Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Arab peasantry, they had succeeded in procuring many remains of ancient art, some fine porphyritic columns, parts of frizes, and fragments of statues, which have since arrived at the British Museum. Some of these columns are represented as of large dimensions and of beautiful marble: it may be doubted, however, if Lebida contained any sculpture of much value. The zeal of the Vandal Christians, under Genseric, led them to destroy all pagan monuments within their reach, and what escaped them fell by the blind fury of the Arabs. Add to this, that Louis XIV. had the ransacking of Lebida, and carried away the choicest columns of granitic porphyry which could be found, and which now adorn the church of St. Germains in Paris.

The temper and disposition of the Bey, the encouraging frankness with which he enters on the subject of discoveries in the interior of Africa, and the sincerity of his intentions to fall in with the views of the English, are strongly evinced in a conversation which Captain Smith and our consul recently held with him and with some of his officers, which is so curious as well as important, that our readers, we think, will not be displeased with having it laid before them from the original minutes.

'Q. His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, by a magnanimous perseverance in the cause of humanity and justice, having bestowed peace on Europe, is now solicitous to extend his benevolent views to the natives of those regions lying to the southward of the dominions of your Highness, and the several kings, your allies; will your Highness therefore assist so laudable an object by affording your powerful protection?

A. I shall be happy to render every assistance to such an undertaking; I have already shewn that to two Englishmen who came here some years ago.

Q. Is your Highness certain they were Englishmen? A. They said they were, and that they came from Egypt by way of Fezzan.

'Q. Does your Highness, or any person in the Divan, recollect either of their names?

No answer was given to this question for some time; on which I asked if the name of one might not be Horneman, when Mourad Reis said he now recollected it was.

Q. How long is it since they were in Tripoli?

A. About fifteen or sixteen years.

Q. What became of them after they left Tripoli; and where were they bound to?

A. They returned to Fezzan with intent to penetrate southward to the Nile (Niger) and thence by the river to Tombuctoo, but one of them who had been ill of a fever, occasioned by drinking too much bad water after fatigue, died at Aucalas.

Q. Was that the same person mentioned to me last winter by the Bey of Fezzan?

Vol. xvm. No. xxxvi. A A A. The

A. The same; the Bey had charge to conduct them to Bournou.

Q. Does your Highness know what became of the other?

A. Me continued his journey, but fell ill at Houssor, in the dwelling of a Tripoline merchant established there, and resuming his traveU before he was perfectly recovered, relapsed, and died at Tombuctoo.

Q. Does your Highness know whether either of them left any papers, books or effects?

A. No; but I will direct an inquiry. Moors never destroy papers.

Q. Does y»ur Highness imagine it difficult for a party to reach the Nile (Niger) through the dominions of your friend the King ef Bournou?

A. Not in the least; the road to Bournou is as beaten as that to Bengazi.

Q. Will your Highness grant protection to a party wishing to proceed that way?

A. Any person wishing to go in that direction, I will send an embassy to Bournou to escort him thither, and from thence the King will protect him to the Nile. But I must first clothe him as a Turk.

Q. Will he be subject to much troublesome enquiry on that head?

A. No; but he must not say he is a Christian. People in the interior are very ignorant; I will clothe him myself in a particular way.

Q. But will your Highness guarantee perfect safety of such a person against all accidents, except sickness or unavoidable casualties?

A. I do guarantee.

Q. Will your Highness undertake to produce, in the event of disaster, the papers and effects of the deceased, with a particular note written by himself, commencing on the day he might be taken ill, stating his opinion, &c. of the cause, and continued daily, until he shall be rendered incapable of writing? This question is not to be considered by your Highness as a doubt of safe conduct, but it is absolutely necessary for the consolation of the friends of the defunct.

A. I do undertake to produce all such papers; but there ought not to be less than four persons, in case of misfortune, by sickness.

Q. Will your Highness give directions that a party shall not be obliged to proceed at the will of the escort, nor to travel in the heat of the sun, nor in the summer unless they like?

A. The strangers shall be masters. From September to May is the time I recommend for an Englishman, but travellers have a fault of generally hurrying a caravan.

