Imatges de pÓgina

he seemed invested with a sacred character,-a man ear. nestly entreating a lock of his hair to be used as a saphie or charm; and receiving permission to cut it off, he contrived to crop completely one side of the head. Proceeding towards Sego, he joined on the road several small negro parties; but, as the country became more populous, hospitality was less common. In Moorja, however, though mostly peopled by Mohammedans, he found gayety and abundance. He next passed through several towns and villages, which, in the late war, had been systematically destroyed; the large bentang tree under which the inhabitants used to meet had been cut down, the wells were filled up, and every thing done which could render the neighbourhood uninhabitable. He passed also a coffle, or caravan, of about seventy slaves tied together by the neck with thongs of bullocks' hide, seven slaves upon each thong. His horse was now so completely worn out, that, instead of attempting to ride, he was content to drive it before him. Being also barefooted, and in the most miserable plight, he afforded a subject of merriment to the natives, who asked if he had been travelling to Mecca, and made ironical proposals for the purchase of his horse; even the slaves were ashamed to be seen in his company.

At length, the near approach to Sego was indicated by crowds hastening to its market; and Mr. Park was told that on the following day, the 21st July, that primary object of his search, the Joliba or Great Water, would appear before him. He passed a sleepless night, but, starting before daybreak, he had the satisfaction, at eight o'clock, to see the smoke rising over Sego. He overtook some former fellowtravellers, and, in riding through a piece of marshy ground, one of them called out, geo affilli (see the water), and looking forwards, “I saw," says he, "with infinite pleasure, the great object of my mission, the long-sought-for majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. I hastened to the brink, and having drunk of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the Great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavours with


Mr. Park now saw before him Sego, the capital of the kingdom of Bambarra. It consisted of four separate towna,

two on each side of the river, surrounded with high mudwalls, the houses, though only of clay, neatly whitewashed, the streets commodious, with mosques rising in every quarter. The place was estimated to contain about thirty thousand inhabitants. The numerous canoes on the river, the crowded population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, presented altogether an appearance of civilization and magnificence little expected in the bosom of Africa. The traveller sought a passage to Segosee-Korro, the quarter where the king resided; but, owing to the crowd of passengers, he was detained two hours; during which time his majesty was apprized that a white man, poorly equipped, was about to pass the river to seek an audience. A chief was immediately sent, with an express order that the traveller should not cross without his majesty's permission, and pointed to a village at some distance, where it was recommended that the stranger should pass the night. Park, not a little disconcerted, repaired to the village; but as the order had not been accompanied with any provision for his reception, he found every door shut. Turning his horse loose to graze, he was preparing, as a security from wild beasts, to climb a tree and sleep among the branches, when a beautiful and affecting incident occurred, which gives a most pleasing view of the negro character. An old woman, returning from the labours of the field, cast on him a look of compassion, and desired him to follow her. She led him to an apartment in her hut, procured a fine fish, which she broiled for his supper, and spread a mat for him to sleep upon. She then desired her maidens, who had been gazing in fixed astonishment at the white man, to resume their tasks, which they continued to ply through a great part of the night. They cheered their labours with a song which must have been composed extempore, since Mr. Park, with deep emotion, discovered that he himself was the subject of it. It said, in a strain of affecting simplicity," The winds roared, and the rains fell. The poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him milk, no wife to grind his corn.-Chorus-Let us pity the white man, no mother has he," &c. Our traveller was much affected, and next morn. ing could not depart without requesting his landlady's ac ceptance of the only gift he had left, two out of the four brass buttons that still remained on his waistcoat.

He remained two days in this village, during which he understood that he was the subject of much deliberation at court, the Moors and slave-merchants giving the most unfavourable reports of his character and purposes. A messenger came and asked if he had any present, and seemed much disappointed on being told that the Moors had robbed him of every thing. On the second day appeared another envoy, bearing an injunction from Mansong that the stranger should not enter Sego, but proceed forthwith on his journey; to defray the expenses of which, a bag, containing 5000 cowries, was delivered to him. Mr. Park estimates this sum at only twenty shillings; but according to the rate of provisions, it was worth much more, being sufficient to maintain, for fifty days, himself and his horse.

Two days brought our traveller to Sansanding, a large town with 10,000 inhabitants. He hoped to enter unnoticed, finding himself mistaken by the negroes for a Moor. Being taken, however, before Counti Mamadi, the dooty, or chief magistrate, he found a number of Mohammedans, who denied the supposed national connexion, and regarded him with their usual hatred and suspicion. Several even pretended they had seen him before, and one woman swore that she had kept his house three years at Gallam. The dooty put a negative on their proposition of dragging him by force to the mosque; but they climbed over in great numbers into the court where he had taken up his quarters for the night, insisting that he should perform his evening devotions, and eat eggs. The first proposal was positively declined; but the second he professed his utmost readiness to comply with. The eggs were accordingly brought, but raw, as the natives imagined it a part of European depravity to be fond of them in that state. His reluctance to eat raw eggs exalted him in the eyes of his sage visitants; his host accordingly killed a sheep, and gave him a plentiful supper.

