Lander's Travels - The Travels of Richard Lander into the Interior of Africa
by Robert Huish
Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Some mallams and others, who wished to accompany the Landers to Kiama, whither they were going for the purposes of trade, persuaded the easy-minded governor on the preceding night, to defer getting their carriers until the following day, because, forsooth, they were not themselves wholly prepared to travel on that day. They were, therefore, obliged to wait the further pleasure of these influential merchants. Thus balked in their expectations, after their luggage had all been packed up for starting, Richard Lander attempted to amuse himself early in the morning, by scrambling to the top of the high and steep hill, which stood in the middle of the town. In his progress, he disturbed a tiger-cat from his retreat amongst the rocks, but he was rewarded for his labour by an extensive and agreeable prospect from the summit of the mountain, which he found to consist of large blocks of white marble. The town with its double wall, perforated with holes for the bowmen to shoot through, lay at his feet, and several little rural villages studded the country on every side. The governor of Keshee was so old and infirm, that it was evident he had not many years to live. A lotion was given him for his swollen foot, which greatly elated a few of his attendants, and their animated looks and gestures bespoke hearts overflowing with gratitude, so much so indeed, that it was remarked as a circumstance of very rare occurrence. The cause of these grateful feelings was, however, soon explained to them, for early in the morning, they were visited by a young man, who had particularly distinguished himself in his expressions of gratitude, but who now put on such a rueful countenance, and spoke in a tone so low and melancholy, that his whole appearance was completely altered, insomuch that it was supposed some great calamity had befallen him. The cause of it was soon explained, by his informing them that he would be doomed to die, with two companions, as soon as their governor's dissolution should take place; and as the old man had already one foot in the grave, the sadness of the poor fellow was not to be wondered at. When this same individual and his associates observed Richard Lander giving the lotion to their master on the preceding day, they imagined it would prolong his existence, and consequently lengthen their own, and hence arose that burst of feeling which had attracted their attention. The people here imagined that the Landers could do anything, but more especially that they were acquainted with, and could cure all the complaints and disorders to which man is liable.

During the day, the governor solicited from Richard Lander a charm to protect his house from fire, and to enable him to amass riches, while one of his elderly wives made a doleful complaint of having been likely to become a mother for the last thirty years, and begged piteously for medicine to promote and assist her accouchement. It was easy enough to satisfy the old man; but it was conceived that the hypochondriacal complaint of his wife, was too dangerous to be meddled with by unprofessional hands. Poor woman! she was much to be pitied, for the odd delusion under which she had been labouring for some time, had given her considerable uneasiness, so that life itself became a burden to her. All that Richard Lander, her medical adviser, could do for her, was to soothe her mind, by telling her that her distemper was very common, and not at all dangerous; and he promised her that on their return to Keeshee, should nothing transpire in her favour in the mean time, he would endeavour to remove the cause of her complaint. This comforted the aged matron exceedingly, and in the fulness of her heart, she burst into tears of joy, dropped on her knees to express her acknowledgments, and pressed them to accept a couple of goora nuts.

Their engaging female friends, the Fellatas, paid them a second visit this morning, with bowls of milk and foorah; and in the evening, a few of their male companions also came, and remained with them a considerable time. Both sexes displayed the same timid reserve in their presence, and deported themselves in the same respectful manner as they did on the preceding day. It appeared that the Fellatas inhabiting Acba, though very numerous, are but one family, for the Landers were informed, that their ancestor separated himself from his friends, relatives, and acquaintances, and exiling himself for ever from his native country, he travelled hither with his wives and children, his flocks and herds. The sons and daughters of his descendants intermarry only among their own kindred, and they are betrothed to each other in infancy and childhood. The little that they saw of the Fellatas in Yarriba, soon convinced them that in all things they were much, very much superior to the loveless and unsocial proprietors of the soil. Their countenances bespoke more intelligence, and their manners displayed less roughness and barbarism. The domestic virtues of the Fellatas are also more affectionate and endearing, and their family regulations more chaste and binding.

On Wednesday the 26th May, they rose before sunset, and having little to do in the way of preparation for setting out, they took a hasty breakfast, and afterwards went to pay their respects to the governor, and thank him for his hospitality and kindness to them. The parting with the interesting female natives, shall be related in Lander's own words. "On returning to our lodgings, we had the pleasure of receiving the morning salutation of our fair friends, the Fellatas, on bended knee. Resolved to have another and a last chat with the white strangers, these females had come for the purpose of offering us two calabashes of new milk. This, and former little acts of kindness, which we have received from these dark-eyed maidens, have effectually won our regard, because we know they were disinterestedly given, and the few minutes which we have had the happiness of spending in their company, and that of their countrymen, have redeemed many hours of listlessness and melancholy, which absence from our native country, and thoughts of home and friends but too often excite in our breasts. It was not, therefore, without a feeling of sorrow that we bade them adieu. For my own part, when they blessed me in the name of Allah and their prophet, and implored blessings on my head, and when I gazed upon the faces of the simple-hearted and innocent females, who had so piously and fervently invoked the benediction, with the consciousness of beholding them no more in this life, my heart was touched with sorrow, for of all reflections, this is certainly the most melancholy and dispiriting."

"Ye, who have known what 'tis to dote upon A few dear objects, will in sadness feel Such partings break the heart they fondly hoped to heal."

There was far less feeling and tenderness, though more words and much greater noise in taking their farewell of the two old messengers that had accompanied them from Badagry, and who, with their Jenna guides, were to return home on the following day. They had behaved throughout the whole of the journey to the entire satisfaction of the Landers, and because they had been their companions on a long and painful journey, and because their faces had become familiarized to them, that they left them behind with sincere regret.

Although they left Keeshee between six and seven in the morning, they were obliged to seat themselves on a green turf in the outskirts of the town, and wait there till a quarter after nine before the carriers with the luggage made their appearance. Here they were joined by a Borgoo fatakie, and their ears were saluted with the hoarse, dull sounds of their drum, which was played by a ragged young Yarribean, long after they were on their journey. A company of merchants travelling through the country has always a drummer in their pay, who walks at the head of the party, and performs on his instrument continually, be the journey ever so long, for the purpose of animating the slaves to quicken their steps.

Their route lay through a vast and lonely forest, infested by a band of robbers and in which there is not a single human habitation. John Lander went unarmed before the fatakie, and travelled alone, whilst Richard remained behind to defend the carriers, in case of necessity. He had already ridden some distance in advance of them, when about twenty very suspicious-looking fellows, armed with lances, bows, and arrows, suddenly made their appearance from behind the trees, where they had concealed themselves, and stood in the middle of the path, before the men with the luggage, who were so terrified that they were prepared to drop their burdens and run away. His gun being loaded, Richard Lander levelled it at them, and had nearly discharged it at their leader, which intimidated them all so much, that they retreated again into the heart of the forest. When the people of Yarriba observe any one approaching them on the road, whose appearance inspires them with apprehension as to the honesty of their intentions, they fling off their loads without waiting the result of the meeting, and take to their heels without venturing to look behind them. The robbers, therefore, when they saw the fatakie, no doubt expected to obtain an easy booty, not anticipating to find a white man amongst them, nor thinking that their carriers would have made a stand.

They journeyed fifteen miles through this dreaded forest, which occupied them five hours and three quarters, owing to the weakness of their horses, and want of water, but above all to the oppressive heat of the weather, from which they all suffered more or less. They then arrived at the Moussa, which is a rivulet, separating the kingdom of Yarriba from Borgoo. Having satisfied their thirst and bathed, they crossed the stream, and entered a little village on the northern bank, where they halted for the day.

When travelling in the bush, several men in the train of a fatakie wear a large iron ring on the thumb and middle finger; to the latter a piece of plate iron is attached, with which they make signals to each other, and the fatakie, when apart, by clinking the rings. This method of communication is very significant, and it is understood as well, and is as promptly answered or obeyed, as the boatswain's whistle on board a ship. The collision of the rings produces a harsh, grating noise, loud enough to be heard at a considerable distance.

The mere crossing of a little stream, which a person might almost have jumped over, introduced them into a country very different from Yarriba, which was inhabited by a different people, speaking a different language, professing a different religion, and whose manners, customs, amusements, and pursuits were altogether different.

