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of the poor against the rich; but here it is equally, or more of the rich against the poor; for, in Africa, he who is destitute of every thing else, has at least himself, the richest booty that can tempt the plunderer. The greatest kings think it quite suitable to their dignity to send their subjects in large ghrazzie, to sweep together for sale a multitude of their unfortunate fellow-mortals. Prior to the marriage between the Sheikh of Bornou and the daughter of the Sultan of Mandara, a combined expedition was sent against the Musgow nation, which, after a desperate struggle, brought in three thousand slaves; and the nuptials were celebrated with barbaric pomp, furnished out of the tears and blood of so many victims. Even when permanent conquest is the object, a large part of the population of the vanquished districts is collected, and sent off to the markets of Northern Africa.
Next in prominence to the preceding, and in intimate combination with it, is trade. The trade of Central Africa is not carried on by our quiet and regular machinery of ships, warehouses, counting-rooms, and shops. The articles which form its object, are escorted across the continent by large armed bodies, forming little armies; and on their arrival, they are displayed in public and crowded markets, scenes of universal resort, not only for business, but for gaiety and exhibition. There is scarcely less glory, and as much of pride, pomp and circumstance, in trade as in war. The great merchants who, as we have seen, are also warriors, rank in the eye of the public with nobles, and even with princes.
These two moving springs of African activity unite in what is called the Slave trade." Though this is divested of some of the horrors which attend its maritime consummation, yet, independent of the original outrage and violence with which the victims are dragged from their homes, many dreadful scenes attend their passage across the desert. The traders, indeed, whose interest it is that they should reach Barbary in tolerable condition, keep up their spirits, by telling them, that on arriving at Tripoli, they will be set free, and dressed in red, which is considered by them as the ultimatum of finery. In passing through the towns, they are decked out, and paraded in state, which seems to afford them some satisfaction. In the passage of the desert, however, carelessness or avarice often make very insufficient provision against those privations, which the strictest attention can scarcely avert. These, of course, fall first and heaviest on the slaves; and to what extent, was but too evident, from their skeletons seen strewed in such numbers over the intervening desert. Captain Clapperton heard a truly af
fecting example from a woman, who being unable any longer to carry her child, saw it snatched from her, and thrown on the ground to perish, while she herself was compelled, by the lash, to drag on her exhausted frame. The slaves retained in Soudan are tolerably treated, and it is said, appear gayer than their masters, an observation not unfrequent: But this reckless gayety of those to whom reflection would be useless or miserable, only proves the mind to be in a degraded state, and is not probably inconsistent with a sense of secret wretchedness.
From these dark features, we must not however conclude, that an unbroken gloom hangs over the moral existence of Africa. National crimes, as they do not degrade a man in the eyes of others, or even his own, do not break the general character like those committed by individuals against law and public opinion. There seems even something peculiarly amiable and engaging in the social existence of the African. Warmth of friendship, hospitality, humanity, are virtues of which Park gives many shining instances, to which others are added by the present travellers. They are furnished even by Moslems, notwithstanding the hostile feelings cherished by a bigotted creed. When Major Denham was flying from the Felatah battle in a naked and miserable state, a young African Prince pulled off his own trowsers and gave them to him. A spirit of kindness and good humour indeed seems very generally to prevail in their domestic intercourse.
In the sketch now given of these new discoveries, we have purposely reserved that which chiefly excites the interest of Europe, their bearing upon those great problems in African Geography, which have so long occupied the speculations of the learned. Upon these very great light, we think, has been thrown by the present expedition.
The first place here is evidently claimed by the long disputed question respecting the course and termination of the Niger. Upon this subject, the positive intelligence is small and vague; but there is much negative information, as to what is not the Niger; and indeed this celebrated problem seems almost to have issued in ceasing to be one. It has lost, at least, that mysterious and romantic grandeur, with which, in the eyes of Europe, it had so long been invested. The Niger certainly cannot be the immense stream long supposed to drain the entire breadth of the African continent. The plain truth is, we doubt if there can very strictly be said to be such a river as the Niger. This celebrated name, which, with its cognate term of the Neel Abcede, signifies, the Nile or river of the Black nations, is evidently imposed by a foreign people, who are the North Afri
cans, and who have communicated it to Europe: And an attentive observation will now make it evident, that they have applied it less to any individual river, than to an ideal compound of all those which flow along the central plain of interior Africa. To understand this error, we must take a glance at the physical structure of this part of the continent. From the frontier of Abyssina, to the heads of the Senegal and Gambia, it is now ascertained to be crossed by a chain of mountains nearly, if not altogether, continuous. From this chain, several great rivers descend into the plain of Soudan; where finding, it appears, a level lower than that of the desert, they turn from their northerly course, and begin to flow either east or west. It is also ma
terial to observe, that the great commercial lines of Africa are not along these rivers, but across them, at right angles. A caravan coming from northern Africa therefore had only to pass one stream, or perhaps follow its course for a short interval. They had no means of tracing the continuous course of any one; but to whatever part of this great plain they came, a river was found running in the same line, between the east and the west; and the idea might naturally arise, that this river was always one and the same. The direction of the stream is a point which easily escapes superficial observers; and nothing is more common than descriptions, in which the line of course is alone considered, and the river is described as running in the reverse of its real direction.
