View of part of Timbuctoo.
Timbuctoo, which is neither so large nor so well populated as Caillié expected, is altogether wanting in animation. There are no large caravans constantly arriving in it, as at Jenneh; nor are there so many strangers there as in the latter town; whilst the market, held at three o'clock in the morning on account of the heat, appears deserted.
Timbuctoo is inhabited by Kissour negroes, who seem of mild dispositions, and are employed in trade. There is no government, and strictly speaking no central authority; each town and village has its own chief. The mode of life is patriarchal. A great many Moorish merchants are settled in the town, and rapidly make fortunes there. They receive consignments of merchandise from Adrar, Tafilet, Ghât, Ghâdames, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.
Although John Lewis Burckhardt was not English, for he was a native of Lausanne, he must none the less be classed among the travellers of Great Britain. It was owing to his relations with Sir Joseph Banks, the naturalist who had accompanied Cook, and Hamilton, the secretary of the African Association, who gave him ready and valuable support, that Burckhardt was enabled to accomplish what he did.
Then the sentence is passed by the compound manager—ten, fifteen, or twenty strokes, according to the crime. The coolie, with a Chinese policeman on either side of him, is taken away about ten paces. Then he stops, and at the word of a policeman drops his pantaloons, and falls flat on his face and at full length on the floor. One policeman holds his feet together; another, with both hands pressed firmly on the back of his head, looks after that end of his body. Then the flagellator, with a strip of thick leather on the end of a three-foot wooden handle, lays on the punishment, severely or lightly, as instructed. Should the prisoner struggle after the first few strokes, another policeman plants a foot in the middle of his back until the full dose has been administered.
A more refined form of torture was to bind a coolie's left wrist with a piece of fine rope, which was then put through a ring in a beam about nine feet from the ground. This rope was then made taut, so that the unhappy coolie, with his left arm pulled up perpendicularly, had to stand on his tip-toes. In this position he was kept, as a rule, for two hours, during which time, if he tried to get down on his heels, he must dangle in the air, hanging from the left wrist.
In another form of flogging practised, a short bamboo was used. The coolie would strip to the waist and go down on his knees with his head on the floor. His castigator would then squat beside him, and strike him across the shoulders with lightning rapidity. The blows, though apparently light, always fell on the one spot, and raised a large red weal before cutting the flesh. During the first quarter of this year no fewer than fifty-six coolies were whipped, after 8 p.m. one evening, at the Witwatersrand Mine, the dose varying from five to fifteen strokes.
Every mine has its lock-up for malingerers, deserters, and others. At the Witwatersrand the coolies are handcuffed over a horizontal beam.
The floor is of concrete, and they may sit down, but the beam is so far from the floor that it is impossible for any but exceptionally tall men to sit while handcuffed. They must therefore squat, and for a change raise themselves in a semi-standing posture.
All the measures taken by the Government and the mine owners to prevent desertion have proved ineffective. The country around the Witwatersrand Mines has taken upon itself the aspect of the whole of the colony during the late war. Mounted constables with loaded revolvers organize drives. The whole district is patrolled, and every effort is made to bring back the deserters to the compounds. But as soon as one lot has returned another escapes. Every day you may see a mounted policeman riding down towards the law courts, followed by a string of Chinese deserters.