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Title: Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa
Author: Corry, Joseph
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

from images generously made available by the Bibliotheque nationale
de France (BnF/Gallica) at http://gallica.bnf.fr. Willy De la Court

[Illustration: A MANDINGO CHIEF, and his HEADMAN, in their COSTUME, & other

                         UPON THE
                  WINDWARD COAST OF AFRICA,
                      OF THE NATIVES;
                          WITH A
                          AND A
                   QUARTER OF THE GLOBE;
                         AND UPON
               MADE IN THE YEARS 1805 AND 1806.

                      BY JOSEPH CORRY.

                      WITH AN APPENDIX,

                  AND JAMES ASPERNE, CORNHILL.

                   THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

    MY LORD,

Hightly flattered by your Lordship's polite condescension, in permitting me
to inscribe to you the following Pages, I return your Lordship my most
unfeigned thanks.

If they meet your Lordship's approbation, and that of a discerning Public;
or if they tend in the most remote degree to excite more intelligent
efforts and more active enterprise on behalf of the unenlightened African,
or to augment the Commerce of the United Kingdom with a Country, now in
danger of falling into the hands of our Enemies, I shall feel an ample
reward for the risques and dangers to which I have been exposed in
collecting these Fragments; while the occasion gives me the opportunity of
subscribing myself,

                        With grateful acknowledgments,
                               Your Lordship's
                  Most obedient, and devoted humble Servant,

                                        JOSEPH CORRY,


With becoming deference, I shall endeavour to illustrate in the following
pages, the observations I have personally made upon the Coast of Africa,
and to give the information I have obtained from an extended circle of
Chiefs, and native Tribes, relative to its Inhabitants, their Religion,
Habits and Customs, the natural productions and commercial resources, &c.
and attempt to delineate the most eligible grounds upon which the condition
of the African may be effectually improved, and our commercial relations be
preserved with that important quarter of the globe.

Though deeply impressed with the importance of the subject, and my own
incompetency, I obtrude myself upon Public notice, governed by this
reflection, that I am stimulated by an ardent zeal for the prosperity of my
Country, and am animated by a philanthropic solicitude for the effectual
manumission of the African, from his enslaved customs, his superstitious
idolatry, and for the enlargement of his intellectual powers.

I shall guard against the sacrifice of truth to abstracted principles; and
if in the most remote degree, I excite the interference of my countrymen in
behalf of the African, extend our commerce, and enlarge the circle of
civilized and Christian Society, I shall think that I have neither
travelled, nor written in vain.

Africa is a country hitherto but little known; those in general who have
visited it, have been either inadequate to research, or have been absorbed
in the immediate attainment of gain; moreover the European Traveller in
that country has to contend with the combined influence of the native
jealousies of its inhabitants, their hereditary barbarism, obstinate
ferocity, and above all, an uncongenial climate. To surmount these
difficulties, commerce is the most certain medium to inspire its Chiefs and
Natives with confidence, and to obtain a facility of intercourse with the
Interior country. Sanctioned by that pursuit, I have been favoured with
information from a large circle of Native Chiefs, and Tribes, relative to
their customs, their habits, localities, predilections, and the existing
state of society.

The impressions, which ocular demonstration, and personal investigation
occasion upon visiting this uncultivated country, are so different from
those excited in any other district of the globe, and so powerful, that the
mind is naturally led to meditation on the means of its improvement and on
the mode by which it may be ameliorated, and the sources of commerce be
essentially enlarged.

Europe, which merits the highest rank for philanthropy, has hitherto
strangely neglected this country; nor have the attempts of individuals and
benevolent Societies been productive in endeavouring to diffuse the
influence of civilization, and to desseminate the seeds of science
throughout these extensive regions.

Trusting that my endeavours to befriend the Natives of Africa, and to
extend the Commerce of my Country, will shield me from the severity of
animadversion, and of criticism, I shall proceed in my relation.

                                        J. CORRY.
_September 1st, 1807_.



Remarks from the Period of Embarkation at St. Helen's, till the Arrival at
Sierra Leone--Sketches of the Land seen in the Passage--its Bearings and
Distance--Observations upon the Bay and Entrance of Sierra Leone River, &c.


The Author leaves Bance Island.--Visits the Colony of Sierra
Leone.--Delivers his introductory Letter to the late Governor Day, from
whom he experiences a most hospitable Reception.--Cursory Remarks upon that
Colony, and upon the Islands of Banana.--His Embarkation for the Island of
Goree, &c.


An Excursion to the main Land.--Visit to King Marraboo.--Anecdotes of this
Chief.--Another Excursion, accompanied by Mr. Hamilton.--A shooting Party,
acccompanied by Marraboo's Son, Alexander, and other Chiefs.--Reflections
upon Information obtained from them, and at Goree, relative to this Part of
the Coast.--Embark in his Majesty's Sloop of War the Eugenia, which
convoyed Mr. Mungo Park in the Brig Crescent, to the River Gambia, on his
late Mission to the Interior of Africa.--Observations on that
Subject.--Arrive in Porto Praya Bay, in the Island of St. Jago.--Some
Remarks upon that Island.--Departure from thence to England, and safe
Arrival at Portsmouth


The Author proceeds to London.--Re-embarks for Africa.--Arrives at
Madeira.--Observations on that Island.--Prosecution of the Voyage, and
Arrival in the Sierra Leone River, &c.


Observations upon the natural Productions of the River Sierra Leone.--The
Author explores its Branches, interior to Bance Island, the Rochelle, and
the Port Logo.--The Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants.--Their
Commerce.--The Author's safe Arrival at Miffare


Return to Bance Island.--General Observations on the Commerce, Religion,
Customs, and Character of the Natives upon the Windward Coast.--An Account
of the requisite Merchandize for Trade, the best Mode of introducing
natural Commerce and Civilization into Africa, &c.


The Mode of Trial by _Ordeal_ and _Red Water_ in Africa.--The Wars of its
Inhabitants.--The State of Barbarism and Slavery considered.--The Condition
of the Africans will not be improved by a late Legislative Act, without
further Interference.--Salutary Measures must be adopted towards the
Negroes in the Colonies.--A System suggested to abolish Slavery in Africa,
and the Slave Trade in general, and to enlarge the intellectual Powers of
its Inhabitants.--The proper Positions to effect an Opening to the Interior
of Africa, and to display to the World its manifold Resources


What the Anthor conceives should be the System of Establishment to make
effectual the Operations from Cape Verd to Cape Palmas.--Reasons for
subjecting the Whole to one Superior and controlling Administration.--The
Situations, in his Estimation, where principal Depots may be established,
and auxiliary Factories may be placed, &c. &c.


The Author embarks in the Ship Minerva.--Proceeds to the Rio
Pongo.--Disquisitions thereon.--Further Observations on the Inhabitants,
obtained from Natives of various Nations met with there.--The Isles de
Loss.--Returns to Sierra Leone, &c.


The Author visits the Isles de Loss.--Remarks on those Islands.--Touches at
the River Scarcies.--Arrives at the Colony of Sierra Leone.--Embarks for
the West Indies--Lands at the Colony of Demerary.--Some Observations on the
Productions of that Colony, Berbice, and Essequibo, and on the Importance
of Dutch Guiana to the United Kingdom in a political and commercial View




No. I.

Letter to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Howick, His Majesty's late
principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the Eve of his
Lordship introducing the late Bill into Parliament for the Abolition of the
Slave Trade; shewing at one View the most simple and ready Mode of
gradually and effectually abolishing the Slave Trade, and eradicating

No. II.

Letter to the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,
referred to in the foregoing Letter to Lord Howick

No. III.

Of the Purrah

Of the _Termite_, _Termes_, or _Bug a Bug_, as it is called by the Natives
upon the Windward Coast of Africa

Of the Camelion

On the Interment of the Dead

On the Amusements, Musical Instruments, &c. of the Africans

Concluding Observations

Vocabulary of the Languages of the principal Nations of the Windward Coast
of Africa


Mandingo Chief and his Head Man, with other Natives in their Costume, to
face  the Title Page.

Sketch of the Windward Coast of Africa to face page 1


The Colony of Sierra Leone and Islands of Banana

Island of Goree

Porto Praya, Island of St. Jago

Island of Fogo, Cape Verd

Island of St. Jago, and Paps of Cape Verd

Bance Island, River Sierra Leone

In illustration of the above Plates, it may be satisfactory to the Reader
to explain that the Turban, in the Frontispiece, distinguishes the
_Mandingo Chief_; and that the Cap, which adorns the _Head Man_, is
embroidered by _themselves_ on scarlet cloth procured from Europeans in
trade, and is executed with great ingenuity.

The narrow stripe of blue cloth suspended behind from the covering which
adorns one of the figures in the back ground, distinguishes a female in the
state of virginity.

This distinguishing mark of _virgin purity_ is uniformly removed upon
entering into the matrimonial state, and is called by the Timmauees

In the Plate of Bance Island, River Sierra Leone, page 33, is a correct
representation of the _Pullam_ tree, described in page 38, as bearing a
species of silk cotton, or ether down, and is much revered by the natives,
who consider it in many instances as their _Fetish_.

*       *       *       *       *


 Page 54, line 8, for _gallunas_ read _galhinas_.
      62       2, for _is derived from the African gris-gris_, read,
                  _is the expression from which the African gris-gris is_
      64      20, for _lugras_, read _lugars_.
      92       6, for _bungra_, read _bangra_.


                             UPON THE
                      WINDWARD COAST OF AFRICA.


_Remarks from the Period of my Embarkation at St. Helens, to my arrival at
Sierra Leone--Sketches of the Land discovered in the Passage--its Bearings
and Distance--with Observations upon the Bay and Entrance of Sierra Leone
River, &c._

Previous to my arrival and landing in the river Sierra Leone, on the 6th of
April, 1805, I shall notice my passage, and display the sketches I have
taken of the land we fell in with, its bearings and distance, for the
observation of the mariner, which from position and prominence to the
Atlantic, claim his most serious attention in running down the coast of
Africa to-windward.[1]

On the 9th March, 1805, I sailed from St. Helens in the ship  Thames,
commanded by James Welsh, in company with a fleet  of ships bound to the
East Indies, under convoy of his Majesty's  ship Indostan. We had a
favourable run down Channel; but,  after making to the westward of Scilly,
a heavy gale of wind  separated the Thames from the convoy, which we never
afterwards  regained, and were therefore obliged, at all hazards, to
proceed for our destination upon the coast of Africa.

Nothing interesting occurred during a prosperous and quick passage, until
the high land of Sierra Leone appeared in view on the evening of the 5th of
April. We came to an anchor outside the Capes, and weighed the next
morning, steering our course for the river.

The space between Leopard's Island, situated to the north, and Cape Sierra
Leone to the south, forms the entrance into the river Sierra Leone; being
in latitude 8° 30" N. and in 13° 43" W. long. and is computed about seven
geographical leagues distant. The river empties itself immediately into the
ocean; and its level banks to the north are covered with impervious
forests, while those to the south exhibit the romantic scenery of an
extended chain of lofty mountains and hills, clothed and ornamented with
foliage of the most luxuriant nature, exciting the highest admiration in
those who are susceptible of the impressions which the sublime works of the
creation never fail to inspire.

Upon entering the bay, the eye is attracted by an extensive river,
circumscribed by the foregoing outline, and exhibiting upon its banks an
assemblage of the productions of nature, vegetating in their native purity.
This view is animated by the prospect of the colony of Sierra Leone, and
the masts of vessels  and craft which commerce, and a safe anchorage,
encourage to assemble before it, and by numerous natives paddling with
great dexterity in their canoes.

[Illustration: PALMA bearing S. by W. distant about 8 leagues from A
Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]

As I shall have occasion to speak hereafter of the importance of this bay
in a commercial and agricultural point of view, I shall not at present
enter into farther details; but only suggest that I consider it as a
position from whence active enterprize may perform its operations
throughout an extensive district, and derive the most important advantages.

At two. P.M. came to an anchor before the fort and settlement of Bance
Island, which we saluted with seven guns. The river is navigable up to this
island for ships, and small craft proceed a number of miles higher, on the
branches of the Port Logo and Rochell. It is obscured from the view by the
island of Tasso, until bearing round a point of that island called Tasso
Point; the eye is then attracted by a regular fortification, and even an
elegant range of buildings and store-houses, which, with great propriety,
may be considered as one of the most desirable positions upon the windward
coast of Africa, to command the interior commerce of the countries
bordering upon the river Sierra Leone and its branches, and that of the
rivers to the northward, the Scarcies and adjoining rivers, the Rio Pongo,
with the Isles De Loss, Rio Grande, Rio Noonez, &c. and those which fall
into the sea from Cape Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas.

Tasso is an island adjoining, about a mile and a half distant, of some
extent, and a remarkably fertile soil. It is attached to Bance Island;
bearing cotton of a very good staple, and is capable of producing any
tropical production. Considerable labour and expense have been applied to
introduce cultivation into this island, and to exemplify to the African the
advantages derivable from his native soil, by the civil arts of life; while
under a still more scientific superintendency, it would become a possession
of very considerable consequence in an agricultural view.

Bance Island is little more than a barren rock, of about three-quarters of
a mile in extent. The entrance into the fort is through a folding door or
gate, over which, throughout the night, a watch is constantly placed. The
expectations excited by its external appearance were by no means lessened
by a view of the interior of the fort, in which were assembled several
traders, and chiefs, with their attendants. I was much the object of their
curiosity and attention; and in their manner, all came up to me, to  _give
me service _, as expressed in the idiom of their language. This ceremony is
simply performed by touching the fingers, accompanied in the Timminy
language by the usual obeisance of  _Currea _, or, how do you do? The reply
to this is _Ba_, which means good, I return you service.

The Grumittas, or free black people, are assembled outside the fort, in
houses or huts built with mud, upon the general construction in Africa,
which usually is an oblong square, raised little more than eight feet; or a
circle of the same height, over which is thrown a roof of bamboo, or other
thatch, supported by posts about five or six feet asunder, forming a
canopy, which shelters them from the rays of the sun, or the inclemency of
the weather, and affords a shade under which they retire in the extreme
heat of the day, where they repose in their hammocks, or rest upon their
mats. This group of buildings or huts is denominated Adam's Town, from the
black chief who presides over these labouring people. Their numbers may be
estimated at about 600. Originally they were slaves to the proprietors of
this island; but from a very humane and wise policy, they have been endowed
with certain privileges, which rescue them from an absolute state of
slavery, and prevents their being sold as slaves, unless they are convicted
by the laws and customs of their country of some crime or delinquency.

Among these people are artizans in various branches, viz. smiths,
carpenters, joiners, masons, &c. under the superintendance of Europeans in
their different trades, who for ingenuity and adroitness in their
respective capacities, would deserve the approbation even of the
connoisseur in these arts; while in many other instances they discover a
genius of the most intelligent character, and a decency in their dress and
manners distinguished from that among the surrounding tribes; which is the
never failing consequence of the influence of the arts of civilized society
over barbarous customs and habits.

[Footnote 1: Perhaps it will be considered by the reader a singular
phenomenon, that the upper region of _Palma_ was covered with snow.]


_The Author leaves Bance Island--Visits the Colony of Sierra
Leone--Delivers his introductory Letter to the late Governor Day, from whom
he experiences a most hospitable Reception--Cursory Remarks upon that
Colony and upon the Islands of Bannana--His  Embarkation for the Island of
Goree, &c._

From the 6th to the 8td April, I remained at Bance Island, and having
determined to embark for Europe, where circumstances required me by the
first conveyance, I visited the colony of Sierra Leone, then under the
government of the late Capt. William Day, of the Royal Navy, to whom I had
a recommendatory letter. His reception of me was in conformity with his
general character, distinguished for urbanity and polite hospitality; and
such were the impressions upon my mind, both from observation and report,
of the skill and penetration he possessed to fulfil the arduous duties of
his station, that they never will be effaced, and I shall ever retain the
highest respect for his memory. He was then occupied in forming plans of
defence in the colony; and had he lived, I am firmly persuaded, from
subsequent observation and enquiry, that it would in a short period have
opposed to an enemy a formidable resistance, and that it might have been
speedily rescued from that anarchy and confusion which distracted councils,
and want of unanimity had occasioned.

The colony of Sierra Leone was established by the 31st of George III.
avowedly in opposition to the Slave Trade, and for the purpose of
augmenting more natural commerce, and introducing civilization among the
natives of Africa. The grant is from the 1st of July, 1791, and to continue
for the space of 31 years. During the late war with France, in September
1794, it was nearly destroyed by a French squadron, consisting of one
two-decker, several armed ships and brigs, in the whole about seven or
eight sail; they appeared in the offing on the evening of the 27th, and in
the morning of the 28th at day-light commenced their operations; the result
of which was, that the colony was ravaged by the enemy, and many houses
burnt and destroyed. This squadron was piloted into the river by two
Americans, one of whom was a Captain Neville. The pecuniary loss to the
colony by this attack has been estimated at about 40,000_l_. independant of
buildings destroyed, valued at first cost, about 15,000_l_. more. Bance
Island experienced the same fate, and suffered in pecuniary loss upwards of

In addition to this calamity, the Sierra Leone Company had to lament the
inefficiency of its superintendants, their want of unanimity, and various
other disasters and unforeseen difficulties which operated to augment the
charge in their establishment, and diminish its funds; and with every
deference to the benevolent undertakers, whose motives merit the highest
approbation of every enlightened mind, I would observe, they have likewise
to regret their misconception of the eligible grounds upon which so
beneficent a plan is to be productive of operative influence; but as at a
future stage of my narrative, I shall be enabled from more minute
investigation to enter at large upon this interesting subject, I shall for
the present dismiss it.

On the 28th of April I embarked on board his Majesty's sloop of war the
Lark, then upon the windward station; having looked into the river for
Governor Day's dispatches, &c.; and I cannot omit this opportunity of
expressing the obligations conferred upon me by Captain Langford, the
commander, and his officers, which invariably continued during my being on
board. At day-light we weighed, and were saluted by one of the forts with
15 guns, which were returned; nothing of moment occurred during our
passage, except being once overtaken with a tornado: this is a hurricane
which prevails upon the windward coast of Africa about this season of the
year, preceding the rainy season; and it is impossible to convey by
description an adequate idea of this explosion of the elements. It
announces its approach by a small white cloud scarcely discernible, which
with incredible velocity overspreads the atmosphere, and envelopes the
affrighted mariner in a vortex of lightning, thunder, torrents of rain, &c.
exhibiting nature in one universal uproar. It is necessary when this cloud
appears at sea, to take in all sail instantaneously, and bear away right
before the furious assailant, which soon expends its awful and tremendous
violence, and nature is again hushed into peaceful tranquillity.

To the southward of Cape Sierra Leone, and in about 8 degrees north
latitude, lie the Islands of Bannana, in a direction from east to west. To
the west of Great Bannana, lie the smaller islands, which are little more
than barren rocks. The soil of the Bannanas is very fertile, and the
climate healthy, from their proximity to the sea, and the refreshing
breezes which  it bestows upon them. They take their name from a fruit so
denominated; and are situated in the most eligible position for commerce,
upon the Windward Coast; combining, from their fertility of soil and
situation, great agricultural advantages, and peculiar salubrity of air. At
present the sovereignty of these islands is contended for by two chiefs, of
considerable intelligence and enterprise, named Caulker and Cleveland.
Caulker appears to be the legitimate sovereign; Cleveland's forefathers
having been established by Caulker's as _trade men_, on their account; and
by intermarriage with that family their claims are founded. James
Cleveland, who married king Caulker's sister, first began the war by his
Grummettas, on the Bannanas, attacking Caulker's people on the Plantains,
The result of this violence was, that Charles Caulker was killed in battle;
and his body mangled and cut into pieces, in the most savage and cruel
manner. In 1798, Stephen Caulker, the present chief, commenced war again,
to revenge his brother's death; and the barbarous contest has continued
ever since, marked with ferocious cruelty, and with various success to the
respective claimants. Soon after its renewal, James Cleveland died, and was
succeeded by his nephew, William, who has received his education in
England, and is a chief of no inconsiderable acquirements and talent.
Stephen Caulker has succeeded in obtaining from him the possession of the
Bannanas and Plantains, and at present sways authority over them; still,
however, exposed to the enterprising genius and intrigues of Cleveland.

[Illustration: THE COLONY of SIERRA LEONE A bearing S.W. by E. distant 3
MILES, and the BANANAS bearing S.W. by W distant 3 leagues. Published Aug 1
1807 by G & W Nicol]

Were it practicable to reconcile these contentions, and procure these
valuable islands, they would form most eligible auxiliaries and depots to
any establishment which Government might form upon this part of the coast,
and be of the utmost importance; or in the event of their being
unattainable, factories might be established at Kittim and Boom, both under
Caulker's influence and protection. I have had frequent intercourse with
this chief, and I found him of a very superior understanding, and acute
intellect, to the generality of his countrymen; and if his jealousies could
be allayed by the emollients of superior advantage, his intelligence and
co-operation would much facilitate any operations in this quarter.

On the 10th of April we arrived at Goree Roads, and came to an anchor
nearly opposite to that part of the island of Goree, called the Point de
Nore, and opening Cape Emanuel, which is by much the most eligible position
in the event of tornados, as a ship may always run in safety to sea,
between the island and the main land.

Goree is a small island, or barren rock, little more than three quarters of
a mile in length, and a few hundred yards in breadth. Its native
inhabitants are of colour, and a spurious progeny from the French; for whom
they still retain a great predilection. The number of what are called
principal inhabitants, does not exceed 50 males, with their families,
dependants, and slaves; which may in the aggregate amount to frequently
between three and four thousand souls. Their principal trade is in slaves,
of whom they annually export about two thousand, with a small proportion of
dead cargo, chiefly procured from Gambia.

Religion, of any description, is little practised or understood among them;
although it is evident that Christianity has been introduced into the
island, as there are traces of a catholic chapel and a monastery remaining.
Custom here, as in all the maritime countries of Africa, is the governing
principle of all their actions, added to an avaricious thirst for gain, and
the indulgence of sensual gratification. The ceremony of marriage is too
offensive for delicacy even to reflect upon, much less for me to narrate:
it does not attach to the union any sacred obligation, the bond being
broken at the moment of caprice in either party, or predilection in favour
of any other object. As a preliminary to this disgusting ceremony, a "big
dinner," in their phraseology, and a few presents to the lady, first
obtaining her and her parents' consent, is all that is requisite. When the
happy pair are united, the dependants and slaves of the parties, and their
respective connexions, who are assembled round the buildings or huts, send
forth a most savage yell of exclamation, accompanied by their barbarous
music, gesticulations, and clapping of the hands, in unison with their song
of triumph. This dance is continued with unabating vociferation during the
night, and perhaps for a week, or greater length of time, bearing, however,
due reference to the rank and consequence of the connubial pair.

The following morning the bride issues forth, with solemn pace and slow, in
grand procession, preceded by her most intimate female associate during her
virgin state, reclining upon her shoulder with both hands; who, in
consequence, is considered as the next matrimonial candidate. They are
immediately surrounded by a concourse of attendants, accompanied by music,
dancing, and other wild expressions of joy; and in a body proceed to visit
her circle of acquaintance and friends, who are always expected to
contribute some offering of congratulation. This ceremony is the concluding
one on the part of the bride; while the dancing and music are continued by
the  attendants as long as they can procure any thing either to eat or

[Illustration: ISLAND OF GOREE Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]

In a military point of view, in its present condition, the island of Goree
is far from being a place of strength; but in a commercial, it is of
considerable importance; and, therefore, ought to claim the attention of
Government, if it attaches any consequence towards a commerce with the
coast of Africa. In a military character, its batteries and guns are in an
extremely bad condition; and it is completely a position where a piccaroon
privateer could check every supply from the continent, upon which it
depends for fresh provisions and water, and might carry on hostile
operations without the range of its batteries; which, by consequence,
always exposes this garrison to contingencies and casual supply. In a
commercial consideration, I view it as a possession of the greatest moment;
from its contiguity to the French settlement of the Senegal, and to a large
portion of that valuable district, which they claim and influence; from
whence accurate information may be obtained of their operations; and a
check may issue, to maintain our ascendency to leeward; besides a rallying
point for our outward bound ships, to ascertain the enemy's force upon the
coast; the deviation from a direct course to leeward being very
unimportant: moreover, it might be an eligible depot for the trade of that
infinitely valuable river, the Gambia, which, for variety of natural
productions, is perhaps not to be excelled by any other in the world; only
requiring the hand of industry and intelligence to fertilize and unfold.

The garrison of Goree has seldom more than 150 effective men to defend it,
of the royal African regiment, commanded by Major Lloyd;[1] and this force
is very fluctuating, from sickness  and the diseases of the climate; in
general, however, it is tolerably healthy, and its physical department is
superintended by a gentleman (Doctor Heddle) of very considerable
intelligence and ability in his profession. The hospitality of Major Lloyd,
and the officers of his corps, to their countrymen, is distinguished by
liberality; and during my stay in that island, which was upwards of three
weeks, I have to acknowledge their polite attentions. I was the inmate of
Mr. Hamilton, in the commissariat department, whose peculiar friendship and
kind offices have made a most indelible impression upon my mind.

The view from the roads, some of the buildings near the shore being of
stone, and upon even an elegant and convenient construction, is calculated
to raise expectation upon approaching it, which is considerably
lessened[**Transcriber's note: "lessoned" must be a typesetting error.]
upon a nearer view; the streets being extremely narrow, and the huts of the
natives huddled together without regularity or system. The inhabitants are
governed in their local customs and capacities by a native mayor, and his
advisers; but, of course, under the control of the commandant of the
garrison; and this privilege is a mere matter of form and courtesy, which a
lenient authority permits.

[Footnote 1: Now Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd.]


_An Excursion to the Main Land.--Visit to King Marraboo.--Anecdotes of this
Chief.--Another Excursion, accompanied by Mr. Hamilton.--A shooting Party,
accompanied by Marraboo's Son, Alexander, and other Chiefs.--Reflections
upon Information obtained from them, relative to this Part of the Coast,
and at Goree.--Embark in his Majesty's Sloop of War, the Eugenie, which
convoyed Mr. Mungo Park in the Brig Crescent, to the River Gambia, on his
late Mission to the Interior of Africa.--Observations on that
Subject.--Arrive in Porto Praya Bay, in the Island of St. Jago.--Some
Remarks upon that Island.--Departure from thence to England, and safe
arrival at Portsmouth._

A few days after the arrival of the Lark at the island of Goree,
accompanied by a party of the officers of that ship, I made an excursion
upon the main land: we set out from the ship early in the morning, for
Decar, the capital of a chief or king, named Marraboo: we arrived before he
had moved abroad, and, after going through winding narrow paths or streets,
we were conducted by one of his people to his palace, a wretched hovel,
built with mud, and thatched with bamboo. In our way to this miserable
habitation of royalty, a confused sound of voices issued forth from almost
every hut we passed, which originated from their inhabitants vociferating
their morning  orisons to Allah and Mahomet; their religion being an
heterogeneous system of Mahomedanism, associated with superstitious
idolatry, incantations, and charms.

