The former governor of Jenna, who it will be recollected treated the gentlemen composing the last mission so handsomely, died about fifteen months before the arrival of the Landers, and the king of Youriba chose one of the meanest of his slaves as his successor. This appears, however, to be an invariable rule with the sovereigns of that country, of which Jenna is a province; for they fear as its distance from the capital is very great, that a person of higher rank, if possessed of talents and spirit, could easily influence the natives to throw off the yoke, and declare themselves independent of Youriba. The then governor was a Houssa man, and was raised to the dignity he then held, in all probability, on account of his childish simplicity, and artlessness, for a person with a countenance more indicative of innocence, and perhaps stupidity also, they never recollected to have seen. The qualities of his heart were, however, said to be excellent, and his manners were mild and amiable. He had been twelve months in coming from Katunga to Jenna; being under the necessity of stopping at every town between that place and the capital, to receive the applause and congratulations of the inhabitants, and to join in their festivities and amusements.
The showers were now becoming heavier, and fell more frequently than heretofore, indeed the rainy season may be said fairly to have commenced, the thermometer, on the 6th of April, fell suddenly from 94 deg. to 78", and remained stationary there for the whole of the day.
On the 7th April they carried a present to the governor, which he received with every mark of satisfaction and gratitude; but he declared with sorrow that he should be obliged to send some of it to the king of Katunga, who would not allow him to wear red cloth, till he had been a longer time established in his new situation.
It is related in Captain Clapperton's journal, that one of old Pascoe's wives eloped from him in Katunga, whilst he was asleep, taking with her the trinkets Mr. Belzoni had given him, and said that she was never afterwards heard of. This woman had the effrontery to introduce herself into the house of the Landers with an infant, whereof she asserted with warmth that Pascoe was the father, and that she was determined to leave it upon his hands. She had prevailed upon a number of Houssa women to accompany her, that they might endeavour to induce her quondam husband, who was a countryman of theirs, to receive the child, and make up the breach between them; but the infant not being more than nine or at most twelve months old, and three or four years having elapsed since the elopement took place, they were convinced that, independently of the age and infirmities of Pascoe, it could not by any rule or law be his. Accordingly, notwithstanding the uproar occasioned by the women's tongues, which, whether in Africa or elsewhere, is a very serious matter, the mother with her spurious offspring, and the ladies who came to aid and abet her imposition, were turned out of the yard without any ceremony, to the great relief of Pascoe, and his present wife, who felt rather uncomfortable, whilst the palaver was carrying on.
The fetish priest of the town came dancing into the hut, shortly after the ladies had retired, looking exceedingly wild, and roaring as if possessed by an evil spirit. They paid little attention to the fellow's fooleries, who, not liking his reception, left the hut, after he had received the accustomed fee of a few kowries. The person and dress of the man, together with his whimsical ornaments, were admirably adapted to impose on the credulity and superstition of the inhabitants; although many people of the town, influenced perhaps by the spreading doctrines of Mahomet, spoke their minds pretty freely, calling him a scoundrel and a devil. There was something peculiar in this priest's countenance, which could not be defined. On his shoulders he bore a large club, carved at one end with the figure of a man's head. A vast number of strings of kowries were suspended on this weapon, which were intermixed with shells, broken combs, small pieces of wood with rude imitations of men's faces cut on them, large sea-shells, bits of iron and brass, nut shells, &c. &c. Perhaps, the number of kosries on his person did not fall far short of twenty thousand, and the weight of his various ornaments almost pressed him to the ground. After this fellow had left their apartment, three or four others came to torment them with drums, whistles, and horns, and began and ended the evening's serenade to their own infinite delight and satisfaction. The native drum answers the purpose of a tambourine, and bagpipe as well, and is of peculiar formation. Its top is encircled with little brass bells, and is played upon with one hand, whilst the fingers of the other were employed at the same time in tapping on its surface. The instrument itself was held under the left arm, but instead of an outer wooden case, strings alone were used from end to end, which being pressed against the musician's side, sounds somewhat similar to those of a Scotch bagpipe, but very inferior, are produced. The drummers, with their companions of the horns and whistles, subsist entirely on the charity of the public, who require their services on all occasions of general merriment and jollity.
On the morning of the 8th of April, the two messengers who arrived at Badagry whilst the Landers were there, and stated that they had been employed for the purpose by the governor of Jenna, were discovered to be impostors, and put in irons accordingly. But as the poor fellows had really been of essential service to them, inasmuch as by their representations, they had prevailed upon Adooley to give them leave to proceed on their journey much sooner than they themselves could have done; they thought proper to intercede, in their behalf, and although they were to have been sold for their deception, they were set at liberty. The person also who had met them with a horse after crossing the river Yow near Bidjie, proceeded thither on his own account, without the knowledge or consent of the governor, but as he was a Fellata and a respectable man, little was said or done about that matter. The only motive, which could have influenced these three men in their projects of assisting the travellers, had been without doubt in the expectation of receiving a trifling remuneration, and of this, notwithstanding an injunction to the contrary from the governor, they did not disappoint them, their services were well timed and very acceptable, and amply deserved the reward of a few needles and scissors.
The travellers were this morning witnesses to a specimen of native tumbling and dancing, with the usual accompaniments of vocal and instrumental music; by far the most diverting part of the entertainment was the dancing, but even this did not at all answer the expectations they had formed of it. The dancers were liberally supplied with country beer, and like most amusements of the kind, this one ended in wrangling and intoxication.
The fellows who accompanied them as guides from Badagry, and who, in their native place would sell their birthright for a glass of rum, had now washed themselves, and thrown aside their rags, appearing in all public places in borrowed finery. They now never left their habitations without Adooley's sword, which they had with them, and a host of followers. On this morning, they attended the celebration of the games in showy apparel, with silk umbrellas held over their heads; and amongst other articles of dress, the principal of them wore an immense drab-coloured quaker's hat of the coarsest quality. So great were their ostentation and pride, that they would scarcely deign to speak to a poor man.
It was now they learned with great regret, that all the horses of the late governor of Jenna, had been interred according to custom with the corpse of their master, and they consequently began to be apprehensive that they should be obliged to walk the whole of the way to Katunga, as the present ruler was not the owner of a single beast of burthen. This piece of ill news was carefully withheld from the travellers, until the presents had been all duly delivered to the governor and his head men; but in this instance, the latter alone were to blame. Matters being thus unpleasantly situated, they sent a messenger to the chief of Larro, informing him of the circumstance, and entreating him to redeem his promise of lending them a horse and mule; and another messenger was sent to Adooley, requesting him to despatch immediately, at least one of their horses from Badagry, for they had found it impossible to proceed without them. It was not supposed that he would pay any attention to the request; and yet on the other hand, it was scarcely to be imagined that he would carry his chicanery so far, because he must fear that the variety of orders they had given him, to receive valuable presents from England, would never be honoured by their countrymen, if he refused to fulfil his engagements with them.
Since the demise of the late governor, it was calculated that Jenna had lost more than five hundred of its population, chiefly by wars, intestine broils, &c. and all for want of a ruler. It must not, however, be imagined, that because the people of this country are almost perpetually engaged in conflicts with their neighbours, the slaughter of human beings is therefore very great. They pursue war, as it is called, partly as an amusement, or "to keep their hands in it," and partly to benefit themselves by the capture of slaves. As they were sailing down the coast, they were informed that the natives of La Hoo, and Jack-a-jack, had been warring for three years previously, and were still at variance, but during that long period only one single decrepit old woman, who found it no easy matter to run as fast as her countrymen, was left behind, and became the solitary victim of a hundred engagements. Much after the same fashion are the bloodless wars of Jenna. Success depends much more on the cunning and address of the parties, than on any extraordinary display of intrepidity, and living not dead subjects are sought after, so that it is their interest to avoid hard blows, and enrich themselves by the sale of their prisoners. Perhaps the extraordinary decrease in the population of Jenna, has arisen principally from the desertion of slaves, who embrace the opportunity, whilst their masters are from home, engaged in predatory excursions, of running away; and thus the latter often become losers instead of gainers by their unnatural passion for stealing their fellow creatures. The individuals captured are sent to the coast, and the chiefs of those unsettled and barbarous tribes that inhabit it, are appointed agents to regulate the sale of them, for which they receive half the profits.
