Lander's Travels - The Travels of Richard Lander into the Interior of Africa
by Robert Huish
Previous Part     1   2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

In a short time after this transaction, it some how transpired at Abomey that there yet lived the remnant of the enemy's family, and in order to trace him out, the king fell upon a scheme, which strongly displays that species of cunning and artifice so often observed among savages.

Some of his half-heads, who may very appropriately be termed his mortal messengers, in contradistinction to the immortals sent to the shades, arrived at the fort, and, with the Coke, a stern and hardhearted villain, who, in the absence of the yavougah, was the next caboceer, demanded admittance in the king's name, prostrating themselves as usual, and covering their heads with dust. On entering, they proceeded immediately to that quarter where the slaves were, and repeated the ceremony of kissing the ground before they spoke the king's word, that is to say, delivered his message. The Coke then made a long harangue, the purport of which was to signify the king's regret that animosity should have so long existed between him and the chief of that country which he had just despoiled, and to express his sorrow for the fate of a family, which had suffered from his displeasure, through false accounts and misrepresentations. For this reason, he was now most anxious to make every reparation in his power to a son yet remaining of that prince, and would readily re-establish him in the rank and possessions of his father, could he only find him out. Completely duped by this wile, the unsuspecting lad exultingly exclaimed, "I am the son of the prince!"—"Then," replied the Coke, with a hellish joy at having succeeded in his object, "you are just the person we want." Upon which these half-heads seized him, and began to bind his hands. Finding by this time the real state of the case, which at first it was impossible to comprehend, Mr. M'Leod strongly protested against their seizing a slave whom he had regularly purchased, and complained loudly of the insult offered to the company's fort; but all in vain. He then earnestly entreated them to offer the king his own price, or selection of goods, and to beg as a favour from Mr. M'Leod, that he might be spared, strongly urging the plea also, that, when once embarked, he would be as free from every apprehension, respecting him, as if he had killed him.

The Coke coolly replied, that Mr. M'Leod need not give himself any further trouble to make any proposals, for he dared not repeat one of them to the king; and, after an ineffectual struggle, Mr. M'Leod was at last compelled to witness, with the most painful emotion, this ill-fated youth dragged off in a state of the gloomiest despair, a despair rendered more dismal from the fallacious glimpse of returning happiness, by which he had been so cruelly entrapped.

The party not being able to obtain the slightest information respecting Mr. Dickson, retraced their steps, and rejoined Captain Clapperton in the river Benin, where they met with an English merchant, of the name of Houston, who advised them by no means to think of proceeding by that river, a circuitous track, and covered with pestilential swamps; and more particularly as the king bore a particular hatred to the English for their exertions in putting an end to the slave-trade, nor did he, Mr. Houston, know how far, or in what direction, that river might lead them. He recommended Badagry as the most convenient point on the coast to start from, and he offered to accompany them across the mountains to Katunga, the capital of Youriba. His offer was accepted, and Lander's journal commences with their starting from Badagry, on the 7th December. They were also attended by a Houssa black, of the name of Pascoe, who had been sent from one of the king's ships to accompany the late enterprizing traveller Belzoni, as interpreter, in his last and fatal journey.

It appears, that during their stay at Whidah, every inquiry was made after Bello and his messengers, but without the slightest success, and equally so as to Funda and Raka, names never heard of on that part of the coast. It is now known that these places are nearly two hundred miles inland, and that Raka is not even on the banks of any river, and that neither of them was then under the dominion of Bello.

Badagry, the capital of a small territory, is situated at the mouth of the Lagos river, in latitude 6 deg. 20', and is much frequented by the Portuguese slave-merchants, who have five factories there. Canoes being obtained, the party proceeded slowly up a branch of this river, as far as the mouth of the Gazie creek, which comes from the north-west, running through part of the kingdom of Dahomy, having its rise in the country called Keeto. They ascended this creek for about a mile and a half, and then landed on the western bank, at a place called Bawie, where a market is held for the people of Badagry and the adjacent towns. The very first night, they were guilty of a fatal imprudence. The banks of both these streams are low and covered with reeds; the soil a red clay mixed with sand; and the surrounding country is covered with forests of high trees and jungle. Not a hum of a single mosquito was to be heard. Every circumstance combined to create an atmosphere fatal to animal life, and the consequence of the unaccountable disregard of all precaution on the part of the travellers was too soon apparent. The seeds of those diseases were here sown, in the very first night of their journey, which speedily proved fatal to two of the party, and had nearly carried off the whole. How an old naval surgeon and two experienced naval officers could commit such an imprudence, in such a climate, is to us most surprising, when most dreadful consequences are well known to have almost invariably resulted from such a practice in tropical climates,

On the 9th of December, they again slept in the open air, in the market-place of Dagmoo, a large town, where they might have had as many houses as they wanted. This reckless indifference to the preservation of their health can only be accounted for on the principle, that on an expedition attended by so many difficulties and privations, it was deemed justifiable to attempt to inure the constitution to the noxious influences of the climate, and to look down with contempt upon any act which had the least tendency to effeminacy, or a scrupulous attention to personal comfort. The constitution of Clapperton was well known to have been of an iron nature; it had already withstood the pestilential climate of some parts of Soudan, in his previous travels, and, with that impression upon his mind, he regarded, perhaps, with indifference, or more likely with inattention, any effect which might arise from the marshy and swampy country through which the party travelled in the commencement of their journey. The disastrous sequel will, however, soon manifest itself.

One morning, Captain Clapperton walked forward with Mr. Houston to the town of Puka, the first place in the Youriba territory, where they were civilly received, and they were visited by one of the Eyeo war-chiefs, who came in state. He was mounted on a small horse, as were two of his attendants; the rest of the cavalcade were on foot. His dress was most grotesque, consisting of a ragged red coat, with yellow facings, and a military cap and feather, apparently Portuguese. He came curvetting and leaping his horse, until within the distance of a hundred yards, when he dismounted, and, approaching the travellers, seated himself down on the ground. Captain Clapperton, by the hand of Lander, sent him his umbrella, as a token that he wished him well, on the receipt of which the drums were beaten, and hands were clapped and fingers cracked at a great rate. It must be observed, that the latter motion is the method of salutation practised by the natives of Dahomy and Eyeo. The chief now came up to them, capering and dancing the whole of the way, and shook them by the hand, a few of his attendants accompanying him. Lander informed us that he was not on this occasion honoured by the salute of the Eyeo chief, and he attributed it to the nigh notion which the chief entertained of his own dignity and importance, and that it would be in him an act of great condescension to notice an individual who was evidently but a subordinate, and an attendant upon his superior. He, however, did not hesitate to steal a handkerchief belonging to Lander, which perhaps he considered to be also an act of condescension in him. Like other great men, who sometimes speak a great deal, without much meaning or sense being discoverable in their oration, the Eyeo chief began his speech by saying that he was very glad that he now saw a white man, and he doubted not that white man was equally glad to see him, and then, pointing to the various parts of his dress, he said, "This cloth is not made in my country; this cap is of white man's velvet; these trousers are of white man's nankeen; this is a white man's shawl; we get all good things from white man, and we must therefore be glad when white man come to visit our country." Although not cheered at the conclusion of his speech, like other great speakers, yet, on the other hand, like them in general, he appeared to be very well satisfied with himself; and Captain Clapperton, by his demeanour, fully gave him to understand that he fully approved of the sentiments which flowed from his lips, and that they were perfectly worthy of a chief of the Eyeo nation.

The two men, who appeared next in authority to himself, were stout good-looking men, natives of Bornou; they were dressed in the fashion of that country, with blue velvet caps on their heads. Being Mahometans, they could not be prevailed on to drink spirits, but the captain and his men drank two drams.

They paid a visit to the caboceer, or chief man of the town, whom they found seated in the midst of his elders and women. He was an ancient, tall, stupid-looking man, dressed in a long silk tobe, or long shirt; on his head was a cap, made of small glass beads of various colours, surrounded with tassels of small gold-coloured beads, and three large coral ones in front. The cap was the best part of the man, for it was very neat; in his hand he held a fly-flapper, the handle of which was covered with beads. After a number of compliments, they were presented with goroo nuts and water. They told him of their intention to proceed to Eyeo; that they were servants of the king of England; and that they wanted carriers for themselves and baggage.

