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  81


Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love,
And the warm effort of thy gentle heart,
Anxious to please.


The Infirmary.

HERE I was lodged comforta|bly, and had all the attention paid me, which good nurses and ignorant physi|cians could render. The former were men, who had made a vow of poverty, and whose profession was to attend the couches of the sick; the latter were more ignorant than those of my own country, who had amused me in the gayer days of life. They had no theory nor any system|atic practice; but it was immaterial to me. I had cast my last anxious thoughts upon Page  82 my dear native land, had blessed my af|fectionate parents, and was resigned to die.

One day as I was sunk upon my bed, after a violent fit of coughing, I was a|wakened from a doze, by a familiar voice, which accosted me in Latin. I opened my eyes and saw at my side, the Mol|lah, who attempted to destroy my faith. It immediately struck me that his purpose was to tempt me to apostatize in my last moments. The religion of my country was all I had left of the many blessings, I once enjoyed, in common with my fellow citizens. This rendered it doubly dear to me. Not that I was insensible of the excellence and verity of my faith; no. If I had been exposed to severer agonies than I suffered, and had been flattered with all the riches and honours, these infidels could bestow, I trust I should never have foregone that faith, which assured me for the mise|ries, I sustained in a cruel separation from Page  83 my parents, friends, and intolerable slave|ry, a rich compensation in that future world, where I should rejoin my beloved friends, and where sorrow, misery, or slavery, should never come. I judged uncandidly of the priest. He accosted me with the same gentleness, as when at the college, commiserated my deplorable situation, and, upon my expressing an a|version to talk upon religion, he assured me that he disdained taking any advan|tage of my weakness; nor would attempt to deprive me of the consolation of my faith, when he feared I had no time left to ground me in a better. He recom|mended me to the particular care of the religious, who attended the sick in the hos|pital; and, having learned in our former conferences that I was educated a phy|sician, he influenced his friend the direc|tor of the infirmary to purchase me, if I regained my health, and told him I would be serviceable, as a minor assistant. If Page  84 any man could have effected a change of my religion, it was this priest. I was charmed with the man, though I abom|inated his faith. His very smile exhiler|ated my spirits and infused health; and, when he repeated his visits, and communi|cated his plan of alleviating my distresses, the very idea, of being freed from the op|pressions of Abdel Melic, made an ex|change of slavery appear desirable. I was again attached to life, and requested him to procure a small quantity of the quinquina or jesuits bark. This excel|lent specific was unknown in the infirma|ry; but, as the Algerines are all fatalists, it is immaterial to the patient, who is his physician, and what he prescribes. By his kindness the bark was procured, and I made a decoction, as near to Huxham's, as the ingredients I could procure would admit, which I infused in wine; no bran|dy being allowed, even for the sick. In a few weeks, the diagnostics, were favoura|ble, Page  85 and I recovered my pristine health; and, soon after, the director of the hos|pital purchased me of my late master, and I was appointed to the care of the medi|cine room, with permission to go into the city for fresh supplies.