At all events it may be considered, that the obscure knowledge, which we possessed of the peninsular figure of Africa, appears to have been derived from the Phoenicians. Herodotus, however, was himself a traveller, in those early times, of no mean celebrity. Despairing of obtaining accurate information of the then known part of the habitable world, he determined to have recourse to travelling, for the purpose of completing those surveys, which had been undertaken by his predecessors, and which had been left in a dubious and indefinite state. He resided for a considerable period in Egypt, during which, he entered into a friendly communion with the native priests, from whom he obtained much accurate information, as well as a great deal that was false and exaggerated relative to the extensive region, which extends from the Nile to the Atlantic. According to his description it is much inferior in fertility to the cultivated parts of Europe and Asia, and suffering extremely from severe drought; yet he makes mention of a few spots, such as Cinyps, and the high tract Cyrene, which, undergoing the process of irrigation, may stand comparison with the richest portions of the globe. Generally, however, in quitting the northern coast, which he terms significantly the forehead of Africa, the country became more and more arid. Hills of salt arose, out of which the natives constructed their houses, without any fear of their melting beneath a shower in a region where rain was unknown. The land became almost a desert, and was filled with such multitudes of wild beasts, as to be considered their proper inheritance, and scarcely disputed with them by the human race. Farther to the south, the soil no longer afforded food even to these wild tenants; there was not a trunk of a tree, nor a drop of water—total silence and desolation reigned.
This may be considered as the first picture on record of the northern part of Africa; a country, which, even after the lapse of two thousand years, presents to the eye of science, as regards its interior recesses, a blank in geography, a physical and not less a moral problem; a dark and bewildering mystery. The spirit of enterprise has carried our mariners to the arctic seas, braving the most appalling dangers in the solution of a great geographical problem; by the same power, civilization has been carried into the primeval forests of the American continent, and cities have arisen in the very heart of the Andes. The interior of Africa, however, notwithstanding its navigable rivers, has been hitherto almost a sealed chapter in the history of the globe. The deserts, which extend from Egypt to the Atlantic, and which cover a great surface of the interior, have proved a barrier to the march of conquest, or civilization; and whatever science has gained, has been wrested by the utmost efforts of human perseverance and the continual sacrifice of human life.
It must, however, be allowed that there are obstacles existing to the knowledge and the civilization of central Africa, which cannot be overcome by the confederated power of human genius. Extending 5000 miles in length, and nearly the same extent in breadth, it presents an area, according to Malte Brun, of 13,430,000 square miles, unbroken by any estuary, or inland sea, and intersected by a few long or easily navigable rivers; all its known chains of mountains are of moderate height, rising in terraces, down which the waters find their way in cataracts, not through deep ravines and fertile valleys. Owing to this configuration, its high table lands are without streams, a phenomenon unknown in any other part of the world; while, in the lower countries, the rivers, when swelled with the rains, spread into floods and periodical lakes, or lose themselves in marshes. According to this view of the probable structure of the unknown interior, it appears as one immense flat mountain, rising on all sides from the sea by terraces; an opinion favoured by the absence of those narrow pointed promontories, in which other continents terminate, and of those long chains of islands, which are, in fact, submarine prolongations of mountain chains extending across the main land. It is, however, not impossible, that in the centre of Africa, there may be lofty table lands like those of Quito, or valleys like that of Cashmeer, where, as in those happy regions, spring holds a perpetual reign.
In regard to the population, as well as its geographical character, Africa naturally divides itself into two great portions, north and south of the mountains of Kong and the Jebel el Komar, which give rise to the waters of the Senegal, the Niger and the Nile. To the north of this line, Africa is ruled, and partially occupied by foreign races, who have taken possession of all the fertile districts, and driven the aboriginal population into the mountains and deserts of the interior. It is consistent with general experience, that in proportion as civilization extends itself, the aboriginal race of the natives become either extinct, or are driven farther and farther into the interior, where they in time are lost and swept from the catalogue of the human race.
South of this line, we find Africa entirely peopled with the Negro race, who alone seem capable of sustaining the fiery climate, by means of a redundant physical energy scarcely compatible with the full development of the intellectual powers of man. Central Africa is a region distinguished from all others, by its productions and climate, by the simplicity and yet barbarian magnificence of its states; by the mildness and yet diabolical ferocity of its inhabitants, and peculiarly by the darker nature of its superstitions, and its magical rites, which have struck with awe strangers in all ages, and which present something inexplicable and even appalling to enlightened Europeans; the evil principle here seems to reign with less of limitation, and in recesses inaccessible to white men, still to enchant and delude the natives. The common and characteristic mark of their superstition, is the system of Fetiches, by which an individual appropriates to himself some casual object as divine, and which, with respect to himself, by this process, becomes deified, and exercises a peculiar fatality over his fortune. The barbarism of Africa, may be attributed in part its great fertility, which enables its inhabitants to live without are but chiefly to its imperviousness to strangers. Every petty state is so surrounded with natural barriers, that it is isolated from the rest, and though it may be overrun and wasted, and part of its inhabitants carried into captivity, it has never been made to form a constituent part of one large consolidated empire and thus smaller states become dependent, without being incorporated. The whole region is still more inaccessible on a grand scale, than the petty states are in miniature; and while the rest of the earth has become common, from the frequency of visitors, Africa still retains part of the mystery, which hung over the primitive and untrodden world.
Passing over the attempts of the very early travellers to become acquainted with the geographical portion of Africa, in which much fiction, and little truth, were blended, we arrive at that period, when the spirit of discovery began to manifest itself amongst some of the European states. The darkness and lethargy, which characterised the middle ages, had cast their baneful influence over every project, which had discovery for its aim, and even the invaluable discovery of the mariner's compass, which took place at the commencement of the thirteenth century, and which opened to man the dominion of the sea, and put him in full possession of the earth had little immediate effect in emboldening navigators to venture into unfrequented seas. At a somewhat earlier period, it is true, the Hanse Towns and the Italian republics began to cultivate manufactures and commerce, and to lay the foundation of a still higher prosperity, but they carried on chiefly an inland or coasting trade. The naval efforts, even of Venice or Genoa, had no further aim than to bring from Alexandria, and the shores of the Black Sea, the commodities of India, which had been conveyed thither chiefly by caravans over land. Satisfied with the wealth and power, to which they had been raised by this local and limited commerce, these celebrated republics made an attempt to open a more extended path over the ocean. Their pilots, indeed, guided most of the vessels engaged in the early voyages of discovery, but they were employed, and the means furnished, by the great monarchs, whose ports were situated upon the shores of the Atlantic.
The first appearance of a bolder spirit, in which the human mind began to make a grand movement in every direction, in religion, science, freedom, and liberty, may be dated from about the end of the fifteenth century. The glory of leading the way in this new career, was reserved for Portugal, then one of the smallest, and least powerful of the European kingdoms.
When in 1412, John I. sent forth a few vessels, to explore the western shores of Africa, while he prepared a great armament to attack the moors of Barbary, the art of navigation was still very imperfect, nor had the Portuguese ever ventured to sail beyond Cape Non. But what most powerfully contributed to give impulse and direction to the national ardour, was the enlightened enthusiasm, with which prince Henry of Portugal, a younger son of John I., espoused the interests of science, and the prosecution of nautical discovery. In order to pursue his splendid projects without interruption, he fixed his residence at Sagres, near Cape St. Vincent, where the prospect of the open Atlantic continually invited his thoughts to their favourite theme. His first effort was upon a small scale. He fitted out a single ship, the command of which was entrusted to two gentlemen of his household, who volunteered their services, with instructions to use their utmost endeavours to double Cape Bojador, and thence to steer southward. According to the mode of navigation, which then prevailed, they held their course along the shore, and by following that direction, they must have encountered almost insuperable difficulties, in the attempt to pass the cape; their want of skill was, however, compensated by a fortunate accident. A sudden squall drove them out to sea, and when they expected every moment to perish, landed them on an unknown island, which, from their happy escape, they named Porto Santo. They returned to Portugal with the good tidings, and were received with the applause due to fortunate adventurers. The following year, prince Henry sent out three ships to take possession of the new island; a fixed spot on the horizon, towards the south, resembling a small black cloud, soon attracted the attention of the settlers, and the conjecture suggested itself that it might be land. Steering towards it, they arrived at a considerable island, uninhabited, and covered with wood, which, on that account, they called Madeira.
By these voyages, the Portuguese became accustomed to a bolder navigation, and at length, in 1433, Gilianez, one of prince Henry's captains, by venturing out into the open sea, succeeded in doubling Cape Bojador, which, until then, had been regarded as impassable. This successful voyage, which the ignorance of the age placed on a level with the most famous exploits recorded in history, opened a new sphere to navigation, as it discovered the vast continent of Africa, still washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching towards the south. A rapid progress was then made along the shores of the Sehara, and the Portuguese navigators were not long in reaching the fertile regions watered by the Senegal and the Gambia.
The early part of this progress was dreary in the extreme; they saw nothing before them but a wild expanse of lifeless earth and sky, naked rocks and burning sands, stretching immeasurably into the exterior, and affording no encouragement to any project of settlement. After, however, passing Cape Blanco, the coast began to improve in appearance, and when they saw the ivory and gold brought down from the interior, those regions began to excite the lust of conquest. This was, however, an undertaking beyond the means of any force which had as yet sailed from Portugal. In 1443, however, Nuno Tristan discovered the island of Arguin, and as Gonzalo da Centra was in 1445 killed by a party of negroes, in attempting to ascend a small river, near the Rio Grande, the Portuguese considered an insular position to be the most eligible for a settlement, and the island of Arguin was accordingly fixed upon.
This establishment had been scarcely formed, when an important event took place, which afforded a favourable opportunity and pretext for laying the foundation of the Portuguese empire in Africa. Bemoy, a prince of the Jaloofs, arrived at Arguin, as a suppliant for foreign aid, in recovering his dominions from a more powerful competitor or usurper. He was received with open arms, and conveyed to Lisbon, where he experienced a brilliant reception, his visit being celebrated by all the festal exhibitions peculiar to that age, bull-fights, puppet-shows, and even feats of dogs. On that occasion, Bemoy made a display of the agility of his native attendants, who on foot, kept pace with the swift horses, mounting and alighting from these animals at full gallop After being instructed in the Christian religion, he was baptized, and did homage to the king and the pope, for the crown, which was to be placed on his head; for this purpose a powerful armament under the command of Pero vaz d'Acunha, was sent out with him, to the banks of the Senegal.
The circumstance, which tended more particularly to inflame the pious zeal of the Christian monarch, was the information, that to the east of Timbuctoo there was a territory inhabited by a people who were neither moors nor pagans, but who, in many of their customs resembled the Christians. It was immediately inferred, that this could be no other than the kingdom of the mysterious personage known in Europe, under the uncouth appellation of Prester John. This singular name seems first to have been introduced by travellers from eastern Asia, where it had been applied to some Nestorian bishop, who held there a species of sovereignty, and when rumours arrived of the Christian king of Abyssinia, he was concluded to be the real Prester John. His dominions being reported to stretch far inland, and the breadth of the African continent being very imperfectly understood, the conclusion was formed, that a mission from the western coast might easily reach his capital. It does not fully appear, what were the precise expectations from an intercourse with this great personage, but it seems to have been thoroughly rooted in the minds of the Portuguese, that they would be raised to a matchless height of glory and felicity, if they could by any means arrive at his court. The principal instruction given to all officers employed in the African service, was, that in every quarter, and by every means, they should endeavour to effect this discovery. They accordingly never failed to put the question to all the wanderers of the desert, and to every caravan that came from the interior, but in vain, the name had never been heard. The Portuguese then besought the natives at all events, into whatever region they might travel, studiously to inquire if Prester John was there, or if any one knew where he was to be found, and on the promise of a splendid reward, in case of success, this was readily undertaken.
The conclusion of the adventure of Bemoy, was extremely tragical. A quarrel having arisen between him and the commander of the expedition, the latter stabbed the African prince on board his own vessel. Whether this violent deed was prompted by the heat of passion, or by well-grounded suspicions of the prince's fidelity, was never fully investigated, but the king learned the event with great regret, and in consequence, gave up his design of building a fort on the Senegal. Embassies were, however, sent to the most powerful of the neighbouring states, nor was any pause made in the indefatigable efforts to trace the abode of Prester John. Amongst the great personages, to whom an embassy was sent, are mentioned the kings of Tongubutue, (Timbuctoo,) and Tucurol, a Mandingo chief named Mandimansa, and a king of the Foulhas, with all of whom a friendly intercourse was established. All endeavours were, however, vain as to the primary object, but the Portuguese thereby gained a more complete knowledge of this part of interior Africa than was afterwards attained in Europe till a very recent period.
There is, however, one circumstance attending these discoveries of the Portuguese, and the embassies, which they in consequence sent to the native princes, which deserves particular attention. There is very little doubt existing, but that the Portuguese were acquainted with the town and territory of Timbuctoo; and the question then presents itself, by what means did the Portuguese succeed in penetrating to a kingdom, which, for centuries afterwards, baffled all the efforts of the most enterprising travellers to arrive within some hundred miles of it. The city of Timbuctoo, for instance, was, for a considerable length of time, the point to which all the European travellers had directed their attention; but so vague and indefinite were the accounts of it, that the existence of Timbuctoo as a town, began to be questioned altogether, or at least, that the extraordinary accounts, which had been given of it, had little or no foundation in truth. From the time of Park to the present period, we have information of only three Europeans reached Timbuctoo, and considerable doubt still exists in regard to the truth of the narrative of one of them. It is true that the intelligence of the Portuguese embassies, as respecting the particulars of them, and the manner in which they were conducted, has either perished, or still remains locked up in the archives of the Lusitanian monarchy. But when we look into the expeditions, which have been projected of late years into the interior of Africa, we cannot refrain from drawing the conclusion, that the character of the African people must have undergone a change considerably for the worse, or that our expeditions are not regulated on those principles so as to command success.
The Portuguese in the meantime continued to extend their discoveries in another quarter, for in 1471, they reached the Gold Coast, when dazzled by the importance and splendour of the commodity, the commerce of which gave name to that region, they built the fort of Elmina or The Mine, making it the capital of their possessions on that part of the continent. Pushing onward to Benin, they received a curious account of an embassy said to be sent at the accesion of every new prince, to a court of a sovereign named Ogane, who was said to reside seven or eight hundred miles in the interior. On the introduction of the ambassadors, a silk curtain concealed the person of his majesty from them, until the moment of their departure, when the royal foot was graciously put forth from under the veil, and reverence was done to it as a "holy thing." From this statement it appears that the pope of Rome is not the only person, whose foot is treated as a "holy thing;" there is not, however, any information extant, that the Portuguese ambassadors kissed the great toe of the African prince, and therefore the superiority of the pope in this instance is at once decided. The statement, however, of the Portuguese ambassadors excited greatly the curiosity of the court on their return, and it was immediately surmised by them, that this mysterious potentate was more likely to be Prester John, than any person whom they had yet heard of. It must, however, be remarked, that it was a subject of great doubt and discussion to determine who this Ogane really was.
Although in possession of the extensive coast of Africa, the Portuguese had, as yet, no declared title to it, for that purpose, therefore, they appealed to religion or rather the superstition of the age. It was a maxim, which the bigots of the Vatican had endeavoured strongly to inculcate, that whatever country was conquered from infidel nations, became the property of the victors. This title was, however, not completed until it was confirmed by a special grant obtained from the pope, and accordingly the reigning monarch of Portugal, John II., obtained the grant of all the lands from Cape Bojador to the Indies inclusive. Robertson, speaking of this grant, says, "extravagant as this donation, comprehending such a large portion of the habitable globe, would now appear even in catholic countries, no person in the fifteenth century doubted but that the pope, in the plenitude of his apostolic power, had a right to confer it."