As the impression became thus general, that all the rivers of Central Africa were one, so the belief has been almost equally prevalent, that this one river was the Nile. Independent of the natural tendency to aggrandize a well known and favourite object, this idea was suggested by a peculiar intellectual process, not perhaps very obvious at first sight. Without entering into any abstruse questions as to the nature of general terms, we may at least observe, that they cannot be formed till several objects of the same class have been observed and compared. He who has seen only one of any class, possesses as yet no idea but of that individual object. Such was the case of the northern Africans in regard to the Nile. In Egypt there is no other river whatever; and in Barbary, none which can be placed at all on the same level in regard to magnitude. When, therefore, they came upon a similarly great stream, flowing across the central plain of Africa, it suggested to them, not the generic idea of river, but the individual idea of Nile. The prepossession thus formed, was strengthened by local feelings; and the unknown region between Nubia and Soudan, afforded a space, through which a river could be drawn in any direction that suited preVOL. XLIV. NO. 87. O
conceived ideas. Edrisi, and the other Arabian geographers, chiefly acquainted with a region in which the main stream flowed westerly, effected their object, by supposing it to arise from the same source with the Egyptain Nile, and thence to flow westward, across the entire breadth of Africa, to the Atlantic. In modern times, since Tombuctoo and Jenné became the grand emporia, the caravan merchants are more familiar with the Niger of Park, flowing eastward. Hence, they imagine it to continue in that direction across Africa, till, by joining the Bahr-el Abiad, it establishes in an opposite way that identity with the Egyptian Nile, which is so deeply rooted in the African mind.
The writer of the article Africa, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, had already shown, that the opposite accounts transmitted to us, could only be reconciled by supposing two rivers, both called Niger, and one of them not only different, but flowing in an opposite direction from the Niger of Park. This river has been found by the present mission; which has moreover proved the river system of Africa to be much more complex than former materials could have led us to suppose. We may now distinctly trace four rivers, which have usually been considered as combining to form the mighty ideal stream of interior Africa. These are, 1. The Senegal. Though, since the expedition of Park, its pretensions are entirely withdrawn, no doubt was entertained for many centuries of its being the embouchure by which the Niger entered the ocean. It was considered as such by the Arabians, who indeed knew very little about it; by Leo, who might have known more; and, till the eighteenth century, by all the nations of Europe, who knew the Senegal, but not the interior waters from which it was supposed to issue. 2. The river discovered by Park, and by the natives variously called Joli (Ba), Colle, Quolla, Quorra, Quarra, Kowara,an enumeration which will show, that however widely the extremes diverge, the name is radically one and the same. This river is now ascertained as flowing almost due south from Tombuctoo, and passing about four days' journey to the west of Sackatoo; but all the notices here contained respecting its farther course and termination, are exceedingly vague. 3. A river called the Quarrama, for the knowledge of which we are indebted to the present mission. It flows westward, passes by or near Kano, Kashna, Sackatoo, and all the great cities of Soudan, and falls finally into the Quolla. This is evidently the river which suggested to the early Arabians, all whose settlements were in this part of Africa, the idea of a Nile of the Negroes, flowing westward across Africa. It is the Niger, reported by the Shreef to Mr Lucas as passing by Kassina, and
there flowing westward; a statement since entirely discredited, from being supposed inconsistent with Park's observations. 4. The Yeou, which we have seen flowing eastward into the Tchad. This apparently must have been the western Nile of Herodotus, to which the Nasamonian explorers were carried across the desert, and where they found a city inhabited by Negroes, and a river flowing from west to east. It was the easiest and most natural point to be reached from their country, which was Tripoli; whereas it would have required an immense circuit to arrive at the river of Tombuctoo. Probably also this river forms the Ethiopian part of that vast and devious course, partly above, and partly under ground, which Pliny assigns to his combined Niger and Nile. The early Arabians, who did not much frequent this river, evidently however viewed it as the early part of their Nile of the Negroes; while those of the present day, finding it flow in the same direction with the river of Tombuctoo, very naturally regard it as a continuation of that river, in its course to gain the Nile of Egypt.
Of these claimants for the name of Niger, the river explored by Park, though not the earliest, is the most considerable, and that which at present is fully established as such in the mind of Europeans. Whether it terminates in the Gulf of Benin, or in an inland sea, it must have a course of nearly two thousand miles, which will make it rank with the first of the Old, though not of the New, World. But still it will not possess either the unparalleled magnitude, or the unique and peculiar character, which have so long been ascribed to the Niger. Of the two preceding suppositions, that of the Gulf of Benin seems to have fixed itself in the mind of the public. Our own opinion, wel confess, leans pretty strongly to an inland termination. A long argument would be out of place, on a subject which will probably be soon decided, and is carried on, no doubt, at our own extreme peril, when a contradiction may so speedily arrive. Yet, since this opinion has been stated, it may be permitted hastily to sketch the grounds of it. We still lay much stress on the great belt of mountains which here crosses Africa. The unbroken continuity which our maps assign to it has indeed been ridiculed; but the very same continuity exists in the Andes, the Himmaleh, the Altai, and all the great barrier chains of the globe. The present expedition discloses a vast portion of it hitherto unknown; the mountains of Mandara, of Jacoba, of Adamowa, all in the same line, and stretching westward till, if they do not join the mountains of Kong, they can leave only a narrow intervening gap, for which, in mountain groups of this magnitude, there is no sort of precedent. As if to dispel all