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William Allen's Narratve of the 1841 Niger expedition
|► The 1841 Niger expedition ► Book||Chapter III Chapter V|
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER.
VOLUME I, CHAPTER IV.
Departure from St. Vincent - Watering at Tarafal Bay - St. Antonio - Orange groves - Plants - Phosphorescence of the sea - Luminous acalephae - Precursory signs of a tornado - Curious appearance of the sea - Sierra Leone - Polite attentions of the acting Governor - Engage the interpreters and Krumen - Ludicrous names - Schooner purchased - Free-town - Markets - Abundance of fruit - African fruit-sellers - Violent tornado - Some Aku people killed while worshipping the lightning - Awful spectacle - Botany - Liberated Africans - Remarks on the condition of the colony - Missionary labours - Flight of locusts - Leave Sierra Leone - Arrival at Cape Mesurado Liberia, prospects of its advancement - Vegetation - Soil - Leewardly character of the vessels - Sinu River - Intermarriage of Fishmen and Blue-Barra people.
Wednesday, June 16.- In the evening of this day we had completed all our preparations except water, of which none was to be procured at this island; we were therefore obliged to separate from the 'Albert;' which vessel having sufficient for the passage, sailed for Sierra Leone. The 'Soudan'and transports were ordered to make the best of their way to Cape Coast Castle.
In order to obtain a supply of that most essential article, especially in a tropical climate - where water is appreciated in a way that can hardly be conceived in our colder regions - it was necessary to go to Tarafal Bay, in the island of St. Antonio, where we arrived too late in the evening to distinguish the watering-place, so as to be able to take the best berth for our operations.
17th.- In the morning we discovered the watering-place, marked by a little plantation a short way up the hill, on this otherwise barren part of the island. The water is found in a scanty little brook, at an inconvenient distance from the shore; we therefore had to conduct it to a reservoir lower down; where, however, the soil was of such a thirsty nature, that a large portion was lost before we could fill the casks by means of an engine and hoses leading to the boats.
A schooner, of a very suspicious appearance, arrived with her decks crowded with men enough for any pirate. A boat was sent to examine her, and it appeared by the papers, that the vessel - which was a captured slaver - had been sold to a Spaniard, on condition that he should take the accumulated prisoners from various slave vessels to the Havannah. The captain had formerly commanded a schooner in this abominable traffic; but said, that having married the daughter of the Governor of Bona-vista, who had so great a horror of the practice, he had yielded to her prejudices and solicitations, though not convinced by her arguments, and had consented to follow in future a more legitimate mode of commerce.
St. Antonio is at once the most beautifully diversified and the most productive of the Cape de Verds. It is well covered with trees, and useful vegetables are cultivated without much labour. Oranges, limes, bananas, plantains and yams are plentiful at most seasons. Of late years it has produced a fair quantity of cochineal. Though not long introduced, it is found to answer admirably, and as the cactus is everywhere rapidly extending, the insect will be a valuable addition to the slender exports of the place.
In the evening, some of the officers took a stroll to the neighbouring quintas; at one of which they had the pleasure of passing a few hours in the cool refreshing shade of an orange grove, where a Portuguese "Cantador" accompanied by his guitar, sang some very pretty and enlivening airs, of which "Donna Maria da Gloria," was a frequent theme; while the beams of the silvery goddess of night faintly struggled through the surrounding foliage, giving it so much the character of romance as to enable them for a little space to forget the awful reality in which they were soon about to be engaged.
