Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

buctoo. Their intention probably was to rob and leave him in the Desert. At the end of two days he suspected their treachery, and insisted on returning to Jarra. Finding him perist in this determi. nation, the Moors robbed him of every thing he possessed, and went off with their camels; the poor Major being thus deserted, returned on foot to a watering place in possession of the Moors, called Tarra, He had been some days without food, and the unfeeling Moors re. fusing to give him any, he sunk at last under his distresses. Whether he actually perished of hunger, or was murdered outright by the savage Mahomedans, is not certainly known ; his body was dragged into the woods, and I was shewn at à distance, the spot where his remains were left to perish.'

The war, which obliged Mr. P. to deviate into Ludamar, arose from the circumstance of a few bullocks having been stolen from the Bambarrans by the Moors, and sold to the Dooty, or chief man of a town in Kaarta ; the cattle were claimed, but in vain ; and, in his method of declaring war, and of announcing the fate of his enemy, the King of Bambarra re, sembled the Scythians who sent to Alexander a mole and a bundle of arrows, as emblems of their arts and prowess : !

- With this view he sent a messenger and a party of horsemen to Daisy King of Kaarta, to inform him that the King of Bambarra, with nine thousand men, would visit Kemmoo in the course of the dry season; and to desire that he (Daisy) would direct his slaves to sweep the houses, and have every thing ready for their accommodation. The messenger concluded this insulting notification by pre. senting the King with a pair of iron sandals ; at the same time adding, that “ until such time as Daisy had worn out these sandals in his fight, he should never be secure from the arrows of Bambarra.”

Of the origin of the Moorish tribes who inhabit the borders of the Great Desert, little more seems to be known than whas is related by Leo che African, whose abridged account is as follows:

• Before the Arabian Conquest, about the middle of the seventh century, all the inhabitants of Africa, whether they were descended from Numidians, Phænicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, or Goths, were comprehended under the general name of Mauri, or Moors. All these nations were converted to the religion of Mahomet, during the Arabian empire under the Kaliphs. About this time many of the Numidian tribes, who led a wandering life in the Desert, and supported themselves upon the produce of their cattle, retired southward across the Great Desert, to avoid the fury of the Arabians; and by one of those tribes, says Leo, (that of Zanhaga) were discovered and conquered the Negro nations on the Niger. By the Niger, is here undoubtedly meant the river of Senegal, which in the Mandingo language is called Bafing, or the Black River.

To

• To what extent these people are now spread over the African continent, it is difficult to ascertain. There is reason to believe, that their dominion stretches from West to East, in a narrow line or belt from the mouth of the Senegal (on the northern side of that river,) Lo the confines of Abyssinia. They are a subtle and treacherous race of people ; and take every opportunity of cheating and plundering the credulous and unsuspecting Negroes. But their manners and general habits of life will be best explained, as incidents occur in the course of my narrative.'

On Mr. Park's arrival at Jarra, the frontier town of the Moorish kingdom of Ludamar, he solicited by presents the leave of Ali, the King, to pass through his territories; which was granted. The author accordingly left Jarra on the 27th of February; and here began his misfortunes. The Moors, unfeeling, proud, ignorant, and fanatical, hissed, shouted at, and abused him; they plundered him, and openly; for it was lawful, they said, for a Mohammedan to plunder a Christian. Mr. P. however pursued his journcy, and on March 14th reached Sampaka, a large town; where he lodged at the house of a Negroe who made gunpowder.

• The nitre is procured in considerable quantities from the ponds which are filled in the rainy season, and to which the cattle resort for coolness during the heat of the day. When the water is evaporated, a white efflorescence is observed on the mud, which the natives collect and purify in such a manner as to answer their purpose. The Moors supply them with sulphur from the Mediterranean; and the process is completed by pounding the different articles together in a wooden mortar. The grains are very unequal, and the sound of its ex. plosion is by no means so sharp as that produced by European gun. powder.'

At the village of Samee, Mr. Park was seized by a party of Moors, and conducted back to Benown, the residence of Ali. He suffered here all that religious hatred and sportive cruelty could inflict; solitude and confinement were punishments too light for a forlorn traveller and a Christian ; and except the persecution was continual, the malice of the Moors was not satisfied. His eyes were to have been put out merely be. cause they looked like cat's eyes, and he escaped death only by the circumstance of a pistol twice missing fire. !

At lengih, after a variety of hardships, Mr. Park was fortunate enough on the 2d of July to escape from the Moors. Traversing the wilderness, in which he suffered exceedingly from hunger and thirst, on the 5th July he reached a Negroe town called Wawra, belonging to Mansong King of Bambarra. Continuing his journey from this place, in company with some inhabitants of Kaarta, he passed through several towns of

Bambarra ;

Sego, the capiérthern and ented with high

Bambarra; and on the 21st of July he came in sight of Sego, and of the great object of his mission; the loug sought-for Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward.'--'I hastened to the brink,' says Mr. Park, 'and, having drank of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer, to the great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success.

The city of Sego, the capital of Bambarra, consists of four distinct towns, two on the northern and two on the southern side of the Niger. These are surrounded with high mud walls; the houses are built of clay, and are of a square form, with flat roofs : the number of inhabitants is nearly thirty thousand. The boats here used for crossing the Niger, or Joo liba, (great waters,) are composed of the trunks of two large trees joined together, not side by side, but endways. Mr. Park was prevented from crossing over to the southern bank of the Niger, by an order from Mansong King of Bambarra, and was advised to spend the night in a distant village. At this village, however, no one would receive him; and he was preparing to pass the night on the branches of a tree, in hunger and amid a storm, when he was relieved by a woman who was returning from the labours of the field. It was at the hut of this female that his wants were relieved and his sorrows sung..

