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TOWARD the close of the year 1846, the Rev. J. Leighton Wilson, now the respected Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, but then a missionary in the Gaboon Region of Western Africa, came into possession, accidentally, of the skull and afterward of the greater part of a skeleton of an ape which he was convinced was not known to naturalists. He forwarded these remains to the Boston Society of Natural History, in whose proceedings they were afterward described by Dr. Savage and Professor Jeffries Wyman.
This was the first notice the scientific world had of the existence, in a part of Africa known to the civilized world for twenty centuries, of an animal the most monstrous and cruel, as it has been since demonstrated to be in its frame the most man-like, of all the beasts of the forest.
Mr. Wilson's discovery, whose importance he modestly underrated, devoting to it only a few lines in his interesting account of Western Africa, t caused naturalists to search old books of travel for any description of such an animal; and a few such traces are indeed found, but all evidently negro exaggerations with the glosses of imaginative writers; no civilized man having up to that period ever seen a live gorilla; only Mr. Wilson was known to have had the good fortune to see its carcass. In 1855 Professor Owen, of London, received from the Gaboon, from an old shipmaster, a cask of rum, in which
• Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa: With Accounts of the Manners and Customs of the People, and of the Chase of the Gorilla, the Crocodile, Leopard, Klephant, Hippopotamus, and other animals. By Pact. B. Du CEAiLi.u, corresponding member of the American Ethnological Society, of the Geographical and Statistical Society of New York, and of the Boston Society of Natural History. 1 vol. 8vo, with numerous illustrations. Harper and Brothers.
t Western Africa, its History, Condition, and Prospects, by Rev. J, Lkigbtoh Wilson. Harper and Brothers.
was contained the spoiled body of a huge gorilla. Only the skeleton proved of use for descriptive purposes, and on this Professor Owen founded a most interesting paper, in which he took pains to collect all the meagre accounts so far gathered from the natives, of the appearance and habits of the animal.
With this memoir the subject rested, to all intents, until in the fall of 1859 the naturalists of this country were at last gratified by the return, with a magnificent collection of stuffed gorillas of all ages, of Mr. Paul B. Du Chaillu, an enterprising American citizen, who had spent four years in a thorough exploration of the region in which alone the gorilla is found, and in hunting that animal, and gaining, with the enthusiasm of an ardent naturalist, the fullest knowledge of the habits and nature of the mysterious beast. We propose to follow Mr. Du Chaillu through a portion of his romantic and adventurous travels, as he has recounted them in the magnificent work he has just published; but must pause at the threshold to give the reader some idea of the region which may with justice be called "Gorilla Land." Turn to a map of Africa, on which are marked the most recent explorations, and you will find a belt, narrow, compared with the length of the continent, but containing a vast area of land, lying between lat. 3° North, and lat. 3° South, and which is left blank from the western coast to Captain Burton's Lake Tanganyika on the east. Barth did not reach it from the north; Livingstone stopped short of it from the south; Burton's adventurous march to the long-sought land of the moon was but a step in the long journey across the continent from the east; and the merchants who had for many years more or less drained this mysterious region of ivory, beeswax, ebony, gold dust, and latterly of India-rubber, were content to live carefully on the coast, not caring to risk
NDIAYAI, EING OF TUE CANNIBALS.
an almost certain death by rash ventures into an interior thought to be doubly protected by ferocious negro tribes and fatal fevers. Of these merchants the father of Mr. Du Chaillu was one. The son was familiar with the coast from early boyhood, quitted it to attend school, but returned, and on his father's death entered into Vol. XXni.—No. 133.—B
the limited commerce himself. Asa merehant he became familiar with the languages of many of the tribes whe came down to trade. Having studied Natural History in France, he profited by his leisure to make collections of the numerous undescribed species of birds found on this little known coast; and at last, desirous alike of extending his trade, and of investigating the habits of the gorilla, about which he had long been curious, he determined to devote a year to an exploration of the mysterious interior.
His year lasted four years! And in this time, as he modestly sums it up in his preface, he traveled—always on foot, and unaccompanied by other white men— about 8000 miles; shot, stuffed, and brought home over 2000 birds, of which more than 60 are new species, and killed upward of 1000 quadrupeds, of which 200 were stuffed and brought home, with more than 80skeletons. "Not less than 20 of these quadrupeds are species hitherto unknown to science!" He suffered fifty attacks of the African fever, taking, to cure himself, over fourteen ounces of quinine. Of famine, long-continued exposures to the heavy tropical rains, and attacks of ferocious ants and venomous flies, he thinks it not worth while to speak.
These are achievements of which surely any man not yet thirty may be proud, and which place him high in the list of those adventurous spirits — Livingstone, Barth, Burton, and others, the pioneers of African civilization — to whom, some centuries hence, we may imagine the Empire of Africa gratefully erecting statues.
The tribes of West Africa, according to Mr. Du Chaillu, are pre-eminently traders, and on
their eagerness for commerce he based, in part, his hopes of safety in his solitary iuroads into the far interior. For he was entirely unattended; and when it is remembered that he did not hesitate to encumber himself on his longest journey with about two thousand dollars' worth of the goods most coveted by the savages among whom he lived for two years, it is not strange that Quengeza, the great king, called him "a man with a heart like tiger's."
"When you go out again, you will make up a party of whites?" the present writer one day suggested to him.
"What for? You know they would all die!" was the quick reply.
"But why did not you die?"
"Because I had not time."
The blacks are the most eager traders in the world; but when we know the manner of their trade, we cease to wonder that an enterprising merchant should attempt to work without agents of such double-dyed Jewry. In the first place, all trade is a monopoly. Many of the products are brought from a distance of three or four hundred miles from the interior. There are the elephants, the ebony-trees, the India-rubber vines; and there live the wretched producers. Between them and the coast live perhaps a dozen tribes, who are not producers, but commission mer
chants. Each holds fast possession of a piece of the river, which is the only highway of the impenetrable country. Each passes to his neighbor below him the tooth, or piece of ebony or barwood, which has passed to him from his neighbor above; and when, at last, the venture reaches the coast, it is already burdened with a series of debts, in the shape of commissions, which too often eat up the principal. "Infact, the first holder has trusttd each successive dispenser with his property withont any equivalent or 'collateral' security. Now, when the last black fellow disposes of this piece of ebony or ivory to the white merchant or captain, he retains, in the first place, a very liberal percentage of the returns for his valuable services, and turns the remainder over to his next neighbor above. He, in turn, takes out a commission for his trouble, and passes on what is left; and so, finally, a very small remainder—too often nothing at all— is handed over to the poor fellow who has inaugurated the speculation or sent the tusk. The poor interior tribes are kept by their neighbors in the profoundest ignorance of what is done on the coast. They are made to believe the most absurd and horrid stories as to the ferocity, the duplicity, and the cunning of the white traders. They are persuaded that the rascally middle-men are not only in constant danger of their lives by their intercourse with the whites, but that they do not make any profit on the goods which they good-naturedly pass on to a market, so that I have known one of these scoundrels, after having appropriated a large share of the poor remainder of returns for a venture of ivory, actually, by a pitiful story, beg a portion of what he had handed over to his unsuspicious client. Each tribe cheats its next neighbor above, and maligus its next neighbor below. A talent for slandering is, of course, a first-rate business talent; ani) the harder stories one can tell of his neighbors below the greater profit he will make on his neighbor above."
Again, through the anxiety of white trader to secure "trade," there has sprung up along the coast an injurious system of "trust." A