Richard Jobson (1623) The Golden Trade, Introductory material and pp. 1-9.
The Golden Trade:
A discovery of the River Gambra, and
the Golden Trade of the Aethiopians.
A L S O,
The Commerce with a great blacke Mer-
chant, called Buckor Sano, and his report of the
houses covered with Gold, and other strange
observations for the good of our
owne countrey ;
Set downe as they were collected in travelling, part of
the yeares, 1620. and 1621.
By Richard Iobson, Gentleman.
Printed by Nicholas Okes, and are to be sold by
Nicholas Bourne, dwelling at the entrance
of the Royall Exchange, 1623.
TO THE RIGHT
WILLIAM St. IOHN Knight, Go-
vernour of the Countries of Ginney, and
Binney: Sr. Allen Apsley Knight,
Liuetenant of the Tower of London, and
Deputy Governour as a foresayd:
Sr. Thomas Button Knight, and
other the Noble Knights, and
Gentlemen, adventurers for
the sayd Countries of
Ginney, and Binney.
F it may please you to take into consideration, the cause of publishing this ensuing treatise, it may some-way satisfie for my presumption, in offering to bring to the publike presse, that which to you hath bin so chargeable in discovering, and therefore by all reason to you belongs the benefit of what is discovered, or at the least free will to dispose of your owne priviledges as to your wisedome should be most approveable; But such are the turbulent spirits of some men, that no curtesies can win faire correspondency, but as profest enemies to the ingenious search of worthy minded Gentlemen, proclaime warres against their indevors, if they tend to merchandizing, thereby intermedling (as they terme it) to discover their secret misery, although in their perticulars to begin such an interprrize, they can no wayes paralell the meanest of your true experience and well grounded desigments, but it might have bin hop'd, that there would have beene some better respect towards you, in regard of your persons, and not to deale in that nature as to every ordinary Gentleman, or other by them imployed, by whose industry after the way is opened to any profitable businesse, and that hee hat made plaine the discovery, then they doe find occasion to cavil and turne them off, and presently imploy servants of their owne, many times very unfitting, in regard they will not requite deserts, nor allow of any society in any apparant way of gaine: All which is indevored towards you, for whilst you have bin suffered to disburse your monies in the first discovering, and as it were beating and laying open the way, where and how this Golden Trade should rise, you have quietly past one, but now there can be no more evasions, but that the profit plainly appeares; what complaints have bin framed? what combination and plotting together? Wherein to avoyd suspition, the face of simplicity, the honest Country-man hath bin made the instrument to bring about the incroaching gaine they aymed at: That it may therefore appeare, how the first grounds of this hopefull businesse by you were layd, and how you have seconded one losse by another, and how needfull and necessary it is, that you should now proceede to follow what is begun, and make use of what you so deare have payd for; I have written this Discourse out of my owne carefull observation, in the time of my imployment for you, that you might (if you please) see what you have done, and what (if it please God to bleße the courses) you are like to do, which may not onely incourage you, but invite other Gentlemen of your Ranke, to associate with you, to follow and proceede upon this hopefull enterprize, wherein intending faithfully, in demonstrating the truth, to manifest the zeale and service I must ever owe you, humbling craving pardon, I remaine
Your devoted Servant,
RICHARD IOBSON .
The Invitement to this golden Trade,
shewing the cause of the first underta-
king it, and orderly proceedings
T hath beene the usuall course (for the most part,) of such as travaile Forraine parts, in the observing, and setting down such things as they see, to neglect the noting of what is held publike, in regard that after the whole Company, be they 60. 40. or but ten together, have taken perfect view, it stands conceited, the same is as well manifest to our whole Country, whereby diverse times, many things worthy of note here at home, to such as take pleasure in reading of other mens adventures, and delight in variety of other nations, are either quite left out, or slited in so poore a manner, as the Reader goes away unsatisfied: I having received this caveat from that worthy gentleman, Mr. Samuel Purchus, who is so diligent a searcher, and setter forth of all our English travailes, of whose true industry those great volumes he hath publisht to the world, shall be perpetuall witnesse, spending therein (as he rightly termeth it) his talent for his Countries service), and being likewise incouraged by him, after he had seene and read my iournall breefly relating each dayes particular, in my travailes, into this great and spacious Country: whereof by Gods grace I entend to write, laying as it were a commande upon me, not to conceale that, which by publishing may first tend, unto the advancement of Gods glory, and next undoubtedly the honor, wealth, and preferment of our owne nation: Likewise having beene still earnestly invited by all sorts of people, and especially by some worthy note, (as occasions have fallen out at any time, whereby I have beene drawne into discourse of these travailes) that I ought not, nor might not without offence leave unpublished, that which doth proffer so apparent hopes of so great a golen Trade, which at this time seemes so needfull, that by the generall complant of our great want, the earth hath shut up her rich bowels toward us in other places, the rather to envite us to seeke after that, which lies as it were under our noses, in respect of other travailes, and hath beene left as concealed businesse, untell our time of neede, that then it might be more effectually followed, and more seriously regarded: For apparent proofes whereof, first there is no Historian but will accord, that in all ancient Histories discoursing of the inward parts of Affrica, assurely alwayes called by the name of Ethiopia, it hath beene noted for the golden region, in the whole conquests of Alexander, as Quintus Curtius sets it downe,1 he onely had a great desire to visit these parts of Ethiopia, but never came there. The Romanes likewise, carefull Relaters of their great victories, doe speake little of the interior parts of Affrica, their greatest entrance being in the wars of Iugurth, and in pursuite of him, onely mention is made, of a great desire they had to search the South parts, in regard they were thereunto invited, by those rich and golden armes, they found those blacke people to come against them withall, where of so many golden shields, were carried to their famous City, in their so glorious triumphs, but in their discoveries they had no successe: Returning with the losse of most of their people, in regard as is alleaged, they met with diverse drie and sandy deserts to passe, wherein as many were lost and over-whelmed, so againe the parching heate, and continuall droughth was cause of the perishing of many others, and inforced their returne, without any satisfaction.
