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The testimony which the writer adduces from modern authors, is altogether of the suspicious sort, called hearsay. “Ben Ali heard it stated at Tombuctoo, that the Niger terminated in a lake in the desert,' (or rather) “was lost in the sands south of Tombuctoo. Mr. Jackson was told, we know not by whom, that fifteen days journey east of Tombuctoo, (that jis, three or four beyond Houssa) there is an immense lake called Bahar Soudan, or Sea of Soudan; on the eastern bank of which begins the territory of white people, * denominated by the Arabs (N'sarrath) Christians, or followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who navigate the lake with large decked vessels, containing from 100 to 150 men.' A Mr. Barnes states, that he heard from the black traders that the Niger discharges itself into a large lake; on the borders of which there are white inhabitants. And, last of all, Mr. Park. obtained the following information during his last residence of two months at Sansanding: One month's travel south of Baedoo, through the kingdom of Gotto, will bring the traveller to the country of the Christians, who have their houses on the banks of the Ba Sea Feena; this water they describe as incomparably lurger than the Dibbie, and that it flows sometimes one way and sometimes another. The latter striking circumstance, (which, as it can mean nothing less than the ebb and flow of tides, is plainly inapplicable to an inland lake,) our author passes over in the most unconscious and profound silence. In the foregoing statements, our readers will observe, that two out of three place the great water south of Tombuctoo: And we must, in fine, submit it to their own decision, whether we can safely draw, from the whole testimony, any more definite conclusion than this,-that, westward of Gana and south of Tombuctoo, the Nile of the Negroes runs into a great water, which flows sometimes one way and sometimes another,' and on the eastern borders of which there is a race of. white people, who sail in large decked vessels, containing 100 or 150 men.
Before Sidi Hamet left Mogadore, Captain Riley got him to give an account of his journeyings in the interior of Africa. He had been three times to Tombuctoo, and once to Wassa
* We lay no stress upon the improbability of there being such a race of men in the heart of Africa; for we find the report of their existence to be more than 300 years old. Bemoin, the Negro king, who went to Lisbon, and was made a Catholic in 1489, informed king John, that east of
Tombut,' there existed a white people, who were neither Mahommedans por idolaters; but had a religion resembling the Christian. The same thing was stated by some Friars who travelled in the Holy Land, and by some Abyssinians, who came into Spain. Indeed, it is said, that a Portuguese of the name of Covellan absolutely saw the prince of this people.
nah, a city about 54 days south of it. While travelling on the Desert, our author had frequent occasion to remark the accuracy with which an Arab steers his ship of the land; but, in order to be more fully satisfied upon the point, he took Sidi Hamet on the roof of Mr. Willshire's house, one very clear evening; and tells us that his observations respecting the stars were perfectly astonishing.' He immediately pointed out the polar star and the great bear; called over the Arabic names for the planets and fixed stars; and, to show his knowledge of the cardinal points, he crossed two sticks at right angles, directing one to the north, and then proceeded to divide the circle into eighths and sixteenths by means of two other similar crosses. The next day, he was requested to give some account of his travels: he readily complied; and Captain Riley took down his story as he went along. The most faithless Arab could not, under these circumstances, be tempted to string together a series of falsehoods; and when our readers observe the simplicity and truth with which Sidi Hamet describes a great many objects which, though new to him, are perfectly familiar to us, we think they will be strongly induced to believe that the greatest part of what he tells us is substantially correct. Above all things, he could have no temptation to deceive his listeners upon a dry question of geography. And as he was not interrogated by any person, with a view to extort facts for a preconceived theory, we cannot see any good reason why his story, on this point at least, should not be believed.
While he was in Tombuctoo the second time, the king, or shegar, made up a caravan for Wassanah, and hired Sidi Hamet and his brother to turn in their two camels. In two hours' ride to the south, they reached the bank of the river, which is called at that place Zolibib (Joliba), and was wider than from Mogadore to the island; about 500 yards.' Thence they took a course which was a little to the south of east;' and, after travelling six days with the river on their right, they stopped two days at a place called Bimbinah. Here the river turned more to the south-eastward, because there was a very high mountain in sight to the eastward.' They "then went from the river side, and pursued their journey more southwardly, through a hilly and woody country, for fifteen days, when they came (he says) to the same river again.” He does not say a word about crossing the river; and the expression of 'going from its side,' as well as the constant remark that the river was on the right, must preclude the supposition of his having crossed it at this place. They rested their camels and asses five days; "and then went onward again in about a S. E. direction, winding, as the river ran, for three days;' when they had to climb over a very
high ridge of mountains,' in consequence of the river's running against the steep side of it. From the top of this ridge, which it took six days to cross, they saw a large chain of mountains to the westward. And on the other side, they came to the river's bank again, where it was very narrow, and
full of rocks, that dashed the water dreadfully. After a journey of twelve days more,-during which they wound a little every day, sometimes to the east, then to south again,' crossed' a great many small streams that emptied into the great river on their right hand, and saw 'very plainly the high mountains on the west side of it,'—they came to a ferrying-place, where they rested seven days. In fifteen days more, they reached the city of Wassanah. During their abode at this place, “the brother of the king told one of Sidi Hamet's Moslemin companions, that he was going to set out with 60 boats, and to carry 500 slaves down the river, first to the southward, and then to the westward, whence they would come to the great water, and sell them to pale people, who came there in great boats, and brought muskets, and powder, and tobacco, and blue cloth, and knives, &c. He said, also, that it was a great way, that it would take him three moons to get there, and that he should be gone 20 moons, before he could be back by land; but should be very rich.' Again, we saw (says Sidi Hamet) a great many of these people who had been down the river to see the great water;' and they said, the pale people lived in great boats, with guns as big as their bodies, that made a noise like thunder, and would kill all the people in a hundred negro boats.' These are all very strong corroboratives of the inference we have drawn from other authorities; and we think there can now be little doubt, that the river Niger empties into the Atlantic ocean.