Late in the evening, the young Fellata already mentioned, paid them a visit, and offered his horse for sale. He was a mahommedan priest, and was accompanied by a countryman of the same persuasion, but neither of the holy men appeared in their dealing to understand the meaning of truth or justice. An agreement was made and thirty dollars paid. The merchant implored them not to tell his father, who was the real owner of the horse, that he had sold him for less money than he had received, and in this request, he was seconded by his more venerable friend, because he said he wanted a small sum for his private use, which he knew his parent would refuse him. The words were hardly out of their mouths, before the two Mussulmans publicly went through their ablutions in front of the house, where, turning their faces to the east, they seemed to pray very devoutly to the founder of their faith. When this was concluded, they sang an Arabic hymn with great solemnity, and the whole had a wonderful and immediate effect on the feelings of many of their followers in the yard, who, mistaking loudness of voice for fervour, and hypocritical seriousness for piety, made the two worshippers a present of money. The Fellatas are generally supposed to be spies from Soccatoo, but although this is a very prevalent opinion, no measures whatever have yet been taken either to watch their motions, or question them as to their intentions.
The women of Jenna employ themselves generally either in spinning cotton, or preparing Indian corn for food. Much of the former material grows in the vicinity of the town, but the cultivation of the plant is not carried on with that spirit which it deserves. Silk, which is brought over land from Tripoli, the inhabitants sometimes interweave in their cotton garments, but such being very expensive, are only worn by the higher class of people. They have abundance of sheep, bullocks, pigs, goats, and poultry, but they prefer vegetable food to animal; their diet, indeed, is what we should term poor and watery, consisting chiefly of preparations of the yam and Indian corn, notwithstanding which a stronger or more athletic race of people is nowhere to be met with. Burdens with them, as with the natives of many parts of the continent, are invariably carried on the head, which, it is more than likely, occasions that dignified uprightness of form, and stateliness of walk, so often spoken of by those acquainted with the pleasing peculiarities, of the African female. The weight of a feather is borne on the head in preference to its being carried in the hand; and it not infrequently requires the united strength of three men to lift a calabash of goods from the ground to the shoulder of one, and then, and not till then, does the amazing strength of the African appear. The greater part of the inhabitants of Jenna have the hair of their head and their eyebrows shaven. But the governor's ministers and servants wear their hair in the shape of a horse shoe as a mark of distinction. It is confined to the crown of the head by large daubs of indigo, and none of the people presuming to imitate it, it answers the purpose of a livery.
The early part of the morning of April 10th, was obscured by a mist or haze, which was as thick, and at least as unwholesome, as a London fog in November, but between nine and ten o'clock it dispersed; and the sun shone out with uncommon lustre. The hut which they occupied was in a large square yard, and was the property of the late governor's wife, whose story is rather romantic. Each of its sides was formed by huts, which had all at one time been inhabited, but a fire having broken out in one of them by some accident, the greater part perished. A few huts were only then standing, together with black, naked walls, and stakes, which supported the verandahs, the latter reduced to charcoal. The tenantable buildings were inhabited by the female slaves of the owner of the square, and the travellers and their suite.
It is the custom in this place, when a governor dies, for two of his favourite wives to quit the world on the same day, in order that he may have a little, pleasant, social company in a future state; but the late governor's devoted wives had neither ambition nor inclination to follow their venerable husband to the grave, not having had or got, according to their opinion, enough of the good things of this world; they therefore went, and hid themselves before the funeral ceremonies were performed, and had remained concealed ever since with the remainder of their women. On this, day, however, one of these unfortunates, the individual to whom the house belonged, which the travellers resided, was discovered in her hiding place at the present governor's, and the alternative of a poisoned chalice, or to have her head broken by the club of a fetish priest, was offered her. She chose the former mode of dying, as being the less terrible of the two; and she, on this morning, came to their yard, to spend her last hours in the society of her faithful slaves, by whom she was addressed by the endearing name of mother. Poor creatures! as soon as they learnt her misfortune, they dropped their spinning; the grinding of corn was also relinquished; their sheep, goats, and poultry were suffered to roam at large without restraint, and they abandoned themselves to the most excessive and poignant grief; but now, on the arrival of their mistress, their affliction seemed to know no bounds. There is not to be found in the world perhaps, an object more truly sorrowful, than a lonely defenceless woman in tears; and on such an occasion as this, it may very easily be conceived that the distress was more peculiarly cutting. A heart that could not be touched at a scene of this nature, must be unfeeling indeed. Females were arriving the whole day, to condole with the old lady, and to weep with her, so that the travellers neither heard nor saw any thing but sobbing and crying from morning to the setting of the sun. The principal males in the town likewise came to pay their last respects to their mistress, as well as her grave-digger, who prostrated himself on the ground before her. Notwithstanding the representations and remonstrances of the priest, and the prayers of the venerable victim to her gods, for fortitude to undergo the dreadful ordeal, her resolution forsook her more than once. She entered the yard twice to expire in the arms of her women, and twice did she lay aside the fatal draught, in order to take another walk, and gaze once more on the splendour of the sun and the glory of the heavens, for she could not bear the idea of losing sight of them forever. She was for some time restless and uneasy, and would gladly have run away from death, if she durst; for that imaginary being appeared to her in a more terrible light, than our pictures represent him with his shadowy form and fatal dart. Die she must, and she knew it; nevertheless she tenaciously clung to life till the very last moment. In the mean time her grave was preparing, and preparations were making for a wake at her funeral. She was to be buried in one of her own huts, the moment after the spirit had quitted the body, which was to be ascertained by striking the ground near which it might be lying at the time, when, if no motion or struggle ensued, the old woman was to be considered as dead. The poison used by the natives on these occasions, destroys life, it is reported, in fifteen minutes.
The reason of the travellers not meeting with a better reception when they slept at Laatoo, was the want of a chief to that town, the last having followed the old governor of Jenna, to the eternal shades, for he was his slave. Widows are burnt in India, just as they are poisoned or clubbed at Jenna, but in the former country no male victims are destroyed on such occasions. The original of the abominable custom at Jenna, of immolating the favourite wives, is understood to have arisen from the dread on the part of the chiefs of the country in olden times, that their principal wives, who alone were in possession of their confidence, and knew where their money was concealed, might secretly attempt their life, in order at once to establish their own freedom, and become possessed of the property; that, so far from entertaining any motive to destroy her husband, a woman might on the contrary have a strong inducement to cherish him as long as possible, the existence of the wife was made to depend entirely on that of her lord, and this custom has been handed down from father to son even to the present time. But why men also, who can have no interest to gain on the death of their prince, should be obliged to conform to the same rite, is not to be so easily accounted for. The individual, who was governor of Jenna at the time of the visit of the Landers, must of necessity go down to the grave on the first intelligence of the demise of the king of Youriba, and as that monarch was a very aged man, the situation of the former was not the most enviable in the world.
Previously to her swallowing the poison, the favourite wife of a deceased chief or ruler destroys privately all the wealth, or rather money of her former partner, in order that it may not fall into the hands of her successor. The same custom is observed at Badagry also, and although the king's son may be of age at the period of his father's death, he inherits his authority and influence only. He is left to his own sagacity and exertions to procure wealth, which can seldom be obtained without rapine, enslavement, and bloodshed.
Whenever a town is deprived of its chief, the inhabitants acknowledge no law; anarchy, troubles, and confusion immediately prevail, and until a successor is appointed, all labour is at an end. The stronger oppress the weak, and perpetrate every species of crime, without being amenable to any tribunal for their actions. Private property is no longer respected, and thus, before a person arrives to curb its licentiousness, a town is not unfrequently reduced from a flourishing state of prosperity and of happiness to all the horrors of desolation.
Considerable surprise was now excited at the delay of the messenger, who was sent to Badagry for the horses, on which they placed so much value, for he had not yet returned, although he promised to be back in four days from the time of his departure. As he had exceeded the time by a whole day, and being a native of Badagry, the travellers had given up all hopes of again seeing either him or the horse, or even the message sword they had lent him as a token that he had been sent by them. Positive assurances were given them that leave would be granted to depart from Jenna on the following week, but as they had only one horse, they would be obliged to take it in turns to ride, or procure a hammock, which it would be a difficult thing to get, and attended with considerable expense.
In the mean time, the devoted old queen dowager engrossed the chief part of their attention, although her doom was inevitably fixed, yet her cheerfulness appeared rather to increase, and she seemed determined to spin out her thread of life to its utmost limit; spies were now set over her, and she was not permitted to go out of the yard.
