In the afternoon, a message was delivered to them, signifying that the governor's head minister would be very glad to see them, and would thank them to visit him in the course of the day. John Lander, however, having experienced a relapse, his sufferings were such as to prevent him leaving the hut, and his brother was, therefore, obliged to go alone. After a pleasant walk of about two miles, he arrived at the habitation of the minister, by whom he was very kindly received. The compliments of the day only were exchanged between them, and the numerous wives, and large family of the master of the house, who are on these occasions generally exhibited to a stranger, having amply gratified their curiosity by an examination of his person, the interview terminated and he presently returned to his abode, after promising to visit the minister again on the following day.
Bohoo lies north-east of Acboro, and is built on the slope of a very gentle and fertile hill, at whose base flows a stream of milk-white water, and behind which is the Fellata hamlet already mentioned. Its immense triple wall is little short of twenty miles in circuit; but besides huts and gardens, it encloses a vast number of acres of excellent meadow land, in which bullocks, sheep, and goats feed indiscriminately. By the hasty view obtained of it, the town in some degree resembled Kano, but there is no large swamp like that which intersects the latter city. Bohoo was formerly the metropolis of Youriba, but about half a century ago, the reigning prince preferring the plain at Katunga, the seat of government was transferred there, since which Bohoo has materially declined in wealth, population, and consequence, although it is still considered a place of great importance, and the second town in the kingdom. It is bounded on all sides by hills of gradual ascent, which are prettily wooded, and commands an extensive horizon. The land in the vicinity of the town presents a most inviting appearance, by no means inferior to any part of England in the most favourable season of the year. It appears to be duly appreciated by the Fellatas, so great a number of whom reside with their flocks in different parts, that the minister candidly declared he could not give any information of their amount. These foreigners sell their milk, butter, and cheese in the market at a reasonable rate. The latter is made into little cakes about an inch square, and when fried in butter is very palatable. It is of the consistence and appearance of the white of an egg, boiled hard.
Agreeably to the promise which Richard Lander made to the chief, he left his brother to the care of old Pascoe and his wife, and hastened to pay his respects to the chief's head man or minister. It appears that this man was placed in his present situation by the king of Katunga, as a kind of spy on the actions of the governor, who can do nothing of a public nature, without in the first place consulting him, and obtaining his consent to the measure. Yet he conducted himself so well in his disagreeable office, that he won the good will, not only of the governor of the town, but also its inhabitants. A kind of rivalry existed between the minister and his master, but then it was a rivalry in good and not in bad actions. Hearing that the governor had sent the travellers a bullock, and something besides, he presented Richard Lander with a similar one, and a large calabash of Pitto (country beer,) which Lander distributed amongst those who had accompanied him. A bottle of honey completed the list of presents, and they were forthwith forwarded to their habitation, but Richard Lander remained a considerable time afterwards with the chief. He was filled with amazement at the formation and ticking of Lander's watch, which he gazed on and listened to with transport. The spurs which he wore, also excited his eager curiosity, and he examined them with the greatest attention. He hoped, he said, that God would bless them both, and that they had his best wishes for their safety. He remarked further, that white men worshipped the great God alone, and so did black men also, and that every blessing of life was derived from that source.
On the return of Richard, he found his brother extremely ill, he had been so faint and sick during his absence, that his recovery seemed doubtful, but in a few hours afterwards he became better. In the afternoon they sent to the governor and the minister, who had behaved so handsomely to them, three yards of fine red cloth, a common looking-glass, tobacco pipe, a pair of scissors, snuffbox, and a large clasp knife. The tobacco pipe was much admired, but the red cloth was the most valued; with the whole, however, they were both perfectly well pleased, and were extravagant in their expressions of gratitude.
One of the bullocks was slaughtered this morning, and about two thirds of it distributed by the governor and his chief man to the poor in the town; the remainder of the carcass was divided equally amongst the attendants of the travellers, who appeared by no means anxious to leave the place, while their present, unusually good fare, was to be had.
John Lander was now so far recovered as to excite a hope that they might be able to proceed on their journey, on the following day. His recovery was, however, considerably retarded by the continual noises to which he was subject. Perhaps, of all evils that can afflict a sick person, noises of any kind are the greatest. In Africa, whether a person be ill or well, it is exactly the same, nothing like peace or quiet is any where to be found; independently of the continual fluttering of pigeons, which roosted close to their ears, the bleating of sheep and goats, and the barking of numerous half-starved dogs, they were still more seriously annoyed by the incessant clatter of women's tongues, which pursued them every where, and which it was believed nothing less than sickness or death on their part could eventually silence. The shrillness of their voices drowns the bleating of the sheep, and the yellings of the canine race; and notwithstanding all the exertions of Richard Lander, seconded by those of their attendants, their noise in this town considerably retarded the recovery of his brother. A person in England might be inclined to think lightly of this matter, but it is indeed a grievance, which can ill be borne by an invalid languishing under a wasting disease, and who has equally as much need of rest and silence as of medicine. Besides those grievances, the shouts of the people outside the yard, and the perpetual squalling of children within it, the buzzing of beetles and drones, the continual attacks of mosquitoes and innumerable flies, form a host of irritating evils, to which a sick person is exposed, and to which he is obliged patiently to submit, until by a relief from his disorder, he is obliged to stand upon his legs, and once more take his own part. But even then noises assail his ear, and he does not enjoy the happiness of perfect silence unless he enters a grove or forest.
They were this morning, visited by a party of Fellatas of both sexes. They differed but little either in colour or feature from the original natives of the soil. In dress and ornaments, however, there was a slight distinction between them. They displayed more taste in their apparel, and wore a greater number of ornaments round the neck and wrists; they paid also great attention to their hair, which the women plait with astonishing ingenuity. Like that of the young woman, whom they met at Jenna, their heads exactly resembled a dragoon's helmet. Their hair was much longer of course than that of the negro, which enables the Fallatas to weave it on both sides of the head into a kind of queue, which passing over each cheek is tied under the chin.
Another company of Fellatas came to them in the evening, for they had never beheld a white man, and curiosity had led them to their habitation. They brought with them a present of a little thick milk, of which they begged the travellers' acceptance, and then went away highly gratified with the interview. The behaviour of the whole of them was extremely reserved and respectful; nothing in the persons of the travellers excited their merriment, on the contrary, they seemed silently to admire their dress and complexion, and having examined them well at a distance, seemed grateful for the treat.
In the mean time, the kindness and generosity of the governor of Bohoo continued unabated; instead of diminishing, it seemed to strengthen; he literally inundated them with milk, and he was equally lavish with other things. It gave them unmixed pleasure to meet with so much native politeness and attention from a quarter, where they the least expected it, and at a time also, when it was the most required.
After they had retired to rest, a Fellata woman came to their dwelling, bringing with her a number of eggs of the guinea-hen, and a large bowl of milk fresh from the cow, as a return for a few needles they had given her in the afternoon. This circumstance is mentioned merely to show the difference between the Fellatas and the Youribeans, in point of gratitude for favours which they may have received. The latter are very seldom grateful, and never acknowledge gratitude as a virtue. The indifference, unconcern, and even contempt, which they often evinced on receiving the presents which the Landers made them, was a proof of this, and with a very few exceptions, they never observed a Youribean to be sincerely thankful for any thing.
On the following morning, John Lander was able to sit on horseback, and as they were on the point of taking their departure, the governor came out to bid them farewell, and presented them with two thousand kowries to assist them on their journey.
Two hours after leaving Bohoo, they passed through an agreeable, thinly inhabited village called Mallo, and in somewhat less than an hour after, arrived at Jaguta, a large and compact town, fortified by a neater and more substantially built wall than any they had yet seen.
Jaguta lies E. S. E. of Bohoo, from which it is distant, as nearly as the Landers could guess, from twelve to thirteen miles. In the course of the journey, they met a party of Nouffie traders from Coulfo, with asses carrying trona for the Gonja market. Among them, were two women, very neatly clad in their native costume, with clean white tobes outside their other apparel, resembling as nearly as possible the chemise of European ladies. These asses were the first beasts they had observed employed in carrying burdens, for hitherto, people of both sexes and of all ages, especially women and female children, had performed those laborious duties.
The governor of Jaguta came to apologize in the evening, for not having attended them the greater part of the day, on the plea that he had been engaged in the country with his people, in making a fetish for the prosperity of the king of Katunga. The return of the governor and his procession to the town, was announced by a flourish of drums, fifes, &c., with the usual accompaniments of singing and dancing. The musicians performed before him, for some time, in a yard contiguous to that where the Landers resided, and their ears were stunned for the remainder of the night, by a combination of the most barbarous sounds in the world.
They were here daily assured that the path was rendered exceedingly dangerous by banditti, and the governor of Jaguta endeavoured with a good deal of earnestness, to persuade them that their goods would not be respected by them. It will, however, scarcely be believed, that this universal dread originates from a few Borgoo desperadoes, who, although only armed with powder and a few broken muskets, can put a whole legion of the timid natives to flight. The inhabitants of the town kept firing the whole of the evening, to deter their formidable foe from scaling the wall and taking possession of their town.
