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which explains away all generosity and philanthropy on motives of selfish policy. But it is difficult to give unlimited faith to the ardent and disinterested desire professed by England, to put a period to the slave-trade. If sincere, why does she not, as she readily might, induce Spain, Portugal, and Brazil, to declare the traffic piratical? And again, why is not her own strength so directed as to give the trade a death-blow at once? There are but two places between Sierra Leone and Accra, a distance of one thousand miles, whence slaves are exported. One is Gallinas; the other New Sesters. The English keep a cruiser off each of these rivers. Slavers run in, take their cargoes of human flesh and blood, and push off. If the cruiser can capture the vessels, the captors receive L5 per head for the slaves on board, and the government has more “emigrants” for its West India possessions. Now, were the cruisers to anchor at the mouths of these two rivers, the slavers would be prevented from putting to sea with their cargoes, and the trade at those places be inevitably stopped. But, in this case, where would be the head-money and the emigrants?

It has been asserted that the colonists of Liberia favor the slave-trade. This is not true. The only places where the traffic is carried on, north of the line, are in the neighborhood of the most powerful English settlements on the whole coast; while even British authority does not pretend that the vicinity of the American colonies is polluted by it. Individuals among the colonists, unprincipled men, may, in a very few instances, from love of gain, have given assistance to slavers, by supplying goods or provisions at high prices. But this must have been done secretly, or the law would have taken hold of them. Slavers, no doubt, have often watered at Monrovia, but never when their character was known. On the other hand, the slave stations at St. Paul’s river, at Bassa, and at Junk, have undeniably been broken up by the presence of the colonists. Even if destitute of sympathy for fellow-men of their own race and hue, and regardless of their deep stake in the preservation of their character, the evident fact is, that self-interest would prompt the inhabitants of Liberia to oppose the slave-trade in their vicinity. Wherever the slaver comes, he purchases large quantities of rice at extravagant rates, thus curtailing the supply to the colonist, and enhancing the price. Moreover, the natives, always preferring the excitement of war to the labors of peace, neglect the culture of the earth, and have no camwood nor palm-oil to offer to the honest trader, who consequently finds neither buyers nor sellers among them.

The truth is, the slave-traders can dispense with assistance from the Liberian colonists. They procure goods, and everything necessary to their trade, at Sierra Leone, or from any English or American vessel on the coast. If the merchantmen find a good market for their cargoes, they are satisfied, whatever be the character of their customers. This is well understood and openly avowed here. The English have no right to taunt the Americans, nor to claim higher integrity on their own part. They lend precisely the same indirect aid to the traffic that the Americans do, and furnish everything except vessels, which likewise they would supply, if they could build them. It is the policy of the English ship-masters on the coast to represent the Americans as engaged in the slave-trade; for if, by such accusations, they can induce British or American men-of-war to detain and examine the fair trader, they thus rid themselves of troublesome rivals.

The natives are generally favorable to the slave-trade. It brings them many comforts and luxuries, which the legitimate trade does not supply. Their argument is, that “if a man goes into the Bush and buys camwood, he must pay another to bring it to the beach. But if he buy a slave, this latter commodity will not only walk, but bring a load of camwood on his back.” All slaves exported are Bushmen, many of whom are brought from two or three hundred miles in the interior. The Fishmen and Kroomen are the agents between the slave-traders and the interior tribes. They will not permit the latter to become acquainted with the white men, lest their own agency and its profits should cease. A slave, once sold, seldom returns to his home.

If transported to a foreign country, his case is of course hopeless; and even if recaptured on the coast, his return is almost impossible. His home, probably, is far distant from the sea. It can only be reached by traversing the territories of four or five nations, any one of whom would seize the hapless stranger, and either consign him to slavery among themselves, or send him again to a market on the coast. Hence, those recaptured by the English cruisers are either settled at Sierra Leone, or transported to some other of the colonies of Great Britain.

The price paid to the native agents for a full grown male slave, is about one musket, twelve pieces of romauls, one cutlass, a demijohn of rum, a bar of iron, a keg of powder, and ten bars of leaf-tobacco, the whole amounting to the value of thirty to thirty-five dollars. A female is sold for about a quarter less; and boys of twelve or thirteen command only a musket and two pieces of romauls. Slave-vessels go from Havana with nothing but dollars and doubloons. Other vessels go out with the above species of goods, and all others requisite for the trade. The slaver buys the goods on the coast, pays for them with specie, and lands them in payment for the slaves, money being but little used in traffic with the natives.

13.–The Decatur arrived this evening, after a passage of thirty days from Porto Praya. She left the Macedonian on the way, the winds being light, the current adverse, and the frigate sailing very badly.

17.–The Macedonian arrived.

Coming off from town, to-day, I took a canoe with a couple of Kroomen, who paddled down the river, till we arrived at a narrow part of the promontory. On touching the shallows, one of the Kroomen took me on his back to the dry land. The two then picked up the canoe, carried her across the cape, perhaps a hundred yards, and launched her, with myself on board, through the heavy surf.

21.–Sailed at daylight for Sinoe, leaving the Macedonian and Decatur, an American ship and barque, an English brig, and two Hamburg vessels, at anchor.

25.–Anchored at Sinoe at noon.

26.–Ashore. Visited Fishtown, a well-built native village, containing probably four hundred inhabitants. It is within about two hundred yards of the colonial dwellings. The people are said to have committed many depredations upon the colonists; and there is an evident intention of driving them off. This is the tribe with which we are to hold a palaver.

There are two grand divisions of native Africans on the Western Coast, the Fishmen and the Bushmen; the latter being inhabitants of the interior; and the former comprising all the tribes along the sea-shore, who gain a subsistence by fishing, trading between the Bushmen and foreign vessels, and laboring on shipboard. The Kroomen, so often mentioned, are in some respects a distinct and separate people; although a large proportion, probably nine-tenths of those bearing that name, are identical with the Fishmen. The latter are generally treacherous and deceitful; the Kroomen are much more honest, but still are not to be trusted without reserve and discrimination.

The government of these people, and of the natives generally, is nominally monarchical, but democratic in substance. The regal office appears to be hereditary in a family, but not to descend according to our ideas of lineal succession. The power of the king is greatly circumscribed by the privilege, which every individual in the tribe possesses, of calling a palaver. If a man deems himself injured, he demands a full discussion of his rights or wrongs, in presence of the rulers and the tribe. The head-men sit in judgment, and substantial justice is generally done. There are persons, celebrated for their power and copiousness of talking, who appear as counsel in behalf of the respective parties. The more distinguished of these advocates are sometimes sent for, from a distance of two or three hundred miles, to speak at a palaver; and, in such cases, they leave all other employment, and hurry to the scene of action.

It would appear that, on other parts of the coast, or farther in the interior, the native kings possess more power and assume greater state, than those who have come under my notice. The King of Appollonia, adjoining Axim Territory, is said to be very rich and powerful. If the report of his nearest civilized neighbor, the Governor of Axim, is to be credited, this potentate’s house is furnished most sumptuously in the European style. Gold cups, pitchers, and plates, are used at his table, with furniture of corresponding magnificence in all the departments of his household. He possesses vast treasures in bullion and gold dust. The Governor of Dixcove informed me, that, about four years ago, he accompanied an English expedition against Appollonia, which is still claimed by England, although their fort there has been abandoned. On their approach, the King fled, and left them masters of the place. Some of the English soldiers opened the sepulchre of the King last deceased, and took away an unknown amount of gold. Afterwards, by order of the Governor, the remainder was taken from the grave, amounting to several hundred dollars. Together with the treasure, numerous articles had been buried, such as a knife, plate, and cup, swords, guns, cloth, goods of various kinds, and, in short, every, thing that the dead King had required while alive. There were also four skeletons, two of each sex, buried beneath the royal coffin. It is said that sixty victims were sacrificed on occasion of the funeral, of whom only the most distinguished were allowed, even in death, to approach their master so nearly, and act as his immediate attendants in the world of spirits. The splendor of an African funeral, on the Gold Coast, is unparalleled. It is customary for persons of wealth to smear the corpses of their friends with oil, and then to powder them with gold-dust from head to foot, so as to produce the appearance of bronzed or golden statues.

The present King of Appollonia deposited six hundred ounces of gold (about ten thousand dollars) with the Governor of Cape Coast Castle, as security for his good behavior. His cellar is well supplied with rare wines, which he offers liberally to strangers who land at his residence. All these circumstances, and this barbaric magnificence, indicate a far different condition from that of the native Kings in the vicinity of Liberia, who live simply, like their subjects, on vegetables and fish, and one of whom was proud to array himself in a cast-off garment of my own. Their wealth consists not in gold, plate, or bullion, but in crockery and earthenware. Not only the Kings, but all the rich natives, accumulate articles of this kind, until their dwellings resemble warehouses of crockery. Perhaps fifty white wash-bowls, with as many pitchers, mugs, and plates, may be seen around the room; and when these utensils become so numerous as to excite the envy of the tribe, the owners are said to bury them in the earth. In the house of King Glass (so named, I presume, from the transparency of his character), I noticed the first indications of a taste for the Fine Arts. Seventy coarse colored engravings, glazed and framed, were suspended on the wall; and, what was most curious, nearly all of them were copies of the same print, a portrait of King William the Fourth.

It is to be desired that some missionary should give an account of the degree and kind of natural religion among the native tribes. Their belief in the efficacy of sassy-wood to discover guilt or innocence, indicates a faith in an invisible Equity. Some of them, however, select the most ridiculous of animals, the monkey, as their visible symbol of the Deity; or, as appears more probable, they stand in spiritual awe of him, from an idea that the souls of the dead are again embodied in this shape. Under this impression, they pay a kind of worship to the monkey, and never kill him near a burial-place; and though, in other situations, they kill and eat him, they endeavor to propitiate his favor by respectful language, and the use of charms. Other natives, in the neighborhood of Gaboon, worship the shark, and throw slaves to him to be devoured.

On the whole, their morality is superior to their religion–at least, as between members of the same tribe–although they scarcely seem to acknowledge moral obligations in respect to strangers. Their landmarks, for instance, are held sacred among the individuals of a tribe. A father takes his son, and points out the “stake and stones” which mark the boundary between him and his neighbor. There needs no other registry. Land passes from sire to son, and is sold and bought with as undisputed and secure a title as all our deeds and formalities can establish. But, between different tribes, wars frequently arise on disputed boundary questions, and in consequence of encroachments made by either party. “Land-palavers” and “Women-palavers” are the great causes of war. Veracity seems to be the virtue most indiscriminately practised, as well towards the stranger as the brother. The natives are cautious as to the accuracy of the stories which they promulgate, and seldom make a stronger asseveration than “I tink he be true!” Yet their consciences do not shrink from the use of falsehood and artifice, where these appear expedient.

The natives are not insensible to the advantages of education. They are fond of having their children in the families of colonists, where they learn English, and the manners of civilized life, and get plenty to eat. Probably the parents hope, in this way, to endow their offspring with some of the advantages which they suppose the white man to possess over the colored race. So sensible are they of their own inferiority, that if a person looks sternly in the face of a native, when about to be attacked by him, and calls out to him loudly, the chances are ten to one that the native runs away. This effect is analogous to that which the eye of man is said to exert on the fiercest of savage beasts. The same involuntary and sad acknowledgment of a lower order of being appears in their whole intercourse with the whites. Yet such self-abasement is scarcely just; for the slave-traders, who constitute the specimens of civilized man with whom the natives have hitherto been most familiar, are by no means on a par with themselves, in a moral point of view. It is a pity to see such awful homage rendered to the mere intellect, apart from truth and goodness.

It is a redeeming trait of the native character, so far as it goes, that women are not wholly without influence in the public councils. If, when a tribe is debating the expediency of going to war, the women come beneath the council-tree, and represent the evils that will result, their opinion will have great weight, and may probably turn the scale in favor of peace. On the other hand, if the women express a wish that they were men, in order that they might go to war, the warriors declare for it at once. It is to be feared, that there is an innate fierceness even in the gentler sex, which makes them as likely to give their voices for war as for peace. It is a feminine office and privilege, on the African coast, to torture prisoners taken in war, by sticking thorns in their flesh, and in various other modes, before they are put to death. The unfortunate Captain Farwell underwent three hours of torture, at the hands of the women and children. So, likewise, did the mate of Captain Burke’s vessel, at Sinoe.

