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Volume 2989

Part II
Preface and Illustrations (Nos. 41-80)


The singular region of Equatorial Africa, which it was my fortune to be the first to explore, and of whose people and strange animal and vegetable productions I have given some account in the following pages, is remarkable chiefly for its fauna, which is, in many respects, not only extraordinary, but peculiar. In this comparatively narrow belt is found that monstrous and ferocious ape, the gorilla. Here, too, and here only, is the home of the very remarkable nest-building ape, the Troglodytes calvus, the nshiego mbouve of the natives; of the hitherto unknown koo-loo-kamba, another ape no less remarkable than the T. calvus and of the chimpanzee. North, south, and east of this region, the lion lords it in the forests and the desert: only in this tract he is not found. Here, too, I discovered no less than twenty new species of quadrupeds, and upward of sixty new species of birds, many as strange as others were beautiful.

Thus it will be seen that this region formed a peculiarly rich field for an ardent naturalist. Game is not found in such plenty as on the vast plains of Southern Africa; there is less butchering; but, if the larder is not so well supplied, the half-starved explorer experiences many happy days, when the discovery of a hitherto unknown animal rewards him for all his toils, dangers, and sufferings.

Not only has the fauna of this region, for its limits, a very unusual number of species peculiar to itself, but even some of those animals which it has in common with the regions to the north and south seemed to me varieties. Thus I am almost certain that the elephant of this region is a variety distinct in several particulars from his South African brother.

Doubtless the peculiar formation of the country causes this exceptional condition. Instead of the vast thinly-wooded and arid or sparsely-watered plains of Northern, Eastern, and Southern Africa, the explorer finds here a region very mountainous, and so densely wooded that the whole country may be described as an impenetrable jungle, through which man pushes on only by hewing his way with the axe. These forests, which have been resting probably for ages in their gloomy solitude, seem unfavorable even to the rapid increase of the beasts who are its only denizens. There are no real herds of game; nor have the people of this region yet attained that primitive step in the upward march of civilization, the possession of beasts of burden. Neither horses nor cattle are known here: man is the only beast of burden.

The river system of this region seems to me extremely well adapted for the prosecution of commercial enterprise. Until I explored them, the rivers known to Europeans and Americans as the Nazareth, Mexias, and Femand Vaz, were supposed to be three distinct streams; but the reader will perceive, by reference to my map, that they are connected with each other. The Mexias and Nazareth are only outlets of the Ogobay River, which also throws a portion of its waters into the Femand Vaz, chiefly through the Npoulounay. Thus these three rivers are, in fact, mouths of the Ogobay; and they form, with the intervening lowlands (which are evidently alluvial deposits), an extensive and very complicated network of creeks, swamps, and dense forests, which I propose to call the delta of the Ogobay. This delta is bounded on the north by the Nazareth, which enters the sea in lat. 0° 41' S. and long. 9° 8' E., and on the south by the Femand
Vaz, which falls into the sea in lat l° 17' S., and long. 5° 58' E. The mouth of the Mexias lies between, in lat 0° 56' S., and long. 8° 47' E.

I have not given in the narrative any account of my exploration of this labyrinth, because it was extremely barren of incidents interesting to the reader. It was a most tedious undertaking, and resulted only in the knowledge that this large tract is entirely uninhabited; that in the rainy season, when the rivers and their divergent creeks are swollen, the whole country is overflowed ; and that the land is covered with immense forests of palm, there being found none of the customary mangrove swamps. Land and water are tenanted only by wild beasts, venomous reptiles, and intolerable swarms of musquitoes.

The entrance of the Femand Vaz, which is one of the keys to this region, is rendered intricate by shifting sand-bars and a very crooked channel, which, however, carries from fifteen to twenty feet of water at all times. It, as well as the Mexias, throws a tremendous quantity of fresh water into the ocean during the rainy season. So vast is this supply, and so rapid the current, that, though the mouths of these streams are but half a mile wide, the body of fresh water launched from each, during the rains, forces its separate way through the ocean for at least four or five miles before it becomes absorbed; and I have seen days when the tide had no effect at all upon the vast column of water pushing seaward.

Above Monwe for about thirty miles, the Femand Vaz, which here takes the name of Bemboj flows through a country so flat that in the rainy season its banks are overflowed for many miles, and in parts scarce a foot of dry land is in sight. Farther up, the country becomes hilly, and the upper parts of the Rembo and Ovenga rivers flow between steep banks, and through a decidedly mountainous region. But even here the magnificent mountains are divided by plains or broad valleys, which are overflowed during the season of rains. On the return of the dry season, these overflows leave great quantities of decayed or decaying matter, which, though enriching the ground, also cause fevers. But the interior fevers are not so frequent nor so dangerous as those caused by the mixed salt and fresh water vegetation of the seashore; and when this region becomes settled, the mountains will afford a convenient sanitarium for white men.

