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Journal of an African Cruiser by Horatio Bridge

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obligations at the period assigned--if, indeed, they ever pay at all.
Commercial integrity is not here of so high an order as in older
countries, where the great body of merchants have established a standard
of rectitude, which individuals must not venture to transgress.

Another large branch of business is at places where the slave-trade is
carried on; as at Gallinas and Wydah. Here, provisions, guns, powder,
cotton cloths, and other goods, suitable for the purchase or subsistence
of slaves, are sold at good prices for cash, or bills of exchange. The
bills of Pedro Blanco, the notorious slave-dealer at Gallinas, on an
eminent Spanish house in New York, and another in London, are taken as
readily as cash. A large number of the vessels engaged in the African
trade, whether English or American, do a considerable part of their
business either with the slavers, or with natives settled at the
slave-marts, and who, from their connection with the trade, have plenty of
money. Some of the large English houses give orders to their captains and
supercargoes not to traffic with men reputed to be slave-dealers; but, if
a purchaser come with money in his hand, and offer liberal prices, it
requires a tenderer conscience and sterner integrity than are usually met
with, on the coast of Africa, to resist the temptation. The merchant at
home, possibly, is supposed to know nothing of all this. It is quite an
interesting moral question, however, how far either Old or New England can
be pronounced free from the guilt and odium of the slave trade, while,
with so little indirectness, they both share its profits and contribute
essential aid to its prosecution.

The method of trade with the natives is more tedious than that with the
colonists, and differs entirely in its character. On anchoring at a
trade-place, it is necessary, first of all, to pay the King his "dash," or
present, varying in value from twenty dollars to seven or eight hundred.
Such sums as the latter are paid only by ships of eight hundred or a
thousand tons,--and in the great rivers, as Bonny or Calebar. The "dash"
may be considered as equivalent to the duties levied on foreign imports,
in civilized countries; and doubtless, as in those cases, the trader
remunerates himself by an enhanced price upon his merchandize.

The King being "dashed" to his satisfaction, trade commences. The canoes
bring off the articles which the natives have for sale; and the goods of
the vessel are exhibited in return. At first, it is a slow process; either
party offering little for the commodity of the other, and asking much for
his own. But, in a few days, prices becoming established on both sides,
business grows brisk, and flags only when one party has little more to
exchange. Native agents are employed by the stranger; some being Kroomen
attached to the vessel, and others trade-men, inhabiting the native towns.
These men, in addition to their small regular pay, continually receive
presents, which are necessary in order to excite their activity and zeal.

There is still another mode of trading, resorted to by many masters of
vessels. They entrust quantities of goods--varying in value from a
trifling sum up to a thousand dollars, or even more--to native trade-men.
With these, or part of them, the trade-man goes into the interior, makes
trade with the Bushmen, and brings the proceeds to his employer. These
native agents are sometimes trusted with large amounts, for several months
together, and not unfrequently give their principal great trouble in
collecting his dues. Their families, to be sure, are held responsible, and
the King is bound to enforce payment. Nevertheless, if so disposed, they
can procrastinate, and finally cheat their creditor out of his debt;
especially as the vessel cannot remain long upon the coast, awaiting the
King's tardy methods of compulsion.

On the Gold Coast, each vessel employs a native who is called its
"gold-taker," and is skilful in detecting spurious metal. The gold-dust is
brought for sale, wrapped up in numerous coverings, to avoid waste. It is
tested by acids; or, more commonly, by rubbing the gold on the
"black-stone," when the color of the mark, which it leaves upon the stone,
decides the character of the metal. The gold, after its weight has been
ascertained, is put by the captain into little barrels, holding perhaps
half a pint, and with the top screwing tightly on. This "glittering dust"
(to use the phrase which moralists are fond of applying to worldly pelf),
commands from sixteen to eighteen dollars per ounce, in England and the
United States. It is gathered from the sands which the rivers of Africa
wash down from the golden mountains; and, when offered for sale, small
lumps of gold and rudely manufactured rings are sometimes found among the
dust--ornaments that have perhaps been worn by sable monarchs, or their
sultanas, in the interior of the country.

In the ivory trade, small teeth (comprising all that weigh less than
twenty pounds) are considered to be worth but half the price, per pound,
that is paid for large teeth. From fifty cents to a dollar is the ordinary
value of a pound of ivory. Some large teeth sell for a hundred dollars, or
even a hundred and fifty. The sale of such a gigantic tusk, as may well be
supposed, is considered an affair of almost national importance, and the
bargain can only be adjusted through the medium of a "big palaver." The
trade in ivory is now on the decline; the demand in England and France not
being so great as formerly, and America never having presented a good
market for the article.

Palm-oil is brought from the interior, on the heads of the natives, in
calabashes, containing two or three gallons each. In speaking of the
interior, however, a comparatively short distance from the coast is to be
understood. Gold, where great value is concentrated into small bulk, and
some ivory, may occasionally come from remote regions; but the vast inland
tracts of the African continent have little to do, either directly or
indirectly, with the commerce of the civilized world.

In dealing with the natives, there was formerly a system much in vogue,
but now going out of use, called the "round trade." The method was, to
offer one of each article; for instance, one gun, one cutlass, one flint,
one brass kettle, one needle, and so on, from the commodity of greatest
value down to the least. In all traffic there is a desire on the part of
the native to obtain as great a variety as his means will compass. If the
native commodity on sale be valuable, the captain offers two or more of
his guns, cutlasses, flints, brass kettles, and needles; if it be small,
and of trifling value, he perhaps exhibits only a flint and a needle as an
equivalent. The native of course tries to get the most valuable, and the
purchaser to pay the least. If the former demand a piece of cloth, and if
it be refused by the captain, the native then asks what he will "room" it
with. The captain, it may be, proposes to substitute a needle; and, after
much talk, the troublesome bargain is thus brought to a point. English
vessels usually have supercargoes; the Americans are seldom so provided.
But the American captains, on the other hand, are respectable,
intelligent, and trustworthy men, almost without exception. The exigencies
of the trade require such men; and any defect, either of capacity or
integrity, would soon be brought to light by the onerous duties and
responsibilities imposed upon them. Great latitude must be allowed them,
or the voyage cannot be expected to turn out profitably. They perform the
double duty of master and supercargo, and perhaps with the more success,
as there can be no disunion or difference of judgment. These captains are
likewise often part owners of vessel and cargo.

Since the African coast has been made the cruising ground of an American
squadron, the merchantmen have brought out stores, with the expectation of
disposing of them to the ships of war. Some of these speculations have
turned out very profitable; but now, when the Government understands and
has made provisions for the wants of the station, this market is not to be
relied upon. To the officers, indeed, there is a chance, though by no
means a certainty, of selling mess-stores. The prices charged by
merchantmen correspond with the scarcity of the article, and are sometimes
enormous. I have known nine dollars a barrel asked for Irish, or rather
Yankee potatoes, and have paid my share for a small quantity, at that
rate. To those who see this vegetable daily on their tables, it may seem
strange that men should value a potatoe five times as highly as an orange.
After eating yams and cassada, however, for months together, one learns
how to appreciate a mealy potatoe, the absence of which cannot be
compensated by the most delicious of tropical fruits. Adam's fare in
Paradise might have been much improved, had Eve known how to boil
potatoes; nor, perhaps, would the fatal apple have been so tempting.


Jack Purser's wife--Fever on Board--Arrival at Cape Palmas--Strange Figure
and Equipage of a Missionary--King George of Grand Bassam--Intercourse
with the Natives--Tahon--Grand Drewin--St. Andrew's--Picaninny
Lahoo--Natives attacked by the French--Visit of King Peter--Sketches of
Scenery and People at Cape Labon.

_March_ 30.--Got under way, at daylight, and stood down the coast.

I recollect nothing else, at Settra Kroo, that requires description,
unless it be the person and garb of a native lady of fashion. Sitting with
my friend Jack Purser, yesterday, a young woman came up, with a pipe in
her mouth. A cloth around her loins, dyed with gay colors, composed her
whole drapery, leaving her figure as fully exposed as the most classic
sculptor could have wished. It is to be observed, however, that the sable
hue is in itself a kind of veil, and takes away from that sense of nudity
which would so oppress the eye, were a woman of our own race to present
herself so scantily attired. The native lady in question was tall, finely
shaped, and would have been not a little attractive, but for the white
clay with which she had seen fit to smear her face and bosom. Around her
ankles were many rows of blue beads, which also encircled her leg below
the knee, thus supplying the place of garters, although stockings were
dispensed with. Her smile was pleasant, and her disposition seemed
agreeable; and, certainly, if the rest of Jack Purser's wives (for this
was one of the nine-and-twenty) be so well-fitted to make him happy, the
sum total of his conjugal felicity must be enormous!

31.--Sunday. An oppressively hot day. There are three new cases of fever,
making fourteen in all, besides sixteen or seventeen of other complaints.
There is some apprehension that we are to have general sickness on board.

_April_ 1.--Off Cape Palmas. A canoe being sent ashore, returned with a
letter from the Rev. Mr. Hazlehurst, stating that two missionaries wish
for a passage to the Gaboon, and making so strong an appeal that the
captain's sympathies could not resist it. So we run in and anchor.

2.--Went ashore in the gig, and amused myself by reading the newspapers at
the Governor's, while the captain rode out to the mission establishment,
at Mount Vaughan. During my stay, one of the new missionaries, a native of
Kentucky, came in from Mount Vaughan, and rode up to the Government House,
in country style. He was in a little wagon, drawn by eight natives, and
sat bolt upright, with an umbrella over his head. The maligners of the
priesthood, in all ages and countries, have accused them of wishing to
ride on the necks of the people; but I never before saw so nearly literal
an exemplification of the fact. In its metaphorical sense, indeed, I
should be very far from casting such an imputation upon the zealous and
single-minded missionary before me. He is a man of eminent figure, at
least six feet and three inches high, with a tremendous nose, vast in its
longitude and depth, but wonderfully thin across the edge. It was curious
to meet, in Africa, a person so strongly imbued with the peculiarities of
his section of our native land; for his manner had the real Western swing,
and his dialect was more marked than is usual among educated men. With a
native audience, however, this is a matter of no moment.

We were told that the Roman Catholics are about to leave Cape Palmas, and
establish branches of their mission at the different French stations on
the coast, under the patronage of Louis Philippe. The Presbyterians have
all gone to the Gaboon river. The Episcopal Mission pines at Cape Palmas,
and will probably be removed. The discord between its members and the
Colonial Government continues with unabated bitterness. Mr. Hazlehurst
regrets that the missionaries were identified with the colonists, in our
great palaver with the four-and-twenty kings and headmen, at Cape Palmas.
He believes, that, in case of any outbreak of the natives, the
missionaries on the out stations would fall the first victims. His
sentiments, it must be admitted, are such as it behoves a minister of
religion to entertain, in so far as he would repudiate military force as
an agent for sustaining the cause of missions.

We sailed at noon for the leeward without the missionaries, who declined
taking passage, as it is doubtful whether the ship will proceed beyond
Cape Coast Castle. We have now fifteen cases of fever, most of them mild
in character. The prospect of sickness will cut short our leeward cruise.

4.--Off Tahoo. The natives have come on board, with fowls, ivory, and
monkey-skins, to "make trade." Tobacco is the article chiefly sought for
in exchange. A large canoe came off, with a small English flag displayed,
and a native in regimentals standing erect; a most unusual and
inconvenient posture to be maintained in a canoe. Mounting the ship's
side, he proved to be no less a man than King George of Grand Bassam. His
majesty wore a military frock trimmed with yellow, two worsted epaulettes
on his shoulders, and an English hussar-cap on his head, with the motto
FULGOR ET HONOS. A cloth around his loins completed his heterogeneous
equipment. In the canoe was a small bullock, tied by the feet, together
with several ducks, chickens, kids, and plantains. The bullock and one
duck were presented to the captain by way of "dash;" always the most
expensive mode of procuring provisions, for, unless you dash the donor to
at least an equal extent, he will certainly importune you for more. King
George remarked that the other articles in the canoe belonged to the boys,
and were for sale. They refused to sell them, however, until the King,
after eating and drinking his fill in the cabin, went out, and engaged in
the traffic at once. The liquor brought out his real character; and this
royal personage scolded and haggled like a private trader, and a sharp one

Having sold his stock, and received much more than its value, his majesty
thought it not beneath his station to beg, and thus obtain divers odd
things for his wardrobe and larder. When he could get no more, he finally
took his leave, carrying off the remains of the food which had been set
before him, without so much as an apology.

