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Lander's Travels by Robert Huish

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Employed in the African Service:

_A Prefatory Analysis of the Previous Travels_
Into the hitherto unexplored Countries of Africa.


Author of the "Last Voyage of Capt. Sir John Ross, to the Arctic
Regions," "Memoirs of W. Cobbett, Esq." "Private and Political Life
of the late Henry Hunt, Esq." &c. &c. &c.


_(Printed for the Proprietors,)_




Many are the acquisitions which geography has made since the
boundaries of commerce have been extended, and the spirit of
enterprise has carried our adventurous countrymen into countries
which had never yet been indented by a European foot; and which, in
the great map of the world, appeared as barren and uninhabitable
places, destitute of all resources from which the traveller could
derive a subsistence. It must, however, on the other hand, be
admitted, that design has frequently had little to do in the
discovery of those countries, however well it may have been
conceived, and however great the perseverance may have been, which
was exhibited in the pursuit. The discovery of America was, indeed,
a splendid example of an enlightened conception, and an undaunted
heroism, crowned with the most complete success; and the laudable and
unabated ardour which this country, in despite of the most appalling
obstacles, has persisted in solving the great geographical problem of
the Course and Termination of the Niger, may be placed second in rank
to the discovery of America.

As long as any fact is shut out from the knowledge of man, he who is
in search of it will supply the deficiency by his own conclusions,
which will be more or less removed from the object of his pursuit,
according to the previous opinions which he may have formed, or to
the credit which he may have placed on the reports of others. These
remarks cannot be better illustrated, than in the case furnished by
the Joliba, the Quorra, or Niger, the termination of which river was
utterly unknown until Richard and John Lander, braving difficulties
which would have broken any other hearts than theirs, succeeded in
navigating the river until its conflux with the ocean. Since Park's
first discovery of the Joliba, every point of the compass has been
assumed for the ulterior course and termination of that river, and
however wrong subsequent discovery has proved this speculative
geography to have been, it is not to be regarded as useless. Theories
may be far short of the truth, but while they display the ingenuity
and reasoning powers of their authors, they tend to keep alive that
spirit of inquiry and thirst for knowledge which terminates in

Various accounts of this river had been gradually collected from
different sources, which afforded grounds for fresh theories
respecting its termination. That of Reichard was the favourite, he
supposing that it assumed a southwest course, and terminated in the
gulph of Guinea. It was observed at the time, that there was neither
evidence on which such an opinion could be supported, nor any by
which it could be refuted. Discovery has proved him to be right in
respect to its ultimate disposal; but at the same time, he
participated in the general error regarding its course to Wangara.
These different opinions appeared in several publications, in which,
as might be expected, much error was mixed up with the general
correctness. That the river flowed into the sea at Funda, was the
principal and chief point that was gained; but the most extraordinary
circumstance attending this discovery, was, that no one knew where
Funda was. The only exception to these was the theory of Major
Denham, supported by Sultan Bello's information, who continued its
easterly course below Boossa, and ended it in Lake Tchad.

Such was the uncertain condition in which the course of the Niger
remained, when the happy idea occurred of sending the Messrs. Landers
to follow its course below Boossa. By this step the British
government completed what it had begun, and accomplished in a few
months the work of ages.


Herodutus. Early History of Africa. Interior of Africa. Malte Brun.
Division of Africa. Early African Discoveries. Portuguese
Discoveries. Madeira. Island of Arguin. Bemoy. Prester John. Death of
Bemoy. Elmina. Ogane. John II. Lord of Guinea. Diego Cam. His return
to Congo. Catholic Missionaries. Acts of the Missionaries. Magical
Customs of the Natives. Expulsion of the Portuguese.

Expeditions of the English. Thompson. First Expedition of Jobson.
African Animals. Jobson's arrival at Tenda. Bukar Sano. Second
Expedition of Jobson. The Horey. Expedition of Vermuyden. Expedition
of Stibbs. Falls of Barraconda. Natives of Upper Gambia. Dangers from
the Elephants and Sea Horses. Travels of Jannequin.

African Association. Expedition of Ledyard. His Death. Expedition of
Lucas. Major Houghton. His Death.

CHAP V. [*]
Park's First Journey. Pisania. Dr. Laidley. Jindy. Mandingo Negroes.
Kootacunda. Woolli. Konjour. Membo Jumbo. Tallika. Ganado.
Kuorkarany. Fatteconda. Almami. Departure from Fatteconda. Joag.
Robbery of Mr. Park by the Natives. Demba Sego. Gungadi. Tesee.
Tigitty Sego. Anecdote of an African Wife. Kooniakary. Sambo Sego.

[Footnote: Chap. IV. was accidentally numbered Chap. V.]

King Semba. Sego Jalla. Salem Daucari. Route from Soolo to Feesurah.
Kemmoo. Kaarta. Koorabarri. Funing Kedy. Ali, King of Ludamar.
Sampaka. Arrival at the Camp of Ali. Conduct of the Moors. Robberies
of Ali. Illness of Mr. Park. Curiosity of the African Ladies.
Whirlwinds of the Desert. An African Wedding.

Sufferings of Mr. Park. Departure of Ali. Park's introduction to
Fatima. Beauty of the Moorish Women. The Great Desert of Jarra. Demba
Taken by the Moors. Jarra. Queira. Escape of Mr. Park. His perilous
Situation. Shrilla. Wawra. Dingyee. Departure from Doolinkeaboo.
First view of the Niger. Amiable conduct of a Bambara Woman. Mansong
King of Sego. Sansanding. Park's encounter with a lion. Moorzan.
Silla. Kea. Superstition of the Natives. Madiboo. Sibity. Sansanding.
Conduct of Mansong. Yamina. Balaba. Taffara. Sominoo. Kollikorro.
Saphie writing. Bambakoo. Kooma. Park robbed by the Foulahs.

Sibidooloo. The Mansa of Wonda. Mansia. Generous Conduct of a Karfa.
A Negro School. Treatment of the Slaves. Close of the Rhamadam.
Departure of the Coffle. The Jallonka Wilderness. Coffle attacked by
Bees. Fate of Nealee. Koba. Jallonka Banditti. Malacotta.
Magnanimous Conduct of Damel. Park's Arrival in England.

Frederic Horneman. Ummesogeir. Siwah. Conduct of the Siwahans.
Mourzouk. Fezzan. Death of Horneman. Nicholls. His Death.

Adams. Soudenny. Timbuctoo. King and Queen of Timbuctoo. La Mar
Zarah. Natives of Timbuctoo. Their Customs. Their Religion. Female
Physicians. Amusements at Timbuctoo. Capture of Slaves. Penal Code at
Timbuctoo. Doubts respecting the Niger.

Adams' Departure from Timbuctoo. Tudenny. Distress in the Desert.
Vied D'leim. Escape of Adams. Hilla Gibla. Adam's Amour with Isha.
Adams sold as a Slave. Hieta Mouessa Ali. Recapture of Adams.

Wadinoon. Treatment of Slaves. Cruel Treatment of Adams. Murder of
Dolbie. Characteristics of European Slaves. Ransom of Adams. Return
of Adams to England. Justification of Adams.

Sidi Hamet. Timbuctoo. Women of Timbuctoo. Dress of the Natives of
Timbuctoo. Bimbinah. Wassanah. Reflections on National Character.
Comparison between Adams and Sidi Hamet. Reflections on Timbuctoo.
Close of Adams' Narrative.

Population of West Barbary. The Errifi. The Shilluh. Anecdote of
Shilluh. Character of the Arabs. The Moors. The Marabouts. Religion
of the Africans.

Second Expedition of Park. His Departure. Attacks on Mr. Park. His
disheartening Situation. Conduct of Mansong. Death of Mr. Anderson.
Death of Mr. Park. Manuscripts of Park.

Tuckey's Expedition. His Departure. Disasters of the Expedition.
Death of Tuckey. Expedition of Captain Gray. Expedition of Major

Expedition of Captain Lyon. Benioleed. Zemzem. Bonjem. Sockna. Hoon.
Wadan. Journey to Mourzouk. Zeighan. Samnoo. Wad el Nimmel.

Mourzouk. Description of Mourzouk. Castle of Mourzouk. Construction
of the Houses of Mourzouk. The Fighi. African Education. The Burying
Places of Mourzouk. Dress of the Women. Filthy habits of the Natives.
Their Dances. Dresses of the Sultan's Children. The Sultan's Son.
Revenue of the Sultan of Fezzan. Personal Characteristics of the
Natives. Moral Character of the Fezzaners. Music of the Fezzaners.
Illness of Captain Lyon. His Distressing Situation. Treachery of
Mukni. Death of Mr. Ritchie. Return of Captain Lyon.

Expedition of Denham and Clapperton. Sockna. Sand Storm in the
Desert. Mourzouk. Interview with the Sultan of Mourzouk. Boo Khaloom.
Departure of Major Denham for Tripoli. Sails for England. Entrance
into Sockna. Superstition of Boo Khaloom. Marriage at Sockna.
Agutifa. Tingazeer. Zeghren. Omhal Henna. Illness of Clapperton and
Oudney. Strength of the Expedition. Description of the Arabs.

Expedition to the Westward. Tuaricks. Kharaik. Gorma. Ancient
Inscriptions. Oubari. Roman Buildings. Route over the Sand Hills.
Wadey Shiati. Visit to the Town. Ghraat. Visit to the Sultan. Tuarick

Departure from Mourzouk. Gabrone. Medroosa. Tegerhy. Natives of
Tegerhy. Skeletons of Slaves. Major Denham and the Skeletons.
Slaughter of the Camels. Anay Sultan Tibboo. Kisbee. Tiggema.
Dirkee. Plundering Arabs. Bilma. Female Natives of Bilma. Boo
Khaloom, and Captain Lyon's Book. Surgical Skill of the Arabs.
Aghadem. Tibboo Couriers. Beere Kashitery. Negro Shampooing. Gunda
Tibboos. Mina Tahr. Arab Plunderers. Kofei. Traita Tibboos. Huts of
the Tarifas. Lake Tchad. Lari. Death of a Coluber. Nyagami. Tribe of
Monkeys. Woodie. Dress of the Natives of Woodie. Buridha. Strength of
Buridha. Min Ali Tahr, and the Royal Family of England.

Approach to Kouka. Description of the Bornou Troops. Barca Gana.
Sheik of Kouka. Presentation to the Sheik. Costume of the Women of
Kanem and Bornou. Major Denham and a young Lion. The Court of Bornou.
Kouka. Angornou. The Bornouese. Sports of the Bornouese. Expedition
against the Kerdies. Mora, the Capital of Mandara. The Sultan of
Mandara. Malem Chadily. Expedition against the Fellatas. Defeat of
the Arabs. Death of Boo Khaloom. Perilous Situation of Major Denham.
Song on Boo Khaloom. Old Birnie. Gambarou. Expedition against the

Sultan of Loggun. The Loggunese. Mr. Tyrwhit. The Shouaa Arabs. Tahr,
the Chief of the La Salas. The Beddoomahs. Katagum. Sansan. Death of
Dr. Oudney. Market of Kano. Pugilism in Kano. Marriages and Funerals
of the People of Kano. The Governor of Hadyja. Quana. Females of
Quarra. Treatment of the Small Pox. A Fellata Fugitive.

The Wells of Kamoon. Arrival at Sockatoo. Sultan Bello. Abolition of
the Slave Trade. Clapperton's Visit to Sultan Bello. Death of Mr.
Park. Obstacles to the Journey to Youri. Books of Park. Final
Abandonment of the Journey. Ateeko, the Brother of Bello. Purchase of
Major Denham's Baggage. The Civet Cat. The Executioner of Sockatoo.
Departure from Sockatoo. Account of Sockatoo. Trade of Sockatoo.
Arrival in England.

