Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816
J. B. Henry Savigny and Alexander Correard
Part 4 out of 4
on this part of the coast. In the winter fevers which prevail at Goree,
Cape Verd, &c. two methods of cure were employed which had different
effects. These fevers were often attended with cholic, spasms in the
stomach, and diarrhea. The first method consisted in vomitting, purging,
and then administering the bark, to which musk was sometimes added, when
the disorder grew worse. In this case, when the disease did not end in
death, the fever was often succeeded by dysentery, or those who believed
themselves cured, were subject to relapses. The second method, which Doctor
Bergeron employed with more success, was opposite to the former; he vomited
the patients but little, or not at all, endeavouring to calm the symptoms,
to strengthen the patient by bitters, and at the last, he administered the
The Negroes who, like all other people, have a materia medica, and
pharmacopeia of their own, and who at this season, are subject to the same
disorders as the Europeans, have recourse at the very beginning, to a more
heroic remedy, and such of our soldiers encamped at Daccard, as made use of
it, in general found benefit from it. The Priest or Marabous, who often
offered them the assistance of his art, made them take a large glass of
rum-punch, very warm, with a slight infusion of cayenne pepper. An
extraordinary perspiration generally terminated this fit. The patient then
avoided, for some days, walking in the sun, and eat a small quantity of
roasted fish and cous-cous, mixed with a sufficient quantity of cassia
leaves of different species, to operate as a gentle purgative. In order to
keep up the perspiration, or according to the Negro Doctor, to strengthen
the skin, he applied from time to time, warm lotions of the leaves of the
palma christi, and of cassia, (_casse puante_.) The use of rum, which is
condemned by the Mahometan religion, and is a production foreign to this
country, gives reason to suppose that the remedy is of modern date, among
[A13] It is to be observed that the author, in these two passages, uses the
word _Kina_ or Peruvian bark--T.
[A14] XXIII.--_On the Isle of St. Louis_.
St. Louis is a bank of scorching sand, without drinkable water or verdure,
with a few tolerable houses towards the South, and a great number of low
smoky straw huts, which, occupy almost all the North part. The houses are
of brick, made of a salt clay, (_argile salee_) which the wind reduces to
powder, unless they are carefully covered with a layer of chalk or lime,
which it is difficult to procure, and the dazzling whiteness of which
injures the eyes.
Towards the middle of this town, if it may be so called, is a large
manufactory in ruins, which is honored with the name of a fort, and of
which the English have sacrificed a part, in order to make apartments for
the governor, and to make the ground floor more airy, to quarter troops in
Opposite is a battery of heavy cannon, the parapet of which covers the
square, on which are some trees, planted in strait lines for ornament.
These trees are oleaginous Benjamins (_Bens Oleferes_) which give no shade,
and ought to be replaced by tamarinds, or sycamores, which are common in
this neighbourhood, and would thrive well on this spot. None but people
uncertain of their privilege to trade on this river, merchants who came
merely to make a short stay, and indolent speculators would have contented
themselves with this bank of burning sand, and not have been tempted by the
cool shades and more fertile lands, which are within a hundred toises, but
which, indeed, labour alone could render productive. Every thing is
wretched in this situation.
Saint Louis is but a halting place in the middle of the river, where
merchants who were going up it to seek slaves and gum, moored their
vessels, and deposited their provisions, and the goods they had brought
with them to barter.
What is said in the narrative of the means of attacking this port, is
correct. When the enemy have appeared, the Negroes have always been those
who have defended it with the most effect. But unhappily, there, as in the
Antilles, persons are already to be found, who are inclined to hold out
their hands to the English.
At Louis there are some palm-trees, and the lantara flabelliformis. Some
little gardens have been made; but a cabbage, or a salad, are still of some
value. Want, the mother of industry, obliged some of the inhabitants,
during the war, to turn their thoughts to cultivation, and it should be the
object of the government to encourage them.
[A15] XXIV.--_On the Islands of Goree and Cape Verd_.
At the distance of 1200 toises from the Peninsula of Cape Verd, a large
black rock rises abruptly, from the surface of the sea. It is cut
perpendicularly on one side, inaccessible in two-thirds of its
circumference, and terminates, towards the south, in a low beach which it
commands, and which is edged with large stones, against which the sea
dashes violently. This beach, which is the prolongation of the base of the
rock, bends in an arch, and forms a recess, where people land as they can.
At the extremity of this beach is a battery of two or three guns; on the
beach of the landing-place, is an epaulement, with embrasures which
commands it. The town stands on this sand bank, and a little fort, built on
the ridge of the rock, commands and defends it. In its present state, Goree
could not resist a ship of the line. Its road, which is only an anchoring
place in the open sea, is safe in the most stormy weather; but it is
exposed to all winds except those that blow from the island, which then
serves to shelter it.
The Europeans who desire to carry on the slave trade, have preferred this
arid rock, placed in the middle of a raging sea, to the neighbouring
continent, where they would find water, wood, vegetables, and in short, the
necessaries of life. The same reason which has caused the preference to be
given to a narrow and barren sand bank, in the middle of the Senegal to
build St. Louis, has also decided in favor of Goree: it is, that both of
them are but dens, or prisons, intended as a temporary confinement for
wretches who, in any other situation, would find means to escape. To deal
in men, nothing is wanting but fetters and jails, but as this kind of gain
no longer exists, if it is wished to derive other productions from these
possessions, and not to lose them entirely, it will be necessary to change
the nature of our speculations, and to direct our views and our efforts to
the continent, where industry and agriculture promise riches, the
production of which humanity will applaud.
