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these opinions, and that which is exclusively to the coast; the small supported by the greatest au- temptation which the continent of thorities (being the opinion not Africa held out, during the conti; only of some of the principal Geo- nuance of that trade, to internal graphers of antiquity, but of commerce; and the almost impe: D'Anville and Rennell among the netrable barrier raised up against moderns), it is supposed, that the Europeans in modern times, by. Niger has an inland termination the savage intolerance of the somewhere in the eastern part of Moors. Africa, probably in Wangara or The ancient opinion respecting Ghana : and that it is partly dis- the termination of the Niger just charged into inland lakes, which alluded to, receives a certain dehave no communication with the gree of confirmation from the best sea, and partly spread over a wide and most authentic accounts conextent of level country, and lost cerning that part of Africa, in in sands or evaporated by the heat which the Niger is supposed to of the sun. The principal ground disappear. This is represented by of this supposition is, the opinion various concurrent testimonies to. of some of the best informed be a great tract of alluvial counwriters of antiquity on the geo- try, having several permanent graphy of Africa, and a sort of lakes, and being annually overgeneral persuasion prevalent a- flowed for three months during mong the ancients to the same the rainy season. effect ; circumstances, it must be Against the hypothesis of an acknowledged, of some weight in inland termination of the Niger, determining this question : since sereral objections have been urged, there is good reason to believe, which are well deserving of atthat the knowledge of the ancients tention. They are principally concerning the interior of Africa founded on a consideration of the was much more extensire and ac- vast magnitude which the Niger curate than that of the moderns. must have attained after a course It is justly observed by Dr. Ro- of more than 1600 geographical bertson, that the geographical dis- miles, and the difficulty of concoveries of the ancients were made ceiving so prodigious a stream to chiefly by land, those of the mo- be discharged into lakes, and evaderns by sea; the progress of porated even by an African sun. conquest having led to the former, To account for such a phenomethat of commerce to the latter.- non, a great inland sea, bearing (Hist. of America, vol. ii. p. 316, some resemblance to the Caspian Svo.) Besides which, there are or the Aral, appears to be neces. several distinct and peculiar causes sary. But, besides, that the exwhich have essentially contributed istence of so vast a body of water to our present ignorance respect- without any outlet into the ocean, ing the interior of Africa; namely, is in itself an improbable circunsthe great prevalence of the slave stance, and not to be lightly adtrade, which has confined the at- mitted : such a sea, if it really exfention of European adventurers isted, could hardly have remained Vol. LVII.
a secret to the ancients, and en- Abyssinia. This opinion is maintirely unknown at the present tained by Mr. Hornemann, Mr. day.
Grey Jackson, and several other It may just be observed, that modern travellers; and it is D'Anville, following Ptolemy and slightly sanctioned by Strabo and other writers whom he considers Pliny, who speak of the sources as the best informed on the inter of the Nile as being reported by nal geography of Africa, is satis- some to be in the farthes parts fied that there are two considera- Mauritania. But it may be afble rivers, the Niger and the Gir; formed with great confidenee, that both of which are said to termi- of all the hypotheses respecting nate in the same quarter of Africa, the termination of the Niger, that and precisely in the same manner. which supposes it to be a branch The Gir, totally unknown in the of the Nile, is the most unfoundprese day, is familiarly men- ed, and the least consistent with tioned by Claudian, who, how- acknowledged facts. It is indeed ever, it may be recollected, was a rather a boose popular conjecture, native of Africa:
than an opinion deduced froin
probable reasoning; since noL“ Gir, ditissimus amnis
thing appears to be alleged in its Æthiopuin, simili mentitus gurgite Nilum."
support, except the mere circumCarm. 21. v. 252.
stance of the course of the river
being in a direction towards the In some MSS. it is notissimus Nile, and a few vague notions of amnis ; but the other reading is
some of the African natires with more probable.
regard to this subject, which are
unworthy of the smallest atten." Domitorque ferarum
tion. ** Girthaus, qui vasta colit sub rupibus Mr. Jackson, indeed, in his antra,
Travels (p. 310), states it to be a « Qui ramos ebeni, qui dentes vellit eburnos."
