« PreviousContinue »
Barrow, and from that gentleman I received the following note :—
3771102 .1997 9 at
"Mr Barrow presents his compliments to Mr M'Queen, and returns his Memorial, with many thanks for the perusal of it.uļie "There cannot be two opinions with res gard to the policy of extending our inter course with the nations of Africa, both on the eastern and western coasts, and of using all our endeavours to free the uhhappy natives from the thraldom of the inhuman Moors and Arabs but, at the same time, he cannot but be aware of the difficulties which will occur in the outset, at home, and also on the part of our dear ally, the Portu guese', for he is satisfied, that before we at tempt to rush into unknown countries, and encounter probable disasters, it would be most wise to fix ourselves on some insular situation where we should be invulnerable. On the eastern side, Quiloa would be the eligible spot, and on the western, the Island of Fernando Po, which commands the em bouchures of all those great waters which Mr MaQueen supposes to open a communis cation with the interior and central parts of Africa
to 99a8dozs ni nis19 946q2 508 Admiralty, 18th July, 1820,"0 toubor
rary seat 9:1 to to driv 56Ť Perfect
accuracy was never pretended to in the delineation' of the course of the Niger, and other rivers in Northern Central Africa. On the contrary, it is stated in the volume published in 1821, Preface, p. 7 thus-"Perfect accuracy on these subjects is at present unattainable, nor is it here, pretended to." I had no mode of determining the positions of these, but by the bearings and day's journey mentioned and given by travellers; and these again often confused by Europeans in the narratives given from one to another. These days' journeys Testimated at ten geographical miles, made good in the general bearing for all the countries south of the Niger, and at 13 miles made good in the cultivated coun tries to the north of that river; but my opinion was, that these distances were too great; and if they had been, as they ought to have been, shortened a little, the positions of Boussa, Yaoorie, and other conspicuous places, fixed upon as points to regulate the whole, would have been found very nearly where Lander's and Clapperton's researches have found them; yet with such difficult materials to guide me, a look at the respective maps will shew how immaterial,
compared to the general question and the result, the difference and the error really is. According to Lander, the Tschaddi enters the Niger from the east, in about eight and a half deg. N. latitude. I have laid down the junction of a great river, which I call Bahr Kulla, which descends from the hills, near the sources of the Bahr el Abiad, by Mount Thala, almost as near as may be in the very same parallel; and the separation of the Niger into branches, supposed took place in about seven deg. N. lat, which Lander, it appears, has actually found to be the
The "poverty of facts," therefore, is thrown back in the teeth of the Reviewer, and with what force and success, a discerning public is left to judge. Sir Rufane Donkin's theory, which the Reviewer so loudly and so justly condemned, was put forward too late, because its absurdity was made manifest by the modern discoveries of Denham and Clapperton; but had it been put forth before their discoveries, it would really have been sanity, compared to the theory so long maintained in the Quarterly Review, that the Niger ran to the Bahr el Abiad, the parent stream of the Nile of Egypt.
The system which has been pursued by this country, during the last thirty or forty years, in every thing that was connected with a knowledge of Africa, its people, or its geogra phical features, has been alike contemptible and reprehensible, and such as is a disgrace to it. temptible and interested faction laid claim to the government of that quarter of the world, dictated to the British Government what it should and what it should not do, shut up all communication concerning Africa, except such as its lying vehicles pleased to give, and led the people of this country to believe that the barbarism, brutality, superstition, and degradation of four thousand years' standing, had wholly vanished from Africa, under their superintendence. That delusion is past, and an astonished and indignant country finds, that after mis-spending about 'FIFTEEN MILLIONS of money, Africa is left more wretched than ever. So much for the would-be instructors of Africa. Another party, re
siding with the Government, and with the ear of the Government, took African geography under its supreme direction, and the consequence was, that her vast mountains, and cultivated plains, were turned into morasses, lakes, or sandy deserts, at pleasure; and her mighty rivers, compared to which European streams are rivulets, were made to stand still, to sink in sands, or disappear in fictitious lakes, to run dwindfing through sandy deserts, or to leap over mighty mountains,-to run every way but the way they really ran, according as these geographical dictators thought proper; while every information which made for a more rational system, if contrary to their views, was garbled, mutilated, or wholly suppressed, though obtained at the expense of the public money of the country, and the lives of several of her gallant sons. Yet the nation submitted to such quackery and imbecility, until it had become the laughing-stock of Europe.
