« AnteriorContinua »
On their arrival at Tombuctoo, the Moors were thrown into prison, but Adams and his companion were taken to the king's house, and viewed as curiosities; so much so, that “ the queen and her female attendants used to sit and look “ at them for hours together."-p. 21.
We shall now extract what appears most interesting in the account of Tombuctoo-beginning with a description of the king and queen.
“ The king and queen, the former of whom was named Woollo, the latter Fatima, were very old grey-headed people. The queen was extremely fat. Her dress was of blue nankeen, edged with gold lace round the bosom and on the shoulder, and baving a belt or stripe of the same material half way down the dress, which came only a few inches below the knees. The dress of the other females of Tombuctoo, though less ornamented than that of the queen, was in the same short fashion; so that as they wore no close under-garments, they might, when sitting on the ground, as far as decency was concerned, as well have had no covering at all. The queen's head-dress consisted of a blue bankeen turban : but this was worn only upon occasions of ceremony; or when she walked out. Besides the turban, she had her hair stuck full of bone ornaments of a square shape, about the size of dice, extremely white; she had large gold hoop ear-rings, and many necklaces, some of them of gold, the others made of beads of various colours. She wore no shoes, and, in consequence, her feet appeared to be as hard and dry“ as the hoofs of an ass.
“ Besides the blue nankeen dress just described, the queen sometimes wore an under-dress of white muslin; at other times a red one.
This colour was produced by the juice of a red root, which grows in the neighbourhood, about a foot and a half long. Adams never saw any silks worn by the queen or any other inhabitant of Tombuctoo; for, although they have some silks brought by the Moors, they appeared to be used entirely for purposes
of external trade." « The dress of the king was a blue nankeen frock decorated with gold, having gold epaulettes, and a broad wrist-band of the same metal. He sonietimes wore a turban; but often went bare-headed. When he walked through the town, he was generally a little in advance of his party. His subjects saluted him by inclinations of the head and body, or by touching his head with their hands, and then kissing their hands : when he received his subjects in his palace, it was his custom to sit on the ground, and their mode of saluting him on such occasions was by kissing his head.” p. 21-23.
“ Tombuctoo is situated on a level plain, having a river about two hundred yards from the town, on the south-east side, named La Mar Zarah. The town appeared to Adams to cover as much ground as Lisbon. He is unable to give any idea of the number of its inhabitants; but as the houses are not built in streets, or with any regularity, its population, compared with that of European towns, is by no means in proportion to its size. It has no walls, nor any thing resembling fortification. The houses are square, built of sticks, clay, and grass, with flat roofs of the saune materials. The rooms are all on the ground, and are without any articles of furniture, except earthen jars, wooden bowls, and mats made of grass, upon which the people sleep. He did not observe any bouses, or any other buildings constructed of stone."-p.24, 25.
“ The animals are elephants, cows, goats, (no horses,) asses, camels, dromedaries, dogs, rabbits, antelopes, and an animal called heirie of the shape of a camel, but much smaller. These latter are only used by the negroes for riding, as they are stubborn, and unfit to carry other burdens : they are excessively fleet, and will travel for days together at the rate of fifty miles a-day. The Moors were very desirous of purchasing these animals, but the negroes refused to sell them.”—p. 27, 28.
Adams says that he was present at an elephant-hunt at Tombuctoo; and the following is his account of it.
“ The negro being mounted on a heirie, went close to him, riding at speed past bis head: as he passed him, he discharged an arrow, which struck the elephant near the shoulder, which instantly started, and went in pursuit of the man, striking his trunk against the ground with violence, and making a most tremendous roaring, which might have been heard three miles off.' Owing to the fleetness of the beirie, which ran the faster from fear, the elephant was soon left at a distance; and three days afterwards was found lying on the ground in a dying state, about a mile from the place where it was shot. According to the best of Adams's recollection, it was at least twenty feet high; and though of such an immense size, thé natives said it was a young one. The legs were as thick as Adams's body. The first operation of the negroes was to take out the four tusks, the two largest of which were about five feet long."-p. 28, 29.
Concerning the size of the animal, and his four tusks, the editor gives the following note.
