Great African Travellers, from Mungo Park to Livingstone and Stanley, by W.H.G. Kingston.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the coastal parts of Africa were of course well-known, and in any of the territories round the coasts there were European officials, such as consuls, and European traders. This becomes very apparent as you read this book, as many of the travels described involve sorties from an existing European base.
On the other hand the very sources of the various major rivers were not on the map, and the object of many of the travellers was to find these sources, for instance that of the Nile, or rather, that of any one of its major components, such as the Red Nile and the Blue Nile.
On the whole the various regions they passed through had already a settled African regime. In most cases this regime was friendly, but in some cases the opposite was the case. These explorations and travels could only take place if the native rulers could be brought to give assistance, and in most cases this was forthcoming. On the other hand some of the lesser-known early travellers were murdered, and the goods they travelled with, stolen. It is really only those travellers who were able to complete their self-imposed tasks, and return to Britain, that have become famous.
Written in an easy style, this book is a good read, and very worth the while of even today's teenagers. There are too many names to make an audiobook very easily, so we have not done so, and have no comments on that.
GREAT AFRICAN TRAVELLERS, FROM MUNGO PARK TO LIVINGSTONE AND STANLEY, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.
FROM MUNGO PARK TO LIVINGSTONE AND STANLEY.
INTRODUCTION—THE AFRICAN ASSOCIATION—LEDYARD—LUCAS—FIRST INFORMATION RESPECTING THE NIGER, OR QUORRA, AND THE GAMBIA—TIMBUCTOO HEARD OF— THOMPSON AND JOBSON'S VOYAGE UP THE GAMBIA—MAJOR HAUGHTON'S EXPEDITION AND DEATH.
When the fathers of the present generation were young men, and George the Third ruled the land, they imagined that the whole interior of Africa was one howling wilderness of burning sand, roamed over by brown tribes in the north and south, and by black tribes—if human beings there were—on either side of the equator, and along the west coast.
The maps then existing afforded them no information. Of the Mountains of the Moon they knew about as much as of the mountains in the moon. The Nile was not explored—its sources unknown—the course of the Niger was a mystery. They were aware that the elephant, rhinoceros, cameleopard, zebra, lion and many other strange beasts ranged over its sandy deserts; but very little more about them than the fact of their existence was known. They knew that on the north coast dwelt the descendants of the Greek and Roman colonists, and of their Arab conquerors—that there were such places as Tangiers, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers with its piratical cruisers who carried off white men into slavery; Morocco, with an emperor addicted to cutting off heads; Salee, which sent forth its rovers far over the ocean to plunder merchantmen; and a few other towns and forts, for the possession of which Europeans had occasionally knocked their heads together.
From the west coast they had heard that ivory and gold-dust was to be procured, as well as an abundant supply of negroes, whose happy lot it was to be carried off to cultivate the plantations of the West Indies and America; but, except that they worshipped fetishes, of their manners and customs, or at what distance from the coast they came, their ignorance was profound. They possibly were acquainted with the fact that the Portuguese had settlements at Loango, Angola, and Benguela; and that Hottentots and Kaffirs were to be found at the Cape, where a colony had been taken from the Dutch, but with that colony, except in the immediate neighbourhood of Cape Town, where ships to and from India touched, they were but slightly acquainted.
Eastward, if they troubled their heads about the matter, they had a notion that there was a terribly wild coast, inhabited by fierce savages, and northward, inside the big island of Madagascar, that the Portuguese had some settlements for slaving purposes; that further north again was Zanzibar, and that the mainland was without a town or spot where civilised man was to be found, till the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, at the mouth of the Red Sea, was reached. That there, towards the interior, was the wonderful country of Abyssinia, in which the Queen of Sheba once ruled, and Nubia, the birthplace from time immemorial of black slaves, and that, flowing northward, the mysterious Nile made its way down numerous cataracts, fertilising the land of Egypt on its annual overflows, till, passing the great city of Cairo, it entered the Mediterranean by its numberless mouths.
About Egypt, to be sure, more was known than of all the rest of the continent together—that there were pyramids and ruined cities, colossal statues, temples and tombs, crocodiles and hippopotami in the waters of the sacred river, and Christian Copts and dark-skinned Mahommedans dwelling on its banks. But few had explored the mighty remains of its past glory, or made their way either to the summits or into the interiors of its mountain-like edifices.
Those who had read Herodotus believed in a good many wonders which that not incredulous historian narrates. The late discoveries of Livingstone, however, prove that Herodotus had obtained a more correct account of the sources of the Nile than has hitherto been supposed. Indeed, free range was allowed to the wildest imagination, and the most extravagant stories found ready believers, there being no one with authority to contradict them.
When, however, Bruce and other travellers made their way further than any civilised man had before penetrated into the interior of the continent, their accounts were discredited, and people were disappointed when they were told that many of their cherished notions had no foundation in truth; in fact, up to the commencement of the present century the greater part of Africa was a terra incognita, and only by slow and painful degrees, and during a comparatively late period, has a knowledge of some of its more important geographical features been obtained.
We will now set forth and accompany in succession the most noted of the various travellers who, pushing their way into that long unknown interior, bravely encountering its savage and treacherous tribes, its fever-giving climate, famine, hardships, dangers and difficulties of every description, have contributed to fill up some of the numerous blank places on the map. Although, by their showing, sand enough and to spare and vast rocky deserts are to be found, there are wide districts of the greatest fertility, possessed of many natural beauties—elevated and cool regions, where even the European can retain his health and strength and enjoy existence; lofty mountains, magnificent rivers and broad lakes, and many curious and interesting objects, not more wonderful, however, than those of other parts of the globe, while the inhabitants in every direction, though often savage and debased, differ in no material degree from the other descendants of Ham.
Although our fathers knew very little about Africa, their interest had been excited by the wonders it was supposed to contain, and they were anxious to obtain all possible information respecting it. This was, however, no easy matter, as most of the travellers who endeavoured to make their way into the interior had died in the attempt.
A society called the African Association, to which the Marquis of Hastings and Sir John Banks belonged, was at length formed to open up the mighty continent to British commerce and civilisation.
The first explorer they despatched was Ledyard, who as a sergeant of marines had sailed round the world with Captain Cook, and after living among the American Indians had pushed his way to the remotest parts of Asiatic Russia. If any man could succeed, it was thought he would.
He proceeded to Egypt, intending to make his way to Sennaar, and thence to traverse the entire breadth of the African continent; but, seized with an illness at Cairo, he died just as he was about to start with a caravan.
The next traveller engaged by the society was Mr Lucas, who, having been captured by a Salee rover, had been several years a slave in Morocco. He started from Tripoli, but was compelled by the disturbed state of the country to the south of that place to put back.
It should have been said that it had been long known that two mighty rivers flowed through the interior of Africa, one called the Gambia and the other the Niger, or Quorra; but whereabouts they rose, or the direction they took, or the nature of the country they traversed in their course, no exact information was possessed.
From Arab traders, also, accounts had been received of a vast city, situated near the banks of the Niger, far away across the desert, called Timbuctoo, said to possess palaces, temples and numberless public buildings, to be surrounded by lofty walls and glittering everywhere with gold and precious stones, to rival the ancient cities of Mexico and Peru in splendour and those of Asia in the amount of its population.
A century and a half before, two sea captains, Thompson and Jobson, sent out by a company for the purpose, had made their way some distance up the Gambia in boats, and early in the eighteenth century Captain Stibbs had gallantly sailed up the same river to a considerable distance, but, his native crew refusing to proceed, he was compelled to return without having gained much information.
As a wide sandy desert intervened between the shores of the Mediterranean and the centre of Africa, it was naturally supposed that the unknown region could be more easily reached from the west coast than over that barren district, and, soon after the return of Lucas, Major Haughton, a high-spirited, gallant officer who had lived some time in Morocco, volunteered to make his way along the bank of the Gambia eastward, under the belief that a journey by land was more likely to succeed than one by water. Some way up that river is the the town of Pisania, where an English factory had been established, and a few Europeans were settled, with a medical man, Dr Laidley. Leaving this place, he proceeded to Tisheet, a place in the Great Desert, hoping from thence to reach Timbuctoo; but, robbed by a Moorish chief, of everything he possessed, he wandered alone through the desert, till, exhausted by hunger and thirst, he sat down under a tree and died. The news of his fate was brought to Dr Laidley soon afterwards by some negroes.
These expeditions threw no light on the interior of the continent. A fresh volunteer, however, Mungo Park, then unknown to fame, was soon to commence those journeys which have immortalised his name, and which contributed so greatly to solve one of the chief African problems—the course of the Niger.
TRAVELS OF MUNGO PARK.