The village in which they halted was called Moussa, after the river, and is distant from Keeshee, in a northerly direction, as nearly as they could guess, about sixteen miles. The Landers occupied a large round hut, called by the natives of that country catamba, in the Houssa language sowley, and in the Bornou coozie. In the centre of it is the trunk of a large tree, which supports the roof; it has two apertures for doors, which are opposite each other, and directly over them, suspended from the wall, are a couple of charms, written in the Arabic character on bits of paper, which are to preserve the premises from being destroyed by fire.

It was now eleven o'clock at night; their attendants were reposing on mats and skins in various parts of the hut. Bows and arrows and quivers ornamented with cows' tails, together with muskets, pistols, swords, lances, and other weapons, were either hanging on the wall or resting against it. The scene was wild and singular, and quite bordering on, if not really romantic. Outside the hut it was still more striking: there, though it rained and thundered, the remainder of the fatakie, consisting of men, women, and children, were sitting on the ground in groups, or sleeping near several large fires, which were burning almost close to the hut, whilst others were lying under the shelter of large spreading trees in its immediate vicinity. The only apparel which they wear, was drawn over their half-naked persons, their weapons were at their sides, and their horses were grazing near them. Most of the people retired to rest without food, yet they slept soundly, and appeared quite happy and comfortable after their day's exertion and fatigue. One of the men fainted on the road from exhaustion, and remained very feverish and unwell.

At day break on the following day, the travellers pursued their course, and as Lander expresses himself, there wore a sweetness in the mountain air, and a freshness in the morning, which they experienced with considerable pleasure, on ascending the hills, which bordered the northern side of the pretty little Moussa. When wild beasts tired with their nightly prowling, seek retirement and repose in the lonely depths of these primeval forests, and when birds perched in the branches of the trees over their heads, warbled forth their morning song, it is the time, that makes up for the languid, wearisome hours in the heat of the day, when nothing could amuse or interest them. It is in the earlier part of the morning too, or in the cool of the evening, that nature can be leisurely contemplated and admired in the simple loveliness of a verdant plain, a sequestered grotto, or a rippling brook, or in the wilder and more mysterious features of her beauty in the height of a craggy precipice, the silence and gloom of vast shady woods, or when those woods are gracefully bending to the passing gale.

An hour's ride brought them near to the site of a town, which was formerly peopled only by robbers. It was, however destroyed some years ago, and its inhabitants either slain or dispersed, by order of the spirited ruler of Kiama, since which time the road has been less dreaded by travellers. Their path lay through a rich country covered with luxuriant grasses and fine trees, but very little underwood could be seen. It abounded with deer and antelopes, and other wild animals of a more ferocious nature; such as the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the wild ass, &c., but the solitary lowing of the buffalo was the only sound that was distinguished in the forest, although they had not the pleasure of meeting even with that animal.

At eleven o'clock, they entered a very small, cleanly-looking village, where they halted for the day. Unfortunately the governor with most of his people were at work in the fields at some distance, so that they could not get any thing to eat till rather late in the evening. It appeared that these poor villagers were forced to supply the soldiers of their sovereign with provisions, gratis, whenever business led them so far that way from the capital; and that in order to avoid the rapacity of these men, they built for themselves another hamlet in the woods, far out of the way of the path, whither they carry their goats, &c. and the corn of which they may not be in immediate want.

On their arrival they were introduced into a small grass hut, which the smoke had changed into the most glossy black, which could possibly be seen; the interior of the roof was also ingeniously decorated with large festoons of cobwebs and dust, which must have been allowed to accumulate for a number of years. Its fetish was a dried grasshopper, which was preserved in a little calabash, but upon the supposition that this was insufficient to protect it from all the danger to which huts in that country are constantly exposed, auxiliary charms of blood and feathers are likewise stuck inside of the wall. At sun-set, not having any thing to eat, Richard Lander went out with his gun into the woods, and was fortunate enough to shoot a few doves, and Pascoe, who went in a different direction, shot a guinea hen, which made them an excellent supper. Hunger had driven back their Keeshee carriers, who were to have accompanied them to Kiama, and therefore they were obliged to send a messenger to Yarro for men to supply their place. Late in the evening, the governor of the village returned from his labour in the fields, and presented them with corn and honey.

On the forenoon of Friday the 28th, the musical jingling of little bells announced the approach of a body of horsemen, who in less than a minute galloped up to their hut, and saluted them one after another with a martial air, by brandishing their spears, to their great discomfiture, within a few feet of their faces. To display their horsemanship more effectually, they caused their spirited steeds to prance and rear in their presence, and when they imagined they were convinced of their abilities, they dismounted to prostrate themselves before them, and acquainted them of the welfare of their prince. The carriers who had arrived from Kiama, had preceded them on the road, and the whole of the men then sat down to partake of a little refreshment. It was twelve o'clock exactly when they set out on their journey, and the day being so far advanced, they wished to make all the haste possible, but the weather was extremely warm, and their horses were hardly strong enough to carry their riders, so that they were obliged after all to travel very slowly. At five o'clock in the afternoon, they reached the ruins of a small town. The path was through the same forest as they had travelled through on the preceding day, but this part of it was less thickly wooded. At one place they remarked two immensely large trees, springing up almost close together, their mighty trunks and branches were twisted, and firmly clasped round each other, like giants in the act of embracing, and presented an appearance highly novel and singular. Ant hills were numerous on the road; and a few paces from it, they observed, as they rode along, little cone-shaped mud buildings, erected by the natives for the purpose of smelting iron ore, which is found in abundance in different parts of the country.

At sunset they arrived at a village called Benikenny, which means in the language of the people, (a cunning man;) and they found there three women waiting their arrival, with corn and milk from the king of Kiama: this was very acceptable, for they had been without food for thirteen hours. They rested at Benikenny a little while, and fully expected to have slept there, for the afternoon had been excessively warm, and they were all much fatigued. It appears, however, that their armed escort were not in the same way of thinking as themselves, and they encouraged them to proceed to another village, which they said was at no great distance. They, therefore, quitted Benikenny, yet no village could be seen, and then the escort confessed that they had deceived them, in order that they might arrive at Kiama before night. The sun had gone down on their quitting the halting place, but the moon and stars supplied them with a cooler and more agreeable light, and they journeyed on through the forest more slowly than before. In spite of their fatigue, they could not help admiring the serenity and beauty of the evening, nor be insensible to the delicious fragrance shed around from trees and shrubs. The appearance of their warlike and romantic escort, was also highly amusing. They were clad in the fashion of the east, and sought their way between the trees on their right and left; but sometimes they fell in their rear, and then again dashed suddenly by them with astonishing swiftness, looking as wild as the scenery through which their chargers bounded. The effect was rendered more imposing by the reflection of the moon-beams from their polished spears, and the pieces of silver which were affixed to their caps; while the luminous firefly appeared in the air like rising and falling particles of flame.

John Lander's horse was unable from weakness and exhaustion to carry him further than Benikenny, so that he was obliged to walk the remainder of the journey to Kiama, which was full six miles. About eight o'clock, Kiama appeared before them, and in a few minutes they entered the city, and rode directly to the king's house. He came out to receive them, after having waited outside a very short time, and welcomed them with much satisfaction and good will. He was an elderly man, almost toothless, and had a beard as white as wool. Nothing remarkable was observed in his dress or appearance. His first question was respecting the health of their sovereign, and his second and last respecting their own welfare. He seemed to be exceedingly well pleased at seeing Richard Lander again. They then took their leave, and were conducted by one of his slaves to a hut, or rather an assemblage of huts, adjoining his own residence. The huts, however, were not entirely to their satisfaction, for many of them had only one aperture in each, which was scarcely three feet square, so that they could not get into them excepting on their hands and knees. They were, besides, so very warm and close, that they found great difficulty in breathing, and in consequence they preferred a hut which was cooler and better ventilated, though it had the inconvenience of a thoroughfare. No sooner were they securely housed, than half a dozen of the king's wives introduced themselves with huge calabashes of sour milk, fried pancakes, and beef stewed in rice, the first they had yet seen. Variously coloured mats, of excellent workmanship, were afterwards brought for their use, and with thankful hearts and comfortable feelings, they laid themselves down to rest.