The baggage, however, had not come up from the coast, and Captain Pearce had to return to the beach and see after it. They remained here for the night, and the old caboceer, their host, sent them a present of a sheep, a basket of yams, and some firewood. But when, the next morning, application was made to him for carriers, not a single man could be obtained. After a great deal of palavering, the Eyeo captain loaded his own people. They could not procure any bearers for the hammocks, but they nevertheless set off, having only one horse, which Captain Clapperton and Mr. Houston agreed to ride alternately. The former, however, who had almost crippled himself the preceding day, with a pair of new boots, and could only wear slippers, became so galled by riding without a saddle, that he was soon reduced to walk bare-foot, and whenever he crossed an ant path, his feet felt as if on fire, these insects drawing blood from them and his ankles.

After a most toilsome and distressing march, part of which wound through thick and dark woods, the morning proved raw, cold and hazy; the travellers had nothing to eat, and when at noon they reached the town of Humba, Captain Clapperton had a slight fit of ague. On the following day, bearers were with some difficulty procured, and he was carried forward in a hammock. At Bedgie, which they reached on the 12th, Dr. Morrison became very unwell with symptoms of fever. This place stands on the banks of a river about a quarter of a mile in width, full of low swampy islands and floating reeds. On the 14th, Captain Pearce and Richard Lander were taken ill.

They had by this, time reached Laboo, a town situated on a rising ground, where the country begins to undulate in hill and dale. Its distance from the coast is not specified, but it can hardly be so much as fifty miles, as Lagos can be reached in one day by a messenger, yet the journey had occupied the travellers no fewer than seven days. The delay seems partly to have been occasioned by the heavy baggage and stores, and by the difficulty of obtaining bearers. The Eyeo people, as they were afterwards told, are unaccustomed to carry hammocks, and they ought to have proceeded on horseback, in fact, Lander did not hesitate to express himself in rather severe terms, in regard to the manner in which the early part of the expedition was conducted; for, had the plan been adopted of making use of horses for the conveyance of the baggage, and not have allowed themselves to be delayed by the difficulty of procuring human assistance; had the whole party pressed forward to Laboo, and there attempted to recruit their strength, it is highly probable that they would have altogether escaped the poisonous effects of the miasmata.

The country thus far appears to have been an almost perfect level; in some places swampy, for the most part covered with dense forests, but partially cultivated, and very populous. Towns and villages were numerous, and everywhere on the road they were met by numbers of people, chiefly women, bearing loads of produce on their heads, always cheerful and obliging, and delighted to see white men. At Humba, the inhabitants kept up singing and dancing all night, in the true negro style, round the house allotted to the white men. Their songs were in chorus, and, as Lander expressed himself, "not unlike some church-music that I have heard."

On leaving Laboo, they were attended for some distance by the caboceer of the town, at the head of the whole population, the women singing in chorus, and holding up both hands as they passed, while groupes of people were seen kneeling down, and apparently wishing them a good journey. The road now lay over an undulating country, through plantations of millet, yams, and maize, and at three hours from Laboo, led to Jannah, which was once a walled town, but the gate and fosse are all that remain of the fortifications. It is situated on a gentle declivity, commanding an extensive prospect to the westward; to the eastward the view is interrupted by thick woods. The inhabitants may amount to from eight hundred to a thousand souls. The account which Lander gave us of the natives of this district was highly favourable. He had only to complain of the eternal loquacity of the women, by which he was exceedingly annoyed; in addition to which, they appeared sometimes to be highly offended because, as he was ignorant of their language, he very often committed the most extraordinary blunders, in the answers which he gave by signs, and which were wholly opposite to what they had every reason to expect, from the significant language which they made use of. The women here are, however, not much better treated than in more central Africa; not only the domestic duties are performed by them, but in all matters of industry the labour appears to be imposed upon them, whilst their husbands or owners are loitering away their time, telling unaccountable stories to each other, or sleeping under the shade of some of the beautiful trees which adorn this part of the country.

Very differently is it constituted with the canine species; for here the dog is treated with respect, and made the companion of man; here he has collars round his neck, of various colours, and ornamented with kowries; he sits by his master, and follows him in all his journeys and visits. The great man is never without one; and it appeared to Lander that a boy was appointed to take care of him. In no other country in Africa is this faithful animal treated with common humanity.

The general character of the people of Eyeo appears to be good and amiable, and, as a proof of their honesty, to which all the travellers bore ample testimony, they had now travelled sixty miles in eight days, with a numerous and heavy baggage, and about ten different relays of carriers, without losing so much as the value of a shilling, public or private; a circumstance evincing not only somewhat more than common honesty in the inhabitants, but a degree of subordination and regular government, which could not have been supposed to exist among a people hitherto considered as barbarous. It appears, however, that the Eyeo captain, Adamooli, had not quite so high an opinion of their spontaneous honesty; for he told the travellers, at Puka, to keep a good look-out after their things, as the people there were great thieves.

In some branches of the arts they possess an extraordinary skill. They are great carvers; their doors, drums, and every thing of wood being carved. In the weaving of cloth and linen they also evinced considerable skill. Eight or ten looms were seen at work in one house; in fact it was a regular manufactory. Captain Clapperton visited several cloth manufactories, and three dye-houses, with upwards of twenty vats in each, all in full work. The indigo is of excellent quality, and the cloth of a good texture; some of it very fine. The women are the dyers, the boys the weavers, the men, in general, lookers on. The loom and shuttles are on the same principle as the common English loom, but the warp is only four inches wide. They also manufacture earthen-ware, but prefer that of Europe, which they obtain from Badagry. In walking through the town, the strangers were followed by an immense crowd, but met with not a word nor a look of disrespect. The men took off their caps as they passed, and the women remained kneeling. The market was well supplied with raw cotton, cloths, oranges, limes, plantains, bananas, onions, pepper, and gums for soup, boiled yams, and acassous, a paste made of maize and wrapped in leaves.

A country finely cleared, and diversified with hill and dale, extends from Jannah to Tshow, distant two short stages. The route then again entered upon a thickly-wooded tract, with only patches of corn land, and the roads were dreadfully bad, being partially flooded by heavy rains. Captain Clapperton here caught a fresh cold, and all the patients became worse. Dr. Morrison, after being carried in a hammock as far as Tshow, finding himself grow no better, was left behind, under the charge of Mr. Houston, who was to see him safe back to the coast. He, however, expired at Jannah on the 27th. On the same day, at a town called Engwa, Captain Pearce breathed his last. On this occasion, Captain Clapperton says, "The death of Captain Pearce has caused me much concern; for, independently of his amiable qualities as a friend and companion, he was eminently fitted by his talents, perseverance, and fortitude, to be of singular service to the expedition, and on these accounts I deplore his loss, as the greatest I could have sustained, both as regards my private feelings and the public service."

On the following morning, the remains of this lamented officer were interred, in the presence of all the principal people of the town. The grave was staked round by the inhabitants, and a shed built over it. An inscription was carved on a board, and placed at the head of the grave by Lander, Captain Clapperton being unable to sit up, or to assist in any manner in the mournful ceremony. Thus did Captain Clapperton see himself bereft of his comrades, and left to pursue his journey in very painful and distressing circumstances, with only Richard Lander as his servant, who stood by him in all his fortunes, and Pascoe, not a very trusty African, whom he had hired at Badagry. Two days after the interment of Captain Pearce, Mr. Houston joined Captain Clapperton from Jannah, bearing the intelligence of the death of Dr. Morrison.

These unfortunate officers had been conveyed thus far, about seventy miles, in hammocks, by the people of the country, every where experiencing the kindest attention, lodged in the best houses, and supplied with every thing that the country afforded. The fear, however, that continually preyed upon the mind of Lander was excessive; for the general appearance of Captain Clapperton indicated that he would soon join his comrades in the grave; he was able occasionally to ride on horseback, and sometimes to walk, but he was greatly debilitated, and subject to a high degree of fever. By anticipation, Lander saw himself a solitary wanderer in the interior of Africa, bereft of all those resources with which Clapperton was liberally supplied, and his only hope of deliverance resting on his being able to accomplish his return to Badagry, literally as a Christian mendicant. Lander describes the country between Badagry and Jannah, the frontier town of the kingdom of Youriba, as abounding in population, well cultivated with plantations of Indian corn, different kinds of millet, yams, plantains, wherever the surface was open and free from the noxious influence of dense and unwholesome forests.

The old caboceer of Jannah was, according to the report of Lander, a merry, jocose kind of companion. On one occasion, when he was surrounded by a whole crowd of the natives, and was informed that the English had only one wife, they all broke out into a loud laugh, in which the women in particular joined immoderately. The vanity of this old negro almost exceeded belief; during the ceremony of the reception of Captain Clapperton and Mr. Houston, he changed his dress three different times, each time, as he thought, increasing the splendour of his appearance.