On the south side of the bay, a lime-stone bed was found on a cliff about twenty-five feet above the sea, containing some very large specimens of Buccinium and Conus. Close to the shore were many Asclepas gigantea, the shining coriaceous leaves of which attracted notice even from on board ship. The plantation consisted chiefly of some sugar-canes, cotton, papaya, citrons, guava, ricinus, curcas and figs. Higher up the valley, bananas were principally grown, as well as Cassia occidentalis, Cocos and Capsicums. Amongst the plants on the sandy shore, were frequently Argemone, Heliotropium; a Sonchus, several grasses, &c. The other indigenous plants correspond mostly with those of St. Vincent, but flourish better here: the same Sida was common; the usual Euphorbia, prostrata ? Cassia obovata; Tribulus terrestris; the leafless Asclepiadea of St. Vincent; the Borago Africana; Tamarix Senegalensis were also found here. In that part of the plantation nearest the shore there is an Indigophera, a new species of Phaca, Phaca micrantha, and a species of Plumbago, which if scandens, mentioned as belonging to St. Jago, must be indigenous on these islands.
The brook in the main valley was full of bamboo, which looked very pretty, especially when intertwined with convolvulus, near a small cascade. Along the brook were also an Epilobium, Plantago, Cyperus, Samolus valerandi. Orchilla is chief exported from this island.
Friday, June 18.- Having with difficulty completed our water, we sailed at 1 P.M. We had at first very light airs; but on clearing the land, the trade-wind blew with great force, accompanied by a very heavy chopping sea; which together with the "top hamper" of a large quantity of coals on deck, caused us to roll very heavily, whereby the head of the foremast was supposed to be sprung; and we were for some time in a most uncomfortable condition, till finding it was not possible to weather St. Jago, we were obliged to alter our course and get into smoother water.
The brilliant phosphorescence of the sea this evening attracted our attention. The luminosity was so great, that by its reflection, alternate light and shade were strongly marked on the lower studding-sail, as it flapped backwards and forwards in the light flaws of wind; and some of the water having been carefully examined under a powerful compound microscope, two very minute species of gelatinous animalcule were discovered, one of these was a microscopically small Medusidae, of which some were in clusters, others single, and yet when magnified four hundred times, did not look larger than a grain of sand, yet each produced a scintillation of light. The other more scarce species was an elongated Polypus, resembling a series of small tubes placed in, and graduated one above the other, and somewhat convoluted. In this experiment, as in all others, it was necessary to agitate the water to elicit the phosphorescence.
21st.- During the last two days, we have passed a great number of Campanulate Acalephae of almost every colour; but the most prevalent had a disc of reddish-brown or yellow, in diameter from one-fourth of an inch to two inches and a half. In one which we examined, the colour seemed to depend on the contents of the stomach which was a yellowish fluid. Some others, at night only emitted a phosphorescent light on being moved about in the water; and many were observed near the ship, the size of the luminous portion appearing to increase or diminish with the contractions or dilatations of the gelatinous mass.
The N.E. trade-wind lasted only a few days after leaving the Cape de Verd Islands, we lost it about the latitude 14° North, and longitude 23° West; after which the wind was variable, principally from the S.E.; and on nearing Sierra Leone, we had occasional gusts from S.W. with heavy rain.
The first tornado which saluted our approach to the coast of Africa, was on the morning of June the 23rd, at 8.30 A.M., in latitude 13° North, and longitude 18° West. It was preceded by all the indications which, to a person accustomed to them, would be received as sufficient warning. There generally appears at first, a tumultuous assemblage of clouds in all parts of the heavens; these gradually - as if by concert - hurry towards the east, where they assume their stations; forming by degrees a long low arch, extending about six points of the compass. In proportion as the lower edge of this becomes more defined, and increases in the intensity of darkness, so may the near approach of the tornado be expected; and almost immediately after the complete formation of the arch, the squall of wind bursts upon the vessel, and woe betide her if sufficient precautions have not been taken to avoid the effects of its fury after such ample notice has been given. Vessels, the fate of which remain unknown, may have been the victims of such neglect; or from having underrated the power of the winds in these storms, which indeed have their variations in strength and duration; but they are always appalling, preceded as they are, by a breathless atmosphere, and apparent stagnation in all things, as if mute nature awaited the fearful catastrophe. The