On the night of Saturday May 8th, they were visited by thunder storms, from which, however, they did not receive any great annoyance. The natives as usual imputed the seasonable weather to their agency alone, and in consequence, their arrival at many places was hailed with transport, as the most fortunate thing that could have happened.
Extraordinary preparations were made by the governor of Jaguta, to ensure the safety of the travellers on the dreaded pathway; and a horseman armed with sword and spear, in company with four foot soldiers, who were equipped with bows, and several huge quivers full of arrows, were in readiness to offer them their protection. The horseman preceded the party, and played off a variety of antics to the great amusement of the Landers. He seemed not a little satisfied with himself; he flourished his naked sword over his head; brandished his spear; made his horse curvet and bound, and gallop alternately; and his dress being extremely grotesque, besides being old and torn, gave him an appearance not unlike that of a bundle of rags flying through the air. But with all this display of heroism and activity, the man would have fled with terror from his own shadow by moonlight, and it was really regretted by the travellers, that a few defenceless women were the only individuals that crossed their path to put his courage to the test, the formidable "war men" not being at that time in that part of the country.
Their journey this day was vexatiously short, not having exceeded four miles, for it was utterly beyond the power of either of the Landers to persuade the superstitious natives, who conform only to their fetish in these matters, that the robbers would be afraid even to think of attacking white men. They halted at a small town called Shea, which was defended by a wall. It appeared to possess a numerous population, if any opinion could be formed from the vast number of individuals that gathered round them, immediately on their entrance through the gateway. A stranger, however, cannot give anything like a correct estimate of the population of any inhabited place, in this part of Africa, for as he can only judge of it by the number of court-yards a town or village may contain; and as the one court yard there may be residing at least a hundred people, and in the one adjacent to it, perhaps not more than six or seven, the difficulty will be immediately perceived. Generally speaking, the description of one town in Youriba, would answer for the whole. Cleanliness and order and establish the superiority of one place over another, which may likewise have the advantages of a rich soil, a neighbourhood, and be ornamented with fine spreading and shady trees; but the form of the houses and squares is every-where the same; irregular and badly built clay walls, ragged looking thatched roofs, and floors of mud polished with cow-dung, form the habitations of the chief part of the natives of Youriba, compared topmost of which, a common English barn is a palace. The only difference between the residence of a chief and those of his subjects, lies in the number and not in the superiority of his court yards, and these are for the most part tenanted by women and slaves, together with flocks of sheep and goats, and abundance of pigs and poultry, mixed together indiscriminately.
Shea lies four miles E. by S. of Jaguta. The governor of the town presented them with a pig, and a quantity of country beer, and they also received little presents of provisions from a few of the people.
May the 9th was on a Sunday, and they were invited to witness an exhibition of tumbling; it was with great reluctance that the invitation was accepted, not only on account of the sanctity of the day, but for the delay which it would occasion them. They, however, considered it politic to lay aside their religious scruples, and they attended the exhibition mounted on their horses. As soon as it was over, they were escorted out of the town by beat of drum, preceded by an armed horseman, and an unarmed drummer, and continued their journey, followed by a multitude of the inhabitants.
They passed through a very large walled town called Esalay, about six miles from Shea, but its wall was dilapidated, and the habitations of the people in ruins, and almost all deserted. This town, which was not long since well inhabited, has been reduced to its present desolate and miserable state, by the protection which its ruler granted to an infamous robber, whose continued assaults on defenceless travellers, and his cruelty to them, at length attracted the notice of the king of Katunga. But previously to this, the inhabitants of another town not far off, many of whom had at different times suffered from his bold attacks, called in a number of Borgoo men, who bore no better reputation for honesty than the robber himself, and resolved to attempt the capture of the ruffian in his strong hold, without any other assistance. Their efforts, however, were unavailing; the governor, entrenched in his walled town, and supported by his people, sheltered the miscreant and compelled his enemies to raise the siege. About this time a messenger arrived at Esalay from the king of Katunga, with commands for the governor to deliver up the robber to punishment, but instead of obeying them, he privately warned the man of his danger, who took immediate advantage of it, and made his escape to Nouffie. The governor was suspected of aiding the escape of the robber, and a second messenger soon after arrived from Katunga, with orders for the guilty chief either to pay a fine to the king, of 120,000 kowries, or put a period to his existence by taking poison. Neither of these commands suiting the inclination of the governor of Esalay, he appointed a deputy, and privately fled to the neighbouring town of Shea, there to await the final determination of his enraged sovereign. The Landers saw this man at Shea, dressed in a fancifully made tobe, on which a great number of Arab characters were stitched. He walked about at perfect liberty, and did not seem to take his condition much to heart. The inhabitants of Esalay, however, finding that their ruler had deserted them, that they were threatened by the king of Katunga, and that the Borgoo men emboldened by the encouragement they received from that monarch, were also lurking about the neighbourhood, and ready to do them any mischief, took the alarm, and imitating the example of their chief, most of them deserted their huts, and scattered themselves amongst the different towns and villages in the neighbourhood. Very few people now resided at Esalay; and this town, lately so populous and flourishing, was on the visit of the Landers little better than a heap of ruins.
After passing through Esalay, they crossed a large morass and three rivers, which intersected the roadway. The croaking from a multitude of frogs which they contained, in addition to the noise of their drum, produced so animating an effect on their carriers, that they ran along with their burdens doubly as quick as they did before. They then arrived at an open village called Okissaba, where they halted for two hours under the shadow of a large tree, to allow some of their men who had been loitering behind to rejoin them, after which the whole party again set forward, and did not stop until they arrived at the large and handsome walled town. Atoopa, through which Captain Clapperton passed in the last expedition. During their ride, they observed a range of wooded hills, running from N.N.E. to S.S.W., and passed through a wilderness of stunted trees, which was relieved at intervals by patches of cultivated land, but there was not so much cultivation as might be expected to be found near the capital of Youriba.
The armed guides were no longer considered necessary, and, therefore, on the 10th May, they set out only with their Badagry and Jenna messengers and interpreters. On leaving Atoopa, they, crossed a river, which flowed by the foot of that town, where their travellers overtook them, and they travelled on together. The country through which the path lay, was uncommonly fine; it was partially cultivated, abounding in wood and water, and appeared by the number of villages which are scattered over its surface, to be very populous. As they rode along, a place was pointed out to them, where a murder had been committed about seven years ago, upon the person of a young man. He fell a victim to a party of Borgoo scoundrels, for refusing to give up his companion to them, a young girl, to whom he was shortly to be married. They, at first endeavoured to obtain her from him by fair means, but he obstinately refused to accede to their request, and contrived to keep the marauders at bay, till the young woman had made her escape, when he also ran for his life. He was closely pursued by them, and pierced by the number of arrows which they shot at him; he at length fell down and died in the path, after having ran more than a mile from the place where the first arrow had struck him. By the care with which this story is treasured up in their memory, and the earnestness and horror with which it is related, the Landers were inclined to believe, that although there is so great a fuss about the Borgoo robbers, and so manifest a dread of them, that a minder on the high-way is of very rare occurrence. When this crime was perpetrated, the whole nation seemed to be terror-struck, and the people rose up in arms, as if a public enemy were devastating their country, and slaughtering its inhabitants without mercy. This is the only instance they ever heard of a young man entertaining a strong attachment for a female. Marriage is celebrated by the natives as unconcernedly as possible. A man thinks as little of taking a wife as of cutting an ear of corn; affection is altogether out of the question.
A village in ruins, and a small town called Nama, where they halted for a short time, were the only inhabited places they passed through during the day, till their entrance into the town of Leoguadda, which was surrounded by a double wall, and in which they passed the night. The governor happened to be in his garden on their arrival, so that they were completely wearied with waiting for him, but as he did not make his appearance, they themselves found a convenient and comfortable hut; and though they were assailed by a volley of abuse from the mouths of half a dozen women, they succeeded in sending them away, and they remained in tranquil possession of their quarters. In the centre of their yard was a circular enclosure without a roof, within which was an alligator that had been confined there for seven years. This voracious animal was fed with rats only, of which he generally devoured five a day. One of the inhabitants perceiving that John Lander was rather inquisitive, volunteered to go to a river in the vicinity of the town, and to return in a few minutes with as many young crocodiles as he might wish for; but as he had no opportunity of conveying animals of that description through the country, he declined the man's offer. The inhabitants of Leoguadda, having probably no vegetable poison, make use of the venom of snakes on the tips of their arrows. The heads of those serpents, from which they extract this deadly substance, are exposed on the sticks, which are thrust into the inside of the thatch of their dwellings as a kind of trophy.
Leoguadda is almost surrounded by rugged hills, formed by loose blocks of granite; these added to a number of tall trees, always green and growing within the walls, render the town inconceivably pleasant and romantic. Immense tracts of land are cultivated in the vicinity of the town with corn, yams, &c., and abundance of swine, poultry, goats, and sheep are bred by its inhabitants. Formerly, also herds of cattle were to be seen in the meadows, but they belonged to Fellatas, who, they were told, fled from Leoguadda some time since, to join their countrymen at Alorie.
