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Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo Volume 1 by Richard F. Burton

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(Chorus improvises all his requirements)
(Solo) "How many dangers for the black girl?"
(Chorus) "Dangers from the black and the white man!"

The evening meal is eaten at 6 P.M. with the setting of the sun,
whose regular hours contrast pleasantly with his vagaries in the
northern temperates. And Hesperus brings wine as he did of old.
Drinking sets in seriously after dark, and is known by the
violent merriment of the men, and the no less violent quarrelling
and "flyting" of the sex which delights in the "harmony of
tongues." All then retire to their huts, and with chat and song,
and peals of uproarious laughter and abundant horseplay, such as
throwing minor articles at one another's heads, smoke and drink
till 11 P.M. The scene is "Dovercourt, all speakers and no
hearers." The night is still as the grave. and the mewing of a
cat, if there were one, would sound like a tiger's scream.

The mornings and evenings in these plantation-villages would be
delightful were it not for what the Brazilians call immundicies.
Sandflies always swarm in places where underwood and tall grasses
exclude the draughts, and the only remedy is clearing the land.
Thus at St. Isabel or Clarence, Fernando Po, where the land-wind
or the sea-breeze ever blows, the vicious little wretches are
hardly known; on the forested background of mountain they are
troublesome as at Nigerian Nufe. The bite burns severely, and
presently the skin rises in bosses, lasting for days with a
severe itching, which, if unduly resented, may end in
inflammatory ulcerations--I can easily understand a man being
laid up by their attacks. The animalcules act differently upon
different constitutions. While mosquitoes hardly take effect,
sand flies have often blinded me for hours by biting the
circumorbital parts. The numbers and minuteness of this insect
make it formidable. The people flap their naked shoulders with
cloths or bushy twigs; Nigerian travellers have tried palm oil
but with scant success, and spirits of wine applied to the skin
somewhat alleviate the itching but has no prophylactic effect.
Sandflies do not venture into the dark huts, and a "smudge" keeps
them aloof, but the disease is more tolerable than the remedy of
inflaming the eyes with acrid smoke and of sitting in a close
box, by courtesy termed a room, when the fine pure air makes one
pine to be beyond walls. After long endurance in hopes of
becoming inoculated with the virus, I was compelled to defend
myself with thick gloves, stockings and a muslin veil made fast
to the hat and tucked in under the shirt. After sunset the
sandflies retire, and the mosquito sounds her hideous trump; as
has been said, however, Pongo-land knows how to receive her.

Chapter VII.

Return to the River.

Early on the last morning in March we roused the Kru-men; they
were eager as ourselves to leave the "bush," and there was no
delay in loading and the mission-boat. Forteune, Azízeh, and
Asúnye were there to bid me God-speed, and Hotaloya did not fail
to supply a fine example of Mpongwe irresolution.

That "sweet youth" had begged hard during the last week that I
would take him to Fernando Po; carpenters were wanted for her
Majesty's consulate, and he seemed to jump at the monthly pay of
seven dollars--a large sum in these regions. On the night before
departure he had asked me for half a sovereign to leave with his
wives, and he made me agree to an arrangement that they should
receive two dollars per mensem. In the morning I had alluded to
the natural sorrow which his better semi-halves must feel,
although the absence of groaning and weeping was very suspicious,
and I had asked in a friendly way, "Them woman he make bob too

"Ye', sar," he replied with a full heart, "he cry too much."

When the last batch had disappeared with the last box I walked up
to him, and said, "Now, Andrews, you take hat, we go Gaboon."

Hotaloya at once assumed the maudlin expression and insipid
ricanement of the Hindú charged with "Sharm kí bát" (something

"Please, mas'r, I no can go--Nanny Po he be too far--I no look my
fader (the villain had three), them boy he say I no look 'um

The wives had won the day, and words would have been vain. He
promised hard to get leave from his papa and "grand-pap," and to
join me after a last farewell at the Plateau. His face gave the
lie direct to his speech, and his little manœuvre for keeping the
earnest-money failed ignobly.

The swift brown stream carried us at full speed. "Captain
Merrick" pointed out sundry short cuts, but my brain now refused
to admit as truth a word coming from a Mpongwe. We passed some
bateaux pecheurs, saw sundry shoals of fish furrowing the water,
and after two hours we were bumping on the rocks outlying Mombe
Creek and Nenga Oga village. The passage of the estuary was now a
pleasure, and though we grounded upon the shallows of "Voileliay
Bay," the Kru-men soon lifted the heavy boat; the wind was fair,
the tide was ebbing, and the strong current was in our favour. We
reached Glass Town before midday, and after five hours, covering
some twenty-two direct geographical miles, I found myself with
pleasure under the grateful shade of the Factory. It need hardly
be described, as it is the usual "bungalow" of the West African

Twelve days had been expended upon 120 miles, but I did not
regret the loss. A beautiful bit of country had been added to my
mental Pinacothek, and I had satisfied my mind to a certain
extent upon that quæstio, then vexata, the "Gorilla Book." Even
before my trip the ethnological part appeared to me trustworthy,
and, if not original, at any rate borrowed from the best sources.
My journey assured me, from the specimen narrowly scrutinized,
that both country and people are on the whole correctly
described. The dates, however, are all in confusion: in the
preface to the second edition, "October, 1859," became "October,
1858," and we are told that the excursions were transposed for
the simple purpose of taking the reader from north to south. As
in the case of most African travels, when instruments are not
used, the distances must be reduced: in chapter xii. the Shekyani
villages are placed sixty miles due east of Sánga-Tánga; whereas
the map shows twenty. Mr. W. Wimvood Reade declares that the
Apingi country, the ultima Thule of the explorer, is distant from
Ngumbi "four foot-days' journey;" as MM. de Compiègne and Marche
have shown, the tribe in question extends far and wide. Others
have asserted that seventy-five miles formed the maximum
distance. But many of M. du Chaillu's disputed distances have
been proved tolerably correct by MM. Serval and Griffon du
Bellay, who were sent by the French government in 1862 to survey
the Ogobe. A second French expedition followed shortly
afterwards, under the charge of MM. Labigot and Touchard; and
finally that of 1873, like all preceding it, failed to find any
serious deviation from fact.

The German exploring expedition (July 25, 1873) confirms the
existence of M. du Chaillu's dwarfs, the Obongo tribe, scoffed at
in England because they dwell close to a fierce people of
Patagonian proportions. The Germans report that they are called
"Babongo," "Vambuta," and more commonly "Bari," or "Bali;" they
dwell fourteen days' march from the mouth of the Luena, or River
of Chinxoxo. I have not seen it remarked that these pygmies are
mentioned by Andrew Battel Plinian at the end of the sixteenth
century. "To the north-east of Mani Kesoch," he tells us, "are a
kind of little people called Matimbas, who are no bigger than
boys twelve years old, but are very thick, and live only upon
flesh, which they kill in the woods with bows and darts." Of the
Aykas south of the Welle River, discovered by Dr. Schweinfurth, I
need hardly speak. It is not a little curious to find these
confirmations of Herodotean reports about dwarfish tribes in the
far interior, the Dokos and the Wabilikimo, so long current at
Zanzibar Island, and so long looked upon as mere fables.

Our departure from Mbátá had broken the spell, and Forteune did
keep his word; I was compelled in simple justice to cry
"Peccavi." On the very evening of our arrival at Glass Town the
youth Kángá brought me a noble specimen of what he called a
Nchígo Mpolo, sent by Forteune's bushmen; an old male with brown
eyes and dark pupils. When placed in an arm-chair, he ludicrously
suggested a pot-bellied and patriarchal negro considerably the
worse for liquor. From crown to sole he measured 4 feet 10 3/4
inches, and from finger-tip to finger-tip 6 feet 1 inch. The
girth of the head round ears and eyebrows was 1 foot 11 inches;
of the chest, 3 feet 2 inches; above the hip joints, 2 feet 4
inches; of the arms below the shoulder, 2 feet 5 inches; and of
the legs, 2 feet 5 inches. Evidently these are very handsome
proportions, considering what he was, and there was a suggestion
of ear lobe which gave his countenance a peculiarly human look.
He had not undergone the inhuman Hebrew-Abyssinian operation to
which M. du Chaillu's gorillas had been exposed, and the
proportions rendered him exceedingly remarkable.

That interesting anthropoid's career after death was one series
of misfortunes, ending with being stuffed for the British Museum.
My factotum sat up half the night skinning, but it was his first
coup d'essai. In a climate like the Gaboon, especially during the
rains, we should have turned the pelt "hairy side in," filled it
with cotton to prevent shrinking, and, after painting on arsenic,
have exposed it to the sun: better still, we should have placed
it on a scaffolding, like a defunct Congo-man, over a slow and
smoky fire, and thus the fatty matter which abounds in the
integuments would have been removed. The phalanges of the hands
and feet, after being clean-scraped, were restored to their
places, and wrapped with thin layers of arsenicated cotton, as is
done to small animals, yet on the seventh day decomposition set
in; it was found necessary to unsew the skin, and again to turn
it inside out. The bones ought to have been removed, and not
replaced till the coat was thoroughly dry. The skinned spoils
were placed upon an ant-hill; a practice which recalls to mind
the skeleton deer prepared by the emmets of the Hartz Forest,
which taught Oken that the skull is(?) expanded vertebræ. We did
not know that half-starved dogs and "drivers" will not respect
even arsenical soap. The consequence of exposing the skeleton
upon an ant-hill, where it ought to have been neatly cleaned
during a night, was that the "Pariah" curs carried off sundry
ribs, and the "parva magni formica laboris" took the trouble to
devour the skin of a foot. Worse still: the skull, the brain, and
the delicate members had been headed up in a breaker of trade
rum, which was not changed till the seventh day. It was directed
to an eminent member of the old Anthropological Society, and the
most interesting parts arrived, I believe, soft, pulpy, and
utterly useless. The subject seems to have been too sore for
mentioning --at least, I never heard of it again.

The late Dr. John Edward Gray, of the British Museum, called this
Nchígo Mpolo, from its bear-like masses of breast-pile, the
"hairy Chimpanzee" (Troglodytes vellerosus). After my return home
I paid it a visit, and could only think that the hirsute one was
considerably "mutatus ab illo." The colour had changed, and the
broad-chested, square-framed, pot-bellied, and portly old bully-
boy of the woods had become a wretched pigeon-breasted, lean-
flanked, shrunk-linibed, hungry-looking beggar. It is a lesson to
fill out the skin, even with bran or straw, if there be nothing
better--anything, in fact, is preferable to allowing the
shrinkage which ends in this wretched caricature.

During my stay at Glass Town I was fortunate enough to make the
acquaintance of the Rev. Messrs. Walker and Preston, of the
Baraka Mission. The head-quarter station of the American Board of
Foreign (Presbyterian) Missions was established on the Gaboon
River in 1842 by the Rev. J. Leighton Wilson, afterwards one of
the secretaries to the Society in New York. He had left the best
of memories in "the River," and there were tales of his having
manumitted in the Southern United States a small fortune of
slaves without a shade of compulsion. His volume on West Africa,
to which allusion has so often been made, contains a good bird's-
eye of the inter-tropical coast, and might, with order,
arrangement, and correction of a host of minor inaccuracies,
become a standard work.

I have already expressed my opinion, founded upon a sufficiently
long experience, that the United States missionary is by far the
best man for the Western Coast, and, indeed, for dangerous
tropical countries generally. Physically he is spare and hard,
the nervous temperament being more strongly developed in him than
in the bulbous and more bilious or sanguine European. He is
better born, and blood never fails to tell. Again, he generally
adopts the profession from taste, not because il faut vivre. He
is better bred; he knows the negro from his childhood, and his
education is more practical, more generally useful than that of
his rivals. Moreover, I never yet heard him exclaim, "Capting,
them heggs is 'igh!" Lastly he is more temperate and moderate in
his diet: hitherto it has not been my fate to assist in carrying
him to bed.

Perhaps the American missionary carries sobriety too far. In
dangerous tropical regions, where there is little appetite and
less nutritious diet, where exertion of mind and body easily
exhaust vitality, and where "diffusible stimulants" must often
take the place of solids, he dies first who drinks water. The
second is the man who begins with an "eye-opener" of "brandy-
pawnee," and who keeps up excitement by the same means through
the day. The third is the hygienic sciolist, who drinks on
principle poor "Gladstone" and thin French wines, cheap and
nasty; and the survivor is the man who enjoys a quantum suff. of
humming Scotch and Burton ales, sherry, Madeira, and port, with a
modicum of cognac. This has been my plan in the tropics from the
beginning, when it was suggested to me by the simplest exercise
of the reasoning faculties. "A dozen of good port will soon set
you up!" said the surgeon to me after fever. Then why not drink
port before the fever?

