This candid exposition, which Lander gives of his own character is fully borne out by our own personal observation. On no occasion do we remember that we ever saw a smile sit upon his countenance, and as to a laugh, it appeared to be an act which he dreaded to commit. He seemed always to be brooding over some great and commanding idea, which absorbed the whole of his mind, and which he felt a consciousness within him, that he had not the ability to carry into execution, at the same time that he feared to let a word escape him, which could give a clue to the subject, which was then working within him. In this respect, he was not well fitted for a traveller in a country where, if his nature would not allow him, it became a matter of policy, if not of necessity, to appear high-hearted and gay, and frequently to join in the amusements of the people amongst whom he might be residing. Lander himself was not ignorant of the Arab adage, "Beware of the man who never laughs;" and, therefore, as he was likely to be thrown amongst those very people, he ought to have practised himself in the art of laughing, so as not to rouse their suspicions, which, it is well known, if once roused, are not again easily allayed.
To return to the narrative, one of the fetishmen sent them a present of a duck, almost as large as an English goose; but as the fellow expected ten times its value in return, it was no great proof of the benevolence of his disposition. They were now obliged to station armed men around their house, for the purpose of protecting their goods from the rapacity of a multitude of thieves that infested this place, and who displayed the greatest cunning imaginable to ingratiate themselves with the travellers. On the following morning, they awoke unrefreshed at daybreak; the noise of children crying, the firing of guns, and the discordant sound of drums and horns, preventing them from enjoying the sweetness of repose, so infinitely desirable, after a long day spent in a routine or tiresome ceremony and etiquette.
On the 24th March, one of the chief messengers, who was a Houssa mallam, or priest, presented himself at the door of their house, followed by a large and handsome spotted sheep from his native country, whose neck was adorned with little bells, which made a pretty jingling noise. They were much prepossessed in this man's favour by the calmness and serenity of his countenance, and the modesty, or rather timidity of his manners. He was dressed in the Houssa costume, cap, tobe, trousers, and sandals. He wore four large silver rings on his thumb, and his left wrist was ornamented with a solid silver bracelet: this was the only individual, who had as yet visited them purely from disinterested motives, as all the others made a practice to beg whenever they favoured them with their company.
The chief's eldest son was with them during the greater part of this day. The manners of this young man were reserved, but respectful. He was a great admirer of the English, and had obtained a smattering of their language. Although his appearance was extremely boyish, he had already three wives, and was the father of two children. His front teeth were filed to a point, after the manner of the Logos people; but, notwithstanding this disadvantage, his features bore less marks of ferocity than they had observed in the countenance of any one of his countrymen, while his general deportment was infinitely more pleasing and humble than theirs. When asked whether, if it were in his power to do so, he would injure the travellers, or any European, who might hereafter visit Badagry, he made no reply, but silently approached their seat, and falling on his knees at their feet, he pressed Richard Lander with eagerness to his soft naked bosom, and affectionately kissed his hand. No language or expression could have been half so eloquent.
They were now preparing to proceed on their journey, when they learned with surprise and sorrow, that a part of the populace had expressed themselves decidedly hostile to their projects, and that the leaders were continually with Adooley, using all their influence, and exercising all their cunning, in order to awaken his slumbering jealousy. They endeavoured to persuade him to demand, before he granted them leave to pass through his country, a sum of money, which, they were aware, was not in the power of the travellers to pay; and therefore it was imagined they would be compelled to abandon the undertaking. The first intimation they received of the effect of these insinuations on the mind of the chief, was brought to them by a person, who pronounced himself to be "on their side." This man assured them, with an ominous visage, that Adooley had declared, in the hearing of all the people, that the coat which Richard Lander had given him was intended for a boy, and not a man; it was therefore unworthy his acceptance as a king, and he considered that by the gift, they meant to insult him. The coat alluded to by Adooley was certainly extremely old-fashioned, and belonged to a surgeon in the navy about twenty years ago, notwithstanding which, it was almost as good as new, and was made showy by the addition of a pair of tarnished gold epaulets. It was, however, clear to Lander, that as this very same coat had been, only two days before, received with great satisfaction, that some enemy of theirs had been striving to render the chief discontented and mistrustful. To counteract the efforts of the malicious, they judged it prudent to sound the dispositions of those, who they were inclined to believe, from the fondness which they evinced for their rum, that they were favourable to their intentions and devoted to their interests.
At this time, there were two mulattoes residing in the town, one of whom, by name Hooper, acted as interpreter to Adooley, and shared a good deal of his confidence. He was born at Cape Coast Castle, in 1780, and was for many years a soldier in the African corps. His father was an Englishman, and he boasted of being a British subject. He was excessively vain of his origin, yet he was the most confirmed drunkard alive, always getting intoxicated before breakfast, and remaining in a soaking state all day long. This did not, however, make him regardless of his own interest, to which, on the contrary, he was ever alive, and indeed sacrificed every other feeling. The other mulatto could read and write English tolerably well, having received his education at Sierra Leone; he was a slave to Adooley, and was almost as great a drunkard as Hooper. These drunken political advisers of the chief they had little difficulty in bribing over to their interests; they had likewise been tampering with several native chiefs, apparently with equal success. Unfortunately every one here styled himself a great and powerful man, and Hooper himself calls a host of ragged scoundrels "noblemen and gentlemen," each of whom he advised Lander to conciliate with presents, and especially spirituous liquors, in order to do away any evil impression they might secretly have received, and obtain their suffrages, though it should be at the expense of half the goods in their possession. There is hardly any knowing who is monarch here, or even what form of government prevails; independently of the king of kings himself, the redoubtable Adooley, four fellows assume the title of royalty, namely, the kings of Spanish-town, of Portuguese-town, of English-town, and of French-town, Badagry being divided into four districts, bearing the names of the European nations just mentioned.
Toward the evening, they received an invitation from the former of these chieftains, who by all accounts was originally the sole governor of the country, until his authority was wrested from him by a more powerful hand. He was then living in retirement, and subsisted by purchasing slaves, and selling them to Portuguese and Spanish traders. They found in him a meek and venerable old man, of respectable appearance. He was surrounded by a number of men and boys, his household slaves, who were all armed with pistols, daggers, muskets, cutlasses, swords, &c., the manufacture of various European countries. In the first place, he assured them, that nothing could give him more pleasure than to welcome them to Badagry, and he very much wondered that they had not visited him before. If they had a present to give him, he said, he would thank them; but if they had not, still he would thank them. A table was then brought out into the court before the house, on which decanters and glasses, with a burning liquor obtained from the Portuguese, were placed. In one corner of the yard was a little hut, not more than two feet in height, wherein had been placed a fetish figure, to preserve the chief from any danger or mischief, which their presence might otherwise have entailed upon him. A portion of the spirit was poured into one of the glasses, and from it emptied into each of the others, and then drunk by the attendant that had fetched it from the house. This is an old custom, introduced no doubt to prevent masters from being poisoned by the treachery of their slaves. As soon as the decanters had been emptied of their contents, other ardent spirits were introduced, but as Richard Lander imagined that fetish water had been mingled with it, they simply took a tea-spoonful into their mouths, and privately ejected it on the ground. The old chief promised to return their visit on the morrow, and lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven, like a child in the attitude of prayer, he invoked the Almighty to preserve and bless them; they then saluted him in the usual manner, and returned well pleased to their own habitation.
They were now most anxious to proceed on their journey, out the chief, Adooley, evaded their solicitations to depart, under the most frivolous and absurd pretences. He asserted that his principal reason for detaining them against their inclinations, was the apprehension he entertained for their safety, the road not being considered in a good state. Under this impression, he despatched a messenger to Jenna, to ascertain if the affairs of that country warranted him sending them thither. The old king of Jenna, who, it will be recollected, behaved so kindly to Captain Clapperton, was dead; his successor had been appointed, but he had not at that time arrived from Katunga. That being the case, there would not be any one at Jenna to receive them. Meantime, the rainy season was fast approaching, as was sufficiently announced by repeated showers and occasional tornadoes. They were also the more anxious to leave this abominable place, as they were informed that a sacrifice of no less than three hundred human beings, of both sexes and all ages, was shortly to take place, such as has been described in the second journey of Clapperton. They often heard the cries of many of these poor wretches, and the heart sickened with horror at the bare contemplation of such a scene as awaited them, should they remain much longer at Badagry.
Early on the morning of the 25th March, the house of the travellers was filled with visitors, and from that time to the evening they resigned themselves to a species of punishment, which cannot be characterized by any other terms than an earthly purgatory. After cracking fingers a hundred times, and grinning as often, they were informed, that the chief's messenger had returned from Jenna, but for some reason, which Lander could not define, the man was almost immediately sent back again, and they were told that they could not quit Badagry until he again made his appearance. It is the custom in this place, that when a man cannot pay his respects in person to another, he sends a servant with a sword or cane, in the same manner as a gentleman delivers his card in England. They this day received a number of compliments in this fashion, and it is almost superfluous to say that a cane or a sword was at all times a more welcome and agreeable visitor than its owner would have been.
