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The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 online

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Latitude 14 0 0
- - - - - -

July 27th. - The morning being rainy, we did not depart from Bangassi
till about nine o'clock. Left here M'Inelli. Paid the Dooty ten bars of
amber to purchase provision for him and give him lodging. Shortly after
leaving the town, three of the soldiers laid down under a tree, and
refused to proceed; their names _Frair, Thomson_, and _Hercules_. About
a quarter of a mile farther, James Trott, one of the carpenters brought
from Portsmouth, refused to go on, being sick of the fever. I drove on
his ass, and desired him to return to Bangassi. Found myself very sick
and faint, having to drive my horse loaded with rice, and an ass with
the pit saws. Came to an eminence, from which I had a view of some very
distant mountains to the East half South. The certainty that the Niger
washes the Southern base of these mountains made me forget my fever; and
I thought of nothing all the way but how to climb over their blue

Reached Nummasoolo at two o'clock. This has formerly been a large town;
but being destroyed by war some years ago, nearly three-fourths of the
town are in ruins. Before we had time to pitch the tent properly, the
rain came down on us, and wetted us all completely, both men and
bundles. This was a very serious affair to us, many of our articles of
merchandize being perishable. Slept very uncomfortably in wet clothes on
the wet ground. Troubled in the night with a lion; he came so near that
the sentry fired at him, but it was so dark that it was impossible to
take a good aim. All the asses pulled up the pins to which they were
fastened, and run together as near the men as they could. As the sick
soldiers before mentioned did not come up before sun-set, I concluded
they had all returned to Bangassi; and the Dooty's son coming up on
horseback, informed me that they had really returned to his father's
house, and wished to know what I meant to do respecting them. I told him
that I wished my people to be taken proper care of, and gave him ten
bars of amber for his care in coming to inform me of them. I likewise
put into his possession three strings of amber of forty bars each, and
told him how to dispose of them for the use of the sick. I likewise told
him that, if any of them should recover, if he would send a proper
person forward with them to Bambakoo, I would give him an Indian baft,
or ten bars of scarlet, which he preferred. At the same time I wrote the
following note to the men.


"I am sorry to learn that you have returned to Bangassi. I have sent in
charge of the bearer of this three complete strings of amber; one of
which will procure rice for forty days; the second will purchase milk or
fowls for the same time; and the third will buy provisions for you on
the road till you arrive at the Niger.


"M. PARK."

July 28th. - Rained all day. Remained in the tent at Nummasoolo.

July 29. - Divided the men's clothes who were left behind amongst the
other men; many of them being in great want of clothes, and the nights
being now cold and damp. Found five dollars in J. Trott's knapsack, for
which I am accountable. Spread out the rice to dry; found it hot and
much damaged. Some people arrived from the East, who informed us that a
stream on the road, which is usually dry, was so much swelled by the
rain that no ass could cross it. Halted here during the day to dry the
different articles.

July 30th. - Departed from Nummasoolo. Was under the necessity of leaving
here William Allen sick. Paid the Dooty for him as usual. I regretted
much leaving this man; he had naturally a cheerful disposition; and he
used often to beguile the watches of the night with the songs of our
dear native land.

About five miles East of Nummasoolo passed the stream before mentioned,
flowing to the S.E. The water had subsided, and was only about eighteen
inches deep, but flowed very rapidly. Many asses fell, and had their
loads wetted. It likewise rained two hours on the march. Crossed a ridge
of hills through an opening. Road tolerably good except in two places.
We descended on the East side, and reached Surtaboo, a small ruined
village, about two o'clock. Here I learnt that the front of the coffle
had gone on to a village about four miles further; but the asses in the
rear being all very much fatigued, and lying down with their loads
frequently, I judged it prudent to halt till some fresh asses should be
sent to my assistance.