fact universally known among the Carm. 47. v, 30. rich African traders, that the Ni
ger and the Nile are one and the II. The second opinion respeet- same river, by means of which ing the Niger is, that it terminates there is a practicable communiin the Nile. In other words, this eation between Tombuctou and hypothesis identifies the Niger Grand Cairo. Between these two with the great western branch of cities caravans are continually the Nile, called the White River, passing, and a large trade is carwhich D'Anville traces from a ried on; but Mr. Jackson obsource very far S. S. W. to its junc- serves that the expense of landtion with the Nile near Sennaar. carriage by means of camels is He likewise accurately distin- more moderate than that by wa guishes this stream from the east- ter, and that the journey also is ern branch, which is much shorter more agreeable! He gives an and of inferior magnitude, and account of the voyage to Cairo takes its rise in the mountains of down the Niger having actually
been performed in the year 1780 countries west of the Nile, it is by a party of seventeen negroes, now clear, that if this junction the particulars of which expedi- takes place at all, it must be in tion, he says that he received from the upper part of the Nile, before " a very intelligent man who has that river has quitted the higher an establishment at Tombuctoo.” regions of Africa, from whence it These negroes proceeded down the has still 1000 geographical miles Niger from Jiunie, on a commer- to run before it reaches the sea, cial speculation, and reached Cai- passing in its way through several ro after a voyage of 14 months. cataracts. But it is utterly increThey returned by the caravan, and dible that the Niger, which, in orarrived at Jinnie, after an absence der to reach this part of the Nile, of more than three years. Some must have run at the least 2300 of the facts which they reported miles, should not in so long a are not a little extraordinary course have descended to a level viz. that in several places they considerably lower than that which found the Nile so shallow, in con- is here described. This objection sequence of channels cut for irri- is urged with great force by Magating the lands, that they could jor Rennell, who justly considers not proceed in their boat, and it as being entirely decisive of the were obliged to transport it some question ; but he has added sedistance over-land; that they saw veral other arguments, which between Tombuctoo and Cairo those who take an interest in twelre hundred cities and towns this question, will do well to conadorned with mosques and towers, sult. &c. &c. It is needless to com- III. The supposition, mentionment upon such hearsay state- ed in the text (p. 68), that the ments, received from an African Niger terminates in the River traveller or merchant more than Congo, or, as it is sometimes 20 years after the transaction is called, the Zayr, is entirely a resaid to have happened ; nor would cent conjecture, adopted by Park any allusion have been made to in consequence of the information them in this place, if Mr. Jack- and suggestions of Mr. Maxwell, son's book had not been much an experienced African trader, commended by distinguished cri- who appears from his letters, to tics, and quoted as an autho- have been a man of observation rity respecting the interior of and intelligence. The principal Africa by several geographical arguments in support of the opiwriters.
nion are shortly and clearly given The principal, and apparently in the memoir addressed by decisive, objection against this Park to Lord Camden; but the supposed junction of the Niger subject will receive additional and the Nile, is grounded upon a elucidation from Mr. Maxwell's comparison of the great difference own statement, and especially from of level between the beds of the his striking description of the ritwo rivers. From the authentic ver Congo, the vast magnitude of information we possess by means which seems at present to be litof Mr. Browne respecting the tle known, and has not suffici
2 P 2
ently attracted the attention of a chain of lakes. But instead of geographical writers. The fol- seven or eight lakes, the Congo lowing passage is extracted from may be supposed to pass through a letter, dated Prior's Lynn, near seventeen or eighteen ; which will Longtown, July 20, 1804, ad solve any difficulty as to the floods dressed by Mr. Maxwell to Wilc of the Niger not immediately afHam Keir, of Milnholm, Esq. a fecting the Congo. I believe that friend of Park, to whom the leto our information of the Niger loster was communicated by Mr. ing itself in the Desert rests wholly Maxwell's desire.