They had scarcely finished their morning repast, when Hooper introduced himself for his accustomed glass of spirits, to prevent him, according to his own account, from getting sick. He took the opportunity of informing them, that it would be absolutely necessary to visit the noblemen, who had declared themselves on their side. As they strove to court popularity and conciliate the vagabonds by every means in their power, they approved of Hooper's counsel, and went in the first place, to the house of the late General Poser, which was at that time under the superintendence of his head man. Him they found squatting indolently on a mat, and several old people were holding a conversation with him. As the death of Poser was not generally known to the people, it being concealed from them, for fear of exciting a commotion in the town, he having been universally loved and respected they were not permitted even to mention his name, and the steward set them the example, by prudently confining his conversation to the necessity of making him a present proportionate to his expectations, and the dignity of his situation. Muskets and other warlike instruments were suspended from the sides of the apartment, and its ceiling was decorated with fetishes and Arab texts in profusion. Gin and water were produced, and partaken of with avidity by all present, more especially by the two mulattoes that had attended them, which being done, the head man wished the great spirit to prosper them in all their undertakings, and told them not to forget his present by any means. They shortly afterwards took their leave, and quitted the apartment with feelings of considerable satisfaction, for its confined air was so impure, that a longer stay, to say the least of it, would have been highly unpleasant. As it was, they had consumed so much time in Poser's house, that they found it necessary to alter their intention of visiting the other chiefs, and therefore resolved to pay their respects to Adooley, whom they had not seen for two days. Accordingly, they repaired immediately to his residence, and were welcomed to it with a much better grace, than on any previous occasion.
The chief was eating an undrest onion, and seated on an old table, dangling his legs underneath, with a vacant thoughtlessness of manner, which their abrupt intrusion somewhat dissipated. He informed them of his intention to send them on their journey on the day after to-morrow, when he expected that the people of Jenna would be in a suitable condition to receive them. He was full of good nature, and promised to make Richard Lander a present of a horse, which he had brought with him from Sockatoo on the former expedition, adding, that he would sell another to John Lander. So far, their visit was attended with satisfaction, but it was rather destroyed by Adooley informing them that it was his particular wish to examine the goods, which they intended to take with them into the bush, as the enclosed country is called, in order that he might satisfy himself that there were no objectionable articles amongst them. Having expressed their thanks to Adooley for his well-timed present, and agreed to the examination of their baggage, they all partook of a little spirit and water, which soon made them the best friends in the universe. During this palaver, the chief's sister and two of his wives were ogling at the travellers, and giggling with all the playfulness of the most finished coquette, until the approach of the chief of the English-town and the remainder of the travellers' party put a sudden stop to their entertainment, on which they presently left the apartment. These men came to settle a domestic quarrel, which was soon decided by the chief, who, after receiving the usual salutation of dropping on the knees with the face to the earth, chatted and laughed immoderately; this was considered by the travellers as a happy omen. In that country, very little ceremony is observed by the meanest of the people towards their sovereign, they converse with him with as little reserve, as if he were no better than themselves, while he pays as much attention to their complaints, as to those of the principal people of the country. An African king is therefore of some use, but there are kings in other parts of the world, of whose use it would be a very difficult matter to find any traces, and who know as much of the complaints or grievances of their subjects, as of the nucleus of the earth. Nor was king Adooley supposed to be entirely destitute of the virtues of hospitality, for it was observed that the remainder of his onion was divided equally amongst the chiefs, who had come to visit him, and was received by them with marks of the highest satisfaction.
In the afternoon, a herald proclaimed the approach to the habitation of the venerable chief of Spanish-town, with a long suite of thirty followers. The old man's dress was very simple, consisting only of a cap and turban, with a large piece of Manchester cotton flung over his right shoulder, and held under his left arm. This is infinitely more graceful and becoming in the natives, than the most showy European apparel, in any variety of which, indeed, they generally look highly ridiculous. After they had made the chief and all his attendants nearly tipsy, the former began to be very talkative and amusing, continuing to chat without interruption for a considerable time, not omitting to whisper occasionally to the interpreter, by no means to forget, after his departure, to remind the travellers of the present they had promised him, it being considered the height of rudeness to mention any thing of the kind aloud in his presence. The rum had operated so cheerily upon his followers in the yard, that fat and lean, old and young, all commenced dancing, and continued performing the most laughable antics, till they were no longer able to stand. It amused the travellers infinitely to observe these creatures, with their old solemn placid-looking chief at their head, staggering out at the door way; they were in truth, but too happy to get rid of them at so cheap a rate. Hooper shortly afterwards came with a petition from twelve gentlemen of English-town, for the sum of a hundred and twenty dollars to be divided amongst them, and having no resource, they were compelled to submit to the demand of these rapacious scoundrels.
Late in the evening, they received the threatened visit from Adooley, who came to examine the contents of the boxes. He was borne in a hammock by two men, and was dressed in an English linen shirt, a Spanish cloak or mantle, with a cap, turban and sandals; his attendants were three half-dressed little boys, who, one by one, placed themselves at their master's feet, as they were in the regular habit of doing; one of them carried a long sword, another a pistol, and a third a kind of knapsack, filled with tobacco. The chief was presented with brandy, equal in strength to spirits of wine, and he swallowed a large quantity of it with exquisite pleasure. The boys were permitted to drink a portion of the liquor every time that it was poured into a glass for Adooley, but, though it was so very strong, it produced no grimace, nor the slightest distortion of countenance in these little fellows. The fondness of the natives, or rather their passion for spirituous liquors is astonishing, and they are valued entirely in proportion to the intoxicating effects they occasion. Adooley smoked nearly all the while he remained in Lander's house. As each box was opened, however, he would take the pipe slowly from his mouth, as if perfectly heedless of what was going forward, and from the couch on which he was reclining, he regarded with intense curiosity each article, as it was held out to his observation. Every thing that in his opinion demanded a closer examination, or more properly speaking, every thing he took a fancy to, was put into his hands at his own request, but as it would be grossly impolite to return it after it had been soiled by his fingers, with the utmost nonchalance, the chief delivered it over to the care of his recumbent pages, who carefully secured it between their legs. Adooley's good taste could not of course be questioned, and it did not much surprise, though it grieved the Landers, to observe a large portion of almost every article in the boxes speedily passing through his hands into those of his juvenile minions. Nothing seemed unworthy of his acceptance, from a piece of fine scarlet cloth to a child's farthing whistle; indeed he appeared to be particularly pleased with the latter article, for he no sooner made it sound, than he put on a horrible grin of delight, and requested a couple of the instruments, that he might amuse himself with them in his leisure moments. Although he had received guns, ammunition, and a variety of goods, to the amount of nearly three hundred ounces of gold, reckoning each ounce to be worth two pounds sterling, yet he was so far from being satisfied, that he was continually grumbling forth his discontent. Gratitude, however, was unknown to him, as well as to his subjects. The more that was given them, the more pressing were their importunities for other favours; the very food that he ate, and the clothes that he wore, were begged in so fawning a tone and manner, as to create disgust and contempt at the first interview.
It was nearly midnight, before Adooley rose from his seat to depart, when he very ceremoniously took his leave, with broad cloth and cottons, pipes, snuff-boxes, and knives, paper, ink, whistles, &c., and even some of the books of the travellers, not a line of which he could comprehend; so avaricious was this king of Badagry.
They rose early on the morning of the 26th, for the purpose of arranging some trifling matters and taking their breakfast in quietness and comfort; but they had scarcely sitten down, when their half-naked grinning acquaintance entered to pay them the compliments of the day. Notwithstanding their chagrin, so ludicrous were the perpetual bowing and scraping of these their friends, in imitation of Europeans, that they could not forbear laughing in good earnest. Their rum, which had been kindly supplied them by Lieutenant Matson, they were happy to find was nearly all consumed, and the number of their general visitors had diminished in exact proportion to the decrease of the spirit, so that they were now beginning to feel the enjoyment of an hour or two's quiet in the course of the day, which was a luxury they could hardly have anticipated. The chief sent his son to them, requesting a few needles and some small shot; they could ill spare the latter, but it would have been impolitic to have refused his urgent solicitations, whatever might have been their tendency.
The horses promised by Adooley were now sent for them to examine. They appeared strong and in good condition, and if they played them no wicked pranks in "the bush," no doubt they would be found eminently serviceable.
In the evening, Poser's headman, who, it was understood, was one of the chiefs first captains, returned their visit of the preceding day, followed by a multitude of friends and retainers. He had been determined, it was believed, before he left home, to be in an ill humour with the travellers, and perhaps he had treated himself with an extra dram upon the occasion. This great bully introduced himself into their dwelling; his huge round face, inflamed with scorn, anger, and "potations deep." He drank with more avidity than his countrymen, but the liquor produced no good impression upon him, serving rather to increase his dissatisfaction and choler. He asked for every thing which he saw, and when they had gratified him to the best of their power, he began to be very abusive and noisy. He said he was convinced that they had come into the country with no good intentions, and accused them of deceit and insincerity in their professions, or, in plainer terms, that they had been guilty of a direct falsehood, in stating that they had no other motive for undertaking the journey than to recover the papers of Mr. Park at Youri. He was assured that they were afraid to tell the true reasons for leaving their own country. They withstood his invectives with tolerable composure, and the disgraceful old fellow left them in a pet, about half an hour after his arrival.
