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William Loney RN - Background

Home-Loney-Background-Niger expedition-Book Chapter XII * Chapter XIV

A NARRATIVE
OF THE
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER
.

VOLUME I, CHAPTER XIII.


The 'Wilberforce' and 'Soudan' dispatched across the river to procure fuel - Hostile character of the Natives - Their wars with the Eggarahs - Savage appearance - Arms - Beauty of the country - Ants' nests - Their formation - Snakes - The kola or goora-nut - Town of Wappa - The Chief " Egada Yaluelama" - King Obàh of Benìn - Human sacrifices - Specimens of birds - Snakes - Venomous centipide - African scorpion - Final interview of the Commissioners with the Attàh - The treaty signed and attested - Arabic Bible presented - List of presents - Scene in the Attàh's palace - City of Iddah - Divided into districts - Militia - Houses - Market place - Articles for sale - Cotton manufactures - Native smiths - Arms, &c. - Dying - Method of fishing - The Mallams - Physical character of the natives - Form of government and laws - Cavalry - Sale of charms - Religion of the people - Their notions of God - Human sacrifices - Prospects of Missionary labours - Polygamy - Melancholy death - The 'Wilberforce' gets aground - Fever commences.


While the Commissioners were thus occupied at Iddah, the 'Wilberforce' and 'Soudan' were engaged in procuring fuel on the opposite bank. In this some difficulty was at first experienced, owing to the hostile appearance of the natives, who came out armed in various ways, and appeared to be determined not to allow the Kruman to land. It was thought necessary to beat to quarters, but Mr. Strange, first Lieutenant of the 'Wilberforce,' took the most effectual means of disarming them, by going, himself unarmed, and shaking hands with the principal men.

By means of an interpreter, Granby, who fortunately was born in a neighbouring town, he explained the motives of the visit, with which they expressed their satisfaction, by shouting and waving their hands about, which was meant as a welcome. The country is called Angwileh, and is well cultivated in yams and other vegetables.

It seems the inhabitants of this bank do not admit the authority of the Attàh of Iddah, and are frequently at war with his subjects. They are tributary to the King of Benìn, and supposing our errand was a hostile movement in behalf of their opponents, were quite ready to dispute the point "vi et armis."

None of the Africans we had yet seen were so savage in look and manner. All were armed with rude knives, spears, bows, and quivers full of poisoned arrows, and their resolute independent expression, shewed they were prepared to use them.

One man laid hold of an officer's gun, perhaps only to look at it, and in declining to put it into his hand, it was intimated by a sign that it might kill him, on which the negro pulled out one of his arrows, and, by sundry gestures, gave us to understand that in his opinion, it was quite as deadly and unerring as the white man's weapon. Some of the officers went into the country, and were much pleased with its openness and beauty. The thick underwood was here replaced by a luxuriant grass, twelve and fourteen inches high, and the trees were so far apart and so well arranged, as to give it quite the character of an English park. Here and there, some nice plantations fenced in, contained cassada, yam, pompions, Indian-corn, sugar-cane, all kept clean, and in the best condition of culture.

Some of the largest turret-ant structures, Termites mordax, we ever met in Africa were seen here; they were cylindrical accumulations of clay, in many cases five feet high, each surmounted by a conical top, with overhanging edges, in some there were two or three of these projecting eaves, probably added to repair dilapidations in the original roof caused by tornadoes. A broken and deserted nest displayed the internal arrangements, which were seen to consist of innumerable passages, leading to oblong or oval compartments. All the entrances were from below, near the ground, and necessarily large, to admit so many inhabitants. The Krumen, who see many of these specimens of insect art in their own country, told us the smaller snakes often find their way in, and make such a hearty meal off the poor ants, that they become lethargic, and unable to crawl out again, when the occupants in return devour the unwelcome intruder. This story appeared to be so incredible, that symptoms of doubt were expressed, which induced "Jack Smoke" to vindicate his honour by giving us occular demonstration of the truth of his assertion. He speedily knocked over a mound, and betrayed a small dark-coloured snake, which slowly moved from its lurking-place.

These structures are certainly among the most wonderful specimens of insect architecture, and teach Man how poor and limited are his inventions compared with the wisdom of that Omnipotent Being, who can endow even the tiny Termites with instinct to prepare a dwelling more astonishing than any human work.

