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their manners, customs, &c. in his highly-interesting jou published only three years since; its publication having been retarded, first, by his being called into active service during the unfortunate Ashantee war, and subsequently by his being hurried off on his last great enterprise, when he was compelled to leave the superintendence of its publication to his friend Captain Sabine.
While at Falaba, upon his third embassy, he received intelligence of his promotion to the rank of captain, and immediately on his return to Sierra Leone, in t!ie autumn of 1822, he was ordered to join his regiment on the Gold Coast, where he was employed in the command of a considerable native force on the frontier of the Ashantee country, and was frequently engaged with detachments of the Ashantee army.
Upon the death of Sir Charles M'Carthy, in 1824, Captain Laing was sent to England to acquaint the government with the state of the command in Africa. At this period, he obtained a short leave of absence to revisit Scotland, and returned to London in October 1824.
An opportunity now presented itself, which our traveller had long anxiously desired, of proceeding, under the auspices of government, on an expedition to discover the course and termination of the Niger. He was promoted to the rank of major, and departed from London on that enterprise early in February 1825, with the intention of leaving Tripoli for Timbuctoo in the course of the summer of that year. The kind treatment which he experienced from the late Marquis of Hastings, then at Malta, where the major went on his way to Tripoli, will be in the recollection of most of our readers: as the fact of his being repeatedly entertained at the table of the noble Marquis was noticed in all the public journals at the time.
At Tripoli a highly-interesting scene awaited him : while at the same time, we think it must have been to himself, and at least one other individual, a peculiarly painful one, both in prospect and retrospect. The period of marriage is one to which most persons look forward as a season of joy and congratulation, and it is to be hoped that such a season is not unfrequently regarded, retrospectively, as one of unmingled pleasure to the " contracting parties " and their friends. But the rule has its exceptions—a notable instance of which is to be found in the history of Major Laing, and in allusion to which, it is here necessary to premise, that in the progress of the intercourse which the Major necessarily had officially with Mr. Warrington, the British Consul at Tripoli, that gentleman was not likely, under the actual circumstances in which the Major was presented to him, to restrict himself to the dry routine of official duty, and we believe that it is an acknowledged maxim that mutual courtesy leads to mutual friendship. If, therefore, the existence of friendship between Mr. Warrington and Major Laing, contracted in the course of the performance of official duties, was not merely permissible, but laudable, the existence of a more tender feeling between the Major and the accomplished daughter of his friend, was equally permissible, and perhaps not less laudable. The parties, it will be recollected, were utter strangers to each other but a few weeks before: there was no time for protracted courtship; and on the 14th of July, 1825, Major Laing was married to Miss Emma Maria Warrington. But the eve of their marriage was also the eve of his departure upon that mission from which he was doomed, alas, never to return. The second day after the nuptials he set out for those valleys of death wherein all preceding adventurers had found a grave: for the mazes of African mystery have ever proved to be, in one form or other, a bourne from whence no traveller returns! The bitterness of parting from the objects of recent and romantic passion, under such circumstances, must have been indescribably distressing.
Had Major Laing been permitted to return, after having accomplished the great object of his heart, — that of ascertaining the course of the mysterious Niger, — how gladly would his admiring country have hailed him! With what transport would he have been received by his friends! by his three brothers, two of whom are, as he himself was, soldiers of fortune in a distant land — and by his five sisters — by his fether and his mother, now sinking into the vale of years — and, lastly, by his still nearer, though more recently acquired, connexion, his now widowed bride, for the endearing appellation of tmfe appears, in her case, to be scarcely applicable. But it was otherwise decreed.
