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Significant Scots
Hugh Clapperton


CLAPPERTON, HUGH, the distinguished African traveler, was born at Annan, in Dumfriesshire, in the year 1788. His father, Mr George Clapperton, was a respectable surgeon in that town. His paternal grandfather, who was a physician of considerable ability, was a native of the north of Scotland, and married to a cousin of colonel Archibald Campbell of Glenlyon: this person settled in practice a Lochmaben, another town in Dumfriesshire, and enjoyed some local fame as a collector of mineralogical and antiquarian curiosities, as well as of old Border ballads and genealogies, some of which were used by Sir Walter Scott in his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border." Mr George Clapperton, the father of the traveler, was married twice; by the first marriage, he had ten or eleven sons and a daughter, by the second, three sons and three daughters. The subject of this memoir was the youngest son by the first marriage. Owing partly to the number of his family, and partly to an improvident disposition, Mr Clapperton was unable to give his son Hugh that classical education which is so generally bestowed by people of the middle ranks in Scotland upon their children. When able to do little more than read and write indifferently, Hugh was placed under the care of Mr Bryce Downie, eminent as a mathematical teacher, through whom he acquired a knowledge of practical mathematics, including navigation and trigonometry. Mr Downie ever after spoke in terms of warm affection respecting his pupil, whom he described both as an apt scholar, and a most obliging boy, and able to bear with indifferences the extremes of heat and cold.

It is frequently the fate of a large family of the middle order in Scotland, that at least one half of the sons leave their father’s house, at an early age, with little more than the sailor’s inheritance of a light heart and a thin pair of breeches, to push their way in search of fortune over every quarter of the globe, and in every kind of employment. The family of Mr George Clapperton appears to have been one of this order, for, while Hugh found distinction and a grave in the plains of Africa, no fewer than five of his brothers had also adopted an adventurous career, in the course of which some rose to a considerable rank in the navy and marine service, while others perished in their bloom. At the age of seventeen, the subject of this memoir was bound apprentice to Mr Smith, of the Postlethwaite of Maryport, a large vessel trading between Liverpool and North America. In this situation he continued for some years, already distinguished for coolness, dexterity, and intrepidity, when his course of life was suddenly changed by what appeared to be a most unhappy incident. On one occasion the ship, when at Liverpool, was partly laden with rock-salt, and as that commodity was then dear, the mistress of a house which the crew frequented very improperly enticed Clapperton to bring her ashore a few pounds in his handkerchief. After some intreaty the youth complied, probably from his ignorance of the revenue laws; was caught in the act by a custom-house officer, and menaced with the terrors of trial and imprisonment, unless he consented to go on board the Tender. He immediately chose the latter alternative, and, shortly after, gave a brief account of what had occurred, and the new situation in which he found himself placed, in a letter addressed to Mr Scott, banker, Annan, concluding, though in modest and diffident terms, by soliciting the good offices of this gentleman to procure him promotion. By the influence of Mr Scott, exerted through general Dirom of Mount Annan, and his equally amiable lady Clapperton was draughted on board the Clorinde, which was then fitting out for the East Indies. The commander of this vessel, in compliance with the request of Mrs general Dirom, to whom he was related, paid some attention to Clapperton, and finding him active and intelligent beyond his years, speedily promoted him to the rank of a midshipman; a circumstance which tended in no mean degree to fix his destiny, and shape his fortune in life. "It has often been remarked," says his biographer, Mr M’Diarmid, "that what at first appears to be a misfortune, is sometimes the happiest thing that could have befallen us; and so it chanced in the present instance. It may be safely said, that if Clapperton had not smuggled a few pounds of salt, he would never have figured as an African traveller. Had he remained in the American or coasting trade, he might first have become mate, then master, then ship’s husband and part owner, and finally retired to his native burgh, with a fortune of a few thousand pounds, and vegetated tranquilly for ten or twenty years, reading the newspapers, or playing at billiards in the forenoon, and smoking cigars, and drinking whisky punch or negus in the evening. But where would have been his laurels - where his glory - where his zeal in the cause of science—where his defiance of death and danger—where his place in the British annals!"

