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To the Gold Coast for Gold by Richard F. Burton

Part 4 out of 5

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Cock-Fridays, when he was staked down to be killed by 'cock-sticks' or
was whipped to his death by blindfolded carters. He leads the life of a
friar; he is tended carefully as any babe; he is permitted to indulge
his pugnacity, which it would be harsh to restrain, and at worst he dies
fighting like a gentleman. A Tenerifan would shudder at the horror of
our fashionable sport, where ruffians gouge or blind the pigeon with a
pin, squeeze it to torture, wrench out its tail, and thrust the upper
through the lower mandible.

The bird in Tenerife surpasses those of the other Canary Islands, and
more than once has carried off the prizes at Seville. A moderately
well-bred specimen may be bought for two dollars, but first-rate cocks
belonging to private fanciers have no price.

Many proprietors, as at Hyderabad, in the Dakhan, will not part with
even the eggs. The shape of the Canarian bird is rather that of a
pheasant than a 'rooster.' The coat varies; it is black and red with
yellow shanks, black and yellow, white and gold, and a grey, hen-like
colour, our 'duck-wing,' locally called _gallinho_. Here, as in
many other places, the 'white feather' is no sign of bad blood. The
toilet is peculiar. Comb and wattles are 'dubbed' (clean shaven), and
the circumvental region is depilated or clipped with scissors, leaving
only the long tail-feathers springing from a naked surface. The skin is
daily rubbed, after negro fashion, with lemon-juice, inducing a fiery
red hue: this is done for cleanliness, and is supposed also to harden
the cuticle. Altogether the appearance is coquet, sportsmanlike, and
decidedly appropriate.

The game-chicks are sent to the country, like town-born babes in France
or the sons of Arabian cities to the Bedawin's black tents. The cockerel
begins fighting in his second, and is not a 'stale bird' till his fifth
or sixth, year. In early spring aspirants to the honours of the arena
are brought to the towns for education and for training, which lasts
some six weeks. I was invited to visit a walk belonging to a wealthy
proprietor at Orotava, who obligingly answered all my questions. Some
fifty birds occupied the largest room of a deserted barrack, which
proclaimed its later use at the distance of half a mile. The gladiators
were disposed in four long, parallel rows of cages, open cane-work,
measuring three feet square. Each had a short wooden trestle placed
outside during the day and serving by night as a perch. They were fed
and watered at 2 P.M. The fattening maize was first given, and then
wheat, with an occasional cram of bread-crumb and water by way of
physic. The _masala_ and multifarious spices of the Hindostani
trainer are here ignored.

The birds are not allowed, as in India, to become so fierce that they
attack men: this is supposed to render them too hot and headstrong in
combat. Every third day there is a _Pecha_, or spurring-match,
which proves the likeliest lot. The pit for exercise is a matted circle
about 6 feet in diameter. A well-hodded bird is placed in it, and the
assistant holds up a second, waving it to and fro and provoking No. 1 to
take his exercise by springing to the attack. The Indian style of
galloping the cock by showing a hen at either end of the walk is looked
upon with disfavour, because the sight of the sex is supposed to cause
disease during high condition. The elaborate Eastern shampooing for
hours has apparently never been heard of. After ten minutes' hard
running and springing the bird is sponged with Jamaica rum and water, to
prevent chafing; the lotion is applied to the head and hind quarters, to
the tender and dangerous parts under the wings, and especially to the
leg-joints. The lower mandible is then held firmly between the left
thumb and forefinger, and a few drops are poured into the beak. Every
alternate day the cage is placed on loose ground in sun and wind; and
once a week there is a longer sparring-bout with thick leather hods, or

Cock-fighting takes place once a year, when the birds are in fittest
feather; it begins on Easter Sunday and ends with the following

The bird that warned Peter of his fall

has then, if victorious, a pleasant, easy twelve months of life before
him. He has won many a gold ounce for his owner: I have heard of a man
pouching 400_l_. in a contest between Orotava and La Laguna, which
has a well-merited celebrity for these exhibitions. The Canarians ignore
all such refinements as rounds or Welsh mains; the birds are fairly
matched in pairs. _Navajas_, or spurs, either of silver or steel,
are unused, if not unknown. The natural weapon is sharpened to a
needle-like point, and then blood and condition win. The cock-pit,
somewhat larger than the training-pit, is in the Casa de la Galera;
there is a ring for betters, and the spectators are ranged on upper

Lastly of the wine Canary, now unknown to the English market, where it
had a local habitation and a name as early as madeira and sherry, all
claiming 'Shakespearean recognition.' The Elizabethans constantly allude
to cups of cool Canary, and Mr. Vizetelly quotes Howell's 'Familiar
Letters,' wherein he applies to this far-famed sack the dictum 'Good
wine sendeth a man to heaven.' But I cannot agree with the learned
oenologist, or with the 'tradition of Tenerife,' when told that 'the
original canary was a sweet and not a dry wine, as those who derive
"sack" from the French word "sec" would have us believe.' 'Sherris sack'
(_jerez seco_) was a harsh, dry wine, which was sugared as we
sweeten tea. Hence Poins addresses Falstaff as 'Sir John Sack and
Sugar;' and the latter remarks, 'If sack and sugar be a fault, God help
the wicked!' And the island probably had two growths--the saccharine
_Malvasia_, [Footnote: As we find in Leake (p. 197 _Researches in
Greece_) and Henderson (_History of Wines_) 'Malvasia' is an
Italian corruption of 'Monemvasia' ([Greek: _monae embasia_]--a
single entrance), the neo-Greek name for the Minoa promontory or island
connected by a bridge with the Laconian Coast. Hence the French
Malvoisie and our Malmsey. Prof. Azevedo (_loc. cit._) opines that
the date of the wine's introduction disproves the legend of that
'maudlin Clarence in his Malmsey butt.'] whose black grape was almost a
raisin, and a harsh produce like that of the modern _Gual_, with
great volume and alcoholic strength, but requiring time to make it

The Canaries mostly grew white wines; that is, the liquors were
fermented without skins and stalks. Thus they did not contain all the
constituents of the fruit, and they were inferior in remedial and
restorative virtues to red wines. Indeed, a modern authority tells us
that none but the latter deserve the name, and that white wines are
rather grape-ciders than real wines.

The best Tenerife brands were produced on the northern slopes from
Sauzal and La Victoria to Garachico and Ycod de los Vinos. The latter,
famed for its malmsey, has lost its vines and kept its name. The
cultivation extended some 1,500 feet above the sea, and the plant was
treated after the fashion of Madeira and Carniola (S. Austria). The
_latadas_, or trellises, varied in height, some being so low that
the peasant had to creep under them. All, however, had the same defect:
the fruit got the shade and the leaves the sun, unless trimmed away by
the cultivator, who was unwilling to remove these lungs in too great
quantities. The French style, the pruned plant supported by a stake, was
used only for the old and worn-out, and none dreamt of the galvanised
wires along which Mr. Leacock, of Funchal, trains his vines. In Grand
Canary I have seen the grape-plant thrown over swathes of black stone,
like those which, bare of fruit, stretch for miles across the fertile
wastes of the Syrian Hauran. By heat and evaporation the grapes become
raisins; and, as in Dalmatia, one pipe required as much fruit as
sufficed for three or four of ordinary.

The favourite of the Canaries is, or was, the _vidonia_, a juicy
berry, mostly white, seldom black: the same is the case with the
muscadels. The _Malvasia_ is rarely cultivated, as it suffered
inordinately from the vine-disease. The valuable _Verdelho_,
preferred at Madeira, is, or was, a favourite; and there are, or were,
half a dozen others. The _vendange_ usually began in the lowlands
about the end of August, and in the uplands a fortnight or three weeks
later. The grape was carried in large baskets by men, women, and
children, to the _lagar_, or wooden press, and was there trodden
down, as in Madeira, Austria, and Italy. The Canarians, like other
neo-Latins an unmechanical race, care little for economising labour. The
vinification resembled that of the Isle of Wood, with one important
exception--the stove. This artificial heating to hasten maturity seems
to have been soon abandoned.

Mr. Vizetelly is of opinion that the pure juice was apt to grow harsh,
or become ropy, with age. They remedied the former defect by adding a
little _gloria_, a thin, sweet wine kept in store from the
preceding _vendange_; this was done in April or in May, when the
vintage was received at headquarters. Ropiness was cured by repeated
rackings and by brandying, eight gallons per pipe being the normal
ratio. That distinguished connoisseur found in an old malmsey of 1859
all the aroma and lusciousness of a good liqueur; the 'London
particular' of 1865 tasted remarkably soft, with a superior nose; an
1871-72, made for the Russian market, had an oily richness with a
considerable aroma; an 1872 was mellow and aromatic, and an 1875 had a
good vinous flavour.

'Canary' possessed its own especial charac-ter, as Jonathan says. If it
developed none of the highest qualities of its successful rivals, it
became, after eight to twelve years' keeping, a tolerable wine, which
many in England have drunk, paying for good madeira. The shorter period
sufficed to mature it, and it was usually shipped when three to four
years old. It kept to advantage in wood for a quarter of a century, and
in bottle it improved faster. My belief is that the properest use of
Tenerife was to 'lengthen out' the finer growths. I found Canary bearing
the same relation to madeira as marsala bears to sherry: the best
specimens almost equalled the second- or third-rate madeiras. Moreover,
these wines are even more heady and spirituous than those of the
northern island; and there will be greater difficulty in converting them
to the category _vino de pasto_, a light dinner-wine.

Before 1810 Tenerife exported her wines not from Santa Cruz, but from
Orotava, the centre of commerce. Here, since the days of Charles II.,
there was an English Factory with thirty to forty British subjects,
Protestants, under the protection of the Captain-General; and their
cemetery lay at the west end of El Puerto, whose palmy days were in
1812-15. The trade was then transferred to the modern capital, where
there are, and have been for years, only two English wine-shipping
firms, Messieurs Hamilton and Messieurs Davidson. The seniors of both
families have all passed away; but their sons and grandsons still
inhabit the picturesque old houses on the 'Marina.' In 1812-15 the
annual export of wine was 8,000 to 11,000 pipes. The Peace of 1815 was a
severe blow to the trade. Between 1830 and 1840, however, the vintage of
the seven chief islands averaged upwards of 46,000; of these Tenerife
supplied between 4,000 and 5,000, equivalent to the total produce since
the days of the oidium. In 1852 Admiral Robinson reduced the number of
pipes to 20,000, worth 200,000_l_. In 1860-65 I saw the grape in a
piteous plight: the huge bunches were composed of dwarfed and wilted
berries, furred and cobwebbed with the foul mycelium. The produce fell
to 100-150 pipes, and at present only some 200 to 300 are exported. The
Peninsula and the West African coast take the bulk; England and Germany
ranking next, and lastly Spain, which used the import largely in
making-up wines. The islanders now mostly drink the harsh, coarse
Catalonians; they still, however, make for home consumption a cheap
white wine, which improves with age. It is regretable that fears of the
oidium and the phylloxera prevent the revival of the industry, for which
the Islands are admirably fitted. Potatoes and other produce have also
suffered; but that is no obstacle to their being replanted.

I left Santa Cruz and Las Palmas, after two short visits, with the
conviction that both are on the highway of progress, and much edified by
their contrast with Funchal. The difference is that of a free port and a
closed port. In the former there is commercial, industrial, and literary
activity: Las Palmas can support two museums. In the latter there is
neither this, that, nor the other. Madeira also suffers from repressed
emigration. The Canaries wisely allow their sons to make gold ounces
abroad for spending at home.

Spain also, a few years ago so backward in the race, is fast regaining
her place amongst the nations. She is now reaping the benefit of her
truly liberal (not Liberal) policy. Such were the abolition of the
_morgado_ (primogeniture) in 1834, the closing of the 1,800
convents in 1836-37, and the _disamortizacion_, or suppression of
Church property and granting liberty of belief, in 1855. Finally, the
vigour infused by a short--which will lead to a longer--trial of
democracy and of republican institutions have given her a new life. She
is no longer the Gallio of the Western world.



On the night of January 10 we steamed out of Las Palmas to cover the
long line of 940 miles between Grand Canary and Bathurst. The
A. S. S. generously abandons the monopoly of the Gambia to its rival,
the B. and A., receiving in exchange the poor profits of the Isles de
Los. Consequently the old Company's ships, when homeward-bound, run
directly from Sierra Leone to Grand Canary, a week's work of 1,430

Hardly had we lost sight of the brown and barren island and Las Palmas
in her magpie suit, than we ran out of the Brisa Parda, or grey
north-east Trade, into calm and cool Harmatan [Footnote: The word is of
disputed origin. _Ahalabata_, or _ahalalata_, on the Gold Coast
is a foreign term denoting the dry norther or north-easter that blows
from January to March or April (Zimmerman). Christalier makes
_haramata_, 'Spanish _harmatan_, an Arabic word.'] weather. We
begrudged the voyage this lovely season, which should have been kept for
the journey. After the damp warmth of Madeira the still and windless air
felt dry, but not too dry; cold, but not too cold; decidedly fresh in
early morning, and never warm except at 3 P.M. The sun was pale and
shorn, as in England, seldom showing a fiery face before 10 A.M. or
after 5 P.M. The sea at night appeared slightly milky, like the white
waters so often seen off the western coast of India. Every traveller
describes the Harmatan, and most travellers transcribe the errors
touching the infusoria and their coats which Ehrenberg found at sea in
the impalpable powder near the Cape Verde islands. The dry cold blast is
purely local, not cosmical. There is a fine reddish-yellow sand in the
lower air-strata; we see it, we feel it, and we know that it comes from
the desert-tracts of northern Africa. The air rises _en masse_ from
the Great Sahara; the vacuum is speedily filled by the heavier and
cooler indraught from the north or south, and the higher strata form the
upper current flowing from the Equator to the Poles. But 'siliceous
dust' will not wholly account for the veiling of the sun and the
opaqueness of the higher atmosphere. This arises simply from the want of
humidity; the air is denser, and there is no vapour to refract and
reflect the light-rays. Hence the haze which even in England appears to
overhang the landscape when there is unusually droughty weather; and
hence, conversely, as all know, the view is clearest before and after
heavy showers, when the atmosphere is saturated or supersaturated.