We found _Marraboo's head men_ and priests assembled before his majesty's
dwelling _to give him service_, and to offer him their morning's
salutation. At length he made his appearance, followed by several of the
officers of the palace, carrying skins of wild beasts, and mats, which upon
enquiry, I found to have composed the royal bed, spread out upon a little
hurdle, erected about a foot and a half high, interwoven with bamboo canes:
my attention was much engaged with this novel sight; and I could not
contemplate the venerable old man, surrounded by his chiefs, without
conceiving I beheld one of the patriarchs of old, in their primaeval state.
After his chiefs had paid their obeisance, I presumed, accompanied by my
friends, to approach the royal presence; when he discovered us among the
group, his countenance underwent an entire change, expressive of reserve
and surprise, exclaiming, "What did I want with Marraboo?" With great
humility I replied, "I be Englishman, come from King George's country, his
brother, to give him service." He replied with quickness, "I be very glad
to see you, what service have you brought?" I was aware of this tax upon my
civility, and replied, that "I make him good service;" which in plain
English was, that I shall make you a good present. He then conversed with
more freedom relative to his country, government, localities, and religion;
I suggested to him that "I understood he was a powerful king, and a great
warrior, had many wives and children, that he ruled over much people, and a
fine country, that I hear he get much head, that he far pass any of his
enemies, and that I be very happy to look so great a king:" or, in other
words, that I understood he was a great general, was very rich, was more
wise than all his contemporary chiefs, and that it gave me much pleasure to
pay my respects to so great a prince: but the former idiom of language is
best adapted to convey meaning to the interpreters of the chiefs of Africa,
in whatever tongue it may be spoken; being that which they use in
translation; and when they are addressed in this phraseology, they convey
their ideas with more perspicuity and literal interpretation. But to return
to the dialogue.

Marraboo.--"I be very glad to look you for that, I have much trouble all my
life--great deal of war--my son some time since killed in battle." This was
accompanied by such a melancholy expression of countenance, that could not
fail to excite my compassion, I therefore avoided touching more on the
subject of his wars; only observing, "that I hear he be too much for all
his enemies, and that he build great wall that keep his town and people

Marraboo.--"The king of Darnel's people cannot pass that--they all be
killed--they come there sometimes, but always go back again." My curiosity
was excited to obtain the history of this _enchanted wall_, which on my
approach to the town, I had discovered to be apparently little more than
three or four feet high, and situated within the verge of their wells of
fresh water, open at several places, and without any defence.

Upon enquiry, I found that Marraboo had been early in life _fetish man_, or
high priest, to Damel, king of Cayor, a very powerful chief bordering upon
the Senegal, and that he had artfully contrived to gain over to his
interest a number of adherents, who, in process of time, became formidable,
rebelled against their lawful sovereign, and took possession of that part
of the country towards Cape Verd: to strengthen their position, Marraboo
caused a wall to be erected, commencing from the sea shore, and extending
towards the Cape; which, in the estimation of the natives, and in
consequence of his sacerdotal office, incantations, and charms, was
rendered invulnerable: the hypocritical priest well knew the natural
disposition of his countrymen, and the effect his exorcisms would produce
upon their minds; which operated so effectually, that when his army was
beaten by the powerful Damel, they uniformly retired behind their exorcised
heap of stones, which in a moment stopt their enemy's career, and struck
them with such dread, that they immediately retired to their country,
leaving their impotent enemy in quiet possession of his usurped territory;
whom otherwise they might have annihilated with the greatest facility.
Superstition is a delusion very prevalent in Africa; and its powerful
influence upon the human mind is forcibly illustrated by the foregoing

When I enquired of Marraboo the nature of his belief in a supreme being,
his observations were confused and perplexed, having no perspicuous
conception of his attributes or perfections, but an indistinct combination
of incomprehensibility; and to sum up the whole, he remarked, "that he pass
all men, and was not born of woman."

A few days after the abovementioned visit, I made another excursion to the
main land, accompanied by Mr. Hamilton, and one of the principal
inhabitants of Goree, named Martin. We landed at a small native town,
called after the island, Goree Town. When we came on shore, we were
immediately surrounded by natives, who surveyed us with great curiosity and
attention. We had prepared ourselves with fowling-pieces and shooting
equipage, with the view of penetrating into the interior country: in
pursuance of our design, we dispatched a messenger to _Decar_, with a
request that we might be supplied with attendants and horses: our
solicitation was promptly complied with; and Alexander, Marraboo's son,
speedily made his appearance with two horses, attended by several chiefs
and head men. Our cavalcade made a most grotesque exhibition; Mr. Hamilton
and myself being on horseback, followed by Alexander and his attendants on
foot, in their native accoutrements and shooting apparatus. My seat was not
the most easy, neither was my horse very correct in his paces; the saddle
being scarcely long enough to admit me, with a projection behind, intended
as a security from falling backwards: the stirrups were formed of a thin
plate of iron, about three or four inches broad, and so small, that I could
scarcely squeeze my feet into them. In our progress we killed several
birds, of a species unknown in Europe, and of a most beautiful plumage; one
of which, a little larger than the partridge in England, was armed with a
sharp dart or weapon projecting from the pinion, as if designed by nature
to operate as a guard against its enemies. Our associates rendered us every
friendly attention, and evinced great anxiety to contribute to our sport;
and proved themselves skilful and expert marksmen. The country abounded
with a multiplicity of trees and plants, which would no doubt have amply
rewarded the researches of the botanist, and scientific investigator. The
fatigue I had undergone, and the oppressive heat of the sun, so completely
overpowered me, by the time of our return to Goree Town, that I felt myself
attacked by a violent fever; in this situation I was attended with every
tenderness and solicitude by the females; some bringing me a calabash of
milk, others spreading me a mat to repose upon, and all uniting in kind
offices: it is from them alone that man derives his highest happiness in
this life; and in all situations to which he is exposed, they are the
assuasive agents by whom his sorrows are soothed, his sufferings
alleviated, and his griefs subdued; while compassion is their prominent
characteristic, and sympathy a leading principle of their minds.

The attention of these kind beings, and the affectionate offices of my
friend, operating upon a naturally good constitution, soon enabled me to
overcome the disease, and to return again to Goree. During the remaining
part of my stay there, I was vigilantly employed in procuring every
information relative to this part of the coast, and through the
intelligence of several of the native inhabitants and traders, I am enabled
to submit the following remarks.

To elucidate, with perspicuity, the deep impression I feel of the
importance of this district of the Windward Coast, in obtaining a facility
of intercourse with the interior, combining such a variety of local
advantage, by which our ascendency may be preserved, and our commercial
relations improved, is an undertaking, the difficulties of which I duly
appreciate; and I am aware that I have to combat many prejudices and
grounds of opposition to the system I conceive to be practicable, to
develope the various stores of wealth with which Africa abounds, and to
improve the intellectual faculties of its native inhabitants.

That a situation so highly valuable as the Senegal, and its contiguous
auxiliary, the island of Goree, has been so overlooked, is certainly a
subject of great surprise, and deep regret. While visionary and
impracticable efforts have been resorted to penetrate into the interior of
Africa, we have strangely neglected the maritime situations, which abound
with multifarious objects of commerce, and valuable productions, inviting
our interference to extricate them from their dormant state; and the
consideration apparently has been overlooked, that the barbarism of the
natives on the frontiers must first be subdued by enlightened example,
before the path of research can be opened to the interior.

We have several recent occurrences to lament, where the most enterprising
efforts have failed, through the inherent jealousies of the natives, and
their ferocious character; and, therefore, it is expedient to commence
experiments in the maritime countries, as the most eligible points from
whence operative influence is to make its progress, civilization display
itself among the inhabitants, and a facility of intercourse be attained
with the interior. So long as this powerful barrier remains in its present
condition, it will continue unexplored; and our intercourse with its more
improved tribes must remain obscured, by the forcible opposition of the
frontier; and these immense regions, with their abundant natural resources,
continue unknown to the civilized world. The inhabitants of the sea coast
are always more fierce and savage than those more remote and insular: all
travellers and voyagers, who have visited mankind in their barbarous state,
must substantiate this fact: and the history of nations and states clearly
demonstrates, that the never-failing influence of commerce and agriculture
united, has emanated from the frontiers, and progressively spread their
blessings into the interior countries. View our own now envied greatness,
and the condition in which our forefathers lived, absorbed in idolatry and
ignorance, and it will unquestionably appear, that our exalted state of
being has arisen from the introduction of the civilized arts of life, the
commerce which our local situation has invited to our shores, and our
agricultural industry.

Within the district now in contemplation, flows the river of _Senegal_,
with its valuable _gum trade_; the _Gambia_, abounding with innumerable
objects of commerce, such as indigo, and a great variety of plants for
staining, of peculiar properties, timber, wax, ivory, &c.; _the Rio Grande,
Rio Noonez, Rio Pongo,_ &c. all greatly productive, and their borders
inhabited by the Jolliffs, the Foollahs, the Susees, the Mandingos, and
other inferior nations, and communicating, as is now generally believed,
with the river Niger, which introduces us to the interior of this great
continent; the whole presenting an animating prospect to the distinguished
enterprise of our country.

That these advantages should be neglected, is, as I have before said,
subject of deep regret, and are the objects which I would entreat my
countrymen to contemplate, as the most eligible to attain a knowledge of
this important quarter of the globe, and to introduce civilization among
its numerous inhabitants; by which means, our enemies will be excluded from
that emolument and acquirement, which we supinely overlook and abandon to

The island of Goree lies between the French settlement of the Senegal and
the river Gambia, and therefore is a very appropriate local station to aid
in forming a general system of operation from Cape Verd to Cape Palmas,
subject to one administration and control. The administrative authority, I
would recommend to be established in the river of Sierra Leone, as a
central situation, from whence evolution is to proceed with requisite
facility, and a ready intercourse be maintained throughout the whole of the
Windward Coast; and as intermediate situations, I would propose the rivers
Gambia, Rio Noonez, Rio Pongo, and Isles de Loss, to the northward; and to
the southward, the Bannana Islands, the Galinhas, Bassau, John's River, &c.
to Cape Palmas; or such of them as would be found, upon investigation, best
calculated to promote the resources of this extensive coast.

The supreme jurisdiction in the river Sierra Leone, with auxiliaries
established to influence the trade of the foregoing rivers, form the
outlines of my plan, to be supported by an adequate military force, and
organized upon principles which I have hereafter to explain in the course
of my narrative.

Having an opportunity to sail for England, in his Majesty's sloop of war
the Eugenie, commanded by Charles Webb, Esq. as it was uncertain at what
time the Lark was to proceed, I availed myself of that officer's kind
permission to embark, accompanied by surgeon Thomas Burrowes and his lady.

The Eugenie had been dispatched for England to convoy the Crescent
transport brig, with Mr. Mungo Park on board, to the river Gambia, upon his
late mission to the interior of Africa. Captain Webb did not conceive it
prudent, nor indeed was it expedient, to proceed higher up the river than
Jillifree, and dispatched the Crescent as far as Kaya, about 150 miles from
the capes of the river, where Mr. Park landed with his associates, viz. his
surgeon, botanist, draftsman, and about 40 soldiers, commanded by an
officer obtained from the royal African corps at Goree, by the order of

Nothing could have been more injudicious than attempting this ardoous
undertaking, with any force assuming a military  appearance. The natives of
Africa are extremely jealous of white men, savage and ferocious in their
manners, and in the utmost degree tenacious of any encroachment upon their
country. This unhappy mistake may deprive the world of the researches of
this intelligent and persevering traveller, who certainly merits the esteem
of his country, and who, it is to be feared, may fall a victim to a
misconceived plan, and mistaken procedure.

[Illustration: PORTO PRAYA, ISLAND OF ST JAGO Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W

Although anxious to embark, yet I could not take my departure without
sensibly feeling and expressing my sense of obligation for the many
attentions I had to acknowledge from the officers of the garrison, and also
to several of the native inhabitants, among whom were Peppin, Martin, St.
John, and others; the latter, I am sorry to say, was in a bad state of
health; I am much indebted to him for his judicious remarks, and very
intelligent observations. This native received his education in France, and
has acquired a very superior intelligence relative to the present condition
of his country.

Accompanied by Mr. Hamilton, my hospitable and friendly host, and several
of the officers of the Lark, I embarked on board the Eugenie, on the 31st
of May, and arrived in Porto Praya Bay on the 3d of June.

The town of Porto Praya is situated upon a plain, forming a height from the
sea, level with the fort, and is a most wretched place, with a very weak
and vulnerable fortification. In the roads there is good anchorage for
shipping, opposite to Quail island, and for smaller vessels nearer the
shore. It has a governmenthouse, a catholic chapel, a market place, and
jail, built with stone; and is now the residence of the government of the
island of St. Jago, subject to the crown of Portugul. Formerly the
governor's place of abode was at the town of St. Jago, upon the opposite
side of the island: his title is that of governor-general of the islands,
comprehending Mayo, Fogo, &c.

Mayo is remarkable for its salt, which is cast on shore by the rollers or
heavy seas, which at certain periods prevail, and run uncommonly high. The
heat of the sun operating upon the saline particles, produces the salt,
which the inhabitants collect in heaps for sale. We anchored at Mayo for
some hours, and a number of vessels were lying in the roads, chiefly
Americans, taking in this article; it is a very rocky and dangerous
anchorage; we, however, found the traders were willing to undergo the
risque, from the cheapness of the commodity they were in quest of.

It is a most sorry place, with scarce a vestige of vegetation upon its
surface, and its inhabitants apparently live in the greatest misery. They
are governed by a black man, subject to the administration of St. Jago.

The military force of St. Jago is by no means either formidable in numbers
or discipline, and exhibits a most complete picture of despicable

A black officer, of the name of Vincent, conducted as to the governor, who
received us with politeness, and gave us an invitation to dinner. The town
and garrison were quite in a state of activity and bustle; an officer of
high rank and long residence among them had just paid the debt of nature,
and his body was laid in state in the chapel, in all his paraphernalia. The
greater part of the monks from the monastery of St. Jago were assembled
upon the occasion, to sing requiems for his soul; and the scene was truly
solemn and impressive. We met these ministers of religion at dinner, but
how changed   from that gravity of demeanor which distinguished them in
their acts of external worship. The governor's excellent Madeira was taken
in the most genuine spirit of devotion, accompanied by fervent exclamations
upon its excellent qualities. Upon perceiving this holy fervency in the
pious fraternity, we plied them closely, and frequently joined them in
flowing bumpers, until their ardour began to sink into brutal stupidity,
and the morning's hymns were changed into revelry and bacchanalian roar.

[Illustration: POGO, bearing N. by W. distance about 4 leagues from B
Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]

[Illustration: 3 ISLAND of ST. IAGO, distance 6 Miles. 4. PAPS of CAPE
VERDE, bearing at C, _N.N.E._ and at D, _S.E._ by _S._ distance 3 leagues.
Published Aug 1 1807 by G & W Nicol]

This, however, was rather a tax upon the governor's hospitality, as it
deprived him of his _Ciesta_, a common practice with him, almost
immediately after the cloth is withdrawn. When we came ashore the next
morning, we were highly entertained with the anecdotes related to us of the
pranks performed during the night by the convivial priests, many of whom
were unable to fulfil the duties of the altar at the usual hour of prayer.

The natives of St. Jago, with those of the neighbouring islands, are mostly
black, or of a mixed colour, very encroaching in their manners, and much
addicted to knavery. The island is extremely rocky and uneven, but the
vallies are fertile. The inhabitants raise cotton, and they have several
sugar works; the quantity they raise of both, does not, however, much
exceed their own consumption, but there is no doubt that it might be
considerably augmented by industry, even for exportation; but the natives
are indolent, and extremely listless in their habits. The only inducement
in touching at this island is, to procure water and provisions: the former
is good, and the latter consists in hogs, turkeys, ducks, poultry, &c. but
frequently, after they have been visited by a fleet, a great scarcity

The commodities the natives require as payment may be purchased at Rag
Fair, being extremely partial to cast off wearing apparel of every

The men are extremely slovenly in their dress; but the women are rather
more correct and uniform, those of the better condition being habited in
muslin, and their hair ornamented, and neatly plaited.

They manufacture a narrow cloth of silk and cotton, which is in high
estimation among them, and its exportation is prohibited, except to
Portugal. Considerable ingenuity is displayed in this manufacture, which is
performed in a loom, differing very little from that used by the ruder
inhabitants of the coast of Africa, and similar to the garter loom in
England. They have horses and mules well adapted to their roads and rugged
paths, which they ride most furiously, particularly the military, who
advance at full speed to a stone wall, or the side of a house, merely to
shew their dexterity in halting.

After being detained here for several days in taking in stock and
provisions, we again weighed with the Crescent brig, and a sloop from
Gambia, bound to London, under our convoy, and after a tedious and very
anxious passage, arrived at Portsmouth on the 4th of August. We were
detained under quarantine until the return of post from London, and
proceeded on shore the following day. There is something in _natale solum_
which charms the soul after a period of absence, and operates so
powerfully, as to fill it with indescribable sensations and delight. Every
object and scene appeals so forcibly to the senses, enraptures the eye, and
so sweetly attunes the mind, as to place this feeling among even the
extacies of our nature, and; the most refined we are capable of enjoying.

It is this love of his country which stimulates man to the noblest deeds;
and, leaving all other considerations, only obedient to its call, separates
him from his most tender connections, and makes him risque his life in its

"Where'er we roam, whatever realms to see,
Our hearts untravell'd fondly turn to thee;
Still to our country turn, with ceaseless pain,
And drag, at each remove, a lengthening chain."


_The Author proceeds to London.--Re-embarks for Africa.--Arrives at
Madeira.--Observations on that Island.--Prosecution of the Voyage, and
Arrival in the Sierra Leone River, &c._

Our happy arrival was celebrated at the Crown inn, where Captain Webb and
his first Lieutenant (Younger) joined us; we dined together, and separated
with mutual kind wishes. The next morning Mr. Burrowes and myself proceeded
to London, and were once more rapidly conducted into its busy scene.

Without even time to greet my friends, I again left town for Portsmouth, to
commit myself to the watery element, and revisit the shores. I had so
recently left; and on the 22d of September sailed, in the ship Andersons,
from St. Helen's, under convoy of the Arab post sloop of war, commanded by
Keith Maxwell, Esq. and the Favorite sloop of war, by John Davie, Esq.

We anchored in Funchal Roads, island of Madeira, on Saturday the lath of
October, without experiencing any remarkable event.

When approaching the island of Madeira, it exhibits to the eye a strikingly
beautiful and picturesque view. The uneven surface of the hills, covered
with plantations of vines, and various kinds of herbage, with the exception
of partial spots burnt up by the heat of the sun in the dry season,
displays a singular perspective, which, with the beautiful appearance of
the interspersed villas, churches, and monasteries, form an arrangement
both exquisite and delightful.

After being visited by the boat of health, our party proceeded on shore in
the evening; and upon being made known to the house of Messrs. Murdoch,
Masterton, and Co. were politely invited to breakfast the ensuing morning.

At our appearance, in conformity with our appointment, we were introduced
into the breakfast parlour by Mr. Wardrope, one of the acting partners, to
his lady and sister, who received us with engaging civilities and

After our friendly meal, we perambulated the town of Funchal, and attended
chapel, which so far from being a house of devotion, presented to our
contemplation a rendezvous for intrigue and the retirement of a

Funchiale or Funchal, takes its derivation from Funcho, signifying in the
Portuguese language, Fennel; it is situated at the bottom of a bay, and may
be considered disproportionate to the island, in extent and appearance, as
it is ill built, and the streets remarkably narrow and ill paved. The
churches are decorated with ornaments, and pictures of images and saints,
most wretchedly executed: I understand, however, that a much better taste
is displayed in the convents, more especially that of the Franciscans, in
which is a small chapel, exhibiting the disgusting view of human skulls and
thigh bones lining its walls. The thigh bones form a cross, and the skulls
are placed in each of the four angles.

Nature has been very bountiful in her favours to Madeira; its soil is rich
and various, and its climate is salubrious and versatile; it abounds in
natural productions, and only requires the fostering hand of the husbandman
to produce every necessary, and almost luxury, of life. Walnuts, chesnuts,
and apples, flourish in the hills, almost spontaneously, and guanas,
mangoes, and bananas, in wild exuberance. At the country residence of James
Gordon, Esq. where we dined, and met with the most distinguished
hospitality, I saw a most surprising instance of rapid growth; a shoot of
the tree, called the Limbriera Royal, started up, perpendicularly from the
trunk, to a height of nearly _thirty feet_, from the month of January to
that of October: it is, however, to be observed, that the branches were
lopped off, and it is supposed the juices of the trunk communicated to this

Corn of a very good quality grows in this island, and might be produced in
plenty, but the inhabitants, whose characteristic is idleness, neglect its
culture, and thereby subject themselves to the necessity of relying upon
foreign imports. Their beef, mutton, and pork, are remarkably good, and
they have game in the mountains.

By order of the late governor, in 1800, the population was taken from the
confessional returns, and, as he was himself a bishop, it may be inferred
that the number stated below, which I procured from official authority, is
accurate, viz.

 Number confessed,                                     95,000
 And, calculating 1 in 10 for children under 5
 years of age, the first period of their confession,
 is equal to                                            3,500
 Making in the aggregate the number of souls to be    104,500

15,000 of whom were computed to be inhabitants of the town of Funchal.

The government consists of a governor, appointed by the crown of Portugal,
the island being in its possession, styled governor of the islands, and: is
perfectly arbitrary; Funchal is his residence; he has a council under him
consisting of 24 members, whose president is the second judge for the time
being. All officers are nominated by the crown, and the holders continue
only for three years, at the end of which new nominations take place.

The only article of trade is wine, of which they export about 12,000 pipes
annually, and consume from 6 to 8,000 pipes in the island, comprehending
_small wine_, &c. being in the whole about 20,000 pipes. It is made by
pressing out the juice from the grape in a wooden vessel, proportioned in
size to the quantity they intend to make. The wine-pressers take off their
jackets and stockings, get into the vessel, and with their elbows and feet
press as much of the juice as is practicable by this operation; the stalks
are then tied together and pressed, under a square piece of wood, by a
lever with a stone fastened to the end of it; the wine is brought from the
country in goat skins, by men and women on their heads.

The roads are so steep and roughly paved, that neither carriages nor carts
are in use, the substitute is a palanquin for the former, and for the
latter a hollow log of wood, drawn by oxen, upon which the wine vessels or
other loads are placed; they, however, have horses and mules very well
adapted to their roads.

The revenue to the crown of Portugal is estimated from 20 to 30,000_l_.
annually, clear of all expenses; but the balance of trade is greatly
against them, all their specie being drawn to Lisbon.

The currency of the island is Spanish, and consists of dollars, converted
by their laws, into milreas of 5_s_. 6_d_. pistareens, value about is.
bits, about 6_d_. and half bits, about 3_d_.

It is disadvantageous to take up money at Madeira upon bills, as they make
payment in dollars, which they value at a milrea. Sometimes they may, from
particular circumstances, give a premium, but it is seldom equal to the

On the morning of the 18th I bad my grateful adieu to Madeira, and the
friendly roof of Mr. Wardrope and his united family, the abode of conjugal
affection, friendship, and hospitable reception; and at 2 P.M. went on
board. We weighed anchor under the protection of the Favorite, the Arab
continuing at her moorings. Passing between the grand Canary and close in
with Teneriffe, we arrived safe at the island of Goree, on the 5th of
November, without our commodore, under convoy of the Favorite. The ship
Andersons having freight to deliver at that island, we continued there
until the 12th, and again resumed our voyage; arriving, without accident;
at Bance Island, which I have previously noticed, on the 22d of the same

My residence was confined to this island, and in excursions through the
neighbouring countries, until the 4th June, 1806, during which period, and
from a general intercourse with an extended circle of chiefs, natives, and
traders, I have been enabled to decide upon the situation of this country,
and to form a conclusive opinion of the condition and character of its
inhabitants, and its commercial resources.

From these sources of intelligence, and the example this island displayed,
with observations upon the conduct and management of the Sierra Leone
company, I first conceived the system that I shall hereafter delineate,
upon which the African's  condition may be effectually improved, and his
hereditary slavery exterminated.

[Illustration: BANCE ISLAND, in the RIVER SIERRA LEONE. _The Property of
John & Alexander Anderson Esq. London._]

The natives of Africa resident upon the coast, are uniformly considered as
more ferocious and barbarous in their customs and manners, less numerous in
population, and more encroaching and deceitful, than those of the interior.
While this formidable opposition exists, and the baneful influence of
barbarous habits continues, it is in vain to look to remuneration by
natural commerce, or to the establishment of civilization. The African's
barbarity must be first here assailed, and the infinite resources upon the
coasts and maritime rivers must be developed to his view, to pre-dispose
him to refine his condition, and adopt the civilized habits of life; nor is
there any site which I have met with upon the Windward Coast of Africa,
more calculated to promote this beneficent undertaking, than the island of
Bance, from its locality of situation, being central to windward and
leeward operation, commanding an extensive circle of interior country, and
being long established in the estimation of the natives of an extended
district. But more of this subject in order.


_Observations upon the natural Productions of the River Sierra Leone.--The
Author explores its Branches, interior to Bance Island, the Rochelle, and
the Port Logo.--The Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants.--Their
Commerce.--The Author's safe Arrival at Miffaré._

The river of Sierra Leone abounds in fish, and the spermaceti whale has
been occasionally found, the shark, the porpoise, eels, mackarel, mullet,
snappers, yellow tails, cavillos, tenpounders, &c. with the _mannittee_, a
singular mass of shapeless flesh, having much the taste of beef, which the
natives greatly esteem, and consider the highest offering they can make.

Oysters are found in great abundance, attached to the interwoven twigs and
branches of the mangrove tree, to which they closely cling; and of the
zoophytes, there is the common sponge to be found upon the sandy beaches,
on the Boolum shore, and would, no doubt, bring a high price in England.

The domestic animals of the adjoining countries are, cattle, sheep, goats,
hogs, ducks, turkeys, and fowls, very inferior, however, to those in
Europe. The beasts of prey are, lions, leopards, hyaenas, wild hogs in
abundance, squirrels, monkies, antelopes, &c. with the civet and zibeth
cats, and a most extraordinary animal, which is found in the mountains of
Sierra Leone and the adjacent countries, a species of the ourang outang,
called by the natives, japanzee, or chimpanzee, but approaching nearer to
the anatomy of the human frame than the former animal. Some of them, when
full grown, are nearly 5 feet, and are covered with black hair, long on the
back, but thin and short upon the belly and breast; the face is quite bare,
and the hands and feet resemble those of man; its countenance is remarkably
grave, similar to that of an old black man, but its ears are straight; it
will imitate a human being in walking, sleeping, eating, and drinking, and
is certainly a most singular production of nature. Surgeon Burrowes, whom I
have before mentioned, had a perfect skeleton of this animal, which, he
assured me, differed in nothing from the human, but in the spine, it being
curved. This skeleton, I believe, now forms a part of the collection of
Surgeon-General Keate.

There are, of amphibious animals, green turtles, hawk's bills, and
loggerheads, which grow to a great size, some of them weighing several
hundred pounds, land turtles, fresh water turtles, alligators, extremely
voracious, and from 12 to 15 feet in length; they will swallow a man, and
at Bance Island Negro boys have been frequently snatched up by them from
the shore. There are also a variety of the lizard species, with the guava,
and camelion.

Snakes abound; some of them haunt the houses in the night, and prowl about
for poultry, of which they are fond; some have been found to measure above
18 feet; and I have the skin of one in my possession, killed when young,
above 10 feet in length; it is that species which swallows its prey entire;
several animals were found in their perfect state when the one I allude to
was cut open.

