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A Voyage Round the World, Vol. I (of ?) by James Holman

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thither, under the command of Lieutenant Nott. There was, at one
period, so much sickness at Sierra Leone, that this young man (then an

_Thursday, September 20th_.--Very fine weather. Accompanied Mr.
Macauley in a ride on horseback, through the grass-field, to a village
called Portuguese Town, and round Barrack Hill, passing the new, and
afterwards the old burying-ground, &c. The grass-field is said to be
that part of Sierra Leone, which is the principal cause of the
unhealthiness of the town, it being, in heavy rains, partly covered
with water; however, there are other causes in addition to this, that
are said to contribute to the unhealthiness of the place. One of these
is a belt of wood on the hill above the town; which must considerably
impede the current of air, and, if this was cleared and cultivated, it
would greatly improve the salubrity of the place; but, I fear, the
greatest evil of all is insurmountable, under existing circumstances,
as it is not within the control of the colonists. This is the low
marshy land that lies on the other side of the bay, and directly
opposite the town, called the Boollam shore, where a friend of mine
(Lieutenant George Maclean, Royal African Corps, who is, at present, at
the head of the Council at Cape Coast) went a few months before my
arrival, on an important mission from the Governor of Sierra Leone, to
be present at, and thereby countenance and confirm their choice in, the
election of a king.

The origin of the connection between our colony at Sierra Leone, and
the natives of the Boollam territory is very interesting, and will form
an appropriate introduction to a sketch of Lieutenant Maclean's visit
during the election of a King.

In the year 1804, the colony of Sierra Leone was attacked by the Native
Powers, and a body of blacks to the northward of the Boollam
territories was put in motion for the purpose of assisting the other
native tribes in overwhelming the white population at Freetown. The
King, or Chief of the North, (or, as they call themselves, the Sherbro
Boollams,) who has since been known by the name of King George, and
through whose territories the hostile tribes must needs pass, being a
firm ally of the King of Great Britain, declared that on no account
whatever would he permit them to pass through his country to attack a
British settlement: and he carried his point so effectually as to
render the expedition fruitless. In consequence of the determined and
friendly conduct of this Prince, a deputation of whites from Freetown
was despatched to him, with an invitation to visit Sierra Leone, which
invitation he accepted. While at Freetown, he was crowned with all
solemnity by the name of King George. He continued on the most amicable
terms with the Government of Sierra Leone until his death, which took
place the 19th of May, 1826, at the advanced age, it is said, of
upwards of one hundred years, a point which it would be difficult to
ascertain accurately, as these people are entirely ignorant of their
own ages. Since this period the throne of the Boollams has been vacant;
it being now, however, the intention of the people to proceed to the
choice of a King, according to their custom; and it being deemed of
considerable importance from the vicinity of Boollam to Sierra Leone,
that a person should be elected who was known to be friendly to the
English settlement, it was determined by his Excellency the Governor
that a person should be sent as a commissioner to be present at the
election and coronation; whose duty it should be to support the claims
and secure the election of a person known to the English by the name of
Macaulay Wilson, who, being a near relation of the late King George,
and having been educated in England, being also a man of considerable
abilities, was deemed in every way worthy of the throne.

The election of Macaulay Wilson having been accomplished, it would then
become the duty of the Commissioner, on the part of the English
Government to use every means in his power to induce the new King, with
the numerous chiefs and head men, to accede to, and sign, a convention,
whereby the sovereignty of Boollam was to be ceded to the King of Great
Britain, under certain limitations and restrictions specified in the
treaty. The attainment of this point, would, of course, be attended
with great difficulty; but it had become of the utmost importance for
the suppression of the slave trade that the attempt should be made; for
slave dealers who were actually carrying on their traffic in Freetown,
upon the least alarm, removed to Boollam with their unfortunate
victims, and being then out of British territory were in perfect
security. The following is Lieutenant Maclean's personal narrative of
his mission.

"_Yougroo, Boollam, March 3rd, 1827_.

"I left Freetown tins morning in the Government barge, with Mr. S. (a
person appointed to accompany me as interpreter) and arrived in the
course of the evening at the Boollam shore. On landing I proceeded to
Yougroo, called by the late King, George Town, where I was received by
the King _(esse)_, by Dalmahoumedii, a powerful Mandingo chief, with a
number of other chiefs, and headmen.

"There was a very good house (constructed after the country fashion)
assigned us as a place of residence. After taking possession, I was
visited by the different chiefs and head men, who came to pay their
respects, or, as they phrase it, to do service to me, as representing
the Governor of Sierra Leone. These consisted principally of Boollam
chiefs, who had seldom left their own country; and a few,
notwithstanding their vicinity to a white colony, who had scarce ever
seen a white man before. There were, also, not a few Mandingo chiefs,
who had acquired property and influence in Boollam, and which was
daily increasing. These Mandingoes are possessed of considerable
intelligence and great cunning, by which means, and by the genius of
their religion (Mahommedan), they invariably, though gradually,
acquire the superiority over the native rulers of those countries in
which they choose to settle. In Boollam this was becoming very
apparent; and as the Mandingo chiefs are all either covertly or
openly, supposed to be engaged in the slave trade, and consequently
opposed to the English Government, I was instructed particularly to
guard against, and to oppose their interest in the election of the
King. Dalmahoumedii, whom I mentioned above, is the principal Mandingo
chief in Boollam, and is by far the best informed man that I had seen
here. He is even well conversant in European politics. He is a man of
large property, and has a town of his own, called Madina, inhabited
entirely by Mandingoes.

"For the ground-rent of this town and neighbourhood, he pays a nominal
duty to the king of the Boollams, as his superior, although, in fact,
his power and influence in the country is nearly equal to the king's
own. On the day of my arrival, he sent me, ready cooked, in the
European style, an excellent dinner, of which I, of course, could not
do less than ask him to partake. Although a Mahommedan, he drank wine
freely, in compliment, as he said, to me, although I could perceive
that he enjoyed it exceedingly. He told me, in the course of
conversation (carried on principally through an interpreter) that he
had, at that time, no fewer than 85 wives. His brother, who had died
some time previously, left 75 wives, all of whom he was entitled, by
the custom of his country, to have married; he told me, however, that
he only chose 45 of them, all of whom he wedded in one day. In the
evening a number of these ladies favoured us with their company, some
of whom were very fine women. They also seemed to drink their wine
with great relish.

"Rejoicings commenced at sunset, and continued during the whole night.
I had a guard of honour placed over my residence, to prevent intrusion
during the night; which, however, I found it impossible to prevent
altogether, as during the election and coronation of a king, the laws
'sleep,' nor can any crime, short of murder or an attempt to murder,
be punished during that space of time, which generally extends to 14
or 16 days. The natural consequence of this is, that all the most idle
and worthless of the neighbouring nations, or tribes, flock to a place
where they can practise all manner of crimes with impunity. Many
persons, particularly minstrels, or bards, had walked upwards of 400
miles from the interior, to be present at the election about to take
place at Yougroo.

"The town of Yougroo, I was told, generally contained but about 500 or
600 inhabitants, although, during the election, &c. there must have
been, at least, 5000 or 6000 persons present.

"The mourners for the deceased king, of whom there are 16 in number,
are the most extraordinary figures that can possibly be conceived. One
half of their faces (the upper half) is painted white, forming a
hideous contrast with their black countenances. The mourners
(literally 'makers of the cry,' i.e. lament) are appointed immediately
on the death of the king,[13] and continue their functions until the
election of a new king takes place, however long it may be before that
event may happen. They are generally girls of from ten to fourteen
years of age, and are, while mourners, held sacred and inviolate.

"_Sunday, March 4th_.--This day was appointed for the formal election
of a successor to the throne of King George. By noon, the whole of the
chiefs and headmen were assembled in the Palaver House, when the
Regent, or person appointed to administer the government during the
_interregnum_, proposed, in a speech of some length, John Macaulay
Wilson to be the future King of the Boollams. Previous to this, a
deputation had been sent requesting my presence. I accordingly
attended in full dress, along with Mr. S----. The Regent's speech, as
literally translated by my interpreter, and immediately after noted
down by me, was as follows:--

"'We have now met, headmen and brethren, to perform a great duty, and
to exercise a great privilege. It becomes our duty to elect a
successor to our vacant throne, "the cry" (i.e. the mourning) being
about to close. We have now no king; if we look to his hearth, there
is no one there; if we call upon our king, no one answers; thus are
we, as children without a father; as a family without a head; whom
then shall we choose to sit in the seat of our late venerable king?
Who shall walk in the footsteps of him, whose sayings were the sayings
of wisdom, and out of whose mouth proceeded justice: whom, I say,
shall we elect, but his own son[14], who listened to him when alive,
and who will not forget him now that he is dead?

"'You have long known this person; and you know that he will not bring
disgrace upon your choice; but that he will do those things which a
King of the Boollams ought to do; that he will discourage wickedness,
encourage the righteous, and do justice to all men; I therefore
propose that John Macaulay Wilson be elected King of the
Boollams.'[15] The speaker of the above was an old man, highly
respected by all classes, named, 'Nain Banna.' It becomes his duty,
immediately on the king's death, to assume the government as Regent;
he is, however, on that account ineligible for the throne.

"After some conversation among the chiefs, consisting principally of
tributes of praise to the late king, it was formerly announced to me,
'that John Macaulay Wilson was elected King of the Boollams:--that he
held the Boollam Country in the palm of his hand:--and that the scales
of justice hung upon his finger,' I was also entreated to report to
his Excellency the Governor of Sierra Leone, the choice they had made,
and their hopes that it would meet with his approbation. The people
expecting that I should address them, I rose, and by my interpreter,
said, 'that I should not fail to report to my master, His Excellency
the Governor of Sierra Leone, the good order and unanimity which had
prevailed in the assembly; that I had no doubt but His Excellency
would approve of the object of their choice that day; that from what I
had heard of their new king, I had no doubt, but that he would justify
the confidence they had placed in him; and I trusted that the same
good sense and attention to the true interests of their country, which
they had shewn that day, would guide all their future deliberations.
In conclusion, I begged leave to congratulate them, on having chosen
such a ruler; and to congratulate their king, on the distinction that
day conferred upon him.'

"The day closed as usual with every manner of licentiousness.

"_Monday, March 5th_.--This being the day appointed for the
inauguration of the new king, it was ushered in with the firing of
musketry and other demonstrations of joy. At 10 A.M. the chiefs and
headmen assembled, and immediately proceeded to the performance of
certain mysteries, which take place in the depths of the bush; and to
which the initiated only are admitted.

"At noon they emerged from the bush, having the new king with them;
whom they now regarded as a complete stranger, providentially sent
them from heaven to be their ruler.

"A deputation now requested my presence at the Palaver House, to which
they were then conducting the king; the headmen and people dancing
around him, as he passed through the streets, in the most fantastic
manner. On my arrival the late Regent pronounced a very long harangue
in the Boollam language, which was repeated sentence by sentence in
the Mandingo and English by the respective interpreters. In this
speech, which however I did not note down, Nain Banna rehearsed what
had from time immemorial been the practice of the Boollams, in cases
such as the present, and declared that all the rites and mysteries
proper for the occasion, had been duly performed. He then pronounced a
long encomium on the virtues of their late king, and concluded by
paying his respects to the new king, and myself, respectively, which
he ended with the highest term of respect which the Boollams
know:--'May you live for ever.'