Further inland, were many fine cabbage palms (Areca oleracea), the tender and unexpanded heads of which are so nutritious when boiled; but even uncooked, they are juicy and sweet: Also the kola or goora-nut tree, (Sterculia acuminata,) with rich dark leaf, its fruit enclosed in a long shining brown pod, which yields the African his favourite stomachic, and takes the place of the calumet of peace, in the black man's reception of a stranger.

The town of Wappa is about five miles from the river; the road thither is good and open. At the entrance to it, the party was obliged to halt near some lofty and spreading palms, until the chief, Egada Yaluelama, made his appearance, which he did not long delay, in expectation, doubtless, of a "dash" or present from his visitors. He was very civil, offered palm-wine and goora-nuts, and said he would soon get articles for traffic, goats, fowls, &c., and that on the return of the vessels, wood should be ready cut.

His country seems to be populous, and he said to the interpreter, that their King Obah of Benìn could raise 10,000 fighting men. This information, perhaps, was intended to be conveyed to their opposite neighbours, and was probably over-rated.

According to the account they gave of the King of Benìn, he must be most remorseless in the observance of human sacrifices. Independently of the numbers immolated at special feasts, three are destroyed every day; one each morning, noon, and night. The great difficulty in such cases, is to arrive at the truth; the estimated number of victims varying, in all likelihood, with the caprice or love of the marvellous in the relating party. If the people had here been told we came to put down such odious proceedings, they would most certainly have said, as at Abòh and Iddah, "Oh, human sacrifices never take place in Benìn country."

The wooding was carried on actively, the Krumen making the forest echo cheerily with their good-humoured laughter, and the heavy stroke of the axe. The natives, from time to time, came down in little parties; all rather rough in manner, and still more rudely attired, having merely strips of monkey skins, or bunches of grass, to conceal a very small part of their nakedness. In their grass hats were some beautiful scarlet feathers, such as we had not scen in any bird up the river. They were very anxious to procure tobacco, which is singular, as it grows abundantly in the Iddah plantations, though apparently so scarce here. In the long grass, on one of the slopes, some double-spurred francolins (Chaetopus Adansonii) were seen, as also some Guinea fowl. In the neighbouring thickets, we procured the African ox-pecker (Buphaega Africana); plumage smoky-brown and rufous. The rose-winged parrakeet (Palaeornis torquatus), of graceful form; plumage, very rich green, tail blue, a rose-coloured ring round the neck. The grey-headed parrakeet (Psittacus Senegalensis); prevailing plumage green and grey, with orange beneath; the crimson nut-cracker, in its rich brown and crimson; the Senegal lark-heel, the golden oriole, the grenadier weaver, the chesnut-crowned sandfinch (Agrophilus superciliosus), the yellow-bodied weaver. In the vicinity of the overflowed bank, were various prettily marked halcyons; the Senegal grey-headed king-hunter; the little rufous checked king-hunter; the black-throated wagtail (Motacilla gularis), the double-collared king-usher; and the black-bellied weaver (Euplectes melanogaster), in its rich velvet black, brown and yellow.

Snakes were numerous in the dry grass; one very large black one put several of our Krumen to flight. These noxious reptiles are said to be very common all over this part of the country. They are much protected by the natives, who look on them as 'Ju-ju,' or sacred. The venomous centipede (Scolopendra morsilans) was also frequently met with among decayed leaves: it has forty-two feet; the jaws are strong and horny, each furnished, like the sting of the scorpion, with a small tube and aperture, through which the poisonous fluid issues. Its bite produces violent inflammation, difficult of removal, though not often fatal. A less common, though more dangerous, insect is the African scorpion (Scorpio Australis). The body is brown, the legs reddish, the claws are long and filiform. Its sting causes a painful and troublesome wound, which occasionally terminates in a partial slough, or mortification.

Being Saturday evening, all the vessels anchored in the middle of the stream. We were sorry to find two cases of fever had broken out on board the 'Albert,' and two in the 'Soudan,' there were also several persons with premonitory symptoms.

  3 A.M. Ther 78° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  9 A.M. " 79° " 74°,5
  3 P.M. " 83° " 76°
  9 P.M. " 83° " 78°

Monday, Sept. 6th.– After a quiet Sabbath, spent, we trust, in devotion and thankfulness, for having been permitted to come thus far in safety - though with anxiety for the future - we resumed our operations. The 'Albert,' with the Commissioners, returned to the anchorage at Iddah, to finish the diplomatic affairs; while the 'Wilberforce,' went to the opposite bank to complete the wooding.