The whole court in which they were received, although very large, was filled, crowded, and crammed with people, except a place in front, where the august strangers sat, into which his highness led Captain Clapperton and Mr. Houston, in each hand, followed by Lander, who, ever and anon, first to the right, and then to the left, felt a twitch at the tail of his coat, and on looking to ascertain the cause, found it to have proceeded from the fair hands of a bewitching negress, who, casting upon him a look of irresistible fascination, accompanied by a smile from a pair of huge pouting lips, between which appeared a row of teeth, for which one of the toothless grannies at Almack's would have given half her dowry, seemed to be anxious of trying the experiment of how far the heart of an Englishman was susceptible of the tender passion, especially when excited by objects of such superlative beauty. It may be supposed that neither Clapperton nor Houston had as yet taken any lessons in the art and mystery of African dancing, and as to waltzing, neither of them felt any great inclination to be encircled in the arms of a negress, who, although she might be young and graceful in her attitudes, had a scent about her of stinking rancid oil, which was not very agreeable to the olfactory nerves of the delicate Europeans. However, it was the etiquette of the court,—and every court, from the Cape of Good Hope to the country of Boothia, that is, if a court were ever held in the latter place,—is cursed with the ridiculous forms of ceremony and etiquette; it must be repeated, that at the court which his highness the caboceer of Jannah, in the plenitude of his official importance, held at that place, it was a rule of etiquette, that every stranger, of whatever rank or nation, should choose for himself a partner, wherewith to dance an African fandango or bolero; and it may be easily supposed that, when the Europeans looked around them, and saw the African beauties squatting on their haunches, or reclining, in graceful negligence, on banks of mud, a great difficulty existed as to whom they should select to be their partners in the African quadrille. We have ourselves been in a ball-room where the beating of the female heart was almost audible, when the object of its secret attachment approached to lead out the youthful beauty to the dancing circle; and although it cannot be supposed, that, on so short an acquaintance, the heart of any beautiful negress palpitated at the approach of Captain Clapperton, Mr. Houston, or the more timid and bashful Lander, yet it was evident that the negresses, who were selected as their partners, testified their unqualified delight at the honour conferred upon them by a grin, which in a civilized country would be called a smile, but which happened to be of that extent, as if nature had furnished them with a mouth extending from ear to ear, similar to the opening of the jaws of a dogger codfish. The Taglionis and Elsters of the court were present; and although a latitude of a few degrees to the northward of the line is not exactly suitable for pirouetting and tourbillons, which, in a negress in a state of almost complete nudity, could not fail to attract the doting eyes even of the bishop of London, or of Sir Andrew Agnew, particularly on the Sabbath; yet, on this occasion, the beauties of the court attempted to outvie each other in the gracefulness of their attitudes, and the extraordinary height of their salutations. There is very little doubt but that the tout ensemble would have formed an excellent subject for a Cruickshanks, and particularly to take a sketch of the old black caboceer, sailing majestically around in his damask robe, with a train-bearer behind him, and every now and then turning up his old withered face, first to one of his visitors, and then to the other; then whisking round on one foot, and treading without ceremony on the shoeless foot of his perspiring partner, then marching slow, with solemn gait, like the autocrat of all the Russias in a polonnaise, then, not exactly leading gracefully down the middle, but twining the hands of his visitors in his, which had very much the appearance of a piebald affair, showing at the same time an extraordinary inflation of pride, that a white man should dance with him. But the fate of Lander was the most to be commiserated; for although it might be the etiquette of his country, that master and servant should not be quadrilling at the same time, yet as no such distinction existed in the court of the old caboceer of Jannah, as far as the sentiments of the female beauties were concerned, poor Lander led the very devil of a life of it. He certainly, as it would have been highly unbecoming in him, did not solicit the hand of any of the expectant beauties, and therefore, giving him all due credit for his extreme bashfulness and insuperable modesty, they were determined to solicit his; he was first twirled round by one beauty, then by another; at one moment he found himself in a state of juxta position with the old caboceer; at another, his animated partner was nearly driving him into a state of positive collision with his own master; in fact he was, like Tom at Almack's, putting the whole of the dancers into confusion, from his ignorance of the intricacies of the African dance, and his total inability to compete with his partner in her gymnastic evolutions. One of the most graceful movements, according to the opinion of the natives, consists in a particular part of the body, situated, as the metaphysicians would term it, a posteriori, coming into contact with a similar part of the body of the partner, with as much violence as the physical strength of the female dancer can effect; and if on any of these occasions the equilibrium should be lost, and the weaker individual laid prostrate upon the ground, the laugh then sounds throughout the whole assembly, and the beauty is highly extolled, who by her prowess could have so well effected the prostration of her partner. Now it is very possible, that when a person knows of an evil coming over him, he will be so upon his guard as to prevent any disastrous consequences arising from it; but Lander not being aware that any accident could befall him from any movement of the lady who had selected him, much against his will, as her partner, was footing it away very composedly and becomingly, when a tremendous blow was inflicted on a certain part of the hinder portion of his body, which being as irresistible as if it had come from a battering-ram of the Romans, laid him prostrate on the floor, to the infinite delight of all the fashionables of the court, particularly the female part, who testified their joy by the utterance of the loudest laughs and clapping their hands in an extacy of mirth. In fact, the travellers entered into all the humours of the day, and thus, as Captain Clapperton expressed himself, "cheered we our old friend, and he was cheered."

The country between Tshow and Engwa, where the ground has been cleared, is described by Lander as excessively beautiful, diversified by hills and dales, a small stream running through each valley. All the towns, however, are situated in the bosom of an inaccessible wood. The approach is generally through an avenue, defended by three stockades, with narrow wicker gates, and only one entrance. Beyond Engwa, the state of the atmosphere becomes much improved, the country being clear and gradually rising, and on the high grounds, large blocks of grey granite cropped out, indicated their approach to a range of primitive mountains. The plains were covered with the female cocoa nut, and with long high grass. Walled towns occur at the end of short stages, each containing from five to ten thousand inhabitants. Those at which the travellers halted were called Afoura, Assula, Assonda, and Chocho. At Afoura, the granite formation began to show itself. Assula is surrounded with a wall and a ditch, and contains about six thousand inhabitants. At these places, the travellers were abundantly supplied with provisions, and regaled with dancing and singing the whole night, by the apparently happy natives.

On leaving the town of Chocho, the road wound through beautiful valleys, planted in many places with cotton, corn, yams, and bananas and on the tops and hollows of the hills were perched the houses and villages of the proprietors of these plantations. At this very time, however, "a slaving war," was being carried on at only a few hours ride from the route taken by the travellers; such is the withering curse that hangs over the fairest regions of this devoted country.

The next stage from Bendekka to Duffoo, lay through mountain scenery of a still wilder character. Rugged and gigantic blocks of grey granite rose to the height of between six and seven hundred feet above the valleys, which now contracted to defiles scarcely a hundred yards in breadth, then widened to half a mile, and in one part the route crossed a wide table land. The soil is rich, but shallow, except along the fine streams of water which run through the valleys, where large tall trees were growing. The sides of the mountains are bare, but stunted trees and shrubs fill all the crevices. The valleys are well cultivated with cotton, corn, and yams. This cluster of hills is said to rise in the province of Borgoo, behind Ashantee, and to run through Jaboo to Benin, in a direction from W.N.W. to E.S.E. The width of the range is about eighty miles.

From a summit overlooking the town of Duffoo, a grand and beautiful view was obtained of mountains, precipices, and valleys in every direction. The top of the hill was covered with women grinding corn. This mount might be almost called a large corn mill. Here and in every other place, the king of Eyeo's wives were found trading for his majesty, and like women of the common class, carrying large loads on their heads from town to town. The town of Daffoo is said to contain a population of 15,000 souls. On leaving it the road wound between two hills, descending over rugged rocks, beneath impending masses of granite, which seemed ready to start from their base, to the destruction of all below. It continued to ascend and descend as far as the town of Woza, which stands on the edge of a table-land, gently descending, well cultivated, and watered by several streams. The stage terminated at another fortified town called Chradoo, containing upwards of seven thousand inhabitants.

