The inhabitants of Wadinoon are descended from the tribe Woled Aboussebah, and owe their independence to its support, for the Arabs of Aboussebah being most numerous on the northern confines of the desert, present a barrier to the extension of the emperor of Morocco's dominion in that direction.
They have frequent wars with their southern and eastern neighbours, though without any important results; the sterility of the soil throughout the whole of the region of sand, affording little temptation to its inhabitants to dispossess each other of their territorial possessions.
Wadinoon or Wednoon, was the first place at which Adams had seen houses after he quitted Tudenny. It is a small town, consisting of about forty houses and some tents. The former are built chiefly of clay, intermixed with stone in some parts, and several of them have a story above the ground-floor. The soil in the neighbourhood of the town was better cultivated than any he had yet seen in Africa, and appeared to produce plenty of corn and tobacco. There were also date and fig trees in the vicinity, as well as a few grapes, apples, pears, and pomegranates. Prickly pears flourished in great abundance.
The Christians whom Adams had heard of, whilst residing at Hieta Mouessa Ali, and whom he found at Wadinoon, proved to be, to his great satisfaction, his old companions, Stephen Dolbie the mate, and James Davison and Thomas Williams, two of the seamen of the Charles. They informed him, that they had been in that town upwards of twelve months, and that they were the property of the sons of the governor.
Soon after the arrival of Adams at Wadinoon, Abdallah offered him for sale to the governor or sheik, called Amedallah Salem, who consented to take him upon trial; but after remaining a week at the governor's house, Adams was returned to his old master, as the parties could not agree upon the price. He was at length, however, sold to Belcassam Abdallah for seventy dollars in trade, payable in blankets, gunpowder, and dates.
The only other white resident at Wadinoon was a Frenchman, who informed Adams that he had been wrecked about twelve years before on the neighbouring coast, and that the whole of the crew, except himself, had been redeemed. This man had turned Mahommedan, and was named Absalom; he had a wife and child and three slaves, and gained a good living by the manufacture of gunpowder. He lived in the same house as the person who had been his master, and who, upon his renouncing his religion, gave him his liberty.
Among the negro slaves at Wadinoon was a woman, who said she came from a place called Kanno, (Cano?) a long way across the desert, and that she had seen in her own country white men, as white as "bather," meaning the wall, and in a large boat, with two high sticks in it, with cloth upon them, and that they rowed this boat in a manner different from the custom of the negroes, who use paddles; in stating this, she made the motion of rowing with oars, so as to leave no doubt that she had seen a vessel in the European fashion, manned by white people.
The work in which Adams was employed at Wadinoon, was building walls, cutting down shrubs to make fences, or working on the corn lands, or on the plantations of tobacco, of which a great quantity is grown in the neighbourhood. It was in the month of August that he arrived there, as he was told by the Frenchman before spoken of; the grain had been gathered, but the tobacco was then getting in, at which he was required to assist. His labour at this place was extremely severe. On the moorish sabbath, which was also their market-day, the Christian slaves were not required to labour, unless on extraordinary occasions, when there was any particular work to do, which could not be delayed. In these intervals of repose, they had opportunity of meeting and conversing together, and Adams had the melancholy consolation of finding that the lot of his companions had been even more severe than his own. It appeared that, on their arrival, the Frenchman before mentioned, from some unexplained motive, had advised them to refuse to work, and the consequence was, that they had been cruelly beaten and punished, and had been made to work and live hard, their only scanty food being barley flour and indian corn flour. However, on extraordinary occasions, and as a great indulgence, they sometimes obtained a few dates.
In this wretched manner Adams and his fellow-captives lived until the June following, when a circumstance occurred, which had nearly cost the former his life. His master's son, Hameda Bel Cossim, having one sabbath-day ordered Adams to take the horse and go to plough, the latter refused to obey him, urging that it was not the custom of any slaves to work on the sabbath-day, and that he was entitled to the same indulgence as the rest. Upon which Hameda went into the house and fetched a cutlass, and then demanded of Adams, whether he would go to plough or not. Upon his replying that he would not, Hameda struck him on the forehead with the cutlass, and gave him a severe wound over the right eye, and immediately knocked him down with his fist. This was no sooner done, than Adams was set upon by a number of Moors, who beat him with sticks in so violent a manner, that the blood came out of his mouth, two of his double teeth were knocked out, and he was almost killed; it was his opinion that they would have entirely killed him, had it not been for the interference of Boadick, the sheik's son, who reproached them for their cruelty, declaring that they had no right to compel Adams to work on a market-day. The next day Hameda's mother, named Moghtari, came to him, and asked him how he dared to lift his hand against a Moor? To which Adams, driven to desperation by the ill treatment he had received, replied, that he would even take his life, if it were in his power. Moghtari then said, that unless he would kiss Hameda's hands and feet, he should be put in irons, which he peremptorily refused to do. Soon after. Hameda's father came to Adams, and told him, that unless he did kiss his son's feet and hands, he must be put in irons. Adams then stated to him, that he could not submit to do so; that it was contrary to his religion to kiss the hands and feet of any person; that in his own country he had never been required to do it; and that, whatever might be the consequence, he would not do it. Finding he would not submit, the old man ordered that he should be put in irons, and accordingly they fastened his feet together with iron chains, and did the same by his hands. After he had remained in this state about ten days, Moghtari came to him again, urging him to do as required, and declaring that, if he did not, he should never see the Christian country again. Adams, however, persevered in turning a deaf ear to her entreaties and threats. Some time afterwards, finding that confinement was destructive of his health, Hameda came to him, and took the irons from his hands. The following three weeks, he remained with the irons on his legs, during which time, repeated and pressing entreaties, and the most dreadful threats were used to induce him to submit; but all to no purpose. He was also frequently advised by the mate and the other Christians, who used to be sent to him, for the purpose of persuading him to submit, as he must otherwise inevitably lose his life. At length, finding that neither threats nor entreaties would avail, and Adams having remained in irons from June to the beginning of August, and his sufferings having reduced him almost to a skeleton, his master was advised to sell him; for, if longer confined, he would certainly die, and thereby prove a total loss. Influenced by this consideration, his master at last determined to release him from his confinement; but, although very weak, the moment he was liberated, he was set to gathering in the corn.
About a week afterwards, Dolbie, the mate, fell sick. Adams had called to see him, when Dolbie's master, named Brahim, a son of the sheik, ordered him to get up and go to work, and upon Dolbie declaring that he was unable, Brahim beat him with a stick, to compel him to go; but as he still did not obey, Brahim threatened that he would kill him; and upon Dolbie's replying, that he had better do so at once than kill him by inches, Brahim stabbed him in the side with his dagger, and he died in a few minutes. As soon as he was dead, he was taken by some slaves a short distance from the town, where a hole was dug, into which he was thrown without ceremony. As the grave was not deep, and as it frequently happened that corpses after burial were dug out of the ground by the foxes, Adams and his two surviving companions went the next day and covered the grave with stones.
As the Moors were constantly urging them to become Mahommedans, and they were unceasingly treated with the greatest brutality, the fortitude of Williams and Davison being exhausted, they at last unhappily consented to renounce their religion, and were circumcised; by this means they obtained their liberty, after which they were presented with a horse, a musket, and a blanket each, and permitted to marry; no Christian being allowed, at any place inhabited by Moors, to take a wife, or to cohabit with a moorish woman.
As Adams was now the only remaining Christian at Wadinoon, he became in a more especial manner an object of the derision and persecution of the Moors, who were constantly upbraiding and reviling him, and telling him that his soul would be lost, unless he became a Mahommedan, insomuch that his life was becoming intolerable.
Mr. Dupuis, speaking of the conduct which Adams received from the Moors, says, "I can easily believe Adams' statement of the brutal treatment he experienced at Wadinoon. It is consistent with the accounts I have always heard of the people of that country, who I believe to be more bigoted and cruel than even the remoter inhabitants of the desert. In the frequent instances which have come under my observation, the general effect of the treatment of the Arabs on the minds of the Christian captives, has been most deplorable. On the first arrival of these unfortunate men at Mogadore, if they have been any considerable time in slavery, they appear lost to reason and feeling, their spirits broken, and their whole faculties sunk in a species of stupor, which I am unable adequately to describe. Habited like the meanest Arabs of the desert, they appear degraded even below the negro slave. The succession of hardships, which they endure, from the caprice and tyranny of their purchasers, without any protecting law to which they can appeal for alleviation or redress, seems to destroy every spring of exertion or hope in their minds; they appear indifferent to every thing around them; abject, servile, and brutified."
