Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

The crew consisted of eight petty officers, six artificers, fourteen able seamen, a serjeant, a corporal, and twelve privates of marines, making in all fifty-six persons, of whom twenty-one were doomed never to return. Never,' says the editor, “was an expedition of discovery sent out with more flattering hopes of success;' yet, by a fatality almost inexplicable, never were the results of an expedition more melancholy and disastrous.' Captain Tuckey, Lieutenant Hawkey, Mr. Eyre (purser), and ten (eleven) of the Congo's crew,Professor Smith, Mr. Cranch, Mr. Tudor, and Mr. Galwey, (a volunteer,) in all eighteen persons, died in the short space of three months! Two had died in the passage outwards, and the serjeant of marines survived only till the vessels reached Babia.

• This great mortality is the more extraordinary, as it appears from Captain Tuckey's journal that nothing could be tiner than the climate, the thermometer never descending lower than 60° of Fahrenheit during the night, and seldom exceeding 760 in the day-time; the atmosphere remarkably dry; scarcely a shower falling during the whole of the journey; and the sun sometimes for three or four days not showing him. self sufficiently clear to enable them to get an observation.'—p. xliii.

So little indeed were they incominoded by heat, or rain or a moist atmosphere, that Captain Tuckey, writing from the Cataracts in the middle of August, after an excursion of several days, observes, the climate is so good, and the nights so pleasant, that we feel no inconvenience from our bivouac in the open air.' Mr. M‘Kerrow, the surgeon, reports that although the greater number were carried off by a most violent fever of the remittent type, some of them appeared to have no other ailment than that which had been caused by extreme fatigue; and actually died of exhaustion. This was probably the case with Captain Tuckey; but those who remained in the lower part of the river, with the ship, caught the fever, as it would seem, through their own imprudence. “They were permitted to go on shore; where the day was passed in ruoning about the country from one village to another, and the vight commonly in the open air; and though the dews were scarcely sensible at this season, the fall of the thermometer was very considerable, 15° or 20° below that of the day. - Spirituous liquors,' it is added, ' were not to be obtained; but excesses of another kind were freely indulged, to which they were prompted by the native blacks, who were always ready to give up their sisters, daughters, or even their wives, for the hope only of getting in return a small quantity of spirits. From the general symptoms, the Congo fever would appear to be nearly allied to the yellow fever of the West Indies. Its most prominent features are thus described by the surgeon.

• " The fever, as I observed it in those who were attacked on board, was generally ushered in by cold rigors, succeeded by severe headache, chiefly confined to the temples and across the forehead; in some cases, pain of the back and lower extremities, great oppression at the præcordia, and bilious vomiting, wbich in many cases proved extremely distressing; but in general, where the headache was very severe, the gastric symptoms were milder, and vice versa, though in some, both existed in a violent degree. Great anxiety and prostration of strength, the eyes in general watery, though in some the tunica conjunctiva was of a pearly lustre; the tongue at first white and smooth, having a tremulous motion when put out, and shortly becoming yellowish or brown, and in the last stage covered with a black crust; in some cases the face was flushed, though frequently pale, and the features rather shrunk. The skin in some cases dry and pungent, with a hard and frequent pulsc; in others the pulse below the natural standard, with a clammy perspiration on the surface. In several a yellow suffusion took place from the third to the sixth or seventh day; in one case livid blotches appeared on the wrists and ankles. The delirium was most commonly of the low kind, with great aversion from medicine. Singultus, a common and distressing symptom. The fatal termination in some happened as early as the third or fourth, but in others was protracted even to the twentieth day. With regard to the treatment, I shall here only observe, that bleeding was particularly unsuccessful. Cathartics were of the greatest utility; and calomel, so administered as speedily to induce copious salivation, generally procured a remission of all the violent symptoms; when I found it immediately necessary to give bark and wire."'-p. xlv. xlvi.

