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

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I shall conclude my account of this short voyage, by giving a few of the
geographical and meteorological observations, which have been made since
our arrival, with every due attention to accuracy.

Names of Places. | N. lat. | E. lon.
Cape Bullen | 3 deg. 47' 3" | 8 deg. 39' 4"
Point William, or Clarence Town | 3 45 8 | 8 45 0
Cape Horatio | 3 46 25 | 8 54 4
Cape Barrow | 3 11 5 | 8 40 4
Point Charles (S.W. of St. George's Bay)| 3 26 9 | 8 27 7
Goat Island (N.E. of St. George's Bay) | 3 26 9 | 8 32 8
Cape Badgeley, or West Point | 3 19 0 | 8 24 7
Cape Vidal, or East Point | 3 39 3 | 8 56 3
Peak of Clarence Mountain | 3 34 6 | 8 41 5
Peak of the Cameroon Mountain, | 4 13 5 | 9 9 5
on the Mainland of Africa | |

The Cameroon Mountain bears, from Clarence Peak, N. 32 deg. 30 min. E.
at a distance of 48 miles; and from Clarence Town, N. 27 deg. E., the
distance being 31-1/2 miles; while the nearest point from the mainland
is only about 20 miles. From the proximity of this island to the
equinoctial, there is only 14 minutes difference between the longest and
shortest day; and the temperature is so equable, that the thermometer,
throughout the year, never varies more than 10 degrees in the 24 hours.
The spring-tides have a rise and fall between seven and eight feet; and
it is high water all round the island, at the full and change of the
moon, at half after four o'clock. During our absence, the first house
erected in the settlement, had been completed; and Mr. Glover, who was
to inhabit it, had invited his friends to the house-warming on the day
of our return. This house consisted of only one floor, twenty feet
square, and built on piles, with a store-room beneath, the sides of
which are constituted by the piles. Ten other houses, of similar form
and dimensions, are in progress of construction, besides six larger
ones, of forty feet square, and the block-house, which measures fifty by
thirty; the whole consisting of single floors, with store-rooms

_Saturday, Dec. 15_.--The system of labour among the workmen is, to
commence at six in the morning, and leave off at eleven for dinner,
recommencing at one, and concluding at half-past five; after which,
during the remainder of the day, they are allowed to amuse themselves.
The labourers and mechanics have been formed into a militia corps, under
the command of Capt. Harrison, with the rank of Major, and are
occasionally taught to march _en militaire_, and exercised with the
pike, which is, at present, their only weapon; the Eden, having but
twenty muskets to spare, which have been distributed among the
artificers who came out with us from England.

This afternoon, our transport, the Diadem, sailed for Cape Coast Castle.
In the evening, the bugles at Clarence sounded an alarm, in consequence
of the flames of some burning brush-wood accidentally communicating with
one of the huts. It was fortunately soon extinguished, without any
serious injury having been sustained.

_Monday, Dec. 17_.--The Diadem, which sailed on Saturday, was detained
during the whole of yesterday within sight of the island; but, about
noon to-day, a fresh wind springing up from the eastward, she was soon
out of sight. A few days since, our gardener, while digging in Paradise,
turned up a Spanish copper-coin of Charles III., dated 1774, probably a
relic of some ship which had touched here for water.

_Tuesday, Dec. 18_.--Anderson, a black soldier of the Royal African
Corps, whom I have previously mentioned as an interpreter on our arrival
here, was to-day found sleeping on his post, and committed to the
guard-house, from whence he contrived to escape into the woods, with a
view of seeking protection from the natives. Another black soldier was
punished this morning for having quitted his post, and lost his musket,
a few days since, in the following manner. A party of Kroomen being
employed in cutting down wood, some of the natives contrived to steal an
axe and bill-hook. The theft, however, was immediately detected, and a
scuffle ensued, during which this soldier, who was a sentinel near the
spot, threw down his musket, and ran away. The musket was taken
possession of by a native, but subsequently recovered by a Krooman, not,
however, without his first receiving a severe cut on his hand by the
knife of the native. After throwing a few spears, one of which slightly
wounded the head Krooman, the natives got clear off with the bill-hook
and axe. A spear was also thrown at Mr. Davis, the master's assistant,
who was accidentally passing at the time, and whom one of the natives
had even the audacity to attempt to make prisoner; a fate which he only
escaped, from his shirt giving way under the grasp.

When this affair was made known to Captain Harrison, he immediately
proceeded to the market-place, and finding some chiefs there,
communicated to them what had happened. Cut-throat, who was present,
instantly arose, and, after making a speech to his countrymen, formed
them into line, each being armed with the usual number of spears. After
singing a war-song, and making three circular tours, or evolutions, the
whole started off in quest of the thieves, and, in less than an hour,
returned with the axe and bill-hook. Some few days after this event, one
of the natives, who had taken an active part in it, had the effrontery
to enter our lines for the purpose of selling his palm-wine, when he was
immediately secured by the Kroomen, and conducted a prisoner to Captain
Harrison, who sent him on board the Eden, where he was put into irons;
however, this man had committed a previous offence, namely, having
struck Mr. Jeffery two severe blows with a stick, about a month since,
which compelled him to give up the pursuit of a fellow, who had been
endeavouring to impose two calabashes of water upon him, instead of

During the last week, we have had little communication with the natives,
and our supplies of palm-wine, &c., have consequently run short. This
circumstance, we are informed, is attributable to their being occupied
in the yam-plantations. I am inclined to infer, that, if the necessity
really exists for thus employing the whole of the inhabitants in the
culture of this root, the population of the island is not so great as we
have been led to consider it.

_Wednesday, 19_.--At half-past one this morning, a loud splash was heard
in the water, succeeded by the cry of, 'A man overboard.' A boat was
immediately sent, and from the phosphorescence of the water, some one
was discovered swimming towards the shore. On approaching him, he turned
round in the direction of the Eden; and, when within twenty yards of the
ship, he all at once disappeared, and was not seen afterwards. On
inquiry, it was found that the native prisoner who had been confined in
irons on the forecastle, for his participation in the affray I have so
lately described, had contrived to effect his escape. To accomplish
this, he had put his hand down the scuttle over the coppers, and taken
from thence the iron that turns the handles of the dischargers. With the
point of this he had contrived to break off one of the sides of the
padlock which secured his fetters, and thus setting himself at liberty,
he crossed the deck to the gangway, opposite to where the sentry was
placed, when he mounted the railings, and immediately plunged into the
sea. It is singular, with respect to this prisoner, that his countrymen
shewed very little solicitude about him: and we therefore had reason to
think that he was no favourite with them. When they did inquire after
him, it was to know whether we had not cut his throat. The King of
Baracouta's brother once asked Captain Owen what he intended to do with
him; and, on being informed that he meant to keep him for a time in
irons, and then, after a gentle flagellation, dismiss him, expressed his
astonishment at this lenity, and made signs that we ought to cut his
throat. It is true we sometimes had, as might be expected, very
different versions of the signs of these natives; but, in the present
instance, they could not well be misunderstood.

Captain Owen, attended by a small party of marines, went on shore at an
early hour, to hold a Court of Inquiry on twelve African soldiers, for
refusing to attend the punishment of their comrade (an Ashantee) on the
preceding day. They were found guilty, and sentenced to receive three
hundred lashes each. After a part of this punishment had been inflicted,
they were sent on board the Eden.

_Thursday, 20_.--Anderson, the African soldier, who escaped from
confinement on Tuesday, was met in the woods this morning by a serjeant
of his company, to whom he immediately surrendered himself, and who
placed him under charge of another soldier. Apprehensive, however, of
the consequences of his double offence, he shortly after contrived to
give his guard the slip, and again effected his escape. The above
mentioned serjeant also detected a labourer in the act of lowering a
piece of iron from a cliff, with the intention of selling it to the
natives, whose canoes were lying off the beach. Having first secured the
offender, he then fired his musket at one of the canoes, without
injuring, or intending to injure, the men whom it contained, and the aim
was so unerring, that the ball penetrated through the bottom of the
canoe, in such a manner that it immediately began to fill with water;
this terrified the natives so much, that they all leaped overboard, and
swimming to another canoe, left their own, with her cargo of sheep,
fowls, &c. to its fate. This might truly be termed a good hit.

In the afternoon I went on shore at Adelaide Point, where, it is said,
the Spaniards had a battery. Whether this be true or not, the spot is
well adapted for one; it is now entirely covered over with remarkably
thick brushwood, which Captain Owen has ordered to be cleared off, with
the intention of forming a road, through the woods, to Longfield.
Hospital-Assistant Cowen found to-day a silver Spanish coin, in
Paradise, near the same spot where the copper one before mentioned was
discovered, and which bears the same date.

_Friday, 21_.--This morning, Matthew Elwood died, after an illness of 25
days. His complaint was a remittent fever, taken on our short journey
into the interior. On the third day after our return, he took to his
bed, from which he never rose again, excepting on the day previous to
his death, when, under a state of mental aberration, he secretly took
off his shirt, and threw himself from out of the port-hole near his bed
into the sea; he was soon taken up, but his delirium continued until he
expired. At five this afternoon he was buried in Paradise. My other
companion, John Debenham, has also been ill ever since our return, with
an ulcerated leg, occasioned by the bites of insects, and which, at
present, shews little disposition to heal.

_Saturday, 22_.--A sheep was killed this morning, one of whose hind
quarters weighed four pounds and two ounces, and which, although not
fat, was the largest native sheep we have yet met with. About a
fortnight since five were slaughtered, which altogether weighed but
sixty pounds, and, consequently, averaged only twelve pounds each.

_Sunday, 23_.--During the last week we have experienced much thunder and
lightning. Our fishermen attribute their want of success to this cause;
for the fishery has been unusually unproductive. Early this morning it
began to rain, and for an hour continued to do so more heavily than any
of us had before witnessed, after which; a smaller rain continued until
eleven o'clock, when it cleared off, and the remainder of the day was
fine. In the evening, a number of native fishing boats assembled between
Point William, and the Eden, and as their proceedings on the occasion
particularly attracted our attention, I shall take this opportunity of
describing the peculiar method of fishing which they make use of.

A number of canoes, containing from three to twelve men, put out to sea,
to look for a shoal of fish; when discovered, they surround it on all
sides, shouting and splashing the water with their paddles in every
direction, endeavouring to drive it towards a centre. This done, they
commence fishing, using for the bait a small fish with which they are
previously provided, and they occasionally throw a few of these into the
midst of the shoal. The fish appear to take this bait very eagerly; but,
as the hooks which the natives use, are made of bone or nails, and
without barbs,[32] not more than half the number struck in the first
instance, are eventually secured. Two men paddle the canoe in the
direction of the shoal, while the remainder are occupied in fishing.
Captain Owen went in his boat, and pulled towards the party; we were
much interested with their operations and success. At his invitation,
after the fishing had concluded, one of the canoes brought us some very
fine ones, a species of bream, weighing from two to three pounds each.
This was the first time I ever knew fish caught, in deep water at sea,
with a rod and line.

_Monday, Dec. 24_.--In the course of the day, a party of natives brought
on board three black men, inhabitants of the Island of St. Thomas, who,
six months before, had taken refuge in Fernando Po, under the following
circumstances:--During the time they were engaged in fishing, a strong
wind arose, which drove them out to sea. Unable to contend against the
power of the gale, they deemed it prudent to keep the canoe before it,
and even assist with their paddles, in hopes of sooner falling in with
land, and thus escape starvation. In this manner they continued drifting
for eight days without fresh water, or any kind of provisions, excepting
the few fish they had caught before the gale arose, the greater part of
which were thrown overboard, in consequence of their getting into a
state of excessive putridity. At length they came in sight of Fernando
Po. Some of the natives came off to them in their canoes, and took them
ashore on the eastern part of the island. Here they had been compelled
to remain, devoid of all hopes of returning, until they saw our
steam-vessel making its late circumnavigation of the island. This opened
to them a new and cheering prospect; and they determined to attempt
reaching our settlement overland, by travelling at night, and secreting
themselves during the day, in order that the natives might not interrupt
their escape. Previously to the discovery of our steam-vessel, they had
frequently heard the reports of our morning and evening gun: this had
led them to the belief, that some Europeans were resident on the island,
and now afforded them the proper line of direction for their march.
After travelling for three nights, and at the time of their approaching
our settlement, they were discovered by the natives, who, in the first
instance, attempted to force them back to their former residence. The
poor creatures, however, made so much noise and resistance, that,
apprehending the fact would transpire and excite our displeasure, it was
at length determined to conduct them to us. One of them was a Fantee,
and had resided at the Dutch settlement of Elmina, where a black man of
our party, who was no less a personage than a son of the King of Cape
Coast, although now discharging the humble office of gun-room steward of
the Eden, had frequently seen him.

