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- Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo Volume 2 - 1/43 -


Two Trips to

Gorilla Land

and the Cataracts of the Congo.

By

Richard F. Burton.

In Two Volumes

Vol. II.

London: 1876

Contents of Vol. I.

Chapter I. From Fernando Po to Loango Bay.--the German Expedition Chapter II. To São Paulo De Loanda Chapter III. The Festival.--a Trip to Calumbo--portuguese Hospitality Chapter IV. The Cruise along Shore--the Granite Pillar of Kinsembo Chapter V. Into the Congo River.--the Factories.--trip to Shark's Point.--the Padrao and Pinda Chapter VI. Up the Congo River.--the Slave Depot.--porto Da Lenha.-arrival at Boma Chapter VII. Boma.--our Outfit for the Interior Chapter VIII. A Visit to Banza Chisalla Chapter IX. Up the Congo to Banza Nokki Chapter X. Notes on the Nzadi or Congo River Chapter XI. Life at Banza Nokki Chapter XII. Preparations for the March Chapter XIII. The March to Banza Nkulu Chapter XIV. The Yellala of the Congo Chapter XV. Return to the Congo Mouth Chapter XVI. The Slaver and the Missionary in the Congo River Chapter XVII. Concluding Remarks Appendix:-- I. Meteorological II. Plants collected in the Congo, at Dahome, and the Island of Annabom, by Mr. Consul Burton III. Heights of Stations, West Coast of Africa, computed from Observations made by Captain Burton IV. Immigration Africaine

PART II.

The Cataracts of the Congo.

"Allí o mui grande reino está de Congo, Por nós ja convertido à fé de Christo, Por onde o Zaire passa claro e longo, Rio pelos antiguos nunca visto."

"Here lies the Congo kingdom, great and strong, Already led by us to Christian ways; Where flows Zaïre, the river clear and long, A stream unseen by men of olden days."

The Lusiada, V. 13.

Part II.

The Cataracts of the Congo.

Chapter I.

From Fernando Po to Loango Bay.--the German Expedition.

During the hot season of 1863, "Nanny Po," as the civilized African calls this "lofty and beautiful island," had become a charnel-house, a "dark and dismal tomb of Europeans." The yellow fever of the last year, which wiped out in two months one-third of the white colony--more exactly, 78 out of 250--had not reappeared, but the conditions for its re-appearance were highly favourable. The earth was all water, the vegetation all slime, the air half steam, and the difference between wet and dry bulbs almost nil. Thoroughly dispirited for the first time, I was meditating how to escape, when H. M. Steamship "Torch" steamed into Clarence Cove, and Commander Smith hospitably offered me a passage down south. To hear was to accept. Two days afterwards (July 29, 1863) I bade a temporary "adios" to the enemy.

The bitterness of death remained behind as we passed out of the baneful Bights. Wind and wave were dead against us, yet I greatly enjoyed the gradual emerging of the sun through his shroud of "smokes;" the increasing consciousness that a moon and stars really exist; the soft blue haze of the sky, and the coolness of 73° F. at 6 A.M. in the captain's cabin. I had also time to enjoy these charms. The "Torch" was not provided with "despatch- boilers:" she was profoundly worm-eaten, and a yard of copper, occasionally clapped on, did not prevent her making some four feet of water a day. So we rolled leisurely along the well-known Gaboon shore, and faintly sighted from afar Capes Lopez and St. Catherine, and the fringing ranges of Mayumba-land, a blue line of heights based upon gently rising banks, ruddy and white, probably of shaly clay. The seventh day (August 5) placed us off the well-known "red hills" of Loango-land.

The country looks high and bold after the desperate flatness of the Bights, and we note with pleasure that we have left behind us the "impervious luxuriance of vegetation which crowns the lowlands, covers the sides of the rises, and caps their summits." During the rains after October the grass, now showing yellow stubble upon the ruddy, rusty plain, becomes a cane fence, ten to twelve feet tall; but instead of matted, felted jungle, knitted together by creepers of cable size, we have scattered clumps of dark, lofty, and broad-topped trees. A nearer view shows great cliffs, weather-worked into ravines and basins, ribs and ridges, towers and pinnacles. Above them is a joyful open land, apparently disposed in two successive dorsa or steps, with bright green tiers and terraces between, and these are pitted with the crater-like sinks locally called "holes," so frequent in the Gaboon country. Southwards the beauty of eternal verdure will end, and the land will become drier, and therefore better fitted for Europeans, the nearer it approaches Mossamedes Bay. South of "Little Fish," again, a barren tract of white sand will show the "Last Tree," an inhospitable region, waterless, and bulwarked by a raging sea.

Loango is a "pool harbour," like the ancient Portus Lemanus (Hythe), a spit of shingle, whose bay, north-east and south-west, forms an inner lagoon, bounded landwards by conspicuous and weather-tarnished red cliffs. This "lingula" rests upon a base of terra firma whose westernmost projection is Indian Point. From the latter runs northwards the "infamous" Indian Bar, compared by old sailors with a lengthened Bill of Portland; a reef some three miles long, which the waves assault with prodigious fury; a terror to slavers, especially in our autumn, when the squalls and storms begin. The light sandy soil of the mainland rests upon compact clay, and malaria rises only where the little drains, which should feed the lagoon, evaporate in swamps. Here and there are clumps of tall cocoas, a capot, pullom or wild cotton-tree, and a neat village upon prairie land, where stone is rare as on the Pampas. Southwards the dry tract falls into low and wooded ground.

The natural basin, entered by the north-east, is upwards of a mile in length, and the narrow, ever-shifting mouth is garnished with rocks, the sea breaking right across. Gunboats have floated over during the rains, but at dead low water in the dry season we would not risk the gig. Guided by a hut upon the beach fronting French Factory and under lee of the breakers off Indian Bar, I landed near a tree-motte, in a covelet smoothed by a succession of sandpits. The land sharks flocked down to drag the boat over the breakwater of shingle. They appeared small and effeminate after the burly negroes of the Bights, and their black but not comely persons were clad in red and white raiment. It is a tribe of bumboat men, speaking a few words of English, French, and Portuguese, and dealing in mats and pumpkins, parrots, and poultry, cages, and Fetish dolls called "idols."

Half a mile of good sandy path led to the English Factory, built upon a hill giving a charming view. To the south-east, and some three miles inland from the centre of the bay, we were shown "Looboo Wood," a thick motte conspicuously crowning a ridge, and forming a first-rate landmark. Its shades once sheltered the nyáre, locally called buffalo, the gorilla, and perhaps the more monstrous "impungu" (mpongo). Eastward of the Factory appears Chomfuku, the village of Jim Potter, with a tree-clad sink, compared by old voyagers with "the large chalkpit on Portsdown Hill," and still much affected by picnickers. At Loanghili, or Loanguilli, south of Looboo Wood, and upon the right bank of a streamlet which trickles to the sea, is the cemetery, where the kings are buried in gun-boxes.

The Ma-Loango (for mwani, "lord" of Loango), the great despot who ruled as far as the Congo River, who used to eat in one house, drink in another, and put to death man or beast that saw him feeding, is a thing of the past. Yet five miles to the eastward (here held to be a day's march) King Monoyambi governs "big Loango town," whose modern native name, I was told, is Mangamwár. He shows his power chiefly by forbidding strangers to enter the interior.

The Factory (Messrs. Hatton and Cookson) was a poor affair of bamboos and mats, with partition-walls of the same material, and made pestilent by swamps to landward. Little work was then doing in palm oil, and the copper mines of the interior had ceased to send supplies. We borrowed hammocks to cross the swamps, and we


Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo Volume 2 - 1/43

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