On my return in early April we caught the northeast Trades shortly after
turning Cape Palmas, and kept them till close upon Grand Canary. They
were a complete contrast with the Harmatan, the firmament looking
exceptionally high, and the sun shining hot, while a crisp, steady gale
made the 'herds of Proteus' gambol and disport themselves over the long
ridges thrown up by the cool plain of bright cerulean. The horizon, when
clear, had a pinkish hue, and near coast and islands puffy folds of
dazzling white, nearly 5,000 feet high, were based upon dark-grey
streaks of cloudland simulating continents and archipelagoes. Within the
tropics the heavens appear lower, and we never sight blue or purple
water save after a tornado. The normal colour is a dirty, brassy
yellow-brown, here and there transparent, but ever unsightly in the
extreme. It must depend upon some unexplained atmospheric conditions;
and the water-aspect is often at its ugliest when the skies are
clearest. I have often seen the same tints when approaching Liverpool.

Through the Harmatan-haze we failed to sight Cape Juby, opposite
Fuerteventura; and at Santa Cruz I missed Mr. Mackenzie, the energetic
flooder of the Sahara. He has, they say, given up this impossibility and
opened a _comptoir_: its presence is very unpleasant to the French
monopolists, who seem to 'monopole' more every year. South of Juby comes
historic Cape Bojador, the 'Gorbellied,' and Cabo Blanco, which is to
northern what Cabo Negro is to southern Africa. The sole remarkable
events in its life are, firstly, its being named by Ptolemy Granaria
Extrema, whence the Canarii peoples south-west of the Moroccan Atlas and
our corrupted 'Canaries;' and, secondly, its rediscovery by one Goncalez
Baldeza in 1440.

On the afternoon of Saturday (January 14) we sighted in the offing the
two paps of Ovedec, or Cabo Verde, the Hesperou Keras, the Hesperium or
Arsenarium Promontorium of Pliny, the _trouvaille_ of Diniz
Fernandez in 1446. The name is _sub judice_. Some would derive it
from the grassy green slope clad with baobabs (_Adansonia
digitata_), megatherium-like monsters, topping the precipitous
sea-wall which falls upon patches of yellow sand. Others would borrow it
from the _Sargasso (baccifera), Golfao_, or Gulf-weed, which here
becomes a notable feature. Cape Verde, the Prasum Promontorium of West
Africa, is the 'Trafalgar,' the westernmost projection, of the Dark
Continent 'fiery yet gloomy;' measuring 17 deg. 3' from the meridian of
Greenwich. The coast is exceedingly dangerous; consequently shipwrecks
are rare. The owners, as their national wont is, have done their best to
make it safe. Two lighthouses to the north of the true Cape mark and
define a long shoal with a heavy break, the Almadies rocks, a ledge
mostly sunk, but here and there rising above the foam in wicked-looking
_diabolitos_ (devilings), or black fangs, of which the largest is
die-shaped. A third pharos, also brilliantly whitewashed, crowns the
Cape, and by its side is a lower sea-facing building, the sanatorium;
finally, there is a light at the mole-end of Dakar.

Steaming past the Madeleine rocks, here and there capped with green and
whitened by sea-fowl, we sight, through an opening in the curtain of
coast, the red citadel and the subject town of Goree, the Gibraltar of
western Africa, and the harbour of St. Louis, capital of Senegambia. The
island is now the only port, the headquarters having suffered from the
sand-bar at the mouth of the Senegal. Here our quondam rivals have made
the splendid harbour of Dakar, whose jetties accommodate 180,000 tons of
shipping at the same time. This powerful and warlike colony, distant
only twelve hours' steaming from Bathurst, has her fleet of steamers for
river navigation; her Tirailleurs du Senegal, and her large force of
fighting native troops. Fortified stations defend the course of the
river, even above the falls, from the hostile and treacherous Moors. The
subject and protected territories exceed Algeria in extent, and the
position will link the French possessions in the Mediterranean with the
rich mineral lands proposed for conquest in the south.

We English hug to ourselves the idea that the French are bad colonists:
if so, France, like China and India, is improving at a pace which
promises trouble. Algeria, Senegambia, and Siam should considerably
modify the old judgment. Our neighbours have, and honestly own to, two
grand faults--an excessive bureaucracy and a military, or rather a
martinet, discipline, which interferes with civil life and which governs
too much. On the other side England rules too little. She is at present
between the two proverbial stools. She has lost the norm of honour,
Aristocracy; and she has lost it for ever. But she has not yet acquired
the full strength of democracy. This is part secret of that
disorganisation which is causing such wonder upon the continent of
Europe. Moreover, Colonial England has caught the disease of
non-interference and the infection of economy, the spawn of Liberalism;
while her savings, made by starving her establishments, are of the
category popularly described as penny-wise and pound-foolish. France has
adopted the contrary policy. She spends her money freely in making ports
and roads and in opening communication through adjacent countries. She
lately sent a cruiser to Madeira, proposing to connect Dakar by
telegraph with the Cape Verde islands. She is assiduous in forming
friendly, or rather peaceable, relations with the people. She begins on
the right principle by officering her colonies with her best men, naval
and military. In England anyone is good enough for West Africa. She
impresses the natives, before beginning to treat, by an overwhelming
display of force; and, if necessary, by hard knocks. She educates the
children of the chiefs, and compels all her lieges, under a penalty, to
learn, and if possible to speak, French. So far from practising
non-interference, she allows no one to fight but herself. This
imperious, warlike, imperial attitude is what Africa wants. It reverses
our Quaker-like 'fad' for peace. We allow native wars to rage _ad
libitum_ even at Porto Loko, almost within cannon-shot of Sierra
Leone. On the Gambia River the natives have sneeringly declared that
they will submit to the French, who are men, but not to us, who are
------. Later still, the chiefs of Futa-Jalon went, not to London, but
to Paris.

In 1854 France commenced a new and systematic course of colonial
policy. She first beat the Pulos (Fulahs), once so bold, and then she
organised and gave flags to them. She checked, with a strong hand, the
attacks of the Moors upon the gum-gatherers of the Sahara. And now,
after drawing away from us the Gambia trade, she has begun a railway
intended to connect the Senegal with the Niger and completely to
outflank us. This line will annex the native regions behind our
settlements, and make Bathurst and Sierra Leone insignificant
dependencies upon the continent of Gallic rule. The total distance is at
least 820 miles, and the whole will be guarded by a line of forts. It
begins with a section of 260 kilometres, which will transport valuable
goods now injured by ass and camel-carriage. The natives, wearied with
incessant petty wars, are ready to welcome the new comers. The western
Sudan, or Niger-basin, has a population estimated at forty millions,
ready, if a market be opened, to flock to it with agricultural and
industrial products, including iron, copper, and gold. Meanwhile the
Joliba (Black Water), with the Benuwe and other tributaries, offers a
ready-made waterway for thousands of miles. Sierra Leone lies only 400
miles, less than half, from the Niger; but what would the Colonial
Office say if a similar military line were proposed? Nor can we console
ourselves by the feeble excuse that Senegal has a climate superior to
that of our 'pest-houses.' On the contrary, she suffers severely from
yellow fever, which has never yet visited the British Gold Coast. Her
mortality is excessive, but she simply replaces her slain. She has none
of that mawkish, hysterical humanitarianism which of late years has
become a salient feature in our campaigning. During the Ashanti affair
the main object seems to have been, not the destruction of the enemy,
but to save as many privates as possible from ague and fever, sunstroke
and dysentery.

Ninety miles beyond Cape Verde placed us in the Gambia waters, off the
lands of the Guinea region. I will not again attempt a history of the
disputed word which Barbot derives from Ginahoa, the first negro region
visited by the Portuguese; others from Ghana, the modern Kano; from the
Jenneh or Jinne of Mungo Park; from Jenna, a coast-town once of note,
governed by an officer under the 'King' of Gambia-land, and, in fine,
from the Italian Genoa.

The s.s. _Senegal_ spent the night of the 14th on the soft and
slippery mud, awaiting the dawn. What can the Hydrographic Department of
the Admiralty be doing? What is the use of the three cruisers that still
represent the old 'Coffin Squadron'? This coast has not had a survey
since 1830, yet it changes more or less every year, and half a century
makes every map and plan obsolete. But perhaps it would be wrong to risk
seamen's lives by exposure in open boats to 'insolation,' showers, and

From sunrise the sea had changed its Harmatan-grey for a dull, muddy,
dirty green; and the leadsman, who is now too civilised to 'sing out' in
the good old style, calmly announced that the channel was
shallowing. 'Gambia,' or 'Gambi,' the Gamboa and Gambic of Barbot
(Chapter VII.), is said to mean clear water, here a perfect misnomer; it
is miry as the Mersey. The 'molten gold of the Gambia River' is only the
fine phrase of some poetic traveller. Low land loomed on both sides,
with rooty and tufted mangroves, apparently based upon the waves,
showing that we approached an estuary, which soon narrowed from thirty
miles to seven and to two. Three buoys, the outermost red, then the
'fairway' with chequers and cage, and lastly white without cage, all at
a considerable distance off the land, marked the river-bar, and
presently a black pilot came on board from his cutter. We made some
easting running along shore, and gave a wide berth to the Horseshoe Bank
and St. Mary's shoal portwards, to African Knoll and Middle Ground
starboardwards, and to a crowd of other pleasant patches, where the
water was dancing a breakdown in the liveliest way.

As we drew in shore the now burning sun shone with a sickly African heat
through the scirocco-clouds and the thick yellow swamp-reek. 'It will be
worse when we land,' said the normal Job's comforter. Six knots to
starboard, (west), on high and healthy Cape St. Mary, rose a whitewashed
building from a dwarf red cliff. To port on the river's proper right
bank (east) lay Fort Bullen, an outpost upon a land-tongue, dead-green
as paint, embosomed in tall bentangs, or bombax-trees (_Pullom
Ceiba_). This 'silk-cotton-tree' differs greatly in shape from its
congener in Eastern Africa. The bole bears sharp, broad-based thorns;
the wings or flying buttresses are larger; several trunks rarely
anastomose; the branches seldom stand out horizontally, nor are the
leaves disposed in distinct festoons. It is, however, a noble growth,
useful for shade and supplying a soft wood for canoes and stuffing for
pillows. Fort Bullen, about one hour's row from Bathurst, formerly
lodged a garrison of seventeen men under the 'Commandant and Governor of
the Queen's Possessions in the Barra Country.' Now the unwholesome site
has been abandoned.

The island and station of St. Mary, Bathurst, of old a graveyard, now
start up to starboard. The site was chosen apparently for its superior
development of mud and mangrove, miasma and malaria. It is an island
within an island. St. Mary the Greater is the northernmost of that mass
of riverine holms and continental islands which, formed by the Cacheo
and other great drains, extends south to the Rio Grande. Measuring some
twenty miles from north to south, by six from east to west, it is
embraced by the two arms of the Gambia delta, and is marked in old maps
as the Combo, Forni, and Felup country. St. Mary the Less, upon which
stands the settlement facing east, is bounded eastward by the main mouth
and westward by Oyster Creek, a lagoon-like branch: it is a mere
sand-patch of twenty-one square miles, clothed by potent heats and
flooding rains with a vivid and violent vegetation. Water is found
everywhere three feet below the surface, but it is bad and
brackish. There is hardly any versant or shed; in places the land sinks
below the water-level; and, despite the excellent brick sewers, the
showers prefer to sop and sod the soil. And, lest the island should be
bodily carried away by man, there is a penalty for removing even a
pailful of sand from the beach.

Bathurst was unknown in the days of Mungo Park, when traders ran up
stream to Jilifri, nearly opposite Fort James, and to Pisania, the end
of river-navigation. St. Mary's Island, together with British Combo,
Albreda, and the land called the 'Ceded,' or 'English Mile,' were bought
from the Mandenga chief of the Combo province. First christened
St. Leopold, and then Bathurst, after the minister of that name, the
actual town owes its existence to an order issued by Sir Charles
Macarthy. That ill-starred Governor of Sierra Leone (1814-24) is still
remembered in Ashanti and on the Gold Coast: he is immortalised by a
pestiferous island in the Upper Gambia well described by Winwood
Reade. The settlement, designed for the use of liberated Africans, was
built in 1816 by Lieutenant-Colonel Brereton and by Captain Alexander
Grant. In 1821 it was made, like the Gold Coast, a dependency of Sierra
Leone, whose jurisdiction, after the African Company was abolished in

[Footnote: The first African Company was established by Queen Elizabeth,
and in 1688 was allowed to trade with Guinea. The Royal African Company,
or Guinea Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading to Africa, was
incorporated under Charles II. on January 20, 1663. A third was patented
on September 27, 1672. The 'African Company' (1722-24) was not allowed
to interfere with 'interlopers.' On May 7,1820, it was abolished, after
bankruptcy, and its possessions passed over to the Crown.]

extended from N. lat. 20 deg. to S. lat. 20 deg.. I found it an independent
government, one of four, in 1860 to 1865. In 1866 it again passed under
the rule of Sierra Leone; in 1874 this ill-advised measure was
withdrawn, and the Gambia was placed under an Administrator and a
Legislative Council, the former subject to the Governor-in-Chief of
Sierra Leone. A score of years ago it was garrisoned by some 300 men of
the West African Corps. Now it is reduced to 100 armed policemen: the
Gambia militia, composed of the Combo and Macarthy's Island forces, is
never called out. The population of the twenty-one square miles is given
by Whittaker for 1881 as 14,150, including 105 whites. The Wesleyans
here, as everywhere, preponderating on the Coast, number 1,405 souls;
the Catholics 500, and the Episcopalians 200.