• From the time of his leaving Tripoli until he reached Tuat, which he was forced to do by a circuitous route, letters were frequently received from him. At length, on the 18th of August, 1826, he reached Timbuctoo; and, on the 21st of September, he addressed the following letter, the last that was ever received from him, to his father-in-law, Mr.Warrington:—
"My Dear Consul,
"A very short epistle must serve to apprise you, as well as my dearest Emma, of my arrival at, and departure from, the great capital of central Africa; the former of which events took place on the 18th ult. — the latter will take place, please God, at an early hour to-morrow morning. I have abandoned all thoughts of retracing my steps to Tripoli, and came here with an intention of proceeding to Jenne by water j but this intention has been entirely upset, and my situation in Timbuctoo rendered exceedingly unsafe, by the unfriendly disposition of the Foulahs of Massina, who have this year upset the dominion of the Tuaric, and made themselves patrons of Timbuctoo, and whose sultan, Bello, has expressed his hostility towards me in no equivocal terms, in a letter which Al Saidi Boubokar, the sheik of this town, received from him a few days after my arrival. He has now got intelligence of my being in Timbuctoo; and as a party of Foulahs are hourly expected, Al Saidi Boubokar, who is an excellent good man, and who trembles for my safety, has strongly urged my immediate departure; and I am sorry to say that the notice has been so short, and I have so much to do previous to going away, that this is the only communication I shall, for the present, be able to make. My destination is Sego, whither I hope to arrive in fifteen days; but I regret to say the road is a vile one, and my perils are not yet at an end; but my trust is in God, who has hitherto borne me up amidst the severest trials, and protected me amidst the numerous dangers to which I have been exposed.
"I have no time to give you any account of Timbuctoo, but shall briefly state that, in every respect, except in size (which does not exceed four miles in circumference), it has completely met my expectations. Kabra is only five miles distant, and is a neat town, situated on the very margin of the river. I have been busily employed during my stay, searching the records in the town, which are abundant, and in acquiring information of every kind; nor is it with any common degree of satisfaction that I say my perseverance has been amply rewarded. I &m now convinced that my hypothesis, concerning the termination of the Niger, is correct.
"May God bless you all! I shall write you fully from Sego, as also my Lord Bathurst; and I rather apprehend that both letters will reach you at one time, as none of the Ghadamis merchants leave Timbuctoo for two months to come. Again, may God bless you all! My dear Emma must excuse my writing. I have begun a hundred letters to her, but have been unable to get through one. She is ever uppermost in my thoughts; and I look forward with delight to the hour of our meeting, which, please God, is now at no great distance."
This letter was left behind at Timbuctoo, and appears to have been brought by the nephew of Babani, together with an important document in Arabic, of which the following is the substance: —
"About a month after their safe arrival at Timbuctoo (Laing and young Moktah), the Prince of the Faithful, Sultan Ahmad, Ben Mohammed Labo, the lord and sovereign of all those countries, wrote a letter to his lieutenant-governor Osman, containing as follows: —
"'I have heard that a Christian intends coming to you; but whether he has already arrived or not I do not know. You must prevent him from arriving, if he has not reached you; and if he has, you must expel him the country in such a manner as to leave him no hope of returning to our countries, because I have received a letter from the tribe of Foulah, containing a caution against allowing Christians to come into the Mussulman countries in Soudan; which letter was written in the East, and contained an account of the mischiefs and impieties by which they have corrupted Spain and other countries.'
"When Governor Osman received this letter, he could not but obey it. He therefore engaged a sheik of the Arabs of the desert, named Ahmad, son of Obeid-allah, son of Rehal, of Soliman Barbooshi, to go out with the Christian, and protect him as far as the town of Arwan. Barbooshi accordingly went with him from Timbuctoo; but on arriving at his own residence, he treacherously murdered him, and took possession of all his property. This is within our knowledge, who know the affair, and have seen the letter of the _Prince of the Faithful, Sultan Ahmad Labo."
This document is attested in Timbuctoo by fifteen signatures. The following examination, by the British consul, of Bungola, who represents himself as the servant of the late Major Laing, professes to give the catastrophe of this melancholy story: —
"What is your name ? — Bungola.
"Were you Major Laing's servant ? — Yes (and he produced the following paper) : —
"' Azoad, 2d July, 1826.
"'I promise to pay the bearer, Bungola, the sum of six dollars per month, from the 15th of Dec. 1825, till my return to Ghadamis; or on the failure of that event, till the 15th of Dec. 1826; previously deducting fifty dollars, which I paid for his freedom.
".' A. Gordon Laing.'
"Were you with Major Laing at the first attack ? — Yes, and wounded. (Showing his head.)
"Did you remain with him at Mooktars ? — Yes,