The Algerine captive; or, The life and adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: six years a prisoner among the Algerines. [Three lines from Shakespeare] : Vol. I[-II]. : Published according to act of Congress.
Tyler, Royall, 1757-1826., Humphreys, David, 1752-1818, dedicatee.
Page  74


O beasts of pity void! to oppress the weak,
To point your vengeance at the friendless head.


The Author present at a Public Specta|cle.

WE were soon paraded and marched to the plain, to be amused with the promised spectacle, which, notwith|standing it might probably frustrate my attempts for freedom, I anticipated with a pleasing curiosity. When we arrived at the plain, we found, surrounding a spot, fenced in with a slight railing, a large concourse of people, among whom I could discern many groups of men, whose hab|its and sorrow indented faces shewed them to be of the same miserable order with us. In the midst of this spot there was a frame Page  75 erected, somewhat resembling the stage of our pillories; on the centre of which a pole or strong stake was erected, sharpened at the end and pointed with steel. While I was perplexing myself with the design of this apparatus, military music was heard at a distance; and soon after a strong party of guards approached the scaffold, and soon mounted upon the stage a mis|erable wretch, with all the agonies of de|spair in his countenance, who I learned from his sentence, proclaimed by a pub|lic crier, was to be impailed alive for at|tempting to escape from bondage. The consciousness that I had been, one mo|ment before, meditating the same act, for which this wretch was to suffer so cruel|ly, added to my feelings for a fellow crea|ture, excited so strong a sympathy for the devoted wretch, that I was near faint|ing.

I will not wound the sensibility of my humane fellow citizens, by a minute de|tail Page  76 of this fiend like punishment. Suf|fice it to say that, after they had stripped the sufferer naked, except a cloth around the loins, they inserted the iron pointed stake into the lower termination of the vertebrae, and thence forced it up near his back bone, until it appeared between his shoulders; with devilish ingenuity contriv|ing to avoid the vital parts. The stake was then raised into the air, and the suf|fering wretch exposed to the view of the assembly, writhing in all the contortions of insupportable agony. How long he lived, I cannot tell, I never gave but one look at him: one was enough to appal a New England heart. I laid my head on the rails, until we retired. It was now obvious,▪ it was designed by our master, that this horrid spectacle should operate upon us as a terrifying example. It had its full effect on me. I thought no more of attempting an escape; but, during our return, was miserably tor|mented Page  77 least my knapsack and provisions should be found and adduced against me, as evidence of my intent to desert. Hap|pily for me, I recovered them the next day, and no suspicions of my design were entertained