We have been running along that portion of the coast, where, three months
ago, we burned the native towns. No attempt has yet been made to rebuild
them, for fear of a second hostile visit from the ships; but the natives
have indirectly applied to the Commodore for permission to do so, and it
will probably be granted, on their pledging themselves to good behavior.

5.--At anchor off Grand Berebee. All day, the ship has been thronged with
natives. They are civil at first, but almost universally display a bad
trait of character, by altering their manners for the worse, in proportion
to the kindness shown them. As they acquire confidence, they become
importunate, and almost impudent. Every canoe brings something to sell. It
is amusing to see these people paddling alongside with two or three
chickens tied round their necks, and hanging down their backs, with an
occasional flutter that shows them to be yet alive. Some of the kings hold
umbrellas over their heads; rather, one would suppose, as a mark of
dignity, than from a tender regard to their complexions. These umbrellas
were afterwards converted into bags, to hold the bread which they

The weather has been cooler for two days, and the fever-patients are fast

6.--This morning, our visitors of yesterday, and many more, came
alongside, but only persons of distinction were admitted on board.
Nevertheless, they suffice to crowd the deck. A war-canoe, with a king in
it, paddled round the ship twice, all the men working for dear life, by
way, I suppose, of contrasting their naval force with our own. All our
guests, of whatever rank, come to trade or to beg; and it is curious to
see how essentially their estimation of money differs from our own. Coin
is almost unknown in the traffic of the coast, and it is only those who
have been at Sierra Leone, or some of the colonial settlements, who are
aware of its value. One "cut money," or quarter of a dollar, is the
smallest coin of which most of the natives have any idea. This is
invariably the price of a fowl, when money is offered; but a head of
tobacco or a couple of fish-hooks would be preferred. Empty bottles find a
ready market. Yesterday, I "dashed" three or four great characters with a
bottle each; all choosing ale or porter bottles in preference to an
octagonal-sided one, used by "J. Wingrove and Co." of London, in putting
up their "Celebrated Raspberry Vinegar." The chiefs must have consulted
about it afterwards; for, this morning, no less than three kings and a
governor, begged, as a great favor, that I would give them that particular
bottle, and were sadly disappointed, on learning that it had been paid
away for a monkey-skin. No other bottle would console them.

After the traffic is over, the begging commences; and they prove
themselves artful as well as persevering mendicants. Sometimes they make
an appeal to your social affections; "Massa, I be your friend!" The rascal
has never seen you before, and would cut your throat for a pound of
tobacco. Another seeks to excite your compassion: "My heart cry for a
bottle of rum!" and no honest toper, who has felt what that cry is, can
refuse his sympathy, even if he withhold the liquor. A third applicant
addresses himself to your noble thirst for fame. "Suppose you dash me, I
take your name ashore, and make him live there!" And certainly a deathless
name, at the price of an empty bottle or a head of tobacco, is a bargain
that even a Yankee would not scorn.

7.--We passed Tahoo in the night, and are now running along a more
beautiful country. The land is high and woody, unlike the flat and marshy
tracts that skirt the shores to windward. These are the Highlands of
Drewin. The ship has been full of Grand Drewin people, who come to look
about them, to beg, and to dispose of fowls, ducks, cocoa-nuts, and small
canoes. They are the most noisy set of fellows on the coast.

8. We left Grand Drewin, and anchored at St. Andrew's, six miles distant.
The inhabitants, being at war with those of Grand Drewin, do not come off
to us, apprehending that their enemies are concealed behind the ship.
These tribes have been at war more than a year, and have made two
expeditions, resulting in the death of two men on one side and three on
the other. The army of Grand Drewin, having slain three, boasts much of
its superior valor. It must be owned, that the absurdity of war, as the
ultimate appeal of nations, becomes rather strikingly manifest, by being
witnessed on a scale so ridiculously minute.

9.--A message having been sent in to inform the King of our character,
three or four canoes came off to us. The inhabitants have little to sell
compared with those of Grand Drewin. Indian corn, which does not flourish
so well to windward, has been offered freely at both places, in the ear.

I went ashore, in company with four other officers. The bar is difficult,
and, in rough weather, must be dangerous. A broad bay opens on your sight,
as soon as the narrow and rocky mouth of the river is passed. Two large
streams branch off, and lose themselves among the high trees upon their
banks. A number of cocoa-nut trees, on the shore, made a thick shade for
fifteen or twenty soldiers, who loitered about, or sat, or lay at length
upon the ground, watching against the approach of the enemy. Some held
muskets in their hands; others had rested their weapons against the trunks
of the trees. We were first conducted to the residence of King Queah, who
received us courteously, regaled us with palm-wine, and inflicted a duck
upon us by way of "dash." The wine, in a capacious gourd, was brought out,
and placed in the centre of the large open space, where we sat. The King,
his headman, and his son, all drank first, in order to prove that the
liquor was not poisonous; a ceremony which makes one strongly sensible of
being among people, who have no very conscientious regard for human life.
The mug was then refilled, and passed to us.

On the walls of the house there were fresco-paintings, evidently by a
native artist, rudely representing persons and birds. The most prominent
figures were the King, seated in a chair, and seven wives standing in a
row before him, most of them with pipes in their mouths. Black, red, and
white, were apparently the only colors that the painter's palette
supplied. The groundwork was the natural color of the clay, which had been
plastered upon the wall of wicker-work.

There seem to be two crowned heads at this place, reminding one of the two
classic Kings of Brentford; for, after leaving King Queah, we were led to
the house of another sovereign, styled King George. The frequent
occurrence of this latter name, indicates the familiarity between the
natives and the English. His Majesty received us in state; that is to say,
chairs were placed for the visitors, and the King, with a black hat on his
head, looked dignified. I was so fortunate as to make a favorable
impression on his principal wife, by means of an empty bottle and a head
of tobacco, which she was pleased to accept at my hands in the most
gracious manner. Though probably fifty years of age, she had beautified
herself, and concealed the touch of time by streaks of soot carefully laid
on over her face and body.

The houses of each family are enclosed within bamboo walls, sometimes to
the number of eight or ten huts in one of these insulated hamlets. They
are generally wretched hovels, and of the simplest construction, merely a
thatched roof, like a permanent umbrella, with no lower walls, and no
ends. Altogether, the dwellings and their inhabitants looked miserable
enough. The tribe has the reputation of being treacherous and cruel, and
the aspect of the people is in accordance with their character.

I purchased a man's cloth, of native manufacture. It is said to be made of
the bark of a tree, pounded together so as to be strong and durable. I
also procured a hank of fine white fibre of the pine-apple leaf. Of this
material the natives make strong and beautiful fishing-lines, and other
cords. Before being twisted it has the appearance of hemp.

11.--We anchored, last evening, at Picaninny Lahoo. Only one canoe has
come off to us. The natives are shy of all strange vessels, in consequence
of a French man-of-war having fired upon one of the neighboring towns, a
few days since. It seems that a French merchant-barque was wrecked here,
by running ashore. The master saved his gold and personal property, and he
and the crew were kindly treated; but the vessel and cargo were plundered,
in accordance with the custom of the African coast, as well as of
countries that boast more of their civilisation. Nevertheless, the captain
of the French man-of-war demanded restitution, and kept up a fire upon the
town for several successive days. An English merchant-vessel, lying there
at the time, protested against the cannonade, and threatened to report the
French captain to Lord Stanley!--on the plea that his measures of
hostility prevented the natives from engaging in trade.

In fact, these masters of English merchant-vessels would probably consider
the interruption of trade as the greatest of all offences against human
rights. We boarded a brig of that nation to-day, and found her full of
natives, with whom a very brisk business was going forward. Some brought
palm-oil, and others gold, which they exchanged principally for guns,
cloth, and powder. We here saw the gold tested by the "blackstone;" a
peculiar kind of mineral, black, with a slight tinge of blue. If, when the
gold is rubbed upon this stone, it leaves a reddish mark, it is regarded
as a satisfactory proof of its purity; otherwise, there is more or less
alloy. The trader is obliged to depend upon the judgment and integrity of
a native in his employ, who is skilful in trying gold. The average profit,
acquired by the foreign traders in their dealings with the natives, is not
less than a hundred per cent. on the principal articles, and much more on
the smaller ones. No inconsiderable portion of this, however, is absorbed
by the numerous "dashes;" in the first place, to the king, then to the
head trade-men, the canoe-men, and all others whose agency can anywise
influence the success of the business.

The masters or supercargoes of English vessels receive, besides their
regular pay of six pounds per month, a commission of five per cent. on all
sales; they being responsible for any debts which they may allow the
natives to contract.

12.--Ashore at Cape Lahon, the scene of the recent hostilities between the
French and the natives. We landed in large heavy canoes, flat-bottomed and
square-sided. The town is built upon a narrow point of land between the
sea and a lake, just at the outlet of two rivers. On the side next the
sea, you discern only the bamboo walls of the town, and a few cocoa-nut
trees, scattered along the sandy beach; but on the lake side, there is one
of the loveliest views imaginable. The quiet lake and its wooded islands;
the thousand of green cocoa-nut trees, laden with fruit, and shadowing all
the shore; the rivers, broad and dark, stretching away on either hand,
until lost among the depths of the forest, which doubtless extends into
the mysterious heart of Africa; the canoes, returning along these majestic
streams with people who had fled; the hundreds of natives who reclined in
the shade, or clustered around a fountain in the sand, or busied
themselves with the canoes;--all contributed to form a picture which was
very pleasant to our eyes, long wearied as we were with the sight of ocean
and sky, and the dreary skirts of the sea-shore. It was an hour of true
repose, while we lay in the shadow of the trees, and drank the cool milk
of cocoa-nuts, which the native boys plucked and opened for us.

I should have narrated, in the first place, our visit to King Peter, who
rules over this beautiful spot. He held his court under an awning of
palm-leaves, in an area of more than a hundred feet square, around the
sides of which were the little dwellings that, conjointly, composed his
palace. The King received us with dignity and affability; and probably not
less than two hundred of his subjects were collected in the area, to
witness the interview; for it was to them a matter of national importance.
They are exceedingly anxious to adjust their difficulties with the French,
and hope to interest us as mediators. By their own history of the affair,
which was laid before us at great length, they appear to have been only
moderately to blame, and to have suffered a great deal of mischief. King
Quashee and nine men were killed, and fifty or sixty houses burnt, besides
other damage.

These people are a fine-looking race, well formed, and with very pleasing
countenances. At our first arrival the women were all at the plantations,
in the interior, whither they had fled when our ship came in sight,
apprehending her to be French. Towards evening, they returned to the
village, and afforded us an opportunity to see and talk with them. They
are the handsomest African dames with whom I have formed an acquaintance,
and the most affable. It grieves me to add, that, like all their
countrymen and countrywomen, they are importunate beggars, and seem
greatly to prefer the fiery liquors of the white man to their own mild
palm-wine and cocoa-nut milk. One of our party offered rum to the eight
young wives of Tom Beggree, our trade-man; and every soul of them tossed
off her goblet without a wry face, though it was undiluted, and
thirty-three per cent. above proof.

As at other places, each family resides in a separate enclosure, which is
larger or smaller, according to the number of houses required. Domestic
harmony is in some degree provided for, by allotting a separate residence
to each wife. There is a courtyard before most of the enclosures, after
traversing which, you enter a spacious square, and perceive neatly built
houses on all four of its sides. They are constructed of bamboo-cane
placed upright, and united by cross-pieces of the same, strongly sewed
together with thongs of some tough wood. Some of the floors are not
untastefully paved with small pebbles, intermingled with white shells.
Doors there are none, the entrance being through the windows, in order to
keep out the pigs and sheep, which abound in the enclosures. The streets
or passages through the town are about five feet wide, and are bordered on
either side by the high bamboo wall of some private domain. The settlement
extends more than a mile in length, and is the largest and best-built that
I have yet had the good fortune to see on the coast of Africa.


Visit from two English Trading-Captains--The Invisible King of
Jack-a-Jack--Human Sacrifices--French Fortresses at Grand Bassam, at
Assinee, and other points--Objections to the Locality of
Liberia--Encroachments on the Limits of that Colony--Arrival at
Axim--Sketches of that Settlement--Dix Cove--Civilized Natives--An

_April_ 14.--Under way from Cape Lahon at daylight. All the morning,
there were light breezes and warm air; but a fine sea-breeze set in, in
the afternoon, and brought us, at seven o'clock, to anchor at "Grand
Jack," or "Jack-a-Jack." The distributors of names along this coast
deserve no credit for their taste. The masters of two English merchantmen
came on board and spent the evening. One of them was far gone with a
consumption; the other was, in his own phrase, a "jolly cock," and seemed
disposed to make himself amusing; in pursuance of which object he became
very drunk, before taking his departure. Englishmen, in this station of
life, do not occupy the same social rank as with us, and, consequently,
have seldom the correct and gentlemanly manners of our own ship-masters.
The master of an English merchant-vessel would hardly be considered a fit
guest for either the cabin or ward-room of a British man-of-war.

