleep.'
On awaking, on the morning of the 9th September, they found that the chill air had benumbed their limbs; but the appearance of a wide sandy beach ahead, where by digging they might probably obtain water, instilled fresh hopes, and they made towards it; but a promontory of rocks jutting into the sea again impeded their progress; however with the utmost difficulty and danger, and at the expense of bruised limbs and bodies, they succeeded in passing this formidable barrier; but they found, on digging, that the water, which rose through the sand, was as salt as that of the ocean. The cliffs however were here less abrupt; and Riley, after a long search, discovered a path which brought him to the summit, where he hoped to find some vegetable substance that might help to allay their burning thirst, and some tree to shelter them from the scorching blaze of the sun; but his surprize and disappointment may be better imagined than expressed, when a wide expanse of uniform barrenness opened full before him, extending in every direction as far as the eye could reach. There was not a tree, nor a shrub, nor a blade of grass, to give the least show of animation to the vegetable kingdom:-he sickened at the sight,-his spirits fainted within him, he fell senseless to the earth, and for some time knew not where he was: 'despair (he says) now seized on me, and I resolved to cast myself into the sea as soon as I could reach it, and put an end to my life and miseries together.' At this moment the reflexion that so many fellow creatures looked up to him for an example of fortitude and resignation, and the recollection of his wife and children bursting upon his mind, roused him to fresh exertions; he walked down to the sea shore, and having bathed himself for half an hour, felt much refreshed, and rejoined his party. With heavy hearts and tottering limbs they left the beach, Riley having
in some measure prepared his companions in misfortune for the dismal prospect when they had surmounted the bank; but when they had actually surveyed the dry and dreary waste, stretching out to an immeasurable extent before their eyes, they exclaimed, Tis enough! here we must breathe our last; we have no hope before us of finding either water or provisions, or human beings, or even wild beasts; nothing can live here.' The greater part lay down with a determination to die on the spot; but by the assistance and persuasions of Hogan, Williams and Savage, they were induced to proceed along the edge of the cliffs, which were from five to six hundred feet in height; the surface of the ground was baked as hard as flint, being a reddish coloured earth covered with small rugged stones and gravel.
On the approach of evening the last ray of hope began to fade away, and the gloom of despair had taken possession of every heart, when Clark called out, A light!— it was the light of a fire.' This at once revived their spirits and diffused new life into all the crew; even certain slavery and probable death at the hand of human beings, now seemed preferable to a lingering death from hunger and thirst on the desolate and dreary Desert. Riley indeed observes that death had now no terrors; that his thirst had become so insupportable that he was willing to sell his life for a gill of fresh water-but though reduced to as miserable a state as human beings could exist in, and objects well calculated to excite pity, even in the breast of a savage Arab, he thought it more prudent to wait till morning, than alarm them with a night visit, which would probably be fatal to the whole party.
After an anxious and sleepless night, they all went forward towards the place where the light had been seen, and soon discovered a large drove of camels, and a company of Arabs busied in watering them; one man and two women ran towards them; the shipwrecked mariners bowed themselves to the ground with every mark of submission, and by signs implored their compassion; but the fellow, being armed with a naked scimitar, made as if he would cut them down, and, assisted by the women, began to strip off their clothing. Other Arabs speedily came up, yelling and throwing sand in the air, and the whole party was presently stripped naked to the skin. The Arabs now began to fight most furiously for the booty, and especially for getting possession of the prisoners.
They cut at each other over my head, and on every side of me, with their bright weapons, which fairly whizzed through the air within an inch of my naked body, and on every side of me, now hacking each other's arms apparently to the bone, then laying their ribs bare with gashes, while their heads, hands, and thighs received a full share of cuts and wounds. The blood, streaming from every gash, ran down their
bodies, colouring and heightening the natural hideousness of their appearance. I had expected to be cut to pieces in this dreadful affray, but was not injured.'-p. 66.
Riley and the black cook were delivered into the hands of two old women who urged them on with sticks towards the camels; they came to a well the water of which was nearly as black and disgusting as stale bilge water;' but a little sour camel's milk poured from a skin into it made it taste delicious, and we all drank of it till our stomachs were literally filled; but this washy and unwholesome swill infected the whole party, as might be expected, with a troublesome diarrhoea.'