The natives are very cruel in their fights, and spare neither age nor sex; they kill the women and female children, lest they should be the mothers of future warriors, and the boys, lest they should fight hereafter. If they take prisoners, it is either to torture them to death, or to sell them as slaves. The Fishmen have often evinced courage and obstinacy in war, as was the case in their assaults upon the Liberian settlers, in the heroic age of the colony, when Ashman and his associates displayed such warlike ability in defeating them. The Bushmen are as cruel as the former, but appear to be more cowardly. I have heard the Rev. Mr. Brown, himself an actor in the scene, relate the story of the fight at Heddington, in which three colonists, assisted by two women, were attacked at daybreak by five hundred natives, many of whom were armed with muskets. Zion Harris and Mr. Demery were the marksmen, while the clergyman assumed the duty of loading the guns. The natives rushed onward in so dense a crowd, that almost every bullet and buckshot of the defenders hit its man. The besieged had but six muskets, one hundred cartridges, and a few charges of powder. Their external fortifications consisted only of a slight picket-fence, which might have been thrown down in an instant. But, fortunately, when there were but three charges of powder left in the house, a shot killed Gotorap, the chief of the assailants, at whose fall the whole army fled in dismay. One of the trophies of their defeat was the kettle which they had brought for the purpose of cooking the missionaries, and holding a cannibal feast. The battle-field is poetically termed the bed of honor: but the bravest man might be excused for shrinking from a burial in his enemy’s stomach! Poetry can make nothing of such a fate.

Rude and wretched as is the condition of the natives, it has been affirmed that many of the Liberian colonists have mingled with them, and preferred their savage mode of life to the habits of civilisation. Only one instance of the kind has come to my personal knowledge. We had on board, for two or three months, a party of Kroomen, among whom was one, dressed like the rest, but speaking better English. Being questioned, he said that he had learned English on board of merchant-vessels, where he had been employed for several years. We took this young man into the ward-room, where he worked for three months, associating chiefly with the Kroomen on deck, speaking their language, and perfectly resembling them in his appearance and general habits. About the time of discharging him, we discovered that he was a native of North Carolina, had resided many years in Liberia, but, being idle and vicious, had finally given up the civilized for the savage state. His real name was Elijah Park; his assumed one, William Henry.


Palaver at Sinoe–Ejectment of a Horde of Fishmen–Palaver at Settra Kroo–Mrs. Sawyer–Objections to the Marriage of Missionaries–A Centipede–Arrival at Cape Palmas–Rescue of the Sassy Wood-Drinker Hostilities between the Natives and Colonists.

_November_ 27.–At Sinoe. The settlement here is in a poor condition. The inhabitants are apparently more ignorant and lazy than the colonists on any other part of the coast. Yet they have a beautiful and fertile situation.

28.–The Macedonian and Decatur arrived. Governor Roberts, and other persons of authority and distinction among the colonists, were passengers, in order to be present at the intended palaver.

29.–At 9 A.M., thirteen boats left the different ships, armed, and having about seventy-five marines on board, besides the sailors. Entering the river, with flags flying and muskets glittering, the boats lay on their oars until all were in a line, and then pulled at once for the beach, as if about to charge a hostile battery. The manoeuvre was handsomely executed, and seemed to give great satisfaction to some thirty colonists and fifty naked natives, who were assembled on the beach. The officers and marines were landed, and formed in line, under the direction of Lieutenant Rich. The music then struck up, while the Commodore and Governor Roberts slept ashore, and the whole detachment marched to the palaver-house, which, on this occasion, was the Methodist Church.

The Commodore seated himself behind a small table, which was covered with a napkin. The officers, with Governor Roberts and Doctor Day, occupied seats on his right, and the native chiefs, as they dropped in, found places on the left. If the latter fell short of us in outward pomp and martial array, they had certainly the advantage of rank, there being about twenty kings and headmen of the tribes among them. Governor Roberts opened the palaver in the Commodore’s name, informing the assembled chiefs, that he had come to talk to them about the slaughter of the mate and cook, belonging to Captain Burke’s vessel. Jim Davis, who conducted the palaver on the part of the natives, professed to know nothing of the matter, the chiefs present being Bushmen, whereas the party concerned were Fishmen. After a little exhibition of diplomacy, Davis retired, and Prince Tom came forward and submitted to an examination. His father is king of the tribe of Fishmen, implicated in the killing of the two men. The prince denied any personal knowledge on the subject, but observed that the deed had been done in war, and that the tribe were not responsible. When asked where Nippoo was (a chief known to have taken a leading part in the affray), he at first professed ignorance, but, on being hard pressed, offered to go and seek him. He was informed, however, that he could not be permitted to retire, but must produce Nippoo on the spot, or be taken to America.

The council went on. The depositions of three colonists were taken, and the facts in the case brought out. They were substantially in accordance with the narrative already given in this Journal; and, upon full investigation, Captain Burke was decided to have been the aggressor. The proceedings of the Fishmen had been fierce and savage, but were redeemed by a quality of wild justice, and exhibited them altogether in a better light than the white men.

This affair being adjusted, the business of the palaver might be considered at an end, so far as the American squadron had any immediate connection with it. But there were points of importance to be settled, between the natives and the colonists. It was the interest of the latter, that the Fishmen, residing in the neighborhood of the settlement, should be ejected from their land, which would certainly be a very desirable acquisition to the emigrants. It seems, that the land originally belonged to the Sinoe tribe, whose head-quarters are four miles inland. Several years ago, long before the arrival of the emigrants, this tribe gave permission to a horde of Fishmen to occupy the site, but apparently without relinquishing their own property in the soil. Feeble at first, the tenants wore a friendly demeanor towards their landlords, and made themselves useful, until, gradually acquiring strength, they became insolent, and assumed an attitude of independence. Setting the interior tribe, of whom they held the land, at defiance, these Fishmen put an interdict upon their trading with foreigners, except through their own agency. Eight or ten years ago, however, the inland natives sold the land to the Colonization Society, subject to the incumbrance of the Fishmen’s occupancy, during good behavior; a condition which the colonists likewise pledged themselves to the Fishmen to observe, unless the conduct of the latter should nullify it.

For the last two or three years, the settlement at Sinoe, being neglected by the Mississippi Society, under whose patronage it was established, has dwindled and grown weaker in numbers and spirit. The Fishmen, with their characteristic audacity, have assumed a bolder aspect, and, besides committing many depredations on the property of the colonists, have murdered two or three of their number. The murderers, it is true, were delivered up by the tribe, and punished at the discretion of the Monrovian authorities; but the colonists at Sinoe felt themselves too feeble to redress their lighter wrongs, and therefore refrained from demanding satisfaction. About a month since, an addition of sixty new emigrants was made to the seventy, already established there. Considering themselves now adequate to act on the offensive, they determined to drive off the Fishmen. In this purpose they were confirmed by the Monrovian government; and it was a part of the governor’s business, at the palaver, to provide for its execution.

Governor Roberts exhibited much sagacity and diplomatic shrewdness in accomplishing his object. It was obviously important to obtain the assistance of the Bushmen, in expelling and keeping away the Fishmen. They, however, were unwilling to take part in the matter, alleging their fears as an excuse; although it might probably be a stronger reason, that they could trade more advantageously with merchant-vessels, through the medium of the Fishmen, than by the agency of the colonists.

But the interposition of the American Commodore, and the affair of the murder, afforded the Governor the advantage of mixing up that question with the colonial one; so as to give the natives the impression that everything was done at the instance and under the authority of our armed force. This vantage-ground he skilfully made use of, yet not without its being perceived, by the native politicians, that the question of expelling the Fishmen was essentially distinct from that of the murder of Captain Burke’s seamen. Davis the interpreter, and one of the headmen of the Sinoe tribe, inquired why the Commodore did not first talk his palaver, and then the Governor in turn talk his. It did not suit his excellency’s views to answer; and the question was evaded. By this ingenious policy, the Bushmen were induced to promise their aid in ridding the settlement of its troublesome neighbors; while the Fishmen, overawed by the presence of a force friendly to the colonists, submitted to their expulsion with a quietude that could not, under other circumstances, have been expected. Doubtless, they had forfeited their claim to the land by non-observance of the conditions on which they held it; yet, in some points, the affair had remarkably the aspect of a forcible acquisition of territory by the colonists.

No time was lost in carrying the decree of the palaver into execution. Apprehending hostilities from the squadron, the Fishmen had already removed most of their property, as well as their women and children, and had evacuated the town. Governor Roberts, Mr. Brown, Doctor Day, late government agent, together with a few colonists, repaired to the place and directed its demolition. This was partially effected by the natives, of whom some hundreds from the interior were present. They cut down and unroofed many of the dwellings; and the Governor left directions to burn every house, if the Fishmen should attempt to re-occupy the town. This wild horde, therefore, may be considered as permanently ejected from the ground which they held on so singular a tenure; and thus terminated an affair which throws a strong light on many of the characteristics of the natives, and likewise on the relations between them and the emigrants.

_December_ 3.–We sailed, at two o’clock A.M., for Settra Kroo, fifteen miles down the coast. Anchored at eleven A.M. A boat being sent ashore, brought news of the death of Mr. Sawyer, the missionary. He left a wife, now the only white person at the place.

4.–The boats landed at Settra Kroo, to settle a palaver. The matter in question was the violence offered by the natives to Captain Brown, master of an American vessel, in striking and attempting to kill him. They admitted the fact, begged pardon, and agreed to pay ten bullocks, four sheep, and some fowls, or the value thereof, to Captain Brown, and further to permit him to trade without payment of the usual “dash.” This town is said to be very superior to any other native settlement on the coast; and the people are the best informed, most intelligent, and the finest in personal appearance, that we have met with.

Dined on shore. Mrs. Sawyer presided at the table, although her husband was buried only yesterday. It is impossible not to look with admiration at this lady, whose husband and only child have fallen victims to the climate, yet who believes it her duty to remain alone, upon a barbarous coast, in a position which perhaps no other woman ever voluntarily occupied. She is faithful to her trust, as the companion of him who fell at his post, and is doubtless happy in obedience to the unworldly motives that guide her determination. Yet I cannot reconcile myself to the idea of a woman sharing the martyrdom, which seems a proper, and not an undesirable fate (so it come in the line of his duty) for a man. I doubt the expediency of sending missionary ladies to perish here. Indeed, it may well be questioned whether a missionary ought, in any country, to be a married man. The care of a family must distract his attention and weaken his efficiency; and herein, it may be, consists one great advantage which the Catholic missionary possesses over the Protestant. He can penetrate into the interior; he can sleep in the hut, and eat the simple food of a native. But, if there be a wife and children, they must have houses and a thousand other comforts, which are not only expensive and difficult to obtain, but are clogs to keep the missionary down to one spot. I know how much the toil and suffering of man is alleviated, in these far-off regions, by the tenderness of woman. But the missionary is, by his profession, a devoted man; he seeks, in this life, not his own happiness, but the eternal good of others. Compare him with the members of my own profession. We are sustained by no such lofty faith as must be supposed to animate him, yet we find it possible to spend years upon the barren deep, exposed to every variety of climate, and seeking peril wherever it may be found–and all without the aid of woman’s ministrations. Can a man, vowed to the service of a Divine Master, think it much to practise similar self-denial?

5.–This morning, while performing my ablutions with a large sponge, a centipede, four and a half inches long, crawled out of one of the orifices, and, ran over my hand. The venomous reptile was killed, without any harm being done. It had probably been hidden in one of a number of large land-shells, which I brought on board a day or two ago. His touch upon my hand was the most disagreeable sensation that I have yet experienced in Africa.

For a month past it has rained almost every night, but only three or four times during the day. The tornadoes have not troubled us, and the regular land and sea-breezes prevail.

6.–At 4 P. M., anchored off Cape Palmas. The Decatur had hardly clewed up her top-sails, when she was directed by signal to make sail again. Shortly afterwards, a boat from the frigate brought us intelligence that there is trouble here between the natives and the colonists. The boats are ordered to be in readiness to go ashore to-morrow, in order to settle a palaver. The Decatur has gone to Caraway to protect the missionaries there. Thus we are in a fair way to have plenty of work, palavering with the natives and protecting the colonists. Not improbably, the latter have felt encouraged, by the presence of our squadron, to assume a higher tone towards the natives than heretofore. But we shall see.

