Page images
PDF
EPUB

50

CHAPTER II.

Dahomy-Grewhe, the trading town-Forts: French,

English, and Portuguese-Governor Abson-King of Dahomy-Miraculous escape of a French sailor from drowning–Country surrounding Grewhe, described_Fisherman and alligator--Ants---Hyenas : mode of taking them-Bats-Singular CustomsArdrah ; the road to it: the country describedTammata, a wealthy trader-Markets-Manufactures Industry of the inhabitants-Hio: its extent -The Hio people described-Natives of HoussaBadagry-Lagos-Cradoo lake-Trade of Lagos; customs; population-King Cootry: his levee; his fetiche-The devil's visits to Lagos: its policy Hippopotami-Alligators: a large one killed by a watering party--Medium of exchange Jaboos: their country and industry.

GREWHE, which may be called the sea port of the kingdom of Dahomy, is in latitude 6° 17' north, and longitude 3° 6' east, of Greenwich. It is a populous town, and contains, probably, six or seven thousand inhabitants. In passing to it from the seashore, a lagoon is to be forded, which is a quarter of a mile over, and the same distance from the beach, to which it runs parallel to the east, and communicates with the sea at Popo, but terminates in a wooded morass to the west, which morass intersects the road to Ardrah.

Three forts have been erected near the town (all since abandoned) by the English, French, and Portuguese; they are all built of clay baked in the sun, and the form of that belonging to the English is a parallelogram, with a high bastion at each angle having embrasures in them. Three sides of the parallelogram are occupied as storehouses, and dwellings for the company's slaves; the remaining one forms the governor's range of apartments, the windows of which front the sea, and from them vessels at anchor in the road are plainly seen. The whole is surrounded by a deep, dry, and broad ditch, having one passage

over it into the fort. The bastions are in a state of great dilapidation, and for any purposes of defence, wholly useless. The guns are honeycombed, and without carriages, and those used for saluting are placed outside the fort upon pieces of wood. When the captain of H. M. S. Charon was asked if he had heard the salute fired in honor of the arrival of H. M. ship, his reply was, that he had seen a smoke in the bush : and he said truly, for the touch-holes of the

consequence of long exposure to the weather, had be. come so wide, that when fired, the explosion was scarcely audible at the distance of half a mile.

Mr. Lionel Abson, the governor (subsequently deceased), had at this period, resided fifteen years at Wydah, and in habits and manners had nearly become a Dahomian; and it always forcibly struck me, when I saw him in the society of the natives, whose language he spoke fluently, that he

guns, in

preferred their company to that of Europeans; indeed, it was a rare occurrence for him to pay a social visit to an European resident, although he treated them with much urbanity and politeness, whenever they were pleased to pay him ceremonious or friendly visits. Indolence made him a complete philosopher, for no human being could be more happy with his lot; and the only circumstances which appeared to give him any uneasiness were when any exertion was necessary, that compelled him to overcome his vis inertia, or, when the few European luxuries, to be supplied to him annually from Cape Coast, had long exceeded the usual period of their arrival; and which was too often the case, for his station was so remote from the other English establishments in Africa, that few opportunities presented themselves to the governor in chief, to forward his supplies with any degree of regularity or certainty. His pipe was his chief companion, an English newspaper his greatest luxury; for he took much interest in the passing events of Europe, and being endowed with an extraordinary memory, he became almost a chronicle of the times in which he lived, although placed in a region so remote.

The king of Dahomy, an artful and tyrannical villain, took advantage of poor Abson's passive disposition, for he became as much his slave as any one of his subjects. His liberty was so much abridged, that he often could not obtain permission to visit a vessel in the road, as the Evougah had a general order from the king not to permit him to leave the shore. And he was so often prevented doing so, under one frivolous pretext or another, that for many years previous to his decease, he declined all invitations rather than incur the displeasure of the king, or subject himself to the mortification of a refusal; although the refusal was always accompanied with a flattering message, such as, the king loved

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »