Imatges de pÓgina

deeply laden, cannot proceed with safety when the waters are agitated by a brisk gale; therefore much time is consumed in the voyage. The traveller passed first through the country of Banan, which presented a surface flat and monotonous, but abounding in flocks and herds. On the 2d April, the river opened into the great lake Dibbie, here called Debo, in sailing across which, notwithstanding its magnitude, land was lost sight of in no direction except the west, where the water appeared to extend indefinitely like an ocean. Three islands, observed at different points, were, not very happily, named St Charles, Maria Theresa, and Henri, after three individuals who, the author little suspected, would so soon be exiled from France.

After quitting this lake, the Niger flowed through a country thinly occupied by Foulah shepherds, and by some tents of the rude Tuaricks. On the 19th April, he arrived at Cabra, the port of Timbuctoo, consisting of a long row of houses composed of earth and straw, extending about half a mile on the bank of the river. The inhabitants, estimated at about 1200, are entirely employed in lading and unlading the numerous barks which touch at the quay.

In the evening of the 20th April, Caillié, with some companions, rode from Cabra, and entered Timbuctoo, which he calls Temboctou. He describes himself as struck with an extraordinary and joyful emotion at the view of this mysterious city, so long the object of curiosity to the civilized nations of Europe. The scene, however, presented little of that grandeur and wealth with which the name has been associated. It comprised only a heap of ill-built earthen houses, all around which were spread im


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mense plains of moving sand of a yellowish-white colour, and parched in the extreme. "The horizon is of a pale red,—all is gloomy in nature,—the deepest silence reigns, not the song of a single bird is heard;" yet there was something imposing in the view of a great city, thus raised amid sands and deserts by the mere power of commerce.

Although M. Caillié resided above a fortnight in Timbuctoo, his information respecting it is very defective. It appears, except in point of situation, to be nearly such a city as Jenne, consisting of large houses, chiefly tenanted by Moorish merchants, intermingled with conical straw-huts occupied by negroes. The author has given a croquis, or sketch of part of the city, which, though very deficient in perspective, is yet so curious as to merit a place in this publication. There are seven mosques, of which the principal one is very extensive, having three galleries, each two hundred feet long, with a tower upwards of fifty feet high. One part, apparently more ancient than the rest, and almost falling into ruin, was thought to exhibit a style of architecture decidedly superior to the more modern buildings.

Timbuctoo is entirely supported by commerce. It is the depot of the salt conveyed from the mines of Taudeny, and also of the European goods brought by the caravans from Morocco, as well as by those from Tunis and Tripoli, which come by way of Ghadamis. These goods are embarked for Jenne, to be exchanged for the gold, slaves, and provisions, with which that city exclusively supplies Timbuctoo, the neighbourhood being almost a complete desert. The population is estimated at 10,000 or 12,000, which, not being in proportion to a town

three miles in circumference, is probably underrated. The people are chiefly negroes of the Kissour tribe, but bigoted Mohammedans. There appeared less bustle and activity than at Jenne, a circumstance which does not seem very easily accounted for. Osman, the king, was an agreeable-looking negro of fifty-five, to whom the traveller was introduced, without being aware that he was only viceroy, or at least tributary, to the Sultan of Masina. The country is much harassed by the wandering tribe of Tuaricks, who, like the Bedouins in Arabia, levy a regular tax on the caravans.*

*The map constructed by M. Jomard, upon Caillie's routes, changes greatly the position of Timbuctoo, especially in respect to longitude, which it places four degrees to the westward of the site assigned by Major Rennel. It seems impossible, however, to admit an alteration to this extent, which would throw Sego so far westward as to render Park's bearings from Jarra to Sego, and from Sego to Bammakoo, completely erroneous. Besides, it appears to us, that M. Jomard has forced to the westward all the positions between Jenne and Timbuctoo, in a manner quite unwarranted by M. Caillie's own descriptions. This excess becomes manifest in the line from Galia to the mouth of the Debo, 35 miles of which are stated to run north-east, without a single movement in a contrary direction; yet M. Jomard has manoeuvred to make the last position the most westerly of the two. If the route from Jenne to Timbuctoo lies as much to the northward as M. Caillié represents, where, indeed, he, in some measure, agrees with the delineation of D'Anville, it must be somewhat farther west than our maps place it, but not nearly so far as M. Jomard fixes it. In regard to the observation of latitude attempted by the traveller, M. Jomard's claims are indeed very moderate, since he merely argues that, in the absence of any other, this is not wholly to be neglected; yet even this seems too much, when he at the same time admits, that all the observations made by him in a similar manner are of no value whatever.

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