Part 6 out of 7
under the hands of one of his wives, who was performing for him the
office of a barber; a discovery which so offended the prejudices of the
native, that he could never summon courage after that circumstance, to
look the captain full in the face.
The Duke, King Eyo, and several black gentlemen, breakfasted, and began
their trade, on board the James to-day. The form of breaking trade here
is not so ceremonious as at the Bonny, being merely done by the Duke's
visit a few days after the arrival of a vessel, when refreshments are
provided for him and his suite, after which he selects whatever goods he
wants, and the trade is then open to all his subjects.
_Sunday, 23_.--There were four guns fired in the town this afternoon,
the object of which was to announce the death of a rich old lady; as
they were not minute-guns one would suppose her relations were rejoicing
at the event which had taken place.
_Monday, 24_.--This evening I accompanied Captains McGhar, Charles,
Coxenham, and Smith, (all commanding English vessels in the river) to
visit King Eyo at Creek Town, but our visit was rather of a different
character to that which would be paid to crowned heads in Europe; in
this instance our host was the gainer, as well as the honoured party,
for his guests came amply provided with the luxuries of life, and he was
only required to furnish a few necessaries, which are also presented to
him by his subjects, or his particular slaves. The excursion, however,
procured us a little variety, and terminated satisfactorily to all
parties, but after the novelty of a first visit has passed away, there
is little interest to be found in a black town, the huts are all on the
same plan; and the streets rugged and narrow.
_Tuesday, 25_.--About noon we left Creek Town, to return on board our
respective vessels. Early in the evening we experienced a slight touch
of a tornado, which in a few hours after was followed by a very violent
one, and a good deal of heavy rain.
_Friday, 28_.--We completed our cargo of bullocks this afternoon, which
we began to receive on board the preceding day. Our whole deck was now
crowded with these animals, divided into compartments, with bamboo and
other spars, leaving only a small space in the fore and after parts to
work the vessel. There was also a platform made in the hold for a
further number. Took leave of our friends at Old Calabar, and dropped
down the river just below seven fathom point, where we anchored for the
night. Had a slight tornado this evening.
_Saturday, 29_.--Got under weigh at daylight, but were obliged to
anchor again before noon, both wind and tide being against us. We here
found the Haywood, Captain Burrel, at anchor; she was from Liverpool,
bound to Old Calabar, for palm-oil. The larger Liverpool vessels have
generally a small one, for a tender, to collect palm-oil, ebony, and
ivory, at different places on the coast, as the ships generally
remain in one river until their cargoes are complete. There was a
dreadful accident happened to one of these tenders. She was boarded by a
number of piratical blacks in canoes, belonging to an island near the
mouth of the Camaroon river, when they murdered all the trader's crew,
and after plundering the vessel of every thing they thought worth
carrying away, they got clear off with their booty.
At 5 in the afternoon we got under weigh, and at 8 crossed the bar,
where there was a heavy surf and only 15 feet water, so that we and our
live stock were in some danger. Soon afterwards we were chased, and had
two shots fired at us, being taken for a slaver escaping under cover of
the night, and when the vessel was ranging up alongside, with the
intention of pouring in a heavy fire and boarding us in the smoke, our
assailants, to their great mortification, heard the bellowing of our
oxen, and we discovered the vessel to be the Eden's tender, commanded by
our friend Lieutenant Badgeley, who came on board, when we enjoyed a
good laugh at his disappointment, in taking our horned cattle for
slaves. We soon parted company, leaving him our best wishes.
_Sunday, 30_.--Soon after midnight the weather, from being very calm and
clear, became overcast, and at 2 o'clock a tornado came on, which
continued with frequent, and most violent gusts of wind, rain, thunder
and lightning, till between five and six in the morning; our situation
was not at all enviable, as we had both the deck, and hold, crowded with
cattle. The violence and variableness of the wind soon raised a very
rough and cross sea, which frequently broke over us, making every thing
fly from side to side, and producing the greatest disorder. All this
time I was in a small moveable bed-place on deck, expecting every
instant that the sea would overwhelm us, and wash me and my bed-place
overboard, for I was in no danger of being washed out of my bed, as it
required no little management to emerge from it at pleasure. This berth
of mine was commonly called a doghouse (a box about six feet long, four
high, and two broad,) containing a mattress fitted about 18 inches from
the deck, above which there was a sliding door and curtain, scarcely
large enough to admit an ordinary sized man. I found it, however, much
more pleasant in fine weather than sleeping below, where the cockroaches
were so numerous that a large dishful might be obtained in a few
minutes, by putting a little treacle in it, to serve both for bait and
trap. I used to think, that if the old story were a fact instead of a
fiction, namely, that the Chinese make Soy of these animals, a very
lucrative trade might be carried on between them and the natives of
Our schooner was a low, sharp, fast sailing vessel, but in an irregular
sea she was tossed about like a cork. At daylight the weather cleared
up, and the day turned out fine with a moderate breeze, which died away
towards noon, when being in sight of the vessels at anchor in Maidstone
Bay, Captain Smith and I left the schooner, to pull thither in a boat,
and got on board the Eden about two in the afternoon: we also went on
board the Louisa, from Sierra Leone.
The accounts we received of our infant settlement were not so favourable
as we could have desired, not with regard to the progress of operations,
for that was greater than could be reasonably expected, but from the
sickness that had prevailed, and the consequent loss of several valuable
lives. Mr. Glover, the master of the house-carpenters, died only the
preceding evening, and it is much to be feared that the panic which took
place on the first symptom of illness, (from a deficiency of that moral
courage which every Christian ought to possess) proved more fatal than
the disease itself. This morning we had a most convincing illustration
of this fact. One of the stoutest and healthiest of our Plymouth
artificers, who exhibited no previous symptoms of illness, on hearing of
the death of Mr. Glover burst into a fit of crying, and exclaimed, "Oh
my wife! my children! I shall never see you again!" From that moment he
drooped, and in a few days died from despondency.
_Good Friday, April, 4_.--About 11 o'clock last night, the sentinel over
the provision store at Newmarket, observed a man lying on the ground,
tearing away the watling off one side of the store. On being challenged,
he rose up, either to make his escape, or to resist the sentinel, who
was advancing with fixed bayonet. In the scuffle that followed, the
culprit was wounded in his left breast, notwithstanding which he
succeeded in releasing himself from the grasp of his adversary. The
sentinel, however, returned to the charge, and following him up closely,
felled him to the earth with a blow from the butt-end of his musket.
Still, however, the thief struggled violently, and prostrate as he was,
endeavoured to bring down his opponent by seizing his legs: the soldier
was now compelled, in self-defence, to transfix his prisoner to the
ground, by running his bayonet through his left arm, until the serjeant
came up, who took him to the guard-house, whither he walked,
notwithstanding his severe wounds, and great loss of blood. His
appearance was that of a native, his body being coated with red clay,
and the fore part of his head shaved, while he wore the usual ornaments,
a girdle, and armlets, of beads: but he was soon discovered to be a
soldier of the African Corps, named Gott, who had run away four months
before, taking with him his arms, accoutrements, and clothes.
The African, schooner, sailed this afternoon, for the purpose of
procuring yams and live stock from other parts of the island, our people
having bought up the whole stock of the natives in the neighbourhood of
the settlement. We found here a few oysters on the Mangrove trees near
the sea-shore, within reach of the tide.
_Saturday, 5_.--The Eden's tender, Victoria, returned from the Old
Calabar this afternoon. A heavy tornado this evening, but as it is
almost a daily occurrence, it is scarcely worth noticing.
_Sunday, 6_.--The Eden's tender, Horatio, with Captain Harrison on
board, returned this afternoon from a week's trading voyage for stock
round the island. A seaman belonging to the Eden was drowned through
carelessness, in upsetting a small boat on leaving the Horatio. The
Victoria sailed this evening, under the command of Lieutenant Robinson,
to blockade several slave-vessels that were daily expected to sail from
the Old Calabar river.
_Monday, 7_.--The armourer of the Eden died this afternoon. I had been
myself affected with feverish symptoms during the last fortnight, but,
although so many persons were dying around me, I still maintained my
cheerful spirits, to which circumstance I attribute the restoration of
my health, which was now daily improving. I mention this solely for the
sake of impressing upon others the importance which cannot be often
urged, of not giving way to despondency in this insalubrious climate.
_Thursday, 10_.--The Fame, brigantine, arrived here on her way from the
Camaroon river, bound to Liverpool with palm-oil, which afforded us an
opportunity of sending letters to England: she sailed on _Saturday_, on
which day the Horatio filled, and sunk in Clarence Cove while in the act
of heaving down. This event occasioned much trouble, and it required the
assistance of two vessels to get her up again. The weather had been very
unsettled throughout the past week, with a tornado during some part of
each day or night.
_Monday, 14_.--The African sailed for the island of Bimbia to procure as
much stock and vegetables as they could obtain. I regretted that a
temporary indisposition prevented me from going, occasioned by a large
boil in a highly irritable state, which is very common on this coast.
_Tuesday, 15_.--Mr. Mercer, midshipman of the Eden, who had sailed from
hence in the Victoria, returned to-day in charge of the Elizabeth
schooner under French colours, with upwards of 100 slaves on board. He
had taken possession of her from the Eden's pinnace, while Lieutenant
Robinson in the Victoria, went in chase of a suspicious vessel in
The Elizabeth was said to be from Guadaloupe, but from the testimony of
her crew, and other circumstances, it appeared, that she had only got
her French captain and papers from thence, and that she had sailed from
St. Thomas's, under Spanish colours, where she engaged a part of her
crew; the rest, with her Spanish captain, having previously joined her
at Porto Rico. The Spaniard, who acted as captain in the outward bound
voyage, remained at Old Calabar, to go back in another vessel, while he
sent the Frenchman, with false papers, for the voyage home, knowing that
the Eden's tender and boat were on the look-out for him at the mouth of
_Wednesday, 16_.--Captain Owen employed himself in the examination of
the papers and crew of the schooner brought in by Mr. Mercer. A short
time before midnight, there was an alarm that a man had fallen
overboard: every exertion was made to pick him up, without success. On
inquiry, the unfortunate person proved to be Mr. Morrison, who had left
England as schoolmaster of the Eden, and who, after the death of Mr.
Abbott, was appointed acting store-keeper to the settlement. For want of
lodging on shore, he used to come on board every night to sleep. Upon
this occasion, he had laid down in the hammock netting on the gangway, a
favourite place with the young gentlemen, as most of the ship's company,
as well as the Kroomen, and black labourers, slept on the deck. It is
supposed, that on awaking, he intended going below, but being drowsy, he
mistook the outside for the inside rail, and fell into the water. He
struggled a very short time before he sunk, and it was therefore
thought, that he must have struck himself against a gun, or the side of
the vessel, in his fall.
_Thursday, 17_.--We this day hove the Horatio down alongside the Eden to
a pinnace filled with iron ballast: the pinnace sunk during the night in
a squall, in consequence of her iron ballast not having been taken out
at sunset. Eighty-one adult female slaves, and some female children,
were landed this afternoon from the Elizabeth.
_Sunday, 20_.--About two o'clock in the afternoon, Lieutenant Badgeley
arrived in a Brazilian schooner, Ou Voador (The Flying-fish), which he
had taken with 230 slaves on board.
_Monday, 21_.--The Victoria, Lieutenant Robinson, returned from Old
Calabar to-day, without having met with any further success. Landed this
afternoon, at the settlement, from the Voador, sixty male slaves, with
forty-two women and children, who were to be employed, with an allowance
of sixpence per day, and their provisions.
_Wednesday, 23_.--Fired a royal salute from Adelaide Island, in honour
of St. George's day. The African returned with stock from the island of
Bimbia. Landed sixty-four sick children, of both sexes, from the Voador,
their complaints being sore eyes, scurvy, craw-craws (itch), &c. The
black mechanics and labourers, and their wives, shewed the greatest
anxiety to take one, two, or more of these children under their
protection, although they had been previously told that they would not
receive any additional allowance for their support. One woman remarked,
that as she had left her child at Sierra Leone, she wanted another in
its place, to carry at her back; and before they obtained the Governor's
permission for the indulgence of their wishes, they took the beads off
their own necks to decorate their newly-adopted favourites. This
philanthropic disposition was happily not confined to people of colour,
(most of whom had fallen under the protection of the British flag, from
similar situations, i.e. the holds of slave-vessels), as most of the
naval, military, and civil officers, who resided on shore, also received
boys under their protection.