On Monday the 12th of April, the travellers had the customary visit to their yard of a long line of women, who came every morning with rueful countenances and streaming eyes to lament the approaching death of the old widow. They wept, they beat their breast and tore their hair; they moaned, and exhibited all manner of violent affliction at the expected deprivation. Perhaps their sorrow was sincere, perhaps it was feigned; at all events their lamentations were ungovernable and outrageous; the first woman in the line begins the cry, and is instantly followed by the other voices; the opening notes of the lamentation were rather low and mournful, the last wild and piercing.
The principal people of the place finding the old lady still obstinately bent on deferring her exit, sent a messenger to her native village, to make known to her relatives, that should she make her escape, they would take all of them into slavery, and burn their town to ashes, in conformity to an established and very ancient law. They therefore strongly advised the relatives of the old woman for their own sakes, and for the sake of the public, to use all their endeavours to prevail upon her to meet her fate honourably and with fortitude. A deputation was expected from the village on the morrow, when no doubt, after a good deal of crying and condoling, and talking and persuading, the matter will eventually be decided against the old lady. It was well understood that she had bribed a few of the most opulent and influential inhabitants of Jenna with large sums of money, to induce them to overlook her dereliction from the path of duty, and by their representations that she had obtained the tacit consent of the king of Katunga to live out the full term of her natural life. But the people for many miles round, horror-struck at such impiety and contempt for ancient customs, rose to enforce the laws of her country against her.
On Tuesday April 13th, the town of Jenna was visited by one of those terrific thunder storms, which are so prevalent in those latitudes. The thatched hut in which the Landers resided, afforded but an insecure and uncertain asylum against its fury. Part of the roof was swept away, and the rain admitted freely upon their beds, whence the most awful lightning flashes could be seen, making "darkness visible." It appeared as if the genius of the storm were driving through the murky clouds in his chariot of fire to awaken the slumbering creation, and make them feel and acknowledge his power. It was, indeed, a grand lesson to human pride, to contemplate the terrors of a tornado through the trembling walls and roof of a gloomy dilapidated hut in the interior of Africa. It is scenes like these, which make the traveller think of his home, his friends, and his fireside enjoyments, and by comparison, estimate the blessings which are his portion in his native land. In civilized countries, when men are visited by an awful calamity of this kind, the distinctions of rank are levelled, and numbers flock together, for the purpose of keeping each other in countenance, and strengthening each other's nerves; but here all was naked, gloomy, desolate.
They passed the night, as may be supposed, in a very uncomfortable state. The roof of their dwelling had long been infested with a multitude of rats and mice; and these vermin being dislodged from their haunts, by the violence of the wind and rain, sought immediate shelter between their bed-clothes; and to this very serious inconvenience was added another still greater, viz. the company of lizards, ants, mosquitoes, besides worms and centipedes, and other crawling, creeping, and noxious things, which the tempest seemed to renovate with life and motion. After a long, long night, the morning at length appeared, and the terrors of the storm were forgotten.
Not long after sunrise, two fresh legions of women entered their yard, to mourn with their old mistress, and the shrieks and lamentations of these visitors, were more violent than any of their predecessors. It made them shudder to hear their cries. The piercing cries, that assailed the ears of Telemachus, at his entrance into the infernal regions, were not more dolorous or fearful. Their eyes were red with weeping; their hands were clasped on the crown of the head; their hair was in frightful disorder, and two channels of tears were plainly seen flowing down over the naked bosom of each of the women. In this manner they passed before the threshold of the hut in two close lines, and were observed to bend the knee to the venerable matron, without uttering a word. They then rose and departed, and their cries could be heard long after they were out of sight.
Matters were now arranged for their departure, and after breakfast they went to pay their last respects to the governor. Of course they were obliged to wait a tiresome length of time outside his residence, before admittance was obtained; but when the doors were opened, the band that were in attendance inside, played a native tune as a token of welcome. A greater number of drummers were observed than on any former occasion. Some of their instruments were something in the shape of a cone, and profusely ornamented with plates and figures of brass. On one of these was represented the busts of two men, with a tortoise in the act of eating out of the mouth of one of them. The tortoise had a cock by its side, and two dogs standing as guardians of the whole. These figures were ail ingeniously carved in solid brass. Both ends of the larger drums were played on with the palms of the hand; hundreds of little brass bells were suspended round the edges for ornament rather than use; for being without clappers, they could not produce any sound. The common native drum is beaten on one of its ends only, and with a stick shaped like a bow.
After a little conversation, the chief and his principal people shook the Landers affectionately by the hand, and wished them every blessing; and as soon as they got outside the yard, they mounted their horses and rode out of the town. The chief of Larro had broken his promise, but they were fortunate enough to meet with and purchase another horse that morning, so that they cared little about it. Their pathway led through a champaign country, partially wooded; and after a pleasant ride of three quarters of an hour, they entered the small village of Bidjie. Here their carriers dropped their loads, nor could they be induced to resume them by the most pressing solicitations. Nor would the villagers, as their duty required, take them up; but when they were begged to do so, they laughed at them, so that they were compelled to remain at Bidjie until the following day. This was very provoking, but such was the tiresome mode of travelling through this country. No consideration can induce the natives to shake off their habitual indolence, not if a voice from heaven were to be heard, would they do it. Pleasure and sloth are with them synonymous terms, and they are scarcely alive to any other gratification. In the mean time, the chief, who appeared to be a very good sort of man, although he had little authority over his people, sent them a fatted goat; and being in good health, and having very encouraging prospects held out to them as to their future progress, they were determined to forget their little troubles and vexations, and spend the evening as cheerfully as they could.
Hawks and vultures are exceedingly numerous both at Jenna and this place, the former are bold and disgusting birds, but the latter are so hungry and rapacious that they pounce fearlessly in the midst of the natives when at their meals. Whilst the Landers were at supper, one of them darted at a piece of meat, which one of their men held between his fingers, and snatched it from him whilst he was conveying it to his mouth.
At an early hour of Wednesday the 14th April, to the infinite surprise and pleasure of the Landers, the man from Badagry made his appearance with one of their horses and an English saddle. The latter was as acceptable to them as the horse, for on the preceding day, for want of a saddle, they were obliged to substitute a piece of cloth, and the back of the animal being as sharp as a knife, it was no very pleasant thing to ride him; walking would have been the far less irksome exercise of the two. Pascoe, whose sagacity and experience proved of infinite service to them, was lamed in his endeavours to walk as fast as the rest of the party, and as he had the misfortune of having one leg shorter than the other he became the general butt and laughing stock of his more robust companions. This day, however, they mounted him on the extra horse, on the back of which he retorted their revilings, and the whole of them became as envious of his dignity, as they were before facetious at his expense.
They took their departure from Bidjie while the morning was yet cool and pleasant, and arrived at Chow before eleven o'clock in the forenoon. The natives have an unaccountable fancy that white men are fond of poultry to an excess, insomuch that whenever they entered a town or village, all the fowls were immediately seized and confined in a place of security until their departure.
Several strangers accompanied them from town to town, for the purpose of evading the duty which is exacted at the turnpike gates, by stating themselves to be of the number of their attendants. Women also placed themselves under the protection of their men from Cape Coast Castle, in order that they might enjoy a similar advantage; in return for this favour, they showed a great willingness to do for them many little kind offices, and they were found particularly useful in making fires, preparing food, &c. for the whole of the party.
Their journey throughout the whole of this day was extremely pleasant. At one time the path ran in a serpentine direction through plains covered with green turf, at another it led them amidst large groves of stately trees, from whose branches a variety of playful chattering monkeys diverted them by their mischievous tricks, and the grey parrot, with its discordant, shrill scream, and other beautiful birds, "warbled their native wood notes wild."
The chief of Chow, who received and entertained Captain Clapperton, had been dead some time, and was succeeded by a humble, good natured, and active individual, who treated the white men more like demi-gods than human beings. At the time of their arrival, he was engaged in superintending the slaves at his corn and yam plantations, but he hastened to them the moment he was informed of the circumstance. He possessed a number of horses, one of which was the smallest and most beautiful animal they ever beheld.
In the evening, the chief visited them again with a present of provisions, and a few goora nuts. Richard Lander took the opportunity of playing on a bugle horn in his presence, by which he was violently agitated, under the supposition that the instrument was nothing less than a snake.
For the first time since their landing they observed the loom in active operation; the manufacture of cotton cloth is, however, carried on exclusively by women, the men appearing too slothful and indolent to undertake any labour, which might subject them to fatigue.
