Imatges de pÓgina

ing their muscles like a musician tuning his instrument, and each calling out to the by-standers,-" I am a hyena; I am a lion; I can kill all that oppose me." After about twenty had shown off in this manner, they came forward in pairs, wearing only a leathern girdle, and with their hands muffled up in numerous folds of country cloth. It was first ascertained that they were not mutual friends; after which, they closed with the utmost fury, aiming their blows at the most mortal parts, as the pit of the stomach, beneath the ribs, or under the ear: they even endeavoured to scoop out the eyes; so that, in spite of every precaution, the match often terminated in the death of one of the combatants. Whenever Mr Clapperton saw the affair verging to such an issue, he gave orders to stop; and, after seeing six pairs exhibit, paid the hire and broke up the meeting.

From Kano he set out under the guidance of Mohammed Jollie, leader of an extensive caravan intended for Sackatoo, capital of the Sultan of the Fellatas. The country was perhaps the finest in Africa, being under high cultivation, diversified with groves of noble trees, and traversed in a picturesque manner by ridges of granite. The manners of the people, too, were pleasing and pastoral. At many clear springs gushing from the rocks young women were drawing water. As an excuse for engaging in talk,

our traveller asked several times for the means of quenching his thirst. "Bending gracefully on one knee, and displaying at the same time teeth of pearly whiteness, and eyes of the blackest lustre, they presented a gourd, and appeared highly delighted when I thanked them for their civility,

remarking to one another, 'Did you hear the white man thank me?'" But the scene was changed when the traveller reached the borders of the provinces of Goober and Zamfra, which were in a state of rebellion against Sackatoo. The utmost alarm at that moment prevailed; men and women, with their bullocks, asses, and camels, all struggled to be foremost, every one crying out, "Wo to the wretch that falls behind! he will be sure to meet an unhappy end at the hands of the Gooberites." There was danger even of being thrown down and trampled to death by the bullocks, which were furiously rushing backward and forward; however, through the unremitting care of the escort, Clapperton made his way safely, though not without much fatigue and annoyance, along this perilous frontier.

On the 16th March, 1824, after passing through the hilly district of Kamoon, the valleys began to open, and crowds of people were seen thronging to market with wood, onions, indigo, and other commodities. This indicated the approach to Sackatoo, which they soon saw from the top of a hill, and entered about noon. A multitude flocked to see the white stranger, and received him with cheers of welcome. The sultan was not yet returned from a ghrazzie or slave-hunt; but the gadado, or minister, performed handsomely the honours of the place. Next day the chief arrived, and instantly sent for Clapperton. The palace, as usual in Africa, consisted of a sort of enclosed town, with an open quadrangle in front. The stranger, on entering the gate, was conducted through three huts serving as guard-houses, after which he found Sultan Bello seated on a small carpet in a sort of painted and ornamented cottage. Bello

had a noble and commanding figure, with a high forehead and large black eyes. He gave the traveller a hearty welcome, and, after inquiring the particulars of his journey, proceeded to serious affairs. He produced books belonging to Major Denham, which had been taken in the disastrous battle of Dirkullah; and, though he expressed a feeling of dissatisfaction at the Major's presence on that occasion, readily accepted an apology, and restored the volumes. He only asked to have the subject of each explained, and to hear the sound of the language, which he declared to be beautiful. He then began to press his visitor with theological questions, and showed himself not wholly unacquainted with the controversies which have agitated the Christian world; indeed, he soon went beyond the depth of his visitor, who was obliged to own that he was not versant in the abstruser mysteries of divinity.

The sultan now opened a frequent and familiar communication with the English envoy, in which he showed himself possessed of a good deal of information. The astronomical instruments, from which, as from implements of magic, many of his attendants started with horror, were examined by the monarch with an intelligent eye. On being shown the planisphere, he proved his knowledge of the planets, and even of many of the constellations, by repeating their Arabic names. The telescope, which presented objects inverted the compass, by which he could always turn to the east in praying-and the sextant, which he called "the looking-glass of the sun," excited peculiar interest. Being desirous to see an observation performed with the latter instrument, Clapperton, who had lost the key of the artificial horizon,

asked a dagger to break it open; upon which the sultan started, and half-drew his sword, trembling like an aspen leaf. The other very prudently took no notice of this excitement, but quietly opened his box, when the exhibition soon dispelled all unfavourable impressions. The sultan, however, inquired with evident jealousy into some points of English history that had come to his knowledge; as, the conquest of India, which the traveller endeavoured to represent as a mere arrangement to protect the natives, and particularly the Moslem population. The attack on Algiers being also alluded to, was justly declared to have been made solely on account of her atrocious piracies.

Sackatoo appeared to Mr Clapperton the most populous city he had seen in the interior of Africa. The houses stand more closely together than in most other towns of Houssa, and are laid out in regularly well-built streets. It is surrounded by a wall between twenty and thirty feet high, with twelve gates, which are punctually shut at sunset. The dwellings of the principal inhabitants consist of clusters of cottages and flat-roofed houses, in the Moorish style, enclosed by high walls. There are two mosques, one of which, then in progress of building, was 800 feet long, adorned with numerous pillars of wood plastered with clay, and highly ornamented.

Mr Clapperton, desirous to accomplish what had all along been his main object, solicited a guide to the western countries and the Gulf of Benin. By this route he might investigate the course of the Niger and the fate of Park; he might also pave the way for a commercial intercourse, which would be of some benefit to Britain, and of great advantage to

Africa. The sultan at first gave assurances of permission, and aid in travelling through every part of his dominions; but when our countryman specified Nyffe on the banks of the Niger, Youri where the papers of Park were reported to be kept, Rakah and Fundah, where that river was said to fall into the sea, the courtiers began to demur. Professing tender solicitude for his safety, they represented that the season was becoming unfavourable, and that rebellion and civil war were raging to such a pitch in these countries as to make even the mighty protection of Sultan Bello insufficient for his security. Clapperton strongly suspected that this unfavourable change was produced by the machinations of the Arabs, and particularly of Mohammed Gomsoo, their chief, notwithstanding the warm professions of friendship made by that personage. They apprehended probably, that, were a communication opened with the western coast, Interior Africa might be supplied with European goods by that shorter route, instead of being brought by themselves across the Desert. Perhaps these suspicions were groundless; for the state of the country was afterwards found to be, if possible, worse than had been described, and the ravages of the Fellatas so terrible, that any one coming from among them was likely to experience a very disagreeable reception. Indeed, it may be suspected that the sultan must have been a good deal embarrassed by the simplicity with which his guest listened to his pompous boasting as to the extent of his empire, and by the earnestness with which he entreated him to name one of his seaports where the English might land, when it is certain that he had not a town which was not some hundred miles distant from the coast.

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