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 the compliment, 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."
Mr. Park had now been detained a whole month in Ali's camp, during which each returning day brought him fresh distresses. In the evening alone, his oppressors left him to solitude and reflection. About midnight, a bowl of kouskous, with some salt and water, was brought for him and his two attendants, being the whole of their allowance for the following day, for it was at this time the Mahometan Lent, which, being kept with religious strictness by the Moors, they thought proper to compel their Christian captive to a similar abstinence. Time, in some degree, reconciled him to his forlorn state: he now found that he could bear hunger and thirst better than he could have anticipated; and at length endeavoured to amuse himself by learning to write Arabic. The people, who came to see him, soon made him acquainted with the characters. When he observed any one person, whose countenance he thought malignant, Mr. Park almost always asked him to write on the sand, or to decipher what he had written, and the pride of showing superior attainment generally induced him to comply with the request.
Mr. Park's sufferings and attendant feelings decreased in intenseness from time and custom; his attempts, as the first paroxysms ceased, to find the means to amuse and shorten the tedious hours, is a fine picture, of human passions; and their variations, circumstances, and situations, which, before they were encountered, would appear intolerable, generate a resolution and firmness, which render them possible to be borne. Providence, with its usual benevolence, willing the happiness of mankind, fortifies the heart to the assaults, which it has to undergo.
On the 14th of April, Ali proposed to go two days journey, to fetch his queen Fatima. A fine bullock was therefore killed, and the flesh cut into thin slices, was dried in the sun; this, with two bags of dry kouskous, served for food on the road. The tyrant, fearing poison, never ate any thing not dressed under his immediate inspection. Previously to his departure, the negroes of Benown, according to a usual custom, showed their arms and paid their tribute of corn and cloth.
Two days after the departure of Ali, a shereef arrived with merchandize from Walet, the capital of the kingdom of Biroo. He took up his abode in the same hut with Mr. Park, and appeared be a well-informed man, acquainted with the Arabic and Bambarra tongues; he had travelled through many kingdoms; he had visited Houssa, and lived some years at Timbuctoo. Upon Mr. Park's inquiring the distance from Walet to Timbuctoo, the shereef, learning that he intended to travel to that city, said, it would not do, for Christians were there considered as the devil's children, and enemies to the prophet.
On the 24th, another shereef arrived, named Sidi Mahomed Moora Abdallah, and with these two men Mr. Park passed his time with less uneasiness than formerly, but as his supply of victuals was now left to slaves, over whom he had no control, he was worse supplied than during the past month. For two successive nights, they neglected to send the accustomed meal, and the boy, having begged a few handfuls of ground nuts, from a small negro town near the camp, readily shared them with his master. Mr. Park now found that when the pain of hunger has continued for some time, it is succeeded by languor and debility, when a draught of water, by keeping the stomach distended, will remove for a short time every sort of uneasiness. The two attendants, Johnson and Demba, lay stretched upon the sand in torpid slumber, and when the kouskous arrived, were with difficulty awakened. Mr. Park felt no inclination to sleep, but was affected with a deep convulsive respiration, like constant sighing, a dimness of sight, and a tendency to faint, when he attempted to sit up. These symptoms went off when he had received nourishment.
On the 29th of April, intelligence arrived at Benown, that the Bambarra army was approaching the frontiers of Ludamar. Ali's son, with about twenty horsemen, arriving, ordered all the cattle to be driven away, the tents to be struck, and the people to depart. His orders were instantly obeyed; the baggage was carried upon bullocks, one or two women being commonly placed upon the top of each burden. The king's concubines rode upon camels, with a saddle of an easy construction, and a canopy to keep the sun from them. On the 2nd of May, they arrived at Ali's camp, and Mr. Park waited immediately upon him; he seemed much pleased with his coming, and introduced him to Fatima, his favourite princess, saying, "that was the Christian." The queen had long black hair, and was remarkably corpulent; she appeared at first shocked at having a Christian so near her, but when Mr. Park had, by means of a negro boy, satisfied her curiosity, she seemed more reconciled, and presented him with a bowl of milk.
The heat and the scarcity of water were greater here than at Benown. One night, Mr. Park, having solicited in vain for water at the camp, resolved to try his fortune at the wells, to which he was guided by the lowing of cattle. The Moors were very busy in drawing water, and when Mr. Park requested permission to drink, they drove him away with outrageous abuse. He at last came to a well, where there were an old man and two boys, to whom he made the same request. The former immediately drew up a bucket of water, but recollecting Mr. Park was a Christian, and fearing the bucket would be polluted by his lips, he dashed the water into the trough, and told him to assuage his thirst from it. The cows were already drinking at the trough, but Mr, Park resolved to come in for his share, and, accordingly, thrusting his head between two of the cows, he drank with great pleasure till the water was nearly exhausted.
Thus passed the month of May, Ali still considered Mr. Park as his lawful prisoner, and Fatima, though she allowed him a greater quantity of victuals than fell to his portion at Benown, yet she made no efforts for his release. Some circumstances, however, now occurred, which produced a change in his favour more suddenly than he expected. The fugitive Kaartans, dreading the resentment of the sovereign, whom they had so basely deserted, offered to treat with Ali for two hundred Moorish horsemen to assist them in an effort to expel Daisy from Gedinggooma, for till Daisy should be vanquished, they could neither return to their native town, nor live in security in the neighbouring kingdoms. Ali, with a view to extort money from these people, despatched his son to Jarra, and prepared himself to follow him. Mr. Park, believing that he might escape from Jarra, if he could get there, immediately applied to Fatima, prime counsellor of the monarch, and begged her to intercede with Ali for leave to accompany him to Jarra. The request was at length granted. His bundles were brought before the royal consort, and Mr. Park explained the use of the several moveables, for the amusement of the queen, and received a promise of speedy permission to depart.
In regard to the moorish character, especially the female, which Mr. Park had frequent opportunities of studying during his captivity at Benown; it appears that the education of the women is neglected altogether, they being evidently regarded merely as administering to sensual pleasure. The Moors have singular ideas of feminine perfection. With them, gracefulness of figure, and an expressive countenance, are by no means requisite. Beauty and corpulency are synonymous. A perfect moorish beauty is a load for a camel and a woman of moderate pretensions to beauty requires a slave on each side to support her. In consequence of this depraved taste for unwieldiness of bulk, the moorish ladies take great pains to acquire it early in life, and for this purpose, the young girls are compelled by their mothers to devour a great quantity of kouskous, and drink a large portion of camel's milk every morning. It is of no importance whether the girl has an appetite or not, the kouskous and milk must be swallowed, and obedience is frequently enforced by blows.
The usual dress of the women is a broad piece of cotton cloth wrapped round the middle, which hangs down like a petticoat; to the upper part of this are sewed two square pieces, one before and the other behind, which are fastened together over the shoulders. The head dress is a bandage of cotton cloth, a part of which covers the face when they walk in the sun, but frequently, when they go abroad, they veil themselves from head to foot. Their employment varies according to their situation. Queen Fatima passed her time in conversing with visitors, performing devotions, or admiring her charms in a looking-glass. Other ladies of rank amuse themselves in similar idleness. The lower females attend to domestic duties. They are very vain and talkative, very capricious in their temper, and when angry vent their passion upon the female slaves, over whom they rule despotically.