8.–We landed, this morning, with nine armed boats, to examine into the difficulties above alluded to. The first duty that it fell to our lot to perform, was one of humanity. We had scarcely reached Governor Russwurm’s house, when, observing a crowd of people about a mile off, on the beach, we learned that a man was undergoing the ordeal of drinking sassy-wood. The Commodore, with most of the officers, hastened immediately to the rescue. On approaching the spot, we saw a woman with an infant on her back, walking to and fro, wailing bitterly, and throwing up her arms in agony. Further on, we met four children, from eight to twelve years of age, crying loudly as they came towards us, and apparently imploring us to save their father. Beyond them, and as near the crowd as she dared go, stood a young woman, supporting herself on a staff, with the tears streaming down her cheeks, while she gazed earnestly at the spot where her husband was suffering. Although she took no notice of us, her low moans were more impressive than the vociferous agony of the former woman; and we could not but suppose that the man was peculiarly amiable in the domestic relations, since his impending fate awakened more grief in the hearts of _two_ wives, than, in civilized life, we generally see exhibited by one. Meeting a colonist, with intelligence that the victim was nearly dead, we quickened our pace to a fast run.

Before we could reach the spot, however, the man had been put into a canoe, and paddled out into a lagoon by one of the party, while the remainder moved on to meet us. The Commodore ordered two of the leaders to be seized and kept prisoners, until the drinker of sassy-wood should be given up. This had the desired effect; and, in half an hour, there came to the Government House a hard-featured man of about fifty, escorted by a crowd, no small portion of which was composed of his own multifarious wives and children, all displaying symptoms of high satisfaction. He looked much exhausted, but was taken into the house and treated medically, with the desired success. When sufficiently recovered he will be sent to a neighboring town, where he must remain, until permitted by the customs of his people to return. He had been subjected to the ordeal, in order to test the truth or falsehood of an accusation brought against him, of having caused the death of a man of consequence, by incantations and necromantic arts. In such cases, a strong decoction of the sassy-wood bark is the universally acknowledged medium of coming at the truth. The natives believe that the tree has a supernatural quality, potent in destroying witches and driving out evil spirits; nor, although few escape, do the accused persons often object to quaffing the deadly draught. If it fail to operate fatally, it is generally by the connivance of those who administer it, in concocting the potion of such strength that the stomach shall reject it. Should the suspected wizard escape the operation of the sassy-wood, it is customary to kill him by beating on the head with clubs and stones; his property is forfeited; and the party accusing him feast on the cattle of their victim. The man whom we rescued had taken a gallon of the decoction the previous evening, and about the same quantity just before we interrupted the ordeal. His wealth had probably excited the envy of his accusers.

We had just returned to the Government House and were about to seat ourselves at the dinner-table, when an alarm-gun was heard from Mount Tubman. A messenger soon arrived to say that the natives were attempting to force their way through the settlement, to the Cape. The marines, together with all the officers who could be spared, were instantly on the march. The Commodore and Governor Russwurm led the force, on horseback; the flag-lieutenant and myself being the only other officers fortunate enough to procure animals. Mine was the queerest charger on which a knight ever rode to battle; a little donkey, scarcely high enough to keep my feet from the ground; so lazy that I could only force him into a trot by the continual prick of my sword; and so vicious that he threw me twice, in requital of my treatment. The rest of the detachment footed it four miles, on a sandy road, and under the scorching sun. On the way we overtook several armed colonists, hurrying to the point of danger. Passing the foot of Mount Vaughan we reached Mount Tubman, and, ascending a steep, conical hill, found ourselves on a level space of a hundred yards in diameter, with a strong picket-fence surrounding it, and a solitary house in the centre. Fifteen or sixteen armed men were on the watch, as conscious of the neighborhood of an enemy; the piazza was crowded with women and children; and from the interior of the house came the merry voices of above a score of little boys and girls, ignorant of danger, and enjoying a high frolic. Apart, by the wall, sat a blind man, grasping his staff with a tremulous hand; and near him lay a sick woman, who had been brought in from a neighboring farm-house. All these individuals, old and young, had been driven hither for refuge by the alarm of war.

Not far off, we beheld tokens that an attack had been made, and sternly resisted by the little garrison of the stockade. On the side opposite the Cape, a steep path rose towards the gate. Some twenty yards down this passage lay a native, dead, with an ugly hole in his scull; and, in a narrow path to the right, was stretched another, who had met his death from a bullet-wound in the centre of his forehead. The ball had cut the ligature which bound his “greegree” of shells around his head, and the faithless charm lay on the ground beside him. Already, the flies were beginning to cluster about the dead man’s mouth. The attacking party, to which these slain individuals belonged, were of the Barroky tribe. It is supposed that, knowing King Freeman to be at variance with the colonists, and hearing the salute in honor of the Commodore’s landing, they mistook it for the commencement of hostilities, and came in to support the native party and gather spoil.

As their repulse had evidently been decisive, we looked around us to enjoy the extensive and diversified view from the summit of the hill. Casting our eyes along the road which we had just passed, the principal settlement was visible, consisting of two separate villages, intermingled with large native towns, the dwellings in which greatly outnumbered those of the colonists. On one side of the rude promontory ran a small river; on the other, the sea rolled its unquiet waves. At a short distance from the shore was seen the rocky islet, bearing the name of Go-to-Hell, where the natives bury their dead. Northward, were the farms of those whom the recent hostile incursion had driven to this place of refuge. In various directions, several spurs of hills were visible, on one of which, glittering among the trees, appeared the white edifices of the Mount Vaughan Episcopal Mission.

On our return, some of the party halted at the Mission establishment; but I urged my little donkey onward, and, though this warlike episode had cost me a dinner, made my re-appearance at the Governor’s table in time for the dessert.


Palaver with King Freeman–Remarks on the Influence of Missionaries–Palaver at Rock Boukir–Narrative of Captain Farwell’s Murder–Scene of Embarkation through the Surf–Sail for Little Berebee.

_December_ 9.–At Cape Palmas. We again landed, as on the preceding day, and met the redoubtable King Freeman, and twenty-three other kings and headmen from the tribes in the vicinity. The palaver, like that at Sinoe, was held in the Methodist Church; the Commodore, the Governor, and several officers and colonists, appearing on one side, and the natives on the other. There were several striking countenances among the four-and-twenty negro potentates, and some, even, that bore the marks of native greatness; as might well be the case, in a system of society where rank and authority are, in a great measure, the result of individual talent and force of character. One head man was very like Henry Clay, both in face and figure. It is remarkable, too, that one of the chiefs at Sinoe not only had a strong personal resemblance to the same distinguished statesman–being, as it were, his image in ebony, or bronze–but, while not speaking, moved constantly about the palaver-house, as is Mr. Clay’s habit in the senate-chamber. The interpreter, on the present occasion, Yellow Will by name, was dressed in a crimson mantle of silk damask, poncho-shaped, and trimmed with broad gold lace.

The palaver being opened, the colonists complained that the chiefs had raised to double what it had been, or ought to be, the prices of rice and other products, for which the settlements were dependent upon the natives; also, that they would permit no merchant vessels to communicate with the colonial town. On representation of these grievances, the Kings agreed to rescind the obnoxious regulations. This, however, did not satisfy the Governor, who had hoped to induce King Freeman to remove his town to another site, and allow the colonists more room. As matters at present stand, the King’s capital city is within three hundred yards of Governor Russwurm’s house, and entirely disunites the colonial settlements on the Cape. In case of war, the communication between these two sections of the town of Harper would be completely broken off. The Governor, therefore, proposed that King Freeman should sell his land on the Cape, receiving a fair equivalent from the colony, and should transplant his town across the river, or elsewhere. But the King showed no inclination to comply; nor did the Commodore, apparently, deem it his province to support Governor Russwurm, or take any part in the question. The point was accordingly given up; the Governor merely requesting King Freeman to “look his head,” that is, consider–and let him know his determination.

There was also a complaint made, on the part of the missionaries, that the natives had cut off their supplies, and had attempted to take away the native children, who had been given them to educate. I was subsequently informed, however, by the Rev. Mr. Hazlehurst, that the missionaries had no difficulty with the natives, and did not wish their affairs to be identified with those of the colonists. The above representation, therefore, appears to have been unauthorized by the mission establishment. And here, without presuming to offer an opinion as respects their conduct at this particular juncture, I must be allowed to say, that the missionaries at Liberia have shown themselves systematically disposed to claim a position entirely independent of the colonies. They are supported by wealthy and powerful societies at home; they have been accustomed to look upon their own race as superior to the colored people; they are individually conscious, no doubt, in many cases, of an intellectual standing above that of the persons prominent among the emigrants; and they are not always careful to conceal their sense of such general or particular superiority. It is certain, too, that the native Africans regard the whites with much greater respect than those of their own color. Hence, it is almost impossible but that jealousy of missionary influence should exist in the minds of the colonial authorities. The latter perceive, in the midst of their commonwealth, an alien power, exercised by persons not entitled to the privileges of citizenship, and to whom it was never intended to allow voice or action in public affairs. By such a state of things, the progress of Christianity and civilisation must be rather retarded than advanced.

There is reason, therefore, to doubt whether the labors of white missionaries, in the territory over which the colonists exercise jurisdiction, is, upon the whole, beneficial. If removed beyond those limits, and insulated among the natives, they may accomplish infinite good; but not while assuming an anomalous position of independence, and thwarting the great experiment which the founders of Liberia had in view. One grand object of these colonies is, to test the disputed and doubtful point, whether the colored race be capable of sustaining themselves without the aid or presence of the whites. In order to a fair trial of the question, it seems essential that none but colored missionaries should be sent hither. The difficulties between the Government and the Methodist Episcopal mission confirm these views. At a former period, that mission possessed power almost sufficient to subvert the Colonial rule.

Let it not be supposed, that these remarks are offered in any spirit of hostility to missionaries. My intercourse with them in different parts of the world, has been of the most friendly nature. I owe much to their kindness, and can bear cheerful testimony to the laborious, self-devoting spirit in which they do their duty. At Athens, I have seen them toiling unremittingly, for years, to educate the ignorant and degraded descendants of the ancient Greeks, and was proud that my own country–in a hemisphere of which Plato never dreamed–should have sent back to Greece a holier wisdom than he diffused from thence. In the unhealthy isle of Cyprus, I have beheld them perishing without a murmur, and their places filled with new votaries, stepping over the graves of the departed, and not less ready to spend and be spent in the cause of their Divine Master. I have witnessed the flight of whole families from the mountains of Lebanon, where they had lingered until its cedars were prostrate beneath the storm of war, and only then came to shelter themselves under the flag of their country. Everywhere, the spirit of the American Missionaries has been honorable to their native land; nor, whatever be their human imperfections, is it too much to term them holy in their lives, and often martyrs in their deaths. And none more so than the very men of whom I now speak, in these sickly regions of Africa, where I behold them sinking, more or less gradually, but with certainty, and destitute of almost every earthly comfort, into their graves. I criticise portions of their conduct, but reverence their purity of motive; and only regret, that, while divesting themselves of so much that is worldly, they do not retain either more wisdom of this world, or less aptness to apply a disturbing influence to worldly affairs.

But it is time to return from this digression. Matters being now in a good train at Cape Palmas, we go to use our pacific influence elsewhere.

10.–We sailed at daylight, and anchored this evening at Rock Boukir.

11.–In the morning, twelve armed boats were sent ashore from the three ships. We landed on an open beach, all in safety, but more or less drenched by the dangerous surf. One or two boats took in heavy seas, broached to, and rolled over and over in the gigantic surf-wave. On landing, we found a body of armed natives, perhaps fifty in number, drawn up in a line. Their weapons were muskets, iron war-spears, long fish-spears of wood, and broad knives. They made no demonstrations of opposing us, but stood stoutly in their ranks, showing more independence of bearing and less fear, than any natives whom we have met with. They were evidently under military rule, and, as well as the remainder of the tribe, evinced a degree of boldness, amounting almost to insolence, which, it must be owned, would have made our party the more ready for a tustle, on any reasonable pretext.

The town of Rock Boukir is enclosed by palisades, about eight feet high, with small gates on every side. It was not the purpose of the natives to admit us within their walls; but a rain made it desirable that the palaver should be held in a sheltered place, instead of on the beach, as had been originally intended.