Another half-hour placed before us Bathurst in full view. The first
salient point is the graveyard, where the station began and where the
stationed end. Wags declare that the first question is, 'Have you seen
our burial-ground?' A few tomb-stones, mostly without inscriptions, are
scattered so near the shore that corpses and coffins have been washed
away by the waves. If New Orleans be a normal 'wet grave,' this
everywhere save near the sea is dry with a witness, the depth and
looseness of the sand making the excavation a crumbling hole. Four
governors, a list greatly to be prolonged, 'lie here interred.' But
matters of climate are becoming too serious for over-attention to such
places or subjects.

The first aspect of this pest-house from afar is not unpleasant. A long
line of scattered houses leads to the mass of the settlement, faced by
its Marine Parade, and the tall trees give it a home-look; some have
compared the site with 'parts of the park at Cheltenham.' At a nearer
view the town of some 5,000 head suggests the idea of a small European
watering-place. The execrable position has none of those undulations
which make heaps of men's homes picturesque; everything is low, flat,
and straight-lined as a yard of pump-water. The houses might be those of
Byculla, Bombay; in fact, they date from the same epoch. They are
excellent of their kind, large uncompact piles of masonry,
glistening-white or dull-yellow, with blistered paint, and slates,
tiles, or shingles, which last curl up in the sun like feathers. A
nearer glance shows the house-walls stained and gangrened with rot and
mildew, the river-floods often shaking hands with the rains in the
ground-floors. The European ends in beehive native huts, rising from the
swamp and sand; and these gradually fine off and end up-stream, becoming
small by degrees and hideously less.

Bathurst has one compensating feature, the uncommon merit of an
esplanade; the noble line of silk-cotton trees separating houses from
river is apparently the only flourishing item. We remark that while some
of these giants are clad in their old leaves others are bright green
with new foliage, while others are bare and broomy as English woods in
midwinter. They are backed by a truly portentous vegetation of red and
white mangroves, palms, plantains, and baobabs, rank guinea-grass
filling up every gap with stalks and blades ten feet tall.

Nor was the scene in the river-harbour at all more lively. The old
_Albert_, of Nigerian fame, has returned to mother Earth; but we
still note H.M.S. _Dover_, a venerable caricature, with funnel long
and thin, which steams up stream when not impotent--her chronic
condition. There are two large Frenchmen loading ground-nuts, but ne'er
an Englishman. The foreshore is defaced by seven miserable wharves,
shaky mangrove-piles, black with age and white with oystershells, driven
into the sand and loosely planked over. There is an eighth, the
gunpowder pier, on the north face of the island; and we know by its
dilapidation that it is Government property. These stages are intended
not for landing--oh, no!--but only for loading ships; stairs are
wanting, and passengers must be carried ashore 'pick-a-back.' The
labourers are mainly, if not wholly, 'Golah' women of British Combo,
whose mates live upon the proceeds of their labours. To-day being
Sunday, the juvenile piscators of Bathurst muster strong upon the piers,
and no policeman bids them move on.

When the mail-bags were ready, we received a visit from the black
health-officer, and we reflected severely on the exceeding 'cheek' of
inspecting, as a rule, new comers from old England at this yellow Home
of Pestilence. But in the healthy time of the year we rarely see the
listless, emaciated whites with skins stained by unoxygenised carbon, of
whom travellers tell. Despite the sun, all the Bathurstians save the
Government officials--now few, too few--flocked on board. Mail-days are
here, as in other places down-coast, high days and holidays. But times
are changed, and the ruined river-port can no longer afford the old
traditional hospitality.

Cameron and I landed under Brown's Wharf, the southernmost pier opposite
the red roof and the congeries of buildings belonging to the late
proprietor. We then walked up the High Street, or esplanade, which is
open to the river except where the shore is cumbered with boats, hides,
lumber, and beach-negroes. This is a kind of open-air market where men
and women sit in the shade, spinning, weaving, and selling fruits and
vegetables with one incessant flux of tongue. Here, too, amongst the
heaps, and intimately mixed with the naked infantry, stray small goats,
pretty and deer-shaped, and gaunt pigs, sharp-snouted and long-legged as
the worst Irisher.

Several thoroughfares, upper and lower, run parallel with the river; all
are connected, like a chess-board, by cross-lanes at right angles, and
their grass-grown centres are lined by open drains of masonry, now
bone-dry. The pavement is composed of stone and dust, which during the
rains becomes mud; the _trottoirs_ are in some places of brick, in
others of asphalte, in others of cracked slabs. Mostly, however, we walk
on sand and gravel, which fills our boots with something harder than
unboiled peas. The multiplicity of useless walls, the tree-clumps, and
the green sward faintly suggested memories of a semi-deserted
single-company station in Western India; and the decayed, tumble-down
look of all around was a deadly-lively illustration of the Hebrew

I passed, with a sense of profound sadness, the old Commissariat
quarters, now degraded to a custom-house. The roomy, substantial edifice
of stone and lime, with large, open verandahs, here called piazzas,
lofty apartments, galleries, terraced roofs, and, in fact, everything an
African house should have, still stood there; but all shut up, as if the
antique _domus_ were in mourning for the past. What Homeric feeds,
what _noctes coenoeque deorum_, we have had there in joyous past
times! But now that most hospitable of West-Coasters, Commissary Blanc,
has been laid in the sandy cemetery; and where, oh! where are the rest
of the jovial crew, Martin and Sherwood? I found only one relic of the
bygone--and a well-favoured relic he is--Mr. W. N. Corrie, with whom to
exchange condolences and to wail over the ruins.

Passing the post-office and the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and
American consulates, poor copies of the dear old Commissariat, we halted
outside at Mr. Goddard's, and obtained from Mr. R. E. Cole a copy of his
lecture, 'The River Gambia,' read at York, September 1881. It gave me
pleasure to find in it, 'The man that is wanted throughout the West
Coast of Africa is not the negro, but the Chinaman; and should he ever
turn his steps in its direction he will find an extensive and
remunerating field for the exercise of his industry and intelligence.'

We then turned our attention from the town to the townspeople. They have
not improved in demeanour during the last twenty years. Even then the
'liberateds' and 'recaptives,' chiefly Akus and Ibos, had begun the
'high jinks,' which we shall find at their highest in Sierra Leone. They
had organised 'Companies,' the worst of trade-unions, elected headmen,
indulged in strikes, and more than once had come into serious collision
with the military. The Mandengas, whom Mungo Park calls Mandingoes and
characterises as a 'wild, sociable, and obliging people,' soon waxed
turbulent and unruly. This is to be expected; a race of warriors must be
governed by the sword. They would prefer for themselves military law to
all the blessings of a constitution or a plebiscite. But philanthropy
wills otherwise, and in these days the English authorities do not keep
up that state whose show secures the respect of barbarians. Where the
Governor walks about escortless, like a private individual, he must
expect to be 'treated as such.'

There is no difficulty in distinguishing at first sight Moslem from
Kafir. Besides the gypsy-like Pulo, the 'brown race,' our older Fulahs
and Fellalahs, whose tongue is said to be a congener of the Nubian; and
the wild, half-naked pagan Jolu, the principal tribes, are two, the
Mandengas and the Wolofs. The former, whom Europeans divide into the
Marabut, who does not drink, and the Soninki, who does, inhabit a
triangle, its base being the line from the south of the Senegal to the
Gambia River, and its apex the Niger; it has even extended to near
Tin-Bukhtu (the Well of Bukhtu), our Timbuctoo. In old Mohammedan works
their territory is called Wangara. This race of warmen and horsemen
surprisingly resembles the Somal, who hold the same parallels of
latitude in Eastern Africa, as to small heads, semi-Caucasian features,
Asiatic above the nose-tip and African below; tall lithe figures, high
shoulders, and long limbs, especially the forearm.

There is the usual Negro-land variety in the picturesque toilette; no
two men are habited alike. A Phrygian bonnet, Glengarry or Liberty-cap
of dark, indigo-dyed cotton, and sometimes a Kan-top or ear-calotte of
India and Hausa-land, surmount their clean-shaven heads. For this they
substitute, when travelling, 'country umbrellas,' thatches of plaited
palm-leaves in umbrella-shape; further down coast we shall find the
regular sun-hat of Madeira, with an addition of loose straw-ends which
would commend itself to Ophelia. The decent body-garb is a _kamis_,
a nightgown of long-cloth, and wide, short drawers; the whole is covered
with a sleeveless _aba_, or burnous, and sometimes with a
half-sleeved caftan--here termed 'tobe'--garnished with a huge
breast-pocket. It is generally indigo-stained, with marblings or
broad-narrow stripes of lighter tint than the groundwork. An essential
article, hung round the neck or slung to the body, is the grigri,
_ta'awiz_, or talisman, a Koranic verse or a magic diagram enclosed
in a leathern roll or in a flat square. Of these prophylactics, which
answer to European medals and similar fetish, a 'serious person' will
wear dozens; and they are held to be such 'strong medicine' that even
pagans will barter or pay for them. Blacksmiths, weavers, and spinners
work out of doors. Contrary to the general Moslem rule, these Mandengas
honour workers in iron and leather, and the king's blacksmith and
cobbler are royal councillors.

Some of the motley crowd sit reading what the incurious stranger tells
you is 'the Alcoran;' they are perusing extracts and prayers written in
the square, semi-Cufic Maghrabi character, which would take a learned
Meccan a week to decipher. Others, polluted by a license which calls
itself liberty, squat gambling shamelessly with pegs stuck in the
ground. Now and then fighting-looking fellows ride past us, with the
Arabic ring-bit and the heavy Mandenga demi-pique. The nags are ponies
some ten hands high, ragged and angular, but hardy and sure-footed. As
most of the equines in this part of Africa, they are, when well fed,
intensely vicious and quarrelsome. Like the Syrians, they have only
three paces, the walk, the lazy loping canter, and the brisk hard
gallop; the trot is a provisional passage from slow to fast. Yet with
all their shortcomings I should prefer them to the stunted bastard barb,
locally called an Arab and priced between 20_l_. and 40_l_.
The latter generally dies early from chills and checked
perspiration, which bring on 'loin-disease,' paralysis of the
hind-quarters, or from a fatal swelling of the stomach, the result of
bad forage. Most of the men carried knives, daggers, and crooked swords
in curious leather scabbards. This practice should never be permitted in
Africa. Natives entering a station should be compelled to leave their
weapons with the policeman at the nearest guard-house.

The Wolofs, a name formerly written Joloff, also dwell in Senegambia,
between the Senegal and the Gambia, and their habitat is divided into
sundry petty kingdoms. As early as 1446 they were known to the
Portuguese, and one Bemoy, of princely house, soon afterwards visited
Lisbon, was baptised, and did homage to D. Joao II. More like the
Abyssinians than their Mandenga neighbours, they are remarkable for good
looks, pendent ringlets, and tasteful dress and decorations. 'Black but
comely,' with long, oval faces, finely formed features, straight noses
and glossy jetty skins, in character they are brave and dignified, and
they are distinctly negroids, not negroes. This small maritime tribe,
who make excellent sailors, is interesting and civilisable; many have
been Christianised, especially by the Roman Catholic missioners. The
only native tongue spoken by European residents at Bathurst is the
Wolof. As M. Dard remarks in his 'Grammaire Wolof,' the [Footnote: He
was Instituteur de l'Ecole Wolof-Francaise du Senegal, and published in
1826. It is still said that no one will speak Wolof like him, the result
of the new _regime_ of compulsory French instruction. I printed 226
of his proverbs in _Wit and Wisdom from West Africa_ (London,
Tinsleys, 1865). It is curious to compare them with those of the pagan
negroes further south.]

language is widely spread: Mungo Park often uses expressions which he
deems Mandenga, but which belong to the 'Jews of West Africa,' as the
Wolofs are sometimes called, their extensive commercial dealings between
the coast and the western Sudan being the only point of likeness. For
instance, in the tale of 'poor Nealee' the cry 'Kang-tegi!' ('Cut her
throat!') is the Wolof 'Kung-akateke!' ('Let her head be cut off!'), and
'Nealee affeeleeata!' ('Nealee is lost!') appears equally corrupted by
author or printer from 'Nealu afeyleata!' ('Nealee breathes no more!')

Pursuing our peregrinations, we reach No. 1 Fort, at the northern angle
of the town, north-eastern corner of the islet St. Mary the Less. This
old round battery is surmounted by three 32-pounders, _en
barbette_, with iron carriages and traversing platforms, but without
racers: a single 7-inch shell would smash the whole affair. Thence we
bent westward and passed the once neat 'Albert Market' with its metal
roof, built in 1854-56 by Governor Luke O'Connor and Isaac Bage. We did
not enter; the place swarms with both sexes in blue: African indigo
yields a charming purple, but one soon learns to prefer white
clothing. Nor need I describe the stuff exposed for sale: there will be
a greater variety at Sierra Leone.

Passing the market we come upon the engineer's yard, which a hand-bill
sternly forbids us to enter. It contains a chapel, where the
Rev. Mr. Nicol officiates: this loose box is more hideous than anything
I have yet seen, a perfect study of architectural deformity. The
cracked bell and the nasal chant, at times rising to a howl as of
anguish, were completely in character. As the service ended issued a
stream of worshippers, mostly women, attired in costumes which will be
noticed further on; most of them led negrolings suggesting the dancing
dog. Meanwhile the police, armed only with side-arms, sword-bayonets,
and looking more like Sierra Leone convicts reformed and uniformed,
followed a band composed of drums, cymbals, and a haughty black
sergeant, a mulatto noncommissioned, bringing up the rear. They went
round and round the barrack square, a vast space occupied chiefly by
grass and drains; in the back-ground is the large jaundiced building
upon whose clock-tower floated, or rather depended, the flag of
St. George. The white building by its side is the Colonial Hospital: it
has also seen 'better days.'