The selfe same causes continue still, for which we neede not search written bookes, but talke or discourse with any Marchant of this City of London, who have yearely trade and commerce in Barbary, being the nearest parts of Affrica, adioyning unto us, and many times from our Country, into their principall Harbours, runne in twelve dayes, and in the like time againe, from them to us, and inquire of them, whence the Moore of Barbary hath that rich gold, he makes his Chequens2 of, and they will tell you, there is no gold growing, within the confines of Morocco, or Fesse, at least that is knowne, or made use of, but that the great aboundance of that rich gold they have, is fetcht and brought into the Country, by the naturall inhabitants, for which they undergo great travailes, onely by land wherein they do passe great desertes of sand, with mcuch danger, as appeares by the losse they receive many yeares, of diverse both of their people, and Cammels, yet so commodious is their trade, and followed with such great diligence and government, that amongst themselves, none are admitted, but principall persons, and by especiall order, without entertaining any other nation, what respect or familiarity so ever, they have gained amongst them.
This in effect hath beene the sole ground, to attaine unto that knowledg, which I presume here to write for my Countries service, wherein duety especially requires me, to manifest the care and diligence, of those noble and worthy Gentlemen, who are the grounds, and originals of this hopefull worke, unto whom these my labours, as their owne proper rights are dedicated, whose vertues ayming at good actions, in this our blessed and peacefull time, and cessation from those sea affaires, they were wont to be busied in summond them up, to inquire and make search after the goldnest hopes, and upon good grounded conferances with such principall Merchants of Barbary as their wisdomes could make choyse of, attaine some better satisfaction, to their former knowledge of the Moore of Barbarios Marchandizing, as I lightly have toucht before, wherein their practise and true understanding in the Mathematiques assured them, the Moors unknowne travaile must be to the South-west, if other wayes our Quotidian trade, into all and every part of the Mediterrane sea, must needs have had some or other intelligence. And therefore uniting themselves together, concluded upon a lawfull and warrant-able course to undergo the search of this golden trade, by the South-parts, and to adventure uppon those promising rivers, that fall into the maine Ocean, on the South-west side, wherein it now requires, I should briefly relate, the manner of their proceeding.
In the yeare 1618. in the month of September, they set forth a ship called the Catherine, burthen 120. tun, and in her imployed on George Thompson a man about fifty yeares of age, who had lived many years a Marchant in Barbary, the carcazon of goods hee carried with him amounted unto 1856 l. 19. s. 2 d. having his instructions from the Governour and Company to enter in the River of Gambra, and with such shallops, as hee had, and were thought convenient for him, to follow his trade, and to discover up the River, leaving the shippe in a secured Harborough: All which in his part being carefully performed, in his absence, through the overmuch trust of our English hearts, and faire familiarity wee use to all nations, with whom we are in amity, the shippe was betrayde, and every man left in her, his throat cut, by a few poore deiected Portingals and Melatos, whom they gave free recourse aboord, being onely banisht people, and for the most runnagados from their Country, as when I come more particularly to write of them, will more fitly be delivered: Thompson upon intelligence, being gotten farre uppe into the River, and finding the inhabitants to use him curteously, with the Kings allowance of the Contry, seated himselfe uppon the land, and thorough kindnesse of the inhabitants, neere those parts where the shippe was lost, some of the English who came downe from Thompson, were3 safely conveighed many dayes travaile over land, untill they found meanes, to meete with shipping to transport them home, with their woefull tidings: Whereupon the noble Adventurers, with all expedition set forth a Pinnace of fifty tunnes, called the S. Iohn, and in her a new supply of goods, and directoin to Thompson, either for his repaire, with all his Company home, or as he did affect his trade, or had hope of his discovery, to make use of those goods, and abide there: He utterly refused to come away, and therefore sent away the S. Iohn, who for that they came in an unseasonable time, which then experience made them understand, and thorough some other abuses, which more conveniently else where I shall set downe, with losse of many of her men returned, and as little comfort of gaine to the Adventurers, onely hopefull letters from Thompson, inviting them to a new supply, and by the next season to send unto him a shippe and pinnace, with some especiall commodity hee made mention of, confidently affirming, they should no wayes doubt of a hopefull discovery, where the Moores of Barbary traded, and a valewable returne for their losses sustained, promising in the meane time, with such company as he had left with h im, being in all onely eight persons, in his small boate to search up the River, which hee attempted in a payre of Oares, takeing onely two of his owne Company with him, the rest people of the Country, with whom hee past up the River, and got to Tinda, a place hee aymed at; in hope to have had conference with a black Merchant, called Bukor Sano, (of whom I shall have cause to speake in the Relation of my owne travailes) fayling of him, for that hee was then in his travailes within the land, hee stayd not many houres above, how-be-it in that time, hee received such intelligence of the trade hee lookt after, that such an extasie of ioy possest him, as it is and hath beene aleadged against him, that growing more peremptory that he was wont, and seeming to governe with more contempt, by a quarrel falling out amongst them one of his Company slew him, to the utter losse of what he had attained unto, who in regard of emulation in striving to keepe others hee affected not in ignorance, committed nothing to paper, so as all his endeavours and labours were lost with him. These things I have presumed to write, that it may appeare, what rubs have beene in the infancy of this discovery, and may partly make answere to the question that may bee propounded, by any that shalbee pleased to read over my insuing discourse, why so hopeful and promising a businesse should bee neglected.