"Adams alone was, in some respects, an exception from this description. I do not recollect any ransomed Christian slave, who discovered a greater elasticity of spirit, or who sooner recovered from the indifference and stupor here described."
It is to be remarked, that the Christian captives are invariably worse treated than the idolatrous or pagan slaves, whom the Arabs, either by theft or purchase, bring from the interior of Africa, and that religious bigotry is the chief cause of this distinction. The zealous disciples of Mahomet consider the negroes merely as ignorant, unconverted beings, upon whom, by the act of enslaving them, they are conferring a benefit, by placing them within reach of instruction in "the true belief;" and the negroes, having no hopes of ransom, and being often enslaved when children, are in general, soon converted to the Mahommedan faith. The Christians, on the contrary, are looked upon as hardened infidels, and as deliberate despisers of the prophet's call; and as they in general steadfastly reject the Mahommedan creed, and at least never embrace it, whilst they have hopes of ransom; the Moslim, consistently with the spirit of many passages in the Koran, views them with the bitterest hatred, and treats them with every insult and cruelty which a merciless bigotry can suggest.
It is not to be understood that the Christian slaves, though generally ill treated and inhumanly worked by their Arab owners, are persecuted by them ostensibly on account of their religion. They, on the contrary, often encourage the Christians to resist the importunities of those who wish to convert them; for, by embracing Islamism, the Christian slave obtains his freedom, and however ardent may be the zeal of the Arab to make proselytes, it seldom blinds him to the calculations of self-interest.
Three days after Williams and Davison had renounced their religion, a letter was received from Mr. Dupuis, addressed to the Christian prisoners at Wadinoon, under cover to the governor, in which the consul, after exhorting them most earnestly not to give up their religion, whatever might befal them, assured them that within a month, he should be able to procure their liberty. Davison heard the letter read, apparently without emotion, but Williams became so agitated that he let it drop out of his hands, and burst into a flood of tears.
From this time, Adams experienced no particular ill treatment, but he was required to work as usual. About a month more elapsed, when the man who brought the letter, and who was a servant of the British consul, disguised as a trader, made known to Adams that he had succeeded in procuring his release, and the next day they set out together for Mogadore.
On quitting Wadinoon, they proceeded in a northerly direction, travelling on mules at the rate of thirty miles a day, and in fifteen days arrived at Mogadore. Here Adams remained eight months with Mr. Dupuis. America and England being then at war, it was found difficult to procure for Adams a conveyance to his native country; he therefore obtained a passage on board a vessel bound to Cadiz, where he remained about fourteen months as servant or groom, in the service of Mr. Hall, an English merchant there. Peace having been in the mean time restored, Adams was informed by the American consul, that he had now an opportunity of returning to his native country with a cartel, or transport of American seamen, which was on the point of sailing from Gibraltar. He accordingly proceeded thither, but arrived two days after the vessel had sailed. Soon afterwards he engaged himself on board a Welsh brig, lying at Gibraltar, in which he sailed to Bilboa, whence the brig took a cargo of wool to Bristol, and after discharging it there, was proceeding in ballast to Liverpool; but having been driven into Holyhead by contrary winds, Adams there fell sick, and was put on shore. From this place he begged his way up to London, where he arrived completely destitute. He had slept two or three nights in the open streets, when he was accidentally met by a gentleman, who had seen him in Mr. Hall's service at Cadiz, and was acquainted with his history, by whom he was directed to the office of the African Association, through whose means his adventures were made known to the public.
Adams may be said to have been the first Christian, who ever reached the far-famed city of Timbuctoo, and it must be admitted that many attempts were made to throw a positive degree of discredit upon his narrative, and to consider it more the work of deep contrivance than of actual experience. It is certain that many difficulties present themselves in the narrative of Adams, which cannot be reconciled with the discoveries subsequently made, but that cannot be argued as a reason for invalidating the whole of his narrative; especially when it is so amply and circumstantially confirmed by the inquiries which were set on foot by Mr. Dupuis, at the instigation of the African Association, and the result of which was, a complete confirmation of all the circumstances, which Adams
It is perhaps not the least of the many extraordinary circumstances attending the city of Timbuctoo, that no two travellers agree in their account of it; and for this reason it is most difficult to decide, to whom the greatest credibility should be awarded, or, on the other hand, whether some of them, who pretend to have resided within its walls, ever visited it at all. The contradictions of the respective travellers are in many instances so gross, that it is scarcely possible to believe that the description, which they are then giving can apply to one and the same place, and therefore we are entitled to draw the inference, that some of them are practising on our credulity, and are making us the dupes of their imagination, rather than the subjects of their experience. The expectations of moorish magnificence were raised to a very high pitch, by some of the inflated accounts of the wealth and splendour of the great city of central Africa; but these expectations were considerably abated by the description given of Timbuctoo by Adams and Sidi Hamet, a moorish merchant, who describes that city in the following terms:—
"Timbuctoo is a very large city, five times as great as Swearah (Suera or Mogadore). It is built in a level plain surrounded on all sides with hills, except on the south, where the plain continues to the bank of the same river, which is wide and deep, and runs to the east. We were obliged to go to it to water our camels, and there we saw many boats, made of great trees, some with negroes paddling in them across the river. The city is strongly walled in with stone laid in clay, like the towns and houses in Suse, only a great deal thicker."
The latter account is at total variance with both Adams and Caillie, who describe Timbuctoo as a city having no walls, nor any thing resembling fortifications. "The house of the king is very large and high, like the largest house in Mogadore, but built of the same materials as the walls. There are a great many more houses in the city, built of stone, with shops on one side, where they sell salt, the staple article, knives, blue cloth, haicks, and an abundance of other things, with many gold ornaments. The inhabitants are blacks, and the chief is a very large, grey-headed, old black man, who is called shegar, which means sultan or king. The principal part of the houses are made with large reeds, as thick as a man's arm, which stand upon their ends, and are covered with small reeds first, and then with the leaves of the date tree; they are round, and the tops come to a point, like a heap of stones. Neither the shegar nor his people are Moslem; but there is a town divided off from the principal one, in one corner by a strong partition wall, with one gate to it, which leads from the main town, like the Jews' town or millah in Mogadore. All the Moors or Arabs, who have liberty to come into Timbuctoo, are obliged to sleep in that part of it every night, or to go out of the city entirely. No stranger is allowed to enter that millah, without leaving his knife with the gate-keeper; but when he comes out in the morning, it is restored to him. The people who live in that part are all Moslem. The negroes, bad Arabs, and Moors are all mixed together, and intermarry, as if they were all of one colour; they have no property of consequence, except a few asses; their gate is shut and fastened every night at dark, and very strongly guarded both by night and by day. The shegar or king is always guarded by one hundred men on mules, armed with good guns, and one hundred men on foot, with guns and long knives. He would not go into the millah, and we saw him only four or five times in the two moons we staid at Timbuctoo, waiting for the caravan; but it had perished in the desert, neither did the yearly caravan arrive from Tunis and Tripoli, for it also had been destroyed."
"The city of Timbuctoo is very rich, as well as very large; it has four gates to it; all of them are opened in the day time, but very strongly guarded and shut at night. The negro women are very fat and handsome, and wear large round gold rings in their noses, and flat ones in their ears, and gold chains and amber beads about their necks, with images and white fish bones, bent round, and the ends fastened together, hanging down between their breasts; they have bracelets on their wrists and on their ankles, and go barefooted. I had bought a small snuff-box, filled with snuff, at Morocco, and showed it to the women in the principal street of Timbuctoo, which is very wide. There were a great number about me in a few minutes, and they insisted on buying my snuff and box; one made me an offer, and another made me another, until one, who wore richer ornaments than the rest, told me, in broken Arabic, that she would take off all she had about her, and give them to me for the box and its contents. I agreed to accept them, and she pulled off her nose-rings and ear-rings, all her neck-chains, with their ornaments, and the bracelets from her wrists and ankles, and gave them to me in exchange for it. These ornaments would weigh more than a pound, and were made of solid gold at Timbuctoo. I kept them through the whole of the journey afterwards, and carried them to my wife, who now wears a part of them."