I have said something upon this subject in "Zanzibar City,
Island, and Coast" (i. p. 180), it will bear repetition. Joseph
Dupuis justly remarks: "I am satisfied, from my own experience,
that many fall victims from the adoption of a course of training
improperly termed prudential; viz. a sudden change of diet from
ship's fare to a scanty sustenance of vegetable matter (rejecting
even a moderate proportion of wine), and seclusion in their
apartments from the sun and atmosphere."

An immense mass of nonsense, copied in one "authority" from
another, was thrown before the public by books upon diet, until
the "Physiology of Common Life" (George Henry Lewes) discussed
Liebig's brilliant error in considering food chemically, and not
physiologically. The rest assume his classification without
reserve, and work from the axiom that heat-making, carbonaceous
and non-nitrogenous foods (e.g. fat and sugars), necessary to
support life in the arctic and polar regions, must be exchanged
for the tissue-making, plastic or nitrogenous (vegetables), as we
approach the equator. They are right as far as the southern
temperates, their sole field of observation; they greatly err in
all except the hot, dry parts of the tropics. Why, a Hindoo will
drink at a sitting a tumbler of glí (clarified butter), and the
European who would train for wrestling after the fashion of
Hindostan, as I attempted in my youth, on "native" sweetmeats and
sugared milk, will be blind with "melancholia" in a week. The
diet of the negro is the greasiest possible, witness his "palm-
oil chop" and "palaver sauce;" his craving for meat, especially
fat meat, is a feeling unknown to Europe. And how simple the
reason. Damp heat demands almost as much carbon as damp or dry

Return we to the Baraka Mission. The name is a corruption of
"barracoon;" in the palmy days of the trade slave-pens occupied
the ground now covered by the chapel, the schoolroom, and the
dwelling-house, and extended over the site of the factory to the
river-bank. The place is well chosen. Immediately beyond the
shore the land swells up to a little rounded hill, clean and
grassy like that about Sánga-Tánga. The soil appears poor, and
yet around the mission-house there are some fine wild figs, one a
huge tree, although not a score of years old; the bamboo clump is
magnificent, and the cocoas, oranges, and mangoes are surrounded
by thick, fragrant, and luxuriant quickset hedges of well-trimmed

A few words concerning the banana of this coast, which we find so
flourishing at Baraka. An immense god-send to the Gaboon, it is
well known to be the most productive of all food, 100 square
yards of it giving annually nearly 2,000 kilogrammes of food far
more nutritious than the potato. Here it is the musa sapientum,
the banana de Soâ Thomé, which has crossed over to the Brazil,
and which is there known by its sharper leaves and fruit, softer
and shorter than the indigenous growth. The plant everywhere is
most vigorous in constant moist heat, the atmosphere of a
conservatory, and the ground must be low and wet, but not swampy.
The best way of planting the sprouts is so to dispose them that
four may form the corners of a square measuring twelve feet each
side; the common style is some five feet apart. The raceme, which
appears about the sixth to the tenth month, will take sixty days
more to ripen; good stocks produce three and more bunches a year,
each weighing from twenty to eighty pounds. The stem, after
fruiting, should be cut down, in order to let the others enjoy
light and air, and the oftener the plants are removed to fresh
ground the better.

The banana, when unripe, is white and insipid; it is then baked
under ashes till it takes a golden colour, and, like a cereal, it
can be eaten as bread. A little later it is boiled, and becomes a
fair vegetable, tasting somewhat like chestnuts, and certainly
better than carrots or turnips. Lastly, when softer than a pear,
it is a fruit eaten with milk or made into beignets. I have
described the plantain-cider in "Lake Regions of Central Africa"
(ii. 287). The fruit contains sugar, gum, and acids (malic and
gallic); the rind, which is easily detached when ripe, stains
cloth with ruddy grey rusty colour, by its tannin, gallic, and
acetic acids.

The Baraka Mission has had several out-stations. One was at a
ruined village of Fán, which we shall presently pass on the right
bank of the river. The second was at Ikoi, a hamlet distant about
fifteen (not twenty-five) miles, upon a creek of the same name,
which enters the Gaboon behind Point Ovindo, and almost opposite
Konig Island. A third is at Anenge-nenge, vulgò Inenge-nenge,--
"nenge" in Mpongwe, and anenge in Bákele, meaning island,--
situated forty (not 100) miles up the main stream; here a native
teacher still resides. The Baraka school now (1862) numbers
thirty scholars, and there are twelve to fifteen communicants.
The missionaries are our white "labourers;" but two of them, the
Revs. Jacob Best and A. Bushnell, are absent in the United States
for the benefit of their health.

My first visit to the Rev. William Walker made me regret my
precipitate trip to Mbátá: he told me what I now knew, that it
was the wrong line, and that I should have run two or three days
up the Rembwe, the first large influent on the southern bank of
the Gaboon. He had come out to the River in 1842, and had spent
twenty years of his life in Africa, with occasional furloughs
home. He greatly interested me by a work which he was preparing.
The Gaboon Mission had begun its studies of the many native
dialects by the usual preparatory process of writing grammars and
vocabularies; after this they had published sundry fragmentary
translations of the Scriptures, and now they aimed at something
higher. After spending years in building and decorating the
porticoes of language, they were ambitious of raising the edifice
to which it is only an approach; in other words, of explaining
the scholarship of the tongue, the spirit of the speech.

"Language," says the lamented Dr. O.E. Vidal, then bishop
designate of Sierra Leone,[FN#19] "is designed to give expression
to thought. Hence, by examining the particular class of
composition"--and, I may add, the grammatical and syntactical
niceties characterizing that composition--"to which any given
dialect has been especially devoted, we may trace the direction
in which the current of thought is wont to flow amongst the tribe
or nations in which it is vernacular, and so investigate the
principal psychical peculiarities, if such there be, of that
tribe or nation." And again he remarks: "Dr. Krap was unable to
find any word expressing the idea of gratitude in the language of
all the Suaheli (Wásawahílí) tribes; a fact significant enough as
to the total absence of the moral feeling denoted by that name."
Similarly the Mpongwe cannot express our "honesty;" they must
paraphrase it by "good man don't steal." In time they possibly
may adopt the word bodily like pús (a cat), amog (mug), kapinde
(carpenter), krus (a cross), and ilepot (pot).

Such a task is difficult as it is interesting, the main obstacle
to success being the almost insuperable difficulty of throwing
off European ideas and modes of thought, which life-long habit
has made a second nature. Take the instance borrowed from Dr.
Krap, and noticed by a hundred writers, namely, the absence of a
synonym for "gratitude" amongst the people of the nearer East. I
have explained the truth of the case in my "Pilgrimage," and it
will bear explanation again. The Wásawahíli are Moslems, and the
Moslem view everywhere is that the donor's Maker, not the donor,
gives the gift. The Arab therefore expresses his "Thank you!" by
"Mamnún"--I am under an obligation (to your hand which has passed
on the donation); he generally prefers, however, a short
blessing, as "Kassir khayr' ak" (may Allah) "increase thy weal!"
The Persian's "May thy shadow never be less!" simply refers to
the shade which you, the towering tree, extend over him, the
humble shrub.

Another instance of deduction distorted by current European
ideas, is where Casalis ("Etudes sur la langue Séchuana," par
Eugène Casalis, part ii. p. 84), speaking of the Sisuto proverbs,
makes them display the "vestiges of that universal conscience to
which the Creator has committed the guidance of every intelligent
creature." Surely it is time to face the fact that conscience is
a purely geographical and chronological accident. Where, may we
ask, can be that innate and universal monitor in the case of a
people, the Somal for instance, who rob like Spartans, holding
theft a virtue; who lie like Trojans, without a vestige of
appreciation for truth; and who hold the treacherous and cowardly
murder of a sleeping guest to be the height of human honour? And
what easier than to prove that there is no sin however infamous,
no crime however abominable, which at some time or in some part
of the world has been or is still held in the highest esteem? The
utmost we can say is that conscience, the accident, flows
directly from an essential. All races now known to the world have
a something which they call right, and a something which they
term wrong; the underlying instinctive idea being evidently that
everything which benefits me is good, and all which harms me is
evil. Their good and their evil are not those of more advanced
nations; still the idea is there, and progress or tradition works
it out in a thousand different ways.

My visits to Mr. Walker first gave me the idea of making the
negro describe his own character in a collection of purely
Hamitic proverbs and idioms. It appeared to me that, if ever a
book aspires to the title of "l'Africain peint par lui-même," it
must be one in which he is the medium to his own spirit, the
interpreter to his own thoughts. Hence "Wit and Wisdom from West
Africa" (London, Tinsleys, 1856), which I still hold to be a step
in the right direction, although critics, who possibly knew more
of Cornhill than of Yoruba, assured me that it was "rather a
heavy compilation." Nor can I yet see how the light fantastic toe
can show its agility in the sabots of African proverbs.

Chapter VIII.

Up the Gaboon River.

Detestable weather detained me long at the hospitable factory.
Tornadoes were of almost daily occurrence --not pleasant with 200
barrels of gunpowder under a thatched roof; they were useful
chiefly to the Mpongwe servants of the establishment. These model
thieves broke open, under cover of the storms, a strong iron safe
in an inner room which had been carefully closed; they stole my
Mboko skin, and bottles were not safe from them even in our

My next step was to ascend the "Olo' Mpongwe," or Gaboon River,
which Bowdich ("Sketch of Gaboon") calls Oroöngo, and its main
point Ohlombopolo. The object was to visit the Fán, of whose
cannibalism such curious tales had been told. It was not easy to
find a conveyance. The factory greatly wanted a flat-bottom iron
steamer, a stern-wheeler, with sliding keel, and furnaces fit for
burning half-dried wood--a craft of fourteen tons, costing
perhaps £14 per ton, would be ample in point of size, and would
save not a little money to the trader. I was at last fortunate in
securing the "Eliza," belonging to Messrs. Hatton and Cookson.
She was a fore-and-aft schooner of twenty tons, measuring 42 feet
6 inches over all and put up at Bonny Town by Captain Birkett.
She had two masts, and oars in case of calms; her crew was of six
hands, including one Fernando, a Congoese, who could actually box
the compass. No outfit was this time necessary, beyond a letter
to Mr. Tippet, who had charge of the highest establishments up
stream. His business consisted chiefly of importing arms,
ammunition, and beads of different sorts, especially the red
porcelain, locally called Loangos.

On April 10, a little before noon, I set out, despite thunder and
lightning, rain, sun, torrential showers, and the vehemently
expressed distaste of my crew. The view of the right bank was no
longer from afar; it differs in shape and material from the
southern, but the distinction appears to me superficial, not
extending to the interiors. Off Konig Island we found nine
fathoms of water, and wanted them during a bad storm from the
south-east; it prevented my landing and inspecting the old Dutch
guns, which Bowdich says are remains of the Portuguese. Both this
and Parrot Island, lying some five miles south by west, are
masses of cocoas, fringed with mangroves; a great contrast with
the prairillon of the neighbouring Point Ovindo. At last, worn
out by a four-knot current and a squall in our teeth, we anchored
in four fathoms, about five miles south-east of Konig.

From this point we could easily see the wide gape of the Rembwe,
the south-eastern influent, or rather fork, of the Gaboon, which
rises in the south-western versant of some meridional chain, and
which I was assured can be ascended in three tides. The people
told me when too late of a great cavity or sink, which they
called Wonga-Wonga; Bowdich represents it to be an "uninhabited
savannah of three days' extent, between Empoöngwa and Adjoomba
(Mayumba). I saw nothing of the glittering diamond mountains,
lying eastward of Wonga-Wonga, concerning which the old traveller
was compelled to admit that, "when there was no moon, a pale but
distinct light was invariably reflected from a mountain in that
quarter, and from no other." It has now died out--this
superstition, which corresponds with the carbuncle of Hoy and
others of our Scoto-Scandinavian islands.