The grant was no sooner confirmed by the pope, than John hesitated not a moment to style himself Lord of Guinea, giving his commanders, at the same time, instructions that, instead of the wooden crosses, which it had hitherto been the custom to erect in token of conquest, pillars of stone should be raised twice the stature of a man, with proper inscriptions, and the whole surmounted by a crucifix inlaid with lead. The first, who sailed from Elmina, for the purpose of planting these ensigns of dominion in regions yet undiscovered was Diego Cam, in 1484. After passing Cape St. Catherine, he encountered a very strong current setting direct from the land, which was still at a considerable distance; on tasting the water, however, it was found to be fresh, from which the conjecture was drawn, that he was at the mouth of some great river, which ultimately turned out to be the fact. This river has since been celebrated under the name of the Congo, or the Zaire, lying in latitude 8° south, and longitude 13° east. On reaching the southern bank of the river, Diego planted his first pillar, after which he ascended its borders, and opened a communication with the natives by means of signs. His first inquiry was respecting the residence of their sovereign, and, on receiving the information, that he resided at the distance of several days journey inland, he determined to send a number of his men with presents for the prince, the natives undertaking to be the guides, and pledging themselves, within a stipulated period, to conduct them back again. As the natives meantime passed and repassed on the most intimate footing, Diego took the advantage of a moment, when several of the principal persons were on board his ship, weighed anchor and put to themselves as good and bona fide Christians, as any of the revered men, who had been sent out to instruct them. The early missionaries, however, committed the same fault, which has distinguished the labours of those of later periods, for they immediately began attack one of the most venerated institutions of the realm of Congo which was polygamy; and to the aged monarch the privation of his wives appeared so intolerable, that he renounced the Christian faith, and relapsed into all the impurities of paganism and polygamy. The heir apparent, however, saw nothing so very dreadful in the sacrifice of his wives, and braving the displeasure of his father, remained attached to the Portuguese. The holy fathers managed their business on this occasion with that skill, for which the cowled tribe have ever been distinguished, and by the aid of the Apostle St. James, and a numerous cavalry of angels, the old king died, and Alphonso, the zealous convert, became entitled to reign. His brother, however, Panso Aquitimo, supported by the nobles and almost the whole nation, raised the standard of revolt, in support of polygamy and paganism. A civil war ensued, which is generally the attendant upon the proselytism of a people, and Alphonso had only a handful of Portuguese to oppose to the almost innumerable host of his countrymen; but the holy fathers again applied to their auxiliaries, and in consequence of apparitions in the clouds, at one time of St. James, and another of the Virgin Mary, Alphonso always came off victorious, and as he thereby became firmly seated on the throne, the missionaries secured for themselves a safe and comfortable establishment at Congo. The following account of the conduct of these missionaries, as it is given in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, cannot fail to afford a considerable degree of entertainment, at the same time, it is much to be deplored, that men engaged in so sacred a cause, "could play such fantastic tricks before high heaven," and disgrace the doctrine, which they meant to teach.
Being reinforced by successive bodies of their brethren, the missionaries spread over the neighbouring countries of Lundi, Pango, Concobella and Maopongo, many tracts of which were rich and populous, although the state of society was extremely rude. Everywhere their career was nearly similar; the people gave them the most cordial reception, flocked in crowds to witness and to share in the pomp of their ceremonies; accepted with thankfulness their sacred gifts, and received by thousands the rite of baptism. They were not, however, on this account prepared to renounce their ancient habits and superstitions. The inquisition, that chef d'ouvre of sacerdotal guilt, was speedily introduced into their domestic arrangements, and, as was naturally to be supposed, caused a sudden revulsion, on which account the missionaries thenceforth maintained only a precarious and even a perilous position. They were much reproached, it appears, for the rough and violent methods employed to effect their pious purposes, and although they treat the accusation as most unjust, some of the proceedings, of which they boast with the greatest satisfaction, tend not a little to countenance the charge. When, for example, they could not persuade the people to renounce their superstitions, they used a large staff, with which they threw down their idols and beat them to pieces; they even stole secretly into the temples, and set them on fire. A missionary at Maopongo, having met one of the queens, and finding her mind inaccessible to all his instructions, determined to use sharper remedies, and seizing a whip, began to apply it lustily to her majesty's person: the effect he describes as most auspicious; every successful blow opened her eyes more and more to the truth, and she at last declared herself wholly unable to resist such forcible arguments in favour of the catholic doctrine. She, however, hastened to the king, with loud complaints respecting this mode of mental illumination; and the missionaries thenceforth lost all favour with that prince and the ladies of his court, being allowed to remain solely in dread of the Portuguese. In only one other instance were they allowed to employ this mode of conversion. The smith, in consequence of the skill, strange in the eyes of a rude people, with which he manufactured various arms and implements, was supposed to possess a measure of superhuman power, and he had thus been encouraged to advance pretensions to the character of a divinity, which were very generally admitted. The missionaries appealed to the king, respecting this impious assumption, and that prince conceiving that it interfered with the respect due to himself, agreed to deliver into their hands the unfortunate smith, to be converted into a mortal in any manner they might judge efficacious. After a short and unsuccessful argument, they had recourse to the same potent instrument of conversion, as they had applied to the back of the queen. The son of Vulcan, deserted in this extremity by all his votaries, still made a firm stand for his celestial dignity, till the blood began to stream from his back and shoulders, when he finally yielded, and renounced all pretensions to a divine origin.
A more intimate acquaintance discovered other irregularities amongst the natives, against which a painful struggle was to be maintained. According to the custom of the country, and it were well if the same custom could be introduced into some particular parts of Europe, the two parties, previously to marriage, lived together for some time, in order to make a trial of each other's tempers and inclinations, before entering into the final arrangement. To this system of probation, the natives were most obstinately attached, and the missionaries in vain denounced it, calling upon them at once either to marry or to separate. The young ladies were always the most anxious to have the full benefit of this experimental process; and the mothers, on being referred to, refused to incur any responsibility, and expose themselves to the reproaches of their daughters, by urging them to an abridgment of the trial, of which they might afterwards repent. The missionaries seem to have been most diligent in the task, as they called it, of "reducing strayed souls to matrimony." Father Benedict succeeded with no fewer than six hundred, but he found it such "laborious work," that he fell sick and died. Another subject of deep regret, respecting the many superstitious practices still prevalent, even among those who exhibited some sort of Christian profession, was, that sometimes the children, brought for baptism, were bound with magic cords, to which the mothers, as an additional security from evil, had fastened beads, relics, and figures of the Agnus Dei. It was a compound of paganism and Christianity, which the priests turned away from with disgust; but still the mothers seemed more inclined to part with the beads, relics, and figures of the Agnus Dei, than their magic cords. The chiefs, in like manner, while they testified no repugnance to avail themselves of the protection promised from the wearing of crucifixes and images of the Virgin, were unprepared to part with the enchanted rings and other pagan amulets with which they had been accustomed to form a panoply round their persons. In case of dangerous illness, sorcery had been always contemplated as the main or sole remedy, and those who rejected its use were reproached, as rather allowing their sick relations to die, than incur the expense of a conjuror. But the most general and pernicious application of magic was made in judicial proceedings: when a charge was advanced against any individual, no one ever thought of inquiring into the facts, or of collecting evidence—every case was decided by preternatural tests. The magicians prepared a beverage, which produced on the guilty person, according to the measure of his iniquity, spasm, fainting, or death, but left the innocent quite free from harm. It seems a sound conclusion of the missionaries, that the draught was modified according to the good or ill will of the magicians, or the liberality of the supposed culprit. The trial called Bolungo, was indeed renounced by the king, but only to substitute another, in which the accused was made to bend over a large basin of water, when, if he fell in, it was concluded that he was guilty. At other times, a bar of red hot iron was passed along the leg, or the arm was thrust into scalding water, and if the natural effect followed, the person's head was immediately struck off. Snail shells, applied to the temples, if they stuck, inferred guilt. When a dispute arose between man and man, the plan was, to place shells on the heads of both, and make them stoop, when he, from off whose head the shell first dropped, had a verdict found against him. While we wonder at the deplorable ignorance on which these practices were founded, we must not forget that "the judgments of God," as they were termed, employed by our ancestors, during the middle ages, were founded on the same unenlightened views, and were in some cases absolutely identical.
Other powers, of still higher name, held sway over the deluded minds of the people of Congo. Some ladies of rank went about beating a drum, with dishevelled hair, and pretended to work magical cures. There was also a race of mighty conjurors, called Scingilli, who had the power of giving and withdrawing rain at pleasure; and they had a king called Ganja Chitorne, or God of the earth, to whom its first fruits were regularly offered. This person never died, but when tired of his sway on earth, he nominated a successor, and killed himself; a step, doubtless, prompted by the zeal of his followers, when they saw any danger of his reputation for immortality being compromised. This class argued strongly in favour of their vocation, as not only useful, but absolutely essential, since without it the earth would be deprived of those influences, by which alone it was enabled to minister to the wants of man. The people accordingly viewed, with the deepest alarm, any idea of giving offence to beings, whose wrath might be displayed in devoting the land to utter sterility.
We cannot trace any record, stating the period or the manner in which the Portuguese and their officious missionaries were expelled from Congo; it is, however, supposed that they at length carried their religious innovations to such a length, as to draw down upon them the vengeance of the people, and that some bold and decisive steps were taken to liberate the country from its usurpers. It is, however, certain, that Capt. Tucky, in his late expedition, did not find a single trace of either the Portuguese or their missionaries on the banks of the Zaire.
The traveller has ever found much greater difficulty in making discoveries in Mahometan than in Gentoo or Pagan countries, and from this cause the great continent of Africa is much less known to Europeans than it was in ancient times. Until the present age, and a very recent part of it, our knowledge of that immense portion of the globe extended but very little way from the coast, and its enterprises have made great advances to a knowledge of that interior before unexplored. The design of examining on land Africa, to find out the manners, habits, and institutions of its men, the state of the country, its commercial capabilities in themselves, and relative to this country, formed the African Association. From the liberal sentiments, knowledge, and comprehensive views of that society, were the courage and enterprise of adventurers stimulated to particular undertakings of discovery.
We are now arrived at the period when England, aroused by the commercial advantages, which Portugal was deriving from her African possessions, determined, in defiance of the pope of Rome and "the Lords of Guinea," to participate in the treasures, and to form her own settlements on the African coast, although it must be admitted, that one of the motives by which the English merchants were actuated, was not founded on humanity or patriotism. The glorious and splendid results, which had arisen from the discovery of the East and West Indies, caused the ocean to be generally viewed as the grand theatre where wealth and glory were to be gained. The cultivation of the West India Islands by the labour of Europeans, was found to be a task almost impracticable, and the attention was thence drawn to discover a source, from which manual labour could be obtained, adapted to the climate, and this resource was soon found in the black population of Africa. It is not to be doubted, that many of our African settlements were formed for the purpose of procuring a supply of slaves, for the West India possessions, at the same time, the attention of others was excited by a far more innocent and brilliant prospect. It was in the beginning of the seventeenth century, that an unbounded spirit of enterprise appears to have been excited amongst the British merchants, by vague reports of an Africa El Dorado. The most flattering reports had reached Europe, of the magnitude of the gold trade carried on at Timbuctoo, and along the course of the Niger; despatches were even received from Morocco, representing its treasures, as surpassing those of Mexico and Peru, and in 1618, a company was formed in London, for the express purpose of penetrating to the country of gold, and to Timbuctoo. Exaggeration stepped in to inflame the minds of the speculators, with the enormous wealth which awaited them in the interior of Africa. The roofs of the houses were represented to be covered with plates of gold, that the bottoms of the rivers glistened with the precious metal, and the mountains had only to be excavated, to yield a profusion of the metallic treasure. From the northern part of Africa, impediments of almost an insuperable nature presented themselves, to the attainment of these great advantages; immense deserts, as yet unexplored by human foot, and the knowledge of the existence of tribes of barbarous people on the borders of them, were in themselves sufficient to daunt the spirit of adventure in those quarters, and ultimately drew the attention to the discovery of another channel, by which the golden treasures of Timbuctoo could be reached, without encountering the appalling dangers of the deserts, or the murderous intentions of the natives.
The existence of the great river Niger, had been established by the concurrent testimony of all navigators, but of its course or origin, not the slightest information had been received. The circumstance of its waters flowing from the eastward, gave rise to the conjecture, that they flowed through the interior of the continent, and emptied themselves either by the Senegal or the Gambia, into the Atlantic. It was, therefore, considered probable, that by ascending the Senegal or the Gambia, which were supposed to be merely tributary streams of the Niger, of which they formed the estuary, that Timbuctoo and the country of gold might be reached; and so strongly was this opinion impressed upon the minds of the merchants, and other adventurers, that a journey to Timbuctoo became the leading project of the day, and measures were accordingly taken to carry it into execution.
The first person sent out by the company established for exploring the Gambia, was Richard Thompson, a Barbary merchant, a man of some talent and enterprise, who sailed from the Thames in the Catherine, of 120 tons, with a cargo valued at nearly two thousand pounds sterling. The expedition of Thompson was unfortunate in the extreme, but the accounts received of his adventures and death, have been differently recited. It is certain, that Thompson ascended the Gambia as far as Tenda, a point much beyond what any European had before reached, and according to one account, he was here attacked by the Portuguese, who succeeded in making a general massacre of the English. Another account states, that he was killed in an affray with his own people, and thence has been styled the first martyr, or more properly the first victim in the cause of African discovery.
The company, however, nothing daunted by the ill success of Thompson, despatched another expedition on a larger scale, consisting of the Sion of 200 tons, and the St. John of 50, giving the command to Richard Jobson, to whom we are indebted for the first satisfactory account of the great river districts of western Africa.
Jobson arrived in the Gambia, in November, 1620, and left his ship at Cassau, a town situate on the banks of that river. Here, however, his progress was impeded by the machinations of the Portuguese, and so great was the dread of the few persons belonging to that nation, who remained at Cassan after the massacre of Thompson, that scarcely one could be found, who would take upon himself the office of a pilot to conduct his vessel higher up the river. In this extremity he had no other resource than to take to his boats, but, on ascending the river, he found his merchandise in comparatively little request, and repented that he had not laden his boats with salt. He soon afterwards met with Brewer, who had accompanied Thompson to Tenda, and remained with the English factory established up the river. He also filled Jobson with "golden hopes." Wherever the English stopped, the negro kings, with their wives and daughters, came down to the river side to buy, or rather to beg for trinkets, and still more for brandy. They also showed themselves by no means ignorant of the art of stealing, but their thefts were, in some degree, obliged to be winked at, for fear of offending the royal personages, and drawing down upon themselves the secret vengeance of the uncivilized hordes. On Christmas day Tirambra, a negro prince, a great friend of the English, sent them a load of elephant's flesh, which was accepted with tokens of the greatest respect and gratitude, although the whole gift was secretly thrown away.
After a navigation in boats of nearly thirty days, Jobson reached the rapids of Barraconda, the highest point to where the tide flows, and where he found himself involved in great difficulties. The ascent was to be made against a current running with the greatest rapidity; the great number of hidden rocks made it dangerous to pursue their course during the night, the same time, that in attempting to avoid the rocks, they struck upon sand banks and shallows, which often obliged the crew to strip and go into the water, for the purpose of clearing the boats from the sands. In the performance, however, of this task, the greatest danger was run from the vast number of crocodiles, that infested the river, and which, in several instances, seemed to be in waiting for any prey with which the boats could supply them. The river was also filled with "a world of sea-horses, whose paths, as they came on shore to feed, were beaten with tracts as large as a London highway." The land on either side of the river was covered with immense forests of unknown trees, which appeared to team with living things, feathered and quadruped, making a roar sometimes, which was sufficient to instil terror into the stoutest heart. Amongst the latter, the baboons appeared to hold the sovereignty of the woods, and whenever the navigation of the river obliged the travellers to keep close in shore, where the banks were covered with trees; the baboons posted themselves on the branches, and kept up a regular attack upon the navigators, throwing at them the largest branches, which they could break from the trees, and apparently holding a palaver with each other, as to the best mode of prosecuting the attack against the lawless intruders into their territory. They appeared actually to be aware when a branch hit one of the navigators, for they immediately up a shout of triumph, screaming hideously, and "grinning ghastly a horrible smile," as if expressive of their victory. The voices of the crocodiles calling, as it were, to each other, resembling the sound "of a deep well," might be heard at the distance of a league, whilst the elephants were seen in huge hordes, raising their trunks in the air, and snorting defiance to all who dared approach them. The latter are objects of great fear to the natives, scarcely one of whom dare approach them, but they appeared to have an instinctive sense of the superiority of the English, for they no sooner made a movement against them, than they hurried away with the speed of the forest deer, and were soon lost in the depths of their native forests. Three balls were lodged in one of the animals, but he made off with them; he was, however, soon after found dead by the negroes. The most formidable animals, however, were the lions, ounces, and leopards, which were seen at some distance, but the sailors could not obtain a shot at them. At one of their halting places, the baboons appeared like an army consisting of several thousands, some of the tallest placed in front, marshalled under the guidance of a leader, the smaller ones being in the middle, and the rear brought up by the larger ones. The sailors showed some disposition to enter into an acquaintance with the leader of the army, but the desire was by no means mutual, for nature has very kindly infused into the hearts of these creatures a strong distrust in the friendly advances of their brother bipeds, knowing them to be, in many of their actions, false, hollow, and deceitful, a proof of which, one of the leaders of the army received in a very striking and forcible manner, in the shape of a bullet, which passed directly through his body. The baboons were, however, determined that their treacherous friends should not obtain possession of the body of their murdered leader, for before the sailors could arrive at the spot where the deceased general lay, his indignant and patriotic companions had carried his body away. On following these creatures to their haunts in the recessess of the forest, places were found, where the branches had been so intertwined, and the ground beaten so smoothly, as to make it rather difficult to believe that the labour had not been accomplished by human hands.