John Lander, we find, on referring to this part of their journey says, "It is really a discouraging reflection, that, notwithstanding the sacrifices we have made of all private feeling and personal comfort, for the purpose of conciliating the good opinion of the people here; the constant fatigue and inconvenience to which we have been subjected; the little arts we have practised; the forced laughter; the unnatural grin: the never-ending shaking of hands, &c. &c., besides the dismal noises and unsavoury smells to which our organs have been exposed, still, after all, some scoundrels are to be found hardened against us by hatred and prejudice, and so ungrateful for all our gifts and attentions, as to take a delight in poisoning the minds of the people against us, by publicly asserting that we are English spies, and make use of other inventions equally false and malicious. Pitiable, indeed, must be the lot of that man, who is obliged to drag on a year of existence in so miserable a place as this. Nevertheless we are in health and spirits, and perhaps feel a secret pride in being able to subdue our rising dissatisfaction, and in overcoming difficulties, which at a first glance seemed to be insurmountable. By the blessing of Heaven, we shall proceed prosperously in our undertaking; for in the divine goodness do we alone repose all our confidence and hopes of success. We may say that pleasure and enjoyment have accompanied us hither. The clearness of the sky is pleasant, and its brilliancy, the softness of the moon, the twinkling brightness of the stars, and the silence of night, the warbling and the flight of birds, the hum of insects, and the varied and luxuriant aspect of beautiful nature, are all charming to us; and what on earth can be more soothing and delightful than the thoughts of home and kindred, and anticipations of a holier and more glorious existence; these are true pleasures, of which the barbarians cannot deprive us."
So writes John Lander, in the enthusiasm of his imagination; but unfortunately the reality did not come up to the picture which his fancy had drawn; for although the softness of the moon, and the silence of night, and the brightness of the stars, might be all very pleasant objects, even under an equatorial sun, yet the following account of some of the disagreeables, when taken in contrast, rather tends to overbalance the sum of the agreeables. Thus we find, that on the day subsequent to that on which John Lander had written his rhapsody on the agreeables of Badagry, the noise and jargon of their guests pursued them even in their sleep, and their dreams were disturbed by fancied palavers, which were more unpleasant and vexatious, if possible, in their effects than real ones. Early on the morning of the 25th, they were roused from one of these painful slumbers to listen to the dismal yell of the hyenas, the shrill crowing of cocks, the hum of night flies and mosquitoes, and the hoarse croaking of frogs, together with the chirping of myriads of crickets and other insects, which resounded through the air, as though it had been pierced with a thousand whistles. The silence of night, under these circumstances, could not have been very pleasant to them, and it scarcely amounts to a question, whether the warbling of the birds could afford any great delight, if the hyenas and the mosquitoes, and the frogs and the crickets considered themselves privileged to make up the chorus.
The sun had scarcely risen, when two Mahommedans arrived at their house, with an invitation for them to accompany them to the spot selected for the performance of their religious rites and observances. This being a novelty, they embraced the proposal with pleasure, and followed the men to the distance of about a mile from their house. Here they observed a number of Mahommedans sitting in detached groups, actively employed in the duties of lustration and ablution. It was a bare space of ground, edged with trees, and covered with sand. The Mussulmans were obliged to bring water with them in calabashes. Seated in a convenient situation, under the spreading branches of a myrtle tree, the two travellers could observe, without being seen, all the actions of the Mussulmans. A number of boys, however, soon intruded themselves upon their privacy; and, in truth, they were more amused by the artlessness and playfulness of their manners, than with all the grave and stupid mummery of the Mahommedan worshippers. Groups of people were continually arriving at the spot, and these were welcomed by an occasional flourish of music from a native clarionet, &c. They were clad in all their finery, their apparel being as gaudy as it was various. The coup d'oeil presented by no means an uninteresting spectacle. Loose tobes, with caps and turbans striped and plain, red, blue, and black, were not unpleasantly contrasted with the original native costume of figured cotton, thrown loosely over the shoulders, and immense rush hats. Manchester cottons, of the most glaring patterns, were conspicuous amongst the crowd; but these were cast in the shade by scarfs of green silk, ornamented with leaves and flowers of gold, and aprons covered with silver spangles. Very young children appeared bending under the weight of clothes and ornaments, whilst boys of maturer years carried a variety of offensive weapons. The Turkish scimitar, the French sabre, the Portuguese dagger confined in a silver case, all gleamed brightly, and heavy cutlasses, with rude native knives, were likewise exhibited, half-devoured by cankering rust. Clumsy muskets and fowling-pieces, as well as Arab pistole, were also handled with delight by the joyful Mussulmans. In number the religionists were about a hundred and fifty. Not long after the arrival of the two brothers, they formed themselves into six lines, and having laid aside many of their superfluous ornaments, and a portion of their clothing, they put on the most sedate countenance, and commenced their devotional exercises in a spirit of seriousness and apparent fervour, worthy of a better place and a more amiable creed. In the exterior forms of their religion, at least, the Mussulmans are here complete adepts, as this spectacle was well calculated to convince the two Europeans, and the little which they had hitherto seen of them, led them to form a very favourable opinion of their general temperance and sobriety. The ceremony was no sooner concluded, than muskets, carbines, and pistols were discharged on all sides. The clarionet again struck up a note of joy, and was supported by long Arab drums, strings of bells, and a solitary kettle-drum. The musicians, like the ancient minstrels of Europe, were encouraged by trifling presents from the more charitable of the multitude. All seemed cheerful and happy, and, on leaving the Landers, several out of compliment, it was supposed, discharged their pieces at their heels, and were evidently delighted with themselves, with the two English, and the whole world.
In the path, the Landers met a fellow approaching the scene of innocent dissipation, clothed most fantastically in a flannel dress and riding on the back, on what they were informed was a wooden horse. He was surrounded by natives of all ages, who were laughing most extravagantly at the unnatural capering of the thing, and admiring the ingenuity of the contrivance. The figure itself was entirely concealed with cloths, which rendered it impossible to discover by what agency it was moved. Its head was covered with red cloth, and a pair of sheep's ears answered the purpose for which they were intended tolerably well. Yet, on the whole, though it was easy to perceive that a horse was intended to be represented by it, the figure was executed clumsily enough. As soon as this party had joined the individuals assembled near the place of worship, a startling shriek of laughter testified the tumultuous joy of the wondering multitude. The sun shone out resplendently on the happy groups of fancifully dressed persons, whose showy, various-coloured garments, and sooty skin, contrasted with the picturesque and lovely appearance of the scenery, produced an unspeakably charming effect. The foliage exhibited every variety and tint of green, from the sombre shade of the melancholy yew, to the lively verdure of the poplar and young oak. "For myself," says John Lander, "I was delighted with the agreeable ramble, and imagined that I could distinguish from the notes of the songsters of the grove, the swelling strains of the English skylark and thrush, with the more gentle warbling of the finch and linnet. It was indeed a brilliant morning, teeming with life and beauty, and recalled to my memory a thousand affecting associations of sanguine boyhood, when I was thoughtless and happy. The barbarians around me were all cheerful and full of joy. I have heard that like sorrow, joy is contagious, and I believe that it is, for it inspired me with a similar gentle feeling."
"The 27th March in this place, is what May-day is in many country places in England, and it strongly reminded us of it. But here unfortunately there are no white faces to enliven us, and a want of the lovely complexion of our beautiful countrywomen, tinged with 'its celestial red,' is severely felt; and so is the total absence here of that golden chain of kindness, which links them to the ruder associates of their festive enjoyments. By and by, doubtless, familiarity with black faces will reconcile me to them, but at present I am compelled to own, that I cannot help feeling a considerable share of aversion towards their jetty complexions, in common I believe with most strangers that visit this place."
Owing to the holiday, which is equally prized and enjoyed by Mahommedan and pagan, their visitors on this day have been almost exclusively confined to a party of Houssa mallams, who entered their dwelling in the forenoon, perfumed all over with musk, more for the purpose of gratifying their vanity by displaying their finery before them, than of paying the travellers the compliment of the day, which was avowedly the sole object of their intrusion. One or two of them were masticating the goora nut, and others had their lips, teeth, and finger nails stained red. Each of the mallams was attended by a well-dressed little boy of agreeable countenance, who acted as page to his master, and was his protege. Neither of the men would eat or drink with those who they came to visit, yet whilst they were in their company, they seemed cheerful and good humoured, and were communicative and highly intelligent. In answer to the questions put to them, they; were informed that two rivers enter the Quorra, or great river of Funda, one of which is called the Coodonie, and the other the Tshadda, (from the lake Tshad); that a schooner might sail from Bornou to Fundah, on the latter river, without difficulty; that Funda is only twenty-four hours pull from Benin, and twenty-nine days' journey from Bornou. At the close of a long and to the travellers rather an interesting conversation, their visitors expressed themselves highly gratified with their reception, and left the hut to repair to their own habitations.
These men, though slaves to Adooley, are very respectable, and are never called upon by their master, except when required to go to war, supporting themselves by trading for slaves, which they sell to Europeans. They wore decent nouffie tobes, (qu Nyffee,) Arab red caps, and Houssa sandals. The mallams, both in their manners and conversation, are infinitely superior to the ungentle, and malignant natives of Badagry.
March 28th fell on a Sunday, and luckily for the travellers, the inhabitants of the place considered it as a holiday, and their singing, dancing, and savage jollity possessed greater charms for them than an empty rum cask, though backed by two white faces. With a trifling exception or so, they were in consequence unmolested by their visitors of the everlasting grin and unwearied tongue during the day. This happy circumstance afforded them an opportunity, and ample leisure for spending the Sabbath in a manner most agreeable to their feelings; by devoting the greater part of it to the impressive duties of their divine religion, in humbling themselves before the mercy seat of the great Author of their being, and imploring him to be their refuge and guardian, to shield them from every danger, and to render their undertakings hopeful and prosperous.