These masters informed us that they had paid three hundred dollars each,
for the king's "dash," at this place; in addition to which, every
merchant-captain must pay eight dollars on landing, and if from Bristol,
twenty-four dollars. This distinction is in consequence of a Bristol
captain having shot a native, some years ago; and when the palaver was
settled, the above amount of blood-money was imposed upon all ship-masters
from the same place. Our two visitors have now been here for months, and
will remain for months longer, without once setting foot on shore; partly
to avoid incurring the impost on landing, partly from caution against the
natives, and partly to keep their business secret. The jealousy between
the traders is very great. Those from Bristol, Liverpool, and London, all
are in active competition with each other, and with any foreigner who may
come in their way; and their policy may truly be described as
Machiavelian, in its mystery, craft, and crookedness. The business
requires at least as long an apprenticeship as the diplomacy of nations,
and a new hand has but little chance among these sharp fellows.

15.--Some canoes from the shore have been off to us. We learn from them,
that there is to be a great annual festival today; on which occasion the
king, who has been secluded from the sight of his subjects for eight
years, will shine forth again, "like a re-appearing star." There is
something very provocative to the imagination in this circumstance. What
can have been the motive of such a seclusion? was it in the personal
character of the king, and did he shut himself up to meditate on high
matters, or to revel in physical indulgence? or, possibly, to live his own
simple life, untrammelled by the irksome exterior of greatness? or was it
merely a trick of kingcraft, in order to deify himself in the superstition
of his people, by the awfulness of an invisible presence among them? Be
the secret what it may, it would be interesting to observe the face of the
royal hermit, at the moment when the sunshine and the eyes of his subjects
first fall upon it again. The inhabitants from many miles around have come
to witness and participate in the ceremonies. There are to be grand
dances, and all manner of festivity; and one of the English captains
informed us that he had sold a thousand gallons of rum, within a
fortnight, to be quaffed at this celebration.

There is another circumstance that may give the festival a darker
interest. It is customary, on such occasions, to sacrifice one or two
slaves, who are generally culprits reserved for this anniversary. The
natives on board deny that there will be any such sacrifice, but admit
that a palaver will be held over a slave, who had attempted to escape.
Should it be so, the poor wretch will stand little chance for mercy at the
hands of these barbarians, frenzied with rum, and naturally blood-thirsty.
We are all anxious to go on shore, to see the ceremonies, and try to save
the destined victim; or, if better may not be, to witness the thrilling
spectacle of a human sacrifice, which, being partly a religious rite, is
an affair of a higher order than one of our civilized executions. But our
captain has heard of an English vessel ashore and in distress, a day's
sail below, and is hastening to their assistance. While taking our
departure, therefore, we can only turn our eyes towards the shore, where a
large town is visible, clustered under the shelter of a cocoa-nut grove.

16.--At 7 A.M., we are passing Grand Bassam, seven or eight miles from
land. Our track just touches the outer edge of the semicircular line of
dirty foam, indicating the distance to which the influence of the river
extends. Within the verge, the water is discolored by recent contact with
the earth; beyond it, ripples the uncontaminated, pure, blue ocean. One is
the emblem of human life, muddied with base influences; the other, of
eternity, which is only not transparent because of its depth.

Grand Bassam is one of the many places on the coast, where the French have
recently established forts, and raised their flag. Three large houses are
visible. The one in the centre seems to be the military residence and
stronghold; the other two are long buildings, one story high, and are
probably used as storehouses. A picket-fence surrounds the whole. At
Assinee, likewise, which is now in sight, there is another French fort,
consisting of a block-house and two store-houses, encompassed by pickets.
The French government are also fortifying other points along the coast, in
the most systematic manner. The general plan is, a block-house in the
centre, with long structures extending from each angle, two for barracks,
and two for trading-houses; the whole enclosed within a stockade. They are
imposing establishments, and constructed with an evident view to
durability. It is said that all but French vessels are to be prohibited
from trading within range of their guns, and that a man-of-war is to be
stationed at each settlement. The captain of a Bremen brig informed me,
that the Danes are about to sell their fort at Accra to the French; he
gave as his authority the single Danish officer remaining at Accra.

It is perhaps to be regretted that the colonies of Liberia were not
originally planted in the fertile territory along which we have recently
sailed, and which other nations are now pre-occupying. Liberia does not
appear to possess so rich a soil as most other parts of the coast; there
is more sand, and more marsh, above than below Cape Palmas. But the
country between Cape Palmas and Axim is inhabited by cruel, warlike, and
powerful tribes; and a colony would need more strength than Liberia has
ever yet possessed, to save it from destruction. From Axim to Accra, there
is a chain of forts which have been held by different European nations,
for centuries; nearly all the coast is claimed by these foreigners; while
the interior is occupied by such powerful kingdoms as those of Ashantee
and Dahomey. On these accounts, the tract now called Liberia (extending
about three hundred miles, from Cape Mesurado to Cape Palmas) was the most
open for the purposes of colonization. Even within the limits just named,
however, both France and England have recently betrayed a purpose of
effecting settlements. It is to be hoped that these nations will hereafter
transfer their titles to Liberia. Their policy doubtless is, to hold the
country for its exclusive trade, or until they can obtain advantageous
terms of commercial intercourse with the colonists and natives. The
attention of the Society at home, as well as of the Liberian government,
is now fully awake to the importance of securing territory. They are
aware, that, without vigorous and prompt measures to extinguish the native
title to the country between Monrovia and Cape Palmas, foreign nations
will occupy the intermediate positions, and cause much embarrassment

17.--At Assinee. We boarded a French brig-of-war, the Eglantine, last
evening, and learned that the vessel, which ran ashore here, had gone to
pieces; so that all our hurry was of no avail.

Sailed at 9 A.M. for Axim.

18.--Last night, we had thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. There are
showers and small tornadoes, almost every night, succeeded by clear and
pleasant days. We are now in sight of Cape-Three-Points, and the fort at
Axim. It is pleasant, after the monotonous aspect of the shore to
windward, to see a coast with deep indentations and bold promontories. The
fort at Axim has a commanding appearance, and the country in the vicinity
has a decidedly New-England look.

19.--Ashore at Axim, where we met with some features of novelty. The fort
here is really an antique castle, having been built by the Portuguese so
long ago as 1600, and taken from them by its present possessors, the
Dutch, in 1639. It is of stone, built upon scientific principles, with
embrasures for cannon and loop-holes for musketry. The walls are four feet
thick, and capable of sustaining the assault of ten thousand natives. The
fortress is three stories high, the basement story being widest, and each
of the others diminishing in proportion, and surrounded by a terrace. The
two lower departments are intended for the cannon and the mass of the
defenders; while the Governor occupies the upper as his permanent
residence, and may there fortify himself impregnably, even if an enemy
should possess the fort below--unless, indeed, they should blow him into
the air.

The country claimed by the Dutch, extends about thirty miles along the
coast, and twenty miles into the interior, with a population estimated at
about ten thousand. They seem--particularly those who reside in the
villages beneath the fortress--to be entirely under the control of their
European masters, and to live comfortably, and be happy in their
condition. The natives possess slaves; and there are also many "pawns," of
a description seldom offered to the pawnbrokers in other parts of the
world; namely, persons who have pledged the services of themselves and
family to some creditor, until the debt be paid. It is a good and forcible
illustration of the degradation which debt always implies, though it may
not always be outwardly visible, as here at Axim. The Governor himself,
who is a native of Amsterdam, and apparently a mulatto, is one of those
pawn-brokers who deal in human pledges. He is a merchant-soldier, bearing
the military title of lieutenant, and doing business as a trader. The
Governor of El Mina is his superior officer, and the fort at Axim is
garrisoned by twelve black soldiers from the former place. War has existed
for several years between these Dutch settlements and their powerful
neighbor, the king of Appollonia, who is daily expected to attack the
fortress. In that event, the people in the neighboring villages would take
refuge within the walls, and there await the result.

The native houses are constructed in the usual manner, of small poles and
bamboo, plastered over with clay, and thatched. They might be kept
comfortable if kept in repair, but are mostly in a wretched state,
although thronged with occupants. The proportion of women, as well as
children, appears larger than in other places; and they wear a greater
amplitude of apparel than those of their sex on the windward coast,
covering their persons from the waist to the knee, and even lower. The
most remarkable article of dress is one which I have vaguely understood to
constitute a part of the equipment of my own fair countrywomen--in a word,
the veritable bustle. Among the belles of Axim, there is a reason for the
excrescence which does not exist elsewhere; for the little children ride
astride of the maternal bustle, which thus becomes as useful, as it is
unquestionably ornamental. Fashion, however, has evidently more to do with
the matter than convenience; for old wrinkled grandams wear these
beautiful anomalies, and little girls of eight years old display
protuberances that might excite the envy of a Broadway belle. Indeed,
fashion may be said to have its perfect triumph and utmost refinement, in
this article; it being a positive fact, that some of the Axim girls wear
merely the bustle, without so much as the shadow of a garment. Its native
name is "tarb koshe."

Axim is said to be perfectly healthy, there being no marshes in the
vicinity. The soil is fertile and the growth luxuriant. There is a fine
well of water, from which ships may be supplied abundantly and easily,
though not cheaply. The landing place is protected by small islands and
reefs, which break the force of the swell; so that boats may land with as
much safety and as little difficulty as in a river. One of our boats,
nevertheless, with fifteen or sixteen persons on board, ran on a rock and
bilged, in attempting to go ashore. All were happily saved by canoes from
the beach. There is a great abundance of pearl-shells to be found along
the shore, not valuable, but pretty.

The currency here is gold dust, which passes from hand to hand as freely
as coin bearing the impress of a monarch or a republic. The governor's
weights for gold are small beans; a brown one being equivalent to a
dollar, and a red one to fifty cents.

22.--Ashore; and spent most of the day in the fortress; one of the cool
places of Africa. Situated on a high, rocky point of land, with the sea on
three sides, every breeze that stirs, however lightly, is sure to be felt
on the terraces of the castle of Axim; and they bring coolness even at
noontide, being tempered by the spray constantly rising from the waves
that dash against the rocks below.

There is great difficulty in procuring any supplies here, except wood and
water, and those at a high rate--seven dollars per cord for the former,
and one dollar for each hundred gallons of the latter; this, too,
including only the filling of the casks, and rolling them a short distance
on the beach. We found it impossible to purchase bullocks, sheep, or pigs,
and but very little poultry. The governor explained, that several
men-of-war had recently visited the settlement, and taken all the live
stock that could be spared, and that the war with Appollonia had cut off
the large supply formerly drawn from that country. The natives at this
place cannot furnish vessels with supplies, unless by the governor's
express permission; which, it is said, he does not grant, except upon
condition that they expend the proceeds in purchasing goods from him. One
of our stewards bought a roasting-pig, on shore; and the fact coming to
the ears of Governor Rhule, he notified the people that there would be a
palaver after our departure, for the discovery of the offender. The fine
for a transgression of this kind is two ounces of gold, or thirty-two
dollars. Let us imagine a village storekeeper, in our own country,
possessing supreme control over all the traffic of his neighbors--and we
shall have an idea of the relative position of the Governor of Axim and
the natives. Moreover, he is the general arbitrator, _ex officio_, and
expects that all awards shall be paid in cash, and that the successful
party spend the amount at his shop.

We learned from Governor Rhule, that the Dutch government, some years ago,
had sent agents from El Mina to Comassee, the capital of Ashantee, for the
purchase of slaves, to be employed in the wars between the Dutch East
India settlements and the natives of that region. Three thousand were thus
purchased, at forty dollars each, and transported to Batavia. Perhaps no
circumstance, possible to be conceived, could do more to strip war of its
poetry, than such a fact; and yet it is in good keeping with the character
of a shrewd, commercial, business-like people, endowed with more common
sense than chivalry or sensibility. A British general, in order to carry
on an expedition against a French colony, once entered into a similar
speculation; but it was indignantly annulled by his government. In the
present case, the exportation of slaves, to fight the battles of their
masters, ceased only two or three years since, on the termination of the
war. These servile soldiers continued in Batavia, except a few wounded
ones, who have been sent back to El Mina, and now reside there on

Between Axim and Accra, both inclusive, there are six Dutch forts now
occupied and in repair, besides several which have been abandoned. I was
told that the annual cost of these establishments, to the home-government,
is not more than twenty thousand dollars; most of their expenses being
defrayed by duties, port-charges and other revenue accruing on the spot.