In the year 1820, and immediately after the information which I have alluded to was laid before his Majesty's Government, MR DUPUIS, who had been British Consul at Coomassie, the capital of Ashantee, arrived in London, with the information which he had obtained in the capital mentioned, from intelligent Moor and Arab travellers, that the Niger entered the sea in the Delta of Benin. This information I received, when in London, from a gentleman who obtained it from Dupuis, who considered the matter of such importance as to leave his post without permission having previously been obtained, in order to communicate it. Yet this important information was withheld in his book, or given in such a way as to leave the point as uncertain and confused as before. Clapperton, in his first journey to Saccatoo, I know, obtained the most positive information, that the Niger ran south from Boussa into the Atlantic, below Benin. He stated this most positively when he arrived in London; yet, I may say, not one syllable of a decided character appeared in the ponderous volume subsequently published. This information reached the ears of a gentleman, a particular friend of Major Laing's, who had shortly before left England to under
take the journey in which he lost his life. Clapperton was requested to give a short sketch of the important information which he had received, that it might be transmitted to Major Laing, in order to direct his steps at once to the right point. This Clapperton refused. The gentleman in question went directly to the Colonial Office, laid the matter before the Under Secretary of State, and urged upon him the propriety of Major Laing being put in possession of the information obtained on this important subject. The Under Secretary saw the matter in a proper light. He instantly sent orders to detain the Mediterranean packet, then about to sail, commanded Clapperton shortly to give the information required, got it, put it into the gentleman's hands already mentioned, who forwarded it to Malta, and it reached t Major Laing the day before he set out from Tripoli for the interior of Africa!
Before undertaking his second journey, Clapperton, I positively know, constructed a map in London, representing the course and termination of the Niger, exactly as laid down by me in 1820; and a gentleman in the Navy told me, that he was shewn this map by Clapperton at Sierra Leone, at which place he touched in his voyage out to the Bight of Benin.
In his second journey, Clapperton obtained, at Katungah, and other places, still more accurate information, that the Niger flowed from Nyffe, through Benin, into the Atlantic Ocean. He wrote his friends in this country, in the most pointed manner, to this effect. Yet the important and decisive information was again either suppressed in his book, or such parts of it given as left the question still in doubt; and that the information which he had received was withheld, we have only to consult the volume containing the account of his and Lander's journey, and the two volumes published by Lander himself. It is painful to dwell upon such proceedings as these, which were adopted only that the Niger of Ptolemy and the Joliba of Park should be joined to the Nile of Egypt, in the face of all probability, and in the face of various authorities worthy of credit to the contrary.
The errors which have been committed in, and the blunders which have crept into, the narratives of Clapperton's and Lander's earliest travels, are, by the article in the last Review, rendered as conspicuous as they are remarkable. In the narrative of Clapperton's second journey, we are informed that Boussa is situated on an island; that the Quorra there runs in three streams,-the Menai, a narrow sluggish stream, and two others with very rocky channels and rapid currents. The narrative states this in the most pointed manner as being what Clapperton saw and wrote. Lander now tells us that the Menai is a distinct river; that the Quorra at Boussa runs in one channel, which is only about a stonethrow across, though immediately above that city,-not situated on an island, but on the northern bank of the river,-itruns in two channels, one of which only is one mile broad. Which of the narratives, both being given by eye-witnesses, are we to believe? The narrative of Lander's discovery given in the Review states, that the river Coodonia joins the Quorra from the "north-west," whereas it should be, and must be, from the north-east! Lander, in his first journey, says, that Fundah was situated on the Quorra, 12 or 13 days' journey "due west from Dunroora," whereas on the present map it is laid down on the Tshaddi, about forty miles, four days' journey, S. S. W. from Dunroora. In the account read by Mr Barrow to the Royal Geographical Society on the 13th June last, as published in the journals of the day, it is stated shortly after reaching Fundah, the last point laid down on Clapperton's map, they found the river make a bold sweep to the east," &c.; whereas the Quarterly Review states that Fundah is far distant eastward from the point on the Quorra where Fundah is placed on Clapperton's map, and on the river Tshaddi, three days' journey above the junction of that river with the Quorra. The space allowed also for the distances made good on general bearings in the journey down the river is certainly too great, and by which error the river is carried too far to the eastward, and consequently all the more remarkable sta
tions, such as Kirree, the lake below it, Ebboe, and the separation of some important branches taken to regulate and to fix the positions of other places, are laid down too distant from the sea. Thus Ebboe, three days' journey from the mouth of the river, is laid down about 110 miles from the sea, which is at least 50 miles too much. The Bonny and New Calabar rivers are also laid down a great deal too far to the westward; and the river Nun, down which Lander descended, is represented as entering the sea at Cape Formosa, whereas it is the first considerable river to the east of it. These obvious errors disfigure the map delineating the delta of the river, and place the points where the principal branches diverge in unnatural positions with the well-known great estuaries of the river.