We had not halted here above an hour, when three of Isaaco's people and
two asses came back; and with their help we arrived at _Sobee_ at seven
o'clock. On the road we passed the _last_ of the St. Jago asses, the
whole forty having either died or been abandoned on the road at
different places. We were all very wet, for it rained almost the whole
way; and all very hungry, having tasted nothing since the preceding
evening. The town of _Sobee_ has changed its situation _three_ times. It
was taken about ten years ago by Daisy, King of Kaarta, with thirteen
horsemen and some of his slaves on foot. They carried off five hundred
slaves, two hundred of which were women. Such as escaped rebuilt the
town about a mile to the East of its former situation; but when it had
acquired some degree of prosperity, it was destroyed by Mansong, King of
Bambarra. The present town is built nearer the foot of the hills; part
of it is walled, which serves as a sort of citadel. There is plenty of
corn and rice here on moderate terms; but they have not yet had time to
recruit their herds of cattle.

July 31st. - Rained hard all the morning, and flying showers all day.
Halted at _Sobee_. During the night one of the town's-people attempted
to steal one of the soldier's pieces, some of which were standing
against a tree close to the tent. Lieutenant Martyn was sleeping under
the tree; and hearing somebody moving the muskets, he no sooner observed
that it was a Negro, than he snatched one of the muskets and fired at
the thief as he was running off with one of the muskets. Whether the
ball touched him or not we could not learn; but the thief dropped the
musket, and we found it with the pouch and bayonet in the morning.

August 1st. - Early this morning purchased an ass for a pistol, a baft,
and a Mandingo cloth. We set out at seven o'clock. Immediately on the
East of the town came to another stream flowing towards the S.S.W. It
was so deep, that the whole of the bundles had to be carried over on
men's heads. During this, being surrounded by thieves on all sides,
Isaaco unfortunately struck two of the soldiers; which action had nearly
cost him his life, one of the soldiers attempting to stab him with his
bayonet, when Mr. Anderson prevented him; and as I reproved Isaaco for
his conduct in the sharpest manner, he went off in a _pet_ with his
people, leaving us to find our way across the river in the best manner
we could. I hired four people to carry over the loads; and stood myself
as sentry over the thieves. In this manner the whole of the baggage was
carried over with much less loss than we had sustained at any other
river. The asses were swam over, and the whole only cost one string of
No. 5; but I had to pay fifty stones to the Dooty's son for asses going
on the corn. As soon as all was over we loaded the asses and set
forwards. At sunset we reached _Balanding_. We had only time to pitch
our tent, when the rain came on; indeed we had no time for cooking our
victuals, for though all the soldiers cooked, yet the rain came on
before our kettle was ready; and Messrs. Anderson, Scott, Martyn, and
myself, all slept without having tasted any thing during the day.

August 2d. - Rainy. Halted at Balanding.

August 3d. - Sun rose E. 3°S. Departed from Balanding, and halted at
Balandoo, a walled village about four miles to the East by South. Bought
two sheep for one barraloolo.

August 4th. - Departed from Balandoo. About a mile to the East saw the
hill of Sobee bearing N.W. by compass. About this place Lawrence Cahill,
one of the soldiers, who had complained of sickness for some days, fell
behind; and I hired a person to drive his ass, telling him to come on at
his leisure. At eleven o'clock crossed a stream running S.E. which gave
us great trouble, the banks being very steep and slippery. Crossed the
same stream again at half past twelve, running E. by N. In the course of
this day's march four of the soldiers were unable to attend to their
asses. Mr. Scott, being very sick, rode my horse; and I drove one of the
asses. So very much weakened were the men, that when their loads fell
off, they could not lift them on again. I assisted in loading thirteen
asses in the course of the march. We reached Koolihori at three o'clock.
This town is partly walled; but the greater part of the huts are without
the walls. As soon as the tents were pitched, the rain commenced, and
continued all night. We had not time to cook, and the rain prevented the
watch fire from burning; owing to which one of our asses was killed by
the wolves. It was only sixteen feet distant from a bush under which one
of the men was sleeping.

August 5th. - Morning hazy. Halted, resolving to travel at two o'clock,
and sleep in the woods, the Ba Woolli being too far to reach in one
march. Bought some ripe maize of this year's growth.