As yet no crime of any peculiar atrocity had been committed, to impress the travellers with an unfavourable opinion of the moral character of the people amongst whom they were then residing, but on this evening of the Sabbath, a Fantee was robbed of his effects, and stabbed by an assassin below the ribs, so that his life was despaired of. The most unlucky part, however, of this tragical affair to Richard Lander, was, that the natives, from some cause, which he could not divine, had imbibed the conceit that he was skilled in surgery. In vain, he protested that he knew nothing of the anatomy of the human frame—there were many present, who knew far better than he did himself, and therefore, nolens volens, he was obliged to visit the patient. It was certainly the first time that Richard Lander had been called in to exercise his surgical skill, and it must be admitted that in one sense, he was well adapted for the character of a bone-setter, or other offices for which the gentlemen of the lancet are notorious. This trait in his character consisted in a gravity of countenance well befitting the individual, who presents himself to his anxious patient, to pronounce the great question of life and death, and the greater the ignorance of the individual, the deeper and more solemn is the countenance, which he assumes. If Richard Lander had been in the least inclined to a risible disposition, perhaps no occasion was more likely to call it into action, than when he saw himself followed by two or three hundred savages, under an imputation of possessing the power of curing an individual, who had been stabbed nearly to the heart, when at the same time, he knew as much of the art of stopping an haemorrhage, as he did of the art of delivering one of the queens of Badagry of an heir to "the golden stool." Fortunately, however, for the new debutant in the medical profession, the victim of the assassin had died a few minutes before the English doctor arrived, and right glad he was, for had he found his patient alive, and he had afterwards died, no doubt whatever rested on his mind, that his death would be attributed to the want of skill on the part of his medical attendant, who, by way of reward for his interference, would have run no small risk of being buried in the same grave as the individual, whose life he had sacrificed to his ignorance and want of skill. From this dilemma he was fortunately relieved, but he had scarcely returned to his habitation, than he was called upon to attend a fetish, or a religious rite, that was to be performed over the remains of a native, who had been found dead, but who was in perfect health a few hours before. This kind of coroner's inquest appeared most strange to the travellers, when it was well known to them that the king of Badagry, so far from following the example of other kings, who are so extremely anxious about the life of their subjects, often amuses himself with chopping off two or three hundred heads of his subjects, in order that the path to his apartments may be paved with their skulls; and should there not be quite a sufficient number to complete the job, the deficiency is made up with the same indifference, as a schoolboy strikes off the heads of the poppies in the corn fields. The ceremony observed at this fetish, had a great resemblance to an Irish wake; and could the mourners have been able to obtain the requisite supply of spirits, there is very little doubt that there would not have been a mourner present, who would not have exhibited himself in the state of the most beastly intoxication. The lament of the relatives of the deceased was doleful in the highest degree, and no sounds could be more dismally mournful than those shrieked forth by them on this occasion.
The Sabbath was nearly over, when a summons was received from Adooley, to repair to his residence, in order finally to settle the business relative to their journey into the interior, but they refused to have any disputes with him on the Sabbath, and therefore promised to wait on him the following morning. Accordingly after breakfast, they redeemed their pledge, by paying him the promised visit. Adooley received them with his accustomed politeness and gracious smile. He prefaced his wish by saying, that he wished to inform them of his intention, to detain them at Badagry a day or two longer, the "path" not being considered in a fit state for; travelling, rather than his reputation should suffer by leading them into danger, which would undoubtedly be the case, if he had not adopted his present resolution. Yet, he continued, they might depend upon his word as a king, that they should be at liberty to depart on the following Thursday at the latest. Now the Landers well knew that the country was never in a more peaceable or quiet state than at the moment he was speaking, and they were consequently mortified beyond measure, at the perpetual evasions and contradictions of this chief. They also regretted that the dry season was drawing fast to a close, and that then they would be obliged to travel in the rainy months.
Having made this declaration, Adooley requested them to write on paper in his presence, for a few things, which he wished to procure from Cape Coast Castle, or from England, as a return for the protection he had promised them. Amongst other articles enumerated were four regimental coats, such as are worn by the king of England, being for his own immediate wear, and forty less splendid than the king of England's, for his captains; two long brass guns, to run on swivels; fifty muskets; twenty barrels of gunpowder; four handsome swords, and forty cutlasses; to which were added, two puncheons of rum; a carpenter's chest of tools, with oils, paint and brushes; the king himself boasting that he was a blacksmith, carpenter, painter, and indeed every trade but a tailor. Independently of these trifles, as he termed them, he wished to Obtain half a dozen rockets, and a rocket gun, with a soldier from Cape Coast capable of undertaking the management of it; and lastly, he modestly ordered two puncheons of kowries to be sent him, for the purpose of defraying in part the expences, he had incurred in repelling the attacks of the men of Porto Novo, Atta, Juncullee; the tribes inhabiting those places having made war upon him, for allowing Captain Clapperton's last mission to proceed into the interior without their consent. They now asked jocosely, whether Adooley would be satisfied with these various articles, when, having considered for a few moments, and conversed aloud to a few of his chiefs, who were in the apartment at the time, he replied that he had forgotten to mention his want of a large umbrella, four casks of grape shot, and a barrel of flints, which having also inserted in the list, the letter was finally folded and sealed. It was then delivered into the hands of Adooley, who said that he should send it by Accra, one of his head men, to Cape Coast Castle, and that the man would wait there till all the articles should be procured for him. If that be the case, the Landers imagined that Accra would have a very long time to wait.
The interpreter of the Landers, old Hooper, having been suspected by the chief to be in their interest, a young man, named Tookwee, who understood a little English, was sent for, and commanded to remain during the whole conference, in order to detect any error that Hooper might make, and to see that every thing enumerated by the chief, should be written in the list of articles.
During this long and serious conversation, the Landers were highly amused with a singular kind of concert, which was formed by three little bells, which were fastened to the tails of the same number of cats by a long string, and made a jingling noise, whenever the animals thought proper to play off any of their antics. As an accompaniment to this singular kind of music, they were favoured with the strains of an organ, which instrument was turned by a little boy, placed purposely in a corner of the apartment.
In the afternoon, a young Jenna woman came to visit them, accompanied by a female friend from Houssa. Her hair was traced with such extraordinary neatness, that John Lander expressed a wish to examine it more minutely. The girl had never beheld such a thing as a white man before, and permission was granted with a great deal of coyness, mixed up perhaps with a small portion of fear, which was apparent as she was slowly untying her turban. No sooner, however, was the curiosity of the travellers gratified, than a demand of two hundred kowries was insisted on by her companion, that, it was alleged, being the price paid in the interior by the male sex to scrutinize a lady's hair. They were obliged to conform to the usual custom, at which the women expressed themselves highly delighted. The hair, which had excited the admiration of the travellers, was made up in the shape of a hussar's helmet, and very ingeniously traced on the top. Irregular figures were likewise braided on each side of the head, and a band of worked thread, dyed in indigo, encircled it below the natural hair, which seemed, by its tightness and closeness, to have been glued fast to the skin. This young Jenna woman was by far the most interesting, both in face and form, of any they had seen since their landing; and her prettiness was rendered more engaging by her retiring modesty and perfect artlessness of manner, which, whether observed in black or white, are sure to command the esteem and reverence of the other sex. Her eyelids were stained with a bluish-black powder, which is the same kind of substance, it is supposed, as that described in a note in Mr. Beckford's Vatheck. Her person was excessively clean, and her apparel flowing, neat, and graceful. Before taking leave, the girl's unworthy companion informed John Lander, that her protegee was married, but that as her husband was left behind at Jenna, she would prevail on her to visit the travellers in the evening after sunset. Of course they expressed their abhorrence of the proposal, and were really grieved to reflect, that, with so much meekness, innocence, modesty, and beauty, their timid friend should be exposed to the wiles of a crafty and wicked woman. On this occasion, John Lander says, "We have longed to discover a solitary virtue lingering amongst the natives of this place, but as yet our search has been ineffectual."
As a contrast to the youthful individual just described, an old withered woman entered their residence in the evening, and began professing the most unbounded affection for both the travellers. She had drank so much rum that she could scarcely stand. She first began to pay her attentions to John Lander, who, being the more sprightly of the two, she thought was the most likely to accede to her wishes; she happened, however, to be the owner of a most forbidding countenance, and four of her front teeth had disappeared from her upper jaw, which caused a singular and disagreeable indention of the upper lip. The travellers were disgusted with the appearance and hateful familiarity of this ancient hag, who had thus paid so ill a compliment to their vanity, and subsequently they forced her out of the yard without any ceremony.
The travellers now ascertained that the king would not allow them to go to Jenna by the nearest beaten path, on the plea, that, as sacred fetish land would lie in their way, they would die the moment in which they trod upon it.
The pleasant news was now received, that the king of Jenna had arrived at that town from Katunga. His messenger reached Badagry on the 30th March, and immediately paid a visit to the Landers, accompanied by a friend. They regaled him with a glass of rum, according to their general custom, the first mouthful of which he squirted from his own into the mouth of his associate, and vice versa. This was the first time they had witnessed this dirty and disgusting practice.