Without allowing that the one fate has been much better than the other, either for the traveller or for his country, it is sufficiently obvious, that this step was in itself a fortunate one for Clapperton, as it opened up to him a much higher career of exertion, and one more worthy of his genius, than that which he had hitherto pursued. Previous to 1813, the British sailors were trained to no particular method of managing the cutlass. It being suggested that this was a defect, a few clever midshipmen, among whom was Clapperton, were ordered to repair to Plymouth Dock-yard, to be instructed by the celebrated swordsman, Angelo, in what was called the improved cutlass exercise. When their own instructions had been completed, they were distributed as teachers over the fleet, and Mr Clapperton happened to be appointed to the Asia, 74, the flag-ship of vice-admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, then lying at Spithead. This vessel set sail in January, 1814, for Bermuda, and Mr Clapperton continued during the voyage to act as drill-sergeant. At this time occurred an incident which strikingly illustrates his characteristic coolness and intrepidity. One evening the alarm was given that the ship was on fire; the drums immediately beat to quarters, and the firemen were piped away to the gun-room, where an immense quantity of luggage had been temporarily deposited, and whence were issuing huge and increasing volumes of smoke. The after magazine, containing some hundred barrels of gun-powder, was immediately beneath, and the appearance of the combustion had become so alarming, that every man awaited his fate in silence, under an impression that the vessel would be speedily blown to atoms. At this moment, Clapperton was observed by a friend, sitting at a table in the larboard berth, very quietly smoking a cigar. His friend having expressed surprise at his seeming indifference, he stated quite coolly, "that being only a supernumerary, no particular station had been assigned to him, and it was therefore of no importance where he was at the time the ship blew up." The fire was fortunately extinguished.

While lying at Bermuda, and on the passage out, nothing could exceed Mr Clapperton’s diligence in discharging the duties of his new occupation. Officers as well as men, received instructions from him in the cutlass exercise; and his manly figure and sailor-like appearance tended, in the opinion of all who saw him, to fix the attention, and improve the patriotic spirit of the crew. At his own, as well as the other messes, where he was a frequent guest, he was the very life and soul of the party; sung a good song, told a merry tale, painted scenes for the ship’s theatricals, sketched views, drew caricatures, and, in one word, was an exceedingly amusing and interesting person. Even the admiral became acquainted with his delightful properties, and honoured him with his warmest friendship and patronage. Clapperton was obliged, however, to repair to the Canadian lakes, which were then about to become the scene of important naval operations. Here he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and soon after appointed to the command of the Confiance schooner, the crew of which was composed of nearly all the unmanageable characters in the squadron. To keep these men in order was no easy task; yet his measures were at once so firm and so judicious, that, although he rarely had recourse to flogging, and withheld or disbursed allowances of grog, as a better system of rewards and punishments, his troops in the end became so orderly, that the Confiance was allowed to be one of the smartest barks on the water. When she rode at anchor on the spacious shores of Lake Erie or Lake Huron, her commander occasionally repaired to the woods, and with his gun kept himself in fresh provisions. In these excursions he cultivated an acquaintance with the aborigines, and was so much charmed with a mode of life, full of romance, incident, and danger, that he once entertained serious thoughts, when the war was ended, of becoming a denizen of the forest himself. It was his custom, on returning to the vessel, to swim out to it, instead of taking a boat, so that he might, by approaching unperceived, detect the crew in any little neglect of duty. On one occasion, having dined heartily on shore, the water propelled the blood to his head, so that he soon became too weak either to retreat or advance. In this situation he contrived to float, and called for a boat as loudly as he was able. For a long time his cries were disregarded; and he often expressed his firm conviction, that the watch were willing to leave him to his fate, as the best means of getting rid of a rigid disciplinarian. But at length, fearing that if he survived, a worse fate would befall them, they sent out a boat, which saved him when at the very point of sinking through exhaustion. This adventure frightened him out of the practice.

