Imatges de pÓgina

party with shouts and guns, and the females with singing and dancing, formed a species of triumphal procession. Several days were spent at Sockna, Boo Khalloom being ill, and wishing to try the effect of various charms and superstitious remedies. The English, meantime, witnessed a great marriage ceremony, the chief pomp of which consisted in placing the bride in a basket on the back of a camel and leading her round the town, while numerous horsemen galloped up and discharged their muskets quite close to her head; the honour of which compliment was understood to compensate for the fear which it could not fail to occasion.

In journeying onwards to Mourzouk the travellers passed along the naked sides of the Gebel Assoud, which the Major crossed now for the third time; but no familiarity could relieve the sense of dreariness and misery which its aspect occasioned. A rainy day came as a blessing to the whole party,-especially to the poor slaves, on whom Boo Khalloom had only, in special kindness, bestowed one draught of water in the day to cool their burning thirst. On the 30th October, the caravan made its entry into Mourzouk, with similar pomp as into Sockna, amid the shouts of the inhabitants, whom the chief, by his liberality, had inspired with the warmest attachment. The Major, however, was much disheartened by not seeing any of his countrymen amid the joyous crowd; and his fears were confirmed by finding Dr Oudney just recovering from a severe attack in the chest, and Lieutenant Clapperton in bed the fifteenth day with ague,-facts which, combined with the unfortunate result of the last expedition, and the sickly look of the natives themselves, indicated some pe

culiarly baneful influence, without any visible cause, in the climate of Mourzouk.

Invalids, so severely afflicted, were not very fit to begin a long and laborious journey; but their ardour was extreme, and, imagining that a change of air would be beneficial, they contrived, even before Boo Khalloom was ready to set out, to move forward to Gatrone, leaving Major Denham behind at Mourzouk. On the 29th November the whole caravan broke up from that city, and began their journey through the Desert. They were escorted by nearly every inhabitant who could muster a horse. The expedition, besides the English, comprised 210 Arabs, ranged in tens and twenties, under different chiefs. The most numerous were the M'Garha, who, to the amount of seventy, came from the barren shore of the Syrtes. These barbarians enlivened the route by their traditionary tales, their songs, their extemporary poems, in which all the incidents of the journey itself were narrated; in short, by an inexhaustible fund of wit and vivacity. Their pride, their revenge, their robberies, did not come into view in their intercourse with the English, who, being received into their camp, having eaten of their bread and salt, and being bound in the cord of friendship, were entitled to all the rights of hospitality, and would have been protected even at the hazard of life.

The caravan arrived in due time at Traghan, a small town, containing a fine carpet-manufactory, and ruled by a marabout, who used the sanctity of his character to maintain order and promote the prosperity of the place. Passing that station they were soon in the heart of the Desert, where they spent

whole days without seeing a living thing, even a bird or an insect, that did not belong to the caravan itself. After painful marches under the direct action of the solar rays, they were delighted by the stillness and beauty of the night. The moon and stars shone with peculiar brilliancy; cool breezes succeeded to the burning heat of the day; and, on removing a few inches of the loose hot soil, a soft and refreshing bed was obtained. Even the ripple of the blowing sand sounded like a gentle and murmuring stream. Every noise was rendered doubly impressive by the deep stillness, as well as by an echo from the surface of the surrounding waste. The road derived a very peculiar aspect from the quantity of salt with which the soil was impregnated; the clods were often cracked so as to resemble a ploughed field ; and from the sides of cavities were hanging beautiful crystals of that mineral like the finest frost-work. Sometimes the ground for several miles was glazed over, resembling a sheet of ice; but, though the surface was very hard, the interior was brittle, and the salt fell away in flakes.

The travellers had not proceeded far, when the melancholy aspect of the Desert was heightened by a succession of objects which could not be viewed without the deepest horror. The ground was strewed with the skeletons of former travellers, who had perished in the attempt to cross this extensive wilderness. These at first appeared singly, but afterwards increased till they amounted to fifty or sixty in a day. At Meshroo a hundred were seen together; and near the wells at El Hammar they were found lying in countless multitudes. One forenoon, as Major Denham was dozing on horseback, he was awak

ened by the sound of something crashing under his horse's feet, and on looking down saw the animal trampling on two perfect human skeletons. A movement of one of the feet had separated the skull from the trunk, and driven it forward like a ball. In some of these remains portions of the flesh and hair were left, and even the features were still distinguishable. Two female skeletons lay closely twined together, having evidently been faithful friends who had died in each other's arms. The Arabs gave little proof of their boasted sensibility, in the utter indifference with which they viewed these dismal objects, driving about the limbs with their firelocks, passing coarse jests upon the dead, and deriding the sympathy manifested by their English companions. They told them these were only blacks, "damn their fathers," the barbarous prejudices arising from difference of religion and lineage having thus extinguished in their breasts every touch of human sympathy. Major Denham appears in one place to countenance the popular belief that these bodies were the remains of caravans, buried beneath tempests of moving sand; but none of his facts support this conclusion, or contradict the opinion of Browne, that such victims have in most in- stances perished from other causes. They were lying open and exposed, without even a covering of dust; and the catastrophe of the largest group was too well known, having been a body of slaves, the chief booty obtained by the Sultan of Fezzan during his last expedition into Soudan. The troop had left Bornou without an adequate supply of provisions, which failed entirely before they approached Mourzouk. That want, or perhaps fatigue, was the real

cause of this destruction, was manifest from the fact, that the sufferers were all negroes, while their Arab masters had taken care to reserve for themselves the means of reaching home.

In this route the travellers had on one side the Tibboos, on the other the Tuaricks, two native tribes, probably of great antiquity, and having no alliance with the Arab race, now so widely spread over the continent. The Tibboos were on the left, and it was through their villages that the caravan passed. These people live partly on the milk of their camels, which pick up a scanty subsistence on the few verdant spots that rise amid the Desert, partly by car. rying on a small trade between Mourzouk and Bornou, in which they are so busily employed that many do not spend at home more than four months in the year. They are black, though without the negro features; the men ugly, but the young females possessed of some beauty, not wholly obscured by the embellishments of coral stuck in the nose, and of oil streaming over the face. They are, besides, a gay, good-humoured, thoughtless race, with all the African passion for the song and the dance; which last they practise gracefully, and with movements somewhat analogous to the Grecian. This cheerfulness appears wonderful, considering the dreadful calamity with which they are threatened every day. Once a-year, or oftener, an inroad is made by their fierce neighbours the Tuaricks, who spare neither age nor sex, and sweep away all that comes within their reach. The cowardly Tibboos dare not even look them in the face; they can only mount to the top of certain steep rocks, with flat summits and perpendicular sides, near one of which every village is

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