We therefore marched in, took possession of the place, and stationed sentinels at every gate. The town was entirely deserted; for the warriors had gone forth to fight, if a fight there was to be; and the women and children were sent for security into the “bush.” In the central square stood the Palaver House, beneath the shadow of a magnificent wide-spreading tree, which had perhaps mingled the murmur of its leaves with the eloquence of the native orators, for at least a century. Here we posted ourselves, and awaited the King of Rock Boukir.

The messengers announced, that he wished to bring his armed men within the walls, and occupy one side of the town, while our party held the other. As this proposition was not immediately acceded to, and as the King would not recede, it seemed doubtful whether there would be any palaver, after all. At length, however, the Commodore ordered the removal of our sentinels from the gates, on one side of the town, and consented that the native warriors should come in. A further delay was accounted for, on the plea that the King was putting on his robes of state. Finally, he entered the Palaver House and seated himself; an old man of sinister aspect, meanly dressed, and having for his only weapon a short sword, with a curved blade, six inches wide. Governor Roberts now opened the palaver, by informing the king that his tribe were suspected of having participated in the plunder of the Mary Carver, and the murder of her captain and crew. I subjoin a brief narrative of this affair.

Two years since, the schooner Mary Carver, of Salem, commanded by Captain Farwell of Vassalboro’, was anchored at Half Berebee, for the purpose of trading with the natives. Her cargo was valued at twelve thousand dollars. Captain Farwell felt great confidence in the people of Half Berebee, although warned not to trust them too far, as they had the character of being fierce and treacherous. One day, being alone on shore, the natives knocked him down, bound him, and delivered him to the women and children, to be tortured by sticking thorns into his flesh. After three hours of this horrible agony, the men despatched him. As soon as the captain was secured, a large party was sent on board the vessel, to surprise and murder the mate and crew. In this they were perfectly successful; not a soul on board escaped. They then took part of the goods out, and ran the schooner ashore, where she was effectually plundered. Within a space of twelve miles along the beach, there are five or six families of Fishmen, ruled by different members of the Cracko family, of which Ben Cracko of Half Berebee is the head. All these towns were implicated in the plot, and received a share of the plunder. A Portuguese schooner had been taken, and her crew murdered, at the same place, a year before. The business had turned out so profitably, that other tribes on the coast began to envy the good fortune of the Crackos, and declared that they likewise were going to “catch” a vessel.

The object of our present palaver was to inquire into the alleged agency of the tribe at Rock Boukir in the above transaction. The King, speaking in his own language, strenuously denied the charge; at the same time touching his ears and drawing his tongue over his short curved broad-sword. By these symbols and hieroglyphics, I supposed him to mean, that he had merely heard of the affair, and that his sword was innocent of the blood imputed to him. It seems, however, that it is the native form of taking an oath, equivalent to our kissing the book. The King agreed to go to Berebee, and assist in the grand palaver to be held there; complying with a proposal of the Commodore, to take passage thither in the Macedonian. Matters being so far settled, the council was broken up, and the party re-embarked.

Several of the boats having been anchored outside of the surf, the officers and men were carried off to them in the native canoes. The scene on the beach was quite animated. Hundreds of natives, having laid aside their weapons, crowded around to watch the proceedings. The women and children came from the woods in swarms, all talking, screaming, laughing, and running hither and thither. The canoes were constantly passing from the shore to the boats, carrying two persons at a time. Our men, being unaccustomed to such rough water and unsteady conveyances, often capsized the canoes and were tumbled ashore by the surf, perhaps with the loss of hats, jackets, or weapons. Here was visible the head of a marine, swimming to one of the boats, with his musket in his hand. Another, unable to swim, was upheld by a Krooman. Here and there, an impatient individual plunged into the surf and struck out for his boat, rather than await the tedious process of embarkation. All reached the vessels in safety, but few with dry jackets. His majesty of Rock Boukir, too, went on board the frigate, according to agreement, and probably, by this mark of confidence, saved his capital from the flames. If all stories be true, he little deserves our clemency; and it is even said, that the different tribes held a grand palaver at this place, for the division of the spoil of the Mary Carver.

We set sail immediately.

12.–Anchored at half past five P.M., off Little Berebee.


Palaver at Little Berebee–Death of the Interpreter and King Ben Cracko, and burning of the Town–Battle with the Natives, and Conflagration of several Towns–Turkey Buzzards–A Love-Letter–Moral Reflections–Treaty of Grand Berebee–Prince Jumbo and his Father–Native system of Expresses–Curiosity of the Natives.

_December_ 13.–At nine A.M., the boats of the squadron repaired to the flag-ship, where they were formed in line, and then pulled towards the shore abreast. The landing-place is tolerably good, but contracted. Four or five boats might easily approach it together; but when most of the thirteen attempted it at once, so narrow was the space, that one or two of them filled. They were hauled up, however, and secured. Our force, on being disembarked, was stationed in line, opposite the town of Little Berebee, and the wood in its immediate vicinity. Many of the officers went up to the Palaver House, a temporary shed erected for the occasion, about fifty yards from the town-gate. King Ben Cracko now making his appearance, with five or six headmen or kings of the neighboring tribes, the palaver began.

The interpreter, on this occasion, was well known to have been, in his own person, a leading character in the act of piracy and murder, which it was the object of the palaver to investigate. He had therefore a difficult part to act; one that required great nerve, and such a talent of throwing a fair semblance over foul facts, as few men, civilized or savage, are likely to possess. With the consciousness of guilt upon him, causing him to startle at the first aspect of peril, it is singular that the man should have had the temerity to trust himself in so trying a position. His version of the Mary Carver affair was a very wretched piece of fiction. He declared that Captain Farwell had killed two natives, and that old King Cracko, since deceased, had punished the captain by death, in the exercise of his legitimate authority. He denied that the tribe had participated in Captain Farwell’s murder, or in those of the mate and crew, or in the robbery of the vessel; affirming that the schooner had gone ashore, and that everything was lost. All this was a tissue of falsehood; it being notorious that a large quantity of goods from the wreck, and portions of the vessel itself, were distributed among the towns along the coast. It was well known, moreover, that these people had boasted of having “caught” (to use their own phrase), an American vessel, and that the neighboring tribes had threatened to follow Ben Cracko’s example.

Governor Roberts, who conducted the examination on our part, expressed to the man his utter disbelief of the above statements. The Commodore, likewise, stept hastily towards him, sternly warning him to utter no more falsehoods. The interpreter, perceiving that the impression was against him, and probably expecting to be instantly made prisoner, or put to death, now lost the audacity that had hitherto sustained him. At this moment, it is said, a gun was fired at our party, from the town; and, simultaneously with the report, the interpreter sprang away like a deer. There was a cry to stop him–two or three musket-bullets whistled after the fugitive as he ran–but he had nearly reached the town-gate, when his limbs, while strained to their utmost energy, suddenly failed beneath him. A rifle-shot had struck him in the vertebra of the neck, causing instantaneous death. Meanwhile, King Ben Cracko had made a bolt to escape, but was seized by his long calico robe; which, however, gave way, leaving him literally naked in the midst of his enemies. A shot brought him to the ground; but he sprang to his feet, still struggling to escape. He next received two bayonet wounds, but fought like a wild beast, until two or three men flung themselves upon him, and held him down by main force. Finding himself overpowered, he pretended to be dead, but was securely bound, and taken to the beach. A lion of the African deserts could not have shown a fiercer energy than this savage King; and those who gazed at him, as he lay motionless on the sand, confessed that they had never seen a frame of such masculine vigor as was here displayed. His wounds proved mortal.

The melee had been as sudden as the explosion of gunpowder; it was wholly unexpected, but perhaps not to be wondered at, where two parties, with weapons in their hands, had met to discuss a question of robbery and murder. When the firing commenced, about two hundred natives were on the spot, or in the vicinity; they were now flying in all directions, some along the beach, a few into the sea itself, but by far the greatest number to the woods. Many shots were fired, notwithstanding the Commodore’s orders to refrain. We were now directed to break down the palisades, and set fire to the town. A breach of twenty or thirty feet was soon made in the wall, by severing the withes that bound together the upright planks. Before this could be effected, another party crept through the small holes, serving the purpose of gates, and penetrated to the centre of the town, where, assembling around the great council-tree, they gave three cheers. The houses were then set on fire, and, within fifteen minutes, presented one mass of conflagration. The palisades likewise caught the flames, and were consumed, leaving an open space of blackened and smoking ruins, where, half an hour before, the sun had shone upon a town.

The natives did not remain idle spectators of the destruction of their houses. Advancing to the edge of the woods, they discharged their muskets at us, loaded not with Christian bullets, but with copper-slugs, probably manufactured out of the spikes of the Mary Carver. A marine was struck in the side by one of these missiles, which tumbled him over, but without inflicting a serious wound. A party from our ship penetrated the woods behind the town, where one of them fired at an object which he perceived moving in the underbrush. Going up to the spot, it proved to be a very aged man, apparently on the verge of a century, much emaciated, and too feeble to crawl further in company with his flying towns-people. He was unharmed by the shot, but evidently expected instant death, and held up his hand in supplication. Our party placed the poor old patriarch in a more sheltered spot, and left him there, after supplying him with food; an act of humanity which must have seemed to him very singular, if not absurd, in contrast with the mischief which we had wrought upon his home and people. Meantime, the ships were disposed to have a share in the fight, and opened a cannonade upon the woods, shattering the great branches of the trees, and adding to the terror, if not to the loss, of the enemy. Little Berebee being now a heap of ashes, we re-embarked, taking with us an American flag, probably that of the Mary Carver, which had been found in the town. We also made prizes of several canoes, one of which was built for war, and capable of carrying forty men. The wounded King Cracko, likewise, was taken on board the frigate, where, next morning, he breathed his last; thus expiating the outrage in which, two years before, he had been a principal actor. We afterwards understood that the natives suffered a loss of eight killed and two wounded.

15.–The season for palavers and diplomacy being now over, we landed at seven o’clock this morning, ten or twelve miles below Berebee, in order to measure out a further retribution to the natives. On approaching the beach, we were fired upon from the bushes, but without damage, although the enemy were sheltered within twenty yards of the water’s edge. The boat’s crew first ashore, together with two or three marines, charged into the shrubbery and drove off the assailants. All being disembarked, the detachment was formed in line, and marched to the nearest town, which was immediately attacked. Like the other native towns, it was protected by a wall of high palisades, planted firmly in the soil, and bound together by thongs of bamboo. Cutting a passage through these, we entered the place, which contained perhaps a hundred houses, neatly built of wicker-work, and having their high conical roofs thatched with palmetto-leaves. Such edifices were in the highest degree combustible, and being set on fire, it was worth while for a lover of the picturesque to watch the flames, as they ran up the conical roofs, and meeting at the apex, whirled themselves fiercely into the darkened air.

While this was going on, the war-bells, drums, and war-horns of the natives were continually sounding; and flocks of vultures (perhaps a more accurate ornithologist might call them turkey-buzzards) appeared in the sky, wheeling slowly and heavily over our heads. These ravenous birds seemed to have a presentiment that there were deeds of valor to be done: nor was it quite a comfortable idea, that some of them, ere nightfall, might gratify their appetite at one’s own personal expense. To confess the truth, however, they were probably attracted by the scent of some slaughtered bullocks; it being indifferent to a turkey-buzzard whether he prey on a cow or a Christian. After destroying the first town, we marched about a mile and a half up the beach, to attack a second. On our advance, the marine drummer and fifer were ordered from the front of the column to the rear, as being a position of less danger. They of course obeyed; but the little drummer deeming it a reflection upon his courage, burst into tears, and actually blubbered aloud as he beat the _pas de charge_. It was a strange operation of manly spirit in a boyish stage of development.

As we approached the second town, our boat-keepers, who watched the scene, distinctly saw a party of thirty or forty natives lying behind a palisade, with their guns pointed at our advanced guard. Unconscious that the enemy were so near, we halted for an instant, about forty yards from the town, and then advanced at a run. This so disconcerted the defenders that they fled, after firing only a few shots, none of which took effect. In fact, the natives proved themselves but miserable marksmen. They can seldom hit an object in motion, although, if a man stand still, they sometimes manage to put a copper-slug into his body, by taking aim a long time. After firing, the savage runs a long distance before he ventures to load. Had their skill or their hardihood been greater, we must have suffered severely; for the woods extended nearly to the water’s edge, and exposed us, during the whole day, to the fire of a sheltered and invisible enemy.

