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Observations Upon The Windward Coast Of Africa by Joseph Corry

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Seed beads, ditto 1
Battery ditto 1
1 Mandingo kettle 1
1 dozen of hardware 3
1 bason 1
1 ton of salt 60
1 fine hat 3
Tobacco, 6lb. to 1
Rum, per gallon 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Mandingo Arabic_.

Subbohanalahe Rabila'ademy
abodehe. Subbohanala rabila
Allah. Subbohana arabe. Inye
allamante, nafuse wa amutate
sue wakefurella. Teyatelillahe
tebates allivatuelub lahey.
Sillamaleko ayo hanabehe, obara
katolahe Sullamalina Ihannabe,
lebadelahe Salihenee"

The address to Mahomet follows,

Sahadala elahe idillaha
Mahomedo, arasoolo lahi
man Mahomedo aboodaho.

_In their idiom of English._

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

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

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

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

To Mahomet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The factories of trade in this river are,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calculating sugar at L20. per cask, and L3. per barrel; rum 150 guilders,
or L12. 10s. per puncheon; coffee 1s. per lb.; cotton L20. per bale of 3
cwt; and molasses a guilder, or 1s. 8d. per gallon, the total amount will
be upwards of L1,600,000.

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

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

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

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

In addition to the foregoing enumeration of commerce, indigo, pepper,
cacoa, or chocolate nut, &c. may be raised to great amount. Of the latter,
an individual planter at Berbice, from a nursery of 500,000 trees had
138,000 bearing ones in 1806, which when gathered in, calculating 5lb. to
each tree, will reimburse him in the sum of L32,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No. I.

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

_London, 5th February, 1807._


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No. II.

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

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


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

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

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

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