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Title: Narrative of travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824

Author: Dixon Denham

Hugh Clapperton

Walter Oudney

Contributor: Robert Brown

J. G. Children

Charles Dietrich Eberhard König

Abraham V. Salamé

N. A. Vigors

Release date: September 29, 2023 [eBook #71754]

Language: English

Original publication: London: John Murray, 1826

Credits: Galo Flordelis (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive and Yale Univ. Library)

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published by John Murray, London. Feb. 1826.

IN THE YEARS 1822, 1823, AND 1824,














By the death of Dr. Oudney, it has fallen to the lot of Captain Clapperton and myself to render an account to the public of our expedition into the interior and central parts of Northern Africa. The sudden departure of my surviving companion, on a second mission, has necessarily thrown the greater part of the burden on myself. I believe, however—for I have not seen any of his papers—that Captain Clapperton, during the lifetime of Dr. Oudney, made but few remarks himself beyond the construction of the chart of our route, from daily observations of the latitude, and of lunars for the longitude, whenever favourable opportunities occurred; but, subsequently to the death of his travelling companion, which happened at an early stage of their journey into Soudan, a journal of his proceedings and remarks appears to have been regularly kept; and this, together with other documents connected with that journey, were left at his departure in the hands of Mr. Barrow, with a request that he would see them through the press.

[vi]It may naturally enough be asked, Why something more than a short excursion to the westward of Mourzuk, and a few notes, do not appear from the pen of Dr. Oudney in the present volume? I can only answer the question by the fact, that the only papers placed in my hands consist of “An Itinerary from Mourzuk to Bornou;” and “An Excursion to the Westward of Mourzuk;” neither of which have been deemed fit for publication in extenso, from their imperfect state, and containing very little beyond what will be found in my own journals. I have, however, printed in foot notes such parts of them as have been pointed out to me. Not a paper of his, to my knowledge, has been lost or destroyed; and I can only account for the unsatisfactory state in which they have been found, from the circumstance of his ill health, which became extremely precarious from the moment of our departure from Mourzuk, where he had caught a cold, which settled on his lungs, and never left him. On our arrival at Kouka, and frequently afterwards, he experienced so many attacks of fever, that there appeared little hope of his surviving to return to England, which was indeed his own opinion; and when he set out on his last journey towards Soudan, he was so exhausted, and in a state so unfit for such an undertaking, that he fell a martyr to his zeal very soon after his departure, though, had he remained at Kouka, the melancholy event would not, in all probability, have been prolonged many days.

My own expeditions in various parts of Bornou, in Mandara, and Loggun, and the two fruitless attempts I made to complete the tour of the great lake Tchad, will be found to occupy a considerable[vii] portion of the volume; and being made in countries, and among a people unknown to Europeans,—many of them even by name or report,—it is hoped that observations, faithfully and circumstantially minuted down at the time and spot, will not be found tedious or uninteresting to the reader.

It will, perhaps, be thought by some, that I have been more minute than necessary in the account of our journey across that tremendous desert which lies between Mourzuk and Bornou, and which, generally speaking, is made up of dark frowning hills of naked rock, or interminable plains, strewed in some places with fragments of stone and pebbles, in others of one vast level surface of sand, and, in others again, the same material rising into immense mounds, altering their form and position according to the strength and direction of the winds. But, even in the midst of this dreary waste, towns, villages, wandering tribes, and kafilas, or caravans, sometimes occur to break the solitude of this dismal belt, which seems to stretch across Northern Africa, and, on many parts of which, not a living creature, even an insect, enlivens the scene. Still, however, the halting places at the wells, and the wadeys or valleys, afford an endless source of amusement to the traveller, in witnessing the manners, and listening to the conversation, of the various tribes of natives, who, by their singing and dancing, their story telling, their quarrelling and fighting, make him forget, for a time, the ennui and fatigue of the day’s journey.

As for the rest, I have to trust to its novelty, for its recommendation[viii] to the public, rather than to any powers of writing, which I pretend not to possess; and it is now a source of great satisfaction to me that, under all my difficulties, and they were not few, I was able to adhere to the resolution I set out with, of recording, at the end of each day, the occurrences, however trifling, that had taken place.

To Sir Robert Ker Porter, my friend since the days of boyhood, I am indebted for having perfected several drawings, with his experienced pencil, from my hasty, but yet faithful sketches, of the people and scenery of Central Africa. His eye was nearly as familiar as my own with the picturesque objects they display; and, indeed, all who are acquainted with the published narrative of his Researches amongst the Remains of Ancient Persia and Babylonia, might readily recognise the same hand, in these his spirited delineations of African costume and character.


Albany, London,
Jan. 1st. 1826.

of the
Travels and Discoveries
made in
Northern & Central Africa,
Dr. Oudney, Major Denham, & Captn. Clapperton, R.N.
in the Years 1822, 3, & 4.

J. & C. Walker Sculpt.


Published as the Act directs Feby. 1826, by John Murray Albemarle Street London.


Introductory Chapter.—From Tripoli to Mourzuk xi
Excursion to the Westward of Mourzuk xliii
Chap. I.—From Mourzuk to Kouka in Bornou 1
Chap. II.—Kouka 67
Chap. III.—Expedition to Mandara 99
Chap. IV.—Excursion to Munga and the Gambarou 149
Chap. V.—Rainy Season at Kouka 181
Chap. VI.—Excursion to Loggun, and Death of Mr. Toole 226
Chap. VII.—Journey to the Eastern Shores of the Lake Tchad 248
Supplemental Chapter on Bornou 314
Prefatory notice to the Narrative, by John Barrow
Sect. I.—From Kouka to Murmur, where Dr. Oudney died 1
Sect. II.—From Murmur to Kano 34
Sect. III.—From Kano to Sackatoo, and Residence there 67
No. I.—Translation of a Letter from the Sheikh Mohammed El Kanemy 139
No. II.—Translation of a Letter from an African Chieftain 140
No. III.—A Letter from Yousuf, Pasha of Tripoli, to the Sheikh of Bornou 141
No. IV.—A Letter from the Pasha of Tripoli 143
No. V.—A Letter from the Sheikh of Bornou to the Sultan of Kanou 144
No. VI.—A Letter from the Sheikh of Bornou to the Sultan of Hoossa 145
No. VII.—A Letter from the Chieftain Mohammed Gamsoo 146
No. VIII.—A Document relating to the Death of Mungo Park 147
[x]No. IX.—A Letter from the Sheikh of Bornou to Captain Clapperton 148
No. X.—A Document made at the Court of Justice of Bornou 149
No. XI.—Translation of Letters and Documents received from the Sheikh of Bornou concerning Mr. Tyrwhit’s Death 151
No. XII.—Translation of an Arabic MS. 158
No. XIII.—A Narrative of the first Battle of Kadawee 167
No. XIV.—The Song of Mohammed-Alameen ben Mohammed El Kanemy 171
No. XV.—Translation of an extempore Arab Song 173
No. XVI.—Translation of the Song of the Fezzanneers, on Boo Khaloom’s Death 174
No. XVII.—Bornou Vocabulary 175
No. XVIII.—Begharmi Vocabulary 179
No. XIX.—Mandara Vocabulary 180
No. XX.—Timbuctoo Vocabulary 181
No. XXI.—Zoology 183
No. XXII.—Botany 208
No. XXIII.—Letter to Major Denham on the Rock Specimens 247
No. XXIV.—Thermometrical Journals 262


No. Page
1. Alameen ben Mohammed El Kanemy, Sheikh of Bornou, Frontispiece
2. Part of the Stony Desert, to face page xvi
3. Castle at Mourzuk, from Mr. Ritchie’s Grave xxi
4. Woman of Sockna xxvii
5. Vignette, Arabs Meeting xlii
6. View of the Bahr Mandia lviii
7. Castle, and Salt Lake at Tegerhy 5
8. Anay Tibboo Country 17
9. Kanemboo Marketwoman,—Unmarried Woman of Soudan 46
10. Body Guard of the Sheikh of Bornou 64
11. Reception of the Mission by the Sultan of Bornou 79
12. Shouaa Women, kingdom of Bornou 94
13. Arrival at Mora, the capital of Mandara 111
14. Mandara Musicians 123
15. Plan of the Pass of Hairy, Mandara mountains 127
16. Attack on Musfeia 133
17. Vignette, Manner of Roasting Fish 148
18. The River Gambarou, or Yeou, near Lada 152
19. Favourite of the Seraglio, accompanying a Military Expedition 163
20. Kanemboo Spearman,—Munga Bowman, in the service of the Sheikh of Bornou 166
21. Abdel Gassam, a Felatah from Timbuctoo—A Bornouese on a Journey 177
22. Vignette, Kanemboo Night Watch 180
23. Hut, and Carpenter’s Shop 201
24. Vignette, Plan of Kouka 225
25. Fishing Boats on the River Shary 229
26. River Shary, from the Walls of Kussery 235
27. Vignette, Negresses Pounding Corn 247
28. A Loggun Lady—Funha of Maffatai—Abdelahi of Mandara 259
29. Hager Teous, or the Footstool of Noah 261
30. Sketch of the Lake Tchad 266
31. Lancers of the Sultan of Begharmi 279
32. Manner of Fishing on the River Yeou 284
33. Encampment near Woodie 289
34. Ghirza, south face of Building 305
35. Frieze on do. ib.
36. Town of Sangeia, in Houssa 36
37. Natives of Soudan 54
38. Vignette, Plan of the Town of Kano 56
39. A Reduction of Bello’s Map of Central Africa 109
40. Appendix—Fennecus Cerdo 183
41. Arms and Armour of Central Africa, brought home by Major Denham,—Three Plates.
44. General Map of the Routes of the Travellers.




Previous to any knowledge I had received of the intentions of His Majesty’s government to follow up the mission of Mr. Ritchie and Captain Lyon, I had volunteered my services to Lord Bathurst to proceed to Timbuctoo, by nearly the same route which Major Laing is now pursuing. I learnt, in reply, that an expedition had been planned, and that Doctor Oudney and Lieutenant Clapperton, both of the navy, were appointed; and with these gentlemen, by the kindness of Lord Bathurst, I was, at my request, associated. My companions left London before me; but, as soon as ready, I lost no time in proceeding in the packet to Malta, where I found that they had left the island for Tripoli nearly a month before. By the kindness of Admiral Sir Graham Moore, Sir Manley Power, Sir Richard Plasket, and Captain Woolley, commissioner of the dock-yard, all my wants were amply supplied; and judging that the assistance of a shipwright or carpenter might prove of essential use, and being allowed by my instructions to engage any one, at a reasonable salary, who might choose to volunteer to accompany the mission, William Hillman, shipwright, a man of excellent character, immediately offered his services, on an agreement that he should receive 120l. a year so long as he should continue to be employed.

I embarked in the Express schooner, which the admiral lent me for the purpose, and, on the 18th November, after three days’ sail, arrived at Tripoli, and found my two companions at the house of Mr. Consul Warrington, anxiously expecting my arrival. Of this gentleman it is not too much to say, that by his cheerful and good humoured disposition, his zeal, perseverance, and extraordinary good management, we owe, in a great degree, that influence[xii] which England possesses with this government far beyond that of any other of the Barbary powers. The English name, in fact, is of such importance in Tripoli, that there is scarcely a point to carry, or a dispute to settle, in which the bashaw does not request the interference of the British consul: and to him, indeed, is, in a great degree, owing the origin and success of the late mission. He stated broadly to the government at home, that the road from Tripoli to Bornou was as open as that from London to Edinburgh; which, with a small allowance for Oriental hyperbole, was found to be true—witness the journey of my lamented friend Lieutenant Toole, and also of Mr. Tyrwhitt, the latter laden with valuable presents.

But this is not all: the British flag has a peculiar power of protection, and the roof of the English consul always affords a sanctuary to the perpetrator of any crime, not even excepting murder; and scarcely a day passes that some persecuted Jew or unhappy slave, to escape the bastinado, does not rush into the court-yard of the British consulate for protection. A circumstance occurred in returning from one of our excursions, which shows in what high estimation the English character is held in Tripoli. A poor wretch, who, for some trifling offence, was sentenced to five hundred bastinadoes, having, while on his way to receive the sentence of the law, contrived to slip from the custody of his guards, fortunately met with the child and servant of Doctor Dickson, a most respectable and intelligent English physician practising in Tripoli: the condemned wretch, with wonderful presence of mind, snatched up the child in his arms, and halted boldly before his pursuers. The talisman was sufficiently powerful: the emblem of innocence befriended the guilty, and the culprit walked on uninterrupted, triumphantly claiming the protection of the British flag.

But the following proves still more strongly to what extent the influence of the British flag might be carried.—Since the reduction of the refractory Arabs to submission, no chief had received such repeated marks of kindness and attention from the bashaw, as sheikh Belgassam ben Khalifa, head of the powerful tribe of El Gibel. At the particular request of the former, sheikh Khalifa had quitted his tents and flocks, resided in the city, and was high in his prince’s confidence—fatal pre-eminence in Barbary states!—and had been presented, but a few months before, with one of the most beautiful gardens in the Minshea. Returning from the castle after an evening of music and dancing in the bashaw’s private apartments, Belgassam kissed the hand that had signed[xiii] his death-warrant, and took his leave. At his own door a pistol-shot wounded him in the arm, and on entering the skiffa, or passage, a second entered his body. The old sheikh, after his slave had fastened the door, staggered to his carpet, and then, in the arms of his wife, proclaimed his assassin to be his own nephew, sheikh Mahmoud Belgassam Wildé Sowdoweah. The work being, however, but half done, others rushed in, and seven stabs put an end to his sufferings, notwithstanding the screams of his wife, who received two wounds herself, in endeavouring to save her husband. The poor old man was almost instantly buried, and the three persons who had undertaken the murder fled to the British consulate for protection. Early the next morning, however, the consul despatched his dragoman to give the bashaw notice, “that the murderers of Khalifa would find no protection under the flag of England.” The bashaw said, “he was shocked at the murder, and regretted the assassins having taken refuge in the consulate, as it was a sanctuary he could not violate, particularly as he understood they meant to resist, and were well armed.” Our consul replied, “that the bashaw was at liberty to send any force he pleased, and use any means he thought best, to drag them from beneath a banner that never was disgraced by giving protection to assassins.” The minister also came and expressed the bashaw’s delicacy; and it was evident he did not expect such would be the conduct of the consul: he was, however, peremptory, and the bashaw dared not seem to favour such an act of villany. It was sunset before he decided on taking them away, when about sixteen of the chosen people of the castle entered the consulate, and the wretches, although provided with arms, which they had loaded, tremblingly resigned themselves, and were, in less than an hour, hanging over the walls of the castle.

On a day appointed we waited on the bashaw. After passing the court-yard, crowded with guards, and several groups of Arabs in the passages and ante-rooms playing at cards or dice, we were introduced to the audience chamber, where the bashaw, sitting cross-legged on a carpet, supported by his two sons, and attended by armed negroes, received us kindly, ordered us to be served with sherbet and coffee, and expressed himself in the most favourable manner on the subject of our mission, which he promised to forward in safety into the interior of Africa. He invited us to join him in a hawking party. The cavalcade, consisting of about three hundred, altogether presented so novel an appearance, that I shall endeavour[xiv] to give some description of our morning’s amusement. The bashaw was mounted on a milk-white Arabian, superbly caparisoned, with saddle of crimson velvet richly studded with gold nails, heavy stirrups of the same, and trappings of embroidered cloth hanging down on each side nearly to the horse’s fetlock joint; he was preceded by six chaoushes, or officers, also mounted and richly caparisoned, armed with long guns, swords, and pistols, and a white silk barracan thrown loosely and gracefully round their bodies. His highness was supported on each side by a favourite black slave, whose glittering vest, light bornouse, and white turban, formed a pleasing contrast to the costume of the Arabs. We proceeded in a westerly direction; and on arriving at the desert, parties of six and eight dashed forward, with the rapidity of lightning, several hundred paces, fired, immediately halted in a most surprising manner, and with loud cries rushed back again to the main body, when instantly the same ceremony was repeated by another party. Their superior skill in the management of their horses is really beautiful; and the way they manœuvre their long musket, by repeatedly spinning it over their heads at full speed, has a most picturesque effect. Near the bashaw’s person rode Sidy Ali, his third son, although second in succession, in consequence of the banishment of the eldest; he also was attended by his particular guard of Arabs, distinguished not only by their superior and determined appearance, but by their figured muslin bornouses. Sidy Ali is the bashaw’s favourite son, and is particularly handsome, although what we should call too fat, and is said to resemble very much what the bashaw was at his age: he is allowed great privilege and liberty, which is indeed proved by his saying, the other day, to his father, “I shall succeed you as bashaw.” “How do you mean?” “How? why, by taking the same steps you did yourself,” said the youth.

I was invited, with my colleagues, to pass a day about five miles from Tripoli, at the garden of Mahomed D’Ghies, to whom I brought letters from his son, who was residing in London, much noticed and respected. This old gentleman had been minister for foreign affairs to the bashaw, but had retired from office some time, on account of a complaint in his eyes. He is a most respectable man, and particularly kind to all European travellers who visit Tripoli; and so well known throughout Northern Africa, that letters of credit from him are sure to be duly honoured. Nothing could exceed the hospitality[xv] and attention with which we were received: having regaled ourselves with sherbet, coffee, and tobacco, several times in the course of the day, and partaken of an excellent dinner, à la Turque, in a grove of lemon and orange trees, we returned in the evening to Tripoli, well pleased with our day’s excursion.

Tripoli has been so often described, that I shall pass it over in silence. Its Jews, its Arabs, its Moors, and Maraboots; the slave population, and the bashaw’s family; are all so well painted to the life in “Tully’s Letters,” as to require no further notice from me as a casual visitor. Neither is it my intention to enter into a minute description of the country between Tripoli and Mourzuk; the surface of which is not essentially different from that between Mourzuk and Bornou, and has already been noticed by Captain Lyon, and in the communications to the African Association.

On the 5th March, 1822, I left Tripoli for Benioleed[1], to join my two[xvi] companions, who had proceeded thither with our servants, horses, camels, and baggage. They had gone on to Memoom, a very pretty valley, which, at this season of the year, was green with herbage, and adorned by flowers of various hues and colours, richly scattered in beautiful disorder;—but it was the last of the kind we were fortunate enough to meet with between this place and Bornou; and here the consul and his son, who had accompanied us from Tripoli, took their leave, with many hearty good wishes for our success and prosperity.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

[xvii]On the day previous to our approach to Sockna, a town about half way between Tripoli and Mourzuk, which we reached in fourteen days, the uniformity of the journey was somewhat enlivened, by meeting with a kafila of slaves, from Fezzan, in which were about seventy negresses, much better looking, and more healthy, than any we had seen near the sea-coast. They were marching in parties of fifteen or twenty; and on our inquiring of one of those parties from whence they came, the poor things divided themselves with the greatest simplicity, and answered, “Soudan, Begharmi, and Kanem,” pointing out the different parcels, from each country, as they spoke: those from Soudan had the most regular features, and an expression of countenance particularly pleasing.

Passing a small wadey and plantation of date trees, we had soon a view of Sockna, and were met on the plain, on which it stands, by the governor and principal inhabitants, accompanied by some hundreds of the country people, who all crowded round our horses, kissing our hands, and welcoming us with every appearance of sincerity and satisfaction; and in this way we entered[xviii] the town: the words “Inglesi! Inglesi!” were repeated by a hundred voices from the crowd. This, to us, was highly satisfactory, as we were the first English travellers in Africa who had resisted the persuasion that a disguise was necessary, and who had determined to travel in our real character as Britons and Christians, and to wear, on all occasions, our English dresses; nor had we, at any future period, occasion to regret that we had done so. There was here no jealousy, nor distrust of us as Christians; on the contrary, I am perfectly satisfied that our reception would have been less friendly had we assumed a character that could have been at best but ill supported. In trying to make ourselves appear as Mussulmans, we should have been set down as real impostors.

The dates of Sockna are excellent, and in abundance: our animals were liberally supplied with this fruit of fruits; and after the first two days appeared to eat them nearly as well as corn. The population of Sockna must be considerably more than three thousand. The town is walled, and about a mile in circumference: has eight gates; and wears altogether a clean and neat appearance that surprised us. The women are certainly very pretty, and are said to be remarkable for their love of intrigue. This may be true, or not; but we had no opportunity of ascertaining it from our own knowledge. Of their affability and good humour, however, we had many proofs; and while only two of us were walking through the town one morning, with a little army of ragged boys following us, two, of rather the better order, quickly dispersed them; and invited us to enter a house, saying that a mara zene (a beautiful woman) wished to see us. We put ourselves under their guidance, and entering a better sort of dwelling-house, were quickly surrounded by at least half-a-dozen ladies, most of them aged; but who asked us a thousand questions, and, when satisfied we were not dangerous, called several younger ones, who appeared to be but waiting for permission to appear. Our dresses and ourselves were then minutely examined. The yellow buttons on our waistcoats, and our watches, created the greatest astonishment; and a pair of loose white trowsers that I wore, into the pockets of which I accidentally put my hands, raised their curiosity to a wonderful degree: my hands were pulled out, and those of three or four of the ladies thrust in, in their stead: these were replaced by others, all demanding their use so loudly and violently, that I had considerable difficulty in extricating myself, and was glad to make my escape. The dress of the Sockna[xix] women is nearly that of the Tripoline: they wear striped shirts, of silk or linen, large silver ear-rings, with leg-lets and arm-lets of the same: the lower classes wear those of glass or horn.

The remaining half of our journey to Mourzuk was over pretty nearly the same kind of surface as that we had passed before; in some places worse. Sometimes two, and once three days, we were without finding a supply of water; which was generally muddy, bitter, or brackish: nor is this the worst that sometimes befalls the traveller. The overpowering effects of a sudden sand-wind, when nearly at the close of the desert, often destroys a whole kafila, already weakened by fatigue; and the spot was pointed out to us, strewed with bones and dried carcasses, where the year before fifty sheep, two camels, and two men, perished from thirst and fatigue, when within eight hours’ march of the well which we were anxiously looking out for.

Indeed the sand-storm we had the misfortune to encounter in crossing the desert gave us a pretty correct idea of the dreaded effects of these hurricanes. The wind raised the fine sand with which the extensive desert was covered, so as to fill the atmosphere, and render the immense space before us impenetrable to the eye beyond a few yards. The sun and clouds were entirely obscured, and a suffocating and oppressive weight accompanied the flakes and masses of sand, which, I had almost said, we had to penetrate at every step. At times we completely lost sight of the camels, though only a few yards before us. The horses hung their tongues out of their mouths, and refused to face the torrents of sand. A sheep, that accompanied the kafila, the last of our stock, lay down on the road, and we were obliged to kill him, and throw the carcass on a camel. A parching thirst oppressed us, which nothing alleviated. We had made but little way by three o’clock in the afternoon, when the wind got round to the eastward, and refreshed us something: with this change we moved on until about five, when we halted, protected a little by three several ranges of irregular hills, some conical, and some table-topped. As we had but little wood, our fare was confined to tea; and we hoped to find relief from our fatigues by a sound sleep. That was, however, denied us; the tent had been imprudently pitched, and was exposed to the east wind, which blew a hurricane during the night: the tent was blown down, and the whole detachment were employed a full hour in getting it up again; and our bedding and every thing that was within it was, during that time, completely buried by the constant[xx] driving of the sand. I was obliged, three times during the night, to get up for the purpose of strengthening the pegs; and when, in the morning, I awoke, two hillocks of sand were formed on each side of my head, some inches high.

On the 7th April we arrived at a village in the midst of a vast multitude of palm trees, just one day’s journey short of Mourzuk. As it was to be the last day’s march, we were all in good spirits at the prospect of rest; and had we made our arrangements with judgment, every thing would have gone on well. We had, however, neglected sending on to advise the sultan of our arrival—a constant practice, and consequently our reception was not what it ought to have been. We arrived at D’leem, a small plantation of date trees, at noon, and finding no water in the well, were obliged to proceed; and it was three in the afternoon before we arrived at the wells near Mourzuk. Here we were obliged to wait until the camels came up, in order that we might advance in form. We might, however, have saved ourselves the trouble:—no one came out to meet us, except some naked boys, and a mixture of Tibboos, Tuaricks, and Fezzanese, who gazed at us with astonishment, and no very pleasant aspect.

We determined on not entering the town in a manner so little flattering to those whom we represented: and retiring to a rising ground, a little distance from the gates of the town, waited the return of a chaoush, who had been despatched to announce our arrival. After half an hour’s delay, the sheikh El Blad (the governor of the town) came out, and, in the sultan’s name, requested we would accompany him to the house which had been prepared for us; and he added, to our great surprise, the English consul is there already. The fact was, a very ill-looking Jew servant of mine, mounted on a white mule, with a pair of small canteens under him, had preceded the camels, and entered the town by himself: he was received with great respect by all the inhabitants—conducted through the streets to the house which was destined to receive us; and from the circumstance of the canteens being all covered with small brass shining nails, a very high idea of his consequence was formed. He very sensibly received all their attentions in silence, and drank the cool water and milk which was handed to him: and we always had the laugh against them afterwards, for having shown so much civility to an Israelite—a race they heartily despise. “We thought the English,” said they, “were better looking than Jews—Death to their race! but then God made us all, though not all handsome[xxi] like Mussulmans, so who could tell?” As we were all this time exposed to a burning sun, we were well inclined to compromise a little of our dignity, and determined on entering the town, which we did by the principal gate. The walls are well built, at least twenty feet high; and the gate sufficiently wide to admit, with care, a loaded camel. You pass through the fsug, slave-market, a wide street, with houses on each side, three hundred yards in length. It leads into an open space, in the centre of which the castle stands, surrounded by a second wall. In the inside of this inner wall, in the castle yard, are a few houses, originally built for the Mamelukes, and particular followers of the late sultan, when they were subject to the occasional attacks of the Arabs. In one of these, the house occupied by the late Mr. Ritchie and Captain Lyon, arrangements were made for our reception. Almost as soon as the camels were unloaded, we paid our respects to the sultan: he received us with a great deal of affability and good nature, and made an impression in his favour, which, however, his subsequent conduct tended but little to strengthen.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Our interview with the sultan of Mourzuk was any thing but encouraging: he told us that there was no intention, as we had been led to expect, of any expedition to proceed to the southward for some time to come; that an army could only move in the spring of the year; that the arrangements for moving a body of men through a country where every necessary must be carried on camels, both for men and horses, were so numerous, that before the following spring it was scarcely possible to complete them: that two camels were required for every man and horse, and one for every two men on foot. And as to our proceeding to Bornou, it would be necessary, had the bashaw instructed him to forward us, that we should be accompanied by an escort of two hundred men. He said he would read to us the bashaw’s letter, and we should see the extent to which he could forward our wishes. The letter was then handed to his fighi, or secretary; and we found that to the protection of the sultan of Fezzan were we intrusted, who was to charge himself with our safety, and so insure our being treated with respect and attention by all his subjects; that we were to reside at Sebha, or Mourzuk, or where we chose in the kingdom of Fezzan, and to await his return from Tripoli. With this our audience ended, and we returned to our habitation.

It is quite impossible to express the disheartening feelings with which we left the castle. The heat was intense; the thermometer at 97° in the coolest spot in the house, during the middle of the day; and the nights were scarcely[xxii] less oppressive: the flies were in such myriads, that darkness was the only refuge from their annoyance. All poor Mr. Ritchie’s sufferings and disappointments were brought to our recollections; and although, from the arrangements which we had been able to make, we were better provided with necessaries than those who had gone before us,—yet did we consider our stock as a very sacred charge, applicable only to the grand objects of our expedition.

We received visits from all the principal people of Mourzuk the day after our arrival; and remarking a very tall Tuarick, with a pair of expressive, large, benevolent-looking eyes, above the black mask with which they always cover the lower part of their face, hovering about the door, I made signs to him to come near, and inquired after Hateeta, the chief Captain Lyon had spoken so highly of, and for whom, at his request, I was the bearer of a sword. To my great surprise, striking his breast, he exclaimed, “I am Hateeta! are you a countryman of Said[2]?—how is he? I have often longed to hear of him.” I found Hateeta had been but once in Mourzuk since Captain Lyon’s departure, and was now only to remain a few days. On the following morning he came to the house, and the sword was presented to him. It would be difficult to describe his delight; he drew the sword and returned it, repeatedly; pressed it to his breast, exclaimed “Allah, Allah!” took my hand, and pressing it, said “Katar heyrick yassur yassur” (thank you very very much); nearly all the Arabic he could speak. It was shortly reported all over the whole town, that Hateeta had received a present from Said, worth one hundred dollars.

12th.—We had been several times visited, and our hopes and spirits raised, by a person called Boo-Bucker Boo-Khaloom. He said that it was in the sultan’s power to send us on to Bornou if he pleased: he even hinted that a bribe for himself might induce him to do so—this, however, we found was not the case. Boo-Khaloom was represented to us, and truly, as a merchant of very considerable riches and influence in the interior. He was on the eve of starting for Tripoli, with really superb presents for the bashaw. He had five hundred slaves, the handsomest that could be procured, besides other things. He stated to us, secretly, that his principal object in going to Tripoli was to obtain the removal of the present sultan of Fezzan; and wished that we should make application to the bashaw for him to accompany us farther into the interior:[xxiii] we were not, however, to hint that the proposition had come from him. Boo-Khaloom said that he should be instantly joined by upwards of one hundred merchants who waited but for his going, and no further escort would be necessary; that he should merely remain a few weeks in Tripoli, and, on his return, we could instantly move on. The substance of all these conversations was transmitted to Colonel Warrington.

Boo-Khaloom left Mourzuk for Tripoli, with his slaves and presents; loading upwards of thirty camels, apparently reconciled to, and upon good terms with, the sultan. It was, however, very well known that Sultan Mustapha had set every engine at work to have Boo-Khaloom’s head taken off on his arrival in Tripoli; and that the other was willing to sacrifice all he was worth to displace and ruin Mustapha in the bashaw’s favour.

It was not till the 18th, that the sultan, after attending the mosque, started for Tripoli; all his camels and suite had marched in divisions, for three days previous,—in slaves he had alone more than one thousand five hundred. He was attended by about ten horsemen, his particular favourites, and four flags were carried before him through the town. The inhabitants complained dreadfully of his avarice, and declared that he had not left a dollar, or an animal worth one, in all Fezzan.

Nothing was now to be done but to make our arrangements for a favourable start the following spring. By the sultan’s departure, every necessary for our proceeding was withdrawn from the spot where we were. Not a camel was to be procured, and every dollar, that he could by any means force from his subjects, was forwarded to Tripoli. To Tripoli, therefore, were we to look for supplies of every kind; and it was decided by us all, that my departure had better follow his as soon as possible.

In pursuance of our determination to represent to the bashaw of Tripoli how necessary it was that something more than promises should be given us for our sterling money, on Monday, the 20th May, I left Mourzuk, with only my own negro servant Barca, three camels, and two Arabs; and, after a most dreary journey of twenty days, over the same uninteresting country I had already traversed,—the more dreary for want of my former companions,—I arrived at Tripoli on the 12th June, where I was received by the consul with his usual hospitality and kindness, and he assigned me apartments in the consulate.

[xxiv]12th.—I requested an immediate audience of the bashaw, which in consequence of the Rhamadan was not granted me until the following evening. The consul, Captain Smyth of the navy, and myself, attended: I represented, in the strongest terms, how greatly we were disappointed at the unexpected and ruinous delay we had experienced in Mourzuk, and requested a specific time being fixed for our proceeding to Bornou; stating, also, that were the answer not satisfactory, I should proceed forthwith to England, and represent to the government how grievously we had been deceived. The bashaw denied having intentionally broken his word, and solemnly declared that the will of God, in visiting the sultan of Fezzan with sickness, had alone prevented our being now on the road to Bornou.

A voyage to Marseilles, on my way to England, was the consequence of our altercation with the bashaw; and the promptitude with which it was decided upon, and carried into effect, by means of a small French vessel which, at the time, most fortunately lay in the harbour, was not without its good effects. The bashaw sent three despatches after me, by three different vessels, to Leghorn, Malta, and the port I had sailed to, which I received in quarantine, informing me, that Boo-Khaloom was appointed with an escort to convey us forthwith to Bornou. This was every thing I wished for; and immediately re-embarking, a seven days’ passage brought me once more to the shores of Barbary. Boo-Khaloom and part of the escort were already at the entrance to the desert; and on the 17th of September we re-entered the pass of Melghra in the Tarhona mountains. Hope and confidence had taken possession of my mind, in the place of anxiety and disappointment; there was now an air of assurance and success in all our arrangements; and I felt my health and spirits increase with this conviction. But little beyond the casualties attendant on desert travelling occurred, previous to our arriving again at Sockna, which we did on the 2d of October.

I found the great failing of my friend, Boo-Khaloom, was pomp and show; and feeling that he was, on this occasion, the bashaw’s representative, he was evidently unwilling that any sultan of Fezzan should exceed him in magnificence. On entering Sockna, his six principal followers, handsomely attired in turbans and fine barracans, and mounted on his best horses, kept near his person, whilst the others, at a little distance, formed the flanks. I rode on his right hand, dressed in my British uniform, with loose Turkish trowsers, a[xxv] red turban, red boots, with a white bornouse over all, as a shade from the sun; and this, though not strictly according to order, was by no means an unbecoming dress. Boo-Khaloom was mounted on a beautiful white Tunisian horse, a present from the bashaw, the peak and rear of the saddle covered with gold, and his housings were of scarlet cloth, with a border of gold six inches broad. His dress consisted of red boots, richly embroidered with gold, yellow silk trowsers, a crimson velvet caftan with gold buttons, a silk benise of sky blue, and a silk sidria underneath: a transparent white silk barracan was thrown lightly over this, and on his shoulders hung a scarlet bornouse with wide gold lace, a present also from the bashaw, which had cost, at least, four hundred dollars; a cashmere shawl turban crowned the whole. In this splendid array, we moved on until, as we approached the gates of the town, the dancing and singing men and women met us; and, amidst these, the shouts and firing of the men, who skirmished before us, and the “loo! loo!” of the women, we entered Sockna.

We found that houses were provided for us in the town; but the kafila bivouacked outside the gates. It had always been our intention to halt at Sockna, for three or four days; and here we expected to be joined by a party of the Megarha Arabs, whom their sheikh, Abdi Smud ben Erhoma, had left us, for the purpose of collecting together. Hoon and Wadan were also to furnish us with another quota. My house consisted of a court-yard eighteen feet square, and a small dark room, leading out of it by two steps: the court, however, was the greater part of the day shaded; and here, on a carpet, I received my visitors. The Arabs, as they arrived, were all sent to me by Boo-Khaloom; and their presentation has a form in it, not much in character with their accustomed rudeness: they all came armed with their long guns; and the same girdle which confines their barracan contains also two long pistols. The chief enters, and salutes, dropping on one knee, and touching the stranger’s right hand with his, which he carries afterwards to his lips; he then says, “Here are my men, who are come to say health to you.” On receiving permission, they approached me, one by one, saluting in the same manner as their chief, who continued to remain at my side: they then sat down, forming a sort of semicircle round me, with their guns upright between their knees; and, after a little time, on the sheikh making a signal, they all quitted the presence.

[xxvi]Boo-Khaloom, who had suffered very considerably from fever, cold, and ague, now became so seriously ill, that our departure was of necessity postponed, and he insisted upon my prescribing for him, saying, “he was quite sure that I could cure him, if it was the will of God that he should live: if not, that nobody could.” His confidence in me gave me some confidence in myself: but alone, with very few medicines, and less skill, my situation was really one of great anxiety; for no one could foresee what might have been the consequence, had any thing serious happened to him while under my hands. He became alarmingly ill, and for two days and nights I had great doubts of his recovery; to my great satisfaction, however, on the third morning, after a night of pain and delirium (and which I had passed in watching by his side), a violent eruption appeared on his skin, with some little moisture, produced by covering him up the whole day with blankets, and suffering no one to come into the room but his favourite female slave. By the evening, he became much better.—Hajamad, or charms, are what the Arabs have most faith in, when they are ill. All the fighis (writers) and maraboots in Sockna were employed on this occasion by my friend’s friends, and one night the tassels of his cap were literally loaded with them. He assured me, when alone, that he had no faith in such things, and smiled when he said his friends would think ill of him, were he to refuse; his faith, however, was stronger than he chose to acknowledge, and entering, unexpectedly, one morning, I found him with a dove that had been just killed and cut open lying on his head, which, as he assured me, was because a very great maraboot had come from Wadan on purpose to perform the operation.

During our stay at Sockna, the marriage of the son of one of the richest inhabitants, Hadgi Mohammed-el-Hair-Trigge, was celebrated in the true Arab style. There is something so rudely chivalric in their ceremonies (so very superior to the dull monotony of a Tripolitan wedding), where from one to five hundred guests, all males, assemble, covered with gold lace, and look at one another, from the evening of one day until daylight the next, that I cannot help describing them.

The morning of the marriage-day (for the ceremony is always performed in the evening, that is, the final ceremony; for they are generally betrothed, and the fatah read, a year before) is ushered in by the music of the town or tribe, consisting of a bagpipe and two small drums, serenading the bride first,[xxvii] and then the bridegroom, who generally walks through the streets very finely dressed, with all the town at his heels; during which time, the women all assemble at the bride’s house, dressed in their finest clothes, and place themselves at the different holes in the wall which serve as windows, and look into the court-yard. When they are so placed, and the bride is in front of one of the windows with her face entirely covered with her barracan, the bridal clothes, consisting of silk shifts, shawls, silk trowsers, and fine barracans, to show her riches, are hung from the top of the house, quite reaching to the ground: the young Arab chiefs are permitted to pay their respects; they are preceded from the skiffa, or entrance, by their music, and a dancing woman or two advances with great form, and with slow steps, to the centre of the court, under the bride’s window: here the ladies salute their visitors, with “loo! loo! loo!” which they return by laying their right hand on their breasts, as they are conducted quite round the circle. Ample time is afforded them to survey the surrounding beauties; and there are but few, who, on these occasions, are so cruel as to keep the veil quite closed. Such an assemblage of bright black eyes, large ear-rings, and white teeth, are but rarely seen in any country, I should suppose. After having made the circuit, the largess is given, and exposed to view by the chief danseuse, and, according to its amount, is the donor hailed and greeted by the spectators. Previous to their departure, all visitors discharge their pistols, and then again the ladies salute with the “loo! loo!” So far from being displeased at my asking permission to pay my respects, they considered it as a favour conferred; and the bridegroom, although he could not himself be admitted, attended me to and from the house of his mistress. This ceremony being ended, a little before sunset, the bride prepares to leave her father’s house: a camel is sent for her with a jaafa[3], or sedan chair of basket-work, on its back, covered with skins of animals, shawls from Soudan, Cairo, and Timbuctoo: she steps into this, and so places herself as to see what is going forward, and yet to be entirely hid from the view of others. She is now conducted outside the town, where all the horsemen and footmen who have arms are assembled. Our escort on this occasion added greatly to the effect, as they were all, by Boo-Khaloom’s order, in the field, consisting of sixty mounted Arabs; and when they all charged and fired at the foot of the bride’s camel, I really[xxviii] felt for the virgin’s situation; but it was thought a great honour, and that, I suppose, consoled her for the fright. They commenced by skirmishing by twos and fours, and charging in sections at full speed, always firing close under the bride’s jaafa: in this manner they proceeded three times round the town, the scene occasionally relieved by a little interlude of the bridegroom’s approaching the camel, which was surrounded by the negresses, who instantly commenced a cry, and drove him away, to the great amusement of the bystanders, exclaiming, “Burra! Burra! be off! be off! mazal shouia! a little yet!” With discharges of musketry, and the train of horsemen, &c. she is then conveyed to the bridegroom’s house; upon which it is necessary for her to appear greatly surprised, and refuse to dismount: the women scream, and the men shout, and she is at length persuaded to enter; when, after receiving a bit of sugar in her mouth from the bridegroom’s hand, and placing another bit in his, with her own fair fingers, the ceremony is finished, and they are declared man and wife.


Drawn by Captn. Clapperton. R.N. Engraved by E. Finden.

Published by John Murray, London. Feb. 1826.

We had now to pass the Gibel Assoud, or Black Mountains: the northernmost part of this basaltic chain commences on leaving Sockna. We halted at Melaghi, or the place of meeting immediately at the foot of the mountain, the well of Agutifa; and from hence probably the most imposing view of these heights will be seen. To the south, the mountain-path of Niffdah presents its black overhanging peaks, and the deep chasm, round which the path winds, bearing a most cavern-like appearance: a little to the west, the camel path, called El Nishka, appears scarcely less difficult and precipitous; the more southern crags close in the landscape, while the foreground is occupied by the dingy and barren wadey of Agutifa, with the well immediately overhung by red ridges of limestone and clay: the whole presenting a picture of barrenness, not to be perfectly described, either by poet or painter.

Large masses of tabular basalt, and irregular precipices, common to this formation, are scattered over this range of hills, and extend over all the plains which environ them. The most lofty hills are those which present the most massive façades of tabular basalt; the sides sometimes exhibit a step-like appearance, and in many instances are overhung by pillars, curved, inclined, and perpendicular: these produce a singular effect, not devoid of grandeur. The lower stratum of all these hills is invariably limestone, mixed with a reddish clay. Hills of the same are found bordering upon, and in some cases[xxix] joining, the basaltic ones; some of these are strewed over with a covering of basalt stones of various sizes and forms, none of them large, from three to eighteen inches in circumference, but still showing the colour and structure of the soil on which they are spread. Other hills of limestone are also indiscriminately found without the slightest particle of basalt on them, although in the immediate vicinity of what could easily be imagined the ancient crater of a volcano, which had showered a sombre covering heaved from the very bowels of the earth, on all the then existing hills and plains which surrounded it. Some of these limestone hills have been cut through, either by the falling of masses of rock from the higher hills, or by violent watercourses; and a section of them reveals nothing but pure limestone mixed with clay.

The Souda, or Gibel Assoud[4], extend from north to south, three days’ journey, but in so winding a direction, as not to exceed thirty-five miles at the utmost in a straight line: to the west, as far as the well called Assela, on the road to the Shiati, where the red clay hills continue alone, and join the hills at Benioleed: to the east, they extend three days on the road to Zella, or Bengagi, to a wadey called Temelleen.

The first four days of our journey, after leaving Agutifa, were all dreariness and misery. This was the third time that I passed these deserts: but no familiarity with the scenery at all relieves the sense of wretchedness which the dread barrenness of the place inspires. We marched from dawn until dark,[xxx] for the sake of getting over them as quickly as possible; and as scarcely sufficient fuel was to be found to boil a little water, a mess of cold tumuta was usually our supper. On leaving Tingazeer, we had the blessing of a rainy day; for such it was to all, but particularly to the poor negroes who accompanied the kafila, although Boo-Khaloom always gave them to drink from his skins once in the day (an unusual kindness), yet marching as they were for twelve and fourteen hours, once scarcely satisfied nature. In consequence of the rain, we found water fresh and pure during almost every day’s march, and arrived at Zeghren[5] with the loss of only one camel. On the last day, previous to arriving at the well, Omhul Abeed, a skeleton of a man, with some flesh still hanging about him, lay close to the road; but it was passed by the whole kafila, with scarcely a remark.

After these dreary wastes, it was no small pleasure to rest a day at Zeghren, the native town of a considerable merchant who accompanied our kafila. When we first left Sockna for Mourzuk, Abdi Zeleel had before taken me to his house, and presented me to his mother and sister; and he now insisted on my taking up my quarters there altogether. Almost the first person that presented herself was my friend the merchant’s sister, I had almost said the fair, Omhal Henna[6]. She had a wooden bowl of haleeb (fresh milk) in her hand, the greatest rarity she could offer, and holding out the milk with some confusion towards me with both her hands, the hood which should have concealed her beautiful features had fallen back; as my taking the milk from her would have prevented the amicable salutation we both seemed prepared for, and which consisted of four or five gentle pressures of the hand, with as many aish harlecks, and tiebs, and ham-dulillahs, she placed the bowl upon the ground, while the ceremonies of greeting, which take a much longer time in an African village than in an English drawing-room, were, by mutual consent, most cordially performed. I really could not help looking at her with astonishment,[xxxi] and I heartily wish that I had the power of conveying an idea of her portrait. It was the Jemma (Friday), the Sabbath, and she was covered, for I cannot call it dressed, with only a blue linen barracan, which passed under one arm, and was fastened on the top of the opposite shoulder with a silver pin, the remaining part thrown round the body behind, and brought over her head as a sort of hood, which, as I remarked, had fallen off, and my having taken her hand when she set down the milk had prevented its being replaced. This accident displayed her jet black hair in numberless plaits all round her expressive face and neck, and her large sparkling eyes and little mouth, filled with the whitest teeth imaginable. She had various figures burnt on her chin with gunpowder: her complexion was a deep brown; and round her neck were eight or ten necklaces of coral and different coloured beads. So interesting a person I had not seen in the country; and on my remaining some moments with my eyes fixed on her, she recommenced the salutation, “How is your health,” &c. and smiling, asked, with great naiveté, “whether I had not learnt, during the last two months, a little more Arabic.” I assured her I had. Looking round to see if any body heard her—and having brought the hood over her face—she said, “I first heard of your coming last night, and desired the slave to mention it to my brother. I have always looked for your coming, and at night, because at night I have sometimes seen you: you were the first man whose hand I ever touched—but they all said it did not signify with you, an Insara (a Christian). God turn your heart!—but my brother says you will never become Moslem—won’t you, to please Abdi Zeleel’s sister? My mother says God would have never allowed you to come, but for your conversion.” By this time, again the hood had fallen back, and I again had taken her hand, when the unexpected appearance of Abdi Zeleel, accompanied by the governor of the town, who came to visit me, was a most unwelcome interruption. Omhal-henna quickly escaped; she had, however, overstepped the line, and I saw her no more.

Besides our own people, and the followers of Boo-Khaloom, we had a number of liberated slaves who were returning to their homes. The bashaw had given freedom to twenty-four from the castle, sixteen of whom were females. Our friend, Mohammed D’Ghies, had also liberated three young women, all under twenty, natives of Begharmi, the evening previous to our leaving Tripoli, telling them, in my presence, that his friends the English wishing to visit their[xxxii] country, was the cause of their being set at liberty. There are circumstances attached to this act of D’Ghies beyond the mere liberation of three healthy negresses, so creditable to the feelings of this excellent old man, that they must not be omitted. Two of these girls only had fallen into his hands, and on his intimating to them his intention of giving them their liberty, they told him that another sister had been brought to Tripoli with them, and sold, like themselves, to slavery; but they knew not what was become of her. Mohammed D’Ghies, after much inquiry, succeeded in finding out who had been the purchaser, paid the price demanded for her liberation, and provided the means for enabling all the sisters to return together to their own country with Boo-Khaloom.

On the 20th October, in a date grove a short distance from the town of Temenhint, we found a kafila from Mourzuk, and some of the Mamelukes who had come from Darfoor and Waday. I visited them with Boo-Khaloom: their tents scarcely held together, and they gave a deplorable account of their sufferings: two of them had been beys, and one, Mohammed Bey, was still in the prime of life, and conversed with spirit; the other, Ali Bey, appeared weighed down by his misfortunes, and was between fifty and sixty years of age: they had left Cairo fifteen years, and had passed the greater part of their exile in and near Dongala. On the approach of the army of Mohammed Ali, three hundred and fifty of them mustered at Dongala, and determined on passing to Kordofan, and from thence to Darfoor. At Darfoor they refused to receive them, and they then moved on to Wara, the capital of Waday, where also they were refused permission to remain. For four months they had been in great distress, the Waday people refusing to sell them any thing for themselves, or forage for their horses, all of which they were consequently obliged to part with: taking slaves for them, which they again exchanged for ostrich feathers, and any thing they could get. At Waday, all but twenty-six determined on proceeding to the south; they, however, afterwards altered their minds, and took the direction of the army of Mohammed Ali, meaning to claim protection there. The twenty-six left Waday just before the Rhamadan (May), and followed the tracks of camels until they came to a kafila of Fezzaneers proceeding to Mourzuk: this kafila they joined; but in passing through the Tibboo Borgoo country, one of their camels strayed and tore a branch from a date tree, for which the Borgoo people beat and wounded one[xxxiii] of the Mameluke slaves: this was resented by the Mamelukes, and a quarrel ensued, which the Fezzaneers in vain attempted to arrange. They also became sufferers: the Borgoo people attacked and followed the kafila for five days, during which time twenty of the Mamelukes were killed, and thirteen of the Fezzaneers; the six remaining Mamelukes were now on their way to Tripoli, in the hope of obtaining from the bashaw permission to pass the remainder of their lives in his regency: they had lost forty thousand dollars since leaving Egypt.

Mohammed Bey describes the people of Borgoo and Waday as savages of the worst description, abhorring even the sight of a white man. I told him it was my intention to proceed in the direction of Darfoor, if possible: he replied, placing my hand in Boo-Khaloom’s, “Do not leave this good man, Sidi-Rais, if you hope to return.”—But rarely a kafila passes from Dongala to Darfoor; to Bornou, never. The army of Egypt had been repulsed with considerable loss at Darfoor; the people of which country, Mohammed Bey said, could muster one hundred thousand men, armed, in the field, equipped with artillery and mortars. The beys of Egypt had sent the King of Darfoor, many years ago, eight pieces of ordnance; they had made others, and worked them, as well as the people of Egypt themselves. The army had gone south, and meant to over-run all the Kordofan, when it was thought, if they had no reinforcement, that they would return to Egypt: with their present strength, they could do nothing with Darfoor, but the people of Darfoor wished for peace with Mohammed Ali, and feared him; on this account it was that they would not receive the Mamelukes. Affecting my own plans so materially as this information appeared to do, it was listened to by me with the deepest interest.

On Thursday, the 24th of October, we halted at Sebha, and remained there until Saturday the 26th, gathering our escort and collecting our supplies.

On Wednesday, the 30th October, we made our entrée into Mourzuk with all the parade and show that we could muster. By Boo-Khaloom’s presents to the bashaw, but chiefly on account of his having undertaken to conduct us to Bornou, he had not only gained the bashaw’s favour, but had left Tripoli with strong proofs of his master’s consideration. Boo-Khaloom, naturally liberal, had, by successful trade, been enabled early in life to gratify his charitable and benevolent inclinations. This made him so popular in Mourzuk, that nearly half the inhabitants came out to meet him, at a short distance from the town,[xxxiv] although not any of the authorities, and we entered the gates amidst the shouts of the people, preceded by singing and dancing women; and the Arabs who formed our escort made such repeated charges upon their jaded and tired animals, that I really expected some of them would “fall to rise no more.” No living creatures can be treated worse than an Arab’s wife and his horse, and if plurality could be transferred from the marriage bed to the stable, both wives and horses would be much benefited by the change.

I could not quite resist a sensation of disappointment that no friends came out to meet me: but as the sun was insufferably powerful, and as I had received a message by Boo-Khaloom’s brother, from Doctor Oudney, that he was unwell, and that Clapperton had the ague, I did not much expect it; I was, however, by no means prepared to see either of them so much reduced as they were. Both my companions and Hillman I found had been confined to their beds with hemma (fever and ague), had been delirious, and the Doctor and Hillman only a little recovered. Clapperton was still on his bed, which for fifteen days he had not quitted. Doctor Oudney was suffering also from a severe complaint in his chest, arising from a cold caught during his excursion to Ghraat, and nothing could be more disheartening than their appearance. The opinion of every body, Arabs, Tripolines, and our predecessors, were unanimous as to the insalubrity of its air. To account physically for the sickliness of the place, was beyond the powers of wiser medical heads than mine, but facts are stubborn things. Mr. Ritchie had fatally felt the baneful influence of the climate of Mourzuk, and Captain Lyon had suffered extremely during his stay there: every one of us, some in a greater or less degree, had been seriously disordered; and amongst the inhabitants themselves, any thing like a healthy looking person was a rarity.

Notwithstanding Boo-Khaloom made every exertion in his power to get away from Mourzuk as early as possible, yet, from the numerous arrangements which it was necessary for him to make, for the provisioning so many persons during a journey through a country possessing no resources, it was the 29th November before those arrangements were complete. Doctor Oudney and Mr. Clapperton, from a most praiseworthy impatience to proceed on their journey, and at the same time, thinking their health might be benefited by the change of air, preceded him to Gatrone by ten days. I had remained behind to urge Boo-Khaloom and expedite his departure, and we thought by[xxxv] these means to obviate any wish which he might have to delay on account of his private affairs, even for a day. Our caution was, however, needless; no man could be more anxious to obey the orders he had received, and forward our views, than himself: indeed so peremptory had been the commands of the bashaw, in consequence of the representations of our consul general, when complaining of former procrastination, that Boo-Khaloom’s personal safety depended on his expedition, and of this he was well aware.

It may not be unacceptable to the reader, if I here give some account of the strength of our party.

I had succeeded in engaging, on my return to Tripoli, as an attendant to accompany me to Bornou, a native of the island of St. Vincent, whose real name was Adolphus Sympkins; but who, in consequence of his having run away from home, and in a merchant vessel traversed half the world over, had acquired the name of Columbus; he had been several years in the service of the bashaw, spoke three European languages, and perfect Arabic. This person was of the greatest service to the mission, and so faithful an attendant, that His Majesty’s government have since employed him to accompany my former companion and colleague, Captain Clapperton, on the arduous service he is now engaged in: we had besides three free negroes, whom we had hired in Tripoli as our private servants; Jacob, a Gibraltar Jew, who was a sort of store-keeper; four men to look after our camels; and these, with Mr. Hillman and ourselves, made up the number of our household to thirteen persons. We were also accompanied by several merchants from Mesurata, Tripoli, Sockna, and Mourzuk, who gladly embraced the protection of our escort to proceed to the interior with their merchandize.

The Arabs in the service of the bashaw of Tripoli, by whom we were to be escorted to Bornou, and on whose good conduct our success almost wholly depended, were now nearly all assembled, and had been chosen from the most obedient tribes; they gained considerably in our good opinion, each day we became better acquainted with them: they were not only a great and most necessary protection to us, breaking the ground as we were for any Europeans who might follow our steps, but enlivened us greatly on our dreary desert way by their infinite wit and sagacity, as well as by their poetry, extempore and traditional. We had several amongst our party who shone as orators in verse, to use the idiom of their own expressive language, particularly one of the tribe[xxxvi] of Boo Saiff Marabooteens, or gifted persons, who would sing for an hour together, faithfully describing the whole of our journey for the preceding fortnight, relating the most trifling occurrence that had happened, even to the name of the well, and the colour and taste of the water, with astonishing rapidity and humour, and in very tolerable poetry; while some of his traditionary ballads were beautiful. The names of the chiefs who were to accompany us were as follows:—

Of the tribe of M’Garha, Sheikh Abdi Smud ben Erhoma, from the Syrtis, with seventy men. He often said that his father’s name was renowned in song, for having killed one hundred men with his own hand in battle, and please God! he should exceed him, for he was but thirty-five, and had brought forty to the ground already.

The M’Garhas are at this time in great favour with the bashaw, and entirely exempt from tribute of any sort, from having assisted him very materially in annihilating the Waled Suleyman: I must, therefore, give some account of them.

They principally inhabit the Syrtis, where a considerable body always remain; tribes of them, with their flocks, pitch their tents for the months of pasture wherever they can find forage, and in times of peace even to within a few leagues of Tripoli. When the present bashaw determined on putting a finishing stroke to the Waled Suleyman, by the extermination of the tribe, he, like a wily politician, sent offers of peace and protection to the M’Garha, the ancient and inveterate enemies of the Seffenusser[7]. In their occasional skirmishes, no quarter was given; and a Waled Suleyman literally sucked the blood of a M’Garha, after giving him the finishing blow: children were even called upon to follow the parent’s example, so that they might imbibe all the hatred felt by their ancestors, and vice versa. The tribe of M’Garha readily accepted the bashaw’s offers; and with their assistance, about six years back, the Waled Suleyman struggled with the power of the bashaw for the last time. It was near the borders of Fezzan, in one of those extensive upland plains called Hormut Mahulla, that the grandsons of Seffenusser, the last of the house, returned from Egypt, and headed the remaining followers of their ancestors. The Orfilly, and several other tribes, flocked to the standard: the M’Garha[xxxvii] marched from the eastward to assist the bashaw, who came from the side of Tripoli; the rebels were surrounded, and the Orfilly capitulated, promising an enormous tribute. No terms were, however, granted to the Waled Suleyman; they were followed with fire and sword to their very huts—Seffenusser’s children fell into the hands of their enemies; they were, however, spared, and two of them sent to Mourzuk. Since that time, the name of Waled Suleyman is scarcely breathed; indeed the tribe has ceased to exist, with the exception of some few who escaped to Egypt. A solitary being, who thinks himself unobserved, is sometimes pointed out to you as having been one; but his misery protects him. So complete an overthrow of the most numerous tribe that inhabited the regency of Tripoli, and one whose riches and influence were so well known, has had the effect of humbling the turbulent spirit of the Arabs to a wonderful degree: the bashaw rules them literally with a rod of iron, and for the slightest cause he has the heads of their sheikhs over the gates of his palace in a few hours. He makes it his policy to keep up their feuds and ancient enmities, by which means he prevents that unanimity which might make them dangerous. The name of Seffenusser is, however, still the tocsin of revolt; it is in itself a thousand strong; and the bravery displayed by Abdi Zeleel, the eldest survivor of the name, during the late campaign in the negro country, has not a little contributed to strengthen the feeling.

Abdallah Bougeel, a chief and a warrior, from the Shiati, whose father and grandfather died because they would not fly; who never attended to flocks, but were chief in fight—twenty men.

Sheikh Sultan ben Kaid, from the Shiati, a great warrior, who had a terrible wound in his face, which had nearly demolished his nose, from the sword of a Tuarick—ten men.

Hamed el Geide, Shiati—ten men.

Hamed Bendou el Hothmani, Shiati—ten men.

Sheikh Boo Bucker Saakhi, Shiati—ten men.

Salem Asheneen Hashnuowy, Shiati—thirty men.

The Maraboot Sid Hassan ben Eran—ten men.

Il R’baiah—ten men.

Boo Ahgoom, Osfilly—twenty men.

Futhaem—ten men.

[xxxviii]Arabs are generally thin meagre figures, though possessing expressive and sometimes handsome features, great violence of gesture and muscular action. Irritable and fiery, they are unlike the dwellers in towns and cities: noisy and loud, their common conversational intercourse appears to be a continual strife and quarrel; they are, however, brave, eloquent, and deeply sensible of shame. I have known an Arab of the lower class refuse his food for days together, because in a skirmish his gun had missed fire: to use his own words, “Gulbi wahr,” “My heart aches;” “Bindikti kedip hashimtni gedam el naz;” “My gun lied, and shamed me before the people.” Much has been said of their want of cleanliness; I should, however, without hesitation, pronounce them to be much more cleanly than the lower order of people in any European country. Circumcision, and the shaving the hair from the head, and every other part of the body; the frequent ablutions which their religion compels them to perform; all tend to enforce practices of cleanliness. Vermin, from the climate of their country, they, as well as every other person, must be annoyed with; and although the lower ranks have not the means of frequently changing their covering (for it scarcely can be called apparel), yet they endeavour to free themselves as much as possible from the persecuting vermin. Their mode of dress has undergone no change for centuries back; and the words of Fenelon will at this day apply with equal truth to their present appearance[8].

The fondness of an Arab for traditional history of the most distinguished actions of their remote ancestors is proverbial: professed story-tellers are ever the appendages to a man of rank: his friends will assemble before his tent, or on the platforms with which the houses of the Moorish Arabs are roofed, and there listen, night after night, to a continued history for sixty, or sometimes one hundred nights together. It is a great exercise of genius, and a peculiar gift, held in high estimation amongst them. They have a quickness and clearness of delivery, with a perfect command of words, surprising to a European ear: they never hesitate, are never at a loss; their descriptions are highly poetical, and their relations exemplified by figure and metaphor, the[xxxix] most striking and appropriate: their extempore songs are also full of fire, and possess many beautiful and happy similes. Certain tribes are celebrated for this gift of extempore speaking and singing; the chiefs cultivate the propensity in their children; and it is often possessed, to an astonishing degree, by men who are unable either to read or write.

Arabic songs go to the heart, and excite greatly the passions: I have seen a circle of Arabs straining their eyes with a fixed attention at one moment, and bursting with loud laughter; at the next, melting into tears, and clasping their hands in all the ecstacy of grief and sympathy.

Their attachment to pastoral life is ever favourable to love. Many of these children of the desert possess intelligence and feeling, which belong not to the savage; accompanied by an heroic courage, and a thorough contempt of every mode of gaining their livelihood, except by the sword and gun. An Arab values himself chiefly on his expertness in arms and horsemanship, and on hospitality.

Hospitality was ever habitual to them. At this day, the greatest reproach to an Arab tribe is, “that none of their men have the heart to give, nor their women to deny.” Nor does this feeling of liberality alone extend to the chiefs, or Arabs of high birth: I have known the poor and wandering Bedouin to practise a degree of charity and hospitality far beyond his means, from a sense of duty alone.

Notwithstanding all the savageness of an Arab, there are sometimes noble thoughts which seem to cross over his powerful mind; and then again to leave him choked up with weeds of too strong a growth to be rooted out.

The M’Garha sheikhs were, after the defeat of Waled Suleyman, all taken into the bashaw’s service; and are now amongst his most faithful and favoured followers. Abdi Zeleel ben Seffenusser, upon his submission, had been assigned some portion of his grandsire’s extensive lands at Sebha in Fezzan; and on his being ordered to repair with a certain number of camels to Mourzuk, and to accompany the Sultan of Fezzan into the negro country, he was reported to have delayed obeying the order: his enemies attributed his reluctance to disaffection and want of courage. The bashaw’s judgment was summary; and Hamet Ghreneim, the brother of my chaoush, was despatched with a letter to Abdi Zeleel, and orders to stab him while he read it, and return with his head. The[xl] M’Garha had five hundred miles to ride, previous to executing his bloody commission; and, by his account to me, it was the sixteenth of the same kind that he had been intrusted with: he seldom failed either in the execution or in receiving the reward, which always follows: “they were his master’s orders—with Bis milla! (in God’s name) he struck, and struck home!” His victim, in this case, was of more consequence than any of his former ones, and his reward would have been greater in proportion: Hamet was withal the descendant of the old enemy of his clan; but there was still some magic in the name of the Seffenusser. They were a race of heroes—cowardice could not be a crime for any of the blood to be guilty of; and the chance of being strangled on his return appeared to him preferable to assassinating Abdi Zeleel, and he determined on hesitating before he executed the bashaw’s orders. On arriving at the hut of the Arab chief, notwithstanding his fallen state, friends enough remained to warn him of his approaching fate: he met Hamet at the door, kissed the signet of the bashaw, and desired him to perform his office; adding, “You are a M’Garha, and an enemy to our house.” “I am,” replied the other, “and therefore not capable of assassinating a Seffenusser: if you are guilty, fly—mine be the risk.”

Cowardice is ever visited in an Arab by the most disgraceful punishments; he is often bound, and led through the huts of the whole tribe, with the bowels and offal of a bullock, or some other animal, tied round his head; and amongst a people who only desire to be rich in order to increase the number of their wives, probably the greatest punishment of all is, that could even any woman be found who would receive him as a husband, which would be an extraordinary circumstance, no Arab would allow him to enter into his family with such a stain on his character as cowardice.

The amor patriæ discoverable in even the wildest inhabitant of the most barren rock is not felt by the wandering Arab, or the Moor. He wanders from pasture to pasture, from district to district, without any local attachment; and his sole delight is a roving, irregular, but martial life. I have met with several, mostly Moors of Mesurata and Sockna, who have made three times the pilgrimage to Mecca; visited severally all the ports in the Red Sea; had been in Syria, from St. Jean d’Acre to Antioch; had traded to Smyrna and Constantinople, visiting Cyprus, Rhodes, and most of the islands in the Archipelago;[xli] had penetrated to the west of Nyffe, in Soudan, and every other part of the black country; had been two or three times stripped and robbed of every thing in the Negro country, escaping only with life, after receiving several wounds. Some of them had not seen their families for fifteen or twenty years, yet were still planning new expeditions, with as much glee as if they were just beginning life, instead of tottering on the brink of death.

Arabs have always been commended by the ancients for the fidelity of their attachments, and they are still scrupulously exact to their words, and respectful to their kindred; they have been universally celebrated for their quickness of apprehension and penetration, and the vivacity of their wit. Their language is certainly one of the most ancient in the world; but it has many dialects. The Arabs, however, have their vices and their defects; they are naturally addicted to war, bloodshed, and cruelty; and so malicious as scarcely ever to forget an injury.

Their frequent robberies committed on traders and travellers, have rendered the name of an Arab almost infamous in Europe. Amongst themselves, however, they are most honest, and true to the rites of hospitality; and towards those whom they receive as friends into their camp, every thing is open, and nothing ever known to be stolen: enter but once into the tent of an Arab, and by the pressure of his hand he ensures you protection, at the hazard of his life. An Arab is ever true to his bread and salt; once eat with him, and a knot of friendship is tied which cannot easily be loosened.

Arabs have been truly described as a distinct class of mankind. In the bashaw’s dominions, they have never been entirely subdued: violent attempts at subjugation have often deprived them of tracts of their vast territories; whole tribes have been annihilated; but, as a people, they have ever remained independent and free.

The few fertile spots of scanty verdure, called “oases,” which now and then refresh the languid senses of the weary traveller, and which are desolate, beyond the wildest wastes of European land, are the tracts inhabited by the eastern Arabs. Masses of conglomerated sand obstruct the path which leads to these oases or wadeys; nothing relieves the eye, as it stretches over the wide expanse, except where the desert scene is broken by a chain of bleak and barren mountains: no cooling breezes freshen the air: the sun descends in overpowering[xlii] force: the winds scorch as they pass; and bring with them billows of sand, rolling along in masses frightfully suffocating, which sometimes swallow up whole caravans and armies, burying them in their pathless depths!

“Their hapless fate unknown!”


[1]Benioleed, a rich valley, bounded on all sides by whitish brown hills, capped in many places with green stone and amygdaloid, or vesicular lava, rugged villages, and ruinous castles, on every point, some overtopping the columnar green stone, and scarcely distinguishable from it.

The hills possess a very interesting structure. The height does not exceed 400 feet, and limestone is the prevailing rock. On the north side the whole of the range, till within a mile of the western extremity, is limestone: at that point above the limestone is a thick bed of columnar greenstone, with thick layers of vesicular lava.

On the southern side, most of the hills have their tops covered with lava and columnar green stone, and have a structure similar to that of the one I have delineated. A little difference is here and there observable, but not so much as to be worthy of notice. The tops of the hills on this side form an extensive, black, dreary-looking plain, strewed over with loose stones, extending eastwardly as far as the eye can discern. The upper, or, as I would call it, the lavaceous crust, appears as if a layer left by a flowing fluid, and therefore of more recent formation than the rock on which it rests. This is seldom more than a few feet in thickness, and spread over the subjacent rock.

The rocks dip in various directions, but generally at an angle of 18°.

The Jibel Gulat is one of the highest hills we have yet come to. It is about six hundred feet high: its top is tabular, and its sides exceedingly rugged, from an amazing number of detached pieces. The lowest exposed stratum is a calcareous tufa, containing, or indeed almost formed of sea-shells; the most abundant are a species of oyster and limpet, in a very entire state. Above, beds of soft carbonate of lime, like whiting, and falling into dust on the slightest touch, and in which is imbedded a large quantity of lamellar calcareous spar. Above, and apparently extending to the summit, tolerably fine marble. The quantity of debris, and the size and appearance of the masses, might make one believe that an earthquake had been the cause of that rent state; but it appears to me more probable that the undermining, by the mouldering of the soft stratum underneath, accounts well for the state and appearance of the side of the hill. The hill is about three miles long, and runs from east to west. It is inhabited by a solitary family; a man, his wife, and several children. We were told that he had resided in this dreary and barren place for eleven years, and it is said lives chiefly by plunder.

Near Niffud, the hills are of lime, and in structure and form not unlike those of the Tarhona range.

In the vicinity of the long range there are a number of small conical hills, of a soft whiting-like substance, appearing as if recently thrown up, although, from every thing around, that is not at all probable. The range runs parallel to that near the coast; but we had no opportunity of determining how far it extends to the eastward and westward. There are several passes, into one of which we entered. It is rugged, from the number of masses that have fallen from the sides of the hills. Several tumuli of stones are observable, marking the burial-places of unfortunate travellers, who have been murdered here, it was said, by large rocks rolled from the overhanging heights. When I was examining the rocks, in the dry bed of a river, these monuments were pointed out, to make me aware my presence there was not free from danger. This led to a valley, with some thick groves of acacias, and a plant like a mespilus, with pleasant small astringent berries: it is called by the natives butomo. From this we passed over a low hill, into the valley Niffud. This valley has been the seat of much fighting, as our conductors informed us, among the Arabs of different tribes.

We left the valley, by a pass to the southward, and entered an extensive plain, named Ambulum: in this we travelled the whole day. The surface, in some places, a firm sand, with here and there rocky eminences, and patches of gravel: the latter was fine, and mixed with fragments of shells. Often, for a considerable extent, not the least vestige of vegetation; and in no place was the ground completely covered, except in a few small oases, where there was a species of grass, of the genus festuca. The feniculum duter, and a beautiful genista, which extends all the way from the coast, were common. The butum occurred in abundance, and its shade was a defence to us at times. We found some beautiful fragments of striped jasper, and some small pieces of cornelian.

Bonjem.—We had no opportunity of examining any of these; but from the strewed masses they appear to be limestone. The wadey of Bonjem has characters different from any of the other valleys we have passed through. This valley is strewed over with gypsum in different states, with numerous shells, of the genus pecten, and several terebrellæ. There are here and there sand, and many incrustations of the carbonate, mixed with crystals of the sulphate, of lime, that gives to the surface a shining white appearance, which, in place of being pleasing, is disagreeable, by the power of the reflected light. There are small ranges of low hills, composed of soft white chalk (whiting), covered with a crust of gypsum. In this structure we found one large pit, about forty feet deep, and nearly as much in diameter. These low hills are bounded by much higher, and of a dark brown colour: the low hills are numerous, some are separate, but in general they are in short ridges, and have, at a distance, very much the appearance of fortifications. A small senecio, a geranium, and a statice, were the principal beings of the vegetable creation. Barometer 30.020. temperature 72.

Near the wells, the arundo phragmites grows in abundance; it has long creeping roots, the first true roots of that kind I have seen in North Africa. Plants of this kind would soon make considerable encroachments on the desert, and render habitable where it is difficult even to travel over. This quarter is poor in the grasses, for I think I have not seen above eight different kinds. Our course was among sand-hills, and over a gravelly road, strewed with masses of common opal, with small portions of botroidal iron ore, and thick layers of gypsum, with their edges appearing above ground. The low hills presented the same features as those near which we remained in the wadey: one, detached on the road, had a curious appearance, and was called, by the natives, “The Bowl of Bazeen.” It is about forty feet high, and formed above of a calcareous crust, with sulphate of lime, and below of soft chalk.

The higher ridge was observable on each side of us, running south-south-east on the east side, and south-south-west on the west: some of those to the westward have detached hills, and one has the name of the “Salt Hill.” W. O.

[2]Captain Lyon’s travelling name.

[3]This is only called jaafa when a bride is conveyed in it—at other times a caramood.

[4]Gibel Assoud and the hills on this side have the same name. The valley is bounded on both sides by hills, from 400 to 600 feet high—tops in general tabular; but a few are irregular, and two or three end in conical peaks; the sides of all are covered with much debris. The colour of the hills gives a very peculiar character to the valley; the tops of a shining black, as if covered over with black lead, that often extends some way down the sides, which are of a light brown, mixed with a dirty yellow: this is often observable in patches in the black, which gives to the whole a very striking appearance. The lower strata are limestone, of a yellowish colour, almost entirely formed of marine remains: this, although hard, is easily acted on by the air, and the exposed surface mouldering away leaves cavities in the rock, which, undermining the superincumbent ones, gives rise to the quantity of detached fragments. There are several thin strata of earthy gypsum: above that, limestone, with a fine fibrous-looking external surface, something like wood: this has the jingling sound of burnt lime; above is the shining basalt, of a fine texture, mixed with amygdaloid.

About six miles from where we halted, are a range of low white hills, running about west by north, of the same name as the plains. The top is a fine shining white, from thick beds of a milk-white marble, the base of porphyritic limestone. W. O.

[5]The hills of Zeghren opened: a low range, running nearly east and west; their appearance different from any we had yet seen, long, oval, and truncated at the top—colour black, with white streaks.

About the same time a detached rock came in view: it was about a hundred feet high, and 200 from the land from which we descended.

This is the geological structure of the neighbouring land, which has at no very distant period been joined to this. W. O.

[6]The mother of peace.

[7]The name of their sheikh or chief; also often used when speaking of the tribe.

[8]Leurs habits sont aisés à faire, car en ce doux climat on ne porte qu’une piece d’étoffe fine et lègère, qui n’est point taillée et que chacun met à longs plis autour de son corps pour la modestie; lui donnant la forme qu’il veut.



Saturday, June 8, 1822.—At a little after sunrise departed from Mourzuk. Lieutenant Clapperton, Mr. William Hillman and I were accompanied by Hadje Ali, brother of Ben Bucher, Ben Khullum, Mahommed Neapolitan Mamelouk, and Mahomet, son of our neighbour Hadje Mahmud. It was our intention to have proceeded direct to Ghraat, and laboured hard to accomplish our object. Obstacle after obstacle was thrown in our way, by some individuals in Mourzuk. Several came begging us not to go, as the road was dangerous, and the people not at all under the bashaw’s control. We at length hired camels from a Targee, Hadje Said; but only to accompany us as far as the Wadey Ghrurby.

Our course was over sands skirted with date trees; ground strewed with fragments of calcareous crust, with a vitreous surface, from exposure to the weather. About mid-day, after an exhausting journey from oppressive heat, we arrived at El Hummum, a straggling village, the houses of which are mostly constructed of palm leaves. We remained till the sun was well down, and then proceeded on our course. The country had the same character. At eight we arrived at Tessouwa.

The greater number of inhabitants are Tuaricks. They have a warlike[xliv] appearance, a physiognomy and costume different from the Fezzaneers. More than a dozen muzzled up faces were seated near our tent, with every one’s spear stuck in the ground before him. This struck us forcibly, from being very different from what we had been accustomed to see. The Arab is always armed, in his journey, with his long gun and pistols; but there is something more imposing in the spear, dagger, and broad straight sword.

About eight, we departed: several wadeys in our course, with numerous small acacias, a few gravelly and sandy plains, and two or three low white alluvial hills. About three, halted at a well of good water.

Our course lay over an extensive high plain, with a long range of hills, running nearly east and west. Distance, about fourteen miles. We entered them by a pass which runs north and south, in which are numerous recesses, evidently leading to more extensive wadeys. Before reaching the hills, we found some people digging a well. It was about a hundred feet deep.

The hills are at about a hundred yards’ distance. Their form is that of a table top, with a peak here and there. The structure sandstone, finely stratified with beds of blue and white pipeclay, and alum slate.

The pass led to another, the finest we have seen, and the only part approaching to the sublime we have beheld in Fezzan. It is rugged and narrow; its sides high, and overhanging in some places. The whole exposed rock is a slaty sandstone, with thin strata of alum slate. The path has several trunks of petrified trees, with branches going out from them; the stem very similar to the acacia. They appear as if precipitated from the top. Near the end of the pass, the Wadey Ghrurby opens, with groves of date palms, and high sand hills. The change is sudden and striking; and instead of taking away, added to the effect of the pass we were descending. The hills from the wadey have rugged, irregular, peaked tops, as if produced by some powerful cause; although it appeared, on examination, that all was produced by the mouldering away of the lower strata.

The hills are composed of thick beds of blue clay, alternating with sandstone, beds of alum slate, and thick strata of porphyritic clay stone, and all the tops of finely stratified sandstone.

Wednesday, June 12. Moved up the valley for about four miles, and halted at a small town, Kharaik, having passed two in our course. Valley, fine[xlv] groves of palm trees, with cultivated patches; water good, depth of the wells as about Mourzuk; hills bound the valley on the south side, and sand hills on the north. The number of date trees in the eastern and western division of the valley is said to be 340,000. The first division, or Wadey Shirgi, extends from near Seba to within a few miles of Thirtiba; the other, from the termination of Shirgi to Aubari.

In the evening saw some of the preparatory steps for a marriage. The woman belonged to this, and the man to the next town. A band of musicians, accompanied by all the women of the village, dancing and singing, with every now and then a volley of musketry. One woman carried a basket on her head, for the purpose of collecting gomah, to form a feast and pay the musicians. They came from the village of the bridegroom, which was about a mile distant. The marriage was not to take place till the feast after Rhamadan.

There are very few plants here. A species of asclepias, with milky juice; the agoul, apparently a species of ulex, has a fine red papilionaceous flower; species, with small obovate leaves, pod small and obtuse at the apex. A species of sweet-smelling rue, and two other plants in fruit, one like a veronica, and the other I have not seen a similar one before.

Friday, June 14. Rain sometimes falls in the valley, sufficient to overflow the surface, and form mountain torrents. But it has no regular periods; five, eight, and nine years frequently intervening between each time. Thus no trust can be placed in the occurrence of rain, and no application made in agricultural concerns. The sheikh of this town is Ali, a good natured Tiboo, exceedingly poor, but very attentive, and always in good humour. The place is so poor, that we had sometimes to wait half a day before we could get a couple of fowls, or a feed of dates or barley for our horses. We are in hourly expectation of camels from friends of Hateeta, for the purpose of conveying us to Ghraat.

There are a number of ants, of a species different from any I have seen in North Africa. Colour, a light shining brown, speckled with a silvery white, a strong pair of nippers, like the large claws of a crab. They run with great swiftness.

Saturday, June 15. No camels have arrived, and we are obliged to remain; much against our inclination. Hateeta was conversing yesterday on the difficulty[xlvi] we experienced in getting away from Mourzuk, from obstacles thrown in our way by the people. He said that the dread they had of the Tuaricks was unfounded, and we would soon be convinced of it. He further added, that he could, by his influence alone, conduct us in perfect safety to Timbuctoo, and would answer with his head. He was indignant at the feelings the people of Mourzuk had against the Tuaricks, who, he said, pride themselves in having but one word, and performing what they promise.

Sunday, June 16. Our camels have not yet arrived; but we were able to hire two from one Mahomet El Buin, and with these we proceeded on to Germa. Our course lay along the wadey, which grew finer and finer as we advanced, the number of gummah and gussub fields and date groves increasing. The hills formed some small recesses; the tops of most were level, and all of the same height. Passed several villages built all in the same manner. Notwithstanding the nearness and fitness of the stone, the salt mould is preferred; perhaps from the want of lime, and the ease with which the house is erected. Another thing: so very little rain falls, that there is no danger of the fabric falling. Near Break passed some imperfect inscriptions, apparently Arabic.

About eleven arrived at Germa, a larger town than any in the wadey, but both walls and houses have the marks of time. We waited in the house of the kaid till our camels came up. The sheikh, Mustapha ben Ussuf, soon visited us. He is an old man, a Fezzaneer, dark complexion, arch of nose small, tip depressed, and alæ expanded, lips a little thick, but mouth not large, hair black, and from the appearance of the beard, woolly. His ancestors are natives of this place; and his features may be considered as characteristic of the natives of Fezzan.

Monday, June 17. We had many accounts of inscriptions being here, which the people could not read. We were conducted to-day by Sheikh Mustapha to examine a building, different, as he stated, from any in the country. When we arrived, we found, to our satisfaction, it was a structure which had been erected by the Romans.

There were no inscriptions to be found, although we carefully turned up a number of the stones strewed about, but a few figures and letters rudely hewn out, and evidently of recent date. We imagined we could trace some resemblance[xlvii] to the letters of Europe, and conjectured that they had been hewn out by some European traveller at no very distant period. Our thoughts naturally went back to Hornemann; but again we had no intelligence of his having been here. In short, to confess the truth, we did not know what to make of them, till we afterwards made the discovery of the Targee writing. This building is about twelve feet high, and eight broad. It is built of sandstone, well finished, and dug from the neighbouring hills. Its interior is solid, and of small stones, cemented by mortar. It stands about three miles from Germa, and a quarter of a mile from the foot of the mountain. It is either a tomb or an altar: those well acquainted with Roman architecture, will easily determine which. The finding a structure of these people proves, without doubt, their intercourse here. It is probable they had no extensive establishment; otherwise we should see more remains. As we went along we passed by, and saw to the westward, the remains of ancient Germa. It appeared to occupy a space more extensive than the present town. We were not able to learn from the old sheikh whether any old coins were ever found, or any building similar to this, in the vicinity. Was this the track merely of the Romans into the interior, or did they come to the valley for dates?

Tuesday, June 18. Hateeta arrived during the night; but our departure was delayed on account of his being sick. He has a severe fever, and it is likely it may be of some continuance. The ague is very prevalent in the wadey; and, if we can believe the natives, the water is a very powerful agent in inducing bilious affection. The town is surrounded by a ditch, now nearly dry, and its site covered with a thick crust of the muriate of soda, evidently containing a large quantity of the muriate and sulphate of magnesia. This crust extends to a considerable distance from the town, and is five or six inches thick in several places. There are several wells, not two feet deep, containing excellent water. The date trees are close to the vicinity of the town, and most are heavily loaded with fruit. It is lamentable to see the number of houses in ruin, and the marks of poverty in the dress of the inhabitants. We could scarcely get a fowl to buy; and a sheep was out of the question.

Wednesday, June 19. Struck our tents at daylight, and commenced our journey about seven. We now sent our horses home, under charge of my servant Adam, and set out on foot. We intended mounting the camels; but[xlviii] the loads were so ill arranged, that we could not venture as yet. Our course lay through groves of date trees growing on the salt plain. These extended for about four miles; and two miles farther west was a small Arab town. We saw several of the Arabs as we passed along; but merely gave the usual compliments. The country for several miles was a loose sand, and heavy travelling for those on foot. The hills of the same shape, forming several large bays, with projecting headlands; the sides, to within fifty or sixty feet of the top, having gentle but rugged ascents; but above almost perpendicular. We passed three wells, one about fifty feet deep, temp. 22. 6. at which two women were watering goats belonging to Tuaricks. The other two were holes in the ground; the water of all good. We halted about an hour under the shades of date trees, waiting for the camels. I then mounted, and about three, entered the date groves of Oubari, where we halted. Hateeta joined us in the evening, with considerable fever. We had numerous Tuarick visitors, some residents of the town, and others belonging to a kafila about to depart for the Tuarick country. They are an independent-looking race. They examine with care every thing they see, and are not scrupulous in asking for different articles, such as tobacco, powder, and flints. The sheikh, and a number of the other inhabitants of the town, soon came out; and he procured what we wished.

Thursday, June 20.—Intended starting this morning; but the camel-men did not come forward with their camels. Hateeta still very ill. Took advantage of our detention to visit the neighbouring hills. One part appeared at a distance as an artificial excavation, which disappeared as we approached; and we found it to be a smooth surface, with a portion so removed, as to give rise to the delusion.

In ascending this by the tract of a mountain torrent, we fell in with numerous inscriptions, in characters similar to those on the Roman building. Some were evidently done centuries ago, others very recently.

The hill is of fine sandstone, which has not been used for building. There are also several thick strata of a fine blue clay, containing embedded masses of iron ore. The summit is formed of a dark bluish red clay stone, which gives a dreary cast to the hills. We ascended with difficulty, as it is one of the highest and steepest hills of the range. It commands an extensive view of the[xlix] whole neighbouring wadey. The sand hills are much lower than to the eastward; and, from this position, all to the northward appears an extensive sandy plain.

The palms of Oubari are like paltry shrubs; and from viewing them here, one would not believe them to be half 7000, the estimated number. To the southward, another portion of the same range. When we got to the top, we were perspiring copiously, and had to take care that the perspiration was not checked too suddenly, as a strong cool breeze was blowing on the top. Many spaces were cleared away for prayer, in the same manner as we have observed in places on all the roads we have travelled along. The form in general is an oblong square, with a small recess in one of the longer sides looking to the rising sun, or it is semicircular, with a similar recess. On the top of a steep precipice, the King’s Anthem was sung with great energy and taste by Hillman.

The new moon was seen this evening, to the great joy of all the followers of Mahomet. Muskets and pistols were discharged, and all the musicians began their labours. This sport was continued all night. A party of musicians came out to visit us; but several were so drunk that they could scarcely walk. The fast is kept by all with a bad grace; and scarcely one is to be seen who has not a long visage. It is even laughable to see some young men going about the streets with long walking sticks, leaning forward like a man bent with age. As soon as the maraboot calls, not a person is to be seen in the streets; all commence, as soon as he pronounces “Allah Akbar;” all pretend to keep it; and if they do not, they take care no one shall know: but from the wry faces and great pharasaical shows, the rigidity may be called in question. None of our party kept it, except for a day now and then; for all travellers after the first day are allowed exemption; but they have to make up at some other time.

For the first time, we found out the writings on the rocks were Tuarick; and we met one man that knew a few of the letters; but could not find one that knew all. The information was satisfactory to us, and put our minds to rest on the subject of the writing.

We were amused with stories of the great powers of eating of the Tuaricks. We were told that two men have consumed three sheep at one meal; another[l] eating a kail of bruised dates, with a corresponding quantity of milk, and another eating about a hundred loaves, of about the size of our penny loaves. We had many inquiries respecting our females. A notion prevailed, that they always bore more than one child at a time, and that they went longer than nine calendar months. On being told that they were the same in that respect as other women, they appeared pleased. We were also asked how they were kept; if locked up as the Moorish woman, or allowed to go freely abroad. The Tuarick women are allowed great liberties that way, and are not a little pleased at having such an advantage.

The greater number of Tuaricks follow the nomade life, moving from place to place as they find pasturage. They appear to delight in solitary abodes; and the different mountain recesses in the vicinity appear to have been often the residences of these people. The houses are of the skin of the camel, and have something of the form of the Arab.

I had a great many female Tuarick patients to-day. They are free and lively; and there is no more restraint before men than in the females of our own country; and they are greatly noticed by the men. They have a copper complexion; eyes large, black, and rolling; nose plain; but two or three had fine ancient Egyptian shaped noses; hair long and shedded, not plaited like the Arab women; neither did there appear to be any oil.

Tuesday, June 25.—There are several roads to Ghraat; and the upper one, where we had to enter the hills, was last night fixed on for us. There is plenty of water, but more rough than the lower, which is said to be a sandy plain, as level as the hand, but no water for five days.

It is not necessary among the Tuaricks that the woman should bring a portion to the husband, although she generally brings something: but it is almost always requisite that the man pay so much to the father for permission to marry his daughter. The price, when the parties are rich, is generally six camels.

The customs and manners of our country, which we related to our friends, were so similar to some of theirs, that an old Targee exclaimed in a forcible manner, “That he was sure they had the same origin as us.” We are getting on amazingly well with them, and would, no doubt, soon be great friends. The women here have full round faces, black curling hair, and, from a Negro[li] mixture, inclined to be crispy; eyebrows a little arched, eyes black and large, nose plain and well-formed. The dress, a barracan neatly wrapped round, with a cover of dark blue cloth for the head; sometimes that comes over the lower part of the face as in the men. They are not very fond of beads, but often have shells suspended to the ears as ear-drops.

Thursday, June 27. Hateeta is really so unwell, that he is not able to go; we in consequence have put off our departure for ten days, and have determined during that time to visit wadey Shiati, &c.; and Mr. Hillman goes up to Mourzuk to send down supplies and take charge of our property. It would have been unkind to Hateeta to have proceeded on; for he is so anxious, that, rather than be left behind, he would have ordered himself to have been bound to a camel. We arranged about the fare for our camels, and prepared ourselves to depart to-morrow morning. We left our spare baggage, which our Tuaricks deposited in one of their mountain recesses.

Friday, June 28.—Before we could set out, a guide for the sands was necessary. For that purpose we engaged an old Targee, who professed to know every part of our tract. When all things were ready, it was near eight in the evening; but we were determined to start. Now Mr. Hillman left us for Mourzuk, I felt glad and satisfied, as I had always since our departure been uneasy respecting our property; but with Hillman every thing would be taken care of, and as safe as if we were all present. The interest he took in the mission, and the important duty in taking care of all our concerns, deserve the highest praise from every one.

We travelled by moonlight over a sandy soil, with numerous tufts of grass and mound hillocks, covered with shrubs, the surface in many places hard and crusty, from saline incrustation. The old man told us that the mounds of earth were formed by water, as the wadey, at the times of great rain, was covered with water. He further added, that in former times a large quantity of rain used to fall, information agreeing with what we had before received.

Saturday, June 29.—At daylight resumed our journey; and a little after sunrise entered among the sand hills, which are here two or three hundred feet high. The ascending and descending of these proved very fatiguing to both our camels and ourselves. The precipitous sides obliged us often to make a circuitous course, and rendered it necessary to form with the hands a tract by which the camels might ascend. Beyond this boundary of the sand[lii] hills of the wadey Ghrurbi, there is an extensive sandy plain, with here and there tufts of grass. We observed, for the first time, a plant with leaves like those of an equisetum, and a triginious grass.

In the afternoon our tract was on the same plain. There were observable several furrows with strips of grass in tufts. Near sunset began ascending high sand hills; they were as if one heaped upon another. Our guide ran before to endeavour to find out the easiest tract with all the agility of a boy. The presence of nothing but deep sandy valleys and high sand hills strikes the mind forcibly. There is something of the sublime mixed with the melancholy. Who can contemplate without admiration masses of loose sand, fully four hundred feet high, ready to be tossed about by every breeze, and not shudder with horror at the idea of the unfortunate traveller being entombed in a moment by one of those fatal blasts, which sometimes occur. On the top of one of these hills we halted for the night. It was near full moon. Her silvery rays, contrasted with the golden hue of the sand, and the general stillness, gave rise to a diversity of reflections.

