« AnteriorContinua »
but soon became so ill that he could scarcely be conveyed to the vessel. On reaching it, a sad scene awaited the sur vivors. Cranch, Tudor, and Galwey were no more; they had successively sunk under the weight of disease. Mr. Smith soon shared their fate; and Captain Tuckey himself, on the 4th October, added one more to the number of deaths, without having suffered the usual attack of fever. He had been exhausted constant depression and mental anxiety.
From this unhappy expedition, however, some information was obtained respecting a part of Africa which had not been visited for several centuries. No trace, indeed, was seen of the great kingdoms, or of the cities and armies described by the Portuguese missionaries; so that, though the interior may very probably be more populous than the banks of the river, there must, in these pious narratives, have been much exaggeration. The largest towns, or rather villages, did not contain above a hundred houses, with five or six hundred inhabitants. They were governed by chenoos, or hereditary chiefs, having a power nearly absolute, and by mafooks under them, who were chiefly employed in the collection of revenue. The people are merry, idle, goodhumoured, hospitable, and liberal, with rather an innocent and agreeable expression of countenance. The greatest blemish in their character appears in the treatment of the female sex, on whom they devolve all the laborious duties of life, even more exclusively than is usual among negro tribes; holding their virtue also in such slender esteem, that the greatest chiefs unblushingly made it an object of traffic. Upon this head, however, they have evidently learned much evil from their intercourse with Europeans. -The character of the vegetation, and the general aspect of nature, are pretty nearly the same on the Congo as on the other African rivers.
Meantime the other part of the expedition under Major Peddie, whose destination it was to descend the Niger, arrived at the mouth of the Senegal. Instead of the beaten track along the banks of that river, or of the Gambia, he preferred the route through the country of the Foulahs, which, though nearer, was more difficult and less explored. On the 17th November, 1816, he sailed from the Senegal, and on 14th December, the party, consisting of 100 men and 200 animals, landed at Kakundy, on the Rio Nunez;
but before they could begin their march, Major Peddie was attacked with fever and died. Captain Campbell, on whom the command devolved, proceeded in the line proposed, till he arrived at a small river called the Panietta, on the frontier of the Foulah territory. By this time many of the beasts of burden had sunk, and great difficulty was found in obtaining a sufficient supply of provisions. The king of the Foulahs, on being asked for permission to pass through his territories, seemed alarmed at hearing of so large a body of foreigners about to enter his country. He contrived, under various pretexts, to detain them on the frontier four months, during which their stock of food and clothing gradually diminished, while they were suffering all the evils that arise from a sickly climate and a scanty supply of necessaries. At length their situation became such as to place them under the absolute necessity of returning; and all their animals being dead, it was necessary to hire the natives to carry their baggage,—an expedient which gave occasion to frequent pillage. They reached Kakundy with the loss only of Mr. Kummer the naturalist; but Captain Campbell, overcome with sickness and exertion, died two days after, on the 13th of June, 1817 The command was then transferred to Lieutenant Stokoe, a spirited young naval officer, who had joined the expedition as a volunteer. He formed a new scheme for proceeding into the interior; but unhappily he also sunk under the climate and the fatigues of the journey.
A sentence of death seemed pronounced against all who should attempt to penetrate the African continent; and yet there were still daring spirits who did not shrink from the undertaking. Captain Gray, of the Royal African Corps, who had accompanied the last-mentioned expedition under Major Peddie and Captain Campbell, undertook, in 1818, to perform a journey by Park's old route along the Gambia. He reached, without any obstacle, Boolibani, the capital of Bondou, where he remained from the 20th June, 1818, to the 22d May, 1819; but owing to the jealousy of the monarch, he was permitted to proceed no farther. With some difficulty he reached Gallam, where he met Staff-surgeon Dockard, who had gone forward to Sego to ask permission to proceed through Bambarra, a request which had also been evaded. The whole party then returned to Senegal.
In 1821, Major Laing was sent on a mission from Sierra Leone, through the Timannee, Kooranko, and Soolima countries, with the view of forming some commercial arrangements. On this journey he found reason to believe that the source of the Niger lay much farther to the south than Park had supposed. At Falaba, he was assured that it might have been reached in three days, had not the Kissi nation, in whose territory it was situated, been at war with the Soolimanas, with whom Major Laing then resided. He was inclined to fix the source of this great river a very little above the ninth degree of latitude.