Resuming our cruize on the next day, we passed on the right a
village of "bad Bákele," which had been blown down by the French
during the last year; in this little business the "king" and two
lieges had been killed. The tribe is large and important,
scattered over several degrees north and south of the equator, as
is proved by their slaves being collected from distances of
several weeks and even months. In 1854 Mr. Wilson numbered them
at 100,000. According to local experts they began to press down
stream about 1830, driven à tergo by their neighbours, the
Mpángwe (Fán), even as they themselves are driving the Mpongwes.
But they are evidently the Kaylee or Kalay of Bowdich (p. 427),
whose capital, "Samashialee," was "the residence of the king,
Ohmbay." He places them in their present habitat, and makes them
the worst of cannibals. Whilst the "Sheekans" (Shekyani) buried
their dead under the bed within the house, these detestable
Kaylees ate not only their prisoners, but their defunct friends,
whose bodies were "bid for directly the breath was out of them;"
indeed, fathers were frequently seen to devour their own
children. Bowdich evidently speaks from hearsay; but the Brazil
has preserved the old traditions of cannibalism amongst the

The Bákele appeared to me very like the coast tribes, only
somewhat lighter-coloured and wilder in look, whilst they again
are darker-skinned than their eastern neighbours from the inner
highlands. Their women are not so well dressed as the "ladies" of
the Mpongwe, the chignon is smaller, and there are fewer brass
rings. The men, who still cling to the old habit of hunting,
cultivate the soil, practise the ruder mechanical arts, and trade
with the usual readiness and greed; they asked us a leaf of
tobacco for an egg, and four leaves for a bunch of bananas.
Missionaries, who, like Messrs. Preston and Best, resided amongst
them for years, have observed that, though a mild and timid
people, they are ever involved in quarrels with their neighbours.
I can hardly understand how they "bear some resemblance to the
dwarfish Dokos of the eastern coast," seeing that the latter do
not exist.

The Dikele grammar proves the language, which is most closely
allied to the Benga dialect, to be one of the great South African
family, variously called Kafir, because first studied amongst
these people; Ethiopic (very vague), and Nilotic because its
great fluvial basin is the Zambezi, not the Nile. As might be
expected amongst isolated races, the tongue, though clearly
related to that of the Mpongwe and the Mpangwe, has many salient
points of difference; for instance, the liquid "r" is wholly
wanting. According to Mr. T. Leighton Wilson, perhaps one word in
two is the same, or obviously from the same root; consequently
verbal resemblances are by no means striking. The orthography of
the two differs materially, and in this respect Dikele more
resembles the languages of the eastern coast than its western
neighbour, at the same time less than the Fiote or the Congoese.
It has a larger number of declensions, and its adjectives and
pronouns are more flexible and complicated. On the other hand, it
possesses few of the conjugations which form so conspicuous a
feature in the tongues of the Lower River, and, reversing the
usage of the Mpongwe, it makes very little use of the passive.

Running the gauntlet of cheer and chaff from the noisy inmates of
the many Bákele villages, and worried by mangrove-flies, we held
our way up the muddy and rapidly narrowing stream, whose avenues
of rhizophoras and palms acted as wind-sails; when the breeze
failed the sensation was stifling. Lyámbá (Cannabis sativa) grew
in patches upon the banks, now apparently wild, like that about
Lagos and Badagry. Not till evening did the tide serve, enabling
us to send our papers for visa on board the guard-ship "L'Oise,"
where a party of young Frenchmen were preparing for la chasse. A
little higher up stream are two islets, Nenge Mbwendi, so called
from its owner, and Nenge Sika, or the Isle of Gold. The Mpongwe
all know this name for the precious metal, and the Bakele appear
to ignore it: curious to say, it is the Fante and Mandenga word,
probably derived from the Arabic Sikkah, which gave rise to the
Italian Zecca (mint) and Zecchino. It may have been introduced by
the Laptots or Lascar sailors of the Senegal. M. du Chaillu
("Second Expedition," chap. iii.) mentions "the island Nengué
Shika" on the Lower Fernão Vaz River; and Bowdich turns the two
into Ompoongu and Soombea. The third is Anenga-nenga, not Ninga-
ninga, about one mile long from north to south, and well wooded
with bush and palms; here the Gaboon Mission has a neat building
on piles. The senior native employé was at Glass Town, and his
junior, a youth about nineteen, stood à la Napoléon in the
doorway, evidently monarch of all he surveyed. I found there one
of the Ndiva, the old tribe of Pongo-land, which by this time has
probably died out. We anchored off Wosuku, a village of some
fifty houses, forming one main street, disposed north-east--
south-west, or nearly at right angles with the river. The
entrance was guarded by a sentinel and gun, and the "king,"
Imondo, lay right royally on his belly. A fine plantation of
bananas divides the settlement, and the background is dense bush,
in which they say "Nyáre" and deer abound. The Bákele supply
sheep and fowls to the Plateau, and their main industry consists
in dressing plantain-fibre for thread and nets.

We now reach the confluence of the Nkonio or north-eastern, with
the Mbokwe, or eastern branch, which anastomose to form the
Gaboon; the latter, being apparently the larger of the two,
preserves the title Mpolo. Both still require exploration; my
friend M. Braouezzec, Lieutenant de Vaisseau, who made charts of
the lower bed, utterly failed to make the sources; and the Rev.
Mr. Preston, who lived seven months in the interior, could not
ascend far. Mr. W. Winwood Reade reached in May, 1862, the rapids
of the Nkomo River, but sore feet prevented his climbing the
mountain, which he estimates at 2,000 feet, or of tracing the
stream to its fountain. Mr. R.B.N. Walker also ascended the Nkomo
for some thirty miles, and found it still a large bed with two
fathoms of water in the Cacimbo or "Middle dries." In M. du
Chaillu's map the Upper Nkomo is a dotted line; according to all
authorities, upon the higher and the lower river his direction is
too far to the north-east. The good Tippet declares that he once
canoed three miles up the Mbokwe, and then marched eastward for
five days, covering a hundred miles--which is impossible. He
found a line of detached hills, and an elevation where the dews
were exceedingly cold; looking towards the utterly unknown
Orient, he could see nothing but a thick forest unbroken by
streams. He heard from the country people traditions of a Great
Lake, which may be that placed by Tuckey in north latitude 2°-3°.
The best seasons for travel are said to be March and November,
before and after the rains, which swell the water twelve feet.

About Anenge-nenge we could easily see the sub-ranges of the
great Eastern Ghats, some twenty miles to the north-east. Here
the shallows and the banks projecting from different points made
the channel dangerous. Entering the Mbokwe branch we were
compelled to use sweeps, or the schooner would have been dashed
against the sides; as we learned by the trees, the tides raise
the surface two to three feet high. After the third hour we
passed the "Fán Komba Vina," or village of King Vina. It stood in
a pretty little bay, and the river, some 400 feet broad, was
fronted, as is often the case, by the "palaver tree," a glorious
Ceiba or bombax. All the people flocked out to enjoy the sight,
and my unpractised eye could not distinguish them from Bákele.
Above it, also on the right bank, is the now-deserted site where
Messrs. Adams and Preston nearly came to grief for bewitching the
population with "bad book."

Five slow hours from Anenge-nenge finally placed us, about
sunset, at Mayyán, or Tippet Town. The depôt lies a little above
the confluence of the Mbokwe and the Londo, or south-eastern fork
of the latter. A drunken pilot and a dark and moonless night,
with the tide still running in, delayed us till I could hardly
distinguish the sable human masses which gathered upon the Styx-
like stream to welcome their new Matyem--merchant or white man.
Before landing, all the guns on board the steamer were double-
loaded and discharged, at the instance of our host, who very
properly insisted upon this act of African courtesy--"it would be
shame not to fire salute." We were answered by the loudest howls,
and by the town muskets, which must have carried the charges of
old chambers. Mr. Tippet, an intelligent coloured man from the
States, who has been living thirteen years on the Gaboon, since
the age of fourteen, and who acts as native trader to Mr. R.B.N.
Walker, for ivory, ebony, rubber, and other produce, escorted me
to his extensive establishment. At length I am amongst the man-

Chapter IX.

A Specimen Day with the Fán Cannibals.

At 5 a.m. on the next day, after a night with the gnats and rats,
I sallied forth in the thick "smokes," and cast a nearer look
upon my cannibal hosts. And first of the tribal name. The Mpongwe
call their wild neighbours Mpángwe; the Europeans affect such
corruptions as Fánwe, Panwe, the F and P being very similar,
Phaouin and Paouen (Pawen). They call themselves Fán, meaning
"man;" in the plural, Bafan. The n is highly nasalized: the
missionaries proposed to express it by "nh" which, however,
wrongly conveys the idea of aspiration; and "Fan," pronounced
after the English fashion, would be unintelligible to them.

The village contains some 400 souls, and throughout the country
the maximum would be about 500 spears, or 4,000 of both sexes,
whilst the minimum is a couple of dozen. It is pleasantly
situated on the left bank of the Mbokwe River, a streamlet here
some 50 feet broad, whose water rises 6 feet 10 inches under the
tidal influence. The single street, about half a mile long, is
formed by two parallel rows of huts, looking upon a cleared line
of yellow clay, and provided with three larger sheds--the palaver
houses. The Fán houses resemble those of the Mpongwe; in fact,
the tribes, beginning at the Camarones River, build in much the
same style, but all are by no means so neat and clean as those of
the seaboard. A thatch, whose projecting eaves form deep shady
verandahs, surmounts walls of split bamboo, supported by raised
platforms of tamped earth, windows being absent and chimneys
unknown; the ceiling is painted like coal tar by oily soot, and
two opposite doors make the home a passage through which no one
hesitates to pass. The walls are garnished with weapons and nets,
both skilfully made, and the furniture consists of cooking
utensils and water-pots, mats for bedding, logs of wood for seats
and pillows, and lumps of timber or dwarf stools, neatly cut out
of a single block. Their only night-light--that grand test of
civilization--is the Mpongwe torch, a yard of hard, black gum,
mixed with and tightly bound up in dried banana leaves. According
to some it is acacia; others declare it to be the "blood" of the
bombax, which is also used for caulking. They gather it in the
forest, especially during the dries, collect it in hollow
bamboos, and prepare it by heating in the neptune, or brass pan.
The odour is pleasant, but fragments of falling fire endanger the
hut, and trimming must be repeated every ten minutes. The sexes
are not separated; as throughout intertropical Africa, the men
are fond of idling at their clubs; and the women, who must fetch
water and cook, clean the hut, and nurse the baby, are seldom
allowed to waste time. They are naturally a more prolific race
than those inhabiting the damp, unhealthy lowlands, and the
number of the children contrasts pleasantly with the "bleak
house" of the debauched Mpongwe, who puts no question when his
wife presents him with issue.

In the cool of the morning Fitevanga, king of Mayyán, lectured me
upon the short and simple annals of the Fán. In 1842 the first
stragglers who had crossed the Sierra del Crystal are said to
have been seen upon the head waters of the Gaboon. I cannot,
however, but suspect that they are the "Paämways" of whom Bowdich
("Sketch of Gaboon," p. 429) wrote in the beginning of the
century, "All the natives on this route are said to be cannibals,
the Paämways not so voraciously as the others, because they
cultivate a large breed of dogs for their eating." Mr. W. Winwood
Reade suspects them to be an offshoot of the great Fulah race,
and there is nothing in point of dialect to disprove what we must
at present consider a pure conjecture. "The Fulah pronouns have
striking analogies with those of the Yoruba, Accra, Ashantee, and
Timmanee, and even of the great Kaffir class of dialects, which
reaches from the equator to the Cape," wrote the late learned E.
Norris, in his "Introduction to the Grammar of the Fulah
Language" (London: Harrison, 1854).

According to the people of the upper river the Fán were expelled
by the Bati or Batti--not "Bari" as it has been written-from
their ancient seats; and they are still pushing them seawards.
The bushmen are said to live seven to ten short marches (seventy
to a hundred miles) to the east, and are described by Mr. Tippet,
whom they have visited, as a fine, tall, slender, and light-
skinned people, who dress like the Fán, but without so much
clothing, and who sharped the teeth of both sexes. Dr. Barth
heard of the Bati, and Herr Petermann's map describes them[FN#20]
as "Pagans, reported to be of a white colour, and of beautiful
shape, to live in houses made of clay, to wear cloth of their own
making, and to hold a country from which a mountain is visible to
the south-west, and close to the sea." The range in question may
be the Long Qua (Kwa), which continues the Camarones block to the
north-east, and the Batis may have passed south-westward from
Southern Adamáwa.

