Imatges de pàgina

declined to grant them a safe-conduct through his territories. Mr. Lucas was therefore obliged to return to Tripoli, without being able to penetrate farther into the continent. He learned, however, from Imhammed, one of the Shereefs, who had been an extensive traveller, a variety of particulars respecting the interior regions. The society had at the same time made very particular inquiries of Ben Ali, a Morocco caravan trader, who happened to be in London. From these two sources Mr. Beaufoy was enabled to draw up a view of Central Africa; very imperfect indeed, yet superior to any that had ever before appeared.

According to the statements thus obtained, Bornou and Kashna were the most powerful states in that part of the continent, and formed even empires holding sway over a number of tributary kingdoms;—a statement at that time correct, though affairs have since greatly changed. The Kashna caravan often crossed the Niger, and went onwards to great kingdoms beyond the Gold Coast, Gongah or Kong, Asiente or Ashantee, Yarba or Yarriba, through which last Clapperton recently travelled. Several extensive routes across the Desert were also delineated. In regard to the Niger, the report of Imhammed revived the error which represented that river as flowing westward towards the Atlantic. The reason on which this opinion was founded will appear when we observe, that it was in Kashna that Ben Ali considered himself as having crossed that river. His Niger, then, was the Quarrama or river of Zirmie, which flows westward through Kashna and Sackatoo, and is only a tributary to the Quorra or great river, which we call the Niger. He describes the stream as very broad and rapid, probably from having seen it during the rainy season, when all the tropical rivers that are of any magnitude assume an imposing appearance.

Mr. Lucas made no farther effort to penetrate into Africa. The next expedition was made by a new agent, and from a different quarter. Major Houghton, who had resided for some time as consul at Morocco, and afterward in a military capacity at Goree, undertook the attempt to reach the Niger by the route of the Gambia, not, like Jobson and Stibbs, ascending its stream in boats, but travelling singly and by land. He seems to have been endowed with a gay, active, and sanguine spirit, fitted to carry him through the

boldest undertakings, but without that cool and calculating temper which is necessary for him who endeavours to make his way amid scenes of peril and treachery. He began his journey early in 1791, and soon reached Medina, the ca pital of Woolli, where the venerable chief received him with extreme kindness, promised to furnish guides, and assured him that he might go to Timbuctoo with his staff in his hand. The only evil that befell him at Medina arose from a fire which broke out there, and spreading rapidly through buildings roofed with cane and matted grass, converted in an hour a town of a thousand houses into a heap of ashes. Major Houghton ran out with the rest of the people into the fields, saving only such few articles as could be carried with him. He writes, that by trading at Fattatenda a man may make 800 per cent., and may live in plenty on ten pounds a-year. Quitting the Gambia, he took the road through Bambouk, and arrived at Ferbanna on the Faleme. Here he was received with the most extraordinary kindness by the king, who gave him a guide and money to defray his expenses. A note was afterward received from him, dated Simbing, and which contained merely these words," Major Houghton's compliments to Dr. Laidley; is in good health on his way to Timbuctoo; robbed of all his goods by Fenda Bucar's son." This was the last communication from him; for soon afterward the negroes brought down to Pisania the melancholy tidings of his death, of which Mr. Park subsequently learned the par ticulars. Some Moors had persuaded the Major to accom pany them to Tisheet, a place in the Great Desert, frequented on account of its salt-mines. In alluring him thither, their object, as appears from the result, was to rob him; for it was very much out of the direct route to Timbuctoo. Of this in a few days he became sensible, and insisted upon returning; but they would not permit him to leave their party until after they had stripped him of every article in his possession. He wandered about for some time through the Desert without food or shelter, till, at length, quite exhausted, he sat down under a tree and expired. Mr. Park was shown the very spot where his re mains were abandoned to the fowls of the air.

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Park's First Journey.

As soon as the Association were informed of the fate of Major Houghton, they accepted the offered services of Mr. Mungo Park, a native of Scotland, regularly bred to the medical profession, and just returned from a voyage to India. The committee were satisfied that Mr. Park pos sessed the requisite qualifications, though they could not yet be aware of the full extent of his courage and perseverance, nor of the unrivalled eminence to which, as a tra veller, he was destined to rise under their auspices.

He set sail from Portsmouth on the 22d May, 1795, and on the 21st June arrived at Jillifree on the Gambia. He then proceeded to Pisania, in the fertile kingdom of Yani, where he was detained five months by illness under the hospitable roof of Dr. Laidley. While suffering from the fever of the climate, he acquired the Mandingo language, and obtained considerable information from the negro traders respecting the interior countries. The Gambia at this station was deep and muddy, overshadowed with impenetrable thickets of mangrove, and the stream filled with crocodiles and river-horses.

On the 2d of December, Mr. Park took his departure, attended only by a few negro servants. On the 5th, he arrived at Medina, where the good old king received him with the same hospitality he had so liberally shown to Major Houghton; but earnestly exhorted him to take warning from the fate of that too adventurous traveller, and go no farther. Mr. Park was not to be thus discouraged; but immediately proceeded to enter the great forest or wilderness which separates this country from Bondou. He conformed to the example of his companions in hanging a charm or shred of cloth upon a tree at its entrance, which was completely covered with those guardian symbols. In two days he had passed the wood, and found Bondou a fine cham paign country, watered by the Faleme. He had soon, how. ever, to encounter the perils which cannot but await every


single and defenceless traveller who, loaded with valuable goods, passes through a succession of petty kingdoms where law is unknown. At Fatteconda, which he reached on the 21st December, he was obliged to wait upon Almami the king, who had already disgraced himself by the plunder of Major Houghton. Being desirous to preserve a good new blue coat, Mr. Park deemed it the wisest plan to wear it on his person, fondly hoping that it would not be actually stripped off his back. However, after the introductory ceremonial, the king began a warm panegyric on the wealth and generosity of the whites, whence he proceeded to the praises of the coat and its yellow, buttons, concluding with expressing the delight with which he should wear it for the sake of his guest. He did not add, that if these hints were disregarded, it would be seized by force; but our traveller, being thoroughly convinced that such was his intention, pulled off the coat, of which he humbly requested his majesty's acceptance. The king then abstained from farther spoil, and introduced him as a curiosity to his female circle. The ladies, after a careful survey, approved of his external appearance, with the exception of the two deformities of a white skin and a high nose; but for these they made ample allowance, being blemishes produced by the false taste of his mother, who had bathed him in milk when young, and, by pinching his nose, elevated it into its present absurd height. Park flattered them on their jet-black skins and beautifully flattened noses; but was modestly warned that honey-mouth was not esteemed in Bondou.

Another forest intervened between that kingdom and Kajaaga, which he crossed by moonlight, when the deep silence of the woods was interrupted only by the howling of wolves and hyenas, which glided like shadows through the thickets. Scarcely was he arrived at Joag, in Kajaaga, when a party from Bacheri the king surrounded him, and declared his property forfeited, in consequence of having entered the country without payment of the duties. Thus he was stripped of all his goods except a small portion which he contrived to hide. Unable to procure a meal, he was sitting disconsolate under a bentang tree, when an aged female slave came up and asked if he had dined. Being told that he had not, and had been robbed of every thing, she presented several handfuls of nuts, and went off before

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