Shortly afterwards, we were surprised at the sight of an island W.S.W., which we flattered ourselves was a new discovery. Before noon we had sight of houses, groves of trees, and flocks of sheep, and after the boat had put off to land, horsemen were seen from the ship, one of whom had a lace hat on, and was dressed in a coat and waistcoat of the fashion of Europe. The Dutch colours were hoisted over the town, and the rajah paid us a visit on board, accepting gifts of an English dog and a spying-glass. During a short stay on shore for the purchase of provisions, we found that the Dutch agent, Mr. Lange, was not keeping faith with us. At his instigation the Portuguese were driving away such of the Indians as had brought palm-syrup and fowls to sell.
At this juncture Captain Cook, happening to look at the old man who had been distinguished by the name of Prime Minister, imagined that he saw in his features a disapprobation of the present proceedings, and willing to improve the advantage, he grasped the Indian's hand, and gave him an old broadsword. This well-timed present produced all the good effects that could be wished. The prime minister was enraptured at so honourable a mark of distinction, and, brandishing his sword over the head of the impertinent Portuguese, he made both him and the men who commanded the party sit down behind him on the ground, and the whole business was accomplished.
This island of Savu is between twenty and thirty miles long; the women wear a kind of petticoat held up by girdles of beads, the king and his minister a nightgown of coarse chintz, carrying a silver-headed cane.
On October 10, 1770, the captain and the rest of the gentlemen went ashore on reaching the harbour of Batavia. Here the Endeavour had to be refitted, and intermittent fever laid many of our party low. Our surgeon, Dr. Monkhouse, died, our Indian boy, Tayeto, paid the debt of Nature, and Captain Cook himself was taken ill.
We were glad to steer for Java, and on our way to the Cape of Good Hope the water was purified with lime and the decks washed with vinegar to prevent infection of fever. After a little stay at St. Helena we sighted Beachy Head, and landed at Deal, where the ship's company indulged freely in that mirth and social jollity common to all English sailors upon their return from a long voyage, who as readily forget hardships and dangers as with alacrity and bravery they encounter them.
II.—Round the World via the Antarctic
The King's expectation not being wholly answered, Captain Cook was appointed to the Resolution, and Captain Furneaux to the Adventure, both ships being fully equipped, with instructions to find Cape Circumcision, said to be in latitude 54 deg. S. and about 11 deg. 20' E. longitude from Greenwich. Captain Cook was to endeavour to discover whether this was part of the supposed continent or only the promontory of an island, and then to continue his journey southward and then eastward.
On Monday, July 13, 1772, the two ships sailed from Plymouth, passing the Eddystone, and after visiting the islands of Canaria, Teneriffe, and others, reached the Cape of Good Hope on September 29. Here we stayed until November 22, when we directed our course towards the Antarctic circle, meeting on December 8 with a gale of such fury that we could carry no sails, and were driven by this means to eastward of our intended course, not the least hope remaining of our reaching Cape Circumcision.
We now encountered in 51 deg. 50' S. latitude and 21 deg. 3' E. longitude some ice islands. The dismal scene, a view to which we were unaccustomed, was varied as well by birds of the petrel kind as by several whales which made their appearance among the ice, and afforded us some idea of a southern Greenland. But though the appearance of the ice with the waves breaking over it might afford a few minutes' pleasure to the eye, yet it could not fail to fill us with horror when we reflected on our danger, for the ship would be dashed to pieces in a moment were she to get against the weather side of these islands, where the sea runs high. Captain Cook had directed the Adventure, in case of separation, to cruise three days in that place, but in a thick fog we lost sight of her. This was a dismal prospect, for we now were exposed to the dangers of the frozen climate without the company of our fellow voyagers, which before had relieved our spirits when we considered we were not entirely alone in case we lost our vessel.
The spirits of our sailors were greatly exhilarated when we reached Dusky Bay, New Zealand. Landing a shooting party at Duck Cove, we found a native with his club and some women behind him, who would not move. His fears, however, were all dissipated by Captain Cook going up to embrace him. After a stay here we opened Queen Charlotte's Sound and found the Adventure at anchor; none can describe the joy we felt at this most happy meeting. They had experienced terrible weather, and having made no discovery of land, determined to bear away from Van Diemen's Land, which was supposed to join New Holland and was discovered by Tasman, in 1642 A.D. Here they refitted their ship, and after three months' separation met us again.
During all this arduous experience of seamanship, sometimes involved in sheets of snow, and in mists so dark that a man on the forecastle could not be seen from the quarter-deck, it was astonishing that the crew of the Resolution should continue in perfect health. Nothing can redound more to the honour of Captain Cook than his paying particular attention to the preservation of health among his company. By observing the strictest discipline from the highest to the lowest, his commands were duly observed and punctually executed.
After a lengthened stay with the New Zealanders, and all hopes of discovering a continent having now vanished, we were induced to believe that there is no southern continent between New Zealand and America, and, steering clear the island, we made our way to Otaheite, where the Resolution lost her lower anchor in the bay. Excursions were made inland, and King Otoo, a personable man, six feet in height, and about thirty years of age, treated the party with great entertainment.
On January 30, 1774, we sailed from New Zealand, and reaching latitude 67 deg. 5' S., we found an immense field of ice with ninety-seven ice-hills glistening white in the distance. Captain Cook says: "I will not say it was impossible anywhere to get further to the south, but the attempting it would have been a dangerous and rash enterprise, and what I believe no man in any situation would have thought of."
We therefore sailed northward again, meeting with heavy storms, and the captain, being taken ill with a colic, and in the extremity of the case, the doctor fed him with the flesh of a favourite dog.
On the discovery of Palmerston Island—named after one of the Lords of the Admiralty—and Savage Island, as appropriate to the character of the natives, we had some adventures with the Mallicos, who express their admiration by hissing like a goose.
We stayed some time in Tanna, with its volcano furiously burning, and then steering south-west, we discovered an uninhabited island, which Captain Cook named Norfolk Island, in honour of the noble family of Howard. We reached the Straits of Magalhaes, and, going north, the captain gave the names of Cumberland Bay and the Isle of Georgia, and then we found a land ice-bound and inhospitable. At last we reached home, landing at Portsmouth on July 30, 1775.
III.—The Pacific Isles and the Arctic Circle
Former navigators had returned to Europe by the Cape of Good Hope; the arduous task was now assigned to Captain Cook of attempting it by reaching the high northern latitudes between Asia and America. He was then ordered to proceed to Otaheite, or the Society Islands, and then, having crossed the Equator into the northern tropics, to hold such a course as might best probably give success to the attempt of finding out a northern passage.
On the afternoon of July 11, 1776, Captain Cook set sail from Plymouth in the Resolution, giving orders to Captain Clerke to follow in the Discovery. After a short stay at Santa Cruz, in the island of Teneriffe, we were joined by the Discovery at Cape Town.
Leaving the Cape, we passed some islands, which Captain Cook named Princes Islands, and made for the land discovered by M. de Kerguelen. Here, in a bay, we celebrated Christmas rejoicings amid desolate surroundings. The captain named it Christmas Harbour, and wrote on the other side of a piece of parchment, found in a bottle, these words: Naves Resolution et Discovery de Rege Magnae Britanniae Decembris 1776, and buried the same beneath a pile of stones, waving above it the British flag.
Having failed to see a human being on shore, he sailed to Van Diemen's Land, and took the ships into Adventure Bay for water and wood. The natives, with whom we were conversant, seemed mild and cheerful, with little of that savage appearance common to people in their situation, nor did they discover the least reserve or jealousy in their intercourse with strangers.
On our landing at Annamooka, in the Friendly Islands, we were entertained with great civility by Toobou, the chief, who gave us much amusement by a sort of pantomime, in which some prizefighters displayed their feats of arms, and this part of the drama concluded with the presentation of some laughable story which produced among the chiefs and their attendants the most immoderate mirth. This friendly reception was also repeated in the island of Hapaee, where Captain Cook ordered an exhibition of fireworks, and in return the king, Feenou, gave us an exhibition of dances in which twenty women entered a circle, whose hands were adorned with garlands of crimson flowers, and many of their persons were decorated with leaves of trees, curiously scalloped, and ornamented at the edges. In the island of Matavai it is impossible to give an adequate idea of the joy of the natives on our arrival. The shores everywhere resounded with the name of Cook; not a child that could lisp "Toote" was silent.