On the 26th of January, Jobson arrived at Tenda, and he immediately despatched a messenger to Buckar Sano, the chief merchant on the Gambia, who soon after arrived with a stock of provisions, which he disposed of at reasonable prices. In return for the promptitude, with which Buckar Sano had replied to his message, Jobson treated him with the greatest hospitality, placing before him the brandy bottle as the most important object of the entertainment. Buckar Sano seemed by no means unwilling to consider it in that character, for he paid so many visitations to it that he became so intoxicated, that he lay during the whole of the night dead drunk in the boat. Buckar Sano, however, showed by his subsequent conduct, that drunkenness was not a vice, to which he was naturally addicted, and that the strength of the spirit had crept upon him, before he was aware of the consequences that were likely to ensue. On any subsequent occasion, when the brandy bottle was tendered to him, he would take a glass, but on being pressed to repeat it, he would shake his head with apparent tokens of disgust; after the exchange of some presents, and many ridiculous ceremonies, Buckar Sano was proclaimed the white man's alchade, or mercantile agent. Jobson had, however, some reason to doubt his good faith, from the accounts which he gave of a city four months journey in the interior, the roofs of the houses of which were covered with sheets of gold. It must, however, be considered, in exculpation of the supposed exaggerated accounts of Buckar Sano, that the Europeans at that time possessed a very circumscribed knowledge of the extent of the interior of Africa, and that a four months journey, to a particular city, would not be looked upon at the time as transgressing the bounds of truth. It is most probable that Buckar Sano alluded to Timbuctoo, a place that has given rise to more extraordinary conjectures, and respecting which, more fabulous stories have been told than of Babylon, or of Carthage of ancient history.
The circumstance of a vessel having arrived in the river for the purpose of traffic, caused a strong sensation throughout the country, and the natives flocked from all the neighbouring districts, anxious not only to obtain a sight of the white men, but to commence their commercial dealings. They erected their huts on the banks of the river, which in a short time resembled a village, and for the first time, the busy hum of trade was heard in the interior of Africa. The natives, with whom Jobson commenced his commercial dealings, appeared to possess some traces of civilization, nor were they deficient in many of the arts, which are known amongst the civilized nations, and which, even at that time, were with them but in their infancy.
To these people, however, succeeded a different race of visitors, far more rude and uncivilized, whose bodies were covered with skins of wild animals, the tails hanging as from the beasts. The men of this race had never seen a white man before, and so great was their fear, when Jobson presented himself amongst them, that they all ran away, and stationed themselves at some distance from the river. They were, however, soon tempted back again, at the sight of a few beads, and the most friendly relations were afterwards established between them.
Jobson found that in Tenda, as elsewhere, salt was the article chiefly in demand, but he had unfortunately omitted to provide himself with any great quantity of that article. Iron wares met with a ready sale, though these were supplied at a cheaper rate by a neighbouring people. The sword-blade of Buckar Sano, and the brass bracelets of his wife, appeared to Jobson to be specimens of as good workmanship as could be seen in England. Jobson, from very prudential motives, abstained from mentioning gold; but Buckar Sano, who knew perhaps what Europeans most coveted, told him, that if he continued to trade with Tenda, he could dispose of all his cargoes for gold. The negro merchant affirmed, that he had been four times at a town in which the houses were all covered with gold, and distant a journey of four moons. Jobson was informed that six days journey from St. John's Mart, the name which he gave to the factory at Tenda, was a town called Mombar, where there was much trade for gold. Three stages farther was Jaye, whence the gold came. Some of the native merchants, finding that Jobson had not any salt with him, refused to enter into any commercial dealings with him, and returned highly dissatisfied. For the commodities which he did dispose of, he obtained, in exchange, gold and ivory; he could have obtained hides in abundance, but they were too bulky a commodity to bear the expense of conveyance.
Jobson wisely adapted his carriage to the negro customs; he danced and sung with the natives, and entered with a proper spirit into all their entertainments. He remarks, that the water of the Gambia above Barraconda has such a strong scent of musk, from the multitude of crocodiles, that infest that part of the river, as to be unfit for use. The torpedo also abounds in the river about Cassan, and at first caused not a little terror and amazement to the crew.
Amongst other acts of kindness, which Buckar Sano showed to the Englishman, he offered to introduce him at the court of Tenda. This, in a commercial point of view, was an advantage not to be overlooked, independently of the knowledge, which he would acquire of the internal geography of the country. On reaching the king's presence, an example was witnessed of the debasing homage, which is usually paid to negro princes, and of which some striking examples will be given in the journey of Clapperton. The great and wealthy merchant, on appearing in the presence of the king, first fell on his knees, and then throwing off his shirt, extended himself naked and flat on the ground, whilst his attendants almost buried him beneath dust and mud; after grovelling like a beast for some time in this position, he suddenly started up, shook off the mud from him, in which operation he was assisted by two of his wives, who then assisted him in equipping himself in his best attire, with his bow and quiver, and all the other paraphernalia of a person of rank and consequence. He and his attendants, after having made a semblance of shooting at Jobson, laid their bows at his feet, which was understood to be a token of homage. The king even assured the English captain, that the country, and every thing in it, were then placed at his disposal, "which bounty, observes Jobson, could require no less than two or three bottles of my best brandy, although the English were not sixpence the better for the grant."
The dry season had now commenced, and Jobson observed that the waters of the river were gradually sinking lower and lower; but the city, the roofs of which were plates of gold, haunted the busy fancy of Jobson, and he used every endeavour to ascend the river, in order that he might discover the sources from which the plates of gold were made. It was evident to him, that Buckar Sano had either practised an imposition upon him, or that he had grossly exaggerated the treasures of the wonderful city; but in regard to the former, he could not divine any motive by which Buckar Sano could be actuated in imposing upon him; and in regard to the latter, making every allowance for exaggeration, it might eventually transpire, that the country abounded with the precious metal, although perhaps not exactly in the extraordinary degree as reported by Buckar Sano. After encountering many difficulties, he was obliged to relinquish the farther ascent of the river, nor did he even reach the point where the previous discoveries of Thompson terminated, which may be considered as the utmost boundary of the discoveries of that period; indeed many years elapsed before any travellers passed the limits at which Thompson or Jobson had arrived. The latter gives a strange report, which, however, was in some degree partially circulated before him, of a silent traffic being carried on in the interior between the moors and a negro nation, who would not allow themselves to be seen. "The reason," he adds, "why these negroes conceal themselves, is, that they have lips of an unnatural size, hanging down halfway over their breasts, and which they are obliged to rub with salt continually, to keep them from putrefaction." Thus even the great salt trade of the interior of Africa is not wholly untinged with fable.
The stream became at last so shallow, that Jobson could not ascend any farther, and he began his voyage downwards on the 10th February, intending to return at the season when the periodical rains filled the channel. He was, however, never able to execute this purpose, as he and the company became involved in a quarrel with the merchants, whom he visits with his highest displeasure, representing them as persons alive only to their own immediate interests, and utterly regardless of any of those honourable motives with which all commercial dealings ought to be characterised.
Jobson may be said to have been the first Englishman, who enjoyed the opportunity of observing the manners and superstitions peculiar to the interior of Africa, but that must be taken as only within the narrow limits to which the discoveries at that period extended. He found that the chiefs of the different nations were attended by bands of musicians, to whom he gives the appellation of juddies or fiddlers, and compares them to the Irish rhymsters, or, as we should now compare them, to the Italian improvisatori. By some other authors they are called jelle, or jillemen; the instruments on which they perform being rudely made of wood, having a sonorous sound, on account of its extreme hardness, and in some instances they exhibit the knowledge of the power of an extended string, by fastening a piece of the gut of an animal across a plane of wood, and beating on it with a stick. Like the majority of the musicians of the ruder tribes, the excellence of their music depends on the noise which is made, and if it be so obstreperous, as almost to deafen the auditors, the greater is the pleasure which is shown.
These wandering minstrels are frequently attended by the Greegree men, or sorcerers, who, on account of the fantastic dress which they wear, form a most motley group; the Greegree men, trying to outvie each other in the hideous and fantastic style of their dress, and the more frightful they make themselves appear, the greater they believe is the effect of their sorcery. The principal festivals are those of circumcision and of funeral. Whenever former ceremony is performed, a vast concourse of people are attracted, from every part of the country, the operator being generally a Greegree man, who pretends to determine the future fate of the individual, in the manner by which the operation is performed, but which is always declared to be highly prosperous, if a liberal present has been made. During the performance of the ceremony, the forests appear in a blaze, the most discordant shouts rending the air, intermixed with the sounds of their instruments, composing altogether a tumult, which is heard at the distance of many leagues. The dancing is described as of the most ludicrous kind, marked by those indecencies, which generally distinguish the amusements of the savage tribes. In these sports, the women are always the foremost in the violence of their gestures; the young ones selecting the objects of their affection, to bestow upon them some token of their attachment.
The funeral of their chiefs is a ceremony of great solemnity, and in some of its forms has a strong resemblance to an Irish wake. Flowers of the most odorous scent are buried with the corpse, which is also supplied with a considerable quantity of gold, to assist him on his entrance into the other world, where it is believed, that the degree of happiness, is proportionate to the quantity of gold which the deceased has in his possession. It must, however, be mentioned, that the natives of this part of Africa, appear to be wholly exempt from the stigma, which belongs to some of the other tribes of Africa, in the human victims which are sacrificed at the funerals of their kings or chiefs, and which in some cases amount to three or four hundred. The funerals of the kings of Tenda are conducted with a decorum highly creditable to the people, considering their uncivilised state; and the graves are frequently visited by the relatives of the deceased, to repair any injury, which they may have sustained from the violence of the rains, or the attacks of carnivorous animals.
At all the festivals, a personage called Horey, or which Jobson calls the devil, acts a most conspicuous part, at the same time, that he generally carries on his operations in secret, impressing thereby on the minds of the natives, an idea of his invisibility. The Horey generally takes his station in the adjoining woods, whence he sends forth the most tremendous sounds, supposed to have a very malignant influence on all those who happen to be within hearing. It is, however, a fortunate circumstance for the native, who is so unfortunate as to be within hearing of the Horey's cries, that the method is known, of appeasing the vindictive spirit of the Horey, which is, by placing a quantity of provisions, in the immediate vicinity of the place where his roaring is heard; and if on the following day the provisions have disappeared, which is sure to be the case, the natives are then satisfied that the Horey has been appeased, which, however, lasts only for a short time, for as the appetite of the Horey is certain to return, his cries are again heard, and the provisions are again deposited for his satisfaction.
In regard to this Horey or devil, rather a ludicrous story is told by Jobson, who, being in company with a Marabout, and hearing the Horey in full cry in a neighbouring thicket, seized a loaded musket, declaring his resolution aloud, to discharge the contents without any further ceremony, at his infernal majesty. Dreading the consequences, which might befal the whole nation, were the devil to be killed, the Marabout implored Jobson to desist from his murderous design; on a sudden, the hoarse roar of the Horey was changed into a low and plaintive sound, expressive of an individual imploring mercy from his destroyer;—again Jobson levelled his gun at the spot whence the sound issued, when on a sudden, his infernal majesty presented himself in the shape of a huge negro, bloated with fat, and who now lay on the ground, his devilish spirit quelled, and apparently in such an agony of fear, as to be unable to sue for the mercy of the avenging Englishman, who stood laughing over him, at the idea of having so easily vanquished an African devil.
The dissensions, which took place amongst the company, on the return of Jobson, put an end for a time to all further discoveries. It was evident that these divisions in the company, arose from a spirit of jealousy amongst certain members of it, who had formed amongst themselves certain schemes of personal aggrandizement, and were therefore unwilling to despatch any one into those quarters, in which such abundant sources presented themselves, of amassing inexhaustible riches.
The next attempt was made by Vermuyden, an opulent merchant, on the Gambia, about the year 1660 or 1665, who equipped a boat abundantly stored with bacon, beef, biscuit, rice, strong waters, and other comfortable supplies, the weight of which, however, was so great, that on arriving at the flats and shallows, the vessel could not proceed on her voyage without the greatest danger. After navigating the shallows for some time, he arrived at a broad expanse of water, which he compared to Windermere Lake, and he now found himself on a sudden entangled in a great difficulty, owing to a number of streams flowing into this lake, and the consequent uncertainty which existed, of choosing that particular one, which might be considered the main branch or stream; and were he to ascend any other, he might find that all his labours had been spent in vain, as it might lead him to a quarter, at a great distance from those stations and towns, where the Europeans had established their commercial settlements. "Up the buffing stream," says Vermuyden, "with sad labour we wrought," and when he had ascended further up the stream, the sailors were often obliged to strip themselves naked, and get into the water. This was found, however, to be a most dangerous experiment, for the crocodiles and river horses showed themselves in fearful numbers, and fully inclined to treat the intruders on their rightful domain, with the most marked hostility. Vermuyden says, they were ill pleased, or unacquainted with any companions in these watery regions, and at all events, he was convinced that his men were not very proper companions for them. So daring were the river horses, that one of them struck a hole in the boat with his teeth, an accident which was rather of a serious nature, as there was no one on board possessing any skill in carpentry; and as one attack had been made, great apprehension was entertained that it might be renewed, and the consequences prove of the most fatal kind. They, however, fell upon the expedient of fixing a lantern at the stern of the vessel, which kept the monsters at a respectful distance; they showing great alarm at any light shining in the dark. On one occasion, when they landed for the purpose of searching for gold, they found the territory guarded by an incredible number of huge baboons, who seemed determined to enter into open conflict with them, and to set at defiance every attempt that was made to penetrate into the territory. If the sailors shouted to them; the baboons set up a loud scream, showing their white teeth, and making known the reception which the intruders would meet with, if they made any further advances.
Finding that neither their oratory nor their menaces had any effect upon the baboon army, a few guns were discharged at them, which seemed rather to astonish them, for it was something which they had never seen nor heard before; but as no immediate effect was visible amongst their army, they began to consider the firing as a sort of joke, and prepared to drive the invaders back to their boats. A volley, however, from the human assailants, by which three of the baboon army were laid prostrate, soon convinced the latter, that the firing was no joke, and after making some slight show of resistance, they carried away the dead, and retreated to the woods.
The discovery of gold being the principal object of the adventure of Vermuyden, he landed frequently in different places, and proceeded to wash the sand, and examine the rocks. Vermuyden had acquired, in his native country, some slight knowledge of alchymy, and he carried out with him not only mercury, aqua regia, and large melting pots, but also a divining rod, which, however, as was most likely the case, was not found to exhibit any virtue. Vermuyden, however, was not to be laughed out of his superstitious notions, although his companions took every opportunity of turning his expectations into ridicule, but he found a very plausible excuse for the impotency of his divining rod in the discovery, that its qualities had all been dried up by the heat of the climate, and that, under every circumstance, it was not an instrument adapted to the country in which it was to be carried into use. On one occasion, however, the virtue of the divining rod appeared suddenly to have returned, for his eyes were gladdened with the sight of a large mass of apparent gold; the delusion, however, soon vanished, for, on examination, it was found to be nothing more than common spar. According to his report, the metal is never met with in low fertile and wooded spots, but always in naked and barren hills, embedded in a reddish earth. At one place, after a labour of twenty days, he succeeded in extracting twelve pounds, and, at length, he asserts that he arrived at the mouth of the mine itself, and saw gold in such abundance, as surprised him with joy and admiration. It does not appear, however, that he returned from his expedition considerably improved in his fortune by the discovery of this mine, nor does he give any notice of the real position of it, by which we are led to conjecture, that the discovery of the mine was one of those fabrications, which the travellers of those times were apt to indulge in, for the purpose of gratifying their own vanity, and exciting the envy of their fellow countrymen.