The Fán were accompanied in their seaward movement by the Osheba
or 'Sheba, the Moshebo and Moshobo of M. du Chaillu's map. They
are said to be a tribe of kindred blood and warlike tastes,
speaking a remarkably guttural tongue, but intelligible to the
Mpángwe. They too were doubtless pressed forward by the Inner
Bati, who are.also affected by the Okáná, the Yefá, and the
Sensobá. The latter are the innermost known to my negro
informants, and their sheep and goats have found their way to the
Gaboon: they are doughty elephant-hunters, and they attack the
Njína, although they have no fire-arms. The Mpangwe deride the
savagery of these races, who have never heard of a man riding a
horse or an ass, which the Mpongwes call Cavala and Buro burro).
The names of these three races, which are described as brave,
warlike, and hospitable to strangers, will not be found on any
map; indeed the regions east of the Gaboon belong to the great
white blot of inter-tropical Africa, extending from north
latitude 7 degrees to south latitude 5 degrees. Major de Ruvignes
heard also of a tribe called Lachaize (Osheba?) which excels the
Fán in strength and courage as much as the latter do the coast
tribes: a detachment of them had settled near one of the chief
Mpángwe towns, "Mboma." Some days after his arrival he saw
several of these people, and describes them as giants, compared
with the negro races to which his eye was accustomed. The general
stature varied from six feet to six feet four inches; their
complexion was a light café au lait; their hair was ornamented
with cowries, strung so thickly as to suggest a skull-cup, whilst
long streamers of elephants' tails, threaded with the Cypraea and
brass rings, hung down from the head behind the ears, covering
the nape of the neck. All these, we may observe, are Congo
customs. In their manufacture of iron, dug by themselves, they
resemble the cannibals.

The Fán have now lodged themselves amongst the less warlike,
maritime, and sub-maritime tribes, as the (Ashantis) Asiante
lately did in Fante-land; now they visit the factories on the
estuary, and wander as far as the Ogobe. In course of time, they
will infallibly "eat up" the Bákele, as the latter are eating up
the Mpongwe and Shekyani. They have their own names for
neighbouring tribes: the Mpongwe, according to Bowdich, called
the Shekyani, and the inner tribes "Boolas, a synonym of Dunko in
Ashantee;" hence, probably, the "Bulous" of Mr. Hutchinson (p.
253), "a tribe on the Guergay Creek, who speak a different
language from the Mpongwes." The Fán call the Mpongwes, Báyok;
the Bákele, Ngon; the Shekyani, Besek; and the Gaboon River,
Aboka. The sub-tribes of cannibals, living near my line of march,
were named to me as follows:--1. The Lálá (Oshebas?), whose chief
settlement, Sánkwí, is up the Mbokwe River; 2. their neighbours,
the Esánvímá; 3. the Sánikiya, a bush tribe; 4. the Sákulá, near
Mayyán; 5. the Esobá, about Fakanjok; 6. the Esonzel of the Ute,
or Autá village; 7. the Okola, whose chief settlement is Esámási;
and 8. the Ashemvon, with Asya for a capital.

From M. du Chaillu's illustrations (pp. 74, 77) I fully expected
to see a large-limbed, black-skinned, and ferocious-looking race,
with huge mustachios and plaited beards. A finely made, light-
coloured people, of regular features and decidedly mild aspect,
met my sight.

The complexion is, as a rule, chocolate, the distinctive colour
of the African mountaineer and of the inner tribes; there are
dark men, as there would be in England, but the very black are of
servile origin. Few had any signs of skin-disease; I saw only one
hand spotted with white, like the incipient Morphetico (leper) of
the Brazil. Many, if bleached, might pass for Europeans, so
"Caucasian" are their features; few are negro in type as the
Mpongwe, and none are purely "nigger" like the blacks of maritime
Guinea and the lower Congoese. And they bear the aspect of a
people fresh from the bush, the backwoods; their teeth are
pointed, and there is generally a look of grotesqueness and
surprise. When I drank tea, they asked what was the good of
putting sugar in tobacco water. The hair is not kinky,
peppercorn-like, and crisply woolly, like that of the Coast
tribes; in men, as well as in women, it falls in a thick curtain,
nearly to the shoulders, and it is finer than the usual
elliptical fuzz. The variety of their perruquerie can be rivalled
only by that of the dress and ornament. The males affect plaits,
knobs, and horns, stiff twists and upright tufts, suddenly
projecting some two inches from the scalp; and, that analogies
with Europe might not be wanting, one gentleman wore a queue,
zopf, or pigtail, bound at the shoulders, not by a ribbon, but by
the neck of a claret bottle. Other heads are adorned with single
feathers, or bunches and circles of plumes, especially the red
tail-plumes of the parrot and the crimson coat of the Touraco
(Corythrix), an African jay; these blood-coloured spoils are a
sign of war. The Brazilian traveller will be surprised to find
the coronals of feathers, the Kennitare (Acangátara) of the Tupí-
Guarani race, which one always associates with the New World. The
skull-caps of plaited and blackened palm leaf, though common in
the interior, are here rare; an imitation is produced by tressing
the hair longitudinally from occiput to sinciput, making the head
a system of ridges, divided by scalp-lines, and a fan-shaped tuft
of scarlet-stained palm frond surmounts the poll. I noticed a
fashion of crinal decoration quite new to me.

A few hairs, either from the temples, the sides or the back of
the head, are lengthened with tree-fibres, and threaded with red
and white pound-beads, so called by Europeans because the lb.
fetches a dollar. These decorations fall upon the breast or back;
the same is done to the thin beard, which sprouts tufty from both
rami of the chin, as in the purely nervous temperament of Europe;
and doubtless the mustachios, if the latter were not mostly
wanting, would be similarly treated. Whatever absurdity in hair
may be demanded by the trichotomists and philopogons of Europe, I
can at once supply it to any extent from Africa--gratis.
Gentlemen remarkable by a raie, which as in the Scotch terrier
begins above the eyes and runs down the back, should be grateful
to me for this sporting offer.

Nothing simpler than the Fán toilette. Thongs and plaits of goat,
wild cat, or leopard skin gird the waist, and cloth, which is
rare, is supplied by the spoils of the black monkey or some other
"beef." The main part of the national costume, and certainly the
most remarkable, is a fan of palm frond redolent of grease and
ruddled with ochre, thrust through the waist belt; while new and
stiff the upper half stands bolt upright and depends only when
old. It suggests the "Enduap" (rondache) of ostrich-plumes worn
by the Tupi-Guarani barbarians of the Brazil, the bunchy caudal
appendages which made the missionaries compare them with pigeons.
The fore part of the body is here decked with a similar fan, the
outspread portion worn the wrong way, like that behind. The
ornaments are seed-beads, green or white, and Loangos (red
porcelain). The "bunch" here contains 100 to 120 strings, and up
country 200, worth one dollar; each will weigh from one to three,
and a wealthy Fán may carry fifteen to forty-five pounds. The
seed-bead was till lately unknown; fifteen to twenty strings make
the "bunch." There is not much tattooing amongst the men, except
on the shoulders, whilst the women prefer the stomach; the
gandin, however, disfigures himself with powdered cam-wood, mixed
with butter-nut, grease, or palm oil--a custom evidently derived
from the coast-tribes. Each has his "Ndese," garters and armlets
of plaited palm fibre, and tightened by little cross-bars of
brass; they are the "Hibás" which the Bedawin wear under their
lower articulations as preservatives against cramp. Lastly, a
Fetish horn hangs from the breast, and heavy copper rings
encumber the wrists and ankles. Though unskilful in managing
canoes--an art to be learned, like riding and dancing, only in
childhood--many villagers affect to walk about with a paddle,
like the semi-aquatic Kru-men. Up country it is said they make
rafts which are towed across the stream by ropes, when the
swiftness of the current demands a ferry. The women are still
afraid of the canoe.

All adult males carry arms, and would be held womanish if they
were seen unweaponed. These are generally battle-axes, spears
cruelly and fantastically jagged, hooked and barbed, and curious
leaf-shaped knives of archaic aspect; some of the latter have
blades broader than they are long, a shape also preserved by the
Mpongwe. The sheaths of fibre or leather are elaborately
decorated, and it is chic for the scabbard to fit so tight that
the weapon cannot be drawn for five minutes; I have seen the same
amongst the Somal. There are some trade-muskets, but the "hot-
mouthed weapon" has not become the national weapon of the Fán.
Bows and arrows are unknown; the Náyin or cross-bow peculiar to
this people, and probably a native invention, not borrowed, as
might be supposed, from Europe, is carried only when hunting or
fighting: a specimen was exhibited in London with the gorillas.
The people are said sometimes to bend it with the foot or feet
like the Tupí Guaranís, the Jivaros, and other South Americans.
Suffice it to remark of this weapon, with which, by the by, I
never saw a decent shot made, that the détente is simple and
ingenious, and that the "Ebe" or dwarf bolt is always poisoned
with the boiled root of a wild shrub. It is believed that a graze
is fatal, and that the death is exceedingly painful: I doubt both
assertions. Most men also carry a pliable basket full of bamboo
caltrops, thin splints, pointed and poisoned. Placed upon the
path of a bare-footed enemy, this rude contrivance, combined with
the scratching of the thorns, and the gashing cuts of the grass,
must somewhat discourage pursuit. The shields of elephant hide
are large, square, and ponderous. The "terrible war-axe" is the
usual poor little tomahawk, more like a toy than a tool.

After a bathe in the muddy Mbokwe, I returned to the village, and
found it in a state of ferment. The Fán, like all inner African
tribes, with whom fighting is our fox-hunting, live in a chronic
state of ten days' war, and can never hold themselves safe; this
is the case especially where the slave trade has never been heard
of. Similarly the Ghazwah ("Razzia") of the Bedawin is for
plunder, not for captives. Surprises are rare, because they will
not march in the dark. Battles are not bloody; after two or three
warriors have fallen their corpses are dragged away to be
devoured, their friends save themselves by flight, and the weaker
side secures peace by paying sheep and goats. On this occasion
the sister of a young "brave" had just now been killed and
"chopped" by the king of Sánkwí, a neighbouring settlement of
Oshebas, and the bereaved brother was urging his comrades with
vociferous speeches to "up and arm." Usually when a man wants
"war," he rushes naked through his own village, cursing it as he
goes. Moreover, during the last war Mayyán lost five men to three
of the enemy; which is not fair, said the women, who appeared
most eager for the fray. All the youths seized their weapons; the
huge war-drums, the hollowed bole of a tree fringed with Nyáre
hide, was set up in the middle of the street; preparations for
the week of singing and dancing which precedes a campaign were
already in hand, and one war-man gave earnest of blood-shed by
spearing a goat the property of Mr. Tippet. It being our interest
that the peace should be kept till after my proposed trip into
the interior, I repaired to the palaver-house and lent weight to
the advice of my host, who urged the heroes to collect ivory,
ebony, and rubber, and not to fight till his stores were filled.
We concluded by carrying off the goat. After great excitement the
warriors subsided to a calm; it was broken, however, two days
afterwards by the murder of a villager, the suspected lover of a
woman whose house was higher up the Mbokwe River; he went to
visit her, and was incontinently speared in the breast by the
"injured husband." If he die and no fine be paid, there will be
another "war."

I made careful inquiry about anthropophagy amongst the Fán, and
my account must differ greatly from that of M. du Chaillu. The
reader, however, will remember that Mayyán is held by a
comparatively civilized race, who have probably learned to
conceal a custom so distasteful to all their neighbours, white
and black; in the remoter districts cannibalism may yet assume
far more hideous proportions. Since the Fán have encouraged
traders to settle amongst them, the interest as well as the
terrors of the Coast tribes, who would deter foreigners from
direct dealings, has added new horrors to the tale; and yet
nothing can exceed the reports of older travellers.

