The Gentleman Savage: A Life of Mansfield Parkyns by Duncan Cumming - review by William Hamilton-Dalrymple

William Hamilton-Dalrymple

The Sweet Name of Parkyns

The Gentleman Savage: A Life of Mansfield Parkyns

By

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In the early summer of 1845 three undergraduates from Trinity College, Cambridge stood outside a gin shop in Khartoum. They had arrived after a five hundred mile journey by camel across the desert from Aswan, directed there in order to meet another Englishman. One of them described the scene: ‘We knocked and walked in. There in front of us was the most magnificent physique of a man I have ever seen, half dressed in Arnaout costume, looking quite wild. He introduced us to the greatest scoundrels that I think could be found anywhere in a room, men too rascally for the Levant or even Cairo – slave dealers, outlaws and I know not what else.’

It was only gradually, and no doubt with a certain disappointment that they realised the man was a contemporary of theirs from Trinity, a rather anonymous fellow called Mansfield Parkyns. They had not seen him since his first year when he was sent down, perhaps unjustly, for painting and dressing

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