The men's dress differs but little from that of the negroes, except that they all wear the turban, universally made of white cotton cloth. Those who have long beards display them with pride and satisfaction, as denoting an Arab ancestry. "If any one circumstance," says Mr. Park, "excited amongst the Moors favourable thoughts towards my own person, it was my beard, which was now grown to an enormous length, and was always beheld with approbation or envy. I believe, in my conscience, they thought it too good a beard for a Christian."
The great desert of Jarra bounds Ludamar on the north. This vast ocean of sand is almost destitute of inhabitants. A few miserable Arabs wander from one well to another, their flocks subsisting upon a scanty vegetation in a few insulated spots. In other places, where the supply of water and pasturage is more abundant, small parties of Moors have taken up their residence, where they live in independent poverty, secure from the government of Barbary. The greater part of the desert, however, is seldom visited, except where the caravans pursue their laborious and dangerous route. In other parts, the disconsolate wanderer, wherever he turns, sees nothing around him but a vast indeterminable expanse of sand and sky; a gloomy and barren void, where the eye finds no particular object to rest upon, and the mind is filled with painful apprehensions of perishing with thirst. Surrounded by this dreary solitude, the traveller sees the dead bodies of birds, that the violence of the wind has brought from happier regions; and as he ruminates on the fearful length of his remaining passage, listens with horror to the voice of the driving blast, the only sound that interrupts the awful repose of the desert.
The antelope and the ostrich are the only wild animals of these regions of desolation, but on the skirts of the desert are found lions, panthers, elephants, and wild boars. Of domestic animals the camel alone can endure the fatigue of crossing it: by the conformation of his stomach, he can carry a supply of water for ten or twelve days; his broad and yielding foot is well adapted for treading the sand; his flesh is preferred by the Moors to any other, and the milk is pleasant and nourishing. On the evening of the 25th of May, Mr. Park's horse and accoutrements were sent to him by order of Ali. He had already taken leave of queen Fatima, who most graciously returned him part of his apparel, and early on the 20th, he departed from the camp of Bubaker, accompanied by Johnson and Demba, and a number of moorish horsemen.
Early in the morning of the 28th of May, Mr. Park was ordered to get in readiness to depart, and Ali's chief slave told the negro boy, that Ali was to be his master in future; then turning to Mr. Park, he said, the boy and every thing but your horse go back to Bubaker, but you may take the old fool (meaning Johnson, the interpreter) with you to Jarra. Mr. Park, shocked at the idea of losing the boy, represented to Ali, that whatever imprudence he had himself been guilty of, in coming into Ludamar, he thought he had been sufficiently punished by being so long detained, and then plundered of his property. This, however, gave him no uneasiness, compared to the present injury. The boy seized on was not a slave, and accused of no offence. His fidelity to his master had brought him into his present situation, and he, as his protector, could not see him enslaved without deprecating the cruelty and injustice of the act. Ali, with a haughty and malignant smile, told his interpreter, that if Mr. Park did not depart that instant, he would send him back likewise. Finding it was vain to expect redress, Mr. Park shook hands with his affectionate boy, who was not less affected than himself, and having blended his tears with those of the boy, assured him he would spare no pains to effect his release. Poor Demba was led off by three of Ali's slaves towards the camp at Bubaker.
On the 1st of June, they departed for Jarra, where Mr. Park took up his residence with his old friend, Daman Jamma, whom he informed of every thing that had befallen him. Mr. Park then requested Daman to endeavour to ransom the boy, and promised him a bill upon Dr. Laidley for the value of two slaves as soon as Demba arrived at Jarra. Daman undertook the business, but Ali, considering the boy as Mr. Park's principal interpreter, and fearing he should be instrumental in conducting him to Bambarra, deferred the matter day after day, but told Daman, he himself should have him hereafter, if he would, at the price of a common slave. To this Daman agreed whenever the boy was sent to Jarra.
On the 8th of June, Ali returned to Bubaker to celebrate a festival, and permitted Mr. Park to remain with Daman until his return. Finding that every attempt to recover his boy was ineffectual, he considered it an act of necessity to provide for his own safety before the rains should be fully set in, and accordingly resolved to escape and proceed alone to Bambarra, as Johnson, the interpreter, had refused further attendance. On the 28th of June, at daybreak, Mr. Park took his departure, and in the course of the day arrived at Queira; where he had not been a long time, before he was surprised by the appearance of Ali's chief slave and four Moors. Johnson having contrived to overhear their conversation, learned that they were sent to convey Mr. Park back to Bubaker. In the evening two of the Moors were observed privately to examine Mr. Park's horse, which they concluded was in too bad a condition for his rider's escape, and having inquired where he slept, they returned to their companions. Mr. Park, on being informed of their motions, determined to set off immediately for Bambarra to avoid a second captivity. Johnson applauded his resolution, but positively refused to accompany him, having agreed with Daman to assist in conducting a caravan of slaves to Gambia.
In this emergency Mr. Park resolved to proceed by himself, and about midnight got his clothes in readiness, but he had not a single bead, nor any other article of value, wherewith to purchase victuals for himself or his horse. At daybreak, Johnson, who had been listening to the Moors all night, came to inform him they were asleep, on which, taking up his bundle, Mr. Park stepped gently over the negroes, who were sleeping in the open air, and having mounted his horse, bade Johnson farewell, desiring him to take particular care of the papers, with which he had entrusted him, and to inform his friends on the Gambia, that he had left him in good health proceeding to Bambarra.
Mr. Park advanced with great caution for about the space of a mile, when looking back he saw three Moors on horseback, galloping at full speed and brandishing their double-barrelled guns. As it was impossible to escape, he turned and met them, when two caught hold of his bridle, and the third presenting his musket, said he must go back to Ali. Mr. Park rode back with the Moors, with apparent unconcern, when, in passing through some thick bushes, one of them desired him to untie his bundle and show them the contents, but finding nothing worth taking, one of them pulled his cloak from him, and wrapped it about himself. This was the most valuable article in Mr. Park's possession, as it defended him from the rains in the day, and from the mosquitoes at night, he therefore earnestly requested them to return it, but to no purpose. Mr, Park now perceived, that these men had only pursued him for the sake of plunder, and turned once more towards the east. To avoid being again overtaken, he struck into the woods, and soon found himself on the right road.