"Timbuctoo carries on a great trade with all the caravans that come from Morocco, and the shores of the Mediterranean sea. From Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, &c. are brought all kinds of cloth, iron, salt, muskets, powder and lead swords or scimitars, tobacco, opium, spices and perfumes, amber beads, and other trinkets, with a few more articles. They carry back, in return, elephants' teeth, gold dust and wrought gold, gum-senegal, ostrich feathers, very curiously worked turbans, and slaves; a great many of the latter, and many other articles of less importance. The slaves are brought in from the south-west, all strongly ironed, and are sold very cheap, so that a good stout man may be bought for a haick, which costs in the empire of Morocco about two dollars."
"The caravans stop and encamp about two miles from the city, in a deep valley, and the negroes do not molest them. They bring their merchandize near the walls of the city, where the inhabitants purchase all their goods on exchange for the before-mentioned articles; not more than fifty men from any one caravan being allowed to enter the city at a time, and they must go out before others are permitted to enter. This city carries on a great trade with Wassanah, a city far to the south-east, in all the articles that are brought to it by caravans, and gets returns in slaves, elephants' teeth, gold, &c. The principal male inhabitants are clothed with blue cloth shirts, that reach from their shoulders down to their knees, and are very wide, and girt about their loins with a red and brown cotton sash or girdle. They also hang about their bodies, pieces of different coloured cloth and silk handkerchiefs. The king is dressed in a white robe of a similar fashion, but covered with white and yellow gold and silver plates, that glitter in the sun. He has also many other shining ornaments of shells and stones hanging about him, he wears a pair of breeches like the Moors and Barbary Jews, and has a kind of white turban on his head, pointing up, and strung with different kinds of ornaments. His feet are covered with red morocco shoes. He has no other weapon about him than a large white staff or sceptre, with a golden lion on the head of it, which he carries in his hand. His countenance is mild, and he seems to govern his subjects more like a father than a king. All but the king go bareheaded. The poor have only a single piece of blue or other cloth about them. The inhabitants are very numerous; I think six times as many as in Swearah, besides Arabs and other Mahommedans in their millah or separate town, which must contain nearly as many people as there are altogether in Swearah. [*] The women are clothed in a light shirt, or under-dress, and over it a green, red or blue covering, from the bosom to below the knees, the whole of them girt about their waists with a red girdle. They stain their cheeks and foreheads red or yellow on some occasions; and the married women wear a kind of hood on their heads, made of blue cloth or silk, and cotton handkerchiefs of different kinds and colours, and go barefooted."
[Footnote: Swearah or Mogadore is stated to contain above 36,000 souls, that is 30,000 Moors and 6,000 Jews. This calculation would make Timbuctoo to contain 216,000 inhabitants. A statement which deserves little credit.]
"The king and people of Timbuctoo do not fear and worship God like the Moslem, but like the people of Soudan, they only pray once in twenty-four hours, when they see the moon, and when she is not seen, they do not pray at all. They cannot read nor write, but are honest. They circumcise their children, like the Arabs. They have not any mosques, but dance every night, as the Moors and Arabs pray."
"If however European expectation had been raised to an extraordinary height respecting the size, riches, and importance of Timbuctoo, it was likely to be still more luxuriantly feasted with the description of another town of central Africa, in comparison of which Timbuctoo must appear as a city of a second rate, and which Sidi Hamet describes as being of the magnitude, that it took him a day to walk round it."
"According to the statement of Sidi Hamet, he travelled with about two hundred Moslem, to a large city called Wassanah, a place he had never before heard of, nor which is to be found in any of the modern maps of Africa. For the first six days, they travelled over a plain within sight of the Joliba, in a direction a little to the south of east, till they came to a small town called Bimbinah, where the river turned more to the south-east, by a high mountain to the east. They now left the river, and pursued a direction more to the southward, through a hilly and woody country for fifteen days, and then came to the river again. The route wound with the river for three days in a south-easterly direction, and then they had to climb over a very high ridge of mountains, thickly covered with very lofty trees, which took up six days; from the summit, a large chain of high mountains was seen to the westward. On descending from this ridge, they came immediately to the river's bank, where it was very narrow and full of rocks. For the next twelve days, they kept on in a direction generally south-east, but winding, with the river almost every day in sight, and crossed many small streams flowing into it. High mountains were plainly seen on the western side. They then came to a ferry, and beyond that travelled for fifteen days more, mostly in sight of the river, till at length after fifty-seven days travelling, not reckoning the halts, they reached Wassanah."
"This city stands near the bank of the Joliba, which runs past it nearly south, between high mountains on both sides, and is so wide that they could hardly distinguish a man on the other side. The walls are very large, built of great stones much thicker and stronger than those of Timbuctoo, with four gates. It took a day to walk round them. The city has twice as many inhabitants as Timbuctoo; [*] the principal people are well dressed, but all are negroes and kafirs. They have boats made of great trees hollowed out, which will hold from fifteen to twenty negroes, and in these they descend the river for three moons to the great water, and traffic with pale people who live in great boats, and have guns as big as their bodies." This great water is supposed to be the Atlantic, and as the distance of three moons must not be less than two thousand five hundred miles, it has been supposed that the Niger must communicate with the Congo. If so it must be, doubtless, by intermediate rivers; the whole account, however, is pregnant with suspicion, nor has any part of it been verified by any subsequent traveller.
[Footnote: According to Sidi Hamet, Wassanah must contain nearly half a million of inhabitants. The circumstance also of the Joliba or Niger being there so bra that a man could scarcely be seen on the other side, throws great discredit over the whole statement of the moorish merchant.]
It is singular, that a great variety of opinion has existed, respecting the exact state of government to which the city of Timbuctoo was subject. It is well known, that the vernacular histories, both traditionary and written, of the wars of the Moorish empire, agree in stating, that from the middle of the seventeenth century, Timbuctoo was occupied by the troops of the emperors of Morocco, in whose name a considerable annual tribute was levied upon the inhabitants; but that the negroes, in the early part of the last century, taking advantage of one of those periods of civil dissension bloodshed, which generally follow the demise of any of the rulers of Barbary, did at length shake off the yoke of their northern masters, to which the latter were never afterwards able again to reduce them. Nevertheless, although the emperors of Morocco might be unable at the immense distance, which separate them from Soudan, to resume an authority, which had once escaped I hands, it is reasonable to suppose that the nearer tribes of Arabs would not neglect the opportunity thus afforded them, of returning to their old habits of spoliation, and of exercising their arrogant superiority over their negro neighbours; and that this frontier state would thus become the theatre of continual contests, terminating alternately, in the temporary occupation of Timbuctoo by the Arabs, and in their re-expulsion by negroes. In order to elucidate the state of things, which we have here supposed, we need not go further than to the history of Europe in our own days. How often during the successful ravages of Buonaparte, that great Arab chieftain of Christendom, might we not have drawn from the experience of Madrid, or Berlin, or Vienna, or Moscow, the aptest illustration of these conjectures respecting Timbuctoo? And an African traveller, if so improbable a personage may be imagined, who should have visited Europe in these conjunctures, might very naturally have reported to his countrymen at home, that Russia, Germany and Spain were but provinces of France, and that the common sovereign of all these countries resided sometimes in the Escurial, and sometimes in the Kremlin.
We have seen this state of things existing in Ludamar, to the west of Timbuctoo, where a negro population is subjected to the tyranny of the Arab chieftain Ali, between whom and his southern neighbours of Bambarra and Kaarta we find a continual struggle of aggression and self-defence; and the well-known character of the Arabs would lead us to expect a similar state of things along the whole frontier of the negro population. In the pauses of such a warfare, we should expect to find no intermission of the animosity or precautions of the antagonist parties. The Arab victorious would be ferocious and intolerant, even beyond his usual violence, and the Koran or the halter would probably be the alternatives, which he would offer to his negro guest; whilst the milder nature of the negro would be content with such measures of precaution and self-defence, as might appear sufficient to secure him from the return of the enemy, whom he had expelled, without excluding the peaceful trader; and, under the re-established power of the latter, we might expect to find at Timbuctoo precisely the same state of things as Adams describes to have existed in 1811.