° ' "
Obser. mer. alt. Sun - 172 45 0
- - - - -
86 22 0-1/2
0 16 0
- - - - -
86 38 0-1/2
- - - - -
3 22 0
17 3 0
- - - - -
Latitude - 13 41 0

The whole route from Bangassi is marked with ruined towns and villages;
some of them are rebuilt, but by far the greater number are still in
ruins. We saw scarcely any cattle on the route, and the avidity of the
people of Koolihori for animal food, or perhaps their own peculiar
taste, made them eat what the wolves had left of our ass. The wolves had
eat only the bowels and heart, &c. so that the people had the four
quarters and head. The day having clouded up for rain, resolved to halt
here for the night. In the course of the afternoon Lawrence Cahill came
up; but William Hall, who had gone into a ruined hut near the road, and
who did not appear to be very sick, did not arrive. Suspected that he
might be killed by the wolves in the hut during the night. At sun-set
had all the asses properly tied near the tents; and watched myself with
the sentries all night, as the wolves kept constantly howling round us.


Departure from Koolihori - Ganifarra - Scarcity of provisions - Distressing
situation of the Author from deaths and sickness of the party - Escapes
from three lions - Intricate route to Koomikoomi - Dombila - Visit from
Karfa Taura - View of the Niger - Reduced state of the party - Bambakoo -
Losses from wolves - Bosradoo; embark on the Niger; incidents in the
voyage to Marraboo - Isaaco sent to Sego with presents for Mansong -
Message from Mansong - Course to Koolikorro - Deena - Yamina - Samee -
Return of Isaaco; account of his interview with Mansong - Messengers
sent by Mansong, and enquiries respecting the Author's journey - Quit
Samee - Excessive heat - Reach Sansanding - Account of that city and its
trade - Death of Mr. Anderson - Preparations for continuing the voyage
eastward - Information collected respecting various districts.


August 6th. - Having hired two more ass drivers at one bar and their
victuals per day, we left Koolihori early in the morning, and travelled
with considerable dispatch till three o'clock; at which time we reached
Ganifarra, a small beggarly village. In the course of this march _L.
Cakill_ and _J. Bird_, two of the soldiers, and _William Cox_, one of
the seamen, fell behind, and laid down. As soon as the front of the
coffle had reached Ganifarra, it came on a very heavy rain. Being in the
rear I was completely drenched; and two of the asses carrying four
trunks, in which were the gun stocks, pistols, looking glasses, &c. fell
down in a stream of water near the town, and all the contents were
completely wet. I could purchase nothing here, not so much as a fowl.
Served out a short allowance of rice, being very short of that article.

August 7th. - During the night, some person had stolen one of our best
asses; and as the load must be left if we could not recover it, Isaaco's
people having traced the foot marks to a considerable distance, agreed
to go in search of it. Isaaco gave them the strictest orders, if they
came up to the thief in the woods to shoot him; and, if not, to follow
him to a town and demand the ass from the Dooty; if he refused to give
it up, to return as soon as possible.

Spent the day in drying such things as were wet; cleaned and greased
with Shea butter all the ornamented pistols, _ten pair_. Dried the
looking glasses, which were quite spoiled. In the afternoon sent two of
the natives away with goods to a neighbouring town to purchase rice and
corn. At sun-set _Bird_ came up, but had seen nothing of _Cox_ nor

August 8th. - People not yet returned. Opened the trunk which contained
the double barrelled gun stocks; cleaned and greased them. About noon
people returned with the rice and corn, but not quite sufficient for one
day. Nearly at the same time Isaaco's people came up with the ass; they
had traced his foot-marks past Koolihori, and found him at Balandoo. Did
not see the thief, but learned his name; which Isaaco promised to write
to his friend at Bangassi, to inform Serinummo of him. In the afternoon
agreed with the Dooty for thirty five bars to carry every thing over.
Rained heavily all the evening.

August 9th. - Michael May, a soldier, having died during the night,
buried him at day break. Had all the loads taken to the crossing place
by eight o'clock. The Ba Woolli is nearly of the same size as the one we
formerly crossed of that name; it appeared to be exceedingly deep, and
flowed at the rate of four or five miles per hour. There is a very good
canoe here, which can carry over four ass loads at once. As it
threatened rain, sent over three men with one of the tents, and pitched
it on the East side about half a mile from the river; the ground near
the bank being marshy. Hired people to carry down the bundles, and put
them into the canoe; and others to receive them on the other side, and
carry them up the bank; so that the soldiers had nothing to move, being
all weak and sickly.