The point which seems most proper for an agricultural establishment, is
Cape Belair, a league and a half to the leward of Goree: its soil is a rich
black mould, lying on a bed of Lava, which seems to come from the Mamelles.
It is there that other large vegetables, besides the Baobabs, begin to be
more numerous, and which, farther on, towards Cape Rouge, cover, like a
forest, all the shores. The wells of Ben, which supply Goree with water,
are but a short distance from it, and the lake of Tinguage, begins in the
neighbourhood. This lake, which is formed, in a great measure, by the rain
water of the Peninsula, contains a brackish water, which it is easy to
render potable; it is inhabited by the Guesiks, or Guia-Sicks of the
Yoloffes, or Black Crocodiles of Senegal; but it would be easy to destroy
these animals. In September, this lake seems wholly covered with white
nymphaea, or water-lilly, and in winter time it is frequented by a
multitude of waterfowl, among which, are distinguished by their large size,
die great pelican, the fine crested crane, which has received the name of
the royal-bird, the gigantic heron, known in Senegambia by the venerable
name of Marabou, on account of its bald head, with a few scattered white
hairs, its lofty stature, and its dignified gait.
Considered geologically, the Island of Goree is a group of basaltic columns
still standing, but a part of which seem to have experienced the action of
the same cause of destruction and overthrow, as the columns of the same
formation of Cape Verd, because they are inclined and overthrown in the
Cape Verd is a peninsula about five leagues and a half long; the breadth is
extremely variable. At its junction, with the continent, it is about four
leagues broad; by the deep recess which the Bay of Daccard forms, it is
reduced, near that village, to 600 toises, and becomes broader afterwards.
This promontory, which forms the most western part of Africa, is placed, as
it were, at the foot of a long hill, which represents the ancient shore of
the continent. On the sea-shore, and towards the north-east, there are two
hills of unequal height, which serve as a guide to mariners; and which,
from the substances collected in their neighbourhood, evidently shew that
they are the remains of an ancient volcano. They have received the name of
Mamelles. From this place, to the western extremity of the Peninsula, the
country rises towards the north-east, and terminates in a sandy beach on
the opposite side.
Almost the whole north-side is composed of steep rocks, covered with large
masses of oxyd of iron, or with regular columns of basalt which, for the
most part, still preserve their vertical position. Their summits, which are
sometimes scorified, seem to prove that they have been exposed to a great
degree of heat. The soil which covers the plateau, formed by the summit of
the Basaltic columns, the sides of which assume towards the Mamelles, the
appearance of walls of Trapp, but already, in a great degree, changed into
tuf, is arid and covered with briars. The soil of the Mamelles, like almost
all that of the middle of the Peninsula, which appears to lie upon
argillaceous lava, in a state of decomposition, is much better. There are
even to be found, here and there, some spots that are very fertile; this is
the arable land of the inhabitants. Towards the south, all resumes more or
less, the appearance of a desert; and the sands, though less destitute of
vegetable mould, extend from thence to the sea-shore. It is by manuring the
land, with the dung of their cattle, that the Negroes raise pretty good
crops of sorgho. The population of this peninsula may be estimated at ten
thousand souls. It is entirely of the Yoloffe race, and shews much
attachment to all the ceremonies of Islamism. The Marabous or Priests,
sometimes mounted on the top of the Nests of the Termites, or on the walls
surrounding their mosque, call the people several times a-day to prayer.
The social state of this little people, is a kind of republic governed by a
senate, which is composed of the chiefs of most of the villages. They have
taken from the Coran the idea of this form of government, as is the
case with most of those, established among the nations who follow that law.
At the time of the expedition of the Medusa this senate was composed as
Moctar, supreme chief resident of Daccard.
Diacheten, chief of the village of Sinkieur.
Diogheul, chief of the village of Gorr.
This tribe was formerly subject to a Negro King in the neighbourhood; but
having revolted against him, though very inferior in numbers, it defeated
his army a few years ago. The bones of the vanquished, that still lie
scattered on the plain, attest the victory. A wall, pierced with
loop-holes, which they erected in the narrowest part of the Peninsula, and
which the enemy was unable to force, chiefly contributed to their success.
The Yolloffes are in general handsome and their facial angle has hardly any
thing of the usual deformity of the Negroes. Their common food is
cous-cous, with poultry, and above all fish; their drink is brackish water,
mixed with milk and sometimes with palm wine. The poor go on foot, the rich
on horseback, and some ride upon bulls, which are always very docile, for
the Negroes are eminently distinguished by their good treatment of all
animals. Their wealth consists in land and cattle; their dwellings are
generally of reeds, their beds are mats made of _Asouman_ (maranta juncea)
and leopards' skins; and their cloathing broad pieces of cotton. The women
take care of the children, pound the millet, and prepare the food; the men
cultivate the land, go a hunting and fishing, weave the stuff for their
clothes, and gather in the wax.
Revenge and idleness seem to be the only vices of these people; their
virtues are charity, hospitality, sobriety, and love of their children. The
young women are licentious, but the married women are generally chaste and
attached to their husbands. Their diseases among the children, are worms,
and umbilical hernia; among the old people, and particularly those who have
travelled much, blindness and opthalamia; and among the adult, affections
of the heart, obstructions, sometimes leprosy, and rarely elephantiasis.
Among the whole population of the Peninsula, there is only one person with
a hunch back, and two or three who are lame. During the day they work or
rest; but the night is reserved for dancing and conversation. As soon as
the sun has set, the tambourine is heard, the women sing; the whole
population is animated; love and the ball set every body in motion.
"_Africa dances all the night_," is an expression which has become
proverbial among the Europeans who have travelled there.