Lander's First Expedition with Clapperton. Sultan Bello's Letter.
Widah. The Sugar Berry. Beasts of Prey. Animals of Dahomy. Religion
of Dahomy. Its Government. Officers of the Court of Dahomy. Marriages
at Dahomy. Carnival at Abomey. Sacrifice of Victims at Abomey.
Anecdote of the King of Dahomy. Badagry. Introduction to the Chief of
Eyeo. Saboo. Humba, Death of Captain Pearce. Dances at Jannah. Lander
at an African Almacks. Duffoo. Erawa. Washoo. Koosoo. Akkibosa,
Medical Treatment in Eyeo. Loko. Tshow. Entrance into Katunga.
Theatrical Entertainments at Eyeo. Method of Salutation.

Situation of the City of Eyeo. Its Markets. Feasts of the
Youribanies. Produce of Youriba. Etiquette at the Court of Katunga.
African Antelopes. Sultan Yarro. Female Cavalry. Kiama. Sultan.
Yarro's Daughter. Wawa. Its Productions and Natives. The Widow Zuma.
Her Costume and Domestic Marriage to Clapperton. Character of the
Inhabitants of Wawa. Departure from Wawa. Boussa. Inquiries
respecting Park. Place of Park's Death. Expected Recovery of Park's
Journal. Letter from the King of Youri. Conduct of the Widow Zuma.
Her Dress and Escort. Mahommed El His Camp. Rejoicings at Koolfu. Its
Trade. The Widow Laddie, Employment of time at Koolfu. Character of
its People. Akinjie. Futika. Baebaejie.

Military Tactics of the Fellatas. Female Warrior of Zamfra.
Proceedings of Bello. Letter of Sultan Bello. Death of Clapperton.

Almena. Cannibals of Almena. Natives of Catica. The River Coodoma.
Cuttup. The Sultan of Cuttup. Lander and the Wives of the Sultan. The
River Rary. Dunrora. Lander taken back to Cuttup. Zaria. Crosses the
Koodonia. Arrival at Badagry. Attempt on the Life of Lander by
Poison. Ransomed by Captain Laing. Arrival in England.

African Discoveries. Expedition of Richard and John Lander.
Instructions of Government. Departure from Portsmouth. Badagry. Visit
to King Adooley. His Conduct. Traits of Lander's Character. Visit of
the King's Eldest Son. Intrigues of the Mulattoes. Division of
Badagry. Visit to the King of Portuguese Town. Customs of the

Evasive Conduct of Adooley. Visit to Adooley. Visit from the Chief of
Spanish Town. Rapacity of Adooley. Visit of General Poser's Headman.
Religious Rites of the Mahommedans. Sports of the Natives. The Houssa
Mallams. Surgical Skill of Richard Lander. Articles demanded by
Adooley. Female of Jenna. Character of Adooley. His Filial Affection.
Battle between the Lagos and Badagrians. Trial by the Cap.

Departure from Badagry. Progress up the River. Arrival at Wow
Regulations of the Fetish at Wow. The Village of Sagba. Passage of a
Swamp. Basha. Soato. Arrival at Bidjie. Bad Faith of Adooley.
Introduction to the Chief of Bidjie. Departure from Bidjie Arrival of
a Messenger from Jenna. Laatoo. Larro. The Chief of Larro. Customs at
Larro. Departure from Larro. Introduction at the Court of Jenna. The
Governor of Jenna. Pascoe and his Wife. Musicians of Jenna. The
Badagry Guides. African Wars. Women of Jenna. Fate of the Governor's
Wives. Conduct of the Widow. Abominable Customs at Jenna. Mourning of
the Women. An African Tornado. Departure from Jenna. Arrival and
Departure from Bidjie. The Chief of Chow. Departure from Chow. Egga.
Arrival at Jadoo. Natives of Jadoo. Affection of the African Mothers.
Engua. Afoora. Assinara. Arrival at Chouchou. Tudibu. Eco. Dufo.
Chaadoo. Arrival at Row. Chekki. Coosoo. The Butter Tree. Departure
from Coosoo. Arrival at Acboro. Lazipa. Cootoo. Bohoo. Visit to the
Head Minister. Mallo. Jaguta. Shea. Esalay. Desertion of Esalay.
Atoopa. Leoguadda. Eetcho. Market at Eetcho. Eetcholee. Arrival at

Visit to Mansolah. Customs of the Court of Katunga. Mansolah's Visit
to the Landers. Intended Route of the Landers. The Master of the
Horse. Decay of Katunga. The Markets of Katunga. Visit from Ebo.
Intrigues of the Wives of Ebo. Visit of Houssa Mallams. Presents to
the Head Men. Their Affluence. Site of Katunga. Character of the
Natives. Political Constitution of Alorie. Exhibition of the
Presents. Projected Departure from Katunga. Wives of Mansolah. Last
Interview with Mansolah.

Departure from Katunga. Revolt of the Carriers. Arrival at Rumbum.
Acra. Visit of the Natives. The Governor of Keeshee. Visit of the
Mallams. Singular Application of an Acba Woman. Departure from Acba.
Return of the Badagry Guides. African Banditti. Village of Moussa.
Progress to Kiama. Meeting of the Kiama Escort. Arrival at Benikenny.

Presents to the King of Kiama. Visit to the King. Parentage of the
Widow Zuma. Visit from the Mahommedan Mallams. Their Honesty. The
Bebun Salah. Religious Ceremonies of the Mahommedans. Anniversary of
the Bebun Salah. Races at Kiama. Approach of the King. His Dress. The
King's Children.

Kakafungi. Illness of John Lander. Distressing Situation of the
Landers. Departure from Coobley. The Midiki, or Queen of Boussa. Mr.
Park's Effects. Disappointment respecting Mr. Park's Papers. Kagogie.
Arrival at Yaoorie. Deceitful conduct of the Sultan. Description of
Yaoorie. Message to the King of Boussa. Departure from Yaoorie.
Letter from the Sultan of Yaoorie.

Arrival at Guada. Adventure with a Crocodile. Subterraneous Course
of the Niger. The King Consults the Niger. Arrival at Wowow.
Interview with the King. Negotiation for a Canoe. The King and the
Salt Cellar. Arrival of the Canoe from Wowow. Preparations for
Departure. Departure from Boossa. Arrival at Patashie. Message from
the King of Wowow. Visit to the King of Wowow. Return to Patashie.
Arrival at Lever. Conduct of Ducoo. Canoes demanded by the Chief of
Teah. Treacherous Conduct of the Chief. Departure from Patashie.
Bajiebo. Interview with the Chief of Leechee. Majie. Belee. The King
of the Park Water. Interview with the Water King. Progress down the
Niger. Zagozhi. Messengers arrive from Rabba.

Visit of the two Arabs. Message from Mallam Dendo. Present of Mr.
Park's Tobe to the Prince of Rabba. Perfidy of the King of Nouflie.
Departure from Zagozhi. Noble Speech of the Prince of Rabba.
Construction of the Canoes. Last Audience of the King of the Dark

Danger from the Hippopotami. Dacannie. Gungo. Arrival at Egga.
Annoyances at Egga. Departure from Egga. Arrival at Kacunda. Visit
from the Chief's Brother. Departure from Kacunda. Alarm of the
Natives. Hostile motions of the Natives. Explanation of the Chief.
Information obtained from the Funda Mallam. Detention at Damaggoo.
First signs of European intercourse. Departure from Damaggoo. Arrival
at Kirree. Attacked by the Natives. The Landers taken to Kirree. Loss
of their Property. Holding of a Palaver. The Kirree people.

Departure from Kirree. Superstition of the Eboes. Arrival at an Eboe
Town. Visit to the King of Eboe. First interview with Obie. The
Palaver. King Boy. Character of the Kings of Africa. Decision of
Obie. Embarrassments of the Landers. Conduct of the Eboe people.
Revels of the Natives. The little fat female Visitor. Her

Exorbitant demand of King Boy. Visit of King Obie. Arrangement made
with King Boy. Preparation for Departure. Hostile disposition of the
Natives. Description of Adizzetta. Etiquette of King Boy. Offering to
the Fetish. Progress down the River. Uncomfortable situation of the
Landers. Introduction to Forday. Progress to Brass Town. Procession
down the River. Superstitious Practices of the Natives. Description
of Brass, Residence of the Landers at Brass. Traffic of the Natives.

Richard Lander proceeds to the English Brig. Arrival in the second
Brass River. Reception on board the Brig. Scandalous conduct of
Captain Lake. Disappointment of King Boy. Captain Lake and the Pilot.
Unfeeling behaviour of Lake. Richard Lander's anxiety about his
Brother. Return of John Lander. John Lander's stay at Brass Town. His

Proceedings on board the Brig. Presents to King Boy. Perfidy of the
Pilot. Hostile Motions of the Natives. Brig. Providential Escape.
Nautical Instructions. Release of Mr. Spittle. Perilous Situation of
the Passage to Fernando Po. Fernando Po. Colonization of Fernando Po.
Traffic with the Natives. Localities of Fernando Po. The Kroomen.
Natives of Fernando Po. Costume of the Natives. Their Thieving
Propensities. Punishment of the Thieves. Resources of the Island.
Method of obtaining Palm Wine. Island of Anna Bon. Injurious Effects
of the Climate. Prospective Commercial Advantages. Voyage to the
Calebar River. Geographical and Nautical Directions. The Tornadoes.
Superstitious Custom of the Natives. Duke Ephraim. Visit to Duke
Ephraim. The Priests of Duke Town. Mourning amongst the Natives.
Attack of an Alligator. The Thomas taken by a Pirate. Departure from
Fernando Po. Death of the Kroomen. Arrival in England. Advantages of
the Expedition. Investigation of the Niger. Course of the Niger.
Ptolemy's Hypothesis of the Niger. Sources of the African Rivers.
Benefit of Lander's Expedition.

Richard Lander's Third Expedition. Fitting out of the Expedition.
Vessels Employed in the Expedition. Sailing of the Expedition.
Arrival in the River Nun. Attack of the Natives. Impolitic Conduct of
Lander. Return of Richard Lander to Fernando Po. Return of Lander to
Attah. Reconciliation of the Damaggoo Chiefs. Abolition of the
Sacrifices of Human Beings. Rabba. Ascent of the River Tchadda.
Prophecy of King Jacket. Lander wounded by the Natives. Approaching
Death of Lander. Death of Richard Lander. Infamous Conduct of
Liverpool Merchants. Causes of the Attack. Meeting of the Inhabitants
of Truro.



Previously to entering upon the immediate subject of the origin and
progress of the different voyages, which have been undertaken for
exploring the interior of Africa, it may be not only interesting, but
highly instructive, to take a rapid survey of the great Peninsula, as
it appeared to the earlier travellers, and as it was found by the
last of them, amongst whom may be included the individual, whose
adventures in the present work, claim our chief attention. It is on
record, that the coasts of Africa have been navigated from as early a
period, as six hundred years before Christ, and, according to the
earliest records of history, the circumnavigation of Africa was
accomplished by the Phoenicians, in the service of Pharaoh Necho. On
referring to Herodotus, the earliest and most interesting of Greek
historians, and to whom we are indebted for the knowledge of many
important facts relative to Africa, in the earliest periods of its
history, we find, in corroboration of the circumnavigation of Africa
by the Phoenicians, "that taking their course from the Red Sea they
entered into the Southern Ocean; on the approach of autumn, they
landed in Lybia, and planted some corn in the place, where they
happened to find themselves; when this was ripe, and they had cut it
down, they again departed. Having thus consumed two years, they in
the third passed the columns of Hercules, and returned to Egypt.
Their relation may obtain attention from others, but to me it seems
incredible, for they affirmed that having sailed round Africa, _they
had the sun on their right hand._"

It is worthy of remark, that the very circumstance, which led
Herodotus to attach discredit to the circumnavigation of Africa by
the Phoenicians, on account of their having the sun to the right, is
the very strongest presumption in favour of its truth. Some
historians have indeed endeavoured to prove, that the voyage was
altogether beyond any means, which navigation at that early era could
command; but in the learned exposition of Rennell, a strong degree of
probability is thrown upon the early tradition. At all events it may
be considered, that the obscure knowledge, which we possessed of the
peninsular figure of Africa, appears to have been derived from the
Phoenicians. Herodotus, however, was himself a traveller, in those
early times, of no mean celebrity. Despairing of obtaining accurate
information of the then known part of the habitable world, he
determined to have recourse to travelling, for the purpose of
completing those surveys, which had been undertaken by his
predecessors, and which had been left in a dubious and indefinite
state. He resided for a considerable period in Egypt, during which,
he entered into a friendly communion with the native priests, from
whom he obtained much accurate information, as well as a great deal
that was false and exaggerated relative to the extensive region,
which extends from the Nile to the Atlantic. According to his
description it is much inferior in fertility to the cultivated parts
of Europe and Asia, and suffering extremely from severe drought; yet
he makes mention of a few spots, such as Cinyps, and the high tract
Cyrene, which, undergoing the process of irrigation, may stand
comparison with the richest portions of the globe. Generally,
however, in quitting the northern coast, which he terms significantly
the forehead of Africa, the country became more and more arid. Hills
of salt arose, out of which the natives constructed their houses,
without any fear of their melting beneath a shower in a region where
rain was unknown. The land became almost a desert, and was filled
with such multitudes of wild beasts, as to be considered their proper
inheritance, and scarcely disputed with them by the human race.
Farther to the south, the soil no longer afforded food even to these
wild tenants; there was not a trunk of a tree, nor a drop of
water--total silence and desolation reigned.

