« ZurückWeiter »
toryism was, in the day of it, excellent sport ; that is, for those who did not pay the piper. But it has gone by; the jest has evaporated. An awful seriousness has come on. We are getting too earnest for the old-fashioned 'mummery ;' and Europe, if we mistake not, will before long look over to our American gravity, as a mighty cheerful, encouraging, desirable frame of mind.
ART. II.- Caillie's Travels in Africa.
Journal d'un Voyage à Temboctou et à Jenné dans l'Afrique Centrale, pendant les années, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828: Par RENE CAILLIE. Paris, 1830.
This work has not been republished among us; and that circumstance, together with the air of imposition which some foreign critical authorities have elaborately endeavored to throw upon it, is sufficient to explain the comparatively little attention which it has hitherto excited in this country. Its unpopularity, or rather its want of notoriety, appears to us quite undeserved. We consider it not only the production of an extraordinary man in his way,-a traveller more illiterate and simple, indeed, than even Richard Lander, but yet of an energy and perseverance unsurpassed in modern times,—but also as the bona fide relation of the only Christian who, for centuries, has penetrated the African Continent as far as Timbuctoo, and lived and returned to make an intelligible and credible report of his visit.'
As for the narrative of our most worthy countryman Rose, alias Adams,'— who, excepting the author of the three volumes before us, and the Englishman, Laing, who reached Timbuctoo in 1826, is the only person recently allowed the credit of having seen that celebrated place,—we may properly take the present occasion to observe that a doubt no longer exists in any quarter respecting the real character of his fabrication. More than fifteen years since, an opinion was expressed to that effect by this Journal,* and the numerous considerations which led to it at the same time distinctly declared. Our protest might then be considered somewhat hazardous.
* Volume V. No. XIII. Art. 9.
· The story,' as the learned Editor of the first London edition calls it, ' had come to the knowledge of the Right Honorable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Major General Sir Willoughby Gordon, the Right Honorable Sir Joseph Banks, other members of the government,' &c.; and these distinguished savans, after a patient investigation, hesitated not to accredit the traveller to the full extent of his demands. Subsequently, the reputation of the narrative was confirmed by the first scientific periodical authorities of England, and it is but two years, indeed, since the Quarterly, uniformly the most watchful guardian of the fame of this motley concoction, has thought proper to speak of it in the terms of contempt which it clearly deserves. But of this hereafter ;-let us meanwhile know something of the work before us, and something of its author.
René Caillié is by four years the senior of Richard Lander, being now thirty-two years of age. His native place was Mauzé, in the department of the Deux-Sèvres. Like his English contemporary, his parents were in humble circumstances, and he lost them both during infancy. He was taught writing and reading at a charity school, and then put to learn a trade. With this he admits he was soon disgusted, thanks to the reading of travels, which occupied all his spare moments.' Robinson Crusoe, which has turned so many young heads before René's, completed the passion for adventure already kindling in his bosom. He borrowed geographies and charts, and at length cast his eyes over a map of Africa. He saw the word unknown upon it in some places. and vast deserts marked out in others. From this moment, he thought of nothing else. His games and sports were forgotten, and he passed all his Sundays, and his nights, in poring over books of travels, and panting for some discovery and glory of his own. At length he persuaded his uncle to permit him to go to sea. He left Mauzé with a leaner purse than that of the traveller of Santillaña himself, made his way to Rochefort, and went on board La Loire, tender to the unfortunate Méduse. Fortunately for Caillie, the two vessels did not continue their voyage together, and he reached the French settlements at Cape Verd. În this vicinity he passed some months, and then went to St. Louis, but hearing there of Major Gray's proposed expedition, travelled back toward the Gambia. He started on foot, in company with two stout guides whom he could not keep up with without running,-a large part of the way over burning
VOL. XXXVI. NO. 78.
saņds; and the fatigue, famine and thirst which he endured before reaching Goree, proved sufficient, with the advice of some friends at that place, to dissuade him from his project of joining Major Gray. He now took passage to Guadaloupe, but still was restless. He read Mungo Park's Travels, returned to France, and before the end of 1818 found himself again at St. Louis. Here he met one of Gray's men, who had left the expedition to procure certain goods for its use. He offered him his services, joined his caravan, left the coast for the interior in February, 1819, and soon entered the country of the Jaloffs and the pastoral Foulahs.
At one of the beautiful villages of the latter, which Caillié calls a paradise, the caravan having encamped at some distance on the plains, a Foulah came out and importuned our traveller for a grigri or charm. Caillié wrote one, and received a drink of milk for his fee. But, he adds,~I was nevertheless his dupe; for he had scarcely left me, when I ascertained that he had robbed me of a black silk cravat."
