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  216

CHAP. XXXII.

Procul! O procul! este profani.

VIRGIL.
ARGUMENT.

The Author is blessed with the Sight and Touch of a most holy Mahometan Saint.

WHEN we were within one day's journey of Medina, we halted for a longer time than usual; occasioned, as I found, by the arrival of a most holy saint. As I had never seen a saint, be|ing bred, in a land, where even the re|lics of these holy men are not preserved, for I believe all New England cannot produce so much as a saint's rotten tooth or toe nail, I was solicitous to see and converse with this blessed personage. I soon discovered him, in the midst of a|bout fifty pilgrims, some of whom were devoutly touching their foreheads with Page  217 the hem of his garment, while others, still more devout, prostrated themselves on the ground, and kissed the prints of his footsteps in the sand. Though I was as|sured, that he was filled with divine love, and conferred felicity on all, who touched him; yet, to outward appearance, he was the most disgusting, contemptible object, I had ever seen. Figure to yourselves, my readers, a little decrepit, old man, made shorter by stooping, with a counte|nance, which exhibited a vacant stare, his head bald, his finger and toe nails as long as hawks' claws, his attire squalid, his face, neck, arms, and legs begrimed with dirt and swarming with vermin, and you will have some faint idea of this Mussulman saint. As I was too reasonable to expect that holiness existed in a man's exteriour, I waited to hear him speak; anticipating, from his lips, the profoundest wisdom, delivered in the honied accents of the saints in bliss. At length he spake; and Page  218 his speech betrayed him, a mere idiot. While this astonished me, it raised the respect of his admirers, who estimated his sanctity in an inverse ratio to the weak|ness of his intellects. If they could have ascertained, that he was born an idiot, I verily believe, they would have adored him; for the Mahometans are taught by their alcoran, that the souls of saints are often lodged in the bodies of idiots; and these pious souls, being so intent on the joys of paradise, is the true reason, that the actions of their bodies are so little suited to the manners of this world. This saint however did not aspire to the sanctity of a genuine idiot; though, I fancy, his modesty injured his prefer|ment, for he certainly had very fair pre|tensions. It was resolved, that the holy man should go with us; and, to my great mortification and disgust, he was mount|ed behind me on the same camel; my Mahometan friends probably conceiving, Page  219 that he would so far communicate his sanctity by contact, as that it might affect my conversion to their faith. Whatever were their motives, in the embraces of this nausseous being, with the people prostrat|ing themselves in reverence on each side, I made my entry into the city of Medina.