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ment; and regard the black man's colour presumptive evidence of his physical and intellectual pre-eminence!—These facts are indeed sufficient to show the folly of some of our prejudices; but, it must be confessed, that human nature is here exhibited in too degraded and rude a state, to serve as the grounds of any very just conclusions, in regard to the inquiries which may very reasonably be instituted as to the comparative endowments and faculties of the inhabitants of two distant quarters of the globe.
To the terms we employ in this inquiry we are apt to attach difficulties too
vague and general ever to admit of any other than speculative conclusions. What do we mean by "natural endowments?" If the advantages for a development of the faculties of the mind--for acquiring knowledge and virtue, with which the negro and the white man come into existence; the question is self-determined, if we allow a preference for these ends, to a civilized, over a savage state of society. African society is rude, ignorant, vicious. Society in Europe and the United States, is not in an equal degree either the first or the second and to the last there are ten thousand noble exceptions which may be sought in vain, in Africa. If by natural endowments be meant, as commonly are, the advantages possessed by the black and the white man for developing their mental powers, who shall be born to the same state of society, and subjected to the same process of education; here, again, I say, it is not possible to establish the equality in fact, which the hypothesis presumes. Who can so temper all the motives, aids, and stimulants which shall apply themselves to the understanding and heart of a young white, in the bosom of a society of white men, as to render them exactly equal in kind and in efficacy to the excitements which a young negro would feel in the same society? The odds would be immense; and would be against the progress and improvement of the latter. Plunge the white child into the heart of African barbarism, and the disadvantage might be on his side, but a similar disparity of advantages would remain. If the question is still limited to the supposition of a perfect equality and uniformity of operation, of every circumstance extraneous to the persons of the two individuals; by becoming absolutely impossible, it would admit only of a conclusion still more conjectural and speculative. 1, however, should reply to the question so put, on the ground of
fact. Observation teaches us that there is a certain character and conformation of the features and animal constitution more favour. able to the perfect development of mind, than others. It likewise teaches us that a refined state of society gives not only to the individual who enjoys it, this animal adaptation to the efforts of intellect; but in a succession of generations, improves in these respects, the species itself. The features of a negro show us at
· first view, much of the animal, but little of the intelligent essence of man.
Those of the white man, being the effect of the long application of civilization in meliorating the animal part of the species itself; discover to us as naturally, the radiations of mind. I do not here limit my argument to the colour of the skin, but to all the animal organs and properties of man by which the mind acts. Civilize the negro race to the same degree, and for an equal number of generations, as the white man, be he white or black at the end of the period; and I will believe him equal then, and not before, to the white man who has enjoyed the same means of amelioration.
Bissao, June 4th, 1824.
Notes on Africa.
This odious tribe of animals, is numerous in Liberia, and offers a greater variety than is to be found in any part of the United States. But, from an invincible constitutional repugnance to researches in this department of animated nature, I have made too few observations, and conducted these with too little nicety, to be able to add much to the stock of information, contained in the general descriptions of the coast already extant.
The BoA CONSTRICTOR, although not venomous, is certainly the most terrific species of the serpent kind, having a real existence, which the human imagination has ever been taught to dread in this or any other country. But through a benevolent provision of nature, either the species is not prolific is liable to great.
diminution, from the difficulty of obtaining a regular and suffi. cient supply of food for its enormous consumption-or its general habits are recluse and inactive in the extreme; as the Boa, although known to exist here, and committing occasional ravages among
the wild and sometimes the domestic animals of the country, is seldom met with. Its method of seizing and masticating its food, is well known to be nearly peculiar, and hardly admits of a simple description without reviving in a mind susceptible of classical recollections, the legends of fabulous monstrology.But to the accuracy with which the habits of the Boa have been stated by approved naturalists, and travellers respectable for their judgment and veracity, it is in my power to add the concurrent testimony of as many of the natives of this country as I recollect to have spoken with on the subject. In so plain a matter of fact, they certainly cannot labour under ignorance or mistake. And the circumstance itself, of the agreement of so many persons belonging to different and distant tribes, in every particular of their accounts of this formidable serpent, amounts to full evidence of their substantial truth and accuracy.
