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NORTHERN AND CENTRAL AFRICA AND THEIR INHAB
Extending over a tract of country of twenty-four degrees from north to south and twenty degrees from east to west, in the broadest part of the continent of Africa, my travels necessarily comprise subjects of great interest and diversity.
After having traversed vast deserts of the most barren soil and scenes of the most frightful desolation, I met with fertile lands irrigated by large navigable rivers, and extensive central lakes, ornamented with the finest timber, and producing various species of grain, rice, sesamum, ground-nuts, in unlimited abundance, the sugar-cane, etc., together with cotton and indigo, the most valuable commodities of trade. The whole of Central Africa, from Bagirmi to the east as far as Timbúctu to the west, abounds in these products. The natives in these regions not only weave their own cotton, but dye their home-made shirts with their own indigo.
The river, the far-famed Niger, which gives access to these regions by means of its eastern branch, the Benuwé, which I discovered, affords an uninterrupted navigable sheet of water for more than six hundred miles into the very heart of the country. Its western branch is obstructed by rapids at the distance of about three hundred and fifty miles from the coast, but even at that point it is probably not impassable in the present state of navigation; while higher up the river opens an immense high-road for nearly one thousand miles into the very heart of Western Africa, so rich in every kind of produce.
The same diversity of soil and produce which the regions traversed by me exhibit, is also observed with respect to man. Starting from Tripoli on the north, we proceed from the settlement of the Arab and the Berber--the poor remnants of the vast empires of the Middle Ages-into a country dotted with splendid ruins from the period of the Roman dominion, through the wild roving hordes of the Tawárek, to the negro and half-negro tribes, and to the very border of the South African nations. In the regions of Central Africa there exists not one and the same stock, as in South Africa; but the greatest diversity of tribes, or rather nations, prevails, with idioms entirely distinct.
The great and momentous struggle between Islamism and Paganism is here going on, causing every day the most painful and affecting results; while the miseries resulting from slavery and the slave-trade are here revealed in their most repulsive features. We find the Mohammedan learning engrafted on the ignorance and simplicity of the black races, and the gaudy magnificence and strict ceremonial of large empires side by side with the barbarous simplicity of naked and halfnaked tribes.
We here trace a historical thread which guides us through this labyrinth of tribes and overthrown kingdoms; and a lively interest is awakened by reflecting on their possible progress and restoration through the intercourse with more civilized parts of the world.
Finally, we find here commerce in every direction radiating from Kanó, the great emporium of Central Africa, and spreading the manufactures of that industrious region over the whole of Western Africa.. As I may flatter myself that, by the success which has attended my efforts, I have encouraged further undertakings in these as well as in other quarters of Africa, so it will be my greatest satisfaction if this narrative should give a fresh impulse to the endeavors to open the fertile regions of Central Africa to European commerce and civilization.- Travels and Discoveries, Vol. I.
BARTLETT, JOHN RUSSELL, an American biographer, antiquarian, and historian, born at Providence, R. I., October 23, 1805 ; died there May 28, 1886. While a young man he became cashier of a bank in his native town, and took a special interest in literary and scientific research. In 1837 he entered into business as a bookseller in New York, devoting his leisure time to the study of history and ethnology. He was one of the founders of the American Ethnological Society, and for some years Secretary of the New York Historical Society. In 1850 he was appointed commissioner for the survey of the boundary-line between the United States and Mexico. He was thus engaged for about three years, during which he made researches in ethnology, natural history, and astronomy; the results of which were officially published by order of the United States Government in 1857-58. In 1855 he was elected Secretary of the State of Rhode Island, and in 1861-62 he was acting Governor of the State. Among his numerous works are: The Progress of Ethnology (1847); Reminiscences of Albert Gallatin (1849); Explorations in Texas, New Mexico, California, etc. (1856); Bibliotheca Americana (4 vols., 1865-70); Literature of the Rebellion (1867); Primeval Man (1868), and Dictionary of Americanisms. Of this last work the first edition was pub
lished in 1848, and succeeding editions, with con. tinued enlargements, in 1859, 1860, and 1877. In the prefaces to the successive editions the author indicates the principles upon which the work was based.
UPON AMERICANISMS. I began to make a list of such words as appeared to be, or at least such as had generally been called, Americanisms, or peculiar to the United States ; and at the same time made reference to the several authors in whose writings they appeared ; not knowing whether in reality they were of native growth, or whether they had been introduced from England. When this list had expanded so as to embrace a large number of the words used in familiar conversation, both among the uneducated and rustic classes, the next object was to examine the dialects and provincialisms of those parts of England from which the early settlers of New England and our other colonies emigrated.
On comparing these familiar words with the provincial and colloquial language of the northern counties of England, a most striking resemblance appeared, not only in the words commonly regarded as peculiar to New England, but in the dialectical pronunciation of certain words, and in the general tone and accent. In fact, it may be said, without exaggeration, that nine-tenths of the colloquial peculiarities of New England are derived directly from Great Britain ; and that they are now provincial in those parts from which the early colonists emigrated, or are to be found in the writings of wellaccredited authors of the period when that emigration took place. Consequently it is obvious that we have the best authority for the use of the words referred to.
It may be insisted, therefore, that the idiom of New England is as pure English, taken as a whole, as was spoken in England at the period when these colonies were settled. In making this assertion, I do not take as a standard the nasal twang, the drawling enunciation, or those perversions of language which the ignorant and uneducated adopt. Nor would I acknowledge the abuse of many of our most useful words. For these perversions I make no other defence or apology but that they occur in all countries and in every language.
Having found the case to be as stated, I had next to decide between a vocabulary of words of purely American origin, or one in which should be embraced all those words usually called provincial or vulgar; all the words, whatever be their origin, which are used in familiar conversation, and but seldom employed in composition; all the perversions of language and abuses of words into which people in certain sections of the country have fallen ; and some of those remarkable and ludicrous forms of speech which have been adopted in the Western States. The latter plan I determined to adopt.—Preface to the First Edition, 1848.
In the preface to the second edition (1859) the author says that he began preparations for a new edition before the first had fairly left the press.
From that time [he continues] I have, during the intervening ten years, been more or less occupied in its preparation. Nearly three years of this period I spent in the interior of the country, in the service of the United States as Commissioner on the Mexican Boundary ; but even there I failed not to note the peculiarities of the familiar language of the frontier, and carefully recorded the words and phrases I met with for future use.
This experience enabled me to collect the singular words occurring in prairie and frontier life, as well as those common to Texas, New Mexico, and California. Most of these have come from the Spanish, and are now fairly engrafted on our language. The other improvements made in this edition consist in the addition of a very large number of words and phrases peculiar to the United States; so that it now contains probably twice as many as the first edition.
The third edition (1860) was a reprint of that of 1859. The fourth and last edition (1877) has been