At the time these men arrived on board, several natives were with us,
and among the rest, our friend Cut-throat. No sooner did the Fantee fix
his eyes upon him, than, to the astonishment of all present, they began
to flash with indignation, while the countenance of Cut-throat assumed
proportionably the expression of sheepishness. The cause of this proved
to be, that, when they first landed on the island, our old friend had
stolen a shirt from him; in other respects, however, I believe they had
little reason to complain of the treatment they experienced: for they
had not been compelled to work, excepting occasionally assisting in
fishing, and they had been permitted to reside by themselves; it is
true, on the other hand, that they had little hospitality to be grateful
for, having been compelled to subsist on a scanty supply of yams and

During the last week, the natives had, without any apparent reason,
absented themselves from the settlement; to-day, however, they returned
in great numbers, and among the rest, our old friend Cut-throat,
exhibiting a large gash on his forehead. He gave us to understand, that
there had been some warfare between the various tribes, concerning a
quantity of iron, probably that which Chameleon's party had stolen from
Messrs. Vidal and Jeffery.

_Tuesday, Dec. 25_.--This being Christmas-day, Captain Owen selected it
for taking formal possession of the settlement, in the name, and on
behalf of his Sovereign, George the Fourth. At seven o'clock in the
morning, accompanied by most of his officers and ship's company, he went
on shore for this purpose. The different parties of our colony being
assembled, the whole marched in procession, from the border parade, in
the following order, with bugles, drums and fifes, playing alternately:--

Captains Owen and Harrison,
Surgeon Cowen and Lieutenant Holman,
Messrs. Jeffery and Carter,
The Surgeon and Purser of the Eden,
The European Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Glover,
Lieutenant Vidal, with half the Eden's ship's company,
and the Midshipmen of his division,
The Colours, carried by Mr. Wood,
The Band,
Lieutenant Badgeley, with half the Eden's ship's company,
and the Midshipmen of his division,
The Marines and Royal African Corps, under Lieutenant Mends,
The Clarence Militia, under their respective Officers:
First Division--Lieutenant Morrison,
Second Division--Lieutenant Abbott,
Third Division--Ensign Matthews,
Tom Liverpool's party, under Bell,
Ben Gundo's party, under Miller.

On arriving at the Point, the different divisions were formed around the
flag-staff; and the colours having been first hoisted, the following
Proclamation was read:--

'_Proclamation_,--By William Fitzwilliam Owen, Esq. Captain of His
Majesty's ship Eden, and Superintendent of Fernando Po.

'His Majesty, George the Fourth, King of Great Britain and Ireland,
has been graciously pleased to direct that a settlement by his
Majesty's subjects should be established on the Island of Fernando Po,
and his Royal Highness the Lord High Admiral having selected me for
the performance of this service, the formation of the said settlement
has been entrusted to me, under the title and denomination of

'In obedience to the orders of his Royal Highness the Lord High
Admiral, I directed the first operations of clearing the land on this
point (Point William) to be commenced on the first day of November
last, and on the tenth and twelfth following, purchased from the
native chiefs, and from the tenants of one small part of that ground
which I desired to occupy, the full right of property and possession,
for which iron was paid to the amount of three bars, and land-marks
fixed by the native chiefs, to shew the extent of ground so bought.

'_Therefore_, in the name of God, by whose grace we have been thus
successful, and for the sole use and benefit of his most gracious
Majesty, George the Fourth, King of Great Britain and Ireland, I do,
by this public act, take possession of all the land bought by me as
aforesaid, under the future name of _Clarence_, being all the land
bounded on the north by the sea, on the east and south by Hay-brook,
and on the west by a line running from the sea due south, by the
magnetic needle, or south-south-east, by the pole of the world, until
it joins Hay-brook, the Peninsula of Point William included in the
same, being in north latitude about three degrees and forty-five
minutes, and east longitude from the Observatory of Greenwich, about
eight degrees and forty-five minutes, and the aforesaid western
boundary being taken from a tree marked by the natives, which is two
hundred and eighteen yards from the gate of the ditch across the gorge
of Point William, and bearing, therefore, south twenty and a half
degrees west by the magnetic needle, or south two degrees and thirty
minutes east by the pole of the world.

'And, in testimony of this public act, I command all persons present
to attach their names to this Proclamation, as witnesses of the same.

'Done by me on Point William, in the settlement of Clarence, on the
Island of Fernando Po, this one thousand eight hundred and
twenty-seventh anniversary of the birth of our blessed Saviour and
Redeemer, and in the eighth year of the reign of his present Majesty.


_Captain of his Majesty's ship Eden, and Superintendent of Fernando


The following additional Proclamation was then read:--

'_Proclamation_,--By William Fitzwilliam Owen, Esq. Captain of his
Majesty's ship Eden, and Superintendent of Fernando Po.

'It has become necessary to extend our lines for the purpose of
keeping the natives more separate from our working parties, which are,
at times, much incommoded by them, and for the purpose of possessing
ground enough for our own establishment.

'_Therefore_, I do, by this act, formally take possession for his
Majesty, of all unpossessed lands lying between a line running south,
by the compass, or south-south-east by the pole of the world, from
Cockburn-brook on the west, to Hay-brook on the south, and the
coast-line between the said Cockburn and Hay-brooks, including therein
the two islets named Adelaide; guaranteeing, at the same time, to the
natives of Fernando Po, perfect security, and unmolested possession of
all such grounds within the said limits as are now settled or
appropriated by them, being apparently four small spots where they
have parks for store yams, which grounds are to be purchased whenever
the chiefs can be assembled for that purpose, and the said natives are
disposed to receive an equivalent for their value.

'Given under my hand, at Clarence, this twenty-fifth day of December,
one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven.


_Captain of his Majesty's ship Eden, and Superintendent of Fernando


The above Proclamations having been read, three general cheers were
given, on a signal from the boatswain's pipe, after which the band
struck up 'God save the King,' succeeded by a _feu de joie_ from the
volunteers, marines, and African corps, which was immediately responded
to, by a royal salute, from His Majesty's ship Eden, the Steam-vessel,
and the African (a merchant schooner), and afterwards from small cannon
at the settlement.

The ceremony being thus concluded, the different parties marched off in
the same order as before, and were dismissed to their respective
quarters, the band playing 'Rule Britannia.' On returning to the Eden,
Capt. Owen performed divine service, Captain Harrison doing the same to
the civil establishment on shore; after which, Capt. Owen gave a dinner,
at Mr. Glover's house, to the whole of the officers engaged in the
establishment. It only remains to be added to the events of this day,
that many of the natives, including our friend Cut-throat, were present
during its different ceremonies.

_Tuesday, January 1, 1828_.--During the past week nothing of importance
has occurred, excepting that our works are rapidly advancing; as
respects our general pursuits, and intercourse with the natives, much
sameness must necessarily exist.

Soon after eight o'clock this morning. Captains Owen and Harrison,
attended by a party of marines, proceeded to a native town, eight miles
to the eastward, for the purpose of meeting an old chief, who was said
to be the principal one on that part of the island. After they had
waited a considerable time at the place appointed, the chief made his
appearance, accompanied by 150 spearmen, who entertained our party with
an exhibition of warlike evolutions, when Captain Owen, in return,
directed his marines to go through their military exercise; but, before
they had proceeded far, the chief became evidently much alarmed, and
requested them to desist: his apprehension appeared to be more
particularly excited by the bayonets. Having spent a short time with the
chief, partaking of his palm-wine, and inviting him to return the visit
on the following Tuesday, Captain Owen took his leave.

In the course of the afternoon Chameleon came to our market, accompanied
by nearly 150 of his followers, all well armed with spears, and walked
up to Mr. Jeffery in a menacing and insulting manner, as if to demand
satisfaction for some injury he had sustained. He even carried his
daring so far as to make a seizure of Mr. Jeffery's person; that
gentleman immediately despatched a messenger to Captain Owen to
communicate what had happened, requesting at the same time that some
soldiers might be sent to his assistance, in order to prevent further
aggression on our lines. Captain Owen immediately hastened to the spot
with a party of the Royal African Corps, and at length succeeded in
conciliating the natives, although, for want of a good interpreter, he
could by no means satisfactorily ascertain the cause of their violent
proceedings. It probably originated in the discontent of the chief, who
had, on the day preceding, in consequence of some misconduct, been
excluded from the market.

At five o'clock I had the pleasure of accompanying Captain Owen on shore
to a banquet, that had been prepared in honour of him by the civil and
military officers of the establishment. On this occasion the Eden's band
attended, and we were also favoured by the presence of many of the
natives, who were thus enabled to gratify their love of music. The
following ludicrous instance of their enthusiasm in this respect,
occurred one day while the band were playing on the quarter-deck of the
Eden. A chief, named Good-tempered Jack, while listening to the music,
was so absorbed in his feelings, that he became totally insensible to
the circumstance of a native woman, who stood behind him, giving way to
her own raptures, by beating time, with no little vehemence, on his

_Thursday, 3_.--Lieutenant Vidal, Captain Smith, of the African,
schooner, and others, made an excursion, about eight miles up the
Baracouta river, this morning. They proceeded partly by walking along
the banks, and partly by wading up the bed of the river. They met with
little of interest, excepting that, at about three miles from the mouth,
they observed some fine basaltic pillars: they also shot a few snipes,
and saw the tracks of many deer.

_Friday, 4_.--Our old acquaintance, Bottle-nose, was to-day found guilty
of an indirect mode of stealing, by demanding payment a second time,
with the greatest possible coolness and effrontery, for a sheep, and a
goat with its kid, for which he had previously received the stipulated
price. Mr. Jeffery, of course, resisted the demand, and brought forward
several persons who most satisfactorily proved the former payment. Mr.
Bottle-nose, however, would not be satisfied with this, and had even the
presumption to complain to Captain Owen, who, on inquiry, was convinced
that he was guilty of an intentional attempt at imposition; he, however,
ordered the animals in question to be returned, but gave directions that
he should never in future be permitted to enter the market, or in any
shape trade with our establishment. This man had also, on the very same
day, been detected in two or three attempts to steal a knife, and
various pieces of iron. It is evident, from the above and other traits,
that the natives of this island, like all other savage nations, are
naturally addicted to thieving: from the fear of detection, however, the
instances of their venturing to indulge the propensity, do not appear to
be numerous.

_Monday, 7_.--After breakfasting on board the steam-vessel, I
accompanied Lieutenant Vidal and Mr. Cowen on shore, for the purpose of
making observations. In the first place, we investigated the process for
making a beautiful lake-red pigment, which is conducted by the women,
the paint being used as an ornament for their skins. On entering the hut
of an old chief, to whom our visit was more particularly directed, we
found him sitting on the ground, with one of his wives in the same
position holding a calabash, containing a mess of fowl and palm-oil,
which he was eating with one hand, while the other held a roasted yam,
which he also occasionally partook of. Having finished his repast, he
took a draught from a large calabash of palm-wine, which he then
presented to us, having, however, previously poured some into another
vessel, which he gave to his wife. When the lady had finished her
draught, she went to a tree near the hut, whose leaves and berries
resembled those of our laurel, and plucking off about a dozen of the
younger leaves, made them up into a bundle, which she first dipped into
water, and afterwards into wood-ashes; they were then ground into a pulp
on a stone, whose surface formed an inclined place, from which the
material was allowed to run off when sufficiently prepared. On rubbing a
portion of this pulp on our hands and faces, it became, after drying, a
most beautiful and delicate rose colour, which required several times
washing with soap and water before it could be removed, and which, if
allowed to remain without washing, would retain its brilliancy for a
comparatively long time. Mr. Cowen professed his intention of preparing
a quantity of this dye, to send to his fair friends in England.