On the following day the path wound through a country charmingly diversified by hill and dale, woods and open glades, and watered by streams flowing over beds of fine white sand. A horseman from Katunga met them about ten o'clock in the morning, whose dress and accoutrements were highly grotesque. He neither stopped nor spoke, but couched his lance as he gallopped past them. It was supposed that he was the bearer of a message to the chief of Jenna, from the king of Katunga, and that it had some reference to themselves, but whether it was an act of caution or of compliment could not be ascertained.
They met a number of people of both sexes in the path, who were returning from Egga to Chow, and several naked boys on their way to the coast, under the care of guardians. These were slaves, and would be most likely sold at Badagry. Some of the woman bore burdens on their heads, that would have tired a mule and broken the neck of a Covent Garden Irish woman, and children not more than five or six years old trudged after them with loads that would have given a full grown person in Europe the brain fever.
They departed from Chow before sunrise; a surprising dew had fallen during the night and distilled from the leaves and branches in large drops. They passed during the forenoon, over three or four swampy places, covered with reeds, rushes, and rank grass, which were inhabited by myriads of frogs of prodigious size. On crossing the streams, they were invariably saluted by a loud and unaccountable hissing, as if from a multitude of serpents. They could not account for this extraordinary noise in any other way, than by supposing it to have proceeded from some species of insects, whose retreats they had invaded.
With very trifling manual labour, the path, which was little better than a mere gutter formed by repeated rains, might be converted into a good and commodious road; and were a tree simply thrown over them, the streams and morasses might be crossed with ease and safely. But the natives appeared to have no idea whatever of such improvements, and would rather be entangled in thick underwood, and wade through pools of mud and water, than give themselves any trouble about repairing the road. But the native, however, says to himself, and not unjustly, cui bono? neither in England or in Africa are individuals to be found, who will undertake a work of difficulty and fatigue gratuitously, merely for the benefit and accommodation of others; characters of that description are very rarely to be found, and perhaps the interior of Africa is the last place in the world where we should look for them. An Englishman might find it to be his interest to repair the roads on which he is frequently obliged to travel; but what benefit can accrue to the uncivilized African, and particularly the slave, who has not a blade of grass under the canopy of Heaven, which he can call his own, to trouble himself about the repair of a road, on which he might never have occasion to travel, and which, with the great uncertainty which is always hanging over his future condition in life, he may never fee again. Trees not unfrequently fall across the pathway, but instead of removing them, the people form a large circuit round them, even a small ant hill is an object too mighty to be meddled with, and it is left in the centre of the narrow road, to be jumped over, or to be travelled round, according to the option of the traveller.
Several women, with little wooden figures of children on their heads, passed them in the course of the morning; they were mothers, who, having lost a child, carry these rude imitations of them about their persons for an indefinite time, as a symbol of mourning. Not one of them could be induced to part with one of these little affectionate memorials.
They entered Egga, which is a very large town, in the early part of the afternoon. On their arrival, they were introduced into the house occupied by Captain Clapperton on his last journey, in the yard of which, repose the remains of an Englishman, named Dawson, who died here of a fever when that officer passed through the country. Both the hut and yard were soon tilled with people, and were in a state of filth, which baffles all description. They could not by any means rid themselves of sheep, goats, and fowls, with their train; in spite of all their attempts to remove them, they were determined to be their companions, and this grievance, added to the tongues of a hundred visitors, made their situation all but intolerable.
Egga is the principal market town in this part of Africa, and is attended by buyers and sellers for many miles round. Women here are the chief, if not the only traders, most of them are of graceful and prepossessing exterior, and they all practise those petty tricks and artifices in their dealings, with which the market women of more civilized countries are not unacquainted.
This day, April 16th, was one of the hottest they ever remember to have felt. They found the path in much better condition, than that on which they had previously travelled, and it lay almost entirely through plantations of yams, calavances and pumpkins, and three or four different varieties of corn, which a number of labourers were employed in weeding, &c. The hoe is the only implement of husbandry in use, and indeed they can well dispense with every other, because the soil, during the rainy months, is so soft and light, that but very little manual exertion in working it is required. Population is abundant, labourers may be hired to any number; and it may be affirmed that he introduction of the plough would scarcely be a blessing, but on the contrary, it would furnish fresh encouragement to the general sin of indolence.
Having crossed at noon a small but agreeable river flowing from east to west, in which several females were bathing and washing clothes, they shortly afterwards entered the capacious and populous town of Jedoo. Here they were informed that the chief had been in the grave more than a twelvemonth; and that no one having yet been nominated to succeed him, every thing continued in a state of confusion and misrule. They were conducted, after having waited a little, into a large yard belonging to the late governor, and in a short time received a visit from his brother, in company with all the elders of the place; their conversation was, however, very unpleasant, and their whole behaviour much cooler than was agreeable, the more so as such a reception had been entirely unexpected.
The yard in which they resided, was perfectly circular, and walled with huts, all tenanted by the late chiefs widows, who employ their time and earn their livelihood by spinning and weaving. Not less than a hundred of the king of Katunga's ladies were lodging in the yard with them. They had all passed the bloom of life, and had lately arrived with loads of trona and country cloth, which they barter for salt, and various articles of European manufacture, particularly beads; with these they return home, and expose them for sale in the market, and afterwards the profits are taken to their husbands. These royal ladies are distinguished from their countrywomen only by a peculiar species of cloth, which is wrapped round their goods, and which no one dared to imitate on pain of perpetual slavery. This severe punishment is often inflicted, for, as the king's wives pay no tribute or turnpike dues whatever, and must besides be entertained by the chiefs of every town through which they pass, strong inducements are offered for others to attempt to deceive, by using the forbidden cloth, and hence examples are necessary. As a contrast to the afflicted females of Jenna, the wives of the king of Katunga all fell to crying for joy this evening, on recognizing a few old acquaintance in the yard, who soon joined them in the melancholy music. It was highly ridiculous to see them, for after the first burst had subsided, they began to chat with a garrulity far beyond that of the most talkative of their European sisters. The conversation lasted more than an hour, till at last it resolved itself into a violent quarrel, which lasted during the remainder of the day.
It was now ten o'clock, and the women were still sitting in groups round the several wood fires. The travellers themselves only occupied a small verandah, which was simply the projection of the roof of a thatched hut. Their horses were fastened to wooden stakes in the centre of the yard; their men were lying round them, warming themselves at their own fires. Sheep, beautiful sheep with tinkling bells hung round their necks, were chewing the cud in peace and happiness. But notwithstanding it was the hour of repose, the tongues of the female travellers were making a clatter which all the women of Billingsgate could not rival, and together with the squalling of brats innumerable, completely spoiled the emotions, which the wild and pleasing scene around them would otherwise have awakened in their breasts. The sheep here are regarded with as much partiality, and treated much in the same manner as ladies lap dogs are in England. Great care is taken to keep them clean and in good condition; they are washed every morning in soap and water; and so greatly are they attached to their masters or mistresses, that they are constantly at their meals, following them in doors and out, from town to town, and in all their peregrinations. Goats, sheep, swine and poultry are in great plenty here, and in the possession of every one, notwithstanding which they are always excessively dear, because the people take a pride in displaying the number and quality of their domesticated animals.
The inhabitants of Jeado are in general very decently dressed in cotton dresses of their own manufacture. In their persons, they are much more agreeable, than those who reside near the sea. European goods are brought hither from Dahomey and Badagry, but more especially from Lagos, and are daily exposed for sale in the markets of Jadoo and Egga. Several chiefs on the road, questioned the travellers to account to them for the Portuguese not purchasing so many slaves as formerly, and they made very sad complaints of the stagnation of that branch of traffic. It would perhaps have been as much as their heads were worth, to have told them the true reason.
Hippopotami abound in the rivers in the vicinity of the town, when young, the flesh and skin of these animals are sold as food, and whips and other articles are made of the skins of the old ones. At the usual hour of the following day, April 17th, they quitted Jadoo, and in the middle of the day arrived at a clean, pretty little village, called Pooya. The appearance of the country between these places is extremely fine, resembling a magnificent orchard. On their way they met several hundreds of people of both sexes and all ages, with a great number of bullocks, sheep, and goats, together with fowls and pigeons, which were carried on the head in neat wicker baskets. Several of the travellers were loaded with country cloth, and indigo in large round balls. They were all slaves, and were proceeding to the coast from the interior, to sell the goods and animals under their charge. One old woman had the misfortune to let a large calabash of palm oil fall from her head: on arriving at the spot, they found a party of females, her companions in slavery, wringing their hands and crying. The affliction of the old woman was bitter indeed, as she dreaded the punishment which awaited her on her return to the house of her master. John Lander compassionated her distress, and gave her a large clasp knife, which would more than recompense her for the loss of the oil, on which the women wiped away their tears, and fell down on the dust before them, exhibiting countenances more gladsome and animated than could be conceived.