They left Leoguadda early in the morning of 11th May, and about the middle of the forenoon reached a walled town of some extent called Eetcho. This place is of importance on account of a large weekly market which is held in it. Eetcho had recently been more than half consumed by fire, and would not, it was supposed, regain its former condition for some time. Like most large trading-towns, it is in as unsettled and filthy a state as can be conceived. This day's journey was highly agreeable, the path lay through a beautiful country, varied in many places by hills of coarse granite, which were formed by blocks heaped on each other. Trees and shrubs of a beautiful green grew from their interstices, and almost hid the masses of stone from the view.
The governor of Eetcho welcomed them to his town very civilly; yet his kindness was not of any great extent, and although in all probability, he was as opulent as most chiefs on the road, yet he did not follow their example in giving them provisions, but left them to procure what they wanted for themselves, in the best manner they were able. It is the general custom here, when any stranger of consequence approaches Katunga, to send a messenger before him, for the purpose of informing the king of the circumstances; and as they were considered to be personages of consequence, one of their Jenna guides was deputed to set out on the morrow, and in the mean time they were to remain at Eetcho until a guard of soldiers should be sent to escort them to Katunga. They, however, having no inclination for the honour, as it would expose them to a thousand little inconveniences, determined to avoid them all by leaving the place by moonlight.
An extraordinary instance of mortality is here mentioned by Richard Lander, who says, "that not less than one hundred and sixty governors of towns and villages, between this place and the seacoast, all belonging to Youriba, have died from natural causes, or have been slain in war, since I was last here, and that of the inhabited places through which we have passed, not more than half a dozen chiefs are alive at this moment, who received and entertained me on my return to Badagry three years ago."
On the night of the 12th, they were visited by a tornado, and in the morning it rained so heavily, that even if they had not been obliged to remain in Eetcho that day, it would have been next impossible to have pursued their journey. The celebrated market of this place may be said to commence about mid-day, at which time, thousands of buyers and sellers were assembled in a large open space in the heart of the town, presenting the most busy, bustling scene imaginable. To say nothing of the hum and clatter of such a multitude of barbarians, the incessant exertions of a horrid band of native musicians rendered their own voices inaudible. People from Katunga and other towns of less importance, flocked into Eetcho to attend the market held on this day, which they were informed was not so well attended as on former occasions; the rain that had fallen, and the alleged danger which besets the path, having prevented many thousands from leaving their own abodes. Country cloth, indigo, provision, &c., were offered for sale, but they observed nothing in the market worthy of notice. Orders were given by the governor that the town should be well guarded during the night, for fear of its being attacked whilst the travellers were in it, and it was given out that any one found loitering outside the walls after sunset, would be seized without ceremony, and his effects taken from him.
A very ungallant custom prevails at Eetcho, which is, that every woman, who attends the market for the purpose of selling any article, is obliged to pay a tax of ten kowries to the governor, whilst any individual of the other sex is allowed to enter the town, and vend commodities publicly without paying any duty whatever.
On Thursday May 13th, they arose at a very early hour to undertake the journey to Katunga, which was rather long, and they hoped not only to reach that city before the heat became oppressive, but also to avoid, if possible the escort, which they had every reason to suppose the king would send out to meet them. Notwithstanding, however, their most strenuous exertions, it was six o'clock before they were all ready to depart. The air was cooler than they had felt it since landing from the Clinker, the thermometer being as low as 71 deg. in the shade. The natives appeared to feel this severity of the weather most keenly, for although they huddled themselves up in their warmest cotton dresses, they were yet shivering with cold. Hundreds of people, and it would perhaps not be overrating the number to say thousands, preceded and followed them on the pathway; and as they winded through thick forests, along narrow roads, their blue and white clothing contrasted with the deep green of the ancient trees, produced an eminently pleasing effect. After a hasty ride of two hours, they came in sight of the town of Eetcholee, outside of which were numerous trees, and underneath their widely spreading branches, were observed various groups of people seated on the turf taking refreshment. They joined the happy party, partook of a little corn and water, which was their usual travelling fare, and then renewed their journey in good spirits. They had not, however, proceeded a great way, when the escort, about which they had been so uneasy, was descried at a distance, and as they approached at a rapid pace, they joined the party in a very few minutes. There was no great reason after all, for their modesty to be offended either at the splendour or numbers of their retinue, for happily it consisted only of a few ragged individuals on foot, and eight on horseback; with the latter was a single drummer, but the former could boast of having in their train, men with whistles, drums and trumpets.
Richard Lander sounded his bugle, at which the natives were astonished and pleased; but a black trumpeter jealous of the performance, challenged a contest for the superiority of the respective instruments, which terminated in an entire defeat of the African, who was hooted and laughed at by his companions for his presumption, and gave up the trial in despair. Amongst the instruments used on this occasion, was a piece of iron, in shape exactly resembling the bottom of a parlour fire shovel. It was played on by a thick piece of wood and produced sounds infinitely less harmonious than "marrow-bones and cleavers."
The leader of the escort was a strange looking, powerful fellow, and might very well serve the writer of a romance as the hero of his tale, in the character of keeper of an enchanted castle, when fierce, scowling looks, terrific frowns, and a peculiarly wild expression of countenance are intended to be naturally described, for the man's stature was gigantic; his eyes large, keen, piercing, and ever in motion, his broad nose squatted over both cheeks; his lips immensely large, exposing a fine set of teeth; the beard was thick, black and gristly, and covering all the lower part of his face, reached to his bosom; the famous Blue Beard was nothing to him; and in gazing on his features, the observer might almost be inclined to believe, that all the most iniquitous and depraved passions of human nature were centered in his heart. Yet, with so unlovely and forbidding an appearance, this man was in reality as innocent and docile as a lamb. He wore on his head a small rush hat, in shape like a common earthenware pan inverted, or like the hats, which are worn by the lower class of the Chinese. His breast was enveloped in a coarse piece of blue cloth; from his left shoulder hung a large quiver of arrows, and in his right hand he held a bow, which he brandished like a lance; a short pair of trousers covered his thighs, and leathern boots, fantastically made, incased his feet and legs. His skin was of jetty blackness, his forehead high, but his tremendous beard, which was slightly tinged with grey, contributed, perhaps, more than any thing else, to impart that wildness and fierceness to his looks, which at first inspired the travellers with a kind of dread of their leader.
Thus escorted they travelled onwards, and after a hasty ride of six hours from Eetcho, they beheld from a little eminence, those black naked hills of granite, at whose base lay the metropolis of Youriba. About an hour afterwards, they entered the gates of that extensive city. As being consistent with etiquette, they halted under a tree just inside the walls, till the king and the eunuchs were informed of their arrival, which having been done after a wearisome delay, they rode to the residence of the chief eunuch Ebo, who, next to the king, was the most influential man in the place. They found this personage a great fat, round, oily man, airing himself under the verandah of his dwelling. Other eunuchs of similar appearance were sitting on the ground with him, and joining him in welcoming both of the travellers, but particularly Richard, to Katunga, with every appearance of sincerity, heartiness, and good-will. An uninteresting conversation now took place, which lasted for some time, after which, they walked altogether to the king's house, which was at the distance of half a mile from that place.
Information of the approach of the travellers had been previously sent to the monarch, but they were obliged to wait with much patience for a considerable period, until he had put on his robes of state. In the mean time to amuse his august visitors, the head drummer and his assistants, with the most benevolent intention, commenced a concert of the most bewitching melody; and long drums, kettle drums, and horns were played with little intermission, till Mansolah, the king, made his appearance, and the travellers were desired to draw nearer to pay their respects to his majesty. They performed this ceremony after the English manner, much to the entertainment and diversion of the king, who endeavoured to imitate them, but it was easy to see that he was but a novice in the European mode of salutation—bowing and shaking hands; nor did he, like some other monarchs, stretch forth his hand to be kissed, which, to a man possessing a particle of spirit, must be degrading and humiliating. There is no doubt that it was owing to the rusticity and awkwardness of their address, not having been brought up amongst the fooleries and absurdities of a court, that Mansolah's risible faculties were so strongly excited, but he laughed so long and heartily, and his wives, and eunuchs, and subjects of all sorts joined with him with such good will, and such power of lungs, that at length the travellers were obliged to laugh too, and were constrained to unite their voices to the general burst of kindly feeling, although, if they had been asked the cause of such jollity and obstreperous mirth, they would have been at a loss for an answer.
Mansolah's headpiece was something like a bishop's mitre, profusely ornamented with strings of coral, one of which answered the purpose of a ribbon, for it was tied under the chin, to prevent the cap from being blown off. His tobe was of green silk, crimson silk damask, and green silk velvet, which were all sewn together, like pieces of patchwork. He wore English cotton stockings, and neat leathern sandals of native workmanship. A large piece of superfine light blue cloth, given the chief by Captain Clapperton, was used as a carpet. The eunuchs, and other individuals who were present at the interview, prostrated themselves before their prince, agreeably to the custom of the country, and rubbed their heads with earth two separate times, retreating at some distance to perform this humiliating and degrading ceremony, and then drawing near the royal person, to lie again with their faces in the dust. They also saluted the ground near which he was sitting, by kissing it fervently and repeatedly, and by placing each cheek upon it. Then, and not till then, with their heads, and faces, and lips, and breasts, stained with the red damp soil, which still clung to them, they were allowed to seat themselves near their monarch, and to join in the conversation. Two or three of the inferior eunuchs, not satisfied with this servile prostration, began to sport and roll themselves on the ground, but this could not be effected without immense labour, and difficulty, and panting, and puffing, and straining; for like that paragon of knighthood Sir John Falstaff, they could not be compared to any thing so appropriately as huge hummocks of flesh. There they lay wallowing in the mire, like immense turtles floundering in the sea, till Ebo desired them to rise. A very considerable number of bald-headed old men were observed among the individuals present, their hair or rather wool, having been most likely rubbed off by repeated applications of earth, sand, gravel, filth, or whatever else might be at hand, when the prince happened to make his appearance.