We also observed the process for preparing the palm-oil which I have
before described. This oil, from the great number of palm-trees in the
island, will, without doubt, ultimately become a considerable article of
trade; indeed Captain Smith, of the African, schooner, has already
opened a traffic for it, giving iron in exchange.

Two of the Kroomen to-day knocked down a fine buck deer, one of the
haunches of which weighed six pounds.

_Tuesday, 8_.--Our market at Longfield, which of late has been held only
twice in the week, when the natives are summoned by the sound of the
bugle, has been well attended to-day. Hitherto Mr. Jeffery has had the
superintendence of it, and it is impossible to pay too high a tribute to
his exertions, and the manner in which he has discharged the very
arduous task of conducting the barter with the natives. The system acted
upon has now become so well defined, that Captain Owen deems it
sufficient to commit the future charge to a corporal of marines, who
has to-day entered on this duty.

_Thursday, 10_.--A native afflicted with insanity came within our lines
this morning, and continued there until the afternoon. The conduits, or
shoots from the watering-place to the beach, were this day reported to
be completed.

_Saturday, 12_.--We have for some days been experiencing close warm
weather, which I regret to say has proved unfavourable to our invalids,
the ulcerations having in consequence been apparently aggravated.

_Monday, 14_.--Mr. Abbott, the store-keeper at Clarence, and John Earle,
seaman of H.M.S. Eden, who had charge of the ordnance at the settlement,
died this afternoon from intermittent fever.

_Thursday, 17_.--At daylight, the African, steam-vessel, got up her
anchor and steam; when she stood out of the bay and parted company for
England, intending to call at Sierra Leone, for a fresh supply of coals.
She was under the command of Lieut. Vidal, who was charged with
despatches relating to the proceedings of the settlement, &c. Mr.
Bremner, master of the Eden, as well as several invalids, went home
passengers in her: and I availed myself of the opportunity of sending
home numberless specimens of articles used by the natives, amongst which
were the following--the model of a canoe, spears, fishing lines, and
stone slings, made from the fibre of the bark of a tree, bracelets,
armlets, and other trifling ornaments worn about their person; a knife,
made out of an iron hoop, and fitted into a wooden handle; a bell-shaped
wooden rattle, some small boxes, made of split cane, monkey skins, &c.

A building, composed of the frames of two small houses, each twenty feet
square, having been erected, near Point William, for an hospital, it was
this day reported to be ready for the reception of the sick, and 17
seamen of the Eden, with bad ulcers, were sent on shore to occupy it,
leaving 15 on board with the same complaint, besides a few fever cases;
there were also eight more ulcer cases that had been on shore for some
time under a tent, near Point William. This situation was chosen by
Capt. Owen for the hospital, as it was near the extreme point of a small
peninsula, on which the prevailing wind blows transversely, therefore,
if any spot on the settlement, or near the sea-shore of any part of the
island was healthy, it is reasonable to suppose that this would be. The
house consisted of only one floor, with a good broad verandah all round
it, shingled in the same way as the roof of the house.[33]

_Friday, 18_.--This morning, one of the African Corps followed the
example of our interpreter, Anderson, with this difference, however,
that when he ran away, he took his musket and accoutrements with him. I
do not see what advantage they proposed to themselves by going amongst
the islanders, as they did not speak their language, and could not
expect to procure the means of support, without working hard for it. The
only point in their favour was, that they were of the same colour.

This afternoon the Eden's boats were sent after a vessel in the offing,
which proved to be a sloop laden with palm-oil, from the Old Calabar
River, bound to Liverpool. A few guanas have been seen here, and the
Kroomen caught one a few days since, which they considered a great
treat, and had cooked agreeably to their taste; but no venomous animal,
except a few snakes, has yet been discovered. The guana is harmless,
and, in some countries, is used for food. It is common to Asia, Africa,
and America. Fortunately the alligator has not been seen in any of the
rivers here, notwithstanding that they are native to all the rivers of
the proximate continent. The cause, no doubt, is, that the rivers on the
island, are mere mountain streams, which are very unfavourable to the
retreat or repose of those reptiles.

_Saturday, 19_.--Soon after midnight, I accompanied Lieutenant Badgeley
from his Majesty's ship Eden, on board the schooner African, Captain
Smith, when we got under weigh to proceed round the coast of the Bight
of Biafra, between the Camaroon River and Cape Formosa, for the purpose
of cruising off, and entering any of the rivers, in quest of vessels
trading for slaves, where we might have reason to believe that the
inhuman traffic was pursued. The weather was very unpropitious during
the night, for we had it squally, with heavy rain, thunder and
lightning; but it cleared up in the course of the morning, and, at noon,
it was calm and fine;--soon after which we saw a strange vessel, which
we supposed to be a slaver: we, therefore, used every effort to overtake
her, getting out our sweeps, and sending the Eden's pinnace a-head to
tow; which boat, with a good crew of English sailors, Lieutenant
Badgeley had brought with him, to assist in performing the service. We
had not advanced far towards the strange sail, before we observed two
boats coming from her, which came alongside of us about three in the
afternoon, when we found that they belonged to his Majesty's brig
Clinker, which was well manned and armed, and that they entertained the
same suspicions of our purpose as we had held of theirs. The Clinker was
in the very best order, and was commanded by Lieutenant Matson, a most
active and experienced officer.

I would here remark, that if we desire to be eminently successful in
putting down the slave-trade, our Government ought to select vessels of
a peculiar description, I mean vessels constructed principally for
sailing; for, in the first instance, the very service on which they are
employed is that of chasing vessels that have been built with a special
regard to swiftness on the water. The consequence of the unfitness of
our ships for this particular service, is, that of the number of slavers
that we descry in these seas, the captures make but a small proportion.

If we had a few of the large class of Baltimore schooners, with a long
12 or 18 pounder a-midships for a chase-gun, and a few carronades for
close action, with a good crew well trained to the sweeps; and a few
brigs similar to the well known Black Joke, I would venture to say, that
they would be more successful, and less expensive to Government, than
the class of vessels that have hitherto been employed on this service.
Instead of a large frigate, with a Commodore's Pennant, we might have a
first class flush-deck sloop of war, built principally for fast sailing,
with a distinguished young Post Captain to command her; for activity and
experience on this coast are more wanted than large ships and officers
of high rank, as there is not much diplomatic business to be carried on
with the African nations. It may also be observed that it is a very safe
coast to navigate, for if you will but sound in time, you may always be
apprized of danger soon enough to avoid it. The worst weather is during
the tornado season, and these squalls, of which there is always timely
notice, generally come off the land, and do not last, on an average,
more than a couple of hours.

At six we anchored off the entrance of the main channel into the old
Calabar river, in company with H.M. brig Clinker; entrance of the Rio
del Rey bearing E.N.E.

_Sunday, 20_.--We got under weigh at an early hour this morning, with
the intention of proceeding up the old Calabar, so far as Duke's Town,
off which place the palm-oil vessels, and slavers, generally anchor.
H.M. brig Clinker also got under weigh at the same time, with the
intention of accompanying us a short distance within the bar, where she
was to have anchored; while her boats were to have gone with us, for the
purpose of assisting in the capture of any slave-vessel that might be up
the river, but it unfortunately fell calm about 9 o'clock, when
Lieutenant Matson came on board and acquainted Lieutenant Badgeley that
he was afraid the expedition up the river would detain him longer than
he had expected, and he must therefore relinquish his intentions, and
proceed direct for Fernando Po, in order to obtain a supply of
provisions, of which they had much need. At noon there was a moderate
breeze, and fine clear weather. East point of the old Calabar N.N.E. 7
miles: but the wind being down the river, we were employed working up
all the afternoon, and having no pilot on board, we occasionally got
rather too close to the mud banks on either side, and once we tacked in
two fathoms water, which is just as much as would keep the vessel
afloat. She was fortunately a very beautiful American pilot-boat
schooner, that with the least breeze was as manageable as a boat. We
scaled the guns, and otherwise prepared for action, for there was no
doubt but that any slave-vessel would resist to the utmost, if there was
the least chance of escape. We were afraid that they might obtain
information of our movements, before we got up to Duke's Town, where
they generally receive their slaves on board, for when they are nearly
ready for sea, they always keep a canoe on the look out at the mouth of
the river, to report when any men-of-war appear on the coast, so that
they might have time to disembark their slaves, before men-of-war, or
their boats, can reach them; for although vessels may be fitted up with
a slave deck, and have every preparation on board for their reception,
you cannot condemn them, unless you actually find slaves on board.

At 4 the east point of Old Calabar river W.N.W. 7 miles. Anchored at

_Monday, 21_.--Unsettled weather and wind variable. At daylight got
under weigh. At noon light breezes and hazy.

From 4 to 6 this evening we passed between two lines of fishing-stakes,
indeed we found that a number of large stakes were driven into the mud
banks, in different situations, outside the entrance of the Old Calabar,
some of them a considerable distance from the land; and there were long
lines of them a short distance from each other.

I endeavoured in vain to find out the reason for placing these stakes in
such situations, many of which were covered with water at the highest
time of the tides. They are called fishing-stakes, and boats certainly
do sometimes go and make fast to them for that purpose, as well as to
wait the turning of the tide, when they are going to places at any
distance along the coast, yet one would think that they would hardly
take so much trouble as to bring, and place so great a number as there
are, and many of them several miles from the land, merely for the above
purposes. They make it very dangerous for boats, or small vessels,
navigating those places in the dark, who are not acquainted with their
existence. If I were allowed to hazard a conjecture on the subject, I
should think they were placed there for the above reason, as men-of-war
often send their boats up the rivers at night in quest of slave-vessels,
for the purpose of coming on them by surprise, and thereby prevent them
from landing the slaves which might be on board preparatory to sailing;
also to get quietly alongside of them in any part of the river, where
they might have anchored for the night, or the turning of the tide, with
their slaves on board, on their way to sea. About 9 o'clock we
unexpectedly found ourselves within the bar of the Old Camaroon river,
where we anchored for the night.

The tide was running strong, taking the various directions of the coasts
and rivers, and very perplexing to strangers. Unfortunately, there was
no one on board who had ever been here before, and not having been able
to procure a pilot, we were compelled to grope our way, both by night
and by day, with only a rough sketch of a chart to guide us.

_Tuesday, 22_.--At daylight we got under weigh, and endeavoured to
regain the channel of the Old Calabar river, but we found the tide
stronger than the wind, and that it had carried us on a mud-flat off
little Quay river, which, at about half ebb left the schooner aground,
this obliged us to get some spars out, to prop her up on each side. At
which time we were in the following situation: West point of Old
Calabar river, W. by S. Fish Town point N. by W. 1/2 W. and the
entrance of little Quay river N.N.E. At 5 in the afternoon we got the
spars in and laid a small anchor out, with the assistance of a boat, by
which, and other aid, we hoped to get the vessel entirely clear of the
bank: but we only partly succeeded that tide, for on the return of low
water, we were obliged to have recourse to the same means of propping
her up, from there not being two feet water left on the bank.

[31] The calabashes are taken down, and replaced by others, every
morning and evening.

[32] We have met with some hooks made from the part of the solid wood of
a prickly tree, or shrub, whence the thorn grows, and which process
formed the pointed part of the hook.

[33] Wood is seldom found to be desirable for building in a hot country,
from the numerous ants and other insects that assail it, particularly
where the changes are so frequent from very dry to very moist weather,
if we had had time, it would have been much better to have erected our
buildings with brick or stone. There is, indeed, plenty of fine clay for
the former; but building stones are scarce in that neighbourhood, and we
had not sufficient lime,--as we had to procure burnt lime from Sierra
Leone, or shells from Accra, both of which we obtained for the building
of an armourer's shop and a bakehouse. Indeed, we were obliged to use
the utmost exertion to get any thing erected to shelter the Europeans
and African soldiers, before the rainy season set in. As for the African
mechanics and labourers, they built their own huts, in certain lines,
that we called streets.


