« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
tion to leave them. Kroo-men could not be expected to do this, but they might on leaving the Colony of Sierra Leone, present themselves to the Collector of Customs, which would check the practice of leaving the Colony clandestinely.
Upon the whole, Sierra Leone may be said to he improving, and if the encouragement hitherto shown shall be continued to the British Merchant, no reason appears to me why this Colony shall not, in the course of time, amply repay anxiety and care, and the expense so liberally bestowed by the Mother Country.
Every Year some new prospect of improvement opens to the view of the Merchant; an intercourse with the interior of Africa now fairly promises ultimate success, and which must be productive of benest to Great Britain ; and it may be even expected, some Years hence, caravans shall resort to the neighbourhood of Porto Logo (on a branch of the Sierra Leone) to convey articles of British manufacture into the very interior of the Continent of Africa.
The late salutary measure of possessing ourselves by purchase of the right to the little cluster of Islands named Bananas, close to Cape Shilling, is one from which the best possible good must arise, if properly maintained. The clearing of these Islands has only commenced; the situation of them commands the Coast laying within them and Cape Mana, and their importance to the prosperity of the British Colony may be of the first consideration.
The Isles de Loss, which mark the Northern Boundary of the Sierra Leone Colony (for I view the River Gambia as distinct), do not at present appear to have increased in trade since the first Year of my arrival, but they are admirably placed for the ultimate purposes of the general Establishment; and the late disputed right to our lawful possession of them by the Natives on the neighbouring Shore, it might be desirable to put at rest for ever; more especially as this could be effected at the cost of only a few hundreds of pounds.
The Natives from this part of the Coast extending to the Sierra Leone River, are a mixture of Mahomedans and Pagans, a circumstance to be regretted as checking civilization and improvement, the ceremonies of the Mahomedans being received by the Pagans with the greatest respect, and becoming the more attractive as appearing only an improvement upon their own customs.
From the Isles de Loss British influence ceases, until we reach the Gambia, and this vast tract of Country, intersected by numerous and magnificent Rivers, is devoted to the purpose of crowding the Slave Depôts of the Cape de Verds, and, to facilitate this object, the Portuguese Establishment in the Rio Grande, lately in a state of decay, has since been restored and improved, and its Garrison increased.
Following my course now to the Gambia, I have great satisfaction in reporting, that the Settlement of Bathurst is fast improving in trade
gum, to the
and commerce with the Native Africans. The Merchants are likely to benefit in a very high degree by the revival of the gum-trade, with the Trarzar Moors at Portendick; application was made to me for some naval protection, and, in consequence, I appointed a Gun-brig to this Service, directing the Officer commanding to afford all possible aid to the Merchants engaged in the revival of this valuable commerce; and, it is with extreme satisfaction I state, a Treaty was the result, and the British Merchants engaged in the trade have assured me, that full extent of what may be required by Great Britain, may now be had in exchange for British goods, instead of obtaining this important article by the medium of France; and this promises to render our loss of the Senegal river unimportant.
Other intermediate parts of the Coast having been noticed in my former Reports, the Point of Cape Palmas next offers.
In the line from the Saint Ann's Shoals to this Cape (usually termed the Windward Coast) during the season of rains, the navigation is most unpleasant, and, from the frequent southerly squalls, Voyages to the Southward are generally tedious and protracted. In the fairer seasons, however, the land and sea breezes are regular, and from the shoals of Saint Ann to Cape Palmas a current sets, at the rate of 14 to 2 miles an hour, taking the line of Coast for its direction.
As it may serve to correct mis-statements, I think it proper to remark, that the representation by Robertson, of there being at Cape Palmas a harbour for large Ships has no foundation. I can speak of my own unsuccessful endeavours to find one, and those also of Captain Finlaison, of the Morgiana, and Lieutenant Hagan, of the Thistle, and I have found the representations of this Officer, Robertson, and also of another, Hutton, so full of mis-statement, that my belief is, many of the circumstances they detail as facts are entirely unfounded.
