Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

to do the same to every white man that should come within his reach. These fears were dispelled by the appearance of the royal singing man, who brought a message of welcome, with an invitation to repair to Sego, and deliver in person the remaining presents intended for the monarch. At Samee the party met Isaaco, who reported that there was something very odd in the reception which he had received from Mansong. That prince assured him, in general, that the expedition would be allowed to pass down the Niger; but whenever the latter came to particulars, and proposed an interview with Mr. Park, the king began to draw squares and triangles with his finger on the sand; and in this geometrical operation his mind seemed wholly absorbed. Isaaco suspected that he laboured under some superstitious dread of white men, and sought by these figures to defend himself against their magic influence. It was finally arranged that the presents should be delivered, not to Mansong in person, but to Modibinne, his prime minister, who was to come to Samee for that purpose. He accordingly appeared, and began by requiring, in the king's name, an explanation why Park had come to Bambarra with so great a train from so distant a country,-allowing him a day to prepare his reply. Next morning the traveller gave an answer in form, representing his mission as chiefly commercial, and holding forth the advantages which Bambarra might reap by receiving European goods directly from the coast, instead of circuitously, as now, through Morocco, the Desert, Timbuctoo, and Jenne, having a profit levied upon them at every transfer. Modibinne expressed satisfaction both with the reasons and with the presents; and on his return next day offered, on the part of Mansong, the option of building a boat either at Samee, Sego, Sansanding, or Jenne. Park chose Sansanding, thus enabling the king to avoid a personal interview with the Europeans, of which he seemed to entertain so mysterious a dread.

The voyage down the river was distressing; for, though the fatigue of travelling was avoided, the heat was so intense that it was thought sufficient to have roasted a sirloin : and the sick had thus no chance of recovery. Sansanding was found a prosperous and flourishing town, with a crowded market remarkably well-arranged. The leading articles,

[ocr errors]

which were cloth of Houssa or Jenne, antimony, beads, and indigo, were each arranged in stalls, shaded by mats from the heat of the sun. There was a separate market for salt, the main staple of their trade. The whole presented a scene of commercial order and activity totally unlooked for in the interior of Africa.

Mansong had promised to furnish two boats; but they were late in arriving, and proved very defective. In order to raise money, it was necessary to sell a considerable quantity of goods. Nor was it without much trouble that the two skiffs were finally converted into the schooner Joliba, forty feet long, six broad, and drawing only one foot of water, the fittest form for navigating the Niger downward to the ocean.

During Park's stay at Sansanding he had the misfortune to lose his brother-in-law, Mr. Anderson, to whom his attachment was so strong as to make him say," No event which took place during the journey ever threw the smallest gloom over my mind till I laid Mr. Anderson in the grave. I then felt myself as if left a second time lonely and friendless amid the wilds of Africa." Though the party was now reduced to five Europeans, one of whom was deranged, and though the most gloomy anticipations could not fail to arise in the mind of our traveller, his firmness was in no degree shaken. He announced to Lord Camden his fixed purpose to discover the termination of the Niger, or to perish in the attempt; adding, "Though all the Europeans who are with me should die, and though I were myself half-dead, I would still persevere." To Mrs. Park he announced the same determination, combined with an undoubting confidence of success; and the commencement of his voyage down the Niger, through the vast unknown regions of Interior Africa, he called "turning his face towards England."

It was on the 17th November, 1805, that Park set sail on his last and fatal voyage. A long interval elapsed without any tidings, which, considering the great distance and the many causes of delay, did not at first excite alarm in his friends. As the following year, however, passed on, rumours of an unpleasant nature began to prevail. Alarmed by these, and feeling a deep interest in his fate, Governor Maxwell of Sierra Leone engaged Isaaco the guide, who

