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#117987 - 12/19/03 03:54 PM Mungo Park
"I am afraid," said the Bowery boy, smilingly, "that at some time you have been enticed into one of the dives of literature and had the counterfeit coin of the Bowery passed upon you. The 'argot' to which you doubtless refer was the invention of certain of your literary 'dis- coverers' who invaded the unknown wilds below Third avenue and put strange sounds into the mouths of the inhabitants. Safe in their homes far to the north and west, the credulous readers who were beguiled by this new 'dialect' perused and believed. Like Marco Polo and Mungo Park -- pioneers indeed, but ambitious souls who could not draw the line of demarcation between dis- covery and invention -- the literary bones of these explorers are dotting the trackless wastes of the sub- way. While it is true that after the publication of the mythical language attributed to the dwellers along the Bowery certain of its pat phrases and apt metaphors were adopted and, to a limited extent, used in this locality, it was because our people are prompt in assimilating whatever is to their commercial advantage. To the tourists who visited our newly discovered clime, and who expected a realization of their literary guide books, they supplied the demands of the market.
Born: 1771, Foulshiels, Selkirk, Scotland
Died: 1806, Bussa Rapids, (now under the Kainji Reservior, Nigeria)
Mungo Park, a Scottish surgeon and explorer, was sent out by the 'Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior of Africa' to discover the course of the River Niger. Having achieved a degree of fame from his first trip, carried out alone and on foot, he returned to Africa with a party of 40 Europeans, all of whom lost their lives in the adventure.
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