Imatges de pÓgina

of 120 tons, with a cargo worth nearly two thousand pounds sterling. In the month of December he entered the river; and proceeding as high as Kassan, a fortified town, where he left most of his crew, he pushed on in boats. The Portuguese, who were still numerous in that district, and retained all their lofty claims, were seized with bitter jealousy at this expedition made by a foreign and rival power. Led on by Hector Nunez, they furiously attacked the party which had been left at Kassan, and succeeded in making a general massacre of the English. Thompson, on learning these dreadful tidings, although unable to make any effort to avenge the slaughter of his countrymen, still maintained his station on the river, and sent home encouraging accounts of the general prospects of the undertaking. The Company listened to his statement, and sent out another vessel, which unfortunately arrived at an improper season, and lost most of the crew by sickness. Even yet they were not dismayed, but, retaining their ardour unabated, fitted out a third and larger expedition, consisting of the Sion of 200 tons, and the St John of 50, and gave the command to Richard Jobson, to whom we are indebted for the first satisfactory account of the great river-districts of Western Africa.

Jobson entered the Gambia in November, 1620; but what was his dismay on receiving the tidings that Thompson had perished by the hands of his own men! Mutiny was then a frequent occurrence on these hard and distant services; but how it arose in this case, or who was to blame, was never duly investigated. The crew are said to have been unanimous in representing the conduct of their leader as

oppressive and intolerable; but, in regard to a man of undoubted spirit and enterprise, and who fell the first of so many victims in the cause of African discovery, we should not receive too readily the report of those who had so deep an interest in painting his character in the darkest colours.

Jobson, notwithstanding the shock caused by this intelligence, did not suffer himself to be discouraged, but pushing briskly up the river, soon arrived at Kassan. The Portuguese inhabitants in general had fled before his arrival, whilst the few who remained, professed, in respect to Hector Nunez and the massacre of the English crew, an ignorance, and even a horror, for which he gave them very little credit. He had reason, on the contrary, to believe that they were forming a scheme of attack, and even urging the natives to rise against the English; and such was the dread of their machinations that scarcely any one could be prevailed on to act as his pilot. Notwithstanding these suspicions and alarms, he still pursued his course; but after passing the falls of Barraconda he found himself involved in great difficulties. The ascent was to be made against a rapid current: the frequency of hidden rocks made it dangerous to sail in the night; and the boat often struck upon sand-banks and shallows, when it was necessary for the crew to strip and go into the water, in order to push it over these obstacles. They were once obliged to carry it a mile and a half, till they found a deeper channel.

The English now beheld an entirely new world, and a new aspect of nature. On every side there were immense forests of unknown trees, while both the land and the water were inhabited by multitudes


of savage animals, whose roarings every night filled the air. Sometimes twenty crocodiles were seen together in the stream, and their voices, calling as it were to each other, resembled the "sound of a deep well," and might be heard at the distance of a league. Sea-horses also were observed tossing and snorting in every pool; while elephants appeared in huge herds on the shore: at one place there were sixteen in a single troop. These last animals were an object of great terror to the natives, of whom only a few durst attack them with their long poisoned lances and assagays; but whenever the English made a movement against them, they fled like forest-deer, while, by their swiftness, they eluded all pursuit. Three balls were lodged in one individual, yet he made off, but was afterwards found dead by the negroes. Lions, ounces, and leopards were also seen at a little distance; but, amid the alarms inspired by these formidable creatures, the sailors were amused by observing the various evolutions of the monkey tribe. The baboons marched along, sometimes in herds of several thousands, with several of the tallest in front, under the guidance of a principal leader, the lesser following behind, while a band of larger size brought up the rear. "Thus do they march on, and are very bold." At night, as they took their stand upon the hills, filling the air with confused cries, great voice would exalt itself, and the rest were all hushed." They mounted the trees to look at the English, the sight of whom seemed to inspire dissatisfaction; they grinned, shook the boughs violently, uttered angry cries, and when any overtures were made towards acquaintance, ran off at full



speed. The crew shot one; but before they could reach the spot, the rest had carried it off. On tracing these creatures to their haunts in the depths of the forest, recesses were found, where the foliage had been so intertwined above, and the ground beaten so smooth beneath, as made it difficult to believe that these "bowers for dancing and disport" had not been framed by human hands.

Amid these difficulties and adventures the party arrived at Tenda, on the 26th January, 1621, where they expected to meet with Buckar Sano, the chief merchant on the Gambia. This personage accordingly waited on them; but, being treated with brandy, used it so immoderately that he lay all night deaddrunk in the boat. However, he seems on this occasion to have been merely off his guard, as he acted ever after a very discreet and prudent part. He not only carried on traffic himself, but was employed as an agent in managing all the transactions of others. His good faith, however, seems to have been rendered somewhat doubtful by the accounts which he gave to Jobson of a city four months' journey in the interior, the roofs of which were covered with gold.

The report of a vessel come up to trade caused a great resort from the neighbouring districts; and the natives, rearing temporary hovels, soon formed a little village on each side of the river. Speedily there appeared five hundred of a ruder race, covered with skins of wild animals, "the tails hanging as from the beasts." The women, who had never before seen a white man, ran away; but the sight of a few beads soon allured them to return. Unluckily the universal cry was for salt,—a commodity deficient and much desired through all Central Africa; but

Jobson, not duly apprised of this, had not laid in a sufficient stock. Every thing else was lightly prized in comparison; and many who were coming to swell the market, on learning this omission, instantly turned back. He obtained in exchange gold and ivory, and could have got hides in abundance, had they not been too bulky a commodity to bear the expense of conveyance.

Buckar Sano undertook to introduce the English at the court of Tenda. On reaching the king's presence, they witnessed an example of the debasing homage usually paid to negro princes, and of which Clapperton, in Eyeo, afterwards saw several striking instances. The great and wealthy merchant, on appearing in the presence of the king, first fell on his knees, then throwing off his shirt, extended himself naked and flat on the ground, while his attendants almost buried him beneath dust and mud. After grovelling for some time in this prone position, he started up, shook off the earth, which two of his wives assisted in clearing from his person, and he was then speedily equipped in his best attire, with bow and quiver. He and his attendants, after having made a semblance of shooting at Jobson, laid their bows at his feet, which was understood as a token of homage: the king even assured the English captain that the country and every thing in it were thus placed at his disposal. In return for gifts so magnificent, it was impossible to refuse a few bottles of excellent brandy; the value of which, however, Jobson never expected to realize from these regal donations.

The English commander soon found himself in the middle of the dry season, and the river sinking lower and lower; yet he still made a hard struggle to

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