In the year 1817, when the flotilla on the lakes was dismantled, Clapperton returned to England, to be placed, like many others, on half pay, and he ultimately retired to the old burgh of Lochmaben. There he remained till 1820, amusing himself chiefly with rural sports, when he removed to Edinburgh, and shortly after became acquainted with a young Englishman of the name of Oudney, who had just taken his degree as doctor of medicine in the college. It was at the suggestion of this gentleman that he first turned his thoughts to African discovery. On the return of captain Lyon from his unsuccessful attempt to penetrate northern Africa, earl Bathurst, then Colonial Secretary, relying on the strong assurances of his majesty’s consul at Tripoli, that the road to the south of Mourzook, (the extreme point of Lyon’s expedition,) was now open, resolved that a second mission should be sent out, to explore this unhappy quarter of the globe. Dr Oudney was, upon strong recommendations from Edinburgh, appointed to proceed on this expedition, in the capacity of consul at Bornou in central Africa, being allowed to take Clapperton along with him as a companion. About that time, the late colonel Denham having volunteered his services in an attempt to pass from Tripoli to Timbuctoo; and it being intended that researches should be made from Bornou, as the fixed residence of the consul, to the east and to the west, lord Bathurst added his name to the expedition. The expedition set out from Tripoli early in 1822. It advanced in a line nearly south to Mourzook, which is situated in lat. 25 N. and long. 14 E, and which it reached on the 8th of April. Unfortunately, from various circumstances, it was here found impossible to proceed any further this season; and while Denham returned to Tripoli to make new arrangements, Oudney and Clapperton made an excursion during June, July, and August, to the westward of Mourzook, into the country of the Tuaricks, which they penetrated to Gbraat, in the eleventh degree of east longitude.

On the return of Denham in October, he found Clapperton ill of an ague, and Oudney of a cold, and both were in a very wretched condition. On the 29th of November, however, the whole expedition was able to proceed. Keeping as nearly as possible in a direction due south, and very nearly in the fourteenth degree of east longitude, they arrived in February 1823, in the kingdom of Bornou, which they found to be a far more powerful and civilized state than they could have formerly believed, the most of the inhabitants professing Mahomedanism. This, it must be observed, was a part of the world never before known to have been trodden by a European foot. Qn the 17th, the travellers, who went in company with a great African merchant named Boo-Khaloom, reached Kouka, the capital of the country, where the sultan had several thousand well mounted cavalry drawn up to receive them. This city became their head quarters for the winter; and while Clapperton and Oudney remained there, Denham made an excursion still farther to the south, which he penetrated to Musfeia in latitude 9" 15’ N., thereby adding in all 14 1/2 degrees, or nearly 900 geographical miles to the European knowledge of Africa in this direction. Afterwards, Denham made an excursion with Oudney to Munga and Gambaroo in a western direction.

On the 14th of December, 1823, Mr Clapperton, accompanied by Dr Oudney, commenced a journey to the west, for the purpose of exploring the course of the Niger, leaving Denham to explore the neighbouring shores of the great lake Chad, which may be called the Caspian of Africa. The two travellers arrived in safety at Murmur, where Oudney, who had previously been very weakly, breathed his last in the arms of his companion. "At any time, in any place," says Clapperton in his narrative, "to be bereaved of such a friend had proved a severe trial; but to me his friend and fellow-traveller, labouring also under disease, and now left alone amid a strange people, and proceeding through a country which had hitherto been never trod by European feet, the loss was severe and afflicting in the extreme." Proceeding on his journey, Clapperton reached Kane, the capital of the kingdom of Houssa, which he entered on the 23d of January, 1824. In general the native chiefs treated him with kindness, partly from a sense of the greatness of his master, the king of Great Britain. On the 10th of March, he reached Jackatoo, a large city in lat. 13 N. and long. 6 1/2 E., which was the extreme point of the expedition in that direction. The sultan of this place treated him with much attention, and was found to be a person of no small intelligence, considering his situation.

