Imatges de pÓgina

who serve him in various capacities,-being partly trained to act as a body-guard, regularly regimented, and equipped with drums, flags, bows and arrows, while a few carry muskets. They all reside in the palace, which consists merely of an immense assemblage of cane and mud tents, enclosed by a high wall. The skulls and jaw-bones of enemies slain in battle form the favourite ornament of the palaces and temples. The king's apartment is paved, and the walls and roof stuck over with these horrid trophies; and if a farther supply appears desirable, he announces to his general that 66 his house wants thatch," when a war for that purpose is immediately undertaken.

Mr McLeod, during his residence at Whidah, in 1803, found the country still groaning under the cruel effects of Dahoman tyranny. He particularly deplores the case of Sally Abson, daughter of the late English governor by a native female, who, trained in all European accomplishments, added to them the most engaging simplicity of manners. Suddenly she disappeared, and Mr M'Leod's eager inquiries were met by a mysterious silence; all hung down their heads, confused and terrified. At length an old domestic whispered to him that a party of the king's half-heads (as his messengers are termed) had carried her off in the night, to be enrolled among the number of his wives, and warned him of the danger of uttering a word of complaint.

A more pleasing spectacle was presented to Messrs Watt and Winterbottom, who, in 1794, ascended the Rio Nunez to Kakundy, and made an excursion to Foota Jallo, the principal state of the Southern Foulahs. This people profess the Mohammedan re

ligion, are orderly and well instructed, display skill in working mines of iron, and in carrying on the manufacture of cloth, leather, and other African fabrics. Caravans of 500 or 600 Foulahs were often met, carrying on their heads loads of 160 pounds weight. The article chiefly sought after is salt, which the children suck as ours do sugar; and it is common to describe a rich man by saying, he eats salt. The two principal towns, Laby and Teemboo, were found to contain respectively 5000 and 7000 inhabitants. The king could muster 16,000 troops, whom unhappily he employed in war, or at least hunts, against twenty-four pagan nations that surround his territory, chiefly with the view of procuring slaves for the market on the coast. When the travellers represented to him the iniquity of this course, he replied, "The people with whom we go to war never pray to God; we never go to war with people who pray to God Almighty." As they urged that, in a case of common humanity, this ought to make no distinction, he quoted passages from the koran commanding the faithful to make war on unbelievers. They took the liberty to insinuate that these might be interpolations of the devil, but found it impossible to shake his reliance on their authenticity.

A more recent and memorable intercourse was that opened with the court of Ashantee. This people were 'first mentioned, in the beginning of last century, under the name of Assente or Asienti, and as constituting a great kingdom in the interior, the same that was described to Mr Lucas at Tripoli as the ultimate destination of those caravans which, proceeding from that city, measure the breadth of Africa. Being separated from the maritime districts, how

ever, by Aquamboc, Dinkira, and other powerful states, they did not come into contact with any European settlement. It was not indeed till the commencement of this century that these states were obliged to give way before the growing strength of the Ashantee empire, which at length extended to the borders of the Fantees, the principal people on the Gold Coast. These last were ill fitted to cope with such formidable neighbours. They are a turbulent, restless tribe, and extremely prompt in giving offence, but in battle they are equally cowardly and undisciplined. The King of Ashantee having, not unwillingly perhaps, received from them high provocation, sent, in 1808, an army of 15,000 warriors, which entered their territory, and laid it waste with fire and sword. At length they came to Anamaboe, where the Fantees had assembled a force of 9000 men; but these were routed at the first onset, and put to death, except a few who sought the protection of the British fort. The victors, then considering the British as allies of their enemy, turned their arms against the station, at that time defended by not more than twelve men. Yet this gallant little band, supported by slender bulwarks, completely baffled the fierce and repeated assaults made by this barbarous host, who were repulsed with considerable slaughter. Seized with admiration and respect for British prowess, the Ashantees now made proposals for a negotiation, which were accepted, and mutual visits were paid and returned. The English officers were peculiarly struck with the splendid array, the dignified and courteous manners, and even the just moral feeling, displayed by these warlike strangers. They, on their side, ex

pressed an ardent desire to open a communication with the sea and with the British, complaining that the turbulent Fantees opposed the only obstacle to so desirable a purpose. A treaty was concluded, and a thoroughly good understanding seemed established between the two nations. The Ashantees, however, made several successful incursions in 1811 and 1816; and on the last occasion the Fantees were obliged to own their supremacy, and engage to pay an annual tribute. The British government judiciously kept aloof from these feuds; but in 1817 a mission was sent, under Messrs James, Bowdich, and Hutchinson, to visit the capital of that powerful kingdom, and to adjust some trifling dissensions which had unavoidably arisen.

The mission having set out on the 22d April, 1817, passed over a country covered, in a great measure with immense and overgrown woods, through which a footpath had with difficulty been cut, though in some parts it presented the most beautiful scenery. Being delayed by Mr James' illness, they did not arrive at Coomassie, the capital, till the 19th May, when they were surprised at its unexpected splendour. It was four miles in circumference, built not indeed with European elegance, but in a style considerably superior to any of the maritime towns. The houses, though low, and constructed only of wood, were profusely covered with ornament and sculpture. The array of the caboceers, or great war-chiefs, was at once brilliant, dazzling, and wild. They were loaded with fine cloths, in which variously-coloured threads of the richest foreign silks were curiously interwoven; and both themselves and their horses were covered with decorations of

gold beads, Moorish charms or amulets, purchased at a high price, and the whole intermingled with strings of human teeth and bones. Leopards' skins,

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red shells, elephants' tails, eagle and ostrich feathers, and brass bells, were among the favourite ornaments. On being introduced to the king, the English found all these embellishments crowded and concentrated on his own person and that of his attendants, who were literally oppressed with large masses of solid gold. Even the most common utensils were composed of that metal. At the same time, the executioner, with his hatchet on his breast, and the execution-stool clotted with blood, gave a thoroughly savage character to all this pomp. The manners of the king, however, were marked by a dignified courtesy ; he received the strangers cordially, and desired them

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