Lander’s Travels by Robert HuishTravels of Richard and John Lander, into the Interior of Africa, for the Discovery of the course and Termination of the Niger

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  • 1836
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Employed in the African Service:

_A Prefatory Analysis of the Previous Travels_ OF
PARK, DENHAM, CLAPPERTON, ADAMS, LYON, RITCHIE, &c. 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 discovery.

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. Reflections.

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 Laing.

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 Woman.

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 Mungas.

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 Natives.

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 Katunga.

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. Kiama.

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 Water.

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 Intoxication.

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 Narrative.

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 reign.

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 success.

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 natives.

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 history.

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 them.

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 riches.

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 river.

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 continent.

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 him.

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 appeared.

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