In Clapperton's second journey, we are told that Yaoori was three days' journey by land above Boussa, or about thirty miles. In the narrative under review, we are told that Lander performed the journey by water in three days, against the stream. Consequently, the actual distance cannot exceed thirty-five miles; yet Yaoori is laid down one degree, or seventy miles, due north from Boussa. Yaoori, we are moreover told, is five days' journey from Saccatoo, which five days' journey cannot exceed sixty miles. Yet we find Saccatoo about 140 miles more to the north, and in 13 deg. 4 min. N. lat. At Saccatoo also, Clapperton was told that Yaoori was situated five days' journey to the S.W. position, therefore, of one of these places is certainly wrong, or the distance betwixt them must be much greater.
It is very confidently stated by African travellers, that the Niger, or Quorra, communicates with the Shary and the Lake of Bornou. Although no great faith is put in such narratives, yet such a thing is not improbable; and, if so, the Tshaddi may be the channel of communication, and the Shary a branch diverging from that great river. Should this be the case, the interior of Africa will, by means of the Niger, be laid open to a still greater extent than is at present supposed. The point of separation will probably be
in about 8 deg. 30 min. N. lat., and 16 deg. 40 min. E. long. The Shary has been traced to Loggun in 11 deg. 7 min. N. lat.; and there, probably, its bed is about 1500 feet above the level of the sea. From the supposed point of separation, if such separation actually exists, of the Shary from the Tshaddi, the distance to the junction of the latter river with the Niger is, in a direct course, about 630 British miles, a distance sufficient to take away any very extraor dinary rapidity from the current of the Tshaddi.
"None," says the Reviewer, p. 79, ever heard of such a place as Boussa," before the account given by the Mandingo Priest, sent to enquire about the fate of Mr Park. Why, Boossa, or Boussa, was well known to every one who had made enquiries about African geography, for many years before Park's journey; and in the excellent maps of D'Anville, De Lisle, &c., the Reviewer, if he chooses to examine them, will find both Yaoory and Boussa laid down, and with considerable accuracy.
It is really pitiable to observe the attempt which the writer in the Quarterly Review makes to have the
name Niger expunged from the map of Africa, as an unmeaning name given to a river which never existed. This will not do. The Joliba of Park is, beyond all contradiction, the "Great River" of Herodotus, the Niger of Ptolemy, the great river of Central Africa mentioned by Batouta, seen by Leo, sought for, and delineated in part, by D'Anville and De Lisle, and also the Quorra, or Koara, of modern Arabs, and of Clapperton and of Lander. The Nile theory is as absurd as to dispute this fact; and really, if the Royal Geographical Society will have writers to record their geographical Jabours, it would be wise in them not to trust the promulgation of these to hands that display such partiality, and such intolerable arrogance. It is not by conduct like this that the society will encourage geographical research, or collect useful geographical information; nor is it by giving publicity to articles so erroneous, yet written in such a contemptuous, domineering style, that the Quarterly Review is to maintain or to spread its name and its fame for a superiority over its brother periodicals. I am, &c. JAMES M'QUEen.
Glasgow, December 24th, 1831.
MIDST the long reeds that o'er a Grecian stream
Unto the faint wind sigh'd melodiously,
And where the sculpture of a broken shrine
Sent out, through shadowy grass and thick wild flowers,
Warbled his death-chant, and a poet stood
Listening to that strange music, as it shook
And all the laurels of the haunted shore,
Thrill to its passion. Oh! the tones were sweet,
"Summer, I depart!
O light and laughing Summer, fare thee well!
"Will ye not send one tone
Of sorrow through the shades? one murmur low?
"No! ever glad and free!
-Ye have no sounds a tale of death to tell;
Bad Waves, joyous waves, flow on, and fare ye well!
"But thou, sweet boon, too late
Why comest thou thus, o'ermastering, rich, and strong,
“Only to wake the sighszul ul
Of echo-voices from their sparry cell;r Only to say sunshine and blue skies! [ war ett hang life and love, farewell!" o trai Porque в Tot smet eti has
Thus flow'd the death-chant on; while mournfully
With that one sighing sound-" Farewell, farewell!"
"The Summer is come; she hath said, Rejoice!'
"There is joy in the mountains; the bright waves leap,
Let the heavens ring with song!
"There is joy in the forest; the bird of night
Sing, sing, through the laughing heaven!
"Mine are the wings of the soaring morn,
Sing, sing, through the echoing sky!"