There is not an atom of calcareous stone in the whole country: almost all
the plants are twisted and thorny. The Monbins are the only species of
timber that are met with. The thorny asparagus, A. retrofractus, is found
in abundance in the woods; it tears the clothes, and the centaury of Egypt
pricks the legs. The most troublesome insects of the neighbourhood are
gnats, bugs, and ear-wigs. The monkey, called cynocephalus, plunders the
harvests, the vultures attack the sick animals, the striped hyoena and the
leopard prowl about the villages during the night; but the cattle are
extremely beautiful, and the fish make the sea on this coast boil, and foam
by their extraordinary numbers. The hare of the Cape and the gazell are
frequently met with. The porcupines, in the moulting season, cast their
quills in the fields, and dig themselves holes under the palm trees. The
guinea-fowl (Pintada), the turtle-dove, the wood-pigeon are found every
where. In winter immense flocks of plovers of various species, are seen on
the edges of the marshes, and also great numbers of wild ducks. Other
species frequent the reeds, and the surface of the water is covered with
geese of different kinds, among which is that whose head bears a fleshy
tubercle like that of the cassowary. The fishing nets are made of date
leaves; their upper edge is furnished, instead of cork, with pieces of the
light wood of the _Asclepias_.--The sails of the canoes are made of cotton.
Several shrubs, and a large number of herbaceous plants of this part of
Africa, are found also in the Antilles. But among the indigenous plants,
are the Cape Jessamine, the _Amaryllis Rubannee_, the Scarlet Hoemanthus,
the Gloriosa Superba, and some extremely beautiful species of _Nerions_. A
new species of Calabash, (Crescentia) with pinnated leaves is very common.
Travellers appear to have confounded it with the Baobab, on account of the
shape of its fruits, the thickness of its trunk, and the way in which its
branches grow. Its wood, which is very heavy and of a fallow colour, has
the grain and smell of ebony: its Yoloffe name is Bonda, the English have
cut down and exported the greatest part of it.
In short, Africa, such as we have seen it either on the banks of the
Senegal or the Peninsula of Cape Verd, is a new country, which promises to
the naturalist an ample harvest of discoveries, and to the philosophical
observer of mankind, a vast field for research and observation. May the
detestable commerce in human flesh, which the Negroes abhor, and the Moors
desire, cease to pollute these shores! It is the only means which the
Europeans have left to become acquainted with the interior of this vast
continent, and to make this great portion of the family of mankind, by
which it is inhabited participate in the benefits of civilization.
 The _Medusa_ was armed en flute, having only 14 guns on board;
it was equipped at Rochefort with the _Loire_.
 Equipped at Brent.
 Came from L'Orient.
 The town of Chassiron is on the point of Oleron, opposite a
bank of rocks called _Les Antiochats_.
 The light house of La Baleine is placed at the other end of
the Pertuis d'Antioche, on the coast of the Isle of Rhe.
 _Les Roches Bonnes _are 8 or 9 leagues from the Isle of Rhe,
their position is not exactly determined on the charts.
 Three knots make a marine league of 5556 meters.
 These are very large fish which every moment appear on the
surface of the water, where they tumble about. They pass with such
prodigious rapidity, that they will swim round a ship, when it is going at
the rate of nine or ten knots an hour.
 The life buoy, is made of cask staves hooped together, and is
about a metre (something more than a yard.) in diameter, in the middle of
which is a little mast to fix a flag to. It is thrown into the sea, as soon
as a man falls overboard, that he may place himself upon it while the
operation of lowering a boat down, or heaving the, vessel to, is
 We do not know why the government makes its vessels take this
route; when one can proceed directly to the Canaries: it is true they are
often obscured by mists, but there are no dangers in the principal canals
which they form, and they extend over so large a space that it is
impossible not to recognise them, with facility. They have also the
advantage of being placed in the course of the monsoons; though however,
west winds sometimes blow for several days together. We think that vessels
going to the East Indies might dispense with making Madeira and Porto
Santo, the more so as there are many shoals near these islands; besides the
rocks, of which we have spoken above there is another, to the N. E. of
Porto Santo, on which many vessels have been lost; by night all these reefs
are very dangerous, by day they are recognised by the breakers on them.
 This route was not recommended by the instructions, but there
was on board an old sea officer, who announced himself as a pilot in these
seas; his advice was unfortunately attended to.
 A description of the reef of Arguin may be found in the
_Little Sea Torch_.
 Besides the instructions given by the Minister, for sailing,
after having made Cape Blanco, there was a letter sent some days before our
departure from the road of the Isle of Aix, recommending the commander of
the expedition not to depend upon the Charts, upon which the reef is very
 Mr. Laperere, the officer on the watch before Mr. Maudet,
found by his reckoning, that we were very near the reef; he was not
listened to, though he did his utmost, at least to ascertain our situation
by sounding. We have mentioned the names of Messrs. Laperere and Maudet,
because if they had been attended to, the Medusa would be still in
 This was not the long boat of the frigate; it was a boat in
no very good condition, which was to be left at Senegal, for the service of
 The bottom was besides soft; being sand mixed with grey mud,
and shells, the raft, were also put over board: the two lower yards were
retained in their place, to serve as shores to the frigate, and to support
it, in case it threatened to upset.
 This plan was shewn to several persons; we ourselves saw it
in the hands of the governor, who sketched it, leaning on the great
 Two officers displayed the greatest activity, they would have
thrown into the sea every thing that could be got overboard. They were
permitted to proceed for a moment; and the next moment contrary orders were
 Why was it opposed?
 The numbers above mentioned make only three hundred and
eighty-three, so that there is an error somewhere. T.