PARENTAGE—RETURNS FROM INDIA—SENT OUT BY THE AFRICAN ASSOCIATION— SAILS FOR AFRICA—ARRIVES AT PISANIA—STARTS WITH A COME EASTWARD—MUMBO JUMBO—ARRIVES AT KOOJAR—REACHES CAPITAL OF BONDOU—WELCOMED AT THE CAPITAL OF KAARTA BY KING DAISY—SEIZED AT THE TOWN OF DALLI BY MOORISH SOLDIERS, AND CARRIED CAPTIVE TO BENOWM—BARBAROUSLY TREATED BY ALI— TAKEN TO VISIT ALI'S WIFE FATIMA—SHE COMPASSIONATES HIM—ALMOST STARVED—DIFFICULTY OF OBTAINING WATER—HIS SERVANTS TAKEN FROM HIM—ALI ATTACKED BY DAISY—PARK AGAIN FALLS INTO ALI'S HANDS—RESOLVES TO ESCAPE.
Mungo Park, who long ranked as the chief of African travellers, was born on the 10th of September, 1771, at Fowlshiels, a farm occupied by his father on the banks of the Yarrow, not far from the town of Selkirk, in Scotland.
The elder Mr Park, also called Mungo, was a substantial yeoman of Ettrick Forest, and was distinguished for his unremitting attention to the education of his children, the greater number of whom he saw respectably settled in life. The young Mungo, after receiving with his brothers a course of education at home under a private tutor, was sent to the Grammar School at Selkirk, and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to Mr Thomas Anderson, a surgeon of that town. Hence he removed to the University of Edinburgh, and during his vacations made a tour with his brother-in-law, Mr Dickson, a distinguished botanist. On going to London he was introduced by his relative to Sir Joseph Banks, whose interest procured for him the appointment of assistant surgeon to the "Worcester," East Indiaman. Returning from India, he offered his services to the African Association, who, notwithstanding the failure of the first expeditions they had sent out, still determined to persevere in their efforts.
Possessed of unbounded courage and perseverance, he was admirably fitted for the task he undertook, and his offer was gladly accepted.
Having received his final instructions from the African Association, he sailed from Portsmouth on the 22nd of May, 1795, on board the "Endeavour," an African trader bound for the Gambia, where he arrived on the 21st of the following month.
His directions were to make his way to the Niger, by Bambook or any other route, to ascertain the course of that river, and to visit the principal towns in its neighbourhood, particularly Timbuctoo and Houssa, and afterwards to return by way of the Gambia or any other route he might deem advisable.
Houssa is not a city, as was then supposed, but a kingdom or province.
The vessel anchored on the 21st of June at Jillifree, where he landed and from thence proceeded up the Gambia to Pisania. The only white residents were Dr Laidley and two merchants of the name of Ainsley, with their numerous black domestics. It is in the dominions of the King of Yany, who afforded them protection.
Assisted by Dr Laidley, Park here set to work to learn the Mandingo tongue, and to collect information from certain black traders called Seedees. During his residence at Pisania he was confined for two months by a severe fever, from which he recovered under the constant care of his host.
A coffle, or caravan, being about to start for the interior of Africa, Park, having purchased a hardy and spirited horse and two asses, arranged to accompany it. He obtained also the services of Johnson, a negro who spoke both English and Mandingo. Dr Laidley also provided him with a negro boy named Demba, a sprightly youth who spoke, besides Mandingo, the language of a large tribe in the interior. His baggage consisted only of a small stock of provisions, beads, amber and tobacco, for the purchase of food on the road; a few changes of linen, an umbrella, pocket compass, magnetic compass and thermometer, with a fowling-piece, two pair of pistols and other small articles. Four Mahommedan blacks also offered their services as his attendants. They were going to travel on foot, driving their horses before them. These six attendants regarded him with great respect, and were taught to consider that their safe return to the countries of the Gambia would depend on his preservation.
Dr Laidley and the Mr Ainsleys accompanied him for the two first days, secretly believing that they should never see him again.
Taxes are demanded from travellers at every town, by the chiefs.
Madina was the first town of any size he reached. He was here received by King Jatta, a venerable old man, who had treated Major Haughton with great kindness. He was seated on a mat before his hut, a number of men and women ranged on either side, who were singing and clapping their hands. Park, saluting him respectfully, informed him of the purport of his visit. The king replied that he not only gave him leave to pass, but would offer up his prayers for his safety. He warned him, however, of the dangers he would encounter, observing that the people in the east differed greatly from those of his country, who were acquainted with white men and respected them.
The king having provided a guide, Park took his departure, reaching Konjowar the next night. Here, having purchased a sheep, he found Johnson and one of his negroes quarrelling about the horns. It appeals that these horns are highly valued as being easily converted into sheaths for keeping secure certain charms, called saphies. These saphies are sentences from the Koran, which the Mahommedan priests write on scraps of paper and sell to the natives, who believe that they possess extraordinary virtues. They indeed consider the art of writing as bordering on magic; and it is not in the doctrines of the Prophet, but in the arts of the magician that their confidence is placed.
On the 8th, entering Koloa, a considerable town, he observed hanging on a tree a masquerading habit, made of bark, which he was told belonged to Mumbo Jumbo, a sort of wood demon, held greatly in awe, especially by the female part of the community. This strange bugbear is common to all the Mandingo towns, and much employed by the pagan negroes in keeping their women in subjection. As the Kaffirs, or pagan Africans, are not restricted in the number of their wives, every one marries as many as he can conveniently maintain; and it frequently happens that the ladies disagree among themselves, their quarrels sometimes reaching to such a height that the authority of the husband can no longer preserve peace in his household,—in such cases the interposition of Mumbo Jumbo is called in and is always decisive. This strange minister of justice, who is supposed to be either the husband or some person instructed by him, disguised in the dress which has just been mentioned, and armed with the rod of public authority, announces his coming by loud and dismal screams in the woods near the town.
He begins the pantomime at the approach of night, and as soon as it is dark he enters the town and proceeds to the bentang, or public meeting-house, at which all the inhabitants immediately assemble. The women do not especially relish this exhibition; for, as the person in disguise is entirely unknown to them, every married female suspects that the visit may possibly be intended for her; but they dare not refuse to appear when summoned.
The ceremony commences with songs and dances, which continue till midnight, about which time Mumbo fixes on the offender. The unfortunate victim being thereupon immediately seized, is stripped naked, tied to a post, and receives a severe switching with Mumbo's rod, amidst the derisive shouts of the whole assembly, the rest of the women being the loudest in their exclamations against their unhappy sister. Daylight puts an end to the unmanly revel.
The desert was now to be passed, in which no water was to be procured. The caravan therefore travelled rapidly till they arrived at Koojar, the frontier town of Woolli, on the road to Bondou, from which it is separated by another intervening wilderness of two days' journey.
While crossing the desert, they came to a tree, adorned with scraps of cloth, probably at first hung up to inform other travellers that water was to be found near it; but the custom has been so sanctioned by time that nobody presumes to pass without hanging up something. Park followed the example and suspended a handsome piece of cloth on one of the boughs. Finding, however, a fire, which the negroes thought had been made by banditti, they pushed on to another watering-place, where, surrounded by their cattle, they lay down on the bare ground, out of gun-shot from the nearest bush, the negroes agreeing to keep watch by turns, to prevent surprise.
They soon after reached Koorkarany, a Mahommedan town, which contained a mosque, and was surrounded by a high wall. The maraboo, or priest, a black, showed Park a number of Arabic manuscripts, passages from which he read and explained in Mandingo.
Moving on at noon of the 21st of December, the traveller...
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His fellow-travellers considered it necessary to journey by night till they could reach a more hospitable part of the country. They accordingly started as soon as the people in the village had gone to sleep. The stillness of the air, the howling of the wild beasts and the deep solitude of the forest made the scene solemn and impressive. Not a word, except in a whisper, was uttered; and his companions pointed out to him the wolves and hyaenas, as they glided like shadows from one thicket to another.
The inhabitants of Bondou are called Foulahs. They are naturally of a mild and gentle disposition; but the uncharitable maxims of the Koran have made them less hospitable to strangers and more reserved in their behaviour than the Mandingoes.
Leaving Bondou, the caravan entered the kingdom of Kajaaga. The inhabitants, whose complexion is jet-black, are called Serrawoollies. The dooty, or chief man of Joag, the frontier town, though a rigid Mahommedan, treated Park very civilly; but while he was staying there a party of horseman, sent by the king, arrived to conduct him to Maana, his residence. When there, the king demanded enormous duties, and Park had to pay him the five drachms of gold which he had received from the King of Bondou, besides which his baggage was opened and everything of value taken. His companions now begged him to turn back, and Johnson declared it would be impossible to proceed without money. He had fortunately concealed some of his property; but they were afraid of purchasing provisions, lest the king should rob him of his few remaining effects. They therefore resolved to combat hunger during the day and wait for another opportunity of obtaining food.