The body of the work consists of the Journals of Captain Tuckey and Professor Smith,—that of the former being given, as we are told, just as it came from the hands of its author, not a sentence having been added or suppressed, nor the least alteration made therein, beyond the correction of some trifling error in granımar or orthography;' that of the latter is a translation, by Dr. Rydberg, of

the original minutes and observations of the Professor, as they appear to have been entered, from day to day, in a small pocket memorandum book, written in the Danish language, and in so small and ill-formed a character as in some places to be perfectly illegible,'— circumstances which cannot fail to insure that indulgence which the editor is desirous of bespeaking for the ill-fated writer. To these journals are added some general observations resulting from the information contained in them, and in the detached notes of the other officers and naturalists employed in this expedition. They comprehend a concise and condensed view of the nature of the Zaire, and of the country through which it flows; of the question as to its northern origin and identity with the Niger, as far as may be deduced from the information acquired, and the observations made, on the present expedition; and of the inhabitants and the natural history of the district along the line of the river. An Appendix follows, containing-1. A vocabulary of the Malemba and 'Embomma languages. 2. Observatious on the genus Ocythoë of Rafinesque,

with

Y 2

with a description of a new species. 3. The distinguishing characters between the ova of the Sepia and those of the Vermes testacea that live in water explained. 4. A general notice of the animals taken by Mr.John Cranch during the expedition. 5. Observations, systematical and geographical, on Professor Christian Smith's collection of plants from the vicinity of the river Congo, by Mr. Brown. 6. Geological remarks on the specimens of rocks presented to the British Museum. And 7. Hydrographical remarks from the islavd of St. Thomas to the mouth of the Zaire :- the whole illustrated by a chart of the Zaire as far as it was traced upwards, and thirteen plates, besides a number of wood-cuts interspersed among the letterpress, forming a very handsome, and, we may add, what is no mean recommendation in these days, a very cheap volume.

On the 19th of March, 1716, the expedition cleared the Channel, and on the ed of April came to anchor in Porta Praya road, which afforded an opportunity to Professor Smith to obtain a more correct account of the botany of St. Jago than has hitherto been given; and his account of the interior of this island, of which we know so little, is interesting and amusing.

The passage from St. Jago to the mouth of the Zaire was exceedingly tedious, owing to their having kept too close to the coast of Africa, instead of stretching away to the westward. It afforded them, however, an opportunity of procuring a great number of new and curious marine animals, and among others of ascertaining the animal that takes possession of the beautiful paper nautilus, or Argonaut shell, on which two papers are given in the Appendix, It was also the means of correcting the erroneous geography of the coast of Southern Africa, from Cape Lopez to Cape Padron, which was found to be laid down in what are esteemed the most correct charts, too far to the westward, in some places, by a full degree of longitude.

On anchoring off Malemba, they were visited by an officer called a Mafook, or king's merchant; she was announced by a person who said he was a gentleman, and that his name was Tom Liverpool.' They were asked if they wanted slaves; and on being answered in the negative, and that none but the Portugueze were now allowed to carry on that traffic, the mafook poured forth a volley of abuse on all the sovereigns of Europe, and more especially on the king of England,-said he was overrun with captives, which he would sell at half their value; and added that, with one exception, it was five years since a single vessel had visited Malemba; admitting, however, that now and then he had a demand from Cabenda, where, at that moment, he said, there were nine vessels under Portugueze, and one under Spanish colours.

It was several days before the vessels succeeded in forcing their passage into the Zaire, on account of the strength of the current; but no sooner were they anchored within the river, than they were assailed by numerous visitors, of which those from the province of Sonio, on the south bank, who were • Christians after the Portugueze fashion,' are represented as by far the worst people they had met with, being, almost without exception, sulky looking vagabonds, dirty, swarming with lice, and scaled over with the itch, all strong symptoms of their having been civilized by the Portugueze.' One of them was a priest, who had been ordained by the Capuchin monks of Loando: he could just write his name and that of St. Antonio, and read the Ronish ritual; he was however but an in different Catholic, for his rosary, his relics, and his crosses were mixed with his domestic fetiches: this bare-footed apostle,' as Dr. Smith calls him, boasted of having no fewer than five wives.