 _Trois quarts_: it is not said of what measure; probably a
 The original is _n'ayant pas le pie marin_, not having a
 Our Lady of Laux is in the Department of the Upper Alps, not
far from Gap. A church has been built there, the patroness of which is much
celebrated, in the country, for her miracles. The lame, the gouty, the
paralytic, found there relief, which it is said, never failed.
Unfortunately, this miraculous power did not extend, it seems, to
shipwrecked persons: at least the poor sutler drew but little advantage
 One of the water casks was recovered; but the mutineers had
made a large hole in it, and the sea water got in, so that the fresh water
was quite spoiled; we, however, kept the little cask as well as one of the
wine barrels, which was empty. These two casks were afterwards of use to
 These fish are very small; the largest is not equal to a
 This plot, as we learned afterwards, was formed particularly
by a Piedmontese serjeant; who, for two days past, had endeavoured to
insinuate himself with us, in order to gain our confidence. The care of the
wine was entrusted to him: he stole it in the night, and, distributed it to
some of his friends.
 We had all put together in one bag the money we had, in order
to purchase provisions and hire camels, to carry the sick, in case we
should land on the edge of the desert. The sum was fifteen hundred francs.
Fifteen of us were saved, and each had a hundred francs. The commander of
the raft and a captain of infantry divided it.
 One of these soldiers was the same Piedmontese serjeant of
whom we have spoken above; he put his comrades forward, and kept himself
concealed in case their plot should fail.
 Persons shipwrecked, in a situation similar to ours, have
found great relief by dipping their clothes in the sea, and wearing them
thus impregnated with the water; this measure was not employed on the fatal
 Perhaps a kind of sea-nettle is here meant.
 What is called a fish, is a long piece of wood concave on one
side, serving to be applied to the side of a mast, to strengthen it when in
danger of breaking, it is fastened by strong ropes; hence, to fish a mast.
 The conduct of this young man merits some recompense. At the
end of 1816, there was a promotion of 80 midshipmen, who were to be taken
from the _eleves_ who had been the longest in the service; Mr. Rang was.
amongst the first 70, according to the years he had been in the service,
and should therefore have been named by right. In fact, it is said that he
was placed on the list of Candidates; but that his name was struck out
because some young men, (whom they call _proteges_) applied to the
ministry, and were preferred.
 This report of a mutiny, among the crew of the long-boat,
began to circulate as soon as it joined the line which the boats formed
before the raft. The following is what was told us: when the boats had
abandoned the raft, several men, in the long-boat, subaltern officers of
the troops on board, exclaimed: _"let us fire on those who fly;"_ already
their muskets were loaded; but the officer, who commanded, had influence
enough to hinder them from executing their purpose. We have also been told
that one F. a quarter-master, presented his piece at the captain of the
frigate. This is all we have been able to collect concerning this pretended
 The fruit here mentioned, is probably jujubes (ziziphum), in
their last stage of maturity. The author of this note, has found in the
deserts of Barbary, and the shades of the Acacias, some immense _jujubes_;
but, besides this fruit, the only one of a red or reddish colour which he
has remarked in this country, are those of some _caparidees_, very acid;
some _icaques_ before they are ripe; the _tampus_ or _sebestum_ of Africa,
and the wood of a _prasium_, which is very common in most of the dry
places: the calyx of which, is swelled, succulent, and of an orange colour,
good to eat, and much sought after by the natives.
 Is it really maize (zea) which has been observed about this
_Marigot_, in large plantations? This name is so often given to varieties
of the Sorgho, or dourha of the negroes, that there is probably a mistake
here. In a publication, printed since this expedition, it has been stated,
that maize was cultivated in the open fields, by the negroes of Cape Verd,
whereas they cultivate no species of grain, except two kinds of _houlques_,
to which they add, here and there, but in smaller fields, a kind of
haricot, or French bean, _dolique unguicule_, which they gather in October,
and a part of which they sell at Goree and St. Louis, either in pods or
seed. The dishes which they prepare with this _dolique_, are seasoned with
leaves of the Baobab, (Adansonia) reduced to powder, and of cassia, with
obtuse leaves, and still fresh. As for the cous-cous, the usual food of the
negroes, it is made of the meal of sorgho, boiled up with milk. To obtain
this meal, they pound the millet in a mortar, with a hard and heavy pestle
of mahogony, (_mahogon_) which grows on the banks of Senegal. The _mahogon_
or _mahogoni_ which, according to naturalists, has a great affinity to the
family of the _miliacees_, and which approaches to the genus of the
_cedrelles_, is found in India, as well as in the Gulph of Mexico, where it
is beginning to grow scarce. At St. Domingo, it is considered as a species
of _acajou_, and they give it that name. The yellow _mahogoni_, of
India, furnishes the satin wood. There is also the _mahogoni febrifuge_,
the bark of which supplies the place of the Peruvian bark. Lamarque has
observed that the _mahogon_ of Senegal has only eight stamina; the other
kinds have ten.
 Acajou is, we believe, generally used for mahogany.--T.
 The probity and justice of General Blanchot were so fully
appreciated by the inhabitants of St. Louis, that when his death deprived
the colony of its firmest support, all the merchants and officers of the
government united to raise a monument to him, in which the remains of this
brave general still repose. It was a short time after his death that the
English took possession of St Louis, and all the officers of that nation
joined in defraying the expences of the erection of the monument, on which
there is an epitaph beginning with these words: _"Here repose the remains
of the brave and upright General Blanchot,"_ &c. We think it not foreign to
the purpose, to publish a trait which will prove how far General Blanchot
carried his ideas of justice; every man, of sensibility, reads with
pleasure, the account of a good action, particularly when it belongs to an
hero of his own nation.