The reserve, with which we have seen grounds for receiving the testimony of the natives of Africa, may reasonably accompany us in our further comparative examination of their accounts and those of Adams, respecting the population and external appearance of the city of Timbuctoo. We cannot give such latitude to our credulity as to confide in the statements of Sidi Hamet; nor do we place much reliance on the account of Caillie, who was the last European who may be said to have entered its walls. Notwithstanding, therefore, the alleged splendour of its court, the polish of its inhabitants, its civilized institutions, and other symptoms of refinement, which some modern accounts or speculations, founded on native reports, have taught us to look for, we are disposed to receive the humbler descriptions of Adams, as approaching with much greater probability to the truth. Let us, however, not be understood as rating too highly the value of a sailor's reports. They must of necessity be defective in a variety of ways. Many of the subjects upon which Adams was questioned, were evidently beyond the competency of such an individual fully to comprehend or satisfactorily to describe; and we must be content to reserve our final estimates of the morals, religion, civil polity, and learning, if the term may be allowed us, of the negroes of Timbuctoo, until we obtain more conclusive information than could possibly have been derived from so illiterate a man as Adams. A sufficiency, however, may be gathered from his story, to prepare us for a disappointment of the extravagant expectations, which have been indulged respecting this boasted city.
And here we may remark, that the relative rank of Timbuctoo amongst the cities of central Africa, and its present importance with reference to European objects, appear to us to be considerably overrated. The description of Leo, in the sixteenth century, may indeed lend a colour to the brilliant anticipations in which some sanguine minds have indulged on the same subjects in the nineteenth; but with reference to the commercial pursuits of Europeans, it seems to have been forgotten, that the very circumstance which has been the foundation of the importance of Timbuctoo to the traders of Barbary, and consequently of a great portion of its fame amongst us, its frontier situation on the verge of the desert, at the extreme northern limits of the negro population, will of necessity have a contrary operation now, since a shorter and securer channel for European enterprise into the central regions of Africa has been opened by the intrepidity and perseverance of Park, from the south-western shores of the Atlantic.
Independently of this consideration, there is great reason to believe that Timbuctoo has in reality declined of late from the wealth and consequence which it appears formerly to have enjoyed. The existence of such a state of things, as we have described, in the preceding pages, the oppositions of the Moors, the resistance of the negroes, the frequent change of masters, and the insecurity of property consequent upon these intestine struggles, would all lead directly and inevitably to this result. That they have led to it, may be collected from other sources than Adams. Even Park, to whom so brilliant a description of the city was given by some of his informants, was told by others that it was surpassed in opulence and size by Houssa, Walet, and probably by Jinnie. Several instances also occur in both his missions, which prove that a considerable trade from Barbary is carried on direct from the desert to Sego and the neighbouring countries, without ever touching at Timbuctoo; and this most powerful of the states of Africa, in the sixteenth century, according to Leo, is now, in the nineteenth, to all appearance, a mere tributary dependency of a kingdom, which does not appear to have been known to Leo even by name.
Such a decline of the power and commercial importance of Timbuctoo would naturally be accompanied by a corresponding decay of the city itself; and we cannot suppose that Adams' description of its external appearance will be rejected, on account of its improbability, by those, who recollect that Leo describes the habitations of the natives, in his time, almost in the very words of the narrative now [*], and that the flourishing cities of Sego and Sansanding appear, from Park's account, to be built of mud, precisely in the same manner as Adams describes the houses of Timbuctoo.
[Footnote: One of the numerous discordances between the different translations of Leo, occurs in the passage here alluded to. The meaning of the Italian version is simply this, that "the dwellings of the people of Timbuctoo are cabins or huts, constructed with stakes, covered with chalk or clay, and thatched with straw, 'le cui case sono capanne fatte di pali coperte di creta co i cortivi di paglia.' But the expression in the Latin translation, which is closely followed by the old English translator, Pery, implies a state of previous splendour and decay, 'cojus domus omnes in tuguriola, stramineis tectis, sunt mutatae.'"]
But whatever may be the degree of Adams' coincidence with other authorities, in his descriptions of the population and local circumstances of Timbuctoo, there is at least one asserted fact in this part of his narrative, which appears to be exclusively his own; the existence, we mean, of a considerable navigable river close to the city. To the truth of which, the credit of Adams is completely pledged. On many other subjects it is possible that his narrative might be considerably at variance with the truth, by a mere defect of memory or observation, and without justifying any imputation on his veracity, but it is evident that no such latitude can be allowed him in respect to the La Mar Zarah, which, if not in substance true, must be knowingly and wilfully false.
We shall conclude our remarks on Adams' narrative, by noticing only two important circumstances, respectively propitious and adverse to the progress of discovery and civilization, which is decidedly confirmed by the account of Adams, viz. the mild and tractable natures of the pagan negroes of Soudan, and their friendly deportment towards strangers, on the one hand; and, on the other, the extended and baneful range of that original feature of African society —slavery.
Previously to entering into any further detail of the different expeditions for exploring the interior of Africa, it may be greatly conducive to the better understanding of the subsequent narratives, when treating of the distinct races of people by which the countries are inhabited, to give a concise statement of the population of that part of Africa, which is known by the appellation of West Barbary, and which may be said to be divided into three great classes, exclusive of the Jews, viz. Berrebbers, Arabs, and Moors. The two former of these are, in every respect, distinct races of people, and are each again subdivided into various tribes or communities; the third are chiefly composed of the other two classes, or of their descendants, occasionally mixed with the European or negro races. The indiscriminate use of the names Arab and Moor, in speaking apparently of the same people, frequently leads the reader into an error as to the real class to which the individual belongs, and thus the national character of the two classes becomes unjustly confounded, whilst at the same time an erroneous opinion is formed of the relative virtues and vices of the different people, with whom the traveller is brought into collision.
In the class of the Berrebbers, we include all those, who appear to be descendants of the original inhabitants of the country before the Arabian conquest, and who speak several languages, or dialects of the same language, totally different from the Arabic. The sub-divisions of this class are:—1st, the Errifi, who inhabit the extensive mountainous province of that name on the shores of the Mediterranean; 2nd, the Berrebbers of the interior, who commence on the southern confines of the Errifi, and extend to the vicinity of Fez and Mequinez, occupying all the mountains and high lands in the neighbourhood of those cities; 3rd, the Berrebbers of middle Atlas; and, 4th, the Shilluh of Suse and Haha, who extend from Mogadore southward to the extreme boundaries of the dominions of the Cid Heshem, and from the sea coast to the eastern limits of the mountains of Asia.
The Errifi are a strong and athletic race of people, hardy and enterprising, their features are generally good, and might in many cases be considered handsome, were it not for the malignant and ferocious expression, which marks them, in common with the Berrebber tribes in general, but which is particularly striking in the eye of an Errifi. They also possess that marked feature of the Berrebber tribes, a scantiness of beard; many of the race, particularly in the south, having only a few straggling hairs on the upper lip, and a small tuft on the chin. They are incessantly bent on robbery and plundering, in which they employ either open violence or cunning and treachery, as the occasion requires, and they are restrained by no checks either of religion, morals, or humanity. However, to impute to them in particular, as distinct from other inhabitants of Barbary, the crimes of theft, treachery, and murder, would certainly be doing them great injustice, but we believe we may truly describe them as more ferocious and faithless than any other tribe of Berrebbers.
The Berrebbers of the districts of Fez, Mequinez, and the mountains of middle Atlas, strongly resemble the Errifi in person, but are said to be not quite so savage in disposition. They are a warlike people, extremely tenacious of the independence, which their mountainous country gives them opportunities of asserting, omit no occasion of shaking off the control of government, and are frequently engaged in open hostilities with their neighbours the Arabs, or the emperor's black troops. They are, as we are informed, the only tribes in Barbary, who use the bayonet. The districts which they inhabit are peculiarly interesting and romantic, being a succession of hills and valleys, well watered and wooded, and producing abundance of grain and pasturage.
The Shilluh or Berrebbers of the south of Barbary, differ in several respects from their brethren in the north. They are rather diminutive in person, and besides the want of beard already noticed, have in general an effeminate tone of voice. They are, however, active and enterprising. They possess rather more of the social qualities than the other tribes; appear to be susceptible of strong attachments and friendships, and are given to hospitality. They are remarkable for their attachment to their petty chieftains; and the engagements and friendships of the latter are held so sacred, that no instance is on record of any depredation being committed on travellers furnished with their protection, which it is usual to purchase with a present, or on any of the valuable caravans, which are continually passing to and fro through their territory, between Barbary and Soudan: the predominant feature of their character is, however, self interest, and although in their dealings amongst strangers, or in the towns, they assume a great appearance of fairness or sincerity, yet they are not scrupulous when they have the power in their own hands, and like the other Berrebbers, they are occasionally guilty of the most atrocious acts of treachery and murder, not merely against Christians, for that is almost a matter of course with all the people of their nation, but even against Mahommedan travellers, who have the imprudence to pass through their country, without having previously secured the protection of one of their chiefs.