His route now lay through woods, grievously infested with all kinds of wild animals. His guide suddenly wheeled his horse round, calling out " Wara billi billi !—a very large lion!" Mr. Park's steed was ill fitted to convey him from the scene of danger; but, seeing nothing, he supposed his guide mistaken, when the latter exclaimed, "God preserve me!" and the traveller then saw a very large red lion, with the head couched between the fore-paws. His eyes were fixed as by fascination on this soverei n of the beasts, and he

expected every moment the fatal spring; but the savage animal, either not pressed by hunger or struck with some mysterious awe, remained immoveable, and allowed the party to pass unmolested. Real misery arose from a meaner cause, namely, the amazing swarms of mosquitoes which ascend from the swamps and creeks, and to whose attack, from the ragged state of his garments, he was exposed at every point. He was covered all over with blisters, and at night could get no rest. An affecting crisis next arrived His horse, the faithful and suffering companion of his jour ney, had been daily becoming weaker. At length, stumbling over some rough ground, he fell all his master's efforts were insufficient to raise him, and no alternative remained but to leave the poor animal; which, after collecting some grass and laying it before him, Mr. Park did, not without a sad presentiment that, ere long, he himself might in like manner lie down and perish with hunger and fatigue.

He now resolved to hire a boat, in which he was conveyed up the river to Silla, another large town, where his reception was so inhospitable that the dooty reluctantly permitted him to take shelter from the rain in a damp shed. Half naked, worn down by fatigue and sickness, and foreseeing the approach of the rains by which the whole country would be inundated, Mr. Park began seriously to contem plate his situation. All the obstacles now stated were small, when compared to the fact, that, in proceeding eastward, he would still be within the range of Moorish influ ence. He learned, that at Jenne, though included in Bam barra, the municipal power was chiefly in the hands of these savage and merciless fanatics, who, at Timbuctoo also, held the entire sway. On these grounds he felt con vinced that certain destruction awaited him in his progress eastward; that all his discoveries would perish with himself; and that his life would be sacrificed in vain. His only hope, and it was but faint, of ever reaching England, depended upon his return westward, and on his proceeding by the most direct route to the coast. On this course he deter mined,―a decision which was fully approved both by his employers and by the public.

During his stay at Silla, he used every effort to obtain information respecting the more eastern countries, particu larly the kingdom of Timbuctoo, and the course of tho

Niger. He was told that the next great city along that river was Jenne, which was represented as very flourishing, and larger than Sego or any other place in Bambarra. Lower down, the river spread into an expanse, called Dibbie or the Dark Lake, so extensive that, in crossing it, the canoes for a whole day lost sight of land. On the eastern side the Niger issued out of this lake in two large branches, enclosing the alluvial country of Jinbala, when they again united in one channel, which flowed on to Kabra, the port of Timbuctoo. That town, situated a day's journey north from the Niger, was described to Mr. Park as the great centre of the commerce carried on between the Moors and negroes, by means of which the former people had filled it with Mohammedan converts; it was added, that the king and his principal officers belonged to this faith, which was professed there with even more than the usual bigotry. An old negro related, that, on his entering a public inn, the landlord laid on the floor a mat and a rope, saying, "If you are a Mussulman, you are my friend, sit down on this mat; if not, you are my slave, and with this rope I will lead you to market." The king, named Abu Abrahima, was clothed in silk, lived in great pomp, and possessed immense riches. There has since appeared reason to suspect that, in these reports, both the bigotry and the splendour of Timbuctoo were some what exaggerated. Beyond this city, eastward, there was said to be a great kingdom called Houssa, with a capital of the same name, situated on the Niger. This also was somewhat inaccurate. There is no city called Houssa; and the term is applied, not to a kingdom, but to an extensive region comprehending many principalities, and through which the Niger does not pass.

Having formed his resolution, he forthwith began his return to the westward, and at Modiboo met with an unexpected and rather pleasing occurrence. While he was conversing with the dooty, a horse was heard to neigh; upon which the magistrate asked, smiling, if he knew who was speaking to him-and presently going out, led in the traveller's own horse, greatly recruited by rest. Mr. Park at first drove the animal before him, but afterward mounted, and found him of great benefit in passing the swamps and swollen rivulets which obstructed his route. He soon learned that dangers, even greater than he was aware of, had beset his

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