This may be considered as the first picture on record of the northern
part of Africa; a country, which, even after the lapse of two
thousand years, presents to the eye of science, as regards its
interior recesses, a blank in geography, a physical and not less a
moral problem; a dark and bewildering mystery. The spirit of
enterprise has carried our mariners to the arctic seas, braving the
most appalling dangers in the solution of a great geographical
problem; by the same power, civilization has been carried into the
primeval forests of the American continent, and cities have arisen in
the very heart of the Andes. The interior of Africa, however,
notwithstanding its navigable rivers, has been hitherto almost a
sealed chapter in the history of the globe. The deserts, which extend
from Egypt to the Atlantic, and which cover a great surface of the
interior, have proved a barrier to the march of conquest, or
civilization; and whatever science has gained, has been wrested by
the utmost efforts of human perseverance and the continual sacrifice
of human life.

It must, however, be allowed that there are obstacles existing to the
knowledge and the civilization of central Africa, which cannot be
overcome by the confederated power of human genius. Extending 5000
miles in length, and nearly the same extent in breadth, it presents
an area, according to Malte Brun, of 13,430,000 square miles,
unbroken by any estuary, or inland sea, and intersected by a few long
or easily navigable rivers; all its known chains of mountains are of
moderate height, rising in terraces, down which the waters find their
way in cataracts, not through deep ravines and fertile valleys. Owing
to this configuration, its high table lands are without streams, a
phenomenon unknown in any other part of the world; while, in the
lower countries, the rivers, when swelled with the rains, spread into
floods and periodical lakes, or lose themselves in marshes. According
to this view of the probable structure of the unknown interior, it
appears as one immense flat mountain, rising on all sides from the
sea by terraces; an opinion favoured by the absence of those narrow
pointed promontories, in which other continents terminate, and of
those long chains of islands, which are, in fact, submarine
prolongations of mountain chains extending across the main land. It
is, however, not impossible, that in the centre of Africa, there may
be lofty table lands like those of Quito, or valleys like that of
Cashmeer, where, as in those happy regions, spring holds a perpetual

In regard to the population, as well as its geographical character,
Africa naturally divides itself into two great portions, north and
south of the mountains of Kong and the Jebel el Komar, which give
rise to the waters of the Senegal, the Niger and the Nile. To the
north of this line, Africa is ruled, and partially occupied by
foreign races, who have taken possession of all the fertile
districts, and driven the aboriginal population into the mountains
and deserts of the interior. It is consistent with general
experience, that in proportion as civilization extends itself, the
aboriginal race of the natives become either extinct, or are driven
farther and farther into the interior, where they in time are lost
and swept from the catalogue of the human race.

South of this line, we find Africa entirely peopled with the Negro
race, who alone seem capable of sustaining the fiery climate, by
means of a redundant physical energy scarcely compatible with the
full development of the intellectual powers of man. Central Africa is
a region distinguished from all others, by its productions and
climate, by the simplicity and yet barbarian magnificence of its
states; by the mildness and yet diabolical ferocity of its
inhabitants, and peculiarly by the darker nature of its
superstitions, and its magical rites, which have struck with awe
strangers in all ages, and which present something inexplicable and
even appalling to enlightened Europeans; the evil principle here
seems to reign with less of limitation, and in recesses inaccessible
to white men, still to enchant and delude the natives. The common and
characteristic mark of their superstition, is the system of Fetiches,
by which an individual appropriates to himself some casual object as
divine, and which, with respect to himself, by this process, becomes
deified, and exercises a peculiar fatality over his fortune. The
barbarism of Africa, may be attributed in part its great fertility,
which enables its inhabitants to live without are but chiefly to its
imperviousness to strangers. Every petty state is so surrounded with
natural barriers, that it is isolated from the rest, and though it
may be overrun and wasted, and part of its inhabitants carried into
captivity, it has never been made to form a constituent part of one
large consolidated empire and thus smaller states become dependent,
without being incorporated. The whole region is still more
inaccessible on a grand scale, than the petty states are in
miniature; and while the rest of the earth has become common, from
the frequency of visitors, Africa still retains part of the mystery,
which hung over the primitive and untrodden world.

Passing over the attempts of the very early travellers to become
acquainted with the geographical portion of Africa, in which much
fiction, and little truth, were blended, we arrive at that period,
when the spirit of discovery began to manifest itself amongst some of
the European states. The darkness and lethargy, which characterised
the middle ages, had cast their baneful influence over every project,
which had discovery for its aim, and even the invaluable discovery of
the mariner's compass, which took place at the commencement of the
thirteenth century, and which opened to man the dominion of the sea,
and put him in full possession of the earth had little immediate
effect in emboldening navigators to venture into unfrequented seas.
At a somewhat earlier period, it is true, the Hanse Towns and the
Italian republics began to cultivate manufactures and commerce, and
to lay the foundation of a still higher prosperity, but they carried
on chiefly an inland or coasting trade. The naval efforts, even of
Venice or Genoa, had no further aim than to bring from Alexandria,
and the shores of the Black Sea, the commodities of India, which had
been conveyed thither chiefly by caravans over land. Satisfied with
the wealth and power, to which they had been raised by this local and
limited commerce, these celebrated republics made an attempt to open
a more extended path over the ocean. Their pilots, indeed, guided
most of the vessels engaged in the early voyages of discovery, but
they were employed, and the means furnished, by the great monarchs,
whose ports were situated upon the shores of the Atlantic.

The first appearance of a bolder spirit, in which the human mind
began to make a grand movement in every direction, in religion,
science, freedom, and liberty, may be dated from about the end of the
fifteenth century. The glory of leading the way in this new career,
was reserved for Portugal, then one of the smallest, and least
powerful of the European kingdoms.

When in 1412, John I. sent forth a few vessels, to explore the
western shores of Africa, while he prepared a great armament to
attack the moors of Barbary, the art of navigation was still very
imperfect, nor had the Portuguese ever ventured to sail beyond Cape
Non. But what most powerfully contributed to give impulse and
direction to the national ardour, was the enlightened enthusiasm,
with which prince Henry of Portugal, a younger son of John I.,
espoused the interests of science, and the prosecution of nautical
discovery. In order to pursue his splendid projects without
interruption, he fixed his residence at Sagres, near Cape St.
Vincent, where the prospect of the open Atlantic continually invited
his thoughts to their favourite theme. His first effort was upon a
small scale. He fitted out a single ship, the command of which was
entrusted to two gentlemen of his household, who volunteered their
services, with instructions to use their utmost endeavours to double
Cape Bojador, and thence to steer southward. According to the mode of
navigation, which then prevailed, they held their course along the
shore, and by following that direction, they must have encountered
almost insuperable difficulties, in the attempt to pass the cape;
their want of skill was, however, compensated by a fortunate
accident. A sudden squall drove them out to sea, and when they
expected every moment to perish, landed them on an unknown island,
which, from their happy escape, they named Porto Santo. They returned
to Portugal with the good tidings, and were received with the
applause due to fortunate adventurers. The following year, prince
Henry sent out three ships to take possession of the new island; a
fixed spot on the horizon, towards the south, resembling a small
black cloud, soon attracted the attention of the settlers, and the
conjecture suggested itself that it might be land. Steering towards
it, they arrived at a considerable island, uninhabited, and covered
with wood, which, on that account, they called Madeira.

By these voyages, the Portuguese became accustomed to a bolder
navigation, and at length, in 1433, Gilianez, one of prince Henry's
captains, by venturing out into the open sea, succeeded in doubling
Cape Bojador, which, until then, had been regarded as impassable.
This successful voyage, which the ignorance of the age placed on a
level with the most famous exploits recorded in history, opened a new
sphere to navigation, as it discovered the vast continent of Africa,
still washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching towards the south.
A rapid progress was then made along the shores of the Sehara, and
the Portuguese navigators were not long in reaching the fertile
regions watered by the Senegal and the Gambia.

The early part of this progress was dreary in the extreme; they saw
nothing before them but a wild expanse of lifeless earth and sky,
naked rocks and burning sands, stretching immeasurably into the
exterior, and affording no encouragement to any project of
settlement. After, however, passing Cape Blanco, the coast began to
improve in appearance, and when they saw the ivory and gold brought
down from the interior, those regions began to excite the lust of
conquest. This was, however, an undertaking beyond the means of any
force which had as yet sailed from Portugal. In 1443, however, Nuno
Tristan discovered the island of Arguin, and as Gonzalo da Centra was
in 1445 killed by a party of negroes, in attempting to ascend a small
river, near the Rio Grande, the Portuguese considered an insular
position to be the most eligible for a settlement, and the island of
Arguin was accordingly fixed upon.

This establishment had been scarcely formed, when an important event
took place, which afforded a favourable opportunity and pretext for
laying the foundation of the Portuguese empire in Africa. Bemoy, a
prince of the Jaloofs, arrived at Arguin, as a suppliant for foreign
aid, in recovering his dominions from a more powerful competitor or
usurper. He was received with open arms, and conveyed to Lisbon,
where he experienced a brilliant reception, his visit being
celebrated by all the festal exhibitions peculiar to that age,
bull-fights, puppet-shows, and even feats of dogs. On that occasion,
Bemoy made a display of the agility of his native attendants, who on
foot, kept pace with the swift horses, mounting and alighting from
these animals at full gallop After being instructed in the Christian
religion, he was baptized, and did homage to the king and the pope,
for the crown, which was to be placed on his head; for this purpose a
powerful armament under the command of Pero vaz d'Acunha, was sent
out with him, to the banks of the Senegal.

The circumstance, which tended more particularly to inflame the pious
zeal of the Christian monarch, was the information, that to the east
of Timbuctoo there was a territory inhabited by a people who were
neither moors nor pagans, but who, in many of their customs resembled
the Christians. It was immediately inferred, that this could be no
other than the kingdom of the mysterious personage known in Europe,
under the uncouth appellation of Prester John. This singular name
seems first to have been introduced by travellers from eastern Asia,
where it had been applied to some Nestorian bishop, who held there a
species of sovereignty, and when rumours arrived of the Christian
king of Abyssinia, he was concluded to be the real Prester John.
His dominions being reported to stretch far inland, and the breadth
of the African continent being very imperfectly understood, the
conclusion was formed, that a mission from the western coast might
easily reach his capital. It does not fully appear, what were the
precise expectations from an intercourse with this great personage,
but it seems to have been thoroughly rooted in the minds of the
Portuguese, that they would be raised to a matchless height of glory
and felicity, if they could by any means arrive at his court. The
principal instruction given to all officers employed in the African
service, was, that in every quarter, and by every means, they should
endeavour to effect this discovery. They accordingly never failed to
put the question to all the wanderers of the desert, and to every
caravan that came from the interior, but in vain, the name had never
been heard. The Portuguese then besought the natives at all events,
into whatever region they might travel, studiously to inquire if
Prester John was there, or if any one knew where he was to be found,
and on the promise of a splendid reward, in case of success, this was
readily undertaken.