Sunday, June 30.—At sunrise began our journey through valleys of sand, bounded on each side, and every where intersected by high sand hills. We had to pass over several of these, to our great annoyance. Our water was low, half a gerba only was left, and we began to be a little uneasy at the chance of losing our way, or the well being filled up. Our fears were soon removed. We saw the well at a distance, and found it full of good water on our arrival. The name of the valley is Tigidafa. Much of the equisetum-leaved plant grows here, and four or five date trees overshadow the well.

We halted during the heat of the day. The Mamelouk very unwell with ague and affection of the liver, probably arising from the want of his usual quantity of sour lackbi. In Mourzuk we were told he used to drink all he could procure.

About four we moved along the summits of several of the highest ridges, and descended some of the most difficult passes. About sunset arrived at a large plain, with a little feeding for the camels. Here we halted. The grasses have long tapering roots, but not finely divided into fibres; each fibre descends perpendicularly, and does not creep along the surface. It is covered with a fine velvety epidermis, and that again with fine particles of sand, so as to give it the appearance and elasticity of twine finely coiled up. None of the[liii] plants I saw had creeping roots, but all long and tapering; thus forming but a weak barrier to the fixing of the sand.

Tuesday, July 2.—Our course over and among the sand hills, and sandy walls, or barriers, like falls in a river, every here and there running across the valleys. Our guide, whom we now styled Mahomet ben Raml, or son of the sand, was almost always on before, endeavouring to find out the best way. We could detect in the sand numerous foot-marks of the jackal and fox, and here and there a solitary antelope. In some of the wadeys there were a great many fragments of the ostrich egg. Clapperton and Mahomet ben Hadje went a long way out of the tract. They followed the footsteps of some camels, and went on ahead of us. Our road lay in a different direction from theirs: we were therefore separated a considerable distance from each other. When we saw no appearance of them we halted, and sent the servants in search. The moment was trying: they were in the midst of sand hills, without provisions or water; but, luckily, it was not long; our searchers soon detected them from the heights. About mid-day halted in a valley, and remained under the shade of some date trees for a few hours. Set out again in the afternoon. The heat was oppressive, and our travelling was difficult. We next came to an extensive level plain, which was some refreshment; for we were completely tired of ascending and descending sand hills. Our servants strayed; they went on a tract which was pointed out to them as the right one, and, before we were aware of the error, they went so far that we were not able to send after them. They, as well as ourselves, thought the town was near, and they went with the intention of getting in before us. We felt exceedingly uneasy respecting them, as they might so easily lose themselves in such intricate travelling. We halted in low spirits, and, after a little refreshment, went to sleep with heavy hearts.

Wednesday, July 3.—Strong breeze in the night. Our trunks and bedclothes were all covered with sand in the morning. We heard nothing of our servants, and consoled ourselves that they had found some place before now. We commenced our journey early. The hills of wadey Shiati were seen stretching east and west, and the date palms in several groves; but between us and them some high sand hills were seen. We wished our old guide to take us a more direct course, as we conceived; but, notwithstanding our desire and even threats, he persevered in having his way; and, to do the old man[liv] justice, we afterwards found it would have been almost impossible for the camels to have gone the way we wished. After passing the base of some high sand hills, we came to a stony pass, of gentle descent, covered with loose fragments of quartz rock, a yellowish feltspar, and iron ore, very similar to the rocks in the Sebah district. From this place the town opened to our view. It is erected on a hill about three hundred feet high. This stands in the middle of the valley nearly, and has the appearance, at a distance, of a hill studded over with basaltic columns. I had no idea the town was built on the hill, and, consequently, that the deception was produced by it. The approach from this side is over large plains of salt, and through fields of gomah and date groves. The different divisions of the fields did not appear to us so neat as near other towns; but that may be owing to the grain having mostly been cut and all in. There is no necessity here for wells, as there are a number of springs near the surface that open into large basins, from which channels are cut to the different fields. Temperature of the water 30 cent.; but the basins are so exposed, and so large, that the temperature of the water is influenced by the soil and sun’s rays.

The soil is dark, and mixed with a large quantity of salt. In the salt plain here there are a number of small conical hills, the base composed of pipeclay, above that of a fine grained yellow sandstone, and the top a conglomerate, the principal ingredient of which is ironstone.

The most of the inhabitants soon visited us, and all appeared pleased at our arrival. The kadi of the two neighbouring towns paid us many compliments, and pressed us hard to spend a few days in his towns. We could not take advantage of his offer, which was no doubt of a selfish nature; for I had not conversed long with him before he began to beg a shirt. I told him mine could be of no use to him, as it was very different from those of the country. On that he asked for a dollar to buy one, which I took care to refuse; and said to him, that I only gave presents of money to the poor. The people made numerous urgent demands for medicines; and, in a very short time, our large tent was surrounded with sick: the female part formed the majority. Some beautiful faces and forms were clothed in rags: the plaited hair and necks of these even were loaded with ornaments. The physiognomy of the women, as well as of the men, is of two kinds,—that of the Bedouin Arab and Fezzaneer, with mixtures also which it would puzzle a[lv] physiognomist to discover and describe. The females are rather under the middle stature, stoutly built, and possess considerable vivacity and liveliness: complexion of those not much exposed to the sun of a dirty white.

Thursday, July 4.—Numbers of patients greatly augmented, and several of the applicants brought small presents for medicines, such as a bowl of liban. I was also applied to in a new capacity—that of a charm writer. A man came and offered me two fowls if I would give him a charm for a disease of the belly; but I was obliged to decline the office of charm writer, and confine myself to cure diseases by medicine. A buxom widow applied for medicine to get her a husband. It is not good to pretend ignorance: I therefore told her I had no such medicine along with me. The same worthy personage took my friend Clapperton for an old man—from his light coloured beard and mustachios—to my great amusement, and his chagrin. He had prided himself on the strength and bushiness of his beard, and was not a little hurt that light colour should be taken as a mark of old age. None of them had ever seen a light coloured beard before, and all the old men dye their grey beards with henna, which gives them a colour approaching that of my friend.

We went a little before sunset to visit the town. The houses are of mud, and built on the sides of the hill. They appear as if one was pulled on another. The passages or streets between them are narrow, and, in two or three instances, excavations through the rock. The exposed rocks denote the same composition as the insulated hills on the salt plain. The ascent was steep in some places, and we had to pass through the mosque before we arrived at the highest portion. From this we had a fine view of wadey Shiati in every direction. The wadey runs nearly east and west: in the former direction it is well inhabited as far as Oml’abeed: this is the westernmost town; and although, from this position, the soil appears favourable, there are no inhabitants between this and Ghadamis. A range of hills forms the northern boundary: these run as far as Ghadamis, and end easterly, in the hills about Oml’abeed. A low range forms the southern boundary; and between them and the wadey Ghrurbi all is sand. Many houses are in ruins, and many more are approaching to that state. Still it is called the new town, although its appearance little entitles it to that appellation; but the ancient inhabitants lived in excavations in the rocks, the remains of which are very distinct. We saw numerous recesses, but thought they were produced by the present race digging for pipe-clay, and the natural[lvi] mouldering away of the soft rock. When we had finished our visit, we were told the former people lived in these holes. At the bottom of the hill we entered several, not much decayed by time. Most of them are oblong spaces, about ten or twelve feet long, and seven feet high. The entrances of all these had mouldered away very much. At a hundred yards, however, from the base of the hill, and now used as burying ground, there is a subterranean house of large dimensions, and probably the residence of the great personage. The entrance was more than half filled up with sand and small stones that had been thrown in. Clapperton and I entered, and found three extensive galleries, which communicated only by small openings, in passing through which we had to stoop considerably. But the galleries were high (nearly seven feet), and of considerable length (about 150 feet), and each had several small recesses, like sleeping rooms. The whole had neatness about it, and showed a taste in the excavators. There are no traces of similar abodes in Fezzan. The present race are entirely ignorant of the ancient occupiers. The people are so afraid, and so superstitious, that scarcely one of the town had ever entered it. They were astonished when we entered without ceremony; and two, encouraged by our example, brought us a light, by which we were enabled to look into the different recesses.

Saturday, July 6.—At 2. 40. started with a beautiful moonlight, over a sandy plain, with a great many small hillocks. We stopped at Dalhoon, a well nearly filled up with sand, and containing water so brackish that we were unable to drink it. We started again, and got in among the sand hills. Our new guide proved neither such an active man nor experienced pilot as our old Tuarick, as we had several times to retrace our steps.

Monday, July 8.—We entered the wadey Trona early this morning, on the north-east side. Near where we entered there are a cluster of date palms, and a small lake, from which impure trona is obtained. On the western side the trona lake is surrounded with date trees, and its marshy borders are covered on almost all sides by grass, and a tall juncus. It is about half a mile long, and nearly two hundred yards wide. At present it is of inconsiderable depth, from the evaporation of the water; for many places are dry now, which are covered in the winter and spring. The trona crystallizes at the bottom of the lake, when the water is sufficiently saturated; for when the water is in large quantities it eats the trona, as the people say. The cakes vary in thickness,[lvii] from a fine film to several inches (two or three). The thickest at present is not more than three-fourths of an inch; but in the winter, when the water begins to increase, it is of the thickness I have mentioned. The surface next the ground is not unequal from crystallization, but rough to the feel, from numerous small rounded asperities. That next the water is generally found studded with numerous small, beautiful vertical crystals of muriate of soda; the line of junction is always distinct, and the one is easily removed from the other. When not covered with muriate of soda, the upper surface shows a congeries of small tabular pieces joined in every position. When the mass is broken there is a fine display of reticular crystals, often finely radiated. The surface of the water is covered in many places with large thin sheets of salt, giving the whole the appearance of a lake partially frozen over: film after film forms, till the whole becomes of great thickness. Thus may be observed, on the same space, trona and cubical crystals of muriate of soda, and, on the surface of the water, films accumulating, till the whole amounts to a considerable thickness. The soil of the lake is a dark brown sand, approaching to black, of a viscid consistence, and slimy feel; and, on the lately uncovered surface of the banks, a black substance, something like mineral tar, is seen oozing out. The water begins to increase in the winter, and is at its height in the spring. In the beginning of the winter the trona is thickest and best, but in the spring it disappears entirely. The size of the lake has diminished considerably within the last nine years; and, if care be not taken, the diminution will soon be much more considerable; for plants are making rapid encroachments, and very shallow banks are observable in many places. On making inquiry, I found the quantity of trona has not sensibly diminished for the last ten years. Perhaps it may appear so from there always being sufficient to answer every demand. The quantity annually carried away amounts to between 400 and 500 camel loads, each amounting to about 4 cwt.,—a large quantity, when the size of the lake is taken into account. It is only removed from the lake when a demand comes. A man goes in, breaks it off in large pieces, and those on the banks remove the extraneous matter, and pack it in large square bundles, and bind it up with the retecious substance observable on the roots of the leaves of the date tree, and, bound up in that way, it is taken to the different places,—the greatest to Tripoli, but a considerable quantity is consumed in Fezzan. The price of each load here is two dollars. The water in the valley is good, and[lviii] very free from saline impregnation. The whole is taken care of by an old black Fezzaneer, Hadje Ali, an unassuming but sensible man. He treated us with every kindness, and showed the greatest readiness to give us every information. He resides here the whole year, and only comes up to Mourzuk occasionally to settle money affairs. When we asked him if he felt his residence solitary, he answered, he was now an old man, and he gained a comfortable livelihood by it, which he could not elsewhere. He possesses great energy; and in his younger years few could cope with him. Since his charge of this place, which is about nine years, it happened Mukni wished more money. He told him decidedly he would give him no more, on which Mukni began to bluster in his usual manner. The old man quietly took up his staff and walked off. The matter was soon settled in the Hadje’s favour; for he is, as our relators informed us, of only one speech; and Mukni, although he speaks harshly, has a good heart. The worms, so much used in Fezzan, are found in this lake in the spring. About twenty camels of the Waled Busafe were waiting for their loads.

Clapperton was sitting on the top of a high sand hill, and so pleased with the view, that he called out several times for me to dismount from my camel to enjoy the treat. The appearance was beautiful. A deep sandy valley, without vegetation, and containing only two large groves of date trees; within each a fine lake was enclosed. The contrast between the bare lofty sand hills, and the two insulated spots, was the great cause of the sensation of beauty. There is something pretty in a lake surrounded with date palms; but when every other object within the sphere of vision is dreary, the scene becomes doubly so.

The worms so celebrated in this kingdom are found in these lakes. They are small animals, almost invisible to the naked eye, and surrounded with a large quantity of gelatinous matter. They are of a reddish-brown colour, and have a strong slimy smell. When seen through a microscope, the head appears small and depressed, the eyes two large black spots, supported on two long peduncles; the body a row of rays on each side, like the fins of fishes, but probably perform the action of legs; they have a continual motion like the tail of fish.

These animalculæ abound in the spring; they are to be found at all times, but in particularly large quantities in high winds. They are caught in a long[lix] hand net, by a man going some way into the lake, and after allowing the net to remain some time at the bottom, it is taken up, or drawn a little along the ground; and in this manner several pints are sometimes caught at one time. It is found to be almost impossible to preserve them alive for a few hours after they are taken from the lake. An animal that evidently preys on them is found in considerable numbers. It is about an inch long, annulose, has six feet on each side, and two small corniform processes at the tail. It was past sunset before we saw any of the people of the town; but by the promise of a dollar, a small basin full of the insects was procured for us before daylight in the morning.

Drawn by Captn. Clapperton. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published by John Murray, London. Feb. 1826.

The other lakes of these worms are at two days’ journey from this, situated in valleys almost inaccessible from the highness of the sand hills, and frequented only by the Dowedee, or men that fish for the insects only, at the riper season. They are placed in the sun’s rays for a few hours to dry, and in that state sell at a high rate in the different towns in Fezzan.

Wednesday, July 10. We departed at sunrise, and had a much more pleasant journey. The tract was much more free from sand hills, although some of a great height were observable on each side.

The sheikh was very civil, and all our wants were speedily supplied.

We had two marriages to-night. The brides were brought out on a camel, decorated with gaudy dresses, and concealed from public view by awnings. Both brides were on one camel, for the purpose, we were told, of saving expense. Another camel went behind, for receiving the presents of the people, as wheat or barley, by which a feast is made. They went a considerable distance from the town, surrounded by almost all the inhabitants, both male and female. The men, dressed in their best, amused themselves firing muskets and pistols, while the women were singing. The musicians preceded the procession, and exhibited signs of having paid their devotions to Bacchus. They were nearly two hours amusing themselves, before the brides were carried home to their husbands’ houses. The ceremony was announced by the yelling of the women, and the discharge of musketry.

Friday, July 12. We departed early in the morning, and arrived about mid-day at Oubari, where we were obliged to remain a day, for the camel men to arrange their affairs, and rest their camels.

[lx]Tuesday, July 16. We had directed the camels to be brought before daylight; but it was after sunrise when they made their appearance. After six we departed. Our course was over a level gravelly valley, with the mountains to the south, and sand hills to the north. The tulloh trees in abundance; some large patches of calcareous crust. We were accompanied by Mahomet, a black Tuarick, that resides in the vicinity of Biar Hadje Ahmut. Halted at Biar.

Wednesday, July 17. Early in the forenoon, a kafila of Tuaricks, most of them Hadjes, arrived from Ghraat. Hateeta rose to salute them, and paid them great respect. One was a maraboot, much respected by the Tuaricks. He is an oldish man, of pleasing countenance and free manner. They were muffled up to near the eyes; but they talked freely with us, and appeared a little prepossessed in our favour; no doubt from the account Hateeta had given them. One was able to give some account of the Targee letters; but no information on the ancient history of his nation. They were anxious we should profess Islamism; but it was only the lips, not the heart they wished to make any impression on. It is sufficient if a man says, “There is no God but one, and Mahomet is his prophet,” and goes through a few forms of prayers. There is some pleasure in beholding a number at one and the same time at their devotions; but when reason is called into action, when the whole is considered as outward show, the beauty and the loveliness lose themselves.

Thursday, July 18. Started, an hour before sunrise. Our course the same as yesterday, over a wide level valley, bounded by the same mountain range, which all along forms shallow bays with bluff extremities. Tops of the hills level. Almost the whole range, from Biar Hadje Ahmut, as free from inequality as the valley. Scattered acacias mostly in flower, and large drops of fine gum arabic hanging from the branches. Notwithstanding the strong prickles, the camels browse on this tree with great avidity and rapidity, and apparently little inconvenience.

Friday, July 19. Form of hills becoming a little different; in place of the regular table tops, peaks and rugged inequalities are making their appearance. At an hour after sunset halted in Wadey Elfoo, or Valley of Cool Breezes. This was a long and fatiguing day for us. We travelled from sunrise till near eight o’clock, and advanced twenty-nine miles without halting. The mid-day heat[lxi] was oppressive; but would have been doubly so, had it not been for fine cool breezes. The heat, since we left Mourzuk, has generally been moderated by a fine breeze springing up about eight or nine in the morning, and following the sun’s course. It came at times in strong puffs; and according to the state of the skin, appeared cold or hot. When perspiring, cold; when dry, hot. The idea of the want of water made us perhaps more desirous of it. The distance from the one well to the other is four days, which at this season is not small.

Saturday, July 20. Tract, almost entirely destitute of vegetation, till mid-day. Our course among low hills of sandstone and claystone. Here we arrived at a beautiful small wadey, winding among the hills; the last, we are told, we come to, till we arrive at Ludinat. The hills are taking a more southerly direction. We were told they run a considerable distance in the Soudan road, take a bend to the eastward, and pass into the Tibboo country, and down to near Bornou. It is along these hills the Tuaricks make their ghrassies into the Tibboo country. These two nations are almost always at war, and reciprocally annoy each other by a predatory warfare, stealing camels, slaves, &c. killing only when resistance is made, and never making prisoners.

Monday, July 21. About half an hour before sunrise, resumed our journey. We came to alum slate hills, and early in the morning passed a small conical hill called Boukra, or Father of the Foot, where the people of kafilas passing amuse themselves by hopping over it; and he who does that best, is considered least exhausted by the journey. Near this there are a few hills, among which a serpent as large as a camel is said to reside. The Targee is superstitious and credulous in the extreme; every hill and cave has something fabulous connected with it. About mid-day entered the boundaries of the Tuarick country. It is by a small narrow pass over alum slate hills into a sterile sandy valley. At a distance the Tuarick hills, running north and south, not table-topped like those we have left, but rising in numerous peaks and cones. There are here in the vicinity a number of sand hills; and all the valleys are bounded by low alum slate hills, and recently formed fixed sand hills. Sulphate of barytes in several places. About eight, arrived at Ludinat.

The name of the wadey is Sardalis. On a small eminence near us is an old ruinous building, foolishly thought by the people here to be of Jewish origin; although from its structure, it is evidently Arabian. A large spring issues from the middle, and pours out water sufficient to irrigate a large space[lxii] of ground. It opens into a large basin; the temperature of the water is consequently influenced by the soil and the sun’s rays. Abundant crops of grain might be reared by an industrious people; but the Tuaricks are no agriculturists, and the small cultivated spots are wrought by Fezzaneers. The Tuaricks of the country have a sovereign contempt for inhabitants of cities and cultivators of ground. They look upon them all as degenerated beings. A wide-spreading tree grows near this castle, under which gold is said to be deposited. The accounts are, that the father of the present maraboot, a man renowned for his sanctity, destroyed the writings that pointed out the place. The grave of this Mahometan saint is near, and so revered, that people passing deposit what they consider superfluous; and always find it safe on their return. Thus there is not to be found a Tuarick or Arab so courageous as to violate this sanctuary. The inhabitants are thinly scattered; and we could only observe here and there a few grass houses. The water of the spring is excellent. A few sheep are in the valley, and we were able to buy a tolerably good one from the maraboot.

Thursday, July 24. Camel men long in starting; it was near seven before we were on our journey. Passed near several springs, and on the bank of one found some beautiful bog iron ore. The west side of the wadey had the appearance of a rugged sea coast, and the exposed ledges of rock, that of the beach washed by the waves. The rock is a fine grained sandstone, lying on aluminous slate, which mouldering into dust by exposure to the weather, undermines the sandstone, and gives rise to the rugged appearance. It is rendered more dreary and awful by the black colour of the external surface. At a distance we took the whole to be a basaltic formation, and were not a little deceived on our examination. We entered a narrow pass with lofty rugged hills on each side; some were peaked. The black colour of almost all with white streaks, gave them a sombre appearance. The external surface of this sandstone soon acquires a shining black like basalt: so much so, that I have several times been deceived, till I took up the specimen. The white part is from a shining white aluminous schistus, that separates into minute flakes like snow. The ground had in many places the appearance of being covered with snow. It blew a strong gale as we passed through the different windings; sand was tossed in every direction; the sky was sometimes obscured for several minutes. These, conjoined with the white of the ground and hills, brought forcibly to[lxiii] our minds a snow storm; but the hot wind as speedily convinced us of our error. The pass led to a valley, with a few tulloh trees; this we traversed, and soon entered on a large sandy plain, with the hills of Tadrart on the east, and the high sand hills on the west. This range has a most singular appearance; there is more of the picturesque in this, than in any hills we have ever seen. Let any one imagine ruinous cathedrals and castles; these we had in every position and of every form. It will not be astonishing, that an ignorant and superstitious people should associate these with something supernatural. That is the fact; some particular demon inhabits each. The cause of the appearance is the geological structure. In the distance, there is a hill more picturesque and higher than the others, called Gassur Janoun, or Devil’s Castle. Between it and the range, there is a pass through which our course lies. Hateeta dreads this hill, and has told us many strange stories of wonderful sights having been seen: these he firmly believes; and is struck with horror, when we tell him we will visit it.

Friday, July 25. Kept the range of hills in the same direction. We were much amused by the great diversity of forms. One is called the Devil’s House; and when Clapperton thought he perceived the smell of smoke last night, Hateeta immediately said that it was from the Devil’s House. Another is called the Chest, and under it a large sum of money is supposed to have been deposited by the ancient people, who are said to have been giants of extraordinary stature. At a considerable distance to the southward, a part of the same range is seen taking to the westward, and is continued, we are told, as far as Tuat. Another branch is said to take a bend to the southward and eastward, and join the mountain range of Fezzan. About mid-day halted in the pass between the range and Devil’s Castle.

Made an excursion to Janoun. Our servant Abdullah accompanied me. He kept at a respectable distance behind. When near the hill, he said in a pitiful tone, there is no road up. I told him we would endeavour to find one. The ascent was exceedingly difficult, and so strewed with stones, that we were only able to ascend one of the eminences: there we halted, and found it would be impossible to go higher, as beyond where we were was precipice. Abdullah got more bold, when he found there was nothing more than what is to be seen in any other mountain. The geological structure the same as the range that is near. When Hateeta found I was gone, he got amazingly alarmed; and[lxiv] Clapperton was not able to allay his fears: he was only soothed, when I returned. He was quite astonished I had seen nothing, and began relating what had happened to others.

On the 26th, about half an hour after sunset, arrived at Ghraat; and were soon visited by a number of Hateeta’s relations, one of whom was his sister. Some were much affected, and wept at the sufferings that had detained him so long from them. A number of his male relations soon came, and many of the inhabitants of the town. The ladies were a free and lively set. They were not a little pleased with the grave manner we uttered the various complimentary expressions. Hateeta was not well pleased with something that he had heard. He told us not to be afraid; for he had numerous relations. We said that fear never entered our breasts, and begged him not to be uneasy on our account.

Saturday, July 27. Early in the morning numerous visitors paid their respects to Hateeta, and were introduced in due form to us. We felt the length of time spent in salutations quite fatiguing, and so absurd in our eyes, that we could scarcely at times retain our gravity. Our visitors were mostly residents of the city, and all were decorated in their best. There was a sedateness and gravity in the appearance of all, which the dress tended greatly to augment. There were three natives of Gadames, one of whom knew us through our worthy friend Mahomet D’Ghies; another we had seen in the house of Dr. Dickson; and the third was well acquainted with European manners, having been over at Leghorn.

In the afternoon we visited the sultan. Mats had been spread in the castle, in a small ante-chamber. The old man was seated, but rose up to receive us and welcome us to his city. He apologized for not waiting on us; but said he was sick, and had been very little out for some time. He had guinea-worm, and a cataract was forming in his eyes. He was dressed in a nearly worn out tobe, and trowsers of the same colour; and round his head was wrapped an old piece of yellow coarse cloth for a turban. Notwithstanding the meanness of the dress, there was something pleasing and prepossessing in his countenance, and such a freeness as made us soon quite as much at home as if in our tents. We presented him with a sword, with which he was highly pleased. Hateeta wished it had been a bornouse; but we had none with us we considered sufficiently good. We were led away by the title, sultan. We had no idea the Tuaricks were so vain;[lxv] for they used to be filling us with high notions of the wealth and greatness of the people here.

Our interview was highly interesting; and every one seemed much pleased with us. The old sultan showed us every kindness; and we had every reason to believe him sincere in his good wishes. After our visit we called at the house of Lameens, son of the kadi. He is a young man of excellent character, and universally respected. His father is now in Ghadames, arranging with some of the other principal inhabitants the affairs of the community. He had left directions with his son to show us every attention. His house was neatly fitted up, and carpets spread on a high bed, on which we seated ourselves. Several of the people who were in the castle came along with us, and by the assistance of those that could speak Arabic, we were able to keep up a tolerably good conversation. On inquiring about the Tuarick letters, we found the same sounds given them as we had before heard from others. We were here at the fountain head, but were disappointed in not being able to find a book in the Tuarick language; they told us there was not one. Some only of the Tuaricks speak the Arabic. We were the more astonished to find this, when we considered the great intercourse between them and nations that speak Arabic only.

It was near sunset before we returned to our tents, which were now tolerably clear of visitors. All had retired to pray and eat. Stewed meat, bread, and soup, were again sent us by the sultan.

In the evening Hateeta’s kinswomen returned. They were greatly amused, and laughed heartily at our blundering out a few Tuarick words. It may be well supposed we were very unfit companions for the ladies, as they could speak no other language than their own, and we knew very little of it. Still, however, we got on well, and were mutually pleased. I could scarcely refrain laughing several times at the grave manner Clapperton assumed. He had been tutored by Hateeta, and fully acted up to his instructions; no Tuarick could have done better. Our friend Hateeta was anxious we should shine, and read a number of lectures to Clapperton. He is naturally lively, and full of humour. He was directed not to laugh or sing, but look as grave as possible, which Hateeta said would be sure to please the grave Tuaricks. As for myself, I had a natural sedateness, which Hateeta thought would do. The liveliness of the women, their freeness with the men, and the marked attention[lxvi] the latter paid them, formed a striking contrast with other Mahommedan states. Thus the day passed over well, and we had every reason to be pleased with the demeanour of the people, and the attention they paid us.

Violent gale from the northward, which almost smothered us with sand.

About four we went to visit the spring we had heard so much about, and to make a circuit round the town. The water is contained in a large reservoir, surrounded with palm trees; and the banks are covered with rushes, except when the people go to draw water. There is not that bubbling up we saw in the spring of Shiati and Ludinat, but apparently an oozing from a large surface, as in those of Traghan. The water is clear, well tasted, and in abundance: a large extent of soil is supplied by it, through channels cut in the ground; and all the town is supplied from this place. Good water and plenty of it is a great blessing in every quarter of the globe, but much more in a hot climate. The people are sensible of it; for you hear this place and that praised for the abundance of this water, and the healthiness of its quality; and you often hear them say that it does not engender bile, as the waters of such a place. Some small spots here are really beautiful, from the diversity of scenery in a small compass. Here and there patches of grass and beds of water melons, in the edge of the water channels, fine palms loaded with ripe fruit, small squares of gufolly and cassoub, and beautiful vines clinging to the trees; in the brakes, the town and black tinted low hills. We observed platforms, of palm leaves, raised about five feet from the ground, for the purpose of sleeping, and defending the person from scorpions, which are very common.

We now came in sight of the town, and were well pleased with the appearance. The houses neat and clean; and the mosque, finer than any thing of the kind in Fezzan. All was neat and simple. It is built at the foot of a low hill, on the summit of which the former town stood; but it, as we were told, was destroyed, and the greater part of the inhabitants, by the giving way of the portion of hill on which it was erected. The hills, composed as those about here, are very apt to fall down in large masses. Indeed, none of the hills appear of their original height. It was not long since a large portion of a neighbouring mountain gave way, and the noise of its fall was heard at a great distance. When the melancholy event of the destruction of the town took place, we could not learn.

The town is surrounded with walls, in good repair, formed of sand and[lxvii] whitish clay, that gives a clean and lively appearance to the whole. There is only one gate opening to the east; formerly there were more, that are now blocked up. The houses are built of the same substance as the walls, and the external form and internal arrangement the same as those of Mourzuk and other Mahommedan towns. The town appears to be about the size of Oubari, and perhaps contains about 1000 inhabitants. The burying-ground is outside the town; it is divided into two departments, one for those arrived at maturity, the other for children,—a distinction not observable in Fezzan.

In our walk we fell in with a number of females, who had come out to see us. All were free and lively, and not at all deterred by the presence of the men. Several had fine features; but only one or two could be called beautiful. Many of the natives came out of their houses as we passed along, and cordially welcomed us to their town. It was done in such a manner, that we could not but feel pleased and highly flattered.

In the evening we heard a numerous band of females singing at a distance, which was continued till near midnight. The women were principally those of the country. This custom is very common among the people, and is one of the principal amusements in the mountain recesses. Hateeta said they go out when their work is finished in the evening, and remain till near midnight in singing and telling stories, return home, take supper, and go to bed.

The language of the Tuaricks is harsh and guttural; but it has great strength, and is evidently expressive. That at least is the opinion we were led to form, with our imperfect knowledge. The want of books, and the little attention paid to cultivating a language, must tend to keep it in a very imperfect state. The sedate character of the Tuarick seems to be a firm barrier against the muses. The males seldom sing; it is considered an amusement fit only for females. Their songs were described to us as sweet. We never heard one repeating any poetical lines. The people have good sound sense, and give more distinct accounts of what they have seen than I have received from the Moorish merchants. They would be a shining people, were they placed in more favourable situations. On almost every stone in places they frequent, the Tuarick characters are hewn out. It matters nothing whether the letters are written from the right to the left, or vice versa, or written horizontally.


[Symbol: ⵜ] Yet. [Symbol: ⵌ] Yuz.
[Symbol: ⵗ] Yuk. [Symbol: ⵣ] Iz.
[Symbol: ⵆ] Yugh. [Symbol: H-like]
[Symbol: ⵓ] Yow [Symbol: W-like] Yew.
[Symbol: ⴰ] A. [Symbol: ⴷ] Yid.
[Symbol: ⵀ] Yib. [Symbol: northern (square) variant of ⵔ] Yir.
[Symbol: ⵙ] Yes. [Symbol: ⵢ] Yei.
[Symbol: ⵎ] Yim. [Symbol: ⴶ] Yigh.
[Symbol: ⴺ] Yish. [Symbol: ⵏ] Yin.
[Symbol: ⵍ] Yill.

These characters will be sufficient to enable the learned to trace the connexion of the language with others that are now extinct. Here we have no opportunity of making inquiries into this important subject.

Note. The rest of the Journal, describing their return to Mourzuk, is wholly uninteresting, and is therefore omitted.



On the evening of the 29th of November we left Mourzuk, accompanied by nearly all those of the town, who could muster a horse: the camels had moved early in the day, and at Zezow we found the tents pitched—there are here merely a few huts. From Zezow to Traghan there is a good high road, with frequent incrustations of salt, and we arrived there before noon. It is a clean walled town, one of the best of one hundred and nine, of which Fezzan is said to boast. Traghan was formerly as rich as Mourzuk, and was the capital and residence of a sultan, who governed the eastern part of Fezzan, whose castle, in ruins, may still be seen.

A maraboot, of great sanctity, is the principal person in Traghan, as his father was before him. During the reign of the present bashaw’s father, when the Arab troops appeared before the town, the then maraboot and chief went out to meet them; and, from his own stores, paid sixty thousand dollars to prevent the property of his townspeople from being plundered. They make carpets here[2] equal to those of Constantinople. There are some springs of good water in the gardens near the town, the only ones in Fezzan, it is said, except the tepid one at Hammam, near Sockna.

After being crammed, as it were, by the hospitality of the maraboot, we left Traghan for Maefen, an assemblage of date huts, with but one house. The road to this place lies over a mixture of sand and salt, having a curious and uncommon appearance: the surface is full of cracks, and in many places it has the effect of a new ploughed field: the clods are so hard, that it is with great difficulty they can be broken. The path by which all the animals move for some miles is a narrow space, or stripe, worn smooth, bearing a resemblance, both in hardness and appearance, to ice: near Maefen, it assumes a new and more beautiful shape, the cracks are larger, and from the sides of cavities several feet deep hang beautiful crystals, from beds of frost of the purest white[9]. I broke off a large mass, but the interior was as brittle as the exterior was difficult to break; the frost work was fine salt, and fell away in flakes on being lightly shaken. It extends more than twenty miles, east and west. The water of Maefen, though strongly tinctured with soda, is not disagreeable to the taste, or unwholesome.

Quitting Maefen, we quickly entered on a desert plain; and, after a dreary fourteen hours march for camels, we arrived at Mestoola,[3] a maten, or resting place, where the camels find some little grazing from a plant called Ahgul. Starting at sun-rise, we had another fatiguing day over the same kind of desert, without, I think, seeing one living thing that did not belong to our kafila—not a bird, or even an insect: the sand is beautifully fine, round, and red. We now arrived at Gatrone. The Arabs watch for a sight of the high date trees, which surround this town, as sailors look for land; and after discovering these landmarks, they shape their course accordingly.

I here joined my companions, whom I found in a state of health but ill calculated for undertaking a long and tedious journey. During my stay at Mourzuk, I had suffered from a severe attack of fever, which had kept me for ten days in my bed; and although considerably debilitated, yet was I strong in comparison with my associates. Doctor Oudney was suffering much from his cough, and still complaining of his chest. Mr. Clapperton’s ague had not left him, and Hillman had been twice attacked so violently as to be given over by the doctor. We all, however, looked forward anxiously to proceeding, and fancied that change of scene and warmer weather would bring us all round. Gatrone is not unpleasingly situated: it is surrounded by sandhills, and mounds of earth covered with a small tree, called athali. Huts are built all round the town for the Tibboos.

Though encamped on the south side of the town, we had cold north and north-east winds, and the thermometer in the tent was from 43 to 45 in the mornings. The person of the greatest importance at Gatrone is one Hagi-el-Raschid, a large proprietor and a maraboot. He is a man of very clear understanding and amiable manners, and as he uses the superstition of the people as the means of making them happy and turning them from vicious pursuits, one becomes almost reconciled to an impostor.

Much necessary arrangement had been made here by laying in[4] a stock of dates, &c. for our long journey: and at eleven A.M. we left Gatrone. The maraboot accompanied Boo-Khaloom outside the town, and having drawn, not a magic circle, but a parallelogram, on the sand, with his wand he wrote in it certain words of great import from the Koran; the crowd looking on in silent astonishment, while he assumed a manner both graceful and imposing, so as to make it impossible for any one to feel at all inclined to ridicule his motions. When he had finished repeating the fatah aloud, he invited us singly to ride through the spot he had consecrated, and, having obeyed him, we silently proceeded on our journey, without even repeating an adieu.

We passed a small nest of huts on the road, prettily situated, called El-Bahhi, from whence the women of the place followed us with songs for several miles. Having halted at Medroosa, we moved on the next morning, and leaving an Arab castle to the south-east, and some table-top hills, bearing south and by east, we arrived at Kasrowa by three in the afternoon.

Kasrowa has tumuli of some height all round the town, covered with the plant athali, and there is a well of good water: a road from hence branches off to the south-east, which goes to Kanem and Waday. It is also said to be the shortest road to Bornou, but there is a great scarcity of water.

On the 9th, we were to arrive at Tegerhy; and the Arabs commenced skirmishing as soon as we came within sight of it, and kept it up in front of the town for half an hour after our arrival.

We were here to halt for a day or two, for the purpose of taking in the remainder of our dates and provisions, and never was halt more acceptable. Hillman, our carpenter, and two of our servants, were really too ill to be moved; two of them had fevers, and one the ague. Hillman had been so weakened by previous attacks, as to be lifted on and off his mule: indeed we were all sickly. Doctor Oudney’s complaint in his chest, and his cough, had gradually become worse;[5] and going only a few hundred yards to see a dome date tree so fatigued him that, after lying down, he was obliged to return, supported by Mr. Clapperton. As our servants were all ill, one of the negro women made us a mess of kouscasou, with some preserved fat, which had been prepared in Mourzuk: it was a sorry meal, for the fat was rancid; and although tired, and not very strong, I could not refuse an invitation, about nine at night, after I had lain down to sleep, to eat camel’s heart with Boo-Khaloom: it was wofully hard and tough, and I suffered the next morning from indulging too much at the feast.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published by John Murray, London. Feb. 1826.

The Tibboos and Arabs kept us awake half the night with their singing and dancing, in consequence of the bousafer, or feast, on entering the Tibboo country. Boo-Khaloom gave two camels, and we gave one. Our sick seemed to gain a little strength; and as we had succeeded in purchasing a sheep, a little soup seemed to revive them much; but we feared that Hillman and one of the servants must be left behind. However distressing would such an event have been, it was impossible for men who could not sit upright on a mule to commence a journey of fifteen days over a desert, during which travellers are obliged to march from sunrise until dark.

The 12th December was a beautifully mild morning, the thermometer at eight being at 56. After breakfast, all seemed revived; but it was with pain I observed the exceeding weakness of Doctor Oudney and Hillman. I managed to get a sketch of the castle of Tegerhy from the south side of a salt pool close to the town; the entrance to which is small, low, and arched, something resembling a sally-port: within a second wall and gateway, there are loop-holes which would render the entrance by the narrow passage before mentioned extremely difficult: above the second gateway, there is also an opening from whence missiles and firebrands, of which the Arabs formerly made great use, might be poured on the assailants. Wells of water are within the walls, and tolerably good; and with supplies,[6] when in a state of repair, I have no doubt Tegerhy might make a very good defence.

The sultans of Fezzan probably think that the only means of keeping these people in order is by keeping them poor. Their only produce is dates, but those are of excellent quality. No vegetables are raised here, and we could not even procure an onion. Almost every town in Africa has its charm or wonder, and Tegerhy is not without one. There is a well just outside the castle gates, the water of which, we were told most gravely, “always rose when a kafila was coming near the town! that the inhabitants always prepared what they had to sell on seeing this water increase in bulk, for it never deceived them!”—In proof of this assertion, they pointed out to me how much higher the water had been previous to our arrival than it was at the moment we were standing on the brink. This I could have explained by the number of camels that had drank at it, but I saw it was better policy to believe what every body allowed to be true: even Boo-Khaloom exclaimed, “Allah! God is great, powerful, and wise! How wonderful! Oh!” Over the inner gate of the castle there is a large hole through to the gateway underneath, and they tell a story of a woman dropping from thence a stone on the head of some leader who had gained the outer wall, giving him, by that means, the death of Abimelech in sacred history.

The situation of Tegerhy is rather pleasing than otherwise: it is surrounded by date trees, and the water is excellent; a range of low hills extends to the eastward; and snipes, wild-ducks, and geese, frequent the salt-pools, which are near the town. The natives are quite black, but have not the negro face: the men are slim, very plain, with high cheek bones, the negro nose, large mouth, teeth much stained by the quantity of tobacco and trona (or muriate of soda) which they eat; and even snuff, when given to them, goes directly into their mouths.

The young girls are most of them pretty, but less so than those[7] of Gatrone. The men always carry two daggers, one about eighteen inches, and the other six inches, the latter of which is attached to a ring and worn on the arm or wrist. A Tibboo once told me, pointing to the long one, “this is my gun; and this,” showing the smaller of the two, “is my pistol.” The women make baskets and drinking-bowls of palm leaves with great neatness.

On the 13th, we left Tegerhy, and proceeded on the desert: it was scattered with mounds of earth and sand, covered with athila (a plant the camels eat with avidity), and other shrubs. After travelling six miles we arrived at a well called Omah, where our tents were pitched, and here we halted three days. On the 16th, after clearing the palm trees, by which Omah is surrounded, we proceeded on the desert. About nine we had a slight shower of rain. At three in the afternoon, we came to a halt at Ghad, after travelling ten miles. Near the wells of Omah, numbers of human skeletons, or parts of skeletons, lay scattered on the sands. Hillman, who had suffered dreadfully since leaving Tegerhy, was greatly shocked at these whitened skulls, and unhallowed remains; so much so, as to want all the encouragement I could administer to him.

Dec. 17.—We continued our course over a stony plain, without the least appearance of vegetation. Coarse opal and sand-stone[10] strewed the path. We saw Alowere-Seghrir, a ridge of hills, bearing east by south; Alowere-El-Kebir, a still higher ridge, lies more[8] to the east, but was not visible. These, by the accounts of the natives, are the highest mountains in the Tibboo country, with the[9] exception of Ercherdat Erner. More to the south, the inhabitants are called Tibboo-Irchad (the Tibboos of the rocks). Through passes in both these mountains, the road lies to Kanem. About sunset, we halted near a well, within a half mile of Meshroo. Round this spot were lying more than one hundred skeletons, some of them with the skin still remaining attached to the bones—not even a little sand thrown over them. The Arabs laughed heartily at my expression of horror, and said, “they were only blacks, nam boo!” (damn their fathers!) and began knocking about the limbs with the butt end of their firelocks, saying, “This was a woman! This was a[10] youngster!” and such like unfeeling expressions. The greater part of the unhappy people, of whom these were the remains, had formed the spoils of the sultan of Fezzan the year before. I was assured that they had left Bornou with not above a quarter’s allowance for each; and that more died from want than fatigue: they were marched off with chains round their necks and legs: the most robust only arrived in Fezzan in a very debilitated state, and were there fattened for the Tripoli slave market.

Our camels did not come up until it was quite dark, and we bivouacked in the midst of these unearthed remains of the victims of persecution and avarice, after a long day’s journey of twenty-six miles, in the course of which, one of our party counted 107 of these skeletons.

Dec. 19[11].—Moved round a winding pass to the west, and after an ascent of three hundred feet descended a sandy steep to the east. This was rather a picturesque spot, looking back upon Thenea. Our road lay over a long plain with a slight ridge. A fine naga (she-camel) lay down on the road this day, as I thought from fatigue. The Arabs crowded round, and commenced unloading her, when, upon inquiry, I found that she was suddenly taken in labour: about five minutes completed the operation,—a very fine little animal was literally dragged into light. It was then thrown across another camel; and the mother, after being reloaded, followed quietly after[11] her offspring. One of the skeletons we passed to-day had a very fresh appearance; the beard was still hanging to the skin of the face, and the features were still discernible. A merchant, travelling with the kafila, suddenly exclaimed, “That was my slave! I left him behind four months ago, near this spot.”—“Make haste! take him to the fsug” (market), said an Arab wag, “for fear any body else should claim him.” We had no water, and a most fatiguing day.

Dec. 20 was also a dreary day of most uninteresting country; and it was 5. 30. when we arrived at the Hormut-el-Wahr. These were the highest hills we had seen since leaving Fezzan: the highest peak might be five or six hundred feet. They had a bold black appearance, and were a relief to the eye, after the long level we had quitted. We entered the pass, which is nearly two miles in width, and wound round some high hills to the south: the path was rugged and irregular in the extreme, and bordered by bold conical and table-topped detached hills. We blundered and stumbled on until ten at night, when we found the resting-place, after a toilsome and most distressing day. We were several times foiled in our attempt to find a path into the wadey, under these hills, by which the camels might move, and where the water was. Hillman was exceedingly ill this night, and Dr. Oudney too fatigued to render him any assistance. El-Wahr is a wadey of loose gravel, and has a well of good water. This was the eighth day since our camels had tasted water: they were weak and sore-footed, from the stony nature of the passes in these hills of El-Wahr. At night it blew a hurricane.

It is three miles from where we halted to the end of the wadey; where, to the west, there is a high hill called El-Baab. These hills extend away to the east, and form part of the range which are found near Tibesty, where they become higher and bolder. We had now a stony plain, with low hills of sand and gravel, till we[12] reached El-Garha, which is a detached conical hill to the west, close to our road; and here we halted for the night[12].

Dec. 22.—We moved before daylight, passing some rough sand hills, mixed with red stone, to the west, over a plain of fine gravel, and halted at the maten, called El-Hammar, close under a bluff head, which had been in view since quitting our encampment in the morning. Strict orders had been given this day for the camels to keep close up, and for the Arabs not to straggle—the Tibboo Arabs having been seen on the look out. During the last two days, we had passed on an average from sixty to eighty or ninety skeletons each day; but the numbers that lay about the wells at El-Hammar were countless: those of two women, whose perfect and regular teeth bespoke them young, were particularly shocking; their arms still remained clasped round each other as they had expired; although the flesh had long since perished by being exposed to the burning rays of the sun, and the blackened bones only left: the nails of the fingers, and some of the sinews of the hand, also remained; and part of the tongue of one of them still appeared through the teeth. We had now passed six days of desert without the slightest appearance of vegetation, and a little branch of the souak was brought me here as a comfort and curiosity. On the following day we had alternately plains of sand and loose gravel, and had a distant view of some hills to the west. While I was dozing on my horse about noon, overcome by the heat of the sun, which at that time of the day always shone with great power, I was suddenly awakened by a crashing under his feet, which startled me excessively. I found that my steed had, without any sensation of shame or alarm, stepped upon[13] the perfect skeletons of two human beings, cracking their brittle bones under his feet, and, by one trip of his foot, separating a skull from the trunk, which rolled on like a ball before him. This event gave me a sensation which it took some time to remove. My horse was for many days not looked upon with the same regard as formerly.

Dec. 24.—When the rains fall, which they do here in torrents in the season, a sort of grass quickly springs up many feet high. In passing the desert, a few remaining roots of this dried grass, which had been blown by the winds from Bodemam, were eagerly seized on by the Arabs, with cries of joy, for their hungry camels. The plain was this day covered with slight irregularities, and strewed with various coloured stones—thick beds of gypsum, stones resembling topazes, and pieces of calcareous spar, which, reflecting the rays of the setting-sun, displayed a most beautiful variety of tints. An incrustation of fine whiting lay in patches, at no great distance from the well: and soon after the sun had retired behind the hills to the west, we descended into a wadey, where about a dozen stunted bushes (not trees) of palm marked the spot where the water was to be found. Even these miserable bushes were a great relief to the eye, after the dreary sameness of the preceding days; and at day-break in the morning, I could not help smiling at seeing Hillman gazing at them with pleasure in his look, while he declared they reminded him of a valley near his own home in the West of England. The wells are situated under a ridge of low white hills of sandstone, called Mafrasben-Kasarettsa, where there are also beds and hills of limestone. The wells were so choked up with sand, that several cart-loads of it were removed previous to finding sufficient water; and even then the animals could not drink until near ten at night.

One of our nagas had this day her accouchement on the road; and we all looked forward to the milk which the Arabs assured us[14] she had in abundance, and envied us not a little our morning draughts, which we were already quaffing in imagination. However, one of the “many slips between the cup and the lip” was to befall us. The poor thing suddenly fell, and as suddenly died: the exclamations of the Arabs were dreadful.—“The evil eye! the evil eye!” they all exclaimed—“She was sure to die, I knew it.”—“Well! if she had been mine, I would rather have lost a child, or three slaves!”—“God be praised! God is great, powerful, and wise! those looks of the people are always fatal.”

Dec. 25.—This was a beautiful mild morning: the thermometer 54. at 6. 30. Our skins were here filled with water which was not disagreeable, although strongly impregnated with sulphur. The camels moved at eight. The head of a range of high hills bore west-south-west, called Tiggerindumma: they resemble in shape and structure those we had passed nearer: they extend to the west, as far as the Arooda, five days hence, where there is a well; and ten days beyond which is Ghraat. At the distance of four miles from Mafras, we came to a small wadey, where we saw the first dome date trees: they were full of fruit, though green. We continued winding amongst a nest of hills,—crossed two water-courses, in which were tulloh and dry grass (ashub), until seven. These hills are bold and picturesque, composed of black and coloured sandstone. No water.

Dec. 26[13].—We emerged from the hills, and broke into a plain, extending to the east as far as the eye could reach; to the west, Tiggerindumma sweeps off, and forming nearly a semi-circle, appears again to the south, a very handsome range, though not exceeding[15] six hundred feet at any part in height. After passing between two low ridges of dark hills, we opened on a plain bounded with flat-topped and conical hills, called La Gaba. We found pieces of iron ore this day, kidney-shaped, and of various other forms. We travelled till nine at night, when some of us were nearly falling from our horses with fatigue. After a narrow stony pass, we came to a halt in a wadey called Izhya.

Here we had a gale of wind from the north-east for three days. Our tents were nearly buried in sand, and we were obliged to roll ourselves up in blankets nearly the whole time.

Dec. 30.—Izhya is called by the Tibboos Yaat. There are here four wells, which resemble troughs cut in the sand, two or three feet deep; and it is said, that by thus digging, water may be found in any part of the wadey. We were encamped nearly west of the wells, about one hundred yards between them and a raas, or head, which had been in sight for some time. This head is a land-mark to kafilas, coming in all directions, who wish to make the wadey. We passed Ametradumma about four hours; from which, to the north-west, is a wadey of palms, called Seggedem, with sweet water: here is generally a tribe of plundering Tibboos, who are always on the look out for small kafilas. No water.

Dec. 31.—A cold shivering morning. At 7. 30. thermometer 49., and we had a long day’s march over a plain, varying but little from Izhya. The Arabs had no knowledge of the road; and the Tibboo guide was all we had to rely on. We kept on until late, when the Tibboo acknowledged he had lost the road, that the well was not far off, but where he knew not; we therefore halted under some low brown sandstone hills, and determined on waiting for the daylight. We lost a camel this day from fatigue.


On the 1st January, after six miles’ travelling, we came to the wadey Ikbar, and rested on the 2d. The Arabs here caught an hyæna (dhubba), and brought it to us: we, however, had no wish beyond looking at it. They then tied it to a tree, and shot at it until the poor animal was literally knocked to pieces. This was the most refreshing spot we had seen for many days; there were dome trees loaded with fruit, though not ripe, which lay in clusters, and grass in abundance; and I could have stayed here a week with pleasure, so reviving is the least appearance of cultivation, or rather a sprinkling of Nature’s beauty, after the parching wilds of the long dreary desert we had passed.

Jan. 3.—Looking back with regret at leaving the few green branches in Ikbar, with nothing before us but the dark hills and sandy desert, we ascended slightly from the wadey, and leaving the hills of Ikbar, proceeded towards a prominent head in a low range to the east of our course, called Tummeraskumma, meaning “you’ll soon drink water;” and about two miles in advance, we halted just under a ridge of the same hills, after making twenty-four miles. Four camels knocked up during this day’s march: on such occasions the Arabs wait, in savage impatience, in the rear, with their knives in their hands, ready, on the signal of the owner, to plunge them into the poor animal, and tear off a portion of the flesh for their evening meal. We were obliged to kill two of them on the spot; the other two, it was hoped, would come up in the night. I attended the slaughter of one; and despatch being the order of the day, a knife is struck in the camel’s heart while his head is turned to the east, and he dies almost in an instant; but before that instant expires, a dozen knives are thrust into different parts of the carcass, in order to carry off the choicest part of the flesh. The heart, considered as the greatest delicacy, is torn out, the skin stripped from the breast[17] and haunches, part of the meat cut, or rather torn, from the bones, and thrust into bags, which they carry for the purpose; and the remainder of the carcass is left for the crows, vultures, and hyænas, while the Arabs quickly follow the kafila.

Drawn by Captn. Clapperton. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Jan. 4.—We crossed the ridge before us by eight this morning, and proceeded between a conical hill to the east and one to the west, called Gummaganumma. We had a fine open space of a mile in width between these hills, and about noon we came to a large mass of dark, soft sandstone, one hundred feet in height; about twenty yards from this stone is a rising well of water, only a few inches deep, and a sprinkling of coarse grass. Arabs call the spot “Irchat,” Tibboos, “Anay.” The sultan’s army halted here two days, on its return from Begharmi.

The town of Anay consists of a few huts built on the top of a similar mass of stone to the one we had just left; round the base of the rock are also habitations, but their riches are always kept aloft. The Tuaricks annually, and sometimes oftener, pay them a most destructive visit, carrying off cattle and every thing they can lay their hands on. The people on these occasions take refuge at the top of the rock; they ascend by a rude ladder, which is drawn up after them; and as the sides of their citadel are always precipitous, they defend themselves with their missiles, and by rolling down stones on the assailants. The people who came out to meet us had each four short spears and one long one.

Jan. 5.—The Sultan Tibboo, whose territory extends from this place to Bilma, was visiting a town to the south-west of Anay, called Kisbee, and he requested Boo-Khaloom to halt there one day, promising to proceed with him to Bilma; we accordingly made Kisbee this day, distant five miles. Our animals got some pickings of dry grass.

Kisbee is a great place of rendezvous for all kafilas and merchants; and it is here that the sultan always takes his tribute for[18] permission to pass through his country. It is eight days distant from Aghadis, twenty-four from Kashna, and, by good travelling by the nearest road, twenty-seven from Bornou[14]. The sultan had neither much majesty nor cleanliness of appearance: he came to Boo-Khaloom’s tent accompanied by six or seven Tibboos, some of them really hideous. They take a quantity of snuff both in their mouths and noses; their teeth were of a deep yellow; the nose resembles nothing so much as a round lump of flesh stuck on the face; and the nostrils are so large, that their fingers go up as far as they will reach, in order to ensure the snuff an admission into the head. My watch, compass, and musical snuff-box, created but little astonishment; they looked at their own faces in the bright covers, and were most stupidly inattentive to what would have excited the wonder of almost any imagination, however savage: here was the “os sublime,” but the “spiritus intus,” the “mens divinior,” was scarcely discoverable. Boo-Khaloom gave the sultan a fine scarlet bornouse, which seemed a little to animate his stupid features. We had a dance by Tibboo-men performed in front of our tents, in the evening: it is graceful and slow, but not so well adapted to the male as the female; it was succeeded by one performed by some free slaves from Soudan, who were living with the Tibboos, enjoying their liberty, as they said. It appears most violent exertion: one man is placed in the middle of a circle, which he endeavours to break, and each one whom he approaches throws him off, while he adds to the impetus by a leap, and ascends several feet from the ground:—when one has completed the round, another takes his place.

An Arab returned this evening, whom I had sent the night before for the purpose of finding a poodle dog which had accompanied me from Malta, and had remained behind from fatigue, the day we[19] left Ikbar: he was unsuccessful, and said that some of the wandering Tibboos must have eaten him; he had found marks in the sand of the footsteps of these people, and the remains of the two camels we had left on the road were carried off: he traced their steps to the east, but was afraid to follow them. It is from these wanderers that small kafilas, or single merchants, have to dread attack. Generally speaking, the regular sheikhs are satisfied by levying a tax, while these are contented with nothing short of the whole.

Jan. 6.—At seven the thermometer was 42° in the tent.—About five miles from Kisbee we left a wadey called Kilboo, by the Tibboos Trona to our left, and coming close under the ridge of hills at a point called Ametrigamma, we proceeded to Ashenumma, which is about four miles beyond, with the high hills to the east, and a very pleasing wadey to the west, producing palm and other trees. A violent disturbance arose this morning on the road among our Arabs; one of them having shot a ball through the shirt of another of the Magarha tribe: the sheikh of the Magarha took up the quarrel, and the man saved himself from being punished, by hanging to the stirrup leather of my saddle. The Arab sheikh made use of some expressions in defending his man, which displeased Boo-Khaloom, who instantly knocked him off his horse, and his slaves soundly bastinadoed him.

Tiggema, near which we halted, is one of the highest points in the range, and hangs over the mud houses of the town: this point stands at the south extremity of the recess, which the hills here form, and is about four hundred feet high; the sides are nearly perpendicular, and it is detached from the other hills by a chasm. On the approach of the Tuaricks the whole population flock to the top of these heights, with all their property, and make the best defence they can. The insides of some of the houses are neat and tidy; the men are generally travelling merchants, or rather pedlers, and probably do not pass more than four months in the year with their[20] families, for the Tibboos rarely go beyond Bornou to the south, or Mourzuk to the north; they appeared light-hearted, and happy as people constantly in dread of such visitors as the Tuaricks can be, who spare neither age nor sex. A wadey, comparatively fertile, extends several miles parallel to the heights under which the village stands, producing dates and grass in abundance, and a salt water or trona lake is within two miles of them, in which are wild fowl. Mr. Clapperton shot two of the plover species, with spurs on their wings. A general caution was given for no person to go out of the circle after sunset.

Jan. 8[15].—Our course was still under the range of hills, and at five miles distance we came to another town called Alighi, and two miles beyond that another called Tukumani: these towns were built to the south of, and sheltered by slight projections from, the hills under which they were placed. The people always came out to meet us, and when within about fifty paces of the horses, fell on their knees singing and beating a sort of drum, which always accompanies their rejoicing. To the west of both these towns is a salt lake resembling the one near Ashenumma, but rather smaller. We proceeded from hence nearly south-west, leaving the hills, and while resting under the shade of some gourd trees, which are here abundant, we had the agreeable, and to us very novel, sight of a drove of oxen: the bare idea of once more being in a country that afforded beef and pasture was consoling in the extreme, and the luxurious thought of fresh milk, wholesome food, and plenty, was most exhilarating to us all. At two we came to a halt at Dirkee. A good deal of powder was[21] here expended in honour of the sultan, who again met us on our approach: his new scarlet bornouse was thrown over a filthy checked shirt, and his turban and cap, though once white, were rapidly approaching to the colour of the head they covered; when, however, the next morning his majesty condescended to ask me for a small piece of soap, these little negligences in his outward appearance were more easily accounted for.

We had rather a numerous assembly of females, who danced for some hours before the tents: some of their movements were not inelegant, and not unlike the Greek dances as they are represented. The sultan regaled us with cheese, and ground nuts from Soudan, the former of a pleasant flavour, but so hard that we were obliged to moisten it with water previous to eating. Dirkee is of a different description from the Tibboo towns we had seen: it stands in a wadey, is a mile in circumference, and it has two trona lakes, one to the east, and the other to the west. Of this saline substance an account will be found in the Appendix.—It is generally supposed that these lakes were originally caused by taking from the spot they now occupy the earth which was required for building the town, and its surrounding walls. Water, as we have before observed, is found in many parts of this country, at the depth of from six inches to six feet, and the soil near the surface, particularly in the neighbourhood of these Tibboo towns, is very powerfully impregnated by saline substances; so much so, that incrustations of pure, or nearly pure, trona are found sometimes extending several miles. The borders of these lakes have the same appearance: they are composed of a black mud, which almost as soon as exposed to the sun and air becomes crisp like fresh dug earth in a frosty morning. In the centre of each of these lakes is a solid body or island of trona, which the inhabitants say increases in size annually: the one in the lake to the east is probably fourteen or fifteen feet in height, and one hundred in circumference: the edges quite close to the water are[22] solid, nor is there any appearance of mud or slime; it breaks off in firm pieces, but is easily reduced to powder[16]. There are several wells in the town of tolerably good water very slightly impregnated with the trona taste.

Dirkee, from its situation in the wadey, is more exposed to the attacks of the Tuaricks than the towns nearer the hills, and on this account, they say, it is so thinly peopled. The houses have literally nothing within them, not even a mat; and a few women and old men are the only inhabitants: the men, they said, were all on journeys, or at Kisbee, Ashenumma, or Bilma, where they go themselves after the date season. During the time we halted here, the women brought us dates fancifully strung on rushes in the shape of hearts with much ingenuity, and a few pots of honey and fat.

We halted two days. So many of Boo-Khaloom’s camels had fallen on the road, that notwithstanding all their peaceable professions, a marauding party was sent out to plunder some maherhies, and bring them in; an excursion that was sanctioned by the sultan, who gave them instructions as to the route they were to take. The former deeds of the Arabs are, however, still in the memory of the Tibboos, and they had increased the distance between their huts and the high road by a timely striking of their tents. But nine camels of the maherhy species were brought in, yet not without a skirmish: a fresh party was despatched, and did not return at night. We were all ordered to remain loaded, and no one was allowed to quit the circle in which the tents were pitched.

On the 11th we proceeded along the wadey. The thickly scattered mimosa trees afforded some very delightful varieties of shade. Our[23] course was nearly two miles distant from the hills[17], which are all here called Tiggema. After our march, while waiting for the coming up of the camels, the Tibboos tried their skill with the spear, and were far more expert than I expected to see them; the arm is bent, and the hand not higher than the right shoulder, when they discharge the spear: as it leaves the hand, they give it a strong twist with the fingers, and as it flies it spins in the air. An old man of sixty struck a tree twice at twenty yards; and another, a powerful young man, threw the spear full eighty yards: when it strikes the ground, it sometimes bends nearly double: all who travel on foot carry two. Another weapon, which a Tibboo carries, is a sword of a very peculiar form, called hungamunga; of these they sometimes carry three or four. The Arabs, who had been out foraging, returned with thirteen camels, which they had much difficulty in bringing: the Tibboos had followed them several miles. We had patroles the whole night, who, to awaken us for the purpose of assuring us they were awake themselves, were constantly exclaiming Balek-ho, the watchword of the Arabs. We had near us a well of very good water amidst high grass and agoul. On the surface was a saline incrustation of several inches in thickness; below, a sandstone rock, and at a depth of two feet, water clear and good. We had also this day a dish of venison, one of the Arabs having succeeded in shooting two gazelles; many of which had crossed our path for the last three days. On finding a young one, only a few days old, the tawny, wily rogue instantly lay down in the grass, imitated the cry of the young one, and as[24] the mother came bounding towards the spot, he shot her in the throat.

On the 12th we reached Bilma[18], the capital of the Tibboos, and the residence of their sultan, who, having always managed to get before and receive us, advanced a mile from the town attended by some fifty of his men at arms, and double the number of the sex we call fair. The men had most of them bows and arrows, and all[25] carried spears: they approached Boo Khaloom, shaking them in the air over their heads; and after this salutation we all moved on towards the town, the females dancing, and throwing themselves about with screams and songs in a manner to us quite original. They were of a superior class to those of the minor towns; some having extremely pleasing features, while the pearly white of their regular teeth was beautifully contrasted with the glossy black of their skin, and the triangular flaps of plaited hair, which hung down on each side of their faces, streaming with oil, with the addition of the coral in the nose, and large amber necklaces, gave them a very seducing appearance. Some of them carried a sheish, a fan made of soft grass, or hair, for the purpose of keeping off the flies; others a branch of a tree, and some fans of ostrich feathers, or a bunch of keys: all had something in their hands, which they wave over their heads as they advance. One wrapper of Soudan tied on the top of the left shoulder, leaving the right breast bare, formed their covering, while a smaller one was thrown over the head, which hung down to their shoulders, or was thrown back at pleasure: notwithstanding the apparent scantiness of their habiliments, nothing could be farther from indelicate than was their appearance or deportment.

On arriving at Bilma, we halted under the shade of a large tulloh tree while the tents were pitching; and the women danced with great taste, and, as I was assured by the sultan’s nephew, with skill also. As they approach each other, accompanied by the slow beat of an instrument formed out of a gourd, covered with goat’s skin, for a long time their movements are confined to the head, hands, and body, which they throw from one side to the other, flourish in the air, and bend without moving the feet; suddenly, however, the music becomes quicker and louder, when they start into the most violent gestures, rolling their heads round, gnashing their teeth, and shaking their hands at each other, leaping up, and[26] on each side, until one or both are so exhausted that they fall to the ground: another pair then take their place.

I now, for the first time, produced Captain Lyon’s book in Boo Khaloom’s tent, and on turning over the prints of the natives he swore, and exclaimed, and insisted upon it, that he knew every face:—“This was such a one’s slave—that was his own—he was right—he knew it. Praised be God for the talents he gave the English! they were shater, clever; wolla shater, very clever!” Of a landscape, however, I found that he had not the least idea; nor could I make him at all understand the intention of the print of the sand-wind in the desert, which is really so well described by Captain Lyon’s drawing; he would look at it upside down; and when I twice reversed it for him, he exclaimed, “Why! why! it is all the same.” A camel or a human figure was all I could make him understand, and at these he was all agitation and delight—“Gieb! gieb! Wonderful! wonderful!” The eyes first took his attention, then the other features: at the sight of the sword, he exclaimed, “Allah! Allah!” and on discovering the guns instantly exclaimed, “Where is the powder?” This want of perception, as I imagined, in so intelligent a man, excited at first my surprise; but perhaps just the same would an European have felt under similar circumstances. Were an European to attain manhood without ever casting his eye upon the representation of a landscape on paper, would he immediately feel the particular beauties of the picture, the perspective and the distant objects? Certainly not: it is from our opportunities of contemplating works of art, even in the common walks of life, as well as to cultivation of mind, and associations of the finer feelings by an intercourse with the enlightened and accomplished, that we owe our quick perception in matters of this kind, rather than from nature.

To the south of Bilma are marshes with pools of stagnant water, which our horses could scarcely drink. The town stands in a hollow,[27] and is surrounded by low mud walls, which, with the houses within, are mean and miserable. About two miles north of the town are a few huts, and near them several lakes, in which are great quantities of very pure crystallized salt: some was brought to us for sale in baskets, beautifully white, and of an excellent flavour. On visiting the two most productive lakes, which lay between low sand hills, I expressed my surprise at the difference between that which the Tibboos were carrying away from the heaps by the side of the water, and that which I had seen the day before: I however found that their time for gathering the salt was at the end of the dry season, when it was taken, in large masses, from the borders of the lake. This transparent kind they put into bags, and send to Bornou and Soudan; a coarser sort is also formed into hard pillars, and for which a ready market is found. In Soudan, a single pillar weighing eleven pounds brings four or five dollars. The Tuaricks supply themselves with salt entirely from the wadeys of the Tibboos. Twenty thousand bags of salt were said to have been carried off during the last year by the Tuaricks alone. The Tibboos say, “It is hard to rob us, not only for their own consumption, but for the purposes of commerce too; and in consequence of paying nothing for the commodity, undersell us likewise in the Soudan market.” But the Tibboos must be another people before they can keep the Tuaricks from plundering their country: a people who neither plant nor sow; whose education consists in managing a maherhy, and the use of the spear; and who live by plundering those around them, as well as those whom necessity or chance may lead to pass through their own country.

About a mile from Bilma is a spring of beautiful clear water, which rises to the surface of the earth, and waters a space of two or three hundred yards in circumference, which is covered with fresh grass: but passing this, the traveller must bid adieu to every appearance of vegetable production, and enter on a desert which[28] requires thirteen days to cross. Near the first hill of sand I succeeded, with the assistance of two Arabs, in catching a small beautiful animal, nearly white, much resembling a fox in make and shape, although not larger than a moderate-sized cat. It was of the species called fitchet: the belly was white, and the back and rest of the body of a light brown colour; the tail was bushy like that of the fox, nearly white, and the end of the hair tipped with black.

Jan. 16.—Our road lay over loose hills of fine sand, in which the camels sank nearly knee-deep. In passing these desert wilds, where hills disappear in a single night by the drifting of the sand, and where all traces of the passage, even of a large kafila, sometimes vanish in a few hours, the Tibboos have certain points in the dark sandstone ridges, which from time to time raise their heads in the midst of this dry ocean of sand, and form the only variety, and by them they steer their course. From one of these landmarks we waded through sand formed into hills from twenty to sixty feet in height, with nearly perpendicular sides, the camels blundering and falling with their heavy loads. The greatest care is taken by the drivers in descending these banks: the Arabs hang with all their weight on the animal’s tail, by which means they steady him in his descent. Without this precaution the camel generally falls forward, and, of course, all he carries goes over his head. We halted at Kaflorum (where the kafila stops), which is a nest of hills of coarse, dark sandstone: an irregular peak to the east is called Gusser, or the castle. At the end of these hills, about two miles from the road, lies a wadey called Zow Seghrir, in which grows the suag tree, and also grass. Our course was south; but we were obliged to wind round the different sand hills in order to avoid the rapid descents, which were so distressing to the camels. We bivouacked under a head called Zow (the Difficult), to the east, where we found several wells.

Jan. 18.—The sand hills were less high to-day, but the[29] animals sank so deep, that it was a tedious day for all. Four camels of Boo Khaloom’s gave in; two were killed by the Arabs, and two were left to the chance of coming up before morning. Tremendously dreary are these marches: as far as the eye can reach, billows of sand bound the prospect. On seeing the solitary foot passenger of the kafila, with his water-flask in his hand, and bag of zumeeta on his head, sink at a distance beneath the slope of one of these, as he plods his way alone, hoping to gain a few paces in his long day’s work, by not following the track of the camels, one trembles for his safety:—the obstacle passed which concealed him from the view, the eye is strained towards the spot in order to be assured that he has not been buried quick in the treacherous overwhelming sand.

An unfortunate merchant of Tripoli, Mohamed N’diff, who had suffered much on the road from an enlarged spleen, was here advised to undergo the operation of burning with a red-hot iron, the sovereign Arab remedy for almost every disorder: he consented; and, previous to our move this morning, he was laid down on his back, and, while five or six Arabs held him on the sand, the rude operators burnt him on the left side, under the ribs, in three places, nearly the size of a sixpence each. The iron was again placed in the fire, and while heating, the thumbs of about a dozen Arabs were thrust in different parts of the poor man’s side, to know if the pressure pained him, until his flesh was so bruised, that he declared all gave him pain: four more marks with the iron were now made near the former ones, upon which he was turned on his face, and three larger made within two inches of the back bone. One would have thought the operation was now at an end; but an old Arab, who had been feeling his throat for some time, declared a hot iron, and a large burn, absolutely necessary just above the collarbone, on the same side. The poor man submitted with wonderful patience to all this mangling, and after drinking a draught of water,[30] moved on with the camels. We made this day twenty-one miles, and halted at Chukœma, which means half way. We lost more than twenty of our camels this day, by their straying out of the path.

Jan. 20.—We were promised to find water early; and as the animals had not drank the night before, we pushed on with our horses: we were told the wells were near; but it was a long twenty miles, over loose rolling sand hills. At less than half way, we passed two hills of dark sandstone, called Geisgae (Dhubba—the hyena), which had been in sight great part of yesterday; and at 1. 30. arrived at a wadey called Dibla (Inchat tegeel—heavy stone). In the wadey near is a little sprinkling of rusty grass, which the animals devoured with an avidity that would have done credit to better fare. The water was extremely brackish, and strongly impregnated with trona; but it was fresh and cool, and therefore a delightful beverage to us.

In the wadey Dibla stands a detached conical table-topped hill: the summit had a black rugged appearance from below, and was formed of a sort of bituminous earth, dry and crumbling to the touch. Under this were layers or strata of thin plates, almost resembling foil, of brittle schistose clay, of black, yellow, and green: these also crumbled on receiving the pressure of the hand[19]. About[31] ten miles from Dibla we came to Chegarub, and four miles further to Kersherma, where we rested for the night. No wood or water.

Jan. 22.—A tedious day over sandy deserts, without even the relief of a dark hill to look forward to. About sun-set we came to a spot with some little sprinkling of a grass called sbeet, and some fine grass, with a flower called nisse. Made twenty-four miles, and halted at Kasama-foma-hamse, or the five trees. No wood nor water. Alarm of Tibboos,—all mounted and turned out.

Jan. 23.—Desert as yesterday. High sand hills[20]. Burmenmadua (all sand). At three in the afternoon, we arrived at an extensive wadey, called Aghadem. Here are several wells of excellent water, forage, and numbers of the tree called suag, the red berries of which are nearly as good as cranberries. We broke in on the retreats of about a hundred gazelles, who were enjoying the fertility of the valley. It was, however, with great difficulty, from their extreme shyness, that we shot one, which afforded us an ample meal. A road[32] here branched off to the westward, leading to the Tuarick country, and Soudan, but not frequented by kafilas. Aghadem is a great rendezvous, and the dread of all small kafilas and travellers. It is frequented by freebooters of all descriptions.

Jan. 24, we halted. The thermometer, in the shade of my tent, was 101°. at half-past two. The animals were all enjoying the blessings of plenty in the ravines, which ran through the range of low black hills, extending nearly north and south, quite across the valley. The camels, in particular, feasted on the small branches of the suag, of which they are fond to excess. The tracks of the hyæna had been numerous for the last three days; and last night they approached in droves quite close to our encampment.

My telescope this evening afforded great delight to Boo-Khaloom, the brother of the kadi at Mourzuk, Mohamed Abeedeen, and several others, for more than an hour. I usually passed some time every evening in Boo-Khaloom’s tent, and had promised them a sight of the moon grib (near), for some time. One old hadje, who obtained a sight by my assistance, for he could not fix the glass on the object, after an exclamation of wonder, looked me fully in the face, spoke not a word, but walked off as fast as he could, repeating words from the Koran. This conduct, I was pleased to see, brought down the ridicule of the others, who were gratified beyond measure, and asked a hundred questions. The night was beautifully serene and clear, and the three splendid constellations of Orion, Canis Major, and Taurus, presented a coup d’œil truly impressive and sublime.

Jan. 25.—The camels moved off soon after eight; and we took shelter from the sun under the shade of some clumps, covered with high grass, near the wells, in order that the horses might drink at the moment of our departure. We had three or four long days to the next water; and the camels were too fatigued to carry more than one day’s food for the horses. While we were in this situation, two[33] Arabs, who had gone on with the camels, came galloping back, to say that they had encountered two Tibboo couriers, on their way from Bornou to Mourzuk. They soon made their appearance, mounted on maherhies, only nine days from Kouka. They brought news that the Sheikh Kanemy had just returned from a successful expedition against the sultan of Begharmi; that he had attacked and routed a powerful tribe of Arabs, called la Sala; and that the sultan, on hearing this, had fled as before to the south side of the Great River, amongst the Kirdies.

We proceeded on our route, which was along a continued desert; and at sun-set halted on the sand, without either wood or water, after twenty-four miles. The courier from Bornou to Mourzuk assured us, that he should not be more than thirty days on the road from where we left him. Since Sheikh Kanemy’s residence at Kouka, couriers have occasionally passed between Bornou and Mourzuk,—a circumstance before that event unknown. One of Kanemy’s wives and three children were in Mourzuk; and the Bashaw, in order to secure his perfect submission, refused to allow them to leave that place. The Tibboos are the only people who will undertake this most arduous service; and the chances are so much against both returning in safety, that one is never sent alone. The two men we had encountered were mounted on two superb maherhies, and proceeding at the rate of about six miles an hour. A bag of zumeeta (some parched corn), and one or two skins for water, with a small brass basin, with a wooden bowl, out of which they ate and drank, were all their comforts. A little meat, cut in strips and dried in the sun, called gedeed, is sometimes added to the store, which they eat raw; for they rarely light a fire for the purpose of cooking, although the want of this comfort during the nights, on approaching Fezzan, where the cold winds are sometimes biting after the day’s heat, is often fatal to such travellers. A bag is suspended under the tail of the maherhy, by which means the[34] dung is preserved, and serves as fuel on halting in the night. Without a kafila, and a sufficient number of camels to carry such indispensables as wood and water, it is indeed a perilous journey.

On the 27th we appeared gradually approaching something resembling vegetation: we had rising sands and clumps of fine grass the whole way; and the country was not unlike some of our heaths in England. Towards evening the trees increased greatly in number; and where we halted, the animals found abundance of food. The tulloh trees, the kossom (a very beautiful parasitical plant), and the herbage, were most refreshing to our parched feelings, although in reality they were of the most dingy green and stunted appearance. A herd of more than a hundred gazelles crossed us towards the evening; and the foot-marks of the ostrich, and some of its feathers, were discovered by the Arabs. The spot where we halted is called Geogo Balwy.

Jan. 28.—We met two Tibboos this day, who informed us that the Tuaricks had been to Kanem, eight hundred strong, and had carried off every thing from two towns. The Arabs were all anxiety to fall in with them, and rob the true rogues. The route resembled that of yesterday. Early in the day we made Beere-Kashifery. The well here was of great depth; Arabs were obliged to descend into it, and throw out several loads of sand, before any water could be drawn, and which occupied them the greater part of the night. By daylight the next morning, Mina Tahr, or the black bird, the sheikh of the Gunda Tibboos, attended by three of his followers, approached the camp. Beere-Kashifery lay within his territories, and no kafilas pass without paying tribute, which, as he is absolute, sometimes amounts to half what they possess. In our case, his was a visit of respect: Boo-Khaloom received him in his tent, and clothed him in a scarlet bornouse of coarse cloth, and a tawdry silk caftan, which was considered as a superb present. The Tibboos are smart active fellows, mounted on small horses, of great[35] swiftness: their saddles are of wood, small and light, open along the bone of the back; the pieces of wood of which it is composed are lashed together with thongs of hide; the stuffing is camel’s hair, wound and plaited, so as to be a perfect guard; the girth and stirrup leathers are also of plaited thongs, and the stirrups themselves of iron, very small and light; into these four toes only are thrust, the great toe being left to take its chance. They mount quickly, in half the time an Arab does, by the assistance of a spear, which they place in the ground, at the same time the left foot is planted in the stirrup; and thus they spring into their saddle. The bridle is light, but severe; the reins and head-stall of strips of hide, fancifully twisted and plaited.

Our camels had not finished drinking until the sun was full six fathom high, as the Arabs say; and as we were in want of fresh meat, and, indeed, every thing, Mina Tahr proposed that we should go to a well nearer his people—a well, he assured us, which was never yet shown to an Arab. At eleven, therefore, on the 29th of January, we moved on, accompanied by the Tibboos, nine miles nearly south; where, about half a mile west of the road, we came to the well Duggesheinga: here were the marks of immense herds, which had been drinking in the morning. This was a retired spot, undiscoverable from the ordinary route of travellers, from which it was completely hid by rising sand hills. Here the Tibboos left us, promising to return early the day after with sheep, an ox, honey, and fat. This was joyful news to persons who had not tasted fresh animal food for fourteen or fifteen days, with the exception of a little camel’s flesh. We were terribly annoyed the whole of the day by a strong easterly wind, and such volumes of sand, as quite obscured the face of nature.

Jan. 30.—The wind and drifting sand were so violent, that we were obliged to keep our tents the whole day; besides this, I was more disordered than I had been since leaving Mourzuk. I found[36] a loose shirt only the most convenient covering, as the sand could be shaken off as soon as it made a lodgment, which, with other articles of dress, could not be done, and the irritation it caused produced a soreness almost intolerable: a little oil or fat from the hand of a negress (all of whom are early taught the art of shampooing to perfection), rubbed well round the neck, loins, and back, is the best cure, and the greatest comfort, in cases of this kind; and although, from my Christian belief, I was deprived of the luxury of possessing half a dozen of these shampooing beauties, yet, by marrying my negro Barca to one of the bashaw’s freed women slaves, as I had done at Sockna, I became, to a certain degree, also the master of Zerega, whose education in the castle had been of a superior kind; and she was of the greatest use to me on these occasions of fatigue or sickness. It is an undoubted fact, and in no case probably better exemplified than in my own, that man naturally longs for attentions and support from female hands, of whatever colour or country, so soon as debility or sickness comes upon him.

Towards the evening, when the wind became hushed and the sky re-assumed its bright and truly celestial blue, the Tibboo Sheikh, and about thirty of his people, male and female, returned, but their supplies were scanty for a kafila of three hundred persons. The sweet milk turned out nothing but sour camel’s milk, full of dirt and sand, and the fat was in small quantities and very rancid. We, however, purchased a lean sheep for two dollars, which was indeed a treat. Great precaution must always be taken on procuring meat, after long abstaining from animal food: eating more than a very moderate quantity ever disorders the stomach, which is often succeeded by fever, ague, and all its attendant evils: although not gormandizers, some of us suffered from too great an indulgence in the luxuries of boiled mutton. Illness here should be the more avoided, from its being altogether of a nature different from illness elsewhere: the attacks are sudden, and render a person incapable[37] of any exertion, leaving him in a state of weakness and debility scarcely credible to those who have not been eye-witnesses of the fact.

Some of the girls who brought the milk, &c. were really pretty as contrasted with the extreme ugliness of the men: they were different from those of Bilma; were more of a copper colour, with high foreheads and a sinking between the eyes: they have fine teeth, and are smaller and more delicately formed than the Tibboos who inhabit the towns. The men brought, as a present to Boo-Khaloom, two beautiful maherhies; one of them was a most superb animal, and measured nine feet and a half from the ground to the middle of the back: they also brought a horse or two for sale. Their animals are their only riches; and Mina Tahr told me, that their tribe had more than five thousand camels: on the milk of these animals they entirely live for six months in the year, and for the remaining half year they manage to raise from their barren soil sufficient gussub (a species of millet) to satisfy their wants. Formerly, when they had little or no communication with Fezzan and Bornou, they were nearly naked, as their crops of cotton were scarcely sufficient, from the dryness and poverty of the soil, to afford them covering. Now the Kafilas bring them indigo, cotton, and ready-spun linen in strips, with which they make tobes and wrappers: for these, when they are not given as tribute, the Tibboos exchange the skins and feathers of the ostrich, with dried meat of gazelles and bullocks.

Two of the horses were very handsome, though small; and on remarking their extreme fatness, I was not a little surprised at learning that they were fed entirely on camels’ milk, corn being too scarce and valuable an article for the Tibboos to spare them: they drink it both sweet and sour; and animals in higher health and condition I scarcely ever saw. It is quite surprising with what terror these children of the desert view the Arabs, and the idea[38] they have of their invincibility; while they are smart active fellows themselves, and both ride and move better and quicker: but the guns! the guns! are their dread; and five or six of them will go round and round a tree, where an Arab has laid down his gun for a minute, stepping on tiptoe, as if afraid of disturbing it, talking to each other in a whisper, as if the gun could understand their exclamations; and I dare say, praying to it not to do them an injury, as fervently as ever man Friday did to Robinson Crusoe’s musket.

None of the Gunda Tibboos were above the middle size, slim, well made, with sharp, intelligent, copper-coloured faces, large prominent eyes, flat noses, large mouth and teeth, regular, but stained a deep red, from the immoderate use of tobacco; the forehead is high; and the turban, which is a deep indigo colour, is worn high on the head, and brought under the chin and across the face, so as to cover all the lower part from the nose downwards: they have sometimes fifteen or twenty charms, in red, green, and black leather cases, attached to the folds of their turbans.

Most of them have scars on different parts of their faces: these generally denote their rank, and are considered as an ornament. Our sheikh had one under each eye, with one more on each side of his forehead, in shape resembling a half moon. Like the Arabs of the north, their chieftainships are hereditary, provided the heir is worthy; any act of cowardice disqualifies, and the command devolves upon the next in succession. Our Gunda sheikh, Mina Tahr-ben-Soogo-Lammo, was the seventh in regular succession. This tribe is called Nafra Gunda, and are always near Beere-Kashifery.

My watch pleased him wonderfully at first; but after a little time, I found that looking at himself in the bright part of the inside of the case gave him the greatest satisfaction: they are vainer than the vainest. Mina Tahr had the finest clothes on that had ever been brought to Beere-Kashifery; and what to him could be so[39] agreeable as contemplating the reflection of his own person so decked out? I could not help giving him a small looking-glass; and he took his station in one corner of my tent for hours, surveying himself with a satisfaction that burst from his lips in frequent exclamations of joy, and which he also occasionally testified by sundry high jumps and springs into the air.

Jan. 31.—After regaining the road, we moved until noon, when our horses were watered at a well called Kanimani (or the sheep’s well), where some really sweet milk was brought us in immensely large basket bottles, some holding two gallons and more. We had drank, and acknowledged its goodness, and how grateful it was to our weak stomachs, before finding out that it was camels’ milk.

No traveller in Africa should imagine that this he could not bear, or that could not be endured. It is wonderful how a man’s taste conforms itself to his necessities. Six months ago, camels’ milk would have acted upon us as an emetic; now we thought it a most refreshing and grateful cordial. The face of the country improved in appearance every mile. We passed along to-day what seemed to us a most joyous valley, smiling in flowery grasses, tulloh trees, and kossom. About mid-day, we halted in a luxurious shade, the ground covered with creeping vines of the colycinth in full blossom, which, with the red flower of the kossom which drooped over our heads, made our resting-place a little Arcadia. Towards the evening, we saw two very large black vultures (aglou, in Bornou), but were not near enough to shoot them; and at sun-set we pitched the tents, surrounded by forage for our horses, while the half-famished camels fed on the young branches of the tulloh. The place was called Auoul Mull (before Mull).

Feb. 1.—By three in the morning our people commenced packing, and by daylight we moved off. The herbage, almost resembling wild corn, was often up to our horses’ knees. We killed to-day one[40] of the largest serpents we had seen: it is called liffa by the Arabs, and its bite is said to be mortal, unless the part is instantly cut out. It is a mistaken idea, that all the serpent tribe are called liffa; this species alone bears the name: it has two horns, and is of a light brown colour. My old Choush Ghreneim had a distorted foot, which was of but little use to him except on horseback, from the bite of one of these poisonous reptiles, notwithstanding the part infected was cut out: he was for thirteen months confined to his hut, and never expected to recover.

Arabs are always on the look out for plunder: “’Tis my vocation, Hal!”—none are ashamed to acknowledge it; but they were on this occasion to act as an escort to oppose banditti, not play the part of one. Nevertheless, greatly dissatisfied were they, at having come so far, and done so little: they formed small parties for reconnoitring on each side of the road, and were open-mouthed for any thing that would offer. One fellow on foot had traced the marks of a flock of sheep to a small village of tents to the east of our course, and now gave notice of the discovery he had made, but that they had seen him, and he believed struck their tents. I felt that I should be a check upon them in the plunderings. Boo-Khaloom, myself, and about a dozen horsemen (who had each a footman behind him), instantly started for their retreat, which lay over the hills to the east. On arriving at the spot, in a valley of considerable beauty, where these flocks and tents had been observed, we found the place quite deserted. The poor frighted shepherds had moved off with their all, knowing too well what would be their treatment from the Naz Abiad (white people), as they call the Arabs. Their caution, however, was made the excuse for plundering them, and a pursuit was instantly determined on. “What! not stay to sell their sheep, the rogues! We’ll take them now without payment.” We scoured two valleys without discovering the fugitives, and I began to hope that the Tibboos had eluded their pursuers, when, after crossing a[41] deep ravine, and ascending the succeeding ridge, we came directly on about two hundred head of cattle, and about twenty persons, men, women, and children, with ten camels laden with their tents and other necessaries, all moving off. The extra Arabs instantly slipped from behind their leaders, and with a shout rushed down the hill; part headed the cattle to prevent their escape, and the most rapid plunder I could have conceived quickly commenced. The camels were instantly brought to the ground, and every part of their load rifled: the poor women and girls lifted up their hands to me, stripped as they were to the skin, but I could do nothing for them beyond saving their lives. A sheikh and a maraboot assured me it was quite lawful (hallal) to plunder those who left their tents instead of supplying travellers. Boo-Khaloom now came up, and was petitioned. I saw he was ashamed of the paltry booty his followers had obtained, as well as moved by the tears of the sufferers. I seized the favourable moment, and advised that the Arabs should give every thing back, and have a few sheep and an ox for a bousafer (feast): he gave the order, and the Arabs from under their barracans threw down the wrappers they had torn off the bodies of the Tibboo women; and I was glad in my heart, when, taking ten sheep and a fat bullock, we left these poor creatures to their fate, as, had more Arabs arrived, they would most certainly have stripped them of every thing. We halted, after dark, at a place called Mull.

Feb. 2.—Our road, as yesterday, was an extensive valley, bounded to the right and left by low hills; about noon we descended slightly, and found ourselves in a productive plain of great extent, thickly planted with trees and underwood, not unlike a preserve in England. About an hour before sun-set, we came to what had the appearance of the bed of a lake, and here was the wished-for well of water. The horses had not drank since noon on the 31st, and although ready to[42] drop on the road from faintness, were, on reaching the well, quite unmanageable. The name of the well was Kofei.

On the 31st, Boo-Khaloom had thought it right to send on a Tibboo with the news of our approach to the sheikh El-Kanemy, who, we understood, resided at Kouka, and one was despatched with a camel and a man of Mina Tahr: the Gundowy accompanied him on the arrival at Kofei of the Arabs, who preceded us for the purpose of clearing the well. The Tibboo who had been despatched was found alone and naked; some Tibboo Arabs, of a tribe called Wandela, had met them near the well on the preceding evening and robbing him even to his cap, and taking from him the letters, saying, they cared not for the sheikh or Boo-Khaloom, tied him to a tree, and then left him. In this state was he found by our people; and Mr. Clapperton coming up soon after, gave him, from his biscuit-bag, wherewithal to break his fast, after being twenty-four hours without eating. Eighteen men had stripped him, he said, and taken off the camel and Mina Tahr’s man, who, they also said, should be ransomed, or have his throat cut. Mina Tahr represented these people as the worst on the road in every sense of the word: “They have no flocks,” said he, “and have not more than three hundred camels, although their numbers are one thousand or more; they live by plunder, and have no connexion with any other people. No considerable body of men can follow them; their tents are in the heart of the desert, and there are no wells for four days in the line of their retreat. Giddy-ben-Agah is their chief, and I alone would give fifty camels for his head: these are the people who often attack and murder travellers, and small kafilas, and the Gundowy, who respect strangers, have the credit of it.”