During my peregrinations I did not see a single skull. The
chiefs, stretched at full length, and wrapped in mats, are buried
secretly, the object being to prevent some strong Fetish medicine
being made by enemies from various parts of the body. In some
villages the head men of the same tribe are interred near one
another; the commonalty are put singly and decently under ground,
and only the slave (Máká) is thrown as usual into the bush. Mr.
Tippet, who had lived three years with this people, knew only
three cases of cannibalism; and the Rev. Mr. Walker agreed with
other excellent authorities, that it is a rare incident even in
the wildest parts--perhaps opportunity only is wanted. As will
appear from the Fán's bill of fare, anthropophagy can hardly be
caused by necessity, and the way in which it is conducted shows
that it is a quasi-religious rite practised upon foes slain in
battle, evidently an equivalent of human sacrifice. If the whole
body cannot be carried off, a limb or two is removed for the
purpose of a roast. The corpse is carried to a hut built
expressly on the outskirts of the settlement; it is eaten
secretly by the warriors, women and children not being allowed to
be present, or even to look upon man's flesh; and the cooking
pots used for the banquet must all be broken. A joint of "black
brother" is never seen in the villages: "smoked human flesh" does
not hang from the rafters, and the leather knife-sheaths are of
wild cow; tanned man's skin suggests only the tannerie de Meudon,
an advanced "institution." Yet Dr. Schweinfurth's valuable
travels on the Western Nile prove that public anthropophagy can
co-exist with a considerable amount of comfort and, so to speak,
civilization--witness the Nyam-Nyam and Mombattu (Mimbuttoo). The
sick and the dead are uneaten by the Fán, and the people shouted
with laughter when I asked a certain question.

The "unnatural" practice, which, by the by, has at different ages
extended over the whole world, now continues to be most prevalent
in places where, as in New Zealand, animal food is wanting; and
everywhere pork readily takes the place of "long pig." The damp
and depressing atmosphere of equatorial Africa renders the
stimulus of flesh diet necessary. The Isángú, or Ingwánba, the
craving felt after a short abstinence from animal food, does not
spare the white traveller more than it does his dark guides; and,
though the moral courage of the former may resist the
"gastronomic practice" of breaking fast upon a fat young slave,
one does not expect so much from the untutored appetite of the
noble savage. On the eastern parts of the continent there are two
cannibal tribes, the Wadoe and the Wabembe; and it is curious to
find the former occupying the position assigned by Ptolemy (iv.
8) to his anthropophagi of the Barbaricus Sinus: according to
their own account, however, the practice is modern. When weakened
by the attacks of their Wákámbá neighbours, they began to roast
and eat slices from the bodies of the slain in presence of the
foe. The latter, as often happens amongst barbarians, and even
amongst civilized men, could dare to die, but were unable to face
the horrors of becoming food after death: the great Cortez knew
this feeling when he made his soldiers pretend anthropophagy.
Many of the Wadoe negroids are tall, well made, and light
complexioned, though inhabiting the low and humid coast regions--
a proof, if any were wanted, that there is nothing unwholesome in
man's flesh. Some of our old accounts of shipwrecked seamen,
driven to the dire necessity of eating one another, insinuate
that the impious food causes raging insanity. The Wabembe tribe,
occupying a strip of land on the western shore of the Tanganyika
Lake, are "Menschenfresser," as they were rightly called by the
authors of the "Mombas Mission Map." These miserables have
abandoned to wild growth a most prolific soil; too lazy and
unenergetic to hunt or to fish, they devour all manner of
carrion, grubs, insects, and even the corpses of their deceased
friends. The Midgán, or slave-caste of the semi-Semitic Somal,
are sometimes reduced to the same extremity; but they are ever
held, like the Wendigo, or man-eaters, amongst the North American
Indians, impure and detestable. On the other hand, the Tupi-
Guaranís of the Brazil, a country abounding in game, fish, wild
fruits, and vegetables, ate one another with a surprising relish.
This subject is too extensive even to be outlined here: the
reader is referred to the translation of Hans Stade: old
travellers attribute the cannibalism of the Brazilian races to
"gulosity" rather than superstition; moreover, these barbarians
had certain abominable practices, supposed to be known only to
the most advanced races.

Anthropophagy without apparent cause was not unknown in Southern
Africa. Mr. Layland found a tribe of "cave cannibals" amongst the
mountains beyond Thaba Bosigo in the Trans-Gariep Country.[FN#21]
He remarks with some surprise, "Horrible as all this may appear,
there might be some excuse made for savages, driven by famine to
extreme hunger, for capturing and devouring their enemies. But
with these people it was totally different, for they were
inhabiting a fine agricultural tract of country, which also
abounded in game. Notwithstanding this, they were not contented
with hunting and feeding upon their enemies, but preyed much upon
each other also, for many of their captures were made from
amongst the people of their own tribe, and, even worse than this,
in times of scarcity, many of their own wives and children became
the victims of this horrible practice."

Anthropophagy, either as a necessity, a sentiment, or a
superstition, is known to sundry, though by no means to all, the
tribes dwelling between the Nun (Niger) and the Congo rivers; how
much farther south it extends I cannot at present say. On the
Lower Niger, and its branch the Brass River, the people hardly
take the trouble to conceal it. On the Bonny and New Calabar,
perhaps the most advanced of the so-called Oil Rivers,
cannibalism, based upon a desire of revenge, and perhaps, its
sentimental side, the object of imbibing the valour of an enemy
slain in battle, has caused many scandals of late years. The
practice, on the other hand, is execrated by the Efiks of Old
Calabar, who punish any attempts of the kind with extreme
severity. During 1862 the slaves of Creek-town attempted it, and
were killed. At Duke-town an Ibo woman also cut up a man, sun-
dried the flesh, and sold it for monkey's meat--she took
sanctuary at the mission house. Yet it is in full vigour amongst
their Ibo neighbours to the north-west, and the Duallas of the
Camarones River also number it amongst their "country customs."
The Mpongwe, as has been said, will not eat a chimpanzee; the Fán
devour their dead enemies.

The Fán character has its ferocious side, or it would not be
African: prisoners are tortured with all the horrible barbarity
of that human wild beast which is happily being extirpated, the
North American Indian; and children may be seen greedily licking
the blood from the ground. It is a curious ethnological study,
this peculiar development of destructiveness in the African
brain. Cruelty seems to be with him a necessary of life, and all
his highest enjoyments are connected with causing pain and
inflicting death. His religious rites--a strong contrast to those
of the modern Hindoo--are ever causelessly bloody. Take as an
instance, the Efik race, or people of Old Calabar, some 6,000
wretched remnants of a once-powerful tribe. For 200 years they
have had intercourse with Europeans, who, though slavers, would
certainly neither enjoy nor encourage these profitless horrors;
yet no savages show more brutality in torture, more frenzied
delight in bloodshed, than they do. A few of their pleasant
practices are--

The administration of Esere, or poison-bean;

"Egbo floggings" of the utmost severity, equalling the knout;

Substitution of an innocent pauper for a rich criminal;

Infanticide of twins; and


And it must be remembered that this tribe has had the benefit of
a resident mission for the last generation. I can hardly believe
this abnormal cruelty to be the mere result of uncivilization; it
appears to me the effect of an arrested development, which leaves
to the man all the ferocity of the carnivor, the unreflecting
cruelty of the child.

The dietary of these "wild men of the woods" would astonish the
starveling sons of civilization. When will the poor man realize
the fact that his comfort and happiness will result not from
workhouses and almshouses, hospitals and private charities, but
from that organized and efficient emigration, so long advocated
by the seer Carlyle? Only the crassest ignorance and the
listlessness born of misery and want prevent the able-bodied
pauper, the frozen-out mechanic, or the weary and ill-clad, the
over-worked and under-fed agricultural labourer, from quitting
the scenes of his purgatory, and from finding, scattered over
earth's surface, spots where he may enjoy a comparative paradise,
heightened by the memory of privations endured in the wretched
hole which he pleases to call his home. But nostalgia is a more
common disease than men suppose, and it affects none more
severely than those that are remarkable for their physical
powers. A national system of emigration, to be perfect, must not
be confined to solitary and individual hands, who, however
numerous, are ever pining for the past. The future will organize
the exodus of whole villages, which, like those of the Hebrides
in the last century, will bear with them to new worlds their
Lares and Penates, their wives, families, and friends, who will
lay out the church and the churchyard after the old fashion
familiar to their youth, and who will not forget the palaver-
house, vulgarly called pothouse or pub.

Few of these Lestrigons lack fish, which they catch in weirs,
fowl, flesh of dogs, goats, or sheep; cattle is a luxury yet
unknown, but the woods supply an abundance of Nyáre and other
"bush-beef." They also have their special word for the meat-
yearning. Still in the semi-nomadic stage, they till the ground,
and yet depend greatly upon the chase. They break their fast
(kidiashe) at 6 A.M., eat a mid-day meal (amos), and sup
(gogáshe) at sunset, besides "snacks" all through the day when
they can find material. They are good huntsmen, who fear neither
the elephant (nyok), the hippopotamus (nyok á mádzim), frequent
in the rivers of the interior, the crocodile, nor the gorilla
(njí). It is generally asserted--and the unfortunate Douville re-
echoed the assertion--that the river-horse and the crocodile will
not live together; the reason is, simply, that upon the seaboard,
where these animals were first observed, the crocodile prefers
the fresh water of the river, the hippopotamus the brackish water
at its mouth. In the interior, of course, they dwell together in
amity, because there is nothing for them to quarrel about.

The banana, planted with a careless hand, supplies the staff of
life, besides thatch, fuel, and fibre for nets and lines: when
they want cereals, maize, holcus, and panicum will grow almost
spontaneously. The various palm-trees give building materials,
oil, wine, and other requisites too numerous to mention. The
"five products of the cow" are ignored, as in the western
hemisphere of yore: one of the most useful, however, is produced
by the Nje or Njeve, a towering butyraceous tree, differing from
that which bears the Shea butternut. Its produce is sun-dried,
toasted over a fire, pounded and pressed in a bag between two
boards, when it is ready for use. The bush, cut at the end, is
fired before the beginning, of the rains, leaving the land ready
for yams and sweet potatoes almost without using the hoe. In the
middle dries, from June to September, the villagers sally forth
en masse for a battue of elephants, whose spoils bring various
luxuries from the coast. Lately, before my arrival, they had
turned out to gather the Aba, or wild mango, for Odika sauce; and
during this season they will do nothing else. The Fán plant their
own tobacco, which is described as a low, spreading plant, and
despise the imported weed; they neither snuff nor chew. All
manufacture their own pipe-bowls, and they are not ignorant of
the use of Lyamba or Hashish. They care little for sugar,
contrary to the rule of Africa in general, but they over-salt all
their food; and they will suck the condiment as children do
lollipops. Their palm oil is very poor, as if they had only just
learned the art of making it.

After the daily siesta, which lasted till 3 P. M., Mr. Tippet
asked me to put in an appearance at a solemn dance which, led by
the king's eldest daughter, was being performed in honour of the
white visitor. A chair was placed in the verandah, the street
being the ballroom. Received with the usual salutation,
"Mboláne," to which the reply is "An," I proceeded to the
external study of Fán womanhood. Whilst the men are tall and
élancés, their partners are usually short and stout, and,

"Her stature tall, I hate a dumpy woman,"

is a matter of taste upon which most of us agree with his
lordship. This peculiar breadth of face and person probably
result from hard work and good fare, developing adipose tissue. I
could not bring myself to admire Gondebiza, the princess royal,--
what is grotesque in one sex becomes unsightly in the other. Fat,
thirty, and perhaps once fair, her charms had seen their prime,
and the system of circles and circlets which composed her
personnel had assumed a tremulous and gravitating tendency. She
was habited in the height of Fán fashion. Her body was modestly
invested in a thin pattern of tattoo, and a gauze-work of oil and
camwood; the rest of the toilette was a dwarf pigeon-tail of fan-
palm, like that of the men, and a manner of apron, white beads,
and tree bark, greasy and reddened: the latter was tucked under
and over the five lines of cowries, which acted as cestus to the
portly middle, "big as a budget." The horns of hair, not unlike
the rays of light in Michael Angelo's "Moses," were covered with
a cap of leaves, and they were balanced behind by a pigtail
lashed with brass wire. Her ornaments were sundry necklaces of
various beads, large red and white, and small blue and pink
porcelains; a leaf, probably by way of amulet, was bound to a
string round the upper arm; and wrists and ankles were laden with
heavy rings of brass and copper, the parure of the great in Fán-
land. The other ballerine were, of course, less brilliantly
attired, but all had rings on their arms, legs, and ankles,
fingers, and toes. A common decoration was a bunch of seven or
eight long ringlets, not unlike the queues de rat, still affected
by the old-fashioned Englishwoman; these, however, as in the men,
were prolonged to the bosom by strings of alternate red and white
beads. Others limited the decoration to two rats' tails depending
from the temples, where phrenologists localize our "causality."
Many had faces of sufficient piquancy; the figures, though full,
wanted firmness, and I noticed only one well-formed bosom. The
men wore red feathers, but none carried arms.