Adooley again sent for the travellers, he having recollected some articles, which were necessary to complete the cargo, which the king of England was to send him. To their great surprise, however, the first article that he demanded was nothing less than a gun-boat, with a hundred men from England, as a kind of body-guard; for his own private and immediate use, however, he demanded a few common tobacco-pipes. It was a very easy matter to give a bill for the gun-boat and the hundred men, neither of which, they well knew, would be duly honoured; for, before they could come back protested to king Adooley, the drawers of it knew they would be far beyond his power; and they had received such specimens of the extreme nobleness and generosity of his character, that they determined never to throw themselves in his power again. In regard, however, to the tobacco-pipes, they dared not part with them on any account, because, considering the long journey, they had before them, they were convinced they had nothing to spare; indeed it was their opinion, that the presents would be all exhausted long before the journey was completed, and this was in a great measure to be imputed to the rapacity of Adooley, when he examined their boxes. With the same facility that they could have written the order for the gun-boat and the hundred men, they now wrote a paper for forty ounces of gold, worth there about two pounds an ounce, to be distributed amongst the chief of the English-town and the rest of their partisans. Adooley had now summed up the measure of his demands; the travellers were most agreeably surprised by an assurance from him, that they should quit Badagry on the morrow, with the newly-arrived Jenna messenger. They accordingly adjusted all their little matters to the apparent satisfaction of all parties, nor could they help wishing, for the sake of their credit, that they might never meet such needy and importunate friends as pestered them during their residence at Badagry.
In regard to king Adooley, we have been furnished with some most interesting particulars respecting him, and some of his actions certainly exhibit a nobleness of character seldom to be found in the savage. His conduct towards the Landers was distinguished by the greatest rapacity and duplicity, whilst in his intercourse with his own immediate connexions, his actions cannot be surpassed by any of the great heroes of antiquity. He evinced in early youth an active and ingenious disposition, and an extraordinary fondness for mechanical employments and pursuits. This bias of Adooley soon attracted the attention and notice of his father, and this revered parent did all that his slender means afforded of cherishing it, and of encouraging him to persevere in his industrious habits. Whilst yet a boy, Adooley was a tolerable carpenter, smith, painter, and gunner. He soon won the admiration of his father, who displayed greater partiality and affection for him, than for either of his other children, and on his death nominated this favorite son his successor, to the exclusion of his first-born, which is against the laws of the country, the eldest son being invariably understood as the legitimate heir. For some time, however, after his decease, no notice was taken of the dying request of the Lagos chieftain; his eldest son ruled in his stead, notwithstanding his last injunction, and Adooley for a few years wisely submitted to his brother without murmuring or complaint. The young men at length quarrelled, and Adooley calling to remembrance the words and wishes of his father, rose up against the chief, whom he denounced an usurper, and vehemently called upon his friends to join him in disputing his authority, and endeavour to divest him of his power and consequence. All the slaves of his deceased parent, amongst whom were a great number of Houssa mallams; all who bore any personal dislike to the ruling chief, or were discontented with his form of government; those who preferred Adooley, and the discontented of all ranks, formed themselves into a strong body, and resolved to support the pretensions of their favourite. The brothers agreed to decide the quarrel by the sword, and having come to a general engagement, the partizans of the younger were completely routed, and fled with their leader before the victorious arms of the opposing party.
Fearing the result of this contest, Adooley, with a spirit of filial piety, which is not rare amongst savages, and is truly noble, dug out of the earth, wherein it had been deposited, the skull of his father, and took it along with him in his flight, in order that it might not be dishonoured in his absence, for he loved his father with extraordinary tenderness, and cherished his memory as dearly as his own life. The headless body of the venerable chief, like those of his ancestors, had been sent to Benin, in order that its bones might adorn the sacred temple at that place, agreeably to an ancient and respected custom, which has ever been religiously conformed to, and tenaciously held by the Lagos people. But Adooley displayed at the same time another beautiful trait of piety and filial tenderness. At the period of his defeat, he had an aged and infirm mother living, and her he determined to take with him, let the consequences be what they might. With his accustomed foresight, he had previously made a kind of cage or box, in case there should be a necessity for removing her. His father's skull having been disinterred and secured, he implored his mother to take immediate advantage of this cage, as the only means of escaping with life. She willingly acceded to her son's request, and was borne off on the shoulders of four slaves, to a village not far distant from Lagos, accompanied by Adooley and his fugitive train, where they imagined themselves secure from further molestation. In this opinion, however, they were deceived, for the more fortunate chief, suspicious of his brother's intentions, and dreading his influence, would not suffer him to remain long in peace, but drove him out soon after, and hunted him from place to place like a wild beast. In this manner, retreating from his brother, he at last reached the flourishing town of Badagry, and being quite wearied with his exertions and fatigues, and disheartened by his misfortunes, he set down his beloved mother on the grass, and began to weep by her side. The principal people of the town were well acquainted with his circumstances, and admiring the nobleness of his sentiments, they not only pitied him, but resolved to protect and befriend him to the last.
For this purpose they presently invited him to attend a council, which they had hastily formed. When in the midst of them, perceiving tears falling fast down his cheeks, they asked him why he wept so? "Foolish boy," said they, "wipe away those tears, for they are unworthy of you, and show yourself a man and a prince. From this moment we adopt you our chief, you shall lead us on to war, and we will fight against your brother, and either prevail over him or perish. Here your mother may dwell in safety, and here shall your father's skull be reverenced as it ought to be. Come then, lay aside your fears, and lead us on against your enemies."
These enemies were in the bush, and hovering near Badagry, when Adooley and his generous friends sallied out against them. The fighting or rather skirmishing lasted many days, and many people, it is said, were slain on both sides. But the advantage was decidedly in favour of the Badagrians, whose superior knowledge of the district and secret paths of the wood, was of considerable service to them, enabling them to lie in ambush, and attack their enemies by surprise. The Lagos people at length gave up the unequal contest in despair, and returned to their own country. Adooley was thus left in quiet possession of an important and influential town, which declared itself independent of Lagos for ever. Since then various unsuccessful attempts have been made to compel the Badagrians to return to their allegiance. The latter, however, have bravely defended their rights, and in consequence their independency has been acknowledged by the neighbouring tribes.
In the year 1829, the warlike chief of Lagos died, and Adooley considering it to be a favourable opportunity for his re-assertion of his claims to the vacant "stool," as it is called, determined to do so, and assembled his faithful Badagrians for the purpose of making an attack on his native town. He imagined that as his brother was dead, he should experience little opposition from his countrymen; but he soon discovered that he had formed an erroneous opinion, for almost at his very outset, he met with a stout resistance. His brother had left an infant son, and him the people declared to be his legitimate heir, and unanimously resolved to support him.
The sanguine invaders were repulsed, and entirely defeated, notwithstanding their tried bravery and utter contempt of danger; and were forced to return home in confusion without having accomplished any thing. In this unfortunate expedition Bombanee and all the principal warriors were slain. A similar attempt has been made on Lagos more than once, and with a similar result. On the arrival of the Landers at Badagry, Adooley was but just recovering from the effects of these various mortifications and other disasters; and singular enough, he had the artfulness, as has been previously noticed, of laying the whole blame of them to his having permitted the last African mission to pass through his territories, contrary to the wishes of his neighbours, and those, who were interested in the matter.
Justice is not unfrequently administered at Badagry by means of a large wooden cap, having three corners, which is placed on the head of the culprit at the period of his examination. This fantastic piece of mechanism, no doubt by the structure of internal springs, may be made to move and shake without any visible agent, on the same principle as the enchanted Turk, or any other figure in our puppet shows. It is believed that the native priests are alone in the secret. When the cap is observed to shake whilst on the head of a suspected person, he is condemned without any further evidence being required; but should it remain without any perceptible motion, his innocence is apparent and he is forthwith acquitted. The frame of this wonderful cap makes a great fuss in the town, and as many wonderful stories are told of it here, as were related in England, a century or two ago, of the famous brazen head of Roger Bacon.
A respectable man, the chief of French-town, was tried by the ordeal of the cap a short time since, for having, it was alleged, accepted a bribe of the Lagos chieftain to destroy Adooley by poison. The fatal cap was no sooner put upon his head than it was observed to move slightly and then to become more violently agitated. The criminal felt its motion, and was terrified to such a degree that he fell down in a swoon. On awakening, he confessed his guilt, and implored forgiveness, which was granted him by Adooley, because, it was said, of his sorrow and contrition, but really, no doubt, of his birth and connexions.
During the stay of the Landers at Badagry, the thermometer of Fahrenheit ranged between 86 deg. and 94 deg. in their hut, but being oftener stationary nearer the latter, than the former.
It was on Tuesday, the 31st March, that the Landers bade adieu to the chief of Badagry, and during the whole of that day they were employed packing up their things preparatory to their departure. They repaired to the banks of the river at sunset, expecting to find a canoe, which Adooley had promised should be sent there for their use; but having waited above two hours, and finding it had not arrived, they placed their goods in two smaller canoes, which were lying on the beach. These soon proved to be leaky, and as no other resource was at hand, they were fain to wait as patiently as they could for the canoe promised them. Every thing betrayed the lukewarmness and indifference of the chief, who had received so much from them, and who expected so much more, but they had answered his purpose, and therefore he took no further notice of them. In two more hours, Hooper made his appearance in Adooley's war canoe, which he had prevailed on him to lend them. This was placed directly between the two others, and their contents speedily transferred into it. It was between ten and eleven o'clock at night that they were fairly launched out into the body of the river. The canoe was above forty feet in length; it was propelled through the water by poles instead of paddles, and moved slowly and silently along. It was a clear and lovely night; the moon shone gloriously as a silver shield, and reflecting the starry firmament on the unruffled surface of the water, the real concave of heaven with its reflection seemed to form a perfect world. The scenery on the borders of the river appeared wild and striking, though not magnificent. In the delicious moonshine it was far from uninteresting: the banks were low and partially covered with stunted trees, but a slave factory and, a fetish hut were the only buildings which were observed on them. They could not help admiring at some distance ahead of their canoe, when the windings of the river would permit, a noble and solitary palm tree with its lofty branches bending over the water's edge; to them it was not unlike a majestical plume of feathers nodding over the head of a beautiful lady.
