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  • 1807
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Seed beads, ditto 1
Battery ditto 1
1 Mandingo kettle 1
1 dozen of hardware 3
1 bason 1
1 ton of salt 60
1 fine hat 3
Tobacco, 6lb. to 1
Rum, per gallon 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Mandingo Arabic_.

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

The address to Mahomet follows,

Sahadala elahe idillaha
Mahomedo, arasoolo lahi
man Mahomedo aboodaho.

_In their idiom of English._

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

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

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

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

To Mahomet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The factories of trade in this river are,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No. I.

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

_London, 5th February, 1807._


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No. II.

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

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


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

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

In the first place, permit me to solicit your Lordships’ attention to the estimate of annual export from the Windward Coast of Africa. (Vide page 54.)