24.--We left Axim yesterday, and anchored, last night, off the British
settlement at Dixcove. This morning, while heaving up the anchor, a boat
came off from the schooner Edward Burley of Bevaley, requesting
assistance, as her spars had been shivered by lightning. Soon after, the
commandant of the fort came on board, in a large and handsome canoe,
paddled by ten or twelve natives. The passengers sit in the bows, using
chairs or stools for seats, and protected from the surf and spray by the
high sides of the canoe. We dined on shore with the Governor, Mr. Swansey,
at his new residence, in the cool and refreshing atmosphere of a high
hill. The house is handsomely furnished in the English style. Mr. Swansey
has resided ten years on the coast, and was one of the persons examined
before the Committee of Parliament in reference to the state and affairs
of this region. There is a circumstance that connects this gentleman,
though but slightly, with poetic annals. Being at Cape Coast Castle at the
time of Mrs. McLean's death, he was one of the inquest that examined into
that melancholy event. His account confirms the general impression, that
her death was unpremeditated, and caused by an accidental over-dose of
prussic-acid, which she was in the habit of taking for spasms. She was
found alone, and nearly dead, behind the door of her apartment. Alas, poor
L.E.L.! It was certainly a strange and wild vicissitude of fate that made
it the duty of this respectable African merchant, in company with men of
similar fitness for the task, to "sit" upon the body--say, rather, on the
heart--of a creature so delicate, impassioned, and imaginative.

The native houses here are quite large; three or four being two stories
high, with balconies, built of stone, in the Spanish style. They are
furnished with sofas, bedsteads, and pictures. One elderly native received
us in a calico surtout, and gave us ale. Another wore the native garb,
with the long cloth folded around him and resting upon his shoulder, like
a Roman toga. He offered champagne, Madeira, gin, brandy, ale, and cigars,
and pressed us to partake, with a dignified and elegant hospitality. This
was Mr. Brace. He had a clerk (of native blood, but dressed in cap,
jacket, and pantaloons, in the English style), who spoke good English, and
was very gentlemanly. It is interesting to meet the natives of Africa at
so advanced a stage of refinement, yet retaining somewhat of their
original habits and character, which is of course entirely lost in the
Liberian colonists.

25.--Spent the morning on shore, at the government-house, reading the
English newspapers, and enjoying the coolness of the position and the
society of the intelligent governor. I was interested in observing an
alligator, inhabiting a fresh-water pond, on the edge of the town. A
chicken being held out to him as a lure, he came out of the pond and
snapped at it, making a loud, startling noise with his teeth. He had
entirely emerged from his native element, and remained some fifteen
minutes on land, during which time he snapped five or six times at the
fowl, which was as often drawn away by a string. At length, seizing his
prey, he plunged with it into the water, dived, swam across the pond, and
rose to the surface on the other side, where he masticated his breakfast,
at his leisure. Three alligators inhabit this pond, and being regarded as
"fetishes," or charmed and sacred creatures, are never injured by the
natives. On their part, the amphibious monsters seem to cherish amicable
feelings towards the human race, and allow children to bathe and sport in
the pond, without injury or molestation. The reptile that I saw was seven
or eight feet long, with formidable teeth and scales.

Instead of the cassada and rice of the windward coast, corn is here the
principal food. After being pounded in their long mortars, it is ground
fine, by hand, between two stones like those used by painters, and is
mixed with palm-wine.

28.--Having repaired the American schooner, and supplied her with one of
our spare topmasts, we are ready to sail to-day.


Dutch Settlement at El Mina--Appearance of the Town--Cape Coast
Castle--Burial-place of L. E. L.--An English Dinner--Festivity on
Ship-board--British, Dutch, and Danish Accra--Native Wives of Europeans--A
Royal Princess--An Armadillo--Sail for St. Thomas--Aspect of the Island.

_April_ 29.--At 10 A.M., anchored off the Dutch settlement of El Mina.
The Governor's lieutenant boarded us in a large canoe, paddled by about a
score of blacks. A salute was fired by our ship, and returned from the
castle with a degree of splendor quite unexpected; for a portion of the
native town, situated beneath the castle-walls, was set on fire by the wad
of a cannon, and twenty or thirty houses burnt to the ground. On landing,
we received a message, intimating that the Governor would be glad to see
us, and consequently called upon him. He is a man of about thirty, who
came out in 1832, as a clerk, and has risen to be Governor, with the
military rank of lieutenant-colonel. All the civil officers have military
titles, and wear the corresponding uniforms, for effect upon the natives;
but the Dutch evince their shrewdness by placing practical men of
business, rather than soldiers, at the head of their colonial
establishments. The only officer of the regular army is a lieutenant,
commanding the guard, of one hundred men.

El Mina--the Mine--was built in 1482, or thereabouts, by the Portuguese,
whose early navigators have left tokens of their enterprise all along this
coast; although the achievements of those adventurous men do but
illustrate the nation's present supineness and decay. The settlement was
taken by the Dutch about a century after its foundation. The main fortress
is extensive, mounting ninety guns, and is capable of withstanding the
assault of a large force of regular troops. On an eminence, above the
town, is a second fort, apparently strong and in good repair; and two
small batteries are placed in commanding situations.

The houses in the town are built of stone, and thatched. The streets are
narrow, crooked, and dirty, imparting to the place the air of intricate
bewilderment of some of the old European cities. Much of the trade is done
in the streets, and entirely by women, who sit with their merchandize on
the ground before them, and their gold-scales in their laps, waiting for
customers. It would perhaps add to our manliness of character, if at least
the minor departments of traffic were resigned to the weaker sex, among
ourselves. Crossing a small river, we came to another, and by far the best
section, of the town. There are long, wide streets, two of which, meeting
at an obtuse angle, form together an extent of nearly a mile. A double row
of trees throw their shade over the central walk of this Alameda. At
intervals are seated groups of women-traders. The wares of some are
deposited upon the ground, while pieces of cloth are displayed to
advantage upon lines, stretching from tree to tree.

Before returning on board, we bespoke rings and chains of a native
goldsmith. The fashions of Africa are less evanescent than those of
Europe; and we may expect to see such ornaments as glittered on the bosom
of the Queen of Sheba.

_May_ 2.--Sailed for Cape Coast Castle with the evening breeze.

3.--At Cape Coast Castle.

The landing is effected in large canoes, which convey passengers close to
the rocks, safely and without being drenched, although the surf dashes
fifty feet in height. There is a peculiar enjoyment in being raised, by an
irresistible power beneath you, upon the tops of the high rollers, and
then dropped into the profound hollow of the waves, as if to visit the
bottom of the ocean, at whatever depth it might be. We landed at the
castle-gate, and were ushered into the castle itself, where the commander
of the troops received us in his apartment.

I took the first opportunity to steal away, to look at the burial-place of
L.E.L., who died here, after a residence of only two months, and within a
year after becoming the wife of Governor McLean. A small, white marble
tablet (inserted among the massive grey stones of the castle-wall, where
it faces the area of the fort) bears the following inscription:--

Hic jacet sepultum
Omne quod mortale fuit
Quam, egregia ornatam indole,
Musis unice amatam;
Omniumque amores secum trahentem,
In ipso aetatis flore,
Mors immatura rapuit,
Die Octobris XV., A.D. MDCCCXXXVIII,
Atat 36.

* * * * *

Quod spectas viator marmor,
Vanum heu doloris monumentum,
Conjux moereng erexit.

The first thought that struck me was the inappropriateness of the spot for
a grave, and especially for the grave of a woman, and, most of all, a
woman of poetic temperament. In the open area of the fort, at some
distance from the castle-wall, the stone pavement had been removed in
several spots, and replaced with plain tiles. Here lie buried some of the
many British officers who have fallen victims to the deadly atmosphere of
this region; and among them rests L.E.L. Her grave is distinguishable by
the ten red tiles which cover it. Daily, the tropic sunshine blazes down
upon the spot. Daily, at the hour of parade, the peal of military music
resounds above her head, and the garrison marches and counter-marches
through the area of the fortress, nor shuns to tread upon the ten red
tiles, any more than upon the insensible stones of the pavement. It may be
well for the fallen commander to be buried at his post, and sleep where
the reveille and roll-call may be heard, and the tramp of his
fellow-soldiers echo and re-echo over him. All this is in unison with his
profession; the drum and trumpet are his perpetual requiem; the soldier's
honorable tread leaves no indignity upon the dead warrior's dust. But who
has a right to trample on a woman's breast? And what had L.E.L. to do with
warlike parade? And wherefore was she buried beneath this scorching
pavement, and not in the retired shadow of a garden, where seldom any
footstep would come stealing through the grass, and pause before her
tablet? There, her heart, while in one sense it decayed, would burst forth
afresh from the sod in a profusion of spontaneous flowers, such as her
living fancy lavished throughout the world. But now, no verdure nor
blossom will ever grow upon her grave.

If a man may ever indulge in sentiment, it is over the ashes of a woman
whose poetry touched him in his early youth, while he yet cared anything
about either sentiment or poetry. Thus much, the reader will pardon. In
reference to Mrs. McLean, it may be added, that, subsequently to her
unhappy death, different rumors were afloat as to its cause, some of them
cruel to her own memory, others to the conduct of her husband. All these
reports appear to have been equally and entirely unfounded. It is well
established here, that her death was accidental.

We dined at the castle to-day, and met the officers of a new English brig,
the Sea-Lark, among whom I was happy to recognize Lieutenant B----, an
acquaintance at Mahon, and a messmate of my friend C----. All these
officers are gallant fellows; and the commencement of our acquaintance
promises to place them and ourselves on the most cordial terms. The
dinner, like other English dinners, was rather noisy, but rendered highly
agreeable by the perfect good feeling that prevailed. At eight in the
evening, we returned on board, though strongly urged to sleep on shore by
the Governor and all our other friends. Such hospitality, though
unquestionably sincere, and kindly meant, it was far better to decline
than accept; for it was much the same as if Death, in the hearty tone of
good-fellowship, had pressed us to quaff another cup and spend the night
under his roof. Had we complied, it would probably have cost the lives of
more than one of us. Our captain took wisdom by the sad experience of the
English brig, which had lost her purser and master by just such a
festivity, prolonged to a late hour, and finished by the officers passing
the night on shore. The fever of the climate punished their imprudence.

All vessels, except those of our own navy, allow their officers to sleep
on shore. They expect to be taken sick, but hope that the first attack of
fever will season them. Possibly, this is as wise a course as the British
officers could adopt; for, unlike ourselves, they are compelled by duty to
trust themselves in pestiferous situations, particularly in the ascent of
rivers, where there is scarcely a chance of escaping the deadly influence
of the atmosphere. They therefore confront the danger at once, and either
fall beneath it, or triumph over it.

4.--Governor McLean, and all the officers of the castle and brig, dined on
board. The table was laid on the quarter-deck, and was the scene of much
mirth and friendly sentiment. In the evening, the theatre was open, with
highly respectable performances; after which came a supper; and the guests
took their leave at midnight, apparently well-pleased.

6.--We sailed yesterday from Cape Coast Castle, and anchored to-day at
Accra, abreast of the British and Dutch forts.

7.--Early this morning, we were surrounded with canoes, filled with
articles for sale. The most remarkable were black monkey-skins. There are
seven vessels at anchor here, including our own, and an English
war-steamer. Three of the seven, a barque, brig, and schooner, are from
the United States. Landing in a canoe, we were met on the beach by the
Governor and some of his gentlemen, and escorted to the castle. Thence we
went to the residence of Mr. Bannerman. He is the great man of Accra,
wealthy, liberally educated in England, and a gentleman, although with a
deep tinge of African blood in his cheeks. But when native blood is
associated with gentlemanly characteristics and liberal acquirements, it
becomes, instead of a stigma of dishonor, an additional title to the
respect of the world; since it implies that many obstacles have been
overcome, in order to place the man where we find him. This, however, is a
view not often taken by those who labor under the misfortune (for such it
is, if they so consider it) of having African blood in their veins.

8.--A missionary, on his way to the Gaboon, and two American
merchant-captains, Hunt and Dayley, dined with us in the ward-room. The
latter are respectable men. The missionary, Mr. Burchell, seems much
depressed. He has had the fever at Cape Palmas, the effects of which still
linger in his constitution; while his companion, the Rev. Mr. Campbell,
although but recently from America, has already finished his earthly
labors, and gone to his reward. We left them only a month ago at Cape
Palmas, in perfect health.