The spirit of African discovery began to revive in England about the year 1720. At that time, the Duke of Chandos was governor of the African company, and being concerned at the declining state of their affairs, suggested the idea of retrieving them, by opening a path into the golden regions, which were still reported to exist in the central part of Africa. The company were not long in finding a person competent to undertake the expedition, and, on the particular recommendation of the duke, the appointment was given to Capt. Bartholomew Stibbs. Being furnished with the requisite means for sailing up the Gambia, Stibbs sailed in September, 1723, and, on the 7th of October, he arrived at James' Island, the English settlement, situate about thirty miles from the mouth of the river, whence he despatched a messenger to Mr. Willy, the governor, who happened at that time to be visiting the factory at Joar, more than a hundred miles distant, asking him to engage such vessels as were fit to navigate the upper streams of the Gambia. To his great surprise and mortification, however, he received an answer from Mr. Willy, that no vessels of that kind were to be had, indeed, instead of using every exertion to promote the cause for which Stibbs had been sent out by the company, Willy appeared to throw every possible obstruction in his way, as if he were actuated by a mean and petty spirit of jealousy of the success, which was likely to await him. A few days, however, after the answer of Willy had been received, a boat brought down his dead body, he having fallen a victim to the fever of the climate, which had previously affected his brain. Willy was succeeded in the governorship by a person named Orfeur, who showed no immediate objection to furnish the vessels and other articles necessary for the expedition of Stibbs up the Gambia, but matters went on so slowly, that the equipment was not completed until the middle of December, when the season was fast approaching, which was highly unfavourable for the accomplishment of the purpose, which Stibbs had in view. He intended to proceed on his journey on the 24th of December, but a slight accident, which happened to one of his boats, prevented his departure on that day: from a superstitious idea that prevailed in the mind of Stibbs, that success would not attend him, if he sailed on the day celebrated as the nativity of Jesus Christ, he deferred his journey to the 26th, when he departed with a crew consisting of nineteen white men, a complete black one, although a Christian, and who was to serve as an interpreter; twenty-nine Grumellas, or hired negroes, with three female cooks; taking afterwards on board a balafeu, or native musician, for the purpose of enlivening the spirits of the party, and driving away the crocodiles, who are superstitiously supposed to have a great dislike "to the concord of sweet sounds," although emanating from the rude instrument of an African musician.
During the early part of the voyage every thing appeared to augur well for the success of the expedition; the party were in high spirits, and no accident of any moment had yet occurred to check the joviality, which prevailed amongst the crew. The natives were every where disposed to carry on trade, and, in some places, saphies or charms were hung on the banks of the river to induce the white men to come on shore. Stibbs had endeavoured to conceal the object, of his journey, but he had formed his calculations upon an erroneous principle, for he found himself at last pointed out as the person who was come to bring down the gold. As they approached the falls of Barraconda, the fears of the native crew began to manifest themselves, and, as is usual with minds immersed in ignorance and superstition, they commenced to foretell the most dreadful disasters, if their captain should attempt to proceed above the falls of Barraconda; numerous stories were now told of the fearful accidents, which had happened to almost every person who had attempted to navigate the river above the falls; the upsetting of a single canoe, from unskilful management, was magnified into the loss of a hundred, and of course not a single individual escaped a watery grave. The natives expected that their terrible narratives would have a proper influence upon the mind of their captain, and that he would, in consequence, desist from prosecuting his journey beyond the falls, but when, contrary to their expectations, he expressed his determination to proceed to the utmost extent to which the river would be found to be navigable, the natives presented themselves in a body before him, and declared their firm determination not to proceed any further, for, to the apparent surprise of Stibbs, they informed him that Barraconda was the end of the world, and certainly no person but a fool, or a madman, would attempt to penetrate any further. Instances, certainly, they confessed had been known of persons going beyond the end of the world, but then, as might be naturally expected, they never were seen any more, being either devoured by enormous beasts, or carried away into another world, by some horrid devils, who were always on the watch to catch the persons, who rejecting the advice, which they themselves were now giving, were so fool hardy as to throw themselves in their power. Stibbs now found himself in rather an unpleasant predicament, the natives appeared resolute not to proceed beyond Barraconda, and Stibbs knew well that it would be highly imprudent in him to proceed without them. A palaver was held, and all the arguments which Stibbs could bring forward, failed to produce the desired effect upon his alarmed crew. He, however, suddenly bethought himself, that he had an argument in his possession, of greater potency, than any that could be afforded by the most persuasive arguments, and taking a bottle of brandy from his chest, he gave to each man a glass of the spirit, when, on a sudden, a very extraordinary change appeared to take place in their opinions and sentiments. They might have been misled as to Barraconda being the end of the world, and they did now remember some instances of persons returning, who had been beyond the falls, and as to the enormous animals, who were said to have devoured the voyagers; they now believed that no other animals were meant than crocodiles and river horses, which, although certainly formidable, were not by any means such dreadful objects as to prevent them prosecuting their voyage. Thus, what the powers of oratory could not effect, nor the arguments of sound and deliberate reason accomplish, was achieved in a moment by the administration of a small quantity of spirituous liquid, giving bravery to the coward, and daring to the effeminate.
They had now arrived at the dreaded boundary of the habitable world, but the falls were not found to be nearly so formidable as they had been represented; they bore rather the character of narrows than of falls, the channel being confined by rocky ledges and fragments, between which there was only one passage, where the canoes rubbed against the rocks on each side. Contrary to the reports, which had been in general circulation, of the dispositions of the natives of the Upper Gambia, in which they were represented to be of a most ferocious and savage nature, they were found to be a harmless, kind, and good-humoured people, who, on every occasion, hastened to render every assistance in their power to the navigators, making them presents of fowls and provisions, and, in some instances, refusing to take any thing in return for the articles which they gave away.
The most laborious part of the journey now presented itself, which consisted in the great exertions, which were necessary in order to pass the flats and quicksands, which seemed to multiply as they ascended the river, and which obliged the natives to strip and get into the water, to drag the boats over the shallows by main force. Although the natives had now ascertained beyond all further doubt, that Barraconda was not the end of the world, yet, one part of their story was fully verified, which was that relating to the enormous animals, with which these desolate regions were tenanted. To the present travellers, they appeared far more formidable than to their predecessors, for the very elephants that had fled precipitately before the crew of Jobson, struck the greatest terror into the party of Stibbs; for one of them showed such a determined disposition to exhibit the extent of his strength, that he turned suddenly upon the crew, and in a very short time put the whole of them to flight. So little did they show any symptoms of fear for the crew, that they were frequently seen crossing the river in bands, at a very short distance from the boats, throwing up the water with their trunks in every direction, and raising such an emotion in the water, as to make the boats rock about, to the great alarm of the crews, and particularly the natives, who now began to wish, that they had not been seduced by the potency of the spirituous liquid, to venture into a region, where death presented itself to them, in the strict embrace of an elephant's trunk, or bored to death by the teeth of the river horse. In regard to the latter animal, the danger which they incurred, was more imminent than with the elephants, but this did not arise from the greater ferocity or savageness of the animal, for the river horse moves in general in a sluggish and harmless manner; but in the shallow places of the river, the horses were seen walking at the bottom, and the space between them and the boat so small, that the keel often came into collision with the back of the animal, who, incensed at the affront offered to him, would be apt to strike a hole through the boat with his huge teeth, and thereby endanger its sinking. It was evident to the commander of the expedition, that the courage of his native crew was almost paralyzed, when they had to contend with any of these formidable creatures, although he had no reason to complain of their exertions, in dragging the boats over the flats and shallows, which appeared to abound in every part of the river.
It now became manifest to Stibbs, that he had chosen an unfavourable time of the year for his expedition; for, after having spent two months, he found himself on the 22nd February, only fifty-nine miles above Barraconda, and at some distance from Tenda, consequently he was not so successful as either Thompson or Jobson, notwithstanding his means were more efficient, and adapted to the purpose. Stibbs, however, expressed himself greatly disappointed with the results of his expedition, and began to look upon the golden mines of Africa, represented as they had been to be inexhaustible, as nothing more than the grossest falsifications, made to suit some private purpose, or to throw a certain degree of ridicule upon the plans and exertions of the African company. He had been informed of a mighty channel, which was to lead him into the remote interior of Africa, but he had as yet only navigated a river, which in certain seasons is almost dry, and where the crews were obliged to assume the character of the amphibious; for at one time, they were obliged to be for hours in the water, dragging the boats over the shallows, and at another, they were on the land, dragging the boats over it, in order to surmount the ledges of rocks, which extended from shore to shore. At one time they were rowing over the backs of the river horses, and the next, they ran the risk of being thrown upon their own back, by the trunks of the elephants, or having them snapped in two between the jaws of the crocodiles.
The source of the great river, which, according to the description then given of it, could not be any other than the Niger, was, according to the opinion of Stibbs, "nothing near so far in the country, as by the geographers has been represented." The river, which he had navigated, did not answer in any degree with the description which had been given of the Niger. The name was not even known in the quarters through which he had passed; it did not flow from any lake, that he could hear of, or which was known to any of the natives, nor did it communicate with the Senegal, or any other great river; and so far from it being a mighty stream in the interior, the report was given to him by the natives, that at about twelve days journey above Barraconda, it dwindled into a rivulet, so small that the "fowls could walk over it."
On the return of Stibbs to the company's settlement at the month of the Gambia, these reports were received with great reluctance, and the strongest doubts were thrown upon their authenticity. At that time, a person of the name of Moore was the company's factor on the Gambia; and in order to invalidate the statements of Stibbs, he produced Herodotus, Leo, Edrisi, and other high authorities, whilst on the other hand, Stibbs declared, that he had never heard of such travellers before, and that he did not see why greater faith should be put in their reports, than in his.
Stibbs for some time supported the veracity of his statements, but Moore and Herodotus at length prevailed, and Stibbs retired from the service in disgust. There were, however, many strongly inclined to attach implicit belief to the statements of Stibbs, at all events, they had the direct tendency of preventing any other voyage being undertaken for some time, for exploring that part of the African continent.
The first person who brought home any accounts of French Africa, was Jannequin, a young man of some rank, who, as he was walking along the quay at Dieppe, saw a vessel bound for this unknown continent, and took a sudden fancy to embark and make the voyage. He was landed at a part of the Sahara, near Cane Blanco. He was struck in an extraordinary degree with the desolate aspect of the region. In ascending the river, however, he was delighted with the brilliant verdure of the banks, the majestic beauty of the trees, and the thick impenetrable underwood. The natives received him hospitably, and he was much struck by their strength and courage, decidedly surpassing similar qualities in Europeans. He saw a moorish chief, called the Kamalingo, who, mounting on horseback, and brandishing three javelins and a cutlass, engaged a lion in single combat, and vanquished that mighty king of the desert. Flat noses and thick lips, so remote from his own ideas of the beautiful, were considered on the Senegal, as forming the perfection of the human visage; nay, he even fancies that they were produced by artificial means. Of actual discovery, little transpired worthy of record in the travels of Jannequin, and his enthusiasm became soon daunted by the perils which at every step beset him.
Nearly seventy years had elapsed, and the spirit of African discovery had remained dormant, whilst in the mean time the remotest quarters of the globe had been reached by British enterprise; the vast region of Africa still remaining an unseemly blank in the map of the earth. To a great and maritime nation as England then was, and to the cause of the sciences in general, particularly that of geography, it was considered as highly discreditable, that no step should be taken to obtain a correct knowledge of the geographical situation of the interior of Africa, from which continual reports arrived of the existence of great commercial cities, and the advantages which the Arabs derived from their intercourse with them. For the purpose of promoting this great national undertaking, a small number of highly-spirited individuals formed themselves into what was termed the African Association, A sum of money was subscribed, and individuals were sought for, who were qualified to undertake such arduous and dangerous enterprises. Lord Rawdon, afterwards the Marquess of Hastings, Sir Joseph Banks, the Bishop of Llandaff, Mr. Beaufoy, and Mr. Stuart, were nominated managers.
The first adventurer was Mr. Ledyard, who, from his earliest age, had been a traveller from one extremity of the earth to the other. He had circumnavigated the globe with Capt. Cook, had resided for several years amongst the American indians, and had travelled with the most scanty means from Stockholm round the Gulf of Bothnia, and thence to the remotest parts of Asiatic Russia. On his return from his last journey, Sir Joseph Banks was then just looking out for a person to explore the interior of Africa, and Ledyard was no sooner introduced to him, than he pronounced him to be the very man fitted for the undertaking. Ledyard also declared that the scheme was in direct unison with his own wishes, and on being asked how soon he could depart, he answered, "Tomorrow." Some time, however, elapsed in making the necessary arrangements, and a passage was shortly afterwards obtained for him to Alexandria, with the view of first proceeding southward from Cairo to Sennaar, and thence traversing the entire breadth of the African continent.
He arrived at Cairo on the 19th of August, 1788. His descriptions of Egypt are bold and original, but somewhat fanciful. He represented the Delta as an unbounded plain of excellent land miserably cultivated; the villages as most wretched assemblages of poor mud huts, full of dust, fleas, flies, and all the curses of Moses, and the people as below the rank of any savages he ever saw, wearing only a blue shirt and drawers, and tattooed as much as the South Sea islanders. He recommends his correspondents, if they wish to see Egyptian women, to look at any group of gypsies behind a hedge in Essex. He describes the Mohammedans as a trading, enterprising, superstitious, warlike set of vagabonds, who, wherever they are bent upon going, will and do go; but he complains that the condition of a Frank is rendered most humiliating and distressing by the furious bigotry of the Turks; to him it seemed inconceivable that such enmity should exist among men, and that beings of the same species should trick and act in a manner so opposite. By conversing with the Jelabs, or slave merchants, he learned a good deal respecting the caravan routes and countries of the interior. Every thing seemed ready for his departure, and he announced that his next communication would be from Sennaar, but, on the contrary, the first tidings received were those of his death. Some delays in the departure of the caravans, acting upon his impatient spirit, brought on a bilious complaint, to which he applied rash and violent remedies, and thus reduced himself to a state, from which the care of Rosetti, the Venetian consul, and the skill of the best physician of Cairo sought in vain to deliver him.
The society had, at the time they engaged Ledyard, entered into terms with Mr. Lucas, a gentleman, who, being captured in his youth by a Sallee rover, had been three years a slave at the court of Morocco, and after his deliverance acted as vice-consul in that empire. Having spent sixteen years there, he had acquired an intimate knowledge of Africa and its languages. He was sent by way of Tripoli, with instructions to accompany the caravan, which takes the most direct route into the interior. Being provided with letters from the Tripolitan ambassador, he obtained the Bey's permission, and even promises of assistance for this expedition. At the same time he made an arrangement with two sheerefs or descendants of the Prophet, whose persons are held sacred, to join a caravan with which they intended to travel. He proceeded with them to Mesuraba, but the Arabs there being in a state of rebellion, refused to furnish camels and guides, which, indeed, could scarcely be expected, as the Bey had declined to grant them a safe conduct through his territories. Mr. Lucas was therefore obliged to return to Tripoli, without being able to penetrate further into the continent. He learned, however, from Imhammed, one of the sheerefs, who had been an extensive traveller, a variety of particulars respecting the interior regions. The society had, at the same time, made very particular inquiries of Ben Ali, a Morocco caravan trader, who happened to be in London. From these two sources, Mr. Beaufoy was enabled to draw up a view of Centra. Africa, very imperfect, indeed, yet superior to any that had ever before appeared.
According to the information thus obtained, Bornou and Kashna were the most powerful states in that part of the continent, and formed even empires, holding sway over a number of tributary kingdoms, a statement which proved at that time to be correct, though affairs have since greatly changed. The Kashna caravan often crossed the Niger, and went onwards to great kingdoms behind the Gold Coast, Gongah or Kong, Asiente or Ashantee, Yarba or Yarriba, through which Clapperton afterwards travelled. Several extensive routes across the desert were also delineated. In regard to the Niger, the report of Imhammed revived the error, which represented that river as flowing westward towards the Atlantic. The reason on which this opinion was founded, will be evident, when we observe that it was in Kashna, that Ben Ali considered himself as having crossed that river. His Niger, therefore, was the Quarrama, or river of Zermie, which flows westward through Kashna and Sackatoo, and is only a tributary to the Quorra or great river, which we call the Niger. He describes the stream as very broad and rapid, probably from having seen it during the rainy season, when all the tropical rivers of any magnitude assume an imposing appearance.
Mr. Lucas made no further attempt to penetrate into Africa. The next expedition was made by a new agent, and from a different route. Major Houghton, who had resided for some years as consul at Morocco, and afterwards in a military capacity at Goree, undertook the attempt to reach the Niger by the route of Gambia, not, like Jobson and Stibbs, ascending its stream in boats, but travelling singly and by land. He seems to have been endowed with a gay, active, and sanguine spirit, fitted to carry him through the boldest undertaking, but without that cool and calculating temper necessary for him, who endeavours to make his way amid scenes of peril and treachery. He began his journey early in 1791, and soon reached Medina, the capital of Woolli, where the venerable chief received him with extreme kindness, promised to furnish guides, and assured him he might go to Timbuctoo with his staff in his hand. The only evil that befell him at Medina, arose from a fire that broke out there, and spreading rapidly through buildings roofed with cane and matted grass, converted a town of a thousand houses, in an hour, into a heap of ashes. Major Houghton ran out with the rest of the people into the fields, saving only such articles as could be carried with him.
