Imatges de pÓgina

man, and whatever he may think or say of us, we do pity him most sincerely. He began life, we doubt not, with pure and lofty dreams; he must now feel that he has taken the wrong course, that he can never realize them-he has put on himself his own trammels, he knows that he has done so, they gall him, but he can never break them. Henceforth all will be wormwood and bitterness to him he may write a few more stinging and a few more brilliant periods, he may slander a few more eminent characters, he may go on to deride venerable and holy institutions, he may stir up more discontent and sedition, but he will have no peace of mind within, he will do none of the good he once hoped to do, nor yet have the bitter satisfaction of doing all the evil he now desires; he will live and die unhonoured in his own generation, and, for his own sake it is to be hoped, moulder unknown in those which are to follow.

ART. IV. Narrative of an Expedition to explore the River Zaire, usually called the Congo, in South Africa, in 1816, under the Direction of Captain J. H. Tuckey, K. N.;-to which are added the Journal of Professor Smith, some General Observations on the Country and its Inhabitants; and an Appendix, containing the Natural History of that Part of the Kingdom of Congo through which the Zaire flows. Published by permission of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. 4to. London. 1818.

PERHAPS it is not too much to say that, with the single exception of the expedition now on its way for exploring the polar regions, no enterprize, since the voyages of Cook, excited a greater share of public interest than that of Captain Tuckey to explore the river Congo, and, by tracing it to the northward, to attempt the solution of that great geographical problem-the termination of the Niger-which, as Park has emphatically stated in his Memoir to Lord Camden, may be considered, in a commercial point of view, as second only to the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope; and, in a geographical point of view, as certainly the greatest discovery that remains to be made in this world.' The occurrences and results of this ill-fated attempt are now before the public; and the volume which contains them must be considered as an important and valuable addition to the records of African discovery. As this subject has occupied a distinguished place in our pages, we take this early opportunity to resume it, in tracing the history of this unfortunate voyage; after which we shall take a brief prospective view, favourable, as we think, to the hope of better success in the prosecution of future discoveries.


The motives which gave birth to the expedition for exploring the Zaire, the preparations for carrying it into execution, the selection of the officers, and the instructions given to Captain Tuckey, and the scientific gentlemen who accompanied him, are detailed at considerable length in a very interesting Introduction by the Editor,' who is stated in the publisher's advertisement, though not in the title-page, to be Mr. Barrow, Secretary of the Admiralty. It contains also a few brief Sketches, which the editor has been able to collect, of the professional and literary history of those valuable men, who may be said to have fallen the victims of a too ardent zeal in the pursuit of science, which, how much soever we may lament, leaves nothing for us to censure.' Of those unfortunate and enterprizing men we shall have to speak hereafter.

The voyage, as we are told, was planned with the view of solving, or of being instrumental in solving, a great geographical problem, in which all Europe had for some time manifested no common degree of interest. The immediate and primary object therefore was to determine, by tracing the Zaire upwards, whether the impression, which had been so strongly rooted in Park's mind, of this river being identical with the Niger, was founded in fact;should it turn out otherwise, the examination of this great stream would, at any rate, it was thought, furnish the means of procuring more correct, as well as more extensive, information respecting an important part of that ill-fated country, whose unhappy natives, without laws to restrain or governments to protect them, have too long been the prey of a senseless domestic superstition, and the victims of a foreign infamous and rapacious commerce.'

[ocr errors]

The arguments in favour of the identity of the Niger and the Zaire, an hypothesis first suggested by Mr. Maxwell, and strenuously supported by Park to the moment of his departure from Sansanding, we have already stated in our Review of Park's Journal of a Mission into the Interior of Africa';* in which we also endeavoured to combat the objections urged by his biographer against the hypothesis of their identity. As the same ground nearly is taken up in the Introduction, it will only be necessary for us, in this place, to refer our readers to the Article just mentioned. We shall see presently how far the hypothesis has been corroborated by the present expedition.