Fatigued with the journey of the preceding day, the travellers lay on their mats rather later than usual, and before they had risen, the king's messengers and others entered their hut to give them the salutations of the morning. Richard Lander returned Yarro's compliment, by calling to see him at his own house, while his brother remained at home to take care of the goods. The natives of the country having a very indifferent reputation for honesty, compelled them to keep a watchful eye over all their actions. A number of mallams from Houssa paid them a visit about the middle of the day, but a body of more ignorant Mahommedans, it was supposed, could no where be found, for not one of them, even to their chief, who had a youthful appearance, understood a word of Arabic.

Just before sunset, John Lander selected a present, consisting of the following articles for the king: viz. six yards of red cloth, a quantity of printed cottons, a pair of silver bracelets, a looking-glass, two pair of scissors, a knife, two combs, and a tobacco pipe. The goods having been properly secured, they repaired with this present to the king, who received it with much apparent satisfaction.

Yarro professed the mahommedan faith, yet it was easy to perceive the very slender acquaintance he had obtained of the precepts of the Koran, by the confidence which he placed in the religion of his fathers, in placing fetishes to guard the entrance of his houses, and adorn their half-naked walls. In one of these huts, they observed a stool of very curious workmanship. The form of it was nearly square; the two principal figures were each supported by four little wooden figures of men, and another of large dimensions, seated on a clumsy representation of a hippopotamus, was placed between them. These images were subsequently presented to the Landers by Yarro; and they learnt that the natives, before undertaking any water excursion, applied for protection to the hippopotami, and other dangerous objects of the river, to the principal figure, which was mounted on one of those creatures. This important personage was attended by his musicians, and guarded by soldiers, some armed with muskets, and others with bows and arrows, who formed the legs of the stool.

In the inner apartment they discovered Yarro sitting alone, on buffalo hides, and they were desired to place themselves near him. The walls of this apartment were adorned with very good prints of George IV., the Duke of York, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington on horseback, together with an officer of the light dragoons, in company with a smartly dressed and happy looking English lady. Opposite to them were hung horse accoutrements, and on each side were dirty scraps of paper, containing select sentences from the Koran. On the floor lay muskets, several handsomely ornamented lances, and other weapons, all confusedly heaped together, by the side of a large granite stone used for pounding pepper. These were the most striking objects they observed in the king's hut, adjoining which were others, through whose diminutive doors, the wives of Yarro were straining their eyes to catch a glimpse of the white men.

When Lander spoke of proceeding to Yaoorie by way of Wowow and Boussa, the king objected to their visiting, the former state, under any condition whatever; alleging that three of the slaves who carried the goods for Captain Clapperton, had never returned to him again, but had remained at Wowow, where they were protected by the governor Mahommed, and that if he should send others with them to that place, they might do the same thing. He, therefore, promised to send them to Boosa in four days by another road. Independently of the above considerations, the king was highly incensed against the ruler of Wowow for his harsh treatment of the widow Zuma, who was his friend and relative, and who had lately fled to Boosa for the purpose of claiming the protection of the king of that country.

It was reported that Yarro's father, the late king of Kiama, during his life time had enjoyed the friendship of an Arab from the desert, which was returned with equal warmth and sincerity. A similarity of dispositions and pursuits produced a mutual interchange of kind actions; their friendship became so great that the king was never happy except when in the Arab's company, and as a proof of his esteem and confidence, he gave him his favourite daughter in marriage. The fruit of this alliance was the restless widow Zuma, and hence her relationship to the then reigning monarch of Kiama. The friendship of his father and the Arab lasted until the death of the latter. The king, however, was inconsolable for his loss, and looked round him in vain for some one to supply the place of his friend, but the ardour of his affection was too strong, and held by the hope of following his friend to another world, he committed suicide. This was the most affecting instance of genuine friendship, and indeed the only one, that came to the hearing of the travellers since they had been in the country. Yarro was much attached to the widow Zuma, and she would have fled to Kiama, instead of going to Boosa, if her intentions had not been suspected, and her actions narrowly watched by the ruler of Wowow.

Unwilling as the Landers always were to infringe upon the observance of the Sabbath, they were nevertheless compelled on Sunday, May 30th, to submit to the mortification of cleaning and polishing a sword and pistol, which were sent them for that purpose by the king, against the approaching mahommedan festival. Yarro shortly afterwards sent them a turkey, and one of his women presented them with a roasted badger, a quantity of yams, &c. for the use of one of their people. On this evening, the wives of the king unanimously bestowed a severe reprimand on their royal husband for neglecting to offer them a portion of a bottle of rum, which was given to him on the preceding day. The ladies scolded so lustily, that the noise was heard outside the wall surrounding their huts, which led them to make the discovery. To appease the indignation of the irascible ladies, and to reconcile them to the loss of so great a dainty as a glass of rum, they were presented with a few beads, and some other trifles, but still it was evident that these fancy articles bore no comparison in the eyes of the ladies with the exquisite relish of the spirituous liquid.

It was generally supposed that the ruler of Wowow would make war on this state, as soon as he should be made acquainted with the fact of the Landers being at Borgoo, without having paid him a visit. Although it was within the dominions of the king of Boossa, who was acknowledged to be the greatest of the sovereigns of Borgoo, Wowow was reported to have lately received a body of Nouffie horse soldiers, consisting of eight hundred men, which rendered its chief more powerful than either of his neighbours. These soldiers were the remnant of the army of Ederisa, (the Edrisi of Clapperton) who was the rightful heir to the throne of Nouffie; they deserted him in his misfortunes, and sought a refuge in Wowow from the fury of their successful countrymen, leaving their leader to his fate. Shortly after the return of Richard Lander to England from his expedition with Captain Clapperton, it was reported that Magia, who was a younger son of the late king of Nouffie, was reinforced by the soldiers from Soccatoo; that he took immediate advantage of the panic into which this intelligence had thrown his brother, by attacking and routing his army, and expelling both him, and them from their native country. Ederisa was for some time after a wanderer, but at length he was said to have found an asylum with one of the chiefs of a state near the kingdom of Benin where he continued to reside in tranquillity and retirement.

They received visits almost every hour of the day from a number of mahommedan mallams residing at Kiama, as well as from those merchants, who formed part of the fatakie that accompanied them through the forest from Keeshee. The former sent two boys to pray for them, in the expectation, it was supposed, of obtaining something more substantial than thanks, for the good that might result to them from their charitable remembrance of the frailty of their nature. The boys dropped on their knees, and recited the lesson that they had been taught, without committing a single blunder. A few needles were, however, the only recompense it was thought proper to make them, so that it was not likely their masters would desire any more prayers to be offered up at the shrine of their prophet, for Christians so illiberal and irreligious. Of all the vices of which these mahommedan priests were guilty, and by all accounts they were not a few, slander and defamation appeared to be by far the most general. Never did they hear a mallam speak of his neighbours in terms of common respect. According to his account they were all the vilest creatures under the sun, not one escaping the lash of his censure. "Avoid that man," said a complaisant and comfortable looking old Mahommedan, pointing to one of his companions, as he quitted the hut, after having just blessed him in the name of Allah, "for believe me, he will take every opportunity of deceiving you, and if you go so far as to trust him with any of your property, he will cheat you of every kowrie."

The venerable speaker had a number of gilt buttons, nearly new, in his possession, which they had given him to sell, for they were frequently obliged to make such shifts for a meal, and when his invective was finished, he arose to take his leave, but the self-righteous priest had neglected, in the hurry of discourse, to secure a few buttons which he had purloined, for as he stood up they dropped from the folds of his garment on the floor. The man's confusion was immediately apparent, but they did not wish to punish him further by increasing his shame, and they suffered him to go about his business, in the belief that the circumstance had wholly escaped their observation. Gilt buttons fetch a high price at Kiama, from two to three hundred kowries each, and as they had a great number of them, it was likely that from henceforth they would be of infinite service to them. Women use buttons to ornament their fingers, necks, and wrists, and they imagine that the brightest of them are made of gold.

A messenger arrived this day at the king's house with the information, that Doncasson, the ex-king of Houssa, had recently taken no less than twelve towns in that empire from the Fellatas, in which he had been greatly assisted by the sheik of Bornou. The Fellatas have a tradition, that when Danfodio, Bello's father, and the first king of Soccatoo, was a simple shepherd, he made a vow to the great author of evil, that if he would assist him in the subjugating the kingdom of Houssa, he would be his slave for ever after. The request of Danfodio, it is reported, was complied with on his own conditions, but for no longer than thirty years, after which the aborigines of the country were to regain their liberty, and re-establish their ancient laws and institutions. The term was now nearly expired, and the Fellatas began already, said the Houssa men, to tremble with apprehensions at the prospect of this tradition being realized.