On leaving this town on the following morning, they were attended by the worthy caboceer, and an immense train of men, women, and children; the women singing in chorus, whilst drums, horns, and gongs, formed a barbarous and discordant accompaniment to their agreeable voices. A difficult and dangerous road over broken rocks, and through rugged passes, where the natives were perched in groups to see the travellers pass, led in five hours to the large and populous town of Erawa. Here they were received with drums, the people as usual curious beyond measure, but very kind. The next day a mountain pass led through a thickly populous tract, to a town called Washoo, beyond which place they entered a second range of mountains, more elevated and of a more savage character, than any they had hitherto passed; they appeared as if some great convulsion of nature had thrown the immense masses of granite in wild and terrific confusion. The road through this mountain pass, according to the information of Lander, was grand and imposing, sometimes rising almost perpendicularly, then descending in the midst of rocks into deep dells; then winding beautifully round the side of a steep hill, the rocks above overhanging them in fearful uncertainty. In every cleft of the hills, wherever there appeared the least soil, were cottages, surrounded with small plantations of millet, yams, and plantains, giving a beautiful variety to the rude scenery. The road continued rising, hill above hill, for at least two miles, until their arrival at the large and populous town of Chaki, situated on the top of the very highest hill. On every hand, on the hills, on the rocks, and crowding on the road, the inhabitants were assembled in thousands, the women welcoming them with holding up their hands, and chanting choral songs, and the men with the usual salutations, and every demonstration of joy. The caboceer was seated on the outside of his house, surrounded by his ladies, his singing men, and singing women, his drums, fifes, and gong-gongs. He was a good-looking man, about fifty years of age, with a pleasing countenance. His house was all ready for the reception of the strangers, and he immediately procured for them a large supply of goats, sheep, and yams, pressing them strongly to stay a day or two with them. He appeared to consider them as messengers of peace, come with blessings to his king and country. Indeed a belief was very prevalent, and seems to have gone before them all the way, that they were charged with a commission to make peace wherever there was war, and to do good to every country through which they passed. The caboceer of this town indeed told them so, and said he hoped that they would be enabled to settle the war with the Nyffee people and the Fellatas, and the rebellion of the Houssa slaves, who had risen against the king of Yariba. When Lander shook hands with him, he passed his hand over the heads of his chiefs, as confirming on them a white man's blessing. He was more inquisitive and more communicative than any one whom they had yet seen. He sat until nearly midnight, talking and inquiring about England. On asking, if he would send one of his sons to see England, he rose up with alacrity, and said, he would go himself. He inquired how many wives an Englishman had. On being told only one, he seemed much astonished, and laughed greatly, as did all his people. "What does he do," said he, "when one of his wives has a child? Our caboceer has two thousand!!"

On leaving Chaka, the caboceer escorted them several miles, attended by upwards of two hundred of his wives, one of whom was young and handsome. The country was now extremely beautiful, clear of wood, and partly cultivated; and a number of Fellata villages were passed, the inhabitants of which live here as they do in most other parts of Soudan, a quiet and inoffensive pastoral life, unmolested by the black natives, and not interfering with their customs.

The next stage led to Koosoo, the largest town they had yet seen, surrounded with a double wall, and containing at least twenty thousand people. This place appears to stand at the northwestern termination of the granite range, the outer wall extending from some rugged hills on the S.E., to a great distance in the plain. Here the same favourable impression respecting the whites was found to prevail as at Chaki. The walls were crowded with people, and the caboceer, with his wives and head men, came forth to welcome the strangers. He was glad, he said, to see white men coming to his country, and going to see his king, adding that he never expected to see this day, and that now all the wars and bad palavers would be settled. He presented to them yams, eggs, a goat, a sheep, a fine fat turkey, and milk, and a large pig was sent by the caboceer of a neighbouring town. The country was described as being on every side full of large towns. Its aspect continued through the next stage very beautiful, and well cultivated. The route lay in a parallel line with the hills as far as the town of Yaboo, and then entered a fine plain, studded with Fellata villages, extending to Ensookosoo. At Sadooli, half an hour further, the range of hills was seen bearing from E. by S. to S. The well cultivated country continued as far as Aggidiba, but a considerable change then took place in its general aspect. The road led through a wood of low, stunted, scrubby trees, on a soil of gravel and sand, and the destructive ravages of the Fellatas now became apparent, in the half deserted towns and ruined villages. Akkibosa, the next town, was large, and surrounded inside the walls with an impenetrable wood. It was here that Lander again had the melancholy prospect of seeing himself a lonely wanderer in the wilds of Africa, for Captain Clapperton became worse than he had been since leaving Badagry. The pain in his side was relieved by rubbing the part with a piece of cord, after some Mallegeta pepper chewed had been applied to it. But the caboceer of Adja gave our traveller some medicine, which was far more efficacious. It tasted like lime juice and pepper, and produced nausea to such a degree, that Clapperton was unable to stand for half an hour after; he then suddenly got well, both as to the pain in his side, and a severe diarrhoea, which had troubled him for some time. The worthy caboceer, who had shown himself such an adept in practical pathology, was of the same opinion with others of his species, that a preventive is better than a remedy; but were this principle to be acted upon by the medical caboceers of the metropolis of England, we should not see them driving in their carriages from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. to convince a set of dupes, that a few latinized words and hieroglyphics scrawled on a scrap of paper, which is to produce for them a nauseous compound of aperient drugs, are to save them from the jaws of death. Captain Clapperton was in reality ill, and therefore the application of the prescription of the scientific caboceer of Adja, was perhaps advisable, on the ground that if it did not cure it would kill, but the case was differently situated with Lander, for although his health had sustained some severe shocks, yet it was good in comparison to that of his master; but the prudent caboceer considered that although he was not then actually ill, yet the possibility, and even the probability existed that he might become so, and therefore it was determined that the same medicine should be administered to Lander, as had been done to his master. Lander, however, protested that he did not stand in need of so potent a medicine, on the other hand, the caboceer protested that he was a great fool to entertain any such an opinion, and following the practice of the celebrated Dr. Sangrado, Lander was obliged to undergo the purgatory of the caboceer's medicine, and he was ready to admit that he did not feel himself the worse for it after its effects had subsided. The town of Adja is remarkable for an avenue of trees, with a creeping briar-like plant ascending to the very tops, and hanging down so as to form an impenetrable defence against every thing but a snake, and it is impossible to burn it. Leaving their medical friend, the caboceer of Adja, they proceeded to Loko, which is also a considerable walled town; and on proceeding about four miles further, they came to a groupe of three towns, one walled and two without walls, all bearing the name of Soloo.

The approach to the town of Tshow was through a beautiful valley, planted with large shady trees and bananas, having green plots and sheets of water running through the centre, where the dingy beauties of Tshow were washing their well-formed limbs, while the sheep and goats were grazing around on their verdant banks. This state of repose is stated, however, to be frequently disturbed by inroads from the neighbouring kingdom of Borgho, the natives of which are described as thieves and plunderers, and as the travellers were now close on its borders, they thought it necessary to brush up their arms.

In the evening, however, a caboceer arrived with a large escort of horse and foot from Katunga, the capital of Youriba, and having shaken hands with the travellers, immediately rubbed his whole body, that the blessing of their touch might be spread all over him. The escort was so numerous, that they ate up all the provisions of the town. Every corner was filled with them, and they kept drumming, blowing, dancing, and singing during the whole of the night.

On leaving this place, the road through which they passed was wide, though woody, and covered by men on horseback and bowmen on foot; the horsemen, armed with two or three long spears, hurrying on as fast as they could get the travellers to proceed; horns and country drums blowing and beating before and behind; some of the horsemen dressed in the most grotesque manner; others covered all over with charms. The bowmen had also their natty little hats and feathers, with the jebus, or leathern pouch, hanging by their side. These men always appeared to Captain Clapperton to be the best troops in this country and that of Soudan, on account of their lightness and activity. The horsemen, however, are but ill mounted, the animals are small and badly dressed; their saddles so ill secured, and the rider sits so clumsily in his seat, that any Englishman who ever rode a horse with an English saddle, would upset one of them the first charge with a long stick. The party were also attended by a great number of traders. After passing over a granite ridge, commanding a beautiful view of fine wooded valleys to the eastward, the road again crossed the Moussa, running to the Quorra, which is only three days distant.

From the brow of a hill the great capital of Eyeo opened to the view, on the opposite side of a vast plain bordered by a ridge of granite hills, and surrounded by a brilliant belt of verdure. The approach to Katunga is thus described by Clapperton: "Between us and it lay a finely cultivated valley, extending as far as the eye could reach to the westward, our view to the eastward intercepted by a high rock, broken into large blocks, with a singular top, the city lying below us, surrounded and studded with green, shady trees, forming a belt round the base of a rocky mountain of granite, about three miles in length, presenting as beautiful a view as I ever saw."

