An Account Of Timbuctoo And Housa Territories In The Interior Of Africa Part 37

Is there not an inconsistency here, somewhat incompatible with the impartiality which _ought_ to regulate the works of criticism? I will not for a moment suppose it to have proceeded from a spirit of animosity, which I feel myself unconscious of deserving. But the reviewer further says, the objection to the ident.i.ty of the Niger and the Nile, is grounded on the incongruity of their periodical inundations, or on the rise and fall of the former river not corresponding with that of the latter. I do not comprehend whence the Quarterly Reviewer has derived this information; I have always understood the direct contrary, which I have declared in the enlarged editions of my account of Marocco, page 304, which has been confirmed by a most intelligent African traveller, Ali Bey, (for which see his travels, page 220.)

I may be allowed to observe, that although the Quarterly Reviewer has changed his opinion on this matter, I have invariably maintained mine, founded as it is on the concurrent testimony of the best informed and most intelligent native African travellers, 517 and I still a.s.sert, on the same foundation, _the ident.i.ty of the two Niles, and their continuity of waters_.

I have further to remark what will most probably ere long prove correct; viz. that the _Bahar Abiad_[315], that is to say, the river that through the country of Negroes, between Senaar and Donga, is an erroneous appellation, originating in the general ignorance among European travellers of the African Arabic, and that the proper name of this river is Bahar Abeed, which is another term for the river called the Nile-el-Abeed, which south of Timbuctoo towards the east (called by Europeans the Niger).

It therefore appears to me, and I really think it must appear to every unbia.s.sed investigator of African geography, that every iota of African discovery, made successively, by Hornemann[316], Burckhardt, and others, tends to confirm _my water communication between Timbuctoo and Cairo_, and the theorists and speculators in African geography, who have heaped hypothesis upon hypothesis, error upon error, who have raised splendid fabrics upon pillars of ice, will ere long close their book, and be compelled, by the force of truth and experience, to admit the fact stated about twelve years ago by me in my account of Marocco, &c. viz. _that the Nile 518 of Sudan and the Nile of Egypt are identified by a continuity of waters, and that a water communication is provided by these two great rivers from Timbuctoo to Cairo_; and moreover, that the general African opinion, _that the Neel-el-Abeed_ (Niger) _discharges itself into the_ (Bahar el Maleh) _Salt Sea, signifies neither more nor less than that it discharges itself at the Delta in Egypt, into the Mediterranean Sea_!


[Footnote 315: Bahar Abiad signifies White River; Bahar Abeed signifies River of Negroes.]

[Footnote 316: _Vide_ my letter in Monthly Magazine on this subject for March, 1817, p. 124.]



_First Expedition on Record to Timbuctoo.--Timbuctoo and Guago captured by Muley Homed, (son of Muley Abdelmelk, commonly called Muley Melk[317], or Muley Moluck,) in the 16th Century, (about the Year 1580_.)

[Footnote 317: See the Spectator, No. 349.]

Muley Abdelmelk, commonly called Muley Moluck, in 1577, A.C. fought the celebrated battle with Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, near Alka.s.sar, which is at a short distance from L'Araich, wherein Don Sebastian was killed; and Abdelmelk being, before the battle, extremely ill, his son Muley Hamed went to his litter, to communicate to the Emperor his father, that the Moors had gained the victory, when he found his father dead and cold. Muley Hamed concealed this event till the battle was over; and was then proclaimed Emperor, and reigned twenty-six years: he cultivated the arts and sciences, mathematics and astronomy, which last was of essential service to him in crossing the Sahara to Timbuctoo and Guago; during which perilous journey the compa.s.s is so indispensable, that there is no certainty of travelling without it. He lost some thousands in this expedition; but if gold could recompense the waste of human life, he was rewarded for his journey of abstinence and privation across the Sahara, for he brought from Guago seventy-five quintals, and from Timbuctoo sixty quintals, of gold-dust, making together one hundred and thirty-five quintals, or 16,065 lb. English avoir-du-poids weight of gold.