The mortality of children must be immense indeed here, for almost every woman they met with on the road, had one or more of those little wooden images, already mentioned. Wherever the mothers stopped to take refreshment, a small part of their food was invariably presented to the lips of these inanimate memorials. The daughters of civilization may boast of the refinement of their feelings, but under what circumstances did they ever exhibit a stronger instance of maternal affection than these rude, untutored mothers of interior Africa evinced to our travellers. The English mother will frequently deposit her child in the grave, and a few days afterwards will be seen joining in all the pleasures and vanities of the world. Whirled about in a vortex of dissipation, the mother of civilization bears no memorial about her of the infant that is in its grave; but the uncivilized African carries about with her the image of her child, and, in the full force of her maternal affection, feeds not herself until in her imagination she has fed the being who once was dear to her. There was something beautifully affectionate in the mother offering the food to the images of her children, and had a whole volume been written in display of the African female character, a more forcible illustration could not have been given of it.
Although Pooya is considered by the natives to be a day's journey from Jadoo, they only halted to pay their respects to the chief, and then continued their journey over gentle hills, and through valleys watered by streams and rivulets, so as to reach Engua in the afternoon. The soil between the two towns is mostly dry and sterile, and large masses of ironstone, which looked as if they had undergone the action of fire, presented themselves almost at every step. The day was oppressively hot, and as they had been exposed to the sun for a great number of hours, when they reached Engua, their skin was scorched and highly inflamed, which proved very painful to them. Richard Lander was comparatively inured to the climate, but his brother now begun to feel it severely, he was sore, tired, and feverish, and longed to be down in a hut, but they were obliged to remain under a tree for three hours, before they could be favoured with that opportunity, because the chief of that town was engaged in making a fetish, for the purpose of counteracting any evil intentions that the white men might entertain towards him. All their people were fatigued and exhausted on the road, complaining much of the heat, and one of them was brought to them in the evening in a high fever. Engua is the town where the lamented Captain Pearce breathed his last, and here also Captain Clapperton felt quite disheartened, and almost despaired of penetrating further into the interior of the country. The chief sent them only a little Indian corn and water, and obstinately refused to sell them either a goat, sheep, or any other animal, although there were many thousands in the town.
Their reception at Engua was so truly inhospitable, that they arose at a much earlier hour than they generally did, and proceeded on their way by starlight. In place of the ironstone which they had observed on the preceding day, the country was now partially covered with large and unshapely masses of granite. Mountains and elevated hills were observed to the right of them, the sides of which were thickly wooded, and their summits reaching above the clouds. At nine o'clock, they passed through a neat and cleanly village named Chakka, which had lately lost its chief, and an hour afterwards crossed a small river called Akeeney, which was full of sharp and rugged rocks, and is reported to fall into the Lagos. They were carried over on men's shoulders without much difficulty, but the horses were a long time in getting across. Hence the path winded up a high and steep hill, which they ascended, and entered the town of Afoora about mid-day. The governor gave them a hearty welcome, and said it made him so extremely happy to see them, which was also expressed by the joy and animation of his countenance. The best hut in the town, which was the most airy and commodious of any they had seen, was presently got ready for them, and shortly after they had taken possession of it, they received a quantity of excellent provisions from the chief.
This was the first day of his government; his father, the late chief, had been dead some time, but from motives of delicacy he refused to take upon himself his authority until this morning. In honour of the event, a large company of women were dancing, rejoicing, and making merry all the evening, outside their hut. It appeared as rather a strange circumstance to Richard Lander, that the chief or governor of almost every town through which they had passed since leaving Badagry, who was alive and well on his return to the coast three years ago, had been either slain in war or had died from natural causes. Scarcely one of them was alive on his present expedition.
On April 19th, an easy pleasant ride of three hours brought them to the first walled town they had seen, which was called Assinara. The wall was of clay and so diminutive, that a person might easily jump over it; a dry ditch about eighteen inches deep, and three or four feet in width also surrounds the town. Over this a single plank is thrown, which answers the purpose of a draw-bridge, and is the only means the inhabitants have of getting in and out of the place. Assinara had also lately lost its chief in some battle, and all business was transacted by a benevolent elderly man, who volunteered his services till a successor should be appointed. From him the Landers received the warmest reception, and the most hospitable treatment.
The climate now began to have a most debilitating effect upon John Lander, and from a state of robust health and vigour, he was now reduced to so great a degree of lassitude and weakness, that he could scarcely stand a minute at a time. Every former pleasure seemed to have lost its charm with him. He was on this day attacked with fever, and his condition would have been hopeless indeed, had his brother not been near to relieve him. He complained of excessive thirst. Ten grains of calomel were administered to him, and afterwards a strong dose of salts. On the following day, April 20th, he was much better and free from fever, but too weak to travel, their stay, therefore, at Assinara was unavoidably protracted.
The acting governor visited them with a very long face, and entreated the Landers to discover a certain wizard, whom he imagined to be concealed somewhere in the town. By the influence of this sorcerer, a number of people, it was said, pined away and died, and women with child were more especially the object of his malevolence. These victims dropped down suddenly, without the slightest warning, and the deaths had lately been so numerous, that the old man himself was grievously alarmed, and begged a charm to preserve him and his family.
On the 23rd, John Lander finding himself considerably invigorated and refreshed by a day's rest at Assinara, and sufficiently recovered to pursue their journey, all hands were in readiness to start at an early hour. The morning was cool and pleasant, and they travelled onwards in excellent spirits. Without meeting any thing particular in the path, or perceiving any object sufficiently interesting or novel to demand attention, they entered the town of Accadoo in the forenoon, having had an agreeable ride of a few hours duration only.
At this time John Lander seemed to be free from any kind of complaint whatever, and enjoyed an unusual cheerfulness and buoyancy of spirits, which led his brother to form the most flattering anticipations. In the course of a few minutes, however, his body was overspread with a burning heat, and he suffered under another attack of fever, more violent than any of the former. He resorted to the most powerful remedies, he could think of at the time. His brother bled him, and applied a strong blister to the region of the stomach, where the disorder seemed to be seated. It was swollen and oppressed with pain, and he felt as if some huge substance lay upon his chest. His mouth being dry and clogged, and his thirst burning and unquenchable, he drank so much water that his body was greatly swollen. Towards evening, his ideas became confused and he grew delirious. He afterwards described to his brother the horrible phantoms that disturbed him whilst in this state, and the delicious emotion that ran through his whole frame, when the dreadful vision had passed away. Tears gushed from his eyes, a profuse perspiration, which had been so long checked, gave him immediate relief, and from that moment his health began to improve.
During this illness of John Lander, the natives made a most hideous noise by singing and drumming on the celebration of their fetish. Richard went out with the hope of inducing them to be quiet, but they only laughed at him, and annoyed them the more; having no compassion whatever for the sufferings of a white man, and if they can mortify him by any means, they consider it a praiseworthy deed. This day at noon, the sun stood at 99 degrees of Fahrenheit.
Early on Saturday the 24th, a hammock was prepared for John Lander, he being too weak to ride on horseback; and shortly wards they quitted the town of Accadoo, in much better spirits, than circumstances had led them to expect. The hammock-men found their burden rather troublesome, nevertheless they travelled at a pretty quick pace, and between eight and nine o'clock, halted at a pleasant and comfortable village called Etudy. The chief sent them a fowl and four hundred kowries; but they stopped only to take a slight refreshment, and to pay their respects. They then proceeded through large plantations of cotton, indigo, Indian corn, and yams, and over stony fields, till between ten and eleven, when they entered the town of Chouchou. They were almost immediately introduced to the chief, and from him into a ruinous hut, in a more filthy state than can be imagined. No pigstye was ever half so bad. Its late occupier had incurred the displeasure and hatred of the chief, because he happened to be very rich, and rather than pay a heavy fine, he ran away and joined his former enemies, and this partly accounted for the destitution and wretchedness around them.