universal stillness is only broken by the solemn preparatory note of distant rumbling thunder, accompanied by fitful flashes of lightning. Not long, however, does "mute expectation wait;" the imprisoned wind rushes through the low, dark portals of that awful arch, compressed as it were, and constrained to a horizontal direction; its approach is palpable for miles in distance, but for a very brief space in time; levelling all distinctions among the o'ertopping waves, by cutting off their summits, and carrying them far away in the form of "spoon-drift," it creates a mist which renders every surrounding object indistinct. Meanwhile, the opening heavens deluge us with torrents of rain, we are stunned with thunder of such depth of tone, blinded by lightning of such vividness and rapidity of succession, as can only be conceived by those who have witnessed the war of elements in a tropical climate. The spectator of such a scene, let his heart be ever so unreflecting or callous, will not fail in this wondrous moment, to bow in spirit to the Almighty Ruler, who "rides the whirlwind and directs the storm." The fury of the tornado lasts but a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, and is followed by some hours' rain; it then clears up and the temperature is delightful. It is usual to prepare for these visitants by furling everything, except the foretopmast-staysail, or some other head-sail, which flaps idly till it feels the first overpowering force of the gust, when it instantly bellies forward to bursting, and, aided by the helm, "pays the vessel off." She flies before the wind while it lasts, accompanied by the blinding "spoon-drift," the wild screams of sea birds, and the roar of the electric strife overhead: nature then assumes her placid aspect, we set our sails, and continue our course "in gladness."
The invariable direction of the wind on the coast of Africa, E.N.E., during these tornadoes, causes every vessel to run away from them without danger, as they blow from the shore; and their short duration does not carry them far out of their course. As our ships were of iron, some apprehended greater danger from the lightning; but this very fact, perhaps, was the cause of safety - humanly speaking - for they were complete conductors, fore and aft, and there was possibly a constant current of the electric fluid, passing through them during the continuance of the tornado.
We passed a quantity of the so-called "whales' food," a collection of small brown particles, like dust, some floating on the surface of the water on examination appeared to be minute filamentous Confervae. The increased temperature of the sea shewed we were within the influence of the Gulf-stream, though little of the gulf weed (Fucus natans) was to be seen. When passing the mouths of the rivers Nunez and Ponga, even at the distance of sixty miles from land, a long line of foam was seen, like breakers, marking the boundary of the strife between the sea and the immense volume of fresh water poured from these rivers, and by which it is overcome.
Saturday, June 26.- On approaching the anchorage at Sierra Leone, all were agreeably surprised with the rich and varied appearance of the settlement and surrounding country. In passing along, on the right hand, various villages are observed, laid out in neat order; with the large and graceful banana tree, in the small patches of well cultivated ground attached to the huts, and other indications of order and some industry; while the mountains, well-wooded and rising gradually as a background, afford a pleasing picture, quite at variance with the idea one is apt to form of Sierra Leone, from its charnel-house character. But we were now in the most favourable period for seeing nature bursting forth in luxuriant vegetation, and resplendent with the full tropical freshness of the commencing rainy season.
The 'Albert' had been here two days; and three days after our arrival, the 'Soudan' was obliged to put in for coals, having been separated from the transport, which was to have accompanied her from Porto Grande to Cape Coast Castle. We found that Mr. Carr, the Queen's Advocate, brother to the superintendent of our Model Farm, was Acting-Governor, in consequence of the death of Sir John Jeremy. On presenting our letter to his Honour, from Lord John Russell, he showed every disposition to afford us all the assistance in his power for the furtherance of the objects of our visit. He said in a conversation on the subject of intercourse with the interior, it was his intention to renew the communication with the large and important town of Timbo; which had formerly been frequent, but had been broken off by the Mandingoes, and other intermediate nations. We agreed, that in the event of our reaching the upper parts of the Niger, it would be desirable to send a messenger to Sierra Leone by that route; and fortunately a very intelligent native of Timbo, named Mahomet Lamina entered at the last moment before our departure, as interpreter on board the 'Wilberforce,' with a view of undertaking this journey, which he had frequently made, being well acquainted with the country.
