« ForrigeFortsett »
merely from political necessity. At the mature age of sixty-eight her zeal for Christianity revived; and in 1654, missionaries proceeded to Matamba, at her request, to instruct herself and her subjects in the doctrines of Christianity. When they were introduced to her presence, the royal penitent fell prostrate on the ground before them, and welcomed them with a flood of tears. At the desire of the missionaries she immediately commenced the erection of a church. A large proportion of the people followed the example of the queen and her grandees, and allowed themselves to be baptised. Proclamation was made “ that no person should invoke or offer sacrifices to the devil or idols of any description; that infants should no longer be exposed in the woods, to be devoured by wild beasts; and that no one, under pain of death, should eat human flesh.” She gave a farther proof of her obedience to the missionaries, in consenting to marry at the age of seventy-five. On one occasion, the obstinate refusal of the missionaries to bury a favourite old warrior in holy ground almost drove her to relapse. She prepared to inter him according to the native rites, which prescribed that a number of human beings should be interred along with him. The timely appearance of the missionaries hindered the completion of these fatal ceremonies, and spared the queen the pain and humiliation of a second repentance. She continued to profess the Christian religion till her death, which took place towards the close of the year 1663. In the infancy of political science, the establishment of exclusive companies was looked upon to be the encouragement of trade; and while capital existed only in small quantity, this grand error might be supported by plausible arguments. In 1588, queen Elizabeth, wishing to promote the commerce with Africa, granted a patent to a company of merchants in Exeter to carry on the trade to Senegal and Gambia. The first voyages of this company appear to have been attended with success. The English reported on their return, “that one bar of iron would be more welcome to the natives than forty Portingals.” But as monopoly is of a languid constitution, this trade does not appear to have ever grown to considerable importance. As the intercourse, however, increased between the traders and the natives, the former received accounts respecting that which in every rude age is the primary object of research—gold. They were told that the Moors, travelling over a great expanse of desert, arrived at the countries of Timbuctoo and Gago, where gold was abundant. In 1594, an English merchant in Morocco wrote to his friend in London, to inform him that a Moor, employed by the Portuguese as their agent, had just returned from Gago with thirty mules laden with gold. He says also, that the Moors took Timbuctoo, and imposed on the inhabitants an annual tribute of sixty quintals of gold. “The report is,” says the writer of the letter, “ that Mahomet bringeth with him such an infinite treasure as I never heard of: it doth appear that they have more gold than any other part of the world beside. The king of Morocco is like to be the greatest prince in the world for money, if he keep this country.” " Rumours of this kind were sure to give birth to spirited enterprise; and at the beginning of the seventeenth century some attempts were made to reach the interior of the African continent. In 1618, a company was formed for the express purpose of penetrating to the country of gold and to Timbuctoo, in which city the wealth of Africa was supposed to be concentrated. George Thompson, a Barbary merchant, was sent with a small vessel of 120 tons, to carry these views into effect. His instructions were to sail as far as possible up the river Gambia, and leaving the ship in a good harbour, to prosecute his researches up the river in boats. This he performed; but in his absence the Portuguese seized his ship and massacred the crew. Intelligence of these misfortunes having reached home, a small vessel was despatched to the aid of Thompson: but her crew were so weakened by disease and accidents on their arrival at the * Hakluyt.