_A Library of Arabic Ma.n.u.scripts taken by the Spaniards,--Contests among Christians reprimanded._

Muley Sidan, son of Muley Hamed, disputed the throne of Marocco, A.C.

1611, with three brothers, one of whom was supported by the Spaniards, whose succour was purchased by his delivering into their hands the port of L'Araich, soon after which they gained a naval victory over the forces of Sidan, which was very disastrous to the Africans; for the Spaniards, besides other plunder, got possession of 3000 Arabic books, on theology, philosophy, and medicine. Sidan, however, notwithstanding this disaster, maintained his right to the crown. He was of a liberal and charitable mind. He protected and granted to the Christians various privileges; but _he ordered that Christians of all sects, and denominations should live in peace one with another_.

One day, some (_Userah_) Christian slaves of Provence, in France, who were Catholics, had a controversial dispute with others from Roch.e.l.le, who were Calvinists. This dispute ended in a violent contest, accompanied with blows on either side; this scene excited the curiosity of the Muselmen, who were surprised to see Christians thus fight among themselves on points of their own law! The report of this battle was carried to Sidan, who ordered all these slaves to be brought before him.

He condemned some to a bastinado, which was inflicted in his presence.

He then addressed them thus:--"I command you all, on pain of death, not to dispute in future on the various dogmas of your law: every one has the presumption to think _himself_ right; and as I allow every individual in my dominions to follow the religion that he chooses for himself; _slaves ought to have among themselves the same toleration_".

_Muley El Arsheed, (a second Expedition to Timbuctoo and Sudan.)_

This Sultan preceded the renowned Muley Ismael, on the throne of Marocco: he united to great ability the most ferocious disposition, and was continually inebriated.--He crossed the Sahara to Timbuctoo, with a numerous army, about the year of Christ 1670; proceeding to _Suse_, he laid siege to the Sanctuary of _Seedi Aly ben Aidar_, near _Ilirgh_: Seedi Aly, making his escape in disguise, fled to Sudan, whither he was followed by Muley El Arsheed, who, on his arrival on the confines of Sudan, between Timbuctoo and Jinnie, was met by a numerous host of Negroes, commanded by a black sultan: the Emperor demanded Aly ben Aidar; but the sultan of Bambarra replied, that, as he had claimed his protection, it would be an infringement on the laws of hospitality to deliver him up, adding, that he desired to know if the views of El Arsheed were hostile or not; to which the latter replied, after endeavouring in vain to procure the person of Aly, that he was not come hostilely, but was about to return, which he forthwith did: and the Bambareen sultan, having received from Aly two beautiful renegade virgins, was so much flattered with the present, that he promised him any thing that he should ask; whereupon, he requested permission to go to Timbuctoo, and to settle there with his numerous followers; which being granted, he proceeded thither, and having established a Moorish garrison, resided there several, months, and afterwards returned to Barbary, bringing with him many thousand Bambareen negroes: but, on his reaching Suse, he heard of the death of Muley El Arsheed, and having then no farther occasion for these negroes, he dismissed them. They went to various parts of the country, serving the inhabitants in order to procure daily subsistence; but the arch-politician Muley Ismael, who had then recently been proclaimed as his successor, ordered them to be collected together, and incorporated in his negro army, which was, however, before this, very numerous, consisting for the most part of blacks, brought away from Sudan by Muley El Arsheed the preceding year.

The Sultan Ismael also seized this opportunity of establishing his authority at Timbuctoo, and he met with little or no opposition in putting that place under contribution. Having sent fresh troops to occupy the Moorish garrison there, the inhabitants were glad to make a contribution, in exchange for the protection and power which it afforded them; for previous to this, they had been subject to continual depredations, from the Arabs of the adjacent country, to whom they had been compelled to pay tribute, as a security for their caravans, which were constantly pa.s.sing the country of these Arabs, who are of the race of Brabeesh. In the year 1727, A.C. when Ismael died, it is reported that he possessed an immense quant.i.ty of gold, of the purity of which, his gold coins, to be seen at this day at Timbuctoo, bear testimony; it is also said, that the ma.s.sive bolts of his palaces were of pure gold, as well as the utensils of his kitchens. After his decease, however, the tribute was discontinued, and the Moorish garrison at Timbuctoo, intermarrying with the natives, and dispersing themselves in the neighbouring country, has given to Timbuctoo that tincture of Muselman manners, which they are known to possess; their descendants forming, at this period, a considerable portion of the population of Timbuctoo.