We resolved to call upon Mr. Administrator V. S. Goulsbury, M.D. and
C.M.G. He had lately been subjected to an attack, of course anonymous,
in the 'African Times;' an attack the more ungentlemanly and cowardly
because it reflected upon his private not public life; and consequently
he could neither notice it nor answer it, nor bring an action for
libel. This scandalous print, which has revived the old 'Satirist' in
its most infamous phase, habitually inserts any tissue of falsehoods
suggested to proceed from a 'native,' an 'African,' a 'negro,' and
carefully writes down to the lowest level of its readers. It attracts
attention by the cant of charity, and shows its devotion to 'the Bible,
and nothing but the Bible,' by proving that the earth, having 'four
corners,' is flat, and that the sun, which once 'stood still,' must move
round its parasite. The manner of this pestilence is right worthy of its
matter, and the style would be scouted in a decent housekeeper's
room. All well-meaning men, of either colony, declare that it has done
more harm in West Africa than the grossest abuse yet written. Its tactic
is to set black against white, to pander for the public love of scandal,
and systematically to abuse all the employes of Government. And the sole
object of this vile politic, loudly proclaimed to be philanthropic and
negrophile, has been low lucre--in fact, an attempt to butter its bread
with 'black brother.'

We inspected the second or western fort, a similar battery of six
32-pounders, with two 10-inch mortars, fit only to pound 'fufu,' or
banana-paste; add a single brass field-piece, useful as a morning and
evening gun for this highly military station. Then we came to Government
House, apparently deserted, flying a frayed and tattered white and blue
flag, which might have been used on board H.M.S. _Dover_, but which
ought to have been supplanted on shore by a Union Jack. After waiting a
quarter of an hour, we managed, with the assistance of a sentinel, whose
feet were in slippers and whose artillery carbine was top-heavy with a
fixed sword-bayonet, to arouse a negro servant, by whom we sent in our
cards to H.E. the Administrator. An old traveller on the Gold Coast, and
lately returned from a long expedition into the interior, [Footnote:
_Gambia: Expedition to the Upper Gambia_. London: Eyre and
Spottiswoode, 1882.] he had much to tell us. His knowledge of
Ashanti-land, however, induced him to place the Kong Mountains in that
meridian too far north; he held the distance from the seaboard to be at
least 500 miles. But he quite agreed with us about the necessity of
importing Chinese coolies. Here no free man works. The people say, 'When
a slave gets his liberty he will drink rainwater'--rather than draw it
from a well. The chief cargo of the S.S. _Senegal_ was Chinese
rice, when almost every acre of the lower Gambia would produce a cereal
superior in flavour and bolder in grain. Hands, however, are wanting;
and all the women are employed in loading and unloading ships.

The Residency is a fine large building in an advanced stage of
decomposition; the glorious vegetation around it--cotton-trees,
caoutchouc-figs, and magnificent oleanders--making the pile look grimmer
and grislier. And here we realised, to the fullest extent, how
thoroughly ruined is the hapless settlement. The annual income is about
24,500_l_., the expenditure is 20,000_l_. in round numbers,
and the economies are said to reach 25,000_l_. This sum is
forwarded to the colonial chest, instead of being expended in local
improvements; and, practically, when some petty war-storm breaks it is
wasted like water. The local officials are not to be blamed for this
miserable system, this niggardly colonial policy of the modern
economical school, which contrasts so poorly with the lavish republican
expenditure in French Senegambia. They have, to their honour be it said,
often protested against the taxes raised from struggling merchants and a
starveling population, poor as Hindus, being expended upon an 'imperial
policy.' But economy is the order of the day at home, and an
Administrator inclined to parsimony gladly seizes the opportunity of
pleasing his 'office.' The result is truly melancholy. I complained in
1862 that the 'civil establishment' at Bathurst cost 7,075_l_. I
now complain that it has been reduced to 2,600_l_. [Footnote:
Administrator = 1,300_l_;.; Chief Magistrate = 600_l_.;
Collector and Treasurer = 700_l_. Thus there is no Colonial
Secretary, and, curious to say, no Colonial Chaplain. I formerly
recommended the establishment to be reduced by at least one-half, and
that half to be far better paid (_Wanderings in West Africa_,
i. 182).] The whole establishment is starved; decay appears in every
office, public and private; and ruin is writ large upon the whole
station. An Englishman who loves his country must blush when he walks
through Bathurst. Even John Bull would be justified in wishing that he
had been born a Frenchman in West Africa.

We returned to the s.s. _Senegal_ anything but edified; and there
another displeasure awaited us. Our gallant captain must have known that
he could not load and depart that day. Yet, diplomatically mysterious,
he would not say so. Consequently we missed a visit to Cape St. Mary,
the breezy cliff of which I retain the most agreeable memory. The
scenery had appeared to me positively beautiful after the foul swamps of
St. Mary's Island;--stubbles of Guinea-corn, loved by quails; a velvety
expanse of green grass sloping inland, with here and there a goodly
palmyra grander than the columns of Ba'albek; palms necklaced with
wine-calabashes, and a grove of baobab and other forest trees cabled
with the most picturesque llianas, where birds of gorgeous plume sit and
sing. We could easily have hired hammocks or horses, or, these failing,
have walked the distance, six or seven miles. True, Oyster Creek, the
shallow western outlet of the Gambia, has still a ferry: a bridge was
lately built, but it fell before it was finished. It would, however,
have been pleasurable to pass a night away from the fever-haunts of

During one of my many visits to Bathurst I resolved to inspect old Fort
James: one thirsts for a bit of antiquity in these African lands, so
bare of all but modern ruins. Like Bance Island, further south, it is
the parent of the modern settlement; and so far it has the 'charm of
origin.' My companion was Captain Philippi, then well known at Lagos:
the last time we met was unexpectedly at Solingen. A boat with four
Krumen was easily found; but our friends warned us that the
_ascensus_ would be easy and the _descensus_ the reverse; the
latter has sometimes taken a day and a night.

The Gambia River here opens its mouth directly to the north; and, after
a great elbow, assumes its normal east-west course. We ran before a
nine-knot breeze, and shortly before noon, after two hours' southing, we
were off the half-way house, reef-girt Dog Island, and Dog Point, in the
Barra country. The dull green stream sparkled in the sun, and the fringe
of mangroves appeared deciduous: some trees were bare, as if dead;
others were clothed with bright foliage. Presently we passed British
Albreda, where our territory now ends. This small place has made a fuss
in its day. It was founded by the French in 1700 as a dependency of
Goree, and it carried on a slave-trade highly detrimental to English
interests. In 1783 the owners had abandoned all right to its occupation,
and in 1858 they ceded it to their English rivals. The landing is bad,
especially when the miry ebb-tide is out. The old village of the French
company was reduced when we visited it to a few huts and two whitewashed
and red-roofed houses, occupied by a Frenchwoman in native dress and by
an English subject, Mr. Hughes. The latter did the honours of the place
and showed us the only 'punkah' at that time known to the West African

From Dog Island we bent to the east and passed the Jilifri or Grilofre
village, in the Badibu country, a place well known during the days of
Park. Then bending south-east, after a total of four hours, covering
seventeen to eighteen knots, we landed upon James Island, the site of
Fort James. The scrap of ground has a history. First the Portuguese here
built a factory: Captain Jobson found this fact to his cost when (1621)
he sailed up in search of gold to Satico, then the last point of
navigation. A few words in the native dialects--'alcalde,' for
instance--preserve the memory of the earliest owners. It passed
alternately into the hands of the Dutch, French, and English, who
exchanged some shrewd blows upon the matter of possession. In 1695 it
was destroyed by M. de Gennes, and was rebuilt by the Royal African
Company, which had monopolised the traffic. It fell again in 1702 to
Capitaine de la Roque, and cost the conqueror his life. In 1709 it was
attacked for the third time by M. Parent, commanding four privateering
frigates. About 1730 we have from Mr. Superintendent Francis Moore a
notice of it amongst the Company's establishments on the Gambia
River. The island is described as being situated in mid-stream, here
three to four miles broad, thirty miles from the mouth: the extent was
200 yards long by fifty broad. The factory had a governor and a
deputy-governor, two officers, eight factors, thirteen writers, two
inferior attendants, and thirty-two negro servants. The force consisted
of a company of soldiers, besides armed sloops and shallops. Compare the
same with our starved establishment at the Ruined River-port! In other
parts of the Gambia valley eight subordinate comptoirs, including
Jilifri or Gilofre, traded for hides and bees'-wax, ivory, slaves, and
gold. When Mungo Park travelled (1795-97) the opening of the European
trade had reduced its exports to a gross value of 20,000_l_., in
three ships voyaging annually. After the African Company was abolished
(1820) it passed over to the Crown, and the station was transferred to
its graveyard, Sainte-Marie de Bathurst. Barbot [Footnote:
Lib. i. chap. vii., _A Description of the Coasts of North and South
Guinea, &c., in 1700_. Printed in Churchill's Collection. Also his
Supplement, _ibid._ pp. 426-26.] tells us that Fort James was
founded (1664), under the names of the Duke of York and the Royal
African Company, by Commodore Holmes when expeditioning against the
Hollanders in North and South Guinea. It was the head-centre of trade
and its principal defence. But, he says, the occupants were obliged to
fetch fresh water from either bank. Had the cistern and the
powder-magazine been bomb-proof, and drink as well as meat stored
_quant. suff._, the fort would have been 'in a manner impregnable,
if well defended by a suitable garrison.' The latter in his day
consisted of sixty to seventy whites, besides 'Gromettoes,' free black

This quasi-venerable site is a little holm a hundred yards in diameter,
somewhat larger than the many which line the river's western bank. We
found its stony shingle glazed with a light-green sediment, which
forbade bathing and which suggested fever. The material is conglomerate,
fine and coarse, in an iron-reddened matrix; hence old writers call it a
'sort of gravelly rock, a little above water.' Salsolaceae tapestry the
shore, and fig-trees and young calabashes spring from the stone: the
ground is strewn with white shells, tiles, bricks and iridescent
bottles--the invariable concomitants and memorials of civilisation. The
masonry, lime and ashlar, is excellent, but time and the portentous
growth of the tropics have cracked and fissured the walls. Masses of
masonry are fallen, and others are assuming the needle-shape. The great
quadrangle had lozenge-shaped bastions at each end, then lined with good
brick-work: the outliers, which run round the river-holm, were three
horseshoe redoubts 'with batteries along the palisades from one to
another.' Four old iron guns remained out of a total of sixty to seventy
pieces. The features were those of the ancient slave-barracoon
--dwelling-houses, tanks and cisterns, magazines, stores,
and powder-room, all broken by the treasure-hunter.

The return to Bathurst was a bitter draught. We had wind and water
against us, and the thick mist prevented our taking bearings. Hungry,
thirsty, weary, cross, and cramped, we reached the steamer at 5 A.M.,
and slept spitefully as long as we could.

The last displeasure of my latest visit to Bathurst was the crowd of
native passengers, daddy, mammy, and piccaninny, embarking for Sierra
Leone, and the host of friends that came to bid them good-bye. They did
not fail to abscond with M. Colonna's pet terrier and with the steward's
potatoes: no surveillance can keep this long-fingered lot from picking
and stealing. It is a political as well as a social mistake to take
negro first-class passengers. A ruling race cannot be too particular in
such matters, and the white man's position on the Coast would be
improved were the black man kept in his proper place. A kind of
first-class second-class might be invented for them. Nothing less
pleasant than their society. The stewards have neglected to serve soup
to some negro, who at every meal has edged himself higher up the table,
and whose conversation consists of whispering into the ear of a black
neighbour, with an occasional guffaw like that of the 'laughing

'I say, daddee, I want _my_ soop. All de passenger he drink 'im
soop; _me_ no drink _my_ soop. What he mean dis palaver?'

The sentence ends in a scream; the steward smiles, and the
first-class resumes--

'Ah, you larf. And what for you larf? I no larf, I no drinkee soop!'

Here the dialogue ends, and men confess by their looks that travelling
sometimes _does_ throw us into the strangest society.

Even in Sierra Leone, where the negro claims to be civilised, a dusky
belle, after dropping her napkin at a Government House dinner, has been
heard to say to her neighbour, 'Please, Mr. Officer-man, pick up my
towel.' The other day a dark dame who missed her parasol thus addressed
H.E.: 'Grovernah! me come ere wid _my_ umbrellah. Where he be,
_my_ umbrellah Give me _my_ umbrellah: no go widout _my_

For our black and brown passengers, fore and aft, there is a graduated
and descending scale of terminology: 1. European, that is, brought up in
England; 2. Civilised man; 3. African; 4. Man of colour, the 'cullered
pussun' of the United States; 5. Negro; 6. Darkey; and 7. Nigger, which
here means slave. All are altogether out of their _assiettes_. At
home they will eat perforce cankey, fufu, kiki, and bad fish, washing
them down with _mimbo_, bamboo-wine, and _pitto_, hopless beer,
the _pombe_ of the East Coast. Here they abuse the best of roast
meat, openly sigh for 'palaver-sauce' and 'palm-oil chop,' and find
fault with the claret and champagne. _Chez eux_ they wear
breech-cloths and nature's stockings--_eoco tutto_. Here both men
and women must dress like Europeans, and a portentous spectacle it
is. The horror reaches its height at Sierra Leone, where the pulpit as
well as the press should deprecate human beings making such caricatures
of themselves,

In West Africa we see three styles of dress. The first, or semi-nude, is
that of the Kru-races, a scanty _pagne_, or waist-wrapper, the dark
skin appearing perfectly decent. The second is the ample flowing robe,
at once becoming and picturesque, with the _shalwar_, or wide
drawers, of the Moslems from Morocco to the Equator. The third is the
hideous Frank attire affected by Sierra Leone converts and 'white
blackmen,' as their fellow-darkies call them.