The men of Traita, with their chief, Eskou-ben-Coglu, came in the evening to welcome us: the well Kofei belongs to them; and greatly enraged they appeared to be at the conduct of the Wandelas.[43] This chief returned to Boo-Khaloom his letters, which, he said, “the chief of the Wandelas had sent him that morning, begging that he would meet the kafila at the well, and deliver them to Boo-Khaloom: had he known then what had taken place, the slave,” he said, “should have been stabbed at his father’s grave before he would have delivered them.” Boo-Khaloom was greatly enraged; and I was almost apprehensive that he would have revenged himself on the Traita chiefs. However, the Tibboo courier was again clothed and mounted, and once more started for Bornou. The Traita Tibboos are more important-looking fellows than the Gunda, but they want their quickness and activity: they are said not to be more than eight hundred strong in males.

Feb. 3.—Our course, during the early part of the day, was due south, and through a country more thickly planted by the all-tasteful hand of bounteous Nature. We disturbed a flock of what we at first thought were deer, but they were only a large species of antelope; they are of a deeper fawn colour, and have black and white stripes under the belly. The Guinea fowl were in great numbers, but extremely shy. The whole day our route lay through most pleasing forest scenery. It was near sunset when we arrived at Mittimee, which, in the Bornou language, means warm, tepid: the wells exceed fifty in number, and lie in a woody hollow, where there are clumps of the tulloh and other species of the mimosa tribe, encircled by kossom and various parasitical and twining shrubs, which, embracing their stems, wind to the extremities of their branches, and climb to the very tops, when, falling over, they form weeping bowers of a most beautiful kind: it was indeed a lovely and a fair retreat.

Boo-Khaloom, myself, and about six Arabs, had ridden on in front: it was said we had lost the track, and should miss the well: the day had been oppressively hot, my companions were sick and fatigued, and we dreaded the want of water. A fine dust, arising[44] from a light clayey and sandy soil, had also increased our sufferings: the exclamations of the Arab who first discovered the wells were indeed music to our ears; and after satisfying my own thirst, with that of my weary animals, I laid me down by one of the distant wells, far from my companions; and these moments of tranquillity, the freshness of the air, with the melody of the hundred songsters that were perched amongst the creeping plants, whose flowers threw an aromatic odour all around, were a relief scarcely to be described. Ere long, however, the noisy kafila, and the clouds of dust which accompanied it, disturbed me from the delightful reverie into which I had fallen.

Feb. 4.—Previously to arriving at Lari, we came upon two encampments of the Traita Tibboos, calling themselves the sheikh’s people: their huts were not numerous, but very regularly built in a square, with a space left in the north and south faces of the quadrangle, for the use of the cattle. The huts were entirely of mats, which, excluding the sun, yet admitted both the light and the air: these habitations, for fine weather, are preferable to the bete shars, or tents, of the Arabs of the north. The interior was singularly neat: clean wooden bowls, with each a cover of basket-work, for holding their milk, were hung against the wall. In the centre of the inclosure were about one hundred and fifty head of cattle feeding from cradles: these were chiefly milch cows, with calves and sheep. The Tibboos received us kindly at first, but presumed rather too much on sheikh Kanemy’s protection, which they claim or throw off, it is said, as it suits their purpose. The modest request of a man, with two hundred armed Arabs, for a little milk, was refused; and ready as the Arabs are to throw down the gauntlet, a slight expression of displeasure from their leader was followed by such a rapid attack on the Tibboos, that before I could mount, half the stock was driven off, and the sheikh well bastinadoed. Boo-Khaloom was, however, too kind to injure them; and after driving their cattle[45] for about a mile, he allowed them to return, with a caution to be more accommodating for the future. Accustomed as these people are to plunder one another, they expect no better usage from any one who visits them, provided they are strong enough, and vice versa; they are perfect Spartans in the art of thieving, both male and female.

An old woman, who was sitting at the door of one of the huts, sent a very pretty girl to me, as I was standing by my horse, whose massy amber necklace, greased head, and coral nose studs and ear-rings, announced a person of no common order, to see what she could pick up; and after gaining possession of my handkerchief and some needles, while I turned my head, in an instant thrust her hand into the pocket of my saddle-cloth, as she said, “to find some beads, for she knew I had plenty.”

Another and much larger nest of the Traitas lay to the east of our route, a little further on, with numerous flocks and herds. About two in the afternoon we arrived at Lari, ten miles distant from Mittimee. On ascending the rising ground on which the town stands, the distressing sight presented itself of all the female, and most of the male inhabitants, with their families, flying across the plain in all directions, alarmed at the strength of our kafila. Beyond, however, was an object full of interest to us, and the sight of which conveyed to my mind a sensation so gratifying and inspiring, that it would be difficult in language to convey an idea of its force or pleasure. The great lake Tchad, glowing with the golden rays of the sun in its strength, appeared to be within a mile of the spot on which we stood. My heart bounded within me at this prospect, for I believed this lake to be the key to the great object of our search, and I could not refrain from silently imploring Heaven’s continued protection, which had enabled us to proceed so far in health and strength, even to the accomplishment of our task.

It was long before Boo-Khaloom’s best endeavours could restore[46] confidence: the inhabitants had been plundered by the Tuaricks only the year before, and four hundred of their people butchered; and but a few days before, a party of the same nation had again pillaged them, though partially. When, at length, these people were satisfied that no harm was intended them, the women came in numbers with baskets of gussub, gafooly, fowls, and honey, which were purchased by small pieces of coral and amber of the coarsest kind, and coloured beads. One merchant bought a fine lamb for two bits of amber, worth, I should think, about twopence each in Europe; two needles purchased a fowl; and a handful of salt four or five good sized fish from the lake.

Lari is inhabited by the people of Kanem, who are known by the name of Kanemboo: the women are good-looking, laughing negresses, and all but naked; but this we were now used to, and it excited no emotions of surprise. Most of them had a square or triangular piece of silver or tin hanging at the back of the head, suspended from the hair, which was brought down, in narrow plaits, quite round the neck.

Feb. 5.—By sun-rise I was on the borders of the lake, armed for the destruction of the multitude of birds, who, all unconscious of my purpose, seemed as it were to welcome our arrival. Flocks of geese and wild ducks, of a most beautiful plumage, were quietly feeding at within half pistol shot of where I stood; and not being a very keen or inhuman sportsman, for the terms appear to me to be synonymous, my purpose of deadly warfare was almost shaken. As I moved towards them they only changed their places a little to the right or left, and appeared to have no idea of the hostility of my intentions. All this was really so new, that I hesitated to abuse the confidence with which they regarded me, and very quietly sat down to contemplate the scene before me. Pelicans, cranes, four and five feet in height, grey, variegated, and white, were scarcely so many yards from my side, and a bird, between a snipe and a woodcock,[47] resembling both, and larger than either; immense spoonbills of a snowy whiteness, widgeon, teal, yellow-legged plover, and a hundred species of (to me at least) unknown water fowl, were sporting before me; and it was long before I could disturb the tranquillity of the dwellers on these waters by firing a gun.

From a Sketch by Major Denham’s. Engraved by E. Finden.

Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

The soil near the edges of the lake was a firm dark mud; and, in proof of the great overflowings and recedings of the waters, even in this advanced dry season, the stalks of the gussub, of the preceding year, were standing in the lake, more than forty yards from the shore. The water is sweet and pleasant, and abounds with fish; which the natives have a curious way of catching. Some thirty or forty women go into the lake, with their wrappers brought up between their legs, and tied round their middles, as I should say, by single files, and forming a line at some distance in the water, fronting the land, for it is very shallow near the edges, and absolutely charge the fish before them so close, that they are caught by the hand, or leap upon the shore. We purchased some, and the best flavoured was a sort of bream.

A circumstance happened whilst I was on the margin of the lake, which was a further proof that the little kindnesses I had shown the Arabs were not lost upon them; and which supported my favourite position, that no people on earth are so savage, but that gentle kind treatment, with a frank and liberal manner, will gain their confidence and regard. A lamb, the most harmless thing that breathes, alarms a child who for the first time sees such an animal. I had suffered my horse to go loose, in order to approach close to the flights of birds around me, and he probably thinking the tents might afford him better fare than where I left him, first rubbed off his bridle, and then quietly returned to the encampment. About the same time one of the freed women found my bornouse, which had fallen from the saddle, and brought it to Boo Khaloom. All this created an alarm, and it was then found out, that two boats or canoes had been[48] seen coming from the south-east, in which direction are islands inhabited by the Biddoomah, a people who live by plundering on the main land, and carry off any thing they can pick up. This was quite enough to make Boo Khaloom think I was already gone, or in great danger; and not only several Arab chiefs armed themselves, and mounted, to seek me, but some of the merchants also. They found me, after a long search, on the lake among the gussub stalks, loaded with more birds than I could carry, and would scarcely believe that I had seen neither enemies nor boats. The dread which the natives appear to have of these koorie, or islanders, is almost equal to their fear of the Tuaricks; but the former are less rapacious and bloody in their visits. Their habitations are three or four days distant to the southward of east, towards the centre of the lake.

In the evening I visited the town of Lari: it stands on an eminence, and may probably contain two thousand inhabitants. The huts are built of the rush which grows by the sides of the lake, have conical tops, and look very like well thatched stacks of corn in England. They have neat inclosures round them, made with fences of the same reed, and passages leading to them like labyrinths. In the inclosure is a goat or two, poultry, and sometimes a cow. The women were almost all spinning cotton, which grows well, though not abundantly, near the town and lake. The interior of the huts is neat: they are completely circular, with no admission for air or light, except at the door, which has a mat, by way of safeguard. I entered one of the best appearance, although the owner gave me no smiles of encouragement, and followed close at my heels, with his spear and dagger in his hand. In one corner stood the bed, a sofa of rushes lashed together, and supported by six poles, fixed strongly in the ground. This was covered by the skins of the tiger-cat and wild bull; round the sides were hung the wooden bowls, used for water and milk: his tall shield rested against the wall. The hut had a division of mat-work, one half being allotted to the female part of[49] the family. My host, however, continued to look at me with so much suspicion, and seemed so little pleased with my visit, notwithstanding all my endeavours to assure him I was a friend, that I hurried from the inhospitable door, and resumed my walk through the town.

Feb. 6.—A gratifying scene took place this morning, in the departure of nearly thirty freed slaves, natives of Kanem, who here left us for their homes, three days’ journey to the eastward. I had been applied to, the night before, to intercede with Boo Khaloom for this indulgence; for as he had heard that the sheikh was at war with some of the chiefs of Kanem, he had determined on first taking them to Bornou, for fear of their being plundered on the road of the little they had saved in slavery. These poor creatures had, however, found one or two of their countrymen at the market of Lari, who assured them of their safety on the road between that place and their homes. The good man complied with evident reluctance on their own account, and they took leave, kissing his hand, with tears and blessings. They had most of them been in the service of the bashaw, some for a term of years, and were returning to die at home at last. One poor deaf and dumb woman, whom the rapacity of Mukni, the former sultan of Fezzan, who spared neither age, sex, nor infirmity, had induced him to march to Tripoli, had shed torrents of tears ever since she had been made acquainted, by signs, that she was to go to Bornou. She had left two children behind her; and the third, which was in her arms when she was taken by the Arabs, had been torn from her breast after the first ten days of her journey across the desert, in order that she might keep up with the camels. Her expressive motions in describing the manner in which the child was forced from her, and thrown on the sand, where it was left to perish, while whips were applied to her, lame and worn out as she was, to quicken her tottering steps, were highly eloquent and interesting. They had all been my friends for more than five[50] months, and to some I had rendered little services by carrying their bag of zumeeta, or salt. They were not ungrateful, and our parting had something in it affecting, which, considering negroes in the degraded light they do, seemed greatly to astonish the Arabs.

On quitting Lari, we immediately plunged into a thickly-planted forest of acacias, with high underwood; and at the distance of only a few hundred yards from the town, we came upon large heaps of the elephants’ dung, forming hillocks three and four feet in height, and marks of their footsteps: the tracks of these animals increased as we proceeded. Part of the day our road lay along the banks of the Tchad, and the elephants’ footmarks, of an immense size, and only a few hours old, were in abundance. Whole trees were broken down, where they had fed: and where they had reposed their ponderous bodies, young trees, shrubs, and underwood, had been crushed beneath their weight. We also killed this day an enormous snake, a species of coluber; it was a most disgusting, horrible animal, but not however venomous. It measured eighteen feet from the mouth to the tail; it was shot by five balls, and was still moving off, when two Arabs, with each a sword, nearly severed the head from the body. On opening the belly, several pounds of fat were found, and carefully taken off by the two native guides who accompanied us. This they pronounced a sovereign remedy for sick and diseased cattle, and much prized amongst them. Scarcely a mile further, a drove of wild red cattle, which I at first took for deer, were seen bounding to the west. I had no gun, but got extremely close to them, and found they were what the Arabs call “bugra-hammar-wahash” (red cow wild). They appeared to partake of the bullock and buffalo, with a tuft or lump on the shoulder.

We bivouacked near a small parcel of huts, called Nyagami, in a beautiful spot, so thick of wood, that we could scarcely find a clear place for our encampment. While the tents were fixing, an alarm was given of wild boars: one of our party followed the scent, and,[51] on his return, said he had seen a lion, and near him seven gazelles. I could not, however, find from the natives, that lions were ever seen here: numerous other animals appeared to abound, and that confirmed the opinion.

Feb. 7.—We moved for Woodie about eight, accompanied by two Arabs of Boo-Saif. I left the kafila, and proceeded a little to the westward, making a parallel movement with the camels. Birds of the most beautiful plumage were perched on every tree. Guinea fowls were in flocks of eighty or one hundred; and several monkeys chattered at us so impudently, that, separating one from the rest, we chased him for nearly half an hour: he did not run very fast, or straight forward, but was constantly doubling and turning, with his head over his shoulder, to see who was close to him. He was a handsome fellow, of a light brown colour, and black about the muzzle. About noon we came on a village of huts, called Barrah; and although only three in number, the natives flew in all directions. On our approaching the town, we beckoned to them, and got off our horses, for the purpose of giving them confidence, and sat down under the shade of a large tamarind tree. An old negro, who spoke a little Arabic, was the first who ventured to approach: seeing that he was not ill-treated, the others soon followed his example. I begged a little leban (sour milk), a most refreshing beverage after a hot ride, but none was to be found, until they were assured that I should pay for it; and at the sight of the dollar they all jumped and skipped like so many monkeys. Some biscuit, which I carried in my saddle-cloth pocket, and now began to eat, created much astonishment, and the first to whom I gave some, refused to eat it. One, rather bolder than the rest, put a small piece into his mouth, and pronounced it good, with such extravagant gestures, that my visitors all became so clamorous, that my stock was speedily demolished. I refused for a long time the man who had been suspicious[52] at first, to the great amusement of the rest, who seemed to like the joke amazingly.

I had promised the Arabs to share with them a sheep, provided they did not help themselves, and now made signs of my wish to purchase one. Two men went off to bring, as they said, a fat one. After a short time had elapsed, during which they had been delighted with the opening and shutting of my pocket-knife, a very miserable sheep was brought to me, which they seriously endeavoured to make me understand was a very fine one. The Arabs declared it to be good for nothing; and, therefore, though unwilling to be displeased, I quickly returned my dollar to my pocket, and made a motion towards my horse. The whole tribe, to my great astonishment, shouted out, and began to push about the vender of the sheep, and dance round me. Another very fine fat sheep was now brought forward from behind the crowd: offering the other first seemed a trick, in order to try whether I should find out the lean from the fat one; and although much sagacity was not required for this, it appeared to have raised me very much in their estimation.

The little nest of thatched huts in which they lived was most beautifully situated on a rising spot, in the midst of a rich and luxuriant, though not thick forest, about three miles to the north-east of Woodie; and the wells, which stand in a dell, thickly planted with palms (the first we had seen on this side of the desert), had troughs for more than a hundred and fifty cattle to drink at. One of the old men accompanied us, while his son carried the carcass of the sheep to Woodie, for which service he was rewarded by two coral beads, and a little snuff.

Close to the town we found the tents. Our party had made about fourteen miles, without leaving the banks of the lake at any great distance. Two elephants were seen swimming in the lake this day; and one, belonging to a drove at a distance, absolutely remained just[53] before the kafila. Hillman had gone on in front on his mule, suffering sadly from weakness and fatigue, and had laid himself down in what appeared a delightful shade, to await the arrival of the camels, not expecting to see an elephant. He was absolutely reposing within a dozen yards of a very large one, without being aware of it; and on an Arab’s striking the animal with a spear, he roared out and moved off. Poor Hillman’s alarm was extreme.

Feb. 8.—On walking to the shores of the lake this morning, soon after sunrise, I was surprised to see how the water had encroached since the day before. More than two miles of the wood was entirely overflowed—the cotton plantations were covered with water. Were the lands cleared of wood, which would not be a laborious task, as the trees are mostly tulloh, and not large, almost any thing might be produced.

Feb. 9.—The courier had been sent off a second time, after being re-clothed and re-mounted, to receive the sheikh’s orders, and we were not to proceed beyond Woodie until his pleasure was known. So jealous and so suspicious are these negro princes of the encroachment of the Arabs, that divers were the speculations as to whether the sheikh would, or would not, allow them to proceed with us nearer his capital.

A weekly fsug, or market, was held about a mile from the town; and the women flocking from the neighbouring negro villages, mounted on bullocks, who have a thong of hide passed through the cartilage of the nose when young, and are managed with great ease, had a curious appearance: a skin is spread on the animal’s back, upon which, after hanging the different articles they take for sale, they mount themselves; milk, sour and sweet, a little honey, fowls, gussub, gafooly, are amongst their wares, fat and meloheea (ochra), a green herb, which, with bazeen, all negroes eat voraciously, and indeed Christians too, as I afterwards found out. The men brought[54] oxen, sheep, goats, and slaves: the latter were few in number, and in miserable condition.

Woodie is a capital, or as they say, Blad Kebir, and is governed by a sheikh, who is a eunuch, and a man of considerable importance: they appear to have all the necessaries of life in abundance, and are the most indolent people I ever met with. The women spin a little cotton, and weave it into a coarse cloth of about six inches’ width; the men either lie idling in their huts all day, or in the shade of a building, formed by four supporters and a thatched roof, which stands in an open space amongst the huts: this is also the court of justice and place of prayers. The men are considerably above the common stature, and of an athletic make; but have an expression of features particularly dull and heavy. The town stands about one mile west of the Tchad, four short days’ march from Bornou. Game of all descriptions comes to within a stone’s-throw of their doors, and the lake abounds with fish and water-fowl; yet have they so little exertion, that a few fish was almost the only produce of their labour which was offered for sale.

The women, like the Tibboo, have a square piece of blue or white cloth, tied over one shoulder, which forms their whole covering: their hair is however curiously and laboriously trained, and I observed that no one of tender years had any thing like a perfect head of hair. From childhood the head is shaved, leaving only the top covered; the hair from hence falls down quite round from the forehead to the pole of the neck, and is then formed into one solid plait, which in front lying quite flat just over the eyes, and behind being turned up with a little curl, has just the appearance of an old-fashioned coachman’s wig in England: some of them are, however, very pretty.

Feb. 10.—I this morning went to the eastward, in order to see the extent of the forest, and also, if possible, to get a sight[55] of the herd, of upwards of one hundred and fifty elephants, which some of the Arabs had seen the day before while their camels were feeding. I was not disappointed. I found them about six miles from the town, in the grounds annually overflowed by the waters of the lake, where the coarse grass is twice the height of a man: they seemed to cover the face of the country, and, I should think, exceeded the number I had expected to see. When the waters flow over these their pasturages, they are forced by hunger to approach the towns, and spread devastation throughout their march; whole plantations, the hopes of the inhabitants for the next year, are sometimes destroyed in a single night. Nothing, however, more ferocious than large antelopes, with a fox and wild hog or two, was to be seen, besides elephants, although I beat every thicket. We had followed about half a dozen of these antelopes for more than three hours, who merely changed their place without ever getting out of sight, but never allowed us to get near enough to hazard a shot. When quite fatigued, I determined on making for some distant huts, and begging a little milk, sweet or sour. No knowing landlady of a country inn ever scanned the character of her customer more than did this untaught, though cunning negro, whom we found there. He first denied that he had any, notwithstanding the bowls were full scarcely ten paces behind him; and then asked, what I had got to pay for it? I had really nothing; and after offering my pocket-handkerchief, which was returned to me as not worth any thing, I was about to depart, though ten long miles from the tents, thirsty as I was, when the Arab pointed to a needle, which was sticking in my jacket: for this and a white bead which the Arab produced, we had a bowl of fine milk and a basket of nuts, which refreshed us much; and we returned home by the lake, where I shot two birds—one a very fine crane, and the other of the woodpecker species, and saw a flock of at least five hundred pelicans, but could not get near enough to fire at them.

[56]The whole surface of the country for the last eighteen days had been covered with a grass which produced a calyx so full of prickles as to annoy us almost to misery: these prickles were of the finest and most penetrating sharpness that can be imagined; they attached to every part of our dress; and so small were the points, that it was impossible to extract them without their breaking and leaving a part behind: if we walked, at every step we were obliged to clear them from our feet—mats, blankets, trowsers, were filled with these irritating annoyances, so that there was no getting rid of them, by day or night; in short, no part of the body was free from them. The seed from this grass is called kashcia, and is eaten[21].

Feb. 11.—Two of the sheikh’s officers arrived last night, with letters, and a present of goroo nuts of Soudan: they have a pleasant bitter taste, and are much esteemed by all the Tripoli people. After eating these nuts, water has a grateful flavour, be it ever so bad: the Arabs call them the coffee of the black country. These letters pressed Boo Khaloom to continue his march towards Kouka, with all his people—a very great proof of his confidence in the peaceable disposition of our chief. The men were clothed with a bornouse each, a turban, and a red cap; and after giving us fifteen bullocks, six sheep, and seventeen kail of gussub, returned home, promising that fresh supplies should be prepared for his people at Yeou, two days’ march nearer Bornou. It was nearly dark when we reached a town called Burwha. We had travelled at a considerable distance from the lake after the first four miles of our journey, which here sweeps off greatly to the east.

[57]Burwha is a walled town, and the first negro one we had seen: it may be called in this country a place of some strength; in proof of which the inhabitants have always defied the Tuarick marauders, who never entered the town: the walls may be about thirteen or fourteen feet high, and have a dry ditch, which runs quite round them. The town probably covers an extent equal to three square miles, and contains five or six thousand inhabitants. There is a covered-way, from which the defenders lance their spears at the besiegers, and instantly conceal themselves: there are but two gates, which are nearly east and west; and these being the most vulnerable parts for an enemy to attack, are defended by mounds of earth thrown up on each side, and carried out at least twenty yards in front of the gate, and have nearly perpendicular faces. These advanced posts are always thickly manned, and they conceive them to be a great defence to their walls: they cannot, however, calculate upon their being abandoned, as an enemy once in possession of them would so completely command the town, that from thence every part of it may be seen. Nevertheless, Burwha is a strong place, considering the means of attack which the Arabs have; and we were much struck with its appearance.

Feb. 12.—I rode through the town early this morning, previous to our move. All the principal huts had their little inclosure, with a cow or two, some goats and fowls; and I saw a very fine fish, apparently roasted, or broiled, carried into one of them, on which I could have breakfasted with great pleasure. Gussub, in large baskets, and in the straw, was every where to be seen, and the women were spinning at the doors of most of the huts.

I rode nearly the whole of this day with Min Ali Tahar, the Gundowy Tibboo sheikh, who was accompanying us to Bornou: he had some little difference with the sheikh, of whom he was perfectly independent, and Boo Khaloom, ever politic, undertook to make up the misunderstanding; thereby not only showing his influence, but[58] securing, in a manner, the future friendship of Tahar, whose district was always considered as the most dangerous part of the Tibboo country on the road to Mourzuk. Tahar was a sharp, intelligent fellow, spoke a little Arabic, and had often asked me many questions about my country, and my sultan; but to-day he was more inquisitive than usual.—“Rais Khaleel,” said he, “what would your sultan do to Min Ali, if he was to go to England? Would he kill me, or keep me there a prisoner? I should like to be there for about a month.” I answered, “Certainly neither one nor the other: he would be much more inclined to make you a handsome present, and send you back again.” Min Ali. “Oh! I should take him something; but what could I give him? nothing but the skins of a dozen ostriches, some elephants’ teeth, and a lion’s skin.” Ans. “The value of the present could be of no importance to my sultan; he would look at the intention: befriend his people—remember the Inglezi that you have seen; and should any more ever find their way to your tents, give them milk and sheep, and put them in the road they are going: promise me to do this, and I can almost promise you, that my sultan shall send you a sword, such a one as Hateeta had on my return, without your going to England, or giving him any thing.” Min Ali. “Is he such a man? Barak Allah! What’s his name?” “George.” “George! Health to George; much of it! Salam Ali: George Yassur. Tell him, Min Ali Tahar wishes him all health and happiness; that he is a Tibboo who can command a thousand spears, and fears no man. Is he liberal? Is his heart large? Gulba Kebir. Does he give presents to his people?” “Very much so, indeed; some of his people think him too generous.” Min Ali. “By the head of my father! Raas el Booe! they are wrong; the sultan of a great people should have a large heart, or he is unworthy of them. Who will succeed him when he dies?” “His brother.” “What is his name?” “Frederick.” “Barak Allah! I hope he will be like George, matlook, liberal. Salem Ali![59] Frederick. Health to Frederick! How many wives have they?” “No Englishman has more than one,” said I. “A gieb! a gieb! Wonderful! wonderful! why they should have a hundred.” “No! no! we think that a sin,” replied I. “Wallah! really (literally, by G—!) why I have four now; and I have had more than sixty. Her I like best, however, always says, one would be more lawful: she may be right. You say she is. You are a great people. I see you are a great people, and know every thing. I, a Tibboo, am little better than a gazelle.”

The road to-day was thickly scattered with trees—saw flocks of red cattle, and killed a wild hog. The hyænas came so close to the tents last night, that a camel, which lay about a hundred yards from the enclosure, was found nearly half-eaten. A lion first made a meal on the poor animal; when the hyænas came down upon what he had left. We had fires the whole night; and notwithstanding the continued howlings which these animals kept up until daylight, our rest was but little disturbed.—Halted near a water, called Chugelarem. We had now about eleven miles to make, previous to arriving at Yeou.

13th.—Chugelarem, though said to be a branch of the Tchad, was merely a still water, increased considerably by the overflowings of that lake in the wet season: the bottom was muddy, and nowhere deeper than two feet. The camels, horses, and followers of the kafila, waded through it without being much above their knees: it takes a zigzag direction, going first to the east, then to the north, and then to the east again.

We proceeded south, passing several very neat negro villages; and after about eleven miles, came to a very considerable stream, called the Yeou, in some parts more than fifty yards wide, with a fine hard sandy bottom, and banks nearly perpendicular, and with a strong current running three miles and a half in an hour to the eastward. As I expected, every one of the Arabs said this was the[60] Nile, and that it ran into the great water the Tchad. A town of the same name stands on the south side of the river, which the inhabitants were unanimous in saying came from Soudan. It is at times double the width, and considerably deeper, and two canoes now lay upon the sand, in which the goods and passengers of kafilas passing in the wet season are conveyed across. The camels and horses swim with their heads made fast to the canoes. These canoes were of the rudest manufacture, and were formed of planks, rudely shaped by a small hatchet, and strongly fastened together by cords passed through holes bored in them, and a wisp of straw between, which they say effectually keeps out the water: they have high poops like the Grecian boats, and would hold twenty or thirty persons. The air from a running stream of clear water, and the freshness it imparted to all around, was such a relief after a march through sandy deserts, that both man and beast were in a manner renovated by its effects. The men, and even the women, bathed and washed, and the negroes swam all the horses. We here received ten bullocks by the sheikh’s order, to make up the fifteen which he had directed to be given to Boo Khaloom, and the remainder of the seventeen kail (loads) of gussub which was to accompany them.

Feb. 14.—Visited Yeou, which is a neat town of huts, walled, but not above half the size of Burwha, and proceeded fourteen miles, when we came to a well. Here we should have remained with our tired camels and horses; but the numerous negro parties, with from two to twelve laden oxen, all said another well was grieb (near). Boo Khaloom, therefore, determined on proceeding to the next maten, or halting-place: some of the group were picturesque in the extreme; the women all laden with some purchase at the market, and the naked black children mounted on the tops of the loaded bullocks; and after twelve additional miles, an hour and a half after sunset, we came to a halt, but without arriving at the well. The branches of the trees hung so much over the road, and[61] impeded the movements of the camels so greatly, that it was past ten o’clock at night before some of them came up.

Feb. 15.—We found the well, kalielwa, just off the road, nearly four miles nearer Bornou, and we were to push the camels on as far as possible, in order that the day after we might enter Kouka, the residence of the sheikh, in Arab form, and at an early hour. The road branched off in two directions: the one to the west led towards Kouka. Soon after this we came to a well and small town, and after sunset another; near the latter of which a Fezzaneer in the service of the sheikh met us, with a request that we would pitch our tents near a dead water called Dowergoo, a few miles further on, and remain the next day, as the huts that had been preparing were not ready. About eight we came to this piece of still water, abounding with wild fowl, having a village near it, called Gurdawa.

Feb. 16.—Halted. Our visitors here were not very numerous, although we were not above one hour’s journey from the sheikh’s residence, Kouka. Various were the reports as to the opinion the sheikh formed of the force which accompanied Boo-Khaloom: all agreed, however, that we were to be received at some distance from the town, by a considerable body of troops; both as a compliment to the bashaw, and to show his representative how well prepared he was against any attempt of those who chose to be his enemies.

One of the Arabs brought to me this day a Balearic crane; it measured thirteen feet from wing to wing.

Feb. 17.—This was to us a momentous day, and it seemed to be equally so to our conductors. Notwithstanding all the difficulties that had presented themselves at the various stages of our journey, we were at last within a few short miles of our destination; were about to become acquainted with a people who had never seen, or scarcely heard of, a European; and to tread on ground, the knowledge and true situation of which had hitherto been wholly unknown.[62] These ideas of course excited no common sensations; and could scarcely be unaccompanied by strong hopes of our labours being beneficial to the race amongst whom we were shortly to mix; of our laying the first stone of a work which might lead to their civilization, if not their emancipation from all their prejudices and ignorance, and probably, at the same time, open a field of commerce to our own country, which might increase its wealth and prosperity. Our accounts had been so contradictory of the state of this country, that no opinion could be formed as to the real condition or the numbers of its inhabitants. We had been told that the sheikh’s soldiers were a few ragged negroes armed with spears, who lived upon the plunder of the Black Kaffir countries, by which he was surrounded, and which he was enabled to subdue by the assistance of a few Arabs who were in his service; and, again, we had been assured that his forces were not only numerous, but to a certain degree well trained. The degree of credit which might be attached to these reports was nearly balanced in the scales of probability; and we advanced towards the town of Kouka in a most interesting state of uncertainty, whether we should find its chief at the head of thousands, or be received by him under a tree, surrounded by a few naked slaves.

These doubts, however, were quickly removed. I had ridden on a short distance in front of Boo-Khaloom, with his train of Arabs, all mounted, and dressed out in their best apparel; and, from the thickness of the trees, soon lost sight of them, fancying that the road could not be mistaken. I rode still onwards, and on approaching a spot less thickly planted, was not a little surprised to see in front of me a body of several thousand cavalry drawn up in line, and extending right and left quite as far as I could see; and, checking my horse, I awaited the arrival of my party, under the shade of a wide-spreading acacia. The Bornou troops remained quite steady,[63] without noise or confusion; and a few horsemen, who were moving about in front giving directions, were the only persons out of the ranks. On the Arabs appearing in sight, a shout, or yell, was given by the sheikh’s people, which rent the air: a blast was blown from their rude instruments of music equally loud, and they moved on to meet Boo-Khaloom and his Arabs. There was an appearance of tact and management in their movements which astonished me: three separate small bodies, from the centre and each flank, kept charging rapidly towards us, to within a few feet of our horses’ heads, without checking the speed of their own until the moment of their halt, while the whole body moved onwards. These parties were mounted on small but very perfect horses, who stopped, and wheeled from their utmost speed with great precision and expertness, shaking their spears over their heads, exclaiming, “Barca! barca! Alla hiakkum cha, alla cheraga!—Blessing! blessing! Sons of your country! Sons of your country!” and returning quickly to the front of the body, in order to repeat the charge. While all this was going on, they closed in their right and left flanks, and surrounded the little body of Arab warriors so completely, as to give the compliment of welcoming them very much the appearance of a declaration of their contempt for their weakness. I am quite sure this was premeditated; we were all so closely pressed as to be nearly smothered, and in some danger from the crowding of the horses and clashing of the spears. Moving on was impossible; and we therefore came to a full stop: our chief was much enraged, but it was all to no purpose, he was only answered by shrieks of “Welcome!” and spears most unpleasantly rattled over our heads expressive of the same feeling. This annoyance was not however of long duration; Barca Gana, the sheikh’s first general, a negro of a noble aspect, clothed in a figured silk tobe, and mounted on a beautiful Mandara horse, made his appearance; and, after a little delay, the rear was[64] cleared of those who had pressed in upon us, and we moved on, although but very slowly, from the frequent impediment thrown in our way by these wild equestrians.

The sheikh’s negroes, as they were called, meaning the black chiefs and favourites, all raised to that rank by some deed of bravery, were habited in coats of mail composed of iron chain, which covered them from the throat to the knees, dividing behind, and coming on each side of the horse: some of them had helmets, or rather skullcaps, of the same metal, with chin-pieces, all sufficiently strong to ward off the shock of a spear. Their horses’ heads were also defended by plates of iron, brass, and silver, just leaving sufficient room for the eyes of the animal.

At length, on arriving at the gate of the town, ourselves, Boo-Khaloom, and about a dozen of his followers, were alone allowed to enter the gates; and we proceeded along a wide street completely lined with spearmen on foot, with cavalry in front of them, to the door of the sheikh’s residence. Here the horsemen were formed up three deep, and we came to a stand: some of the chief attendants came out, and after a great many “Barca’s! Barca’s!” retired, when others performed the same ceremony. We were now again left sitting on our horses in the sun: Boo-Khaloom began to lose all patience, and swore by the bashaw’s head, that he would return to the tents if he was not immediately admitted: he got, however, no satisfaction but a motion of the hand from one of the chiefs, meaning “wait patiently;” and I whispered to him the necessity of obeying as we were hemmed in on all sides, and to retire without permission would have been as difficult as to advance. Barca Gana now appeared, and made a sign that Boo-Khaloom should dismount: we were about to follow his example, when an intimation that Boo-Khaloom was alone to be admitted again fixed us to our saddles. Another half hour at least passed without any news from the interior[65] of the building; when the gates opened, and the four Englishmen only were called for, and we advanced to the skiffa (entrance). Here we were stopped most unceremoniously by the black guards in waiting, and were allowed, one by one only, to ascend a staircase; at the top of which we were again brought to a stand by crossed spears, and the open flat hand of a negro laid upon our breast. Boo-Khaloom came from the inner chamber, and asked “If we were prepared to salute the sheikh as we did the bashaw?” We replied “Certainly:” which was merely an inclination of the head, and laying the right hand on the heart. He advised our laying our hands also on our heads, but we replied, “the thing was impossible! we had but one manner of salutation for any body, except our own sovereign.”

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Another parley now took place, but in a minute or two he returned, and we were ushered into the presence of this Sheikh of Spears. We found him in a small dark room, sitting on a carpet, plainly dressed in a blue tobe of Soudan and a shawl turban. Two negroes were on each side of him, armed with pistols, and on his carpet lay a brace of these instruments. Fire-arms were hanging in different parts of the room, presents from the bashaw and Mustapha L’Achmar, the sultan of Fezzan, which are here considered as invaluable. His personal appearance was prepossessing, apparently not more than forty-five or forty-six, with an expressive countenance, and a benevolent smile. We delivered our letter from the bashaw; and after he had read it, he inquired “what was our object in coming?” We answered, “to see the country merely, and to give an account of its inhabitants, produce, and appearance; as our sultan was desirous of knowing every part of the globe.” His reply was, “that we were welcome! and whatever he could show us would give him pleasure: that he had ordered huts to be built for us in the town; and that we might then go, accompanied by one of his people, to see them; and that when we were recovered from the fatigue of our long[66] journey, he would be happy to see us.” With this we took our leave.

Our huts were little round mud buildings, placed within a wall, at no great distance from the residence of the sheikh: the inclosure was quadrangular, and had several divisions formed by partitions of straw mats, where nests of huts were built, and occupied by the stranger merchants who accompanied the kafila: one of these divisions was assigned to us, and we crept into the shade of our earthy dwellings, not a little fatigued with our entré and presentation.


[9]The surface is of a dark colour, with here and there patches and streaks of a snowy white. It is uneven from the heaping, as it were, of large flat clods on each other: these are all hollow underneath, and have a very uneven surface, from the number of projections. What I have remarked was observed in all the salt fields we have seen. The heaping of the salty clods, and the circulation of air underneath, are phenonema attending this formation which it is difficult to explain—Are they the production of art, or of nature alone? In the numerous gardens at Traghan, and other places left fallow, we observe, on the small scale, an appearance like this, and the earthy clods soon became strongly impregnated with salt: the degree is not comparable to what is seen in the large salt plain. The salt is of two kinds; one a white snowy-looking efflorescence, that is often several inches thick, the other with an earthy-coloured shining surface.—W. O.

[10]The sand of a fine cream colour: yesterday it had many particles of a black substance mixed with it.

Exposed rocks, sandstone of different kinds, mostly red, and a black kind like basalt from iron; fine specimens of petrified wood; the centre, sap, vessels and knots filled with a calcareous matter, the woody fibre changed into a siliceous substance; beautiful conical layers, and lines running like rays, from the centre to the circumference. Many columnar mounds of clay in the first basin, about ten feet high—the clay as if semi-baked: many are round, and the one we went to about thirty feet in circumference; these were probably the original height of the surface: the present form arises from the other part being washed away.

The depth of the well at Meshroo is from sixteen to twenty feet: the water good, and free from saline impregnations: the ground around is strewed with human skeletons, the slaves who have arrived exhausted with thirst and fatigue. The horrid consequences of the slave trade were strongly brought to our mind; and, although its horrors are not equal to those of the European trade, still they are sufficient to call up every sympathy, and rouse up every spark of humanity. They are dragged over deserts, water often fails, and provisions scarcely provided for the long and dreary journey. The Moors ascribe the numbers to the cruelty of the Tibboo traders: there is, perhaps, too much truth in the accusation. Every few miles a skeleton was seen through the whole day; some were partially covered with sand, others with only a small mound, formed by the wind: one hand often lay under the head, and frequently both, as if in the act of compressing the head. The skin and membranous substance all shrivel up, and dry from the state of the air: the thick muscular and internal parts only decay.

Course through basins, having low, rugged, conical hills to the eastward. The hills have a great similarity of geological structure to those of western Fezzan and Ghraat.

a b Sandstone of fine texture, of a black colour, giving it the appearance of basalt.
c Aluminous shistus.
d Clay iron stone, with here and there strata of bluish clay.
e Fine white sandstone, mixed with a large quantity of lime.

There is a fine blue, very hard stone, with slender white lime streaks, forming the surface of many of the lower grounds, evidently of recent formation. A similar formation is seen in the large sterile plain between the hills of Fezzan to the westward, and the Tuarick range: the fine white sandstone is found deep in the same hills; the aluminous slate in abundance. The kind of sandstone, the other rocks and similarity of appearance, show a sameness of geological structure as far as we have gone.

From a fine pass between two of the hills, the view from above had something of the grand. A rocky and sandy space, about two hundred yards broad, bounded on each side by a high rugged black hill, below a fine level plain, with low hills in the distance. The descent of the camels fine, and accomplished without an accident.

a sandstone.
b red and yellow iron ore, in very thick beds.
c sandstone.
d white shistus.
e white sandstone.

The surface of the plain has strata of a slatiform blue stone; frequently, however, massive, and so hard as not to be scratched by iron; imbedded in it is a large quantity of periform iron ore. After traversing this plain, we ascended a low hilly range, and passed across its stony surface. From here we saw El-Wahr, or Difficult: it is between two high hills. We passed many skeletons, both of human beings and camels, which always kept us in mind of the dangers we were exposed to.—W. O.

[11]El-Wahr. The surface sandy till we approached the hills, then it changed to stony. The black hills with cones, peaks, and a columnar-looking cap, reminded us of what we had seen before. The gloom of these places in the dusk has something grand and awful. We winded up, with the light of a moon not a quarter old, and that lessened by a cloudy sky. Some sandy and pebbly beds, as of a stream, and in one place high clayey banks, with iron ore underneath. Skeletons lay about, mangled in a shocking manner; here a leg, there an arm, fixed with their ligaments, at considerable distances from the trunk. What could have done this? Man forced by hunger, or the camels? The latter are very fond of chewing dried bones, but whether they ever do so to those with dried flesh on them, I cannot say.—W. O.

[12]Several of our camels are drunk to-day: their eyes are heavy, and want animation; gait staggering, and every now and then, falling as a man in a state of intoxication. It arose from eating dates after drinking water; these probably pass into the spirituous fermentation in the stomach.—W. O.

[13]Our road by the side of detached hills, and several small chains, having rocky and sandy windings among them. The detached hills were mostly conical, with fine columnar tops, as if capped with basalt,—all, however, was of sandstone. The sombre appearance and solitariness of the situations, the form of the hills, and the dreariness of nature around, gave a gloomy cast to every object, which the beauty and life of a large kafila could not eradicate.—W. O.

[14]The Tibboos were positive as to this distance, which we could scarcely credit; they must mean, however, Tuarick days, or a maherhy, equal to forty miles at least.

[15]We passed two salt water lakes at a short distance on the west, which add much to the beauty of the scenery. There is something to-day quite cheering: large groves of palm trees, many beautiful acacias both in flower and fruit, and two fine, small salt lakes. The lakes are about two miles in circumference, have salt islands, and marshy borders: no salt, I believe, is taken from them. They are the abodes of a beautiful bird of the plover species.—W. O.

[16]The lakes have marshy borders, and high salt islands, as if formed by man, which however are natural, and, the people say, have existed since their remembrance. The saline materials are a carbonate and muriate of soda: we saw no incrustations on the bottom or surface: at this season, the same is the case in the Bahr-Trona, in Fezzan. Each lake is not more than half or three-fourths of a mile in circumference.—W. O.

[17]The hills run nearly north and south, edging a little to the westward; they have numerous small bays or recesses, which produce a fine echo; many places with saline incrustations, and some of the large black patches like the frozen surface of a recently ploughed field. Almost all the salt formations are in low, protected situations; the water is near; and, often in the very centre, you have fine fresh springs.—From whence is this salt derived? I have already suggested that the air has a powerful effect, and is a principal agent. There is no reason to believe there are large subterranean salt beds; if these existed to any great extent, we should not have the fresh springs so prevalent.—W. O.

[18]We had a fine wadey the greater part of the way, and many patches of saline incrustations; some exposed beds of red sandstone, containing numerous nodules of iron ore. Hills of much blacker colour; and a few have the appearance as of ruins of towns and castles, on their summits. Passed three springs, like the oozings at Traghen. A large tract of black surface, as if the situation of an extensive salt bed, from which the salt had only been removed a few years; it extends more than four or five miles to the eastward, and was more than a mile across, on our road. It is black and crispy, but has none of the irregular heapings taken notice of in other salt plains.

There is another small town about two miles to the westward, of the same name. Round it are a number of mud elevations, which appear as if produced by mud volcanoes; but these are artificial, and made for the preparation of salt. I had long wished to see the extensive salt plain that afforded such copious supplies: originally, no doubt, the large spaces I have several times noticed afforded abundance, but the re-production could not keep up with the quantity taken away. Art was employed to obtain Nature; shallow pits were dug, which soon filled with water, and its evaporation left thick layers of salt: high embankments were raised round these, evidently to prevent currents of air. These places have much the look of our tanyards, with small pits partitioned from each other. The water is now strongly impregnated; in summer a thick crust is formed, which is the salt in use. One of these works apparently yields a large quantity of salt every year. When removed, the sordes are heaped up on the embankments. In the recesses there are many stalactites, of a beautiful white colour, which consist of muriate and carbonate of soda.

The great mystery is, the origin of the salt in all situations in which the water is near the surface, and the inclemency of the water prevented by shelter. It is highly probable all this vast country was once a salt ocean; its height is nothing, considering its distance inland. What effect has the want, or almost want of rain,—for, as far as I can learn, no salt formations exist within the boundaries of the rains? There are many fine fresh springs issuing from the soil, and none of the wells are brackish; when the water, however, remains some time stagnant, it gets impregnated with saline matter.—W. O.

[19]Some curious tubular, hollow, coralliform productions were picked up in the sand: they appear of very recent formation, and evidently produced by rain and wind acting on the sand. The particles are most minute; when broken, the substance has a shining glassy appearance: some lie horizontally, but the general position is perpendicular. The external surface is rough: the size varies, both in length and circumference, from a few lines to an inch and a half in the latter, and from an inch to a foot in the former direction.

The wells are holes, about eighteen inches deep: the water has a slight taste of carbonate of soda, that was strong at first, but diminished greatly after some water had been drawn. The holes fill very fast. The saline impregnation arises, very probably, from the earth around falling, and being blown into the holes. Dibla is bounded on the north by black sandstone and quartz hills, which extend some way to the eastward; on the south by sand hills, and by a winding wadey on the east. In the middle there are several small conical hillocks with table-tops: the lower part is formed of a fine schistus, of different colours, that next the base light and white; over that, green, exactly resembling large well-dried leaves of plants, which separate into the finest layers; the top is a black bituminous matter, which crumbles into small pieces by the slightest touch: these hillocks are from thirty to forty feet high, the probable height of the valley in former days; and it is not unlikely that the bituminous matter is a vegetable deposit. There are a few acacias, but so few, that we could procure no firewood, and the camels very little food.

A number of round semi-vitrified small stones were found on the sands, which the people collected to use as bullets. The mode of formation appears the same as the coralliform substances I have mentioned. These substances, in great quantities, are said to be formed after the rains that every now and then occur in this quarter.

[20]There is grass in abundance, and small mounds covered with a tetrandrous plant, called suag: its fruit a small drupa, which is in great request in Bornou and Soudan, for removing sterility in females. Boo Khaloom related one instance of a female, who had been in that state eighteen years, but was cured by the fruit. It is sweetish and hot to the taste, approaching to the Sisymbrium nasturtium. In passing the plant, a heavy narcotic smell is always perceived.—W. O.

[21]There is a very common grass which is grievously annoying from the prickles on its husk: it adheres to the dress and penetrates the skin. There is not one prickle, but the calyx is studded round, and they fasten themselves like grappling irons. These prickles may be considered one of the pests of the country: there is scarcely a place free from them. Our dog Niger is unable to walk, for they have got between his toes, and are adhering to every part of his long silken hair.


Our huts were immediately so crowded with visitors, that we had not a moment’s peace, and the heat was insufferable. Boo-Khaloom had delivered his presents from the bashaw, and brought us a message of compliment, together with an intimation that our own would be received on the following day. About noon we received a summons to attend the sheikh; and we proceeded to the palace, preceded by our negroes, bearing the articles destined for the sheikh by our government; consisting of a double-barrelled gun, by Wilkinson, with a box, and all the apparatus complete, a pair of excellent pistols in a case, two pieces of superfine broad cloth, red and blue, to which we added a set of china, and two bundles of spices.

The ceremony of getting into the presence was ridiculous enough, although nothing could be more plain and devoid of pretension than the appearance of the sheikh himself. We passed through passages lined with attendants, the front men sitting on their hams; and when we advanced too quickly, we were suddenly arrested by these fellows, who caught forcibly hold of us by the legs, and had not the crowd prevented our falling, we should most infallibly have become prostrate before arriving in the presence. Previous to entering into the open court, in which we were received, our papouches, or slippers, were whipped off by these active though sedentary gentlemen of the chamber; and we were seated on some clean sand on each side of a raised bench of earth, covered with a carpet, on which the[68] sheikh was reclining. We laid the gun and the pistols together before him, and explained to him the locks, turnscrews, and steel shot-cases holding two charges each, with all of which he seemed exceedingly well pleased: the powder-flask, and the manner in which the charge is divided from the body of powder, did not escape his observation; the other articles were taken off by the slaves, almost as soon as they were laid before him. Again we were questioned as to the object of our visit. The sheikh, however, showed evident satisfaction at our assurance that the king of England had heard of Bornou and himself; and, immediately turning to his kaganawha (counsellor), said, “This is in consequence of our defeating the Begharmis.” Upon which, the chief who had most distinguished himself in these memorable battles, Bagah Furby (the gatherer of horses) seating himself in front of us, demanded, “Did he ever hear of me?” The immediate reply of “Certainly” did wonders for our cause. Exclamations were general; and, “Ah! then, your king must be a great man!” was re-echoed from every side. We had nothing offered us by way of refreshment, and took our leave.

I may here observe, that besides occasional presents of bullocks, camel-loads of wheat and rice, leathern skins of butter, jars of honey, and honey in the comb, five or six wooden bowls were sent us, morning and evening, containing rice, with meat, paste made of barley flour, savoury but very greasy; and on our first arrival, as many had been sent of sweets, mostly composed of curd and honey.

In England a brace of trout might be considered as a handsome present to a traveller sojourning in the neighbourhood of a stream, but at Bornou things are done differently. A camel-load of bream, and a sort of mullet, was thrown before our huts on the second morning after our arrival; and for fear that should not be sufficient, in the evening another was sent.

We had a fsug, or market, in front of one of the principal gates of the town. Slaves, sheep, and bullocks, the latter in great numbers,[69] were the principal live stock for sale. There were at least fifteen thousand persons gathered together, some of them coming from places two and three days distant. Wheat, rice, and gussub, were abundant: tamarinds in the pod, ground nuts, ban beans, ochroes, and indigo; the latter is very good, and in great use amongst the natives, to dye their tobes (shirts) and linen, stripes of deep indigo colour, or stripes of it alternately with white, being highly esteemed by most of the Bornou women: the leaves are moistened, and pounded up altogether when they are formed into lumps, and so brought to market. Of vegetables there was a great scarcity—onions, bastard tomatoes, alone were offered for sale; and of fruits not any: a few limes, which the sheikh had sent us from his garden, being the only fruit we had seen in Bornou. Leather was in great quantities; and the skins of the large snake, and pieces of the skin of the crocodile, used as an ornament for the scabbards of their daggers, were also brought to me for sale; and butter, leban (sour milk), honey, and wooden bowls, from Soudan. The costumes of the women, who for the most part were the vendors, were various: those of Kanem and Bornou were most numerous, and the former was as becoming as the latter had a contrary appearance. The variety in costume amongst the ladies consists entirely in the head ornaments; the only difference, in the scanty covering which is bestowed on the other parts of the person, lies in the choice of the wearer, who either ties the piece of linen, blue or white, under the arms, and across the breasts, or fastens it rather fantastically on one shoulder, leaving one breast naked. The Kanemboo women have small plaits of hair hanging down all around the head, quite to the poll of the neck, with a roll of leather or string of little brass beads in front, hanging down from the centre on each side of the face, which has by no means an unbecoming appearance: they have sometimes strings of silver rings instead of the brass, and a large round silver ornament in front of their foreheads. The female slaves from[70] Musgow, a large kingdom to the south-east of Mandara, are particularly disagreeable in their appearance, although considered as very trustworthy, and capable of great labour: their hair is rolled up in three large plaits, which extend from the forehead to the back of the neck, like the Bornowy; one larger in the centre, and two smaller on each side: they have silver studs in their nose, and one large one just under the lower lip of the size of a shilling, which goes quite through into the mouth; to make room for this ornament, a tooth or two is sometimes displaced.

The principal slaves are generally intrusted with the sale of such produce as the owner of them may have to dispose of; and if they come from any distance, the whole is brought on bullocks, which are harnessed after the fashion of the country, by a string or iron run through the cartilage of the nose, and a saddle of mat. The masters not unfrequently attend the fsug with their spears, and loiter about without interfering; purchases are mostly made by exchange of one commodity for another, or paid for by small beads, pieces of coral and amber, or the coarse linen manufactured by all the people, and sold at forty gubka[22] for a dollar. Amongst other articles offered to me for sale by the people (who, if I stood still for an instant, crowded round me) was a young lion and a monkey; the latter appeared really the more dangerous of the two, and from being a degree or two lighter in complexion than his master, he seemed to have taken a decided aversion to me.

The lion walked about with great unconcern, confined merely by a small rope round his neck held by the negro, who had caught him when he was not two months old, and having had him for a period of three months, now wished to part with him: he was about the size of a donkey colt, with very large limbs, and the people seemed to go very close to him without much alarm, notwithstanding[71] he struck with his foot the leg of one man who stood in his way, and made the blood flow copiously: they opened the ring which was formed round this noble animal as I approached; and, coming within two or three yards of him, he fixed his eye upon me in a way that excited sensations I cannot describe, from which I was awakened by the fellow calling to me to come nearer, at the same time laying his hand on the animal’s back; a moment’s recollection convinced me that there could be no more danger nearer than where I was, and I stepped boldly up beside the negro, and I believe should have laid my hand on the lion the next moment; but after looking carelessly at me, he brushed past my legs, broke the ring, and pulled his conductor away with him, overturning several who stood before him, and bounded off to another part where there were fewer people.

Feb. 22.—Boo-Khaloom came to us this morning, after seeing the sheikh, and said, “that he had explained to him our anxiety to see every thing, and take home the skins of birds, and gather the plants that appeared most interesting to us, and to take notes of what we saw.” The sheikh’s reply was, that “we, or any of our countrymen, whom the bashaw thought proper to send, should be welcome to see any part of his dominions, but that out of them he could not suffer us at present to go.” Boo-Khaloom, who was fully aware of the ulterior objects we had in view, and whose advice I always found dictated by an anxious desire to serve us, was of the greatest use, from his intimate acquaintance with the dispositions of the people; and he was of opinion that we should, in the first instance, be satisfied with this offer of the sheikh, and not alarm him, by declaring too abruptly all our intentions. Accustomed as they are to plunder, and to be plundered, at the sight of strangers, apparently possessing superior powers, and superior weapons to themselves, their alarm is not to be wondered at; and when these strangers were represented to them as having come from a distance[72] almost beyond their belief, for purposes they could not in the least comprehend the importance of, it required extreme delicacy and great management to tranquillize their minds, and obtain their confidence.

A report had gone abroad, that one of our purposes was to build ships, in which we should embark on the lake, return to our own country, and then that the white people would come and destroy them all. For these reports we had, I have no doubt, to thank some of the Mourzuk merchants who had preceded us; and whose frequent visits were as injurious to our stores as their advice would have been to our interests, had not circumstances prevented the latter from being acted upon.

Boo-Khaloom assured us “these reports had gained considerable ground, but that he had explained to the sheikh how unfounded they were; and what we proposed doing here was what had been done during the last year by the bashaw’s permission, in many parts of the regency of Tripoli.”

All the Arabs, who had formed our escort, were in great glee by the report of the approach of the sultan of Begharmi, with a large force, to within four short days of Kouka. The sheikh-el-Kanemy had, in former expeditions, laid waste his whole country, each time driving the sultan from Kermuk, or the capital. On the last occasion he had destroyed, by fire, the towns which the natives had deserted, and had remained nearly three months in the country. The sultan, with all his family and slaves, had, as before, retired to the other side of a large river, to the south of his dominions, inhabited by Kaffirs or savages; but who, nevertheless, always afforded him shelter and protection. This people were described as resembling the sands of the desert in number; and they had now accompanied him to revenge himself on the sheikh of Bornou. The prospect of plunder, and making slaves, which these reports held out to the Arabs, raised their spirits to such a degree, that they passed[73] half the night in debating how their booty was to be conveyed across the desert: without remembering that their enemies were first to be conquered. A gun being merely presented, they all declared sufficient to drive away a thousand negroes. Could these poor creatures but once be made to understand the real state of an Arab’s pouch, with seldom more than one or two loads of bad powder, and the little dependence to be placed in his firelock, a miserable French piece, of the original value of about twelve shillings, that misses fire at least every other time, how much more justly would they estimate the Arabs’ strength!

Feb. 24.—We heard this day that the Begharmis had halted at a place called Gulphi, on hearing that Boo-Khaloom was here with a party of Arab warriors; but it was strongly reported that the sheikh would immediately send a force into their country, in order to punish the sultan for even thinking of revenge.

Feb. 26.—Boo-Khaloom was to have seen the sheikh, in order to convince him that all, and more than the presents destined for him by our government, had been delivered to him; and we were afterwards to see him ourselves, and request permission to visit some of the neighbouring towns. After this interview, Boo-Khaloom came to our huts, and explained to us that the sheikh had mentioned merely to his chief attendant, that he had heard of a watch being intended for him as well as the powder, and that as he had not seen it, he was disappointed—he, however, desired us to visit him the next day. The sheikh had given all Boo-Khaloom’s people a blue tobe, and himself two very handsome female slaves from Soudan, of a deep copper colour, under twenty years of age, with two others, negresses, to attend on them. We had news this day that the people of Begharmi had left Gulphi on their return home, and were about to rebuild their capital.

Feb. 27.—We attended the sheikh, about three hours before noon. He received us with considerable affability, and appeared[74] satisfied that his presents were all delivered to him: when the explanation was given, he said nothing was necessary to secure his good will; but they told him the articles he mentioned were brought, and therefore he asked for them. Indeed, if the things had been properly delivered at first, no question, I am sure, would have arisen on the subject. He again inquired what were our wishes; no mention was however made of the orders of our government, that any one should remain for any time near him. He made numberless inquiries, wished that the nature of a map should be described to him, and begged that Ali (as Hillman the carpenter was called) should make some boxes for him.

We asked to see the Tchad and the Shary, both of which waters, with the old town of Bornou, he promised us we should visit in a few days. He asked many questions about our manner of attacking a walled town; and on our explaining to him that we had guns which carried ball of twenty-four and thirty-two pounds weight, with which we breached the wall, and then carried the place by assault, his large dark eyes sparkled again, as he exclaimed, “Wonderful! wonderful!” He inquired if we had any thing with us like wild-fire, which could be thrown into a place and burn it; and was greatly disappointed on our answering in the negative. I could not help however consoling him by an assurance that what we had brought him was that which we considered as likely to be most acceptable; that before our coming he was a stranger; that now we should see what he was most in need of; and that two camel-loads of gunpowder were easier for us to send him than the like quantity of dates from Fezzan. We promised at night to show him two rockets; and we had scarcely eaten our dinner when Karawash, one of his chiefs, came to say the sheikh was impatient, and very fortunately there were in the town several of the hostile Shouaas—a dangerous race of Arab origin, who occupy the frontier of his kingdom, and he was anxious they should see the effect of these terrible fire-engines.[75] Mr. Clapperton fixed them on a rest of three spears in front of the sheikh’s residence, before a crowd of persons; and the shrieks of the people, both there assembled and in their huts, were heard for some seconds after the rockets had ascended.

Feb. 28.—There was a disturbance in the camp this morning that nearly approached to direct mutiny, amongst Boo-Khaloom’s Arabs. He had brought with him a very large assortment of valuable merchandize, for which there was but little sale at either Kouka or Angornou, and he was anxious to proceed to Soudan. The tghrees, or infantry, refused to accompany him: they said the bashaw had ordered them to come thus far with the English, and that Soudan was bhaid (distant), and go they would not. Some one had hinted to them that the sheikh wished to send a ghrazzie (marauding expedition) to Begharmi, and that Boo-Khaloom opposed such wish, as not consistent with his orders; and their profit being greater by an expedition of plunder and cruelty, than by one of peace and commerce, they preferred the east to the west. Boo-Khaloom certainly had refused to proceed on one of these marauding expeditions, much to the credit of his humanity, and highly complimentary to the English nation; whose servant, he often assured me, he felt himself to be on this mission. The Arabs, however, knew the sheikh’s wishes, and things remained in a very unsettled state.

I paid a visit this evening to Sooloo, one of the sheikh’s principal Shouaas, to whom I had given a silk handkerchief in the morning: his habitation consisted of two inclosures, besides one for his two horses, cow, and goats, and may be taken as a sample of the best residences in Kouka. In the first of these divisions was a circular hut, with a cupola top, well thatched with gussub straw, something resembling that of the Indian corn: the walls were of the same materials; a mud wall, of about two feet high, separated one part from the rest, and here his corn was kept; and a bench of like simple composition, at the opposite side, was his resting-place: this[76] was covered with mats; and his spears, and wooden bowls for water and milk, hung on pegs, completed the furniture: here was his own apartment. In the second division there were two huts, rather smaller, about ten paces from each other, in which dwelt his two wives: they were called to the door, and desired to salute me; but on looking up, uttered a scream, and hiding their faces with their hands, crept back again so quickly, as to make me almost ashamed of my complexion.

March 1.—A few yams were sent us by the sheikh, the only ones we had seen, and a great treat they proved to us, for it was the only vegetable we had tasted for many months. A meeting took place this morning at day-break, under a large tree in front of the sheikh’s residence, and in his presence, between the Arab sheikhs and Boo-Khaloom. The Arabs had appealed to him as their umpire; and although he appeared not to take any part in their disputes, yet I thought a disposition was very apparent in him to increase the feud: he offered to mount one hundred of the Arabs, and send one of his chiefs, under Boo-Khaloom’s orders, to Begharmi, with fifteen hundred or two thousand horsemen; and great part of the produce of this expedition was to be sent as a present to the bashaw. Nothing could be more distressing than Boo-Khaloom’s situation; he knew the disposition of his master too well not to feel what his fate would be, if he refused such an opportunity of taking him at least two thousand slaves,—his own inclinations led him to proceed to Soudan; but he was still anxious to avoid becoming the scourge of one people, to gratify the revenge of another. The Arabs were also divided. The people of Begharmi had, on the last expedition, nearly foiled their invaders by abandoning their towns, driving off their flocks and cattle, and obliging the sheikh’s people to subsist entirely, for twenty-five days, on a little prepared paste made of flour and curd, which they always take with them to the field. This the mounted Arabs dreaded a repetition of, while the more adventurous infantry,[77] who had nothing to trade with but their gun, and consequently nothing to lose but their lives, exclaimed loudly for the ghrazzie.

March 2.—Boo-Khaloom went this day to Birnie, for the purpose of paying his respects to the sultan, who resides there, and we accompanied him. Angornou, a very large and populous town, where the sheikh resided previous to his building Kouka, is about sixteen miles from that place, and two miles from Birnie. Boo-Khaloom took with him presents to the amount of about one hundred and twenty dollars, but by some strange mistake we went empty-handed.

On our arrival at Birnie, which is a walled town, with huts of the same description as those in Kouka, and probably contains ten thousand inhabitants, we were first conducted to the gate of the sultan’s mud edifice, where a few of the court were assembled to receive us; and one, a sort of chamberlain, habited in eight or ten tobes, or shirts, of different colours, the outside one of fine white tufted silk of the manufacture of Soudan. In his hand he carried an immense staff, like a drum-major’s baton, and on his head he bore a turban exceeding in size any thing of the kind we had before seen; this was however but a trifling one to those we were destined to behold at the audience on the following morning. After salutations, Barca l’affia el hamdalilla! (Blessing!—Are you well? Thank God!) which lasted for some minutes, we were conducted to some huts destined for our resting-place for the night: they were not, however, of a tempting description; and Boo-Khaloom proposed that a large tent should be pitched any where, which would be preferable. These wishes were quickly complied with; a large marquee was in a very short time ready for our reception, with a screen of linen running all round it, which, although it kept out the crowds of people who were assembled round the place, admitted the air, and formed a most inviting retreat from the burning sun that shone above us. The sultan shortly after sent word, that by sunrise the[78] next morning he would receive us. In the evening a most plentiful, if not delicate, repast was brought to us, consisting of seventy dishes, each of which would have dined half-a-dozen persons with moderate appetites. The sultan himself sent ten, his wives thirty, and his mother thirty; and for fear the English should not eat like the Bornowy, a slave or two was loaded with live fowls for our dinner. The meats consisted of mutton and poultry, and were baked, boiled, and stewed.

March 3.—Soon after daylight we were summoned to attend the Sultan of Bornou. He received us in an open space in front of the royal residence: we were kept at a considerable distance while his people approached to within about 100 yards, passing first on horseback; and after dismounting and prostrating themselves before him, they took their places on the ground in front, but with their backs to the royal person, which is the custom of the country. He was seated in a sort of cage of cane or wood, near the door of his garden, on a seat which at the distance appeared to be covered with silk or satin, and through the railing looked upon the assembly before him, who formed a sort of semicircle extending from his seat to nearly where we were waiting. Nothing could be more absurd and grotesque than some, nay all, of the figures who formed this court. Here was all the outward show of pomp and grandeur, without one particle of the staple commodity, power, to plead its excuse; he reigns and governs by the sufferance of the sheikh: and the better to answer his views, by making him more popular with all parties, the sultan is amused by indulging in all the folly and bigotry of the ancient negro sovereigns. Large bellies and large heads are indispensable for those who serve the court of Bornou; and those who unfortunately possess not the former by nature, or on whom lustiness will not be forced by cramming, make up the deficiency of protuberance by a wadding, which, as they sit on the horse, gives the belly the curious appearance of hanging over the pummel of the[79] saddle. The eight, ten, and twelve shirts, of different colours, that they wear one over the other, help a little to increase this greatness of person: the head is enveloped in folds of muslin or linen of various colours, though mostly white, so as to deform it as much as possible; and those whose turban seemed to be the most studied had the effect of making the head appear completely on one side. Besides this they are hung all over with charms, inclosed in little red leather parcels, strung together; the horse, also, has them round his neck, in front of his head, and about the saddle.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

When these courtiers, to the number of about two hundred and sixty or three hundred, had taken their seats in front of the sultan, we were allowed to approach to within about pistol-shot of the spot where he was sitting, and desired to sit down ourselves, when the ugliest black that can be imagined, his chief eunuch, the only person who approached the sultan’s seat, asked for the presents. Boo-Khaloom’s were produced, inclosed in a large shawl, and were carried unopened to the presence. Our glimpse was but a faint one of the sultan, through the lattice-work of his pavilion, sufficient however to see that his turban was larger than any of his subjects’, and that his face, from the nose downwards, was completely covered. A little to our left, and nearly in front of the sultan, was an extempore declaimer shouting forth praises of his master, with his pedigree; and near him one who bore the long wooden frumfrum, on which he ever and anon blew a blast, loud and unmusical. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the appearance of these people squatting down in their places, tottering under the weight and magnitude of their turbans and their bellies, while the thin legs that appeared underneath but ill accorded with the bulk of the other parts.

Immediately after this ceremony we took our departure for Angornou. Angornou is the largest and most populous town of Bornou, and is situated a few miles from the Tchad. This town contains at least thirty thousand inhabitants: it is large and straggling,[80] but not walled. The huts are also larger and more commodious than those of Kouka; some of them having four mud walls, and two chambers. All our friends the merchants, who had accompanied the kafila from Tripoli and Mourzuk, had removed here, after paying their respects to the sheikh at Kouka, this being the fsug, or market town: they visited us immediately on our arrival. The only traders to Soudan are Moors. I found here a native of Loggun, who had just returned from Sennaar; he had been, however, two years on the journey. This man I was extremely anxious to see, but he was purposely moved away; and when, on the following day, I followed him to Kouka, he sent me word, that until he had seen the sheikh he dared not come to the hut.

The public market day is on a Wednesday, and attended sometimes by eighty or a hundred thousand persons, as the natives say, in peaceable times; but there was a very good market this day in an open space in the centre of the town, which is held every evening. Fish, flesh, and fowls, were in abundance, dressed and undressed, and tomatas, and onions, but no other vegetables.—Again my excessive whiteness became a cause of both pity and astonishment, if not disgust: a crowd followed me through the market, others fled at my approach; some of the women oversetting their merchandize, by their over anxiety to get out of my way; and although two of them were so struck with astonishment as to remain fixed to the spot, unconscious of the escape of their companions, they no sooner perceived me quite close to them, than they too ran off irresistibly affrighted. The day had been insufferably hot, and the night was little less so: indeed I think Kouka the better air of the two. I preferred this night sleeping in the open air.

March 4.—Linen is so cheap that most of the males in Angornow indulge in the luxury of a shirt and a pair of trowsers: several beggars stood near the fsug, and holding the remains of an old pair of the latter in their hand, while they held up their shirt, in proof[81] of their assertion, kept exclaiming, “But breeches, there are none! But breeches, there are none!” This novel mode of drawing the attention of the passers-by so amused me, that I could not help laughing outright.

The principal demand at Angornou was for amber and coral; a large round piece of the former brought four dollars in money, and a string, eighty or one hundred. Pieces of brass and copper were also much sought after: all other kinds of merchandize were paid for in slaves or tobes; but these brought money, and were readily sold. The inhabitants are mostly Bornowy. The strangers, however, are numerous; and many Tibboos and Kanemboos reside here for certain months in the year. The men are well grown, but not so well-looking as the people of Kanem: the large mouth, and thick lips, are strikingly ugly features; the men’s heads are, in general, closely shaved, and those of the lower orders uncovered. The only persons armed near the sultan’s person were some hundreds of negroes, in blue tobes, who were outside the court circle. These bore immense clubs, with a large round head: bows and arrows were slung at their backs, and a short dagger placed along the inside of the right arm. A footman, in attendance on a chief mounted, ran behind him, carrying four spears.

March 5.—I had proposed making an excursion, for a few days, to a large river to the southward of Kouka, called the Shary, as the only way to gain authentic information about it; and Dr. Oudney wished to accompany me. We were, however, obliged to put off our journey, first, in consequence of his illness, and, secondly, from the unsettled state of Boo-Khaloom’s affairs with the Arabs. Boo-Khaloom paid us a visit after seeing the sheikh; and from what I could gather, although nothing was freely communicated, the probability of the ghrazzie’s going was increased. Hillman had made two wooden boxes for the sheikh, the workmanship of which surprised him exceedingly, and, during our absence, he had sent for him, and[82] requested he would commence making a sort of litter, to go between two camels, or mules, such as he had heard were used by the sultans of Fezzan: our carpenter very frankly said, that any thing he could do should be done with pleasure, but he could not work in the sun, and that a shed must be built for him, and wood must be found for him, as he had seen none in the country that would make the keel of a jolly-boat. As much as was necessary of this reply was interpreted to the sheikh, who promised him that negroes should make mats directly for his shed, and that others should go into the wood and bring the largest trees they could find; and in the evening a present came for the carpenter of wheat, rice, honey, and butter.

March 6.—The sheikh sent this morning to say, that he wished for some of our rockets, in order that the Shouaas, his enemies, might see what the English had brought him. On Monday, the day of the fsug or market, when they would be in the town, we promised him six; but reminded him, at the same time, that we had but few, and that here we could make no more. He also sent a very fine young lion, about three months old, not above half the size of that I had seen before: this was a very tame good-natured fellow, and I could not help regretting the necessity we were under of refusing him a corner of our huts, as he was ordered to be immediately killed in consequence of our declining to accept him.

March 7.—Doctor Oudney’s illness increased, and he had daily fits of the ague, which, in his weak state, became alarming. I had made it my business, as I thought it my duty, to cultivate the friendship and good-will of Boo-Khaloom, and by his means I hoped to be made acquainted with the sheikh’s real intentions towards us. The man of Loggun, who had returned from Senaar, I used every means to get a sight of, but I found it impossible, and he sent me word privately that he dared not come.

March 8 and 9.—Both these days the numbers of persons who crowded my hut, from morning to night, were greater, and consequently[83] their visits more pestering than common. Every little thing, from the compass to the pen and ink, from the watch to the tin cup out of which I drank, excited their curiosity; and as they now became bolder, they seized hold of every thing which they formerly only eyed at a distance. It was not, however, their curiosity alone that was excited—the possession was coveted, either for themselves or the sheikh, of every article: a looking-glass, and a small lantern, I rescued out of the hands of at least a dozen, a dozen times. A copy of Captain Lyon’s book, the fame of which had preceded us, in consequence of Doctor Oudney’s having shown it to some merchants at Mourzuk, was demanded twenty times a day, and it required all my patience to go over and explain the pictures as often as they required. It produced very different effects, but in all astonishment and in most suspicion. The sheikh had heard of it, and one of his slaves borrowed it for him of my servant, by stealth, as he did not wish it to be known that he had a desire to see it. For three days after this I was again and again applied to by all his chief people to see what I had drawn, or written, as they express it, of Bornou. I repeatedly assured them, that those in the book were not mine, that the person who wrote them was far away. It would not do; they shook their heads, and said I was cunning, and would not show them. They then changed their tone, and very seriously begged that I would not write them, that is, draw their portraits; that they did not like it, that the sheikh did not like it, that it was a sin; and I am quite sure, from the impression, that we had much better never have produced the book at all.

The sheikh expressed a wish that two rockets might be started, on a signal being made from the top of his house. I gave Karowash a blue light, with instructions how to make the signal: his heart, however, failed him when he got to the spot, and the signal was made by a wisp of straw. The first rocket went off nearly[84] perpendicular, and with beautiful effect. I lessened very much the elevation of the second, and it flew over the town not more than a hundred yards higher than the tops of the huts; and bursting in its course, occasioned a universal scream, that lasted for some seconds. Its consequences I believe were not so serious as the first display of fire-works was at Mourzuk: there several ladies lost all present hopes of blessing their husbands with little pledges of love; and in one house the favourite slave of a particular friend of ours was put instantly to bed of a seven months’ child.

March 10.—We had now been in Kouka nearly a month—had seen the sheikh but three times; and we discovered, that people coming from the east and from the south, of which there were but few, were carefully prohibited from visiting us. I found out also that a conversation had taken place between Boo-Khaloom and the sheikh, in which the latter had mentioned, that he had heard the Doctor wished, or rather intended, to proceed to Soudan, but that he could not allow of such a proceeding, for that the bashaw’s despatch had not mentioned such being the wish of the English king.

This day I had a little respite, my visiting list being much reduced in consequence of its being market-day; there was, as usual, an abundance of all necessaries, though but few luxuries; and as the people got more accustomed to my appearance, they became more familiar: and one young lady, whose numerous bracelets of elephants’ teeth, heavy silver rings on each side of her face, coral in her nose, and amber necklace, proclaimed her a person of wealth, nimbly jumped off her bullock, and tore the corner from my pocket-handkerchief, as she said, for a souvenir. I could do no less than request her to accept the remainder of so useful an appendage, and I was happy to see that this piece of gallantry was not lost even upon savages. They all clapped their hands, and cried, “Barca! barca!”[85] and the lady herself, whose hands and face were really running down with grease, so regardless was she of expense, generously poured into the sleeve of my shirt nearly a quart of ground nuts.

March 11.—Doctor Oudney was still confined to his bed, and I received a summons from the sheikh, to whom a report had been made of a musical box of mine, which played or stopped merely by my holding up my finger. The messenger declared he was dying to see it, and I must make haste. The wild exclamations of wonder and screams of pleasure that this piece of mechanism drew from the generality of my visitors were curiously contrasted in the person of the intelligent sheikh: he at first was greatly astonished, and asked several questions, exclaiming “A gieb! gieb!” “Wonderful! wonderful!” but the sweetness of the Swiss Ranz-des-Vaches which it played, at last overcame every other feeling: he covered his face with his hand and listened in silence; and on one man near him breaking the charm by a loud exclamation, he struck him a blow which made all his followers tremble. He instantly asked, “if one twice as large would not be better?” I said “Yes; but it would be twice as dear.” “By G—!” said he, “if one thousand dollars would purchase it, it would be cheap.” Who will deny that nature has given us all a taste for luxuries?

During this short conversation we became better friends than we had ever been before, during our three former visits. To his surprise, he now found that I spoke intelligible Arabic, and he begged to see me whenever I chose: these were just the terms upon which I wished to be with him; and thinking this a favourable moment for adding strength to his present impressions, I could not help begging he would keep the box. He was the more delighted as I had refused it before to Karouash, when he had requested it in the sheikh’s name.

March 12.—I had another interview this day with the sheikh, in his garden, about four in the afternoon: we were only three persons,[86] Barca Gana, his first general, Karouash, and myself. We had the musical box playing until he understood its stops as well as myself; and after really a pleasant interview of an hour’s duration, we separated, improved considerably in each other’s good opinion. I asked to visit the Tchad next day, and he gave immediate orders to Barca Gana, that some one should attend me who knew the roads, and that a hut and food might be in readiness for me at night. I lost no time in availing myself of this permission; and soon after daylight on the next day my guides were at the door,—Fajah, a Kanemboo, high in the sheikh’s favour, and Maramy, a sort of half-cast Felatah, who was sent merely because he could speak a little Arabic. We proceeded about ten miles, to a town called Bree; where the kaid (governor), after hearing the orders, came to my horse’s side, and said he should be ready in an instant to accompany me: he also proposed that we should return that night to the town, where a supper and hut, with dancing-girls, should be ready for me. I, however, refused this, and said I was prepared with my blanket, and that we would sleep near the lake. We now went eastward for about five miles, when we came to the banks of the Tchad. I had seen no part of the lake so unencumbered by trees as this, and there were evident proofs of its overflowings and recedings near the shores; but beyond was an uninterrupted expanse of waters, as far as the eye could reach east and south-east. A fine grass grew abundantly along the marshy shores, and thousands of cattle belonging to the sheikh, the produce of his last expedition to Begharmi, were grazing, and in beautiful condition. The sun was now at its greatest power, and, spreading my mat under the shade of a clump of tulloh trees, I was just preparing a repast of some bread and honey, when two or three black boys who had accompanied us from Bree, and whom I had seen rushing about in the water, brought me five or six fine fish resembling a mullet, and which they had driven into the shallow water almost in as many minutes: a fire[87] was quickly made, and they roasted them so well and expeditiously, that their manner of cooking deserves to be noticed:—A stick is run through the mouth of the fish, and quite along the belly to the tail; this stick is then stuck in the ground, with the head of the fish downwards, and inclined towards the fire: our negroes had quickly a circle of these fish round a clear flame, and by turning them constantly by the tail, they were most excellently dressed. These fish are called by the Kanemboo, kerwha; in Arabic, turfaw;—the name of fish in general in the Bornou language is boonie.

I told my satellites that here would be my quarters for the night: they assured me that the musquitoes were both so numerous and so large, that I should find it impossible to remain, and that the horses would be miserable. They advised our retiring with the cattle to a short distance from the water, and sleeping near them; by which means the attention of these insects would be taken off by the quadrupeds. Englishman-like, I was obstinate; and very soon falling asleep, although daylight, I was so bitten by musquitoes, in size equalling a large fly, that I was glad, on awaking, to take the advice of my more experienced guides. Towards the evening we mounted our horses and chased some very beautiful antelopes, and saw a herd of elephants at a distance, exceeding forty in number; two buffaloes also stood boldly grazing, nearly up to their bodies in water; on our approaching them they quickly took to the lake: one of them was a monstrous animal, at least fourteen feet in length from the tail to the head. The antelopes are particularly beautiful, of a light brown colour, with some stripes of black and white about their bellies; they are not very swift, and are only to be found in the neighbourhood of the Tchad, and other large waters.

The tamarind and locust-trees were here abundant, and loaded with fruit; the former of a rich and fine flavour. The horses now became so irritated by the shoals of insects that attacked them, the[88] white one of Fajah being literally covered with blood, that we determined on seeking the cattle herd, and taking up our quarters for the night with them. A vacant square was left in the centre, and ourselves and horses were admitted: mats were spread, and about thirty basket jars of sweet milk were set before me, with another of honey; this, in addition to some rice which I had brought with me, made a sumptuous repast; and although, previous to leaving the lake, my face, hands, and back of the neck, resembled those of a child with the small-pox, from the insects, yet here I slept most comfortably, without being annoyed by a single musquito.

March 14.—A very heavy dew had fallen this night, a thing we had not felt since leaving Gatrone, and then but very slightly: in the morning my bornouse, which lay over me, was completely wet through; and on the mat, after daylight, crystalline drops were lying like icicles. On arriving at the lake, Maramy left us, as he said, to look for the elephants, as the sheikh had desired him to take me close to them; and I commenced shooting and examining the beautiful variety of waterfowl that were in thousands sporting on the water, and on its shores. I succeeded in shooting a most beautiful white bird of the crane kind, with black neck and long black bill; and some snipes, which were as numerous as swarms of bees: and in three shots killed four couple of ducks, and one couple of wild geese—these were very handsomely marked, and fine specimens. While I was thus employed, Maramy came galloping up, saying that he had found three very large elephants grazing, to the south-east, close to the water: when we came within a few hundred yards of them, all the persons on foot, and my servant on a mule, were ordered to halt, while four of us, who were mounted, rode up to these stupendous animals.

The sheikh’s people began screeching violently: and although at first they appeared to treat our approach with great contempt,[89] yet after a little they moved off, erecting their ears, which had until then hung flat on their shoulders, and giving a roar that shook the ground under us. One was an immense fellow, I should suppose sixteen feet high; the other two were females, and moved away rather quickly, while the male kept in the rear, as if to guard their retreat. We wheeled swiftly round him; and Maramy casting a spear at him, which struck him just under the tail, and seemed to give him about as much pain as when we prick our finger with a pin, the huge beast threw up his proboscis in the air with a loud roar, and from it cast such a volume of sand, that, unprepared as I was for such an event, nearly blinded me. The elephant rarely, if ever, attacks; and it is only when irritated that he is dangerous: but he will sometimes rush upon a man and horse, after choking them with dust, and destroy them in an instant.

As we had cut him off from following his companions, he took the direction leading to where we had left the mule and the footmen: they quickly fled in all directions; and my man Columbus (the mule not being inclined to increase its pace) was so alarmed, that he did not get the better of it for the whole day. We pressed the elephant now very close, riding before, behind, and on each side of him; and his look sometimes, as he turned his head, had the effect of checking instantly the speed of my horse—his pace never exceeded a clumsy rolling walk, but was sufficient to keep our horses at a short gallop. I gave him a ball from each barrel of my gun, at about fifty yards’ distance; and the second, which struck his ear, seemed to give him a moment’s uneasiness only; but the first, which struck him on the body, failed in making the least impression. After giving him another spear, which flew off his tough hide without exciting the least sensation, we left him to his fate.

News was soon brought us that eight elephants were at no great distance, and coming towards us: it was thought prudent to chase them away, and we all mounted for that purpose. They appeared[90] unwilling to go, and did not even turn their backs until we were quite close, and had thrown several spears at them; the flashes from the pan of the gun, however, appeared to alarm them more than any thing: they retreated very majestically, first throwing out, as before, a quantity of sand. A number of the birds here called tuda were perched on the backs of the elephants; these resemble a thrush in shape and note, and were represented to me as being extremely useful to the elephant, in picking off the vermin from those parts which it is not in his power to reach.

When the heat of the sun was a little diminished, we followed the course of the water; and had it not been for the torment which the mosquitoes and flies occasioned, there were spots in which I could have pitched my tent for a week. I saw several Balearic cranes, but I was too far off to get a shot at them. Having proceeded nearly eight miles along the shores of the Tchad, in which there is no sort of variety either in appearance or vegetable production, a coarse grass, and a small bell-flower, being the only plants that I could discover, about an hour before sunset we left these banks, and arrived at Koua, a small village to the north; where, the kaid of the town being absent, we were glad to take up our quarters within the fence of rushes that went round his hut, and after making some coffee, I laid myself down for the night: about midnight he returned, and we then got corn for our horses, and fowls and milk for ourselves. Both this town and Bree were quite new, and peopled by the Kanemboos, who had emigrated with the sheikh from their own country; and I never saw handsomer or better formed people.

When I appeared in the town, the curiosity and alarm which my hands and face excited almost inclined me to doubt whether they had not been changed in the night. One little girl was in such agonies of tears and fright at the sight of me, that nothing could console her, not even a string of beads which I offered her—nor[91] would she put out her hand to take them. I must, however, do the sex the justice to say, that those more advanced in years were not afflicted with such exceeding diffidence—at the sight of the beads they quickly made up to me; and seeing me take from the pocket of a very loose pair of Turkish trowsers a few strings, which were soon distributed, some one exclaimed, “Oh! those trowsers are full of beads, only he won’t give them to us.” This piece of news was followed by a shout, and they all approached, so fully determined to ascertain the fact, that although I did not until afterwards understand what had been said, Fajah, my guide, thought it right to keep the ladies at a distance, by what I thought rather ungentle means. Had I been aware of all the circumstances, I do not think that I should have consented to their being so harshly treated, as I have no doubt they would, like their sisterhood, those beautiful specimens of red and white womankind in our own country, have been reasoned into conviction, without absolutely demanding ocular demonstration.

March 15.—A little after noon, we arrived again at Kouka. Although much fatigued by the excessive heats, yet I was greatly gratified by the excursion: no information was, however, on this occasion to be obtained, as to the inhabitants of those islands which are said to be far away to the eastward, up the lake. These Kerdies, as they are called, come, at certain times, to the spot where I had been, and even close to Angornou; plunder sometimes a village, and carry off the cattle in their canoes. These plunderers continue their depredations, without any means being taken to oppose them.

I was not at all prepared for the news which was to reach me on returning to our inclosure. The horse that had carried me from Tripoli to Mourzuk and back again, and on which I had ridden the whole journey from Tripoli to Bornou, had died, a very few hours after my departure for the lake. There are situations in a man’s life in which losses of this nature are felt most keenly; and this was one of them. It was not grief, but it was something very nearly[92] approaching to it; and though I felt ashamed of the degree of derangement which I suffered from it, yet it was several days before I could get over the loss. Let it be however remembered, that the poor animal had been my support and comfort—may I not say companion?—through many a dreary day and night; had endured both hunger and thirst in my service with the utmost patience; was so docile, though an Arab, that he would stand still for hours in the desert, while I slept between his legs, his body affording me the only shelter that could be obtained from the powerful influence of a noon-day sun: he was yet the fleetest of the fleet, and ever foremost in the race. My negro lad opened his head, and found a considerable quantity of matter formed on the brain. Three horses at the Arab tents had died with similar appearances; and there can be little doubt but that it was the effect of climate, the scarcity and badness of the water, and the severe exposure to the sun which we had all undergone. The thermometer was this day in the hut 103°; the hottest day we had yet felt in Bornou.

I made it a rule to show myself among the people and merchants at some part of each market-day, in order to make myself familiar to the strangers who attended from the neighbouring towns, and to-day I was eminently successful—the young and the old came near me without much apparent alarm; but stretching out my hand, a smile, or any accidental turn of the head, always started them from my side: there seemed to be, however, a reciprocal feeling of better acquaintance between us, and I was rather surprised at the complacency, nay, even satisfaction, with which I began to survey the negro beauties—frequently exclaiming to Boo-Khaloom’s brother, who was with me, “What a very fine girl! what pretty features!” without even remarking that “toujours noir” which had previously accompanied any contemplation of what might otherwise have struck me as a pleasing countenance.

March 18.—Doctor Oudney thinking himself a little improved[93] in health, he determined on seeing the sheikh the next day, on the subject of his departure for Soudan; for myself, I was but too happy for the present in having received no refusal from the sheikh to my proposition of accompanying the ghrazzie. I had previously determined, whether I should succeed in this object or not, that I would as yet ask no other favour; as I felt assured that only by slow degrees and a patient cultivation of the friendship of El Kanemy, our ultimate objects could be accomplished. I was not, therefore, greatly surprised to find that the sheikh gave this morning a decided refusal to Doctor Oudney’s request of accompanying the kafila to Soudan.

A Shouaa chief, Dreess-aboo Raas-ben-aboo-Deleel, whose people had their tents close to the Shary, visited me to-day. I found him a very intelligent cunning fellow: he put a hundred questions, and, strange to say, asked for nothing as a gift. I, however, gave him a looking-glass, with which he was much pleased. He and his people had passed over from the service of the sultan of Waday to that of our sheikh, three years ago: he told me that the Sultan of Begharmi was preparing to rebuild his capital, Kernuck; and from this man I obtained a route and plan of the branches of the Shary, close to Begharmi.

March 26.—I had another visit from my new ally this morning, who came alone, and assured me the sheikh was not willing that we should see any of the country to the south of the Shary; that my liberality to him yesterday had made him take an oath to be my friend; and that if I would lay my hand on that book, pointing to my own journal, that holy book, he said he would tell me what order the sheikh had given him with respect to his conduct on our arriving in his district,—which was, that we were not to cross the river. He, however, added, that if I chose to pass the Shary and come to his tents, which were at a place called Kerga, he would find means of sending me still farther south. “If you leave the Shary,”[94] said he, “when the sun is three fathoms high, you will be with me by sunset.” I questioned him as to the danger of incurring the sheikh’s displeasure; but he did not prevaricate, and his reply was “there were three brothers of them, and the sheikh wanted to bring them all over to his service, and that it was not his interest to quarrel with them.”

March 28.—Doctor Oudney was getting worse and worse: he had applied a blister to his chest in consequence of the violence of his cough; but he was so weak as not to be able to move from one hut to another. His principal food was a little flour and water paste, and sometimes a little soup at night. Boo-Khaloom saw us after prayers; he said that he had determined on dismissing about thirty of the most rebellious Arabs, and they were about to return to Mourzuk.

March 29 to April 8.—Tuesday. Drees paid me a third visit previous to his leaving Kouka, and pressed me to come over the Shary, and at least stay some time at his tents. It was night when he came; and he either affected, or really had great fear, of any one’s noticing him. “Do not mention my coming to you,” said he; “every body who visits your hut is a spy on your actions. Every thing you say is repeated to the sheikh.” “—And yourself,” said I. “Very good,” said he; “you have no reason to trust me. Say nothing; I have made you the offer. Come, if you think proper; but do not commit yourself. I have spoken to you as I would to my own bowels.”