_Third Expedition to Timbuctoo and Sudan_.

Muley Ismael died of an abscess in 1727, and was succeeded by his youngest son Muley Hamed Dehebby, a most avaricious prince, whose treasure, collected in his government during the life of his father, amounted to ten millions; to which was now added his father's treasury, amounting to fifty millions, besides jewels and diamonds to a much larger amount.

Dehebby[318], sanguinary and cruel when sober, was mild, affable, and humane when intoxicated: unlike Muselmen, he believed not in predestination, but had always several surgeons and doctors in his suite, and consulted them with the most unlimited confidence when ill.

He decorated the palace of Marocco: in one of the apartments of the seraglio, of which he had had painted, in a superior style, the twelve signs of the zodiac; for which his ignorant and bigoted subjects accused him of having conspired against the Deity, in imitating, by gross and ill-formed images, the works of the Almighty. This prince was an intolerable drunkard; so that the Marabets and chiefs of the empire called Abdelmelk to the throne, whom they enabled to take possession of Mequinas. This prince, antic.i.p.ating the revenge of Dehebby, proposed to deprive him of his eye-sight; but the Marabets and chiefs opposed this resolution and replied to him in the following words:--"It is not for his crimes that we have deposed thy brother, but for his continual intoxication, which prevented him from watching over the government and his officers: he has therefore only been guilty of weakness, which is not a punishable crime." Abdelmelk dared not push his point, but was contented to send his brother to the (_Bled Shereef_), country of princes, i.e. Tafilelt. Before Dehebby was dethroned, he marched with a numerous army across Sahara, to Timbuctoo, of which he took possession, and brought home immense quant.i.ties of gold.

[Footnote 318: His proper name was Muley Hamed ben Ismael, the name Dehebby is figurative of his riches in gold.]

1730.--Muley Hamed Dehebby dying, should have been succeeded by his son Muley Bouffer; but money and intrigue gave power to Abdallah, a son of Muley Ismael, who was proclaimed in spite of the efforts of his nephew, whom he attacked at Terodant, the capital of Suse. Bouffer was taken, together with a Marabet, his confidential friend and counsellor.

Abdallah ordered them both to be brought before him.--"Thou art young,"

said he to his nephew; "thou hadst imprudently undertaken more than thou couldst accomplish; and in consideration of thy youth and inexperience, I pardon thee, but I will be revenged of thy counsellor." Then turning himself to the Marabet, "Thou, art a rebel," said he. "Didst thou imagine that thy sacred character, which thou hast abused against thy (_Seed_) Lord or King would prevent him from punishing thee? Let us see if thy sanct.i.ty will turn the edge of my sword."--In uttering these words, he struck off the saint's head.


_Works by the same Author_.

An account of the EMPIRE OF MAROCCO and the DISTRICTS OF SUSE AND TAFILELT, compiled from Miscellaneous Observations made during a long residence in, and various Journies through, these Countries.


An Account of SHIPWRECKS ON THE WESTERN COAST OF AFRICA, and an Account of Timbuctoo, the great Emporium of Central Africa; ill.u.s.trated with ACCURATE MAPS and a variety of highly finished PLATES. Third edition. _Considerably enlarged with new and interesting matter_.

Sold by Cadell and Davies, London; and by W. Blackwood, Edinburgh.

_Preparing for the press_.


No accurate Grammar of the Arabic Language has ever yet issued from the British Press!--It is extraordinary that the many professors of _that bold and figurative language of the East_, have never yet favoured the public with such a desirable work.--An attempt will now be made, by the above author, to supply in England this deficiency in Oriental Literature.

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