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Mysore guards, the horrid, Black-hole-like dungeons in which each of the chained prisoners was placed, and the short allowance of food ; all these sufferings Wilson endured in common with others of his countrymen who had fallen into the power of IIyder. But to these miseries were added, in his case, the exhaustion produced by the exertions attending his attempt to escape, and the mental torture arising from the terrible disappointment consequent upon their failure. More even than this was to be endured from the arts and cruelties by which Ilyder sought to induce the prisoners to turn Mahommedans and enter his service. Whilst Wilson and his companions were on their painful march to Seringapatam, Hyder appeared, and made the most tempting offers to all who would renounce their country and deny their Saviour. A few of the prisoners were degraded enough to accept the rewards, and win the contempt of the prince by becoming traitors and blasphemers. Such is the common result of suffering on the coward heart : the brave who fear not death preserve the true dignity of life by a noble resistance to mean and dishonourable suggestions. Upon their refusal to accept the terms proposed by Ilyder, fresh severities followed, in the hope of crushing their spirit, and compelling a surrender of their loyalty and faith.
Before Wilson reached the end of this journey, the irons had cut through his flesh, and caused almost insupportable torture. Nor did his arrival at Seringapatam produce any alleviation, but rather increased the severity of his tortures. Fetters, thirty-two pounds in weight, were fixed on his emaciated body, as a punishment—he was told--for the attempt to escape.
He was kept fettered to a common soldier, one of his countrymen ; and so deficient was food, that he and his fellow-captives—one hundred and fifty-three in numbereagerly caught the white ants in the dungeon, and fried them for sustenance. There were no beds in the place; and the roof of their prison being open in places, they were exposed to the alternations of burning heat in the day and piercing winds at night. Under these circumstances, disease quickly broke out amongst the prisoners, and death soon removed the majority from the power and malice of Hyder. Wilson's condition was often that of companion to the dead ; for the soldier to whom he was fettered frequently died, and
he was forced to remain linked to the body till the guard severed the fetters which bound together the living and the dead. This happened several times during the twenty-two months of horror passed in this charnel-house. Disease also attacked him, and his limbs became fearfully and strangely distended. His fetters, too, were becoming too small for the swollen limbs, and mortification of the parts was apprehended, when the guards, thinking him at the point of death, loosened him from the irons and left him to die.
He was released from his cruel disease by what men call an accident. Some grain had been boiled by one of the captives, who commiserated Wilson's sufferings ; he having eaten the food, drank also the water in which it had been boiled ; and, to his surprise, all the effects of the most powerful medicines followed : the swollen body regained its form, and he was soon out of danger from disease ; his irons were refixed, but improved health enabled him to bear
under calamities which had crushed so many of his fellowcreatures.
In twenty-two months, one hundred and twenty-two out of a hundred and thirty-four had yielded to misery and disease ; and Wilson's preservation was deemed most extraordinary by all who could judge of the effects produced by such suffering on the human frame. At the end of that period, the tormentor of the prisoners, Hyder Ali, was no more : death, though busy in the dungeons of the Mysorean king, had not forgotten him, and the scourge of the Carnatic followed those whom he had tortured out of life. His son-in-law, Tippoo Saib, was, if possible, more of the tiger than Hyder ; but being compelled to make a short peace, released his prisoners from Seringapatam, who were received at that place by the Company's officer, Mr. Law, son of Bishop Law.
Now came the end of Wilson's adventures : the last two years of his life had brought him into close fellowship with those sufferings of which so many happily know but the reports, or see from a distance in the exhibitions of the drama or the impassioned scenes of poets. Tippoo was compelled to release all who were known to be in his power ; but a few unfortunate men were detained by this perfidious prince, some of whom were never more heard of, and others remained subject to his brutality till the storming of his capital
and his own destruction delivered them from Asiatic oppression. Captain Wilson was not, however, amongst thoso victims : he was released, but so worn and enfeebled that the first satisfying meal threw him into a violent fever. This was partly the result of his own imprudence in failing to regulate the amount of food taken after his liberation. A large piece of beef was given him ; and so morbid was his appetite, that after making a meal from one portion, he placed the other close to his pillow, that he might eat the moment he awoke. This seems like gluttony ; but we must remember the agonies which Wilson had felt from want of food ; and perhaps, in the morning, such cravings had been acutely experienced : thus the object in thus hoarding his food might be to prevent a recurrence of these agonies. The illness kept him for many days at the point of death ; but
he set out for Madras, where his haggard and wild appearance, added to his tattered and strangely mottled dress, gave him something the appearance of a madman ; and the soldiers on guard actually refused for some time to let him pass.
Не, , however, obtained admission, and passed along the crowded ways to the house of a friend named Ellis, whom he knew would gladly receive an exhausted countryman. He knocked at the door, which was opened by pompous-looking servants, to whom he gave his message for their master. These, disliking his wild look, were endeavouring to close the door against such a visitor ; but he rushed by them, and flung himself on a sofa, where he soon fell into a deep sleep. The servants deemed him mad, and therefore made no attempt to remove one whom their superstition taught them to regard as a favourite of heaven. In the mean time his friend returned home, and came to the side of the worn-out captain, who still slept on, undisturbed by the gathering numbers who flocked around him. His friends refrained from disturbing a sleep which might be of more use than any nourishment; and it was not till evening that Wilson awoke, amid the glare of chandeliers and the warm congratulations of numerous friends, whose kindness soon enabled him to regain lost strength, and prepare himself for future service.
He was subsequently engaged in the East Indian trade, and realized a large fortune, with which he came to England, and settled at Horndean, Hampshire. He had thus, at the age of thirty-six, passed through sufferings and escaped perils under which hundreds had sunk, and amassed an independence which he might reasonably hope would enable him to pass many years in the midst of
abundance, and happiness.
Wilson did not, however, thus spend his remaining years. Ile offered to conduct the missionary ship named the Duff, to the isles of the Pacific ; in the course of which voyage he discovered and named the Coral Islands, called Gambier's Group. These are fully mapped in the first volume of “ Captain Beechey's Voyage to the Pacific,” p. 181.
After this, he returned to England, married, and lived upon his fortune ; which, though reduced by heavy losses from loans to friends, enabled him to live secure from the dangers of sea or land, until the age of fifty-four, when he died, leaving a wife, son, and four daughters.
THE SUFFERINGS OF A FAMILY UNDER AN AVALANCIIE.
HE deep solitudes of Alpine regions are often
broken by strange convulsions. In summer the thunder is heard, and the lightnings seen below
the peasant's hut, which, sheltered in some nook of the high mountain-range, dreads not the tempest's wrath.
In midnight, it may be, these alarums of the elements are echoed from hill to hill with a sustained reverberation, which never reaches the ears of those who dwell in low countries. In winter, other sublime scenes fill the mind with awe and wonder—the former produced by the vast magnificence, the latter by the mysteriousness of nature. Mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests are then changed into icy halls and temples of the frost king. In the morning light the peasant sees the rainbow tints crowning with sunny glory the dazzling peaks of a mountain chain, or marks, under the bright and cold moonbeams, the far extended sea of ice.
In spring, fresh developments of power startle the tourist, and alarm the native. Then the snows of winter glide from their rest on the steep mountain, and descend with destructive fury on the vales below.
The village which some autumnal party of travellers sketched, with all its picturesque homes, for their portfolio's ornament, is buried in snow, and its grave formed in a moment by the avalanche. In the brightness of the merry days of spring, when wild flowers peep from their rocky nooks, and mountain-streams sparkle again, uttering a gladsome song, as