Before proceeding to the northern hemisphere we passed a cluster of isles which Captain Cook distinguished by the name of Sandwich Islands, in honour of the Earl of Sandwich. They are not inferior in beauty to the Friendly Islands, nor are the inhabitants less ingenious or civilised.
When in latitude 44 deg. N., longitude 234 deg. 30', the long expected coast of New Albion, so named by Sir Francis Drake, was descried at a distance of ten leagues, and pursuing our course we reached the inlet which is called by the natives Nootka, but Captain Cook gave it the name of King George's Sound, where we moored our vessels for some time. The inhabitants are short in stature, with limbs short in proportion to the other parts; they are wretched in appearance and lost to every idea of cleanliness. In trafficking with us some displayed a disposition to knavery, and the appellation of thieves is certainly applicable to them.
Between the promontory which the captain named Cape Douglas after Dr. Douglas, the Dean of Windsor, and Point Banks is a large, deep bay, which received the name of Smoky Bay; and northward he discovered more land composed of a chain of mountains, the highest of which obtained the name of Mount St. Augustine. But the captain was now fully convinced that no passage could be discovered by this inlet. Steering N.E., we discovered a passage of waves dashing against rocks; and, on tasting the water, it proved to be a river, and not a strait, as might have been imagined. This we traced to the latitude of 61 deg. 30' and the longitude of 210 deg., which is upwards of 210 miles from its entrance, and saw no appearance of its source. [Here the captain having left a blank in his journal, which he had not filled up with any particular name, the Earl of Sandwich very properly directed it to be called Cook's River.] The time we spent in the discovery of Cook's River ought not to be regretted if it should hereafter prove useful to the present or any future age, but the delay thus occasioned was an effectual loss to us, who had a greater object in view. The season was far advanced, and it was now evident that the continent of North America extended much further to the west than we had reason to expect from the most approved charts. A bottle was buried in the earth containing some English coins of 1772, and the point of land was called Point Possession, being taken under the flag in the name of His Majesty.
After passing Foggy Island, which we supposed from its situation to be the island on which Behring had bestowed the same appellation, we were followed by some natives in a canoe who sent on board a small wooden box which contained a piece of paper in the Russian language. To this was prefixed the date 1778, and a reference made therein to the year 1776, from which we were convinced that others had preceded us in visiting these dreary regions.
While staying at Oonalaska we observed to the north of Cape Prince of Wales, neither tide nor current either on the coast of America or that of Asia. This circumstance gave rise to an opinion which some of our people entertained, that the two coasts were connected either by land or ice, and that opinion received some degree of strength from our never having seen any hollow waves from the northward, and from our seeing ice almost all the way across.
We were now by the captain's intention to proceed to Sandwich Islands in order to pass a few of the winter months there, if we should meet with the necessary refreshments, and then direct our course to Kamtchatka in the ensuing year.
IV.—Life's Voyage Suddenly Ended
We reached the island called by the natives Owhyhee with the summits of its mountains covered with snow. Here an eclipse of the moon was observed. We discovered the harbour of Karakakooa, which we deemed a proper place for refitting the ships, our masts and rigging having suffered much. On going ashore Captain Cook discovered the habitation of the Society of Priests, where he was present at some solemn ceremonies and treated with great civility. Afterwards the captain conducted the king, Terreeoboo, on to the ship with every mark of attention, giving him a shirt, and on our visits afterwards on shore we trusted ourselves among the natives without the least reserve.
Some time after, however, we noticed a change in their attitude. Following a short absence in search of a better anchorage, we found our reception very different, in a solitary and deserted bay with hardly a friend appearing or a canoe stirring. We were told that Terreeoboo was absent, and that the bay was tabooed. Our party on going ashore was met by armed natives, and a scuffle arose about the theft of some articles from the Discovery, and Pareea, our friendly native, was, through a misunderstanding, knocked down with an oar. Then Terreeoboo came and complained of our having killed two of his people.
On Sunday, February 14, 1779, that memorable day, very early in the morning, there was excitement on shore, and Captain Cook, taking his double-barrelled gun, went ashore to seize Terreeoboo, and keep him on board, according to his usual practice, until the stolen boat should be returned. He ordered that every canoe should be prevented from leaving the bay, and the captain then awoke the old king and invited him with the mildest terms to visit the ship. After some disputation he set out with Captain Cook, when a woman near the waterside, the mother of the king's two boys, entreated him to go no further, and two warriors obliged him to sit down. The old king, filled with terror and dejection, refused to move, notwithstanding all the persuasions of Captain Cook, who, seeing further attempts would be risky, came to the shore. At the same time two principal chiefs were killed on the opposite side of the bay. A native armed with a long iron spike threatened Captain Cook, who at last fired a charge of small shot at him, but his mat prevented any harm. A general attack upon the marines in the boat was made, and with fury the natives rushed upon them, dangerously wounding several of them.
The last time the captain was distinctly seen he was standing at the water's edge, ordering the boats to cease firing and pull in, when a base assassin, coming behind him and striking him on the head with his club, felled him to the ground, in such a direction that he lay with his face prone to the water.
A general shout was set up by the islanders on seeing the captain fall, and his body was dragged on shore, where he was surrounded by the enemy, who, snatching daggers from each other's hands, displayed a savage eagerness to join in his destruction. It would seem that vengeance was directed chiefly against our captain, by whom they supposed their king was to be dragged on board and punished at discretion; for, having secured his body, they fled without much regarding the rest of the slain, one of whom they threw into the sea.
Thus ended the life of the greatest navigator that this or any other nation could ever boast of, who led his crews of gallant British seamen twice round the world, reduced to a certainty the non-existence of a southern continent, about which the learned of all nations were in doubt, settled the boundaries of the earth and sea, and demonstrated the impracticability of a north-west passage from the Atlantic to the great southern ocean, for which our ablest geographers had contended, and in pursuit of which vast sums had been spent in vain, and many mariners had miserably perished.
New Voyage Round the World
I.—Buccaneering in Southern Seas
William Dampier, buccaneer and circumnavigator, was born at East Coker, Somersetshire, England, in 1652, and died in London in March, 1715. At sea, as a youth, he fought against the Dutch in 1673, and remained in Jamaica as a plantation overseer. Next he became a logwood cutter on the Bay of Campeachy, and finding himself short of wood to barter for provisions, joined the privateers who waged piratical war on Spaniards and others, making "many descents among the villages." Returning to England in 1678, he sailed again in that year for Jamaica; "but it proved to be a voyage round the world," as described in his book, and he did not reach home till 1691. In 1698 he was given command of a ship, in which he explored the Australian coast, but in returning was wrecked on the Isle of Ascension. In 1711 he piloted the expedition of Captain Woodes-Rogers which rescued Alexander Selkirk from the Island of Juan Fernandez. The "New Voyage Round the World," which was first published in 1697, shows Dampier to be a man of considerable scientific knowledge, his observations of natural history being trustworthy and accurate.
I first set out of England on this voyage at the beginning of the year 1679, in the Loyal Merchant, of London, bound for Jamaica, Captain Knapman commander. I went a passenger, designing when I came thither to go from thence to the Bay of Campeachy, in the Gulf of Mexico, to cut logwood. We arrived safely at Port Royal in Jamaica, in April, 1679, and went immediately ashore. I had brought some goods with me from England, which I intended to sell here, and stock myself with rum and sugar, saws, axes, hats, stockings, shoes, and such other commodities as I knew would sell among the Campeachy logwood-cutters. About Christmas one Mr. Hobby invited me to go a short trading voyage to the country of the Mosquito Indians. We came to an anchor in Negril Bay, at the west end of Jamaica; but, finding there Captains Coxon, Sawkins, Sharpe, and other privateers, Mr. Hobby's men all left him to go with them upon an expedition; and being thus left alone, after three or four days' stay with Mr. Hobby, I was the more easily persuaded to go with them too.
I was resolved to march by land over the Isthmus of Darien. Accordingly, on April 5, 1680, we went ashore on the isthmus, near Golden Island, one of the Sambaloes, to the number of between 300 and 400 men, carrying with us such provisions as were necessary, and toys wherewith to gratify the wild Indians. In about nine days' march we arrived at Santa Maria, and took it, and after a stay there of about three days, we went on to the South Sea coast, and there embarked ourselves in such canoes and periagoes as our Indian friends furnished us withal. We were in sight of Panama on April 23, and having in vain attempted Pueblo Nuevo, before which Sawkins, then commander-in-chief, and others, were killed, we made some stay at the isle of Quibo.