Some time before Senegal was given up to the English, St. Louis was
strictly blockaded, so that all communication with France was absolutely
impossible; in a short time the colony was short of all kinds of
provisions. The prudent general called an extraordinary council, to which
he invited all the chief inhabitants of the town, and the officers of
government. It was resolved not to wait till the colony was destitute of
provisions; and that, in order to hold out to the last extremity, all the
inhabitants, without distinction of colour, or of rank, should have only a
quarter of a ration of bread, and two ounces of rice or millet per day; to
execute this decree, all the provisions were removed into the government
magazines, and the general gave orders that it should be punctually
followed. Some days after these measures were taken, the governor,
according to his custom, invited the authorities to dine with him; it was
understood that every one should bring his portion of bread and of rice;
nevertheless, a whole loaf was served up on the governor's table. As soon
as he perceived it, he asked his servants who could have given orders to
the store-keeper to suspend, in respect to himself, the decree of the
general council? All the company then interfered, and said that the council
had never had any idea of putting him upon an allowance, and that he ought
to permit this exception. The General, turning to one of his aides-de-camp,
said: "go and tell the store-keeper, that I put him provisionally under
arrest, for having exceeded my orders; and you, gentlemen, know that I am
incapable of infringing on the means of subsistance of the unhappy slaves,
who would certainly want food, while I had a superfluous supply on my
table: learn that a French general knows how to bear privations, as well as
the brave soldiers under his command." During the short time of the
scarcity, which lasted four months, the General would never permit a larger
ration to be given to him, than that which came to the meanest slave; his
example prevented every body from murmuring, and the colony was saved.
While they were suffering the severest privations the harvest was
approaching, and, at length, delivered St. Louis from the scarcity. At the
same time, vessels arrived from France, and brought abundant supplies. But
soon after, the English returned to besiege St. Louis, and made themselves
master of it. Though this note has carried us rather away from our subject,
we would not pass over in silence, so honorable a trait; it is a homage
paid to the memory of the brave General Blanchot. We may add, that after
having been governor, during a long series of years, he died without
fortune. How few men do we find who resemble Blanchot?
 Every body knows the popular proverb, which very well
expresses our idea: "_That which is worth taking, is worth keeping_."
 It will hardly be believed to how many popular reports, these
100,000 francs have given rise. There are people who do not believe that
they were ever embarked on board the frigate. How do they explain this
supposition? It is by asking how the conduct of persons, who had sold the
interest of their country, and their honor, to foreign interests, would
have been different from that of certain persons? For our part, we do not
doubt but that this report is a fable. The folly, the pride, the obstinacy
which conducted us on the bank of Arguin, have no need of having another
crime added to them. Besides, if there are, sometimes, persons who sell
their honor, there are none who, at the same time, sell their lives; and
those whom people would accuse of something more than extreme incapacity,
have sufficiently proved in dangers which threatened themselves, that they
well knew how to provide for their own safety.
 Probably the cross of the legion of honor--T.
 These desertions are unhappily too frequent in naval history.
The _St. John the Baptist_ stranded in 1760 on the isle of Sables, where 87
poor people were abandoned, in spite of the promises to come and fetch
them, made by 320 of the shipwrecked persons, who almost all saved
themselves upon the island of Madagascar. Eighty negroes and negresses
perished for want of assistance, some of hunger, some in attempting to save
themselves upon rafts. Seven negresses and a child who lived there for
fifteen years, were exposed to the most terrible distresses, and were saved
in 1776 by Mr. de Trommelin, commanding the Dauphine corvette.
The Favorite, commanded by Captain Moreau, fell in with the island of Adu
in 1767; he sent a boat on shore with a crew of eight men, commanded by Mr.
Riviere, a navy officer, but Moreau abandoned them, because the currents
drove him towards the island; and he returned to the isle of France, where
he took no step to induce the government to send them assistance. The brave
Riviere and all his sailors succeeded in saving themselves on the coast of
Malabar, by means of a raft and his boat; he landed at Cranganor, near
One may conceive that at the first moment the presence of danger may
derange the senses, and that then people may desert their companions on
board a vessel; but not to go to their assistance, when the danger is
surmounted, not to hasten to fly to their relief, this is inconceivable.
 Persons whom we could name, divided the great flag, and cut
it up into table-cloths, napkins, &c. we mention with the distinction which
they deserve, Sophia, a negress belonging to the governor, and Margaret, a
 They dined almost every day with the English officers; but in
the evening they were obliged to return to the fatal hospital, where an
infinite number of victims languished: if, by chance, one of the
convalescents failed to come, their generous and benevolent hosts sent to
the hospital, anxiously enquiring the cause of his absence.
 The affair of the coal-mine of Beaujon, as a journalist has
well observed, insures lasting celebrity to the name of the brave Goffin,
whose memory the French Academy has consecrated by a poetical prize; and
the city of Liege, by a large historical picture which has been publicly
exhibited.--Doubtless the devotedness of Goffin was sublime; but, Goffin
was only the victim of a natural accident, no sentiment of honour and duty,
had plunged him voluntarily into an imminent danger, as it had many of
those on the raft, and which, several of them might have avoided. Goffin,
accusing only fate and the laws of nature, to which we are subject, in
every situation, had not to defend his soul against all the odious and
terrible impressions of all the unchained passions of the human heart:
hatred, treachery, revenge, despair, fratricide, all the furies in short,
did not hold up to him their hideous and threatening spectres; how great a
difference does the nature of their sufferings, suppose in the souls of
those who had to triumph over the latter? and yet, what a contrast in the
results! Goffin was honored and, with justice; the men shipwrecked on the
raft, once proscribed, seem to be forever forsaken. Whence is that
misfortune so perseveringly follows them? Is it that, when power has been
once unjust, has no means to efface its injustice but to persist in it, no
secret to repair its wrongs, but to aggravate them?