"March 19, I was sent for," says Clapperton, "by the sultan, and desired to bring with me the ‘looking-glass of the sun,’ the name they gave to my sextant. I first exhibited a planisphere of the heavenly bodies. The sultan knew all the signs of the Zodiac, some of the constellations, and many of the stars, by their Arabic names. The looking-glass of the sun was then brought forward, and occasioned much surprise. I had to explain all its appendages. The inverting telescope was an object of immense astonishment; and I had to stand at some little distance, to let the sultan look at me through it, for his people were all afraid of placing themselves within its magical influence. I had next to show him how to take an observation of the sun. The case of the artificial horizon, of which I had lost the key, was sometimes very difficult to open, as happened on this occasion: I asked one of the people near me for a knife to press up the lid. He handed me one quite too small, and I quite inadvertently asked for a dagger for the same purpose. The sultan was immediately thrown into a fright; he seized his sword, and half-drawing it from the scabbard, placed it before him, trembling all the time like an aspen leaf. I did not deem it prudent to take the least notice of his alarm, although it was I who had in reality most cause of fear; and on receiving the dagger, I calmly opened the case, and returned the weapon to its owner with apparent unconcern. When the artificial horizon was arranged, the sultan, and all his attendants had a peep at the sun; and my breach of etiquette seemed entirely forgotten." The courage and presence of mind of Clapperton are most strikingly displayed in this anecdote.

Clapperton was very anxious to have pressed westwards in order to fall in with the Niger, which he was told was within five days’ journey, and the course of which was described to him by the sultan. But owing to some of those malign jealousies which the slave trade inspires into the African mind, he was not permitted to proceed. He set out, May 4, on his return to Kouka, which he reached on the 8th of July. Here he was rejoined by Denham, who scarcely knew him, on account of the ravages which illness had committed upon his once manly frame. The two remaining travellers then set out on their return to Tripoli, which, after a harassing journey across the desert, they reached, January, 26, 1825, about three years after they had first set foot in Africa. They returned through Italy to Europe, and arrived in England on the 1st of June.

The result of this expedition was a work published in 1826, under the title of "Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824, by Major Denham, F.R.S., Captain Clapperton, and the late Dr Oudney," of which a third edition was published in 1828. The greater part of this work was the composition of Denham, Clapperton only writing a minor part, respecting the excursion to Jackatoo, which, however, is not the least interesting in the book. The subject of our memoir wrote in a plain, manly, unaffected style, as might have been expected from his character. The work was published under the immediate superintendence of major Denham; and it was not the fate of Clapperton ever to see the result of his labours in print.

This enterprising person was solicited, immediately after his return, to undertake the management of another expedition to Africa, in company with captain Pearce of the royal navy, Dr Morrison, and Mr Dickson. On this occasion it was projected, that he should enter the continent, with his companions, at the Guinea coast, and thence endeavour to reach Jackatoo in a north-easterly direction, so as to make sure of intersecting the Niger. An enterprising youth, named Richard Lander, applied to Clapperton for permission to join the expedition in any capacity he might think proper. "The captain," we are informed by this individual, in his Narrative subsequently published, "listened to me with attention, and, after I had answered a few interrogations, willingly engaged me to be his confidential servant. In this interview," adds Mr Lander, "the keen, penetrating eye of the African traveller did not escape my observation, and by its fire, energy, and quickness, denoted, in my own opinion at least, the very soul of enterprise and adventure." After being entrusted with an answer from the king to a letter which he had brought from the sultan Bello of Jackatoo, and with a letter to El Kanemy, the Shiekh of Bornou, Clapperton left England with his company, on the 27th August, not three months from the time of his return. Mr Dickson having been, at his own request, landed at Whydah, the rest disembarked, on the 28th of November, at Badagry in the Bight of Benin.