By one o'clock all the baggage was over; but we found some difficulty in
transporting the asses; the rapidity of the stream swept the canoe and
the first six past the landing place; and they went so far down the
river, that I really thought the asses must be drowned; which would have
been an irreparable loss in our situation. However, by the exertions of
the Negroes, who swam in with ropes to the canoe, the asses were landed
on the other side; where they stood by the water's edge until the
Negroes with their corn hoes made a path for them up the steep bank. To
prevent such an accident, we took the ropes from several of our loads,
and fastened them together, so as to reach across the river; with this
we hauled over the loaded canoe, and the Negroes paddled it back when
empty. In this manner all the asses and horses were swam over without
any loss.

When the bundles were all carried up to the tent, we found that we had
not more rice than was barely sufficient for the present day; and as no
more could be purchased, we had no alternative, but to march early in
the morning for Bambarra; the distance by all accounts would not exceed
fourteen or fifteen miles.

August 10th. - William Ashton declared that he was unable to travel; but
as there was no place to leave him at, I advised him to make an exertion
and come on, though slowly, till he should reach a place where he could
have food. At eight o'clock set forwards; and travelled very
expeditiously without halting till four in the afternoon, at which time
the front of the coffle reached _Dababoo_, a village of Bambarra. Being
in the rear, I found many of the men very much fatigued with the length
of the journey and the heat of the day. At half past four I arrived with
the ass I drove at a stream flowing to the Westwards.

Here I found many of the soldiers sitting, and Mr. Anderson lying under
a bush, apparently dying. Took him on my back, and carried him across
the stream, which came up to my middle. Carried over the load of the ass
which I drove, got over the ass, Mr. Anderson's horse, &c. Found myself
much fatigued, having crossed the stream sixteen times. Left here four
soldiers with their asses, being unable to carry over their loads.
Having loaded my ass and put Mr. Anderson on his horse, we went on to
the village; but was sorry to find that no rice could be had, and I was
only able to buy one solitary fowl.

August 11th. - Bought a small bullock of the Moorish breed for one
barraloolo; and having purchased some corn, had it cleaned and dressed
for the people instead of rice. This morning hired Isaaco's people to go
back, and bring up the loads of the soldiers who had halted by the side
of the stream. In the course of the day all the loads arrived; but was
sorry to find that in the course of the last two marches we had lost
_four men_, viz. _Cox_, _Cahill_, _Bird_, and _Ashton_. Mr. Anderson
still in a very dangerous way, being unable to walk or sit upright. Mr.
Scott much recovered. I found that I must here leave one load, one of
the horses being quite finished. Left the _seine nets_ in charge of the
Dooty, till I should send for them.

August 12th. - Rained all the morning. About eleven o'clock, the sky
being clear, loaded the asses. None of the Europeans being able to lift
a load, Isaaco made the Negroes load the whole. Saddled Mr. Anderson's
horse; and having put a sick soldier on mine, took Mr. Anderson's horse
by the bridle, that he might have no trouble but sitting upright on the
saddle. We had not gone far before I found one of the asses with a load
of gunpowder, the driver (Dickinson) being unable to proceed (I never
heard of him afterwards); and shortly after the sick man dismounted from
my horse, and laid down by a small pool of water, refusing to rise.
Drove the ass and horse on before me. Passed a number of sick. At half
past twelve o'clock Mr. Anderson declared he could ride no farther. Took
him down and laid him in the shade of a bush, and sat down beside him.
At half past two o'clock he made another attempt to proceed; but had not
rode above an hundred yards before I had to take him down from the
saddle, and lay him again in the shade. I now gave up all thoughts of
being able to carry him forwards till the cool of the evening; and
having turned the horses and ass to feed, I sat down to watch the
pulsations of my dying friend. At four o'clock four of the sick came up;
three of them agreed to take charge of the ass with the gunpowder; and I
put a fourth, who had a sore leg, on my horse, telling him if he saw Mr.
Scott on the road to give him the horse.