_Thursday, 24_.--The Wanderer, transport, Lieutenant Young, agent, from
Deptford, arrived this afternoon, with stores for this and Ascension
island; and in the evening, the sloop Lucy, from Sierra Leone, with
provisions for the settlement.
_Friday, 25_.--This afternoon, the two prizes, Ou Voador and Elizabeth,
sailed for adjudication at Sierra Leone. The African left this evening
for Old Calabar.
_Saturday, 26_.--This evening the Victoria sailed to blockade the Old
_Monday, 28_.--The French captain of the Elizabeth, having offered his
services to superintend one of the working parties of black labourers on
shore, commenced the performance of that duty this morning. The last of
the two horses brought from Sierra Leone, died to-day from a disease in
the mysenteric glands. The Munroe, an American whaling brig, arrived
this evening. Two men, who were taken ill with fever, were ordered on
board the Eden, and there were still five of the Plymouth artificers ill
with the fever on shore; one of whom was in a state of delirium. We had
likewise several seamen suffering from fever on board.
_Wednesday, 30_.--Ware, a fine boy, about fourteen years of age, whom
Captain Owen had appointed to attend me, was unfortunately taken ill
with fever to-day, which gave me great uneasiness.
_Thursday, May, 1_.--Went on shore soon after daylight, with the working
parties, attended by a new servant, and returned to breakfast. Went on
shore again before dinner, this being my accustomed routine. I
occasionally remained on shore the whole day, and sometimes at night;
but I preferred sleeping on the deck of the Eden, where, on the top of
the Captain's skylight, I weathered out many a tornado. In this
situation, I was tolerably protected by the sloped awning from the
violence of the wind and the heavy rain, by which it is always
accompanied: but even a wetting, now and then, would have been
preferable to sleeping in a close cabin, between decks, where, in spite
of every precaution, the heat was intolerable.
_Saturday, 3_.--We have had either a tornado, or heavy rain, with
thunder and lightning, at some part of every twenty-four hours since I
last noticed the weather. Another of the artificers departed this life.
We had cucumbers from the Garden of Eden for dinner.
The following is a list of the seeds that have been sown there by the
order of Captain Owen, who gave it its poetical appellation.
Many of them were planted in December, 1827.
Early York Cabbage.
Sierra Leone Plum.
Orchilla Weed, from St. Vincent's.
Do. St. Antonio.
Do. The Cape.
Fruit Stones, from England.
Canna, or Indian Shot.
Large and small Pepper.
Pride of Barbadoes.
St. Jago Lilac.
Mustard and Cress.
_Sunday, 4_.--The American brig, Munroe, whaler, sailed to-day, on her
return to her fishing ground.
_Monday, 5_.--The African, schooner, arrived from Old Calabar, with a
cargo of bullocks, seventy-six in number; also a small cutter from
Sierra Leone, with rice, &c. for the settlement.
_Tuesday, 6_.--Captain Hurst, of the Wanderer, towed a very large fish
on shore, and hauled it up on the beach for examination, the mate of
that ship, after some difficulty, having killed it with a harpoon. The
sailors called it a Devil Fish, because, perhaps, they had never seen
one so ugly, or so large of its kind before. They endeavoured to
describe it to me, as I was too late to examine it myself; many of our
black labourers having carried away pieces of it immediately after it
was brought to land. The head was formed like the concave of a crescent,
with an eye near the end of each point, and a small orifice just behind
each eye, like an ear. In breadth, it measured fourteen feet and a half,
that is, from the extremities of the fins, or flaps, which resembled
those of a skate; in length, seven feet in the body, and six feet in the
A very pretty young native girl, about fifteen years of age, took refuge
in our settlement this afternoon, and placed herself under the care of a
fine strapping young Krooman, servant to Capt. Smith, of the African.
_Wednesday, 7_.--Forster, the marine, who was superintending a party on
shore, was sent on board in a high fever to-day; and Thomas Welling,
another of our Plymouth artificers, died this morning. We also found
that our bullocks began to die very fast, without our being able to
discover the immediate cause.
My poor servant lad has continued in a high fever ever since he was
first taken; and this evening, about nine o'clock, his respiration
became very low and quick (the rattles), and for a full hour no hope was
entertained; but, at the end of that time, the alarming symptoms
subsided; his respiration became more easy and natural, and after a
composing sleep of several hours, he awoke with every prospect of
_Saturday, 10_.--The Lucy, cutter, sailed this afternoon to procure
stock from the opposite coast.
_Monday, 12_.--Forster, the marine, died last night, after five days
illness; and, although the sailmaker was called to sew him up in his
hammock before he was quite cold, the work of decomposition had already
commenced, and the corpse was so offensive, that he had much difficulty
in completing his object. This was a case of remarkable despondency. He
entertained an opinion, from the moment he was attacked, that his
illness would terminate fatally, and it was impossible to inspire him
with the least hope; a state of mind which certainly tended greatly to
the accomplishment of his prophecy.
The Victoria returned from Old Calabar to-day.
_Tuesday, 13_.--In the middle of the night, a heavy tornado came on;
after which it continued to blow very hard from the eastward till noon,
when the wind died away to a light breeze, and we had a very fine
afternoon. In the evening, the Horatio sailed for Old Calabar.
_Wednesday, 14_.--A tornado in the middle of the night.
_Friday, 16_.--A market opened to-day at Longfield, where our people
were allowed to purchase what they pleased from the natives, paying a
small duty for this privilege to the Colonial Government. Hitherto an
officer had been appointed to make the purchases, and distribute the
articles, gratis, to the establishment. The following were the rates of
For every Gallon of Palm-Wine 0 8
Ditto Ditto of Oil 0 2
100 Yams 2 0
Fowl 0 1-1/2
Sheep, or Goat 2 0
Kid, or Lamb 0 9
For my own part, I cannot perceive the policy of imposing duties upon
such trifling articles, the whole of which would amount to a very
inconsiderable sum, when collected, and it had the bad effect of
rendering the people dissatisfied: God knows, there were sufficient
privations for those living in this infant colony, without imposing
duties upon the few additional comforts of life, that were so scantily
supplied by the inhabitants.
 Ebony is plenty in this country, but the high duty that is
imposed upon its importation, renders it an unprofitable article in
the English market. At Liverpool it sells for no more than L4 per
ton, the duty out of which is L2 per ton.
Scarcity of Provisions in Fernando Po--Diet of the Natives--Their
Timidity--Its probable Cause--The Recovery of a Liberated African
Deserter--Departure from Fernando Po--Reflections on the Uses of
the Settlement--Causes of Failure--Insalubrity of the Climate--
Probabilities of Improvement--Arrival off the mouth of the Camaroon
River--Chase of a Brigantine--Her Capture--Her suspicious Appearance--
Slave Accommodations--Pirates of the North Atlantic Ocean--Prince's
Island--Visit to the Governor--Drunken Frolic of a Marine--Provisions
--Delicious Coffee--Account of the Town--Population--Varieties of
Colour in the Inhabitants--West-bay--Inhospitality of the Governor and
Merchants--Visit to a Brazilian Brigantine--Difficulty of obtaining
a Passage to Angola--Departure of the Emprendadora--The Eden leaves
Prince's Island--Crossing the Equinoctial Line--Dolphin and
Flying-fish--Trade-winds--Ascension Island at Daybreak--Landing--
Description of the Settlement--Turtle--Goats' Flesh--Abundant Poultry
--Island Game--Aboriginal Foes--Unfaithful Friends--Gladiatorial
Sports--Privileges of Settlers--Traffic--Roads--Water--Culture of
of Labour--Recreations--Departure from the Island--Recollections of
Ascension on a former Voyage--Dampier, the Navigator--The Variables--
An Affidavit on Crossing the Line--Change of Weather--Dutch Galliot--
Passage for the Brazils--Parting of Friends
_Saturday, May 17, 1828_.--Mr. Craig, who had come from Sierra Leone to
set up a store, went into the country with a native chief this
afternoon, for the purpose of procuring palm-oil. He returned, however,
the next evening, very much fatigued and disappointed; for he not only
found the journey very harassing, in consequence of the badness of the
paths, but discovered that his mercantile project was fruitless, owing
to the poverty of the natives. Indeed, the people of Fernando Po are
less abundantly supplied with provisions than the nations of Africa in
general; their principal dependance being on yams, which are, of course,
liable to occasional failure. They have very little live stock of any
kind, and the chiefs alone appear to indulge in the luxury of animal
food. It is only on particular occasions, however, that they treat
themselves to a goat, or sheep, as they are principally confined to
fowls. That they are not plentifully supplied with fish, is owing solely
to their own negligence, as there are abundance to be had by those who
take the trouble of toiling for them; but for many days together, not a
canoe was to be seen. It is difficult to ascertain the cause of this
strange indifference; it may be that they are afraid to venture out to
sea, and this is not unlikely, as they appeared, on our first arrival,
to entertain much apprehension at the sight of a strange vessel on their
coast; but, as they became accustomed to our presence, and began to
entertain a feeling of confidence and protection in our friendship, this
diffidence gradually wore off. It cannot be doubted, that their island
has often been visited by vessels engaged in the slave-trade, as well as
by men-of-war. A circumstance occurred a few years ago, which proves
that they are not without hostile visitors; and which, in some measure,
justifies the suspicions with which they regard all strangers. In the
year 1820, or 1821, a Spanish vessel came over from the Camaroon river
to this island, accompanied by King Aqua, with a number of war canoes,
for the purpose of decoying the natives, or, in the event of failing in
their artifice, to adopt hostile measures, with the ultimate view of
seizing upon all they could capture, and selling them for slaves. They
accordingly landed well armed, but met with a stout resistance, which
proved, however, unavailing, the invaders succeeding in making about 150
prisoners, whom they carried off to the West Indies, and killing as many
more in the skirmish. It is supposed that King Aqua received very little
reward for his services on the occasion, or for the loss his subjects
sustained in the fight. This anecdote was related to me by Captain
Cumings, of the Kent, who was trading on the opposite coast for
palm-oil, at the time it occurred.
_Thursday, 22_.--The Horatio, schooner (Eden's tender), arrived this
afternoon with only her foremast standing, having lost her mainmast in a
tornado. Mr. Craig has just opened his general store, which, with
Captain Smith's, forms the second mercantile establishment in this
_Friday, 23_.--Mr. Adamson, the assistant-surgeon of the Eden, who had
the charge of the hospital, as well as of the mechanics and labourers of
the settlement, and who had resided on shore for the purpose of giving
them his constant attendance, was sent on board the Eden to-day, in
consequence of an attack of fever, which lasted five days.
_Thursday, 29_.--The weather has continued unsettled; sometimes clear
and hot; sometimes cloudy and close; with alternate rain and cold. We
fired a royal salute to-day on Adelaide Island, in commemoration of the
_Friday, 30_.--One of the liberated Africans from the Voador, was
brought in this morning by one of our black masons, having been absent,
with three of his companions, ever since he was landed. We learned, that
he, and his party, had lived in the bush by day, emerging at night to
steal yams, and proceed on their journey, until, after an absence of
four weeks, being at some distance up the mountain, they were fiercely
attacked by the natives with spears, and stones thrown from slings. In
this rencontre, one of them was killed, and another taken prisoner;
while he, and his remaining companion, effected their escape, by taking
different directions: they never, it appeared, met afterwards. From this
circumstance, it is evident that the islanders are unwilling to give
shelter to runaways; an occurrence by no means unsatisfactory, as the
newly liberated Africans desert very frequently, and sometimes in small
troops, so many as nine having been known to go away together.
_Saturday, 31_.--Captain Harrison, the superintendant of works, who had,
up to this time, been living on board the Eden, gave a dinner to Captain
Owen and a select party, at his new residence on shore to-day, to which
I had the pleasure of being invited; but, alas! like most of those who
accompanied the first part of the expedition to this settlement, his
services have since terminated with his life.
The master of the ship Agnes, of Liverpool, trading for palm-oil, in the
Old Calabar river, arrived in his long-boat this afternoon, for the
purpose of obtaining men from Captain Owen, to navigate the Agnes to
England, part of his crew having previously entered for and joined
_Sunday, June, 1_.--There has been scarcely a day during the last
fortnight, that some vessel has not arrived at, or left the settlement,
and one or more been seen in the offing; in fact, the little colony
appears to become extensively known already, and it is expected that the
large palm-oil vessels will find it more to their advantage to anchor in
Maidstone Bay, and carry on their trade with their tenders only, than to
take their vessels up the river, where the long period occupied in
procuring their cargoes, affords time for the men to imbibe the
pestilential disorders of the climate, frequently occasioning the
sacrifice of many lives.
