Page images

of the huts was a square one of large dimensions surrounded by a verandah, with screens of matting all around except in one place, where there was hung a tanned bullock's hide; to this spot I was led up, and, on its being drawn on one side, I saw the lady sitting cross-legged on a small Turkey carpet, like one of our hearth rugs, a large leather cushion under her left knee; her goora pot, which was a large oldfashioned English pewter mug, by her side, and a calibash of water to wash her mouth out, as she alternately kept eating goora and chewing tobacco-snuff, the custom with all ranks, male or female, who can procure them on her right side lay a whip. At a little distance, squatted on the ground, sat a dwarfish, hump-backed, female slave, with a wide mouth but good eyes: she had on no clothing, if I except a profusion of strings of beads and coral round her neck and waist. This personage served the purpose of a bell in our country, and what, I suppose, would in old times have been called a page. The lady herself was dressed in a white coarse muslin turban; her neck profusely decorated with necklaces of coral and gold chains, amongst which was one of rubies and gold beads; her eyebrows and eyelashes blacked, her hair dyed with indigo, and her hands and feet with henna: around her body she had a fine striped silk and cotton country cloth, which came as high as her tremendous breasts, and reached as low as her ankles ; in her right hand she held a fan made of stained grass, of a square form. She desired me to sit down on the carpet beside her, which I did, and she began fanning me, and sent Hump-back to bring out her finery for me to look at; which consisted of four gold bracelets, two large paper dressing-cases with looking-glasses, and several strings of coral, silver rings, and bracelets, with a number of other trifling articles. After a number of compliments, and giving me an account of all her wealth, I was led through one apartment into another, cool, clean, and ornamented with pewter dishes and bright brass pans. She now told me her husband had been dead these ten years, that she had only one son, and he was darker than herself; that she loved white men, and would go to Boussa with me; that she would send for a malem, or man of learning, and read the fatha with me. I thought this was carrying the joke a little too far, and began to look very serious, on which she sent for the looking-glass, and looking at herself, then offering it me, said, to be sure she was rather older than me, but very little, and what of that? This was too much, and I made my retreat as soon as I could, determined never to come to such close quarters with her again.'-pp. 85, 86.

Wawa is said to contain from 18 to 20,000 inhabitants; it is surrounded by a good high clay wall, and dry ditch; and is described as the neatest, most compact, and best walled town between it and Badagry. The following, however, is no very flattering account of its inhabitants.

• The virtue of chastity I do not believe to exist in Wawa. Even the widow Zuma lets out her female slaves for hire, like the rest of the people of the town. Neither is sobriety held as a virtue. I never


was in a place in my life where drunkenness was so general. Governor, priest, and layman, and even some of the ladies, drink to excess. I was pestered for three or four days by the governor's daughter, who used to come several times in a day, painted and bedizened in the highest style of Wawa fashion, but always half tipsy; I could only get rid of her by telling her that I prayed and looked at the stars all night, never drank any thing stronger than roa-in-zafir, which they call my tea, literally hot water: she always departed in a flood of tears. Notwithstanding their want of chastity, and drunkenness, they are a merry people, and have behaved well to me. They appear to have plenty of the necessaries of life, and a great many of the luxuries, some of which they would be better without-this being the direct road from Bornou, Houssa, and Nyffe, to Gonja, Dahomey, and Jannah.'-p. 93.

They are, notwithstanding, said to be honest, cheerful, goodnatured, and hospitable. The women good-looking, and the men strong and well made, partly Mahomedans and partly Pagans.

From hence, it was settled that our traveller should proceed across the Quorra, to a city called Koolfu; but as Boussa was higher up the river than the common ferry of Comie, and he was determined to visit the spot where Mungo Park perished, the governor promised to forward his servant and baggage to the former place, where he was to meet them after his visit to Boussa. This town he found, on his arrival, to be situated on an island formed by two branches of the Quorra, the smaller and more westerly one named the Menai, which he crossed by a canoe, the horses swimming over. On waiting on the sultan, by whom, as usual, he was kindly received, his first inquiry was concerning some white men, who were lost in the river some twenty years ago, near this place.