 Three men saved from the raft, died in a very short time;
those who crossed the desert, being too weak to go to Daccard, were in
considerable numbers in this same hospital, and perished there
 Major Peddy had fought against the French in the Antilles and
in Spain; the bravery of our soldiers, and the reception given him in
France at the time of our disasters, had inspired him with the greatest
veneration for our countrymen, who had, on more than one occasion, shewn
themselves generous towards him.
 The Governor, who it seems did not like the sight of the
unfortunate, had, however, no reason to fear that it would too much affect
his sensibility. He had elevated himself above the misfortunes of life, at
least, when they did not affect himself, to a degree of impassibility,
which would have done honor to the most austere stoic and which, doubtless,
indicates the head of a statesman, in which superior interests, and the
thought of the public good, leave no room for vulgar interests, for mean
details, for care to be bestowed on the preservation of a wretched
individual. Thus, when the death of some unhappy Frenchman was announced to
him, this news no further disturbed his important meditations than to make
him say to his secretary, "Write, that Mr. such a one is dead."
The governor is, at the bottom, doubtless, a man not destitute of
sensibility; for example, he never passed by the king's picture (if any
strangers were present) but he shed tears of emotion. But his great
application to business, the numerous occupations, the divers enterprises
which have agitated his life, have, if we may so express it, so long
distracted his thoughts that he has at length felt the necessity of
concentrating them wholly in himself.
We cannot here become the historians of the governor; we do not know
whether his modesty will ever permit him to publish the memoirs of his
life; but the public who know, or easily may know, that having been an
apothecary in Bengal, a physician in Madagascar, a dealer in small wares,
and land-surveyor in Java, a shopkeeper's clerk in the isle of France and
Holland, an engineer in the camp of Batavia, commandant at Guadaloupe,
chief of a bureau at Paris, he has succeeded after passing through all
these channels, in obtaining the orders of St. Louis, and the Legion of
Honor, the rank of colonel, and the command of a colony; the public, we
say, will reasonable conclude, that the governor is, without doubt, a
universal man, and that it is very natural that so superior a genius should
have set himself above many little weaknesses, which would have arrested
his flight, and which are proper for none but weak minds, for good people
who are made to creep on upon the common route, and to crawl on the
 The giving up of the colony did not take place till six
months after our shipwreck. It was not till the 25th of January, 1817, that
we took possession of our settlements on the coast of Africa.
 What would our good Major have said if he had known that our
Minister of the Marine, Mr. Dubouchage, had exposed himself in a far
greater degree, to the embarrassment of the species of shame, attributed to
him here, by confiding seven or eight expeditions to officers who do no
more honour to his choice and discernment, than the expedition to Senegal
Besides the Medusa, which was conducted so directly upon the bank of
Arguin, by the Viscount de Chaumareys, Knight of St. Louis, and of the
Legion of Honour, and in the intervals of his campaigns, receiver of the
_droits reunis_, at Bellac, in Upper Vienne, every body knows that the
Golo, bound from Toulon to Pondichery, nearly perished on the coast, by the
unskilfulness of the Captain, Chevalier Amblard, Knight of St. Louis, and
the Legion of Honour, who, in order not to lose sight of maritime affairs,
had become a salt merchant, near Toulon. Neither is the _debut_ of the
Viscount de Cheffontaine forgotten, who, on quitting Rochefort, whence he
was to sail to the Isle of Bourbon, put into Plymouth to repair his masts,
which he had lost after being three or four days at sea. Who does not know
that it would be in our power to mention more examples of this kind?
We spare the French reader these recollections, which are always painful;
besides, what could our weak voice add to the eloquent expressions which
resounded in the last session, in the chamber of deputies: when a member,
the friend of his country and of glory, pointed out the errors of the
Minister of the Marine, and raised his voice against those _shadows of
officers_ whom favor elevated to the most important posts. He represented,
with reason, how prejudicial it was to government, that the command of
ships and colonies should be given as caprice dictates, and to gratify the
pretentions of vain pride, while experienced officers were overlooked, or
disdainfully repulsed, condemned to figure on the lists of the half-pay, of
the _reforms_, and even before the time, which would have called them to a
necessary, or at least legal repose. How burdensome to the State, are these
_retraites_ which render useless, men whose zeal and talents ought to
insure no other than their vessel, who wished but to spend their life there
in uninterrupted service, who would have found there a tomb, the only one
worthy of a French sailor, rather than suffer any thing contrary to duty
and honour. Instead of that, we have seen titles take the reward of
knowledge, repose of experience, and protection of merit. Men proud of
thirty years of obscurity, make them figure on the lists, as passed under
imaginary colours, and this service of a novel description establishes for
them the right of seniority. These men, decorated with ribbons of all
colours, who counted very well the number of their ancestors, but of whom
it would have been useless to ask an account of their studies, being called
to superior commands, have not been able to shew anything but their orders,
and their unskilfulness. They have done more: they have had the privilege
of losing the vessels and the people of the State, without its being
possible for the laws to reach them; and after all, how could a tribunal
have condemned them? They might have replied to their judges, that they had
not passed their time in studying the regulations of the service, or the
laws of the marine, and that, if they had failed, it was without knowledge
or design. In fact, it would be difficult to suppose that they intended
their own destruction; they have but too well proved that they knew how to
provide for their own safety. And what reply could have been made to them,
if they had confined their defence to these two points? We did not appoint
ourselves; it is not we who are to blame.