" It must be admitted that Adams has attributed dimensions to his elephant, which considerably surpass the limits of any previous authorities respecting this most bulky' of animals: but without attempting to maintain the possibility of his accuracy, by quoting the authorities of Buffon and others, who have represented the breed of elephants in the interior and eastern parts of Africa, as greatly exceeding in size those of the western coast, and even as being larger than the elephants of the East-Indies; all that we shall here contend for is, the probability that Adams in this instance relates no more than he honestly believes he saw. He did not approach the animal nearer than three quarters of a mile whilst it was alive; and it is not surprising that the sight for the first time of so huge a body, when lying dead on the ground, should impress him with an exaggerated idea of its dimensions.
" However, we will not deny that the strange novelty of this stupendous creature, seems to have disturbed Adams's usual accuracy of observation ; we allude to his subsequent mistake about the animal's four tusks.
“ It would be dealing rather unreasonably with a rude sailor, cast upon the wilds of Africa, to expect that he should in that situation, whilst every thing was strange and new around him, minutely observe, or could at á long interval afterwards, correctly describe, the details of plants or animals which he had then an opportunity of seeing; and it would be unjust, indeed, to make his accuracy on these points the standard of his veracity: With respect to the teeth, it must not be'forgotten, that he was questioned about them apparently for the first time, more than four years after he saw the animal. If his observations of it might be expected to be vague and indistinct even at first, it would not be very extraordinary that his
recollection of it, after so long an interval, should be far from accurate; and we cannot feel much surprise, that, though he remembered that the animal had teeth, he should not be very well able to recollect whether it bad two or four."-p. 106, 8.
He also saw another animal, the description of which is well worthy of being read.
“ Besides these, there is in the vicinity of Tombuctoo a most extraordinary animal, named courcvo, somewhat resembling a very large dog, but having an opening or hollow on its back, like a pocket, in which it carries its prey. It has short pointed ears and a short tail. Its skin is of an uniform reddish brown on its back, like a fox, but its belly is of a light grey colour. It will ascend trees with great agility, and gather cocoa-nuis, which Adams supposes to be part of its food. But it also devours goats, and even young children, and the negroes were greatly afraid of it. Ita cry is like that
an owl,"--p. 30. On this subject, also, the editor has a nole, “ It would be unfair to Adams not to explain, that when questioned as to his personal knowledge of the courcoo, it appeared that he had never seen the animal nearer than at thirty or forty yards distance. It was fronz the negroes he learnt that it had on its back a hollow place like a pouch, which they call “coo;" in which it pockets its prey; and having once seen the creature carrying a branch of cocoa-nut with its fruit, which, as the courcoo ran swiftly away, seemed to lie on its back, Adams concluded of course that the pocket must be there; and further, that the animal fed on cocoa-nuts, as well as goats and children, In many respects, Adams's description of the animal (about which the narrative shews that he was closely questioned) answers to the lynx."-—p. 109.
Mr. Dupuis says, " he never before heard of this extraordinary animal, either from Adams or any one else."
After all, this courcoo of Adams's (if bis description of it be correct) is scarcely more extraordinary than the opossum, which, it is well known, has a sort of bag or pouch, in which it carries its young.
" Their only plıysicians are old women, who cure diseases and wounds by the application of simples. Adams had a wen on the back of his right hand, the size of a large egg, which one of the women cured, in about a month, by rubbing it, and applying a plaister of herbs. They cure the tooth-ache, by the application of a liquid prepared from roots; which frequently causes not only the defective tooth to fall out, but one or two others, He never saw any of the negroes blind, but such as were very old; of these, judging from their appearance, he thinks he has seen some upwards of one hundred years of age. Children are obliged to support their parents in their old age; but when old people are childless, there is a house for their reception, in which they live four or five in a room, at the cost of the king.”—pp. 36, 37.
“ About once a month, a party of a hundred, or more armed men marched out to procure slaves. These armed parties were all on foot, ex
cept the officers: they were usually absent from one week to a month, and at times brought in considerable numbers. The slaves were generally a different race of people from those of Tombuctoo, and differently clothed; their dress being for the most part of coarse white linen or cotton. He once saw amongst them wonjan who had her teeth filed round, he supposes by way of ornament; and, as they were very long, they resembled crow-quills.' The greatest number of slaves that he recollects to have seen brought in at one time, were about twenty, and these, he was informed, were from the place called Bambarra, lying to the southward and westward of Tombuctoo; which he understood to be the country whither the aforesaid parties generally went out in quest of them."-p. 39.
