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TIMBUCTOO AND HOUSA,
TERRITORIES IN THE INTERIOR OF
By; EL HAGE ABD SALAM SHABEENY;
NOTES, CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY.
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
LETTERS DESCRIPTIVE OF
TRAVELS THROUGH WEST AND SOUTH BARBARY,
AND ACROSS THE MOUNTAIN’S OF ATLAS;
FRAGMENTS, NOTES, AND ANECDOTES;
SPECIMENS OF THE ARABIC EPISTOLARY STYLE,
“L’Univers est une espèce de livre, dont on n’a lu que la première page,
quand on n’a vu que son pays.” LE COSMOPOLITE.
By JAMES GREY JACKSON,
RESIDENT UPWARDS OF SIXTEEN YEARS IN SOUTH AND WEST BARBARY, IN A DIPLOMATIC AND IN A COMMERCIAL CAPACITY.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN,
Printed by A. and R. Spottiswoode,
Printers Street, London.
TO HIS MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY
GEORGE THE FOURTH,
&c. &c. &c.
MOST DUTIFUL SUBJECT
JAMES GREY JACKSON.
The person who communicated the following intelligence respecting Timbuctoo and Housa, is a Muselman, and a native of Tetuan, whose father and mother are personally known to Mr. Lucas, the British Consul. His name is Asseed El Hage Abd Salam Shabeeny. His account of himself is, that at the age of fourteen years he accompanied his father to Timbuctoo, from which town, after a residence of three years, he proceeded to Housa; and after residing at the latter two years, he returned to Timbuctoo, where he continued seven years, and then came back to Tetuan.
Being now in the twenty-seventh year of his age, he proceeded from Tetuan as a pilgrim and merchant, with the caravan for Egypt to Mecca and Medina, and on his return, established himself as a merchant at Tetuan, his native place, from whence he embarked on board a vessel bound for Hamburgh, in order to purchase linens and other merchandize that were requisite for his commerce.
On his return from Hamburgh in an English vessel, he was captured, and carried prisoner to Ostend, by a ship manned by Englishmen, but under Russian colours, the captain of which pretended that his Imperial mistress was at war with all Muselmen. There he was released by the good offices of the British consul, Sir John Peters a, and embarked once more in the same vessel, which, by the same mediation, was also released; but as the captain either was or pretended to be afraid of a second capture, El Hage Abd Salam was sent ashore at Dover, and is now b, by the orders of government, to take his passage on board a king’s ship that will sail in a few days.
In the following communications, Mr. Beaufoy proposed the questions, and Mr. Lucas was the interpreter.
Shabeeny was two years on his journey from Tetuan to Mekka, before he returned to Fas. He made some profit on his merchandise, which consisted of haiks c, red caps, and slippers, cochineal and saffron; the returns were, fine Indian muslins d for turbans, raw silk, musk, and gebalia e, a fine perfume that resembles black paste.
He made a great profit by his traffic at Timbuctoo and Housa; but, he says, money gained among the Negroes f has not the blessing of God on it, but vanishes away without benefit to the owner; but, acquired in a journey to Mecca, proves fortunate, and becomes a permanent acquisition.
On his return with his father from Mecca, they settled at Tetuan, and often carried cattle, poultry, &c. to Gibraltar; his father passed the last fifteen years of his life at Gibraltar, and died there about the year 1793. He was born at Mequinas; his family is descended from the tribe of Shabban g, which possesses the country between Santa Cruz and Wedinoon. They were entitled to the office of pitching the Emperor’s tent, and attending his person. They can raise 40,000 men, and they were the first who accompanied Muley Hamed Dehebby h in his march to Timbuctoo.
Footnote a:(return) Confirmed by Sir John Peters.
Footnote b:(return) In the year 1795.
Footnote c:(return) The haiks are light cotton, woollen, or silk garments, about five feet wide and four yards long, manufactured at Fas, as are also the red caps which are generally made of the finest Tedla wool, which is equal to the Spanish, and is the produce of the province of that name, (for the situation of which see the map of the empire of Marocco, facing page 55.) The slippers are also manufactured from leather made from goat-skins, at Fas and at Mequinas. The cochineal is imported from Spain, although the opuntia, or the tree that nourishes the cochineal-fly, abounds in many of the provinces of West Barbary, particularly in the province of Suse. The saffron abounds in the Atlas mountains in Lower Suse, and is used in most articles of food by the Muhamedans.