The conference being brought to a close, a kid, a calabash of caffas, and two thousand kowries were presented to the Landers, and cheered by a flourish of music, they laughed in concert as a mark of politeness, and shook hands with the king, and walked away to their own dwelling, which had been repaired, and thoroughly cleansed for their use. The latter operation was particularly necessary, as previously to their inhabiting it, it had been occupied by a multitude of domestic animals, sheep, pigs, goats, fowls, guinea fowls, bullocks, in fine, it had been a kind of stable, where Ebo, the principal eunuch, kept his stock of animals. Here, however, they were glad to lie down to repose their aching limbs, although the stench arising from some parts of the hut was almost insupportable. In the evening, the king returned their visit, and immediately took a fancy to John Lander's bugle horn, which was very readily given him. He appeared to be greatly pleased with the present, turning about and inspecting every part of it, with the greatest curiosity. It appeared to him, however, to be immaterial as to which end the mouth was to be applied, for he put the lower part of the instrument to his mouth, and drawing up his breath to its full extent, sent such a puff of wind into it, as would have been sufficient for a diapason pipe of an organ; not hearing, however, the accustomed sound, he delivered the instrument to John Lander, who brought out of it the shrillest note which he could, which set the king and his eunuchs into a violent laugh, and he expressed his delight to the donors of so valuable a present, assuring them that it made his heart glad to see them, and hoped that they would make themselves quite comfortable whilst they remained at Katunga. They now shook hands, made a bow, not one that would have been deemed a very elegant one amongst the courtiers of St. James', and the sovereign departed, followed by a suite of wives, eunuchs, and other attendants. Ebo inquired if there were any thing further that they wished to be done to their residence, to render their stay as agreeable as possible. Their yard adjoined that of Ebo, with which it communicated by a door way, without a door, so that it enabled the travellers to have frequent opportunities of seeing his numerous unhappy wives, and a number of little boys and girls, who were his personal attendants. The circumstance of a eunuch keeping a whole retinue of wives, appeared to the Landers rather an extraordinary one, for he appeared to treat them with all the jealousy of a Turkish pacha towards his mistresses in his seraglio. Of their fidelity or continency, however, could be said, whenever an opportunity presented itself; but do not require to travel as far as Africa for the experience, when an opportunity of that kind is wanted, it is not long before it is obtained. The eunuch sent them a very fat sheep, as a further token of his good will. On Friday May 14th, Richard Lander accompanied by Ebo, and the other unwieldy eunuchs, took a present to the king, which was pretty well received; Mansolah, it was supposed out of compliment, remarked that if they had not brought with them the value of a single kowrie, they should have been favourably received at Katunga, and well entertained at his own expense. They had, previously to presenting themselves before the king, consulted their friend Ebo, on the subject of their journey to the Niger, and he strongly advised them by no means even to hint at such an intention to the king, whose suspicions, he assured them, would immediately take the alarm, so that instead of being forwarded on their way thither, they would either be detained in the town for an indefinite time, or sent back again to the coast. They therefore conceived it prudent to give him the following statement only:—"That the king of England, anxious to procure the restoration of certain papers which belonged to a countryman of theirs, who perished at Boosa about twenty years ago, which papers were supposed to be in the possession of the sultan of Yaoorie, they had been despatched hither by their sovereign, in the hope that the king of Katunga would forward them to the latter state, for the purpose of obtaining them from the sultan of Yaoorie, and taking them back with them to England."
Mansolah, with the natural indifference of the uncultivated mind, displayed neither eager curiosity as to their object in coming to his country, nor surprise when they had informed him of it, but very promptly observed, that in two days time, he would send a messenger to Kiama, Wouwou, Boossa, and Yaoorie, for the purpose of acquainting the rulers of those provinces of their intention to pay them a visit, and that on the return of the messenger, they should have his permission to depart. This was promised after Richard Lander's repeated solicitations and importunities, that they should not be detained here longer than necessary, as in a very short time, the violent rains would render the roads to those countries impassable, and, in consequence, they would not be able to travel till the return of the dry season. Their speedy departure was also a matter of importance to them on account of their health, which they found to be far better when they were travelling, than when cooped up in a close unwholesome hut, where ventilation appeared to be the object the least attended to, or considered of no importance at all.
They were expressly and repeatedly informed that the monarch of this empire was brother to the king of Benin; but notwithstanding this near relationship of the two sovereigns, not the slightest intercourse or communication is maintained between Yarriba and that power, and the reason ascribed for it is, that the distance between the two countries is too great. It must, however, be remarked, that friends and acquaintance are often called brothers in Yarriba; and to make a distinction in the above instance, they assert that Mansolah and the king of Benin were of one father and one mother. They made some inquiries of Ebo on this subject, but he soon silenced their remarks by observing, that they were too inquisitive, or to use his own words, "that they talked too much." It was the intention of the Landers, after leaving Yaoorie to proceed direct to Guarie, the prince of which country would no doubt send them to Funda, whence it would be their endeavour to discover the termination of the Niger, agreeably to their written instructions.
Instead of the jarring noise of women's tongues, which had hitherto annoyed and followed them at every stage of their journey from Badagry, they at length enjoyed as much of composure and tranquillity, as they could well desire; for the wives of Ebo residing at some distance from the part of the yard which they occupied, the shrill sound of their voices was pleasant, contrasted with the former loud, discordant, and perpetual din which rang in their ears from morning to night. Their male visitors were, likewise, few and select, and did not remain with them any very considerable time together. An order was issued by the king, that if any impertinent individual troubled them at any time with his company, when it was not desired, Ebo was at liberty to behead him, and no one according to the strict injunction of Mattsolah, should tax the eunuch with injustice or cruelty in the performance of his duties. This royal proclamation as it may be termed, had the desired effect, for it was regarded with greater exactness and punctuality than some royal proclamations are in Europe, the people having a great dread of Ebo, who, independently of the high office which he held of chief eunuch, somewhat similar to the office of Lord Chamberlain at the court of St. James', was also the occupant of the delightful office of public executioner, an occupation which, in that despotic country, was frequently called into practice.
The king of Katunga, like other kings, has also his master of the horse, who at the time of Lander's visit was an elderly person, possessing no small degree of influence over his royal master. The European and the African master of the horse, however, in some respects bore a great similarity to each other, although contrary to the opinion of the metaphysicians, the same cause produced a different effect. The European master of the horse has a great number of useless horses under his nominal care, and yet has nothing to do; the African master of the horse has also nothing to do, for the very best of all reasons, that he has no horses to take care of, the whole African stud consisting of one or two half-starved, ragged ponies, which would disgrace a costermonger's cart in the streets of London. Katunga, however, is not the only place in which the sun shines, where the office is made for the man, and not the man for the office; but as they have no pension list in Katunga, nor any retired allowances, nor any Chiltern Hundreds, to enable them to vacate their offices, they are immediately sent about their business when age, sickness, or other infirmity disables them from performing the duties of their office. The age of the master of the horse of the king of Katunga was about seventy, but he contrived, similar to the plan adopted in some other countries, of keeping to himself all the emoluments of his office, and getting a deputy to perform the labour; thus for a mess of Indian corn, the stud of the king of Katunga could be very ably looked after by some half-starved native, whilst the holder of the office was comfortably reposing himself amongst his twenty or thirty wives.
This important personage had been hitherto overlooked by the Landers, that is, they had not as yet made him any present; in order, however, to let them know that there was such a being in existence, he sent them a sheep as a present, on the principle of the English adage, of throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel. A present from an African master of the horse is not a disinterested gift; he had seen the presents delivered to the king, and he ardently longed for a slip of the red cloth wherewith to decorate his person, and set off the jetty blackness of his skin.
The pride of an African dignitary will not allow him to beg, and therefore he conjectured that on the receipt of his present of the sheep, common courtesy would instruct the Landers to return the compliment, by a present of some European article of corresponding value. Nor was the master of the horse wrong in his conjectures, for a present was sent him, and to his great delight a strip of red cloth was included in it. The unfortunate master of the horse, however, discovered, that although he filled the high office of master of the horse, he was not master of himself, nor was he master of that, which he believed did in reality belong to him, for his master and king no sooner heard that he had received a present of a piece of red cloth, than his majesty discovered that it was a colour, which royalty alone was entitled to wear. The master of the horse had scarcely exhibited his valuable present to his admiring wives, all of whom begged for a bit wherewith to enhance the charms of their unwieldy persons, than a messenger from the king arrived, bearing the afflicting intelligence to the master of the horse, to deliver up for the use of his majesty, a certain piece of red cloth presented to him by the Europeans then in the town, or submit to have his head cut off by the dexterity of his chief eunuch. The master of the horse judged it better to lose the cloth than his head, and with a very ill grace, and muttering some expressions partaking strongly of the enormous crime of high treason, the cloth was delivered up, and the master of the horse returned to his wives to condole with them on the heavy loss which they had sustained.
