Imatges de pÓgina

hills in different quarters, not very high, but of considerable extent, have the same metallic substance distributed throughout, under the form of grains, spangles, and even of small lumps, which are always found larger in proportion to the depth of the bed. In the mine of Natakon the ore is mixed with earth, from which the precious dust is extracted by continued agitation in water; or it adheres to fragments of iron, emery, and lapis lazuli, whence it is easily detached. In the mine of Semayla, on the contrary, it is imbedded in a hard reddish loam, mixed with other substances still harder, from which it can be extracted only by reducing them all to a powder. This is effected by pounding them with a pestle of hard wood, which is soon worn away by the resistance of the mineral substances. This mine, therefore, though richer than the other, is less valuable. The Farims, who are absolute chiefs of Bambouk, allow the mining operations only at certain seasons, when they themselves attend to levy a proportion of the proceeds. Two men, or two women, --for they are promiscuously employed in this occupation,dig out the earth or other substances, which they hand to those who are to extract from it the gold. This metal they imagine to be a capricious being, delighting to sport with their eager pursuit; and when they find a rich vein suddenly become unproductive, they call out “ He is off.” The pit, which is six feet in diameter, is dug to the depth of thirty or forty, when the workers are usually arrested by an impenetrable bed of reddish-coloured marble, which, from certain indications, Golberry is led to consider as only the covering of much more abundant veins. These pits or shafts, by means of ladders, are carried down with perpendicular sides, which often fall in, and bury the unfortunate workmen. This, however, does not at all discompose the survivors. They apprehend that the devil, or rather a certain subterranean deity, having occasion for labourers to conduct his own operations underneath, seizes in this manner the best miners he can find on the surface of the earth. Nor do they feel the least surprise, though they cannot conceal their regret, when, in the course of working, they light upon the skeletons of the victims. The devil, they fancy, has then found himself mistaken in his choice, and has rudely thrown them back to the place whence he had withdrawn them.

The trade to Gallam appears, by the report of M. Saugnier, who undertook a voyage thither, to have been very profitable when carried on with suc

Gold, ivory, and slaves could be purchased on easy terms; and the natives, called Serawoolies, were intelligent and active, though inclined to be thievish. The voyage, however, is liable to many vicissitudes, the navigation often dangerous, and the natives on shore perpetually on the watch for plunder, especially the princes or robbers; which terms in Africa are nearly synonymous. The French government, also, had issued instructions not to proceed to great extremities against these high-born pilferers ; and hence Saugnier complains, that, though he had at one time eight royal personages on board of his vessel as prisoners, he durst not turn them to any account. In this way the adventure was almost as likely to ruin as to enrich the person who undertook it.

The chief prosperity of the French settlements on


the Senegal was derived from the gum-trade, of which Golberry has given a lively description. To the north of this river, where its fertile borders pass into the boundless deserts of the Sahara, grow large forests of that species of acacia from which the gum distils. It is crooked and stunted, resembling rather a bush or shrub than a tree. No incision is necessary; for under the influence of the hot winds the bark dries and cracks in various places. The liquor exudes, but by its tenacity remains attached in the form of drops, which are as clear and transparent as the finest rock-crystal. The Moorish tribes, to whom these woods belong, break up about the beginning of December from their desert encampments,

and proceed to the gum district in a tumultuous crowd ; the rich mounted on horses and camels, while the poor perform the journey on foot. Six weeks are spent in collecting the material ; after which it is conveyed to the great annual fair held on the banks of the Senegal. The scene of this merchandize is an immense plain of white and moving sand, the desolate monotony of which is not broken by a single herb or a shrub. Here the French take their stand to await the arrival of the Moors. On the appointed morning they hear at a distance the confused noise of their armies in motion. Towards noon this vast and solitary plain appears covered with men, women, and animals, innumerable, enveloped in clouds of dust. The chiefs ride beautiful horses ; while the females of rank are seated on the backs of camels, elegantly caparisoned, in baskets covered with an awning. An incessant murmur pervades this barbarous assemblage, till, the whole having arrived, the camp is pitched, and a cannon fired as a signal for beginning the fair. The French relate, that every species of artifice and even threats are employed by these rude traffickers to enhance the price of their goods; yet they themselves, it would appear, have little right to complain, inasmuch as they confess that they have insensibly, and without attracting the notice of their barbarous customers, raised the kantar, by which the gum is measured, from five hundred to two thousand pounds weight.



Early Proceedings of the African Association

Ledyard, Lucas, Houghton.

The preceding narrative of French and English discoveries proves the imperfect success with which the earlier attempts to penetrate into the interior of Africa, though made by the most powerful nations of Europe, were attended. While the remotest ex. tremities of land and sea in other quarters of the globe had been reached by British enterprise, this vast region remained an unseemly blank in the map of the earth. Such a circumstance was felt as discreditable to a great maritime and commercial nation, as well as to the sciences upon which the extension of geographical knowledge depends. To remove this reproach, a body of spirited individuals formed themselves into what was termed the African Association. They subscribed the necessary funds, and sought out individuals duly qualified and possessed of sufficient courage to undertake such distant and adventurous missions. A committee, composed of Lord Rawdon, afterwards Marquis of Hastings, Sir Joseph Banks, the Bishop of Landaff, Mr Beaufoy, and Mr Stuart, were nominated managers. It seemed scarcely probable that the mere offer to defray travelling expenses, which was all the Society's finances could afford, should induce persons

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