After the storm and conflagration of the second town, we took a brief rest, and then proceeded to capture and burn another, situated about a mile to the northward. This accomplished, we judged it to be dinner-time. Indeed, we had done work enough to ensure an appetite; and history does not make mention, so far as I am aware, of such destruction of cities so expeditiously effected. Having emptied our baskets, we advanced about three miles along the beach–still with the slugs of the enemy whistling in our ears–and gave to the devouring element another town. Man is perhaps never happier than when his native destructiveness can be freely exercised, and with the benevolent complacency of performing a good action, instead of the remorse of perpetrating a bad one. It unites the charms of sin and virtue. Thus, in all probability, few of us had ever spent a day of higher enjoyment than this, when we roamed about, with a musket in one hand and a torch in the other, devastating what had hitherto been the homes of a people.

One of the sweetest spots that I have seen in Africa, was a little hamlet of three houses, standing apart from the four large towns above-mentioned, and surrounded by an impervious hedge of thorn-bushes, with two palisaded entrances. Forcing our way through one of these narrow portals, we beheld a grassy area of about fifty yards across, overshadowed by a tree of very dense foliage, which had its massive roots in the centre, and spread its great protecting branches over the whole enclosure. The three dwellings were of the same sort of basket-work as those already described, but particularly neat, and giving a pleasant impression of the domestic life of their inhabitants. This small, secluded hamlet had probably been the residence of one family, a patriarch, perhaps, with his descendants to the third or fourth generation–who, beneath that shadowy tree, must have enjoyed all the happiness of which uncultivated man is susceptible. Nor would it be too great a stretch of liberality, to suppose that the green hedge of impervious thorns had kept out the vices of their race, and that the little area within was a sphere where all the virtues of the native African had been put in daily practice. These three dwellings, and the verdant wall around them, and the great tree that brooded over the whole, might unquestionably have been spared, with safety to our consciences. But when man takes upon himself the office of an avenger by the sword, he is not to be perplexed with such little scrupulosities, as whether one individual or family be less guilty than the rest. Providence, it is to be presumed, will find some method of setting such matters right. In fine, when the negro patriarch’s strong sable sons supported their decrepit sire homeward, with their wives, “black, but comely,” bearing the glistening, satin-skinned babies on their backs, and their other little ebony responsibilities trudging in the rear, there must have been a dismal wail; for there was the ancestral tree, its foliage shrivelled with fire, stretching out its desolate arms over the ashes of the three wicker dwellings.

The business of the day was over. Besides short excursions, and charges into the bush, the men had marched and countermarched at least twelve miles upon the beach, with the surf sometimes rolling far beyond our track. Some hundreds of slugs had been fired at us; and, on our part, we had blazed away at every native who had ventured to show his face; but the amount of casualties, after such a day of battle, reminds one of the bloodless victories and defeats of an Italian army, during the middle ages. In a word, we had but two men wounded; and whether any of the enemy were killed or no, it is impossible to say. At all events, we slew a number of neat cattle, eight or nine of which were sent on board the ships, where they answered a much better purpose than as many human carcasses. The other spoil consisted of several canoes, together with numerous household utensils–which we shall bring home as trophies and curiosities. There was also a chain cable, and many other articles belonging to the Mary Carver, and a pocket-book, containing a letter addressed to Captain Robert McFarland. The purport of the epistle is not a matter of public interest; but it was written in a lady’s delicate hand, and was probably warm with affection; and little did the fair writer dream that her missive would find its way into an African hut, where it was probably regarded as a piece of witchcraft.

Thus ended the warfare of Little Berebee. The degree of retribution meted out had by no means exceeded what the original outrage demanded; and the mode of it was sanctioned by the customs of the African people. According to their unwritten laws, if individuals of a tribe commit a crime against another tribe or nation, the criminal must either be delivered up, or punished at home, or the tribe itself becomes responsible for their guilt. An example was of peremptory necessity; and the American vessels trading on the coast will long experience a good effect from this day’s battle and destruction. The story will be remembered in the black man’s traditions, and will have its due weight in many a palaver. Nevertheless, though the burning of villages be a very pretty pastime, yet it leaves us in a moralizing mood, as most pleasures are apt to do; and one would fain hope that civilized man, in his controversies with the barbarian, will at length cease to descend to the barbarian level, and may adopt some other method of proving his superiority, than by his greater power to inflict suffering. For myself personally, the “good old way” suits me tolerably enough; but I am disinterestedly anxious that posterity should find a better.

16.–We sailed at day-light for Grand Berebee. Nearing the point on which it is situated, the ships hoisted white flags at the fore, in token of amity. A message was sent on shore to the King, who came off in a large canoe, and set his hand to a treaty, promising to keep good faith with American vessels. He likewise made himself responsible for the good conduct of the other tribes in the vicinity.

On board the Macedonian, there were five prisoners, who had been taken two months ago, by the brig Porpoise. One was the eldest son of this King, and the others belonged to his tribe. The meeting between the King and prince was very affecting, and fully proved that nature has not left these wild people destitute of warmth and tenderness of heart. They threw themselves into each other’s arms, wept, laughed, and danced for joy. To the King, his son was like one risen from the dead; he had given him up for lost, supposing that the young man had been executed. The prisoners were each presented with a new frock and trowsers, besides tobacco, handkerchiefs, and other suitable gifts. The prince received a lieutenant’s old uniform coat; and when they got into their canoe, it was amusing to see how awkwardly he paddled, in this outlandish trim. He made two or three attempts to get the coat off, but without success. One of his companions then offered his assistance; but as he took the prince by the collar, instead of the sleeve, it was found impracticable to rid him of the garment. The more he pulled, the less it would come off; and the last we saw of Prince Jumbo, he was holding up his skirts in one hand, and paddling with the other. There will be grand rejoicings to-night, on the return of the prisoners. All will be dancing and jollity; plays will be performed; the villages will re-echo with the report of fire-arms and the clamor of drums; and the whole population will hold a feast of bullocks.

20.–Anchored at Cape Palmas. The natives here were alarmed at the return of the three ships; and many of them carried away their moveables into the woods. News of the destruction of the towns below had reached them several days since. They have a simple, but very effective system of expresses. When information of great interest is to be conveyed from tribe to tribe, one of their swiftest runners is despatched, who makes what speed he can, and, when tired, entrusts his message to another. Thus it is speeded on, without a moment’s delay. Should the runner encounter a river in his course, he shouts his news across; it is caught up on the other side, and immediately sent forward. In this manner, intelligence finds its way along the coast with marvellous celerity.

23.–We sailed two days ago. Yesterday, there came off from the shore, some six or eight miles, a couple of canoes, paddled by six men each, who exerted themselves to the utmost to overtake us. They had nothing to sell; and their only object seemed to be, to obtain the particulars of the fight and conflagration at Little Berebee, a hundred and fifty miles below.

25.–Anchored at Monrovia, and landed Governor Roberts, who, with Dr. Johnson, had been a passenger from Cape Palmas.

28.–Sailed for Porto Praya, with the intention of visiting Madeira, before returning to the coast.


Madeira–Aspect of the Island–Annual races–“Hail Columbia!”–Ladies, Cavaliers, and Peasants–Dissertation upon Wines–The Clerks of Funchal–Decay of the Wine-Trade–Cultivation of Pine-Trees–A Night in the Streets–Beautiful Church–A Sunday-evening Party–Currency of Madeira.

_January_ 19, 1844.–We made Madeira yesterday, but, the weather being thick and squally, stood off and on until to-day.

20. Our ship rides gently at her anchor. The Loo rock rises fifty feet perpendicular from the water, at so short a distance, that we can hear the drum beat tattoo in the small, inaccessible castle, on its summit. This rock is the outpost of the city of Funchal. The city stretches along the narrow strip of level ground, near the shore, with vine-clad hills rising steeply behind. On the slopes of these eminences are many large houses, surrounded with splendid gardens, and occupied by wealthy inhabitants, chiefly Englishmen, who have retired upon their fortunes, or are still engaged in business. On a height to the left, stands a castle of considerable size, in good repair. High up among the hills, in bold relief, is seen the church of Our Lady of the Mount, with its white walls and two towers. The hills are rugged, steep, and furrowed with deep ravines, along which, after the heavy rains of winter, the mountain torrents dash headlong to the sea.

My remarks on Madeira will be thrown together without the regularity of a daily journal; for our visit to the island proves so delightful, that it seems better worth the while to enjoy, than to describe it.

The annual races are well attended. During their continuance, throngs of passengers, on foot, on horseback, and in palanquins, are continually proceeding to the course, a little more than a mile and a half from town. The road thither constantly ascends, until you find yourself several hundred feet above the sea, with an extensive prospect beneath and around. A tolerable space for the track is here afforded by an oblong plain, seven-eighths of a mile in length. Near the judges’ stand was a large collection of persons of all classes, ladies, dandies, peasants, and jockeys. Here, too, were booths for the sale of eatables and drinkables, and a band of music to enliven the scene.

These musicians saw fit to honor us in a very particular manner. They had all agreed to ship on board our vessel; and, with a view to please their new masters, when three or four of our officers rode into the course, they played “Hail Columbia.” We took off our caps in acknowledgment, and thought it all very fine. Directly afterwards, two other officers rode in, and were likewise saluted with “Hail Columbia!” Anon, two or three of us dismounted and strolled about among the people, thinking nothing of the band, until we were reminded of their proximity by the old tune again. In short, every motion on our part, however innocent and unpretending, caused the hills of Madeira to resound with the echoes of our national air. Finding that our position assumed a cast of the ridiculous, we gave the leader to understand, that, if the tune were played again, the band’s first experience of maritime life should be a flogging at the gangway. The hint was sufficient; not only did we hear no more of “Hail Columbia,” but none of the musicians ever came near the ship.

With few exceptions the running was wretched. One or two of the match-races (which were ten in number, all single heats, of a mile each) were well contested. The first was run by two ponies; a fat black one with a chubby boy on his back, and a red, which, as well as his rider, was in better racing condition. The black was beaten out of sight. The second race was by two other ponies, one of which took the lead, and evidently had the heels of his antagonist. Suddenly, however, he bolted, and leaped the wall, leaving the track to be trotted over by the slower colt. Two grey horses succeeded, and made pretty running; but their riders, instead of attending to business, joined hands, and rode a quarter of a mile in this amiable attitude. Rather than antagonists, one would have taken them for twin brethren, like two other famous horsemen, Castor and Pollux. To the ladies this mode of racing appeared delightful; but the remarks of our party, consisting of several English and American officers and gentlemen, were anything but complimentary. The last quarter of this heat was well run, one of the horses winning apparently by a neck. The judge, however, a Portuguese, decided that it was a dead heat.

At one extremity of the course, the hill rises abruptly; and here were hundreds of persons of both sexes, in an excellent position to see the running, and to impart a pretty effect to the scene. A large number of peasantry were present, dressed in their peculiar costume, and taking great interest in the whole matter. Both men and women wear a little blue cap lined with scarlet, so small that one wonders how it sticks on the head. In shape it is like an inverted funnel, running up to a sharp point. The women have short, full dresses, with capes of a dark blue, trimmed with a lighter blue, or of scarlet with blue trimming. These colors form a sectional distinction; the girls of the north side of the island wearing the scarlet capes, and those of the south side, the blue. In the intervals of the races, ladies and gentlemen cantered round the course, and some of them raced with their friends. Three Scottish ladies, with more youth than beauty, and dressed in their plaids, made themselves conspicuous by their bold riding, and quite carried off the palm of horsemanship from their cavaliers.

A sketch of Madeira would be incomplete indeed, without some mention of its wines. Three years ago, when it was more a matter of personal interest, I visited this island, and gained considerable information on the subject. Madeira then produced about thirty thousand pipes annually, one third of which was consumed on the island, one-third distilled into brandy, and the remainder exported. About one-third of the exportation went to the United States, and the balance to other parts of the world. The best wines are principally sent to our own country–that is to say, the best exported–for very little of the first-rate wine goes out of the island. The process of adulteration is as thoroughly understood and practised here, as anywhere else. The wine sent to the United States is a kind that has been heated, to give it an artificial age. The mode of operation is simply to pour the wine into large vats, and submit it for several days to a heat of about 110º. After this ordeal, the wine is not much improved by keeping.