The British government were, meantime, indefatigable in their endeavours to find out other channels for exploring the interior of Africa. The bashaw of Tripoli, though he had usurped the throne by violent means, showed a disposition to improve his country by admitting the arts and learning of Europe; while the judicious conduct of Consul Warrington inclined him to cultivate the friendship of Britain. Through his tributary kingdom of Fezzan he held close and constant communication with Bornou and the other
leading states of entral Africa; and he readily undertook to promote the views of any English expedition which might proceed in that direction. Such an opportunity was not to be lost. The usual means were supplied by the ministry, and the ordinary inducements held forth by the Association. Mr. Ritchie, a young man of scientific acquirements and zeal for discovery, undertook the direction of this adventure. Captain Marrayat of the navy proposed to accompany him; but, being prevented by private considerations, his place was taken by Lieutenant Lyon, who, as a naval officer, was expected to be useful in navigating the Niger when the party should reach that river. The mission were perfectly well received at Tripoli, and set out on the 22d March, 1819, for Fezzan, with Mukni, the sultan, who gave them the most solemn assurances of protection. This chief, however, was a ruffian, who had made his way to power by the massacre of the late sovereign and his brother, and who supported his favour at Tripoli by annual slave-hunts, which he extended over the whole Desert to the frontier of Soudan. Thus he brought annually to Tripoli 4000 or 5000 of those unhappy victims, a large proportion of whom were bestowed in presents to his liege lord. Under
such guardianship the mission could not be sure of that support of which they soon stood very much in need. Mourzouk was found extremely unhealthy, being intensely hot, and surrounded by pools of stagnant water, which rendered even the natives liable to fever and ague. The members of the expedition soon felt its effects, Lieutenant Lyon being seized with dysentery, and Mr. Ritchie with bilious fever, under which they languished during the whole summer. The treacherous Mukni not only withheld all aid, but studiously prevented others from giving them assistance. At length Mr. Ritchie, overwhelmed by disease and anxiety, died on the 20th November, 1819; after which Mr. Lyon found himself without the means of penetrating farther than to the southern frontier of Fezzan. He obtained indeed a good deal of information respecting the remoter countries, which, however, has been rendered less important by the fuller and more recent intelligence received through Denham and Clapperton. He passes a very unfavourable judgment upon the territory of Fezzan, which he considers nearly as barren as any part of the surrounding Desert. The cultivation is confined to a few gardens, into which water is raised by immense labour from wells of considerable depth.
Journey of Denham and Clapperton.
NOTHING Could shake the determination of the British government to obtain, by some means or other, a competent degree of information respecting the unknown countries of Africa. The great favour and influence enjoyed at the court of Tripoli was still regarded as a favourable circumstance. It was chiefly due, as already observed, to the prudence and ability of Mr. Warrington, without whose advice scarcely any thing of importance was transacted. The bashaw was therefore disposed to renew his protection to any mission which Britain might send. Nor could the protec
tion of any sovereign have been more efficient; for the influence of this petty prince and the terror of his name are almost unbounded in the greatest kingdoms of Central Africa. One weapon, the gun, in the hands of his troops, gives him all this superiority; for the remoter nations, from the Nile to the Atlantic, scarcely know any other arms besides the spear, the bow, and the javelin. A musket among those tribes is an object of almost supernatural dread; individuals have been seen kneeling down before it, speaking to it in whispers, and addressing to it earnest supplications. With troops thus armed, the bashaw of Tripoli is esteemed in Northern Africa the most potent monarch on earth; and it is a matter of surprise among the natives that he has not ere now compelled all Europe to embrace the Mohammedan faith. He could therefore assure the English, that for any but physical obstacles, they might travel as safely from Tripoli to Bornou, as from Edinburgh to London.
Under the confidence inspired by these circumstances, government prepared another expedition, and without difficulty procured a fresh band of adventurers, who undertook to brave all its perils. Major Denham, Lieutenant Clapperton of the navy, and Dr. Oudney, a naval surgeon pos sessing a considerable knowledge of natural history, were appointed to this service. Without delay they proceeded to Tripoli, where they arrived on the 18th November, 1821. They were immediately introduced to the bashaw, whom they found sitting cross-legged on a carpet, attended by armed negroes. After treating them to sherbet and coffee, he invited them to a hawking party, where he appeared mounted on a milk-white Arabian steed superbly caparisoned, having a saddle of crimson velvet richly studded with gold nails, and with embroidered trappings. He was preceded by six chaoushes, or officers, in white silk robes; while two favourite negro slaves, in glittering vest, light burnouse, and white turban, supported him on each side. The hunt began on the borders of the Desert, where parties of six or eight Arabs dashed forwards quick as lightning, fired suddenly, and rushed back with loud cries. The skill with which they manœuvred their steeds, whirling the long musket over their heads as they rode at full gallop, appeared quite surprising.
Although the English were personally well treated at Tri