As we had come to a climate, which Almighty wisdom had adapted to constitutions so different to our own, we were, of course, aware that we courted danger, and could not expect to pass harmless, where it had proved so fatal to others. The symptoms of the effect of this deadly climate, which had warned us on Saturday, were this day confirmed by the addition of three cases of fever in the 'Albert.' In the 'Wilberforce,' several men were complaining, and unfit for duty. In the little ' Soudan,' Mr. Ellis, the first lieutenant, and Mr. Marshall, surgeon, were added to the list.

Lobo, the chief judge, whose gentlemanly appearance we had so much noticed "at court," came to breakfast on board the 'Albert,' by invitation. His dress, though not so gay as on Saturday, was still handsome, and perhaps much more costly, especially his inner garment, a white cotton tobe, which was covered all over with passages from the Koran, neatly written and tastefully arranged by Mahomedan priests, or 'Mallams,' for which they are well paid. Another tobe was of crimson silk, quilted. Okien, also, the son and successor of our late worthy friend, Abokko, came on board to say 'Gaï sheka!' 'Good morning.' He seemed very well disposed to profit by the friendly recollections professed for his good old father, whose death was sincerely regretted. Okien was on his way to Kiri market. Both Lobo and he, said that this market belongs to the Attàh, and that his word there is law. The canoe had thirty-two paddles, and sixteen passengers; whether the latter were free or slaves, could not be ascertained.

Preparations were made by the Commissioners for going on shore, to conclude the Treaty in due form and solemnity. Commander W. Allen, being very unwell, did not accompany them, but signed it on board. Captains Trotter and Bird Allen, with Mr. Cook, went attended by several officers, It was late before they reached the shore.

The Commissioners then had a final interview with the Attàh, who, in his anxiety to see the presents, did not keep them waiting, as on the former occasion, but was, in fact, ready to give immediate audience. He was very affable, agreed to all the articles of a Treaty, similar to that entered into by Obi Osaï, of Abòh, containing also a special clause against the continuance of human sacrifices in the Eggarah country; and a cession of such land as the Commissioners might desire at a reasonable price, for the establishment of a model farm, or other settlements. He likewise guaranteed the safe conveyance of letters and messengers through his dominions, by land or water, and to give them every assistance.

Hakah, the second judge; Mallam Sabah, or, abbreviated, Ma'Sabah, and the Attàh's private secretary, Baje, were ordered to accompany the Commissioners, to act as agents in the sale and transfer of the required territory: - the terms on which the arrangements were to be concluded, having been again explained to the Attàh.

The Treaties were then read over, and signed, in triplicate, by the Commissioners, and by Lobo, the chief judge, on the part of the Attàh, it being contrary to custom for the latter to write.

The signatures to the Treaty were witnessed and attested by Hakah, the second judge, and Gibberin, a 'Mallam,' and several officers of the 'Albert.' Not one of the Attàh's people could write his own name; so the usual cross-mark was substituted. The etiquette of the country, probably, saved the Attàh also from an exposure of his ignorance.

The Mallams are the most enlightened persons, but few even of them can write, and although they pretend to read some scraps of the Koran from Arabic manuscripts, these have generally been acquired by rote. An Arabic Bible, which had been presented to the Attàh, was handed to the head Mallam, who, in virtue of his office, was supposed to be learned. He accordingly looked through it with becoming gravity, but unfortunately for his credit, with us at least, he held it upside down.

The following presents were then laid before the Attàh: -
One double-barelled gun.
One pair of ornamented pistols.
One gilt sabre.
One case with scissors, razor and knife.
Twelve hatchets.
Two hand-saws.
Twelve hoes.
One silk velvet tobe.
One velvet cap.
One pair silk trowsers.
One silk waistcoat.
Ten yards of crimson silk.
Ten yards of Merino.
Five yards of scarlet cloth.
Five yards of blue cloth.
Two pieces of printed cotton.
Four strings of beads.
Two cut garnet necklaces.
Two pair of bracelets.
Two bangles.
One piece of shirting.
One piece of Madapollan.
One printed muslin tobe.
One piece of baft.
One pair of boots.
One pair of slippers.
One large looking-glass.
Twelve small looking-glasses.
One elephant gun.
One drum.
One tambourine.
One large silk umbrella.
One piece of Turkey red twill.
Two pieces of handkerchiefs.
One telescope.
Twelve padlocks.
Two lamps.
Twelve snuff-boxes.
Twelve coronation medals.
Twelve nuptial medals.
One piece of muslin, gold and mull.
Five ounces of real coral.
One quire of writing paper.
Twelve spectacles.
Two pair of ear-rings.
One oil press.