_Tuesday, 3_.--The day at last arrived on which I was to quit Fernando
Po. Captain Owen, finding his crew much reduced in numbers from
sickness, which appeared unlikely to diminish, and fearing also, that
his operations would be retarded for the want of stores, determined to
make a visit to Sierra Leone; by this step, hoping to re-establish the
health of his men, and to procure the necessaries of which the Colony
stood in need. Accordingly, making the requisite arrangements on the
establishment, and committing it entirely to the charge of Captain
Harrison, he got under weigh in the afternoon, when we made sail out of
Maidstone Bay, and stood for the opposite coast, with the Agnes'
long-boat in tow.
On looking back at this incipient colony, and reflecting upon the
probabilities of its future destiny, a few thoughts arise, which this
appears to be the proper place for inserting.
The formation of a new settlement amongst an uncivilized people must
always be an event of interest, whether we regard it in a political or
moral point of view, as extending the power of the parent nation, or
spreading the advantages of improvement in regions hitherto sunk in the
darkness of barbaric ignorance. The objects proposed by the British
Government in establishing a colony at Fernando Po appear to have been
three-fold, and not less connected with political than moral results.
First, to create facilities for promoting our commercial relations with
the districts of tropical Africa, in which many valuable necessaries and
costly luxuries are produced.
Second, to assist in carrying into effect the wise and benevolent
regulations adopted by our Government for the suppression of the
slave-trade, which has been so long the scourge and disgrace of our
fellow men in this portion of the globe.
Third, to increase the means of advancing the civilization of central
The determination to endeavour to carry these leading objects into full
effect, is sufficiently evidenced in the perseverance with which our
Government has established the British name on the African Coast, in our
different settlements at Sierra Leone, Cape Coast Castle, and other
places. We have made as yet but slight progress towards the completion
of designs so comprehensive in their purpose, we must look for the
causes in impediments which time alone can conquer, and not in any lack
of zeal on the part of those who were appointed to execute the plans of
the Government. If firm resolution, meritorious conduct, and
indefatigable diligence could have mastered the difficulties which meet
the English residents on this insalubrious shore, the ends which it was
desirable to attain must have been speedily accomplished: but
unfortunately the laws of nature and the force of habit oppose us at the
very threshold of our proceedings, and seem almost to render our labour
a work of despair.
All our attempts to penetrate into Africa, to establish a friendly
intercourse with the people, and to abolish the traffic in human life
are repelled, and frequently rendered abortive, by the fatal influence
of the climate, and the obstinate resistance of the natives to our
projects of liberty, which they oppose because they derive a lucrative
source of income from the slave-trade, while habit has made them
insensible to its ignominies and miseries. This opposition to our
progress would be of no moment, if the barbarous notions of the people
were not favoured by the repulsive nature of the climate, which is even
more pernicious than we originally believed when we ventured to form a
British settlement within its range. It is so unpropitious to European
life that the pestilential breath of death may be said to lurk in every
calm, and to be wafted in every gale.
It has been supposed, and not without reason, that much of the
insalubrity of the climate may be referred to local causes, and that if
the soil could be completely cleared and drained, the operations of the
air in the redeemed space would expel, or reduce, the baneful influences
that at present produce such extensive mortality. But this would be a
labour demanding almost an incalculable and indefinite period of time,
and which the difficulty of procuring sufficient manual power must
always render nearly impossible, to any great extent.
Hitherto, the situation and prospects of the settlement of Fernando Po
have been discouraging, in consequence of the disease having been more
universal in its ravages than we had anticipated. But it must not,
therefore, be supposed that the place is more unhealthy than other parts
on the coast, or even that the deaths which occurred, during the period
to which I more particularly allude, were occasioned by the insalubrity
of the situation. When the crew of the Eden suffered so much from fever,
it broke out on board of that vessel while she was at Sierra Leone, and
several of the officers and men died before she returned to Fernando Po:
the mortality that ensued was in a great measure caused by the contagion
which the infected sailors spread at the settlement. Several vessels
also arrived before I left the Colony with invalids on board, but the
deaths that took place in their number, certainly ought not to be
introduced into the argument against the insalubrity of the island.
That Fernando Po must always be liable to considerable atmospheric
changes, and become, at particular seasons, very unhealthy, there cannot
be a doubt: but that is invariably the case in all low situations within
the tropics, on the west coast of Africa, where the decomposition of
animal and vegetable matter is so rapid in its progress. But the insular
situation of Fernando Po, with its many local advantages and
peculiarities, may ultimately have the effect of diminishing the
production of miasmata, or at least of correcting their deleterious
qualities, and preventing such immense and dangerous accumulations, as
have on the adjacent continent produced so great a loss of European
_Wednesday, 4_.--At daylight we cast off the Agnes' long-boat, leaving
her to prosecute her voyage up the Calabar to her own ship, while we
stood to the eastward.
_Thursday, 5_.--Unsettled weather. In the afternoon we anchored off the
mouth of the Camaroon river, where Lieutenant Badgeley and Mr. Wood
went, in separate boats, to examine the river, for slave-vessels.
_Saturday, 7_.--Soon after daylight this morning our boats returned,
reporting that there was a Brazilian brig, at anchor, some distance up
the Camaroon river, waiting for a cargo of slaves; and a Brazilian
schooner at the Island of Bimbia, near the entrance of the river, on the
same service. At noon we got under weigh, and stood to the southward.
_Wednesday, 11_.--Lat. 2 deg. 4'. N. Wind from S.S.W. to W.S.W. Tacked and
sounded occasionally, working up to Prince's Island, and also in chase
of a brigantine.
_Thursday, 12_.--At 10 in the forenoon we tacked to the southward in
hopes of falling in with the brigantine, which we supposed had stood
toward the land in the night, and at noon our expectations were
realized: we also saw her in a more favourable point for pursuit, she
being a little under our lee. Finding that she could not escape us, she
put a good face on the matter, and continued to stand towards us.
Between one and two o'clock we sent a boat's-crew on board to examine
her. She proved to be the Emprendadora, a Spanish brigantine from the
Havannah, well armed, mounting one long eighteen-pounder on a swivel,
and four 12 lb. carronades, and having thirty-two persons on board. Her
outfit and general appearance were extremely suspicious, for she had not
only a slave-deck, with irons, &c., but also two slaves, secreted in the
forehold, from whom we learnt that they had been stolen from Po-Po, near
Wydah. She had also a quantity of merchandise on board, without having
any Custom-house certificate of clearance from the Havannah, or indeed
any other account of it, which circumstances led us to believe that it
had been plundered from some American vessel. It was evident that she
had been along the Gold Coast, and round the Bights of Benin and Biafra.
The Captain stated that he was going to Prince's Island to procure
anchors, having only one remaining, and that one, with but a single
fluke to it. We afterwards learnt from the crew that he had endeavoured
to enter the river Lagos, but had been fired on and forced to retire, by
several Brazilian vessels lying there at the time. We conjectured that
she had left the West Indies, on a pretence of going to the coast of
Africa, upon a slaving voyage, without any cargo, except perhaps a small
quantity of specie, in dollars and gold, but carrying an efficient crew,
composed of persons from various nations, and a good stock of
provisions. Vessels, thus equipped, frequently traverse these seas, and
being generally very fast sailers, they contrive to keep away from ships
better armed than themselves, and to board only those that they can
approach, or run away from, at convenience; when convinced that they are
not likely to encounter any resistance, they plunder such vessels at
their pleasure: but should they arrive on the coast of Africa, without
having succeeded in obtaining plunder on their voyage to enable them to
purchase slaves, they entrap and steal such negroes as they can get into
their power, and then return to the West Indies to dispose of their
slave cargo. This is the general character of these pirates, that are
occasionally met in different parts of the North Atlantic Ocean, and
also about the equinoctial line. I have heard numerous instances of
vessels, from Europe, bound to these latitudes, meeting on their voyages
with one or more of such vessels. Prison ships going to New South Wales
have been followed by them; and scrutinized with spy glasses from their
decks: but they have never yet ventured to attack a prison-ship, the
sight of soldiers being quite enough to deter them from any hostile
attempt. Indeed, I believe the best plan in meeting these marauders is,
to assume as bold an air, and make as much show of resistance as
possible. Knowing the character of these craft, Captain Owen thought it
right to detain the brigantine, and therefore sent Lieut. Robinson, Mr.
Wood, midshipman, and twenty-two men, to take her into Sierra Leone, for
adjudication. In the evening we parted company, but expected to find her
at our rendezvous in Prince's Island.
_Saturday, 14_.--At daylight saw Prince's Island, towards which we
continued to make our course. At eight came to anchor in Port Antonio,
where we found Lieutenant Robinson with the captured brigantine, and
also the Vengeance, a Brazilian brigantine on a slaving voyage, which
had put in for Cassada root, or Mandioc, upon which these people
principally feed their slaves. After breakfast I accompanied Captain
Owen on shore to wait on the Governor, who received us very politely,
and introduced us to his lady and family. On leaving the Government
House, we proceeded to that of Mr. Ferraro, who was said to be the
richest and only respectable merchant here, but he had gone into the
country; we therefore walked about the town until our curiosity was
satisfied. There were no inns in the place, only some public houses,
where nothing could be got but spirits, and inferior wines. The sailors,
however, considered it a very civilized place, because it afforded them
the means of getting most agreeably drunk, a feat which they could not
accomplish at Fernando Po. Captain. Owen having allowed some of his men
to go on shore for amusement, one of the marines contrived to get into a
drunken frolic, and was so troublesome, that it puzzled the whole guard
of black soldiers to secure him. I regret to remark that in many foreign
places, the people intentionally lead our sailors into disputes, merely
to obtain a fee for releasing them.
_Sunday, 15_.--After divine service, I accompanied Captain Owen in a
walk to a negro village, about two or three miles distant, and to which
there was no distinct road, but merely a rough irregular path. There was
little of interest to be seen there, and scarcely any refreshment to be
procured; the blacks brought us a few young cocoanuts, of which we drank
the milk. The only fruits to be had on the island, were pine-apples,
plantains, bananas, lemons, limes, and a few more common kinds, all of
which the blacks brought to the ship in their own boats; as also
vegetables, namely, pumpkins, onions, cucumbers, tomatos, &c. The
oranges do not come into season until September. The principal
plantations were mandioc and coffee, and there was also a small quantity
of cocoa; the coffee is rather celebrated for its flavour and quality.
The prices vary a good deal, but we found the average from eight to
twelve pounds for a dollar. The natives both roast, and sell, their
coffee with a pellicle over the berry, and I should imagine it is to
this circumstance that its singularly delicious flavour may be
attributed. We found the place very gay, it being the festival of St.
Antonio, the patron saint, which, considering it is a Portuguese town,
and situated in such a demi-civilized part of the world, may be called
rather a neat one. It contained about twelve hundred houses, and seven
churches, most of these, however, were in a miserable state. There were
not more than fifty Europeans on the island, the whole population of
which does not exceed four thousand. The principal part of these were
negroes, who, of course, were slaves, and the remainder were of
different shades from black to white. This island has still the
character of slave-dealing, in a small way, with some of the African
nations. One of the gentlemen of the Eden, rode across the island to
West-bay, about six miles distant, but the road was a mere footpath, and
scarcely entitled to be considered a bridle-road. West-bay is where our
men-of-war, on the African station, generally anchor to procure water.
It is a place of no consequence, in a mercantile point of view, as it
consists merely of a small negro village. We heard that the great
merchant, Mr. Ferraro, had been at his house in town to-day, but he left
it again without having shewn the courtesy to return Captain Owen's
visit; perhaps, he feared that such an effort of politeness might lead
to a demand upon his hospitality, a virtue for which the Portuguese are
not very remarkable, especially in their intercourse with Englishmen; in
this respect, the Governor was no less a niggard of his attentions than
the rest of his countrymen, giving no invitation either to Capt. Owen or
any of his officers, whose ceremonious visit cost him, no doubt,
infinite annoyance, as, upon that occasion, his Excellency was obliged
to appear clean shaved, and in his full uniform, a laborious sacrifice
to cleanliness and grandeur, at the expense of his accustomed habits of
luxurious indolence and personal ease.