 Just as we are going to send this sheet to the press, we
learn from the newspapers, that this expedition has failed; that it was not
able to proceed above fifty leagues into the interior, and that it returned
to Sierra Leone, after having lost several officers, and among them Captain
Campbell, who had taken the command after the death of Major Peddy. Thus
the good fall and the Thersites live, and are often even honoured. Captain
Campbell was one of our benefactors, may his manes be sensible to our
regret, and may his family and country permit us to mingle with their just
affliction, this weak tribute of respect, by which we endeavour as far as
lies in our power to discharge the sacred debt of gratitude!
Among the losses which this expedition has experienced, it is feared that
we must reckon that of our excellent companion, the Naturalist Kummer;
nevertheless, as no positive information of his death has yet been received
of his fate, his numerous friends, in the midst of their fears, still
cherish some hopes: May they not be disappointed.
The accounts which inform us of this event, attribute the ill success of
the expedition, to the obstacles opposed to it by the natives of the
interior, but enter into no details. We learn from geographers, that up
the Rio Grande there lives the warlike nation of the Souucsous, whom some
call the _Fonllahs_ of Guinea. The name of their capital is Teembo. They
are Mahometans, and make war on the idolatrous tribes who surround them, to
sell their prisoners. A remarkable institution, called the _Pouarh_, seems
to have a great resemblance with the ancient _secret Tribunal_ of Germany.
The _Pouarh_ is composed of members who are not admitted among the
initiated till they have undergone the most horrible probations. The
association exercises the power of life and death; every body shuns him,
whose head it has proscribed. It may be that it was by this species of
government, which seems not to want power, that the English expedition was
 This remark on the conduct of one of our companions whom we
had known, under more favourable circumstances, had cost us some pain in
the first edition: therefore, we did not expressly name the person meant.
When we now name Mr. Griffon, we conceive ourselves to be fulfilling a
duty, which his present sentiments impose on us.
A man of honor, especially, when in the state of weakness, and of mental
and bodily infirmity to which we were reduced, might be misled for a
moment; but when he repairs this involuntary error, with the generosity
which dictated the following letter, we repeat it, there is no longer any
crime in having thus erred, and it is justice, and a very pleasing duty for
us to do homage to the frankness, to the loyalty of Mr. Griffon, and to
congratulate ourselves, on having found again the heart of the companion of
our misfortunes, such as we had known him, and with all his rights to our
The following is the letter which he has just written to Mr. Savigny, and
which is a highly valuable proof of the truth of our accounts.
_Extract of a letter from Mr. Griffon to Mr. Savigny._
At present, Sir, I owe you a testimony of gratitude for your attention in
anticipating me. I know, that in your eyes I could not merit so much
generosity from you: it is noble to forget the ills that have been done us,
and to do good to those who have sought to injure us: your conduct towards
me is admirable; I confess, that, though my reclamations were just at the
first, I have suffered myself to be carried too far by the first impulse of
a weak and exalted imagination, which led me to decry my unhappy companion
in misfortune, because I fancied, that the account which he had drawn up of
our misfortunes might render us odious to all our relations and
friends. Such are the reasons which I alledged to you at Rochefort, and
you must then have perceived, that I spoke to you with frankness, since I
concealed nothing from you. I am not at present without repentance, for not
having waited for better information, before I acted against one, whose
firmness did not a little contribute to save our lives.
Bourgneuf, January 7, 1818. GRIFFON DUBELLAY.
 The same means were employed with Mr. Correard.
 I, the undersigned chief of the workmen under the command of
Mr. Correard, engineer, geographer, one of the members of the commission
appointed by his excellency the minister of the marine and the colonies, to
examine Cape Verd and its environs, certify that, in the month of November,
1816, a memorial was presented me to sign, by order of the governor of
Senegal; that, at this time, living in the hospital in the island of Goree,
to be cured of an epidemic fever, which then raged on Cape Verd; it
occasioned temporary fits of delirium; that consequently, this weakening of
my moral faculties, and even the state of mental derangement, in which I
was caused to sign this piece without reading it: it appears, that it
tended, in part, to blame the conduct of Mr. Savigny on the raft, and for
which I owe him, only commendations. It appears, also, according to what
has been told me, that I have been made to certify, that the tow-rope broke
and was not loosened; I declare, that my signature at the bottom of this
memorial, having been surreptitiously obtained, is null and void; in
testimony whereof, I have delivered the present certificate to serve
towards repelling any attack that might be made against Mr. Savigny, on the
ground of this memorial.
Done at Paris, November 1, 1817. TOUCHE LAVILETTE.
 I, the undersigned, appointed to command the raft of the
Medusa frigate, certify, that Mr. Savigny, the surgeon, who embarked in the
said raft, has given on all occasions, in the unhappy situation in which we
were placed, proofs of the greatest courage and coolness, and that on
several occasions, his prudence was of the greatest service to us, in
suggesting to us means to maintain good order, and discipline, of which we
had so much need, and which it was so difficult for us to obtain.
 I, the undersigned, certify, that Mr. Savigny, by his courage
and coolness, succeded in maintaining good order upon the raft, and that,
his prudent arrangements saved the lives of the fifteen unfortunate
persons, who were taken up by the _Argus _brig.
(Signed) NICOLAS FRANCOIS.