The conclusion of the adventure of Bemoy, was extremely tragical.
A quarrel having arisen between him and the commander of the
expedition, the latter stabbed the African prince on board his own
vessel. Whether this violent deed was prompted by the heat of
passion, or by well-grounded suspicions of the prince's fidelity, was
never fully investigated, but the king learned the event with great
regret, and in consequence, gave up his design of building a fort on
the Senegal. Embassies were, however, sent to the most powerful of
the neighbouring states, nor was any pause made in the indefatigable
efforts to trace the abode of Prester John. Amongst the great
personages, to whom an embassy was sent, are mentioned the kings of
Tongubutue, (Timbuctoo,) and Tucurol, a Mandingo chief named
Mandimansa, and a king of the Foulhas, with all of whom a friendly
intercourse was established. All endeavours were, however, vain as to
the primary object, but the Portuguese thereby gained a more complete
knowledge of this part of interior Africa than was afterwards
attained in Europe till a very recent period.

There is, however, one circumstance attending these discoveries of
the Portuguese, and the embassies, which they in consequence sent to
the native princes, which deserves particular attention. There is
very little doubt existing, but that the Portuguese were acquainted
with the town and territory of Timbuctoo; and the question then
presents itself, by what means did the Portuguese succeed in
penetrating to a kingdom, which, for centuries afterwards, baffled
all the efforts of the most enterprising travellers to arrive within
some hundred miles of it. The city of Timbuctoo, for instance, was,
for a considerable length of time, the point to which all the
European travellers had directed their attention; but so vague and
indefinite were the accounts of it, that the existence of Timbuctoo
as a town, began to be questioned altogether, or at least, that the
extraordinary accounts, which had been given of it, had little or no
foundation in truth. From the time of Park to the present period, we
have information of only three Europeans reached Timbuctoo, and
considerable doubt still exists in regard to the truth of the
narrative of one of them. It is true that the intelligence of the
Portuguese embassies, as respecting the particulars of them, and the
manner in which they were conducted, has either perished, or still
remains locked up in the archives of the Lusitanian monarchy. But
when we look into the expeditions, which have been projected of late
years into the interior of Africa, we cannot refrain from drawing the
conclusion, that the character of the African people must have
undergone a change considerably for the worse, or that our
expeditions are not regulated on those principles so as to command

The Portuguese in the meantime continued to extend their discoveries
in another quarter, for in 1471, they reached the Gold Coast, when
dazzled by the importance and splendour of the commodity, the
commerce of which gave name to that region, they built the fort of
Elmina or The Mine, making it the capital of their possessions on
that part of the continent. Pushing onward to Benin, they received a
curious account of an embassy said to be sent at the accession of
every new prince, to a court of a sovereign named Ogane, who was said
to reside seven or eight hundred miles in the interior. On the
introduction of the ambassadors, a silk curtain concealed the person
of his majesty from them, until the moment of their departure, when
the royal foot was graciously put forth from under the veil, and
reverence was done to it as a "holy thing." From this statement it
appears that the pope of Rome is not the only person, whose foot is
treated as a "holy thing;" there is not, however, any information
extant, that the Portuguese ambassadors kissed the great toe of the
African prince, and therefore the superiority of the pope in this
instance is at once decided. The statement, however, of the
Portuguese ambassadors excited greatly the curiosity of the court on
their return, and it was immediately surmised by them, that this
mysterious potentate was more likely to be Prester John, than any
person whom they had yet heard of. It must, however, be remarked,
that it was a subject of great doubt and discussion to determine who
this Ogane really was.

Although in possession of the extensive coast of Africa, the
Portuguese had, as yet, no declared title to it, for that purpose,
therefore, they appealed to religion or rather the superstition of
the age. It was a maxim, which the bigots of the Vatican had
endeavoured strongly to inculcate, that whatever country was
conquered from infidel nations, became the property of the victors.
This title was, however, not completed until it was confirmed by a
special grant obtained from the pope, and accordingly the reigning
monarch of Portugal, John II., obtained the grant of all the lands
from Cape Bojador to the Indies inclusive. Robertson, speaking of
this grant, says, "extravagant as this donation, comprehending such a
large portion of the habitable globe, would now appear even in
catholic countries, no person in the fifteenth century doubted but
that the pope, in the plenitude of his apostolic power, had a right
to confer it."

The grant was no sooner confirmed by the pope, than John hesitated
not a moment to style himself Lord of Guinea, giving his commanders,
at the same time, instructions that, instead of the wooden crosses,
which it had hitherto been the custom to erect in token of conquest,
pillars of stone should be raised twice the stature of a man, with
proper inscriptions, and the whole surmounted by a crucifix inlaid
with lead. The first, who sailed from Elmina, for the purpose of
planting these ensigns of dominion in regions yet undiscovered was
Diego Cam, in 1484. After passing Cape St. Catherine, he encountered
a very strong current setting direct from the land, which was still
at a considerable distance; on tasting the water, however, it was
found to be fresh, from which the conjecture was drawn, that he was
at the mouth of some great river, which ultimately turned out to be
the fact. This river has since been celebrated under the name of the
Congo, or the Zaire, lying in latitude 8 deg. south, and longitude 13 deg.
east. On reaching the southern bank of the river, Diego planted his
first pillar, after which he ascended its borders, and opened a
communication with the natives by means of signs. His first inquiry
was respecting the residence of their sovereign, and, on receiving
the information, that he resided at the distance of several days
journey inland, he determined to send a number of his men with
presents for the prince, the natives undertaking to be the guides,
and pledging themselves, within a stipulated period, to conduct them
back again. As the natives meantime passed and repassed on the most
intimate footing, Diego took the advantage of a moment, when several
of the principal persons were on board his ship, weighed anchor and
put to themselves as good and _bona fide_ Christians, as any of the
revered men, who had been sent out to instruct them. The early
missionaries, however, committed the same fault, which has
distinguished the labours of those of later periods, for they
immediately began attack one of the most venerated institutions of
the realm of Congo which was polygamy; and to the aged monarch the
privation of his wives appeared so intolerable, that he renounced the
Christian faith, and relapsed into all the impurities of paganism and
polygamy. The heir apparent, however, saw nothing so very dreadful in
the sacrifice of his wives, and braving the displeasure of his
father, remained attached to the Portuguese. The holy fathers managed
their business on this occasion with that skill, for which the cowled
tribe have ever been distinguished, and by the aid of the Apostle St.
James, and a numerous cavalry of angels, the old king died, and
Alphonso, the zealous convert, became entitled to reign. His
brother, however, Panso Aquitimo, supported by the nobles and almost
the whole nation, raised the standard of revolt, in support of
polygamy and paganism. A civil war ensued, which is generally the
attendant upon the proselytism of a people, and Alphonso had only a
handful of Portuguese to oppose to the almost innumerable host of his
countrymen; but the holy fathers again applied to their auxiliaries,
and in consequence of apparitions in the clouds, at one time of St.
James, and another of the Virgin Mary, Alphonso always came off
victorious, and as he thereby became firmly seated on the throne, the
missionaries secured for themselves a safe and comfortable
establishment at Congo. The following account of the conduct of these
missionaries, as it is given in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, cannot
fail to afford a considerable degree of entertainment, at the same
time, it is much to be deplored, that men engaged in so sacred a
cause, "could play such fantastic tricks before high heaven," and
disgrace the doctrine, which they meant to teach.

Being reinforced by successive bodies of their brethren, the
missionaries spread over the neighbouring countries of Lundi, Pango,
Concobella and Maopongo, many tracts of which were rich and populous,
although the state of society was extremely rude. Everywhere their
career was nearly similar; the people gave them the most cordial
reception, flocked in crowds to witness and to share in the pomp of
their ceremonies; accepted with thankfulness their sacred gifts, and
received by thousands the rite of baptism. They were not, however, on
this account prepared to renounce their ancient habits and
superstitions. The inquisition, that _chef d'ouvre_ of sacerdotal
guilt, was speedily introduced into their domestic arrangements, and,
as was naturally to be supposed, caused a sudden revulsion, on which
account the missionaries thenceforth maintained only a precarious and
even a perilous position. They were much reproached, it appears, for
the rough and violent methods employed to effect their pious
purposes, and although they treat the accusation as most unjust, some
of the proceedings, of which they boast with the greatest
satisfaction, tend not a little to countenance the charge. When, for
example, they could not persuade the people to renounce their
superstitions, they used a large staff, with which they threw down
their idols and beat them to pieces; they even stole secretly into
the temples, and set them on fire. A missionary at Maopongo, having
met one of the queens, and finding her mind inaccessible to all his
instructions, determined to use sharper remedies, and seizing a
whip, began to apply it lustily to her majesty's person: the effect
he describes as most auspicious; every successful blow opened her
eyes more and more to the truth, and she at last declared herself
wholly unable to resist such forcible arguments in favour of the
catholic doctrine. She, however, hastened to the king, with loud
complaints respecting this mode of mental illumination; and the
missionaries thenceforth lost all favour with that prince and the
ladies of his court, being allowed to remain solely in dread of the
Portuguese. In only one other instance were they allowed to employ
this mode of conversion. The smith, in consequence of the skill,
strange in the eyes of a rude people, with which he manufactured
various arms and implements, was supposed to possess a measure of
superhuman power, and he had thus been encouraged to advance
pretensions to the character of a divinity, which were very generally
admitted. The missionaries appealed to the king, respecting this
impious assumption, and that prince conceiving that it interfered
with the respect due to himself, agreed to deliver into their hands
the unfortunate smith, to be converted into a mortal in any manner
they might judge efficacious. After a short and unsuccessful
argument, they had recourse to the same potent instrument of
conversion, as they had applied to the back of the queen. The son of
Vulcan, deserted in this extremity by all his votaries, still made a
firm stand for his celestial dignity, till the blood began to stream
from his back and shoulders, when he finally yielded, and renounced
all pretensions to a divine origin.

A more intimate acquaintance discovered other irregularities amongst
the natives, against which a painful struggle was to be maintained.
According to the custom of the country, and it were well if the same
custom could be introduced into some particular parts of Europe, the
two parties, previously to marriage, lived together for some time, in
order to make a trial of each other's tempers and inclinations,
before entering into the final arrangement. To this system of
probation, the natives were most obstinately attached, and the
missionaries in vain denounced it, calling upon them at once either
to marry or to separate. The young ladies were always the most
anxious to have the full benefit of this experimental process; and
the mothers, on being referred to, refused to incur any
responsibility, and expose themselves to the reproaches of their
daughters, by urging them to an abridgment of the trial, of which
they might afterwards repent. The missionaries seem to have been most
diligent in the task, as they called it, of "reducing strayed souls
to matrimony." Father Benedict succeeded with no fewer than six
hundred, but he found it such "laborious work," that he fell sick and
died. Another subject of deep regret, respecting the many
superstitious practices still prevalent, even among those who
exhibited some sort of Christian profession, was, that sometimes the
children, brought for baptism, were bound with magic cords, to which
the mothers, as an additional security from evil, had fastened beads,
relics, and figures of the Agnus Dei. It was a compound of paganism
and Christianity, which the priests turned away from with disgust;
but still the mothers seemed more inclined to part with the beads,
relics, and figures of the Agnus Dei, than their magic cords. The
chiefs, in like manner, while they testified no repugnance to avail
themselves of the protection promised from the wearing of crucifixes
and images of the Virgin, were unprepared to part with the enchanted
rings and other pagan amulets with which they had been accustomed to
form a panoply round their persons. In case of dangerous illness,
sorcery had been always contemplated as the main or sole remedy, and
those who rejected its use were reproached, as rather allowing their
sick relations to die, than incur the expense of a conjuror. But the
most general and pernicious application of magic was made in judicial
proceedings: when a charge was advanced against any individual, no
one ever thought of inquiring into the facts, or of collecting
evidence--every case was decided by preternatural tests. The
magicians prepared a beverage, which produced on the guilty person,
according to the measure of his iniquity, spasm, fainting, or death,
but left the innocent quite free from harm. It seems a sound
conclusion of the missionaries, that the draught was modified
according to the good or ill will of the magicians, or the liberality
of the supposed culprit. The trial called Bolungo, was indeed
renounced by the king, but only to substitute another, in which the
accused was made to bend over a large basin of water, when, if he
fell in, it was concluded that he was guilty. At other times, a bar
of red hot iron was passed along the leg, or the arm was thrust into
scalding water, and if the natural effect followed, the person's head
was immediately struck off. Snail shells, applied to the temples, if
they stuck, inferred guilt. When a dispute arose between man and man,
the plan was, to place shells on the heads of both, and make them
stoop, when he, from off whose head the shell first dropped, had a
verdict found against him. While we wonder at the deplorable
ignorance on which these practices were founded, we must not forget
that "the judgments of God," as they were termed, employed by our
ancestors, during the middle ages, were founded on the same
unenlightened views, and were in some cases absolutely identical.