June 1st, was the eve of the Bebun Salah, or great prayer day, and which is generally employed by the Mussulmans in Kiama, in making preparations for a festival which was to commence on the following day, and to be continued till the evening of the ensuing day. Every one in the town, who is in possession of the means, is obliged to slaughter either a bullock or a sheep on the anniversary of this day, and those who are not in possession of money sufficient to procure a whole bullock or sheep, are compelled to purchase a portion of the latter, at least, for the purpose of showing respect and reverence for the "Bebun Salah." The Mahommedans make a practice on this occasion of slaughtering the sheep, which may have been their companion in their peregrinations during the past year, and as soon as the holidays are over, they procure another to supply its place, and at the return of the festival, to undergo a similar fate. The company of one of these animals is preferred by the natives to that of a dog.

On the following morning a company of eight or ten drummers awoke them by the dismal noise of their drums, and by the exclamation of "turawa au, azhie," signifying, "white men, we wish you fortune," which was repeated in a high shrill tone every minute.

During the night, Kiama was visited by a thunder storm, which continued with dreadful violence for many hours, and the torrents of rain which fell, threatened to overwhelm them in their huts. Before they were aware of it, the water had rushed in at the door, and had completely soaked their mats and bedclothes, setting every light article in the room afloat. After much trouble they succeeded in draining it off, and prevented its further ingress, when they lit a large fire in the centre of the hut, and laid themselves down by the side of it to sleep. Towards morning it also rained heavily again, and to all appearances the wet season had at length fairly set in. Under those circumstances, it would be found almost next to impossible to travel much further, and if they were fortunate to reach Yaoorie, they would be obliged to remain there some time, till the roads should have become sufficiently hard and dry for their future progress. Their chief hope was, that the rains might not be so incessant at their commencement, so as to render the path to Yaoorie impassable.

On Wednesday June 2nd, the threatening appearance of the weather prevented the Mahommedans from repairing to the spot, which they had selected for the purposes of devotion, so early in the morning as they, could have wished, but the clouds having dispersed, they had all assembled there between the hours of nine and ten.

The worshippers arranged themselves in six lines or rows, the women forming the last, and sat down on as many ridges of earth, which had apparently been thrown up for the purpose. The chief mallam no sooner began a prayer, than the talking and noise of the multitude ceased, and the deepest attention seemed to be paid by every one, though the substance of what he said could only be guessed at, because it was in Arabic, which none of them understood a word of. The ceremony much resembled that which was performed at Badagry; and the forms, which are generally practised, it is supposed, on all public religious meetings in mahommedan countries, such as ablution, prostration, &c., were observed on this occasion. The king, however, did not rise, as he should have done, when the worshippers stood up, but satisfied himself with uttering the name of Allah, and by simple prostration only. When the usual form of prayer had been gone through, the chief mallam placed himself on a hillock, and for about five minutes read to the people a few loose pages of the Koran, which he held in his hand. While thus engaged, two priests of inferior order knelt beside him to hold the hem of his tobe, and a third, in the same position, held the skirts from behind. After he had finished reading, the priest descended from the hillock, and with the help of his assistants, slaughtered a sheep which had been bound and brought to him for sacrifice. The blood of the animal was caught in a calabash, and the king and the more devoted of his subjects washed their hands in it, and sprinkled some of it on the ground. The conclusion of the ceremony was announced by the discharge of a few old muskets, and with drums beating and fifes playing, the people returned to their respective homes. The majority of them were smartly dressed in all the finery they could procure. About a hundred of the men rode on horseback, with lances and other weapons in their hands, which, with the gay trappings of the horses, gave them a respectable appearance.

In the afternoon, all the inhabitants of the town, and many from the little villages in the neighbourhood, assembled to witness the horse racing, which always takes place on the anniversary of the Belun Salah, and to which every one had been looking forward with the greatest impatience. Previously to its commencement, the king with his principal attendants rode slowly on round the town, more for the purpose of receiving the admiration and plaudits of his people, than to observe where distress more particularly prevailed, which was his avowed intention. In this respect we do not see that the African kings are a jot worse than the Europeans; it is true, indeed, that the African monarch has in some measure the advantage over the European, for we have never heard that any European king, particularly an English one, ever even conceived the idea of parading the town in which he might reside, for the purpose of finding and relieving the distressed, but when he does condescend to show himself amongst the people, to whom he is indebted for the victuals which he eats, it is for the purpose of attending some state mummery, or seeing a number of human beings standing in a row, with the weapons of murder in their hands, but which, when called into action to gratify the senseless ambition of the said king, is called privileged homicide. An inspection of these human machines is called a review; were some kings to institute a review of their own actions, it would be better for themselves, and better for the people, to whom a blind and stupid fortune has given him as their log.

The kings of Africa, like other kings, attach a great importance to a great noise, called a salute, and, therefore, a hint was given to the Landers to bring their pistols with them to the race course, that they might salute the king as he rode by them; a salute is the same thing, whether it be from a pop-gun or a two and thirty pounder, for all salutes generally end in smoke, which shows their folly and insignificance. The Landers felt a strong inclination to witness the amusements of the day, and they arrived at the course rather sooner than was necessary, which, however, afforded them a fairer opportunity of observing the various groups of people, which were flocking to the scene of amusement.

The race course was bounded on the north by low granite hills, on the south by a forest, and on the east and west by tall shady trees; amongst which, were habitations of the people. Under the shadow of these magnificent trees, the spectators were assembled, and testified their happiness by their noisy mirth and animated gestures. When the Landers arrived, the king had not yet made his appearance on the course, but his absence was fully compensated by the pleasure they derived from watching the anxious and animated countenances of the multitude, and in passing their opinions on the taste of the women in the choice and adjustment of their fanciful and many coloured dresses. The wives and younger children of the chief, sat near them in a group by themselves, and were distinguished from their companions by their superior dress. Manchester cloths of an inferior quality, but of the most showy patterns, and dresses made of common English bed-furniture, were fastened round the waist of several sooty maidens, who, for the sake of fluttering a short hour in the gaze of their countrymen, had sacrificed in clothes the earnings of a twelve months labour. All the women had ornamented their necks with strings of beads, and their wrists with bracelets of various patterns, some made of glass beads, some of brass, and others of copper, and some again of a mixture of both metals; their ankles were also adorned with different sorts of rings, of neat workmanship.

The distant sound of drums gave notice of the king's approach, and every eye was immediately directed to the quarter whence he was expected. The cavalcade shortly appeared, and four horsemen first drew up in front of the chiefs house, which was near the centre of the course, and close to the spot where his wives and children, and themselves were sitting. Several men bearing on their heads an immense number of arrows in large quivers of leopard's skin, came next, followed by two persons, who, by their extraordinary antics and gestures, were concluded to be buffoons. These two last were employed in throwing sticks into the air as they went on, and adroitly catching them in falling, besides performing many whimsical and ridiculous feats. Behind them, and immediately preceding the king, a group of little boys nearly naked, came dancing merrily along, flourishing cows' tails over their heads in all directions.

The king rode onwards, followed by a number of fine-looking men, on handsome steeds, and the motley cavalcade all drew up in front of his house, where they awaited his further orders without dismounting. This the Landers thought was the proper time to give the first salute, so they accordingly fired three rounds, and their example was immediately followed by two soldiers with muskets, which were made at least a century and a half ago, nevertheless, they yielded fire, smoke, noise, and a stink, which are in general the component parts of all royal salutes.

Preparations in the mean time had been going on for the race, and the horses with their riders made their appearance. The men were dressed in caps, and loose tobes and trousers of every colour; boots of red morocco leather, and turbans of white and blue cotton. Their horses were gaily caparisoned; strings of little brass bells covered their heads; their breasts were ornamented with bright red cloth and tassels of silk and cotton, a large guilted pad of neatly embroidered patchwork was placed under the saddle of each; and little charms, inclosed in red and yellow cloth were attached to the bridle with bits of tinsel. The Arab saddle and stirrup were in common use, and the whole group presented an imposing appearance.