Since leaving Jenna they met an incredible number of persons visited with the loss of one eye. They assigned no other reason for their misfortune, than the heat and glare of the rays of the sun.
During the whole of this night it rained most heavily; but their hut, although of the very worst description, had a pretty good thatched roof, and sheltered them better than they could have expected. There are seasons and periods in our life-time, in which we feel a happy complacency of temper and an inward satisfaction, cheerfulness, and joy, for which we cannot very well account, but which constrain us to be at peace with ourselves and our neighbours, and in love with all the works of God. In this truly enviable frame of mind, Richard Lander says he awoke on this morning, to proceed onwards on horseback. It was a morning, which was fairly entitled to the epithet of incense breathing; for the variety of sweet-smelling perfumes, which exhaled after the rain, from forest flowers and flowering shrubs, was delicious and almost overpowering. The scenery which gratified their eyes on this day, was more interesting and lovely, than any they had heretofore beheld. The path circled round a magnificent, cultivated valley, hemmed in on almost every side with mountains of granite of the most grotesque and irregular shapes, the summits of which were covered with stunted trees, and the hollows in their slopes occupied by clusters of huts, whose inmates had fled thither as a place of security against the ravages of the warmen who infest the plains. A number of strange birds resorted to this valley, many of whose notes were rich, full, and melodious, while others were harsh and disagreeable, but, generally speaking, the plumage was various, splendid, and beautiful. The modest partridge appeared in company with the magnificent balearic crane, with his regal crest, and delicate humming birds hopped from twig to twig, with others of an unknown species; some of them were of a dark, shining green; some had red silky wings and purple bodies; some were variegated with stripes of crimson and gold, and these chirped and warbled from among the thick foliage of the trees. In the contemplation of such beautiful objects as these, all so playful and so happy, or the more sublime ones of dark waving forests, plains of vast extent, or stupendous mountains, that gave the mind the most sensible emotions of delight and grandeur, leading it insensibly
"To look from nature up to nature's God."
Speaking on these subjects, Lander very feelingly expresses himself, "For myself," he says, "I am passionately fond of them, and have regretted a thousand times, that my ignorance incapacitated me from giving a proper representation of them, or describing the simplest flower that adorns the plains, or the smallest insect that sparkles in the air. This consideration gives me at times many unhappy reflections, although my defective education arose from circumstances over which my boyhood had no control."
Having passed through the immense valley already mentioned, they had not travelled far before they arrived and halted at a large village called Tudibu; here they rested a while, and then continuing their journey for two hours over even ground between high hills, they rode into the town of Gwen-dekki, in which they purposed passing the night. The chief was either very poor or very ill natured, for the only thing he sent them was a little boiled yam, with a mess of unpalatable gravy, which he would not have given, if he had not expected ten times its value in return. Divine service, it being Sunday, was performed in the course of the day, and this was a duty, which to persons in their situation, was found inconceivably pleasant. It rendered them happy and resigned in the midst or their afflictions and privations; reposing their confidence in the all-protecting arm of that beneficent Being, who is the author and disposer of their destinies, and in whom alone, thus widely separated as they were from home, and kindred and civilization, the solitary wanderer can place his trust.
On the morning of Monday the 26th April, a thick mist obscured the horizon, and hid in deep shade the mountains and the hills; every object indeed was invisible, with the exception of the pathway and the trees growing on each side, which they could hardly distinguish as they passed along. It continued hazy for two hours after leaving Gwen-dekki, when the mist dispersed and the atmosphere became clear. Preparatory to ascending a steep granite hill, they halted to refresh their horses under the branches of a high spreading tree, near a town called Eco. Here they were visited by several of the inhabitants, who, as soon as they were informed of their arrival, came flocking to the spot. They formed themselves into a line to pay their respects, and entreated them to wait a little for the arrival of their chief, who was momentarily expected. But after staying as long as they conveniently could, and no chief appearing, they mounted their beasts and began the toilsome ascent. On attaining the summit of the hill, the coup d'oeil was magnificent indeed, and the fog having been dispersed by the sun, the eye was enabled to range over an extensive horizon, bounded by hills and mountains of wonderful shapes. Some of them bore a very striking resemblance to the Table mountain at the Cape of Good Hope, and another was not unlike the Lion's Head and Rump of the same place. Their course was north-east, and those two mountains bore due west from them. There was no continued range of hills, but numbers of single unconnected ones, with extensive valleys between them. In some places, several were piled behind each, and those most distant from them appeared like dark indistinct clouds. Nothing could surpass the singularity, and it may be added the sublimity of the whole view from the top of the granite hill which they had ascended, and they contemplated it silence for a few seconds, with emotions of astonishment and rapture.
Descending the hill, they continued their journey over a noble plain, watered with springs and rivulets, and in the afternoon entered Dufo, a most extensive and populous town. The inhabitants appeared to be industrious and very opulent, as far as regarded the number and variety of their domestic animals, having abundance of sheep, goats, swine, pigeons, and poultry, amongst the latter of which were observed for the first time, turkeys and guinea-fowl. They had likewise horses and bullocks. The chief did not make his appearance for a long time, but as soon as he had introduced himself, he desired them to follow him into a cleanly swept square, where was the house which he intended them to occupy. Presently after his departure, he sent them a quantity of yams, a basket of ripe bananas, and a calabash of eggs, which they soon discovered to be good for nothing, although sand had been mixed with them, that they might feel heavier than they really were.
They were on this evening visited by four Burgoo traders, who informed them that they had crossed the Niger at Inguazhilligie, not more than fourteen days ago, and that although the rains had commenced, the river had as yet received no great addition to its waters.
The travellers were early on horseback, on the morning of the 27th, and preceded by the carriers of their luggage, they rode out of the town of Dufo. The country, indeed, appeared inferior, as to the boldness and beauty of its scenery, to that which they had traversed on the preceding day but still it possessed features of no common interest. Another table mountain was observed to the left of their path in the course of the morning, as well as another lion's head and rump. Ponderous masses of granite rock overhung the road way; they were almost black, and seemed to have been washed by the rains of a thousand years; in many of them were deep and gloomy caverns, which, were they in Cornwall instead of in central Africa, they would be selected by some novel-monger, as the scene of some dark and mysterious murder, or as the habitation of a gang of banditti, or perhaps of the ghost of some damsel, who might have deliberately knocked her brains out against some rocky protuberance, on account of a faithless lover. They were followed a long while by hundreds of the natives, and who annoyed them so much by their noises and curiosity, that they were compelled to resort to violent measures to drive them away; but this was a line of conduct rarely adopted towards them, and never without extreme reluctance. They were at length frightened away, and they saw them no more. About eight miles from Dufo, they arrived at a large straggling village, called Elokba, where they halted a little, as the path had been so stony, rugged, and irregular, that a few minutes rest was absolutely necessary to recruit themselves. From this place the road became excellent, not at all inferior to a drive round a nobleman's park in England, and continued to be good till they came in sight of a capacious walled town, called Chaadoo, which they entered about mid-day. Outside the walls is a small Fellata village, the huts of which are constructed in the circular or coozie form. Its inhabitants employ themselves solely in the breeding of cattle, an occupation to which they are passionately addicted. They are simple in their manners, and extremely neat in their dress and appearance.
Not long after their arrival, three or four young Fellata shepherdesses from the village came to pay their respects to the travellers, who felt much pleased with their society, for they were extremely well-behaved and intelligent; they remained, however, a very short time, their customary avocation not permitting a longer stay. The hair of these females was braided in a style peculiarly tasteful and becoming, and the contour of their oval faces was far from disagreeable. Their manners also were innocent and playful; the imaginary shepherdesses of our pastorals were not more modest, artless, and engaging in description, than these were in reality; they left behind them an impression very favourable, both as regards their morals, naivete, and rustic simplicity.