Joyful as he now was, when he concluded he was out of danger, he soon became sensible of his deplorable situation, without any means of procuring food, or prospect of finding water. Oppressed with excessive thirst, he travelled on without having seen a human habitation. It was now become insufferable; his mouth was parched and inflamed, a sudden dimness frequently came over his eyes, and he began seriously to apprehend that he should perish for want of drink. A little before sunset, he climbed a high tree, from the topmost branches of which he took a melancholy survey of the barren wilderness. A dismal uniformity of shrubs and sand every-where presented itself, and the horizon was as level and uninterrupted as that of the sea. Descending from the tree, Mr. Park found his horse devouring the stubble and brushwood with groat avidity. Being too faint to attempt walking, and his horse too much fatigued to carry him, Mr. Park thought it was the last act of humanity he should ever be able to perform, to take off his bridle and let him shift for himself; in doing which he was suddenly affected with sickness and giddiness, and falling upon the sand, felt as if the hour of death was approaching. "Here then," said he, "after a short but ineffectual struggle, terminate all my hopes of being useful in my day and generation; here must the short span of my life come to an end. I cast, as I believe, a last look on the surrounding scene, and whilst I reflected on the awful change that was about to take place, this world, with all its enjoyments, seemed to vanish from my recollection." Nature, however, resumed her functions, and on recovering his senses, he found the bridle still in his hand, and the sun just setting. He now summoned all his resolution, and determined to make another effort to prolong his existence. With this view he put the bridle on his horse, and driving him before him went slowly along for about an hour, when he perceived some lightning from the north-east; to him a delightful sight, as it promised rain, The wind began to roar amongst the bushes, and he was nearly suffocated with sand and dust, when the wind ceased, and for more than an hour the rain fell plentifully. He spread out his clothes to collect it, and assuaged his thirst by wringing and sucking them. The night was extremely dark, and Mr. Park directed his way by the compass, which the lightning enabled him to observe. On a sudden he was surprised to see a light at a short distance, and leading his horse cautiously towards it, heard by the lowing of the cattle and the clamour of the herdsmen, that it was a watering place. Being still thirsty, he attempted to search for the wells, but on approaching too near to one of the tents, he was perceived by a woman, who immediately gave an alarm; Mr. Park, however, eluded pursuit by immerging into the woods. He soon after heard the croaking of frogs, and following the sound arrived at some shallow muddy pools, where he and his horse quenched their thirst. The morning being calm, Mr. Park ascended a tree, and not only saw the smoke of the watering place which he had passed in the night, but also another pillar of smoke to the east, about twelve or fourteen miles distant. Directing his course thither, he reached some cultivated ground, on which some negroes were at work, by whom he was informed that he was near a Foulah village, belonging to Ali, called Shrilla. He had some doubts about entering it, but at last ventured, and riding up to the dooty's house was denied admittance, and even refused a handful of corn for his horse. Leaving this inhospitable door, he rode slowly out of the town towards some low huts scattered in the suburbs. At the door of a hovel hut, an old woman with a benevolent countenance sat spinning cotton. Mr. Park made signs that he was hungry, on which she immediately laid down her distaff, invited him to the hut, and set before him a dish of kouskous, of which he made a comfortable meal. In return for her kindness Mr. Park gave her a pocket handkerchief, begging at the same time a little corn for his horse, which she readily brought.
While the horse was feeding, the people began to assemble, and one of them whispered something to the old woman, which greatly excited her surprise. Mr. Park knew enough of the Foulah language, to discover that some of the men wished to apprehend and carry him to Ali, in hope of receiving a reward. He therefore tied up the corn, and to prevent suspicion that he had run away from the Moors, took a northerly direction. When he found himself clear of his attendants, he plunged again into the woods, and slept under a large tree. He was awakened by three Foulahs, who supposing him to be a Moor, pointed to the sun, and said it was time to pray. Coming to a path leading southwards, which he followed until midnight, he arrived at a small pool of rain water. Resting here for the night, the mosquitoes and flies prevented him from sleeping, and the howling of the wild beasts in the vicinity kept his horse in continual terror.
On the following morning, he came to a watering place belonging to the Foulahs, one of the shepherds invited him to come into his tent, and partake of some dates. There was just room enough in this tent to sit upright, and the family and furniture were huddled together in the utmost confusion. When Mr. Park had crept into it upon his hands and knees, he found in it a woman and three children, who with the shepherd and himself completely occupied the floor. A dish of boiled corn and dates was produced, and the master of the family, according to the custom of the country, first tasted it himself, and then offered a part to his guest. Whilst Mr. Park was eating, the children kept their eyes fixed upon him and no sooner had their father pronounced the word mazarini, than they began to cry; their mother crept cautiously towards the door, and springing out of the tent, was instantly followed by her children; so truly alarmed were they at the name of a Christian. Here Mr. Park procured some corn for his horse, in exchange for some brass buttons, and thanking the shepherd for his hospitality departed. At sunset he came into the road which led to Bambarra, and in the evening arrived at Wawra, a negro town belonging to Kaarta.
Now secure from the Moors, and greatly fatigued, Mr. Park meeting with a hearty welcome from the dooty, rested himself at this place. He slept soundly for two hours on a bullock's hide. Numbers assembled to learn who the stranger was, and whence he came; some thought him an Arab, others a moorish sultan, and they debated the matter with such warmth, that their noise at length awoke him. The dooty, however, who had been at Gambia, at last interposed, and assured them that he was certainly a white man, but from his appearance a very poor one.
In the afternoon, the dooty examined Mr. Park's bag, but finding nothing valuable, returned it and told him to depart in the morning. Accordingly Mr. Park set out, accompanied by a negro, but they had not proceeded above a mile, when the ass upon which the negro rode, kicked him off, and he returned, leaving Mr. Park to travel by himself. About noon he arrived at a town, called Dingyee, where he was hospitably entertained by an old Foulah.
When Mr. Park was about to depart on the following day, the Foulah begged a lock of his hair, because "white men's hair made a saphie, that would give to the possessor all the knowledge of white men." Mr. Park instantly complied with his request, but his landlord's thirst for learning was such, that he had cropped one side of his head, and would have done the same with the other, had not Mr. Park signified his disapprobation, and told him that he wished to preserve some of this precious ware.
After travelling several days, without meeting with any occurrence of particular note. Mr. Park arrived at Doolinkeaboo, where the dooty, at his request, gave him a draught of water, which is usually given as an earnest of greater hospitality. Mr. Park promised himself here a good supper and a comfortable bed, but he had neither the one nor the other. The night was rainy and tempestuous, and the dooty limited his hospitality to the draught of water. The next morning, however, when the dooty was gone to the fields, his wife sent Mr. Park a handful of meal, which, mixed with water, served him for breakfast.
He departed from Doolinkeaboo in company with two negroes, who were going to Sego. They stopped at a small village, where an acquaintance of one of the negroes invited them to a public entertainment. They distributed with great liberality a dish called sinkatoo, made of sour milk, meal, and beer. The women were admitted into the society, a circumstance which had never come under Mr. Park's observation before; every one drank as he pleased; they nodded to each other when about to drink, and on setting down the calabash, commonly said berha (thank you.) Both men and women were in a state of intoxication, but were far from being quarrelsome.
Mr. Park and the two negroes then resumed their journey, and passed several large villages, where the former was constantly taken for a Moor, and with his horse, which he drove before him, afforded much mirth to the Bambarrans. "He has been at Mecca," says one; "you may see that by his clothes." Another asked him if his horse was sick? A third wished to purchase it, &c., and even the negroes at last seemed ashamed of his company. They lodged that night at a small village, where Mr. Park procured victuals for himself and corn for his horse, in exchange for a button, and was told that he should see the Niger, which the negroes call Joliba, or the Great Water, early on the following day. The thought of seeing the Niger in the morning, and the buzzing of the mosquitoes, kept Mr. Park awake the whole of the night, he had saddled his horse, and was in readiness before daylight, but as the gates of the village were shut on account of the wild beasts, he was obliged to wait until the people were stirring. At length, having departed, they passed four large villages, and in a short time saw the smoke over Sego.
