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ART. III.-A Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia, performed in His Majesty's Ships Leven and Barracouta, from 1822, to 1826, under the command of Capt. F. W. W. Owen, R.N. By Capt. THOMAS BOTELER, R. N. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1835.
THE HE eastern coast of Africa, from Cape Gardafui to Cape Delgado, appears to us to be one of the most interesting portions of that continent. At every step of our progress along its shores, we meet with fresh objects to excite our curiosity. The scholar, the merchant, and the philosophical enquirer into the various conditions of human society, all find here a favourable field for their respective researches or speculations. We trust therefore that we shall render an acceptable service to our readers, if we seize this opportunity of laying before them not a little curious information regarding that coast, which we have collected from original and authentic sources.
It is surprising what a cloud of ignorance has for some ages back veiled that highly favoured region from our eyes. Malte Brun, the best informed of modern geographers, acknowledged that his most recent authorities respecting the coast north of Zanzibar were three centuries old. He knew not what nation possessed Mombása-nor the fate of Melinda, now in a state of desolation-nor the prosperity of Lamú, which he believed to have been overwhelmed with sand. Thus far he avowed his ignorance, which went, however, much further than he confessed. He tells us, for example, that the cities of Melinda, Lamú, and Patta, appear to be situated in the Delta of a great river named Quilimancy, and which is probably the same river that, ' under the name of Zebée, descends from the mountains of Abys'sinia.' Now this hypothesis has not an atom of foundation; for there is no river at Melinda, nor yet at Patta. The river called Zebée in the interior, is the Juba of the coast, the mouth of which is situated nearly under the equator, about 250 miles from Melinda. The discordance of the early Portuguese writers, and of old maps, as to the position of the Quilimancy, which Malte Brun fancied he could subdue and reduce to harmony, by supposing that river to embrace a wide Delta with several arms, ought rather to have incited him to a critical investigation of the original authority which vouched for its existence; a research which would have saved him the mortification of erecting a theory
on a sandy foundation. In fact, there is no river nor place named Quilimancy on any part of that coast.*
In 1811, the Government of Bombay sent two vessels, the Ternate, Captain Smee, and the Sylph, Lieutenant Hardy, to explore the eastern coast of Africa, and to collect intelligence respecting its navigable rivers, its trade, and political situation. This task was as ably executed, we believe, as circumstances permitted, and much valuable information was collected which has never yet seen the light. Some misunderstanding between those who devised the scheme of survey, and those to whom the execution of it was intrusted, occasioned probably unbecoming neglect on the one hand, and silent disgust on the other. The report made by Captain Smee, which we understand to have been extremely copious, is known to us only through an abridgement, in the form of a despatch which he sent from Zanzibar, and which is very accurate as far as it goes. After Captain Smee's return to Bombay, Lieutenant Hardy remained three months at Zanzibar, where he took the depositions of several respectable Arabs who, in the course of their mercantile wanderings, had visited various parts of the African continent. His report is full of curious particulars; but misconceptions, arising from an imperfect knowledge of the language in which the information was conveyed, are conspicuous in every page of it; and in the copy which we have perused, the orthography of the proper names, originally vicious, is still further corrupted by the errors of the transcriber.
As the information collected by Smee and Hardy was never published, and appears to have been known to very few, the honour of first dissipating the obscurity which had so long involved the shores of Eastern Africa belongs to the expedition the history of which is contained in the volumes now before us. Captain Owen, already distinguished for his survey of the Canadian Lakes, sailed, in January 1822, in the Leven frigate, accompanied by the Barracouta, a ten-gun brig, with instructions to survey the entire eastern coast of Africa, and the less known portions of the coast of Madagascar, with the islets and shoals of the interjacent seas. To this extensive task was added, by fur
M. Balbi, the most pretending of modern geographers, says, (in a volume which appeared subsequently to the publication of Captain Owen's charts,) The Quilimancy is the only river of Eastern Africa the position of which is known.' Then, if he knew its position, why did he not tell it? He ought rather to have said, it is the only river of that coast the position of which is not known,
ther instructions, the survey of the western coast from the Zaire to Benin, and from the Rio Grande to the Gambia. All this was successfully accomplished by the energy and experience of Captain Owen, and the zeal of his officers. In five years they surveyed and delineated no less than 30,000 miles of coast. There is no branch of his Majesty's service more arduous in its nature or more important in its consequences than nautical surveying. As it requires abilities above the common, and is directly conducive to the safety of navigation, and consequent activity of commerce, so it is on both accounts peculiarly entitled to public encouragement. England, glorying in the victories of her navy, may also justly boast that in this department,-in the work of peace, it is also pre-eminent. Other nations may maintain hydrographical establishments on a more liberal or splendid scale, and give to the claims of science a little of that consideration which British Parliaments bestow solely on pecuniary interests. But the enlightened liberality of a government cannot in such a case supply the place of practised seamanship in its officers, or of the united skill and courage required in one whose duty it is to explore hidden dangers, and to seek the shoals in order that he may teach others how to avoid them. Future generations will ever regard with gratitude and admiration the labours of such men as Vancouver, King, and Owen.