Other powers, of still higher name, held sway over the deluded minds
of the people of Congo. Some ladies of rank went about beating a
drum, with dishevelled hair, and pretended to work magical cures.
There was also a race of mighty conjurors, called Scingilli, who had
the power of giving and withdrawing rain at pleasure; and they had a
king called Ganja Chitorne, or God of the earth, to whom its first
fruits were regularly offered. This person never died, but when tired
of his sway on earth, he nominated a successor, and killed himself;
a step, doubtless, prompted by the zeal of his followers, when they
saw any danger of his reputation for immortality being compromised.
This class argued strongly in favour of their vocation, as not only
useful, but absolutely essential, since without it the earth would be
deprived of those influences, by which alone it was enabled to
minister to the wants of man. The people accordingly viewed, with the
deepest alarm, any idea of giving offence to beings, whose wrath
might be displayed in devoting the land to utter sterility.

We cannot trace any record, stating the period or the manner in which
the Portuguese and their officious missionaries were expelled from
Congo; it is, however, supposed that they at length carried their
religious innovations to such a length, as to draw down upon them the
vengeance of the people, and that some bold and decisive steps were
taken to liberate the country from its usurpers. It is, however,
certain, that Capt. Tucky, in his late expedition, did not find a
single trace of either the Portuguese or their missionaries on the
banks of the Zaire.

The traveller has ever found much greater difficulty in making
discoveries in Mahometan than in Gentoo or Pagan countries, and from
this cause the great continent of Africa is much less known to
Europeans than it was in ancient times. Until the present age, and a
very recent part of it, our knowledge of that immense portion of the
globe extended but very little way from the coast, and its
enterprises have made great advances to a knowledge of that interior
before unexplored. The design of examining on land Africa, to find
out the manners, habits, and institutions of its men, the state of
the country, its commercial capabilities in themselves, and relative
to this country, formed the African Association. From the liberal
sentiments, knowledge, and comprehensive views of that society, were
the courage and enterprise of adventurers stimulated to particular
undertakings of discovery.


We are now arrived at the period when England, aroused by the
commercial advantages, which Portugal was deriving from her African
possessions, determined, in defiance of the pope of Rome and "the
Lords of Guinea," to participate in the treasures, and to form her
own settlements on the African coast, although it must be admitted,
that one of the motives by which the English merchants were actuated,
was not founded on humanity or patriotism. The glorious and splendid
results, which had arisen from the discovery of the East and West
Indies, caused the ocean to be generally viewed as the grand theatre
where wealth and glory were to be gained. The cultivation of the West
India Islands by the labour of Europeans, was found to be a task
almost impracticable, and the attention was thence drawn to discover
a source, from which manual labour could be obtained, adapted to the
climate, and this resource was soon found in the black population of
Africa. It is not to be doubted, that many of our African settlements
were formed for the purpose of procuring a supply of slaves, for the
West India possessions, at the same time, the attention of others was
excited by a far more innocent and brilliant prospect. It was in the
beginning of the seventeenth century, that an unbounded spirit of
enterprise appears to have been excited amongst the British
merchants, by vague reports of an Africa _El Dorado_. The most
flattering reports had reached Europe, of the magnitude of the gold
trade carried on at Timbuctoo, and along the course of the Niger;
despatches were even received from Morocco, representing its
treasures, as surpassing those of Mexico and Peru, and in 1618, a
company was formed in London, for the express purpose of penetrating
to the country of gold, and to Timbuctoo. Exaggeration stepped in to
inflame the minds of the speculators, with the enormous wealth which
awaited them in the interior of Africa. The roofs of the houses were
represented to be covered with plates of gold, that the bottoms of
the rivers glistened with the precious metal, and the mountains had
only to be excavated, to yield a profusion of the metallic treasure.
From the northern part of Africa, impediments of almost an
insuperable nature presented themselves, to the attainment of these
great advantages; immense deserts, as yet unexplored by human foot,
and the knowledge of the existence of tribes of barbarous people on
the borders of them, were in themselves sufficient to daunt the
spirit of adventure in those quarters, and ultimately drew the
attention to the discovery of another channel, by which the golden
treasures of Timbuctoo could be reached, without encountering the
appalling dangers of the deserts, or the murderous intentions of the

The existence of the great river Niger, had been established by the
concurrent testimony of all navigators, but of its course or origin,
not the slightest information had been received. The circumstance of
its waters flowing from the eastward, gave rise to the conjecture,
that they flowed through the interior of the continent, and emptied
themselves either by the Senegal or the Gambia, into the Atlantic. It
was, therefore, considered probable, that by ascending the Senegal or
the Gambia, which were supposed to be merely tributary streams of the
Niger, of which they formed the estuary, that Timbuctoo and the
country of gold might be reached; and so strongly was this opinion
impressed upon the minds of the merchants, and other adventurers,
that a journey to Timbuctoo became the leading project of the day,
and measures were accordingly taken to carry it into execution.

The first person sent out by the company established for exploring
the Gambia, was Richard Thompson, a Barbary merchant, a man of some
talent and enterprise, who sailed from the Thames in the Catherine,
of 120 tons, with a cargo valued at nearly two thousand pounds
sterling. The expedition of Thompson was unfortunate in the extreme,
but the accounts received of his adventures and death, have been
differently recited. It is certain, that Thompson ascended the Gambia
as far as Tenda, a point much beyond what any European had before
reached, and according to one account, he was here attacked by the
Portuguese, who succeeded in making a general massacre of the
English. Another account states, that he was killed in an affray with
his own people, and thence has been styled the first martyr, or more
properly the first victim in the cause of African discovery.

The company, however, nothing daunted by the ill success of Thompson,
despatched another expedition on a larger scale, consisting of the
Sion of 200 tons, and the St. John of 50, giving the command to
Richard Jobson, to whom we are indebted for the first satisfactory
account of the great river districts of western Africa.

Jobson arrived in the Gambia, in November, 1620, and left his ship at
Cassau, a town situate on the banks of that river. Here, however, his
progress was impeded by the machinations of the Portuguese, and so
great was the dread of the few persons belonging to that nation, who
remained at Cassan after the massacre of Thompson, that scarcely one
could be found, who would take upon himself the office of a pilot to
conduct his vessel higher up the river. In this extremity he had no
other resource than to take to his boats, but, on ascending the
river, he found his merchandise in comparatively little request, and
repented that he had not laden his boats with salt. He soon
afterwards met with Brewer, who had accompanied Thompson to Tenda,
and remained with the English factory established up the river. He
also filled Jobson with "golden hopes." Wherever the English stopped,
the negro kings, with their wives and daughters, came down to the
river side to buy, or rather to beg for trinkets, and still more for
brandy. They also showed themselves by no means ignorant of the art
of stealing, but their thefts were, in some degree, obliged to be
winked at, for fear of offending the royal personages, and drawing
down upon themselves the secret vengeance of the uncivilized hordes.
On Christmas day Tirambra, a negro prince, a great friend of the
English, sent them a load of elephant's flesh, which was accepted
with tokens of the greatest respect and gratitude, although the whole
gift was secretly thrown away.

After a navigation in boats of nearly thirty days, Jobson reached the
rapids of Barraconda, the highest point to where the tide flows, and
where he found himself involved in great difficulties. The ascent was
to be made against a current running with the greatest rapidity; the
great number of hidden rocks made it dangerous to pursue their course
during the night, the same time, that in attempting to avoid the
rocks, they struck upon sand banks and shallows, which often obliged
the crew to strip and go into the water, for the purpose of clearing
the boats from the sands. In the performance, however, of this task,
the greatest danger was run from the vast number of crocodiles, that
infested the river, and which, in several instances, seemed to be in
waiting for any prey with which the boats could supply them. The
river was also filled with "a world of sea-horses, whose paths, as
they came on shore to feed, were beaten with tracts as large as a
London highway." The land on either side of the river was covered
with immense forests of unknown trees, which appeared to team with
living things, feathered and quadruped, making a roar sometimes,
which was sufficient to instil terror into the stoutest heart.
Amongst the latter, the baboons appeared to hold the sovereignty of
the woods, and whenever the navigation of the river obliged the
travellers to keep close in shore, where the banks were covered with
trees; the baboons posted themselves on the branches, and kept up a
regular attack upon the navigators, throwing at them the largest
branches, which they could break from the trees, and apparently
holding a palaver with each other, as to the best mode of prosecuting
the attack against the lawless intruders into their territory. They
appeared actually to be aware when a branch hit one of the
navigators, for they immediately up a shout of triumph, screaming
hideously, and "grinning ghastly a horrible smile," as if expressive
of their victory. The voices of the crocodiles calling, as it were,
to each other, resembling the sound "of a deep well," might be heard
at the distance of a league, whilst the elephants were seen in huge
hordes, raising their trunks in the air, and snorting defiance to all
who dared approach them. The latter are objects of great fear to the
natives, scarcely one of whom dare approach them, but they appeared
to have an instinctive sense of the superiority of the English, for
they no sooner made a movement against them, than they hurried away
with the speed of the forest deer, and were soon lost in the depths
of their native forests. Three balls were lodged in one of the
animals, but he made off with them; he was, however, soon after found
dead by the negroes. The most formidable animals, however, were the
lions, ounces, and leopards, which were seen at some distance, but
the sailors could not obtain a shot at them. At one of their halting
places, the baboons appeared like an army consisting of several
thousands, some of the tallest placed in front, marshalled under the
guidance of a leader, the smaller ones being in the middle, and the
rear brought up by the larger ones. The sailors showed some
disposition to enter into an acquaintance with the leader of the
army, but the desire was by no means mutual, for nature has very
kindly infused into the hearts of these creatures a strong distrust
in the friendly advances of their brother bipeds, knowing them to be,
in many of their actions, false, hollow, and deceitful, a proof of
which, one of the leaders of the army received in a very striking and
forcible manner, in the shape of a bullet, which passed directly
through his body. The baboons were, however, determined that their
treacherous friends should not obtain possession of the body of their
murdered leader, for before the sailors could arrive at the spot
where the deceased general lay, his indignant and patriotic
companions had carried his body away. On following these creatures to
their haunts in the recessess of the forest, places were found, where
the branches had been so intertwined, and the ground beaten so
smoothly, as to make it rather difficult to believe that the labour
had not been accomplished by human hands.