Many of the costumes that made the decks of the s.s. _Senegal_
hideous are _de fantaisie_, as if the wearers had stripped pegs in
East London with the view of appearing at a fancy-ball. The general
effect was that of 'perambulating rainbows _en petit_ surmounted by
sable thunder-clouds.' One youth, whose complexion unmistakably wore the
shadowed livery of the burnished sun, crowned his wool with a scarlet
smoking-cap, round which he had wound a white gauze veil. The light of
day was not intense, but his skin was doubtless of most delicate
texture. Another paraded the deck in a flowing cotton-velvet
dressing-gown with huge sleeves, and in _bottines_ of sky-blue
cloth. Even an Aku Moslem, who read his Koran, printed in Leipzig, and
who should have known better, had mimicked Europeans in this most
unbecoming fashion.

Men of substance sported superfine Saxony with the broadest of
silk-velvet collars; but the fit suggested second-hand finery. Other
elongated cocoa-nuts bore jauntily a black felt of 'pork-pie' order,
leek-green billycocks, and anything gaudy, but not neat, in the
'tile'-line. Their bright azure ribbons and rainbow neckties and scarves
vied in splendour with the loudest of thunder-and-lightning waistcoats
from the land of Moses and Sons. Pants were worn tight, to show the
grand thickness of knee, the delicate leanness of calf, the manly
purchase of heel, and the waving line of beauty which here distinguishes
shin-bones. There were monstrous studs upon a glorious expanse of
'biled' shirt; a small investment of cheap, tawdry rings set off the
chimpanzee-like fingers; and, often enough, gloves invested the hands,
whose horny, reticulated skin reminded me of the black fowl, or the
scaly feet of African cranes pacing at ease over the burning sands. Each
dandy had his _badine_ upon whose nice conduct he prided himself;
the toothpick was as omnipresent as the crutch, nor was the
'quizzing-glass' quite absent. Lower extremities, of the same category
as the hands, but slightly superior in point of proportional size, were
crammed into patent-leather boots, the latter looking as if they had
been stuffed with some inanimate substance--say the halves of a calf's
head. Why cannot these men adopt some modification of the Chinese
costume, felt hat and white shoes, drawers, and upper raiment
half-shirt, half-doublet? It has more common sense than any other in the

It is hardly fair to deride a man's ugliness, but the ugly is fair game
when self-obtruded into notice by personal vanity and conceit. Moreover,
this form of negro folly is not to be destroyed by gentle raillery; it
wants hard words, even as certain tumours require the knife. Such aping
of Europeans extends from the physical to the moral man, and in general
only the bad habits, gambling, drinking, and debauching, are aped.

The worst and not the least hideous were the mulattos, of whom the
negroes say they are silver and copper, not gold. It is strange, passing
strange, that English blood, both in Africa and in India, mixes so badly
for body and mind (brain) with the native. It is not so with the
neo-Latin nations of Southern Europe and the Portuguese of the
Brazil. For instance, compare the pretty little coloured girls of
Pondicherry and Mahe with their sister half-castes the Chichis of Bengal
and Bombay.

As for the section conventionally called 'fair,' and unpolitely termed
by Cato the 'chattering, finery-loving, ungovernable sex,' I despair to
depict it. When returning north in the A.S.S. _Winnebah_, we
carried on board a dark novice of the Lyons sisterhood. She looked
perfectly ladylike in her long black dress and the white wimple which
bound her hair under the sable mantilla. But the feminines on board the
_Senegal_ bound for Sierra Leone outrage all our sense of fitness
by their frightful semi-European gowns of striped cottons and chintzes;
by their harlequin shawls and scarves thrown over jackets which show
more than neck and bare arms to the light of day, and by the head-gear
which looks like devils seen in dreams after a heavy supper of underdone
pork. Africa lurks in the basis: the harsh and wiry hair is gathered
into lumps, which to the new comer suggest only bears' ears, and into
chignons resembling curled up hedge-hogs. Around it is twisted a
kerchief of arsenic-green, of sanguineous-crimson, or of sulphur-yellow;
and this would be unobjectionable if it covered the whole head, like
the turban of the Mina negress in Brazilian Bahia. But it must be capped
with a hat or bonnet of straw, velvet, satin, or other stuff, shabby in
the extreme, and profusely adorned with old and tattered ribbons and
feathers, with beads and bugles, with flowers and fruits. The _tout
ensemble _would scare any crow, however bold.

I am aware that the sex generally is somewhat persistent in its ideas of
personal decoration, and that there is truth in the African proverb, 'If
your head is not torn off you will wear a head-dress,' corresponding
with our common saying, 'Better out of the world than out of the
fashion.' But this nuisance, I repeat, should be abated with a strong
hand by the preacher as well as by the pressman. The women and the
children are well enough as Nature made them: they make themselves mere
caricatures, figures o' fun, guys, frights. If this fact were brought
home to them by those whose opinions they value, they might learn a
little common sense and good taste. And yet--wait a moment--may they not
sometimes say the same of us? But our monstrosities are original, theirs
are borrowed.

The 'mammies' at once grouped themselves upon the main-hatch, as near
the quarter-deck and officers' cabins as possible. I can hardly
understand how Englishmen take a pleasure in 'chaffing' these grotesque
beings, who usually reply with some gross, outrageous insolence. At the
best they utter impertinences which, issuing from a big and barbarous
mouth in a peculiar _patois_, pass for pleasantry amongst those who
are not over-nice about the quality of that article. The tone of voice
is peculiar; it is pitched in the usual savage key, modified by the
twang of the chapel and by the cantilene of the Yankee--originally
Puritan Lancashire. Hence a 'new chum' may hear the women talking for
several days before he finds out that they are talking English. And they
speak two different dialects. The first, used with strangers, is
'blackman's English,'intelligible enough despite the liberties it takes
with pronunciation, grammar, and syntax. The second is a kind of 'pidgin
English,' spoken amongst themselves, like Bolognese or Venetians when
they have some reason for not talking Italian. One of the Gospels was
printed in it; I need hardly say with what effect. The first verse runs,
'Lo vo famili va Jesus Christus, pikien. (piccaninny) va David, dissi da
pikien va Abraham.' [Footnote: _Da Njoe Testament_, &c. Translated
into the negro-English language by the missionaries of the Unitas
Fratrum, &c. Printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society. London:
W. McDowall, Pemberton Row, 1829.]

This 'pidgin English' runs down West Africa, except the Gold Coast and
about Accra, where the natives have learnt something better. The
principal affirmation is 'Enh,' pronounced nanny-goat fashion, and they
always answer 'Yes' to a negative question: _e.g._ Q. 'Didn't you
go then?' A. 'Yes' (_sub-audi_, I did not), thus meaning 'No.'
'Na,' apparently an interrogative in origin, is used pleonastically on
all occasions: 'You na go na steamer?' 'Enty' means indeed; 'too much,'
very; 'one time,' once; and the sign of the vocative, as in the Southern
States of the Union, follows the, word:' Daddy, oh!' 'Mammy, oh!'
'Puss,' or 'tittle,' is a girl, perhaps a pretty girl; 'babboh,' a
boy. 'Hear' is to obey or understand; 'look,' to see; 'catch,' to have;
'lib,' to live, to be, to be found, or to enjoy good health: it is
applied equally to inanimates. 'Done lib' means die; 'sabby'
(Portuguese) is to know; 'chop,' to eat; 'cut the cry,' to end a wake;
'jam head,' or 'go for jam head,' to take counsel; 'palaver (Port.)
set,' to end a dispute; to 'cut yamgah' is to withhold payment, and to
'make nyanga' is to junket. 'Yam' is food; 'tummach' (Port.) is the
metaphorical heart; 'cockerapeak' is early dawn, when the cock speaks;
all writing, as well as printing, is a 'book;' a quarrel is a 'bob;' and
all presents are a 'dash,' 'dassy' in Barbot, and 'dashs' in Ogilby. All
bulls are cows, and when you would specify sex you say 'man-cow' or
'woman-cow.' [Footnote: For amusing specimens of amatory epistles the
reader will consult Mrs. Melville and the _Ten Years' Wanderings among
the Ethiopians_ (p. 19), by my old colleague, Mr. Consul Hutchinson.]

These peculiarities, especially the grammatical, are not mere
corruptions: they literally translate the African dialects now utterly
forgotten by the people. And they are more interesting than would at
first appear. Pure English, as a language, is too difficult in all
points to spread far and wide. 'Pidgin English' is not. Already the
Chinese have produced a regular _lingua franca_, and the Japanese
have reduced it to a system of grammar. If we want only a medium of
conversation, a tongue can be reduced to its simplest expression and
withal remain intelligible. Thus 'me' may serve for I, me, my. Verbs
want no modal change to be understood. 'Done go' and 'done eat'
perfectly express went and ate. Something of the kind is still wanted,
and must be supplied if we would see our language become that of the
commercial world in the East as it is fast becoming in the West.

We left Bathurst more than ever convinced that the sooner we got rid of
the wretched station, miscalled a colony, the better. It still supplies
hides from the tipper country, ivory, bees'-wax, and a little gold. The
precious metal is found, they say, in the red clay hills near Macarthy's
Island; but the quality is not pure, nor is the quantity sufficient to
pay labour. The Mandengas, locally called 'gold strangers,' manage the
traffic with the interior, probably the still mysterious range called
the 'Kong Mountains.' They are armed with knives, sabres, and muskets;
and for viaticum they carry rude rings of pure gold, which, I am told,
are considered more valuable than the dust.

But the staple export from Bathurst--in fact, nine-tenths of the
total--consists of the arachide, pistache, pea-nut, or ground-nut
(_Arachis hypogoea_). It is the beat quality known to West Africa;
and, beginning some half a century ago, large quantities are shipped for
Marseilles, to assist in making salad-oil. Why this 'olive-oil' has not
been largely manufactured in England I cannot say. Thus the French have
monopolised the traffic of the Gambia; they have five houses, and the
three English, Messrs. Brown, Goddard, and Topp, export their purchases
in French bottoms to French ports.

Moreover, the treaty of 1845, binding the 'high contracting Powers' to
refrain from territorial aggrandisement (much like forbidding a growing
boy to grow), expired in 1855. Since that time, whilst we have refrained
even from abating the nuisance of native wars, our very lively
neighbours have annexed the Casamansa River, with the fine coffee-lands
extending from the Nunez southwards to the Ponga River, and have made a
doughty attempt to absorb Matacong, lying a few miles north of Sierra

Whilst English Gambia is monopolised by the French, French Gaboon is, or
rather was, in English hands. For a score of years men of sense have
asked, 'Why not exchange the two?' When nations so decidedly rivalistic
meet, assuredly it is better to separate _a l'aimable_. Moreover,
so long as our economical and free-trade 'fads' endure, it is highly
advisable to avoid the neighbourhood of France and invidious comparisons
between its policy and our non-policy, or rather impolicy.

According to the best authorities, the whole of the West African coast
north of Sierra Leone might be ceded with advantage to the French on
condition of our occupying the Gaboon and the regions, coast and
islands, south of it, except where the land belongs to the Portuguese
and the Spaniards. Some years ago an energetic effort was made to effect
the exchange, but it was frustrated by missionary and sentimental
considerations. Those who opposed the idea shuddered at the thought of
making over to a Romanist Power (?) the poor converts of Protestantism;
the peoples who had been peaceful and happy so long under the protecting
aegis of Great Britain; the races whom we were bound, by an unwritten
contract, not only to defend, but to civilise, to advance in the paths
of progress. The colonists feared to part with the old effete
possession, lest the French should oppose, as they have done in Senegal,
all foreign industry--in fact, 'seal up' the Gambia. A highly
respectable merchant, the late Mr. Brown, contributed not a little, by
his persuasive pen, to defeat the proposed measure. And now it is to be
feared that we have heard the last of this matter; our rivals have found
out the high value of their once despised equatorial colony. If ever the
exchange comes again to be discussed, I hope that we shall secure by
treaty or purchase an exclusively British occupation of Grand Bassam and
the Assini valley, mere prolongations of our Protectorate on the Gold
Coast. A future page will show the reason why our imperial policy
requires the measure. At present both stations are occupied by French
houses or companies, who will claim indemnification, and who can in
justice demand it.

We steamed out of the Ruined River-port, and left 'this old sandbank in
Africa they call St. Mary's Isle,' at 11 A.M. on January 16, with a last
glance at the Commissariat-buildings. Accompanied by a mosquito-fleet of
canoes, each carrying two sails, we stood over the bar, sighting the
heavy breakers which defend the island's northern face, and passed Cape
St. Mary, gradually dimming in the distance. After Bald Cape, some sixty
miles south, we ran along the long low shore, distinguished only by the
mouths and islands of the Casamansa and the Cacheo rivers. Our course
then led us by the huge and hideous archipelago off the delta of Jeba
and the Bolola, the latter being the 'Rio Grande' of Camoens, which
Portuguese editors will print with small initials, and which translators
mistranslate accordingly. [Footnote: _The Lusiads_, v. 12. I have
noticed this error in _Camoens: his Life and his Lusiads_
(vol. i. p. 896. London: Quaritch, 1881). It was probably called Grande
because it was generally believed to be the southern outlet of the
Niger.] These islands are the Bijougas, or Bissagos, the older
'Biziguiches,' inhabited by the most ferocious negroes on the coast, who
massacred the Portuguese and who murder all castaways. They are said to
shoot one another as Malays 'run amok,' and some of their tribal customs
are peculiar to themselves.

Here, about 350 miles north of Sierra Leone, was established the
unfortunate Bulama colony. Its first and last governor, the redoubtable
Captain Philip Beaver, R.N., has left the queerest description of the
place and its people. [Footnote: _African Memoranda_. Baldwin, London,
1805.] Within eighteen months only six remained of 269 souls, including
women and children. In 1792 the island was abandoned, despite its wealth
of ground-nuts. After long 'palavering' it was again occupied by
Mr. Budge, manager of Waterloo Station, Sierra Leone; but he was not a
fixture there. It is now, I believe, once more deserted.