One of the objects of our visit to this place, was to procure about one hundred Negroes, to be employed in various departments of the expedition. Of these the greater number were Krumen, to assist in the working of the vessels, and especially to save the white men from exposure to the sun and heavy rains. A considerable number of these men are always here waiting for employment; having, as it were, devoted themselves to the English; and both men-of-war and merchant ships take a gang on their arrival on the coast, for the purposes before mentioned. There appeared, however, to be some prejudice among them, and a dislike to river navigation, so that the best men did not come forward very willingly at first; nevertheless our party, under "Jack Andrews," were a fine set of fellows, active and independent in their looks, but civil and hard-working. The English names by which they were entered, and known on the ship's books, are most amusing. Here you find Jack Frying-pan taking precedence of King George and Prince Albert; and Jack Sprat, Bottle-of-Beer, or Tom Tea-kettle, jostling with Prince of Wales, or Duke of York: - Jack Andrews was taken as the headman; one of his best "boys " was Sam Lewis, who subsequently proved a most diverting fellow, and a very accomplished mimic and actor.
In addition to the Krumen for working the vessels, we required some liberated Africans to act as interpreters with the various nations we expect to visit. As much depended on the care with which these persons were selected, Mr. Schön had been previously written to, and most readily had undertaken the task. This gentleman, a German by birth, had resided here a number of years as Missionary, and was consequently well acquainted with the African character, and many of the languages. He was engaged to accompany the expedition, with a view of ascertaining for the Church of England Missionary Society, what facilities there might be for the introduction of the Gospel among the nations of the interior of Africa. Mr. Crowther, an intelligent and well-educated native, was associated with him as catechist.
We found that Mr. Schön had a large number of volunteers on his list. From these were selected thirteen of the following nations, which we judged to be most required, namely: - Ibu, Kakanda, Yàrriba, Bornù, Eggarah, Haussa, Nufi, Benìn, and Filatah; the latter was the before-named Mahomed Lamina, the only one who had visited Timbaktùh. He was far superior to all the others in intelligence, having had a tolerable Mussulman education. He told us, that he had kept a journal in Arabic, of his former travels; but unfortunately, it was in the possession of his brother, who was away from Sierra Leone.
Besides these, fourteen other liberated Africans - some of whom had their wives and children, were engaged by Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the Model Farm, as labourers, &c., for that establishment. These were sent on board a small brigantine, which had been purchased to serve as a tender, and the command given to Lieutenant Harston, with a party of men from the 'Albert.' Having formerly been a condemned slaver, it required some time to clean her out and fit her for the reception of the people.
Free-town, the principal settlement in the colony of Sierra Leone, is sufficiently elevated above the sea to secure it from the evils of swamps and stagnant water in its immediate neighbourhood; but the long, low, flat land of the opposite, Bullam-shore, frequently sends over its noxious exhalations, to the detriment of health.
The town is clean, and well laid out; the principal streets being very broad and strait, especially that part inhabited by Europeans and the more important of the native traders, whose houses are generally detached, and surrounded by numerous trees.
The cottages of the liberated Africans, and numerous Krumen, are closer, and with less pretensions to regularity, though even among these, it is evident that their location has been selected with a view to secure a free circulation of air.
A beautiful green-sward - which at this season of vigorous vegetation defies the destructive work of many feet, overspreads the streets, giving them an air of delightful freshness.
Good roads lead to the different townships and villages, and command at various points, some beautiful views.
The Governor's house, barracks, &c., are placed on a commanding and airy situation.
The market, which is held in a square, in a central position, was well supplied with tropical fruits, of which pine-apples were abundant. Fish, of various kinds, were plentiful, but cannot maintain their position long in the market-place, as they soon decompose in this climate, and, unless speedily sold, must be ejected. Nearly all the different articles exposed for sale were proffered by Negro women; and the incessant clatter kept up on every side, quite convinces the visitor that the active use of that little member, the tongue, is not confined to the gentle sex of more temperate climes. They did not restrict their commercial transactions to the market; for the 'Wilberforce' was daily surrounded with busy visitants, each bearing - Ceres-like - some production of the soil, as bananas, oranges, pines, custard-apples, sugar-cane, earth-nuts, &c. They were all liberated Africans, or their descendants, full of noisy mirth and business. Mammy, and Daddy, are the common expressions in use, to designate the sexes. So that a dialogue is carried on somewhat in this manner.