On the 26th of January, Jobson arrived at Tenda, and he immediately
despatched a messenger to Buckar Sano, the chief merchant on the
Gambia, who soon after arrived with a stock of provisions, which he
disposed of at reasonable prices. In return for the promptitude, with
which Buckar Sano had replied to his message, Jobson treated him with
the greatest hospitality, placing before him the brandy bottle as the
most important object of the entertainment. Buckar Sano seemed by no
means unwilling to consider it in that character, for he paid so many
visitations to it that he became so intoxicated, that he lay during
the whole of the night dead drunk in the boat. Buckar Sano, however,
showed by his subsequent conduct, that drunkenness was not a vice, to
which he was naturally addicted, and that the strength of the spirit
had crept upon him, before he was aware of the consequences that were
likely to ensue. On any subsequent occasion, when the brandy bottle
was tendered to him, he would take a glass, but on being pressed to
repeat it, he would shake his head with apparent tokens of disgust;
after the exchange of some presents, and many ridiculous ceremonies,
Buckar Sano was proclaimed the white man's alchade, or mercantile
agent. Jobson had, however, some reason to doubt his good faith, from
the accounts which he gave of a city four months journey in the
interior, the roofs of the houses of which were covered with sheets
of gold. It must, however, be considered, in exculpation of the
supposed exaggerated accounts of Buckar Sano, that the Europeans at
that time possessed a very circumscribed knowledge of the extent of
the interior of Africa, and that a four months journey, to a
particular city, would not be looked upon at the time as
transgressing the bounds of truth. It is most probable that Buckar
Sano alluded to Timbuctoo, a place that has given rise to more
extraordinary conjectures, and respecting which, more fabulous
stories have been told than of Babylon, or of Carthage of ancient

The circumstance of a vessel having arrived in the river for the
purpose of traffic, caused a strong sensation throughout the country,
and the natives flocked from all the neighbouring districts, anxious
not only to obtain a sight of the white men, but to commence their
commercial dealings. They erected their huts on the banks of the
river, which in a short time resembled a village, and for the first
time, the busy hum of trade was heard in the interior of Africa. The
natives, with whom Jobson commenced his commercial dealings, appeared
to possess some traces of civilization, nor were they deficient in
many of the arts, which are known amongst the civilized nations, and
which, even at that time, were with them but in their infancy.

To these people, however, succeeded a different race of visitors,
far more rude and uncivilized, whose bodies were covered with skins
of wild animals, the tails hanging as from the beasts. The men of
this race had never seen a white man before, and so great was their
fear, when Jobson presented himself amongst them, that they all ran
away, and stationed themselves at some distance from the river. They
were, however, soon tempted back again, at the sight of a few beads,
and the most friendly relations were afterwards established between

Jobson found that in Tenda, as elsewhere, salt was the article
chiefly in demand, but he had unfortunately omitted to provide
himself with any great quantity of that article. Iron wares met with
a ready sale, though these were supplied at a cheaper rate by a
neighbouring people. The sword-blade of Buckar Sano, and the brass
bracelets of his wife, appeared to Jobson to be specimens of as good
workmanship as could be seen in England. Jobson, from very
prudential motives, abstained from mentioning gold; but Buckar Sano,
who knew perhaps what Europeans most coveted, told him, that if he
continued to trade with Tenda, he could dispose of all his cargoes
for gold. The negro merchant affirmed, that he had been four times at
a town in which the houses were all covered with gold, and distant a
journey of four moons. Jobson was informed that six days journey from
St. John's Mart, the name which he gave to the factory at Tenda, was
a town called Mombar, where there was much trade for gold. Three
stages farther was Jaye, whence the gold came. Some of the native
merchants, finding that Jobson had not any salt with him, refused to
enter into any commercial dealings with him, and returned highly
dissatisfied. For the commodities which he did dispose of, he
obtained, in exchange, gold and ivory; he could have obtained hides
in abundance, but they were too bulky a commodity to bear the expense
of conveyance.

Jobson wisely adapted his carriage to the negro customs; he danced
and sung with the natives, and entered with a proper spirit into all
their entertainments. He remarks, that the water of the Gambia above
Barraconda has such a strong scent of musk, from the multitude of
crocodiles, that infest that part of the river, as to be unfit for
use. The torpedo also abounds in the river about Cassan, and at first
caused not a little terror and amazement to the crew.

Amongst other acts of kindness, which Buckar Sano showed to the
Englishman, he offered to introduce him at the court of Tenda. This,
in a commercial point of view, was an advantage not to be overlooked,
independently of the knowledge, which he would acquire of the
internal geography of the country. On reaching the king's presence,
an example was witnessed of the debasing homage, which is usually
paid to negro princes, and of which some striking examples will be
given in the journey of Clapperton. The great and wealthy merchant,
on appearing in the presence of the king, first fell on his knees,
and then throwing off his shirt, extended himself naked and flat on
the ground, whilst his attendants almost buried him beneath dust and
mud; after grovelling like a beast for some time in this position, he
suddenly started up, shook off the mud from him, in which operation
he was assisted by two of his wives, who then assisted him in
equipping himself in his best attire, with his bow and quiver, and
all the other paraphernalia of a person of rank and consequence. He
and his attendants, after having made a semblance of shooting at
Jobson, laid their bows at his feet, which was understood to be a
token of homage. The king even assured the English captain, that the
country, and every thing in it, were then placed at his disposal,
"which bounty, observes Jobson, could require no less than two or
three bottles of my best brandy, although the English were not
sixpence the better for the grant."

The dry season had now commenced, and Jobson observed that the waters
of the river were gradually sinking lower and lower; but the city,
the roofs of which were plates of gold, haunted the busy fancy of
Jobson, and he used every endeavour to ascend the river, in order
that he might discover the sources from which the plates of gold were
made. It was evident to him, that Buckar Sano had either practised an
imposition upon him, or that he had grossly exaggerated the treasures
of the wonderful city; but in regard to the former, he could not
divine any motive by which Buckar Sano could be actuated in imposing
upon him; and in regard to the latter, making every allowance for
exaggeration, it might eventually transpire, that the country
abounded with the precious metal, although perhaps not exactly in the
extraordinary degree as reported by Buckar Sano. After encountering
many difficulties, he was obliged to relinquish the farther ascent of
the river, nor did he even reach the point where the previous
discoveries of Thompson terminated, which may be considered as the
utmost boundary of the discoveries of that period; indeed many years
elapsed before any travellers passed the limits at which Thompson or
Jobson had arrived. The latter gives a strange report, which,
however, was in some degree partially circulated before him, of a
silent traffic being carried on in the interior between the moors and
a negro nation, who would not allow themselves to be seen. "The
reason," he adds, "why these negroes conceal themselves, is, that
they have lips of an unnatural size, hanging down halfway over their
breasts, and which they are obliged to rub with salt continually, to
keep them from putrefaction." Thus even the great salt trade of the
interior of Africa is not wholly untinged with fable.

The stream became at last so shallow, that Jobson could not ascend
any farther, and he began his voyage downwards on the 10th February,
intending to return at the season when the periodical rains filled
the channel. He was, however, never able to execute this purpose, as
he and the company became involved in a quarrel with the merchants,
whom he visits with his highest displeasure, representing them as
persons alive only to their own immediate interests, and utterly
regardless of any of those honourable motives with which all
commercial dealings ought to be characterised.

Jobson may be said to have been the first Englishman, who enjoyed the
opportunity of observing the manners and superstitions peculiar to
the interior of Africa, but that must be taken as only within the
narrow limits to which the discoveries at that period extended. He
found that the chiefs of the different nations were attended by bands
of musicians, to whom he gives the appellation of juddies or
fiddlers, and compares them to the Irish rhymsters, or, as we should
now compare them, to the Italian improvisatori. By some other authors
they are called jelle, or jillemen; the instruments on which they
perform being rudely made of wood, having a sonorous sound, on
account of its extreme hardness, and in some instances they exhibit
the knowledge of the power of an extended string, by fastening a
piece of the gut of an animal across a plane of wood, and beating on
it with a stick. Like the majority of the musicians of the ruder
tribes, the excellence of their music depends on the noise which is
made, and if it be so obstreperous, as almost to deafen the auditors,
the greater is the pleasure which is shown.

These wandering minstrels are frequently attended by the Greegree
men, or sorcerers, who, on account of the fantastic dress which they
wear, form a most motley group; the Greegree men, trying to outvie
each other in the hideous and fantastic style of their dress, and the
more frightful they make themselves appear, the greater they believe
is the effect of their sorcery. The principal festivals are those of
circumcision and of funeral. Whenever former ceremony is performed, a
vast concourse of people are attracted, from every part of the
country, the operator being generally a Greegree man, who pretends to
determine the future fate of the individual, in the manner by which
the operation is performed, but which is always declared to be highly
prosperous, if a liberal present has been made. During the
performance of the ceremony, the forests appear in a blaze, the most
discordant shouts rending the air, intermixed with the sounds of
their instruments, composing altogether a tumult, which is heard at
the distance of many leagues. The dancing is described as of the most
ludicrous kind, marked by those indecencies, which generally
distinguish the amusements of the savage tribes. In these sports, the
women are always the foremost in the violence of their gestures; the
young ones selecting the objects of their affection, to bestow upon
them some token of their attachment.

The funeral of their chiefs is a ceremony of great solemnity, and in
some of its forms has a strong resemblance to an Irish wake. Flowers
of the most odorous scent are buried with the corpse, which is also
supplied with a considerable quantity of gold, to assist him on his
entrance into the other world, where it is believed, that the degree
of happiness, is proportionate to the quantity of gold which the
deceased has in his possession. It must, however, be mentioned, that
the natives of this part of Africa, appear to be wholly exempt from
the stigma, which belongs to some of the other tribes of Africa,
in the human victims which are sacrificed at the funerals of their
kings or chiefs, and which in some cases amount to three or four
hundred. The funerals of the kings of Tenda are conducted with a
decorum highly creditable to the people, considering their
uncivilised state; and the graves are frequently visited by the
relatives of the deceased, to repair any injury, which they may have
sustained from the violence of the rains, or the attacks of
carnivorous animals.

At all the festivals, a personage called Horey, or which Jobson calls
the devil, acts a most conspicuous part, at the same time, that he
generally carries on his operations in secret, impressing thereby on
the minds of the natives, an idea of his invisibility. The Horey
generally takes his station in the adjoining woods, whence he sends
forth the most tremendous sounds, supposed to have a very malignant
influence on all those who happen to be within hearing. It is,
however, a fortunate circumstance for the native, who is so
unfortunate as to be within hearing of the Horey's cries, that the
method is known, of appeasing the vindictive spirit of the Horey,
which is, by placing a quantity of provisions, in the immediate
vicinity of the place where his roaring is heard; and if on the
following day the provisions have disappeared, which is sure to be
the case, the natives are then satisfied that the Horey has been
appeased, which, however, lasts only for a short time, for as the
appetite of the Horey is certain to return, his cries are again
heard, and the provisions are again deposited for his satisfaction.

In regard to this Horey or devil, rather a ludicrous story is told by
Jobson, who, being in company with a Marabout, and hearing the Horey
in full cry in a neighbouring thicket, seized a loaded musket,
declaring his resolution aloud, to discharge the contents without any
further ceremony, at his infernal majesty. Dreading the consequences,
which might befal the whole nation, were the devil to be killed, the
Marabout implored Jobson to desist from his murderous design; on a
sudden, the hoarse roar of the Horey was changed into a low and
plaintive sound, expressive of an individual imploring mercy from his
destroyer;--again Jobson levelled his gun at the spot whence the
sound issued, when on a sudden, his infernal majesty presented
himself in the shape of a huge negro, bloated with fat, and who now
lay on the ground, his devilish spirit quelled, and apparently in
such an agony of fear, as to be unable to sue for the mercy of the
avenging Englishman, who stood laughing over him, at the idea of
having so easily vanquished an African devil.