About Christmas we were got as far as the isle of Juan Fernandez, where Captain Sharpe was, by general consent, displaced from being commander, the company being not satisfied either with his courage or behaviour. In his stead Captain Watling was advanced; but he being killed shortly after before Arica, where we were repulsed with great loss, we were without a commander. Off the island of Plata we left Captain Sharpe and those who were willing to go with him in the ship, and embarked into our launch and canoes. We were in number forty-four white men who bore arms; a Spanish Indian, who bore arms also, and two Mosquito Indians, who always have arms among the privateers, and are much valued by them for striking fish and turtle, or tortoise, and manatee, or sea-cow; and five slaves taken in the South Seas, who fell to our share. We sifted as much flour as we could well carry, and rubbed up twenty or thirty pounds of chocolate, with sugar to sweeten it; these things and a kettle the slaves carried on their backs after we landed.
We gave out that if any man faltered in the journey overland he must expect to be shot to death; for we knew that the Spaniards would soon be after us, and one man falling into their hands might well be the ruin of us all. Guided by the Indians, we finished our journey from the South Sea to the North in twenty-three days.
II.—Adventures with the Privateers
It was concluded to go to a town called Coretaga (Cartagena), and march thence on Panama. I was with Captain Archembo; but his French seamen were the saddest creatures ever I was among. So, meeting Captain Wright, who had taken a Spanish tartane (a one-masted vessel) with four petereroes for stone shot, and some long guns, we that came overland desired him to fit up his prize and make a man-of-war of her for us. This he did, and we sailed towards Blewfields River, where we careened our tartane.
While we lay here our Mosquito men went in their canoe and struck some sea-cow. This creature is about the bigness of a horse, and ten or twelve feet long. The mouth of it is much like the mouth of a cow, having great thick lips. The eyes are no bigger than a small pea; the ears are only two small holes on the side of the head; the neck is short and thick, bigger than the head. The biggest part of this creature is at the shoulders, where it has two large fins, one at each side of its belly.
A calf that sucks is the most delicate meat; privateers commonly roast them. The skin of the manatee is of great use to privateers, for they cut them out into straps, which they make fast on the sides of their canoes, through which they put their oars in rowing, instead of pegs. The skin of the bull, or of the back of the cow, they cut into horsewhips, twisted when green, and then hung to dry.
The Mosquitoes, two in a canoe, have a staff about eight feet long, almost as big as a man's arm at the great end, where there is a hole to place the harpoon in. At the other end is a piece of light wood, with a hole in it, through which the small end of the staff comes; and on this piece of bob-wood there is a line of ten or twelve fathoms wound neatly about, the end of the line made fast to it. The other end of the line is made fast to the harpoon, and the Mosquito man keeps about a fathom of it loose in his hand.
When he strikes, the harpoon presently comes out of the staff, and as the manatee swims away the line runs off from the bob; and although at first both staff and bob may be carried under water, yet as the line runs off it will rise again. When the creature's strength is spent they haul it up to the canoe's side, knock it on the head, and tow it ashore.
When we had passed by Cartagena we descried a sail off at sea and chased her. Captain Wright, who sailed best, came up with her and engaged her; then Captain Yanky, and they took her before we came up. We lost two or three men, and had seven or eight wounded. The prize was a ship of twelve guns and forty men, who had all good small arms; she was laden with sugar and tobacco, and had eight or ten tons of marmalade on board. We went to the Isle of Aves, where the Count d'Estrees's whole squadron, sent to take Curacoa for the French, had been wrecked. Coming in from the eastward, the count fell in on the back of the reef, and fired guns to give warning to the rest. But they, supposing their admiral was engaged with enemies, crowded all sail and ran ashore after him, for his light in the maintop was an unhappy beacon. The men had time enough to get ashore, yet many perished. There were about forty Frenchmen on board one of the ships, where there was good store of liquor. The afterpart of her broke away and floated off to sea, with all the men drinking and singing, who, being in drink, did not mind the danger, but were never heard of afterwards.
Captain Payne, commander of a privateer of six guns, had a pleasant accident at this island. He came hither to careen, therefore hauled into the harbour and unrigged his ship. A Dutch ship of twenty guns seeing a ship in the harbour, and knowing her to be a French privateer, came within a mile of her, intending to warp in and take her next day, for it is very narrow going in. Captain Payne got ashore, and did in a manner conclude he must be taken; but spied a Dutch sloop turning to get into the road, and saw her, at the evening, anchor at the west end of the island. In the night he sent two canoes aboard the sloop, took her, and went away in her, making a good reprisal, and leaving his own empty ship to the Dutchman.
While we lay on the Caracas coast we went ashore in some of the bays, and took seven or eight tons of cacao; and after that three barques, one laden with hides, the second with European commodities, the third with earthenware and brandy. With these three barques we went to the island of Roques, where we shared our commodities. Twenty of us took one of the vessels, and our share of the goods, and went directly for Virginia, where we arrived in July 1682.
III.—On Robinson Crusoe's Island
I now enter upon the relation of a new voyage, proceeding from Virginia by the way of Tierra del Fuego and the South Seas, the East Indies, and so on, till my return to England by way of the Cape of Good Hope. On August 23, 1683, we sailed from Achamack (Accomack), in Virginia, under the command of Captain Cook. On February 6 we fell in with the Straits of Le Maire, and on February 14, being in latitude 57 deg., and to the west of Cape Horn, we had a violent storm, which held us till March 3—thick weather all the time, with small, drizzling rain. The nineteenth day we saw a ship, and lay muzzled to let her come up with us, for we supposed her to be a Spanish ship. This proved to be one Captain Eaton, from London. Both being bound for Juan Fernandez's Isle, we kept company, and we spared him bread and beef, and he spared us water.
On March 22, 1684, we came in sight of the island, and the next day got in and anchored. We presently went ashore to seek for a Mosquito Indian whom we left here when we were chased hence by three Spanish ships in the year 1681, a little before we went to Africa. This Indian lived here alone above three years. He was in the woods hunting for goats when Captain Watling drew off his men, and the ship was under sail before he came back to shore.
He had with him his gun and a knife, with a small horn of powder and a few shot. These being spent, he contrived a way, by notching his knife, to saw the barrel of his gun into small pieces, wherewith he made harpoons, lances, hooks, and a long knife; heating the pieces first in the fire, which he struck with his gun-flint, and a piece of the barrel of his gun, which he hardened, having learnt to do that among the English. The hot pieces of iron he would hammer out and bend as he pleased with stones, and saw them with his jagged knife, or grind them to an edge by long labour, and harden them to a good temper as there was occasion. With such instruments as he made in that manner he got such provision as the island afforded, either goats or fish. He told us that at first he was forced to eat seal, which is very ordinary meat, before he had made hooks; but afterwards he never killed any seals but to make lines, cutting their skins into thongs.
He had, half a mile from the sea, a little house or hut, which was lined with goatskin. His couch, or barbecue of sticks, lying along about two feet distant from the ground, was spread with the same, as was all his bedding. He had no clothes left, having worn out all those he brought from Watling's ship, but only a skin about his waist. He saw our ship the day before we came to an anchor, and did believe we were English, and therefore killed three goats in the morning before we came to anchor, and dressed them with cabbage to treat us when we came ashore.
This island is about twelve leagues round, full of high hills and small, pleasant valleys, which, if manured, would probably produce anything proper for the climate. The sides of the mountains are part woodland and part savannahs, well stocked with wild goats descended from those left here by Juan Fernandez in his voyage from Lima to Valdivia. Seals swarm as thick about this island as though they had no other place to live in, for there is not a bay nor rock that one can get ashore on but is full of them. They are as big as calves, the head of them like a dog, therefore called by the Dutch sea-hounds. Here are always thousands—I might say millions—of them sitting on the bays, or going and coming in the sea round the island. When they come out of the sea they bleat like sheep for their young, and though they pass through hundreds of other young ones before they come to their own, yet they will not suffer any of them to suck. A blow on the nose soon kills them. Large ships might here load themselves with sealskins and train-oil, for they are extraordinary fat.