Q. Will you also answer for the assistance and guarantee of the King of Bournou?

A. Most certainly. .

Q. Can your Highness afford protection to a party going to the southwestward?

A. Nearly the same as through Bournou.

Q. Are there many boats passing and re-passing that part of the Nile (Niger) south of Bournou, and what is their object?

A. They are numerous, and carry effects and passengers to the several towns on the banks of the river.

Q. What

Q. What are the names of the towns in that direction, your Highness has the greatest commerce with?

A. In Wangarra, Cuthorra, Cashna, Zangarra, Gooba, Bombarra, I loussa and Tombuctoo, there are always some Tripoline merchants.

Q. Next to Bournou, what place has your Highness most direct communication with?

A. Souat, which is the principal station for caravans that proceed to Tombuctoo, by way of Gadam.

Q. What is the form of government at Souat? A. Republican, with a sort of head chief or prince, the same as at Houssa and Tombuctoo.

Q. In what manner do the subjects of your Highness obtain leave to pass those countries at a great distance from your frontier?

A. The travelling merchants insure themselves by giving presents, trifling ones, to the head of the country they arrive at, who affords them safe conduct to the next.

Q. How is the usual trade between Tripoli and Tombuctoo conducted? A. It is mostly carried on by Fezzan and Gadam merchants. Q. What number of camels does the Tombuctoo caravan usually consist of?

A. Not so many as formerly; not above a hundred and fifty. The caravan to Morocco is the largest, as they have not so far to go; it is generally composed of ihree or four thousand camels.

Q. When does the Fezzan caravan proceed to Tombuctoo? A. The direct road is rather by Gadam, as the nearer one. They set out commonly in March, travel greatly by night, and return towards November, where there is a very extensive fair held at Gadam, resorted to by immense numbers.

Q. What are the principal articles of traffic?

A. Slaves, gold, gum, hides, dates, barracans, nitre, cotton cloth, and great quantities of a fruit resembling coffee.

Q. What is the greatest length of time the caravan is without the means of replenishing their water? A. Eight days.

'Such,' Captain Smith writes,' is the substance of the principal questions I asked of the Bashaw, whose patience and good nature during the long conference were eminently conspicuous, particularly as the discussion of several of them required time and reference.

'I trust such conduct will be duly appreciated, when it is considered that this prince, by the communications thus made, and the free access to his several towns, already given to me, has fully proved himself above the mean intolerance that actuates the generality of Turks; and more especially as he is acting thus in defiance of the memorable prophecy, stating that all these countries are to be restored to the Christians, and which is so universally believed, that the gates of the several towns and fortresses are closed every Friday from 11 A. M. till 1 P. M., the day and hour predicted for the event; to this, in a great measure, may be ascribed the jealous anxiety with which the Turks watch our desire of exploring these countries.'

A A 2 The

The Bashaw, pursuant to his promise, directed an immediate inquiry to be made respecting the effects of the late Mr.Homeman; and it appears that his books, papers, several sealed letters, instruments and clothes, were sent to Tripoli by the Bey of Fezzan, and were all to be delivered to Mr. M'Donnagh, (formerly surgeon to the consulate,) by an intriguing man at the Bashaw's court, one Signor Naudi, a notoriously bad character. The consul-general is now actively employed in investigating the whole transaction.

Captain Smith had, on a journey to Ghirza, learned that Homeman died at Aucalas; but from this conversation it would appear that a second European was with him. It could not be his Gervtan servant, as intelligence of his death had reached England beore it was known that Horneman had set out from Fezzan; thus It remains doubtful whether Horneman may not have died in Tombuctoo. Such a circumstance would give great additional interest to his papers, which, if still in existence, we have every reason to hope, from the zeal and intelligence of Consul Warrington, assisted by the powerful aid of the Bashaw, may yet be forthcoming.