We found the latitude of Port Antonio, by a good observation with stars,
to be 1 deg. 38'. N. while, in most books on navigation, it is laid
down in 1 deg. 27'. N.
_Monday, 16_.--Visited the Brazilian brigantine (Vengeance), with Signor
Begaro, who was sailing-master of the Voador, slave-schooner, taken by
Lieutenant Badgeley, in the Eden's boat, in company with the African,
schooner. This gentleman had prevailed on his countrymen to accommodate
him on board, for a passage to the Brazils, however, they had first to
procure their cargo of slaves; and told us, that they were going
southward of the line for them, but we thought, if that were the case,
they would not have come to the northward of the line, merely to get
provisions. From this circumstance, we suspected it to be their
intention to go to the Camaroon, or some other river in that direction,
where slaves are not above one-third of the price that they are to the
south of the line, and where children (which they always prefer to
adults) are also more easily procured. Could I have believed their
assurance that they were southward bound, I should have endeavoured to
have made arrangements with the captain to take me with him, being
anxious to get to St. Paul de Loando, for the purpose of visiting
different parts of Angola, and in which view I had prepared myself with
a letter of introduction to the Viceroy of that country, from a
distinguished person in England: but although I had been about seven
months at Fernando Po, and other parts of the Bight of Biafra, I had
never met with an opportunity for proceeding to Angola; I was therefore
obliged to leave that place out of my plan, and to make the Brazils the
next point in my route; with this intention I thought it most desirable
to return to Sierra Leone with Captain Owen, where I might meet with a
captured slave-vessel, that had been bought up by the agents, to be sent
to some part of the Brazils, from whence there would be no difficulty in
my ultimately reaching Rio de Janeiro.
Captain Owen had a Portuguese Abbe, Signor Begaro, and some of his
officers, to dine with him to-day.
_Tuesday, 17_.--As it was Captain Owen's intention to visit Ascension
before he went to Sierra Leone, we parted company with the Emprendadora,
desiring Lieutenant Robinson to make the best of his way to the latter
place; she accordingly sailed this morning at daylight, passing round to
leeward of the island, while we followed soon after, with the intention
of working to windward.
_Wednesday, 18_.--We had a fine fresh breeze, veering between S. and
S.W., and kept our course to the westward. Lat. 1 deg. 0'. N. On getting
into the open sea, we found the weather much colder than it was at
Fernando Po, notwithstanding we were 3 deg. nearer the equinoctial line,
than at the former place, while the thermometer for the last twenty-four
hours, has only ranged from 74 deg. to 78 deg. F. Indeed, it is very
commonly remarked, that the poor slaves brought from the Bights of Benin
and Biafra, for the Brazils, suffer dreadfully from the cold, when they
get into the open sea, and approach the line.
_Thursday, 19_.--There was a fine southerly breeze to-day, and we
crossed the equinoctial line this forenoon, without observing the usual
custom of shaving, having gone through that ceremony on passing the
tropic, before we arrived at Sierra Leone, not expecting, at that time,
the Eden would have occasion to cross the equinoctial line. Latitude, at
noon, 0 deg. 6'. S. steering W. by S. with the wind south. There have been
numberless flying-fish, with a few bonetas and dolphins sporting round
the ship at times, to-day; men-of-war are not very successful in taking
these fish, but in a low, dull sailing merchant-vessel, it is otherwise,
particularly if she is not coppered, and has been sometime in a warm
climate. I consider the dolphin and flying-fish to be exceedingly
palatable food, but the boneta is strongly flavoured, and very close
grained, approaching to the solidity of animal flesh.
_Sunday, 21_.--Latitude, at noon, 28 deg. 19'. S. Still a fresh
trade-wind, but as we advanced from the Bight of Biafra into the Southern
Atlantic Ocean, increasing our distance, at the same time, from the
continent of Africa, we found the wind gradually drawing from the westward
of south, to the eastward of south, until it arrived at that point (S.E.),
which is the prevailing trade-wind of the Southern Atlantic, from the
equinoctial line to about the 28th degree of south latitude, varying a
few degrees from these extremes, according to the season of the year.
Being now in the regular trade-wind, I shall not think it necessary to
trouble my readers with any farther remarks on the common routine of the
duties of a ship, until we come within sight of Ascension,
Whose rocky shores to the glad sailor's eye
Reflect the gleams of morning.
Having run for this little island in the middle of the ocean, during the
night, we saw it immediately on the break of day, of _Wednesday, 25th_,
within a mile of the computed distance, viz. three or four leagues. At
eight, we anchored in N.W. Bay, in eleven fathoms water, about half a
mile from the landing-place, when the Governor, Lieut.-Colonel Nichols,
came on board; and after breakfast. Captain Owen and myself accompanied
him on shore, in the gig. We landed with facility, there being very
little surf, and some marines ready to run the boat upon the beach the
moment she touched the ground. The officers of the establishment were
prepared to receive us, and we were introduced to them individually. We
first visited the mess-room, which, with some apartments attached to it
for the officers' quarters, is one of three buildings that are distinct
from the general establishment, called Regent Square. The second
building is a store-house, containing provisions for the African
squadron, as well as the persons employed on the island; and the third,
a house that was built for the Governor, but which Colonel Nichols
allows Lieutenant Stanwell to reside in, he being a married man, with a
family of five children. One part of Regent Square is composed of the
barracks for the marines, and the other for the liberated Africans that
are employed on the island. All these buildings are of stone, which is
the cheapest material that can be procured. The coral that is found on
the beach, makes excellent lime, and enhances the utility of the
quarries. It is fortunate that the island contains these resources, as
it is entirely destitute of brick and timber. There was a tank of
considerable size in progress, not far from the establishment; close to
the landing-place there was a large pond of salt water for keeping the
turtle which are taken during the season, for supplies to the shipping,
&c.; there were about eighty turtles in it, at the time of our arrival.
Colonel Nichols, Captain Owen, and myself, dined with. Mr. and Mrs.
Stanwell, where, among other things, we had a large loin of wether goat,
which, in my opinion, was equal to the finest mutton; indeed, had it
been called mutton, I should not have known the difference, it was so
fat and highly flavoured. There are about six hundred goats on the
island, who are allowed to wander in herds, browsing on the sides of the
hills, and feeding on whatever herbage they can procure in the valleys.
In this way, no doubt, they pick up many aromatic herbs, which give
a peculiarly fine flavour to the meat; but the flesh of goats, is not
the only description of fresh provisions on the island. Those who reside
here, are much better provided, in this particular, than people in
England imagine, for there is a moderate supply of cattle and sheep, for
general consumption, while most individuals have their own private stock
of domestic poultry. Turkeys arid fowls thrive well here; but geese and
ducks, very indifferently, from the want of fresh streams and pools, so
necessary to their nature, in consequence of which they lay their eggs,
but do not produce young. They have also a few goats, and abundance of
guinea fowls, in a wild state, which, in flavour, greatly surpass
those that have been domesticated; and some of the domestic poultry of
the gallinaceous tribe, that have returned to their aboriginal state.
These three species of Ascension game, with the hunting of wild cats,
occasionally afford no little amusement to the officers of the
establishment. A number of cats were originally introduced; in their
tame state, to destroy the rats, which, at one period, overran the
island; but, after routing the rats, the cats, like the Saxons of old,
finding themselves masters of the soil, became greater usurpers than the
foes whom they had been called in to vanquish. These treacherous
animals, and most unworthy allies, discovering that they could sustain
themselves in freedom, without the aid of the biped population, fled
into the least inhabited parts of the island, where they lived most
royally upon young guinea fowl, and other wild poultry; regaling
themselves occasionally upon eggs, or such other dainties as fell in the
way of their most destructive claws. So numerous had this band of
quadruped freebooters become, at the time of our visit, that the
inhabitants had been compelled to call in the assistance of a number of
dogs, for the purpose of putting them to flight; and the gentlemen
sportsmen of the island declare, that a battle between these belligerent
powers and natural enemies presents a scene of unusual excitement and
interest to the lovers of animal gladiatorship.
The sale of spirits is prohibited on the island, but each man may
purchase one pint of brown stout per diem. Butter, cheese, and other
little comforts, were to be procured from a stock that had been sent out
by dealers in England; having, it is said, ten per cent. profit on their
exportation, and two per cent. to the corporal who took charge of its
disposal. It had no freightage to pay, as the owners were allowed the
privilege of sending it out in a transport, which annually brings stores
to the island; and, I was informed, that the British Government allowed
the Governor to exchange turtle with any vessel for such necessaries, or
temperate luxuries, that may be required by the establishment.
The turtle season here, is considered to be the interval between
Christmas and Midsummer-day, during which time parties are stationed
almost every night on each of the beaches, where the turtle are
known to land, for the purpose of depositing their eggs; upon these
occasions, they turn as many as are likely to be required for the use of
the establishment, until the following season, and also for the shipping
that may call for them; these are kept in the pond, to be taken out at
pleasure: two pounds of turtle is allowed as a substitute for one pound
of ordinary meat. The Wide-awakes, or Kitty-wakes, as sailors
call them, are also very numerous, both on the rocks and plains, in the
laying and breeding season: and, consequently, an immense number of eggs
are deposited, which are much used by the persons on the island.
We returned on board for the night, to avoid putting the officers to an
inconvenience for our accommodation.
_Thursday, 26_.--We went on shore to breakfast, landing in a smaller
boat to-day than yesterday, namely, a four-oared gig instead of a larger
one with six, and yet we landed with more ease. About eleven o'clock, I
accompanied Colonel Nichols and Captain Owen on horseback to visit the
Colonel's residence on Green Mountain, distant about six miles from
Regent Square. The roads have been made with a great deal of labour
under the direction of the Colonel, and considering circumstances, there
is no little credit due to that officer for his indefatigable exertions,
and perseverance in accomplishing what would, to ordinary minds, have
appeared impracticable. When about four miles from Regent Square we
arrived at Dampier's Spring, a stream of water that might pass through
an ordinary sized goose quill, and if allowed to spread over the surface
of the ground in some climates, would evaporate as quickly as it flowed,
but here, conducted into a cask, it affords no inconsiderable portion of
the supply at Regent's Square. It is sent down in barrels on the backs
of asses, or mules, and served out by measure, according to the quantity
procured. There were a few habitations near this spring, cut out of the
solid rock, for the residence of soldiers who were stationed here, with
their wives and families. From Dampier's Spring we continued to ascend
about two miles further, when we arrived at the Colonel's dwelling
(which consisted merely of a ground floor), from whence all sterility
ceases, the space between it and the top of the mountain being covered
with a fine rich mould, partly cultivated with sweet potatoes, and
partly covered with wild herbage, amongst which the Cape gooseberry is
very abundant; this is an agreeable subacid fruit, pleasant to eat when
ripe, and useful in a green state for tarts, &c.
Before dinner I took an opportunity of walking to the top of the hill,
which is the highest on the island, being 800 feet above the Colonel's
house, and 2,849 feet above the level of the sea.
After dinner Lieutenant Badgeley, Dr. Burn, and Lieutenant Carrington of
the Marines, left us to return by way of Regent Square, to the Eden.
These three gentlemen have all, since that time, paid the debt of nature
on board that ship. I accompanied Mr. Butter round the side of the
Mountain to the Black Rock, beneath which stretched a wide and deep
valley. In this walk we passed various spots set apart for the
cultivation of vegetables, to which the soil is exceedingly favourable,
while the deposition of night dews, with light showers, and a genial
climate, all combine to render vegetation here peculiarly luxuriant, so
that the inhabitants are not only enabled to reserve an ample supply for
themselves, but to spare a small quantity for most of the ships that
call at the island. Colonel Nichols informed us that he had 1000 lbs.
weight of vegetables, principally the sweet potatoe, ready to dispose of
at this period. We had at dinner green peas, and French beans, besides
the more common vegetables, likewise turnip-radishes with our cheese. In
fact all European vegetables may be, and most of them are, produced
here. The greatest range of the thermometer on the mountain in the
winter months, which are August, September, October, and November, is
from 58 deg. to 70 deg., and in the summer from 70 deg. to 82 deg.,
consequently the greatest range of the whole year is only 24 deg. being
from 58 deg. to 82 deg. F. The sweet potatoe, (of which there are a great
many and very large) was first brought here from Africa; the best
method of cultivating them is found to be from shoots.
The following are the names and number of domestic animals now on the
island, which is about 30 miles in circumference.
70 head of oxen.
60 sheep. (principally from Africa.)