There are other modes of adulteration, into the mysteries of which I was not admitted. One fact, communicated to me by an eminent wine-merchant, may shake the faith of our connoisseurs as to the genuineness of their favorite beverage. It is, that, from a single pipe of “mother wine,” ten pipes are manufactured by the help of inferior wine. This “mother wine” is that which has been selected for its excellence, and is seldom exported pure. The wines, when fresh from the vintage, are as various in their flavor as our cider. It is by taste and _smell_ that the various kinds are selected, after which the poorer wines are distilled into brandy, and the better are put in cases, and placed in store to ripen. The liquor is from time to time racked off, and otherwise managed until ready for exportation. It is _invariably_ “treated” with brandy. French brandy was formerly used, which being now prohibited, that of the island is substituted, although of an inferior quality.

Besides the “Madeira wine,” so famous among convivialists, there are others of higher price and superior estimation. There is the “Sercial,” distinguished by a kind of Poppy taste. There is the Malmsey, or “Ladies’ wine,” and the “Vina Tinta,” or Madeira Claret, as it is sometimes called. The latter is made of the black grapes, in a peculiar manner. After being pressed, the skins of the grapes are placed in a vat, where the juice is poured upon them and suffered to stand several days, until it has taken the hue required. The taste of this wine is between those of Port and Claret. There is a remarkable difference in the quality of the vintages of the north and south sides of the island; the former not being a third part so valuable as the latter. The poorer classes drink an inferior and acid wine.

The vineyards are generally owned by rich proprietors, by whom they are farmed out to the laborer, who pays half the produce when the wine has been pressed; the government first taking its tenth. The grape-vines run along frame-work, raised four or five feet from the ground, so as to allow the cultivator room to weed the stalks beneath. The finest grapes are those which grow upon the sunny side of a wall. At the season of vintage, the grapes are placed in a kind of canoe, where they are first crushed by men’s feet (all wines, even the richest and purest, having this original tincture of the human foot), and then pressed by a beam.

Perhaps the very finest wines in the world are to be found collected at the suppers given by the clerks, in the large mercantile houses of Madeira. By an established custom, when one of their corps is about to leave the island, he gives an entertainment, to which every guest contributes a bottle or two of wine. It is a point of honor to produce the best; and as the clerks know, quite as well as their principals, where the best is to be found, and as the honor of their respective houses is to be sustained, it may well be imagined that all the _bon-vivants_ on earth, were they to meet at one table, could hardly produce such a variety of fine old Madeira, as the clerks of Funchal then sip and descant upon. In no place do mercantile clerks hold so respectable a position in society as here; owing to the tacit understanding between their principals and themselves, that, at some future day, they are to be admitted as partners in the houses. This is so general a rule, that the clerk seems to hold a social position scarcely inferior to that of the head of the establishment. They prove their claim to this high consideration, by the zeal with which they improve their minds and cultivate their manners, in order to fill creditably the places to which they confidently aspire.

At my second visit to Madeira, I find the wine trade at a very low ebb. The demand from America, owing to temperance, the tariff, and partly to an increased taste for Spanish, French, and German wines, is extremely small. Not a cargo has been shipped thither for three years. The construction given to the tariff, by the Secretary of the Treasury, will infuse new life into the trade.

The hills around the city of Funchal are covered with vineyards, as far up as the grape will grow; then come the fields of vegetables; and the plantations of pine for the supply of the city. The island took its name from the great quantity of wood which overshadowed it, at its first discovery. This being long ago exhausted, considerable attention is paid to the cultivation of the pine-tree, which produces the most profitable kind of wood. In twelve or thirteen years, it is fit for the market, and commands a handsome price. Far up the mountains, we saw one plantation, in which fifty or sixty acres had been covered with pines, within a few years; some of the infant trees being only an inch high. Thus in the course of a morning’s ride, we ascend from the region of the laughing and luxuriant vine, into that of the stately and sombre pine; it is like being transported by enchantment from the genial clime of Madeira into the rugged severity of a New England forest.

In going up the mountain, the traveller encounters many peasants, both men and women, with bundles of weeds for horses, and sticks for fire-wood, which are carried upon the head. Thus laden, they walk several miles, and perhaps sell their burthens for ten or twelve cents apiece. Articles cannot easily be conveyed in any other manner, down the steep declivities of the hills. In the city, burthens are drawn by oxen, on little drags, which glide easily over the smooth, round pavements. The driver carries in his hand a long mop without a handle, or what a sailor would term a “wet swab.” If any difficulty occur in drawing the load, this moist mop is thrown before the drag, which readily glides over it.

The beggars of Funchal are numerous and importunate, and many of them wretched enough, as, in one instance, I had occasion to witness. With a friend, I had quitted a ball at two o’clock in the morning. The porter of our hotel, not expecting us at so late an hour, had retired; and, as all the family slept in the back part of the house, we were unable to awaken them by our long and furious knocking. Several Englishmen occupied the front apartments, but scorned to give themselves any trouble about the matter, except to breathe a slumberous execration against the disturbers of their sleep. On the other hand, our anathemas were louder, and quite as bitter upon these inhospitable inmates. Finally, after half an hour’s vigorous but ineffectual assault upon the portal, we retreated in despair, and betook ourselves to walk the streets. The night was beautifully clear, but too cool for the enervated frame of an African voyager. We were tired with dancing, and occasionally sat down; but the door-steps were all of stone, and, though we buttoned our coats closely, it was impossible to remain long inactive.

Near morning, we approached the door of the Cathedral, and were about to seat ourselves, when we perceived a person crouching on the spot, and apparently asleep. The slumber was not sound; for when we spoke, a young girl, a mere rose-bud of a woman, about fourteen years of age, arose and answered. She was very thinly clad; and, with her whole frame shivering, the poor thing assumed an airy and mirthful deportment, to attract us. It was grievous to imagine how many nights like this the unhappy girl was doomed to pass, and that all her nights were such, unless when vice and degradation procured her a temporary shelter. Ever since that hour, when I picture the pleasant island of Madeira, with its sunshine, and its vineyards, and its jovial inhabitants, the shadow of this miserable child glides through the scene.

One of the most beautiful houses of worship I have ever seen, is the English church, just outside of the city of Funchal. The edifice has no steeple or bells, these being prohibited by the treaty between Portugal and Great Britain, which permits the English protestants to erect churches. You approach it through neat gravel walks, lined with the most brilliant flowers, and these in such magnificent profusion, that the building may be said to stand in the midst of a great flower-garden. The aspect is certainly more agreeable, if not more appropriate, than that of the tombstones and little hillocks which usually surround the sacred edifice; it is one method of rendering the way to Heaven a path of flowers. On entering the church, we perceive a circular apartment, lighted by a dome of stained glass. The finish of the interior is perfectly neat, but simple. The organ is fine-toned, and was skilfully played. Pleasant it was to see again a church full of well-dressed English–those Saxon faces, nearest of kin to our own–and to hear once more the familiar service, after being so long shut out from consecrated walls!

Sunday is not observed with much strictness, in Madeira. On the evening of that day, I called at a friend’s house, where thirty or forty persons, all Portuguese, were collected, without invitation. Music, dancing, and cards, were introduced for the entertainment of the guests. The elder portion sat down to whist; and, in a corner of the large dancing room, one of the gentlemen established a faro-bank, which attracted most of the company to look on, or bet. So much more powerful were the cards than the ladies, that it was found difficult to enlist gentlemen for a single cotillion. After a while, dancing was abandoned, and cards ruled supreme. The married ladies made bets as freely as the gentlemen; and several younger ones, though more reserved, yet found courage to put down their small stakes. I observed one sweet girl of sixteen, standing over the table, and watching the game with intense interest. Methought the game within her bosom was for a more serious stake than that upon the table, and better worth the observer’s notice. Who should win it?–her guardian angel? or the gambling fiend? Alas, the latter! She bashfully drew a little purse from her bosom, and put her stake down with the rest.

The currency of Madeira is principally composed of the old-fashioned twenty cent pieces, called cruzados, which pass at the rate of five for a dollar. Payments of thousands of dollars are made in this coin, which, not being profitable to remit, circulates from hand to hand.


Passage back to Liberia–Coffee Plantations–Dinner on Shore–Character of Col. Hicks–Shells and Sentiment–Visit to the Council Chamber–the New Georgia Representative–a Slave-Ship–Expedition up the St. Paul’s–Sugar Manufactory–Maumee’s beautiful Grand-Daughter–the Sleepy Disease–the Mangrove-Tree.

_February_ 29.–We are on our return to Liberia. The ship is destined to cruise along the whole coast, from Cape Mesurado to the river Gaboon, touching at all important and interesting points. It will present the best opportunity yet enjoyed, to observe whatever things worthy of notice the country can present. Hourly, as we approach the coast, we perceive the difference in temperature. It is a grateful change, that of winter to summer. Last night was as mild as a summer evening at home. I remained on the forecastle till midnight, enjoying the moonlight, the soft air, and the cheerful song of a cricket, which had been, in some manner, brought on board at Porto Praya, a week ago. He seems to be the merriest of the crew, and now nightly pipes to the forecastle men.

Our ship slides along almost imperceptibly, yet gets over the sea wonderfully well. She is a noble ship, stiff, fast, and dry. Her motion is very easy, and her performance, whether in strong or light breezes, is always excellent. Her grating-deck has been taken off, as it made her a little top-heavy and uneasy, and detracted from her speed; and she is infinitely better for the change.

_March_ 2.–Anchored at Monrovia, in less than eight days from Porto Praya, although the winds were light, most of the time. Several of our Kroomen, who left us, two months ago, completely dressed in sailor-rig, came on board with only a hat and a handkerchief, and forthwith proceeded to haul upon the ropes, as before.

6.–I have been walking through Judge Benedict’s coffee-plantation, from the condition of which I find little encouragement to persons disposed to engage in the business. The trees are certainly not so thrifty, and are apparently less in number than they were three years ago. There is little or no weeding done; consequently, the plantation is overgrown with grass and bushes, and looks as if the forest might, at no distant day, reclaim its children. All the trees have been transplanted from the neighboring woods, and, it is said, do not flourish so well as those raised from seed, in nurseries. General Lewis has several thousand coffee-plants growing from the seed, and, in two or three years, will have tested the comparative advantages of this plan.

I dined ashore to-day. At the table were a Dutchman, a Dane, four American officers, and Colonel Hicks. All, except myself, were good talkers, and composed a delightful dinnerparty. Colonel Hicks, of whom I have before spoken in this Journal, is one of the most shrewd, active and agreeable men in the colony. Once a slave in Kentucky, and afterwards in New-Orleans, he is now a commission-merchant in Monrovia, doing a business worth four or five thousand dollars per annum. Writing an elegant hand, he uses this accomplishment to the best advantage by inditing letters, on all occasions, to those who can give him business. If a French vessel shows her flag in the harbor, the Colonel’s Krooman takes a letter to the master, written in his native language. If an American man-of-war, he writes in English, offering his services, and naming some person as his intimate friend, who will probably be known on board. Then he is so hospitable, and his house always so neat, and his table so good–his lady, moreover, is such a friendly, pleasant-tempered person, and so good-looking, into the bargain–that it is really a fortunate day for the stranger in Liberia, when he makes the acquaintance of Colonel and Mrs. Hicks. Every day, after the business of the morning is concluded, the Colonel dresses for dinner, which appears upon the table at three o’clock. He presides with genuine elegance and taste; his stories are good, and his quotations amusing. To be sure, he occasionally commits little mistakes, such, for instance, as speaking of America as his Alma Mater; but, on the whole, even without any allowance for a defective education, he appears wonderfully well. One circumstance is too indicative of strong sense, as well as good taste, not to be mentioned;–he is not ashamed of his color, but speaks of it without constraint, and without effort. Most colored men avoid alluding to their hue, thus betraying a morbid sensibility upon the point, as if it were a disgraceful and afflicting dispensation. Altogether the Colonel and his lady make many friends, and are as apparently happy, and as truly respectable as any couple here or elsewhere.