Early next morning we were off the Isles de Los, properly Dos Idolos (of
the Idols). On my return northwards I had an opportunity of a nearer
view. The triad of parallel rock-lumps, sixty miles north of Sierra
Leone, is called Tama, or Footabar, to the west; Ruma, or Crawford, a
central and smaller block of some elevation; and Factory Island, the
largest, five or six miles long by one broad, and nearest the
shore. Their aspect is not unpleasant: the features are those of the
Sierra Leone peninsula, black rocks, reefs, and outliers, underlying
ridges of red soil; and the land is feathered to the summit with palms,
rising from stubbly grass, here and there patched black by the
bush-fire. A number of small villages, with thatched huts like beehives,
are scattered along the shore. The census of 1880 gives the total
figures at 1,300 to 1,400, and of these 800 inhabit Factory
Island. Mr. J. M. Metzger, the civil and intelligent sub-collector and
custom-house officer, a Sierra Leone man, reduced the number to 600,
half of them occupying the easternmost of the three. He had never heard
of the golden treasures said to have been buried here by Roberts the
pirate, the Captain (Will.) Kidd of these regions.

In our older and more energetic colonial days we had a garrison on the
Isles de Los. They found the climate inferior to the Banana group, off
Cape Shilling. Factory Island still deserves its name. Here M. Verminck,
of Marseille, the successor of King Heddle, has a factory on the eastern
side, an establishment managed by an agent and six clerks, with large
white dwellings, store-houses, surf-boats, and a hulk to receive his
palm-oil. The latter produces the finest prize-cockroaches I have yet

My lack of strength did not allow me to inspect the volcanic craters
said to exist in these strips, or to visit any of the 'devil-houses.'
Mr. G. Neville, agent of the steamers at Lagos, gave me an account of
his trip. Landing near the French factory, he walked across the island
in fifteen minutes, followed the western coast-line, turned to the
south-west, descended a hollow, and found the place of sacrifice. Large
boulders, that looked as if shaken down by an earthquake, stood near one
another. There were neither idols nor signs of paganism, except that the
floor, which resembled the dripstone of Tenerife, was smoothed by the
feet of the old worshippers. When steaming round the south-western point
we saw--at least so it was said--the famous 'devil-house' which gave the
islands their Portuguese name.

Factory is divided by a narrow strait from Tumbo Island, and the latter
faces the lands occupied by the Susus. These equestrian tribes,
inhabiting a grassy plain, were originally Mandengas, who migrated south
to the Mellikuri, Furikaria, and Sumbuyah countries, and who
intermarried with the aboriginal Bulloms, Tonko-Limbas, and Baggas. All
are Moslems, and their superior organisation enabled them to prevail
against the pagan Timnis, who in 1858-59 applied to the Government of
Sierra Leone for help, and received it. Of late years the chances of war
have changed, and the heathenry are said to have gained the upper
hand. The Susus are an industrious tribe, and they trade with our colony
in gum, ground-nuts, and _benni_, or sesamum-seed.

It is uncommonly pleasant to leave these hotbeds and once more to
breathe the cool, keen breath of the Trades, laden with the health of
the broad Atlantic.



After a pleasant run, _not_ in a 'sultry and tedious Pacific,'
covering 490 miles from Bathurst, we sighted a heavy cloud banking up
the southern horizon. As we approached it resolved itself into its three
component parts, the airy, the earthy, and the watery; and it turned out
to be our destination. The old frowze of warm, water-laden nimbus was
there; everything looked damp and dank, lacking sweetness and
sightliness; the air wanted clearing, the ground cleaning, and the sea
washing. Such on January 17, 1882, was the first appearance of the
redoubtable Sierra Leone. It was a contrast to the description by the
learned and painstaking Winterbottom. [Footnote: _An Account of the
Native Africans im the Neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, etc._ London,
Hatchard, 1803.] 'On a nearer approach the face of the country assumes a
more beautiful aspect. The rugged appearance of these mountains is
softened by the lively verdure with which they are constantly crowned
(?); their majestic forms (?), irregularly advancing and receding,
occasion huge masses of light and shade to be projected from their
sides, which add a degree of picturesque grandeur to the scene.'

And first of the name. Pedro de Cintra (1480), following Soeiro da Costa
(1462-63), is said to have applied 'Sierra Leone' to the mountain-block
in exchange for the 'Romarong' of its Timni owners. He did nothing of
the kind: our English term is a mere confusion of two neo-Latin tongues,
'Sierra' being Spanish and 'Leone' Italian. The Portuguese called it
Serra da Leoa (of the Lioness), not 'Lion Hill.' [Footnote: So the late
Keith Johnston, _Africa_, who assigns to the apex a height of 2,500
feet.] Hence Milton is hardly worse than his neighbours when he writes--

Notus and Afer, black with thund'rous clouds
From Serraliona;

and the old French 'Serrelionne' was the most correct translation. The
reason is disputed; some invoke the presence of the Queen of the Cats,
others the leonine rumbling of the re-echoed thunder. The latter
suggested the Montes Claros of the Portuguese. Ca da Mosto in 1505 tells
us that the explorers 'gave the name of Sierra Leone to the mountain on
account of the roaring of thunder heard from the top, which is always
buried in clouds.' But the traveller, entering the roadstead, may see in
the outline of Leicester Cone a fashion of maneless lion or lioness
couchant with averted head, the dexter paw protruding in the shape of a
ground-bulge and the contour of the back and crupper tapering off
north-eastwards. At any rate, it is as fair a resemblance as the French
lion of Bastia and the British lion of 'Gib.' Meanwhile those marvellous
beings the 'mammies' call 'the city' 'Sillyown,' and the pretty, naughty
mulatto lady married to the Missing Link termed it 'Sa Leone.' I shall
therefore cleave to the latter, despite 'Mammy Gumbo's' box inscribed
'Sa leone.'

Presently the lighthouse, four to five miles distant from the anchorage,
was seen nestling at the base of old Cabo Ledo, the 'Glad Head,' the
Timni 'Miyinga,' now Cape 'Sa Leone.' Round this western point the sea
and the discharge of two rivers run like a mill-race. According to
Barbot (ii. 1) 'the natives call Cabo Ledo (not Liedo) or Tagrin (Cape
Sa Leone) 'Hesperi Cornu,' the adjoining peoples (who are lamp-black)
Leucsethiopes, and the mountain up the country Eyssadius Mons.' All the
merest conjecture! Mr. Secretary Griffith, of whom more presently, here
finds the terminus of the Periplus of Hanno, the Carthaginian, in the
sixth century B.C., and the far-famed gorilla-land. [Footnote: This I
emphatically deny. Hanno describes an eruption, not a bush-fire, and Sa
Leone never had a volcano within historic times. There is no range fit
to be called Theon Ochema (Vehicle of the Gods), which Ptolemy places on
the site of Camarones Peak, and there is no Notou Keras, or Horn of the
South. Lastly, there is no island that could support the gorilla: we
must go further south for one, to Camarones and Corisoo in the Bight of

Formerly the red-tipped lantern-tower had attached to it a bungalow,
where invalids resorted for fresh air; it has now fallen to pieces, and
two iron seats have taken its place. Over this western end of the
peninsula's northern face the play of the sea-breeze is strong and
regular; and the wester and north-wester blow, as at Freetown, fifty
days out of sixty. The run-in from this point is picturesque in clear
weather, and it must have been beautiful before the luxuriant forest was
felled for fuel, and the land was burnt for plantations which were never
planted. A few noble trees linger beside and behind the lighthouse,
filling one with regret for the wanton destruction of their
kind. Lighthouse Hillock, which commands the approach to the port, and
which would sweep the waters as far as the Sa Leone River, will be
provided with powerful batteries before the next maritime war. And we
must not forget that Sa Leone is our only harbour of refuge, where a
fleet can water and refit, between the Gambia and the Cape of Good Hope.

The northern face of the Sa Leone peninsula is fretted with little
creeks and inlets, bights and lagoons, which were charming in a state of
nature. Pirate's Bay, the second after the lighthouse, is a fairy scene
under a fine sky; with its truly African tricolor, its blue waters
reflecting air, its dwarf cliffs of laterite bespread with vivid
leek-green, and its arc of golden yellow sand, upon which the feathery
tops of the cocoa-palms look like pins planted in the ground. To the
travelled man the view suggests many a nook in the Pacific islands. The
bathing is here excellent: natural breakwaters of black rock exclude the
shark. The place derives its gruesome name from olden days, when the
smooth waters and the abundant fish and fruit tempted the fiery
filibusters to a relache. It was given in 1726 by Mr. Smith, surveyor to
the Royal African Company, after Roberts the pirate, who buried 'his
loot' in the Isles de Los, had burned an English ship. There is also a
tradition that Drake chose it for anchoring.

Beyond Pirate's Bay, and separated by a bushy and wooded point, lies
Aberdeen Creek, a long reach extending far into the interior, and
making, after heavy rains, this portion of the country

Both land and island twice a day.

The whole site of Sa Leone is quasi-insular. Bunce or Bunch River to the
north, and Calamart or Calmont, usually called Campbell's Creek, from
the south, are said to meet at times behind the mountain-mass; and at
all seasons a portage of a mile enables canoes to paddle round the
hill-curtain behind Freetown. This conversion of peninsula into islet is
by no means rare in the alluvial formations further south.

Aberdeen Creek abounds in sunken rocks, which do not, however, prevent a
ferry-boat crossing it. Governor Rowe began a causeway to connect it
with the next village, and about a third of the length has already been
done by convict labour. Aberdeen village is a spread of low thatched
huts, lining half-cleared roads by courtesy called streets. Murray Town
and Congo Town bring us to King Tom's Point. Here is the old Wesleyan
College, a large whitewashed bungalow with shingled roof, upper
_jalousies,_ and lower arches; the band of verdure in front being
defended from the waves by a dwarf sea-wall and a few trees still
lingering around it. The position is excellent: the committee, however,
sold it because the distance was too great for the boys to walk, and
bought a fitter place near Battery Point. Thus it became one of the many
Government stores. A deep indentation now shows Upper Town or Kru Town,
heaps of little thatched hovels divided by remnants of bush. It is,
despite its brook, one of the impurest sites in the colony: nothing can
teach a Kruman cleanliness; a Slav village is neatness itself compared
with his. This foul colony settled early in Sa Leone, and in 1816 an
ordinance was passed enabling it to buy its bit of land. The present
chief is 'King' Tom Peter, who is also a first-class police-constable
under the Colonial Grovernment; and his subjects hold themselves far
superior to their brethren in the old home down coast. 'We men work for
cash-money; you men work for waist-cloth.' Again 'pig-iron and tenpenny

Beyond this point, at a bend of the bight, we anchor a few hundred feet
from the shore, and we command a front view of roadstead and 'city.'
St. George's Bay, the older 'Baie de France,' would be impossible but
for the Middle Ground, the Scarcies Bank, and other huge shoals of sand
pinned down by rocks which defend the roadstead from the heavy send of
the sea. It is supplied with a tide-rip by the Tagrin, Mitomba, Rokel,
or Rokelle, the Sa Leone River, which Barbot makes the ancients term Nia
(N_ia_), and which the Timni tribe call Robung Dakell, or Stream of
Scales. Hence some identify it with Pliny's 'flumen Bambotum crocodilis
et hippopotamis refertum.' Its northern bank is the low Bullom shore, a
long flat line of mud and mangrove, on which all the fevers, Tertiana,
Quartana, and Co., hold their court. The sea-facing dot is Leopard,
anciently Leopold, Island, where it is said a leopard was once seen: it
is, however, a headland connected by a sandspit with the leeward-most
point of the coast. The Bullom country takes a name after its tribe. A
score of years ago I was told they were wild as wild can be: now the
chief, Alimami (El-Imam) Sanusi, hospitably receives white faces at his
capital, Callamondia. Moreover, a weekly post passes through Natunu to
Kaikonki _via_ Yongro, Proboh, and Bolloh.

Inland (east) of the Bulloms, or lowlanders, dwell the Timnis, who drove
to seaward the quondam lords of the land. Kissy, Sherbro, and Casamansa
are all named from their 'Reguli.' They retain a few traditional words,
such as 'potu,' meaning a European: similarly in Central Africa the King
of Portugal is entitled Mueneputo. Butter is also 'Mantinka,' the
Lusitanian _Manteiga_, and a candle is _Kandirr_. Although 'the
religion of Islam seems likely to diffuse itself peaceably over the
whole district in which the colony (Sa Leone) is situated, carrying with
it those advantages which seem ever to have attended its victory over
negro superstition,' [Footnote: _Report of Directors of Sierra Leone
Company to the House of Commons_, quoted by Winterbottom and the
Rev. Mr. Macbriar.] the tribe has remained pagan.

Buttressing the southern shore of the Rokel's _debouchure_ is a dwarf
Ghaut, a broken line of sea-subtending highlands, stretching
south-south-east some eighteen miles from Cape Sa Leone to Cape
Shilling. Inland of these heights the ground is low. The breadth of the
peninsula is about twelve miles, which would give it an area of 300
square miles, larger than the Isle of Wight. There are, besides it, the
Kwiah (Quiah) country, British Sherbro, an important annexation dated
1862; the Isles de Los, the Bananas, and a strip of land on the Bullom
shore,--additions which more than treble the old extent.

The peninsula is distinctly volcanic, and subject to earthquakes: the
seismic movement of 1858 extended to the Gold Coast, and was a precursor
of the ruins of 1862. [Footnote: For the older earthquakes see
Winterbottom, i, 34-5.] Its appearance, however, is rather that of a
sandstone region, the effect of the laterite or volcanic mud which, in
long past ages, has been poured over the plutonic ejections; and the
softly rounded contours, with here and there a lumpy cone, a tongue of
land, and a gentle depression, show the long-continued action of water
and weather. This high background, which arrests the noxious vapours of
the lowlands and of the Bullom shore, and which forbids a thorough
draught, is the fons malorum, the grand cause of the fevers and malaria
for which the land has an eternal ill fame. The 'Sultan' of the Ghauts
is Regent Mountain, or Sugarloaf Peak, a kind of lumpy 'parrot's beak'
which rises nearly 3,000 feet above sea-level: one rarely sees even its
base. The trip to the summit occupies two days; and here wild coffee is
said to flourish, as it does at Kwiah and other parts of the
lowland. The 'Wazir' is Wilberforce, which supports sundry hamlets set
in dense bush; and Leicester Cone, the lioness-hill, ranks third. The
few reclaimed patches, set in natural shrubbery, are widely scattered:
the pure, unsophisticated African is ever ashamed of putting hand to hoe
or plough; and, where the virgin soil would grow almost everything, we
cannot see a farm and nothing is rarer than a field. Firing the bush
also has been unwisely allowed: hence the destruction of much valuable
timber and produce; for instance, tallow-trees and saponaceous
nut-trees, especially the _Pentadesma butyracea_, and the noble
forest which once clothed the land from Sa Leone to the Niger.

