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The storm is o'er; the tempest past;
Go, White Man, go;-but with thee bear
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 observed 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 Bambarra. 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 advantage 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 to be merciless fanatics: he might gain no new information; 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 vicinity. The information which he received will be found in pp. 213-217. 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 best-informants 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 á superstitious confidence... :
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 pur 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. Influ 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 interval, 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 is agitated by violent gusts of wind, (called tornadoes,) accom panied with thunder and rain. These usher in what is denominated the rainy season; which continues until the month of November. During this time, the diurnal rains are very heavy; and the prevail. ing winds are from the south-west. The termination of the rainy season is likewise attended with violent tornadoes; after which the wind shifts to the north-east, and continues to blow from that quarter, during the rest of the year.
When the wind sets in from the north-east, it produces a wonderful change in the face of the country. The grass soon becomes dry and withered; the rivers subside very rapidly, and many of the trees shed their leaves. About this period is commonly felt the harmattan, a dry and parching wind, blowing from the north-east, and accompanied by a thick smoaky haze; through which the sun appears of a dull red colour. This wind, in passing over the great desert of Sahara, acquires a very strong attraction for humidity, and parches up every thing exposed to its current. It is, however, reckoned very salutary, particularly to Europeans, who generally recover their health during its continuance. I experienced immediate relief from sickness, both at Dr. Laidley's, and at Kamalia, during the harmattan. Indeed, the air during the rainy season is so loaded with moisture, that cloths, shoes, trunks, and every thing that is not close to the fire, become damp and mouldy; and the inhabitants may be said to live in a sort of vapour bath: but this dry wind braces up the solids, which were before relaxed, gives a cheerful flow of spirits, and is even pleasant to respiration. Its ill effects are, that it produces chaps in the lips, and afflicts many of the natives with sore eyes.
Whenever the grass is sufficiently dry, the Negroes set it on fire; but in Ludamar, and other Moorish countries, this practice is not allowed; for it is upon the withered stubble that the Moors feed their cattle, until the return of the rains. The burning the grass in Manding exhibits a scene of terrific grandeur. In the middle of the night, I could see the plains and mountains, as far as my eye could reach, variegated with lines of fire; and the light reflected on the sky, made the heavens appear in a blaze. In the day time, pillars of smoke were seen in every direction; while the birds of prey were observed hovering round the conflagration, and pouncing down upon the snakes, lizards, and other reptiles, which attempted to escape from the flames. This annual burning is soon followed by a fresh and sweet verdure, and the country is thereby rendered more healthful and pleasant.
Of the most remarkable and important of the vegetable productions, mention has already been made; and they are nearly the same in all the districts through which I passed. It is observable, however, that although many species of the edible roots, which grow in the West-India Islands, are found in Africa, yet I never saw, in any part of my journey, either the sugar cane, the coffee, or the cacao tree; nor could I learn, on inquiry, that they were known to the natives. The pine-apple, and the thousand other delicious fruits, which the industry of civilized man (improving the
bounties of nature), has brought to so great perfection in the tropical climates of America, are here equally unknown. I observed, indeed, a few orange and banana trees, near the mouth of the Gambia; but whether they were indigenous, or were formerly planted there by some of the white traders, I could not positively learn. I suspect, that they were originally introduced by the Portuguese.
Concerning property in the soil; it appeared to me that the lands in native woods, were considered as belonging to the king, or (where the government was not monarchical) to the state. When any individual of free condition, had the means of cultivating more land than he actually possessed, he applied to the chief man of the district, who allowed him an extension of territory, on condition of forfeiture if the lands were not brought into cultivation by a given period. The condition being fulfilled, the soil became vested in the possessor; and, for aught that appeared to me, descended to his heirs.
The population, however, considering the extent and fertility of the soil, and the ease with which lands are obtained, is not very great, in the countries which I visited. I found many extensive and beautiful districts, entirely destitute of inhabitants; and in general, the borders of the different kingdoms, were either very thinly peopled, or entirely deserted. Many places are likewise unfavourable to population, from being unhealthful. The swampy banks of the Gambia, the Senegal, and other rivers towards the Coast, are of this description. Perhaps, it is on this account chiefly, that the interior countries abound more with inhabitants, than the maritime districts; for all the Negro nations that fell under my observation, though divided into a number of petty independent states, subsist chiefly by the same means, live nearly in the same temperature, and possess a wonderful similarity of disposition. The Mandingoes, in particular, are a very gentle race; cheerful in their dispositions, inquisitive, credulous, simple, and fond of flattery. Perhaps, the most prominent defect in their character, is that insurmountable propensity, which the reader must have observed to prevail in all classes of them, to steal from me the few effects I was possessed of.'
Concerning the disposition of the women, Mr. Park's testimony agrees with that of Mr. Ledyard. They are uniformly' benevolent.
Among the Negroes, plurality of wives is allowed. Although the African husbands possess unlimited authority, they are not cruel, and rarely jealous: instances of conjugal infidelity are not common.
The Africans have no astronomical knowlege; and the little which they pretend to know of geography is false: they imagine that the earth is an extended plain, beyond which is the sea; or river of salt water; and on the farther shores of which are situated two countries called Tobaudo doo and Jong sang doo, the land of the white people,' and the land where slaves are sold.'
REV. JULY, 1799.
In a chapter on the state and sources of slavery in Africa, Mr. P. declines the discussion of the question how far the system of slavery is promoted by the slave traffic carried on by the nations of Europe, and merely expresses his belief that, in the present unenlightened state of the minds of the Africans, a discontinuance of the slave trade would not be attended with so [such] beneficial effects as many wise and worthy persons expect.'
The length of our extracts and observations prevents us from noticing the manner of collecting gold dust, and the process observed in washing it. We must go back to Kamalia, and hasten Mr. Park's return to England.
On the 19th of April, Mr. P. with Karfa, four slatees, and the caravan of 27 slaves, left Kamalia, and on the 23d they entered the Jallonka Wilderness; which was traversed on foot, and with great expedition, in five days: the distance across the Wilderness is an hundred miles. After having crossed the black river, a principal branch of the Senegal, the caravan arrived on May 3d at Malacotta; where Mr. P. obtained information of a war which had happened between the Kings of Foota Torra and of Jalbff. The account of this war is singular and curious; it reminds us of the story of Tamerlane and Bajazet *.
The King of Foota Torra, inflamed with a zeal for propagating his religion, had sent an embassy to Damel, similar to that which he had sent to Kasson, as related in page 79. The ambassador, on the present occasion, was accompanied by two of the principal Bushreens, who carried each a large knife, fixed on the top of a long pole. As soon as he had procured admission into the presence of Damel, and announced the pleasure of his sovereign, he ordered the Bushreens to present the emblems of his mission. The two knives were accordingly laid before Damel, and the ambassador explained himself as follows: "With this knife, (said he,) Abdulkader will condescend to shave the head of Damel, if Damel will embrace the Mahomedan faith; and with this other knife, Abdulkader will cut the throat of Damel, if Damel refuses to embrace it :-take your choice." Damel coolly told the ambassador that he had no choice to make: he neither chose to have his head shaved, nor his throat cut; and with this answer the ambassador was civilly dismissed. Abdulkader took his measures accordingly, and with a powerful army invaded Damel's country. The inhabitants of the towns and villages filled up their wells, destroyed their provisions, carried off their effects, and abandoned their dwellings, as he approached. By this means he was led on from place to place, until he had advanced three day's journey into the country of the Jaloffs. He had, indeed, met with no opposition; but his army had suffered so much from the
Gibbon, vol. vi. 4to.