The judges and other principal men, were also presented with some European articles, with which they were quite delighted. But the Attàh affecting magnanimity, expressed some dissatisfaction and indifference about them, although by the manner he examined the double-barrelled gun, and the green silk velvet tobe, &c., it was evident he was inwardly rejoicing over gifts which he could scarcely purchase with half his kingdom. Having received a promise that the Treaty should be immediately promulgated throughout the Eggarah country, and given an intimation to the Attàh, that the white men in all the ships would ask for a blessing on the him and his people, the Commissioners left the palace of Ochejih.

The populace testified their approbation, by shoutings and clapping of hands, and numbers accompanied them down to the place of embarkation.

Two of the officers, who had forgotten some papers at the Attàh's palace, went back, and unexpectedly entering an apartment where the potentate and his headmen were assembled, found him divested of all his insignia of office, reduced to an ordinary size by the removal of the cotton paddings, &c., and with nothing but a country cloth round his waist. He and his attendants were all eagerly examining the presents, and laughing immoderately, but dispensing with the offices of fan-bearers, who were no longer required to screen the august features from the vulgar gaze. So much for the Attàh of Eggarah.

The city of Iddah, the largest and the most important town in the kingdom of Eggarah, is built on the summit of the cliff, which rises nearly two hundred feet above the river. It extends in a direction nearly north and south; towards the latter point, it again sinks into a low, somewhat undulating, country. The land on the north side also slopes downwards, but again rises into a hill of greater altitude than that of Iddah. There are, on a rough computation, about two thousand huts, with a probable population of eight to nine thousand. On all sides are plantations kept in nice order, and containing Indian corn (Sorghum rubens), sugar-cane (Arundo saccharum), calabash pumpion (Fueillea trilobata), ground nuts (Arachis hpyogea), bird pepper (Capsicum frutescans), okra (Hibiscus esculentis), the unripe pods of which contain reddish, well flavoured seeds, and are often used in soups, which they improve very much, by affording a nutritious gelatinous matter; African yam (Dioscoria alata); Tephrosia Toxicaria, a leguminous plant, producing a fine indigo; and tobacco in abundance.

Iddah is divided into a great many villages or districts, each under the governance of a chief, who is responsible to the Attàh. The palace of the latter is situated in the most secure place, being naturally protected towards the river by the abrupt and precipitous cliffs, while, on the other sides, are the surrounding villages, as well as an intermediate thick mud wall, which encloses it perfectly. It is, moreover, guarded by a militia, armed with spears, a few muskets, and swords, some of them not unlike those of ancient Rome. In time of war these men have specially to defend the Attàh.

Nearly all the dwellings at Iddah are circular, the walls rise about six feet and are built of clay and small stones intermixed. The roof is conical, made of palm-leaves and a thick Cyperaceous plant, somewhat resembling that from which the Egyptian papyrus was manufactured. It is sometimes supported in the centre by a wooden pillar, often rudely decorated with red and yellow clay. The overhanging edge of the roof protects from sun and rain the clay seats which surround the hut where the family usually sit, it rests on a number of posts, some curiously carved, and forms a low verandah.

When there is a door, it is carved in an elaborate manner, with a rude sketch of an alligator or some other animal; the fastening is a bolt and a rough padlock, these are, however, seldom required. The furniture and utensils are few, and generally lying about the court, such as large earthenware jars for water, which being spherical, have not the wherewithal to stand alone, and are therefore placed on rings of grass, and by which they are also supported on the heads of the female water-bearers when taken to the river side to be replenished; the cooking apparatus are small calabashes and earthern pots of various form. The machine used for pounding the red wood and other dyes, resemble very much the mills found at Pompeii, except that they are wood instead of stone; and being hollow, they are occasionally employed as adjuncts to the native musical bands, instead of drums.

On the roofs of most of the dwellings, the griffon or fulvous vulture takes up his quarters, patiently watching for any offal which may be thrown out, and which he soon appropriates. The goats, sheep and fowls, seem to have here as undisputed a right to the premises generally, as Paddy's unclean pigs in our sisterland.