The difficulty of getting the transport up the river induced Captain Tuckey to put together his double boats, with which and the Congo he proceeded upwards on the 18th of July, and on the 26th reached Lombee, the market-town of the Chenoo or king of Embomma. Here Simmons, a black man, who had been taken on board the Congo at Deptford, first met with his father and brother, who received him with transports of joy: on going on shore with his friends, the town resounded the whole night with the drum and the songs of rejoicing.' The adventures of Simmous afford a presumption that the tale of Oronoco may not be a romance.

The story of this man, which I had before never thought of enquiring into, and which was partly related by his father, adds one bloi more to the character of European slave-traders. His father, who is called Mongova Scki, a prince of the blood, and counsellor to the king of Embomma, entrusted him, when eight or ten years old, to a Liverpool captain of the name of - -' (we wish we knew it) 'to be cducated (or, according to his expression, to learn to make book) in England; but his conscientious guardian found it less troublesome to have him taught to make sugar at St. Kitts, where he accordingly sold him; and from whence he contrived to make his escape and get on board an English ship of war, from which he was paid off on the reduction of the feet. During our passage, he performed, without any signs of impatience or disgust, the menial office of cook’s-mate.'--p. 98, 99.

A ceremonial visit was here paid to the Chenoo of Embomma, who was with difficulty made to comprehend the nature of the voyage. After a tedious conversation, they sat down to an entertainment in a large apartment, where some chests covered with carpets served, at once, for seats and tables. The repast consisted of a soup of plantains and goats' fleshı, a fowl cut in pieces and broiled, and roasted plantains in lieu of bread; some sweet palm Y 3

wine,

6

wine, in a large silver tankard, was the only beverage. When dimer was ended, the king and his chiefs still appeared doubtful as to the real motives of the visit; at length an old man, starting up, plucked a leaf from a tree, and holding it to Captain Tuckey, said, *If you come to trade, swear by your God and break the leaf;' on his refusing to do so, he said, 'Swear by your God you don't come to make war, and break the leaf:' this Captain Tuckey immediately did, on which the whole company performed a grand sakilla, a kind of measured dance, expressive of approbation; and the assembly then broke up apparently quite satisfied.

The Chenoo had about fifty women for his own use; these, as well as his daughters, he offered, with equal liberality, to the visitors; and the example was not lost upon his courtiers. The language of the men,' Captain Tuckey says, “in offering them was most disgusting and obscene; being composed of the vilest words picked up from English, French and Portugueze.' As no such offers were made farther up the river, it is but fair to presume that they were trained to this offensive custom by the European slave-dealers, who used to frequent Embomma as the principal mart on the Zaire. In returning to the ships, the party observed a huit in which the corpse of a female was lying drest as when alive: within were four women bowling, to whoin two men on the outside responded in a kind of cadence, producing a concert not unlike the yell of an Irish funeral. In passing through the burying-ground, they observed two graves, not less than nine feet by five; for the extraordinary size of which the following passage enables us to account.

* Simmons requested a piece of cloth to envelope his aunt, who had been dead seven years, and was to be buried in two months, being now arrived at a size to make a genteel funeral. The manner of preserving corpses, for so long a time, is by enveloping them in cloth money of the country, or in European cottons, the smell of putrefaction being only kept in by the quantity of wrappers, which are successively multiplied as they can be procured by the relations of the deceased, or according to the rank of the person; in the case of a rich and very great man, the bulk acquired being only limited by the power of conveyance to the grave; so that the first hur in which the body is deposited, becoming too small, a second, a third, even to a sixth, increasing in dimensions, is placed over it.'--pp. 115, 116.

On the 5th of August, the party proceeded up the river in the double boats; but on the oth they found the Slate Mountains on either side had contracted it within such narrow banks, and the velocity of the current in consequence was so strong, avd so many whirlpools and eddies were occasioned by ledges of rocks, that Captain Tuckey determined at once to quit them and proceed by land to the first cataract, called in the language of the country Yel

lala.

« AnteriorContinua »