As the Shilluh have been said to be sincere and faithful in their friendships, so they are on the other hand, perfectly implacable in their enmities, and insatiable in their revenge. The following anecdote will exemplify in some degree these traits of their character. A Shilluh having murdered one of his countrymen in a quarrel, fled to the Arabs from the vengeance of the relations of his antagonist, but not thinking himself secure even there, he joined a party of pilgrims and went to Mecca. From this expiatory journey he returned at the end of eight or nine years to Barbary, and proceeded to his native district, he there sought, under the sanctified name of El Haje, the pilgrim, a title of reverence amongst the Mahommedans, to effect a reconciliation with the friends of the deceased. They, however, upon hearing of his return, attempted to seize him, but owing to the fleetness of his horse, he escaped and fled to Mogadore, having been severely wounded by a musket ball in his flight. His pursuers followed him thither, but the governor of Mogadore hearing the circumstances of the case, strongly interested himself in behalf of the fugitive, and endeavoured, but in vain, to effect a reconciliation. The man was imprisoned, and his persecutors then hastened to Morocco to seek justice of the emperor. That prince, it is said, endeavoured to save the prisoner; and to add weight to his recommendation, offered a pecuniary compensation in lieu of the offender's life, which the parties, although persons of mean condition, rejected. They returned triumphant to Mogadore, with the emperor's order for the delivery of the prisoner into their hands; and having taken him out of prison, they immediately conveyed him before the walls of the town, where one of the party, loading his musket before the face of their victim, placed the muzzle to his breast, and shot him through the body; but as the man did not immediately fall, he drew his dagger, and, by repeated stabbing, put an end to his existence. The calm intrepidity with which this unfortunate Shilluh stood to meet his fate, could not be witnessed without the highest admiration; and however much we must detest the blood-thirstiness of his executioners, we must still acknowledge, that there is something closely allied to nobleness of sentiment in the inflexible perseverance, with which they pursued the murderer of their friend to punishment.
Like the Arabs, the Berrebbers are divided into numerous petty tribes or clans, each tribe or family distinguishing itself by the name of its patriarch or founder. The authority of the chiefs is usually founded upon their descent from some sanctified ancestor; or upon the peculiar eminence of the individual himself in Mahommedan zeal, or some other religious qualification.
With the exception already noticed, that the Berrebbers of the north are of a more robust and stouter make than the Shilluh, a strong family-likeness runs through all their tribes. Their customs, dispositions, and national character, are nearly the same; they are all equally tenacious of their independence, which their local positions enable them to assume, and are all animated with the same inveterate and hereditary hatred against their common enemy, the Arab. They invariably reside in houses or hovels built of stone and timber, which are generally situated on some commanding eminence, and are fortified and loop-holed for self-defence. Their usual mode of warfare is, to surprise their enemy, rather than overcome him by an open attack; they are reckoned the best marksmen, and possess the best fire-arms in Barbary, which render them a very destructive enemy wherever the country affords shelter and concealment; but although they are always an over-match for the Arabs, when attacked on their own rugged territory, they are obliged on the other hand, to relinquish the plains to the Arab cavalry, against which the Berrebbers are unable to stand on open ground.
The Arabs, who now form so considerable a portion of the population of Barbary, and whose race in the sheriffe line has given emperors to Morocco ever since the conquest, occupy all the level country of the empire, and many of the tribes penetrating into the desert, have extended themselves even to the confines of Soudan. In person, they are generally tall and robust, with fine features, and intelligent countenances. Their hair is black and straight, their eyes large, black and piercing, their noses gently arched; their beards full and bushy, and they have invariably good teeth. The colour of those who reside in Barbary, is a deep, but bright brunette, essentially unlike the sallow tinge of the mulatto. The Arabs of the desert are more or less swarthy, according to their proximity to the negro states, until, in some tribes they are found entirely black, but without the woolly hair, wide nostril, and thick lip, which peculiarly belong to the African negro.
The Arabs are universally cultivators of the earth, or breeders of cattle, depending on agricultural pursuits alone for subsistence. To use a common proverb of their own, "the earth is the Arab's portion." They are divided into small tribes or families, each separate tribe having a particular patriarch or head, by whose name they distinguish themselves, and each occupying its own separate portion of territory. They are scarcely ever engaged in external commerce; they dislike the restraints and despise the security of residence in towns, and dwell invariably in tents made of a stuff woven from goats' hair and the fibrous root of the palmeta. In some of the provinces, their residences form large circular encampments, consisting of from twenty to a hundred tents, where they are governed by a sheik or magistrate of their own body. This officer is again subordinate to a bashaw or governor, appointed by the emperor, who resides in some neighbouring town. In these encampments there is always a tent set apart for religious worship, and appropriated to the use of the weary or benighted traveller, who is supplied with food and refreshment at the expense of the community.
The character of the Arab, in a general view, is decidedly more noble and magnanimous than that of the Berrebber. His vices are of a more daring, and if the expression may be used, of a more generous cast. He accomplishes his designs rather by open violence than by treachery; he has less duplicity and concealment than the Berrebber, and to the people of his own nation or religion, he is much more hospitable and benevolent. Beyond this, it is impossible to say any thing in his favour. But it is in those periods of civil discord, which have been so frequent in Barbary, that the Arab character completely develops itself. On these occasions, they will be seen linked together in small tribes, the firm friends of each other, but the sworn enemies of all the world besides. While these dreadful tempests last, the Arabs carry devastation and destruction wherever they go, sparing neither age nor sex, and even ripping open the dead bodies of their victims, to discover whether they have not swallowed their riches for the purpose of concealment. Their barbarity towards Christians ought not to be tried by the same rules as the rest of their conduct, for although it has no bounds but those which self-interest may prescribe, it must almost be considered as a part of their religion; so deep is the detestation which I they are taught to feel for "the unclean and idolatrous infidel." A Christian, therefore, who falls into the hands of the Arabs, has no reason to expect any mercy. If it be his lot to be possessed by the Arabs of the desert, his value as a slave will probably save his life, but if he happens to be wrecked on the coasts of the emperor's dominions, where Europeans are not allowed to be retained in slavery, his fate would in most cases be immediate death, before the government could have time to interfere for his protection. The next great division of the people of western Barbary, are the inhabitants of the cities and towns, who may be collectively classed under the general denomination of MOORS, although this name is only known to them through the language of Europeans. They depend chiefly on trade and manufactures for subsistence, and confine their pursuits in general to occupations in the towns. Occasionally, however, but very rarely, they may be found to join agricultural operations with the Arabs.
The Moors may be divided into the four following classes:—1st. The tribes descended from Arab families. 2nd. Those of Berrebber descent. 3rd. The Bukharie. 4th. The Andalusie.
The Arab families are the brethren of the conquerors of the country, and they form the largest portion of the population of the southern towns, especially of those, which border on Arab districts. The Berrebber families are in like manner more or less numerous in the towns, according to the proximity of the latter to the Berrebber districts.
The Bukharie, or black tribe, are the descendants of the negroes, brought by the emperor Mulai Ismael, from Soudan. They have been endowed with gifts of land, and otherwise encouraged by the subsequent emperors, and the tribe, although inconsiderable in point of numbers, has been raised to importance in the state, by the circumstance of its forming the standing army of the emperor, and of its being employed invariably as the instruments of government. Their chief residence is in the city of Mequinez, about the emperor's person. They are also found, but in smaller numbers, in the different towns of the empire.
The Andalusie, who form the fourth class of Moors, are the reputed descendants of the Arab conquerors of Spain, the remnant of whom, on being expelled from that kingdom, appear to have retained the name of its nearest province. These people form a large class of the population of the towns in the north of Barbary, particularly of Tetuan, Mequinez, Fez, and Rhabatt or Sallee. They are scarcely, if at all found residing to the south of the river Azamoor, being confined chiefly to that province of Barbary known by the name of El Gharb.