He mentions, that by trading at Fattatenda, a person may make 800 per cent, and may live in plenty on ten pounds a year. Quitting the Gambia, he took the road through Bambouk, and arrived at Ferbanna on the Faleme. Here he was received with the most extraordinary kindness by the king, who gave him a guide and money to defray his expenses. A note was afterwards received from him, dated Simbing, which contained merely these words: "Major Houghton's compliments to Dr. Laidley, is in good health on his way to Timbuctoo; robbed of all his goods by Fenda, Bucar's son." This was the last communication from him, for soon after the negroes brought down to Pisania, the melancholy tidings of his death, of which Mr. Park subsequently learned the particulars. Some moors had persuaded the major to accompany them to Tisheet, a place in the great desert, frequented on account of its salt mines. In alluring him thither, their object, as it appears from the result, was to rob him, for it was very much out of the direct route to Timbuctoo. Of this in a few days he became sensible, and insisted upon returning, but they would not permit him to leave their party, until they had stripped him of every article in his possession. He wandered about for some time through the desert, without food or shelter, till at length quite exhausted, he sat down under a tree and expired. Mr. Park was shown the very spot where his remains wore abandoned to the fowls of the air.
A considerable degree of information respecting the country on the Senegal, was procured by a person of the name of Bruce, who had a large share in the administration of the affairs of the French African Companies. In one of his numerous journeys, he ascended the Senegal as far as Gallam, and established a fort or factory at Dramanet, a populous and commercial town. The inhabitants carried on a trade as far as Timbuctoo, which they described as situated 500 leagues in the interior. They imported from it gold and ivory, and slaves from Bambarra, which was represented by them, as an extensive region between Timbuctoo and Cassan, barren but very populous. The kingdom of Cassan was said to be formed into a sort of island, or rather peninsula, by the branches of the Senegal. Gold was so abundant there, that the metal often appeared on the surface of the ground. From these circumstances it may be concluded, that Cassan was in some degree confounded with Bambouk, which borders it on the south. It had long been the ambition of the French, to find access to this golden country, but the jealousy of the native merchants presented an obstacle, that could not be easily surmounted.
There is no Chapter IV as the following chapter was numbered
Chapter V by mistake.
Chapter V by mistake.
The death of Major Houghton left the African Association without a single individual employed in the particular service, for which the company was originally established. On a sudden, Mr. Mungo Park, a native of Scotland, offered himself to the society, and the committee having made such inquiries as they thought necessary, accepted him for the service.
His instructions were very plain and concise. He was directed, on his arrival in Africa, to pass on to the river Niger, either by the way of Bambouk, or by such other route as should be most convenient; that he should ascertain the cause, and if possible, the rise and termination of that river; that he should use his utmost exertion to visit the principal towns or cities in its neighbourhood, particularly Timbuctoo and Houssa, and that he should afterwards return to Europe, by such route as, under the then existing circumstances of his situation, should appear to him most advisable.
He sailed from Portsmouth on the 22nd of May, 1793, and on the 4th June, he saw the mountains over Mogadore, on the coast of Africa, and on the 21st, after a pleasant voyage, he anchored at Jillifree, a town on the northern bank of the Gambia, opposite to James' Island, where the English had formerly a small fort.
On the 23rd, he proceeded to Vintain, a town situated about two miles up a creek, on the southern side of the river. Here he continued till the 26th, when he continued his course up the river, which is deep and muddy. The banks are covered with impenetrable thickets of mangrove, and the whole of the adjacent country appears to be flat and swampy. The Gambia abounds with fish, but none of them are known in Europe. In six days after leaving Vintain, he reached Jonkakonda, a place of considerable trade, where the vessel was to take in part of her lading. The next morning the European traders came from their different factories, to receive their letters, and learn the nature and amount of the cargo; whilst the captain despatched a letter to Dr. Laidley, with the information of Mr. Park's arrival. Dr. Laidley came to Jonkakonda the morning following, when he delivered to him Mr. Beaufoy's letter, when the doctor gave him a kind invitation to spend his time at his house at Pisania, until an opportunity should offer of prosecuting his journey. This invitation was too acceptable to be refused.
Pisania is a small village in the king of Yany's dominions, established by British subjects, as a factory for trade, and inhabited solely by them and their black servants. The white residents at the time of Mr. Park's arrival, consisted only of Dr. Laidley and two gentlemen of the name of Ainsley, but their domestics were numerous. They enjoyed perfect security, and being highly respected by the natives at large, wanted no accommodation the country could supply, and the greatest part of the trade in slaves; ivory, and gold was in their hands.
Being settled in Pisania, Mr. Park's first object was to learn the Mandingo tongue, being the language in almost general use throughout this part of Africa, without which he was convinced he never could acquire an extensive knowledge of the country or its inhabitants. In this pursuit he was greatly assisted by Dr. Laidley, who had made himself completely master of it. Next to the language, his great object was to collect information concerning the countries he intended to visit. On this occasion he was referred to certain traders called slatees, who are black merchants of great consideration in this part of Africa, who come from the interior countries, chiefly with enslaved negroes for sale; but he discovered that little dependence could be placed on the accounts they gave, as they contradicted each other in the most important particulars, and all seemed extremely unwilling he should prosecute his journey.
In researches of this kind, and in observing the manners and customs of the natives, in a country so little known to the nations of Europe, and furnished with so many striking objects of nature, Mr. Park's time passed not unpleasantly, and he began to flatter himself that he had escaped the fever, to which Europeans, on their first arrival in hot climates, are generally subject. But on the 31st July, he imprudently exposed himself to the night dew, in observing an eclipse of the moon, with a view to determine the longitude of the place; the next day he found himself attacked with fever and delirium, and an illness followed, which confined him to the house the greater part of August. His recovery was very slow, but he embraced every short interval of convalescence to walk out and examine the productions of the country. In one of these excursions, having rambled farther than usual in a hot day, he brought on a return of his fever, and was again confined to his bed. The fever, however, was not so violent as before, and in the course of three weeks, when the weather permitted, he was able to renew his botanical excursions; and when it rained, he amused himself with drawing plants, &c. in his chamber. The care and attention of Dr. Laidley contributed greatly to alleviate his sufferings; his company beguiled the tedious hours during that gloomy season, when the rain falls in torrents, when suffocating heats oppress by day, and when the night is spent in listening to the croaking of frogs, the shrill cry of the jackal, and the deep howling of the hyena; a dismal concert, interrupted only by the roar of tremendous thunder.
On the 6th of October the waters of the Gambia were at their greatest height, being fifteen feet above the high water mark of the tide, after which they began to subside; at first slowly, but afterwards very rapidly, sometimes sinking more than a foot in twenty-four hours: by the beginning of November the river had sunk to its former level, and the tide ebbed and flowed as usual. When the river had subsided, and the atmosphere grew dry, Mr. Park recovered apace, and began to think of his departure; for this is reckoned the most proper season for travelling: the natives had completed their harvest, and provisions were everywhere cheap and plentiful.
On the 2nd December 1795, Mr. Park took his departure from the hospitable mansion of Dr. Laidley, being fortunately provided with a negro servant, who spoke both the English and Mandingo tongues; his name was Johnson: he was a native of that part of Africa, and having in his youth been conveyed to Jamaica as a slave, he had been made free, and taken to England by his master, where he had resided many years, and at length found his way back to his native country. He was also provided with a negro boy, named Demba, a sprightly youth, who, besides Mandingo, spoke the language of the Serawoollies, an inland people; and to induce him to behave well, he was promised his freedom on his return, in case the tourist should report favourably of his fidelity and services. A free man, named Madiboo, travelling to the kingdom of Bambara, and two slatees, going to Bondou, offered their services, as did likewise a negro, named Tami, a native of Kasson, who had been employed some years by Dr. Laidley as a blacksmith, and was returning to his native country with the savings of his labours. All these men travelled on foot, driving their asses before them.
Thus Mr. Park had no less than six attendants, all of whom had been taught to regard him with great respect, and to consider that their safe return hereafter to the countries on the Gambia, would depend on his preservation.
Dr. Laidley and the Messrs. Ainsley accompanied Park the two first days. They reached Jindy the same day, and rested at the house of a black woman, who had formerly been the mistress of Mr. Hewett, a white trader, and who, in consequence of that honour, was called Seniora. In the evening they walked out, to see an adjoining village, belonging to a slatee, named Jemaffoo Mamadoo, the richest of all the Gambia traders. They found him at home, and he thought so highly of the honour done him by this visit, that he presented them with a fine bullock, part of which was dressed for their evening's repast.
The negroes do not go to supper till late, and in order to amuse themselves while the beef was preparing, a Mandingo was desired to relate some diverting stories, in listening to which, and smoking tobacco, they spent three hours. These stories bear some resemblance to those in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, but in general are of a more ludicrous cast.
About one o'clock in the afternoon of the 3rd of December, Park took his leave of Dr. Laidley and Messrs. Ainsley, and rode slowly into the woods. He had now before him a boundless forest, and a country, the inhabitants of which were strangers to civilized life. He reflected that he had parted from the last European he might probably behold, and perhaps quitted for ever the comforts of Christian society. These thoughts necessarily cast a gloom over his mind, and he rode musing along for about three miles, when he was awakened from his reverie by a number of people, who, running up, stopped the asses, giving him to understand, that he must either go with them to Peckaba, to present himself to the king of Woolli, or pay customs to them. He endeavoured to make them comprehend, that not travelling for traffic, he ought not to be subjected to a tax like merchants, but his reasoning was thrown away upon them. They said it was usual for travellers of all descriptions to make a present to the king of Woolli, and without doing so, none could be permitted to proceed. As the party were numerous, he thought it prudent to comply with their demand, and presented them with four bars of tobacco. At sunset he reached a village near Kootacunda.
The next day entering Woolli, he stopped to pay customs to an officer of the king. Passing the night at a village called Tabajang: at noon the following day Park reached Medina, the capital of the king of Woolli's dominions. It is a large place, and contains at least a thousand houses. It is fortified in the common African manner by a high mud wall, and an outward fence of pointed stakes and prickly bushes, but the walls were neglected, and the outward fence had suffered considerably by being plucked up for fire-wood. Mr. Park obtained a lodging with one of the king's near relations, who warned him, at his introduction to the king, not to shake hands with him, that liberty not being allowed to strangers. With this salutary warning, Park paid his respects to Jatta, the king, and asked his permission to pass to Bondou. He was the same old man, of whom Major Houghton speaks in such favourable terms. The sovereign was seated before the door of his hovel, surrounded by a number of men and women, who were singing and clapping their hands. Park, saluting him respectfully, told him the object of his visit. The monarch not only permitted him to proceed on his journey, but declared he would offer prayers for his safe return. One of Mr. Park's attendants, to manifest his sense of the king's courtesy, roared out an Arabic song, at every pause of which the king himself, and all present, striking their hands against their foreheads, exclaimed, with affecting solemnity, Amen, Amen. The king further assured him, that a guide should be ready on the following day, to conduct him to the frontier of Bondou. Having taken leave, he sent the king an order upon Dr. Laidley for three gallons of rum, and received in return a great store of provisions.
December the 6th, early in the morning, on visiting Jatta, he found his majesty sitting upon a bullock's hide, warming himself before a large fire, for the Africans frequently feel cold when a European is oppressed with heat. Jatta received his visitant very kindly, and earnestly entreated him to advance no farther into the interior, telling him that Major Houghton had been killed in his route. He said that travellers must not judge of the people of the eastern country by those of Woolli. The latter were acquainted with white men, and respected them; whereas, in the east, the people had never seen one, and would certainly destroy the first they beheld. Park, thanking the king for his affectionate concern, told him he was determined, notwithstanding all danger, to proceed. The king shook his head, but desisted from further persuasion, and ordered the guide to hold himself in readiness.
On the guide making his appearance, Park took his last farewell of the good old king, and in three hours reached Konjour, a small village, where he and his party rested for the night. Here he bought a fine sheep for some beads, and his attendants killed it, with all the ceremonies prescribed by their religion. Part of it was dressed for supper, after which a dispute arose between one of the negroes and Johnson, the interpreter, about the sheep's horns. The former claimed the horns as his perquisite, as he had performed the office of butcher, and Johnson disputed the claim. To settle the matter, Mr. Park gave a horn to each of the litigants.
Leaving Konjour, and sleeping at a village called Malla, on the 8th he arrived at Kolor, a considerable town, near the entrance into which he saw hanging upon a tree, a sort of masquerade habit, made of the bark of trees, which he was told belonged to Mumbo Jumbo. The account of this personage is thus narrated by Mr. Park: "This is a strange bugbear, common to all the Mandingo towns, and much employed by the pagan natives in keeping their women in subjection, for as the kafirs are not restricted in the number of their wives, every one marries as many as he can maintain, and, as it frequently happens, that the ladies disagree among themselves, family quarrels rise sometimes to such a height, that the husband can no longer preserve peace in his household. In such cases, the interposition of Mumbo Jumbo is called in, and is always decisive."
This strange minister of justice, who is supposed to be either the husband himself, or some person instructed by him, disguised in the dress before mentioned, and armed with his rod of public authority, announces his coming by loud and continual screams in the woods near the town. He begins the pantomime at the approach of night, and, as soon as it is dark, enters the town, and proceeds to the bentang, at which all the inhabitants immediately assemble.
This exhibition is not much relished by the women, for as the person in disguise is unknown to them, every married female suspects the visit may be intended for herself, but they dare not refuse to appear, when they are summoned: and the ceremony commences with songs and dances, which continue till midnight, when Mumbo fixes on the offender. The victim, being immediately seized, is stripped naked, tied to a post, and severely scourged with Mumbo's rod, amidst the shouts and derisions of the assembly; and it is remarkable, that the rest of the women are loudest in their exclamations against their unhappy sister. Daylight puts an end to this indecent and unmanly revel.
On the 9th of December, Park reached Tambacunda, leaving which the next morning, he arrived in the evening at Kooniakary, a town of nearly the same size and extent as Kolor. On the 11th he came to Koojar, the frontier town of Woolli near Bondou.
King Jatta's guide being now to return, Park presented him with some amber, and having been informed that it was not possible at all times to procure water in the wilderness, he inquired for men, who would serve both as guides and water-bearers, and he procured three negroes, elephant hunters, for that service, paying them three bars each in advance.
The inhabitants of Koojar beheld the white man with surprise and veneration, and in the evening invited him to see a neobering, or wrestling match, in the bentang. This is an exercise very common in all these countries. The spectators formed a ring round the wrestlers, who were strong, active young men, full of emulation, and accustomed to such contests. Being stripped to a short pair of drawers, and having their skin anointed with oil or Shea water, the combatants approached, each on all fours, parrying for some time, till at length one of them sprang forward, and caught his antagonist by the knee. Great dexterity and judgment were now displayed, but the combat was decided by strength. Few Europeans would have subdued the conqueror. The wrestlers were animated by the sound of a drum.
After the wrestling, commenced a dance, in which many performers assisted, provided with little bells fastened to their legs and arms, and here also the drum assisted their movements. The drum likewise keeps order among the spectators, by imitating the sound of certain Mandingo sentences; for example, when the sport is about to begin, the drummer strikes, which is understood to signify, Ali boe si, "sit all down," upon which the lookers-on immediately squat themselves on the ground, and when the combatants are to begin, he strikes, Amuta, amuta, "take hold, take hold."
In the morning of the 12th, he found that one of the elephant hunters had absconded with the money he had received beforehand; and to prevent the other two from following his example, Park made them instantly fill their calabashes with water, and they entered the wilderness that separates Woolli from Bondou. The attendants halted to prepare a saphie or charm, to ensure a safe journey. This was done by muttering a few sentences, and spitting upon a stone, thrown before them on the road. Having repeated this operation three times, the negroes proceeded with assurance off safety.
Riding along, they came to a large tree, called by the natives neema taba. It was decorated with innumerable rags of cloth, which persons travelling across the wilderness had at different times tied to the branches, which was done, according to the opinion of Mr. Park, to inform the traveller that water was to be found near it; but the custom has been so sanctioned by time, that nobody now presumes to pass without hanging up something. Park followed the example, and suspended a handsome piece of cloth on one of the boughs; and being informed that either a well or a pool of water was at no great distance, he ordered the negroes to unload the asses, that they might give them some corn, and regale themselves with the provisions, which they had brought, meanwhile he sent one of the elephant hunters to look for the well. A pool was found, but the water was thick and muddy, and the negro discovered near it the remains of fire and fragments of provisions, which showed that it had been lately visited, either by travellers or banditti. The attendants, apprehending the latter, and supposing that the robbers lurked at no great distance, Mr. Park proceeded to another watering place. He arrived there late in the, evening, fatigued with so long a day's journey; and kindling a large fire, laid down, more than a gunshot from any bush, the negroes agreeing to keep watch by turns, to prevent surprise. The negroes were indeed very apprehensive of banditti during the whole of the journey. As soon, therefore, as daylight appeared, they filled their soofros and calabashes at the pool, took their departure, and arrived at Tallika, the first town in Bondou, on the 13th December. Mr. Park says, that he cannot take leave of Woolli without observing, that he was every where well received by the natives, and that the fatigues of the day were generally alleviated by a hearty welcome at night.