9.--My impressions of Accra are more favorable than of any other place
which I have yet seen in Africa. British and Dutch Accra are contiguous.
The forts of the two nations are within a mile of each other, situated on
ground which, at a little distance, appears not unlike the "bluffs" on our
western rivers; level upon the summit, with a precipitous descent, as if
the land had "caved in" from the action of the water. The country round is
level, and nearly free from woods as far as the rise of the hills, some
ten miles distant. About three miles to the eastward, Danish Accra shows
its neat town and well-kept fortress. I did not visit the place, but learn
that it is fully equal to its neighbors. Thus, within a circuit of three
or four miles, the traveller may perform no inconsiderable portion of the
grand tour, visiting the territory of three different countries of Europe,
and observing their military and civil institutions, their modes of
business, their national characteristics, and all assimilated by a general
modification, resulting from the climate and position in which they are
placed. There seems to be an exchange of courtesy and social kindness
among the three settlements. Seven or eight Europeans reside in the
different forts; so that, together with the captains of merchant-vessels
in the roads, there are tolerable resources of society.

All the Europeans have native wives, who dress in a modest, but peculiar
style, of which the lady of Mr. Bannerman may give an example. She wore a
close-fitting muslin chemisette, buttoned to the throat with gold buttons,
a black silk tunic extending to the thigh, a colored cotton cloth,
fastened round the waist and falling as low as the ankles, black silk
stockings and prunella shoes. This lady is jet black, of pleasing
countenance, and is a princess of royal blood. In the last great battle
between the Europeans on the coast and the powerful King of Ashantee (the
same who defeated and slew Sir Charles McCarthy), the native army was put
to total rout by the aid of Congreve rockets. The king's camp, with most
of his women, fell into the hands of the victors. Three of his daughters
were appropriated by the English merchants, here and at Cape Coast, and
became their faithful and probably happy wives. One of the three fell to
the lot of Mr. Bannerman, and is the lady whom I have described. These
women are entrusted with all the property of their husbands, and are
sometimes left for months in sole charge, while the merchants visit
England. The acting governor of the British fort, Mr. Topp, departs for
that country to-morrow, leaving his native wife at the head of affairs.

Mr. Bannerman is of Scottish blood by paternal descent, but African by the
mother's side, and English by education, and is a gentleman in manner and
feeling. He is the principal merchant here, and transacts a large business
with the natives, who come from two or three hundred miles in the
interior, and constantly crowd his yard. There they sit, in almost perfect
silence, receiving their goods, and making payment in gold-dust and ivory.
Towards us Mr. Bannerman showed himself most hospitable, yet in a
perfectly unostentatious manner.

Accra is the land of plenty in Africa. Beef, mutton, turkeys and chickens
abound; and its supply of European necessaries and luxuries is unequalled.

10.--We got under way, yesterday, for the "Islands," a term well
understood to mean those of St. Thomas and Prince's. Mr. Bushnell (one of
the two missionaries who proposed to take passage with us from Cape
Palmas, a month since) is now on board as a passenger to Prince's Island.
The other, Mr. Campbell, is dead. He was of a wealthy and influential
family in Kentucky, and is said to have been a young man of extraordinary
talent and promise.

Yesterday we fired seventeen minute-guns, in obedience to an order from
the Navy-Department for the melancholy death of its chief, by the
explosion of the Princeton's gun. At twelve o'clock to-day, we fired
thirteen minute guns, as a tribute of respect to the memory of Commodore
Kennon, who fell a victim to the same disastrous accident. Alone on the
waters, months after the event, and five thousand miles from the scene of
his fate, we gave a sailor's requiem to a brave and accomplished officer.

11.--Calm and sunny. Oh, how sunny!--and, alas, how calm!

At Accra, I received a present of an armadillo, or ant-eater, who is
certainly a wonderful animal, and well worth studying, in the tedium of a
calm between the tropics. The body proper is but about nine inches, but,
when stretched at length, he covers an extent of two and a half feet, from
head to tail, and is wholly fortified with an impenetrable armor of bony
scales. On any occasion of alarm, it is his custom to thrust his long nose
between his hind-legs and roll his body and tail compactly together, so as
to appear like the half of a ball, presenting no vulnerable part to an
enemy. In this condition he affords an excellent example of a
self-involved philosopher, defending himself from the annoyance of the
world by a stoical crustiness, and seeking all his enjoyment within his
own centre. His muscular strength being great, and especially that of his
fore-legs, it is very difficult to unroll him. An attempt being made to
force his coil, he sticks his fore-claws into the scales of his head, and
holds on with a death-like grip. At night, however, or when all is quiet,
he vouchsafes to unbend himself, and waddles awkwardly about on his short
legs, in pursuit of cockroaches, weevils and spiders. [Footnote: The
above-described ant-eater is properly the long-tailed Manis, being an
African species of the Pangolin. His scaly armor will turn a musket-ball.
This animal, with a few other natural and artificial curiosities from
Africa, has been deposited in the National collection, attached to the
Patent Office at Washington.] 18.--After many days of calm or light
winds, a stiff and fair breeze, for twenty-four hours past, has been
driving us rapidly on our course. We hope to see St. Thomas to-morrow.

19.--Land was discovered at daylight; but the wind had again failed us. It
being Sunday, divine service was performed, and well performed, by Mr.
Bushnell. He has gained the respect and regard of all on board, by his
amiable, guileless disposition, and unassuming piety.

At noon the breeze freshened, and brought us within ten miles of the
island, by the close of day. St. Thomas is high, and possesses strong
features. One landmark is so singular as to strike every beholder most
forcibly. It is a rock, apparently not less than five hundred feet high,
and shaped like a light-house, towering into the air, about a third of the
distance from the southern extremity of the island. We are now within a
few miles of the equator; and sundry jokes, not unfamiliar to the nautical
Joe Miller, are passing through the ship, touching the appearance of "the

20.--A heavy tornado struck us last night. We were prepared for it,
however, with nothing on the ship but the topsail, clewed down, and the
fore-topmast-staysail. The last mentioned sail blew away, and the ship lay
over with her guns in the water. In five minutes, nevertheless, we were
going before the wind and away from shore.

The appearance of the island is pleasant. A high volcanic peak, hills
covered with wood, and spots of ground reminding us of the lawns or
pasture-lands of our own country. On these tracts not a tree or a bush is
visible for acres together; but whether the soil was left naked by nature,
or rendered so by cultivation, is yet to be ascertained. A ruined chapel
on the top of a hill, a large mansion, apparently unoccupied, on the
shore, and a few huts among the cocoa-trees, are the only evidences that
men have ever been here. Several canoes have now come off to us, bringing
fruit and shells.


Excursion to St. Anne de Chaves--Mode of drying Coffee--Black
Priests--Madame Domingo's Hotel--Catering for the Mess--Man swallowed by a
Shark--Letters from Home--Fashionable Equipage--Arrival at the
Gaboon--King Glass and Louis Philippe--Mr. Griswold--Mr. and Mrs.
Wilson--Character of the Gaboon People--Symptoms of Illness.

_May_ 22.--I have just returned from an excursion to St. Anne de Chaves,
the capital of St. Thomas. Leaving the ship, yesterday, at 9 A.M., we
landed, but did not find the horses which had been ordered from the city.
Deeming it unadvisable to wait, three of the party started on foot, and
two in the "gig" (not the land-vehicle of that name), which was to proceed
on the same destination. After walking three or four miles along the
beach, we met two of the six horses expected. These served to mount a pair
of us, while the third, with the guide and boys, proceeded on foot; it
being arranged that we should travel in the old-fashioned mode of "ride
and tie." Most of the distance was across open land, without a tree or
shrub, but overgrown with coarse, high grass. The whole appearance was
that of a western prairie, but without the grandeur of its extent, or the
flowers that attract the traveller, when wearied with the immensity of
prospect. The soil, like that of the cocoa-nut groves, is a black, deep,
fertile loam.

In two hours, we arrived at St. Anne de Chaves. The town is spread out
upon the circular shore of the bay, nearly half a mile in extent, and is
defended by a stone fort, situated on the extreme point of the cape. There
are three or four hundred houses, which, with few exceptions, are small,
and constructed of wood. A long stone building is appropriated as the
residence of the governor, and contains the public offices. The only
remarkable edifices besides, are a large wooden church, looking very like
a barn, and a smaller one of stone. The streets are unpaved, but kept
remarkably clean, and not without an especial reason. The great, and
almost only, article of commerce is coffee, which is kept in the houses,
and dried daily in the streets. As soon as the sun is up, therefore,
servants sweep the streets, as carefully as if it were a parlor-floor, and
bring out large quantities of coffee, which they spread upon the ground to
dry. At night, it is carried in. More than half the street, at the proper
season, is covered with coffee yet in the husk. The exports of this
article amount annually to about a million of pounds, producing from
seventy to eighty thousand dollars. The only whites residing on the
island, with one exception, are about sixty Portuguese; the number of
colored inhabitants is estimated at fifteen thousand.

Black priests are plenty in the streets, walking about in bombazine robes,
with the crisp hair shaven from their crowns. The Jesuits invariably
followed hard upon the heels of the early Portuguese adventurers, in their
African discoveries; but I am not aware that their efforts to Catholicise
the natives have anywhere produced such permanent results, as in this
island. To be sure, the religion of the inhabitants seems to amount to
little more than the practice of a few external rites; for they have both
the appearance and character of dishonesty and treachery, and are said to
be addicted to all sorts of vice. So far as the black priests possess any
influence, however, it is believed to be used conscientiously, and with
excellent effect; nor, though provoked to smile at these queer specimens
of the cloth, could I indulge the impulse without being self-convicted of
narrowness and illiberally. St. Augustine, and other Fathers of the
church, if I have heard aright, were of the same sable hue as the priests
of St. Anne de Chaves.

The currency of the island is wretched. Coppers are the sole coin in use,
in all domestic transactions, and pass at ten times their intrinsic value.
They are said to be introduced mainly by the American merchantmen, who do
most of the trade with the island.

The foreign business is chiefly transacted by Mr. Lippitt, a Hamburgh
merchant, at whose house we were hospitably received. He set his best fare
before us; and some of the party not only ate at his table, but slept
beneath his roof. The others took lodgings at the house of Madam Domingo,
a fat black lady, whose first husband, a merchant of considerable
business, had left her a large mansion, several slaves, some children, and
other desirable property. A young, dandy-looking negro succeeded to the
vacant place in her house and heart, and now does the honors of the
establishment. The largest room had a singular aspect of familiarity to
our eyes; its walls being adorned with prints of American origin, among
which were portraits of all the Presidents of the United States, previous
to General Harrison. These, perhaps, were the gift of some
merchant-captain to his hospitable landlady; or, more probably, they had
been hung up in compliment to the national sensibilities of Madam
Domingo's most frequent guests. Tawdry mirrors and chandeliers completed
the decoration of the apartment. A supper of coffee and hard-boiled eggs,
beds harder than the eggs, and a bill equally difficult of digestion,
comprise all that is further to be said of the fashionable hotel of St.
Anne de Chaves. After a good breakfast with our Hamburgh friend, we all
embarked in the gig, and, spreading our canvass to the breeze, reached the
ship in an hour and ten minutes.

23.--Ashore with the caterer of the mess, marketing for sea-stores; a
difficult task among a set of people who, though poor, care little about
making a profit by selling what they have. Many of them would not take
money, requiring in payment some article of clothing, especially shirts,
or, as the next grand desideratum, trowsers. By careful research among the
small plantations we were able to pick up a few goats, pigs, and fowls,
and came off with materials to keep the mess in good humor for at least
ten days. None but sea-faring men can appreciate the great truth, that
amiability is an affair of the stomach, and that the disposition depends
upon the dinner.

We found the soil very fertile. Groves of cocoa-nuts cover many acres
together. Beneath the shade, coffee trees were in full bearing; and
bananas, plantains, and corn, flourished luxuriantly. The people are all
blacks, speak Portuguese, and--a circumstance that affords the voyager an
agreeable variety, after seeing so much nakedness--wear clothes. Their
habitations are scattered among the trees. It is usual to have one house
for rainy weather, for sleeping, and for storage, and another as a
kitchen, and for occupation during the day. The first is close, the other
has merely corner-posts, supporting a roof sufficiently light to make a

Part of the day was spent in picking up shells upon the shore.
Occasionally, I unhoused a "soldier-crab," who had taken up free quarters
in some unoccupied cone, and became so delighted with its shelter as never
to move without dragging it at his heels along the sand.