The carcase of an individual of this species, in a state of putrescence, was discovered in September, 1823, extended nearly at length, on the naked rocks, near the extremity of Cape Mesurado. It measured, including both extremities, thirty-two feet in length. Its size, down to a near approach to the tail, was nearly uniform; and in its then collapsed and shrivelled state, varied little from eight inches in diameter. The process of decay, which it was beginning to undergo, must have affected its colour, as it had very considerably the consistency of all the perishable parts of the animal. But the former appeared to have been a dark brown, variegated with large irregular patches of a lighter hue. Its destruction could be traced to no certain cause. But if a conjecture may be allowed from the place in which its carcase was found, it would be ascribed most naturally to starvation. The elevated rocks on which it lay, about thirty yards from a precipice of half the same elevation, which overhangs the ocean, form the extreme point of the Mesurado Peninsula, which
miles in extent, and, in few places, more than one mile
Our recent occupation of this isthmus, had nearly ex. pelled from the cape the numerous wild animals which had for
merly made it their favourite resort-and in the same degree had cut off from this terrible devourer other food, with which their slaughter appears to have supplied him.
It is somewhat remarkable, but no uncomfortable circumstance, that no traces of any other animal of this species, has been since discovered on the Peninsula.
Of other serpents, that oftenest met with, is a black snake, about two yards in length, and two to four inches in diameter. Its haunt is about the banks of rivers; and it is reported to be strictly amphibious.
In sailing the Junk, and the unsettled parts of the Mesurado river, snakes of this species are often seen in great numbers sometimes six, ten, and even twenty in an hour, coiled singly about the branches of trees overhanging the water. In this situation, their appearance is that of a compact knot about the size of a large hat-crown, swelling irregularly out of the branch to which it attaches; and would seldom attract the notice of a stranger in the country, but that the head and neck are projected a few inches above the coil, in an attitude of menacing vigilance. On the near approach of your boat, every fold is shook out as by a single movement; and the snake disappears below the water, into which it suddenly throws itself. They have been known to fall into the canoes of the natives; whose only means of safety, on the occurrence of such an accident, consist in the instant abandonment of their little bark to the sole possession of its new occupant, by plunging themselves into the water. The bite of this snake is highly venomous.
Scarcely less malignant is that of a small green snake, usually encountered in dry situations, and in the concealment of thick herbage, or the foliage of low bushes. Its length seldom exceeds twenty inches. It commonly avoids the approach of other animals; but seldom fails to inflict its poisonous bite when suddenly disturbed by them.
In January, 1824, one of the Africans belonging to the Agency,
suffered the bite of one of these snakes, upon which he had accidentally set his foot, a few inches above the heel. I saw him about twenty minutes afterwards. The poison had already produced a painful inflammation, which commencing at the wound, had perceptibly ascended the leg, as high as the knee.
At the end of an hour, the whole limb was badly swelled, and the pain become very severe. The only antidote administered, was olive oil. A large dose of this was swallowed by the patient; and a plentiful application of it made to the wound, and contiguous parts. A gradual mitigation of the symptoms followed; and in a few hours after, complete relief was obtained.
The Land Snake, which in this country holds the place of the Black Snake of the middle and southern parts of the United States, is a little larger in all his dimensions, but less active and formidable. His head and body are of an uniform and beautiful light green colour—and his belly of a bright yellow, sprinkled, in the mature animal, with brown spots. This snake sometimes makes a temporary stand when closely pressed by an assailant; but never pursues, until highly exasperated. His bite is severe, and tenacious; leaving the impression of his two fangs about one and a half inch asunder, and nearly half an inch deep.
About the 10th of October, 1826, a young Bassa labourer, employed in clearing a plantation near Monrovia, was unfortunately bitten by a full grown snake of this species, on the side of his leg, about eight inches above the ancle. He immediately went in quest of one of his countrymen similarly employed on a neighbouring plantation; and, after half an hour's search, found out his friend in time to save his life: for the whole limb was by this time in a state of high inflammatory action. The arteries were visibly distended-pulsation laboured-and the necessary attendant symptoms of fever and swelling, were rapidly travelling upwards to the vital parts of the system. Mr. W., who was present, and suffered no circumstance of so interesting a case to escape his observation, related, that the person to whom the patient had applied for relief, instantly furnished himself with an ample mouthful of the inner bark of the African cherrytree,* which he reduced by chewing, until the juice and pulpy residue of the filaments mixed with saliva, were judged sufficient to neutralize so much of the poison as he should be able to extract at one application from the wound. Meantime he had di
* So called from the very near resemblance of its fruit, both in size, form, colour, and flavour, to the red cherry of temperate countries. In other properties the two trees very much differ from each other.