Imatges de pÓgina
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cold reception and narrow bounty of an African potentate in this district. After waiting upon his majesty, he was informed that a present was on its way to him, and he feasted his imagination on the idea of some rich dress or golden ornament; instead of which, the whole consisted of a crust of bread, a dried fish, and sour milk. He had the boldness to remonstrate with the king on this donation, declaring, that, in course of travelling over the whole world, he had never received the like; and his majesty, instead of being incensed, began to extend to him some measure of bounty. Ibn Batuta, however, was disgusted by the abject homage paid to this monarch, as it still is to the native princes of Africa ; the courtiers, as they approached, casting dust on their heads, throwing themselves prostrate and grovelling on the earth, La degradation which he had never witnessed in the most despotic courts of the East. Yet justice is admitted to have been most strictly administered, and property to be perfectly secure ; as a proof of which, merchants from the most distant country, who died at Mali, were as assured of leaving their inheritance to their posterity as if it had been deposited at home. The traveller was astonished by the immense bulk of the trees of this region, in the hollow trunk of one of which he observed a weaver plying his trade.

Ibn Batuta on this part of his journey saw the Niger; and the view necessarily led to a conclusion opposite to that hitherto entertained by his countrymen, who considered it as flowing westward to the

Destitute of all opportunity of complete observation, he fell into the opposite error, since prevalent in Northern Africa, and identified it with the Nile. He supposed it to flow by Timbuctoo, Kakaw, (Kuku ?) Yuwi, (seemingly the Yeou or river of Bornou,) and then by Nubia to Egypt.

ocean.

From Mali our traveller turned northward to Timbuctoo. This city was then subject to the former, governed by a negro viceroy, and far from possessing the celebrity and importance which it has since attained. The town is described as being chiefly peopled by merchants from Latham ; but what particular country that was, it appears now impossible to conjecture. He next proceeded eastward by Kakaw, Bardama, and Nakda, where he seems to have been near Nubia, but gives no farther details till he again arrived at Fez.

About two centuries after Ibn Batuta, a very full description of Africa was furnished by a geographer named Leo, who was even honoured with the surname of Africanus. He was a native of Granada ; but, after the capture of that city by Ferdinand, repaired to Fez, and in that once eminent school applied himself to acquire a knowledge of Arabic learning and of the African continent. He afterwards travelled through a great part of the interior, and, having repaired to Rome, wrote his description of Africa under the auspices of Leo X. It appears that, since the time of Edrisi, one of those revolutions to which barbarous states are liable had greatly changed the aspect of these countries. Timbuctoo, which at the former period either did not exist, or was not thought worthy of mention, had now risen to be the most powerful of the interior kingdoms, and the great centre of commerce and wealth. Ghana, once possessed of imperial greatness, had already changed its name to Kano, and was ranked as tributary to Timbuctoo. Bornou appears under its old appellation; and several kingdoms which have since held a conspicuous place are mentioned for the first time ;-Casena or Cassina, (Kashna,) Zegzeg, Zanfara, and Guber. Gago, represented as being four hundred miles south-east of Timbuctoo, is evidently Eyeo, lately visited by Clapperton. Ghinea or Gheneoa, described as a city of great commerce and splendour, has been supposed to be Ghana; but I think it is evidently Jenne, which Park found to be the largest and most flourishing city of Bambarra. At Timbuctoo many of the merchants were extremely opulent, and two of them had obtained princesses in marriage. Literature was cultivated with ardour, and manuscripts bore a higher price than any other commodity. Izchia, the king, who had been successful in subduing all the neighbouring countries, maintained an army of 3000 horse, and a numerous infantry, partly armed with poisoned arrows. Gold, for which Timbuctoo had now become the chief mart, was lavishly employed in the ornament of his court and person. He displayed solid masses, larger even than the one at Ghana, and some of his ornaments weighed 1300 ounces. The royal palace and several mosques were handsomely built of stone; but the ordinary habitations here, as in all Central Africa, were merely bell-shaped huts, the materials of which were stakes, clay, and reeds.

CHAPTER IV.

Portuguese Discoveries.

EUROPE for ten centuries, during the decline of the Roman empire, the irruption of the barbarous nations, and the operation of the rude systems of feudal polity, remained sunk in profound apathy respecting all objects relating to science, discovery, and distant commerce. The splendour of the Crescent for a short interval outshone all that was brightest in the Christian world; and the courts of Bagdad, of Fez, and of Cordova, were more refined and more enlightened than those of London and Paris. At a somewhat early period, it is true, the Hanse Towns and the Italian republics began to cultivate manufactures and commerce, and to lay the foundation of a still higher prosperity ; but they carried on chiefly an inland or coasting trade. The naval efforts, even of Venice and Genoa, extended no farther than to bring from Alexandria and the shores of the Black Sea the commodities of India, which had been conveyed thither chiefly by caravans overland. Satisfied with the wealth and power to which they had been raised by this local and limited commerce, these celebrated republics made no attempt to open a more extended path over the ocean. Their pilots, indeed, guided most of the vessels which were engaged in the early

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voyages of discovery; but they were employed, and the means furnished, by the great monarchs whose ports were situated upon the shores of the Atlantic.

About the end of the fifteenth century, the human mind began to make a grand movement in every

di. rection; in religion, science, freedom, and industry. It eagerly sought, not only to break loose from that thraldom in which it had been bound for so many ages, but to rival and even surpass all that had been achieved during the most brilliant eras of antiquity. These high aims were peculiarly directed to the department of maritime discovery. The invention of the compass, the skill of the Venetian and Genoese pilots, and the knowledge transmitted from former times, inspired mankind with the hope of being able to pass all the ancient barriers, and to throw light upon regions hitherto unknown. A small power, long sunk in apathy and political degradation, started first in this career, and took the lead, for a certain time, of all the European states. Portugal, during the reign of its kings, John and Emmanuel, stood pre-eminent in enterprise and intelligence. Prince Henry in particular, a younger son of John I., devoted all his thoughts and his whole life to the promotion of naval undertakings. No idea, however, was yet entertained of the new worlds which were afterwards discovered by the daring spirit of Columbus. The local position of Portugal, its wars and expeditions against Morocco, led to the idea that the western border of Africa was the best field for discovery. The information respecting this coast was still very limited; so that the passage of Cape Bojador, by Gilianez, in 1433, caused a surprise and admiration almost equal to what were afterwards excited by

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