24.--6 P.M., a horrid accident has just occurred. As the gig was coming
alongside, under sail, the tiller broke, and the coxswain who was
steering, fell overboard. He was a good swimmer, and struck out for the
ship, not thirty yards distant, while the boat fell off rapidly to the
leeward. In less than half a minute, a monstrous shark rose to the
surface, seized the poor fellow by the body, and carried him instantly
under. Two hundred men were looking on, without the power to afford
assistance. We beheld the water stained with crimson for many yards
around--but the victim was seen no more! Once only, a few seconds after
his disappearance, the monster rose again to the surface, displaying a
length of well nigh twenty feet, and then his immense tail above the
water, as if in triumph and derision. It was like something preternatural;
and terribly powerful he must have been, to take under so easily, and
swallow, in a moment, one of the largest and most athletic men in the
ship. Poor Ned Martin!

25.--Again visited the town, where we found an American brig, the Vintage
of Salem, Captain Frye. She is from the South Coast, homeward bound, with
a cargo of gum copal. The Captain had some letters for the squadron, which
were now eleven months old. My own gave an account of the President's
visit to Boston, the Bunker Hill Celebration, and other events of that
antediluvian date. Epistolary communication is, at the best, a kind of
humbug. What was new and true, when written, has become trite and false,
before it can be read. It assures of nothing--not even of the existence of
the writer; for his hand may have grown cold, since the characters which
it traced began their weary voyage in quest of us; and all of which we can
be absolutely certain is, that many unexpected events have happened, and
many expected ones have failed to happen, betwixt the sealing of the
letter and the unfolding it again. Until the ocean be converted into an
electric telegraph, through which intelligence will thrill in an instant,
there can be no real communication between the sailor and his far-off
friends. And yet, after all, how pleasant it is to write letters!--how
much pleasanter to receive them! I acknowledged the receipt of these musty
epistles, by the same vessel that conveyed them to me.

I have seen but one equipage in the capital of St. Thomas, but that was a
sufficiently remarkable one; a small, three-wheeled vehicle, like a
velocipede, with a phaeton-top to it. Drawn by two negroes, and pushed by
three, it rolled briskly to the door of the church, and there deposited a
plump and youthful dame, as black as ebony. From the deference shown her
by the priests, I inferred that it was my good fortune to behold the
leading belle of St. Anne de Chaves.

After dining with Mr. Lippitt, we returned to the boats, and got safely on
shipboard before dark. My impressions of St. Thomas and its delightful
climate are highly favorable. A visit to an island has generally more of
interest and amusement than one to a spot on the continent, because the
secluded position of the inhabitants imparts an originality and raciness
to their modes of life.

27.--Got under way yesterday morning for the Gaboon. Today the wind has
been favorable, and we are now at anchor for the night, off the mouth of
the river, five miles from land.

28.--At 4 P.M., anchored within three miles of the missionary
establishment. Mr. Bushnell took his leave, respected by us all, as a
pious, unpretending, sensible, and amiable man.

29.--Ashore. We found our friends well, and glad to see us. They are
comfortably situated in large houses, made of bamboos, and thatched with
the bamboo-leaves sewed together. These present an airy, cool, and light
appearance, highly suitable to a tropical region, and yet are impervious
to rain.

We visited the house of King Glass, where several of the chiefs assembled
to talk a palaver. They are apprehensive of difficulties with the French,
and wish the English and Americans to interpose. According to their story,
the commandant of a French fort, three miles distant, had attempted, a
short time ago, to procure a cession of their territory. This they
constantly refused, declaring their intention to keep the country open for
trade with all nations, and allow exclusive advantages to none. After
several trials, the commandant apparently relinquished his purpose. A
French merchant-captain now appeared, who ingratiated himself into the
favor of the simple King Glass, invited him to a supper, and made his
majesty and the head-man drunk. While in this condition, he procured the
signatures of the King and two or three chiefs to a paper, which he
declared to be merely a declaration of friendship towards the French, but
which proved to be a cession of certain rights of jurisdiction. Next
morning, the French fired a salute of twenty-one guns in honor of the
treaty between Louis Philippe and King Glass, and sent presents which the
natives refused to receive. They now apprehend a forcible seizure of their
territory by the French, and desire our interposition, as calculated to
prevent such a national calamity. Our captain, however, declined to
interfere, or to express any opinion in the premises, on the ground that
it was not his province to judge of such matters abroad, unless the
interests of Americans were involved.

The missionaries have perhaps some agency in this movement. They see the
probability that the Catholic priests will follow them to the Gaboon, and
subvert their influence with the natives.

31.--In the morning I visited Mr. Griswold's place, about two miles from
Baracca, the residence of Mr. Wilson. The former establishment was
commenced only eight months ago; and already there are two buildings
finished, and two more nearly so, all of bamboo. The ground is more
fertile than that occupied by Mr. Wilson, and has been brought thus
seasonably into a good state of cultivation. Mr. Griswold is a Vermonter,
a practical farmer, and an energetic man, and doubtless turns his
agricultural experience to good account, great as is the difference
between the bleak hills of New England, and this equatorial region. His
lady, an interesting woman, is just recovering from fever.

After an agreeable visit, we returned to the ship, accompanied by Mr. and
Mrs. Griswold, and there found Mr. Wilson and lady, and Mr. James and his
daughter. They all dined and spent the day on board. Mr. Wilson is well
known in America by reputation, and is one of the most able and judicious
among the three hundred missionaries, whom the American Board sends forth
throughout the world. Here at Gaboon, he preaches to the natives in their
own language, which he represents as being very soft, and easy of
acquirement. The people frequent divine services with great regularity,
and are at least attentive listeners, if not edified by what they hear.
Mrs. Wilson is a lady of remarkable zeal and energy. Reared in luxury, in
a Southern city, she liberated her slaves, gave up a handsome fortune to
the uses of missions, and devoted herself to the same great cause, in that
region of the earth where her faith and fortitude were likely to be most
severely tried. It is now six years since she came to Africa; and she has
never faltered for a moment. Having had the good fortune, on a former
cruise, to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Wilson, at Cape Palmas, I was
happy to renew it here. I have seldom met with a person so well fitted to
adorn society, and never with one in whose high motives of action and
genuine piety I had more confidence.

The natives at the Gaboon, to whom these excellent people are sacrificing
themselves, are said to present more favorable points of character than
those in most other parts of Africa. They are mild in their manners,
friendly to Europeans and Americans, and disposed to imitate them in dress
and customs. They own many slaves among themselves, but treat them with
singular gentleness, and never sell them to foreigners. They are very
indolent, and make no adequate improvement of their advantages for
agriculture and trade. Their country is excellent for grazing, and the
cattle of the best kind; but they take so little forethought as to sell
even the last cow, should a purchaser offer. Consequently, there are
hardly more than thirty cattle left in a tract of country capable, in its
present state, of sustaining a thousand.

King Glass is an old man, much inclined to drink, yet more regular than
any of his subjects in attendance at church. Toko, a headman, is very
shrewd and intelligent, and highly spoken of by Mr. Wilson, in reference
to his moral qualities. Will Glass, nephew to the King, is blessed with a
couple of dozen wives, and seldom moves without a train of five or six of
them in attendance. He paid a visit to our ship in a full-dress English
uniform, said to have cost three hundred dollars. On the other side of the
river lives King Will, a great man, and with the reputation of a polished
gentleman. The slave-trade is carried on in this King's dominions; and,
while I write, a Spanish slaver lies at anchor off his town, waiting for
her human cargo.

_June_ 1.--Got under way, and went down the river about three miles,
when, the wind failing, we anchored. At 3 P.M., we started again, and
stood out to sea. Mr. Wilson accompanied us to the mouth of the river, and
there left us, bearing back our hearty good wishes for his personal
prosperity and that of the mission.

2.--At 12, meridian, we have made the run to the island of St. Thomas, and
are now about fifteen miles to the northward of it.

3.--The wind is still sufficiently fresh and fair to enable us to make
seven knots westing; the great desideratum. Four months we have been
running away from our letters; and now we go to meet them. Blow, breezes,
blow, and waft us swiftly onward!

4.--A continuance of favorable winds. I am not well to-day. Slight
headache, and heaviness of feeling--no great matter--but these are ominous
symptoms, on the coast of Africa.

5.--One year since we left America; a year not without incident and
interest. We are still on the first parallel of north latitude, and going
nine. I am under the surgeon's hands, apprehending a fever, but hoping to
throw it off.

6.--We have made two hundred and twenty miles within the last twenty-four
hours; and still the breeze does not slacken. Much better in health. Bless
the man who first invented Doctors!


Recovery from Fever--Projected Independence of Liberia--Remarks on Climate
and Health--Peril from Breakers--African Arts--Departure for the Cape de
Verds--Man Overboard.

June 18.--A weary blank! Since my last date, I have had the coast fever,
caught by sleeping on shore, at St. Anne de Chaves, and am now just
recovering my physical force. My sickness was accompanied with little
bodily pain, but with great prostration of strength. Able medical advice,
and kind and judicious treatment, have brought me up a little; and, with
the help of God, I may again call myself well, in a week or two more. But
there is great danger of relapses, caution!

We are now at Monrovia, having made the passage from the river Gaboon,
hitherward, in seven days and fourteen hours, from anchorage to
anchorage--an unprecedented run! The Macedonian has been here, and is

19.--Still better this morning. The sky looks brighter than before; the
woods seem greener, and cast a lovelier shade; the surf breaks more
gracefully along the beach; and the natives, paddling their canoes around
the ship, look more human--more like brethren. Returning health gives a
more beautiful aspect to all things. It is almost worth while to have been
brought so low by sickness, for the sake of the freshness of body and
spirit, the renewed youth, the tenderer susceptibility to all good
impressions, which make my present consciousness so delightful. It is like
being new-created, and placed in a new world. Life, to the convalescent,
looks as fair and promising as if he had never tried it, and been weary of

20.--Still improving. The fine weather of yesterday and to-day invigorates
and cheers me. Lieutenant Governor Benedict and some friends are expected
on board, by special invitation. We pay much attention to the persons in
authority here; it being the policy of our government to befriend and
countenance the colonies. I hear that a serious effort is now in progress,
at this place, to declare Liberia independent of the Colonization Society,
and set up a republic. Lieutenant Governor Benedict and Mr. Teage are said
to be at the head of the movement. Both are men of talent. Mr. Teage
formerly edited the Liberia Herald, and preached in the Baptist Church,
where his services were most emphatically gratuitous; for he not only
ministered without a stipend, but supplied a place of worship--the sacred
edifice being his own private property. He is certainly one of the ablest,
if not the very ablest, writer and preacher in the colony. The project
above-mentioned seems to me an unwise one; but benefits, which do not now
appear, may possibly be obtained by sundering the relations between the
settlement and the parent society. Much is expected from England. That
nation, however, can never feel a maternal interest in the colony, nor
will do for it what the Society has all along done, and continues to do.

21.--Still stronger. I am now able to resume my place at the mess-table.
But care is necessary to avoid a relapse. It is one of the worst features
of this disease, that it appears to continue in the system for many months
after the patient's recovery, and to renew its attacks upon the slightest
exposure. Most persons find it necessary to leave the coast, in order to
the re-establishment of their health. I am not the only convalescent on
board the ship. Mr. Ewal, a young Danish supercargo, is here for a few
days, to try the benefit of a change of air, and enjoy the attendance of a
regular physician. He has been on shore above a month, sick of the fever,
under the charge of Dr. Prout, a colored practitioner. Our captain pitied
his condition, invited him on board, and, with his uniform kindness, took
him into the cabin, where, in only three days, he has already improved

27.--A sunny day, after three or four dull and rainy ones. My health is
now so far restored, that I shall insert no more bulletins. I owe much to
the care of our surgeon, who is very able and attentive, and has seen much
yellow-fever practice, in the West Indies. The assistant-surgeon is also
an excellent and an untiring officer. My fever, like the other cases which
have happened on board, was of a bilious kind. All foreigners make
themselves liable to it, either in its milder or more aggravated forms, by
sleeping even a single night on shore; but, according to Dr. Hall, a
physician of great experience on the coast, health may be preserved for an
indefinite period, by the simple precaution of sleeping always on
ship-board, at a very moderate distance from land. This does not
altogether coincide with my own observations. It is true, that during
eight or ten months after the arrival of a ship upon the coast, the health
of her crew will probably continue good, if they neither sleep on shore
nor ascend the rivers. But, if exposed for a longer period to the
enervating influences of the unceasing heat, and the frequent penetrating
rains, it may reasonably be expected that any ship's company will be
broken down, even though not a single death may occur. In our own ship, we
have recently had many cases of fever, where the patients have neither
slept on shore, nor been exposed to the peculiar malaria of rivers.
Doubtless, however, the fever of the country, where all due precautions
have been used, will be much lighter on board, than on shore. But the
patients will be liable to frequent relapses, and a complete recovery will
be almost out of the question, without a change of climate. It is another
objection to the long continuance of ships on this station, that all
wounds or injuries, however slight, have a tendency to become obstinate
and dangerous sores, which incapacitate these afflicted from performing
any duty.