In making the necessary preparations, it was suggested by Sir Joseph Banks, that á steam-engine might be found useful to impel the vessel against the rapid current of the river, when the wind should fail or prove foul. It was known that, on the banks of the

No. XXV. Art. VI.


lower parts of the Zaire, extensive forests of mangrove existed, and that this wood possessed the peculiar quality of burning in a green state better than when dry; but it was not known to what extent upwards these forests might reach; though it was reasonable to conclude, that, in an equinoxial climate, where water was to be found, wood was not likely to be wanting. At the same time,' observes the editor, it could not escape notice that the labour of felling and preparing fuel for the boiler of a steam-engine, to the amount of about three tons a day, in such a climate, might be fully as fatiguing, and in all probability more fatal, to the crew, than the occasional operation of rowing.' As an auxiliary, however, there could be no objection; but a difficulty seems to have arisen as to the particular construction of a vessel that should, at one and the same time, be adapted to the flats and shallows of a river navigation, and to proceed across the Atlantic. Many naval men were of opinion, that a vessel of this description could not with safety be navigated across the Bay of Biscay, and, both before and after she was built, sinister bodings were conceived and uttered.* Mr. Sep


When it is recollected that Captain Bligh, with seventeen persons besides himself, uavigated in his launch twelve hundred leagues--and Captain Inglefield, with eleven others in a leaky pinnace, having one of the gunwales staved, two hundred and fitty leagues in the middle of the Western Ocean, without compass, quadrant, or sail, safety may be said to depend less on the vehicle than on good management. Of all the feats of navigation on record, however, that of Diogo Botelho Perreira, in the early period of 1536-7, stands pre-eminent; it is extracted from the voluminous Decades of Diogo de Couto, whose work, though abounding with much curious matter, like those of most of the old Portugueze writers, has not been fortunate enough to obtain an English translation. We are indebted to a friend for pointing it out to us, and we conceive it will be read with interest.

In the time of the vice-royalty of Don Francisco de Almeyda there was a young gentleman in India of the name of Diogo Botelho Perreira, son of the commander of Cochin, who educated him with great care, so that he soon became skilled in the art of navigation, and an adept in the construction of marine charts. As he grew up, he felt anxious to visit Portugal, where, on his arrival, he was well received at court, and the king took pleasure in conversing with him on those subjects which had been the particular objects of his studies. Confident of his own talents, and presuming on the favour with which the king always treated him, he ventured one day to request his majesty to ap point him commander of the fortress of Chaul. The king smiled at his request, and replied, that "the command of fortresses was not for pilots." Botelho was piqued at this answer, and, on returning into the anti-chamber, was met by Don Antonia Noronha,, second son of the Marquis of Villa Real, who asked him if his suit had been granted: he answered," Sir, I will apply where my suit will not be neglected." When this answer came to the ears of the king, he immediately ordered Botelho to be confined in the castle of Lisbon, lest he should follow the example of Megalhaens, and go over to Spain. There he remained a prisoner until the admiral viceroy, Don Vasco da Gama, solicited his release, and was permitted to take him to India; but on the express condition that he should not return to Portugal, except by special permission. Under these unpleasant circumstances this gentleman proceeded to India, anxious for an opportunity of distinguishing himself, that he might be permitted again to visit Portugal.

It happened about this time that the Sultan Badar, sovereign of Cambaya, gave the governor, Nuno da Cunha, permission to erect a fortress on the island of Diu, an ob


pings, however, undertook to build such a vessel; but owing to some misconception, as to the weight of the engine, and draught of water,

ject long and anxiously wished for, as being of the greatest importance to the security of the Portugueze possessions in India. Botelho was aware how acceptable this information would be to the king, and therefore deemed this a favourable opportunity of regaining his favour, by conveying such important intelligence; and he resolved to perform the voyage in a vessel so small, and so unlike what had ever appeared in Portugal, that it should not fail to excite astonishment, how any man could undertake so long and perilous a navigation, in such a frail and diminutive bottom.

⚫ Without communicating his scheme to any person, he procured a fusta, put a deck on it from head to stern, furnished it with spare sails and spars, and every other necessary, and constructed two small tanks for water.

As soon as the monsoon served, he embarked with some men in his service, giving out that he was going to Melinde; and, to give colour to this story, he proceeded to Baticala, where he purchased come cloths and beads for that market, and laid in provisions; some native merchants also embarked with a few articles on board for the Melinde market, to which he did not choose to object, lest it should alarm his sailors.

He set sail with the eastern monsoon, in the beginning of October, and arrived safely at Melinde, where he landed the native merchants, took in wood, water, and refreshments, and again put to sea, informing his crew that he was going to Quiloa. When he had got to a distance from the land, it would appear that some of his crew had mutinied; but this he had foreseen and provided for; putting some of them in irons, and promising at the same time amply to reward the services of the rest, and giving them to understand that he was going to Sofala on account of the trade in gold. Thus he proceeded, touching at various places for refreshments, which he met with in great plenty and very cheap.

• From Sofala he proceeded along the coast till he had passed the Cabo dos Correntes, and from thence along the shore, without ever venturing to a distance from the land, and touching at the different rivers, until he passed the Cape of Good Hope, which he did in January 1587.