Proceeding about ten miles in a westerly direction, they suddenly turned up a branch joining the river from the northward, passing on the left the village of Bawie, at which Captain Clapperton landed. They saw several small islands covered with rank grass, interspersed in different parts of the river. They were inhabited by myriads of frogs, whose noise was more hoarse and stunning than ever proceeded from any rookery in Christendom. As they went up the river the canoe men spoke to their priests, who were invisible to them, in a most sepulchral tone of voice, and were answered in the same unearthly and doleful manner. These sounds formed their nocturnal serenade. Notwithstanding the novelty of their situation and the interest they took in the objects, which surrounded them, they were so overcome with fatigue, that they wrapped a flannel around them, and fell fast asleep.
The hard and uncomfortable couch, on which they had reposed the preceding night, made their bodies quite sore, and occasioned them to awake at a very early hour in the morning. At six o'clock A.M. they found themselves still upon the river, and their canoe gliding imperceptibly along. From half a mile in width, and in many places much more, the river had narrowed to about twenty paces; marine plants nearly covered its surface, and marsh miasmata, loaded with other vapours of the most noxious quality, ascended from its borders like a thick cloud. Its smell was peculiarly offensive. In about an hour afterwards, they arrived at the extremity of the river, into which flowed a stream of clear water. Here the canoe was dragged over a morass into a deep but narrow rivulet, so narrow indeed that it was barely possible for the canoe to float, without being entangled in the branches of a number of trees, which were shooting up out of the water. Shortly after, they found it to widen a little; the marine plants and shrubs disappeared altogether, and the boughs of beautiful trees, which hung over the banks, overshadowed them in their stead, forming an arch-like canopy, impervious to the rays of the sun. The river and the lesser stream abound with alligators and hippopotami, the wild ducks and a variety of other aquatic birds resorting to them in considerable numbers. In regard to the alligator, a singular fraud is committed by the natives of the coast, who collect the alligators' eggs in great numbers, and being in their size and make exactly resembling the eggs of the domestic fowl, they intermix them, and sell them at the markets as the genuine eggs of the fowls; thus many an epicure in that part of the world, who luxuriates over his egg at breakfast, fancying that it has been laid by some good wholesome hen, finds, to his mortification, that he has been masticating the egg of so obnoxious an animal as the alligator.
The trees and branches of the shrubs were inhabited by a colony of monkeys and parrots, making the most abominable chattering and noise, especially the former, who seemed to consider the travellers as direct intruders upon their legitimate domain, and who were to be deterred from any further progress by their menaces and hostile deportment. After passing rather an unpleasant, and in many instances an insalubrious night, the travellers landed, about half-past eight in the morning, in the sight of a great multitude, that had assembled to gaze at them.
Passing through a place, where a large fair or market is held, and where many thousands of people had congregated for the purpose of trade, they entered an extensive and romantic town, called Wow, which is situated in a valley. The majority of the inhabitants had never before had an opportunity of seeing white men, so that their curiosity, as may be supposed, was excessive. Two of the principal persons came out to meet them, preceded by men bearing large silk umbrellas, and another playing a horn, which produced such terrible sounds, that they were glad to take refuge, as soon as they could, in the chief's house. The apartment, into which they were introduced was furnished with a roof precisely like that of a common English barn inverted. In the middle of it, which reached to within a few inches of the floor, a large square hole had been made to admit air and water to a shrub that was growing directly under it. The most remarkable, if not the only ornament in the room, were a number of human jaw bones, hung upon the side of the wall, like a string of onions. After a form and ceremonious introduction, they were liberally regaled with water from a calabash, which is a compliment the natives pay all strangers, and then they were shown into a very small apartment. Here Richard Lander endeavoured to procure a little sleep having remained awake during the whole of the preceding night; but they were so annoyed by perpetual interruptions and intrusions, the firing of muskets, the garrulity of women, the unceasing squall of children, the drunken petition of men and boys, and a laugh, impossible to describe, but approximating more to the nature of a horse-laugh than any other, that it was found impossible to sleep for ten minutes together.
The market of this place is supplied abundantly with Indian corn, palm oil, &c., together with trona, and other articles brought hither from the borders of the Great Desert, through the medium of the wandering Arabs. According to the regulations of the fetish, neither a white man nor a horse is permitted to sleep at Wow during the night season: as to the regulations respecting the horses, they knew not what had become of them; they were, according to the orders of Adooley, to have preceded them to this place, but they had not then arrived. With respect to themselves, they found it necessary, in conformity to the orders of the fetish, to walk to a neighbouring village, and there to spend the night. Their course to Wow, through this creek, was north-by-east; and Badagry, by the route they came, was about thirty miles distant.
A violent thunder-storm, which on the coast is called a tornado, visited them this afternoon, and confined them to the "worst hut's worse room" till it had subsided, and the weather become finer. At three p.m. they sallied forth, and were presently saluted by hootings, groanings, and hallooings from a multitude of people of all ages, from a child to its grandmother, and they followed closely at their heels, as they went along, filling the air with their laughter and raillery. A merry-andrew at a country town in England, during the Whitsuntide holidays, never excited so great a stir as did the departure of the travellers from the town of Wow. But it is "a fool's day," and, no doubt, some allowance ought to be made for that. They had not proceeded more than a dozen paces from the outskirts of the town, when they were visited by a pelting shower, which wetted them to the skin in a moment. A gutter or hollow, misnamed a pathway, was soon overflowed, and they had to wade in it up to their knees in water, and through a most melancholy-looking forest, before they entered a village. It was called Sagba, and was about eight miles from Wow. They were dripping wet on their arrival, and the weather still continuing unpleasant, it was some time before any one made his appearance to invite them into a hut. At length the chief came out to welcome them to his village, and immediately introduced them into a long, narrow apartment, wherein they were to take up their quarters for the night. It was built of clay, and furnished with two apertures, to admit light and air into the room. One end was occupied by a number of noisy goats, whilst the travellers took possession of the other. Pascoe and his wife lay on mats at their feet, and a native Toby Philpot, with his ruddy cheek and jug of ale, belonging to the chief, separated them from the goats. The remainder of the suite of the travellers had nowhere whatever to sleep. The walls of their apartment were ornamented with strings of dry, rattling, human bones, written charms, or fetishes, sheep skins, and bows and arrows. They did not repose nearly so comfortably as could have been desired, owing to the swarms of mosquitoes and black ants, which treated them very despitefully till the morning.
Between six and seven on the morning of the 2nd April, they continued their route through woods and large open patches of ground, and at about eleven in the forenoon, they arrived at the borders of a deep glen, more wild, romantic, and picturesque than can be conceived. It was enclosed and overhung on all sides by trees of amazing height and dimensions, which hid it in deep shadow. Fancy might picture a spot so silent and solemn as this, as the abode of genii and fairies, every thing conducing to render it grand, melancholy, and venerable, and the glen wanted only a dilapidated castle, a rock with a cave in it, or something of the kind, to render it the most interesting place in the universe. There was, however, one sight more beautiful than all the rest, and that was the incredible number of butterflies fluttering about like a swarm of bees, and they had no doubt chosen this glen as a place of refuge against the fury of the elements. They were variegated by the most brilliant tints and colourings imaginable: the wings of some of them were of a shining green, edged and sprinkled with gold; others were of a sky-blue and silver, others of purple and gold a lightfully blending into each other, and the wings of some were like dark silk velvet, trimmed and braided with lace.
The appearance of the travelling party was romantic in the extreme, as they winded down the paths of the glen; with their grotesque clothing and arms, bundles, and fierce black countenances, they might have been mistaken for a strange band of ruffians of the most fearful character. Besides their own immediate party, they had hired twenty men of Adooley, to carry the luggage, as there are not any beasts of burthen in the country, the natives carrying all their burthens upon their heads, and some of them of greater weight than are seen carried by the Irishwomen from the London markets. Being all assembled at the bottom of the glen, they found that a long and dangerous bog or swamp filled with putrid water, and the decayed remains of vegetable substances intersected their path, and must necessarily be crossed. Boughs of trees had been thrown into the swamp by some good-natured people to assist travellers in the attempt, so that their men, furnishing themselves with long poles which they used as walking sticks, with much difficulty and exertion, succeeded in getting over, and fewer accidents occurred to them, than could have been supposed possible, from the nature of the swamp. John Lander was taken on the back of a large and powerful man of amazing strength. His brawny shoulders supported him, without any apparent fatigue on his part, and he carried him through bog and water, and even branches of tress, no bigger than a man's leg, rendered slippery with mud, in safety to the opposite side. Although he walked as fast and with as much ease as his companions, he did not set him down for twenty minutes; the swamp being, as nearly as they could guess, a full quarter of a mile in length. They then walked to a small village called Basha, whence, without stopping, they continued their journey, and about four in the afternoon, passed through another village somewhat larger than the former, which is called Soato. Here they found themselves so much exhausted with over fatigue and want of food, that they were compelled to sit down and rest awhile. The people, however, were a very uncourteous and clownish race, and teazed them so much with their rudeness and begging propensities, that they were glad to prosecute their journey to save themselves from any further importunities.