The huts of the higher persons, as Mallams, chiefs, or judges, are painted blue or white outside, and have occasionally a small space in front paved with pieces of granite, or even shells. The sleeping-places are simply raised banks of clay, having mats and some dry grass spread over them; the low wooden-seats sometimes met with were articles of particular luxury. Everything inside the building is kept remarkably clean and dry. In the economy of their dwellings, the higher classes observe the same protective system as the Attàh, having the huts of subordinates and slaves, and often a clay wall, surrounding them, so that in the event of an attack, their persons or houses are less exposed.

The streets are very irregular and numerous; the principal market is held in the Attàh's or northern division, on a clear level space, shaded by numerous trees. It is arranged according to the directions of the chiefs, all articles being properly classed and exposed for sale on the ground, or on mats. There was a great variety of vegetables, yams, ground-nuts, palm-nuts, cassada, kola-nuts, plantains, Indian-corn, sugar-cane, cocoa-nuts, rice, shen butter, calabash pumpions; various native manufactures of cotton, for tabes and body clothes; red and blue cotton and grass threads, raw cotton of very short staple; native made swords, knives, spears, and little calabashes of dye powders, tephrosia, oxides of iron and camwood, as also brass and ivory ornaments for the body, and pipes of clay, or iron very neatly made.

Cowries (Cyprea moneta) are the only medium of circulation; but much of the business is done by bartering such articles as each may require. When the value of anything is below that of a cowry, they substitute as an equivalent four or five ground-nuts,

Everything is conducted with the greatest order, and with less noise than one usually expects in an African market. All cases of dispute are brought before the proper judges. As we walked through the place, we were quietly and respectfully saluted, on all sides, with the usual ' Sinùh, God protect you,' or 'Prosperity,' and they seemed well pleased to have white men among them, showing their various articles for sale with much good nature and politeness, not pressing them on a purchaser, as is too commonly the case in our own markets.

The Attàh levies a small tax on all the productions brought thither for sale. As but few European articles find their way up here under present circumstances, the natives are obliged to depend very much on their own industry and ingenuity for nearly all they require, except gunpowder and muskets, both of which are eagerly sought after, and bring high prices.

The most common manufacture is that of cotton cloths, practised by a great number of females. In spinning, the primitive distaff is used, such as is usually seen in Italy, or in some of our own mountain districts, where the spinning wheel is not always obtainable. The thread is rough and uneven, but when carefully woven into narrow stripes by a rude machine - very like the earliest of our hand-looms - it forms a strong and durable cloth, much dearer than the English cottons brought there, and of course only within reach of wealthy people. The dye-pits are very numerous all over the town, and are kept constantly more or less filled, as they believe the older the dye-liquid, the stronger the effect on the cloth. The tephrosia which is used for the blue, is moistened, made up into little balls, then dried, and thus exposed for sale; the red dye is probably a species of tesphesia or camwood, it is mostly in a powder. The cloth is kept saturated in the pit for a fortnight, and sometimes three weeks, and certainly the colours are most beautiful; but as they have not the aid of chemistry to supply a proper mordant, they are not permanent. A white tobe is usually worn under a newly dyed blue one, and it soon becomes charged with colour.

[illustration: Native Manufacturers at Iddah]

The next most important occupation, is that of smith and armourer, They are said not to have any method of smelting iron, the ore of which is very abundant, but depend entirely on the supply from the coast, as also such few working tools as are possessed. Their native implements are rude, yet the swords, spear-heads, arrows, are well tempered and not badly finished, The bellows are merely two wooden cylinders, each with a piston, and a piece of loose hide securely fastened round the handle and the top of the tube; by alternately depressing one and raising the other, a continuous current of air is conveyed through earthern pipes leading to the fire. Many of the swords we saw were of admirable metal, nicely engraved, and a few inlaid with portions of deeper coloured or more highly oxydized iron. Charcoal, in small square pieces, is burned instead of common fuel, and to this may, perhaps, be attributed the fine temper of the manufactures.

The preparation of leather is another useful branch of industry; the tree from which they procure the requisite tannin is liguminous, and we believe it to be the Pterocarpus Senegalensis. Sheep-skins and goat-skins are mostly turned to account this way, and when cut up into stripes, are neatly plaited into bridles, necklaces, armlets, belts, whips, fly-fans and cushions; the hides of larger animals being tanned for the soles of the sandals worn by the richer persons.

