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Mungo Park, had died the same year in which he passed through their country.
Mr. Docherd had invariably received the kindest treatment both at Yamina and Bammakoo, and on complaining of delay was assured it was entirely owing to the custom of the country; as to make ambassadors wait was only meant to shew the king's dignity, and that it might not be supposed he was in any hurry to get rid of his guests. He seems to think that, once fairly embarked, there would be no difficulty in reaching the termination of the Niger; but we are not aware on what information this opinion is grounded. The highest navigable point of the river in the dry season is at Marraboo, where it expands into a vast sheet of water, but is full of shallows.
Markets were held at Sansanding and Yamina, twice every week, where provisions were reasonable, and every sort of European merchandize in great demand, especially articles of finery for the dresses of the females, who are fond of showy colours; among other wares were Manchester prints in great abundance, which seemed to meet with a ready sale. These must have crossed the desert of Zaahra, in the caravan from Morocco, which we suspect is, after all, the best and safest way to reach Timbuctoo.
With all the respect we feel for those who sacrifice ease, health, and every comfort in the promotion of African discoveries, we are compelled to say that M. Mollien has done less than any preceding traveller, and has no pretension whatever to rank in the list of those who have enlarged the narrow sphere of African geography. He is evidently a very young man, and wholly unfit for travelling with credit to himself or advantage to his employers. His intellectual acquirements are of the lowest order, and he possesses not a single qualification in any branch of science that a traveller could turn to advantage. His utter ignorance of natural history, of astronomy, and as it would seem of the common process of obtaining the latitude of places, renders the account of his travels unavailing for any scientific purpose, and leaves the accuracy of all his positions more than questionable. It was not necessary to visit the sources of the Senegal and the Gambia, merely to set down how the negroes of this village, and the Mahommedans of that, were disposed to treat travellers; the simplicity of the one, the cunning of the other, and the avarice of both, have long been known to be pretty much the same on every part of the western coast of Africa.
The object of M. Mollien's mission was to discover the sources of the Senegal, the Gambia, and the Niger; to ascertain if there exists a communication between the first two rivers, and the distance which separates them; to determine the space between the Senegal and the sources of the Niger, and the means of
traversing it; and on reaching the Niger to collect every information as to the possibility of descending it to its mouth in the event of obstacles preventing the execution of such a project, he was to ascend this river, which would of itself be an important discovery.'
Of these judicious instructions,' as M. Mollien terms them, he fulfilled no single point, except that of reaching (if he did actually reach them) the sources of the Gambia and Senegal. The Rio Grande, he says, proceeds from the same reservoir which gives birth to the Gambia, but then, he adds, they have separate springs, each concealed in a thicket. In speaking of that of the Gambia, he tells us that trees coeval with the river render it invisible;' the other spring is at a little distance, and issues out of a kind of arch. Between the two thickets, his attendant, Ali, stamped on the ground, and the earth echoed in a frightful manner. 'Underneath,' said he, are the reservoirs of the two rivers; the noise thou hearest proceeds from their being empty.' The virtues of Lady Noel's divining rod would here have been suspended. A thicket of tufted trees concealed likewise the sources of the Senegal, which are said to be three, and situated about the middle of the side of a mountain-rather an unusual situation for the sources of a great river. The source of the Niger he did not visit; but he intended to do so: nay, more;—' I purposed,' he says, descending this river in a canoe, as far as Timbuctoo, where I flattered myself I should arrive without much difficulty, by passing myself off as a slave of my Marabout.' Unluckily, however, a tremendous clap of thunder' put an end at once to the whole project, and suggested to him the propriety of facing about and making the best of his way homewards :-and really, if there be any truth in his piteous situation, as delineated for the embellishment of Mr. Bowdich's translation, where he appears to be dying in the arms of his black Marabout, the young gentleman was quite right in giving up all idea of descending the Niger as far as Timbuctoo!'
One piece of information, however, we have extracted from M. Mollien's journey:-namely, that the sources of the Gambia and the Senegal are much higher than we had suspected, and that of the Niger on a higher level than either of them. The country rises towards the south and south-east in parallel terraces, and forms chains of mountains which increase in height in proportion as they advance to the south, attaining the highest point of elevation between the eighth and tenth degrees of north latitude; at least we assume it to be about these parallels, for, as we said before, M. Mollien employed no means of ascertaining the latitude of any one point on his journey. It is on the second terrace that the Q 2
sources of the Senegal, the Gambia, and the Rio Grande are found: the source of the Niger is on the third; and that the elevation of this is very considerable may be inferred from the Negroes having told M. Mollien that the highest of these mountains was constantly covered with a white hat?
These mountains are situated at so short a distance from the sea coast about the Rio Nunez, and so close behind Timbo, to which Watt and Winterbottom proceeded without difficulty, that we hope some of our colonists of Sierra Leone will be found to possess sufficient zeal and activity to proceed to the source of the Niger with a barometer, and ascertain its elevation above the sea: this would be a great point gained. In the mean time, we are fully satisfied that, whatever the fall may be between the source and Bammakoo, where the stream becomes navigable, the elevation of the latter place exceeds 4000 feet, which we have already proved to be more than sufficient to carry its waters through Egypt into the Mediterranean.