Leaving the Fernand Vaz, which, though partly fed by the Ogobay, is an independent stream, fed by its source in the Ashankola Mountains, we come to the Ogobay, probably the largest river of equatorial Africa. The Ogobay is formed by the junction of two considerable streams of the interior - the Rembo Ngouya and the Rembo Okanda. The first I partly explored; of the Rembo Okanda I know only by report of the natives, who state that it is much larger than the Ngouyai, and that its navigation is in some places partly obstructed by vast rocky boulders, which scattered about the hill-sides and the higher plains of the interior, form a very remarkable and peculiar feature of the landscape. The banks of the Ogobay, so far as I have explored them are in many parts subject to annual overflow.

The Rembo Ngouyai is a large stream, flowing through a mountainous and spledidly wooded coutnry, which is the most magnificent I saw in Africa. It has numerous smaller feeders. Its navigation is unfortuneately interrupted by the great Eugenie or Samba Nagoshi fall; but it is quite possible for steamers to reach this all from the sea; and theupper portion, above the fall, is navigable for the largest class of river steamers during the greater part of the year and flows through a region the tropical magnificence of which is quite unrivaled, and which abounds in many precious woods, while it is also well calculated for a rich agricultural country. I could not help longing heartily for the day to come when this glorious stream will be alive with the spalsh of paddle-wheels, and its banks lined with trading and missionary posts. Ebony, bar-wood, and India-rubber, palm-oil, beeswax, and ivory are the natural products of this region, so far as my limited opportunities allowed me to ascertain. But any tropical crop will grow in this virgin soil; and it needs only the cunning hand and brain of the white man to make this whole tract become a great producing country.

My little knowledge of geology, and the impossiblity of carrying heavy specimens, prevented me from making useful observations on the geological structure of this region; and I can only say that micaceous schist, talcose shale, and quartz are found abundantly in the mountains, together with conglomerates and various sandstones, while a red sandstone seems most to abound in the Ashira country. Iron is plentiful; the ore, which is rich, is found cropping out of the ground in many parts. Copper I did not meet with, though it is brought by the Loando negroes from teh southern interior to the sea-shore, where it is purchased by Europeans.

The mountain range which I explored on my last journey, and which is laid down on the map as far as my extreme poin, or terminus, seems to me, beyond doubt, to be part of a great chin extending nearly across the continent without ever leaving the line of the equator more than two degrees. Not only were the appearances such, as far as I was able to penetrate, but all accounts of the natives and of their slaves tend to make this certain.  Some of the slaves of the Apingi are brought from a distance to the eastward which they counted as twenty days' journey; and they invvariably protested that the mountains in sight from their present home continue in an uninterrupted chain far beyond their own country -- in fact, as far as they knew.

Judgin, therefore, from my own examination, and from the most careful inquiries among people of the far interior, I think there is good reason to believe that an important mountain range divides the continent of Africa nearly along the line of the equator, starting on the west from the range which runs along the coast north and south, and ending in the east, probably, in the southern mountains of Abyssinia, or perhaps terminating abruptly to the north of Captain Burton's Lake Tanganyika.

In the northern slope of this great range originate probably many of the streams rising in the southern slope, it is probable that some join their waters to the Rembo Okanda, the Rembo Ngouyai, and the Congo and others flow south into the Zambesi, and into the great lake or chain of lakes in the eastern part of Africa.

To this mountain range, so far as I have followed it and ascertained its existence, I propose that the native name, Nkoomoonabouali, be given, from the splendid peak which I discovered, and which forms the western point of the range. I think it probable that the impenetrable forests of this mountain range and its savage inhabitants together put a stop to the victorious southward course of the Mohammedan conquest. South of the equator, at any rate, these have never penetrated.

Of the eight years which I have passed in Africa, the present volume contains the record of only the last four, 1856, '7, '8, and '9, which alone were devoted to a systematic exploration of the interior. As a traveler, I had the very great advantages of tolerably thorough acclimation, and a knowledge of the languages and habits of the sea-shore tribes, which proved of infinite service to me among the tribes of the interior, with whom I was in every case able to hold converse, if not by word of mouth, then by a native interpreter with whose language I was familiar.

A brief summary of the results of my four years' travel will perhaps interest the reader. I traveled always on foot, and unaccompanied by other white men about 8000 miles. I shot, stuffed, and brought home over 2000 birds, of which more than 60 are new species, and I killed upward of 1000 quadrupeds, of which 200 were stuffed and brought home, with more than 80 skeletons. Not less than 20 of these quadrupeds are species hitherto unknown to science. I suffered fifty attacks of the African fever, taking, to cure myself, over fourteen omices of quinine. Of famine, long-continued exposures to the heavy tropical rains, and attacks of ferocious ants and venomous flies, it is not worth while to speak.