Fishing is followed chiefly by slaves - they use nets made of the twisted fibres of the plantain leaf, and either stake off certain parts of shallow water, or employ large circular nets, which they suspend over the banks, and let down and draw up every few minutes, throwing in a bait to entice the fish to approach, and sometimes a vegetable poison which soon kills the fish.

It must be admitted, from all we saw, that the Eggarah people are industrious, and evidently more advanced in civilization than their neighbours, lower down the river. Their grounds are much better cultivated, manufactures more encouraged, and their social comforts increasing. How far these may be connected with, or influenced by, the superior knowledge of the Mallams or Mahommedan priests, we know not. If such be the case, how much encouragement for the promotion among them of Christianity, with all its attendant blessings!

The well-known effects of locality on the development of the human body, receives also a confirmation in the inhabitants of Iddah, where the greater altitude of the district, and its superior dryness, operate in their favour. The people are generally well made, and of the middling stature - indeed, the flowing and ample tobe gave many an appearance of height somewhat above that. The features are more softened and rounded than the Ibus. The lips protrude, but are less thick, the forehead ample, though retreating. Altogether they have a look of superior intelligence.

Here, as at Abòh, the natives assured us the rainy season was the most healthy, that when the water began to decline, there was always much sickness even among them - that small-pox then raged very often with dreadful violence, and when once it commenced, it never ceased without an immense mortality. This, we trust, will now be gradually limited by the introduction of the vaccine. Craw-craw, or African psora, is always common among the poor and dirty. Their fevers, although active in character, are not very often fatal.

The Government of the Eggarah country is monarchical, and vested in the Attàh or King of Iddah, the succession is hereditary in the female line, the eldest son of the sister; thus, it is said, Ochejih, the present Attàh, succeeded, taking precedence of the many children of the former King. Under certain circumstances, which we could not ascertain, the sovereign has the right of nominating a successor. The above mode of succession through a sister's son, is exactly the same as obtains among the Ashantis, and is one of the many strange coincidences observable in the social policy of some others of the West African tribes.

The Attàh's power is said to be arbitrary, but still kept within bounds by the influence of the headmen, and by the dread of being quietly removed by secret poison.

All important subjects are discussed in an assembly of the judges, Mallams and headmen, the Attàh presiding. Minor disputes or offences are settled or punished by the judges, of whom there are several. Lobo, the Ogboëh or first judge, and Hakah Saïje, second, being also commanders of the forces in time of war. In answer to many inquiries, it could not be elicited that the Eggarahs make inroads on other states for the purpose of taking slaves. They depend more on defensive than offensive warfare, but all captives are retained, or sold as slaves. With the exception of Mallams or priests, every able-bodied man is liable to be called out in seasons of difficulty, and enrolled in divisions having appropriate officers. They are armed with spears, and swords, as also bows with poisoned arrows, but the musket is much preferred to the latter. They have a limited number of cavalry, mounted on the small, thin, though powerful horses which are chiefly brought from above the confluence, or from the hill country to the eastward. Unlike the Ibu people, they pay little attention to the arming of canoes, their general employment being more on land than on water. Mazamba, a Mallam, officiates as minister of war.

The whole of the religious power is confided to the Mallams or priests, who are all unlettered Mahommedans, but who have had the advantage of travelling in other parts of Africa, where, in addition to a few sentences of the Koran, and an imperfect knowledge of the great Prophet's doctrines, they have picked up a good idea of business, which they combine with the duties of their office.

They also monopolize the medical branch, in which they are as ignorant as their more sacred one. Another of their most lucrative sources is the sale of amulets, or charms against the visitation of sickness and the agency of evil spirits; they are made up of any written paper which may come in their way, and usually enclosed in neatly plaited strips of leather to be suspended from the neck.

A certain Israelitish operation - performed by the Mallams, - is here generally, but not universally adopted; this, with a rude and painful method of scarifying and cupping is the only attempt made at surgery.

The Mallams were initiated by Dr. McWilliam and the other medical officers, into the practice of vaccination, and as it would add to their importance and emolument, it may probably become general, and prove at least one beneficial result of the Expedition.

The greater proportion of the Iddah people are Pagans, though with a confused impression of Mahomedanism, which obtains more among the richer persons, who can afford to pay the Mallams for such limited instruction as they can convey orally. No public idols are allowed, yet most of them have little amulets, which hold much the same place in their estimation as the wooden Fetiches of the Ibus and other tribes.