The information obtained by M. Mollien on this particular point may be added as a mite to the general testimony. He learned from a Marabout, or black priest, who had performed a pilgrimage to Mecca and crossed Africa, that, 'on this side (N. W.) of the river and beyond Timbuctoo, there are countries entirely peopled by Pouls; that the Dijaliba (Joliba) discharges itself into the Nile, and that its waters, after mingling with those of the river of Egypt, pursue their course to the sea.' From two Pouls, who agreed in their accounts of the course of the Niger, he also learned that
this great river takes its rise between Kouranko and Soliman; that in the season when the water is low they could not descend further than Marabout, where a ridge of rocks obstructs the navigation;' and they added that, after passing through Sego, it forms, at a vast distance from that city, an immense lake communicating with the Nile, which they called the great river of Egypt.'
When we add to all this the information obtained by M. Dupuis* at Cape Coast Castle, and when we see that, in every part of Africa, there is but one opinion among the Arabs on this subject, we know not how to refuse subscribing to the probability as well as the possibility of the identity of the Nile of Soudan and the Nile of Egypt.
* This gentleman, after being shut up for nearly twelve months in Cape Coast Castle, has at length proceeded to Ashantee, to endeavour to repair the mischief occasioned by the thoughtless conduct of Mr. Bowdich and his young companions, and by his famous treaty which was to last for ever.'
ART. XII-1. Curiosities of Literature. By J. D'Israeli, Esq. Vol. III. Svo. London. 1817.
2. Almanach des Gourmands. Tom. I.-V. 12mo. Paris. WE HEN the good Grandgousier arrived at Paris for the purpose of completing his son's education, he contented himself with making two inquiries; first, what learned men there were in the place, and secondly, what kind of wine the inhabitants most commonly drank. Grandgousier was, as all the world knows, somewhat addicted to the pleasures of the table. Great latitude, therefore, must be given to the second inquiry. Like those corollaries in mathematics, which sometimes swallow up in interest the main proposition that engenders them, wine seems in this case to have been substituted, by a metonymy, for the more important portion which precedes it. The inquiries, therefore, properly stated, referred first to the scholars who existed, and secondly, to the dinners which were given, in that celebrated metropolis and university; and, with submission to female readers, it may be thought that two inquiries, more confirming that reputation for wisdom which belonged to this most worthy prince, could not well have been instituted.
Some remarks recently thrown out in this Journal, have had the effect, we understand, of recovering many respectable scholars from an erroneous opinion, (countenanced, it is true, by the early Greek fables, and apparently confirmed by the sparing mention made of the female sex by the Greek writers,) that, the Athenians really sprang from the ground ready-made (autoX JOVES); their earliest food being, of course, whatever succulent herbs might happen to be at the breast of Mother Earth at the time. Having rescued them from such an anomaly in nature, we shall next endeavour to shew, that though leguminous herbs did form a very prominent article of subsistence among the poorer Athenians, there is no reason to believe that any deficiency existed among the richer citizens of more solid articles. It is not intended to enter into vulgar details of mutton, beef and veal; but we have an interest in remarking, that the pig formed an inexhaustible mine in the hands of an Attic cook, and that the sausages of the Grecian Athens, whether formed from the flesh of this animal, or from that of peacocks, pheasants and rabbits, obtained a celebrity,* un
Arist. in Acharn. v. 145-7. This article of food has not wanted modern as well as ancient eulogists. Agnolo Firenzuola, distinguished among the learned for his elegant translation of Apuleius, owes all his reputation with gourmands to his song in honour of the Sausage. This song, printed in 1545, was accompanied by a whole volume of comments, written by a learned academician of Florence, named Grappa. To create further respect for that degraded and persecuted animal, the pig, we may be allowed to
enjoyed even by those of the English Athens, as Dryden, apostate was, has chosen to call Oxford.
An action taking place with individuals of every nation, three hundred and sixty-five times in the year, possesses intrinsically an importance more than sufficient to excuse a short investigation into the materials chiefly connected with it. We shall, therefore, make no apology for taking our station for some time in the kitchens and dining-rooms of the most polished people of antiquity. We shall begin with the lower regions.
O prole alta di numi,
What a Greek kitchen was, the great architect of antiquity, if we recollect rightly, has left us no information. What it ought to have been, we could describe from sources,* whose authority upon such subjects admits, we believe, of no appeal. But with more facts before us than we can well crowd into our limits, it would be unpardonable to make digressions where fancy would have more play than truth. We shall only suppose, therefore, a Greek kitchen to have been large enough to contain a baker, a cook, a fishmonger, a dealer in perfumery, and a female weaver of garlands; an assemblage of persons, we have reason to believe, not unfrequently found there.
Persons, who have travelled much on the continent, assure us that our neighbours have the art of throwing much more variety and gratification of the palate into that article of subsistence which has been emphatically called the staff of life, than we possess. The French, and still more the German bread, it is said, is often delicious, forming of itself an agreeable article of food, and not serving, like our own, as a mere companion to pair off with so many mouthfuls of meat. But the Athenians, we suspect, surpassed our neighbours, still more than they do us, in the variety and excellence of their farinaceous compositions. Archestratus, a decisive authority upon these matters, and the earliest we can find, made the gods trade with Lesbos for their barley meal: for wheaten bread, at least of one kind, (the aptos ayopaio,) he allowed, that mere mortals could not go to a better market than the Athenian. Those who read the Greek authors will not perhaps be displeased with us for recalling to their thoughts some of the terms, which parti
remark, that the mysteries of Ceres connected him with the religion of Grecce (vid. Aristoph. in Pace, 374.) as much as that midnight, or rather morning, supper, known in the French Catholic church by the name of Réveillon, associates him with one of the most sacred festivals of Christianity.
* Almanach des Gourmands, t. v. p. 27. A slight notice on the subject of culinary architecture may be found in a fragment of Sosipater, the comic poet.