At half past five o'clock, there being a fine breeze from the South
West; Mr. Anderson agreed to make another attempt, and having again
placed him on the saddle, I led the horse on pretty smartly in hopes of
reaching Koomikoomi before dark. We had not proceeded above a mile,
before we heard on our left a noise very much like the barking of a
large mastiff, but ending in a hiss like the fuf [Footnote: Thus is Mr.
Park's MS] of a cat. I thought it must be some large monkey; and was
observing to Mr. Anderson "what a bouncing fellow that must be," when we
heard another bark nearer to us, and presently a third still nearer,
accompanied with a growl. I now suspected that some wild animal meant to
attack us, but could not conjecture of what species it was likely to be.
We had not proceeded an hundred yards farther, when coming to an opening
in the bushes, I was not a little surprised to see three lions coming
towards us. They were not so red as the lion I formerly saw in
Barnbarra, [Footnote: Park's Travels, p. 208] but of a dusky colour,
like the colour of an ass. They were very large, and came bounding over
the long grass, not one after another, but all abreast of each other. I
was afraid, if I allowed them to come too near us, and my piece should
miss fire, that we should be all devoured by them. I therefore let go
the bridle, and walked forwards to meet them. As soon as they were
within a long shot of me, I fired at the centre one. I do not think I
hit him; but they all stopt, looked at each other, and then bounded away
a few paces, when one of them stopt, and looked back at me. I was too
busy in loading my piece to observe their motions as they went away, and
was very happy to see the last of them march slowly off amongst the
bushes. We had not proceeded above half a mile farther, when we heard
another bark and growl close to us amongst the bushes. This was
doubtless one of the lions before seen, and I was afraid they would
follow us till dark, when they would have too many opportunities of
springing on us unawares. I therefore got Mr. Anderson's call, and made
as loud a whistling and noise as possible. We heard no more of them.

Just at dark we descended into a valley where was a small stream of
water; but the ascent on the opposite side was through a species of
broken ground, which I have never seen any where but in Africa. It is of
the following nature. A stratum of stiff yellow clay fourteen or twenty
feet thick, (which, unless when it rains, is as hard as rock) is washed
by the annual rains into fissures of a depth equal to the thickness of
the stratum. There is no vegetation on these places, except on the
summit or original level. Amongst these horrid gullies I unfortunately
lost sight of the footmarks of the asses which had gone before; and
finding no way to get out, led the horse up a very steep place in order
to gain the original level, hoping there to find the foot path. But
unluckily the ground was all broken as far as I could see; and after
travelling some little way, we came to a gulley which we could not
cross; and finding no possibility of moving without the danger of being
killed by falling into some of these ravines, or over some precipice, I
thought it advisable to halt till the morning. On this rugged summit we
fell in with Jonas Watkins, one of the sick; and with his assistance I
lighted a fire. Wrapped Mr. Anderson in his cloak, and laid him down
beside it. Watched all night to keep the fire burning, and prevent our
being surprised by the lions, which we knew were at no great distance.
About two o'clock in the morning two more of the sick joined us. Mr.
Anderson slept well during the night, and as soon as day dawned,

August 13th, - having found the footmarks of the asses, and having with
difficulty even in day light traced our way through this labyrinth, we
found Mr. Scott and three more of the sick. They too had lost their way,
and had slept about half a mile to the East of us. We reached Koomikoomi
at ten o'clock. This is an unwalled village, but surrounded with
extensive corn fields.

August 13th. - Halted; rested at Koomikoomi

August 14th. - Jonas Watkins died this morning; buried him. Halted here
to day to see which way Mr. Anderson's fever was likely to terminate;
and in the mean time sent two loaded asses forward to Doombila, the
asses to return in the evening and carry loads to-morrow morning.

° ' "
Obser. Mer. Alt. - - - - 177 7 0
0 32 0
- - - - - -
177 39 0
- - - - - -
88 49 0-1/2
- - - - - - -
Z D. - - 1 11 0
D. 14 8 0
- - - - - - -
Latitude - - 12 57 0 [*]
- - - - - - -

[Footnote *: Mr. Park took a wrong day's declination, i.e. the 15th
instead of the 14th. It should be,

° ' "
ZD. - - - - 1 11 0
Dec. - - - - 14 27 29
- - - - - - - -
Latitude - - - - 13 16 29
- - - - - - - -

It is a common observation of the Negroes, that when the Indian corn is
in blossom the rain stops for eleven days. The stopping of the rain

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