The Shouaas Arabs are a very extraordinary race, and have scarcely any resemblance to the Arabs of the north: they have fine open countenances, with aquiline noses and large eyes; their complexion is a light copper colour: they possess great cunning with their courage, and resemble in appearance some of our best favoured gypsies in England, particularly the women, and their Arabic is nearly pure Egyptian.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

[95]The disputes between the Arabs had arrived at such a height, that all idea of an amicable arrangement between them seemed at an end. Abdallah Bougiel had obtained the support of most of the sheikh’s people, and was therefore favoured by the sheikh himself: he succeeded in getting away nearly half of the Arabs from Boo-Khaloom; and they pitched their tents at a few miles’ distance from the town. The chiefs, however, were in Kouka every day, always with loaded pistols under their barracans, fearing assassination from the intrigues of each other. Abdallah Bougiel charged Boo-Khaloom with wasting his time in Kouka, for the purpose of disposing of his merchandize; while the Arabs were starving, and might have been employed in a marauding expedition for the benefit of the bashaw. Boo-Khaloom very boldly, and with great truth, accused Abdallah of mutinous and disorderly conduct, in opposing him on all occasions,—taking the part of those refractory Arabs whom he had thought it right to punish on the road for robbery, and seducing them from under his command, where the bashaw had placed both them and himself: he most properly declared, that they came as an escort to the English, and he as a merchant—that if a ghrazzie was advisable, he was to judge when the proper time would be for undertaking it.

The sheikh, however, without lessening his attentions to Boo-Khaloom, whom he now promised to send with his own people to the country beyond Mandara, encouraged Abdallah to pursue his plan of quitting Boo-Khaloom. The occupation of making up our despatches, as well as the continued weakness of Doctor Oudney, had prevented our attempting any movement during the last ten days: I say attempting, for we were upon such ticklish ground, that success seemed more than doubtful. Doctor Oudney was, however, a little better, though not fit to accompany an expedition of this nature; and I declared my intention of proceeding with Boo-Khaloom, begging him to make known my wish to the sheikh.

Thus were we situated on the 8th of April, after ten days of[96] repeated disappointment, great anxiety, and excessive heat, the thermometer being some days at 106°. Mr. Clapperton’s horse had died on the 5th, of the same complaint as my own. Both the Arab expeditions were on the eve of departing, but without our having any knowledge of their destination. Bougiel had been repeatedly to my hut, and endeavoured to convince me of the uprightness of his conduct, and his great love for the English: “Only say, sidi reis, (my lord captain) where you will go, and I will bring you a hundred men, who will accompany you, and die by your side.” I told him, “I had no occasion for such an escort, and no money to reward them; that he had better return to the tents, be reconciled to Boo-Khaloom, and, as he had left Tripoli with him, return with him, and then make his complaint to the bashaw.” He said, “No: Boo-Khaloom had once d——d his father and his faith! that it was deep in his heart; Ikmish fi gulbi, and he could never forgive him. But would I write to the bashaw, and the consul at Tripoli, and say that he had always been my friend?” I replied, “Certainly not! That, if I wrote at all, it would be to say that he was decidedly wrong in every thing that he had done.”

Boo-Khaloom left Kouka this afternoon on an expedition, without coming to take leave of us: this was a sufficient proof to me that our application to accompany the ghrazzie had been met by a denial on the part of the sheikh. The disappointment this occasioned me was very great indeed, for I had always reckoned on being at least left to my own arrangements for this expedition; and I felt confident that by such means only could we get to the southward—which conclusion subsequent events proved to be a just one.

April 10.—Soon after daylight we were summoned to appear before the sheikh, and our request of visiting the Shary complied with.

The sheikh produced some uncouth ornaments for the front of[97] the head and breast, of gold and silver, with a number of paste and glass imitations of ruby and other precious stones. He thought these real, and asked their value; and, showing him the little bit of yellow metal which gave the glass bead the colour of the topaz, amazed him greatly: the person who gave him these as real will meet with but a sorry reception on his next visit, as what he had thought worth one hundred dollars were probably dear at as many pence.

April 11 and 12.—The ghrazzie, under Boo-Khaloom, remained these two days at Angornou with Barca Gana, the sheikh’s kashella (or general), to collect people for the expedition. Abdallah Bougiel had left Kouka the day before, in the direction of Kanem. This day five of his horsemen, and twenty of his men on foot, redeserted, and passed through Kouka in their way to rejoin Boo-Khaloom. One of the sheikh’s eunuchs, of whom he had six, the only males who were allowed to enter that division of his house where the women resided, came to me on the part of his favourite wife begging for a bead, as she called it, similar to the one she sent for me to look at, adding, that his mistress would give any price for it, for the like was never seen in Bornou. On this curiosity being taken out of a beautiful silk handkerchief, to my surprise I saw one of the glass drops of a chandelier, diamond-shaped, which I suppose had been brought by some of the freed female slaves from Tripoli. “He was not at all astonished,” he said, “at my not having any thing like it: Ah! he was afraid not; it was wonderfully beautiful! His mistress would be very unhappy at the news he would take back.” No glass beads, or such as are brittle, and likely to break, can be sold for any thing: strength in these articles is looked for even more than beauty, and the sterling weight of this crystal drop, added to its clearness, made it invaluable in the eyes of the sultana.

April 13.—I had thought it prudent to send as a present to the sheikh my remaining horse. I had mounted him but once for two[98] months; a sore on his back, from a small size became inflamed, with a deep hole in the middle, surrounded with proud flesh: his blood was in a sad state, and he got thinner and thinner. I hinted, at the same time, that a horse of the country would be very acceptable to me in exchange. The sheikh very handsomely sent me word that I should have as good a one as the country afforded—and a very active powerful little iron-grey was sent me.

Boo-Khaloom, we heard, was to quit Angornou on his expedition on the 14th: the losing this opportunity of both seeing the country and in what manner these people could lead 3000 men into action, for his ghrazzie was to consist of that number, vexed me more than I can express. It was an opportunity, I felt, that was not to be lost: the sheikh’s promised expedition might never take place; it would certainly be in a different direction; and at any rate I knew that with Boo-Khaloom I could follow my own plans, which most likely with the sheikh I could not. In this state of dilemma I determined on applying to the sheikh’s chief karouash, who professed himself greatly my friend, and to offer him fifty dollars if he could obtain the sheikh’s permission. The request instantly opened my eyes as to which quarter the wind of the court blew from. “Could not you make the sheikh,” said he “some pretty present? At the same time he is only afraid of your getting into danger: egal rais khaleel rajal meliah yassur (he says the rais is an excellent person).” I replied, “that was impossible; that we had already given many handsome presents, and had written to England for others; for himself he should have fifty dollars if he succeeded.”—Karouash left me with, I am sure, every wish to succeed in my behalf.


[22]Gubka, about a yard English.


It was late in the evening of the 15th April before my mind was made up as to the practicability of accompanying the ghrazzie. I had an interview with the sheikh, when he said, “I must refuse, because I know not how to ensure your safety: still I wish that I could comply with your request. The application by Boo-Khaloom for all your party to go was out of the question; your king could not wish that a mission sent out so far should run such risks—it was an imprudent request, and the bashaw would never have forgiven me if I had complied with it. You are differently situated; your sultan expressly orders you to accompany any military expeditions: but although you are a soldier, you will scarcely know how to take care of yourself, in an expedition of this nature, should Boo-Khaloom meet with a repulse; and on this account alone I cannot sanction your departure.” I replied, “that I could not be otherwise than sensible of the anxiety he evinced for our safety, but that the orders of my sultan must be obeyed if possible: that although he refused his approbation, I trusted he would not prevent my accompanying Boo-Khaloom. Indeed,” added I, smiling, “if that is your intention, I give you notice that the silsel[23] had better be put on—I shall certainly go, for I dare not lose such an opportunity of seeing the country.”

Here ended our conference; and some time after midnight, the[100] negro who was to accompany me to Angornou, where I had previously intended awaiting the arrival of Doctor Oudney, roused me to commence my journey, adding, “We shall scarcely reach Angornou before daylight.” My baggage and necessaries were easily carried by one camel. My sole companion was my own negro Barca, whom I mounted on a mule, with my small canteens under him, containing a scanty supply of coffee: this, and a bag of rice, were all my provisions—and I trusted to Providence for the rest. To join the ghrazzie I was determined; but in what way it was to be accomplished, I was not yet decided. Boo-Khaloom had left Angornou the day before; and it was reported that he would halt one day about thirty-five miles south of that place: the destination of the expedition still remained a secret. Maraymy ben Soudanee, the negro whom the sheikh had appointed to accompany me, was the same that had attended me before in my excursion to the Tchad: he was born a slave in Mohamed el Soudanee’s family, the sheikh’s first cousin, who was now on his way to Mecca. As he took with him but a small retinue, Maraymy and many others were left behind, and served as an askar, or soldier, to the sheikh. His character amongst the sheikh’s people was one of great bravery; his daring manner of approaching the elephants, in our former trip, had not been unobserved by me; and during our present excursion he gave such proofs of gallantry and goodness of heart, at the same time laying me under obligations to him of the most serious kind,—no less, eventually, than the preservation of my life—that he merits every praise that it is in my power to bestow. Maraymy spoke broken Arabic, of which he was not a little proud: I had discovered that taciturnity was not among the number of his failings, and we had not proceeded many miles before he began to gratify his natural propensity with great volubility. For myself I was unusually disinclined to conversation; many circumstances combined to render me dissatisfied with the situation of our affairs. I felt, at the moment,[101] more than ever the want of a companion and friend, in whose head and heart I could place some confidence; and Maraymy’s account of his battles, and hair-breadth escapes from the Kerdies, was almost unnoticed by me.

I was at length, however, roused by his question of “Does the rais go with the ghrazzie?” “How can I,” said I, “when the sheikh objects to it?” “But will you go, or not?” said he. “Whether I do or do not accompany it, at present is uncertain,” replied I: “you will proceed with me as far as Angornou, and leave me at Abde Nibbee’s hut. I should have thought much better of the sheikh’s conduct if he had desired you to be my companion, and sent me on to join Boo-Khaloom.” “If the rais will tell me whether he is determined, at all events, to proceed with the ghrazzie or not, I will then tell him what the sheikh’s orders are to me,” added Maraymy. “No, no!” rejoined I, “you know me well enough to be satisfied that no service done, or information given, ever goes unrewarded.—Tell me, if you choose, your directions; I cannot make you acquainted with my determination.”

Maraymy held out no longer; and it was to me most gratifying to learn, that the sheikh desired him not on any account to leave me; that if he found I was obstinate in persisting to join the expedition, he was to conduct me to their camp as quick as possible, and give me in charge to Barca Gana, the sheikh’s black Mameluke, who commanded the whole, with every possible charge to take care of me. I was not long now in making Maraymy acquainted with my intentions. I was lavish in my praises of the sheikh, whom my companion thought nearer a god than any other mortal; and we entered Angornou while twilight still spread its grey tint around, planning our departure from thence, as soon as daylight should return.

April 16.—The whole of this day Angornou was filling fast with strangers, in consequence of the great fsug the day following—and it had the appearance of a bustling town of business. Abde Nibbe,[102] at whose hut I passed the day, was a merchant we had known at Mourzuk, and here made good his professions of service, which had never before been put to the test. On a clean mat, placed in a shady corner of his hut, I slept away the heat of the day; and besides a supper of giddeed (meat dried in the sun) and rice, he regaled me with a very pleasant drink, composed of milk, red pepper, and honey. The evening was so sultry, that I determined on waiting until after midnight; and about an hour before sunrise we mounted our horses.

April 17.—Our course was south, near a number of gardens; but the only vegetable produced in them appeared to be onions. For many miles our road was over one continued plain, covered with wheat and gussub stubble; and a little before noon we arrived at Yeddie, twenty-one miles from Angornou, a considerable town, walled, and governed by a kaid. A hut was pointed out to us, after some altercation, where we were to pass the heat of the day. I, however, took my place in the skiffa or entrance, the coolest place I could find.

The kaid soon after paid me a visit, who it seemed was asleep when I arrived. He was extremely desirous that I should come to his habitation, and was greatly distressed at not having better provided for my convenience; moving was, however, quite out of the question. The heat was excessive; and I merely begged a little sweet milk, and that the crowd round the door, which I was obliged to keep open, might, if practicable, be in part dispersed; and I added, “They are all men—pray are there no women in your town?” The kaid, who evidently wished to make up for his former inattention, immediately answered, “Yes, yes! plenty; and they also would like to come and look at you, if you will give them leave.” This I was not disposed to refuse; and the kaid, sitting by me, and Maraymy keeping the door, so that not more than three or four came in at a time, I received upwards of one hundred of the softer sex.[103] Some of them were beautiful unaffected children of nature. I had nothing to show them but a looking-glass, and probably nothing could have pleased them more. One insisted upon bringing her mother, another her sister, in order to see the face she loved best reflected by the side of her own, which appeared to give them exquisite pleasure; as on seeing the reflection they repeatedly kissed the object of their affection. One very young and intelligent girl asked if she might bring her child, and on gaining permission quickly returned with an infant in her arms: she absolutely screamed with joy; and the tears ran down her cheeks when she saw the child’s face in the glass, who shook its hand in token of pleasure on perceiving its own reflected image.

By four in the afternoon we were again on the road, and Maraymy had raised my spirits by saying, “that if they had not moved on, we should reach the camp of the Arabs, and the sheikh’s troops, soon after sunset.” Fortunately they had not moved; and after fourteen miles we made Merty, and to the west of the town we saw the tents of the Arabs. Maraymy now told me, “that the sheikh wished I should put myself under the protection of Barca Gana; that Boo-Khaloom’s responsibility ceased on arriving at Bornou; that he was now bound to provide for my safety, and that with his people he wished me to remain.” I should have been better pleased to have pitched my tent close to that of my tried friend, and amongst my old companions the Arabs; but as Maraymy assured me the sheikh would be highly displeased, I instantly gave up the idea.

Barca Gana received me with a great deal of civility in his tent, although he kept me several minutes waiting outside, until he had summoned his fighi, or charm-writer—an indispensable person—and one or two of his chiefs, to attend him. “If it was the will of God,” he said, “I should come to no harm, and that he would do all in his power for my convenience.” A spot was appointed for my tent near his own; and I took my leave in order to visit the Arabs. The[104] cheers they all gave me, and the hearty shake of the hand of Boo-Khaloom, made me regret that I was not to be amongst them, in spite of all their bad qualities. Boo-Khaloom repeatedly exclaimed, “I knew you would come; I said you would by some means or other join us.” One of Barca Gana’s people now brought word that we should move on by daybreak. I retired to my tent after making Boo-Khaloom acquainted with the sheikh’s arrangements, first to write to Doctor Oudney of my proceedings, and then to sleep off my fatigue. Sleep, however, was my only refreshment: I was as it were between two stools; one of my friends did not think it necessary, and the other never intended, to send me any supper.

April 18.—Before sunrise the tents were struck, and we were all in motion. Barca Gana, who commanded the sheikh’s people, about two thousand strong, was a native of a town called Sankara, in Soudan, and had fallen into the sheikh’s hands about seventeen years before, when only nine years of age. The sheikh had always been extremely attached to him, and had raised him with his fortunes, to the rank he now held, as kaid, or governor, of Angala, part of Loggun, and all the towns on the Shary, besides making him kashella, or commander-in-chief of his troops: he was a powerful negro, of uncommon bravery, possessing a charm which he imagined rendered him invulnerable to either balls or arrows. He was keen, possessed great quickness of observation, and from being so long in the sheikh’s confidence, had acquired his manner, which was gentle, and particularly pleasing: added to this, he was a bigoted Musselman.

As I have before said, the morning of the 18th saw me riding by the side of Barca Gana, in full march for Mandara. Two hours before noon we made Alla, a town fourteen miles from Merty: here our tents were pitched until the afternoon, when we again moved, and after five hours’ march arrived at Deegoa, twenty miles from Alla. Deegoa is a large walled town, governed by a sultan subject to the sheikh, and may boast a population of thirty thousand. With[105] the exception of the immediate neighbourhood of the town, the country has been less cleared of wood than the neighbourhood of Angornou, and consequently is less productive. There is a very large wadey, or water-course, full a quarter of a mile in breadth: to the south of Deegoa we found it perfectly dry; but a large canoe, which was laid up by the side, to be used by travellers proceeding to Mandara in the wet season.

We had here a violent thunder-storm, accompanied by heavy rain during the night, which made its way plentifully into my Egyptian tent. Before daylight on the 19th, we broke up our encampment, and passing the wadey, continued our course through a very close country; the road consisted of several narrow paths, passable only for one horse at a time, and these greatly obstructed by the branches of tulloh, and other prickly trees, which hang over them. We made Affagay, another very large and populous town, early in the day: this is also subject to the sheikh, and governed by a kaid. Affagay, with the towns around it, Sogama, Kindacha, Masseram, and Kingoa, may be said to possess upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants. To the westward of Kingoa are the ruins of a very large town called Dagwamba: the country for many miles round formerly bore that name, and was governed by a sultan. The people were then all Kerdies, and, being conquered by the former sultans of Bornou, became Musselmans. Previous to arriving at Deegoa, we came upon a nest of Shouaas of the tribe of Waled Salamat: this race extends to the east quite as far as the Tchad.

Chiefs in this part of Africa are accompanied by as many personal followers as they think proper to maintain, both as horse and footmen: some of them form the band, if I may so call it. Barca Gana had five mounted, who kept close behind him, three of whom carried a sort of drum, which hung round their necks, and beat time while they sang extempore songs; one carried a small pipe made of a reed,[106] and the other blew, on a buffalo’s horn, loud and deep-toned blasts, as we moved through the wood: but by far the most entertaining and useful were the running footmen, who preceded the kashella, and acted as pioneers; they were twelve in number, and carried long forked poles, with which they, with great dexterity, kept back the branches, as they moved on at a quick pace, constantly keeping open a path, which would without them really have been scarcely passable; they, besides this, were constantly crying aloud something about the road, or the expedition, as they went on. For example: “Take care of the holes!—avoid the branches!—Here is the road!—take care of the tulloh!—its branches are like spears—worse than spears! Keep off the branches!” “For whom?” “Barca Gana.”—“Who in battle is like rolling of thunder?” “Barca Gana!”—“Now for Mandara!—now for the Kerdies!—now for the battle of spears!—Who is our leader?” “Barca Gana.”—“Here is the wadey, but no water.”—“God be praised!”—“In battle, who spreads terror around him like a buffalo in his rage?” “Barca Gana[24]”.

[107]This sort of question and answer, at once useful and exhilarating, is constantly kept up until the time of halting. We did not move from Affagay until the next morning, when the whole army were supplied with bullocks and sheep. This was the first meal I had made since leaving Angornou, and the following is their method of roasting the meat: the sheep were killed, cut in half, and laid upon a frame-work of wood made of strong stakes, and having four supporters; under it was a strong fire, and by this means the meat was roasted better than I ever saw it done in any part of Europe except my own country. Towards the evening I received a summons from Barca Gana, and in his tent found five or six of the chiefs assembled: half of a roasted sheep was laid on green boughs placed on the sand before us; the black chiefs then stripped off the dark blue shirt, their only covering; the sharpest dagger in the party was searched for, and being given to one who acted as carver, large slices of the flesh were cut, distributed about, and quickly devoured without either bread or salt: when we arrived at the bones, another side shared the same fate, and our repast closed by huge draughts from a large wooden bowl of rice water, honey, tamarinds, and red pepper, which nobody was allowed to drink of but myself and the kashella.—I expressed my satisfaction at this plentiful feast. Barca Gana said, “What the country afforded he always lived on; that he never carried any thing with him in these expeditions but a kind of paste, made of rice, flour, and honey, which, mixed with water, he took, morning and evening, when no better fare was to be had.”

On the 20th at noon we reached Delahay, our road lying through a thick wood. Delahay is a spot surrounded by large wide-spreading acacias, affording a delightful shade; and here there are between thirty and forty wells of very sweet water: the huts of a numerous tribe of Shouaas, called Hajainy, are near this place. It was a cloudy day, sultry and oppressive; the thermometer in my tent, in the afternoon, was at 109°. In the evening we made another halting-place,[108] called Hasbery, where we found no water; having come a distance of thirty-four miles.

The whole of this country is covered with alluvial soil; has a dark clayey appearance. Cracks, several inches in width, make the roads difficult, and, in the wet season, the water which falls remains on the ground for several months after. This evening, Boo-Khaloom’s camels, unable to keep pace with the light-footed maherhies of the Bornou people, were so long in coming up, that he came to Barca Gana’s tent, and a few unfortunate questions put to him, on the subject of my religion, sank me wofully in the opinion of my Bornou friends. Boo-Khaloom had been a great traveller, and was extremely liberal in his religious opinions for a Musselman; more so than he dared to acknowledge to these bigoted followers of the Prophet. The kashella’s fighi, Malem Chadily, had always eyed me with a look of suspicion, and had once said, when the whole army halted, at dawn, “Do you wash and pray?” “Yes,” said I. “Where?” rejoined the fighi. “In my tent,” I replied. This fighi, who continued throughout my mortal enemy and annoyance, now asked Boo-Khaloom “what these English were? were they Hanafy or Maleki?” still believing, that as we appeared a little better than the Kerdies, or savages, that we must be Moslem in some way or other. Boo-Khaloom answered, with some hesitation, “No: that we were mesquine (unfortunate); that we believed not in ‘the book,’ the title always given to the Koran; that we did not sully, or pray, as they did, five times a day; that we were not circumcised; that we had a book of our own, which did not mention Saidna Mohamed, and that, blind as we were, we believed in it: but In sh’ allah,” added he, “they will see their error, and die Musselmans, for they are naz zein zein Yassur (good people, very good).” This account was followed by a general groan; and the fighi clasped his hands, looked thoughtful, and then said, “Why does not the great bashaw of Tripoli make them all Musselmans?” This question made Boo-Khaloom smile: “Why!” replied Boo-Khaloom,[109] “that he could not very well do, great as he is; these people are powerful, very powerful, and an affront to even one of these might cost the bashaw his kingdom:—they are also rich, very rich.” “May it please the Lord quickly to send all their riches into the hands of true Musselmans,” said the fighi; to which the whole assembly echoed “Amen.” “However,” continued Boo-Khaloom, “there are insara Yassur fi denier (a great many Christians in the world), but the English are the best of any; they worship no images; they believe in one God, and are almost Moslem.” This was as much as he could say, although it raised me but little in the fighi’s estimation; and as he decided, so every body was obliged to think.

Our rice water, and honey, was always brought in a brass basin tinned on the inside, such as are only used by sultans and people of the highest rank, wooden bowls being always drunk out of by the people; and out of this basin Barca Gana and myself only were allowed to drink. To-night, while I was drinking, the fighi made some remark; what I left in the bowl was instantly thrown away, and soon after a separate vessel was assigned me.

We continued our course to Ally Mabur, where there is a large lake of still water. The horses, who had not drunk the night before, rushed into the lake by hundreds, and, in consequence, the water we got to drink was nearly as thick as pease-soup. The day was dreadfully sultry. My camel not coming up, I could not pitch my tent, and I became nearly exhausted by the intolerable heat. The thermometer was at 113° in the best shade I could find, and covered completely with a cloth, besides a thick woollen bornouse, I kept up some little moisture by excluding entirely all external air; still it was almost insupportable.

Ally Mabur, in the afternoon, and at night, halted at an open spot in the wood called Emcheday. The trees we had seen within the last two days were of a much larger kind, and the underwood[110] less. We had no water but the muddy beverage we had brought with us. Through an open space, or break in the wood, I had this day seen part of the Mandara hills, and had passed an extensive line of huts belonging to the Beni-hassan Shouaas. We were now but a few miles from the capital of Mandara, and several persons had arrived from the sultan, within the last two days, to welcome Barca Gana; but this evening one of his chiefs came, attended by about twenty horsemen, saying, “that the sultan would himself meet us the next day, on the road to Mora, his residence.” Our force had been increased, during the march, by several Shouaa sheikhs joining us, with their followers, both from the banks of the Tchad and from the west. We always found them drawn up on a certain spot on the road; and their salutation was by charging rapidly up, and shaking the spear at the kashella, wishing he might “crush his enemies as an elephant tramples on his victim,” and such like expressions.

By these accessions we were now upwards of three thousand strong, all cavalry, with the exception of about eighty Arabs on foot. We continued to approach a noble chain of hills, which were now full in our view, of considerable height and extent, with numerous trees growing on their steep and rugged sides. Delow, the first town we arrived at in Mandara, formerly the residence of the sultan, containing at least 10,000 inhabitants, has springs of beautiful fresh water; and in the valleys fig-trees; and trees, which bore a white flower resembling the zeringa, possessing a grateful odour, were plentiful.

At about a mile from this town, we saw before us the sultan of Mandara, surrounded by about five hundred horsemen, posted on a rising ground ready to receive us, when Barca Gana instantly commanded a halt. Different parties now charged up to the front of our line, and wheeling suddenly round, charged back again to the sultan. These people were finely dressed in Soudan tobes of different[111] colours; dark blue, and striped with yellow and red; bornouses of coarse scarlet cloth; with large turbans of white or dark coloured cotton. Their horses were really beautiful, larger and more powerful than any thing found in Bornou, and they managed them with great skill. The sultan’s guard was composed of thirty of his sons, all mounted on very superior horses, clothed in striped silk tobes; and the skin of the tiger-cat and leopard forming their shabracks, which hung fully over their horses’ haunches. After these had returned to their station in front of the sultan, we approached at full speed in our turn, halting with the guard between us and the royal presence. The parley then commenced, and the object of Boo-Khaloom’s visit having been explained, we retired again to the place we had left; while the sultan returned to the town, preceded by several men blowing long pipes, not unlike clarionets, ornamented with shells, and two immense trumpets from twelve to fourteen feet long, borne by men on horseback, made of pieces of hollow wood, with a brass mouth-piece, the sounds of which were not unpleasing.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

The parley was carried on in the Mandara language, by means of an interpreter; and I understood that we were to visit the sultan in the course of the day, and hear his determination.

Boo-Khaloom was, as usual, very sanguine: he said “he should make the sultan handsome presents, and that he was quite sure a Kirdy[25] town full of people would be given him to plunder.” The Arabs were all eagerness; they eyed the Kirdy huts, which were now visible on the sides of mountains before us, with longing eyes; and contrasting their own ragged and almost naked state with the appearance of the sultan of Mandara’s people in their silk tobes, not only thought, but said, “if Boo-Khaloom pleased, they would go no further; this would do.” Boo-Khaloom and the Arab sheikhs had[112] repeatedly exclaimed, when urging El Kanemy to send them to some country for slaves, “Never mind their numbers! arrows are nothing! and ten thousand spears are of no importance. We have guns! guns!” exclaiming, with their favourite imprecations, “Nakalou-e-kelab fesaa,” (We’ll eat them, the dogs, quickly)—“eich nu, abeed occul,” (what! why, they are negroes all!) I fancied I could see the keen features of El Kanemy curl at these contemptuous expressions, which equally applied to his own people; and certainly nothing could be more galling than for him to hear them from such a handful of Arabs: his own people were abeed occul, and their only arms spears and arrows, and this he could not but feel and remember.

Towards the evening Barca Gana sent to desire me to mount, for the purpose of visiting the sultan. We entered the town, Boo-Khaloom and myself riding on his right and left; and at the farther end of a large square was the sultan’s palace. As is usual on approaching or visiting a great man, we galloped up to the skiffa at full speed, almost entering the gates. This is a perilous sort of salutation, but nothing must stop you; and it is seldom made except at the expense of one or more lives. On this occasion, a man and horse, which stood in our way, were ridden over in an instant, the horse’s leg broke, and the man killed on the spot. The trumpets sounded as we dismounted at the palace gate; our papouches, or outward slippers, were quickly pulled off; and we proceeded through a wide skiffa, or entrance, into a large court, where, under a dark blue tent of Soudan, sat the sultan, on a mud bench, covered however with a handsome carpet and silk pillows: he was surrounded by about two hundred persons, all handsomely dressed in tobes of silk and coloured cotton, with his five eunuchs; the principal men of the country sitting in front, but all with their backs turned towards him. The manner of saluting is curious: Barca Gana, as the sheikh’s representative, approached to a space in front of the eunuchs, his eyes fixed on the ground; he then sat down,[113] with his eyes still fixed on the earth, with his back to the sultan, and, clapping his hands together, exclaimed, “Engouborou dagah! (May you live for ever!)—Allah kiaro! (God send you a happy old age!)—La, lai, barca, barca. (How is it with you? blessing! blessing!)” These words were repeated nearly by the sultan, and then sung out by all the court. The fatah was then said, and they proceeded to business. Boo-Khaloom produced some presents, which were carried off by the eunuchs unopened; the sultan then expressed his wish to serve him; said he would consider his request, and in a day or two give him his decision.

The sultan, whose name was Mohamed Bucker, was an intelligent little man of about fifty, with a beard dyed of a most beautiful sky-blue; he had been eyeing me for some time, as I sat between Boo-Khaloom and Barca Gana, and first asking Boo-Khaloom his name, inquired who I was? The answer that I was a native of a very distant and powerful nation, friends of the bashaw of Tripoli and the sheikh, who came to see the country, did not appear much to surprise him; and he looked gracious as he said, “But what does he want to see?” A fatal question however followed, and the answer appeared to petrify the whole assembly:—“Are they Moslem?” “La! la! (No! no!)” Every eye, which had before been turned towards me, was now hastily withdrawn, and, looking round, I really felt myself in a critical situation. “Has the great bashaw Kaffir friends?” said the sultan. The explanation which followed was of little use: they knew no distinctions; Christians they had merely heard of as the worst people in the world, and, probably, until they saw us, scarcely believed them to be human. We shortly after returned to our camp, and I never afterwards was invited to enter the sultan of Mandara’s presence.

Our tents had been pitched but a short distance from the town of Mora, and on our return upwards of forty slaves, preceded by one of the sultan’s eunuchs, came to the camp, bearing wooden bowls[114] filled with paste of the gussub flour, with hot fat and pepper poured over it, mixed with a proportionate seasoning of onions. This was considered as the very acmè of Mandara cooking; it was savoury, and not very unpleasant; but a few sides of mutton roasted, which came for the chiefs, was the better part of our fare. Malem Chadily betook himself to another bowl, because on Barca Gana’s putting the mess towards me, I had, as usual, plunged my right hand in without any ceremony. Barca Gana saw that I observed it, and his dread of the sheikh’s displeasure induced him to make some observation in Bornouese, which drove the fighi out of the tent: this distressed me, and I determined on adopting some measures for preventing the repetition of these disagreeables.

On the 23d we halted; but I was so dreadfully bitten by the ants and other insects, which beset us in myriads, that my hands and eyes were so swelled that I could scarcely hold a pen, or see to use one: added to this, the heat was again insufferable; for several hours in the middle of the day, the thermometer was as high as 113°. Covering myself up with all the blankets I could find afforded me the greatest relief—these defending me as well from the flies as the power of the sun: occasionally making my negro pour cold water on my head was another undescribable comfort. I passed the greater part of the evening with Boo-Khaloom, who had seen the sultan of Mandara in the day. He complained of being delayed; but was, nevertheless, still sanguine, and believed the sultan was endeavouring to find him a Kerdy country, which he was to attack; it, however, never was the intention of the sultan of Mandara to take any such steps, or the sheikh’s wish that he should. It was against people who would create in the Arabs a little more respect for spears and arrows, that the sheikh wished them to be sent; and this he thought could not better be accomplished than by consigning them to the sultan of Mandara, whose natural enemies, as well as his own, were the Felatahs, the most warlike people in the whole country.

[115]Mandara had been several times conquered by these Felatah tribes, which extend over an immense space of country: they are found through the whole of Soudan, quite to Timbuctoo, and at D’jennie on the Quolla they form the greatest part of the population. A very populous town, Conally, to the west of D’jennie, is inhabited wholly by Felatahs[26]. They are a very handsome race of people, of a deep copper colour, who seldom mix their blood with that of the negroes, have a peculiar language of their own, and are Moslem. They bear some resemblance to the Shouaas, although they are quite a distinct race. South-west of Mandara is a country called Karowa; and these two countries were formerly governed by one sultan (Kerdy), until Mandara was wrested from them by the Felatahs of Musfeia and Kora. The son of the sultan of Karowa, the present sultan, succeeded in recovering Mandara out of their hands, and has since been able to keep possession, as they aver, from his having become Moslem—be that as it may, he is now a Musselman, and an intelligent one for his situation: his resources are great, and his country by nature easy to defend. About ten years ago, he found so little defence from the walls of his then residence Delow, against the attacks of the Felatahs, that he built the new town Mora, nearly facing the north, and situated under a semicircular ridge of very picturesque mountains. These natural barriers form a strong rampart on every side but one, and he has hitherto withstood the attempts of his enemies. It is rather a curious circumstance that no Shouaas are to be found in the Mandara dominions, nor any where to the south of them.

The Sheikh El Kanemy, very shortly after his successes and elevation,[116] saw the advantage of a powerful ally, such as the sultan of Mandara, against the Felatahs, who were equally the dread of both these potentates; the vicinity of Mandara to the Kerdy nations, as well as the ease with which slaves are obtained from thence, was also another consideration. The tribes of Shouaas, bordering on the Mandara frontier to the north and north-east, had always been in the habit of sending marauding parties into that part of the country nearest to them, which the sultan had never been able to prevent; and the sheikh no sooner saw the necessity of bringing these dwellers in tents into subjection to the sultan of Bornou than he determined also on making a stipulation for the discontinuance of their inroads into the Mandara country, the peace of which they had so long disturbed. This treaty of alliance was confirmed by the sheikh’s receiving in marriage the daughter of the sultan of Mandara, and the marriage portion was to be the produce of an immediate expedition into the Kerdy country, called Musgow, to the south-east of Mandara, by the united forces of the sheikh and the sultan. The results were as favourable as the most savage confederacy could have anticipated—three thousand unfortunate wretches were dragged from their native wilds and sold to perpetual slavery; while, probably, double that number were sacrificed to obtain them. These nuptials are said to have been celebrated with great rejoicing, and much barbarian splendour: the blood, however, which had been shed in the path to the altar, one would almost think, was sufficient to have extinguished the hymeneal torch, and annihilated the bearers.

This treaty of alliance left the sultan of Mandara no other enemies than the Felatahs to contend with; and his power had increased too much for him to fear any offensive measures on their part: on the contrary, he had been at the time of our expedition for some months seeking for an opportunity to commence hostilities[117] himself[27]. The Mandara force consists principally of cavalry, which, as their horses are of a superior breed, have a very imposing appearance. Some of the Kerdy towns occasionally furnish a few bowmen; but as their only object is plunder in the event of a victory, on the least appearance of a contrary result they quickly betake themselves to their mountain habitations. The principal Mandara towns are eight in number, and all stand in the valley: these, and the smaller ones by which they are surrounded, all profess Islamism. The Kerdies are far more numerous; and their dwellings are seen every where in clusters on the sides, and even at the top, of the very hills which immediately overlook the Mandara capital. The fires which were visible in the different nests of these unfortunates threw a glare upon the bold peaks and bluff promontories of granite rock by which they were surrounded, and produced a picturesque and somewhat awful appearance. The dread in which they hold the sultan has been considerably increased by his close alliance with the sheikh; and the appearance of such a force as that which accompanied Barca Gana, bivouacked in the valley, was a most appalling sight to those who occupied the overhanging heights: they were fully aware, that for one purpose alone would such a force visit their country; and which of them were to be the victims, must have been the cause of most anxious inquietude and alarm to the whole. By the assistance of a good telescope, I could discover those who, from the terms on which they were with Mandara, had the greatest dread stealing off into the very heart of the mountains; while others came towards Mora, bearing leopard skins, honey, and slaves, plundered from a neighbouring town, as peace-offerings; also asses[118] and goats, with which their mountains abound: these were not, however, on this occasion destined to suffer. The people of Musgow, whose country it was at first reported (although without foundation) that the Arabs were to plunder, sent two hundred head of their fellow-creatures, besides other presents, to the sultan, with more than fifty horses. Between twenty and thirty horsemen, mounted on small, fiery, and very well formed steeds of about fourteen hands high, with a numerous train, were the bearers of these gifts—and a most extraordinary appearance they made. I saw them on their leaving the sultan’s palace; and both then, and on their entrance, they threw themselves on the ground, pouring sand on their heads, and uttering the most piteous cries. The horsemen, who were chiefs, were covered only by the skin of a goat or leopard, so contrived as to hang over the left shoulder, with the head of the animal on the breast; and being confined round the middle, was made to reach nearly half way down the thigh, the skin of the tail and legs being also preserved. On their heads, which were covered with long woolly, or rather bristly, hair, coming quite over their eyes, they wore a cap of the skin of the goat, or some fox-like animal; round their arms, and in their ears, were rings of what to me appeared to be bone; and round the necks of each were from one to six strings of what I was assured were the teeth of the enemies they had slain in battle: teeth and pieces of bone were also pendant from the clotted locks of their hair, and with the red patches with which their body was marked in different places, and of which colour also their own teeth were stained, they really had a most strikingly wild, and truly savage, appearance. What very much increased the interest I felt in gazing upon these beings, who, to appearance, were the most savage of their race, was the positive assertion of Boo-Khaloom that they were Christians. I had certainly no other argument at the moment to use, in refutation of his position, but their most unchristian-like appearance and[119] deportment; in this he agreed, but added, “Wolla Insara, they are Christians!” Some of them, however, begging permission to regale themselves on the remains of a horse, which had died during the night in our camp, gave me, as I thought, an unanswerable argument against him. I can scarcely, however, at this moment forget how disconcerted I felt when he replied, “That is nothing: I certainly never heard of Christians eating dead horse-flesh, but I know they eat the flesh of swine, and God knows that is worse!” “Grant me patience!” exclaimed I to myself; “this is almost too much to bear, and to be silent.”

I endeavoured, by means of one of the Mandara people, to ask some questions of some of these reputed Christians, but my attempts were fruitless; they would hold no intercourse with any one; and, on gaining permission, carried off the carcass of the horse to the mountains, where, by the fires which blazed during the night, and the yells that reached our ears, they no doubt held their savage and brutal feast.

April 24.—The sultan of Mandara had given no intimation whatever of his intentions with regard to Boo-Khaloom’s destination, and in consequence the impatience and discontent of the latter were extreme. Offerings poured in, from all the Kerdy nations; and the sultan excused himself to Boo-Khaloom for the delay, on account of the extreme tractability of the people around him, who, he said, were becoming Musselmans without force. Again Musgow was mentioned; adding, that the warlike arm of the Arabs, bearing the sword of the Prophet, might turn their hearts. This hypocrisy, however, Boo-Khaloom inveighed against most loudly to me, declaring that the conversion of the Kerdy people would lose him (the sultan) thousands of slaves, as their constant wars with each other afford them the means of supplying him abundantly.

My own patience, also, this morning underwent a severe trial. I applied to Barca Gana, by dawn of day, for one of his men to accompany[120] me to the mountains; and after some conversation a chief was sent with me to the house of the suggamah (chief of the town), who sent me to another, and he begged I might be taken to a third. They all asked me a hundred questions, which was natural enough; begged powder—looked at my gun—snapped the lock so often, that I feared they would break it, exclaiming, “Y-e-o-o-o! wonderful! wonderful!” when the fire came. At last, however, when I once got it in my hand, I loaded both the barrels, and after that I could not induce one of them to put their hands within five yards of it. The last great man whose house I was taken to cunningly begged me to fire, calling his slaves to stand round him while I complied with his request: immediately after he asked for the gun, and carried it into an inner court. I was kept full half an hour waiting; when about ten slaves rushed out, gave me the gun, and told the guide to carry me to the palace. I complained that they had stolen both my flints. Every body came to look—crowded round me, exclaiming, “Y-e-o-o-o!” and this was all the redress I could obtain. I soon after found out that the flints were not my only loss; my pocket handkerchief also, which several had petitioned for without success, had been stolen.

Arrived at the palace, I was desired to wait in the skiffa. I began to walk about, but was told that was not allowed, that I must sit down on the ground: after waiting nearly an hour, during which time I was desirous more than once to return, but was told by my guide that it was impossible until the sultan gave orders, I was conducted into the presence of the chief eunuch; he desired me to stop within about twelve yards of him, and then said, “The sultan could not imagine what I wanted at the hills? Did I wish to catch the Kerdies alone?—that I had better buy them,—he would sell me as many as I pleased.” He then made some remark, which was not interpreted, and which created a loud laugh in all the bystanders: the joke was evidently at my expense, although I was not aware of[121] its point. I assured him, “that I did not wish to go at all to the hills if the sultan had the slightest objection, that it was purely curiosity, and that as to catching Kerdies, I would not take them if given to me.” This put us all to rights; I gave him some powder, and he was as civil as he could be to such a kafir as myself.

Six men, armed with large clubs and short daggers, were now desired to go with me. The sultan’s anxiety for my safety, the eunuch assured me, was the only reason I had found any difficulty. What directions these, my satellites, had received, I know not, but they watched me so closely, appeared so jealous of every stone I picked up, that I did not venture to sketch the shape of a single hill. It was now nearly mid-day, and we proceeded about three quarters of a mile along the valley, which is on the south-west side of the town, and advanced a little into two of the chasms, which appear in the southernmost ridge of the chain. In one of these we found a beautiful stream of water, bubbling from a bed of glittering sand, under two immense blocks of granite, which seemed to form a rude arch over the spot. Several naked people, chiefly women and girls, ran from the place as we approached, and scrambled up the side of the mountain with the most monkey-like agility. I was abundantly assured that this chain of mountains, the highest parts of which, in the neighbourhood of Mandara, do not exceed two thousand five hundred feet, extends nearly south for more than two months’ journey—how much beyond that they know not. The only communication, in this direction, is by means of a few venturesome freed slaves, who penetrate into these countries with beads and tobes, which are eagerly bought up, as well as turkadies from Soudan, and slaves and skins are given in exchange. The nations are very numerous; generally paint, and stain their bodies of different colours, and live in common, without any regard to relationship. Large lakes are frequently met with, plentifully supplied with fish.[122] Mangoes, wild figs, and ground nuts, are found in the valleys. It does not appear that any other metal besides iron, which is abundant, has been discovered in these hills: near Karowa, to the south-west of Mandara, it is most plentiful.

The sound of the sultan’s trumpets, now heard at a distance, created a strong sensation amongst my attendants; they all declared we must return instantly; and when I very gently attempted to remonstrate a little, one of them took hold of the reins of my horse without any ceremony, turned him round, and led him on, while all the rest followed towards the town; of course I very quietly submitted, wondering what was the cause of alarm: it was, however, nothing but that the Sultan was giving audience, and these gentlemen of the chamber did not choose to be absent. They left me as soon as we approached the houses, and I was then instantly surrounded by at least a hundred others, who were so anxious to put their hands into, and examine, every thing about me, that I put spurs to my horse, and made the best of my way to the camp. I was exceedingly fatigued with my morning’s work, and crept into my tent, where I endured three hours of misery from a degree of excessive heat, surpassing all I could have supposed mankind were born to suffer here below.

Barca Gana sent to me soon after, and I found him preparing to receive one of the chief eunuchs of the sultan in his outward tent; his people all sitting round him on the sand, with their backs towards their chief, and eyes inclined downwards. Nothing can be more solemn than these interviews; not an eye is raised, or a smile seen, or a word spoken, beyond “Long life to you! A happy old age! Blessing! Blessing! May you trample on your enemies! Please God! Please God!” then the fatah, which is seldom or never omitted. The great man first inquired, “why I went to the hills; and what I wanted with the stones I had picked up, and put in a bag which I carried near[123] my saddle?” Barca Gana applied to me for information, and the bag was sent for. My specimens were not more than fifteen in number, and the eunuch, laying his hand on two pieces of fine grained granite, and some quartz, asked, “how many dollars they would bring in my country?” I smiled, and told him, “Not one: that I had no object in taking them beyond curiosity—that we had as much in England as would cover his whole country, and that I was pleased to find similar natural productions here. Assure the sultan,” added I, to Barca Gana, “that to take any thing from any of the inhabitants of these countries is not the wish of the English king: the sheikh knows our intentions, which are rather to make them acquainted with European produce; and if useful to them, send more into their country.” “True, true!” said Barca Gana: “what have you brought for the sultan?”—and here I was again in a dilemma. I had only one small looking-glass of my own; neither knives, scissors, nor beads, although we had cases of them at Bornou. Something, however, was necessary to be given; I therefore sent for my trunk, and gave the sultan two French red imitation shawls, which I had bought for my own use, my own razor, and a pair of scissors; while for himself the eunuch took my two remaining pocket-handkerchiefs, and a coloured muslin one, with which he appeared to be highly delighted.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

April 25.—The news of the presents I had produced brought early this morning fifteen of the sultan’s sons, with double the number of followers, to my tent: they all wanted gunpowder, knives, and scissors; I had however neither one nor the other to give them. Two or three of the oldest of the princes got a French silk handkerchief each, and one a pair of cotton socks, and, of course, the others went away sadly discontented. I this morning ventured to make two attempts at sketching, but my apparatus and myself were carried off without ceremony to the sultan. My pencils marking[124] without ink, created great astonishment, and the facility with which its traces were effaced by India rubber seemed still more astonishing. My old antagonist, Malem Chadily, was there, and affected to treat me with great complaisance: he talked a great deal about me and my country, which made his hearers repeatedly cry out, “Y-e-o-o-o!” but what the purport of his observations were I could not make out. I endeavoured, however, to forget all his former rudeness, took every thing in good part, and appeared quite upon as good terms with him as he evidently wished to appear to be with me. Several words were written both by him and the others, which the rubber left no remains of; at length the fighi wrote Bismillah arachmani aracheme (in the name of the great and most merciful God), in large Koran characters; he made so deep an impression on the paper, that, after using the Indian rubber, the words still appeared legible: “This will not quite disappear,” said I. “No, no!” exclaimed the fighi, exulting; “they are the words of God, delivered to our Prophet! I defy you to erase them!” “Probably so,” said I; “then it will be in vain to try.” He showed the paper to the sultan, and then around him, with great satisfaction; they all exclaimed, “Y-e-o-o-o! La illah el Allah! Mohammed rassoul Allah!”—cast looks at me expressive of mingled pity and contempt, and I was well pleased when allowed to take my departure.

The whole of this scene was repeated to Barca Gana in his tent in the evening, and they all exclaimed “Wonderful! Wonderful!” and as I did not contradict any part of his account, the fighi thus addressed me: “Rais, you have seen a miracle! I will show you hundreds, performed alone by the words of the wonderful book! You have a book also, you say, but it must be false.—Why? Because it says nothing of Saidna Mohammed, that is enough.—Shed! Shed! turn! turn! say ‘God is God, and Mohammed is his prophet.’ Sully (wash), and become clean, and paradise is open to you: without[125] this, what can save you from eternal fire? Nothing!—Oh! I shall see you while sitting in the third heaven, in the midst of the flames, crying out to your friend Barca Gana and myself, ‘Malem, saherbi! (friend), give me a drink or a drop of water!’ but the gulf will be between us, and then it will be too late.” The Malem’s tears flowed in abundance during this harangue, and every body appeared affected by his eloquence.

I felt myself, at this period, extremely uncomfortable; and Barca Gana, who saw my distress, called me into the inner tent, where nobody accompanied him, except by invitation. “The fighi,” said he, “is a rajal alem (clever man).” “Very likely,” said I; “but he surely might leave me to my own belief, as I leave him to his.” “Staffer Allah!” (God forbid!) said he. “Do not compare them.” “I do not,” said I, “God knows; but you, Kashella, should protect me from such repeated annoyances.” “No,” replied Barca, “in this I cannot interfere. Malem is a holy man. Please God! you will be enlightened, and I know the sheikh wishes it; he likes you, and would you stay amongst us, he would give you fifty slaves of great beauty, build you a house like his son’s, and give you wives from the families of any of his subjects you choose!” “Were you to return to England with me, Kashella, as you sometimes talk about, with the sheikh’s permission, would it not be disgraceful for you to turn Christian, and remain? Were I to do as you would have me, how should I answer to my sultan who sent me?” “God forbid!” said he; “you are comparing our faiths again. I propose to you eternal paradise, while you would bring me to ——.” “Not a word more,” said I.—“Good night!” “Peace be with you! I hope we shall always be friends,” said he. “Please God!” returned I. “Amen!” said the kashella.

This night we had a more dreadful storm than I ever remember being out in. The top of my Egyptian tent, which I had preferred bringing on account of its portability, was carried completely off, and[126] the pole broken. The brightness of the lightning rendered it more like noon than midnight: a tamarind-tree was torn up by its roots in the valley near us; huge masses of stone rolled down the sides of the mountain; and I crept into a corner of Barca Gana’s outer tent, where slept his guard; and, although every rag about me was drenched with water, I was in a short time insensible to the storm which raged around me.

In the morning, however, I suffered considerably from pains in all my limbs and head. The Arabs, also, were full of complaints, and extremely dissatisfied with their situation; they loudly exclaimed against their delay. They had, for days, eaten nothing but a little flour and water, without fat: the sultan of Mandara would grant them no supply, and they demanded of Boo-Khaloom to go on, or turn back. The rain again fell in torrents, which is an Arab’s greatest dread, and they assembled round Boo-Khaloom’s tent, almost in a state of mutiny. Boo-Khaloom himself was excessively ill, more, I believe, from vexation than sickness. He had a long interview with the sultan, and returned very much irritated: he merely told me, as he passed, “that we should move in the evening;” and when I asked, “if every thing went well?” he merely answered, “In shallah!” (please God). The Arabs, from whom he kept his destination a secret, received him with cheers. Whom they were going against they cared but little, so long as there was a prospect of plunder, and the whole camp became a busy scene of preparation.

Two hours after noon we commenced our march through a beautiful valley to the east of Mora, winding round the hills which overhang the town, and penetrating into the heart of the mass of mountains nearly to the south of it. About sunset we halted in a very picturesque spot, called Hairey, surrounded by a superb amphitheatre of hills. Barca Gana’s tent was pitched under the shade of one side of an immense tree, called gubberah, much resembling a fig-tree, although wanting its delicious fruit; and the remnants of[127] my tent, which had been mended by his people, and now stood about three feet from the ground, were placed on the opposite side. The trunks of these trees commonly measure ten and twelve yards in circumference near the root, and I have seen them covering more than half an acre of ground with their wide-spreading branches.

Pass of Hairy
in the
Mandara Mountains.

D. Denham. J. & C. Walker Sculp.


Published as the Act directs Feby. 1826, by John Murray Albemarle St. London.

Soon after our arrival, the sultan’s trumpets announced his approach, and he took up his station, at no great distance, under a tree of the same kind: he never used a tent, but slept in an open space, surrounded by his eunuchs. At Hairey are the remains of a Mandara town, long since destroyed by the Felatahs; parts of the mud walls were still standing, and under shelter of these the troops bivouacked. The scorpions, however, made their appearance in the course of the night in great numbers, and several men were stung by them: on hearing the disturbance, and learning the cause, I called my negro, and, striking a light, we killed three in my tent; one of them was full six inches in length, of the black kind, exactly resembling those I had seen in Tripoli.

In consequence of Boo-Khaloom’s illness, it was after daylight when we broke up from our encampment, and probably the mountain scenery, by which we were surrounded, could scarcely be exceeded in beauty and richness. On all sides the apparently interminable chain of hills closed upon our view: in rugged magnificence, and gigantic grandeur, though not to be compared with the Higher Alps, the Apennines, the Jura, or even the Sierra Morena, in magnitude, yet by none of these were they surpassed in picturesque interest. The lofty peaks of Vahmy, Savah, Joggiday, Munday, Vayah, Moyung, and Memay, with clustering villages on their stony sides, appeared to the east and west of us; while Horza, exceeding any of her sister hills in height, as well as in beauty, appeared before us to the south, with its chasm or break through which we were to pass; and the[128] winding rugged path we were about to tread was discernible in the distance. The valley in which I stood had an elevation superior to that of any part of the kingdom of Bornou, for we had gradually ascended ever since quitting Kouka; it was in shape resembling a large pentagon, and conveyed strongly the idea of its having been the bed or basin of some ancient lake, for the disappearance of which all hypothesis would be vain and useless. There were the marks of many outlets, some long and narrow fissures, through which the waters might have broken; the channel by which we had entered appearing most likely to have carried off its contents.

On proceeding through the pass of Horza, where the ascent continued, its perpendicular sides exceeding two thousand five hundred feet in height, hung over our heads with a projection almost frightful; the width of the valley did not exceed five hundred yards, and the salient and re-entering angles so perfectly corresponded, that one could almost imagine, if a similar convulsion of nature to that which separated were to bring its sides again together, they would unite, and leave no traces of their ever having been disjoined.

It was long after mid-day when we came to the mountain stream called Mikwa, and it afforded an indescribable relief to our almost famished horses and ourselves: the road, after quitting the Horza pass, had been through an extensive and thickly-planted valley, where the tree gubberah, the tamarind, a gigantic wild fig, and the mangoe (called by the Mandaras ungerengera, and comonah by the Bornouese), flourished in great numbers and beauty. This was the first spot I had seen in Africa where Nature seemed at all to have revelled in giving life to the vegetable kingdom; the leaves presented a bright luxuriant verdure, and flowers, from a profusion of climbing parasitical plants, winding round the trunks of the trees, left the imagination in doubt as to which of them the fair aromatic blossoms that perfumed the air were indebted for their nourishment.[129] The ground had frequent irregularities; and broken masses of granite, ten and twelve feet in height, were lying in several places, but nearly obscured by the thick underwood growing round them, and by the trees, which had sprung up out of their crevices. The nearest part of the hills, to which these blocks could have originally belonged, was distant nearly two miles.

When the animals had drunk we again moved on, and after eighteen miles of equally verdant country, more thickly wooded, we came, after sunset, to another stream, near some low hills, called Makkeray, where we were to halt for a few hours to refresh, and then move again, so as to commence an attack on the Felatahs, who were said to be only about sixteen miles distant, with the morning sun.

Our supper, this night, which indeed was also our breakfast, consisted of a little parched corn pounded and mixed with water, the only food we had seen since leaving Mora. Nothing could look more like fighting than the preparations of these Bornou warriors, although nothing could well be more unlike it than the proof they gave on the morrow. The closely-linked iron jackets of the chiefs were all put on, and the sound of their clumsy and ill-shapen hammers, heard at intervals during the night, told the employment of the greater part of their followers.

About midnight the signal was given to advance. The moon, which was in her third quarter, afforded us a clear and beautiful light, while we moved on silently, and in good order, the sultan of Mandara’s force marching in parallel columns to our own, and on our right. At dawn, the whole army halted to sully: my own faith also taught me a morning prayer, as well as that of a Musselman, though but too often neglected.

As the day broke on the morning of the 28th of April, a most interesting scene presented itself. The sultan of Mandara was close[130] on our flank, mounted on a very beautiful cream-coloured horse, with several large red marks about him, and followed by his six favourite eunuchs, and thirty of his sons, all being finely dressed, and mounted on really superb horses; besides which, they had each from five to six others, led by as many negroes: the sultan had at least twelve. Barca Gana’s people all wore their red scarfs, or bornouses, over their steel jackets, and the whole had a very fine effect. I took my position at his right hand, and at a spot called Duggur we entered a very thick wood, in two columns, at the end of which it was said we were to find the enemy.

During the latter part of the night, while riding on in front with Maramy, the sheikh’s negro, who had accompanied me from Kouka, and who appeared to attach himself more closely to me as we approached danger, we had started several animals of the leopard species, who ran from us so swiftly, twisting their long tails in the air, as to prevent our getting near them. We, however, now started one of a larger kind, which Maramy assured me was so satiated with the blood of a negro, whose carcass we found lying in the wood, that he would be easily killed. I rode up to the spot just as a Shouaa had planted the first spear in him, which passed through the neck, a little above the shoulder, and came down between the animal’s legs; he rolled over, broke the spear, and bounded off with the lower half in his body. Another Shouaa galloped up within two arms’ length, and thrust a second through his loins; and the savage animal, with a woful howl, was in the act of springing on his pursuer, when an Arab shot him through the head with a ball, which killed him on the spot. It was a male panther (zazerma) of a very large size, and measured, from the point of the tail to the nose, eight feet two inches; the skin was yellow, and beautifully marked with orbicular spots on the upper part of the body, while underneath, and at the throat, the spots were oblong and irregular, intermixed with white.[131] These animals are found in great numbers in the woods bordering on Mandara: there are also leopards, the skins of which I saw, but not in great numbers. The panthers are as insidious as they are cruel; they will not attack any thing that is likely to make resistance, but have been known to watch a child for hours, while near the protection of huts or people. It will often spring on a grown person, male or female, while carrying a burthen, but always from behind: the flesh of a child or of a young kid it will sometimes devour, but when any full-grown animal falls a prey to its ferocity, it sucks the blood alone.

A range of minor hills, of more recent formation than the granite chain from which they emanate (which I cannot but suppose to form a part of El Gibel Gumhr, or Mountains of the Moon), approaches quite to the skirts of the extensive wood through which we were passing; and numerous deep ravines, and dry water-courses, rendered the passage tedious and difficult. On emerging from the wood, the large Felatah town of Dirkulla was perceivable, and the Arabs were formed in front, headed by Boo-Khaloom: they were flanked on each side by a large body of cavalry; and, as they moved on, shouting the Arab war-cry, which is very inspiring, I thought I could perceive a smile pass between Barca Gana and his chiefs, at Boo-Khaloom’s expense. Dirkulla was quickly burnt, and another smaller town near it; and the few inhabitants that were found in them, who were chiefly infants, and aged persons unable to escape, were put to death without mercy, or thrown into the flames.

We now came to a third town, in a situation capable of being defended against assailants ten times as numerous as the besieged: this town was called Musfeia. It was built on a rising ground between two low hills at the base of others, forming part of the mass of the Mandara mountains: a dry wadey extended along the front; beyond the wadey a swamp; between this and the wood the road was crossed by a deep ravine, which was not passable for more than two or three horses at a time. The Felatahs had carried a very[132] strong fence of palisades, well pointed, and fastened together with thongs of raw hide, six feet in height, from one hill to the other, and had placed their bowmen behind the palisades, and on the rising ground, with the wadey before them; their horse were all under cover of the hills and the town:—this was a strong position. The Arabs, however, moved on with great gallantry, without any support or co-operation from the Bornou or Mandara troops, and notwithstanding the showers of arrows, some poisoned, which were poured on them from behind the palisades, Boo-Khaloom, with his handful of Arabs, carried them in about half an hour, and dashed on, driving the Felatahs up the sides of the hills. The women were every where seen supplying their protectors with fresh arrows during this struggle; and when they retreated to the hills, still shooting on their pursuers, the women assisted by rolling down huge masses of the rock, previously undermined for the purpose, which killed several of the Arabs, and wounded others. Barca Gana, and about one hundred of the Bornou spearmen, now supported Boo-Khaloom, and pierced through and through some fifty unfortunates who were left wounded near the stakes. I rode by his side as he pushed on quite into the town, and a very desperate skirmish took place between Barca Gana’s people and a small body of the Felatahs. These warriors throw the spear with great dexterity; and three times I saw the man transfixed to the earth who was dismounted for the purpose of firing the town, and as often were those who rushed forward for that purpose sacrificed for their temerity, by the Felatahs. Barca Gana, whose muscular arm was almost gigantic, threw eight spears, which all told, some of them at a distance of thirty or thirty-five yards, and one particularly on a Felatah chief, who with his own hand had brought four to the ground.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·“Incidet ictus,
Ingens ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus.”

Had either the Mandara or the sheikh’s troops now moved up boldly, notwithstanding the defence these people made, and the reinforcements which showed themselves to the south-west, they must have carried the town with the heights overlooking it, along which the Arabs were driving the Felatahs by the terror their miserable guns excited; but, instead of this, they still kept on the other side of the wadey, out of reach of the arrows.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

The Felatahs seeing their backwardness, now made an attack in their turn: the arrows fell so thick that there was no standing against them, and the Arabs gave way. The Felatah horse now came on; and had not the little band round Barca Gana, and Boo-Khaloom, with a few of his mounted Arabs, given them a very spirited check, not one of us would probably have lived to see the following day: as it was, Barca Gana had three horses hit under him, two of which died almost immediately, the arrows being poisoned, and poor Boo-Khaloom’s horse and himself received their death-wounds by arrows of the same description. My horse was badly wounded in the neck, just above the shoulder, and in the near hind leg: an arrow had struck me in the face as it passed, merely drawing the blood, and I had two sticking in my bornouse. The Arabs had suffered terribly; most of them had two or three wounds, and one dropped near me with five sticking in his head alone: two of Boo-Khaloom’s slaves were killed also, near his person.

No sooner did the Mandara and Bornou troops see the defeat of the Arabs, than they, one and all, took to flight in the most dastardly manner, without having once been exposed to the arrows of the enemy, and in the utmost confusion. The sultan of Mandara led the way, who was prepared to take advantage of whatever plunder the success of the Arabs might throw in his way, but no less determined to leave the field the moment the fortune of the day appeared to be against them.

[134]I now for the first time, as I saw Barca Gana on a fresh horse, lamented my own folly in so exposing myself, badly prepared as I was for accidents. If either of my horse’s wounds were from poisoned arrows, I felt that nothing could save me: however there was not much time for reflection; we instantly became a flying mass, and plunged, in the greatest disorder, into that wood we had but a few hours before moved through with order, and very different feelings. I had got a little to the westward of Barca Gana, in the confusion which took place on our passing the ravine which had been left just in our rear, and where upwards of one hundred of the Bornowy were speared by the Felatahs, and was following at a round gallop the steps of one of the Mandara eunuchs, who, I observed, kept a good look out, his head being constantly turned over his left shoulder, with a face expressive of the greatest dismay—when the cries behind, of the Felatah horse pursuing, made us both quicken our paces. The spur, however, had the effect of incapacitating my beast altogether, as the arrow, I found afterwards, had reached the shoulder-bone, and in passing over some rough ground, he stumbled and fell. Almost before I was on my legs, the Felatahs were upon me; I had, however, kept hold of the bridle, and seizing a pistol from the holsters, I presented it at two of these ferocious savages, who were pressing me with their spears: they instantly went off; but another who came on me more boldly, just as I was endeavouring to mount, received the contents somewhere in his left shoulder, and again I was enabled to place my foot in the stirrup. Remounted, I again pushed my retreat; I had not, however, proceeded many hundred yards, when my horse again came down, with such violence as to throw me against a tree at a considerable distance; and alarmed at the horses behind him, he quickly got up and escaped, leaving me on foot and unarmed.

The eunuch and his four followers were here butchered, after a very slight resistance, and stripped within a few yards of me: their[135] cries were dreadful; and even now the feelings of that moment are fresh in my memory: my hopes of life were too faint to deserve the name. I was almost instantly surrounded, and incapable of making the least resistance, as I was unarmed—was as speedily stripped, and whilst attempting first to save my shirt and then my trowsers, I was thrown on the ground. My pursuers made several thrusts at me with their spears, that badly wounded my hands in two places, and slightly my body, just under my ribs on the right side: indeed, I saw nothing before me but the same cruel death I had seen unmercifully inflicted on the few who had fallen into the power of those who now had possession of me; and they were alone prevented from murdering me, in the first instance, I am persuaded, by the fear of injuring the value of my clothes, which appeared to them a rich booty—but it was otherwise ordained.

My shirt was now absolutely torn off my back, and I was left perfectly naked. When my plunderers began to quarrel for the spoil, the idea of escape came like lightning across my mind, and without a moment’s hesitation or reflection I crept under the belly of the horse nearest me, and started as fast as my legs could carry me for the thickest part of the wood: two of the Felatahs followed, and I ran on to the eastward, knowing that our stragglers would be in that direction, but still almost as much afraid of friends as foes. My pursuers gained on me, for the prickly underwood not only obstructed my passage, but tore my flesh miserably; and the delight with which I saw a mountain-stream gliding along at the bottom of a deep ravine cannot be imagined. My strength had almost left me, and I seized the young branches issuing from the stump of a large tree which overhung the ravine, for the purpose of letting myself down into the water, as the sides were precipitous, when, under my hand, as the branch yielded to the weight of my body, a large[136] liffa, the worst kind of serpent this country produces, rose from its coil, as if in the very act of striking. I was horror-struck, and deprived for a moment of all recollection—the branch slipped from my hand, and I tumbled headlong into the water beneath; this shock, however, revived me, and with three strokes of my arms I reached the opposite bank, which, with difficulty, I crawled up; and then, for the first time, felt myself safe from my pursuers.

Scarcely had I audibly congratulated myself on my escape, when the forlorn and wretched situation in which I was, without even a rag to cover me, flashed with all its force upon my imagination. I was perfectly collected, though fully alive to all the danger to which my state exposed me, and had already begun to plan my night’s rest, in the top of one of the tamarind-trees, in order to escape the panthers which, as I had seen, abounded in these woods, when the idea of the liffas, almost as numerous, and equally to be dreaded, excited a shudder of despair.

I now saw horsemen through the trees, still farther to the east, and determined on reaching them, if possible, whether friends or enemies; and the feelings of gratitude and joy with which I recognised Barca Gana and Boo-Khaloom, with about six Arabs, although they also were pressed closely by a party of the Felatahs, was beyond description. The guns and pistols of the Arab sheikhs kept the Felatahs in check, and assisted in some measure the retreat of the footmen. I hailed them with all my might; but the noise and confusion which prevailed, from the cries of those who were falling under the Felatah spears, the cheers of the Arabs rallying and their enemies pursuing, would have drowned all attempts to make myself heard, had not Maramy, the sheikh’s negro, seen and known me at a distance. To this man I was indebted for my second escape; riding up to me, he assisted me to mount behind him, while the arrows whistled over our heads, and we then galloped off to the[137] rear as fast as his wounded horse could carry us: after we had gone a mile or two, and the pursuit had something cooled, in consequence of all the baggage having been abandoned to the enemy, Boo-Khaloom rode up to me, and desired one of the Arabs to cover me with a bornouse. This was a most welcome relief, for the burning sun had already begun to blister my neck and back, and gave me the greatest pain. Shortly after, the effects of the poisoned wound in his foot caused our excellent friend to breathe his last: Maramy exclaimed, “Look, look! Boo-Khaloom is dead!” I turned my head, almost as great an exertion as I was capable of, and saw him drop from the horse into the arms of his favourite Arab—he never spoke after. They said he had only swooned; there was no water, however, to revive him; and about an hour after, when we came to Makkeray, he was past the reach of restoratives.

About the time Boo-Khaloom dropped, Barca Gana ordered a slave to bring me a horse, from which he had just dismounted, being the third that had been wounded under him in the course of the day; his wound was in the chest. Maramy cried, “Sidi rais! do not mount him; he will die!” In a moment, for only a moment was given me, I decided on remaining with Maramy. Two Arabs, panting with fatigue, then seized the bridle, mounted, and pressed their retreat: in less than half an hour he fell to rise no more, and both the Arabs were butchered before they could recover themselves. Had we not now arrived at the water as we did, I do not think it possible that I could have supported the thirst by which I was consuming. I tried several times to speak in reply to Maramy’s directions to hold tight, when we came to breaks or inequalities in the ground; but it was impossible; and a painful straining at the stomach and throat was the only effect produced by the effort.

On coming to the stream, the horses, with blood gushing from their nostrils, rushed into the shallow water, and, letting myself down from behind Maramy, I knelt down amongst them, and seemed[138] to imbibe new life by the copious draughts of the muddy beverage which I swallowed. Of what followed I have no recollection: Maramy told me afterwards that I staggered across the stream, which was not above my hips, and fell down at the foot of a tree on the other side. About a quarter of an hour’s halt took place here for the benefit of stragglers, and to tie poor Boo-Khaloom’s body on a horse’s back, at the end of which Maramy awoke me from a deep sleep, and I found my strength wonderfully increased: not so, however, our horse, for he had become stiff, and could scarcely move. As I learnt afterwards, a conversation had taken place about me, while I slept, which rendered my obligations to Maramy still greater: he had reported to Barca Gana the state of his horse, and the impossibility of carrying me on, when the chief, irritated by his losses and defeat, as well as at my having refused his horse, by which means, he said, it had come by its death, replied, “Then leave him behind. By the head of the Prophet! believers enough have breathed their last to-day. What is there extraordinary in a Christian’s death?” “Raas il Nibbe-Salaam Yassarat il le mated el Yeom ash min gieb l’can e mut Nesserani Wahad.” My old antagonist Malem Chadily replied, “No, God has preserved him; let us not forsake him!” Maramy returned to the tree, and said “his heart told him what to do.” He awoke me, assisted me to mount, and we moved on as before, but with tottering steps and less speed. The effect produced on the horses that were wounded by poisoned arrows was extraordinary: immediately after drinking they dropped, and instantly died, the blood gushing from their nose, mouth, and ears. More than thirty horses were lost at this spot from the effects of the poison.

In this way we continued our retreat, and it was after midnight when we halted in the sultan of Mandara’s territory. Riding more than forty-five miles, in such an unprovided state, on the bare back of a lean horse, the powerful consequences may be imagined. I was[139] in a deplorable state the whole night; and notwithstanding the irritation of the flesh wounds was augmented by the woollen covering the Arab had thrown over me, teeming as it was with vermin, it was evening the next day before I could get a shirt, when one man who had two, both of which he had worn eight or ten days at least, gave me one, on a promise of getting a new one at Kouka. Barca Gana, who had no tent but the one he had left behind him with his women at Mora, on our advance, could offer me no shelter; and he was besides so ill, or chagrined, as to remain invisible the whole day. I could scarcely turn from one side to the other, but still, except at intervals when my friend Maramy supplied me with a drink made from parched corn, bruised, and steeped in water, a grateful beverage, I slept under a tree nearly the whole night and day, of the 29th. Towards the evening I was exceedingly disordered and ill, and had a pleasing proof of the kind-heartedness of a Bornouese.

Mai Meegamy, the dethroned sultan of a country to the south-west of Angornou, and now subject to the sheikh, took me by the hand as I had crawled out of my nest for a few minutes, and with many exclamations of sorrow, and a countenance full of commiseration, led me to his leather tent, and, sitting down quickly, disrobed himself of his trowsers, insisting I should put them on. Really, no act of charity could exceed this! I was exceedingly affected at so unexpected a friend, for I had scarcely seen, or spoken three words to him; but not so much so as himself, when I refused to accept of them:—he shed tears in abundance; and thinking, which was the fact, that I conceived he had offered the only ones he had, immediately called a slave, whom he stripped of those necessary appendages to a man’s dress, according to our ideas, and putting them on himself, insisted again on my taking those he had first offered me. I accepted this offer, and thanked him with a full heart; and Meegamy was my great friend from that moment until I quitted the sheikh’s dominions.

[140]We found that forty-five of the Arabs were killed, and nearly all wounded; their camels, and every thing they possessed, lost. Some of them had been unable to keep up on the retreat, but had huddled together in threes and fours during the night, and by showing resistance, and pointing their guns, had driven the Felatahs off. Their wounds were some of them exceedingly severe, and several died during the day and night of the 29th; their bodies, as well as poor Boo-Khaloom’s, becoming instantly swollen and black; and sometimes, immediately after death, blood issuing from the nose and mouth, which the Bornou people declared to be in consequence of the arrows having been poisoned. The surviving Arabs, who had now lost all their former arrogance and boasting, humbly entreated Barca Gana to supply them with a little corn to save them from starving. The sultan of Mandara behaved to them unkindly, though not worse than they deserved, refused all manner of supplies, and kept Boo-Khaloom’s saddle, horse-trappings, and the clothes in which he died. He also began making preparations for defending himself against the Felatahs, who, he feared, might pay him a visit; and on the morning of the 30th April we left Mora, heartily wishing them success, should they make the attempt.

Boo-Khaloom’s imprudence in having suffered himself to be persuaded to attack the Felatahs became now apparent, as although, in case of his overcoming them, he might have appropriated to himself all the slaves, both male and female, that he found amongst them; yet the Felatahs themselves were Moslem, and he could not have made them slaves. He was, however, most likely deceived by promises of a Kerdy country to plunder, in the event of his success against these powerful people, alike the dreaded enemies of the sheikh and the sultan of Mandara.

My wounded horse, which had been caught towards the evening of the fight by the Shouaas, and brought to me, was in too bad a state for me to mount, and Barca Gana procured me another. My[141] pistols had been stolen from the holsters; but, fortunately, my saddle and bridle, though broken, remained. Thus ended our most unsuccessful expedition; it had, however, injustice and oppression for its basis, and who can regret its failure?

We returned with great expedition, considering the wretched state we were in. On the sixth day after our departure from Mora, we arrived in Kouka, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles: the wounded Arabs remained behind, being unable to keep up with the chief, and did not arrive until four days after us. I suffered much, both in mind and body, but complained not; indeed all complaint would have been ill-timed, where few were enduring less than myself. My black servant had lost mule, canteens, and every thing, principally from keeping too near me in the action; and, by his obeying implicitly the strict orders I had given him not to fire on the Felatahs, he had narrowly escaped with his life. Bruised and lame, he could render me no assistance, and usually came in some hours after we had halted on our resting-ground. In the mid-day halts I usually crept under Mai Meegamy’s tent; but at night I laid me down on the ground, close to that of Barca Gana, in order that my horse might get a feed of corn. I always fell into a sound sleep at night, as soon as I lay down, after drinking Maramy’s beverage, who had supplied me with a little bag of parched corn, which he had procured at Mora; and about midnight a slave of the chief, whose name was, most singularly like my own, Denhamah, always awoke me, to eat some gussub, paste, and fat, mixed with a green herb called meloheia in Arabic. This was thrust out from under Barca Gana’s tent, and consisted generally of his leavings: pride was sometimes nearly choking me, but hunger was the paramount feeling: I smothered the former, ate, and was thankful. It was in reality a great kindness; for besides myself and the chief, not one, I believe, in the remnant of our army, tasted any thing but engagy, parched[142] corn and cold water, during the whole six days of our march. On the night of the 4th of May we arrived at Angornou.

The extreme kindness of the sheikh, however, was some consolation to me, after all my sufferings. He said, in a letter to Barca Gana, “that he should have grieved had any thing serious happened to me; that my escape was providential, and a proof of God’s protection; and that my head was saved for good purposes.” He also sent me some linen he had procured from our huts at Kouka, and a dress of the country; and the interest taken by their governor in the fate of such a kaffir, as they thought me, increased exceedingly the respect of his servants towards me. The next morning we arrived at the capital.

I presented Barca Gana with a brace of French ornamented pistols, and with pink taffeta sufficient for a tobe, which he received with great delight. The sheikh sent me a horse in lieu of the wounded one which I had left at Merty, with but small hopes of his recovery; and my bruises and wounds, which were at first but trifling, got well so surprisingly quick, from the extreme low diet I had from necessity been kept to, that I was not in so bad a condition as might have been expected. My losses, however, were severe; my trunk with nearly all my linen, my canteens, a mule, my azimuth compass, my drawing-case, with a sketch of the hills, were also lost, although I obtained another sketch the morning of our quitting Mora. Such events, however, must sometimes be the consequence of exploring countries like these. The places I had visited were full of interest, and could never have been seen, except by means of a military expedition, without still greater risk. The dominions of the sheikh, in consequence of his being so extraordinarily enlightened for an inhabitant of central Africa, appear to be open to us; but on looking around, when one sees dethroned sultans nearly as common as bankrupts in England; where the strong arm for the[143] time being has hitherto changed the destiny of kings and kingdoms; no discoveries can be accomplished beyond this, without the greatest hazard both of life and property.

The sheikh laid all the blame of the defeat upon the Mandara troops, and assured me that I should see how his people fought when he was with them, in an expedition which he contemplated against Munga, a country to the west. I told him that I was quite ready to accompany him; and this assurance seemed to give him particular satisfaction.

Of the Mandara chain, and its surrounding and incumbent hills, though full of interest, I regret my inability to give a more perfect account. Such few observations, however, as struck me on my visiting them, I shall lay before the reader. It is on occasions like this, that a traveller laments the want of extensive scientific knowledge. I must therefore request those under whose eye these remarks may come to regard them in the light they are offered, not as pretensions to knowledge, but merely very humble endeavours at communicating information to the best of my ability.

The elevation gradually increases in advancing towards the equator; and the soil, on approaching Delow, where the northernmost point of the Mandara chain commences, is covered with a glittering micaceous sand, principally decomposed granite, which forms a productive earth. The hills extend in apparently interminable ridges east-south-east, south-west, and west; while to the south several masses or systems of hills, if I may so express myself, spread themselves out in almost every picturesque form and direction that can be imagined. Those nearest the eye apparently do not exceed 2500 feet in height; but the towering peaks which appear in the distance are several thousand feet higher. They are composed of enormous blocks of granite, both detached and reclining on each other, presenting the most rugged faces and sides. The interstices and fissures appeared to be filled with a yellow quartzose earth, in[144] which were growing mosses and lichens: trees of considerable size also grow from between them. On almost all the hills that I approached, clusters of huts were seen in several places towards the centre, and sometimes quite at the summit; generally on the flats of the ridges. At the base of these mountains, and also at a considerable elevation on their sides, are incumbent masses of what appeared to be the decomposed fragments of primitive rocks recompounded, and united anew by a species of natural cement. At some distance from the base of those which I ascended from the valley of Mora, were collections of quartzose rocks, of great variety and colour; fragments of hornblende, and several large abutments of porphyroidal rocks. About one hundred yards above the spring which I have before mentioned, in a space between two projecting masses of rock, were numerous shells, some petrified and finely preserved, while others were perforated by insects, worm-eaten, and destroyed: they were confusedly mixed with fragments of granite, quartz, sand and clay; and in some cases adhered to pieces of the composition rocks: the greater part were of the oyster kind. Various specimens of these, with pieces of every variety of the structure of the hills, I had collected, but they were all lost in the general confusion of the battle; and on the return of the army I was unable to do more than procure a few specimens of the northernmost part of the mountains; and the half of these were lost by my negro.

Of the extent of this chain, or rather these groups of mountains, I can form no idea, except from the information of the Mandara people. I have met with a man who (by the way) wanted to persuade me that he was a son of Hornemann by his slave, although, from his appearance, he must have been born ten years before that unfortunate traveller entered this country. He said he had been twenty days south of Mandara, to a country called Adamowa, which he described as being situated in the centre of a plain surrounded[145] by mountains ten times higher than any we could see; that he went first to Mona or Monana, which was five days, and then to Bogo, which was seven more; and here, for one Soudan tobe, the sultan gave him four slaves. After eight days’ travelling from this latter country, he arrived at Adamowa. These people, he says (that is, the Kerdies on the hills; for Adamowa itself is occupied by Felatahs), eat the flesh of horses, mules, and asses, or of any wild animal that they kill: nobody but the sultans and their children are clothed; all the rest of the nation go naked; the men sometimes wear a skin round the loins, but the women nothing. This man, who was called Kaid-Moussa-ben-Yusuf (Hornemann’s name), spoke to me of several extensive lakes which he had seen in this journey, and also described with great clearness a river running between two very high ridges of the mountains, which he crossed previous to arriving at Adamowa. This river he declared to run from the west, and to be the same as the Quolla or Quana at Nyffe, Kora, and at Raka, but not the same as the river at Kano, which had nothing to do with the Shary, and which ran into the Tchad; but the main body of the water ran on to the south of Begharmi, was then called the D’Ago, and went eastward to the Nile. Kaid-Moussa was a very intelligent fellow, had visited Nyffe, Raka, Waday, and Darfur; by which latter place also, he said this river passed. He was most particularly clear in all his accounts, and his statement agreed in some points with the information a Shouaa named Dreess-boo-Raas-ben-aboo-Deleel had given me; therefore I was the more inclined to pay attention to it. To the south of this river, the population is entirely Kerdy, until the Great Desert. This desert is passed several times in the year by kafilas with white people, not Christians, who bring goods from the great sea: some of these reach Adamowa. He himself saw white loaf sugar, such as the merchants brought here from Tripoli to the sheikh, and a gun or two, with metal pots and pans, and arrack (rum). The inhabitants[146] were unanimous in declaring these mountains to extend southward for two months’ journey; and in describing them, Yusuf called them “kou kora, kora, kantaga,”—mountains large, large, moon mountains. And from the increased love of enterprise apparent in our rising generation, we may one day hope to be as well acquainted with the true character of these stupendous mountains as with the lofty peaks of the Andes.

The extreme southern peak which I could discern was that called Mendify, which rose into the air with singular boldness. It was said to be a distance from Musfeia of two long days’ journey,—say thirty-five miles. At that distance, it had all the character of an alpine peak, of a most patriarchal height. I could perceive with a glass other mountains extending from its sides, the forms of which bore a tranquil character, compared with the arid and steep peaks which overlooked them. It resembled very much in appearance “Les Arguilles,” as they appear looking at them from the Mer-de-Glace. The following outline may serve to show their shape and character.


Iron is found in abundance in all the Mandara hills; but no other metal, that I was informed of. All the houses or huts at Mandara have outer doors to the court, which are made of pieces of wood, hasped together with iron. They make hinges, small bars, and a sort of hoe used to weed the corn, and send them for sale to the Bornou towns. The iron they use is mostly brought from the west near Karowa. I went to the house of a blacksmith, for the[147] purpose of seeing some of the metal in its natural state, and found four men with a very rude forge, formed by a hole in the sand: the bellows were two kid skins, with an iron tube fixed in each, which tubes were conveyed underneath the fire. The wind was produced by a man blowing these skins, which were open at the top to let in the air. Their hammers were two pieces of iron, weighing about two pounds each, and a coarse piece of the same metal for an anvil; and considering their implements, they worked with some tact. I regretted much that I had not an English hammer to give them. Large masses of the iron, as nature produces it, were lying about; and they appeared to me as so many rusty earthy masses.

In appearance, the people of Mandara differ from the Bornouese, or Kanoury (as they call themselves); and the difference is all in favour of the former. The men are intelligent and lively, with high though flat foreheads, large sparkling eyes, wiry curled hair, noses inclining to the aquiline, and features altogether less flattened than the Bornouese. The women are proverbial for their good looks,—I cannot say beauty. I must allow them, however, all their acknowledged celebrity of form: they are certainly singularly gifted with the Hottentot protuberance; their hands and feet are delightfully small; and as these are all esteemed qualifications in the eye of a Turk, Mandara slaves will always obtain an advanced price. Certainly I never saw so much of them as when sporting in their native wilds, with not so much covering on as one of Eve’s fig-leaves. A man who took me to be a Moorish merchant led me to his house, in order to show me the best looking slaves in Mandara. He had three, all under sixteen, yet quite women; for these are precocious climes; and certainly, for negresses, they were the most pleasing and perfectly formed I had ever seen. They had simply a piece of blue striped linen round their loins, yet they knew not their nakedness. Many of these beauties are to be seen at Kouka and Angornou: they are never, however, exposed in the fsug, but sold in the houses of[148] the merchants. So much depends on the magnitude of those attractions for which their southern sisters are so celebrated, that I have known a man about to make a purchase of one out of three, regardless of the charms of feature, turn their faces from him, and looking at them behind, just above the hips, as we dress a line of soldiers, make choice of her whose person most projected beyond that of her companions.

The day before the Rhamadan, which commenced on the 13th instant (May), I had an interview with the sheikh, who mentioned his intended departure for Munga; and after some conversation, it was agreed that I should proceed to Old Bornou or Birnie; and after seeing that part of the country, the ruins of the town of Gambarou, and the river of that name, which is said to come from Soudan; that I should follow its course, and join him at a place called Kabshary on the same river, to which he was about to proceed by a different route. The whole population was in confusion at the departure of this ghrazzie, and nearly all the people of Kouka, with the exception of the kadi, were to accompany the sheikh. Previously, however, to his departure, he had determined on sending off a courier to Tripoli, with an account of Boo Khaloom’s death, and we availed ourselves of the opportunity by writing to England. On the 17th of May the courier departed; and on the 18th the sheikh began his march, and bivouacked at Dowergoo.



[23]Silsel: irons placed round the necks of refractory slaves.

[24]The band also sang some extempore verses on my joining them, of which the following is nearly a literal translation, and delighted their chief excessively.

Christian man he come,
Friend of us and sheikhobe;
White man, when he hear my song,
Fine new tobe give me.
Christian man all white,
And dollars white have he;
Kanourie like him come,
Black man’s friend to be.
See Felatah, how he run;
Barca Gana shake his spear:
White man carry two-mouthed gun,
That’s what make Felatah fear.

[25]A general term for unbelievers.

[26]Abdul Kassum-ben-Maliki came from this town, and speaks of his people as having great influence with the sultan of Timbuctoo: their language is alike; and he conversed as freely with a Felatah slave from Musfeia, as if she had been his countrywoman, although they were born probably fifteen hundred miles distant from each other.

[27]A deputation of twenty-seven from Musfeia and Zouay had but a short time before arrived at Mora, for the purpose of arranging some detention of property belonging to them, which had been seized by the Mandara people. They were admitted to a parley; but had no sooner quitted the presence of the sultan, than the throats of all of them were instantly cut by the eunuchs and their slaves.


May 21.—Ever since my return from Mandara, an expedition, to be commanded by the sheikh in person, had been in agitation against a numerous people to the west called Munga. These people had never thoroughly acknowledged the sheikh’s supremacy, and the collecting of their tribute had always been attended with difficulty and bloodshed. They had, however, now thrown off all restraint, and put to death about one hundred and twenty of the sheikh’s Shouaas, and declared they would be no longer under his control, as the sultan of Bornou was their king; and headed by a fighi of great power, had begun to plunder and burn all the sheikh’s towns near them. It was reported, and with some truth, that they could bring 12,000 bowmen into the field; by far the most efficient force to be found in the black country. To oppose these, the sheikh assembled his Kanemboo spearmen (who had accompanied him from their own country, and assisted him in wresting Bornou from the hands of the Felatahs), to the amount of between eight and nine thousand. These, with about five thousand Shouaas and Bornou men, composed the force with which he meant to subdue these rebels. Another complaint against the Mungowy was, “That they were kaffering[28], and not saying their prayers! the dogs.” This is, however, a fault which is generally laid to the charge of any nation against whom a true Musselman wages war, as it gives him the power of making them slaves. By the laws of Mohammed, one believer must not bind another.

Rhamadan, the period generally chosen for these expeditions,[150] had commenced, since the 13th May; and on the 8th, meaning to take the town of Yeou, with the many others on the banks of the river of that name in his way, both for the purpose of collecting forces and tribute[29], the sheikh left Kouka for Dowergoo, a lake about six miles distant, his women, tents, &c. having preceded him in the morning.

Dr. Oudney and myself accompanied him outside the gates; and at our request, he left Omar Gana, one of his chief slaves, to be our guide to the old city of Bornou, which we were anxious to see; and from whence we were to proceed to Kabshary, still farther to the west, on the Gambarou, or Yeou, and there await his arrival.

May 22.—We left Kouka with five camels and four servants for Birnie, halting in the middle of the day, and making two marches, of from ten to fourteen miles, morning and evening. The country all round Kouka is uninteresting and flat, the soil alluvial, and not a stone of any kind to be seen, but thickly scattered with trees, mostly acacias. We sometimes came to a few huts, and a well or two of indifferent water; and a mess of rice from our stores was our usual supper.

On the 24th, about noon, we arrived at the river Yeou, and halted at a rather large nest of huts called Lada. We were now seventy miles from Kouka. The river here makes a bend resembling the letter S, the water extremely shallow, and a dry path over the bed of the river appeared close to our halting-place, although the banks were high, and capable of containing a very large stream. I walked out, following the easterly course of the stream in search of game; but within four hundred yards of the banks, the ground was so choked with high grass and prickly underwood, that I was obliged to take a path more inland, where a[151] partial clearance had been made for the sake of some scanty cotton plantations. Pursuing some Guinea fowl across one of these, I was assailed by the cries of several women and children, who having thrown down their water-jugs, were flying from me in the greatest alarm. I however went on, but had not proceeded above a quarter of a mile, when my negro pointed out several men peeping from behind some thick bushes, and evidently watching our motions. I desired him to be on his guard, as he carried a carbine loaded with slugs; and we called repeatedly to them without any effect. They had been alarmed by the women, who had represented us to be Tuaricks, of whom they are constantly in dread, as their country is not more than seven days distant from where these marauders are often seen; and the extreme points of the Bornou dominions they visit without fear. The inhabitants of these wilds cannot be induced to quit their present homes; and they patiently submit to have their flocks and children taken from them, and their huts burnt, rather than seek a more secure residence in the larger towns. They have, however, a manner of defending themselves against these cruel invaders, which often enables them to gratify their revenge: the ground is covered by the high grass and jungle close to the banks of the rivers, and they dig very deep circular holes, at the bottom of which are placed six or eight sharp stakes, hardened by the fire, over the top of which they most artfully lay the grass, so as to render it impossible to discover the deception. An animal with its rider stepping on one of these traps is quickly precipitated to the bottom, and not unfrequently both are killed on the spot.

In returning to the tents with the people whom I had alarmed, and who cautioned me not to proceed farther in that direction, I quite trembled at the recollection of the various escapes I had had, as some of these blaqua, as they are called, were not a yard distant from the marks of my former footsteps.

The country near the banks of the river to the west is ornamented[152] by many very large tamarind and other trees, bearing a fruit resembling a medlar, green and pleasant to the taste, and many of the Mimosa tribe flourished in uncontrolled luxuriance. The Googooroo, or Jujube, abounded; and these varieties of green gave a life to the landscape that was quite new to us. The wild fruits even were palatable; and selecting those on which the monkeys were feeding, we devoured them fearlessly and eagerly,—their freshness supplying the want of either flavour or sweetness. The monkeys, or as the Arabs say, “men enchanted,”—“Ben Adam meshood,” were so numerous, that I saw upwards of one hundred and fifty assembled in one place in the evening. They did not at all appear inclined to give up their ground, but, perched on the top of the bank some twenty feet high, made a terrible noise; and rather gently than otherwise, pelted us when we approached to within a certain distance. My negro was extremely anxious to fire at them; but they were not, I thought, considering their numbers, sufficiently presuming to deserve such a punishment.