These may be considered the component parts of that mixed population, which now inhabit the towns of Barbary, and which are known to Europeans by the name of Moors. In feature and appearance the greater part of them may be traced to the Arab, or Berrebber tribes, from which they are respectively derived, for marriages between individuals of different tribes are generally considered discreditable. Such, marriages, however, do occasionally take place, either in consequence of domestic troubles, or irregularity of conduct in the parties, and they are of course attended with a corresponding mixture of feature. Intermarriages of the other tribes with the Bukharie are almost universally reprobated, and are attributed, when they occur, to interested motives on the part of the tribe which sanctions them, or to the overbearing influence and power possessed by the Bukharie. These matches entail on their offspring the negro feature, and a mulatto-like complexion, but darker. In all cases of intermarriage between different tribes or classes, the woman is considered to pass over to the tribe of her husband.
Besides the Moors, the population of the towns is considerably increased by the negro slaves, who are in general prolific, and whose numbers are continually increasing by fresh arrivals from the countries of Soudan.
There are but few of the African travellers, who, in their descriptions of the different characters, which may be said to constitute the various branches of African society, do not frequently make mention of a class of men known by the name of Marabouts, who may be regarded as the diviners or astrologers of the ancients, and of whose manners and imposition a slight sketch may not be thought in this place inexpedient nor useless.
In order to belong to the privileged class of the marabouts, it is requisite to have only one wife, to drink no wine nor spirits, and to know how to read the Koran, no matter however ill the task may be performed. In a country where incontinence and intemperance are so prevalent, and literature is so entirely unknown, it is not surprising that these men should easily gain credit with the public, but this credit is much augmented if the marabout be skilled in such tricks as are calculated to impose upon the vulgar. The least crafty amongst them will continue shaking their heads and arms so violently during several hours, that they frequently fall down in a swoon; others remain perfectly motionless, in attitudes the most whimsical and painful, and many of these impostors have the talent of captivating the confidence and good opinion of the multitude, by pretending to perform miracles in the public streets. This trade descends from father to son; and is so lucrative, that the most fertile parts of the country swarm with these knavish hypocrites. When they die, the neighbouring tribes erect a sort of mausoleum to their memory, consisting of a square tower, surmounted by a cupola of the most fantastical architecture. To these tombs, called likewise marabouts, the devout repair in crowds, and are accosted by the deceased through the organs of his surviving representatives, who dwell within the walls of the tower, and artfully contrive to increase the holy reputation of their predecessor, as well as their own profits. The walls of their tombs are covered with votive tablets and offerings to the deceased, consisting of fire-arms, saddles, bridles, stirrups and baskets of fruit, which no profane hand is allowed to touch, because the departed saint may choose to appropriate the contents to his own use, and by emptying the basket, acquire fresh claims to the veneration of the credulous. Some of these jugglers generally accompany the armies, when they take the field, feeding the commanders with promises of victory, making the camp the scene of their mummeries and impostures, and dealing in amulets, containing mystic words, written in characters, which none but the marabout who disposes of them can decipher. According to the price of these amulets, they have respectively the power of shielding the wearer from a poniard, a musket shot and cannon ball, and there is scarcely a man in the army, who does not wear one or more of them round his neck, as well as hang them round that of his horse or camel. Miraculous indeed is said to be the efficacy of their written characters in cases of sickness, but the presence of the marabout himself is necessary, in order that the writing may suit the nature of the disorder. When the disease is dangerous, the writing is administered internally, for which purpose they scrawl some words in large characters, with thick streaks of ink round the inside of a cup, dissolve the ink with broth, and with many devout ceremonies pour the liquor down the sick man's throat. These impostors have always free access to the beys and other high dignitaries of the state; and with regard to the former, in public audiences they never kiss his hand, but his shoulder, a token of distinction and confidence granted only to relations and persons of importance.
In their religion, the Africans labour under the disadvantage of being left to unassisted reason, and that too very little enlightened. Man has, perhaps, an instinctive sentiment, that his own fate and that of the universe are ruled by some supreme and invisible power, yet he sees this only through the medium of his wishes and imagination. He seeks for some object of veneration and means of protection, which may assume an outward and tangible shape. Thus the African reposes his faith in the doctrine of charms, which presents a substance stamped with a supernatural character, capable of being attached to himself individually, and of affording a feeling of security amid the many evils that environ him. In all the moorish borders where writing is known, it forms the basis of Fetisherie, and its productions enclosed in golden or ornamented cases, are hung round the person as guardian influences. Absurd, however, as are the observances of the negro, he is a stranger to the bigotry of his moslem neighbours. He neither persecutes nor brands as impious those whose religious views differ from his own. There is only one point, on which his faith assumes a savage character, and displays darker than inquisitorial horrors. The despot, the object of boundless homage on earth, seeks to transport all his pomp and the crowd of his attendants to his place in the future world. His death must be celebrated by the corresponding sacrifice of a numerous band of slaves, of wives and of courtiers; their blood must moisten his grave, and the sword of the rude warrior once drawn, does not readily stop; a general massacre often takes place, and the capitals of these barbarian chiefs are seen to stream with blood.
It is impossible not to view the unquenchable zeal and intrepidity, which Park evinced on his first journey, without feeling for the individual the highest sentiments of admiration and respect. In addition to those high qualifications, we witnessed an admirable prudence in his intercourse with the natives, and a temper not to be ruffled by the most trying provocations; a union of qualities often thought incompatible, and which in our days we fear we cannot expect to see again directed to the same pursuits. It may be further stated, that to our own feelings, scarcely an individual of the age can be named, who has sunk under circumstances of deeper interest than this lamented traveller; whether we consider the loss, which geographical science has suffered in his death, or whether we confine our views to the blasted hopes of the individual, snatched away from his hard-earned, but unfinished triumph, and leaving to others that splendid consummation, which he so ardently sought to achieve. True it is, that the future discoverer of the termination of the Niger, must erect the structure of his fame on the wide foundation, with which his great predecessor had already occupied the ground; but although the edifice will owe its very existence to the labours of Park, yet another name than his is now recorded on the finished pile;
Hos ego—feci, tulit alter honores.
The African Association, although enthusiastically attached to every subject connected with the interior of Africa, soon found that, unless the government would take up the subject as a national affair, no great hope existed of arriving at the great objects of their research; it was therefore proposed by Sir Joseph Banks, that a memorial should be presented to his majesty George III, praying him to institute those measures, by which the discoveries that Park had made in the interior of Africa could be prosecuted, and which might ultimately lead to the solution of those geographical problems, to which the attention of the scientific men of the country were then directed.
In the mean time Mr. Park had married the daughter of a Mr. Anderson, with whom he had served his apprenticeship as a surgeon, and having entered with some success in the practice of his profession, in the town of Peebles, it was supposed, that content with the laurels so dearly earned, he had renounced a life of peril and adventure. But none of these ties could detain him, when the invitation was given to renew and complete his splendid career. The invitation was formally sent to him by government, in October 1801, to undertake an expedition on a larger scale, into the interior of Africa. His mind had been brooding on the subject with enthusiastic ardour. He had held much intercourse with Mr. Maxwell, a gentleman who had long commanded a vessel in the African trade, by whom he was persuaded that the Congo, which since its discovery by the Portuguese, had been almost lost sight of by the Europeans, would prove to be the channel by which the Niger, after watering all the regions of interior Africa, enters the Atlantic. The scientific world were very much disposed to adopt Park's views on this subject, and accordingly the whole plan of the expedition was adjusted with an avowed reference to them. The agitation of the public mind, by the change of ministry, and the war with France, delayed further proceedings till 1804, when Mr. Park was desired by Lord Camden, the colonial secretary, to form his arrangements, with an assurance of being supplied with every means necessary for their accomplishment. The course which he now suggested, was, that he should no longer travel as a single and unprotected wanderer; his experience decided him against such a mode of proceeding. He proposed to take with him a small party, who being well armed and disciplined, might face almost any force which the natives could oppose to them. He determined with this force to proceed direct to Sego, to build there two boats forty feet long, and thence to sail downwards to the estuary of the Congo. Instructions were accordingly sent out to Goree, that he should be furnished liberally with men, and every thing else of which he might stand in need.
