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tion and magnificence that would have astonished a traveller less acquainted with Africa than myself.
I waited two hours without having an opportunity to cross the river, at the end of which time an officer arrived from Mansong King of Bambarra, to inform me that he could not see me till he knew my motive for coming into his country, and that I must not presume to cross the river without his permission. The messenger then pointed out a distant village, where he advised me to remain till the next day, when, he said, I should hear further from the king
At the village, every one regarded me with astonishment and fear ; no person would admit me into his house; no one would give me food. I sat, during the remainder of the day, in the shade ofa tree, and expected to lodge among its branches, as the wild beasts are very numerous here; when a woman, returning from the labours of the field, surveyed me with an eye of compassion, and enquired into my situation. Having explained it to her, she took up my bridle and saddle, which Jay near me, and bade me follow her. She conducted me into her hut, lighted a lamp, spread a mat on the floor, and broiled a fine fish upon the embers. My benefactress then pointed to the mat, and told me that I might sleep there without apprehension; and calling the female part of her family, who stood regarding me with fixed astonishment, they resumed their task of spinning cotton, which lasted the greater part of the night. They enlivened their labour with songs, and I was the subject of one of them. It was sung by one of the young women, the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally
translated, were these. “ The winds roared, and the rains fell—the poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree-he has no mother to bring him milk; no wife to grind his corn." Chorus. “Let us pity the white man; no mother has he to bring him milk; no wife to grind his corn.” I was so much affected by this simple strain, and unexpected kindness, that sleep was banished from my eyes.
The next day, I continued in the village, in conversation with the inhabitants, who came in crowds to see me; but I heard nothing from the King of Bambarra, and it was whispered, that he had conceived an unfavourable opinion of me, from the Moors and slave merchants. The following day a messenger arrived from the king to enquire whether I had brought any presents. My answer, that I had been robbed of all by the Arabs, seemed to occasion much disappointment.
The next day a messenger came from Mansong, with a bag in his hand, and said it was the king's pleasure that I should quit the vicinity of Sego; but that he was sorry for a white man in distress, and had sent me 5,000 cowries, to purchase provisions on my journey. The messenger added that, if I were really going to Timbuctoo, as I had said, he had orders to be my guide as far as Sansanding. In these countries, a hundred cowries would commonly purchase a day's provisions for
horse. The houses of Sego are built with clay; they are of a square form, with flat roofs; some of them are two stories high, and many of them are white-washed. Mosques are seen in every quarter. The streets, though narrow, are wide enough for every useful
purpose in a country where carriages are unknown. From the best information I could procure, this city contains about 30,000 inhabitants.
Though I was not permitted to see the king of Bambarra, a Jew, who was dispatched as a messenger from the governor of a British settlement, was more fortunate. He gives the following account of his reception.
“At Sego Chicoro, I waited on the King of Bambarra. On my entrance into the first court, I found a guard of forty men, young, strong, and without beards. On entering a second court, I saw another guard, well armed, and very nu. merous, lying in the shade; and a little farther, I found the king sitting, with two swords stuck in the ground behind him, and one on each side. He had on his war coat, which he is obliged to wear when he sends out an army, and cannot leave off till the army return. He commonly wears dresses of white, or blue, or silk, with a great number of gree-grees, cased in plates of gold or silver, sewed about them. He promised me his protection, and dismissed me.
The king had six children living, and it was said that three had been destroyed; it being the custom, if a male child of his be born on a Friday, to cut its throat immediately.
“When the King of Bambarra takes prisoner a king, a prince, or a man of high rank, whether a stranger, or of the country, he is confined till the fasting moon. He is then brought to Sego Coro, and laid down in a house set apart for that purpose solely, where his throat is cut across.
When the blood has completely stained the ground, the body is carried into the open field, and left a prey to the
wild beasts. There is not a fasting moon in which one, or more, persons are not butchered in this house; and for the space of eight days after these executions, no man, whoever he be, is allowed to pass it without pulling off his shoes or cap.”
Such are the particulars collected by the Jew; and in them we trace a portion of the taste for blood so conspicuous in the Dahomans and the Ashantees. It is probable that a farther intercourse with the Bambarra government would disclose more of this sanguinary spirit.
I found the language of Bambarra a sort of corrupt Mandingo, which, after being a little accustomed to, I understood and spoke without difficulty. I I immediately set out to the eastward with my guide, who was friendly and communicative, and we slept at a village seven miles distant. When this personage was told that I had come thus far to see the great river, he asked if I had no rivers in my own country, and if one river were not like another.
The next day we passed a large town called Kabba, situated in a beautiful and highly cultivated country which reminded me of my own. The people were every where employed in gathering the fruit which produces the vegetable butter. In the course of the day, we passed a great number of villages, which were chiefly inhabited by fishermen, and in the evening arrived at Sansanding, a very large town. As I rode between the town and the river, I passed a small harbour, in which were twenty large canoes, most of them fully laden, and covered with mats. I saw three other canoes arrive with passengers, and one with goods.
Sansanding is said to contain 11,000 inhabitants. It is much frequented by the Moors, who bring beads and coral from the Mediterranean, and salt from the desert, to exchange for gold dust and cotton cloth. The market-place, which is a large square, is crowded with people from morning till night, and different kinds of merchandise are exposed to sale on stalls, with mats over them to shade them from the sun.
Some stalls contained beads only; others, indigo in balls, others, wood ashes in balls; others Houssa and
nie cloth. I observed one with antimony in balls, another with sulphur, and a third with copper and silver rings and bracelets. In the houses fronting the square, were sold scarlet cloth, amber, and silks, from Marocco, and tobacco which came by way of Timbuctoo. Adjoining to this was the salt market, in which this article occupied one corner. A large butcher's stall stood in the centre, and as good and fat meat as any in England was exposed to sale. The beer market was at a little distance, under two large trees, and contained from eighty to a hundred calabashes of beer, holding about two gallons each. Near this was the place for the sale of red and yellow leather.
Besides these daily markets, a very large space was appropriated for the great weekly market, which is held on a Tuesday, when astonishing crowds of people flock from the country, to purchase a variety of articles, which they retail in the villages. There are commonly from sixteen to twenty large fat bullocks killed for this market.