« PreviousContinue »
quests in the most cheerful and assuring manner, saying that it would be his greatest pleasure to assist me in my enterprise to the utmost of his power, as it had only humane objects in view, and could not but tend to draw nations together that were widely separated from each other. At the same time he expressed, in a very feeling way, his regret with regard to 'Abd Allah (Captain Clapperton), whose name I had incidentally mentioned, intimating that the then state of war, or “gába,” between Bello and the Sheikh el Kánemí, the ruler of Bórnu, had disturbed their amicable relations with that eminent officer, whom in such a conjuncture they had not felt justified in allowing to proceed on his errand to their enemy. In order to give him an example how, in the case of foreign visitors or messengers, such circumstances ought not to be taken into account, I took this opportunity to show him that the ruler of Bórnu, although in open hostility with the most powerful of his ('Alíyu's) governors, nevertheless had allowed me, at the present conjuncture, to proceed on my journey to them without the slightest obstacle. He then concluded our conversation by obsery. ing that it had been his express wish to see me the very day of my arrival, in order to assure me that I was heartily welcome, and to set my mind at rest as to the fate of Clapperton, which he was well aware could not fail to inspire Europeans with some diffidence in the proceedings of the rulers of Sokoto.
With a mind greatly relieved I returned to my tent from this audience. The dusk of the evening, darkened by thick thunderclouds, with the thunder rolling uninterruptedly, and lighted up only by the numerous fires which were burning round about in the fields where the troops had encamped under the trees, gave to the place a peculiar and solemn interest, making me fully aware of the momentous nature of my situation. The thunder continued rolling all night long, plainly announcing the approach of the rainy season, though there was no rain at the time. Meanwhile I was pondering over the present which I was to give to this mighty potentate, who had treated me with so much kindness and regard on the first interview, and on whose friendship and protection depended, in a great measure, the result of my proceedings; and thinking that what I had selected might not prove sufficient to answer fully his expectation, in the morning, when I arose, I still added a few things more, so that my present consisted of the fol. lowing articles: a pair of pistols, richly ornamented with silver, in velvet holsters; a rich bernús (Arab cloak with hood) of red PRESENTS, HOW RECEIVED.
satin, lined with yellow satin; a bernús of yellow cloth; a bernús of brown cloth; a white heláli bernús of the finest quality; a red cloth kaftan embroidered with gold; a pair of red cloth trowsers; a Stambúli carpet; three loaves of sugar; three turbans and a red cap; two pairs of razors; half a dozen large looking-glasses ; cloves, and benzoin.*
Having tied up these presents in five smart handkerchiefs, and taking another bernús of red cloth with me for the ghaladíma, I proceeded first to the latter, who received his present with acknowledgments, and surveyed those destined for his master with extreme delight and satisfaction. We then went together to 'Aliyu, and found him in a room built of reeds, sitting on a divan made of the light wood of the tukkuruwa, and it was then for the first time that I obtained a distinct view of this chief, for on my interview the preceding night it had been so dark that I was not enabled to distinguish his features accurately. I found him a stout, middle-sized man, with a round fat face, exhibiting evidently rather the features of his mother, a Háusa slave, than those of his father Mohammed Bello, a free and noble Púllo, but full of cheerfulness and good-humor. His dress also was extremely simple, and at the same time likewise bore evidence of the pure Púllo character having been abandoned; for while it consisted of scarcely any thing else but a tobe of grayish color, his face was uncovered, while his father Bello, even in his private dwelling, at least before a stranger, never failed to cover his mouth.
He received me this time with the same remarkable kindness which he had exhibited the preceding evening, and repeated his full consent to both my requests, which I then stated more explicitly, requesting at the same time that the letter of franchise might be written at once, before his setting out on his expedition. This he agreed to, but he positively refused to allow me to proceed on my journey before his return from the expedition, which he said would not be long; and, acquainted as I was with the etiquette of these African courts, I could scarcely expect any thing else from the beginning. He then surveyed the presents, and express
* I may as well add, that the richly-mounted pistols which chiefly aided me in obtaining the friendship of this powerful chief, as well as another pair which I afterward gave to Khalílu, the ruler of Gando, and also several other things, were paid for with my own money, which was forwarded to Tripoli by my family at the suggestion of the Chevalier Bunsen, as well as two harmonica, one of which I gave to 'Aliyu, and the other to the Sheikh el Bakáy.
ed his satisfaction repeatedly; but when he beheld the pistols, which I had purposely kept till the last, he gave vent to his feelings in the most undisguised manner, and, pressing my hands repeatedly, he said, “nagóde, nagóde, barka, 'Abd el Kerím, barka" -"I thank you, God bless you, 'Abd el Kerím, God bless you.” He had evidently never before seen any thing like these richlymounted pistols, which had been selected in Tripoli by the connoisseur eyes of Mr. Warrington, and surveyed the present on all sides. It was to these very pistols that I was in a great measure indebted for the friendly disposition of that prince, while the un. scrupulous governor of Kátsena, who had heard some report about them, advised me by all means to sell them to himself, as his liege lord would not only not value them at all, but would even be afraid of them.