On approaching the town, Mr. Park was fortunate enough to overtake the fugitive Kaartans, to whose kindness he had been so much indebted in his journey through Bambarra. They readily agreed to introduce him to the king, and they rode together through some marshy ground, where, as he was anxiously looking round for the river, one of them exclaimed, "Geo affili" see the water! and looking forwards, Mr. Park says, "I saw, with infinite pleasure, the great object of my mission, the long sought for majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. [*] I hastened to the brink, and having drank of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success."
[Footnote: We cannot reconcile this statement of Park with the subsequent discovery of Lander, who established the fact, that the Niger empties itself into the Bight of Benin. The Niger, flowing to the eastward, could not possibly have the Bight of Benin for its estuary, nor is it laid down in any of the recent maps as having an easterly direction.]
Mr. Park now proceeded towards Sego, the capital of Bambarra, which consists of four distinct towns; two on the northern bank of the Niger, called Sego Korro and Sego Koo, and two on the southern bank, called Sego Soo Korro and Sego See Korro. The king of Bambarra always resides at the latter place. He employs a great many slaves to convey people over the river, and the fare paid by each individual, ten kowrie shells, furnishes a considerable revenue. When Mr. Park arrived at one of the places of embarkation, the people, who were waiting for a passage, looked at him with silent wonder, and he saw with concern many Moors amongst them. He had continued on the bank more than two hours, without having an opportunity of crossing, during which time information was carried to Mansong, the king, that a white man was coming to see him. Mansong immediately sent over one of his chief men, who informed Mr. Park that the king could not possibly see him until he knew what had brought him to Bambarra. He then pointed towards a distant village, and desired Mr. Park to take up his lodgings there, and in the morning he would give him further instructions.
Greatly discouraged at this reception, Mr. Park set off for the village, but found, to his further mortification, that no person would admit him into his house, and that he was regarded with general astonishment and fear. Thus situated, he sat all day without victuals, under the shade of a tree. Towards night, the wind arose, and as there was great appearance of a heavy rain, he thought of passing the night among the branches of the trees, to secure himself from wild beasts. About sunset a woman, returning from the labours of the field, stopped to observe him, and perceiving that he was weary and dejected, inquired into his situation, which he briefly explained to her; whereupon, with looks of great compassion, she took up his saddle and bridle, and told him to follow her. Having conducted him into her hut, she lighted up a lamp, spread a mat on the floor, and told him he might remain there for the night. She then went out, and returned in a short time with a fine fish, which, having half broiled, she gave him for supper. After telling him that he might sleep without apprehension, she called to the female part of the family, who stood gazing in fixed astonishment, to resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they employed themselves the greater part of the night. They lightened their labours by songs, one of which at least was extempore, as their guest was the subject of it. It was sung by one of the young women, the rest joining in chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were as follow:—
"The winds roared, and the rains fell; The poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him milk—no wife to grind his corn.
Let us pity the white man, no mother has he." &c.
This circumstance was to Mr. Park, affecting in the highest degree. He was oppressed by such unexpected kindness, and the sleep fled from his eyes. In the morning he presented his compassionate landlady with two of the four buttons which remained on his waistcoat, the only recompense which he had in his power. Mr. Park remained in the village the whole of July the 21st, in conversation with the natives. Towards evening he grew uneasy, to find that no message arrived from the king, the more so, when he learned from the villagers, that the Moors and Slatees, resident at Sego, had given Mansong very unfavourable accounts of him, that many consultations had been held concerning his reception and disposal; that he had many enemies, and must expect no favour. On the following day, a messenger arrived from the king, who inquired if Mr. Park had brought any present, and seemed much disappointed, on being told that he had been robbed of all his effects by the Moors. When Mr. Park proposed to go to court, he said he must stop until the afternoon, when the king would send for him. It was the afternoon of the next day, however, before another messenger arrived from Mansong, who told Mr. Park, it was the king's pleasure he should depart immediately from the environs of Sego, but that Mansong, wishing to relieve a white man in distress, had sent five thousand kowries [*] to him to continue his journey, and if it were his intention to proceed to Jenne, he (the messenger) had orders to guide him to Sansanding. Mr. Park concludes his account of this adventure in the following words:—
[Footnote: Kowries are little shells, which pass current as money, in many parts of the East Indies as well as in Africa. Mr. Park estimates about 250 kowries equal to one shilling. One hundred of them would purchase a day's provision for himself and corn for his horse.]
"I was at first puzzled to account for this behaviour of the king, but from the conversation I had with the guide, I had afterwards reason to believe, that Mansong would willingly have admitted me into his presence at Sego, but was apprehensive he might not be able to protect me against the blind and inveterate malice of the moorish inhabitants. His conduct, therefore, was at once prudent and liberal. The circumstances, under which I made my appearance at Sego, were undoubtedly such as might create in the mind of the king a well-warranted suspicion, that I wished to conceal the true object of my journey. He argued, probably as my guide argued, who, when he was told that I was come from a great distance, and through many dangers, to behold the Joliba (Niger) river, naturally inquired if there were no rivers in my own country, and whether one river was not like another? Notwithstanding this, and in spite of the jealous machinations of the Moors, this benevolent prince thought it sufficient, that a white man was found in his dominions in a condition of extreme wretchedness, and that no other plea was necessary to entitle the sufferer to his bounty."
Being thus obliged to leave Sego, Mr. Park was conducted the same evening to a village, about seven miles eastward, where he and his guide were well received, as Mr. Park had learned to speak the Bambarra tongue without difficulty. The guide was very friendly and communicative, and spoke highly of the hospitality of his countrymen; but he informed Mr. Park, that if Jenne was the place of his destination, he had undertaken a very dangerous enterprise, and that Timbuctoo, the great object of his search, was altogether in possession of the Moors, who would not allow any Christians to reside in it. In the evening they passed a large town called Kabba, situated in the midst of a beautiful and highly cultivated country, bearing a great resemblance to the centre of England.
In the course of the following day, they arrived at Sansanding, a large town, containing 10,000 inhabitants, much frequented by the Moors, in their commercial dealings. Mr. Park desired his guide to conduct him to the house where they were to lodge, by the most private way possible They accordingly rode along between the town and the river, and the negroes, whom they met, took Mr. Park for a Moor, but a Moor, who was sitting by the river side, discovered the mistake, and, making a loud exclamation, brought together a number of his countrymen; and when Mr. Park arrived at the house of the dooty, he was surrounded by a number of people, speaking a variety of dialects. By the assistance of his guide, however, who acted as interpreter, Mr. Park at length understood that one of the Moors pretended to have seen him at one place, and another at some other place; and a Moorish woman absolutely swore, that she had kept his house three years at Gallam on the river Senegal. The Moors now questioned Mr. Park about his religion, but finding he was not master of the Arabic, they sent for two Jews, in hopes that they might be able to converse with him. The Moors now insisted that he should repeat the Mahometan prayers, and when he told them that he could not speak Arabic, one of them started up, and swore by the prophet, if Mr. Park refused to go to the mosque, he would assist in carrying him thither.