Slave Canoe--Duke's Pilot--Old Calabar Town--Consternation on Shore,
and disappearance of the Slave Vessels--Fruitless Pursuit of the
Slavers--Eyo Eyo, King Eyo's Brother--Old Calabar Festivals--Attempted
Assassination, and Duke Ephraim's Dilemma--Obesity of the King's
Wives--Ordeal for Regal Honours--Duke's English House--Coasting Voyage
to the Bonny--Author discovers Symptoms of Fever--The Rivers of St.
Nicholas, Sombrero, St. Bartholomew, and Sta. Barbara--"The Smokes"--
Capture of a Spanish Slave Vessel in the River St. John--Nun, or First
Brass River, discovered to be the Niger--Natural Inland Navigation--
New Calabar River--Pilot's Jhu Jhu--Foche Island--Author Sleeps on
Shore--Bonny Bath--Interview with King Peppel--Ceremony of
opening the Trade--Rashness of a Slave Dealer--Horrible Fanaticism--
Schooner at Sea--Return to Fernando Po

_Wednesday, January 23, 1828_.--Fortunately the wind was light, for had
it blown hard, the result might have been fatal to the vessel. At seven
in the morning, we found the vessel afloat, and attempted, with a small
anchor and cable, assisted by the sails, to get her over the mud: but,
at eleven o'clock, we were again stuck fast. In the afternoon, we sent a
letter by a Krooman, in a small canoe, to Captain Cumings, of the brig
Kent, lying off the town of Old Calabar, commonly called Duke's Town, as
the king of that country is generally known by the name and title of
Duke Ephraim. In about a couple of hours, the Krooman returned, in
consequence of having met with a very large canoe coming down on her
passage to the Camaroon river, to purchase slaves. He induced the
Captain to come on board, but the appearance of a schooner, with so
large a boat and so many hands, evidently created some suspicion in his
mind. He was too much a man of the world, however, not to affect a
confidence, which we were all persuaded he did not feel:--he drank some
rum, and carried himself with consummate self-possession; gave us all
the Calabar news he could recollect, and demanded our latest
intelligence in return. When the conversation was exhausted, and a good
opportunity occurred for taking leave, he departed; heartily rejoiced,
no doubt, at escaping with so much tact. His canoe was about fifty feet
long, with a small thatched house built on a platform in the centre. The
paddles were worked by boys, under the direction of two men, who gave
out a song when pulling. There were two poor creatures, whom we supposed
to be slaves, confined in irons, at one end of the boat.

About nine we got clear of the mud-flats, after a great deal of trouble,
with hawsers and a small anchor; we then stood up the river, and at
eleven anchored for the night.

_Thursday, 24_.--Fresh breezes from the northward, and very hazy. The
wind coming from the Camaroon mountains, increased the haziness of the
atmosphere, and made it feel very cold. Soon after daylight, when the
tide answered, we got under weigh, and beat up the river. About eleven,
we came to an anchor off Parrott Island, the north end of which bore
S.W. 1/2 W. and the north end of James's Island N. by E. At three in the
afternoon, a pilot came on board, and, at five, Captain Smith, with
Lieutenant Badgeley, went up to the brig Kent, off Duke's Town, to
procure information.

_Friday, 25_.--At three this morning, the same party returned; and, soon
after daylight, we got the schooner under weigh, to beat up the river,
and the Duke's head pilot came on board, when to prove the confidence
that might be reposed in him, he brought a certificate from Lieutenant
Corry, of H.M.S. North Star, which stated that he had piloted that
ship's boats up the river, as well as conducted them down, with a
slave-vessel that they had seized. We blackened the schooner's yellow
sides with a mixture of gunpowder and water. This, however, was not a
very safe pigment, for if a spark of fire had happened to have come in
contact with any part of her side, it would have communicated from one
extremity to the other: but it served for a temporary disguise, which
was all we required.

About noon, we came abreast of the town of Old Calabar, where we
observed the greatest confusion. Armed men, of different colours and
nations, were running about in all directions, preparing, as we
imagined, to oppose our landing, for it was evident they were alarmed at
our appearance, which sufficiently indicated our intentions. The
slave-vessels, afraid of being seized, had disappeared from before the
town, and gone farther up the river before we arrived, so that, however
we might have been otherwise disposed, we did not drop anchor, but
continued to advance as long as the tide served, which was till
half-past one, when the wind failing, we were obliged to anchor. The
Duke's pilot, when we were off the town, requested to leave us for a
short time; he said, he "must go tell Duke news, and come back
directly." We afterwards discovered that his pretence to go ashore, was
merely a subterfuge to get away altogether, for he never returned, and
we had good reason for believing, that all the people, from the Duke (or
King, which is the same thing) to the meanest of his subjects, secretly
abet the unlawful proceedings of the slavers, by whom they realize much
larger profits than by the regular traders. At three, we sent the small
canoe, with two Kroomen, up the river, to ascertain the situation of the
slave-vessels, and soon got under weigh to follow them; but the wind
dying off towards sunset, we were obliged to anchor again. About an hour
afterwards, our canoe returned, with information that three slave
schooners, and a brig, had gone still farther up the river, indeed, as
far as the navigation of the river would allow, where they had fortified
themselves in the strongest manner, to resist any attack on our part:
having also the support of all the authorities of the native towns and
villages that could, with any show of prudence, be extended to them. We
also understood, that they had not a slave on board of either of them,
which was likely enough, as it is not customary to put them on board
until they are on the point of sailing. These circumstances determined
Lieutenant Badgeley to return to the town, in which resolution he was
also influenced by the consideration of the inferiority of our force. A
schooner of 120 tons, with no more than twenty Europeans on board; the
crew of the vessel being Africans (as the crews of most of the colonial
vessels that navigate this coast are,) could have but a poor chance
against five vessels, mustering not less than 150 white men of different
nations, and reckoning 30 guns to our six. The caution evinced by this
step, however justified by circumstances, did not, I must confess,
appear to me to be very creditable to our character, and must have made
us look very foolish. After having chased the slavers so far up the
river, we ought to have brought the matter to an issue, particularly as
we had the eyes of all the country upon us, and were regarded with great
anxiety by the people of Old Calabar town, as well as by the crews of
the British merchant-vessels in the river. The affair gave the slavers
an opportunity of exulting over our failure, and their own good fortune;
which, I think, was to be regretted. On going down the river, a large
canoe came alongside with one of the great men of the country on board,
named Eyo Eyo, a brother to King Eyo; when he asked for a present, and
something to drink, the customary demand of the natives. We presented
him with a few leaves of tobacco, which appeared to amuse him
exceedingly: he held them up with a contemptuous sneer, and asked if
that was a present? This man was as shrewd a fellow as any we met with,
in Old Calabar, and had long been accustomed to trade, and receive
presents, from captains of slavers, and palm-oil vessels.

At nine, we arrived off Robin's Town, where a canoe met us, with a note
from Captain Cumings, of the Kent, informing us, that a Frenchman had
entered his palm-oil house, and deliberately shot his second mate
through the body.

There are two grand festivals here, which take place every eighth day in
succession. Old Calabar day, which was yesterday; and Duke's day, which
happens to-day. The succession of these festivals is curious enough;
that which takes place on Thursday in this week, will be on Friday in
the next week; and the one on Friday this week, will be on Saturday in
the following week, and so on.

_Saturday, 26_.--We got under weigh, and dropped down with the ebb tide,
abreast of Duke's Town, a distance of three miles, where we anchored. We
had not been long here before the Duke, attended by a number of his
black gentlemen, and followed by Captain Cumings, of the Kent, came on
board to have a grand palaver with Lieutenant Badgeley, concerning the
attempted assassination of Captain Cumings' mate, on the preceding day.
The Frenchman's name was Ferrard, and this monster was no less than the
Captain of a slave-vessel. The cause of this palaver, was an imperative
demand, on the part of Captain Cumings, that the Duke should deliver the
Frenchman into our hands, in order that he should be given up to justice
in the event of the mate's death: but the Duke made great difficulties
concerning the practicability of securing this man, and offered many
excuses to escape the acknowledgment of any responsibility in the
matter. It was clear enough that he wished to protect the assassin, as
indeed it was his policy to shield the slavers, whose trade was more
lucrative to him, than that of any other class of persons. Finding
himself somewhat embarrassed in the conversation, he made an apology for
leaving the vessel, saying he would go on shore and see what could be
done, inviting us at the same time to finish the palaver at his house.
Accordingly we all went on shore, after breakfast, attended by two
marines. A second palaver took place, which was merely a repetition of
the first, and when it terminated, he presented us with some excellent
Champagne, and then exhibited a quantity of fine clothes, with a variety
of other articles, all of which he said he had received as presents. The
only dress His Majesty wore, when he came on board, was a cotton cloth
round his middle, and a fine white beaver hat, bound with broad gold
lace. Captain Cumings, at our request, asked permission of the Duke to
allow us to see his wives, who live in a square formed of mud huts, with
a communication from the back part of his house. The Duke very
courteously complied with our wishes, and sent persons to attend us.
There were about sixty Queens, besides little Princes and Princesses,
with a number of slave-girls to wait upon them. His favourite Queen, the
handsomest of the royal party, was so large that she could scarcely
walk, or even move, indeed they were all prodigiously large, their
beauty consisting more in the mass of physique, than in the delicacy or
symmetry of features or figure. This uniform tendancy to _en bon point_,
on an unusual scale, was accounted for, by the singular fact, that the
female upon whom His Majesty fixes his regards, is regularly fattened up
to a certain standard, previously to the nuptial ceremony, it appearing
to be essential to the Queenly dignity that the lady should be
enormously fat. We saw a very fine young woman undergoing this ordeal.
She was sitting at a table, with a large bowl of farinaceous food; which
she was swallowing as fast as she could pass the spoon to, and from, the
bowl, and her mouth; and she was evidently taking no inconsiderable
trouble to qualify herself for that happy state, which Pope tell us is
the object of every woman's ambition, that of being Queen for life, the
royal road to which, in this country, lies through a course of
gormandizing. The same custom extends to the wives of the great men, who
undergo a similar operation before marriage. On the morning of their
wedding-day they are seated at a table, to receive presents from their
relations and friends; a yard of cloth from one, some silk from another,
some beads from a third, according to the taste incapacity of the
donors. My companions were not much struck with the beauty of the
Queens, for they declared that some of the pretty young slave-girls had
much more lovely looks. Each of the Duke's wives bring, or send, a jug
of water for his large brass-pan bath every morning, and his favourite
wife remains to assist in his ablutions.

On leaving the Queens' Square, we were invited to go over the Duke's
English house, as it was called, which, in fact it was, having been sent
out in frame, from Liverpool, with carpenters to erect it, by Mr. Bold,
formerly a merchant of that town. This wooden edifice stood by the side
of his mud hut, in which, by the bye, such was the force of habit, he
preferred residing. In the English house there was a grand display of
European articles, consisting of furniture, mirrors, pictures, a
quantity of cut-glass on the sideboard, and to crown all, there was a
large brass arm-chair, weighing 160 pounds, a present from Sir John
Tobin, with an inscription engraved on it, to that effect.

About two o'clock we took leave of the Duke, and went on board the Kent,
where the poor mate was lying dangerously ill, and we all apprehended
the worst result, not having any medical man to dress the wound, or tell
the exact nature of it. After dining with Captain Cumings, we returned
to the Duke's house, to learn if he had ascertained the name of the
vessel the Frenchman commanded. The reply was unsatisfactory, as he
still declared his ignorance on the subject. It is not unusual for the
blacks (like the Chinese) to identify the ship in the Captain, for
instance, if they want to speak of the Jane, Captain Brown, they say,
'that Brown's ship.' It was, therefore, possible that the Duke might
really have spoken the truth in protesting that the name of the vessel
was unknown to him.