The signal for starting was made, and the impatient animals sprung forward, and set off at a full gallop. The riders brandished their spears, the little boys flourished their cow's tail; the buffoons performed their antics, muskets were discharged, and the chief himself, mounted on the finest horse on the ground, watched the progress of the race, while tears of delight were starting from his eyes. The sun shone gloriously on the tobes of green, white, yellow, blue, and crimson, as they fluttered in the breeze; and with the fanciful caps, the glittering spears, the jingling of the horses' bells, the animated looks and warlike bearing of their riders, presented one of the most extraordinary and pleasing sights that they had ever witnessed. The race was well contested, and terminated only by the horses being fatigued and out of breath; but though every one was emulous to outstrip his companion, honour and fame were the only reward of the competitors.

The king maintained his seat on horseback during these amusements, without even once dismounting to converse with his wives and children, who were sitting on the ground on each side of him. His dress was showy rather than rich, consisting of a red cap, enveloped in the large folds of a white muslin turban; two under tobes of blue and scarlet cloth, and an outer one of white muslin; red trousers, and boots of scarlet and yellow leather. His horse seemed distressed by the weight of his rider, and the various ornaments and trappings with which his head, breast, and body were bedecked. The chief's eldest and youngest sons were near his women and other children, mounted on two noble-looking horses. The eldest of these youths was about eleven years of age. The youngest being not more than three, was held on the back of his animal by a male attendant, as he was unable to sit upright on the saddle without this assistance. The child's dress was ill suited to his age. He wore on his head a light cap of Manchester cotton, but it overhung the upper part of his face, and together with its ends, which flapped over each cheek, hid nearly the whole of his countenance from view; his tobe and trousers were made exactly in the same fashion as those of a man, and two large belts of blue cotton, which crossed each other, confined the tobe to his body. The little legs of the child were swallowed up in clumsy yellow boots, big enough for his father, and though he was rather pretty, his whimsical dress gave him altogether so odd an appearance, that he might have been taken for any thing but what he really was.

A few of the women on the ground by the side of the king wore large white dresses, which covered their persons like a winding sheet. Young virgins, according to custom, appeared in a state of nudity; many of them had wild flowers stuck behind their ears, and strings of beads, &c., round their loins; but want of clothing did not seem to damp their pleasure in the entertainment, for they entered with as much zest as any of their companions. Of the different coloured tobes worn by the men, none looked so well as those of a deep crimson colour on some of the horsemen; but the clear white tobes of the mahommedan priests, of whom not less than a hundred were present on the occasion, were extremely neat and becoming. The sport terminated without the slightest accident, and the king dismounting was a signal for the people to disperse.


The travellers left Kiama on Saturday June 5th, and arrived at Kakafungi, the halting place, shortly after ten o'clock in the morning. The distance from Kiama was about ten miles. It was a straggling, but extensive and populous town, and was delightfully situated on an even piece of ground. The inhabitants were so clean and well behaved, and their dwellings so neat and comfortable, that before the Landers had spoken many words to one of them, they were prepossessed in their favour. Nor was this opinion in any degree lessened, when after they had been introduced into a commodious and excellent hut, they received the congratulations of the principal people. They came to them in a body, followed by boys and girls carrying a present of two kids, with milk and an abundance of pounded corn, and remained with them the greater part of the day.

John Lander was here taken seriously ill, and his fever was so severe that he was obliged to lie on his mat till the carriers were ready to depart, which took place at two p.m., their path lying through a perfect wilderness, and presenting a greater degree of barrenness, than any thing which they had hitherto met with. The length of the journey, the insufferable heat of the sun, combined with the speed with which they were obliged to travel, greatly increased the malady of John Lander. He was occasionally obliged to dismount, and lie on the ground for relief, being lifted off and replaced on his horse by their attendants. The two Landers were far behind the rest of the party, on account of the inability of John Lander to keep pace, and they discharged a pistol every now and then as a signal to the carriers of their approach. As each report echoed through the forest, it was answered by the increased howlings of wild animals, till at length, they gladly saw the gleam of a large fire, and arrived at the encampment, which had been prepared for them. Here they took possession for the night, of a few deserted huts, which were falling to decay.

The rest which John Lander had obtained during the night, appeared to have revived him, and he seemed in better spirits, with an abatement of his fever. They accordingly proceeded on their journey, and after bathing, crossed the Oly in a canoe, which they found tied to a tree. During the whole of the day, they travelled under a burning sun, and in the evening pitched their tent near a small stream. John Lander was very ill, his fever having returned with increased violence. A storm gathered over their heads a few minutes after the tent had been fixed, and presently burst with increased violence. While it lasted, they were occupied with the thoughts of their forlorn condition. The deafening noise of the thunder, as it echoed among the hills, the overpowering glare of the lightning, the torrents of rain, and the violence of the wind were truly awful. The whole of their party were collected in the tent for shelter from the storm, and in spite of the water which ran through it, contrived to sleep till morning.

They were obliged to lie the whole of the night in their wet clothes, the effects of which were visible in John Lander in the morning. His brother endeavoured, in vain, to rally him, but he was scarcely able to stand. The tent was packed up in its wet state, and the carriers hastened onwards as fast as they could, for the provisions were consumed, and they were anxious to get to their journey's end without delay. As they advanced, John Lander became worse, till at length, he was completely overcome, and to prevent falling off his horse, he dismounted and was laid down. There was not a tree near them, which could shelter them from the sun, so with the assistance of his people, Richard obtained a few branches, and formed a sort of bower, their horses' pads answering the purpose of a bed. During the remainder of the day, John became worse, and the medicine chest had been sent with the other things. In this dilemma, with no food at hand, the condition of the travellers was most deplorable. Richard with the view of obtaining some refreshment for his brother, went into the wood and shot the only bird he saw, which was not much bigger than the sparrow. With this, he returned, made a fire, and prepared a little soup in a half-pint cup, which for want of salt, was rather unsavoury, nevertheless it was of service to his brother; the flesh of the bird, Richard divided between himself and his man, both of them being weak for want of food. They now contrived to make a more substantial habitation for the invalid, of some stout branches of trees, and thatched it with long grass; they also lighted large fires round it to keep off the wild beasts, but sleep was out of the question, for they were attacked by myriads of mosquitoes, and buzzing flies, attracted by the glare of the fires. A prowling tiger was the only savage animal that approached near enough to be seen during the night.

On the following morning, a considerable improvement having taken place in John Lander's health, they set forward in good spirits, and shortly after sunset arrived in the vicinity of Coobly, without experiencing so much fatigue as had been anticipated. Having waited on the governor, as a matter of courtesy, they were detained but a few moments, and then repaired to the hut assigned to them, where John was soon after seized with the return of the fever, more severe than the former. The governor sent them a bowl of rice, one of milk, two calabashes of butter, and a fine fat bullock.

The situation of Richard Lander was now distressing in the extreme, his brother became hourly worse, and every moment was expected to be his last. During the few intervals he had from delirium, he seemed to be aware of his danger, and entered into arrangements respecting his family concerns. At this moment Richard's feelings were of too painful a nature to be described. The unhappy fate of his late master, Clapperton, came forcibly to his mind. He had followed him into the country, where he perished; he had attended him in his parting moments; he had performed for him the last mournful office which our nature requires, and the thought that he should have to go through the same sad ceremony for his brother, overwhelmed him with grief.

Two messengers now arrived from Boossa with a quantity of onions as a present from the queen. They were commanded by the king to await their departure from Coobly, and escort them to the city of Boossa, which was said to be about two days journey from Coobly.

The illness of John Lander, to the great joy of his brother, now took a favourable turn, and he became more tranquil and freer from pain, and preparations were now made for their departure from Coobly. For some hours before their departure, Richard was greatly annoyed by an old woman, who applied to him for medicine that would produce her an entire new set of teeth, or, she, "if I can only be supplied with two large and strong ones, I shall be satisfied with them." The woman at last became rather impertinent, when Richard recommended her two iron ones from the blacksmith, which so much displeased her, that she went away in a pet. The governor supplied them every day with abundance of rice and milk, in fact, nothing could surpass his benevolence and general good humour.