Besides the coast fever (which, Dr. Hall remarks, he has never known an
emigrant completely to escape), there is an intermittent fever, against
which no acclimation will protect the colonist, any more than against the
bilious fever of America. The Rev. Mr. James, a colored missionary, told
me, that, for seven years, he had been accustomed to suffer attacks of
fever, once in every four or five weeks.

The natives of this country are as healthy as any people under Heaven. A
benignant Providence has adapted the climate, soil, and productions, of
every part of the globe to the constitutions of those races of mankind
which it has placed there. Nor is Africa an exception. In spite of her
desolating wars, and the immense drain of her children through the slave
trade which for centuries has checked the increase of population, she is
still a populous country. The aboriginal natives, unless killed through
superstition or cruelty, survive to an almost patriarchal longevity. The
colored people of America, or any other part of the world, may be regarded
as borrowed from Africa, and inheriting a natural adaptation to her soil
and climate. Such emigrants, therefore, may be expected to suffer less
than the whites, in the process of acclimation, and may, in due time, find
their new residence more genial to their constitutions, than those which
they have quitted. At all events, their children will probably flourish
here, and attain a fulness of physical, and perhaps moral and intellectual
perfection, which the colored race has fallen short of, in other regions.

As the country becomes cleared and cultivated, the mortality of the
emigrants decreases. It is asserted to be one-third less, at this period,
than it was ten years ago. The statistics of Cape Palmas show the
population to be on the increase, independently of immigration. Dr. Hall
affirmed (but, I should imagine, with unusual latitude of expression)
that, in the sickliest season ever known at Cape Palmas, the rate of
mortality was lower than that of the free colored population in Baltimore,
in an ordinary year. In another generation, this may no doubt be said with
perfect accuracy.

28.--Last night, the Porpoise came in, and anchored inside of us. As we
lay unusually near the shore, and as the wind was rising, with a heavy
swell, the brig found herself, this morning, in a dangerous position. She
sent us a boat, to say that she was dragging her anchor, and to ask for a
hawser. This was immediately supplied; but, before we could give her the
end of it, she had drifted into the breakers. She hoisted her colors,
union down, and was momentarily expected to strike. At this instant, a
tremendous roller swamped one of our boats, and left the men swimming for
their lives. The other boats went to their assistance, and providentially
succeeded in rescuing them all. Meantime, the brig made sail, and, by the
help of our hawser, was able to keep her wind, and got out to sea, leaving
both her anchors behind.

Soon after the Porpoise was saved, we found ourselves likewise in equal
peril. The breakers began to whiten about the ship. The wind was not
violent, but the swell was terrible; and the long rollers filled the bay,
breaking in forty feet of water, and covering the sea with foam. Our
anchors held tolerably well; but we dragged slowly, until, from seven
fathoms, we had shoaled our water to four and a half. A council of the
officers being called, it was determined to get under way. A hawser and
stream-anchor being sent out, in order to bring the ship's head in the
proper direction for making sail, the cables were slipped. It was a moment
of intense interest; for, had the rollers or the wind inclined the ship
from her proper course, we must inevitably have been lost; but she stood
out beautifully, and soon left all peril astern.

There were still three merchant-vessels at anchor; the American barque
Reaper, a Bremen brig, and a Hamburg schooner. While we had our own danger
to encounter, we thought the less of our fellow-sufferers; but, after our
escape, it was painful to think of leaving them in jeopardy. To the
American barque (which lay inshore of us, with her colors union down) we
sent a boat, with sixteen Kroomen, by whose assistance she was saved. The
Bremen brig had her colors at half-mast, appealing to us for aid. She was
nearer to the shore than the other vessels, and lay in the midst of the
breakers, which frequently covered her from stem to stern. Her escape
seemed impossible; and her cargo, valued at thirty thousand dollars, would
have been considered a dear purchase at a thirtieth of that sum. We gave
her all the help in our power, and not without effect; but her salvation,
under Providence, was owing to a strong tide, which was setting out of the
river, and counteracted the influence of wind and swell. Finally, we had
the satisfaction to see all the vessels, one after another, come off safe.

During this scene, there was great commotion on shore, the people
evidently expecting one or all of us to be lost. When the Porpoise got
off, the Kroomen on the beach raised a great shout of joy.

29.--There is a very heavy sea this morning, with no prospect of its
immediately subsiding. The Kroomen say that it will last four days from
its commencement. It must have been terrific in the bay, last night. All
the vessels are in sight, keeping off till the swell abates. We have left
two boats behind us, and two anchors, besides the stream-anchor. There has
been nothing like this storm, since our arrival on the coast.

_July_ 2.--Again at anchor.

As we shall soon have done with Liberia, I must not forget to insert,
among the motley records of this journal, some account of its ants. The
immense number of these insects, which infest every part of the land, is a
remarkable provision in the economy of Africa, as well as of other
tropical countries. Though very destructive to houses, fences, and other
articles of value, their ravages are far more than repaid by the benefits
bestowed; for they act as scavengers in removing the great quantity of
decaying vegetable matter, which would otherwise make the atmosphere
intolerable. They perform their office both within doors and without.
Frequently, the "drivers," as they are called, enter houses in myriads,
and, penetrating to the minutest recesses, destroy everything that their
omnivorous appetite can render eatable. Whatever has the principle of
decay in it, is got rid of at once. All vermin meet their fate from these
destroyers. Food, clothing, necessaries, superfluities, mere trash, and
valuable property, are alike in their regard, and equally acceptable to
their digestive powers. They would devour this journal with as little
compunction as so much blank paper--and a sermon as readily as the
journal--nor would either meal lie heavy on their stomachs. They float on
your coffee, and crawl about your plate, and accompany the victuals to
your mouth.

The ants have a Queen, whom the colonists call Bugga-Bug. Her subjects are
divided into three classes; the Laborers, who do nothing but work--the
Soldiers, who do nothing but fight--and the Gentry, who neither work nor
fight, but spend their lives in the pleasant duty of continuing their
species. The habitations of these insects, as specimens of mechanical
ingenuity, are far superior to the houses of the natives, and are really
the finest works of architecture to be met with on the African coast. In
height, these edifices vary from four to fifteen or twenty feet, and are
sometimes ten or twelve feet in diameter at the base. They contain
apartments for magazines, for nurseries, and for all other domestic,
social, and public purposes, communicating with one another, and with the
exterior, by innumerable galleries and passages. The clay, which forms the
material of the buildings, is rendered very compact, by a glutinous
matter, mixed with earth; and all the passages, many of which extend great
distances under ground, are plastered with the same kind of stucco.
Captain Tuckey, in his expedition to the river Zaire, discovered ant-hills
composed of similar materials to the above, but which, in shape, precisely
resembled gigantic toad-stools, as high as a one-story house. In this part
of Africa, they have the form of a mound. At the present day, when the
community-principle is attracting so much attention, it would seem to be
seriously worth while for the Fourierites to observe both the social
economy and the modes of architecture of these African ants. Providence
may, if it see fit, make the instincts of the lower orders of creation a
medium of divine revelations to the human race: and, at all events, the
aforesaid Fourierites might stumble upon hints, in an ant-hill, for the
convenient arrangement of those edifices, which, if I mistake not, they
have christened Phalanxteries.

8.--At 11 A.M., got under way for the Cape de Verds.

10.--Calm in the morning, and predictions of a long passage. At noon,
sprung up a ten-knot breeze; and are sanguine of making a short run. In
the evening, at the tea-table, we were talking of the delights of
Saratoga, at this season, and contrasting the condition of the fortunate
visitors to that fashionable resort, with that of the sallow, debilitated,
discontented cruisers on the African station. In the midst of the
conversation, the cry of "man overboard," brought us all on deck with a
rush. There was not much sea, though we were going seven knots. The man
kept his head well above water, and swam steadily toward the life-buoy,
which floated at a short distance from him--his only hope--while the wide
Atlantic was yawning around him, eager for his destruction. We watched him
anxiously, until he seized it, and then thought of sharks. We were too far
at sea, however, for many of these monsters to be in attendance. In a few
moments a boat picked up man and buoy, and the ship was on her course

21.--Anchored at Porto Praya.

The season of journalizing, to any good purpose, is over. Scenes and
objects in this region have been so often presented to my eyes, that they
now fail to make the vivid impressions which could alone enable me (were
that ever possible) to weave them into a lively narrative of my
adventures. My entries therefore, for the rest of the cruise, are likely
to be "few, and far between."


Glimpses of the bottom of the Sea--The Gar-Fish--The Booby and the
Mullet--Improvement of Liberia--Its Prospects--Higher social position of
its Inhabitants--Intercourse between the White and Colored Races--A Night
on Shore--Farewell to Liberia.--Reminiscence of Robinson Crusoe.

_September_ 1.--At Porto Grande.

To-day, as for many previous days, the water has been beautifully clear.
The massive anchor and the links of the chain-cable, which lay along the
bottom, were distinctly visible upon the sand, full fifty feet below.
Hundreds of fish--the grouper, the red snapper, the noble baracouta, the
mullet, and many others, unknown to northern seas--played round the ship,
occasionally rising to seize some floating food, that perchance had been
thrown overboard. With my waking eye, I beheld the bottom of the sea as
plainly as Clarence saw it in his dream; although, indeed, here were few
of the splendid and terrible images that were revealed to him:--

"A thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels."

Nevertheless, it was a sight that seemed to admit me deeper into the
liquid element than I had ever been before. Now and then came the long,
slender gar-fish, and, with his sword-like beak, struck some unhappy fish
which tempted his voracity. I watched the manoeuvres of the destroyer and
his victims, with no little interest. The fish (which, in the two
instances particularly observed, was the mullet) came instantly to the
surface, on being struck, and sprang far out of water. He swam on his side
with a circular motion, keeping his head above the surface. From time to
time he leaped into the air, spasmodically, and in a fit of painful agony;
for it could not be from alarm, as the foe was nowhere visible. Gradually,
his strength failed, and his efforts became feebler, and still more

The fates of the two mullets were different. One received a second blow
from the inexorable gar-fish, which, for a moment, increased his agony and
his exertions. He then lay motionless upon the surface, at rest from all
trouble. The conqueror came a third time, seized his prey, and swam
swiftly out of sight.

The other mullet, which rose half an hour afterwards, swam closer to the
ship than his predecessor, and received no second blow. While the poor
fellow was yet in the death-struggle, came two great sable birds, with
bills, wings, and legs, like those of the heron. Flapping their dark wings
in the air, they circled round, and repeatedly swooped almost upon the
dying fish. But he was not doomed to be their victim. Presently, with his
brown back, white breast, and pink bill, came flapping along a booby, and,
without a moment's hesitation, stooped upon the mullet, and appeared to
swallow him in the twinkling of an eye. The fish was at least six inches
in length, and the bird not twice as much. How so liberal a morsel could
be so quickly disposed of, was a marvel to a dozen idlers, who had been
curiously observing this game of life and death to one party, and a dinner
to the other. Certainly, the booby carried off the fish. Borne down by the
weight of his spoil, the feathered gormandizer alighted on the
water--rested himself for a moment--rose again, and re-alighted--and in
this manner, with many such intervals of repose, made his way to the

25.--At 1 P.M., sailed for the Coast, in company with the Truxton.

26.--Anchored off Cape Mesurado.

It is now fourteen months since our ship first visited Monrovia. Within
that period there has been a very perceptible improvement in its
condition. The houses are in better repair; the gardens under superior
cultivation. There is an abundant supply of cattle, which have been
purchased from the natives. More merchant-vessels now make this their
port, bringing goods hither, and creating a market for the commodities,
live stock, and vegetables, of the colonists. An increased amount of money
is in circulation; and the inhabitants find that they can dispose of the
products of their industry for something better than the cloth and
tobacco, which they were formerly obliged to take in payment. The squadron
of United States men-of-war, if it do no other good, will at least have an
essential share in promoting the prosperity of Liberia.