But the same officer who surveyed in five years 30,000 miles of coast, was unable to find his way through his own manuscripts in double that period. Impatient of sedentary labour, Captain Owen at last gave the raw materials of his narrative to his publisher, and resigned himself securely to a trade wind which never blows towards fame. The consequence may be easily anticipated. He ran on the lee shore publication, and though not absolutely wrecked, may be truly said to have lain high and dry in its fatal strands. The vessel, however, has been got off, newly trimmed, and floats again under another name; for we must not conceal from our readers that Captain Boteler's narrative is little else than a second edition of Captain Owen's; less spoiled by editorial meddling; more faithful to the original manuscript; and illustrated by some clever drawings by Captain Boteler; but in other respects absolutely the same. Let not, then, any rude blasts of criticism darken the path of the barque which bears the recollections of so many gallant spirits now no more. Captain Boteler was one of these. As lieutenant of the Leven, he bore a large share of the labours of Captain Owen's survey. On the completion of this work he was appointed to the command of the Hecla, and sent to survey the coasts of Western Guinea. His ardour and contempt of fatigue proved fatal to him in that trying
climate, and he perished in the flower of his age. The volumes now before us, consisting in a great measure of his journals, show him to have been an amiable man and able officer. To one lamenting a departed relative, it must prove a great source of consolation when, as in the present instance, a monument can be erected to his memory, which represents him as having worn out his life in the service of his country.
We now proceed to our remarks on the geography of Eastern Africa, first apprising our readers, that, with the information collected by Smee, Hardy, Owen, and Emery, before us, we have had also the advantage of conversing with a respectable and intelligent Arab, a native of Zanzibar, perfectly acquainted with the languages of the adjacent continent; and with its trade and established commercial routes, many of which he has himself trodden. This person has corrected for us the orthographical errors of Hardy's manuscript, and in general confirmed its statements. The comparison of the information which we have had from him, with all that we have drawn from other sources, establishes his veracity in the most satisfactory manner possible. From his servant also, a M'iáo, or native of Iáo, a country situated near the sources of the Livúma, we have drawn, by separate and repeated interrogation, intelligence on which (having taken great pains to avoid misconceptions) we feel disposed to place implicit reliance.*
The first thing that strikes us in casting our eyes over Captain Owen's charts of the coast of Eastern Africa, is, that they contain no positive indication of the greatest river in that part of the world, we mean the Lufígy. A portion of the coast between Kilwa and Monfía island was left unexplored by the expedition, and in that portion possibly might be the chief opening of this great river. But the minute account which we have received of it allows us little liberty of choice in fixing its position. The chief mouth of the Lufígy then (for it has many mouths), is one of the openings in the mainland, marked in the chart near the westernmost point of Monfía island, in latitude 7° 51', or 58, 30', S. In the chart by Saulnier de Mondevit, the mouth of the river is indicated by the name of the village Oufidgy. The Lu
The M'iáo, or Muyáo, are the Mujáo of the Portuguese, who change the sound of y into that of j (the liquid into the soft g). The genius of the African language at Mozambique requires an n before the j, and hence Mujáo becomes Monjáo, or, as Salt wrote it, Monjou. We prefer writing M'iáo, having repeatedly heard the name of the country articulately pronounced Iáo.
fígy is narrow at its entrance, and barred, so as to be inaccessible to vessels of greater draught than Arab dows of 150 tons burden. But a little way up it expands into a majestic stream, from two to three miles wide. In the season of the floods, it resembles a sea, inundating the country (in its right bank chiefly, we conjecture) for many miles around. Towards its mouth, it winds much in its course, and passes not above 30 miles westward of Kilwa. The country through which it flows is described as extremely plentiful, and well peopled, particularly in the upper part of its course, where the people have two crops a-year of rice, dúrra, dhol, &c., besides plantains, pine apples, oranges, limes, pumpkins, and a great variety of other fruits. The inhabitants of the lower tracts are here, as in most other parts of Southern Africa, more barbarous than the tenants of the elevated plains. A complete enumeration of the tribes and towns on this river would tire the patience of our readers. It will be sufficient to state, that the right bank of the river behind Kilwa is inhabited by the Dengaréko, who build their houses on stakes. Higher up are the N'cútu, and at the distance of a month's journey the M'sagára. These, and all the other tribes on the river, are said to be civil to strangers of colour, and very fair dealers.' Arab dows can ascend the river for seven days, after which the violence of the current forbids their further progress. Canoes plying near the shore continue the navigation for a month. But the hippopotami and crocodiles are so numerous in the Lufígy, and the latter are so fierce, as to render the navigation of it in canoes a service of great danger. The Arabs sometimes arm their vessels with long iron spikes, in order to keep these monsters at a distance.
The Lufígy, as we have already stated, overflows the adjacent country to a great extent after the rains. Now, there is little room to doubt that the numerous small streams which flow together at Kilwa, collected chiefly into the channels of the Cuávi and Kisimafúgo, are but the drains of the inundated country, and that they communicate, during the floods at least, with the Lufígy. The Dengaréko, who inhabit the banks of this river, descend to Kilwa in canoes in a single day, with their plantains, pumpkins, and fresh vegetables. Thus we at once explain the otherwise unintelligible accounts which nearly all early writers gave of the rivers of Kilwa. The Cuávi was said to be one of the greatest rivers of Africa, and to descend from that great lake, the existence of which in the interior is no longer doubtful. The same thing has been more recently asserted of the Kisimafúgo.*
See the statement of M. de Cossigny, in the Annales des Voyages, tom. vi. P. 348.