While seated on the ground, with his servant-boy by his side, a poor woman came up with a basket on her head, and asked Park if he had had his dinner. The boy replied that the king's people had robbed him of all his money. On hearing this the good old woman, with a look of unaffected benevolence, took the basket from her head, and presented him with a few handfuls of ground nuts, walking away before he had time to thank her.
Leaving Joag in company with thirty persons and six loaded asses, he rode on cheerfully for some hours till the caravan reached a species of tree for which Johnson had frequently inquired. On seeing it he produced a white chicken which he had purchased at Joag, tied it by a leg to one of the branches, and then told his companions that they might safely proceed, as the journey would be prosperous.
This incident shows the power of superstition over the minds of negroes; for though this man had resided seven years in England, it was evident that he still retained the superstitions imbibed in his youth.
Koomakary was the birthplace of one of Park's companions from Pisania, a blacksmith, who had been attentive to him on the road. On approaching the place shouts were raised and muskets were fired. The meeting between the long-absent blacksmith and his relations was very tender. The younger ones having embraced him, his aged mother was led forth, leaning upon a staff. Every one made way for her as she stretched out her hands to bid her son welcome. Being totally blind, she stroked his arms, hands and face with great care, and seemed highly delighted that her ears once more could hear the music of his voice. "It was evident," observes Park, "that, whatever may be the difference between the negro and European, there is none in the genuine sympathies and characteristic feelings of our common nature."
The king, Dembo Sego, gave the traveller an audience, and appeared well-disposed towards him. An escort was also sent to conduct him to the frontiers of Kaarta.
The capital of that province was reached on the 12th of February, and as soon as he arrived a messenger came from the king, bidding him welcome, and a large hut was at once provided for his accommodation. The people, however crowded in till it was completely full; when the first visitors went, another took their place—in this way the hut being filled and emptied thirteen different times.
Park found the king, whose name was Daisy, surrounded by a number of attendants, the fighting men on his right-hand and the women and children on his left. A bank of earth, on which was spread a leopard-skin, formed the throne. Daisy seemed perfectly satisfied with the account the traveller gave of himself, but warned him of the dangers in his way on account of the war which was then raging, and advised him to return to Kason, there to remain till it was over. Wise as this advice was, the approaching hot months made it important for him to proceed, dreading as he did having to spend the rainy season in the interior of Africa.
Daisy presented him with food, and sent a party of horse men to conduct him to Jarra, while three of his sons, with about two hundred horsemen, undertook to accompany him part of the way.
He had evidence of the disturbed state of the country while staying at the next town he entered. A body of Moors approached the gates and carried off the cattle, and one of the horsemen was shot by a Moor. The wounded man was brought in, when, as he was borne along, his mother went before, clapping her hands and enumerating the good qualities of her son. The ball had passed through both his legs, and as he and his friends would not consent to have one of them amputated, he died the same night.
Going forward, on the 18th they passed through Simbug, the frontier village of Ludamar. It was from hence Major Haughton wrote his last letter, with a pencil, to Dr Laidley. After leaving the place, when endeavouring to make his way across the desert, he was murdered by some savage Mahommedans, who robbed him of everything he possessed.
At this time, while Daisy was employed in fortifying a strong position among the hills, his territory was overrun by his enemy, Mansong.
On the evening of the 5th of March Park reached the town of Dalli. Here the people crowded in so disagreeable a manner to see the white stranger, that his host proposed, in order to avoid them, going in the cool of the evening to a negro village called Samee, at a short distance off.
As he was now within two days' journey of the heathen kingdom of Goumba, he had no apprehensions from the Moors, and readily accepted the invitation. His landlord was proud of the honour of entertaining a white man, and Park spent the forenoon very pleasantly with these poor negroes, their gentleness of manner presenting a striking contrast to the rudeness and barbarity of the Moors.
While thus enjoying himself, greatly to his dismay a party of Moorish soldiers suddenly appeared in the place. They were sent, they said, by their chief, Ali, to convey the white stranger to his camp at Benowm. If he would come willingly it would be better for him, but come he must, as they had orders to convey him by force; because Fatima, Ali's wife, having heard much about Christians, was anxious to see one. Park, unable to resist, was compelled to accompany them. The journey occupied many days, during which both Park and his attendants suffered much from thirst.
On the evening of the 12th they came in sight of Benowm, which presented to the eye a number of dirty-looking tents scattered without order over a large space of ground. Among the tents appeared large herds of camels, cattle and goats. As soon as he was seen the people who were drawing water threw down their buckets and, rushing towards him, began to treat him with the greatest discourtesy; one pulled at his clothes, another took off his hat, while a third stopped him to examine his waistcoat buttons.
At length the king's tent was reached, where a number of men and women were assembled. Ali was seated on a black leather cushion, clipping a few hairs from his upper lip, a female attendant holding up a looking-glass before him.
He enquired whether the stranger could speak Arabic, and being answered in the negative he remained silent. The ladies, however, asked a thousand questions, inspected his apparel, searched his pockets, and obliged him to unbutton his waistcoat to display the whiteness of his skin.
In the evening the priests announced prayer. Before they departed his Moorish guide told him that Ali was about to present him with something to eat. On looking round he saw some boys bringing a wild hog, which they tied to one of the tent ropes, when Ali made signs to him to kill and dress it for supper. Though very hungry, he did not think it prudent to eat any part of an animal so much detested by the Moors, and therefore replied that he never touched such food. The hog was then untied, in the hopes that it would run at the stranger, the Moors believing that a great enmity subsists between hogs and Christians. In this, however, they were disappointed, for the animal no sooner regained his liberty than he began to attack indiscriminately every person who came in his way, and at last took shelter under the couch upon which the king was sitting.
Park was after this conducted to a hut, where he found another wild hog—tied there to a stick for the purpose of annoying him. It attracted a number of boys, who amused themselves by beating it with sticks, till they so irritated the animal that it ran and bit at every person within reach.
A number of people came in and made him take off his stockings to exhibit his feet, and then his jacket and waistcoat to show them how his clothes were put off and on.
Day after day he was treated in the same manner. He was also compelled to undertake various offices. First, he was told to shave the head of one of the young princes, but, unaccustomed to use a razor, he soon cut the boy's skin, on seeing which the king ordered him to desist.
On the 18th his black servant, Johnson, was brought in as as a prisoner before Ali by some Moors, who had also seized a bundle of his clothes left at Jarra. Of these Ali took possession, and Park was unable to obtain even a clean shirt or anything he required. The Moors next stripped him of his gold, his watch, the amber he had remaining and one of his pocket compasses. Fortunately he had hidden the other in the sand near his hut. This, with the clothes on his back, was the only thing Ali now left him.
Ali, on examining the compass, wished to know why the small needle always pointed to the Great Desert. Park, unwilling to inform him of the exact truth, replied that his mother lived far beyond the sands of the Sahara, and that while she was alive the piece of iron would always point that way and serve as a guide to conduct him to her. Ali, suspecting that there was something magical in it, was afraid of keeping so dangerous an instrument in his possession.
The Moors now held a council to determine what should be done with the stranger. Some proposed that he should be put to death, others that he should only lose his right-hand, and one of Ali's sons came to him in the evening and with much concern informed him that his uncle had persuaded his father to put out his eyes. Ali, however, replied that he would not do so until Fatima, the queen, who was at present in the north, had seen him.
In vain Park begged that he might be permitted to return to Jarra. Ali replied that he must wait till Fatima had seen him, and that then he should be at liberty to go, and that his horse should be restored to him.
So wearied out was he at last with all the insults he received that he felt ready to commit any act of desperation.
One day Ali sent to say that he must be in readiness to ride out with him, as he intended to show him to some of his women. They together visited the tents of four different ladies, at every one of which he was presented with a bowl of milk and water. They were all remarkably corpulent, which in that country is the highest mark of beauty. They were also very inquisitive, examining minutely his hair and skin, though affecting to consider him as a sort of inferior being to themselves, and pretending to shudder when they looked at the whiteness of his skin. Notwithstanding the attention shown him by these fat dames, his condition was not improved, and he was often left without even food or water, while suffering fearfully from the heat.
Ali at length moved his camp, and Park was sent forward under the escort of one of the king's sons. The new encampment was larger than that of Benowm, and situated in the midst of a thick wood, about two miles distant from a neighbouring town, called Bubaka. Here Park was introduced to queen Fatima by Ali. She seemed much pleased at his coming, shaking hands with him, even though Ali had told her that he was a Christian. She was a remarkably corpulent woman, with an Arab cast of countenance and long hair.
After asking a number of questions, with the answers to which she appeared interested, she became perfectly at her ease and presented her visitor with a bowl of milk. She was, indeed, the only person who treated Park kindly during his stay.