May 25.—About two miles from Lada, we left the river, and halted at noon near a small still water. Here were several flocks of geese, and some of the species of bird called adjutant. These mid-day halts, with only partial shade, were dreadfully sultry and oppressive. We moved on in the afternoon, and passing another lake of the same description, by nine in the evening came to one much larger, called Engataranaram. Nothing could be more wild than the country we had passed through this day; and compared with the sterile plains I had lately been accustomed to, seemed rich and picturesque: it was one continued wood, with narrow winding paths, to avoid the overhanging branches of the prickly tulloh. The frequent foot-marks of lions, the jackal, and hyena, gave us a pretty good idea of the nature of the inhabitants; and their roarings at night convinced us that they were at no great distance.

We had this morning met a kafila from Soudan, consisting of[153] about twenty persons, and bringing one hundred and twenty slaves; and some hours after we saw the place where they had passed the preceding night. They had lit their fires in the very centre of the path, and made a good fence all round them of large branches of trees and dry wood. This fence is sometimes set fire to, when their four-footed visitors are numerous, and approach too near. Camels and animals of every description are placed in the centre, and should one stray in the night, he is seldom again recovered. Kafilas never travel after dusk, particularly those on foot; and our negroes had such a fright during the latter part of this day’s march, that they declared on coming up with the camels, that their lives were in danger from such late marches, an immense lion having crossed the road before them only a few miles from where we halted. There can be little doubt, that by their singing and number they had disturbed the lion from his lair, as we must have passed within ten paces of the foot of the tree from which he broke forth on their approach: they said that he had stopped, and looked back at them, and if they had not had presence of mind sufficient to pass on without at all noticing him, or appearing alarmed, some one of the party would have suffered.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Previous to pitching our tents at night, the sheikh’s negro examined the ground, and, after dismounting and listening attentively for an instant, he declared some people to be near. We fired a gun, which, after a little time, was answered by a shout, and at no great distance we found about half a dozen Kabsharians, who said they were on their way to Kouka, and near them we fixed ourselves for the night. In these woods kafilas from Soudan are often robbed, and the runaway negroes, who are good bowmen, pick off the leaders from behind the trees, and then plunder the baggage: ten men from one kafila had, we were informed, been so murdered during the last year.

[154]May 26.—We pursued a westerly course for eight miles to a lake called Gumzaigee, about a mile in length, between which and another called Gumzaigee-gana, the road lies; seven miles beyond which is still another lake of considerable extent, called Muggaby, or the lake of the sultan of Bornou: this is nearly three miles long, and full half a mile broad; its banks are beautifully green, and its depth is very great; it contains hippopotami in great numbers, and every now and then their black heads appeared above the surface of the water.

A few straggling parties of Kanemboo infantry had occasionally crossed our path, for several days, on their way to join the sheikh, but here we found about a hundred and fifty Shouaas, or Arabs of Beni Wah’l. After our tents were pitched, and we had refreshed ourselves by a mess of ducks and rice, we determined on riding to visit the remains of Old Birnie[30], which extended nearly to this lake. We proceeded by the high road to Soudan, and after about two miles came to the spot on which once stood the capital of Bornou, and the ruins of the city certainly tended more strongly to convince us of the power of its former sultans than any of the tales we had heard of their magnificence: we had seen upwards of thirty large towns which the Felatahs had completely razed to the ground at the time they destroyed the capital, and we were now arrived at the ruins of that capital itself[31]. Old Birnie covered a space of five or six square miles, and is said to have had a population of two hundred thousand souls: the remains of the walls were in many places still standing, in large masses of hard red brick-work, and were from three to four feet in thickness, and sixteen to eighteen[155] feet in height. From the top of one of these we obtained a sight of the river Gambarou, running nearly east, notwithstanding its windings, and only a few miles distant. At sunset we returned to our huts.

Crossing the head of the lake Muggaby, we took a north-westerly direction, for the purpose of seeing the remaining ruins of this once populous district, and particularly those of a favourite residence of the former sultan, called Gambarou, situated on the banks of the river, four miles distant, which comes from Soudan: this district gave its name to the waters during their passage through it. After wading through low grounds, occasionally overflowed, where the wild grass was above our horses’ heads, and disturbing a herd of fourteen elephants, whose retired haunts were seldom so broken in upon, we came to the river, which is here a very noble stream, nearly a quarter of a mile in breadth, and situated between two high banks thickly overgrown with jungle, bushes, and bamboo[32]: we endeavoured to ascertain if there was any current, but the water appeared perfectly stationary. Omar Gana, however, and the Shouaas who had accompanied us, were unanimous in declaring that after the rains a very strong current from west to east constantly flowed.

We determined on remaining here the next day, and ordered the tents to be pitched under the shade of an immense tamarind tree, about two hundred and fifty yards from the bank of the river. The water was sweet and palatable, and very gratifying to us after the lake water we had been drinking for the last few days, though that was nectar in comparison with the well-water near Kouka. The shoals of fish that rushed quite close to, and sometimes on, the shore, exceeded any thing I ever could have supposed, both as to size and numbers: we waded, nearly up to our knees, to a little[156] island or sand-bank about ten yards from the land, and found the marks of two good-sized crocodiles quite fresh.

Close to the bank, and just at the hollow of a slight curve in the river’s course, fourteen years ago stood the town of Gambarou, the chosen place of residence of the late and former sultans of Bornou; and the ruins now standing give a proof of the buildings having been, for this country, of a princely kind: the walls of a mosque, which were more than twenty yards square, are still visible, and those of the sultan’s house, with gates opening to the river, still remain; a private mosque appears also to have been attached to the sultan’s residence: the buildings were all of brick, and must have had a superior appearance to any town we had seen in Africa: the situation was beautiful, and although labyrinths of thickets and brambles now overspread the banks of the river, while wild plants and useless grass were in the meadows, yet I was assured that the whole neighbourhood of Gambarou was once in a superior state of cultivation; and that in the old sultan’s time, boats were constantly moving to and from Kabshary and other towns to the west. Kouka was at that time not in being, and Angornou but a small parcel of huts.

May 28.—Dr. Oudney and myself mounted our horses this morning, and followed the course of the river to the eastward, nearly three miles: there being no pathway, we were obliged to break through the high grass, trees, and thickly scattered bamboo, which made it a fatiguing excursion, and after all, we could only now and then get a sight of the water by following the track of the elephants and other animals, whose ponderous bodies beat down every thing before them. Our negro, Omar Gana, was alarmed, and would willingly have turned back more than once; we, however, urged him on, and at length came to an open, dry shoal of sand, the bed of the river extending more than two hundred yards; here was the fresh impression of the[157] foot of a very large lion, and we found that the stream was here again called the Yeou. To Omar Gana’s great satisfaction, we now returned by a more direct path through the wood to our tents: these wilds, from their not leading to any high road or inhabited spot, are perhaps never visited, the whole country having been abandoned ever since the Felatahs commenced their inroads. Wild animals of all descriptions here abound therefore in greater numbers than in any other part of the kingdom of Bornou: several parcels of wood tied up with oziers, and large trees stripped of their bark and afterwards deserted, showed how the wood-cutter had been disturbed at his work by the ferocious inhabitants; and some whitened bones, and the remains of a hatchet in one place, made us shudder and conclude, that some one still less fortunate had here met a miserable death. Straggling bands of Tuaricks also sometimes scour the country about the banks of the river, and carry off whatever suits their purpose.

On our return to the tents, we found that our situation was by no means so comfortable as we could have wished. Kabshary, to which place we intended proceeding, and there awaiting the arrival of the sheikh, had been attacked and partly burnt by the Munga people since our leaving Kouka, and deserted by the inhabitants; and while we were debating on what steps we should take in consequence of this intelligence, two Kanemboo spearmen came to us in great consternation, with news that the Munga horse had been reconnoitring all around us, had even visited the part of the river we had been exploring in the morning, and after murdering several Kanemboos, who were proceeding to join the sheikh, had carried off the bullocks and whatever they had with them. The sheikh’s delay in coming up had made them bold, and their approach had caused all the Shouaas we had left at Muggaby to beat a retreat; we were therefore left quite alone, and, as it seemed, might expect every minute to be surrounded, taken prisoners, and with an iron round our necks,[158] with which slaves are coupled like greyhounds in slips, marched off to Munga. Omar Gana was greatly alarmed, and dressing himself in his steel jacket, with red giboon (waistcoat) over it, and black turban, calmed our fears but little, by leaving us for a full hour to see if the Shouaas had really left Muggaby; notwithstanding he at the same time assured us, that the sight of his red jacket would frighten a hundred Mungowy. On his return, which we looked for with much anxiety, we found the alarming reports in part confirmed; no Shouaas were near the lake, and he was quite sure the enemy had been there. He proposed going to Kabshary, along the banks of the river to the west; but acknowledged that the sheikh was not there, and that the people had moved off towards Angornou: we considered this bad advice, and determined on returning at least to the Kouka road; that was, however, no easy task; and after some consideration it was determined that we were to keep close to the bank of the river, and creep through the woods as well as we could, avoiding all beaten paths. We moved at three in the afternoon, and crossed about two miles distant to the north bank of the river, our road being extremely intricate, and overgrown with trees and underwood.

Just before sunset we came upon a herd of elephants, fourteen or fifteen in number; these the negroes made to dance and frisk like so many goats, by beating violently a brass basin with a stick; and as night now began to cast over us its gloomy veil, we determined on fixing ourselves until morning in a small open space, where a large tree, destroyed by the attacks of the white ant, had fallen, and afforded us fire-wood to prepare our supper: to seek it at any distance would have been dangerous at that time in the evening, on account of the lions, and the little grass which was gathered for our horses was furnished by the space within sight of our tents. Our animals were brought as close to us as possible, and we kept up[159] fires the greater part of the night; a few roaring salutations, and those principally from the elephant and jackal, were the only disturbance that we met with.

We proceeded on our course on the following day, winding with the river; in several places we had the bank clear of trees and covered with verdure for some hundreds of yards, and the stream nearly as broad as the Thames at Richmond. Towards noon the wood became much thicker, no pathway was to be discovered, and our guide declared, that where we were he had not the least idea. A little further on, we came to a complete stoppage; brambles were wound round the before thickly-clustered branches of tulloh and prickly acacias; and on removing, with great difficulty, some of those, we found the treacherous grass underneath merely covering blaquas, large, deep, and well staked, capable of receiving and destroying a Tuarick with his maherhy. In endeavouring to find a passage at a short distance, Dr. Oudney was very nearly precipitated, horse and all, into one of these graves for the quick. We were absolutely afraid to move; and Omar Gana, who declared these fortifications indicated our being near to some town, which was thus prepared against the Mungowy, desired me to fire a gun, in order to bring some of the inhabitants to serve as our guide: accordingly two sturdy negroes came to our assistance, who, after eying us through the trees and ascertaining who we were, conducted us to the village, which, although at no great distance, would have foiled all our efforts to discover: the avenues were completely barricadoed on every side, the paths cut up, and these blaquas so scattered in all directions, that even with a guide, and going one by one, it was with the greatest difficulty we avoided them.

Arrived at the village, which was called Wallad, of so miserable a description that it could not even furnish a jar of milk, notwithstanding we produced both needles and beads,—a new difficulty arose;[160] for although the camels were sought after and brought in safe by the people, yet my servant Columbus, who was behind on a mule, did not make his appearance: we were in considerable anxiety, both on account of the wild beasts and these pits, which were almost equally frightful. Our alarm was a good deal increased when, after having sent people in every direction, giving them pistols, and desiring them to fire signals, and not return without him, the people of the village came running to the jujube tree under which we were resting, to tell us that Columbus and the mule had fallen into one of these blaquas, and that they believed the mule was dead. We hastened to the spot, and found the poor mule indeed very near it: she was sticking on four stakes, one in her flank, and two in her hind quarter, with her knees dreadfully torn by struggling. Had she been a larger and heavier animal, nothing could have saved her: the man had, by a violent exertion, thrown himself out, how he knew not, almost as soon as he fell in, and had escaped with his leg only bruised. He said he had lost his way hours before, and had climbed to the top of several tamarind-trees, in order to discover traces of our route, without success: once he thought he heard a gun, but having only two charges of powder with him, he kept them as a defence against the wild animals at night, and was afraid to answer the signal.

After all our difficulties, it was some comfort at length to find that the sheikh was within only a few hours’ march of us, on the south side of the river; and in the evening we determined on joining him. Again, therefore, crossing the Yeou at a dry spot, we came to the outskirts of the Bornou camp, on the banks of a large water called Dummasak, about five miles distant from the ford: at the river we again saw the footmarks of a very large lion, and also those of a hippopotamus. It was after sunset when we arrived, and passing through numerous groups of the Kanemboo spearmen, who were lying about without any tents or covering, we came to the open[161] space where the sheikh’s tent and the huts of his principal people were fixed. On learning that we had arrived, he desired our tents might be placed near Mady Gana, the manager of his household, who brought us his congratulations, and at the same time a very good supper of Guinea fowl, and a kind of paste, made of wheat flour, called ftat, which is considered a great delicacy. Our joy can with difficulty be imagined at learning here the arrival of a package from England, by a kafila of merchants from Fezzan. The pleasure of hearing of our country and friends, the greatest enjoyment our situation allowed us, we had been for a length of time deprived of; and this, added to our being entirely destitute of provisions of every kind, determined us to return to Kouka on the following morning. This our decision we desired might be made known to the sheikh, but, from some cause or other, the information was not communicated to him; and, to our great surprise, by daylight he moved off, and we found ourselves again alone without a guide, and without even knowing what the sheikh’s wishes were with respect to our proceedings. This was a fresh dilemma; and upon the whole we were worse off than the day before, for the sheikh’s negro was always a protection, and we were now at the tail of an undisciplined army, at least demi-savage, without any knowledge of the road. After three hours’ deliberation, and no intelligence arriving from the sheikh, we decided on making our way to Kouka alone; and having picked up a straggler, who assured us he knew the country, and left our wounded mule in the care of some people in the neighbouring village of huts, we loaded our fire-arms afresh, and commenced our route. We had proceeded, however, but a few hundred yards on our road, when Omar Gana, mounted on a miserable horse and in great distress, came up to us, entreating that we would follow the sheikh as quickly as possible; that on inquiring of him where we were, and finding that he had quitted us, he, the[162] sheikh, had been in a violent passion; had struck him from his horse, which he desired might be taken from him; had directed him to return and bring us up to the army without delay.

We had now nothing to do but to obey; and, therefore, turning round our camels, after a four hours’ march in the heat of the day, we arrived a second time at the lake Muggaby, which we had left only three days before. Some spots on the road were extremely picturesque, by nature; and this beauty of the scene was increased by the groups of naked warriors, with their shields, resting in different places on the borders of the lake; while hundreds of others were in the water, spearing the fish, which they struck, and brought to shore with very surprising dexterity: some of the fish were as large as good-sized salmon, but shaped like a bream. Fires were lighted by their companions on the shore, and rows of from fifty to one hundred were staked, or strung on a line made of grass, extended from two sticks, and most excellently and expeditiously roasted.

Muggaby, with its still dark-blue surface, had, at the time we came on it, an appearance highly interesting: the margin, and the shallow waters, were crowded with horses feeding, and men bathing. In the centre, the hippopotami were constantly throwing up their black muzzles, spouting with water; and the wood, which at the south-west end had caught fire, and blazed to the very clouds, gave a glare to all around which made the scene almost terrific.

We now commenced our march with the Bornou army, in which but little order is preserved previous to coming near the enemy: every one appears to know, that at a certain point the assembly is to take place; and the general instructions seem to be to every one to make the best of his own way. The sheikh takes the lead, and close after him comes the sultan of Bornou, who always attends him on these occasions, although he never fights. The former is preceded by five flags, two green, two striped, and one red, with extracts from[163] the Koran written on them in letters of gold, and attended by about a hundred of his chiefs and favourite slaves. A negro, high in confidence, rides close behind him, bearing his shield jacket of mail, and wearing his skull-cap of steel; he also bears his arms. Another, mounted on a swift maherhy, and fantastically dressed with a straw hat and ostrich feathers, carries his timbrel or drum, which it is the greatest misfortune and disgrace to lose in action. On the expedition which cost the sultan Denhamah, the late sultan of Bornou, his life, the timbrel and the sheikh were supposed to have fallen in a sudden rush of Begharmis; almost every one near him suffered. The people, however, firmly believe that he was saved by a miracle; they say, “he became invisible; that the Begharmi chiefs scoured the field, calling out for the sheikh; that his drum sounded at intervals, but could not be seen, any more than their leader.” Close in the rear of the maherhies follow the eunuchs and the harem; the sheikh takes but three wives, who are mounted, astride, on small trained horses, each led by a boy-slave, or eunuch,—their heads and figures completely enveloped in brown silk bornouses, and a eunuch riding by the side of each.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

The sultan of Bornou has five times as many attendants, and his harem is three times as numerous: he is attended, also, by men bearing trumpets (frumfrum), of hollow wood, ten and twelve feet long; with these a kind of music is constantly kept up. As this instrument is considered an appendage of royalty alone, the sheikh has no frumfrums; the keigomha, or standard-bearer, rides in front of him, carrying a very long pole, hung round, at the top, with strips of leather and silk of various colours, in imitation, probably, of the bashaw’s tigue, or tails; and two ride on each side of him called Meestrumha Dundelmah, carrying immense spears, with which they are supposed to defend their sultan in action, whose dignity would be infringed upon by defending himself; but the spears are so hung round with charms, and the bearers so abominably[164] unwieldy, that the idea of such weapons being of any use in the hands of such warriors is absurd. Indeed the grotesque appearance of the whole of this prince’s train, with heads hung round with charms, and resembling the size and shape of a hogshead; their protruding stomachs, and wadded doublets, are ridiculous in the extreme.

The town of Kabshary, where we halted, had been nearly destroyed by the Mungowy. On attacking a place, it is the custom of the country instantly to fire it; and as they are all composed of straw huts only, the whole is shortly devoured by the flames. The unfortunate inhabitants fly quickly from the destructive element, and fall immediately into the hands of their no less merciless enemies, who surround the place: the men are quickly massacred, and the women and children lashed together, and made slaves. Rhamadan, one of the sheikh’s chiefs, a slave from Soudan, had been stationed here for the last fifteen days, and under his protection the survivors of the attack had returned, and were already rebuilding their dwellings. The huts are convenient, and, from the abundance of long straw which the overflowed grounds near the river furnished them, are better built, and withstand the rain better, than those of Kouka: they are divided on the inside by mats, which the women make with great neatness; they have all of them a door of plaited straw in a frame of wood; and some of the habitations of the principals have a wall of mats round them, leaving an inclosure, in which is sometimes a second hut for the female slaves, and the cow or goats which supply them with milk. These unfortunate people seldom think of defending their habitations, but rather give them up, and by that means gain time to escape themselves, should the attack not be made in the night, and the whole set fire to, before they have time to fly. The Kabsharians had long been in dread of a visit from the people of Munga, and, on their approach, the greater part of them had retreated to the banks of the[165] river, to the north-west of the town, which are there extremely high; and they had made a strong post, by digging blaquas, and placing pointed crossed stakes in trenches, which rendered their retreat nearly inaccessible.

June 1.—The sun had scarcely risen this morning, when the sheikh was on horseback inspecting his favourite troops, the Kanemboo infantry: a hollow space under some sandhills, called Cornamaree, was chosen, about a quarter of a mile from the camp, and the whole was conducted with a good deal of order and system. He was attended to the ground by the four sultans who accompanied the expedition under his orders, and a circle was formed by the Arabs and the Bornou horse. The sheikh’s principal slaves and commanders were dispersed in different parts, habited in their scarlet bornouses with gold lace, and surrounded also by their followers. His own dress was, as usual, neat and simple: two white figured muslin tobes, very large, with a bornouse of the same colour, and a Cashemere shawl for a turban, composed his dress; over the whole, across his shoulders, hung the sword which, as he repeatedly said, “the sultan Inglese had sent him.” He was mounted on a very beautiful bright bay horse from Mandara, and took his station on the north side of the circle; while the Kanemboos were drawn up on the opposite extremity in close column, to the number of nine thousand. On the signal being made for them to advance, they uttered a yell, or shriek, exceeding any thing in shrillness I ever heard; then advanced, by tribes of from eight hundred to one thousand each. They were perfectly naked, with the exception of a rather fantastical belt of the goat or sheep’s skin, with the hair outwards, round their middles, and a few gubkas (narrow strips of cloth, the money of the country), round their heads, and brought under the nose; their arms are a spear and shield, with a dagger on the left arm reversed, secured by a ring which goes on the wrist, the point running up the arm, and the handle downwards. The shields[166] are made of the wood of the fogo, a tree which grows in the shallow waters of the great lake, and are so extremely light, as to weigh only a few pounds; the pieces of wood of which it is formed are bound together by thongs of the hide of bullocks with the hair on, which is also carried along the edge of the outside of the shield in vandykes and forms an ornament; they are something the shape of a gothic window, and most of them slightly convex. Under cover of these, the Kanemboo attack the bowmen with great order, and at a slow pace. Their leaders are mounted, and are distinguished merely by a tobe of dark blue, and a turban of the same colour.

On nearing the spot where the sheikh had placed himself they quickened their pace, and, after striking their spears against their shields for some seconds, which had an extremely grand and stunning effect, they filed off to the outside of the circle, where they again formed, and awaited their companions, who succeeded them in the same order. There appeared to be a great deal of affection between these troops and the sheikh; he spurred his horse onwards into the midst of some of the tribes as they came up, and spoke to them, while the men crowded round him, kissing his feet, and the stirrups of his saddle. It was a most pleasing sight; he seemed to feel how much his present elevation was owing to their exertions, while they displayed a devotion and attachment deserving and denoting the greatest confidence. I confess I was considerably disappointed at not seeing these troops engage, although more than compensated by the reflection of the slaughter that had been prevented by that disappointment.

On seeing the sheikh after this inspection, he asked me what I thought of his Kanemboos: I could not help expressing my pleasure at their orderly and regular appearance, and he smiled when I assured him that I thought with such troops as these he need fear but little the attempts of the Arabs and Fezzaneers. Rhamadan, who had been stationed at Kabshary since the burning[167] of the town, gave me an account of a second attack made by the Mungowy since his arrival. He had about two hundred and fifty people with him, amongst whom were about a dozen Arabs in the sheikh’s service, who had guns. Eight or nine hundred of Munga people made their appearance by daylight one morning, principally to try the strength of their enemies, which it was, of course, Rhamadan’s business to prevent their ascertaining. He succeeded in driving them back, although not without some loss, quite to the inclosed country, where they had greatly the advantage of him, and killed nearly thirty of his men with their arrows. Rhamadan now practised a ruse de guerre, by which means he destroyed nearly half the force of his enemies:—He appeared to give up the chase, and retired with his party; towards evening, however, he moved round by the river to a watering-place, where he expected the Mungowy would go to drink and refresh themselves, and rushing upon them unperceived, slaughtered upwards of four hundred.

From a Sketch by Major Denham’s. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

June 3.—A reconnoitring party of cavalry went out soon after daylight with Rhamadan and Dauood (David) at their head. About three in the afternoon they began to return, bringing with them women and children of both sexes, to the amount of eight hundred: one Shouaa, a friend of mine, brought a poor woman with four children, two in her arms, and two on the father’s horse, who had been stabbed for defending those he held most dear upon earth. They also brought a number of very fine horses, and several hundred bullocks and sheep. The poor wretches, on being brought to the sheikh’s tents, uttered the most piteous cries, and, after looking at them, he desired that they might all be released: saying,—“God forbid that I should make slaves of the wives and children of any Musselman! Go back; tell the wicked and powerful chiefs, who urge your husbands to rebel and to kafir, that I shall quickly be with them; and it is them I will punish, not the innocent and the helpless.”

[168]June 4.—We found to the south a very pretty lake, embosomed in a thick wood, and the town Bassecour, with from fifteen hundred to two thousand inhabitants; and, on crossing it, saw two other populous towns, called Caroom and Batily; and again, nearer the river, which was about four miles from Bassecour, several others. I did not return until after sunset, when the positions of the Kanemboo, who always are on duty on the side nearest the enemy, afforded some very picturesque groups. They have a regular chain of posts, or pickets, consisting of five or six men each, extending from the main body to some one of the tribes, who always act as an advance, about two miles in front, and cover the whole front of the army. They lie very snugly under the shelter of their shields, which protect them both from wind and rain, as well as the arrows of their foes. One or two of each party are always on the look out, and their peculiar watch-cry is passed from one sentry to the other, at every half hour or oftener, the whole night through. On the least disturbance taking place in the camp, or horses breaking loose, after a sudden storm, the whole body strike their shields, and set up a yell, to show that they are awake to the circumstance: this also is their tattoo, may be heard for miles, and answers the blowing of the sheikh’s horn for the last prayers at Ashèa.

June 5.—Many hundreds of the Munga people now came in, bowing to the ground, and throwing sand upon their heads, in token of submission. At night every thing was prepared for our marching to the capital, leaving the women, camels, and baggage, at this place; but the people sent word, that if the sheikh remained where he was, they would come to him, and surrender themselves.

June 6.—Several towns sent their chiefs, and submitted in this manner,—bringing peace-offerings, on the sheikh’s swearing solemnly not to molest them farther; but Malem Fanaamy, a fighi of great talent, the cause of the rebellion of these people, refused to come, because he feared to lose his head, and offering, at the same time,[169] two thousand slaves, one thousand bullocks, and three hundred horses, to the sheikh, as the price for peace[33]. The offer was refused: the sheikh’s object being the subjection of this rebellious chief, and not his death or plunder.

We had, the night before, attempted to send off two rockets, but which, to my great disappointment, as well as the sheikh’s, had failed: they had been carelessly carried, and the composition had fallen out of them. This evening he sent “to beg that I would try two more, and, please God, make them go better.” I replied, “that I would do my best;” and, most fortunately, they succeeded to my wish. They were, indeed, a beautiful sight, as the night was extremely dark, and created exceeding wonder. Some of the messengers, who had come from the towns to the west, fell on their faces, and began to pray most fearfully when the rockets burst in their descent. This evening, also, Malem Fanaamy had sent his son, a man of about thirty, handsomely attended, who also witnessed this wonderful exhibition.

The following day, Malem Fanaamy himself made his appearance. His people had become clamorous, and, having no alternative, he came superbly mounted on a white horse, with full one thousand followers, and, dismounting at the door of the sheikh’s tent, humbled himself to the dust, and would have poured sand on his head, but this was by the sheikh’s order prevented, and the fighi brought into his presence. As is the custom on these occasions, he came in poor habiliments, and with an uncovered head. The sheikh received[170] his submission, and, when he really expected to hear the order for his throat to be cut, he was clothed with eight handsome tobes, and his head made as big as six with turbans from Egypt.

June 11.—The feast of the Aide having arrived, and the Rhamadan finished, the new moon was ushered in by loud shouts, and by the firing of guns, and our last rocket was sent up in honour of the feast. It was preceded by a volley fired by my negroes with two carabines, and two brace of pistols, with my own gun, which gave great pleasure; for certainly never were people so enamoured of gunpowder and smoke. By sunrise all the troops were under arms, and the sheikh and all the chiefs mounted, and dressed in their finest bornouses, rode round the camp, and prayed at a short distance. The chiefs of two Munga towns came in to-day, but brought no tribute. We visited the sheikh in the evening, to congratulate him on the Rhamadan being over. He asked a great many questions, particularly about printing; and, addressing me, said:—“Why did you not bring plenty of rockets? They are the most wonderful things I ever saw.” At night we had a dreadful storm, and we were witnesses of a curious custom which the natives have, of digging an immense hole immediately after rain, and, when they come to the dry sand, getting into the hole, and lying down to avoid the damp earth.

June 15.—To avoid the excessive heat of the tents, as we were still to be stationary, we rode to the town Gomsee, before the sun had gained sufficient power to be oppressive, and passed nearly the whole of the forenoon in the corner of the hut of a woman, who had come to the tents the day before for medicine. She had been troubled with ringworms for ten years: she recognised me on my entering the town, which I merely intended passing through, in order to gain the shade of some large tamarind-trees and mangoes that grow close to the lake; but she was so anxious that I should come to her house, that I could not refuse. Her husband was one[171] of the principal persons, and their huts rather superior to the rest. In an inclosure of mats were three huts, one for the man, and the two others for his wife and slaves. I took possession of the former; when, after a repast of milk, and a kind of thick drink, made of a paste from the gussub flour, with honey and pepper, I had visits from at least one hundred of the inhabitants, male and female. This is nearly the last of the Bornou towns westwards. Although the men of Bornou are not warriors, nor the women favoured by nature, they are certainly a kind, inoffensive race; and in one hour were as intimate with me, as if I had been amongst them for years. It was decreed, however, that we were not to part quite such good friends. At noon my host brought in a very beautiful wild bull-skin, with water, on which he begged I would “sully” (pray), and, on my refusal, the usual investigation took place, which ended in my attendant explaining to them, “that I did not sully;” that is, “that I was not Mislem:” upon which, “Kerdie, Kerdie,” was whispered about. The women held up their hands, and the men retired to a distance, and I found my popularity rapidly decrease.

No kafila is permitted to enter Kouka during the sheikh’s absence, nor dare the merchants offer any goods for sale till they have his permission. On this account, one consisting of ten merchants from Soudan was ordered to encamp at a short distance from us, and await the movements of the army. They had nearly a hundred slaves, the greater part female, and girls of from twelve to eighteen years of age, some of them from Nyffee, and still further to the west, of a deep copper colour, and beautifully formed; but few of these were ironed. The males, who were mostly young, were linked together in couples, by iron rings round their legs; yet they laughed, and seemed in good condition.

It is a common practice with the merchants to induce one slave to persuade his companions, that on arriving at Tripoli they will be free, and clothed in red, a colour all negroes are passionately fond[172] of; by which promises they are induced to submit quietly, until they are too far from their homes to render escape possible but at the risk of starvation. If the hundreds, nay thousands, of skeletons that whiten in the blast between this place and Mourzuk, did not, of themselves, tell a tale replete with woe, the difference of appearance in all slaves here (where they are fed tolerably), and the state in which they usually arrive in Fezzan, would but too clearly prove the acuteness of the sufferings which commence on their leaving the negro country.

A circumstance happened during the last two days, which created a great sensation amongst the chiefs; and while it proved that absolute power in the person of the sheikh was not unaccompanied by a heart overflowing with feelings of mercy and moderation, it also displayed many amiable qualities in his untutored and unenlightened subjects. Barca Gana, his general, and his favourite, a governor of six large districts, the man whom he delighted to honour, who had more than fifty female slaves, and twice the number of male, was taught a lesson of humility that made me feel exceedingly for him. In giving presents to the chiefs, the sheikh had inadvertently sent him a horse which he had previously promised to some one else, and on Barca Gana being requested to give it up, he took such great offence, that he sent back all the horses which the sheikh had previously given him, saying that he would in future walk or ride his own. On this the sheikh immediately sent for him, had him stripped in his presence, and the leather girdle put round his loins; and, after reproaching him with his ingratitude, ordered that he should be forthwith sold to the Tibboo merchants, for he was still a slave. The favourite, thus humbled and disgraced, fell on his knees, and acknowledged the justness of his punishment. He begged for no forgiveness for himself, but entreated that his wives and children might be provided for, out of the riches of his master’s bounty. But on the following day, when preparations were made for carrying[173] this sentence into effect, the Kaganawha (black Mamelukes), and Shouaa chiefs about the sheikh’s person, fell at his feet, and notwithstanding the haughtiness of Barca Gana’s carriage to them since his advancement, entreated to a man pardon for his offences, and that he might be restored to favour. The culprit appearing at this moment to take leave, the sheikh threw himself back on his carpet, wept like a child, and suffered Barca Gana, who had crept close to him, to embrace his knees, and calling them all his sons, pardoned his repentant slave. No prince of the most civilized nation can be better loved by his subjects than this chief; and he is a most extraordinary instance, in the eastern world, of fearless bravery, virtue, and simplicity. In the evening, there was great and general rejoicing. The timbrels beat; the Kanemboos yelled, and struck their shields; every thing bespoke joy: and Barca Gana, in new tobes and a rich bornouse, rode round the camp, followed by all the chiefs of the army.

June 18.—We commenced our return to Kouka, after an expedition to me very interesting, and one in which the sheikh had displayed a vast deal of tact and good management; for although he threatened the extermination of the Munga people, yet nothing could have been more injurious to his interests than carrying such threats into execution, had he, indeed, been sufficiently strong to have done so. They are a powerful people, and can bring twelve thousand bowmen into the field; their arrows are much longer than those of the Felatahs, and they have a way of poisoning them more fatally than those people. A nation possessing such a force as this amongst his own people,—who, from their situation on the frontier, were constantly exposed to the attacks both of the Felatahs and the Tuaricks, and by being more accustomed to warfare, were consequently better troops than any in the kingdom of Bornou,—it became a matter of great importance to the sheikh to conciliate by fair means, if it were practicable, and he was perfectly alive to the policy of such[174] a proceeding. The Mungowy nearly all fight on foot, while Bornou may not improperly be called an equestrian nation. The infantry here, however, as in our own quarter of the globe, most commonly decide the fortune of war; and the sheikh’s former successes may be greatly, if not entirely, attributed to the courageous efforts of the Kanem spearmen, in leading the Bornou horse into the battle, who, without such a covering attack, would never be brought to face the arrows of their enemies. No use had ever yet been made of the accession of strength to Bornou by its junction with the Munga people, and the sheikh had this in view when he planned the present expedition. All these considerations had their weight with him, as well as the numerical force with which he had to contend, and he availed himself of the superstition of the people, and his own fame as a Malem (writer), to do that which, probably, by the effect of his arms alone, it might have been difficult to accomplish. He is reported to have spent three successive nights in writing charms: the effects of which were, that the spears of some of the enemies’ chiefs were found in the morning blunted and hacked, whole quivers of arrows were found broken also, and their arms changed from one hut to another; other chiefs were seized with sickness, and all with fear. My rockets are also said to have struck terror indescribable into the hearts of the Mungowy. Their chief, Malem Fanaamy, declared, “that to withstand a sheikh of the Koran who performed such miracles was useless, and, at the same time, haram (sin).” This confession of his inability to contend with El Kanemy determined the people to submit.

Some of the Munga people were brought to me; they were completely Bornou, and had all the simplicity, good nature, and ugliness, which are the particular characteristics of that people. Malem Fanaamy himself was a sort of lusus naturæ; Nature had set a peculiar mark upon him, by covering one side of his face with a thick beard, while on the other not a hair was to be seen. This of[175] itself, amongst a people so utterly ignorant, was sufficient to gain him disciples, who were ready to believe him gifted with superior powers. In these untraversed climes, a very little learning indeed is sufficient to raise a man’s fame and fortune to the highest pitch. Persons who have been to Mecca, of the meanest capacities, who amuse them with tales of the countries and people they have seen on the road, are treated with the greatest respect, and always provided for; indeed every house is open to them: and any European travelling in these countries might acquire an influence by these means, which would enable him to carry all his objects into effect with great facility.

On the 19th of June we returned to Kabshary, and found that great progress had been made in rebuilding the town. The sheikh gave a sum of money towards completing the work, and exempted the inhabitants from tribute for a season; and all, therefore, was rejoicing. The Alowany Shouaas are here in very great force. We had some visits from the women in the evening, who were really beautiful; and although of a sort of dingy copper colour, are here called white, and consequently held in but little estimation by the natives—black, and black only, being considered by them as desirable. I bathed this morning in the Gambarou, while poor Dr. Oudney rested on the banks: live muscles are in plenty, and we found some very pearly oyster-shells at the bottom of the river.

While we remained at Kabshary, we encountered another violent storm, and were much amused at the economy of the Shouaas when the storm approached. I saw all were extremely busy digging holes in the sand with their spears, evidently too small for them to get into themselves, and we were not a little surprised at seeing them presently bury their shirts and trowsers two or three feet deep in the sand, which, on the rain subsiding, they dug up, and put on, quite dry, with an air of great comfort and satisfaction. They never are affected by thus exposing their naked bodies to the fury of the[176] tempest, while we, who were always covered, had colds, agues, and pains, that they were entirely free from.

We had news to-day that the people of Waday had, with a large army, visited Begharmi, that persecuted country, and again pillaged all the towns; and also that our huts had been broken into at Kouka, and some, if not all, of our property stolen. The first report turned out a false one, but the second, to our sorrow, was too true. Hillman had been confined fifteen days to his bed with ague, and during this time, in the night, the robbery was effected.

June 23.—We proceeded on our return, and again pitched our tents on the banks of the Muggaby. In all the woods are flocks of wild animals, called by the Bornouese korookoo, and by the Arabs el buger-achmer, the red bullock: some of these were disturbed to-day, and one got into the midst of our horsemen; it has immense horns, and is something between the ox and the antelope. Spears were struck at him without number, but he effected his escape, carrying off several sticking in his flesh. The horses were exceedingly alarmed, and many of their riders measured their lengths on the sand. The two kafilas from Soudan passed us to-day, on their way to Kouka; they consisted of one hundred and fifty slaves, with about twenty merchants and their servants, and thirty camels. Most of the people ran to the outskirts of the camp to see them pass, it being the custom, on these occasions, to dress out these poor victims of the most cruel avarice that certainly ever entered into the breast of man, in rags of different colours, only to be taken from them again on the procession being over. The merchants, who gratify their vanity the most in this way, lose, it is said, fewer slaves; but I observed several of these before me, whose unbidden tears flowed down their cheeks as they drew their mantle close round them, seeming to wish by that means to stifle their misery with the appearance of it.

It was intended this evening to have killed an hippopotamus, an animal which exists in great numbers in the lake on the borders of[177] which we were encamped, but a violent thunder-storm, to our great disappointment, prevented our witnessing so novel a species of sport. The flesh is considered a great delicacy. On the morrow we had a full opportunity of convincing ourselves that these uncouth and stupendous animals are very sensibly attracted by musical sounds, even though they should not be of the softest kind: as we passed along the borders of the lake Muggaby at sunrise, they followed the drums of the different chiefs the whole length of the water, sometimes approaching so close to the shore, that the water they spouted from their mouths reached the persons who were passing along the banks. I counted fifteen at one time sporting on the surface; and my servant Columbus shot one of them in the head, when he gave so loud a roar, as he buried himself in the lake, that all the others disappeared in an instant.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.

Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

We made a long march to Dummasak, when we halted until the afternoon of the next day. The army here dispersed, and the Shouaas and Kanemboo went off to their respective homes.

By daylight we began to move. The sheikh sent for us to ride near him, and, accompanied by nearly all the people who had remained behind, and who came out thus far to welcome the successful return of their prince, we arrived once more at the capital, amidst the shouts of the men, and the shrieks of the women, to take possession of our old habitations.

The kafila which came from Soudan during this expedition brought a young fighi from Timboctoo, the son of a Felatah chief of D’jennie, named Abdel Gassam ben Maleky. He was on his way to Hage, and had left Timboctoo, as is the custom, without any thing beyond the shirt on his back, the rags of which he exchanged on the road for a sheep’s skin, subsisting entirely on charity. He was a very fine and intelligent lad, of about sixteen, of a deep copper colour, but with features extremely handsome and expressive. He was five months from D’jennie, and greatly exhausted by fatigue[178] and the want of nourishing food: his whole wardrobe was his sheep’s skin; and although the sheikh gave him a tobe, he said he almost thought it a sin to indulge in the luxury of putting it on. We were on the expedition to Munga when he arrived, and about the time of our evening meal, Abdel Gassam generally made his appearance at our tents: bad as the fare was, he found it preferable to the cold mess of flour and water he got elsewhere. He knew little or nothing of the road by which he had come to Kano, not even the names of the places he had halted at. Abdel Gassam said he could scarcely believe such good people as we were could be any thing but Moslem: but he had heard of Christians before; and when I asked how, and where, he gave the following account:—

“Many years ago, before I was born, white men, Christians, came from Sego to D’jennie, in a large boat, as big as two of our boats. The natives went out to them in their canoes; they would not have done them any harm, but the Christians were afraid, and fired at them with guns, and killed several in the canoes that went near their boat: they proceeded to Timboctoo, and there the sultan sent to them one of his chiefs, and they held a parley. The Christians complained that the people wanted to rob them. The sultan was kind to them, and gave them supplies. Notwithstanding this, they went off suddenly in the night, which vexed the sultan, as he would have sent people with them, if they had not been afraid of them a little: and he now sent boats after them, to warn them of their danger, as there were many rocks in the belly of the river, all pointed. However the Christians went on, and would not suffer the sultan’s people to come near them, and they all perished.” My informant never heard that any thing belonging to them was saved, but remembers himself seeing a man often with his father, who was in one of the canoes that followed them, and who had seen them strike against the rocks—indeed he brought the news to Timboctoo. Their appearance excited a great sensation amongst the people;—[179]had frequently heard people talk about the Christians, and the large boat, for a whole day, at his father’s;—to this day they talk about them. They had guns fixed to the sides of the boat, a thing never seen before at Timboctoo, and they alarmed the people greatly.

Abdel Gassam was a sort of prodigy, and could repeat the Koran from the beginning to the end. I repeatedly asked him what they would do to us, if we were to go to Timboctoo? “Why,” answered he, “do by you as you now do by me, feed you. The sultan is a great man, with a large heart, and is kind to strangers. Many whites, but not like those in the great boat, come to D’jennie, and also the servants of these people, who he thinks were Christians, but they do not go to Timboctoo: they come from the great water; and the Felatahs at D’jennie, by their means, supply Timboctoo with cloth and silk, yellow and red, and guns, which are much sought after. Does not know what these white people take back, but always heard, slaves and gold dust. The sultan of Timboctoo is a very great man, never goes out to ghrazzie; but his slaves go, and bring back many slaves, mostly females, from the Kerdy countries, by which he is surrounded. At D’jennie and Melli, which are both subject to Timboctoo, the population is mostly Felatah. The whole road to Timboctoo is inhabited by Moslems; but to the north and south of the route are Kerdies, who sometimes attack kafilas; but they are very much afraid of Bello, who protects merchants. Kashna, Kano, Houssa,—one language; Timboctoo, D’jennie,—one language; but they also speak Felatah. At Sego the population is Negro, Kerdy, Kaffir. All communication between Sego, D’jennie, and Timboctoo, is by water: the river is very large, and called Qualla; and Kabra is the place where every thing going from, or coming to, Timboctoo, is embarked or disembarked. Kabra is five hours distant only from Timboctoo: always understood that this great river, which has many names and branches, went from Nyffé south,[180] between high mountains. The river at Kano is not the same; indeed, believes it is only a lake, and no river.”

This information, as far as it goes, may, I conceive, be relied on. Unlike nearly all the Moorish traders, who are often tutored by others, who have been rewarded for describing probably what even they never saw, and come prepared to say any thing that will best please you, this lad undoubtedly had never been questioned by any one previous to his answering my inquiries: he knew but little Arabic, and had scarcely been noticed in his long journeys, during which he had been handed over from one kafila to another.

He left Kouka in the month of August, in company with an old fighi, for Waday, with a small leather bag of parched corn, and a bottle for his water. I gave him a dollar to pay for his passage across the Red Sea, which he sewed up in his sheep’s skin: I however heard afterwards, that he had been drowned in crossing one of the branches of the Tchad. My informant was a Waday Shouaa: but if they found out that he had the dollar, he was most likely murdered for the sake of such a booty.



[28]Gaadeen, kafir.

[29]The feudal law exists here in full force; and a man unwilling to serve, provides one or more substitutes according to his means.

[30]Birnie means Medina, the capital, in the Bornou language.

[31]From these ruins the sheikh procures the greater part of the nitre used in preparing his gunpowder.

[32]There are two species of the bamboo, one called Kayay, and the other Gummary.

[33]This fighi was a most extraordinary person, and his fame for knowledge and charm-writing was by some thought to exceed that of the sheikh himself, of whom he was jealous to a degree. He had passed years amongst the Kerdies to the south, and knew

· · · · · · · · · · · · ·The dreadful art
To taint with deadly drugs the barbed dart.”

He was now, however, about to be humbled.


The sheikh gave us an interview in his garden this afternoon: the lemon and fig trees exhibited some fruit, the appearance of which was gratifying. Knowing we had news from England, he asked several questions about the Morea, where the Greeks and Turks had been fighting. He had read some account of the former splendour of that country, and he was pleased with some of the corroborations we gave him of their truth. He again started the subject of the shape of the globe, and wished to be acquainted with the method in which its shape had been ascertained: some of his books, he said, made it square. A phosphorus box, which had been brought him from Tripoli, and of which he knew not the use, was now produced, and on the match coming out lighted, himself and all the spectators were delighted beyond measure. I was this morning going on a hunting excursion to the Tchad with some Shouaas of Beni Hassan, but as it was Sunday I postponed my sport: they however went, and brought back a very young elephant, not more than two feet and a half high, and yet so powerful, that three men were obliged to hold him for the purpose of pouring a little milk down his throat. Achmet-ben-Sheneen, an Arab of Augela, a wretched sufferer, came constantly to the Doctor for medicine; and on seeing him we could not refrain from blessing God’s providence in our misery, for sparing us from such afflictions as had fallen upon him. Nearly two years before, in an action with La Sala Shouaas, whom the sheikh conquered, this poor fellow had received three dreadful wounds; one in the head, which had left a[182] deep scar; another in the arm, which, as the spear was poisoned, had never healed, but was still an open wound, extending several inches from the elbow downwards; and in the third, the spear had gone in at his mouth as he lay on the ground, and carrying away part of the jaw and teeth, had penetrated quite through his cheek. A short time after his return from the expedition, he was seized with what the Doctor called the Greek leprosy, covering great part of his body with a foul black eruption, and from which he was now suffering, accompanied by an irritation almost insupportable.

Doctor Oudney and Hillman were now both too ill to join us at meal times; the heat of the day, and dampness of the evenings, affected us all greatly. I used, notwithstanding, to go out in the morning and shoot a couple of ducks or a goose, which helped us out at dinner, although they were dreadfully tough and fishy. The country was now assuming a more interesting appearance from the crops of gussub that had sprung up all round Kouka, on which the slaves of all the inhabitants had been busily employed during the last month, as they sow at the commencement of the rainy season.

In a country where so little is cultivated, there is always an abundant choice of land; and a planter takes possession of any spot that has not been occupied the preceding year, and it then becomes exclusively his property. In two months from the time of sowing they gather the harvest, and this is the only labour of the year.

We had a curious trial this morning before the sheikh, the result of which furnishes a singular proof of his simplicity and submission to the word of the Prophet. The circumstances were these: a Shouaa had stabbed a man the night before, upon some disagreement, and death was the consequence. The brother of the defunct demanded blood, and on application to the kadi, it came out in evidence that the Shouaa had desired the deceased to quit his door, three several times, if he had any faith in the Prophet; but he still continued to resist, and aggravate him, till at last he stabbed him in[183] six places. The kadi’s decision was, that upon so solemn a caution, the unfortunate man should have retired;—that his not doing so was a proof he had no faith in the Prophet; was a Kafir, and was the cause of his own death, and therefore that the murderer should not suffer punishment. The accuser, however, appealed to the sheikh, who told him, that, certainly, by God’s law, communicated to the Prophet, and written in the g’tab (the book), an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and life for life, should be given—but recommended his taking a fine instead of blood. The sturdy Arab, however, was unmoved, and called loudly for justice; and the sheikh then said, he had the law in his own hands, and he might do as he pleased. The prisoner was then taken outside of the walls, and the brother of the deceased beat his brains out with an iron-headed club, which the Shouaas sometimes carry. This was considered a very extraordinary occurrence in Bornou.

I continued to work at the Arabic and Bornou languages; and, besides this, I usually visited Barca Gana two or three times a week, and sometimes he came to me, so that my time rarely hung heavy on my hands; but he always came mounted, and with so many attendants, that my little hut was put in disorder for the whole day after. I believe he entered no person’s habitation in the town but my own, except the sheikh’s. No great man here ever visits his inferior, or moves from his own house to the sheikh’s, without a retinue agreeable to his rank; and the kashella, on remonstrating with me for coming through the streets alone, was surprised when I told him that even our king did the same; and, often habited like his subjects, rode attended only by a single servant. Convinced as he was before of his importance, this astonished him greatly. “Why,” said he, “were the sheikh to do so, nobody would respect him:”—and replied I, “in England the oftener the king does this the more he is both loved and respected.”

Two decisions of the sheikh lately had created a considerable[184] emotion amongst the people. The slave of one man had been caught with the wife of another, a free man, and the injured husband demanded justice. The sheikh condemned both the man and the woman to be hanged side by side: the owner of the slave, however, remonstrated, and said that the decision, as far as respected the woman, was just; for she was always endeavouring to seduce his slave from his work, and that if he (the sheikh) condemned his slave to death, the man, whose wife was the cause of it, ought to give him the value of his slave, as he was poor: this the husband objected to. “Ah!” exclaimed the sheikh, “how often is a man driven to his destruction by woman; yet of all his happiness, she is the root, or the branch.” He himself paid the value of the slave to the owner, and the next morning the guilty pair were suspended outside the walls.

August 8.—Last night a man brought a large bird, called oubara, a smaller species of which the bashaw’s sons hunt daily, in the neighbourhood of Tripoli, with their hawks: this was exceedingly large, weighing as much as twelve pounds; and we gave him about two shillings for his present, in coarse cloth (gubbuk); and before breakfast this morning, he brought another still larger; but finding we had spoiled the market, for this I only gave him half as much. These birds are peculiar for the brilliancy of their large eyes, which exceeds that of the gazelle[34], and the flesh very much resembles our pheasants in flavour.

In these southern climes, all matters of business, as well as pleasure, are transacted before the generality of people in England have well finished their night’s rest, and this morning I rode out by daylight to see the ceremony of a Bornou wedding. The lady was from Angornou; and the bridegroom’s friends, to the number of twenty[185] or thirty, all mounted and in their best clothes, went to give her welcome: she was mounted on a bullock, whose back was covered with blue and white turkadees, and followed by four female slaves, laden with straw baskets, wooden bowls, and earthen pots; while two other bullocks carried the rest of the dowry, which consisted of a certain number of turkadees and tobes. She was attended by her mother, and five or six young ladies, who acted as bride’s maids. We galloped up to them repeatedly, which is the mode of salutation. The women cover their faces, and scream their thanks; the men, however, wheel their horses quickly, and return with their eyes cast to the ground, it being considered as extremely indelicate for them to look upon the bride. The lady, after this, proceeds to the bridegroom’s house with her mother, and there remains shut up until the evening, when she is handed over to her justly impatient lord: for the whole day he is obliged to parade the streets with a crowd after him, or sit on a raised seat, à la sultan, in his house, dressed in all the finery he can either borrow or buy; while the people crowd in upon him, blowing horns, beating drums, and crying “Engouboron degah! Alla Kabunsho! Alla Kiara!” “May you live for ever! God prosper you! Grey hairs to you!” to all which he makes no answer; but looks more foolish than one could suppose it possible for any man in so enviable a situation as that of a bridegroom to do.

August 11.—The sheikh sent this morning to say, that, as we mentioned yesterday the state of our funds, any money that we stood in need of he would immediately furnish us with—that while we were under his protection, we should want for nothing: we, however, said with every feeling of gratitude, that, as we were not quite pennyless, we would wait a few days, until all the people arrived from Soudan.

It is quite impossible to describe the value of his kindness to us on all occasions; and this last proof of his liberality to poor wanderers,[186] whose country he scarcely knew the name of before our arrival, surpassed all we could have expected. Knowing us through the medium of the bashaw of Tripoli only, his disinterested conduct could have been alone the dictation of a generous confidence; and his own penetration and sagacity had long since convinced him of the perfect innocence of our intentions in visiting his country, notwithstanding the injurious reports to the contrary, which had been communicated to his subjects, through the ill will or ignorance of some of the Fezzan merchants: he had sent me apparel from his own house on hearing the news of my forlorn state, after escaping out of the hands of the Felatahs, and had astonished the people about him by his exclamations of sorrow on the first report reaching him of my death. Kaffir as they thought me, he mentioned my escape in his letter to Barca Gana—which met us on our return—as a proof of the protection of God’s providence, in a manner which made a visible alteration in the conduct, not only of the chief, but of the whole army, towards me; and every part of his conduct tended to convince us, that his protection and confidence proceeded more from the opinions he had formed of the grandeur and generosity of the English nation (and, we were willing to flatter ourselves, from his approbation of our conduct), than from any hope of repayment or remuneration from his ally the bashaw.

The constant sickness of Doctor Oudney, who, nearly ever since our return from Munga, had been confined to his hut;—Hillman’s frequent attacks of ague and delirium, and the uncertainty as to the manner in which any supplies were to be obtained, to enable us either to proceed or return, tended but little to keep up our spirits;—my eyes had for some months been too weak to allow of my reading in the evening, or, indeed, of bearing the light in the hut for any length of time together; and we separated, from a mutual repugnance to conversation, from the dreariness of our prospects, almost immediately after our evening meal.

[187]We had frequent and violent showers of rain, with thunder, and most vivid lightning; the waters covered the face of the country in extensive lakes, and our excursions in search of game were now confined to the immediate neighbourhood of our residence. The gussub had increased in height greatly; and, at this season of the year, there are other reasons besides the falls of rain which induce people to remain in their habitations—when the great lake overflows the immense district which, in the dry season, affords cover and food by its coarse grass and jungle to the numerous savage animals with which Bornou abounds, they are driven from these wilds, and take refuge in the standing corn, and sometimes in the immediate neighbourhood of the towns. Elephants had already been seen at Dowergoo, scarcely six miles from Kouka; and a female slave, while she was returning home from weeding the corn to Kowa, not more than ten miles distant, had been carried off by a lioness: the hyænas, which are every where in legions, grew now so extremely ravenous, that a good large village, where I sometimes procured a draught of sour milk on my duck-shooting excursions, had been attacked the night before my last visit, the town absolutely carried by storm, notwithstanding defences nearly six feet high of branches of the prickly tulloh, and two donkies, whose flesh these animals are particularly fond of, carried off in spite of the efforts of the people. We constantly heard them close to the walls of our own town at nights, and on a gate being left partly open, they would enter, and carry off any unfortunate animal that they could find in the streets.

There are a particular class of female slaves here, to whom the duty of watching and labouring in the fields of grain is always allotted. I have before said, that all laborious work is performed by that sex we consider as the weakest, and whom we employ in the more domestic duties only—and it is to them this perilous work is assigned. The female slaves from Musgow, a description of whom I have somewhere else given, are never bought by the Tripoli or[188] Fezzan traders: their features, naturally large and ugly, are so much disfigured by the silver stud which they wear in the under lip, that no purchaser would be found for them; besides the loss of the two front teeth, which are punched out to make way for the silver which goes quite through into their mouths, the weight of the metal, after a year or two, drags the lip down so as to make it quite lie on the chin, and gives a really frightful appearance to the face: these poor creatures, therefore, who are generally of a strong make, and patient under their sufferings, guard the crops, and collect the harvest, and a year seldom passes without several of them being snatched away by the lions, who, crouching under cover of the ripening corn, spring on their prey and bear it off.

August 18.—The twelfth day of the new moon, which was the 17th of the month, was a day of general feasting and rejoicing. Garments, according to the estimation in which the giver holds the receiver, are distributed by all great people to their followers: the sheikh gave away upwards of a thousand tobes, and as many bullocks and sheep. It is the custom, on the morning of the Aid-Kebir[35], for the sovereign with his suite to mount, and, after praying at a certain distance from the town, to return to it with all his people skirmishing before him. The sheikh had been suffering from an attack of the ague, and, therefore, this ceremony did not take place; the people, however, drew bad omens from the circumstance, and said, that the sheikh not having mounted and prayed with his people was not right.

On the day after, the sheikh sent us word that Hadgi Ali Boo-Khaloom was on his way from Kano, and within two or three days of Kouka: this was the most gratifying intelligence that could have reached us, as our funds were all but exhausted, and we lived entirely[189] on the provisions furnished us by the sheikh, with the exception of a little milk and a few fowls, which we purchased. On the 21st he arrived, and very much altered in appearance for the worse, as well as most of the people who had accompanied him; the Fezzaneers had all suffered exceedingly from the ague and fever, which disorders had carried off a greater number of the Fezzan and Tripoli merchants than any preceding year. The sheikh appeared pleased at Hadgi Ali’s return, said he hoped all would be now soon arranged, and that the courier from Tripoli would not long delay making his appearance; he had calculated upon his returning by the Aid-Kebir, and his non-arrival gave him uneasiness on many accounts. Private information, it was said, had by several channels reached the sheikh, that the bashaw had it in contemplation to send an expedition for the purpose of taking possession of Bornou, under the joint command of Mukni the late, and Mustapha the present, sultan of Fezzan: this intelligence was also accompanied by an assurance, that while the English remained he was safe. Scarcely any line of policy could be more injurious to the interests of the bashaw of Tripoli, or his subjects, than a measure of this nature. He obtained slaves almost exclusively through the medium of the sheikh’s territory, which, since he had held the reins of government, was sufficiently safe for travellers, to induce merchants with large capitals for this country to proceed by way of Bornou to Soudan. The numbers of kafilas between that country and Fezzan had, within the last five years, greatly exceeded any former period; and in an equal proportion did the respectability of those traders who now accompanied them exceed that of the merchants previously in the habit of passing through Bornou. By an intercourse with these travellers, a great variety of merchandise was brought into the interior—the ideas of the natives became enlarged, and, consequently, their desires increased. Trade was, in fact, but just beginning to be prosecuted with vigour by the inhabitants of eastern Soudan. European[190] goods of all descriptions, used by the Soudanees, were becoming every day in greater request, and the whole of their country might, by the bashaw’s constantly keeping up an amicable understanding with the sheikh, have been supplied exclusively by the Tripoli merchants.

With a knowledge of these facts, it was almost impossible to believe that the reports of the bashaw of Tripoli’s intended expedition could have any real foundation; yet the report, credited as it was by the majority of the Bornou people, was of itself sufficient to excite in us excessive alarm, both for our own safety, as well as for the success of our mission. The sheikh caused it to be understood, both here and at Angornou, that the kafila, about to leave Kouka for Fezzan, would be the last in the present state of affairs; at the same time, he relaxed nothing of his personal kindness and attention to us.

The violent rains and stormy nights continued, as did our sickness and loss of appetite. Hillman and myself were suffering constantly from a prickly heat upon the skin, which was almost insufferable during the day, and prevented our sleeping at night. All the quadrupeds, as well as bipeds, transplanted from the countries bordering upon the great ocean, appeared to suffer alike. Within the last ten days, three of our camels, Doctor Oudney’s mule and his horse, the last of our Tripoli animals but one, had died, and the remaining three camels, out of the nineteen we brought here, were turned into the inclosure to take their chance, while the man was discharged who had hitherto been paid for taking care of them.

August 27.—These things were cheerless and discouraging indeed. We had still excessive rains; and notwithstanding the great power of the sun for some hours in the middle of the day, so damp was the air, that for several days together my blankets were never dry, the rain always coming through the roof of the cousie (hut) at night.

[191]I had been for some time waiting for a favourable day to accompany two or three Shouaas of Tirab to the Tchad, in search of buffalos: they went several times, and usually killed one, although I never could persuade them to bring me the head: some of the meat, and a piece of the skin, was all they would load their horses with for so many miles. Their manner of killing these animals is curious, and rather perilous—they chase them in the swamps, where they now feed, in preference to nearer the lake, and as their horses are trained so as to go quite close to them as they run, the rider is enabled to get his foot well fixed on the buffalo’s back: with singular skill, he then strikes, just behind the animal’s shoulder, one or two spears, if he can place them; pierced with these, the animal is able to run but a short distance, then, with the assistance of his companion, but frequently alone, he dismounts and despatches his prey: it sometimes happens, that the buffalo, by quickly turning his head before they strike, oversets both horse and rider. A Shouaa friend of mine had his horse completely ripped open, and killed on the spot, only a few days since, by the sudden twist which the animal gave his head, catching the horse with his pointed horn. Yesterday I was again disappointed, from the badness of the weather: three Shouaas went, and narrowly escaped being caught by the Biddomahs—as two hundred boats made their appearance at different places on the banks of the Tchad, carrying from ten to fifteen men each, and the sportsmen were very nearly caught by the crews of two that came near the town of Koua. News came in this morning that they had carried off upwards of thirty persons from the neighbourhood of Woodie, and amongst them the nephew of the sheikh-el-Blad (governor of the town). On these occasions, when any person of rank gets into their hands, they demand a ransom of from two to three thousand bullocks, or a proportionate number of slaves. No sultan has any power over these islanders; they will pay no tribute to any one, nor submit to any prescribed government: some of them[192] lately paid a visit to the sheikh, and although they brought him only a few slaves, that they had stolen from the Begharmi side of the water, yet he received them kindly, and gave them fine tobes and red caps. Their visit was principally to see if the reports of the sheikh’s power were true; but notwithstanding their kind reception, on returning they carried off three girls from within ten miles of Kouka. These islands lie on the eastern side of the Tchad, and on embarking from the west, they described the voyage as five days of open sea previous to arriving at the islands, which are numerous; the two largest are named Koorie and Sayah. They have a language of their own, although resembling that of Kanem. Their arms are spears and shields, and they fight with every body around them, Waday, Begharmi, and Bornou. They believe in a divine power, which rules every thing, but are not Musselmans. They have a strong arm, they say, and a cunning head, instead of a large country, and much cattle; therefore they must take from those who are richer than themselves. The Bornou people say, “the waters are theirs; what can we do?” It is said they have nearly one thousand large canoes. They are not a sanguinary or cruel people; and when prisoners are taken in battle and wounded, they do not kill, but cure them; and if no ransom is offered, they give them wives, and they remain as free as themselves.

Aug. 30.—Hadgi Ali Boo-Khaloom had been now returned more than a week, and nothing satisfactory had ever been extracted from him as to the money left in his brother’s hands. I had great fears of his honesty from the first, and urged the necessity of our taking some decided measures with him. We accordingly summoned him to appear before the sheikh; the result of which was, our failure for want of sufficient documents, and the tergiversation of the Arabs. The official document of this trial, translated from the Arabic, will be found in the Appendix.

We received visits of condolence from several of our Bornou[193] friends, who were all extravagant in their abuse of Hadgi Ali. “Are these your Mourzuk friends,” said they, “who were to assist you with every thing? Why, this is robbing you. However, they called God to witness to a lie, and they will die soon: only wait a day or two.”

Sept. 1.—Dr. Oudney now cupped himself on the chest for the second time, and found some little relief. Feeling that our situation required an appearance of spirit and determination, I sent for Abdal Wahad, an Arab of Zehren, distantly related to Boo-Khaloom, and to whom, on two occasions of distress, I had been kind, and upbraided him with his falsehood and ingratitude; nor was my remonstrance altogether without effect. He acknowledged that “his heart had been too big for his stomach ever since he left the palace: that his eyes had been dim, and he had enjoyed no rest; for,” said he, “I swore to myself to be as faithful to you as to a brother!” “All this is very fine,” said I; “but what proof will you give of this remorse?” “Every proof,” he replied; “Hadgi Ali will come this very day and acknowledge the debt—that must be the consequence. I have been to the sheikh, and said how you had assisted me; and that I had sworn, and could not see you wronged.” Even as Abdal Wahad predicted, so it happened. Karouash came in the course of the day to say that Abdal Wahad had been at his house, and told him the debt was just, and that he had reported the conversation to the sheikh. The sheikh’s answer was, “He is quite right; after what the rais Khaleel said, every one would have known where the justice lay; for the English have not many words, but they are true; and the Arabs, you know, will lie a little (kidip shouie shouie).”

In the evening Hadgi Ali came himself; he made, however, but a blundering excuse, saying he had never inquired into it—did not even know whether we gave any money or not to Boo-Khaloom; but that now he knew, and God forbid he should ever be otherwise than friendly with the English, and that not only two, but five thousand[194] dollars were at our service. All this, however, ended in his begging us to wait until he had sent off his kafila to Mourzuk, and that then he would try to give us eight hundred or one thousand dollars in tobes, or gubbuk[36], for not ten dollars in money had he; and the rest he hoped we would wait for, until he sent to Soudan. Unsatisfactory as this was, we thought it better not to make objections, merely saying that we were without money, and begging that he would settle it as soon as he possibly could.

Mr. Clapperton was again seized with fever, so violent as to give us all great uneasiness, and render him delirious for twenty-four hours; and from an idea that the disorder was infectious, the Bornou people could scarcely be persuaded to come near our huts. Doctor Oudney each day became weaker and weaker; Hillman was gaining a little strength: while I might be considered as the best of the party, although often suffering from headaches, and pains in the chest, with what gave me more uneasiness than all, increasing dimness of sight. I, however, kept up my spirits, visited Barca Gana and Mai Meigamy, nearly every day; and found amusement in entering into all their troubles and fears lest the bashaw should send a ghrazzie into the country.

Since the feast day of the Aid Kebir there had been on an evening an assembly of persons before the sheikh’s gate; when the most athletic and active of the slaves came out and wrestled in the presence of their masters, and the sheikh himself, who usually took his post at a little window over the principal gate of the palace. Barca Gana, Ali Gana, Wormah, Tirab, and all the chiefs, were usually seated on mats in the inner ring, and I generally took my place beside them. Quickness and main strength were the qualifications which ensured victory: they struggled with a bitterness which could scarcely have been exceeded in the armed contests of[195] the Roman gladiators, and which was greatly augmented by the voices of their masters, urging them to the most strenuous exertion of their powers. A rude trumpet, of the buffalo’s horn, sounded to the attack; and the combatants entered the arena naked, with the exception of a leathern girdle about the loins; and those who had been victorious on former occasions were received with loud acclamations by the spectators. Slaves of all nations were first matched against each other; of these the natives of Soudan were the least powerful, and seldom victors. The most arduous struggles were between the Musgowy and the Begharmi negroes: some of these slaves, and particularly the latter, were beautifully formed, and of gigantic stature; but the feats of the day always closed by the matching of two Begharmis against each other—and dislocated limbs, or death, were often the consequence of these kindred encounters. They commence by placing their hands on each other’s shoulders; of their feet they make no use, but frequently stoop down, and practise a hundred deceptions to throw the adversary off his guard; when the other will seize his antagonist by the hips, and after holding him in the air, dash him against the ground with stunning violence, where he lies covered with blood, and unable to pursue the contest. A conqueror of this kind is greeted by loud shouts, and several vests will be thrown to him by the spectators; and, on kneeling at his master’s feet, which always concludes the triumph, he is often habited by the slaves near his lord in a tobe of the value of thirty or forty dollars; or, what is esteemed as a still higher mark of favour, one of the tobes worn by his chief is taken off, and thrown on the back of the conqueror. I have seen them foam and bleed at the mouth and nose from pure rage and exertion, their owners all the time vying with each other in using expressions most likely to excite their fury: one chief will draw a pistol, and swear by the Koran that his slave shall not survive an instant his defeat, and, with the same breath, offer him great rewards if he[196] conquers. Both of these promises are sometimes too faithfully kept; and one poor wretch, who had withstood the attacks of a ponderous negro, much more than his match, from some country to the south of Mandara, for more than fifty minutes, turned his eye reproachfully on his threatening master, only for an instant; when his antagonist slipped his hands down from the shoulders to the loins, and by a sudden twist raised his knee to his chest, and fell with his whole weight on the poor slave (who was from Soudan), snapping his spine in the fall. Former feats are considered as nothing after one failure; and a slave, that a hundred dollars would not purchase to-day, is, after a defeat, sold at the fsug, maimed as he is, for a few dollars, to any one who will purchase him.

The skin of a noble lion was sent me by the sheikh, which had been taken near Kabshary, measuring from the tail to the nose fourteen feet two inches. He had devoured four slaves, and was at last taken by the following stratagem: the inhabitants assembled together, and with loud cries and noises drove him from the place where he had last feasted; they then dug a very deep blaqua, or circular hole, armed with sharp pointed stakes; this they most cunningly covered over with stalks of the gussub; a bundle of straw, enveloped in a tobe, was laid over the spot, to which a gentle motion, like that of a man turning in sleep, was occasionally given by means of a line carried to some distance. On their quitting the spot, and the noise ceasing, the lion returned to his haunt, and was observed watching his trap for seven or eight hours—by degrees approaching closer and closer,—and at length he made a dreadful spring on his supposed prey, and was precipitated to the bottom of the pit. The Kabsharians now rushed to the spot, and before he could recover himself, despatched him with their spears.

Mr. Clapperton’s illness had increased to an alarming height: he had upwards of twenty-four hours’ fever, and delirium without cessation. These attacks, just about the time the rainy season is at[197] an end, are very prevalent, and often fatal to the white people from the sea, as the Arabs are called. How much more violently must they effect the natives of more temperate lands?

Mr. Hillman was again assailed by ague, and disordered intellect, which threw him back into his former state of weakness. For two days out of the last three, I had alone appeared at our mess bench for the evening meal. Two of my companions were quite delirious in bed; and Dr. Oudney, who had for a month taken nothing but a little sour milk, three times a day, never left his hut except from necessity. These were very trying moments, and sufficient to destroy the appetite of a more healthy person than myself: still I had much to be thankful for, and I endeavoured to bless God, and ate with cheerfulness.

We had now been five days without rain; the thermometer was as high as 89° in the middle of the day in the shade, and we began to think summer was again coming. It may appear incredible, that with such a temperature we should wish for an increase of heat; but the dampness of the atmosphere, and the millions of flies and musquitoes, beyond all conception, that accompanied it, rendered it almost impossible to enjoy any thing like repose, either by day or night. The annoyance of these insects I had experienced at Lisbon, Naples, and in the other parts of Italy and Sicily, but neither in numbers, nor in peace-disturbing powers, were they to be compared with these. Towards the evening, a fire in the hut, made of damp straw and weeds, was sometimes the means of procuring a few hours’ tranquillity; but the remedy was in itself so disagreeable, that it was only resorted to in despair: a fire of this kind, however, seldom fails to expel the intruders, from the thick and suffocating vapours which arise from it.

The horses also suffered dreadfully from the same annoyance; and to keep them from injuring themselves, wherever they can[198] reach with their teeth, the negroes are obliged to keep a fire the greater part of the day, particularly at the hours of feeding, close to their heads; and notwithstanding the natural dislike those animals have to flames and smoke, they will hang their heads over the fire, so as to suffer themselves to be all but scorched, in order to obtain a little rest from their persecutors. Of scorpions we had seen but few, but the white and black ants were like the sands in number: the white ones made their way into every trunk, of whatever sort of wood they were made, as if it had been paper. And on the late expedition, during a halt of three days, in a spot where they were more than usually numerous, a mat and a carpet on which I slept were completely destroyed by them. They tell a story of an Arab having lain down to sleep near old Birnie, just over a nest of these destructive insects, covered up in a barracan, and that in the morning he found himself quite naked, his covering having been eaten to the last thread. The wooden supports of a sort of shade which I had erected in the front of my hut, in a little more than three months these destructive insects had perforated with so many millions of holes, as to reduce it to a powder, and a new one was obliged to be placed in its room. The black ant was no less persevering in attacks upon our persons; her bite was nearly as bad as a scorpion, and so sharp as to excite an involuntary exclamation from the sufferer; indeed, for weeks together, my skin had, from these insects alone, more resembled that of a person afflicted with the measle than any thing else that I can compare it to. Oil, unfortunately, we had none, which is both a preventive and a cure; the only substitute I could obtain was a little fat rubbed over the body, and this seldom failed of giving me relief.

The kafila for Mourzuk left Kouka on the 13th: several Arabs, who had determined on remaining here some time, took their departure in consequence of their fears of the bashaw’s visit. Nothing[199] had arrived, and, in the absence of authentic intelligence, all was alarm and confusion, and reports of every kind arose: they said the kafila, which had been expected more than two months, could not be delayed from any other cause than the hostile intentions of the sultan: trusty persons were accordingly stationed at the commencement of the desert to give the earliest information of any thing approaching, and no assurances of ours had the least effect in calming the fears of the natives.

Mr. Clapperton’s illness increased; and one night, while all were asleep, he made his way to the hut where the only servant slept who was not sick, begging for water; his inside, he said, was burning; the delirium had just then left him; he was too weak to return to his hut without the assistance of Columbus, who supported him in his arms; he was still dangerously ill; and four persons of our establishment, besides Doctor Oudney, were confined to their beds at this time with this same disorder: the symptoms of all were similar.

Sep. 25.—After a most restless night, I rose by daylight, and taking my old negro, Barca, rode in the direction of Dowergoo. The harvest was abundant, and they had already begun to lop off the heads of the long gussub: the tamarind trees, which lose all their leaves at the commencement of the rains, were budding with great beauty, and had a bright carnation colour; the waters had already decreased very considerably; and the season appeared highly favourable for an expedition in some previously untrodden path: every thing else was, however, against the attempt; for, added to our poverty, I was the only one of our party capable of mounting a horse. On my return I visited my patients, for Doctor Oudney could not move from his hut; and the small-pox raged amongst the slaves of two of our friends, added to the fever of the season. Out of twelve slaves who were seized, two had died; and the only child of Mohamed-el-Wordy had now taken it from his slave. They are not ignorant of inoculation, and it is performed nearly in the same[200] manner as amongst ourselves, by inserting the sharp point of the dagger, charged with the disease; they never give any medicine, but merely roll the invalid in a barracan, and lay him in a corner of the hut until the disorder takes a turn.

The castor tree is found in this neighbourhood, and is commonly used as a medicine. There is also another tree, of which they either chew the blossom or steep it in water, which has the effect of an emetic.

The weather continued to improve upon us, though the heat increased; and some days the thermometer was at 97° and 98°, but we had fewer mosquitoes, and a clearer atmosphere. Doctor Oudney had been violently attacked, first in his right, and then in his left eye, with an inflammation, which left him no rest by day or night; he, however, within the last two days, got out for an hour in the evening. Mr. Clapperton also, who had been in a state of extreme danger for many days, appeared to have passed the crisis of his attack—cool blood flowed once more in his veins, and consciousness was restored to his mind: he was however emaciated, and in a dreadful state of weakness, and his eyes could scarcely be said to have life or expression in them; he had been supported outside his hut for the last two days, and we began to hope he would recover.

Sep. 28.—During the confinement of Doctor Oudney, I had occasionally seen the sheikh about every seven days; he was always anxious in his inquiries after him, and seemed much surprised that, having such excellent medicines for other people, he should not be able to cure himself: and as this day the doctor seemed to think himself a little better, we went together to the sheikh. Dr. Oudney at once told him that he wished to go to Soudan; and as he had not given me the slightest intimation of this being his intention, I was really as much surprised as the sheikh himself. “What is your object?” said he: “why, the courier has not yet brought the bashaw’s[201] directions.” Doctor Oudney replied, “My wish is to see the country—I cannot live here—I shall die. While travelling, I am always better.”

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Hillman had been for a long time employed in making a gun-carriage for a four-pounder, which the sultan of Fezzan had formerly brought as a present to the sheikh: the scarcity of iron, the awkwardness of the negro blacksmiths, and clumsiness of their work when finished, were so distressing to the correct eye of an English shipwright, that even after the carriage was completed—and considering the means he had, it was very well done—Hillman was far from being satisfied with his work: not so, however, the sheikh. We took it to him this afternoon, and he was greatly pleased and surprised at the facility with which its elevation could be increased or decreased: both this and the wheels were subjects of great wonder. During the work, on several occasions, the sheikh had sent Hillman presents of honey, milk, rice, wheat, and sweet cakes, all of which he had shared with his companions. On one occasion, after he had finished a large chair, which pleased the sheikh excessively, he sent him a bag of gubbuk (money of the country): this, after inquiring what it was, he returned, with the true and honest pride of an English seaman, saying, “No! the king of England pays me—I don’t want that; but I am much obliged to the sheikh, nevertheless.”

The season seemed now to prove very unhealthy both to the natives and ourselves, and from six to ten bodies were seen carried out daily from the city gates. My poor friend Mai Meegamy was attacked, among the rest, by this dreadfully prevalent complaint, and he sent for me by daylight. I found him in an alarming state of fever, with a fit of the ague on him at the time: after consulting with Doctor Oudney, who was unable to visit him, I gave him a strong dose of emetic tartar, and in two days had the pleasure of seeing him quite recovered. The effect of the emetic tartar was to him a matter of the greatest astonishment: at the first sight of the[202] dose he was unwilling to take it, and asked what a little white powder like that could do for him: he was very shortly, however, convinced, that the quantity I had prescribed was quite sufficient. “What wonderful medicine!” said he: “why, if I had swallowed so much,” taking up a little sand in his hand, “what would have become of me! Wonderful! wonderful! the English know every thing: why are they not Musselmen?”

This day, a large guana and a young crocodile were brought to me by one of the Shouaas: they had been killed on the banks of the Shary, five days distant, and were in pretty good preservation. I proceeded to dry them in the way mentioned by Mr. Burchell; and although this was a matter I had never before had the least experience in, or taste for, yet I became every day more and more interested in the collections and preservations of our specimens of birds and other animals.

The sheikh sent us three birds[37], which had been taken in their nests at Loggun: they are very scarce, and much esteemed, their flesh being used as a medicine for many disorders, placed hot to the part affected, particularly for an enlargement of the spleen. They feed on insects, fish, snakes, and serpents, the latter of which they have a particular instinct of discovering. This bird discovers their vicinity while yet many feet under ground, digs on the spot, destroys the nest, and feeds on the venomous inhabitant and its eggs: although larger than a turkey-cock, they were so young as to be unable to walk; indeed, the feathers were not all perfect, and I determined on endeavouring to rear one of them to more mature age and beauty. I had, indeed, already a little menagerie, which, if I would have allowed it, the sheikh would have added to daily, and I found in them great amusement—I might almost say much comfort. My collection consisted, besides my Loggun bird, of two[203] monkeys, five parrots, a civet cat, a young ichneumon, and a still younger hyæna: they had all become sociable with each other, and with me, and had their separate corners allotted them in the inclosure that surrounded my hut, except the parrots and the monkeys, who were at liberty; and while sitting in the midst of them of a morning, with my mess of rice and milk, I have often cast my thoughts to England, and reflected with deep interest on the singular chances of life by which I was placed in a situation so nearly resembling the adventurous hero of my youthful sympathies, Robinson Crusoe.

Our whole household now began to revive, and on Sunday we all met in the evening about sun-set, before the doors of our huts, and enjoyed the cool breeze for more than half an hour; even Doctor Oudney, whose eyes had ceased to be so painful, joined us—we had not enjoyed such a coterie for many months. A very hale strong negro woman, the mother of Mr. Clapperton’s servant, had taken the fever from her son, who had been more than a month laid on his back, and reduced her almost to death’s door. She was a Koorie from one of the islands to the east of the Tchad, and had sent for several fighis, who, after writing mysterious words, decided on her case as hopeless. At last an old Hadgi, more than seventy years of age, was requested to come to her:—he was a miserable old wretch, carrying nothing but an ink-bottle, made of a small gourd, and a few reed pens; but he set about his business with great form, and with the air of a master; and, in the evening, Zerega, my negro’s wife, came to me, quite in raptures at the following wonderful story: he said the woman was certainly enchanted, probably by the kaffirs, meaning the English, but, “By the head of the prophet,” he should drive the devil out of her, and which he called shetan (the devil). He wrote a new gidder (wooden bowl) all over sentences from the Koran; he washed it, and she drank the water; he said “Bismullah” forty times, and some other words, when she screamed out, and he[204] directly produced two little red and white birds, which he said had come from her. “What did you do in that poor woman? she is not young,” said the fighi; “why perplex her? why did not you come out of her before?” “We did not wish to hurt her much,” said the birds; “but she has been kaffiring, old as she is, and must be punished: there are others in her yet who will not come out so easily; but now, since you are come, she will not die, but she had better take care for the future: we jumped into her when she went to the market; and she knows what she did there.” The poor woman shed an abundance of tears, and acknowledged that she had been a little thoughtless on the preceding market-day. The fighi was rewarded with her best Soudan shift, and they were all made happy at the news of her recovery.

October 7.—About three thousand of the sheikh’s spaheia (horsemen) had lately come in from the Tchad, Shary, and the different towns south and west of Angornou, in order that they might undergo a general inspection: their horses were in good condition. An extremely careful inspection took place by the sheikh himself, and punishment was instantly inflicted on any one who had a young horse, if it appeared to have been neglected: but those whose horses were old were excused, and the animal changed.

October 8.—A circumstance happened yesterday, which I acknowledge a good deal irritated my feelings. A Tripoli merchant had intrusted to one of the Mesurata a parcel of coral, to take for him to Angornou: it was, however, never forthcoming, and he declared that he had lost it on the road. The Koran law would not, in that case, oblige the loser to make good the loss—a thing lost is God’s will, and nobody’s fault. A servant of the owner, however, unluckily saw the coral afterwards in the Mesurata’s house; the merchant, therefore, appealed to the kadi, as, if he succeeded in proving this, the value would be recoverable. This servant had been for some time out of employ, and had assisted at our huts during[205] the time that we had so many of our party sick. The kadi took this man’s oath, and was about to decide, when some one said, “Why, he eats bread and salt with the Christians.” “How!” said the kadi; “is that true?” “Yes,” replied he, “I have eaten their bread, but it was because no one else would feed me; but I don’t hate them the less for that.” “Turn him out,” said the kadi: “Staffur allah! God forbid that any one who has eaten with Christians should give justice by the laws of Mahommed!” His evidence was accordingly refused, and the merchant lost his cause. A Bornouese, a friend of mine, who was present, asked the kadi, with much simplicity, whether really these Christians were such bad people: “they seem kind,” said he; “and if they are so very bad, why does God suffer them to be so rich, and to know things so much better than we do?” “Don’t talk about them,” said the kadi, “don’t talk about them—please God, those who are here will die Mislem: as to their riches, let them enjoy them. God allows them the good things of this world, but to Mislem he has given paradise and eternity.” “Geree! geree!” (true! true!) was re-echoed from each; and the fatah was immediately recited aloud.

We had now received intelligence that the kafila which had left this place from Mourzuk, nearly a month since, was detained at Woodie, in consequence of the Tibboos having filled the wells between that place and Billma. Such of the Arabs as remained of our escort, after their return from Munga, left Kouka with the first kafila for Tripoli: they were all my professed friends; but, notwithstanding the miserable state in which they were, I had not the means of assisting them; the few dollars each man had received from the bashaw on quitting Tripoli, and all they possessed besides, being lost at Mandara, and they knew I was precisely in the same situation. One man in three or four sold his gun, an Arab’s greatest treasure, to provide them with water, skins, and corn, for their journey. Added to this, they were all weakened by sickness and wounds:[206] the fancied riches they were to be masters of, by Boo-Khaloom’s victories over the Kerdies, had vanished into air, and they were about to return to their families after a year’s absence, even poorer than they left them.

That the desperation natural to an Arab should be excited by such circumstances was not to me a matter of surprise. I cautioned them, however, against returning to Tripoli with unclean hands: they promised fair enough, and even shuddered when I reminded them of the bashaw’s summary mode of punishing; all was, however, without effect; for, on arriving at the Tibboo country, they proceeded to the well Daggesheinga, a retreat which had been shown to Boo-Khaloom in confidence, on his last journey, by Mina Tahr, the road to which they too well remembered, and surprising the flocks of the Tibboos, and killing three of their people, marched off four hundred and upwards of their best maherhies: this had exasperated the Tibboos almost to madness; and they filled up all the wells, swearing they would be repaid, or that no kafilas should pass through their country. This news made us tremble for our supplies; but evils seemed to be crowding thick upon us, from all quarters. We discovered too, or thought we discovered, that the people now treated us with less respect, and were more lavish of the contemptuous appellations of kaffir, kelb, insara, unbeliever, dog, Christian, both to me and to our servants than formerly; and as the opinion of the oi polloi in all these countries is usually governed by authority, I concluded we had also lost ground in the estimation of the chief. A Bornou boy whom I had taken some notice of, and who used to come to me almost every day to talk Bornouese, was hooted in the streets, and called insara; and when we turned him from the huts for stealing nearly two dollars in strips of cloth, the money of the country, the people all exclaimed against such an act, as, by kaffiring with Christians, they said that the misfortune of being supposed a thief had come upon him.

[207]October 10.—We had to-day a fresh breeze from the north-west, which was delightfully invigorating, and the natives promised us some few days of cold dry weather, which was to carry off all the fever and agues. This strongly reminded me of the Spanish villagers in Old Castile, who, during the sickly months of July and August, were, upon an average, three out of four confined to their beds with a very similar complaint: like these people, they took no medicines, but always said, “When the cold winds come we shall be better.” The winds in Bornou are regular and periodical: previous to our going to Munga, east and south-east winds were nearly constant; when the rainy season commenced, we had them from the south-west, with a thick atmosphere, a sultry, damp, and oppressive air. Previous to a storm, gusts of wind would accompany the black clouds which encompassed us, and blow with great force from the north-east; these winds, however, were not accompanied by such violent or lasting rains; but when the clouds formed themselves to the south-east, they were tremendous, accumulating, as it were, all their force, and gradually darkening into a deeper and more terrific black, with frequent and vivid forked lightning, accompanied by such deafening and repeated claps of thunder, as shook the ground beneath our feet like an earthquake. The rain always at these times burst upon us in torrents, continuing sometimes for several hours; while blasts of wind, from the same quarter, drove with a violence against our unsheltered huts, that made us expect, every instant, low as they were, to see the roofs fly from over our heads, and deprive us of the trifling protection they afforded. After these storms, the inclosures round our huts were often knee deep in water, and channels were formed, with all possible speed, in order to prevent the huts themselves from being inundated. At the full and change of the moon these storms were always most violent.

Oct. 16.—“How use doth breed a habit in a man.” Miserably solitary as were all my pursuits, disheartening as were my prospects,[208] and demi-savage as was my life altogether, I was incapable of accounting, even to myself, for the tranquillity in which my days glided away. The appetite with which I generally devoured the rice or paste, which formed my lone repasts, for no one could endure the smell of food but myself, so heavy was sickness upon them; the satisfaction felt in my morning and evening visits to Barca Gana, and the plans, full of hope of further progress, which floated in my imagination, when at night I laid my head upon my pillow, frequently excited in my mind the most proud and grateful sensations.

I had been fully employed (convinced that I was best consulting the interests of the mission, the primary object of all my thoughts, by cultivating the favour and good will of the sheikh), during the two last days in superintending the manufacture of cartridges, for the two field-pieces, which were now both mounted, as we had plenty of very good paper for the purpose with us. In this I succeeded to my wishes; but the providing of balls was a great difficulty; and after trying a number of musket-balls in a small linen bag, which would not answer, I succeeded in getting from the negro blacksmith, by means of a paper model, a small tin canister, the size of the mouth of the piece, and holding sixteen musket balls. The sheikh’s delight was extreme at this acquisition to his own implements of war, and he became impatient to see the guns exercised. I offered, if he would appoint six of his best slaves, three to each gun, that I would instruct them as well as I was able—as firing them quick was a very material augmentation of their utility; and I at the same time strongly recommended his holding forth to his people the promise of reward, in the event of their being brought safe out of battle; and that the punishment would be most severe in case they were deserted, and fell into the hands of an enemy. The sheikh’s preparation for war had been carried on for the last two months with great vigour; his whole armoury had been renovated;[209] and he told me, exultingly, that he had two hundred guns, pistols, and carbines—although from the locks of full fifty it would have been in vain to attempt producing fire.

The sheikh had, in the beginning of his conquests, seen the advantage of encouraging the discontented of other countries to settle in his new towns; and, besides the Kanemboo who accompanied him, he had Tuaricks, Tibboos, Arabs, and Begharmis,—and on those he appeared to rest his chief reliance. To check this warlike spirit was far from his wish or interest; for by indulging it, he not only enriched himself, and his people, and strengthened his power, but might also hope to render it eventually a source of strength, prosperity, and permanency to his kingdom.

Notwithstanding the business of war appeared so fully to occupy the sheikh’s thoughts, yet his anxiety for a reformation, as despotic as it was impracticable, amongst the frail of his woman-kind, was still uppermost in his mind; an instance of which occurred when two of these unfortunates fell into his hands, whose sinnings were placed beyond all doubt by the activity of the spies he employed to watch over this department; and although his decisions on ordinary occasions were ever on the side of mercy, these poor girls were sentenced to be hanged by the neck until they were dead[38]. The agitation and sorrow which the threatened execution of these two girls, who were both of them under seventeen, excited in the minds of all the people, were most creditable to their feelings; and although on other occasions their submission to the decrees of their chief was abject in the extreme, yet on this (to say the least of it) rigorous sentence being made public, loud murmurs were uttered by the men, and railings by the women. The lover of one of the girls swore that he would stab any man who attempted to place the[210] rope. He had offered to read the fatah with her[39], which offer had been refused. The general feeling was pity, and the severity of the punishment caused the sin to be almost forgotten, which would not have been the case had the penalty been of a more lenient nature: indeed, it was natural that pity should be felt—notwithstanding all one’s morality, it was impossible to feel otherwise. The day after (for punishments are summary in eastern countries) was fixed for the expiation of their crime, but a fighi, nearly equal to the sheikh in skill, took upon himself to remonstrate, and declared such punishments were themselves haram (sins), for in no part of the Koran could an authority be found for such a sentence. To disgrace or set a mark on such culprits was the law of the Prophet, not death;—and that should these poor offenders suffer, God would avenge their death on the country, and sickness, with bad crops, would come upon them. The sheikh for a long time continued inexorable, and observed that riches, plenty, and prosperity, without virtue, were not worth possessing—the punishment of the two girls, however, was eventually commuted to that of head-shaving, a heavy disgrace, and which was performed in the public street.