Footnote d:(return) Muls.
Footnote e:(return) Gebalia resembles frankincense, or Gum Benjamin, and is used for fumigations by the Africans.
Footnote f:(return) Being idolaters.
Footnote g:(return) Shâban is (probably) a tribe of the Howara Arabs, who possess the beautiful plains and fine country situated between the city of Terodant and the port of Santa Cruz. There is an emigration of the Mograffra Arabs, who are in possession of the country between Terodant and the port of Messa. The encampments of an emigration of the Woled Abusebah (vulgarly called, in the maps, Labdessebas) Arabs of Sahara, occupy a considerable district between Tomie, on the coast, and Terodant. The coast from Messa to Wedinoon is occupied by a trading race of Arabs and Shelluhs, who have inter-married, called Ait Bamaran. These people are very anxious to have a port opened in their country, and some sheiks among them have assured me, that there is a peninsula on their coast conveniently situated for a port. This circumstance is well deserving the attention of the maritime and commercial nations of the world.
Footnote h:(return) The youngest son of the Emperor Muley Ismael conducted the expedition here alluded to, about the year of Christ 1727. For an account of which see the Appendix, page 523.
He considers himself now as settled at Tetuan, where he has a wife and children. He left it about twelve months ago, with three friends, to go to Hamburg (as before mentioned.) They were confined forty-seven days at Ostend, were taken the second day of their voyage; the English captain put them ashore at Dover against their inclination, and proceeded to Gibraltar with their goods: this was in December, 1789.
The continent of Africa, the discovery of which has baffled the enterprise of Europe, (unlike every other part of the habitable world,) still remains, as it were, a sealed book, at least, if the book has been opened, we have scarcely got beyond the title-page.
Great merit is due to the enterprise of travellers. The good intention of the African Association, in promoting scientific researches in this continent, cannot (by the liberal) be doubted. But something more than this is necessary to embark successfully in this gigantic undertaking. I never thought that the system of solitary travellers would produce any beneficial result. The plan of the expedition of Major Peddie and Captain Tuckie was still more objectionable than the solitary plan, and I have reason to think, that no man possessing any personal knowledge of Africa, ever entertained hopes of the success of those expeditions. Twenty years ago I declared it as MY decided opinion, that the only way to obtain a knowledge of this interesting continent, is through the medium of commercial intercourse. The more our experience of the successive failure of our African expeditions advances, the more strongly am I confirmed in this opinion. If we are to succeed in this great enterprise, we must step out of the beaten path–the road of error, that leads to disappointment–the road that has been so fatal to all our ill-concerted enterprises; we must shake off the rust of precedent, and strike into a new path altogether.
Do we not lack that spirit of union so expedient and necessary to all great enterprises? Is not the public good sacrificed to self-aggrandisement and individual interest.–Let the African Institution unite its funds to those of the African Association, and co-operate with the efforts of that society! Let the African Company also throw in their share of intelligence. The separated and sometimes discordant interests of all these societies, if united, might effect much. The united efforts of such societies would do more in a year towards the civilization of Africa, and the abolition of slavery, than they will do in ten, unconnected as they now are. Concordia parva res crescunt.–When each looks to particular interests, we cannot expect the result to be the general good.
It is probable that the magnificent enterprises of the Portuguese and Spaniards, would, ere this, have colonised and converted to Christianity, all the eligible spots of idolatrous Africa, if their attention to this grand object had not been diverted by the discovery of America, and their establishments in Brazil, Mexico, &c.