Mr. Park sailed from Portsmouth, in the Crescent transport, on the 30th January 1805. About the 9th of March, he arrived at the Cape Verd Islands, and on the 28th reached Goree. There he provided himself with an officer and thirty-five soldiers, and with a large stock of asses from the islands, where the breed of these animals is excellent, and which appeared well fitted for traversing the rugged hills of the high country, whence issue the sources of the Senegal and Niger. He took with him also two sailors and four artificers, who had been sent from England. A month however elapsed, before all these measures could be completed, and it was then evident that the rainy season could not be far distant, a period, in which travelling is very difficult and trying to European constitutions. It is clear, therefore, that it would have been prudent to remain at Goree or Pisania, till that season had passed; but in Mr. Park's enthusiastic state of mind, it would have been extremely painful to linger so long on the eve of his grand and favorite undertaking. He hoped, and it seemed possible, that before the middle of June, when the rains usually began, he might reach the Niger, which could then be navigated without any serious toil or exposure. He departed, therefore, with his little band from Pisania, on the 4th May, and proceeded through Medina, along the banks of the Gambia. With so strong a party, he was no longer dependent on the protection of the petty kings and mansas, but the Africans seeing him so well provided, thought he had now no claim on their hospitality; on the contrary, they seized every opportunity to obtain some of the valuable articles which they saw in his possession. Thefts were practised in the most audacious manner; the kings drove a hard bargain for presents; at one place, the women, with immense labour had emptied all the wells, that they might derive an advantage from selling the water. Submitting quietly to these little annoyances, Mr. Park proceeded along the Gambia till he saw it flowing from the south, between the hills of Foota Jalla and a high mountain called Mueianta. Turning his face almost due west, he passed the streams of the Ba Lee, the Ba Ting, and the Ba Woollima, the three principal tributaries of the Senegal. His change of direction led him through a tract much more pleasing, than that passed in his dreary return through the Jallonka wilderness. The villages, built in delightful mountain glens, and looking from their elevated precipices over a great extent of wooded plain, appeared romantic beyond any thing he had ever seen. The rocks near Sullo, assumed every possible diversity of form, towering like ruined castles, spires and pyramids. One mass of granite so strongly resembled the remains of a gothic abbey, with its niches: and ruined staircase, that it required some time to satisfy him of its being composed wholly of natural stone. The crossing of the river, now considerably swelled, was attended with many difficulties, and in one of them Isaaco, the guide, was nearly devoured by a crocodile.
It was near Satadoo, soon after passing the Faleme, that the party experienced the first tornado, which marking the commencement of the rainy season, proved for them the "beginning of sorrows." In these tornadoes, violent storms of thunder and lightning are followed by deluges of rain, which cover the ground three feet deep, and have a peculiarly malignant influence on European constitutions. In three days twelve men were on the sick-list; the natives, as they saw the strength of the expedition decline, became more bold and frequent in their predatory attacks. At Gambia attempts were made to overpower by main force the whole party, and seize all they possessed; but, by merely presenting their muskets, the assault was repelled without bloodshed. At Mania Korro the whole population hung on their rear for a considerable time, headed by thirty of the king's sons; and some degree of delicacy was felt as to the mode of dealing with these august thieves, so long as their proceedings were not quite intolerable. One of them came up and engaged Mr. Park in conversation, while another ran off with his fowling-piece, and on his attempting to pursue him, the first took the opportunity of seizing his great coat. Orders were now given to fire on all depredators, royal or plebeian; and after a few shots had been discharged without producing any fatal effects, the thieves hid themselves amongst the rocks, and were merely seen peeping through the crevices.
The expedition continued to melt away beneath the deadly influence of an African climate. Everyday added to the list of the sick or dead, or of those who declared themselves unable to proceed. Near Bangassi, four men lay down at once. It was even with difficulty that Mr. Park dragged forward his brother-in-law, Mr. Anderson, while he himself felt very sick and faint. His spirits were about to sink entirely, when, coming to an eminence, he obtained a distant view of the mountains, the southern base of which he knew to be watered by the Niger. Then indeed he forgot his fever, and thought only of climbing the blue hills, which delighted his eyes.
Before he could arrive at that desired point, three weeks elapsed, during which he experienced the greatest difficulty and suffering. At length, he reached the summit of the ridge, which divides the Senegal from the Niger, and coming to the brow of the hill, saw again this majestic river rolling its immense stream along the plain. His situation and prospects were, however, gloomy indeed, when compared with those, with which he had left the banks of the Gambia. Of thirty-eight men, whom he then had with him, there survived only seven, all suffering from severe sickness, and some nearly at the last extremity. Still his mind was full of the most sanguine hopes, especially when, on the 22nd August, he found himself floating on the waters of the Niger, and advancing towards the ultimate object of his ambition. He hired canoes to convey his party to Maraboo, and the river here, a mile in breadth, was so full and so deep, that its current carried him easily over the rapids, but with a velocity, which was even in a certain degree painful.
At Maraboo, he sent forward Isaaco, the interpreter, to Mansong, with part of the presents, and to treat with that monarch for protection, as well as for permission to build a boat. This envoy was absent several days, during which great anxiety was felt, heightened by several unfavourable rumours, amongst which was, that the king had killed the envoy with his own hand, and announced his purpose to do the same to every white man, who should come within his reach. These fears were, however, dispelled by the appearance of the royal singing-man, who brought a message of welcome, with an invitation to repair to Sego, and deliver in person the remaining presents intended for the monarch. At Samee, the party met Isaaco, who reported that there was something very odd in his reception by Mansong. That prince assured him, in general, that the expedition would be allowed to pass down the Niger; but whenever the latter came to particulars, and proposed an interview with Mr. Park, the king began to draw squares and triangles with his finger on the sand, and in this geometrical operation his mind seemed wholly absorbed. Isaaco suspected that he laboured under some superstitious dread of white men, and sought by these figures to defend himself against their magic influence. It was finally arranged, that the presents should be delivered, not to Mansong in person, but to Modibinne, his prime minister, who was to come to Samee for that purpose. He accordingly appeared, and began by inquiring, in the king's name, an explanation why Park had come to Bambarra, with so great a train, from so distant a country, allowing him a day to prepare his reply. Next morning, the traveller gave an answer in form, representing his mission as chiefly commercial, and holding forth the advantages, which Bambarra might reap by receiving European goods directly from the coast, instead of circuitously, as now, through Morocco, the desert, Timbuctoo, and Jenne, having a profit levied on them at every transfer. Modibinne expressed satisfaction both with the reasons and the presents, and on his return next day, offered, on the part of Mansong, the option of building a boat either at Samee, Sego, Sansanding, or Jenne. Park chose Sansanding, thus enabling the king to avoid an interview with the Europeans, of which he seemed to entertain so mysterious a dread.
The voyage down the river was distressing; for although the fatigue of travelling was avoided, the heat was so intense, that it was thought sufficient to have roasted a sirloin, and the sick had thus no chance of recovery. Sansanding was found a prosperous and flourishing town, with a crowded market well arranged. The principal articles, which were cloth of Houssa or Jenne, antimony, beads, and indigo, were each arranged in stalls, shaded by mats from the heat of the sun. There was a separate market for salt, the main staple of their trade. The whole presented a scene of commercial order and activity totally unlooked for in the interior of Africa.
Mansong had promised to furnish two boats, but they were late in arriving, and proved very defective. In order to raise money, it was necessary to sell a considerable quantity of goods; nor was it without much trouble, that the two skiffs were finally converted into the schooner Joliba, forty feet long, six broad, and drawing only one foot of water, being the fittest form for navigating the Niger downward to the ocean.
During Mr. Park's stay at Sansanding, he had the misfortune to lose his brother-in-law, Mr. Anderson, to whom his attachment was so strong as to make him say, "No event which took place during the journey ever threw the smallest gloom over my mind, till I laid Mr. Anderson in the grave. I then felt myself as if left a second time, lonely and friendless amidst the wilds of Africa." Although the party were now reduced to five Europeans, one of whom was deranged, and although the most gloomy anticipations could not fail to arise in the mind of Mr. Park, his firmness was in no degree shaken. He announced to Lord Camden his fixed purpose to discover the termination of the Niger, or to perish in the attempt, adding, "Though all the Europeans, who are with me should die, and though I were myself half dead, I would still persevere." To Mrs. Park he announced the same determination, combined with an undoubting confidence of success, and the commencement of his voyage down the Niger, through the vast unknown regions of interior Africa, he called, "turning his face towards England."