The reefs and sunken rocks at the distance of 8 or 9 miles from Cape Palmas, render this part of the Coast very dangerous to approach, and demand extreme caution until Ship is absolutely to the Southward of the small rocky Island which almost joins the Cape itself. There, however, the anchorage is good and safe, except in the season of the rains, when it becomes altogether dangerous to approach, and quite unsafe to anchor at, and should not be hazarded unless pressed by some overbearing circumstance or particular necessity.
At Cape Palmas a small Fort established might be a check to the Slave-trade, and, by extending communication with the Natives, promote Christianity, and thereby civilization.
Rice, Malagetta pepper, the teeth of the elephant and the hippopotamus, are the principal articles of commerce in the neighbourhood of this Cape.
Close off the mouth of the Palmas River small Vessels anchor, but the entrance into the River is so shallow that a Boat at low water can pass only with difficulty. The Town is upon a hill, on a very small promontory, on the right side going in. The houses are of the rudest construction, circular, and drawing to a point at the top, but this particular form is some defence in the deluging season of the rains.
The Population of Palmas is very limited, and a Chief, called King Brown, governs it. A few miles to the North are 2 other Towns, and I was sorry to observe that the frequent Wars between the Petty Chiefs had been revived; these are carried on more in stratagem than in open hostility, and the capture of a Fishing Canoe with 3 or 4 Natives is a triumph, and one or more of the unfortunate Party invariably sacrificed.
The religion of the People of Palmas is Fetishism, as it is North and East of the Cape; but I observed a stronger inclination in the Natives of Palmas to change religion, manners, and customs, than I ever noticed amongst any of the native hordes in Africa, and the Chief, King Brown, seemed desirous of British protection, and appeared to consider that the Tartar had come to the Cape to afford him this. An old English Flag taken from a Slaving Vessel was given him, and was hoisted by him. The arms of the Palmas are spears; though when their War Canoe goes out a few old musquets appear. This Canoe is formed from one pullam tree, and measured nearly 90 feet, containing, when I saw it, about 100 People. The timber of Palmas is the common African. A British Adventurer, a considerable distance from the Cape, has established a plantation and factory, and, profiting by the low price of labour of the Natives, has lately carried on a very successful trade in palm oil and ivory. He very prudently quits the Coast as early after the commencement of the rains as possible, and returns with the dry season.
In concluding my remarks on Cape Palmas, I think it proper again to notice the publications of Robertson and Hutton; they have both recommended that His Majesty's Packets, from India and Brazils, should touch at Cape Palmas; their extreme ignorance of the navigation of the African Seas, and of the winds and currents, only, can excuse such absurd suggestions. I notice the presumption of these Authors lest they should carry that further, by some spurious statement of publick benefits to His Majesty's Post-Masters General, and thus mislead.
Running Eastward from Cape Palmas, until I reach the British Possessions on the Gold Coast, I continue my Report with Dix Cove, now the most Western post.
The favourable opinion I have of Dix Cove, as a depôt for naval and victualling stores will, I think, be confirmed by my Successor, Fresh water I am satisfied may be procured by sinking wells, if the spot selected be not too near the beach; but at all events an extension of the tank offers no difficulty. If Dix Cove shall be chosen as a naval and victualling depôt, the expence of Canoe hire, which is so considerable at Anamaboe and Cape Coast, will be wholly spared. Succondee, as a depôt, was suggested by a well informed Servant of the African Company, and in consequence this Year I visited the place, entirely for the purpose of judging by personal observation. Their Lordships will remember, that the Fort of Succondee was completely destroyed by the French, and it has remained in ruins ever since. The expence of constructing another Fort is the first objection I make, and the advantage of landing under the lee of a projecting point is not equal in benefit to this charge, and the flat is so extensive at low water as to make it impossible at any time of tide to beach an empty Boat. If, however, the advantage of a beach without any surf shall become the consideration, a mole or pier, to be carried out on the reef of slaty rock, extending from the point, will be indispensable. The supply of water at Succondee will be entirely from the tanks; and, it seems to me, that Forts would be multiplied without any good whatever, unless being somewhat nearer the Presidency of Cape Coast than Dix Cove is.