The ceremony of the trial of the brass guns, for which, after consulting Mr. Clapperton, who was too ill to undertake it himself, I had succeeded in making charge and wadding, took place this afternoon, before the sheikh and a thousand spectators. The distance to which they threw the balls, and the loudness of the report, created the greatest astonishment: but I could not persuade the sheikh to suffer a second canister to be shot: “No, no!” said he, “they are too valuable; they must not be thrown away: curses on their race! how these will make the Begharmis jump!” I had cut them out a harness in paper as a pattern, which had been tolerably made in leather: this was attached to each gun, with a man mounted on the mule that[211] drew it; and altogether the guns had a far better appearance and effect than I expected. The carriages answered extremely well—were very steady; and I much regretted that poor Hillman, to whom all the credit of mounting them belonged, was confined to his mattress, and unable to see how well they answered: but the sheikh’s anxiety would not brook delay.

Nov. 9.—The cool winds which had prevailed for the last fifteen days had so purified the air, that disease appeared to be taking its departure, and a season of health about to succeed in its turn. These long-wished-for breezes generally came on about ten in the forenoon, and continued until two hours after mid-day. They had a great effect on the natives, and appeared considerably to invigorate ourselves. Both Mr. Clapperton and Hillman were now able to walk about with the assistance of a stick: they were both, however, sadly pulled down, and enfeebled.

The two expeditions, one for Kanem and the other to Begharmi, were now said to be in readiness for departing after the feast, or Aid-of-Milaud, which was to be kept on the 16th and two following days. I had determined on accompanying one of them, whether a supply of money arrived or not, as the season of the year was too valuable to be wasted. This was the first opportunity that had offered of a movement to the eastward in any direction, and it was not to be lost. I had one camel and one horse, and, as before, I was determined on taking my chance with the ghrazzie, and faring as well as circumstances would allow me. The feast was ushered in with all the customary rejoicings, and gifts were distributed by all the great people; nor were we forgotten by the sheikh, who sent us two bullocks[40] and three sheep, and two jars of honey, which in our situation was no mean present; for as sickness began to subside amongst us, our appetite increased.

[212]Nov. 21.—The feast, Aid-of-Milaud (the birth-day of Mohammed) is attended with nearly similar rejoicings to the other feast days; but instead of wrestlings amongst the men, the ladies, on this occasion, dance according to the fashion of their country. The motions of the Kouka women, though the least graceful, are certainly the most entertaining; all, however, form a striking contrast to the lascivious movements of the Arab and Barbary dancers—every thing here is modest, and free from any indelicacy. To commence with those of the capital, who also first appear in the circle, the Koukowy advance by twos and threes, and after advancing, retiring, and throwing themselves into various attitudes, accompanied by the music from several drums, they suddenly turn their backs to each other, and suffer those parts which are doomed to endure the punishment for all the offences of our youth to come together with all the force they can muster, and she who keeps her equilibrium and destroys that of her opponent, is greeted by cheers and shouts, and is led out of the ring by two matrons, covering her face with her hands. They sometimes come together with such violence as to burst the belt of beads which all the women of rank wear round their bodies just above the hips, and showers of beads would fly in every direction: some of these belts are twelve or sixteen inches wide, and cost fifteen or twenty dollars. Address is, however, often attended, in these contests, with better success than strength; and a well managed feint exercised at the moment of the expected concussion, even when the weight of metal would be very unequal, oftentimes brings the more weighty tumbling to the ground, while the other is seen quietly seated on the spot where she had with great art and agility dropt herself. The Shouaas were particularly happy in these feints, which were practised in different ways, either by suddenly slipping on one side, sitting or lying down. I had not seen so many pretty women together since leaving England, for, as compared with the negresses, the Shouaas are almost white, and their features particularly[213] handsome; such an assembly was to us novel and gratifying. I was, however, sometimes surprised to find how much I became accustomed to the sight of these swarthy beauties, even so as to be able to look at them with pleasure. The women of Bornou and Begharmi danced with a much slower motion, and accompanied themselves by singing: the former wear simply a blue wrapper or scarf over the shoulders, and holding each end of the wrapper with the arms extended, frequently threw themselves into very pleasing and graceful, if not elegant, attitudes; while the latter, with their hands before them, sometimes clasped together, sometimes crossed on the breast, and sometimes with only just the tips of the fingers meeting à la Madonna, appeared to sing a tale of extreme interest to the bystanders; this was accompanied by sinkings of the body, and bendings of the head, from side to side—all finished by sitting down and covering their faces, when they were led out of the circle by the elder women.

The Arabs and chiefs from Angornou and the neighbouring towns came into Kouka in the evening, and the sheikh, accompanied by full one thousand horsemen, rode round the walls, preceded by seven flags, and after praying at some distance, returned to the palace: his new-trained footmen with guns were present, who skirmished with the horse: and on asking me how they fired, he said, “I have full two hundred guns—where are the Begharmis now?—the dogs!” This was repeated the two following days: blessings were asked on the expedition about to depart, and the disposition made. Two days out of three I accompanied them, and rode for a short time by his side, and very much pleased he appeared to be by the attention. We had no news, however, of the courier, and our spirits were greatly depressed by the report of his being lost on the road.

Nov. 25.—The season of the year had arrived when the sovereigns of these countries go out to battle, and the dread of the[214] bashaw’s expedition had prevented the sheikh from making an inroad into the Begharmi country; they, in consequence, took the opportunity of attacking him, notwithstanding their discomfiture in five different former expeditions, when at least twenty thousand poor creatures were slaughtered, and three-fourths of that number at least driven into slavery. The Begharmis had once more come down to the south side of the Shary, and induced the people of Loggun to declare for them. The boats of Loggun were to bring the Begharmis over the river, and then all were to pour into the sheikh’s dominions. We were in sad confusion at Kouka on hearing the news, and the sheikh prepared to muster his forces with all despatch.

Nov. 29.—At our audience this morning we were detained for some time, while a case was decided in which several Kanemboo chiefs were charged with not having, on some former occasions, treated the sheikh’s people with kindness. The disaffected sheikhs were buffeted even in the presence, by the Bornouese, taken out, and three of the worst of them strangled in the court-yard[41].

Dec. 3.—Although, by the arrival of a messenger from Munga, the immediate alarm of the Felatah attack from the south-west was considerably abated, yet they continued increasing in force, and at not more than five days distance. The Begharmis were also still on the south bank of the Shary, close to the river, and unless alarmed by the sheikh’s preparations, were confidently reported to have the intention of attacking him when the waters had sufficiently subsided to render it practicable, which was expected in less than a month. The expedition for Kanem accordingly left this day, under the charge of Ali Gana, the sheikh’s kaganawha[42], and next in command after Barca Gana, and another was said to be intended to the south-west.

The news of the last month, both from the Begharmi side and[215] the Kanem, from the south-east and the east, had been of the worst description: a direful war of extermination had been for years carried on between Bornou and Begharmi, the fury of which had not in the least abated. No males were spared on either side, except on terms worse perhaps than death. The sultan of Bornou had more than two hundred youths under twenty, from Begharmi, in his harem, as eunuchs; while the sultan of Begharmi (who was said to have nearly one thousand wives) had treble that number of unfortunate Bornouese and Kanemboo eunuchs, chosen out of the most healthy young men who had fallen into his hands as prisoners, and spared from the general massacre for the purpose of serving him in that capacity. Even the moral, and in many respects the amiable, sheikh had more than thirty Begharmi lads thus qualified to enter the apartments of his wives and princesses.

As I was one day taking shelter, in the portico of the sheikh’s garden, from the violence of a sudden storm of rain, the chief of those privileged persons brought me to see about a dozen of this corps, who were just recovering from the ordeal of initiation, which they had gone through: thin and emaciated, though fed and taken the greatest care of (for they become extremely valuable, and will sell to any Turkish merchant for two hundred and fifty or three hundred dollars), these poor remnants of promising healthy young men passed before me. I could not contain my emotion, or disguise the distress which was apparent in my countenance, so that the old hardened chief of the seraglio, who seemed happy that so many of his fellow-creatures were reduced to the same standard as himself, exclaimed, “Why, Christian, what signifies all this? they are only Begharmis! dogs! kaffirs! enemies!—they ought to have been cut in four quarters alive, and now they will drink coffee, eat sugar, and live in a palace all their lives.”

The late intelligence from Waday side, by which route I had[216] always indulged hopes of advancing, some distance at least, very much tended to weaken those hopes. The contention between Waday and the sheikh, for the possession and government of Kanem, had, for the last year or two, been violent; and now open hostilities had commenced between him and the sultan. It was true, that no kafila had passed between Bornou and Waday for five years, and the only person that had left the former place, since our arrival, for Waday, had been the young Fighi from Timbuctoo, on his way to Musser (Cairo), who had accompanied a Fakeer[43] on his return to Waday. A party of Shouaas had once, indeed, since our residence at Kouka, come from the borders of the Waday country, beyond Kanem, to sell a few camels; but it was generally supposed here, they came merely as spies: they were the most lawless set themselves; and the account they gave of the road was merely to induce some of the Arab merchants to take their advice, when they would have been the first to plunder them[44]. Since the death of the good sultan Sabon, as he was called, no intercourse had been attempted either from hence, or even from Fezzan. The only man who escaped from the last kafila, five years ago, was now here, and gave the following account of the treatment he received: he was named Abde Nibbe, the confidential servant of the kaghia[45] of the bashaw; and had gone from Tripoli to Waday, by the way of Mourzuk, having been intrusted with a very considerable sum of the kaghia’s, with which he was to trade: they arrived at Waday in safety, and at Wara the capital; and after residing there more than twenty days, during which time he had purchased[217] thirty-seven slaves, and was apparently upon friendly terms with the natives, one morning they entered his hut, seized all his property, stripped and bound him, and, when naked, he was carried before the chief who acted as regent, Sabon’s son the sultan being but an infant. Abde Nibbe there found forty persons, consisting of his fellow-travellers and their followers, bound in the same manner as himself: after being insulted in every possible way, they were taken outside the town, in order to have their throats cut. Abde Nibbe, who was a powerful fellow from Towergha[46], after seeing many of his companions suffer themselves patiently to be massacred, feeling the cord with which his hands were tied but loosely fastened, determined on making an attempt, at least, to save his life: he burst the cord asunder, and ran towards the hills; twice they caught him, and twice he escaped from their keeping, carrying with him three wounds from spears, and one from a knife, which very nearly severed his right hand from his body: night, however, came on, and creeping into a hole, which had been, and still might be, the habitation of a brood of hyænas; there he remained three nights and three days, until raging hunger forced him to quit his retreat—where, however, to go was the question—who could he trust amongst so barbarous a people? One person alone came to his mind as likely to assist him in this extremity—in whose hands alone he conceived his life would be safe. Was it his brother, or his sworn bosom friend? No: it was man’s never failing, last, and best consolation, woman: one to whom he had been kind in his prosperity, whom he had been intimate with; and he felt assured that she would not be ungrateful, and never betray his confidence. Was he mistaken? No: she received him, fed him, washed his wounds, and for seven days concealed him; when, at last, he was discovered, and carried again before the chief. After asking how he escaped, the governor said, “I will keep you in my[218] service, give you a horse, and see whether you will fight as well for me as you did for yourself.” Abde Nibbe remained more than two months in this situation, drawing water, carrying wood, &c. when he heard that a kafila was about to leave Waday, consisting of a few merchants only, the remains of his own, and former ones, who had bought their lives at a very high price: taking advantage, therefore, of a dark night, he once more escaped and joined them. They lent him a gun and some ammunition to protect him from the wild beasts, which were very numerous, and advised his quitting the kafila before day for the woods: he moved nearly parallel with the kafila, and at night again joined them. In this way he moved for five days, when the Waday horsemen gave up the pursuit, and returned without him.

December 14.—Doctor Oudney and Mr. Clapperton left Kouka this day, for Kano, with a kafila of nearly twenty merchants, beside servants: this was the eighth kafila that had gone to Soudan, since our arrival here; and as no other was expected to go for many months in consequence of the non-arrivals from Mourzuk, and the other parts of Fezzan, Doctor Oudney, notwithstanding the extremely debilitated state to which he was reduced, determined on accompanying this, if the sheikh would allow him. El Kanemy not only gave his instant permission, but did his utmost to forward his views, and to secure his safety: he charged Mohammed-el-Wordee, the principal person of the kafila, to assist them in every way, and gave them letters to the sultan of Kattagum, to the sultan of Kano, and also to a Moor, residing at Kano, named Hat-Salah, with whom he had great influence, and to whose care he confided them as friends of his own, and the best of Christians.

December 16.—Yesterday Barca Gana, with an expedition nearly twelve hundred strong, marched to the south-west, to a place called Kaka; from whence he was to proceed against a Felatah town, called Monana, which was said to be the rendezvous for the sheikh’s[219] enemies: his orders, however, were more to ascertain in what strength the Felatah really were, and what were their intentions, than to attack them.

December 21.—To my inexpressible delight, Karouash came with intelligence that a small kafila had arrived at Woodie from Mourzuk, that an Englishman accompanied them, and that this was followed by another, a more numerous one, which they had quitted at Zow.

The following was a day of great anxiety; and on the 23d instant, very soon after daylight, I was overjoyed at seeing, instead of Mr. Tyrwhit, whose bodily infirmities made me always consider his joining me doubtful, a robust, healthy-looking young man, with a double-barrelled gun slung at his back. When he presented himself at the door of my hut, his very countenance was an irresistible letter of introduction, and I opened the packages which were to account for his appearance with considerable eagerness. Mr. Tyrwhit, I found, had been prevented by sickness from profiting by the consul’s recommendation; and that on application being made to the governor of Malta for a substitute, Mr. Toole, an ensign in the 80th regiment, had volunteered to join me, and left Malta at twenty hours’ notice. He had made the long, dangerous, and difficult journey from Tripoli to Bornou, in the short space of three months and fourteen days, having left that place on the 6th of September; and overcoming all obstacles by perseverance and resolution, both at Mourzuk and in the Tibboo country, had arrived here with only the loss of five camels.

The arrival of this kafila with Mr. Toole, and the supplies which he brought, gave a most favourable turn to my situation at Kouka. I had now money, health, and a desirable companion: even an attack might lead to our pursuing an enemy, and by that means getting out of the sheikh’s dominions; and “God send the fair goddess, deep in love with us,” was our constant prayer, as, on the least favourable[220] opportunity offering, I had determined to make a start in one direction or another. At one time, indeed, Pandora’s sealed casket seemed literally to have burst over our heads,—strife, war, famine, falsehood, and a thousand other evils, surrounded us. Still, however, hope remained in the box; so did we attach ourselves to this never-failing sheet-anchor, and despondency took wing as we abandoned ourselves without reserve to the sympathies she inspired.

Jan. 3, 1824.—My friend Tirab, the Shouaa generalissimo, had long promised to kill me an elephant, as he expressed himself; and this day, about noon, a messenger came to our huts, saying, that, after hunting an enormous male elephant for five hours, they had at length brought him to a stand, near Bree, about ten miles north-east of Kouka. Mr. Toole and myself instantly mounted our horses, and, accompanied by a Shouaa guide, we arrived at the spot where he had fallen, just as he breathed his last.

Although not more than twenty-five years old, his tusk measuring barely four feet six inches, he was an immense fellow. His dimensions were as under:

ft. in.
Length from the proboscis to the tail 25 6
Proboscis 7 6
Small teeth 2 10
Foot longitudinally 1 7
Eye 2 by 1½
From the foot to the hip-bone 9 6
From the hip-bone to the back 3 0
Ear 2 by 2 6

I had seen much larger elephants than this alive, when on my last expedition to the Tchad; some I should have guessed sixteen feet in height, and with a tusk probably exceeding six feet in length. The one before me, which was the first I had seen dead, was, however, considered as of more than common bulk and stature;[221] and it was not until the Kanemboo of the town of Bree came out, and by attracting his attention with their yells, and teasing him by hurling spears at his more tender parts, that the Shouaas dared to dismount; when, by ham-stringing the poor animal, they brought him to the ground, and eventually despatched him by repeated wounds in the abdomen and proboscis: five leaden balls had struck him about the haunches, in the course of the chase, but they had merely penetrated a few inches into his flesh, and appeared to give him but little uneasiness. The whole of the next day the road, leading to the spot where he lay, was like a fair, from the numbers who repaired thither for the sake of bringing off a part of the flesh, which is esteemed by all, and even eaten in secret by the first people about the sheikh: it looks coarse, but is better flavoured than any beef I found in the country. Whole families put themselves in motion, with their daughters mounted on bullocks, on this occasion, who, at least, hoped as much would fall to their share as would anoint their heads and persons plentifully with grease at the approaching fsug. The eyes of this noble animal were, though so extremely small in proportion to his body, languid and expressive even in death. His head, which was brought to the town, I had an opportunity of seeing the next day, when I had it opened; and the smallness of the brain is a direct contradiction to the hypothesis, that the size of this organ is in proportion to the sagaciousness of the animal. His skin was a full inch and a half in thickness, and dark gray, or nearly black, hard, and wrinkled: his ears, large and hanging, appeared to me the most extraordinary part about him, particularly from the facility with which he moved them backwards and forwards: his feet are round, undivided, and have four nails, or hoofs, for they cannot be called toes, two in the front of the foot, about an inch in depth, and two inches in length, which join each other, with two smaller ones on each side of the foot. In Africa they are scarcely ever taken alive, but hunted as a sport, for[222] the sake of their flesh; and also in order to obtain their teeth, which, however, as they are generally small, are sold to the merchants for a very trifling profit. The manner of hunting the elephant is simply this: from ten to twenty horsemen single out one of these ponderous animals, and, separating him from the flock by screaming and hallooing, force him to fly with all his speed; after wounding him under the tail, if they can there place a spear, the animal becomes enraged. One horseman then rides in front, whom he pursues with earnestness and fury, regardless of those who press on his rear, notwithstanding the wounds they inflict on him. He is seldom drawn from this first object of his pursuit; and, at last, wearied and transfixed with spears, his blood deluging the ground, he breathes his last under the knife of some more venturesome hunter than the rest, who buries his dagger in the vulnerable part near the abdomen: for this purpose he will creep between the animal’s hinder legs, and apparently expose himself to the greatest danger: when this cannot be accomplished, one or two will ham-string him, while he is baited in the front; and this giant of quadrupeds then becomes comparatively an easy prey to his persecutors.

Jan. 12.—Karouash came to us this evening, with his dark Arab eyes, sparkling with somewhat more than vivacity; and it was not long before we found out the cause. The people of Gulphi, who inhabited a town close to the banks of the Shary, had no other means of raising their grain (the land surrounding their walls being all tributary to the sheikh) than by planting it on the south bank of that river; reaping in the season, and carrying the produce to their city by means of their flat-bottomed boats. They had, of late, been so little interrupted in their agricultural pursuits, by the boats of the neighbouring towns, that a village of huts had sprung up on this portion of land; and labourers, to the number of three or four hundred, resided there constantly. The hostile movements of the Begharmis had, however, made the sheikh’s people more on the alert[223] than formerly; and passing over the river in their own boats, accompanied by several deserters from Gulphi, who, traitor-like, consented to bear arms against the land that gave them birth, and lead its enemies to the pillage of their brethren, the people of Maffatai and Kussery had, a few nights before, made an attack on this village, putting to death all the males, even while they slept; and, as usual, dragging the women and children to their boats, returned to their homes without the loss of a man, after setting fire to all the huts, and more than four hundred stacks of wheat and gussub. The effects produced by this midnight expedition, and which was celebrated by singings and rejoicings throughout Kouka, were indeed of a nature favourable to my prospects, notwithstanding the shock humanity received from the cause. The Begharmis, who had occupied the southern banks of the Shary for months, obliging even the Loggun people to supply them with provisions, took such alarm at this attack of the sheikh’s people, that they struck their camp, and retired immediately on the news reaching them; and the Loggun nation as quickly sent off to the sheikh a deputation, with sixty slaves, and three hundred bullocks, congratulating him on the event.

I determined on making immediate application for permission to visit this country; so full of interest, both from its situation, and the waters by which it was reported to be bounded. No time was to be lost, for the return of the enemy might be as sudden as his flight; and again I might have my intentions frustrated. I had been eleven months endeavouring to visit this country—but to climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.

Jan. 18.—The sheikh, who had never, on any one occasion, neglected making every possible arrangement for carrying my wishes into execution, had not only instantly complied with my request to seize this opportunity of visiting Loggun, but sent this morning Karouash to advise with me as to my proceedings, and to[224] recommend my going without loss of time. “Bellal shall go with you,” said he; “who has been in my confidence for seventeen years, and to whom I could trust my own life, or that of my children, who are even dearer to me than life itself.”

But in the morning we found a brown horse, which had carried Mr. Toole from Tripoli, dead within our inclosure: both this and a black one, which his Arab had been mounted on by the bashaw, had scarcely eaten any thing since their arrival here. Our departure was therefore put off for this day. Troubles, however, never come alone. In the evening the camels I intended to take with me were missing; and although the people were out looking for them until midnight, we had no tidings. In the night I was called up, as Mr. Toole’s other horse was dying: no blood could be got from him; and after staggering about, in a way resembling intoxication, he died before daylight.

Jan. 22.—Karouash, Ben Taleb, and even the sheikh, now exclaiming against our going out, “Wonderful! Wonderful!” said they, “it is written you are not to go.” The delay perplexed me, although to go, and quickly, I was determined; the time was precious, for I did not wish the news of my intentions to precede me. Towards night my camels were found; and the sheikh, hearing that we had been inquiring for a horse to purchase, sent a very smart black galloway to Mr. Toole as a present. We had now seen die on our hands, in the space of nine months, thirty-three camels, six horses, and one mule.

On the 23d I intended being off by daylight; but it was the afternoon before I could accomplish my wish. The sheikh had given me Bellal: “He will obey your orders in every thing,” said he; “but you are going amongst people with whom I have but little influence.” Bellal, who was one of the handsomest negroes I almost ever saw, and a superior person, was attended by six of his slaves, two of whom were mounted; these, with ourselves and two camels, formed[225] our party. While I was waiting to take leave of the sheikh, a note was brought me from Dr. Oudney, by a Bornouese from Katagum: it had no date, and was indeed his last effort. The acknowledgment of being weak and helpless assured me that he was really so; for during the whole of his long sufferings a complaint had scarcely ever escaped his lips. On the sheikh’s saying to him, when he first expressed his wish to accompany the kafila, “Surely your health is not such as to risk such a journey?” he merely replied, “Why, if I stay here, I shall die, and probably sooner, as travelling always improves my health.”

His letter, though short, expresses great satisfaction at the treatment he had met with on his journey, and also from the inhabitants of the country.



[34]The most beautiful Jewess in Tripoli is called Mesrouda-eyum el Oubara (Mesrouda, with the eye of the Oubara).

[35]The anniversary of Abraham’s offering up Isaac, or the meeting of Pilgrims at Mecca.

[36]Strips of cotton, so many fathoms of which go to a dollar.

[37]Abyssinian hornbill.

[38]In Tripoli, the father or mother is generally the executioner, to avenge the sin, and at the same time wipe the stain from the family, and prevent public execution.

[39]Marry her.

[40]The horn of one of these animals measured two feet, six inches, and three-quarters, in circumference.

[41]On these occasions the sheikh merely moves his finger, which is the signal for immediate execution.

[42]Black Mameluke.

[43]A religious mendicant: the name is nearly the Arabic for poverty.

[44]Soon after this, I made an offer to two Arabs, both of whom had formerly been at Waday, that I would give them each two hundred dollars, if they would accompany me: this is a sum for which an Arab will almost do any thing; but they refused, saying “No! no! what is money without life? the Waday people will kill us all.”

[45]Governor of the palace.

[46]A town near Mesurata.


Jan. 1824.—We passed the night of the 24th at Angornou, and proceeded, without leaving the lake at any great distance, for two days, when we arrived at Angala, one of the ancient governments subject to Bornou. The present sultan was the first friend and supporter of El Kanemy; and, twenty-five years ago, when he was only a merchant, betrothed to him his daughter Miram in marriage, with a large dower in slaves and cattle. The sultan, a most benevolent-looking old black, received us with great kindness and hospitality; and as soon as we were lodged in the house of the delatoo (prime minister), bowls of milk, rice, flour, and honey, were brought to us; an abundance of eatables were also sent in the evening, and the next morning a very fine live sheep.

Miram (princess in the Bornou language), now the divorced wife of the sheikh El Kanemy, was residing at Angala, and I requested permission to visit her. Her father had built for her a very fine house, in which she constantly resided: her establishment exceeded sixty persons. She was a very handsome, beautifully formed negress, of about thirty-five, and had imbibed much of that softness of manner which is so extremely prepossessing in the sheikh. Seated on an earthen throne, covered with a turkey carpet, and surrounded by twenty of her favourite slaves, all dressed alike, in fine white shirts, which reached to their feet, their necks, ears, and noses thickly ornamented with coral; she held her audience with very considerable[227] grace, while four eunuchs guarded the entrance; and a negro dwarf, who measured three feet all but an inch, the keeper of her keys, sat before her with the insignia of office on his shoulder, and richly dressed in Soudan tobes. This little person afforded us a subject of conversation, and much laughter. Miram inquired whether we had such little fellows in my country, and when I answered in the affirmative, she said, “Ah gieb! what are they good for? do they ever have children?” I answered “Yes; that we had instances of their being fathers to tall and proper men.” “Oh, wonderful!” she replied: “I thought so; they must be better then than this dog of mine; for I have given him eight of my handsomest and youngest slaves, but it is all to no purpose. I would give a hundred bullocks, and twenty slaves, to the woman who would bear this wretch a child.” The wretch, and an ugly wretch he was, shook his large head, grinned, and slobbered copiously from his extensive mouth, at this flattering proof of his mistress’s partiality.

We left Angala the following day, to the great distress of our host, the delatoo, who would have feasted us for a week. A child had been borne by one of his wives, just about the time Dr. Oudney had passed through on his visit to Showy; which, in return for his prescriptions, the delatoo had named Tibeeb, the Doctor’s travelling name. Indeed, there was a liberality of feeling and toleration about our host deserving most honourable mention; and when, on my return from Loggun, worn out by fatigue and anxiety, I really required nursing, he introduced his sister, a female of most matronly deportment, who superintended the process of shampooing, which was performed by one of her best looking and most accomplished handmaids. On my expressing my thanks to the delatoo for these unlooked-for attentions, he replied, “It grieved us all to see so great a man as yourself, so far from home, a stranger and without women; when in your own country, ‘gray hairs to you!’ you have, at least, a hundred, I dare say!”

[228]On the 23d we reached Showy, on the banks of the river Shary: the magnitude of the stream drew from us both an involuntary exclamation of surprise; it appeared to be full half a mile in width, running at the rate of two to three[47] miles an hour, in the direction nearly of north. In the centre of the river is a beautiful island, nearly a mile in length, in front of the town. Showy forms part of the district of Maffatai, and is governed by a kaid: and this person, who treated us with great attention, proposed that we should proceed down the stream to the Tchad, according to the sheikh’s directions.

On the 2d of February we embarked, accompanied by the kaid and eight canoes, carrying ten and eleven men each: ploughing the stream with their paddles, for nearly eight hours, they brought us, by sunset, to a spot called Joggabah (or island, in the Mekkari language), about thirty-five miles from Showy. The river, full as it is of water at this season, had a highly interesting appearance: one noble reach succeeded another, alternately varying their courses by handsome sweeps, some of them three and four miles in length; the banks were thickly scattered with trees rich in foliage, and all hung over with creeping plants, bearing various coloured and aromatic blossoms, amongst which the purple convolvolus flourished in great beauty: several crocodiles, from eight to fifteen feet in length, were slumbering on the banks, which, on our near approach, rolled into the stream, and disappeared in an instant. The natives appeared to fear them but little in shallow water, but dived in with great boldness after the ducks we shot, and a large iguana that we struck while sleeping on a tamarind tree, and which fell headlong into the river. Joggabah is a beautiful feature in the scenery, as well as a prominent[229] one; and is seen for nearly six miles in proceeding down a very wide, handsome reach, which we called Belle-vue Reach. The river is here quite as wide as at Showy, which, with this exception, I take to be the widest part.

Drawn by Captn. Clapperton. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

This island is high ground, with steep and nearly perpendicular banks, and a depth of ten feet water close to the edge: the canoes moor up to the shore; the stream runs strong and clear; and the landing is on a fine dry sandy beach: it extends to the Tchad north, a distance of twelve or fifteen miles, and has two handsome streams bounding it, which run north-east and north-west, and by which the Shary takes its way into that immense lake. It abounds with game: and we had fish in abundance, venison, the flesh of a buffalo, and wild ducks, for supper, all roasted on wooden spits.

We pitched our tent on the jutting head, where, a few years ago, stood a negro town: the inhabitants, however, were refractory, committed piracies on the Showy people, and in consequence the sheikh determined on exterminating them. They were in league with the Biddoomah, who were now kept to their own islands. Joggabah we found uninhabited, and covered with jungle and prickly underwood, in that part where we passed the night: we saw thirty porcupines, and killed a centipede and two scorpions under our mats. We had two canoes rowing guard the whole night on account of the Biddoomah. By daylight we re-embarked, and proceeded by the north-west branch for more than two hours, keeping nearly the same direction: we passed several marshy floating islands, covered with rushes, high grass, and papyrus, apparently dividing the water into different streams, when we found ourselves in that sea of fresh water, the Tchad, which we named Lake Waterloo, and into which the Shary empties itself. It was my intention to have proceeded quite round the island to the east, and to have returned by the other branch; but after making about two miles in the open[230] lake, a heavy swell from the north-east caused so much water to come into the canoes, and so much labour to the men, that we gave up that idea. After our return to the south side of the island we followed the north-east branch, and found it vary but little in appearance. During our passage, by keeping the deepest water, and avoiding the convexities of the stream, we, at this season, met with no impediments; and had nowhere less than three feet water. We passed many small islands, all of which, near the mouth, were destitute of trees, but covered with reeds (among which was the papyrus), bamboos, and very tall grasses: the quantity of water-fowl was immense, of great variety, and beautiful plumage. The nearest Biddoomah island is said to be three days voyage on the open lake, from the mouth of the river, in a north-east direction, say ninety miles, during two of which these canoes lose sight of land: with an excellent telescope I could discern nothing but the waste of waters to the north or east. The Biddoomah are a wild and independent people, who carry on a piratical war with all their neighbours: they send out fleets of sixty or one hundred canoes; and they are reported as terrible kaffirs.

We now commenced our return, and a laborious business it was, rowing or paddling against the stream: the paddles were only resorted to when, now and then, a headland sheltered them from the wind and current; and so cautious were the men of Showy, that it was near midnight before we landed on a spot named Buffalo Bank. We had endured two days of burning heat and exposure to the sun, and a night of watchfulness and torture from the insects; added to this, we had lived entirely on Indian corn, boiled in the canoes during the day: we were also constantly ankle deep in water, from the leaking of the canoes. The banks were here, for some miles inland, thickly clothed with handsome trees encompassed by creeping shrubs in full blossom, while large antelopes and buffaloes were starting from the[231] thickets where they had fixed their lairs. We disturbed a flock of several buffaloes on our making the shore; and hippopotami came so close to us as to be struck by the paddles: here, and at the confluence of the two branches, we found the greatest depth of water. The most desirable route for us now to have pursued would have been to have gone from hence to Loggun by water, but Gulphi lay in our way, and it was impossible. To follow the direction of the river, therefore, as nearly as we could, by moving in a line parallel to its banks, became our next anxiety.

Previously, however, we again embarked, and visited a spot called Dugheia, within a day’s journey of Gulphi, higher up the stream. Dugheia is a ford and a ferry, where the sheikh, with all his people, pass the stream on their expeditions against the Begharmis: the ford is in a slanting direction, and between two sinuosities. When the river is at its greatest height, the water reaches up to the neck; it was now not above the arm-pits of a good sized man. The infantry, placing their spears and bags of corn on their heads, in their shields, cross with ease: the cavalry are moved over in canoes, and the horses swam at the sterns. The appearance of the river is similar both above and below Showy: excepting that above there are more picturesque islands; on one of which we passed the night, and named it Red Heron Isle, as my poor friend shot there a bird of that species.

On the 8th of February we returned to Showy, and the day following pursued our route by Willighi and Affadai. Willighi is a walled town of considerable strength; indeed the Begharmis always pass it by on their predatory excursions. The walls are nearly fifty feet high, with watch-towers erected on the salient angles, where there are constant sentinels. The sultan also lives in a sort of citadel with double walls, and three heavy gates in each wall, strongly bound with iron. Borgomanda, the reigning sultan of[232] Begharmi, and Cheromah (which means heir-apparent), send annual presents to Mai Dundelmah, the sultan of Willighi; but he is a hadgi, and holds the sheikh of Bornou in too high estimation to forsake his fortunes. Before arriving at Willighi, which is only a day’s journey from Gulphi, we recrossed the Gurdya, a considerable stream running from the Shary into the great lake.

Feb. 10.—We left Willighi, after presenting the sultan with two knives, two pairs of scissors, a turban, and a red cap, and in about two hours arrived at another ford of the water Maffatai. These fords are known by the natives of the neighbouring towns only, who are always hired as guides. The water was up to the body of the horse; and a weak camel, by encountering the load of another, was thrown off the causeway into twelve or fourteen feet of water. We crossed, this day, three deep marshes, besides the river, which, the Willighi guide informed us, extended to the river, at one of which we were detained nearly an hour before we could venture a passage: the water reached to our saddles. After the rainy season, canoes come from Showy to the neighbourhood of Willighi, for a wood which is here abundant, called by the natives kagam, and another called korna, with which they build their canoes, and make their paddles. The fruit, also, of a species of locust tree, which the natives call kadellaboo, is here gathered. We rested under the shade of a beautiful large tree of this description, bearing a flower of a deep crimson colour; a yellow jessamine, with a delicious odour, was creeping around it, while other delicate aromatic plants grew in wild profusion. Nevertheless, the paths through these woods, though literally strewed with flowers, were nearly impassable from the overhanging branches of thorny shrubs, which not only tore our shirts and cloaks, but were sufficiently strong to drag the loads from the backs of the camels: we were nearly twelve hours in making twenty-two miles. When we arrived at the town of Affadai, our[233] people were too tired to cook the rice we had with us, and the kadi merely sent us flour and water paste, and leban (sour milk): at the same time promising to kill a sheep the next day, if we would stay. We, however, departed early on the following morning, and came, towards evening, to a place called Kala, a wretched nest of huts, although surrounded by a wall, and having strong gates.

On the 12th we moved on, and, after crossing a long and deep marsh, we halted, about noon, for an hour or two, at a town called Alph, which stood on a foundation of earth artificially raised in the midst of a swamp extending for miles in every direction. We shot several cranes; one of a beautiful white, with a yellow beak, and dark hazel eyes, with a yellow rim. We now began to approach Kussery, and again came to the banks of the river Shary, leaving Gulphi to the eastward. This route is but seldom traversed: it is a continued succession of marshes, swamps, and stagnant waters, abounding with useless and rank vegetation: flies, bees, and mosquitos, with immense black toads, vie with each other in a display of their peace-destroying powers.

I had, with grief, for several days, observed in my companion symptoms which gave me great uneasiness: his stomach constantly refused our coarse food of fish and paste; but as he complained but little, I hoped a day or two at Kussery would restore his wonted good health and spirits. Kussery, however, unfortunately, was the last place one should have chosen for rest and tranquillity: during several hours in the day, the inhabitants themselves dare not move out, on account of the flies and bees. The formation of the houses, which are literally one cell within another, five or six in number, excited my surprise; which was not a little increased when I found that they were built expressly as a retreat from the attacks of these insects. Still I was incredulous, until one of our people, who had carelessly gone out, returned with his eyes and head in such a state, that he was extremely ill for three days. Kussery is a strong walled[234] town, governed by an independent sultan, named Zarmawha, who has twice been in rebellion against the sheikh. Bellal was obliged to take off his red cap and turban, and enter the presence with his head and feet bare—a ceremony which had previously been dispensed with on our journey. The sultan merely peeped at us through a lattice-work of bamboo, but inquired particularly, why I turned my face towards him as I sat. I, of course, replied, that turning my back would be, in my country, a gross affront; at which he laughed heartily. We had a separate letter to this prince from the sheikh: he seemed, however, to pay but little respect to it, or the bearer, Bellal, while to me he was most attentive. We had ten dishes of fish and paste, which regaled our attendants sumptuously; and one of his own household took up his residence at our huts. The fish was stale, and offensive to more senses than one, which the natives rather prefer, as we do game that has hung some time. The sultan’s officer, however, seeing that I could not touch these Kussery delicacies, quickly brought me a mess made of fresh fish, which, though a little oily, was not unpalatable, with a large bowl of leban. Salt is here scarcely known, and therefore not eaten with any of their meals: out of the small stock I had brought, the townspeople were always begging little lumps, which they put into their mouths, and sucked with as much satisfaction as if it had been barley sugar.

I gave the sultan, in the morning, a parcel of beads, two pairs of scissors, a knife, two turkadees, and a turban; on which he said “we were a great people, a race of sultans, and would bring good fortune to his dominions!” I must not omit to mention a visit which I received from the sultan’s sister. She had been some time divorced from her husband, who had gone over to the Begharmis. The officer in attendance on us announced her with great secrecy, about ten o’clock at night. For the only light in our hut we were indebted to the pale moonbeams which shone through the door-way, as we had[235] neither candles nor lamp; and I had been some time fast asleep when she arrived. Her attendants, three in number, waited for her at the entrance, while she advanced and sat herself down beside my mat: she talked away at a great rate, in a sort of whisper, often pointing to my sick friend, who was at the further end of the hut; and did not appear at all to wish for any reply. After remaining nearly half an hour, and feeling and rubbing repeatedly my hands, face, and head, which she uncovered by taking off my cap and turban, she took her leave, apparently much gratified by her visit.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published by John Murray, London. Feb. 1826.

The river here is a wide, handsome stream, and the walls extend quite to the banks, and have two water-gates; the character is the same as nearer its embouchure. I passed one of these water-gates at sunset, and was much struck by the beauty of the landscape, with the fishing canoes just returning towards Loggun: the stream sweeps off to the south-south-west, and then to the south. Loggun was said to be thirty miles distant by the river. Here my poor friend declared it impossible to remain, and we moved on towards Loggun the next morning. We could advance, however, but a few miles. Mr. Toole’s sufferings were most acute; he twice fainted, and we lifted him on and off his horse like an infant, so helpless had he become. What added also to our distress was, that from this time until the evening of the 16th, the Shouaa Arabs, who occupy the frontier of the Loggun country, refused to allow us to pass until the sultan had been consulted, and a number of his questions answered as to the purpose of our visit. We were now close to the river, and notwithstanding the heat, the only means we had of defending either ourselves or our animals from the torture of the millions of insects that beset us, was by lighting fires at the entrance of our tent, and constantly supplying them with weeds and wet straw: the thick suffocating smoke arising from this description of fire afforded us temporary relief. I rode down to the river, which here flows with great beauty and majesty past the high walls of this[236] capital of Loggun; it comes direct from the south-west, with a rapid current. We entered the town by the western gate, which leads to the principal street: it is as wide as Pall Mall, and has large dwellings on each side, built with great uniformity, each having a court-yard in front, surrounded by walls, and a handsome entrance, with a strong door hasped with iron: a number of the inhabitants were seated at their doors for the purpose of seeing us enter, with their slaves ranged behind them. At first they took but little notice of us: indeed, our appearance could not have been very imposing: one of our party was laid on a camel, and another supported on his horse by two persons, who walked on each side of him, while he raved most incoherently from the violence of the fever by which he was consuming. At length, however, a person of apparent consequence advanced towards my horse, bending nearly double, and joining his hands (the first salutation of the kind that I had seen), followed by his slaves stooping still lower than himself. After explaining that he was deputed by the sultan to welcome kab n’jaffy (the white man), and repeating frequently that he was kaffama (my friend), he preceded our party; and, as we moved on, each assembly that we passed rose from the ground, advanced towards us, and saluted us in the same manner as I have already described. We were at length conducted to our habitation, which consisted of four separate huts, well built, within an outer wall, with a large entrance hall for our servants: in the most retired and quiet spot I spread the mat and pillow of my patient, who was in a sad state of exhaustion and irritation.

The next morning I was sent for to appear before the sultan: ten immense negroes, of high birth, most of them gray-bearded, bare-headed, and carrying large clubs, preceded me through the streets, and I was received with considerable ceremony. After passing through several dark rooms, I was conducted to a large square court, where some hundred persons were assembled, and all[237] seated on the ground: in the middle was a vacant space, to which they led me, and I was desired to sit down also. Two slaves, in striped cotton tobes, who were fanning the air through a lattice-work of cane, pointed out the retirement of the sultan. On a signal, this shade was removed, and something alive was discovered on a carpet, wrapped up in silk tobes, with the head enveloped in shawls, and nothing but the eyes visible: the whole court prostrated themselves, and poured sand on their heads, while eight frumfrums and as many horns blew a loud and very harsh-sounding salute.

My present, a red bornouse, a striped cotton caftan, a turban, two knives, two pairs of scissors, and a pair of red trowsers, was laid before him: he again whispered a welcome, for it is considered so extremely ill-bred in a Loggun gentleman to speak out, that it is with difficulty you can catch the sound of their voices.

He examined me very minutely, when the shade was again drawn. I begged for permission to embark on the Shary, and was told he would consider of it. He particularly inquired if I wished to purchase b’lowy, or handsome female slaves, which I assured him I did not; “because,” said he, “if you do, go no farther: I have some hundreds, and will sell them to you as cheap as any one.”

Loggun, the capital of which country (Kernuk) is on the banks of the Shary, and in 11° 7′ north latitude, is a very populous country. Kernuk has fifteen thousand inhabitants at least. They speak a language nearly Begharmi. The Shouaas are all round them, and to them they are indebted for the plentiful supply of bullocks, milk, and fat, with which the market abounds: these necessaries are paid for by tobes, and blue cotton in stripes, which the Loggun people make and dye of a very beautiful colour. They have, also, a metal currency in Loggun, the first I had seen in Negroland: it consists of thin plates of iron, something in the shape of the tip with which they shoe race-horses: these are made into parcels of ten and twelve,[238] according to the weight, and thirty of these parcels are equal in value to ten rottola, or a dollar.


The money market, however, of Loggun, has its fluctuations: the value of this “circulating medium” is settled by proclamation, at the commencement of the weekly market, every Wednesday; and speculations are made, by the bulls and bears, according to their belief of its rise or fall. Previous to the sultan’s receiving tribute or duty on bullocks or indigo, the delatoo generally proclaims the currency to be below par; while, on the contrary, when he has purchases to make for his household, preparatory to one of their feasts, the value of the metal is invariably increased. The proclamation of the value of the metal always excites an amazing disturbance, as if some were losers and some gainers by the variation.

They are a much handsomer race than the Bornouese, and far[239] more intelligent—the women particularly so; and they possess a superior carriage and manner to any negro nation I had seen. The ladies of the principal persons of the country visited me, accompanied by one or more female slaves. They examined every thing, even to the pockets of my trowsers; and more inquisitive ladies I never saw in any country: they begged for every thing, and nearly all attempted to steal something; when found out, they only laughed heartily, clapped their hands together, and exclaimed, “Why, how sharp he is! Only think! Why he caught us!” If they may be said to excel my Bornou friends in accomplishments, they fall far behind them in modesty. They are passionately fond of cloves, which, when pounded and mixed with fat, they rub over their hair and skin. To give them their due, they are the cleverest and the most immoral race I had met with in the Black country.

I was not a little surprised the next day at hearing that there were two sultans, father and son, both at the head of strong parties, and both equally fearing and hating each other: that I had seen the son, but that it was absolutely necessary to give the elder at least as much as I had given the younger one. I remonstrated; but Bellal assured me that his slaves were the most expert thieves in the kingdom—that no walls could stop them if the sultan once gave the word “Forage.” There was no alternative; so putting ten dollars in a stocking, and tying up in a French silk handkerchief two strings of coral, and a few cloves, with six gilt basket-buttons, I presented him with them, and had the pleasure of hearing that his majesty was highly gratified by the present. Of the bad terms on which these rival sultans were, notwithstanding their consanguinity, I had pretty good proofs, by their both sending to me for poison in secret; “that would not lie,” to use their own expression. The mai n’bussa, the young sultan, as the son was called, sent me three female slaves, under fifteen years of age, as an inducement; whom I returned, explaining, in pretty strong terms, our[240] abhorrence of such proceedings; for which I had the satisfaction of hearing myself, and all my countrymen, pronounced fools a hundred times over.

On the 19th, my poor colleague seemed a little better: he had slept, and was more calm and easier. I left him in the morning for the purpose of proceeding up the river, and returning the next day, or the day after that. The Shary, after leaving Kussery, makes a sweep nearly due south, when it winds to the south-west; and nearly on the apex of the sinuosity, if I may so express myself, stands the capital of Loggun. The river is here not more that 400 yards in breadth. The canoes are different from those of Showy, measuring nearly fifty feet in length, and capable of carrying twenty or twenty-five persons: they are built of two fine-grained woods, called kagam and birgam, which grow in abundance along the banks from Williky to Loggun: the planks are often from two to three feet wide.

It was near noon, when we had ascended but a few miles, that a canoe was seen following our track, with a speed denoting some extraordinary occurrence; and on their reaching us, and reporting the cause of this haste, such confusion took place amongst my party, that out of seven canoes which accompanied me, not one remained; all made for the shore; and it was with some difficulty that we could persuade our own to return with us to Loggun. We now found that the Begharmis were again on the Medba, and coming towards Loggun. The sultan, on our return, sent for us, and desired the sheikh’s people to quit his dominions instanter. I told him that I came expressly to remain some time; that Bellal might return; but that for myself, I was his subject, and must remain under his protection; added to which I had a sick friend, and a sick servant, and that I could not move. This, however, he would not hear of. Bellal was desired to quit Loggun, and to take all of us with him. “More than half my people are Begharmi,” said the sultan; “I have no protection to give—go, go! while you can.” Obliged to obey, I[241] raised my suffering friend, who was unable to assist himself in any way: we set him on a horse, and with no provisions but a sack of parched corn, which the sultan gave us, at four o’clock the same day we quitted the walls, when the three gates were shut upon us, one after the other, with great satisfaction, by an immense crowd of people.

It was late at night when we halted near some deserted cattle sheds, of the Shouaa Arabs, who had fled; and in one of which we laid my exhausted companion, while I kept watch on the outside. From this time, until the night of the 21st, when we came to a small village called Tilley, on the banks of Gambalarum, we had scarcely any rest, and but little food. Bellal and his slaves becoming impatient, I had ridden on with him in front, for the purpose of keeping him always in sight, while I left Mr. Toole in charge of Columbus, who was sufficiently recovered to attend to all his wants; occasionally, however, going back myself, and urging them to keep up as much as possible. It had now been dark for four hours, and the road was winding, thickly wooded, and intricate. Bellal proceeded to search for the ford, preparatory to crossing the stream: to this I decidedly objected, until our companions and baggage came up; knowing that our doing so must depend on the state of my patient. He made various objections, but as I dismounted, and began gathering wood for a signal-fire, he gave up the point: they answered immediately the glare of the flame, and curling smoke, by a shot; and Bellal and I proceeded in the direction of the sound, for the purpose of conducting them to the spot we had rested on: a second and a third shot, however, were necessary before we could meet, so intricate were the paths. I found Mr. Toole perfectly senseless, and we laid him on a bed of unripe indigo, near our fire, wrapped up in his blanket, while a little warm tea was prepared for him, and he soon after fell into a sound sleep. Bellal now recommenced searching for the ford, which I allowed him to do; fully determined, however, not to disturb my companion until morning, unless the danger of[242] our situation should increase: he returned soon after midnight, and pronounced the river not fordable, either above or below the town. We were obliged, therefore, to load instantly, and proceed by a more northerly route, where our danger was greater. My companion allowed himself to be moved, with great patience; and Bellal, of whose bravery and kind-heartedness I had seen many proofs, shed tears on observing the sad change, which disease had effected in my once lively and active comrade. He declared that his anxiety was more on our account than on his own, as he never would see the sheikh’s face, or Kouka, if any thing happened to us. We passed the walls of Affadai soon after daylight, from whence the people were flying in all directions, and rested for the night at Yrun, after fording the river at Solon: here the natives had determined on making a stand; and three of the four gates were built up, while the fourth had only space sufficient left for a man to force himself through. The kaid sent to invite us to remain; and furnished us with milk, and fresh fish, as well as with corn for our half-famished animals. We raised a tent over Mr. Toole, where he lay on the ground, and twice, during the night, gave him rice and tea; after which, to my inexpressible delight, he slept. On the following day we reached Angala, a place of comparative safety, and where we were sure of protection. On passing over the plain which leads to this city, I shot a very large korrigum, a species of antelope, with long annulated horns, nearly as large as a red deer. At Angala we took up our old quarters, at the house of the delatoo; and Mr. Toole, on being told where he was, exclaimed “Thank God! then I shall not die!” And so much better was he for the two following days, that I had great hopes of his recovery: about four o’clock, however, on the morning of the 26th of February, those hopes were at an end. A cold shivering had seized him, and his extremities were like ice. I gave him both tea and rice-water; and there was but little alteration in him, until just before noon, when, without a struggle or a groan, he expired, completely worn out and exhausted.

[243]The same afternoon, just as the sun was sinking below the horizon, I followed his remains to their last resting-place, a deep grave, which six of the sultan of Angala’s slaves had prepared, under my direction, to the north-west of the town, overhung by a clump of mimosas in full blossom. The delatoo, or prime minister, attended the procession with his staff of office, and a silent prayer breathed over all that remained of my departed friend, was the best funeral service circumstances allowed me to perform. After raising over the grave a pile of thorns and branches of the prickly tulloh, several feet high, as a protection against the flocks of hyænas, who nightly infest the burying-places in this country, I returned to the town. In the course of my life, I had seen many of my less fortunate companions pay the great debt of nature—their deaths generally caused by severe and painful battle wounds; but the recollections left on my mind by the calm departure of my amiable and suffering companion exceeded all former ones in acuteness—proving, that in grief, as in pleasure, sensations of the more quiet and gentle kind often make a deeper impression on the heart than those of a fiercer or more violent nature. Not by me alone, however, was he lamented even here; so pleasing were his manners, and so various his acquirements, that his friends and relations have much to regret in his loss; but they may also be proud of having had him for a connexion.

Mr. Toole possessed qualifications which rendered him particularly useful on a service of this nature. He was persevering and intrepid, and of a most obliging, cheerful, and kind disposition: only once did he declare his incapability to proceed, and refused to be lashed on the camel; but when I sat down on the ground beside him, and Bellal and the sheikh’s people prepared to leave us, he cried out, “No! no! heed me not: tie me on once more; but, pray, gently: you will not leave me alone! and I shall be the cause of others falling into unnecessary peril.”

If the readiness with which he volunteered his services to the government of Malta, to join me at Bornou, entitles him to[244] praise, his manner of performing the journey from Tripoli gives him a claim to still greater. Including his delays, which were several and vexatious, he arrived in one hundred and eight days at Kouka, which, considering the people he had to deal with, required very extraordinary efforts, great temper, and good management. Notwithstanding the expedition he used, but five camels died on this long journey, which, for a commencement, was a very severe campaign; and his constitution, though strong, was not sufficiently seasoned to support the fatigues and privations to which he was from necessity exposed.

Mr. Toole had scarcely completed his twenty-second year, and was in every sense a most amiable and promising young officer. To his fate he was perfectly resigned; and on the day previous to that of his death, when I mentioned to him his return to Kouka, he smiled, shook his head, and said, “No! no! it is all over.” Nearly his last words were expressive of hopes that, through Earl Bathurst’s recommendation, his next brother might succeed to the ensigncy in the 80th regiment, which would become vacant in the event of his death; and this request was no sooner made known to his lordship than it was immediately complied with.

An immediate return to Kouka became, on the death of my companion, the most desirable step to be taken; and, during the evening of the next day, accompanied by Bellal, I left Angala. The Begharmis were now scouring the country in every direction; notwithstanding, we arrived at Angornou on the 1st of March, with only the loss of two camels. Here I met the sheikh with a large force, which he had hastily collected for the purpose of attacking these invaders. He was, as usual, full of kindness, and sent word to the person whom he had left in charge at Kouka, to do every thing for me that I requested. All his people were in alarm, and seemed to doubt greatly what would be the issue of the approaching contest. On the 2d of March I returned to Kouka; and, on the following day, had an attack of fever myself, which, though a slight[245] one, confined me for ten days to my mat: my illness, however, I do not consider at all attributable to climate—deprivation of rest, fatigue, heat, and anxiety of mind, brought on the attack, from which I speedily recovered. My greatest suffering had ever been in my eyes; and a violent discharge from them greatly relieved me.

Although success had certainly not attended my endeavours in this instance, yet the excursion had not been without its advantages. Our knowledge of the country, and the people by whom it was inhabited, was considerably increased: the district we had penetrated was one where kafilas do not go, or where straggling Moorish merchants ever venture to present themselves; and treacherous indeed must the character of that people be, where the love of gain will not induce the avaricious and persevering Moor to carry on his traffic. The being foiled in my attempt to get up the stream from Loggun, was a circumstance I much regretted; but from the confirmation received there of the report I had previously heard, of a more southerly branch of the Shary, running through a mountainous country to the eastward, I have no doubt of that being the fact; and had not events beyond the power of human control prevented my residence for a short time at Loggun, this stream would, I am inclined to think, have been found to extend to Adamowa, and from thence to the lake Fittre. Loggun itself is more healthy and abundant than any other part of the banks of the Shary. Gussub, gafooly, ground nuts, mangoes, and onions, are in great plenty, as well as honey, butter, milk, and beef. There is a market every evening, where fish and flesh may be purchased in any quantities. Salt is extremely scarce, and apparently but little esteemed, or the want of it regretted: they sometimes use, as a substitute, fine trona, which is, however, dreadfully bitter and nauseous. The trees are numerous, and much larger than those of Bornou, although most of them are acacias: the locust, with its blood-red blossom, is the most striking, with the exception of the kuka, or kukawha, and this I never saw in flower.

The inhabitants of Loggun, of both sexes, are industrious, and[246] labour at the loom more regularly than in any part of the sheikh’s dominions; almost every house has its rude machinery for weaving, and the finer and closer linen is here produced; the width, however, is invariably the same as the Bornou gubka, not exceeding six or seven inches. In one house I saw five looms at work: the free people usually perform this labour, while the female slaves prepare the cotton, and give it the deep blue dye so esteemed amongst them, by their incomparable indigo: the glazing is also another and very important part of their manufacture: the linen, which, previous to its being dyed, is generally either made up into tobes, or large shirts, or into lengths of fifteen or sixteen yards, which is equal to the size of a turkadee, is, after three steepings, and as many exposures to the sun, laid in a damp state on the trunks of large trees, cut to a flat surface for the purpose, and are then beaten with a wooden mallet, being at the same time occasionally sprinkled with cold water and powdered antimony, kohol; by this means, the most glossy appearance is produced: the constant hammering attending this process during the whole day, really sounds like the busy hum of industry and occupation.

Neutrality has been the policy of Loggun during the whole of the wars that have laid waste Bornou: she has, at times, made great sacrifices to preserve it, but peace has been her reward; and should confidence and tranquillity be established by El Kanemy’s exertions in those provinces bordering on the great track of kafilas, Loggun will be a profitable resort for merchants: they are any one’s people who can gain an influence over them, and appeared to care as little about the Mohammedan forms of religion as we did ourselves. The surrounding country abounds with cattle, and wild animals of every description found in Africa. They are a remarkably handsome, healthy, and good-looking race. In the immediate neighbourhood of the great river, some of the towns are extremely healthy; Showy in particular; and from thence to its embouchure, the banks are high and seldom overflowed: the current runs with great strength[247] along the perpendicular sides of what I have called Buffalo bank, where there is great depth of water, and a firm sandy bottom. Towards Kussery, again, they are said to be sickly; but this is accounted for by the marshy nature of the country round about them; and the windings of the river, which here, by causing a convexity, gives shallow water, a languid current, and low marshy ground. The overflowings, also, of the smaller streams, leave here stagnant lakes, of several miles in extent, which are filled with unsightly useless shrubs: the woods are not cleared; and the wind has therefore but little power to disperse the foul exhalations, which arise from these unwholesome fens. The innumerable hosts of flies and insects appear to cause the inhabitants of the banks of this river to complain more than either the heat or the climate. Chickens are frequently destroyed by them, soon after they are out of the shell: a chief told me, near Kussery, that, during the last two years, he had lost two children, who were literally stung to death; and from our own observation and sufferings, this does not appear to be an exaggeration.



[47]In a subsequent visit I had an opportunity of measuring the river just below Shary, and found it 650 yards.


March 7, 1824.—The courier which I had sent to Kano, with a supply of necessaries for my countrymen, on Mr. Toole’s arrival, returned to Kouka, bringing a confirmation of the report which had before reached me, of the death of Dr. Oudney, at a place called Murmur, near Katagum, on the 12th of January.

I had left the sheikh in full march to drive back the Begharmis, and he now took up a position near Angala, within five miles of the enemy, who had commenced plundering in their rear, and were moving off all they could gather to the south side of the river: their force, also, it was said, increased daily, and the alarm of the people, both here and at Angornou, lest the enemy should be victorious, was excessive. We were able to muster about seven guns, and three pair of pistols—had plenty of powder and ball; and as our huts were inclosed within a wall, we had determined on defending ourselves to the last. Our determination was no sooner known than I had messages from the wives of all the sheikh’s chiefs who were my friends, saying that they should come to me, if the Begharmis came, as I had guns and plenty of powder; so that I might have had as numerous, and almost as formidable, an army as the sheikh himself, for, from what I had seen of both sexes in Bornou, I believe, in my heart, the women would have fought better than their husbands. The enemy came on several times, and offered battle; but as the sheikh could not get them in the situation he wished for, he refused the combat.

[249]On the 28th, however, the struggle commenced. The Begharmis became bold in consequence of the sheikh’s apparent unwillingness to fight, and they at length ventured to attack him in the plain to the south-east of Angala, on the edge of which he had halted. The kafila, which had departed for Soudan, had deprived him of at least thirty of his Arabs; and the few that remained, with some forty Musgow slaves, who had been trained to the firelock, being his great dependence, he placed them on his flanks. No sooner had the Begharmis cleared the wood, than the sheikh, hoisting his green flag in the centre, and surrounded by his Kanemboo spearmen, moved rapidly on: the two guns in front, which Hillman had mounted, with the Arabs and musketeers, right and left of them. The Begharmis, also, came on with great coolness in a solid mass, five thousand strong, with two hundred chiefs at their head: they made directly for the centre, where the sheikh had raised the standard of the Prophet, but were repulsed by a discharge from his artillery: they now fell upon Barca Gana’s flank, which was attacked with such determined bravery, that all, except himself and a chosen band, gave way: and here fell my friend and preserver Maramy, who, while in the act of drawing his spear from the body of one of their chiefs, received a thrust in his own, which went quite through him. The Bornouese horse, who, on occasions of this kind, when the road is opened for them, are most active, now took up the pursuit of the routed Begharmis: the Arabs, also, mounted and joined them; and of the two hundred chiefs of Begharmi one only is said to have escaped alive. Seven sons of the sultan were amongst the killed, and seventeen hundred of less note; whilst great numbers were put to death by the people of the towns to which they fled, who now, as if by magic, all became the stanch friends of the sheikh. The water of the little stream, Gambalarum, near which the battle was fought, also lent its aid in destroying these invaders; and many were drowned in attempting its passage: but above all,[250] “The guns! the guns! the guns! Oh, wonderful! how they made the dogs skip!—Oh, the guns!” were words in every body’s mouth. My friend, the sheikh, however, thought there was a little too much of this, for on the second day, he said, “True, the guns are wonderful, ’tis true!—but I lifted my hands, and said, Sidi absolam, sidi abdel garda! and from that moment the victory was yours.” It is said that, on the morning of the battle, the sheikh appeared at the door of his tent, with the English double-barrelled gun in his hand, and his English sword slung over his shoulders, clothed in the dress of a simple trooper, saying it was his intention to fight on foot, at the head of his Kanemboos;—that he expected all the Arabs to follow his example, and encourage the slaves, who were but young in the use of the firelock: that if it pleased God to grant their enemies the victory, flight was out of the question; they had nothing left but to die before their wives and children were torn from them, and escape so appalling a sight.

April 4.—Nothing could exceed the joy of the people at having obtained the victory: the men walked about all day in their new tobes, and the women danced, sang, and beat the drum, all night. My hut was thronged with visitors, all recounting their own feats, and bewailing their friends—sending the Begharmis to the devil, and asking for presents on their return, all in the same breath. I had a private interview with the sheikh, and offered him my hearty congratulations: he was as kind and friendly as ever, talked a good deal about the signal manner in which the Kaffirs had been delivered into his hands, and mentioned most feelingly the death of my poor companion Mr. Toole, whom he was very partial to—asked if his mother and father were living, and turning to Tirab, who was near him, said, “How could they send him so far off?”

The plunder was said to have amounted to four hundred and eighty horses, and nearly two hundred women, with two eunuchs, and the baggage of the princes, which was carried on bullocks and[251] asses. Fifty of their women were sirias[48] of great beauty, belonging to the sultan’s sons, and these were all given up to the sheikh. But while all these rejoicings were going on without, the climate was at work within. Omar, an Arab who had lived several years in the service of the consul at Tripoli, and had accompanied Mr. Toole, at his recommendation, a hearty lively fellow, was so severely attacked by the fever, that in seven days we laid him in the earth. Columbus, who had been ill ever since he caught the fever from Mr. Toole, again took to his bed, and seemed to be more debilitated than ever.

April 15.—Although my funds did not exceed eight hundred dollars, yet I determined to see and talk to the sheikh on the subject of an eastern journey[49]. “It is not in my power to send you to the eastward,” said he, “or you should not want my assistance. You have seen enough yourself of the dispositions of the inhabitants of the countries towards me, and their power, to know that this is true. It has pleased God to grant me a victory now, which may lead to quieter times; even the pilgrims have not for years gone by the Lake Fittre to Hadge. I am as anxious as you are, and with more reason, to open a road with Egypt from hence: I cannot, nor can my people, now go to Mecca, without passing through the bashaw of Tripoli’s territories, and there are reasons which make that disagreeable. Why not try it from Egypt, where you have many friends, and return from this way by Fezzan?—that would be easier.” The sheikh has a most singular manner of delivery, and I scarcely ever[252] met with any person who expressed himself so clearly, and with so few words. I replied, “that if I could not proceed in the way I wished, I should return, and either take his advice about Egypt, or wait till better times: that the King of England, upon hearing from me of his kindness, his willingness to assist us, and his friendship, would send some other Englishmen, with proofs of his good will, who would claim his assistance in getting to Sennaar.” “God keep you from evil!” said he; “but tell your great king to send you again: here you are known, and loved by the people; and know them, and their language: we all will wish to see you again—what shall we do with a stranger?”

The sheikh sent this day for Columbus: “You have lived greatly,” said he, “amongst Mussulmans; why do not you say, La il la ilallah: shed, shed, and paradise is open to you?” Columbus, who knew Turks perfectly, replied, “If it is written, so it will be:” “True,” said the sheikh, “but death is near. I, however, still think you love Mussulmans, and are a believer in your heart: true, the time may not be yet come;—pray God it may come, and quickly, both for you and Sahaby Khaleel (meaning me). I have sent to speak to you, and I think you will tell me the truth:—what is this wish of Khaleel’s to go to Egypt? I think he is my friend, and I think the English are my friends; but a man’s head is always his best friend. I fear they wish to overthrow the Mussulman power altogether.” The reply of Columbus was, “As far as I know they want to do no such thing: they wish to see, and to describe the country, with its inhabitants; and if the English are the first to do so, they will pride themselves greatly in consequence.” “And is that all?” replied the sheikh; “Oh! wonderful: no one would believe it,—no one does here but myself, but I do, because they say so, and they are not liars.”

April 30.—Every thing had been in preparation for a ghrazzie, upon an extensive scale: its destination was a secret; but I inquired[253] of the sheikh, and added, that I hoped he would allow me to accompany him. To this he consented; and, in the evening, sent me word that they should pass the river at Showy, and proceed north-east towards Fittre, for the purpose of annihilating, if possible, the Shouaas La Sala of Amanook, who were in that direction, and allies of the sultan of Begharmi. Amanook was a determined warrior, as well as a terrible fighi. In his escape, after the late fight, his horse had fallen with him, and some followers of Maffatai came upon him; they were about to finish him, when he discovered himself, and by a promise of one thousand bullocks was allowed to escape, one of the men giving him a horse: this horse also knocked up previous to reaching the river, and Amanook saved himself by creeping into the warren of some wild hogs (foul disgrace to a believer!) when after remaining a night and a day, he ventured out, and escaped by swimming across.

The story got to the sheikh’s ears, and the Maffatai Sultan was sent for. These worthies having quarrelled in the division of the spoil, one of them betrayed the rest: and all of them were hanged accordingly, even he who informed; and the sultan, having been kept in a state of great alarm for several days, was at length released, on the payment to the sheikh of twenty bullock loads of tobes, nearly one thousand dollars, for having such people in his kingdom.

On the 4th of May we left Kouka for Angornou, for the purpose of proceeding on the ghrazzie. Rhamadan had now begun two days, and strong objections were made by the Kanemboos and Shouaas to proceeding: they had been nearly two months in the field already, and they were most anxious to prepare for the sowing season, which was now approaching; the difficulty, however, of fasting from sunrise to sunset, while on a campaign at this hot season, for the thermometer was 102° and 104° each day, and the sin of breaking the Rhamadan, by doing otherwise, were made the grounds of objection, and could not fail of having their weight with the sheikh. On[254] the 8th, therefore, we all returned, and the expedition was put off for a month.

From this time, until the 19th instant, we were in a state of great tranquillity: every body was suffering from the severity of the Rhamadan, which was unusually oppressive this year—the days were thirteen hours long, and the heat excessive.

On the 19th instant I had news of Mr. Tyrwhit’s arrival at the river Yeou, and on the 20th I went out to meet him at the resting place, called Dowergoo. This gentleman His Majesty’s Government had kindly sent out to strengthen our party, without knowing how fatally the climate had weakened us: he was the bearer of presents to the sheikh, in acknowledgment of the kind reception we had experienced, and was also accompanied by the sheikh’s children, so long detained at Mourzuk by the intrigues and contrivances of the late bey, Mustapha, the sultan of Fezzan.

On the 22d instant we delivered the presents from his Majesty in full form, consisting of two swords, of very beautiful workmanship, two pair of pistols, a dagger, and two gold watches: the delight, nay ecstasy, with which these well-selected specimens of our manufactories were received by El Kanemy, was apparent in every feature of his intelligent countenance, and in the quick glances of his sparkling and penetrating eye. The dagger, and the watch with the seconds movement, were the articles which struck him most forcibly; and when I mentioned, that, agreeably to his request, a parcel of rockets had also been forwarded, he exclaimed, “What, besides all these riches! there are no friends like these! they are all truth; and I see, by the Book, that if the Prophet had lived only a short time longer, they would have been all Moslem!”

June 1.—The Rhamadan was now over, and we had, in the place of fasting and complainings, feastings and rejoicings: the oftener in the twenty-four hours a man could afford to eat meat, the greater person he was considered. The heat had been very oppressive, and[255] the people complained dreadfully, as the sheikh admitted of no excuse for breaking the Rhamadan: any man who was caught suffering his thirst to get the better of him, or visiting his wives between sunrise and sunset, was sentenced to four hundred stripes with a whip made of the skin of the hippopotamus—a dreadful punishment. An hour or two before the sun went down, sometimes more than a dozen of the class to whom labour rendered the deprivation of liquid for so many hours far more insufferable, would lay themselves near the well, and have buckets of water thrown over them, the only relief that could be allowed, and which appeared greatly to revive them, even when almost fainting with thirst. With the feast of the Aid, however, finished all their sufferings, and also the recollection of them; for the wrestlings now took place in front of the sheikh’s house, as before, and the evening dances at the gates of the town were crowded with many picturesque groups. I had, several times during the fast, paid the sheikh a visit by his desire, soon after sunrise, the only time in the day, at this season, that he is visible: our meeting was always in his garden, which a few pomegranate and lime trees made really here a refreshing spot, which was not a little increased by the troughs of water which reached from the well all round this miserable, though royal, nursery-ground, and refreshed the roots of the languid and drooping trees. Our conversation chiefly related to the war with Tunis, which he seemed to think of great importance, and added, that, friends as we were with all Mussulmans, our taking up the cause of their enemies seemed very unaccountable. I endeavoured to explain it to him, that we were enemies to cruelty and blood-shedding, let who would be the perpetrators; that we as often prevented Greeks from massacring Turks, and always released prisoners of either faith, whenever our cruisers found them confined in the ships of their enemies. I do not know that I should have succeeded in satisfying him entirely of our disinterested conduct, had it not been for Shrief Hashashy, a[256] very respectable Moor, who, having been robbed of every thing on the road from Soudan, was now recovering himself a little by the sheikh’s liberality to the distressed: he was present, and certainly helped me out greatly. “Will my lord listen to me?” said he: “what the rais has just told my lord, I can vouch for the truth of. My lord knows, that the brother of my heart, my youngest brother, Ab’deen, trades to Smyrna and Suez: he fell into the hands of these worst of kaffirs, and with twenty others, Moslem, was taken out of a Greek vessel, with their hands bound ready for execution, by an English captain, who fed and clothed them, and landed them at Smyrna. In short, the English, as I have heard, and believe, made war for twenty years, for no other purpose but to obtain peace.” “Wonderful!” said the sheikh; “but where is the profit of all this?” “That, my lord must inquire of themselves: their wars cannot bring them profit, but, on the contrary, must cost them great sums.” “But what will they do with Tunis?” said the sheikh, turning to me; “they have many large-mouthed guns, and plenty of gunpowder:—can three or four ships force them to do as you wish?—No charms will have any effect, believe me, for they have a fighi of great power and knowledge.” “Probably so,” returned I; “we seldom fight with such weapons—indeed it is probable there will be no fighting at all. If these four ships prevent all intercourse between them and the other nations with whom they trade, will they not be glad to listen to reason for the sake of obtaining peace, and a renewal of their trade and free intercourse?” “True, true,” said the sheikh, “most true; you are a thinking people.”

June 4.—This afternoon, I was sent for to the palace in a most violent hurry, as one of the young princes had swallowed a fish-bone, or a piece of wood, and was choking. I hurried on my bornouse, and made the best haste I could; and although the distance was not above five hundred yards, the sand, which is always nearly up to the ancles in the streets, prevented the possibility of moving very[257] quick; and the Aga Gana, and Mady Sala, two of the sheikh’s negro chamberlains, who had been sent for me, soon got some way in advance: they made signs, and called out to me, in great distress, to come on; which I answered with, the perspiration flowing down my cheeks, “Softly! softly!” This answer, it seems, did not accord with their impatience, which was in proportion to that their master had displayed in despatching them for me; without a word, therefore, they both came running back to me, seized me in their arms, and in about three minutes placed me on the steps leading to the sheikh’s terrace. Had they desired any of the four slaves by whom they were each of them followed to have done this, I certainly should have been inclined to rebel; but when these lords of the bedchamber themselves condescended to bear me in their arms, which they did with great gentleness, I took it, as I have no doubt it was meant, in good part.

I found the young prince with something or other in his throat, which would neither come up nor go down. I at first thought of covering a pistol ramrod with rag, and introducing that, but I afterwards determined to try some large pills of wax candle, of which I was first obliged to swallow three myself, to show the little fellow how; and at last, by dipping them in honey, I did get him to gulp a couple, when, to my great joy, the obstruction was removed, and the sheikh highly delighted. I had already acquired the name of tibeeb (doctor), but this operation raised my fame exceedingly.

While I was waiting in the palace, in consequence of this accident, a punishment took place, probably only equalled in severity by that of the knout in Russia, and which, as is often the case in that country, caused the death of the culprit before the morning. In this instance the unfortunate man had been found, by the spies of the kadi (who are always on the alert), slumbering in his amours, and was now to pay the penalty of his carelessness. In the middle of the day, during the Rhamadan, he had been seen asleep in his hut,[258] and the wife of another man (a merchant), who had been some time absent in Soudan, stretched by his side; they were therefore, without any hesitation, presumed guilty of having broken the Rhamadan. He was sentenced to receive four hundred stripes, and his partner half that number. Her head was first shaved, her dress and ear-rings, arm-lets, leg-lets, &c. were given to the informer; she was taken up by four men, with only a cloth round her middle, by means of which she was suspended, in a manner not to be described, while a powerful negro inflicted the full number of lashes she was condemned to receive. This took place inside the court-yard of the palace: she was afterwards carried home senseless. The man received his punishment in the dender, or square, suspended in the same manner, but with eight men, instead of four, to support him: an immense whip, of one thick thong cut off from the skin of the hippopotamus, was first shown to him, which he was obliged to kiss, and acknowledge the justness of his sentence. The fatah was then said aloud, and two powerful slaves of the sheikh inflicted the stripes, relieving each other every thirty or forty strokes: they strike on the back, while the end of the whip, which has a knob or head, winds round, and falls on the breast or upper stomach: this it is that renders these punishments fatal. After the first two hundred, blood flowed from him upwards and downwards, and in a few hours after he had taken the whole four hundred, he was a corpse. The agas, kashellas, and the kadis, attend on these occasions. I was assured the man did not breathe even a sigh audibly. Another punishment succeeded this, which, as it was for a minor offence, namely, stealing ten camels and selling them, was trifling, as they only gave him one hundred stripes, and with a far less terrific weapon.

June 16.—Every thing was now prepared for the expedition to the eastern side of the Tchad, and Mr. Tyrwhitt determined on accompanying me.

On the 17th of June we reached Angornou, and from thence the[259] sheikh despatched the ghrazzie, with Barca Gana, the chief, Ali Gana, the second, and Tirab, the third in command. At an interview which I had this morning, he called them all towards him, and said, “This is the duty of you all, take care of these strangers: they wish to go round by Kanem, which must be done, if possible: let them have twenty horsemen, or more, if necessary.”

From Drawings by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.

Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

On entering the town of Angala, on the 19th, Bellal, who had accompanied Mr. Toole and myself on the excursion to Loggun, again pointed out the place where we had deposited my unfortunate friend. I went to the spot to see that it was not disturbed; and a peaceful depository it had proved for his remains: every thing remained just as I had left it, even to the branches which covered his grave, and I was fearful, by exciting observations, to risk their disturbance.

On the 20th we reached Maffatai, and took possession once more of my old quarters in Birmah’s house. The host, however, was from home, getting his gussub into the ground; his eldest wife did the honours: she also gave me a little more of her company than before, and told me, very good-naturedly, that she could do many things now, that she could not when the lord was at home. Nothing, indeed, could exceed the kindness with which my hostess, who was called Ittha, did all she could to show how welcome a visitor I was. “Birmah,” she said, “must stay and get in the corn, but she hoped I should not miss him.” During the first day she came repeatedly with her sister Funha, a negress with an expression of countenance more pleasing than I had ever before seen, of about eighteen, who, Ittha said, was most anxious to see me, from what she had told her formerly. Luckily, she added, Funha had divorced her husband only two days before, or she could not have had that pleasure. Ittha, with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance, uncovered my hands, arms, and breast, to show to her sister my extraordinary whiteness. It seemed to surprise her greatly; but nevertheless I[260] was pleased to observe that it did not appear to excite either much alarm or disgust: but what certainly seemed to both the greatest wonder, was the sight and touch of my head, which had just been shaved; it was literally passed from the hands of one to the other, with so many remarks, that some minutes elapsed ere I could be allowed to replace my turban. When, at length, they left me, Ittha exclaimed, pressing my hand with both hers, that I was fit to be a sultan, mai, mai, wolla! and that Funha should shampoo me, and try to bring on sleep, as I must be tired and fatigued by the heat of the sun. This, however, was not all: towards evening, more than a dozen of Ittha’s friends, the principal ladies of the town, came, in consequence of the liberty she enjoyed while the goodman was away, to have a look at the bulfulk (white man), each bringing me something—a few onions, a little rice, or a bowl of milk, as a present. Funha performed all the duties imposed on her to perfection. I had a supper of pounded rice, milk, and honey, with something like bread made into cakes: and verily I began to think, like Ittha herself, that I not only deserved to be a sultan, but that I had really commenced my reign.

We moved to Showy, and crossing the Gurdya by a slanting ford, came more to the eastward than before, and by a nearer route. I was here greatly amused with seeing a party of girls skipping in a long rope, just as we do in England, and the fear of losing my dignity alone prevented my speedily joining them. They performed well; but then it must be recollected that they were totally unincumbered with drapery or any covering whatever, although good-sized young ladies of twelve or thirteen years old. The inhabitants of Showy are a most indolent happy people: half the night is passed in fishing, which is their sole support; and towards evening, each day, the sound of the drum calls them to the open space in the centre of their huts, when the men form themselves into circles, and dance in a most[261] uncouth though joyous manner. The women all assemble at a certain part of the circle, sitting on the ground with their faces covered, and salute the most active with loud screams of approbation.

D. Denham. J. & C. Walker Sculp.

Hager Teous called by the Natives the Foot Stool of Noah.


Published by J. Murray, Albemarle Street London. March 1826.

June 24.—We crossed the Shary with but little less water than we had found six months before, and passing the day on the east bank, we moved again in the evening: we saw twelve crocodiles basking on the banks. A large party of Shouaas were passing on rafts, swimming their sheep and bullocks, which they drive over in flocks, one being first forced into the river, and dragged over by a line run through the cartilage of the nose. Women often perform this duty, showing great strength and agility in swimming and curbing these powerful animals. We made nine miles, passed quantities of ghrwka (castor-nut tree), and at noon arrived at lake Hamese, which is part of the Tchad, and halted at some Shouaa huts of the Beni Hassan tribe, at a place called Zeabra. In continuation of our course, we halted, in the afternoon, at Berbeeta, where we encountered a terrible storm, and were sadly bitten by mosquitoes.

A little to the northward of the road, and at the head of the lake Hamese, are some very curious rocks of red granite standing in an immense plain, at a great distance from any mountains of a corresponding structure: one is of a conical form, and distant about three hundred yards from the others, which are connected. The space between Kou Abdallah, the name of the first, and the other three is covered with loose fragments of rock of different sizes, and it is natural to suppose they were all formerly united: the three are called Hager Teous by the Bornouese, and by the Shouaa Bete Nibbe Mohammed. I had dismounted for the purpose of approaching nearer to the base of the single rock, over the broken fragments by which it was surrounded, principally for the purpose of procuring some specimens, when those who were waiting in the plain exclaimed, “A lion! a lion! a lion!” I began to look around me with great anxiety, and quickly perceived a large female panther, big with[262] young, bursting from the shade of the loose fragments just before me, and, frightened at the cries of the negroes, was running up the rock. These are the most dangerous animals that are here met with, although they never attack when several persons are together; my being in advance was what alarmed the rest. The animal, however, passed quietly away.

June 26.—We still kept near the swamps which surround the Tchad, and halting as usual for two hours in the heat of the day, by sunset we had made nineteen miles, winding, and arrived at the huts of the Biddomassy Shouaa, where Barca Gana was encamped.

June 27.—Proceeded fifteen miles, and found the Dugganah Shouaa were about three miles before us, with Malem Chadely, and a small body of the sheikh’s people who had preceded us. We forded to-day eight waters, branches of the lake, some up to the body of the horse; while the camels took a more circuitous route, and passed beyond the waters on perfectly dry ground. Amanook’s people, we found, had fled.

June 28.—Although on our arriving at the camp of the Dugganah a long parley was held, and a number of questions asked of sheikh Hamed, as to Amanook’s numbers, and his hiding-place, yet the first object of the expedition did not appear until just before daylight this morning, when the whole body mounted, and in fifteen minutes were moving towards Kanem Mendoo, one day from Maou, the capital; from whence the Waday’s had driven the sheikh’s friends. Mendoo had thrown off the sheikh’s government, and Edershi Gebere, nephew of the Fugboo, that had been put to death by the order of Mustapha L’Achmar the sultan of Fezzan, now ruled as khalifa. The sheikh’s object had been to catch him by surprise; and for this reason Amanook and La Sala were always held out as the sole destination of the army. Mendoo was nearly in my road, and it was therefore necessary that it should be cleared first of these rebels. Barca Gana sent in the night for Bellal, and desired him[263] to acquaint me with his intention, and that as he should merely halt to sully (pray) and water the horses, from his starting until the sun should be three fathoms high on the following day, when he should surround Mendoo; that the sheikh wished me to remain where I then was until his return, which would be in four days, when he trusted I should be able to proceed in safety. I should have preferred going on, and leaving Mendoo to him, have passed on round the Tchad; but he would not hear of such an arrangement, and as I was kept in ignorance of this plan until the whole army was actually in motion, I had no alternative. Not a camel went with them, and all the baggage and siriahs were left in the camp. Bellal now became the chief, and with the assistance of the Shouaas and Arabs, the camp was intrenched, trees were cut down, and a sort of abbattis quickly formed for our protection. Our situation was, however, one of jeopardy and inconvenience, as nothing but their ignorance of our movements could save us from an attack from Amanook’s people, to whom we should have been a fine booty and an easy prey. From our vicinity to the Tchad, the swarms of flies in the day, and mosquitoes at night, were so great, that we were obliged to resort to our old remedy of lighting fires, and living in the smoke, in order to obtain a little peace.

June 29.—The Dugganah chief, Tahr, came to my tent to-day, attended by about twenty people, who all sat down behind him bareheaded, while he had on a dark blue cotton cap. He had a fine, serious, expressive countenance, large features, and a long bushy beard: these are the particular characteristics of these Shouaas—they differ from the Shouaas to the west, who have mixed more with the natives. Tahr might have sat for the picture of one of the patriarchs; and an able artist would have produced a beautiful head from such a study. Their mode of salutation is by closing their hands gently several times—as we applaud—and then[264] extending the palms of both flat towards you, exclaiming, “L’affia?—Are you well and happy?”

Tahr, with his followers, after looking at me with an earnestness that was distressing to me for a considerable time, at last gained confidence enough to ask some questions, commencing, as usual, with “What brought you here? they say your country is a moon from Tripoli.” I replied, “to see by whom the country was inhabited; and whether it had lakes, and rivers, and mountains like our own.” “And have you been three years from your home? Are not your eyes dimmed with straining to the north, where all your thoughts must ever be? Oh! you are men, men, indeed! Why, if my eyes do not see the wife and children of my heart for ten days, when they should be closed in sleep they are flowing with tears.”

I had bought a sheep for a dollar, a coin with which he was not conversant; and he asked if it was true that they came out of the earth? The explanation pleased him. “You are not Jews?” said he. “No,” said I. “Christians, then?” “Even so,” replied I. “I have read of you: you are better than Jews,” said he. “Are Jews white, like you?” “No,” replied I; “rather more like yourself, very dark.” “Really;” said the sheikh: “Why, are they not quite white? They are a bad people.” After staying a full hour, he took my hand, and said, “I see you are a sultan: I never saw any body like you. The sight of you is as pleasing to my eyes, as your words are to my ear. My heart says you are my friend. May you die at your own tents, and in the arms of your wives and family.” “Amen,” said I; and they all took their leave.

June 30.—Tahr paid me another visit to-day. The Dugganahs were formerly Waday, and were strong enough to have great influence with the sultan; but by quarrelling among themselves, they lost their influence, and became subject to the Waday sultans. They generally passed one part of the year in the Bahr-al-Ghazal,[265] and the other part by lake Fittre: in these two spots had been the regular frigues, or camps, for several generations. Sheikh Hamed his father, the present chief, who had more than one hundred children, found that another tribe of Dugganah had been intriguing with the sultan of Waday against him, and that he was to be plundered, and his brethren to share in the spoil. On learning this, he fled with his flocks and his wives, offered himself to the sheikh, El Kanemy, and had since lived in his dominions. The account he gave of the Tchad was this—it formerly emptied itself into the Bahr-el-Ghazal by a stream, the dry bed of which still remained, now filled with large trees and full of pasture: it was situated between the N’Gussum and Kangarah, inhabited by Waday Kanemboos. “I could take you there,” said he, “in a day; but not now—spears are now shining in the hands of the sons of Adam, and every man fears his neighbour.” He had heard his grandfather, when he was a boy, say, “that it there gradually wasted itself in an immense swamp, or, indeed, lake[50]: the whole of that was now dried up. They all thought,” he said, “the overflowings of the Tchad were decreasing, though almost imperceptibly. From hence to Fittre was four days: there was no water, and but two wells on the road. Fittre,” he said, “was large; but not like the Tchad. His infancy had been passed on its borders. He had often heard Fittre called the Darfoor water and Shilluk. Fittre had a stream running out of it—was not like the Tchad, which every body knew was now a still water; a river also came from the south-west, which formed lake Fittre; and this and the Nile were one: he believed this was also[266] the Shary; but he knew nothing to the westward: it, however, came from the Kerdy country, called Bosso, and slaves had been brought to Fittre by it, who had their teeth all pointed and their ears cut quite close to their heads.” Tahr wished to purchase our water skins, “for,” said he, “we can get none like them; and either to Fittre, or Waday, we pass a high country, and find but few wells.” The Biddoomah sometimes pay them a visit; and although generally professing friendship, always steal something. The last time, they sold them a woman and a boy; which by Barca Gana’s people were recognized as the same they, the Biddomahs, had stolen from the neighbourhood of Angornou six months before: they were of course restored without payment. The hyænas were here so numerous, and so bold, as to break over the fence of bushes in the middle of a thunder-storm, and carry off a sheep from within five yards of my tent. We had news that Barca Gana had found Mendoo deserted, and was disappointed in catching the khalifa.

The Shouaas live entirely in tents of leather, or rather of rudely dressed hides, and huts of rushes, changing but from necessity, on the approach of an enemy, or want of pasturage for their numerous flocks: they seldom fight except in their own defence. The chiefs never leave their homes, but send bullocks to the markets at Maffatai and Mekhari, and bring gussub in return: their principal food, however, is the milk of camels, in which they are rich, and also that of cows and sheep; this they will drink and take no other nourishment for months together. Their camps are circular, and are called dowera[51], or frigue, with two entrances for the cattle to enter at and be driven out. They have the greatest contempt for, and hatred of, the negro nations, and yet are always tributary to either one black sultan or another: there is no example of their ever having peopled a town, or established themselves in a permanent home.

of the
Lake Tchad.

D. Denham. J. & C. Walker Sculpt.


Published as the Act directs Feby. 1826, by John Murray Albemarle Street London.

[267]For several days we were kept in the greatest suspense. No news arrived from the army. Reports varied: it was said Barca Gana had pushed on to Maou and Waday; again, that he was gone to the islands. We had thunder and rain, with distressing heat, and flies, and mosquitoes to torture. Bellal would not go on, and I would not go back: we were consuming daily our store of rice, with eight days before us to Woodie, through a country without supplies.

July 6.—On the evening of yesterday, Barca Gana, with the chiefs, and about half their force, returned; the remainder had been obliged to halt on the road, to refresh their horses. He had pushed on to Maou after Edirshe Gebere, a Shouaa chief of Korata Mendooby. Fugboo Kochamy, as he was called, was the fourth khalifa whom the sheikh had placed at Maou (his three predecessors having been strangled by the Waday people); he was first cousin to Edirshe, who, affecting friendship for him, lulled his suspicions, and one night attacked him in his capital. Kochamy made a gallant defence; he killed nine of them with his spear, but was at length overcome, and died, with eleven others of the sheikh’s allies. Fugboo Jemamy, his brother, alone escaped: to assist Jemamy was the object of Barca Gana. Edirshe had news of their movements, notwithstanding they went nearly fifty miles in a day and night, and appeared first at Mendoo, and then at Maou, on the day after they left us. Edirshe had fled with all his cattle and women: they found them about ten miles from Maou, entrenched within a circular camp, with all their cattle, women, and children, strongly defended with stakes; their bowmen were all distributed between the stakes, and in front of the entrenchment: they saluted their enemies with shrill cries on their approach, and the sheikh’s people, after looking at them for a day and a night, without any provisions for either men or horses, dared not attack them. Disappointed, therefore, in their hopes of plunder[268] and revenge, the whole returned here, their horses and men nearly in a state of starvation.

July 10.—We were all anxiety this day. Barca Gana was nearly one thousand strong, and about four hundred Dugganahs joined him, besides furnishing him with nearly one hundred horses. Amanook was one of the sheikh’s most troublesome remaining enemies; the sheikh had, on various occasions, and lastly, when he joined the Begharmis in their attack on Bornou, very severely crippled him, and destroyed more than half his force: the design now was to annihilate the remainder, and secure, if possible, the person of this inveterate foe, who kept alive the hostile feeling both on the Begharmi and Waday side. Amanook, however, was not to be taken by surprise, and he gave the sheikh’s troops such a proof of what might be done by a handful of men, bold of soul, and determined to defend an advantageous situation, that they will not easily forget. Just before sunset a Fezzanneer, who had lately entered into the sheikh’s service, returned to the camp, giving an account of Barca Gana’s complete discomfiture, and Bellal and myself immediately mounted our horses in order to learn the particulars. The Tchad[52], which in this part forms itself into innumerable still waters, or lakes of various extents, and consequently leaves many detached spaces of land or islands, always afforded the La Sala Shouaas, and the Biddomah, natural defences, which their enemies had ever found it extremely difficult to conquer. In one of these situations, these very La Salas, with Amanook at their head, kept the sultan of Fezzan, with two[269] thousand Arabs, and all the sheikh’s army, several days in check, and killed between thirty and forty of the Arabs before they surrendered. On this occasion Amanook had taken possession of one of these islands, which, to attack with horsemen alone, in front of an opposing enemy, was the height of imprudence. A narrow pass led between two lakes to a third, behind which Amanook had posted himself with all his cattle, and his people, male and female: the lake, in front of him, was neither deep nor wide, but full of holes, and had a muddy deceitful bottom on the side from whence the attack was made.