The troubles which Major Gray met with at the hands of the Sheik of Bondou were such as to occasion the remark of Caillié, that in Africa it is easier to take a place by thirst than by famine. The expedition mustered over sixty men, and yet were completely in the power of the natives. In FoutaToro, water was sold them at more than a dollar a bottle,-in one instance at ten francs. When, some time after this, Mr.. Gray was detained a prisoner by a party of Foulahs, M. Partarrieu, Caillie's patron, took command of the caravan. At Adjar, between one and two days' journey from Bakel, that gentleman finding himself about to be stopped by the villagechief, hit upon the following expedient. He gave the man to. understand, with an air of mysterious importance, that not have ing animals enough to carry all his baggage, he wished to leave a valuable part of it in his care. The proposal being eagerly accepted, the Frenchman had a number of his travelling boxes filled with stones, carefully fastened, and deposited: with the chief for safe keeping. He then raised his tents, and marched off, in the darkness of night, leaving his fires burning, and having already guarded against the suspicion which might arise from the cries of the camels at starting, by drilling them beforehand to make the same noise at various hours of day and night. The description of the flight which ensued, until the party arrived at the banks of the Senegal, is
one of the most picturesque to be met with even in the African books of travels. They had scarcely crossed it, when crowds of their Adjar friends were seen on the other shore, armed to the teeth, and furious with the deception practised upon the chief; but they dared not enter the stream. At Bakel, Caillié was taken ill with the fever of the season, and obliged to descend the river to St. Louis, whence he returned once more to France.
Still undiscouraged, in 1824 he went back again to the Senegal. He applied to the Governor of the French colony there, for permission to explore the interior under French auspices; but that gentleman regarded the project as visionary, and would go no farther than to furnish him with goods to enable him to pass some time among the Bracknas, a native Mahometan tribe, for the purpose of learning Arabic in the guise of a Moslem. Both the knowledge and the stratagem proved of critical service to him on subsequent occasions; and even during his stay with the Bracknas, several amusing instances occurred to illustrate the benefit of his new religion. At one time, while he was still a little suspected of Christianity, he was near starving. He cried out lustily for something to eat, and a neighbor, who heard him, ran and informed the king. The latter had him introduced to his presence for the second time, and having listened to the recitation of a prayer or two, graciously ordered one of his slaves to milk a cow for the poor pilgrim on the spot. The following singular account is given of the females of this region :
‘Beauty among the female Moors consists in extreme embonpoint: the young girls are forced to drink milk to excess : they who are somewhat grown up voluntarily drink an enormous quantity of it, but the children are compelled to do so by their parents, and frequently by a slave, whose duty is to make them swallow their allowance. This slave avails herself of the brief authority allowed her over these weak creatures to revenge herself with a sort of cruelty for the tyranny of her masters. I have seen these unhappy little girls cry, roll themselves on the ground, even eject from their stomachs the milk they had just taken; neither their cries nor their sufferings stopped the cruel slave, who beat them, pinched them till the blood came, and tormented them in a thousand ways to oblige them to swallow the quantity of milk she thought proper to give them. If their diet were more substantial, such a system might have the most injurious effects, but far from impairing the health of the children, they become sensibly stronger and fatter. At the age of twelve years they are of an enormous bulk, but at twenty or twenty-two they lose much of their embonpoint, and I did not see one woman of that age remarkably corpulent. The women of the greatest size are considered the most beautiful. The Moors are attached neither by personal nor mental charms; on the contrary, what we esteem a capital defect is regarded by them in an opposite light: they like their women to have the two incisor teeth of their upper jaw projecting beyond the mouth; hence intriguing mothers employ all possible means to force the teeth of their daughters to take this direction.'—Vol. I. p. 100.
But Caillié could not content himself to stay long among these people; and his applications tohis countrymen for means to enable him to travel to Timbuctoo still failing of success, he visited the English colony at Sierra Leone. An appointment worth some fifty francs a month, given him by Governor Campbell, was sufficient at the end of a year or two, to procure him the stores most indispensable to his purpose ; and so, having made the acquaintance of some Mandingo and Saracolet travelling merchants, he at length left the colony for the Rio Nuñez on the 22d of March, 1827. On the 19th of the next month, he left Kakondy for the interior.' At Courouassa, a village of no great size, he first came up with and crossed the Niger, slowly flowing east-north-east for some miles, and then east, with a breadth of about a quarter of a mile, and a depth of eight or nine feet.
At Time, where the first of our traveller's volumes leaves him, he was detained several months by an attack of the scurvy,-protected by his disguise, but rather annoyed and ridiculed on the score of his ignorance of customs and the awkwardness of his imitations. He left that place on the 9th of January, 1828, and on the 10th of March arrived at Jenné,* a large commercial city on the banks of the Niger, which he here found running to the north-east. The circumference of Jenné is said to be two and a half miles; the walls, badly built of earth, ten feet high and fifteen inches thick ; the population eight or ten thousand; the houses mostly of one story, made of sun-dried bricks, with terraced roofs, and court-yards adjoining. English
* The JINNIE of Mr. Jackson, and apparently the GAINEA of Leo. Our author adopts the orthography of Park.