Both men and cattle suffered much from thirst, and though Ali had given him a skin for containing water, and Fatima once or twice presented him with a small supply, yet such was the barbarous disposition of the Moors, that when his boy attempted to fill his skin at the wells, he generally received a sound drubbing for his presumption. One night, having in vain attempted to obtain water, he resolved to try his fortune himself at the wells, which were about half a mile distant. About midnight he set out, and, guided by the lowing of the cattle, he reached the place. Here a number of Moors were drawing water, but he was driven by them from each well in succession. At last he reached one where there was only an old man and two boys. He earnestly besought the first to give him some water. The old man complied, and drew up a bucket; but no sooner did Park take hold of it than, recollecting that the stranger was a Christian, and fearing that his bucket might be polluted, he dashed the water into the trough, and told him to drink from thence. Though the trough was none of the largest, and three cows were already drinking in it, Park knelt down, and, thrusting his head between two of the cows, drank with intense pleasure till the water was nearly exhausted.
The rainy season was now approaching, when the Moors evacuate the country of the negroes and return to the skirts of the Great Desert.
Ali looked upon Park as a lawful prisoner, and though Fatima allowed him food and otherwise treated him kindly, she had as yet said nothing about his release.
Fortunately for him, Ali had resolved to send an expedition to Jarra, of two hundred Moorish horsemen, to attack Daisy. Park obtained permission to accompany them, and, through the influence of Fatima, he also received back his bundle of clothes and his horse.
On the 26th of May, accompanied by Johnson and his boy Demba, he set out with a number of Moors on horseback, Ali having gone on before. On his way Ali's chief slave came up and told Demba that Ali was to be his master in future; then, turning to Park, said, "The boy goes back to Bubaka, but you may take the old fool," meaning Johnson, "with you to Jarra." Park in vain pleaded for Demba, but the slave only answered that if he did not mount his horse he would send him back likewise. Poor Demba was not less affected than his master. Having shaken hands with the unfortunate boy, and assured him that he would do everything in his power to redeem him, Park saw him led off by three of Ali's slaves.
At Jarra he took up his lodgings in the house of an old acquaintance, Dayman, whom he requested to use his influence with Ali to redeem the boy, and promised him a bill on Dr Laidley for the value of two slaves the moment he brought him to Jarra.
Ali, however, considering the boy to be Park's principal interpreter, would not liberate him, fearing that he would be instrumental in conducting him to Bambarra.
Still Park was eager, if possible, to continue his journey, but Johnson refused to proceed further. At the same time he foresaw that he must soon fall a victim to the Moors if he remained where he was, and that if he went forward singly he must encounter great difficulties, both from the want of an interpreter and the means of purchasing food. On the other hand he was very unwilling to return to England without accomplishing his mission. He therefore determined to escape on the first opportunity at all risks. This arrived sooner than he expected.
On the 26th of June news was brought that Daisy had taken Simbug, and would be at Jarra the next day. Hearing this, the people began packing up their property and beating corn for their journey, and early in the morning nearly half had set off—the women and children crying, the men looking sullen and dejected.
Though Park was sure of being well treated could he make himself known to Daisy, yet as he might be mistaken for a Moor in the confusion, he thought it wisest to mount his horse with a large bag of corn before him, and to ride away with the rest of the townspeople.
He again fell in with his friend Dayman and Johnson. They pushed on two days' journey to the town of Queira.
While Park was out tending his horse in the fields on the 1st of July, Ali's chief slave and four Moors arrived at Queira, and Johnson, who suspected the object of their visit, sent two boys to overhear their conversation. From them he learned that the Moors had come to convey Park back to Bubaka. This was a terrible stroke to him, and, now convinced that Ali intended to detain him for ever in captivity, or perhaps to take his life, he determined at all risks to attempt making his escape. He communicated his design to Johnson, who, though he approved of it, showed no inclination to accompany him. Park therefore resolved to proceed by himself, and to trust to his own resources.
MUNGO PARK'S TRAVELS CONTINUED.
PARK ESCAPES AT NIGHT—PURSUED BY MOORS AND ROBBED—FEARFUL SUFFERING; FROM THIRST—FINDS WATER—KINDLY TREATED BY AN OLD WOMAN—WANDERINGS IN THE FOREST—REACHES BAMBARRA—ILL-TREATED—REACHES THE NIGER—ARRIVES AT SEGO, THE CAPITAL—THE KING REFUSES TO SEE HIM—SENT TO A DISTANT VILLAGE—ALMOST STARVING—A COMPASSIONATE WOMAN TAKES HIM INTO HER HOUSE AND FEEDS HIM—KING MANSONG ORDERS HIM TO QUIT THE COUNTRY—ENTERS SANSANDING ON THE NIGER—THE MOORS THREATEN HIM FOR BEING A CHRISTIAN— WRITES CHARMS FOR HIS HOST—PROCEEDS—FOLLOWED BY A LION—HIS HORSE FALLS SICK, AND, LEAVING THE ANIMAL, HE PROCEEDS ON FOOT—PROCEEDS DOWN THE NIGER TO MOORZAN—DETERMINES TO RETURN—FINDS HIS HORSE ALIVE—RAINY SEASON COMMENCES—AGAIN REACHES SANSANDING—INHOSPITABLY TREATED— REPULSED FROM NUMEROUS PLACES—SWIMS SEVERAL RIVERS—BETTER TREATED AS HE GETS WESTWARD—A NEGRO MERCHANT AT RAMMAKO RECEIVES HIM HOSPITABLY— SETS OFF WITH A SINGING MAN AS HIS GUIDE—CONDUCTED BY TWO SHEPHERDS— DESPOILED OF HIS CLOTHES AND HORSE BY ROBBERS—IN DANGER OF PERISHING— REACHES SIBIDOOLOO—MANSA, THE CHIEF MAN, RECOVERS HIS HORSE AND CLOTHES—SUFFERS FROM FEVER—PEOPLE STARVING—CONTINUES HIS JOURNEY— KINDLY TREATED AT KAMATIA BY A BUSHREEN—KAFA TAURA—STARTS WITH A SLAVE CARAVAN—ATTACKED BY BEES—DEATH OF A SLAVE—SUFFERINGS OF SLAVES— REACHES PISANIA—SAILS BY WAY OF AMERICA FOR ENGLAND—REACHES HOME.
The time had arrived when, as Park felt, he must either again submit to the tyrannical treatment of Ali, or perish possibly in attempting to escape. At night he got ready a bundle of clothes, consisting of two shirts and two pair of trousers, with a cloak and a few other articles; but he had not a single bead to purchase food for himself or his horse. About daybreak Johnson came and told him that the Moors were asleep. The awful crisis had now arrived; a cold perspiration stood on his brow as he thought of the dreadful alternative and reflected that one way or the other his fate must be decided in the course of the day. To deliberate was to lose the only chance of escape; so, taking up his bundle, he stepped gently over the negroes sleeping in the air, mounted his horse, bade Johnson farewell, desiring him to take particular care of the papers with which he had intrusted him, and to say that he had left him in good health, on his way to Bambarra.
He rode on, expecting every moment to be overtaken by the Moorish horsemen. Some shepherds he encountered followed, hooting and throwing stones at him. Scarcely was he out of their reach, and was again indulging in the hopes of escaping, when he heard somebody call behind him, and on looking back, he saw three Moors on horseback galloping at full speed and brandishing their weapons. To escape was vain. He stopped, and one of them, presenting his musket, told him that he must go back to Ali. The effect of this announcement was to benumb his faculties. He rode back with apparent unconcern, but he had not gone far when the Moors, stopping, ordered him to untie his bundle. Having examined the articles, they found nothing worth taking except his cloak, and one of them, pulling it off, wrapped it about himself. It had served to protect him from the rain in the day and the dews at night, and was of the greatest value to him. He earnestly begged the robbers to return it, but his petition was unheeded. As he attempted to follow them to regain his cloak, one of the robbers struck his horse over the head, and presenting his musket, ordered him to proceed no further. Finding that the sole object of the Moors had been to plunder him, he turned his horse's head towards the east, thankful to have escaped with his life.
As soon as he was out of sight of the robbers, he struck into the woods and pushed on with all possible speed. He had at length obtained his liberty—his limbs felt light, even the desert looked pleasant. He soon recollected, however, that he had no means of procuring food, nor a prospect of finding water.
He directed his course by compass in the hopes of at length reaching some town or village in the kingdom of Bambarra.
His thirst, in consequence of the burning heat of the sun, reflected with double violence on the sand, became intense. He climbed a tree in the hopes of seeing some human habitation. Nothing appeared around but thick underwood and hillocks of white sand.