I was established upwards of sixteen years in West and South Barbary; territories that maintain an uninterrupted intercourse with all those countries that Major Houghton, Hornemann, Park, Rontgen, Burckhardt, Ritchie, and others have attempted to explore. I was diplomatic agent to several maritime nations of Europe, which familiarised me with all ranks of society in those countries. I had a perfect knowledge of the commercial and travelling language of Africa, (the Arabic.) I corresponded myself with the Emperors, Princes, and Bashaws in this language; my commercial connections were very extensive, amongst all the most respectable merchants who traded with Timbuctoo and other countries of Sudan. My residence at Agadeer, or Santa Cruz, in Suse, afforded me eligible opportunities of procuring information respecting the trade with Sudan, and the interior of Africa. A long residence in the country, and extensive connections, enabled me to discriminate, and to ascertain who were competent and who were not competent to give me the information I required. I had opportunities at my leisure of investigating the motives that any might have to deceive me; I had time and leisure also to investigate their moral character, and to ascertain the principles that regulated their respective conduct. Possessed of all these sources of information, how could I fail of procuring correct and authentic intelligence of the interior of Africa; yet my account of the two Niles has been doubted by our fire-side critics, and the desultory intelligence of other travellers, who certainly did not possess those opportunities of procuring information that I did, has been substituted: but, notwithstanding this unaccountable scepticism, my uncredited account of the connection of the two Niles of Africa, continues daily to receive additional confirmation from all the African travellers themselves. And thus, Time , (to use the words of a jlearned and most intelligent writer), “which is more obscure in its course than the Nile, and in its termination than the Niger,” is disclosing all these things: so that I now begin to think that the before-mentioned critics will not be able much longer to maintain their theoretical hypothesis. k
Footnote j:(return) Vide the Rev. C. C. Colton’s Lacon, sect. 587. p. 260, 261.
Footnote k:(return) See various letters on Africa, in this work, p. 443.
The talents, the extraordinary prudence and forbearance, the knowledge of the Arabic language, and other essential qualifications in an African traveller, which the ever-to-be-lamented Burckhardt so eminently possessed, gave me the greatest hopes of his success in his arduous enterprise, until I discovered, when reading his Travels, that he was poor and despised, though a Muselman.
There is too much reason to apprehend that he was suspected, if not discovered by the Muselmen, or he would not have been secluded from their meals and society: the Muselmen never (sherik taam) eat or divide food with those they suspect of deception, nor do they ever refuse to partake of food with a Muselman, unless they do suspect him of treachery or deception; this principle prevails so universally among them, that artful and designing people have practised as many deceptions on the Bedouin under the cloak of hospitality, as are practised in Christian countries under the cloak of religion! I cannot but suspect, therefore, from the circumstance before recited, that the Muselmism of Burckhardt was seriously suspected, and that his companions only waited a convenient opportunity in the Sahara for executing their revenge on him for the deception.
The very favourable reception that my account of Marocco met with from the British public; the many things therein stated, which are daily gaining confirmation, although they were doubted at the period of their publication, have contributed in no small degree, to the production of the following sheets, in which I can conscientiously declare, that truth has been my guide; I have never sacrificed it to ambition, vanity, avarice, or any other passion.
The learned, I am flattered to see, are now beginning to adopt my orthography of African names; they have lately adopted Timbuctoo for the old and barbarous orthography of Timbuctoo; they have, however, been upwards of ten years about it. In ten years more, I anticipate that Fez will be changed into Fas, and Morocco into Marocco, for this plain and uncontrovertible reason,–because they are so spelled in the original language of the countries, of which they are the chief cities. Since the publication of my account of Marocco, I have seen Arabic words spelled various ways by the same author (I have committed the same error myself); but in the following work I have adopted a plan to correct this prevailing error in Oriental orthography, which, I think, ought to be followed by every Oriental scholar, as the only correct way of transcribing them in English; viz. by writing them exactly according to the original Arabic orthography, substituting gr (not gh, as Richardson directs) for the Arabic guttural [? Arabic] grain, and kh for the guttural k or [? Arabic]–
Note. We should be careful not to copy the orthography of Oriental or African names from the French, which has too often been done, although their pronunciation of European letters is very dissimilar from our own.
Route to Timbuctoo.–Situation of the City.–Population.–Inns or Caravanseras, called Fondaks.–Houses.–Government.–Revenue.–Army.–Administration of Justice.–Succession to Property.–Marriage.–Trade.–Manufactures.–Husbandry.–Provisions.–Animals.–Birds.–Fish.–Prices of different Articles.–Dress.–Time.–Religion.–Diseases.–Manners and Customs.–Neighbouring Nations.
The River Neel or Nile.–Housa.–Government.–Administration of Justice–Landed Property,–Revenues.–Army.–Trade.–Climate.–Zoology.–Diseases.–Religion.–Persons.–Dress. Buildings.–Manners.–Gold.–Limits of the Empire.