They quitted Coobly on the 15th June, and on the following morning entered a snug pretty little town called Zalee, lying in a rich and romantic valley, formed by a gap in a triple range of elevated hills, which ran from east to west. The governor sent them a goat, a fowl, a calabash of rice, and a quantity of corn for the horses. Zalee contained about a thousand inhabitants.

Their course from Zalee was in a south-easterly direction, and shortly after leaving the town, they came to a fine extensive plain, on which stood a few venerable and magnificent trees. Numerous herds of antelopes were feeding, which on hearing the report of their guns, bounded over the plain in all directions. From this place they beheld the city of Boossa, which lay directly before them at the distance of two or three miles, and appeared to be formed of straggling clusters of huts. To their great astonishment, however, on a nearer approach, Boossa was found to be standing on the main land, and not on an island in the Niger, as described by Captain Clapperton. Nothing could be discovered, which could warrant the assertion as laid down by that traveller. At ten o'clock they entered the city by the western gateway, and discharged their pieces as the signal of their arrival.

After waiting a few minutes, they were introduced to the king, whom they found in an interior apartment of his residence, in company with the Midilie, the title bestowed on his principal wife or queen. They welcomed the travellers to Boossa, with every appearance of cordiality. They told them very gravely, and with rueful countenances, that they had both been weeping in the morning for the death of Captain Clapperton, whose untimely end they would never cease to lament. It is true, they might have been so engaged, but as on their entrance, no outward signs of tears appeared, they rather mistrusted the information which had been imparted to them.

On the day subsequently to their arrival, they were visited by the noted widow Zuma, who presented herself to them without the slightest pretensions to finery of any kind, either in her dress or ornaments, for she was clad in very humble apparel of country cloth. She related to them with great good humour, her quarrels with her prince, the ruler of Wowow, and her consequent flight from that city to escape his resentment. It appeared that in order to effect this, she was actually obliged to climb over the city wall in the night, and travel on foot to Boossa, which was a very long journey, and to a woman of her size, must have been an arduous task. She alleged that she had done nothing whatever to merit the displeasure of the Wowow chief, notwithstanding which, he had robbed her of all her household furniture and a number of her slaves. But from another quarter, they learnt that one of her sons had committed a theft in the city, for which he would have suffered death, if he had not made his escape with his mother, who, it was said, had instigated him to the deed. The widow complained sadly of poverty and the hardness of the times; she had fought with the Youribeans against Alorie, but instead of receiving a recompense for her bravery; she had lost half of her slaves in an engagement, which so disgusted her with the military profession, that she immediately abandoned it and returned home. Yet in spite of all her losses and misfortunes, she had gained so much in corpulency, that it was with the utmost difficulty she could squeeze herself into the doorway of their hut, although it was by no means small. The widow Zuma was a very good-looking person of matronly appearance, and her skin of a light copper colour.

After the widow had left them, Richard carried the presents which had been selected for the king and queen. Each appeared delighted with them, and the former more especially was extravagant in his expressions of admiration and thankfulness. A pair of silver bracelets, a tobacco pipe, and a looking-glass, seemed to rivet the attention of the king, who could not take his eyes off them for a full half hour, so much was he pleased with them.

The Landers now visited the far famed Niger or Quorra, which flowed by the city about a mile from their residence, and were greatly disappointed at the appearance of this celebrated river. In its widest part it was not more than a stone's throw across. The rock on which Richard Lander sat, overlooked the spot where Mr. Park and his associates met their untimely fate; he could not help meditating on that circumstance, and on the number of valuable lives that had been sacrificed in attempting to explore that river, and he secretly implored the Almighty, that he might be the humble means of setting at rest for ever the great question of its source and termination.

The queen of a country is generally the standard of fashion, and therefore some idea may be formed of the fashions of Boossa, by the following description of the dress in which the Midikie or queen of Boossa paid a visit to the Landers. Her majesty was clad in a common check shirt of Nooffie manufacture, a plain piece of blue cotton was fastened round her head, wholly concealing the hair, a larger piece of the same kind was thrown over her left shoulder, and a third tied round her waist, reached so far as the middle of the leg. Her feet were bare, as were likewise her arms up to the elbow; a brass ring ornamented each great toe, and eight silver bracelets each wrist, the least of them weighing little less than a quarter of a pound. Besides these ornaments, the queen wore a necklace of coral and bits of gold, and small pieces of pipe coral were stuck in the lobe of each ear.

It was the opinion of Lander that it would have been bad policy on his part, to have stated the true reason of his visiting this country, knowing the jealousy of most of the people with regard to the Niger; and, therefore, in answer to the king's inquiries, he was obliged to deceive him with the assertion, that his object was to go to Bornou, by way of Yaoorie, requesting at the same time, a safe conveyance through his territories. This answer satisfied the king, and he promised them every assistance in his power. In the course of conversation the king observed that he had in his possession a tobe, which belonged to a white man, who came from the north many years ago, and from whom it had been purchased by the king's father. The Landers expressed a great curiosity to see this tobe, and in a very short time after the departure of the king, it was sent to them as a present. Contrary to their expectations, they found it to be made of rich crimson damask, and very heavy from the immense quantity of gold embroidery with which it was covered. As the time, when the late king is said to have purchased this tobe, corresponds very nearly to the supposed period of Mr. Park's death, and as they never heard of any other white man having come from the north so far south as Boossa, they were inclined to believe it part of the spoil obtained from the canoe of that ill-fated traveller. Whether Mr. Park wore the tobe himself, which was scarcely possible on account of its weight, or whether he intended it as a present to a native chief, they were at a loss to determine. The king himself had never worn the tobe, nor did his predecessor, from a superstitious feeling; besides, observed the king, "it might excite the cupidity of the neighbouring powers."

King George the Third of England was a button-maker, and therefore no wonder need be excited at the information which was sent to the Landers from the king of Boossa, announcing to them that his majesty was a tailor, and that he would thank them much for some thread and a few needles for his own private use; the king also took it into his head that as he was a tailor, the Landers must be gunsmiths, and therefore he sent them his muskets to repair, but it being Sunday when the guns were sent, they declined the job until the following day.

Eager as they were to obtain even the slightest information relative to the unhappy fate of Mr. Park and his companions, as well as to ascertain if any of their books or papers were then in existence at that place, still they had almost made up their minds to refrain from asking him any questions on the subject, because they were apprehensive that it might be displeasing to the king, and involve them in many perplexities. Finding the king, however, to be an affable, obliging, and good-natured personage, they were emboldened to send Pascoe to him with a message expressive of the interest they felt on the subject, in common with all their countrymen, and saying, that if any books or papers which belonged to Mr. Park were yet in his possession, he would do them a great service by delivering them into their hands, or at least granting them permission to see them. To this, the king returned for answer, that when Mr. Park was lost on the Niger, he, the king, was a very little boy, and that he knew not what had become of his effects; that the deplorable event had occurred in the reign of the late king's predecessor, who died shortly after, and that all traces of the white men had been lost with him.

This answer disappointed the hopes of the Landers, for to them it appeared final and decisive. But in the evening their hopes were again excited by a hint from their host, who was the king's drummer, and one of the principal men in the country; he assured them, that there was at least one book saved from Mr. Park's canoe, which was then in the possession of a very poor man in the service of his master, to whom it had been entrusted by the late king during his last illness. He said moreover, that if but one application were made to the king on any subject whatever, very little was thought of it, but if a second were made, the matter would be considered of sufficient importance to demand his whole attention; such being the custom of the country. The drummer therefore recommended them to persevere in their inquiries, for he had no doubt that something to their satisfaction would be elicited. At his own request, they sent him to the king immediately, desiring him to repeat their former statement, and to assure the king, that should he be successful in recovering the book they wanted, their monarch would reward him handsomely. The king desired the drummer to inform them, that he would use every exertion, and examine the man, who was reported to have the white man's book in his possession.

On the following day, the king came to see them, followed by a man with a book under his arm, which was said to have been picked up in the Niger after the loss of their countrymen. It was enveloped in a large cotton cloth, and their hearts beat high with expectation, as the man was slowly unfolding it, for by its size they guessed it to be Mr. Park's journal, but their disappointment and chagrin were great, when on opening the book, they discovered it to be an old nautical publication of the last century. The title page was missing, but its contents were chiefly tables of logarithms. It was a thick royal quarto, which led them to conjecture that it was a journal. Between the leaves they found a few loose papers of very little consequence indeed; one of them contained two or three observations on the height of the water in the Gambia; one was a tailor's bill on a Mr. Anderson, and another was addressed to Mr. Mungo Park, and contained an invitation to dine. The following is a copy of it:

"Mr. and Mrs. Watson would be happy to have the pleasure of Mr. Park's company at dinner on Tuesday next, at half past five o'clock.