At sunset he again climbed a tree, but the same sight met his eyes. Descending, after taking the saddle off his horse's back, he was suddenly seized with giddiness, and fell to the ground believing that the hour of death was fast approaching. He recovered, however, just as the sun was sinking behind the trees, and now, summoning up all his resolution, he determined to make another effort to prolong his existence.
He had gone on some distance further when he perceived some lightening in the north-east, a delightful sight, for it promised rain, and soon he heard the wind roaring among the bushes. He was expecting the refreshing drops, when in an instant he was covered with a cloud of sand. It continued to fly for nearly an hour; then more lightening followed and then down came a few heavy drops of rain, enabling him to quench his thirst by wringing and sucking his clothes.
He travelled on during the night, which was intensely dark, till he perceived a light ahead. Cautiously approaching it he heard the lowing of cattle and the clamorous tongues of the herdsmen, which made him suspect that it was a watering-place belonging to the Moors. Rather than run the risk of falling into their hands he retreated, but being dreadfully thirsty, and fearing the approach of the burning day, he thought it prudent to search for the wells which he expected to find at no great distance.
While thus engaged he was perceived by a woman, who screaming out, two people ran to her assistance from the neighbouring tents and passed close to him.
Happily he escaped from them and, plunging again into the woods, after proceeding a mile he heard a loud and confused noise. Great was his delight to find that it arose from the croaking of frogs, which was music to his ears.
At daybreak he reached some shallow pools full of large frogs, which so frightened his horse that he was obliged to keep them quiet by beating the water till he had drank. Having quenched his own thirst, he ascended a tree to ascertain the best course to take, when he observed a pillar of smoke about twelve miles off. Directing his course to it he reached a Foulah village belonging to Ali. Hunger compelled him to enter it, but he was denied admittance to the dooty's house, and could not obtain even a handful of corn. Reaching, however, a humble hut at which an old motherly-looking woman sat spinning cotton, he made signs that he was hungry. She immediately laid down her distaff, and desired him in Arabic to come in, setting before him a dish of kous-kous. In return he gave her one of his pocket-handkerchiefs, and asked for a little corn for his horse, which she readily brought him.
While his horse was feeding the people collected round him, and from their conversation he discovered that they proposed seizing him and conveying him back to Ali. He therefore tied up his corn and, lest it might be supposed that he was running from the Moors, driving his horse before him he took a northerly direction, followed by the boys and girls of the town. Having got rid of his troublesome attendants he struck into the woods, where he was compelled to pass the night with his saddle for a pillow. He was awakened by three Foulahs, who, taking him for a Moor, told him that it was time to pray. Without answering them he saddled his horse and made his escape.
The next day he took shelter in the tent of a Foulah shepherd, who charitably gave him boiled corn and dates, although he was recognised as a Christian. He here purchased some corn in exchange for some brass buttons, and again took the road to Bambarra, which he resolved to follow for the night. Hearing some people approaching, he thought it prudent to hide himself, which he did in the thick brushwood. He there sat holding his horse by the nose to prevent him neighing, equally afraid of the natives without and the wild beasts within the forest. The former took their departure, and he went on till past midnight, when the croaking of frogs induced him to turn off from the road, that he and his steed might quench their thirst. Having discovered an open place with a single tree in the midst of it, he lay down for the night. He was disturbed towards morning by the sound of wolves, which made him once more mount.
On the morning of the 5th of July he reached a negro town in the confines of Bambarra. It was a small place surrounded by high walls, inhabited by a mixture of Mandingoes and Foulahs, chiefly employed in the cultivation of corn. The people were suspicious of his character, some supposing him to be an Arab, others a Moorish sultan, but the dooty, or chief magistrate, who had been at Gambia, took his part, and assured them that he was a white man. On its being reported that he was going to Sego, the capital, several women came and begged that he would enquire of Mansong what had become of their children, who had been carried off to fight.
He was allowed to take his departure without molestation, and on the 6th reached the town of Dingyee.
When he was about to depart the next morning, the landlord begged him to give him a lock of his hair, understanding that white men's hair made a saphie, or charm, which would bestow on the possessor all their knowledge. This he willingly promised to do, but the landlord's thirst for learning was such that he cropped nearly the whole of one side of his head, and would have done the same with the other had not Park told him that he wished to reserve some of this precious merchandise for a future occasion.
Having reached the town of Wassiboo, shortly afterwards eight fugitive Kaartan negroes, who had escaped from the tyrannical government of the Moors, arrived, on their road to offer their allegiance to the king of Bambarra. Park gladly accepted their invitation to accompany them on their road.
His horse at the end of three days, becoming completely knocked up, he dismounted and desired his companions to ride on, telling them he would follow; but they declined leaving him, declaring that lions were numerous, and that, though they would not attack a body of people, they would soon find out a single individual and destroy him. One of the party, therefore, insisted on remaining with him, and he and his friend, after he had rested, overtook their companions, passing through several of the numerous towns in this part of the country. His horse, now becoming weaker and weaker, he was obliged to drive the animal on before him the greater part of the day, so that he did not reach Geosorro till late in the evening. The dooty of the place refused to give him or his companions food, so he lay down supperless to sleep. Their host, however, relented, and about midnight he was awakened with the joyful information that victuals were prepared.
Next day his fellow-travellers, having better horses, went on ahead, and he was walking barefoot, driving his own poor animal before him, when he met a coffle, or caravan, of about seventy slaves coming from Sego. They were tied together by their necks with thongs of bullock's hide twisted like a rope, seven slaves upon a thong, and a man with a musket between every seven. They were bound for Morocco.
On arriving at the next place he found that his companions had gone on without him, but he fell in, the following day, with two negroes going to Sego, who afforded him their company.
In the village through which he passed he was constantly taken for a Moor. The people jeered at him, laughing at his tattered and forlorn appearance. He, however, again overtook the Kaartans, who promised to introduce him to the king.
As they were riding along over some marshy ground, and he was anxiously looking around for the river which he now supposed to be near, one of his companions called out, "Geo affilli!" ("See water!") and, looking forward, he saw with infinite pleasure the great object of his mission— the long-sought-for majestic Niger, glittering in the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the east. He hastened to the brink, and having drunk of the water, offered up his fervent thanks in prayer to the Great Ruler of all things for having thus far crowned his endeavours with success.
Sego, the capital of Bambarra—at which he had now arrived—consists, properly speaking, of four distinct towns: two on the north and two on the south bank of the Niger. They are surrounded by high mud walls. The houses are built of clay, of a square form with flat roofs—some of them of two stories, and many of them are whitewashed. Moorish mosques are seen in every quarter; and the streets, though narrow, are broad enough for every useful purpose in a country where wheel-carriages are unknown. It contains about thirty thousand inhabitants.
While waiting to cross the river, a messenger arrived, informing him that the king could not possibly see him until he knew what had brought him into the country, and that he must not venture to cross the river without his majesty's permission. He was directed to pass the night in a distant village; but when he reached it, no one would admit him. He was regarded with astonishment and fear, and was obliged to sit all day without food in the shade of a tree. He fully expected to have to pass the night in the same place; but about sunset, after he had turned his horse loose, a woman, perceiving that he was weary and dejected, enquired into his situation. Casting looks of pity upon him, she took up his saddle and bridle, and told him to follow her. Having conducted him into her hut, she lighted her lamp, spread a mat on the floor and signified that he might remain there for the night. Finding that he was very hungry, she brought him a fine fish for supper. Having thus attended to the stranger, telling him that he might sleep in safety she called her women around her and desired them to resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they continued to employ themselves the greater part of the night, lightening their labours by songs, some of which had reference to their white visitor.
Several days passed, when a messenger arrived from Mansong with a bag in his hands. He told Park that it was his Majesty's pleasure he should forthwith depart from the neighbourhood of Sego, but that the king, wishing to relieve a white man in distress, had sent him five thousand cowries. From the conversation Park had with the guide, he ascertained that Mansong would willingly have seen him, but that he was apprehensive of being unable to protect him against the blind and inveterate malice of the Moorish inhabitants. His conduct, therefore, was at once prudent and liberal.
He was the same evening conducted to a village about seven miles to the eastward, where he was well received. His guide told him that if Jenne was really the place of his destination, the journey was one of greater danger than he might suppose; for, although that town was nominally a part of the King of Bambarra's dominions, it was in fact a city of the Moors—the chief part of the inhabitants being Bushreens, a fanatical Mahommedan sect. He heard, too, that Timbuctoo, the great object of his search, was entirely in possession of that savage and merciless people, who allow no Christian to live there. He had, however, advanced too far to think of returning with uncertain information, and he determined to proceed.
Being provided with a guide, he left the village on the morning of the 24th, travelling through a highly cultivated country, the scenery bearing a greater resemblance to that of England than he had expected to find in the middle of Africa.