There are likewise the dogs lately imported, and a few rabbits from the
Cape of Good Hope, which have been turned loose in the valleys to breed;
it is feared, however, that the cats will destroy the young rabbits, if
they do not the old ones. Two red-legged partridges have also been
brought from the Cape, and there are a few pigeons, likewise the English
linnet in a wild state.
_Friday, 27_.--Fine morning with a few refreshing showers. Thermometer
at 6 A.M. 70 deg. F. Soon after breakfast we left the Colonel's house to
return to Regent's Square, but we walked nearly a mile before we mounted
our horses. The officers of the Establishment invited all Captain Owen's
party, and their Colonel, to dine with them to-day at their mess, which
consists of Lieutenants Evans and Barns, R.M. Mr. Mitchell, Surgeon, and
Mr. Trescot, Agent-victualler to the African squadron.
[Illustration: THE ISLAND OF ASCENSION]
The population of the island at that time was 192 souls, all
Europeans, except 40 liberated Africans, and they were then deficient of
10: the Government having allowed the number of 50 to assist in carrying
on the required improvements and other employments, which consists of
road-making, erecting buildings, gardening, conveying water, &c. &c. The
officers of the Establishment, superintend the working parties, however,
these only work four days in the week, Wednesday and Saturday being
allowed them for fishing, cleaning their clothes, and other private
purposes, while the Sunday is of course kept holy. Their working hours
are from daylight until eight o'clock, when they are allowed
three-quarters of an hour for breakfast; after which they return to
labour till eleven, they then rest until three o'clock; from which time
they work until sunset. This arrangement, which throws open to repose
the hottest portion of the day, is highly to be approved of in a warm
At 7 o'clock we took leave of the Colonel and his officers, to return
on board the Eden. When we got under weigh, and made sail out of
Ascension-roads, for Sierra Leone, steering N.N.E.
In the year 1801, when I belonged to H.M.S. Cambrian, (the Honourable
Captain Legge,) on our return voyage from St. Helena, we passed so near
this island, that we sent a 24-pound shot among the hills, and saw it
scatter the dust around the spot where it fell, but we did not send a
boat on shore, for we knew it was then uninhabited, and our Commander
was not disposed to lose his time in turning turtle, while he might be
more gallantly employed chasing the enemy. We merely fired as a signal
to any one that might have been left on the island by accident, for on
the preceding year H.M.S. Endymion took on board the crew of a brig that
had been wrecked on the island: and the celebrated navigator, Dampier,
was also cast away here in the Roebuck, of 12 guns, on his return voyage
from New Holland. Little could I have imagined at the time of my first
visit, that I should ever have landed here, under my present peculiar
circumstances, or that after so many years I should find so much to
interest me in a place that presented nothing to my recollection but
utter desolation. The alteration in the island was indeed curious, and I
am happy to learn, that the improvements still proceed with at least
equal energy, and proportionate success. Since my last visit, I am told
that, the inhabitants have greatly increased their facilities of
obtaining, and preserving supplies of fresh water, an achievement which
must necessarily add much to their daily comfort.
_Saturday, 28_.--Nothing material occurred on this or the following day,
for we glided along pleasantly with a fresh trade-wind, varying only a
couple of points from S.E. to E.S.E. until the morning of
_Monday, 30_.--When the wind got much lighter and we were afraid of
losing the trade altogether, for although at this season of the year it
prevails much further from the Southern towards the Northern Hemisphere,
yet we can seldom hope to carry it beyond the equinoctial line, where we
expect to get into what is very characteristically called "the
variables": at one season of the year, these winds are very light and
changeable, with frequent calms and occasional thunderstorms and
waterspouts: at another season of the year, the weather is dark, gloomy,
squally with occasional calms and much rain, until we advance to 12 deg. or
14 deg. N. latitude, where we usually fall in with the N.E. trade wind,
however, ships are sometimes fortunate enough on leaving the Southern
Hemisphere for the Northern, particularly in the months of May, June,
and July, to carry the S.E. trade to the northward of the line, even
until they fall in with the N.E. trade.
Between three and four this afternoon, we crossed the equinoctial line,
at which time I took an affidavit before Captain Owen for my half-pay. I
was induced to do this from the novelty of the circumstance, as well as
a preparatory measure in case I should have an opportunity of forwarding
a letter to England. Lat. at noon, for the last three days, 5 deg.
39'.--2 deg. 25'. and 0 deg. 13'. S.
_Tuesday, July, 1_.--There was a great change in the weather to-day. The
wind was more unsettled, the clouds were heavy, and there was a general
haze around the horizon. These were clear indications of our approaching
the coast of Africa in the rainy season; there had also been a heavy dew
last night, which aggravated these gloomy appearances. At sunset, we saw
a vessel a few miles a-head of us, which we came up with in about an
hour, she proved to be a Dutch galliot, from the island of Mayo, bound
to Rio de Janeiro, with half a cargo of salt.
Immediately on receiving this intelligence, I requested the boarding
officer to engage a passage for me to the Brazils, which being
accomplished, I took leave of my kind and respected friend Captain Owen,
after having been his guest for nearly twelve months; during which time
I had experienced an unvarying series of unequalled attentions, a
consideration for my interest and pursuits highly flattering, and had
derived, from his conversation and society, an acquisition of truly
valuable information; for which I desire to acknowledge myself deeply
and gratefully his debtor.
 There are a good many runaway slaves living at the south end of the
island, quite independent of all the Portuguese authorities.
 It should be explained, that these vessels are permitted to trade
for slaves to the southward of the line; but are liable to capture, if
found to the northward of the line with slaves on board. However, they
frequently expose themselves to the risk, in a desperate spirit of
 Wild parsley is very abundant in the valleys, besides chickweed,
thistles, wild mint, and other herbs.
 The guinea fowl feed principally on crickets and chickweed.
 Bull terriers.
 It is observed, a short time previous to the turtle season, that
the sand rises on shore, near the beach, considerably higher than at
 The turtle, generally, weigh about 400 lbs.; and, sometimes, as
much as 700 lbs.
 A small species of gull.
 Some have grown so large as to weigh 5 or 6 pounds.
 About 50 of this number live at Dampier's Spring.
 They have boats belonging to the Establishment, which are on these
days provided with hooks and lines, and sent off those parts of the
island where there is known to be good fishing ground.
Dutch Galliot--An Agreeable Companion--Strange Associates--Melancholy
Account of St. Jago--Beauty in Tears--Manner of obtaining Salt, and
Water at Mayo--Pleasures of a Galliot in a heavy Sea--Dutch
Miscalculation--Distances--An Oblation to Neptune and Amphitrite (new
style)--Melange, Devotion and _Gourmanderie_--Curious Flying-fish--
Weather--Whales--Cape Pigeons--Anchor off Rio Janeiro--Distant
Scenery--Custom-house Duties--Hotel du Nord--Rua Dircito--Confusion
thrice confounded--Fruit Girls, not fair, but coquettish--Music
unmusical, or Porterage, with an Obligato Accompaniment--Landing-places--
An Evening Walk--A bad Cold--Job's Comforter--Shoals of Visitors--
Captain Lyon's Visit, and Invitation to the Author--Naval Friends--
Packet for England--English Tailors--Departure for Gongo Soco--The
Party--Thoughts on Self-Denial--Uncomfortable Quarters--Changes of
Atmosphere--Freedom by Halves; or _left_-handed Charity--Serra Santa
Anna--Valley of Botaes--The Ferreirinho, or little Blacksmith--Dangerous
Ascent of the Alto de Serra--Pest, an Universal Disease--An English
Settler--Rio Paraheiba--Valencia--Curiosity of the People--Unceremonious
Inquisitors--Comforts of a Beard--Castor-Oil for burning--Rio Preta--
Passports--Entrance to the Mine Country--Examination of Baggage--
Attention without Politeness--The Green-eyed Monster, "An old Man
would be wooing"
At eight o'clock, I found myself and baggage on board the Dutchman,
under all sail, for Rio de Janeiro. I had the good fortune to meet with
a countryman, in a fellow voyager, who proved to be excellent society,
and who, consequently, became my principal companion, for although the
captain and his mates were good sailors, and honest men, they were
unskilled in the polite usages of society, and as the best linguist
amongst them had but a small share of broken English, much conversation
with them was out of the question.
Mr. Fearon (my fellow passenger), having left England, some time since,
for Sierra Leone, the vessel in which he sailed, had called at St. Jago,
where they found the Consul General for the Cape de Verds, lying
dangerously ill with the fever. Mr. Fearon was solicited to remain and
perform the duties of that office; and a few days after, had the
melancholy task of attending the Consul to his grave, and very shortly
after, of laying the widow by her husband's side. These melancholy
duties being performed, he took upon himself the office of Vice Consul,
until a reply to his report of the Consul's death could be received from
the British Government; but, in the meanwhile, he was himself taken so
ill with the endemic fever, and found it so impossible to regain health
at St. Jago, that it was deemed necessary to send him to the island of
Mayo for change of air; where he attained convalescence, but still
continued much debilitated when we met on board the galliot. The
Consul's sister at St. Jago, a most accomplished and attractive young
lady, and whose acquaintance I had had the pleasure of making there at
her brother's house, had also been, I learned, taken ill at the same
time; I had, however, the gratification of meeting her afterwards at the
Brazils, as a married lady, both happy and healthful, after she had
surmounted a variety of difficult adventures, and many severe trials of
fortitude, and presence of mind.
One of my first inquiries, was respecting the manner of preparing the
salt at Mayo, for exportation. I learned, that during the summer a
portion of low-land, near the sea, was inundated, between which and the
sea, the communication being subsequently cut off, the water rapidly
exhaled, leaving the salt in chrystals on the surface of the earth;
these, in due time, were collected in heaps; but as, of course, the
longer they remain, the more concentrated the chrystals become, it is
necessary to observe considerable caution in loading vessels, to select
that portion which has been the longest exposed to evaporation.
They procure water for the town and shipping at Mayo, by digging a
number of pits (too shallow to deserve the name of wells), near the
beach, between the salt-pan plain, and the sea: they thus collect a
stock of brackish water, in small quantities from each pit: however, in
the interior of the island, they are well supplied with good spring
_Wednesday, 2_.--We had a fresh trade-wind to-day, which made me feel
the difference between H.M.S. Eden, and this pile-driving galliot: my
sleeping-place too, happened to be at the furthest end of the vessel,
which might be compared to one of the horns of a crescent, and while I
was dancing in the air, others in the centre of the concavity, were
scarcely out of the horizontal line. Fortunately, a very short repose is
sufficient for me, as my bed was not the softest in the world, for as I
had not brought one with me, I was obliged to lie upon an old sail, with
a bag of clothes for a pillow: however, I have no desire to consider
comforts, when I am travelling, lest feather-bed indulgences, and
luxurious appointments, should divert my attention from more useful
objects. The latitude at noon to-day, was 1 deg. 36'. N, and longitude,
16 deg. 28'. W. by the Eden's calculation (the correctness of which I
might venture to swear by, for no ship ever kept a better), being 1 deg.
27'. E. of the galliot's reckoning.
_Thursday, 3_.--Still a fresh S.E. trade-wind, which enabled us to go a
point free, (S.W. by S.) Noon, lat. 0 deg. 14'. S. lon. 17 deg. 29'. W.
Having crossed the equinoctial line this forenoon, I have passed it for
the third time, in as many distinct voyages, within a fortnight, namely,
1st. From Prince's Island, to Ascension.
2nd. From Ascension towards Sierra Leone.
3rd. From on board the Eden, on her way to Sierra Leone, more than 2 deg.
north of the line, to Rio de Janeiro.
There being no one on board the galliot, who had ever crossed the
equinoctial line before, except the chief mate, Mr. Fearon, and myself,
the usual ceremony of shaving, &c. was dispensed with, but to prevent
the circumstance passing entirely uncommemorated, Mr. Fearon presented
us with some champagne, as an oblation to Neptune and his spouse,
Amphitrite. About sunset, seven flying-fish fell on board, which we had
for supper, and found them very delicious.
_Friday, 4_.--Still a moderate S.E. trade, lat. 1 deg. 56'. S. lon. 18
deg. 16'. W. Our mode of living is as follows:--Between six and seven
in the morning, a cup of coffee is brought to us; at half-past seven, the
whole crew assemble in the cabin to prayers; immediately after which, we
all go to breakfast, ours in the cabin, consisting of boiled barley, of
which the captain and his mates partake freely, mixing with each
portion, a large table spoonful of butter; this is followed by tea, cold
meat, and biscuit, and concluded with well buttered biscuits and cheese.
