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39

ART. IV. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 6 vols. 8vo. 1830-6. London: Murray.

OUR attention has been called to the subject indicated by the running title of the present article, by certain papers which have appeared in the above-mentioned publication, and especially by the death of Mr. Davidson, the celebrated traveller, another victim to the thirst for making discoveries in Africa, whose fate, although from its recent occurrence it could not have been noticed in these volumes, was ascertained by the "Royal Geographical Society" in March last. One thing, which on first thoughts may be considered as incredible, but which has heretofore been surmised and maintained by certain writers and travellers, seems by some communications in the Journal to be fully proved-viz. that the negroes in the interior of Africa are greatly in advance, in point of civilization, of those on the coast. John Lewis Burckhardt, who died in 1817, and who was the last Missionary sent out by the " African Associa tion," with the view of extending our knowledge of African geography and of ameliorating the condition of the natives, is one who has in his account of an Arab tribe in Meroe confirmed this fact; and the well-written Arabic despatches from Bello's court, now in the records of the British Foreign Office, may be regarded as still more satisfactory proofs of the accuracy of the statement. The name of Mr. Davidson and his undertaking to make his way to Tombuctoo is so closely associated with that of a companion, Edward Donellan, or rather Ábú Bekr, as regards that enterprise, as to have afforded to certain contributors to the volumes before us, extremely important and interesting particulars relative to the interior of the quarter of the globe that now engages our attention.

Every one is aware that unless it was the anxiety which prevailed concerning the source, course, and mouth of the Niger, no geographical problem, in reference to Africa, has created so much excitement as the city of Tombuctoo-its site and condition. Several Societies have been formed in England, which have striven hard, and not without many valuable results, to make, among other things, the interior of Africa familar to the civilised world. Of these enlightened and philanthropic bodies, the "African Association," which has already been mentioned, for many years took the lead. Disheartened at last, however, on account of the failures, and the loss of life which followed their endeavours, they ceased to employ agents and adventurers; but since the "Royal Geographical Society" has been established, the former has become united with it, and the cause of civilization and science continues to be efficiently promoted by their joint exertions.

In the course of last year Mr. Davidson, under such auspices, had

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the fortitude to offer himself or to accept that most perilous and heretofore disastrous expedition which has Tombuctoo or the interior of Africa for its principal or ultimate point of destination; and he was accompanied by Edward Donellan, or, rather, Abú Bekr, of whom the Rev. G. Č. Renouard, Foreign Secretary of the "Royal Geographical Society," in a paper entitled "Routes in North Africa by Abu Bekr es siddik," has communicated an exceedingly interesting narrative. It appears, in the First Part of the sixth volume of the Journal, and to it we now turn.

After the learned Secretary has informed the reader who may be acquainted with Dr. Madden's letters on the West Indies, that the above-mentioned Edward Donellan is the negro spoken of with such approbation and admiration in these letters-the communication in the Journal before us proceeds in the following terms,

“Dr. Madden, whose travels in the East had made him acquainted with the Arabic character, was not a little surprised to see it written with some neatness and great rapidity by a negro slave; and his surprise was increased when he found that this slave had scarcely attained his fifteenth year when he was torn from his friends and country, and conveyed, with the prospect of perpetual slavery, to a very distant land. When, in addition to this, he found that this slave was no idolater, but a very sincere worshipper of 'the one true God,' and that, consistently with a faith comparatively so pure, his moral conduct had obtained for him the respect of his equals and masters, his anxiety to release him from such degrading thraldom was wound up to the highest pitch. He applied without delay to Mr. Anderson, the slave's master, requesting him to fix a price, that steps might be taken forthwith for his redemption. But he applied in vain. Mr. Anderson declared that no price could recompense him for the loss of this slave's services. His integrity was such, that any sums might be confided to him; and such was his intelligence, that he kept a constant account of all the daily receipts and payments, of the rations allowed to the slaves, of articles brought into the premises, and of goods delivered from the stores. This report, as may be easily conceived, was only an additional stimulus to Dr. Madden's benevolence. He failed not to press on Mr. Anderson's attention the peculiar hardships of this poor man's case-born in his own country in a distinguished rank, blessed with a learned education, and retaining, through his own talents, industry, and integrity, a large portion of those acquirements and that respect, which he would have obtained in a very eminent degree, had he escaped the degradation of slavery. Mr. Anderson was not insensible to these powerful arguments, and with a liberality truly characteristic of the British character, replied: That though the services of his slave were too valuable for him to fix any price upon him, he would give that liberty for which no sum of money could be named as an adequate equivalent.' In consequence of this generous resolution, Dr. Madden had the satisfaction of receiving Edward Donellan's manumission by Mr. Anderson, according to all the legal forms, in a crowded court. Finding that Donellan, whose Mohammedan name is Abú Bekr, was desirous of returning to his own country, Dr. Madden determined