"He then requested permission to introduce to the assembly, a stranger
whom they were in future to revere, 'King Bey Sherbro;'[16] after
which, Bey Sherbro received the homage of his subjects. During this
time a number of minstrels played upon their several instruments, some
of which were very ingenious and musical. Those in particular, who had
come a long distance from the interior, executed with spirit and taste
some very beautiful airs; much finer, indeed, than any native music I
had yet heard. They accompanied their instruments with extempore
recitatives in praise of those chiefs whom they knew. I was, of
course, included, as they expected that I would be inclined to reward
them handsomely. Each minstrel of any repute had a person attached to
him by way of fool or jester, several of whom acted their parts very
well, and strongly reminded me of Shakspeare's clowns.

"Dalmahoumedii was in the assembly, surrounded by a number of
followers, but he appeared to feel that he had lost ground. He took
no part in the proceedings.

"If it were fair to estimate the character of a people, by their
conduct during a period of unbounded license, I should say that they
were generally, almost universally, a nation of thieves, idlers, and
drunkards. It was with difficulty, indeed, I could preserve my own
private stock of wines, &c. I was assured, however, that such is not
their general character, although they are, no doubt, like all
Africans, extremely indolent and attached to the old customs of their
country. To even the most absurd and superstitious of these, they
cling with such tenacity, that it would be a work of incalculable
labour, and of many years, to induce them to abandon them altogether,
even after they should be made conscious of their absurdity and
barbarity. The European Missionaries of the present day would never
do it. It was attempted some years ago with much zeal, but there is
not at this moment, I believe, a single convert to Christianity in
Boollam, to reward the labour, or repay the expense, which was
lavished on that object. But a very different success has attended
the efforts of the disciples of Mahommed in propagating the doctrines
of the crescent. Not only in Boollam, but in all the neighbouring
districts; even in the Peninsula of Sierra Leone itself, there are
twenty converts to the crescent, for one to the cross; and the reason
is obvious; the Christian Missionaries begin at the wrong end; they
insist upon first making people Christians, and then morality and
civilization, they say, follow as matters of course: and they present
Christianity in its most inattractive form, to men accustomed to the
uncontrollable indulgence of their passions. The Mahommedans know the
genius of the people better, and without altering the spirit of their
religion, they exhibit it in a manner exactly suited to that genius,
as far as regards externals; and in such a form, that the adoption of
it even flatters the vanity of the convert. Thus, in the article of
dress, the Mahommedans have a peculiar or distinguishing cap; to be
entitled to wear which, is, in itself, a matter very flattering to
the vanity of the young worshipper of the crescent; and I am
convinced, that were it incumbent upon Christians to wear in public a
red cross on the shoulder or hat, that it would be the means of
drawing many to listen to the doctrines of Christianity: and really I
can see no sin in the means thus adopted.

"This evening I despatched the barge to Sierra Leone, with an account
of our progress, and requesting the Convention to be immediately
transmitted, together with the usual presents to be given to the new
King and chiefs. In the mean time every measure was taken, and
argument used (with occasional presents), to induce the chiefs and
headmen to consent to the cession of the sovereignty of the country
to Great Britain.

"_Tuesday, March 6th_.--This morning I walked out to make a few
observations, and to form some idea of the capabilities of the
Boollam country. What struck me, in the first instance, was the great
fertility, and natural beauty of the surrounding country, which it
was really painful to contrast with the extreme ignorance and
indolence of its inhabitants. There is not, perhaps, a country under
Heaven more calculated to repay the exertions of industry, from the
richness and fertility of the soil; as also from the flatness of the
country, which would prevent the soil from being carried away by the
rains when cleared of the bush. It is in my opinion far more adapted
for agricultural purposes than the Sierra Leone side of the bay.
Spices of almost every description grow naturally and in abundance;
and it would require but little capital, with industry, to make the
soil produce sugar, coffee, tobacco, and indigo in great plenty. In
short, the produce of the Boollam country might, without very great
labour be made to rival that of either our East or West India
possessions, in fact almost every article imported into Great Britain
from either is indigenous to this soil. The indolent and lazy
natives, however, cultivate little excepting rice. The articles
procured from the British settlement at Sierra Leone, such as
fire-arms, gunpowder, tobacco, rum, &c. are got in exchange for
timber, and occasionally labour.

"During my residence in Boollam, it frequently struck me, that a
British Settlement on the Boollam coast would be highly desirable,
say at Madina. For the reasons stated above, I am almost certain that
practical agriculture would soon become prevalent, inasmuch as it
would soon become profitable. Another, and a very strong inducement
to settlers would be, that Madina, and indeed the whole range of the
Boollam coast, is very healthy. What is called the _country fever_ in
Sierra Leone, is scarcely known in Boollam.

"To-day five or six of the mourners came to do service to me, which
they performed by bending their heads to the earth, and, in that
position, moaning in a low tone the praises of the deceased King,
mixed with compliments to myself.

"At midnight I received letters from Sierra Leone, by which I had the
satisfaction of learning that His Excellency approved of my measures.

"_Wednesday, March 7th_.--This day I succeeded in removing the
numberless evasions and objections urged by the chiefs against the

"In effecting this measure Mr. S----'s exertions were of the greatest

"In the evening we were a good deal amused by the natives fishing on
the beach. They caught a great number of fish, such as snappers,
cat-fish, soles, sharks, &c.

"_Thursday 8th_.--This day the convention arrived, and the blanks
being filled up, and the treaty solemnly signed and ratified, I had
the satisfaction on _Friday, March 9th, 1827_, of hoisting the
British flag, and of taking possession of Boollam in the name of His
Britannic Majesty."

Such is the narrative of Lieutenant Maclean, respecting a people whose
habits are as peculiar as his account of them must be interesting to

_September 21st, 1827_.--On this day I attended the Court, to
hear the trial to which I have already alluded. It was a case of
adultery, and the parties were all free blacks. The action was brought
by a carpenter against the Rev. Samuel Thorpe, a preacher at one of
the Independent chapels, for criminal conversation with his wife; and,
as I have a copy from the records of the Court, I think it will be
much more satisfactory to insert the document in full, than to
supersede it by any desultory remarks of my own. It will give a clear
and characteristic idea of the state of society amongst these people.
The occurrence was so unusual, that it created no small astonishment,
that such a case should be brought into Court. The following is the
address of the plaintiff's counsel, and the verdict.


"Gentlemen of the Jury,

"I bespeak your attention and indulgence. I am not only this day the
advocate of my client, but I am lending my humble efforts to defend,
perhaps I ought to say, assert, the divine right and sacredness of the
social compact of marriage, the palladium of every married man's
family, happiness and comfort. I will remind you, gentlemen of the
jury, that this is the first action of the kind that has been tried on
these boards since the colony has been ceded to the British
crown.--Among you, gentlemen of the jury, I see fathers, brothers, and
husbands, to all I appeal this day on behalf of my client, and of this
colony. Shew the world this day, by your verdict, that you will not
suffer with impunity the foul crime of adultery to be committed in the
face of a rising family; shew the value in which you hold the solemn
engagements of your female relatives; let your verdict warn the
seducer that he dare not trespass on any man's honour, or blight with
apathy, for one moment, any pleasure or gratification of his conjugal

"It has been too common in actions of this kind, for the defendant to
treat with contumely the humble situation of the injured prosecutor. I
do not apprehend much from any such attempt in this cause. I
acknowledge, gentlemen, that my client is a very humble individual,
but he is a respectable and an honest man, by trade a carpenter. I
see, gentlemen, on your countenances, that his humble lot shall not
deprive him from having his happiness considered as dear to him as to
any man, and equally inviolate; for you need not be told, that the
comforts and happiness of the rich and the poor originate from one
source: as it is not necessary to be rich to feel with acuteness the
pain to which our weak frames are subject, or to enjoy with zest the
most pleasurable sensations, so the poor possess the same advantages;
indeed, it is the poor to whom family happiness must be the greatest
solace! the rich have various resources to derive comfort from; the
poor seldom more than centres in their family. But before I attempt to
describe to you the sufferings of my client, I shall enter rather
minutely into the actual situation in life in which the plaintiff and
defendant in this action are placed: if unnecessary to some of you,
yet there may be others who naturally demand this explanation should
be given; I trust this will be admitted as my apology.

"I will begin with the defendant; because, indeed, gentlemen, he is
the more highly favoured man; I mean, gentlemen, that Providence has
blessed him with a much greater share of this world's goods; he is
known to man by the solemn designation of the Rev. Samuel Thorpe; yes,
gentlemen, the defendant in this action, for criminal conversation
with the wife of my client, is, or very lately was, a preacher of
morality; an expounder of that divine doctrine which inculcates the
precept, 'Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you;' he is
a gentleman, who, beholding with horror the degeneracy of the times,
and believing, no doubt, it required some extraordinary exertions to
recall us unto virtue, has voluntarily, for no idea of gain, or means
of livelihood, publicly devoted his talents to the pulpit. Such
conduct, if we had not other most opposite circumstances to disclose,
would have called forth our admiration and applause; for, gentlemen,
the pulpit, in the sober use of its legitimate peculiar powers, must
stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand,

"The most important and effectual guard,
Support and ornament of virtue's cause.

"The defendant, gentlemen, is also a rich man; he is, to say the
least, in very easy circumstances; we see, in this colony, several
valuable possessions of his; and we behold, at one of his houses, a
store from which is retailed valuable merchandise. The defendant,
gentlemen, I am instructed to say, is verging towards the decline of
life; to have arrived at those years, when the hey-day of the blood
might well be expected to have gone by, and that, while he preached
morality, he would find no constitutional impediment to prevent his
practising it. I am persuaded, gentlemen, that, if a cause of the
present nature had been brought before you, in which the defendant had
been a young unmarried man, you would have made some allowance for the
infatuation of his youthful passions; but when, as in the present
instance, we find experienced age; the well-informed man; the
promulger of that divine law, which denounces everlasting punishment
to the adulterer, is brought before you, charged, although a married
man, with this offence, I feel I must, indeed, commit an act of
injustice to you all, if I did not declare, that, in such a case, I am
convinced your feeling's cannot be otherwise than aroused to visit
such a criminal with your vengeance.

"My instructions suggest to me more than I will utter; yet, I must
confess, that I have been struck with the sacred profession of the
defendant, and the pertinacity with which it appears he committed the
offence against my client, for which you are now called upon to award
him the only remuneration the law allows; I cannot refrain from
asserting my belief, that the defendant's feelings must have been
strangely perverted; he, doubtless, made his full calculation upon his
outward profession, and his inward inclinations, and, I believe, I do
him no more than justice, when I put into his mouth, and suppose by
him uttered in his private moments, the expression used by an arch
hypocrite of former days:

"I sigh, and with a piece of scripture,
Tell them God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odds and ends stol'n forth of Holy Writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

"I regret, very much regret, gentlemen of the jury, I am thus obliged
as a faithful advocate before you; but I have still another feature
to disclose, and here I must declare, that it has astonished me more
than I shall attempt to describe. I alluded before, gentlemen, to
the circumstance of the defendant's being a married man. Yes! he
has a wife living in Freetown, whom (from fear she should take a
right from his substance) he has turned out upon the world! to the
generosity--the kindness--of the stranger! surely we may infer that he
may be left at home with more ample means to gratify his passions. He
has also no children; this I am sorry for on his account; surely he
would have paused before he would have offered them such an example;
before he would systematically set about the seduction of a woman,
surrounded even by her grand-children.