"Well, mammy, what de news?" "Oh! tank'ee dááddy, nuffing perticular, - only Gubberna Jeremy dead - fever catch him,- he werry good man,- you got wash clothes? - me wash. Eberry body Sella-Leon, too much glad, you go 'top Slave Trade. You like buy dis basket orange? me sell him too much cheap. Buy-em, dááddy?"
On the evening of the 28th, we experienced a very violent tornado. Soon after sunset the well-known portentous arch of dark clouds, and the gloomy circle round the horizon, gave indications of its approach. The air was close and almost motionless. Shortly after eight, a few heavy drops of rain fell, quickly followed by vivid flashes of the electric fluid and the deafening roar of the thunder.
The rain then became heavier; the wind swept along with a hoarse, rushing sound, its resistless power tearing up and laying low the giants of the forest, or overwhelming the unprepared or too-confiding vessel and its hapless crew. Each element seemed to be madly striving for mastery during the greater part of two hours, when the fearful strife terminated in favour of the water, the rain coming down in a deluge, well described by one of the sailors, who remarked, "every drop was as big as a bucketful."
A great deal of mischief was done in the colony. The commissariat building was struck and much injured at three of the corners, where the solid masses of wood, which formed the angular supports, were split and shivered for several feet. The point of electric attraction was considered to have been the iron fastenings of the water-spouts.
Several persons were killed; and, in one case, it looked like a solemn coincidence with the arrival of an expedition, some of whose objects and anticipated results were the overthrow of superstition, and the moral improvement of Afric's children. Two Aku people, a man and woman, were engaged at the door of their hut, not far from the barracks, singing, beating drums, and offering up their prayers and adorations to the forked lightning which illumined the dark sky with its fitful glare. A sudden, but loud shriek takes the place of the votive song. The dwelling has been struck by the destroying fluid they were worshipping, and the miserable pair are immolated in the ruins.
Some of the officers went next day to visit the place. The objects presented were at once horrible and humiliating. The lightning's track was plainly discernible across the enclosure which surrounded the hut - now almost levelled to the earth. The remains of its ill-fated tenants were there in ghastly and distorted shape, some portions blackened and dessicated: others in a state of putrefaction. The viscera were protruding and covered with flies; the bones of the head white, as if they had been bleached for years.
Yet, sad as the spectacle was, it seemed to be even more so when remembered that their benighted countrymen would regard this as an especial mark of the favour of their gods, who had thus translated them by the agency of a fluid which they worship as a deity.
In his botanical researches, Dr. Vogel made many enquiries after the somewhat mystical 'cream-fruit' of Afzelius. The name was unknown, but several persons guessed, from his description, that it must be a fruit they call 'Bird-lime,' of which he procured a dried specimen nearly ripe. It is not eaten readily by any person. After all, he says "we have yet to learn whether cream-fruit, bird-lime, and Don's sweet Pishanin, are or are not identical."
"The Oil Palm (Elais Guinensis) is the only one occurring often near Freetown. It is monaecious, the male flower grows above the female. It sometimes produces fruit when only seven feet high, before the lowest ribs have decayed. There was also a Leguminosa, belonging apparently, from the fruit, to the genus Afzelia; but if so, it would form a separate division.
