David Livingstone.

Livingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean online

. (page 36 of 36)
Online LibraryDavid LivingstoneLivingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean → online text (page 36 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

canoes, but never had seen au-srht like this. When we
reached the ship, — a fine, large brig of sixteen guns and a


crew of one hundred and thirty, — she was rolling so that
we could see a part of her bottom. It was quite impossi-
ble for landsmen to catch the ropes and climb uj); so a
chair was sent down, and we were hoisted in as ladies
usually are, and received so hearty an English welcome
from Captain Peyton and all on board that I felt myself at
once at home in every thing except my own mother-tongue.
I seemed to know the language perfectly, but the words I
wanted would not come at my call. When I left England
I had no intention of returning, and directed my attention
earnestly to the languages of Africa, paying none to
English composition. With the exception of a short in-
terval in Angola, I had been three and a half years without
speaking English, and this, with thirteen years of previous
partial disuse of my native tongue, made me feel sadly at
a loss on board the '^ Frolic."

We left Kilimane on the 12th of July, and reached the
Mauritius on the 12th of August, 1856. Sekwebu was
picking up English, and becoming a favorite with both men
and officers. He seemed a little bewildered, every thing on
board a man-of-war being so new and strange; but he re-
marked to me several times, ^' Your countrymen are very
agreeable,'^ and, "What a strange country this is !— all water
together I" He also said that he now understood why I
used the sextant. When we reached the Mauritius a
steamer came out to tow us into the harbor. The constant
strain on his untutored mind seemed now to reach a climjix,
for during the night he became insane. I thought at first
that he was intoxicated. He had descended into a boat,
and, when I attempted to go down and bring him into the
Bhip, he ran to the stern and said, '^l^o ! no ! it is enough
that I die alone. You must not perish ; if you come, I
shall throw myself into the water." Perceiving that his
mind was affected, I said, "Now, Sekwebu, we are going
to Ma Eobert." This struck a chord in his bosom, and he
8aid, "Oh, yes! where is she, and where is Eobert?" and
he seemed to recover The officers proposed to secure him


by putting him in irons; but, being a gentleman in his own
country, I objected, knowing that the insane often retain
an impression of ill-treatment, and I could not bear to have
it said in Sekeletu's country that I had chained one of his
principal men as they had seen slaves treated. I tried to get
him on shore by day, but he refused. In the evening a fresh
accession of insanity occurred : he tried to spear one of the
crew, then leaped overboard, and, though he could swim
well, pulled himself down hand under hand by the chain-
cable. We never found the body of poor Sekwebu.

At the Mauritius I was most hospitably received by
jvIajor-General C. M. Hay, and he generously constrained
me to remain with him till, by the influence of the good
.■•limate and quiet English comfort, I got rid of an enlarged
bpleen from African fever. In November I came up the Eed
Sea, escaped the danger of shipwreck through the admirable
management of Captain Powell, of the Peninsular and
Oriental Steam-Company's ship "Candia," and on the
12th of December was once more in dear old England.
The Company most liberally refunded my passage-money.
I have not mentioned half the favors bestowed ; but I may
just add that no one has cause for more abundant grati-
tude to his fellow-men and to his Maker than I have; and
may God grant that the effect on my mind be such that I
may be more humbly devoted to the service of the Author
of all our mercies I

3c sr


In the time of Herodotus, and bng afterward, the ge-
neral opinion was that Africa did not extend so far south
as the equatorial line. There existed, however, a tradition
that Africa had been circumnavigated by the Phoenicians
about six centuries before the Christian era; but, if the
southern promontory of Africa had really been reached,
it is diflScult to conceive how so erroneous an impression
could have prevailed as to the extent of th-e continent. It
is, therefore, most probable that such a voyage had never
succeeded; and, indeed, the circumstances under which it
was prosecuted, according to the accounts which have come
down to us, only add an additional feature of improbability
to the story. Turning to modern times, we find, at the
commencement of the fifteenth century, tbat Europeans
were only acquainted with that portion of the western
coast of Africa which extends from the Straits of Gibraltar
to Cape Nun, — a line of coast not exceeding six hundred
miles in length. The Portuguese had the honor of extend-
ing this limited acquaintance with the outline of the African
continent. Their zeal for discovery in this direction became
truly a national passion, and the sovereigns and princes of
Portugal prosecuted this object with singular enthusiasm.
By the year 1471 the Portuguese navigators had advanced
2r south of the Line In 1484, Diego Cam reached 22°
south latitude. The next navigator, Bartholomew Diaz,
was commanded to pursue his course southward until he
should reach the extremity of Africa; and to him belongs
the honor of discovering the Cape of Good Hope, the name
given to it at the time by the King of Portugal, though
Diaz had named it Cabo Tormcntoso, (the Cape of Tem-
pests.) The Cape of Good Hope was at first frequently
called the Lion of the Sea, and also the Head of Aft-ica
In 1497, Vasco de Gama set forth with the intention of
rojL'^hing India by sailing round the Cape of Good Hope