On the road from Dufo, Richard Lander unthinkingly shot a crane, which fell in an adjoining field. The report of his gun brought out a number of natives from "the bush," who being in continual dread of an attack from "the war men of the path," imagined it to be a signal of one of these marauders. They were all armed like their countrymen with bows and arrows, and with a threatening aspect would have lodged a few shafts in the person of Richard Lander, had it not been for the timely interference of one of their Jenna messengers, who fortunately happened to be with him at the time, and who gave an immediate and satisfactory explanation. The head of the party then sought for and picked up the bird, but Richard took it from him, after he had rewarded him liberally for his trouble. The man, however, was neither satisfied nor pleased, but roughly demanded the bird as his own, because it had fallen on his land. As there were no game laws here, Richard Lander would not admit his claim, and was retiring, when the fellow begged with much importunity that the head and legs of the animal, at least, might be given him to make a fetish of. This was likewise objected to, at which the man was out of all patience, and went off foaming with passion. In the evening, the crane was dressed for supper, and a similar request was made by a eunuch from Katunga, who being a good-natured fellow, his wish was readily complied with. The chief of Chaadoo, however, presently sent a messenger to request the said precious head and legs, and to him they were finally committed by the disappointed eunuch, who could hardly forbear weeping on the occasion; these relics are considered extremely valuable as a charm.
The chief sent them a goat, a quantity of bananas, a dish of pounded or rather mashed yam with gravy, and a large basket of caffas. These are a kind of pudding, made into little round balls from bruised Indian corn, which is first boiled to the consistence of thick paste. From being made entirely of coarse flour and water, they have an insipid taste when new, but when kept for a day or two, they become sour, and in this state are eaten by the natives. There are several deep wells in the town, but most of them are dried up, so that water is exceedingly scarce, and it is sold in the market-place to the inhabitants. They were daily accosted on the road with such salutations as these, "I hope you go on well on the path," "success to the king's work," "God bless you white men," "a blessing on your return, &c."
They remained the whole of the 28th at Chaadoo, in order to give the carriers with the luggage, time to come up with them, having been unavoidably detained by the roughness and unevenness of the road from Dufo to Elokba. The Katunga eunuch already mentioned, was sent by the king of that place to receive the customary tribute of the governors of various towns on the road between Katunga and Jenna. This man was treated with much respect both by the governor of Chaadoo and his people, who prostrated themselves to the eunuch, before addressing him.
Being in want of money, they sent some needles this morning to the market to sell. It is a custom in Youriba, that after a buyer has agreed to pay a certain sum for an article, he retracts his expression, and affirms that he only promised to give about half the sum demanded. This occasioned violent altercations between the Landers' people and the natives, but it is an established custom, from which there is no appeal.
The mother of the governor was buried this afternoon, at a neighbouring village, and the funeral was attended by all his wives or women as mourners. They were dressed in their holiday attire and looked tolerably smart. The mourners exhibited no signs of grief whatever, on the contrary, they were as lively as a wedding party; attended by a drummer, they passed through their yard on their return to the governor's house, which was only a few steps distant, and they kept up singing and dancing during the whole of the day, to the noise of the drum.
The inhabitants of the town have immense numbers of sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry, but bullocks are in the possession of Fellatas alone. It was believed, that the natives have not a single animal of that description. Like many other places, the market was not held here till the heat and toil of the day are over, and buyers seldom resort to it, till eight o'clock in the evening.
On the morning of the 29th April, it commencing raining at a very early hour, and continued with uncommon violence, till between ten and eleven o'clock, when it suddenly ceased, and they quitted Chaadoo. Before their departure, however, the credulous governor, who in common with his people, imagine that white men possess an influence over the elements, paid them a visit with a calabash of honey as a present, to thank them he said, for the rain that had fallen, of which the country was greatly in want, and invoked blessings on them. The kindness of this good old man was remarkable; he never seemed weary of obliging them, regretted his inability to do more, and solicited them very pressingly to remain with him another day.
They traversed a mountainous country intersected with streams of excellent water, and at noon entered a small, but pleasant picturesque village, which was ornamented with noble and shady trees. Here they waited a very short time, and continuing their route, arrived towards evening at a capacious walled town, called Row, wherein they passed the night. In many places, the wall, if it be deserving the name, was no more than twelve or fourteen inches from the ground, and the moat was of similar dimensions. The yard to which they were conducted, shortly after their arrival, was within three or four others, and so intricate were the passages leading to it, that after a stranger gets in, he would be sadly puzzled to find his way out again without a guide. Nevertheless, this was no security against interruption, for the yard was speedily invaded by five or six hundred individuals, who had been induced to visit them from curiosity. As usual, they annoyed the travellers for a long time to the best of their ability, till they completely wearied them out by their importunity and forwardness. They then hung sheets round the door-way of their dwelling, and laid down on their mats; and then only, the natives began to disperse, and left them at their ease.
The governor of the town was a morose, surly, and ill-natured man. He sent them only a few bananas, and a calabash of eggs, which were all stale and unfit to be eaten, so that some of their people were obliged to go supperless to bed. The governor ascribed the badness of his fare to extreme poverty, yet his vanity exacted from their Jenna messengers the most abject method of salutation, with which they were acquainted. These men walked backwards from him several yards, to throw dirt on their heads, and with the dust and filth still clinging to their hair, they were compelled to address the chief with their faces to the ground. The apartment of the travellers unfortunately communicated with his, and the restless tongues of his numerous wives prevented either of the Landers from dosing their eyes long after sunset. In the centre of their yard grew a tree, round which several stakes were driven into the ground. This tree was a fetish tree, and the stakes also fetish, and therefore a strong injunction was issued not to tie the horses to either of them. Calabashes, common articles of earthenware, and even feathers, egg-shells, and the bones of animals; indeed any kind of inanimate substance is made fetish by the credulous, stupid natives, and like the horse-shoe, which is still nailed to the door of the more superstitious of English peasantry, these fetishes are supposed to preserve them from ghosts and evil spirits. It is sacrilege to touch them, and to ridicule them, would be dangerous.
It was between seven and eight o'clock of the 30th April, before carriers could be procured, and every thing got in readiness for their departure. The sun was excessively hot, and the sky brilliantly clear. They crossed two or three rivulets of cool delicious water, as they had done on the preceding day, and then passed through an insignificant village, whose chief sent them a calabash of bruised corn, mixed with water, to drink. At noon, they arrived at the foot of a very elevated hill, and perceived a town perched on its summit, and knew it to be the same to which they had been directed. They dismounted, and after a laborious ascent, which occupied them three quarters of an hour, at length reached the top. Stones and blocks of granite interrupted their path, so that it became a very difficult matter to force the horses along before them; they fell repeatedly, but without materially injuring themselves.
The name of the town was Chekki; their arrival was rather unexpected, and therefore the governor was not prepared to receive them, and they sat down under a tree, until they were tired of waiting. At length, a man came to conduct them to his residence, which was but a little way from the tree, under which they were reposing, when a tumultuous rush was made by the inhabitants to precede them into the yard, and notwithstanding the presence of their chief, they so surrounded the travelling party as to prevent a particle of fresh air from reaching them. The governor received them with bluntness, but not unkindly, though without much demonstration of good-will. While in his yard, he regaled them with water, and afterwards sent them a large calabash of foorah sweetened with honey to their lodgings, which did not taste unlike thick gruel or burgoo, as it is termed in Scotland. It is made of a corn called goorah, is very palatable, and is in general use with the natives of these parts. A quantity of bananas from the chief soon followed the foorah, and something more substantial than either, was promised them.
It was observed to be a general practice here, as well as in every other town through which the Landers passed, for children until the age of seven years to go naked, with perhaps a string of kowries tied round the loins, and clumsy bracelets, either of brass or tin enclosing the wrist. Grown-up people, however, dress somewhat neatly, if not gracefully; the men wear a cap, tobe and trousers, mostly blue, and the women wear a large loose cotton cloth, which is thrown over the left shoulder, and comes down mantling below the knee. The right arm and feet alone are bare. People of both sexes are infinitely more grave and serious in their manners, than those nearer the coast, nor was the loud vacant laugh so prevalent, as at the commencement of their journey.
They quitted Chekki on the 1st of May, and rode on pleasantly until, at the expiration of four hours, they arrived at Coosoo, a large and important town. A Fellata hamlet stands near it, the inhabitants of which, subsist by following pastoral occupations alone. They are much esteemed by the Youribans, who behave to them without suspicion or reserve.
Shortly after their arrival, a man stole a sword from one of the attendants on the travellers; he was pursued to the chief, and asserted that he had found it; as he laid the weapon at his feet. The sword was restored to them by the governor, but without the slightest allusion being made to the means by which he obtained it. A company or goffle of merchants from Hano, were at this time in the town, who had travelled thus far on their way to Gonga, which is the Selga of Cape Coast Castle and Accra. Their merchandise consists chiefly of elephants' teeth, trona, rock salt, and country cloths. This, the Landers were told, is a new route, the road formerly taken being considered unsafe, on account of private broils and disturbances amongst the natives. The goffle consisted of more than four hundred men; but a company of merchants that passed through the town ten days previously, amounted to twice that number. Other merchants were also in the town, and were to leave on the morrow on their way to Yaoorie, to which place they were destined.