The journey into the interior was commenced on the 7th of December, and Clapperton soon had the pain of seeing his two companions, Pearce and Morrison, fall a sacrifice to its hardships. Accompanied by a merchant named Houtson, who joined him as a volunteer, he pursued his enterprise, and on the 15th of January 1826, arrived at Katunga, the capital of Youriba. From this point Mr Houtson returned without molestation, leaving Clapperton and Lander to pursue their journey alone. They soon after crossed the Quorra, or Niger, at Boussa, the place where Park had met his untimely fate. In July, the travellers reached Kano, a large city on the line of road which Clapperton had formerly traversed, and here, on the 24th, the latter individual left his servant with the baggage, while he proceeded by himself to Soccatoo. This parting in the wilderness is affectingly described by Mr Lander. "Every arrangement having been previously made, my master came to bid me adieu, and gave me final instructions relative to proceeding to Bornou and Tripoli, in case of his death, or of any unforeseen accident that might befall him. On this occasion each of us was much moved. Our little party had left their native country full of hope and enterprising spirit, and we had seen them sicken and die by our sides without being in a condition to mitigate their sufferings, or ‘smooth down their lonely pillow.’ Like the characters in Mozart’s ‘Farewell,’ they had dropped one by one; and they were buried in a strange land, far from the graves of their fathers, with scarce a memento to point out the solitary spot. These were my thoughts at the moment of separation from my valued master. I knew that it was by no means unlikely we might never meet again, and we were well assured, that in the event of our dissolution when apart, no one would be found to close our eyes, still less to perform the rites of Christian burial over our remains. My master therefore left me with emotion. For my own part, I was yet, if possible, more sensibly agitated: as soon as the captain was out of sight, I threw myself upon my couch, from which I did not again arise for twenty-four hours."

It was the wish of Clapperton to obtain permission from sultan Bello to visit Timbuctoo, and revisit Bornou. But all his plans were frustrated in consequence of Bello having engaged in a war with the Shiekh of Bornou. Clapperton, in his former visit, had presented the latter individual with several Congreve rockets, which he had employed effectually in setting fire to some of the sultan’s towns. The traveller also bore, on this occasion. some considerable presents from the king of England to the Shiekh of Bornou; and thus every circumstance conspired to introduce jealousy into the mind of the sultan. Clapperton was detained for several months at Soccatoo in bad health, and Lander was inveigled by the sultan to come also to that city, along with the baggage, in order that the presents intended for Bornou might be intercepted. Lander reached Soccatoo in November, to the surprise of his master, and immediately their baggage was seized in the most shameless manner, and the travellers expressly forbidden to proceed to Bornou.

To pursue the narrative of Lander: "My master and myself enjoyed tolerable health for some weeks after my arrival, I say tolerable, for perfect health we felt not even a single day in Africa. We variously employed our leisure hours, as inclination or circumstances might guide our choice. We each went a-shooting repeatedly: this was captain Clapperton’s favourite amusement, and almost the only out-of-door exercise he was at all eager to cultivate. He frequently went out with his gun at an early hour in the morning, and returned not till the evening was pretty far advanced. On all of these occasions the captain was dressed in the costume of the country, which consisted, besides other articles, of a large, flowing tobe, and a red cap with a white muslin turban: the tobe was confined to his waist by a broad belt, in which a brace of pistols and a short dagger were stuck;—thus accoutred, my master looked more like a mountain robber setting out on a predatory excursion, than a British naval officer. His beard, also, which he had permitted gradually to grow, had undisputed possession of his chin, and was of a truly patriarchal length, extending even below his breast. This imparted to his countenance a venerable expression, and to his general appearance a degree of dignity, that excited the envy and admiration of the Arabs and Falatahs, who attach great importance to large bushy beards, which they all strive to obtain by various means."