"I turn now to my client; but, indeed, I have little more to add
respecting him. He is poor, because he has many claims on his
industry; his wife has born him several children; and some of these
children are grown up, and married, and in their turn have children;
the connexion between the plaintiff and his wife has therefore been of
long standing, in fact on their entrance into life they became
attached to each other. The connexion was not for several years
sanctioned by the rites of our religion, but it was not less a
marriage; the assent of the heart was complete, and it has been
sanctioned by what the parties thought binding; further ceremony could
only add more publicity to the engagement. Yet after many years mutual
intercourse, they resolved to give that intercourse every tie, and
were consequently legally married according to the rites of the Church
of England. I mention these particulars because I apprehend my learned
friend will set about pulling their family history to pieces, and
endeavour to shew that my client and his wife might have had some
little family jars; be it so, gentlemen, let him make the endeavour: I
will tell him that their jars are the pleasures of the married life;
they are the tornadoes of the marriage state, which clear away the
mists and fogs, that, alas, will at times intrude themselves, to make
the succeeding calm more susceptible of enjoyments; I warn you I speak
by experience; and my learned friend Samo, on this sacred subject, can
offer nothing but theory; think, gentlemen, how dearly they must have
valued each other, when after a lapse of many years--after all their
little storms of life--they yet resolve to make their union
indissoluble, by adding thereto the celebration of those rites of our
church, which has for its maxim 'that those whom God has thus joined
together no man shall put asunder.'

"Contrast this with the conduct of the defendant, his own wife an
exile from his bed and board, for no cause, except the lordly will of
the defendant. A woman, against whom scandal has not yet dared to
whisper; still, (although she has suffered much from the violent
conduct of her husband) still, I say, striking for personal
attractions and accomplishments; and is avowedly of an unspotted
character. Let the defendant, therefore, but attempt to pry further
than he has done into the private habits of my client, as regards his
wife, and I shall not hesitate still further to tear down the
beautiful appearance of adopted sanctity, simplicity, and innocence
of deportment, with which he has hedged himself round.

"My client had been often led to believe that all was not right
between his wife and the defendant, even before the time of the
criminal conversation now prosecuted for. I am aware that my learned
friend may allege that:--

"Trifles light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmation strong
As proof of holy writ;

"But, gentlemen, can you for a moment believe that there was no art,
no perseverance, no continued attention, no working on the passions
before the criminal moment; but that the victim fell at once into the
commission of the adulterous intercourse alleged? Human nature forbids
such an idea. The female mind, always timid, would think of her
ties--her husband--her children--her grand-children; and prevent her,
before, at least, all her fears. I challenge the defendant to name,
even in one slight instance, any thing in the conduct of my client's
wife, that such a ready compliance could be expected.

"On Thursday night, the 17th of May last, between nine and ten o'clock
at night, the defendant sent his lad to call Mrs. Polly Bernard to his
house. You must know, gentlemen, that Mr. Samuel Thorpe then lived
(and for aught I know does now) in the same street, and within a short
distance of the dwelling of my client, but which was then exclusively
occupied by his wife. The object of thus sending for Mrs. Bernard by
the defendant, is alleged, I am informed, for the simple purpose of
making his bed. It is really astonishing that this gentleman could not
be content to have his bed made by some of his men servants; that he
did not hire a female, considering his ample means. Now the real
object for which Mrs. Bernard was thus called to the house of the
defendant became soon apparent. After her ingress the light ceased to
throw its shade through the casement--the windows and doors were
closed upon the guilty pair. Too much cunning generally defeats its
own intention: not far distant from this scene of unhallowed pleasure
stood the keen eye of jealousy, watching the progress of the night in
order to preserve what custom had made her consider as her own. Yes,
gentlemen, Mrs. Samuel (another intimate acquaintance of the Rev.
Samuel Thorpe,) some time after Mrs. Bernard had entered the house of
the defendant, rushed to the house--knocked at the door and got
admittance. On getting inside, the only object she sought was Mrs.
Bernard. Although in the dark she called her by name--what eye so keen
as that of a jealous woman: she attacked Mrs. Bernard, as Mrs. B. sat
on the bed of Mr. Samuel Thorpe. Both females exerted themselves to
the utmost; one to the assault, the other to repel such violence. Only
conceive, gentlemen, what a fine figure for the painter and the
moralist was here exhibited; at the dark hour of night, two married
women fighting most lustily in the bed-chamber of the pious defendant;
while he (taken by surprise) kept pacing his piazza, unable to
recollect what he had best do, and trembling with fear that the
indiscreet uproar would lead to his exposure. I will pass over the
effects of excited passion, and merely inform you, that to identify
the person so as to leave no subterfuge, Mrs. Samuel carried away as
trophies of her resentment, some handkerchiefs and an ear-ring, she
had taken from Mrs. Bernard.

"Well then, gentlemen of the jury, you see the defendant, detected in
connection with the wife of one man, by the wife of another, whose
passions he had raised to jealousy by prior intercourse--whether
criminal, or not, I leave to your judgment--that is not, to-day, my
duty to decide.

"Mrs. Samuel, in the excited feelings of the moment, smarting under
the seeming neglect and vacillating conduct of the defendant, as
regarded herself, flies from house to house, spreading the dishonour
of the plaintiff; the news soon reaches the injured husband; his wife
has absconded from consciousness of guilt--he seeks her out, charges
her with her crime--she confesses it--and now, gentlemen, he is forced
to fly to you, to redress his wounded sensibility and affection."

The Jury, having heard counsel on the other side returned a verdict
for the plaintiff, damages Fifty Pounds.

The schooner Thomas arrived from England this morning after a passage
of 35 days. By her we heard of the death of Mr. Canning, which caused
an extraordinary sensation. A warm discussion sprang up among the
Freetown politicians, as to who should form the next Ministry, each
person, of course, electing a Prime Minister for himself, and making a
Cabinet after his own taste.

[10] Although these men are hired under the denomination of Kroo men,
they are generally Kroo, and Fish men, who inhabit the country between
Sierra Leone and our settlement of Cape Coast Castle.

[11] There were only nineteen prisoners in the calendar, one of whom
was a soldier, Patrick Riley, for a desperate attempt to murder a
serjeant with his bayonet. The rest of the prisoners were principally
Kroomcn, and other black fellows, for house-breaking, stealing, &c.

[12] In these cases the principal felons remained unknown.

[13] King George was the first king of Boollam, that had been allowed
to die a natural death, through fear of getting 'a palaver,' as they
term it, with Sierra Leone. Previous to this, they always despatched
their kings when they considered them about to expire, sacrificing two
human victims, whom they buried in the same grave.

[14] Meaning that the late king loved him as a son.

[15] It is but right to state, that the above speech was read over
sentence by sentence, to the person who spoke it, and that he deemed
it to be almost literally reported, and seemed much astonished that it
could have been taken down.

[16] The new appellation of John Macaulay Wilson.


Auction at Sierra Leone--Timber Establishments in the River--Tombo,
Bance and Tasso Islands--Explosion of a Vessel at Sea--Liberated
Africans--Black Ostlers--Horses Imported--Slave Vessel--Colonial Steam
Vessel--Road and Street Repairs--Continued Rains--Suggestion for
preserving the Health of European Seamen--General Views of the
Colony--Population--Parishes--Supply of Provisions--Description of
Freetown--Curious Letter from Black Labourers--Original Settlers--
Present Inhabitants--Trade with the Interior--Strange Customs of Native
Merchants--Anecdote of Sailors--Injurious Example of the Royal African
Corps--Vaccination of Natives--Medical Opinion--Departure from Sierra

_Monday, Sept. 24th_.--Still stronger signs of the breaking up of the
rainy season, more frequent heavy showers, with thunder and lightning
for the last two days. A fine morning, but squally and showery in the
afternoon. There was an auction held to-day of the effects of the late
Tasco Williams, Esq.; one peculiar feature of which is worth noting.
The persons who had assembled were hospitably entertained with bread
and cheese, and abundance of wine and spirits, with a view, no doubt,
to increase the animation and excitement of the scene. Whether the
bidders became extravagant in consequence, I do not know, but I think
it very likely; at all events I suspect that the auctioneer was trying
an experiment on the animal spirits of the company. This custom,
although by no means familiar to Englishmen, is very generally
practised in the north of England. It is probably a relique of ancient

I left Freetown, about five in the afternoon, with Mr. McCormack to
visit his timber establishment at the island of Tombo, a distance of
twenty miles up the river, which we made, with a slight breeze, in
about three hours. We passed two similar establishments, the one on
Tasso, and the other on Bance Island, of the former of which Messrs.
Babington and Macauley are the proprietors, the latter belonging to Mr.
Williams. The account I received of Mr. McCormack's enterprise was full
of interest.

When that gentleman first visited Tombo, he found the interior covered
with a dense jungle, and the shores choked up with mangroves. There was
only one solitary hut on the island near the beach, which was used as a
resting place for boats trading up the river. At that time there was a
slave factory in full occupation at Bance Island. It would be very
difficult to compute the expense, and almost impossible for persons who
are not practically acquainted with African mangroves and jungle, to
estimate the exertion and perseverance which must have been necessary
to bring this place to its present state of improvement. The wildness
of the surface has given way before the hand of industry, and that
which was some years before a wilderness of underwood, now presents an
aspect of cultivation. The whole of this point is as clear as the
streets of Freetown; and on a fine open situation, where the breeze
plays from almost every point of the compass, an excellent stone house,
with out-offices, has been erected. The site is well chosen and the
building is scarcely inferior to the best houses in Freetown. The upper
part is used as a private dwelling, and the lower part is appropriated
to storage. A good boat-house, a saw-pit, upwards of twenty plastered
huts, for the mechanics and labourers employed on the spot, and a well
cut through the solid rock, from whence excellent water is obtained,
complete the conveniences of the establishment.

Mr. McCormack does not fell any timber in the island; he merely uses
his location here as a depot for the wood which is brought down the
rivers Rokelle and Porto Logo from the upper countries. For this trade
he contracts with the natives inhabiting the lands lying near the
shores of the rivers, and the wood is floated down on rafts to Tombo,
where ships come to take in their cargoes. The African oak is so heavy
that the natives are obliged to raft it on wood of a much lighter
specific gravity. This trade is of considerable benefit both to our
colonists and the native tribes. It not only promotes a friendly
intercourse between them, but affords constant employment to great
numbers of the latter, by which they are enabled to secure many of the
comforts of civilized life, of which they must otherwise have been
destitute. It has also had the happy effect of releasing them from
vassalage, which formerly prevailed universally, and which was in some
degree necessary as a protection against the arbitrary power of the
different chiefs during the existence of the slave trade.

A statement of the annual export of timber from Tombo, since the
commencement in 1816, will shew with what rapid strides the trade has

In 1816 716 logs.
1817 7,087 do.
1818 1,341 do.
1819 2,251 do.
1820 6,271 do.
1821 4,454 do.
1822 1,429 do.
1823 4,593 do.
1824 10,093 do.
1825 22,206 do.
1826 24,456 do.

There is a mud bar across the river about one mile and a half below
Tombo; and as the depth here is not more than 14 feet at high water,
vessels ought not to load more than 13 feet before they drop below.

_Tuesday, Sept. 25th_.--Heavy rain in the night, but a fine warm day.
Soon after noon I left Tombo, and visited Bance Island. The only
objects of interest that presented themselves were the remains of an
old slave factory, and a burial ground. The road to the latter place
was by a path through a lime and orange plantation, which grew so
luxuriantly that it quite obstructed our way, and we were compelled to
have a black pioneer, who went before us with a sword to cut down the
thorny branches. In this remote and lonely place I found the following
epitaph on a tombstone, which appeared to me so curious that I caused
it to be transcribed.

Here lies The Residue of The Honourable Sea Captain, GEORGE ANDREW
HIORT, Born in Denmark, the 6th of September, 1746, Married January
8th, 1766, to the virtuous Lady Mary Catherine Schive, who, extremely
sorrowful, with two good-natured Daughters, deplores the too early
Death of this now eternally-blessed Person.

Died on the Coast of Guinea, the 15th October, 1783. His Body reposes
here, waiting for a glorious Resurrection, whilst his Soul is in the
hands of GOD, where no pain can reach.