At eleven, coffee again; and so soon after noon as the ship's place is
ascertained by the reckoning, a glass of wine is presented to each
person, followed by dinner. At half-past three, tea; and at six, tea
again, but combined with supper. At half-past seven, the crew again
assemble to prayers; after which, all not employed on watch, retire to
rest, with the exception of Mr. Fearon and myself, who were neither such
_gourmands_, nor such sleepers as our Dutch friends.--They, however,
were very moderate in their use of ardent spirits, or fermented liquors;
they were also very moderate smokers, and seldom introduced smoking in
This evening, three more flying-fish fell on board, one of which, having
four wings instead of two, I preserved in spirits. Mr. Fearon informed
me, that he had previously remarked this variation in the species,
which, however, does not appear to be common, it having, as I think,
escaped general notice.
_Saturday, 5_.--Saw a large ship to-day standing in the same direction
with ourselves, but she did not approach us. At noon, Lat. 3 deg. 52'. S.
Lon. 19 deg. 18'. W.
_Sunday, 6_.--Fresh breezes and cloudy, with heavy squalls, and rain at
times; four more flying-fish for breakfast. The sea getting up to-day
made the vessel very uneasy. Lat. 5 deg. 47. S. Lon. 20 deg. 12. W.
_Monday, 7_.--Strong breezes and cloudy, with a heavy sea. Course
continues the same, and but little variation in the wind, excepting
force. Lat. 7 deg. 42'. S.
_Tuesday, 8_.--The wind moderated to-day, and the weather cleared up.
Only two flying-fish for breakfast, which proved a sufficient relish for
the passengers, but they would not have gone far towards satisfying our
Dutch messmates. Lat. at noon, 9 deg. 34'. S. Lon. 22 deg. 17'. W.
_Wednesday, 9_.--Breeze freshened again to-day. Lat. 11 deg. 9'. S. Lon.
23 deg. 36'. W.
_Thursday, 10_.--Wind increased to a very strong breeze, with a good
deal of sea, which made the vessel roll about and plunge in a most
delightful manner. Lat. 13 deg. 13'. S. Lon. 25 deg. 7'. W.
_Friday, 11_.--Very squally weather, with a heavy swell. Lat. at noon,
15 deg. 9'. S. Lon. 25 deg. 7'. W.
_Saturday, 12_.--Fresh breezes and cloudy. Lat. 17 deg. 9'. S. Lon.
27 deg. 46. W.
_Sunday, 13_.--Wind and weather moderated to-day. Lat. 18 deg. 55'. S.
Lon. 29 deg. 48'. W. Saw a few whales playing about.
_Monday, 14_.--Fresh breezes and very fine weather. At noon, Lat. 20 deg.
44'. S. Lon. 31 deg. 42'. W. Cape Frio, S. 76 deg. W. 564 miles.
_Tuesday, 15_.--Moderate and fine: wind N.E. Lat. 22 deg. 2'. S. Lon.
33 deg. 22'. W. Cape Frio, S. 82 deg. W. 472 miles. Afternoon, light
breezes and variable, from N. to E.
_Wednesday, 16_.--Fresh breezes and cloudy, with squalls at times. Wind
N.E. to E. A single flying-fish for breakfast. Lat. 22 deg. 23'. S. Lon.
35 deg. 9'. W. Cape Frio, S. 84 deg. W. 364 miles.
_Thursday, 17_.--Fresh breezes, and cloudy until noon. Afternoon,
moderate and fine. Lat. 22 deg. 34'. S. Lon. 34 deg. 7'. W. Found a sore
throat coming on, accompanied with fever, the effect of a severe cold
caught by remaining on deck late at night. I had also frequently got wet
during the blowing weather, by the sea breaking over the vessel: and,
unfortunately, had not recommenced wearing flannel, having abandoned the
use of it at Fernando Po, in consequence of the exhaustion it produced
by the excessive sultriness of the weather.
_Friday, 18_.--Two Cape pigeons were hovering over the vessel to-day;
they were the first we had seen; and it is very possible, that they had
recently deserted some vessel which they had followed from the Cape of
Good Hope. They are a small sea-fowl, about the size of a pigeon, from
which resemblance they derive their name. They are to be seen in great
numbers off the Cape, as well as in the higher southern latitudes.
At noon, Lat. 22 deg. 34'. S. Lon. 38 deg. 27'. W. Cape Frio, S. 82
deg. W. 200 miles. Soon after noon, the discoloration of the sea
indicated the proximity of land, although, by our reckoning, it should
have been far distant; however, we saw it at sunset, bearing N.W. by N.
about 15 miles, which we supposed to be the Cape St. Thomas, when we
sounded in 33 fathoms sand, with black and white specks. Stood to the
southward for the night.
_Saturday, 19_.--Soon after daylight, we saw the land. At noon, Cape
Frio, W.N.W. about 12 miles. Lat. 23 deg. 7'. S. Lon. 39 deg. 25'. W.
At two in the afternoon, we passed a warlike looking schooner under
Brazilian colours. At sunset. Cape Frio, E.N.E. about eight miles.
Continued our course for the harbour of Rio de Janeiro till midnight,
when we hove to for daylight.
_Sunday, 20_.--At daylight, we made all sail with a light breeze, for
the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. At two in the afternoon, sounded in forty
fathoms; Sugar Loaf Hill bearing N.W. At eight in the evening, we came
to an anchor abreast of the forts, at the entrance of the harbour.
_Monday, 21_.--At daylight, we found the most splendid scenery open to
our view: a clear atmosphere, and a sky so serene, that the distant
mountains blended softly into the heavens, while the picturesque
grouping of objects in the vicinity, completed a beautiful _coup
d'oeil_, which it is difficult to imagine, and scarcely possible to be
surpassed. The wind and tide being against us until two o'clock, the
sea-breeze then setting in, we got under weigh, to go into the harbour,
but, at four o'clock, the Portuguese authorities obliged us to come to
an anchor in the outer harbour, abreast of Fort Santa Cruz, in 22
H.M.S. Blossom, Captain Beechy, dropped anchor here this afternoon, on
his return voyage from his explorating expedition in Baring Straits,
when she immediately saluted the flag of Sir Robert Otway, which was
flying on board H.M.S. Ganges. H.M.B. Chanticleer, Captain Forster, was
also lying in the harbour; an agreeable _rencontre_, I should imagine,
for Captains Beechy and Forster, who were companions on the North Pole
expedition; no small difference in climate and scenery from their
present place of meeting. Captain Peters of our galliot (the Young
Nicholas) and Mr. Fearon went on shore in the evening, but I was too ill
with my cold, even to venture exposing myself to the night air, or to
remove until I had secured a comfortable lodging; however, on the
following afternoon I landed, but without my baggage, as it was detained
until special permission for its removal could be received from the
Custom-house; where every packet was examined and paid for, before I was
permitted to take it to my lodgings.
Mr. Fearon and myself took up our quarters at the Hotel du Nord near the
Palace, at one end of the Rua Direito (or strait street), which runs
parallel with the sea. This is the broadest and best street in Rio de
Janeiro, and as the Custom-house is situated in the centre, with the
Palace and Dock-yard flanking the extremities, this street is an immense
thoroughfare, especially as all articles of merchandise, not excepting
the slaves, or any other object of traffic imported, or exported, must
pass through it, on, or from, its way to the Custom-house.
But, as though the confusion necessarily attendant upon this continual
bustle were insufficient, each group of porters as they pass along with
their heavy loads, chant their peculiar national songs, for the double
purpose of timing their steps and concentrating their attention on their
employment. To these sounds are added the variety of cries, uttered in
an endless alternation of tones, by the pretty negress fruit venders,
who, smartly dressed, and leering and smiling in their most captivating
manner endeavour so to attract the attention of the sons of Adam. These,
with the gabbling of foreigners, hurrying on their several missions of
pleasure or of business, the chattering of slaves waiting to be hired,
and the occasional expostulations of those who are unceremoniously
jostled from the pavement by the rude encounter of bales of goods, keep
up altogether a din of discordance perfectly distracting.
There are three principal landing-places at the city of Rio, one in
front of the Palace, one at the Custom-House, and one at the Naval-yard;
where there are flights of stone steps for the convenience of the
public. I took a walk in the evening with my friend Mr. Fearon to the
Rua Pescadores (Fisherman's street, one of the many that branch from the
Rua Direito), to find out Dr. Dickson, a naval surgeon settled in this
city, for whom I had a letter of introduction, from my friend Captain
Owen. He was not at home, but we were received by his partner, who
appeared much concerned at my state of health, and advised me to return
home and not think of leaving the house again until Dr. Dickson saw me,
which he promised should be early on the following morning. I believed
my catarrh had encreased to pneumonia, and the medical gentleman
appeared to consider the symptoms much more seriously than I did myself.
_Wednesday, 23_.--My cough was much worse to-day, indeed it had become
so troublesome that I was almost exhausted, especially as I dared not
partake of any stimulating food, to support my strength. Neither could I
obtain repose either by night or by day, indeed I found the horizontal
position less endurable than any other. I, however, received in my bed
room a number of gentlemen who called upon me. Among these was Captain
Lyon of the royal navy, who had charge of a very large mining
establishment in the interior, under the title of the Imperial British
Brazilian Mining Company, at Gongo Soco. On hearing my intention to
travel in the Brazils, this gentleman not only invited me to visit him,
but also to accompany him to his establishment, to which he was about to
return in a few days. This invitation was perfectly irresistible, and I
promised to avail myself of it, if it were possible for me to sit on
horseback at the time of his departure. This hope induced me to be
doubly careful in promoting the measures judged advisable for my
recovery. Captain Duntz, and his friend Mr. Edward Walker, one of the
Directors of the Mining Company, also called with Captain Lyon; as well
as Messrs. Luddington, Power, &c. in the course of the day.
_Thursday, 24_.--Captain Lyon most obligingly invited me to join a
party, consisting of Mr. Gordon, our Minister, Captains Beechy and
Forster, &c. &c. on a most interesting excursion to the Corcovada
Mountain on the following morning, for the purpose of measuring its
height; but I was most reluctantly obliged to decline it; first, because
it would have been too trying for my cough; and secondly, because I
wished to reserve all my strength for my journey into the interior.
_Saturday, 26_.--Captain Duntz paid me another visit, bringing his
friend Sir T. Thompson of the Cadmus with him. Captain Lyon and his
friend Mr. Edward Walker also favoured me in like manner.
_Monday, 28_.--The packet sailed for England to-day, calling at Bahia
and Pernambuco on her way. Captain Lyon's friend Mr. Edward Walker went
passenger in her. I heard that our journey into the interior was
fortunately deferred for a day or two. My friend Lieutenant E. Belcher
of H.M.S. Blossom, called on me to-day, as did several other gentlemen.
_Tuesday, 29_.--Captain Lyon called to inform me that he had determined
on proceeding to the interior the following day; I therefore busied
myself in preparing for the journey. Among the few articles of which I
stood in need, were a jacket and pantaloons, which I was obliged to
purchase, ready made, at a store of English slop-goods, the English
tailors here being too consequential to accommodate any one on an
_Wednesday, 30_.--I took leave of my friend and fellow passenger Mr.
Fearon, to join Captain Lyon at Mr. Raynsford's in Rua Pescadores, from
whose house we were to set out. Every thing being ready about noon, we
mounted our mules, and formed a very respectable cavalcade, our party
for the interior consisting of Captain Lyon, Mr. Sharpe, Mr. A. Walker,
and myself, with a train of loaded mules, we were also favoured by the
escort of Messrs. Raynsford, and Lewis, on our first day's march. The
latter gentleman is a Prussian Jew, and has amassed a considerable
property in this country by dealing in precious stones, in addition to
which traffic, he has a general store at Gongo Soco. He has also a
brother a dealer in jewels who lives at Villa Rica. How is it that other
men cannot succeed so well as those of the Jewish persuasion? Is it that
their intelligence, penetration, and discrimination, are superior to
other men? Or is it solely owing to their less scrupulous integrity? My
own conviction has always been, that want of success in any particular
pursuit or profession, has arisen in most cases, out of an absence of
that firmness which enables a man to reject the pleasures of the world,
and the world's frivolities, for the sake of the one purpose to which he
should rightly devote all his energies. When men practise a rigid course
of self-denial in this respect; immolating all vain desires upon the
altar of science, or of interest, they seldom fail to attain the utmost
point of their ambition.