Mr Lander next describes the way in which they generally spent their evenings, while confined in this place. "Sometimes, although neither of us was gifted with a voice of much power or compass, we attempted to sing a few English or Scottish tunes; and sometimes I played others on my bugle-horn. How often have the pleasing strains of ‘Sweet, sweet Home,’ resounded through the melancholy streets of Soccatoo! How often have its inhabitants listened with breathless attention to the white-faced strangers! and observed to each other, as they went away, ‘Surely those Christians are sending a blessing to their country and friends!’ Any thing that reminded my master of his native Scotland was always heard with interest and emotion. The little poem, ‘My native Highland home,’ I have sung scores of times to him, as he has sat with his arms folded on his breast opposite to me in our dwelling; and notwithstanding his masculine understanding, and boasted strength of nerve, the captain used to be somewhat moved on listening to the lines:

‘Then gang wi’ me to Scotland dear,
We ne’er again will roam;
And with thy smile, so bonny, cheer
My native Highland home!
For blithesome is the breath of day,
And sweet’s the bonny broom,
And pure the dimpling rills that play
Around my Highland home.’

* *

"On the 12th of March (1827), all thoughts of further enjoyment ceased, through the sudden illness of my dear kind master, who was attacked with dysentery on that day. He had been almost insensibly declining for a week or two previously, but without the slightest symptoms of this frightful malady. From the moment he was first taken ill, captain Clapperton perspired freely, large drops of sweat continually rolling over every part of his body, which weakened him exceedingly; and, being unable to obtain any one, even of our own servants, to assist, I was obliged to wash the clothes, kindle and keep in the fire, and prepare the victuals with my own hands. Owing to the intense heat, my master was frequently fanned for hours together: indeed, all my leisure moments were devoted to this tedious occupation; and I have often held the fan till, from excessive weakness, it has fallen from my grasp.

Finding that, from increasing debility, I was unable to pay that unremitting attention to the numerous wants of the invalid which his melancholy state so peculiarly demanded, I sent to Malam Mudey on the 15th, entreating him to lend me a female slave to perform the operation of fanning. On her arrival the girl began her work with alacrity and cheerfulness; but soon becoming weary of her task, ran away, and never returned to our hut. I was therefore obliged to resume it myself; and, regardless of personal inconvenience and fatigue, strained every nerve, in order to alleviate, as much as possible, the sufferings occasioned by this painful disorder. My master daily grew weaker, and suffered severely from the intolerable heat of the atmosphere, the thermometer being, in the coolest place, 107 at twelve at noon, and 109 at three in the afternoon.

At his own suggestion I made a couch for him outside our dwelling, in the shade, and placed a mat for myself by its side. For five successive days I took him in my arms from his bed to the couch outside, and back again at sunset, after which he was too much debilitated to encounter even so trifling an exertion. He expressed a wish to write once, and but once, during his illness, but before paper and ink could be handed to him, he had fallen back on his bed, completely exhausted by his ineffectual attempt to sit up.

* * * *

"For twenty days the captain remained in a low and distressed state, and during that period was gradually but perceptibly declining; his body, from being strong and vigorous, having become exceedingly weak and emaciated, and, indeed, little better than a skeleton. There could not be a more truly pitiable object in the universe than was my poor dear master, at this time. His days were sorrowfully and ignobly wasting in vexatious indolence; he himself languishing under the influence of a dreadful disease, in a barbarous region, far, very far removed, from his tenderest connections, and beloved country; the hope of life quenched in his bosom; the great undertaking, on which his whole soul was bent, unaccomplished; the active powers of his mind consumed away; and his body so torn and racked with pain, that he could move neither head, hand, nor foot without suppressed groans of anguish; while the fire and energy that used to kindle in his eye had passed away, and given place to a glossy appearance—a dull saddening expression of approaching dissolution.

"In those dismal moments, captain Clapperton derived considerable consolation from the exercise of religious duties; and, being unable himself to hold a book in his hand, I used to read aloud to him daily and hourly some portions of the Sacred Scriptures. At times a gleam of hope, which the impressive and appropriate language of the Psalmist, is so admirably calculated to excite, would pierce the thick curtain of melancholy that enveloped us; but, like the sun smiling through the dense clouds of a winter’s day, it shone but faintly, and left us in a state of gloomier darkness than before.