"Though a rich Flora, it was not - near the town, nor in the mountains - so luxuriant as description leads to expect. The soil is a close clay saturated with iron, and therefore cannot be fertile. Such, indeed, having soon been ascertained by the early settlers, their attention was directed to other localities in the vicinity; whether, with greater success, we had not opportunity to ascertain. But it must appear a matter of surprise that this thickly-peopled colony should not produce anything fit for exportation. The trade in African oak, and cam-wood seems to be a wanton neglect of the rich capabilities with which this region is endowed by nature. This surely is a subject for deep consideration. The Africans collected here, in such multitudes, ought to furnish abundant and cheap labour, and yet there is no cultivation on a grand scale, such as to create a staple in the colony. Much diligence is excited in converting and educating, to a certain extent, the liberated Africans, but without any beneficial influence on the mass, nor on the neighbouring tribes. This is not very satisfactory, and it proves that the original and main object contemplated on the formation of the colony, namely, to form a nucleus of Civilization, and to rear a body of free labourers, whence they might be diffused to the surrounding nations, has not been advanced."
The liberated Africans on their arrival are apprenticed to a planter till their twentieth year, after that a piece of land is apportioned to them, which procures a maintenance, scanty it is true, but sufficient for their absolute wants, and thus they fall back into a state of animal existence, little, if anything better than their original barbarism.
No Englishman can visit the settlement without a feeling of honest pride, that his country should have been the first to attempt to atone for the deep miseries inflicted on Africa by the inhuman traffic in her children. But while he also reflects how much reparation he owes her for his more extensive complicity, he will not fail to confess that in this attempt, the result falls infinitely short even of the instalment proposed to be given.
Sierra Leone has in fact reached that point in its career at which, unless some more energetic measures be adopted to carry forward the original design, its usefulness must cease, and its retrogression will be rapid. Already it wears the aspect of premature decrepitude. An abundant population neglects its resources; and in addition to the natural increment, it receives large numbers every year, in recaptured slaves; yet its wealth and means of advancement do not keep pace with even a natural increase in population.
It wants in fact capital and energy, to call forth the resources of the country and give employment to the multitude of settlers, who in default of it, have become mere drones. The exertions of the Missionary Societies, in their great vocation, are deserving of the highest praise; - but how few labourers in such an extensive vineyard? After all, unless the social condition of the negro be raised, he will never truly appreciate his spiritual wants.
The exports of the colony are indeed small, compared with its resources, being chiefly coffee, a few hides, pepper, ginger, and some indigo of inferior quality. We had intended to introduce the cochineal insect, some of which we had procured at Teneriffe, but we could not see any of the proper cactus; that which is met with here and at Cape Coast, being a small, thin-leaved, and less succulent one, than the Opuntia Tuna. The most valuable export is the timber, from the banks of the neighbouring rivers.
The day before leaving Sierra Leone, we witnessed one of those destructive flights of locusts which sometimes visit the settlement with such blighting influence. It first appeared about three P.M. and only terminated after sunset. The insects followed one another at the distance of several feet, but in such myriads, that a long and broad line only was discernible in the air, making a course from north to south. This was said only to have been a moderate swarm; but it gave us some faint idea of the eighth plague of the Egyptians. The inhabitants of the several villages lighted fires, and mustered with drums, tomtoms, and such other articles as would assist by their noise in preventing the devastating legions from making a descent on their plantations; where they would soon have reduced every edible herb to a leafless state. As the people here do not, like the Arabs, turn these insects to account as an article for the cuisine - their visits are indeed looked on as a perfect scourge.
We met H.M. brig 'Ferret' in a very sickly state, many of the men were suffering from fever, to which her medical officer had already fallen a sacrifice. A surgeon was sent on board to alleviate their most pressing wants.
July 5.- Arrived off Cape Mesurado, having experienced much of the squally and showery weather belonging to the rainy season.
We anchored off the town of Monrovia, chief settlement of Liberia, the American colony of free and liberated coloured men. It contains about one thousand inhabitants, under the Presidency of Mr. Buchanan, the only white man resident here, who showed us every attention.
This is a most interesting experiment, but how far it has succeeded, our short stay would hardly allow us to judge: it is to be feared that it will be much prejudiced by the ill-judged and exaggerated statements of it that have been put forth. There are, however, many signs of advancement, which may produce good fruit, if not marred by a premature conception of the importance of their future destiny. The houses are large and commodious. They have various places of public worship, which is unfortunately split into several sects.