The next question is,--whether the Congo or Zair of South Africa, be a mere continuation of it? From the facts disclosed by an African trader, of the name of Maxwell, who had examined the latter river, and made a chart of its lower extremity-Mungo Park was induced to embrace the affirmative. The Congo is ten miles wide at its mouth, and freshens the waters of the ocean for upwards of thirty miles. It swells considerably, too, some time after the Niger is in flood, and before any rains have fallen south of the equator:' All of which facts seem to furnish a pretty strong ground to conclude, that the two rivers are identical. The only cogent objection urged against such a conclusion, by the writer in the Encyclopædia_is, that the Niger does not correspond with the Nile, either in the magnitude of its floods, or in the time which they take to reach its embouchure. The rise of the Nile is generally about thirty feet; whereas that of the Niger is only about nine. Our author should have reflected, however, that there is certainly as much difference in the breadths of the two rivers, as there is in their respective floods; and that, if Mr. Maxwell's measurement be correct, a rise of nine feet in the Niger would be about equal to a rise of thirty in the Nile. As to the other part of the objection,
that the Congo does not begin to rise as soon after the equatorial rains as we should be led to expect, from the analogy of the Nile,--we have to observe, that very little dependence can be placed upon calculations of floodcurrent, where the data are no more definitely ascertained than those which relate to the Niger. No person has ever mea. sured its rapidity; and we cannot consent to have our author apply to its whole course, the ascertained rate at which it flows. near the extremity. We shall state his objection, however, and our readers, can place, of course, as much reliance on it as they please. It is, shortly this:-the tropical rains commence early in June; but, according to Mr. Maxwell's statement, the Congo does not begin to rise till the latter end of September; whereas the flood of the Nile is at its acme by the 17th of June; a difference of time which is conceived to be incredible, even though we consider that the former river is twice as long as the latter. * We turn now to the remainder of Sidi Hamet's very, interesting Narrative.
He and his brother Seid set out from Widnoon, late in the fall of 1806, with a caravan of eight hundred men, and three thousand camels, loaded with almost every sort of goods. Before they reached the Desert, they burnt a great quantity of charcoal to feed the camels with, when no other food could be found; and, after travelling twenty-six days, they came to a watering place : called Biblah. Here they rested seven days; and, in twenty more, reached another well, called Kiber Fibil. It was dry; and they were obliged to go towards the sea-coast six days
* We cannot but remark how nearly—according to Sidi Hamet's story the length of the Niger corresponds to that which has been given it by precedent calculations. Our readers will see above, that in the journey from Tombuctoo to Wassahna, the traveller took up, in all
, sixty-eight days; and that, by the information obtained at the latter city, the distance to the mouth of the river was eighty-four more. Fourteen days out of the sixtyeight he laid by; and, if we take the same proportion from the eighty-four, the distance from Wassahna would be about sixty-two. The common rate of journeying is about thirty miles a day; and of course, the distance from
Tombuctoo would be three thousand six hundred and sixty miles. By former computation the whole distance is four thousand; so that, if we add to our number three or four hundred—which, as near as we can ascertain, is not far from the distance between Tombuctoo and the source,-the two calculations will coincide surprisingly,'
more in order to find water. They could not give all the beasts a draught in less than six days; when they set off again; and, after travelling four moons, and losing three hundred camels, went down into the country of Soudan. Here they stopped one moon, on the bank of a little stream; fed plenteously on barley and Indian corn; and started eastward for Tombuctoo, on the borders of the Desert. Two moons brought them to its strong walls.' The camels. stopped in a deep valley;' while the men went unarmed near the city,' and traded with the negroes; ` who had gum, and gold rings, and gold powder, and great teeth, such as are sold at Swearah, and slaves, and fine turbans; a plenty of cows and asses, and a few sheep, and barley, corn, and rice.'
In the Widnoon caravan there were one hundred camels, loaded with iron and knives; two hundred, with salt; and all the rest with haicks, (cloaks), blue and white cloth, amber, tobacco, silk handkerchiefs, chilly weed, spices, and a great many other articles. After staying one moon and a half---during which time they lost twenty camels by the
thievish Arabs, (Sidi Hamet says this)---the caravan set out again for Widnoon; where all but thirty-one of the men arrived safely and in due season.
The second caravan in which Sidi embarked, consisted of four thousand camels and one thousand men; and it was determined to take the common straight route for Tombuctoo. They journeyed first six days around the bottom of the Atlas mountains;' stopped ten days; prepared their charcoal, and were obliged to travel fifteen days before they came to a valley or oasis. It was so large as to contain twenty wells; though there was water in only six. After resting seven days, they set out again; and in three days came to innumerable drifts of sand; not such coarse sand as you (Captain Riley) saw near the sea;' but' as fine as the dust on a path, or in a house.' They toiled in this sand six days; when a fierce south-east wind (called the wind of the Desert) began to blow it so thick into their faces, that they were obliged to unload the camels; pile up the merchandise, lie down, and take it. It ‘blew dreadfully;' and the shower of dust was so great that they were occasionally obliged to shift their positions in order to get a little air.*
* Thomas Legh, Esq. M. P. has lately published an interesting · Narrative of a Journey in Egypt and the Country beyond the Cataracts;' in which we find a similar account of this famous wind. While opposite Diospolis Parva (says he p. 43.) we experienced a gale of the Kamsin, which, though we were on the water, and consequentiy in a great measure protected from its violence, was still so formidable in its effects, as to dispose us to give full credit to the accounts of travellers, and indeed of entire caravans being overtaken and buried in the sand, by this destructive wind VOL. IX.