The palm tree became scarce as they advanced into the country, and, consequently, the oil obtained hereabouts, is only in very small quantities. But nature, ever bountiful, supplies its place with the mi-cadania or butter tree, which yields abundance of a kind of vegetable marrow, pleasant to the taste, and highly esteemed by the natives. It is used for lights and other domestic purposes. The tree from which it is obtained, is not much unlike our oak in appearance, and the nut it produces is enveloped in an agreeable pulpy substance. The kernel of this nut is about the size of our chestnut. It is exposed in the sun to dry, after which it is pounded very fine and boiled in water. The oily particles which it contains, soon float on the surface; when cool, they are skimmed off, and then made into little cakes for use, without any further preparation. Two individuals appeared before the chief this day, in consequence of an accusation of theft that had been made against them. The method adopted of proving the guilt or innocence of the parties, was, by compelling them to swallow the fetish water.
In the evening, the travellers received a fat goat, a basket of caffas, a calabash of bananas, a vast quantity of yams, and a bowl of milk from the governor. He appeared to be a sober, kind, and benevolent old man, and generally beloved by his people. To the Landers, he was particularly attentive and obliging. He informed them, that the common path to Katunga was unsafe, in consequence of a serious quarrel between the inhabitants of Coosoo, and those of a neighbouring town. "Therefore," said he, "I entreat you to remain here until to-morrow, in order that I may make arrangements to send you by a different road." This intelligence was not very agreeable to the Landers, but they were convinced of its importance, and therefore thankfully accepted the chiefs offer.
The market which was held this evening in the town, had a most imposing and brilliant appearance, from the immense of lamps used by the trades-people.
Their visitors, who continued with them until late in the evening, were innumerable, and the noise of the women's tongues was as loud and disagreeable as ever. For some time nothing could quiet them: threats and entreaties were disregarded or laughed at, till at last, they were compelled to resort to the childish expedient of spurting water in their faces from a large syringe. On seeing and feeling the effects of this fearful instrument, they became alarmed and ran away.
On the following day, May 2nd, a fetish priest came to see them, and was about to treat them with the usual harangue of his profession, but they contrived to put a stop to it, by bribing him with a few needles. Nothing particular was observed in this fellow's ornaments or dress, but his person presented a strange and singular appearance. The colour of his skin was like that of whitish brown paper; his eyebrows and eyelashes were of a silvery whiteness, and his eyes of a bright blue, notwithstanding which, the negro features were strongly and distinctly marked on his countenance. The man's parents were both natives, and quite black, and it was found impossible to ascertain the reason of this extraordinary deviation from the common laws of nature.
They received an abundance of kindness from the good old chief of this place, and his endeavours to make them comfortable were imitated by many of the more respectable inhabitants.
The path recommended by the friendly chief of Coosoo, lay due east from the town, and they pursued their journey on it, on the morning of the 3rd of May. Robbers were stated to be lurking about, and therefore they conceived it prudent, if not absolutely necessary, to take every precaution for the safety of the mission, they, therefore, loaded their own guns and pistols, and armed all their men with swords and muskets. Their Jenna messengers being unacquainted with the new route, the governor of Coosoo had furnished them with two armed foot guides, whose weapons were bows and arrows, besides a horseman, armed at all points, to bring up the rear of the party. With all these warlike preparations and equipments, a few harmless women, who were terrified at the appearance of the travellers, were the only individuals whom they met with on the path during a ride of two hours, which brought them to a town called Acboro. The town itself was very small, but its dilapidated walls, which enclose an immense extent of ground, would lead the observer to suppose, that it was formerly of much greater magnitude. Within the walls, were three granite hills, two on one side, and the other on the opposite side of the town. All their bases were of solid stone, but their summits consisted of loose blocks, from the interstices of which, trees and stunted vegetation shot forth. Besides these hills, immense masses of granite rock were seen piled upon each other in different parts. On the whole, Acboro was one of the wildest and most venerable looking places that the human mind could conceive; the habitations of the people alone, lessening that romantic and pleasing effect, which a first sight of it produces.
Shortly after their arrival, the governor sent them a sucking pig and some other presents, and seemed highly pleased that circumstances had thrown them in his way. "White men do nothing but good," said he, "and I will pray that God may bless you, and send more of your countrymen to Youriba."
Instead of the people running and scrambling to see them, the good-natured ruler of this place excluded the mass of them from visiting their yard, and came very civilly to ask their permission for a few of his friends to look at them. John Lander was too weak and indisposed to gratify their curiosity by rising from his couch, so his brother went out to exhibit his person, and suffered himself to be examined rather minutely, which must have had a very ludicrous effect, to see the European undergoing an examination by a posse of black inquisitors, just as if he had been a horse or a bullock at Smithfield. They, however, separated tolerably well pleased with each other.
On May the 4th, three men, inhabitants of Acboro, were captured by a gang of restless, marauding scoundrels, who are denominated here, as elsewhere, "War-men of the path," but who are, in reality, nothing more nor less, than highway robbers. They subsist solely by pillage and rapine, and waylaying their countrymen. The late governor of Acboro was deposed and driven from the town by his own people, for his indifference to their interest, and the wanton cruelty, with which he treated them and their children. At different times he seized several individuals of both sexes, and sold them as slaves, without assigning any cause for the act. This drew on him the vengeance of the friends and relatives of the sufferers, who prevailed on the town's people to arise with them and punish the aggressor. The latter soon found that his party were too weak to withstand the attacks of the exasperated populace, and he fled to a remote village, where he was residing at the time of the arrival of the Landers. The inhabitants of Acboro immediately elected a more humane and benevolent governor in his stead.
They rose this morning at an early hour, and John Lander finding himself sufficiently recovered to ride on horseback, they bade farewell to the governor of Acboro, and quitted the town by sunrise, taking care to use the same precaution against robbers as on the preceding day. In an hour and three quarters, they entered an open and delightful village called Lazipa. An assemblage of Fellata huts stood near it, by which their beautiful cattle were grazing. Many of the bullocks were as white as snow, others were spotted like a leopard's skin, and others again were dotted with red and black on a white ground. A Fellata girl presented them with a bowl of new milk, which was very agreeable and refreshing, and after drinking it, they bade adieu to the Fellatas and their cattle for ever.
They had not travelled a great way from Lazipa, before they had to cross a large morass, on the borders of which a very large and handsome species of water-lily flourished in great perfection. They crossed this morass without difficulty or trouble, and with the same facility also two small streams, which intersected the road. At nine A.M., they arrived at Cootoo, which like Lazipa is an open village, but the former is by far the most extensive of the two. A person, who may have travelled from Penzance in Cornwall to the Land's End, and observed the nature of the soil, and the blocks of granite which are scattered over its surface, will have a very good idea of the country between Acboro and Cootoo, only that in the latter, it is much more woody.
After leaving Cootoo, however, the aspect of the surrounding scenery speedily changed, and became infinitely more pleasing. The soil was more rich and deeper; patches of verdure and cultivated land were more frequent, the latter being neatly fenced; fine handsome trees, with their spreading branches and thick foliage, embellished the country in every direction, and extended to the eastern horizon. It might have been supposed that these trees had been carefully planted by the hand of man, for they grew at equal distances from each other, and none seemed to interfere with the order, beauty, and regularity of its neighbour. The soil between them was covered with a soft green turf, which rendered the whole view remarkably pleasant. It was over this delightful landscape that they travelled; the morning was cooled by a refreshing south-east wind, and the travellers, which is not often the case, were both on good terms with themselves, and gratified by everything around them. At length, they came in sight of numerous herds of fine cattle, attended by little boys, and shortly afterwards, they arrived at a clean and neat Fellata village, the inhabitants of which were employed in feeding calves, and other occupations connected with an African farm. They then crossed a small stream, and entered a town of prodigious extent, called Bohoo, which was fortified with a triple wall and moats. Without being exposed to the customary tiresome formalities, they were immediately conducted to the residence of the governor. The usual conversation passed between them, and after they had returned to their hut, a bullock was sent them, with yams, bananas, and a huge calabash of new milk, which did not contain less than six gallons, and the travellers sat down to enjoy themselves in perfect good humour.