Coming to the beach, we found no boat; and nearly half an hour passed before one arrived to take us on board. In the interim, I strolled along the shore, picking up the small shells, which the waves had thrown in abundance upon the sand. In the eye of a conchologist, they would have been of little value, as all of them were common, and none possessed more than a single valve. But the purple blush of the interior pleased me; and what is more, I was gathering these trifles for a lady whom I have never seen, yet whom I trust that I may venture to count among my friends. I know that she will be pleased with the poor offering and its giver; for each of these shells is linked with a thought that flew over the sea–from the sunset shore of Africa to a fireside in New England–and returned thence to the wanderer, bringing grateful fancies, reminiscences, and hopes. It was a smiling half-hour.

9.–Ashore, and in the council-chamber. It is a spacious apartment on the second floor of the stone building recently erected for the purposes of a Legislative Hall and Court-House. The Governor presided, sitting in a high backed rocking-chair; which, by the by, the natives call a “Missionary Horse.” The colonial Secretary acted as chief-clerk, and Doctor Prout, in gold-bowed spectacles, as his assistant. An ungainly lad, with big feet and striped hose, seemed to engross in his own person the offices of door-keeper, sergeant-at-arms, and page. The council proper consisted of ten members, who sat at separate desks, arranged semi-circularly in front of the Governor. The spectators occupied rude benches in the rear of the members.

The question before the council related to the building of a market-house in Monrovia, at the expense of the commonwealth, as proposed in one of the sections of a bill to form a city government. This being a matter of some interest, each member expressed his views, but with such brevity that the whole debate occupied scarcely forty minutes, although several individuals spoke twice. This conciseness was less a virtue of choice than necessity, being attributable chiefly to the fact, that the presiding officer set his face against all vagaries of eloquence, and kept the speakers strictly to the point. If one wandered in the least, he was instantly called to order, and compelled to take his seat, upon the slightest deviation from the rules of the house. One of the members was a wilder specimen of humanity than even our legislative bodies at home have ever presented to an admiring world. He was a re-captured African, representing New Georgia, an uncouth figure of a man, who spoke very broken English, with great earnestness, and much to the amusement of his brother counsellors and the audience generally. I regret my inability to preserve either the matter or the manner of so original an orator.

Here, as in the various other situations in which I have seen him placed, Governor Roberts acquitted himself as a dignified, manly, and sensible person. Deriving his appointment from the Society at home, he can act with more independence, in an official capacity, than if indebted to the voices of the members for his position.

15.–At sea again, on our way to Gallenas.

17.–Fell in with the English brig-of-war Ferret. Our captain went on board, and was told that she had been engaged with a large slaver, four days ago. Previous to the action, the slave-ship went to Gallenas, where the Ferret’s pinnace was at anchor. She ran alongside of the boat, with three guns out on a side, and her waist full of musketeers–a superiority of force in view of which the pinnace did not venture to attack her; and the ship took in nine hundred or a thousand slaves, and went off unmolested. At sea, she encountered the Ferret, and was fired into repeatedly by that vessel, during the night, but succeeded in making her escape. The slaver was under Portuguese colors, and is said to have been formerly the American ship Crawford, now owned by Spaniards, and bearing a Spanish name.

18.–Again came to an anchor at Monrovia.

19.–Just returned from an excursion up the St. Paul’s river. Three officers, in company with Dr. Lugenbeel, left Monrovia seasonably in the forenoon, in one of our boats, rowed–and well rowed too–by five Kroomen. Near the village, we passed from the Mesurado river through Stockton’s creek, seven or eight miles, to the St. Paul’s. Our first landing was at the public farm, where the manufacture of sugar was going on. Twelve Kroomen (whose power, in this country, is applied to as great a variety of purposes as those of steam and water in our own) were turning the mill by two long levers, walking round and round in one interminable circle, like the horse in an old-fashioned bark-mill. Three or four boys fed the mill with cane, which about a score of colonists were employed in cutting and bringing in by small armsfull, from a field in the immediate vicinity. The overseer, Mr. Moore, and a few other persons, were occupied in boiling the cane-juice. Mr. Moore informed me that sixteen Kroomen were employed on the premises, at three dollars per month, and twenty-five colonists at sixty-two and a half cents a day, besides their food. This year, they make about thirty barrels of sugar (which will cost at least twenty-five cents per pound), and two pipes of molasses. The cane, now in process of manufacture, is very small and unprofitable, all of the larger kind having been already ground. The sugar-house is a wretched building, with a thatched roof, and the sides roughly boarded like a cow-shed. There were four boilers in full bubble, and ten thousand bees in full buzz about the establishment; the insects bidding fair to hoard up more profit than the sugar-manufacturers.

Mr. Moore had accompanied the Niger expedition in the capacity of farmer, and resided nine or ten months on the model farm, without undergoing the prevalent sickness. While almost every white man perished, the colored colonists all survived. A large amount of property was left in the charge of Mr. Moore, and he returned with the expedition to England. As superintendent of the public farm, he now receives from the Colonization Society a salary of three hundred dollars.

Leaving the farm, we soon entered the St. Paul’s, a noble river, which comes rolling onward from the yet unexplored interior of the country. Following its course a mile or more towards the sea, we arrived at Maumee’s Town, a village of thirty or forty huts, where a considerable slave-trade was carried on, until broken up by the colonists under Governor Ashman. Old Maumee still resides here, and cherishes a bitter hatred against the Liberians, and all Americans and Englishmen, as having caused the ruin of her profitable commerce. The old hag was not now at home, having obeyed the custom of the country by retiring to a more secluded spot, for the purpose of nursing a sick granddaughter. The persons who remained were quite uninteresting. The only noticeable group was composed of two women, one lying flat on her face, with her head in the other’s lap. Her hair being combed out as straight as the tenacity of its curls would allow, her friend was arranging it in that fine braid with which it is customary to cover the head.

Having procured a guide, we crossed the river, and, at the mouth of Logan’s creek, exchanged our boat for a large canoe, in which we followed the windings of the deep and narrow inlet for nearly two miles. This brought us to a village of six huts. Without ceremony, we entered the dwelling of the old Queen (who was busied about her household affairs), and looked around for her grand-daughter, to see whom was the principal object of our excursion. On my former visit to Maumee’s town, four or five months ago, this girl excited a great deal of admiration by her beauty and charming simplicity. She was then thirteen or fourteen years of age, a bright mulatto, with large and soft black eyes, and the most brilliantly white teeth in the world. Her figure, though small, is perfectly symmetrical. She is the darling of the old Queen, whose affections exhaust themselves upon her with all the passionate fire of her temperament–and the more unreservedly, because the girl’s own mother is dead.

We entered the hut, as I have said, without ceremony, and looked about us for the beautiful grand-daughter. But, on beholding the object of our search, a kind of remorse or dread came over us, such as often affects those who intrude upon the awfulness of slumber. The girl lay asleep in the adjoining apartment on a mat that was spread over the hard ground, and with no pillow beneath her cheek. One arm was by her side–the other above her head–and she slept so quietly, and drew such imperceptible breath, that I scarcely thought her alive. With some little difficulty she was roused, and awoke with a frightened cry–a strange and broken murmur–as if she were looking dimly out of her sleep, and knew not whether our figures were real, or only the phantasies of a dream. Her eyes were wild and glassy, and she seemed to be in pain. While awake, there was a nervous twitching about her mouth and in her fingers; but, being again extended on the mat, and left to herself, these symptoms of disquietude passed away; and she almost immediately sank again into the deep and heavy sleep, in which we found her. As her eyes gradually closed their lids, the sunbeams, struggling through the small crevices between the reeds of the hut, glimmered down about her head. Perhaps it was only the nervous motion of her fingers; but it seemed as if she were trying to catch the golden rays of the sun and make playthings of them–or else to draw them into her soul, and illuminate the slumber that looked so misty and dark to us.

This poor, doomed girl had been suffering–no, not suffering, for, except when forcibly aroused, there appears to be no uneasiness–but she had been lingering two months in a disease peculiar to Africa. It is called the “sleepy disease,” and is considered incurable. The persons attacked by it are those who take little exercise, and live principally on vegetables, particularly cassady and rice. Some ascribe it altogether to the cassady, which is supposed to be strongly narcotic. Not improbably, the climate has much influence, the disease being most prevalent in low and marshy situations. Irresistible drowsiness continually weighs down the patient, who can be kept awake only for the few moments needful to take a little food. When this lethargy has lasted three or four months, death comes–with a tread that the patient cannot hear, and makes the slumber but a little more sound.

I found the aspect of Maumee’s beautiful grand-daughter inconceivably affecting. It was strange to behold her so quietly involved in sleep–from which it might be supposed she would awake so full of youthful life–and yet to know that this was no refreshing slumber, but a spell in which she was fading away from the eyes that loved her. Whatever might chance, be it grief or joy, the effect would be the same. Whoever should shake her by the arm–whether the accents of a friend fell feebly on her ear, or those of strangers, like ourselves, the only response would be that troubled cry, as of a spirit that hovered on the confines of both worlds, and could have sympathy with neither. And yet, withal, it seemed so easy to cry to her–“Awake! Enjoy your life! Cast off this noon-tide slumber!” But only the peal of the last trumpet will summon her out of that mysterious sleep.

On our return, we passed under the branches of the mangrove tree, and pulled some of the long fruit or seed. This singular seed is about fifteen or sixteen inches long, and in its greatest diameter not more than an inch. It is round, heavy, and pointed at both ends. When ripe, it detaches itself from a sort of acorn, to which the smaller end has been firmly joined, and falls with sufficient force to implant itself deeply in the mud. After a few days, it begins to shoot, and soon becomes a tall mangrove. This tree has many strings to its bow; for, while the seed is growing, as here described, the branches send down slender and cord-like shoots, perhaps thirty feet long, and less than an inch in thickness. These strike into the mud, and aid in giving sustenance to the tree. Thus the Mangrove presents the appearance of a large tree, supported by hundreds of lesser trunks, standing so thickly together as to be impassable for even small animals. Therein it differs from the tree described by Milton, to which it otherwise seems to bear an analogy:–

“In the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow About the mother-tree, a pillar’d shade, High overarched, and echoing walks between!”

Returning to the ship, we found it lighted up, and the Theatre about to open. The scenery has been much improved, since the last performance, and the actors are more perfect in their parts.


The Theatre–Tribute to Governor Buchanan–Arrival at Settra Kroo–Jack Purser–The Mission-School–Cleanliness of the Natives–Uses of the Palm-Tree–Native Money–Mrs. Sawyer–Influence of her Character on the Natives–Characteristics of English Merchant-Captains–Trade of England with the African Coast.

_March_ 21.–The scenery of the theatre having been damaged by the rain, the other night, it is spread out to dry, and will be re-painted. Much interest is felt in the Drama, and the exertions of the performers are rewarded with full houses nightly. Some of the actors have evidently trodden other boards than these. Among two hundred men, many of whom have led wild and dissipated lives on shore, it is easy to suppose that enough are familiar with the theatre in front of the curtain, and a few behind it. Thus a tolerable company has been collected, needing only a few female recruits to render it perfect. The dresses and scenery were procured by general subscription, and are showy as well as appropriate; and many a manager might deem himself fortunate to engage the whole corps, with wardrobe and decorations included, for a summer campaign. On board ship, our buskined heroes are of more importance than Booth, Forrest, or Macready ashore, as affording amusement to a set of fellows who would have precious little of it, without this resource.

22.–At 3 P.M. up anchor for the leeward, and stand off with a good breeze.

23.–We have passed Bassa Cove, merely sending in some letters by a Kroo-canoe, which boarded us. A considerable settlement of colonists is established here. Many of their houses are visible along the shore, while two smaller villages, in the immediate vicinity, are concealed by the woods. The bar at this place has a bad reputation; several boats having been swamped in passing it. In 1836, ten persons, including a midshipman and purser’s clerk, were drowned here, by the capsizing of a boat belonging to the frigate Potomac.

At Bassa Cove, in 1842, died Thomas Buchanan, Governor of Liberia; a man who has identified his name with the existence of the colony, by his successful exertions to promote its strength and respectability. No other person had done so much to impress the natives with awe and respect for the colonists, and to give Liberia an independent position in the eyes of foreigners. A year before his death, it was my good fortune to be a shipmate of this great and excellent man; for great and excellent I do not hesitate to call him, although the remoteness of his sphere of action has left his name comparatively obscure. Like all who came in contact with him, I was deeply impressed with his pure, high, determined, and chivalric character. In a grove, near the village, he selected a spot for his burial; and there rest the remains of a finished gentleman, an accomplished scholar, a fearless soldier, a wise legislator, an ardent philanthropist, and a sincere Christian. So long as Liberia shall have a history, Governor Buchanan will be remembered in it. Honor to his ashes!