Our passage lay now along the Pacific Sea. We made the best of our way towards the line, and fell in with the mainland of South America. The land is of a most prodigious height. It lies generally in ridges parallel to the shore, three or four ridges one within another, each surpassing the other in height. They always appear blue when seen at sea; sometimes they are obscured with clouds, but not so often as the high lands in other parts of the world—for there are seldom or never any rains on these hills, nor are they subject to fogs. These are the highest mountains that ever I saw, far surpassing the peak of Teneriffe, or Santa Marta, and, I believe, any mountains in the world.
IV.—More Buccaneering Exploits
On May 3 we descried a sail. Captain Eaton, being ahead, soon took her; she was laden with timber. Near the island of Lobos we chased and caught three sail, all laden with flour. In the biggest was a letter from the viceroy of Lima to the president of Panama, assuring him there were enemies in that sea, for which reason he had despatched this flour, and desiring him to be frugal of it, for he knew not when he should send more. In this ship were likewise seven or eight tons of marmalade of quinces, and a stately mule sent to the president, and a very large image of the Virgin Mary in wood, carved and painted, to adorn a new church at Panama. She brought also from Lima 800,000 pieces of eight to carry with her to Panama; but while she lay at Huanchaco, taking in her lading of flour, the merchants, hearing of Captain Swan's being at Valdivia ordered the money ashore again.
On September 20 we came to the island of Plata, so named, as some report, after Sir Francis Drake took the Cacafuego—a ship chiefly laden with plate, which they say he brought hither and divided with his men. Near it we took an Indian village called Manta, but found no sort of provision, the viceroy having sent orders to all seaports to keep none, but just to supply themselves. At La Plata arrived Captain Swan, in the Cygnet, of London. He was fitted out by very eminent merchants of that city on a design only to trade with Spaniards or Indians; but, meeting with divers disappointments, and being out of hopes to obtain a trade in these seas, his men forced him to entertain a company of privateers, who had come overland under the command of Captain Peter Harris. Captains Davis and Swan sent our small barque to look for Captain Eaton, the isle of Plata to be the general rendezvous; and on November 2 we landed 110 men to take the small Spanish seaport town of Payta. The governor of Piura had come the night before to Payta with a hundred armed men to oppose our landing, but our men marched directly to the fort and took it without the loss of one man, whereupon the governor of Piura, with all his men, and the inhabitants of the town, ran away as fast as they could. Then our men entered the town, and found it emptied both of money and goods. There was not so much as a meal of victuals left for them. We anchored before the town, and stayed till the sixth day in hopes to get a ransom. Our captains demanded 300 packs of flour, 300 lb. of sugar, twenty-five jars of wine, and a thousand jars of water, but we got nothing of it. Therefore Captain Swan ordered the town to be fired.
Once in three years the Spanish Armada comes to Porto Bello, then the Plate Fleet also from Lima comes hither with the king's treasure, and abundance of merchant ships, full of goods and plate. With other privateers we formed the plan, in 1685, of attacking the Armada and capturing the treasure. On May 28 we saw the Spanish fleet three leagues from the island of Pacheque—in all fourteen sail, besides periagoes. Our fleet consisted of but ten sail. Yet we were not discouraged, but resolved to fight them, for being to windward, we had it in our choice whether we would fight or not. We bore down right afore the wind upon our enemies, but night came on without anything besides the exchanging of a few shot. When it grew dark the Spanish admiral put out a light as a signal to his fleet to anchor. We saw the light in the admiral's top about half an hour, and then it was taken down. In a short time after we saw the light again, and being to windward, we kept under sail, supposing the light to have been in the admiral's top.
But, as it proved, this was only a stratagem of theirs, for this light was put out a second time at one of their barques' topmast head, and then she went to leeward, which deceived us. In the morning, therefore, contrary to our expectations, we found they had got the weather-gauge of us, and were coming upon us with full sail. So we ran for it, and after a running fight all day, were glad to escape. Thus ended this day's work, and with it all that we had been projecting for four or five months.
The town of Puebla Nueva was taken with 150 men, and in July, being 640 men in eight sail of ships, we designed to attempt the city of Leon. We landed 470 men to march to the town, and I was left to guard the canoes till their return. With eighty men Captain Townley entered the town, and was briskly charged in a broad street by 170 or 200 Spanish horsemen; but two or three of their leaders being knocked down, the rest fled. The Spaniards talked of ransom, but only to gain time to get more men. Our captains therefore set the city on fire, and came away.
V.—Home by the East Indies
Afterwards we steered for the coast of California, and some of us taking the resolution of going over to the East Indies, we set out from Cape Corrientes on March 31, 1686. We were two ships in company, Captain Swan's ship, and a barque commanded under Captain Swan by Captain Tait, and we were 150 men—100 aboard of the ship, and 50 aboard the barque, besides slaves. It was very strange that in all the voyage to Guam, in the Ladrones, we did not see one fish, not so much as a flying fish.
From Guam we went to Mindanao in the Philippines. About this time some of our men, who were weary and tired with wandering, ran away into the country. The whole crew were under a general disaffection, and full of different projects, and all for want of action. One day that Captain Swan was ashore, a Bristol man named John Reed peeped into his journal and lighted on a place where Captain Swan had inveighed bitterly against most of his men. Captain Tait, who had been abused by Captain Swan, laid hold of this opportunity to be revenged. So we left Captain Swan and about thirty-six men ashore in the city, and sailed from Mindanao. Among the Pescadores we had a storm in which the violent wind raised the sea to a great height; the rain poured down as through a sieve; it thundered and lightened prodigiously, and the sea seemed all of a fire about us. I was never in such a violent storm in all my life; so said all the company. Afterwards we came to Grafton and Monmouth islands, the island of Celebes, and others.
Being clear of all the islands, we stood off south, and on January 4, 1688, we fell in with the land of New Holland, a part of Terra Australis Incognita. It is not yet determined whether it is an island or a main continent, but I am certain that it does not join Asia, Africa, or America.
We sailed from New Holland to Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands, where, being anxious to escape from the ship, I desired Captain Reed to set me ashore. Mr. Robert Hall, and a man named Ambrose, whose surname I have forgot, were put ashore with me. From the Nicobar people we bought for an axe a canoe, in which we stowed our chests and clothes, and in this frail craft we three Englishmen, with four Malays and a mongrel Portuguese, made our way to Achin. The hardships of this voyage, with the scorching heat of the sun at our first setting out, and then the cold rain in a fearful storm, cast us all into fevers. Three days after our arrival our Portuguese died. What became of our Malays I know not. Ambrose lived not long after.
In January, 1691, there came to an anchor in Bencouli Road the Defence, Captain Heath commander, bound for England. On this ship I obtained a passage to England, where we arrived on September 16, 1691.
The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle
I.—To the South American Coast
The "Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World" was Darwin's first popular contribution to travel and science. His original journal of the part he took in the expedition, as naturalist of the surveying ships Adventure and Beagle, was published, together with the official narratives of Captains Fitzroy and King, a year after the return of the latter vessel to England in October, 1836. It was not till 1845 that Darwin issued his independent book, of which the following is an epitome, written from the notes in his journal. It immediately attracted considerable popular and scientific attention, and many editions and cheap reprints have been issued during the past half century. It is said that Darwin at first considered himself more as a collector than as a scientific worker; but experience soon brought to him the keen enjoyment of the original investigator. The most striking feature of the book is the combined minuteness and breadth of his observations and descriptions. There can be no doubt that it was the gathered results of his discoveries, and the study of his collected specimens of the zoology, botany, and geology of the countries visited; his graphic presentation of their physical geography; and their synthetic analysis, which laid the foundations of his great generalisations of the "Origin of Species." (See SCIENCE.)
After having been twice driven back by heavy south-west gales, H.M.S. Beagle, a ten-gun brig, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., sailed from Devonport on December 27, 1831. The object of the expedition was to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King in 1826-30; to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and of some of the islands in the Pacific; and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world.
On January 16, 1832, we touched at Porto Praya, St. Jago, in the Cape de Verde archipelago, and sailed thence to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Delight is a weak term to express the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion which fill the mind of a naturalist in wandering through the Brazilian tropical forest. The noise from the insects is so loud that it may be heard at sea several hundred yards from the shore, yet within the recesses of the forest a universal silence seems to reign. The wonderful and beautiful flowering parasites invariably struck me as the most novel object in these grand scenes. Among the cabbage-palms, waving their elegant heads fifty feet from the ground, were woody creepers, two feet in circumference, themselves covered by other creepers.