Afler doubling the Capo, he pursued his course along the
eastern coast of Africa, and then stretched across the ocean
to India. The Portuguese had now ascertained the general
outline of Africa and the position of many of the principal
rivers and headlands. With the exception of a portion of .
the coast from the Straits of Bab el Mandeb to Mukdeesha,
situated in 3"^ north latitude, the whole of the coast had
been traced by the Portuguese, and their zeal and enthu-
siasm, which had at one period been treated with ridicule,
were at length triumphantly rewarded, about fbur years
before Columbus had achieved his great discovery, which,
with that of Yasco de Gama, amply repaid a century of
speculative enterprise. This interesting combination of
events had a sensible effect upon the general mind of
Europe. The Portuguese soon formed settlements in
Africa, and began to acquire a knowledge of the interior
of the country. They were followed by the French, and /
afterward by the English and the Dutch.

It is chiefly within the last fifty years that discoveries •
in the interior of Africa have been perseveringly and sys-
tematically prosecuted. In 1788, a society was established
in London with the design of encouraging men of enter-
prise to explore the African continent. John Ledyard,
an American, was the first person selected by the African
^Association for this task; and he set out in 1788 with tho
intention of traversing the widest part of the continent
from east to west, in the supposed latitude of the river
Kiger. Unfortunately, he was seized at Cairo with a
fever, of which he died. He possessed few scientific ac-
quirements ; but his vigor and powers of endurance, mental
and bodily, his indifference to pain, hardship, and fatigue,
would have rendered him an admirable geographical pio-
neer. ^' I have known," he said, shortly before leaving
England for the last time, ^'hunger and nakedness to tho
utmost extremity of human suffering : I have known what
it is to have food given as charity to a madman, and have
ftt times been obliged to shelter myself under the miseriea


of that character to avoid a heavier calamity. My dis
tresses have been greater than I have ever owned, or evei
will own, to any man. Such evils are terrible to bear ; but
they never yet had the power to turn me from my purpose/'
Such was the indomitable energy of this man, the first of
a long list of victims in the cause of African discovery.
Mr. Lucas, who was despatched by the Association to sup-
ply the place of Ledyard, was compelled to return home
in consequence of several of the countries through which
he would have to pass being engaged in hostilities. In
1790, Major Houghton, an officer who was acquainted with
the customs of the Moors and Negroes, proceeded to Africa
under the auspices of the Association, and had made con-
siderable progress in the interior, when, after having been
treacherously plundered and left in the Desert, where he
endured severe privations, he reached Jarra, and died there
in September, 1791, it being strongly suspected that he was
murdered. The next individual on whom the Association
fi.^ed was Mungo Park, who proceeded to the river Gambia
ii) 1795 and thence set out into the interior. The great
object accomplished during his journey was that of suc-
cessfully exploring the banks of the Niger, which had pre-
viously been considered identical with the river Senegal
In 1804, Park set out upon his second journey, which was
undertaken at the expense of the Government. The plan
of former travellers had been to accompany the caravans
from one part of the country to another; but in this ex-
pedition Park required a party of thirty-six Europeans,
six of whom were to be seamen and the remainder soldiers,
it being his intention, on reaching the Niger, to build two
vessels, and to follow with his party the course of the river,
if the Congo and the Niger were the same stream, as was
then supposed, he anticipated little difficulty in his enter-
prise ; but if, as was also maintained, the Niger terminated
m swamps and morasses, many hardships and dangers were
expected in their subsequent progress. Park at length
reached the Niger, accompanied only by seven of his party


all of whom were in a state of great weakness frooi the
effects of the climate. They built one vessel, and, on the
17th of November, 1805, were ready to embark on the
river, previous to which Park sent despatches to England.
His party was now reduced to five, his brother-in-law having
died a few days before. Parkas spirit, however, remained
undaunted. ^^ Though all the Europeans who are with mo
should die," said he, in his last letters to England, ^'and
though I myself were half dead, I would still persevere;
and, if I could not succeed in the object of my journey, I
would at least die in the Niger." He embarked, therefore,
with the intention of sailing down the river to its mouth,
wherever that might be ; but, after passing Timbuctoo and
several other cities, he was killed in the Niger, at a place
called Boussa, a short distance below Yaouri. No part of
his journal after he left Sansanding has ever been recovered.
In 1797, the African Association had engaged Mr. Horne-
mann, a German, who left Cairo in September, 1798, with
the intention of carrying into effect the objects of the As-
sociation by proceeding as far southward and westward as
he could get. In his last despatches he expressed himself
confident in being able to succeed in reaching a greater
distance into the interior than any other European traveller;
but, after reaching Bornou, no certain intelligence was ever
afterward heard concerning him. Mr. Hornemann learned
many particulars which had not before been known in
Europe respecting the countries to the east of Timbuctoo.
]\Ir. Nicholls, who was next engaged, arrived in the Gulf
of Benin in November, 1804, and died soon afterward of
the fever of the country. Another German, Boentzen, was
next sent to Africa. He had bestowed extraordinary pains
in making himself acquainted with the prevailing language,
and, throwing off his costume, proceeded in the character
of a Mussulman, but unhappily was murdered by his guides
on his way to Soudan. The next traveller sent out by the
Association was Burckhardt, a Swiss. He spent several