Looking towards the Rokel River, we see the Fourah Bay and College, a
large and handsome building, now terribly out of repair. This
establishment, the 'Farran's House' of old maps, is well known to
readers of propagandist works; it opened on February 18, 1828, with six
pupils, one of whom was the 'boy Ajai,' now Bishop Crowther of the Niger
territory. The Church Missionary Society has spent upon it a small
treasury of money; at present it ranks as a manner of university, having
been affiliated in May 1876 to that of Durham. Sealed papers are sent
out from England, but perhaps the local examiners are easy distributors
of B.A.s and so forth to the golden youth of Sa Leone. It is free to
all, irrespective of religious denomination, a liberal concession which
does it high honour. The academical twelve-month has three terms; and
there are three scholarships, each worth 40_l._ per annum, open for
competition every year. Not bad for a maximum of sixteen students, whose
total is steadily diminishing. College evening-classes are held for the
benefit of those who must work by day; and charges are exceedingly
moderate, the admission fee being 10_s._ 6_d._ The Society
proposes, they say, to give it up. It may be wanted half a century
hence. [Footnote: An annual report is published. Those curious on the
subject will consult it.]

West of Fourah College, and separated, _longo intervallo,_ by an
apparently unbroken bush, is Bishop's Court, where the Right Reverend
lives as long as he can or will. Nearer the 'city' lies the deep little
bight called Susan or Sawpit Bay. It is also known as Destruction Bay--a
gloomy name--where ships caught carrying 'bales,' or 'dry goods,' or
'blackbirds,' were broken up. Twenty years ago traces of their ruins
were still seen. Susan is now provided with a large factory: here
'factories' do _not_ manufacture. A host of boats and dug-outs, a
swarm of natives like black ants, a long wooden jetty, and some very
tall houses denote the place where Messrs. Randall and Fisher store and
sell their Kola-nuts. This astringent, the Gora of old writers
(_Sterculia acuminata_), acts in Africa like the Brazilian Guarana,
the Kat (_Catha edulis_) of southern Arabia, the Betel-nut of
Hindostan, and the opium of China, against which certain bigots, with
all the presumption of utter ignorance, have been, and still are, waging
an absurd war. Sa Leone exported 3,445_l_. worth of Kola-nuts in
1860; in 1870 10,400_l_.; and, in 1880, 24,422_l_. The demand
therefore increases and will increase. [Footnote: Mr. Griffith says,
'The Mohammedans of Africa have a singular belief that if they die with
a portion of this nut in their stomach their everlasting happiness is
secured.' This must be some fanciful Christian tale. Amongst them,
however, the red Kola, when sent to the stranger, denotes war, the white
Kola peace.]

In Susan Bay there is a good coal-shed with a small supply for the use
of the colonial steamer. A store of compressed coal is on the town-front
and heaps used to lie about King Tom's Point. A hulk was proposed and
refused. It is now intended to increase the quantity, for the benefit of
future companies, especially the 'Castle Line,' which talks of sending
their steamers to Sa Leone. I hope they will so do; more competition is
much wanted. But the coal-depot may prove dangerous. The mineral in the
tropics produces by its exhalations fatal fevers, especially that
exaggerated form of bilious-remittent popularly known as 'Yellow Jack.'
It is certain that in places like West Indian St. Thomas the
neighbourhood of the coal-sheds is more unhealthy, without apparent
reason, than the sites removed from it.

And now we reach Freetown proper, which may be called Cathedral-Town or
Jail-Town. At a distance the 'Liverpool' or 'London of West Africa,' as
the lieges wildly entitle it, is not unpicturesque; but the style of
beauty is that of a baronial castle on the Rhine with an unpensioned
proprietor, ruinous and tumbledown. After Las Palmas and Santa Cruz it
looks like a dingy belle who has seen better and younger days; and who,
moreover, has forgotten her paint. She has suffered severely from the
abolition of the export slave-trade, in whose palmy times she supplied
many a squadron, and she will not be comforted for the loss.

The colours of the houses are various; plain white is rare, and the
prevailing tints are the light-brick of the fresh laterite and the dark
rusty ochre of the old. But all are the same in one point, the mildewed,
cankered, gangrened aspect, contrasting so unfavourably with the
whitewashed port-towns of the Arabs. The upper stories of wood-work
based on masonry, the fronting piazzas or galleries, the huge
plank-balconies, and the general use of shingle roofs--in fact, the
quantity of tinder-timber, reminding one of olden Cairo, are real risks:
some of the best houses have been destroyed by fire; and, as in
Valparaiso and the flue-warmed castles of England, it is only a question
of time when the inmates will be houseless. Thanks to the form of
ground, the townlet is well laid out, with a gradual rake towards the
bay. But there is no marine parade, and the remarkably uneven
habitations crowd towards the water-front, like those of Eastern ports,
thinning off and losing style inland. The best are placed to catch the
'Doctor,' or sea-breeze: here, as at Zanzibar, the temperature out of
the wind becomes unendurable.

Freetown lies upon a gentle declivity, a slope of laterite and diluvium
washed down from the higher levels. The ground is good for drainage, but
the soft and friable soil readily absorbs the deluging torrents of rain,
and as readily returns them to the air in the shape of noxious
vapours. The shape is triangular. The apex is 'Tower Hill,' so named
from a ruined martello, supposed to have been built by the Dutch, and
till lately used for stores. The barracks, which lodge one of the West
India regiments, are six large blocks crowning the hill-crest and girt
with a low and loopholed wall. In winter, or rather in the December
summer, the slopes are clad in fine golden stubbles, the only spectacle
of the kind which this part of the coast affords. Though not more than
four hundred feet or so above sea-level, the barracks are free from
yellow fever; and in the years when the harbour-town has been almost
depopulated the only fatal cases were those brought up from
below. Moreover, the disease did not spread. The officers' quarters,
with cool and lofty rooms, twenty feet high, are surrounded by shady and
airy piazzas or verandahs, where the wind, when there is any, must find
its way. For many years they had _jalousies_ and half-windows
instead of glass, which forced the inmates to sit in outer darkness
during tornadoes and the Rains. The garrison, like the town, owes an
eternal debt of gratitude to Governor J. Pope Henessy. Seeing the main
want of Sa Leone, he canalised in 1872, with the good aid of
Mr. Engineer Jenkins, a fine fountain rising below 'Heddle's Farm,'
enabling the barracks to have a swimming-bath and the townsfolk to lay
on, through smaller pipes, a fair supply of filtered water. For this
alone he amply deserves a statue; but colonies, like republics, are
rarely grateful.

The sea-front of the triangle, whose lowest houses are sprinkled by the
wave-spray, is bounded on the east by Battery Point. It is a grassy flat
with a few fine trees, and benches ever black with the native
lounger. Here the regimental band plays on Wednesdays; an occasional
circus pitches its tents, and 'beauty and fashion' flock to see and be
seen. The many are on foot; the few use Bath-chairs or _machilas_,
--_fautenils_ hung to a pole. The only carriage in the place
belongs to the Governor, and he lost no time in losing one of
his horses. Riding is apparently unknown.

The Battery is the old Fort Falconbridge. A worm-eaten gun or two, far
more dangerous to those in rear than to those in front, rises _en
barbette._ The affair would fall in half an hour before the mildest
of gunboats. Yet by fortifying three points at an expense of some 6,000L
to 8,000L Sa Leone might be decently defended. The first is Lighthouse
Point, along which ships entering and leaving perforce must run; the
second would be King Tom's Point, flanking the harbour-front; and the
third would be Johnson's Battery, where salutes are now fired, a work
lying above Government House upon a spur of Barrack Hill. Needless to
say all three would want the heaviest guns.

Running the eye west of the Battery, a few wooden houses or sheds, some
of them overhanging the dwarf cliff, the black rocks, and the red-yellow
sands, lead to Taylor's warehouses, a huge pile of laterite still
unfinished. Here the traditional 'man and boy' may sometimes be seen
working in the cooler and more comfortable hours. Beyond it, on a level
with the water, stands the new camber, where we shall land. Then comes
the huge block built by Mr. Charles Heddle, of Hoy, who by grace of a
large fortune, honourably made at Freetown, has become proprietor of a
noble chateau and broad lands in France. It has now been converted into
the Crown commissariat-store. The sea-frontage has a clear fall of
eighty feet, whereas, from the street behind the wooden upper story, it
appears below the average height. Very mean are the custom-house and
adjoining coal-shed. Governor 'Dangan's Wharf,' a contemptible jetty,
and its puny lighthouse have at length made way for a quay, along which
ships, despite sunken rocks, were expected to lie; but the sea soon
broke down the perpendicular wall, and now it is being rebuilt with a
'batter.' A hollow square behind it shows the workmen blasting the
material, a fine-grained grey granite, which seems here, as at Axim, to
be the floor-rock of the land. No wonder that the new harbour-works have
cost already 70,000_l_., of which 50,637_l_. are still owed,
and that the preposterous wharfage-duty is 10_s_. per ton. To avoid
this and the harbour-dues, ships anchor, whenever they safely can, in
the offing, where the shoals are Nature's breakwaters. West of the
quarry-hollow, in my day a little grassy square, are the old
Commissariat-quarters, now a bonded warehouse. This building is also a
long low cottage viewed from inland, and a tall, grim structure seen
from the sea. On a higher level stands St. George's, once a church, but
years ago promoted to a cathedral-dignity, making Freetown proud as
Barchester Towers. We shall presently pass it and its caricature, the
pert little Wesleyan church to its east. The extreme west of the
triangle-base is occupied by the gaol. No longer a 'barn-like structure
faced by a black wall,' it is a lengthy scatter of detached buildings,
large enough to accommodate half the population, and distinguished by
its colour, a light ashen grey. Behind this projecting site lies King
Jimmy's Bridge, a causeway through whose central arch a stream of
sparkling water winds its way seawards.

Below King Jimmy's Bridge is the only antiquity which Sa Leone
knows. Here, according to some, Sir Francis Drake, the discoverer of
California and her gold, the gallant knight of whom the Virgin Queen
said that 'his actions did him more honour than his title,' left his
name upon the buttress of primitive rock. Others have (correctly?)
attributed the inscription to Sir John Hawkins, the old naval worthy
whose name still blossoms in the dust at Sa Leone as the 'first slaver.'
The waters and the tramp of negro feet have obliterated the epigraph,
which was, they say, legible forty years ago. The rock is covered with
griffonages; and here some well-cut square letters easily read--


Near this 'written rock' is King James's Well, a pure stream which in
former times supplied the shipping.

The scene in the harbour is by no means lively, although the three or
four dismantled merchant-craft, dreary as the settlement, have now
disappeared. A little white-painted colonial steamer, a dwarf
paddle-wheeler, the _Prince of Wales,_ lies moping and solitary off
foul Krutown Bay. At times a single gunboat puts in an appearance. There
may be a French steamer with a blue anchor on a white flag bound for
Sherbro, or the Isles de Los; and a queer Noah's Ark kind of craft,
belonging to Mr. Broadhurst, a partner in Randall and Fisher's, runs to
the river Scarcies and others. These are the grandees of the waters. The
middle class is composed of Porto Loko [Footnote: Porto Loko--not
Locco--derives its name from a locust-tree, whose fruit is an ingredient
in 'palaver sauce;' and Winterbottom (I.4), who calls it Logo, derives
the word from the land of that name.] boats, which affect the streams
and estuaries. Originally canoes, they were improved to the
felucca-type of the Portuguese, and the hulls reminded Cameron and
myself of the Zanzibarian 'Mtepe.' A strong standing-awning of wood
occupies the sternward third; the masts number two or three, with a
short jib, and there are six oars on each side, worked by men on foot,
who alternately push and pull--a thoroughly novel process in rowing.
The Sa Leone boats which carry passengers on shore are carefully named,
but apparently never washed: they want the sunshades of the Bathurst
craft. The commonalty of the sea is the host of dug-outs, in which the
sable fisherman, indolently thrown back, props his feet upon the
gunwales and attaches a line to each big toe. These men land little more
than enough for their own subsistence, and the market-supply is
infinitesimal compared with what industry and proper appliances might

The background of the 'city' is a green curtain of grass and
fruit-trees, amongst which predominate the breadfruit, an early
introduction; the prim dark mango, somewhat like an orange multiplied by
two, or three, and palms, ever present in equinoctial lowlands. On the
heights above the settlement there is room for cool country-seats, where
European exiles might live comparatively safe from fever and the more
deadly dysentery. A white lodge peeping from a densely wooded
mountain-flank, originally Carnes's Farm and now Heddle's Farm, was
called Mount Oriel (Oriole?) by Mrs. Melville, the wife of a pensioned
judge of the Mixed Customs Court, who lived here seven years. Her sketch
of a sojourn upon the Lioness Range is not tempting: young gentlemen who
intend leading brides to the deadly peninsula should hide the book from
their fair intendeds. I cannot, however, but admire the 'word-painting'
of the scenery and the fidelity of those descriptions concerning which I
have a right to form an opinion. The book [Footnote: A Residence in
Sierra Leone. By a Lady. London: Murray, 1849.] was edited by the late
Mrs. Caroline Norton.