The humming birds are fond of shady spots, and these little creatures, with their brilliant plumage, buzzing round the flowers with wings vibrating so rapidly as scarcely to be visible, seek the tiny insects in the calyx rather than the fabled honey. Insects are particularly numerous, the bees excepted. The Beagle was employed surveying the extreme southern and eastern coasts of America south of the Plata during the two succeeding years. The almost entire absence of trees in the pampas of Uruguay, the provinces of Buenos Ayres [now Argentina], and Patagonia is remarkable.
Fifteen miles from the Rio Negro, the principal river on the whole line of coast between the Strait of Magellan and the Plata, are several shallow lakes of brine in winter, which in summer are converted into fields of snow-white salt two and a half miles long and one broad. The border of the lakes is formed of mud, which is thrown up by a kind of worm. How surprising it is that any creature should be able to exist in brine, and that they should be crawling among crystals of sulphate of soda and lime!
The valley of the Rio Negro, broad as it is, has merely been excavated out of the sandstone plain; and everywhere the landscape wears the same sterile aspect.
II.—Fossil Monsters of the Pampas
The pampas are formed from the mud, gravel, and sand thrown up by the sea during the slow elevation of the land; and the section disclosed at Punta Alta, a few miles from Bahia Blanca, was interesting from the number and extraordinary character of the remains of gigantic land animals embedded in it. I also found remains of immense armadillo-like animals on the banks of a tributary of the Rio Negro; and, indeed, I believe that the whole area of the pampas is one wide sepulchre of these extinct colossal quadrupeds. The following, which I unearthed, are now deposited in the College of Surgeons, London.
(1) Head and bones of a megatherium, the huge dimensions of which are expressed by its name; (2) the megalonyx, a great allied animal; (3) the perfect skeleton of a scelidorium, also an allied animal, as large as a rhinoceros, in structure like the Cape ant-eater, but in some other respects approaching the armadilloes; (4) the mylodon Darwinii, a closely related genus, and little inferior in size; (5) another gigantic dental quadruped; (6) another large animal very like an armadillo; (7) an extinct kind of horse (it is a marvellous fact in the history of the mammalia that, in South America, a native horse should have lived and disappeared, to be succeeded in after ages by the countless herds descended from the few introduced with the Spanish colonists); (8) a pachydermatous animal, a huge beast with a long neck like a camel; (9) the toxodon, perhaps the strangest animal ever discovered; in size it equalled an elephant, or megatherium, but was intimately related to the Gnawers, the order which at the present day includes most of the smallest quadrupeds; and judging from the position of the eyes, ears, and nostrils, it was probably aquatic.
We have good evidence that these gigantic quadrupeds, more different from those of the present day than the oldest of the Tertiary quadrupeds of Europe, lived whilst the sea was peopled with most of its present inhabitants. These animals migrated on land, since submerged, near Behring's Strait, from Siberia into North America, and thence on land, since submerged, in the West Indies into South America, where they mingled with the forms characteristic of that southern continent, and have since become extinct.
The existing animals of the pampas include the puma, the South American lion, while the birds are numerous. The largest is the ostrich, which is found in groups. The ostriches are fleet in pace, prefer running against the wind, and freely take to the water. At first start they expand their wings, and, like a vessel, make all sail. Of mammalia, the jaguar, or South American tiger, is the most formidable. It frequents the wooded and reedy banks of the great rivers. There are four species of armadilloes, notable for their smooth, hard, defensive covering. Of reptiles there are many kinds. One snake, a trigonocephalus, has in some respects the structure of a viper with the habits of a rattlesnake. The expression of this snake's face is hideous and fierce. I do not think I ever saw anything more ugly, excepting, perhaps, some of the viper-bats.
III.—In the Extreme South
From the Rio Plata the course of the Beagle was directed to the mouth of the Santa Cruz river, on the coast of Patagonia. One evening, when we were about ten miles from the bay of San Blas, vast numbers of butterflies, in bands and flocks of countless myriads, extended as far as the eye could range. One dark night, with a fresh breeze, the foam and every part of the surface of the waves glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phosphorus, and in her wake she was followed by a milky train. I am inclined to consider that the phosphorescence is the result of organic particles, by which process (one is tempted almost to call it a kind of respiration) the ocean becomes purified.
The geology of Patagonia is interesting. For hundreds of miles of coast there is one great deposit composed of shells—a white pumiceous stone like chalk, including gypsum and infusoria. At Port St. Julian it is eight hundred feet thick, and is capped by a mass of gravel forming probably one of the largest beds of shingle in the world, extending to the foot of the Cordilleras. For 1,200 miles from the Rio Plata to Tierra del Fuego the land has been raised by many hundred feet, and the uprising movement has been interrupted by at least eight long periods of rest, during which the sea ate deep back into the land, forming at successive levels the long lines of cliffs, or escarpments, which separate the different plains as they rise like steps one behind the other. What a history of geological change does the simply constructed coast of Patagonia reveal! In some red mud, capping the gravel, I discovered fossil bones which showed the wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living, and will, I have no doubt, hereafter throw more light on the appearance of organic beings on our earth and their disappearance from it than any other class of facts. Patagonia is sterile, but is possessed of a greater stock of rodents than any other country in the world. The principal animals are the llamas, in herds up to 500, and the puma, which, with the condor and other carrion hawks, preys upon them.
From the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle twice made a compass of the Falkland Islands, and archipelago in nearly the same latitude. It is a delicate and wretched land, everywhere covered by a peaty soil and wiry grass of one monotonous colour. The only native quadruped is a large wolf-like fox, which will soon be as extinct as the dodo. The birds embrace enormous numbers of sea-fowl, especially geese and penguins. The wings of a great logger-headed duck called the "steamer" are too weak for flight; but, by their aid, partly by swimming, partly flapping, they move very quickly. Thus we found in South America three birds who use their wings for other purposes besides flight—the penguins as fins, the "steamers" as paddles, and the ostrich as sails.
Tierra del Fuego may be described as a mountainous land, separated from the South American continent by the Strait of Magellan, partly submerged in the sea, so that deep inlets and bays occupy the place where valleys should exist. The mountain-sides, except on the exposed western coasts, are covered from the water's edge upwards to the perpetual snow-line by one great forest, chiefly of beeches. Viewing the stunted natives on the west coast, one can hardly conceive that they are fellow-creatures and inhabitants of the same world; and I believe that in this extreme part of South America man exists in a lower state of improvement than in any other part of the globe. The zoology of Tierra del Fuego is very poor. In the gloomy woods there are few birds, but where flowers grow there are humming birds, a few parrots and insects, but no reptiles.
IV.—The Wonders of the Cordilleras
After encountering many adventures in these Antarctic seas, among which was a narrow escape from shipwreck in a fierce gale off Cape Horn, and amidst hitherto unexplored Antarctic islands, the Beagle set a course northward in the open Pacific for Valparaiso, the chief seaport of Chile, which was reached on July 23, 1834. Chile is a narrow strip of land between the Cordilleras and the Pacific, and this strip itself is traversed by many mountain lines which run parallel to the great range. Between these outer lines and the main Cordilleras a succession of level basins, generally opening into each other by narrow passages, extend far to the southward. These basins, no doubt, are the bottoms of ancient inlets and deep bays such as at the present day intersect every part of Tierra del Fuego.
From November, 1834, to March, 1835, the Beagle was employed in surveying the island of Chiloe and the broken line called the Chonos Archipelago. This archipelago is covered by one dense forest, resembling that of Tierra del Fuego, but incomparably more beautiful. There are few parts of the world within the temperate regions where so much rain falls. The winds are very boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded. Fortunately, for once, while we were on the east side of Chiloe the day rose splendidly clear, and we could see the great range of the Andes on the mainland with three active volcanoes, each 7,000 feet high.
While at Valdivia, on the mainland, on February 20, 1835, the worst earthquake ever recorded in Chile occurred, and it was followed for twelve days by no less than 300 tremblings. A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations; the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved beneath our feet like a thin crust over a fluid. One second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity which hours of reflection would not have produced. The most remarkable effect was the permanent elevation of the land round the Bay of Concepcion by several feet. The convulsion was more effectual in lessening the size of the island of Quiriquina off the coast than the ordinary wear and tear of the sea and weather during the course of a whole century; but on the other hand, on the Island of St. Maria putrid mussel-shells, still adhering to the rocks, were found ten feet above high-water mark. Near Juan Fernandez Island a volcano uprose from under the water close to the shore, and at the same instant two volcanoes in the far-off Cordilleras bust forth into action.