* * *

"On the first of April the patient became considerably worse; and, although evidently in want of repose, the virulence of his complaint prevented him from enjoying any refreshing slumbers. On the 9th, Maddie, a native of Bornou, whom my master had retained in his service, brought him about twelve ounces of green bark, from the butter-tree, recommended to him by an Arab in the city; and assured us that it would produce the most beneficial effects. Notwithstanding all my remonstrances, a decoction of it was ordered to be prepared immediately, the too confiding invalid remarking that no one would injure him. Accordingly, Maddie himself boiled two basins full, the whole of which stuff was swallowed in less than an hour.

"On the following day he was greatly altered for the worse, as I had foretold he would be, and expressed regret for not having followed my advice. About twelve o’clock at noon, calling me to his bedside, he said—‘Richard! I shall shortly be no more; I feel myself dying.’ Almost choked with grief, I replied, ‘God forbid! my dear master; you will live many years to come.’ ‘Do not be so much affected, my dear boy, I entreat you,’ rejoined he; ‘you distress me by your emotion; it is the will of the Almighty, and therefore cannot be helped. Take care of my journal and papers after my decease; and when you arrive in London, go immediately to my agents, and send for my uncle, who will accompany you to the Colonial office, and see you deposit them with the secretary. After my body is laid in the earth, apply to Bello, and borrow money to purchase camels and provisions for crossing the desert to Fezzan in the train of the Arab merchants. On your arrival at Mourzuk, should your money be expended, send a messenger to Mr Warrington, our consul for Tripoli, and wait till he returns with a remittance. On your reaching the latter place, that gentleman will further advance you what money you may requires and send you to England the first opportunity. Do not lumber yourself with my books, but leave them behind, as well as my barometer and sticks, and indeed every heavy or cumbersome article you can conveniently part with; you may give them to Malam Mudey, who will preserve them. Remark whatever towns or villages you may pass through, and put on paper any thing remarkable that the chief of the different places may say to you.’ I said, as well as my agitation would permit me, ‘If it be the will of God to take you, Sir, you may confidently rely, as far as circumstances will permit me, on my faithfully performing all that you have desired; but I hope and believe that the Almighty will yet spare you to see your home and country again.’ ‘I thought at one time,’ continued he, ‘that that would be the case, but I dare not entertain such hopes now; death is on me, and I shall not be long for this world; God’s will be done.’ He then took my, hand betwixt his, and looking me full in the face, while a tear glistened in his eye, said in a tremulous, melancholy tone: ‘My dear Richard, if you had not been with me I should have died long ago. I can only thank you with my latest breath for your devotedness and attachment to me; and if I could live to return to England with you, you should be placed beyond the reach of want; the Almighty, however, will reward you.’

"This pathetic conversation, which occupied almost two hours, greatly exhausted my master, and he fainted several times while speaking. The same evening he fell into a slumber, from which he awoke in much perturbation, and said, that he had heard with peculiar distinctness the tolling of an English funeral bell; but I entreated him to be composed, observing, that sick people frequently fancy things which in reality can have no existence. He shook his head, but said nothing.

"About six o’clock on the morning of the 11th April, on my asking him how he did, my master replied in a cheerful tone, that he felt much better’; and requested to be shaved, He had not sufficient strength to lift his head from the pillow; and after finishing one side of the face I was obliged myself to turn his head in order to get at the other. As soon as he was shaved, he desired me to fetch him a looking-glass which hung on the opposite side of the hut; and on seeing the reflection of his face in it, observed that he looked quite as ill in Bornou on his former journey, and that as he had borne his disorder for so long a time, there was some possibility of his yet recovering. On the following day he still fancied himself to be convalescent, in which belief I myself agreed, as he was enabled to partake of a little hashed guinea fowl in the course of the afternoon, which he had not done before during the whole of his confinement, having derived his sole sustenance from a little fowl soup, and milk and water.

