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Chap. LXV. ENTRANCE INTO TIMBUKTU.

405

so that I could with difficulty make a suitable answer to his compliment; but avoiding farther indiscreet questions, I pushed on in order to get under safe cover.

Having then traversed the rubbish which has accumulated round the ruined clay wall of the town, and left on one side a row of dirty reed huts which encompass the whole of the place, we entered the narrow streets and lanes, or, as the people of Timbuktu say, the tijeraten, which scarcely allowed two horses to proceed abreast. But I was not a little surprised at the populous and wealthy character which this quarter of the town, the Sane-Giingu, exhibited, many of the houses rising to the height of two stories, and in their facade evincing even an attempt at architectural adornment. Thus, taking a more westerly turn, and followed by a numerous troop of people, we passed the house of the Sheikh El Bakay, where I was desired to fire a pistol; but as 1 had all my arms loaded with ball I prudently declined to do so, and left it to one of my people to do honour to the house of our host. We thus reached the house on the other side of the street, which was destined for my residence, and I was glad when I found myself safely in my new quarters.

But before describing my residence in this town, I shall make a few general remarks with regard to the history of Songhay and Timbuktu.

406

CHAP. LXVI.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE HISTORY OF SONGHAT AND TIMBUKTU.

Previously to my journey into the region of the Niger, scarcely any data were known with regard to the history of this wide and important tract, except a few isolated facts, elicited with great intelligence and research by Mr. Cooley* from El Bekri, the history of Ebn Khaldun, the obscure and confused report of Leo about the great Ischia, and the barren statement of the conquest of Timbuktu and Gagho, or G6go, by Mulay A'hmed el Dhehebi, as mentioned by some historians of Morocco and Spain. But I myself was so successful as to have an opportunity of perusing a complete history of the kingdom of Songhay, from the very dawn of historical records down to the year 1640 of our era; although, unfortunately, circumstances prevented my bringing back a complete copy of this manuscript, which forms a respectable quarto volume, and I was only able, during the few days that I had this manuscript in my hands during my stay in Gand6, to make short extracts of those passages from its contents which I thought of

* Cooley, "Negroland of the Arabs."

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