upon the authority of the Romans. “ Before ever the Niger came a people whose pursuits never led to be the topic of conversation, it them to trace the course of rivers struck me, that the Congo drew with a view to traffic or civilizaits source far to the northward, tion. If we may credit the aifrom the floods commencing long counts of travellers in crossing the before any rains take place south deserts, we find that, wherever of the equator ; since it begins they get water for refreshment, to swell perceptibly about the lat- there are invariably verdure and ter end of October, and no heavy palm trees; and these spots in the rains set in before December : and desert of Lybia were termed by about the end of January the ri- the ancients Oases, or Islands. ver must be supposed at its bigh- Now, if such small springs could est. At no time, however, can produce such permanent effects, the rains to the southward of the we may reasonably suppose, that Line be compared with those in the immense stream of the Niger, the Bight of Guinea, where ships increased to three times the size are obliged to have a house erect from where Mr. Park left it, would ed orer them during these months. long before this have made the
“But, whether the Congo be the desert as green as any water meaoutlet of the Niger or not, it cer- dow, and found its way gradually tainly offers the best opening for to the ocean, or inundated the exploring the interior of Africa of whole country. any scheme that has ever yet been “I can with much truth sav attempted; and the ease and this of the river Congo, that by safety with which it nright be comparing it with other rivers, conducted, needs no comment.- according to the best writers, it However, if the Niger has a sen- must rank as the third or fourth sible outlet, I have no doubt of its in magnitude. Considering the proving the Congo, knowing all force of the current it produces in the rivers between Cape Palmas the sea, carrying out floating and Cape Lopes to be inadequate islands 60 or 70 leagues from the to the purpose ; nor nced the im- coast, the Amazon or Plata can mense course of such a river sur- alone cope with it. Many traders, prise us, when we know that the whom I met with at Embomma, river St. Lawrence, contemptible (a settlement on the banks of the in size when compared with the Congo distant thirty leagues from Congo, encompasses the whole of its mouth,) had coine one month's North America, issuing through journey down the river, which,
reckoned at 20 miles each day I met several floating islands, or (and they count them by the moon, broken masses from the banks of Gonda), would make 600 miles; that noble river, which, with the and they spoke of it as equally trees still erect, and the whole large where they came from, and wafting to the motion of the sea, that it went by the name of En- rushed far into the ocean, and zaddi, as it does among all the na- formed a novel prospect even to tives upon the coast. Should the persons accustomed to the phenoshallow water, as laid down op- mena of the waters." He adds, posite Saenda, detract from the that there are soundings to the assumed size of the Congo, let it distance of from 30 or 40 miles be remembered, that the river from the coast, arising probably there is spread out ten miles in from the vast quantity of alluvial width, the middle channel of which matter brought down by the force has never been accurately sounded. of the stream. It has long been my opinion that Other accounts state, that the Leyland's or Molyneux Island at waters of the Congo may be disEmbomma (either of which might tinguished at sea more than thirty be rendered as impregnable as leagues from the coast, and that Gibraltar at a very small expence), the water is fresh at the distance would be a choice station for es- of thirty miles. These, possibly, tablishing an extensive are exaggeracions : but they may merce with the interior of Africa. be received, in confirmation of the Indeed, if the idea of the Congo preceding testimonies, as sufficient being the outlet of the Niger prove proofs of a general opinion among so upon trial, we may consider it navigators with regard to the size as an opening designed by Provi- and force of this prodigious river. dence for exploring those vast re. It is mentioned by Major Rennell gions, and civilizing the rude in- in his very interesting account of habitants."
the Ganges, that the sea in the Besides this account given by bay of Bengal ceases to be affected Mr. Maxwell, there are other tes- by the waters of that river, and timonies to the magnitude of the recovers its transparency, only at Congo, shewing it to be a river the distance of about 20 leagues of the first class, and larger pro- from the coast. (Phil. Transacbably than the Nile. In a journal tions, vol. Ixxi.) But the Ganges (which the editor has seen) of an being obstructed by its Delta, and intelligent and respectable naval passing through eight channels officer, Captain Scobell, who vi- into the sea, is much less rapid sited the coast of Africa in the and impetuous than the Congo. year 1813, in H.M. sloop of war, To these particulars it must be the Thais, the Congo is described added, that all the accounts conas "an immense river, from which curin representing, that the stream issues a continued stream at the of the Congo, is of a more unirate of four or five knots in the form height, and subject to much dry, and six or seven in the rainy less variation from the dry and season.” In a subsequent passage rainy seasons, than any tropical he says, " In crossing this stream, river which is known; and that