"These flattering anticipations, however, speedily vanished, for on the morning of the 13th, being awake, I was greatly alarmed on hearing a peculiar rattling noise issuing from my master’s throat, and his breathing at the same time was loud and difficult. At that moment, on his calling out ‘Richard!’ in a low, hurried, and singular tone, I was instantly at his side, and was astonished beyond measure on beholding him sitting upright in his bed (not having been able for a long time previously to move a limb), and staring wildly around. Observing him ineffectually struggling to raise himself on his feet, I clasped him in my arms, and whilst I thus held him, could feel his heart palpitating violently. His throes became every moment less vehement, and at last they entirely ceased, insomuch that thinking he had fallen into a slumber, or was overpowered by faintings, I placed his head gently on my left shoulder, gazing for an instant, on his pale and altered features; some indistinct expressions quivered on his lips, and whilst he vainly strove to give them utterance, his heart ceased to vibrate, and his eyes closed for ever!

"I held the lifeless body in my arms for a short period, overwhelmed with grief; nor could I bring myself to believe that the soul which had animated it with being, a few moments before, had actually quitted it. I then unclasped my arms, and held the hand of my dear master in mine; but it was cold and dead, and instead of returning the warmth with which I used to press it, imparted some of its own unearthly chillness to my frame, and fell heavily from my grasp. O God! what was my distress in that agonizing moment? Shedding floods of tears, I flung myself along the bed of death, and prayed that Heaven would in mercy take my life."

By the permission of Sultan Bello, Mr Lander buried his fellow-traveller at Jungavie, about five miles south-east from Soccatoo;—after describing the mournful scene, he thus proceeds to draw the character of his master:

"No one could be better qualified than captain Clapperton by a fearless, indomitable spirit, and utter contempt of danger and death, to undertake and carry into execution an enterprise of so great importance and difficulty, as the one with which he was entrusted. He had studied the African character in all its phases—in its moral, social, and external form; and, like Alcibiades, accommodated himself with equal ease to good, as well as to bad fortune—to prosperity, as well as to adversity. He was never highly elated at the prospect of accomplishing his darling wishes—the great object of his ambition—nor deeply depressed when environed by danger, care, disappointment, and bodily suffering, which, hanging heavily upon him, forbade him to indulge in hopeful anticipations. The negro loved him, because he admired the simplicity of his manners, and mingled with pleasure in his favourite dance; the Arab hated him, because he was overawed by his commanding appearance, and because the keen penetrating glance of the British captain detected his guilty thoughts, and made him quail with apprehension and fear.

"Captain Clapperton’s stature was tall; his disposition was warm and benevolent; his temper mild, even, and cheerful; while his ingenuous manly countenance pourtrayed the generous emotions that reigned in his breast. In fine, he united the figure and determination of a man, with the gentleness and simplicity of a child; and, if I mistake not, he will live in the memory of many thousands of Africans, until they cease to breathe, as something more than mortal; nor have I the least doubt that the period of his visiting their country will be regarded by some as a new era, from which all events of consequence, that affect them, will hereafter be dated."

The surviving traveller was permitted to leave Soccatoo a few days afterwards, and return on the way to Badagry. He reached that part of the coast, after almost incredible hardships, and returning safely to England, prepared for the press a work entitled, "Records of Captain Clapperton’s Last Expedition to Africa," which appeared in 1830, in two volumes 12mo. Before the publication of this book, Mr Lander had set out on another expedition, in company with his younger brother, John; and pursuing nearly the same route as that of captain Clapperton, again reached the Niger at Boussa. It was an impression of Mr Lander, that that river ran into the Bight of Benin, and he had, on his return, endeavoured to prove the fact by descending the stream, but was prevented by the natives. He now fairly settled the question by sailing down the river, and entering the sea by the outlet which is marked on the maps by the name of Nun. Thus was a youth of about twenty-six years of age at last successful in solving a problem which many older and better instructed men had failed to expound. It is to be allowed, however, that Clapperton is indirectly entitled to a large share of this honour, as it was he who introduced Lander to the field of African adventure, and who inspired him with the desire, and invested him with the accomplishments, necessary for the purpose.


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