« AnteriorContinua »
ever, with his band of timid volunteers, he overcame his reluctance to royal patronage. He sought the precarious aid of Bocchus, King of Mauritania, who received him well, and ordered an expedition to be prepared ; but Eudoxus was privately warned that this treacherous prince, instead of forwarding him on his voyage, intended that his people should land and leave him to perish on an uninhabited island. It does not appear what motive the king could have for so base a design ; however, the Greek, who had better means of judging than we have, believed it and fled. He made his next attempt in Spain, where he found no difficulty in equipping two other vessels, on board of which he placed seed-corn and materials for building, that, in case of necessity, he might land and raise a crop on a fertile little island which he had observed at an advanced point of his former voyage. Here, very unluckily, Posidonius, Strabo's informant, stops short, and refers to the Spaniards and Gaditanians for farther information ; but profound silence reigns on their part, and the world probably must remain for ever in darkness as to the issue of this last expedition. It must not be concealed that authors of great name, not excepting Strabo himself, have branded Eudoxus as a decided impostor,-a reproach which many of the most eminent discoverers have been destined to bear. This geographer is a most merciless critic; but though his authorities are admitted to be good, his long objections drawn from the internal evidence do not appear at all conclusive. Antiquity has put sundry fables into the narrative of Eudoxus, by which his reputation has severely suffered. According to certain works, he pretended to have really made the circuit of Africa ; to have visited some nations that were dumb; others without tongues; and one people who had no mouths, but received all their food by the nose. These are the wild exaggerations which, in a credulous age, a story undergoes in passing from one person to another. The descriptions of Strabo, collected from the best sources with severe and even malignant scrutiny, contain none of those suspicious wonders, nor any event which at all exceeds the common course of nature.
A line of navigation along the eastern coast of Africa is described in a work of later date, written apparently after the establishment of the Roman power in Egypt. It is termed the Periplus of the Erythrean or Indian Sea, by an author whose name was Arrian; but it comprises not so much the result of any individual adventure as a general view of the commercial voyage regularly made thither from Alexandria. After passing Abyssinia, the navigators sailed along a coast (that of the modern Berbera) which abounded in a remarkable degree with myrrh, frankincense, and other odoriferous plants. They then reached Cape Aromata, (Guardafui), which forms the termination of the Red Sea and the entrance into the Indian Ocean. The coast of Africa, in this latitude, afforded ivory in abundance, rhi. noceros' horns, and tortoise-shell, the latter of which was extremely fine; and, in return for these, arms, wine, and corn were the most acceptable commodi. ties. The voyage terminated at a promontory and port called Rhapta, a fact which of itself would show the extent of ancient navigation in this direction, could the learned agree where that town was situated; but all the names being changed, and no observations of latitude having been made, it is impossible to fix with certainty any one position. Rhapta, according to Gosselin, was Magadoxo; according to Vossius and Vincent it was at or near Quiloa, a position more than double the distance of the first from Cape Guardafui. On this point Dr Vincent seems clearly in the right. The names are all changed, but the natural features necessarily remain the same. Now the navigator is in one place represented as passing successively the seven mouths of a large river at short distances from each other; and these cannot possibly be found anywhere but in the series of estuaries on which Patta and Melinda are built, the principal of which is that of the Quillimane, -a conclusion which necessarily carries the situation of Rhapta southward to Quiloa. Ptolemy, who wrote probably a century later, gives the more remote position of Prasum as a promontory, port, and city, to which in his time navigators were accustomed to sail. We have no fact to guide us to the locality of that town, except that it was two or three hundred miles south-east from Rhapta. · Gosselin makes it Brava; but this is still short of the mouths of the seven rivers which afford the test of this chain of positions. Dr Vincent, again, would have Prasum to be Mozambique; but though the coast runs southeast from Quiloa to Cape Delegado, from this last point to Mozambique the direction is south, and even a little south-west. At or near Cape Delegado, therefore, must, it appears, be fixed the boundary of ancient navigation along the eastern coast of Africa.
Settlements of the Arabs.
The rise and triumph of the followers of Mohammed, who in fifty years spread their arms and their creed over half the eastern world, produced an immense change in the social system of Asia, and a still greater in that of Africa. Their ascendency at first was by no means inauspicious, and portended little of that deep darkness and barbarism in which it has since involved these two continents. After the first violences to which fanaticism had prompted the more ardent converts, the Saracen sway assumed a milder aspect, and their princes cultivated the arts, and even the sciences, with a zeal which had expired among the effeminate and corrupted descendants of the Greeks and Romans. Even the remote Mauritania, which seemed doomed to be the inheritance of a barbarous and nomadic race, was converted by them into a civilized empire; and its capital, Fez, became a distinguished school of learning. Their love of improvement reached even the most distant regions. They introduced the camel, which, though a native of the sandy wastes of Arabia, was equally adapted to the still more immense and awful deserts that stretch so wide over Africa. Paths were opened through wilds which had hitherto defied all human efforts to penetrate. An intercourse by means of caravans was formed with the interior countries, to obtain a supply of gold and slaves; and, amid the sanguinary disputes which arose among the descendants of the prophet, many, whose ill fortune exposed them to the enmity of successful rivals, sought refuge on the opposite side of the Great Desert. By successive migrations, they not only became numerous in Central Africa, but, from superior skill in the art of war, rose to be the ruling power. They founded several flourishing kingdoms in that part of the continent which Europeans vainly sought to reach, till they were recently explored by our enterprising countrymen. Of these states Ghana was the most flourishing, forming the great market for that gold in search of which merchants came from the remotest regions. Its sovereign was acknowledged as supreme by all the neighbouring princes; while his court displayed a splendour, and was adorned with objects, hitherto unexampled in Central Africa. Among its ornaments were painting, sculpture, and glass windows, which, being before unknown, excited the surprise and admiration of the natives. The king is said to have rode out attended by elephants and camelopards, tamed by an art then first introduced, and since lost. The natives were also dazzled by the display of a mass of solid gold, weighing thirty pounds, with which the throne was embellished. This prince is reported to have made a great profession of justice, going out twice every day, and presenting himself to all who wished to offer petition or complaint. The vicissitudes of fortune have subverted the kingdom of Ghana, and made its territory successively subject to Timbuctoo, Kashna, and Sac