The form of saltation suggested Mr. Catlin's drawings. A circular
procession of children, as well as adults, first promenaded round
the princess, who danced with all her might in the centre, her
countenance preserving the grand sérieux. The performers in this
"ging-a-ring" then clapped hands with prolonged ejaculations of
o-o-o-oh, stamped and shuffled forwards, moving the body from the
hips downwards, whilst H. R. H. alone stood stationary and
smileless as a French demoiselle of the last century, who came to
the ball not to causer but to danser. At times, when King
Fitevanga condescended to show his agility, the uproar of
applause became deafening. The orchestra consisted of two men
sitting opposite each other,--one performed on a caisson, a log
of hollowed wood, four feet high, skin-covered, and fancifully
carved; the other on the national Anjyá, a rude "Marimba," the
prototype of the pianoforte. It is made of seven or eight hard-
wood slats, pinned with bamboo tacks to transverse banana trunks
lying on the ground: like the grande caisse, it is played upon
with sticks, plectra like tent-pegs. Mr. W. Winwood Reade
("Savage Africa," chap, xiii.) says: "The instrument is also
described by Froebel as being used by the Indians of Central
America, where, which is still more curious, it is known by the
same name--'marimba.'" Of course they borrowed the article and
the name from the negroes: most tribes in Africa have their own
terms for this universal instrument, but it is everywhere
recognized by the African who knows Europeans as "marimba." Thus
Owen tells us (p. 308) "that at the mouth of the Zambesi it is
called 'Tabbelah,'" evidently the Arabic "Tablah" Another
favourite instrument is a clapper, made of two bamboos some five
feet long, and thick as capstan bars,--it is truly the castanet
en grand.

Highly gratified by the honour, but somewhat overpowered by the
presence and by that vile scourge the sandfly, I retired after
the first review, leaving the song, the drum, and the dance to
continue till midnight. Accustomed to the frantic noises of
African village-life in general, my ears here recognized an
excess of bawl and shout, and subsequent experience did not
efface the impression. But, in the savage and the barbarian,
noise, like curiosity, is a healthy sign; the lowest tribes are
moping and apathetic as sick children; they will hardly look at
anything, however strange to them.

The rest of my day and week was devoted to the study of this
quaint people, and the following are the results. Those who have
dealings with the Fán universally prefer them in point of honesty
and manliness to the Mpongwe and Coast races; they have not had
time to become thoroughly corrupt, to lose all the lesser without
gaining anything of the greater virtues. They boast, like John
Tod, that they ne'er feared the French, and have scant respect
for (white) persons; indeed, their independence sometimes takes
the form of insolence. We were obliged to release by force the
boy Nyongo, and two of Mr. Tippet's women who had been put "in
log"--Anglicè, in the stocks. They were wanted as hostages during
the coming war, and this rude contrivance was adopted to insure
their presence.

Chastity is still known amongst the Fán. The marriage tie has
some significance, the women will not go astray except with the
husband's leave, which is not often granted. The men wax wroth if
their mothers be abused. It is an insult to call one of them a
liar or a coward; the coast-tribes would merely smile at the soft
impeachment; and assure you that none but fools--yourself
included by implication--are anything else. Their bravery is the
bravery of the savage, whose first object in battle is to
preserve his only good, his life: to the civilized man,
therefore, they appear but moderately courageous. They are fond
of intoxication, but are not yet broken to ardent spirits: I have
seen a single glass of trade rum cause a man to roll upon the
ground and convulsively bite the yellow clay like one in the
agonies of the death-thirst. They would do wisely to decline
intercourse with Europeans; but this, of course, is impossible--
there is a manifest destiny for them as for their predecessors.
The vile practice of the white or West Coast is to supply savages
with alcohol, arms, and ammunition; to live upon the lives of
those they serve. The more honourable Moslems of the eastern
shores do not disgrace themselves by such greed of gain.

The Fán are cunning workers in iron, which is their wealth. Their
money is composed of Ikíá, dwarf bars shaped like horse-fleams, a
coinage familiar to old travellers in West Africa, and of this
Spartan currency a bundle of ten represents sixpence. "White
man's Ikíá" would be silver, for which the more advanced Mpongwe
have corrupted the English to "solove." An idea exists on the
Lower River that our hardware is broken up for the purpose of
being made into spear-heads and other weapons. Such is not
generally the case. The Wamasai, the Somal and the Cape Kafirs--
indeed, all the metal-working African barbarians--call our best
Sheffield blades "rotten iron." They despise a material that
chips and snaps, and they prefer with ample cause their native
produce, charcoal-smelted, and tempered by many successive
heatings and hammerings, without quenching in water. Nor will
they readily part with it when worked. The usual trade medium is
a metal rod; two of these are worth a franc if of brass, while
three of copper represent two francs. There is a great demand for
beads and salt, the latter especially throughout the interior.

Thus ended my "first impressions" amongst the Fán cannibals.

Chapter X.

To the Mbíka (Hill) ; the Sources of the Gaboon.----return to the

Not yet despairing of a shot at or of capturing a "poor
relation," I persuaded Mr. Tippet to assemble the lieges and
offer them double what was proposed at Mbátá. No one, however,
appeared sanguine of success, the anthropoid keeps his distance
from the Fán. A trip to the interior was suggested, first up the
Mbokwe, and finally arranged for the Londo River. Information
about the country was, as usual, vague; one man made the stream
head two days off, the other a few hours, and Mr. Tippet's mind
fluctuated between fifty and one hundred miles.

The party was easily assembled, and we set out at 7 A.M. on April
14th. I and Selim had the dignity of a "dingy" to ourselves: Mr.
Tippet out of a little harem of twenty-five had chosen two wives
and sundry Abigails, his canoe, laden with some fifteen souls,
was nearly flush with the water. The beauties were somewhat
surly, they complained, like the sluggard, of too early waking
and swore that they would do nothing in the way of work, industry
being essentially servile Anne Coombe (Ankombe, daughter of Qua
ben), was a short, stout, good humoured lass, "'Lizer" (Eliza), I
regret to say, would not make the least exertion, and, when
called, always turned her back.

After dropping three miles down the Mbokwe River, we entered the
Londo influent: some three miles further on it fines down from a
width of eighty feet to a mere ditch, barred with trees, which
stop navigation. We landed on the left bank and walked into the
palaver-house of Fakanjok or Pakanjok, the village of a Fán head
man, called by Mr. Tippet "John Matoko." It was old, dirty and
tattered, showing signs of approaching removal. Out of the crowd
of men and women who nearly sat upon us, I had no difficulty in
hiring eight porters, thereby increasing our party to twenty-five
souls. These people carry on the shoulder, not as Africans always
should do, on the head: they even cross the fallen trunks which
act as rickety bridges, with one side of the body thus heavier
than the other.

The bush-path began by wheeling westward, as though we were
returning to Anenge-nenge; thence it struck south-eastwards, a
rhumb from which it rarely deviated. Though we were approaching
the sub-ranges of the Sierra del Crystal, the country was very
like that about Mbátá; streamlets flowing to the Mbokwe, wet
yellow soil forming slippery muds, unhealthy as unpleasant in the
morning sunshine; old and new clearings and plantations, mostly
of bananas, mere spots in the wide expanse of bush, and deserted
or half-inhabited villages. Shortly after noon we came to a
battle-field, where the heroes of Tippet-town had chanced to fall
in with their foes of Autá, a settlement distant eight or nine
miles. Both armies at once "tree'd" themselves behind trunks, and
worked at long bowls, the "bushmen," having only one gun and two
charges, lost four of their men, and the victors, who had no time
to carry off the slain, contented themselves with an arm or two
by way of gigot.

Probably the memory of this affair, which is still to be settled,
unfavourably impressed my escort. After a total of some two hours
(six miles) we arrived at a large "Oláko" or breakwind, a half-
face of leafy branches, and all insisted upon a long rest. I
objected, and then "palaver came up." We were at last frankly
told that the villages ahead were hostile, that we could not
proceed further in this direction, and that the people of
Fakanjok had thought my only object was to sight from afar a
golden prairie and a blue range beyond. The latter is known to
the French as "Tem," from a hillock crowned with a huge red-
trunked tree of that name.

Opposition was useless, so we turned back some twenty minutes to
a junction, and took the south-eastern instead of the eastern
line. Here the country was higher and drier, more hilly and
gravelly, the aneroid showing some 900 feet (29.11); it would be
exceptionally healthy in any but the rainy season. Before the
afternoon had well set in, a camping ground had been chosen in
the tall, thin forest, near the confluence of two dwarf streams,
whose vitreous waters, flowing over fine sand and quartz pebbles,
were no small recommendation. As the cooking proceeded, frowning
brows relaxed, and huge fires put to flight ill temper and the
sandfly. I had proposed lashing my hammock to one of the tree-
stumps, which are here some ten feet tall, the people, who swing
themselves for the purpose of felling, declare the upper wood to
be softer than below. "Public opinion," however, overruled me,
and made it fast to two old trunks. The night was a succession of
violent tornadoes, and during one of the most outrageous the
upper half of a "triste lignum," falling alongside of and grazing
my hammock, awoke me with its crash.

Next morning, when the rain had somewhat abated, I set out, by a
path whose makers were probably the ape and the squirrel-hunter,
in the direction of a rise, which the people called Mbika --The
hill. After a total of some two miles and a half, we found a
clearing upon the summit, but, although I climbed up a tree, the
bush was dense enough to conceal most of the surroundings.
According to the Fán, the Nkomo rises on the seaward or western
face of this Mbíká, whilst the Mbokwe, springing from its eastern
counterslope, runs south-west of the Massif and joins the former.
The one-tree hill known as "Tem" appeared a little to the north
of west: to the north-east we could see a river-fork, but none
knew its name.

Our return was enlivened by the inspection of an elephant-kraal,
where a herd had been trapped, drugged, and shot during the last
season. As the walls were very flimsy, I asked why the animals
did not break loose; the answer was that the Ngán (Mganga or
Fetishman) ran a line of poison vine along its crest, and that
the beasts, however wild, would not attempt to pass through it.
The natives showed me the liana which they described, still lying
on the poles of the broken corral. Mr. Preston, of the Gaboon
Mission, who first noticed it, and Mr. Wilson, who gives an
illustration of the scene (p. 363), declares that the creeper is
drawn around the herd when browsing; that as long as the animals
are unmolested they will not dash through the magic circle, and
that the fence of uprights is constructed outside it. The same
tale is told of all the wild elephant-hunters in the interior,
the Báti the Okáná, the Yefá, and the Sensobá.

Arrived at Tippet-town, I gave my "dashes," chiefly brass and
copper rods, bade an affectionate farewell, and then dropped down
stream without further ceremony. I had been disappointed a second
time in re gorilla, and nothing now remained but a retreat, which
time rendered necessary. The down-stream voyage was an easy
matter, and it need hardly be said far less unpleasant than the
painful toil up. From the Sanjika village on the Gaboon, the
"Tem" hill was seen bearing due east (Mag.) and the Mbíká 92°.
Behind them were glimpses of blue highland, rising in lumpy and
detached masses to the east; these are evidently sub-ranges of
the western Ghats, the Sierra del Crystal, which native
travellers described to me as a serrated broken line of rocky and
barren acicular mountains; tall, gravelly, waterless, and lying
about three days' journey beyond the screen of wooded hill. It is
probably sheltered to some extent from the damp sea-breeze, and
thus to the east there would be a "lee-land," dry, healthy and
elevated, which, corresponding with Ugogo on the Zanzibar-
Tanganyika line, would account for the light complexions of the
people. Early on the morning of Thursday, April 17th, the "Eliza"
was lying off Mr. R. B. N. Walker's factory, and I was again
received with customary hospitality by Mr. Hogg.