Speaking of the town of Katunga, Lander says, "All seems quiet and peaceable in this large dull city, and one cannot help feeling rather melancholy, in wandering through streets almost deserted, and over a vast extent of fertile land, on which there is no human habitation, and scarcely a living thing to animate or cheer the prevailing solemnity." The walls of the town have been suffered to fall into decay, and are now no better than a heap of dust and ruins, and such unconcern and apathy pervade the minds of the monarch and his ministry, that the wandering and ambitious Fellata has penetrated into the very heart of the country, made himself master of two of its most important and flourishing towns, with little, if any opposition, and is gradually, but very perceptibly gaining on the lukewarm natives of the soil, and sapping the foundations of the throne of Yarriba. The people, surely, cannot be aware of their own danger, or they never would be unconcerned spectators of the events, which are rapidly tending to root out their religion, customs, and institutions, and totally annihilate them as a nation. But since they have neither foresight, nor wisdom, nor resolution to put themselves in a posture of defence, and make at least a show of resistance, when danger real or imaginary menaces them; since neither the love of country, which stimulates all nations to heroic achievements in defence of their just and natural rights, and all that is truly dear to them in the world; and since neither affection for their defenceless wives and unprotected offspring, nor love of self can awaken a single spark of courage or patriotism in their bosoms, can scare away that demon sloth from among them, or induce them to make a solitary exertion to save themselves and posterity from a foreign yoke; why then, they are surely unworthy to be called a people; they deserve to be deprived of their effects, children, and personal liberty, to have their habitual sloth and listlessness converted into labour and usefulness, in tilling, improving, and beautifying for strangers, that soil, which they have neither spirit nor inclination to cultivate for themselves.
A market is held daily in different parts of Katunga, but there are two days in the week, in which it is much larger and more numerously attended than on any of the other days. One is styled the queen's market, but in the evening, when it is held in another place, it is called the king's market. To make a market profitable, the sellers and buyers should be equal, for where either predominate, the advantage cannot be mutual; if the buyers exceed the sellers, the articles sold will rise in price, and on the other hand, if the sellers exceed the buyers, a depreciation in the price will take place. The latter case was observed to prevail in the markets of Katunga, and which was in a degree a direct proof that the supply surpassed the population. The articles chiefly exposed for sale were, several different kinds of corn, beans, peas, and vegetables, in great abundance and variety; the butter extracted from the mi-cadama tree, country cotton cloths, red clay, ground or guinea nuts, salt, indigo, and different kinds of pepper; snuff and tobacco, trona, knives, barbs, hooks, and needles, the latter of the rudest native manufacture. There were also finger rings of tin and lead, and iron bracelets and armlets, old shells, old bones, and other venerable things, which the members of the society of antiquaries would estimate as articles of real vertu; a great variety of beads both of native and European manufacture, among the former of which was recognised the famous Agra bead, which at Cape Coast Castle, Accra, and other places, is sold for its weight in gold, and which has been in vain attempted to be imitated by the Italians and our own countrymen. One most remarkable thing was offered for sale, and that was a common blue English plate, the price of which was, however, too high for the individuals who frequented the market, although many there were, who cast a longing eye on so valuable a piece of property. Some of the people were disposed to look upon it as a fetish, and the seller was by no means disinclined to invest it with that character, as he then knew, he could demand for it whatever price he pleased. The owner of it, however, from the exorbitant price which he put upon the piece of English crockery, carried it home with him, and dearly did he repent that he did not accept of the highest offer that was made him, for on its reaching the ears of his majesty, the king considered that he had as good a right to the English plate, especially as it was a fetish, as he had to the scarlet cloth of his master of the horse, and therefore the owner of it had his option, to deliver it up for the use of royalty, as an appendage to the crown of Katunga, or to lose his own appendage of a head under the sword of that skilful anatomist, Ebo. The owner of the plate adopted the same line of policy as the master of the horse, and the English plate became a part of the hereditary property of the kings of Katunga.
Some of the articles in the market were not of the most tempting nature, at least to a European appetite; for instead of the dainties of an English market, consisting of hares, rabbits, fowls, &c., the natives of Katunga feasted their looks upon an immense number of rats, mice, and lizards, some ready dressed for the immediate satisfaction of the appetite, with the skins on, and some undressed to be taken home, for the Glasses and the Kitcheners of Katunga to try their culinary skill upon. Little balls of beef and mutton were also to be had, weighing about two ounces, but the stomach must not have been of the squeamish kind, which could relish them.
On the return of the Landers from the market, where they were more gazed upon than any of the articles submitted for sale, they received a visit from their friend Ebo, who was the bearer of the unwelcome intelligence, that a body of Fellatas from Soccatoo had arrived at the Moussa, a river which divides Yarriba from Borgoo, and that they had attacked a town on its borders, through which their route would lie. Therefore, continued Ebo, the Yaoorie messenger will of necessity be compelled to wait here till authentic intelligence be received of the truth or falsehood of the rumour, before he sets out on his mission to Kiama. There was little doubt, Ebo said, but the truth or falsity of the statement would be ascertained in about three days, and the messenger then would be immediately despatched on his errand.
This intelligence bore in the eyes of the Landers the character of a complete fiction, but for what purpose it was so got up, they could not divine. The king could gain little or nothing by their protracted stay in his capital; he had received his presents, and therefore it was conjectured, that it might be the etiquette of the court of Katunga, not only for the king to receive some presents from strangers on their arrival, and especially from travellers of the character and importance which the Landers gave themselves out to be, as the accredited ambassadors of the king of England, but also that the departure was to be preceded by certain presents, as a kind of passport or purchase of his leave to travel through his dominions. It appeared also most strange to the Landers, that the very day after their arrival, the Fellatas should so opportunely seize upon a town, through which they were to pass, and that the information of the inroad of so dreaded an enemy should not have reached Katunga at an earlier period, when intelligence of no moment whatever flies through the country with the swiftness of an arrow from the bow. There was also another strong inducement, which operated upon the mind of the Landers, to expedite their departure, and that was, that from some circumstances which had occurred, it was not beyond the range of probability, that the head of John Lander, if not of his brother also, might be severed by the skill of Ebo, the executioner. Love is certainly a most wondrous power, whether it shows itself in the bosom of the fair English girl, or in that of the sooty African; nor is it confined to times and places, to condition or to climate; for it grows and flourishes in the wigwam of the American, the coozie of the African, and the proud edifices of the Europeans. It, however, sometimes happens, that although one party may be in love, the other is as frigid, as if he were part and parcel of an iceberg, and so was it situated with John Lander. It has been already stated, that the communication between the yard which the Landers occupied, and that which was tenanted by the wives of Ebo, was uninterrupted, and of course in the absence of their husband, there was no impediment to any of them whispering their tale of love into the ears of the juvenile travellers, whenever they thought they were in a disposition to hear it. Some of the wives indeed, instead of being the nourishers and fosterers of love, were the veriest antidotes to it, that perhaps human nature could produce; on the other hand, there were some in the fullness and freshness of youth, who had just been selected or rather purchased by Ebo, as very proper persons to soothe and comfort him in his declining years. One of them in particular, had, by certain signs and gestures, given John Lander to understand, that although they might vary very much in colour, yet that a kind of sympathy might exist between their hearts, which would lead to a mutual communication of happiness, so much desired at so great a distance from his native land. John, however, either did not or would not understand the language, which the sable beauty spoke; still her conduct was not unnoticed by several other ladies of the seraglio, and particularly by the shrivelled and the wizened, who hesitated not to convey the intelligence to Ebo, who immediately paid a visit to the travellers, out of pure compliment and good-will, as he said, at the same time expressing his fears that the curiosity of his women might be troublesome to them, and as it was by no means his wish, nor that of his lord and sovereign, the king, that they should be subjected to any species of annoyance, he had given directions for the door-way to be instantly blocked up with mortar, which would effectually prevent any further unpleasant intrusion on the part of the women.
The Landers could evidently see the lurking motive for this extreme attention of Ebo, to promote their comfort, nor were they in reality displeased at it, for the society of the women was certainly at times very unpleasant and irksome, and as some of them evinced a strong disposition for intriguing, it was considered fortunate that the communication was closed, as the friendship and good-will of Ebo were particularly necessary to them, not only to secure their good treatment during their stay at Katunga, but also to expedite their departure from it.