The dissensions, which took place amongst the company, on the return
of Jobson, put an end for a time to all further discoveries. It was
evident that these divisions in the company, arose from a spirit of
jealousy amongst certain members of it, who had formed amongst
themselves certain schemes of personal aggrandizement, and were
therefore unwilling to despatch any one into those quarters, in which
such abundant sources presented themselves, of amassing inexhaustible

The next attempt was made by Vermuyden, an opulent merchant, on the
Gambia, about the year 1660 or 1665, who equipped a boat abundantly
stored with bacon, beef, biscuit, rice, strong waters, and other
comfortable supplies, the weight of which, however, was so great,
that on arriving at the flats and shallows, the vessel could not
proceed on her voyage without the greatest danger. After navigating
the shallows for some time, he arrived at a broad expanse of water,
which he compared to Windermere Lake, and he now found himself on a
sudden entangled in a great difficulty, owing to a number of streams
flowing into this lake, and the consequent uncertainty which existed,
of choosing that particular one, which might be considered the main
branch or stream; and were he to ascend any other, he might find that
all his labours had been spent in vain, as it might lead him to a
quarter, at a great distance from those stations and towns, where the
Europeans had established their commercial settlements. "Up the
buffing stream," says Vermuyden, "with sad labour we wrought," and
when he had ascended further up the stream, the sailors were often
obliged to strip themselves naked, and get into the water. This was
found, however, to be a most dangerous experiment, for the crocodiles
and river horses showed themselves in fearful numbers, and fully
inclined to treat the intruders on their rightful domain, with the
most marked hostility. Vermuyden says, they were ill pleased, or
unacquainted with any companions in these watery regions, and at all
events, he was convinced that his men were not very proper companions
for them. So daring were the river horses, that one of them struck a
hole in the boat with his teeth, an accident which was rather of a
serious nature, as there was no one on board possessing any skill in
carpentry; and as one attack had been made, great apprehension was
entertained that it might be renewed, and the consequences prove of
the most fatal kind. They, however, fell upon the expedient of fixing
a lantern at the stern of the vessel, which kept the monsters at a
respectful distance; they showing great alarm at any light shining in
the dark. On one occasion, when they landed for the purpose of
searching for gold, they found the territory guarded by an incredible
number of huge baboons, who seemed determined to enter into open
conflict with them, and to set at defiance every attempt that was
made to penetrate into the territory. If the sailors shouted to them;
the baboons set up a loud scream, showing their white teeth, and
making known the reception which the intruders would meet with, if
they made any further advances.

Finding that neither their oratory nor their menaces had any effect
upon the baboon army, a few guns were discharged at them, which
seemed rather to astonish them, for it was something which they had
never seen nor heard before; but as no immediate effect was visible
amongst their army, they began to consider the firing as a sort of
joke, and prepared to drive the invaders back to their boats. A
volley, however, from the human assailants, by which three of the
baboon army were laid prostrate, soon convinced the latter, that the
firing was no joke, and after making some slight show of resistance,
they carried away the dead, and retreated to the woods.

The discovery of gold being the principal object of the adventure of
Vermuyden, he landed frequently in different places, and proceeded to
wash the sand, and examine the rocks. Vermuyden had acquired, in his
native country, some slight knowledge of alchymy, and he carried out
with him not only mercury, aqua regia, and large melting pots, but
also a divining rod, which, however, as was most likely the case, was
not found to exhibit any virtue. Vermuyden, however, was not to be
laughed out of his superstitious notions, although his companions
took every opportunity of turning his expectations into ridicule, but
he found a very plausible excuse for the impotency of his divining
rod in the discovery, that its qualities had all been dried up by the
heat of the climate, and that, under every circumstance, it was not
an instrument adapted to the country in which it was to be carried
into use. On one occasion, however, the virtue of the divining rod
appeared suddenly to have returned, for his eyes were gladdened with
the sight of a large mass of apparent gold; the delusion, however,
soon vanished, for, on examination, it was found to be nothing more
than common spar. According to his report, the metal is never met
with in low fertile and wooded spots, but always in naked and barren
hills, embedded in a reddish earth. At one place, after a labour of
twenty days, he succeeded in extracting twelve pounds, and, at
length, he asserts that he arrived at the mouth of the mine itself,
and saw gold in such abundance, as surprised him with joy and
admiration. It does not appear, however, that he returned from his
expedition considerably improved in his fortune by the discovery of
this mine, nor does he give any notice of the real position of it, by
which we are led to conjecture, that the discovery of the mine was
one of those fabrications, which the travellers of those times were
apt to indulge in, for the purpose of gratifying their own vanity,
and exciting the envy of their fellow countrymen.

The spirit of African discovery began to revive in England about the
year 1720. At that time, the Duke of Chandos was governor of the
African company, and being concerned at the declining state of their
affairs, suggested the idea of retrieving them, by opening a path
into the golden regions, which were still reported to exist in the
central part of Africa. The company were not long in finding a person
competent to undertake the expedition, and, on the particular
recommendation of the duke, the appointment was given to Capt.
Bartholomew Stibbs. Being furnished with the requisite means for
sailing up the Gambia, Stibbs sailed in September, 1723, and, on the
7th of October, he arrived at James' Island, the English settlement,
situate about thirty miles from the mouth of the river, whence he
despatched a messenger to Mr. Willy, the governor, who happened at
that time to be visiting the factory at Joar, more than a hundred
miles distant, asking him to engage such vessels as were fit to
navigate the upper streams of the Gambia. To his great surprise and
mortification, however, he received an answer from Mr. Willy, that no
vessels of that kind were to be had, indeed, instead of using every
exertion to promote the cause for which Stibbs had been sent out by
the company, Willy appeared to throw every possible obstruction in
his way, as if he were actuated by a mean and petty spirit of
jealousy of the success, which was likely to await him. A few days,
however, after the answer of Willy had been received, a boat brought
down his dead body, he having fallen a victim to the fever of the
climate, which had previously affected his brain. Willy was succeeded
in the governorship by a person named Orfeur, who showed no immediate
objection to furnish the vessels and other articles necessary for the
expedition of Stibbs up the Gambia, but matters went on so slowly,
that the equipment was not completed until the middle of December,
when the season was fast approaching, which was highly unfavourable
for the accomplishment of the purpose, which Stibbs had in view. He
intended to proceed on his journey on the 24th of December, but a
slight accident, which happened to one of his boats, prevented his
departure on that day: from a superstitious idea that prevailed in
the mind of Stibbs, that success would not attend him, if he sailed
on the day celebrated as the nativity of Jesus Christ, he deferred
his journey to the 26th, when he departed with a crew consisting of
nineteen white men, a complete black one, although a Christian, and
who was to serve as an interpreter; twenty-nine Grumellas, or hired
negroes, with three female cooks; taking afterwards on board a
balafeu, or native musician, for the purpose of enlivening the
spirits of the party, and driving away the crocodiles, who are
superstitiously supposed to have a great dislike "to the concord of
sweet sounds," although emanating from the rude instrument of an
African musician.

During the early part of the voyage every thing appeared to augur
well for the success of the expedition; the party were in high
spirits, and no accident of any moment had yet occurred to check the
joviality, which prevailed amongst the crew. The natives were every
where disposed to carry on trade, and, in some places, saphies or
charms were hung on the banks of the river to induce the white men to
come on shore. Stibbs had endeavoured to conceal the object, of his
journey, but he had formed his calculations upon an erroneous
principle, for he found himself at last pointed out as the person who
was come to bring down the gold. As they approached the falls of
Barraconda, the fears of the native crew began to manifest
themselves, and, as is usual with minds immersed in ignorance and
superstition, they commenced to foretell the most dreadful disasters,
if their captain should attempt to proceed above the falls of
Barraconda; numerous stories were now told of the fearful accidents,
which had happened to almost every person who had attempted to
navigate the river above the falls; the upsetting of a single canoe,
from unskilful management, was magnified into the loss of a hundred,
and of course not a single individual escaped a watery grave. The
natives expected that their terrible narratives would have a proper
influence upon the mind of their captain, and that he would, in
consequence, desist from prosecuting his journey beyond the falls,
but when, contrary to their expectations, he expressed his
determination to proceed to the utmost extent to which the river
would be found to be navigable, the natives presented themselves in
a body before him, and declared their firm determination not to
proceed any further, for, to the apparent surprise of Stibbs, they
informed him that Barraconda was the end of the world, and certainly
no person but a fool, or a madman, would attempt to penetrate any
further. Instances, certainly, they confessed had been known of
persons going beyond the end of the world, but then, as might be
naturally expected, they never were seen any more, being either
devoured by enormous beasts, or carried away into another world, by
some horrid devils, who were always on the watch to catch the
persons, who rejecting the advice, which they themselves were now
giving, were so fool hardy as to throw themselves in their power.
Stibbs now found himself in rather an unpleasant predicament, the
natives appeared resolute not to proceed beyond Barraconda, and Stibbs
knew well that it would be highly imprudent in him to proceed without
them. A palaver was held, and all the arguments which Stibbs could
bring forward, failed to produce the desired effect upon his alarmed
crew. He, however, suddenly bethought himself, that he had an
argument in his possession, of greater potency, than any that could
be afforded by the most persuasive arguments, and taking a bottle of
brandy from his chest, he gave to each man a glass of the spirit,
when, on a sudden, a very extraordinary change appeared to take place
in their opinions and sentiments. They might have been misled as to
Barraconda being the end of the world, and they did now remember some
instances of persons returning, who had been beyond the falls, and as
to the enormous animals, who were said to have devoured the voyagers;
they now believed that no other animals were meant than crocodiles
and river horses, which, although certainly formidable, were not by
any means such dreadful objects as to prevent them prosecuting their
voyage. Thus, what the powers of oratory could not effect, nor the
arguments of sound and deliberate reason accomplish, was achieved in
a moment by the administration of a small quantity of spirituous
liquid, giving bravery to the coward, and daring to the effeminate.

They had now arrived at the dreaded boundary of the habitable world,
but the falls were not found to be nearly so formidable as they had
been represented; they bore rather the character of narrows than of
falls, the channel being confined by rocky ledges and fragments,
between which there was only one passage, where the canoes rubbed
against the rocks on each side. Contrary to the reports, which had
been in general circulation, of the dispositions of the natives of
the Upper Gambia, in which they were represented to be of a most
ferocious and savage nature, they were found to be a harmless, kind,
and good-humoured people, who, on every occasion, hastened to render
every assistance in their power to the navigators, making them
presents of fowls and provisions, and, in some instances, refusing to
take any thing in return for the articles which they gave away.