I found myself very weak, and much reduced by the low regimen which I
had necessarily observed during the violence of my inflammatory cough. A
blister had also been kept open on my breast during the whole time of my
sojourn at Rio de Janeiro, this had only received its first dressing
just before I mounted my mule, and I had not got clear of the city
before the inflamed state of my chest, so dried up the dressing, that
the irritation produced was like a red hot iron applied to the surface:
this torture I was compelled to endure for more than three hours, before
I could obtain any relief. About four o'clock we arrived at Venda Nova,
or Traja, also known by the name of Willis's, it having been kept by an
Englishman of that name. It was much patronized by the English, who
frequently made excursions of pleasure to this place, distant from Rio
de Janeiro four Brazilian leagues or sixteen English miles. We were well
supplied here with provisions, but our lodgings were of a very inferior
description, all the party, excepting myself, being literally, and
actually, necessitated to exclaim
"My lodging is on the cold ground."
The only imitation of a bed-place was considerately resigned to me. It
consisted of a crib in a small room, no larger than a closet; however,
as the horizontal position still continued most distressing to me, a bed
of down could not have procured me repose, for I do not think I ceased
coughing for three consecutive minutes the whole night. And it was no
small aggravation to my misery, to know that I was the means of
disturbing all my friends in the next apartment. Under these
circumstances, I heard the summons for preparation, at a very early
hour, with infinite satisfaction, and, ill as I was, though the morning
was extremely raw and cold, I rejoiced to find that we were all in the
saddle before daylight (half-past five)--Mr. Raynsford, on his return to
Rio de Janeiro, and our own party for the Mine Country. Soon after noon,
we arrived at Manganga, a distance of four leagues (16 miles), having
passed over a very level country, where the heat of the day was equal in
intensity, to the cold of the morning; the thermometer being, at one
time, upwards of 90 deg. F. This change was to me delightful, as heat
agrees with me at all times, and more particularly while suffering from
an indisposition, the prevalent symptom of which is a sensation of
chilliness. I found my strength very inadequate to bear much fatigue.
Our accommodation, however, was better to-night than the preceding one,
and Captain Lyon being well known on the road, acquainted with the
language, and a man of very agreeable manners, we found every one ready
to do their utmost to serve him, especially the fair sex. In speaking of
the fair sex--or rather, in this case, the female, but not fair--a
pretty young negress came to solicit charity, for the purpose of
enabling her to make up a sum of money to purchase half her freedom, the
other half having been left as a legacy, by her deceased master. This is
doing things by halves with a witness: who would have thought of such
piece-meal generosity, except a thrifty Brazilian Portuguese.
_Friday, August 1_.--Soon after daylight, we set off again with our
whole party: and at eleven, we rested a short time to refresh ourselves
at a venda, which stands at the foot of a rugged and precipitous
range, called the Serra Santa Anna (or St. Ann's Mountain), which we
afterwards passed over, and arrived, about three o'clock, at a
respectable farm-house, in the village of Botaes, where we remained for
the night, having travelled four leagues to-day. Captain Lyon called my
attention this afternoon, to the note of a bird in a wood, when passing
over the mountain, named the Ferreirinho (little Blacksmith), from the
resemblance of the note to the ringing sound of a smart blow from a
small hammer on an anvil, terminating in a sharp whistle.
_Saturday, 2_.--Notwithstanding the inconvenience I had suffered during
the journey of the two preceding days, I felt an increase of strength,
and an abatement of my cough. Fortunately for me, we passed the night in
a warm valley, and did not start this morning till nine o'clock, from
which time our journey over the mountain proved very pleasant, for it
must be remembered, that this is the winter season in this country; and
that the coldness of the nights continues unabated until the rising sun
begins to exert its influence. We left Mr. A. Walker, with the loaded
mules, to follow; Capt. Lyon being anxious to proceed at a quicker rate.
Almost immediately after leaving the farm, we began to ascend the Alto
de Serra, where, in some places, a false step of the mule would have
precipitated both the animal and its rider into one of the fearful
chasms that occasionally yawned beneath our path. We were frequently
placed in very awkward situations, for we met with several caravans of
loaded mules, winch were generally conducted by the voices of the
muleteers, who dash on at a fearless rate; and, in some of these passes,
at the imminent risk of overturning the travellers whom chance places in
their way: I was frequently obliged to jerk my foot suddenly out of the
stirrup, and allow my leg to pass behind on the back of the animal on
which I rode, to avoid these unceremonious assaults; while, on the
opposite side, I was pressed against the rugged surface of an
When we arrived at the top of the mountain, we made a halt at a
blacksmith's shop, for the purpose of getting Captain Lyon's mule bled,
the muleteer having declared that he had the pest; but the word _pest_
appertains here to all sorts of animal ailments; for example, there was
a fowl sick at this place, and on asking what was the matter with it, we
were told that it had the pest; the fowl's disease proved to be the pip.
Indeed, this convenient word pest, was indiscriminately applied to all
diseases which the people did not understand. It reminded me of La
Fleur, in the Sentimental Journey, who, when he could not get his horse
to pass the dead ass, cried "Pest!" as the _dernier resort_ of his
vocabulary of exclamations. In the afternoon, we made a short halt at a
venda within twelve miles of Botaes, to refresh ourselves, which was
kept by an Englishman named John M'Dill, who had formerly lived at Gongo
Soco with Captain Tregoning. He had recently settled here on a small
estate, which he was clearing for a coffee plantation. About sunset, we
crossed the Rio Paraheiba, over a long wooden bridge, about a mile
beyond which we put up for the night, where we had but very indifferent
accommodations. We had ridden five leagues, or twenty miles, to-day.
_Sunday, 3_.--We set off at five this morning, and arrived at the town
of Valencia at nine, where we stopped for breakfast. Nearly all the
inhabitants of the town collected to comment upon us, and it so
happened, that I was the principal object of curiosity in the whole
group: this unlooked for distinction, arose from two circumstances,
first, my wearing a long beard; and secondly, my blindness. These
peculiarities produced numberless exclamations, as, "How could I travel?
Why did I travel? Why did I wear a long beard? Was I a Padre?--or, a
Missionary?" and so forth, until they became so pressing that we were
glad to get housed, with closed doors, to keep these troublesome
inquisitors at a respectful distance.
I can well understand, that a simple people, whose experience is limited
to their own habits, and who have never had an opportunity of
inter-mixing with other nations, must have been startled by the novelty
of a beard; but their astonishment at the sight of a board, was not
greater than mine, on discovering that they were destitute of an
appendage, which, in the torid zone, is at once an article of luxury and
utility. The people of the East invariably wear beards, not merely as a
national custom, but as a matter of necessity; and, for my part, I can
testify, that I found it an indispensable protection to the neck, and
the lower part of the face: after a day's journey, the luxury of
immerging the face in cold water, leaving the beard half dry, was most
refreshing, the evaporation producing a very reviving and agreeable
effect. In addition to my beard, I had the farther protection of a broad
brimmed straw-hat, the crown of which was deeply wadded with cotton
wool, and which completely screened me from the piercing rays of a
Having occasion for some castor-oil, I sent to an apothecary to procure
it, which amused the people exceedingly, who declared their astonishment
at our simplicity, in sending to a doctor for an article so common here,
that it is generally used for lamp-oil, and to obtain which, it is only
necessary to gather the beans from the plant, which grows wildly and
luxuriantly in this country, and express the juice in the ordinary way.
Soon after leaving Valencia, we passed a venda, kept by another
countryman of ours, but we did not stop there, being anxious to reach
the town of Preta before night. About sunset we arrived at Rio Preta (or
Black River), passing over a long wooden bridge to the town, where we
waited for the authorities, to have our passports, &c. examined, which
we had previously procured at Rio, from the Minister of the Interior. We
had now entered the Minas Geraes, or Mine Country, the opposite bank of
the river forming the boundary of the province of Rio de Janeiro. Every
package was examined, and a duty demanded for each article of
merchandize, &c. excepting our personal baggage; after this ceremony, we
proceeded to a house, where they were accustomed to receive, I cannot
say accommodate, travellers, for its appointments and arrangements, were
neither elegant nor convenient; and the host, an old man with a young
wife, was by no means civil: attentive he was, to the most minute point
of etiquette, and somewhat more attentive than agreeable, for he watched
us with a most pertinacious vigilance, in order that we might have no
opportunity of conversing with our pretty hostess, whom he closely
followed about with looks of angry jealousy, while she prepared our
supper. It was truly pitiable to observe the misery the old dotard
endured, every time his wife entered our apartment, constantly
fidgetting at her elbow, and scrutinizing, suspiciously, every look that
passed between her and her guests. His fears served us for a jest,
however, and produced a vein of jocularity, that reconciled us to our
earthen flooring, upon which some of our party were doomed to seek
repose for that night.
We had made the longest journey to-day of any since we left Rio, having
travelled twenty-eight miles. This is also the largest town we entered,
since leaving Rio, and had once been a place of considerable importance.
 This was a very pleasant, light, sweet wine, made at Tours, and
which the captain procured at Nantes.
 It is worthy of remark, that, notwithstanding the immense number of
sharks in the harbour, the inhabitants are not deterred from bathing;
these animals being so abundantly supplied with food from the offal of
a large and populous city, as to be divested of their natural
ferocity:--accidents caused by them, are absolutely unknown here,
although they are frequently seen swimming near, and even among the
persons bathing in the harbour.
 This is a shop, or store, by the road-side, where aqua-dent
(spirits made in the country, and generally strongly flavoured with
aniseed) and sometimes wine can be procured, with provisions, and a few
other common necessaries.
Advantages of early Travelling--Funelle--"A Traveller stopped at a
Widow's Gate"--Bright Eyes and Breakfast--Smiles and Sighs--The Fish
River--Cold Lodgings--Fowl Massacre--Bad Ways--Gigantic Ant-hills--The
Campos--Insect Warriors--Insinuating Visitors (Tick)--The Simpleton--
Bertioga--A Drunkard--Cold Shoulders--Mud Church--Feasting and Fasting;
or, the Fate of Tantalus--Method in a Slow March--Gentlemen Hungry and
Angry--No "Accommodation for Man or Horse"--A Practical Bull--Curtomi--
Hospitable Treatment at Grandie--Horse-dealer--A "Chance" Purchase--
Bivouac--Mule Kneeling--Sagacious Animal--Quilos--A Mist--Gold-washing
--Ora Branca--Hazardous Ascent of the Serra D'Ora Banca--Topaz District
--A Colonel the Host--Capoa--Jigger-hunters--Mineralogical Specimens--
Mortality of Animals--Pasturage--Account of Ora Preta--Gold Essayed--
Halt--Journey resumed--Arrival at Gongo Soco
_Monday, August 4, 1828_.--Our muleteers had no small trouble to collect
their animals in readiness for us to start at the appointed time (four
in the morning); indeed, they had been full two hours beating about the
bush to get them together. Fortunately, however, these men go to rest so
early, that they think little of getting up in the middle of the night,
to collect and load their mules, which is a common occurrence, as an
early start is desirable for both man and beast, because two hours
travelling before sunrise, is not half so fatiguing as one hour after
it; the muleteers are also glad to promote any measure that will enable
them to complete their day's journey before sunset, that they may get
their supper and go to rest so soon as it is dark, which, in this
tropical region, is always at an early hour. Between nine and ten we
arrived at a venda, called Funelle, where we breakfasted on eggs and
milk, standing at a counter, there being no other apartments in this
small habitation, except the bed-room of a pretty young black-eyed
widow, who was laughing and flirting with our party the whole time we
remained. Having made but a third of our intended day's journey, we were
obliged to tear ourselves away from the interesting widow's
fascinations, greatly to the annoyance of some of my companions, who
would fain have prolonged the pleasure of her agreeable trifling:--but
_malgre_ the Loves and the Cupids, with the accompaniments of beauty's
witcheries, we were obliged to press forward, towards our quarters for
the night, which we proposed to take up at a house called Rosa Gomez,
six leagues from Funelle, and nine from Villa Preta, making thirty-six
miles to-day. About a mile or two before we arrived at Rosa Gomez, we
passed the Fish River.
_Tuesday, August 5_.--We endured a very cold and comfortless night in
bad quarters, where, had it not been for the exertions of our own people
who were obliged to knock down a few wretched straggling fowls for our
use, we should not have been able to procure any thing either for
supper, or breakfast, except a disagreeable mess of flour and water.