had been sent to the Gambia with despatches from the Niger, to undertake a fresh journey to inquire after him. At Sansanding, Isaaco was so far fortunate as to meet Amadi Fatouma, who had been engaged to succeed himself as interpreter. From him he received a journal purporting to contain the narrative of the voyage down the river, and of its final issue. The party, it would appear, had purchased three slaves, who, with the five Europeans and Fatouma, increased their number to nine. They passed Silla and Jenne in a friendly manner; but at Rakbara (Kabra) and Timbuctoo several armed parties came out to attack them, who were repelled only by a smart and destructive fire. No particulars are given of any of those important places; nor of Kaffo, Gotoijege, and others, which the discoverers are represented as having afterward passed. At length they came to the village (more properly city) of Yaour, where Amadi Fatouma left the party, his services having been engaged only to that point. He had, however, scarcely taken his leave, when he was summoned before the king, who bitterly complained that the white men, though they brought many valuable commodities with them, had passed without giving him any presents. He therefore ordered that Fatouma should be thrown into irons, and a body of troops sent in pursuit of the English. These men reached Boussa, and took possession of a pass,, where rocks, hemming in the river, allow only a narrow channel for vessels to descend. When Park arrived, he found the passage thus obstructed, but attempted, nevers theless, to push his way through. "The people began to attack him, throwing lances, pikes, arrows, and stones. He defended himself for a long time; when two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed. The crew threw every thing they had into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers and fatigue, and unable to keep up the canoe against the current, and seeing no probability of escaping, Mr. Park took hold of one of the white men, and jumped into the water. Martyn did the same, and they were all drowned in the stream in attempting to escape. The only slave that remained in the boat, seeing the natives persist in throwing weapons into it without ceasing, stood up and said to them,-Stop throwing now; you see nothing in the canoe, and nobody but

Κ

myself; therefore cease. Take me and the canoe, but don't kill me.' They took possession of both, and carried them to the king."

These sad tidings, conveyed in course to England, were not for a long time received with general belief. The statement, being sifted with care, was thought to contain inconsistencies, as well as such a degree of improbability as left some room for hope. But, as year after year elapsed, this hope died away; and Denham and Clapperton, in their late expedition, received accounts from various_quarters which very nearly coincided with those of Amadi Fatouma. Park's adventures, they found, had excited the deepest interest throughout Africa. Clapperton in his last journey even saw the spot where he perished, which, allowing for some exaggeration, did not ill correspond with the description just given. Nay, he received notice, as we shall hereafter see, that Park's manuscripts were in the possession of the king or chief of Yaour or Youri, who offered to deliver them up on condition that the captain would pay him a visit, which he unfortunately was never able to perform.

CHAPTER X.

Various Travellers-Horneman, Nicholls, Roentgen, Adams,

Riley.

IT has been thought advisable to trace without interrup、 tion the interesting career of Park from its commencement to its close. Between his two expeditions, however, there intervened another, which appeared to open under very favourable auspices. Frederic Horneman, a student of the university of Gottingen, communicated to Blumenbach, the celebrated professor of natural history, his ardent desire to explore the interior of Africa under the auspices of the Association. Blumenbach transmitted to that body a strong recommendation of Horneman, as a young man, active, athletic, temperate, knowing sickness only by name, and of respectable literary and scientific attainments Sir

Joseph Banks immediately wrote, "If Mr. Horneman be really the character you describe, he is the very person whom we are in search of." On receiving this encouragement, Horneman immediately applied his mind to the study of natural history and the Arabic language, and otherwise sought to fit himself for supporting the character, which he intended to assume, of an Arab and a Moslem, under which he hoped to escape the effects of that ferocious bigotry which had opposed so fatal a bar to the progress of his predecessors.

In May, 1797, Horneman repaired to London, where his appointment was sanctioned by the Association; and having obtained a passport from the Directory, who then governed France, he visited Paris, and was introduced to some leading members of the National Institute. He reached Egypt in September, spent ten days at Alexandria, and set out for Cairo, to wait the departure of the Rashna caravan. The interval was employed in acquiring the language of the Mograbin Arabs, a tribe bordering on Egypt. While he was at Cairo, tidings arrived of Buonaparte's having landed in that country, when the just indig nation of the natives vented itself upon all Europeans, and among others on Horneman, who was arrested and confined in the castle. He was relieved upon the victorious entry of the French commander, who immediately set him at liberty, and very liberally offered money and every other supply which might contribute to the success of his mission.

It was the 5th of September, 1798, before Horneman could find a caravan proceeding to the westward, when he joined the one destined for Fezzan. The travellers soon passed the cultivated land of Egypt, and entered on an expanse of sandy waste, such as the bottom of the ocean might exhibit if the waters were to retire. This desert was covered with the fragments, as it were, of a petrified forest; large trunks, branches, twigs, and even pieces of bark, being scattered over it. Sometimes these stony remains were brought in by mistake as fuel. When the caravan halted for the night, each individual dug a hole in the sand, gathered a few sticks, and prepared his victuals after the African fashion of kouskous, soups, or puddings. Horneman, according to his European habits, at first employed the services of another; but finding himself thus exposed to con

« AnteriorContinua »