Having passed two other swamps, in the same manner as they had done before, they were completely tired, and could go no further, for they had been walking during the whole of the day in an intricate miserable path, sometimes exposed to the sun, and sometimes threading their way through a tangled wood. Some of the people were sent to the next town, to fetch the horses promised by Adooley, during the absence of whom, the two Landers reposed themselves under a grove of trees, which was in the neighbourhood of a body of stagnant water, in which women were bathing, who cast long side glances at the two white men, who were observing all their motions. It was a low, marshy, and unwholesome spot; and although a village was not many miles ahead, yet they were unable to walk to it. Under these circumstances, they had no other alternative than to rest there for the night, and they had made fires of dried wood and fallen leaves, and had prepared to repose for the night under a canopy of trees, and were in fact actually stretched at full length on the turf for that purpose, when they were agreeably surprised by the arrival of four of their men from the village with hammocks, for although sleeping in the open air, with Heaven for their canopy, in a dark wood, may be all very romantic and pretty in description, yet in reality nothing could be more disagreeable, for the crawling of ants, black worms, &c., over their faces was sufficient to dispel every delightful fancy, which might have been engendered in the brain. These hammocks were highly acceptable, and they were lifted into them with very grateful feelings. It was also exceedingly pleasant, after a long day's journey on foot, to be carried along so easily, and to see the parrots and other birds, with a number of grinning, chattering monkeys, capering from the lofty branches of the trees, and making the woods resound with their hideous screams.
After a charming journey of eight or ten miles, they entered the large and populous town of Bidjie, where the Landers first crossed Clapperton's route, and where Captain Pearse and Dr. Morrison fell sick on the last expedition. About a quarter of a mile from the town they were met by a fellow with a cow's horn, who, chiming in with a trumpeter, who had accompanied them from Wow, produced a harmony surpassing all that they had as yet heard. Two men followed the Bidjie musician with umbrellas of variegated silk, and, thus honoured and escorted, they were set down, amidst a crowd of people, in the centre of the town. As usual, the natives testified the wild delight they felt at the visit of the white men, by clapping of hands and loud shouts of laughter. In a short time, the noise of three or four drums was heard, which was an announcement that the chief was prepared to receive them, on which the multitude quitted them simultaneously, and rushed to the spot where he was sitting, and to which, they were also desired to proceed. The chief shook hands with them in great good humour; and they remarked with pleasure, or they fancied they did, that not only his laugh, but that of the people, was a more social and civilized kind of sound, than what of late they had been accustomed to hear. Nevertheless, when John Lander shook hands with the chief's son, which act was not very diverting in itself, the bystanders set up so general a roar of laughter, that the town rang with the noise; and when Lander ventured further to place his hand on his head, they were yet more amazingly pleased, and actually "shrieked like mandrakes torn out of the earth."
As soon as the ceremony of introduction was over, and the admiration of the people was confined within rational bounds, they wished the chief a pleasant night's rest, and were conducted into a comfortable airy hut, which had a verandah in front. The chief shortly afterwards sent them a goat for supper.
They were now in momentary expectation of hearing some account of their horses from Badagry, and indeed they waited the whole of the day at Bidjie for that purpose, and in order that the men with the luggage might have time to overtake them, for they had been hindered by the swamps and quagmires, which they themselves found so much difficulty in crossing. Just about sun-set, however, two fellows arrived from Badagry with the mortifying intelligence, that their horses would not remain on the water in canoes, but having upset one of them, and kicked out the bottom of another, had swam ashore and been led back to Badagry. They were fully convinced that this story was made up for the occasion, and thus by the bad faith of Adooley they were deprived of their horses. They had put themselves in a fever by walking a journey of two days in one, and were likely to walk the remainder of the way to Jenna in the glare and heat of the sun, for they had no umbrellas to screen themselves from his rays. Richard Lander paid eighty dollars for one of the horses, but Adooley forgot to return the coin, and likewise kept for his own use a couple of saddles which were purchased at Accra. Late in the evening the expected carriers arrived with the luggage, some of which had been wetted and damaged in the marshes. They were now informed that horses would be sent them on the following day from Jenna. During the greater part of the afternoon, Richard Lander amused himself in teaching the simple hearted chief to play on a child's penny Jews-harp, many of which they had brought with them as presents; but his proficiency, owing to a wonderfully capacious mouth, and teeth of extraordinary size, was not near so flattering as could have been wished. His people, however, who had assembled in extraordinary numbers, were of a different opinion, and when they heard their chief draw the first sound from the little instrument, "shouts of applause ran rattling to the skies."
A traveller in England, who enjoys the goodness of the roads, does not often murmur at the demands which are made upon his purse by the turnpike-keepers, but in Africa the frequency of the turnpikes on the road from Badagry to Bidjie, was a matter of some surprise to the Landers. Human beings carrying burthens are the only persons who pay the turnpikes, for as to a horse or a carriage passing through them, it would be a scene of the greatest wonder. The Landers, however, enjoyed the same privilege as the royal family of England, for being under the protection of the government, they as well as all their suite and baggage passed toll free.
On Sunday, April 4th, they arose at sunrise to make the necessary arrangements for leaving Bidjie, which was no easy task, and shortly after they sent to signify their intention to the chief. He expressed a desire to see them as soon as they could conveniently come, accordingly after breakfast, they repaired to his habitation, which was contiguous to their own. After being conducted through a number of yards and huts, inhabited only by goats and sheep, which were tethered to posts, and a number of tame pigeons, they perceived the object of their visit squatting on a leopard's skin, under a decent looking verandah. He was surrounded by his drummers, and other distinguished persons, who made room for the travellers as they drew near. But the chief arose as soon as he saw them, and beckoning them to follow him, they were ushered through a labyrinth of low huts, and still lower doors, till at last they entered the innermost apartment of the whole suite, and here they were requested to sit down and drink rum. The doors they had seen were covered with figures of men, which exactly resembled certain rude attempts at portraying the human body, which may still be observed in several old chapels and churches in the west of England. The chief informed them that they were at liberty to quit Bidjie, as soon as the heat of the sun should have somewhat abated, but previously to their departure he promised to return their visit. On leaving the place he followed them, though without their knowledge; but finding that they walked faster than he did, and that he could not keep pace with them, being a very bulky man, he hastily despatched a messenger to inform them that kings in Africa, whatever they may do elsewhere, always walk with a slow and measured step, and that the strides of the travellers being long and vulgar, he would thank them to lessen their speed, and stop awhile to enable him to come up with them, which was of course agreed to by the travellers with great good will. A few minutes afterwards he reached their house, dressed in a tobe of green silk damask, very rich and showy, and a skull cap made of purple and crimson velvet. With the exception of strings of white beads, which encircled his arms, he used no personal ornaments. He remained chattering with them for a long time.
Many of the women of Bidjie have the flesh on their foreheads risen in the shape of marbles, and their cheeks are similarly cut up deformed. The lobes of their ears are likewise pierced, and the holes made surprisingly large, for the insertion of pieces of and ivory into them, which is a prevailing fashion with all ranks.
The church service was read this morning agreeably to their general custom. The natives, of whose society they were never able to rid themselves, seemed to attach great awe and reverence to their form of worship, for they had made them understand what if they were going about, which induced them to pay a high degree of silent attention to the ceremony, and set at rest for the time, that peculiar continuous laugh by which they are distinguished from their neighbours. In the afternoon, or as the natives express it, when the sun had lost its strength, they departed from the town of Bidjie, accompanied by its good natured, happy governor, and in a very few minutes afterwards reached the banks of a rivulet called Yow. Butterflies were here more numerous than could be imagined, millions of them fluttered around them, and literally hid from their sight every thing but their own variegated and beautiful wings.
Here on the banks of the Yow they took a last farewell of the affectionate old chief, who implored the "Great God," to bless them, and as the canoes in which they had embarked moved from the spot, a loud long laugh, with clapping of hands from the lower classes, evinced the satisfaction they felt at having seen the white men, and their hearty wishes for their welfare.
The Yow is an extremely narrow rivulet, not more than a few feet in breadth, and flows in a serpentine direction through a flat country, covered with rushes, and tall, rank grass. Crocodiles are said to resort here in great numbers, indeed the low bark or growl of these rapacious animals was heard distinctly, and in some instances quite close to them; after they had been pushed along against the stream by poles for five or six miles, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon they landed at a narrow creek, which ran a little way into a thick and gloomy forest. They had not proceeded more than two hundred yards on the pathway, when they were met by a messenger from Jenna, who informed them that the owners of all the horses in the town, had ridden out to welcome their chief, and escort him to his residence, so that they should be obliged to walk the remainder of the way. A few minutes, however, only had elapsed before they descried a horse approaching them in the path, this was a goodly sight to them, who were already becoming wearied and sore with the exertions they had made during the day, for they did not reflect a moment that the animal might not after all be for their use. However, they soon met, and the rider immediately declared that he had left Jenna purposely on their account. The head of the horse was loaded with charms and fetishes, enveloped in pieces of red and blue cloth. His saddle was of Houssa manufacture, and uncommonly neat; in the interior such an article is only used by the principal people, and his bridle also was of curious workmanship. The horseman had an extravagant idea of his own consequence, and seemed to be a prodigious boaster. He wore abundance of clothing, most of which was superfluous, but it made him excessively vain. He informed the travellers that he had been despatched by the king of Jenna, to meet them in the path, and to escort them to the capital; but understanding that Adooley had supplied them with horses, he did not conceive it necessary to send others. The messenger, however, dismounted and offered them his horse, and the Landers agreed that they should ride him in turns. They therefore immediately proceeded, and traversed a rich and various country, abounding plentifully with wood and water. A fine red sand covered the pathway, which they found to be in much better condition than any they had before seen. Sometimes it winded through an open, level tract of fine grazing land, and then it again diverged through forests so thick and deep, that the light of the moon was unable to penetrate the gloom, and they were frequently left in comparatively midnight darkness. It is scarcely possible to give an adequate description of the magnificence, solemnity, and desolate repose of the awful solitudes through which they passed on this evening. They were, however, at times enlightened by the appearance of glow worms, which were so luminous that they could almost see to read by their golden splendour, and sometimes by the moonbeams, which trembled upon the leaves and branches of the trees. A fragrance also was exhaled from the forest, more odiferous than the perfume of violets or primroses, and they might almost fancy, when threading their way through scenery, which cannot be surpassed for beauty in any part of the world, that they were approaching those eternal shades, where, in ancient time, the souls of good men were supposed to wander. The woods rang with the song of the nightbirds, and the hum of the insects, which continued to salute them with little intermission till about ten o'clock at night, when they entered Laatoo, a large and pleasant town. Here they were informed that no house would be offered them, the fetish priest having declared that the moment a white man should enter the dwellings of the inhabitants, they would be seized by their enemies and enslaved. They arrived thirsty and exhausted, but for a long time could not procure even a drop of water. Their tent had been left on the road for want of carriers, and they had made up their minds to rest under a tree, when about two hours afterwards it was fortunately brought into the town. They fixed it immediately, and having succeeded in procuring some wood from the inhospitable inhabitants, they kindled a fire in front of it, and whilst their attendants laid themselves in groups outside, the Landers attempted to sleep within their tent, but it was in vain, so tormented were they with the mosquitoes and the ants.