There is also an immense animal of this species, which I have heard the
natives of this part of the coast describe, often exceeding 30 feet in
length, and of an enormous size; it is variegated with spots, and the head
is covered with scales; the tongue is fleshy and forked, but its bite is
not poisonous; it is to be found in the recesses of caves and thickets,
from whence it suddenly darts upon its victim, whether man or beast: it
frequently chooses a tree, from which it reconnoitres the passing objects,
supporting itself by the tail, which it twists round the trunk or branches:
when it seizes animals, especially those of the larger kind, such as lions,
tigers, &c. it dexterously, and almost instantaneously twists itself round
their bodies in several folds, and by its powerful muscular force, breaks
the bones, and bruises it in all its parts; when this is done it covers the
animal with a viscous cohesive saliva, by licking its body with its tongue,
which facilitates the power of swallowing it entire; this process is
tedious, and it gradually sucks in the body, which, if large, renders it
incapable of moving for some time, until it digests; and this is the period
which the hunters watch to destroy it: it makes a hissing noise like a
serpent, and has recourse to a variety of expedients to conceal itself; it
is called by the natives _Tinnui_, and is what I apprehend naturalists term
the species of _Boa constrictor_: it is most commonly found in the sultry
climates of Africa, and I believe is also an inhabitant of Asia and

Insects are extremely numerous, of a nondescript species, and exceedingly
beautiful: the most singular are termites, destructive to houses and fences
built of wood; ants, causing ruin to provisions; cockroaches and crickets,
destroying leather, linen, and clothes; musquitos, sand-flies, centipedes,
scorpions; and wild bees, which are very productive of honey. The vermis
and large barnacles abound, which are so destructive to shipping without
copper bottoms.

Esculent vegetables are various: Rice, which forms the chief part of the
African's sustenance. The rice-fields or _lugars_ are prepared during the
dry season, and the seed is sown in the tornado season, requiring about
four or five months growth to bring it to perfection.

Yams, a nutritious substance, known in the West Indies.

_Cassada_ or _cassava_, a root, of a pleasant taste when roasted or boiled,
and makes an excellent cake, superior in whiteness to flour.

Papaw, of a deep green in its growth, but yellqw when ripe, and is an
excellent dish when boiled; its leaves are frequently used by the natives
for soap; ropes are made of the bark.

Oranges and limes are in great abundance, and of superior quality,
throughout the year; but lemons degenerate much in their growth, and in a
few years are scarcely to be distinguished from the latter. Guavas,
pumpkins, or pumpions, squash water mellons, musk mellons, and cucumbers,
grow in the greatest perfection. The pumpkins grow in wild exuberance
throughout the year, and make a good pudding or pie.

Indian corn, or maize, may be reaped several times throughout the year,
only requiring about three months growth.

Millet, with a multiplicity too tedious to enumerate.

Sugar canes are not very abundant, but are of a good quality, which, under
careful management and industry, would, no doubt, yield productive returns.

Coffee trees, of different nondescript species, only requiring the same

Dyes, of infinite variety and superior texture: yellow is procured from the
butter and tallow tree, producing a juice resembling gamboge, but more
cohesive, and of a darker colour; the wood of this tree is firm, and
adapted to a variety of purposes; its fruit is about the size of a tennis
ball, nearly oval, thick in the rind, and of a pleasant acid taste,
containing several seeds about the size of a walnut, and yielding a viscous
substance used by the natives in their food. Red and black are procured
from a variety of other trees and plants; and indigo growing in wild
exuberance, particularly in the rivers more to the northward.

Cotton, in great varieties, requiring only cultivation to raise it to
perfection and amount. The natives manufacture from it a narrow cloth,
which is made from thread, spun in a manner similar to the distaff.

A species of silk cotton, or ether down, is produced on a large tree,
called the pullam tree. The quantity which the usual size bears may be
computed at about 4 cwt. in pods of 6 to 9 inches long, 4-1/2 in
circumference, and about 1-1/2 inch in diameter, which, upon being exposed
to the heat of the sun, is distended to an incredible bulk. It is much
superior to down for the couch, and, from its elasticity, might be of great
utility in the manufacture of hats. This tree is in great estimation among
the Africans, and is frequently regarded by them as their _Fetish_. Every
town almost has a tree of this species towering over its huts, which its
chief tells the traveller with exultation he or his father planted.

Tobacco is uncertain, but I entertain very little doubt that it might be
raised upon the more luxuriant soils.

Pepper, more particularly near Cape Mount, of several sorts, Maboobo,
Massaaba, Massa, Amquona, Tosan, &c.; the three first are of a weaker
flavour, and are oblong and angular in their seeds; but the last excels in
pungency, and is the native Malaguetta pepper of Africa.

The bread-fruit tree, is similar in appearance to the apple tree, and grows
in the low sandy situations of the Boolum shore, producing a fruit
exceedingly nutritious, and larger than an apple.

Tamarinds in great variety and plenty: the velvet tamarind abounds in the
Bananas, also the white and brown; but the latter are most in esteem, and
are very fine.

Okras, the fruit of a small tree, resembling the English mallows, which put
into soup gives it a gelatine quality, highly alimental; the leaves make a
good spinage.

The palm tree, producing the oil so denominated, is one of the most useful
trees to the African, yielding him meat, drink, and raiment. Where it
grows, it is an indication of a good soil. It is remarkably tall, without
branches, having regular and gradual protuberances, from the bottom towards
the top, ending in five or six clusters of nuts, shaded by large deciduous
leaves. The nuts, which are about the size of a hazle nut, have a hard
kernel, encompassed by a clammy unctuous substance, covered by a thin skin,
and the oil is produced from them by being exposed to the sun, which, by
its influence, opens the juices; subsequent to this exposure, the nuts are
put into a boiler full of water, and a liquid, in the process of boiling,
flows upon the top, which when skimmed off, soon hardens and turns rancid;
the kernel of the nut, after this process, is taken out of the boiler, beat
in a paloon, and put into clear water, the shell of the nut sinks, and its
contents float upon the surface, which, when skimmed as before, is finally
put into a pot, fried, and carefully poured off, producing another kind of
oil, used as butter, and having in a great degree its quality.

The wine is extracted from the tree by forming an incision at the bottom of
every cluster of nuts, from each of which flows about a gallon of wine per
day, for a week, when they are closed until the ensuing season. The liquid,
when newly taken from the tree, resembles whey, and in that state has a
sweetish agreeable taste, but it soon ferments and grows sour, changing to
a strong vinegar of a disagreeable smell: in its fermented state it is most
esteemed by the natives, and is productive of inebriety.

A substance overtops the clusters about 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and 3
or 4 feet in height, in a full grown tree, from whence proceeds a stalk,
about 4 inches in length, which, on being boiled in water, makes an
excellent vegetable resembling cabbage, or rather, in taste, the
cauliflower; the leaves of the tree are converted by the natives into
baskets, fishing nets, and cloth.

MEDICINAL PLANTS. _Colla_ is highly esteemed by the natives, and they
attribute to it the virtues of Peruvian bark; the Portuguese, ascribe the
same quality to it, and dispatch from their factories small vessels to
collect all they can procure.

_Castor Oil Rhinum_.-The bush which produces the bud from which this oil
and valuable medicine is extracted, grows in great exuberance upon the
Windward Coast, and its vicinity. A species of bark is in great abundance
also, and is said to be equal in virtue to the Peruvian.

The foregoing enumeration of natural productions, is the result of
unscientific enquiry only; but unquestionably, industrious and professional
research, would discover infinitely more to philosophic and commercial
contemplation, and develope  the arcana of nature, dormant here through
ignorance and barbarism.

On the 10th of May, I set out from Bance Island, with the view of exploring
the two branches of the Sierra Leone river, the Rochelle, and the Port
Logo. After rowing a few hours I arrived at the factory of Miffaré,
formerly occupied by a Mr. Berauld, a Frenchman, but now attached to Bance

Mr. Hodgkin, with his people, then in possession of the factory,
accompanied me up the Port Logo branch the following morning, taking a
number of towns in our way, and visiting the chiefs. The course of this
branch of the river is extremely serpentine, and is navigable for light
vessels to a little way from the town of Port Logo which is now the
residence of Alimami, a Mandingo chief, who assumes the title of emperor.
The banks are overgrown with the mangrove tree, interwoven together, so as
to form an almost impenetrable thicket, excluding the air, which, with the
extreme heat of the sun, and the noxious insects which are extracted by its
rays from the swamps and woods, renders this navigation intolerably
oppressive. The chief part of its trade is in slaves, camwood, and ivory,
the latter, however, being small, although Port Logo commands a very
extensive back country. When we came near the town of Port Logo, which is
extremely difficult of approach at low water, we announced our visit by
saluting in the manner of this country, which is what they call bush
firing, or in other words is a continued irregular firing of musquetry.

It was soon discovered who we were, and crowds of natives flocked down from
the upper town, which is situated on the declivity of a hill, to give us
service, or to pay their respects. Our first visit was to _Marriba_, one of
Alimami's head men, and a resident of what they consider the lower town.

Upon our arrival at Marriba's house, we found him at his devotions in the
palaver-house, a shed under which the natives daily assemble to pray, or
discuss public affairs. He received us with every demonstration of regard,
and immediately offered his services to conduct us to Alimami. The old
chief preceded us, with his long gold-headed cane, and our rear was brought
up by a number of armed men, who had assembled to give us a favourable
reception. Our salute had pleased Alimami, and being before known to him,
he was determined to shew us every respect. The heat of the sun was almost
intolerable, and before we arrived at the top of the hill where the
imperial palace stood, I was nearly exhausted. The entrance to this large
square of irregular mud buildings, is through a narrow passage or gate,
forming an oblong square of mud, covered with thatch, and facing Alimami's
house: we were ushered through this by one of his head men, and proceeded
in the order we set out to Alimami, who was seated at the top of the
square, surrounded by his chiefs, upon a mat spread upon a raised bank of
mud, dressed in a turban, after the Turkish fashion, and a loose manding,
robe, or shirt.

Several pleaders were haranguing two of his judges, who were seated at a
distance, in palaver, or council, to take cognizance of a dispute relative
to some slaves; and although our arrival had excited the-curiosity of every
inhabitant of the town, yet we passed the tribunal without interruption,
their attention being absorbed on the subject of their sitting. The whole
compass of the square was scarcely equal to contain their oratory, their
voices being so extremely loud as to be heard distinctly, without the
walls, accompanied by menacing attitudes. Passing this declamatory
assembly, we paid our obeisance to Alimami, who was graciously pleased to
receive us in the manner of his country, with great civilities, and
immediately spread mats for us with his own hands, near himself. It was
impossible, although accustomed to these people, to contemplate the
surrounding objects without interest. I had previously been acquainted with
this chief at Bance Island, where he was in a high degree restrained by
European manners; but here, every thing was native and original. All came
to give us service, which is performed as I have mentioned. A goat and a
couple of fowls were next presented for our dinners, for which an offering
more valuable was expected, and of course complied with. This mutual
interchange of civilities being fulfilled, our attention was excited by the
orators, who by this time were extremely clamorous; one of them, with an
aspect the most furious, ran up to where I was seated, and addressing
Alimami, said, "that as proof his palaver be good, white man come to give
him service while he address him on the subject of his demand;" attaching
to that circumstance, the superstitious idea that he was right, and that I
was his _fetish_ to establish that right.

I then enquired of Alimami the nature of the trial; he replied, "these men
tell their story, I appoint two judges to hear them, who are to report to
me what they say, and their opinions of the matter, but I hear all that
already and they cannot tell me wrong: I then give judgment," Or in other
words more expressive of his meaning; these men make their complaint to my
head men, or the judges I have appointed to hear it; it is their business
to make me a true report, and give me their opinion on the merits of the
case; and although I am not now supposed to hear it, yet I am so situated
as to hear the whole, and can thereby check any corrupt practices in the

I had now leisure to examine the interior of Alimami's residence; it
consisted of a square of irregular buildings, thatched with bamboo, and
covered with roofs, supported by pillars of wood, at about 6 feet distance,
projecting about the same number of feet beyond the skeleton of the fabric,
and forming a kind of palisado, which serves as a shade for retirement from
the heat of the sun, and under which, the inhabitants indulge in repose, or
sit in familiar intercourse.

During my conversation with Alimami, his brother, a fat jolly fellow, was
reposing himself upon his mat, reading his Arabic prayer book, which, upon
examination, I found executed in a neat character, and from his
interpretation, was a record of fabulous anecdotes of his family, and
containing confused extracts from the Koran.

The Mandingos are professed Mahomedans, whose influence is spreading with
so much rapidity on this part of the coast, that several of the other
tribes have submitted to their authority; so strong an impression has their
superior attainments and book-knowledge imprinted on their minds. In no
instance can their growing influence appear more conspicuous than in that
of Alimami being vested with authority over the Port Logo, of which he is
not a native, and over a people originally infidels. Formerly this tribe of
Mandingos were itinerant _fetish_ makers and priests, but now they are
numerous to the northward of Sierra Leone, from whence a wide district
receives their rulers and chieftains.

After an audience of considerable length, Alimami retired with several of
his chiefs, and soon after I had a message that he wished to see me in
another part of his dwelling. I had previously noticed to him that I
intended shortly to embark for my country. When conducted to his presence,
he very emphatically enquired "if what I tell him be true?" I replied "it
was; but that I go to do him and his countrymen good; that he know this was
the second time I look them, but never forget them." "We all know that," he
replied, "but white man that come among us, never stay long time; you be
good man, and we wish you live among us--How many moon you be gone from
us?"--"About  ten moon; how would you like to go with me, Alimami?"--"I
like that much, but black man not be head enough to do what white man
does;" and putting his hand to his bosom, he took from it a piece of gold
in the form of a heart; and said, "take that for me." To have refused it
would have been an insult; I therefore accepted it; adding, "that I would
tie it to fine riband, and wear it when I look my country, to let
Englishmen see what fine present he make me." He was quite pleased with the
idea, and expressed his satisfaction with great fervency.

Soon after, I offered to take my leave, and was accompanied by him and his
chiefs to the gate, where I bade him adieu, and passed through the town,
paying my respects to its inhabitants, and among others, to the
schoolmaster, whose venerable appearance, and superior intelligence,
excited my respect and esteem.

Upon our return to Marriba's house, we were happy to partake of a country
mess of rice, boiled with fowls, palm oil, and other compounds. The chief
could not be prevailed to eat with us, but attended us with great assiduity
during our meal. The imperial guard accompanied us to our canoe, and we
returned to Miffaré without accident.

The following morning we proceeded to the branch of the Rochell, which we
found more diversified and picturesque than the Port Logo, and its borders
better inhabited.

Proceeding up this branch, and visiting the chiefs in our way, and the
inhabitants of a number of villages, we arrived at Billy Manshu's Town, a
little chief of very considerable intelligence, and who treated us with
great hospitality: here we slept.

We arose early, and pursued our course up the branch, passing one of the
most regular built towns I have observed in Africa, now Morrey Samba's, but
formerly Morrey Bunda's Town. Morrey Bunda was originally a Manding, and
_fetish_ maker to Smart, the chief who commands an extensive country on
that side of the Rochell branch towards the Sherbro, and rose into notice
and influence: he is now dead. The town is surrounded by a mud wall, and at
the entrance, and upon each angle of the oblong square which encloses it,
there are towers erected for the purposes of defence. The wall, with the
towers, completely obscures the buildings which form the town, and serve as
a guard against any depredations of enemies, while it shelters the
inhabitants from the effects of their arrows or musquetry. Morrey Bunda has
displayed in his plans of fortifications, considerable ingenuity,
considering the circumstances he had to provide against, and the predatory
nature of African wars, which are uniformly to surprise the inhabitants of
a village or town while asleep, or in any other unguarded state, seldom or
ever coming to a general engagement in the open country, but acting under
the protection of some ambush, or other place of security, which, while it
is calculated to conceal their numbers, serves as a retreat from their
successful opponents.

Leaving Morrey Samba's we passed by a number of other villages, until we
arrived at one of Smart's trading towns, called Mahera, situated upon an
eminence, and commanding a most delightful prospect of the meandering
course of the river, interspersed with islands, displaying a great
diversity of appearance.

Smart has very wisely chosen this spot, as it is not only a charming
situation, healthy, and delightful, but well situated to command a very
extensive internal trade in camwood and ivory, besides being contiguous to
the Sherbro, from whence a great portion of the camwood is procured, and
situated on the principal branch of the Sierra Leone. In addition to these
local advantages, he has recently opened a path with the interior,
communicating with the Foolah country, which is entirely under his
influence, and which he can open and shut at pleasure. It would be of
incalculable advantage to any operation to secure the friendship of this
chief: he possesses a very superior mind, and, from his connection with
Bance Island, has acquired a knowledge of European ideas and manners seldom
to be met with among any of the chiefs on this part of the coast. From the
various opportunities I have had to consult Smart on his general sentiments
relative to his country, and the freedom of intercourse I have had with
him, I am well persuaded that he would be a powerful and intelligent
auxiliary in promoting the civilization of his country, upon a liberal
principle, calculated to its condition, and having a tendency to eradicate
its barbarism; but he is one, of many more upon this quarter of the coast,
who have no reliance upon the attempts that have been made, and deplores,
with regret, that through the want of a correct knowledge of the
dispositions of his countrymen, an ignorance of the nature of the evil to
be removed, and the invidious principles which constituted the
establishments that have been formed to promote this beneficent
undertaking, his country is still excluded from the light of truth, and the
refined arts of civilized life.

From Mahera we proceeded to Rochell, another of Mr. Smart's towns, more
insular, where I expected to have met him, in conformity with an
arrangement previously made, to visit him at his towns, and see, as he
observed, his country fashion. Upon our reaching this point of our
expedition, we were saluted by a numerous assemblage of chiefs and natives,
going to join my friend Smart in one of his wars with his opposite
neighbours and rivals, the Cammarancies, inhabiting the country towards the
Port Logo. The cause of quarrel was, that these people had seized upon the
rafts and canoes which brought the camwood over the falls higher up the
river, and had demolished several storehouses belonging to Smart and his
people, engaged in that trade. Smart, with a part of his forces, had
crossed the river only an hour before, and another division were embarking
to join him at a place of rendezvous upon the enemy's territory, with the
intention of cautiously approaching during the night to some of their
towns, and surprising them before they had arisen from sleep. Nothing could
exceed the novelty of this sight; the chiefs and their followers were armed
with their bows and arrows, and other rude implements of war, and
completely in their native character; in addition to their native weapons,
some had musquets, procured from Europeans in trade, swords, and various
other manufacture, supplied by traders, exhibiting an appearance, of which
no idea can be formed, without a personal knowledge of this barbarous
people. The chiefs, in particular, were covered with _gris-gris_ and
_fetishes_, a mixture of feathers and other preposterous materials,
calculated to obliterate any trace of human appearance, and possessing the
virtue, as they conceived, of shielding them from danger. Solemn _palaver_
is always held upon these occasions, and their _gris-gris_ makers, _fetish_
men, and priests, exorcise their absurd decorations, which, in their
estimation, operate as guardian angels in the hour of difficulty and peril.

Having occasion to visit a gentleman resident at some distance, we left our
canoes at Rochell, and proceeded on foot. _Cabba_, one of the chiefs,
accompanied us with a guard, being apprehensive, as he observed, that "bad
might happen us, as war live in the country." We passed through a
remarkably fertile country, presenting an infinite variety of natural
productions. Our path was frequently lined with pine-apples, in all the
luxuriance of nature; but amidst this animating landscape, we beheld
deserted villages, ravaged by the ferocious hand of man; and all the traces
of barbarous devastation. We fell in with several armed parties, with whom
I conversed upon the subject of the war, which appeared to be of a
predatory nature, and the consequence of insatiate avarice and barbarous

At length we arrived, much fatigued, at Mr. Green's (at Massou), with whom
we rested for the night, receiving every kindness and attention in his
power to bestow. I am indebted to this gentleman for a variety of useful
information relative to a wide extent of country. His education and
acquirements are of the first class, and I could not view such a man,
insulated from polished society, which he was qualified to adorn, and shut
up in the wilds of Africa, among barbarians, without a mixture of pain and
surprise; nor did I depart from him without sympathy and regret, after he
had confided to me his motives, and the outlines of his life, which were
marked with eventful incidents, and extraordinary occurrences.

It was my object to have proceeded from Massou to Rocond, the principal
town of Smart's residence, and from thence to penetrate to the falls of the
river, which, from every information I received, exhibit a sublime scene;
but, on account of the disturbed state of the country, and that chiefs
absence, I was obliged to give up my intention, and return to Rochell, from
whence we rowed down the river to the town of our little hospitable chief,
Billy Manshu; where we stayed the night. The following day we arrived safe
at Miffaré; and although Smart had given orders at Mahera to stop all
canoes, we were suffered to pass; the chiefs observing, "that they knew we
would not tell their enemies, when we came among them, what we saw them
do." Had we been strangers, it is more than probable we should have fallen
victims to the fury of these barbarians, who, in the towns we passed, were
excited to a savage fierceness, highly descriptive of the natural ferocity
of the African character.

At Miffaré, formerly occupied by Monsieur Berauld, as previously noticed,
who had lately paid the common debt of nature, and who was here buried by
his own desire, I had the opportunity of ascertaining a singular custom
prevalent in this country towards the dead, and which strongly elucidates
the prevailing ideas of its inhabitants, relative to the immortality of the
soul and a future state.

After Monsieur Berauld's interment, his women, and the head people of the
town, assembled round the grave occasionally, for a series of days,
requiring every evening, from Mr. Hodgkin, a candle to light his grave,
which they kept burning during the period of their mourning, under the idea
that it would light him in the other world. In addition to this, a still
more singular rite was performed on this occasion, by Alimami, of the Port
Logo, and a numerous assemblage of natives, who sacrificed a bull to the
departed spirit of Berauld, who was held in great estimation among them.
From authority I cannot doubt, I am persuaded that when slaves have been
redundant, human sacrifices have been offered to the manes of their
favourite chiefs and princes. This horrid custom, which is even extended,
in many of the districts of Africa, to the productions of the earth, is a
most serious subject to contemplate, and a feature of barbarism, pregnant
with melancholy consequences to that class of beings, whom a late
legislative act has abandoned to contingencies, and the uncontrolled power
and avarice of other nations.


_Return to Bance Island.--General Observations on the Commerce, Religion,
Customs, and Character of the Natives upon the Windward Coast.--An Account
of the requisite Merchandize for Trade, the best Mode of introducing
natural Commerce and Civilization into Africa, &c._

The morning after my last arrival at Miffaré I returned to Bance Island;
before I leave it, it may not perhaps be considered as inexpedient at this
stage of my narrative, to submit to my readers an account of the present
state of commerce upon the Windward Coast of Africa, the merchandize used
therein, a general outline of the religion, customs, and character of its
natives,  and the system I conceive eligible, and consistent with the
claims of humanity, by which their intellectual powers may be improved, and
their enslaved state ameliorated; while our commercial ascendency may be
preserved with this region of the earth, and our enemies excluded from
those important advantages, which it only requires intelligence and
enterprise to unfold.

In accomplishing this important part of my duty I beg leave to state, that
my reflections are the result of much deliberation upon the subject,
derived from manifold sources of information, and that I am the zealous
advocate of the radical abolition of the slavery of the human kind. The
motives by which I am actuated are, a philanthropic feeling for my species,
Christian principles, humanity, and justice: however I may differ, in the
means I shall propose, from many truly benevolent characters, yet I trust
that they will do me the justice to consider that my intentions are
congenial with theirs in the cause of humanity.

I shall confine myself to a digested summary of actual observations on the
trade, laws, customs, and manners of the people I have had occasion to
visit; nor shall I attempt to enter into a minute detail on subjects
already ably delineated to British merchants, and with which they are
intimately conversant; but I shall treat of those branches of commerce
which have been hitherto confined to local knowledge, and not generally
known; submitting to the superior powers of the legislature, the
incalculable advantages to be derived by their interference to promote the
agricultural and commercial establishments upon the maritime districts of
Africa, as the only appropriate measure to attain a facility of intercourse
with the interior, and to enlarge the circle of civilised society.

If my endeavours tend to increase the commerce of my country,  and
eventually to emancipate the African, my design will be accomplished, and
my fondest hopes will be gratified.

In pursuance of my plan, I shall first detail the present number of slaves,
and dead cargo, annually exported, upon an average, from the Windward Coast
of Africa, &c. from the information acquired from the traders of most
intelligence in respective rivers, and from my own observation.

|                     |       |    |    |      |    |    |Amount
|                     |       |    |    |      |    |    |Sterling
| NAMES OF PLACES     |A      |B   |C   |D     |E   |F   |  £
|River Gambia, and    |       |    |    |      |    |    |
|Island of Goree . . .| 2,000 | 15 |--  |--    |150 |--  | 60,250
|Rio Noonez. . . . . .|   600 | 20 |--  |--    |--  |--  | 19,000
|Rio Pongo . . . . . .| 2,000 | 30 |60  |--    |--  |--  | 52,000
|River Sierra Leone,  |       |    |    |      |    |    |
|adjacent Rivers,     |       |    |    |      |    |    |
|and Isles de Loss,   | 3,200 | 15 |200 |800   |--  |--  | 82,250
|inclusive . . . . . .|       |    |    |      |    |    |
|River Sherbro . . . .|   500 |--  |200 |300   |--  |--  | 18,000
|----  Gallunas. . . .| 1,200 |--  | 80 |--    |--  |--  | 26,000
|Cape Mount to        |       |    |    |      |    |    |
|Cape Palmas . . . . .| 2,000 | 20 |--  |--    |--  |100 | 48,000
|                     |-------|----|----|------|----|----|--------
|                     |11,500 |100 |540 |1,100 |150 |100 |305,500

A-Slaves, B-Ivory, C-Camwood, D-Rice, E-Bees Wax, F-Malaguetta Pepper

Estimating slaves at 20_l_. each; ivory, 350_l_.; camwood, 25_l_.; rice,
10_l_.; wax, 100_l_.; and Malaguetta pepper, 10_l_. per ton, at first cost
upon the coast of Africa; the whole produces the sum of 305,500_l_.
sterling; to which may be added a three-fold export to leeward, which will
make an aggregate amount of nearly _one million_ sterling. In addition to
the foregoing exemplification, we have to contemplate the great
multiplicity of natural productions, abounding in this extent of region,
namely, indigo, numerous plants for staining, cotton in wild exuberance,
cocoa, coffee, and aromatic plants, &c. &c. Wild bees are so extremely
numerous, that wax forms an important article of trade which might be
considerably increased; substances proper for making soap are also to be
found in great abundance, raw hides, more especially in the Gambia, and the
countries insular to the Rio Noonez and Rio Pongo; gold is procured from
Bambouk, and tobacco is found in every direction, which might be greatly
increased by cultivation and an improved soil; cattle, poultry, Guinea
hens, different species of game, fish, with other animals; fruits, and a
variety of vegetable productions, calculated to satisfy every luxurious
want and desire. To these objects of commerce may be added, the now
important article of sugar, which might be raised to a great amount, in
various districts of Africa, as the climate is propitious to the growth of
the sugarcane, which, under proper cultivation, might be raised in great

The lands upon the banks of the Gambia, the Rio Noonez, the Rio Grande, the
Rio Pongo, in the Mandingo country, Sierra Leone, Sherbro, &c. are
universally allowed to be extremely fertile in many places, and abundant in
vegetation and population.

These countries produce various hard woods, well adapted to cabinet work
and ship building, and are singular in their qualites and properties.

The most remarkable are, 1st. the cevey, or kinney wood, which grows about
the size of the oak, in England, and may be cut into planks of 20 feet by
15 inches. Its texture is something of the ash grey and mahogany,
variegated with stripes, fancifully disposed, and is therefore adapted to
cabinet work; its qualities for ship building are peculiar, having the
virtue of resisting the worm and vermis, so destructive to shipping in
tropical climates, and corroding iron; it grows in great abundance. Any
quantity of this wood put into water sufficient to cover it, will, in a few
hours, produce an unctuous substance floating on the top, resembling
verdigrise, and of a poisonous quality.