years in acquiring a knowledge of the language and customs



of the people he inteLded to visit, and, like Mr. Boeiitzen;
assumed the characteristics of a Mussulman. He died at
Cairo in 1817, his travels having been chiefly confined to
the Abyssinian countries.

In 1816, an expedition was sent out by the Government,
under the command of Captain Tuckey, to the river Congo,
under the idea, in which Park coincided, that it and the
JSTiger were the same river. Captain Tuckey ascended the
Congo for about two hundred and eighty miles. At the
same time. Major Peddie, and, after his death, Captain
Campbell, proceeded from the mouth of the river Senegal
as far as Kakundy. In 1817, Mr. Bowdich explored the
countries adjoining Cape Coast Castle. In 1820, Mr. Jack-
son communicated an interesting account of the territories
of Timbuctoo and Houssa, from details which he had col-
lected from a Mussulman merchant. In 1819 and in 1821,
the expeditions of Messrs. Eitchie and Lyon, and of Major
Laing, showed the strong and general interest on the sub-
ject of African geography. In 1822, the important expedi-
tion under Major Denham and Lieut. Clapperton set forth.
After crossing the Desert, the travellers reached the great
inland sea or lake called the Tchad, the coasts of which to
the west and south were examined by Major Denham.
This lake, from four hundred to six hundred feet above the
level of the sea, is one of the most remarkable features in
the physical geography of Africa. Lieut. Clapperton, in
the mean time, proceeded through the kingdom of Bornou
and the country of the Fellatahs to Sockatoo, situated on a
stream supposed to run into the Niger. A great mass of
information respecting the countries eastward of Timbuctoo
was the result of his expedition. As to the course of the
Niger, very little intelligence was obtained which could be
depended upon : the natives stated that it flowed into the
sea at Funda, though what place on the coast was meant
still remained a conjecture. Soon after his return to Eng-
land, Clapperton was sent out by the Government to con-
duct a new expedition, and was directed to proceed to the


Bcene of hi» former adventures. Having reached the Niger
at Boussa, where Park was killed, he passed through various
countries, and reached Sockatoo, where he died ; and Lan-
der, his friend and servant, commenced his return to Eng-
land with Clapperton's journals and papers. Major l^aing,
meanwhile, had visited Timbuctoo, and transmitted home
accounts of this famous city, where he spent some weeks ;
but on his return he was murdered, and his papers have
never been recovered. AYe have not space to allude to tho
many well-executed expeditions which have proceeded
from Cape Town for the purpose of exploring South
Africa, but have confined ourselves to those exertions which
had for their object the elucidation of the question concern
ing the course and termination of the JS^iger^ and were con-
Bequently directed to Central Africa.

The termination of the Niger had long been one of the
most interesting problems in African geography, and we
have now reached the period when, on this j^oint, facts
were substituted for conjecture and hypothesis. The river
had first been seen by Park, near Sego, the capital of Bam-
barra. It was called by the natives the Joliba, or ^' Great
Water ;" and Park described it as " flowing slowly to the
eastward." He followed the course of the river for about
three hundred miles, and was told that a journey of ten
days would bring him to its source. At Sockatoo, Lieut.
Clapperton found that it was called the Quorra, by which
name it is known in the most recent maps, it having re-
ceived the name of the l!^iger, in the first instance, from its
supposed identity with the Nigir of the ancients. The
want of information concerning the course and termination
of this mysterious river, until determined by actually i)ro-
'ieeding down its channel to the sea, was, as may be sup-
posed, a fruitful source of speculation among geographers.
By some it was supposed to flow into the Kile; others
imagined that a great central lake received its wateris.
Major Eennel, an authority of great weight, came to the
conclusion that, after passing Timbuctoo, the Niger flowed


a thousand miles in an easterly direction, and terminated
in a lake or swamp; others supported the opinion that ita
waters were lost in the arid sands of the Desert; while the
Congo was said by many to be its outlet. Major Laing, by
ascertaining the source of the Niger to be not more than
sixteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, proved that
\t could not flow into the Nile; and Denham and Clapper -
ton demonstrated that it did not, as had been supposed,
discharge itself into the Lake of Bornou.