In this place we discovered a tombstone of the date of 1680, but
unfortunately the inscription was illegible.

We made an excursion to the island of Tasso before dinner, and returned
to Bance Island where we passed the night. On approaching Tasso, we saw
a large alligator, which Mr. McCormack fired at, but apparently without
any effect. It is a well-known fact that the scales of these creatures
will turn a bullet. They abound in the river, and are very fearless
and ravenous. Some of the men belonging to the timber rafts, who
incautiously trusted themselves in the water, have been on several
occasions seized by the alligators and carried off, sometimes escaping
with the loss of a leg or an arm; at other times, when the people on
the rafts happened to sit at the sides, with their feet hanging over,
the alligators have been known to seize them by their legs and drag
them into the water. They have been taken of the enormous length of 18

_Wednesday, Sept. 26th_.--The night being very fine, we got up at
half-past two, and left Bance Island to return to Sierra Leone, where
we arrived in less than four hours, pulling the whole way, having a
very fine boat belonging to Mr. McCormack, with a crew of able bodied

Mr. McCormack related to me the following circumstance which occurred
to him in a vessel trading along the Gold Coast, and by which he was
placed in a situation of great peril. In the middle of the night he
heard a sudden cry of "Fire," and at the same moment a volume of flame
issued from the fore-hatchway; in a few seconds after another burst
forth from the main hatchway; so that before he had time to collect his
thoughts as to what ought to be done, the whole of the middle of the
vessel was in a blaze. The crew were thrown into consternation, and
speedily crowded the deck in a state of confusion, bordering on frenzy.
The despair of their situation was increased by a knowledge of the
fact, that a great quantity of gunpowder, which had been embarked for
the coast trade, was stowed below, while there was but one available
boat to get off the men before the ship should be blown into the air,
which they momently expected. But there was no time for reflection:
each man looked to his own safety, and a rush took place, through the
fire, towards the after-part of the deck, to reach the boat. The poor
fellows who thus risked a passage through the flames, that now curled
up fearfully, and swept the whole surface of the vessel, were
dreadfully burned, and looked more like demons than men. But, at last,
after much difficulty, they succeeded in lowering the boat into the
sea. Those, however, who got in first, seeing that the whole crew must
inevitably perish if they suffered a greater number to crowd the boat
than she could with safety contain, pushed off from the ship as
speedily as they could. If they had yielded to the impulse of their
feelings, every soul must have perished; for, although they might have
escaped from the fire, they must, of necessity, have swamped the boat.
Fortunately, however, the boat got off in safety; but she had made a
very short distance when the vessel blew up. Several poor wretches,
seeing that their fate was not to be averted, had leaped into the sea,
and were drowned; while others, who clung despairingly to the vessel,
were annihilated by the force of the explosion. One poor black boy,
nerved by desperation, flung himself overboard, and swam after the
boat, which, with great exertion, he overtook. Through Mr. McCormack's
interposition he was taken on board. The crew of the boat, so sudden
was their resolution taken, had not time to provide themselves with a
supply of provisions, although they were a considerable distance from
the shore: they snatched up such trifling articles as happened to be at
hand in the hurry of their departure, and trusted themselves to
Providence for the rest. This melancholy accident was occasioned by the
insubordination of some of the sailors, who forced their way through
the bulk-head into the fore-hold, to get at a cask of spirits.

In the evening I accompanied Mr. Macauley in a drive to the village of
Kissey, one of the settlements of liberated Africans. Its population is
nearly a thousand souls, composed of the descendants of natives of Aco,
who were taken from a slave vessel on the river Lagos in the Bight of
Benin. The immediate neighbourhood of this village, which is about five
miles from Freetown, supplies a great part of the grain and vegetables
that are brought to that market. We called on the Doctor of the
village, who was a black man, and we afterwards went to the chapel,
where we heard a liberated African preach to his black brethren.

_Thursday, September 27th_.--I dined with a party at the house of
Colonel Denham, the celebrated African traveller. I would gladly offer
a tribute of admiration and respect to the memory of this distinguished
gentleman, but the language of panegyric is superfluous.

Our party consisted of the Lieutenant-Governor, Captains Owen and
Harrison, of the navy; Dr. Barry, of the medical staff, &c. &c.

_Friday, September 28th_.--Soon after noon I accompanied Captains Owen
and Harrison, Mr. Reffle, the acting Judge, and the Rev. Mr. Davy, all
mounted on good steeds, to visit some of the villages established for
the liberated Africans. The first part of our journey was very hilly.
We passed through Gloucester and Regent Town, on our way to Bathurst,
near which we were overtaken by a thunder storm; but, before the
heaviest part of it reached us, we got into good quarters at Mr. Davy's
residence, where we found Mrs. Davy expecting us, and prepared to
entertain us in a most friendly and hospitable manner. This lady
undertakes to instruct the African females, of all ages, not only in
the mere education of letters, but in all the moral duties of civilized
society. As a proof that her efforts were not altogether unavailing, it
may be observed, that her domestics consisted of some of her pupils,
whom she had selected for the performance of the household duties.
Morality here is at a very low ebb amongst the adult native population,
and infidelity in the married state is a common occurrence. During our
short stay, a poor fellow came to complain to Mr. Davy that his wife
had gone to live with another man, and that when he went to demand her
restoration, the guilty paramour and his friends turned him off with a
sound beating. The circumstance did not seem to excite much surprise,
although Mr. Davy gave every possible attention to the poor fellow's
case, as he never omitted any opportunity of exerting his influence for
the moral benefit of the community.

In the course of the day I had an opportunity of examining a snake
which a Timmanee black carried, as ladies wear boas in England, round
his neck, which is a common practice. It was about a yard long, and six
inches in circumference. The blacks frequently extract the teeth of
these reptiles, even those of the most venomous species, a process
which renders them harmless. In the evening we returned to Freetown.
The black ostler, who is generally a Krooman, performs in this country
a double duty, for he not only attends the horse in the stable, but
accompanies him on his journey, keeping pace with the animal at
whatever rate his master pleases to ride. This would be a very good
punishment for some of our ostlers who are in the habit of cheating the
horses out of their corn. To compel the rogues to share fatigue with
the animal, might teach them to treat them with more humanity. Horses
are sometimes brought to this country from St. Jago, but they do not
live long. A smaller and hardier breed comes from the Gambia, and the
climate seems to agree very well with them. Neither English nor St.
Jago horses live long at Sierra Leone, and the cause assigned for this
is, that the coarse grass, which grows so rapidly in this country, has
too little nutriment in it to support the animal under the exhausting
effects of such a climate; and it is observed that he is continually
though gradually wasting away, notwithstanding his appetite is most
voracious; that at length he partially loses the use of his hind legs,
becomes weak across the loins, and for the want of nervous energy, a
paralysis ensues, and the horse ultimately dies. But if he is given
more stimulating food there is a chance of his doing well; or at any
rate of his living much longer than he otherwise would on such poor
food as he usually gets.

_Saturday, September 29th_.--The Henri Quatre, a beautiful brig,
arrived yesterday afternoon from the Bight of Benin, with 548 slaves on
board, a prize to H.M.S. Sybille. This vessel was afterwards fitted out
as a tender to the Commodore's ship, and well known, as the celebrated
Black Joke, for her success in capturing other slavers. To-day I
accompanied the Rev. Mr. Davy on board. A multitude of slaves crowded
her deck in a state of nudity. The spectacle was humiliating in every
sense, and the immediate effect upon the olfactory nerves was
excessively disagreeable and oppressive. We found the officer who had
charge of the vessel confined to a small space in the after-part of the
deck near the tiller. The pressure of this dense mass of human beings
was suffocating, and the crowd was so great that one poor slave who had
fallen overboard in the night, on the voyage, was never missed until
the following morning.

From the Henri Quatre we went to visit a steam-vessel called the
African, which was to sail this afternoon, with 300 persons on board,
and as much provisions as she could stow. Her immediate destination was
Cape Coast Castle, where she was to wait the arrival of the Eden. She
had formerly been employed in the Colonial service on this coast, but
had lately been laid up for want of repair. Captain Owen, however,
being desirous to forward a number of mechanics and labourers belonging
to the free population of Sierra Leone, to the new settlement at
Fernando Po, thought that this vessel might answer his purpose, and
save Government the expense of chartering a ship expressly for that
service; he therefore applied to the Colonial Government requesting
that he might be allowed the use of her; which, after many preliminary
arrangements, occasioning much delay, was at last granted. One
condition was, that he should send her to England after she had
completed the service required of her. He therefore ordered Lieutenant
Badgeley, with a small party of men, to clear her out and prepare her
for sea, as she was at that time half full of mud and water, and
employed some mechanics to repair her engines, which were completely
out of order.

At five this afternoon I went to the race course, to be present at a
private match between two gentlemen's horses. Besides these private
sports, there are regular annual races at this place.

The roads, which are very much cut up during the rainy season, are
always repaired on its termination, commencing immediately after
Michaelmas. I found that there were gutters, which had been cut by
order of Sir Neil Campbell, (three or four feet deep, and from one to
two wide) in various directions, to carry off the quantity of water
occasioned by the heavy rains. The utility of these gutters in drawing
off the water was sufficiently obvious, but they were found to be very
dangerous both to men and horses in the dark; accidents frequently
occurred, and on one occasion a horse had his legs broken. They were
also dangerous to wheel vehicles, whenever it became necessary to cross
them: indeed, the inconvenience of these drains, without bridges, was
considered to be so much greater than the advantage, that it was
determined they should be filled up, and that the rain should be left
to take its own course over the surface of the ground, as before. The
magistrates, who are elected annually, are obliged to superintend the
repair of the roads, both in the town and its neighbourhood, in
addition to their ordinary duties; and all offenders who are sentenced
to labour on the public works, or to confinement in the house of
correction, are compelled to assist in the necessary repairs. The
expense of keeping the roads in good order is defrayed by a tax of six
days' labour on every inhabitant of the towns and villages in the
colony, which, however, may be commuted to a fine of seven shillings
and sixpence.

After the race, I went to Mr. Barber's to dine. This gentleman has a
small plantation of ginger and arrow-root, which succeeds uncommonly
well; also some plants of the blood orange from Malta, and some young
cinnamon trees; which, I should observe, are by no means uncommon in
this colony.

Mr. K. Macauley has also a small plantation of coffee, which prospers
very well. In fact, all the tropical fruits and plants must succeed
here, if proper attention be paid to them.

_Sunday, September 30th_.--The morning was fine, but the afternoon
showery; rain, indeed, appears to be quite a matter of course, either
in the morning or evening. I had now been upwards of a month in Sierra
Leone, and I found that it rained without fail in some part of the
four-and-twenty hours, and sometimes throughout the whole day and
night; yet, the rainy season had nearly exhausted itself when I
arrived, and some short time before, it had rained for three weeks
without intermission. These alterations of the weather, however, had no
effect whatever on me, for, rain or shine, I went about, at all hours,
as much at my ease as if I had been in England; and instead of
suffering any illness or annoyance from the fluctuations and
uncertainty of the season, I really found my health improved.

The brig Atalanta came down the river this morning, and anchored off
Freetown, having taken in a cargo of timber at Bance Island. There was
not a single vessel left up the river, which was remarked as an
extraordinary circumstance, for since the year 1816, when the contract
for African timber commenced, such an event had not taken place.