The space from which volcanic matter was actually erupted is 720 miles in one line and 400 miles in another line at right-angles from the first; hence, in all probability, a subterranean lake of lava is here stretched out of nearly double the area of the Black Sea. The frequent quakings of the earth on this line of coast are caused, I believe, by the rending of the strata, necessarily consequent on the tension of the land when upraised, and their injection by fluidified rock. This rending and injection would, if repeated often enough, form a chain of hills.
I made the passage of the Cordilleras to Mendoza, the capital of the republic of that name, on horseback. The features in the scenery of the Andes which struck me most were that all the main valleys have on both sides a fringe, sometimes expanding into a narrow plain of shingle and sand. I am convinced that these shingle terraces were accumulated during the gradual elevation of the Cordilleras by the torrents delivering at successive levels their detritus on the beach-heads of long, narrow arms of the sea, first high up the valleys, then lower down and lower down as the land slowly rose.
If this be so, and I cannot doubt it, the grand and broken chain of the Cordilleras, instead of having been suddenly thrown up—as was till lately the universal, and still is the common, opinion of geologists—has been slowly upheaved in mass in the same gradual manner as the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific have arisen within the recent period. The other striking features of the Cordilleras were the bright colours, chiefly red and purple, of the utterly bare and precipitous hills of porphyry; the grand and continuous wall-like dikes; the plainly divided strata, which, where nearly vertical, formed the picturesque and wild central pinnacles, but where less inclined composed the great massive mountains on the outskirts of the range; and lastly, the smooth, conical piles of fine and brightly-coloured detritus, which slope up sometimes to a height of more than 2,000 feet.
It is an old story, but not less wonderful, to see shells which were once crawling at the bottom of the sea now standing nearly 14,000 feet above its level. But there must have been a subsidence of several thousand feet as well as the ensuing elevation. Daily it is forced home on the mind of the geologist that nothing, not even the wind that blows, is so unstable as the level of the crust of the earth.
From Valparaiso to Coquimbo, and thence to Copiapo, in Northern Chile, the country is singularly broken and barren. On some of the terraced plains rising to the Cordilleras, covered with cacti, there were large herds of llamas. At one point in the coast range great prostrate silicified trunks of fir trees were very numerous, embedded in a conglomerate. I discovered convincing proof that this part of the continent of South America has been elevated near the coast from 400 feet to 1,300 feet since the epoch of existing shells; and further inland the rise possibly may have been greater. From the evidence of ruins of Indian villages at very great altitude, now absolutely barren, and some fossil human relics, man must have inhabited South America for an immensely long period.
From the port of Iquique, in Peru, a visit was made across the desert to the nitrate of soda mines. The nitrate stratum, between two and three feet thick, lies close to the surface, and follows for 150 miles the margin of the plain. From the troubled state of the country, I saw very little of the rest of Peru.
A month was spent in the Galapagos Archipelago—a group of volcanic islands situated on the Equator between 500 and 600 miles westward of the coast of America. The little archipelago is a little world within itself. Hence, both in time and space, we seemed to be brought somewhere near to that great fact, that mystery of mysteries, the first appearance of new beings on this earth. The vegetation is scanty. The principal animals are the giant tortoises, so large that it requires six or eight men to lift one. The most remarkable feature of the natural history of this archipelago is that the different islands are inhabited by different kinds of tortoises; and so with the birds, insects, and plants. One is astonished at the amount of creative force, if such an expression may be used, displayed on these small, barren, and rocky islands, and still more so at its diverse, yet analogous, action on points so near each other.
V.—The Coral Islands of the Indian Ocean
Having completed the survey of the coasts and islands of the South American continent, the Beagle sailed across the wide Pacific to Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia, in order to carry out the chain of chronometrical measurements round the world. From Australasia a run was then made for Keeling or Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean. This lonely island, 600 miles from the coast of Sumatra, is an atoll, or lagoon island. The land is entirely composed of fragments of coral.
There is, to my mind, much grandeur in the view of the outer shores of these lagoon islands. The ocean, throwing its waters over the broad barrier-like reef, appears an invincible, all-powerful enemy. Yet these low, insignificant coral islets stand and are victorious; for here another power, as an antagonist, takes part in the contest. Organic forces separate the atoms of carbonate of lime, one by one, from the foaming breakers, and unite them in a symmetrical structure. Let the hurricane tear up its thousand huge fragments, yet what will that tell against the accumulated labour of myriads of architects at work night and day, month after month?
There are three great classes of coral reefs—atoll, barrier, and fringing. Now, the utmost depth at which corals can construct reefs is between twenty and thirty fathoms, so that wherever there is an atoll a foundation must have originally existed within a depth of from twenty to thirty fathoms from the surface. The coral formation is raised only to that height to which the waves can throw up fragments and the winds pile up sand. The foundation, such as a mountain peak, therefore, must have sunk to the required level, and not have been raised, as has hitherto been generally supposed.
I venture, therefore, to affirm that, on the theory of the upward growth of the corals during the sinking of the land, all the leading features of those wonderful structures, the lagoon-islands or atolls, as well as the no less wonderful barrier-reefs, whether encircling small islands, or stretching for hundreds of miles along the shores of a continent, are simply explained. On the other hand, coasts merely fringed by reefs cannot have subsided to any perceptible amount, and therefore they must, since the growth of their corals, either have remained stationary or have been upheaved.
The chronometrical measurements were completed in the Indian Ocean by a visit to Mauritius, and thence, voyaging around the Cape of Good Hope, to the islands of St. Helena and Ascension, in the Southern Atlantic, and to the mainland of Brazil at Bahia and Pernambuco, from which the course was set for home. The Beagle made the shores of England at Falmouth on October 2, 1836, after an absence of nearly five years.
On a retrospect, among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, including the spectacles of the Southern Cross, the Cloud of Magellan, and the other constellations of the Southern Hemisphere, the glacier leading its blue stream of ice overhanging the sea in a bold precipice, the lagoon-islands raised by the reef-building corals, the active volcano, the overwhelming effects of a violent earthquake—none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man, whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of nature. No one can stand in those solitudes unmoved and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. And so with the boundless plains of Patagonia, or when looking from the highest crest of the Cordilleras, the mind is filled with the stupendous dimensions of the surrounding masses.
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
I.—From Paris to the Niger
Felix Dubois has a considerable reputation in France and on the European Continent generally as an African explorer. His sphere of travel has been confined to the Dark Continent north of the Equator. He first published in 1894 "Life on the Black Continent," but his reputation rests mainly on "Timbuctoo the Mysterious," issued in 1897, of which two English translations have appeared. Dubois' style is vivacious and picturesque, with a vein of poetic feeling in some passages. His "Early History of Northern Africa and Timbuctoo," of the architecture of which he has made a special study, is lucid; but in discussing the extension of the British and French spheres of influence and protectorates during the past century he betrays a certain measure of Gallic Anglophobia.
Having fallen asleep in a railway carriage on your departure from Paris, you awake six weeks later on a canoe-barge upon the Niger. The steamer lands you at the entrance to the Senegal, in a country which has belonged to France for centuries. The port of Senegal is Dakar, the finest harbour on the west coast of Africa, and from thence there is a railway to St. Louis. For eight days you travel up the Senegal river in a steamer to Kayes, the port and actual capital of the Sudan; and a narrow-gauge railway carries you from the Senegal to the Niger at Dioubaba.
This town is situated in the heart of lovely mountain and river scenery. The Bakoy river here breaks into a rocky waterfall, some hundreds of yards in length, full of rapids and foaming currents. The horizon is bordered by mountain-tops, and the river banks are covered by gigantic trees festooned with garlands of long creepers. The road from Dioubaba to Bammaku cuts, from east to west, the massive Foota Jallon range that separates the basin of the Senegal from that of the Niger, and is so abundantly watered that you fall asleep every night to the sound of some gurgling cascade.