Commenda, the next British Fort, has most properly been abandoned, and of British Settlements the Presidency of Cape Coast comes Dext in succession.
In the Town of Cape Coast I was much struck with the great improvements since my former visit. Lanes and Alleys, so narrow and so crowded as materially to check circulation of air, had been removed, and a broad spacious Street was forming. Some land on the hills has been cleared of underwood, thereby contributing to the health of the inhabitants, and fresh water has been found near the skirts of the town, which satisfies me that a constant and considerable supply may be obtained by sinking wells on this spot; and if the old well and tank, established long since for the use of the Natives, were repaired, an ample supply of water for the wants, not only of the inhabitants, but the shipping, might be depended upon.
I am induced so particularly to notice this from the circumstance of my having been compelled to solicit as a favour the small supply of 50 tons of water from the Dutch Governor of Elmina, for the use of the Morgiana and her Slave Prize; the tanks of Cape Coast being so reduced at the time as not to furnish more than a very limited allowance to the Inhabitants.
The defences of Cape Coast have been improved equally with the Town. I had frequently expressed to Governor Smith my opinion, that, on a commanding hill, the erection of a Martello Tower would prove the best protection that could be afforded, and serve as a complete check against all the attempts the Ashatnee King might ever make upon the Town. Governor Smith having decided upon the measure, the work was
commenced; but it proceeded slowly until the following event showed its importance, and roused the Inhabitants of Cape Coast to a full sense of the danger to which they remained exposed until the Martello was completed :
A murderous Chief, in the neighbourhood of Cape Coast, sacrificed with the most extraordinary and protracted torture, an unfortunate Fantee Slave. In the hope of checking these horrible acts within British influence, Governor Smith sent a Party of the Cape Coast Garrison to surprize the offending Chief and his Followers; in this attempt resistance was offered, and the Party from the Garrison firing, the Chief and several of those partaking in his barbarous practices were killed.
The Ashantee King had, since his Treaty with Mr. Dupuis, considered the Fantees, under the protection of the British at Cape Coast, as his Subjects, and in consequence demanded of Governor Smith compensation for the death of those who fell on the occasion I have related; and with his demand he intimated, that resistance to it would be followed on his part by measures of hostility.
This threat, which excited great alarm, every one knew was to be parried only by showing it could not be attempted without danger; and Governor Smith decided with great promptitude upon completing the Martello Tower immediately. To accomplish this, not only the personal labour of the Black Population generally was required, but it was indispensably necessary to subdue amongst the Natives also many of their most favourite prejudices, and entirely to destroy their reverence for many objects deemed by their Ancestors for ages past to be Fetish, and held in the highest veneration. A rock was to be blasted, an object of their constant worship; houses were to be destroyed, in which their families for generations past had been buried ; and these were held so sacred that the Fetish Men predicted destruction to all who submitted to their removal. The difficulties of Governor Smith were considerable, and a Man of less firmness might perhaps have given way. Governor Smith persevered, and he is the first Man I believe who has yet so decidedly interfered between the Native African and his objects of worship
Every obstacle that stood in the way of completing the Martello Tower, and rendering its powers of defence perfect was removed; the Natives in the Town of Cape Coast, notwithstanding their Priests threatened them with all evils, for the first time disregarded their threats and predictions, and assisted so earnestly in the construction of the Martello Tower, that before I left Cape Coast I had the satisfaction of seing it completed, and furnished Governor Smith with 4 of the Tartar's guns. I left Cape Coast in security it had never known before, bidding defiance to the Ashantee Chief, and the thousands he had so often threatened to bring against it.