Imatges de pÓgina

think, have groaned quite so heavily under its stun ning influence.

The English travellers were agreeably surprised by the reception which they experienced during this journey. In Houssa they had laboured under the most dire proscription as Caffres, enemies of the prophet, and foredoomed to hell; and, as black is there the standard of beauty, their colour was considered by the ladies a deep leprous deformity, detracting from every quality that might otherwise have been agreeable in their persons. With the negro and pagan Eyeos there was no religious enmity; and having understood, by reports from the coast, the superiority of Europeans in arts and wealth, this people viewed them almost as beings of a superior order, to see whom they felt an eager and friendly curiosity. A rumour had also spread that they came to do good, and to make peace wherever there was war. On entering any town they were soon encircled by thousands, all desirous to see white men, and testifying respect,-the males by taking off their caps, the women by bending on their knees and one elbow. In some places singing and dancing were kept up through the whole night in celebration of their arrival.

The mission had now to cross a range of hills about eighty miles broad, reported to reach the The whole from behind Ashantee to Benin. way highest pinnacle was not supposed to exceed 2500 feet, which is a good deal lower than Skiddaw; but its passes were peculiarly narrow and rugged, hemmed in by gigantic blocks of granite 600 or 700 feet high, sometimes fearfully overhanging the road.

The valley varied in breadth from 100 yards to half a mile; but every level spot, extending along the foot of these mountains, or even suspended amid their cliffs, was covered with fine crops of yams, millet, and cotton. A large population thus filled these alpine recesses, all animated with the most friendly spirit. Parties met the travellers on the road, or were stationed on the rocks and heights above, which echoed with choral songs and sounds of welcome. After ascending hill over hill they came to Chaki, a large and populous town, situated on the very summit of the ridge. Here the caboceer had a house and a large stock of provisions ready for them: he put many questions, and earnestly pleaded for a stay of two or three days.

After descending to the plain, and passing through a number of other towns, the party came to Tshow, where a caboceer arrived from the King of Yarriba, with a numerous train of attendants both on foot and horseback. This chief having shaken hands with them, immediately rubbed his whole body, that the blessing of their touch might be spread all over him. His people kept up through the night a constant hubbub, singing, drumming, dancing, and firing; and, claiming free quarters, they devoured such a quantity of provisions, that the party fared worse than in any other place. Next morning they set out with a crowded escort of bowmen on foot, and of horsemen ill mounted but active, dressed in the most grotesque manner, and covered with charms. On reaching the brow of a hill, the great capital of Eyeo opened to the view, on the opposite side of a vast plain bordered by a ridge of granite hills, and surrounded by a brilliant belt of verdure. On reach

ing the gate, they entered the house of a caboceer, till notice was sent to the king, who immediately invited them to his palace. They had five miles to march through this spacious capital, during which the multitude collected was so immense, and raised such a cloud of dust, that they must have stopped short, had not their escort, by a gentle but steady application of the whip and the cane, opened a way, and finally cleared a space in front of the throne. The king was sitting under a veranda, dressed in two long cotton tobes, and ornamented with three strings of glass beads, and a pasteboard crown covered with blue cotton, which had been procured from the coast. The mission, instead of the usual prostration, merely took off their hats, bowed, and presented their hands, which the king lifted up three times, calling out "Ako! ako!" (How do you do?) His wives behind, drawn up in a dense body, which the travellers vainly attempted to number, raised loud cheers, and smiled in the most gracious manner. After an interview of half an hour, the chief eunuch showed the party to handsome and commodious lodgings, where a good dinner was prepared. In the evening they were surprised by a visit from his majesty in plain patriarchal style, with a long staff in his hand, saying that he could not sleep without again inquiring after them.

Eyeo, or Katunga, capital of the kingdom of Yarriba, is fifteen miles in circumference, and supplied by seven large markets; but there are many open fields and spaces in this wide circuit, and hence the number of inhabitants could not even be conjectured. The population of the country must be very great, the whole being under cultivation, and the towns large

and numerous. The government, in theory, is most despotic. The greatest chiefs, when they approach the sovereign, throw themselves prostrate on the ground, lie flat on their faces, and heap sand or dust upon their heads; and the same degrading homage is paid to the nobles by their inferiors. Yet the administration seems mild and paternal; no instances of wanton cruelty were observed; and the flourishing state of the people showed clearly the absence of all severe oppression. The horrid and bloody customs, which produce such dark scenes in Ashantee and Dahomey, were mentioned here with detestation. At the death of the king only, a few of his principal ministers and favourite wives take poison, presented to them in parrots' eggs, that they may accompany and serve him in the invisible world. The first question asked by every caboceer and great man was, How many wives the King of England had? being prepared, it should seem, to measure his greatness by that standard; but when told that he had only one, they gave themselves up to a long and ungovernable fit of laughter, followed by expressions of pity and wonder how he could possibly exist in that destitute condition. The King of Yarriba's boast was, that his wives, linked hand in hand, would reach entirely across the kingdom. Queens, however, in Africa are applied to various uses, of which Europeans have little idea. They were seen forming a large band of body-guards; and their majesties were observed in every part of the kingdom acting as porters, and bearing on their heads enormous burdens; so that whether they should be called queens or slaves seems scarcely doubtful.

The Eyeos, like other nations purely negro, are

wholly unacquainted with letters or any form of writing; these are known only to the Arabs or Fellatas, who penetrate thither in small numbers; yet they have a great deal of extemporary poetry. Every great man has bands of singers of both sexes, who constantly attend him, and loudly celebrate his achievements in poems of their own composition. The convivial meetings of the people, even their labours and journeys, are cheered by songs composed for the occasion, and sung often with considerable taste. Their houses are mere clay-built cottages, yet studiously adorned with carving; the door-posts, and every piece of furniture, are covered with well-executed representations of warlike processions, and of the movements of huge serpents seizing their prey. They have also public performances, which do not indeed deserve the name of dramatic, as they consist of mere mimicry and buffoonery. The first act of a piece witnessed by the strangers exhibited men dancing in sacks, who performed their part to admiration. One of the bags opened, and there came forth the boa constrictor, fourteen feet long, covered with cotton cloth, imitating the colour and stripes of the original. Though rather full in the belly, it presented very nearly the form, and imitated well the actions, of that huge animal. The mouth was opened wide, probably by two hands, to devour a warrior armed with a sword, who had come forth to contend with this formidable creature, and who struck it with repeated blows, till it writhed in agony, and finally expired. Lastly, out of another sack came the white devil, a meagre, shivering figure, and so painted as to represent a European. It took snuff, rubbed its hands, and attempted, in

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