Though not more than 550 feet above sea-level, the climate of Heddle's
Farm is said to be wholly different from that of the lower town. The
property was bought by Government for a song, and now it occasionally
lodges a sick governor or a convalescent officer. During my last visit
the Sa Leonites spoke of building a sanatorium at Wilberforce village,
alias Signal Hill, where a flag announces the approach of vessels. The
tenement rose to nearly the first story, when it stopped short for want
of funds. Now they talk of a white regiment being stationed at the
'White Man's Grave,' and propose barracks high up the hills beyond sight
of the town-frontage. The site was pointed out to me where the
artillery-range now is, and beyond where a dwarf thatch shows the
musketry-ground of the West India regiment. We shall sight from afar,
when steaming out southwards, the three white dots which represent
quarters on Leicester Cone; now they are hidden in frowsy
fog-clouds. But all these heights have one and the same
disadvantage. You live in a Scotch mist, you breathe as much water as
air, and you exchange fever and dysentery for rheumatism, and lumbago,
and all that dire cohort.

Presently the health-officer with his blue flag gave us pratique, and
the fort-adjutant with his red flag carried off our only soldier. The
latter, with a hospitality rare, it is to be hoped, in British
regiments, would hardly recognise his quondam shipmates. We were duly
interviewed, in most civilised style, by a youth who does this work for
Mr. George A. Freeman, manager of the 'West African Reporter.' Then the
s.s. _Senegal_ was attacked and captured by a host of sable
visitors, some coming to greet their friends, other to do a little
business in the washing and the shoreboat lines.

The washerwoman lost no time in showing up, although her charges have
been greatly reduced. She formerly demanded nearly treble as much as in
London; now, however, she makes only sixteen to twenty shillings a
month, not bad pay in a place where living costs threepence, and
comfortable living sixpence, a day. These nymphs of the wash-tub are
painfully familiar and plain. The dress is a bright cotton foulard bound
on like the anatomy of a turban and garnished, as were our grandmothers'
nightcaps, with huge front bows. Gaudy shawls cover white cotton
jackets; and skirts of bright, showy longcloth suggest the parrot or the
cockatoo. The ornaments are large gold earrings and necklaces of beads
or coral. I could not but remark the difference of tone. There was none
of the extreme 'bumptiousness' and pugnacious impudence of twenty years
ago; indeed, the beach-boys, nowhere a promising class, were rather
civil than otherwise. Not a single allusion to the contrast of 'white
niggahs and black gen'lemen.' Nor did the unruly, disorderly African
character ever show itself, as formerly it often did, by fisticuffing,
hair-pulling, and cursing, with a mixture of English and Dark-Continent
ideas and phraseology, whose _tout ensemble_ was really portentous.

The popular voice ascribes this immense change for the better to the
energetic action of Governor S. Rowe (1876); and if so his statue
deserves to stand beside that of Pope Henessy. We could not fairly
complain of the inordinate noise, which would have been the death of
a sick traveller. Niger cannot speak without bawling. The charge for
landing was only threepence; _en revanche_ the poor fellows
stole every little thing they could, including my best meerschaum.

Cameron and I went ashore to hire Krumen for the Gold Coast, and herein
we notably failed. We disembarked at the camber, a huge pile of masonry,
whose weight upon an insecure foundation has already split the sea-wall
in more than one place. The interior also is silting up so fast that it
will constantly require dredging to admit boats. In fact, the colony
must deeply repent not having patronised Mr. Jenkins's project of a
T-headed pier, on one side of which landing would have been practicable
in all weathers.

The sun, despite the mist, seemed to burn our backs, and the glare from
the red clay soil roasted our eyes as we toiled up the ramp, bad as
those of 'Gib.,' which leads to Water Street, the lower line subtending
the shore. Here we could inspect St. George's Cathedral, built, they
say, at a cost of 10,000_l._ to 15,000_l._, which would be
reduced to 5,000_l._ in England--contracts in such 'colonies' cost
more than stone and slate. The general aspect is that of its Bombay
brother, and the order is called, I believe, neo-Gothic, the last insult
to ecclesiastical architecture. A single rusty tower, with
toy-battlements, pins down along ridge-back, evidently borrowed from a
barn; the light yellow-wash is mildewed and weather-stained, and the
windows show unseemly holes. Surely Bishop Cheetham could have afforded
a few panes of glass when exchanging his diocese for a rectory in
England. Let me here note that the Catholic bishop at Goa and elsewhere
is expected to die at his post, and that there is an over-worldly look
in this Protestant form of the 'nolo episcopari.' East of the cathedral,
and uncompromisingly 'Oriented' to the north, stands the unfinished
shell of a Wesleyan chapel, suggesting that caricature which has
intruded itself into the shadow of York Minster. Some 5,000_l._
were spent upon this article by the locals; but the home committee
wisely determined that it should not be finished, and now they propose
to pull it down for building-material.

We then entered the fruit and vegetable market, a neat and well-paved
bazar, surmounted by a flying roof and pierced for glass windows. The
dead arches in the long walls are externally stone and internally
brick. The building was full of fat middle-aged negresses, sitting at
squat before their 'blyes,' or round baskets, which contained a variety
and confusion of heterogeneous articles. The following is a list almost
as disorderly as the collection itself.

There were pins and needles, yarn and thread, that have taken the place
of the wilder thorn and fibre; all kinds of small hardware;
looking-glasses in lacquered frames; beads of sorts, cowries and reels
of cotton; pots of odorous pomatum and shea-butter nuts; feathers of the
plantain-bird and country snuff-boxes of a chestnut-like fruit (a
strychnine?) from which the powder is inhaled, _more majorum_,
through a quill; physic-nuts (_tiglium_, or croton), a favourite
but painful native remedy; horns of the goat and antelope, possibly
intended for fetish 'medicine;' blue-stone, colcothar and other
drugs. Amongst the edibles appeared huge achatinae, which make an
excellent soup, equal to that of the French snail; ground-nuts; very
poor rice of four varieties, large and small, red and dark; cheap
ginger, of which the streets are at times redolent, and which makes good
home-brewed 'pop;' the Kola-nut, here worth a halfpenny and at Bathurst
a penny each; the bitter Kola, a very different article from the
esculent; skewered _rots_ of ground-hog, a rodent that can climb,
destroy vegetables, and bite hard if necessary; dried bats and rats,
which the African as well as the Chinese loves, and fish _cuits au
soleil_, preferred when 'high,' to use the mildest adjective. From
the walls hung dry goods, red woollen nightcaps and comforters,
leopards' and monkeys' skins, and the pelt of an animal which might have
been a gazelle.

Upon the long counters or tables were displayed the fruits and
vegetables. The former were the custard-apple or sweet-sop (_Annona
squamosa_), the sour-sop (_A. muricata_), the Madeiran
_chirimoya_, (_A. cherimolia_), citrons, sweet and sour limes,
and oranges, sweet and bitter, grown in the mountains; bananas
(_M. paradisiaca_), the staff of life on the Gold Coast, and
plantains (_M. sapientum_), the horse-plantains of India;
[Footnote: The West Indian plantain is apparently unknown or unused]
pine-apples more than half wild; mangoes terribly turpentiney unless the
trunk be gashed to let out the gum; 'monkey-plums' or 'apples' and
'governor's plums.' The common guavas are rank and harsh, but the
'strawberry guava,' as it is locally called, has a delicate, subacid
flavour not easily equalled. The _aguacate_, or alligator-pear
(_Persea gratissima_), which was _not_ 'introduced by the
Basel missionaries from the West Indies,' is inferior to the
Mexican. Connoisseurs compare its nutty flavour with that of the
filbert, and eat it with pepper, salt, and the sauce of Worcester, whose
fortune was made by the nice conduct of garlic. The papaw [Footnote: The
leaves are rubbed on meat to make it tender, and a drop of milk from the
young fruit acts as a vermifuge.] should be cooked as a vegetable and
stuffed with forced meat; the flesh of the granadilla, which resembles
it, is neglected, while the seeds and their surroundings are flavoured
with sherry and sugar. There is an abundance of the _Eriobotrya
Japonica,_ in Madeira called the loquat and elsewhere the Japanese
medlar: it grows wild in the Brazil, where the people distil from
it. [Footnote: I cannot yet decide whether its birthplace is Japan or
South America, whose plants have now invaded Western India and greatly
altered the vegetation.]

The chief vegetables were the watercress, grown in private gardens;
onions, large and mild as the Spanish; _calavances_, or beans;
_okras_ or _gumbos_, the _bhendi_ of India (_Hibiscus
esculentus_), the best thickening for soup; _bengwas_, or
egg-plants; yams (_Dioscorea bulbifera_) of sorts; bitter Cassada
(_Jatropha manihot_) and the sweet variety (_Jatropha
janipha_); garlic; kokos (_Colocasia esculenta_); potatoes,
which the steamers are beginning to bring from England, not from
Madeira; tomatoes like musket-balls, but very sweet and wholesome; and
the _batata_, (_Convolvulus patatus_, or sweet potato), which
whilom made 'kissing comfits.' The edibles consisted of' fufu'
(plantain-paste); of 'cankey,' a sour pudding of maize-flour; of
ginger-cake; of cassava-balls finely levigated, and of sweetened
'agadi,' native bread in lumps, wrapped up in plantain-leaves. Toddy was
the usual drink offered for sale.

The butchers' yard, near the market, is no longer a 'ragged and
uncleanly strip of ground.' The long-horned cattle, small, mostly
humpless, and resembling the brindled and dun Alderney cow, are driven
in from the Pulo (Fulah) country. I have described the beef as tasting
not unlike what one imagines a knacker's establishment to produce, and
since that time I have found but scant improvement. It is sold on
alternate days with mutton, the former costing 6_d_., the latter
9_d_. a pound. Veal, so bad in England and so good in Southern
Europe, is unknown. The long, lean, hairy black-and-white sheep do not
supply an excellent article. Goats and kids are plentiful, and the flesh
would be good if it had any taste. Hogs abound, as in Ireland; but no
one eats pork, for the best of reasons. The poultry-list comprises
small tough fowls (l0_d_. to 2_s_.), partridges, ducks (2_s_.
6_d_.), geese, especially the spur-winged from Sherbro,
and the Muscovy or Manilla duck--a hard-fleshed, insipid bird, whose old
home was South American Paraguay--turkeys (10_s_. to 15_s_.),
and the _arripiada_, or frizzly chicken, whose feathers stand on
end. Milk is scarce and dear. Englishmen raw in the tropics object to
milch-goats and often put up with milch-pigs, which are said to be here
kept for the purpose. I need not tell all the old tale, 'Goat he go die;
pig he go for bush,' &c. Butter (1_s_. 8_d_. in 2-lb. tins) is
oily and rancid, with the general look of cartgrease, in this tropical
temperature. It is curious that the Danish and Irish dairies cannot
supply the West African public with a more toothsome article.

Near the meat-market is the double row of houses with shops upon the
ground-floor, not unlike a Banyan's street in outer Bombay, but smaller,
dirtier, meaner far. Here the stranger can buy dry goods and a few
curiosities of Mandenga manufacture--grigris (teraphim or charms), bows,
spears, and saddles and bridles like those of the Somal, both perfectly
useless to white men. The leather, however, is excellent as the
Moroccan, and the work dates from the days when the Saracens pushed
southwards from the Mediterranean to the Niger-valley. Wild animals are
at times offered for sale, but Darkey has heard exaggerated accounts of
prices paid in England for grey parrots, palm-birds, monkeys,
bush-antelopes, mongooses, ground-pigs, and other 'small deer' brought
from the rivulets behind Freetown. Sundry snakes were offered for sale,
the Mandenga, 4 to 5 feet long, with black marks upon a yellow ground,
and the spitting serpent, between 5 and 6 feet long, with a long head,
also dark above and silvery grey below. I doubted the fact of its
ejecting saliva till assured by the Rev. John Milum that two
missionaries at Lagos, Messieurs J. B. Wood and David, had suffered
severely from inflamed eyes after the contemptuous ophine
_crachat_. All along the coast is a cerastes (horned snake), whose
armature is upon the snout and whose short fat form suggests the
puff-adder. The worst is a venomous-looking cobra, or hooded viper, with
flat, cordate head, broad like all the more ferocious species. It is the
only thanatophid whose bite I will not undertake to cure. We carried on
the A.S.S. _Winnebah_, for the benefit of Mr. Cross, of Liverpool,
a big black ape, which the Sa Leonites called a 'black chimpanzee.'
Though badly wounded she had cost 27_l_., and died after a few days
of the cage. The young chimpanzees were valued at 6_1_.

I looked in vain for the old inn, the only thing in the place, a dirty
hovel, kept, in 1862, by a Liberian negro, inscribed 'Lunch-house' on a
sign-board flanked by the Union Jack and the U.S. 'oysters and
gridiron.' Nothing has succeeded to this 'American hotel,' and visitors
must depend upon the hospitality of acquaintances. A Frenchman lately
opened a _Gasthaus_, and lost no time in becoming bankrupt. There
is, however, a manner of boarding-house kept by a Mrs. King.

Turning south from Water Street, we passed the Wilberforce, or rather
the 'Willyfoss,' memorial, a colossal scandal noticed by every visitor
at Sa Leone, a 'folly' which has cost 3,000_l_. Its condition is
exactly what it was two decads ago--a chapel-like shell of dingy, mouldy
laterite with six lancet-windows and metal pillars. Its case is a
complicated concern. The ecclesiastical authorities wanted it for their
purposes, and so did the secular civilians, and so did the military. At
last the Sa Leonites, hopeless of obtaining a Government grant, have set
on foot a subscription which reached 500_l_.--some say 700_l_.
There are, therefore, certain fitful signs of activity, and
bricks and fire-bricks now cumber the ground; but it is all a 'flash
in the pan.' The present purpose is to make it a library, in place of
the fine old collection which went to the dogs. It is also to serve as a
lecture-room. But who is there in the 'African Liverpool' that can
lecture? What is he to lecture about? Who will stand or sit out being

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