These two short trips gave me a just measure of the comparative
difficulties in travelling through Eastern and Western Africa,
and to a certain extent accounted for the huge vacuum which
disfigures the latter, a few miles behind the seaboard. The road
to Unyamwezi, for instance, has been trodden for centuries; the
people have become trained porters; they look forward annually to
visiting the coast, and they are accustomed to the sight of
strangers, Arabs and others. If war or blood-feud chance to close
one line, the general interests of the interior open another. But
in this section of Africa there is no way except from village to
village, and a blood-feud may shut it for months. The people have
not the habit of dealing with the foreigner, whom they look upon
as a portent, a walking ghost, an ill-omened apparition.
Porterage is in embryo, no scale of payment exists; and no dread
of cutting off a communication profitable to both importer and
exporter prevents the greedy barbarian plundering the stranger.
Captain Speke and I were fortunate in being the first whites who
seriously attempted the Lake Region; our only obstacles were the
European merchants at Zanzibar; the murder of M. Maizan, although
a bad example to the people, had been so punished as to render an
immediate repetition of the outrage improbable. I say immediate,
for, shortly after our return, the unfortunate Herr Roscher was
killed at the Hisonguni village, near the Rufuma River, without
apparent reason. [FN#22]

But M. du Chaillu had a very different task, and as far as he
went he did it well. His second expedition, in which an
accidental death raised the country against him, was fortunately
undertaken by a man in the prime of youth and strength; otherwise
he must have succumbed to a nine hours' run, wounded withal. In
East Africa when one of Lieutenant Cameron's "pagazis" happened
to kill a native, the white man was mulcted only in half his

On the other hand, I see no reason why these untrodden lines
should be pronounced impossible, as a writer in the "Pall Mall"
has lately done, deterring the explorer from work which every day
would cover new ground. The Gaboon is by no means a bad point de
départ, whence the resolute traveller, with perseverance (Anglicè
time), a knowledge of the coast language, and good luck might
penetrate into the heart (proper) of Africa, and abolish the
white blot which still affronts us. His main difficulty would be
the heavy outlay; "impecuniosity" to him would represent the
scurvy and potted cat of the old Arctic voyager. But if he can
afford to travel regardless of delays and expense, and to place
depots of cloth, beads, and other "country-money" at every
hundred miles, Mpongwe-land would be one of the gateways to the
unknown regions of the Dark Continent. Moreover, every year we
hear some new account of travellers coming from the East.
Unfortunately men with £5,000 to £20,000 a year do not "plant the
lance in Africa," the old heroic days of the Spanish and
Portuguese exploring hidalgos have yet to dawn anew. We must now
look forward to subsidies from economical governments, and whilst
the Germans and Italians, especially the former, are so liberally
supported and adequately rewarded, Englishmen, as in the case of
the gallant Lieutenant Cameron, run the risk of being repudiated,
left penniless in the depths of Negro-land.

Chapter XI.

Mr., Mrs., and Master Gorilla.

The reader will kindly bear in mind, when perusing my notes upon
the gorilla, that, as in the the case of the Fán cannibalism
described by the young French traveller, my knowledge of the
anthropoid is confined to the maritime region; moreover, that it
is hearsay, fate having prevented my nearer acquaintance with the
"ape of contention."

The discovery must be assigned to Admiral Hanno of Carthage, who,
about B. C. 500, first in the historical period slew the
Troglodytes, and carried home their spoils.

The next traveller who described the great Troglodytes of
equatorial Africa was the well-known Andrew Battel, of Leigh,
Essex (1589 to 1600); and his description deserves quoting. "Here
(Mayombo) are two kinds of monsters common to these woods. The
largest of them is called Pongo in their language, and the other
Engeco "(in the older editions "Encêgo" evidently Nchigo, whilst
Engeco may have given rise to our "Jocko"). "The Pongo is in all
his proportions like a man, except the legs, which have no
calves, but are of a gigantic size. Their faces, hands, and ears
are without hair; their bodies are covered, but not very thick,
with hair of a dunnish colour. When they walk on the ground it is
upright, with their hands on the nape of the neck. They sleep in
trees, and make a covering over their heads to shelter them from
the rain. They eat no flesh, but feed on nuts and other fruits;
they cannot speak, nor have they any understanding beyond

"When the people of the country travel through the woods, they
make fires in the night, and in the morning, when they are gone,
the Pongos will come and sit round it till it goes out, for they
do not possess sagacity enough to lay more wood on. They go in
bodies, and kill many negroes who travel in the woods. When
elephants happen to come and feed where they are, they will fall
on them, and so beat them with their clubbed fists (sticks?) that
they are forced to run away roaring. The grown Pongos are never
taken alive, owing to their strength, which is so great that ten
men cannot hold one of them. The young Pongos hang upon their
mother's belly, with their hands clasped about her. Many of the
young ones are taken by means of shooting the mothers with
poisoned arrows, and the young ones, hanging to their mothers,
are easily taken."

I have italicized the passages which show that the traditions
still preserved on the coast, about the Pongo and the Chimpanzee,
date from old. Surely M. du Chaillu does grave injustice to this
good old Briton, who was not a literary man, by declaring his
stories to be mere travellers' tales, "untrue of any of the great
apes of Africa." Battel had evidently not seen the animal, and
with his negro informants he confounds the gorilla and the
"bushman;" yet he possibly alludes to a species which has escaped
M. du Chaillu and other modern observers.

Mr. W. Winwood Reade ("Savage Africa," chap, xix.) has done good
service by reprinting the letter of a Bristol trader on the west
coast of Africa, first published by Lord Monboddo ("Origin and
Progress of Language," vol. i. p. 281, 1774 to 1792). Here we
find distinct mention of three anthropoid apes. The first is the
"Impungu" (or pongo?), which walks upright, and is from seven to
nine feet high. The second is the "Itsena," evidently the Njína,
Njí, Nguyla, or gorilla; and thirdly is the "Chimpenza," our
Chimpanzee, a word corrupted from the Congoese Kampenzy,
including the Nchígo, the Kulu-Kamba, and other Troglodytes. I
have heard of this upright-walking Mpongo at Loango and other
places on the west coast of Africa, where the Njína is familiarly
spoken of, and it is not, methinks, impossible, that an ape even
larger than the gorilla may yet be found.

James Barbot ("A Voyage to Congo River," Churchill, vol. v. p.
512,) tells us in 1700 that the "kingdom of Angola, or Dongo,
produces many such extraordinary apes in the woods; they are
called by the blacks Quojas morrow, and by the Indians Orang-
outang, that is satyrs, or woodmen. . . . This creature seems to
be the very satyr of the ancients, written of by Pliny and
others, and is said to set upon women in the woods, and sometimes
upon armed men." Amongst these animals he evidently includes the
chimpanzee, as may be seen by his reference to the Royal
Exchange, London.

In 1776 the philosophical Abbé Proyart, in his excellent "History
of Loango," tells us (vide the chapter upon animals) that "there
are in the forests baboons four feet high; the negroes affirm
that, when they are hard pushed, they come down from the trees
with sticks in their hands to defend themselves against those who
are hunting them, and that very often they chase their pursuers.
The missionaries never witnessed this singularity." According to
the people, gorillas five or six feet tall have been seen as
lately as 1840 at "Looboo Wood," a well-known spot which we shall
presently sight, about three miles inland from the centre of
Loango Bay.

And now the long intervals between travellers' accounts wax
shorter. The well-known writer, Bowdich, before quoted,
published, in 1819, his hearsay description of the "Ingena,"
garnished with the usual native tales. I had the honour of
receiving an account of his discovery from his widow, the late
Mrs. Lee, who was held the "mother of African travellers," and
whose energy and intelligence endured to the last,--if memory
serves me, she referred to some paper upon the subject, written
by herself about 1825. Towards the end of 1846, the Rev. Mr.
Wilson, founder of the Gaboon Mission, and proto-grammarian of
its language, obtained two skulls, which were followed by
skeletons, fragmentary and perfect. He sent No. 1, measuring,
when alive, 5 ½ feet in height, and 4 feet across the shoulders,
to the "Natural History Society" of Boston. He evidently has a
right to boast that he was "the first to call the attention of
naturalists to the 'Njena.'" His colleague, Dr. Thomas Savage,
and Professor Jeffries Wyman called the new animal by the old
name of gorilla, suffixing it to the "Troglodytes" which Geoffrey
de Saint-Hilaire, reviving Linnaeus, had proposed in 1812. In
1847, Dr. Savage published in the "Journal of Natural History"
(Boston) the result of his careful inquiries about the "Engé-ena"
and the "Enche-eko." In 1852, this information was supplemented
by Dr. Ford, also of the Gaboon Mission, with a "Paper on the
Gorilla," published in the "Transactions of the Philadelphian
Academy of Sciences."

M. du Chaillu first had the honour of slaying the gorilla in its
native wilds. I saw his trophies in the United States in 1859;
and the sensation which they subsequently created in London
(1861-1862) is too recent to require notice. Unfortunately the
specimens were mutilated and imperfect. Mr. R. B. N. Walker,
agent of Messrs. Hatton and Cookson at the Gaboon River, was the
first to send home a young specimen bodily, stowed away in
spirits; two boiled skeletons of large grey animals, whose skins
I saw at the factory, and rum-preserved brains, intestines, and
other interesting parts, which had vainly been desired by
naturalists. Mr. W. Winwood Reade spent five active months in the
Gorilla country in 1862: Major Levison also visited the river,
but their hunting was as unsuccessful as mine; whilst, in 1863,
Major (now Colonel) De Ruvignes is reported to have been more
fortunate. Since that time gorillas have been killed by the
French chasseur.

The young Troglodyte has often been captured. The usual mode is
to fell the tree, and during the confusion to throw a cloth over
its head; the hands are then pinioned behind, and a forked stick
is fastened under the chin to prevent the child biting. I should
prefer, for trapping old as well as young, the way in which bears
are caught by the North American backwoodsman,--a hollowed log,
with some fruit, plantains for instance, floating in a quant.
suff. of sugar, well sugared and narcotized.

Concerning the temper of these little captives, there are heroic
differences of opinion. Mr. Ford records the "implacable
desperation" of a juvenile which was brought to the Mission. It
was taken very young, and kept four months, and many means were
used to tame it; but it was so incorrigible, that it bit me an
hour before it died." Yet, in face of this and other evidence,
Mr. W. Winwood Reade, writing to the "Athenaeum" (September 7,
1862), asserts that "the young gorilla in captivity is not
savage." "Joe Gorilla," M. du Chaillu's brat, was notoriously
fierce and unmanageable. The Rev. Mr. Walker, of Baraka, had a
specimen, which he describes as a very tractable pupil; and my
excellent friend Major Noeliy White, better known as "Governor
White," of Corisco Island, brought to Fernando Po a baby Njina,
which in its ways and manners much resembled an old woman. Mr. R.
B. N. Walker became the happy godfather of two youngsters, who
were different in disposition as Valentine and Orson. One, which
measured 18 inches high, and died in 1861, was so savage and
morose, that it was always kept chained; the other, "Seraphino,"
was of angelic nature, a general favourite at the Factory: it
survives, in a photograph taken by the French Commandant of the
Comptoir, as it sat after breakfast on godpapa's lap. At first it
was confined, but it soon became so tame and playful, that the
cage was required only at night. It never bit, unless when
teased, and its only fault was not being able to avoid the
temptation of eating what disagreed with it--in fact, it was sub-
human in some points, and very human in others. All died in
direct consequence of dysentery, which even a milk diet could not
prevent. Perhaps the best way to send home so delicate an animal
would be to keep it for a time in its native forest; to accustom
it to boiled plantains, rice, and messes of grain; and to ship it
during the fine season, having previously fitted up a cabin near
the engine-room, where the mercury should never fall below 70
°(Fahr.). In order to escape nostalgia and melancholy, which are
sure to be fatal, the emigrant should be valeted by a faithful
and attached native.

The habitat of the gorilla has been unduly limited to the left
banks of the Gaboon and Fernao Vaz rivers, and to the lands lying
between north latitude 2°, and south latitude 2°,--in fact, to
the immediate vicinity of the equator. The late Count Lavradio
informed me that he had heard of it on the banks of the lower
Congo River (south latitude 9°), and the "Soko," which Dr.
Livingstone identifies with the Gorilla, extends to the Lualaba
or Upper Congo, in the regions immediately west of the Tanganyika
Lake. His friends have suggested that the "Soko" might have been
a chimpanzee, but the old traveller was, methinks, far above
making the mistake. The Yorubans at once recognize the picture;
they call the anthropoid "Nákí;" and they declare that, when it
seizes a man, it tears the fingers asunder. So M. du Chaillu
(chapter vi.) mentions, in the Mpongwe report, that the Njina
tears off the toe-nails and the finger-nails of his human
captives. We should not believe so scandalous an assertion
without detailed proof; it is hardly fair to make the innocent
biped as needlessly cruel as man. It is well known to the natives
of the Old Calabar River by the name of "Onion." In 1860, the
brothers Jules and Ambroise Poncet travelled with Dr. Peney to Ab
Kúka, the last of their stations near the head of the Luta Nzige
(Albert Nyanza) Lake, and Dr. Peney "brought back the hand of the
first gorilla which had been heard of" ("Ocean Highways," p. 482-
-February, 1874). The German Expedition (1873) reports Chicambo
to be a gorilla country; that the anthropoid is found one day's
journey from the Coast, and that the agent of that station has
killed five with his own hand. Mr. Thompson of Sherbro ("Palm
Land," chap, xiii.) says of the chimpanzee: "Some have been seen
as tall as a man, from five to seven feet high, and very
powerful." This is evidently the Njína, the only known anthropoid
that attains tall human stature; and from the rest of the
passage,[FN#23] it is clear that he has confounded the chimpanzee
with the Nchigo-mpolo.