From the observations I made while I remained at Freetown, it occurred
to me that a plan might be adopted, with good effect, for improving the
management of the timber trade. I should recommend that an old ship be
moored in the river, a little above Freetown, and housed over for the
purpose of receiving the crews of such vessels as go up the river to
take in their cargoes. The object of this arrangement would be to give
the crews an opportunity of refitting, rigging, and repairing the sails
of their own vessels, or of any others that might require assistance,
while the Kroomen were employed loading the ships under the direction
of the mates, or such other persons as might be appointed to that
duty.[17] By this plan (with a proper check to prevent the sailors from
going on shore too often, every reasonable indulgence being allowed
them on board the hulk) many valuable lives might be saved, and those
delays averted which now occur so often, from the difficulty of
procuring hands for the homeward bound voyage, to supply the place of
those who had been carried off by fever.

_Tuesday, Oct. 2nd_.--On calling at the barracks this morning, to take
leave of the officers of the Royal African Corps, from whom I had
received some very kind attentions, I was sorry to learn that
Lieutenant Green, who had always been one of the most cheerful of the
party, had been taken ill with the fever that morning, and that, from
the great depression of his spirits, serious doubts were entertained of
his recovery.

_Wednesday, 3rd_.--The ship Redmond arrived to-day from England,
bringing letters from thence up to August 23rd. His Majesty's ship
Eden, received on board to-day 60 black soldiers, of the Royal African
Corps, to perform garrison duty at Fernando Po, under the command of
Lieutenant Mends.

A gentleman in charge of the ordnance died this afternoon.

Before I take leave of Sierra Leone, a few general retrospective
glances at the colony may not be without interest. First, of the
population. There are not exceeding 110 Europeans in the colony,
two-thirds of whom are under 30 years of age. This may, probably, in
some degree, account for the great mortality that prevails amongst

In Freetown alone, there are between 5000 and 6000 coloured men, all of
whom are free.

In the village of Kissey, three miles and a quarter from Freetown, are
contained 1,100 souls, all liberated Africans.

In Wellington, six miles and a quarter from Freetown, about 800,
composed principally of liberated Africans, with a few disbanded
soldiers from the 2nd West India regiment.

In Allen town, three miles from Wellington, about 150, all liberated

In Hastings, twelve miles from Freetown, 600, composed of liberated
Africans and disbanded soldiers.

In Waterloo, nine miles from Hastings, 900, composed of liberated
Africans and disbanded soldiers.

In Wilberforce, two miles and a half from Freetown, 100, all liberated

In York, twenty miles from Freetown, about 600, composed of liberated
Africans and disbanded soldiers.

In Kent, twelve miles from York, about 500, composed of liberated
Africans and disbanded soldiers.

In Gloucester, three miles from Freetown, 700, all liberated Africans.

In Leicester, one mile from Gloucester, 100, all liberated Africans.

In Regent Town, one mile and a half from Gloucester, 1000, all
liberated Africans.

In Bathurst, two miles and a half from Regent Town, 1000, all liberated

In Charlotte, three quarters of a mile from Bathurst, 900, all
liberated Africans.

In Bassa town, three miles from Charlotte, 130, all liberated Africans.

In addition to these there are about 400 inhabitants at the island of
the Bananas, 100 at the village of Calmunt, and many others of whom no
correct amount can be given, residing at various little villages along
the coast, perhaps their entire number may be about 200; if so, it will
make the population of the whole colony about 15,000. The names of the
parishes to each town are as follows:

St. George's in Freetown.
St. Patrick Kissey.
St. Arthur Wellington.
St. Francis Hastings.
St. Michael Waterloo.
St. Paul in Wilberforce.
St. Thomas York.
St. Edward Kent.
St. Andrew Gloucester.
St. Charles Regent Town.
St. Peter and James Bathurst.
St. John Charlotte.

Freetown is well supplied with fish every afternoon at sunset, most of
which is brought in by boats that go outside the harbour in the
morning, and return in the evening. Unfortunately, there is an immense
number of sharks generally in the harbour, which sometimes commit great

Sierra Leone is about six miles within the cape of that name, and lies
at the entrance of the river. The town is laid out with great
regularity, and the streets are spacious. It is two miles in length
near the water-side, and about one mile in width, gradually ascending
from the beach to the hills at the back of the town. The intervening
space between a short distance beyond the extremity of the town and the
summit of the hills is principally unreclaimed forest land, which was
originally portioned out amongst the first settlers in the colony. From
want of means, however, or some other cause, the colonists never
cleared those grounds, nor did they offer them on sufficiently
reasonable terms to enable others to do so. This is the more
extraordinary, as it is generally supposed that if the wood were
removed, it would greatly improve the salubrity of the air in the town
and neighbourhood, as well as open a new source of profit to the
proprietors, it being already well known that all tropical productions
thrive most successfully in this soil. Coffee, cocoa, arrow-root,
sugar-cane, &c. have been tried with the utmost success. The houses of
the Governor, several of the respectable merchants, and some of the
natives, are built of stone. There is a church also, on a very
magnificent scale; indeed, so ambitious was the design of this
building, that the Colonial Government do not appear to have been able
to afford the expense of furnishing the interior, and have accordingly
run up an ugly brick wall in the centre, for the purpose of
appropriating one half of it to religious duties, and the other to
public offices. The church, as it was built, was evidently too
capacious for the congregation that was likely to attend the service of
the established religion, particularly as a great portion of the
population consists of Dissenters, who have men of their own colour and
way of thinking for preachers. I have heard some of their black
divines, but cannot say that I was much edified by their discourses.

The following extraordinary letter from two master workmen, free
blacks, who were employed on the church, received by a Member of
Council, while I was on a visit to him, will serve as a specimen of the
advancement in education that some of these poor fellows have made. The
letter is given literally from the original.

"_Sierra Leone, Sept. 18th, 1827_.

"Honourable Sir,

"I have the honour of sendin to you this morning with humble manner
I was to the Honour D. Denney yesterday, about the trouble what I
have, I was take work from the church-yard, and I finish it, the
gentlemen I must made petition and I cannot tell who will go to
please to help me from this trouble if I will get the money from the
gentleman. Shew me the way for get the money by your Honour all the
people what I hired I do not know how to do with myself--only you
one I know because I was under your brother if any trouble to much
for me I cry to you with humble manner I am poor black man--

"I remain
Your affectionately and obedient servant,

_Sierra Leone Labourers_.

"_To the Honourable
K. Maccauley, Esq. M.C. &c.

The original settlers of this colony, we learn from "Murray's
Historical Discoveries," consisted of about four hundred blacks, and
sixty whites, (the latter chiefly women of abandoned character,) who
arrived at Sierra Leone the 9th of May, 1787. These blacks, as is well
known, were part of those that went to Great Britain; having been sent
with the white loyalists, among the Bahama Islands, Nova Scotia, and
England, at the conclusion of the American war: and twelve hundred more
of the same description of American blacks agreed to leave Nova Scotia
for Sierra Leone, on terms proposed to them by the Sierra Leone
Company, where they arrived in March, 1792: and in December, 1793,
Lieut. Beaver arrived at Sierra Leone, with the few survivors that had
abandoned the colony of Bulama.

The present inhabitants arc principally composed of negroes of a
variety of nations; Maroons from Jamaica, negroes who were captured or
had deserted in the American war, some from England, some from Nova
Scotia, some from disbanded West India regiments, and many prize
slaves, that come under the name of liberated Africans, who from their
industry and prudence have saved a little money and settled at Freetown
in various capacities. There are besides a great number of persons
residing here in succession under the denomination of strangers. These
are people from various parts of the interior of Africa, namely,
Timmanees, Foulahs, Mandingoes, &c. &c. There are also a great number
of Kroomen, formerly upwards of a thousand, but a late order in council
reduced them to 600, with the intention of introducing and encouraging
the liberated Africans to come forward as labourers, fishermen,
mechanics, sailors, soldiers, &c. &c.

Sierra Leone has a large market-house, with a market held daily, where
the inhabitants may be well supplied with most of the tropical fruits
and vegetables, and some from Europe. Poultry is abundant and
reasonable. Beef and mutton are in most common use. The animals are
small, a quarter of beef weighing on an average between 50 and 60 lbs.
and a quarter of mutton from 5 to 8 lbs. Pork and lamb are seldom sent
to table, and I never met with veal. The colony is principally supplied
with stock, (viz. bullocks, sheep, and fowls,) by the Foulahs,
Mandingoes, Sousoos, and Timmanees. They carry the fowls on their head
in a large basket, and their necessaries in a sheep-skin bag fastened
on the top of it. Perhaps the reason why veal and lamb are but rarely
seen at table is in consequence of the bullocks and sheep having to
travel a considerable distance, and fresh pork is almost too gross a
food for a hot country.

The trade with the nations of the interior is chiefly confined to the
Foulahs and Mandingoes, who bring small quantities of gold with them,
which they exchange for European articles to carry home. Their mode of
travelling to the colony is not a little curious. They first appoint
one of their number as head man, who is referred to on every occasion,
and who is answerable for the conduct of the whole. They generally come
down in numbers of from six to thirty, and sometimes more. Each man
carries on his head a kind of basket, made of the rattan cane, in which
is contained his shirt, a calabash, some rice, and a bag made of
sheep-skin, which holds the alcoran, some rice, bread, a knife,
scissors, and other useful articles; also a small pouch in which they
carry their gold, averaging about 5l. sterling each person. They secure
the bag by fastening the sides of the basket together, and binding it
round with strong twine which they make from grass. On the top of the
basket they tie their bow and quiver of arrows loosely, so that they
can get at them readily, in case they should be attacked in the woods
by wild animals, or by any of the different tribes whose settlement
they pass through in coming down. They also carry a bamboo cane about
six feet long, and three inches in circumference, with a piece of iron,
about six inches long, and sharp at the point, fixed into the end of
it; this they make use of as a spear. They also carry a long knife or
sword, which is slung over the arm by a belt. They partly live on the
wild fruits of the country, and occasionally get something at the
villages through which they pass; generally walking between the hours
of six and ten in the morning, and two and six in the afternoon each
day. When they arrive at Porto Logo, (which place is the termination of
their land journey) they engage a canoe to take them to Freetown, for
which they used to pay four dollars a head, but it is now reduced to
one, and this charge they are accustomed to levy afterwards upon the
merchant with whom they intend to deal, looking upon it as a bonus
included in the traffic. They also apply to the merchants in Freetown,
for accommodations during their stay, which is from ten days to a
month. They will not trade either on the first or second day, but go
round the town examining the different goods in the shops, and
ascertaining the prices. In this preliminary proceeding they are
assisted by their countrymen, who have been long resident in the colony
and are acquainted with the English language. These interpreters make
their living by cheating in every possible way, both the poor traveller
and the merchant.

When they begin to trade it takes one day for the head man to settle
the investment of the gold in the merchant's hands, which he has
received individually from his companions, giving a separate receipt to
each: after which they all assemble to choose their goods to the amount
of each person's portion. This is an affair of three or four days. They
do not, however, think it necessary to leave the colony so soon as
their business is settled, but remain some time after idling about the
streets. Two or three days before they really intend returning by the
canoe to Porto Logo, the whole party call and say that they are going,
which is intended as a hint to prepare some present for them. They
repeat their visit the next day, and if they do not receive a present
from you, they address you in the following manner. "Friend," (calling
the merchant by his name, and holding out his hands with extended
arms,) "do you see my hands? do you not see that they are empty? When I
go back to my country, my countrymen will ask me if I have seen the
great merchant! they will say they doubt me, asking me, at the same
time, where are your presents? and if I have nothing to shew they will
call me a liar, saying that the great merchant never allowed any one
that went to see him, to go away empty-handed. I came from my country
on purpose to see you. True, I have brought you but little trade this
time, but when I go back to my country, and say I have seen the great
merchant, and shew them the presents I have received, then they will
all want to come, and bring plenty of trade." This of course concludes
with a present to propitiate the grasping spirit of the African petty

The goods principally preferred by the Foulahs and Mandingoes, are
powder, muskets, fowling-pieces, flints, swords, spear-pointed knives,
India blue baft, India white baft, India scarlet silk taffety, red
cloth, beads, and tobacco, which they make into snuff, being the only
manner in which they use it.