Finding the Moors becoming exceedingly clamorous, the dooty interfered, and told them that he would not see the king's stranger ill treated while under his protection, but that in the morning he should be sent about his business. This somewhat appeased their clamour, but they compelled Mr. Park to ascend a high seat by the door of the mosque, that every one might see him, where he remained till sunset, when he was conducted to a neat little hut, with a small court before it; but the Moors climbed in crowds over the mud walls, to see the white man perform his evening devotions, and eat eggs. The first demand was positively declined, but he professed his utmost readiness to comply with the second; the dooty immediately brought seven hens' eggs, but was much surprised that Mr. Park would not eat them raw, as it is a prevalent opinion in the interior of Africa, that Europeans subsist chiefly on this diet. His reluctance to partake of this fare exalted him in the eyes of his sage visitants; his host accordingly killed a sheep, and gave him a plentiful supper.
Mr. Park's route now lay through woods, much infested with all kinds of wild animals. On one occasion, his guide suddenly wheeled his horse round, calling out (Warra billi billi, a very largo lion.) Mr. Park's steed was ill fitted to convey him from the scene of danger, but seeing nothing, he supposed his guide to be mistaken, when the latter exclaimed, "God preserve me;" and Mr. Park then saw a very large red lion, with his head couched between his fore paws. His eyes were fixed, as by fascination, on this sovereign of the beasts, and he expected every moment the fatal spring; but the savage animal, either not pressed by hunger, or struck with some mysterious awe, remained immovable, and allowed the party to pass without molestation. Real misery arose from a meaner cause, namely, the amazing swarms of mosquitoes, which ascended from the swamps and creeks, to whose attack, from the ragged state of his garments, he was exposed at every point, and so covered over with blisters, that he could not get any rest at night. An affecting crisis next arrived. His horse, the faithful and suffering companion of his journey, had been daily becoming weaker. At length, stumbling over some rough ground, he fell; all his master's efforts were insufficient to raise him, and no alternative remained, but to leave the poor animal, which Mr. Park did, after collecting some grass and laying it before him, not without, however, a sad presentiment, that, ere long, he also might have to lie down and perish with hunger and fatigue.
Proceeding along the banks of the river, he reached Kea, a small fishing village. The dooty, a surly old man, received him very coolly, and when Mr. Park solicited his protection, replied with great indifference, that he should not enter his house. Mr. Park knew not now where to rest, but a fishing canoe at that moment coming down the river, the dooty waved to the fisherman to land, and desired him to take charge of the stranger as far as Moorzan.
When the canoe had proceeded about a mile down the river, the fisherman paddled to the bank, and having desired Mr. Park to jump out, tied the canoe to a stake; he then stripped off his clothes, and dived into the water, where he remained so long that Mr. Park thought he was drowned, when he suddenly raised up his head astern of the canoe, and called for a rope. With this rope he dived a second time, and then got into the canoe, and with the assistance of the boy, they brought up a large basket, ten feet in diameter, containing two fine fish, which the fisherman carried ashore, and hid in the grass. The basket was then returned into the river, and having proceeded a little further down, they took up another basket, in which was one fish.
About four o'clock, they arrived at Moorzan, where Mr. Park was conveyed across the river to Silla, a large town. Here he remained under a tree, surrounded by hundreds of people, till it was dark, when, with a great deal of entreaty, the dooty allowed him to enter his balloon to avoid the rain, but the place was very damp, and his fever returned.
The reflections, which now occurred to him, with the determination those reflections produced, are here given in his own words. "Worn down by sickness, exhausted with hunger and fatigue, half naked, and without any article of value, by which I might procure provisions, clothes, or lodging, I was now convinced, that the obstacles to my further progress were insurmountable. The tropical rains were already set in, the rice grounds and swamps were every where overflowed, and in a few days more, travelling of every kind, except by water, would be completely obstructed. The kowries, which remained of the king of Bambarra's present, were not sufficient to enable me to hire a canoe for any great distance, and I had little hope of subsisting by charity, in a country where the Moors have such influence. I saw inevitable destruction in attempting to proceed to the eastward. With this conviction on my mind, I hope it will be acknowledged, that I did right in going no further. I had made every effort to execute my mission in its fullest extent, which prudence could justify. Had there been the most distant prospect of a successful termination, neither the unavoidable hardships of the journey, nor the dangers of a second captivity should have forced me to desist."
Mr. Park now acquainted the dooty with his intention of returning to Sego, proposing to travel along the southern side of the river, but the dooty informed him, that from the number of creeks and swamps on that side, it was impossible to travel by any other route than the northern bank, and even that route would soon be impassable from the overflowing of the river. However, by the dooty's recommendation, Mr. Park was conveyed to Moorzan in a canoe, where he hired another canoe for thirty kowries, which conveyed him to Kea, where, for forty kowries more, the dooty permitted him to sleep in the same hut with one of his slaves. This poor negro, perceiving he was sickly, and his clothes very ragged, humanely lent him a large cloth to cover him for the night.
The following day Mr. Park set out for Madiboo, in company with the dooty's brother, who promised to carry his saddle, which he had before left at Kea. On their road they observed a great number of earthen jars, piled up on the bank of the river. As they approached towards them, the dooty's brother plucked up a large handful of herbage, which he threw upon them, making signs for Mr. Park to do the same, which he did. The negro then informed him, that those jars belonged to some supernatural power, and were found in their present situation about two years ago, and that every traveller, as he passed them, from respect to the invisible proprietor, threw some grass upon the heap to defend them from the rain. Thus conversing, they travelled on in the most friendly manner, until they perceived the footsteps of a lion, when the negro insisted that Mr. Park should walk before. The latter refused, on which the negro, after a few high words, and menacing looks, threw down the saddle and left him. Mr. Park having given up all hope of obtaining a horse, took off the stirrups and girth, and threw the saddle into the river. The negro, however, when he saw the saddle in the water jumped in, and bringing it out by the help of his spear, ran away with it.
Mr. Park now continued his course alone, and in the afternoon reached Madiboo. His guide, who had got there before him, being afraid he should complain of his conduct, restored the saddle, and Mr. Park also found his horse alive.
On the 1st of August, Mr. Park proceeded to Nyamere, where he remained three days, on account of the continual rain. On the 5th, he again set out, but the country was so deluged, that he had to wade across creeks for miles together, knee-deep in water. He at length arrived at Nyara, and on the subsequent day, with great difficulty reached a small village called Nemaboo.
Mr. Park being assured that in the course of a few days, the country would be overflowed, was anxious to engage a fellow traveller, when a Moor and his wife who were going to Sego, riding on bullocks, agreed to take him along with them; they were, however, unacquainted with the road, and were very bad travellers. Instead of wading before the bullocks, to feel if the ground was solid the woman boldly entered the first swamp, seated upon the top of the load, but when she had proceeded about two hundred yards the bullock sunk into a hole, and threw both the load and herself amongst the reeds; she was nearly drowned before her husband went to her assistance.