They have all a clearer notion of God as an Almighty Ruler and Divinity, than any negroes we had met with, and offer up their prayers direct to Him, but they believe in the intermediate agency of good and evil spirits, charms, and Mallam influence. They look forward to a heaven and hell, or places where good or wicked people are hereafter to inhabit; this is most likely derived from the extraordinary views their religious preceptors hold up to them of the Islam scale of rewards and punishments.

Human sacrifices always take place on the death of the King; on which occasion, one or more wives, and several eunuchs of his establishment, are killed, to accompany the great man in the new world he has entered upon. Every sovereign, on coming to the throne, does this also, to exemplify the control which his position gives him over the lives of his people. The natives do not regard the subject with horror or antipathy. Amada Bue, the Attàh's sister, even said she would like to be sacrificed to attend her husband.

The conferences which took place with the authorities during our stay here, shewed an evident wish on the part of the people for the establishment of white settlers, and Christian teachers. Attached though they be, so strongly to their own customs and religion, they cannot help seeing, that Europeans, of even the lowest caste - and such as they more commonly have a knowledge of from their connexion with the Slave Trade, are their superiors in those points most coveted by the carnal heart - power and wealth; and it is probable, that if the climate admitted the possibility of white men settling there, the natives would soon adopt their suggestions for the improvement of agriculture and trade. We must not, however, presume, from the advance Mahomedanism has there made, that the Christian religion would also be as readily engrafted. On the contrary, we must candidly confess our fears, that this partial success of the great Impostor's disciples, may be one of the greatest obstacles to any missionary attempt, whenever, or by whomsoever made; particularly as it meets the sensual taste, and long-established custom of keeping large harems.

Polygamy is permitted, but the first wife is the principal, and arranges the affairs of the harem. The usual number of wives is three, but the Attàh has a much greater establishment. There are no restrictions on the women, as in most other Mahomedan countries; all are allowed to be looked at, and to walk about with unveiled faces. The principal attendants about the Attàh's residence are eunuchs: they are numerous, and are much confided in by their despotic master.

This afternoon, a beautiful specimen of antelope passed the vessel, swimming down the stream: it had probably been on some overflowed bank, and carried off by the late freshes. Some of the 'Albert's' boats pushed off soon after, in apparent haste, and it was supposed in the other vessels that they had gone to pick it up; but we found, on returning from an unavailing search, that Johnson, one of the 'Albert's' crew, a native of Iddah, who was so useful as an interpreter in the late negociations, had fallen over-board. He was said to have been slightly intoxicated; and, to render the matter more painful, there were several canoes alongside the ship when the accident occurred, and they could with ease have saved him; but not one of his hard-hearted countrymen put forth a helping hand, or offered the least assistance.

The unfortunate man had been taken away as a slave many years previously, and having been recaptured, and brought to Sierra Leone, he was educated, and had even been advanced to the situation of catechist. After a very long absence from his native place, he returned to find a relative on the throne of Iddah, and all seemed to promise well for future residence among his countrymen, when he was thus suddenly cut off.

In the meantime, the 'Wilberforce,' in coming over from the opposite shore, where she had been for a supply of wood, unfortunately got aground on the upper point of an island, against which the current ran so strong, that it was found impossible to get her off immediately; the 'Albert' having carried away a couple of hawsers in making the attempt. To add to the difficulty of our position, fever was decidedly spreading. Rabbling, a sapper, and Lucas, boatswain's mate, a very active and powerful man, have both been suddenly prostrated; many more are complaining of incipient symptoms, and in all the other vessels, several persons already attacked, are in a dangerous condition.

  3 A.M. Ther. 79° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  9 A.M. " 80° " 76°
  3 P.M. " 81° " 75°
  9 P.M. " 80° " 76°

7th.- We were employed all day, endeavouring to heave the 'Wilberforce' off; but without effect. The 'Albert' tried to do it with steam; but, having been again unsuccessful, we laid the stream anchor out and commenced lightening the vessel as much as possible.

Captain Bird Allen went to the King to make some explanations, which afforded an opportunity for further demands for his headmen.

The number of cases of fever in all the vessels has increased. This evening, one of the 'Albert's' stokers, John Peglar, expired after a short illness, having only been seized with the fatal fever on the 4th.