Tallika, the frontier town of Bondou towards Woolli, is inhabited chiefly by the Mohammedan Foulahs, who acquire no inconsiderable affluence by furnishing provisions to the coffles or caravans, and by the sale of ivory from hunting elephants. Here an officer constantly resides, whose business it is to watch the arrival of the caravans, which are taxed according to the number of loaded asses.
Mr. Park lodged with this officer, and was accompanied by him to Fatteconda, the king's residence, for which he was paid five bars. They halted for the first night at Ganado, where they partook of a good supper, and were further exhilarated by an itinerant musician, or singing man, who told a number of entertaining stories, and played some sweet airs, by blowing his breath upon a bow-string, and striking it at the same time with a stick.
At daybreak Mr. Park's fellow-travellers, the Serawoollies, took their leave, with many prayers for his safety. A mile from Ganado they crossed a branch of the Gambia, called Neriko, and in the evening reached Koorkarany, a Mohammedan town, in which the blacksmith had some relations. Koorkarany is surrounded by a high wall, and is provided with a mosque. Here a number of Arabic manuscripts were shown to Mr. Park, particularly a copy of the book called Al Sharra. Leaving Koorkarany, they were joined by a young man, who was travelling to Fatteconda for salt, and as night set in, they reached Dooggi, a small village about three miles from Koorkarany. There they purchased a bullock for six small stones of amber.
Early in the morning of the 18th December, they departed from Dooggi, joined by a party of Foulahs and others, in the evening arrived at a village called Buggil, and passed the night in a miserable hut, having no other bed than a bundle of corn stalks. The wells are here dug with great ingenuity, and are very deep. From Buggil they travelled along a dry, stony height, covered with mimosas, and descended into a deep valley, in which, pursuing their course, they came to a large village, where they intended to lodge. Many of the natives were dressed in a thin French gauze, which they called byqui; this being a dress calculated to show the shape of their persons, was very fashionable among the women. These females were extremely rude and troublesome; they took Mr. Park's cloak, cut the buttons from the boy's clothes, and were proceeding to other outrages, when he mounted his horse, and proceeded on his journey. In the evening they reached Soobrudooka, and as the company were numerous, they purchased a sheep and corn wherewith to regale themselves, after which, they slept by their baggage. From Soobrudooka they came to a large village on the banks of the Faleme, which is here very rapid and rocky. The river abounds with a small fish, of the size of sprats, which are prepared for sale by pounding them in mortars, and exposing them to dry in the sun in large lumps.
An old moorish shereeff, who came to bestow his blessing on Mr. Park, and beg some paper to write saphies upon, said that he had seen Major Houghton in the kingdom of Kaarta, and that he died in the country of the moors. Mr. Park and some of his attendants gave him a few sheets of paper, on which to write his charms. Proceeding northward along the banks of the river, they arrived at Mayemow, the chief man of which town presented Mr. Park with a bullock, and he in return gave him some amber and beads. Crossing the river, they entered Fatteconda, the capital of Bondou, and received an invitation from a slatee to lodge at his house, for as in Africa there are no inns, strangers stand at the Bentang, or market-place, till they are invited by some of the inhabitants. Soon afterwards, Mr. Park was conducted to the king, who was desirous of seeing him immediately, if he was not too much fatigued for the interview.
He took his interpreter with him, and followed the messenger till they were quite out of the town, when suspecting some trick, Mr. Park stopped and asked his guide, whither he was going?—Upon this, he pointed to a man sitting under a tree at some little distance, and told him that the king frequently gave audience in that retired manner, in order to avoid a crowd of people. When he advanced, the king desired him to come and sit by him upon the mat, and after hearing his story, on which he made no observation, he inquired of Mr. Park, if he wished to purchase any slaves or gold. Being answered in the negative, he seemed surprised, but desired him to visit him again in the evening, that he might be supplied with some provisions.
This prince was called Almami, and was a pagan. It was reported that he had caused Major Houghton to be plundered. His behaviour, therefore, at this interview, although distinguished by greater civility than was expected, caused Mr. Park some uneasiness, for as he was now entirely in his power, he thought it more politic to conciliate the good opinion of the monarch, by a few presents. Accordingly, in the evening, Mr. Park took with him a canister of gunpowder, some amber, tobacco, and an umbrella; and as he considered that his bundles would inevitably be searched, he concealed some few articles in the roof of the hut where he lodged, putting on his new blue coat, in order to preserve it.
Mr. Park on coming to the entrance of the court, as well as his guide and interpreter, according to custom, took off their sandals, and the former pronounced the king's name aloud, repeating it till he was answered from within. They found the monarch sitting upon a mat, and two attendants with him. Mr. Park told him his reasons for passing through his country, but his majesty did but seem half satisfied. He thought it impossible, he said, that any man in his senses would undertake so dangerous a journey, merely to look at the country and its inhabitants. When, however, Mr. Park had delivered his presents, his majesty seemed well pleased, and was particularly delighted with the umbrella, which he repeatedly furled and unfurled, to the great admiration of himself and his two attendants, who could not for some time comprehend the use of this wonderful machine. After this, Mr. Park was about to take his leave, when the king began a long preamble in favour of the whites, extolling their immense wealth and good dispositions. He next proceeded to an eulogium on Mr. Park's blue coat, of which the yellow buttons seemed particularly to please his fancy, and he concluded by entreating Mr. Park to present him with it, assuring him, as a matter of great consolation to him for the loss of it, that he would wear it on all public occasions, and inform every one who saw it, of the great liberality of Mr. Park towards him. The request of an African prince, in his own dominions, comes very little short of a command. Mr. Park, therefore, very quietly took off his coat, the only good one in his possession, and laid it at his feet. In return for his compliance, he presented Mr. Park with great plenty of provisions, and desired to see him again in the morning. Mr. Park accordingly attended, and found the king sitting on his bed. His majesty told him he was sick, and wished to have a little blood taken from him, but Mr. Park had no sooner tied up his arm, and displayed the lancet, than his courage failed, and he begged him to postpone the operation. He then observed, that his women were very desirous to see him, and requested that he would favour them with a visit. An attendant was ordered to conduct him, and he had no sooner entered the court appropriated to the ladies, than the whole seraglio surrounded him, some begging for physic, some for amber, and all of them trying that great African specific, blood-letting. They were ten or twelve in number, most of them young and handsome, and wearing on their heads ornaments of gold and beads of amber. They rallied him on the whiteness of his skin and the prominency of his nose. They insisted that both were artificial, the first they said, was produced when he was an infant, by dipping him in milk, and they insisted that his nose had been pinched every day, till it had acquired its present unsightly and unnatural conformation. On his part, without disputing his own deformity, he paid them many compliments on African beauty. He praised the glossy jet of their skins, and the lovely depression of their noses; but they said, that flattery, or as they emphatically termed it, honey-mouth, was not esteemed in Bondou. The ladies, however, were evidently not displeased, for they presented him with a jar of honey and some fish.
Mr. Park was desired to attend the king again, a little before sunset, on which occasion he presented to his majesty some beads and writing paper, as a small offering, in return for which the king gave him five drachms of gold. He seconded the act by one still greater, he suffered the baggage to pass without examination, and Mr. Park was allowed to depart when he pleased.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 23d, Mr. Park left Fatteconda, and in a few hours arrived at a small village, the boundary between Bondou and Kajaaga. Hearing it was dangerous for travellers, Mr. Park resolved to proceed by night, until they should reach a more hospitable part of the country, and directed their course through the woods. On this occasion, Mr. Park says, "the stillness of the air, the howling of the wild beasts, and the deep solitude of the forest, made the scene solemn and impressive. Not a word was uttered by any of us, but in a whisper; all were attentive, and every one anxious to show his sagacity, by pointing out to me the wolves and hyenas, as they glided, like shadows, from one thicket to another." The following afternoon they arrived at Joag, in the kingdom of Kajaaga, where they took up their abode at the house of the chief man, here called the dooty. He was a rigid Mohammedan, but distinguished for his hospitality. The town was supposed to contain about two thousand inhabitants; it was surrounded by a high wall, in which were a number of port-holes for musketry. Every man's possession was likewise surrounded by a wall, the whole forming so many distinct citadels, and, amongst a people unacquainted with the use of artillery, the walls answer all the purposes of stronger fortifications.
The same evening, Madiboo, the Bushreen from Pisania, went to pay a visit to his father and mother, who dwelt at a neighbouring town, called Dramanet. He was joined by the blacksmith; and as soon as it was dark, Mr. Park was invited to see the sports of the inhabitants. A great crowd surrounded a dancing party; the dances, however, consisted more in wanton gestures, than in muscular exertion or graceful attitudes. The women vied with each other in displaying the most voluptuous movements imaginable.
On the 25th December, early in the morning, a number of horsemen entered the town, and came to the bentang on which Mr. Park had made his bed. One of them, thinking he was asleep, attempted to steal his musket; but finding that he could not effect his purpose undiscovered, he desisted.
Mr. Park now perceived, by the countenance of the interpreter, Johnson, that something bad was in agitation; he was also surprised to see Madiboo, and the blacksmith so soon returned. On inquiring the reason, Madiboo informed him, that as they were dancing at Dramanet, ten horsemen belonging to Batcheri, the king, with his second son at their head, had inquired if the white man had passed. The ten horsemen mentioned by Madiboo arrived, and entering the bentang dismounted, and seated themselves with those who had come before, the whole being about twenty in number, forming a circle round him, and each man holding his musket in his hand. Mr. Park now remarked to his landlord, that as he did not understand the Serawoolii tongue, he hoped whatever the men had to say, they would speak in Mandingo. To this they agreed, and a man, loaded with a remarkable number of saphies, opened the business in a long oration, purporting that the white man had entered the king's town, without having first paid the duties, or giving any present to the king, and that according to the laws of the country, his people, cattle and baggage were forfeited, and he added, that they had received orders from the king, to conduct Mr. Park to Mauna. It would have been equally vain and imprudent to have resisted or irritated such a body of men, he, therefore, affected to comply with their demands. The poor blacksmith, who was a native of Kasson, mistook this feigned compliance for a real intention, and begged Mr. Park privately, that he would not entirely ruin him by going to Mauna, adding, that as he had every reason to believe that a war would soon take place between Kasson and Kajaaga, he should not only lose his little property, the savings of four years' industry, but should certainly be detained and sold as a slave.
Mr. Park told the king's son, he was ready to go with him upon condition, that the blacksmith, who was an inhabitant of a distant kingdom, and entirely unconnected with him, should be allowed to stay at Joag until his return. To this they all objected, and insisted that as all had acted contrary to the laws, all were equally answerable for their transgressions.
Their landlord strenuously advised Mr. Park not to go to the king, who, he said, if he discovered any thing valuable in his possession, would seize it without ceremony. In consequence of this representation, Mr. Park was the more solicitous to conciliate matters with the king's officers, and acknowledged that he had indeed entered the king's frontiers, without knowing that he was to pay the duties beforehand, but was ready to pay them then; accordingly he tendered, as a present to the king, the drachms of gold, which he had received from the king of Bondou; this they accepted, but insisted on examining his baggage. The bundles were opened, but the men were greatly disappointed in not finding much gold and amber: they made up the deficiency, however, by taking whatever things they fancied, and departed, having first robbed him of half his goods. These proceedings tended, in a great degree, to dispirit the attendants of Mr. Park. Madiboo begged of him to return; Johnson laughed at the thoughts of proceeding without money, and the blacksmith was afraid to be seen, or even to speak, lest any one should discover him to be a native of Kasson. In this dejected state of mind, they passed the night by the side of a dim fire.
In the course of the following day Mr. Park was informed, that a nephew of Demba Sego Jalla, the Mandingo king of Kasson, was coming to visit him. The prince had been sent out on a mission to Batcheri, king of Kajaaga, to endeavour to settle some disputes between his uncle and the latter, in which, having been unsuccessful, he was on his return to Kasson, to which place he offered to conduct Mr. Park, provided he would set out on the following morning.
Mr. Park gratefully accepted this offer, and, with his attendants, was ready to set out by daylight on the 27th of December. The retinue of Demba Sego was numerous, the whole amounting, on the departure from Joag, to thirty persons and six loaded asses. Having proceeded for some hours, they came to a tree, for which Johnson had made frequent inquiry, and here, having desired them to stop, he produced a white chicken he had purchased at Joag for the purpose, and tied it by the leg to one of the branches; he then declared they might now proceed without fear, for their journey would be prosperous. This circumstance exhibits the power of superstition over the minds of the negroes, for although this man had resided seven years in England, he retained all the prejudices imbibed in his youth. He meant this ceremony, he told Mr. Park, as an offering to the spirits of the wood, who were a powerful race of beings, of a white colour, with long flowing hair.
At noon the travellers stopped at Gungadi, where was a mosque built of clay, with six turrets, on the pinnacles of which were placed six ostrich eggs. Towards evening they arrived at Samee a town on the banks of the Senegal, which is here a beautiful but shallow river, its banks high, and covered with verdure.
On the following day they proceeded to Kajee, a large village, part of which is on the north, and part on the south side of the river. About sunset Mr. Park and Demba Sego embarked in the canoe, which the least motion was likely to overset, and Demba Sego thinking this a proper time to examine a tin box belonging to Mr. Park, that stood in the fore part of the canoe, by stretching out his hand for it, destroyed the equilibrium and overset the vessel. As they were not far advanced, they got back to the shore without much difficulty, and after wringing the water from their clothes, took a fresh departure, and were safely landed in Kasson.
Demba Sego now told Mr. Park, that they were in his uncle's dominions, and he hoped that he would consider the obligation he owed to him, and make him a suitable return by a handsome present. This proposition was rather unexpected by Mr. Park, who began to fear that he had not much improved his condition by crossing the water, but as it would have been folly to complain, he gave the prince seven bars of amber and some tobacco, with which he seemed well satisfied.
In the evening of December the 29th, they arrived at Demba Sego's hut, and the next morning Mr. Park was introduced by the prince to his father, Tigitty Sego, brother to the king of Kasson, chief of Tesee. The old man viewed his visitor with great earnestness, having never beheld but one white man before, whom Mr. Park discovered to be Major Houghton. He appeared to disbelieve what Mr. Park asserted, in answer to his inquiries concerning the motives that induced him to explore the country, and told him that he must go to Kooniakary to pay his respects to the king, but desired to see him again before he left Tesee.
Tesee is a large unwalled town, fortified only by a sort of citadel, in which Tiggity Sego and his family reside. The present inhabitants, though possessing abundance of cattle and corn, eat without scruple rats, moles, squirrels, snakes, locusts, &c. The attendants of Mr. Park were one evening invited to a feast, where making a hearty meal of what they thought to be fish and kouskous, one of them found a piece of hard skin in the dish, which he brought away with him, to show Mr. Park what sort of fish they had been eating. On examining the skin, it was discovered they had been feasting on a large snake. Another custom, which is rigidly adhered to, is, that no woman is allowed to eat an egg, and nothing will more affront a woman of Tesee than to offer her an egg. The men, however, eat eggs without scruple.
The following anecdote will show, that in some particulars the African and European women have a great resemblance to each other, and that conjugal infidelity is by no means confined to the latter. A young man, a kafir of considerable affluence, who had recently married a young and handsome wife, applied to a very devout Bushreen or Mussulman priest of his acquaintance, to procure him saphies for his protection during the approaching war. The Bushreen complied with his request, and to render the saphies more efficacious, enjoined the young man to avoid any nuptial intercourse with his bride for the space of six weeks. The kafir obeyed, and without telling his wife the real cause, absented himself from her company. In the mean time it was whispered that the Bushreen, who always performed his evening devotions at the door of the kafir's hut, was more intimate with the young wife, than was consistent with virtue, or the sanctity of his profession. The husband was unwilling to suspect the honour of his sanctified friend, whose outward show of religion, as is the case with the priests and parsons of the civilized part of the world, protected him from even the suspicion of so flagitious an act. Some time, however, elapsed before any jealousy arose in the mind of the husband, but hearing the charge repeated, he interrogated his wife on the subject, who confessed that the holy man had seduced her. Hereupon the kafir put her into confinement, and called a palaver on the Bushreen's conduct, which Mr. Park was invited to attend. The fact was proved against the priest, and he was sentenced to be sold into slavery, or find two slaves for his redemption, according to the pleasure of the complainant. The injured husband, however, desired rather to have him publicly flogged, before Tiggity Sego's gate; this was agreed to, and the sentence immediately carried into execution. The culprit was tied by the hands to a strong stake, and the executioner with a long black rod round his head, for some time applied it with such dexterity to the Bushreen's back, as to make him roar until the woods resounded. The multitude, by their looking and laughing, manifested how much they enjoyed the punishment of the old gallant, and it is remarkable, that the number of stripes was exactly the same as enjoined by the Mosaic law, forty, save one.