At sunset they reached Sibity, but the dooty received Mr. Park very coolly, and when he solicited a guide to Sansanding, told him his people were otherwise engaged. Mr. Park passed the night in a damp old hut, which he expected every moment would fall upon him; for when the walls of the huts are softened with the rain, they frequently become too weak to support the roof. Mr Park heard three huts fall in during the night, and the following morning, saw fourteen in like manner destroyed. The rain continued with great violence, and Mr. Park being refused provisions by the dooty, purchased some corn, which he divided with his horse.
The dooty now compelled Mr. Park to leave Sibity, and accordingly he set out for Sansanding, with little hope of receiving better treatment, for he had discovered that it was universally believed, he had come to Bambarra as a spy; and as Mansong had not admitted him into his presence, the dooties of the different towns were at liberty to treat him as they pleased. He arrived at Sansanding at sunset, where his reception was just what he expected. The dooty, who had been so kind to him formerly, privately informed him, that Mansong had sent a canoe to Jenne to bring him back, he therefore advised him to leave Sansanding before day-break, and not to stop at any town near Sego. Mr. Park accordingly took his departure from Sansanding, and proceeded to Kabba. Several people were assembled at the gate, one of whom running towards him, took his horse by the bridle, and led him round the walls of the town, then pointing to the west, told him to go along, or it would fare worse with him. Mr. Park hesitating, a number of people came up, and urged him in the same manner, and he now suspected that some of the king's messengers, who were in search of him, were in the town, and that these negroes from humanity wished him to escape. He accordingly took the road for Sego, and having passed a village, the dooty of which refused him admittance, proceeded to a smaller one, where the dooty permitted him to sleep in a large balloon.
Leaving his miserable residence by break of day, he arrived in the afternoon at a small village within half a mile of Sego, where he endeavoured in vain to procure some provisions. He was again informed that Mansong had sent people to apprehend him, and the dooty's son told him he had no time to lose, if he wished to escape. Mr. Park now fully saw the danger of his situation, and determined to avoid Sego altogether, and taking the road to Diggani, until he was out of sight of the village, struck to the westward through high grass and swampy ground. About noon he stopped under a tree, to consider what course to take, and at length determined to proceed along the Niger, and endeavour to ascertain how far the river was navigable. About sunset he arrived at a village called Sooboo, where, for two hundred kowries, he procured a lodging for the night.
After passing the villages of Samee and Kaimoo, he arrived at a small town called Song, the inhabitants of which would not permit him to enter the gate, but as lions were numerous in the adjoining woods, he resolved to stay near the town, and accordingly laid down under a tree by the gate. In the night, a lion kept prowling round the village, and once advanced so near Mr. Park, that he heard him rustling amongst the grass, and climbed the tree for safety. He had before attempted to enter the gate, and on being prevented, informed the people of his danger. About midnight the dooty, with some of the inhabitants, desired him to come in; they were convinced, they said, that he was not a Moor, for no Moor ever waited at the gate of a village, without cursing the inhabitants.
Mr. Park now proceeded on his journey; the country began to rise into hills, and he saw the summits of high mountains to the westward. He had very disagreeable travelling, on account of the overflow of the river; and in crossing a swamp, his horse sunk suddenly into a deep pit, and was almost drowned. Both the horse and his rider were so covered with mud, that in passing a village, the people compared them to two dirty elephants. Mr, Park stopped at a village near Yamina, where he purchased some corn, and dried his paper and clothes. As Yamina is much frequented by the Moors, Mr. Park did not think it safe to lodge there; he therefore rode briskly through it, and the people, who looked at him with astonishment, had no time to ask questions.
On the following day, Mr. Park passed a town called Balaba, the prospect of the country was by no means inviting, for the high grass and bushes seemed completely to obstruct the road, and the Niger having flooded the low lands, had the appearance of an extensive lake.
On the following day, Mr. Park took the wrong road, and when he discovered his error, on coming to an eminence, he observed the Niger considerably to the left. Directing his course towards it, through long grass and bushes, he came to a small but rapid stream, which he took at first for a branch of the Niger, but, on examination, was convinced it was a distinct river, which the road evidently crossed, as he saw the pathway on the opposite side. He sat down upon the bank, in hopes that some traveller might arrive, who could inform him of the situation of the ford; but none arriving, and there being a great appearance of rain, he determined to enter the river considerably above the pathway, in order to reach the other side before the stream swept him too far down. With this view he fastened his clothes upon the saddle, and was standing up to the neck in water, pulling his horse by the bridle to make him follow, when a man, who came accidentally to the place, called to him with great vehemence, to come out, or the alligators would destroy both him and his horse. Mr. Park obeyed, and the stranger who had never before seen a white man, seemed wonderfully surprised, exclaiming in a low voice, "God preserve me, who is this?" But when he found Mr. Park could speak the Bambarra tongue, and was going the same way as himself, he promised to assist him in crossing the river, which was named the Frina. He then called to some person, who answered from the other side, and a canoe with two boys came paddling from amongst the reeds. Mr. Park gave the boys fifty kowries to ferry himself and his horse to the opposite shore, and in the evening, arrived at Taffara, a walled town, where he discovered that the language of the people was pure Mandingo.
On the 20th, Mr. Park stopped at a village called Sominoo, where he obtained some coarse food, prepared from the husks of corn, called boo. On the same day he arrived at Sooha, where the dooty refused either to sell or to give him any provisions. Mr. Park stopped a while to examine the countenance of this inhospitable man, and endeavoured to find out the cause of his visible discontent. The dooty ordered a slave to dig a hole, and while the slave was thus employed, the dooty kept muttering and talking to himself, repeatedly pronouncing the words "Dankatoo'" (good for nothing), "jankre lemen," (a real plague). These expressions Mr. Park thought could not apply to any one but himself; and as the pit had much the appearance of a grave, thought it prudent to mount his horse, and was about to decamp, when the slave, who had gone into the village, brought the corpse of a boy by the leg and arm, and threw it into the pit with savage indifference. As he covered the body with earth, the dooty often repeated, "Naphula attiniata," (money lost;) from which it appeared that the boy had been one of his slaves.
About sunset Mr. Park came to Kollikorro, a considerable town, and a great market for salt. Here he lodged with a Bambarran, who had travelled to many parts of Africa, and who carried on a considerable trade. His knowledge of the world had not lessened his confidence in saphies and charms, for when he heard that his guest was a Christian, he brought out his walha, or writing-board, and assured Mr. Park he would dress him a supper of rice, if he would write him a saphie, to protect him from wicked men. Mr. Park wrote the board full from top to bottom on both sides, and his landlord, to possess the full force of the charm, washed the writing off into a calabash with a little water, and having said a few prayers over it, drank this powerful draught, after which he licked the board quite dry. Information being carried to the dooty that a saphie writer was in the town, he sent his son with half a sheet of writing paper, desiring Mr. Park to write him a naphula saphie, a charm to procure wealth. He brought, as a present, some meal and milk, and when the saphie was finished, and read to him with an audible voice, he promised to bring Mr. Park some milk in the morning for breakfast.