The people were everywhere employed in collecting the fruit of the shea trees, from which they prepared vegetable butter. In the evening he reached the large town of Sansanding, the resort of numerous Moorish caravans from the shores of the Mediterranean. In the harbour he observed twenty large canoes, and others arrived while he was there. He was received into the house of the dooty, Counti Mamadi. Scarcely had he arrived when hundreds of people surrounded him, all speaking different dialects, several of them declaring that they had seen him in various parts of the continent. It was evident that they mistook him for somebody else. One of them, a shereef, from Suat, declared that if he refused to go to the mosque he would carry him there. He had little doubt that the Moor would have put his threat into execution had not his host interposed in his behalf. The latter said that, if he would let his guest alone for the night, in the morning he should be sent about his business. This somewhat appeased them, but even after he had retired to his hut the people climbed over the pailings to look at him.
At midnight, when the Moors had retired, Mamadi paid him a visit and earnestly desired him to write a saphie, or charm, observing, "If a Moor's saphie is good, a white man's must needs be better." Park readily furnished him with one, which was in reality the Lord's Prayer, a reed serving for a pen, charcoal and gum-water for ink and a thin board for paper.
Allowed to proceed, as he and his guide were crossing an open plain with a few scattered bushes, the guide wheeled his horse round, called loudly to him and, warning him that a lion was at hand, made signs that he should ride away. His horse was too much fatigued to do this, so they rode slowly past the bush, and he, not seeing anything himself, thought the guide had been mistaken. Suddenly the Foulah put his hand to his mouth exclaiming, "God preserve us!" To his great surprise he then perceived a large red lion a short distance from the bush, his head couched between his fore paws. Park expected that the creature would instantly spring upon him, and instinctively pulled his foot from the stirrups to throw himself on the ground, that his horse might become the victim rather than himself; but probably the lion was not hungry, for he quietly allowed the traveller to pass though fairly within his reach.
The next day his horse completely broke down, and the united strength of himself and his guide could not place the animal again upon his legs. He sat down for some time beside the worn-out associate of his adventures; but, finding him still unable to rise, he took off the saddle and bridle and placed a quantity of grass before him. While he surveyed his poor steed as he lay panting on the ground, he could not suppress the sad apprehension that he should himself in a short time lie down and perish in the same manner from fatigue and hunger. With this foreboding he left his horse, and with great reluctance followed his guide on foot along the banks of the river until he reached the small village of Kea.
Here he parted from his Foulah guide, whom he requested to look after his horse on his return, which he promised to do.
From Kea he went down the river in a canoe, and thence to Moorzan, a fishing town on the northern bank, and was then conveyed across the stream to Silla, a large town. Here, after much entreaty, the dooty allowed him to enter his house to avoid the rain, but the place was damp and he had a smart attack of fever. Worn down by sickness, exhausted with hunger, and fatigued, half-naked, without any article of value by which he could procure provisions, clothes, or lodgings, he began to reflect seriously on his situation, and was convinced by painful experience that the obstacles to his further progress were insurmountable. The dooty approved of the resolution he had arrived at of returning, and procured a fisherman to carry him across to Moorzan, whence he got back to Kea. The brother of the dooty was starting for Modiboo. He took his saddle, which he had left at Kea, intending to present it to the king of Bambarra.
Travelling along the banks of the river, the footprints of a lion quite fresh in the mud were seen. His companion, therefore, proceeded with great circumspection, insisting that Park should walk before him. This he declined doing, when his guide threw down the saddle and left him alone. He therefore continued his course along the bank, and believing that the lion was at no great distance, he became much alarmed, and took a long circuit through the bushes.
He at last arrived at Modiboo. While conversing with the dooty of the place he heard a horse neigh in one of the huts. The dooty inquired with a smile if he knew who was speaking to him. He explained himself by telling Park that his horse was still alive and somewhat recovered from his fatigue, and that he must take the animal with him.
Though tolerably well treated at the villages where he stopped, he in vain endeavoured to obtain a guide. The rains were now falling, and the country, it was supposed, would soon be completely flooded. He heard that a report had been abroad that he had come to Bambarra as a spy and that, as Mansong had not admitted him into his presence, the dooties of the different towns might treat him as they pleased.
A little before sunset of the 11th of August he reached Sansanding. Here even Mamadi, who had formerly been so kind to him, scarcely gave him a welcome, and everyone seemed to shun him. Mamadi, however, came privately to him in the evening, and told him that Mansong had despatched a canoe to bring him back, and advised him to set off from Sansanding before daybreak, cautioning him not to stop at any town near Sego. He therefore resumed his journey on the 12th, and in the afternoon reached the neighbourhood of Kabba.
As he approached, one of several people who were standing at the gate ran towards him and, taking his horse by the bridle, led him round the walls of the town and, pointing to the west, told him to go along or it would be the worse for him. He in vain represented the danger of being benighted in the woods, exposed to the inclemency of the weather and the fury of wild beasts. "Go along," was the only answer he received. He found that these negroes had acted thus from kindness, as the king's messengers who had come to seize him were inside the town.
Being repulsed from another village, he went on till he reached a small one somewhat out of the road, and sat down under a tree by a well. Two or three women came to draw water and, perceiving the stranger, enquired where he was going. On Park telling them to Sego, one of them went in to acquaint the dooty. In a little time the dooty sent for him, and permitted him to sleep in a large hut.
Next day he again set forward, meeting with the same inhospitable treatment as before, and having for three days to subsist on uncooked corn. He was repulsed in like manner from the gates of Taffara; and at the village of Sooha, which he reached next day, he in vain endeavoured to procure some corn from the dooty, who was sitting by the gate. While Park was speaking to the old man, he called to a slave to bring his paddle along with him, and when he brought it, told him to dig a hole in the ground, pointing to a spot at no great distance. While the slave was thus engaged, the dooty kept muttering the words—"Good-for-nothing! A real plague!" These expressions, coupled with the appearance of the pit the lad had dug, which looked much like a grave, made Park think it prudent to decamp. He had just mounted his horse, when the slave who had gone into the village returned, dragging the corpse of a boy by a leg and arm, which he threw into the pit with savage indifference, and at once began to cover it up with earth.
At sunset Park reached Koohkorro, a considerable town, and the great market for salt. Here he was received into the house of a Bambarran who, once a slave to a Moor, had obtained his freedom and was now a merchant. Finding that his guest was a Christian, he immediately desired him to write a saphie, saying that he would dress him a supper of rice if he would produce one to protect him from wicked men. Park therefore covered the board on both sides, when his landlord, wishing to have the full force of the charm, washed the writing from the board into a calabash with a little water and, having said a few prayers over it, drank the whole draught; after which, lest a single word should escape, he licked the board until it was quite dry. The dooty of the place next sent to have a saphie written—a charm to procure wealth. So highly satisfied was he with his bargain that he presented the traveller with some meal and milk, and promised him in the morning some more milk for his breakfast.
When Park had finished his supper of rice and salt, he lay down upon a bullock's hide and slept quietly until morning, this being the first good meal and refreshing sleep he had enjoyed for a long time.
After leaving this place, having been misdirected as to his road, he reached a deep creek. Rather than turn back, he went behind his horse and pushed him headlong into the water; then, taking the bridle in his teeth, he swam to the other side. This was the third creek he had crossed in this manner since he had left Sego. His clothes were, indeed, constantly wet from the rain and dew; and the roads being very deep and full of mud, such a washing was sometimes pleasant.
At Bammakoo, which he reached on the evening of the next day, he was received into the house of a negro merchant, of whom there are many wealthy ones in the place, trading chiefly in salt. He was feasted also by a number of Moors, who spoke good Mandingo, and were more civil to him than their countrymen had before been. One of them had travelled to Rio Grande, and spoke highly of the Christians. From this man he received a present of boiled rice and milk. He also met a slave merchant who had resided some years on the Gambia, who informed him about the places which lay in his intended course to the westward. He was told that the road was impassable at this season of the year, and that there was a rapid river to cross. Having, however, no money to maintain himself, Park determined at all risks to push on, and, having obtained a singing man who said he knew the road over the hills, set off the next day. His musical conductor, however, lost the right path and, when among the hills, leaping to the top of a rock as if to look out for the road, suddenly disappeared. Park managed, however, just before sunset, to reach the romantic village of Koomah, the sole property of a Mandingo merchant and surrounded by a high wall. Though seldom visited by strangers, whenever the weary traveller did come to his residence the merchant made him welcome.
Park was soon surrounded by the harmless villagers, who had numberless questions to ask and in return for the information he gave them brought corn and milk for himself and grass for his horse, and kindled a fire in the hut where he was to sleep.
Accompanied by two shepherds as guides, he set out the next day from Koomah. The shepherds, however, walked on ahead, troubling themselves but little about him.
The country was very rough, and the declivity so great that a false step would have caused him and his horse to be dashed to pieces.
