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Observations Upon The Windward Coast Of Africa by Joseph Corry

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Produced by Carlo Traverso, Willy De la Court and Distributed
Proofreaders Europe, http://dp.rastko.net. This file was produced
from images generously made available by the Bibliotheque nationale
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[Illustration: A MANDINGO CHIEF, and his HEADMAN, in their COSTUME, & other







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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_September 1st, 1807_.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




No. I.

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

No. II.

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

No. III.

Of the Purrah

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

Of the Camelion

On the Interment of the Dead

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

Concluding Observations

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


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

Sketch of the Windward Coast of Africa to face page 1


The Colony of Sierra Leone and Islands of Banana

Island of Goree

Porto Praya, Island of St. Jago

Island of Fogo, Cape Verd

Island of St. Jago, and Paps of Cape Verd

Bance Island, River Sierra Leone

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

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

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

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

* * * * *


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 1: Now Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd.]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millet, with a multiplicity too tedious to enumerate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goods adapted to African commerce are,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 blue baft 6 bars
1 bonny chintz & stripe 8
1 white baft 6
1 byrampaut 6
1 chilloe 6
1 bijudapaut 6
1 cushtae 5
1 bonny blue romal 5
1 niccanee 5
1 sastracundie 4
1 India cherridery 6
1 taffety 15
1 cottanee 12
1 dozen britannias 8
1 piece of bandanas 6
1 barrel of powder 60
1 fowling gun 8
1 burding 6
1 soldier's gun 5 bars
1 buccanier ditto 6
1 dozen of cutlasses 8
1 sword blade 2
1 iron bar 1
1000 arangoes 30
1 bunch of point beads 1
1 bunch of mock coral 1
Red pecado 3lb. for 1

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