An answer is requested.

Strand, 9th Nov. 1804."

The king, as well as the owner of the book, looked as greatly mortified as they themselves did, when they were told that the one produced, was not that of which they were in quest, because the reward promised would not of course be obtained. As soon as their curiosity had been fully satisfied, the papers were carefully collected and placed again between the leaves, and the book as carefully folded in its envelope as before, and taken away by its owner, who valued it as much as a household god. Thus all their hopes of obtaining Mr. Park's journal or papers in the city of Boossa were entirely defeated.

At an early hour of Wednesday June 23rd, the king and queen paid the travellers a farewell visit, when the former particularly cautioned them against poison. They then expressed their acknowledgements to both the royal personages for all their favours and an hour or two after they had taken their departure, the Landers rode out of the city, accompanied by two horsemen as an escort, and a foot messenger to the sultan of Yaoorie. They journied along the banks of the Niger at an easy pace, and two hours afterwards entered a pleasant little walled town called where they were desired to halt until the following day the governor of Kagogie had been made acquainted with their intention, no less than three days before their arrival, yet no canoe had been got ready for their use, and when they expected to embark, "the king of the canoe," as the person who has the care of it, is ridiculously styled, informed them with the utmost unconcern, that it was out of repair, and that it would not be fit for their reception for some hours at least. In the course of the afternoon they repaired to the side of the river, for the purpose of endeavouring to encourage and hurry the workmen in their labour about the canoe. Promises and threats were employed to effect this object, but the men would neither be coaxed nor intimidated—they would not overwork themselves, they said, for all the riches in their possession, so that they were obliged to leave them and exercise their patience. The branch of the Niger which flows by Kagogie, is about a mile in width, but it is rendered so shallow by large sand banks, that except in one very narrow place, a child might wade across it without difficulty.

About mid-day the workmen having finished the canoe, the luggage was presently put into it, and between twelve and one they embarked with their people, and were launched out into the river. The direction of this branch was nearly east and west, and they proceeded some distance down the stream for the purpose of getting into the main branch of the Niger, where there was deeper water.

Having encountered a dreadful storm, which threatened to swamp the canoe, and which obliged them ultimately to take refuge on land, for the purpose of sheltering themselves from the violence of the tornado, they came to a place, where, a short distance from the water's edge, the country was thickly studded with clusters of huts, which altogether are called the village of Sooloo. They took up their quarters in a large hut, which was nearest the landing place. They were treated with much hospitality by the natives, who did all in their power to render their short stay as agreeable as possible. The old chief of the village accompanied them to the water's edge, when they quitted their hut for the purpose of embarking, and enjoined "the king of the canoe," to be particularly careful of his charge. "Careful," answered the man, "to be sure I will, do I not know that white men are more precious than a boat load of eggs, and require as much care to be taken of them." The Landers entreated the same man a short time afterwards, to be more active and diligent in the management of his canoe, for he was rather inclined to be lazy, and suffered every canoe to go before their own, but he replied gravely, "Kings do not travel so fast as common men, I must convey you along as slowly as possible."

About eleven a.m. on the following day, they landed at the foot of a small village, on the east bank of the river, where the horses and men had arrived before them. They rested under a large tree an hour or two, awaiting the arrival of the carriers from the city of Yaoorie, who had been sent for on the preceding day, by one of the Boossa messengers that had charge of their horses. These men arrived at the village, between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, and they immediately mounted and rode onwards. On attaining the summit of a steep hill, they rode over a very narrow pathway so much overhung by an impenetrable thorny shrub, that there was no room for more than one man to walk. This led them to the wall of Yaoorie, and they entered the city through an amazingly strong passage, in which was an immense iron door, covered with plates of iron, rudely fastened to the woodwork. They were almost exhausted with fatigue on their arrival, insomuch that they excused themselves from visiting and paying their respects to the sultan, and they were conducted to a convenient habitation, which had been prepared for them. They soon obtained an introduction to the prince, whom they had been so desirous to visit. After passing through a low dark avenue, and being kept long standing in a yard, they were conducted into another area, resembling that of a farm establishment. Here they discovered the sultan sitting alone in the centre of the square, on a plain piece of carpeting, with a pillow on each side of him, and a neat brass pan in front. His appearance was not only mean, but absolutely squalid and dirty. He was a big-headed, corpulent, jolly-looking man, well stricken in years, and though there was something harsh and forbidding in his countenance, yet he was generally smiling during the conference. He showed considerable dissatisfaction, because neither Clapperton nor Lander had paid their court to him on their previous journey, and still more on being informed that their means of making a present had been reduced very low by the rapacity of the chiefs already visited. In regard to Park's papers, he merely replied, with an affected laugh, "How do you think that I could have the books of a person that was lost at Boossa?" Afterwards being pressed upon the subject, he despatched an Arab to inform them, that he declared to God in the most solemn manner, that he had never had in his possession, nor seen any books or papers of the white travellers that perished at Boossa. Thus it appeared, that his overture upon that subject to Clapperton, by which the Landers had been so unguardedly lured, was a mere pretext to induce them to visit him, and bestow a portion of the valuable articles with which they were understood to be provided. His whole conduct was in perfect unison with this first specimen of it. He did not, indeed, absolutely rob them, but there was no artifice so petty that he did not employ it, in order to obtain the few commodities which still remained in their possession. Wishing to purchase some things, he induced the Landers to send them, desiring that they should affix their own price; he then said they asked too much, on which pretext he delayed, and in a great measure evaded paying for them at all. The travellers, in their ill-judged confidence in his friendship, requested him to furnish a boat, in which they might descend the Niger. He replied, they might have one for a hundred dollars, but being unable to command that sum they were finally obliged to apply to their friend, the king of Boossa, whom they had so unreasonably distrusted, and who cheerfully undertook to supply their wants.

The city of Yaoorie is of prodigious extent, and is supposed to be as populous as any other in the whole continent, or at least that part of it which is visited by the trading Arabs. Its wall is high and very excellent, though made of clay alone, and may be between twenty and thirty miles in circuit, and it has eight vast entrance gates or doors, which were well fortified after the manner of the country. The residence of the sultan, as well as the houses of many of the principal inhabitants of the city, are two stories in height, having thick and clumsy stairs of clay, leading to the upper apartments, which are rather lofty, and, together with rooms on the ground floor, have door-ways sufficiently large to enable a person to enter without putting himself to the inconvenience of stooping. The principal part of the houses is built in the circular or coozie fashion, but the inhabitants have a few square ones, and the sultan's are of no regular form whatever. It may be considered somewhat singular, that the majority of the natives of western and central, and it may be said, also of northern Africa, moisten the floors of their huts, and the inside of their walls with a solution of cow dung and water, two or three times a day, or as often as they can find the materials. Though disagreeable to the smell of an European, this keeps the interior of a dwelling as cool as it is dark.

The Landers were anxious to expedite their departure, but the sultan sent word to inform them that he would be occupied three days in writing to the king of England, and he would, therefore, thank them to remain in Yaoorie till the expiration of that period. On the following day, however, the sultan told them in plain and decisive terms, that he could not send them either by way of Koolfu or Guarie, because the Fellatas were in both of those places, and their fate then would soon be decided. He wished, however, to be expressly understood, that it was from no disinclination on his part to send them to either of those places, but that his great regard for them would not permit him to lead them into danger. Now the Landers knew very well that the Fellatas had not the superiority either in Koolfu or Guarie; the natives of the latter place, in particular, having long since cut off the heads of all the Fellatas that could be found in their country, and from that time they had enjoyed the most perfect independence. The sultan of Yaoorie further said, that the best thing he could do, was to send them back again to Boossa, and from thence he was certain they might have liberty to go anywhere. The moment they found this to be his intention, they returned to their house, and having formed their resolution, they instantly despatched one of their men with a message to the king of Boossa, to the following effect:

"That finding their presents insufficient to defray their expenses on the road to Guarie and Bornou, they were under the necessity of returning to the salt water to obtain more. That the chief of Badagry, who is governor of that part of the coast, at which they had landed, had treated them so very ill, while they were with him, that he would detain them in his town for the remainder of their lives, if they were to return by the way they had come, and by so doing, that they should be unable to avoid falling into his power. Besides which, the journey thither was so long that they should experience the same, or even greater inconvenience than if they were to proceed to Bornou through Catsheenah. Under these circumstances, they were extremely desirous of travelling to the salt water by a shorter and safer route, and would therefore prefer going by Fundah, as the easiest and likeliest means of accomplishing that end. But as they had heard that the road to that kingdom by land was infested with Fellatas, who live by plunder and violence, they should feel infinitely obliged to him (the king of Boossa,) if he could either sell or lend them a canoe to proceed thither by water, and if so, that they would remunerate him to the utmost of their ability."