The sight of the bleating flocks, and lowing herds, was too much for the ravenous troops of the sheikh, irritated by their recent disappointment; and notwithstanding the declaration of Barca Gana, that he wished to halt on the opposite side of the water, and send for spearmen on foot, with shields, who would lead the attack, the junior chiefs all exclaimed, “What! be so near them as this, and not eat them? No, no! let us on! This night these flocks and women will be ours.” This cry the sheikh’s Shouaas also joined in, ever loud in talk, but rearmost in the fight, as the sequel proved. The attack commenced: the Arabs, of whom there were about eighty, led the way with the Dugganah. On arriving in the middle of the lake the horses sank up to their saddle-bows, most of them were out of their depth, and others floundered in the mud: the ammunition of the riders became wet, their guns useless, many even missed the first fire, and they were unhorsed in this situation. As they approached the shore, the La Sala hurled at them, with unerring aim, a volley of their light spears, a very formidable missile, which they followed up by a charge of their strongest and best horse, trained and accustomed to the water; while, at the same time, another body, having crossed the lake higher up, came by the narrow pass, and cut off the retreat of all those who had advanced into the lake. The Shouaas, on the first appearance of resistance, had, as usual, gone[270] to the right about, and left those, under whose cover they meant to plunder, to fight it out by themselves: the slaughter now became very desperate amongst the sheikh’s people. Barca Gana, although attacking against his own judgment, was of the foremost, and received a severe spear wound in his back, which pierced through four tobes, and an iron chain armour, while attacked by five chiefs, who seemed determined on finishing him; one of whom he thrust completely through with his long spear. By crowding around him, and by helping him quickly to a fresh horse, his own people and chiefs saved him, and thirty of them remained either killed or in the hands of the La Sala: but few of those who were wounded in the water, or whose horses failed them there, escaped. We found Barca Gana, with the other chiefs, seated near the second water; he was in great pain from his wound, and the whole army dreadfully disheartened: they had not more than forty followers in all. We vainly waited until sunset, in the hopes of the missing making their appearance, but we were disappointed, and returned to the camp. By this desertion of the sheikh’s Shouaas, the Dugganahs suffered severely: anxious to show their sincerity to the sheikh, they had gone on boldly, and their loss exceeded one hundred; eighteen of the Arabs were also missing. The night was passed in a state of great anxiety, from the fear of an attack on our camp; and the sense of our unjoyous situation was constantly awakened by the melancholy dirges which the Dugganah women were singing over their dead husbands, really so musically piteous, that it was almost impossible not to sympathize in their affliction.

The Dugganah, from being the humblest of allies, now became rather dictatorial, and told the general very plainly that they could fight better without him than with him: they refused him both bullocks and sheep, and said they must keep them to pay the ransom of their people.

Amanook, who it seems had no idea of following up his victory[271] by an attack on our camp, which he might have done successfully, and carried off all the chiefs, siriahs, and camels, sent word this evening that he would now treat with nobody but the sheikh himself; that he had declared to the general, before he attacked him, that he feared no one but God, the Prophet, and the sheikh, and wished for peace: “They would not listen to me,” said he, “but attempted to take by force what was their master’s before; for all we had was the sheikh’s, and is still. By God’s help my people overcame them, but that is nothing; I am to the sheikh, in point of strength, as an egg is to a stone: if he wishes peace, and will no more molest me in my wilds, peace be with us—I will give up his people, his horses, and his arms, that have fallen into my hands; if not, I will keep them all, and may be add to their number. We are not easily beaten: by the head of the Prophet, I can and will, if I am forced, turn fish, and fly to the centre of the water; and if the sheikh comes himself against me, I will bring Waday against him.”

July 8.—The chiefs all refused to withdraw their forces on this offer of Amanook: they sent word that he was not to be depended on, so often had he deceived them. Nothing but an unconditional return of all the spoil would satisfy them. In a long conversation which I had with Barca Gana, whose wound was now fast healing from the dressing of burnt fat and sulphur, which I had applied, he assured me that they should not make another attempt on this bold chieftain: he, however, advised my returning to Kouka. “The excursion,” said he, “you wish to make was always dangerous, it is now impracticable; we must wait for the sheikh’s appearance before we can do any thing, and I think, from the advanced state of the season, as the rains have now begun to fall, you will find that the sheikh will not come, and that we shall all return.”

By being ten days encamped[53] close to the frigue of the Dugganah[272] Shouaas, we had a better opportunity of observing these curious people: they were a superior class to any I had met with; they were rich in cattle, and in camels, and seemed to live in plenty, and patriarchal simplicity. The sheikh had greatly encouraged their taking refuge with him on their disagreement with Waday, and had promised them protection, tribute free, provided they were faithful. Both the men and women were comely, particularly the latter, who, when they found that we paid for what we wanted in little bits of coarse karem (amber), with which I had provided myself, brought us, night and morning, frothy bowls of milk, which formed by far the best part of our repasts. There is something so curious and singularly interesting and expressive in the Shouaa manners and language, that I am at a loss how to describe it. A girl sits down by your tent with a bowl of milk, a dark blue cotton wrapper tied round her waist, and a mantila of the same thrown over her head, with which she hides her face, yet leaves all her bust naked; she says, “A happy day to you! Your friend has brought you milk: you gave her something so handsome yesterday, she has not forgotten it. Oh! how her eyes ache to see all you have got in that wooden house,” pointing to a trunk. “We have no fears now; we know you are good; and our eyes, which before could not look at you, now search after you always: they bid us beware of you, at first, for you were bad, very bad; but we know better now. How it pains us that you are so white!”

As we had not more than four days’ provision, I determined on returning after another interview with Barca Gana: we left Tangalia, and returned to the spot where we had left the Biddomassy, and had scarcely pitched our tents when a storm came on, which lasted till midnight: but bad as it was, it was preferable to the stings of the musquitoes and flies which succeeded it. Notwithstanding we had fires inside the tent, which nearly stifled us, no sleep was to be obtained.

On the 11th we arrived at Showy, after a very tedious march,[273] and losing our way for three hours: the woods are, indeed, most intricate and difficult; and as all the Shouaas had moved up towards Barca Gana, we could get no guides. We saw five giraffees (cameleopards) to-day, to my great delight; they were the first I had seen alive, and notwithstanding my fatigue and the heat, Bellal and myself chased them for half an hour: we kept within about twenty yards of them. They have a very extraordinary appearance from their being so low behind, and move awkwardly, dragging, as it were, their hinder legs after them: they are not swift, and unlike any figure of them I ever met with. Passing the Shary was attended with very great difficulty; the stream was extremely rapid, and our horses and camels were carried away from the sides of the canoe, to which they were lashed: we lost a camel by this passage; these animals have a great dislike to water, and after swimming a stream are often seized with illness, and are carried off in a few hours.

July 12.—Left Showy, and once more found ourselves at Maffatai. The rest, and fish bazeen, with which we were here regaled, with the deep shade of Burmah’s spacious mansion, greatly recovered us. The skin of my face all came off, and I slept nearly the whole day after our arrival: the sun, rain, flies, and musquitoes, altogether had fatigued me more than any former journey.

On the 15th we pursued our route homeward by a new course, and halted close to the Gambalarum, on the ground the Begharmis had escaped over, after their rencontre with the sheikh: the ground was strewed with skeletons.

July 16.—After a long and fatiguing march we reached some Felatah huts, about sunset. The water, after crossing Maffatai, is all sad muddy stuff; and the nearer you approach Angornou, the blacker the soil is, and the worse it becomes. We to-day crossed the Molee, a small stream which runs to the Tchad. The whole of this road, indeed the whole country from Angala, is an inclined[274] plane towards the Great Lake, and during the rains it is impassable: they were now every where sowing their grain, and in many places they were reaping the Indian corn. Since leaving Maffatai, we had nothing besides a little rice, to which I added a duck or two, which I made it part of my business to search after, and shoot.

July 17.—We this day reached Angornou, very much fatigued with our journey; we had a drenching night of it, and crept into our friend Abdi Nibbe’s hut, with great joy: the worst of these storms were that they spoiled the only meal we could get time to cook in the twenty-four hours; and our tents, which rarely withstood the blasts, on falling, exposed all our stores as well as ourselves to the pelting of the storm.

On my arrival again at Kouka I found that Captain Clapperton, with a small kafila, had returned from Soudan: it was nearly eight months since we had separated, and although it was midday I went immediately to the hut where he was lodged; but so satisfied was I that the sun-burnt sickly person that lay extended on the floor, rolled in a dark blue shirt, was not my companion, that I was about to leave the place, when he convinced me of my error, by calling me by my name: the alteration in him was certainly most striking. Our meeting was a melancholy one: he had buried his companion, and I had also closed the eyes of my younger and more robust colleague, Mr. Toole. Notwithstanding the state of weakness in which I found Captain Clapperton, he yet spoke of returning to Soudan after the rains.

July 28.—I had now determined on proceeding by Woodie to Kanem, and approaching as near as possible to Tangalia, the spot where I had left Barca Gana, when I had passed by the southern extremity of the lake; and if I succeeded, and returned before the departure of the kafila after the Aid Kebir, I fostered a hope of retracing my steps across the desert, with all the satisfaction of a man[275] who had accomplished to the full the duties that had been assigned him. Yagah Menamah, the chief eunuch of the sheikh’s favourite wife, came to me soon after daylight, and presented me with two kansara, or fly-flappers, made of the tail of the camelopard; and in her name said that she had burnt salt for my departure, praying that neither the devil nor any of his imps might be able to play me any malicious tricks on my journey. The sheikh had consented to Mr. Tyrwhitt’s remaining as consul: and on my inquiring whether he would protect one or two English merchants, if they came to his country—“Certainly: why not?” said he, “and assist them to the extent of my power; but they must be small traders, or the journey will never pay them.” He expressed his wish to write to the king, and added, “whatever I can do in Soudan, remember I am ready. I have influence there certainly, which may increase, and probably shortly extend to Nyffé. As to yourself, I shall write to beg the king will send you here, with any English whom he may wish to visit Bornou. You are known, and might now go any where in Bornou without fear. Even the Shouaas on the frontiers, and the Duggenah, all know Rais Khaleel: but this has not been done hastily; you have been nearly eighteen months amongst us, and you remember when you could not go to Angornou without inconvenience. I then thought you would never be as much at liberty here as you are. Time and yourself may be thanked for this, not me; for I could not, by any orders I might have given, have done for you what your mixing freely with the people, and gaining their good will, has brought about—and yet you are a Christian!”

July 30.—This morning the sheikh sent to Mr. Clapperton, Mr. Hillman, and myself, as a present, a very fine camel, a horse, and two water-skins, two leopard skins, and two dressed-leather sacks. In the course of the morning another cargo was brought to me, consisting of eight elephants’ tusks, with the horns of three other[276] animals. The horns were, first, the maremah, a long horn similar to one I had seen at Kabshary—the animal has two, bending backwards at the point; kirkadan, a two-horned animal; another animal, with one long horn and a second shorter just above it, nearly between the eyes of the animal, was described to me as having, on the sheikh’s late expedition to Gulphi, carried a man and horse, spiked on his horn, more than one hundred yards, when, frightened by the cries of the people, he dropped them, and made his escape: the man was unhurt, but the horse died.

Aug. 6.—This was the Aide Kebir, the principal feast of the Mussulmans during the year, in commemoration of God’s staying the hand of Abraham in the place Jehovah-jireh, when about to sacrifice his son Isaac: all who can muster a sheep or a goat kill it on this day, after prayers. The sheikh sent the day before, to know if we kept the feast; and when we met, repeated his question. I replied, that we believed the interposition of the Divine Power in saving Isaac to be a signal proof of God’s mercy and love to all his creatures; “for remember,” said I, “he is the God of many, not of Mussulmans alone; and that our father Abraham’s great and implicit faith in the existence of that mercy, was what obtained for him all the blessings God promised him.”

He sent us two very fine sheep, and we killed and feasted with the rest. Early in the morning, the sheikh, with his sons and all his court, mounted, according to custom, to welcome the Aid, by praying outside the town, and firing and skirmishing on their return: the assembly was not so large as on former occasions, in consequence of the absence of the chiefs in Kanem; indeed every thing went off extremely flat, owing to the defeat of the sheikh’s people. Contrary to custom, no presents were made by him, and no dresses were distributed to the slaves: instead of the glossy new tobes which on former occasions shone on the persons of the footmen who ran by[277] the side of his horse, they were now clothed with torn, discoloured ones, and every thing wore the appearance of gloom and disgrace. On these days, the custom is also for the women to assemble, dressed in all their finery, in the street, before the doors of their huts, and scream a salutation to the passing chiefs: it was one of the best parts of the ceremony, but this year it was omitted. The sheikh, whose unamiable trait was, as I have before observed, visiting the weaknesses of the female part of his subjects with too great severity, had, during my absence, given an order which would have disgraced the most absolute despot that ever sat on a throne: the gates of his town were kept shut at daylight one morning, and his emissaries despatched, who bound and brought before him sixty women who had a bad reputation; five were sentenced to be hanged in the public market, and four to be flogged; which latter punishment was inflicted with such severity, that two expired under the lash. Those who were doomed to death, after being dragged, with their heads shaved, round the market on a public day, with a rope round their necks, were then strangled, and thrown, by twos, into a hole previously prepared, in the most barbarous manner. This diabolical act, for it deserves no better name, armed all tongues against him. The Bornouese, who are a humane and forgiving people, shuddered at so much cruelty: and so much influence had the ladies in general with their husbands, that more than a hundred families quitted Kouka, (to which place they were before daily flocking), to take up their abodes in other towns where this rigour did not exist. In Kouka, they declared there was no living, where only to be suspected was sufficient to be doomed to a cruel and ignominious death; and where malicious spies converted “trifles light as air, into confirmation strong.” Those who remained, though the women of his particular attendants, refused flatly to scream him a welcome, and the procession passed through the streets in silence.

[278]Aug. 7.—I was now on the eve of departing for Kanem, to proceed by Woodie to the north-east of the lake. Mr. Clapperton had been ill with sore legs and an attack of dysentery, but was better. Mohammed Bousgayey, an Arab, who left this place with Doctor Oudney and Mr. Clapperton, came to my hut: he had gone on from Kano, with four or five Arabs, to Yeouri and to Nyffé, and had stayed some time at a place called Gusgey on the Quolla, two days west-south-west nearly, from Yeouri. The Quolla he described to be here as wide as to the market outside the walls and back, which must have been nearly two miles: they were all kaffirs, he said, but not bad people. The sultan Mahmoud had several hundred guns, and powder, which were brought from the bahr kebir (great water), and arrack (rum), in plenty; which was brought in large glass bottles. At eight days distance only from Yeouri, large boats came to a place called Yearban, but it is not on the bahr kebir. Katungah is the great port, which is at some distance: to both of these places people he called Americans came; they were white, and Christians: they always demand gum arabic and male slaves, for which they will pay as high as sixty and seventy dollars each. Sultan Mahmoud produced to him two books, which he said were like mine; and told him, that a man, whose beard was white, had lived nearly three years with no money; that he wished to go, but had no means, and that he died. Bousgayey said the sultan had offered him the book; which he refused, as he did not know what he could do with it; but that now he was going back, and should bring it.

In the afternoon we went to pay our respects to the sheikh, in honour of the feast. He received us but coolly: and I was scarcely seated on the sand, when I saw near me a little shrief from Marocco, named Hassein, who, though once or twice our friend, I was always in fear of, being aware both of his cunning and his influence. Almost the first question of the sheikh’s was, as to the distance of our[279] country from India: and when told it was four months by sea, he said, “What could induce you to go so far from home—to find it out, and fight with the people?” We replied, “that we had plenty of ships, and were great lovers of discovery; that the French and the Dutch had been there before us; and we were always jealous of our neighbours doing more than ourselves.” “And now it is all yours,” said he, “and governed by your laws!” Our reply was, “that we only kept possession of the part near the sea—that their own laws were in full force—but that even Mussulmans often preferred the English laws to their own.” “Wonderful!” said he, “and you went at first with only a few ships, as friends?” “We are friends now,” said I, “and by trade have not only made ourselves rich, but the natives also.” “By God!” said the Marroquin, “they eat the whole country—they are no friends: these are the words of truth.” We had then a few remarks (not good-natured ones) as to the right of dictating to Algiers and the other Barbary powers. Algiers we described as unfaithful to their word, and little better than pirates.

Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Aug. 11.—Soon after daylight, Karouash, with Hadgi Mustapha, the chief of the Shouaas, and the sheikh’s two nephews, Hassein and Kanemy, came to our huts. Hadgi Mustapha had been one of the original four hundred who commenced the liberation of Bornou from the Felatahs. They were attended by more than a dozen slaves, bearing presents for us, for King George, and the consul at Tripoli. I had applied for a lebida[54], after seeing those taken from the Begharmis: the sheikh now sent a man, clothed in a yellow wadded jacket, with a scarlet cap, and mounted on the horse taken from the Begharmis, on which the sultan’s eldest son rode. He was one of the finest horses I had seen; and covered with a scarlet[280] cloth, also wadded. “Every thing,” Hadgi Mustapha said, “except the man, is to be taken to your great king.” He also brought me twelve very beautiful tobes, of every manufacture, from Nyffé to Loggun and Waday, four parrots, and a box of zibet. For the consul he also sent six tobes, and a small box of zibet, worth thirty or forty dollars, with two parrots.

August 13.—The long expected kafila arrived from Soudan, which was a signal for our departure: they had been fifty days on the road from Kano, in consequence of the waters; and had they been delayed much longer, the season would have been so far advanced as to have prevented the departure of all those merchants that had many slaves: going, as they do, poor creatures, nearly naked, the cold of Fezzan, in the winter season, kills them by hundreds. With the Soudan kafila came Khalifa, a Moor and a fighi; he had been at Saralo, as he called Sierra Leone, and desired to be brought to me, as he knew English. He certainly knew enough to convince me of his truth, when he asserted that he had met my countrymen. “Gun, cap, and water!” he kept continually saying: and my Bornou friends were not a little surprised when I told them it was the language of my country. He spoke greatly of some person he called the Doctor[55], whom he had seen at Bammakoo and Bunjalow, a good looking man, with a red beard, and long projecting nose, with bad front teeth. He gave away many things, wrote a great deal, and was much liked by all the people. Two persons were with the Doctor, whom he believed were French, and had come from Ender; one was called Gentleman, and the other Fausta, or Forster; “but they held their heads down, and did not talk to the people like the Doctor,” said Khalifa. “The Doctor,” he said, “wanted to go to Sego, but the sultan would not allow him to come to his country,[281] and would not even look at the presents he sent him, as he feared they had charms which would kill him, either by the sight or smell. He, however, sent him slaves, and horses, which he, the Doctor, also returned, saying that he wanted nothing but to see the country and the rivers. The sultan of Sego replied, he had heard that his (the doctor’s) king had water all round his country, and he might go and look at that. Khalifa said the Sego people were Kaffirs, and knew not God, therefore were afraid of Christians; but the Moors knew them, and liked them. When the present king of Sego’s father was alive, he, Khalifa, then a boy, remembered Christians going to D’Jennie and Timboctoo, and hearing that the Tuaricks killed them in their boat near Nyffé[56].”

On Monday, the 20th of the Mohamedan month del Khadi, and the 16th of August, we took our final leave of Kouka, and not without many feelings of regret, so accustomed had we become, particularly myself, to the people. In the morning I had taken leave of the sheikh in his garden, when he had given me a letter to the king, and a list of requests: he was all kindness, and said he had only one wish, which was that I might find all my friends well, and once more return to them. He gave me his hand at parting, which excited an involuntary exclamation of astonishment from the six eunuchs and Karouash, who were the only persons present.

[282]I preceded the kafila for the following reason: I had, ever since my return from Tangalia, determined to attempt the east side of the Tchad, by Lari, previous to returning home. Many had been the objections, many the reports of danger from the Waday people and Amanook, who had now boldly forsaken the lake, and was encamped at no great distance from Barca Gana, to whom he twice paid a night visit, and had been beaten back. I, however, told the sheikh I could take no present, or promise to the execution of any commission, unless this duty was accomplished, or at least until I had done my utmost, and that I would take care not to go into danger. Bellal, my old companion, was once more appointed to attend me, and we moved with two camels, lightly laden; for the more train, always the more trouble and the more expense. All my friends then in Kouka mounted to escort me from the town: the women assembled outside the gate, and screamed an adieu; and I am persuaded our regrets were mutual.

About midnight, while we were all asleep at Dowergoo, a despatch came to say, that the skin of a camelopard had been brought to Kouka, which the sheikh had procured for me. Columbus, therefore, returned to prepare it for preservation, while we moved on to N’Gortooah: he came up again in the evening, and reported, that though small, it was a fine specimen. On Wednesday we slept at Kaleeluwha, and on the 23d came once more on the Yeou, now a considerable stream, full of water, and running towards the Tchad, at the rate of three miles an hour[57]. My feelings on seeing this river for a second time were very different to what they had been[283] when I first looked on its waters. We then had an escort of two hundred men, and yet could not feel ourselves in perfect safety one hundred yards from our tents. Now I had only one attendant—the people about me were all natives, and I wandered about the banks of the river with perfect freedom, and slept with my tent door open, in as great security as I could have done in any part of England, had I been obliged so to travel. Other feelings also obtruded themselves; I was about to return home, to see once more dear friends, and a dear country, after an absence of nearly three years, on a duty full of perils and difficulties: two out of four of my companions had fallen victims to climate and disease, while those who remained were suffering, in no small degree, sickness and debility from the same causes: I was in health, and notwithstanding the many very trying situations, in which we had all been placed, some of them of great vexation and distress, yet had we been eminently successful.

In the afternoon Bellal accompanied me down the river, about nine miles, where, increasing in width to about one hundred yards, it flows into the Tchad, with a strong and deep current of water. On its banks are five considerable villages of Kanemboos, called Ittaquoi, Belagana, Afaden, Yeougana, and Boso. At Belagana, the sheikh has a large inclosure of huts, within a wall, where he generally has from five hundred to eight hundred slaves of both sexes, under the charge of four eunuchs, who are employed in preparing cotton, and spinning the linen (gubbok), of which the tobes are made.

The manner of fishing in the Yeou, a very considerable source of commerce to the inhabitants of its banks, must not be omitted: dried fish from the Yeou is carried to all the towns to the south-west, quite as far as the hills; and at this season they are usually taken in great numbers. The Bornouese make very good nets of a twine spun from a perennial plant called kalimboa: the implements for fishing are ingenious, though simple: two large gourds are[284] nicely balanced, and then fixed on a large stem of bamboo, at the extreme ends; the fisherman launches this on the river, and places himself astride between the gourds, and thus he floats with the stream, and throws his net. He has also floats of cane, and weights, of small leathern bags of sand: he beats up against the stream, paddling with his hands and feet, previous to drawing the net, which, as it rises from the water, he lays before him as he sits; and with a sort of mace, which he carries for the purpose, the fish are stunned by a single blow. His drag finished, the fish are taken out, and thrown into the gourds, which are open at the top, to receive the produce of his labour. These wells being filled, he steers for the shore, unloads, and again returns to the sport.

25th.—At Woodie I met Barca Gana, Ali Gana, and Tirab, with their forces, on their return from Kanem: they had been out, some of them five months, had made the complete tour of the lake, and were in a sad plight, with scarcely thirty horses left, having literally fought their way: Amanook had twice attacked them, and had sent off all his flocks and women to Begharmi, but had not gone himself, and they were so reduced as not to be able to do any thing to prevent him. They were so badly off for every thing, that they were obliged to come down on Kanem for supplies: the people refused them any assistance, and after being half starved, they were obliged to make a running fight of it, and get home as well as they could. The Kanem people were all in a state of mutiny, and the Dugganah had gone off towards Waday. This was sorry news; Bellal wanted to turn back. I saw Barca Gana, who said, “It is dangerous, but I think you may go on if you wish it. I would give you eighteen men, but you are better without them: they expect the sheikh, and going with Bellal, wanting but little, and paying for that, for the crops have failed them, you will have little to fear; but you cannot go beyond the Bornou Kanemboos with less than one hundred men.”

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.


Published June 1826, by John Murray, London.

[285]With this advice I determined on going on, and after halting the whole of Sunday, on the 27th I proceeded. Barca Gana had, on his return, bivouacked in the wadey where once the Bahr-al-Ghazal ran from the Tchad; the valley is now filled with trees and grass. This was the fourth time Barca Gana had raised his tents in the same place[58], as the sheikh had before informed me. This valley runs between Kangara and N’Gussum, less than twenty miles from Tangalia. We were overtaken by so dreadful a storm, that we halted, and pitched the tent on a high sand-hill within five miles of N’Gygami. Near this hill we had a beautiful view of the open lake, with several floating islands, when the storm cleared away. The Biddomahs are constantly landing hereabouts; and we met some poor people who had been robbed of their whole flock of goats, with their daughter, only the day before—indeed no single travellers can pass this road. Towards evening, we saw their canoes in the offing; and below us, in the low grounds, three Biddomahs making for the lake:—they saw us, and quickened their pace. For safety we all slept outside the huts of N’Gygami: this ground is the highest part of the borders of the lake, and here deep water commences immediately off the shore, while, in some parts, miles of marsh are to be waded through previous to arriving at the lake. Tuesday, we made Lari, where we were to find a Malem fighi, whom the sheikh had ordered to proceed with us.

Aug. 29.—Moved from Lari. Here we found four men, with a chief whom Barca Gana had left at Kuskoua, returning, as the people would give them no provisions. It was near sunset when we reached Zogany, thirty miles; the country was quite a flat, covered with a plant resembling a heath which I had seen nowhere else; and[286] in many parts I observed incrustations of trona. This heath is called kanuskin: the camels eat it; and in the neighbourhood of trona it is generally found.

Aug. 30.—After a night of intolerable misery to us all, from flies and mosquitoes, so bad as to knock up two of our blacks, we mounted and advanced; and leaving our tents, for Bellal would not carry them on, we proceeded to Garouah and Mabah;—which are full of people, and though annually pillaged by Tuaricks and Tibboo Arabs, yet still they will not quit their native soil. The character of the country here, which is different to the south or west sides of the lake, extends to Gala, where the land is again varied, and a little higher: for many miles on this side we had one continued marsh and swamp. I was at the northernmost part of the lake, and pursuing a course first to the west, and then to the eastward of south, for five or six miles, nearly up to the body of the horse in water, and with reeds and high grass overtopping our heads, I at last got a sight of the open lake. We disturbed hippopotami, buffaloes, enormous fish, and innumerable hosts of insects. At the commencement of the water it had a taste of trona, which, as we advanced, became gradually sweeter: indeed, all the people say, when you ask if this water you drink so strong of trona is the lake? La! la! inki kora kora kitchi engobboo tilboo baco. (No! no! the water of the great lake is very sweet, no trona).

Completely fatigued, we returned to the village of Chirgoa, near which our tents were pitched: this was a most distressing day, and we had been on our horses nearly thirteen hours. Garouah is twelve miles from Zogany, and Mabah twenty. We were some way in advance of the latter, but to Kuskoua I could not induce my guide to venture; and so many proofs had I seen, not only of his bravery, but his desire to satisfy my curiosity, that I could not doubt his fears were just. Notwithstanding our fatigue, no rest could we obtain, and another night was passed in a state of suffering and[287] distress that defies description: the buzz from the insects was like the singing of birds; the men and horses groaned with anguish; we absolutely could not eat our paste and fat, from the agony we experienced in uncovering our heads. We at last hit upon an expedient that gave us a little relief: as they came at intervals, in swarms, we thought they might also be driven off in the same quantities; and we found, by occasionally lighting a line of fires with wet grass, to windward of our tents, that the smoke carried off millions, and left us a little at ease. I do not think our animals could have borne such another night; their legs and necks were covered with blood, and they could scarcely stand, from the state of irritation in which they had been kept for so many hours.

On Friday we returned to Lari by the lower road, where there are frequent large detached pieces of water, strongly impregnated with trona. On the road, to-day, we fell in with a tribe of the Biddomah, who had, during the last three months, taken up their abode on the sheikh’s land, and asked for what was instantly granted them, permission to remain. Internal wars cause these fallings off of one tribe from another, which the sheikh encourages: only one of their chiefs could ever be induced to proceed so far as Kouka. The sheikh takes no notice, and suffers them to do as they please: he sent them tobes, and a fighi, and desired they would learn to pray: and they are now beginning, as my guide said, to have the fear of God. They were the most savage beings I had seen in the shape of men, except the Musgowy; and we had sat some time under a tree before they would come near us. The men, until they are married, wear their hair, and collect as many beads and ornaments as they can, which they wear round their necks; their hair is long and plaited, or twisted in knots; they have ear-rings also: and this collection of beads and metal is always given to the wife on their marriage. The upper part of the face is very flat, and the eye sunk; they have large mouths, and long necks; a sulky, reserved look[288] about them, any thing but agreeable: they have no style of salutation like other negroes, who greet strangers over and over again, sitting down by them:—these stand up, leaning on a spear, and look steadfastly at you without speaking. I gave a little boy some white beads, which were directly tied round his neck, I suppose as the commencement of his marriage portion. They, however, at length, produced some sour milk; and some of them came round my horse when I mounted, and nodded their heads at me when I rode off, which I returned, much to their amusement.

When we arrived at Lari, which was comparatively free from flies, the horses lay down, and, stretching themselves out, fell asleep in a way, and with an expression of enjoyment, I never saw animals do before, and did not look for their nose-bags until after midnight. We here found that one of Barca Gana’s people had the night before lost his horse, which had been stolen by the Biddomahs we saw on the look out.

Kanem, the most persecuted and unfortunate of negro countries, was daily becoming more miserable; they were pillaged alternately by the Fezzaneers, the Tuaricks, and the Waday people. Between the latter and the sheikh they hung for protection, and from neither could they obtain what they sought: the country was becoming abandoned, and the villages deserted, part taking refuge in Waday, and part in the sheikh’s dominions: the land communication between Bornou and Kanem was too difficult and distant, either by the south or north, for the sheikh to render them any effectual support. An army almost every year went to Kanem for this purpose, but they usually returned with the loss of horses, camels, and men, and were seldom able much to annoy their enemies, the Wadays. This year his expedition had been upon a larger scale, and his losses were greater than on any former occasion.

In consequence of the waters, which fill the rivers at this season, the ford across the Shary had become impassable, and they were[289] therefore obliged to return home through Kanem. Not the least assistance would any of the towns give them, except Gala, and a more wretched state I never saw men in: some of the chiefs on foot, without horses; and those who were mounted, bestriding sorry animals, with torn appointments: they all said, fighting without the sheikh was useless, as he alone could lead them to victory.

Drawn by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Sept. 3.—I had now been six days at Woodie, waiting the arrival of my companions with our camels, and the kafila of merchants whom we were to accompany to Fezzan. Woodie is no very pleasant place of sojourn, as the Biddomah have a sort of agreement with the kaid to be allowed to plunder all strangers and travellers, provided the property of the inhabitants is respected. We were, however, told to be on our guard, and not without reason. Our tents were pitched near each other, and a look-out kept up the whole night, notwithstanding which they paid us a visit, during a storm of thunder and rain, and from the entrance of Bellal’s tent, only eight paces from my own, stole both his horses. Although six or seven negroes were sleeping quite close to them, they got completely off, and had an hour’s start before even the loss was discovered. Bellal pursued them, with about a dozen people, quite to the lake, tracing their footsteps in the sand, which was not difficult after the rain; but finding here that they had embarked, the pursuit was given up.

At length, however, on Tuesday the 14th, we had assembled our kafila, and we moved on towards the desert: on the 22d of September, in the afternoon, we halted half way to the well of Beere Kashifery.

Sept. 23.—We made the well soon after mid-day; and fortunately for us we brought some water with us, for the power of our friend Mina Tahr here began to appear. This well was guarded, and we were told, that until the sheikh Mina appeared, not a drop was to be drawn. It required some exertion of patience and forbearance,[290] in a sultry oppressive day, with the thermometer at 110° in the tent, to be obliged to drink muddy water from goat skins, when a well of the best water between Kouka and Bilma was under our feet: but we were inured to hardships and contradictions, and submitted, I hope, like good Christians. Towards evening the Tahr appeared on the hills to the north-west, attended by his troop: he seemed vastly glad to see us; said “the well was ours—that our water-skins should be filled, and camels watered, before any body, and for nothing; and then,” said he, “sultan George the Great must be obliged to Mina Tahr, the wandering chief of Gunda, and that will give more pleasure to Tahr’s heart than payment: and who knows,” said he, “but when sultan George hears this, he may send me a sword?”

Sept. 24.—In consequence of the number of camels to be watered, and the large flocks of the Tibboo, it was not until the evening that our animals could drink; and even then we were almost obliged to take possession of the well by force. Our old Maraboot was struck by a spear, as well as our servants; and it was not until after I had mounted a horse and repaired to the well myself, accompanied by the Tahr, that we could complete this most important business of the day.

In the evening Tahr came for his present. I gave him a tobe from Soudan, a red cap, and a turkodie: the tobes and cap he looked at, and said, “Ah! this is very well for me; I am one, but my wives are three:—what shall I do with one turkodie?” Tahr now began a speech: he was greatly distressed that he had nothing to send sultan George. “By the head of Mustapha!” said he, “I consider him as much my master as the bashaw;—ay and more—for you say he sent you to see me, which is more than the bashaw ever did. I can send him a tiger-skin, and I will write him a letter—for Tahr’s enemies are never quiet, and he has no time to kill ostriches now. The well Beere Kashifery, whose waters are here like gold, and[291] better than gold, and all that Kashella Tahr and the Gunda Tibboos have to give, shall always be, as long as he or his children govern, at the service of sultan George Inglesi.” He now asked for water, and began washing the ink from a paper which had previously been ornamented with a charm, drinking the dirty water, and rubbing it over his head and neck: when this was finished, he laid the paper in the sun; and I was a little amused when I found, that it was on this dirty scrap that he intended writing to king George.

Sept. 25.—In the afternoon of this day we left Beere Kashifery, taking a very hearty leave of Tahr. In order to save my camels, who had seventeen skins of water to carry in addition to their loads, as we were to be four days on our road to Aghadem, I hired a maherhy to carry two heavy boxes to Bilma, for seven dollars. The moon, which was in its first quarter, assisted us after sunset, but we were obliged to move on for at least two hours after she had sunk quietly to rest. We halted for a few hours, at a spot called Geogo Balwy (honey spot), and a little after midnight proceeded on our dreary way. There was great difference of opinion as to our route, which, probably, by following our own back bearings, we might have found better ourselves: but we were not yet quite so bold in the desert as on the main; and I insisted on the Mina Hamedee, the guide whom the sheikh had given us, being allowed his own way, and my confidence was not misplaced. By daylight on Sunday we discovered the foot-marks of the camels and slaves of Hadge-Boo-Said, a Fezzan merchant, who had absolutely been in the right track, but had turned back, and gone southerly. Numbers now exclaimed that we were wrong: there appeared, however, no sort of timidity about our guide; he looked confident, and bore the abuse that was levelled at him on all sides, with great coolness: and there was a sort of conscious ability about him that determined me to rely completely on his judgment alone. No man is ever afraid of doing what he knows he can do well; and in most cases a sense of[292] power gives confidence: so it proved with my Tibboo. We continued travelling another night and day in these most dreary wastes, with nothing but the wide expanse of sand and sky to gaze upon.

On Monday the 27th of September, a little before noon, we observed something in the distance, which had the appearance of a body of men moving towards us; but from the effect of the mirage assuming different shapes, and sometimes appearing twelve or fifteen feet above the surface of the desert, the Arabs declared it to be a Tuarick party on the forage, and all our followers loaded and prepared for action. On their approach, however, we found to our great joy that it was a kafila from Fezzan: they had been as much alarmed at us as we at them, and were all formed, in front of their camels several hundred yards, in extended order, as the Arabs always fight: they gave us some Fezzan dates, which were a great luxury; and some of the traders who were short of water exchanged a jar of butter, worth at least two dollars, for every full skin they could so purchase. They told us the road was perfectly safe, although their fears of falling in with the Tuaricks had detained them seventy-two days on the journey from Mourzuk.

It is scarcely possible to convey an idea of the sensations of all parties on a meeting of this nature on the desert. The Arabs were equally alive to these feelings as ourselves; and, in their usual wild expressive manner, sang, for days after such a rencontre, ballads descriptive of the event[59].

[293]We halted at noon, at a place called Gassooma-foma. In the afternoon we moved again; and the guides told me that the road was so difficult that, until the moon fell, we should make the best of our[294] way, and then rest. On these occasions we pitched no tents, but laid the boxes together; and, either with a little boiled kouskosou, or still oftener without, soon forgot our fatigues in sleep. When we saw the black ridge that extends along the wadey of Aghadem, the negroes, female slaves, and followers, set up screams of joy, and began dancing and singing with all their might. It was almost noon when we got to the well, and several slaves, belonging to an old Shouaa who was going to Hage, were speechless from want of water; yet they ran several miles to reach the well, like things distracted, with their mouths open, and eyes starting from their heads.

On the 2d of October we left Aghadem, and by the help of a blessed moon we were enabled to travel until near midnight, without losing our way. A very sharp storm of wind from the east obliged us to halt; and we had scarcely time to shelter ourselves with the skins and boxes, before it came on with most disagreeable force: this detained us until daylight, when we rose from between the hillocks of sand that had formed on each side of us in the night.

We had the satisfaction throughout our journey to find, that, young as we were at desert travelling, yet we got on as well, if not better, than our companions; and though children of the soil, they always looked to us, instead of us to them, both for safety and protection, as well as for the direction of the route. It was noon on Thursday the 7th, when we made Zow, an oasis situated under some high black sandstone hills, where there is good water and ahgul in abundance for the camels, who had scarcely broken their fast since leaving Dibla. Zow is most appropriately named “difficult,” from the road which leads to it—a frightful sandy waste of moveable sand hills, exceeding fifty miles. Some little girls, and children of the kafila, panting with thirst, augmented by fever and illness, were scarcely able to creep along the deep sand: the whip shaken over the head urged them on—for in justice it must be said, the Arabs use it but rarely in any other way—and not to urge them on would be still[295] more cruel, for the resolution and courage of these poor things would never carry them through; they would lie down, and if sleep once overcame them, so as to be left behind, death would be inevitable.

Oct. 11.—We arrived at Bilma. Without the supply of dates, which are procured here, kafilas would often suffer extreme hunger, so scarce are provisions, and so difficult is the transport: all followers from hence agree to have one meal per day of dates, and one of flour and fat; while, previous to arriving at Bilma, they are obliged to have two of flour and fat. Slaves of poor merchants will for twenty days together be fed by a handful of dates, night and morning, and they generally thrive well on this nourishing food.

Oct. 15.—We laid in a stock of dates for the next fourteen days, and man and beast were nearly subsisted upon them: a camel-load is worth from four to five dollars; they will, however, take camels’ flesh eagerly instead of money, or Soudan goods at one hundred per cent. profit. Our tents were surrounded by daylight with women and men; the former to sell us their commodities, and the latter to look on.

Oct. 17.—We had another day of rest, and were pretty tranquil. The women came in throngs to our tents, and were willing to sell us corn and dates, for either dollars or Soudan tobes, at one hundred and fifty per cent. profit: two lean goats they asked me four dollars for; and for a sheep, six. A great deal of bustle was made about the settlement of the dispute with the Mesurata Arabs, and the Tibboo: “The Book” was to be referred to, but Hadge Mohammed Abedeen, the brother of the kadi at Mourzuk, would not open the leaves until the relations of the deceased swore to rest satisfied with his decision. This preliminary being arranged on Monday morning, the parties all assembled: the kadi, Hadge Ben Hamet, and Ben Taleb, the chief merchants of our kafila, were present: they found, by the Koran, that if any man lifts his hand higher than his shoulder,[296] in a menacing attitude, though he should not be armed, the adversary is not to wait the falling of the blow, but may strike even to death. The law was, of course, in favour of the Arab, as he proved the Tibboo’s having his hand, armed with a spear, raised above his head, when he shot him dead. On this being declared, the Arabs ran about, throwing their guns over their heads, shouting and, what we should call crowing, to such a degree, that I fully expected the Tibboos would be aggravated to renew hostilities.

Oct. 25.—From hence we were to proceed by a different route to that by which we went to Bornou: crossing, therefore, another part of the range, we moved until night, and halted in what appeared to us a beautiful oasis, under a ridge of dark sand hills. This spot of dingy fertility extended several miles to the west, and afforded us water, grass, and wood, for that and the two following days, which were to be passed in deserts. A few miserable inhabitants had fixed themselves here, for the sake of a small crop of dates, yielded by a few palms: they were all anxious to exchange the produce of their valley for a blue or a white shirt of the coarsest kind,—a luxury they were the more in want of from possessing no other clothing. This is by far the best road; soft sand gravel, instead of rough broken stones; and the kafilas prefer it on account of the wells. The oasis is called Seggedem. From hence, eight days’ distance, is a Tibboo town, and by this road kafilas sometimes pass to Ghraat.

Oct. 26.—We left Seggedem after a blowing night, which either overset the tents, or buried them several feet in the sand. Towards evening we rested, and starting again at daylight, made the wells of Izhya by noon next day.

From El Wahr to Meshroo are three very fatiguing days without water, or a single vestige of verdure. We were not able to reach the well, and halted short of the Beeban el Meshroo, the pass leading to the well, nearly four miles. On Sunday, the 8th of[297] November, we arrived at the well,—watered our weary camels, and our more weary men, and again pursued our route until night, when we pitched westward of the well of Omhah; and after one more dreary day, at night (Nov. 9th) we slept under the palm trees which surround Tegerhy, the most miserable inhabited spot in Fezzan, nay, in the world, I might almost say, and yet we hailed it with inexpressible joy, after the pitiless deserts we had passed.

The fatigue and difficulty of a journey to Bornou is not to be compared with a return to Fezzan: the nine days from Izhya to Tegerhy, without either forage or wood, is distressing beyond description, to both camels and men, at the end of such a journey as this. The camels, already worn out by the heavy sand-hills, have the stony desert to pass; the sharp points bruise their feet, and they totter, and fall under their heavy loads: the people, too, suffer severely from the scanty portion of provisions, mostly dates, that can be brought on by these tired animals,—and altogether it is nine days of great distress and difficulty. There is something about El Wahr surpassing dreariness itself: the rocks are dark sandstone, of the most gloomy and barren appearance; the wind whistles through the narrow fissures, which disdain to afford nourishment even to a single blade of wild grass; and as the traveller creeps under the lowering crags, to take shelter for the night, stumbling at each step over the skeleton of some starved human being, and searching for level spots on the hard rock, on which to lay his wearied body, he may fancy himself wandering in the wilds of desolation and despair.

On the day of our making El Wahr, and the two following days, camels in numbers dropped and died, or were quickly killed, and the meat brought on by the hungry slaves. Kafilas are obliged to rely on the chance of Tibboos and Arabs from Mourzuk hearing of their having passed the desert, and bringing them supplies; should these fail, many poor creatures must fall a sacrifice for the salvation of the rest. These bringers of supplies usually sell their dates and[298] corn to eager buyers, at about four times the price they could obtain for them in Fezzan; besides which, the merchants gladly hire their unburthened camels to quicken their passage to a better country.

A Tibboo trader, who was returning to his own country from Fezzan, gave me a gratifying proof of the confidence he was willing to place in the word of an Englishman. It was nearly night, and I was in front of the camels: he had dates to sell, and mine were expended, but I told him that my money was in my trunk, and that my camels were too tired for me to unload them: “God bless you!” said he, “why, I wish you would buy all I have, camels and all: I know who the English are! Are they not almost Mislem, and people of one word? Measure the dates, and go on:—pay the kaid at Mourzuk.”

We here voraciously bought up a few bad onions, to give a little flavour to our insipid meal of flour and water; and soon after, the kaid brought me a sheep, the only one in the town, which we cut up and divided, so that we had a sumptuous meal about nine o’clock in the evening.

On Sunday the 14th of November, by easy journeys we reached Gatrone, which, before so miserable in our eyes, now really seemed a little Paradise; and the food which the old hadge who governs there sent us, of the same kind we before thought so unpalatable on our outward voyage, now seemed delicious. I literally got up at daylight to feast on a mess of hot broth and fresh bread, most highly peppered, and made as good a meal as ever I did in my life.

At Gatrone, as well as at Tegerhy, our tents were pitched in a palm grove, the trees shading us during the day from the sun-beams, and at night from the easterly winds: the gentle moaning of the breeze through its slowly-waving branches was to us a most pleasing novelty; and the noble, nutritious, and productive palm, seemed in our eyes fully to merit the beautiful lines of Abulfeda:

“The stately date, whose pliant head, crowned with pendent[299] clusters, languidly reclines like that of a beautiful woman overcome with sleep.”—Abulfeda Descr. Egypt, a Michaelis, p. 6.

To do them justice, the Fezzan people seemed as glad we were come back, as we were ourselves. “To go and come back from the black country! Oh, wonderful!—you English have large hearts!—God bless you!—the poor doctor to die too, so far from home!—Health to your head! it was written he was to die, and you to come back.—God is great!—and the young Rais Ali too! (Mr. Toole)—Ah! that was written also:—but he was a nice man—so sweet spoken. Now you are going home: well, good fortune attend you! How all your friends will come out to meet you with fine clothes—and how much gunpowder they will fire away!”

At the mosque of Sidi Bouchier the usual prayer was offered for our safe arrival in our own country; and on the 21st of November, Sunday, we made our entry into Mourzuk, and took possession of our old habitation.

Nov. 21.—All welcomed our return: we had bowls of bazeen and kouskosou night and morning, and visitors from daylight until long after sunset, notwithstanding we had no tea, coffee, or sugar, to regale them with, as on our former residence amongst them. The new sultan, Sidi Hassein, who succeeded Mustapha, had only arrived the day before us; and as he had entered in mourning on account of the death of the bashaw’s wife, the Lilla Gibellia[60], no rejoicings were allowed on the occasion: he however sent us two fat sheep, a large pot of olives, and two sacks of wheat; we had therefore a little rejoicing of our own. The two Lizaris, Mohammed and Yusuf,[300] Captain Lyon’s friends, were amongst the foremost to pay us attention, as well as old Hadge Mahmoud, who exclaimed continually, “Thank God, you are come back!—who would have thought it!—how great and good God is, to protect such kaffirs as you are! Well! well! notwithstanding all this, I love you all, though I believe it is haram (sin).”

Though many degrees nearer our own fair and blue-eyed beauties in complexion, when moderately cleansed and washed, yet no people ever lost more by comparison than did the white ladies of Mourzuk, with the black ones of Bornou and Soudan. That the latter were “black, devilish black,” there is no denying; but their beautiful forms, expressive eyes, pearly teeth, and excessive cleanliness, rendered them far more pleasing than the dirty half-casts we were now amongst. A single blue wrapper (though scarcely covering) gave full liberty to their straight and well-grown limbs, not a little strengthened, perhaps, by four or five daily immersions in cold water; while the ladies of Mourzuk, wrapped in a woollen blanket, with an under one of the same texture, seldom changed night or day, until it drops off, or that they may be washed for their wedding; hair clotted, and besmeared with sand, brown powder of cloves, and other drugs, in order to give them the popular smell; their silver ear-rings, and coral ornaments, all blackened by the perspiration flowing from their anointed locks, are really such a bundle of filth, that it is not without alarm that you see them approach towards you, or disturb their garments in your apartments.

The bashaw was said to have had an engagement with the Arabs, who were in rebellion against him, and to have defeated them; after which they had fled all to the Gibel, which had been long the rendezvous of the disaffected; we therefore determined on our immediate departure, after having sold the six remaining camels, out of twenty-four, which I had brought with me from Kouka, for twenty-one dollars—sore backed miserables that they were! The[301] Maherhies, though handsomer and more fleet, do not bear fatigue like the Salamy or Tripoli camels.

On the 12th of December we were ready for our departure, and on the 13th we took our leave, the sultan having given us an order, or teskera, on all the towns of Fezzan, for every thing we might stand in need of. The cold of Mourzuk had pinched us all terribly; and notwithstanding we used an additional blanket, both day and night, one of us had colds, and swelled necks, another ague, and a third, pains in the limbs—all, I believe, principally from the chillness of the air; yet the thermometer, at sunrise, was not lower than 42° and 43°.

On the 18th we reached Sebha, and found our old friend, sheikh Abdallah-ben-Shibel, whose hospitality we had before experienced; with abundance of kouskousou and meat, with highly peppered broth, prepared for us. The daughter of my friend Abdallah, who was now married, and a mother, and to whom I had two years before given a very simple medicine but once, which she was convinced had cured her of the jaundice, sent me two very pretty straw fans for the flies; they were made of the date leaf, in diamonds, coloured red, black, and yellow; the red is produced by foor, or madder root; the yellow with dried onion leaves, steeped in water; and the black by nil, or indigo.

At Sebha, Timinhint, and Zeghren, we were fed with the best produce of their cuisine. Omul Hena, by whom I was so much smitten on my first visit to this place, was now, after a disappointment by the death of her betrothed, with whom she had read the fatah just before my last visit, only a wife of three days old. The best dish, however, out of twenty which the town furnished, came from her; it was brought separately, inclosed in a new basket of date leaves, which I was desired to keep; and her old slave who brought it inquired, “Whether I did not mean to go to her father’s house, and salaam, salute, her mother?” I replied, “Certainly;”[302] and just after dark the same slave came to accompany me. We found the old lady sitting over a handful of fire, with eyes still more sore, and person still more neglected, than when I last saw her. She however hugged me most cordially, for there was nobody present but ourselves: the fire was blown up, and a bright flame produced, over which we sat down, while she kept saying, or rather singing, “Ash harlek? Ash ya barick-che fennick?”—“How are you? How do you find yourself? How is it with you?” in the patois of the country, first saying something in Ertana, which I did not understand, to the old slave; and I was just regretting that I should go away without seeing Omul-hena, while a sort of smile rested on the pallid features of my hostess, when in rushed the subject of our conversation. I scarcely knew her at first, by the dim light of the palm wood fire; she however threw off her mantle, and, kissing my shoulder (an Arab mode of salutation), shook my hand, while large tears rolled down her fine features. She said “she was determined to see me, although her father had refused.” The mother, it seems, had determined on gratifying her.

Omul-hena was now seventeen: she was handsomer than any thing I had seen in Fezzan, and had on all her wedding ornaments: indeed, I should have been a good deal agitated at her apparent great regard, had she not almost instantly exclaimed, “Well! you must make haste; give me what you have brought me! You know I am a woman now, and you must give me something a great deal richer than you did before: besides, I am Sidi Gunana’s son’s wife, who is a great man; and when he asks me what the Christian gave me, let me be able to show him something very handsome.” “What!” said I, “does Sidi Gunana know then of your coming?” “To be sure,” said Omul-hena, “and sent me: his father is a Maraboot, and told him you English were people with great hearts and plenty of money, so I might come.” “Well, then,” said I, “if that is the case, you can be in no hurry.” She did not think so; and my little present[303] was no sooner given, than she hurried away, saying she would return directly, but not keeping her word. Well done, simplicity! thought I: well done unsophisticated nature! no town-bred coquette could have played her part better.

After a day’s halt, on the 22d we moved to Omhul Abeed, distant only a few miles, where water and wood are collected for the desert between that place and Sockna, which usually, at this season, when the days are short and nights cold, occupies five or six days.

Dec. 25.—On our fourth Christmas day in Africa, we came in the evening to Temesheen, where, after the rains, a slight sprinkling of wormwood, and a few other wild plants were to be seen, known only to the Arabs, and which is all the produce that the most refreshing showers can draw from this unproductive soil. We had here determined on having our Christmas dinner, and we slaughtered a sheep we had brought with us, for the purpose; but night came on, before we could get up the tents, with a bleak north-wester; and as the day had been a long and fatiguing one, our people were too tired to kill and prepare the feast. My companions, however, were both something better: Hillman had had no ague for two days; and we assembled in my tent, shut up the door, and with, I trust, grateful and hopeful hearts, toasted in brandy punch our dear friends at home, who we consoled ourselves with the idea, were, comparatively, almost within hail.

The next day, before we had loaded our camels, a pelting rain came on, with a beating cold wind from the north-west, which pinched us severely; however, we started; but scarcely had we entered the wadey, at the approach to which we had passed the night, than the slaves kindled fires under the trees, round which, indeed, we all took shelter: they, however, poor creatures, complained bitterly; and as the camels had not eaten any thing for three days previous, we determined on suffering them to enjoy such[304] pasturage as the wadey afforded, while we slaughtered our sheep, and kept the feast.

Every thing was so cold and damp, that the poor slaves, who accompanied our kafila, half-clothed as they were, crowded round the fires in preference to sleeping: they were, however, always gay and lively on the march, when the warm sun and exercise had given a little circulation to their blood; the Arabs, to do them justice, fed them to their hearts’ content, and, even to this, we usually added something.

Arrived at Sockna, I was lodged in the house of Hadge Mohammed Boofarce, a place with four whitewashed walls and date beams; but by the help of a brass pan, and a hole in the ground, I managed to keep a pretty good fire, without much smoke. I had neither host nor hostess. The house was in the charge of one Begharmi slave, who had been twenty-four years in bondage: he was pleased greatly when he found that I had been near his home, and the names of some of the towns made him clap his hands with pleasure; but when I asked him whether he should like to return, he had sense enough to answer, “No! no! I am better where I am. I have no home now but this; and what will my master’s children do without me? He is dead; and his son is dead: and who will take care of the garden for his wives and daughters, if Moussa goes?—No! he is a slave still, and so much the better for him; his country is far off, and full of enemies. Here he has a house, and plenty to eat, thank God! and two months ago they gave him a wife, and kept his wedding for eight days.” The siriah of a Sockna merchant, who had gone to Soudan, leaving her pregnant, had, by becoming a mother, gained her freedom, and taking Moussa for a husband, they were put in charge of his mistress’s unoccupied house for a residence.

Jan. 5.—We left Sockna, passed El Hammam on the 6th, slept in Wadey Orfilly, and on the morning after, Mr. Clapperton and myself[305] separated, as I wished to return by Ghirza, while he was rather desirous of keeping the old road by Bonjem. A continuation of wadeys furnished us at this time of the year with food for camels and horses; and, close under low hills of magnesian limestone, at Jernaam, we filled our water-skins for five days’ march.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

From a Sketch by Major Denham. Etched by E. Finden.




Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

Jan. 11.—A cold morning, with the thermometer at 42°, delayed us till nine o’clock before we could make a start. We passed two wadeys before coming to that where we were to halt: near one of these, called Gidud, were heaps of stones, denoting the resting-place of two Arabs, who had died in a skirmish, about two months before, and some characters, which to me were hieroglyphics, were marked out distinctly in the gravel near their graves; and upon inquiry, I found they told the tale of death, and the tribes to which they belonged. At sunset we halted at Bidud.

Nothing particular, till our arrival at Ghirza on the 13th. We found here the remains of some buildings, said to be Roman, situated about three miles west-south-west of the well, and which appeared to me extremely interesting: there must have been several towns, or probably one large city, which extended over some miles of country, and the remains of four large buildings, which appear to have been monuments or mausoleums, though two of them are nearly razed to the earth. Those which I thought interesting and capable of representation, I sketched: the architecture was rude, though various: capitals, shafts, cornices, and entablatures, lay scattered about; some of curious, if not admirable, workmanship.

[306]No. 1.


[307]No. 2.


No. 3.


[308]No. 4.


The inscription[61], No. 1, was on a tablet fixed on the east face of the building, of which the elevation gives the south side. The entrance to all the buildings was from the east, and by fourteen[309] steps to the base of the upper range of pillars, now totally destroyed. The other inscriptions were found on the loose fragments which lay scattered around.

Jan. 17.—Moved along Shidaf, a beautiful wadey, extending ten miles between limestone rocky hills, through which we passed. After this we came to Hanafs, and halted fifteen miles[310] to the east, where we found some other ruins, of a character similar to those of Ghirza: two inscriptions were perceivable, but perfectly unintelligible, and obscured by time.

On the 20th we once more saw Benioleed, and on the 24th, passed Melghra, and the plain of Tinsowa. Melghra was the place where we had taken leave of Mr. Carstensen, the late Danish consul-general at Tripoli, and many of our friends, who accompanied us thus far on our departure for the interior; and our return to the same spot was attended by the most pleasing recollections. Our friend, the English consul, we also expected would have given us the meeting, as he had despatched an Arab, who had encountered us the night before, with the information that he was about to leave Tripoli a second time to welcome our arrival.

On the day after, we reached a well, within ten miles of Tripoli; and previous to arriving there, were met by two chaoushes of the bashaw, with one of the consul’s servants: we found the consul’s tents, but he had been obliged to return on business to the city; and the satisfaction with which we devoured some anchovy toasts, and washed them down with huge draughts of Marsala wine, in glass tumblers—luxuries we had so long indeed been strangers to—was quite indescribable. We slept soundly after our feast, and on the 26th of January, a few miles from our resting-place, were met by the consul and his eldest son, whose satisfaction at our safe return seemed equal to our own. We entered Tripoli the same day, where a house had been provided for us. The consul sent out sheep, bread, and fruit, to treat all our fellow-travellers; and cooking, and eating, and singing, and feasting, were kept up by both slaves and Arabs, until morning revealed to their happy eyes, and well filled bellies, the “roseate east,” as a poet would say.

We had now no other duties to perform, except the providing for our embarkation, with all our live animals, birds, and other specimens of natural history, and settling with our faithful native attendants,[311] some of whom had left Tripoli with us, and returned in our service: they had strong claims on our liberality, and had served us with astonishing fidelity in many situations of great peril; and if either here or in any foregoing part of this journal it may be thought that I have spoken too favourably of the natives we were thrown amongst, I can only answer, that I have described them as I found them, hospitable, kind-hearted, honest, and liberal: to the latest hour of my life I shall remember them with affectionate regard; and many are the untutored children of nature in central Africa, who possess feelings and principles that would do honour to the most civilized Christian. A determination to be pleased, if possible, is the wisest preparatory resolution that a traveller can make on quitting his native shores, and the closer he adheres to it the better: few are the situations from which some consolation cannot be derived with this determination; and savage, indeed, must be that race of human beings from whom amusement, if not interesting information, cannot be collected.

Our long absence from civilized society appeared to have an effect on our manner of speaking, of which, though we were unconscious ourselves, occasioned the remarks of our friends: even in common conversation, our tone was so loud as almost to alarm those we addressed; and it was some weeks before we could moderate our voices so as to bring them in harmony with the confined space in which we were now exercising them.

Having made arrangements with the Captain of an Imperial brig, which we found in the harbour of Tripoli, to convey us to Leghorn, I applied, through the consul-general, to the bashaw for his seal to the freedom of a Mandara boy, whose liberation from slavery I had paid for some months before: the only legal way in which a Christian can give freedom to a slave in a Mohammedan country. The bashaw immediately complied with my request[62]; and, on Colonel[312] Warrington’s suggesting that the boy was anxious to accompany me to England, he replied, with great good humour, “Let him go, then; the English can do no wrong.” Indeed, on every occasion, this prince endeavoured to convince us how rejoiced he was at our success and safe return. He desired Colonel Warrington to give him a fête, which request our hospitable and liberal consul complied with, to the great satisfaction of the bashaw. The streets, leading from the castle to the consulate, were illuminated, and arched over with the branches of orange and lemon trees, thick with fruit. The bashaw arrived at nine in the evening, accompanied by the whole of his court in their splendid full dresses, and, seated on a sort of throne, erected for him, under a canopy, gazed on the quadrilles and waltzes, danced by the families of the European consuls, who were invited to meet him, with the greatest pleasure. He took the English and the Spanish consul-generals’ wives into the supper-room, with great affability: and calling Captain Clapperton and myself towards him, assured us he welcomed our return as heartily as our own king and master in England could do. No act of the bashaw’s could show greater confidence in the English, or more publicly demonstrate his regard and friendship, than a visit of this nature.

Very shortly after this fête we embarked for Leghorn, and after experiencing heavy and successive gales, from the north-west, which obliged us to put into Elba, we arrived in twenty-eight days. Our quarantine, though twenty-five days, quickly passed over. The miseries of the Lazaretto were sadly complained of by our[313] imprisoned brethren; but the luxury of a house over our heads, refreshing Tuscan breezes, and what appeared to us the perfect cookery of the little taverna, attached to the Lazaretto, not to mention the bed, out of which for two days we could scarcely persuade ourselves to stir, made the time pass quickly and happily. On the 1st of May we arrived at Florence, where we received the kindest attention and assistance from Lord Burghersh. Our animals and baggage we had sent home by sea, from Leghorn, in charge of William Hillman, our only surviving companion. Captain Clapperton and myself crossed the Alps, and on the 1st of June following, we reported our arrival in England to Earl Bathurst, under whose auspices the mission had been sent out.


[48]Slaves worthy of being admitted into the seraglio.

[49]The best information I had ever procured of the road eastward was from an old hadgi, named El Raschid, a native of the city of Medina: he had been at Waday and at Sennaar, at different periods of his life; and, amongst other things, described to me a people east of Waday, whose greatest luxury was feeding on raw meat, cut from the animal while warm, and full of blood: he had twice made the attempt at getting home, but was each time robbed of every thing; yet, strange to say, he was the only person I could find who was willing to attempt it again.

[50]Sidi Barca, a holy man, was killed by the Biddomahs at the mouth of this river; and from that moment the Bahr-el-Ghazal began to dry, and the water ceased to flow. A Borgoo Tibboo told us at Mourzuk, that the Bahr-el-Ghazal came originally from the south, and received the waters of the Tchad; but that now it was completely dried up, and bones of immense fish were constantly found in the dry bed of the lake. His grandfather told him that the Bahr-el-Ghazal was once a day’s journey broad.

[51]Dowera is the plural of dower, a circle.

[52]There is a prevailing report amongst the Shouaas that from a mountain, south-east of Waday, called Tama, issues a stream, which flows near Darfoor, and forms the Bahr el Abiad; and that this water is the lake Tchad, which is driven by the eddies and whirlpools of the centre of the lake into subterranean passages; and after a course of many miles under ground, its progress being arrested by rocks of granite, it rises between two hills, and pursues its way eastward.

[53]During the whole of this time both ourselves and our animals drank the lake water, which is sweet, and extremely palatable.

[54]Horse covering.

[55]This was, no doubt, Doctor Docherd, sent by Major Gray.

[56]This man informed me that Timboctoo was now governed by a woman, a princess, named Nanapery: this account was confirmed by Mohammed D’Ghies, after my return to Tripoli, who showed me two letters from Timboctoo. He also gave me some interesting information about Wangara, a name I was surprised to find but few Moors at all acquainted with. I met with two only, besides Khalifa, who were able to explain the meaning of the word: they all agreed that there was no such place; and I am inclined to believe the following account will be found to be the truth. All gold countries, as well as any people coming from the gold country, or bringing Goroo nuts, are called Wangara. Bambara is called Wangara. All merchants from Gonga, Gona-Beeron, Ashantee, Fullano, Mungagana, Summatigilia, Kom, Terry, and Ganadogo, are called Wangara in Houssa; and all these are gold countries.

[57]An intelligent Moor of Mesurata again told me, this water was the same as the Nile; and when I asked him how that could be, when he knew that we had traced it into the Tchad, which was allowed to have no outlet, he replied, “Yes, but it is nevertheless Nile water-sweet.” I had before been asked if the Nile was not in England; and subsequently, when my knowledge of Arabic was somewhat improved, I became satisfied that these questions had no reference whatever to the Nile of Egypt, but merely meant running water, sweet water, from its rarity highly esteemed by all desert travellers.

[58]Each time Barca Gana had encompassed the lake, he had with him a force of from four hundred to eight hundred cavalry; the passage of a river, therefore, or running stream, could never have escaped his observation.

[59]The following lines may be taken as a sample, at least, if not a literal translation, of their poetical sketches on these ocean meetings.

The Arab rests upon his gun,
His month of labour scarce begun
Of passing deserts drear:
Straining his eyes along the sand,
He fancies in the mist, a band
Of plunderers appear.
Again he thinks of home and tribe,
Of parents, and his Arab bride
Betrothed from earliest years:
Then high above his shaven head,
The gun that fifty had left dead
Rallies his comrade’s fears.
“Yeolad boo! yeolad boo!
“Sons of your fathers! which of you
“Will shun the fight and fly?”
They rush towards him, bright in arms,
Thus calming all his false alarms
By promising to die.
The sounds of men, as objects near,
Strike on the listening Arab’s ear
Laid close upon the sand:
He hears his native desert song,
And plunges forth his friends among
To seize the proffered hand.
Asalam? Asalam? from every mouth;
What cheer? what cheer? from north and south,
Each earnestly demands:
And dates and water, desert fare,
While all their news of home declare,
Are spread upon the sands.
But, soon! too soon! the kaf’las move;
They separate again, to prove
How desolate the land!
Yet, parting slow, each seeks delay,
And dreading still the close of day,
They press each other’s hand.

[60]She was taken prisoner in an expedition against the people of Khalifa Belgassum, in the Gibel, by Bey Mohamed, who, though in love with her himself, was obliged to give her up to his father, who was struck with her eyun kebir (large eyes). She also loved the bey, but was obliged to give herself to the bashaw. This is said to have been the cause of the first disagreement with his father. She, by her influence, made Belgassum, her old master, kaid over eight provinces.

[61]Dr. Young has been so good as to examine these inscriptions, but has not succeeded in ascertaining their probable date. He observes, that the two principal inscriptions, Nos. 1 and 2, are clearly tributes of children to the memory of their parents. They seem, from the legal expression “discussi ratiocinio,” to be of the times of the lower empire, these words being applied in the pandect to the settlement of accounts: they each allude to the expenses of some public entertainment. The termination is remarkable for the prayer, that their parents might revisit their descendants on earth, and make them like themselves. The names seem to be altogether barbarous: the second character, like a heart, is not uncommonly found in inscriptions standing for a point.

No 1.
praetER C . . . . . S IN
OVINa . . . . . deCEM
nAVIBUS E . . . . .
VISITENT Et taLES faciaNt.
No. 2 must be read nearly thus:—
No. 3.
No. 4.

[62]The following is a loose translation of the document:—“Praise be to the only God, and peace to our Prophet Mohamed, and his followers!—Made free by Rais Khaleel-ben-Inglise, a young black, called Abdelahy, of Mandara, from the hands of Abdi Nibbe-ben-Attaia Towerga, for the sum of thirty-six Spanish dollars, which the said Abdi Nibbe has received—Rais Khaleel giving freedom to the said slave, over whom he has no power, nor any other person whatever; and the said Abdelahy is in full enjoyment of all the privileges of Musselmans. In the presence of us, the parties being in possession of their senses and faculties. Given this 16 Rabbia-attani, 1240, di Hegira—Mohamed-ben-Zein-Abeedeen-ben-Hamet-Ben-Mohamed-Ben-Omeran, Mahmoud-ben-Hagi, Solyman.”


Bornou, a kingdom of Central Africa, is comprehended, in its present state, between the 15th and 10th parallel northern latitude, and the 12th and 18th of east longitude. It is bounded on the north by part of Kanem and the desert; on the east, by the Lake Tchad, which covers several thousand miles of country, and contains many inhabited islands; on the south-east by the kingdom of Loggun and the river Shary, which divides Bornou from the kingdom of Begharmi, and loses itself in the waters of the Tchad; on the south by Mandara, an independent kingdom, situated at the foot of an extensive range of primitive mountains; and on the west by Soudan. The heat is excessive, but not uniform; from March to the end of June being the period when the sun has most power. At this season, about two hours after noon, the thermometer will rise sometimes to 105 and 107; and suffocating and scorching winds from the south and south-east prevail. The nights are dreadfully oppressive; the thermometer not falling much below 100°, until a few hours before day-light; when 86 or 88 denote comparative freshness. Towards the middle of May, Bornou is visited by violent tempests of thunder, lightning, and rain. Yet in such a dry state is the earth at this time, and so quickly is the water absorbed, that the inhabitants scarcely feel the inconvenience of the season.[315] Considerable damage is done to the cattle and the people by the lightning. They now prepare the ground for their corn; and it is all in the earth before the end of June, when the lakes and rivers begin to overflow; and from the extreme flatness of the country, tracks of many miles are quickly converted into large lakes of water. Nearly constant rains now deluge the land with cloudy, damp, sultry weather. The winds are hot and violent, and generally from the east and south.

In October the winter season commences; the rains are less frequent, and the harvest near the towns is got in; the air is milder and more fresh, the weather serene: breezes blow from the north-west, and with a clearer atmosphere. Towards December, and in the beginning of January, Bornou is colder than from its situation might be expected. The thermometer will, at no part of the day, mount higher than 74 or 75; and in the morning descends to 58 and 60.

It is these cold fresh winds from the north and north-west that restore health and strength to the inhabitants, who suffer during the damp weather from dreadful attacks of fever and ague, which carry off great numbers every year. The inhabitants are numerous; the principal towns or cities are thirteen. Ten different languages, or dialects of the same language, are spoken in the empire. The Shouaas have brought with them the Arabic, which they speak nearly pure. They are divided into tribes, and bear still the names of some of the most formidable of the Bedouin hordes of Egypt. They are a deceitful, arrogant, and cunning race; great charm writers; and by pretending to a natural gift of prophecy, they find an easy entrance into the houses of the black inhabitants of the towns, where their pilfering propensities often show themselves. The strong resemblance they bear, both in features and habits, to some of our gipsy tribes, is particularly striking. It is said that Bornou can muster 15,000 Shouaas in the field mounted. They are the[316] greatest breeders of cattle in the country, and annually supply Soudan with from two to three thousand horses. The Bornou people, or Kanowry, as they are called, have large unmeaning faces, with fat Negro noses, and mouths of great dimensions, with good teeth, and high foreheads. They are peaceable, quiet, and civil: they salute each other with courteousness and warmth; and there is a remarkable good-natured heaviness about them which is interesting. They are no warriors, but revengeful; and the best of them given to commit petty larcenies, on every opportunity that offers. They are extremely timid; so much so, that on an Arab once speaking harshly to one of them, he came the next day to ask if he wished to kill him.

As their country produces little beside grain, mostly from a want of industry in the people, so are they nearly without foreign trade.

In their manner of living, they are simple in the extreme. Flour made into a paste, sweetened with honey, and fat poured over it, is a dish for a sultan. The use of bread is not known; therefore but little wheat is grown. Indeed it is found only in the houses of the great. Barley is also scarce; a little is sown between the wheat, and is used, when bruised, to take off the brackish taste of the water.

The grain most in use amongst the people of all classes, and upon which also animals are fed, is a species of millet called gussub. This grain is produced in great quantities, and with scarcely any trouble. The poorer people will eat it raw or parched in the sun, and be satisfied without any other nourishment for several days together. Bruised and steeped in water, it forms the travelling stock of all pilgrims and soldiers. When cleared of the husk, pounded, and made into a light paste, in which a little meloheia (the eboo ochra of Guinea) and melted fat is mixed, it forms a favourite dish,[317] and is called kaddell. Kasheia is the seed of a grass, which grows wild and in abundance near the water. It is parched in the sun, broken, and cleared of the husk. When boiled, it is eaten as rice, or made into flour; but this is a luxury.

Four kinds of beans are raised in great quantities, called mussaqua, marya, kleemy, and kimmay, all known by the name of gafooly, and are eaten by the slaves, and poorer people. A paste made from these and fish was the only eatable we could find in the towns near the river. Salt they scarcely knew the use of. Rice might have been cultivated in Bornou, before it became the scene of such constant warfare as has for the last fifteen years defaced the country. It is now brought from Soudan, in the neighbourhood of Maffatai: in Bornou, it is scarce, and of an inferior quality. Indian corn, cotton, and indigo, are the most valuable productions of the soil. The two latter grow wild, close to the Tchad and overflowed grounds. The senna plant is also found wild, and in abundance. The indigo is of a superior quality, and forms a dye which is used in colouring the tobe (the only dress the people wear) dark blue, which probably is not excelled in quality in any part of the world. The only implement of husbandry they possess is an ill-shaped hoe, made from the iron found in the Mandara mountains; and the labours of their wretched agriculture devolve, almost entirely, on women. Most of their grain is reaped within two or three months of its being scattered on the earth (for it can scarcely be called sowing); and probably there is no spot of land between the tropics, not absolutely desert, so destitute of either fruit or vegetable as the kingdom of Bornou. Mangoes are only found growing in the neighbourhood of Mandara and to the west; and with the exception of two or three lemon, or rather lime trees, and as many fig trees, in the garden of the sheikh at Kouka, raised on a spot of ground watched by himself, the care and culture of which give employment to about fifty negroes, not a[318] fruit of any description can be found in the whole kingdom. Date trees there are none south of Woodie, four days north of Kouka, where they are sickly, and produce but an indifferent fruit. Onions are to be procured near the great towns only, but no other vegetable. The people indeed have nothing beyond the bare necessaries of life; and are rich only in slaves, bullocks, and horses. Their dress consists of one, two, or three tobes, or large shirts, according to the means of the wearer: a cap of dark blue is worn on the head by persons of rank. Others, indeed generally all, go bare-headed; the head being kept constantly free from hair, as well as every other part of the body. They carry an immense club, three or four feet in length, with a round head to it, which they put to the ground at every step, and walk with great solemnity, followed by two or three slaves: they have what we should call a rolling gait. Red caps are brought by the Tripoli and Mesurata merchants; but are only purchased by sultans and their immediate attendants. They are Musselmans, and very particular in performing their prayers and ablutions five times a day. They are less tolerant than the Arabs; and I have known a Bornouese refuse to eat with an Arab, because he had not sully’d (washed and prayed) at the preceding appointed hour.

They seldom take more than from two to three wives at a time, even the rich, and divorce them as often as they please, by paying their dower. The poorer class are contented with one. The women are particularly cleanly, but not good-looking: they have large mouths, very thick lips, and high foreheads. Their manner of dressing the hair is also less becoming than that of any other Negro nation I have seen: it is brought over the top of the head in three thick rolls; one large, one in the centre, and two smaller on each side, just over the ears, joining in front on the forehead in a point, and plastered thickly with indigo and bees’ wax. Behind the point it is wiry, very finely plaited, and turned up like a drake’s tail. The[319] Scarin, or tattoos, which are common to all Negro nations in these latitudes, and by which their country is instantly known, are here particularly unbecoming. The Bornouese have twenty cuts or lines on each side of the face, which are drawn from the corners of the mouth, towards the angles of the lower jaw and the cheek-bone; and it is quite distressing to witness the torture the poor little children undergo who are thus marked, enduring, not only the heat, but the attacks of millions of flies. They have also one cut on the forehead in the centre, six on each arm, six on each leg and thigh, four on each breast, and nine on each side, just above the hips. They are, however, the most humble of females, never approaching their husbands except on their knees, or speaking to any of the male sex, otherwise than with the head and face covered, and kneeling. Previous to marriage, there appears to be more jealousy than after.

Adultery is not common: the punishment is very severe, if caught in the fact, and secured on the spot; and this is the only evidence on which conviction is granted. The guilty couple are bound hand and foot, cast on the ground, and their brains dashed out by the club of the injured husband and his male relations.

Girls rarely marry until they are fourteen or fifteen; often not so young. The age of puberty does not arrive here at so early a period as in Barbary; females there not unfrequently becoming mothers at the age of twelve, and even eleven. In Bornou, such a circumstance is unknown: for a woman to have twins is extremely rare; and to make them believe that more were ever brought into the world at one time, in any country, would be difficult.

The domestic animals are dogs, sheep, goats, cows, and herds of oxen, beyond all calculation. The Shouaas on the banks of the Tchad have probably 20,000, near their different villages; while the shores of the great river Shary could furnish double that number. They also breed multitudes of horses, with which they furnish the Soudan market, where this animal is very inferior.

[320]The domestic fowl is common, and is the cheapest animal food that can be purchased: a dollar will purchase forty. They are small, but well flavoured.

The bees are so numerous, as in some places to obstruct the passage of travellers. The honey is but partially collected. That buzzing noisy insect, the locust, is also a frequent visitor. Clouds of them appear in the air; and the natives, by screams and various noises, endeavour to prevent their descending to the earth. In the district where they pitch, every particle of vegetation is quickly devoured. The natives eat them with avidity, both roasted and boiled, and formed into balls as a paste.

The game is abundant, and consists of antelopes, gazelles, hares, an animal about the size of a red deer, with annulated horns, called koorigum, partridges very large, small grouse, wild ducks, geese, snipes, and the ostrich, the flesh of which is much esteemed. Pelicans, spoonbills, the Balearic crane, in great numbers, with a variety of other large birds of the crane species, are also found in the marshes. The woods abound with the Guinea fowl.

The wild animals are, the lion, which in the wet season approaches to the walls of the towns, panthers, and a species of tiger-cat, are in great numbers in the neighbourhood of Mandara, the leopard, the hyena, the jackal, the civet cat, the fox, hosts of monkeys, black, grey, and brown, and the elephant, the latter so numerous as to be seen near the Tchad in herds of from fifty to four hundred. This noble animal they hunt, and kill for the sake of his flesh, as well as the ivory of his tusk. The buffalo, the flesh of which is a delicacy, has a high game flavour. The crocodile and the hippopotamus are also numerous; and the flesh of both is eaten. That of the crocodile is extremely fine: it has a green firm fat, resembling the turtle, and the callipee has the colour, firmness, and flavour of the finest veal. The giraffe is seen and killed by the buffalo hunters in the woods and marshy grounds near the Tchad. Reptiles are numerous; they[321] consist of scorpions, centipedes, and disgusting large toads, serpents of several kinds, and a snake said to be harmless, of the congo kind, sometimes measuring fourteen and sixteen feet in length.

The beasts of burden used by the inhabitants are the bullock and the ass. A very fine breed of the latter is found in the Mandara valleys. Strangers and chiefs, in the service of the sheikh or sultan, alone possess camels. The bullock is the bearer of all the grain and other articles to and from the markets. A small saddle of plaited rushes is laid on him, when sacks made of goats-skins, and filled with corn, are lashed on his broad and able back. A leather thong is passed through the cartilage of his nose, and serves as a bridle, while on the top of the load is mounted the owner, his wife, or his slave. Sometimes the daughter or the wife of a rich Shouaa will be mounted on her particular bullock, and precede the loaded animals; extravagantly adorned with amber, silver rings, coral, and all sorts of finery, her hair streaming with fat, a black rim of kohol, at least an inch wide, round each of her eyes, and I may say, arrayed for conquest at the crowded market. Carpets or tobes are then spread on her clumsy palfrey: she sits jambe deçà jambe delà, and with considerable grace guides her animal by his nose. Notwithstanding the peaceableness of his nature, her vanity still enables her to torture him into something like caperings and curvetings.

The price of a good bullock is from three dollars to three dollars and a half.

The Bornou laws are arbitrary, and the punishment summary. Murder is punished by death: the culprit, on conviction, is handed over to the relations of the deceased, who revenge his death with their clubs. Repeated thefts by the loss of a hand, or by burying the young Spartan, if he be a beginner, with only his head above ground, well buttered or honeyed, and so exposing him for twelve or eighteen[322] hours, to the torture of a burning sun, and innumerable flies and mosquitoes, who all feast on him undisturbed. These punishments are, however, often commuted for others of a more lenient kind. Even the judge himself has a strong fellow-feeling for a culprit of this description. When a man refuses to pay his debts, and has the means, on a creditor pushing his claims, the cadi takes possession of the debtor’s property, pays the demand, and takes a handsome per centage for his trouble. It is necessary, however, that the debtor should give his consent; but this is not long withheld, as he is pinioned and laid on his back until it is given; for all which trouble and restiveness, he pays handsomely to the cadi; and they seldom find that a man gets into a scrape of this kind twice. On the other hand, should a man be in debt, and unable to pay, on clearly proving his poverty, he is at liberty. The judge then says, “God send you the means;”—the bystanders say, “Amen:” and the insolvent has full liberty to trade where he pleases. But if, at any future time, his creditors catch him with even two tobes on, or a red cap, on taking him before the cadi, all superfluous habiliments are stripped off, and given towards payment of his debts.

The towns generally are large, and well built; they have walls, thirty-five and forty feet in height, and nearly twenty feet in thickness. They have four entrances, with three gates to each, made of solid planks eight or ten inches thick, and fastened together with heavy clamps of iron. The houses consist of several court-yards, between four walls, with apartments leading out of them for slaves; then a passage, and an inner court, leading to the habitations of the different wives, who have each a square space to themselves, enclosed by walls, and a handsome thatched hut. From thence also you ascend a wide stair-case of five or six steps, leading to the apartments of the owner, which consist of two buildings like towers or turrets, with a terrace of communication[323] between them, looking into the street, with a castellated window. The walls are made of reddish clay, as smooth as stucco, and the roofs most tastefully arched on the inside with branches, and thatched on the out with a grass known in Barbary by the name of lidthur. The horns of the gazelle and the antelope serve as a substitute for nails or pegs. These are fixed in different parts of the walls, and on them hang the quivers, bows, spears, and shields of the chief. A man of consequence will sometimes have four of these terraces and eight turrets, forming the faces of his mansion or domain, with all the apartments of his women, within the space below. Not only those en activité (as the French would say), but those on the superannuated list, are allowed habitations. Horses and other animals are usually allowed an enclosure near one of the court-yards forming the entrance. Dwellings, however, of this description are not common. Those generally used by the inhabitants are of four kinds:—

Coosie, which is a hut built entirely of straw.

Bongo, a hut with circular mud walls, thatched with straw.

N’Geim kolunby, and fatto-sugdeeby,—huts of coarse mats, made from the grass which grows near the lake. Our dwellings were called bongos, and were about eight feet in diameter inside, about the shape of a hay-stack, and with a hole at the bottom, about two feet and a half high, which we used to creep in and out at. Air, or light holes, we were obliged to dispense with, as they admitted both flies and mosquitoes, which were worse than darkness.

Their utensils are few, and consist of earthen pots, which they make beautifully for cooking, and wooden bowls for dishes. Water, which is their only beverage, is drunk from a large calabash, which grows wild near the rivers, after being cooled in earthen jars. They sleep on mats covered with the skins of animals. Married women are extremely superstitious, in having their beds covered[324] with the skins of particular animals when their husbands visit them; and never fail to predict the fate and fortune of a child, in consequence of these arrangements. A panther or a leopard’s skin is sure to produce a boy, or nothing. Should the father be a soldier, and a chief, the boy will be a warrior, bold, but bloody. A lion’s skin is said to prevent child-bearing altogether; yet exceptions to this rule sometimes occur. It is then always a boy, and a wonderful one. He puts his foot on the necks of all the world, and is alike brave, generous, and fortunate. Leather cushions of various colours, and fancifully ornamented, are brought from Soudan, and are used as pillows by persons of superior rank; who also have a small Turkey carpet, on which they sit or sleep, and the price of which is a young female slave.

The amusements of the people consist in meeting together in the evening, either in the court-yard of one of the houses of the great, or under the shades formed with mats, which are in the open places of the town, where prayers are said at the different appointed hours by the Iman or priest. Here they talk, and sometimes play a game resembling chess, with beans, and twelve holes made in the sand. The Arabs have a game similar to this, which they play with camels’ dung in the desert; but the Bornouese are far more skilful.

Like the birds, their day finishes when the sun goes down; but very few, even of the great people, indulge in the luxury of a lamp, which is made of iron, and filled with bullocks’ fat. They have no oil. A few jars are brought by the Tripoli merchants from the valleys of the Gharian, as presents only. Soap is also an article they are greatly in want of. An oily juice, which exudes from the stem of a thorny tree, called Kadahnia, or mika dahniah, resembling a gum, enables the people of Soudan to make a coarse soap, by mixing it with bullocks’ fat and trona. It is something like soft soap, and has a pleasant smell. This is brought in small wooden boxes, holding less than half a pound, which sell for seven rottala each, two-thirds of a[325] dollar. From this tree is also procured a nut, from which a purer oil is extracted, which they burn in Soudan, and is also used by the women, to anoint their heads and bodies. This tree is not found in Bornou.

The skin of their sheep is covered with a long hair; wool therefore they have none. Brass and copper are brought in small quantities from Barbary. A large copper kettle will sell for a slave. The brass is worked into leglets, and worn by the women.

A small brass basin tinned is a present for a sultan, and is used to drink out of. Four or five dollars, or a Soudan tobe, will scarcely purchase one. Gold is neither found in the country, nor is it brought into it. The Tuaricks are almost the only merchants visiting Soudan who trade in that metal, which they carry to Barbary and Egypt. It is said the sheikh has a store, which is brought him directly from Soudan.

Iron is procured in the Mandara mountains, but is not brought in large quantities, and it is coarse. The best iron comes from Soudan, worked up in that country into good pots and kettles. The money of Bornou is the manufacture of the country. Strips of cotton, about three inches wide, and a yard in length, are called gubbuk; and three, four, and five of these, according to their texture, go to a rottala. Ten rottala are now equal to a dollar.

The government of Bornou has ever been, until during the last fifteen years, an elective absolute monarchy, the brother sometimes succeeding, to the exclusion of the son. Achmet Ali, who, descended from a royal line of ancestors, was sultan in 1808, contended for several years with a powerful people from the westward, called the Felatah. These people had gradually been increasing in power for more than half a century, had established themselves firmly in Soudan; where Bello their chief, assuming the government, dictated laws to a numerous and powerful black population.

Soon after the conquest of Bornou by the Felatahs, El Kanemy[326] formed a plan for delivering that country from the bondage into which it had fallen; and, stirring up the Kanemboo to assist him by a well planned tale of having been called by a vision to this undertaking, he made his first campaign with scarcely 400 followers, and defeated an army of the Felatahs nearly 8,000 strong. He followed up this victory with great promptitude and resolution, and in less than ten months had been the conqueror in forty different battles.

He refused the offer of being made sultan; and placing Mohammed, the brother of sultan Achmet, on the throne, he, first doing homage himself, insisted on the whole army following his example. The sheikh built for Sultan Mohammed his present residence, New Birnie, establishing himself at Angornou, three miles distant, and retaining the dictatorship of the kingdom, pro tempore. Such a commencement was extremely politic, on the part of the sheikh; but his aspiring mind was not calculated to rest satisfied with such an arrangement.

The whole population now flocked to his standard, and appeared willing to invest him with superior power, and a force to support it. One of the first offers they made was to furnish him with twenty horses per day, until a more regular force was organized, which continued for four years[63]. He now raised the green flag, the standard of the Prophet, refused all titles but that of the “servant of God!” and after clearing the country of the Felatahs, he proceeded to punish all those nations who had given them assistance, and with the slaves, the produce of these wars, rewarded his faithful Kanemboo and other followers for their fidelity and attachment.

[327]Even in the breasts of some of the Bornouese, successful war had raised a passion for conquest: their victories, no less a matter of surprise than delight, crest-fallen and dispirited as they were, gave a stimulus to their exertions, and they became accustomed to warfare and regardless of danger.

For the last eight years the sheikh has carried on a very desperate and bloody war with the sultan of Begharmi, who governs a powerful and warlike people, inhabiting a very large tract of country south of Bornou, and on the eastern bank of the Shary. Although meeting with some reverses, and on one occasion losing his eldest son in these wars, who was greatly beloved by the people, he has, upon the whole, been successful; and is said to have, from first to last, destroyed and led into slavery more than thirty thousand of the sultan of Begharmi’s subjects, besides burning his towns and driving off his flocks.

The late sultan of Bornou, who always accompanied the sheikh to the field, also lost his life in these wars: his death was attributable to his immense size and weight; the horse he rode refused to move on with him from fatigue, although at the time not more than 500 yards from the gates of Angala, and he fell into the hands of the enemy. He died, however, with great dignity, and six of his eunuchs and as many of his slaves, who would not quit him, shared his fate. A sultan of Bornou carries no arms, and it is beneath his dignity to defend himself: sitting down, therefore, under a tree, with his people around him, he received his enemies, and hiding his face in the shawl which covered his head, was pierced with a hundred spears.

Ibrahim, his brother, succeeded him, who is now not more than twenty-two years old. The sultanship of Bornou is but a name: the court still keeps up considerable state, and adheres strictly to its ancient customs, and this is the only privilege left them. When the sultan gives audience to strangers, he sits in a kind of cage, made[328] of the bamboo, through the bars of which he looks on his visitors, who are not allowed to approach within seventy or eighty yards of his person.

Their dresses are extremely rich, and consist of striped silks and linens of various colours, from Cairo and Soudan. When they take the field, their appearance is truly grotesque: the sultan is preceded by six men, bearing frum-frums (trumpets) of cane, ten feet long: an instrument peculiar to royalty, but which produces a music neither agreeable nor inspiring. Their own heads, and those of their horses, are hung round with charms, sewed up in leather cases, red, green, and white; and altogether, with their wadded doublets and large heads, they would be more apropos in a pantomime than in a field of battle.

At the present moment there is but one power in central Africa to be at all compared to the sheikh of Bornou in importance,—that of Bello, the Felatah chieftain; and from the sensation created throughout the neighbourhood of Kano and Kashna, on his late defeat of the Begharmi force, I imagine he would find but little difficulty in extending his empire in that direction: he has turned all his victories to the advantage of those for whom he conquered, by attending to their improvement in moral and religious duties. His subjects are the most strict Mussulmans in all the black country, and their respect for us gradually increased on ascertaining that we really had a religion of our own, and obeyed its ordinances by praying, if not by fasting,—which they at first doubted. Our determination to travel fearlessly and boldly in our own characters, as Englishmen and Christians, mistrusting no one, so far from proving an impediment to our progress, as we were assured from all quarters it would do, excited a degree of confidence to which we may, in a great measure, attribute the success which has attended our steps.

