Imatges de pÓgina

nions; but when our countryman specified Nyffe on the banks of the Niger, Youri where the papers of Park were reported to be kept, Rakah and Fundah, where that river was said to fall into the sea, the courtiers began to demur. Professing tender solicitude for his safety, they represented that the season was becoming unfavourable, and that rebellion and civil war were raging to such a pitch in these countries as to make even the mighty protection of Sultan Bello insufficient for his security. Clapperton strongly suspected that this unfavourable change was produced by the machinations of the Arabs, and particularly of Mohammed Gomsoo, their chief, notwithstanding the warm professions of friendship made that personage. They apprehended, probably, that were a communication opened with the western coast, Interior Africa might be supplied with European goods by that shorter route, instead of being brought by themselves across the Desert. Perhaps these suspicions were groundless; for the state of the country was afterward found to be, if possible, worse than had been described, and the ravages of the Fellatas so terrible, that any one coming from among them was likely to experience a very disagreeable reception. Indeed, it may be suspected that the sultan must have been a good deal embarrassed by the simplicity with which his guest listened to his pompous boasting as to the extent of his empire, and by the earnestness with which he entreated him to name one of his seaports where the English might land, when it is certain that he had not a town which was not some hundred miles distant from the coast. To prevent the disclosure of this fact, which must have taken place had our traveller proceeded in that direction, might be an additional motive for refusing his sanction. In short, it was finally announced to Clapperton, that no escort could be found to accompany him on so rash an enterprise, and that he could return to England only by retracing his steps.

Here the traveller obtained an account of Mr. Park's death, very closely corresponding with the statement given by Amadi Fatouma. The Niger, it appears, called here the Quorra, after passing Timbuctoo, turns to the south, and continues to flow in that direction till it crosses the parallel of Sackatoo, at only a few days' journey to the westward; but whether it reaches the sea, or, making an immense cir


cuit, becomes the Shary, and pours itself into the immense basin of the Tchad, are points on which his informants varied greatly.

Returning by a different route, Mr. Clapperton visited Zirmie, the capital of Zamfra, a kind of outlawed city, the inhabitants of which are esteemed the greatest rogues in Houssa, and where all runaway slaves find protection. He passed also through Kashna or Cassina, the metropolis of a kingdom which, till the late rise of the Fellata power, had ruled over all Africa from Bornou to the Niger. In its present subject and fallen state, the inhabited part does not cover a tenth of the wide circuit enclosed by its walls; yet a considerable trade is still carried on with the Tuaricks, or with caravans coming across the Desert by the route of Ghadamis and Tuat. Here our traveller met with much kindness from Hadgi Ahmet, a powerful and wealthy Arab chief, who even took him into his seraglio, and desired him, out of fifty black damsels, to make his choice, a complaisance, nothing resembling which had ever before been shown by a Mussulman. But our countryman, being indisposed, only picked out an ancient maiden to serve as a nurse.

Mr. Clapperton rejoined Major Denham at Kouka, whence they set out, and recrossed the Desert together in the latter part of the year 1824. They reached Tripoli in January, 1825, and soon after embarked for Leghorn; but being detained by contrary winds and quarantine regula tions, did not reach London till the month of June.


Clapperton's Second Journey-Laing-Caillié.

Ir has appeared, that in spite of some occasional symptoms of jealousy, and even of alarm, the sultan of the Fellatas had manifested a very considerable inclination to cultivate intercourse with the English. He was even understood to have promised that messengers should be kept in waiting at Rakah and Fundah, or at some port on the coast,

to conduct a new mission to Sackatoo. These promises, it is extremely probable, were mere inferences drawn from the empty boasts of the sultan; he being master neither of Rakah nor Fundah, nor of any place within a great distance of the Gulf of Benin. Be this as it may, there seemed good ground to expect a welcome for the British envoys when they should reach his capital; and in that direction, it was conjectured, were to be found the termination of the Niger, and also the most direct channel of trade with regions already ascertained to be the finest in Africa.

These were views to which the enterprising statesmen who conducted the naval government at home were never insensible. They equipped afresh Mr. Clapperton, now promoted to the rank of captain, and sent him to the Gulf of Benin; naming as his associates, Captain Pearce, an excellent draftsman, and Mr. Morrison, a naval surgeon of some experience, whose skill, it was hoped, might be of great avail in preserving the health of the whole expedition.

The mission, in the end of 1825, reached its destination; but, as might perhaps have been anticipated, they could hear nothing of Rakah or of Fundah, of any messengers sent by Bello, nor of any town that was subject to him on this coast. They were not, however, discouraged; and having consulted Mr. Houtson, whom a long residence had made thoroughly acquainted with the country, they were advised not to attempt ascending the banks of the river,—a circuitous track, and covered with pestilential swamps,-but to take the route from Badagry as the most direct and commodious, and by which, in fact, almost all the caravans from Houssa come down to the coast.