It was not without a certain amount of emotion that I approached the great Niger. After days and days of travel a narrow path widens suddenly, and its rocky sides fall right and left, like the leaves of a door. A vast horizon lies at my feet, bathed in the splendours of a tropical sunset; and down there, in a plain of gold and green and red, shines a silver trail bordered by a line of darkness.
The Niger, with its vast and misty horizons, is more like an inland ocean than a river. I engaged for my voyage up-stream a boat which was a whimsical mixture of a European barge and an aboriginal canoe, in which a thatched hollow served me amidships as bedroom, dining-room, study, and dressing-room. A small folding bedstead was the only piece of furniture. The crew consisted of Bosos, the true sailors of the Niger, of whose skill, patient endurance, and loyalty I had full experience. Alone among them, travelling through an imperfectly conquered, sometimes openly hostile country, never once did I feel that my safety was in any way threatened.
Coming to Lake Debo, a fief of the Niger, we enter a sea of grass. Paddling being no longer possible, my Bosos crew, leaning heavily upon bamboo poles, push the boat vigorously through the grass, which, parting in front, closes together behind us with loud rustling and crackling. We are no longer upon the water, but seem to be sliding under a tropical sun over grassy steppes streaked with watery paths. These Bosos, living at a distance of nearly 900 miles from the coast, possess no idea of the sea, and the question of what becomes of the mighty Niger beyond the regions they know troubles them very little. One unusually intelligent Bosos, when asked what became of the river beyond the towns which he knew, or had heard of, down the Niger, said, "Beyond them? Oh, beyond them the fishes swallow it."
II.—The Valley of the Niger
The country lying to the south of Timbuctoo, which is on the threshold of the great Sahara desert, is the Sudan, otherwise called the Valley and the Buckler of the Niger. It is a vast region traversed to an extent of nearly 2,500 miles by one of the largest rivers in the world. This river rises in the Kouranko chain of mountains, and is really formed by two streams, the Paliko and the Tembi, which unite at a place called Laya. The more important of these is the Tembi, and the wood from which it springs is reputed sacred, and is the subject of innumerable legends and superstitions. Access to it is denied to the profane by the high priests and lesser priests, who represent the diety to mortals. The neighbouring kinglets refer to them before undertaking a war, or other act of importance, and the common herd consult them on all occasions of weight. The spirit of the spring, being eminently practical, will only condescend to attend to them through the medium of sacrifice, but the ceremonies are not very ferocious, merely oxen being offered, and not human victims, as in the neighbouring Dahomey.
The region of the source of the Niger is the land of heavy rainfall, and the slopes of the mountain ranges are channelled by innumerable cascades, rivulets, brooks, and rivers that carry off the heavenly overflow. These countries of the Upper Niger are radiant. Tropical vegetation spreads over them with the utmost prodigality. The river flings itself headlong over the entire low-lying region between Biafaraba and Timbuctoo, covering it and swamping it, until a steppe of barren sand becomes one of the most fertile spots in the universe. The Niger is to the Sudan what the Nile is to Egypt; but we find there not one delta, as in Egypt, but three. Thus a most complete system of irrigation is formed, and fertility is spread over thousands of square miles. The rise and fall of the waters is as regular as that of the Nile, and an infinitely greater distance is covered.
Bammaku is an important strategic centre, from which it is easy to send reinforcements to any part of the Sudan that may be momentarily threatened. This precaution is wise, for we do not really know how far we are masters of this splendid country, which is many times larger than France, and contains from ten to fifteen millions of people. There are only 600 Europeans, including officers and other officials, and 4,000 negroes are enrolled as foot-soldiers, cavalry, and transport bearers, while it requires an army of 40,000 men to maintain order in Algeria, about a fourth of the size of the Sudan.
Apart from the fertility of the soil for cereal crops, there are three kinds of trees which grow abundantly everywhere. The most interesting is the karita, or butter-tree, from the nuts of which a vegetable butter is extracted with all the delectable flavour of chocolate. Throughout the whole of the Sudan no other fatty substance is used. The second tree is the flour tree. The flour is enclosed in large pods, is of a yellow colour, rich in sugar, and is used in the manufacture of pastry and confectionery. The third is the cheese-tree, called baga by the natives, from the capsules of which a fine and brilliant vegetable silk is yielded. The principal articles of commerce sent by Bammaku to Timbuctoo are the products of these trees, gold, and kola-nuts.
In the voyage up the river beyond Bammaku we passed the districts in which the principal towns are Nyamina, Sansanding, and Segu, in which are the large cotton-fields, from the produce of which the beautiful fabrics known as pagnes de Segu are made, which are in great request in Senegal and the markets of Timbuctoo. Near Segu is an establishment known as the School of Hostages, instituted by the explorer Faidherbe for the education of the sons of kings and chiefs of Senegambia, to enable them to take part in home government, or to enter the civil and military services of Senegal and Sudan.
III.—The Jewel of the Niger Valley
Jenne is the jewel of the valley of the Niger. A vast plain, infinitely flat. In the midst of this a circle of water, and within it reared a long mass of high and regular walls, erected on mounds as high, and nearly as steep, as themselves. When I climbed the banks from my boat and entered the walls, I was completely bewildered by the novelty and strangeness of the town's interior. Regular streets; wide, straight roads; well-built houses of two stories instantly arrested the eye. But the buildings had nothing in common with Arabic architecture. The style was not Byzantine, Roman, or Greek; still less was it Gothic or Western. It was in the ruins of the lifeless towns of ancient Egypt, in the valley of the Nile, that I had witnessed this art before. Arrived at Jenne, the traveller finds himself face to face with an entirely new ethnographical entity—viz., the Songhois.
They themselves invariably told me that they came originally from the Yemen to Egypt on the invitation of a Pharaoh, and settled at Kokia, in the valley of the Nile, whence they spread westward to the Niger in the middle of the seventh century. They built Jenne in 765, made it the market of their country, and founded the Songhois Empire, which, under three distinct dynasties, lasted for a thousand years.
In the sixteenth century a marvellous civilisation appeared in the very heart of the Black Continent. The prosperity of the Sudan, and its wealth and commerce, were known far and wide. Caravans returning to the coast proclaimed its splendours in their camel-loads of gold, ivory, hides, musk, and the spoils of the ostrich. So many attractions did not fail to rouse the cupidity of neighbouring territories, chief among them being Morocco. El Mansour, sultan of Morocco, invaded the Sudan in 1590, and in a few years the fall of the Songhois Empire was complete. Two elements of confusion established themselves, and augmented the general anarchy—viz., the Touaregs and the Foulbes, the former coming from the great desert of Sahara, and the latter from the west. Both were pastoral nomads. A petty Foulbe chief, of the country of Noukouna, named Ahmadou, spread a report that he was of the family of the Prophet, and for the next eighty years the Sudan was given over to fire and sword by a succession of rulers who massacred and pillaged in the name of God. Jenne happily escaped serious ruin, because of its situation on an island at the junction of two tributaries of the Niger.
The houses of Jenne are built on the simple lines of Egyptian architecture, with splendid bricks made from clay procured near the town. The grand mosque was long famous in the valley of the Niger, and was considered more beautiful than the Kaabah of Mecca itself. It lasted eighteen centuries, and would have lasted many centuries longer if Ahmadou, the Foulbe conquerer, had not commanded its destruction in 1830. Jenne in the middle ages not only ranked above Timbuctoo as a city, but took a place among the great commercial centres of Islam. Jenne taught the Sudanese the art of commercial navigation, and her fleets penetrated beyond Timbuctoo and the Kong country. Regular lines of flyboats even now carry merchandise and passengers at a fixed tariff, and for a consideration of two and a half francs you can go to Timbuctoo, a twenty days' journey, and for three francs can send thither a hundredweight of goods. The characteristics of the people are sympathy, kindness, and generosity.
Here trades are specialised. Conformably with, and contrary to, Arab usage, it is the men who weave the textiles, and not the women. The latter do the spinning and the dyeing. Masonry is man's work—in negro countries it is the women who build the houses—and in the blacksmith's and other trades the craft descends from father to son.
IV.—Timbuctoo, Queen of the Sudan
The day of my departure from Jenne was occupied in receiving farewell visits from scores of friends, who first believed me a harmless lunatic as "the man with the questions," and then received me with affection. From Jenne to Timbuctoo we journeyed by boat for 311 miles in a labyrinth of meandering tributaries, creeks, and channels along the course of the Niger, and reached at last the Pool of Dai, whose waters appear under the walls of Timbuctoo itself; and then, a few miles further on, we arrived at Kabara, the landing-place and port of Timbuctoo.