The most laborious part of the journey now presented itself, which
consisted in the great exertions, which were necessary in order to
pass the flats and quicksands, which seemed to multiply as they
ascended the river, and which obliged the natives to strip and get
into the water, to drag the boats over the shallows by main force.
Although the natives had now ascertained beyond all further doubt,
that Barraconda was not the end of the world, yet, one part of their
story was fully verified, which was that relating to the enormous
animals, with which these desolate regions were tenanted. To the
present travellers, they appeared far more formidable than to their
predecessors, for the very elephants that had fled precipitately
before the crew of Jobson, struck the greatest terror into the party
of Stibbs; for one of them showed such a determined disposition to
exhibit the extent of his strength, that he turned suddenly upon the
crew, and in a very short time put the whole of them to flight. So
little did they show any symptoms of fear for the crew, that they
were frequently seen crossing the river in bands, at a very short
distance from the boats, throwing up the water with their trunks in
every direction, and raising such an emotion in the water, as to make
the boats rock about, to the great alarm of the crews, and
particularly the natives, who now began to wish, that they had not
been seduced by the potency of the spirituous liquid, to venture into
a region, where death presented itself to them, in the strict embrace
of an elephant's trunk, or bored to death by the teeth of the river
horse. In regard to the latter animal, the danger which they
incurred, was more imminent than with the elephants, but this did not
arise from the greater ferocity or savageness of the animal, for the
river horse moves in general in a sluggish and harmless manner; but
in the shallow places of the river, the horses were seen walking at
the bottom, and the space between them and the boat so small, that
the keel often came into collision with the back of the animal, who,
incensed at the affront offered to him, would be apt to strike a hole
through the boat with his huge teeth, and thereby endanger its
sinking. It was evident to the commander of the expedition, that the
courage of his native crew was almost paralyzed, when they had to
contend with any of these formidable creatures, although he had no
reason to complain of their exertions, in dragging the boats over the
flats and shallows, which appeared to abound in every part of the

It now became manifest to Stibbs, that he had chosen an unfavourable
time of the year for his expedition; for, after having spent two
months, he found himself on the 22nd February, only fifty-nine miles
above Barraconda, and at some distance from Tenda, consequently he
was not so successful as either Thompson or Jobson, notwithstanding
his means were more efficient, and adapted to the purpose. Stibbs,
however, expressed himself greatly disappointed with the results of
his expedition, and began to look upon the golden mines of Africa,
represented as they had been to be inexhaustible, as nothing more
than the grossest falsifications, made to suit some private purpose,
or to throw a certain degree of ridicule upon the plans and exertions
of the African company. He had been informed of a mighty channel,
which was to lead him into the remote interior of Africa, but he had
as yet only navigated a river, which in certain seasons is almost
dry, and where the crews were obliged to assume the character of the
amphibious; for at one time, they were obliged to be for hours in the
water, dragging the boats over the shallows, and at another, they
were on the land, dragging the boats over it, in order to surmount
the ledges of rocks, which extended from shore to shore. At one time
they were rowing over the backs of the river horses, and the next,
they ran the risk of being thrown upon their own back, by the trunks
of the elephants, or having them snapped in two between the jaws of
the crocodiles.

The source of the great river, which, according to the description
then given of it, could not be any other than the Niger, was,
according to the opinion of Stibbs, "nothing near so far in the
country, as by the geographers has been represented." The river,
which he had navigated, did not answer in any degree with the
description which had been given of the Niger. The name was not even
known in the quarters through which he had passed; it did not flow
from any lake, that he could hear of, or which was known to any of
the natives, nor did it communicate with the Senegal, or any other
great river; and so far from it being a mighty stream in the
interior, the report was given to him by the natives, that at about
twelve days journey above Barraconda, it dwindled into a rivulet, so
small that the "fowls could walk over it."

On the return of Stibbs to the company's settlement at the month of
the Gambia, these reports were received with great reluctance, and
the strongest doubts were thrown upon their authenticity. At that
time, a person of the name of Moore was the company's factor on the
Gambia; and in order to invalidate the statements of Stibbs, he
produced Herodotus, Leo, Edrisi, and other high authorities, whilst
on the other hand, Stibbs declared, that he had never heard of such
travellers before, and that he did not see why greater faith should
be put in their reports, than in his.

Stibbs for some time supported the veracity of his statements, but
Moore and Herodotus at length prevailed, and Stibbs retired from the
service in disgust. There were, however, many strongly inclined to
attach implicit belief to the statements of Stibbs, at all events,
they had the direct tendency of preventing any other voyage being
undertaken for some time, for exploring that part of the African

The first person who brought home any accounts of French Africa, was
Jannequin, a young man of some rank, who, as he was walking along the
quay at Dieppe, saw a vessel bound for this unknown continent, and
took a sudden fancy to embark and make the voyage. He was landed at a
part of the Sahara, near Cane Blanco. He was struck in an
extraordinary degree with the desolate aspect of the region. In
ascending the river, however, he was delighted with the brilliant
verdure of the banks, the majestic beauty of the trees, and the thick
impenetrable underwood. The natives received him hospitably, and he
was much struck by their strength and courage, decidedly surpassing
similar qualities in Europeans. He saw a moorish chief, called the
Kamalingo, who, mounting on horseback, and brandishing three javelins
and a cutlass, engaged a lion in single combat, and vanquished that
mighty king of the desert. Flat noses and thick lips, so remote from
his own ideas of the beautiful, were considered on the Senegal, as
forming the perfection of the human visage; nay, he even fancies that
they were produced by artificial means. Of actual discovery, little
transpired worthy of record in the travels of Jannequin, and his
enthusiasm became soon daunted by the perils which at every step
beset him.


Nearly seventy years had elapsed, and the spirit of African discovery
had remained dormant, whilst in the mean time the remotest quarters
of the globe had been reached by British enterprise; the vast region
of Africa still remaining an unseemly blank in the map of the earth.
To a great and maritime nation as England then was, and to the cause
of the sciences in general, particularly that of geography, it was
considered as highly discreditable, that no step should be taken to
obtain a correct knowledge of the geographical situation of the
interior of Africa, from which continual reports arrived of the
existence of great commercial cities, and the advantages which the
Arabs derived from their intercourse with them. For the purpose of
promoting this great national undertaking, a small number of
highly-spirited individuals formed themselves into what was termed
the African Association, A sum of money was subscribed, and
individuals were sought for, who were qualified to undertake such
arduous and dangerous enterprises. Lord Rawdon, afterwards the
Marquess of Hastings, Sir Joseph Banks, the Bishop of Llandaff, Mr.
Beaufoy, and Mr. Stuart, were nominated managers.

The first adventurer was Mr. Ledyard, who, from his earliest age, had
been a traveller from one extremity of the earth to the other. He had
circumnavigated the globe with Capt. Cook, had resided for several
years amongst the American indians, and had travelled with the most
scanty means from Stockholm round the Gulf of Bothnia, and thence to
the remotest parts of Asiatic Russia. On his return from his last
journey, Sir Joseph Banks was then just looking out for a person to
explore the interior of Africa, and Ledyard was no sooner introduced
to him, than he pronounced him to be the very man fitted for the
undertaking. Ledyard also declared that the scheme was in direct
unison with his own wishes, and on being asked how soon he could
depart, he answered, "Tomorrow." Some time, however, elapsed in
making the necessary arrangements, and a passage was shortly
afterwards obtained for him to Alexandria, with the view of first
proceeding southward from Cairo to Sennaar, and thence traversing the
entire breadth of the African continent.

He arrived at Cairo on the 19th of August, 1788. His descriptions of
Egypt are bold and original, but somewhat fanciful. He represented
the Delta as an unbounded plain of excellent land miserably
cultivated; the villages as most wretched assemblages of poor mud
huts, full of dust, fleas, flies, and all the curses of Moses, and
the people as below the rank of any savages he ever saw, wearing only
a blue shirt and drawers, and tattooed as much as the South Sea
islanders. He recommends his correspondents, if they wish to see
Egyptian women, to look at any group of gypsies behind a hedge in
Essex. He describes the Mohammedans as a trading, enterprising,
superstitious, warlike set of vagabonds, who, wherever they are bent
upon going, will and do go; but he complains that the condition of a
Frank is rendered most humiliating and distressing by the furious
bigotry of the Turks; to him it seemed inconceivable that such enmity
should exist among men, and that beings of the same species should
trick and act in a manner so opposite. By conversing with the Jelabs,
or slave merchants, he learned a good deal respecting the caravan
routes and countries of the interior. Every thing seemed ready for
his departure, and he announced that his next communication would be
from Sennaar, but, on the contrary, the first tidings received were
those of his death. Some delays in the departure of the caravans,
acting upon his impatient spirit, brought on a bilious complaint, to
which he applied rash and violent remedies, and thus reduced himself
to a state, from which the care of Rosetti, the Venetian consul, and
the skill of the best physician of Cairo sought in vain to deliver

The society had, at the time they engaged Ledyard, entered into terms
with Mr. Lucas, a gentleman, who, being captured in his youth by a
Sallee rover, had been three years a slave at the court of Morocco,
and after his deliverance acted as vice-consul in that empire. Having
spent sixteen years there, he had acquired an intimate knowledge of
Africa and its languages. He was sent by way of Tripoli, with
instructions to accompany the caravan, which takes the most direct
route into the interior. Being provided with letters from the
Tripolitan ambassador, he obtained the Bey's permission, and even
promises of assistance for this expedition. At the same time he made
an arrangement with two sheerefs or descendants of the Prophet, whose
persons are held sacred, to join a caravan with which they intended
to travel. He proceeded with them to Mesuraba, but the Arabs there
being in a state of rebellion, refused to furnish camels and guides,
which, indeed, could scarcely be expected, as the Bey had declined to
grant them a safe conduct through his territories. Mr. Lucas was
therefore obliged to return to Tripoli, without being able to
penetrate further into the continent. He learned, however, from
Imhammed, one of the sheerefs, 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 Centra. Africa,
very imperfect, indeed, yet superior to any that had ever before

According to the information 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 which proved at that time to be correct, though affairs
have since greatly changed. The Kashna caravan often crossed the
Niger, and went onwards to great kingdoms behind the Gold Coast,
Gongah or Kong, Asiente or Ashantee, Yarba or Yarriba, through which
Clapperton afterwards 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 be evident, when we observe that it was in Kashna, that
Ben Ali considered himself as having crossed that river. His Niger,
therefore, was the Quarrama, or river of Zermie, 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 of any magnitude assume an
imposing appearance.

Mr. Lucas made no further attempt to penetrate into Africa. The next
expedition was made by a new agent, and from a different route. Major
Houghton, who had resided for some years as consul at Morocco, and
afterwards in a military capacity at Goree, undertook the attempt to
reach the Niger by the route of 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 undertaking, but without that
cool and calculating temper 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 capital of Woolli, where
the venerable chief received him with extreme kindness, promised to
furnish guides, and assured him he might go to Timbuctoo with his
staff in his hand. The only evil that befell him at Medina, arose
from a fire that broke out there, and spreading rapidly through
buildings roofed with cane and matted grass, converted a town of a
thousand houses, in an hour, into a heap of ashes. Major Houghton ran
out with the rest of the people into the fields, saving only such
articles as could be carried with him.

He mentions, that by trading at Fattatenda, a person 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 afterwards received from him, dated Simbing, 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 after the negroes brought down to Pisania, the melancholy
tidings of his death, of which Mr. Park subsequently learned the
particulars. Some moors had persuaded the major to accompany them to
Tisheet, a place in the great desert, frequented on account of its
salt mines. In alluring him thither, their object, as it 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 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
remains wore abandoned to the fowls of the air.

A considerable degree of information respecting the country on the
Senegal, was procured by a person of the name of Bruce, who had a
large share in the administration of the affairs of the French
African Companies. In one of his numerous journeys, he ascended the
Senegal as far as Gallam, and established a fort or factory at
Dramanet, a populous and commercial town. The inhabitants carried on
a trade as far as Timbuctoo, which they described as situated 500
leagues in the interior. They imported from it gold and ivory, and
slaves from Bambarra, which was represented by them, as an extensive
region between Timbuctoo and Cassan, barren but very populous. The
kingdom of Cassan was said to be formed into a sort of island, or
rather peninsula, by the branches of the Senegal. Gold was so
abundant there, that the metal often appeared on the surface of the
ground. From these circumstances it may be concluded, that Cassan was
in some degree confounded with Bambouk, which borders it on the
south. It had long been the ambition of the French, to find access to
this golden country, but the jealousy of the native merchants
presented an obstacle, that could not be easily surmounted.


There is no Chapter IV as the following chapter was numbered
Chapter V by mistake.


The death of Major Houghton left the African Association without a
single individual employed in the particular service, for which the
company was originally established. On a sudden, Mr. Mungo Park, a
native of Scotland, offered himself to the society, and the committee
having made such inquiries as they thought necessary, accepted him
for the service.

His instructions were very plain and concise. He was directed, on his
arrival in Africa, to pass on to the river Niger, either by the way
of Bambouk, or by such other route as should be most convenient; that
he should ascertain the cause, and if possible, the rise and
termination of that river; that he should use his utmost exertion to
visit the principal towns or cities in its neighbourhood,
particularly Timbuctoo and Houssa, and that he should afterwards
return to Europe, by such route as, under the then existing
circumstances of his situation, should appear to him most advisable.

He sailed from Portsmouth on the 22nd of May, 1793, and on the 4th

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