'He seemed rather uneasy at this question, and I observed that he stammered in his speech. He assured me he had nothing belonging to them; that he was a little boy when the event happened. I said I wanted nothing but the books and papers, and to learn from him a correct account of the manner of their death; and that with his permission, I would go and visit the spot where they were lost. He said no, I must not go; it was a very bad place. Having heard that part of the boat still remained, I asked him if it was so: he replied that such a report was untrue; that she did remain on the rocks for some time after, but had gone to pieces and floated down the river long ago. I said if he would give me the books and papers it would be the greatest favour he could possibly confer on me. He again assured me that nothing remained with him, every thing of that kind had gone into the hands of the learned men; but that if any were now in existence he would procure them and give them to me. I then asked him if he would allow me to inquire of the old people in the town the particulars of the affair, as


some of them must have seen it. He appeared very uneasy, gave me no answer, and I did not press him further.'-pp. 100, 101,

Not satisfied with this, Clapperton returned to the subject:The sultan, when I inquired of him again to-day about the papers of my unfortunate countryman, said that the late imam, a Fellata, had had possession of all the books and papers, and that he had fled from Boussa some time since. This was a death-blow to all future inquiries here; and the whole of the information concerning the affair of the boat, her crew, and cargo, which I was likely to gain here, I have already stated. Every one, in fact, appeared uneasy when I asked for information, and said it had happened before their remembrance, or that they did not see it. They pointed out the place where the boat struck, and the unfortunate crew perished. Even this was done with caution, and as if by stealth; though, in every thing unconnected with that affair, they were most ready to give me what information I asked; and never in my life have I been treated with more hospitality or kindness.'p. 104.

The place where the vessel was sunk is in the eastern channel, where the river breaks over a grey slate rock extending quite across it. A little lower down, the river had a fall of three or four feet. Here, and still farther down, the whole united streams of the Quorra were not above three-fourths the breadth of the Thames at Somerset-house. On returning to the ferry, Clapperton found a messenger from the king of Youri, who had sent him a present of a camel.

'He said the king, before he left Youri, had shown him two books, very large, and printed, that had belonged to the white men that were lost in the boat at Boussa; that he had been offered a hundred and seventy mitgalls of gold for them, by a merchant from Bornou, who had been sent by a Christian on purpose for them. I advised him to tell the king, that he ought to have sold them; that I would not give five mitgalls for them; but that, if he would send them, I would give him an additional present; and that he would be doing an acceptable thing to the king of England by sending them, and that he would not act like a king if he did not. I gave him for his master one of the mock-gold chains, a common sword, and ten yards of silk, and said I would give him a handsome gun and some more silk, if he would send the books. On asking him if there were any books like my journal, which I showed him, he said there was one, but that his master had given it to an Arab merchant ten years ago; but the merchant was killed by the Fellatas on his way to Kano, and what had become of that book afterwards he did not know.'-pp. 122, 123.

Upon this, Clapperton, sent a person with a letter to Youri

Mohamed, the Fezzanie, whom I had hired at Tabra, and whom I had sent to the chief of Youri for the books and papers of the late Mungo Park, returned, bringing me a letter from that person, which


contained the following account of the death of that unfortunate traveller that not the least injury was done to him at Youri, or by the people of that country; that the people of Boussa had killed them, and taken all their riches; that the books in his possession were given him by the Imam of Boussa; that they were lying on the top of the goods in the boat when she was taken; that not a soul was left alive belonging to the boat; that the bodies of two black men were found in the boat chained together; that the white men jumped overboard; that the boat was made of two canoes joined fast together, with an awning or roof behind; that he, the sultan, had a gun, double-barrelled, and a sword, and two books that had belonged to those in the boat; that he would give me the books whenever I went to Youri myself for them, not until then.'-pp. 132, 133.*

The last account of this unfortunate traveller, is stated to be from an eye-witness.