Secondly, the dunjay wood, rather coarser in the grain, but harder in
quality than the Spanish Bay mahogany. It possesses the same peculiarities
as the cevey or kinney, in resisting the worm in salt water, and corroding
iron. It may be procured in any quantity. And, Thirdly, the melley wood, or
_gris-gris_ tree, another species of mahogany, abundant in growth, having a
more rare quality than the foregoing, resisting the worm in both salt and
fresh water; it is extremely hard, and its juices so poisonous, in the
premature state, as to cause instant death.

The manifold and neglected productions of this extraordinary continent
require only to be developed, and when the useful arts of Europe are
introduced here, ample recompense will attend the benevolent undertaking,
natural history will be much enlarged, and mankind be greatly benefited.
The claims of humanity, the distinguished part it has taken in an unnatural
and much to be deplored commerce, loudly unite with a wise policy, in one
impressive appeal to the feelings of the more refined inhabitants of
Europe, and to none more than those of Englishmen.

The goods adapted to African commerce are,

_East India goods_--consisting of bafts, byrampauats, chilloes, romals,
neganipauts, niccanees, red and blue chintz, Guinea stuffs, bandanoes,
sastracundies, &c.

_Manchester goods_.--Cotton chilloes, cushtaes, neganipauts, photaes, romal
handkerchiefs, silk handkerchiefs, &c. _Linen Britanias_, slops, spirits,
tobacco, guns, swords, trade chests, cases, jars, powder, umbrellas, boats,
canvas, cordage, pitch, tar, paints, oil, and brushes, empty kegs, kettles,
pans, lead basons, earthenware, hardware, beads, coral, iron bars, lead
bars, common caps, Kilmarnock ditto, flints, pipes, leg and hand manilloes,
snuff boxes, tobacco boxes, cargo hats, fine ditto, hair trunks, knives,
looking glasses, scarlet cloth, locks, shot, glass ware, stone ware,
provisions, bottled ale and porter, &c. &c.

The foregoing general enumeration may serve to convey a just conception of
the various manufactures requisite in the African trade, and the different
branches to which it is allied, yeilding support to a numerous body of
merchants, manufacturers, artizans, and many of the labouring class of the

Generally speaking, the Africans are unacquainted with specie as a
circulating medium of commerce, although they form to themselves an ideal
standard, by which they estimate the value of the commodities in barter;
this, however, fluctuates on various parts of the coast.

From Senegal to Cape Mesurado, the medium of calculation is termed a _bar_;
from thence to the eastward of Cape Palmas, the computation is in _rounds_;
and on the Gold Coast in _ackies_ of gold, equal to 4_l_. sterling, and of
trade only half that value.

At Goree the bar, under the French, was 4, pieces of 24 sous, and 1 of 6;
but at present the bar is considered a dollar.

The bar is by no means a precise value, but subject to much variation; the
quantity and quality of the articles materially differing in many parts of
the coast, and frequently on rivers of a near vicinity; for example, six
heads of tobacco are equal in trade to a bar, as is a gallon of rum, or a
fathom of chintz.

A piece of cloth which, in one place, will only pass for 6 bars, will in
others fluctuate to 10; hence the trader must form an average standard, to
reduce his assortment to an equilibrium.

The following are the barter prices now established throughout a
considerable extent of the Windward Coast; but it is to be observed, they
are subject to fluctuation from locality of situation and other

 1 blue baft              6 bars
 1 bonny chintz & stripe  8
 1 white baft             6
 1 byrampaut              6
 1 chilloe                6
 1 bijudapaut             6
 1 cushtae                5
 1 bonny blue romal       5
 1 niccanee               5
 1 sastracundie           4
 1 India cherridery       6
 1 taffety               15
 1 cottanee              12
 1 dozen britannias       8
 1 piece of bandanas      6
 1 barrel of powder      60
 1 fowling gun            8
 1 burding                6
 1 soldier's gun          5 bars
 1 buccanier ditto        6
 1 dozen of cutlasses     8
 1 sword blade            2
 1 iron bar               1
 1000 arangoes           30
 1 bunch of point beads   1
 1 bunch of mock coral    1
 Red pecado 3lb. for      1
 Seed beads,  ditto       1
 Battery     ditto        1
 1 Mandingo kettle        1
 1 dozen of hardware      3
 1 bason                  1
 1 ton of salt           60
 1 fine hat               3
 Tobacco, 6lb. to         1
 Rum, per gallon          1

Prime ivory is procured at a bar per lb, and _escrevals_, or pieces under
20lb. 1 bar for each 1-1/2lb.

As the natives are unacquainted with arithmetic, their numerical
calculations are carried on by counters of pebbles, gun-flints, or cowries.

After the number of bars is decided upon, a counter, or pebble, &c. is put
down, representing every bar of merchandize, until the whole is exhausted,
when the palaver is finished; and, as they have very little idea of the
value of time, they will use every artifice of delay and chicane to gain a

In matters of less consequence they reckon with their fingers, by bending
the little finger of the right hand close to the palm, and the other
fingers in succession, proceeding to the left hand, concluding the
calculation by clapping both the hands together; and if it requires to be
extended, the same process is repeated.

Among the Foulahs in particular, commercial transactions are carried on
with extreme tardiness; a _palaver_ is held over every thing they have for
barter. The season in which they chiefly bring their trade to the coast is
during the dry months, and they generally travel in caravans, under the
control of a chief or head man. The head man of the party expects to be
lodged and accommodated by the factor, and before they enter upon business,
he expects the latter _to give him service_, or a present of kola,
Malaguetta pepper, tobacco, palm oil, and rice; if they eat of the kola,
and the present is not returned, the head man begins the trade, by making a
long speech, in which he magnifies the difficulties and dangers he has had
to surmount, &c.; mutual interpreters report this harangue. The trade for
rice is settled with little delay, but every tooth of ivory requires a new
palaver, and they will dispute for a whole day for a bar with the most
determined firmness.

When the palaver and trade is gone through, they again expect a present,
and if they are pleased with the factor, they march off singing his
praises, which they communicate to all they meet on the road.

The annual return from this commerce in colonial productions, has been from
_two_ to _three millions sterling_; for although large remittances have
been made in bills to the African merchants, yet these bills have been
provided for in produce by the planters. Politically considered, it will
appear, that its regeneration might have been more appropriately the
progressive work of time; and humanely viewed, it will also appear, from my
subsequent remarks, that by those means alone the African can be freed from
his shackles, and his condition efficaciously improved.

But to proceed with the intention of this chapter, I shall next make some
remarks on the religion, customs, and character of the natives of the
Windward Coast.

The natives on this part of the coast, and indeed throughout Africa, are in
general extremely superstitious; they believe in witchcraft, incantations,
and charms, and in certain Mahomedan doctrines, adopted from itinerant
devotees and priests of that persuasion, who are numerous among them, and
make a trade of selling charms. The Baggoes, Nellos, Susees, Timinees, &c.
occasionally worship and offer sacrifices to the Devil, and are equally
confused in their conception of the Supreme Being, of whose attributes they
entertain an assemblage of indistinct ideas, of which it is impossible to
give any clear description. They will tell the traveller with great apathy,
"they never saw him, and if he live he be too good to hurt them." Their
acts of devotion are the consequence of fear alone, and are apparently
divested of any feelings of thankfulness or gratitude for the blessing they
receive from the good Spirit which they suppose to exist. The Devil, or
evil spirit, which they suppose to exist also, claims their attention from
the injury they suppose him capable of inflicting, and is worshipped under
a variety of forms; at one time in a grove, or under the shade of a large
tree, consecrated to his worship, they place, for the gratification of his
appetite; a _country mess_, a goat, or other offering of this nature, which
they may conceive to be acceptable to his divinity, who, however, is often
cozened out of the offering by some sacreligious and more corporeal
substance, to whose nature and wants it is more congenial; at some periods
great faith is attached to their _fetish_, as an antidote against evil; and
at others the alligator, the snake, the guava, and a number of other living
animals and inanimate substances are the objects of their worship. Like
other unenlightened nations, a variety of external beings supply the want
of the principles of Christianity; hence the counterfeit adoption and
substitution of corporate qualities as objects of external homage and

_Fetish_, derived from the word _Feitico_, denotes witchcraft among the
majority of the maritime nations of Africa: this superstition is even
extended to some Europeans after a long residence in that country, and is
an expression of a compound meaning, forming an arrangement of various
figures, which constitute the objects of adoration, whether intellectually
conceived, or combined with corporeal substances; even the act of devotion
itself; or the various charms, incantations, and buffoonery of the priests
and fetish makers, who abound among them. In short, it is an incongruous
composition of any thing dedicated to the purpose; one kind of fetish is
formed of a piece of parchment containing an expression or sentence from
the Koran, which is associated with other substances, sewed up in a piece
of leather, and worn upon several parts of their bodies. Another kind is
placed over the doors of their huts, composed of distorted images besmeared
with palm oil, and stuck with feathers, some parts are tinged with blood,
and the whole is bedaubed with other preposterous applications.

_Ghresh_, or _Gresh_, is an expression in the Arabic tongue, meaning to
expel or drive away, and, as I apprehend, by the repetition of the word, is
the expression from which the African _gris-gris_ is derived, consisting of
exorcised feathers, cloth, &c., short sentences from the Koran, written on
parchment, and enclosed in small ornamented leathern cases, worn about
their persons, under the idea that it will keep away evil spirits, and is a
species of _fetish_.

The Mandingos, or book-men, are great _fetish_ makers, many of them being
well versed in the Arabic tongue, and writing it in a neat character. From
the impression of their superior learning and address, their influence and
numbers daily increase, many of them having become rulers and chiefs in
places where they sojourned as strangers, The religion they profess in
common with the Foolahs, Jolliffs, and other Mahomedan tribes, is
peculiarly adapted to the sensual effiminacy of the Africans: the doctrines
of Mahomet contained in their book I have procured from a very intelligent
chief in the Rio Pongo, and when I compare his account with others of his
nation on this part of the coast, the Foolahs, and the Mahomedan tribes in
the vicinity of the Island of Goree, I am persuaded the following is the
portion of the Islam faith believed by them.

1st. That God is above all, and not born of woman.

2d. That Mahomet stands between God and man, to intercede for him; that he
is superior to all beings born of woman, and is the favorite of God. And,

3d. That he has prepared for the meanest of his followers and believers
_seventy-two bouris_, or black-eyed girls of superior beauty, who are to
administer to all their pleasures, and participate with them in the
enjoyment of the fountains and groves of paradise, and in the gratification
of those appetites congenial to their nature and existence in this world.
This nearly amounts to the entire belief of Mahomet's doctrine, which is
nothing but a compound of this eternal truth and necessary fiction; namely,
"that there is only one God, and Mahomet is the apostle of God:" from
hence, in the idiom of the Koran, the belief of God is inseparable from the
apostolic character of Mahomet. The fertile and politic imagination of this
impostor admirably adapted his tenets to the prevailing and established
customs; he tolerates polygamy, &c. and to add to the sanctity of his
pernicious doctrines, he represents himself as having been visited by the
angel Gabriel, in the cave of Hera, where he communicated to him the
precepts of the Koran, in the month of Ramadan, which he enjoins as a fast;
he interdicts wine, and inculcates the necessity of praying five times a
day, facing the holy city, &c.; forming together a system of the most
insidious character towards the establishment of pure Christianity. In the
performance of the duties of their belief, the Mahomedan nations of Africa,
upon the coast, are exact and scrupulous, but they have no idea of the
intellectual doctrines of the Islam faith, or the happiness described by
Mahomet as enjoyed by superior saints in the beatitude of vision; they are
as perplexed on this subject as they are in their conceptions of the divine
nature, and discover a surprising contraction of mental powers, when
considered as human beings endowed with reason.

The nations, upon the Windward Coast, are in general little influenced by
belief in their actions. Forgiveness of injuries they conceive incompatible
with the nature of man; and a spirit of retaliation is very prevalent and
hereditary, descending in succession from father to son. They are extremely
jealous of white men, designing, ferocious, and cowardly; but there are,
notwithstanding, a great variety of localities existing among them, and it
will be found that their climate and habits are closely assimilated.

To the Africans, the indispensible articles of life are reduced to a very
narrow compass, and they are unacquainted with the insatiate wants of
Europeans. The heat of the climate renders cloathing an incumberance, and
occasions a carelessness with regard to their dwellings: for the former,
they require only a stripe of linen, and their _gris-gris_; while a
building of mud, covered with an interwoven and thatched roof, forms the
latter, which is reared with little labour, and, when circumstances require
it, is abandoned without much regret.

The food of the Negro consists chiefly of rice, millet, &c. seasoned with
palm oil, butter, or the juices of the cocoa-nut tree mixed with herbs of
various kinds. They frequently regale themselves with other dishes,
kous-kous, and country mess, to which they sometimes add fowls, fish, and
flesh, heightened in the flavour by a variety of savory applications.

A contracted system of agriculture, conducted by their women and slaves, in
a very few days prepares the _lugars_, or cultivated fields; and the
harvest is distributed by the elders of the community, according to the
portion and wants of the society of the village, or is stored up to be
portioned out as circumstances may require.

Water is the ordinary drink of the Negroes; they, however, regale
themselves with a wine extracted from the palm tree, as before described,
which, in the luxury of indulgence, they frequently suck through a very
small kind of cane, until inebriety and stupidity absorb them in a perfect
state of apathy. They have also a very pleasant beverage, extracted from
the cocoa nut and banana tree, besides several descriptions of beer,
fermented from various roots and herbs. In the Rio Pongo, and adjacent
countries, especially in the Bashia branch of that river, the Soosees
extract a fermented and intoxicating liquor from a root growing in great
abundance, which they call _gingingey_, something similar to the sweet
potatoe in the West Indies. The distillation is commenced by forming a pit
in the earth, into which a large quantity of the root is put, and covered
with fuel, which is set on fire, and kept burning until the roots are
completely roasted: the roots are then put into paloons, and beat, exposed
afterwards in mats to the sun, by which they acquire a taste similar to
honey; and are afterwards put into hampers for distillation. This is
performed by making a funnel of sticks in a conical form, interwoven
together like basket-work; the funnel is filled with the material, and
water poured upon it; the succulent moisture therefrom passes through a
tube, and yields a liquid similar in colour to coffee, and of a violent
purgative quality. It remains in this state about twenty-four hours, and is
then incorporated with a quantity of the ashes of rice-straw, which excites
a bubbling fermentation like boiling water, after which it becomes fit for
use. In forty-eight hours it returns again to its purgative state, which
interval is employed in drinking most copiously, until overtaken by
insensibility and intoxication. The root, in its roasted state, is an
excellent medicine for colds.

Indigo and cotton grow in wild exuberance almost every where, without
culture, and the women collect such quantities as they consider requisite
for their families, which they prepare and spin upon a distaff; the thread
is woven, by an apparatus of great simplicity, into fillets, or pieces from
six to nine inches broad, which are sewed together to any width, required
for use. The indigo, in its indigenous state, and a variety of other
plants, colour these cloths, an ell of which will serve as a dress for a
Negroe of the lower class.

They manufacture cloths, of a very fanciful pattern, from various
substances. I have some from the rind of the cocoa-nut, of great beauty,
and a fine texture; also cloth, fine mats, baskets, hats, ornaments,
quivers, arrows, &c. which all prove the taste and ingenuity of the

The Negro is attached by love about his thirteenth year, and from sixteen
to twenty he seeks the object of his affection. This choice generally
continues in his confidence during life; and in proportion as he acquires
wealth, he associates with her several concubines, who generally live
cordially together. From this acquisition to his household, he is
considered rich; and it is a common expression with the Negro to say, "such
a man be rich, he have much woman." When an object excites his desire, he
consults his head woman, who, without any apparent suspicion of rivalry,
gives her assent, and forwards his suit; but she is displeased when not
consulted; and it is not uncommon that the object falls a victim to her
jealousy. Celibacy is a state almost unknown in Africa; and when it does
occur, it is considered as a degradation.

The Negroe's existence is almost a gratuitous gift of nature; his wants are
supplied without laborious exertion, his desires are gratified without
restraint, his soul remains in peaceful indolence and tranquillity, and his
life glides on in voluptuous apathy and tranquil calm: he has few
solicitudes or apprehensions, and he meets the stroke of fate with perfect

In the countries which I have visited, and, as I understand from others,
every principal village or town has its _bantaba_, or _palaver-house_,
which I have before described. In this house, or under the shade of some
venerable tree, all ranks occasionally assemble in groups, from sun-rising
to sun-set, and pass the time in chit-chat, or in conversation on public
affairs. Their subjects are inexhaustible, and their tittle-tattle is
carried on with surprising volubility, gaiety, and delight; their time thus
occupied is so seducing, that they separate with great reluctance,
sometimes passing the entire day in this, pratling, smoaking, and
diversion: night, however, terminates these amusements: They assemble in
the open air during the dry season, and under the palaver-houses in the
wet, where they form themselves into dancing companies, generally during
half the night, and not unfrequently the whole of it. Their instruments of
music are upon a very rude construction, consisting of a _tabila_, or drum,
hollowed out from a piece of wood, and covered at each end with a bull's
hide, producing a most barbarous noise, accompanied by a _baba_, or rattle,
loud shouts, palaver, songs, and violent gesticulations, forming a system
of confused uproar, unmusical, and ungraceful. Their motions are irregular,
sometimes in violent contortion, and at others voluptuous and slow. Nothing
can be done without a palaver; and at the change of every dance, he from
whom the proposition originates, makes a solemn harangue over the musical
instruments, which is generally descriptive of some warlike action or
exploit, when they again give themselves up with rapture to the pleasures
of the dance, the females in particular, whose actions and shew of
luxuriant pleasure are highly offensive to delicacy, exhibiting all the
gradations of lascivious attitude and indecency. At this period of unusual
delight, they are applauded by the men with rapturous ardour; but suddenly
a feeling of shame strikes the minds of the young creatures with a
humiliating sense of their display, and amidst these plaudits they hastily
retire to the matrons, who are spectators of the scene, and hide their
blushes in their bosoms. So strongly implanted is this ingenuous and
amiable modesty in youth, which is frequently laid aside when engaged in
the vortex of pleasure, that it is one of the highest charms of beauty; and
wretches only, degraded by debauchery and systematic vice, are capable of
insulting this sentiment. A scrupulous regard to modesty and truth will not
permit me to pursue the description of these amusements farther than
observing, that they prepare them for a profound and tranquil sleep on
their mats, from whence they arise at the dawn of day cheerful and easy.
Thus infancy and youth are singularly happy, and mothers attend their
offspring with maternal feeling and delight; they are neither disturbed by
painful commands or restraint; and it is a picture of perfect happiness to
see these children of nature in sportive groups and infantine diversion.
This happy infancy and gay youth is peculiarly calculated to organise a
vigorous manhood, and a firm old age; and, I am persuaded, that these are
the physical causes why the Negro race are so muscular in body, and
procreative of their species. In some countries innoculation is practised;
but the small pox is not so common, or dreadful in its effects, in these
countries as in Europe. The greatest term of their lives may be computed at
from sixty to seventy years, it seldom or ever happening that life is
prolonged beyond that period in this part of Africa. They retain their
vigour, and enjoy a permanent and regular state of health until the last;
and I have observed a venerable chief of advanced years having the
possession of a dozen of young handsome wives, and the father of a young
progeny, whose legitimacy was never disputed or suspected. In Europe the
last stage of man is a daily anticipation of dissolution; but in Africa,
declining years are only insensible approaches to the termination of a
journey, the event of which he considers as the end of life, unconscious of
the future, but as a fatality equally attached to all the creation.

The picture I have endeavoured to delineate may serve to convey an idea to
the mind of the moral and physical state of Africa, which, undisturbed by
ferocious barbarism, fierce hostilities, and horrid customs, convey a
blissful and happy state of being; but, alas! we must now take another
view, and contemplate these beings in the most degrading state, absorbed in
superstitious idolatry, inhuman customs, and shut out from the civil arts
of life, and the mild principles of Christianity. Their customs, their
hostilities, slavery, and the mode I have conceived requisite to
infranchise this unhappy race of men, I shall attempt to represent in the
following chapter; and happy shall I feel if the description excites the
attention and interference of more capacious minds on this subject,
interesting to so large a portion of the human race, and to the claims of


_The Mode of Trial by_ Ordeal _and_ Red Water _in Africa.--The  Wars of its
Inhabitants.--The State of Barbarism and Slavery considered.--The Condition
of the Africans will not be improved by a late Legislative Act, without
further Interference.--Salutary Measures must be adopted towards the
Negroes in the Colonies.--A System suggested to abolish Slavery in Africa,
and the Slave Trade in general, and to enlarge the intellectual Powers of
its Inhabitants.--The proper Positions to effect an Opening to the Interior
of Africa, and to display to the World its manifold Resources._

Trial by _ordeal_ in Africa is a punishment for petty thefts and
delinquincies. Trial by _red water_ is generally applied to crimes of
greater magnitude. After the usual ceremonial of calling a palaver, the
operation is performed by heating a piece of iron in the fire, the hand of
the accused is dipped into a viscous preparation, and the iron is
immediately drawn horizontally over the palm of the hand. If the judges
(one of whom is always the executioner) have previously determined, in
defiance of all the evidence, to prove the culprit guilty, the consequence
is that the flesh is seared; but if they are predisposed to acquit him, the
iron is dexterously applied so as to absorb the unctuous surface on the
hand without affecting it, and a sentence of not guilty is pronounced.

Trial by _red water_ consists in making the accused drink a quantity of
water, into which is infused the poisonous juice of the melley or
_gris-gris_ tree; this is prepared by these _equitable_  judges, and
applied upon the same fraudulent principles as in  the trial by the _ordeal
of fire_; it is, however, less resorted to. If the unhappy object of
suspicion is affected in such a manner as they consider as a proof of
guilt, his brains are knocked out upon the spot, or the body is so inflated
by the pernicious liquid that it bursts. In either of these catastrophes
all his family are sold for slaves. Some survive these diabolical
expedients of injustice, but the issue is uniformly slavery. When chiefs of
influence, guilty of atrocity and fraud, become objects of accusation, the
ingredient is of course qualified so as to remove its fatal tendency. Hence
justice seldom or ever in this country can punish powerful offenders, or
shield the innocence of the weak and unprotected.

The iniquity and oppression sanctioned by these trials, is a dreadful
consequence of their avarice and inhumanity, for it is a fact that slaves
are created thereby, and human sacrifices offered to that spirit, which
they consider as their tutelar guardian: it is a subject which humanity
should seriously contemplate in the relinquishment of the slave trade,
whether, by the hasty adoption of that measure, before the intellectual
powers of the people are improved by civilization, this barbarous evil may
not be increased. When I closely enquired of the chiefs and natives
relative to these savage customs, they uniformly admitted the fact, "that
such live in their country," but with their characteristic dissimulation,
always denied having perpetrated these horrid acts, and shifted the
diabolical practice to some other nation or tribe, adding, "that only bad
men do that thing."

Circumcision is practised among men, and a certain infliction on women,
not, however, from religious motives, but to guard against the consequences
of a disease not uncommon among them. The infliction upon women is the
result of infidelity, or a sacrifice of chastity to loose gratification. As
a preliminary, they retire to the _bunda_, or penitentiary, and are there
secluded from all sexual intercourse. When the season of penitence is over,
the operation is performed by the rude application of two stones, fashioned
and sharpened for the purpose; this obliterates all delinquincy, and on
their return to the world they are considered as restored to virgin purity.

Wars in Africa originate from a variety of causes; in forming a correct
estimate of these, it is necessary to consider its localities and
situation. The inhabitants of this quarter of the earth, more particularly
those of the district now under consideration, compose numerous tribes and
nations, whose various views and interests excite jealousies and
contentions, which, aided by the passions peculiar to a barbarous people,
inevitably produce hostilities, and the effusion of human blood.

What we have hitherto known of this country undoubtedly proves that wars
are carried on with the most sanguinary violence: their prisoners, by the
customs of the country, are consigned to massacre, slavery, and
sacrifice,[1] to gratify the avarice, vanity, and cruelty of their chiefs;
one of these passions must be predominant, and therefore the question is,
which of them is the least pregnant with evil? It cannot admit of a doubt
that those who are victims to avarice meet a more mild and humane fate, in
falling into the hands of Europeans, than the unhappy portion who are
sacrificed to vanity and cruelty; and it is equally true, that since the
interior nations have been enabled to exchange their slaves for European
merchandize, the number of victims to the latter passion has decreased. I
am far from being the advocate of slavery, but I am stating a fact, and
leave it to the reader to form his own conclusions. Where confirmed habits
and immemorial custom is to be supplanted, it is certainly requisite to be
well acquainted with the nature and character of the natives, which I have
not here introduced in an exaggerated shape, but infinitely within the
bounds of their savage ferocity.

From these sources alone have arisen the expedients attendant upon the
slave trade; kidnapping and petty warfare form a very unimportant branch of
the barbarism which governs the inhabitants of Africa, and their enslaved

Viewing this in the mass of moral evil which disgraces the character of
man, it will be found that it is even disproportioned to the estimated
population of Africa, which, from the best authority, has been stated at
upwards of 160 millions; and to apply the consideration to our own
situation, it will be found, that the number of executions and
transportations from the United Kingdom, in proportion to its population,
is infinitely greater than the number of slaves exported from the shores of
Africa, to its numerous inhabitants. Unquestionably the slave trade has
extricated a number of human beings from death, whom the horrible
sacrifices before described consigned to a barbarous exit, and has been a
cause, though an immoral one when applied to Britons, of extricating many
victims, who otherwise would have been annually sacrificed: humanity has,
therefore, some consolation in this polluted branch of our commerce, which
in its nature is barbarous and inhuman.

Theories become extremely dangerous when they are impracticable, or
misapplied, and are pernicious in their consequences from the fallacious
measures they establish. In Africa crimes are punished by forfeitures,
slavery, or death; they are however rare; but accusations are often used to
procure slaves, whether for domestic purposes, sale, or sacrifice to their
customs. Death, as a punishment, is seldom the penalty of condemnation; and
if the culprit is rich, he can purchase his security. The alleged crime of
witchcraft, or magic, is a common means by which the chiefs increase their
accusations; and, consequently, the number of slaves. Adultery, and other
violations of social order, are punished by fine, but absolution is to be
obtained by money.

The crimes by which the chiefs obtain the condemnation and disposal of
their subjects, are nearly all imaginary; for few exist which, under their
laws, are considered as acts of turpitude. The abuse of authority, the
action of violent passions, barbarous customs, ferocious habits, and
insatiate avarice among the chiefs, augment the number of captives and
victims, and the operation of these is much greater in the interior than in
the maritime districts; but this leads me to the next part of my subject,
namely, that a late legislative act will not, without farther interference,
improve the condition of the African.

By the hasty conclusion of that measure, the unhappy African is now
abandoned to his fate; and we have surrendered him into the hands of other
nations, less acquainted with his character and situation. Former acts of
parliament had adopted wise and humane measures to ameliorate the condition
of slaves on board British vessls, so that their wants, and even their
comforts, were administered with a liberal hand; and much more might have
been done to augment these comforts. Instead of now being the object of
matured and wise regulations, the captive is exposed to the rapacity of our
enemies, who will derive great advantages from our abandonment of the
trade, and those who are incompetent, from the want of local knowledge, to
ease his shackles, and sooth him in his state of bondage. The magnitude and
nature of the disease, required a comprehensive system of policy to
eradicate it; and although in its nature and tendency of great moral
turpitude, alteratives were required calculated to its inveterate character
and established habits. The condition of the African, the probable
advantages he was to derive by our abandonment, and the circumstances of
commerce, were all considerations of important consequence.