to assist him in effecting so desirable an object; and not long after the publication of his letters, in which Donellan's narrative was first printed, he recommended him to Mr. Davidson, an enterprising traveller, who had resolved to make another attempt to reach Tumbuktú. Abú Bekr, in the mean time, had come over to this country under the care of Captain Oldrey, R. N., another of the auxiliary magistrates in Jamaica, who had cordially united in promoting the welfare of Donellan, both before and after Dr. Madden's departure from the West Indies."

Then as to Abú Bekr's account of himself—

"The narrative of his life, from which the following abstract is taken, was written after his arrival in this country, in the presence of a friend with whom he was spending a few days in the neighbourhood of London. It is no doubt the same in substance as that compiled from his oral communication by Dr. Madden while in Jamaica, and printed in his work. It agrees, almost word for word, with another account of his life, drawn up while he was on his voyage from New York, at the request of Captain Oldrey. All these papers were written in the Arabic language-the only one which Abú Bekr had ever learned; for his accounts and memorandums, which were so useful to his employers, would have been of no service without his interpretation, as, though expressed in the English tongue, they were written in the Arabic character, and the difficulty of deciphering negro-English, so expressed, may be easily imagined.

"But it is time to allow Abú Bekr to speak for himself. His narrative is thus headed:-This is an account of the beginning of my life.

I was

"My name is Abú Bekr es siddík: my birthplace is Tumbut. educated in the town of Jenneh (Genneb), and fully instructed in reading and construing the Korán-but in the interpretation of it by the help of commentaries. This was [done] in the city of Ghónah, where there are many learned men ['uelmà], who are not natives of one place, but each of them, having quitted his own country, has come and settled there.'”

He further narrates that Tombuctoo, which he writes thus:Tumbut or Tumbuttu was his birth-place-that he was born about the year 1794-that his father was a member of the royal family, and that his grand-father had held a high office both in Tombuctoo and Jenneh-that after his father's death he was along with a tutor sent to Ghonah, where he remained, as it is gathered from other particulars, about three years-that a war then broke out between the King of Ghonah and Buntukkú-and that the former was defeated one of the consequences of this victory being that Abú Bekr was taken prisoner. But we must not abridge the following portion of this unfortunate man's narrative.

"On that day was I made a slave. They tore off my clothes, bound me with ropes, laid on me a heavy burden, and carried me to the town of Buntukku, and from thence to the town of Kumásí, the King of Ashanti's town. From thence through Askumá, and Ajimmakúh, in the land of Fantí, to Daghóh, near the salt sea.

"There they sold me to the Christians, and I was bought by a certain captain of a ship at that town. He sent me to a boat, and delivered me to

the people of the ship. We continued on board ship, at sea, for three months, and then came on shore in the land of Jamaica. This was the beginning of my slavery until this day. I tasted the bitterness of slavery from them,* and its oppressiveness: but praise be to God, under whose power are all things, He doth whatsoever he willeth! No one can turn aside that which He hath ordained, nor can any one withhold that which He hath given! As God Almighty himself hath said-Nothing can befall us unless it be written for us (in his book)! He is our master: in God, therefore, let all the faithful put their trust!

"The faith of our families is the faith of Islám. They circumcise the foreskin; say the five prayers;† fast every year in the month of Ramadán; give alms as ordained in the law; marry [only] four free women-a fourth is forbidden to them except she be their slave; they fight for the faith of God; perform the pilgrimage [to Mecca]-i. e. such as are able so to do; eat the flesh of no beast but what they have slain for themselves; drink no wine-for whatever intoxicates is forbidden unto them! they do not keep company with those whose faith is contrary to theirs-such as worshippers of idols, men who swear falsely by the name of the Lord, who dishonour their parents, commit murder or robbery, bear false witness, are covetous, proud, insolent, hypocrites, unclean in their discourse, or do any other thing that is forbidden. They teach their children to read, and [instruct them in] the different parts of knowledge; their minds are perfect and blameless according to the measure of their faith.

"Verily I have erred and done wickedly, but I entreat God to guide my heart in the right path, for He knoweth what is in my heart, and whatever [can be pleaded] in my behalf.

"Finished in the month of August, on the 29th day, in the year of the Messiah 1884 [1835].'

999

It is, according to Mr. Renouard's calculations, extremely probable, that Abú Bekr was about fourteen years of age when he was carried to the town of the Ashantees. He came to the West Indies as a slave in 1807 or 1808, and was about twenty-seven years in bondage. His first master was a mason of the name of Donellan, after whom Abú Bekr was baptized, although nothing appears from his own narrative or the communication of Mr. Renouard which can induce us to suppose that he ever obtained much instruction in the Christian faith.

"He never had opportunity to learn to read or write English, but in the accounts which he kept for his master, Mr. Anderson, he put everything in negro-English, and in the Arabic character, and read it off to the overseer in the evening. Though far from being able to write Arabic with strict grammatical accuracy, or possessing the command of an abundant stock of words and phrases, his power of expressing himself in that copious and

"That is, the people of Buntukkú, Ashantí, and Fantí. This is more distinctly expressed in another paper written by him."

"That is, pray five times a-day."

difficult tongue, and the clearness and facility with which he writes its characters, are truly surprising, when his peculiar circumstances are taken into account. His acquaintance with the Korán is remarkable. He must have known it almost by heart, as he declared that he had never seen a copy of it from the time he left Ghónah, till one was put into his hands by the writer of this paper. He was not old enough, he said, when captured, to enter on a course of logic and rhetoric, or to study the commentaries on the Korán; but he knew the names of the most celebrated commentators."

It has been already seen that Abú Bekr was desirous to return to his own country, and that he was recommended to Mr. Davidson, who was about to depart for the same mysterious place-the reasonable hope being that should that zealous traveller be so fortunate as to reach Tombuctoo in safety, he would find, independently of the rank, which, it seems, his companion and servant's relations hold there, that so faithful, affectionate, and intelligent an interpreter was a treasure, the value of which could not be too highly estimated. Indeed, Mr. Renouard's account informs us, that while Mr. Davidson was at Morocco along with his interesting friend, ere starting for Negroland, they met some persons who were acquainted with members of Abú Bekr's family, who informed them that one of his relations was at the time Governor of Tombuctoo. Months ago, alas! the British Vice-Consul at Mogadore has confirmed the tidings of the English traveller's death. It is said that he was robbed about a month after he left Wad Noon, and that eight or ten days later he was shot. But of Abú Bekr we have not learned what was his fate, farther than that it was supposed he had gone on with the caravan to which the unfortunate Davidson had been attached. How gratifying would it be to learn at any time that the quondam slave was high in authority in his native city-and still more, that the knowledge he had acquired in different countries, especially, of such men as Dr. Madden, has been turned to such good account, as to allay in any measure the jealousies and cruelties which, since ever the world was inhabited by the human race, have so wofully disfigured the history both of the white man and the black.

Having said so much of Mr. Davidson, our readers will feel a deep interest in one of his letters dated Wad Noon, and written on the 22nd of May, " the ground in an Arab tent swarming with vermin."

"The Sheik Khurfee, whose friendship I have purchased, takes charge of me by command of his superior, Sheik Beyrook. This man, now advanced in years, has made the journey twenty times, and four of these by a direct line from Wad Noon, having once performed the journey in twenty-five days. He tells me, if I can bear it, he will take me in thirtyfive, as he wishes to show me two places where we are to stop a day or two, or he will make it in forty days. He states there are but two wells on the whole route; these will very likely be dry. We carry water for forty days, but he tells me he shall not give me any water on the road only at

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