Wherever El Kanemy has power, Europeans, and particularly Englishmen, will be hospitably and kindly received.

[329]Bornou was always infested by robbers, who way-laid and plundered travellers within sight of the walls of the capital: such an event now never occurs, and the roads through the sheikh’s government are probably as safe as any even in happy England itself.

Although harassed by the constant wars in which he has been engaged, yet has not the sheikh been unmindful of the benefits which an extended commerce would confer upon his people, nor of the importance of improving their moral condition, by exciting a desire to acquire, by industry and trade, more permanent and certain advantages than are to be obtained by a system of plunder and destructive warfare. Arab or Moorish merchants, the only ones who have hitherto ventured amongst them, are encouraged and treated with great liberality. Several of them are known to have returned, after a residence of less than nine years, with fortunes of fifteen and twenty thousand dollars; and which might, perhaps, by a more intelligent trader, have been doubled, as the commodities with which they barter are mostly European produce, purchased at Tripoli, at prices full two hundred and fifty per cent. above their prime cost.

The usual calculation of a Moorish merchant is, that a camel load of merchandize, bought at Mourzuk for 150 dollars, will make a return, in trading with Bornou, of 500 dollars, after paying all expenses. Persons in Fezzan will send three camel loads in charge of one man, and, after paying all the expenses out of the profits, give him a third of the remainder for his labour.

From the circumstance, however, of there being no direct trade from this country with Tripoli, or, I believe, with any of the ports of Barbary, English goods (the demand for which is daily increasing amongst a population of not less than five millions), within six hundred miles of the coast, are sold at enormous prices, although frequently of the very worst description[64].

[330]The principal return which Moorish merchants obtain for their goods consists in slaves; but Bornou is scarcely any thing more than a mart or rendezvous of kafilas from Soudan. These unhappy victims are handed over to the Tripoli and Fezzan traders, who are[331] waiting with their northern produce to tempt the cupidity of the slave merchants of Soudan. I think I may say, that neither the sheikh himself, nor the Bornou people, carry on this traffic without feelings of disgust, which even habit cannot conquer. Of the existence of a foreign slave trade, or one which consigns these unfortunates to Christian masters, they are not generally aware at Bornou; and so contrary to the tenets of his religion—of which he is a strict observer—would be such a system of barter, that one may easily conclude, the sheikh of Bornou would be willing to assist, with all the power he possesses, in any plan which might have for its object the putting a final stop to a commerce of this nature.

Already the desire of exchanging whatever their country produces, for the manufactures of the more enlightened nations of the North, exists in no small degree amongst them: a taste for luxury, and a desire of imitating such strangers as visit them, are very observable; and the man of rank is ever distinguished by some part of his dress being of foreign materials, though sometimes of the most trifling kind. It is true that these propensities are not yet fully developed; but they exist, and give unequivocal proof of a tendency to civilization, and the desire of cultivating an intercourse with foreigners.

Every approach which the African has made towards civilization, even to the knowledge of, and the belief in, the existence of a Supreme Being, is attributable to the intrepid Arab spirit, which, despising the dread of the apparently interminable deserts that[332] separate the Black from the White population, has alone penetrated to any extent into the country of these before unenlightened savages,—carrying with him his religion and his manners, and converting thousands to the Mohammedan faith.

The eagerness with which all classes of people listened to our proposals for establishing a frequent communication by means of European merchants, and the protection promised by the sheikh to such as should arrive within the sphere of his influence, particularly if they were English, excites an anxious hope that some measures will be adopted for directing the labours of a population of millions to something more congenial to the humanity and the philanthropy of the age we live in, than the practice of a system of predatory warfare, which has chiefly for its object the procuring of slaves, as the readiest and most valuable property to trade with, on every appearance of the merchants from the north at their markets.

Every probability is against such a barter being preferred by the African black. Let the words of the sheikh himself, addressed to us in the hearing of his people, speak the sentiments that have already found a place in his bosom:—“You say true, we are all sons of one father! You say, also, that the sons of Adam should not sell one another, and you know every thing! God has given you all great talents, but what are we to do? The Arabs who come here will have nothing else but slaves: why don’t you send us your merchants? You know us now; and let them bring their women with them, and live amongst us, and teach us what you talk to me about so often, to build houses and boats, and make rockets.” The reader will conceive with what exulting hearts we heard these words from the lips of a ruler in the centre of Africa.

The return which European traders might, in the first instance, obtain, would not, probably, be sufficient to employ large capitals, but that would annually improve; and the great profits would, in some measure, compensate for the deficiency. The propensity in[333] the natives to war upon and plunder their neighbours, from the profit arising from such a system, would gradually subside, when other more profitable occupations were encouraged amongst them. The Kanemboos who inhabit the northern and eastern borders of the lake Tchad are a bold and hardy people, extremely expert with the spear, swift of foot, and practised hunters.

The tusk of the elephant, the horns of the buffalo, both which may be obtained at a very low price, and in exchange for English goods, are eagerly bought even at Tripoli, and at all the European ports in the Mediterranean, at high prices: the cultivation of indigo, also, of a very superior kind, might be carried to any extent, as it now grows wild, as well as senna, in many parts of the country. The zibet, or musk from the civet cat, is also to be procured, about two hundred per cent. lower than it will sell for in Tripoli.

The following are the prices in Bornou, of some of those articles which would be most esteemed in Europe, viz.—

Ostrich skins, from three to six dollars each.

Elephants’ teeth, two dollars the 100 lbs.

Raw hides may also be purchased, at about two dollars for 100 skins.

Probably the strong desire of the sheikh to improve the state of his country, and the habits of his people, cannot be better exemplified than in his having given me the designs for three coins, which he entreated might be laid before the king of England, with his request to have the stamp and apparatus for striking money, so that he might introduce a more convenient medium of exchange than the one at present in use amongst them; one of these pieces of money he intended should be of gold, a second of silver, and the third of iron. This chief, also, as well as all the principal people, entreated that some one of our party should remain in their country, “to receive,” as they said, “the English merchants that were coming.” And it was under the idea of securing to ourselves the great advantages[334] we had gained, by so firm a footing in the very centre of Africa, as the sheikh’s friendship enabled us to boast of, that I recommended Mr. Tyrwhitt’s remaining at Kouka, with all the privileges granted to Barbary consuls, until the pleasure of His Majesty’s Government should be known.

I consider the establishment of a friendly intercourse with this potentate beyond the Great Desert, by whose means the unknown parts of Africa may at no distant period be visited, of the greatest importance, in every point of view. By encouraging a commercial intercourse, all the objects of African discovery must be advanced: not alone will the cause of science and research be benefited, but the real philanthropist must see, that an opening is now made, by means of which, with judicious arrangements, thousands of his fellow beings may be saved from slavery.

Until introduced by the Moors, the trading in slaves was little known amongst them; the prisoners taken in battle served them, and were given as portions to their children, on their marriage, for the same duties; but they were seldom sold. Even now the greater part of the household of a man of rank are free, with the exception of the women, who often die in the service of the master of their youth. They are treated always like the children of the house, and corporal punishment is a rare occurrence amongst them. I have more than once known a Bornouese, on his morning visit to my hut, say, with tears, that he had sent a slave to be sold, who had been three years a part of his family: then he would add, “but the devil has got into her, and how could I keep her after that?”

In short, it is to the pernicious principles of the Moorish traders, whose avaricious brutality is beyond all belief, that the traffic for slaves in the interior of Africa not only owes its origin, but its continuance. They refuse all other modes of payment for the articles which they bring with them; they well know the eagerness with which these articles are sought after; and by offering what appears[335] to the natives an amazing price, tempt them to sell their brethren, to the most inhuman of all human beings, while they gain in Fezzan, Bengazi, and Egypt, sometimes a profit of 500 per cent. I am not, however, without hopes, that a more extended intercourse with Barbary might detach even the proverbially unfeeling Moor from dealing in human flesh; and it was with feelings of the highest satisfaction that I listened to some of the most respectable of the merchants, when they declared, that were any other system of trading adopted, they would gladly embrace it, in preference to dealing in slaves: knowing, too, how often we interfered to ameliorate the situation of any of these unfortunates, when they were oppressed or ill-treated, they would continually point out to us, as if to excite our approbation, how well dressed, and well fed, their own slaves were, in comparison with those of others, as we traversed the Desert, on our return to Tripoli.

D. D.


[63]Tirab, his favourite Shouaa chief, was intrusted with this duty, and acquired the name of Bagah-furby, Gatherer of horses.

A horse of the best breed in this country, which was sent by the Sheikh of Bornou as a present to His Majesty, is described by Mr. Sewell as possessing great strength, to be supple, and extremely active. He also adds, “His movements remind me strongly of the brown Dongala horse, whose picture I have.”

[64]The articles most in request amongst the Negro nations are:—

Writing paper, on which the profit is enormous.
Coral barrelled, and imitation coral.
Printed cottons of all kinds, with a great deal of red and yellow in the pattern.
Coloured silks, in pieces for large shirts and shifts, of the most gaudy patterns.
Imitations of damask, worked with gold thread, and flowers.
Common red cloth.
Green do.
White barracans, purchased in Tripoli.
Small looking-glasses.
White bornouses, purchased in Tripoli.
Small carpets, five or six feet long, purchased in Tripoli.
English carpets of the same size would sell better, and might be bought at one-third of the price of Turkish ones.
Ornamented cheap pistols, with long barrels.
Common razors.
Red caps, purchased in Tripoli.
Turbans of all descriptions, large amber, for the Kanemboo women, and the Shouaas.
Common China basins, much esteemed.
Coffee cups.
Brass basins, tinned in the inside.
Red breeches, made up.
Cotton caftans, striped, made up.
Pieces of striped cotton.
Handkerchiefs, and coarse white muslin.
Large shirts or tobes, ready made, of striped cottons, and white calico.
Coarse white calico.
much esteemed.
Fine do. do.

purchased of the Jews in Tripoli, or Leghorn.
The beads most in demand, indeed the only ones that they will purchase, are:—
H’raz-el mekka, white glass beads, with a flower.
Merjan tiddoo, mock coral.
Quamur, white sand beads.
Quamar m’zein, small black beads, with yellow stripes.
H’raz-el pimmel, ant’s head bead, with black stripes.
Contembali, red and white.
Hazam el bashaw, the bashaw’s sash.
Sbgha m’kerbub, red pebble, from Trieste.
Sbgha toweel, long bead.
H’shem battura, Arab’s nose, a large red bead.
Arms of all descriptions, of an inferior quality, will always meet with a ready sale, as well as balls of lead, and what we call swan-shot.


Narrative of Captain Clapperton’s Journey from Kouka to Sackatoo.

The Manuscript of the following Journal was placed in my hands by Captain Clapperton, on his departure from England, with a request that I would see it through the press, whenever the account of the recent mission to Central Africa should be published. In complying with this request, I have carefully abstained from altering a sentiment, or even an expression, and rarely had occasion to add, omit, or change, a single word; so that my easy task has been confined to the mere ordinary correction of the press.

Captain Clapperton, like Major Denham, as will appear from his Journal, makes no pretensions to the systematic knowledge of natural history. They were both excellent pioneers of discovery, and capable of ascertaining the latitude by observations of the heavenly bodies; and also to compute, to a certain degree of accuracy, the longitudes of the various places which they visited: and even this is no trifling advantage to geography, though it has but too commonly been neglected by travellers. By a strict attention to these points, by comparing them with the courses and distances travelled, and by Captain Clapperton’s frequent endeavours to verify the estimated results by lunar observations (though not much to be depended on by one observer, on shore), we may now be pretty well assured of the actual and relative positions of many places, which have hitherto been wholly dislocated and scattered at random on our best maps of Africa,—all of them bad enough,—and the situation of cities and towns have also been ascertained, whose names even had never before reached us.

The only traveller of the party, who was supposed to possess a competent knowledge of natural history, was Doctor Oudney; and he was unfortunately disabled from the pursuit of it by a protracted illness, which terminated in death. As so little appears in the present volume from the pen of Doctor Oudney, and as Captain Clapperton has stated (page 5) a wish expressed by that gentleman, a short time previous to his death, that “his papers should be put into the hands of Mr. Barrow, or Professor Jameson, provided the request meets with Earl Bathurst’s approbation,” I feel it necessary to say a few words on this subject. Nothing could have been more gratifying to me than to have undertaken and executed, to the best of my power, such a task: it is quite natural that I should have willingly done so, were it for no other reason than my having been instrumental in his appointment, from the strongest testimonials in his favour which I had received from Professor Jameson, whose acquirements in natural history stand so deservedly high in public estimation, as to entitle any recommendation from him to immediate attention. Unfortunately, however, for this branch of science, Doctor Oudney, at a very early stage of their journey, caught a severe cold, which fell on his lungs, and which rendered him, on their arrival in Bornou, nearly incapable of any exertion. It will be seen from Major Denham’s Narrative, how frequently and how seriously, not to say alarmingly, ill, he became from the first moment of their arrival in Bornou. In a letter addressed to Mr. Wilmot Horton, of the date of the 12th September, 1823, Doctor Oudney says, “I send you a simple itinerary from Fezzan here; that to the river Shary, and the borders of Soudan, and my remarks on Bornou, I must leave till another time. I cannot write long; one day’s labour in that way makes me ill for a week.”

No account of these journeys to the river Shary, and the borders of Soudan, appear among his papers; nor any materials respecting them, beyond what are contained in a very general account of the proceedings of the Mission, in an official letter addressed to the Secretary of State. The papers, delivered to me by Captain Clapperton, consisted of an account of an excursion, jointly performed by these gentlemen, from Mourzuk to Ghraat, the first town in the Tuarick country:—some remarks on the journey across the Great Desert, which appear not to have been written out fair:—and the rest, of mere scraps of vocabularies, rude sketches of the human face, detached and incomplete registers of the state of the temperature, and a number of letters to and from the Consul at Tripoli, respecting the pecuniary and other affairs of the mission, wholly uninteresting, and of which no use whatever could be made.

The Journey to Ghraat above mentioned, I have caused to be printed at the end of the Introductory Chapter, with which it appears to be partly connected, omitting some trifling details, of no interest whatever; and I requested Major Denham to add a few foot-notes, chiefly geological, to his own Journal across the Great Desert. It seems to have been well known to the party that Doctor Oudney could not possibly survive the journey into Soudan; and, indeed, he was well aware of it himself; but his zeal to accomplish all that could be done, would not suffer him to remain behind. It was that zeal which led him to undertake the journey to Ghraat, which not a little increased his disorder; for, to say the truth, he evidently was labouring, while in England, under a pectoral complaint; but when I told him so, and strongly advised him not to think of proceeding (as I had before done to his unfortunate predecessor Ritchie), he, like the latter, persisted that, being a medical man, he best knew his own constitution, and that a warm climate would best agree with it. Neither of them, however, seem to have calculated on the degree of fatigue, and the sudden changes of temperature, to which they were necessarily to be exposed.

With every disadvantage of collecting, preserving, and bringing home from so great a distance, and over so dreary a desert of twelve hundred miles, specimens of natural history, it will be seen, by reference to the Appendix, that this department of science has not been neglected.




From our first arrival in Bornou, we intended to avail ourselves of the earliest opportunity of exploring Soudan. Our preparations being at length completed, and the sheikh having consented to our departure, although with some degree of reluctance, Dr. Oudney, notwithstanding the infirm state of his health, and myself, were ready to set out on the 14th December, 1823. Accordingly we sent off our camels and servants in the morning, and went in person to take leave of the sheikh. On this occasion we found him in an inner apartment, attended by two or three servants only. He asked us, as he had often done before, if, in the course of our travels, we proposed going to Nyffee. We answered, yes, if the road was open. He replied, it was a great distance; and he feared we were not likely to return to[2] Kouka. We told him we hoped to return, if possible, before the rains set in; but however that might be, we assured him we should ever retain a grateful sense of his exceeding great kindness towards us. He bade us farewell in the most affectionate manner. About noon we left the town, accompanied by our comrade, Major Denham, and most of the principal inhabitants. Even Hadje Ali Boo Khaloom, with whom we had frequent occasion to be dissatisfied, joined the train: they attended us to the distance of four or five miles, and then took leave; our friend, the cadi Hadje Mohamed Zy Abedeen, having first repeated the Fatha, or first chapter of the Koran. We halted at the village of Fuguboo Thorio, where our servants had pitched our tents, being distant from Kouka about ten miles.

Our party consisted of Dr. Oudney and myself, two servants, Jacob the Jew, a sort of major domo, and three men of Fezzan. We had three saddle horses, and four sumpter camels; the servants, except Jacob, were on foot. There were also in the kafila (commonly pronounced goffle) twenty-seven Arab merchants, two of whom were shreefs, or descendants of the Prophet, one from Tunis, the other from Houn, near Sockna, and about fifty natives of Bornou. The Arabs were mostly mounted on horses, which they intended for sale; some having besides a led horse. The Bornouese were on foot; one of them, a hadje or Mahometan pilgrim, who had visited Mecca, would on no account stay behind at Kouka, but persisted in accompanying us, for the express purpose of having his hand regularly dressed by Dr. Oudney: he had been wounded by the accidental bursting of a gun; he invariably pitched his tent close to that of the Doctor, whom he always regarded with the utmost respect.

Dec. 15.—We started at seven o’clock. The road was the same we had travelled on a former visit to Old Birnee. We were no longer annoyed with the noise and confusion in pitching the tents, or with the clamours of obstreperous camel drivers; which we had formerly experienced when under the guidance of Boo Khaloom.[3] The weather too was clear, cool, and pleasant. A little after mid-day we halted at the wells of Budjoo; distance, north-west by north, seventeen miles.

Dec. 16.—We met several kafilas from Gubsharee and the surrounding country, going to Kouka. Their heavy goods were carried on bullocks; the smaller packages, weighing from twenty to thirty pounds, were borne on men’s heads. The bearers poise their burdens with much dexterity and ease to themselves, by cords hanging from the sides of the packages, which are carried lengthwise on the head; by this simple contrivance they avoid the fatiguing posture of keeping the arm raised. We halted about three o’clock in the afternoon.

We still pursued the Old Birnee road: we saw several of the large red and white antelopes, called by the Arabs mohur. We encamped on the margin of one of the lakes, formed by the overflowing of the Yow; the river was only about a quarter of a mile distant from us, to the north. It had now fallen fully six feet, and its current might be about three miles an hour.

Dec. 18.—We travelled along the banks of a chain of small lakes formed by the Yow, once, perhaps, its original channel. I observed, by the roadside, the tracks of various wild animals,—among others of the hippopotamus and lion. We passed one of the country fairs, held on a small hill, near the ruins of a large town which had been destroyed by the Felatahs. We halted at Damasak, near an encampment of the sheikh’s cowherds; who, on hearing that we were in the kafila, brought us an abundant supply of milk.

Dec. 19.—As the low grounds from Damasak to Mugabee, about ten miles distant, were inundated, we were obliged to make a long circuit by an upper road, frequently wading across hollows filled with water. At noon we had to halt on the banks of one of those temporary rivers which are formed during the wet season: it still contained a considerable body of water, which was running at the rate of about two miles an hour. We met here several kafilas of loaded[4] bullocks, on their way from Gubsharee and Soudan. The people were busily floating their goods over the river on rafts, made of bundles of reeds; but there being too few in number to transport our baggage, it was necessary to make new rafts for ourselves. We therefore pitched our tents; and one man was sent by each of the Arab merchants to cut long reeds, which are readily made into rafts, by lashing bundles of them across two long poles.

I proceeded two or three miles up the banks of the river, which last summer did not contain a drop of water. The lower road certainly exhibited the appearance of being overflowed during the rains; but nobody, from merely seeing it in that state, could suppose that for nearly one half of the year it is a broad sheet of water, or that the upper road itself is traversed, for the same period, by several large streams falling into the Yow. The ferry-dues, paid to the people who swim over with the rafts, are a rotal for every camel load of goods: the rotal is now merely nominal, and represents a pound of copper, eight or ten of which are equivalent to a Spanish dollar. The bullocks, horses, and camels, are made to swim over, together with the negro slaves.

Dec. 20.—Hitherto the atmosphere had been clear and serene, but to-day it became hazy, and was particularly cold about day-break. Hadje Ali, the invalid alluded to, having a very large raft, we ferried over our baggage upon it without the smallest accident, by means of a rope fastened to each end. It was far otherwise with the Arabs a little lower down the river; there was nothing but hubbub and bustle among them: many, through ignorance or obstinacy, had their goods much damaged. The greatest difficulty was with the camels and female slaves; the women screamed and squalled with great vehemence; several of the men seemed almost in as great a panic as the ladies, especially those of Fezzan, none of whom could swim; and some of them jumped off the raft into the water three or four times, before they could muster courage to cross. The camels[5] occasioned a great deal of trouble, one man having to swim before with the halter in his teeth, while another kept beating the animal behind with a stick, which every now and then attempted to turn back, or bobbed its head under water. Before all had crossed, it was too late to continue our journey that day; we therefore encamped on the west bank for the night.

Dec. 21.—We still travelled along the upper grounds, on account of the extent of the inundation. Yet the earth itself was so dry, that we were put in some slight danger by a kafila, near Old Birnee, carelessly setting the grass on fire in the course of the night: the fire advanced rapidly, like a sea of flame, and must have put us all to flight had we not had the good fortune to obtain shelter within the ruined walls of the city, which checked a little the progress of the conflagration. We did not halt, however, but continued our route to a town called Bera, on the banks of a beautiful lake, likewise formed by the overflowing of the Yow. Immediately there was quite a fair in our camp, the townswomen coming with gussule or Guinea corn, bean straw, cashew nuts, and milk; which they offered in exchange for glass beads and gubga, or native cloth. The beads in greatest request are pretty large, of a chocolate colour, with a small spiral white ring round the middle, and are called by the natives conteembalee, or Muckni; the latter appellation is derived from a sultan of Fezzan of that name, who was originally a merchant, and first brought these beads into fashion. A single bead exchanged for a quart of Guinea corn. The gubga is narrow cotton cloth, of native manufacture, about a palm in width; forty fathoms of which are usually valued at a dollar. The value of commodities in barter seems to be maintained with a certain stability, somewhat like the money rate of exchange in Europe, by fixing a local standard price for those articles in greatest demand, in lieu of the fictitious par of exchange, which, with us, powerfully influences and indirectly regulates all money transactions.

Dec. 22.—We crossed over a neck of land formed by a bend of[6] the river to a town called Dugamoo, where we halted. The banks of the river are every where studded with towns and villages.

Dec. 23.—The morning was cold. Dr. Oudney had been very unwell during the night, and felt himself extremely weak. At eight o’clock we left Dugamoo, and, following a winding path, nearly due west, we reached Deltago, having passed a number of towns and villages, one of which, called Kukabonee, was of considerable size, and contained perhaps 5000 or 6000 inhabitants. The country to the west of Old Birnee rises in gentle undulations of hill and dale. There are very few trees, except on the banks of the Yow. The soil is chiefly a red clay. The inhabitants raise great quantities of Guinea corn, and beans something like calavances. We had a very plentiful market. The people here preferred coral, and the beads called conteembalee, in exchange for grain, &c. to native cloth. Gunpowder was much sought after as a medicine. To-day we gave a sheep as a boozafer or gift, by way of footing, which all pay who travel this way for the first time; a practice akin to our usage on doubling capes, or crossing the tropics and line. Cotton seed bruised is very much used for feeding sheep, bullocks, asses, and camels. These animals soon become extremely fond of it: it is an excellent food for fattening them. In the evening gussule was sent for our horses and camels, as had been done in the other towns: we passed as soon as the people learned we were the friends of the sheikh.

Dec. 24.—Dr. Oudney felt himself much better. We halted to-day, on account of one of the merchants’ camels falling lame; the owner was obliged to send to Dugamor to buy another. The kafila kept a grand boozafer day, and all merchant new-comers paid a dollar apiece, or gave its value in goods.—Time is to these people of no importance: whatever accidental occurrence takes place to detain them, they bear the delay with perfect indifference.

Dec. 25.—The weather clear and cool. We left Deltago, and, winding along the banks of the river, or occasionally cutting off a[7] bend by a cross path, we reached Bedeekarfee. There is more wood here than we had yet seen, and the soil is still a strong red clay. Villages and towns are numerous; the inhabitants principally belong to the Alluanee tribe of Shouah Arabs. The town of Bedeekarfee is large and populous. The governor, commonly called in this and other African towns Sultan, although holding a subordinate command, had seen us when we were on the expedition to Munga with the sheikh of Bornou. On our arrival he came out to meet us, and gave us a very cordial reception. He was an elderly man, much afflicted with a urinary disorder, for which he consulted Dr. Oudney. His dwelling, large, extremely clean, and constructed after the manner of the country, consisted of a spacious quadrangular enclosure, surrounded with mats fixed to high poles, within which were several small round huts, also of matting, with thatched conical roofs, each surmounted by an ostrich egg. In outward appearance, these huts somewhat resemble our bee-hives. Their walls are frequently made of clay. The ostrich egg is a distinctive mark of the occupant being a man of rank. The floor inside is covered with sand; and the only furniture is a bench to supply the place of a bedstead, and a few mats for squatting upon, besides some carved or coloured gourds and wide-mouthed earthen jars, piled above one another, and intended to combine ornament with utility. There is but one opening or door-way, which is round at the top, and closed by a wicket. The door always faces to the west, on account of the prevailing rains coming from the opposite quarter. The grand entrance of the enclosure is often a hut erected at the western side of the square, with an open thoroughfare, where a black slave officiates as porter. Each separate hut is called a coozee.

The Arab women of this place are really beautiful; they wear their hair differently from their countrywomen elsewhere: the fashion of it is such, that at a distance it might be mistaken for a helmet,—a large braid on the crown having some semblance to a crest,[8] and the side tresses being neatly plaited and frizzled out at the ends. There are also many women of Bornou among them, who imitate the same style.

Guinea fowls abound in this part of the country: I went out after we halted, and shot five of them, besides a wild duck and a quail. Mohamoud El Wordee, one of two Fezzanee merchants, to whom we were particularly recommended by the sheikh of Bornou, and who had always appeared to me to be a man of strong natural sense, was thrown into a sad fright by losing a charm or amulet off his horse’s neck, with a number of which almost all are equipped. This charm is nothing more than a short sentence from the Koran. Had he lost an only child he could scarcely have been more afflicted. I gave him a scrap of paper to make another, which Hadje promised to write out for him.

Dec. 26.—This morning after sunrise, Fahrenheit’s thermometer stood at 49°. The merchants were busily employed firing off their guns and putting them in order for the Bedites, an ancient race of native Bornouese, who have not embraced Islamism, and who occupy an adjoining territory, chiefly protected by its natural fastnesses. They are held both in dread and abhorrence by all the faithful. Every thing being ready at eleven o’clock, we broke up our encampment. Our kafila was now of an immense size. We had been joined at Bedeekarfee by 500 people at least, who were waiting there for an Arab kafila to pass through the Bedee country; for all Arabs are esteemed by the natives here extremely formidable, as well from the possession of fire arms, as from their national intrepidity. Their muskets, however, in comparison of those of Europe, are of the meanest quality; and so uncertain in their fire, that they are hardly worth more than their weight as old iron. The courage, too, of most of these Arabs is very questionable. When successful they are overbearing and cruel in the extreme, and in bad fortune are in like degree servile and abject.

[9]The natives of Haussa carry their merchandise on the head, and go armed with bows and arrows. Those of Bornou convey their goods chiefly on asses and bullocks, and are armed with spears. The Haussa merchants deal in tobacco, Goora nuts, Koghelor or crude antimony, cotton cloth in the web, or made into dresses called tobes and turkadees, and tanned goat skins. Goora nuts are the produce of Ashantee and other parts near the west, and are chewed by all people of consequence, on account of their agreeable bitter taste, not unlike that of strong coffee, and the supposed virtue of curing impotency. They are even in great esteem as far as Fezzan and Tripoli, where they bring the exorbitant price of two dollars a score. Crude antimony in powder is applied by both sexes to the eye-lashes, to render them dark and glossy. Native cloth, or gubga, as before mentioned, is extremely narrow, seldom more than four inches in width. The tobe is a large shirt with loose hanging sleeves like a waggoner’s frock, generally of a dark blue colour, and is an indispensable part of male attire throughout central Africa. The turkadees are articles of female dress, commonly of blue cotton cloth, about three yards and a half long and one broad. Sometimes they are made of alternate stripes of blue and white (of the breadth of African cloth), or are all white, according to fancy. Women of better circumstances commonly wear two turkadees, one round the waist, and another thrown over the shoulders. These articles are bartered in Bornou for trona or natron, common salt and beads; which, together with coarse tobes, are also carried by Bornouese adventurers to Haussa. Our road lay over an elevated clayey plain, with low trees, most of them mimosas. We passed the ruins of several towns, and such of our travelling companions as were best acquainted with the country informed us it was well peopled before the Felatah invasion. At sunset we halted, being already in the Bedee country.

Dec. 27.—The temperature this morning was remarkably low, and the water in our shallow vessels was crusted with thin flakes of[10] ice. The water skins themselves were frozen as hard as a board[65]. These water skins, by the way, are goat skins, well tanned and seasoned, stripped from the carcass over the animal’s head. They are extremely convenient on a tedious journey over arid wastes and deserts. The horses and camels stood shivering with cold, and appeared to suffer much more than ourselves. The wind during the night was, as usual, from the north, and north-north-west. Dr. Oudney was extremely ill, having become much worse from catching a severe cold. We now travelled south-south-west, over a country of much the same kind of soil as that above described. As we approached the low grounds it was better wooded, and the trees were of greater size and variety. Of these, the most remarkable were the kuka and the goorjee.

The kuka is of immense size, erect and majestic; sometimes measuring from twenty to twenty-five feet in circumference. The trunk and branches taper off to a point, and are incrusted with a soft, glossy, copper-coloured rind, not unlike a gummy exudation. The porous spongy trunk is straight, but the branches are twisted and tortuous. The leaves are small, somewhat like the young ash, but more pulpy, and growing in clusters from the extremities of the lesser twigs. The tree is in full leaf and blossom during the rainy months of June, July, and August. The flowers are white, large, and pendulous, somewhat resembling the white garden lily. The fruit hangs by a long stalk, and is of an oval shape, generally larger than a cocoa nut, with a hard shell full of a powdery matter, intermixed with reddish strings and tamarind-like seeds. In its unripe state it is of a beautiful velvety dark green colour, and becomes brown as it approaches maturity. The tree, whether bare of its leaves, in flower, or in full bearing, has a singularly grotesque naked[11] appearance; and, with its fruit dangling from the boughs like silken purses, might, in the imagination of some Eastern story-teller, well embellish an enchanted garden of the Genius of the Lamp. The leaves are carefully gathered by the natives, dried in the sun, and used for many culinary purposes. Boiled in water they form a kind of clammy jelly, giving a gelatinous consistence to the sauces and gravies in most common use. I have also eaten them boiled with dried meat, according to the custom of the country, but did not much relish such fare. Both leaves and fruit are considered, to a certain degree, medicinal. The leaves, mixed with trona and gussub, are given to horses and camels, both for the purpose of fattening these animals, and as a cooling aperient: they are administered to the former in balls, and to the latter as a drench. The white mealy part of the fruit is very pleasant to the taste, and forms, with water, an agreeable acidulous beverage; which the natives, whose libidinous propensities incline them to such remarks, allege to possess the virtue of relieving impotency.

The goorjee tree much resembles a stunted oak, with a beautiful dark red flower, when in full blow rather like a tulip. The natives make use of the flower to assist in giving a red tinge to the mouth and teeth, as well as in seasoning their food. These two trees are generally found on a strong clayey soil, and are peculiar to Haussa and the western parts of Bornou.

At noon, we came in sight of a lake called Tumbum, apparently formed by some river in the rainy season. All the country to the southward and westward, as far as the eye could reach, was a dismal swamp. Just as we arrived within a short distance of the lake,—at the very spot in which of all others the Arabs said we were most likely to encounter the Bedites,—two men made their appearance. They were dressed in the Bornouese costume; a loose tobe and drawers, with a tight cap, all of blue cotton cloth. Each carried on his shoulder a bundle of light spears, headed with iron. I was a[12] little way in front of our party, and first met them; they saluted me very civilly, and I passed on without further notice, when the other horsemen meeting them, and putting some questions, which the strangers did not answer to their satisfaction, immediately seized, stripped, and bound them. Considering it a matter in which I had no authority to interfere, I merely requested that their drawers might be returned to them, remarking, it was better not to treat them ill, as they might prove to be honest men. “Oh! d——n their fathers,” (the strongest imprecation in Africa), replied the captors, “they are thieves; what would they be doing here if they were honest men?” I still urged the propriety of taking them to Bedeguna, at least, to afford them a chance of being recognised by the townspeople, before treating them as robbers. I now rode off to water my horse; when I returned, I found the magnanimous El Wordee guarding the two unfortunate wretches, one of whom was a Shouah Arab, and the other a Negro. The latter, while I was absent, had received a dreadful cut under the left ear from a Bornouese, who pretended that the Negro had attempted to escape; an attempt little likely in his desperate situation. Notwithstanding the wound, they were leading the poor fellow by a rope fastened round his neck. He was covered with blood, and Dr. Oudney assured me, if the wound had been a little lower down it must have caused instant death. I could not refrain from beating the merciless Bornouese; and I obliged him to use his own tobe in binding up the wound, at the same time threatening to lodge the contents of my gun in his head, if he repeated his cruelty. The occasion prompted me to impress on the minds of the Arabs generally how unworthy it was of brave men to behave with cruelty to their prisoners, and to suggest, that it would be far better to sell them, or even to put them to death, than wantonly to inflict such barbarities. The Arabs threw the blame on the Bornouese, and although evidently exulting in secret over their captives, they were fairly shamed into[13] good behaviour, and promised to liberate the men if innocent, or, if guilty, to surrender them to justice at Bedeguna.

Our road skirted the border of the great swamp, and we arrived at Bedeguna at sunset. The galadema, literally “gate-keeper,” or governor, was a Felatah, and a particular friend of Mohamoud El Wordee, by whom we were introduced to him. He was tall and slender, with a high arched nose, broad forehead, and large eyes; and, indeed, altogether as fine a looking black man as I had ever seen. His behaviour, too, was at once kind and dignified. Besides his native language, he spoke with fluency Arabic, and the tongues of Bornou and Haussa. He asked us a great many questions about England, of which he had heard; and said his master, the Sultan of the Felatahs, would be glad to see us. He applied to Dr. Oudney for medicines, on account of a urinary obstruction, a disease very prevalent in this country. We made him a present of a small paper snuff-box full of cloves; he sent us, in return, a plentiful supply of milk.

The territory of Bedeguna, or little Bede, formerly belonged to Bornou. The inhabitants are Bornouese, and speak their native language. The territory includes many towns and villages, and produces much gussub, Indian corn, wheat, and cotton. Herds of cattle are also numerous. The principal implement of agriculture is a hoe made of native iron, of their own manufacture. They reap with a crooked knife, and merely cut off the ears of corn, which they store in round thatched huts of clay, or matting, raised on wooden blocks from the ground. The grain is cleaned from the husk by hand rubbing, and ground into flour between two stones. We saw no plough to the southward of Sockna, a town between Tripoli and Fezzan. I inquired of the governor about the source of the swollen river we crossed on a raft between Gateramaran and old Birnee, which again presented itself close to our present encampment. He told me it rose in the country of Yacoba, among[14] rocky hills, and, running to the eastward of old Birnee, soon afterwards entered the Yow. On questioning him further about Yacoba, the name of the country, he said it was the sultan’s name; for the people were infidels, and had no name for their own country. The river, he added, was distinguished by the appellation of the Little River, and in these parts did not dry up throughout the whole year.

The country to the south-east and south-west appears to be an entire swamp, overflowed of course in the rainy season. Felatahs are in features, and in the manner of wearing the turban, very like the inhabitants of Tetuan in Morocco. They are here much esteemed by the people whom they rule for the impartial administration of justice, and were uniformly kind and civil to us. Our two prisoners happened to be well known, having only left the town that morning. They were accordingly liberated, but their clothes were not restored.

We were not a little indebted to the Arab merchants for the good name they gave us. They almost looked upon us as of their own nation; and although Kafirs, we, as Englishmen, were allowed to rank at least next to themselves. I really believe they would have risked their lives in our defence. Travelling in a kafila was much more pleasant than any mode we had hitherto tried; all being ready to oblige one another, and all vying in attention to us. The lake Zumbrum is about twelve miles south-south-west from Bedeguna.

Dec. 28.—At sunrise to-day the thermometer was at 45°. Our new friend, the governor, accompanied us two or three miles out of town. At parting he prayed God to bless us; and, laying his hand on his forehead, said he hoped we should ever continue friends. The road at first followed the borders of the marsh, by the side of the Little River, which suddenly breaks off to the southward, at a town called Goobeer. There we filled our goat skins with water. We continued our course, and shortly came to a strong red clay soil, densely covered with grass so long that it actually overtopped our[15] heads, although on horseback. At sunset we halted in the woods for the night. The horses and beasts of burden were last watered, when we filled our water skins. Dr. Oudney was attacked with ague, but luckily the evening proved very mild. For two or three nights past he has had a fire in his tent, which seemed to abate the violence of his cough. This evening, addressing me with resigned composure, he said, “I feel it is all over with me. I once hoped to conduct the mission to a successful termination, but that hope has vanished. Whenever my death takes place, I wish my papers to be put into the hands of Mr. Barrow, or Professor Jameson, provided the request meets with Earl Bathurst’s approbation.” As this was a painful subject, I did not encourage its renewal, and, according to this solemn injunction of my lamented friend, I have delivered all his papers to Mr. Barrow.

Dec. 29.—After toiling two hours through a thickly wooded country, we came in view of a large plain, with numerous towns and villages. We found the towns by no means so neat as in Bornou, the coozees, or huts, being much smaller, and often in bad repair. The people raise great quantities of grain, principally gussub. We saw five ostriches, which made off from us with great speed. Dr. Oudney was a great deal better. In the afternoon we arrived at Sansan. Our horsemen skirmished a little in front of the caravan before entering the town, and then galloped up in pairs to the governor’s door, firing off their muskets. This is the common compliment paid by kafilas in such cases. The governor was absent on an expedition, headed by the governor of Katagum, against the Bedites, who are in the immediate neighbourhood. As before observed, the Bedites have never received the doctrines of Mahomet; and, although speaking the language of Bornou, and acknowledging a kind of nominal sovereignty of the Bornouese sultan, they are every where regarded as a race of outlaws, whom it is incumbent on every good Mussulman, Bornouese, or Felatah, to enslave or murder. This[16] race is said to have no religion; but their common practice of first holding up to heaven the carcass of any animal, killed for food, belies their being atheists—a reproach attributed to them solely by their enemies. On the contrary, it harmonizes with those universal feelings of reverence and awe for a Supreme Being, which have ever existed among all nations, and in all ages. The favourite food of this persecuted tribe is said to be dogs, which they fatten for the purpose. Their country is of small extent, defended by impenetrable morasses and forests, by which alone they preserve a precarious and dangerous independence.

At Sansan we were waited upon by the principal native inhabitants, and the resident Arabs. Among the Arabs there was a cousin of the sheikh of Bornou, Hadje El Min El Hanem. The reports of our travelling companions, the merchants, contributed very much to exalt our character wherever we went.

Dec. 30.—At noon I found the latitude of our encampment to be 12° 20′ 48″ north by meridian alt. of lower limb of sun. Sansan in Arabic signifies “the gathering,” where the scattered parties of an army assemble previous to an expedition. The town had its name from a late sultan of Bornou, making it the rendezvous of his army when he went to conquer Haussa. The place where he pitched his tent is still held in great veneration, and the buildings around it were first erected by his army. The neighbouring district also abounds in towns and villages, which, together with Bedeguna and Sansan, are under the governor of Katagum, who is himself subordinate to the governor of Kano. Sansan is formed of three distinct towns, called Sansan Birnee, Sidi Boori, and Sansan Bana. The principal one, in which the governor resides, is Sansan Birnee, or Sansan Gora, signifying “the walled,” from a low clay wall in ruins, surrounded by a dry ditch almost filled up. The mosque is without a roof, and the huts and houses of the inhabitants are old and dilapidated. Sidi Boori, another of the three towns, having a signification[17] so indecent that I must forbear to translate it, is about half a mile west of Sansan Birnee, and inhabited by Shauah Arabs. The third town, called Sansan Bana, or, “of the banners,” where the sultan’s tent stood, is about a mile distant from Sansan Birnee, and is inhabited by Bornouese, who are here in great numbers, and were first brought by force from Old Birnee, and other towns of Bornou. At present they are quite reconciled to the change, and now remain from choice.

The sister of the sultan of Bornou, having been made captive by the Felatahs, was living here with her husband in great obscurity, although her brother, the sultan, is surrounded by all the barbaric magnificence of central Africa. She came out to meet the kafila, along with several of her countrywomen, from whom she was nowise distinguished in attire. The dress of Bornouese women consists of one or two turkadees, blue, white, or striped, as before described. The turkadee is wrapped rather tightly round the body, and hangs down from the bosom, below the knees. If a second is worn, as by women of some consideration, it is commonly flung over the head and shoulders. Their sandals are the same as those of men, of tanned leather, or of the undressed hide, according to their circumstances. The hair is plaited in five close tresses,—one like a crest along the crown, and two at each side, and thickly bedaubed with indigo. They dye their eyebrows, hands, arms, feet, and legs of the same colour, except the nails of the fingers and toes and the palms of the hands, which are stained red with henna. They blacken the eyelashes with crude antimony in powder. The ornaments for the ear are not pendent like ours, but little green studs, or buttons, fixed in the lobe. The very poorest wear strings of glass beads round the neck, and the wealthy are adorned with armlets and anklets of horn or brass. Ornaments of silver are very rare, and of gold hardly ever seen.

Dec. 31.—At sunrise the thermometer was 42°. Being market[18] day, I took a stroll to see what was going on. The market-place was on a rising ground, a little to the south of Sansan Birnee. The place of itself is a little village. The goods were exposed for sale in booths, or houses, open at the side next the street. The different wares were arranged each in its particular quarter,—knives, scissors, needles, and beads; silken cords and pieces of silk; sword slings and koghel cases; gubga tobes and turkadoes; beef, mutton, and fowls; gussub, beans, Indian corn, &c. They have four different kinds of Indian corn,—the yellow, the red, the white, and the Egyptian. The last is reckoned the best. There were stalls, besides, for making and mending every thing in common use. Bands of music, composed of drums, flutes, and a kind of guitar, with strings of horsehair, called the Erbale, each after its own rude fashion, were parading from booth to booth, to attract the attention of customers.

Jan. 1, 1824.—Dr. Oudney was now very unwell. This morning we had a visit from an ex-governor, of the name of Jesus, who had left the army last night. He told us the commanders would to-day commence their return to their different governments, as they were unable to penetrate into the Bede territory. This person gave us several broad hints to make him a present; but we found ourselves too poor to understand him. At eight o’clock in the morning we resumed our journey, over a level country. The winding road was little broader than a footpath. We passed numerous small towns and villages, with plantations of cotton, gussub, and Indian corn. There was more wood as we re-approached the Yow, and the villages and cotton plantations were also more numerous. We halted at a village called Obenda, not above a quarter of a mile distant from the Yow. We could procure no milk for Dr. Oudney, and his appetite was much worse. We had nothing but kouskasoo and dweeda. The former is a well known preparation of wheaten flour steamed over meat, and in very general use among the Moors and Arabs. The dweeda is also of wheaten flour, and a kind of coarse macaroni.

[19]Jan. 2.—Dr. Oudney was this morning in a very weak state. I bought a pound of coffee for three dollars from one of the merchants of our kafila, as a cup of coffee was all that he could take. To-day we followed a very troublesome zigzag track, for regular road there was none. We passed many villages, adjoining to which were long double rows of granaries. At first we were much puzzled with the novelty of their appearance; but on a closer examination we found they were constructed of matting in the usual way, and raised on poles to prevent white ants and grubs from getting at the grain. Near the Yow there were large fields of wheat, and plantations of cotton. The people were then raising the second crop of wheat, by means of irrigation.

A little before mid-day we crossed the Yow. Its channel is here about 150 yards in breadth; but the stream of water was almost dry. In order to take fish, the river was barricadoed by a row of fish-pots, made of split bamboos. They are of a conical shape, about five feet in diameter at the mouth, and secured by poles and spars at the distance of three feet from one another, the interval being filled up with reeds to prevent the escape of fish. At this period not more than a third of the aperture was covered with water. The city of Katagum stands about half a mile from the river, which we had no sooner crossed than we were met by a servant of the governor on horseback. He presented us with a small basket of Goora nuts, called, by the Arabs, the coffee of Soudan. After delivering the present, the servant returned at full speed to a party of horsemen at a little distance, who appeared to be the attendants of some great personage. The party then came to us at a gallop, brandishing their spears. Their leader remained behind, as well as their band of music. The horsemen, after saluting us, wheeled round, and rode on before us, the drummers beating their drums, and two bards singing the praises of their master in the following ditty, which I took down in writing; one responding in a clear shrill voice[20] the words of the chorus, while the other sang, or rather bawled aloud:—

Bi, kora, nama, da birkin safay:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Bokri mi tugiamasso:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Manoganinka wykigani:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
My daikee ya fruss undunga:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Fuda da goma baka soranko.
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Kazibda goma bindiga da bia:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Gewa nagege avana do dona:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Camaraka hamen sirkino:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Girtho magaje wali:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Allahu Akber you do dona:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.
Allahu Akber you Zaramina:
Ah! mi tuga yumma.

Which may be thus translated:—

Give flesh to the hyenas at day-break:
Oh! the broad spears.
The spear of the sultan is the broadest:
Oh! the broad spears.
I behold thee now—I desire to see none other.
Oh! the broad spears.
My horse is as tall as a high wall:
Oh! the broad spears.
He will fight against ten, he fears nothing:
Oh! the broad spears.
[21]He has slain ten—the guns are yet behind:
Oh! the broad spears.
The elephant of the forest brings me what I want:
Oh! the broad spears.
Like unto thee—so is the sultan:
Oh! the broad spears.
Be brave! be brave! my friends and kinsmen:
Oh! the broad spears.
God is great!—I wax fierce as a beast of prey:
Oh! the broad spears.
God is great!—To-day those I wished for are come:
Oh! the broad spears.

Meanwhile, the leader with his horsemen proceeded before us to the city. We halted at a place allotted to us and the Arabs, the Bornouese having left us to pursue their journey, as the dangers of the road were past. About three in the afternoon, we saw the governor, with all his attendants, coming to visit us. Mohamoud El Wordee had mats spread under a tree for his reception, and requested us to remain a few minutes in our tents. When sent for, we found the governor sitting on the mats, surrounded by the Arab merchants and his armed attendants. He received us in the kindest manner, and said it was quite an ayd, or feast, for him to see us, and would also prove highly gratifying to his master, the Sultan of the Felatahs, who had never seen an Englishman before. He assured us, we should find every thing here the same as at Kouka, with the sheikh of Bornou. Dr. Oudney now presented the sheikh’s letter, which he handed to one of his attendants. The Arab merchants were loud in our praises, and particularly expatiated on the circumstance of our nation being ever in strict alliance with the Sublime Porte, and of having frequently assisted the Grand Signor. The governor, who was named Duncowa, was a stout, tall fellow, blunt and good natured, and lavish in his promises. We shook hands at parting, which is the custom of the Felatahs, or Felanees,[22] as they call themselves. On his return home he sent us some wheat, of which we were in great want, with honey, and Goora nuts. By the advice of Mohamoud El Wordee, we sent a present of a few cloves, and a little cinnamon, in return; which, however small, is every where the proper acknowledgment on such occasions. On account of the scantiness of our own stock of every thing, we now heartily wished for no more presents.

After the governor left us, we were waited upon by a Tripoline merchant, of the name of Hameda, a good-looking, civil sort of man, and extremely rich. He possessed no less than five hundred slaves, and had a great number of horses. He was second only to the governor in all Katagum, and had served with the Felatahs in most of their wars. Referring to the result of the recent expedition, I remarked it would have been better if the Felatahs had not gone at all against the Bedites, who would now be emboldened in their depredations. He replied, the Felatahs had become rich, and were now afraid of blows: it was otherwise with them when poor; their head men then led them to battle, dauntlessly braving danger and death, whereas now-a-days their chiefs lagged behind, and sent their people forward to the combat, who, in turn, dreaded a broken head as much as their superiors, and would no longer fight, if it might anywise be avoided.—Hameda had occasion to consult Dr. Oudney, who strongly recommended his immediate return to Tripoli, to undergo a surgical operation. He seemed very grateful, and offered us his house, and whatever the country afforded. He sent milk for Dr. Oudney, and bazeen, or flour-pudding, for me. Bazeen is made of wheat, barley, or Guinea corn, and eaten with butter or sauce.

Dr. Oudney underwent here, as usual, much fatigue,—more, indeed, than his strength was equal to; for the news of our arrival spread before us, and at the different towns and villages through which we passed, they brought to us all the sick to be cured. Nor was it the sick alone who sought advice, but men and women, of all[23] descriptions; the former for some remedy against impotency, and the latter to remove sterility. Many came for preventives against apprehended or barely possible calamities; and, in anticipation of all the imaginable ills of life, resorted to us in full hope and confidence of our being able to ward them off. The women were particularly fanciful in these matters, and were frequently importunate to receive medicines that would preserve the affections of their gallants, ensure them husbands, or, what was highly criminal, effect the death of some favoured rival. The governor made us a present of three sheep, and sent the Arab merchants eight bullocks.

Jan. 3.—Dr. Oudney was a little better, but still very weak. Having early prepared our presents, which consisted of one of our tea-trays, ten yards of red silk, an Indian palempore, or bed coverlet, a piece of white linen cloth, with gold stripes, of Egyptian manufacture, a pound of cinnamon, and a pound of cloves, we waited on the governor at eight o’clock in the morning, accompanied by Mohamoud El Wordee. We stopped about a quarter of an hour in the house of Hameda, till the governor was ready to receive us. When introduced, we found no parade of armed men, as at Kouka, and the other towns in Bornou. Duncowa was sitting under a rude canopy, on a low bank of earth about six feet square. There were only three old men with him. We shook hands, and sat down on the floor before him. He importunately laid hold of me, and wished me to sit by his side. I, however, declined so high an honour. We were presented with Goora nuts, and he repeated the promises he had made yesterday. When we displayed our presents, and explained the use of the tray, and what it was made of, he was highly delighted; and asked us if we wanted slaves, or what else, for every thing he had or could procure was at our disposal. With regard to slaves, we told him a slave was unknown in England, and the moment one set foot on our shores, he was instantly free. We also explained our great endeavours to put[24] a stop to the slave trade on the seacoast, and that our king and master (to use the African idiom) had given immense sums to have it abolished; besides sending, every year, several large ships to capture vessels engaged in that traffic, and to set the slaves at liberty. “What, then, do you want?” he asked, with some surprise. We answered, we only desired his friendship, and condescending permission to collect the flowers and plants of the country, and to visit its rivers. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed, “you do not want slaves, you do not want horses, you do not want money, but wish only to see the world? You must go to the sultan Bello, who is a learned and pious man, and will be glad to see men who have seen so much. You shall have all, and see all, that is in my province; and I am sure my master will grant every thing you wish.” He then descended from the seat of honour, sat down on the floor by our side, and shook hands with us. This is the greatest compliment one man of rank can pay to another in this country.

One of their lucky omens took place at the moment. My servant, who had assisted in bringing the presents, got up to receive the Goora nuts presented to me by the governor’s orders, and in rising he overturned a pot of honey which had also been given to us, but without breaking it, the honey running out on the floor. Had the pot been broken, the omen would have been unfortunate. As it was, the governor was highly elated, and graciously ordered the poor to be called in to lick up the honey. They immediately made their appearance, equally rejoiced at the lucky omen, and upon their knees quickly despatched the honey, not without much strife and squabbling. One man came off with a double allowance, happening to have a long beard, which he carefully cleaned into his hand for a bonne bouche, after the repast on the ground was finished.

We took leave of the governor and returned to our tents, where a great concourse of men and women flocked to Dr. Oudney for medicines. In the evening we had boiled dried meat, with bazeen,[25] and excellent bread, sent us by our friend Hameda; also milk from the governor, and a live sheep from a black shreef, who had applied to Dr. Oudney for advice. To-day the Doctor felt himself very weak, in consequence of a diarrhœa, and the want of proper comforts in his infirm condition. At noon I took an observation of the sun. At first the natives eagerly crowded round me, but sat down very quietly at a little distance, on telling them they were in my way. I was asked the old question every where repeatedly, if I was looking at my country. I explained to them, as well as I was able, that I merely ascertained in this manner how far south I had come from home.

Jan. 4th.—The weather cold and hazy,—thermometer 48°. Mohamoud El Wordee having gone to a city called Hadeeja, one day’s journey to the northward, where he was to remain a day or two, it was agreed beforehand we should go into the town and live in Hameda’s house until El Wordee’s return, as the kafila was to proceed to Kano the following day. At sunrise the governor sent to us to come into town, but on account of Dr. Oudney’s illness, we waited till the heat of the day. About noon we had the camels loaded, and Dr. Oudney and I rode forward, accompanied by the governor’s people and Hadje ben Hamed, the sheikh of the kafila, or chief who regulates its march, stage, and route. On entering the town, we were conducted to a house that adjoined Hameda’s, which we supposed to be his. The people around us, after consulting together, told us we had better go and see the governor. Dr. Oudney assented, but wished first to wait for our baggage. The people, however, urged us to go without further delay; and we complied with their entreaties. The governor met us at the gate of his residence, took us by the hand, and led us first to one coozee, then to another, saying, “This is for you,—that is for the Doctor,—there is a place for your horses.” Seating himself on a mat, he bade us sit down. Our baggage was brought to us in a few minutes. “Abdullah,”[26] said he, addressing me by my travelling name, “show me the glass with which you look at the sun.” It seemed the people had told him what they saw me doing yesterday. I had now to explain to him the use of my compass, sextant, spy-glass, and other instruments. He begged of me a little of the quicksilver used for an artificial horizon in taking observations. This was like asking me to part with my heart’s blood; but as he was a governor, and evidently a man of considerable influence, I could not refuse him. I took much pains to make him understand the use of the watch and sextant. I easily made him comprehend the latter, by telling him it was to enable me to find out the distance north or south, from any other place: illustrating the matter, by telling him the north star was higher in the heavens at Mourzuk than here, and still higher at Tripoli; a circumstance the natives of these countries all confirmed, to whom I shifted the trouble of making further explanations. The telescope next was an object of surprise. He said all the places he saw were brought near to him, and ascended the walls and house tops to have a better view. Each of his attendants also had a peep; but an old shreef would on no account look through it, but ran away as if from a serpent ready to sting him. As to these shreefs, or alleged descendants of the Prophet, some of whom are as black as jet, I wonder what Mahomet, were he to rise from the dead, would say to his sable progeny, not merely black in colour, but with the true Negro features! The phenomenon, however, is less wonderful, when we consider how soon an intermixture, whether black or white, is lost in the course of a few generations, although the lineal descent continue uninterrupted.

We received a plentiful supply of provisions from Hameda. The governor also sent us fish and ficcory. The latter consists of pounded Guinea corn dried in the sun, mixed with water or milk, and seasoned with pepper, but has a sour, disagreeable taste.

Katagum, the capital of a province of the same name, is in[27] lat. 12° 17′ 11″ north, and in long. about 11° east. This province formed the frontier of Bornou before the Felatah conquest. At present it includes the subject provinces of Sansan and Bedeguna. It extends nearly one day’s journey to the northward, and five days’ journey to the southward, where it is bounded by an independent territory, called after the inhabitants Kurry-kurry. On the east it is bounded by the kingdom of Bornou, and on the west by the neighbouring province of Kano. From the best information I could obtain, the whole province can send into the field about 4,000 horse and 20,000 foot, armed with bows, swords, and spears. The principal productions are grain and bullocks, which, with slaves brought from the adjoining territories of the Kafirs, are the staple articles of trade. Here we found, for the first time, kowrie shells in circulation as money; for hitherto native cloth, or some other commodity of standard price, had been the common medium of exchange. This city was the strongest we had seen since we left Tripoli. It is in the form of a square, the sides facing the cardinal points of the compass, with four corresponding gates, which are regularly opened and shut at sunrise and sunset. It is defended by two parallel walls of red clay, and three dry ditches, one without, one within, and the third between the two walls, which are about twenty feet high and ten feet broad at the base, gradually decreasing upwards to a breadth just sufficient for a narrow footpath. This is protected by a low parapet, and is ascended by flights of steps at convenient distances. Both walls are of the same height, without loopholes or towers, and, instead of being crenelated, terminate in a waving line. The gates are defended by a platform inside over the entrance, where a body of townsmen take their station to repel assailants. The three ditches are of equal dimensions, each about fifteen feet deep and twenty feet wide. There is only one mosque, and this almost in ruins. The governor’s residence is in the centre of the city, and occupies a space of about 500 yards square. The governor and principal[28] inhabitants have houses made entirely of clay, besides the coozees already described. They are flat-roofed, in the Turkish style, and sometimes of two stories, with square or semicircular openings for windows. The city may contain from 7,000 to 8,000 inhabitants; including all merchants and tradesmen, together with the servants or slaves of the governor.

Not far to the southward of Katagum is the country of Yacoba, of which I shall mention a few particulars, collected from natives who were here in slavery, as well as from Hameda. It is called by the Mahometan nations Boushy, or country of infidels. It is extremely hilly: the hills, consisting of limestone, are said to yield antimony and silver. The inhabitants have received the name of Yemyems, or cannibals; but with what justice I know not. Most probably the imputation is an idle Arab tale, and undoubtedly the more suspicious, from the well known Moslem abhorrence of Kafirs. On interrogating the Arabs more strictly, they allowed they had never witnessed the fact; but affirmed they had seen human heads and limbs hung up in the dwellings of the inhabitants. At Mourzuk, when we first arrived, a similar report was circulated to our defamation; whether in jest or earnest, I could not ascertain; but the prejudice soon wore off when we were better known.

The river Yow, which is within a quarter of a mile of Katagum, is said to take its rise to the southward among the hills of Boushy, between Adamowa and Jacoba, and after passing Katagum, to turn abruptly to the eastward; it finally empties itself into the Tshad. Its waters were dull and sluggish, as far as we observed; and during the middle of the dry season the naked channel and a few pools of water, sometimes far apart, are all that remain of the river. The breadth of the channel, at the place where we last crossed, was, as above mentioned, about 150 yards; and this may be taken as a fair average breadth from that spot downwards as far as the lake,[29] where, however, the depth seemed considerably increased. There is a prevalent opinion among the inhabitants and Arab merchants that, during the rainy season, the waters of this river rise and fall alternately every seven days; which notion, perhaps, originates in a kind of vicissitude in the fall of rain that I have remarked myself during my residence in Bornou.

Jan. 5.—Dr. Oudney thought himself a little better, but the diarrhœa still continued. The kafila left us this morning for Kano. We had a visit from the governor; I happened to be from home, and was sent for. On my return the governor was gone, and had left a message for me to follow him with the compass, spy-glass, &c. as he wished me to show them to some men of rank: I followed, and found him seated in the company of two or three Felatahs, to whom I had to explain the use of the instruments over again; but a good deal of trouble was taken off my hands by the governor himself, and his Fezzanee servants. I was then taken to visit his favourite wife, who pretended, of course, to be much frightened at the sight of a Christian; she was a jolly, good looking, black wench. The governor had a great number of other women besides, whose dwellings were all very clean and neat. I was next conducted through other quarters of the residence; and, on reaching the stables, we all sat down in an open court, where the cadi and another learned Felatah joined us. The same explanations had again to be repeated. The cadi, who had made the pilgrimage of Mecca, and was acquainted with Arabic learning, appeared to be a man of sense and discernment, and explained the use of the watch to his countrymen with much perspicuity; he was a Felatah, about fifty years of age,—his complexion coal black,—with a hook nose, large eyes, and a full bushy beard. The office of cadi or judge, I may remark, is frequently hereditary, and there is one in every town to administer justice: his sole qualification is a competent knowledge of the Koran, although[30] his decisions can be reversed only by the governor of the province, or the sultan of the country.

The governor resides in a large square, surrounded by a wall of red clay, at least thirty feet high, and divided by lower walls into four principal quarters: besides several flat-roofed houses of clay, it contained a number of coozees, for the most part ranged in a single row, just within the great walls. These are principally for the slaves and guards attached to the governor’s establishment; it was here we were lodged, the entrance being guarded night and day. Near the eastern gate there was a sort of council or audience hall, from which a passage led to the women’s apartments, on the north side of the square. The stables occupied one quarter, each horse having a hut to itself. The pillars that supported a room over the western gate were superior to any I had seen in central Africa; they were formed of the trunks of the palm tree, fashioned into columns, with rude pedestals and capitals of no inelegant appearance, all incrusted with clay.

Jan. 6.—Dr. Oudney was much better to-day. In the afternoon we had a visit from the governor: I had again to show him the sextant and other instruments. He was particularly inquisitive about the rockets we had given to the sheikh of Bornou; he persisted we had still some of them remaining, and when convinced of the contrary, seemed exceedingly desirous I should make him a few. I assured him, with regret, of my inability; while I professed it to be an express duty imposed on me by the king my master, to instruct him and his countrymen in every thing useful and curious. Among many other questions, he asked me if I ever prayed; I said, I should not be a good man if I did not pray, but that we usually prayed alone: at which answer he was highly amused.

Hadje Ali Boo Khaloom (the brother of the late commander of our escort from Mourzuk) arrived here to-day, with a kafila from[31] Kouka: they left that place seven days after us. I heartily wished never to see the face of this arrant rogue.

Jan. 7.—The governor paid us an early visit this morning; he came at once into my tent, while I was writing, and I was again obliged to show him my instruments. On opening my chest, there was a small box of powder I had brought from England, still untouched; I was very loth to tell him what it was, but it attracted his attention, and I was compelled to yield to his solicitations for a small supply. To humour him further, I attended him to fire at a mark; I fired twice with my rifle, and happened to hit the mark both times, at a distance of sixty or seventy yards, when he called out “Ouda billa min Sheateen a rajeem,”—“The Lord preserve me from devils!” yet, in token of his approbation, he threw over my shoulders, with his own hands, a very handsome tobe.

Jan. 8.—I was indisposed all day, having caught cold.

Jan. 9.—This morning Hadje Ali Boo Khaloom left us for Kano. He tried all in his power to induce us to accompany him, but we knew him too well of old: he even asked the governor to send one of his people with him, but was only laughed at for his assurance.

Our servants caught a female rat, or bandicoot, as it is called in the East Indies, which measured two feet seven inches from the nose to the tip of the tail. The colour of the body was light grey, the tail black, and covered with long hairs, and the head much rounder than that of the common rat.

The diarrhœa of Dr. Oudney had ceased, but the cough was no better, and he was otherwise extremely ill: he had himself cupped on the left side of the chest by one of the natives. This operation is dexterously performed by them; they make the scarifications with a razor, and afterwards apply a perforated horn, from which they first extract the air by suction, and then stop the aperture with the thumb.

[32]We had a visit from the wife of the cadi, a sister of Duncowa, I gave her a brass ring, a pair of scissors, and some beads.

In the afternoon, I was not a little astonished at a message from the governor, brought us by El Wordee, acquainting us that Hadje Ali had told him we were spies and bad people, and wishing to know from us if it was true. I did not think proper to disturb Dr. Oudney by relating to him this calumny, and merely desired El Wordee to say to the governor, that as we were in his power he could do with us as he pleased; at the same time referring him particularly to the letter of the sheikh of Bornou. El Wordee came back almost immediately, and assured me the governor was satisfied.

Jan. 10.—To-day we left Katagum; the governor having furnished us with a guide. We had a bassoor, or frame of wood, put on a camel, and spread Dr. Oudney’s bed upon it, as he was now too weak to ride on horseback; I also felt myself unwell. The governor accompanied us four miles out of town. At half past three o’clock in the afternoon we were obliged to halt, on account of Dr. Oudney’s weakness; he was quite worn out, and could proceed no further; the road, too, being crooked and entangled, and lying along a large swamp to the south. We passed a number of villages.

Jan. 11.—At eight o’clock in the morning we proceeded on our journey; but, at noon, were obliged to stop at the town of Murmur, on account of the alarming situation of Dr. Oudney, who had now become so feeble and exhausted, that I scarcely expected him to survive another day. He had been wasting away in a slow consumption, ever since we left the hills of Obarree, in Fezzan; where he was seized with inflammation of the chest, in consequence of sitting down in a current of cold air after being overheated.

Jan. 12.—Dr. Oudney drank a cup of coffee at day-break, and, by his desire, I ordered the camels to be loaded. I then assisted him to dress, and, with the support of his servant, he came out of the[33] tent; but, before he could be lifted on the camel, I observed the ghastliness of death in his countenance, and had him immediately replaced in the tent. I sat down by his side, and, with unspeakable grief, witnessed his last breath, which was without a struggle or a groan. I now sent to the governor of the town to request his permission to bury the deceased, which he readily granted; and I had a grave made about five yards to the north of an old mimosa tree, a little beyond the southern gate of the town. The body being first washed, after the custom of the country, was dressed by my directions, in clothes made of turban shawls, which we were carrying with us as presents. The corpse was borne to the grave by our servants, and I read over it the funeral service of the church of England, before it was consigned to the earth; I afterwards caused the grave to be enclosed with a wall of clay, to keep off beasts of prey, and had two sheep killed and distributed among the poor.

Thus died, at the age of 32 years, Walter Oudney, M. D., a man of unassuming deportment, pleasing manners, stedfast perseverance, and undaunted enterprise; while his mind was fraught at once with knowledge, virtue, and religion. At any time, and in any place, to be bereaved of such a friend, had proved a severe trial; but to me, his friend and fellow traveller, labouring also under disease, and now left alone amid a strange people, and proceeding through a country which had hitherto never been trod by European foot, the loss was severe and afflicting in the extreme.


[65]It is much to be regretted that the state of the thermometer was not here noted; more particularly as a question has arisen as to the correctness of this statement, which is however repeated by Dr. Oudney almost in the same words.


At day-break, on the following morning, I resumed my journey, trusting to the salutary effects of change of air and abstinence, as the best remedies both for mind and body. The road was swampy, and we crossed a narrow stream called Shashum, that falls into the Yow, near the town. There were numerous villages on all sides.

Jan. 14.—Thermometer 52°. Our road lay through a well cultivated country; at nine o’clock, A.M., we came to the town of Digoo, having an indifferent double wall, and a triple ditch nearly filled up. The town contained very few houses, but date trees were in great abundance; outside the walls, however, there were several villages, or rather detached clusters of houses. The country afterwards began to rise into ridges, running nearly east and west; our road lying along one of them, gave me an excellent view of beautiful villages all around, and herds of cattle grazing in the open country. In the evening we halted under the walls of a town called Boogawa; this is the last town in the province of Katagum: I did not enter it.

Jan. 15.—The road to-day was through a thickly wooded country. Before mid-day, we again crossed the Shashum, which here runs nearly due north. The camel-drivers brought me a quantity of wild figs, which they found on the trees by the road side, near the river. We next entered an open, well cultivated country, and in the evening halted at a town called Katungwa, which is surrounded by a wall, and has a number of fine date trees. This was the first town I entered in the kingdom of Haussa Proper. I was visited by a[35] Felatah, who had been at Bagdad, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Mecca, and belonged to the order of Dervishes. He was a chattering little fellow, and told me he had seen the Wahabees at Mecca, who, he said, were the same people and spoke the same language as the Felatahs. I made him a present of a pair of scissors and a snuff-box, of which he seemed very proud, and sent me a bowl of bazeen in the evening. I here saw a range of low rocky hills, stretching nearly south-west. They are called, in the language of Haussa, Dooshee, or The Rocks, from which a large town on one of the roads leading from Katagum to Kano takes its name. Since we left the Wells of Bellkashiffra, on the southern borders of the great desert, we had not met with rocks, or even pebbles, till now, the very channels of the rivers being destitute of stones, and the whole country consisting of soft alluvial clay. The camels were missing, and I sent all the servants after them; they were not brought back before midnight, being found on their return to Bornou.

Jan. 16.—The country still open and well cultivated, and the villages numerous. We met crowds of people coming from Kano with goods. Some carried them on their heads, others had asses or bullocks, according to their wealth. All were armed with bows and arrows, and several with swords; the Bornouese are known by carrying spears.

El Wordee and I having advanced before the cavalcade were waiting for it under a tree, near a town called Zangeia, when a man from Katagum went, of his own accord, and told the governor of Zangeia that a friend of the governor of Katagum was close at hand. The governor of Zangeia sent the man to tell us he would come and meet us on horseback, and show us a proper place to pitch our tents. We mounted our horses, and, led by the Katagumite who was so anxious for the honour of the friend of his master, we met[36] the governor, about a quarter of a mile from the tree under which we had reposed ourselves. He was mounted on a very fine white horse, gaily caparisoned, and had seven attendants behind him, also on horseback, besides being accompanied by several men on foot, armed with bows and arrows. He advanced to us at full gallop, and, after many courteous welcomes, placed himself at our head, and rode before us into the town. On reaching his own house, he desired us to pitch our tents before his door, observing, “Here is a place of great safety.” The camels arriving with the baggage, I presented him with a razor, a knife, a pair of scissors, and some spices. He sent me, in return, some milk and bazeen, with grass and gussub for the horses. Although a governor, I found out he was only a eunuch, belonging to the governor of Kano. He was in person fat, coarse, and ugly, with a shrill squeaking voice, and kept me awake half the night, laughing and talking among his people.

Zangeia is situate near the extremity of the Dooshee range of hills, and must have been once a very large town, from the extensive walls which still remain. The inhabitants were slaughtered or sold by the Felatahs, and plantations of cotton, tobacco, and indigo now occupy the place where houses formerly stood. Indeed the town may be said to consist of a number of thinly scattered villages. Within the walls there is a ridge of loose blocks of stone, connected with the range of hills in the neighbourhood. These masses of rock may be about two hundred feet high, and give a romantic appearance to the neat huts clustering round the base, and to the fine plantations of cotton, tobacco, and indigo, which are separated from one another by rows of date trees, and are shaded by other large umbrageous trees, of whose names I am ignorant. The prospect to the south was bounded by high blue mountains. It was market day; plenty of beef, yams, sweet potatoes, &c. for sale.

Drawn by Captn. Clapperton. Engraved by E. Finden.



Published Feb. 1826, by John Murray, London.

[37]Jan. 17.—The country still highly cultivated, and now diversified by hill and dale. We passed a remarkable range of little hillocks of grey granite; they were naked rocks, flattened or rounded at top, and appeared like detached masses of stone rising singly out of the earth. We also passed several walled towns quite deserted, the inhabitants having been sold by their conquerors, the Felatahs. Women sat spinning cotton by the road side, offering for sale, to the passing caravans, gussub water, roast meat, sweet potatoes, cashew nuts, &c. In the afternoon, we halted in a hollow, to the west of a town, or rather a collection of villages, called Nansarina, where it was also market day. The governor, when he heard of my arrival, sent me milk and bazeen. I sent him, in return, a pair of scissors and a snuff-box.

Jan. 18.—When I ascended the high ground this morning, I saw a range of hills to the south-west, which, I was told, were called Dul, from a large town at their base. They appeared to be 600 or 700 feet high, not peaked, but oval topped, and running in a direction nearly north and south. I could not learn how far southward they extended. We crossed a little stream, flowing to the north. The country continued beautiful, with numerous plantations, as neatly fenced as in England. The road was thronged with travellers, and the shady trees by the road side served, as yesterday, to shelter female hucksters. The women not engaged in the retail of their wares were busy spinning cotton, and from time to time surveyed themselves, with whimsical complacency, in a little pocket mirror. The soil is a strong red clay, large blocks of granite frequently appearing above the surface.

At eleven in the morning we halted at a walled town called Girkwa, through which I rode with El Wordee. The houses were in groups, with large intervening vacancies, the former inhabitants having also been sold; the walls are in good repair, and are surrounded[38] by a dry ditch. It was market day, and we found a much finer market here than at Tripoli. I had an attack of ague,—the disease that chiefly prevails in these parts,—and was obliged to rest all day under the shade of a tree. A pretty Felatah girl, going to market with milk and butter, neat and spruce in her attire as a Cheshire dairy-maid, here accosted me with infinite archness and grace. She said I was of her own nation; and, after much amusing small talk, I pressed her, in jest, to accompany me on my journey, while she parried my solicitations with roguish glee, by referring me to her father and mother. I don’t know how it happened, but her presence seemed to dispel the effects of the ague. To this trifling and innocent memorial of a face and form, seen that day for the first and last time, but which I shall not readily forget, I may add the more interesting information to the good housewives of my own country, that the making of butter such as ours is confined to the nation of the Felatahs, and that it is both clean and excellent. So much is this domestic art cultivated, that from a useful prejudice or superstition, it is deemed unlucky to sell new milk; it may, however, be bestowed as a gift. Butter is also made in other parts of central Africa, but sold in an oily fluid state something like honey.

A native of Mourzuk who resides here sent me some kouskousoo and fowls. I received a visit from a black shreef, who informed me he had seen the sea, and that a river I should cross on the morrow communicated between the Kowara and the Yow. By the Kowara, I understood him to mean the river that passes Timbuctoo, and which, of late years, has been so much talked of in Europe, under the name of Niger. This was a piece of gratuitous information, for on cross-questioning him he could furnish no authority for his opinion. But I soon discovered the whole trick, by El Wordee strongly recommending me to give my informant a present. The country to the south and south-west was very hilly.

[39]Jan. 19.—We crossed a water-course called Girkwa, from the name of the town in its immediate vicinity. It is the channel of the same river the black shreef alluded to, but did not now contain a drop of water. Indeed the channel itself is extremely shallow, and only about sixty or seventy yards across. The guide furnished me by the governor of Katagum told me, that the river took its rise in the mountains of Dul, and falling into another river, which we should soon come to, and which rose among the mountains of Nora, their united waters flowed into the Yow, to the north of Katagum.

The country was much the same as yesterday; clear of wood, well cultivated, and divided into plantations. At noon we crossed the river Sockwa, alluded to above, and forming a junction with the Girkwa. The water was not above ankle deep in the middle of the stream, which did not now fill one twentieth part of the channel, and both rivers, I have no doubt, are at all times fordable, even during the rainy season. About a mile from the banks of the river, we passed the town of Sockwa, which is defended by a high clay wall. Being very unwell, I did not enter the town, but rode on through a clear, open country, to the town of Duakee, where I halted under a tree until the camels came up. This town is also walled, but contains few inhabitants, although the walls, made of clay like all the others, are of great extent, and in good repair. Before four o’clock the camels arrived, and we pitched our tents under the tree where I had lain down. The road was still crowded, from sunrise to sunset, with people going to or coming from Kano.

Jan. 20.—By El Wordee’s advice, I prepared myself this morning for entering Kano, which was now at hand. Arrayed in naval uniform, I made myself as smart as circumstances would permit. For three miles to the north of Duakee, the country was open and well cultivated. It then became thickly covered with underwood,[40] until we ascended a rising ground, whence we had a view of two little mounts within the walls of Kano. The soil here is a tough clay mixed with gravel, the stones of which appear to be clay ironstone. The country was now clear of wood, except here and there a few large shady trees, resorted to as usual by the women of the country selling refreshments. The villages were numerous, and the road was thronged with people of all descriptions.

At eleven o’clock we entered Kano, the great emporium of the kingdom of Haussa; but I had no sooner passed the gates, than I felt grievously disappointed; for from the flourishing description of it given by the Arabs, I expected to see a city of surprising grandeur: I found, on the contrary, the houses nearly a quarter of a mile from the walls, and in many parts scattered into detached groups, between large stagnant pools of water. I might have spared all the pains I had taken with my toilet; for not an individual turned his head round to gaze at me, but all, intent on their own business, allowed me to pass by without notice or remark.

I went with El Wordee directly to the house of Hadje Hat Salah, to whom I had a letter of recommendation from the sheikh of Bornou. We found Hat Salah sitting under a rude porch in front of his house amid a party of Arabs, Tuaricks, and people of the town. When El Wordee presented me, and told him of the sheikh’s letter of recommendation, he bade me welcome, and desired me to sit down by his side. After exchanging many compliments, I inquired for the house he had hired for me, as El Wordee had sent a messenger on horseback the day before, to inform him of my approach, and to request him to have a house ready for my reception. Hat Salah now sent one of his slaves to conduct us to the house.

We had to retrace our steps more than half a mile through the market-place, which is bordered to the east and west by an extensive swamp covered with reeds and water, and frequented by wild ducks, cranes, and a filthy kind of vulture. The last is extremely[41] useful, and by picking up offal serves as a sort of town scavenger. The house provided for me was situated at the south end of the morass, the pestilential exhalations of which, and of the pools of standing water, were increased by the sewers of the houses all opening into the street. I was fatigued and sick, and lay down on a mat that the owner of the house spread for me. I was immediately visited by all the Arab merchants who had been my fellow travellers from Kouka, and were not prevented by sickness from coming to see me. They were more like ghosts than men, as almost all strangers were at this time, suffering from intermittent fever. My house had six chambers above, extremely dark, and five rooms below, with a dismal looking entrance or lobby, a back court, draw-well, and other conveniences. Little holes or windows admitted a glimmering light into the apartments. Nevertheless this was here thought a handsome mansion. I paid at first a rent of three dollars a month; but it was afterwards reduced to two dollars. El Wordee was my next door neighbour.

In the evening Hat Salah sent me a sheep, some honey, and a dinner ready cooked. I received a similar present from Michah Eben Taleb, the brother of an Arab merchant of Sockna, residing at Kouka, to whom I had a letter of introduction, with an order for the payment of a hundred dollars.

Jan. 21.—The weather cool and clear. This afternoon I delivered to Hadje Hat Salah the sheikh’s letter, and accompanied it with a present of two turban shawls, made of wool and cotton, one white, the other red, both of French manufacture, a scarlet Turkish jacket, lined with silk and trimmed with gold lace, that had belonged to the late Dr. Oudney, two clasp knives, two razors, two pair of scissors, two paper snuff-boxes, and one of tin, about a pound of spices, and a parcel of thin brass ornaments for children’s caps. These are of the size of a sixpence, stamped with fancy heads, and made at Trieste for the Barbary market. He was much pleased with[42] my present, and promised to present me to the governor in two days. In the evening provisions were sent me as before, both by Hat Salah and Michah Eben Taleb.

Jan. 22.—I had a visit from Hat Salah to-day, when I presented him with half a pound of French gunpowder and a few flints. Being very unwell, I remained at home all day.

Jan. 23.—I was still confined to the house by indisposition. In the evening I overheard a conversation concerning the river Quarra, between my servant and the man the governor of Katagum sent with me. The latter described it as running into the sea at Baka, and added the following particulars. The country is called Yowriba by the natives. The ships of Christians visit the town, which is only twenty-four days’ journey from Nyffee at a quick rate of travelling, or thirty-two days at a leisurely pace. The river is there as wide as from Kano to Katagum, and the waters salt. Although I think proper to notice this incident, I must at the same time observe, that I place little dependence on such accounts. Next morning I put several questions to him, but he told me quite a different story; for it is commonly believed among them that strangers would come and take their country from them, if they knew the course of the Quarra. Nyffee, as I afterwards learned, is distant from Kano about twelve days’ journey.

Jan. 24.—At seven in the morning I set out, accompanied by El Wordee and Hat Salah, to visit the governor, who was at the sansan, or camp, five miles east of Kano. I took with me the sheikh’s letter and a present I had prepared the day before, consisting of a sword, a tea-tray, a spy-glass, twenty yards of yellow silk, a white turban, a French shawl, three snuff-boxes, two razors, four clasp knives, two pair of scissors, a few brass trinkets for children’s caps, as already described, and two pounds of spices, besides a broken thermometer, which I understood would be very acceptable. Of course, I could not spare either of the only two thermometers which had hitherto escaped accidents.[43] A thermometer is descriptively named by the natives “a watch of heat,” and was every where regarded as a great curiosity. I also took a present for the wan-bey, or governor’s chief minister, of a French shawl, a large Egyptian shawl, a pound of cloves and cinnamon, a razor, a clasp knife, a pair of scissors, and two snuff-boxes. The sansan, where the governor now was, is a rendezvous for the army. The governor then intended to march against Dantanqua, a former governor of Kano who was deposed, and who, having rebelled, had seized upon a large town and territory called Doura, only distant one day’s journey, or about twenty-two English miles, according to the common allowance for a day’s journey. I was not a little surprised to find this sansan a walled town of considerable extent. El Wordee and Hat Salah informed me it had been built these five years, the governor of Kano having made for that period a yearly excursion against the rebels, without ever bringing them to a decisive engagement.

We proceeded immediately to the governor’s house, which is about 500 or 600 yards from the gate. At the outer guard house, I found all the Arab merchants in attendance, with the horses they had for sale. The governor is always entitled to the first choice; but if he declines them at the price affixed, any other person may become the purchaser. We were shown into the house of the wan-bey, until the governor was ready to receive us. In a short time he sent for me: I was accompanied by El Wordee and Hat Salah; but as he does not usually admit Arab merchants into his presence, El Wordee was in this instance specially favoured on my account. When introduced, we had to pass through three coozees or guard houses, the walls of which were covered with shields, and the doors guarded by black eunuchs. These coozees were connected by screens of matting covered over head. The governor was seated at the entrance of an inner coozee. After shaking hands with him, he desired us to sit down: I then produced the presents, explaining to[44] him particularly the use of the spy-glass, and commending the sword, by acquainting him that such were worn by the great nobles of England, when they attended on the king. He seemed highly pleased, and bade me a thousand welcomes to the country. I next delivered the sheikh El Kanemy’s letter. He read it, and told me he expected to return to Kano in fifteen days, and would then send me to his master Bello, who, he knew, would be very glad to see me. We shook hands again at parting. The governor is a Felatah, of a dark copper colour and stout make, and has the character of being very devout and learned. Except El Wordee and Hat Salah, the wan bey was the only person present, at this interview, whom we next accompanied to his house, where I gave him his present without any ceremony. He was a thin, slender man, of a pretty fair complexion, with only one eye, and was clad in a rather dirty tobe. He was said to be the father of fifty sons—a circumstance which is here regarded as a matter of much respect and honour. I returned immediately to Kano; but Hat Salah and El Wordee remained behind to sell some horses. Hat Salah had two horses belonging to the late Dr. Oudney to dispose of; one of which was given to him by the sheikh of Bornou, and the other was palmed upon us at Kouka by Hadje Ali Bookhaloom for eighty dollars. The governor of Kano frequently gives from 100 to 120 dollars for a good horse. Mares are seldom for sale, and are highly prized, both for breeding, and because they do not neigh on approaching other horses—a quality that especially fits them for predatory inroads. Geldings are unknown.

Jan. 25 and 26.—I was solicited by some merchants of Ghadamis, settled here, to take supplies of goods or money to any amount, for my bill on our Tripolitan consul; but, having no occasion for advances, I declined this unexpected offer of accommodation, which was frequently and urgently tendered. Ghadamis—the ancient Bydamus—is an inland town in the state of Tripoli, and its merchants are[45] famed over all central Africa for fair dealing and the extent of their commercial transactions.

Jan. 27 and 28.—The governor sent me a present of a sheep; an immense gourd, upwards of two feet in diameter, filled with wheat; and two other gourds of the same dimensions, filled with rice. A kafila from Bornou arrived to-day. It brought a letter from the sheikh to Hat Salah, warning him not to purchase any slaves, as they would not be allowed to pass through Bornou, on account of the detention of the sheikh’s children in Fezzan, who had been sent there for protection during a recent invasion by the people of Begharmi.

Jan. 29.—A courier to-day, from Major Denham at Kouka, brought me letters and newspapers from England; also gunpowder, coffee, tea, and sugar, Peruvian bark, and three bottles of Port wine; three silver watches, and some articles of dress, such as red caps of Tunis, red Turkish trowsers, and Bornouses, or woollen cloaks, with hoods from Tripoli. Mr. Warrington, our consul at Tripoli, also forwarded a teskara, or order from the bashaw, which Major Denham took care to have enforced by a letter from the sheikh of Bornou, both addressed to Hadje Ali, requiring him to pay the money due by his deceased brother. The sheikh likewise wrote to Hat Salah, requesting him to exert all his influence to overcome the scruples of Hadje Ali; for Hadje Bos Zaid, the other executor, never once hesitated about the matter. The newspapers first apprised me of Belzoni’s attempt to penetrate to Timbuctoo by the way of Fez.

Jan. 30.—Ill with ague.

Jan. 31.—A little better.

Feb. 1. 1824.—After breakfast I accompanied Hat Salah, the sheikh’s agent, to the sansan, which, since it became a town, is also called Fanisoe, and presented the governor with one of the watches. He was highly pleased with it, and requested me to teach Hat Salah the use of it, that he might give lessons to the wan-bey, who would[46] in turn instruct him. I also showed him the sheikh’s letter to his master Bello. He read it, and told me I should be sent forward to Sackatoo without delay in a kafila which was then assembling.

On my return I met two governors with troops repairing to the sansan. They had each about five hundred horse and foot. The foot were armed with bows and arrows. The quiver is slung over the left shoulder, together with a small, highly ornamented leathern pouch for little necessaries, and a canteen of dried grass, so compactly plaited, that it is used for holding water. The bow unstrung is sometimes carried in the hand as a walking stick. Many carried on the head a little triangular bag, filled with bruised Guinea corn. Others wore a little conical grass cap, with a tuft of feathers. The rest of their dress consists solely of a tanned skin, strung with coarse shells, or fringed with tassels, girt round the loins, and a pair of sandals of very simple workmanship.

The cavalry were armed with shields, swords, and spears, and otherwise more sumptuously accoutred. The spear is about six feet long, the wooden shaft slender, and the point of iron. The swords are broad, straight, and long, but require no particular description, as, by a vicissitude somewhat singular, they are in fact the very blades formerly wielded by the knights of Malta. These swords are sent from Malta to Bengazee, in the state of Tripoli, where they are exchanged for bullocks. They are afterwards carried across the desert to Bornou, thence to Haussa, and at last remounted at Kano, for the use of the inhabitants of almost all central Africa. The shields, covered with the hides of tame or wild animals, are generally plain and round. There is, however, a remarkable variety, not uncommon, of an oval shape, somewhat broader below than above, with an edging of blue cloth, forming six little lappets, one above, one below, and two on each side. In the centre of the shield there is a stripe of scarlet cloth fastened by the same studs that clinch the iron handle, and around it is scored a perfect Maltese[47] cross. This kind of shield is borne by horsemen only; but it is found of the same shape and figure, equally among Tibboes, Tuaricks, Felatahs, and Bornouese. A cross of the same form, moulded in a sort of low relief, is not an unfrequent ornament on the clay plaster of their huts. Crosses of other forms also are sometimes cut in the doors of their houses. Several camels, loaded with quilted cotton armour, both for men and horses, were in attendance. One of the governor’s slaves wore a quilted helmet of red cloth, very unwieldy, not unlike a bucket in shape, only scooped out in front for the face, and terminating on the crown in a large tin funnel, full of ostrich feathers. He was also clad in a red quilted corslet of the same cumbrous materials. The other articles of this armour are trunk hose for the rider, and a head piece, poitrel, and hausing, all quilted and arrow proof, for the horse. Armour, however, is hardly ever worn, except in actual combat, and then it must very much impede the quickness of their military evolutions. The saddles have high peaks before and behind. The stirrup irons are in the shape of a fire-shovel, turned up at the sides, and so sharp as to render spurs superfluous. This body of heavy horse protects the advance and retreat of the army, the bowmen being drawn up in the rear, and shooting from between the horsemen as occasion offers.

Feb. 2.—This morning I was visited by a nephew of sultan Bello, who arrived yesterday from Sackatoo. He was a lad of a dark copper colour, and of a thin active make, like all the Felatahs. I ordered tea to be presented to him; but he would not taste it, till the brother of El Wordee set him the example, when he ventured to drink a cup, and soon became very fond of it. Before this visit he considered a Christian little better than a monster, as he confessed to me, though, perhaps, with some degree of flattery. I showed him all my instruments, and the presents intended for his uncle, the sultan.

Feb. 3.—I had a visit from another nephew of the sultan, one[48] of the finest and most intelligent young men I had seen in this country. He read and spoke Arabic with ease and fluency, and was very anxious to see every thing, and to hear all about my country. He assured me the sultan would be delighted to see me, and said he had a large collection of books, which he made him read aloud. He told me there was a camel road from Sackatoo to Timbuctoo, which, however, was rendered dangerous by the Kafirs of Cobee, a country lying between the two towns.

Feb. 4.—The governor sent back the two horses he had on trial; but this was to be expected, one of them having galled withers, and the other being nothing but skin and bone. He returned, at the same time, a number of the horses belonging to the Arab merchants, who came to me with loud clamours against this alleged act of injustice. I warily answered, in one of their own hypocritical exaggerations, “Whatever the sultan does is beautiful;” for I knew they only wanted to entrap me into an unguarded expression, which would be repeated to the governor, either to my disadvantage, or to induce him to take all the horses at the price first demanded. Accordingly I was no more troubled with their complaints on this subject.

Feb. 5 and 6.—I had a conversation with Abdelgader, a relation of sultan Bello, at the house of a Ghadamis merchant. Abdelgader was particularly inquisitive about our religious observances, prayers, the worship of images, and the eating of pork. I told him we were commanded by our religion to pray without ceasing; but as no people on earth does as it ought, we generally prayed at stated times. The worship of images