Even virtue itself must modify to its standard many considerations of moral
evil, more particularly in a political point of view, that it may the more
effectually establish its principles; nor can it, amidst the corruptions of
society, exercise at all times its functions with due effect; neither has
an instance occurred where its prudence and discretion was more imperiously
called upon, than in that now under consideration. It had immemorial custom
in Africa to contend with, inveterate barbarism, and savage ferocity. This
system had interwoven itself with our commercial existence so closely, as
to require the most sagacious policy to eradicate it; at the same time it
was the highest consideration for our magnanimity to interfere for that
being whose thraldom and calamitous state had so long contributed to our
wealth and commercial prosperity, before we abandoned him to contingencies.

Enough may have been said in the foregoing pages, to prove that something
yet remains to be done to effect the manumission of the African, and
preserve the important branches of commerce, which necessity has allied
with the slave trade; and I entreat my readers to give this subject that
dispassionate consideration which its merits require, and beg to assure
them, that I obtrude my suggestions upon their notice with great submission
and diffidence, trusting that what may appear in my system deficient,
others more competent will embrace the subject, and excite the beneficence
of my country in behalf of the African, promote civilization and Christian
society in his country, display its arcana of wealth to the world, and open
a path to its commerce, free and unobscured.

The colonization of the coast of Africa, in my estimation, is
impracticable, from its climate being uncongenial to the constitution of
Europeans, and from the system of slavery existing among its inhabitants,
without the employment of natives in their present condition. The requisite
authority to establish a system of labour, upon remunerative principles,
and with industrious vigour, cannot otherwise be supported; and a
misapprehension on this principle has been one of the great causes, as I
conceive, of the failure of the Sierra Leone Company in establishing their
agricultural objects. They attempted, in prosecution of their humane
project, an agricultural establishment on the Boolam shore, opposite to
their colony, where they had a choice of good lands: they proceeded upon
the principles of their declaration, "that the military, personal, and
commercial rights of blacks and whites shall be the same, and secured in
the same manner," and in conformity with the act of parliament which
incorporated them, more immediately that clause which relates to labour,
namely, "not to employ any person or persons in a state of slavery in the
service of the said Company;" but they have totally failed; and in one of
their reports, among other reasons, it is acknowledged, that for want of
authority over the free natives whom they employed, their agricultural
establishment on the Boolam shore was unsuccessful. Let not those worthy
and truly respectable characters, whose humanity has induced them to risque
an extensive property _unhappily expended without effect_, here consider
that I mean to militate against their views, but rather may they acquiesce
in the truth, and devise other expedients to promote their beneficent
objects, and to _assimilate the natives_ of the country with their views.
They have not only to lament a nonproductive profusion of their property,
but an _alienation of the natives_, occasioned by a misconception of their
character, by distracted councils, and the narrowed ideas of the agents
they employed to prosecute their humane endeavours, but also by a desolate
waste in their colony, without a regular feature of cultivation in its

At Bance Island, where slavery and agriculture were united under one
superintendance in conformity with the established laws of the country, the
mechanic arts among the natives have arrived at a greater degree of
perfection than any situation I have visited upon the Windward Coast; and
had the intellectual powers of their minds been more amply considered and
cultivated, they would have exhibited an uncontrovertible example of the
capacity and intelligence of the African. Although, as I have previously
noticed, a superintendance directed only to the mechanical arts, applied to
the local necessities of the Island, has had the most visible effects, yet,
in proportion as their privileges have been extended, authority has become
more inefficient, and their labour less unproductive in a pecuniary point
of view, for want of a previous enlargement of their intellectual powers,
and a progressive operation of freedom commensurate thereto.

I can bestow no panegyric adequate to the sense I entertain of that active
goodness which prompted the Directors of the Sierra Leone Company to the
undertaking I have alluded to; but with all due deference I conceive that
they have mistaken the practicable grounds, upon which the seeds of
civilization, and the principles of Christianity, can be effectively
displayed to the African. The Directors had to contend with a peculiar
co-mixture of passions, licentious habits, and hereditary vice; to
eradicate these, and to rescue the natives from their natural state,
alluring and progressive measures were necessary, founded upon an accurate
investigation of their characters and policy, and not by the fulminations
of intemperate zealots, and theoretical speculators. The beneficent views
of the Sierra Leone Company have been unaccountably perverted, and have
been the distorted instruments in prolonging, rather than extirpating, the
barbarism of the African: it is therefore a subject of great regret to the
benevolent supporters of this establishment, that an unprofitable
expenditure of their property is the only existing perpetuity of their
humane interference. Will it be found that the Company's agents have
introduced the arts of civilization among any tribe or nation in Africa,
that they have made any progress in agriculture, although possessing a very
extensive tract of fertile lands, or that they have converted them into any
of the regular features of cultivation? Have they explored or brought into
action any of the attainable and lucrative branches of natural commerce,
abounding in the region they inhabit, or do they employ a single ship in a
regular trade with the mother country? Will it be found that they have
unfolded the doctrines of Christianity, in their native purity and
simplicity, to the unenlightened African, or converted, by their preaching
and example, any tribe or nation among them?--The spacious waste is
destitute of the appearance of domestic industry, or respectable character;
it exhibits only a tissue of indolence, hypocritical grimace, petulant and
assuming manners, and all the consequences of idleness and corrupted
morals. To succeed in this beneficent undertaking, and to expunge the
inveterate nature of the African, his prejudices, and inherent customs,
progressive approaches upon his present condition are indispensibly
requisite, under the attractive influence of agriculture, manufactures,
commerce, and navigation.

Accidental events, concurring with political causes, frequently render the
best concerted measures abortive, and retard their progress, but
unquestionably the above-mentioned are the means by which the African may
be manumitted, and his condition improved. The wisest laws operate but
slowly upon a rude and fierce people, therefore the measures of reformation
are not to be successfully performed by a coup-de-main, nor are the
hereditary customs of Africa to be erased by the inflammatory declamations
of enthusiasm, but by a liberal policy and the ascendency of the polished
arts of society. Commerce, the chief means of assembling, and agriculture
of assimilating, mankind, must first assume their fascinating and alluring
attitudes to the African upon his native plains. Too impetuous and indolent
to observe the forms, or enter into the requisite details of business, he
contemplates the effect, without investigating the cause; but, when he
discovers his own comparative wretchedness, he will be roused from his
innate indolence, his powers will be stimulated, and his emulation excited
to attain a more exalted state.

Imperceptible and circumspect approach at innovation upon the laws,
customs, and country of Africa are indispensibly requisite, its chiefs and
head men must be cajoled, their jealousies dextrously allayed, and their
sordid avarice flattered by the prospect of superior gain.

During the infancy of colonization, the employment of native labour must be
tolerated, as is evident by the unsuccessful attempts of the Sierra Leone
Company, and may appear from what I have already urged. Independent of
political considerations, of much weight, the uncongeniality of the climate
of Africa to the constitution of the European colonist opposes an
insurmountable barrier to the exercise of laborious avocations; therefore
it is necessary to employ natives, in conformity with the usage of the
country; and a recognition of property should exist in their persons; for
it is obvious, from experiment, that authority cannot otherwise be
established, or the necessary labour performed to produce an adequate
return. While this invidious exigency obstructs the immediate manumission
of the slave, it does not the less accelerate it, agreeable to the sound
and humane policy adapted to his condition; but, on the contrary, is
necessary to his complete emancipation; for he must first be taught the
nature of the blessings of freedom, his intellectual faculties must be
expanded, and the veil of barbarism gradually removed, to prepare him to
participate in its enjoyment.

The system of colonization which I, with all submission, submit to the
legislature, and to my country, is this:

1st. To employ natives in whom a recognition of property shall exist, as
unavoidable from the present condition of Africa.

2d. To procure them from as wide an extent of the most powerful nations and
tribes upon the sea coast, as is practicable, and from the Slatees or slave
merchants from the interior countries.

3d. That a requisite number of these should be fit for the present purposes
of labour, and for an immediate initiation into the mechanic arts, as
applicable to the local circumstances of the colony, and the useful
purposes of life.

4th. That a proportionate number of males and females should form the
complement, from the age of 5 to 7 years, and be placed in a seminary of
instruction, under the inspection of the government of the colony, and
under tutors approved of in England.

5th. That this establishment of a seminary of instruction in Africa, under
the administration of the colony, shall have for its bases the initiation
of these children, as calculated to their sexes, into the rudiments of
letters, religion, and science, and the progressive operation of education
adapted to the useful purposes of life.

6th. That when thus prepared, the necessary avocations of domestic economy,
agriculture, and mechanics, employ the next period of their existence,
under the superintendence of the European colonist.

7th. When arrived at the period of mature years, and thus instructed, to
become the object of legislative enquiry and investigation as to their
attainments, character, fidelity, and mental improvement.

8th. That such as produce clear testimonials of capacity, knowledge, and
acquirement, become immediately objects of manumission.

9th. That all proceedings in this process of education and emancipation,
become matters of record in the colony, subject to such control and
investigation as his Majesty's Government may, in its wisdom, appoint, from
time to time, to guard against the corruption and prejudices of the
legislative authority of the colony.

10th. That thus endowed, they are to be dismissed to their respective
countries and nations, employed as agents in various capacities of
civilized pursuit, and to promote the commercial and agricultural views of
the colony, and disseminate their allurements among their tribe, which,
under the direction of the unerring dispensations of divine providence,
might, in process of time, diffuse civilization and Christianity throughout
the utmost region of Africa, its inhabitants become members of civilized
and Christian society, and their country, in process of time, be extricated
from its barbarism.

It is for the legislature to devise a system adapted to the colonies,
calculated to their local situations, and to remove the invidious
distinction now subsisting between the African there, and in his native
country; by these means the entire Negro race may participate in the
blessings of civilization and revealed religion, in every quarter where our
extensive dominion and influence exist.

By adopting the _first proposition_, a sufficient authority would be
maintained to enforce the labour necessary to produce profit, and competent
to excite emulation, which is a powerful passion in the character of the
African; for in every effort he discovers a strong spirit of competition.

Through the medium of the 2d proposition, the natives of an extentive
district would be collected under the instruction of the European colonist,
and, in process of time, would become the happy instruments of initiating
their, tribe or nation into the arts of civilization, and in promoting the
commercial interests of the colony, which may eventually be diffused
throughout Africa.

By the 3d expedient, an adequate portion of effective labourers would be
obtained to commence vigorous operations.

In consequence of the 4th, 5th, and 6th, a portion of children of both
sexes would be procured at a moderate rate, in their unadulterated
condition, who would be susceptible of any impressions, free from the
control of their parents, and the contamination of their example, into
whose tender minds might be instilled the principles of moral virtue,
religious knowledge, and the civil arts of life.

Through the adoption of the 7th and 8th, the objects of humanity might be
realized, and slavery, with the slave trade, make a natural exit from the
shores and country of Africa.

By the 9th, the corrupted and interested endeavours of the colonists to
retard the work of emancipation would be controlled; and, by the patronage
of Government, pecuniary resource and support be obtained, in aid of
individual and corporate endeavours, the requisite population from the
parent state acquired, and the indispensible authority established to
secure success to any further attempts at colonization upon the coast of

And through the 10th expedient, an extended population would enjoy the
advantages of instruction and example, and our ascendency and commerce be
increased by a rapid process, which would predispose the natives to throw
open the avenues of their country to our enterprize and research.

Thus may the long seclusion of the African from the light of truth and
revealed religion be annihilated, his inveterate jealousies allayed, his
nature regenerated, and his barbarism fall before the emanations of
enlightened existence. In the interim, an unobscured path to the interior
of his country will be opened, and our commerce therewith flow through a
less polluted channel; while the Negro, now the victim of barbarism in his
native land, may be extricated from his thraldom, and received into the
circle of civilized life, which he has hitherto been excluded from, and to
which providence, without doubt, in its mysterious and incomprehensible
administration of human affairs, has designed him to arrive at.

[Footnote 1: A portion of them being destined to domestic slavery, as
victims to revenge, and as sacrifices to their barbarous customs.]


_What the Author conceives should be the System of Establishment to make
effectual the Operations from Cape Verde to Cape Palmas.--Reasons for
subjecting the Whole to one Superior and controlling Administration.--The
Situations, in his Estimation, where principal Depots may be established,
and auxiliary Factories placed, &c. &c._

What I have already said respecting the coast from Cape Verde to Cape
Palmas, may be sufficient to convey a tolerably just and general idea of
the religion, customs, and character of the inhabitants, the commercial
resources with which it abounds, and the system to be pursued to unite
commerce with the claims of humanity in one harmonious compact.

I am persuaded there is no situation on the Windward Coast of Africa more
calculated, or more advantageously situated, than the river of Sierra Leone
to influence and command an enlarged portion of the continent of Africa.

This part of Africa, as ascertained by Mr. Park, communicates, by its
rivers to the Niger, and introduces us to the interior of this great
continent; and, from other sources of information, Foolahs, Mandingos, &c.
I am enabled to confirm the statement given in one of the reports of the
Sierra Leone Company, that from _Teembo_, about 270 miles interior to the
entrance of the Rio Noonez, and the capital of the Foolah king, a path of
communication exists through the kingdoms of Bellia, Bourea, Munda, Segoo
(where there are too strong grounds to believe that the enterprising spirit
of Mr. Park ceased its researches in this world), Soofundoo to Genah, and
from thence to Tombuctoo, described as extremely rich and populous. The
distance from Teembo to Tombuctoo the natives estimate at about four moons'
journey, which at 20 miles per day, calculating 30 days to each moon, is
equal to 2,400 miles. This distance in a country like Africa, obscured by
every impediment which forests, desarts, and intense climate can oppose to
the traveller, is immense; and when it is considered that in addition to
these, he has to contend with the barbarism of the inhabitants, it is a
subject for serious deliberation, before the investigation of its natural
history and commercial resources is undertaken. But it also displays an
animating field of enterprise to obtain a free intercourse with this
unbounded space, and if, at a future day, we should traverse it with
freedom and safety, the whole of Africa might thereby be enlightened, and
its mysteries developed  to the civilized world.

I have therefore conceived the expediency of submitting all the enterprises
and operations of the United Kingdom to the influence of a supreme
direction and government in the river of Sierra Leone. No doubt many
contradictory opinions may prevail upon this subject, and upon the outline
I have previously submitted on the most eligible plan of introducing
civilization into Africa; but the detail of all my motives and reasons
would occupy too large a space; I shall therefore proceed to instance some
local circumstances and political reasons why I make the proposition.

From what I have said respecting the path which Smart, of the Rochell
branch of the river Sierra Leone, has now under his authority, and can open
and shut at pleasure, communicating with the extensive country of the
Foolahs, whose king (as the Sierra Leone agents are well aware of, but who
was strangely and unaccountably neglected by them) is well disposed to aid,
by prudent application, all advances towards the civilization of his
country, it is evident that an immense commerce, extending northward to
Cape Verde, and southward to Cape Palmas, on the coasts, and from the
interior countries, might be maintained.

By light vessels and schooners, drawing from 6 to 8 feet water, a continued
activity might be kept up in the maritime situations and rivers, and a
correspondence by land might be conducted by post natives, who travel from
20 to 30 miles per day, to all parts of the interior countries.

From the Island of Goree a correspondence with the river Gambia, and a
watchful vigilance over the settlement of the French in the Senegal would
be maintained both by land and sea, which, with a well chosen position,
central from Cape Sierra Leone, to Cape Palmas, would combine a regular
system of operation, concentrating in the river Sierra Leone. In addition
to these three principal depots, it would be requisite to establish
factories, and places of defence to the northward, on the rivers Scarcies
and Kissey, at the Isles de Loss, the rivers Dembia, Rio Pongo, Rio Grande,
Rio Noonez, and Gambia; and to leeward, on the rivers Sherbro, Galhinas,
Cape Mount, Junk river, John's river, Bassau, &c. or in other commanding
positions towards Cape Palmas. The expense of these auxiliary
establishments and forts would be inconsiderable, compared with the objects
they would attain, the chief requisite being regular and well supplied
assortments of goods, and a wise system of organization adapted to

The navigation of these rivers, and habits of conciliation and friendship
with the chiefs resident upon them, and towards the interior, it may here
be perceived, are the only practicable measures, under the auspicious
control of Government, to retain our commerce with Africa, to civilize its
inhabitants, and explore its hidden wealth; and are the most favourable,
also, towards our operations in the countries on this continent; while the
various natives attached to this pursuit, would aid, by wise management, in
influencing the inhabitants, where our researches and pursuits might carry
us, and eventually conduct us to the centre of Africa, from thence to the
eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and the banks of the Nile. I trust it
will here also appear that the means of acting, and the important
advantages to be derived therefrom, are neither illusive nor impracticable.

It is to be lamented, that, in undertakings of this kind, men of limited
genius, of no experience in business, and incapable of acting with
unanimity, have been too frequently employed; who are governed more by
caprice than principle, and are consequently seldom able to reduce their
ideas into practice, and allow their passions to predominate over the
maxims of duty. Delicacy in managing the humours and interests of men is
the art requisite to successful operation.

May it be remembered, that if civilization and our ascendency prevail in
Africa, and if the first essays we make to extend our relations with that
country are successful, we attach to the civilized world one-fourth of the
habitable globe, and its infinite resources. It therefore becomes a subject
of great magnitude, to commence and form a system of operation, to collect
the means of this immense extent, and the propriety of subjecting the whole
to a similarity of views, and co-operation under one controlling

The precipitate abolition of the slave trade will reduce our affairs in
Africa, to a contracted and unproductive compass, in its present condition;
therefore if we attach any consequence to this quarter of the globe, it
will be expedient to endeavour to discover new scources [**Note: sources]
of commercial wealth and industry.

Coffee, cotton, the sugar cane, cacao, indigo, rice, tobacco, aromatic
plants and trees, &c. first offer themselves to, our attention in wild
exuberance. And these, in my humble opinion, are the only rational means to
bring Africa into a state of civilization, and to abolish slavery.

I recommend one administration under the patronage of Government, in the
Sierra Leone river, to guard against a want of unity in the number of petty
establishments that may otherwise exist on the coast, which from jealousies
and interests varying in different directions, produce operations of a
contradictory nature, and the first necessary step, is to be well
acquainted with the character and dispositions, of the natives, and the
localities of the maritime situations; for without combined enterprises, I
venture to predict we are now excluded from the commerce of Africa.

I trust that my system will be examined in all its points, with
dispassionate impartiality before it is rejected; and if others more
competent to the task, devise more eligible means to promote the views of
humanity and commerce, I shall feel happy to have agitated the subject, and
rejoice at every means, to rescue so important a matter to the interests of

The commandant of Goree, I would propose as second in command, with
delegated powers to control all the operations in the countries bordering
on the Senegal, and the river Gambia; and an annual inspection directed by
him, throughout this district. The intermediate countries from the Rio
Noonez to Cape Mount would come immediately under the examination of the
central and administrative government of Sierra Leone, and the third
division under the authority of another command at a position chosen
between Cape Mount, and Cape Palmas.

The military protection of the establishments, as I have here recommended,
would neither require great exertions, or numbers. Goree certainly claims
peculiar attention. Its fortifications should be repaired, and the guns
rendered more complete, and tanks for water should be in a perfect state to
guard against the want of this necessary article from the main land, which,
as before noticed, is liable to be cut off at any period by the enemy. The
convenience, airy and healthy construction of the barracks and hospitals,
claim the most minute attention and care. Under skilful superintendance in
these important departments, the health of the troops might be preserved,
and objects of defence realized with a very inconsiderable military
establishment. But as government must be well informed by its officers,
both military and naval in these points, it would be indecorous in me to
enlarge on the subject. Lieut. Colonel Lloyd, from his long residence, and
intimacy with a great portion of the Windward Coast, possesses ample
information. And the naval officers, who from time to time have visited it,
have, no doubt, furnished every document necessary to complete an effective
naval protection. A regular system of defence, adapted to the jurisdiction
of the Sierra Leone, and delegated establishment between Cape Mount and
Cape Palmas, are also obviously requisite. The establishments that would be
eligible for the purposes of defence, are confined to the three foregoing
principal positions, and they have little to perform that is either
difficult or embarrassing. It may not, however, be considered as going
beyond the bounds of propriety to hint, that a great portion of the
soldiers charged with defence, should be able engineers and gunners, and a
few cavalry might be occasionally found useful. To complete the entire
plan, and exclude our enemies from every point, from Cape Blanco to Cape
Palmas, the possession of the French establishment at the Isle of Louis in
the Senegal, is an abject of serious contemplation, and no doubt might be
attained with great facility by even a small force. The unhealthy
consequences to a military force attached to this place might be greatly
removed by superior convenience in the hospitals, barracks, and other
departments of residence; and in a commercial point of view, its advantages
are too well ascertained for me to obtrude any observations.

The bricks necessary for building may be procured in the country, lime from
oyster shells, &c. wood and other materials at a very inconsiderable
expense; and as the usual mode of payment, is in bars of goods, instead of
money, the nominal amount would thereby be greatly lessened.


_The Author embarks in the Ship Minerva.--Proceeds to the Rio
Pongo.--Disquisitions thereon.--Further Observations on the Inhabitants,
obtained from Natives of various Nations met with there.--The Isles de
Loss--Returns to Sierra Leone, &c._

Upon the 4th of June, 1806, I embarked at Bance Island, on board the ship
Minerva of Liverpool, bound upon a trading voyage to the Rio Pongo, and
other rivers to the northward, and on Thursday the 12th came to an anchor
at the upper forks, in the Rio Pongo, being the point at which the branches
of the _Bungra, Charleston, Constintia,_ &c. empty themselves; higher up
the river are the _Sanga_ and _Bashia_ branches, occupied by a chain of
factories, and inhabited by various nations and tribes. The principal
factories for trade are on the Constintia, about 40 miles up the river, Mr.
Cummings's factory, at Ventura; Mr. John Irvin's, at Kessey; Mr. Benjamin
Curtis's, at Boston; Mr. Frasier's, at Bangra; Mr. Sammo's, at Charleston;
Mr. David Lawrence's, at Gambia; Mr. Daniel Botefeur's, at Mary Hill; Mr.
Ormond's, Mr. Tillinghurst's, Mr. Gray's, in the Bashia branch; with
various others of inferior consideration.

During my stay on this river, I visited the whole of these branches, and in
addition to personal investigation, I obtained much information from the
various conductors of these factories, and had a variety of opportunities
of communicating with many of the natives from the interior countries, who
are drawn hither by the extensive commerce of the Rio Pongo. In my
excursions on this river, I was generally accompanied by Captain William
Browne, of Liverpool, who was part owner of the Minerva, and had the sole
management of the concerns of her voyage; and I am happy to give him this
public testimony of the many obligations he conferred upon me, while on
this part of the coast, which unceasingly continued until my arrival in
England, by the way of the West Indies.

The countries bounded by the Rio Pongo and the Gambia, are inhabited by the
Nilloes and various tribes, who carry on a considerable trade with that
river, the Rio Noonez, and Rio Grande, and inland to the two latter, is the
powerful nation of the Foolahs, possessing an extensive country, about 200
miles in breadth from north to south, and 400 miles from east to west.
Teembo, the capital of the Foolah king, is about 270 miles inland from the
entrance of the Rio Noonez. The paths for trade and communication with the
interior, from this position, are at the king's pleasure, and he opens and
shuts them by his mandate. The Foolahs are tall, well-limbed, robust and
courageous, grave in their deportment, are well acquainted with commerce,
and travel over an astonishing space of the country. Their religion is a
mixture of Mahomedanism, idolatry, and fetishism. One of their tenets,
which inculcates the destruction of those they term infidels, is peculiarly
friendly to slavery, and as the greater part of their neighbouring tribes
are of that description, they are continually practising every violence,
and, are frequently engaged in wars. When I suggested to a chief of very
considerable intelligence, and one of the Foolah king's head men, whom I
met in the Rio Pongo, the enormity of their injustice to the surrounding
tribes, and how displeasing it was to the God they prayed to, his reply
was, "True, this be bad fashion to Foolah, or Mandingo man, but these
people we make war against never pray to God, nor do we make war with those
who give God Almighty service." While this barbarism exists, and the slave
trade is continued, humanity will have to, bewail the miserable condition
of the African slave. For this, and various other reasons that might be
urged, and considering the position and extensive influence of the Foolah
nation, their king claims a high consideration in a combined scheme of
establishment upon the coast.

So impressed was this chief, of the beneficial advantages to be derived
from agriculture, that he tendered land, cattle, men, &c. to the agents of
the Sierra Leone Company, only requesting from them, in return, a delegated
superintendance; but, strange to tell, this disposition was not cultivated
nor improved; nor was the further offer of the king of Laby, and his high
priest, to place their sons under the protection of the Company, to be sent
to England and educated. A more important step could not have been taken to
attain the object of the Directors, than this of attaching the Foolah
nation to their interest.

The women of this nation are handsome, and of a sprightly temper, and their
countenances are more regular than those of the common Negroes; the hair in
both men and women is much longer, and not so woolly, but they have a most
disgusting custom of forming it into ringlets, bedaubed with oil and
grease, which gives them a very barbarous appearance. The Foolah tongue, is
different from that of the surrounding nations, and its accent is more

To the southward of the Rio Pongo, to Sierra Leone, lie the countries of
the Bagoes, Soosees, Mandingos, Timminees, and Boolams, all idolaters
except the Mandingos, who, like the Foolahs, associate in their religion a
mixture of fetishism and Mahomedanism. The Timminees are a more harmless
race of men than any of the other _infidel_ nations, and their dispositions
are more calculated to industrious avocations than their neighbours.

I have already noticed the Mandingos, but, as I consider this nation and
the Foolahs of the first consequence, from their power and influence over
the other nations of this part of the coast, I shall add a few more
observations upon them.

From what I have before stated, it will appear that the Mandingos are a
numerous people in Africa, gaining a daily influence and authority in the
district now under consideration. Besides the tribes of this people who
inhabit the countries between the Soosees and Timminees, there are various
others established in the country of Bambouk, and on the borders of the
Gambia, but the great body occupy an extensive territory above the sources
of that river.

The empire of the Mandingos is not, however, so considerable as that of the
Foolahs, but from their increasing influence over the western countries,
from their docile and cunning dispositions, their knowledge in merchandize,
and acquirements in book-knowledge, their power must, in process of time,
be greatly increased; and it will be of the utmost moment to civilize them,
in order to acquire an influence over the more barbarous states.

Notwithstanding the cunning and dissimulation which characterizes these
people, they are generous, open, and hospitable, and their women are
aimiable and engaging: they are more zealous Mahomedans than the Foolahs;
their colour has a mixture of yellow, but their features are more regular
than the other nations of Africa which I have seen. The Foolahs, the
Mandingos, and the Joliffs, bordering on the Senegal, are the most handsome
Negroes on this part of Africa; the hair of the latter, however, is more
crisped and woolly, their nose is round, and their lips are thick; this
nation, in particular, is blacker than those approximating towards the
line; nor are the Negroes in the Krew coast, and towards Palmas, so black
as the nation I now speak of; which may tend to prove, that the colour of
the Africans does not arise from a vertical sun, but from other physical
causes yet unknown.

There is a characteristic feature between the Mahomedan nations of Africa,
particularly those from the shores of the Mediterranean (whom I have seen
in my travels in that quarter) which, with their almost universal
profession of the Mahomedan religion, sanctions the idea, that this part of
the coast has been peopled from the eastern parts of the continent; but the
visible difference in religion, complexion, and feature, of the nations
towards Cape Palmas, give rise to other conjectures. An obvious difference
may be observed among these numerous nations; their language and their
customs are various, and are frequently without affinity or relation. From
the shores of the Mediterranean to this part of Africa, the majority of the
nations are Mahomedans, but towards Cape Palmas they are gross idolaters,
with a mixture Mahomedanism and superstition; many of them erect temples,
and dedicate groves to the devil. I have seen several of these, which
exhibit no outward sign or object of worship, but consist of stumps of
trees, in a circular form, covered with leaves, or a thatched roof, in the
centre of which stands a square altar of mud, without any image of
adoration. The reason assigned by them for their  omission in this
instance, is, "that they never look the Devil or evil spirit, therefore
they do not know how to make any thing like him." To the good spirit they
neither make offering nor sacrifice, considering it as unnecessary to
obtain his favours, from his disposition to do nothing but good, which of
course he will administer to them.