The female part of the family lightened their labour by songs, one of which was composed extempore; for I was myself the subject of it. It was sung by one of the young women, the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were these.mil The winds roared, and the rains fell.-The poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree.--He has no mother to bring him milk; no wife to grind his corn. Chorus. Let us pity the white man; no mother has he, &c. &c."-At the end of the volume, we find these words formed into verse by the Duchess of Devonshire, and set to music by Ferrari. The song is as follows :

• The loud wind roar'd, the rain fell fast :

The White Man yielded to the blast: ,
He sat him down, beneath our tree;
For weary, sad, and faint was he,
And ah, no wife or mother's care,
For him, the milk or corn prepare :

CHORUS. '
The White Man shall our pity share ;
... Alas, no wife or mother's care,

For him, the milk or corn prepare.

II. The

m . The storm is o'er ; the tempest past; .
W. And Mercy's voice has hush'd the blast.

The wind is heard in whispers low ; -
The White Man far away must go ;- .
But ever in his heart will bear
Remembrance of the Negro's care..

CHORUS.
i Go, White Man, go ;-but with thee bear
. . The Negro's wish, the Negro's prayer ;
:: Remembrance of the Negro's care.';

The King of Bambarra, having heard, from the Moors of Sego, unfavourable reports of Mr. P., sent him a bag containing five thousand kowries, and an order to quit Sego; in consequence of which, the traveller proceeded eastward along the banks of the Niger, Near to a town called Kabba, he abserved the people collecting the fruit of the Shea trees, from which the vegetable butter is prepared. : * These trees (says Mr. P.) grow in great abundance all over this part of Bambárra. They are not planted by the natives, but are found growing naturally in the woods; and, in clearing wood land for cultivation, every tree is cut down but the Shea. The tree itself very much resembles the American oak; and the fruit, from the kernel of which, being, fast dried in the sun, the butter is prepared, by boiling the kernel in water, has somewhat the appearance of a Spanish olive. The kernel is enveloped in a sweet pulp, under a thin green rind; and the butter produced from it, besides, the ad. vantage of its keeping the whole year without salt, is whiter, firmer, and, to my palate, of a richer flavour, than the best butter I ever tasted made from cow's milk. The growth and preparation of this commodity seem to be among the first objects of African industry in this and the neighbouring states; and it constitutes a main article of their inland commerce.'

Pursuing his course along the banks of the Niger, which are very delightful, Mr. Park passed through the towns of Modiboo and Kea, and reached Moorzan; here he crossed the Niger to Silla, the end of his journey eastward. The reasons which determined him to proceed no farther are sufficient to justify him ; he was worne down by sickness, hunger, and fatigue; he was without any article of value to procure provisions; the King of Bambarra's kowries were nearly spent; if he were to subsist by charity, he must rely on Moorish charity; if he continued his journey, it must be through a country subjected to the power of Moors, and he had experienced the

* Kowries, or small shells, 250 of which are nearly equal in value to a shilling

. : . Moors

Moors to be merciless fanatics: he mightgain nonewinformation, and what he had gained might perish with him. Before he left Silla, however, he inquired from Moorish and Negroe traders, the course of the Niger," and the countries situated in its vi. cinity. The information which he received will be found in pp. 213—257.... We had designed to extract it, but we perceive that our limits will not admit so large a quotation.--As to the extent of the:Niger, Mr, P.'s bestainformants were ignorant of its termination describing the amazing length of its course only in general terms; and saying that they believe it runs to the world's end."

Owing to the swamps on the southern bank of the Niger, Mr. P.' was obliged to return westward on the northern bank. He avoided Sego; and, instead of re-tracing his former route, he continued his journey along the Niger ; depending for a precarious subsistence, and for accommodation, on the charity of the Negroes, and sometimes purchasing relief by writing saphies, or charms to procure wealth and avoid misfortune. In these saphies, both the Mohammedan and Pagan natives place à superstitious confidence. i ,,'' . . ** At a town called Bammakoo, Mr. P. quitted the Niger, and proceeded to Sibidooloo, the frontier town of the kingdom of Manding. After having remained here a few days; he pure sued his journey to Kamalia, where he was kindly received by a Bushreen named Kafra Taura. Kafra informed Mr. P. that it was-impossible to pass the Jalonka Wilderness at that season of the year : he offered to lodge and subsist him till the time when the rivers should be fordable and the grass burnt; and finally to take him along with the caravan to Gambia. Infius enced by the kindness of Karfa, and by the prospect of dangers which awaited him, if he immediately pursued his journey, Mr.P. remained at Kamalia from the 16th of September to the 19th of April. During this long interyal, he was diligent in augmenting his information concerning the climate, the productions of the country, the manners, customs, and dispositions of the natives, and the chief branches of their commerce. Of the climate, winds, &c. he thus writes :

• The whole of my route, both in going and returning, having been confined to a tract of country bounded nearly by the 12th and 15th parallels of latitude, the reader must imagine that I found the climate in most places extremely hot; but no where did I feel the heat so intense and oppressive as in the camp at Benown, of which mention has been made in a former place. In some parts, where the country ascends into hills, the air is at all times comparatively cool ; yet none of the districts which I traversed, could properly be called mountainous. About the middle of June, the hot and sultry atmo.

sphere

« ElőzőTovább »