The following amusing dialogue occurred between two sailors who
happened to be on the military parade when the soldiers were at drill,
going through the evolution of marking time,--a military manoeuvre by
which the feet, as well as the whole body of the person, are kept in
motion, presenting a similar appearance to that which they exhibit when
they are actually marching. One observed the other watching the
movements of the corps very attentively, with his eyes fixed and his
arms akimbo: "What the h-ll are you looking at?" he inquired. "Why,
Jack," replied his companion, "I'm thinking there must be a d--d strong
tide running this morning." "Why?" said he. "Why?" answered the other,
"why, because these poor beggars have been pulling away this half hour,
and have'nt got an inch a head yet!"

The custom of sentencing soldiers to serve in the Royal African Corps,
must naturally be attended with bad consequences, not only to the
soldiers themselves, but to the natives. If we desire to enlighten a
savage race, we could scarcely devise a worse plan than that of sending
amongst them the refuse of a civilized country, who carry into the new
community, the worst vices and crimes of an old country. These soldiers
consider themselves to be exiled for life from their native land, and
as they entertain no hope whatever, under such forlorn circumstances,
of redeeming their character, they abandon themselves to debauchery,
and give a free vent to the most debasing tendencies of their nature.
The influence of this injurious example, which is a thousand fold more
powerful than all the precepts of the preachers, upon the minds of the
Africans, must be obvious. It weakens the effect, even if it does not
altogether obliterate the impressions of that morality which we so
studiously labour to inculcate. The African says, "The white man tells
us not to do those things which are wicked in the sight of God; yet, in
the same breath, he commits the very guilt against which he warns us.
The white man tells us that drunkenness is a crime in the eyes of God,
yet he drinks until his senses become stupified; he tells us not to
curse and blaspheme; yet the most terrible oaths are on his lips. Which
are we to follow? the white man's words or his actions?" If we wish to
command respect, and to impress upon the savage the real advantages of
civilization, we should send out only such persons as would be likely
to secure a complete influence and ascendancy over the uninstructed
people, and so demonstrate to them, by the force of actions, the purity
and stability of the Christian faith, the importance of education, and
the practical benefits of social organization. If it be necessary, as
no doubt it is, to send out Europeans to serve in the African Corps,
they should be sent in the capacity of officers, or non-commissioned
officers: privates of good character might be selected, who would
volunteer to go out on certain conditions, perhaps on some such terms
as these: to serve as corporal for a limited period, after which time,
if their conduct had been unimpeachable, to be advanced to the rank of
serjeant, when, having served in that rank for a prescribed period,
they might be permitted to return home on a pension. Two years might be
assigned as the first period of service, and three as the second,
making altogether a service of five years in Africa, which, considering
the opinion that is popularly entertained respecting the climate, might
be deemed of sufficient duration. I am aware that this suggestion is
liable to one objection arising from the prejudice that is generally
entertained against the climate, namely, the difficulty that would
arise, in the first instance, in obtaining volunteers; nor am I
entirely prepared to say, that the objection is without force. But the
plan might be tried, and the temptation which would be held out, by the
certainty of promotion, might, probably, be considered an adequate
compensation to the risk: and, in case any individual should have
conducted himself throughout the whole period of his service, to the
entire satisfaction of his officers, and should subsequently wish to
remain at the colony, it might be adviseable to offer him a small
government appointment, or, in some cases, the reward might be extended
to a commission in the Colonial Corps. If this could be carried into
effect, it would certainly be attended with considerable advantages; it
would procure respect for the British name, recall the savage from his
life of recklessness, and put a final stop to those disgraceful scenes
of profligacy which are so frequently witnessed in the streets of
Sierra Leone.

Having requested my friend Dr. Barry, who was at the head of the
Medical Staff at Sierra Leone, to procure me what information he could
on the subject of vaccination and small-pox, in Africa, he most
obligingly forwarded me the following document, which, for the sake of
perspicuity, is put in the form of question and answer.

_Replies to Dr. George Gregory's Queries on Vaccination and
Small-pox, Sierra Leone, 24th September, 1827_.

1st. Is vaccination generally practised among the infant negro

2nd. Whence do they derive their stock of lymph?

3rd. What is the degree of confidence placed in it?

Vaccination is not at all practised among the negro population, by
native vaccinators; it is, however, practised among certain branches
of the negro population by European surgeons; the negro population
of Sierra Leone consists of Nova Scotian, and Maroon settlers,
liberated Africans, and several of the aboriginal African tribes,
namely, Timmanees, Mandingoes, Soosoos, Boollams, Sherbros, &c. &c.
&c. The three first mentioned of these branches of the negro
population, having greater intercourse with Europeans, are better
acquainted with European customs, and have, of course, imbibed more
of European notions and prejudices, on such subjects as the one now
under consideration, than the aboriginal inhabitants of this part of
Africa; vaccination, therefore, is, and has been, practised among
them to a considerable extent, the stock of lymph being derived
from, and kept up by, frequent renewals from England. That their
confidence in it, as a measure preventive of small-pox, is great, I
judge from the anxiety which they shew, and the eagerness which they
manifest to have their children vaccinated when the small-pox is
raging around them; while, under ordinary circumstances, and when
their fears have been lulled by the absence of this fatal epidemic,
an absence which they well know is probably but temporary, they
exhibit such an unaccountable apathy regarding vaccination, that a
stranger might well suppose they had no faith in it as a
prophylactic measure; notwithstanding this, I believe they have
great confidence in it, although, from circumstances to which I
shall presently allude, that confidence has declined considerably.

4th. How soon does the arcola arrive at its greatest height in those

The arcola surrounding the vaccine vesicle is, I think, at its
greatest height about the eleventh or twelfth day after vaccination,
if the lymph used has been genuine.

5th. Does small-pox prevail there?

6th. Does small-pox prevail there after vaccination?

Small-pox prevails occasionally, and there are instances of its
having occurred even in a confluent form after vaccination: one
genuine instance of this kind came under my notice in the year 1824,
in the person of a liberated African girl, of about sixteen years of
age; vaccination had been performed in this case, by the late Dr.
Nicol, Deputy Inspector of Hospitals, and was considered
satisfactory; the case proved confluent; the secondary fever was
accompanied by a severe diarrhoea, which carried off the patient
about the thirteenth day. Another well authenticated instance of the
same fact, occurred in the early part of the present year, in the
family of a respectable Nova Scotian settler; other cases of a
similar nature have been reported by the inhabitants; but I do not
consider that, in these cases, the proofs of a pure previous vaccine
disease have been satisfactorily established; when vaccination has
been carried on for some time, from the same stock of lymph, the
disease is apt to degenerate and become spurious, from which cause
we require a frequent renewal of lymph from England, in order to
keep it in continuous and successful operation; the spurious
disease, on the fifth day, generally shews itself in the form of a
small globated papula; on the eighth day, it presents sometimes an
ash-coloured pustule, containing purulent matter; at other times,
and less frequently, a brown-coloured scale, having a small quantity
of purulent matter under it, capable of producing, by innoculation,
a disease similar to itself; the great prevalence of a disease among
the negro population, called "craw craw," is considered as
materially influencing that change in the properties of the pure
vaccine lymph, which has been just noticed: that apathy and
indolence of which I have already accused the negro population,
leads them to consider the appearance of disease in the arm, after
vaccination, as the test of safety from small-pox, great as the
difficulty sometimes is, in getting them to bring forward their
children for vaccination, it is still greater to procure the
examinations in its progress and maturation; the mere appearance of
disease in the arm, is supposed to carry along with it immunity from
small-pox; and, on the occurrence of the epidemic at an after
period, it may be easily foreseen how wretchedly and how fatally
this confidence in the spurious disease may be misplaced; I,
therefore, do not consider, that, in all the cases spoken of among
the inhabitants, as cases of small-pox occurring after vaccination,
there existed satisfactory proofs of the patient having previously
undergone the genuine vaccine disease; yet, I am sorry to say, that
from such occurrences as these, vaccination has rather lost ground
in the opinion of the negro population.

7th. Is small-pox an increasing malady?

Small-pox is not an increasing malady; it is generally introduced
here from the slave cargoes of vessels detained by the squadron, and
sent here for adjudication; were this source of its renewal removed,
I am persuaded that small-pox would, in the course of a few years,
be almost unknown in this part of Africa.

8th. Can the vaccine virus be retained on points and glasses, so as
to be fit for use?

The vaccine lymph, if taken on points, will not retain its virulence
seven days in this country: this observation is established by
repeated trials; if taken on glasses, I would not be disposed to
depend on its activity when kept longer than fourteen or sixteen
days, though I have known it sometimes to retain its original
properties for four or five weeks; if preserved in glass bulbs,
hermetically sealed, in the manner practised by the National Vaccine
Institution, I have known its properties unimpaired after keeping
for three months; repeated trials have convinced me of the
excellence of this mode of preserving the vaccine lymph, and, I
believe it to be the best and surest that has been yet devised of
transmitting the lymph from England to tropical countries: next to
this method, I believe the crusts have proved the most successful.

9th. Are the young negro population pitted with the small-pox?

The negro population are pitted with the small-pox in the same
manner as Europeans.

10th. Are there periodical vaccinations of large districts? or, is
each child vaccinated soon after its birth? if the latter, how soon?

The practice, in these cases, is, as long as the vaccine lymph
continues to produce a genuine disease, to keep it up by the weekly
vaccination of all comers. Children are rarely vaccinated under four
weeks old; but there is no rule observed on this head.

11th. What sort of scars are usually left in the arms?

The scar bears the shape of the original vesicle, and is slightly
depressed below the surface of the surrounding skin; the surface of
the scar is marked by a number of small depressions of various
shapes, corresponding, I believe, with the cells in the original

12th. Is vaccination, in hot countries, attended with feverish
symptoms? and, if it is, on what day do they begin?

Vaccination is, sometimes, in this country, attended with feverish
symptoms; but, in the most marked cases, so far as I have seen,
these symptoms have been so slight, as almost to escape common
observation. I have not remarked on what day they begin.

13th. Is vaccination ever followed by any eruptions?

I have seen only one case of this: an eruption appeared on the sixth
day after unsuccessful vaccination; it was diffused over the whole
body, and is now in progress.

W. FERGUSON, _Assistant Surgeon, Royal African Corps_.

N.B. The case alluded to, in the last of the above replies, was, in
the first instance, papular eruption; the base of each papula being
surrounded by an inflamed ring; the eruption was thickest on the
thorax, and on the arms; in its progress, the eruption became
pustular, the pustules being in circumference about half the usual
size of the vaccine vesicle; on the twelfth day, the crusts had
dropped from some of the smaller pustules; and, by the seventeenth
day, they had all dropped off, leaving a mark, but not in any manner
pitted; and which, I think, promises to be permanent.


_Thursday, October 4th, 1827_.--At length the day arrived when I was to
quit Sierra Leone, and I might say with some regret; for, during my
residence there, I had been very hospitably and agreeably entertained
by the principal government officers, as well as by several of the most
respectable merchants; and I had found a sufficient variety of objects
of interest, to yield ample occupation for the mind. I could have
desired to remain sometime longer, particularly as the fine weather,
and what is called the healthy season, was fast coming on, which would
have afforded me more time to examine and reflect on what was of
interest to the colony as well as to the mother country; but I was
conscious of a feeling of still deeper regret, and of a different
character from that of mere curiosity;--it was the pain of parting from
those whose kind sympathy had led them to take more than a common
interest in my pursuits, and to whose friendly and constant attentions
I was indebted for the advantages I enjoyed while I remained in the

The apprehension, too, which was afterwards fatally realized, that many
of us should never meet again, was calculated to embitter my
leave-taking, even more poignantly. Of the friends who were then around
me at Sierra Leone, the greater number are now no more; the principal
persons amongst whom are the following: Colonels Lumley and Denham; Mr.
K. Macauley (member of council); Mr. Barber, Mr. Leavers, Mr. Reffel
(acting judge), Mr. Magnus (clerk of the court), Lieutenant Green,
R.A.C., and several gentlemen volunteers of the same corps.

