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meshes. Holes at the top received the forefingers of their right hands, with which the gourds were shaken, and occasionally struck against the palms of their left hands, beating responses to the tunes sung by the dancers.
The king and his principal courtiers are ostentatious in their dress, wearing damask, taffity, and cuttanee, after the country fashion. Coral is a very favourite ornament in the royal seraglio, which is always well filled; and the women, like those of the Heebo nation, wear a profusion of beads, if they can by any means obtain them.
Human sacrifices are not so frequent here as in some parts of Africa; yet besides those immolated on the death of great men, three or four are annually sacrificed at the mouth of the river, as votive offerings to the sea, to direct vessels to bend their course to this horrid climate.
The number of slaves obtained at Benin was at one period very considerable; but the extreme unhealthiness of the country was, I apprehend, the chief cause why the
English trade at this place declined. The medium of exchange is salt, and calculations are made in pawns, one of which is equal to a bar in Bonny, or 2s. 6d. sterling.
The land about the town of Benin is fertile, although but little of it is cultivated. Sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, and yams, are plentiful and cheap. There is here also a breed of small cattle.
What country, or of what description, or inhabited by what nation, bounds the north of that inhabited by the Heebos, I could never obtain any satisfactory account; but it is certain, that there are not any slaves sold at Bonny, that pass from the interior through it. The kingdom of Benin may be called its western boundary, although its inhabitants and their language bear a striking affinity to the Heebos. The colour of their skins is somewhat darker; though much lighter than the Jaboos or Hios.
The national mark is on each temple, and three very extensive scars on the abdomen above the umbilical chord.
The CREEK, or Jo people, are a predatory race, and frequently attack boats bound to Gatto; and when weakly manned, they have been known to murder the crew, plunder their cargoes, and burn the boats. They had once the audacity to attempt to surprise in the night a brig under my command, which I had taken to the mouth of the river, for the purpose of allowing the crew to have the advantage of breathing a better atmosphere, hoping, by that means, to counteract the bad effects of the climate, which had begun to make serious inroads on their health. They had acquired information of the ineffective state of the crew, and meant to hazard the experiment of quietly boarding us in the night with four canoes full of people; but as we thought some attempt of the kind might be made, we were prepared to receive them, and on firing a few shots they retreated. They, however, made a second attempt the following night with an increased force, but when
the musket balls began to whiz about their ears, they all laid down on the bottom of their canoes, and allowed themselves to be drifted away in them by the tide; for they had the sagacity to avail themselves of a strong flood, and to pull up against it in the wake of the vessel, in order to elude observation, and to secure a retreat in case of necessity.
On the west head of the river, as well as on the opposite shore, a number of huts have been erected, where salt is made from At full tide, the sea approaches sea water. very near to these huts, at which time the natives fill the vessels (composed chiefly of earthenware of native manufacture) with salt water, and evaporate it by fire. Some of the salt made in this way is very good, but a large portion of it is of a bad colour, and sandy.
NEW TOWN is placed about eighteen miles from the mouth of the river, and is in the
territory and under the jurisdiction of the
king of Warré, and Wacoo the captain of the river derives his power and consequence from being placed there to receive the king's duties, which are very moderate, from vessels visiting the Formosas for the purpose of trade. It being a mere trading station, the population is inconsiderable, and the houses wretched hovels built on the north point of Warré creek, which is so swampy that the inhabitants are under the necessity of placing old canoes with their bottoms upwards, in order to be enabled to pass upon them, from house to house, otherwise they would sink knee deep in mud.
The river, in consequence of its bed and margin being composed of mud, has scarcely any variety of fish in it, and what the natives obtain, are caught in holes amongst the roots of the mangrove trees, and are a kind of small eel seldom exceeding six inches in length and an inch and half in diameter; these with yams form the chief part of their food. The yams are brought from a