Two things arrest attention on disembarking—the sand and the Touaregs. The sand, because you have no sooner set your foot on shore than you flounder about in it as if it were a mire; and it pursues you everywhere—in the country, in the streets, and in the houses. The Touaregs are impressed on you because, though you never see them, everything recalls them. The town is in ruins, but its wretchedness is overpowered by life and movement. The quays are astir with lively bustle, and encumbered with bales, jars, and sacks in the process of unloading. To travel from Kabara to Timbuctoo, only five miles distant, there is a daily convoy—medley of people, donkeys and camels, attended by twenty tirailleurs with rifles on their shoulders.
An immense and vivid sky, and an immense and brilliant stretch of land, with the grand outlines of a town uniting the two. A dark silhouette, large and long, an image of grandness in immensity—thus appeared the Queen of the Sudan. She is indeed the city of imagination, the Timbuctoo of legends. Her sandy approaches are strewn with bones and carcasses that have been disinterred by wild beasts, the remains of the camels and other animals that have fallen and died in the last stages of the journey.
The illusion of walls, produced by the distinctness with which the town stands out from the white sand, disappears, and three towers at regular intervals dominate the mass. The terraces of square houses are now distinguishable, renewing the first impression of grandeur in immensity. We enter the town, and behold! all the grandeur has suddenly disappeared, though the scene is equally impressive on account of its tragic character rather than its beauty. And this is the great Timbuctoo, the metropolis of the Sudan and the Sahara, with its boasted wealth and commerce! This is Timbuctoo the holy, the learned, that life of the Niger, of which it was written, "We shall one day correct the texts of our Greek and Latin classics by the manuscripts which are preserved there." These ruins, this rubbish, this wreck of a town, is this the secret of Timbuctoo the Mysterious? It is a city of deliquescence.
Jenne had the vein of Egyptian civilisation; the origin of Timbuctoo has to be sought in a different direction, for her past is connected with the Arabian civilisation of Northern Africa—the world of the Berbers and all those white people whom we have known under the name of Touaregs in the Sahara, Kabyles in Algeria, Moors in Morocco and Senegal, and Foulbes in their infiltrations into the Sudan, who had been crowded back into the interior by the invasions of Phoenician and Roman colonists. So also, when the Moors were driven out of Spain back to Morocco, to find their ancient patrimony in the hands of Arabs, they were forced to prolong their exodus into the south, and became nomads about the great lakes on the left bank of the Niger, in the neighbourhood of Oualata and Timbuctoo, carrying with them the name of Andalusians, which they bear to the present day.
Touareg is a generic name for a large number of tribes descended from the Berbers. Being driven into the desert, to the terrible glare of which they were not accustomed, nor their lungs to its sandstorms, they adopted the head-dress of two veils. Being perpetually kept on the march, every social and political organisation disappeared, and they gradually lost all notion of law and order. Like the Jews, and all other people thrown out of their natural paths, their souls and brains became steeped in vice. Their nomadic life reduced them to the level of vagabonds, thieves, and brigands, and the only law they recognised was the right of the strongest. Travellers and merchants were their principal victims, and when these failed, they robbed and killed each other.
They adopted a vague form of Islamism which they reduced to a belief in talismans, and the Sudanese bestowed upon them three epithets which epitomise their psychology—"Thieves, Hyenas, and the Abandoned of God." Yet it was to these people that Timbuctoo owed its origin, for it was there that they established a permanent camp. It was under the dominion of Askia the Great, who drove the Touaregs out of the city, that Timbuctoo became the great and learned city whose fame spread even to Europe, and its apogee was reached in 1494-1591.
The decadence of the city began with the Moorish conquest in the latter year, and it became the scene of repeated incursions by various tribes—Touaregs, Foulbes, Roumas. Under the hands of a thousand tyrants the inhabitants were robbed, ill-treated, and killed on the least provocation. To avoid being pillaged in the open street, and seeing their houses despoiled, they adopted a new manner of living. They transformed their garments and dwellings, and ceasing to be Timbuctoo the Great, they became Timbuctoo the Mysterious. By these means the town acquired a tumble-down and battered appearance. Timbuctoo is the meeting place, says an old Sudanese chronicle, of all who travel by camel or canoe. The camel represents the commerce of Sahara and the whole of Northern Africa, while the canoe represents the trade of the Sudan and Nigeria.
A great part of the trade is in rock-salt, derived from the mines of Taoudenni, near Timbuctoo. Large caravans from Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli, numbering from 600 to 1,000 camels, and from three to five hundred men, arrive from December to January, and from July to August. Their freight represents from six hundred thousand to a million francs' worth of goods. Smaller caravans of sixty or a hundred camels arrive all the year round, and between fifty and sixty thousand camels encamp annually in the caravan suburb before the northern walls of the city. The city is simply a temporary depot, and the permanent population are merely brokers and contractors, or landlords of houses which are let to travelling merchants. The chief manufacturing industry of the city is exquisite embroidered robes, which cost from three to four thousand francs each, and are principally exported to Morocco.
An ancient Sudanese proverb says, "Salt comes from the north, gold from the south, and silver from the country of the white men, but the word of God and the treasures of wisdom are only to be found in Timbuctoo." It would be an exaggeration to put the university in the mosque of Sankore on a level with those of Egypt, Morocco, or Syria, but it was the great intellectual nucleus of the Sudan, and also one of the great scientific centres of Islam itself. Her collection of ancient manuscripts leaves us in no doubt upon the point. There is an entire class of the population devoted to the study of letters. They are called Marabuts, or Sheikhs, and from them doctors, priests, schoolmasters, and jurists are drawn.
V.—The Romance of the Modern Conquest
The prosperity of the French Sudan is so closely connected with that of its principal market that if the general anarchy had been prolonged in Timbuctoo all the sacrifices of human life and money France had made on her threshold would have remained sterile. The French Government decided that the sooner an end was put to the ruinous dominion of the Touaregs the better it would be. Up to the last moment England endeavoured to put her hand upon the commerce of Timbuctoo. Failing in her efforts from Tripoli and the Niger's mouth, she attempted to secure a footing by way of Morocco, and was installed towards 1890 at Cape Juby. It was then too late. French columns and posts had been slowly advanced by the Senegal route, and in 1893 Jenne was captured.
In the following year a flotilla of gunboats was dispatched while two columns of troops followed up to anticipate any concentration of nomad Touaregs, which might prevent the occupation of the Mysterious City. From the flotilla a detachment of nineteen men was landed. Of these only seven were Europeans, the remainder being Senegalese negroes. They had two machine guns with them, and, under the command of a naval lieutenant, Boiteux by name, they marched to the walls of Timbuctoo, and demanded that the rulers of the city should surrender it, and that they should sign a treaty of peace placing the country under the protectorate of France. The city was occupied, temporary fortlets were run up, and the nineteen mariners held them till January 10, 1894, when the first of the two of the French columns entered the town. Twenty-five days later the second column arrived.
The French occupation of Timbuctoo the Mysterious was complete, and Cape Juby was evacuated by England. Two large forts have now replaced the improvised fortifications, and their guns command every side of the town. Under their protection the inhabitants are reviving. The long nightmare of the Touaregs is being slowly dispelled. Houses are being repaired and rebuilt; the occupants leave their doors ajar, and resume their beautifully embroidered robes; and one can picture the city becoming a centre of European civilisation and science as it was formerly of Mussulman culture.
The Principall Navigations
I.—Of the Book and Why it was Made
Richard Hakluyt, born about 1552 in Herefordshire, England, was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, and became in 1590 rector of Wetheringsett, in Suffolk, where he compiled and arranged "The Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffikes, and Discoveries of the English Nation to the Remote Quarters of the Earth at any Time within the Compass of these 1600 Years." He grew to manhood in the midst of the most stirring period of travel and discovery that England has known. Under Elizabeth, English sailors and English travellers were penetrating beyond the dim borders of the known world, and almost every returning ship brought back fresh news of strange lands. "Richard Hakluyt, Preacher," tells how his interest was attracted towards this subject of travel and exploration which he made his own. He published other records of travel, but it is through the "Principall Navigations" that his name has been perpetuated. Hakluyt died on November 23, 1616.