At daylight in the morning, just as the ship was preparing to get her
anchors up, a heavy tornado came on, and the rain continued for some
hours after the violence of the wind had subsided. Notwithstanding the
rain, however, Colonel Lumley, the Lieutenant-Governor of the colony,
and his private secretary. Lieutenant McLean, R.A.C., came on board at
eight o'clock for a passage to Cape Coast, where the Lieutenant-Governor
was going for the purpose of delivering the fortress of Cape Coast
Castle into the hands of the British merchants, who were to take
possession of it with a militia force, which they were permitted to
organize for their own protection: the Government allowing them a
stipulated sum to support the necessary establishment, at the same time
withdrawing the troops of the Royal African Corps, and all the
government stores, part of which were to be sent to Fernando Po, and
the rest to Sierra Leone or England.

At ten o'clock we got under weigh, and made sail out of Sierra Leone
harbour. The Horatio, a schooner, which Captain Owen had purchased to
take provisions, mechanics and labourers to Fernando Po, was to have
sailed in company with us, but from some unaccountable delay, she did
not join us till we got to Cape Coast.[18] At noon, Cape Sierra Leone
bore E. 1/2 S. distance seven miles; and the Banana Islands S. 1/2 E.
The afternoon cleared up, and the wind was very light. From Sierra
Leone to Cape St. Ann, the course is S. 57 deg. E. distance 86 miles. From
Cape St. Ann to Cape Mesurada the course is S. 60 degrees E. distance
123 miles.

[17] All the headmen understand enough of English to perform any
labour under the direction of Englishmen, and the Kroomen are a
hard-working body of men.

[18] Fenao Gomez, a Portuguese, was the first person who rented a
monopoly of the trade of the Coast of Guinea, on consideration of
his paying 300 milreas per annum for five years; and he was to
discover 100 leagues of coast per annum, beginning at Sierra Leone.
He finished his discoveries at Cape St. Catherines.


Cape St. Ann--Dangerous Shoals--Old Sailors--Liberia--Origin and History
of the Colony--Failure at Sherbro Island--Experiment at Liberia--
Difficulties Encountered by the Settlers--Differences with the Natives--
Final Adjustment--Improving State of the Colony--Laws and Morals--
Remarks on Colonization

_Friday, October 5th_.--There was a moderate breeze from the westward,
and fine weather. At eight o'clock, finding, by our calculation, that we
had rounded the shoals of Cape St. Ann, we altered our course more
towards the land, intending to run along the Gold Coast, within sight of
the shore. These shoals are the most dangerous part of the west coast of
Africa; and there is good reason to believe that many vessels have been
wrecked on them, particularly in former times. There is but little doubt
that H.M. (late) ship Redwing was lost here, for there has been no trace
of her since the day she sailed from Sierra Leone, (the afternoon of
which was very squally) excepting a small mast that was picked up on the
coast, to the northward, with her name on it; and as she was bound from
Sierra Leone to Accra, she had occasion to go round these shoals, which
commence about 30 miles from Cape Sierra Leone. But there is an
additional cause for apprehending that such was her fate, for I was
informed by an officer, that he heard Captain Clavering say, that he did
not believe in the existence of these shoals; it is not improbable,
therefore, that, with an idea of shortening his passage, he might have
attempted to have gone nearer to them than prudence would justify, and
thus tempted the danger which he held to be apocryphal. They might also
have neglected to sound sufficiently often, an error which I have
frequently witnessed, and which arises from a mistaken wish to save
trouble and time--a poor excuse for risking the loss of lives and
property. I am sure this will not be the case with Captain Owen, for I
believe he knows the ground under water where his ship is in soundings,
as well as that which he sees above it; and among the jokes of the crew
of his ship, there was one on his late surveying voyage, uttered by an
old sailor, who said, that as soon as he was paid off, he would set up a
public-house in Wapping, with the sign of The Bag and Nippers,[19] and
the words "Watch, there, watch!" written underneath. Notwithstanding
this poor fellow's joke, he entered a second time with Captain Owen, on
board the Eden, for an equally hazardous voyage, which he did not
survive. I was near him in his last moments, when the fatal signal of
ebbing life--the rattles in the throat--fell on the ear like the
melancholy sound of the muffled drum in a dead march.

_Sunday, 7th_.--Light airs and variable, with rain at times. Cape
Mesurada in sight great part of the day. Under the eastern side of this
Cape is the American settlement of Liberia. The origin and progress of
this colony present so many points of interest, that I am induced to lay
before my readers a succinct account of its early history. I am chiefly
indebted for the materials of this sketch to a pamphlet, which I
procured in Sierra Leone, published a short time before in Washington.

The first efforts of the American Colonization Society were directed to
Sierra Leone in 1818, when two Agents were sent there to purchase land
for a new colony; on their arrival at their destination, two men of
colour, well acquainted with the coast, accompanied them on a voyage of
exploration. Having examined all the places which appeared suitable for
their purposes, they finally made arrangements for forming the new
colony on Sherbro Island, about 100 miles south of Sierra Leone, when
one of the agents returned to America, the other having died on his
passage. The Society now resolved to fit out an expedition immediately,
in which they were greatly aided by the President, the object seeming to
be well calculated to promote the political advantages of the United
States. The first colonists left America in February, 1820. They
consisted of two government agents, one from the society, and
eighty-eight persons of colour. These emigrants were very unfortunate:
they arrived just at the commencement of the rainy season, the _damps_
of which were much increased by the unhealthiness of the low, marshy
ground of the Sherbro. The result was that all the agents, and a great
number of the colonists died; the remainder wisely abandoned a
speculation so fruitful of risk. Those people remained at Sierra Leone
until new agents were sent out, and another spot selected lor
colonization. The new scene of operations was Liberia.

The territory on which the first settlement, of the colonists of Liberia
was made, forms a tongue of land of twelve leagues extent, in no part
more than a league in width, and in some parts contracted to half that
distance. This peninsula is so connected with the main land, as to
represent a scale beam, the narrow isthmus answering to the pivot; which
isthmus is formed by an acute angle of the Junk river on the eastern
side, that falls into the sea at the S.E. extremity of the peninsula
and an acute angle of the Montserado river on the western side, which
falls into the sea at the N.W. extremity. Thus the N.E. side of the
peninsula is washed by the above rivers; and the whole of the S.W. side
by the sea. The north-western termination of this linear track of
country is Cape Montserado, which towards the extremity rises to a
promontory, sufficiently majestic to present a bold distinction from the
uniform level of the coast.

The town of Monrovia is situated on the inland side of the peninsula, on
the S.W. bank of the river Montserado, about two miles within the
extremity of the Cape. The original settlement approached within 150
yards of the water, and occupied the highest part of the spiral ridge,
which traverses a large part of the peninsula, and rises at this place
to about 75 feet. At the time this territory was purchased by the agents
of the American Colonization Society, in December 1821, this tract of
land was covered by a dense and lofty forest, entangled with vines (a
very large description of parasitical plant, so called) and brushwood,
which rendered it almost impervious to new settlers.

Opposite the town, are two small islands containing together less than
three acres of ground. The largest of these islands is nearly covered
with houses built in the native style, and occupied by a family of
several hundred domestic slaves, formerly the property of an English
factor, but now held in a state of qualified vassalage (common in
Africa) by a black man.

This little community lives so entirely within its own resources, that
the individuals composing it are little known by their neighbours; their
utter indifference to whose politics, however, does not preserve them
from their dislike and envy, which, without the protection of the
American colony, would soon be converted into acts of oppression.

There are four tribes in the neighbourhood of this coast, viz. the Deys,
who extend along the coast twenty-five miles to the northward of
Montserado, to the mouth of the Junk about thirty-six miles to the
south-eastward. Next, towards the interior, the Queahs, a small and
quiet people, whose country lies to the east of Cape Montserado. The
Gurrahs, a more numerous and toilsome race, occupying the country to the
northward of the upper part of the St. Paul river. And further into the
interior, the Condoes, whose warlike character renders them the terror
of all their maritime neighbours.

On the beach, one mile to the north of the new settlement, there is a
small hamlet belonging to the Kroomen, a people entirely distinct in
origin, language, and character, from all their neighbours. They
originate from the populous tribe, whose country is Settra Kroo near
Cape Palmas, and are well known as the pilots and watermen of the
country. The number of families belonging to this hamlet, scarcely
exceeds a dozen, and may comprehend fifty individuals.

The purchase of the Montserado territory being effected, it was first
occupied by such American emigrants as could be collected early in the
following year, at which time the indications of hostility exhibited by
the Dey people, demonstrated but too distinctly the insincerity of their
engagements with the new settlers, the first division of whom,
consisting chiefly of single men, were met with menaces, and positively
forbidden to land. This purpose they, however, effected upon the small
island of Perseverance, situated near the mouth of the Montserado, where
they were kindly received by Mr. S. Mill, an African by birth, who was
at that time occupant, and from whom the island had been purchased by
Dr. Ayres on behalf of the Society.

After many ineffectual attempts to conciliate the friendship of the
Deys, the ferment of opposition seemed to have subsided, and Dr. Ayres
received an invitation to meet the chiefs at a friendly conference in
King Peter's town. This amicable appearance, however, proved to be a
mere _ruse de guerre_, and the doctor found himself a prisoner in the
hands of his faithless allies. Nor could he obtain his freedom until he
consented to receive back the remnant of the goods, which had been
advanced to the natives the preceding month in part payment for their
lands, but, in according this enforced compliance to their wishes, he
contrived eventually to elude their purpose of ejectment, by pleading
the impossibility of removing the emigrants until vessels could be
procured for their use.

The individuals at this time upon the island of Perseverance, did not
exceed twenty persons. The only shelter for them and their store was
that afforded by half a dozen diminutive native huts; the island itself
was a mere artificial formation, which being always becalmed by the high
land of the Cape, was extremely unhealthy; it was also entirely
destitute both of fresh water and firewood--which circumstances, added
to the insalubrity of the air, and the closeness of their dwellings,
soon produced a sensible effect upon the health of the settlers. Happily
at this critical juncture a secret arrangement was concluded with King
George, (a monarch who claims the right of jurisdiction over the
northern district of the Peninsula) and by virtue of his authority the
settlers were permitted (in consideration of certain presents,
consisting of rum, trade-cloth, and tobacco) to cross the river and
commence clearing the forest for the site of their intended town. Being
stimulated to exertion, by the union of interest and self-preservation,
their labours proceeded with surprising rapidity, and in a very few
weeks presented the skeletons of twenty-two dwelling houses, ranged in
an orderly manner to form the principal street of their town.
Unfortunately, at this period, so promising to their hopes, and so
honourable to their assiduity, a circumstance occurred that interrupted
their avocations in the most painful manner, and plunged them into a
disastrous war with the natives.