They entered the city by the north gate, accompanied by a band of music, and followed by an immense multitude of men, women, and children. After proceeding about five miles through the city, they reached the residence of the king, who received them seated under a verandah; the insignia of his state being two red and blue cloth umbrellas, supported by large poles held by slaves. He was dressed in a white tobe over another of blue; round his neck was a collar of large beads of blue stone, and on his head the imitation of a European crown in pasteboard, covered with blue cotton. The king's people had some difficulty in clearing the way for the strangers through the crowd, and sticks and whips were freely used, though generally in a good-natured manner. When they had at last got as far as the umbrellas, the space was all clear. The chiefs were observed to be holding a parley with the king, which Clapperton conjectured to relate to his being desired to perform the usual ceremony of prostration. On this, Captain Clapperton told them, that the only ceremony he would submit to was that of an English salute; that he would take off his hat, make a bow, and shake hands with his majesty, if he pleased. The ceremony of prostration is required from all. The chiefs, who come to pay their court, cover themselves with dust, and then fall flat on their bellies, having first practised the ceremony, in order to be perfect, before a large fat eunuch. It is also the court etiquette to appear in a loose cloth, tied under one arm; no tobes, no beads, no coral, nor grandeur of any kind, must appear, but on the king alone. In many points of the ceremonial, in the umbrellas, the prostrations, the sticks and whips so good-naturedly inflicted on the crowd, and the extraordinary politeness practised by these people to each other, we have a singular approximation to the customs of the celestial empire. The theatrical entertainments, too, which are acted before the king, are quite as amusing, and almost as refined, as any which his celestial majesty can command to be exhibited before a foreign ambassador. The king of Youriba made a point of the travellers staying to witness one of these theatrical entertainments. It was exhibited in the king's park, in a square place, surrounded by clumps of trees. The first performance was that of a number of men dancing and tumbling about in sacks, having their heads fantastically decorated with strips of rags, damask silk, and cotton of variegated colours, and they performed to admiration. The second exhibition was hunting the boa snake by the men in the sacks. The huge snake, it seems, went through the motions of this kind of reptile in a very natural manner, though it appeared to be rather full in the belly, opening and shutting its mouth in the most natural manner imaginable. A running fight ensued, which lasted some time, till at length the chief of the bagmen contrived to scotch its tail with a tremendous sword, when he gasped, twisted up, and seemed in great torture, endeavouring to bite his assailants, who hoisted him on their shoulders, and bore him off in triumph. The festivities of the day concluded with the exhibition of the white devil, which had the appearance of a human figure in white wax, looking miserably thin, and as if starved with cold, taking snuff, rubbing its hands, treacling the ground as if tender-footed, and evidently meant to burlesque and ridicule a white man, while his sable majesty frequently appealed to Clapperton, whether it was not well performed. After this, the king's women sang in chorus, and were accompanied by the whole crowd.

The method of salutation is very singular. The king, for instance, on saluting Captain Clapperton, lifted up his hands three times, repeating, "Ako! ako!" (How do you do?) the women behind him standing up and cheering them, and the men on the outside joined. It was impossible to count the number of his ladies, they were so densely packed, and so very numerous.

In a private visit subsequently paid to the travellers, the king assured them that they were truly welcome; that he had frequently heard of white men; but that neither himself nor his father, nor any of his ancestors, had ever seen one. He was glad that white men had come at this time, and now, he trusted, his country would be put right, his enemies brought to submission, and he would be enabled to build up his father's house, which the war had destroyed.


The city of Eyeo, in Houssa language, Katunga, the capital of Youriba, is situated in latitude 8 deg. 59' N., longitude 6 deg. 12 E. It is built on the sloping side and round the base of a small range of granite hills, which, as it were, forms the citadel of the town. They are formed of stupendous blocks of grey granite of the softest kind, some of which are seen hanging from the summits in the most frightful manner, while others, resting on very small bases, appear as if the least touch would send them down into the valley beneath. The soil on which the town is built is formed of clay and gravel, mixed with sand, which has obviously been produced from the crumbling granite. The appearance of these hills is that of a mass of rocks left bare by the tide. A belt of thick wood runs round the walls, which are built of clay, and about twenty feet high, and surrounded by a dry ditch. There are ten gates in the walls, which are about fifteen miles in circumference, of an oval shape, about four miles in diameter one way, and six miles the other; the south end leaning against the rocky hills, and forming an inaccessible barrier in that quarter. The king's houses, and those of his women, occupy about a square mile, and are on the south side of the hills, having two large parks, one in front and another facing the north; they are all built of clay, and have thatched roofs, similar to those nearer the coast. The posts supporting the verandahs and the doors of the king's or caboceer's houses are generally carved in has relief, with figures representing the boa killing an antelope or a hog, or with processions of warriors attended by drummers. The latter are by no means meanly executed, conveying the expression and attitude of the principal man in the groupe with a lofty air, and the drummer well pleased with his own music, or rather deafening noise. There are seven different markets, which are held every evening, being generally opened about three or four o'clock. The chief articles exposed for sale are yams, corn, calavances, plantains and bananas, vegetable butter, seeds of the colocynth, which form a great article of food, sweetmeats, goats, sheep, and lambs, also cloth of the manufacture of the country, and their various instruments of agriculture. The price of a small goat is from 1,500 to 2,000 kowries; 2,000 kowries being equal to a Spanish dollar; a large sheep, 3,000 to 5,000; a cow, from 20,000 to 30,000; a horse, 80,000 to 100,000; a prime human being, as a slave, 40,000 to 60,000, about half the price of a horse!

The kingdom of Youriba extends from Puka, within five miles of the coast to about the parallel of 10 deg. N., being bounded by Dahomy on the north-west, Ketto and the Maha countries on the north, Borgoo on the north-east, the Quorra to the east, Accoura, a province of Benin, to the south-east, and Jaboo to the south-west. These are the positions of the neighbouring countries, as given by Lander, although it is difficult to reconcile them with the map; Borgoo seems rather to be north-east, Dahomy west and southwest, Jaboo and Benin south-east. If Badagry be included in Youriba, the southern boundary will be the Bight of Benin.

Dahomy, Alladah, Maha, and Badagry were claimed as tributaries; and the king of Benin was referred to as an ally. The government is an hereditary despotism, every subject being the slave of the king; but its administration appears to have been for a long period mild and humane. When the king was asked, whether the customs of Youriba involved the same human sacrifices as those of Dahomy, his majesty shook his head, shrugged up his shoulders, and exclaimed, "No, no! no king of Youriba could sacrifice human beings." He added, but probably without sufficient grounds for the vaunt, that, if he so commanded, the king of Dahomy must also desist from the practice; that he must obey him. It is, however, stated, on the authority of Lander, that when a king of Youriba dies, the caboceer of Jannah, three other head caboceers, four women, and a great many favourite slaves and women, are obliged to swallow poison, given by fetish men in a parrot's egg; should this not take effect, the person is provided with a rope to hang himself in his own house. No public sacrifices are used, at least no human sacrifices, and no one was allowed to die at the death of the last king, as he did not die a natural death, having been murdered by one of his own sons, though the religion of the people of Youriba, as far as it could be comprehended by the travellers, consisted in the worship of one God, to whom they also sacrifice horses, cows, goats, sheep, and fowls. At the yearly feast, all these animals are sacrificed at the fetish-house, in which a little of the blood is spilled on the ground. The whole of them are then cooked, and the king and all the people, men and women attending, partake of the meat, drinking copiously of pitto (the country ale). It is stated, moreover, that it depends on the will of the fetish-man, or priest, whether a human being or a cow or other animal is to be sacrificed. If a human being, it is always a criminal, and only one. The usual spot where the feast takes place is a large open field before the king's houses, under wide-spreading trees, where there are two or three fetish houses.