Soon after I had returned to my tent the ghaladíma arrived, bringing me from his master 100,000 kurdí to defray the expenses of my household during his absence; and I had afterward the more reason to feel grateful for this kind attention, although the sum did not exceed forty Spanish dollars, as I became aware, during my stay in Wurno, how difficult it would have been for me to have changed my dollars into kurdí. I then satisfied my friend Alháttu, the younger brother of the ghaladíma, whose behavior certainly was far from disinterested, but who, nevertheless, had not proved quite useless to me.
Although we were here in the camp outside, and the people busy with their approaching departure, yet I received visits from several people, and, among others, that of a Weled Rashid of the name of Mohammed, who, on my return from Timbúktu, followed me to Kúkawa in the company of his countryman, the learned A’hmed Wadáwi. This man, having left his tribe on the southeastern borders of Bagírmi, had settled in this place many years before, and, having accompanied several expeditions or forays, gave me an entertaining description of the courage of the Féllanin-Sókoto, although he had some little disposition to slander, and even related to me stories about the frailties of the female portion of the inhabitants of the capital, which I shall not repeat.
Sunday, April 3d. Being anxious that the letter of franchise should be written before the sultan set out, I sent in the morning my broker, 'Alí el A'geren, with a pound of Tower-proof gun. powder, to the prince, in order to remind him of his promise; and he returned after a while, bringing me a letter signed with the THE SULTAN SETS OUT ON HIS EXPEDITION.
sultan's seal, which, on the whole, was composed in .very handsome terms, stating that the prince had granted the request of commercial security for English merchants and travelers, which I, as a messenger of the Queen of England, had made to him. But the letter not specifying any conditions, I was obliged to ask for another paper, written in more distinct terms; and although 'Alíyu's time was, of course, very limited, as he was just about to set out with his army, even my last request was complied with, and I declared myself satisfied. I was well aware how extremely difficult it is to make these people understand the forms of the articles in which European governments are wont to conclude commercial treaties. In regions like this, however, it seems almost as if too much time ought not to be lost on account of such a matter of form before it is well established whether merchants will really open a traffic with these quarters; for as soon as, upon the general condition of security, an intercourse is really established, the rulers of those countries themselves become aware that some more definite arrangement is necessary, while, before they have any experience of intercourse with Europeans, the form of the articles in which treaties are generally conceived fills them with the utmost suspicion and fear, and may be productive of the worst consequences to any one who may have to conclude such a treaty.
The sultan was kind enough, before he left in the afternoon, to send me word that I might come and take leave of him; and I wished him, with all my heart, success in his expedition, as the success of my own undertaking, namely, my journey toward the west, partly depended upon his vanquishing his enemies. Giving vent to his approval of my wishes by repeating that important and highly significant word, not more peculiar to the Christian than to the Mohammedan creed, “ Amín, amín,” he took leave of me in order to start on his expedition, accompanied only by a small detachment of cavalry, most of the troops håving already gone on in advance. I had also forwarded a present to Hámmedu, the son of 'Atíku, an elder brother and predecessor of Bello; but he sent it back to me, begging me to keep it until after his return from the expedition. The ghaladíma also, who was to accompany the sultan, called before his departure, in order that I might wind round his head a turban of gaudy colors, such as I then possessed, as an omen of success.
After all the people were gone, I myself could not think of passing another night in this desolate place, which is not only exposed to the attacks of men, but even to those of wild beasts. Even the preceding night the hyenas had attacked several people, and had almost succeeded in carrying off a boy, besides severely lacerating one man, who was obliged to return home without being able to accompany the army. An hour, therefore, after the sultan had left his encampment, we ourselves were on our road to Wurnó, the common residence of 'Aliyu, where I had been desired to take up my quarters in the house of the ghaladíma; but I never made a more disagreeable journey, short as it was, the provisions which the sultan had given me encumbering us greatly, so that at length we were obliged to give away the heifer as a present to the inhabitants of the village of Gáwasú. It thus happened that we did not reach our quarters till late in the evening; and we had a great deal of trouble in taking possession of them in the dark, having been detained a long time at the gateway, which itself was wide and spacious, but which was obstructed by a wooden door, while there was no open square at all inside the gate, nor even a straight road leading up from thence into the town, the road immediately dividing and winding close along the wall.
RESIDENCE IN WURNÓ. I SHALL preface the particulars of my residence in Wurnó with a short account of the growth of the power of the Fúlbe or Féllani in this quarter, and of the present condition of the empire of Sókoto.
There is no doubt that, if any African tribe deserves the full attention of the learned European, it is that of the Fúlbe (sing. Pállo), or Fúla, as they are called by the Mandingoes; Féllani (sing. Baféllanchi) by the Háusa people, Felláta by the Kanúri, and Fullán by the Arabs. In their appearance, their history, and the peculiar character of their language, they present numerous anomalies to the inhabitants of the adjacent countries. No doubt they are the most intelligent of all the African tribes, although in bodily development they can not be said to exhibit the most perfect specimens, and probably are surpassed in this respect by the Jolof. But it is their superior intelligence which gives their chief expression to the Fülbe, and prevents their features from present