On the 8th of January, Demba Sego, who had borrowed Mr. Park's horse, for the purpose of making a small excursion into the country, returned and informed his father, that he should set out for Kooniakary early the next day. The old man made many frivolous objections, and gave Mr. Park to understand, that he must not depart without paying him the duties to which he was entitled from all travellers; besides which, he expected some acknowledgment for his kindness towards him. Accordingly, the following morning Demba Sego, with a number of people, came to Mr. Park, to see what goods he intended as a present to the old chief. Mr. Park offered them seven bars of amber, and five of tobacco, but Demba, having surveyed these articles, very coolly told him they were not a present suitable to a man of Tiggity Sego's consequence, and if he did not make him a larger offering, he would carry all the baggage to his father, and let him choose for himself. Without waiting for a reply, Demba and his attendants immediately opened the bundles, and spread the different articles upon the floor; everything that pleased them they took without a scruple, and Demba in particular seized the tin box, which had so much attracted his attention in crossing the river. Upon collecting the remains of his little fortune, after these people had left him, Mr. Park found, that as at Joag, he had been plundered of half, so he was here deprived of half the remainder. Having been under some obligations to Demba Sego, Mr. Park did not reproach him for his rapacity, but determined at all events to quit Tesee the following morning; in the mean while, to raise the drooping spirits of his attendants, he purchased a fat sheep, and had it dressed for dinner.
Early in the morning of January the 10th, Mr. Park and his company left Tesee, and about midday came in sight of the hills in the vicinity of Kooniakary. Having slept at a small village, the next morning they crossed a narrow but deep stream, called Krisko, a branch of the Senegal. Proceeding eastward, about two o'clock they came in sight of the native town of Jambo, the blacksmith, from which he had been absent about four years. He was received with the greatest affection by his relations, but he declared that he would not quit Mr. Park during his stay at Kooniakary, and they set out for that place in the morning of the 14th January. About the middle of the day, they arrived at Soolo, a small village about three miles to the south of it, where Mr. Park went to visit a slatee, named Salim Daucari, who had entrusted him with effects to the value of five slaves, and had given Mr. Park an order for the whole of the debt. The slatee received his visitors with great kindness. It was, however, remarkable that the king of Kasson was by some means apprised of the motions of Mr. Park, for he had not been many hours at Soolo, when Sambo Sego, the second son of the king of Kasson, came thither with a party of horse, to inquire what had prevented him from proceeding to Kooniakary, and waiting upon the king, who he said was impatient to see him. Salim Daucari apologised for Mr. Park, and promised to accompany him to Kooniakary. They accordingly departed from Soolo at sunset, and in about an hour entered Kooniakary, but as the king had gone to sleep, the interview was deferred till the next morning, and the travellers slept in the hut of Sambo Sego.
On the ensuing morning Mr. Park went to have an audience of King Demba Sego Jalla, but the crowd of people that were assembled to see him was so great, that he could scarcely gain admittance; he at length arrived in the presence of the monarch, whom he found sitting upon a mat in a large hut: he appeared to be about sixty years of age. He surveyed Mr. Park with great attention, and on being made acquainted with the object of his journey, the good old king was perfectly satisfied, and promised him every assistance in his power. He said that he had seen Major Houghton, and presented him with a white horse, but that after passing the kingdom of Kaarta, he had lost his life among the moors, but in what manner he was utterly ignorant. The audience being ended, Mr. Park returned to his lodging, where he made up a small present for the king, who sent him in return a large white bullock.
Although the king was well disposed towards Mr. Park, the latter soon discovered that very great and unexpected obstacles were likely to impede his progress. A war was on the eve of breaking out between Kasson and Kajaaga; the kingdom of Kaarta, through which his route lay, being involved in the issue, and was also threatened with hostilities by Bambarra. Taking these circumstances into consideration, the king advised Mr. Park to remain in the vicinity of Kooniakary, till some decisive information could be obtained of the state of the belligerents, which was expected to be received in four or live days. Mr. Park readily submitted to this proposal, and returned to Soolo, where he received from Salim Daucari, on Dr. Laidley's account, the value of three slaves, chiefly in gold dust.
Being anxious to proceed as soon as possible, Mr. Park begged Daucari to use his interest with the king, to procure him a guide by the way of Foolado, as it was reported that the war had commenced. Daucari accordingly set out for Kooniakary on the morning of the 20th, and the same evening returned with an answer from the king, stating that his majesty had made an agreement with the king of Kaarta, to send all merchants and travellers through his dominions, but if Mr. Park wished to take the route of Foolado, the king gave him permission to do so, though he could not consistently with his agreement send him a guide. In consequence of this answer, Mr. Park determined to wait till he could pass through Kaarta without danger.
In the interim, however, it was whispered abroad, that the white man had received abundance of gold from Salim Daucari, and on the morning of the 23rd, Sambo Sego paid Mr. Park a visit, attended by a party of horsemen, and insisted upon knowing the exact amount of the money which he had received, declaring at the same time, that one half of it must go to the king; that he himself must have a handsome present, as being the king's son, and his attendants, as being the king's relations. Mr. Park was preparing to submit to this arbitrary exaction, when Salim Daucari interposed, and at last prevailed upon Sambo to accept sixteen bars of European merchandize, and some powder and ball, as a complete payment of every demand that could be made in the kingdom of Kasson.
Mr. Park resided at Soolo for several days, occasionally visiting surrounding country, and he reports that the number of towns and villages, and the extensive cultivation around them, surpassed every thing he had yet seen in Africa.
The king of Kasson having now obtained information, that the war had not yet commenced between Bambarra and Kaarta, and that Mr. Park might probably pass through the latter country before the Bambarra army invaded it, sent two guides early on the morning of the 3rd of February, to conduct him to the frontiers. He accordingly took leave of Salim Daucari, and Jambo the blacksmith, and about ten o'clock departed from Soolo. In the afternoon of the 4th, they reached Kimo, a large village, the residence of Madi Konko, governor of the hilly country of Kasson, which is called Soromma.
At Kimo, the guides, appointed by the king of Kasson, left Mr. Park, and he waited at this place till the 7th, when he departed, with Madi Konko's son as a guide. On the 8th of February they travelled over a rough stony country, and, having passed a number of villages, arrived at Lackarago, a small village standing upon the ridge of hills that separates Kasson from Kaarta. The following morning they left Lackarago, and soon perceived, towards the south-east, the mountains of Fooladoo. Proceeding with great difficulty down a stony and abrupt precipice, they continued their way in a dry bed of a river, where the trees, meeting over head, made the place dark and cool. About ten o'clock they reached the sandy plains of Kaarta, and at noon came to a watering place, where a few strings of beads purchased as much milk and corn meal as they could eat. Provisions were here so plentiful, that the shepherds seldom asked any return for the refreshment a traveller required. At sunset the travellers reached Feesurah, where they rested.Mr. Park and his attendants remained at Feesurah, during the whole of the following day, for the purpose of learning more exactly the situation of affairs, before they ventured further. Their landlord asked so exorbitant a sum for their lodging, that Mr. Park refused to submit to his demand, but his attendants, frightened at the reports of approaching war, would not proceed unless he was satisfied, and persuaded him to accompany them to Kemmoo for their protection on the road. This Mr. Park accomplished by presenting his host with a blanket to which he had taken a liking.
Matters being thus amicably adjusted, our travellers again set out on the 11th, preceded by their landlord of Feesurah on horseback. This man was one of those negroes who observe the ceremonial part of Mahometanism, but retain all their pagan superstitions, and even drink strong liquors; they are called Johars or Jowers, and are very numerous in Kaarta. When the travellers had got into a lonely wood, he made a sign for them to stop, and taking hold of a hollow niece of bamboo, that hung as an amulet round his neck, whistled very loudly three times. Mr. Park began to suspect it was a signal for some of his associates to attack the travellers, but the man assured him it was done to ascertain the successful event of their journey. He then dismounted, laid his spear across the road and having said several short prayers, again gave three loud whistles; after which he listened, as if expecting an answer, but receiving none, said they might proceed without fear, for no danger actually existed.
On the morning of the 12th, they departed from Karan Kalla, and it being but a short day's journey to Kemmoo, they travelled slower than usual, and amused themselves by collecting eatable fruits near the road side. Thus engaged, Mr. Park had wandered a short distance from his people, when two negro horsemen, armed with muskets, came galloping from the thickets. On seeing them, he made a full stop; the horsemen did the same, and all three seemed equally surprised and confounded. As he approached them, their fears increased, and one casting upon him a look of horror, rode off at full speed; while the other, in a panic of fear, put his hand over his eyes, and continued muttering prayers, till his horse, apparently without his knowledge, slowly conveyed him after his companion. About a mile to the westward they fell in with Mr. Park's attendants, to whom they related a frightful story: their fears had dressed him in the flowing robes of a tremendous spirit, and one of them affirmed, that a blast of wind, cold as water, poured down upon him from the sky, while he beheld the dreadful apparition.
About two o'clock, Mr. Park entered the capital of Kaarta, which is situate in the midst of an open plain, the country for two miles round being cleared of wood. They immediately proceeded to the king's residence, and Mr. Park, being surrounded by the astonished multitude, did not attempt to dismount, but sent in the landlord of Feesurah, and Madi Konko's son, to acquaint his majesty of his arrival. The king replied, that he would see the stranger in the evening, and ordered an attendant to procure him a lodging, and prevent annoyance from the crowd. Mr. Park was conducted into a large hut, in which he had scarcely seated himself, than the mob entered, it being found impossible to keep them out, and when one party had seen him, and asked a few questions, they retired, and another succeeded, party after party, during the greater part of the day.
The king, whose name was Koorabarri, now sent for Mr. Park, who followed the messenger through a number of courts, surrounded with high walls. Mr. Park was astonished at the number of the king's attendants: they were all seated, the men on the king's right hand, and the women and children on the left. The king was not distinguished from his subjects by any superiority of dress, being seated on a leopard's skin, spread upon a bank of earth, about two feet high. Mr. Park seated himself upon the ground before him, and relating the causes that induced him to pass through his country, solicited his protection. The king replied, that he could at present afford him but little assistance, all communication between Kaarta and Bambarra being cut off; and Monsong, king of Bambarra, with his army on his march to Kaarta, there was little hope of reaching Bambarra by the direct route, for coming from an enemy's country, he would certainly be plundered or taken for a spy. Under these circumstances he did not wish him to remain at Kaarta, but advised him to return to Kasson till the war was at an end, when, if he survived the contest, he would bestow every attention on the traveller, but if he should fall, his sons would take him under their care.
Mr. Park dreaded the thoughts of passing the rainy season in the interior of Africa, and was averse to return to Europe, without having made further discoveries, he therefore rejected the well-meant advice of the king, and requested his majesty to allow a man to accompany him as near the frontiers of Kaarta as was consistent with safety. The king, finding he was resolved to proceed, told him that one route, though not wholly free from danger, still remained, which was first to go into the Moorish kingdom of Luda-mar, and thence by a circuitous route to Jarra, the frontier town of Ludamar. He then inquired of Mr. Park how he had been treated since he left the Gambia, and jocularly asked him how many slaves he expected to take home with him on his return. He was, however interrupted by the arrival of a man mounted on a fine moorish horse covered with sweat and foam, who having something of importance to communicate, the king immediately took up his sandals, which is the signal for strangers to retire. Mr. Park accordingly took leave, but afterwards learned that this messenger was one of the scouts employed to watch the motions of the enemy, and had brought intelligence that the Bambarra army was approaching Kaarta.
In the evening the king sent to the stranger a fine sheep, a very acceptable gift, as they had not broken their fast during the whole of the day. At this time, evening prayers were announced, by beating on drums, and blowing through hollowed elephants' teeth; the sound of which was melodious, and nearly resembled the human voice. On the following morning, Mr. Park sent his horse-pistols and holsters as a present to the king, and informed him that he wished to leave Kemmoo as soon as he could procure a guide. In about an hour the king returned thanks for his present, and sent a party of horsemen to conduct him to Jarra. On that night he slept at a village called Marena, where, during the night, some thieves broke into the hut where the baggage was deposited, cut open one of Mr. Park's bundles, and stole a quantity of beads, part of his clothes, some amber and gold. The following day was far advanced before they recommenced their journey, and the excessive heat obliged them to travel but slowly. In the evening they arrived at the village of Toorda, when all the king's people turned back with the exception of two, who remained to guide Mr. Park and his attendants to Jarra.
On the 15th of February they departed from Toorda, and about two o'clock came to a considerable town called Funing-kedy, where being informed that the road to Jarra was much infested by the moors, and that a number of people were going to that town on the following day, Mr. Park resolved to stay and accompany them. Accordingly in the afternoon of the 17th of February, accompanied by thirty people, he left Funing-kedy, it being necessary to travel in the night to avoid the moorish banditti. At midnight they stopped near a small village, but the thermometer being so low as 68°, none of the negroes could sleep on account of the cold. They resumed their journey at daybreak, and in the morning passed Simbing, the frontier village of Ludamar.
From this village Major Houghton wrote his last letter, with a pencil, to Dr. Laidley, having been deserted by his negro servants, who refused to follow him into the moorish country. This brave but unfortunate man, having surmounted many difficulties, had endeavoured to pass through the kingdom of Ludamar, where Mr. Park learned the following particulars concerning his fate. On his arrival at Jarra, he got acquainted with some moorish merchants, who were travelling to Tisheel, a place celebrated for its salt pits in the great desert, for the purpose of purchasing salt. It is supposed that the moors deceived him, either in regard to the route he wished to pursue, or the state of the country between Jarra and Timbuctoo, and their intention probably was to rob and leave him in the desert. At the end of two days he suspected their treachery, and insisted on returning to Jarra. Finding him to persist in this determination, the moors robbed him of every thing he possessed, and went off with their camels; the major, being thus deserted, returned on foot to a watering place called Tarra. He had been some days without food, and the unfeeling moors refusing to give him any, he sunk at last under his distresses. Whether he actually perished of hunger, or was murdered by the savage Mahometans, is not certainly known. His body was dragged into the woods, and Mr. Park was shown at a distance, the spot where his remains were left to perish.
Leaving Simbing, the travellers arrived in safety at Jarra, which is a large town situate at the bottom of rocky hills; the houses being built of clay and stones intermixed, the former answering the purpose of mortar. It forms part of the moorish kingdom of Ludamar, but the majority of the inhabitants are negroes, who purchase a precarious protection from the moors, in order to avert their depredations.
On Mr. Park's arrival at Jarra, he obtained a lodging at the house of Daman Jumma, a Gambia slatee, to whom he had an order from Dr. Laidley for a debt of the value of six slaves. Daman readily acknowledged the debt, but said he was afraid he could not pay more than two slaves' value. He was, however, very useful to Mr. Park, by procuring his beads and amber to be exchanged for gold, which being more portable, was more easily concealed from the moors.
The difficulties, which they had already encountered, and the savage deportment of the moors, had completely frightened Mr. Park's attendants, and they declared they would not proceed one step further to the eastward. In this situation, Mr. Park applied to Daman, to obtain from Ali, king of Ludamar, a safe conduct into Bambarra, and he hired one of Daman's slaves to guide him thither, as soon as the passport should be obtained. A messenger was despatched to Ali, then encamped near Benown, and Mr. Park sent that prince, as a present, five garments of cotton cloth purchased from Daman. On the 26th of February, one of Ali's slaves arrived, as he said, to conduct Mr. Park as far as Goomba, and demanded one garment of blue cotton cloth for his attendance. About this time the negro boy Demba declared, that he would never desert his master, although he wished that he would turn back, to which he was strongly recommended by Johnson, who had declared his reluctance to proceed.
On the following day, Mr. Park delivered a copy of his papers to Johnson, to convey them to Gambia with all possible expedition, and he left in Daman's possession various articles, which he considered not necessary to take with him. He then left Jarra, accompanied by his faithful boy, the slave sent by king Ali, and one of Daman's slaves. Without meeting with any occurrence of note, Mr. Park arrived on the 1st of March at a large town called Deena, inhabited by a greater proportion of moors than of negroes. Mr. Park lodged in a hut belonging to one of the latter. The moors, however, assembled round it, and treated him with every sort of indignity, with a view to irritate him, and afford them a pretence for pillaging his baggage. Finding, however, their attempts ineffectual, they at last declared that the property of a Christian was lawful plunder to the followers of Mahomet, and accordingly opened his bundles, and robbed him of every thing they chose.