As he was riding on, the shepherds being about a quarter of a mile before him, he heard a loud screaming as from a person in great distress. Supposing that a lion had taken off one of the shepherds, he hurried on to ascertain what had happened. The noise had ceased, and in a short time he perceived one of the shepherds lying among the long grass near the road, and concluded that the man was dead; but when he came close to him the shepherd whispered to him to stop, telling him that a party of armed men had seized upon his companion and shot two arrows at him. While considering what to do, he saw at a little distance a man sitting upon the stem of a tree, and also the heads of six or seven more who were crouching down among the grass, with muskets in their hands. It being impossible to escape, he rode forward towards them, hoping that they were elephant hunters. By way of opening the conversation he inquired if they had shot anything; but in answer one of them ordered him to dismount, and then, as if recollecting himself, waved with his hand as a sign that Park might proceed. He had ridden some way when they shouted to him again to stop, and told him that the King of the Foulahs had sent them to carry him to Fooladoo. Without hesitating, Park turned and followed them.
They had reached a dark part of the wood when one of them observed in the Mandingo language, "This place will do," and immediately snatched his hat from his head. Feeling that resistance was useless, he allowed them to proceed till they had stripped him quite naked. While they were examining their plunder, Park begged them to return his pocket compass; but, on his pointing to it as it lay on the ground, one of the banditti cocked his musket, swearing that he would shoot him if he presumed to take it. After this some of them went away with his horse, and the remainder stood considering whether they should leave him quite naked or allow him something to shelter him from the sun. Humanity at last prevailed, and they returned the worst of his two shirts and a pair of trousers; one of them also threw back his hat, in the crown of which he kept his memorandums—probably the reason why they did not wish to keep it.
Here he was in the midst of a vast wilderness in the depth of the rainy season, naked and alone, and surrounded by savage animals and men still more savage, five hundred miles from the nearest European settlement. His spirits began to fail, but he reflected that no human prudence could possibly have averted his present sufferings, and that, though a stranger in a strange land, he was still under the protecting eye of that Providence who has condescended to call Himself the stranger's friend. At this moment the extreme beauty of a small moss in fructification caught his eye. Though the whole plant was not much larger than the top of one of his fingers, he could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves, and capsules without admiration. "Can that Being," he thought, "who brought this plant to perfection look with unconcern upon the situation and sufferings of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not." He started up and, disregarding both hunger and fatigue, travelled forward, assured that relief was at hand.
In a short time he overtook the two shepherds who had come with him from Koomah. They were greatly surprised to see him, observing that they never doubted that the Foulahs had murdered him. In their company he arrived at Sibidooloo, the frontier town of the kingdom of Manding. The chief man in the place, called Mansa, received him most kindly, and when Park related how he had been robbed of his horse and apparel, he observed, with an indignant air, "Sit down. You shall have everything restored to you—I have sworn it." He at once gave directions to his people to search for the robbers. Park was conducted into a hut, where he was provided with food, and a crowd of people assembled, all of whom commiserated his misfortunes and vented imprecations against the Foulahs.
As there was a great scarcity of provisions in the place, Park, after spending two days there, begged Mansa to allow him to depart. He gave him permission to do so, provided he would remain at a town called Wanda for a few days, until he received some account of his horse and goods.
He took his departure accordingly on the morning of the 28th, and reached Wanda about noon of the 30th.
The head man of the place, who was a Mahommedan, acted not only as chief magistrate, but as schoolmaster. He kept his school in an open shed, where the traveller was desired to take up his lodgings. Park was very anxious for his clothes, as those he had on were completely worn-out, his shirt being like a piece of muslin and dirty in the extreme.
He here spent nine days suffering much from fever. On the 6th two people arrived from Sibidooloo, bringing his horse and clothes, but his pocket compass, greatly to his vexation, was broken to pieces.
Every day he observed several women come to the house to receive a certain quantity of corn. Knowing how valuable this article was at the present juncture, he enquired of his host whether he maintained these poor women from pure bounty or expected a return when the harvest should be gathered in.
"Observe that boy," said he, pointing to a fine child about five years of age. "His mother has sold him to me for forty days' provisions for herself and the rest of her family. I have bought another boy in the same manner."
Sick as he was, Park thought it necessary to take his leave of his hospitable landlord, to whom he presented his horse as the only recompense he could make, desiring him to convey his saddle and bridle as a present to Mansa of Sibidooloo. As he was about to set out, his host begged him to accept his spear as a token of remembrance and a leather bag to contain his clothes. Having converted his half-boots into sandals, he travelled with more ease.
Although the people were suffering great distress from the failure of the crops, he was in general most hospitably treated. His landlord at Kinyeto, observing that he had hurt his ankle, insisted on his remaining several days till he could walk with the help of a staff.
Notwithstanding suffering from fever and exposed to constant rain, he continued his journey, narrowly escaping being detained at the town of Mansia by the inhospitable chief, who insisted on being paid for the small amount of food he had provided.
On September 16th he reached the town of Kamalia. He was here conducted to the house of a Bushreen, Kafa Taura. He was collecting a caravan of slaves to convey to the European settlements on the Gambia, as soon as the rains should be over. He found Kafa seated in his house surrounded by several slatees who proposed joining the caravan. He was reading to them from an Arabic book, and enquired if his guest understood it. On being answered in the negative, he desired one of the slatees to fetch a curious little book which had been brought from the west country. It proved to be a book of Common Prayer, and Kafa expressed great joy on hearing that Park could read it, for some of the slatees, observing the colour of his skin, now become yellow from sickness, suspected that he was an Arab in disguise. Kafa, however, had now no doubt concerning him, and kindly promised him every assistance in his power.
Park was here laid up completely by fever, but Kafa, who had provided a quiet hut for his accomodation, advised him to remain within it, assuring him that if he did not walk out in the wet he would soon be well.
He passed five weeks in a gloomy and solitary manner, seldom visited by any person except his benevolent landlord, who came daily to enquire about his health.
When the rains became less frequent the country began to grow dry and the fever left him, but in so debilitated condition that it was with difficulty he could crawl with his mat to the shade of a tamarind tree at a short distance, there to enjoy the refreshing smell of the corn-fields. The benevolent and simple manners of the negroes, and the perusal of Kafa's little volume greatly contributed to his restoration.
In the beginning of December, Kafa began to make arrangements for his journey, and to complete the purchase of his slaves.
As he had to be absent about his affairs for a month, Park was left during the time to the care of a good old Bushreen, who acted as schoolmaster to the younger people of Kamalia.
The long-wished-for day of the departure of the caravan, the 19th of April, at length arrived, and the irons being removed from the slaves, the slatees assembled at the door of Kafa's house, where the bundles were all tied up, and everyone had his load assigned him.
Kafa had twenty-seven slaves for sale, but eight others afterwards joined them, making in all thirty-five. The schoolmaster who was on his return to Woradoo, the place of his nativity, took with him eight of his scholars. Altogether, the come numbered seventy-three persons.
The caravan was followed for about half a mile by most of the inhabitants of Kamalia; and when they had arrived at the top of a hill, from whence they had a view of the town, they were all ordered to sit down—those belonging to the coffle with their faces towards the west, and the townspeople with theirs towards Kamalia. The schoolmaster, with two of the principal slatees, having taken their places between the two parties, pronounced a solemn prayer, after which they walked three times round the coffle, making impressions in the ground with the ends of their spears, and muttering something by way of a charm. When this ceremony was ended, all the people belonging to the coffle sprang up and, without taking a formal farewell of their friends, set forward.
Another ceremony was performed when the party stopped to dine on the road. Before commencing the meal, when each person was seated with their quotas arranged before him in small gourd shells, the schoolmaster offered up a short prayer that God and the holy prophet might preserve them from robbers and all bad people, that their provisions might never fail nor their limbs become fatigued.
After stopping at the town of Kenytakooro till the 22nd of April, the coffle commenced the journey through the Jallonka wilderness. The country was very beautiful and abounded with birds and deer; but so anxious were they to push on, that they made fully thirty miles that day. Fatigued as they were, they were frequently disturbed in the night by the howling of wild beasts and the bites of ants.
On setting out in the morning Nealee, one of Kafa's female slaves refused to drink the gruel offered her. The country was extremely wild and rocky, and Park began to fear that he should be unable to keep up with the party. Others, however, suffered more than he did. The poor female slave began to lag behind; and, complaining dreadfully of pains in her legs, her load was taken from her and given to another, and she was ordered to keep in front of the coffle.