Eichard and John Lander, in 1830, under the auspices
of the British Government, solved the long-disputed problem
of the course of the Niger by sailing down on its waters
from Boussa to the ocean, where it was found to terminate
in what was called the Nun, or First Brass Eiver, from the
negro town of Brass situated on its banks.

An expedition under the auspices of the British Govern-
ment, and headed by Dr. Henry Barth, attended by Dr,
Overberg and Mr. James Eichardson, was sent out in 1849
to prosecute discoveries in Northern Central Africa. Theii
travels and researches into the history and present state of
the interior tribes were continued till 1855, and their results
have recently been published by Dr. Barth. Dr. Overberg
died in 1854, and was buried on the shores of Lake Tchad
or Tsad. Mr. Eichardson also fell a victim to the climate
before the close of the expedition.

Dr. Barth visited the countries of Bornou, Kanem, Man-
dara, Bagirmi, and others previously explored by Denham
and Clapperton, and carried his researches much farther,
reaching the eighth degree of north latitude. His volumes
contain much curious and minute information.

As Dr. Livingstone's researches reach only the eighth
degree of north latitude, there still remains an immense
region of Interior Africa, sixteen degrees broad, open to
future crpiorers.


Since the preceding pages were written, the last two of the
five octavo volumes of Dr. Barth's Journal have been published
in London, and received in this country, and we have con-
densed it into one large 12mo., uniform with our edition of
Livingstone, and illustrated, &c., with a map giving the routes
of Livingstone and Barth ; they should be read together. We
are thus placed in possession of the whole result of Dr. Barth's
explorations, and truly they are of unparalleled extent and
importance. The following extract from the preface gives a
summary of his travels :

*' Extending over a tract of country of twenty-four degrees
from north to south, and twenty degrees from east to west, in
the broadest part of the continent of Africa, my travels neces-
sarily comprise subjects of great interest and diversity.

" After having traversed vast deserts of the most barren soil,
and scenes of the most frightful desolation, I met with fertile
lands irrigated by large navigable rivers and extensive central
lakes, ornamented with the finest timber, and producing vari-
ons species of grain, rice, sesamum, ground-nuts, in unlimited
abundance, the sugar-cane, &c., together with cotton and
indigo, the most valuable commodities of trade. The whole
of Central Africa, from Bagirmi to the east as far as Timbuctu
to the west (as will be seen in my narrative), abounds in these
products. The natives of these regions not only weave their
own cotton, but dye their home-made shirts with their own
indigo. The river, the far-famed Niger, which gives access to
these regions by means of its eastern branch, the Benuwe,
which T discovered, affords an uninterrupted navigable sheet
of water for more than six hundred miles into the very heart
of the country. Its western branch is obstructed by rapids
at the distance of about three hundred and fifty miles from the
coast ; but even at that point it is probably not impassable in
the present state of navigation, while, higher up, the river
opens an immense high-road for nearly one thousand miles into
the very heart of Western Africa, so rich in every kind of

" The same diversity of soil and produce which the regions


traversed by me exhibit, is also observed with respect to man.
Starting from Tripoli in the north, we proceed from the settle-
ments of the Arab and the Berber, the poor remnants of the
vast empires of the middle ages, into a country dotted with
splendid ruins from the period of the Roman dominion, through
the wild roving hordes of the Tawarek, to the Negro and half-
Negro tribes, and to the very border of the South African
nations. In the regions of Central Africa there exists not one
and the same stock, as in South Africa, but the greatest diver-
sity of tribes, or rather nations, prevails, with idioms entirely

*' The great and momentous struggle between Islamism and
Paganism is here continually going on, causing every day the
most painful and affecting results, while the miseries arising
from slavery and the slave trade are here revealed in their most
repulsive features. We find Mohammedan learning ingrafted
on the ignorance and simplicity of the black races, and the
gaudy magnificence and strict ceremonial of large empires side
by side with the barbarous simplicity of naked and half-naked
tribes. We here trace a historical thread which guides us
through this labyrinth of tribes and overthrown kingdoms ;
and a lively interest is awakened by reflecting on their possible
progress and restoration, through the intercourse with more
civilized parts of the world. Finally, we find here commerce
in every direction radiating from Kano, the great emporium of
Central Africa, and spreading the manufactures of that indus-
trious region over the whole of Western Africa."

IT, ^

4 I 'I




719 02362 5405






Not to be taken from this room






Online LibraryDavid LivingstoneLivingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean → online text (page 36 of 36)