Travels in the Interior of Africa — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 141 pages of information about Travels in the Interior of Africa Volume 02.

The disease, which had spread itself so rapidly and frightfully among the Africans, soon began to infect all on board.  The danger also was greatly increased by a malignant dysentery which prevailed at the time.  The first of the crew who caught it was a sailor who slept under the deck near the grated hatch which communicated with the hold.  The next day a landsman was seized with ophthalmia; and in three days more the captain and the whole ship’s company, except one sailor, who remained at the helm, were blinded by the disorder.

All means of cure which the surgeon employed, while he was able to act, proved ineffectual.  The sufferings of the crew, which were otherwise intense, were aggravated by apprehension of revolt among the negroes, and the dread of not being able to reach the West Indies, if the only sailor who had hitherto escaped the contagion, and on whom their whole hope rested, should lose his sight, like the rest.  This calamity had actually befallen the Leon, a Spanish vessel which the Rodeur met on her passage, and the whole of whose crew, having become blind, were under the necessity of altogether abandoning the direction of their ship.  These unhappy creatures, as they passed, earnestly entreated the charitable interference of the seamen of the Rodeur; but these, under their own affliction, could neither quit their vessel to go on board the Leon, nor receive the crew of the latter into the Rodeur, where, on account of the cargo of negroes, there was scarcely room for themselves.  The vessels therefore soon parted company, and the Leon was never seen nor heard of again, so far as could be traced at the publication of this narrative.  In all probability, then, it was lost.  On the fate of this vessel the poem is founded.

The Rodeur reached Guadaloupe on the 21st of June, 1819, her crew being in a most deplorable condition.  Of the negroes, thirty-seven had become perfectly blind, twelve had lost each an eye, and fourteen remained otherwise blemished by the disease.  Of the crew, twelve, including the surgeon, had entirely lost their sight; five escaped with an eye each, and four were partially injured.

Footnotes: 

{1} I should have before observed that I found the language of Bambarra a sort of corrupted Mandingo.  After a little practice, I understood and spoke it without difficulty.

{2} There is another town of this name hereafter to be mentioned.

{3} From a plant called kabba, that climbs like a vine upon the trees.

{4} Soon after baptism the children are marked in different parts of the skin, in a manner resembling what is called tattooing in the South Sea Islands.

{5} Chap. xxxi. vv. 26-28.

{6} Poisoned arrows are used chiefly in war.  The poison, which is said to be very deadly, is prepared from a shrub called koono (a species of echites), which is very common in the woods.  The leaves of this shrub, when boiled with a small quantity of water, yield a thick black juice, into which the negroes dip a cotton thread:  this thread they fasten round the iron of the arrow in such a manner that it is almost impossible to extract the arrow, when it has sunk beyond the barbs, without leaving the iron point and the poisoned thread in the wound.

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Travels in the Interior of Africa — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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