Ebo had scarcely taken his departure, and they were rejoicing at the probability of not being again intruded upon, particularly as it was the Sabbath day, when, to their great annoyance, they were favoured with the company of several Houssa mallams, who, notwithstanding the irksome restraint to which they are subjected by the jealousy of the king and his people, are content to remain so far from their native country, and reside amongst strangers and pagans as long as they live. Whether the priests have taken this step purely from religious motives, or, which is the more likely reason of the two, that they have exiled themselves from their home and families for the mere purpose of being enriched at the expense of the credulity and ignorance of the inhabitants, were questions, which could not at the time be solved. At all events, the institutions of these missionaries are effectually concealed under a cloak of piety and devotion; and thus they are tolerated by the common consent of the monarch and his subjects.
The practice of making presents is, in general, in the African cities, not confined to the sovereign and his immediate ministers, but it extends to every grade, in the least degree connected with the court. Thus the Landers supposed that when they had made their presents to the king and his chief eunuchs, no further demand would be made upon them in the way of presents; in this, however, they found themselves mistaken, for they now discovered that there were certain gentlemen, styled head men, who are the confidential advisers of the king, and lead his armies to battle. It was, however, necessary previously to sending the presents to the head men, to submit them to the inspection of the king, in order that nothing might be given them, which had not his approbation and consent. This was accordingly done, and the donors took particular care not to include any red cloth amongst their presents. It was rather laughable to see the presents undergoing the examination of Mansolah. Amongst them were three large clasp knives, one for each of the head men, but his majesty very unceremoniously delivered one of them, without speaking a word, into the hands of Ebo, who as unceremoniously put it into his belt, to be hereafter deposited amongst other valuables belonging to the sovereignty. This occasioned Richard Lander to return to his hut for another knife, for he easily foresaw that were he to make any distinction in the value or the number of the articles to the head men, it might be the cause of exciting jealousy and ill blood, and be greatly detrimental to his own interests, for as they were the advisers of the king, they were sure to make that one their enemy, who might look upon his present as less valuable, than those presented to their companions.
Towards evening, Richard Lander rode to the residence of the head men, by each of whom he was received in the most friendly manner. The presents were laid before them, and accepted with a profusion of thanks. One of them attempted to make a speech, but if he acquitted himself no better when giving his advice to his sovereign, than he did in the expression of his thanks, he could not be said to be a great acquisition to the councils of his king. The huts of the head men were larger and more carefully built, and their yards more commodious than even those of the king; all were kept in excellent order, clean and neat. These ministers of the crown, like the ministers of other countries, had contrived to appropriate to themselves the good things of the country, for they were in far more affluent circumstances than any of their neighbours; they had a wife for almost every week in the year, and large flocks of sheep and goats, in which the wealth of the natives principally consists. A goat, and two large pots of country beer, were laid at the feet of Richard Lander, and after expressing his acknowledgements, he returned home.
The Landers were of opinion, that it would require a long residence in this country, and a perfect acquaintance with its language to enable a foreigner to form a correct judgment of its laws, manners, customs, and institutions, as well as its religion and form of government. So innumerable are the mistakes, which the smattering of ignorant native interpreters never fails to occasion, that they despaired of obtaining any accurate information on any of those heads. Perhaps few despots sully their dignity, by condescending to consult the inclination of their subjects, in personally communicating to them their most private as well as public concerns. Yet the sovereign of Youriba appeared to be so obliging, as to make this a common practice. In return, however, the people are expected and compelled to satisfy the curiosity of their prince, by adopting a similar line of conduct towards him; and all the presents which they receive from strangers, however trifling they may be, are in every instance taken to his residence for inspection. Every thing, indeed, which relates to their personal interests, and all their domestic concerns, he listens to with the most patriarchal gravity. Thus, the presents of the Landers to the king, were exhibited two or three times. The presents to Ebo, and also to the head men, were also shown to the people, having been first submitted to the inspection of the king. The common people were all anxious to know, whether, amongst the other things they had received, any coral had been given to the king or his ministers; and their curiosity was immediately gratified without hesitation or remark. If a stranger from a remote part of the empire, wishes to visit Katunga, in order to pay his respects to the sovereign, the chief or governor of every town through which he may happen to pass, is obliged to furnish him with any number of carriers he may require; and in this manner his goods are conveyed from village to village, until he arrives at the capital. A similar indulgence is likewise extended to any governor who may have the like object in view.
The most laughable mistakes were frequently made here, by one of the Badagrian messengers, who acted also as an interpreter, as regards the gender and relationship of individuals, such as father for mother, son for daughter, boy for girl, and vice versa. He informed Richard Lander that a brother of his, who was the friend of Ebo, and resided with him, begged his permission to come and see them; of course they expected to see a gentleman of some consequence enter their yard, but to their surprise, the brother proved to be an old shrivelled woman, neither more nor less than one of the eunuch's wives.
Katunga by no means answered the expectations which the Landers had been led to form of it, either as regards its prosperity, or the number of its inhabitants. The vast plain also on which it stands, although exceedingly fine, yields in verdure and fertility, and simple beauty of appearance to the delightful country surrounding the less celebrated city of Bohoo. Its market is tolerably well supplied with provisions, which are, however, exceedingly dear, in so much so that with the exception of disgusting insects, reptiles, and vermin, the lower classes of people are almost unacquainted with the taste of animal food.
Owing to the short time that the Landers had been in the country, which had been chiefly employed in travelling from town to town, the manners of the people had not sufficiently unfolded themelves their observation, so that they were unable to speak Of them with confidence, yet the few opportunities, which they had of studying their characters and disposition, induced them to believe, that they were a simple, honest, inoffensive, but a weak, timid, and cowardly race. They seemed to have no social tenderness, very few of those amiable private virtues, which could win their affection, and none of those public qualities that claim respect or command admiration. The love of country is not strong enough in their bosoms to invite them to defend it against the irregular incursions of a despicable foe; and of the active energy, noble sentiments, and contempt of danger, which distinguish the North American tribes, and other savages, no traces are to be found amongst this slothful people; regardless of the past, as reckless of the future, the present alone influences their actions. In this respect they approached nearer to the nature of the brute creation, than perhaps any other people on the face of the globe. Though the bare mention of an enemy makes the pusillanimous Mansolah, and his unwarlike subjects tremble in every limb, they take no measures to prevent whole bands of strangers from locating in the finest provinces of the empire, much less do they think of expelling them after they have made those provinces their own. To this unpardonable indifference to the public interest, and neglect of all the rules of prudence and common sense, is owing the progress, which the Fellatas made in gaining over to themselves a powerful party, consisting of individuals from various nations in the interior, who had emigrated to this country, and the great and uniform success which has attended all their ambitious projects. At the time of the visit of the Landers, they were effectually in the heart of the kingdom, they had entrenched themselves in strong walled towns, and had recently forced from Mansolah a declaration of their independence, whilst this negligent and imbecile monarch beheld them gnawing away the very sinews of his strength, without making the slightest exertion to apply a remedy for the evil, or prevent their future aggrandizement. Independently of Raka, which is peopled wholly by Fellatas, who have strengthened it amazingly, and rendered it exceedingly populous, another town of prodigious size, had lately sprung into being, which already surpassed Katunga in wealth, population, and extent. It was at first resorted to by a party of Fellatas, who named it Alorie, and encouraged all the slaves in the country to fly from the oppression of their masters, and join their standard. They reminded the slaves of the constraint tinder which they laboured; and tempted them by an offer of freedom and protection, and other promises of the most extravagant nature, to declare themselves independent of Yarriba. Accordingly, the discontented; many miles round, eagerly flocked to Alorie in considerable numbers, where they were well received. This occurrence took place about forty years ago, since which, other Fellatas have joined their countrymen from Sockatoo and Rabba; and notwithstanding the wars, if mutual kidnapping deserves the name, in which they have been engaged, in the support and maintenance of their cause, Alorie is become by far the largest and most flourishing city in Yarriba, not even excepting the capital itself. It was said to be two days journey, that is, forty or fifty miles in circumference, and to be fortified by a strong clay wall, with moats. The inhabitants had vast herds and flocks, and upwards of three thousand horses, which last will appear a very considerable number, when it is considered that Katunga does not contain more than as many hundreds. The population of Alorie has never been estimated, but it must be immense. It has lately been declared independent of Yarriba, and its inhabitants are permitted to trade with the natives of the country, on condition that no more Fellatas be suffered to enter its walls. It is governed by twelve rulers, each of a different nation, and all of equal power; the Fellata chief not having more influence or greater sway than the other. Raka is but one day's journey north-east of Katunga, and Alorie three days journey to the south-west. The party of Fellatas, which were reported to have taken possession of a Yarriba town, on the banks of the Moussa, were said to have abandoned it, and to have joined their countrymen at Raka. This intelligence was brought to Katunga by market people, no one having been sent by the king to ascertain the number of the adventurers, or the object of their visit.