They awaited the return of their messenger With considerable anxiety, and if an unfavourable answer were returned, they were resolved, instead of proceeding to Boossa, to push on to Guarie, and thence to Funda, as they originally intended, whatever might be the consequence.

After the usual lapse of time, the Boossa messenger returned, and to their unspeakable joy, informed them that the king had consented to procure for them a canoe, to proceed to Funda, provided the road by land could not be depended on. He, however, candidly stated his inability to protect their persons from insult and danger beyond his own territories, and that they must solicit the good will of the prince of Wowow, and the other rulers on the banks of the Niger, and further, that their own men alone must manage the canoe, because no one at Boossa would be willing, for various reasons, to accompany them on the journey. They were, therefore, in a fair way of accomplishing the object of the expedition. The sultan of Yaoorie, however, put off their departure from day to day, and from week to week, under a variety of nonsensical excuses, and they were persuaded that it was his intention to detain them, until he had drained them of every thing that was valuable. On Monday the 26th of July, however, to their surprise and pleasure, a messenger from the king of Boossa arrived, to ascertain the reason of such unwarrantable conduct on the part of the sultan, and to request their immediate release. One of the inducements urged by this monarch for their longer stay with him, was rather whimsical. He had made them a present of a quantity of worthless feathers, which he had caused to be plucked from the body of a live ostrich, and because he entertained an opinion that if others were added to them, they would altogether form a very acceptable present to the king of England, he informed them that it would be necessary they should wait till such time as the ostrich should regain its plumage, in order for that part of its body, which had not been previously plucked, to undergo a similar operation, for the weather, he asserted, was much too cold for the bird to lose all its feathers at one and the same time, and further to encourage their growth, he would order that two thousand kowries worth of butter, (about twelve pounds weight,) should be diligently rubbed into the skin of the animal. This was, however, an arch trick on the part of the sultan, for he was indebted to the Landers in a considerable sum for some buttons, which he had purchased of them, and this butter affair was intended as a kind of set-off, as the sultan said he did not approve of paying for the butter out of his own pocket. On the 1st August, the sultan sent a messenger to inform them that they were at liberty to pay their respects, and take their farewell of him previously to their departure from the city, which they were assured should take place on the following day, without any further procrastination or delay. They were glad to obey the summons, for such they considered it, and on their arrival at his residence, they were introduced into a large, gloomy, uncomfortable apartment; a number of swallows' nests were attached to the ceiling of the room, and their twittering owners, which were flying about in all directions, fed their young without interruption, and added not a little to the filthiness of the unswept and unclean apartment. The conversation during the interview was as uninteresting and spiritless, as their conversations with other native rulers had always been. The sultan, however, could not pay his debt, but by way of another set-off he offered them a female slave, which was just as much use to them as the ostrich feathers, however, the sultan was resolved to pay them in that species of coin, and therefore they took the lady, and old Pascoe immediately adopted her as his wife.

On Monday the 2nd, all was hurry, bustle, and confusion, in getting their things ready for their departure, and after the beasts had been laden, and the people had their burdens on their head, they had to wait for the sultan's long expected letter to the king of England. A mallam was at length perceived hurrying towards them with it, and after him came the venerable Arab chief, to honour them with his company a little way on their journey. This crafty old man was not their friend, for he had used them deceitfully, and misrepresented them and their goods to his master, and they enjoyed an innocent kind of revenge, in administering to him, after repeated applications, a powerful dose of medicine, which though harmless in its effects, had yet been very troublesome to him. Indeed it was not till they had "jalaped" the sultan, his sister, and all the royal family, that they were permitted to take their farewell of Yaoorie.

The following is the letter of the sultan of Yaoorie, as it was translated into English by A. O. Salame:

"Praise be to God, and blessings and salutations be unto that (prophet), since whom there has been no other prophet.

"To our friend in God, and his apostle (Mahommed), the prince of the English Christians; salutation and mercy, and blessings of God, be unto you, from your friend, the sultan of Yaouri, whose name is Mahommed Ebsheer. Perfect salutation be unto you, (and) may God cause your mornings and evenings to be most happy, with multiplied salutations (from us).

"After our salutation unto you (some) ostrich feathers will reach you, (as a present,) from the bounty and blessings of God (we have in our country), and we, together with you, thank God (for what he has bestowed). And salutation be unto your hired people, (your suite) and peace be unto our people, who praise God.

(Signed,) From the PRINCE OF YAOURI."

Of this letter, Mr. Salame says, that it is the worst of the African papers which he had seen, both as to its ungrammatical and unintelligible character. Indeed, his Yaourick majesty seemed to be sadly in need of words to make himself intelligible. It must be remarked, that the words between parentheses are not in the original, but supplied by the translator for the purpose of reducing the letter to some kind of meaning.


Owing to the reputed badness of the path, that by which the Landers had entered Yaoorie, was rejected for a more northerly one, leading in almost a direct line to the river Cubbie. About mid-day they arrived at the walls of a pretty considerable town, called Guada, and halted near a small creek of a river flowing from Cubbie, and entering the Niger a little lower down. Here, as soon as they had taken a slight refreshment, they sent their beasts across the Niger to proceed by land to Boossa, and embarked in two canoes, which were each paddled by four men. On entering the Niger, they found it running from two to three miles an hour, and they proceeded down the river till the sun had set; and the moon was shining beautifully on the water, as they drew near to a small Cumbrie village on the borders of the river, where they landed and pitched their tent. The inhabitants of many of the numerous walled towns and open villages on the banks of the Niger, and also of the islands, were found to be for the most part Cumbrie people, a poor, despised, and abused, but industrious and hard-working race. Inheriting from their ancestors a peaceful, timid, passionless, incurious disposition, they fall an easy prey to all who choose to molest them; they bow their necks to the yoke of slavery without a murmur, and think it a matter of course; and perhaps no people in the world are to be found who are less susceptible of intense feeling, and the finer emotions of the human mind, on being stolen away from their favourite amusements and pursuits, and from the bosom of their wives and families, than these Cumbrie people, who are held in general disesteem. Thousands of them reside in the kingdom of Yaoorie, and its province of Engarski, and most of the slaves in the capital have been taken from them.

As they proceeded down the Niger by a different channel from that by which they had ascended it to Yaoorie, they had fresh opportunities of remarking the more striking features on its banks. The river, as might naturally be expected, was much swollen, and its current more impetuous, than when they passed upon their voyage to Yaoorie. In the earlier part of the evening they landed at a small Cumbrie village, and their canoes were pulled upon a sandy beach for the night in security.

At seven o'clock on the following morning, they were once more upon the Niger, and about noon they observed a herd of Fellata cows grazing on the banks of the river, and a very short distance from them, they saw an immense crocodile floating on the surface like a long canoe, for which it was at first mistaken, and watching an opportunity to seize one of the cows, and destroy it by dragging it into the river. As soon as the terrific reptile was perceived by the canoemen, they paddled as softly as possible towards him, intending to wait at a short distance till the crocodile should have accomplished his object, when they agreed to pull rapidly towards the shore, and reap the fruit of the reptile's amazing strength, by scaring him off from his prey, or destroying him with harpoons, for the skin of the crocodile is not in this country considered impenetrable. Their intentions were, however, frustrated by the sudden disappearance of the crocodile, which dived the moment he perceived the canoe so near him, making a loud plashing noise, and agitating the water in a remarkable manner in his descent. They waited some time, in hopes he would rise again, but they were not again gratified with the sight of the monster.

Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse