The association, when their expectations from Horneman had failed, began to look round for other adventurers, and there were still a number of active and daring spirits ready to brave the dangers of this undertaking. Mr. Nicholls, in 1804, repaired to Calabar, in the Gulf of Benin, with the view of penetrating into the interior by this route, which appeared shorter than any other, but without any presentiment that the termination of the Niger was to be found in that quarter. He was well received by the chiefs on that coast, but could not gain much information respecting that river, being informed that most of the slaves came from the west, and that the navigation of the Calabar stream, at no great distance was interrupted by an immense waterfall, beyond which the surface of the country became very elevated. Unfortunately, of all the sickly climates of Africa, this is perhaps the most pestilential, and Mr. Nicholls, before commencing his journey, fell a victim to the epidemic fever.
Another German named Roentgen, recommended also by Blumenbach, undertook to penetrate into the interior of Africa by way of Morocco. He was described as possessing an unblemished character, ardent zeal in the cause, with great strength both of mind and body. Like Horneman, he made himself master of Arabic, and proposed to pass for a Mahommedan. Having in 1809 arrived at Mogadore, he hired two guides, and set out to join the Soudan caravan. His career, however, was short indeed, for soon after his body was found at a little distance from the place whence he started. No information could ever be obtained as to the particulars of his death, but it was too probably conjectured that his guides murdered him for the sake of his property.
We are now entering upon the narrative of a series of the most extraordinary adventures which ever befel the African travellers, in the person of an illiterate and obscure seaman, of the name of Robert Adams, who was wrecked on the western coast of Africa, in the American ship Charles, bound to the isle of Mayo, and who may be said to have been the first traveller who ever reached the far-famed city of Timbuctoo.
The place where the Charles was wrecked was called Elgazie, and the captain and the whole of the crew were immediately taken prisoners by the Moors. On their landing, the Moors stripped the whole of them naked, and concealed their clothes under ground; being thus exposed to a scorching sun, their skins became dreadfully blistered, and at night they were obliged to dig holes in the sand to sleep in, for the sake of coolness.
About a week after landing, the captain of the ship was put to death by the Moors, for which the extraordinary reason was given, that he was extremely dirty, and would not go down to the sea to wash himself, when the Moors made signs for him to do so.