The usual mode of burying the dead in this country is, to dig a deep narrow hole, in which the corpse is deposited in a sitting posture, the elbows between the knees. A poor person is interred without any ceremony; in honour of a rich man, guns are fired, and rum is drunk over his grave, and afterwards in the house by his friends and retainers. At the celebration of a marriage, pitto is circulated freely amongst the guests. Wives are bought, and according to the circumstances of the bridegroom, so is the price. The first question asked by every caboceer and great man was, how many wives the king of England, had, being prepared, it should seem, to measure his greatness by that standard; but when they were told that he had only one, (and, if they had felt disposed, they might have extended their information, by telling the inquirers that she was too much for him,) they gave themselves up to a long and ungovernable fit of laughter, followed by expressions of pity and wonder how he could possibly exist in that destitute condition. The king of Youriba's boast was, that his wives, linked hand-in-hand, would reach entirely across the kingdom. Queens, however, in Africa, are applied to various uses, although in some countries at some distance to the northward, it is a difficult question to solve, whether they be of any use at all, except for the purpose of entailing an extraordinary expense upon the people, who have to labour hard for the support of the royal appendage, which is generally imported from a neighbouring country, where pride, pauperism, and pomposity are particularly conspicuous. It would be well for an admirer of queenship to take a trip to Eyeo, to see to what uses queens can be applied; for there they are formed into a body-guard, and their majesties were observed, in every part of the kingdom, acting as porters, and bearing on their heads enormous burdens, in which they again differ from the queens of the more northern countries, where, fortunately for the natives of it, they never bear at all. The queens of Eyeo are, to all intents and purposes, slaves, and so are also other queens; but then they are slaves to foolish and ridiculous customs, to stiff starched etiquette, and to ceremonies degrading to a rational being.

The Eyeos, like other nations purely negro, are wholly unacquainted with letters, or any form of writing; these are known only to the Arabs or Fellatahs, who penetrate thither in small numbers; yet they have a great deal of popular poetry. Every great man has bands of singers of both sexes, who constantly attend him, and loudly celebrate his achievements in extemporary poems. The convivial meetings of the people, even their labours and journeys, are cheered by songs composed for the occasion, and chanted often with considerable taste.

The military force of the kingdom consists of the caboceers and their immediate retainers, which upon an average may be about one hundred and fifty each, a force formidable enough when called out upon any predatory excursion, but which would seem to be inadequate to the defence of the territory, against the encroachments or inroads of the Fellatahs, and other more warlike tribes. It was supposed by Captain Clapperton that the army may be as numerous as that of any of the kingdoms of Africa. No conjecture was offered as to the total population, but nearly fifty towns occurred in the line of route, each containing from six to seven thousand, and some fifteen to twenty thousand souls, and from the crowds on the roads, the population must be very considerable.

The Youribanies struck the travellers as having less of the characteristic features of the negro, than any other African race which they had seen. Their lips are less thick, and their noses more inclined to the aquiline shape than negroes in general. The men are well made, and have an independent carriage. The women are almost invariably of a more ordinary appearance than the men, owing to their being more exposed to the sun, and to the drudgery they are obliged to undergo, all the labours of the land devolving upon them. The cotton plant and indigo are cultivated to a considerable extent, and they manufacture the wool of their sheep into good cloth, which is bartered with the people of the coast for rum, tobacco, European cloth, and other articles. The medium of exchange throughout the interior is the kowry shell, the estimated value of which has been already given. Slaves, however, form the chief article of commerce with the coast. A prime slave at Jannah is worth, sterling money, from three to four pounds, according to the value set on the articles of barter. Domestic slaves are never sold, except for misconduct. His majesty was much astonished at learning that there are no slaves in England. Upon the whole, the Youribanies appeared to be a gentle and a kind people, affectionate to their wives and children, and to one another, and under a mild, although a despotic government.

Among the domestic animals of this country, there are horses of a very small breed, but these are scarce. The horned cattle are also small near the coast, but on approaching the capital, they are seen as large as those in England; many of them have humps on their shoulders, like those of Abyssinia. They have also sheep, both of the common species, and of the African kind; hogs, muscovy ducks, fowls, pigeons, and a few turkeys. "The people of Youriba," says Lander, "are not very delicate in the choice of their food; they eat frogs, monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, mice, and various other kinds of vermin. A fat dog will always fetch a better price than a goat. Locusts and black ants, just as they are able to take wing, are a great luxury. Caterpillars are also held in very high estimation, they are stewed and eaten with yams and tuah. Ants and locusts are fried in butter." This statement of Lander, as far as regards the dog, is somewhat at variance with the compliment paid to the Youribanies, for their treatment of that faithful animal.

The hyena and the leopard are said to be very common, and the lion is found in some parts, but monkeys were the only wild animals seen by the travellers.

Although Clapperton and Lander remained at Katunga from January 23rd to March 7th, and the mysterious Quorra was not more than thirty miles distant to the eastward, he was not able to prevail upon the king to allow him to visit it, but was always put off with some frivolous excuse, and in these excuses, the old gentleman appears to have been as cunning and as cautious as a Chinese mandarin; observing at one time that the road was not safe; at another, that the Fellatas had possession of the country, and what would the king of England say if any thing should happen to his guest. The greatest difficulty was experienced in getting away from Katunga, for his majesty could not or would not comprehend why he should be in any hurry to depart, and by way of an inducement, but which secretly might have a very opposite effect to that which was intended, Clapperton and Lander were both offered any wife they chose to select from his stock, and if one were not sufficient, five or six might be selected; for himself he had plenty, although he could not exactly tell their number, but if Clapperton would stop, the experiment should be tried, of how far they would reach hand to hand; even this gracious offer appeared to have no influence upon the obstinate disposition of Clapperton, he was determined to leave Katunga and reach Bornou before the rains set in, but the king was equally determined that he should not carry his project into execution, for, like all the other African princes, he seemed disposed to make a monopoly of the strangers who entered his territory. His majesty hinted that one journey was well and fully employed in seeing the kingdom of Youriba, and paying the required homage to its potent monarch.

It is curious how etiquette forms a part of every court, from a latitude of 52 deg. north, to one almost immediately under the equator, and it must be admitted that if a school of instruction were established at the former one, wherein the debutants might perfect themselves in their various gestures and attitudes, we should not behold such a number of awkward louts, and johnny raw's, as exhibit themselves at the levee room of the king of the Guelphs. In the capital of Eyeo, it is the custom of the court, for the monarch to hold a levee twice a day, at six in the morning, and two in the afternoon; rather hot work for the courtiers, perspiring in a temperature of about 120 deg.. The son of a Highland clansman, or of an Irish bogtrotter, is ushered into the presence of his sovereign with very little preliminary instruction; not so however with the more refined and polished court of Katunga. There, before the legitimate or illegitimate sons of royalty and nobility, or even of the plebeians are introduced to the king, they are required to wait upon the chief eunuch, a kind of African lord chamberlain, and before whom they are required to practise their prostrations and genuflexions, so as not to commit themselves in the presence of their august monarch. The finished courtier at the court of the Guelphs, is known by the grace with which he seizes the hand of royalty, to imprint upon it a slobbering kiss; and the caboceer at the court of Katunga, is known by the grace with which he covers himself with dust, and the intensity of his homage is estimated according to the quantity of the article which he throws over himself. It must have been a delectable treat for the Europeans to have been present at one of these academies of court etiquette, where the old and young were practising their prostrations before the ugly antiquated eunuch, and who hesitated not to give his pupils a kick, when any of them evinced an extraordinary awkwardness in their attitudes. During the whole of the time that the prostrations were practising, the attendants were dancing in a circle, with now and then the interlude of a minuet by one of the performers, in the course of which he would frequently throw a somerset, as expert as old Grimaldi, and all this under a burning tropical sun. These caboceers were dressed in robes of leopard skin, hung round with tassels and chains, and in a short time afterwards about twenty of them, in all their dirt and debasement, stretched at full length before the king, stripped to the waist, and vying with each other, which should have the most dust, and kiss the ground with the greatest fervour. When any one speaks to the king, it must be addressed to him through the eunuch, who is prostrated by the side of his master.

On the 7th March, the travellers resumed their journey into the interior, and retracing their steps to Tshow, reached at noon the next day, the town of Algi, which was just rising from its ruins after the Fellata, inroad of the preceding year. All the intermediate villages had shared the same fate. Algi, according to the information received, no longer belonged to Youriba, but to the sultan of Kiama. It comprised three small villages, and before it was burnt down had been of considerable size. These marauders have a singular mode of setting fire to walled towns, by fastening combustibles to the tails of pigeons, which, on being loosed, fly to the tops of the thatched houses, while the assailants keep up a sharp fire of arrows, to prevent the inhabitants from extinguishing the flames.