On the 7th December, 1825, the mission set out from Badagry on this grand journey into Interior Africa. But at the very first they were guilty of a fatal imprudence. During the nights of the 7th and 9th they slept in the open air, and on the last occasion in the public market-place of Dagmoo, without even their beds, which had been sent away by mistake. The consequence was, that in a day or two Morrison and Pearce were attacked with a dangerous fever, and Clapperton with fits of ague. It does not appear why they did not stop in one of the towns, and endeavour by rest to recruit their strength; on the contrary, they pushed on till the 22d, when Captain Clapperton, seeing the illness of his

companions increase, urged them either to remain behind or return to Badagry. They insisted on proceeding; but next day Dr. Morrison could struggle no longer, and departed for the coast: he died before reaching it. Captain Pearce persevered to the last, and sunk on the road, breathing his last at nine in the evening of the 27th. Clapperton was thus left to pursue his long and adventurous journey in very painful and desolate circumstances. He had only a faithful servant, Richard Lander, who stood by him in all his fortunes, with Pascoe, a not very trusty African, whom he had hired at Badagry.

After a journey of sixty miles, the travellers entered the kingdom of Yarriba, called also from its capital Eyeo. This country had long been reported on the coast as the most populous, powerful, and flourishing of all Western Africa, holding even Dahomey in vassalage. It answered the most favourable descriptions given of it; the fields were extensively cleared, and covered with thriving plantations of Indian corn, millet, yams, and cotton. A loom nearly similar to that used in England was busily plied; the women were spinning and dyeing the cloths with their fine indigo. These African dames were also seen going from town to town bearing large burdens on their heads, an employment shared by the numerous wives of the king of Eyeo; their majesties having nothing to distinguish them from the humblest of their fellow-countrywomen. Amid these laudable occupations, they exercised their powers of speech with such incessant perseverance as to confirm the Captain in what appears to have been with him an old maxim, that no power on earth, not even African despotism, can silence a woman's tongue; yet, as this loquacity seems to have been always exerted in kindness, he need not, we think, have groaned quite so heavily under its stunning influence.

The English travellers were agreeably surprised by the reception which they experienced during this journey. In Houssa they had laboured under the most dire proscription as Caffres, enemies of the prophet, and foredoomed to hell; and, as black is there the standard of beauty, their colour was considered by the ladies a deep leprous deformity, detracting from every quality that might otherwise have been agreeable in their persons. With the negro and pagan Eyeos there was no religious enmity; and having under

stood, by reports from the coast, the superiority of Europeans in arts and wealth, this people viewed them almost as beings of a superior order, to see whom they felt an eager and friendly curiosity. A rumour had also spread that they came to do good, and to make peace wherever there was war. On entering any town they were soon encircled by thousands, all desirous to see white men, and testifying respect, the males by taking off their caps, the women by bending on their knees and one elbow. In some places singing and dancing were kept up through the whole night in celebration of their arrival.

The mission had now to cross a range of hills about eighty miles broad, reported to reach the whole way from behind Ashantee to Benin. The highest pinnacle was not supposed to exceed 2500 feet, which is a good deal lower than Skiddaw; but its passes were peculiarly narrow and rugged, hemmed in by gigantic blocks of granite 600 or 700 feet high, sometimes fearfully overhanging the road. The valley varied in breadth from 100 yards to half a mile; but every level spot, extending along the foot of these mountains, or even suspended amid their cliffs, was covered with fine crops of yams, millet, and cotton. A large population thus filled these alpine recesses, all animated with the most friendly spirit. Parties met the travellers on the road, or were stationed on the rocks and heights above, which echoed with choral songs and sounds of welcome. After ascending hill over hill they came to Chaki, a large and populous town, situated on the very summit of the ridge. Here the caboceer had a house and a large stock of provisions ready for them: he put many questions, and earnestly pleaded for a stay of two or three days.

After descending to the plain, and passing through a number of other towns, the party came to Tshow, where a ca boceer arrived from the king of Yarriba, with a numerous train of attendants both on foot and horseback. This chief, having shaken hands with them, immediately rubbed his whole body, that the blessing of their touch might be spread all over him. His people kept up through the night a constant hubbub,-singing, drumming, dancing, and firing; and, claiming free quarters, they devoured such a quantity of provisions that the party fared worse than in any other place. Next morning they set out with a crowded escort

« AnteriorContinua »