Before sunrise, on the morning of the 5th of April, they were all on the alert, and struck their tent at a very early hour, they then sent the carriers onwards with the luggage and hastily left the town, without bidding adieu either to the chief or any of his people, on account of their inhospitality, and in an hour's time reached the extensive and important town of Larro. On dismounting, they were first led to a large cleanly swept square, wherein was preserved the fetish of the place, which is the model of a canoe, having three wooden figures with paddles in it. After waiting in the shade for an hour, surrounded by an immense multitude of people of all ages, the chief's approach was announced by a general rush from their quarters, to the other end of the square, where he was walking. They went towards him in order to pay him the accustomed salutation of shaking hands, &c., but one of his followers fancying that John Lander kept his master's hand clasped in his, longer than the occasion warranted, looked fiercely in his face, and snatched away his hand eagerly and roughly, without, however, uttering a word. "I could have pulled the fellow's ears with the greatest goodwill, in the world," says John Lander, "had not the fear of secret revenge deterred me. As it was, I smothered my rising choler, and with my brother quietly followed the chief, to his principal hut, under whose verandah we were served with goora nuts in a huge pewter platter."
Presently the chief squatted himself down on a handsome rush mat, of native manufacture, and they were desired to sit by him, on an elegant Turkey carpet, which had been laid there for the purpose. He was rather fancifully dressed; and wore two tobes, the one nearest the skin being of black silk velvet, and the other of crimson velvet, lined with sarsenet; his boots were of yellow leather, neatly worked, and his wrists were loaded with bracelets of silver and copper. The countenance of the chief betrayed much seriousness and solidity, and the diverting laugh of his countrymen was suspended by a sober cheerfulness. Many of his wives sat behind him in rows, some of whom were of a bright copper colour, indeed a great number of the inhabitants of Larro have fairer complexions than mulattoes. The yard of the hut was crammed full of curious and inquisitive people, who stood with open mouths during the audience. The chief wished to imprint strongly on their minds his own dignity and power; he said he was greater than the governor of Jenna, inasmuch as the latter was a slave to the king of Katunga, but himself was a free man. He would give them permission to depart to-morrow, he continued, and in the mean time would supply them with provisions. The chief was as good as his word, for shortly after they had quitted the hut they received a goat and some game, and he returned their visit in the cool of the evening. It appeared that it was not his general practice to drink spirituous liquors in presence of his people, as it may be against the law to do so, for having carefully excluded all prying eyes from their dwelling, and ordered a mat to be hung over the door-way, he even then turned his face to the wall, whenever he attempted to swallow the brandy that was offered to him. He remained with them rather better than an hour. On the presentation of the chief to them, a religious ceremony was performed, which was not observed in any other part of the country. A chapter from the Koran was repeated to him by a mahommedan priest, to which both he and his people seemed to pay great attention.
Public schools are established in the town of Larro, for the avowed purpose of teaching the rising generation the rudiments of the mahommedan religion.
A singular custom prevails in the town, of compelling children at the breast to swallow a quantity of cold water from a calabash. An infant was nearly choked on this morning by the injection of more than a pint of water down its throat. Whether the mothers follow this custom for the purpose of curing the children of any imaginary complaints, or, as is more probable, in the hope of rendering them less eager for their natural food, was not exactly to be ascertained.
The inhabitants possess horses, asses, and mules, though not in any considerable numbers, they have, however, great abundance of sheep and goats, which are bred in the town; and their yards and huts are the common place of resort for those animals, indeed they may be said to grow up and live with the children of their owners. The Landers amused themselves during the greater part of the day, in looking at the gambols of some very handsome goats, which had strayed into their abode, but the sheep were not near so tame or frolicsome, repelling all the advances towards a more familiar acquaintance, by timidity and ill nature. Shrimps and fish, which are caught in the streams in the vicinity of the town, are daily exposed for sale, and the inhabitants appear to be in possession of a greater share of the necessaries and comforts of life, than their neighbours of the sea coast.
They this day observed the country to be sensibly rising, and agriculture appeared to be conducted on a regular system, which was an evident proof of the active and industrious habits of the people.
The gloomy fastnesses and wildnesses of nature, such as they passed on the first day or two of their journey from Badagry, were less common as they advanced, and open glades with plantations of bananas, fields of yams and Indian corn, all neatly fenced, met their view from the path of yesterday as well as on the present day. The inhabitants of Larro also exhibit greater cleanliness of person and tidiness of apparel than the tribes nearer the sea-shore. Those pests also, the unfortunate beggars, entirely disappeared, for the inhabitants of Larro appeared to possess too much pride to beg.
It was at Larro that the two brothers began to feel the relaxing influence of the climate, but still their hearts were good, and they hoped, by the blessing of Heaven, that their progress through the country might not be impeded by sickness.
On Tuesday, April 6th, the sun had scarcely risen above the horizon, and the mists of the morning yet hung upon the hills, than they quitted the town of Larro, and pursued their journey on horseback. Three horsemen from Jenna followed them on the path, and they were enlivened by the wild jingling of their animals' bells, till they got within a mile of that town, where they alighted at a kind of turnpike, and fired a salute of two muskets. Here they were met by a number of fellows with horns, who blew on them with the accustomed energy of the natives; these men preceded them over a bridge, which was thrown across a moat that surrounds Jenna into the centre of the town, where they again alighted, and waited the chief's pleasure in an open shed. They had not been seated many seconds before an immense crowd of people pressed in upon them on every side, subjecting them to the accustomed inconvenience of want of air, strong unwholesome smells, and a confused hubbub, that defies description. Never were the people more eager to behold a white man; the little ones formed themselves into a ring close to the shed, then followed those of maturer age, after them came a still older class, and the last circle consisted of people as tall as steeples; most of whom held infants in their arms. Altogether a large amphitheatre was formed of black woolly heads, and white teeth set in jetty faces, and although the Landers felt rather amazed at their innocent curiosity, and were obliged to wait a considerable time for the new chief, they could not help being highly diverted with the spectacle around them; at length, to their great relief and joy, intelligence was brought that the chief was ready to receive them. It appears that the principles of etiquette at the royal courts, whether of Europe or of Africa, are not definitively settled, for that which at the court of a William the fourth, would be considered as the extreme of rudeness and disrespect, is at the African courts construed into the most decisive testimony of good breeding and politeness. It may be difficult to determine to which the preference ought to be given, but as etiquette is an essential in all courts, no matter how far it departs from common sense and reason, we do not see why, as amongst the many fooleries which are enacted at courts, the African system should not be introduced. It happens, however, that the etiquette of the European and African are decidedly dissimilar: to make an individual wait is certainly considered in the former, as a breach of good manners, whereas in the latter, the longer a person is made to wait before the introduction takes place, the greater is the honour done him, and the higher is the rank of that person supposed to be, who exacts that ungracious duty. They discovered the chief, or rather governor, sitting on a piece of leather, under a large verandah at one end of a commodious square yard. He was clad in the prevailing finery of crimson velvet tobe and cap, both edged with gold lace. At his right hand sat his wives and women, and the brothers were desired to place themselves on his loft. The women sang the praises of their master in a loud unpleasant voice, in which they were assisted by the music, equally inharmonious, of drums, fifes, clarionets, and horns. On their wishing the chief all the happiness in the world, all the people who had flocked into the yard after them, and every one near the chief, prostrated themselves on the ground, and clapped their hands. Goora nuts were now presented to them in water, and a profusion of compliments passed on both sides; but the dignity of the newly-made governor seemed to sit rather awkwardly upon him for he was as shy and bashful as a maiden, and really appeared agitated, and afraid of his white-faced visitants. Strange as it may appear, the patience of the most patient people in the world was completely exhausted, as might be seen by the desertion of the premises before the travellers quitted them, notwithstanding the few words that had passed between them and the chief. The ceremony being over, they bade adieu to the chief, and having visited the grave of Dr. Morrison on their way, they repaired to a hut which had been got ready for their reception.