Finding there was nothing more to be done with the Duke that evening, we
left him, with an assurance that we should persist in our demand of
having either the Captain, or his vessel, delivered up to us; that we
should go and report the circumstance to the Governor of Fernando Po,
who would send a frigate to blockade the port, stop all the trade of the
river, and perhaps come and burn the town. These threats were not
apparently without their effect, although his Majesty was as much afraid
of opposing the slavers, as he was of quarrelling with us. The following
morning at daylight we left Duke's Town, and proceeded down the river,
not however, with the intention of going to Fernando Po, but merely to
visit all the rivers between the Calabar and Cape Formosa, in quest of
slavers, first going to the celebrated Bonny, off which river we arrived
on _Thursday, 31_. Here we saw a brig at anchor, which proved to be the
Neptune, of and from Liverpool. She had been lying here ten days,
waiting for clear weather to enable her to pass the bar, and get into
the river.

On the day we left Old Calabar town, I had all the symptoms of
approaching fever, such as headache, foul tongue, hot and dry skin, loss
of appetite, prostration of strength, &c. I, therefore, took calomel,
and adopted prompt measures of regimen, abstaining from all food, taking
nothing but diluents, keeping myself quiet, and occupying the mind with
amusing thoughts. By following this practice, at the expiration of three
days, I found myself quite convalescent, after which I soon recovered my
former health and spirits.

At noon, we parted from the Neptune, and stood to the westward, for the
river St. Nicholas, having had information that two Spanish vessels,
trading for slaves, were in that river. At six, we passed the entrance
of the Sombrero river, and, at midnight, that of St. Bartholomew's

_Friday, February 1_.--In the afternoon, the Eden's pinnace went to
examine a small river, which was found to be the Sta. Barbara, but there
were no vessels there, and about sunset, we anchored off the river St.

_Saturday, 2_.--At daylight, the Eden's pinnace, the schooner's boat,
and a canoe, manned with Kroomen, all well armed, left the schooner to
go in search of the two vessels said to be in the river; but they
returned on board, having examined a large river, three creeks, and one
town, without success. All they saw on the banks of the river, was a
large dog, and a rattle, like those at Fernando Po.

_Sunday, 3_.--At daylight, weighed and stood to the westward. About
nine o'clock we anchored off a long line of breakers, but no land in
sight, in consequence of the haziness of the weather. That peculiar
state of the atmosphere, which we call hazy, is, perhaps, more
characteristically designated "the smokes," on these coasts. Lieutenant
Badgeley and Capt. Smith, went in the schooner's boat to sound, and
trace the passage into the river St. John, at the entrance of which
we supposed ourselves to be situated. In the afternoon, the party
returned, having not only found the entrance of the river St. John, but
also one of the vessels of which we were in search. At half-past four,
the pinnace, schooner's boat, and Kroo canoe, were despatched, well
manned and armed, to bring the schooner out of the river. At eleven,
Captain Smith returned on board, and informed us, that, at sunset, they
boarded the Spanish schooner Victoria Felicita, armed with one long
nine-pounder and twenty men, and that they took possession of her with
scarcely a show of resistance. The Spaniards endeavoured to get the gun
ready, but the boats came so suddenly upon them, by rounding a point
close to their moorings, that they were completely taken by surprise,
and boarded before they could carry their measures of defence into
effect. There were but two slaves and a part of the crew on board,
the rest of the slaves and the remainder of the crew, being at the
Barakoom, or Slave-yard, to which place they are always consigned so
soon as they are purchased, and left until the vessel is ready for sea,
to escape from the responsibility which would fall upon the commander
of the vessel, in case any slaves were discovered on board. There were
many slave-dealers on the schooner's deck when the boats came in sight,
but they all jumped overboard, and swam to the shore.

_Monday, 4_.--At daylight, Captain Smith left us to assist in bringing
the prize out of the river, but the day being calm, she was not removed.
We burnt blue lights, at intervals, during the night, as signals to the
prize, or any boat that might be sent from her.

_Tuesday, 5_.--At nine, we saw the Spaniard under weigh; and, at ten,
she anchored close beside us. She was well supplied with water, of which
we stood in need, and of which we availed ourselves. A midshipman, with
some men, was then appointed to take charge of her to Fernando Po. We
parted company, and proceeded on our further examination of the rivers
on this coast, when we stood to the westward, anchoring off Nun
River,[34] at nine in the evening.

_Wednesday, 6_.--After breakfast, we sent on shore to procure
information of slavers, in consequence of having seen the smoke of a
fire, which is a well-known signal on the coast, to invite vessels to
trade with them. The fire is made by night, and the smoke forms the
signal by day. Our boat returned, bringing a poor Spaniard from a small
town, just within the entrance of the river, called Pilot's Town.[35] He
was a native of Manilla, and had been left behind by his vessel, but
from what cause he did not state. He told us, the blacks informed him,
that there had been a man of war on the coast, but that she had left
some days since.

_Thursday, 7_.--Light airs. At daylight we got under weigh, and came to
an anchor, off the mouth of the Bonny river again, soon after sunset.

We had now examined the entrances of all the rivers between the Bonny,
and Cape Formosa; all of which communicate with each other in the
interior; some being navigable by vessels, but all by canoes; for
instance, a vessel may go in at St. Nicholas, and by passing through a
creek, come out at the St. John's. This piece of intelligence had the
effect of occasionally placing us in some perplexity as to our
movements; for, according to one person, a vessel freighted with slaves
was on the point of coming out of one river; while, at the same time,
agreeably to another informant, the same vessel was stated to be coming
out of another river.

There is, however, but little doubt that the interior of the country is
intersected by very extensive water communications lying between the
bight of Benin and Biafra, and I heard Captain Owen say, that, in his
opinion, the Niger would be found to discharge itself in one of these
bights, a fact, which I have the satisfaction to learn, is now proved by
the recent discovery of the Landers.

_Friday, 8_.--At daylight, we made sail. At ten, we received a pilot on
board, and in three hours, entered the channel of the New Calabar river,
which must be passed, before an entrance into the Bonny can be effected.
This position of the Calabar is, however, on the coast usually
denominated the Bonny, in reference to the superior trade of that river.

The pilot here requested the Captain's permission to make a "jhu jhu,"
which is a superstitious rite performed by the natives in these rivers.
The object of the ceremony is to propitiate their deity for a safe
passage and a good trade; the operation consists of spilling a wine
glass full of rum, twice on the bowsprit (upon which the operator
stands), and once on each side of it, into the water. They practise a
similar rite when they anchor, cutting some bread and meat into small
pieces, scattering it in like manner on the bowsprit, into the river,
and also on the deck, while those who stand around, mingle in the act,
by tasting their offerings. The objects worshipped by the people of the
New Calabar, are the tiger and the shark; while the Bonny people worship
the shark and the guana.

At half-past four, we anchored, for the night, off Foche Island, inside
the first bar of the river, and the pilot went on shore. The town on
this island had been burnt to the ground only a few days before we
arrived, owing to the carelessness of some new slaves, and the people of
the town had determined upon selling the woman to whom the slaves
belonged, as a punishment for her own neglect.

The dogs on Foche Island were observed to bear a close resemblance to
those of Fernando Po, (a common sort of small cur.) I mention this,
because it has been thought that the Fernandians have had very little
connection with the people of the Continent, as a proof of which, we
have never found any one (out of all the varieties of the African
nations) who could speak with, or understand, the language of the
natives of Fernando Po.

_Saturday, 9_.--Soon after daylight the pilot returned on board. We
found the natives of Foche Island very cautious in coming off, even the
pilot would not reply to our signals, until we had sent a messenger to
tell him what we were, nor would he even then consent to sleep on board.
I have little doubt, from the timidity he exhibited, that the
slave-vessels have occasionally enticed pilots and their people on
board, and carried them off for slaves.

Our breakfast this morning consisted of smoked and dried herrings,
corned mackerel, fresh prawns, beef steaks, cold roast beef, cold ham,
roast and boiled yams, eggs, and toast: a supply that will not be
thought despicable for the passengers of a merchant schooner, in the
Bight of Biafra, where the sun was so powerful, that our anchor was hot
enough to serve the purposes of a heated oven.

At four in the afternoon I accompanied Lieut. Badgeley, with six Kroomen
in a small boat, to visit the town of Bonny, and the English shipping in
the river. Soon after dark we went on board the Neptune, which was lying
off the town of Bonny, and was the same vessel we had boarded outside
the river. After refreshing ourselves with tea, we accompanied the
Surgeon on shore, to look for Captain Cudd, whom we found visiting one
of King Peppel's great men. We wished to call upon the King, but were
informed that we could not be allowed to do so, as his Majesty was too
drunk to receive company, and exceedingly dangerous in his cups; a state
of bliss to which he commonly arrived by that hour, every evening. We,
therefore, contented ourselves by passing the night at the house of the
prime minister, with the intention of waiting upon his Majesty the
following morning. I slept in the same apartment with the Doctor. Our
beds, by courtesy so called, were made on a mud floor; they consisted
merely of a mat spread for each, with a coya-cushion (the outside shell
of the cocoa nut) for a pillow; fortunately the climate is too hot to
require any covering; we therefore lay down without removing our nether
garments; sleep was, however, quite out of the question, for so soon as
the lights were out, the rats and mice came in, and assisted by myriads
of cockroaches and ants, contrived to keep us constantly employed
driving them away from our bodies, until we were in so feverish and
exhausted a state that we anxiously longed for the return of day.

On the following morning, _Sunday, 10_, I was invited to take a Bonny
warm bath, which I accepted with pleasure, for after such a night the
very name of a bath was refreshing; the Doctor therefore kindly
conducted me into the open space where I was informed that every thing
was prepared. I was seated in an arm chair, with a large brass-pan
before me full of tepid water, about two feet deep, into which I was
requested to put my legs: two or three attendants provided with bowls of
warm water, soap and cloths, now began to operate on my body; the
sensation produced by this process, was similar to the effect of
champooing. After they thought they had sufficiently polished me with
their cloths, they began to pour cold water over me, which was the most
refreshing part of the business; but the reader may imagine what my
feelings were, when to my utter surprise I discovered that the whole
ceremony had been performed by women, many of whom, although black, were
both young and handsome. I had detected a good deal of giggling from the
beginning, and objected to the presence of so many persons; but I was
indifferently told, 'Oh! it was the custom of the country.'

We accompanied Captain Cudd on board his vessel to breakfast, after
which we all came on shore, to wait upon the King, to whom we were
conducted by our friend Bill Peppel, at whose house we passed the night,
and whom I understood to be the King's most confidential minister. His
Majesty received us in a very easy friendly manner, and in what he
perhaps considered a fine dress, consisting of a neat striped fine
calico shirt, a pair of white trowsers, and a silk cap with a long
tassel. We talked on a variety of subjects, selecting those which we
supposed were interesting to him, such as the regular trade in palm-oil,
and the illicit one in slaves, but our conversation principally turned
on England, in courtesy to the King who had been at Liverpool, in the
capacity of cabin boy, with one of the Captains of the palm-oil vessels.
He ordered some Membo (palm-wine) to be presented to us; we found it
flavoured with a strong bitter, produced by the use of a native nut. To
our European palate, this taste was by no means agreeable. It is with
palm-wine so prepared, however, that his Majesty contrives to get tipsy
with such punctuality. When this liquor first exudes from the tree, and
before the process of fermentation has drawn its intoxicating qualities
into action, it is a sweet and not unpleasant beverage.

Our interview lasted about an hour, when we took leave of the King, to
return on board. In passing through one of the streets, we saw a guana
climbing up a tree, the Doctor advanced and seized it by the tail, a
proceeding by no means dangerous as regarded the animal, whose nature is
extremely gentle. The natives, however, witnessed this act with horror,
this creature being to them an object of worship. As these animals are
protected by the superstition of the people, and are allowed to enter
their houses at pleasure, they become extremely bold, and frequently
help themselves to a chicken, or any thing else for which they have a
fancy, upon which occasion the owner feels himself highly favoured, and
imagines that some good fortune will attend him in consequence. I was
informed that they have been known to devour young infants. A guana was
once killed on board an English vessel, upon which the trade with that
vessel was immediately stopped, and a grand palaver held, when the
Captain was sentenced to pay a fine of 500 bars, this was afterwards
commuted to 200; and when it was paid the ship was permitted to
recommence trading.