From thence he stretched into the ocean with gentle breezes, steering for St. Helena ; where, on arriving, he drew his little vessel ashore, to clean her bottom and repair her, and also to give a few days' rest to his crew, of whom some had perished of cold, notwithstanding his having provided warm clothing for them.

Departing from St. Helena, he boldly steered his little bark across the wide oceán, directing his career to St. Thomè, where he took in provisions, wood, and water; and from thence proceeded to the bar of Lisbon, where he arrived in May, when the king was at Almeyrin.-He entered the river with his oars, his little vessel being dressed with flags and pendants, and anchored at Point Leira, opposite to Salvaterra, not being able to get farther up the river. This novelty produced such a sensation in Lisbon that the Tagus was covered with boats to see the fusta. Diogo Botelho Perreira landed in a boat, and proceeded to Almeyrin, to give the king an account of his voyage, and solicit a gratification for the good news which he brought, of his majesty now being possessed of a fortress on the island of Diu.

The king was highly pleased with this intelligence, but, as Botelho brought no letters from the governor, he did not give him the kind of reception which he had expected.— On the contrary, the king treated him with coldness and distance; his majesty, however, embarked to see the fusta, on board of which he examined every thing with much attention, and was gratified in viewing a vessel of such a peculiar form, and ordered money and clothes to be given to the sailors-nor could he help considering Diogo Botelho as a man of extraordinary enterprise and courage, on whose firmness implicit reliance might be placed.

The little vessel was ordered to be drawn ashore at Sacabem, where it remained many years, (until it fell to pieces,) and was visited by people from all parts of Europe, who beheld it with astonishment. The king subsequently received letters from the governor of Nuno da Cunha, confirming the news brought by Botelho; the bearer of These letters, a Jew, was immediately rewarded with a pension of a hundred and forty

water, the utmost speed at which the vessel could be propelled on the Thames, when complete, was little more than five miles an hour; and as this rate of proceeding could not be considered to compensate in any way for the great incumbrance of a machine, which occupied one third part of the whole vessel, it was very properly determined to get rid of it altogether.

A circumstance connected with the plan on which the vessel was constructed is deserving of particular notice, as it tends to shew how very little progress has yet been made in determining the shape of bodies which, in all cases, shall be calculated to move in fluids with least resistance. That of the Congo (for so she was named) is stated to have resembled pretty nearly the form of a horse-trough; and yet Captain Tuckey says that, in sailing from the Nore to the Downs, she beat every vessel which sailed with her; that she scarcely felt her sails, was perfectly safe at sea, and in the worst weather always dry and comfortable. It is worthy of notice,' adds the editor, that the principle on which the Congo was built is very similar to that for which the late Lord Stanhope so strongly contended, as being the most proper for ships of war, uniting, in one body, strength, stability, stowage, accommodation for the people, and a light draught of water: but Lord Stanhope's ideas were rejected by a committee of naval officers, as crude and visionary, with the exception of one individual.'

The Dorothea transport, now employed, with happier auspices, we trust, on the Polar expedition, was appointed to accompany the Congo into the river Zaire, with the boats, presents, provisions, and such other articles as were deemed necessary for the prosecution of the enterprize. Mathematical and philosophical instruments of various descriptions were provided; and in addition to the naval officers, consisting of Captain Tuckey, the commander; Mr. Hawkey, lieutenant; and Mr. Fitzmaurice, master and surveyor; two master's mates, an assistant-surgeon and purser; the following men of science were embarked:-Mr. Professor Smith, botanist; Mr. Cranch, collector of objects of natural history; Mr. Tudor, comparative anatomist, and Mr. Lockhart, a gardener from the King's botanical garden at Kew; besides two natives of Congo. milreas; but Botelho was neglected for many years, and at last appointed commander of St. Thome, and finally made captain of Cananor in India, that he might be at a distance from Portugal.'

The vessel named fusta is a long, shallow, Indian-built row-boat, which uses latine sails in fine weather. These boats are usually open, but Botelho covered his with a deck its dimensions, according to Lavanha, in his edition of De Barros' unfinished Decade, is as follows:-length, 22 palmos, or 16 feet 6 inches. Breadth, 12 palmos, or 9 feet. Depth, 6 palmos, or 4 feet 6 inches. Bligh's boat was 23 feet long-6 feet 9 inches broad, and 2 feet 9 inches deep. From the circumstance mentioned of some of his crew having perished with cold, it is probable that they were natives of India, whom the Portugueze were in the habit of bringing home as part of their crew.




« AnteriorContinua »