As the party were resting near a rivulet a hive of bees was discovered in a hollow tree, and some of the people were proceeding to obtain the honey, when an enormous swarm flew out, and, attacking every one, made them fly in every direction. Park being the first to take alarm, was the only person who escaped with impunity. The slaves had, however, left their bundles behind them, and to obtain them it was necessary to set the grass on fire to the east of the hive, when the wind driving the flames along, the men pushed through the smoke and recovered their bundles. They also brought with them poor Nealee, whom they found lying by the rivulet stung in the most dreadful manner. On her refusing to proceed further, she was cruelly beaten with a whip, when, suddenly starting up, she walked for four or five hours; she then made an attempt to run away, but, from weakness, fell to the ground. Though unable to rise, the whip was a second time applied, when Kafa ordered that she should be placed on an ass. Unable to sit on it, she was carried afterwards on a litter by two slaves.
The unfortunate slaves, who had travelled all day in the hot sun with loads on their heads, were dreadfully fatigued; and some of them began to snap their fingers—a sure sign, among negroes, of desperation. They were, therefore, put in irons, and kept apart from each other. Next day poor Nealee was again placed on the ass; but unable to hold herself on, frequently fell to the ground. At length the cry arose of—"Kang-tegi!" ("Cut her throat!") As Park did not wish to see this horrible operation performed, he went on ahead; but soon afterwards he was overtaken by one of Kafa's domestic slaves with poor Nealee's garment on the end of a bow. On making inquiries of the man, he replied that Kafa and the schoolmaster would not consent to her being killed, but had left her on the road, where probably she was soon devoured by wild animals.
Such is one example of the cruel treatment received by the unhappy slaves. The old schoolmaster, however, was so affected, that he fasted the whole of the ensuing day.
The party now travelled on rapidly, everyone being apprehensive that he might otherwise meet with the fate of poor Nealee.
The coffle had still many dangers to encounter. Receiving information that two hundred Jallonkas were lying in wait to plunder them, they altered their course and travelled with great secrecy until midnight, when they entered the town of Koba. Here they remained some days to escape the Jallonkas.
The next town they reached, Malacotta, was the birthplace of the schoolmaster, whose brother came out to meet him. The interview was very natural and affecting. They fell on each other's neck, and it was some time before either of them could speak. The schoolmaster then turning, pointed to Kafa, saying, "This is the man who has been my father in Manding. I would have pointed him out sooner to you, but my heart was too full."
They were now in the country of friends, and were well received at each of the towns they entered.
Park, however, witnessed numerous instances of the sad effects of the slave trade. A singing man, the master of one of the slaves who had travelled for some time with great difficulty, and was found unable to proceed further, proposed to exchange him for a young slave girl belonging to one of the townspeople. The poor girl was ignorant of her fate until the bundles were all laid up in the morning, and the coffle ready to depart, when, coming with some of the other young women to see the coffle set out, her master took her by the hand and delivered her to the singing man. Never was a face of serenity more suddenly changed into one of the deepest distress; the terror she manifested on having the load put on her head and the rope round her neck, and the sorrow with which she bid adieu to her companions, were truly affecting. Notwithstanding the treatment which the slaves received, they had hearts which could feel for the white stranger amidst their infinitely greater sufferings, and they frequently of their own accord brought water to quench his thirst, and at night collected branches and leaves for his bed, during that weary journey of more than five hundred British miles.
Knowing that the greater number were doomed to a life of slavery in a foreign land, he could not part from them without feeling much emotion.
At last Pisania was reached, and Park was warmly welcomed as one risen from the dead by the Mr Ainsleys and Dr Laidley. They had heard that the Moors had murdered him as they had murdered Major Haughton. He learned with great sorrow that neither of his two attendants, Johnson and Demba, had returned, and that nothing was known of them. Park gave double the amount he had promised to Kafa, and sent a present also to the good old schoolmaster at Malacotta. Kafa, who had never before heard English spoken, listened with great attention to Park, when conversing with his friends. His astonishment at the various articles of furniture in the houses was very great; but it was still greater when he saw Mr Ainsley's schooner lying in the river. He could not comprehend the use of the masts and sails, or conceive how so large a body could be moved by the wind. He was frequently heard to exclaim, with a sigh: "Ah! black men are nothing."
After waiting at Pisania some time, finding no vessel likely to sail direct for England, he took his passage on board a slave vessel bound for South Carolina. She, however, meeting with bad weather, put into Antigua, and from thence he sailed in an English packet, and arrived at Falmouth on the 22nd of December, having been from England about two years and seven months.
PARK'S SECOND JOURNEY.
MARRIES—PREPARES FOR ANOTHER JOURNEY—ACCOMPANIED BY MESSRS. ANDERSON AND SCOTT, LIEUTENANT MARTYN AND THIRTY-FIVE SOLDIERS, PROCEEDS TO PISANIA BY WAY OF GOREE—ENGAGES ISAACO AS GUIDE—NUMEROUS ASSES— JOURNEY COMMENCED—THREE SOLDIERS DIE—ATTACKED BY BEES—SICKNESS AMONG THE MEN INCREASES—ANNOYED BY LIONS—MESSRS. ANDERSON AND SCOTT ILL OF FEVER—SEVERAL MEN LEFT BEHIND—ISAACO SEIZED BY A CROCODILE—NATIVES ATTEMPT TO ROB THEM—A BRIDGE BUILT—REACH BANGASSI—SCOTT LEFT BEHIND, SICK—THE CORPORAL AND MORE MEN DIE—MR. ANDERSON'S ILLNESS INCREASES— FOLLOWED BY LIONS—HEAVY RAINS—MEETS KAFA TAURA—THE NIGER REACHED— DESCENDS THE NIGER IN A CANOE—ISAACO TAKES HIS LEAVE—ALARMING REPORTS—RECEIVES ENVOYS FROM MANSONG—CONTINUES VOYAGE IN CANOES— RECEIVES NEWS OF SCOTT'S DEATH—MR. ANDERSON DIES—A VESSEL BUILT— COMMENCES VOYAGE IN HER WITH LIEUTENANT MARTYN, TWO WHITE MEN AND SOME SLAVES—ATTACKED BY NATIVES—CONTINUES VOYAGE—AGAIN ATTACKED—PARK AND MARLYN DROWNED, OTHERS KILLED—ONE SLAVE ESCAPES, WHO GIVES AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRAGEDY.
Soon after his return to England Park married the daughter of Mr Anderson, with whom he had served his apprenticeship, and resided a couple of years with his mother and one of his brothers on the farm that his father had occupied at Fowlshiels, in Scotland. After this he practised his profession for some time at Peebles. But this sort of life not satisfying his ardent temperament, on hearing from Sir Joseph Banks that another expedition into Africa to explore the Niger was proposed, he at once offered his services.
Nothing, however, was settled till the year 1803, when, being directed to hold himself in readiness to proceed to Africa, he engaged a native of Mogadore, named Sidi Omback Boubi, then residing in London, to accompany him to Scotland for the purpose of instructing him in Arabic.
Nearly another year passed before all arrangements were concluded. It was finally determined that the expedition should consist of Park himself, his brother-in-law (Mr Anderson), and Mr George Scott, who was to act as draughtsman, together with a few boat-builders and artificers. They were to be joined at Goree by a party of soldiers of the African corps stationed in that garrison.
Three months after this elapsed ere they set sail on board the "Crescent" transport on the 30th of January, 1805; and, after touching at Saint Jago to obtain asses for the journey, they reached Goree on the 28th of March.
There was no lack of volunteers, the whole garrison offering their services. Thirty-five soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Martyn of the Royal Artillery Corps were selected, as well as two sailors from the "Squirrel" frigate.
They left Goree on the 6th of April, the men jumping into the boats in the highest spirits, and bidding adieu to their friends with repeated huzzas.
Landing at Kayee on the northern bank of the Gambia, they commenced their overland journey to Pisania on the 27th of April. The weather was intensely hot, and the asses, unaccustomed to carry loads, made their march very fatiguing and troublesome, three of the animals sticking fast in a muddy rice field soon after they started.
So many delays had occurred that the rainy season was already approaching, and it would have been more prudent had the expedition remained at Goree or Pisania till the country had become again suitable for travelling. It was just possible, however, that they might reach the Niger before the middle of June, when the rainy season usually commences, and that river could then have been navigated without much exposure or toil. So eager, however, was Mr Park to proceed, that he disregarded the warnings of his friends, and determined to set forth on his journey.
Several days were lost at Pisania in arranging the burdens of the asses and in purchasing more animals, as those they possessed were not sufficient for carrying all the loads.
He here engaged a Mandingo priest named Isaaco, who was also a travelling merchant, to serve as a guide, and, on the 4th of May, all being ready, the caravan set forth from Pisania, whence nearly ten years before Park had commenced his adventurous journey into the interior.
The arrangements for the march were well devised. The animals as well as their loads were marked and numbered with red paint, and a certain number allotted to the care of each of the six messes into which the soldiers were divided. Mr Scott and Isaaco generally led, Lieutenant Martyn marched in the centre, and Anderson and Park brought up the rear.