From every thing that I have observed, I conceive that idolatry, and fetish
worship, is the predominant religion of Africa, and that Mahomedanism has
been propagated by the Moore and Arab's. It may not here be unopportune to
introduce the Mandingo man's prayer, which I obtained from a very
intelligent  chief of that nation: viz.

_Mandingo Arabic_.

Subbohanalahe Rabila'ademy
abodehé. Subbohanala rabila
Allah. Subbohana arabe. Inye
allamante, nafuse wa amutate
sue wakefurella. Teyatelillahé
tebates allivatuelub lahey.
Sillamaleko ayo hanabehé, obara
katolahe Sullamalina Ihannabé,
lebadelahe Saliheneé"

The address to Mahomet follows,

Sahadala elahe idillaha
Mahomedo, arasoolo lahi
man Mahomedo aboodaho.

_In their idiom of English._

God lives and, is not dust.
God be master of all and is
above his slaves. God knows
his slave, and is not made of
earth; but above all. (Before
the next sentence, Subbohana
arabe, &c. he bows twice.)

Suppose I die, I can look you
to-morrow, and thank you, and
be out of trouble, and free from
the Devil.

(Teyatelillahé, &c. accompanied
by a motion of the fingers)

I beg in my prayers again,
God, I may die to day, I look to
thank you again to-morrow,
my people and family may
then get into trouble, and I
then pray to you.

To Mahomet.

Mahomet be man, born of
woman, the prophet of God,
and speak to him for man.

In this system of prayer there is a mixture of fetishism, Mahomedanism, and
a strong analogy to the Christian system; and it is no inconsiderable
argument in favour of the mediation of the Saviour, that in the worship of
heathen nations a mediator is uniformly associated with the object of
adoration. Virgil in his Aeneid, and other classic writers, illustrate a
belief of the ancient heathens in the omniscience of the deity, and they
clearly elucidate the importance they attached the mediatorial efficacy of
offerings and sacrifice.

The form of worship adapted to the foregoing prayer, is to squat down upon
the ground, placing the palm of their hands  flat thereon twice, touching
the earth the same number of times with their foreheads; then rubbing their
arms from the wrist to the elbow, with that which is contracted by this
operation, when the hands are applied to the face, and the forefingers put
into the ears.

I have dwelt more minutely upon this people and their present condition
compared with the Foolahs, because I consider these nations have it much in
their power to shut and open the  paths of intercourse with the interior
countries, therefore they become of importance, in the contemplation of any
pursuits upon this district of Africa.

The Mandingoes inhabiting Galam, and the countries interior to the Gambia,
carry on the principal trade with those of Bambouk, &c. where gold is
procured.  This precious metal is obtained from the surface of the earth,
and from the banks of  the falls of the rivers in the rainy season; it is
first washed in a calabash; and when the water is poured off, the dust, and
sometimes large grains remain. The natives have no idea of mining;  but it
appears from hence, that mines of this metal must exist, which are
concealed thro' the want of the arts of civilized life. The Mandingoes
speak of these countries with a great air of mystery, and are extremely
jealous, lest Europeans should obtain  any information relative to them: as
they carry on almost exclusively, this branch of commerce.

When I was in the Bashia branch of the Rio Pongo, a meteor of an
extraordinary kind appeared for two successive nights, directing its course
from NE. to SW. which put the natives in a most dreadful state of
consternation; the women fell into loud lamentations, the men beat their
drums, and sent forth the most horrid yells; imagining, that this barbarous
uproar would drive away the object of their fears. In eclipses of the sun
and moon, they repeat their prayers and sacrifices, with the same clamour,
under the notion that it will frighten away the monster which they suppose
to obscure these planets from their view. These superstitious notions have
the most powerful influence over the Negro's mind, and it is impossible to
dissuade or reason him out of them.

From all I have stated, the great importance of these countries, to open an
intercourse with the interior of Africa, must appear. On the borders of the
Rio Pongo, and other rivers, excellent lands, forming hill, and dale, are
every where to be found, and well adapted to agricultural experiments. With
the _consent of the chiefs_, these might be obtained at a small expense,
and many of them with whom I have communicated, would gladly embrace a wise
interference; but they all complain, "white man not know their fashion,"
intimating in very forcible language, that every caution should be used, at
innovation upon their laws, customs, and manners. Let example first excite
their admiration, and their barbarism will bow before the arts of
civilization, and slavery be gradually abolished.

Before I conclude this chapter, I shall make some observations upon the
temperature of the western countries of Africa, situated between Cape Verde
and Cape Palmas, mention the principal diseases, and those which Europeans
are most exposed to on their first arrival in these countries, and give
general precautions against the dangers of the climate, &c.

The inexhaustible fecundity of Africa holds out to Europeans strong
excitements to enterprise and research; but in the pursuit, the diseases
which prevail in this country should be well understood; and it would be
highly expedient, in any plans of colonization, to attach a medical staff,
as the natives have no idea of the art of surgery, except what arises from
the knowledge they have of the properties of herbs, and the superstitions
attached to their fetishism. In annexing this extraordinary country to the
civilized world, and exploring its stores of wealth, a burning climate, and
the diseases peculiar thereto, unite with the barbarism of its inhabitants
in opposition to the European; but by a strict observance of necessary
rules, and avoiding all kinds of excess, the formidable influence of the
sun may be resisted, and the pernicious effects of exhalations, which arise
from a humid, marshy, and woody country, may in a great degree be obviated;
and I am sorry to say, that for want of proper precaution and through
ignorance, fatal consequences more frequently occur, than from the
unhealthiness of the climate.

The temperature from Cape Verde to Cape Palmas is extremely various from
the vertical rays of the sun, the nature of the soil, and the face of the

In the months from November to March, by Fahrenheit's thermometer, it has
been from 70° in the morning, to 90° at noon, in the shade; and nearly the
same variation has been observed at the river of Sierra Leone; and in some
places in the Foolah country it has been from 50° to 90°

From July to October, the mean temperature in the river Gambia, by
Fahrenheit, has been from 90° in the morning to 100° at noon in the shade,
and during the same months at Sierra Leone from about 92° to 106°; but a
variety of local circumstances may give a greater or less degree of heat:
this however may serve to give a general idea of the temperature of these
countries. The island of Goree, for example, the island of Bance, and the
bay of Sierra Leone, are more healthy, enjoying the cooling sea breezes,
more than situations in the rivers more interior. The banks of all the
rivers in Africa, which I have visited, are enclosed by impenetrable
forests, marshes, and the closely combined mangrove tree, and it is but
seldom that the land forms an uneven dry surface on their borders.
Instances however in the Sierra Leone, Rio Pongo, &c. occasionally occur,
when the most picturesque scenery adorns the river.

From May to August, hurricanes or _tornados_, before described, prevail
upon the Windward Coast, and this phenomenon is to be met with from Cape
Verde to Cape Palmas. The months from November to March are remarkable for
the prevalence of east and north-east winds. When these winds, which are
called _harmatans_, set in, they are accompanied with a heavy atmosphere,
and are of a dry and destructive nature. Every description of vegetation is
blasted by their influence, and every object, animate and inanimate, feels
their powerful effects; the skin is parched and dried, and every feature is
shriveled and contracted. The most compact cabinet work will give way, the
seams of flooring open, and the planks even bend. Furniture of every sort
is distorted; in short, nothing escapes their dreadful power. The nights at
this period are cool and refreshing.

The months of July, August, September, and October are rainy, from the
equator to about the 20th degree of north latitude. Towards the equinoxial
they begin earlier, and make their progress to windward, but the difference
throughout the whole of the north tropic fluctuates little more or less
than 15 or 20 days. When the rains commence, the earth, before parched up
and consolidated into an impenetrable crust, by the powerful influence of
the sun and a long period of drought, is immediately  covered with vermin
and reptiles of all sorts, creating a moving map of putrefaction. The
natives ascribe to these many of their diseases; but a further cause may be
added, namely, the great change from heat to cold, and the variations at
this season.

The powerful influence of the sun, which at this period is almost vertical,
quickly dissipates the clouds which obscure the sky, and produces an almost
insupportable effect; but new clouds soon condense, and intercept the solar
rays; a mitigating heat follows; the pores are compressed, and prespiration
ceases. Variations succeeding so rapidly, are attended with the most
serious effects, and the most fatal consequences. And, lastly, the noxious
exhalations arising from the inaccessible forests and marshy swamps which
abound in Africa, and from numerous animal and vegetable remains of the dry
season, which cover the soil every where, are productive of putrid
effluvia. These rains, or rather periodical torrents of water, which
annually  visit the tropics, invariably continue for about four months of
the year, and during the other eight it rarely happens that one single drop
falls; in some instances, however, periodical showers have happened in the
dry season, but the effects of these are scarcely perceptible on
vegetation; the consequence is, that the surface of the earth forms an
impervious stratum or crust, which shuts up all exhalation.

When the rains cease, and the heat of the sun absorbs the evaporations from
the earth, which have been so long concealed during the dry season, a most
offensive and disgusting effluvia is produced, which then fastens upon the
human system, and begets diseases that in a short time shew their effects
with dreadful violence; and no period is more to be guarded against than
when the rains cease, for the intense heat completely impregnates the
atmosphere with animalculae and corrupted matter.

The principal complaints which attack Europeans are, malignant nervous
fevers, which prevail throughout the rainy season, but they are expelled by
the winds which blow in the month of December; from hence these _harmatans_
are considered healthy, but I have heard various opinions among medical men
on this subject. Dr. Ballard (now no more), whose long residence at Bance
Island, and in Africa, and whose intimate acquaintance with the diseases of
these climates, peculiarly qualified him to decide upon the fact, was of
opinion, most decidedly, that the _harmatan_ season was not the most

When this malignant fever takes place in all its virulence, its
consequences are the most disastrous; the symptoms are violent and without
gradation, and the blood is heated to an increased degree beyond what is
experienced in Europe; the ninth day is generally decisive, and this is a
crisis that requires the most vigilant attention and care over the patient.
I speak this from personal experience. In consequence of the fatigues I
underwent in the Rio Pongo, and other rivers, and having been for several
days and nights exposed to an open sea, and to torrents of rain upon land,
I was seized with this dreadful disorder, although I had enjoyed an
uninterrupted state of good health before, and on my arrival at the colony
of Sierra Leone was unable to support myself on shore; and had it not been
for the kind attention and skilful prescriptions of Dr. Robson of that
colony, with the friendly offices of Captain Brown, I should, in all
probability, at this stage have finished my travels and existence together.
Dysenteries frequently follow this fever, which are of a very fatal
tendency, and sometimes the flux is unattended by fever. This disease is
not uncommon in persons otherwise healthy, but it is productive of great
debility, which requires a careful regimen; if it continues to a protracted
period, its consequences are often fatal. In my own case, a dysentery
followed the fever, and reduced me to a mere skeleton. The dry belly-ache
is another dangerous disease, accompanied by general languor, a decrease of
appetite, a viscous expectoration, and fixed pain in the stomach. Opium is
considered an efficacious medicine in this disease, and is administered
with great perseverance, accompanied by frequent fomentations. An infusion
of ginger drank in the morning has frequently good effects. Flannel assists
excretion, and is found beneficial. _Tetanos_ is also another disease
peculiar to Africa, and is a kind of spasm and convulsive contraction, for
which opium is the usual remedy.

The Guinea worm is another disease among the natives, which is productive
of tumours upon the body and limbs, productive of great pain, and is a
contagious disease. This, however, is a subject without my province, and
which has been ably treated upon by gentlemen, whose profession fully
qualified them for the investigation. In addition to the many valuable
treatises upon tropical diseases, from high authority, I would recommend
Dr. Winterbottom's publication to the reader, as, embracing highly
important local information upon the diseases of the Windward Coast.

I have only touched on those which have more immediately come within my
personal observation. Too much care cannot be taken by Europeans in
drinking, and even washing in the waters of Africa, which should always
undergo a filtering preparation, and I am persuaded that great
circumspection should be used in this respect: these and other precautions,
with a generous, but regular system of living, would no doubt tend to
diminish the fatal tendency of diseases in Africa.

Without doubt, a series of professional observations and enquiry into the
temperature and periodical variations of the climate of Africa, and its
diseases, would be attended with the most important advantages to the
science of physic, and might ultimately prove of incalculable consequence
in preserving the valuable lives of our brave soldiers and sailors, exposed
to all the ravages of tropical climates. Advantages that are well worth the
attention of government, which would train up a body of physicians and
surgeons, initiated into the mysteries of the diseases peculiar to those
countries, which might tend to preserve a large portion of human beings of
the utmost consequence and importance to the state; and it might form a
part in the organization of colonial establishments, to attach thereto an
institution of this nature.


_The Author visits the Isles de Loss.--Remarks on those Islands.--Touches
at the River Scarcies.--Arrives at the Colony of Sierra Leone.--Embarks for
the West Indies--Lands at the Colony of Demerory.--Some Observations on the
Productions of that Colony, Berbice, and Essequibo, and on the Importance
of Dutch Guiana to the United Kingdom, in a political and commercial View._

On the 4th of July, I rejoined the Minerva at the Palm Trees, and on the
5th we weighed and passed the bar of the Rio Pongo, steering our course for
the Isles de Loss; and on the 6th came to an anchor off Factory Island.

The Isles de Loss, in the Portuguese language meaning Islands of Idols, are
so called from the idolatrous customs of the natives, and are seven in
number; Tammara, Crawford's, Factory, Temba, White's, Goat, and Kid
islands. Tammara is the largest, but very difficult of approach, and has
few inhabitants; Crawford's has two factories for trade, belonging to
gentlemen formerly in the service of the Sierra Leone Company; and Factory
Island has an American establishment, conducted by a Mr. Fisk, These are
the principal (the others being little more than barren rocks), and they
abound in vegetation and natural productions. Squilly, or the sea onion, to
which great medicinal qualities are ascribed, grows in great abundance in
these islands, and might be procured in almost any quantity. Dr. Lewis, in
the _Materia Medica_, or _Edinburgh Dispensary_, describes the peculiar
qualities of this root.

The positions of these islands are excellent for trade, but exposed to the
predatory excursions of the enemy, who have frequently pillaged the
factories established in Crawford's Island.

On the 9th we again got under weigh, steering our course for the entrance
into the river Scarcies. The night was attended by tremendous peals of
thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain: we continued off and on until the
12th, when we arrived outside Mattacont Island, bearing E. by S. and the
Isles de Loss in sight. At 2 P.M. I accompanied Captain Brown, with five
hands, in the pinnace, with the intention of running into the Scarcies
river. We sailed with a fresh breeze in expectation of gaining the entrance
by the approach of night; but we were obliged to anchor in the open sea,
amidst the most awful peals of thunder, while the whole heaven displayed
nothing but vivid flashes of lightning. Amidst this tremendous scene,
exposed to the mercy of the waves, with the prospect of being deluged by
rain, we secured our little bark and ourselves, in the best manner our
circumstances would admit, and committed ourselves to the all protecting
care and disposal of Providence. The mantle of night was soon spread around
us, the scene was grand and solemn, and we were at length hushed to rest by
the jar of elements, and the murmurs of the ocean. We awoke to contemplate
an azure sky, and the all-bountiful mercy of the Creator, in preserving us
from such imminent danger, to pursue our destination through breakers,
shoals, and sands.

At day-light, with a breeze from the land, we weighed, and steered our
course S.S.E. for the Scarcies bar, but the wind shifting to the S.E. and
the ebb tide running strong, we were nearly driven out of sight of land; we
were therefore obliged again to anchor, and wait the change of tide.
Trusting to a sea breeze that had just set in, it being slack water, we
again weighed: the serenity of the weather did not long continue, but soon
increased to a brisk gale, accompanied by thunder, lightning and rain; we
were driven with great impetuosity through the narrow channel between the
bar and the shore, and from the shallowness of the water, the rollers
continually broke over our heads, threatening our destruction every moment.
Providentially we surmounted these dangers, and at 5 P.M. entered the
river, which is interspersed with islands and picturesque objects, that
could not be viewed without interest. I have been thus minute in describing
this excursive voyage, that others, whose business may hereafter lead them
to this river, may profit by the difficulties we experienced in this
critical and dangerous passage. We were obliged to come to an anchorage in
the river during the night, under a very violent rain, and the next day
arrived at Robart, the factory of Mr. Aspinwall.

This gentleman, whom a previous acquaintance had induced me to visit,
received us with great hospitality and kindness. From a residence of
upwards of 32 years on the coast, he possesses much intelligence and
valuable information relative to this part of Africa, and I am indebted to
him not only on this, but on former occasions, for many interesting

The factories of trade in this river are,

 Mr. Aspinwall,      Robart.
 Boatswain,          A black chief and trader, above Robart.
 Mr. Lewis,          Rocoopa, attached to Bance Island.
 Mr. Gordon,         Thomas's Island, ditto.

With a variety of small factories attached to those of Mr. Aspinwall.

On the 15th we took leave of Mr. Aspinwall, and embarked on board a
schooner he had the kindness to furnish us with; and after a very tedious
and tempestuous passage, arrived at Sierra Leone on the 21st, having had
contrary winds to contend with; whereas with a favourable breeze, the
passage is usually performed in a few hours.

Here I was attacked with the epidemic fever of Africa, and experienced the
medical assistance and friendship I have previously noticed.

In an exceedingly exhausted state, but much recovered, I again embarked on
board the Minerva, where I had a second attack of the fever, accompanied by
dysentery, which reduced me to the lowest state of existence; and after one
of the most distressing and disagreeable voyages I ever experienced, we
arrived in Demerary roads after a passage of 71 days, and, by the
providence of the Almighty, we escaped both disease and the enemy.

A few hours after we came to an anchor I went on shore, and I verily
believe that the passengers and spectators suspected they had received a
visitation from the world of spirits. When I reached the house of Mr. Colin
McCrea, Captain Brown's consignee, the unaffected and gentlemanlike
reception I met with, both from him and his lady, with their subsequent
kind conduct, can never be effaced from my memory. Captain Brown soon
joined us, and in the most engaging terms we were invited to become inmates
with Mr. McCrea and his partner, which we availed ourselves of during our
stay in Demerary. A few days after, I became acquainted with Mr. Alexander
McCrea, brother to my kind host, and as soon as my health would permit,
visited him at his plantation, the Hope, 11 miles from Stabroke, the
capital of the colony of Demerary. In this society, and from other
quarters, I was favoured with various information upon the situation of the
colonies in Dutch Guiana, and their importance in a political and
commercial point of view.

The colonial produce of Demerary, Essequibo, and Berbice, chiefly consists
in sugar, coffee, cotton, rum, and molasses; but the richness and fertility
of the soil is capable of raising any tropical production; new sources
being daily unfolded, of the immense wealth derivable from these colonies,
and their great importance to Great Britain. The following example,
extracted from the Custom House reports, may elucidate this in a striking

In the June fleet of 1804, consisting of sixty sail of various burthen and
tonnage, there were exported, viz.

      17,235  Casks of sugar.      203  Casks coffee.
         442  Barrels do.       39,701  Barrels cotton.
       3,399  Puncheons rum.       336  Hhds. molasses.
   8,668,885  lbs. wt. coffee.

Calculating sugar at £20. per cask, and £3. per barrel; rum 150 guilders,
or £12. 10s. per puncheon; coffee 1s. per lb.; cotton £20. per bale of 3
cwt; and molasses a guilder, or 1s. 8d. per gallon, the total amount will
be upwards of £1,600,000.

This immense export has since progressively increased, and colonists are
only wanting to augment it to an inconceivable extent. How valuable then do
these colonies become, and of what importance are they, in any negociation
with the enemy.

Unquestionably under the fostering care and guidance of British
jurisprudence, they would produce an accumulated export infinitely beyond
the present computation, and be productive of increasing wealth to the
merchant, and revenue to the country.

The lands are still more fertile proceeding towards the interior, and being
thinly inhabited, are attainable with great facility, and are extremely
various in their productions.

At this period these valuable possessions were nearly in a defenceless
state, having a very inadequate and feeble military force to defend them,
and being almost without naval protection; they had literally only an armed
brig and schooner, built and set a float by the colony of Demerary, to
guard an extensive coast, and an immense property.

In addition to the foregoing enumeration of commerce, indigo, pepper,
cacoa, or chocolate nut, &c. may be raised to great amount. Of the latter,
an individual planter at Berbice, from a nursery of 500,000 trees had
138,000 bearing ones in 1806, which when gathered in, calculating 5lb. to
each tree, will reimburse him in the sum of £32,000.

Retrospectively viewed, it will appear that the colonies of Dutch Guiana
are of the utmost importance to the revenue, and wealth of Great Britain.
If any consequence is attached by government to the West Indies, and it
would be preposterous to infer that there is not, these become of great
magnitude in the estimation of our colonial possessions, and if they are to
revert to their former proprietors, it evidently should be for no mean
equivalent; and it is but justice to say, that when I was in this part of
the world, the apparent negligence in the protection and jurisdiction of
these possessions, by the administration of the day, had so far alienated
the minds of the inhabitants, that their reversion to the former government
did not appear to be a subject which would excite their regret; although
they were originally predisposed in favour of Great Britain.

Contemplating also Dutch Guiana in our present state of warfare, and
viewing it, from its contiguity, as an alliance of magnitude to French
Guiana, the Brazils, and the Spanish settlements of South America, from
whence, in the existing situation of Europe, the insatiate ambition of our
inveterate enemy derives an important sinew of finance, which nerves his
arm in wielding the sword against the liberties and the existence of the
United Kingdom, they become infinitely enhanced, and are of still more
momentous consideration.

Indisputably their possession would tend much to facilitate the British
dominion in this lucrative portion of the globe, which might lead to a
decisive termination of hostilities, and the permanent establishment of
honourable tranquillity.

On the morning of the 30th of October I took my grateful leave of my
hospitable host and his family; and, accompanied by my trusty friend,
fellow voyager and traveller, Captain Brown, I embarked at noon on board
the ship Admiral Nelson, the command of which he had taken, accompanied by
about 20 sail of vessels under convoy of his Majesty's sloop of war, the
Cygnet, commanded by------Maude, Esq.

Touching at Tobago, where our fleet was augmented, we came to an anchor in
the harbour of Grenada, on the 5th of November, and remained there until
the 9th.

The history of this island, with that of the West Indies in general, is so
well known, that it would be delaying my readers unnecessarily, for me to
obtrude my observations. One anecdote, however, which among a variety of
experiments, I made to ascertain the sentiments of the Negroes in the
colonies, may prove, in a high degree, their sentiments upon their present
condition. When I mentioned to them some spot, or some head man in their
country within their recollection, with the utmost extacy they would say,
"eh! you look that, massa?" I then assured them I had, and described the
pullam, or palm tree, in their native town: the effect of this remembrance
was instantaneous, and demonstrated by the most extravagant expressions of
delight. Conceiving that I had attained my object, and being persuaded that
the transportation of these people was an oppressive transgression against
their natural rights, I added, "I had fine ship, I go back to their
country, and obtain leave from massa, to let them go look their country;" a
sudden transition from extravagance to grave reflection followed; "I,
massa, me like that very well, me like much to look my country; but
suppose, massa, they make me slave, me no see my massa again; all the same
to me where I be slave, but me like my massa best, and I no look my country
with you."

Among every class with whom 1 have conversed on this subject, I have
uniformly received a similar answer, and it is a convincing proof that, by
humane treatment, the condition of the slave is improved, not only by his
transportation to the colonies, but in his own estimation.

It may be interesting to notice, that at the island of Grenada, I had an
opportunity of correctly ascertaining the truth of a statement, I had heard
from a medical gentleman of respectability at Demerary, that, that ravager
of the human species, the yellow fever, was first imported into this island
from the island of Bulam, in the Rio Grande, upon the coast of Africa, by a
ship called the Hankey, which brought away the sickly colonists from that
unfortunate expedition.

On the 16th we arrived at Tortola, and on the 19th sailed with the fleet
under convoy of the La Seine frigate, and landed at Liverpool on the 6th of
January, 1806.



I have endeavoured in the foregoing pages, to introduce to my readers, the
substance of my diary of observations upon the Windward Coast of Africa.

Originally I only intended them for my own private satisfaction, and that
of my intimate friends; but on my arrival in England, I found that the
commerce of Africa was then a particular subject in agitation, among a
large portion of my fellow subjects, and the legislature of my country.

Under these circumstances, I conceived it my duty as a British commercial
subject, and as a friend to humanity, to communicate my sentiments to the
Right Honourable Lord Viscount Howick, then one of his Majesty's principal
secretaries of state; which I did in the subjoined letter. (Appendix No.
I.) Upon further reflection, and by the express wish of respectable
individuals, I have been induced to obtrude my narrative and sentiments
upon the notice of the public. I have avoided as much as possible to
magnify my personal adventures, and dangers, nor have I had recourse to the
flowing periods of description, preferring a simple narrative of facts
formed upon grounds of personal observation. From thence, if my endeavours
tend to awaken a spirit of enterprise, to enlarge the trade of the united
kingdom, and to increase the export of its manufactures, or lead to more
intelligent interference in behalf of the enslaved African, my design will
be accomplished.

To do justice to the natural history of Africa, and to introduce to the
public its various sources of commerce, would require a union of political
interests, and vigorous execution, which none but government can apply with
full effect.

The principal outline which I have endeavoured to confine myself to, is a
recital of such traits of the disposition and character of the natives, as
seem requisite to be understood to form an accurate judgment of the present
condition of Africa. The advantages that may possibly result not only from
moral, but political considerations, in forming upon sure principles,
agricultural and mercantile establishments, calculated to instruct and
civilize the Negroes employed in the necessary avocations, will unfold the
fertility of their soil which is now left to nature; and will also fulfil
the expectations of a rational humanity, while it might rapidly expel
slavery and the Slatee trade, to the establishment of civilization, and
more natural commerce. I have also endeavoured to demonstrate the
eligibility of the position of the river Sierra Leone, from whence a
controlling and administrative authority might employ the resources of the
Windward Coast from Cape Verde to Cape Palmas, at the same time submitting
solely to the wisdom of government, the propriety of annexing Senegal to
our possessions on the coast; which of course would tend to the total
exclusion of France from this part of the world.

I have besides dwelt upon such positions, as appear to me best calculated
to establish factories of trade and agricultural operation; and upon the
nations whose barbarism must first be subdued, in order to influence other
tribes, and to obtain a free intercourse with the interior, and have
pointed out those chiefs whose dispositions and influence, would greatly
co-operate to facilitate this beneficent undertaking.

The rivers I have dwelt upon, are surrounded with fertile lands and a
numerous population, and may be navigated a considerable distance into the
interior country; and by reducing all operations to one well adapted
system, under the guidance of experience, moderation, and wisdom, I am
firmly persuaded that success will be the result.

What I have said relative to the present state of the natives of Africa,
may tend to demonstrate the nature of the opposition, which civilization
has to guard against, and the barbarism it has to contend with. The
condition of a free Negro in Africa is easy and contented, and the class of
slaves attached to them, are satisfied with their fate. They only are to be
lamented, who are procured from condemnation, either for real or imaginary
crimes, or who are taken in war; and it is from this class that slaves are
procured by other nations. It is a remarkable circumstance, that the major
part of these unhappy creatures come from the interior, and that the
maritime places which have had intercourse with Europeans, afford only a
small number of slaves; and I am persuaded, abominable as the slave trade
may be considered, and disgraceful as it is, that it has saved many human
beings from a premature and barbarous death. I am also firmly of opinion,
that it is only by a _gradual abolition_, and a rational system to civilize
the inhabitants of Africa, that this detested traffic can be effectually
abolished. A rational philosophy and humanity, should first have submitted
to political necessity, and have commenced experiment upon practicable
theories, while the sacred rights of property should have been regarded,
and well considered.