The ceremony of opening the trade with each vessel is as follows: a day
being appointed by the King, a dinner is prepared, and His Majesty is
entertained by the Captain and his officers, on board the trader. The
black gentlemen who form the royal suite are obliged, upon this
occasion, to trust to chance, and the good-nature of the ship's crew,
for their share of the feast. In order that no point of courtesy may be
wanting, it is requisite to send a boat from the ship to meet His
Majesty, as he comes out of the creek in his own canoe. The King, upon
joining his entertainers, immediately enters their boat; which
condescension is acknowledged by a salute of seven guns, fired from the
ship. On arriving alongside, His Majesty throws an egg at the vessel's
hull; he then ascends to the deck, which is usually covered, from the
gangway to the cabin, with a piece of cloth; an arm chair, covered and
ornamented with the same material, being placed ready for his

The only beverage used by King Peppel is his favourite Membo, which is
brought on board by his attendants. His Majesty commonly returns about
sunset to the shore, when a second salute of seven guns is fired from
the ship, and the trade is declared free to all his subjects.

Shortly before our arrival a circumstance occurred which serves to
illustrate King Peppel's good-nature and forbearance. About the middle
of December, 1826, Capt. Lawrenson, a slave agent, arrived at the Bonny,
to purchase a cargo of slaves, which he accomplished in about two
months, and sent them away to the West Indies, remaining behind himself,
with a quantity of goods to make further purchases, having written his
owners to send vessels, and take the slaves away. In the meantime he
contrived to ingratiate himself so much with King Peppel, that His
Majesty allowed him to live in his house, and consulted his opinion,
upon all matters of importance, relative to the white people. Many
months elapsed before any vessel arrived, but when they did, the slaves
were not ready, and the King continued to delude him with promises for
two months longer, at the end of which period, finding his hopes still
unrealized, the impatient Frenchman became enraged at what he considered
the King's deceit, and resolved on taking summary vengeance.
Accordingly, one evening, he went on shore with a cigar in his mouth,
and a few squibs in his pocket, when he deposited the latter in the
thatch of several houses, and set fire to them. The huts being composed
of bamboo, palm-leaves, and reeds, soon burst into a flame, which spread
so rapidly in all quarters, that nearly the whole town was destroyed.
The people were greatly exasperated and wished to kill the Frenchman,
who had not attempted to effect his escape, but King Peppel forbade them
to injure a hair of his head, permitting him to return to his vessel,
which immediately sailed for France; the Captain still vowing vengeance
against the King, and threatening to return with a much larger vessel,
well armed, to commit greater ravages, and to carry off all he could lay
his hands on, until he considered that he had received compensation for
the fraud which he averred had been practised upon him.

There is a superstitious ceremony performed at the Bonny river, about
once in three years, which consists of offering the most beautiful
virgin they can find, as a sacrifice to their Jhu Jhu, whereby they hope
to propitiate the evil spirit, and avert the dangers to which vessels
are liable in crossing the bar. The victim is taken in a boat to the
mouth of the river, where, after a preparatory ceremonial, she is made
to walk to the extremity of a plank, from which she is precipitated into
the water, where in a few seconds she is devoured by sharks. The mind of
the poor wretch is prepared for this fate: which, indeed, appears to be
a source of pleasure, rather than of terror, from the idea that she is
going at once to Paradise, to become the wife of Jhu Jhu; and towards
the conclusion of the ceremony, it is not uncommon for the victim to
display extravagant transports of joy. One of the English captains
remonstrated with a native for going to witness such an exhibition.
"What?" replied the indignant black,--"What you tink?--Why! she now
married to Jhu Jhu--got large house--more big than any in
Liverpool--plenty copper-bar--plenty rum--plenty clothes--what you tink
she want?--noting!" These articles being the principal objects of the
trade from England, are consequently most desired; and as the majority
of the trading vessels come from Liverpool, where some few of the Bonny
people have been, they consider that town the ultimatum of magnificence
and splendour.

We went on board the Neptune about noon, where we took an early dinner,
and returned to the schooner about sunset, when we learnt that a grand
deputation of black gentlemen, from New Calabar Town, had arrived, to
invite Capt. Smith to bring his schooner up their river to trade; they
requested him to lose no time, and offered to leave a large canoe for
our use, when we returned from the Bonny; however, Captain Smith would
not agree to their request; and when they discovered, that, instead of
being a trader, we were looking out for slavers, they were glad to get
away. Our pilot partook of their alarm, and, on the following morning,
he sent back the casks empty, with a message, that he could not come on
board again.

There is much enmity between the Bonny and the New Calabar people,
arising principally out of their rivalship in the trade with foreign
vessels. A short time ago, they had a fight on board an English ship,
under the following circumstances.

The New Calabar people had got on board the ship Huskinson, and were
taking her up to their town. On the passage, they were attacked by a
number of large canoes, well manned and armed, from the Bonny: a
desperate struggle ensued; the Bonny people lost many lives, but they
succeeded in boarding the vessel, dislodging their opponents, and
triumphantly carried the ship into their river; thus securing all her
trade to themselves. This fight did not, on the present occasion,
produce war between the rival people, as such incidents usually do; it
merely had the effect of suspending their intercourse for a short
period. Their war canoes are very large, and will carry from 50 to 100
men, well armed with muskets, pistols, sabres, and sometimes a small gun
in the bow.

We got under weigh in the afternoon, without a pilot, and worked the
schooner over the bar, which is very narrow, and stood out to sea that
evening, notwithstanding there was a fresh breeze against us, through a
very intricate navigation. It was at the entrance of this river that one
of the boats of H.M.S. Maidstone was upset. She had come to an anchor in
the evening, with the tide running in, which made the water very smooth;
but, in the middle of the night, at the turn of the tide, they found the
boat rolling about very uneasily. This very much surprised them, because
the wind had not arisen; the sea soon began to break over them, when the
boat upset, and the surgeon's assistant, with several other persons, was
drowned. This proceeded from the ebb tide encountering the ordinary set
on the land. We left the Bonny with the intention of visiting our
friends in the Old Calabar, in the hope of meeting the Frenchman, who
had shot the mate of the Kent.

_Tuesday, 12_.--At five this morning, we came to an anchor. The weather
had been squally during the night, and at daylight the wind increased;
the squalls becoming more frequent and heavy, with continued thunder and
lightning; and so heavy a swell, that if we had not taken in the boat
from the stern, she would have been washed away. At daylight, we
discovered that Tom Shot's Point bore N.E. by N. six or seven miles.

_Wednesday, 13_.--At daylight, saw a vessel at anchor, outside of us,
which proved to be H.M.S. North-Star, and immediately after, Lieut.
Mather came on board to examine us. On that officer's return, Lieutenant
Badgeley and myself went on board the North-Star, to wait on Captain
Arabin, who gave us a most friendly reception. He pressed us to remain
and dine, but Lieutenant Badgeley's anxiety to return to Fernando Po,
obliged us to decline an invitation which otherwise would have proved
extremely agreeable, and as Captain Arabin had sent his boats up the
river (under the command of his first lieutenant) in search of slavers,
it superseded the necessity of our going; we therefore got under weigh,
and sailed to rejoin Captain Owen.

[34] "The river Nun, or First Brass River, is the main branch of the
Quorra, from whence you pass (in about two hours) through a creek, in an
easterly direction, into the Second Brass River, which is also a large
branch of the Quorra."--_Lander_, vol. iii. p. 224. "Brass, properly
speaking, consists of two towns of nearly equal size, containing about a
thousand inhabitants, and built on the borders of a kind of basin, which
is formed by a number of rivulets, entering it from the Niger, through
forests of mangrove bushes. One of them is under the domination of a
noted scoundrel called King _Jacket_, who has already been spoken of;
and the other is governed by a rival chief, named King Forday. These
towns are situated directly opposite to each other, and within the
distance of eighty yards, and are built on a marshy ground, which
occasions the huts to be always wet."--_Lander_, vol. iii. p. 234.

[35] "A place, called Pilot's Town by Europeans, from the number of
pilots that reside in it, is situated nearly at the entrance of the
First Brass River (which, we understand, is the Nun River of Europeans),
and at the distance of sixty or seventy miles from hence. This town
acknowledges the authority of both kings, having been originally peopled
by settlers from each of their towns."--_Lander_, vol. iii. p. 234.


Reverence for Beards--Native Shields--Petty Thefts--Tornado Season--
Author departs for Calabar--Waterspout--Palm-oil Vessels--Visit
to Duke Ephraim--Escape of a Schooner with Slaves--Calabar Sunday--
Funeral of a Duke's Brother--Egbo Laws--Egbo Assembly--Extraordinary
Mode of recovering Debts--Superstition and Credulity--Cruelty of the
Calabar People to Slaves--Royal Slave Dealer--Royal Monopoly--Manner
of Trading with the Natives--Want of Missionaries--Capt. Owen's
Arrival--Visit Creek Town with King Eyo--The Royal Establishment--
Savage Festivities--Calabar Cookery--Old Calabar River

_Thursday, 14_.--ARRIVED in Maidstone Bay, at ten o'clock, when we
learnt that Commodore Collier, in the Sybille, with the Esk and
Primrose, had been in the bay, and left it only on the preceding day. We
also heard of the decease of Captain Clapperton, Richard Lander, who was
the bearer of the melancholy tidings, being on board the Esk, for a
passage to England. Received some letters and papers from England, that
had been left for me by my old friend Captain Griffenhooffe, of the
Primrose, and whom I was unfortunately doomed never to meet again in
this sublunary scene; for having suffered from fever, he was invalided,
and died at Ascension, on his way home. We found the Diadem transport
here, which had arrived a few days before, with government stores from
Cape Coast Castle. A remarkable occurrence took place between the agent
(Lieutenant Woodman) and the natives, on their first interview. That
gentleman had, like Captain Owen, and some of his officers, allowed his
beard to grow from the time he had left England, having been induced to
do so for the sake of the advantages, which, from experience. Captain
Owen considered were to be derived from it. In the first place, all the
Arabs wear long beards, and they are held in much respect wherever they
sojourn among the various African nations: not altogether for their
beards, but from their intelligence; however, the beard is naturally
identified with their character. They also command respect, because they
are generally worn by the old men of their own country, and, on our
first arrival, the chiefs of Fernando Po advanced with delight to rub
beards, with all those among us who wore them. When Lieutenant Woodman
left the island for Cape Coast, his beard was of considerable length,
but meeting with Commodore Collier at Accra, that officer would not
receive him in his Fernando Po costume; and being unequal to contend
with the higher powers, yielded to the alternative of removing his
beard, in preference to subjecting himself to the consequences of his
superior officer's displeasure. But, mark the effect!--when he came back
to Fernando Po, the native chiefs turned from him with contempt,
believing that he could not have lost so dignified an appendage, without
having committed some crime. This reminds me of a passage in the 15th
chapter of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, viz. "The
practice of shaving the beard excited the pious indignation of the
Fathers of the Church, which practice (according to Tertullian) is a lie
against our own faces, and an impious attempt to improve the works of
the Creator."

I was sorry to learn, that there had been some altercation between
Commodore Collier, and Captain Owen, on the subject of wearing beards.

_Saturday, 16_.--Went on shore at day light, and remained till evening,
when I returned on board in the midst of a tornado, which, however, did
not last long, and fortunately had no great strength. We observed a
glare in the mountain, which the natives informed us proceeded from a
fire of considerable extent, made by them for the purpose of driving the
wild oxen, or buffalos, to a certain spot, where they are hamstrung, and
afterwards slain. We never saw any animals in the island, larger than
sheep or goats. I have more than once, in a native hut, found a shield
made of hide, about four feet high and two broad, with a stick passed
longitudinally through each end; but whether they procured these shields
from vessels touching at the island, or from the wild animals described
as being in the mountains, we had no means of ascertaining.

_Sunday, 17_.--Captain Owen had some of the officers of the Eden, as
well as civilians from the establishment, to dine with him to-day: our
dinner consisted of green turtle, a variety of fish, small mutton,
fowls, &c. all the produce of the island.

_Monday, 18_.--The weather was now getting very close, hazy, and
oppressive, as the season approached for the hot winds from the
Continent, named, on this coast, the Hermattan, similar to the Sirocco
of the Mediterranean; yet, the thermometer was only 88 deg. F. in the

_Tuesday, 19_.--Mr. Galler ran after, and secured, a native who was
making off with an iron hoop.