My two most severe and trying tasks were the transportation of my numerous specimens to the sea-shore, and the keeping of a daily journal, both of which involved more painful care than I like even to think of.

The volume now respectfully presented to the public has been written out from my faithfully-kept journals. I have striven only to give a very plain account of a region which is yet virgin ground to the missionary and the trader those twin pioneers of civilization and which affords a fertile field for the operations of both.

Before closing, it is my duty as well as pleasure to acknowledge gratefully very many kindnesses received from the offiicers and members of the Boston Society of Natural History, whose cheerfully-given aid greatly lightened for me the tedious task of cataloguing my large collection of specimens of Natural History.

Also I owe especial thanks to my friend, Dr. J. Wyman, the eminent Professor of Comparative Anatomy in Harvard University, for much valuable assistance; to Dr. S. Kneeland, the able recording secretary of the Boston Society of Natural History; to the Geographical and Ethnological Societies of New York; to my publishers, Messrs. Harper & Brothers, who have borne with kindly patience the many delays and troubles caused by my inexperience in the labors of authorship; and, lastly, to the many friends whose kind memories were proof against my long absence in Afirica, and whose welcome on my return lent
additional force to my gratitude to that God who watched over and preserved me in my wanderings.

The long and tedious labor of preparing this book for the press leaves me wnh the conviction that it is much easier to hunt gorillas than to write about them to explore new countries than to describe them. In the year which has passed since my return to the United States I have often wished myself back in my African wilds. I can only hope that the reader will not, when he closes the book, think this labor wasted; and with this hope I bid him a friendly farewell.

41. The Mboco, or Ivory-eater 328 
42. Harp of the Bakalai 339 
43. Hunter killed by a Gorilla 343 
44. The Bongo Antelope 353 
46. The Bashikonay Ant 869 
46. Whip for the Women  382 
47. Head of Gorilla 402 
48. Nshiego Bilbouye and young  406 
49. Head of Kooloo-kamba 408 
50. Ear of Kooloo-kamba 409 
51. Skeletons of Man and the Gorlla 418 
52. Front View of young Gorilla Skull 419 
53. Front View of Gorilla's Skull, male and female 420 
54. Skull of Red-rump Gorilla 421 
55. Skull of young T. Calvus (front and side views) 421 
56. Negro Skull 422 
57. Caucasian Skull 422 
58. Skull of female Gorilla (side view) 422 
59. Skull of male Gorilla (side view) 422 
60. Skull of T. Kooloo-kamba 425 
61. Human Skull 425 
62. Decapitation Scene at Goumbi 446 
63. The Kendo 458 
64. Ashira Tobacco 461 
66. Ashira Thread and Needle 462 
66. Ashira Weapons 463 
67. Ashira Belles 464 
68. Liamba Leaf  467 
69. White-fronted wild Hog 471 
70. Ashira Housekeeper 476 
71. An Apingi Village 479 
72. Bridge over the Ovigui 482 
73. Death of the Gorilla 486 
74. Apingi Man and Woman  494 
75. The Kendo Squirrel 604 
76. The Anomalurus Beldeni 506 
77. Apingi Tools 516 
78. Ibeka, Bakalai musical Instrument 518 
79. Rattle, to drive the Devil out 521 
80. Du Chaillu's Map of Equatorial Africa (not shown)

Many of the images below may be clicked for full-screen size

41. The Mboco, or Ivory-eater

42. Harp of the Bakalai

43. Hunter killed by a Gorilla

44. The Bongo Antelope

46. The Bashikonay Ant

46. Whip for the Women

48. Nshiego Bilbouye and young

47. Head of Gorilla

49. Head of Kooloo-kamba

50. Ear of Kooloo-kamba

51. Skeletons of Man and the Gorlla

52. Front View of young Gorilla Skull

53. Front View of Gorilla's Skull, male and female

54. Skull of Red-rump Gorilla

55. Skull of young T. Calvus (front and side views) 

56. Negro Skull | 57. Caucasian Skull

58. Skull of female Gorilla (side view)

59. Skull of male Gorilla (side view)

60. Skull of T. Kooloo-kamba | 61. Human Skull

63. The Kendo

62. Decapitation Scene at Goumbi

64. Ashira Tobacco

66. Ashira Thread and Needle

66. Ashira Weapons

67. Ashira Belles

68. Liamba Leaf 

69. White-fronted wild Hog

70. Ashira Housekeeper

71. An Apingi Village

72. Bridge over the Ovigui

73. Death of the Gorilla

74. Apingi Man and Woman

75. The Kendo Squirrel 

76. The Anomalurus Beldeni

77. Apingi Tools

78. Ibeka, Bakalai musical Instrument 

79. Rattle, to drive the Devil out


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