'This evening I was talking with a man that is married to one of my landlady's female slaves, called her daughter, about the manners of the Cumbrie and about England; when he gave the following account of the death of Park and of his companions, of which he was an eye-witness. He said that when the boat came down the river, it happened unfortunately just at the time that the Fellatas first rose in arms, and were ravaging Goober and Zamfra; that the sultan of Boussa, on hearing that the persons in the boat were white men, and that the boat was different from any that had ever been seen before, as she had a house at one end, called his people together from the neighbouring towns, attacked and killed them, not doubting that they were the advance guard of the Fellata army then ravaging Soudan, under the command of Malem Danfodio, the father of the present Bello; that one of the white men was a tall man with long hair; that they fought for three days before they were all killed; that the people in the neighbourhood were very much alarmed, and great numbers fled to Nyffé and other countries, thinking that the Fellatas were certainly coming among them. The number of persons in the boat was only four, two white men and two blacks: that they found great treasure in the boat; but that the people had all died who eat of the meat that was found in her. This account I believe to be the

*This is not exactly what the sultan says in his letter, of which the following is a translation by Mr. Salamé :

This is issued from the Prince or Lord of Yàoury to Abdallah, the English Captain, salutation and esteem. Hence your messenger has arrived and brought us your letter, and we understand what you write. You inquire about a thing that has no trace with us. The Prince or Lord of Boossy is older (or greater) than us, because he is our grandfather. Why did you not inquire of him about what you wish for? You were at Boossy, and did not inquire of the inhabitants what was the cause of the destruction of the ship and your friends, nor what happened between them of evil; but you do now inquire of one who is far off, and knows nothing of the cause of their (the Christians') destruction. 'As to the book which is in our hand, it is true, and we did not give it to your messenger, but we will deliver it to you, if you come and show us a letter from your lord. You shall then see it and have it, if God be pleased; and much esteem and Sàlàm be to you, and prayer and peace, unto the last of the apostles (MOHAMMED.)'


most correct of all that I have yet got; and was told to me without my putting any questions, or showing any eagerness for him to go on with his story. I was often puzzled to think, after the kindness I had received at Boussa, what could have caused such a change in the minds of these people in the course of twenty years, and of their different treatment of two European travellers. I was even disposed at times to flatter myself that there was something in me that belonged to nobody else, to make them treat me and my people with so much kindness; for the friendship of the king of Boussa I consider as my only protection in this country.'-pp. 134, 135.

This is by far the most probable, and all of them corroborate the story generally disbelieved at the time, which Isaaco brought back from Amadoo-Fatima. There is yet a chance, we think, though but a slender one, that the journal of Park may be recovered.

[ocr errors]

Clapperton found, on reaching the ferry at Comie, that so far from his baggage having gone on to Koolfu, it had been stopped at Wawa by the governor; and that, to his great surprise, the widow Zuma was at a neighbouring village, from whom he presently received some boiled rice, and a fowl, with an invitation to go and stop at her house. The governor's son informed him, that his baggage would not be allowed to leave Wawa, till the widow was sent back. 'What have I to do with the widow?' asked Clapperton. You have,' he replied, and you must come back with me and take her.' Clapperton, however, positively refused to have any thing to do with or say to her. His servant Richard at this moment returned from Boussa, whither he had followed his master, to acquaint him with the detention of his baggage; told him that it was owing to the widow's having left Wawa, about half an hour after he did, with drums beating before her, and a train after her, first calling at his lodgings before she waited on the governor; that she had given old Pascoe a female slave for wife, without the governor's permission; and that she had declared, she intended following him to Kano, from whence she would return to make war on the governor, as she had done once before.This,' says Clapperton, let me into their politics with a vengeance it would have been a fine end to my journey indeed, if I had deposed old Mohamed, and set up for myself, with a walking tun-butt for a queen.' Clapperton, however, determined to

[ocr errors]


go back to Wawa to release his baggage, and scarcely had he got there, when the arrival of the jolly widow was announced, whose appearance and escort we must let our traveller describe.

This morning the widow arrived in town, with a drummer beating before her, whose cap was bedecked with ostrich feathers; a bowman walking on foot at the head of her horse; a train behind, armed with


« PreviousContinue »