 I, the undersigned, certify, to all whom it may concern, that
I have refused to sign a memorial drawn up by Mr.------, which was
addressed to his excellency the minister of the marine, and tended to
disapprove the conduct of Mr. Savigny on board the raft, as well as to
refute some parts of the narrative of our shipwreck, inserted in the
_Journal des Debats_, the 13th of September, 1816, besides, the events
related in this memorial, appear to me so entirely false, and so contrary
to all that we owe to Mr. Savigny, that it was impossible for me to pat my
name to it.
 The Board of Health certifies, that Mr. Jean Baptiste Henry
Savigny, has been employed in the character of surgeon, from the 15th of
April, 1811, to the 5th of May, 1817, and that in the course of his
service, both by sea and land, he has given proofs of zeal, emulation, and
It is with regret, that the Board of Health, sees an officer retire from
the service, who is so distinguished by his talents as Mr. Savigny.
(Signed) CHASLON, TUFFET, REJOU.
 _To His Excellency the British Ambassador, at the Court of
A Frenchman who, after a shipwreck without parallel, has been fraternally
assisted by foreigners whom national interests seemed calculated to
estrange from him, is eager to give utterance to the sentiments of
gratitude with which he is filled.
This Frenchman, My Lord, is Alexander Correard, an engineer, an honorary
member of the commission appointed to examine Cape Verd and its environs,
one of the fifteen persons who escaped out of the hundred and fifty
individuals shipwrecked, with the raft of the Medusa frigate, of whom only
eleven are still living.
It is this want of my heart, which emboldens me to address Your Excellency,
the worthy representative in my country of that of my generous benefactors,
whose names will be ever memorable in the annals of humanity.
Yes, My Lord, it is a duty delightful to my heart, to declare, that the
justest title to the gratitude of all the French has been acquired by Major
Peddy, commanding the Expedition to the Interior of Africa, charged to
continue the great undertaking of Mungo Park, by the obliging generosity
which he shewed to the unfortunate men who escaped from the fatal raft, by
bestowing on them linen, clothes, money and admitting them to his table,
&c. These attentions were aided by Captain Campbell, the second in command,
who never ceased to load me also with his benefits; in short, in imitation
of them, all the English Officers, both those of the Expedition, as of the
Royal African Regiment in garrison at St. Louis, vied with each other in
relieving us, especially Captain Chemme, Lieutenant Hommera, Adjutant-Major
Grey, Ensigns Beurthonne and Adams.
May Your Excellency receive with kindness, the sincere expression of
gratitude to the English nation, of a French private citizen who has been
ruined by this dreadful disaster. Above all, may what he has experienced
give his countrymen fresh reason to esteem these brave officers, at the
same time that it is a proof of the wisdom of a government, which, among so
many enlightened persons, has so well chosen, to finish an immense
enterprise, co-operators, whose distinguished talents and social virtues,
must ensure success, which promises such great advantages to the universe.
Relying on Your Excellency's generosity, Mr. Correard begs you to be
pleased to transmit to him some information respecting his benefactors, and
particularly the honorable Major Peddy, to whom he has vowed eternal
I have the honour to be, &c.
Paris, March 5, 1817.
 The flute _La Caravane_, commanded by Mr. Le Normand de
Kergrist, perished in the dreadful hurricane, which was experienced at
Martinique and some other Islands, on the 21st and 22nd of October last.
Messrs. Fournier Lieutenant, Legrandais, and Lespert Midshipman, and
Paulin Boatswain, have received the cross of the Legion of Honor for their
conduct on this occasion.--Vide the _Moniteur_ of January 22.
 Paris, Sept. 8, 1817.
Sir.--The Memorials which you addressed on the tenth of June last, to the
King and to His Royal Highness the Duke of Angouleme, have been referred to
my apartment. I have examined the Memorials, as well as the letters which
you have written on the same subject to my predecessors. If an
opportunity should occur, in which I can serve you, I will readily embrace
Receive, Sir, the assurance of my perfect consideration.
The Minister Secretary of State of the Marine and Colonies.
 A kind of crab found on the sea-coast; it is the _Cancer
cursor_ of Linnaeus, and the same that is found on the shores of the
 The Baobab or Adansoia of botanists, is placed in the class
Monadelphia polyandria, in the family of malvaceous plants, and has but one
species. The first of these trees seen by Adanson, were twenty-seven feet
in diameter, about eighty-three feet in circumference. Ray says they have
been seen thirty feet in diameter, and Goldberry says he saw one of
thirty-four feet. According to the calculations of Adanson, a tree,
twenty-five feet in diameter, must have taken 3750 years to acquire these
dimensions, which would allow a foot growth in 150 years, or an in inch in
twelve years and a half; but an observation of Goldberry's would quite
overturn this calculation. He, in fact, measured a Baobab thirty-six years
after Adanson, and found its diameter increased by only eight lines. The
growth is not therefore uniformly progressive, and must become slower at a
certain period of the age of this tree, in a proportion which it is hardly
possible to determine. Otherwise, if we admitted that it takes thirty-six
years to increase in diameter only eight lines, it would require fifty-four
years for an inch, and 648 for a foot, which would make 16,200 years for a
tree twenty-four feet in diameter!
 These aigrettes or white herons, are found in large flocks in
this part of Africa; they follow the cattle to feed on the insects with
which they are infested.
 The blacks think that all the whites are very rich in their
 This lizard was probably a turpinambis. This animal, which is
not uncommon at Cape Verd, climbs up trees, frequents the marshy places,
and is said to inflict severe wounds if it is not laid hold of with great
precaution. The inhabitants of the _Mamelles_ assert that it devours young
crocodiles. This species seems to be the same as that which frequents the
banks of the Nile. It grows to the length of four feet and uses its tail in
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