Mr. Park spent the 2nd of March, in endeavouring to prevail on his people to proceed with him, but so great was their dread of the moors, that they absolutely refused. Accordingly, the next morning, about two o'clock, Mr. Park proceeded alone on his adventurous journey. He had not, however, got above half a mile from Deena, when he heard some one calling after him, and on looking back, saw his faithful boy running after him. He was informed by the boy, that Ali's man had set out for Benown, but Daman's negro was still at Deena, but that if his master would stop a little, he could persuade the latter to join him. Mr. Park waited accordingly, and in about three hours the boy returned with the negro. In the afternoon, they reached a town called Samamingkoos, inhabited chiefly by Foulahs.
On the 4th they arrived at a large town called Sampaka, where, on hearing that a white man was come into the town, the people, who had been keeping holiday and dancing, left of this pastime, and walking in regular order two by two, with the music before them, came to Mr. Park. They played upon a flute, which they blowed obliquely over the end, and governed the holes on the sides with their fingers. Their airs were plaintive and simple.
Mr. Park stopped at Sampaka for the sake of being accompanied by some of the inhabitants, who were going to Goomba; but in order to avoid the crowd of people, whom curiosity had assembled round him, he visited in the evening a negro village called Samee, where he was kindly received by the dooty, who killed two fine sheep, and invited his friends to the feast. On the following day his landlord insisted on his staying till the cool of the evening, when he would conduct him to the next village. Mr. Park was now within two days journey of Goomba, and had no further apprehension of being molested by the moors. He therefore accepted the invitation, and passed the forenoon very agreeably with the poor negroes, the mildness of their manners forming a striking contrast to the savageness and ferocity of the moors. In the midst of their cheerfulness, a party of moors unexpectedly entered the hut. They came, they said, by Ali's orders, to convey the white man to his camp at Benown. They told Mr. Park, that if he did not make any resistance, he was not in any danger, but if he showed any reluctance, they had orders to bring him by force. Mr. Park was confounded and terrified; the moors, observing his consternation, repeated the assurance of his safety, and added, that they had come to gratify the curiosity of Ali's wife, who was extremely desirous to see a Christian, but that afterwards, they had no doubt that Ali would make him a present, which would compensate for his trouble, and conduct him safely to Bambarra. Entreaty or refusal would have been equally unavailing. Mr. Park took leave of his landlord and company with great reluctance, and, attended by his negro boy (for Daman's slave made his escape on seeing the Moors), followed the messengers, and reached Dalli in the evening, where they were strictly watched for the night.
On the following day, Mr. Park and his boy were conducted by a circuitous path, through the woods to Dangoli, where they slept. They continued their journey on the 9th, and without any particular occurrence arrived at Deena, when Mr. Park went to pay his respects to one of Ali's sons. He sat in a hut, with five or six companions, washing their hands, feet, and mouths. The prince handed Mr. Park a double-barrelled gun, and told him to dye the stock blue, and repair one of the locks. Mr. Park with great difficulty persuaded him that he knew nothing of gun-making, then, said he, you shall give me some knives and scissors immediately. The boy, who acted as interpreter, declaring Mr. Park had no such articles, he hastily snatched up a musket, and would have shot the boy dead upon the spot, had not the Moors interfered, and made signs to the strangers to retreat. The boy attempted to make his escape in the night, but was prevented by the Moors, who guarded both him, and his master, with the strictest attention.
On the 12th, Mr. Park and his guards departed for Benown, and reached the camp of Ali a little before sunset. It was composed of a great number of dirty tents, scattered without order, amongst which appeared large herds of camels, cattle, and goats. Mr. Park had no sooner arrived, than he was surrounded by such a crowd, that he could scarcely move. One pulled his clothes, another took off his hat, a third examined his waistcoat buttons, and a fourth calling out, La ilia el Allah, Mahomet ra sowl Allald (there is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet), signifying, in a menacing tone, that he must repeat those words. At length, he was conducted to the king's tent, where a number of both sexes were waiting his arrival. Ali appeared to be an old man of the Arab cast, with a long white beard, and of a sullen and proud countenance. Having gazed on the stranger, he inquired of the Moors, if he could speak Arabic, hearing that he could not, he appeared much surprised, but made no remarks. The ladies were more inquisitive; they asked many questions, inspected every part of Mr. Park's dress, unbuttoned his waistcoat to display the whiteness of his skin; they even counted his toes and fingers. In a short time, the priest announced evening prayers, but before the people departed, some boys had tied a wild hog to one of the tent strings. Ali made signs to Mr. Park to kill it, and dress it for food to himself, he, however, did not think it prudent to eat any part of an animal so much detested by the Moors, and accordingly replied, that he never ate the flesh of swine. They then untied the hog, in hopes that it would run immediately at him, the Moors believing that a great enmity subsists between hogs and Christians, but the animal no sooner regained his liberty, than he attacked every person he met, and at last took shelter under the king's couch. Mr. Park was then conducted to the tent of Ali's chief slave, but was not permitted to enter, nor touch any of the furniture. A little boiled corn, with salt and water, was afterwards served him for supper, and he lay upon a mat spread upon the sand, surrounded by the curious multitude.
The next day, Mr. Park was conducted by the king's order, to a hut constructed of corn stalks of a square form, and a flat roof, supported by forked sticks; but out of derision to the Christian, Ali had ordered the wild hog before mentioned to be tied to one of the sticks, and it proved a very disagreeable inmate, the boys amusing themselves by beating and irritating the animal. Mr. Park was also again tormented by the curiosity of the Moors. He was obliged to take off his stockings to exhibit his feet, and even his jacket and waistcoat to show them the mode of his toilet. This exercise he was obliged to repeat the whole day. About eight o'clock in the evening, Ali sent him some kouskous and salt and water, being the only victuals he had tasted since the morning. During the night, the Moors kept a regular watch, and frequently looked into the hut to see if he was asleep. About two o'clock a Moor entered the hut, probably with a view of stealing something, and groping about, laid his hand upon Mr. Park's shoulder. He immediately sprang up, and the Moor in a hurry, fell upon the wild hog, which returned the attack by biting his arm. The cries of the Moor alarmed his countrymen, who conjecturing their prisoner had made his escape, prepared for pursuit. Ali did not sleep in his own tent, but came galloping upon a white horse from a tent at a considerable distance; the consciousness of his tyrannical and cruel behaviour had made him so suspicious, that even his own domestics knew not where he slept. The cause of the outcry being explained, the prisoner was allowed to sleep until morning without further disturbance.
With the returning day, the boys, says Mr. Park, assembled to beat the hog, and the men and women to plague the Christian. On this subject, Mr. Park expresses himself most feelingly, for he adds, "it is impossible for me to describe the behaviour of a people, who study mischief as a science, and exult in the miseries and misfortunes of their fellow-creatures. It is sufficient to observe, that the rudeness, ferocity, and fanaticism, which distinguish the Moors from the rest of mankind, found here a proper subject whereon to exercise their propensities. I was a stranger, I was unprotected, and I was a Christian, each of these circumstances is sufficient to drive every spark of humanity from the heart of a Moor; but when all of them, as in my case, were combined in the same person, and a suspicion prevailed withal, that I was come as a spy into the country, the reader will easily imagine that, in such a situation, I had every thing to fear. Anxious, however, to conciliate favour, I patiently bore every insult, but never did any period of my life pass so heavily; from sunrise to sunset was I obliged to suffer, with unruffled countenance, the insults of the rudest savages on earth."
Mr. Park had now a new occupation thrust upon him, which was that of a barber. His first display of official skill in his new capacity, was in shaving the head of the young prince of Ludamar, in the presence of the king, his father, but happening to make a slight incision, the king ordered him to resign the razor, and walk out of the tent. This was considered by Mr. Park as a very fortunate circumstance, as he had determined to make himself as useless and insignificant as possible, being the only means of recovering his liberty.
On the 18th of March, four Moors arrived from Jarra, with Johnson the interpreter, having seized him before he knew of Mr. Park's confinement, and brought with them the bundle of clothes left at Daman Jumma's house. Johnson was led into All's tent and examined; the bundle was opened, and Mr. Park was sent for, to explain the use of the various contents. To Mr. Park's great satisfaction, however, Johnson had committed his papers to the charge of one of Daman's wives. The bundle was again tied up, and put into a large cowskin bag. In the evening Ali sent to Mr. Park for the rest of his effects, to secure them, according to the report of the messengers, as there were many thieves in the neighbourhood. Every thing was accordingly carried away, nor was he suffered to retain a single shirt. Ali, however, disappointed at not finding a great quantity of gold and amber, the following morning sent the same people, to examine whether anything was concealed about his person. They searched his apparel, and took from him his gold, amber, watch and a pocket compass. He had fortunately in the night buried another compass in the sand, and this, with the clothes he had on, was all that was now left him by this rapacious and inhospitable savage.
The pocket compass soon became an object of superstitious curiosity, and Ali desired Mr. Park to inform him, why the small piece of iron always pointed to the Great Desert? Mr. Park was somewhat puzzled: to have pleaded ignorance, would have made Ali suspect he wished to conceal the truth; he therefore replied, that his mother resided far beyond the land of Sehara, and whilst she lived, the piece of iron would always point that way, and serve as a guide to conduct him to her, and that if she died, it would point to her grave. Ali now looked at the compass with redoubled wonder, and turned it round and round repeatedly, but finding it always pointed the same way, he returned it to Mr. Park, declaring he thought there was magic in it, and he was afraid to keep so dangerous an instrument in his possession.
On the morning of the 20th, a council was hold in Ali's tent respecting Mr. Park, and its decision was differently related to him by different persons, but the most probable account he received from Ali's son, a boy, who told him it was determined to put out his eyes, by the special advice of the priests, but the sentence was deferred until Fatima, the queen, then absent, had seen the white man. Mr. Park, anxious to know his destiny, went to the king and begged permission to return to Jarra. This was, however, flatly refused, as the queen had not yet seen him, and he must stay until she arrived, after which his horse would be restored, and he should be at liberty to return to Ludamar. Mr. Park appeared pleased; and without any hope of at present making his escape, on account of the excessive heat, he resolved to wait patiently for the rainy season. Overcome with melancholy, and having passed a restless night, in the morning he was attacked by a fever. He had wrapped himself up in a cloak to promote perspiration, and was asleep, when a party of Moors entered the hut, and pulled away the cloak. He made signs that he was sick, and wished to sleep, but his distress afforded sport to these savages. "This studied and degrading insolence," says Mr. Park, "to which I was constantly exposed, was one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of captivity, and often made life itself a burthen to me. In these distressing moments I have frequently envied the situation of the slave, who, amidst all his calamities, could still possess the enjoyment of his own thoughts, a happiness to which I had for some time, been a stranger. Wearied out with such continual insults, and perhaps a little peevish from the fever, I trembled, lest my passion might unawares overleap the bounds of prudence, and spur me to some sudden act of resentment, when death must be the inevitable consequence."
In this miserable situation he left the hut, and laid down amongst some shady trees, a small distance from the camp, but Ali's son, with a number of horsemen galloping to the place, ordered him to follow them to the king. He begged them to allow him to remain where he was for a few hours, when one of them presented a pistol towards him, and snapped it twice; he cocked it a third time, and was striking the flint with a piece of steel, when Mr. Park begged him to desist, and returned with them to the camp. Ali appeared much out of humour, and taking up a pistol fresh primed it, and turning towards Mr. Park with a menacing look, said something to him in Arabic. Mr. Park desired his boy to ask what offence he had committed, and was informed, that having gone out of the camp without Ali's permission, it was suspected he had some design to make his escape, but in future, if he were seen without the skirts of the camp, orders were given that he should be immediately shot.
About this time all the women of the camp had their feet, and the ends of their fingers stained of a dark saffron colour, but whether for religion or ornament, Mr. Park could not discover. On the evening of the 26th, a party of these ladies visited him, to ascertain by actual inspection, whether the rites of circumcision extended to Christians. Mr. Park was not a little surprised at this unexpected requisition, and to treat the business jocularly, he told them it was not customary in his country, to give ocular demonstration before so many beautiful women, but if all would retire, one young lady excepted, to whom he pointed, he would satisfy her curiosity. The ladies enjoyed the joke, and went away laughing, The preferred damsel, although she did not avail herself of the offer, to show she was pleased with thecompliment, sent him meal and milk.
On the morning of the 28th, Ali sent a slave to order Mr. Park to be in readiness to ride out with him in the afternoon, as he intended to show him to some of his women, and about four o'clock the king with six attendants came riding to the hut. But here a new difficulty occurred, the Moors objected to Mr. Park's nankeen breeches, which they said were inelegant and indecent, as this was a visit to ladies, but Ali ordered him to wrap his cloak around him. They visited four different ladies, by each of whom Mr. Park was presented with a bowl of milk and water. They were very inquisitive, and examined his hair and skin with great attention, but affected to consider him as an inferior being, and knit their brows, and appeared to shudder when they looked at the whiteness of his skin. All the seladies were remarkably corpulent, which the Moors esteem as the highest mark of beauty. In the course of the excursion, the dress and appearance of Mr. Park afforded infinite mirth to the company, who galloped round him, exhibiting various feats of activity and horsemanship.
The Moors are very good horsemen, riding without fear, and their saddles being high before and behind, afford them a very secure seat, and should they fall, the country is so soft and sandy, that they are seldom hurt. The king always rode upon a milk-white horse, with its tail dyed red. He never walked, but to prayers, and two or three horses were always kept ready saddled near his tent. The Moors set a high value upon their horses, as their fleetness enables them to plunder the negro countries.
On the same afternoon, a whirlwind passed through the camp, with such violence, that it overturned three tents, and blew down one side of the hut in which Mr. Park was. These whirlwinds come from the Great Desert, and at that season of the year are so common, that Mr. Park has seen five or six of them at one time. They carry up quantities of sand to an amazing height, which resemble at a distance so many moving pillars of smoke.
The scorching heat of the sun, upon a dry and sandy country, now made the air insufferably hot. Ali having robbed Mr. Park of his thermometer, he had no means of forming a comparative judgment; but in the middle of the day, when the beams of the vertical sun are seconded by the scorching wind from the desert, the ground is frequently heated to such a degree, as not to be borne by the naked foot; even the negro slaves will not run from one tent to another without their sandals. At this time of the day, the Moors are stretched at length in their tents, either asleep or unwilling to move, and Mr. Park has often felt the wind so hot, that he could not hold his hand in the current of air, which came through the crevices of his hut, without feeling sensible pain.
During Mr. Park's stay, a child died in an adjoining tent. The mother and relations immediately began the death howl, in which they were joined by several female visitors. He had no opportunity of seeing the burial, which is performed secretly during night, near the tent. They plant a particular shrub over the grave, which no stranger is allowed to pluck, nor even touch.
About the same time a moorish wedding was celebrated, the ceremony of which is thus described by Mr. Park. "In the evening the tabala or large drum was beaten to announce a wedding, which was held at one of the neighbouring tents. A great number of people of both sexes assembled, but without that mirth and hilarity which take place at a negro wedding; here there was neither singing nor dancing, nor any other amusement that I could perceive. A woman was beating the drum, and the other women joining at times like a chorus, by setting up a shrill scream, and at the same time moving their tongues from one side of the mouth to the other with great celerity. I was soon tired and had returned to my hut where I was sitting almost asleep, when an old woman entered with a wooden bowl in her hand, and signified that she had brought me a present from the bride. Before I could recover from the surprise which this message created, the woman discharged the content of the bowl full in my face. Finding that it was the same sort of holy water, with which, among the Hottentots, a priest is said to sprinkle a new-married couple, I began to suspect that the old lady was actuated by mischief or malice, but she gave me seriously to understand, that it was a nuptial benediction from the bride's own person, and which, on such occasions, is always received by the young unmarried Moors as a mark of distinguished favour. This being the ease, I wiped my face and sent my acknowledgments to the lady. The wedding drum continued to beat, and the women to sing, or rather to whistle during the whole of the night. About nine in the morning, the bride was brought in state from her mother's tent, attended by a number of women, who carried her tent, being a present from her husband, some bearing up the poles, others holding by the strings, and in this manner they marched, whistling as formerly, until they came to the place appointed for her residence, where they pitched the tent. The husband followed with a number of men leading four bullocks, which they tied to the tent strings, and having killed another, and distributed the beef among the people, the ceremony was concluded."