There are schools, provided with maps, and some physical instruments, but it is to be feared a small amount of useful instruction; and there is a printing press, from which emanate two newspapers, wherein party spirit seems to run as high as in more extensive communities. Lastly, their mission is of peace, yet they have almost always been at war with the adjoining nations.
"The vegetation of this part of Africa is very similar to that of Sierra Leone. Sarcocephelus esculentus grows abundantly, and the fruit called Pomme granate by Don; a Poivrea, with beautiful red flowers, seems new; Cassia occidentalis, and a herbaceous Phyllanthus were found in abundance. Around the dwellings, coffee trees have been planted, but are left to grow too freely; limes, figs, curcas, ananas, Soursop or Anona muricata, Cytisus cajan, and arrow-root are cultivated. Bananas and the oil palm occur of course, and the guava, recently introduced, has become a weed."
The land is not very rich; on the shore is the same iron-clay as at Sierra Leone, and somewhat higher up towards the Cape Mesurado, the same diallage according to Mr. Roscher, only it is of a finer grain, and firmer. In several places the percolation of water has produced singular forms, almost models of mountain ranges. Although the neighbourhood of Monrovia is so densely covered with thick underwood, is intersected by rivers with their accompanying swamps, a clay soil, and other causes likely to induce disease; the colonists are said to be not unhealthy at present, though the first settlers suffered very severely from remittent and intermittent fevers, until those who survived became seasoned; they are even now not infrequent.
The dangerous nature of the bar at the mouth of the river, which must be crossed before landing, made it quite impossible to procure wood for fuel. Our light boats even were in considerable peril in landing the officers.
One object of our visit to Liberia was however attained; Mr. Carr secured the services of two volunteers for the model farm. One of these, Ralph Moore, had been accustomed to the management of cotton plantations, on the banks of the Mississippi. He was an intelligent, well-conducted negro.
We gladly availed ourselves of an opportunity of sending letters to England by a brig which sailed from this place.
July 6.- At 5 P.M. we left Monrovia. Contrary winds soon made us sensible of the impossibility of making much progress under sail, owing to the peculiar construction of the vessels, which were necessarily more calculated for river, than sea navigation. We made long tacks and short tacks, "long legs and short legs," hoping to creep along shore, but in the morning we found ourselves abreast of the point we had seen near us on the preceding evening - so prone were the vessels to the odious and disreputable habit of making leeway. Nothing would get them to windward but steam. In order to economise the small quantity of bad fuel that we had obtained at Sierra Leone, an attempt was made by the 'Albert,' to tow both the 'Wilberforce' and the schooner; but this was found to be worse than useless, and it was deemed advisable for each to make the best of our way to the rendez-vous at Cape Coast Castle. The 'Albert' having more coals, reached a place called Sinù, where she stopped to cut wood. The Americans have here a small settlement, which was established by the Mississippi Society in 1835, it is situated on a tongue of land between the river and sea; and is called Grenville. The first Governor, Mr. Finlay, was murdered some years ago at Gran Bassa, where he touched on his way to Monrovia. Unfortunately he was seen by the natives to have received some money from the captain of the vessel in which he had arrived; and soon after landing, was waylaid and murdered to obtain possession of the little property he had about him. The perpetrators of the crime could never be discovered, but a war was commenced against their tribe, which after having been prolonged for some time, terminated in the aggressors being obliged to enter into treaties with their American neighbours.
There are about five hundred natives at Sinù, who are a mixture of Blue-barras and Fishmen, some of whom came accidentally to that neighbourhood about sixty years ago.
The habits of the latter seem to preponderate. They have no tatooed marks on their persons, and are as regardless of dress as their forefathers. A few strings of beads, and a scanty waist cloth, is their only dress, either of useful or ornamental. The hair of the females is shaven in various fashions, sometimes including half of the head, or in others leaving merely a tuft at the top.
Their faces are generally besmeared with yellowish clay, which gives them an unseemly appearance. The children, when young, are carried on the backs of the mothers in a semi-circular box, which is suspended from the shoulders.
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