This opinion may perhaps subject me to the animadversion of many worthy
individuals; but I beg to assure them, that I am as zealous an abolitionist
as any among my fellow subjects, although I widely differ from many of
them, as to the means of effecting a measure, that embraces so large a
portion of the human race; and I should contradict the conviction of my own
mind, were I to utter any other opinion.

Rectitude of intention, a lively interest in the condition of the African,
and a deep impression of the importance of this country to Great Britain,
in a commercial point of view, have actuated me in obtruding myself upon
the public; and before I take my leave, I earnestly entreat a deliberate
investigation of the imperfect system of operation, I have recommended in
the foregoing pages. If I have not been sufficiently perspicuous, I trust
the shafts of criticism will be enfeebled by the consideration, that a
commercial education and pursuit cannot claim a title to literary
acquirements; but if in any instance I meet the judgment of a discerning
public, and my suggestions excite more competent endeavours, I shall feel
the highest pleasure, and satisfaction.

Into the hands of an enlightened legislature, and a beneficent public, I
commit the Negro race; and may their endeavours be blest by Providence! may
they tend to enlarge the circle of civilized and Christian society, and
augment the commercial prosperity of the United Kingdom!


No. I.

_To the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Howick, his Majesty's late principal
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; shewing at one View the most simple
and ready Mode of gradually and effectually abolishing the Slave Trade, and
eradicating Slavery, on the Eve of his Lordship introducing the late Bill
into Parliament for the Abolition of the Slate Trade_.

                                        _London, 5th February, 1807._


Stimulated by an ardent zeal for the political and commercial interests of
my country, and animated by the principles of humanity, I venture to
approach your Lordship upon a subject which, with every deference, I
conceive to be of the most momentous consequence at the present
conjuncture, namely, the existing state of Africa, and the relative
importance of its trade to the _United Kingdom_.

In my communications to your Lordship, I shall adhere to that brevity which
is consistent with perspicuity, and a recognition of the importance
attached to your Lordship's time and weighty engagements.

If experimental knowledge, my Lord, attaches any force to the observations
I now submit to your Lordship, I have to premise, that they are the result
of recent personal investigation, and are a summary of remarks detailed in
journals of a very excursive observation on the Windward Coast of Africa,
and a peculiar facility of intercourse with the chiefs and native tribes of
a widely extended circle, from which I am returned, by the West Indies, in
the late fleet under the convoy of his Majesty's frigate La Seine, and
Merlin sloop of war.

As a preliminary introduction, permit me to refer your Lordship to the
annexed copy of a letter, (Appendix No. II.) which I ventured to address to
the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, dated 1st
May, ultimo, in which is exemplified the present state of commerce from the
Island of Goree to Cape Palmas. Vide page 54.

Conclusive as this example may be of its magnitude, yet it is infinitely
below its attainable increase. The want of naval protection, and the
patronage of government, has greatly fettered it, and exposed the property
engaged therein, to the incursions and destructive depredations of the

Connected with its present extent, the Gambia, the Rio Pongo, the river
Sierra Leone, and the rivers adjacent to Cape Palmas, abound with the
greatest variety of the most lucrative and rare objects of commercial
pursuit, namely, indigo, numerous plants for staining, pepper, cotton, and
a multifarious enumeration of dormant productions, besides timber of
various kinds, adapted to the building of ships destined to tropical
climates, having the peculiar quality of resisting the worm, so ruinous to
shipping, and corroding iron; it may be cut into planks of 20 feet by 15
inches, and may be procured in any quantity.

A retrospective view therefore, my Lord, displays a fruitful field to
commercial enterprise, to the attention of civilized nations, to the
naturalist, and to the metaphysician, requiring united interference only,
to unfold and fertilize them; which in effect, would tend to enfranchise a
kindred species, absorbed in barbarism, and preserve, uninterrupted, our
commercial advantages with this extraordinary and important quarter of the

It is, certainly, my Lord, a subject of the deepest regret to the
philanthropist, that among the Africans, a devoted race is consigned to the
galling fetters of slavery by their inhuman customs, by their barbarous
hostilities, and the commercial expedients of civilized states.

Much has been written and said, my Lord, upon this interesting subject,
from authority high in rank, in talents, and situation, but still it is
involved in a perplexed labyrinth; the attainable sources of African
commerce remain unexplored, and the inhabitants of its extensive regions
are still entangled by the thraldom of barbarous customs, and superstitious
infidelity. No efficient measures have been adopted, upon practicable
grounds, to unite the views of humanity and commerce in one harmonious
compact, compatible with the present condition of Africa, its character,
its customs, and its inveterate barbarism.

Benevolence has, unhappily, hitherto failed in its objects, through the
opposition of a peculiar mixture of passions, of obstinate ferocity, and
licentious and hereditary habits.

To subdue the inveteracy of these evils, and to establish the manumission
of the African, alluring and progressive alterations are necessary,
compatible with his present condition, under the influence of agriculture
and mechanics, adapted to the useful purposes of life, to commerce, and to

Previous to his enfranchisement, my Lord, these must exhibit before him
their facinations upon his native plains. Too impetuous and indolent to
observe the forms, or to enter into the necessary details of business, he
views the effect without investigating the cause; but when he perceives the
former, and contemplates his own comparative wretchedness, and contracted
sphere of intellect, he will be roused from his innate indolence, his
powers will be dilated, and his emulation stimulated to attain a more
exalted state of being, while his barbarism will fall before the luminous
displays of enlightened example.

Hence, to free the African, commercial and agricultural societies adapted
to the present state of the country, appear to be the most practicable
means, and the only sources of remunerative and effective influence: but as
these measures necessarily require population from the parent state, aided
by great pecuniary support, and intelligent superintendance; the patronage
of the legislature is indispensibly requisite, to aid individual and
corporate endeavours.

In pursuance hereof, imperceptible and circumspect approach at innovation
upon the laws, customs, and country of Africa, are highly expedient; the
chiefs and head men claim a primary consideration; their obstinate
predilection in favour of long-existing usage must be cajoled, the
inveteracy of their jealousies and superstitions be dexterously removed,
and their sordid avarice flattered, by the judicious maxims of policy, and
by the prospects of superior gain.

The slave trade, therefore, being lucrative, and of immemorial existence,
must, in the interim, pursue its present course, as a fatality attached to
the condition of Africa, and as a polluted alliance, which the dictates of
policy and humanity impose, until a succedaneum is found in its stead.

While this invidious exigency obstructs the immediate manumission of the
slave, it does not the less accelerate it in conformity thereto, but on the
contrary, is a necessary preliminary to his efficacious emancipation.

Before he is admitted into the political society of his master, and is
allowed to be free, his intellectual faculties must be expanded by the
example of polished society, and by the arts of civilization.

Maxims of policy, my Lord, are often apparently little consonant with those
of morality; and where an inveterate evil in society is to be eradicated,
address and delicacy in managing the humours and interests of men, are arts
requisite to success.

This consideration is applicable to the present condition of the Africans,
and may perhaps justify a farther continuance of the _slave trade_, as
compatible with its _radical abolition_.

The reasonings adopted by a numerous assemblage of chiefs, convened in the
retirement of the mountains of Sierra Leone, when _that_ company assumed a
defensive attitude, most clearly prove this grievous necessity.

In their idiom of our language they say, "White man now come among us with
new face, talk palaver we do not understand, they bring new fashion, great
guns, and soldiers into our country, but they make no trade, or bring any
of the fine money of their country with them, therefore we must make war,
and kill these white men."

This, my Lord, is an impressive epitome of the sentiments of the whole
country, and hence the impolicy of illuminating their minds and abolishing
slavery, in order to erect a system of reformation upon an invidious base
in the estimation of the governing characters of the country.

With every deference, my Lord, to the wisdom and benevolence which framed
the constitution of the Sierra Leone Company, I would observe, that had
they adopted the following measures, they would before now have been far
advanced in their scheme of reformation.

1st. They should have employed their funds in the established commerce of
the country. 2d. Have purchased slaves from as _wide an extent_ of native
tribes as was practicable; they should have employed them in that capacity,
under the superintendence of the European colonist; have initiated them
into the arts of agriculture and useful mechanics, manufactures, and
navigation, and have instructed them in the rudiments of letters, religion,
and science, &c.

3d. having arrived at this state of civilization and knowledge, their
_graduated manumission_ should have proceeded in proportion to their
fidelity and attainments.

And, lastly, being thus qualified, they should have employed them as the
agents to their tribe, to make known to them the arcana of wealth in their
country, dormant through hereditary barbarism and superstitious idolatry,

From the adoption of the first proposition, a facility of intercourse with
the interior and native tribes would have been acquired, and also a
knowledge of the genius, policy, customs, manners, and commercial resources
of the neighbouring nations.

By the 2d, the seeds of science would have been disseminated throughout an
extended district, and a spirit of industry and enquiry would have been
infused, which, by imperceptible degrees, under the guidance of Providence,
might eventually have been spread throughout the most remote regions of

By means of the 3d, the objects of humanity would have been realized.

And by the progressive influence of the last, a system of civilization and
commercial enterprize would have been diffused, and an equivalent, in
process of time, been obtained, consistent with the cogency of existing
circumstances, and the African's present state of being.

By adopting this system, my Lord, the maxims of sagacious policy, and the
claims of humanity, upon practicable principles, may be united, and adapted
to the present condition of Africa, while our commerce therewith will be
invigorated and encreased, and will flow without interruption through a
less polluted channel; the seclusion of the African from the refined arts
of society be annihilated, his jealousies allayed, his nature regenerated,
his barbarism fall before the advantages of enlightened existence, and his
enslaved customs make their natural exit, together with the slave trade,
from his shores and his country.

How animating is this contemplation, my Lord, to the beneficence of
enlightened nations, and how worthy of the magnanimity of a British
government to effect!

In the interim, my Lord, new and accumulated sources of commerce, &c. will
remunerate the parent state in a manner more congenial with the natural
rights of mankind, while a monumental column will be erected to humanity,
which will perpetuate its exalted benevolence, and excite the admiration
of, and be an example to, the civilized world; but if Africa is abandoned
by Great Britain, it will be subject to the rapacity of other nations, who,
_to my personal knowledge_, are _now_ directing their views towards its
commerce in the contemplation of that abandonment, and who will, no doubt,
seize it with avidity, as being highly lucrative and important; while the
African's chains will still clink in the ears of the civilized world, his
fetters be rivetted more closely, and his miserable fate be consigned to
the uncertainty of human events.

Finally, permit me to assure your Lordship, that I am wholly uninfluenced,
and that I am, at this moment, ignorant of the present opinions of men in
Europe upon this interesting subject, as I have just arrived in England,
and have been excluded for some time past from any other scene but that of
personal observation in Africa.

I have considered the subject with deep interest, and finding the momentous
question upon the eve of being agitated by the legislature, I have
conceived it my duty, as a British commercial Subject, to give every
information to your Lordship, within my personal knowledge, and have,
therefore, obtruded my thoughts upon you; and if your Lordship deems a more
detailed and systematic view of my journals of any interest, I am ready to
unfold them with the utmost alacrity. In the interim, I am,

                           My Lord,
                  Your Lordship's most obedient
                        humble servant,

                                        JOSEPH CORRY.

No. II.

   _To the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,_
        _referred to in the foregoing Letter to Lord Howick._

         _Bance Island, River Sierra Leone, Coast of Africa,_
                           _May 1st, 1806._


That consideration which has uniformly distinguished your Lordships for the
safe-guardianship of our commerce, and the property engaged in it,
stimulates me to approach your Lordships with some few observations on the
present state of the African trade, and its dependencies.

My object is, to submit to your Lordships a statement of the British
capital involved in that commerce, as exemplified by the present amount of
export, diligently ascertained from the most authentic sources of
intelligence, and to offer some brief remarks on its importance to the
United Kingdom, and the necessity of a more adequate naval protection.

In the first place, permit me to solicit your Lordships' attention to the
estimate of annual export from the Windward Coast of Africa. (Vide page

Your Lordships will perceive, that the amount of export _only_ is here
under review; and I submit to your consideration the capital vested in the
necessary shipping, also the property of British factors, resident on the
Coast, and factories belonging to merchants at home, which forms another
article of great importance.

During the present war, from the Rio Noonez to the river Sierra Leone, 660
slaves, and more than the value of 100 slaves in craft, have fallen into
the hands of the enemy; which were forcibly seized upon the premises of
factories, the property of British subjects, to the amount of 35,000_l_. at
the computation of 50 each, valuing them upon an equitable average:
moreover, about one hundred resident free people have been involved in this
violence, of incalculable importance, and ground of indefinite claims from
the natives.

When your Lordships contemplate these facts, and the annual emolument
derived from this commerce by the government, and a numerous body of
merchants, it may be presumed that its magnitude is of sufficient
consequence to justify the expense of _adequate naval protection_.

British subjects connected with, and resident on, the Coast, are
consequently become deeply interested, and are earnestly solicitous for an
extension of your Lordships' paternal care towards their possessions. The
principal amount, as before shewn, necessarily in the progress of business,
passes into currency through their hands, which, with the surplus property
they have in their stores, their buildings, and people, creates a momentous
risque, which is exposed to the predatory ravages of piccaroon privateers,
and to the hostile squadrons and depredations of the enemy.

With all due retrospective reference to your Lordships' vigilance and
watchful guardianship over our commerce, I take the liberty to remind your
Lordships, that only one sloop of war, the Arab, (the Favourite being
taken) has been charged with the important office of defending an extent of
coast of upwards of 1000 miles, against the sweeping hand of the enemy; an
example of which has fatally occurred in the late destruction effected by
Commodore L'Hermitte's squadron, to the very serious injury of many British
merchants, and perhaps the ruin of many underwriters upon African risques.

From the apparent approaches the legislature appears to make towards an
abolition of the slave trade, the object of consideration for the defence
of the coast of Africa may have become of less comparative magnitude; but
when upwards of one million in export from thence, and its enumerated
appendages, are entangled, and at imminent hazard, an animated and
impressive appeal is made your Lordships for every practicable security,
while it remains in existence; and to the legislative wisdom, for a
remuneration commensurate thereto, in the event of its annihilation.

Trusting that your Lordships will deign to recognize the importance of this
subject, and will vouchsafe to pardon my temerity in assuming to suggest to
your Lordships' wisdom the expediency of establishing a more adequate and
permanent naval force for the protection of the trade and coast of Africa,
I am,

                          My Lord,
               Your Lordship's most obedient
                   devoted humble servant,

                                        JOSEPH CORRY.

No. III.

When the foregoing narrative and observations were prepared for the press,
the original minutes from whence the following Appendix is compiled, had
not come to hand, as they remained with a part of my papers, which I have
since received from the coast of Africa.

The substance of these miscellaneous fragments I shall divide into
sections, descriptive of the different subjects to which they allude, and
it may be found that they illustrate more fully many of the foregoing
remarks upon the Windward Coast of Africa.


_Of the Purrah_.

Among the singular customs of the inhabitants of Africa, there exists in
the vicinity of the Sierra Leone, and more particularly among the mixed
tribes of the Foolahs, Soosees, Boolams, &c. an institution of a religious
and political nature. It is a confederation by a solemn oath, and binds its
members to inviolable secrecy not to discover its mysteries, and to yield
an implicit obedience to superiors, called by the natives the _Purrah_.

As it is dangerous to enquire from the natives, and consequently difficult
to procure information on this subject, conjecture must supply the want of
oral and ocular testimony; but what I have here advanced I had from an
intelligent chief, who was a member of the society, who, I am nevertheless
convinced, preserved  his integrity, in communicating the following
particulars, as I never could induce him to touch upon any part of the
mysteries, which he acknowledged to exist, but spoke of them with the
utmost reserve.

The members of this secret tribunal are under the supreme control of a
sovereign, whose superior, or _head man_, commands by his council, absolute
submission and authority from the subordinate councils and members.

To be admitted into the confederacy it is necessary to be thirty years of
age; and to be a member of the grand _purrah_, fifty years; and the oldest
member of the subordinate _purrahs_ form those of the sovereign _purrahs_.

No candidate is admitted but at the recommendation and responsibility of
members, who imprecate his death, if he betrays fear during his initiation
into the ceremonies, or the sacred mysteries of the association; from which
females are entirely excluded.

Some months elapse, in the preparation for admission, and the candidate
passes through the severest trials, in which every dreadful expedient is
employed to ascertain his firmness of mind, and courage.

The candidate is conducted to a sacred wood, where a place is appointed for
his habitation, from which he dares not absent himself; if he does, he is
immediately surrounded and struck dead. His food is supplied by men masked,
and he must observe an uniform silence.

Fires, during the night, surround these woods, to preserve them inviolate
from the unhallowed steps of curiosity, into which if indiscretion tempts
any one to enter, a miserable exit is the result.

When the trials are all gone through, _initiation_ follows; the candidate
is first sworn to secrecy, to execute implicitly the decrees of the
_purrah_ of his order, and to be devoted to the commands of the _sovereign

During the process of initiation, the hallowed woods resound with dreadful
howlings, shrieks, and other horrid noises, accompanied by conflagrations
and flames.

This secret and inquisitorial tribunal takes cognizance of crimes and
delinquencies, more especially witchcraft and murder; and also operates as
a mediator in wars, and dissentions among powerful tribes and chiefs. Its
interference is generally attended with effect, more particularly if
accompanied by a threat of vengeance from the _purrah_; and a suspension of
hostilities is scrupulously observed, until it is determined who is the
aggressor; while this investigation takes place by the sovereign _purrah_,
as many of the warriors are convoked, as they conceive necessary to enforce
their judgment, which usually consigns the guilty to a pillage of some
days. To execute the decree, they avail themselves of the night to depart
from the place where the sovereign _purrah_ is assembled, previously
disguising their persons with hideous objects, and dividing themselves into
detachments, armed with torches and warlike weapons; they arrive at the
village of the condemned, and proclaim with tremendous yells the decree of
the sovereign _purrah_. The affrighted victims of superstition and
injustice are either murdered or made captives, and no longer form a people
among the tribes.

The produce arising from this horrid and indiscriminate execution of the
decrees of this tribunal is divided equally between the injured tribe, and
the sovereign _purrah_; the latter share is again subdivided among the
warriors employed in the execution of its diabolical decree, as a
recompense for their zeal, obedience, and promptitude.

The families of the tribes under the dominion of this infernal confederacy,
when they become objects of suspicion or rivalry, are subjected to
immediate pillage, and if they resist, are dragged into their secret
recesses, where they are condemned, and consigned to oblivion.

Its supreme authority is more immediately confined to the Sherbro; and the
natives of the Bay of Sierra Leone speak of it with reserve and dread: they
consider the brotherhood as having intercourse with the _bad spirit_, or
devil, and that they are sorcerers, and invulnerable to human power. Of
course the _purrah_ encourages these superstitious prejudices, which
establish their authority and respect, as the members are numerous, and are
known to each other by certain signs and expressions. The Mandingos have
also their sacred woods and mysteries, where, by their delusions and
exorcisms, they prepare their children for circumcision.

The Soosees, inhabiting the borders of the Rio Pongo, have a species of
_purrah_, which gives its members great consequence among them; but their
ceremonies are kept also with inviolable secrecy, and they are bound by
horrid oaths and incantations. These people seem to delight in
disseminating improbable tales of their institution, and their invention
appears to be exhausted in superstitious legends of its mysteries.

The Timmanees have an inquisitorial institution called _bunda_, noticed in
page 72, to which women only are subjected. The season of penitence is
superintended by an elderly woman, called _bunda_ woman; and fathers even
consign their wives and daughters to her investigation when they become
objects of suspicion. Here is extracted from them an unreserved confession
of every crime committed by themselves, or to which they are privy in
others. Upon their admission they are besmeared with white clay, which
obliterates every trace of human appearance, and they are solemnly abjured
to make an unequivocal confession; which if not complied with, they are
threatened with death as the inevitable consequence. The general result is
a discovery of fact and falsehood, in proportion as their fears of
punishment are aroused, which the _bunda_ woman makes known to the people
who assemble in the village or town where the _bunda_ is instituted. If she
is satisfied with the confession, the individual is dismissed from the
_bunda_, and, as is noticed in Chapter VII. an act of oblivion is passed
relative to her former conduct; but where the crime of witchcraft is
included, slavery is uniformly the consequence: those accused as partners
of her guilt are obliged to undergo the ordeal by _red water_, redeem
themselves by slaves, or go into slavery themselves.

When the _bunda_ woman is dissatisfied with the confessions, she makes the
object sit down, and after rubbing poisonous leaves, procured for the
purpose, between her hands, and infusing them in water, she makes her drink
in proportion to its strength. It naturally occasions pain in the bowels,
which is considered as an infallible evidence of guilt. Incantations and
charms are then resorted to by the _bunda_ woman, to ascertain what the
concealed crime is, and after a _decent_ period employed in this
buffoonery, the charges are brought in conformity with the imagination or
malignity of this priestess of mystery and iniquity.

During the continuance of this engine of avarice, oppression, and fraud in
any town, the chiefs cause their great drum and other instruments of music
to be continually in action, and every appearance of festive hilarity
pervades among the inhabitants, accompanied by the song and the dance.

Contumacy, or a refusal to confess, is invariably followed by death.

In short, the bewildered natives feel the effects, and dread the power of
these extraordinary institutions; they know they exist, but their
deliberations and mysteries are impenetrably concealed from them; and the
objects of their vengeance are in total ignorance, until the annihilating
stroke of death terminates their mortal career.

It is impossible to contemplate the religious institutions, and
superstitious customs of the western nations of Africa, north of the
equator, without closely assimilating them with those of Ethiopia and
Egypt; and from hence to infer that a correspondence has existed between
the eastern and western inhabitants of this great continent.


_Of the_ Termite, Termes, _or_ Bug a Bug, _as it is called by the Natives
upon the Windward Coast of Africa._

Among the insects mentioned in page 36, the _termite, termes_, or _bug a
bug_, attracts peculiar notice. The following observations are derived from
the investigations I occasionally made upon the Island of Tasso, attached
to Bance Island, where they abound, and indeed in nearly all the western
countries of Africa.

The oeconomy of nature, and the wisdom of Providence, are wonderfully
displayed in these little animals; for although they occasion the utmost
devastation to buildings, utensils, and all kinds of household furniture
and merchandize, and indeed every thing except metal and stone, yet they
answer highly important purposes in demolishing the immense quantity of
putrid substances, which load the earth in tropical climates.

Their astonishing peculiarities cannot fail to excite the notice of an
attentive observer; the sagacity and ingenuity they display in their
buildings, their industry, and the plunder and devastation they commit, is
incredible to those who have not witnessed their communities and empires.
They are divided into innumerable societies, and acknowledge a king and
queen, the former of which I brought to Europe, but the latter was by
accident mislaid at sea. Linnaeus denominates the African _bug a bug,
Termes_, and describes it as the plague of the Indies. Every community, as
I have observed, has a king and queen, and the monarchy, if I may be
allowed the expression, forms three distinct orders of insects, in three
states of existence; of every species there are likewise three orders,
which differ very essentially in the functions they have to perform, and
are in appearance very different.

In their primitive state, they are perfectly white; they have six little
feet, three on each side, and a small head, in which I could perceive no
eyes, after a minute investigation with a microscope. In this state they
supply the community with provisions from subterraneous cavities, fabricate
their pyramidical buildings, and may with great propriety be called

In a few weeks they destroy the largest trunks of trees, carry away all
descriptions of putrid substances, and particles of vegetable decay, which,
in such a climate as Africa, amply compensates for the ruin which they
otherwise occasion.

Their buildings are contrived and finished with great ingenuity and
solidity, to a magnitude infinitely beyond the erections of man, when a
comparative dimension of size is considered.

They are usually termed hills, and are generally in a conical form, from 10
to 12 feet in perpendicular height, and frequently upwards of 100 feet
square in the base.

For a considerable period, vegetation is banished from the surface of their
abode, but from the second to the third year, it becomes like the
surrounding soil. The exterior forms a crust, which shelters the interior
from the weather, and the community from the attacks of enemies. The
interior is divided into almost innumerable chambers or apartments, with
amazing regularity and contrivance; in the centre of which is the royal
residence of the king and queen, composed of solid clay, closely compacted,
and distinct from the external habitation, which accommodate their
subjects. It appears that the royal erection is the first which occupies
the attention of the labourers, as it is central in the foundation of the
hill which composes the empire at large. This makes its first appearance
above the surface of the earth in various turrets, in the form of a sugar
loaf, from which they increase their number, widening them from the base;
the middle one is the highest and largest, and they fill up the spaces as
they proceed, until the whole is formed into one.

This compact construction is admirably adapted to guard against external
violence, and to preserve a genial warmth and moisture to cherish the
hatching of the eggs, and the young.

The queen is by far the largest, and has an unwieldy body, of enormous
dimensions, when compared with her subjects; so also is the king, but
inferior in size to the queen.

The royal residence is a full constructed hill, surrounded by an
innumerable number of others, differing in shape and dimensions, arched in
various forms, circular, and elliptical, which communicate by passages,
occupied by guards and attendants, and surrounded by nurseries and
magazines. But when the community is in an infant state, these are
contiguous to the royal residence; and in proportion as the size of the
queen increases, her chamber is enlarged, and her attendants and apartments

The construction of the outward apartments which surround the central royal
residence, that of the _common father_ and _mother_ of the community, form
an intricate labyrinth of nurseries and magazines, separated by chambers
and galleries, communicating with each other, and continuing towards the
surface of the pyramid; and being arched, they support each other, and are
uniformly larger towards the centre.

The second order of _termes_ are like the first, blind and active, but they
undergo a change of form, approaching to the perfect state; they are much
larger, and increase from about a quarter of an inch in length to half an
inch, and greater in bulk; and what is still more remarkable, the mouth is
armed with sharp claws, and the head is disproportionably enlarged. They
may properly be called the nurses and warriors of the kingdom; they urge
their fellow subjects in the _first_ state to labour, they inspect the
construction of the interior apartments, repel all attacks from enemies,
and devour them with fury; and may be considered as the standing army of
the state.

In the third and last stage, they are winged; their bodies then measure
about 7/8ths of an inch in length, furnished with four brownish transparent
wings, rather large; they have eyes also of a disproportionate size,
visible to the observer. When they make their appearance in this state, it
is indicative of the approach of the rainy season. At this period they
procreate their species.

They seldom wait before they take wing for a second or third shower; and
should the rain happen in the night, the quantities of them which are found
the next morning upon the surface of the earth, and on the waters, more
particularly upon the latter, are astonishing. The term of existence at
this stage is extremely short, and frequently on the following morning
after they have taken flight, they are surprisingly weakened and decreased;
at the utmost I do not think they live more than two days; and these
insects, so industrious, courageous, and destructive in the two first
periods of their existence, become the prey of innumerable enemies.
Indolent, and incapable of resisting the smallest insects, they are hunted
by various species from place to place, and not one pair in millions get
into a place of safety, to fulfil the laws of nature and propagation.

Their wings in a short time fall from them, and the ponds and brooks are
covered with their carcases. The Negroes in many places collect them in
their calabashes, dry them, and fry them on a slow fire, which they
consider as a delicious morsel.