Tripoli has always been considered as the most eligible point to commence the prosecution of discoveries in the interior of northern Africa; and, in consequence of the friendly disposition of the present bashaw, and his readiness to meet the views of the British government, it has been determined to appoint a person of talent and enterprize to the official situation of vice-consul at Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan, which is-a dependency of Tripoli, aud governed by a bey, who happens to be a son of the bashaw, and, what is not very usual, on the most friendly terms with his father. From Fezzan, it is understood, there is a constant communication with Kashna, Bornou, and Tombuctoo, the kings of which artf all on good terms with the bashaw of Tripoli. From a MS. journal, found in a convent at Tripoli belonging to the Propaganda Fide, and recording many interesting details concerning the missions to Bornou about the beginning of the last century, it appears that the road thither had once been perfectly open and safe even for Christians;—the passes between Fezzan and Bornou, however, being at that time occupied by robbers, the fathers took the route to Cassina, where, it would seem, they all perished from the badness of the water.*

Under

* The following is a close translation of an extract from this curious manuscript:— '1710, July JOth.—The before-mentioned Rev. Carlo Maria, of Genoa, prefect of Bornou, and Father Serafino, his companion, departed from Fezzan, leaving in Tripoli Father Anastasio, who, being unable, from infirmity, to prosecute the mission to Bornou, returned to Christendom, having embarked July 13th.

'1711.—In the month of August Father Carlo, prefect of the mission to Bornou, not being able to undertake his journey in that direction, the passe* being closed ill

con

Under the present favourable auspices for exploring Africa, the gentleman selected for this interesting enterprize is Mr. Ritchie, late private secretary to Sir Charles Stuart, ambassador at Paris. He is a young man, and is said to possess excellent abilities; full of zeal for scientific research; and well acquainted with the use of mathematical instruments; he is familiar with various branches of natural history, and possesses besides, the advantage of having been brought up to surgery. Captain Marryat of the navy has, we understand, volunteered his services to accompany him, and, should they be so fortunate as to embark on the Niger, lie will, no doubt, be of most essential service in exploring that mysterious stream.

The French, who are by no-means backward in encouraging the prosecution of discoveries in science, and who, properlv enough, consider Africa as a sort of common theatre on which all nations have a right to exercise their talents, have got the start of us on the present occasion. The moment it was understood in Paris that Mr. Ritchie had been appointed to this mission, it was officially announced to Sir Charles Stuart, by the minister of marine, that it

consequence of the multitude of robbers and other impediments, set oiF from Fezzan accompanied by Father Sevarino di Salesia, They took their way together towards the kingdom of Agadez. Having at length arrived there, they found that the objects of the Propaganda could not be prosecuted there; and, having received intelligence that in the kingdom of Cassina they would have an opportunity of exercising their spiritual ofHce, particularly in somc village or other of that kingdom, but not in the capital, they set off in the name of the Lord, leaving the kingdom of Agadez. After a journey of a month with the caravan through the desert, they arrived at the capital of the kingdom of Cassina. Since, however, the secrets of (iod are inscrutable, it so "happened that, through the malignity of the water there, the above-mentioned Father Prefect grew sick, being attacked with the swelling of the whole body, and in eight clays gave up his spirit to God. On hearing this, the king of that kingdom, then dwelling at Cassina, had him stript of every thing that he possessed. Father Sevarino di Silesia, his companion, seeing every thing thus wrongfully taken away, presented himself before the king, and told him that those clothes were his property, that which his deceased companion had, being not his own private property, but in common ; he therefore begged him to make restitution; hereupon the king answered, ' If you desire me to do this, turn Mahommedan as I am,' The missionary declined this proposal; upon -which the king rejoined, f Begone then, ami for thy deeds thou shalt die like thy companion.' In fact, within two or three days, he fell sick of the same infirmity as the prefect, and in the course of eleven days, he also gave up his spirit to his Creator.

'The whole of this account we received from a Moorish merchant, a native of Tripoli in liarbary, named Hadjie Milleit; he gave it us with an air of compassion, having been the faithful companion of these fathers from Tripoli to Fezzan, and from Fezzan to Agadez. The tidings of their death, with all its circumstances, he received from a merchant who accompanied these fathers from the kingdom of Agadez to the kingdom of Cassina, and who, out of ten that set out on that journey, was the only one that did not perisb by this sickness, he having escaped by the will of God, that he might -bear the tidings of the unhappy end of these religious. He further informed us, that in the said kingdom of Cassina the sickness has always existed, in consequence of the badness of those waters—those who are not accustomed to them dying infallibly upon drinking thein; those therefore who wish to trade there negociate with the caravan of Agadez, and go on no farther. He also stated that all foreigners dying in Cassina are not iuterred, not even the richest merchants, but are carried out into the country and left a prey to the wild beasts.'

A A 3 was

« AnteriorContinuar »