On the 11th, the travellers once more crossed the Moussa, which formerly divided the kingdoms of Youriba and Borgoo. It was now dry in a great many places, with a very rocky bed; when full, it is about thirty yards in breadth, and flows with a very strong current. On the other side, the road to Kiama lay through a flat country, thickly wooded with fine trees, and inhabited by large antelopes. These creatures are the most lively, graceful, and beautifully proportioned of the brute creation. Wherever known, they have attracted the attention and admiration of mankind from the earliest ages, and the beauty of their dark and lustrous eyes affords a frequent theme to the poetical imaginings of the eastern poets. The antelopes seen by Lander are by the Dutch called springbok, and inhabit the great plains of central Africa, and assemble in vast flocks during their migratory movements. These migrations, which are said to take place in their most numerous form only at the intervals of several years, appear to come from the north-east, and in masses of many thousands, devouring, like locusts, every green herb. The lion has been seen to migrate, and walk in the midst of the compressed phalanx, with only as much space between him and his victims as the fears of those immediately round could procure by pressing outwards. The foremost of these vast columns are fat, and the rear exceedingly lean, while the direction continues one way; but with the change of the monsoon, when they return towards the north, the rear become the leaders, fattening in their turn, and leaving the others to starve, and to be devoured by the numerous rapacious animals, who follow their march. At all times, when impelled by fear, either of the hunter or beasts of prey darting amongst the flocks, but principally when the herds are assembled in countless multitudes, so that an alarm cannot spread rapidly and open the means of flight, they are pressed against each other, and their anxiety to escape compels them to bound up in the air, showing at the same time the white spot on the croup, dilated by the effort, and closing again in their descent, and producing that beautiful effect from which they have obtained the name of the springer or springbok.

Early on the 13th, the travellers were met by an escort from the chief of Kiama, the capital of a district of the same name, and containing thirty thousand inhabitants. Kiama, Wawa, Niki, and Boussa are provinces composing the kingdom of Borgoo, all subject, in a certain sense, to the sovereign of Boussa; but the different cities plunder and make war on each other, without the slightest regard to the supreme authority. The people of Kiama and of Borgoo in general have the reputation of being the greatest thieves and robbers in all Africa, a character which nothing in their actual conduct appeared to confirm. The escort were mounted on beautiful horses, and forming as fine and wild a looking troop as the travellers had ever seen.

By sultan Yarro himself the travellers were well received. He was found seated at the porch of his door, dressed in a white tobe, with a red moorish cap on his head, attended by a mob of people, all lying prostrate, and talking to him in that posture. He shook hands with Captain Clapperton, and after telling him who he was, and where he wished to go, he said, "Very well; I have assigned a house for you; you had better go and rest from the fatigues of your journey; a proper supply of provisions shall be sent you." The travellers took their leave, and repaired to the house prepared for them, which consisted of three large huts inside a square; they had not been long there, when a present arrived from Yarro, consisting of milk, eggs, bananas, fried cheese, curds, and foofoo. The latter is the common food of both rich and poor in Youriba, and is of two kinds, white and black. The former is merely a paste made of boiled yams, formed into balls of about one pound each. The black is a more elaborate preparation from the flour of yams. In the evening, Yarro paid the travellers a visit. He came mounted on a beautiful red roan, attended by a number of armed men on horseback and on foot, and six young female slaves, naked as they were born, except a fillet of narrow white cloth tied round their heads, about six inches of the ends flying out behind, each carrying a light spear in the right hand. He was dressed in a red silk damask tobe, and booted. He dismounted and came into the house, attended by the six girls, who laid down their spears, and put a blue cloth round their waists, before they entered the door. After a short conference, in which he promised the travellers all the assistance they solicited, sultan Yarro mounted his horse; the young spear-women resumed their spears, laying aside the encumbrance of their aprons, and away they went, the most extraordinary cavalcade, which the travellers had ever witnessed. Their light form, the vivacity of their eyes, and the ease with which they appeared to fly over the ground, made these female pages appear something more than mortal, as they flew alongside of his horse, when he was galloping, and making his horse curvet and bound. A man with an immense bundle of spears remained behind, at a little distance, apparently to serve as a magazine for the girls to be supplied from, when their master had expended those they carried in their hands.

Here, as in other large towns, there were music and dancing the whole of the night. Men's wives and maidens all join in the song and dance, Mahommedans as well as pagans; female chastity was very little regarded.

Kiama is a straggling, ill-built town, of circular thatched huts, built, as well as the town-wall, of clay. It stands in latitude 9 deg. 37' 33" N., longitude 5 deg. 22' 56", and is one of the towns through which the Houssa and Bornou caravan passes in its way to Gonga, on the borders of Ashantee. Both the city and provinces are, as frequently happens in Africa, called after the chief Yarro, whose name signifies the boy. The inhabitants are pagans of an easy faith, never praying but when they are sick or in want of something, and cursing their object of worship as fancy serves. The Houssa slaves among them are Mahommedans, and are allowed to worship in their own way. It is enough to call a man a native of Borgoo, to designate him as a thief and a murderer.

Sultan Yarro was a most accommodating personage, he sent his principal queen to visit Captain Clapperton, but she had lost both her youth and her charms. Yarro then inquired of Captain Clapperton, if he would take his daughter for a wife; to which Clapperton answered in the affirmative, thanking the sultan at the same time for his most gracious present. On this, the old woman went out, and Clapperton followed with the king's head-man, Abubecker, to the house of the daughter, which consisted of several coozies, separate from those of the father, and was shown into a very clean one; a mat was spread, he sat down, and the lady coming in and kneeling down, Clapperton asked her, if she would live in his house, or if he should come and live with her; she answered, whatever way he wished, "Very well," replied Clapperton, "as you have the best house, I will come and live with you." The bargain was concluded, and the daughter of the sultan was, pro tempore, the wife of the gallant captain.

On the 18th, the travellers took their leave of sultan Yarro and his capital, and the fourth day reached Wawa, another territorial capital, built in the form of a square, and containing from eighteen to twenty thousand inhabitants. It is surrounded with a good high clay wall and dry ditch, and is one of the neatest, most compact, and best walled towns that had yet been seen. The streets are spacious and dry; the houses are of the coozie form, consisting of circular huts connected by a wall, opening into an interior area. The governor's house is surrounded with a clay wall, about thirty feet high, having large coozies, shady trees, and square towers inside. Unlike their neighbours of Kiama, they bear a good character for honesty, though not for sobriety or chastity, virtues wholly unknown at Wawa; but they are merry, good natured, and hospitable. They profess to be descended from the people of Nyffee and Houssa, but their language is a dialect of the Youribanee; their religion is a mongrel mahommedism grafted upon paganism. Their women are much better looking than those of Youriba, and the men are well made, but have a debauched look; in fact, Lander says, he never was in a place where drunkenness was so general. They appeared to have plenty of the necessaries of life, and a great many luxuries. Their fruits are limes, plantains, bananas, and several wild fruits; their vegetables, yams and calalow, a plant, the leaves of which are used in soup as cabbage; and their grain are dhourra and maize. Fish they procure in great quantities from the Quorra and its tributaries, chiefly a sort of cat-fish. Oxen are in great plenty, principally in the hands of the Fellatas, also sheep and goats, poultry, honey, and wax. Ivory and ostrich feathers, they said, were to be procured in great plenty, but there was no market for them.

It was at this place that Clapperton had nearly, though innocently, got into a scrape with the old governor by coquetting with a young and buxom widow, and, in fact, Lander himself experienced some difficulty in withstanding the amorous attack of this African beauty; for she acted upon the principle, that, as she could not succeed with the master, there was no obstacle existing that she knew of, to prevent her directing the battery of her fine black sparkling eyes against the servant.

"I had a visit," says Clapperton, "amongst the number, from the daughter of an Arab, who was very fair, called herself a white woman, was a rich widow, and wanted a white husband. She was said to be the richest person in Wawa, having the best house in the town, and a thousand slaves." She showed a particular regard for Richard Lander, who was younger and better-looking than Clapperton; but she had passed her twentieth year, was fat, and a perfect Turkish beauty, just like a huge walking water-butt. All her arts were, however, unavailing on the heart of Lander; she could not induce him to visit her at her house, although he had the permission of his master.

This gay widow appeared by no means disposed to waste any time by making regular approaches, like those by which widow Wadman undermined the outworks, and then the citadel of the unsuspecting uncle Toby, but she was determined at once to carry the object of her attack by storm.