The strip of gorilla-country visited by me was an elevated line
of clayey and sandy soil, cut by sweet-water streams, and by
mangrove-lined swamps, backed inland by thin forest. Here the
comparative absence of matted undergrowth makes the landscape
sub-European, at least, by the side of the foul tropical jungle;
it is exceptionally rich in the wild fruits required by the huge
anthropoid. The clearings also supply bananas, pine-apple leaves,
and sugar-cane, and there is an abundance of honey, in which,
like the Nchígo, the gorilla delights. The villages and the
frequent plantations which it visits to plunder limit its
reproduction near the sea, and make it exceedingly wary and keen
of eye, if not of smell. Even when roosting by night, it is
readily frightened by a footstep; and the crash caused by the
mighty bound from branch to branch makes the traveller think that
a tree has fallen.

The gorilla breeds about December, a cool and dry month:
according to my bushmen, the period of gestation is between five
and six months. The babe begins to walk some ten days after
birth; "chops milk" for three months and, at the end of that time
may reach eighteen inches in height. M. du Chaillu makes his
child, "Joe Gorilla," 2 feet 6 inches when under the third year:
assuming the average height of the adult male at 5 feet to 5 feet
6 inches, this measurement suggests that, according to the law of
Flourens, the life would exceed thirty years. I saw two
fragmentary skins, thoroughly "pepper and salt;" and the natives
assured me that the gorilla turns silver-white with age.

It is still a disputed point whether the weight is supported by
the knuckles of the forehand, like the chimpanzee, or whether the
palm is the proper fulcrum. M. du Chaillu says ("First
Expedition," chap, xx.), "the fingers are only lightly marked on
the ground;" yet a few pages afterwards we are told, "The most
usual mode of progression of the animal is on all-fours and
resting on the knuckles." In the "Second Expedition" (chap, ii.)
we read, "The tracks of the feet never showed the marks of toes,
only the heels, and the track of the hands showed simply the
impressions of the knuckles."

The attack of the gorilla is that of the apes and the monkeys
generally. The big-bellied satyr advances to the assault as it
travels, shuffling on all-fours; "rocking" not traversing;
bristling the crest, chattering, mowing and displaying the
fearful teeth and tusks. Like all the Simiads, this Troglodyte
sways the body to and fro, and springs from side to side for the
purpose of avoiding the weapon. At times Quasimodo raises himself
slightly upon the dwarfed "asthenogenic," and almost deformed
hind limbs, which look those of a child terminating the body of a
Dan Lambert: the same action may be seen in its congeners great
and small. The wild huntsmen almost cried with laughter when they
saw the sketches in the "Gorilla Book,"[FN#24] the mighty
pugilist standing stiff and upright as the late Mr. Benjamin
Caunt, "beating the breast with huge fists till it sounded like
an immense bass drum;" and preparing to deal a buffet worthy of
Friar Tuck. They asked me if I thought mortal man would ever
attempt to face such a thing as that? With respect to drumming
with both forehands upon the chest, some asserted that such is
the brute's practice when calling Mrs. Gorilla, or during the
excitement of a scuffle; but the accounts of the bushmen differ
greatly on this point. In a hand-to-hand struggle it puts forth
one of the giant feet, sometimes the hinder, as "Joe Gorilla" was
wont to do; and, having once got a hold with its prehensile toes,
it bites and worries like any other ape, baboon, or monkey. From
this grapple doubtless arose the old native legend about the
gorilla drawing travellers up trees and "quietly choking them."
It can have little vitality, as it is easily killed with a bit of
stone propelled out of a trade musket by the vilest gunpowder,
and the timid bushmen, when failing to shoot it unawares, do not
fear to attack it openly. As a rule, the larger the Simiad, the
less sprightly it becomes; and those most approaching man are
usually the tamest and the most melancholy--perhaps, their
spirits are permanently affected by their narrow escape. The
elderly male (for anthropoids, like anthropoi, wax fierce and
surly with increasing years) will fight, but only from fear, when
suddenly startled, or with rage when slightly wounded. Moreover,
there must be rogue-gorillas, like rogue-elephants, lions,
hippopotami, rhinoceros, and even stags, vieux grognards, who,
expelled house and home, and debarred by the promising young
scions from the softening influence of feminine society, become,
in their enforced widowerhood, the crustiest of old bachelors. At
certain seasons they may charge in defence of the wife and
family, but the practice is exceptional. Mr. Wilson saw a man who
had lost the calf of his leg in an encounter, and one Etia, a
huntsman whose left hand had been severely crippled, informed Mr.
W. Winwood Reade, that "the gorilla seized his wrist with his
hind foot, and dragged his hand into his mouth, as he would have
done a bunch of plantains." No one, however, could give me an
authentic instance of manslaughter by our big brother.

The modifications with which we must read the picturesque pages
of the "Gorilla Book" are chiefly the following. The Gorilla is a
poor devil ape, not a "hellish dream-creature, half man, half
beast." He is not king of the African forest; he fears the Njego
or leopard and, as lions will not live in these wet, wooded, and
gameless lands, he can hardly have expelled King Leo. He does not
choose the "darkest, gloomiest forests," but prefers the thin
woods, where he finds wild fruits for himself and family. His
tremendous roar does not shake the jungle: it is a hollow apish
cry, a loudish huhh! huhh! huhh! explosive like the puff of a
steam-engine, which, in rage becomes a sharp and snappish bark --
any hunter can imitate it. Doubtless, in some exceptional cases,
when an aged mixture of Lablache and Dan Lambert delivers his
voce di petto, the voice may be heard for some distance in the
still African shades, but it will hardly compare with the howling
monkeys of the Brazil, which make the forest hideous. The eye is
not a "light grey" but the brown common to all the tribe. The
Gorilla cannot stand straight upon his rear quarter when
attacking or otherwise engaged without holding on to a trunk: he
does not "run on his hind legs;" he is essentially a tree ape, as
every stuffed specimen will prove. He never gives a tremendous
blow with his immense open paw; doubtless, a native legend found
in Battel and Bowdich; nor does he attack with the arms. However
old and male he may be, he runs away with peculiar alacrity:
though powerfully weaponed with tigerish teeth, with "bunches of
muscular fibre," and with the limbs of Goliah, the gorilla, on
the seaboard at least, is essentially a coward; nor can we be
surprised at his want of pluck, considering the troubles and
circumstances under which he spends his harassed days. Finally,
whilst a hen will defend her chicks, Mrs. Gorilla will fly,
leaving son or daughter in the hunter's hands.

Chapter XII.

Corisco--"Home" to Fernando Po.

On April 22nd, after some five weeks in the Gaboon River, I found
myself once more in her Majesty's steam-ship "Griffon," which had
returned from the south coast, bound for Corisco (Gorilla
Island?) and Fernando Po. It was "going-away day," when
proverbially the world looks prettier than usual, and we enjoyed
the suggestive view of the beaded line which, seen from the sea,
represents the Sierra del Crystal. The distance from Le Plateau
to the Isle of Lightning was only thirty-five miles, from the
nearest continent ten, and before the evening tornado broke from
the south-east, here the normal direction, we were lying in the
roads about two miles from the landing-place. The anchorage is
known by bringing Mbánya (Little Corisco), the smaller and
southern outlier in a line between Laval Islet and the main

The frequent coruscations gave a name to Corisco, which the
natives know as Mange: it was called, says Barbot, "'Ilha do
Corisco,' from the Portuguese, because of the violent horrid
lightnings, and claps of thunder, the first discoverers there saw
and heard there at the time of their discovery." There is still
something to be done in investigating the cause of these
electrical discharges. Why should lofty Fernando Po and low-lying
Corisco suffer so much, when Zanzibar Island, similarly situated,
suffers so rarely? Again, why is Damascus generally free from
thunder-storms when Brazilian Sâo Paul, whose site is of the same
altitude and otherwise so like, can hardly keep the lightning out
of doors? The immunity of Zanzibar Island can hardly be explained
by the popular theory; neither it nor Fernando Po, which suffers
greatly from thunder-storms, lies near the embouchure of a great
river, where salt and fresh water may disturb electrical
equilibrium. I shall say more upon this point when in the Congo
Regions (chap. xii.).

The position of Great Corisco (north latitude 0° 55' 0") is at
the mouth of a well-wooded bay, which Barbot (iv. 9) calls Bay of
Angra, i.e. Bight of Bight. He terms the southern or Munda stream
Rio de Angrta, or Angex, whilst the equally important Muni
(Danger) becomes only "a little river" without name. The modern
charts prefer Corisco Bay. It measures some forty miles from
north to south by half that depth, and its position causes the
rains, which are synchronous with those of the Gaboon, to be much
more copious and continuous. They last nine months out of twelve,
and in March, 1862, the fall was 25 inches, the heaviest
remembered it had filled the little island valleys, and made the
paths lines of canal.

Next morning we were visited by the Rev. Mr. Mackey, the senior
of the eight white men who inhabit this piece of land--a proper
site for Robinson Crusoe--where, as the Yankee said of Great
Britain, you can hardly stretch yourself without fear of falling
overboard. He kindly undertook to be our guide over the interior,
and we landed on the hard sand of the open western beach: here at
times a tremendous surf must roll in. We struck into the bush,
and bent towards the south-west of the islet, where stands the
monarch of cliffs, 80 feet high. The maximum length is three
miles by about the same breadth, and the circumference, including
the indentations, may be fifteen. The surface is rolling composed
of humus and clay, corallines and shelly conglomerates based on
tertiary limestone and perhaps sandstone; dwarf clearings
alternate with tracts of bush grass, and with a bushy second
growth, lacking large trees. The only important wild productions
pointed out to us were cardamoms, the oil palm (Elais
Guincensis), and an unknown species of butter-nut. The centre of
the island was a mass of perennial pools, fed, they say, by
springs as well as rains, one puddle, adorned with water lilies
and full of dwarf leeches which relish man's life, extended about
a hundred yards long. In fact, the general semblance of Corisco
was that of a filled up "atoll," a circular reef still growing to
a habitable land. Here only could I find on the west coast of
Africa a trace of the features which distinguished the Gorilla
island of 2,300 years ago.

At South Bay we came upon a grassy clearing larger than usual,
near a bright stream; its pottery and charred wood showed the
site of the Spanish barracoon destroyed by the British in 1840.
During the last seven years the "patriarchal institution" has
become extinct, and the old slavers who have at times touched at
the island, have left it empty-handed. Corisco had long been
celebrated for cam-wood, a hard and ponderous growth, yielding a
better red than Brazil or Braziletto, alias Brazilete
(Brasilettia, De Cand.) one of the Eucæsalpinieæ, a congener of
C. Echinata, which produces the Brazil-wood or Pernambuco-wood of
commerce. In 1679, the Hollander Governor-General of Minas sent
some forty whites to cultivate "Indian wheat and other sort of
corn and plants of Guinea." The design was to supply the Dutch
West Indian Company's ships with grain and vegetables, especially
bananas, which grow admirably; I heard that there are fifteen
varieties upon this dot of dry land. Thus the crews would not
waste time and money at Cape Lopez and the Portuguese islands.
The Dutch colonists began by setting up a factory in a turf
redoubt, armed with iron guns, "the better to secure themselves
from any surprise or assault of the few natives, who are a sort
of wild and mischievous blacks." The plantation was successful,
but the bad climate and noxious gases from the newly turned
ground, combined with over-exertion, soon killed some seventeen
out of the forty; and the remainder, who also suffered from
malignant distempers, razed their buildings and returned to the
Gold Coast. When the Crown of Spain once more took possession of
Fernando Po, it appointed a Governor for Corisco, but no
establishment was maintained there. To its credit be it said,
there was not much interference with the Protestant mission;
public preaching was forbidden pro formâ in 1860, but no notice

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