The following day, Mr. Park proceeded on his journey, and in the afternoon arrived at Marraboo, where he lodged in the house of a Kaartan, who, from his hospitality to strangers, was called Jatee, (the landlord,) his house being a sort of public inn for all travellers. Those who had money were well lodged, for they always made him some return for his kindness; but those who had nothing to give were content to accept whatever he thought proper. Mr. Park, belonging to the latter class, took up his lodging in the same hut with seven poor fellows, who had come from Kancaba in a canoe, but their landlord sent them some victuals.
Mr. Park now altered his course from the river to the mountains, and in the evening arrived at a village, called Frookaboo, from which place he proceeded on the following day to Bambakoo. This town is not so large as Marraboo, but the inhabitants are rich; for when the Moors bring their salt through Kaarta or Barnbarra, they rest at this place; the negro merchants purchasing the salt by wholesale, and retailing it to great advantage. Here Mr. Park lodged at the house of a Serawoolli negro, and was visited by a number of Moors, who treated him with great civility. A slave-merchant, who had resided many years on the Gambia, gave Mr. Park an imperfect account of the distance to that river, but told him the road was impassable at that season of the year, and added, that it crossed the Joliba at about half a day's journey westward of Bammakoo; and as there were not any canoes large enough to receive his horse, he could not possibly get him over for some months to come. Mr. Park consulted with his landlord how to surmount this difficulty, who informed him that one road which was very rocky, and scarcely passable for horses, still remained, but if he procured a proper guide over the hills to a town called Sibidooloo, he had no doubt but he might travel forwards through Manding. Being informed that a jilli-kea, or singing-man, was about to depart for Sibidooloo, Mr. Park set out in company with him; but when they had proceeded up a rocky glen about two miles, the singing-man discovered that he had brought him the wrong road, as the horse-road lay on the other side of the hill. He then threw his drum upon his back, and mounted up the rocks, where, indeed, no horse could follow him, leaving Mr. Park to admire his agility, and trace out a road for himself.
Mr. Park rode back to the level ground, and following a path, on which he observed the marks of horses' feet, came to some shepherds' huts, where he was informed that he was on the right road to Sibidooloo. In the evening he arrived at a village called Kooma, situated in a delightful valley. This village is the sole property of a Mandingo merchant, who fled thither with his family during a former war. The harmless villagers surrounded Mr. Park, asked him a thousand questions about his country, brought corn and milk for himself, and grass for his horse, and appeared very anxious to serve him.
On the 25th, he departed from Kooma, in company with two shepherds, who were going towards Sibidooloo; but as the horse travelled slowly, and with great difficulty, the shepherds kept walking on at a considerable distance, when on a sudden Mr. Park heard some people calling to each other, and presently a loud screaming, as from a person in great distress. He rode slowly to the place whence the noise proceeded, and in a little time perceived one of the shepherds lying among the long grass near the road. When Mr. Park came close to him, he whispered that a party of armed men had seized his companion, and shot two arrows at himself, as he was making his escape. Mr. Park now stopped to consider what course it was most proper for him to pursue, and looking round, saw, at a small distance, a man sitting on the stump of a tree, and six or seven more sitting among the grass, with muskets in their hands. He had now no hopes of escaping, and therefore rode on towards them, in hopes they were elephant hunters. On coming up to them, he inquired if they had caught any thing, when one of them ordered him to dismount, but appearing suddenly to recollect himself, made signs to him to proceed. He accordingly rode past, but was soon followed by the men, who ordered him to stop, and informed him, that the king of the Foulahs had sent them to bring him his horse, and all that belonged to him, to Fooladoo. Mr. Park turned round, and went with them, till they came to a dark part of the wood, when one of them said, "This place will do," and immediately snatched his hat from his head, another drew a knife, and cut off a metal button that remained upon his waistcoat, and put it into his pocket. They then searched Mr. Park's pockets, examined every part of his apparel, and at length stripped him quite naked. While they were examining the plunder, he begged them, with great earnestness, to return his pocket-compass; but when he pointed it out to them, as it lay on the ground, one of the banditti, thinking he meant to take it up, cocked his musket, and swore he would lay him dead on the spot, if he presumed to lay his hand upon it. After this, some went away with his horse, and the remainder, after some deliberation, returned him the worst of the two shirts and a pair of trousers; and on going away, one of them threw back his hat, in the crown of which he kept his memorandums. After they were gone, Mr. Park sat for some time, looking around him with amazement and terror. "Whatever way I turned," says he, "nothing appeared but danger and difficulty. I saw myself in the midst of a vast wilderness, in the depth of the rainy season, naked and alone, surrounded by savage animals, and men still more savage. I was five hundred miles from the nearest European settlement. All these circumstances crowded at once to my recollection, and I confess that my spirits began to fail me. I considered my fate as certain, and that I had no alternative but to lie down and perish. The influence of religion, however, aided and supported me. I reflected that no human prudence or foresight could possibly have averted my present sufferings. I was indeed a stranger in a strange land, yet I was still under the protecting eye of that Providence, who has condescended to call himself the stranger's friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small moss in fructification irresistibly caught my eye. I mention this, to show from what trifling circumstances the mind will sometimes derive consolation, for though the whole plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers, I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves, and capsules, without admiration. Can that Being, thought I, who planted, watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the situation and sufferings of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not. Reflections like these would not allow me to despair. I started up, and disregarding both hunger and fatigue, travelled forwards, assured that relief was at hand, and I was not disappointed."
In a short time Mr. Park came to a small village, where he overtook the two shepherds, who had come with him from Koona. They were much surprised to see him, as they expected the Foulahs had murdered him. Departing from this village, they travelled over several rocky ridges, and at sunset arrived at the town of Sibidooloo.
Sibidooloo is the frontier town of Manding, and is situated in a fertile valley, surrounded with high rocky hills. The chief man is here called the mansa, which usually signifies king; but it appear that the government of Manding is a sort of republic, as every town has a particular mansa, and the chief power of the state is lodged in an assembly of the whole body.
Mr. Park related to the mansa the circumstance of the robbery, and his story was confirmed by the two shepherds. The mansa continued smoking his pipe while he heard the relation, when, tossing up the sleeve of his coat with an indignant air, "Sit down," said he to Mr. Park, "you shall have every thing restored to you. I have sworn it." Then turning to an attendant, "Give the white man," said he, "a draught of water, and with the first light of the morning go over the hills, and inform the dooty of Bammakoo that a poor white man, the king of Bambarra's stranger, has been robbed by the king of Fouladoo's people."
He heartily thanked the mansa for his kindness, and accepted his invitation, but having waited two days without receiving any intelligence, and there being a great scarcity of provisions, he was unwilling to trespass further on the generosity of his host, and begged permission to depart. The mansa told him, he might go as far as a town called Wonda, and remain there until he heard some account of his property. Accordingly, departing from that place, he reached it on the 30th. The mansa of Wonda was a Mahometan and, as well as chief magistrate of the town, was a schoolmaster. Mr. Park lodged in the school, which was an open shed; the little raiment upon him could neither protect him from the sun by day, nor the dews and mosquitoes by night; his fever returned with great violence, and he could not procure any medicine wherewith to stop its progress. He remained at Wonda nine days, endeavouring to conceal his distress from his landlord, for which purpose, he several times lay down the whole of the day, out of his sight, in a field of corn, yet he found that the mansa was apprised of his situation, for one morning as he feigned to be asleep by the fire, he heard the mansa complain to his wife, that they were likely to find him a very troublesome guest, as, in his present sickly state, they should be obliged, for the sake of their good name, to maintain him till he recovered or died.