“ Adams never saw any individual put to death at Tombuctoo; the punishment for beavy offences being, as has just been stated, slavery; for slighter miscemeanours the offenders are punished with beating with a stick : but in no case is this punishinent very severe, seldom exceeding two dozen blows, with a stick of the thickness of a small walking-cane.”—p.40.
“ Neither Adams nor the Portuguese boy were ever subjected to any restraint whilst they remained at Tombuctoo. They were allowed as much food and as often as they pleased, and were never required to work. In short, they never experienced any act of incivility or unkindness from any of the negroes, except when they were taken prisoners in company with the Moors engaged in stealing them. Adams could not hear that any white man but themselves had ever been seen in the place; and he believes, as well from what he was told by the Moors as from the uncommon curiosity which he excited, (though himself a very dark man, with short curly black hair,) that they never had seen one before.
“There was no fall of rain during his residence at Tombuctoo, except a few drops just before his departure, and he understood from the
negroes that they had usually little or none, except during the three months of winter, which is the only season when the desert can be crossed, on account of the heat. In some years, Adams was informed, when the season bad been unusually dry, there was great distress at Tombuctoo for want of provisions: bút no such want was felt whilst he was there.
“ He never proceeded to the southward of Tombuctoo, further than about two miles from the town, to the mountains before spoken of; and never saw the river Joliba; but he had heard it inentioned; and was told at Tudenny, that it lay between that place and Bambarra."--pp. 42, 43.
But Mr. Dupuis imagines that, as the negroes had no idea of a Christian being a slave, their curiosity must have been excited more on account of Adams's being a Christian, than of his colour; for he says that many of the Moors who visit Tombuctoo, are of a complexion quite as light as his.
Having made our readers acquainted with what appears most worthy of notice in the account of Tombuctoo, we shall follow Adams in his journey home; during which some of his sufferings appear almost incredible.
After they had been at Tombuctoo six months, a party of trading Moors arrived, and ransomed the whole party, viz. fourteen Moorish prisoners, two white men, and one slave. lọ two days they quitted Tombuctoo-their whole stock of No.XV.-VOL.III.--Aug. Rev.
provisions consisting of a small quantity of Guinea corn. They proceeded in an easterly direction, along the border of the river, wbich they saw for the last time on the tenth day. Here they loaded the camels with water; and, striking off towards the north, arrived in thirteen days at Taudeny, with in one day's journey of the desert.
The party remained at Taudeny a fortnight, to refresh themselves, and then re-commenced their journey. They travelled twenty miles the first day, and on the next entered the desert. It took them twenty-nine days to cross it ; dur. ing which time they did not meet a human being. “ The whole way was a sandy plain, like a sea, without either tree, shrub, or grass. On the way their ass died; and as they were very short of provisions, tbey were obliged to eat it. They were also disappointed of finding water where they expected it would be found, and were obliged to mix what they bad left with the camels' urine, of which only half a pint a-day was allowed to each man. Three of the Moors, who had been prisoners, died on the road; and two others, who were left on the sand, were not beard of again.
Having arrived at Woled D'Leim, Adams and his companion were employed in taking care of the goats and sheep, having no other food allowed them but barley-flour and camels' and goats' milk. They frequently urged their master to take them to Suerra, which he promised to do: but, at the end of ten or eleven months, Adams seeing no chance of his doing so, resolved to run away, and his master's wife having one day sent him with a camel to procure water from a well at some distance, he passed the well, and pushed on towards the north. Next morning he arrived within sight of a village, consisting of forty or fifty tents ; but on looking back, he saw two men on camels advancing towards him. However he went on, and got into the village ; but was soon obliged to face the two men whom he had seen, one of whom was his master. The latter immediately claimed him; but Adams declared that he would not go back, and at the same time informed the governor of the village that his master had broken his promises to him. The governor decided in favour of Adams, and obliged his master to give him ap for a bushel of dates and a camel.
The place where Adams now was, was called El Kabla; and he was sent to tend his new master's camels. Here he remained about six months; when, being discovered one night in the tent of one of his master's wives, his master