Thursday, February 23, 2017

School Library – Part B - Rambling Recollection of my Schools and School Days

Article XVI written by Alexander Gunn was published in the Northern Ensign on 29 September 1881 – Part B

“The little library also contained the voyage of Captain Cook round the world, his discovery of New Zealand, and his death by the treacherous and cruel natives."

Captain Cook by John Webber, 1776, Museum of New Zealand, Wellington.

"The story of “Robinson Crusoe” was a great favourite with us, as was also “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp,” "The Wandering Jew,” and the interesting narrative of Mungo Park’s travels on the Niger."

Aladdin in the Magic Garden – Project Gutenberg

Sue, Wandering Jew
"One of the incidents of Park’s travels is so touching, that I …

way I turned nothing appeared but danger and difficulty. I saw myself in the midst of a vast wilderness in the depth of the rainy season, naked and alone, surrounded by savage animals and men still more savage. I was five hundred miles from the nearest European settlement. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small moss in fructification irresistibly caught my eye. I mention this to show what trifling circumstances the mind will sometimes derive consolation from, for though the plant was not larger than the tip of one of my fingers, I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves and capsule without admiration. Can the Being, thought I, who planted, watered, and brought to perfection in this obscure part of the world a thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the situation and suffering of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not. I started up, and disregarding both hunger and fatigue, travelled forward, assured that relief was at hand, and I was not disappointed.” He reached a hut where he got shelter, and where the woman of the house composed a song to the weary traveller, in which she said that the poor white man had not a mother to grind his corn. Park died a martyr for the good of his country, as other brave and self-denying men have done, including the brave and the good David Livingston. These bore the burden and the heat of the day, and others reap the benefits of their labours. The following lines express the substance of the foregoing:-
Sad, faint, and weary on the sand,
Our traveller sat him down; his hand
Covering his burning head.
Alone – beneath, behind, around,
No resting fir the eye he found –
All nature seemed as dead.
One tiny tuft of moss alone,
Mounting with freshest green a stone,
Fixed his delighted gaze;
Through trusting tears of joy he smiled,
And while he raised the tendril wild
His lips o’erflowed with praise.

(To be continued.)

A Native of Badbea

My Comments:

Between 1768 and 1799 Captain James Cook did three main voyages of exploration in the Pacific and died in Hawaii in 1779.

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe first published in 1719. Crusoe is a castaway who spends 27 years on a remote tropical desert island near Trinidad encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers before being rescued.

Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp is a Middle Eastern folk tale. It was first published in Les Mille et Une Nuit, Contes Arabes (12 Volumes),1704-1717 by Frenchman Antoine Galland who heard it from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo. The first edition of ‘Arabian Nights Entertainments’ in English, based on Galland, was published by Andrew Bell, London in 1706 – 17 in 12 volumes. The Story of Aladdin: Or,The Wonderful Lamp was published in Vol 9.
Aladin illustration pg 1 Robida version

The Wandering Jew. The Wandering Jew (French: le Juif Errant) is an 1844 novel by the French writer Eugene Sue. Gunn must have had access to the circulating library after he had left school as this book was published in 1844 when Gunn was in his 20s.

Mungo Park
Mungo Park (1771 – 1806) was a Scottish explorer of West Africa. He was the first Westerner known to have travelled to the central part of the Niger River. His account of his travels is still in print.

View of Kamalia in Mandingo country, Africa, from Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa
According to Wikipedia: 

Park’s book Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa was a success because it detailed what he observed, what he survived, and the people he encountered. His honest descriptions set a standard for future travel writers to follow. This gave Europeans a glimpse of what Africa was really like. Park introduced them to a vast, unexplored continent. After his death public and political interest in Africa began to increase. He had proved that Africa could be explored.

The poem above was written about Mungo Park’s experience by a fellow Scotsman named Robert Murray M’Cheyne. It is titled “On Mungo Park Finding a Tuft of Green Moss in the African Desert”