Imatges de pàgina

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they fancy, has then found himself mistaken in his choice, and has rudely thrown them back to the place whence he had withdrawn them.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. Sau gnier, who undertook a voyage thither, to have been very profitable when carried on with success. 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, espe cially 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 merchandise 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 insen.

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sibly, 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 extremities 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 geogra phical 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, afterward 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 with the requisite qualifications to engage in journeys so long and beset with so many perils; yet such is the native enterprise of Britons, that men eminently fitted for the task presented themselves, even in greater numbers than the society could receive.

The first adventurer was Mr. Ledyard, who, born a traveller, had spent his life in passing from one extremity of the earth to another. He had sailed round the world with Captain Cook, had lived for several years among the American Indians, and had made a journey with the most scanty means from Stockholm round the gulf of Bothnia, and thence to the remotest parts of Asiatic Russia. On his return he presented himself to Sir Joseph Banks, to whom he owed many obligations, just as that eminent person was looking out for an African discoverer. He immediately pronounced Ledyard to be the very man he wanted, and recommended him to Mr. Beaufoy, who was struck with his fine countenance, frank conversation, and an eye expressive of determined enterprise. Ledyard declared this scheme to be quite in unison with his own wishes; and on being asked how soon he could set out, replied, "To-morrow." Affairs were not yet quite so matured; but he was soon after provided with a passage to Alexandria, with the view of first proceeding southward from Cairo to Sennaar, and thence traversing the entire breadth of the African continent. He arrived at Cairo on the 19th August, 1788, and while pre paring for his journey into the interior, transmitted some bold, original, though somewhat fanciful observations upon Egypt. He represents the Delta as an unbounded plain of excellent land miserably cultivated; the villages as most wretched assemblages of poor mud-huts, full of dust, fleas, flies, and all the curses of Moses; and the people as below the rank of any savages he ever saw, wearing only a blue

shirt and drawers, and tattooed as much as the South Sea islanders. He bids his correspondents, if they wish to see Egyptian women, to look at any group of gipsies behind a hedge in Essex. The Mohammedans he describes as a trading, enterprising, superstitious, warlike set of vaga bonds, who, wherever they are bent upon going, will and do go; but he complains that the condition of a Frank is rendered most humiliating and distressing by the furious bigotry of the Turks. It seemed inconceivable that such enmity should exist among men, and that beings of the same species should think and act in a manner so opposite. By conversing with the jelabs, or slave-merchants, he learned a good deal respecting the caravan-routes and countries of the interior. Every thing seemed ready for his departure, and he announced that his next communication would be from Sennaar; but, on the contrary, the first tidings received were those of his death. Some delays in the departure of the caravan, working upon his impatient spirit, brought on a bilious complaint, to which he applied rash and violent remedies, and thus reduced himself to a state from which the care of Rossetti, the Venetian consul, and the skill of the best physicians of Cairo, sought in vain to deliver him.

The society had, at the time they engaged Ledyard, entered into terms with Mr. Lucas, a gentleman who, being captured in his youth by a Sallee rover, had been three years a slave at the court of Morocco, and after his deliverance had been employed as vice-consul in that empire. Having spent sixteen years there, he had acquired an intimate knowledge of Africa and its languages. He was sent, by way of Tripoli, with instructions to accompany the caravan, which is understood to take the most direct route into the interior of the continent. Being provided with letters from the Tripolitan ambassador, he obtained the bey's permission, and even promises of assistance, for this expedition. At the same time he made an arrangement with two Shereefs, or descendants of the prophet, under which character their persons are sacred, to join a caravan of which they intended to make a part. He proceeded with them to Mesurata; but the Arabs in the neighbourhood, being in a state of rebellion, refused to furnish camels and guides, which, indeed, could scarcely be expected, as the bey had

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