Imatges de pÓgina

tween them are truly terrible. Their masters loudly cheer them on, offering high premiums for victory, and sometimes threatening instant death in case of defeat. They place their trust, not in science, but in main strength and rapid movements. Occasionally the wrestler, eluding his adversary's vigilance, seizes him by the thigh, lifts him up into the air, and dashes him against the ground. When the match is decided, the victor is greeted with loud plaudits by the spectators, some of whom even testify their admiration by throwing to him presents of fine cloth. He then kneels before his master, who not unfrequently bestows upon him a robe worth thirty or forty dollars, taken perhaps from his own person. Death or maiming, however, is no unfrequent result of these encounters. The ladies, even of rank, engage in another very odd species of contest. Placing themselves back to back, they cause particular parts to strike together with the most violent collision, when she who maintains her equilibrium, while the other lies stretched on the ground, is proclaimed victor with loud cheers. In this conflict the girdle of beads worn by the more opulent females very frequently bursts, when these ornaments are seen flying about in every direction. To these elegant recreations is added gaming, always the rage of uncultivated minds. Their favourite game is one rudely played with beans, by means of holes made in the sand.

Boo Khalloom, having despatched his affairs in Bornou, wished to turn his journey to some farther account, and proposed an expedition into the more wealthy and commercial region of Houssa or Soudan; but the eager wishes of his followers pointed to a different object. They called upon him to lead


them into the mountains of Mandara in the south, to attack a village of the kerdies, or unbelievers, and carry off the people as slaves to Fezzan. He long stood out against this nefarious proposal; but the sheik, who also had his own views, took part against him; even his own brother joined the malecontents, and at length there appeared no other mode in which he could return with equal credit and profit. Influenced by these inducements, he suffered his better judgment to be overpowered, and determined to conduct his troop upon this perilous and guilty excursion. Major Denham, allowing his zeal for discovery to overcome other considerations, contrived, notwithstanding the prohibition of the sheik, to be one of the party. They were accompanied by Barca Gana, the principal general, a negro of huge strength and great courage, along with other warriors, and a large body of Bornou cavalry. These last are a fine military body in point of external appearance. Their persons are covered with iron plate and mail, and they manage, with surprising dexterity, their little active steeds, which are also supplied with defensive armour. They have one fault only, but that a serious one, they cannot stand the shock of an enemy. While the contest continues doubtful, they hover round as spectators, ready, should the tide turn against them, to spur on their coursers to a rapid flight; but if they see their friends victorious, and the enemy turning their backs, they come forward and display no small vigour in pursuit and plunder.

The road that led to Mandara formed a continued ascent through a fertile country which contained some populous towns. The path being quite

overgrown with thick and prickly underwood, twelve pioneers went forward with long poles, opening a track, pushing back the branches, and giving warning to beware of holes. These operations they accompanied with loud praises of Barca Gana, calling out," Who is in battle like the rolling of thunder? Barca Gana. In battle, who spreads terror around him like the buffalo in his rage? Barca Gana." Even the chiefs on this expedition carried no provisions except a paste of rice, flour, and honey, with which they contented themselves, unless when sheep could be procured; in which case half the animal, roasted over a frame-work of wood, was placed on the table, and the sharpest dagger present was employed in cutting it into large pieces, to be eaten without bread or salt. At length they approached Mora, the capital of Mandara. This was another kingdom which the energy of its present sultan had rescued from the yoke of the Fellata empire; and the strong position of its capital, enclosed by lofty ridges of hills, had enabled it to defy repeated attacks. It consists of a fine plain, bordered on the south by an immense and almost interminable range of mountains. The eminences directly in front were not quite so lofty as the hills of Cumberland, but bold, rocky, and precipitous, and distant summits appeared towering much higher, and shooting up a line of sharp pinnacles resembling the needles of Mont Blanc. It was reported, that two months were required to cross their greatest breadth and reach the other side, where they rose ten times higher, and were called large moon mountains. They there overlooked the plain of Adamowa, through which the Quolla (or Niger) was

said to flow from the westward. The hills immediately in view were thickly clustered with villages perched on their sides and even on their tops, and were distinctly seen from the plain of Mandara. They were occupied by half-savage tribes, whom the ferocious bigotry of the nations occupying the low country branded as pagans, and whom they claimed a right to plunder, seize, and drive in crowds for sale to the markets of Fezzan and Bornou. "The fires, which were visible in the different nests of these unfortunate beings, threw a glare upon the bold rocks and blunt promontories of granite by which they were surrounded, and produced a picturesque and somewhat awful appearance." A baleful joy gleamed in the visage of the Arabs as they eyed these abodes of their future victims, whom they already fancied themselves driving in bands across the Desert. A kerdy village to plunder was all their cry, and Boo Khalloom doubted not that he would be able to gratify their wishes. Their common fear of the Fellatas had united the Sultan of Mandara in close alliance with the sheik, to whom he had lately married his daughter; and the nuptials had been celebrated by a great slave-hunt among the mountains, when, after a dreadful struggle, three thousand captives, by their tears and bondage, furnished out the materials of a magnificent marriage-festival.

The expedition obtained a reception quite as favourable as had been expected. In approaching the capital they were met by the sultan with 500 Mandara horse, who, charging full speed, wheeled round them with the same threatening movements which had been exhibited at Bornou. The horses


were of a superior breed, most skilfully managed, and covered with cloths of various colours, as well as with skins of the leopard and tiger-cat. This cavalry made of course a very brilliant appearance; but the Major did not yet know that their valour was exactly on a level with that of their Bornou allies. The party were then escorted to the capital, amid the music of long pipes like clarionets, and of two immense trumpets. They were introduced next day. The mode of approaching the royal residence is to gallop up to the gate with a furious speed, which often causes fatal accidents; and on this occasion a man was ridden down and killed on the spot. The sultan was found in a dark-blue tent, sitting on a mud-bench, surrounded by about 200 attendants, handsomely arrayed in silk and cotton robes. He was an intelligent little man, about fifty years old, with a beard dyed sky-blue. Courteous salutations were exchanged; during which he steadily eyed Major Denham, concerning whom he at last inquired; and the traveller was advantageously introduced as belonging to a powerful distant nation, allies of the Bashaw of Tripoli. At last, however, came the fatal question," Is he Moslem?-La! la !-no! no!-What! has the great Bashaw Caffre friends?"-Every eye was instantly averted; the sun of Major Denham's favour was set; and he was never more allowed to enter the palace.

The bigotry of this court seems to have surpassed even the usual bitterness of the African tribes, and our traveller had to undergo a regular persecution, carried on especially by Malem Chadily, the leading fighi or doctor of the court. As Major Denham

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