  3 A.M. Ther. 78° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  9 A.M. " 80° " 75°
  3 P.M. " 84° " 76°
  9 P.M. " 75° " 73°

8th.– Heavy rain in the night. At daylight, renewed our exertions. Brought all the weights from the fore-hold to the quarter-deck. A bower anchor was laid well out on the port bow, which we had difficulty in doing; and, by the additional purchase of a runner and tackle on it, we succeeded in heaving off. Until we had this anchor out, all our trouble in lightening was of no use, as the strong current forced the fore part of the vessel higher on the island. Employed clearing the ship, and restowing the fore-hold. We got under weigh in the evening, but only proceeded sufficiently far, to be out of the influence of the noxious exhalations. The river rose very fast, and nearly all the end of the island on which we grounded, was under water. The few huts on the spot were rendered uninhabitable, their foundations sapped, and some thrown down by the flood.

Among the reeds, which yet appeared on parts of English Island, a very beautiful and new species of Sultana, or water-hen, was procured - the Porphyrio Allenii since figured in D.W. Mitchell's splendid work on Ornithology. The prevailing colours of this bird were rich dark green above, softening off into violet; the upper part of head, deep violet, breast blue, and vent, white. The plumage of the young bird is brown, with a black, well-marked arrow down the breast. It has a very singular appearance.

[illustration: Mountains below the Confluence]

In the evening, the effluvium from the stagnant water and decayed vegetable matter, was extremely offensive. This, therefore, joined to exposure to the sun in heaving the vessel off the bank, was probably an exciting cause of some of our first fevers. We had six men in the sick-list, the 'Albert' many more; the cases as yet, however, appeared to be slight. Commander W. Allen was unwell, caused doubtless by fatigue and exposure.

  3 A.M. Ther 78° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 75°
  9 A.M. " 78° " 75°
  3 P.M. " 84° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 77° " 74°

9th.– On leaving Iddah, we went over to the Angwileh side, to land Granby, who, having been informed, that his mother was living in a village at a short distance, requested permission to go and see her. We therefore paid him his wages in goods, gave him a present for the chief, and told him, if he wished to return to the white men, he would be received at the model farm, about to be established at the confluence. {He never made his appearance there.} We grounded once, and encountered the tail of a squall, which seemed to rage heavily among the hills. Anchored for a short time to trim ship, as she would not steer in shallow water, being too much by the stern.

We then proceeded up the river. The scenery was beautiful in the extreme; the Kong mountains right ahead, and the banks on either side finely wooded. Passed Kiri market, and saw several canoes going down the river, with slaves and small horses. Kiri Island looked like a magnificent park, and the grass, at a little distance, resembled a well-cropped lawn, the tops being level, but the grass was at least ten feet high, growing in a deceitful swamp.

Several large crocodiles have been passed to-day; some on the banks, and others in the water, looking very much like a part of a tree, as they move slowly with the stream near the surface.

The channel is here very rocky.

  3 A.M. Ther. 79° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 75°
  9 A.M. " 79° " 75°
  3 P.M. " 76° " 73°
  9 P.M. " 76° " 73°

10th.– On arriving at Barràga, or Beaufort Island, in order to prove its doubted insularity, we entered the channel which separates it from the main bank. On both sides, the land is well cultivated, and on the slope of Mount Etse (Soracte), advantage has been taken of small spaces of good soil among the rocks. The population appears great, and is of the Kakanda nation. We found the channel very winding, and several small rivers as tributaries. The island has a ridge of rocks running through it, terminating in a hill - an excellent site for a fort. {Barràga, or Beaufort Island, is of granite, much decomposed on the surface, which is rough from the projection of felspar crystals. This granite contains little mica, and is composed of felspar and quartz, with a small quantity of hornblende. The blocks are piled one upon another, like masonry, and the soil between them is a rich loam. At Okaji, the granite is large, crystalline, and contains very beautiful opalescent felspar.- Dr. Stanger's Geol. Report.} All the other parts are now covered with water. Anchored for a short time in the channel, and sent a, boat on shore with the master and second master, to take astronomical observations on Dagona (the little Terrys), one of several rocky islets at the north end of Barràga, where we afterwards ascertained one of the 'Soudan's' men had been buried. Their operations over, and being in the act of stowing away the instruments, they observed a large black snake, coiled up between the legs of the theodolite. They were, as may be supposed, rather startled; but, after gazing at them coolly for some time, the reptile slowly unbent his coils, and gliding away, left them unharmed.


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