It was on the 7th November 1805, that Park set sail on his last and fatal voyage. A long interval elapsed without any tidings, which, considering the great distance, and the many causes of delay, did not at first excite alarm amongst his friends. As the following year, however, passed on, rumours of an unpleasant nature began to prevail. Alarmed by these, and feeling a deep interest in his fate, Governor Maxwell, of Sierra Leone, engaged Isaaco, the guide, who had been sent to the Gambia with despatches from the Niger, to undertake a fresh journey to inquire after him. At Sansanding he was so far fortunate as to meet Amadi Fatouma, who had been engaged to succeed himself as interpreter. From him he received a journal, purporting to contain the narrative of the voyage down the river, and of its final issue. The party, it would appear, had purchased three slaves, who, with the five Europeans and Fatouma, increased their number to nine. They passed Silla and Jenne in a friendly manner; but at Rakbara (Kabra) and Timbuctoo, they were attacked by several armed parties, who were repelled only by a smart and destructive fire. No particulars are given of any of these important places; nor of Kaffo Gotoijege and others, which the discoverers are represented as having afterwards passed. At length they came to the village, more properly the city of Yaour, where Amadi Fatouma left the party, his services having been engaged only to that point, He had, however, scarcely taken his leave, when he was summoned before the king, who bitterly complained that the white men, though they brought many valuable commodities with them, had passed without giving him any presents. He therefore ordered that Fatouma should be thrown into irons, and a body of troops sent in pursuit of the English. These men reached Boussa, and took possession of a pass, where rocks, hemming in the river, allowed only a narrow channel for vessels to descend. When Park arrived, he found the passage thus obstructed, but attempted nevertheless to push his way through. The people began to attack him, throwing lances, pikes, arrows, and stones. He defended himself for a long time, when two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed. The crew threw every thing they had into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers and fatigue, unable to keep up the canoe against the current, and seeing no probability of escaping, Mr. Park took hold of one of the white men, and jumped into the water. Martyn did the same, and they were all drowned in the stream in attempting to escape. The only slave that remained in the boat, seeing the natives persist in throwing weapons into it without ceasing, stood up and said to them, "Stop throwing now; you see nothing in the canoe, and nobody but myself; therefore cease. Take me and the canoe; but don't kill me." They took possession of both, and carried them to the king.
These sad tidings, conveyed in course to England, were not for a long time received with general belief. The statement, being sifted with care, was thought to contain inconsistencies, as well as such a degree of improbability as left some room for hope; but year after year elapsed, and this hope died away. Denham and Clapperton received accounts from various quarters, which very nearly coincided with those of Amadi Fatouma. Clapperton, in his last journey, even saw the spot where he perished, which, allowing for some exaggeration, did not ill correspond with the description just given; and further, he received notice that Park's manuscripts were in the possession of the king of Yaour, or Youri, who offered to deliver them up, on condition that the captain would pay him a visit, which he, unfortunately, was never able to perform.
The fate of Park, notwithstanding the deep regret which it excited in England and in Europe, presented nothing which could destroy the hope of future success. The chief cause of failure could be easily traced to the precipitation into which he had been betrayed by a too ardent enthusiasm. Nothing had ever been discovered adverse to the hypothesis that identified the Niger with the Congo, which still retained a strong hold on the public mind. The views of government and of the nation on this subject were entirely in unison. It was therefore determined, that an expedition on a grand scale should be fitted out, divided into two portions; one to descend the Niger, and the other to ascend the Congo; which two parties, it was fondly hoped, would effect a triumphant meeting in the middle of the great stream that they were sent to explore. The public loudly applauded this resolution; and never perhaps did an armament, expected to achieve the most splendid victories, excite deeper interest than this, which seemed destined to triumph over the darkness that had so long enveloped the vast interior of Africa.
The expedition to the Congo was entrusted to Captain Tuckey, an officer of merit and varied services, who had published several works connected with geography and navigation. Besides a crew of about fifty, including marines and mechanics; he was accompanied by Mr. Smith, an eminent botanist, who likewise possessed some knowledge of geology; Mr. Cranck, a self-taught, but able zoologist; Mr. Tudor, a good comparative-anatomist; Mr. Lock-hart, a gardener from Kew; and Mr. Galwey, an intelligent person, who volunteered to join the party.
They sailed from Deptford on the 16th February 1816, and reached Malemba on the 30th June, where they met with a cordial reception from the mafook, or king's merchant, in the belief that they were come to make up a cargo of slaves. The chiefs, on being reluctantly convinced of the contrary, burst into the most furious invectives against the crowned heads of Europe, particularly the king of England, whom they denominated the "devil," imputing chiefly to him the stop put to this odious, but lucrative traffic. A few days brought the English into the channel of the Congo, which, to their great surprise, instead of exhibiting the immense size they had been taught to expect, scarcely appeared a river of the second class. The stream it is true, was then at the lowest, but the depth being still more than 150 fathoms, made it impossible to estimate the mass of water which its channel might convey to the ocean. The banks were swampy, overgrown with mangrove trees, and the deep silence and repose of these extensive forests made a solemn impression upon the mind.
At Embomma, the emporium of the Congo, much interest was excited by the discovery, that a negro officiating as cook's mate, was a prince of the blood. [*] He was welcomed with rapture by his father, and with a general rejoicing by the whole village. The young savage was soon arrayed in full African pomp, having on an embroidered coat, very much tarnished, a silk sash, and a black glazed hat, surmounted by an enormous feather. Captain Tuckey was introduced to the cheeno, or hereditary chief, who, with his huge gilt buttons, stockings of pink sarcenet, red half-boots, and high-crowned embroidered hat, reminded him of punch in a puppet show. It was vain attempting to convey to this sage prince, any idea of the objects of the expedition. The terms which express science, and an enlightened curiosity, did not excite in his mind a single idea, and he rang continual changes on the questions:—Are you come to trade? and are you come to make war? being unable to conjecture any other motive. At length having received a solemn declaration, that there was no intention to make war, he sealed peace by the acceptance of a large present of brandy.
[Footnote: This is by no means an uncommon case in the ships trading to Africa, for we were once honoured by an introduction to one of these princes, who came to England in Capt. Fullerton's ship, in the humble capacity of a cabin boy. We could not exactly ascertain whether he considered any part of England, as belonging to the territory of his father, but he seemed very much disposed to consider our house as his home, for having once gained a footing in it, it was a very difficult matter to make him comprehend, when it was high time for him to take his departure. He once honoured us with a visit at nine o'clock in the morning, and at eleven at night, he was seated upon the same chair that he had taken possession of in the morning, during which time he had consumed ten basins of pea-soup, with a proportionate quantity of other substantials.]
After sailing between ridges of high rocky hills, the expedition came to the Yellala, or great cataract, and here they met with a second disappointment. Instead of another Niagara, which general report had led them to expect, they saw only a comparative brook bubbling over its stony bed. The fall appears to be occasioned merely by masses of granite, fragments of which have fallen down and blocked up the stream. Yet this obstruction rendered it quite impossible for the boats to pass, nor could they be carried across the precipices and deep ravines, by which the country was intersected. The discoverers were, therefore, obliged to proceed by land through this difficult region, which, without a guide on whom they could rely, was attended with overwhelming toil. Cooloo Inga, and Mavoonda, the principal villages, were separated by wide intervals, which placed the travellers under the necessity of often sleeping in the open air. At length the country improved and became more level; the river widened, and the obstacles to its navigation gradually disappeared. But just as the voyage began to assume a prosperous aspect, indications of its fatal termination began to show themselves. The health of the party was rapidly giving way under the effects of fatigue, as well as the malignant influence of a damp and burning atmosphere. Tudor, Crouch and Galwey, were successively obliged to return to the ship. Captain Tuckey, after struggling for some time against the increasing pressure of disease and exhaustion, as well as the accumulating difficulties of the expedition, saw the necessity of putting a stop to its further progress. Mr. Smith at first expressed deep disappointment at this resolution, but soon became so ill that he could scarcely be conveyed to the vessel. On reaching it, a sad scene awaited the survivors; Crouch, Tudor and Galwey, were no more; they had successively sunk under the weight of disease. Mr. Smith soon shared their fate, and Captain Tuckey himself, on the 4th October, added one more to the number of deaths, without having suffered the usual attack of fever. He had been exhausted by constant depression and mental anxiety.