24.–Sunday. No service to-day, in consequence of a heavy rain, which commenced at nine in the morning, and continued till one in the afternoon. In the evening, four or five miles from land, we were boarded by the mate of an English brig, at anchor off Grand Botton. He seemed a well-disposed, off-hand man, telling us, among other things, that he had run away from the U.S. schooner Enterprise, in the Pacific ocean, four years ago. This was rather a hazardous communication to make, on the deck of a national vessel; and it so happened that one of our lieutenants was in the Enterprise, at the time referred to, and remembered the circumstance and the man. However, as he had put confidence in us, we did not molest him.

25.–Anchored at Settra Kroo.

26.–Ashore, and dined upon roasted oysters, in a native hut. A large, shrewd Krooman, Jack Purser by name, seems to be the most important private individual here. He is the great tradesman of the place, and very accommodating in his mode of transacting business. We saw a specimen of his dealings with the natives. Being told that we wanted wood, he sent intelligence through the town; and, directly, many women and girls flocked to his house, each with a bundle of wood upon her head, which she deposited near the door. After twenty or thirty loads had been brought, Jack Purser came forth with a bundle of tobacco under his arm, and threw the price of each load upon the wood, one, two, or three leaves of tobacco, according to its size. There was no haggling, as is invariably the case when a white man is the customer, but all assented to the decision of the trademan. Jack Purser is a man of fortune, if the number of his wives, twenty-nine, be a criterion.

I saw a native doctor making his “greegree,” or charm, for rain. There were two large mortars, with leaves, bark, and roots, in each, and a long vine extending from one to the other. Into these mortars he poured water, until it ran over.

27.–Dined on shore, at Mrs. Sawyer’s. The repast consisted of bits of mutton in palm-butter, mutton roasted, rice, palm-cabbage, chicken, and papaw, with coffee, but no wine. There are thirty children in the Mission-school, mostly boys, who show considerable aptitude for learning. It is an obstacle in the way of educating girls, that many of them are betrothed before entering school, and, just when their progress begins to be satisfactory, their husbands claim them and take them away. Mr. Wilson adopted the plan of taking the pair of betrothed ones; and, after pursuing their studies in unison (doubtless including the conjugation of the verb, to love), they left the school together.

One of the scholars, a little fellow called Robert Soutter, took a strange fancy to me, and followed everywhere at my heels, expressing a strong wish to accompany me to Big America. When we returned to the ship, he actually jumped into the boat, without saying a word, and came off, ready for the voyage. To be sure, there were few preparations requisite to rig him out. A handkerchief about his loins comprised all the earthly goods of Robert Soutter.

The houses at Settra Kroo are often two stories high, with piazzas round the whole. The entrance to the upper story is by a ladder from without. Like other native houses, they are built with bamboo, and thatched. There being a war with other portions of the Kroo-people, the Beachmen have been obliged to plant cassada in the town itself, instead of the neighboring fields. Hence high fences are necessary to keep out the cattle; and these, being irregular, make it a kind of labyrinth for a stranger. The place is one of the best on the coast for watering ships, in the dry season. A large stream of sweet and clear water runs through a grove of palm-trees, to the sea. Hither come all the women of the village, in the old scriptural fashion, with the water-jar, holding three or four gallons, on the head. The consumption of water by the natives is very great. Whether it be part of their religious ritual, I know not–although cleanliness is in itself a religion–but the whole population wash themselves from head to foot, at least twice a day, in fresh water, when to be procured. These naked people, however, are as much averse as ourselves to being wet by the rain; and every man of consequence has his umbrella, to protect him both from sun and shower.

Palm-trees are more abundant here, than in any place which I have visited on the coast. No tree, as has been said a thousand times, is so useful as the palm. It gives a good shade, and is pleasing as an ornamental tree. The palm-nut is very palatable and nutritious for food, and likewise affords oil, the kernel as well as the pulpy substance being available for that purpose. Palm-wine is the sap of the tree; and its top furnishes a most delicious dish, called palm-cabbage. The trunk supplies fire-wood, and timber for building fences. From the fibres of the wood is manufactured a strong cordage, and a kind of native cloth; and the leaves, besides being used for thatching houses, are converted into hats. If nature had given the inhabitants of Africa nothing else, this one gift of the palm-tree would have included food, drink, clothing, and habitation, and the gratuitous boon of beauty, into the bargain.

I have procured some of the country-money. It is more curious than convenient. The “Manilly,” worth a dollar and a half, would be a fearful currency to make large payments in, being composed of old brass kettles, melted up, and cast in a sand-mould. The weight is from two to four pounds; so that the circulation of this country may be said to rest upon a pretty solid metallic basis. The “Buyapart,” valued at twenty-five cents, is a piece of cloth four inches square, covered thickly over with the small shells called cowries, sewed on. The other currency consists principally in such goods as have an established value. Brass kettles, cotton handkerchiefs, tobacco, guns, and kegs of powder, are legal tender. [Footnote: Specimens of the native money have been presented by the author to the National Institute at Washington.]

29.–Mrs. Sawyer was on board yesterday. It is not without regret that we part with this interesting, energetic, and truly Christian woman. She is the only white person here, and lives alone among a tribe of savages, as safe, and perhaps more so, than in a civilized city. The occasional visits of vessels of war prevent any evil-minded person from molesting her; but she has little need of guardianship of this nature; for her own kind acts, and purity of character, will always ensure her the respect of the natives. Mrs. S. told us, that, before her husband died, the war-king of the Settra Kroos had quarrelled with him, and was his enemy at the time of his death. Not long afterwards, this war-king came to Mrs. Sawyer, and assured her of his protection and assistance to the utmost of his power, which is very great, as he commands all the fighting-men of the tribe. I know not that the power of feminine excellence has ever been more strikingly acknowledged, than by this act of an incensed and barbarous warrior. Somewhat of her influence, as well as that of the missionaries generally, is probably owing to her color. Many of the natives look with contempt on the colonists, and do not hesitate to tell them that they are merely liberated slaves. On the other hand, the colonists will never recognize the natives otherwise than as heathen. Amalgamation is scarcely more difficult between the white and colored races in America, than it is in Africa, between the “black-white” colonist and the unadulterated native.

On our arrival here, we found an English brig, whose commander has been once on board of us. He has a large assortment of trade-goods of all sorts, and his vessel is fitted up with a view to comfort in living, as well as the convenience of trade.

A native colored woman has her residence on board, as his washerwoman and stewardess, and likewise, if the captain be not belied, in a more intimate relation. To-day, also, came in another English brig, the master of which has a female companion, filling the same variety of offices as the former. Many of the English trading vessels retain such persons on board, during the whole time they are on the coast. The masters, so far as we have had opportunity to observe, have generally been hard-drinking unscrupulous men. Few of them hesitate to avow their readiness to furnish slavers with goods, equally with any other purchasers, if they can make their profit, and get their pay. There is great jealousy among the traders, and much underhand work to get the business from each other. They have native trade-men in their interest, all along the coast, watching their rivals, and preparing to take any advantage that may offer. Profound secrecy is observed as to their movements and intentions. The crews of some vessels are seldom allowed to visit the shore, lest they should give information about the affairs of the master.

Not a few of the reports about American slavers spring from this jealousy of trade. The masters of English merchant-vessels, jealous of the Americans, and desirous to engross the trade to themselves, report them to the British cruisers as suspicious vessels. The cruiser, if he give too ready credence to the calumny, will probably overhaul the American, and perhaps break up his voyage; he being, nevertheless, as honest as any trader on the coast. But the ends of the Englishman are answered; he sells his cargo, and cares little about the diplomatic correspondence that may ensue, and the possible embroilment of the two nations.

English vessels far outnumber all others on the coast. Dr. Madden, the commissioner to examine the condition of the British colonial settlements, reports the total imports into England from the West Coast of Africa, in 1836, at L800,000. In 1840, the exports of British products to Africa amounted to L492,128, in the transportation of which, 72,000 tons of shipping were employed. The government and people of England are giving great attention to this coast, as an important theatre of trade.

A committee of the House of Commons, in 1842, made extensive and minute inquiries into the subject, and published a great mass of interesting information. They recommended, that the Crown should resume the jurisdiction of several forts, on the Gold Coast, which have been given up to a committee of merchants; and that there be new settlements established, and block-houses erected at various points.

The English have lost the gum-trade, by the French subsidizing the King of the Trazars, who holds the key to the gum-country; and the mahogany-trade has been destroyed by that of Honduras, the wood from which is of a better quality. The experiment on the part of the English, of carrying African rice to compete with that of America, has likewise failed.

The subject of American Trade with the west of Africa is so important, that it may be well to devote a separate chapter to some account of its nature, and the methods of carrying it on.


American Trade–Mode of Advertising, and of making Sales–Standard of Commercial Integrity–Dealings with Slave-Traders–Trade with the Natives–King’s “Dash”–Native Commission-Merchants–The Gold Trade-The Ivory Trade–The “Round Trade”–Respectability of American Merchant-Captains–Trade with the American Squadron.

More vessels come to the coast of Africa from Salem than from any other port in the United States; although New York, Boston, and Providence, all have their regular traders. Some of these trade chiefly to Gambia or Sierra Leone; others to Gallinas, Monrovia and down the coast, touching at different points. Others, again, go to the Gaboon river, and the islands of Princes and St. Thomas; and some stretch still farther south, to Benguela, and beyond. Most American vessels bring provisions, such as flour, ship-bread, beef, pork, and hams, which are bought chiefly by the European or American colonists. The natives, however, are yearly acquiring a taste for them. The market being often overstocked, this part of the trade is precarious. Other exports are furniture, boots and shoes, wooden clocks, and all articles of American manufacture, or such as are used among civilized men. All the vessels bring New England rum, leaf-tobacco, powder, guns, large brass pans, and cotton cloth. On these points, a great deal of correct information has been given by Dr. Hall, and may be found in some of the numbers of the African Repository.

The mode of trading has some peculiarities. On arriving at a civilized settlement, the captain sends his “list” ashore to some resident merchant. This list contains a schedule of his cargo, with the prices of each article annexed, and the kind of pay required. Some take only cash. Most vessels, however, take the productions of the country at a stipulated price; for instance, camwood at, say, sixty dollars per ton, palm-oil, at twenty-five to thirty-three cents per gallon, ivory, ground or peanuts, gold dust, and gum. At the Cape de Verd islands, salt, goat-skins, and hides, are the chief commodities received in exchange; at Gambia, hides; at Monrovia, Cape Palmas, and other settlements in Liberia, camwood and palm-oil are the great staples. There is likewise some ivory, but not in large quantity. On the Gold Coast, the trade is in gold-dust and palm-oil; at the Gaboon, in ivory and gold-dust,–and at Benguela, in gum.

The “list” being put up conspicuously in the merchant’s store (such being the method of advertising in Liberia, where the newspapers are not made use of, for this purpose), the traders, purchasers, and idlers, come to see what is for sale. The store becomes, for the time being, the public Exchange of the settlement, where people assemble, not merely with commercial views, but to hear the intelligence from abroad, and to diffuse it thence throughout the country. In due time, the captain comes on shore with his samples, and individual purchasers bargain for what they want. The captain receives payment, whether in cash or commodities, and weighs the camwood, or measures the palm-oil, at the merchant’s store. If credit be given, the merchant is responsible, and receives a perquisite of five per cent on all sales. The captain takes up his residence on shore, and sends for goods from his vessel, as they are wanted; while the mate and crew remain on board, to despatch and receive the cargo. Every vessel has in its employ several Kroomen, by whom all the boat-service is performed.

When the demand for goods appears to have ceased, the captain either takes his unsold cargo away, or leaves a portion to be disposed of in his absence, and sets sail for another settlement. Here the same process is gone through with, and so on, until the cargo is sold. The captain then turns back, touching at the several places where he has left goods, to receive the proceeds, and thence home to America, for a new cargo. Regular traders have numerous orders to fill up, from persons resident on the coast; taking care, of course, to allow themselves a good profit for their trouble and freight. The trade with the colonists is easy and sufficiently plain; the only difficulty being the somewhat essential one of obtaining payment. Colonial traders, in abundance, are eager to buy on credit; but, possessing little or no capital, they often fail to satisfy their