I was directed, on my
arrival in Africa, "to pass on to the river Niger, either by way of
Bambouk, or by such other route as should be found most convenient.
That I should ascertain the course, and, if possible, the rise and
termination of that river.
That I should use my utmost exertions to
visit the principal towns or cities in its neighbourhood,
particularly Timbuctoo and Houssa; and that I should be afterwards
at liberty to return to Europe, either by the way of the Gambia, or
by such other route as, under all the then existing circumstances of
my situation and prospects, should appear to me to be most
We sailed from Portsmouth on the 22nd day of May, 1795. On the 4th
of June we saw the mountains over Mogadore, on the coast of Africa;
and on the 21st of the same month, after a pleasant voyage of thirty
days, we anchored at Jillifrey, a town on the northern bank of the
river Gambia, opposite to James's Island, where the English had
formerly a small fort.
The kingdom of Barra, in which the town of Jillifrey is situated,
produces great plenty of the necessaries of life; but the chief
trade of the inhabitants is in salt, which commodity they carry up
the river in canoes as high as Barraconda, and bring down in return
Indian corn, cotton cloths, elephants' teeth, small quantities of
gold dust, &c. The number of canoes and people constantly employed
in this trade makes the king of Barra more formidable to Europeans
than any other chieftain on the river; and this circumstance
probably encouraged him to establish those exorbitant duties which
traders of all nations are obliged to pay at entry, amounting to
nearly 20 pounds on every vessel, great and small.
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