The king of Katunga, since the arrival of the travellers in his capital, had been very niggardly in his presents, as coming from a monarch of a large and mighty kingdom. Nor in other respects was the conduct of Mansolah, such as to impart to them much pleasure, nor could they in any wise account for it, than by supposing that their own present had fallen short of his expectations, and thereby failed to awaken those good-natured qualities, which were displayed at sight of the infinitely more valuable, as well as showy one of Captain Clapperton. But whatever might have been the reason, certain it is that Mansolah and his subjects had seen quite enough of white men, and that the rapturous exultation which glowed in the cheeks of the first European that visited this country, on being gazed at, admired, caressed, and almost worshipped as a god; joined to the delightful consciousness of his own immeasurable superiority, will in the present, at least, never be experienced by any other. "Alas!" says Richard Lander, "what a misfortune; the eager curiosity of the natives has been glutted by satiety, a European is shamefully considered no more than a man, and hereafter, he will no doubt be treated entirely as such; so that on coming to this city, he must make up his mind to sigh a bitter farewell to goats' flesh and mutton, and familiarize his palate to greater delicacies, such a lizards, rats, and locusts, caterpillars, and other dainties, which the natives roast, grill, bake, and boil, and which he may wash down, if he pleases, with draughts of milk white water, the only beverage it will be in his power to obtain." On the morning of Wednesday the 19th of May, Richard Lander was desired by a messenger to visit the king at his residence, and on his arrival there, he found a great number of people assembled. The object of this summons was explained by Ebo, who said that Lander had been sent for, that the present which he, the eunuch had received, should be shown to the people without any reservation whatever. It was accordingly spread out on the floor, together with the presents made to the king. Even a bit of English brown soap, which had been given to Ebo a short time before, was exhibited along with the other things; for so great a degree of jealousy exists among the eunuchs and others, arising from the apprehension that one might have received more than another; that Ebo himself, powerful as he is, would dread the effects of it on his own person, should he have been found to have concealed a single thing. They all in fact endeavour to disarm censure by an appearance of openness and sincerity.
On the night of Thursday the 20th, to their infinite surprise and pleasure, Ebo entered their yard in a great hurry, with the pleasant information, that the king, as nothing more was to be got from them, had consented to their departure on the following morning; and that it was his wish they would get their things in readiness by that time. So confident were they that they would be unable to start from Katunga, for a month to come at the earliest, that they had not only sowed cress and onion seed the day after their arrival, which were already springing up, but they had actually made up their minds to abide there during the continuance of the rains. But now they were in hope of reaching Yaoorie in twelve or fourteen days, in which city they intended to remain for a short time, before proceeding further into the interior. The only drawback to their pleasure, was the misfortune of having all their horses sick, which might seriously inconvenience them in their progress. The old route to Kiama was considered so dangerous, that it was understood they were to be sent back to Atoopa, which was two long days' journey from Katunga, and they were to proceed in a safer path. Although they now required but five men besides their own to carry the luggage, the king scrupled and hesitated to supply them with them, and the youngest of their Jenna messengers was nominated to fill the place of one of them. They were told that it was on account of the vast number of people that have emigrated from Katunga to Raka and Alorie, that a sufficient number of carriers could not be procured for them; but in so large a place as Katunga, where two thirds of the population are slaves, their reason seemed quite ridiculous, and they suspected the real one to be the same original sin, viz. the humble character of their present. The king, however, promised to take his farewell of them on the following morning, and they being in good health, they hoped soon to accomplish the object of their undertaking, and return in safety to Old England.
On the following day, instead of the visit from the king, which they were told on the preceding day he was to honor them with, they were requested to repair to his residence. Accordingly, having first saddled their horses, and packed up their luggage between six and seven o'clock a.m., the two brothers walked to the royal residence. On their arrival they were introduced without any ceremony into a private yard, wherein the king had been patiently waiting their coming for some time previously. He was rather plainly dressed in the costume of the country, namely a tobe, trousers, and sandals, with a cap very much resembling in shape those, which were worn by elderly ladies in the time of queen Elizabeth, and which are still retained by some in the more remote parts of England. On his right the eunuchs were reposing their huge limbs on the ground, with several of the elders of the people, and his left was graced by a circle of his young wives, behind whom sat the widows of more than one of his predecessors, many of whom appeared aged. A performer on the whistle was the only musician present. So that during a very long interview, a little whistling now and then was the only amusement which the prince could afford them. A good deal of discussion ensued, and much serious whispering between the monarch and his wives, in the course of which both parties quitted the yard two or three times to hold a secret conference; followed by the eunuchs with their hands clasped on their breast. Mansolah at length scraped together two thousand kowries, about three shillings and sixpence sterling, which he presented to the four men that had accompanied the travellers from Badagry and Jenna as guides, messengers, &c., to enable them to purchase provisions on their journey homeward. This sum had been collected from amongst the king's wives, each having contributed a portion, because their lord and master did not happen to be in a liberal mood. Poor souls! they possess scarcely the shadow of royalty, much less the substance; the exterior forms of respect which they receive from the male portion of the people alone distinguishing them from their less illustrious countrywomen. They are compelled to work in order to provide themselves with food and clothing, and besides which, part of the earnings is applied to the king's use. To effect these objects, they are necessitated to make long and painful journeys to distant parts of the empire, for the purpose of trading. They have, however, the privilege of travelling from town to town, without being subjected to the usual duty, and can command the use of the governor's house wherever they go. The boasted industry of ancient queens and princesses in more classic regions, sinks into nothing when compared to the laborious life, which is led by the female branch of the royal family at Yarriba.
Mansolah, after some time beckoned to them to draw near him, for they were sitting at some distance on a bundle of sticks, and with a benevolent smile playing upon his wrinkled features, he slowly and with great solemnity placed a goora nut in the right hand of each of them, and then asked their names. Richard and John, they replied, "Richard-ee and John-ee," said the king, for he was unable to pronounce their Christian names without affixing a vowel to the end of them, "you may now sit down again." They did so, and remained in that posture until they were both completely wearied, when they desired Ebo to ask the king's permission for them to go home to breakfast, which was granted without reluctance. Then, having shaken hands with the good old man, and wishing a long and happy reign, they bade him farewell for the last time, bowed to the ladies, and returned with all haste to their hut.
Every thing was now ready for their departure from Katunga, but some considerable time elapsed before the carriers were ready to take up their loads, and much murmuring was occasioned by their size and weight. They then left the city, and returned to Eetcho by the way they had come. One of their horses became so weak on the road, that he was unable to carry his rider, old Pascoe, so that they were obliged to drive him along before them, which was a tiresome and unpleasant occupation. The journey from Katunga was long, and owing to the ruggedness of the path, was very fatiguing, and as they were much in advance of the remainder of the party, they halted at Eetcholee, until they joined them. Here they let their horses graze, partook of some beer and other refreshment, and sat down on the turf to enjoy themselves, for the day had been sultry, and the heat oppressive, and their whole party were nearly exhausted.
On Saturday May 22nd, an unexpected obstacle presented itself to the prosecution of their journey, as the Katunga carriers all complained of pains in their limbs, and on reaching Leoguadda, which lies midway between Eetcho and Atoopa, they placed their burdens on the ground, and to a man, stoutly refused to take them any further until the following day. Their own men also, who were still more heavily laden than the Katunga men, had suffered so much from the long and irksome journey of yesterday, particularly Jowdie, who was the strongest and most athletic of them all, that they greatly feared that all of them would have been taken seriously ill on the road. They, therefore, lightened their burdens, and distributed a portion of what they had taken out of them into the boxes, &c., of their already overladen Katunga associates, without, however, permitting the latter to know any thing of the circumstance. Among the carriers was a very little man, called Gazherie, (small man,) on account of his diminutive stature; he was notwithstanding very muscular, and possessed uncommon strength, activity, and vigour of body, and bore a package containing their tent, &c., which though very heavy, was yet by far the lightest load of the whole. Conceiving that corporeal strength, rather than bulk or height, should in this case be taken into the account, a bag of shot weighing 28lbs, was extracted from Jowdie's burden, and clandestinely added to his. The little man trudged along merrily, without dreaming of the fraud that had been practised on him, till they arrived within a short distance of Leoguadda, when imagining that one end of the tent felt much heavier than the other, he was induced to take it from his head, and presently discovered the cheat, for the bag having been thrust simply inside the covering, it could be seen without unlacing the package. He was much enraged at being thus deceived, and called his companions around him to witness the fact, and said he was resolved to proceed no further than Leoguadda. He then succeeded in persuading them to follow his example, and thus a kind of combination was instantly formed against the travellers. As was usual with them on entering a village, they rested a little while under a shady tree in Leoguadda, and here they were presently surrounded by the murmuring carriers, with the little man at their head. They were furious at first, and gave them to understand that they would go no further, and were determined, let the consequence be what it might, to remain in the town all night. Leoguadda contained no accommodations whatever for them, and a storm seemed now to be gathering over their heads. Atoopa was the town in which the king of Katunga had advised them to spend the night; they therefore resolved to go on to that town, and strenuously endeavoured by gentle means to bring over the carriers to their views, but, these failing, they resorted to their own mode of argument, namely, fierce looks, violent action, vociferous bawling, and expressive gesture, which intimidated so much, that they snatched up their burdens, without saying a word, and ran away with alacrity and good humour. These carriers Were to accompany them as far as the frontier town of the kingdom.