But, lo! what dangers doth environ,
The man that meddleth with cold iron,

for, on the following day, Captain Owen ordered the thief to have his
head shaved, for the purpose of shaming him out of the repetition of his
crime, thus making him an object of ridicule, among his own, as well as
our people; and, as the natives display no small degree of dandyism in
dressing their hair, he hoped that this 'rape of the locks,' would have
a beneficial effect: he, however, considered an additional punishment
necessary, in consequence of the frequency of the offence, iron-stealing
having become a very common practice; he, therefore, ordered the
offender to receive thirty-nine lashes; but at the twenty-fifth he
fainted, from fear, no doubt, certainly not from the severity of the
chastisement; however, he was immediately taken down and carried into
the guard-house, where he continued bellowing, in a most frightful
manner, for a long time.

_Monday, 25_.--We have had very close weather for several days, with much
thunder and lightning during the whole of last night. At eight o'clock
this morning, a heavy tornado came on, the rain and wind continuing for
more than three hours; the greatest force of the hurricane was, however,
expended in the first hour, from which time it gradually diminished; this
produced a very agreeable change in the state of the atmosphere, the
thermometer having fallen, during the tornado, from 91 deg. to 78 deg. F.
being the lowest degree we have yet experienced.

_Wednesday, 27_.--The Diadem, transport, Lieut. Woodman, agent, sailed
this morning for Sierra Leone, and England, by which conveyance I sent
letters, and a few curiosities.

_Friday, 29_.--Mr. Wood was sent, with a party of men, to assist the
gunner in erecting a battery on Adelaide Island. Having made bankrupts
of the natives in the yam market, the African, schooner, sailed to-day
for the purpose of procuring them, in other parts of the island.

_Saturday, March 1_.--Some days since, a native having been detected
stealing a knife out of Capt. Smith's store, he was sent on board the
Eden to have his head shaved, and be kept in irons for a week; the time
having expired this morning, he was ordered to receive thirty-nine
lashes previously to his dismissal. He bore his punishment well, and was
going away, when, about 300 yards from the place, he fell down in a
fainting fit, doubtless from the apprehension that he was not yet quite
out of our power. Mr. Cowan, the surgeon, ran to his assistance, but the
natives surrounded the patient, and would not allow him to receive
medical aid from us; this was of the less consequence, as their method
of proceeding proved completely effectual. They first bound a strong
narrow leaf around the sufferer's body, stuffing as many more leaves
within the bandage as it would contain: they then chewed some vegetable
substance until it was reduced to a pulp, and when this preparation was
blown up into the nose and ears of the patient, it almost immediately
produced the desired effect.

There had been much thunder in the distance, and we had seen a good deal
of lightning playing about the Camaroon mountain for several days past;
but more particularly towards the morning.

_Saturday, 8_.--This being the tornado season, we have experienced one
almost daily, lasting however only a few hours, the rest of the
twenty-four being in part, very cloudy; and in part, very fine. The Lady
Combermere, of Liverpool, which anchored here last night, sailed this
afternoon to prosecute her voyage along the coast.

The African, schooner, Captain Smith, intending to sail this evening on
a trading voyage up the Calabar river, principally to procure bullocks
for our little colony, I was glad to avail myself of the opportunity of
going as a passenger, for the purpose of making further observations on
the habits and peculiarities of the people.

We left Maidstone bay about ten o'clock in the evening, taking with us,
by way of experiment, three native youths from the island, an event
which certainly augured well for the future advancement and civilization
of these islanders.

_Sunday, 9_.--We this morning saw a very large waterspout, which broke
within 200 yards of the vessel, and it is remarkable, that before it
broke, we observed it raining in five or six different parts of the
horizon, while it was quite fair, with the sun shining, in the
intermediate spaces. Soon after four in the afternoon, we entered the
Old Calabar river, and at sunset we anchored in three and a half fathoms
water; east end of Parrot Island, N.N.W. four or five miles.

_Monday, 10_.--Weather still variable. Got under weigh at daylight, but
it soon fell calm, and we made use of our sweeps. At noon, abreast of
James's Island; and at three, we anchored off Old Calabar, or Duke's

We found the brig Kent, Captain Cumings, still here; also, the ship
Agnes, Captain Charles, from Liverpool, for palm-oil; and a Spanish
schooner, from the Havannah, waiting for slaves. Captain Smith and I
accompanied Captain Cumings on shore to pay a visit to Duke Ephraim,
with whom Capt. Cumings was a great favourite, which proved a fortunate
circumstance for us. The schooner having last visited the place as a man
of war, she was received with suspicion, and it was extremely difficult
to convince the Duke and his people, that there was not a _ruse de
guerre_ intended by her reappearance as a mere trader.

_Tuesday, 11_.--A fine but very hot day. Paid a visit to the Duke after
breakfast, and in the afternoon went three miles down the river to visit
the Lady Combermere on her way up the river. In the evening we paid
another visit to the Duke, at which period, every day, he holds a sort
of levee for supercargoes, and Captains of vessels, to talk over "news."
Upon these occasions he discovers an acute knowledge of his own
interest. Remained on shore, and passed the night in the Duke's English
house, where his visitors always sleep, but none of his family, except a
few domestics in charge of it. This evening a tornado came on with heavy

_Wednesday, 12_.--A schooner, that had secreted herself further up the
river; dropped down and anchored off the town last night, after it
became dark, intending to take in her cargo of slaves during the night.
She completed her object before daylight, when she got under weigh, and
sailed down the river, without shewing any colours.

This day was the Calabar Sunday, but it was not kept as the usual
holiday, in consequence of the recent death of the Duke's favourite
brother. The funeral ceremony is horrible, but I feel bound to describe
it for the sake of shewing the extraordinary superstition and bigotry
that still exists among a people, who have not only been visited, but
regularly traded with, by European nations, for nearly two centuries. I
shall introduce this individual case by premising that human sacrifices
are lavishly made, not only in honour of the blood royal, but in a more
or less degree upon the death of _great_ (or I should more properly say
_rich_) men; for riches constitute greatness here, even in a higher
ratio than they do in more civilized countries; the riches of these
parts consisting in the possession of slaves.

At the funeral obsequies of the Duke's brother, six human victims were
destined to the sacrifice; namely, three men and three women, who,
however, were, with a strange mixture of mercy and cruelty, rendered
insensible to the terrors of their fate by previous intoxication. Five
of these poor creatures were hung, and placed in the grave of the
Prince, while the sixth, a young and favourite wife, was reserved for a
destiny still more horrible; being thrown alive into the grave, which
was immediately closed over the whole.

These people practise many other superstitious customs, equally
dreadful, and I am persuaded it needs but a recital of them, to prove
how much they stand in want of the benevolent instructions of Christian

The laws of the country are worthy of attention, being, perhaps, the
most curious, as well as the most prompt, and effectual, of any that we
are acquainted with, amongst the African nations. The whole of the Old
Calabar country is governed by what are termed the "Egbo laws." These
are laws, enacted by a secret meeting, called the Egbo assembly, which
is held in a house set apart for that purpose, called the Palaver house;
of this assembly the Duke, by virtue of his sovereignty, officiates as
the chief, with the title of Eyamba. There are different degrees of rank
in the subordinate Egbo members, and each step must be purchased
successively. They sometimes admit Englishmen into this assembly:
Captain Burrell of the ship Haywood, of Liverpool, held the rank of
Yampai, which is one of considerable importance, and he found it
exceedingly to his advantage, as it enabled him to recover all debts due
to him by the natives.

The following are the names, and prices, of each step:

1. Abungo 125 Bars.
2. Aboko 75 Bars.
3. Makaira 400 White copper rods.
4. Bakimboko 100 Bars.
5. Yampai 850 White copper rods,

also some rum, goats, membo, &c. &c.

The Yampai is the only class of Egbo men that are allowed to sit in
council. The sums paid for the different titles of Egbo are divided
among the Yampai only, who are not confined to a single share, for a
Yampai may have his title multiplied as often as he chooses to purchase
additional shares, which entitles the person so purchasing to a
corresponding number of portions in the profits arising out of the

Their mode of administering justice is as follows: When a person cannot
obtain his due from a debtor, or when any injury has been received,
personally or otherwise, the aggrieved party applies to the Duke for the
Egbo drums; acquainting him at the same time with the nature of his
complaint: if the Duke accedes to the demand, the Egbo assembly
immediately meet, and the drums are beat about the town; at the first
sound of which every woman is obliged to retreat within her own
dwelling, upon pain of losing her head for disobedience: nor until the
drum goes round the second time, to shew that council is ended, and the
Egbo returned, are they released from their seclusion. If the complaint
be just, the Egbo is sent to the offending party to warn him of his
delinquency, and to demand reparation, after which announcement no one
dares move out of the house inhabited by the culprit, until the affair
is settled, and if it be not soon arranged, the house is pulled down
about their ears, in which case the loss of a few heads frequently
follows. This extremity, however, rarely occurs, for if the offender be
not able to settle the matter himself, it is generally made up by his
relations and friends.

The Egbo man--that is the executive person wears a complete disguise,
consisting of a black network close to the skin from head to foot, a hat
with a long feather, horns projecting from his forehead, a large whip in
his right hand, with a bell fastened to the lower part of his back, and
several smaller ones round his ankles. Thus equiped he starts from the
Egbo-house, runs through the streets with his bells ringing, to the
house of the offender, followed by half a dozen subordinate personages
fantastically dressed, each carrying either a sword or stick.

I one day asked King Eyo who this Egbo was, who ran about with the
bells, "What? you tink Egbo be man, no, he be debil, come up from bush,
nobody know him," was his reply.

It is their custom upon the death of a great man, to have one of his
slaves, male or female, taken down to the side of the river to make what
they call a devil, which means, I presume, an offering to the Evil
Spirit; this is done in the following manner. A stake is driven into the
ground close to the water's edge, to this the poor wretch is fastened,
the head being pulled as high as possible to stretch the neck for the
sword, by which he is to be decapitated, and after the deed is
accomplished they carry the head through the town rejoicing.

These frightful orgies used to take place in the daytime, but in
consequence of the repeated remonstrances from the Captains of vessels,
who were shocked by the frequency of these horrid scenes, performed in
sight of all the ships in the river, they now take place in the night;
for my own part I think that the noise occasioned by their savage
merriment, and their running about during the stillness of night,
produces a more appalling picture to the imagination, than even the
reality of the scene in broad day; the only difference is that there are
fewer spectators, as the greater number of those on board the vessels
are wrapt in profound repose.

The practice of burying the youngest and favourite wives with the corpse
is by no means uncommon,[36] and they resort to a variety of cruel
practices for maiming and destroying their slaves; thus they cut off
parts or the whole of their ears, a part of the nose, a finger or a
hand. One of the servants who waited upon us at the King's house, had
lost an ear in this way, for some trifling offence.

After a recital of these facts, it is scarcely necessary to observe that
the Calabar people are extremely cruel, indeed I am informed that they
frequently cause their slaves to be put to death for a mere whim; a
practice which they endeavour to excuse, by saying, that if the slaves
were not thus kept in awe of their masters, they would rise in
rebellion: they also plead the necessity of it, for preventing them
becoming too numerous. These reasons form also their apology for
countenancing the slave-trade, a traffic which is most strenuously
supported by the Duke, who also trades largely in palm-oil.

His method of procuring slaves is worthy of remark. He induces the
Captains to deposit a quantity of goods in his hands, which he sorts
into such portions as would form an ordinary load for a man to carry on
his head. He then sends his agents into the country with the goods to
purchase slaves, promising the Captains their cargoes, amounting to any
given number, within a stated time; in the meanwhile he employs other
persons to collect in his own town and neighbourhood, and if he is very
hard pressed, (for the Captains of slavers are always very impatient),
he obliges his great men to furnish him with a certain number each. This
is done by sending him every individual from the neighbouring villages,
who have committed any crime or misdemeanor; and should he still
continue unable to make up the specified demand, they sell their own
servants to him. The Duke has profited largely by this system, for he
has several warehouses full of goods, some of which he has had in store
for years, such as wines, spirits, liqueurs, sail-cloth, cordage,
manufactured goods, copper rods, iron bars, &c. &c.