Gambia, that Thompson sent them back with letters, and a demand for a second reinforcement. In consequence, two ships were sent out under the command of captain Richard Jobson, a resolute and intelligent man. On his arrival at the river, he found that Thompson had penetrated as far as Tenda, much farther than any European was known to have reached before. His object in seeking that place was to have an interview with Buckar Sano, the principal native merchant of the Senegambia: here he met his death from his own followers; and as the circumstances which led to it were learned only from those who were accessories in the murder, it is not surprising that it should be ascribed to his own arrogance and misconduct. Jobson left his vessel at Cassan, on the Gambia. On ascending the river in boats, he found his merchandise in comparatively little request, and repented that he had not laden his boats with salt. He met soon after with Brewer, who had accompanied Thompson to Tenda, and remained with the English factory established up the river. He also filled Jobson with “ golden hopes.” Wherever the English stopped, the negro kings, with their wives and daughters, came down to the river side to buy, or rather to beg for, trinkets, and still more for brandy. On Christmas day, the Ferambra, a negro prince, a great friend of the English, sent them a load of elephants’ flesh. After a navigation in boats of nearly thirty days, they reached the rapids of Barraconda, the highest point to which the tide flows. The stream being now always against them, and the channel rocky, they were unable to proceed by night; and during the day the scorching heat of the sun rendered it impossible to make great exertions. Above Barraconda the country is an uninhabited desert. The river was filled with “a world of sea horses, whose paths, as they came on shore to feed, were beaten with tracks as large as a London highway.” The crocodiles were also so numerous, that the negroes durst not venture into the water. Elephants grazed among the sedges on the river side. Great troops of baboons occupied the woods, and threw sticks at the travellers, seeming at the same time to converse among themselves. On the 26th of January, Jobson arrived at Tenda, and despatched a messenger to Buckar Sano, who soon after arrived with a stock of provisions, which he disposed of at a reasonable price. With the exchange of presents, and many ridiculous ceremonies, he was proclaimed the white man's alchade, or mercantile agent. This compliment was repaid afterwards, when Jobson visited the king, on which occasion a ceremony was performed, which was interpreted to mean that his majesty ceded all his dominions to the English; “which bounty (observes Jobson) could require no less than two or three bottles of my best brandy, although the English were not sixpence the better for the grant.” At Tenda, as elsewhere, salt was the article in chief demand. Iron wares also met with a ready sale, though these were supplied at a cheaper rate by a neighbouring people. Buckar Sano's sword blade, and the brass bracelets of his wife, appeared to Jobson to be specimens of as good workmanship as could be seen in England. Our traveller cautiously abstained from mentioning gold; but Buckar Sano, who knew perhaps what Europeans most coveted, told them, that if he continued his trade to Tenda, he could dispose of all his cargoes for gold. The negro merchant affirmed that he had been four times at a town in which the houses were all covered with gold, and distant a journey of four moons. Jobson was informed, that six days’ journey from St. John's Mart (as he named the factory at Tenda), was a town called Mombar, where there was much trade for gold. Three stages farther was Jaye, whence the gold came. A people called Arabeks were the travelling merchants of that country. Jobson wisely adapted his carriage to the negro customs: he danced and sung with them, and gaily entered into all their amusements. He remarks that the water of the Gambia above Barraconda has such a strong scent
of musk, from the multitude of crocodiles that infest that part of the river, as to be unfit for use. The torpedo abounds in the river about Cassan, and at first caused his crew not a little terror and amazement. Jobson's discoveries did not reach as far as those of Thompson, who had penetrated even to Jaye. But many years elapsed before travellers passed the limits at which he arrived. He again repeats the story of a silent traffic carried on in the interior between the Moors and a negro nation who would not allow themselves to be seen. “The reason,” he adds, “why these negroes conceal themselves is, that they have lips of an unnatural size, hanging down half way over their breasts, and which they are obliged to rub with salt continually to keep them from putrefaction.” Thus even the great salt trade of the interior of Africa is not wholly untinged with fable. In 1723 captain Stibbs made another attempt to ascend the Gambia. The natives were every where disposed to carry on trade, and in some places saphies or charms were hung at the river side to draw white men on shore. Stibbs was not able to penetrate beyond Tenda, which continued for many years to be the limit of geographical discovery in that quarter. The Normans pretend to have carried on a trade of great antiquity with western Africa. It is said that they visited the coast as far as Sierra Leone, as early as the year 1364. This claim, however, to a trade with the coast of Africa at an age long prior to that in which those seas are supposed to have been first navigated by Europeans, rests on documentary evidence, destroyed, it is said, in the fire which consumed the town hall of Dieppe in the year 1694. These early navigations may therefore be disregarded, since the proof of them is no longer in existence. But it is certain that the merchants of Dieppe and Rouen long retained exclusive possession of the African trade, and that they had settlements at the mouth of the Senegal in 1626. In 1664, was erected the first of those royal and exclusive companies, five of which in succession endeavoured to carry on the African