It was market day at Atoopa, and at a distance of some miles from the town, the hum of human voices could be distinctly heard. Just after their arrival, a man of note, who was a public singer and dancer, stood before the door of their hut to entertain them with a specimen of his abilities, and he entered with so much warmth and agility into the spirit of his profession, that his whimsical performance really afforded them much diversion. The musician had two assistant drummers in his train, whose instruments were far from being unmusical, and likewise several other men, whose part was to keep time by clapping with their hands. The dancing was excellent of its kind, and resembled more the European style, than any they had before seen in the country. The singing was equally good, the voices of the men being clear and agreeable; they sang the responses, and likewise accompanied the chanting of their master with their voices; in fact, they performed their part of the entertainment to admiration. A Fatakie, a smaller number than a coffle of merchants, left Atoopa on the preceding day for Kiama, and it was most likely that they would overtake them at the next town.
On Sunday morning, though their horses were in a very weak condition, and all looked extremely sorrowful, yet they quitted Atoopa at an early hour and in good spirits, and journeying in a westerly direction, in two hours time they entered a lively little walled town, called Rumbum. Here they dismounted, and took a slight refreshment of parched corn and water, on the trunk of a fallen tree. Rumbum is a great thoroughfare for fatakies of merchants, trading from Houssa, Borgoo, and other countries to Gonga; and consequently a vast quantity of land is cultivated in its vicinity with corn and yams, to supply them with provisions.
On quitting this town, their course altered to N.W., and continued so till their arrival at the large and important town of Keeshee, which is on the frontier of the kingdom, and distant from Atoopa only about twelve miles. It is surrounded by a double strong clay wall, and is an excellent situation as a place of security from the attacks of the enemy. Before entering this place, and at the distance of a mile from it, they passed through a clean, extensive, and highly-flourishing Fellata village, called Acba, which, like most other places in Yarriba inhabited by Fellatas, was well stocked with sheep and cattle.
The governor of Keeshee having died only ten days previously to their arrival, they were well received by his successor, who was an elderly and respectable-looking man. Shortly after their arrival, he sent them a present of a fine young bullock, a quantity of yams, and more than a gallon of excellent strong beer. In the centre of the town is a high stony hill, almost covered with trees of stinted growth, to which, in case of an invasion by the enemy, the inhabitants fly for refuge. As soon as they have reached its summit, it is borne, they say, by a supernatural power above the clouds, where it remains till the danger is over. Some years have elapsed since this miracle last took place, yet the story is told with a serious belief of its truth, and with the most amusing gravity. About a quarter of a mile to the north-east of this marvellous hill, rises another, which very much resembles it in shape and appearance, but the latter is rather larger and higher, and overlooks the country for many miles round.
A number of emigrants from different countries reside in this place; there are not a few from Borgoo, Nouffie, Houssa and Bornoo, and two or three Tuaricks from the borders of the Great Desert. To the west of the town is a picturesque hill of a gentle ascent, on which are several small hamlets; these hamlets have a rural and eminently beautiful appearance. In no town through which they had hitherto travelled, had they seen so many fine tall men, and good-looking women, as at this place; yet several individuals of both sexes were to be met with, who had lost the sight of one eye, and others who had unseemly wens on their throats, as large as cocoa nuts. They saw a cripple to-day for the first time, and a female dwarf, whose height scarcely exceeded thirty inches, and whose appearance bespoke her to be between thirty and forty years of age. Her head was disproportionately large to the size of her body; her features, like her voice, were harsh, masculine, and unpleasant in the extreme. It would have been ridiculous to be afraid of such a diminutive thing, but there was an expression in her countenance so peculiarly repulsive, unwomanly, and hideous, that on approaching their hut, they felt a very unusual and disagreeable sensation steal over them. The descriptions of an elf or a black dwarf in the Arabian Nights Entertainments, or modern romances, would serve well to portray the form and lineaments of this singular little being.
It was market day, and Richard Lander took a walk in the evening to the place where the market was held, but the crowd that gathered round him was so great, as to compel him to return home much sooner, than he had intended. If he happened to stand still even for a moment, the people pressed by thousands to get close to him, and if he attempted to go on, they tumbled over one another to get out of his way, overturning standings and calabashes, throwing down their owners, and scattering their property about in all directions. The blacksmiths in particular, welcomed him by clashing their iron tools against each other, and the drummers rejoiced by thumping violently upon one end of their instruments. A few women and children ran from him in a fright, but the majority less timid, approached as near as they could, to catch a glimpse of the first white man they had ever seen. His appearance seemed to interest them amazingly, for they tittered and wished him well, and turned about to titter again. On returning, the crowd became more dense than ever, and drove all before them like a torrent, dogs, goats, sheep, and poultry were borne along against their will, which terrified them so much, that nothing could be heard but noises of the most lamentable description; children screamed, dogs yelled, sheep and goats bleated most piteously, and fowls cackled, and fluttered from among the crowd. Never was such a hubbub made before in the interior of Africa, by the appearance of a white man, and happy indeed was that white man to shelter himself from all this uproar in his own yard, whither the multitude dared not follow him.
The widows of the deceased chief of Keeshee, daily set apart a portion of the twenty-four hours to cry for their bereavement, and pray to their gods. On this evening, they began in the same sad, mournful tone, which is commonly heard on similar occasions all over the country. Richard Lander asked their interpreter, why the women grieved so bitterly, he answered quickly, "What matter! they laugh directly." So it was supposed, that they cried from habit, rather than from feeling, and that they can shed tears and be merry in the same breath, whenever they please. About seven o'clock this evening, they heard a public crier, proclaiming with a loud voice, that should any one be discovered straggling about the streets after that hour, he would be seized and put to death. Many houses in the town had lately been set on fire by incendiaries, and this most likely gave rise to the above precautionary measure.
They were compelled to remain the whole of the following day, on account of the inability of the governor to procure them carriers for their luggage, The number of people who visited them to-day was so great, and their company so irksome, that they were perplexed for some time how to get rid of them without offence. One party in particular was so unpleasant, and they so seriously incommoded them, that they had recourse to the unusual expedient of smoking them off, by kindling a fire at the door of their hut, before which they were sitting. It succeeded agreeably to their wishes.
A company of women and girls from the Fellata village of Acba, impelled by a curiosity so natural to their sex, came likewise to see them in the afternoon, but their society, instead of being disagreeable, as the company of all their other visitors proved to be, was hailed by them with pleasure. For these females were so modest and so retiring, and evinced so much native delicacy in their whole behaviour, that they excited in the breast of the travellers the highest respect: their personal attractions were no less winning; they had fine sparkling jetty eyes, with eyelashes as dark and glossy as the ravens' plume; their features were agreeable, although their complexions were tawny; their general form was elegant; their hands small and delicate, and the peculiar cleanliness of their persons, and neatness of dress added to these, rendered their society altogether as desirable as that of their neighbours was disagreeable.
The Fellatas inhabiting Acba were all born and bred in that town, their ancestors settled in the country at so remote a period, that although some inquiries were made respecting it, all their questions were unavailing, and in fact, not even a tradition has been preserved on the subject. These "children of the soil," lead a harmless, tranquil, and sober life, which they never suffer passing events to disturb; they have no ambition to join their more restless and enterprising countrymen, who have made themselves masters of Alorie and Raka, nor even to meddle in the private or public concerns of their near neighbours of Keeshee. Indeed, they have kept themselves apart and distinct from all; they have retained the language of their fathers, and the simplicity of their manners, and their existence glides serenely and happily away, in the enjoyment of domestic pleasures and social tenderness, which are not always found in civilized society, and which are unknown among their roving countrymen. They are on the best possible terms with their neighbours like the Fellatas at Bohoo and by them are held in great respect.
The governor of Keeshee was a Borgoo man, and boasted of being the friend of Yarro, chief of Kiama, but as the old man told them many wonderful stories of the number of towns under his sway, his amazing great influence, and the entire subjection in which his own people were kept by his own good government, all of which was listened to with patience; they were inclined to believe that the pretensions of the governor were as hollow as they were improbable. As to his government, he gave them a specimen of it, by bawling to a group of children that had followed their steps into the yard, ordering them to go about their business. But every one in this country displayed the same kind of ridiculous vanity, and in the majority of towns which they visited, it was the first great care of their chiefs, to impress on their minds an idea of their vast importance, which in many instances was contradicted by their ragged tobes and squalid appearance. Yet, if their own accounts were to be credited, their affluence and power were unbounded. All truth is sacrificed to this feeling of vanity and vain glory; and considering that in most cases they hold truth in great reverence, they render themselves truly ridiculous by their absurd practice of boasting; every circumstance around them tending to contradict it. In the case of the Landers, however, these toasters had to deal with strangers, and with white men, and perhaps it may be considered as natural, amongst simple barbarians, to court admiration and applause, even if no other means were employed than falsehood and exaggeration. After a deal of talking, tending to no particular subject, from which any useful information could be obtained, the governor of Keeshee begged the favour of a little rum and medicine to heal his foot, which was inclined to swell and give him pain; and another request which he made was, that they would repair a gun, which had been deprived of its stock by fire. He then sung them a doleful ditty, not in praise of female beauty, as is the practice with the songsters of England, but it was in praise of elephants and their teeth, in which he was assisted by his cane bearer, and afterwards took his leave. They received little presents of goora nuts, salt, honey, mi-cadamia, butter, &c., from several inhabitants of the place.