After having seen much, and reflected upon the subject even to weariness,
I write down my opinion, that Liberia is firmly planted, and is destined
to increase and prosper. This it will do, though all further support from
the United States be discontinued. A large part of the present population,
it is true, are ignorant, and incompetent to place a just estimate on
freedom, or even to comprehend what freedom really is. But they are
generally improving in this respect; and there is already a sufficient
intermixture of intelligent, enterprising and sagacious men, to give the
proper tone to the colony, and insure its ultimate success. The great
hope, however, is in the generation that will follow these original
emigrants. Education is universally diffused among the children; and its
advantages, now beginning to be very manifest, will, in a few years, place
the destinies of this great enterprise in the hands of men born and bred
in Africa. Then, and not till then, will the experiment of African
colonization, and of the ability of the colonists for self-support and
self-government, have been fairly tried. My belief is firm in a favorable

Meantime, it would be wiser in the Colonization Society, and its more
zealous members, to moderate their tone, and speak less strongly as to the
advantages held out by Liberia. Unquestionably, it is a better country
than America, for the colored race. But they will find it very far from a
paradise. Men, who expect to become independent and respectable, can only
achieve their object here on the same terms as everywhere else. They must
cultivate their minds, be willing to exert themselves, and not look for a
too easy or too rapid rise of fortune. One thing is certain. People of
color have here their fair position in the comparative scale of mankind.
The white man, who visits Liberia, be he of what rank he may, and however
imbued with the prejudice of hue, associates with the colonists on terms
of equality. This would be impossible (speaking not of individuals, but of
the general intercourse between the two races) in the United States. The
colonist feels his advantage in this respect, and reckons it of greater
weight in the balance than all the hardships to which he is obliged to
submit, in an unwonted climate and a strange country. He is redeemed from
ages of degradation, and rises to the erect stature of humanity. On this
soil, sun-parched though it be, he gives the laws; and the white man must
obey them. In this point of view--as restoring to him his long-lost
birthright of equality--Liberia may indeed be called the black man's

It is difficult to lay too great stress on the above consideration. When
the white man sets his foot on the shore of Africa, he finds it necessary
to throw off his former prejudices. For my own part, I have dined at the
tables of many colored men in Liberia, have entertained them on shipboard,
worshipped with them at church; walked, rode, and associated with them, as
equal with equal, if not as friend with friend. Were I to meet those men
in my own town, and among my own relatives, I would treat them kindly and
hospitably, as they have treated me. My position would give me confidence
to do so. But, in another city, where I might be known to few, should I
follow the dictates of my head and heart, and there treat these colored
men as brethren and equals, it would imply the exercise of greater moral
courage than I have ever been conscious of possessing. This is sad; but it
shows forcibly what the colored race have to struggle against in America,
and how vast an advantage is gained by removing them to another soil.

10.--Yesterday, Governor Roberts gave our officers a farewell dinner. We
left the table early, made our adieus, and were on our way down the river
half an hour before sunset. The pilot and some of our friends endeavored
to dissuade us from attempting the passage of the bar, pronouncing the
surf too dangerous. Some Kroomen also discouraged us, saying that the bar
was "too saucy." With the fever behind us, and the wild breakers and
sharks before, it was matter of doubt what course to pursue. Anxiety to be
on our way homeward settled the difficulty; and we left the wharf, to
make, at least, a trial. A trial, and nothing more, it proved; for, as we
neared the bar, it became evident that there would be great rashness in
attempting to cross. The surf came in heavily, and with the noise of
thunder, and the gigantic rollers broke into foam, across the whole width
of the bar. Darkness had fallen around us, with the sudden transition of a
tropical climate. There was no open space visible amid the foam; and,
while the men lay on their oars, we looked anxiously for the clear water,
which marks the channel to the sea. Many minutes were thus spent, looking
with all our eyes.

A council of war was held between the captain and myself, in which we
discussed the probabilities of being swamped and eaten. Having once fairly
started, we did not like to turn back, especially as it would be necessary
to go through the insipid ceremony of repeating our good-bye. Then, too,
the image of fever rose behind us. By the prohibition of the Commodore,
and the dictates of prudence, not an officer had slept on shore on any
part of the mainland of the African coast, during the whole period of our
cruise; and now, at the very last moment, to be compelled to incur the
risk, was almost beyond patience. On the other hand, there was the foaming
surf, and the ravenous sharks, in whose maws there was an imminent
probability of our finding accommodation, should we venture onward. It is
a fate proper enough for a sailor, but which he may be excused for
avoiding as long as possible. Our council ended, therefore, with a
determination to turn back, and trust to the tender mercies of the fever.

It was a splendid moonlight night; one of those nights on which the
natives deem it impossible to catch fish, saying that the sky has too many
eyes, and that the fish will shun the bait. The frogs kept up an incessant
chorus, reminding me of the summer evening melodies of my native land, yet
as distinct from those as are the human languages of the two countries. I
have observed that the notes of frogs are different in different parts of
the world. On the banks of the beautiful Arno, it is like the squalling of
a cat. Here, it is an exact imitation of the complaining note of young
turkeys. Unweariedly, these minstrels made music in our ears, until dawn
gleamed in the East, and ushered in a bright and glorious morning. The
birds now took the place of the frogs in nature's orchestra, and cooed,
peeped, chattered, screamed, whistled, and sang, according to their
various tastes and abilities. The trees were very green, and the dew-drops
wonderfully brilliant; and, amid the cheerful influence of sun-rise, it
was difficult to believe that we had incurred any deadly mischief, by our
night's rest on the shore of Africa.

At a later period, I add, that no bad result ensued, either to the
captain, myself, or the eight seamen, who were detained ashore on the
above occasion. This good fortune may be attributable to the care with
which we guarded ourselves from the night-air and the damps; and besides,
we left the coast immediately, and, after a brief visit to Sierra Leone,
pursued our homeward course to America. On another occasion, a lieutenant,
a surgeon, and six men, belonging to our squadron, were detained on shore
at Cape Mount, all night, after being capsized and wet. What were their
precautions, I am unable to say; but, all the officers and men were
attacked by fever, more or less severely, and in one instance fatally.
[Footnote: While revising these sheets for the press, the writer hears of
an example which may show the necessity of the health-regulations imposed
on the American squadron. The U.S. ship Preble ascended the River Gambia
to the English settlement of Bathurst, a distance of fifteen miles, to
protect the European residents against an apprehended attack of the
natives. Although the ship remained but one or two days, yet, in that
brief space, about a hundred cases of fever occurred on board, proving
fatal to the master, a midshipman, and seventeen of the crew.] And now we
leave Liberia behind us, with our best wishes for its prosperity, but with
no very anxious desire to breathe its fever-laden atmosphere again. There
is enough of interest on the African station; but life blazes quickly
away, beneath the glare of that torrid sun; and one year of that climate
is equivalent to half a dozen of a more temperate one, in its effect upon
the constitution. The voyager returns, with his sallow visage, and
emaciated form, and enervated powers, to find his contemporaries younger
than himself--to realize that he has taken two or three strides for their
one, towards the irrevocable bourne; and has abridged, by so much, the
season in which life is worth having for what may be accomplished, or for
any zest that may be found in it.

Before quitting the coast, I must not forget that our cruising-ground has
a classical claim upon the imagination, as being the very same over which
Robinson Crusoe made two or three of his voyages. That famous navigator
sailed all along the African shore, between Cape de Verd and the Equator,
trading for ivory, for gold dust, and especially for slaves, with as
little compunction as Pedro Blanco himself. It is remarkable that De Foe,
a man of most severe and delicate conscience, should have made his hero a
slave-dealer, and should display a perfect insensibility to anything
culpable in the traffic. Morality has taken a great step in advance, since
that day; or, at least, it has thrown a strong light on one spot, with
perhaps a corresponding shadow on some other. The next age may shift the
illumination, and show us sins as great as that of the slave-trade, but
which now enter into the daily practice of men claiming to be just and


Sierra Leone--Sources of its Population--Appearance of the Town and
surrounding Country--Religious Ceremonies of the Mandingoes--Treatment of
liberated Slaves--Police of Sierra Leone--Agencies for Emigration to the
West Indies--Colored Refugees from the United States--Unhealthiness of
Sierra Leone--Dr. Fergusson--Splendid Church--Melancholy Fate of a Queen's
Chaplain--Currency--Probable Ruin of the Colony.

_October_ 15.--We arrived off the point of Sierra Leone, last night, and
were piloted up to the town, this morning.

This is one of the most important and interesting places on the coast of
Africa. It was founded in 1787, chiefly through the benevolent agency of
Mr. Granville Sharp, as a place of refuge for a considerable number of
colored persons, who had left their masters, and were destitute and
unsheltered in the streets of London. Five years later, the population of
the colony was recruited by above a thousand slaves, who had fled from the
United States to Nova Scotia, during the American revolution. Again, in
1800, there was an addition of more than five hundred maroons, or outlawed
negroes, from Jamaica. And finally, since 1807, Sierra Leone has been the
receptacle for the great numbers of native Africans liberated from
slave-ships, on their capture by British cruisers. Pensioners, with their
families, from the black regiments in the West Indies, have likewise been
settled here. The population is now estimated at about forty-five
thousand; a much smaller amount, probably, than the aggregate of all the
emigrants who have been brought hither. The colony has failed to prosper,
but not through any lack of effort on the part of England. It is the
point, of all others on the African coast, where British energy, capital,
and life, have been most profusely expended.

The aspect of the Cape, as you approach it from the sea, is very
favorable. You discern cultivated hills, the white mansions of the
wealthy, and thatched cottages, neat and apparently comfortable, abodes of
the poorer class. Over a space of several miles, the country appears to be
in a high state of improvement. One large village is laid out with the
regularity of Philadelphia, consisting of seven parallel streets, kept
free from grass, with thatched huts on either side, around which are small
plots of ground, full of bananas and plantain trees. The town itself is a
scene of far greater activity than any other settlement on the West Coast.
Great numbers of negroes, of various tribes and marks, are to be seen
there. So mixed, indeed, is the colored population, that there is little
sympathy or sense of fellowship among them. The Mandingoes seem to be the
most numerous, and are the most remarkable in personal appearance. Almost
without exception, they are very tall figures, and wear white robes, and
high caps without visors.

These Mandingoes hold the faith of Mahomet, and at the time of our
arrival, were celebrating the feast of the Ramazan. Several hundreds of
them paraded through the streets in a confused mass, occasionally stopping
before some gentleman's house, and enacting sundry mummeries, in
consideration of which they expected to receive a present. In front of a
house where I happened to be, the whole body were ranged in order; and two
of them, one armed with a gun, and the other with a bow and arrow, ran
from end to end of the line, crouching down and pretending to be on the
watch against an enemy. At intervals, their companions, or a portion of
them, raised a cry, like those which one hears in the mosques of Asia. The
above seemed to compose nearly all the ceremony; and our liberality was in
proportion to the entertainment, consisting merely of a handful of
coppers, scattered broadcast among the multitude. When this magnificent
guerdon was thus proffered to their acceptance, they forthwith forgot
their mummery, and joined in a general scramble. The king, or chief, now
stept forward, and protested energetically against this mode of
distribution; it being customary to consign all the presents to him, to be
disposed of according to his better judgment. However, the mob picked up
the coppers, and showed themselves indifferently well contented.

When cargoes of slaves are brought to Sierra Leone, they are placed in a
receptacle called the Queen's Yard, where they remain until the
constituted authorities have passed judgment on the ship. This seldom
requires more than a week. The liberated slaves are then apprenticed for
five, seven, or nine years; the Government requiring one pound ten
shillings sterling from the person who takes them. Unless applicants come
forward, these victims of British philanthropy are turned adrift, to be
supported as they may, or, unless Providence take all the better care of
them, to starve. For the sick, however, there is admittance to the
Government Hospital; and the countrymen of the new-comers, belonging to
the same tribe, lend them such aid as is in their power. Food, consisting
principally of rice, cassadas, and plantains, or bananas, is extremely
cheap; insomuch that a penny a day will supply a man with enough to eat.
The market is plentifully supplied with meats, fowls, and vegetables, and
likewise with other articles, which may be tidbits to an African stomach,
but are not to be met with in our bills of fare. For instance, among other
such delicacies, I saw several rats, each transfixed with a wooden skewer,
and some large bats, looking as dry as if they had given up the ghost a
month ago. Supporting themselves on food of this kind, it is not to be
wondered at, that the working-classes find it possible to live at a very
low rate of labor. The liberated slaves receive from four to six pence,
and the Kroomen nine pence per diem; these wages constituting their sole

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