The palm-oil he collects in small quantities from his subjects, in the
neighbourhood of the Calabar, and other small rivers that fall into it.
The Duke, however, does not engross the whole trade, for the commerce
being once regularly opened, may be carried on by any person who has
property to barter. Their mode of proceeding is as follows:--Those who
desire to traffic, come on board and select whatever they want, making
their agreement with the captain as to what they are to bring in return.
If the captain knows them to be honest men, they are allowed to take the
goods away at once; but if they have not sufficient credit with him,
they must get the Duke, or some trustworthy person, to be responsible
for them. I was fortunate enough to be present during the time they were
carrying on business.

The principal part of the cargoes of the Liverpool vessels who trade for
palm-oil, is salt, of which the natives are very fond; but they consider
it more a luxury, than a necessary condiment; the article next in
estimation is rum; after which, they eagerly desire all descriptions of
manufactured articles; such as cotton cloths, especially those printed
with fancy patterns: all sorts of beads, glass or china-ware, umbrellas,
hats, &c. for which they frequently send orders on board the vessels,
written in the following style.


(NO. 1.)

"Captain Cummins Sir please Let the Bearer have fifteen and the 13
Crew Cask to fill at Toby Creek.

"Duke Epbraim."

(NO. 2.)

"Captain Image Sir Please Give King Eyo Trust for 800 Crews of Oil be
down for it if his no pay I will pay.

"Duke Ephraim."

(NO. 3.)

"Dear my good friend Captain Halmaga Sir I have send you this letter
to let you know that I send you 1 Goat and I send my Dear John to send
me that Rum you promised me yeseday and I thank you to let me know
what Hour you want me to come down to take my Trust.

"I am your Best friend

"King Eyo Honesty at Old Creek Town."

(NO. 4.)

"Dear friend Captain Cummins Sir I have to thank you to send me 8
Empett Cask for to go for Market.

"I remain your friend Eyo Eyo Honesty."[37]

(NO. 5.)

"My friend Captain Commins if you please send me that Rum I been beg
you and thank you for lettle Beef too if you got any.

"Toby Tom Narrow."

(NO. 6.)

"Captain R. Commings Sir I mush obliged to you for please spear me
some nails for make door do my friend I remain Sir

"Tom Duke."

(NO. 7.)

"Captain Cummins Sir I let you know but I want to go to Market for me
self in I send you Book to give me 50 Iranba for 110 Crew Salt then
now I want 70 Crew Salt in them Bring me Book for 40 Crew Salt again
then now I thank you to Down hose head for my 2 small hatt I am your
Humble Servant

"Antega Ambo."

If the Christian Missionaries were to establish schools in the towns on
the banks of these rivers, they would be very likely to prove eminently
beneficial to the people, who are very desirous of, receiving every kind
of instruction, more particularly a knowledge of writing, which, at
present, the head men teach each other in an imperfect manner, of which
the above notes form an example. There is not one of them who ever read
English, or any other language in print; and I have heard the Duke
express great regret at not being able to read the newspapers, of the
contents of which, although he had seen many, he still remained

_Thursday, 13_.--The Eden's prize (a Spanish schooner taken last voyage
by the African) arrived this evening from Fernando Po, with Capt. Owen
on board, to whom Captain Smith and myself immediately went to pay our

_Friday, 14_.--Captain Owen visited the Spanish slave schooner, the ship
Agnes, the brig Kent, and mustered the crews of the two palm-oil
vessels, when he met with several volunteers for the Eden. In the
afternoon, he went on shore to see the Duke, who received him very
civilly, but suspiciously, for, notwithstanding their great professions
of friendship for the English in general, and their real regard for some
particular individuals, who are regular traders to the country, the
consideration of the profits they derive from the slave-trade, prompts
them to feel no little annoyance at our interference in their lucrative
commerce. They already perceive that our new settlement at Fernando Po,
is calculated to interfere with their proceedings, and they have clearly
expressed their sentiments upon the subject; not, however, without
clothing their observations so cunningly as to avoid giving offence.

"What for," said one, "white man come to live in black man's country?
What for can't white man stop in own country? Much better for white man,
than black man's country."

Mr. Cowan, the hospital assistant at Fernando Po, and myself,
accompanied King Eyo, this evening, in his large canoe, up the river, to
Creek Town, a distance of twelve miles, where his Majesty resides.

The town is built on the edge of a creek, a short distance from the
river. On our arrival, we found that King Eyo had a larger wooden framed
English house, than the King of the Old Calabar, but not in such good
repair: it was also sent from England by Mr. Bold, of Liverpool, to the
King's father. In the largest room there was an elevated seat, in humble
imitation of a throne, where the King sat to hear and give judgment in
cases of dispute, and other causes that required his interference. He
had a number of articles of English furniture, for instance, drawers,
sofas, chairs, &c. The principal articles in glass, were a chandelier,
suspended in the centre of the room, several mirrors, glass shades, for
lamps or candles; rummers, wine-glasses, &c.; but, like the Duke, his
Majesty does not sleep in his English house, preferring a native hut,
where he was surrounded by his wives and domestics; the latter, of
course, being his slaves. King Eyo is more moderate in his conjugal
establishment than the Duke, having only twenty wives, while Duke
Ephraim's number amounts to sixty.

The captain of an English vessel calling on the Duke one day, he
exclaimed, "Oh, my friend, you come very good time, I just send away
some of my wives, that I have had to entertain me!"--The captain
replying, that he regretted he had not come sooner, as he should have
liked to see them. The Duke answered, "Oh! no, my friend; you could not;
it is not Calabar fashion!" How many were there? questioned the
captain--"Oh!" replied the Duke, "only twenty-five!"

_Saturday, 15_.--There was so much noise in the town all night, that we
imagined it must proceed from drunkenness, or else some desperate
rencounter; indeed, it was impossible to think otherwise, for they were
screaming, hallooing, and blowing cows-horns, or conchs, which produced
so horrid a din, that there was no possibility of sleeping, and we
expected no less than that a party would rush into the house where we
were. The uproar, however, died away towards morning, and we learned
afterwards, that it was nothing more than the ordinary savage enjoyment
of the natives.

Captain Owen arrived this morning to pay King Eyo a visit; he remained a
couple of hours, and then returned to Old Calabar Town.

In the afternoon, we left Creek Town, with the King, in Tom Eyo's canoe,
to return to Old Calabar; we had been very hospitably entertained by his
Majesty, who gave us what is called Calabar chop, a dish consisting of
any sort of meat stewed in palm-oil, and highly seasoned with pepper.

The idea of palm-oil may be unpleasant to an English reader, but when it
is fresh, it is not unpalatable, and I must confess, that I greatly
relished a dish of fish and yams which was brought on board the Kent, as
a present to the captain: of course it was cooked in their best style. I
remember, at one time, having as much prejudice as any of my countrymen
against oil; but when I went to France, I partook of it insensibly,
until I began to like it; and, when in Italy, I fell into the custom of
using it with vegetables, as a substitute for melted butter: fresh oil,
in warm climates, being generally preferred to butter, even where both
are to be had, which is not always the case in southern latitudes.

There are very few good fish in the Old Calabar river; the best I met
with was a species of sole, but very thin, which, I suppose, is owing to
the muddiness of the river itself, and to the extensive mud-banks which
flank the channel. The water in the river is also so bad as to be unfit
for use, in consequence of the quantity of decayed animal and vegetable
matter that must constantly be mixed with it, in a climate where the
progress of putrefaction is so rapid; however, fortunately for the
shipping, there is a good spring on the bank of the river, about a mile
below the town, where it is usual to send for supplies.

King Eyo went on board the African, schooner, and remained with Captain
Smith to select goods, equal in value to twenty bullocks.

[36] It is the custom here to bury their dead in their own houses.

[37] Brother to King Eyo.


Captain Owen's Departure--Runaway Slave--Egbo again--Duke's Sunday--
Superstitious Abstinence--Anecdote of a Native Gentleman--Breaking
Trade--Author's Visit to Creek Town--Bullocks embarked--Departure from
Calabar--Chased by mistake--Dangerous Situation--Mortality at Fernando
Po--Detection of a Deserter--Frequency of Tornados--Horatio hove
down--Capture of a Slave Vessel--Loss of Mr. Morrison--Another Slave
Vessel taken--Landing a part of the Slaves--Author's Daily Routine--
Garden of Eden--Monstrous Fish--Continued Mortality--Market at Longfield

_Monday, 17_.--After breakfast, Captain Owen sailed in the Victoria for
Fernando Po. The Lady Combermere also departed for the same destination;
the latter vessel, being on a trading voyage along the coast, contained
a number of articles in her freight, much required by the people at the

Soon after these vessels were out of sight, two parties of slaves came
down from the Baracoons, to wash themselves in the river; they were
chained in pairs, the right leg of one to the left leg of another.
Before the Victoria arrived, they were brought down daily; but were not
seen during the time she remained, notwithstanding there were several
depots for slaves in the town.

Some black gentlemen came on board to-day to barter for bullocks.

The brig James, from Liverpool, arrived this afternoon. About eight in
the evening, a Calabar man was brought on board from the Kent's
oil-house; he wanted to be secreted until we sailed, as he wished to
make his escape; for, he said, his master wanted to cut his head off, or
to make him chop nut, i.e. to oblige him to eat a poisonous nut, which
produces speedy death, because he had free-mason (meaning witchcraft),
and that his master had been sick ever since he had last flogged him.

Picked up floating about the harbour, the long-boat of a French slaver,
that had been taken while at anchor here, by a French man-of-war brig.--
Ther. at 1 P.M. 93 deg. F. in the shade.

_Wednesday, 19_.--We saw from the vessel to-day, that Egbo was running
about the town. A small canoe, with a couple of the Eden's Kroomen, came
up the river this evening with a letter from the Eden's tender, for
information respecting the Spanish slave-vessel that was expected to

_Thursday, 20_.--Fine day, with a fresh sea breeze, which felt quite
reviving after several hot days. Egbo again in action to-day, having
been sent from Old Calabar to Robin's Town, a distance of three miles,
to recover a debt for the Duke.

_Friday, 21_.--Old Calabar being yesterday, this was Duke's Sunday; but
neither of these holidays were kept with the usual festivity, in
consequence of the prescribed time of the mourning for the Prince, not
having yet expired. When these holidays are observed, it is usual for
the Duke to invite all the captains and super-cargoes of vessels in the
river, when he gives them an excellent dinner, with plenty of palm-wine.
The dinner consists, generally, of goats, wild pigs, monkeys, fish,
plain yams, foofoo, &c. The latter dish is a preparation of boiled yams,
which are pounded in a mortar until they obtain a tenacity that will
admit of being drawn out like birdlime. While the Duke is at dinner, or
breakfast, he usually has some foofoo before him. This he rolls in his
hands into small balls, of about two inches in diameter, before he
partakes of it: it is, however, but justice to remark, that his Majesty
always washes his hands both before and after each meal.

There is a superstition, prevalent among these people, concerning food
that is forbidden, which is pointed out to them from time to time by
their doctor, or rather by the fetish men, who are the interpreters of
his supposed will; the doctor himself being a mere wooden image; one of
which is always carried about in the suite of the Duke. At the time of
our visit, the Duke was forbidden to eat beef or fowls, consequently he
never allowed them to be put on his table. He was occasionally permitted
to eat fish, because, I presume, he was supposed to have a fancy for it.
At these times, the Duke's attendants are forbidden to taste fish.
Although the Duke does not eat beef or fowls, he occasionally orders the
animals to be sacrificed as an offering to the devil: for the Calabar
people say, that "God is a good man, and will not hurt them; but the
devil is a bad man, and it is therefore necessary to appease him."

The natives of this country all shave on the day previous to Calabar
Sunday; and it is curious enough that they all do so according to the
Mahommedan mode, excepting when they make devils, that is, go into
mourning, at which period, they not only omit shaving, but put on their
worst clothes.

The captain of an English vessel, calling one day on a black gentleman,
with whom he was on very friendly terms, opened the door suddenly,
without ceremony, breaking a slight fastening, and found his friend

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