The Arabs themselves had as little to eat as their prisoners; they consisted of about one hundred persons, men, women, and children; and their camels, large and small, from four to five hundred. They now separated into two parties; Mr. Williams, Robbins, Porter, Hogan, Barrett and Burns, mounted on the bare backs of the camels, behind the hump, going off with one party towards the Desert; Riley, Mr. Savage, Clark, Horace, and Dick the black cook remaining with the other. The skins being filled with this nauseous water, and the baskets tied on, in which the women and children were placed, the latter party also began to mount the sand hills up the gully, but the prisoners were obliged to drive the camels on foot, naked as they were, in a scorching sun, sinking to the knee at every step, or the sharp craggy rocks cutting their naked feet; and if they attempted to stop, they were forced on by the application of a stick to their sore backs by their unfeeling drivers, who only laughed at their misery and amused themselves by whipping them forward.
On arriving at the summit they selected five camels which these unfortunate men were ordered to mount. They had no saddles, but were placed behind the humps, to which they were obliged to cling by grasping the long hair with both hands. The back bone,' says Riley, was only covered with skin, and as sharp as the edge of an oar's blade; as steep as the roof of a house, and so broad as to keep the legs extended to their utmost stretch.' The Arabs had small round saddles. Thus mounted, the whole party set off to the westward* at a great trot. The heavy motions of the camel are described as not unlike that of a small vessel tossed by a head-sea, and so violent that they excoriated the lower part of their naked bodies; the inside of my thighs and legs were also dreadfully chafed, so that the blood dripped from my heels, while the intense heat of the sun had scorched and blistered our bodies and the out
* He means eastward. It is a singular circumstance, and to us wholly inexplicable, that the opposite point of the compass is almost invariably printed for the real direction in which they travelled.
side of our legs, so that we were covered with sores, and without any thing to administer relief.'
The direction in which they proceeded was about south-east, over a plain, flat, hard surface of sand, gravel, and rock, covered with small sharp stones. When night came on there was no indication of stopping; still they proceeded, and the cold night wind chilled the blood and stopped it from trickling down their lacerated legs; they begged permission to get off, and endeavoured to excite the compassion of the women under whose charge they were left, entreating them for a little water; but these hags paid no attention to their distress, and kept the camels running faster than before. Riley then purposely slipped off his camel at the risk of breaking
This was the first time I had attempted to walk barefoot since I was a schoolboy; we were obliged to keep up with the camels, running over the stones, which were nearly as sharp as gun-flints, and cutting our feet to the bone at every step. It was here that my fortitude and philosophy failed to support me; I cursed my fate aloud, and wished I had rushed into the sea before I gave myself up to these merciless beings in human forms-it was now too late. I would have put an immediate end to my existence, but had neither knife nor any other weapon with which to perform the deed. tending, if I could find a loose one sufficiently large, to knock out my I searched for a stone, inown brains with it; but searched in vain. This paroxysm passed off in a minute or two, when reason returned, and I recollected that my life was in the hand of the Power that gave it, and " that the Judge of all the earth would do right.' "—p. 74.
From this time, Riley observes, in all his future trials and sufferings, he never once murmured, but determined to keep up spirits, and, by precept and practice, endeavoured to persuade his his unhappy comrades to do the same. in a small dell or valley from fifteen to twenty feet below the surAbout midnight they halted face of the Desert, after travelling, as he thinks, about forty miles. Here, for the first time, they got about a pint of pure camel's milk each, which, he says, warmed our stomachs, quenched our thirst in some measure, and allayed, in a great degree, the cravings of hunger.' The wind was chilling cold; they lay on sharp stones, perfectly naked, their bodies blistered and mangled; the stones piercing their naked flesh to the ribs-these distressing sufferings, added to their sad desponding reflections that would obtrude themselves, rendered the night long and dismal, and none of them closed their
On the morning of the 11th, a pint of milk was divided among four, being just enough to wet their mouths. The condition of their feet was horrible beyond description, the very recollection of it, even at this moment,' says our author, ' makes my nerves thrill and