The widow Zuma attempted in the first place to ingratiate herself with the Europeans, by sending them hot provisions every day in abundance, during their stay at Wawa. She calculated very justly, that gratitude is the parent of love, and therefore imagined that as the Europeans could not be otherwise than grateful to her, for the delicacies, with which she so liberally supplied them, it would soon follow as a natural consequence, that their hearts would overflow with love; at all events it was not to be supposed, that both master and man could remain callous to the potency of her corporeal charms. Finding, however, that the hearts of the Europeans were much like the rocks of her native land, perfectly impenetrable, she had recourse to another stratagem, which is generally attended with success. In the enlightened and civilized country of Europe, or at least in that part of it called England, it is by no means an obsolete custom, for an individual, who wishes to ingratiate himself with the object of his affections, to bestow a valuable present on the waiting woman or abigail, who is a great deal about her person, and the eulogiums which she then passes upon the absent lover, are great and exuberant in proportion to the extent of the bribe. A female, whoever she may be, whether a Middlesex virgin, or a Wawa widow, delights not only to have some one to whom she can speak of the object of her attachment, but who will be continually speaking to her of him, and as it appears that the female character is very nearly the same in the interior of Africa, as in the latitude of London, it is by no means a matter of surprise, that the amorous widow enlisted Pascoe, the black servant of Clapperton, in her cause, by offering him in the way of a bribe, a handsome female slave as a wife, if he would manage to bring about an interview at her own house, between either Clapperton or Lander, expressing herself at the same time not to be very particular as to which of the two this interview was obtained with. Clapperton it appears had greater confidence in himself than Lander could boast of, and the former considering himself proof against all the arts and fascinations of the widow, and wishing at the same time to see the interior arrangement of her house, he determined to pay her a visit. He found her house large, and full of male and female slaves, the males lying about the outer huts, the females more in the interior. In the centre of the huts was a square one, of large dimensions, surrounded by a verandah, with screens of matting all round, except in one place, where there was hung a tanned bullock's hide; to this spot he was led up, and on its being drawn on one side, he saw the lady sitting cross-legged on a small Turkey carpet, like one of our hearth-rugs, a large leathern cushion under her left knee; her goora pot, which was an old-fashioned pewter mug, by her side, and a calabash of water to wash her mouth out, as she alternately kept eating goora and chewing tobacco snuff, the custom with all ranks, male and female, who can procure them; on her right side lay a whip. At a little distance, squatted on the ground, sat a dwarfish, humpbacked female slave, with a wide mouth, but good eyes. She had no clothing on, with the exception of a profusion of strings of beads and coral round her neck and waist. This dwarfish personage served the purpose of a bell in our country, and what, it may be supposed, would in old times have been called a page. The lady herself was dressed in a white coarse muslin turban, her neck profusely decorated with necklaces of coral and gold chains, amongst which was one of rubies and gold beads; her eyebrows and eyelashes were blackened, her hair dyed with indigo, and her hands and feet with henna; around her body she had a fine striped silk and cotton country cloth, which came as high as her tremendous bosom, and reached as low as her ankles; in her right hand she held a fan made of stained grass, and of a square form. She desired Clapperton to sit down on the carpet beside her, an invitation which he accepted, and in an alluring manner she began to fan him, at the same time sending humpback to bring out her finery for him to look at, which consisted of four gold bracelets, two large paper dressing-cases with looking-glasses, and several strings of coral, silver rings, and bracelets, with a number of other trifling articles. After a number of compliments, and giving her favoured visitor an account of all her wealth, he was led through one apartment into another, cool, clean, and ornamented with pewter dishes and bright brass pans. She now entered into the history of her private life, commencing with bewailing the death of her husband, who had now been dead ten years, during all of which time she had mourned after him excessively. She had one son, the issue of her marriage, but he was much darker than herself. With a frankness perfectly commendable in an African widow, and wholly at variance with the hypocritical and counterfeit bashfulness of the English one, the widow Zuma at once exposed the situation of her heart, by declaring that she sincerely loved white men, and as her visitor belonged to that species, he saw himself at once the object of her affections, and the envy of all the aspiring young bachelors of the town, who had been for some time directing a vigorous attack against the widow's heart. The denouement of an English court-ship is frequently distinguished by an elopement; but although it was the last of Clapperton's thoughts to run away with such an unwieldy mass of human flesh, yet she very delicately proposed to him, that she would send for a malem, or man of learning, who should read the fetah to them, or, in other words, that no time whatever should be lost in endowing the widow Zuma with all claim, right, title, and privilege to be introduced at the court of Wawa, or any other court in Africa, or even at that time at the virtuous and formal court of queen Charlotte of England, as the spouse of Captain Clapperton, of the royal navy of Great Britain.

Clapperton was now convinced that the widow was beginning to carry the joke a little too far, for she assured him, that she should commence immediately to pack up all her property, and accompany him to his native country, assuring him, at the same time, that she felt within herself every requisite qualification to make him a good, active, and affectionate wife. Clapperton, however, was by no means disposed to enter so suddenly into a matrimonial speculation, and he began to look rather serious at the offer which was so unexpectedly, but so lovingly made to him. This being observed by the widow, she sent for her looking-glass, and after having taken a full examination of herself, in every position which the glass would allow her, she offered it to Clapperton, observing, that certainly she was a little older than he was, but that circumstance, in her opinion, should not operate as a bar to their matrimonial union. This was rather too much for Clapperton to endure, and, taking the first opportunity, he made his retreat with all possible expedition, determining never to come to such close quarters again with the amorous widow.

On his arrival at his residence, Clapperton could not refrain from laughing at his adventure with the African widow, and informed Lander, that he had now an opportunity of establishing himself for life; for although he had rejected the matrimonial advances of the widow, there was little doubt, that, rather than not obtain a husband, she would not hesitate to make the offer of her hand to any other white man, who might present himself. Lander, however, was still more averse from matrimony than his master, at least with the African beauty; and although a frequent invitation was sent to him, yet he very politely declined the acceptance of it, and therefore, as far as the Europeans were concerned, the widow remained without a husband.

Lander gives us no very flattering account of the character of the inhabitants. In the town of Wawa, which is supposed to contain 20,000 inhabitants, he does not believe the virtue of chastity to exist. Even the widow Zuma let out her female slaves for hire, like the rest of the people of the town. Drinking is the prevailing vice amongst all classes, nor is it confined to the male sex, for Clapperton was for three or four days pestered by the governor's daughter, who used to come several times during the day, painted and bedizened in the highest style of Wawa fashion, but she was always half tipsy. This lady, like the widow, had also a design upon the hearts of the Europeans. On some of these occasions, she expressed her extreme readiness to prolong her visit during the whole of the night, but Clapperton informed her, that at night he was employed in prayer, and looking at the stars, an occupation which she could not comprehend; and further he told her, that he never drank any thing stronger than wa-in-zafir, a name which they give to tea, literally, however, being hot water. Not being able to soften the obdurate heart of Clapperton, nor to wean him from the unsociable habit of looking at the stars at night, she always left him with a flood of tears.

In this part of Borgoo, as well as in the neighbourhood of Algi, and in all the countries between them and the sea, that Lander passed through, he met with tribes of Fellatas, nearly white, who are not moslem, but pagan. "They are certainly," he says, "the same people, as they speak the same language, and have the same features and colour, except those who have crossed with the negro. They are as fair as the lower class of Portuguese or Spaniards, lead a pastoral life, shifting from place to place as they find grass for their horned cattle, and live in temporary huts of reeds or long grass."

From Wawa there are two roads leading to the Fellata country, one by Youri, the other through Nyffee. The former was reported to be unsafe, the sultan of the country being out, fighting the Fellatas. The latter crosses the Quorra at Comie, and runs direct to Koolfu, in Nyffee. It was necessary, however, for Clapperton to proceed in the first instance to Boussa, to visit its sultan, to whom all this part of Borgoo is nominally subject. They were also particularly anxious to see the spot where Park and his companions perished, and, if possible, to recover their papers.

Leaving Wawa at daybreak on the 30th March, the travellers passed over a woody country, and at length entered a range of low rocky hills, composed of pudding stone. At the end of an opening in the range was a beautiful sugar loaf mountain, overlooking all the rest, and bearing from the village half a mile E. S. E. The name of Mount George was given to it by Clapperton. The valleys were cultivated with yams, corn, and maize; and on the same day the travellers arrived at Ingum, the first village belonging to Boussa, situated on the north-eastern side of the hills. At four hours from Ingum, they halted at a village of the Cumbrie or Cambric, an aboriginal race of kaffirs, inhabiting the woods on both sides of the river. About an hour further, they arrived at the ferry over the Menai, where it falls into another branch of the Quorra, and in about a quarter of an hour's ride from the opposite bank, they entered the western gate of Boussa. The walls, which appeared very extensive, were undergoing repair. Bands of male and female slaves, singing in chorus, accompanied by a band of drums and flutes, were passing to and from the river, to mix the clay they were building with. Every great man had his own part of the wall to build, like the Jews when they built the walls of Jerusalem, every one opposite to his own house.

Previous Part     1   2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse