« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
to make book) in England; but his conscientious guardian found it less troublesome to have him taught to make sugar at St. Kitts, where he accordingly sold him ; and from whence he contrived to make his escape, and got on board an English ship of war, from which he was paid off on the reduction of the fleet.
There is a long account of the ceremonies and negotiations at the Court of Embomma. The Chenoo, or, in civilized phrase, his Majesty, had sent, for the conveyance of the Captain, a sort of hammock, somewhat resembling the palanquin of India, but in such dirty plight,' that a long walk was preferred, with the vehicle brought in attendance, to be entered, for etiquette's sake, just at the approach to the royal residence, time enough to be set down in form under a great tree, near what must be called the palace,--which tree was adorned with ensigns of state, in the manner following :
• The first objects which called our attention were four human skulls, hung to the tree, which we were told were those of enemy's chiefs taken in battle, whose heads it was the custom to preserve as trophies; these victims, however, seemed to have received the coup de grace previous to the separation of the head, all the skulls presenting compound fractures.'
The whole account of the levee is highly curious. There was no want of appropriate officers, or dignified ceremonial, though a rather inconvenient absence of understanding; inasmuch as it was found totally impossible to make any of the assembled personages coipprehend the motive and object of the expedition. They were induced however to admit, at hazard, a favourable judgement of whatever might be its inexplicable purpose, by what they were enabled to comprehend of it negatively, namely, that it was not intended to obstruct the slavetrade, nor to make war. The council broke up in a prodigious
racket, on the sight of a key of rum, which the English em1
bassy had brought as a present,-to be re-assembled, however, for more privy consultation, during the time the visiters were at a repast provided for them, after which they were again suminoned to audience. The negotiation appeared to end amicably, upon a solemn reiteration, on oath, by the Captain, of those negative declarations, on which they were forced at last to rest, under the impossibility of understanding any thing more of the
The most ready and unreserved offers were then made, by the Chenoo and the gentlemen of his court, (and the Captain says, in the grossest, vilest language,) for the indulgence of the munity of oblivion, unless the suppression be from some consideration of the feelings of innocent relatives, such relatives as stand clear at this tinie from all suspicion of participating the present iniquity of the contimicd slave-trade.
English party in a wretched, unbridled libertinism, offers of which they promptly availed themselves. Displeased as grave and moral readers will be at the gay tone in which be reports the profligacy of his companions, they will be grati. fied that he could with truth except himself, an exceptios the truth of which is corroborated by his mentioning their conduct, here and elsewhere, in such light terms as seem to imply no blame.
A sitting secretly held, during the wbole of the following night, of the black and grave Divan, resulted in no harm, his Majesty and the court-party overruling a hostile effort of the trading interest ag«inst the Expedition. The king even told the Captain, that if his object was to make a settlement in the country, he would grant him as much land as he required. The terror excited, on a subsequent occasion of ceremony, in all that might be supposed the baughtiest and the bravest in the country, by the discharge of a few swivels as a' salute, assured the English that nothing was to be feared on the score of martia! prowess.
The description of a burying and the funeral howl, resembling the Irish, is followed by a most curious account of the protracted and costly preparation for interment, in the case of those who can afford it.
• Simmons requested a piece of cloth to envelope his aunt, who had been dead seven years, and was to be buried in two months, being now arrived at a size to make a genteel funeral. The manner of preserving corpses, for so long a time, is by enveloping them in cloth money of the country, or in European cottons, the smell of putre. faction being only kept in by the quantity of wrappers, which are successively multiplied as they can be procured by the relations of the deceased, or according to the rank of the person ; in the case of a rich and very great man, the bulk acquired being only limited by the power of
conveyance to the grave; so that the first hut in which the body is deposited becoming too small, a second, a third, even to a sixth, increasing in dimensions, is placed over it.'
Among many particulars of iniscellaneous information respectng the people about this place, it is stated that
• The two prominent features, in their moral character and social state, seem to be the indolence of the men, and the degradation of the women; the latter being considered as perfect slaves, whose bodies are at the entire disposal of their fathers and husbands, and may be transferred by either of them how and when they may please.'
• The cultivation of the ground is entirely the business of slaves and women, the King's daughters and princes' wives being constantly thus employed, or in collecting the fallen branches of trees for fuel . The only preparation the ground undergoes is burning the grass, raking the soil into little ridges with a hoe, and dropping the Indian corn grains into holes.'
A little above Eubom na it was decided to leave the Congo sloop, and prosecute the enterprise in the large boats. A labo. rious passage, incommodled by partial rapids in the river, the banks presenting only a long succession of very barren stony hills, brought them up to the point where the boats also were to become usele-s. Their sluw progress was uncheered by any supplies or infor nation to be obtained from the poverty, exorbitance, and ignorance of the people of the few hamleis (or banzas) that were passed. In this part of the voyage, an act of humanity was done in the purchase, (partly from compassion, and partly in the hope of deriving some aid from his presumed knowledge of the country, in returning toward the place whence he had been brought,) of a Mandingo slave, bound neck and "heels,' but who was instantly restore i to liberty in the full sense, and taken in capicity as a servant, by the Captain, in order to prevent any inisapprehension among the people as to the nature of this pir:hase. It was a bad bargain, however, for he proved an utterly worthless fellow.
They were now approaching to the cataract of Yellala, deemed by the natives the residence of an evil spirit, so that whoever saw it once would never see it again. Already the river was become contracted and violent, with stupendous overhanging I rocks' on each side. Iu viewing from an eminence the mass of hills through which the course of the river is cut, for the length of a number of leagues, the Captain was instantly convinced of the impossibility of conveying the boats by land, to resume with them the oavigation above the cataract. This cataract itself, which had been represented by the natives as most tremendous, was now an object of ardent curiosity. The Captain and four
others made their way to it by a long fatiguing walk, and were s extremely surprised and disappointed at finding, instead of a to second Niagara, which the description of the natives, and their horror of it, had given reason to expect, a comparative brook bubbling over its stony bed.'
• The south side of the river is here a vast hill of bare rock (sienite), and the north a lower but more precipitous hill of the same substance, between which two the river has forced its course ; but in the middle an island of slate still defies its power, and breaks the current into two narrow channels; that near the south side gives vent to the great mass of the river, but is obstructed by rocks above and under water, over which the torrent rushes with great fury and noise, as may easily be conceived. The channel on the north side
is now nearly dry, and is composed of great masses of slate, with * perpendidular fissures. The highest part of the island is 15 feet
above the present level ; but from the marks on it, the water in the rainy season must rise 12 feet, consequently covers the whole of the breadth of the channel, with the exception of the summit of the Vol. X. N. S.
island ; and with the encreased velocity, must then produce a fall somewhat more consonant to the description of the natives.
· The principal idea that the fall creates, is that the quantity of water which flows over it, is by no means equal to the volume of the river below it; and yet, as we know that there is not at this season a single tributary stream sufficient to turn a mill, below the fall, we can hardly account for this volume, unless we suppose, as Dr. Smith suggests, the existence of subterraneous communications, or caverns filled with water.'
After making a forced march upward for several days, as near as bills and precipices would permit to the river, which was found through many leagues confined in a narrow channel, and often foaming over rocks, he returned to the boats, to make preparations for the formidable journey through the mountainous tract, in search of a more pacific part of the river, which should permit a new embarkation. From the natives he could obtain no information of the smallest value.
· The impossibility of procuring information to be at all depended on from the natives, respecting the course of the river or the nature of the country, proceeds equally from their want of curiosity, extreme indolence, and constant state of war with each other. Hence I have never been able to procure a guide farther than from banza to banza, or at the utmost a day's journey; for at every banza we were assured that, after passing the next, we should get into the Bushmen's country, where they would be in danger of being shot or kidnapped. All my endeavours to find a slave-trader who knew something of the river have been fruitless. It appears that the people of Congo never go themselves for slaves, but that they are always brought to them by those they call Bushmen.'
In the course of this laborious preliminary excursion up the river, Capt. T. found very strong indications of its having in some remote age run in a channel much higher than its present one. He reasonably infers that there was at that time a proportionally higher precipice at Yellala, so that the cataract bad once a magnificence worthy of loftier epithets than any now applied to it in the exaggerations of the Cougo people. He also met with ominous intimations, such as a violent fever which seized Mr. Tudor, the surgeon, a want of timber for the con• struction of any kind of vessels for navigation, a scarcity of water in the places where the river could not be approached, and a destitution of provisions, of which he found there would be no possibility of obtaining a sufficient supply for the daily expenditure of twenty men. He learned that this penury
of the country, and its burnt-up appearance, were partly the consequence of a deficiency of rain during the last two years. The datives expected the next rainy season to be proportionally violent. They say that every tbird or fourth year the river
rises considerably higher than in the intermediate ones; and " this accounts for the different elevation of the marks on the * rocks.? The population was found extremely thin, and collected into little knots, in the nature of gentlemen's towns.' The people were almost naked, and but very slightly supplied with European, or indeed, any other articles.
· The extent of fertile land is, however, capable, with very mode. rate industry, of supporting a great increase of population, not the hundredth part of what we have passed over being made any use of whatever. The plateaus appear to be well adapted for wheat, and certainly all the garden vegetables of Europe might be produced here in perfection, as well as potatoes.' • The only trees that grow to a large size are the Adansonia and the Bombax, (or wild cotton,) and the wood of both is spongy and useless.”
The constitution of government in Congo, is a thing nearly as soon described as one of these trees, or one of the people's few habiliments or utensils. It consists of hereditary fiefs, or Chenooships, under a 'paramount sovereign named Lindy, or
Blindy N'Congo.' The civil and domestic economy is also a matter of much simplicity. Slaves seem to form the sinews of the state.
• Slavery is here of two kinds, which may be denominated household or domestic, and trading. When a young man is of age to begin the world, his father or guardian gives him the means of purchasing a number of slaves of each sex, in proportion to his quality, from whom he breeds his domestic slaves, and these (though it does not appear that he is bound by any particular law,) he never sells or transfers unless in cases of misbehaviour, when he holds a palaver, at which they are tried and sentenced. These domestic slaves are, however, sometimes pawned for debt, but are always redeemed as soon as possible.'
Of the slaves purchased of the itinerant black merchants, some are such as have been condemned for crimes, some taken in war, but by far the greatest number are bush.game, or persons kidnapped. Captain T. asserts that while the great men’ of the country, as well as the merchants, are interested in the contipuance of the slave trade, the people at large desire its extinction, as being the principal cause of their wars. He predicts, however, that the malignant effects of its prevalence for three centuries, will be very long in wearing away after the abolition -should that ever be really accomplished. He adds, ' In fact,
if we mean to accelerate the progress of ciyilization, it can only be done by colonization, and certainly there could not be a better point to commence at than the banks of the Zaire.'
The crimes in such a state of society, cannot be of any great variety. The capital ones punished, in their highest degrees,