A small vessel, the prize of an English cruiser, bound to Sierra Leone,
and having on board about thirty liberated Africans, put into the roads
for water, and had the misfortune to part her cable and run ashore below
George's town, where she was in a few hours beaten to pieces by the
heavy surf. She was immediately claimed by the natives on behalf of
their king, whose alleged rights they came forward to maintain by the
force of arms.--In attempting to board, however, they were opposed and
beaten back by the prize-master and his crew. The American settlers,
perceiving the extreme danger of their English visitors, hastened to
their relief, bringing with them a brass field-piece, which they turned
against the assailants, who, terrified by so unaccustomed a mode of
warfare, hastily retreated towards their forest-bound hamlet, leaving
the English officer, his crew, and the Africans at liberty. The damage
on both sides was, however, considerable; on that of the natives it
consisted of many wounded men and two killed; on that of the strangers,
in the total loss of their vessel, with most part of their stores and
property; but on that of the settlers the injury sustained was fatally
severe, it consisted of the destruction by fire of their most valuable
and requisite stores, amounting in actual worth to three thousand
dollars: a loss incalculably increased by their necessities.

The accident arose from some mismanagement of the fusee, used for the
cannon, a spark from which communicating with the thatch of the public
storehouse so rapidly spread into a flame, that it was only by the most
daring courage that the powder, some casks of provisions, and a few
other stores were rescued from the devastating element.

The natives meanwhile, exasperated at the interference of the settlers,
and maddened by the sight of their wounded and dead brethren, were only
restrained from taking summary vengeance by the dread of the artillery.
Even this fear could not prevent their occasionally venturing near
enough to fire upon the settlers and their new allies,--these furtive
and for the most part futile indications of malignity, were, however,
always easily repelled by a single shot from a four or six-pounder,
which usually put the assailants for the time being to an immediate
flight. But it was not to this mockery of warfare with King George's
warriors that the annoyance of the settlers was limited. Many and
various were the vexations to which the hostility of the Deys subjected
the unhappy adventurers; in the mere act of obtaining water (for which
purpose they had to pass through the enemy's town) their obstacles were
endless. While the demolition of their unfinished houses, secretly
accomplished by their persecutors, and similar injuries constantly
practised, ultimately compelled them to discontinue their principal
work. At length the vigilant hatred of their savage enemies, resolved
itself into a mode of attack which robbed the settlers of all present
means of resistance.--Watching their opportunity when the boats went up
the river Montserado, in search of water, they sheltered themselves
beneath the large trees and rocks which overhung the narrowest parts of
the river, from whence they fired upon the boats at pleasure, alike
without the possibility of receiving any injury, or of their victims
avoiding the danger by a hasty retreat. In this adventure, one colonist
and an English seaman lost their lives, and two other persons were
slightly wounded.

The recurrence of such events did not fail to keep up a spirit of
animosity between the Dey tribe and the colonists, whose principal crime
in the eyes of the natives, was their aversion to the slave trade; an
aversion which struck at the root of all the interest, fears, and
prejudices of the Deys. Old King Peter, the venerable patriarch of the
nation, and with whom the first treaty for the purchase of the ground
had been negotiated, was capitally arraigned and brought to trial on a
charge of betraying the interests of his subjects, by selling their
country. The accusation was substantiated, and it became doubtful
whether the punishment of high treason, would not be executed upon a
monarch, whom they had been accustomed to venerate and to obey for more
than thirty years.

Under these circumstances the settlers became seriously alarmed
respecting the nature of the intercourse which might become necessary to
the policy of Bacaia, the king of the larger island, and from whom they
had received many proofs of friendship, in secret supplies of fuel and
water. But as his plantations, with numerous detached bodies of his
subjects, were entirety exposed to the power of the Deys, it seemed
absolutely requisite that his friendship with that tribe should not be
affected by any further acts of kindness to a people so inimical to
their views. Hence the suspicions of the colonists became naturally
excited against Bacaia. It appeared that the considerations which had
been so painfully entertained on the part of the colonists, operated no
less powerfully upon the mind of the chief; for he immediately summoned
to his aid one of the most powerful and famous chiefs of the Condoes, by
whose protection he had for many years been sustained in his dangerous
contiguity to such quarrelsome neighbours.

King Boatswain, whose political influence over the maritime tribes of
the country was nearly absolute, and whose name had long been the terror
of his countrymen, replied to the request of his protegee with that
prompt alacrity which characterized all his actions, almost immediately
arriving in person, accompanied with an armed force sufficient to carry
into effect any measure that might seem most desirable to their chief.
He, with that apparent modesty in which extreme pride delights to dress
itself, and which is but another way of exhibiting innate confidence,
assured his allies,--that he came not to _pronounce sentence_ between
the coast natives and the strangers, but _to do justice to all_. He next
convoked the head chiefs of the neighbourhood to a meeting with the
American Agents, who were but just returned to the settlement, having
been absent during the last mentioned events, and principal settlers,
who on their part were required to set forth their grievances and the
nature of their claims. These complained of the dishonesty of the Deys,
in withholding the possession of lands which they had sold, and of the
hostile acts committed against the colonists by King George's people.
These charges were followed by a clamorous discussion on the part of the
accused; which the haughty judge having heard, as long as his patience
served, at length closed, by abruptly rising, with the remark, that, "as
the Deys had sold their country, and accepted a part payment for it,
they must abide the consequences of their indiscretion; and that their
refusal of the balance due to them could not annul nor affect the sale.
Let the Americans," said he, "have their lands immediately. Whoever is
unsatisfied with my decision, let him say so."--Then turning to the
Agents, "I promise you," said he, "protection. If these people give you
further disturbance, send for me. And I swear, that if they oblige me to
come again to quiet them, I will do it effectually, by taking their
heads from their shoulders, as I did that of old King George on my last
visit to settle their disputes."

The necessity of an acquiescence in this decree, being by common consent
allowed, no farther opposition was offered by the natives, and the usual
interchange of presents having been effected, the colonists resumed
their labours with increased zeal and confidence.

On the 26th of April, the colonists took formal possession of the Cape,
but unfortunately so much time had been lost in contesting with the
natives, that, notwithstanding all their industry, the rainy and tornado
season set in while the dwelling-houses were still roofless. In the
island sickness began to make terrible ravages; both the Agents were
among the sufferers, and it was soon evident, that unless a removal from
their insalubrious situation should be speedily effected, the
consequences would be finally fatal. Nor was this their only trial, for
in the midst of this appalling visitation, the gaunt spectre famine
reared its ghastly head, and threatened them with new terrors. In
circumstances so dispiriting, where despair seemed about to crash the
weakened energies of the labourers, and where nothing but activity could
preserve them from the loss of life; it was perhaps more honourable to
Dr. Ayres' benevolence than to his policy, that he proposed to convey
the settlers back to Sierra Leone. It is, however, a fact worthy of
record, as well as of admiration, that only a small part of the
emigrants embraced this proposal. The rest, consisting of twenty-six
persons capable of bearing arms, with a few women and children, together
with Mr. Wiltberger, the Society's assistant agent, remained to combat
the difficulties of their situation; thus nobly affording a pledge to
find for themselves and their brethren a present home, and for the
oppressed African, or the captured slave, a safe asylum on this once
hostile coast.

The settled rains of the season now set in with unusual violence, and
the struggles and hardships endured by this little band cannot be easily
imagined. However, so great was their persevering industry, that before
the first of May several dwelling-houses had been rendered habitable,
with a small frame-house for the Agent; and a storehouse sufficient for
their purposes had been constructed of servicable materials.

In the beginning of July the colonists completed their removal from the
island, each took possession of the humble dwelling that was henceforth
to constitute his home. The Agents had meanwhile both sailed for the
United States, leaving the settlement under the management of one of the
emigrants (Elijah Johnson of New York), who acquitted himself so much to
the satisfaction of the settlers that he now enjoys one of the most
respectable situations in the municipal government, conferred upon him
by the people.

Still the most economical division of their rapidly diminishing store of
provisions, could not enable them to exist through more than half of the
rainy season, and as no present produce could be derived from the soil,
their prospects continued dark and dispiriting, circumstances which
derived no inconsiderable addition from the fact that their stores had
been reported to the managers in the United States as sufficient for a
twelvemonth's consumption. But, as though fortune, at length won to
admiration of their heroic fortitude, had determined to recompense their
sufferings, a vessel arrived, unexpectedly, with a moderate supply of
stores, and thirty-seven persons patronized by the Colonization Society.

This vessel had encountered many difficulties on her passage, but she
arrived safely off Cape Montserado on the 8th of August, being the
middle of the rainy season; here Mr. J. Ashman, who had with a truly
philanthropic feeling undertaken the direction of this expedition,
received the first accounts of the departure of the Agents, and the
disasters of the colony. A fresh difficulty now arose in providing
dwellings for the newly arrived emigrants, as well as a larger and more
secure storehouse for transport stores. And it was not until after four
weeks of incessant labour that Mr. Ashmun had the satisfaction of seeing
the passengers and property all safely landed, and provided with shelter
to secure them from the rains of that inclement season.

He next lost no time in ascertaining the external relations of the
settlement with respect to the temper of their neighbours, and for this
purpose proceeded to conciliate those kings whose alliance he deemed
most desirable. He encouraged them to trade with the colony, and sought
to establish them in amicable bonds, by receiving their sons and
subjects for the purposes of instruction in all those points which form
the basis of civilization. Yet, notwithstanding these pacific measures,
a hostile and malign spirit on the part of the Deys, could not be wholly
concealed. These symptoms rendered it advisable that measures of
permanent defence should be adopted, and on the 18th of August the
present Martello tower was consequently planned and the building
actively commenced.

Their military force was, meanwhile, extremely slender, consisting of
not above thirty men capable of bearing arms. They had forty muskets,
but out of six guns attached to the settlement, one only was fit for
use, four of the remaining number being without carriages. There were no
flints, and but little ammunition. It was soon perceived that a system
of defence was to be originated, without either the materials or
artificers usually considered requisite, but undaunted by obstacles like
these, each difficulty seemed to stimulate the ingenuity of the
colonists to fresh activity and untried resources.

With immense labour the guns were transported over the river, and
conveyed to the height of the peninsula, where they were mounted on
rough truck carriages. Thirteen African youths (attached to the United
States Agency) were next exercised in the daily use of arms. A master of
ordnance was also appointed to repair the small-arms, and to make up a
quantity of cartridges, as well as to arrange minor details for service.

But their chief difficulties arose from the necessity of clearing the
heavy forest from the neighbourhood of the town, and of keeping a
constant nightly watch: a duty which required no less than the services
of twenty men; but, arduous as these were, they were carried on with
unremitting diligence by all whose health remained unaffected by the

At the commencement of the third week after his arrival, the Agent was
attacked with fever; and, a few days after, his wife, whose affectionate
devotion had induced her to accompany him, was seized with symptoms
fatally. The sickness, from this period, made so rapid a progress
amongst the last division of emigrants, that, in a short time, there
were but two of their number who were not on the sick-list.

Notwithstanding the domestic calamity, and the enervating debility which
bowed the energies and spirit of the Agent, he continued, at every
intermission of fever, to direct the operations of the colonists, and to
organize such a plan of defence as he considered necessary to secure the
safety of the settlement; so that, in the event of his death, they might
not be deprived of their security.

To accomplish this purpose, five heavy guns were stationed at the
different points of a triangle, which enclosed the whole town; each
angle resting on a point of ground, sufficiently commanding to enfilade
two sides of the triangle, and to sweep over a considerable extent
beyond the lines. These guns were to be covered by musket-proof
triangular stockades, of which two would be sufficient to contain all
the settlers in their wings. The brass piece, and two swivels, mounted
on travelling carriages, were stationed in the centre, ready to support
the post exposed to the heaviest attack: these detached works were to be
all joined together by a paling, intended to enclose the whole
settlement; meanwhile, the Martello tower was to be carried on with all
possible speed; and it was hoped that this, when completed, would almost
supersede the necessity of the rest, and form an impregnable barrier to

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