And now I returne to the worthy Adventurers who little distrusting this mishap, notwithstanding Thompson was slaine in March, whereof they could have no intelligence: In October after beeing a convenient season set forth againe a shippe and Pinnace, the shippe called the Syon, burthen 200. tunne, and the S. Iohn a Pinnace of 50 tunne: In this shippe it pleased them to imploy mee the present wrighter, and now what doeth insewe of this discourse; is written from mee either as an eye witnesse, or what I have received from the Country people, and none but such, as were of esteeme, and as my confidence assures, would deliver no false thing, as where I come to speake of the blacke people in particular, may be more aptly conceived. The 25. of October 1620. wee set sayle from Dart-mouth, the 4. of November, when the day appeared we were up with the Iland of Launcerot, and the next day by noone, past the Canary Iland, and had layd all that land the 17. of November, we came to an anckor in the River of Gambra, having had some occasion to stay by the way, to the losse of neere three dayes, so as our whole travaile from Dart-mouth thither was in 20. dayes, we anckored some foure leagues within the mouth of the River.
And to avoide any inconveniences, by intermingling one thing with another, to set downe such particulars as they presented themselves: I have thought it most acceptable to the Reader, to divide my discourse into particular heads, the more aptly to bee understood, wherein I thinke it fit to beginne with the description of the River, with the limit and bounds thereof, so farre as we have seene, likewise what opinion experience makes mee hold for the continuance thereof, and how necessary it is, to bee searcht into for advancing the Golden Trade, with a relation what we find living therein, which may serve for sustenance, and maintaine the Traveller, next the severall sorts of people, inhabiting upon the land, Blackmen alias Mandingos, or Ethiopians, Fulbies, and the vagrant Portingall, with the manner of their lives, buildings, and fortifications, the state of their Kings, and the title of other Commaunders, and their manner of life. The government of the Mary-bucke or Bissareas, 4 the discourse of their Religion, and seperations from the rest, and course of trading, and therein speaking of their Iuliettos or Merchants, with the Relation of my meeting with Buckor Sano, a great blacke Merchant, and commerce with him: Their Iuddies or Fidlers, and manner of meeting, with the discou[r]se or circumcision, and report of their divell Ho-re, what manner of trads are amongst the common people, their order for tilling the ground, and severall sorts of graine, and other plants in use amongst them, and therewith an ample Relation of the times and seasons of the yeare, when those great stormes of thunder and lightning, with aboundance of raine do fal, the unwholesomens of the ayre in those times and what naturall reasons may be alledged aswell for those contagious times, as also to avoyde the inconveniences that have formerly by most of our nations beene fallen unto: Againe what variety of wilde beasts aswell offensive, and ravenous, as also such as are for the sustenance and comfort of those as travaile, we find the Country replenished with, thereunto adioyning what land foule is likewise there, the aboundance of both, which kinds are alwayes at hand to mend the dyet of any ingenious looker out; and with a briefe conclusion from my selfe, I shut up my discourse unto which severally I now proceed, & first to the River.
1. Quint. Curt. 4.8.3, where no explanation is given.
2. Chequeen or chequin (= sequin), a gold coin, technically of Turkey or of Italy.
3. The text reads "where". For the future, such corrections, made in the interest of legibility, will be made silently; they are numerous (for instance, the printer (or possibly Jobson) is incapable of distinguishing "with" from "which".)
4. Mary-bucke, marabout, Mohamettan hermits and holy men of Berber and north Africa.
James Eason welcomes comments and corrections on this page.