The scarcity of provisions was at this time severely felt by the poor people. Mr. Park, having observed every evening five or six women come to the mansa's house, and each receive a portion of corn, inquired of the mansa, whether he maintained these women from charity, or expected a return from the next harvest. "Observe that boy," replied the Mansa, pointing to a fine child about five years of age, "his mother has sold him to me for forty days' provisions for herself and the rest of the family. I have bought another boy in the same manner."
Mr. Park was much afflicted with this melancholy circumstance, but he afterwards observed that the mother, when she had received her corn, would come and talk to her son with much cheerfulness, as if he had still been under her care.
On the 6th of September, two people arrived from Sibidooloo with Mr. Park's horse and clothes; the pocket-compass was, however, broken to pieces. The horse was now so much reduced, that he saw that it would be impracticable to travel any further with him; he therefore presented him to his landlord, and requested him to send the saddle and bridle to the mansa of Sibidooloo, as an acknowledgment for his trouble and kindness.
On the morning of September 8th, Mr. Park took leave of his hospitable landlord, who presented him with a spear, as a token of remembrance, and a leathern bag to contain his clothes. On the 9th, he reached Nemacoo, where he could not procure any provisions, as the people appeared to be actually starving, but in the afternoon of the 10th, a negro trader, named Modi Lemina Taura, brought him some victuals, promising to conduct him to his house at Kennyetoo on the following day.
In travelling to Kennyetoo, Mr. Park hurt his ankle, and was unable to proceed. The trader, in consequence, invited him to stop with him a few days, and accordingly he remained there until the 14th.
On the 17th, he proceeded to Mansia, a considerable town, where small quantities of gold are collected. The mansa of this town gave him a little corn, but demanded something in return, and on Mr. Park's assuring him that he had not anything in his possession, replied, as if in jest, that his white skin should not defend him, if he told him any falsehoods. He then conducted him to the hut wherein he was to sleep, but took away his spear, saying it should be returned in the morning. This circumstance raised Mr. Park's suspicions, and he requested one of the inhabitants, who had a bow and quiver, to sleep in the hut with him. About midnight a man made several attempts to enter the hut, but was prevented by Mr. Park and the negro, and the latter, on looking out, perceived it was the mansa himself. In the morning, Mr. Park, fearing the mansa might devise some means to detain him, departed before he was awake, the negro having recovered the spear.
On the arrival of Mr. Park at Kamalia, a small town, he proceeded to the house of Karfa Taura, the brother of his hospitable landlord at Kennyetoo. He was sitting in his balloon, surrounded by several slatees, to whom he was reading from an Arabic book. He asked Mr. Park if he understood it, and being answered in the negative, desired one of the slatees to fetch the little curious book that was brought from the west country. Mr. Park was surprised and delighted to find this volume "The Book of Common Prayer" and Karfa expressed great joy to hear he could read it, as some of the slatees, who had seen Europeans upon the coast, were unwilling, from his distressed appearance, to admit that Mr. Park was a white man, but suspected that he was some Arab in disguise. Karfa, however, perceiving he could read this book, had no doubt concerning Mr. Park, and promised him every assistance in his power, at the same time informing him, that it was impossible to cross the Jallonka wilderness for many months to come, as eight rapid rivers lay in the way. He added, that he himself intended to set out for Gambia, with a caravan of slaves, as soon as the rivers were fordable, and the grass burnt, and invited Mr. Park to stay and accompany him, remarking that when a caravan could not travel through the country, it was idle for a single man to attempt it. Mr. Park admitted the rashness of the attempt, but assured him that he had no alternative, for not having any money, he must either beg his subsistence by travelling from place to place, or perish from want. Karfa now looked at him with great earnestness, informing him that he had never before seen a white man, and inquired if he could eat the common victuals of the country. He added, that if he would remain with him till the rains were over, he would conduct him in safety to the Gambia, and then he might make him what return he pleased. Mr. Park having agreed to give him the value of one prime slave, he ordered a hut to be swept for his accommodation.
Thus was Mr. Park delivered by the friendly care of this benevolent negro, from a situation truly deplorable, but his fever became daily more alarming. On the third day after his arrival, as he was going with Karfa to visit some of his friends, he was so faint that he staggered and fell into a pit; Karfa endeavoured to console him, and assured him that if he would not walk out into the wet, he would soon be well. Mr. Park followed his advice, and in general confined himself to his hut, but was still tormented with the fever for five ensuing weeks. His benevolent landlord came every day to inquire after his health. When the rains became less frequent, the fever left him, but in so debilitated a condition, that it was with great difficulty he could get to the shade of a tamarind tree, at a short distance, to enjoy the refreshing smell of the corn fields, and the delightful prospect of the country. At length he found himself recovering, towards which the benevolent manners of the negroes, and the perusal of Karfa's little volume, greatly contributed.
Meanwhile many of the slatees who resided at Kamalia, having spent all their money, and become in a great measure dependent on Karfa's bounty, beheld Mr. Park with envy, and invented many ridiculous stories to lessen him in his host's esteem, but Karfa paid no attention to them, and treated him with unabated kindness. As he was one day conversing with some slaves, which a Serawoolli merchant had brought from Sego, one of them begged him to give him some victuals, Mr. Park replied, he was a stranger and had none to give. "I gave you, some victuals" said the slave, "when you were hungry. Have you forgotten the man who brought you milk at Karrankalla? But," added he with a sigh, "the irons were not then on my legs." Mr. Park immediately recollected him, procured for him some ground nuts, and learned that he had been taken by the Bambarrans, the day after the battle at Joka, and sent to Sego, where he had been purchased by his present master, who was carrying him to Kajaaga.
In the middle of December, Karfa, who proposed to complete his purchase of slaves, departed for Kancaba, a large town on the banks of the Niger, and a great slave market. It was his intention to return in a month, and during his absence left Mr. Park to the care of a good old bushreen, who was schoolmaster at Kamalia. The name of this schoolmaster was Fankooma, and although a Mahometan, was not intolerant in his principles. He read much, and took great pleasure in professional efforts. His school contained seventeen boys, mostly of pagan parents, and two girls. The girls were taught by daylight, but the boys were instructed before the dawn and late in the evening; by being considered, while pupils, as the domestic slaves of the master, they were employed by him during the day in various avocations. Emulation is encouraged by their tutor to stimulate his scholars. When the pupil has read through the Koran, and learned a certain number of public prayers, he undergoes an examination by the bushreens, who, when satisfied with his learning and abilities, desire him to read the last page of the Koran. This being done, the boy presses the paper to his forehead, and pronounces the word Amen; upon which the bushreens rise, shake him by the hand, and bestow upon him the title of bushreen. The parents then redeem their son, by giving his master the value of a slave; but if they cannot afford it, the boy continues the slave of the schoolmaster, until he ransoms himself by his own industry.