A few, however, escape the general dissolution, several pairs of them are
found by those of the first genus, as they are continually moving over the
surface of the earth, and are carried by them to found new kingdoms and
communities. The royal mansion is then erected, as before described, their
wings fall off, and they pass the remainder of their existence in indolence
and luxury, and in the propagation of their species. Their dimensions now
undergo a monstrous change, more especially the queen; her abdomen augments
by degrees, and increases to a prodigious size, when compared with her two
first stages of existence; and the king, although greatly augmented, yet is
diminutive compared to his enormous spouse, who sometimes exceeds three
inches in length. She is in this state extremely prolific, and the matrix
is almost perpetually yielding eggs, which are taken from her by her
attendants, and are carried into the adjoining nurseries.

The foregoing is a very imperfect delineation of this wonderful insect,
which requires the minutest description by an experienced and scientific
naturalist to illustrate clearly; and there are many secrets in the natural
history of this little animal that would amply reward his investigation
upon the different circumstances attending its existence.

Those that build in trees, or erect pyramids, have a strong resemblance to
each other, and pass through the same stages to the winged state, but they
are not of so large a size as the foregoing; and it is a very singular
circumstance, that of all these different species, neither the labourers
nor soldiers expose themselves to the open air, but travel in subterraneous
vaults, unless when they are obstructed and impelled by necessity; and when
their covered ways and habitations are destroyed, it is wonderful how
quickly they will rebuild them. I have frequently destroyed them in the
evening, and have found them re-erected on the following morning.

When a pair, in the perfect state, is rescued from the general devastation
which attends these little animals, they are by the two first species
elected king and queen, and are inclosed in a chamber, as before described,
around which a new empire is formed, and pyramids are erected.

That species which builds in trees, frequently establish their abode in
houses also, which in time they will entirely destroy, if not extirpated.
The large kind, however, are more destructive, and more difficult to guard
against, as their approaches are principally made under-ground, and below
the foundation; they rise either in the floors, or under the posts, which
in African buildings support the roof, and as they proceed, they form
cavities towards the top, similar to the holes bored in the bottom of ships
by the worms, which appear to answer the same purpose in water as the
_termites_ do upon land. How convincing is this fact of the infinitely wise
arrangements of the Creator, who has united, in the whole system of
creation, one uniform conformation of order and utility; for although the
_vermis_, or worm, which is so pernicious to shipping in tropical climates,
and the _termite_, possess so many destructive qualities, yet these very
properties serve the most important purposes and designs. Scarcely any
thing perishable on land escapes the _termite_, or in water, the worm; and
it is from thence evident, that these animals are designed by nature to rid
both of incumbrances, which in tropical climates would be attended with
putrefaction and disease.

The first object which strikes the attention, and excites admiration, upon
opening and investigating the hills of the _termites_, is, the conduct of
the armed species, or soldiers; when a breach is made by a pick-axe, or
hoe, they instantaneously sally forth in small parties round the breach, as
if to oppose the enemy, or to examine the nature of the attack, and the
numbers increase to an incredible degree as long as it continues; parties
frequently return as if to give the alarm to the whole community, and then
rush forth again with astonishing fury. At this period they are replete
with rage, and make a noise which is very distinguishable, and is similar
to the ticking of a watch; if any object now comes in contact with them,
they seize it, and never quit their hold until they are literally torn in
pieces. When the violence against their habitation ceases, they retire into
their nests, as if nothing had happened, and the observer will
instantaneously perceive the labourers at work, with a burthen of mortar in
their mouths, which they stick upon the breach with wonderful facility and
quickness; and although thousands and millions are employed, yet they never
embarrass the proceedings of each other, but gradually fill up the chasm.
While the labourers are thus employed, the greatest part of the soldiers
retire, a few only being discernible, who evidently act as overseers, and
at intervals of about a minute, make the vibrating noise before described,
which is immediately answered by an universal hiss from the labourers, and
at this signal they redouble their exertions with encreased activity.

In minutely examining these hills, great obstacles present themselves to
the observer; the apartments and nurseries which surround the royal
habitation, and the whole internal fabric, are formed of moist brittle
clay, and are so closely connected, that they can only be examined
separately, for having a geometrical dependance upon each other, the
demolition of one pulls down more; patience is therefore exhausted in the
investigation, and it is impossible to proceed without interruption; for
while the soldiers are employed in defending the breach, the labourers are
engaged in barricading the different galleries and passages towards the
royal chamber. In one apartment which I dug out from a hill, I was forcibly
struck with their attachment and allegiance to their sovereigns; and as it
is capacious enough to hold a great number of attendants, of which it has a
constant supply, I had a fair opportunity offered for experiment, I secured
it in a small box; and these faithful creatures never abandoned their
charge; they were continually running about their king and queen, stopping
at every circuit, as if to administer to them, and to receive their

Upon exposing their different avenues and chambers for a night only, before
the next morning, provided the king and queen are preserved, and their
apartments remain, it will be found that they are all shut up with a thin
covering of clay, and every interstice in the ruins, through which either
cold or wet could communicate, filled up, which is continued with
unremitting industry until the building is restored to its pristine state.

Besides these species, there are also the _marching termites_, of an
encreased size, who make excursions in large bodies, and spread devastation
in their way; but as my means of observation upon them was only accidental,
it will be intruding an imperfect description to notice them at all; but if
we form a conclusion from the immense number of _termites_ which everywhere
abound in Africa, we shall be tempted to believe that their procreation is
endless and unceasing.

When the papers came to hand which contained the substance of these remarks
upon this extraordinary insect, I did not intend to annex them to the
Observations on the Windward Coast of Africa, nor am I without some doubt
as to the propriety of so doing; the observation of the learned
_naturalist_ only can ascertain the economy of the _termite_, or _bug a
bug_, and I have therefore to apologize for obtruding these imperfect and
general remarks.


_Of the Cameleon_.

The cameleon is a native of the torrid zone, and is a genus of the lizard:
the faculty of assuming the colour of every object it approaches is
ascribed to it, and other singular properties; but there are many rare
phoenomena not so well understood, such as its absorption and expulsion of
air at pleasure, its property of living a considerable time without any
kind of nourishment, and its extraordinary visual advantages, which are
perhaps not to be found in any other of the wonderful works of the

I have made various experiments to ascertain these extraordinary properties
in this little animal; and I brought home one in a preserved state.

The first object which struck my attention, was the variation of colour;
and I am persuaded that it does not assume these from the surrounding
objects, but that they proceed from internal sensations of pain, or

From the moment that the liberty of my captive was infringed upon, or when
interrupted in its pursuits, it became less sensible of external objects,
the vivacity of its colour, and the plumpness of its form underwent a
visible change. Its natural colour is a beautiful green; and when in a
state of liberty it is to be found in the grass, or lodged on the branches
of some tree, ornamented with the gayest foilage; and it would appear that
its liberty, and the privilege of living in the grass, are indispensible
towards the preservation of its qualities. The colour of its skin, in a
perfect state of health, is scarcely discernible from the trees and grass,
in which it delights to conceal itself, and is not to be discovered at all
without a very minute scrutiny. It remains immoveable for a length of time,
and its motions are all cautious and slow, continuing to loll out its
tongue, which is long and glutinous, in order to secure the little insects
that are necessary to its nourishment; and I doubt not but it has an
attractive influence over its prey, for I have observed them continually
floating around the cameleon, when scarcely discernible in any other space.
When the tongue is covered with a sufficient quantity it draws it in
instantaneously, and by incessantly repeating the operation, all the
insects within its reach are taken in the snare.

That its health and existence depend upon being in the grass, I am
persuaded, from the change occasioned by placing it in gravel or sand, when
it immediately assumes a yellow tinge, its form is reduced considerably,
and the air expelled, with which the body of this animal is inflated, so as
visibly to reduce the size. If they are irritated in this situation, they
expell the air so strong as even to be heard, gradually decreasing in size,
and becoming more dull in colour, until at length they are almost black;
but upon being carried into the grass, or placed on the branches of a tree,
they quickly assume their wonted solidity and appearance.

The victims of my observation I have frequently wrapped in cloth of various
colours, and have left them for a considerable time, but when I visited
them I did not find that they partook of any of the colours, but uniformly
were of a tarnished yellow, or greyish black, the colours they always
assume when in a state of suffering and distress, and I never could succeed
in making them take any other when in a situation of constraint. The skin
of the cameleon is of a very soft and delicate texture, and appears to the
observer similar to a shagreen skin, elastic and pliable; and it may be
owing to this extraordinary construction that it changes its colours and
size with that facility which astonishes us; but what may be considered as
a more wonderful faculty is, its expanding and contracting itself at
pleasure, and, as it were, retaining the fluid in an uniform manner, when
in health, but exhaling it when in a state of suffering, so as to reduce
its dimensions to a more contracted size. Its peculiar organization is
such, that the atmospheric air which it inhales so generally throughout
every part of its body, distends and projects even its eyes and
extremities. I have frequently seen it after many days fasting become
suddenly plump, and continue so for a fortnight, when immediately it became
nothing but a skeleton of skin and bone.

The tenuity of its body is at these seasons astonishing, the spine of its
back becomes pointed, the flesh of its sides adhere to each other, and
apparently form one united subsance, when it will, in a few hours, at
pleasure, resume its rotund state; and this appears to me to be a most
extraordinary circumstance in the construction of this animal, which
invites the minutest research of the naturalist.

To convince myself how far the assertion might be admitted, that the
cameleon can exist upon air, I have placed them in a cage, so constructed,
as to exclude any thing else, even the minutest insect; when I have visited
my captives, they have opened their mouths and expelled the air towards me
so as to be felt and heard. In the first stage of their privation and
imprisonment, which has continued for more than a month, I have found them
in continual motion around their prison, but afterwards their excursions
became more circumscribed, and they have sunk to the bottom, when their
powers of distension and contraction became languid and decreased, and were
never again capable of performing their accustomed transformation. The one
which I brought to England preserved in spirits, after undergoing upwards
of two months of famine, when I carried it among the grass, or placed it in
the thick foliage of a tree, in little more than a week regained its green
colour, and power of expansion; but not contented with my experiment, and
determined to ascertain it to the utmost, I redoubled my precautions to
exclude every thing but air, and my devoted victim was doomed to another
series of trial, and continued to exist upwards of a month, when it fell a
sacrifice to my curiosity.

The eyes of the cameleon may also be considered a remarkable singularity;
they are covered with a thin membrane, which nature has given it to supply
the want of eye-lids, and this membrane is sunk in the centre by a
lengthened hole, which forms an orifice, bordered by a shining circle. This
covering follows all the motions of the eye so perfectly, that they appear
to be one and the same; and the aperture, or lengthened hole, is always
central to the pupil, the eyes moving in every direction, independant of
each other; one eye will be in motion while the other is fixed, one looking
behind while the other is looking before, and another directed above while
its companion is fixed on the earth, so that its eyes move in every
possible direction, independant of each other, without moving the head,
which is closely compacted with the shoulders.

By these quick evolutions its personal safety is guarded, and it perceives
with quickness the insects and flies, which it is always entrapping by its
glutinous tongue.

Without doubt, this species of lizard possesses peculiarities well worthy
the attention of naturalists, who only can define them; what I have said I
have observed in my leisure moments, and must be considered as a very
imperfect detail of its natural history.


_Of the Interment of the Dead._

The ceremony of burial upon the Windward Coast of Africa is conducted with
great singularity, solemnity, and extravagant circumstances of condolence.

The body of the deceased is wrapped up in a cloth, closely sewed around it,
and the head is covered with a white cap of cotton, which is the colour
universally adopted in mourning. The relatives of the deceased bedaub
themselves from head to foot with white clay, upon which they form the most
disgusting figures, while scarcely a leg or an arm exhibits the same
feature. I have even seen serpents and other frightful animals delineated
with great accuracy on many parts of the body, which gives them a most
hideous appearance during the season of mourning.

When the corps has been washed, and put into a white cloth of cotton, of
the manufacture of the country, the whole is inclosed in a mat, and laid
out in state.

The corps is placed over the grave upon four sticks across, and after one
of the nearest relatives has collected all the finery with which the
deceased was accustomed to decorate himself, and that also which remains
among his family, he asks him, with expressions of sorrow, if he wants such
and such an article for his comfort in the other world, in which he is
accompanied by the remainder of his family and friends, who join in _making
cry,_ or more property speaking, in dancing and rejoicing. The following
night the dance and song is continued with demonstrations of mirth and
glee, and are kept up every successive night during that moon; and if the
deceased has been of consequence in his tribe, these extravagant acts of
lamentation continue for months together.

_On the Amusements, Musical Instruments, &c. of the Africans._

Upon all occasions of mirth or sorrow, the dance is uniformly introduced,
with monotonous songs, sometimes tender and agreeable, at other times
savage and ferocious, but always accompanied by a slow movement; and it may
with propriety be said, that all the nights in Africa are spent in dancing;
for after the setting of the sun, every village resounds with songs, and
music; and I have often listened to them with attention and pleasure,
during the tranquil evenings of the dry season.

Villages a league distant from each other frequently perform the same song,
and alternately change it, for hours together. While this harmonic
correspondence continues, and the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages
chaunt their couplets, the youth of both sexes listen with the greatest
attention and pleasure.

Among the several kinds of instruments of music which accompany the
ceremonies of mourning or mirth among the Africans, the drum is the
principal. It is made from a hard thin wood, about three feet long, which
is covered with a skin distended to the utmost. They strike it with the
fingers of the right hand collected together, which serves to beat time in
all their dances. Among the Foulahs and Soosees they have a kind of flute,
made of a hard reed, which produces sounds both unmusical and harsh: but
all the Africans of the Windward district are the most barbarous musicians
that can be conceived.

They have also a kind of guitar, formed from the calabash, which they call
_kilara_. Some of these are of an enormous size, and the musician performs
upon it by placing himself on the ground, and putting the _kilara_ between
his thighs; he performs on it with both his hands, in a manner similar to
the playing on the harp in this country.

They have another instrument of a very complicated construction, about two
feet deep, four feet long, and eighteen inches wide, which they call
_balafau_. It is constructed by parallel intervals, covered with bits of
hard polished wood, so as to give each a different tone, and are connected
by cords of catgut fastened at each extremity of the instrument. The
musician strikes these pieces of wood with knobbed sticks covered with
skin, which produces a most detestable jargon of confused noise.

Jugglers and buffoons are very common, and are the constant attendants of
the courts of Negro kings and princes, upon whom they lavish the most
extravagant eulogiums, and abject flattery. These jesters are also the
panders of concupiscense; they are astrologers, musicians, and poets, and
are well received every where, and live by public contribution.


_Concluding Observations._

It has already been observed that cotton and indigo are indigenous to the
Windward Coast of Africa. Tobacco grows in every direction, likewise cocoa,
coffee, and aromatic plants would no doubt succeed by cultivation. A trade
in raw hides might be carried on to a great extent; and the articles of
wax, gold, ivory, emery, dyes, &c. might be greatly increased. Substances
for making soap are to be found in great abundance; cattle, poultry,
different kinds of game, fish, and various animals, fruits, and roots,
abound, affording a great variety of the necessaries and luxuries of life:
and European art and industry are only wanting to introduce the extensive
culture of the sugar cane. The warmth and nature of the climate are
peculiarly adapted to the maturing this plant, and there are many
situations from Cape Verde to Cape Palmas, where this valuable production
might undoubtedly be raised to great amount and perfection.

In addition to the woods I have already named, there are many others for
building, viz. _todso, worsmore,_ and a fine yellow wood, called
_barzilla_, the _black_ and the _white mangrove_, boxwood of a superior
quality, _conta_, a remarkable fine wood for building, and various kinds of
mahogany, of a beautiful colour, and large dimensions.

It has also been observed in the previous section, that one of the musical
instruments used by the Africans of the Windward Coast, named by them
_kilara_, is formed from the calabash, a pumpkin which grows from the size
of a goblet to that of a moderate sized tub, and serves every purpose
almost of household utensils.

They divide this pumpkin into two hemispheres, with the utmost accuracy,
and it is excavated by pouring boiling water inside, to soften the pulp.
The inside is cleaned with great neatness, and they execute upon the
outside various designs and paintings, both fanciful and eccentric, such as
birds, beasts, serpents, alligators, &c.

In fine, the objects of commerce and enjoyment in this country are,
comparatively speaking, inexhaustible; and this is a part of the world
which England has hitherto strangely neglected, because its mysteries are
unknown. It only requires the happy influence of civilization, agriculture,
and natural commerce, to surprize and enrich those, who humanely and wisely
interfere to procure these blessings to its inhabitants.

The system of establishment to attain these important ends to our commerce,
and to the bewildered African, should be skilfully planned, and wisely
adapted to the _present condition_ of the country, for the _hasty
conclusion of the abolition of the slave trade never can, in its present
state, meet the views and objects of rational humanity_. Is the United
Kingdom, at this crisis, when the enormous power of our adversary has shut
the door of commerce against us in every direction where his influence and
dictates command, to abandon Africa, so abundant and versatile in its
natural productions and resources, to contingencies, and to the grasp of
other nations? Forbid it, humanity, and forbid it, wise policy! Let civil
laws, religion, and morality, exercise their influence in behalf of the
Negro race, whom barbarism has subjected to our dominion, and let the
beneficence and wisdom of Government devise a system of agriculture and
commercial operation, upon the maritime situations of Africa, as the most
effectual means to freedom of intercourse with its interior.

The operations of impracticable theories and misguided zeal have
accomplished an unqualified abolition of the slave trade, which I am
persuaded will be highly injurious to the commercial and manufacturing
interests of our country; and is a measure which humanity will have deeply
to deplore, while in its tendency it is pernicious to the African, and
auspicious to the views of France.

Without doubt the ability and energies of the _present administration_ will
be directed to avert these calamities; and amidst the _important
diliberations_ which now occupy their attention, the condition of Africa,
the wealth derivable from so important a quarter of the earth, and the
relations involved with it, will not be overlooked by them.

                   A VOCABULARY
                      OF THE

|ENGLISH     |JOLLIFF            |SOOSEE              |TIMMANEE
|One         |Ben                |Kiring              |Pen
|Two         |Yar                |Faring              |Prung
|Three       |Niet               |Shooking            |Tisas
|Four        |Nianett            |Nari                |Pánlee
|Five        |Gurum              |Shooli              |Tomát
|Six         |Gurum ben          |Shinie              |Rókin
|Seven       |Gurum yar          |Shulifiring         |Dayring
|Eight       |Gurum Niet         |Shulimashukúng      |Daysas
|Nine        |Gurum Niant        |Shulimang           |Daynga
|Ten         |Fue                |Fooang              |Tofot
|Twenty      |Nill               |Mahwinia            |Tofot Marung
|Thirty      |Fanever            |Tongashukúng        |Tofot Masas
|Forty       |Nianett Fue        |Tonganani           |Tofot Manlu
|Fifty       |Guaum Fue          |Tongashulang        |Tofot Tomat
|Sixty       |Gurum ben Fue      |Tongashini          |Tofot Rokin
|Seventy     |Gurum yar Fue      |Tongashulifiring    |Tofot Dayring
|Eighty      |Gurum Niet Fue     |Tongashulimashakung |Tofot Daysas
|Ninety      |Gurum Nianet Fue   |Tongashulimanáne    |Tofot Danygah
|One Hundred |Temer              |Kimé                |Tofot Tofot
|I           |                   |Emtang              |Eto or Munga
|Thou        |                   |Etang               |Moota or Moonga
|He          |                   |Atang               |Otto or Ken
|It          |                   |Atang               |Ree
|We          |                   |Mackutang           |Sitta or Shang
|Ye          |                   |Wotang              |Angsha
|They        |                   |Etang               |Angna
|God         |Tallah             |                    |
|The Devil   |Ghiné              |                    |
|Heaven      |Assaman            |                    |

|ENGLISH     |JOLLIFF             |SOOSEE         |MANDINGO
|The Sun     |Burham Safara       |Shuge          |Teelee
|The Moon    |Burham Safara Lion  |Kige           |Koro
|Gold        |Ourous              |               |Sanoo
|Father      |Bail                |Taffe          |Fa
|My Father   |Samma Bail          |               |
|Mother      |De                  |Inga           |Ba
|My Mother   |Samma De            |               |
|Man         |Gour                |               |Mo or Fato
|Woman       |Diguén              |               |Mooséa
|Brother     |Rak Gour            |Tarakunjia     |Ba Ding Kea
|My Brother  |Samma Rak Gour      |               |
|Sister      |Rak Diguén          |Magine         |Ba Ding Mooséa
|My Sister   |Samma Rak Diguén    |               |
|Head        |Bop                 |Hung Hungji    |Roon
|My Head     |Samma Bop           |               |
|Tongue      |Lamin               |Ning Ningje    |Ning
|Mouth       |Guémin              |Dé             |Da
|Nose        |Bauane              |Nieue          |Nung
|Bread       |Bourou              |               |Munko
|Water       |Dock                |               |Gee
|Teeth       |Guené               |               |
|Bowels      |Bouthet             |               |
|Belly       |Birr                |               |Kono
|Fingers     |Baram               |               |Boalla Ronding
|Arm         |Lokoó               |               |Boalla Same for hand.
|Hair        |Cayor               |               |
|The Beard   |Jekim               |Habe de Habe   |Bora
|White       |Toulha é            |Fihe           |Qui
|Black       |Jolof               |Foro           |Fing
|Good        |Bachna              |Fang           |Bettie
|Bad         |Bahout              |Niaake         |Jox

|ENGLISH                              |SOOSEE
|Elephant                             |Siti
|Camelion                             |Kolungji
|Horse                                |Shuoe
|Cow                                  |Ninkgegine
|Goat                                 |Shee
|Sheep                                |Juké
|Leopard                              |Shuko she
|Alligator                            |Shonge
|Parrot                               |Kalle
|Shark                                |Sark
|Honey                                |Kume
|White ant, termite, &c.              |Bugabuge
|(or Bug a bug)                       |
|The Sea                              |Baa
|Earth                                |Bohe
|Knife                                |Finé
|Shirt                                |Doma
|Trowsers                             |Wangtanji
|Brass pan                            |Tang kue
|House                                |Bankhi
|Door                                 |Dé nadé
|Day                                  |Hi
|Night                                |Qué
|Health                               |Maié langfe
|Sickness                             |Fura
|Pain                                 |Whondi, Whona fe
|Love                                 |Whuli
|Hatred                               |Niaahú
|Road                                 |Kirá
|Idle                                 |Kobi
|Hot                                  |Furi, furihe
|Cold                                 |Himbeli
|What are you doing?                  |Emung she ra falama?
|Tornado                              |Tuliakbegle
|Which way are you going?             |Esigama mung kirara
|To trade                             |Sera Shofe
|Make haste                           |Arâ bafe mafurì
|To Kill                              |Fuka fe
|To Quarrel                           |Gerì shofe
|To Sing                              |Shige sháfe
|To beat the drum                     |Fare mokafé
|Have you done?                       |Ebanta gei?
|Are you afraid?                      |Egahama?
|He is not yet gone                   |A mú siga sending
|Stand still                          |Tife ira hara
|Run                                  |Gee fé
|Leap, or Jump                        |Tubang fe
|Have you slept well?                 |Eheo keefang?
|Do you understand  Soosee?           |Esusee whi mema?
|I am hungry                          |Kaame em shukuma
|Eat                                  |Dong
|Let us go                            |Woem hasiga
|Will you go with me?                 |Esigáma em fokhera
|I have no money                      |Náfuli muna embe
|How much do you want?                |E' wama ierekong
|Sit down                             |Dokha
|How do you do                        |E'mung keé?
|Very well                            |Em melang hekeefang
|Give me some rice?                   |Málungdundundifeemma
|Here                                 |Be
|What is your name?                   |Ehili mungkee?
|I love you                           |Efanghe emma
|If you want rice I will give you some|Ha ewama málunghong eminda fuma éma
|Let us go together.                  |Meekufiring ha siga

|ENGLISH                     |JOLLIFF
|Goat                        |Phas
|Sheep                       |Zedre
|Wolf                        |Bouki
|Elephant                    |Guìé
|Ox                          |Nack
|Fish                        |Guienn
|Horse                       |Ghénapp
|Butter                      |Dión
|Milk                        |Sán
|Tiger                       |Shaglé
|Iron                        |Vina
|Millet                      |Doughoul
|Quiver                      |Smagalla
|To dance                    |Faik
|To sing                     |Ouhai
|To-day                      |Thei
|To-morrow                   |Elleck, or Mek
|Yesterday                   |Demb
|A tree                      |Garallun
|To drink                    |Nán
|To eat                      |Leck ou leckamm
|She is remarkably handsome  |Sama rafitnalóll
|Good day                    |Dhiarakio
|Good day Sir                |Dhiarakio-Samba
|Good night                  |Fhanandiam
|Come here?                  |Kahihfie
|Yes                         |Ouaa
|No                          |Dhiett
|How do you do?              |Dhya mésa?
|Very well                   |Dhya medal
|Buy                         |Ghuyendé
|Sell                        |Ghuyal
|Take                        |Diapol
|I will                      |Benguéna
|I thank you                 |Guérum nalá
|A bar of Iron               |Baravin
|What did you say?           |Loung a houche
|Can you speak Joliff?       |Dígenga Jolliff
|How much did that cost?     |Niatar ladiar?
|Give me                     |Maniman
|I love you from my heart    |Sépenata tié somo koll

|ENGLISH                |TEMMANEE                |BULLOM
|How do you do?         |Currea                  |Lemmoó
|I return you service,  |Bá                      |Bá
|or salute              |                        |
|Are you well?          |Too pay                 |Appay wa?
|Very well              |Tai ó tai               |Pay chin lin
|What is your name?     |Gnay see mooa?          |Illil é móa?
|Give me a little rice  |Song mee pilla pittun   |Knamée opillay
|                       |                        |otayk
|Yes                    |A                       |A
|No                     |Deh                     |Be
|Is your father at home?|Pa ka moo oyá roshaytee?|Appa moway lore
|                       |                        |ko killayée
|He is                  |Oéeree                  |Way lorre
|What do you want?      |Ko nyaymaee?            |Yeng yayma?
|Why do you do so?      |Ko sum kingyotteeay     |Yaywum layngalla
|I beg your pardon      |A marree moo            |Lum marra mó

|ENGLISH             |TEMMANEK            |BULLOM
|I love you          |Ee bóter moo        |A marra mo
|Let me alone        |Tuoy mee            |Y'nfolmee
|Let me go           |Teer amee           |Y'mmelmee
|Sit down            |Yeera               |Y'nchal
|I am hungry         |Durabang mee        |Nrik mi a me
|Shut the door       |Kanta kayraree      |Ingkunta fong fólootay
|Will you go with me?|Yintoo kó pey a mee?|Mo mee ko day ree
|Where are you going?|Ray mó kóay.        |Lomo koa
|Here                |Unno                |Kakée or ha
|Forward             |Kihdee              |Ebol
|Backward            |Rarung              |Wayling
|To-day              |Taynung             |Eenang
|To-morrow           |Anéenang            |Beng
|Sometimes           |Olokko ollon        |Lokkó poom
|And                 |Ray                 |Na
|Good bye            |Mang peearó         |Heepeeáró

** The foregoing Vocabulary, and imperfect number of words, may serve to
give some idea of a part of the languages on the Windward Coast of Africa.
From those accidents to which the traveller is continually exposed, I have
unfortunately lost what I am persuaded was a very accurate vocabulary of
the Jolliff, Foulah, Maudingo, Soosee, Bullom, and Temmanee tongues, which
I had arranged under the correction of a very intelligent trader long
resident upon the Windward Coast. Owing to this misfortune I have been
obliged to refer to scattered memoranda only, which I know to correspond
correctly with the document I allude to. As the Foulah and Mandingo nations
are of most consequence in attempts at civilization, I have to regret
exceedingly that I have not been able to give the languages of those
nations more at large.

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