The thermometer at daylight this morning was so low as 45 deg. F., which
temperature we all felt keenly, especially as we had nothing but our
cloaks for our night covering, on cold and comfortless cane couches.
However, we did not set off till near eight o'clock, and after the sun
rises, the warmth rapidly increases. We made but a short journey to-day,
of two leagues and a half, for the roads were rugged and precipitous,
and intersected by several abrupt and broken streams, so that we were
obliged to be extremely cautious in our progress, and chary of the
services of our mules. We passed some very large ant-hills to-day, from
eight to twelve feet in height; the summits of which form excellent
arches for the tops of ovens, while slabs cut out of the more solid
parts, serve for the ends and sides.
_Wednesday, 6_.--We set out at daylight, leaving the woody country
behind us, and entering on the Campos, or Downs, where our annoyances
from the insect tribe commenced. The brushwood here being infested by
Tick and other tormentors, who mercilessly attacked our whole party,
mules included, insinuating themselves imperceptibly into our sleeves
and pantaloons, when burying their heads in our flesh, and feasting on
our blood, they made us acutely sensible of their presence, by the
intolerable irritation they produced: and from which we had no means of
escaping until the hour of disrobing for the night. After travelling
three leagues we stopped at a village called Souza, where we took
breakfast, the comfort of which meal was, however, destroyed, by the
importunate absurdities of an old man, half lunatic, half simpleton.
After breakfast we proceeded to Bertioga (three leagues and a half),
where we put up for the night. Soon after our arrival, several people
came hastily to Captain Lyon to complain of an Englishman, who was very
drunk, and had been making a great disturbance in their house. On
inquiry, the offender proved to be a blacksmith on his way to Gongo
Soco, he had been engaged by the agent for the Company, and sent off
from Rio, thirty-six days previously, which time he had wasted in
drunkenness and idleness, having only completed forty leagues of his
journey; Captain Lyon consequently ordered him to return to Rio, as the
specimen of ill conduct already given, shewed him to be unworthy of
being received into the Company's service.
Our accommodations to night were much us usual, mud floors, and our
cloaks for a covering. Total six leagues and a half to-day.
_Thursday, 7_.--We set off before daylight, which did not agree very
well with me, the morning air being still too keen for my lungs, which,
with a pain in my side, made me very unwell to-day. About noon we
stopped at a farm-house in a village, called Os Ilhos. There was a
church in progress here, the walls of which they were building with mud.
After refreshing ourselves, and our mules, for about an hour, we resumed
our journey toward a large farm, called Baroga, having made 24 miles
to-day. My companions fared sumptuously, as we had brought a turkey with
us from our last resting place, and with the addition of a roasting pig,
it made the grandest feast imaginable, and far exceeded any thing we had
met with since we left Rio de Janeiro; however, it proved a fast to me,
as I was obliged to take medicine, and leave them to their enjoyment.
Our host and hostess were plain honest good farming people, and appeared
desirous to do every thing they could for Captain Lyon, but for all
that, they could not be roused out of their accustomed methodical
manner, and the preparation of our meal was, to them, a business of
serious delay and labour.
And all entreaties were vain,
For they'd promise and promise again,
But still go on the same.
My friends, therefore, were compelled to take policy for their
counsellor, and patience for their remedy. The most provoking part of
the affair was, that they were expected to consider themselves obliged,
by the condescension of their hosts, in undertaking upon any terms to
minister to their necessities: consequently there was no possibility of
giving utterance to any hasty feelings of impatience; no opening for
those little outbreaks of anger so common to hungry gentlemen. These,
might they have been indulged, would have amused, as well as comforted
the sufferers, but unhappy travellers! they were compelled to
Let _keen hunger_, like a worm in the bud,
Feed on their _inner man_.
Here, however, our accommodations were quite superior, when compared
with what we had found at other resting-places; indeed they did not
profess to "_accommodate travellers_," an assurance which is I presume
intended to reconcile the guest to such reception as they choose to
give: but if these people are unwilling to "_profess_," they do not
allow their _scruples_ to limit their _expectations_; these are always
directed towards a recompense, which they are just as eager to receive
as those who accord more to the convenience of the stranger.
Their curiosity is also unparalleled, and when you dismount you are
received with a string of questions; respecting your health. Where you
have been? The news of Rio? Whom you have met on the road? Who are
expected to go up? or down the country? &c. &c. Having obtained all the
information your patience will grant, they at length begin to consider
what provision they can make for you, and generally commence operations
by slaughtering a few fowls, (or sometimes a turkey or a roasting pig;)
then a large pot of water must be boiled to dip the fowls in, by way of
removing the feathers in the most expeditious manner; a practical bull,
for if they plucked the birds the moment they were dead, and before the
body was allowed to cool, the process would be completed in less time
than they could boil the water. After this preparation, they proceed
with their tedious cookery, all of which is conducted in an equally
awkward manner. Sometimes after arriving in the evening, tired and
hungry, three or four hours elapsed, before any knives and forks were
put on the table, or any other visible progress made in the arrangement
of our meal: and not unfrequently my companions gave the matter up in
despair, and resigned themselves to sleep, while all were completely
worn out with waiting, long before the dinner appeared.
_Friday, 8_.--We set out at daylight, and about ten miles distance, we
stopped a short time at a farm house, named Curtomi; we then proceeded
ten miles further to Grandie. Just before we arrived at this place,
about four miles and a half distant, the road from Rio over the Campos,
and the Caminha Real, or Royal road, from Porta de Estrella meet,
forming one main road from hence into the interior. We stopped at a
large house, which belonged to very civil people, where we were well
lodged, and very hospitably entertained.
_Saturday, 9_.--We had a comfortable breakfast before we set off this
morning, and I felt much recruited to-day; we had also all the advantage
to be derived from the warm rays of the sun, as we did not start till
near eight o'clock. In the course of our journey this forenoon, we met a
horse dealer with a train of horses, on his way to Rio, when Mr. Sharpe
took a fancy to one, and purchased it for thirty-six milreas, in silver,
something less than five pounds sterling. From being purchased in this
accidental way, I suggested that the animal ought to be named "Chance,"
to which his master assented. In consequence of our wishing to avoid a
disagreeable old fellow, who kept a venda on the road side, we proceeded
a short distance beyond his domicile, and having previously provided our
refreshment, we sat down near the bank of a river to partake of it, at
about two o'clock in the afternoon.
On our journey afterwards, my poor mule was so thirsty, that he ran to a
little stream by the road-side, to drink, but as he could not
conveniently reach it standing, he very quietly went down on his knees,
upon which hint, I, of course, dismounted, until he had finished his
draught. This mule was the most docile, intelligent animal I ever rode,
and it was a knowledge of these good qualities, that induced Captain
Lyon to appropriate him to my use; I was frequently considerably in
advance of the party, without feeling any apprehension about my safety,
from the perfect confidence I reposed in the mule's sagacity. About five
in the afternoon, we arrived at the town of Qualos, where we were well
lodged, had good fare, and where the excellence of the bread was quite
remarkable, being superior to any I had tasted in the Brazils. This town
gives the title to a Marquess, but it is not of any importance in other
_Sunday, 10_.--We started long before daylight, and for two or three
hours rode through a mist, as cold and dense as a November one in
England, but after the sun had gained sufficient power to disperse it,
the day was proportionably hot. We this forenoon passed the first
gold-washing place of any consideration, which has, however, long since
been abandoned for others more profitable. About eleven, we arrived at
the village of Ora Branca, so called from the light colour of the gold
procured here, the gravel or sand of every stream, henceforward,
produces a greater or lesser proportion of gold.
The owner of the house where we refreshed, had a collection of
mineralogical specimens, which interested Captain Lyon very much, he
being himself a collector. At about a league distance, we commenced the
ascent of the Serra D'Ora Branca, which was almost impracticable even
for our mules. It is so steep and difficult, that it is the universal
custom to dismount, to which, I believe, I formed the only exception, an
undertaking of considerable hazard to ride either up, or down, this
mountain. At about a league beyond the summit, on the opposite side, we
entered what is called the Topaz District, where we soon passed many
washings for Topazes, and put up for the night at the celebrated one of
Capoa, where we were not very well entertained, although the proprietor
of this venda was a Colonel in the Brazilian militia. It is the general
custom, while travelling in this country, for the inhabitants to bring
you a panela, or large bowl of hot water, every night, when you are
going to bed, for your feet, and it is usual to have a black man in
attendance, for the purpose of examining the feet, and extracting the
jiggers with a needle, at which operation they are very expert.
_Monday, 11_.--Although our journey on this day, was only intended to be
three leagues to the imperial city of Ora Preta (Black Gold), the Villa
Rica (Rich City) of the maps, capital of the mining districts, we set
off at daylight, and arrived about ten at the house that is kept for the
use of the Gongo Soco Mining Company. The gold that is collected at the
Gongo Soco mines, is sent from time to time to the mint at this place,
where it is essayed and melted into bars, the government reserving, a
tax of 25 per cent. before it is suffered to be transmitted to Rio. On
leaving Capoa this morning, we visited several mud huts in the village,
and neighbourhood, in search of those mineralogical specimens, which are
commonly known in this country by the name of Raridades.
During our route, but more especially before we arrived at the Campos,
not a day passed without our meeting droves of oxen and pigs as well
as many troops of loaded mules, with coffee, cotton, sugar, &c. all
proceeding from the interior for Rio; and our olfactory nerves were not
unfrequently assailed by a very offensive odour, arising from dead
animals, principally oxen, among whom there is usually a great mortality
on these journeys, in consequence of excessive fatigue from travelling
500 or 600 miles, as also from the bad and insufficient pasturage they
find on their road. When these unfortunate animals sink down under their
sufferings, they are left to die, and putrify on the spot where they
happen to fall. These cattle are chiefly brought from the Sertao, which
is a wild country beyond the mountains of the gold district, intervening
between it and the diamond district, which is a fine pasture country,
but with few habitations. The term Sertao, however, is general all over
the interior of Brazil, for inland places unredeemed by culture. Ora
Preta is the most considerable town that we have yet met with, and it
owes it respectability and extent to the circumstance of its being the
town residence of the proprietors of gold mines, dealers in precious
stones, &c; and there is an Imperial Mint, with a government essayer
settled here, for the purpose of examining all the gold produced from
the mines, causing it to be melted and stamped, and a duty of 25 per
cent. taken from it for the Government.
This duty had, a short time previous to my visit, been reduced to 10 per
cent. for Brazilian subjects, the Government, however, continued to
exact 25 per cent, from Gongo Soco, or the Imperial British Brazilian
Mining Company; although, in their charter from the Brazilian
Government, it was understood, if not expressed, that the Company should
be allowed to work their mines on the same terms with the Brazilians,
however advantageous those terms might happen to be: at the time the
charter was granted, the Brazilians paid 25 per cent.; but after their
neglecting several mines, they petitioned the Government for a reduction
of duty, on the plea, that it was too high, to allow them a profit on
their expenses. The Government, upon this application, consented to
receive only ten per cent. from their own subjects, but absolutely
refused to accord to the British Mining Company any reduction of the
Captain Lyon found it necessary to pass a couple of days here, to
transact some business; this proved a seasonable rest, particularly for
our mules, who had been worked fifteen days in succession.
_Tuesday, August 14_.--We this morning renewed our journey for Gongo
Soco, and immediately on leaving Ora Preta, began to ascend the
Ferreiria (Iron Mountain). After having rode over the top of it for
about six miles, we descended by a very steep and dangerous road, the
bed of a great part of which was composed of ironstone rock: very few
persons ever venture to ride down it; for, in case a mule should lose
its footing, both the animal and its rider would be hurled down a
precipice, so gigantic, that the state of their remains could not even
be ascertained. Our mules were, at times, on their haunches, actually
sliding over the rocky surface of the road, and although Captain Lyon
had travelled this path several times, he had never ventured to ride
down it before: but not knowing any better way to manage me and my mule,
than by allowing us to follow him mounted, down the hill, he most kindly
braved the danger for my sake, and I resigned myself to the intelligence
of my mule, who very soon assumed the entire control of his own conduct,
shaking his head whenever he felt the reins tighter than convenient, and
picking his way with all imaginable care: I always found, when the
ground appeared uncertain, that the sagacious animal would pause, and
putting out his foot, discover, by scratching, whether the ground might
be trusted, before he would advance a step further.